Saturday, December 29, 2018

My Cruelty Case

I told you back in June that I'd just finished a cruelty case that was a bit of a doozy. The drama went on for months, but I'll try to condense it to one page for you.

I wrote a woman a ticket for leaving her dog locked in her car while she went to yoga. Again. She was pissed and called my boss to complain. Boss upheld my decision. Next she tried to get the chief of police to pull the ticket. Chief agreed with me and my boss. Then Yoga Bitch the complainant emailed the mayor and all city council members, only giving half truths (of course). The City manager was horrified at how heartless the "dog catcher" was and wrote a scathing email to the Chief. It was forwarded to me. I said a lot of those words I learned in the Navy. Then I took a deep breath and submitted my findings, pictures and the other evidence below (AKA the rest of the story). Surprise! The City officials upheld my decision as well. THEN Yoga Bitch the complainant took the case to court to dispute the ticket. UGH.

The case has been adjudicated and is now public record so I can share it with you. I've changed the names of people and places though . . . you know the drill. Below is the statement I made for court.


On April 3, 2018 at approximately 10:20 AM I received a call from Neighboring Beach ACO, Missy Evans. Officer Evans told me that she had received a report of a dog locked in a car in front of Pet Store and asked me to investigate. Officer Evans is in the courtroom today to testify to that interaction.

See the pink tongue? Position of the shade?
I arrived on scene to discover a long-haired, black and white border collie inside a dark red Lexus SUV. I called it in to Dispatch at 10:29 AM and asked for an officer to come to scene. That officer was Officer Ingram, who is here with me today.

I was approached by Becky Thomas, who stated she was the original complainant. She had witnessed a woman leave the SUV with a yoga mat and go into La Gym, leaving a dog in the vehicle. The sworn affidavit Ms. Thomas provided stated that she saw the woman leave the vehicle at approximately 10:15 AM. Ms. Thomas is in the courtroom today for cross examination.

Multiple attempts were made to find the owner of the car.
  • I asked Dispatch to run the tag so we could get an owner’s name. Unfortunately, our system was down and the tag couldn't be traced right away.
  • I called ACO Evans back and asked if her department could run the tag. She was off duty.
  • Pet Store employees unsuccessfully tried to look through their morning transactions to find the name of the dog's owner.
  • Eventually Officer Ingram was able to run the tag on her in-car computer and obtained the registered owner’s name. Officer Ingram went into La Gym to retrieve the registered owner, Ms. Beatrice Otch.
Multiple photos showed the car in full sun, windows up
I inspected the car. It was in full sun. [Multiple photos were introduced, including: all four sides of the car showing windows and license plate; several of the dog inside the car taken at different times, one showed dog drooling heavily; and the empty water bowl, with a sealed bottle of water sitting next to it.] The front windows were completely rolled up, and the back windows were down about 4 inches. I looked through the window opening. The dog was lying on the driver’s side floorboard. He was panting and his tongue was bright pink, indicating that the dog was hot. I aimed my Fluke 62 Infrared Thermometer towards the dog through the cracked, rear passenger window. A 10-second scan read 92 degrees at 10:34 AM.

I photographed the dog through the same cracked window. I also photographed a small plastic bowl (approximately 12-16 ounce capacity) that was in the car. The bowl has less than a quarter inch of water covering the bottom of the bowl. The bowl was in the sun, so anything inside was most likely warm.

No water in the bowl (but the bottle is half full)
The dog was in partial sun. All the doors were locked so I could not remove the dog. I tried to call the dog to the rear of the vehicle where there was a little more shade. The dog did not respond to me. At 10:39 AM I repeated the infrared thermometer scan and the temperature had risen to 95 degrees.

At 10:43 AM the dog was panting heavily and beginning to drool, indicating the dog was overheating. By my calculations the dog had been in the vehicle for 30 minutes and I was worried the dog would soon suffer from heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke in dogs include:
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased salivation
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • and eventually death
By this time the dog was already exhibiting excessive panting, increased drooling and a bright tongue. The dog was not responding to me at all -- no barking, no moving, no change in posture to a high pitched voice. I was concerned that this could be disorientation, weakness or dizziness.

At 10:44 AM Officer Ingram found the dog owner, Ms. Otch. When Ms. Otch arrived I recognized her. I had spoken with her previously about not locking her dog in the car while at the gym. I asked Ms. Otch to remove her dog from the car. She said she didn’t have her keys and returned to the gym.

