Keeping Ourselves Honest as Judges

A few weeks ago, I was reading a column in another show dog publication in which the author said, in effect, that owner-handlers need to stop whining about professional handlers winning all the time because the dogs shown by the professional handlers are better trained, better trimmed, better presented, and they move better, so obviously they are going to win the majority of the time.

Not a single word was mentioned about the actual breed quality of the exhibits being shown by the professionals. No discussion about breed standards, breed-specific traits, breed-specific movement or breed-specific grooming. Just better shown, better trained, better trimmed and apparently better leash trained. In that author’s opinion, I guess that is what makes a great show dog and one that should win frequently. Have we come to a point in the dog show world where breed standards are obsolete? Should we just toss the standards and have competitions solely judged on condition, trim and grand showmanship?

via Keeping Ourselves Honest as Judges.

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A Prairie Dobe Companion: In Defense of Owner-Trained Service Dogs

Leah at A Prairie Dobe Companion has been featured on my blog before.  She’s and I align so closely in dog opinions sometimes that I think she’s kinda like me, but with Dobies.  Please read this important blog post on owner-trained service dogs, because the loss of OTSDs would make the lives of many, many disabled handlers immeasurably more difficult.

Unfortunately, there are several service dog programs with powerful lobbyists who label all owner-trained service dogs as “fake.” These programs seek to make owner-training impossible by encouraging legislation against owner-training, as well as banning the sale of vests, patches, and mobility equipment to the public.Trust me, we owner-trainers hate fakers too, but eliminating owner-training is not the answer to the “Faker Problem” in this country. Program dogs are not always as well-trained as one might expect, and program dogs are only as good as the programs that train them.There are many reasons why someone may choose to owner-train as opposed to getting a dog from a program. This blog post covers just a few of those reasons.

via A Prairie Dobe Companion: In Defense of Owner-Trained Service Dogs.

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Do You Know a Fat Dog When You See One?

Canine obesity is not a joking matter, and it is often considered both a welfare and a quality-of-life issue. Obesity can predispose dogs to serious health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, joint and bone disorders as well as shortened lifespan (typically by about two years). Canine obesity “is increasingly considered a significant animal welfare issue, such that overfeeding can be characterised as being as cruel as underfeeding (RSPCA 2008).”

via Do You Know a Fat Dog When You See One? | Dog Spies, Scientific American Blog Network.

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Update on Jackson’s dental extraction

Jackson Carnassial Gap

A reader asked for a picture of Jackson’s mouth now that the abscessed carnassial tooth has been extracted.  Click the photo for a larger view.  The two tiny blue arrows point to the clear dissolvable sutures visible in the space where the tooth used to be.

I’m seeing a little more tartar on his lower pre-molars than I would like, so time to step up the brushing AND I’ll probably schedule a dental cleaning for him concurrent with his yearly checkup next spring.  However, his upper  pre-molars look great.

While I’m no dental expert, this looks very good to me and the gum is healing well.  It took three hands to move his lips out of the way enough to be visible, but Jackson is a good boy and very tolerant.  I’m very happy with his recovery.

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A white spotted Canaan Dog

Canine Emergency Papers Kit – updated

In March, I linked to another blog’s suggestion on how to create an emergency travel kit for your dog(s).  Mine is a folder that I keep in the car at all times, in the pocket behind the driver’s seat.  I said in my previous post that:

I’m in the process of putting one together for my three dogs; I have a folder with a copy of their registration and latest rabies vaccination certificate.  I still need to put together recent photos and information about the dogs that includes information like their microchip numbers, their temperament information, and an emergency contact list.

As often happens, finishing the emergency kit got put by the wayside.  However, it was very handy on Saturday because I could provide proof of Clover’s vaccination status immediately at the emergency vet’s office, and I got lucky because her 3yr rabies certificate included the date of her 1 year rabies vaccination as well, which means I could show that there were no gaps in her vaccination record.

Today I revisited my emergency papers kit and made copies of the 1 year vaccination certificates for Jackson and Clover to add to my folder, just in case.  You don’t want to be in a situation where you need to provide that information, but it is incredibly handy to have it when you need it.

I still need to get on adding up-to-date photos of the dogs, though.

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Show report: Springfield, MA

So, after letting Loki take nearly two whole months off from the New England show scene, we were back in Springfield this weekend for two days.  Saturday’s show was hosted by the Newtown Kennel Club (results), and Sunday’s by the Elm City Kennel Club (results).

