Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Don't Be a July 5th Statistic

NOT my dog. Jedi would never sit still for this. *sigh*
P.S. The dog pictured above is Fabulous Finn! See comments.
Tomorrow is July 1st. I don't know about you, but we had makeshift fireworks stores pop up all over town. You can find a tent with sparklers and Roman candles in every major parking lot -- and people are lining up to buy them too. July 4th falls on a Saturday this year. I expect it to be a loud and crazy weekend. But before you run out and buy more charcoal and watermelon for your block party, let's talk about your pets.

I’m going to put on my Animal Control hat for a moment. July 5th is the busiest day of the year for me. Many pets run away because they're afraid of the fireworks. Others wander off unnoticed during family get-togethers. My kennel is full of these guys the first two weeks of July every year. Sadly, less than 25% of the dogs and cats picked up by my agency are returned to their homes. Too many animals are transferred to the county shelter simply because an owner can’t be found. (The county shelter's return-to-owner numbers are just as dismal.) Here are a few things you can do to prevent your pet from becoming a statistic:
  • Crate and/or lock your pets in a back room during busy parties and 4th of July celebrations. If you have an overly-anxious dog, talk to your vet about sedatives and/or Thunder Shirts.
  • Keep collars and ID tags on your dogs and cats at all times. Overwhelmingly, people tell me that their pet wasn’t wearing a collar because it “never leaves the yard” or “just had a bath.” My response: 1) Animals couldn’t care less about property lines and 2) if they’re dry enough to go outside, they’re dry enough to wear a collar.
  • Microchip your pet. This is a good backup should the collar come off. Most vets and ACOs have microchip scanners and are able to trace chips back to the registered owners. Please note: microchips are an implanted form of ID, not GPS; an animal’s location cannot be tracked through their microchips. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know this.
  • Keep your contact information current. Is the tag on your pet readable? Are the phone numbers correct? Has your contact information changed since your pet was chipped? The best time to replace tags and update microchips is now, before an emergency. Don't know how to check your chip? Go here for more info.
  • Contact Animal Control as soon as you notice that your pet is missing. Animals are only held for a short period of time. Don’t wait a week “hoping he’ll come home on his own.” Otherwise, when you call it may be too late.
  • Check craigslist.com for your missing pet. If you don’t see him, post a lost pet ad under the “Lost & Found” (NOT “Pets”) section. My office returns pets through craigslist all the time.
  • Post a lost pet notice on Facebook and ask everybody to cross-post.
  • Facebook has several Lost & Found pages. Post pics on your page and ask people to cross-post.
  • Have recent pictures of your pet. You may need them to create signs and lost pet ads. Puppy pictures of your 10-year old dog aren’t very helpful, especially when dealing with mixed breeds.
  • Visit the Missing Pet Partnership for more recovery tips based on your animal's personality.
Hopefully your pet will never get out. Should it happen, however, a little preparation now can save a lot of heartache later. -- K

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Look of Love

My aunt took this picture of Jedi in Alpharetta. I think she did a beautiful job capturing his expression. What do you think?

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Catching Up

No offense to the guy below, but
I prefer my reptiles to have legs and eyelids.
Wow, it's been a while since my last real post. Despite what it looks like, I've been doing more than just dressing up my lizard and taking pictures. In fact, something pretty big has happened. I was elected president of my local German Shepherd Dog club. This is a big deal, even bigger than I had imagined when I said yes. I'm still trying to process everything. I've discovered this newest endeavor is much like showing dogs -- it's harder than it looks. I'm looking for fun and exciting ways to reenergize the club. Any suggestions? (And like my dog show saga, I will share -- warts and all.)
The weather has gotten extremely hot, so we're putting our dog showing on hold for a bit. I am in no shape to be running around the ring in Hell-like heat! To keep Jedi from going stir crazy in the house, we're picking up nose work again. K-9 Obedience Club of Jacksonville is working hard to bring nose work trials and Odor Recognition Tests (ORTs) to north Florida. With some work -- and a bit of luck -- Jedi and I could earn titles in our own back yard! We've registered with the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) and have broken out the sweet birch oil. Unfortunately, the nose work classes at K-9 are full so we're just practicing on our own at the house. eek. We (OK, I) do much better with the accountability and structure of a class, so wish us lots of luck!
Actor portrayal, not the real snake
Work has been busy as well. I'll tell you all about it in a later post, but I'll share the weirdest call of the week with you right now: Yesterday a guy brought me a dead snake in a Ziploc bag. He told me it had just bitten his daughter and wanted to know if I could identify the snake. (I know! I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!) I told him "I think it's a garter snake. However, I am not a snake expert. I strongly suggest you take your daughter to the doctor . . . and take your dead snake with you." And I said it with a straight face too!

