Wednesday, February 26, 2014

EverythingDogBlog #136: Dogs. Of course!


(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: De-Lightful Dog Logo - Dogs of Course

"Come. Stay. Learn"

Dogs of Course: "Dog Training Seminars, Instructor Courses, K9 Nose Work Camps"


For professional and hobby trainers, Dogs of Course has offered dog training instructor courses, behavior and training seminars and workshops, and K9 Nose Work experiences all over the country for 15 years. Owned and run by Dana C. Crevling, Dogs of Course is dedicated to improving dogs' lives through education and building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Dog-related charitable activities are a large part of her business as well.

The Logo

Crevling recently told EverythingDogBlog that her current logo is the second generation of one previously used just for the Instructor Training Course.

Her business’ first logo was a drawing similar to the present one but too detailed: with a new artist, Crevling wanted a cleaner look yet in keeping with the same basic idea – education, but having fun while learning.

I think the Dogs of Course logo fits that to a T, don’t you?

Crevling selected a generic dog with a broad appeal to convey the image of a happy dog because Dogs of Course promotes dog-friendly techniques to ensure that learning is as fun for the dog as it is for the human.

Gold-Hearted

Did you notice the little gold heart on the dog’s ID tag on the Dogs of Course webpage? This signifies the love and commitment Crevling and her presenters have for dogs and their people. I can vouch that this comes across in her business: I have attended the Dogs of Course’s instructor training course, seminars and K9 Nose Work workshops. All I can say is they are fun and educational. I still network with friends I met through Crevling 10 years ago. Her warmth and genuineness comes through with flying colors.

The Colored Logo – In Action!

The logo color on the webpages is a bit more distinctive than other commonly used colors. I invite you to visit the Dogs of Course website (www.dogsofcourse.com) and watch the stars twinkle, the dog flip the bone into the air and catch it, and his tail wag!

(This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 26 February 2014.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: Facing Farewell (dogs, cats, end-of-life decisions)


Facing Farewell*, by Julie Reck, DVM (Dogwise, 2012, 70 pages, $11.95)


Saying ‘Goodbye’ to your pet after a lifetime of memories: How and when. . . .

A Book You Need to Get Before You Need to Get It

Rarely does a dog book come along with the potential to help so many people (and dogs) as Facing Farewell can. The end-of-life decision that we often have to make for our dogs is never easy, sometimes paralyzing - even verging on the traumatic - and always comes too soon but Dr. Julie Reck’s book goes a long way towards putting your mind at ease, helping you make this difficult final decision by explaining the procedure and including worksheets for planning ahead. To call this book exceptional is an understatement.

The Most Difficult Part of Living with a Dog: Saying Goodbye

More than half of all American families have dogs and, since dogs have shorter lifespans than we do, most of us have to face the decision of goodbye but how and when are questions that can tear us apart at the time and lead us to second guess for quite a while afterwards.

A Little Book to Savor. . .

From the memorable cover to the delightful dedication to the “Commitment” pledge to the lovely quotes and meaningful photos to the useful worksheets in the appendix and throughout, Facing Farewell is almost a workbook in itself to help you make advanced decisions you can live with, not easily perhaps but well and with compassion, because you have thought things through beforehand. Your decisions will be made in plenty of time, with knowledge, care, consideration, concern, and kindness for your dog.

. . . in Five Short Chapters – Just the Right Length

Dr. Reck begins her book comparing our concept of life and death, living and dying, with that of our dogs’ – they feel pain but have no concept of death. A worksheet in this chapter helps us understand our life cycle and life span in relationship with our dogs and how quickly they age. For example, Sam came to me at age 7, so, being a golden retriever, he was about 63 human years old when he came into my life to live with me.

Chapter two explains the euthanasia procedure and choices, as well as decisions afterwards in layman’s detail. Reck put this chapter up front, believing that knowledge and understanding will help us cope better and make more appropriate decisions later. By focusing on the practical, the client can then work through the emotional more easily and wisely. Although I am one to need the facts and details and can understand the science and medicine, I also see some readers skipping or postponing this chapter and still keeping Facing Farewell on their bookshelf as a constant available resource. Reck writes this chapter and the entire book with warmth, understanding and calming acceptance of her clients.

But, How Will I Know When. . . ?

