Friday, November 4, 2016

Lessons from Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew tore its way up the coast of Florida last month. By all accounts we should have been hit a lot harder than we were. The following news clip is real!

Fortunately, there wasn't a whole lot of damage for us. Something shifted last minute and the predicted "catastrophic damage" became days long power outages and tons of downed trees. My biggest annoyance was that I was without cable and internet for several days. However, I don't think the community was as prepared as we could have been. I hope you (and I!) never have to experience a massive hurricane. But if we do, let's do it right. Here are a few things I learned:
  • Watch the news. Our local newscasters were thrilled to share news of the approaching storm. (I actually think they were disappointed that there wasn't more damage.) Anyone paying attention knew the storm was coming and had time to prepare. Surprising, too many people didn't.
  • Know your zone. My city has flood zones and evacuation zones. Days before the storm hit the mayor started evacuating people by zone letter. First A, then B, and finally C. I can't tell you how many residents didn't even know which zone they were in.
  • Buy supplies early. Ideally, you'll have a hurricane kit ready to go. But to be honest, we haven't had a major hurricane in a dozen years and many of us have become complacent. The news reported outages of gas and bottled water for days leading up to the storm. Bread, batteries and plywood were also hard to find.
  • Stock up for your pets too. Make sure there is enough food and water for the animals as well as people. Don't forget regular medicines, treats, leashes and poop bags. Pull out your carriers and vet paperwork in case you have to leave suddenly.
  • If you're going to evacuate, plan ahead and leave early. Hotels away from the storm route fill up quickly. It's even harder to find one if you're traveling with animals. I have a pair of friends who left the area with five German shepherds between them. My friends said they called 30 hotels in Georgia before they found one that would accept their pets.
  • Research the shelters beforehand. My city is proud to say that there are several pet-friendly shelters available for residents. It sounds great until you read the fine print. Jedi is not allowed because he's intact. Drogo would have to stay behind because no reptiles are allowed either.
  • Crate train! All shelters and most hotels insist that animals are kept crated. My son has a friend who was going to evacuate but had to change plans because his not-so-dog-friendly pit bull had never been in a crate before. He didn't even own one (and we didn't have a spare to lend him).
  • Stay inside until the storm is over. This should be a given, but there are always dumbasses and thrill seekers who want to see what's going on. The evil voice in my head wants to see more of this:

The Atlantic hurricane season doesn't end for another month. I'm hoping we don't get a late storm, but if we do I'd like to think that I'm prepared. I hope you are too. -- K

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Back in the Ring

We're trying to do this again!
It's been a year since Jedi and I have been in a conformation ring. I've contemplated neutering him and ending his show career permanently. While I was busy waffling I got notice that the International All-Breed Canine Association (IABCA) shows were coming back to the area. We really enjoyed them last year and friend convinced me to do it again.

IABCA shows are good for the novice/insecure exhibitor (like me). They provide an opportunity to show dogs in a relaxed atmosphere. A primary focus of the IABCA shows is education and a sharing of knowledge between the exhibitors and the judges. The shows ae smaller and exhibitor is given a written critique encompassing 12 different parts of a dog's body and movement. Each dog is judged against the breed standard. The judges enjoy the shows because they can take the time to talk to each exhibitor without the time limits seen at AKC shows.

It's a two-day show, but Jedi and I are only showing on Saturday. My work schedule is crazy and I can't take Sunday off. (I'm STILL training New Guy. He's just not "getting it" and Boss is too stubborn to cut him loose and start over.) Even more frustrating, Hubby has a gig this weekend so Jedi and I are going to Ocala alone. The friend who talked us into entering the show will be there, but her work schedule has her leaving Jacksonville late Friday. And she's bringing three dogs so we'll be in separate hotel rooms. Long-story-short: I'm nervous!

I've got a lot to share, but not enough time. (The story of my life!) It's Thursday morning and I need to cut this short. Jedi and I have nosework class in an hour, then we need to start grooming and packing. And we should probably practice stacking and gaiting. You'd think that four years into this dog show thing I'd have my shit together! But then again, if I weren't such a hot mess this blog would be a lot less interesting, right? I'll keep you posted. -- K

P.S. If you happen to be near the Greater Ocala Dog Club grounds on Saturday, stop by and say "Hi"!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Awww...Costumed Critters

It's Halloween!!

As I mentioned yesterday, it's my favorite holiday. We ALL dress up! Lucky for you, it's also Awww...Monday, where a group of bloggers try to bring cheer to the beginning of your work week. Animals in costumes always make me giggle (I don't know why) so I give you:
Pepper, who was always ready to play dress up.

Roxy, a good sport with an entire wardrobe of silly costumes.

Jedi, who doesn't find dressing up like Yoda funny at all.

Drogo, who thinks dogs shouldn't have all the fun.

So, are you smiling? You know you are! Click around below to see what others are sharing today. Thanks to Sandee at Comedy Plus for organizing this hop every week. And thanks to my awesome pets who tolerate my silliness. Don't eat too much candy! -- K

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Fun and Candy

My Roxy Bee and Julie the Wonder Dog at
a charity fundraiser for homeless pets
Tomorrow is Halloween! It's always been my favorite holiday. I share a lot of the festivities with my dogs -- costumes, silly pictures and pumpkin treats. (But not candy! That's all for me.) As fun as Halloween is for us, it can be a bit stressful for the dogs. Below are a few tips I've picked up over the years to help keep my dogs safe and happy.
Supervise dogs around decorations. Dogs can sometimes be too curious for their own good!

