Sunday, September 30, 2012

Almost There!

I spent Thursday evening with a very pregnant Zasha. Hubby took a few pictures to document how big she's gotten. Her milk has already come in! I guess that's a good sign. I was told that if you're really careful you can feel puppies moving around inside her. I tried, but I couldn't feel anything. *sigh*

Zasha and I spent most of the night snuggling. She has the sweetest disposition and was soaking up the all the affection. With her huge belly in the way, there are a few spots that she can no longer reach. She would position herself so I could rub her belly and scratch her chest. When I would stop she'd stare at me with big, brown eyes and guilt me into starting up again.

Trump wasn't about to be ignored during all this. He kept bringing spitty toys for me to throw. (Notice the polka dotted pig in the picture?) Trump also likes belly rubs and would say thank you with a good ear licking. He's almost two, but has a lot of puppy in him. He and Hubby chased each other around the house and had us all laughing.

Zasha went in for x-rays on Friday. The vet counted seven puppies! They can come any day now. I can't wait. I hope my puppy has a temperament as nice as his mother and half-brother.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Obedience Trials

I spent Saturday morning at K9 Obedience Club of Jacksonville. There were two rings set up: Obedience in one and Rally in the other. A GSD Club member was running her dog (the Infamous Julie) through Rally, so I spent most of the morning watching her. The big thing I learned from the day is that I still have a lot to learn about obedience trials. I've been doing a lot of reading and thought I understood the rules. Apparently I don't know bupkis. *sigh* I can build a missile, drive a stick shift and navigate the Japanese mass transit system -- so why is this so difficult?! I'd like to say that the confusion is because the club was using UKC rules (as opposed to AKC) but I have my doubts. I hope it'll make more sense when I'm actually running a dog through it. K9 Obedience Club is only about 20 minutes from the house, so Puppy and I will probably be joining the club sometime in the future.

I feel more confident about Rally. First of all, the instructions are on the course, making it easier to know what to do next. I like the fact that the handler is allowed to walk the course beforehand too -- no surprises! Best of all, you're allowed to talk to your dog the whole time. However, I have a feeling that the Infamous Julie made it look easier than it probably is. I'm not totally clueless though. Six months ago Son #1 bought me an excellent book all about Rally called The Ultimate Guide to Rally-O. I think I could actually do this!! I can't wait until Puppy gets old enough to participate in Rally with me. Of course, he needs to be born first . . .  -- K

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Missing the Good Old Dog

I saw this picture on Facebook and it made me cry. It's been three months since we lost Logan. I thought I was past the tears. I guess not. I miss my old dog.

Logan wasn't always an old dog. When we first met he was young and full of life. I was working at the county animal shelter and he had been picked up running at large. I was responsible for cleaning the dog runs. I would try to hose out his cage but he kept biting at the water. After ten minutes his cage would still be dirty and he would be soaking wet. I got fussed at for taking too long to clean. Eventually I discovered that the dog was friendly, so I could pull him out on a leash and tie him to the wall while I cleaned his cage. He had a lot of personality and I found myself returning to his cage when I had a free moment. I fed him ham through the bars and we became fast friends. I often wondered why nobody claimed him. When his hold time was up 10 days later I said that I wanted to adopt him.

Logan at Animal Control. He looked so sad.
The vet staff found problems while working him up for adoption. Apparently the dog was older than they had originally thought. He wasn't 3 years old; instead, he was somewhere between 5 and 7. Even worse, he was heartworm positive. The vet said his infestation was moderate to severe. And to top it all off, it looked like he had been eating rocks because his front teeth were badly worn. The vet tech felt that the dog was not a good candidate for adoption and tried to talk me out of my decision. But he was such a good dog; I couldn't imagine letting him die. Hubby was very supportive. He said "So we may not have as much time with him as we'd like. We'll just have to make the most of what we have." See why I married him?!

I called in every favor I could to bring this dog home. The shelter vet agreed to do the heartworm treatment (a $600 value) but I had to take him home and put weight on him first -- he was about 20 pounds underweight. Also, I would need to have my private vet check his liver and kidneys (he was fine). Lastly, if the dog died from the heartworm treatment the shelter wasn't refunding the adoption fee. Still, I was thrilled! I was finally getting the German shepherd I had been dreaming of for 25 years. Mom was so happy she sent me his adoption fee as an early birthday present. I chose the name Logan for two nerdy reasons.
  1. Logan was Wolverine's name (from the X-Men). And like Wolverine, this handsome guy had a mysterious past.
  2. The situation reminded me of the old sci-fi movie Logan's Run where Michael York escaped imminent death.
Logan strong, healthy and gorgeous.
In my professional life I instruct people on adding a dog to the family. I tell them:
  • Everybody in the family (including other dogs) should meet the dog to make sure there is a good fit.
  • Introduce the new dog to the current dog(s) on neutral territory to avoid conflict.
  • If at all possible, have the dog temperament tested.
  • Do not bring home the first dog you see, instead try to be objective.
Yeah, right. I didn't do ANY of it. Fortunately, he was a great dog -- despite my faux pas. He walked beautifully on a leash, never got on the furniture and had no aggression issues. We nursed him back to health and had him for a good seven years. I still miss him. -- K

Sunday, September 16, 2012

FUN Match Recap

Yesterday was awesome! I am so sorry if you missed it. The weather was great, except for a 20 minute shower around noon. Thankfully we set the rings up under cover! I met some really interesting people. We had a husband/wife team judging for us. They are professional handlers in real life and are just as nice as can be. What a wealth of information, with some pretty fun stories too. I could have spent all day talking to them. And did I mention that they were really nice? Not at all like the snooty handlers I’ve met at other shows. 