We want to relieve our animals of as much pain as we can whenever we can. We love them – we feed them, walk them, play with them, and take care of their health to the best of our ability. We want to protect them from pain just as we want the same for our children, but dogs (and cats) cannot tell us where it hurts. As a matter of fact, they have been conditioned over generations to hide their pain.

Pain is the subject of chapter three: how to recognize it in the head area, the body and limbs, and the hind end and tail of both dogs and cats. A body chart of both animals is shown with symptoms for each body part. Also included are assessment sheets to fill out periodically so comparisons can be made: e.g., “Is my pet in more pain now than he was two weeks ago?”

Three Categories of Best Friend

In the fourth chapter, Dr. Reck takes up the cases of young pets with serious medical issues, senior pets with terminal illnesses, and senior pets in general with charts to help you assess your sick or senior pet’s quality of life, again with several copies to help you determine the direction of change, if any.

The appendix contains additional worksheets and questionnaires to fill out with your veterinarian’s information, as well as space for memories of your best friend. Dr. Reck also includes questions we may not have thought about.

Top Five

Facing Farewell may just be the best twelve dollars I have ever spent! It’s on my list of Five All-Time Best Dog Books. Put it on your list, too.

*Although Facing Farewell is reviewed here as a dog book, it also pertains to our favorite felines, and contains sections and worksheets on cats.

Also of note (to be reviewed in the future): When Your Dog has Cancer: Making the Right Decisions for You and Your Dog, by Lola Bell (available through the same publisher, Dogwise, at www.dogwise.com)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Bloodhound in Blue (dog, police search dog)


Bloodhound in Blue: The True Tales of Police Dog JJ and his Two-Legged Partner, by Adam Russ (Globe Pequot, 2013, 274 pages, $24.95)


Utah’s First Police Bloodhound - A Nose with a Dog Attached!

When we think of Bloodhounds we think of police search dogs (and perhaps McGruff, the Crime Dog) but very few police departments have Bloodhounds on the force. Rather, they have German Shepherd Dogs (basically non-sniffer dogs - patrol dogs who chase, hold and sometimes bite) and closely related breeds to carry out other functions (get the bad guy!).

Bloodhound in Blue is the story of JJ, a family-trained family pet who became a highly valued member of a Utah police department through the determination, patience and self-training of his person, Officer Serio, with emphasis on the word, patience.

JJ at work was a non-biting dog and, therefore, not a weapon. He was a mellow, four-legged monster, a highly gifted and trained ‘finder.’ He was the only police Bloodhound in Utah for five years, beginning as a contract ‘employee,’ until his legacy expanded exponentially and lives on, to this day, years later.

JJ found suspects who fled on foot, as well as lost persons. He caught the bad guy 90% of the time, more than most officers put together and, no doubt, the ones JJ found would have gotten away. He averaged 32 finds a year and gained the respect of fellow patrol officers, which finally helped to bring administrators on board to the idea of having Bloodhounds on the force. Now (2013) there are 16 K9 bloodhounds in the area.

If Bloodhound in Blue doesn’t whet your appetite to further your recently acquired extensive knowledge about tracking, I’ll eat my hat! However, at the conclusion of this book you may just want to major in forensic anthropology or become a police officer yourself. That would be just fine.

How Do They Do It?

You will learn about scent clouds that we all give off, how odors do not tend to stick to concrete very well, how to begin laying a track for a novice dog, the difference between schutzhund and patrol and sniffer dogs, what mantrailing is, and much about canine body language (sometimes overruled by humans, but the dog is always right).

The Breed Standard

This goofy breed, the Bloodhound, ranks 43rd in popularity yet just about everyone recognizes him thanks to famous Bloodhounds at work and in literature.

Author Adam Russ, childhood friend and college roommate but, nonetheless, a gifted writer, used a unique method to keep our attention on the Bloodhound breed: each chapter is aptly preceded by part of the AKC (American Kennel Club) Bloodhound Breed Standard, such as gait or temperament, weight or color.

Not Just Another Book on Search and Rescue Dogs

A good adjunct to What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs, by Cat Warren, which also came out in 2013, Bloodhound is, however, the more entertaining and educational of the two.

You will remain fascinated by the facts about tracking, odor spread, and canine noses, long after you finally put Bloodhound down.