Hope all is well with you. Until next time, stay cool. -- K

Monday, June 22, 2015

Awww...Poor Lizard Again!

Yep, still hot. We're still bored. And we're spending waaaay too much time at the craft and party stores. I'm afraid Store Security is going to put our faces on some strange BOLO, so we need to lay low for a bit. This will be the last of the Drogo Dress Up pictures -- for now. Enjoy.

We call this one "Thug Life." This one makes Hubby giggle.

Whazzup My Lizza! 
The skull is actually Drogo's basking rock from his tank. When I put it on the blanket he immediately climbed up on it and gave me the stink eye. How dare I mess with his precious rock? Too funny.
My Precious
I call this one "Party Animal." I was trying to play with light and effects all while keeping the lizard from licking the glass marbles.

Just so you know that this isn't ALL mischief, Hubby's boss is developing a game around Drogo's photos. He needed 20 different pics, so we've tried to be creative. I'll post a link to the game when it's ready to go. Until then, you can check out more of Drogo's photos on his Fashion Dragon page.

Anyway, this silliness is being linked up to the Awww...Monday and Monday Mischief blog hops. When you're tired of laughing at my lizard hop around and see what others are sharing today. -- K

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Drogo and I would like to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the men out there who work hard to provide a good life for all their little ones -- two and four legged alike.

We'd especially like to say thanks to Hubby. He has he lovingly guided two boys into manhood. He has also loved numerous dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rodents and reptiles over the past quarter century. Thanks for everything. -- K

P.S. He has also been my partner in crime when it comes to lizard pics! Click here to see what we've been up to lately!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Awww...Poor Lizard

It's time for some Monday Mischief. The dogs have been well behaved -- the humans, not so much. As I mentioned yesterday, it's HOT here. The heat and humidity just suck the energy right out of you. I had a try-not-to-move-so-you-don't-sweat kind of weekend. With props to Dr. Seuss:

The sun just kept shining.
It was too hot to play.
So we sat in the house
all that hot, hot, humid day.

I sat there with Hubby.
We sat there, we two.
And I said, 'How I wish
we had something to do!'

Too hot to go out
and too hot to play ball.
So we sat in the house.
We did nothing at all.

I can only watch so much TV before going stir crazy! So what does Kelley do when she gets bored? (Besides speaking of herself in third person?) She breaks out the camera, looks around the house for "props" and comes up with stuff like this:

Drogo Bon Jovi. Everybody sing now "Wanted, Dead or Alive."
Bonus points to everybody who knows what a Dewback is.

The weatherman says that the heat and humidity is here for a while. Coincidentally, Hobby Lobby has all kinds of seasonal stuff on sale. I fear this is only the beginning. Poor Drogo.

This is a blog hop. (Actually, two!) Hop around and see what others are getting into today and start your week off with a giggle. -- K

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It's HOT!

Whew, we're having a heat wave here in North Florida. The weathermen are saying "Stay cool and drink lots of water." Many of my friends are headed to the beach. Not me, I am not a beach fan. Instead, we're staying home -- in the air conditioning! -- and having our own beach experience. Isn't that right Drogo?