At 10:51 AM Ms. Otch finally unlocked her car. She opened the passenger side door and stood in the open doorway fiddling with her bag. When she removed the dog at 10:54 AM she stated that the last time we spoke all I told her is that she needed to leave water in the car to be in compliance and pointed to the near empty bowl. She then stated that she wanted me to scan her car with my IR thermometer.

A scan of the floorboard where her dog had been sitting measured 84.4 degrees. This is after having been ventilated for several minutes. I scanned the dashboard and it measured 126 degrees, indicating that the engine was still warm and would continue to heat the vehicle. I wrote both temperature readings on her citation.

Our department uses a Computer Aided Dispatch system. I’d like to introduce the CAD reports from my interactions with Ms. Otch on April 3 as well as the first time we spoke, October 31, 2017. [Several pages were introduced into evidence.]

When I spoke with Ms. Otch five months previously, she stated that she had only had the dog for a few months and the dog had problems with separation anxiety. At that time I gave her a verbal warning along with the usual spiel:
  • Dogs do not sweat. The only way they can cool themselves is through panting.
  • Studies have shown that cracking the windows does not make a difference in cooling the car.
  • Even on a nice 75 degree day, the inside of a car can be over 100 degrees in 20 minutes.
  • The sun moves and shade quickly disappears.
I’ve been giving the same speech for over 12 years. I also remember telling Ms. Otch that there are several doggie daycare facilities at the beaches that can watch her dog while she goes to the gym. Puppy Playhouse is less than a block from La Gym; their addresses are 1075 Beach Road and 985 Beach Road respectively.

On April 3, 2018 Ms. Bea Otch knowingly and intentionally left her dog in a locked vehicle while she went to the gym. It appears that the education and verbal warning from October 31st were not enough to change her behavior. I wrote Ms. Otch an Animal Control citation for animal cruelty. In my professional opinion, her actions fit the parameters of City Ordinance 4-5:
It shall be unlawful to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle in a way that endangers the health or well-being of the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering or death.
The right tools make all the difference
By ordinance, this citation comes with a $500 fine. When I wrote Ms. Otch the citation I explained my reasoning to her and told her how to contest the citation if she felt it was unwarranted. I gave her a copy of the City ordinances.

At this time I’d like to present the notarized affidavit from Ms. Thomas, my certification from the American Animal Cruelty Investigations School for training on the Fluke 62 Max Plus IR Thermometer, my infrared thermometer’s calibration history and studies of temperatures in enclosed cars from San Francisco State University, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Louisiana State Medical Society. [All introduced into evidence.]


I'd like to say that this case was a slam dunk . . . but it wasn't. The judge allowed the hearing to become a hot mess. BTW, my City does not provide an attorney for me to try these cases, even though the defendants can bring their own legal counsel. Evidence presentation, cross examination, hearsay objections, subpoenas -- all these I have learned OJT and from watching countless hours of Law and Order. Some of the drama courtroom spectators got to see that day included:
  • Bea Otch insisted that all witnesses wait outside the courtroom so they couldn't hear others' testimony (including mine). The judge agreed. Then Ms. Otch yelled at my witnesses for not giving the answers she wanted (AKA all witnesses corroborated my testimony). 
  • Bea Otch subpoenaed Pet Store employee, Frank. The poor guy was sweating like a whore in church. Ms. Otch asked Frank if he thought she was a bad pet owner. When it was my turn for questioning, I reminded the court that the citation was written on fact -- the dog was left in a hot car -- not opinion as to whether Ms. Otch is a good pet owner. I then asked Frank if he remembered the incident (yes), remembered trying to find the owner's name for me (yes) and how long I was trying to get the dog out of the car (30 minutes).
  • Whereas I stayed professional and factual, Bea Otch became overly emotional. She cried! Between sobs she told the judge that a cruelty charge is serious and it would affect her ability to foster dogs. I agreed that animal cruelty is serious and stated that dogs die in hot cars every year in our county. That's why I tried to educate Ms. Otch months previously.
  • Ms. Otch did a Public Records request before court (BTW, I did too). Ms. Otch produced emails between the City Manager and several city council members stating that "$500 seemed excessive "and "perhaps the ACO was overzealous." Naturally, Ms. Otch didn't bring the rest of the email thread where they remarked that "the complainant seems to have left out some pertinent information" and they "didn't realize that fines were dictated by our ordinances." These emails were hearsay and should not have been allowed. I was able to work around them. However, I was pissed that my own city management was used against me in court -- for enforcing their own laws.
  • Bea Otch provided emails from somebody (supposedly) at Fluke stating that the temperature reading of the Fluke 64 model was not exact and should not be admissible in court. I responded that 1) this was hearsay as the person in question wasn't available for cross-examination and 2) I have the Fluke 62 model. I use this model because it IS exact, and reminded the judge that I submitted a copy of the infrared thermometer’s calibration history to the court.
  • Bea Otch provided studies about separation anxiety in dogs. I asked Ms. Otch how leaving a dog alone in a hot car helps treat separation anxiety. I then reminded the court that Puppy Playhouse is less than a block from La Gym.
  • On cross examination I provided the court with a copy of the email Bea Otch sent to the mayor et al. Ms. Otch agreed that she had sent it. I showed her the pictures of the Lexus SUV and she agreed that it was hers. I then said "You stated that your car was parked in the shade. Will you please show me where the shade is in this picture?" Ms. Otch complained to the judge that I was bullying her!