Watch your jack-o-lanterns. They're not toxic, but you don't want the pups eating the pumpkin goo when you're carving. Too much pumpkin can upset a dog's stomach. You want to make sure dogs don't knock them over either, especially if you use candles to light them.

Lock the dogs in a back room on All Hallows Eve. The constant flow of costumed children is too much for my dogs. Whenever possible, we sit on the front porch so that kids don't ring the doorbell. If your dogs still get too wound up, talk to your vet about dog-safe sedatives.

Not all dogs like costumes. Sometimes a festive bandanna is all a dog is willing to wear. If you're going to dress the dogs up, make sure that costumes don't hinder their movement or vision. My dogs don't mind costumes as long as their ears aren't covered.

Make sure dogs wear collars and tags -- even under costumes. This is my inner ACO speaking. With all the commotion of the evening, there is a chance that someone can slip out unnoticed. If that happens, you want to make sure your pets are returned right away. In fact, go and check everyone's tags right now. Are they legible? Are the phone numbers correct? If not, please get new tags right away.

Keep candy away from the dogs. This includes the kids' treat bags. Pepper chewed the bottoms out of several candy filled pillow cases in her time. Chocolate (my favorite!) can be lethal. So can xylitol, a sweetener found in sugar-free gum and candy. Sugar is not good for dogs either. Below is a helpful infographic from Orvis.

So, be safe and enjoy the holiday. See you next month! -- K

Dogs and Candy: Sweet Safety Infographic

Dogs and Candy: Sweet Safety Infographic by Orvis.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Trials -- Nosework and More

It's been busy around here! Since my last post:
  • A new guy started at work
  • We've had two GSD Club meetings
  • A major hurricane blew through Florida 
  • I hosted the K-9 Obedience Club meeting -- and it was spooktacular!
  • Jedi and I had two weekends of UKC nosework trials
WHEW! This is the first time I've had the opportunity to sit down and blog. I missed it. Truthfully, I hate writing catch-up posts, but there's not enough time to break it down into individual posts. Plus, some of it is old news anyway. So, here you go:

New Guy: The new ACO trainee started on October 3. It's been a rough month. It's difficult to train someone to do your job while still doing your job. And contrary to what most people think (including New Guy) mine is not an easy job. There's a lot of multi-tasking and thinking on your feet. We have standard operating procedures, but no two situations are alike. New Guy was supposed to be up and running at the end of four weeks. Didn't happen. Week five starts tomorrow and Management is breathing down my neck to have him ready to go. Unfortunately, New Guy has never worked in civil service or in an enforcement role. More challenging is the fact that he has very little computer or office technology experience. (But his lack of a criminal record, zero drug use and no visible tattoos or piercings made him my boss's #1 pick.) My work is cut out for me. This last month has really stretched my teaching skills. Suggestions, prayers and happy thoughts are most welcome!

GSD Club Meetings: St. Francis Animal Hospital has moved into a new building. It's so high tech! One member convinced the hospital to give us a behind the scenes tour and let us use their conference room for our October meeting. How cool was that?! St. Francis has a new veterinary Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) chamber and the staff was thrilled to tell us all about.

The regular meeting was followed a Meet-the-Breed Committee meeting at a nearby restaurant. I shared last month that our club is hosting the GSD Meet-the-Breed booth at the AKC National Championship shows in December. Did I mention that I'm terrified? Thankfully, I have another member heading it up.

Hurricane Matthew: This storm gave us all quite the scare. The news was forecasting "catastrophic conditions" for the east coast of Florida. Something happened last minute and our storm damage turned out to be much lighter than predicted. BTW, we're not complaining! However, most of us learned that we've become complacent. We haven't had a hurricane hit in over a decade and we need to prepare better for the next one. I'm working on a post about that now and hope to have it ready for you soon.

Some of the fun foods offered at the meeting
K-9 Obedience Club: (This is my other dog club -- 'cuz you can't have just one!) Every December K-9 Obedience Club passes around a sign-up sheet asking members to provide refreshments for the monthly meetings. Last year I volunteered to host October. At the time I had no idea how busy this month would be. UGH. But an equally fun friend joined me and we went all out, theme and all. The menu included: monster fruit cups, candy-filled shot glasses, mini pumpkin pies, vampire donuts and jack-o-lantern carrots and cucumbers (with a not-so-spooky ranch dip).

Back-to-Back UKC Nosework Trials: We hit Ocala one weekend and St. Petersburg the next. All-in-all Jedi had 11 different trials. He passed 10 of them. He walked away with a Novice Vehicle (NV) title, a Novice Exterior (NE) title and a Novice Interior (NI) title. He also passed PTs in clove, myrrh and vetiver. I learned a lot about my dog, met some great people and came home with a handful of ribbons. One thing I didn't do was take a single picture. Fortunately, someone else did so I can show you this:

One scented Q-tip hidden among 12 identical boxes -- and he found it!
OK, so you're caught up. Told you I was busy! And things were busier than I wanted. I had originally asked for several days off this month (Sundays are my regular work day) so I could attend the ORT and the UKC trials. Even though I have 200 hours of personal leave on the books, my request was denied. I was told by my bosses "We don't know your job well enough to train the new hire, so you'll have to adjust your hours if you want to go." That means I've been working 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday, packing and travelling on Fridays, competing on the weekends, then returning to work on Monday to repeat the cycle. I'm exhausted!

