Thursday, September 24, 2015

Information (Request) Overload

When I took over the presidency of the German Shepherd Dog Club, my phone number and email address were posted on the club's website. I knew that was going to happen. What I didn't know was that I would be bombarded by German shepherd and/or dog and/or club questions from complete strangers. I average a call or email every 4 or 5 days. In the past three months I've gotten information requests from:
  • The American Kennel Club
  • The German Shepherd Dog Club of America
  • The Florida Association of Kennel Clubs
  • Other local dog clubs
  • GSD owners with breed-specific questions
  • People without GSDs with breed-specific questions
  • People with vague, non-specific questions
  • Rescue groups looking for foster families
  • People looking for rescue groups
  • People with links to dogs in high-kill shelters but don't know what to do about them
  • People looking for breeders
  • People complaining about breeders
  • People looking to get rid of their dogs
  • People looking for a veterinarian
  • People looking for medical advice without going to a veterinarian
  • People looking for a trainer
  • People looking for advanced training tips without paying for a trainer
  • People moving to North Florida wanting advice about GSD friendly neighborhoods
  • People who live in other parts of Florida but can't find anybody locally to answer their questions
  • And finally, people actually interested about the club
I also get about two dozen emails a month from club members. All these calls and emails get overwhelming. I answer the questions as best as I can, but I am not a German shepherd dog expert. Neither am I a veterinarian, trainer, behaviorist or real estate agent. That being said, here is some of the answers/advice I've given:
I will not give out anybody's personal information without speaking to them first. I don't care who's asking.

If you are seeking a donation, please send me something in writing and I will present it to the Board of Directors. We will make a decision and get back to you. If you can't wait then the answer is no.

I can answer general breed specific questions. For detailed questions I will refer you to the breed standard and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. If you have a question about your specific dog, you should talk to your breeder and/or veterinarian.

We are an enthusiasts group, not a breed rescue. We can't take in dogs. I will gladly pass your information on to the membership and they will contact you directly if they can help. Meanwhile, I suggest you contact a bona fide rescue group. I can give you the names of the few that I know personally, but a Google search will give you better results.

I don't feel comfortable giving out medical or behavioral advice. Please seek a professional. I know they can be expensive. I'll give you the names of the vets and trainers that I know, but you should do your own research.

I will gladly give you the names of the breeders in our club. (I have their permission to do so.) I can't guarantee that they will have a puppy when you want one. However, they may be able to refer you to other breeders they feel comfortable with. I will also give you tips and resources for what to look for when selecting a breeder. Best of luck!

If you are unhappy with a particular breeder, you should contact the AKC and the Better Business Bureau. If you're in the state of Florida, I can give you state statutes about the Pet Lemon Law. I am so sorry you had a bad experience. However, I refuse to participate in any breeder bashing.

I would love to tell you all about our German Shepherd Dog Club. I'll give you the link to our website and Facebook page. I would like to personally invite you out to our next meeting and will make sure that you are welcomed by all the attending members. I'll give you the time, date and a Google map to the location, as well as my cell phone number in case you get lost.
So, what do you think? I shared this list with a friend of mine. She had two suggestions:
  1. I designate someone to handle correspondence and
  2. We have an FAQ page on our website. 
I'm not sure about the first one, but I think an FAQ page is great idea. Unfortunately, I don't have the time (or talent) to create one. I really, really wish we could find a member who not only loves German shepherds but is also a computer guru. Am I asking too much? Do you have any ideas?
Anyway, it's my (supposed) day off. I've got emails to answer and errands to run. Then I'm going to join Ruckus the Eskie, M.K. Clinton and the pups over at Love is Being Owned by a Husky and celebrate Thoughtless Thursday, where some of my favorite bloggers share random stuff. Click around below and see what others are thinking (and not thinking) about today. Later, -- K

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Autumn

The calendar says that today, September 23rd, is the first day of Fall.

The Weatherman says otherwise as he predicts even more temperatures in the mid 80s. Ugh. Nonetheless, Drogo welcomes Autumn with this festive photo.