The trial went on twice as long as necessary. Entirely too much hearsay was allowed. Then the judge said she would "take the case under advisement" and mail us her findings. This bullshit phrase is often code for "This is ugly and I'm too chicken to make a ruling to your face." I usually hear it when the defendant is a lawyer and the judge knows I'm right, but is going to rule against me anyway. It took over a month to receive the ruling, but the outcome was good. The citation was upheld. Ms. Otch was ordered to pay the $500 fine, a $5 surcharge and all court costs.

Take that, Bea Otch. And you too, Self-Righteous City Council Twit. I guess I'm not just an overzealous dog catcher after all. -- K

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Show Dogs

WARNING: Talking about Hollywood usually turns into a rant. How can an industry with so many resources get things so incredibly wrong? And why do we continue to support garbage?

I saw Show Dogs available at Redbox and was curious. There was a lot of controversy tied to the movie when it came out.

The AKC released a statement stating that:
The movie is not an accurate depiction of our sport or its participants . . . Additionally, the movie and its website improperly and inaccurately messages to audiences that the breeds depicted in the movie can be easily found in local animal shelters as a push to encourage adoption.
Too bad. This would have been a great opportunity to discuss things like purposeful breeding, breed standards and responsible breeders versus backyard breeders.

At the same time, parent groups were claiming that multiple scenes from the movie were grooming children for sexual abuse. What?! Complaints were over scenes that comically depicted the physical inspection of a male dog. (The scenes have since been deleted. Click here to see them for yourself.) Says USA Today:

Although this is standard at a dog show, parents' problem was with the way Max was told to deal with the uncomfortable handling.
After reading this I had to see the movie. Was it really as bad as critics claimed? I watched this movie with pen an paper in hand so I could share the good stuff (bad stuff?) with you.

The Plot: Max, a Rottweiler working for the NYPD, teams up with FBI Agent Nichols to stop an animal smuggling operation. To do so, Max goes undercover as a show dog in Las Vegas. Snide and condescending remarks are made about dog shows and all who participate in them. In the end, Max gains a new respect for show dogs. Think Miss Congeniality meets Air Bud.

Within the first four minutes I noticed two things about the Rottweiler that ruin the story right from the start:
  1. The dog is neutered. Show dogs must be intact. The entire purpose of dogs shows is to judge breeding stock. To put it simply, a dog without testicles cannot breed. (FYI: This is the reason for the physical exam critics were complaining about.)
  2. The dog has a tail. In fact, all the Rottweilers have tails. This is a disqualification according to the AKC breed standard.
Labrador Retrievers -- the most popular breed of dog
in the U.S. for the past 27 years
The movie touched on owner versus handler (albeit poorly and prejudicially). It also explained that there are "three rounds" (though that's not what they're actually called): Best of Breed → Best of Group → Best in Show. The writers, however, don't seem to understand the seven AKC Groups. When it came to the Best in Show scene, there were two dogs representing the toy group and no dog from the sporting group. Seriously? They couldn't find a retriever or spaniel anywhere? Also, the Herding Group consisted of three Australian shepherds and a border collie -- never mind the other 28 breeds in the group.

Sadly, the scene where the agent dares the smuggler to shoot him was very true. Nichols says "The justice system rarely does anything to people who harm animals; but shoot a Fed and you're gonna get what you deserve." I shared my feelings about this topic in earlier posts.