Hubby took this at the hotel in
St. Pete. Jedi and I were pooped!
There's more I'd like to share with you, but it's already after noon and I really need to get going. This is a short weekend for me. I'm returning to my regular Sunday through Wednesday schedule. Yesterday was Catch-Up-On-Chores Day -- not fun! My weekend is being cut even shorter by a work-related community relations event this afternoon. I'm getting paid, but I'd really like to sleep. (Though more likely, I'd end up writing the agenda for next week's GSD Club board meeting.)

Thanks for sticking around. I've missed my blogging buddies. (BTW, even when I'm not posting I'm lurking on my favorite blogs.) I have more news and several posts in the works, so please come back. Hopefully New Guy will be ready to go soon and I'll have more time -- and energy -- to share with you all. Until next time, -- K

Monday, October 3, 2016

Awww...Birthday Boys!

Four years ago today I was at work putting together a gut-wrenching dangerous dog case. My phone chirped seven times. My friend/breeder texted me every time a puppy was born. It was a bright spot in a very unpleasant day.

Two months later I brought home the puppy with the blue collar, forever after known as Jedi. My friend chose the big fluffy boy with the orange collar, later dubbed Dozer.

Left to right: Jedi, Dozer and Tundra
Yesterday, in between Odor Recognition Tests, we had a small birthday celebration complete with party hats and doggie cookies. The boys were joined by Tundra (Dozer's adopted brother and Jedi's Nosework classmate).

Dogs in hats always make me smile. How about you? It's Awww...Monday, where a group of bloggers come together to brighten the start of your work week. Click around below and see what others are sharing. Thank you Sandee for putting this together each week. Happy Monday! -- K

Sunday, October 2, 2016

We Are Blessed

Look, it's Pup Francis!

Yesterday Hubby and I took the dogs to a Family Pet Fair at a nearby park. Pet-centric businesses set up booths to sell goods and services. Trainers and veterinarians were on hand to answer questions. Local shelters and rescue groups had dogs available to for adoption. The dogs seemed to enjoy themselves. The event ended with a Blessing of the Pets ceremony.

I found it touching. My dogs mean a lot to me. Hubby thought the whole thing was silly (but took pictures for me anyway -- what a good husband). Whether you agree me or Hubby, I'm sharing a few pictures from the event for today's Silly Sunday post.

A great big thank you to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for putting this together every week. Click around below to see what others have to share today. Hope you're having a great Sunday, silly or not. -- Kelley
Roxy and Jed received a personal blessing from Father John

My sentiments exactly!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

ORTs, Take Two

Can't forget this!
Jedi and I are trying this again. Regular readers may remember that we didn't pass the NACSW Odor Recognition Test last January. We drove all the way to West Palm Beach for that one too. Well, it's being offered again. This time we're headed Gainesville. It's only 90 minutes away so we're going to make it a one day thing. Forgoing a hotel stay saves us a lot of money! But even for a day trip we end up taking a lot of stuff. I'm making my pack list now. It includes:
  • Jedi's NACSW Official Scorebook
  • Crate
  • Crate fan and extra batteries
  • Martingale collar (this is his nosework collar)
  • 6 foot leather leash
  • Easy-up canopy (it's hot!)
  • Chairs for me and Hubby
  • Ice chest
  • Sandwiches/snacks for people
  • Bait (chicken!)
  • Water for everybody
  • Water bowl
  • First aid kit (I always carry one when traveling with the dogs)
  • Poop bags
  • Camera
  • Cash
Well, I'd better start packing the car. We're meeting with friends at 5:30 in the morning and caravanning to Gainesville. I'm excited. And nervous. Wish us luck! -- K

P.S. We passed!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dogs in Hot Cars (Again)

Some things shouldn't have to be said
Some of the most frustrating Animal Control calls for me are dogs locked hot cars. We live in Florida where it can be brutally hot from Easter to Halloween. I don’t understand why anyone would subject a dog to these Hell-like conditions. Apparently dogs in hot cars bother other people too, because I'm always getting questions about it. People want to know what do I do and what can they do as well.

Here's my procedure:

When I arrive on scene the first thing I do is run the tag. Dispatch can usually give me the name attached to the vehicle. I'll grab a passerby or two and have them run into nearby shops and restaurants calling for the owner.

I then start collecting evidence. I keep an infrared thermometer in my truck. I take three different readings, average them and then ask dispatch to record the temperature in CAD (the Computer Aided Dispatch system). I describe everything I see:
  • How many dogs?
  • What size? Color? Possible breed?
  • Is there water in the vehicle?
  • Does the dog appear distressed or listless?
  • Is it panting, drooling or foaming at the mouth?
  • Are the windows down and how far?
All this information is recorded by the dispatcher.

Infrared thermometers read temps
through closed windows
I take pictures of the vehicle from all four sides, making sure to include a license plate number and position of the windows. I want the pictures to reflect how much shade there is (or is not) on the vehicle. I take a picture of the dog.

If the owner hasn't arrived within 5 minutes, I take the temperature again and have it recorded. I note any changes in the appearance or behavior of the dog. I test door handles to see if they're unlocked. I call an officer and/or supervisor for assistance. (If I have to break into someone's vehicle and pull out a dog, I want backup.)