Speaking of Drogo, tonight is the season finale of Game of Thrones. I'm already going through withdrawals. Guess I'll just have to take more lizard photos. Poor Drogo. Click here to see his entire fashion page. Catch you later, -- K

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Certain Dog in Sepia

Verse for a Certain Dog

The poet died 47 years before Jedi was born,
yet it's like she knew my "Certain Dog"
Such glorious faith as fills your limpid eyes,
Dear little friend of mine, I never knew.
All-innocent are you, and yet all-wise.
(For Heaven's sake, stop worrying that shoe!)
You look about, and all you see is fair;
This mighty globe was made for you alone.
Of all the thunderous ages, you're the heir.
(Get off the pillow with that dirty bone!)

A skeptic world you face with steady gaze;
High in young pride you hold your noble head,
Gayly you meet the rush of roaring days.
(Must you eat puppy biscuit on the bed?)
Lancelike your courage, gleaming swift and strong,
Yours the white rapture of a winged soul,
Yours is a spirit like a Mayday song.
(God help you, if you break the goldfish bowl!)

"Whatever is, is good" - your gracious creed.
You wear your joy of living like a crown.
Love lights your simplest act, your every deed.
(Drop it, I tell you - put that kitten down!)
You are God's kindliest gift of all - a friend.
Your shining loyalty unflecked by doubt,
You ask but leave to follow to the end.
(Couldn't you wait until I took you out?)

                                                  ~ Dorothy Parker

I hope the poem above made you smile. It definitely reminded me a of "certain dog" I know. It's Sepia Saturday! Hop around below and see what others are sharing today. Then get out and share some time with your "certain dogs." I know they'd enjoy it. -- K

Friday, June 12, 2015

Espree Paw Balm

Jedi and I were horsing around the other day. He pawed at me and I noticed that his pads were really rough. The same day a Facebook friend had reposted a warning about dog paws and hot asphalt. I try to keep Jedi inside when it's hot, but he still walks on hot cement and asphalt occasionally. I'm sure that it would be best if he had healthy, supple pads to protect his feet. To achieve that, I thought I'd get a dog-friendly pad moisturizer for him. Surprisingly, that wasn't as easy as I thought it would be! We have multiple pet stores here and apparently this is not a popular item to carry. I eventually found Espree Paw Balm at Petco. I'm not sure I like it.

  • It wasn't overly expensive (about $9.)
  • Jedi's pads were noticeably softer after one application.
  • It comes in a small, convenient tin.
  • It's greasy. I thought it would be more like a wax.
  • It smells weird -- kind of like a cross between peppermint and eucalyptus. I'm sensitive to smells (they're a migraine trigger for me) and I don't find this one to be pleasant. 
I've noticed similar products online, many $20 and up. To be honest, the selection is a bit overwhelming. Do you use a paw moisturizer? Which one? And more importantly, do you like it?

And before I go, here's a quick reminder for us all:

Stay safe this summer! -- K

Thursday, June 11, 2015

If You're on the Fence, Get a Lab

OR Why You Should Reconsider Getting a GSD

A few weeks back a woman on Google+ had posted pictures of a Labrador retriever puppy and a German shepherd puppy side-by-side stating "I can't decide, what do you think?" My stomach jumped into my throat. After several minutes of editing my response, I posted something like:
German shepherds and labs are two entirely different breeds. They think and train differently. I have GSDs. They're smart and funny and incredibly loyal, but they're not a breed for everybody. You have to keep them mentally stimulated. They don't do well left alone at home all day. If you don't have the time and energy to train and exercise them they can become destructive, aggressive and dangerous. If you're on the fence, get a lab. PM me if you'd like to discuss this further.
Sadly, I never heard from her. I shared this with my GSD friends and they all thought it made perfect sense. Even my ACO friends "got" what I was trying to say. However, my non-dog friends (yes, I have some of those!) were confused and thought I was dissing labs. That was not my intention! So let's try again, ok?

There's a reason the Labrador retriever has been the most popular dog in America for the past 24 years. They're athletic and playful, easygoing and trusting, and usually friendly with children, other pets and even strangers. Because of this, they make horrible guard dogs.