We had more dogs participating this year. We had everything from a tiny Chihuahua to a pair of 6 month old mastiffs -- the size of German shepherds and still growing! Our big winner of the day was a long-haired dachshund. We had quite a few Belgian shepherds – sleek malinois, gorgeous tervuren and one lakenois. I’d never seen one of those before. They kinda look like ugly labradoodles. There were LOTS of German shepherds there too. (Imagine that!) Loyalville Kennels brought out a litter of 4 month old puppies to socialize. They were sooo cute – you know I helped “socialize” them. This was the first time a couple new members were able to show off their dogs. There was Gabriel, the most beautiful black and red shepherd I have ever seen. He has perfect cat feet and super soft ears. And I finally got to meet McKenna, a retired police dog. She is so smart! Her owner has been telling stories about her for months.   
I won!!
The raffle was a huge success. I spent too much money, as usual. But I did win something: a gift basket with a Frisbee, some treats, a squeaky toy and a Nylabone. I told Hubby that they’re early birthday presents for Puppy. 

The most exciting part of the day for me was seeing Zasha* and Trump again. Trump is from Zasha’s first litter. I love, love, LOVE him. I threatened to sneak him out in my purse last time I saw him. Unfortunately he’s huge, and I don’t have a purse big enough. I guess I’ll just have to wait for his half-brother to be born. Zasha is really showing. The poor girl is uncomfortably pregnant and feeling a bit moody. I don’t blame her, especially after seeing her ultrasound pictures (below). She is chock full of puppies – at least that’s what I’m told. I can never read these things. By the way, the anticipated whelp date is October 5th. I don’t know if I can make it another 3 weeks!! -- K

*Zasha is my future puppy’s mama. Keep up!

My puppy is in there somewhere

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dieting With My Dog

Apparently I'm not the only chunky woman in the world with a chunky dog. Author Peggy Frezon even wrote a book about it. And I bought it. Dieting With My Dog: One Busy Life, Two Full Figures . . . and Unconditional Love arrived in the mail last week. This is an  autobiography from a 40-something empty nester. Peggy had the same health issues I do: high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose combined with a sweet tooth and an aversion to exercise. When she realized that her dog Kelly wasn't doing too well either, she decided to change their lives for the better. It's not a bad story, but I wish there were more examples. I know the formula for weight loss: less calories, more exercise. Sometimes I just need things spelled out.*

I'm hoping that the new puppy will help me lose weight. I mentioned this to a friend of mine and she had a funny take on the situation. She said "If you're going to show a German shepherd you need to be able to keep up in the ring. You don't want your dog look bad because you're out of shape!" Thanks Girlfriend for putting it into perspective!

The big question: Can I keep up with a flying trot?

*Someone spelled it out for me! Go to Dog Diets: Losing Weight With Your Dog for details.

Club Stuff

I'd like to take a minute to brag about Dog Club. I LOVE my dog club. We get together and do some amazing dog things and I have met some amazing dog people.

Tomorrow is our 2nd Annual All Breed Fun Match. We did it last year and everyone had a blast. Basically, a fun match is an unofficial dog show. People bring their dogs -- lots of beautiful dogs -- and we have a practice dog show. We're doing both rally and conformation this year. No points are given. Dogs and handlers get a feel for the ring, judges give constructive criticism, and everyone oohs and aahs over the dogs. We sell concessions and raffle off a bunch of dog-related stuff. The club makes a little money and, more importantly, it gets our name out. We discovered last year that putting on a fun match is a lot of work for the club members, but it was worth it. Everybody had fun and we all agreed to do it again. This year I signed up to be a ring steward. I'm excited (and a little nervous). I hope to see you there. If you can't make it, start planning now for the 3rd Annual All Breed Fun Match. Next year I'm participating with my soon-to-be-born puppy. I can't wait!!! And yes, there will be pictures. -- K

Sunday, September 9, 2012


This is the bumper sticker on my car
WARNING: Soap Box Time!