99% of the time we find the owner within 15 minutes. He gets a lecture and a big fat cruelty ticket.

Good to know information
If we can't find an owner after canvassing the neighborhood and/or the dog is in medical distress and/or the internal temperature is at a dangerous level then we will break into the vehicle and impound the dog. This is a process and takes time. Bystanders get frustrated with the wait. What they don't understand is that there are legal ramifications to breaking into a car.
Civics Lesson: The 4th Amendment prohibits Illegal Search and Seizure from the Government. As a government employee, I need to prove that there are exigent circumstances (i.e. dog will die if I don't act now) which allow me to violate a person's Constitutional rights. P.S. The City will get sued anyway.
Should a dog be removed from a car due to heat, it is immediately taken to a veterinarian for examination. The dog's body temperature is taken and everything possible is done (at the City's expense) to cool the dog down quickly and safely. Everything is documented for evidence.

After the ticket is written/the dog is impounded, I gather various documents that will be helpful should we go to court. I make sure to have any vet records. I get a copy of the CAD Report from the dispatcher showing all the transactions during the incident. I also go to Weather Underground and print out the weather report for that day and time. (I like this site because it shows the current temperature as well as the humidity, heat index and "feels like" temperature.) I print my pictures, copy the citation and write out a narrative while the incident is still fresh in my mind. I put everything in a folder and wait for the subpoena.

What you can do:

Good news for those of you living in Florida. As of March 14, 2016, private citizens can legally break into hot cars to remove dogs (and people) without being sued. However, HB 131 states that there are things you need to do first.
  • Make sure the vehicle is locked
  • Call 911 or law enforcement before entering the vehicle
  • Use no more force than necessary
  • Remain with the person or animal until first-responders arrive
Bad news: Even though you're allowed to break into people's cars, not everybody appreciates your efforts. Several months ago a mother and son saw a dog locked in a truck in Clay County. It was 93 degrees outside. The couple opened the truck door and pulled out the dog. The dog/truck owners promptly returned and beat the snot out of the Good Samaritans (full story here).

More importantly, you can educate people. Ignorance is a big part of the problem. Most people I deal with have no idea how hot the inside of the car gets until I show them the infrared thermometer reading. Positive, proactive things you can do to help include:
  • Educate yourself (more info on the subject here)
  • Buy your own infrared thermometer (less than $20 on Amazon)
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors
  • Include hot car dangers in your humane education lessons for children
  • Order and distribute materials from places like My Dog is Cool (or make your own)
  • Encourage businesses to post warning signs in store windows and parking lots
  • Submit articles to local newspapers and newsletters
  • Ask your vet to display hot car information in the waiting room
  • Share videos like the one below on social media

I hope you feel empowered and better informed. I know it's the end of September and many of you are thinking "Why is she sharing this now?" Well, it may be sweater weather for my northern friends, but we've got another month or two of HOT here in Florida. We're looking at 90 degrees all weekend. I know, ugh. TTFN, -- K

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Real vs. Fake Service Dogs

Photo courtesy of St. Francis

OK, time for another rant. There will be profanity and name calling. Sensitive people should leave now.

I'm on several GSD Facebook Groups. The other day someone talked about passing her dog off as a service dog so that she can take it into stores with her while running errands. The rest of the group blasted her -- and rightfully so. But Lying Lisa is not alone in her deception. It happens a lot more than you think.
  • I know people who take their GSDs into restaurants and just let people "assume" the dogs are services dogs. (It's wrong. It's a lie by omission. I've spoken up and refuse to dine with them.)
  • There are places on the internet where you can buy vests and ID cards to "Turn your dog into a service dog for only $59.95!" (I'm not going to tell you where. And if you go looking for them, I wish a pox upon you.)
  • People think they can get out of an animal control ticket because "He's a service dog." Never mind that the dog can't provide any type of service while running on the beach 100 yards from the owner. Or that it's Mom's service dog, but Mom is a home right now. (True stories! BTW, those people got tickets AND civics lessons.)
I'm not going to mince words: People who pass off fake service dogs are selfish pieces of shit. And they make it harder for people who legitimately need a service animal. As an ACO I get training on Service Animals and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) on a regular basis. I know that a person with a service dog can be asked two questions:
  • "Is this a service animal?" and
  • "What services does it provide?"
So when people say "I don't have to tell you!" I know that they are unfamiliar with the law and are probably lying. News flash: Service dogs are required to adhere to leash laws unless doing so hinders their ability to work.

Service animals DO NOT have to wear vests (though many do) nor are they required to have ID cards. So when people insist on showing me the dog's ID "as proof" I also suspect that they are lying. (They spent $59.95 for nothing!)

Unfortunately, the way the laws are currently written make it easy for someone to lie about a service animal. It's frustrating. Business owners are afraid to confront people because if they are wrong, they are "violating a person's civil rights." There are lawyers who specialize in this type of case. It's cheaper to err on the side of caution. I hear the frustration from the fed-up business owners and the general public. You may be surprised to know that the biggest complainers I meet are people with legitimate service dogs. Fakers hurt their reputations and weaken the acceptance of real service dogs. Let that sink in . . .

My personal opinion is that things will change eventually. I believe there will be some sort of official certification. (However, there will always be selfish POS dog owners who will try to skirt the system.) I have some good news for Florida residents: On July 1, 2015, registering fake service dogs became a crime. Law breakers can get a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. YEA!