Honestly, most of what the writers/producers got wrong could have been fixed with an hour of fact checking via Google and YouTube. These include:
  • Ribbon colors -- AKC has specific colors for different placements. (A 30 second Google search leads you to A Beginner's Guide to Dog Shows which would have helped this story immensely!)
  • Ring procedures -- counterclockwise circles, no cat walk
  • There is no agility round in a dog show -- agility and conformation are two separate sports
  • Doberman Pinschers have cropped ears and docked tails in AKC shows as well 
Finally, animal control officers -- my peeps! -- are portrayed as heartless, inept buffoons. Yet again.

F.U. Hollywood!!

Funny aside: There's a weird guy with an ugly made-up designer dog. He approached Agent Nichols and wanted to breed his dog with Max. (I guess weird guy didn't notice that Max was neutered.) When Nichols said no, weird guy and dog both turned around and walked off in a huff -- revealing that the dog was actually an intact male! Be honest, am I the only one who notices dog balls? BTW, the "designer dog" was actually a purebred Xoloitzcuintli.

My honest opinion: The plot is banal and the humor crass. This movie is a 90 minute time suck. However, Show Dogs is no worse than most of the crap that Hollywood is producing for children these days. If you must watch a movie with a talking animal, I suggest Babe. -- K

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Time Hop

This popped up on Facebook today. I didn't know that would be Roxy's last Christmas with us when I took the picture. Looking at it now, you can see how old she'd gotten. What you can't see is how spunky she was! Roxy was determined to get her way until the very end. I miss her.

In Roxy's honor, make time for your dogs today. Play ball, go for a walk, take silly pictures, share your sandwich, spend a couple minutes cuddling. It's easy to get caught up in other things this time of year, putting the dogs off until later. Please don't. You never know what'll happen tomorrow.

BTW, your dogs say thank you. TTFN, -- K

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Leash Off/Game On

You know how Facebook monitors your browsing and tailors the ads you see based in the data Big Brother collects? (You DO know that's happening, right?) Not surprisingly, 90% of the pop-ups I see are dog related. A few weeks ago there was an ad from dog training from a group in England called Absolutely Dogs. I watched the ad, and I actually bought the product. (Technically, the DVD was free. However, I paid $18 in shipping.)

The DVD I got is called Leash Off/Game On. It contains 10 different games to help create "such an awesome relationship with your dog that the leash is optional." My dogs pull like Mack trucks, so I thought: Why not? I've spent more money on a bad meal.

First of all, I had a hard time watching the DVD. Windows Media Player didn't recognize it. I had to tell my computer to open with the VLC media player and it ran just fine. I haven't tried it in an actual DVD player.

Second, the focus wasn't what I expected. I was hoping it would be games to teach my dogs to behave better on the leash. Instead, it's designed to have better control of your dogs off leash. Apparently, dogs in England are off leash in communal, wide open spaces a lot more than here in the U.S. Still, I enjoyed the DVD and am excited to play a few games with my boys. (It's never a bad idea to have an engaged dog.) The games are:
  1. All Eyes On Me Game
  2. I Loooove My Name Game
  3. Funder Game
  4. Magic Hand
  5. Double Leash Game
  6. Leash Off, Party On Game
  7. This not the wanger you're
    thinking of!
    Mighty Middle
  8. Catch Me If You Can Game
  9. The Wanger Game
  10. The Whip Game
We've done variations of games #1 and #2 in S.T.A.R. Puppy training. Also, we've used of #4 to try to teach heeling. (Obviously I'm not doing it right. See the "Mack truck" comment above.) Jedi and I play a variation of Funder (fun + under) Game and Mighty Middle. It was nice to see them formalized and used in a different way.

Lastly, the language differences crack me up. A "wanger" is the British version of a Chuckit -- not at all what I expected! And the "whip" is a toy tied to a horse whip, looking very much like a flirt pole.

All-in-all, Leash Off/Game On turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It's my day off, so the dogs and I going out to play with our wanger. tee hee hee. -- K

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ghost of Christmas Past

I was digging through a drawer and found this old Polaroid picture of Pepper. She was the first dog I had as an adult.

I have no idea when this was taken. My best guess is 2003-2005. Anything after that would have included Logan.