As I've mentioned before, I am an animal control officer. It's nothing like you see on Animal Planet. I am not "a voice for the animals" and I don't spend my days saving puppies from the perils of hoarders and puppy mills. Mostly I deal with stupid people and try very hard not to hit them with my truck. I've been doing this for over seven years and I haven't run anybody over yet. Trust me, that's a lot of will power.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who cannot accept responsibility for their actions -- or inactions -- and innocent pets pay the price for their stupidity. Is "boneheadedness" a word? If so, it would be more appropriate here! Anyway, take today for example. I get a call about puppies being advertised on Craigslist. Caller was concerned that the puppies were "emaciated" and said it was "cruelty." (It wasn't. Puppies were fat and happy. I think Caller watches too much Animal Planet.) Anyway, a woman we'll refer to as "Bone Head" was trying to sell eight 5-week old pit bull puppies for $75 each. I told her this was illegal because A) State law says that you cannot sell puppies under 8 weeks old, and B) all puppies must have a health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian (Florida has got one of the strictest "Puppy Lemon Laws" in the nation). Ms. Head's excuses were:
  1. She didn't know she had to take the puppies to a vet (and no, her dog isn't current on shots)
  2. Mama dog quit nursing and she can't afford to feed them (but she can afford cigarettes)
  3. Her apartment complex won't let her have more than 3 dogs (yes, she's keeping two puppies -- a male and a female, so I'm sure we'll be back out there again)
  4. She didn't know her dog was pregnant (yes, she knew it wasn't spayed)
  5. She can't afford to have her dog fixed (even though FCNMHP will fix pit bulls for free)
  6. She's on SSI, so the government should pay for the dogs' shots (???)
  7. HUD needs to find her a house in the country (her sense of entitlement left me speechless)
Much to my dismay, I need to be "politically correct" at work. What I wanted to say is OWNING A PET IS NOT A RIGHT!!! It is a privilege. It is the owner's responsibility to be familiar with animal-related laws. I know, that's common sense to you and me. Unfortunately "common sense" isn't required before bringing home a pet. GRRRRR. Other things I would like to say to the Ms. Heads of the world:
  • Pets are expensive. DO NOT get one if you cannot afford to care for it. This includes  food, supplies, vaccinations and regular vet care. It may also include pet deposits and municipal licenses.
  • Pets are time consuming. DO NOT get one if you are not able to spend time with it. Does your work schedule allow for quality time with an animal? If you would rather spend your off time partying with your friends and going away for the weekend please get a plant instead.
  • Pets are a long term commitment. DO NOT get one if you are unable or unwilling to spend 10+ years with the animal. Puppies and kittens lose their cuteness quickly. Are you willing to go through adolescence and geriatrics as well? Are you willing to care for a pet when your circumstances change -- i.e. a new job, relationship, or baby?
  • Pets are social creatures. DO NOT get one if you are only going to tie it up, throw it outside or leave it in a cage all day. This is just plain cruel.
  • Pets are individuals. DO NOT get one if you cannot accept your pet for who he is, not what you want him to be. Even though your friend's Lab is a calm couch potato, yours may need a 30 minute run every morning to keep him from destroying the house while you're at work. Your collie may never be as smart as Lassie. Will you be able to love him anyway?
  • Pets are annoying. DO NOT get one if you are not willing to train and socialize it. A bored animal will bark, howl, dig, chew, jump, poop, spray and irritate the neighbors.
  • Pets are stinky. DO NOT get one if you do not want to pick up poop or clean litter boxes.
  • Pets are promiscuous. DO NOT get one if you can't get it fixed, else it will be making and having babies as often as possible. An intact animal may also be more aggressive and exhibit annoying hormone-related behaviors. Cats will yowl, fight and spray, whereas dogs will jump fences and pee on everything. 
  • Pets are a liability. DO NOT get one if you are not in a stable living situation. Not all landlords, homeowners associations or insurance companies will accept your pets, especially if they're pit bulls or exotics. This limits your choices should you have to move.
  • Pets are a big responsibility. DO NOT get one if you are not willing to take care of it -- not your child, parent, spouse or roommate. If you don't personally have the time, energy or desire to take on the responsibility of caring for another living being, please put off getting a pet for now. You can always revisit the issue when your circumstances change.
If these warnings haven't swayed you, then hopefully you'll enter into pet ownership with your eyes wide open. Pets can be a wonderful addition to your life, bringing joy, merriment and unconditional love. When adding a pet to your family, please consider a shelter animal. Too many of them were previously owned by someone oblivious to the information above.

OK, off my soap box now. I think my venting just wrote my next article for the City newsletter: Ten Reasons Not to Get a Pet. I won't get credit for it. I didn't get credit for the last three either -- and they were damn good articles! Oh well, at least you can say that you saw it first. 'Til next time, -- K

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Modern vs. Traditional Dog Training

I found this article online: Modern vs. Traditional Dog Training: What's the Difference? It kind of goes along with last week's book critiques. I find some validity in both camps, though I tend to lean towards the modern methods. I don't believe in forcing a dog to submit, though I DO believe in using the word "no." I guess I'll take the same approach to dog training that I did with child-rearing: read all you can, keeping an open mind. Then take what works for you and dump the rest. (Thanks Mom for that sage advice 24 years ago.) I think I have awesome kids. I've had some awesome dogs too, so I guess I'm doing OK. I'll keep you posted! -- K

Pepper & Logan would do anything for a cookie, which made training pretty easy!!