I've also noticed that people assume that a "Service Dog," an "Emotional Support Dog" and a "Therapy Dog" are all the same thing. They're not. And rules are different for each of them. The people at Orvis developed the infographic below to help explain it better AND they gave me permission to share with you! Enjoy, learn, and -- most importantly -- don't be a selfish POS. -- K

Is That a Real Service Dog?

Is That a Real Service Dog? Developed by Orvis.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fenzi Failure

Several months ago I mentioned that I had signed up for a Fenzi Dog Sports Academy online class. I was very excited because the instructor, Sue Ailsby, has written many articles that I really enjoyed. Long story short: it was a bust for me.
  • The timing was bad for me. My partner at work quit just as the busy summer season was starting AND I was tying to plan a trip to California for the entire family.
  • The format wasn't good for me either. It was very fast paced and the $65 bronze level doesn't allow interaction with the instructor. (I can't afford the several hundred dollar class that does!)
  • I do much better with the feedback and accountability associated with a traditional class.

I love this book!
I have access to the lessons for the next year, so I can (in theory) work at my own pace. However, I get distracted and can easily become overwhelmed. I need someone (lovingly) riding my ass. *sigh*

I'm not giving up yet. I still want try Rally. Beginner Novice looks "doable" but we'll need help getting there. I had planned on taking Rally classes with Trainer once the nosework trials were over, but after last week's news (she's leaving!) I'll have to come up with a Plan B. I'm still trying to find a way to get my Dog Club's weekly training meetings reestablished -- that would help -- but I've shared how slowly that's moving. Any ideas?

Anyway, I've got enough to worry about for now. We have three nosework events in October. We're also looking at an IABCA conformation show in November. I'm excited. And a tiny bit terrified. I'll keep you posted. Later, -- K

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Love My Trainer

It's Thursday, so that means nosework training. Jedi and I have been training at the same place since January. It's the highlight of my week. And with all the nosework trials next month we're really stepping it up. I'm excited and nervous at the same time.

We would have never gotten to this point without the encouragement and direction of our trainer. We started taking classes with her because the location was convenient. It's a five minute drive from my house and she had a daytime class. I've stayed with her for nine months because she's absolutely incredible. She has a knack for reading dogs. There are three German shepherds in our class and each one is different. Trainer will set up a scenario and say "I predict that Jedi will do this, Tundra will do that, and Ayko will do something completely different." Funny thing, she's usually right.

Trainer has the ability to tailor instruction to each dog so that he will succeed. It's amazing to watch. Some dogs pick up new things faster than others, and sometimes that makes owners me feel bad. Not Trainer, she actually enjoys coming at a problem from a different angle so that a dog will get the concept. I love my trainer!

So, you can imagine my surprise when Trainer told us today that she has to close the business. She's moving and taking a "real job." I can't begin to describe how depressed I am right now. I don't know if we'll ever find somebody able to fill her shoes. I just want to cry!

For now we're going to keep training. I want us to do well at the trials next month -- it would make her proud. But after the holidays we'll have to figure out something. I'd hate to lose momentum. And crazy as it may sound, I love getting together with friends and working our dogs. I don't want to lose it. Any ideas? -- K

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why Won't People Do Things With Their Dogs?!

Stock photo, not one of mine
When I took over as president of the Dog Club, one of the things I wanted to do was get people out and doing more with their dogs. (We have German shepherds -- these are not good dogs for sitting around the house doing nothing.) Well, this goal has proved to be more difficult than I thought. I've found all kinds activities for members and their dogs that were inexpensive (if not free). Very seldom do I get more than a half dozen people to show up. It's disheartening.

Last Saturday the Club held a Canine Good Citizen test. I put a lot of work into this. I found a park and tried to pick a date that didn't conflict with anything. I sent the requirements out via email months in advance and told people to practice -- it's not as easy as you may think. I sent out multiple reminders. I had the club member administering the test do a presentation at our monthly meeting. The Club charged $5 -- just enough to cover the cost of forms -- and the administrator promised to retest any dog that didn't pass for free at a later date. (Seriously, you can't find a better deal anywhere!) Well, four people showed up. FOUR. I was disappointed. So much so that I've deleted the first few drafts of this post because they were too negative -- even for me. *sigh*

Me and Jedi in St. Augustine
I can't understand why people don't want to do things with their dogs -- especially people who go out of their way to join a dog club. I've been trying to reinstate the Club's weekly training get-togethers for over a year now. Members all say "Great idea!" but when I ask for specifics like "Please scout out locations" or "Pick a regular day and time" the membership instantly becomes apathetic.

Roxy and I enjoying
a picnic at the beach
I'm frustrated. I estimate that 75% of the dogs in our club seldom leave their houses. What kind of life is that for a dog? (Even more tragic for a breed that needs physical activity and mental stimulation.) After every lackluster turnout a nagging voice reminds me that all the time and energy I spend setting up activities for members and their dogs takes away from time and energy I could be spending with my own dogs.