Final Word – Excellent!

A book about a dog should be mainly about the dog and many are not: my pet peeve. Bloodhound, however, is - and includes just the right number of perfectly-sized family photos to keep the reader’s interest.

One of the best dog books of 2013!

Disclaimer: I purchased this book for review. It first appeared on www.DogEvals.BlogSpot.com.

Caveat: Officer Serio was told to get a search-and-rescue vest (page 48) for JJ in order to take him more places than the average pet dog was allowed. This is not an ethical practice. In addition, JJ was trained with electric shock (page 69) rather than force-free gentle methods. The shock was called, ‘mild but uncomfortable.’ However, it must be remembered that JJ began his career several years ago, before positive reinforcement caught on in the law enforcement field.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

EverythingDogBlog #134 - Pets Need Dental Care, Too


(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday – De-Lightful Dog Logo
It’s February so that must mean Pet Dental Health Month! Good oral health is necessary for good overall health and nutrition for our best friends - it plays a very important role.
As a reminder, click on this link to see the HillsPet-designed logo for Pet Dental Health Month, which has been recently ‘modernized.’ You will see this logo all over the Internet, all month long!
The aqua color matches the color of the ‘t/d’ ‘name’ on the package of Hill’s canine prescription diet* for oral health, t/d® Canine Dental Health. You can also purchase other Hill’s dog food products including treats with dental health benefits for your special canine through pet specialty retailers.
My Pet Store and More!
The most popular dental products at My Pet Store and More on Route 40 in Ellicott City, Maryland, are made by Ark Naturals - Plaque Zapper (a water additive, with no odor or taste) and toothpaste chews. According to owner Chris Houk, this fun and colorful store (my description) also carries the Tropiclean dental kits and gel (and specializes in all animals – even horses and fish). If they don’t have it, they can get it for you!
Rope toys are also a great way to keep a dog’s teeth and gums clean and healthy (they work like dental floss but must be used with supervision, of course, especially if your dog is a destroyer-dog).
Of course there are many other toys, toothbrushes, finger brushes and treats to help with your canine’s teeth care. Stop in and ask Chris!
Clipper’s Canine Cafe 
Kate Bowman of Clipper’s Canine CafĂ© in Savage, Maryland, recently told EverythingDogBlog that they stock all sorts of different products for teeth - dental bones, toothpaste and toothbrushes, dental wipes, dental supplements, etc., AND they will all be 15% off for the rest of the month! Still plenty of time to visit Clipper and stock up for your dog’s health!

Clipper the Lab is celebrating his 12th birthday this Saturday from 12-3pm. Come help him! And while you are there, meet some of America's other favorite dogs, the beagles, from the Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland from 1-3 pm.
*sold only through veterinarians
(logo: credit - Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the Science Diet, Ideal Balance, and Prescription Diet people)

Monday, February 17, 2014

EverythingDogBlog: Is Your Dog Prepared?

Is your cat prepared for a CATastrophe?
EverythingDogBlog #133: What would happen to your dog, if. . . . ?
A few years ago, the townhouse of a dog-sitting client (and friend) burned down, with her dog inside. Needless to say, she was devastated.
And last weekend, a serious fire across the street from us displaced tenants from 24 units. People lost everything, due to either the fire (upper two floors) or water damage to the ground level units. The burned-out building looked like a war scene and smelled like a campfire. Streetlights are still out, adding to the surrealism when we walk our dogs in the evening.
Walking Mia-the-Lab the morning after the fire, I met a woman who still had not located her cat so I eased her mind and gave her information for the county animal shelter and a pet tracker I know.
Are You Prepared?
What would happen to your pets if there was a catastrophe at your home during the day while you are away? Would anyone know to look for them?
Simple Peace of Mind – For Free!
A simple solution that goes a long way toward giving you peace of mind is to put a notice on your doors (and windows) that there are pets inside: dogs, cats, and number. You can get just such a decal from the ASPCA, called the Pet Safety Pack. It’s free and also comes with a magnet with the pet poison control number on it. 
Googling 'pet inside decal' helped me locate numerous other pet alert stickers and vinyl decals for all prices. Now you have no excuse - protect your pet. I sincerely hope a catastrophe never happens to you but you will feel better knowing someone will know your pets are home.