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


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Can't Do It All

. . . And that just drives me nuts.

Jedi works that nose
K-9 Obedience Club of Jacksonville is working really hard to bring Nose Work trials to North Florida. Many of our members compete in Canine Nose Work and have to travel hundreds of miles to attend a trial.

I've shared that Jedi and I took a few Nose Work classes last year. It's something that we enjoyed and I like the thought of going further. K-9 is hosting a seminar in November, and I made sure to sign up right away. Rumor has it that K-9 will be hosting a Nose Work trial very soon. A venue has been chosen and final details are being hammered out as we speak. [Insert squeals of delight here.]

Jedi works that ring
Then why am I so annoyed? Because before a dog can compete in a trial, it has to pass the Odor Recognition Test (ORT) for the targeted scent(s) -- sweet birch, anise and/or clove depending on your level. And K-9 has set up ORTs for November 1st. Unfortunately, that is the second day of the IABCA shows in Ocala. GRRR.

I've gone back and forth over this for several weeks now. I feel that attending the IABCA shows is the better choice. As I mentioned previously, the critiques made there may affect the rest of Jedi's conformation career. However, the biggest frustration is that if we ditch conformation, Nose Work is the route I want to take. Again GRRR. And I've looked, there are only two other ORT opportunities in Florida between October and January. Both of them are a 250+ mile trip -- not easy for a dog who doesn't like to travel.

So, what's a girl to do? I don't know. Keep looking? Trust it'll all work out? Pray? Swear and throw a hissy fit? (My personal favorite.) Again, I don't really know what to do. But I'll keep you posted on how it turns out. Wish us luck. -- K

Monday, September 21, 2015

Everlasting Bento Ball

Dog shows can be mentally taxing for Jedi as well as for me. I try to find interesting toys and treats to keep him occupied in the downtime, especially in the hotel.

The day before we left I had to made yet another run to Petsmart. It started to pour outside so I wandered the store until the rain slowed down. That's when I found the Everlasting Bento Ball from Starmark. I had never seen this before, but it looked interesting. It was more than I like to spend for a toy but I went ahead and bought it anyway.

The Bento Ball comes in several sizes. I got the large. The back part is round like a ball, covered in little nubbies. There is a slit in the back where you can put in treats. The front of the ball is flat, with a lip where you insert the correct size flavored disc. (See picture.) I gave it to Jedi to see if he could figure it out. Jedi flipped it around to get the treats out -- which was challenging because it wasn't round -- and gnaw on the flavored disc. He loved it, and when he got tired of me taking pictures he picked it up and carried it into the other room. I did good this time! -- K

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Best Practices for a Dog Show

We're back from the dog shows. We took first place in our class all three days but were beaten out by another gorgeous German shepherd for Winners Dog each time. For those of you keeping score, Jedi still has zero points. I blame his bad handler (me). However, I ran into another novice handler that I met back in April. Her dog, Enzo, looked really good and she told me some of the conditioning tricks she's been using with him. I think I'm going to try them myself. Wish us luck!
Dog shows are hectic, and can be nerve racking for dogs and humans alike. On Saturday, there were nearly 2000 dogs registered in the show. That's a lot of dogs! I like to be on site two hours before we actually have to be in the ring. Jedi is so overwhelmed by all the sounds, smells and excitement that it's really hard to get him to focus. After the 45 to 60 minutes it takes for him to de-spazz, I start warming him up. We trot up and down the sidewalk, practice making left turns and do some stacking. I'll show him the bait -- usually chicken or steak -- and give him small bits to get him excited. (I keep bait in my cheek. It's harder for me to lose and it keeps him focused on my face.) Then I put Jedi back in his crate for about half an hour so that he can rest. About 15 minutes before we go into the ring I pull him out for some last minute primping. Then I get him pumped up and ready to go with a little playing and happy voices. -- I guess you can say we have a routine. I never thought of it that way.
We had a series of incidents and inconveniences this weekend that got me thinking about "best practices" for a dog show. Here's what I came up with:

Jedi prefers this type of crate
Take a crate. Dogs need somewhere quiet and familiar to decompress. Hertz Rental Car really screwed us this trip. I'm not going to go into details because I'm still pissed off. However, their ineptitude prevented us for bringing the crate. Instead, Jedi was kept leashed the entire time we were on the fairgrounds. I think his inability to relax before entering the ring showed in his performance. I feel bad about it. And I'm never renting from Hertz again.