OK, enough whining. I know it's not productive. When I was elected president I told the Club that I would only do two years, so I'm done in June regardless of what happens. I'll continue to do my best until then, hoping that the few who do show up enjoy themselves. In the meantime, do you have any ideas to increase interest? How do I convey the fun, excitement and -- dare I say -- emotional fulfillment you get from doing things with your dog? Or should I just say "Screw it, let them figure it out themselves" and play with my pups instead? -- K

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Jedi Gump

I took Jedi for a walk in the park. He jumped up on a park bench and I immediately thought of one of my favorite movies -- Forrest Gump. What would Forrest say if he were a dog? I'm thinking maybe something like:

It's Silly Sunday -- what do you expect? Want some more silliness? Check out the posts below. As usual, thanks to Sandee at Comedy Plus for putting this hop together every week. Later, -- K

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dumping Your Dog

One of the worst parts about being the German Shepherd Dog Club president is that my information is out there for the world to see. People find my email and phone number on the website and contact me about all sorts of things. Sometimes they contact me about dumping dogs. My heart breaks every time. For some reason, it's harder to deal with this as Club president than it is as animal control officer. Maybe because when I'm in uniform I expect it. (Wow, how cynical is that?)

I hear you screaming "What? Why? Who would do that?!" I've discovered that people dump their dogs for various reasons.
  • Sometimes the dogs are the last of a litter. People contact the club hoping to find buyers here. Truth is, they're wasting their time. Dog club members get their dogs from two places: a reputable rescue or a reputable breeder. We are not going to buy a dog of questionable lineage from an unknown potential backyard breeder. (Yes, I know that sounds very arrogant.)

  • Sometimes these dogs were impulse buys and owners are having buyer's remorse. Adorable puppies quickly become challenging adolescents. German Shepherds are a breed that needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. I've said many times, German shepherds aren't for everybody.

  • Sometimes the dogs have health or behavioral issues that owners are unable or unwilling to deal with. Owners contact the club hoping to pass their problems on to somebody else.

  • Sometimes housing situations change. Whether people are moving by choice or not, it can be difficult to find landlords and HOAs that allow large dogs or specifically German shepherds.

  • And sometimes times, the owners' health changes. These are the most heartbreaking calls. Owners become ill or disabled and can't care for a large, active dog. Even worse, owners die and family members aren't able to take the dog.

I try to be non-judgmental and empathetic when people contact me about dumping their dogs. To be honest, I fail. In my head I call the dumper all kinds of obscenities. But then I take a deep breath and try to do what's best for everybody the dog. Here's some advice that I give to the dog dumpers that cross my path.

Call your breeder (if you have one). Your breeder put a lot of time and effort into creating that dog. She cares very much what happens to it. She probably has ideas and will most likely take the dog back. Also, this may be in your contract and failing to notify her could be a breech, making you subject to legal action.

Don't wait until the last minute. Doing what's best for the dog takes time. There is nothing more frustrating than people saying that they're moving and have to get rid of the dog by 5 PM. Very few GSD rescue/foster families or perfect-fit forever homes can be found in few hour window.

Don't make any rash decisions. Every dog owner has had a "If he does that one more time . . ." moment. Chewed items, potty training setbacks, barking or jumping combined with a stressful day can make anyone want to throw in the towel. Please, sleep on it. Remember why you got the dog in the first place. Chances are you'll feel better in the morning. Then there are the women (and it's always women) who call because they've been given a "me or the dog" ultimatum. I always ask "Are you sure you're making the right choice?" We both know she's not, but 80% of these women dump their dogs anyway.

Don't forget to look for other options. Bad things happen: people lose jobs, families get evicted, pets have to make a visit to the emergency vet. All of these can be devastating to an already strapped household. Crises make people feel that they have to get rid of the dog to survive. That's not always the case. There are groups and programs that will help with food, medical expenses or temporary boarding. A good shelter will be able to point you n the right direction. An overburdened, underfunded shelter will not. Since most shelters I know fall into the second category, I suggest you start a what-if list of resources now.

Don't think you're going to make your money back. Dogs are poor monetary investments. Regardless of what you paid for your dog, he's not going to have the fair market value that you want. It's best to expect to take a loss and focus on finding the right home for your dog instead.

Don't pass the problem on because you're uncomfortable making difficult decisions. It's too late for that. You promised your dog you would do what's best for him. That includes tough decisions. If your dog is sick, go to the vet. Yes, they're expensive, especially if you have a chronic problem. If your dog is a jerk, pay for a trainer. Intensive training can also be expensive, and time consuming. If your dog has severe medical or behavioral problems, the most humane thing may be euthanasia. Bindi's family had to make that choice. It's sucked, but it was the right thing to do.

Don't repeat your mistakes. Before you go out and get another dog, honestly assess what went wrong this time. Was it a lack of time? Money? Housing? Ability? Knowledge? Make sure you're prepared next time, and make sure you're getting a dog for the right reasons.

Don't beat yourself up too much. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things go wrong. Sometimes a dog is just mentally unstable, or a bad fit for the family, or had a serious illness. Sometimes you suddenly have to care for an aging parent, battle cancer have to take a job across the country. If you've done everything possible and you still have to give up your pets, I'm truly sorry. I've been there and I know it hurts like crazy. Forgive yourself.