Fortunately, Blogger dates all my posts and keeps them in chronological order. No more finding photos in random drawers. Wanna see Jedi's Christmas photos? They're online forever. See for yourself: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and this year, 2018. (OMG, we didn't take any holiday photos in 2016. What a bad dog mom!) Later, -- K

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Trooper Goes to the Dog Park

I'm not fond of dog parks. I feel too many patrons ignore their dogs, allowing bad behavior to ensue. (I've mentioned this before.) So I was conflicted when a new Jacksonville German shepherd group announced a meet-up at a dog park around the corner from my house. Yes, I wanted to meet other GSD peeps. But I didn't want to subject my boys to bad dog park behavior. That aside, it was my day off and I didn't have anything else planned. Eventually I ran out of excuses. I convinced Hubby to go with me and we were joined by a friend and her dog, Jaxx.

The meet-up part was a bust. Sure, there were German shepherds at the dog park. There were a bunch of other dogs too. (Surprise! People go to the dog park on Sunday morning.) But we never met with the meet-up peeps. I don't even know if they were there. No signs. No registration table. No one came forward to say "Hi, we're the new group." I spoke with several other people at the park with GSDs and they were just as clueless as I was. Stupid Facebook.

The dogs, however, had a great time. Jedi had fun at the dog park in Culpeper, so I assumed he'd be OK. I was worried about Trooper though. I didn't know how he'd behave around a group of unfamiliar dogs. And I was afraid he would react poorly to strangers wanting to touch him. Silly me, I worried for naught. It took about 10 minutes before Trooper realized he was in doggie heaven. He chased random dogs. Random dogs chased him. He sniffed butts, peed on trees, dug holes, crawled under picnic tables and couldn't have cared less about people touching him. And they touched him!

Hubby tried to take pictures of our dog park adventure. Unfortunately, low light + fast dogs + old phone = lousy photos. Here are the best of the bunch:

Jaxx and Jedi
Trooper chased his new friend
The boys played with a random Australian shepherd
Front to back: Jaxx, Jedi and Trooper
Jedi was actually still for a moment
We let the dogs play for about an hour before calling it a day. They have been passed out ever since, giving me time to blog, pay bills, fold laundry and take a nap. A NAP! Hubby and I are talking about taking the dogs back next week. Maybe we'll meet up with the meet-up group. Maybe Trooper will get over this fear thing. Maybe we'll get better pictures. Whatever happens, I'll let you know. Later, -- K

Saturday, December 15, 2018

True Story

The police dispatcher has Amazon Prime and occasionally orders things for me. (Hooray for free next day shipping!) Last week my boss overheard her tell me "Amazon just sent me a text. Your package has been delivered." Being nosy a police commander, Boss had to butt in. This was the conversation:

BOSS: What package?

ME: She ordered something for me from Amazon. It's not work related.

BOSS: What is it?

ME: [Pausing for effect] Do you really want to know?

BOSS: Yes, tell me.

ME: She ordered holiday scarves for my dogs to wear when they get their picture taken with Santa this weekend.

BOSS: Oh. My. God.

DISPATCHER: You asked!!

In all fairness, Boss has known me for 12 years. She's well aware that I use my personal leave for dog shows. She knew that I took three weeks vacation when I brought home Jedi, and even attended the puppy shower. She approved the week's leave I took to go to the Westminster Dog Show last February. If Boss was even remotely surprised by my answer, then maybe she's not the detective she thinks she is!

With that being said, here's the picture -- holiday scarves and all.

Aren't they cute? Catch you later, -- K

Friday, December 14, 2018

Violence is Violence

It's all connected
WARNING: This is a difficult, unpleasant subject. I will treat it as delicately as I can, but I think it's important that everybody know.

During training last month the question was posed "Why should law enforcement officers care about animal cruelty?" Every ACO in the room gasped. Because it's an F-ing crime, that's why! But the truth is, often cops don't feel the same way ACOs do. When dealing with murderers, rapists, child abusers and the like, it's easy for them to see animal abuse and think "it's just an animal." Sadly though, all these crimes seem to be in a related. Here are a few sobering facts:
  • Violence toward animals is often a precursor to other violence.
  • Where there is animal abuse, there is often human abuse.
  • Animal abuse rarely occurs in isolation. Statistics show that animal abusers are three times more likely to be arrested for drug-related offenses; four times more likely to commit property crimes; and five times more likely to commit violent crimes such as assault, robbery or rape.
  • Children who witness animal abuse and cruelty are at a greater risk of becoming abusers themselves, perpetrating the cycle of violence.
  • Early intervention can prevent violence from escalating.
Every one of these guys abused animals
There is a link between serial killers and animal abuse. Google any of the scumbags to the left and read some of the horrific things they did to innocent puppies and kittens. (Or you can just take my word for it.) FBI Special Agent Alan Brantley with the Behavioral Science Unit was once asked how many serial killers had a history of abusing animals. He was quoted to say "The real question should be, how many have not?"

