Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fat Dogs, Skinny Dogs & Bad Neighbors

I get calls all the time that are really more about people disputes than anything else. Animals are just a way for angry neighbors to get back at each other. Yes, it's sad.

Recently I got a complaint about emaciated dogs on Azalea Way. Seriously, the woman said "emaciated." (Some people watch waaaay too much Animal Planet.) I agreed to do a welfare check.

I was surprised to see three healthy pit bulls. They were solid muscle. I could feel the ribs (but not put my fingers between them) and they each had visible waistlines when viewed from above. WOW. The owner was pissed to see me. She stated that her dogs eat high quality food and exercise regularly. She even showed me the report from their recent vet visit. The she vented about the bitch next door -- parking, disputes over parties and who does and does not put their trash out according to the HOA rules.

Later that afternoon I visited the complainant (AKA the bitch next door). I told her that the dogs in question were fine. Again, she used the word "emaciated." I tried to explain my findings, but she didn't seem to understand what I was saying. Then I saw her dogs. They looked like giant engorged ticks with Labrador heads. There were no waistlines, and I couldn't feel ribs no matter how hard I pressed. They were so overweight that there were wrinkly, fatty lumps at the base of their tails.

When I suggested that her dogs were "a little overweight" (AKA morbidly obese) she became defensive and started complaining about the neighbor -- loud music, excessive beer bottles in the recycle bin, and overgrown hedges. See where this is going? As an afterthought, she said that the dogs bark too much while locked outside during those loud parties.

I gave the complainant a copy of the ordinance and agreed to talk to the neighbor about barking. I also left her this handout:

Download a pdf version for yourself here.

Obesity is rampant in the United States, among people and pets alike. It seems that our animals are sharing the sedentary lifestyle. Too many snacks and too little exercise has become the American way. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has been keeping track of pet obesity for years. A 2017 clinical study found that 50% of dogs and 60% of cats for classified as clinically overweight (a body condition score of 6-7) or obese (a body condition score 8-9) by their veterinary healthcare professional. That's roughly 50.2 million dumpy dogs and 56.5 million fat cats.

Before you blow this off and give your pet another treat, consider the problems that can accompany excess weight:
  • Decreased stamina
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Intolerance to heat
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Bladder stones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Increased risk with anesthesia
  • Decreased immune system
  • Increased risk of all types of cancer

So what if you look down and discover your GSD is a little husky? Been there, done that! We overindulged Roxy after Logan passed and before we knew it she was carrying an extra 10 pounds. That's a lot when you're supposed to be a svelte 65 pounds. Taking weight off a dog is the same process as with people. Basically, less calories and more exercise in a slow, methodical way. And it's a lot easier said than done!

You should consult your veterinarian to make sure there's no underlying health issues causing the weight gain. However, diets that are rich in protein and fiber but low in fat are what work best. Depending on the prognosis, your vet may prescribe a special reduced-calorie dog food. With Roxy we were able to decrease her evening meal by half and add green beans or carrots. The vegetables made her feel full, but had no caloric value. We also increased her exercise slowly, giving her several good walks a day. It took about 6 months, but Roxy lost all the weight. Other tips:
  • Cut your treats. To Jedi and Trooper, half a Milk-Bone is just as good as a full Milk-Bone. This is an easy way to stretch your puppy budget. And it's easier than trying to convince your indulgent husband to cut back on the cookies.
  • Buy small. There are some great 1-calorie training treats out there. I also buy treats designed for small dogs.
  • Account for training. I know we're going to go through a bag of chicken at class, so the dogs will only get half a meal beforehand.
  • Be creative. My dogs love ice. I don't know why, but it's a fun zero calorie treat for them. They also like apple chunks, which are lower in calories higher in fiber and a lot better for them than Pupperoni.
  • Check around. There are dozens of dog bloggers like me sharing tips. For example, Pamela over at Something Wagging This Way Comes has a nice post on 30 Best Cheap And Safe Dog Treats From The Supermarket with some fun ideas.

Before I go, let me tell you about one of my regulars. We'll call him "Jack." I run into him while on patrol all the time. He's lonely and likes to chat. Lucky me. One of Jack's favorite topics is his American Bull Dog, Brutus. "Brutus is 120 pounds of solid muscle. He eats 7 cups of food a day." Bah, blah, blah . . . I heard Brutus stories for months. Then one day I met Brutus. He's not a muscular American Bull Dog, he's a morbidly obese pit mix. Poor thing. I tried to gently share some of the information above with him but it fell on deaf ears. In frustration, I made another meme And with that I have a warning:


Do you have any other tips? Please share! -- K

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Trooper is still leery of people. Sigh. It's hard to be a successful show dog if said dog won't let the judge touch him! We're trying to work through this using trips to dog-friendly places combined with lots of chicken from strangers. We're also taking advantage of every match we can find. Matches are like practice dog shows -- no points, lower entry fees and plenty of positive reinforcement for both dog and handler. Unfortunately, matches are hard to come by. That's why Hubby and I got up before dawn on Saturday and drove 2.5 hours to Savannah, Georgia.