And if you do end up dropping your dog off at the shelter, go with a thick skin. Those who work there are most likely jaded and they will lump you in with all the jerks they've already dealt with. When I worked at the county shelter we took in 100+ animals a day. On a good day, we adopted out 20. Do the math. Even when you send everything you possibly can to rescues, there are still more coming in than going out. And when people are told "We are full, your animal will be euthanized" half of them just don't care. The excuses that come with the dogs are often frustrating. I've had people dump animals because:
  • "The dark fur clashes with the new furniture."
  • 'We're going on vacation and can't afford to board the pets."
  • "The landlord saw the dog and now he wants a pet deposit."
  • "We work 60 hours a week."
  • "We're having a baby next month (and yes, we adopted the dog 2 months ago)."
  • "I didn't think a lab mix would get this big."
  • "Mom is coming to visit and she's allergic."
Yeah . . . So even if you have a real emergency situation, there are 100 people before you that have already ripped the heart out of that shelter worker -- and it's only Monday. Maybe this dark-humored video will help you understand. (The premise: What if people discarded family members at the shelter like unwanted pets?)

OK, enough of the ranting. I'm going to log off and have a good cry. Then I'm going to take my dog for a walk and/or open a bottle of wine. Why? I received yet another dump request this morning. That's three this month. Apparently Dump Season came early this year. -- K

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Seeing Double

Jedi was one of 10 puppies. Ever since the whelping box, he and his brother, Dozer, have been the best of friends. They get so excited when they see each other -- whining, wagging, and dragging whoever holding the leash. Last week Jedi and Dozer met up for an event downtown. A friend snapped this picture:

It's Wordless Wednesday. Truth is, you don't need words to see how handsome these brothers are. Click around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K

Monday, September 12, 2016

Awww...A Walk in the Park

The weather is becoming more bearable. It's still in the high 80s/low 90s, but the humidity has dropped below 60%. (Desert dwelling friends, this is good. For here.)

It was 95+ degrees and 95%+ humidity last month. Trust me when I say UGH. I mentioned this on Facebook and a California friend asked why I would want to live here. My answer was "I like the affordable cost of living, conservative political climate, widespread greenery and no chance of snow." And I love parks where I can take evening walks and get pictures like this:

It's Awww...Monday. This is a hop where various bloggers try to brighten your Monday with Awww-inspiring posts. The blues and greens of Northeast Florida always make me say "Awww." How about you? Click around below and see if somebody else can get an "Awww" out of you as well. As always, thanks to Sandee for bringing this together every week. -- K

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Silly Wildlife

It's Silly Sunday. I woke up this morning thinking I didn't have anything to share. Then I went to work. Silly me, the residents of my sleepy beach town always give me interesting things to share.

Today I received a complaint of an owl attack. A man said that he was jogging early in the morning and an owl swooped down and grabbed his hat. He said it was a very large owl and he could feel the talons sinking in, but the hat kept it from cutting him. Wow. I feel for this guy, but I don't know what he expects from me. Owls are protected. Much like the children of diplomats, owls can be assholes and do whatever they want -- theft and assault included -- and there's not much anyone can do about it. That being said, I alerted Dispatch that we have a delinquent raptor in town.

(Interesting note: I also received two calls from people in the same area saying that their cats are missing. Think they could be related?)

Last week I was flagged down in the nature preserve. A man told me that there was a raccoon hanging around the picnic tables -- and it was daytime. I know this critter. I told him that she is a very friendly raccoon. People have been feeding her, despite my warnings. I assured him that she was healthy and recommended he yell and throw rocks to shoo the raccoon away. The man was flabbergasted that I wouldn't trap the raccoon and haul her off. I explained that FWC does not allow me to relocate healthy raccoons. Indignantly he said "But you don't understand, I have children." With as little sarcasm as possible, I told him "No sir, you don't understand. This is a nature preserve. Raccoons live here. This is her home." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I watched an Eastern Diamondback slither across his campsite just last week. However, I did call Dispatch to let them know that a raccoon was begging by the bathrooms, should anybody else call to complain.

Silly people. The town is a tree sanctuary. You cannot cut down a tree without the express permission of city government. No kidding! What do people expect? The place is full of wildlife. If residents knew what I knew half of them would crap their pants. I've seen foxes, coyotes, opossums, armadillos, raccoons, bobcats, otters, nutria, alligators, hawks, eagles, owls, wild pigs, lizards, turtles and snakes. Two years ago we even had a bear wandering a neighboring beach.

As I mentioned, it's Silly Sunday. A great big thank you to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for putting this together every week. Click below to see what others have to share today. Hope you have a silly Sunday too. -- Kelley

Friday, September 9, 2016

Nosework Update

Waiting for his turn at nosework class
A couple weeks ago I shared our nosework dilemma. [Abbreviated version -- Five days of nosework trials in October; Not sure if I can afford the money/time off right now; I'm a big fat chicken.] Well, yesterday I swallowed my anxiety, submitted my leave requests and wrote a bunch of checks. Jedi and I are going to take advantage of every available opportunity. I keep telling myself that this is why we've been training for the last nine months.

I felt a little better after class this week. Because of the storm and various scheduling conflicts, we haven't had nosework class in three weeks. And true to form, I didn't practice in between classes. However, Jedi found the odors like a pro this week. No cataloging, no pussyfooting around. He got a whiff and went straight to the source. Good boy Jedi!

Starting next week, we're switching things around at class. We're going to different locations and will concentrate on vehicles and exterior searches. Hopefully this will help prepare us for the upcoming trials. (And maybe provide some nice pics for the blog.) Ideally I'll throw in a few extra practices too. If everything goes right we could end the year with a nosework title. Wish us luck! -- K

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Stormy Shepherd

Hurricane Hermine has come and gone. She left us a few downed tree branches and some great beach pics -- taken with my phone no less! Take a look:

The morning before the storm hit. I was on regular beach patrol.

