Wednesday, December 31, 2014

No Resolutions!

It's New Years Eve. This is the time of year when people make resolutions in hopes of being a better person in the following year. I do it every year, and I fail miserably. It's not that I want to, it's just that life gets in the way and all my good intentions are pushed aside. You're welcome to check out my delusions of grandeur for 2013 and 2014, but let me give you the Reader's Digest version: weigh less, save more and be more consistent with dog training. And yet here I sit -- again -- overweight, broke, with a pair of dogs that still can't walk nicely on a leash. *sigh* So this year I'm ditching the resolutions. Instead, I'm taking a page from some of my favorite bloggers and recapping the most popular Kelley's Dog Blog posts of 2014. Did you see any of these?

  • Apparently people are amused by my crazy job because It's True! and Freaks on the Beach were shared a lot. Luckily there is a never ending supply of weird work stories. In fact, just last week I found a note on my office door that said "Pig tied to a trailer, 900 block of Flower Street." Of course there wasn't and address, nor was there a pig when I drove down the street. I knocked on several doors before I found Kuzma.


  • My most popular posts, however, are of Jedi and Roxy having fun. Jedi Plays Spin the Bottle had the most views and shares this year. A friend of mine actually built the toy from a video I found on Facebook. 


Beat the Heat Fun wasn't far behind in popularity. This post came about on a hot Florida day when I said to Hubby "Hey, let's fill the dogs' pool with ice and see what happens." I still laugh when I look at the pictures.


  • And much to Jedi's dismay, others like seeing him dressed up in funny hats as much as I do, so there will probably be more like A Special Greeting From Jedi in 2015.


  • Probably my most heartfelt post this year was 25 Years, 47 Dead, and 1 Personal Miracle where I shared how one random decision spared my family from the tragedy of the USS Iowa explosion. Thanks to everybody who forwarded that post. I hope that somehow it reaches the Ziegler family. God bless them, wherever they are. 

 

So, that was 2014. Thanks for sharing it with me. I hope you'll stick around because I plan on having even more fun in 2015, and I'd love to have you join me. See you next year! -- K

Monday, December 29, 2014

Awww....Made Me Cry!

Do you want to make an animal control officer cry like a baby? Send an email like this:
Hi Kelley,

In 2007 I adopted a poodle-mix from your shelter. You had listed him on Petfinder under the name Kelso. I didn't get to meet you when I picked him up, but you kindly spoke with me about the dog on the phone in advance.

You might remember because I was "crazy" enough to drive 4 hours from Jupiter to come get him. He is THE BEST dog ever!!! You definitely make a difference. I have wanted to thank you ever since.

With much gratitude,
[name withheld]
This came to the email address attached to my blog (not my official work email) the day after Christmas. I tear up every time I read it. And look, she sent a picture too!


His new name is Jackson. Look how cute he turned out to be!

It's kind of sad funny, because I'm always ready to deal with nasty people. They may piss me off but I never cry. In fact, sometimes I find going toe to toe with those kind of people a bit exhilarating. Stupid people don't make me cry either. They may be frustrating, but I tell myself that "You can't fix stupid" and move on. But things like this always throw me for a loop. Kind people make me cry every time. What is wrong with me?! Despite the tears, this was a wonderful Christmas present and I wanted to share it.

OK, enough of me! It's Monday, so start your week with a smile. Click around to see things that'll make you say "awww." -- K

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Playing Catch-Up

Playing Ketchup!
(Stop groaning, you know how I feel about puns.)
Wow. It's been nearly two weeks since my last post. With all the holiday hoopla I haven't had time to write. I promise a real post soon, but here are a few highlights of what we've been doing:

I've been going contest crazy! Jodi over at Kol's Notes is hosting the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers again this year. It's 24 days with 24 great giveaways. It's always fun to see the great stuff she's found. I especially like the Safe Snacking Dog Bowl, Dog T-shirts (the GSD one is gorgeous), the customized leather Ruha Collars and the puzzle toys this year. These contests close on January 1st, so go now if you want to take a chance on some fun stuff.

I've discovered a bunch of new blogs through the Pet Blogger's Gift Exchange. Pet bloggers were randomly paired up “to share compliments, encouragement, and linky love with each other” through their blogs. I was introduced to Let's Go Dog. I read it from back to front and thoroughly enjoyed it. Seriously, check it out! And I'm not just saying that because Leah said some beautiful things about us here. (Don't tell her it made me cry, OK?) A big thanks to Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes for hosting such a great hop.

Jedi's mother, Zasha, had another litter on December 1st. Breeder has been very generous in letting me "help out." Truth is, if I have a choice between blogging and feeding, socializing and playing with ten adorable German shepherd puppies, I'll choose this:

PUPPIES!
Jedi and I completed our Leash Manners class. He still pulls. It was helpful having an objective, knowledgeable person tell me what we're doing wrong. Apparently we're doing a lot wrong. Fortunately, the instructor had a lot of helpful tips on how to do things right. The biggest problem, however, is that we just don't get out and practice enough. (That seems to be a running theme in my life.) I hope to walk more after the first of the year. That would make both Jedi and my doctor very happy.

And finally, I've been reading! I finished Rescue Me, Maybe. I enjoyed it. It starts off pretty sad but gets better. Currently I'm in the middle of three other books -- I seldom read one at a time -- and look forward to sharing them with you later.