We arrived at the show grounds a couple hours before ring time. I walked Trooper all around the area so he could take in all the sounds and smells. I brought a 20-foot long line and ran him behind an empty building, hoping to release some nervous energy. We practiced stacking and gaiting. And we sat quietly enjoying some snuggle-time. I did everything I could think of to get Trooper in "the zone." I don't think it worked.

Like the last match, Trooper got out of the car convinced that everybody there was going to kill him. Yes, we're back to that. I walked him around, giving strangers treats to feed my 80 pound chicken. (Luckily for me, dog people don't think that's such an odd request.)

Even with all the preparations, Trooper shied away from the judge. Grr. The judge was patient and offered a few ideas to help with the obvious problem. (This wouldn't happen at a show.) The judge thought Trooper had potential and gave him the ribbon, saying that his movement was nice and he was a beautiful shepherd.

It was a crazy day. We ended up winning group and were in the running for Best in Match. The Best in Match judge also thought Trooper was a nicely put together dog and offered tips to help him overcome this shyness -- then she awarded him Reserve. HOLY CRAP. Trooper came home with some really nice goodies.

So . . . I have a few take aways from this weekend:
  • Continue to work on Trooper's people skills.
  • Run more -- both with and without the dog. (Trooper's wants to cut the corners. I just want to throw up!)
  • Practice stacking Trooper on a platform. This is something I'd never thought of. Taking our winner's photo was a bigger chore than it needed to be. I want to be ready for the next one!
All in all, the Savannah Kennel Club put on a very nice match. The set-up was well organized, the sponsors were surprising and the prizes were over the top. People have been raving about the match on Facebook all weekend. The club is considering doing another one in the Spring. I'd go again -- hopefully with a more confident dog next time. But for now I need to nap. TTFN, -- K

Friday, November 16, 2018

ACO Humor

Confession time: I'm a Grammar Nazi. That can make this job difficult. I've shared my frustrations before. I made the meme below after my tenth "Ferrell cat" complaint. (Seriously people, if you're going to tell me how to do my job . . . )

Whether you find it funny or mean-spirited depends on your sense of humor. (BTW, my ACO friends think it's hilarious.) Either way, I thought this was a more productive outlet than some of the other thoughts in my head! Later, -- K

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Unpleasant Training

I spent two days last week in a Cruelty Investigations workshop. This kind of training always leaves me in a funk. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil in my profession. The only way to stop criminals is to study what they're doing and prepare for an interception. In the words of Sun Tzu, "Know Thy Enemy."

The speakers were prosecutors, police officers, forensic technicians, veterinarians and ASPCA cruelty investigators. Topics included:
  • Blood Sports (dog fighting and cock fighting)
  • Crime Scenes
  • Evidence Collection
  • Forensic Testing
  • The Fourth Amendment
  • Hoarders
  • Interagency Collaborations
  • Petitioning for Custody
  • Writing Warrants

There's a link between violence toward animals and violence toward people. As more studies come out it's becoming obvious that animal abuse should be taken seriously. I know . . . duh. But sadly, crimes against animals have been considered "less than" for decades. Things are changing, albeit slowly. Various agencies -- animal control, police departments, code enforcement, social services -- are forming interagency task forces to stop violence and abuse. The FBI has recently started tracking various animal crimes in a national database. This is a topic that I'll share in another post soon.

I'm not going share 90% of what I learned with you guys. At least not here. Some information I want to keep close to the vest. Honestly, I don't want the bad guys to know what I know. Do I think that one of the 20 people reading my blog is an animal abuser? No. But animal abusers may or may not be trolling the internet looking for animal welfare warriors sharing information. (Just like astute animal welfare warriors may or may not be scouring the internet looking for bad guys.) Yeah, this job makes me a bit paranoid sometimes!

And I'm not going to share the details of the ugliness either. Please don't ask. (Yes, people ask!) Let's just say, it's horrific. You know how when you see a movie there's a disclaimer at the end that says "No animals were harmed?" Well, the videos I see don't have that. In fact, harming animals is the entire focus of those videos. The depravity of people is sickening. Some days I don't want to get out of bed. Sometimes the things I've seen haunt my dreams and I wake up sobbing.

On a regular basis people tell me tell me "I could never do your job." That's OK. Some days I can't do it either. There's a fine line between the desire to make a difference and emotional burnout (sometimes called compassion fatigue -- a good topic for a future post).

But please please don't say "I love animals too much to do your job." People tell me this all the time as well. It takes all I have not to scream "FUCK YOU, you self-righteous prick!" What I hear is "You must be able to do this job because you don't love animals." I'm hoping that's not what's intended, but let's set the record straight.
  • I don't do this job for the money. (Even after 14 years of doing this, I still make less than the average assistant manager at McDonalds.)
  • I don't do this job for the accolades. (Regular readers know that most of what people say to and about me is ugly!)
  • I don't do it for the sexy uniform. (Wonder why I've never shown you a picture of my uniform?)
  • Nor do I do this for the (not so) regular hours or (definitely not) clean work environment.
I do this job BECAUSE I love animals. I have the strong stomach, thick skin, analytical mind and just enough attitude to do it well (most days). That being said, if I was offered a better paying job with less shit (figurative and literal) I would probably take it.