There's also a reason why German shepherds run a close second in popularity. Described as strong, intelligent, obedient and highly trainable, German shepherds are probably the most versatile breed of dog. Originally bred to herd sheep, they're also used by military, police and search-and-rescue groups. They're both fierce protection dogs and thoughtful service dogs.

Here are a few differences. (Yes, I know these are generalities and you will always find an exception.)
  • Labs are friendly and people oriented. They seem to love everybody. Strangers are just friends they haven't met yet. German shepherds are guarded and aloof. They love their people, but strangers are judged and must be deemed worthy before touching them. Warning: not everybody passes the test.
  • Labs were bred to have soft mouths so they wouldn't maim the ducks. German shepherds are used as protection, military and police dogs because they DON'T have a soft bite. In fact, tests have shown that German shepherds have a stronger bite than pit bulls. (Here's a video. The data is interesting, but I don't like the commentary/speculation of the narrator. We can discuss his "dumb-assery" in the comments if you'd like.)
  • A lab is a retriever. They will play fetch with you until your arm falls off. Shepherds get bored with this game if you don't switch it up. After a few throws my GSDs will walk away with the ball because you're obviously incapable of holding on to it.
And my personal observations:
Jedi, worth every frustration
  • I have seen many insurance companies, apartment complexes and homeowners associations refuse to insure/allow German shepherds. I have never seen one refuse a lab.
  • The USPS chose to use a GSD for their anti-dog bite campaign. (And it pissed me off too! See rant here.)
  • I've had dozens of people tell me that they were afraid of GSDs, often saying "I was bitten by a German shepherd as a child." I haven't heard similar comments about labs.
  • In my decade as an animal control officer I've had numerous complaints of aggressive GSDs, and have seen several legally declared "dangerous." I've only had a couple of complaints about labs, though often they are lab mixes. I've seen ONE lab declared dangerous.
So why do I love a breed that can be so difficult? That's a good question. Probably because they are difficult. It's almost like you have to earn a German shepherd's love and respect. But once you have it . . . ahhh. I have the most loyal companion, the most dedicated protector, the smartest, the most beautiful, most devoted friend I can imagine. For me, it's worth the work. I'm not dissing labs (or beagles, or Chihuahuas, or mixed breeds or any other dog out there). Dogs are awesome. I love dogs. But for me, my heart will always belong to a German shepherd. And if you're going to bring one into your life I want you to do so with your eyes wide open!

I have friends who are as fiercely loyal to their breeds of choice. How about you? Is there a breed that tugs at your heartstrings harder than all the others?

It's Thoughtless Thursday! I'm joining Ruckus the Eskie and co-hosts Love is being owned by a Husky and M.K Clinton as we
"Don't think, just link!" 

Click below to see what others are NOT thinking about today. -- K

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Afternoon Breeze

Spring is quickly disappearing into summer. Here in Florida that means high humidity and afternoon showers that force everyone to be housebound. But summer's not fully here yet. Sometimes you can still find a warm, breezy day suitable for an afternoon walk. Jedi and I are taking advantage of every last Spring-like day we can find.
It's Wordless Wednesday! Hop around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K