In January of 2016 the FBI started tracking animal cruelty along with other felony crimes. The FBI warns that it'll take at least 3-5 years to start showing helpful patterns. Still, it's nice to know that animal cruelty is being taken seriously on a national level.

Unfortunately, the local authorities still have a long way to go. The speakers all shared cases, each as disturbing as the next. A couple local(ish) cases stood out for me. I'm not going to link to them. Again, you can Google them yourself, or avoid the unpleasant details and just take my word. (Seriously, why share my nightmares?)
  1. A couple teenagers thought it would be fun to set a cat on fire and watch it run away. The adolescent scum got stiffer sentences for "arson" than they did for "animal abuse" (aka setting a live cat on fire).
  2. A dog fighter shot one of his dogs in the head because it wasn't game enough. Dirtbag got a stiffer sentence for "using a gun in the commission of a felony" than he did for the dog fighting -- despite the fact that there was video of him fighting the dogs.
  3. I've already shared my frustration about the pathetic sentences for killing police dogs here in Florida.
Angry? Good! So what can you do about it? Pay attention. Educate yourself. Then share your righteous indignation. Educate others. Articulate your wishes share them with your elected representative via letters, emails, petitions and the polls.

OK, I'm off my soapbox. Thanks for sticking around. I'll share something more pleasant tomorrow. Promise. -- K

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tips for a First Timer

I'm a member of multiple dog show Facebook groups. Most of them regurgitate the same stuff over and over and/or complain about judges. Seriously, I don't know why I follow these groups! Invariably, something good pops up just as I'm contemplating leaving the group. Last week there was this →

I read through all the responses -- there were about 150 when I finished. Many of the tips were the same, but there were a few that made me say wow. I tried to condense and categorize all the information (because that's how my brain processes information). And then I thought "Hey, other people might like this stuff too." So here you go: things to do before going in the ring, while in the ring and after exiting the ring. There's also a group of miscellaneous tips …. just because I didn't know how to categorize them.

  • Set one realistic goal (i.e. get dog around the ring without tripping over him)
  • Double-check your tack box
  • Pack a lunch
  • Bring extra water for you and your dog
  • Bring a crate and crate cover for your dog
  • Bring your own chairs
  • Bring cash for parking
  • Get there early
  • Take time decompress (both you and dog) before going in the ring
  • Double-check ring time
  • Walk your dog beforehand to work out any jitters
  • Find your ring
  • Potty before going in the ring (both you and your dog)
  • Watch the judge’s ring procedures
  • Don’t block the ring entrance while waiting to go in

  • Breathe
  • Remember to smile
  • Have fun
  • Make sure your dog has fun
  • Look at the judge (not your feet)
  • Don’t be afraid to tell the judge that you are new
  • Peppermint Altoids will mask the adrenaline in your breath and hide your nerves from your dog
  • Use gentle hands on the lead and on your dog to counter nerves (he can feel the tension)
  • Wear a ring on a different finger. It will bug you, but will keep your mind off being nervous
  • Keep a good distance between dogs
  • Don't run up on other dogs
  • ALWAYS congratulate the winner

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself; whatever mistakes you make have been made by a thousand people before you
  • If your dog is awarded points, check the results in the judge’s book to make sure they are correct
  • Stay to watch the winners

  • Remember, no matter what the judge says, you’re going home with the best dog
  • Watch in crowds to keep dogs’ faces away from each other so aggravated dogs don’t nip (it happens)
  • Poop bags -- bring them, use them, have extras for those who don't
  • Befriend a fancier of another breed
  • Watch professional handlers

Other helpful posts from the past:
Do you feel empowered now? No?! How about a little less terrified? Me too. I keep wondering when I can finally say "I've got this." I'll let you know. Until then, I'll just listen to Joyce Meyer:

See you around the ring! -- K

Monday, December 10, 2018

Bed Hog

The alarm goes off waaay too early. Hubby will hit snooze once or twice before I hoist myself out of bed and into the bathroom. I came out of the shower this morning to see this:

Jedi had taken my spot, pillow and all. When I questioned him about it, he showed no remorse whatsoever. Jerk. -- K

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Match Frustration

With Trooper at a fun match in Reddick, FL
As you may remember, my dog club has agreed to hold a GSD Specialty Match in conjunction with a breeder's annual BBQ next April. I volunteered to take on the role of Match Chair. It’s going to be great and we’re going to have fun. (At least that's what I keep telling myself.) Unfortunately, the AKC doesn't make things easy.