So, that's the condensed version of the last couple weeks. I'll have more soon. Hopefully it won't be so helter-skelter. But no promises, because it is me we're talking about and . . . well . . . -- K

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Zack and Zoe

Several days ago I shared Let's Go Dog, the blog I was so lucky to get in the Pet Blogger's Gift Exchange. Today on this (almost) Wordless Wednesday I'd like to show you some of the beautiful photos you'll find on the blog.

Handsome Zack at Hurricane Ridge

Zack is ready for his next adventure

Gorgeous Zoe explores Lake Crescent's East Beach

Zoe at Sequim Bay State Park

Want to see more gorgeous pictures of Zack, Zoe and the Olympic Northwest? Grab a cup of coffee and head on over to Let's Go Dog.


This is a blog hop! Click on the icons below to see what others are sharing today. -- K



Monday, December 15, 2014

Santa Photo, Take Two

Last week I told you about our less-than-ideal trip to see Santa. I'm sure the dogs earned a spot on the naughty list for their behavior. Luckily for Jedi, he had a chance to redeem himself yesterday. We went to Yappy Hour at the Jacksonville Landing and had a great time. There was a live band, give-aways, local vendors, several rescue groups and LOTS of dogs. The weather was perfect and the restaurants along the river were all dog friendly. To top it all off, we finally got a decent picture. Look:


Jedi was still leery of Santa, so I had to get in the picture. Other than that, his behavior was everything I could ask for. I think Jedi got himself off the naughty list!

Start your week with a smile. Click around and see other things that make you say "awww." -- K

Friday, December 12, 2014

Let's Go Dog!

It’s Christmas time and everybody is out looking for that “perfect gift.” Want to know what a blogger wants more than anything? Readers! We sit in front of our monitors and pour our hearts out in hopes that someone – anyone – will notice. A comment or two can make our entire day. Pamela over at Something Wagging This Way Comes (one of my favorite pet blogs) came up with a great idea: The Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange. Pet bloggers were randomly paired up “to share compliments, encouragement, and linky love with each other” through their blogs. This year I was given Let's Go Dog and I'm not ashamed to say I'm loving the hell out of this blog! Leah is a Worst-Case-Scenario, Worry Wart, borderline Control Freak (hey, it takes one to know one!) who wants to travel more with her beautiful dogs, Zack and Zoe. Instead of being paralyzed by fear, she asks "What's the worst that can happen?" and goes from there by:
  1. Identifying the problem
  2. Planning a course of action
  3. Preparing and/or practicing
Leah shares the process and what she learns along the way. I can't tell you how exciting this is for a Worst-Case-Scenario, Worry Wart, borderline Control Freak like me.

Zoe on the left, Zack on the right
This is a new blog and I had never seen it before. The first post was published only eight months ago, but I wouldn't have guessed that. The clean, clear, properly punctuated and grammatically correct posts (Grammar Nazis notice these things!) scream experienced, professional blogger. Let's Go Dog is well laid out and very informative. It's free of the page clutter seen on the blogs of so many newbie bloggers. Each topic is well thought out with links to even more wonderful information for info junkies like me. I strongly urge you to grab a cup of coffee, give the dogs a Kong and plan to get lost in the Let's Go Dog blog. May I suggest:

First, take a moment to read the About Us page. Leah shares a little about herself before telling Zack and Zoe's adoption stories. Zack's puppy pictures will melt your heart.

Carabiner for Dog Safety. This post had me screaming "OMG, why didn't I think of that?!" I take the dogs to Sonic regularly. The routine has always been grab collar with one hand and unhook leash with other. Using one hand, wrap leash around the table leg, thread the hook through the leash handle and rehook to the collar. Leah uses a carabiner and her dog is secured in half a second and is never unhooked from the leash. I feel like such an idiot.

DIY Dog Bottle Game -- Travel Version. Again, simple but genius! Complete with step by step instructions.

Hiking With Dogs and Snakes Part 1 and Part 2. I like to hike with my dog too, but am afraid we'll run into a snake. What if Jedi gets bit? What if I get bit? We've got all kinds of mean, creepy snakes here in Florida. Leah breaks it down, including links to fascinating videos and additional articles. Snakes are still creepy, but not so scary anymore.

Packing Lists Make Dog Trips Happen. I, too, am a list maker (I have an app for that!) and found myself agreeing with this entire post. For added fun, check out Leah's Dog Travel Checklists on Pinterest.

Leah also shares her experiences with canine medical issues including Zack's hip dysplasia and Zoe's epilepsy. Like all Leah's posts, these are full of information and ultimately take the scariness out the subject.

I am so thankful that the Pet Blogger's Gift Exchange introduced me to this blog. What a gift that was for me! I hope you take the time to see what I mean. You won't be disappointed. Promise. -- K

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Find the Odor Recap

What does this nose know?
We finished our last Find the Odor class on Monday. I can't believe it's already been six weeks. We've learned a lot, and made some great progress, but we are still months (and months!) away from even considering competing. But we're having a blast along the way. Jedi really enjoys it, and starts whining in the car 10 minutes before we get to the training site. Unfortunately he gets so excited that he works himself into a frenzy. Right now I'm trying to teach him to slow down and check everything (he ALWAYS misses the first box). I'm also learning that there's a lot to be done on my end of the leash. Things like:

Attitude:
  • Dog and handler are a team. Jedi is the nose, I'm the brains.
  • My job is maximize Jedi's ability, so I should do everything possible to set him up for success.
  • I need to teach Jedi that odor can be anywhere, therefore he needs to check all possibilities.
  • Let Jedi “lead the dance.”
  • Keep Jedi on task -- no peeing on the field! (It's an automatic DQ.)
  • Never ever show Jedi where the odor is. Instead, let him work it out for himself.
  • Reward enthusiastically, and always at the "find."
  • Stay engaged with Jedi after he has found the odor.
  • Continue to pet/praise/play with the dog while exiting the search area.