Monday, June 8, 2015

Alpharetta Update

We passed and Jedi gave me a celebratory lick
Our Alpharetta adventure is over. It was fun and exciting, as well as hot and exhausting. Everybody from The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Georgia (the hosting club) was very friendly and the judges were great. The city of Alpharetta and the Equestrian Center were both gorgeous. We came home with a TC title (temperament tested -- passed!) but no ribbons (we came in 5th both shows). Nonetheless, I learned a lot and met some really nice people. Here are a few highlights:
Renting a car isn't a bad idea. We ended up with a brand new Ford Escape. It was a lot roomier than I had imagined, and it got great gas mileage. Our Expedition gets about 14 miles to the gallon, while the Escape got closer to 25. That adds up quickly when you're driving 850+ miles. Hubby says that the savings in gas paid for half the car rental.
Don't trust Mapquest. It doesn't account for rush hour or construction traffic -- which there was a lot of! -- nor does it factor in pit stops and potty breaks. Jedi can only ride for about an hour and a half before he gets restless. And the Escape only had a 10 gallon tank, so we stopped for gas multiple times there and back. Filling the tank and emptying the dog added about an hour to the trip. Traffic, construction and the suit debacle (below) took another hour and a half. We didn't pull into the hotel until after 11 PM, only to get up at 5 AM the following day. ugh.
The suit
Check the list! I'm a list maker. I've found that it helps me focus and keeps me from stressing out. However, if I forget to check the list bad things happen. Seriously, it's not safe to trust memory alone. We had been on the road for about 20 minutes when I realized that I forgot my suit! We had to turn around and go get it because there was no way I was showing Jedi in the ratty jeans and t-shirt that I was travelling in. The sad part is "grab suit" was on the list.
Pop-up canopies are worth the trouble. Hubby suggested we take our pop up just in case there wasn't any shade. I debated it, afraid there wasn't enough room in the car. Well, Hubby was right and I'm so glad I listened to him. Six people and four dogs would've died of heat stroke if it weren't for the canopy. We had to move it several times throughout the day because the sun kept moving, but it worked out great.
Pack as much water as you can carry. We took a case and a half of water -- and came back with four bottles. I underestimated the heat and humidity in Georgia. We were all sucking down water as much as possible, yet I think we all got overheated.
My new "must have"
Outdoor show = ThermaCELL lantern. Have you seen these things? Hubby's work sells them like crazy. He was intrigued so he bought one to see if it was "all that." It is! The Equestrian Center was teeming with gnats, flies and mosquitoes. The ThermaCELL lantern kept us bug-free as promised. Each cartridge lasted about 4 hours and appeared to cover the entire 15' by 15' area we had staked out.
Put on big girl panties and join the Open class. Once upon a time, the Open class was the biggest and most competitive place to show your dog, and the American Bred class was a safer bet for chickens newbies like me. Apparently things have changed. Yet again this show, there were twice as many dogs entered in American Bred than in Open.
And speaking of panties, it's not a bad idea to pack extras and take them to the show. This is a delicate subject, I know, but I think one that should be broached. We were at the Equestrian Center for 12 hours, sweating the entire time. I wish I had had a change of undergarments. I was soaked and uncomfortable by lunchtime. Just sayin . . .
Jedi couldn't keep his eyes open after the show
Finally, my family is freaking awesome! My aunt and uncle drove down from South Carolina to see Hubby, me and Jedi in action. They braved the heat, entertained my friends and enjoyed the show (even though they had no clue what was going on). They even brought snacks! Seeing them was definitely the best part of the trip.
It was a long, hot weekend and we're still recovering. I think this was the last outdoor show we're going to do for a while. Summer is brutal in the southeast -- especially for those of us who aren't as young and in shape as we would like to be. See you at the (indoor) dog show! - - K

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Temperament Test, Take 2

This Saturday in Alpharetta is going to be busy. I got my confirmation letter on Monday. There are going to be 73 German shepherds at this show. SEVENTY-THREE! I think the most I have ever seen at one show was 30. I am overwhelmed.