Saturday was one of those lovely show days when Rhodesian Ridgebacks weren’t on until mid-day, and it was a club supported entry.  So we could get up, take our time getting ready, and then make our way out to Springfield at our leisure.  I intended on this weekend being a tune-up for the RRCUS 2014 National Specialty, but as I explained previously, our attendance at that show is currently very much up in the air.

On Saturday, Loki would be one of three dogs entered in the 12-18 month class (see my greatly simplified explanation of how dog shows work).  He was awarded second place in his class, knocking us out of the running for the 3 points available on Saturday in dogs (which would count as a major).  Because we left Jackson and Clover at home on Saturday, we had to leave immediately after breed judging to let the older dogs out.  I like to watch group and Best in Show judging when I can, but that was not in the cards on Saturday.

We planned to bring all three dogs with us on Sunday, because my dear friend Caryl-Rose was coming to see us at the show (and she had a friend of hers in tow).  Then Clover had to go and pick a fight with a stray cat …  Well.  Suffice to say she got crated and left at home, and we took Jackson with us to Springfield on Sunday.

Sunday Loki and brothers Raylan and Dante were the three entrants in the 12-18 month class.  Loki won his class, making us eligible to compete in the Winners Dog class.  I always get a teeny bit nervous when we go in the ring. There had been a major in dogs on Sunday as well, but the major broke, leaving the dogs in the Winners class competing for two points.  It turns out that judge Richard J. Berger liked Loki enough to put him up for Winners Dog, bringing Loki’s total number of championship points earned to four.

<cue the dramatic music here>

Buuuut … there was also a major in bitches on Sunday.  And AKC rules make it so that if a dog (or bitch) wins on the crossover, it counts as a major for the dog (or bitch) that is awarded Best of Winners.  So, if Loki could go Best of Winners, then he would pick up an additional point toward his championship, and it would qualify as one of the two major wins that he needs.

The little bit more nervous I felt for the Winners class ratcheted up to a higher level of tension.  There was a bit of confusion over whether or not the major held in bitches as we went into the Breed ring — first the word around the ring was yes, the major held.  And then in the ring I was told, no, the major had broken in bitches.  Even though the major had broken, I decided to go ahead and fight for Best of Winners anyway — it was the most sportsmanlike thing I could do.  Loki had been showing his heart out for me all day long, so all we needed to do was keep it going for just a few minutes longer.

Loki did not let me down — he continued to show like the trooper I know him to be, and we were awarded Best of Winners.  Go Loki go! On the way out of the ring, as I handed our ribbons over to Nathan, one of the other exhibitors was telling Marsa that the steward had miscounted the number of bitches, and in fact the major HAD held.  Loki had just won his first major!

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We gave Jackson and Loki a quick potty break before we did a little shopping with Caryl-Rose and company, and then I made sure we walked past the superintendent’s table on our way out the door so I could check the sheets and confirm the major held in bitches.  I had to grab another exhibitor to show me how to read the sheets, but confirm it I did.

With Sunday’s win, Loki now stands at 5 points (of 15 needed), and 1 major (of two needed).  He’s trucking right along toward that championship, and we couldn’t be more proud of our big brown hound!

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Clover soft cone

This is the sound of an epic face palm

Saturday morning, around 7 am, I let the dogs out into the backyard. In the backyard was a cat.  Clover stopped at the gate and looked at the cat.  The cat looked back at Clover.  Then the cat bolted toward the back fence, and Clover caught it just as it tried going up and over the fence.

I ran after her, futilely yelling, “Clover, no!!”  I heard very little noise from the cat, which is never a good sign.  Animals that are fighting for their life rarely waste energy and breath on screaming.  Clover screamed, though.  I got to Clover, grabbed her, and she released the cat, which scuttled under the back fence.  Then I hoisted Clover into the air and brought her inside the house to check her over.  I was looking for scratches and blood, which is how I missed finding the puncture wounds on her front legs and right shoulder.

I found those later, after the leg had started swelling and she started limping.  Cat bites (scratches, too, but especially bites) are nasty.  All animals, people included, harbor a lot of bacteria in our mouths.  Cats have tiny little sharp fangs though, that can puncture deep into flesh and carry that bacteria deep under skin and muscle, where it rapidly multiplies and forms an abscess.  Fortunately for us (and Clover), we caught this well before things had a chance to even progress toward that point.  Unfortunately for our wallet, our regular vet was closed by the time we realized Clover would need professional attention, so it was off to the emergency vet.