I’ve been reading through the AKC Match Regulations (very dry, btw) and have gleaned some important information.

Since my club is an AKC sanctioned club, we must hold an A or B match; a fun match (which is what I wanted) would be authorized if it was restricted to club members only. “Any event for which the club solicits or accepts entries from nonmembers must be approved by AKC as a sanctioned match.” Which means paperwork. Ugh. However, a B match is a less formal than an A match, so I suggested we go that route. Everybody agreed.

Part of the paperwork includes a formal application. Per AKC, the application needs to be approved before we can start advertising the match –- therefore, the sooner the better! Required info on the match application includes:
  • Match date and start time
  • Exact location of match
  • Will match be held independently, concurrently with a show or in the evening after a show?
  • Will match be held indoors, outdoors or both?
  • Is match for all breeds, group only or specialty (single breed)?
  • Is match an A match or B match?
  • Is match conformation? Obedience? Rally? Tracking? Combination?
  • Which classes will be offered?
  • Name/address/phone/email of Match Chair
  • Name/address/phone/email of Match Secretary

I gathered the Match Committee and started asking questions:

Who will take on the role of Match Secretary? Unlike regular shows, a Match Secretary must be a club member. The duties are similar to that of a Show Secretary: take entries, hand out armbands and keep track of the judge’s book. We must have a name for the application. Fortunately, a B Match does not need to produce a Premium or a Catalog. YAY!

Which classes should we offer? The standard classes are: 6-9 Puppy, 9-12 Puppy, 12-18 Months, Novice, Bred by Exhibitor, American-Bred and Open. We agreed to those plus 4-6 Puppy and Juniors classes. We can offer “Non-Regular” classes as well, but we need to tell AKC what they are ahead of time. I asked AKC what non-regular classes were and got an answer that didn't make any sense whatsoever. There is no list defining available non-regular classes (I asked). However, it's not a whatever-you-want catchall either because the one I asked for -- sterilized pet class -- was emphatically disapproved by the AKC rep.

Who will judge? We don’t need to have an AKC judge. A professional handler or experienced breeder would be fine, as long as he/she knows GSDs and doesn’t have dog in the ring. We're courting a few professional handlers.

So we made the necessary decisions and I sent in the application. It was sent back. The AKC didn't recognize the address as one listed in their system and we needed to clarify a few things. I did and resubmitted.

With Jedi at a fun match in Jacksonville, FL
Then the application was sent back again. The address listed is outside of our designated territory so we need written permission from both of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Orlando and the Tampa Bay German Shepherd Dog Club before our application is granted. Two questions here:
  1. Why couldn't the AKC have said that the first time? (Obviously someone looked at the address.) and
  2. How can the small town of Dunnellon belong to both clubs? (BTW, there isn't a published list of designated geographic territories -- I looked.)
I've emailed the presidents of both clubs and now we are waiting. Again.

People -- including me -- complain that there aren't many matches for beginners and young dogs to get their feet wet. Old-timers will tell you that once upon a time there were matches nearly every weekend. Now you're lucky to find 2-3 a year. It's sad. And frustrating.

The AKC makes the entire process as difficult as possible. Newbies must learn how to put on a match (or show!) on the fly. There are stacks of dry, vague rules but no concise step-by-step instructions for beginners. Ferreting out info online is tedious. And the "help" I get from the AKC is akin to the "help" I received from Microsoft when Windows crashed. I guess this is why the all-breed clubs use superintendents to put on their shows. And why matches have been abandoned. Seriously, if a club is going to go through all the trouble of finding a location, filling out mountains of paperwork, soliciting volunteers and buying ribbons (yes, the AKC has specific ribbon requirements) then why not just hold a regular show? What a pain this has turned out to be! I'll keep you posted. -- K

Friday, December 7, 2018

Know Your Audience

Back in 2014 I told you about a Dumb Ass Dog Owner who was proud of the fact that his two Australian shepherds had never been on a leash. What a douche. This same guy lets his dogs run at large on a regular basis. His neighbors complain about him -- by name! Public Works employees have had run ins with the dogs while trying to do their job. And police officers send me reports about these dogs running loose all the time.