Air Currents:
  • Wind is important. Check the direction and make it work in Jedi's favor.
  • When searching outside, start as far downwind as possible, then zigzag back and forth at right-angles into the wind, looking for signs that Jedi has hit the scent cone.
  • Be aware of objects that can block, channel or redirect odor.
  • Things like air conditioners, windows, doors, sun beating down on one wall can all cause air currents. The hide may not be where the dog first catches the odor.

Search Strategies:
  • Speed is our enemy. Teach Jedi to slow down and check each container rather than blasting past the first one.
  • Give Jedi 10 seconds at the start line to focus and possibly pick up the odor before crossing the threshold.
  • If Jedi does not pick up the scent right away then start off in a methodical pattern.
  • Keep track of where Jedi has searched and where he has missed (this is easier with a methodical search pattern).
  • Make sure Jedi searches high and low, gets into corners and checks the very edges of an exterior search area.
  • In a trial, the odor won’t always be in or near an object. It could be stuck in the ground, so we must remember to search bare areas.
  • The odor can also be up to about 4 feet off the ground, so search high.
  • Exterior searches are usually best done on a long line so I don’t interfere with Jedi's search. Plus, he can cover more ground without me slowing him down.
  • In a large room Jedi may have a better chance of catching the odor and following it to source if allowed to search off-leash.
  • In a small room, a very fast dog may swirl the odor so much he can’t pinpoint the source, so Jedi may do better on a shorter leash because I can help him slow down and ensure he checks everything.

The number one rule from our instructor:

ALWAYS LET YOUR DOG INTERRUPT YOUR PATTERN ANY TIME HE SAYS
“I KNOW WHERE IT IS!”

I know, duh. But it's harder than it sounds. You really have to be in tune with you dog and be able to read his clues despite the adrenaline (yours and his).

By the way, we've already signed up for the next class. Class doesn't start until January, so we're practicing at home in the interim. Seriously, we're having tremendous fun with this!



Jedi and I are joining Ruckus the Eskie and friends on this Thoughtless Thursday hoping you'll think about doing some Nose Work with your dog. -- K



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dear Santa


Hubby and I took the dogs to see Santa last week at the Ed Austin Dog Park Fundraiser. This is the very best picture we could get. Sorry. The dogs were overwhelmed. Roxy couldn't stay still and Jedi has to pee on everything. The hay tickled Jedi's butt and Santa's beard freaked Roxy out. Hubby and I had to get in the picture just to hold everybody still. Somebody was always looking the other way. My hair looked like crap and nobody said a word! Hubby really wanted to be somewhere else. The poor photographer took 50 pictures. Santa was a real trooper and smiled the entire time.


It's Wordless Wednesday! Click around and see what others are sharing today. -- K


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dog Walking 101



Wow. It's been a week since my last post. Things have been busy with me and Jedi. I'll try to bring you up to speed over the next few days.

First of all, Jedi and I signed up for another class: Leash Manners. This is a three week class that specifically addresses "issues with leash walking such as pulling and jumping, along with instruction on proper walking techniques." YES! We've got Sit, Down, Stay and pretty much everything else covered in a basic obedience class, but Heel kicks our butt!

Or first class was on Saturday. Jedi was very relaxed around the other dogs, totally ignoring anyone else's bad behavior. At one point Jedi was lying at my feet while the instructor was talking. When a lab ran up and barked at him, Jedi gave the lab a "Dude, what's your problem?" look without even getting up. (I can't tell you what a huge relief that was!) The lab owner pulled his dog away and Jedi looked up at me quizzically. I swear if he could talk he would said "Did you see that? How rude." BTW, Jedi was praised profusely for his good behavior.

But then we actually got up and started walking. UGH. Jedi likes to either pull -- HARD -- or put on the brakes to sniff something, totally ignoring me in the process. At one point the instructor took Jedi and walked him beautifully across the field. When she returned him she asked "You hate me right now, don't you?" No, but I was a little pissed at the dog!

So here's what we learned on week one:
  • Jedi is very tuned in to me, and has therefore has learned exactly what he can get away with
  • We both have bad habits that need to be changed
  • I need to just walk (head up, arm relaxed) and expect Jedi to follow along
  • I need to give clear, quick corrections versus a long, hard tug
  • I need to change things up (sudden turns, out of the blue sits) so Jedi has to keep guessing and pay attention to me
  • I need to talk to Jedi more, telling him what's going on
I really wish we had figured this out 50 pounds ago. Mind you, I'm not looking for a perfect heel right now. I just want a comfortable, loose-leash walk with Jedi at my side. I was spoiled with Logan. He was a dream on the leash. Obviously his previous owner was a better dog trainer than me.