Keep an eye on your dog at all times. One of the nice things about a crate is that your dog is safely tucked away so you can focus on other things -- like socializing, picking up your number or watching the judge with other dogs. However, if your dog is on leash you must be aware of what he's doing. ALWAYS. I see far too many dogs sticking their faces in crates or up other dogs' butts because handlers aren't paying attention. This is just a fight waiting to happen.

Follow the rules. With 2000 dogs and even more people, rules must be followed else pandemonium will break out. Rules are put into place for the safety and well-being of all involved. One rule is no flexi-leads on the show grounds. Here's why: Just after we arrived on Saturday morning a full grown lab broke its flexi-lead and charged right at us, teeth bared. Fortunately, Hubby had Jedi. He stepped between Jedi and the ass-lab and firmly yelled "NO!" The lab didn't care and still tried to get to Jedi. A man was running from one direction and a woman from another, both yelling at the dog, but the dog wouldn't stop. In desperation, Hubby karate kicked the lab in the head. HARD. The man finally grabbed his dog and we quickly walked off to hear a second woman yelling "That's why the rules say no flexi-leads!"

See the knee behind Jedi? That's the "Man." Grrr . . .
Be your dog's advocate. Like I said, the show environment can be overwhelming. Your dog needs to know that you will keep him safe. Sometimes that means asking someone to move a dog away from your crate. Or karate kicking a lab in the head. Or risking being rude for the sake of your dog.

On Sunday I was chatting with a couple sitting ringside before it was my turn to go in. They gently reached out and patted Jedi. He didn't mind and I thought that was that. As we were getting ready to leave for the day, I handed Hubby the leash and went over to gather up our stuff. Behind me I heard barking. Without even looking, I knew that was Jedi, and I knew he wasn't happy. I turned around to see Jedi standing between Hubby's legs with his butt leaning against the ring. The male half of the couple from earlier was encroaching on them both. I couldn't hear what Hubby was saying but his body language was tense. I pushed through the crowd and ran over to my dog. Through clenched teeth Hubby said "Let's go."

In the parking lot I got the rest of the story. Man had come over to talk to Jedi and Hubby. During the conversation, Man had leaned over the dog. Jedi growled. Hubby asked him to back off saying "He doesn't like people in his face." Man said that it was okay, because he has a German shepherd. Hubby asked the man to back off a second time, as Jedi backed between his legs. Jedi was pinned in by the ring. I'm sure he felt trapped. That's when he started to bark. Hubby told Man a third time to back off because he was going to get bit. Instead of backing off, Man crouched down at eye level, still in Jedi's face. Hubby centered himself and tightened up on the leash, hoping he could stop Jedi from lunging. Fortunately, I showed up at that very moment. I pushed Man out of the way and gave Jedi the rest of the hot dog we used as bait that day. Yes, my dog was rewarded for not biting.

Buy this sign here!
PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG. Of all dog owners, dog show people should be the most conscientious when it comes to poop. Unfortunately, they are just as rude as everybody else -- if not worse. What kills me is that I hear dog show people moan and groan all the time about not finding venues willing to hold shows and hotels not allowing dogs. Am I the only one who sees a correlation here?! If word got out that dog show people are clean and considerate then more places might be willing to let us in. The kicker: Hotels and hosting clubs go out of their way to leave bags and trash cans in conspicuous places so people can dispose of the poop. But. They. Don't. It just chaps my hide. Can you tell?