OK, I'm starting bum myself out. Time to wrap this up and go play with the dogs. Later, -- K

Monday, November 12, 2018

Webinar Anyone?

Dave Rinke judging our 2018 AM Specialty Show
Our 2019 specially shows are five months away. We are already in show mode. This year's shows -- our first under new leadership -- went well enough. RK and I are hoping that next year's will be easier. Fortunately, we know some of the steps to take (remember I documented them last year) so we're hoping for a less stressful event in 2019.
  • We're using the same site as last year. There's been friction with the Greater Orange Park Dog Club for the past couple years. We were invited to cluster with another all-breed who would treat us more favorably. They offered to handle advertising, ring set-up and coordinate (read: potentially split costs of) judges with us. They also wouldn't require the taxing volunteers hours that OP demands. But the timing (January) and location (Ocala -- 2+ hours away) was too much for the membership to handle. So the decision was made to stay with OP and try to make nice-nice.

  • We've got the committee in place. RK is in the show chairman position again. I have stepped down as show secretary because I plan on showing Trooper. (AKC says show secretary cannot have a dog in the show.) However, I'm helping the new secretary up until the entries start coming in.

  • The judges have been secured, though it was a much bigger ordeal this time around. Last year our first two choices were available and willing. (The morning judge, Dave Rinke, was absolutely incredible! Hear him talk about judging on YouTube here. Wowza!) This year RK was told "no" over a dozen times before she got her first "yes." She went through another half-dozen names before securing the second judge. On a happier note, she found two phenomenal judges willing to do our 2020 shows.

Kent Boyles at our 2017 shows
We'll kick into high gear -- Premium, Awards, Catalog, etc. -- after the holidays. Until then we're just planning and trying (unsuccessfully) not to stress over it.
A few weeks ago RK discovered something surprisingly helpful. The AKC has stepped into the 21st century! They are now offering free online webinars on various subjects. The latest is Show Secretary Responsibilities. How cool is that?! Less than 18 months ago several of us drove 6 hours to South Carolina for a 4-hour seminar on AKC Show Committees -- and despite the travel, we still had to pay $35!
The Show Secretary Responsibilities webinar was scheduled for 3 PM on a Wednesday (because holding it when people can actually watch it is silly). Fortunately, I happened to have the day off, so I signed up. Even though I'm not doing the position, I thought it would be valuable knowledge. Besides, the secretary has a real job (imagine that) and couldn't get time off to participate. Here are some of the things I learned:
  • One must be "in good standing" with the AKC to hold position of show secretary. I'm not entirely sure what that means.
  • While the show chair and show secretary can technically be the same person, it is not recommended.
  • A person can be a show/event secretary eight times annually for conformation and/or obedience. After that there is a fee and you must be a licensed show superintendent. (Rally is unlimited.)
  • The show secretary must be on-site for the event. Since our sites ate always on a Friday, this can pose a problem.
  • Only the show secretary is to have access to the catalog before the show.
  • A copy of the breed standard must be on-site during the show.
  • The new AKC site allows premiums to be uploaded to advertise events. Hopefully this will help increase entries.
So I learned a few new things without leaving my house. Yea! I still feel woefully incompetent. Do you think this will this ever get any easier? -- K

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Rat Redemption

We were back in DeLand today, looking for rats. Like last time, we ran twice in one day.

The first time in the ring Jedi found both rats, climbed and tunneled. Yay! The judge didn't call time when we reached the 2.5 minute limit. Instead, she let Jedi finish the exercise. We were over by more than a minute, earning a big NQ (non-qualifying score). But we walked out of the ring cheering and celebrating anyway -- Jedi knows nothing about time.

The judge's kindness must have boosted Jedi's confidence. On the second run Jedi completed all the requirements in just over two minutes. Not only did he earn another leg toward his Open title, he was the 3rd fastest time.

We still have one more leg to complete before earning the Open (RATO) title. Unfortunately, it looks like we won't have the chance to do so until January. I hope he remembers what to do! I'll keep you posted. -- K

Friday, November 9, 2018

You're Not Forgotten

I've recently discovered something about myself. I can't work a full-time job, train & compete with my dogs and blog about everything that's going on. The best I can do is two of the three at any given time. So until I win the lottery, you're going to have to agree with Meatloaf.

Are you singing in your head now?
I know the blog has been quiet lately. The good news is that I've been busy. I've got posts about training I've taken for work and through the AKC, they just need to be fleshed out. I sent in entries for Barn Hunt this Saturday and a conformation match next Saturday. Hopefully those will be newsworthy. I'll share when I get so free time to write. (Let's hope things are slow at work this holiday weekend!) But for now, I need a nap. -- K