How about you? Have you and your dog figured out the loose leash thing? Any tips? -- K

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jedi's Vintage Hoodie

When a girl who named her dog Jedi Mind Trick finds a XXXL dog hoodie with the exact same photo as her favorite T-shirt from 35(ish) years ago, you know she's going to buy it. Right? Well, Jedi wasn't as thrilled about it as I was, but here you go:


I didn't look nearly as cute in it as he does, by the way. I wore the shirt to death in the 70's. I can't believe I don't have a picture of it.

And is anybody else excited about the Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens teaser? Haven't seen it?

 
I'm stoked! But the movie doesn't come out until December 2015. It's going to be a looong year. -- K
 
 
P.S. It's Wordless Wednesday! (And, as usual, I failed on the whole "wordless" part . . . ) Hop around below and see who does it better.
 
 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Awww....Goose

 
I know this is Kelley's DOG Blog, but between you and me, I really like geese. There's a gaggle that hangs out next to the dog park. I'm required to patrol the dog park daily, and often find myself taking a gander at a goose along the way.
 
Start your week with a smile. Click around and see other things that make you say "awww." -- K
 
 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sepia Seniors

I saw this sign online and it made me cry.


Lately I've been reminded that I have two senior pets. Both my girls have lost some of the spring in their step.
 

We adopted Gucci in Japan 16 years ago. The vet estimated she was about one at the time. This old girl has accompanied us from Tokyo to Los Angeles to Baltimore to Jacksonville. She's travelled by bus, plane and car. She's slowed down a lot of the past year. We've discovered that she's gone deaf and she sleeps more than she used to.


We brought Roxy home in the spring of 2009. Our best guess is that she was two at the time. That means she's pushing eight now. She's already got some arthritis in her left rear leg. She use to run around like a black and tan tornado. Now she'd rather nap. It's sad to see her slowing down too.

But I'm not going to dwell on their mortality. None of us are promised tomorrow. Instead, I'm going to cherish every minute I have with them. I'm going to make sure I have time for rubbing bellies and scratching behind ears. I will share my roasted chicken with any furry face that asks and I will kiss fuzzy heads every chance I get. How about you? Have you loved on your pets today? -- K


P.S. It's Sepia Saturday! Click around and see what others are sharing today.

Friday, November 28, 2014

20 Questions

OK, so you've read all my posts and STILL think you want to be an Animal Control Officer? Even Help Wanted! and I Am Not The Dreaded Dog Catcher? And the one about ugly things people say when you're writing tickets? Really?! Well, if I haven't dissuaded you then I guess you're ready for an interview.

About six years back -- when I lost Partner #1 -- the Lieutenant asked me to come up with a list of questions for Animal Control applicants. Even more exciting, she asked me to sit on the interview panel. (BTW, you learn a lot sitting on the other side of the table!) Anyway, I got together a group of ACO friends and wrote down all the weird questions we had been asked (or should have been asked) when we started out. Then we narrowed it down to 20 questions. This is what we came up with -- along with the answers we're looking for. Wanna see how you'd do?


1. Why do you want to be an Animal Control Officer?
This is always the first question. Whatever you do, do not answer "I want to be a voice for the animals." (I swear 50% of the applicants actually say that!) Truth is, Animal Control works for the people. So if you care more for the animals than for people -- (it's OK, we all do) -- don't say it! Instead, think about how you would serve the people of the community in relation to animals.

2. What do you think the responsibilities of an Animal Control Officer are? 
Short answer: Animal Control Officers enforce animal related ordinances. Yes, we get the occasional cruelty and neglect case. Most of the job, however, is routine and sometimes tedious. We patrol, write tickets for dogs off leash and poop that's not picked up, catch dogs running at large, trap feral cats, and try to make peace between neighbors over barking. We clean the truck. We clean the kennels. And we do paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork.

3. What do you know about local and state animal-related ordinances or laws?
All ordinances are online, so you better have an answer for this one. When someone says "Well, I haven't read them . . . but I'm a quick learner." What we hear is "I don't care enough about this job to even look up the rules." Chances are your application just went to the bottom of the pile.

4. What type of animals do you have experience with through employment or personal knowledge?
This one should be easy. If it's not, maybe you're not looking for the right job. Every ACO I know has had dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles, fish and more.

5. Are you able to identify different breeds and types of animals? Which animals are you most familiar with?
See above. Seriously, most ACOs know so much weird animal trivia that it makes NON-animal people uncomfortable. Sure everybody knows that calico cats are almost always female, but ACOs will engage in a long conversation as to why.

6. Do you own any pets? If so what kind? Are they licensed, vaccinated, and spayed/neutered?
Is this a trick question? You bet! We are judging you on the kinds of animals that you have (as in why does he have 25 snakes?!) and whether or not you abide by the rules we're asking you to enforce. If you're going to answer no to the last part of the question, make sure you have a reason (i.e. Jedi is not neutered because I actively show him in AKC Conformation.)
 
7. Are there any animals that you are afraid of or cannot work with? 
A yes to this is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, I'm not fond of snakes. Since my job deals primarily with dogs and cats, that's not a big deal. However, if you said you were afraid of pit bulls that would be an issue since two out of every three dogs we pick up is a pit bull. I've also seen a variation of this question where they asked if you are allergic to any animals, so be prepared. My answer was "I have a mild allergy to most rabbits and some cats. Knowing this, I carry Benadryl in my purse."