It's been a long weekend and I still have to unpack and do laundry. 5 AM comes way too early on Monday mornings. Ugh. One of these days I'll take off the day after a show weekend so I can recoup before going to work. (My friend kindly reminded me that I say this after every show, but never do it.) Later, -- K

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Grooming Day

Rain, Rain Stay Away
Jedi Has a Busy Day
We have a weekend of shows starting tomorrow. The weather looks bad and I need a few rain free hours to groom Jedi. Cross your fingers!
Getting to this:
Takes a lot of this:
For fun, I gathered up all our grooming stuff, piled it on the grooming table and took a picture. Want to know the routine?
(done in the living room)
  • Ears
  • Nails (clip and file)
  • Trim feet (hair between pads, around nails)
  • Teeth (brush, scrape if necessary)
  • Use rake to clear out undercoat
(done on the table in the back yard)
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Volumizer
  • Zoom Groom is used to reach skin and remove loose hairs
(dry on table, brush in the living room)
  • Towels
  • Forced air dryer
  • Use pin brush to remove loose hairs
Just before showing:
(done ringside)
  • Use pin brush to remove loose hairs
  • Spray bottle/mousse to fluff chest, tail and haunches
  • Spray conditioner (added shine)

It's Thoughtless Thursday. No thinking for us, just cleaning. I go into autopilot and spend most of the time talking to Jedi. Once things slow down I'm going to click around below to see what others are sharing. How about you? -- K

P.S. I wonder how much time it takes to groom white and fluffy Ruckus. Hmmm . . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wordless(?) Wednesday

No one told Jedi it was Wordless Wednesday. Apparently he has something to say!

Click around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K

Monday, September 14, 2015

Awww...Back to School

Now that my kids are adults, I don't realize that school is back in session until I see all the buses on my way to work. Drogo posed for this photo in honor of all the hard working teachers and students out there. Keep up the good work!

It's Awww...Monday. We're joining Sandee from Comedy Plus to help bring a smile to your Monday. Click around below and see if you don't find and awww or two. -- K

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Arf Barket

I've mentioned the Riverside Arts Market before. It's a farmers market and artisans fair all wrapped up into one. Twice a year they host an "Arf Barket" where dog-centered vendors come to share their wares and services. I've always wanted to go but the timing was never right -- until yesterday! The German Shepherd Dog Club members and dogs descended The market en masse.

The weather was iffy early yesterday morning and horrendous in the late afternoon. (The news reported two Category 0 tornadoes in a neighboring county. Yikes!) But lucky for us it stayed dry, overcast and relatively cool for the event.
FYI: the food is better in the mouth
than on the shirt.
The market was full of fun for dogs and their people. There were dozens of booths with:
  • All natural treats
  • Dog food reps
  • Collars, leashes and costumes
  • Doggie daycares and spas
  • Local veterinary clinics
  • Pet trainers
  • Rescue groups
  • Dogs looking for new homes
  • Canine Companions for Independence
And then there were the regular market vendors selling foods, artwork jewelry and things I never knew existed (but bought anyway). There were musicians, street performers and a doggie costume contest. We ran into old friends and made new ones. I even got some ideas for upcoming dog club meetings. How cool is that?!

Look at that view.
While there, we met up with other beautiful German shepherds not owned by club members (I gave them my card). Who knew there were so many gorgeous shepherds in Jacksonville? And not just shepherds either. There were all kinds of dogs: big and small, purebred and mixed breed, in costume and au naturel. We left around noon as the market was starting to get really busy. I was impressed how well Jedi did with the crowd. You know everybody wanted to touch him. And guess what? Unlike last week's Pet and Community Expo, I actually got pictures this time! -- K

Some GSD club members with our dogs.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Earthbath Shampoo and Conditioner

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Go Pet Friendly. Not only does this blog list hundreds of dog friendly places to vacation, it also gives away fun stuff on a regular basis. And this time I won! I had completely forgotten that I had entered until I came home and found a box of earthbath Shed Control Shampoo and Conditioner on my front porch -- and we're talking full size 16 fluid ounce bottles, not the tiny trial size bottles. Woohoo! Gotta love them freebies!