Prior to heading to the vet, while examining the swelling on Clover’s left front leg, we found four punctures.  While in the waiting room, we found a scratch on the top of her head.  While in the exam room, we discovered another puncture at the point of her right elbow, and another on her right shoulder.  Let me remind you that I missed ALL of these during my initial examination immediately after the fight.  Puncture wounds can be extremely difficult to find, especially if they don’t bleed much.

The vet that examined Clover then proceeded to add insult to injury (lol, see what I did there) by first letting me know that because the vaccination status of the cat was unknown, we’d need to booster Clover’s rabies vaccination — as required by law.  All in all, this isn’t a terrible thing since her 3 year booster was coming up next February anyway.  She just ended up getting it a few months early.

No, the real bomb was when she dropped the q-word on me:  quarantine.  As in, a 45 day mandatory quarantine.  As in, Massachusetts requires the animal to be quarantined in the owner’s home, or boarded at an animal hospital or approved boarding kennel.  If I want to board her at a kennel not in our township, we have to have approval to transport her from the animal inspector.  And if we were moving out of state, our local animal inspector would have to get transport approval from the Department of Health in the state that we were moving to.

Some of you will know where this is going already and I can hear you groaning in sympathy.  Amy was going to board Clover for us while Jackson and Loki went with us to the RRCUS 2014 National Specialty in Salt Lake City, UT.  Amy is Clover’s co-owner, which satisfies the requirement that she be quarantined in the owner’s home, but … Amy lives in Connecticut.  And we live in Massachusetts.

The animal inspector is supposed to call me on Monday, as part of the rabies protocol for Massachusetts.  I’m going to ask if we can still board Clover in CT for our trip, but I’m preparing myself for the answer to be no, which means no specialty for Loki this year.  It’s not the end of the world — the specialty for 2015 is in Rhode Island!

As for Clover, she’s on antibiotics to prevent the development of any abscesses and she’s got painkillers as needed, plus a soft cone to prevent her from licking her wounds.  She is looking pretty ridiculous, since her wounds needed to be shaved for the vet to examine them.  We got off pretty lightly though — none of them required stitches or drains.  Going forward for the next 45 days she’s only allowed to leave the house for on-leash potty breaks in our yard.  And the vet has her on exercise restriction while her legs heal.

The funniest conversation of the night came when the sweet (very young) vet discovered that Clover competes in conformation — she was inquiring about Clover’s vaccination status and I sent Nate out to the car to grab the emergency paperwork folder.  I mentioned to the vet that I keep a folder with each dog’s proof of vaccination, town license, and AKC registration in case we ever got into an accident on the way to a show, and she immediately got a worried look on her face.  “When are you planning on showing Clover again?” she asked.  I kinda cocked my head and said, “Well … not in the next 45 days now…”

She looked really pained and unhappy as she said she was going to have to shave Clover to examine the wounds.  I just laughed and said she could go ahead and do whatever she needed to do.  Hair regrows.

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Stoned, Immaculate | furklempt.

For me, overcoming the, “What do you mean, my dog needs Prozac?” issue was a struggle since I, myself, don’t like taking meds for anything. I would prefer–and wouldn’t we all?–to have a perfectly healthy dog who doesn’t need any sort of pharmacological intervention. But I don’t have that. I have a dog who needed more help than any sort of training, alone, could provide, and I had to decide between giving him that help, or doing nothing and hoping that his truly awful interaction with the world around him would just magically disappear and, more importantly, not cause him continued pain and stress. In my mind, failure was not admitting that he needed that extra help. Failure would have been to refuse that help and continue allowing him to lead an uncomfortable, perhaps even psychologically harmful, life. When you look at it like that, the choice shouldn’t be a difficult one.

via Stoned, Immaculate | furklempt..

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Feeding Your Canine Athlete – NYTimes.com

Q.  What about protein? How important is it?

A.  Vital. Athletic dogs need protein to build and maintain muscle. In general, their diet should consist of at least 25 percent protein, preferably from meat. In one study, dogs fed plant-based soy protein experienced far more musculoskeletal injuries than dogs consuming meat protein.

via Feeding Your Canine Athlete – NYTimes.com.

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life is better when your paws are muddy