8. Have you ever been bitten? Describe the incident and how would you handle a similar thing again.
OK, this one is just because we're weird. We all have bite stories and they're fun to share. You get extra points for scars. It also gives an insight into how careful and perceptive you are. It's perfectly okay to say you were inexperienced or did something stupid and you won't do that again!

9. What is your definition of euthanasia? Have you had any experience with euthanasia procedures?
This question usually takes people by surprise. It also tells us a lot about who's on the other side of the table. I've seen people break down and cry at the mere thought of euthanasia. (BTW, they didn't get the job.) Nobody likes euthanasia, but for now it's part of the job. Even no kill shelters have to euthanize sometimes.

10. Could you euthanize a sick pet? An injured pet? A healthy pet?
This is a tough one and takes quite a bit of soul searching. I was asked this the first time I applied at a shelter. I was honest and told the interviewer that I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but I hoped that when the time came I would do it as quickly and compassionately as possible. I got the job.

11. If you were approached by a vicious dog how would you handle the situation?
There's no real right answer to this question, but there are definite wrong ones! Just remember: safety first, for both you and any possible bystanders.
 
12. How would you get a 100 pound dog into a vehicle?
Another question with no one right answer. This is a creative problem solving question. Remember your tools, including the radio. Funny story: I once had a 150 pound Great Dane that wouldn't fit in the cages on my truck. I called the station for back up and the dog was transported to the kennel in a police car.

13. What experience do you have working with the public?
As I've mentioned before, I deal with five people for every one animal, so this question is very important. Be detailed, especially if you were in a position of authority.

14. How would you deal with a difficult person?
See above. FYI: "By hitting them with my truck" is not the right answer. This is a major stress in my life.

15. How do you handle stress?
Thankfully, I didn't get asked this question. I don't think they would have appreciated my answer: brownies, booze and profanity. Seriously though, this can be stressful job and it's important to have positive ways to decompress. I enjoy hiking with my dog, reading/writing/blogging and grown-up game nights with my friends.

16. Can you work weekends, holidays, early mornings (6-7 AM) and late evenings (8-9 PM)? Are you available to be on call?
If you can't say yes -- and mean it -- then this is probably not the right job for you. Animals in the kennel need to be walked, fed and cleaned up after every day, even on Christmas. The public is not kind enough to only break ordinances during normal working hours. And dog bites always seem to happen just as you sit down to dinner.

17. Do you have experience in radio communications? If so, how much experience and where? 
This is self explanatory. It's okay to say no. In fact, sometimes it's easier to teach someone fresh than to have someone un-learn old codes to learn new ones. (Different jurisdictions use different 10-codes.) Partner #3 had a really hard time with this and kept coding for lunch when she meant to say she had arrived on-scene.

18. Are you/have you ever been FACA (Florida Animal Control Association) or NACA (National Animal Control Association) certified?
A yes to this one would be a big deal for you. Certification/recertification is expensive and time consuming. Hiring a pre-certified ACO saves the City time and money -- and the City is all about saving money. If you have these types of certs, do everything you can to keep them current. And by all means, speak up if you've got them!

19. Have you received the rabies pre-exposure vaccine? If so, when was the last time you had your titers checked?
Same as above. A rabies pre-exposure shot for humans can cost $600 or more. (Yet I can find one for my dog for $10. Go figure.) The good news is that your immunity can last for decades. Whether or not you're safe can be determined by simple -- and not nearly as expensive -- titers test. So again, speak up.
 
20. What experience do you have that qualifies you over other candidates for this position?
This is no time to be shy or modest. We're asking because we really, really want to know. It's not always easy choosing one person over another. Not only are we trying to see if your qualifications fit our needs, we're also trying to determine if you -- as a person -- will fit into our organization's culture. Are you too rigid? Too aloof? Do you have a sense of humor? What are your personal ethics? Seriously, it's tough!

You made it to the end! I guess I didn't scare you off. So, how'd you do? If you're still intent in joining the club: Welcome! It's not a bad job. As I said in Wanna Be An ACO? (you read that one too? Really?!) this job is seldom boring. I do a wide variety of things. My list of "Other Duties As Required" shows that! I enjoy being outside, meeting people and making a difference in the community. The uniform is ugly, as are the local politics. I try no to wear either of them any longer than absolutely necessary. I would really like more money and less crap -- both literal and figurative. But then, wouldn't we all? -- K
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

T-Shirt FAIL!

Ok, friends, you know how I feel about dog-themed shirts. [New readers: I LOVE them! Now you're caught up.] So I just couldn't help myself when I saw the Personalized Dog Walker Athletic Dept. T-Shirt from Gifts For You Now, especially when they sent me a coupon. This is what I ordered:

What the website said I was getting . . .

Cute, hunh? I waited two weeks for it to come. When it finally arrived the first thing that I noticed was that the lettering was white -- but it looked good, so I didn't mind. It was a good quality Hanes T-shirt, even though the iron-on letters were a bit chintzy. Then I noticed -- to my horror -- that shepherd was spelled wrong. It was "SHEPERD." I looked at the invoice -- it said black letters, "GERMAN SHEPHERD." I immediately called customer service. The woman apologized and promised to send me a new one right away. I told her that the invoice was correct, and "German shepherd" was spelled correctly. And please tell the t-shirt guy it's shepherd, as in "herds sheep." I also told her that it looked good in white, and since they were making another anyway, could I switch the lettering to white? She said "no problem."