I gave Jedi a bath on the first rain-free day I had off. The first thing I noticed about the shampoo was the smell. It was unusual but not unpleasant. It's made with green tea and awapuhi (a member of the ginger family). It reminded me of an earthy aftershave you might find the men's department. The fragrance was not perfumey or overwhelming. (Smells are a migraine trigger for me, so I'm always very careful about what I use.) The conditioner had a similar fragrance.

The shampoo left Jedi clean and shiny. And the conditioner made his coat nice and soft. Honestly, I don't know if it made a difference on the shedding. (When you have German shepherds you just stop noticing the hair. It's part of life, like air and dust.)

I had never heard of this company before. But thanks to the internet, I discovered some very nice things about earthbath:
  • earthbath shampoos and conditioners are all human-grade, but are pH-balanced for pets’ more sensitive skin
  • all earthbath products are paraben free
  • and all earthbath products are vegan/cruelty free (there is no testing on animal nor do they use animal by products)
So, would I use earthbath again? Yes! I'm having fun checking out all the other products available from this company too . . . AND they're available on Amazon. Score! -- K

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Different Type of Show

All the dog shows I've shared so far are American Kennel Club (AKC) shows. Next month Jedi and I are entering a different type of conformation dog show put on by the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA). These are more like the European style of dog shows. There are two shows per day (a total of four in a weekend) each under a different judge. Judges give every dog a written critique encompassing 12 different parts of a dog's body and movement.

The entry fees for these shows are a bit higher then I'm used to paying, and since there are four shows in two days its going to be a pretty pricey weekend. However, I'm hoping to get some answers here. Maybe these critiques will let me know where Jedi and I are lacking. Is he not getting points because he's got a bad handler (AKA me) or is there something wrong with his conformation? Depending on the answers we get, we may give up on the show ring and move on to something else like obedience or nose work.

Meanwhile, I just got the judging panels for the shows next weekend. NEXT WEEKEND! As usual, I'm not ready. I need to make hotel reservations, check on my show clothes, double check my tack box, buy bait the ring, practice stacking . . . why do I always go into panic mode before a show?

It's Thoughtless Thursday, so I'm going to just stop thinking about the shows for the day. Instead, I'll hop around below and see what others are thinking (and not thinking) about today. (Thank you Ruckus the Eskie, M.K. Clinton and the pups over at Love is Being Owned by a Husky for hosting this hop.) I'll return to panic mode tomorrow. And as always, if you happen to be near the Volusia County Fairgrounds next weekend, come by and say hello. See you at the show! -- K

Monday, September 7, 2015


It's Labor Day and I'm headed to work. (Yes, I do see the irony in that.) I'm hoping for a slow day at work, but I'm not holding my breath. I've had bite calls every Labor Day for the past six years. The good news is that I get time and a half to help pay for the upcoming dog shows. And I get to go home to this:
I LOVE THAT FACE! It always makes me say "Awww." How about you? Click around below to see other things that will brighten your day. -- K