(This article first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 17 February 2014. Photo of pet alert decal from the ASPCA website.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Westminster's Winners, Numbers and Judging

EverythingDogBlog #132: Congratulations, Sky!

Sky won Best in Show
And the grand champion winner, Best in Show (see photo posters from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Facebook page) at Westminster 2014 last night, was Sky, a Wire Fox Terrier (no relation to this writer), Terrier Number 11 (a Skye Terrier was selected for second place in the Terrier Group. Again, no relation to this writer).
Sky won the Terrier Group
Sky will be seen all over Manhattan today beginning with the morning television shows and like some previous winners, most notably Uno the Beagle, may make a circuit of the country during the year, appearing on local TV shows, in parades and for other dog world public relations functions. 
More Wire Fox Terriers have won Best in Show than any other breed, even the ever popular Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers who have yet to win.
Finalists
Also taking part in last night’s Best in Show were Toy Min Pin Number 5, Hound Bloodhound Number 5, Non-Sporting Group Standard Poodle Number 30, Herding Group Cardigan Welsh Corgi Number 25 (see yesterday’s article for their photos), Sporting Group’s Irish Water Spaniel Number 6, and Working Group Portuguese Water Dog Number 14 for the second year (this breed also lives in the White House).
Why the Numbers?
Numbers take up less room than full names or even call names and are unique. At Westminster the first few numbers, single digits, go to the dogs with the best record of wins over the past year, and, finally, numbers are used to hopefully increase objectivity of the judging. 
Judging, however, still remains perhaps more subjective than even Olympic figure skating! No points are actually given for a dog satisfying one part of the standard or another and, often, judges will ‘put up’ different dogs for the blue ribbon (on different days, though, with a different field of competitors).
People who are seriously into showing dogs and winning in the conformation ring will ‘campaign’ their dogs – purchase full-page photos in dog magazines and thoroughly research the judges’ preferences and the other competitors. Some judges are aware of some dogs (and handlers), therefore, and of their win-lose records. Handlers, also, vary in competence (and price) and skill. 
Professional’ show dogs may be on the road 50 weeks a year with dog shows around the country nearly every weekend. This sport can cost thousands of dollars which is why so many of these dogs are co-owned or have multiple (financial) owners.
How Does a Judge Judge?

I have attended judging seminars and, often, after a judge judged, he (or she) would tell the class of prospective judges how he made his decision but it was never very helpful to me. 
Sometimes the judge was looking for features to disqualify a dog. Sometimes a judge would say that a dog would just be on his best behavior and show his best, happy to be in the ring. His personality would be obvious: his body language would literally ask for the win. Sometimes (not often) a dog would be in better shape or his coat would be in better condition than the other dogs. Sometimes the winner just 'moved' best. 
Of course, it was a combination of those things as well as the dog’s meeting most of  the standard for the breed better than the other entrants. 
Being a scientist, well-versed in statistics and experimental design, this doesn’t sit well with me – not being able to quantify or replicate a decision, especially when two judges might disagree (they never have more than one judge, though).
Last Thought
If a lab or golden isn’t Best of Show, the next best thing is either a Skye Terrier or a dog named Skye or Sky!
(This article first appeared in ColumbiaPatch.con on February 12, 2014.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Which Westminster Dog are You?


EverythingDogBlog #131: Seven Groups of Dogs – Which One are You?

At the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show yesterday and today you are viewing dog after dog and trying to compare them to see if your decision agrees with the judge’s. Dogs compete in breed first, then group, then on to Best in Show. There are seven groups of dogs in the US: Toy, Hound, Non-Sporting, Herding, Terrier, Sporting and Working. Which one are you?
You have your favorites but have you ever wondered what dog you would be if you were a dog? What breed group is closest to your personality?
Dogs differ just as individual humans do but there are some group characteristics in common. Take this simple ‘test’ and find out which group of dogs you belong to!
Thanks to Dogster for the Dog Breed Group Personality Quiz. Perhaps it will teach you more about yourself! Regardless, it will be fun to talk about and compare. Be sure to scroll down and look at the ‘badges.’
(This article first appeared in ColumbiaPatch.com on 11 February 2014.)