Six days later my replacement shirt came. And guess what . . . it said "SHEPERD." The letters weren't even the same size as the first incorrect shirt. Adding insult to injury, there was an extra spot of white shmutz in the lettering between the H and the E, ironed on nice and tight. See:

What I actually got -- twice!

I looked, and the invoice spelled shepherd correctly. Again. I called customer service. Again. I even spoke to the same person. She remembered me from the week before. She apologized -- again -- and said she would overnight me another shirt. I said no. By this time I just wanted my money back. Obviously there is no quality control at the company: the T-shirt guy isn't looking at the invoices, nobody is double checking his work and apparently the company doesn't own SpellCheck! (OK, maybe that was a little mean.)

So, my internet friends, stay away from Gifts For You, especially if you have a breed name more complicated than Pug. Can you imagine how badly they'd butcher Dachshund, Weimaraner, Lhasa Apso or Shih Tzu? I'm really disappointed too, because I had already planned out fun t-shirts for Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, most of my friends are German shepherd owners. Now I need to come up with a Plan B. Ideas anyone?


It's Thoughtless Thursday! And apparently T-shirt Guy is "devoid of or lacking the capacity for thought" (as thoughtless is defined by dictionary.com). Click around and see what others are sharing today! -- K



Monday, November 24, 2014

Awww....Birdie


It's gotten cold and dreary. While patrolling the park I saw this bird taking a rest in the lake. This is as close as I could get (with the zoom). I have no idea what kind of bird it is, but it sure looked comfortable.

Can you guess the bird species? It has webbed feet and a pointy beak. This was taken on the northeastern coast Florida, about a half mile from the ocean. Comorant maybe?

Start your week with a smile. Click around and see other things that make you say "awww." -- K


Thursday, November 20, 2014

When Pets Go Missing

ACO humor. Sorry.
Today's Thoughtless Thursday is asking you to think about something unpleasant: What do you do if your pet is lost? As an animal control officer I get frantic calls about missing pets on a regular basis, even more so during the holidays. Sometimes pets go missing despite an owner's best efforts. If it happens to you take a deep breath and then do the following:
 
Call Animal Control immediately! Many people make the mistake of waiting a few days, assuming the pet will "just come home on his own." That is a gamble you shouldn't take. Most animal control facilities can only hold animals for a few days. When the hold time is up animals are deemed property of the shelter and then transferred to another facility, rehomed or euthanized. If you wait, your pet may not be there when finally show up. Please note: Dogs and cats don't care about jurisdictional boundaries. If you live close to another city or county be sure to call their animal control facility as well. When you call, the following information is extremely helpful:
  • Your name. It's awkward to say "I got a call from an unidentified woman about a lost dog." If that is not the person who answers the phone, I can spend five minutes trying to figure if I even have the right number. Please let me know that you are "Mary Johnson."
  • Your phone number. Please say your number clearly and slowly. Even better, repeat it at the end of the message as well. (If you don't hear from me in 12 hours, please call back. Chances are that I don't have a good number for you.)
  • Species and breed or breed mixes. Please be specific. I get "Did anyone call about a missing animal?" all the time. Does this mean the caller lost an animal? Found an animal? And what kind of animal is it?
  • A good physical description. "Stocky brown pit bull with a white chest, cropped ears, long tail and black spot on the rear, left leg" is much easier to identify than "red nosed pit" -- especially when I have three in my kennel.
  • Your animal's sex. Yes, you read that right. I had a woman last week that didn't know if her cat was male of female, but swore the neighbor stole it. (Story for another day . . .) Also, is your pet spayed/neutered? That factors into the search pattern.
  • Any ID. Was your pet wearing a collar? Tags? Is it chipped?
  • Time lapse. When did the pet go missing? 30 minutes ago? Three days ago? It makes a big difference in the size of the search area.
  • Your address. I'd also like to know where the pet went missing from, if it's different from your address. I'm not being nosy. I want to make sure you're looking in the right place. I had a 10 minute conversation with a guy last month before discovering his dog went missing in North Carolina. (Same city name, different state. Sometimes 411 makes a mistake.)
Call your microchip company. (If your pet is not microchipped please remedy this ASAP.) Tell the chip company that your pet is lost. They will flag that chip number in their system and notify you right away if somebody calls in that chip number. (This also keeps people from changing the contact info to theirs, essentially stealing your pet. It happens!) Some chip companies even send out lost pet alerts to local shelters and vets. While you have the chip company on the phone, verify that they have the correct contact information for you. Sometimes people move or change phone numbers and forget to update the microchip information. Remember, the chip doesn't do any good if nobody can find you.
 
Get on the internet. Let all your Facebook friends know that your pet is missing and ask them to cross post. Make sure you have a recent picture. (Don't have one? Stop reading this post and take a picture. Right now. I'll wait.) Next, post a lost pet ad on Craigslist under the "Lost and Found" section. I don't know why, but people often go to Craigslist instead of calling Animal Control. We return dogs from Craigslist ads all the time.
 