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pet and Community Expo

Today was a big day for Jedi. Hubby and I took him to the Pet and Community Expo down at Dogwood Park (the biggest dog park I've ever seen). This is the first time the park has hosted an event like this. I'm hoping it's not the last because it was awesome! Naturally, the expo was dog friendly. I didn't expect to see so many vendors and booths. There were at least 30 and they included:
  • Veterinarians and vet clinics
  • The local after hours emergency clinic
  • Doggie daycare and boarding facilities
  • Pet trainers
  • Rescue groups
  • Pet boutiques
  • Dog food vendors
  • Handmade collars and costumes
  • A pet photographer
  • Groomers
  • A Pet crematorium
  • An at home euthanasia service
  • A Fit Paws representative
  • Grooming supplies
  • All kinds of unique dog products and paraphernalia
  • A pet friendly apartment complex
  • Several food trucks (for people)
  • Dock diving demonstrations
  • Obedience and agility demonstrations
  • Dogwood Park membership information and discounts
We met several girlfriends and their dogs at the park and we wandered the Expo together. I was pleasantly surprised at how well behaved Jedi was. He ignored other dogs and allowed all kinds of strangers to pet him. It didn't hurt that these strangers gave him cookies. He is a pig dog after all!
I was also surprised by how many other people I knew were there as vendors. I guess the animal community is a smaller community than I thought. I was recognized by somebody at every third booth and had to stop to schmooze a little. I don't know if Hubby was annoyed or amused. The part that kills me is that I had both my phone and a camera and didn't take one single picture! Luckily, I have friends who did and they posted them on Facebook. So, thank you Pam ab d Anne for these pictures!
I gathered a handful of business cards today. I plan on spending the next couple of days checking out various websites. However, here are a couple of my favorite so far:

I loved these leash hook/treat jars from Southern Bark Boutique. I'm thrilled that she's local too!

I bought a couple of Pawsmetics products from a local Pawsmetics representative. I've heard about this company but have never seen them available. I'll review the pet insect repellent and deodorant spray after I try them out. Has anybody else tried these?

And finally, Vivid Collars had an awesome Star Wars collar that I wish I'd bought. It was $18 and I was trying to budget. I had planned to stop there on my second trip around but the sky opened up and I ran to the car, forgetting all about the cute things I had seen. Dammit.

Apparently all that sniffing and socializing wore poor Jedi out. He flopped on the cold bathroom floor when we got home and he is still out cold. Come to think of it, I'm tired too. I think I'm going to take a nap myself. TTFN, -- K

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Don't Waste Your Money

I saw the Fetch N' Treat interactive dog toy at Petsmart and thought it looked interesting. I've been trying to teach Jedi how to play basketball (don't ask) and I thought this would help teach the "drop the ball here" concept. I forked over $30 and took it home.

I had seen something similar on the internet about a year ago. That one was much more expensive and used smaller balls that I thought Jedi might choke on. I like that the Fetch N' Treat is designed for larger dogs. I also like that there are no batteries required to operate it. Instead, the treat dispenser is activated when a regular sized tennis ball is dropped into the hole on top. (Jedi likes loves treats, so how's that for positive reinforcement?) Then the ball is returned and the process is repeated. Sounds great, but the Fetch N' Treat doesn't perform as advertised.
  • First off, the ball doesn't shoot out, as the picture implies. In reality it kind of dribbles out, reminding me of my kids eating pudding before the Novocaine wears off. And sometimes the ball gets stuck and doesn't come out at all without wiggling the machine.
  • The hole where the ball needs to be dropped isn't very big, and Jedi doesn't aim very well. The ball often just bounces of the top and lands on the floor. No treats for floor balls.
  • Even when Jedi does get the ball in the hole, the treats don't come out consistently. Sometimes 3 or 4 treats come out, and sometimes no treats come out. Not fair! Jedi learned that it's easier to just knock the whole thing over and bat it around to make the treats come out.
So while I was licking my wounds over wasting $30, Hubby sent me a link on Facebook for this:
That's the GoDogGo Fetch Machine. No, I'm not going to get it. It's $144 and Jedi's not big on playing fetch past the first couple of throws. (Logan, on the other hand, would have loved this!) So for now we're just going to play fetch the old fashioned (and frugal) way. Meanwhile I need to figure out how to teach Jedi to drop a mini basketball into the net. (Any ideas?)

Before any of that, however, I'm going to do some blog surfing because it's Thoughtless Thursday! Wanna join me? Click below and enjoy the randomness you get when Ruckus the Eskie tells everybody "Don't think, just link." Seriously, this is my favorite hop of the week. -- K

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Roxy's Wordless Want

Son #2 is Roxy's boy. She absolutely adores him and will do all she can to get his attention. He posted this picture on his FB page last week.

Is there any doubt about what she wanted?

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