The afternoon after the storm passed. Jedi needed some exercise.

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

Monday, September 5, 2016


It's Awww...Monday, so I'm going to share what always makes me say "Awww."

I can't resist the head tilt. (I think Jedi knows it too.)

So, did the tilt elicit an "awww" from you as well? Click around below and see what other awww-worthy things people are sharing today. A big thank you goes out to Sandee over a Comedy Plus for hosting this hop every week. TTFN, -- K

Sunday, September 4, 2016

SMH (Shaking My Head)

Not the squirrel in question
I've told you some of the strange calls that I've received. Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief. Unfortunately, even police officers can come down with a case of the stupids from time to time. Today I'm sharing some of real situations where normally rational officers have called for back up from Animal Control.

A shift sergeant was flagged down by a citizen who had watched a fat squirrel dart across the road. The squirrel wasn't injured, but "appeared out of breath." The sergeant called on the radio and told me to go check on the squirrel and make sure it was OK. The squirrel was gone by the time I got there, but I still had to knock on doors (yes, really) and ask if anybody had seen a fat, freaked out squirrel. I was also told to check for a large stick that the passerby placed next to Supersized Squirrel for reference.

A woman found her cat with a rat in its mouth. When she tried to take the rat from the cat, the rat bit her. The officer in charge called me at home -- at midnight no less -- to ask what to do with the rat. I won't repeat what I told him!

One officer called me because a sparrow had flown into the dry cleaners while he was picking up his uniforms. I told him to prop open the door and I'd be there in a 5 minutes. Surprise! The sparrow flew out the same way it came in before I got there. So which one had the birdbrain that day?

Not the raccoon either -- same pose though
I was dispatched to assist the police in a neighboring city. They had a raccoon at the elementary school. I drove 20 minutes to discover that the raccoon was sleeping in a tree about 20 feet off the ground. The police didn't know what to do. The raccoon wasn't bothering anybody but they were afraid he might wake up and chase children (seriously!) so we spent the last hour of the school day watching a raccoon sleep "just in case . . ."

A rookie officer was concerned because a turtle was crossing the street between two ponds. I showed up, got out of my truck and moved the turtle. Problem solved!

I was dispatched to another neighboring town because there was a raccoon at the dentist's office on a cold February morning. (FYI: 50 degrees is cold in Florida.) I arrived on scene and saw two police officers guarding the parking lot. They said the raccoon lying on the blacktop was sick. I got out my catch pole and walked towards the raccoon. It jumped up and took off like Usain Bolt. I swear the raccoon gave me the finger as he ran up a tree. I asked the officers why they thought it was sick. The tall one said "He was just lying there in the sun." I asked "Like he was trying to get warm?" The other officer gave me a sheepish grin and said "Yeah, maybe . . ."

The reason I find these stories so funny is because the absurdity of the situation is contrary to the level-headedness that these guys normally possess. But they're human and susceptible to stupid moments like the rest of us. Fortunately, they all have good senses of humor too. I hope you had a good laugh at their expense.

Guess what my friends . . . it's Silly Sunday! Want some more silliness? Check out the posts below. A huge thanks to Sandee at Comedy Plus for putting this hop together every week. Later, -- K

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Eukanuba News

I've told you about the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show in the past. I LOVE it! The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando is taken over by dogs for a whole week. Forget Disneyworld, THIS is the happiest place on Earth for me. There are:
  • conformation dog shows
  • agility, obedience and rally trials
  • dock diving contests
  • grooming competitions
  • seminars and demos
  • lots of freebies
  • AKC representatives
  • dog show 101 tours
  • meet-the-breed booths for every AKC recognized breed
  • over 100 dog-centric vendors selling things you don't even know you want yet
  • 5000+ gorgeous purebred dogs from around the world
I've been to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show twice and have already scheduled this year's vacation around it. It's one of the country's biggest dog shows (probably second only to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show) and it's only a three hour drive from my house. So why am I talking about the show three months in advance? Well, a couple of Eukanuba-related things have come up lately that I think are worth sharing.

First off, there's not going to be an AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show this year. Don't panic! (I did.) There's still going to be a week of dog shows in Orlando this December -- it's just that Eukanuba isn't hosting it any more. For the next 15 years the show is going to be sponsored by Royal Canin. (To be honest, my picky dogs won't eat either dog food brands, so I don't care who's doing it.) Royal Canin has promised that the show will be just as wonderful as ever. The most notable difference will be the d├ęcor. It will change from Eukanuba pink to Royal Canin's signature red and gold. For information about other changes and to see the line up of events, check out this article from the Canine Chronicle.

And the second bit of news is even more exciting. The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida -- my club! -- has been asked to host the German Shepherd Meet-the-Breed booth at the show. We feel honored. And excited. And overwhelmed. And a tiny bit terrified. (OK, maybe that's just me.) We're still in the early stages of this so I don't really have specifics. However, I will be at the AKC National Championship Dog Show Presented by Royal Canin (what a mouthful) in Orlando, Florida on December 17 and 18. If you are going to be there to, please stop by the GSD meet-the-breed booth and say "Hi." I may even have Jedi with me. (It's OK, I know you'd rather meet him.)

Exciting news, isn't it? I'll keep you up-to-date as things develop. And I'll try to remember to take lots of pictures in December. However, longtime readers now I suck at taking pictures. It might be best if you come to Orlando. You know you want to! See you at the show, -- K