Westminster 2014, Day One Results


EverythingDogBlog #130: Westminster Winners, Day 1 
Last night on TV, the following dogs won their Groups:
For the Hounds, GCH Flessner's International S'Cess "Nathan." 
In the Toy Group, Classie, a Min Pin (Miniature Pinscher), the top Min Pin of all time.
Among the Non-Sporting breeds, the winner was Ally, a Standard Poodle, in her last show.
And for the Herding Group, Coco, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. This is the first time a CWC has won Best of Group.
Congratulations, all.
And now, for today!
There are seven groups at dog shows. The first day at Westminster focuses on four groups while today will 'show' the other three groups, breed by breed during the day. In the evening, the breed winners compete for Best in Group (7) and then Best in Show (BIS) of the seven Group winners.
Tune in tonight from 8-11 pm ET on the USA Network for the Group finals of the Sporting Dogs, the Terriers and Working Group. The finals for the junior handlers will be at 7:30 (91 youngsters were entered) and if you turn on your TV around 10 pm, you will see the Final Seven, one of whom will be judged Best in Show!
Aren't these Facebook 'posters' fantastic! 
(This article first appeared in ColumbiaPatch.com on 11 February 2014.)

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Dog, by Any Other Name (or, Dogs by the Numbers)


EverythingDogBlog #111: Westminster - What Do All Those Letters Mean? And What About the Numbers?
Sensation, Logo of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show


The world of dog shows is a mystery to many. Here are a few clues to help you “enjoy the show.” Below is a typical entry in the program at Westmister (I have taken liberties and fabricated this dog.)

   7     GCH Sweet Polly Purebread
   Breed: Rottweiler
   Sex: Bitch
   AKC: DN 20141948
   Date of 

Birth: May 24, 2010
   Breeder: Jane Doe
   Sire: Ch Sweet President Buckeye
   Dam: Bo Peep
   Owner: John Smith
   Photos: Breed Judging

Letters Before, Letters After
Letters before a dog’s name can be CH or GCH for champion or grand champion.  You (the dog, that is) have to be a champion to be shown at Westminster in conformation.
After a dog’s name you might see CGC – Canine Good Citizen. The dog has passed a test indicating his owner is a responsible pet owner and the dog is calm in crowds, is neither afraid of nor aggressive to people, can be petted, groomed and examined at the vet clinic, is not easily startled – and has passed other similar skill tests. For some dogs, the CGC may appear before the name, depending on when the CGC was obtained. There are also letters indicating obedience and rally skill, among others.
What’s in a Name Anyway?
The first part of the name is generally the name of the breeder’s kennel (LazyRiver or Hobarra or Sweetwater) while the remainder of the name belongs to that particular dog. So a dog might be named Bramver’s Royal Tuxedo (perhaps Roy or Tux for short) or Harbor’s Sky-Blue Pink (perhaps Sky for short, the ‘call name’).
Sometimes the order is reversed, giving us Stingray of Derryabah who may be called Ray or Derry or something else entirely (but never late for dinner!)
It is becoming common for a litter to have puppies’ names following a theme or all starting with the same letter. You might have a baseball theme with Batter, Babe, Catcher, Ruth and Jackie or an S-litter with Shayla, Skylar, Sandy, Simon and Sparky.
There is also a letter-limit imposed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) so you won’t be seeing a dog named “Blue Harbor’s Eye in the Sky Above Beautiful Downtown Manhattan in Winter”!
Thank goodness!
And Now, for the Numbers!
Handlers, the people on the ‘other end of the leash’ wear a number on their upper left arm, held on by a rubber band. This is the number of the dog. You will hear David Frei, the Voice of Westminster, referring to Cavalier King Charles Spaniel number 4 or Labrador Retriever number 9.
The first few single-digit numbers are reserved for the ‘top dogs’ – the five or so dogs in the breed who won so many shows during the year that they received an automatic invitation to Westmister, if they choose to attend. Other dogs in each breed, champions all, get to Westminster either by lottery or first-come, first-served status.
Judging
A judge will spend about two minutes on each dog (or bitch if it is a female – really!) He will count teeth, determine if the animal has been spayed or neutered (not!), feel bone structure and musculature, and watch the dog move from the front, the back and the side.
There, You Have
it! Now, Enjoy the show!

(This first appeared in ColumbiaPatch.com on 10 February 2014.) (Logo credit Westminster Kennel Club)