Make a flyer. The Missing Pet Partnership has some great tips here. Start by distributing flyers to your neighbors. Remember, you can't leave flyers in mailboxes -- it's a federal offense -- but you can stick them in door jambs or on car windshields. Don't forget to take copies of your flyer to Animal Control, nearby veterinarians and any other local shelters. Check with your city to see what the rules are about hanging lost pets signs. You don't want to waste time and money on signs if code enforcement is going to pull them down as fast as you hang them up.
 
And finally, a few miscellaneous tips. (OK, really they're pet peeves of mine, but "miscellaneous tips not to annoy the animal control officer" sounds a bit self-serving.)
  • Leave a message on the answering machine instead of calling back 20 times trying to catch me. I'm out of the office more than I'm in, but I return to the office regularly to check messages. If you don't leave a message, I don't know you called.
  • If your voice mailbox is full or not set up, leave an alternate call back number.
  • If you're going to screen your calls please listen to the message before you call me back. It drives me bonkers when people call and say "someone called me from this number" after I left a detailed message on their voicemail.
  • And on the same note, if I have to listen to loud, annoying music while your server is "locating the subscriber" I'm going to hang up.
  • I really don't care what name your animal "answers to." Truth is, half the dogs I deal with respond to anything said in a happy voice, including "Pup Pup," "I have cookies" and "Wanna go for a ride?" The other half are either so scared -- or excited -- that they don't respond to anything. And then there are cats. Remember the joke "Cats don't come when you call, they take a message and get back to you later?" Yeah, it's like that.
  • Call back and let us know when your pet returns home so we can stop looking. Please!
I hope your pets never get lost. But if they do, the above tips will help bring your pets home faster and make my job a lot easier. -- K

Looks like Ruckus isn't going anywhere!
P.S. It's Thoughtless Thursday! Hop around and see what others are doing today.

 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Nose Knows

The maze of identical boxes
Jedi and I are really enjoying our nose work classes. He thinks it's the best game ever! In fact, he sticks his head in every box that comes in the house just in case there's a piece of chicken in it. Unfortunately, not everybody thinks this is as funny as I do.
 
We're progressively making this game harder. I've begun hiding food in boxes on the couch, under chairs and in corners. Sometimes the food isn't in a box at all! I've hidden food in shoes, under pillows and even on the windowsill. We practice in the house as well as outside. Jedi is learning to check everywhere. He's has to learn to trust his nose, not his eyes. It's fascinating to watch him. I can tell when he gets a whiff of the chicken. I can actually see him trying to pinpoint where the smell is coming from. Sometimes he gets so excited he smashes the box. Good thing we have a steady supply of boxes. (Hubby does shipping and receiving.)
 
Hey! There's food in this one!
Last night's class was the most challenging so far. We're working on leash handling. My job is to keep the leash from getting tangled up without distracting or impeding Jedi. (That's harder than it sounds, especially since neither of us are very graceful.) I also need to make sure that Jedi searches the entire area. I try not to look where the instructor hides the food so I don't inadvertently clue him in. Last night all the boxes were identical, so I really had to pay attention to which ones he whas checking. In his excitement sometimes he would skip over a box (or section of boxes) and I had to lead him back to the missed area. I also have to be aware of air currents. Jedi is most successful when he's downwind of the odor. Who knew *I* had to pay so much attention!
 
We've started pairing the food with the target scent. We're using sweet birch oil (Betula lenta) which reminds me of Wint-O-Green Lifesavers. (This is not to be confused with oil from other types of birch -- apparently there's a difference.) We were asked to bring a small, glass jar to class. We did, and Instructor gave us sweet birch scented Q-tips so we can practice pairing at home. And we were advised NOT to phase out the food for a very long time, no matter how much we want to.

Sorry again about the quality of the pictures. Maybe one day I'll get a decent camera phone. Until then, you're stuck with these. TTFN, -- K

 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Awww....Gucci

I know this is Kelley's Dog Blog, but we're doing something different today.


This is Gucci in her younger years. She's old and deaf now, but she still runs the show. Dogs cower before her and humans do her bidding (aka provide wet food and scratch her head).

Start your week with a smile. Click around and see other things that make you say "awww." -- K


Saturday, November 15, 2014

What Is That Doing Here?!

I've mentioned many times that one of my favorite places to take Jedi is the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. I love being surrounded by trees, listening to the wind, running streams and singing frogs. We can walk the trails for hours and not see another person. This is my happy place. In fact, I'm hesitant to talk about it because I'm afraid others will find it and infringe upon our solitude -- so let's keep it between us, OK? Anyway, last time we were at the Arboretum Jedi and I found this in the middle of the woods:

 



I think it's suppose to be some sort of art. Apparently I don't "get" art. Nonetheless I had Jedi hop inside so I could take a picture. Be happy the picture's in sepia. In real life this wayward bed frame is painted bright aqua and puce (that's a purple-brown color as hideous as it sounds). See what I mean? ==>


It's Sepia Saturday! Hop around and see what others have to say. And let me know if this thing in the woods makes any sense to you, OK? -- K


Friday, November 14, 2014

Love That Leash!

Jedi & Roxy -- leashed and loving life
I was on a call last week and had a guy tell me -- with pride! -- that his two Australian shepherds have never been on a leash. He was taken aback by my response: "Oh, how sad." Then he proceeded to tell me that his dogs were so well trained that they never left his property. (Mind you, the area of his front and back yard combined was probably 1600 square feet.) Guy reiterated that his dogs have never been on a leash, like it was some sort of supreme accomplishment. Or maybe leashes were for lower class dogs. For mutts. He had no clue why I thought this was such a tragedy.
 