Does Jedi have this kind of self control?
Along with two specialty shows, Jedi and I are taking a temperament test. The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Georgia is bringing in official German Shepherd Dog Club of America evaluator in from Virginia to test our dogs. Passing dogs get a title (TC); failing dogs just make a nice donation to the club. I've only seen this test done twice in the 10 years: once at another club's show in Orlando, and again last year when the German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida flew in the same evaluator. We were set up to take the test then, but shit happened and we were deemed ineligible. The test is given so infrequently that it was the deciding factor to do the Alpharetta shows. Cross your fingers!
So what exactly is this temperament test I want to take so badly? It's the official GSDCA assessment of a dog's reactions to certain situations. Jedi's tests will include:
  • Unusual footing: Jedi will be asked to walk across a tarp and a piece of chain link fencing on the ground. Will he balk?
  • Sudden noises: Someone will rattle a can behind a blind. Another will crack an agitator whip. Will Jedi check it out? Will he cower? (Usually someone fires a starter pistol, but since a horse show will be going on at the same time we're testing, the Equestrian Center has asked that we not fire a gun. Horses can be skittish.)
  • Scary objects: A large umbrella will be opened at Jedi and then dropped to the ground. Will he spook? Will he recover and investigate the umbrella?
  • Neutral stranger: Someone Jedi doesn't know will walk up to me and have a conversation, ignoring the dog. This one doesn't worry me.
  • Friendly stranger: Another person Jedi doesn't know will come up to us and touch Jedi. THIS one worries me! (Sometimes he's an ass.)
  • Threatening stranger: Wearing a floppy hat, sunglasses and trench coat, a bat wielding stranger will come up and make "threatening overtures." Will Jedi attempt to protect me? Will he try to eat the bad guy?
So what is the evaluator looking for? Below is a description of the ideal GSD temperament according to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (our parent club and keeper of the breed standard):
"The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character."
Dear Jedi, don't be this dog!
Even though this is set up by the German Shepherd Dog Club, dogs of other breeds are welcome to take the test. The first time I saw the test there were several Labrador retrievers in the mix. When it came time for the gun fire, all the German shepherds turned around and looked to see where the shots came from. The labs, however, all looked up. I was confused until the owner told me that they were hunting dogs and were waiting for the bird to fall.

I have NO idea how well Jedi will do. But don't worry, I'll tell you either way. I'm hoping that I can find someone to take pictures too. Anyway, wish us luck! (And if you happen to be in Alpharetta this Saturday, please stop by the Equestrian Center and say hi. I could use a friendly face. I am so out of my league this weekend.)

P.S. It's Thoughtless Thursday! Obviously I'm overthinking this weekend. Hop around below and see what others are thinking -- or not thinking -- about today. -- K


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hang Up

. . . And Pay Attention to Your Dog!

WARNING: I feel a rant coming on!

Don't get me wrong, I love my cell phone. I'm on it all the time checking Facebook, reading email and taking awesome pictures of my dogs. In fact, I'm using it to write my blog right now! But I know when to put the phone down. I always turn it off in the movie theater and I leave it in my purse when spending time with friends, family and yes, even my dog. I feel that those who are willing to spend some face time with me deserve my undivided attention. In the past 24 hours I've seen three separate people who obviously think differently.
  • Yesterday I saw a woman walking her dog. She was too busy talking on her cell phone to notice that the dog had stopped to poop. The woman dragged the poor squatting dog about 6 feet before she realized what was going on. Instead of apologizing, she scolded her dog. And I'm sure that if I hadn't been right there, she wouldn't have picked up the poop either.
  • This morning a woman was throwing a ball into the surf for her dog. Here, dogs are allowed to play off leash as long as both dog and owner are in the water. However, this woman was too engrossed in her phone conversation to realize that her dog had ran behind her and up into the dunes to chase a dog being walked on leash. And apparently Chatty Cathy couldn't hear the other woman screaming as she tried to drag her not-so-friendly dog off the beach. Fortunately, I was paying attention and was able to step in before a dog fight ensued. And yes, I had Ms. Cathy hang up so I could write her a ticket.
  • This afternoon a man brought his black lab to the dog park. The dog was so excited that I could hear him barking long before the car pulled into the lot. As soon as the pair walked through the gate the man turned his back to the dog and put his cell phone to his ear. He completely ignored the tennis ball in his other hand, and sternly shushed the dog for barking to remind him. The dejected look on the dog's face nearly broke my heart.
Think about this the next time you're out. Your dog wants nothing more than to spend quality time with you -- why can't you give it to him? What is so pressing that it can't wait a few minutes? Who is so important that they can't leave a message on your voicemail? Ask yourself, would your dog's answers be the same if it were the other way around? You know they wouldn't, so put away your phone and pay attention to the dog!

OK, rant is over. Please return to your regularly scheduled program. -- K