I've mentioned the importance of leash training before in relation to animal control officers, veterinary clinics and boarding kennels -- all of which use leashes on dogs. You never know when a dog may end up at one of these places. But think of all the other things that Guy's poor dogs have missed out on because they're owner was too proud (lazy? ignorant?) to teach them how to walk on a leash:
  • Long walks on the beach
  • After dinner strolls around the neighborhood
  • Trips to the pet stores
  • Shopping at Home Depot
  • Dining at pet-friendly restaurants
  • Going to the Pet Expo
  • Perusing the Riverside Arts Market
  • Raising money with charity dog walks
  • Holiday costume parades
  • Nursing home visits
  • Competing in dog sports like obedience, rally, nose work or barn hunts
  • Hiking the Arboretum
  • Attending concerts in the park
  • Checking out the Artwalk
  • Running the bases at a minor league baseball game
  • Meeting the kids at the bus stop after school
  • Jogging the track with Dad at the high school
  • Running alongside a bicycle
  • Becoming an AKC Canine Good Citizen
I'm not saying that every dog needs to be able to heel perfectly -- Lord knows mine can't! -- but all dogs should know how to walk on the leash if they are to be a part of today's society. Leash laws are nationwide. On a happier note, more and more establishments are opening their doors to well behaved, leashed dogs. Confining a dog to the same 1600 square feet for its entire life because you're too conceited to leash train your dog is just plain mean. And in my book, it makes you a Dumb Ass Dog Owner. "My dogs have never been on a leash" should be said with shame, not hubris. Dumb Ass.
 
Want to read about more Dumb Ass Dog Owners? Click around below to see some of the other posts in this hop. You'll laugh, you'll scream, and you'll thank God you're not "That Guy."-- K
 
P.S. What fun things do you so with your leashed dogs?
 
 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fall is Here!

Look how happy that makes Jedi.

 
Fall finally came to Florida. We broke out the hoodies and everything!

 
It's Wordless Wednesday. Hop around and see what others are sharing today. -- K


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DADO-Inspired Laws

We are joining Tales from the Backroad and Heart Like a Dog in this Dumb Ass Dog Owner hop. DADOs are everywhere.

My job as animal control officer is to enforce all the animal-related laws in our city. People bitch when I write tickets, but the truth is every single one of those laws is in place because of a past Dumb Ass Dog Owner. Why else would someone go to the trouble of spelling out these "should-be-common-sense" laws in such detail? We have laws regarding:
 
Running at Large: In my city it's against the law for a dog (or cat) to be out in public by himself. So there's no confusion, the law specifies "any of the public streets, parks, playgrounds, alleys, beaches or vacant lots in the city."
 
Leashes: Our laws are very specific about this. It says no dog can be off the property of its owner without a leash. That includes all the public places listed above. Our law also specifies that the leash be "of dependable strength [and] not to exceed 12 feet in length." So no, that 20 foot clothesline doesn't count. The law also requires the leash to either be attached to an immovable object or "specifically held by a person capable of controlling the animal." Yes, people will get a ticket if their dog is dragging the leash behind him. Electronic leashes don't count either. People still argue with me. Those people are usually why this law was written in the first place. Dumb Asses.
 
Tethering: Despite my best efforts, our city still allows people to chain their dogs outside. I did, however, get the law to specify chain length (at least 10 feet with swivels on both ends) and weight (no more than 1/8 the animal's body weight). Tethered dogs must also have access to fresh water and shelter. You would think "well, duh." Unfortunately, there were several Dumb Ass Dog Owners here in town that prompted this law.
 
Poop: It should just be common courtesy to pick up after your dog. It's not. This is one of my biggest complaints. Our law says that if an animal poops anywhere other than the owner's private property it must be picked up immediately and "deposited in a trash container." If I catch the dumb asses who are leaving the bags of poo alongside the road I will write them tickets. Our city leaders were so concerned with poop that the law states that people walking a dog -- or cat -- anywhere other than their own property are required to carry "some sort of material, utensil, or suitable container with which to dispose of the defecation." Yes, I can write someone a ticket just for not having a bag. (I don't. Despite public opinion, I am not a Dog Nazi.)
 
Shelter: When I started working here there was a guy who kept his dogs in rabbit hutches. Since there was no ordinance prohibiting that, legally there was nothing I could do about it. Even more upsetting was the fact that I had to fight City Council to change the law to define a sufficient shelter as three walls, a roof and a floor, and it must be able to protect the animals from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight.
 
Sadly, in the past 10 years we've also had to write or change the laws making it illegal to:
  • Leave a dog in a hot car
  • Allow a dog to ride in the open bed of a pickup truck untethered
  • Fail to seek medical attention for sick or injured animals
  • Abandon an animal
  • Fail to provide sufficient, wholesome food and clean, potable water
  • Participate in dog fighting
  • Beat, torture or overburden an animal
  • Engage in sexual activity with an animal
I've learned that laws are written for the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately, sometimes these laws infringe upon the rights and sensibility of everybody else. So the next time you see a stupid law ask yourself "Which Dumb Ass inspired this one?"

 
Want more Dumb Ass Dog Owner stories? Want to share your own stories? Hop on! -- K