In the past two years I've given this dog owner multiple verbal warnings, a written warning and three citations. (BTW, I write all this down.) Even New Guy knows this dog owner by name.

I had another encounter with King of the Douche Bags last week. I was on regular patrol and guess what I saw? Two Australian shepherds running in the middle of the road. When I pulled up KODB was his usual self. He was so nasty that I had police officers respond to the scene. He threatened to contest the ticket, call the mayor and to have me fired.

Then His Majesty decided to flame me on Facebook. I don't follow the City page on FB (it's too much drama for me). However, my friend sent me a link and said "You've gotta see this!" KODB posted my picture from the City webpage (what an ugly photo, ick) with the following:
Some people take their job way to seriously. Have you experienced this as well with this animal control officer?
Surprisingly, the 20+ responses said basically one of two things. It was a variation of either
  1. I've dealt with her before. She's always been very professional OR
  2. Don't be a jerk and follow the rules like everybody else.
I was stunned. I checked the post periodically. The responses continued in the same vein. KODB started getting defensive and the thread got ugly. One guy told King "Know your audience, man" which had me cracking up. Another woman told him "This is so cowardly. She has a tough job. Leave her alone!!!"

The coup de gras came from Mama Bear herself. The Chief of Police stepped in and told him that any attempt to humiliate or shame a City employee is not appreciated. If he has a complaint with one of her officers he should call her directly.

Mysteriously, the entire thread disappeared about an hour later. I don't know if KODB had enough abuse and deleted it himself or if Mama Bear had the City Page's Admin do it. Either way, Chief has not called me in to discuss the matter. I don't think she knows I read the thread (or that my friend screenshotted the whole thing in case I end up in court with this guy).

So . . . that was how my week started. It went downhill from there. That's why yesterday's snuggle time was so appreciated. I'll share again later. But for now, I need more canine cuddle therapy. TTFN -- K

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Snuggle Buddy

It was a long, difficult week at work. I may share some of it later. I have busy weekend ahead of me too. But today I'm home alone with the dogs. My plans are to pay bills, answer emails and catch up on a few TV shows. Then a trip to the grocery store and a couple loads of laundry.

Jedi derailed my plans. I was lying on the couch wrapped in a soft blanket when he decided to climb up and snuggle. Awww...

Trooper didn't want to miss out on some lovin' either. He curled up on the floor next to me and rolled over so I could rub his belly. I didn't want to leave that spot. Instead, I turned off the TV and the three of us took a nice midmorning nap.

After the week I had, this was just the kind of therapy I needed. I love these dogs. I can pay bills and buy groceries later. -- K

Monday, December 3, 2018


There was a photographer at the Fun Match last month. She took these photos of Trooper and I absolutely love them! (So much so that I paid for them so I could share with you.)

Those toys next to him were completely demolished within two weeks. Trooper is rough on toys. He really enjoys ripping them apart. In fact, the duck's eyeballs were ripped off before sundown. It was a bit distressing.

It's hard for me to remember that this handsome fella is still just a pup. At 9 months he has a beautiful big boy body, yet his little boy brain hasn't caught up. New people are still scary and his attention span is teeny tiny. His hormones are kicking in but he's not sure what to do with them. Like most adolescents, sometimes he makes bad choices. (TBH, I needed to replace the carpet anyway. I was hoping to keep the couch for a few more years though.)

Hubby complains. Then I pull up the blog posts from when Jedi was this age. Guess what? He was frustrating too. He destroyed my cell phone, my son's Nintendo DS, my reading glasses and so much more.

If history predicts the future, then we have a few more months of teenage destruction. Sigh. Good thing I love this goofy dog!! -- K

P.S. I sound like a broken record, but if the puppy were better supervised this could be avoided.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

New Collars

Light Side (top) for Jedi, Dark Side (bottom) for Trooper
Trooper is getting bigger by the day! We weighed him a couple weeks ago and he was 80 pounds -- at nine months! I don't think he'll top out at 85 pounds like I had hoped. Sigh. Anyway, the adjustable collar we bought him in July is now too small. Time to get a new one! With a name like J-Lyn's Imperial Shadow Trooper, he must have a Star Wars collar.

Petco has always carried fun Star Wars items. (Seriously, that's the only reason I go to Petco!) I was disappointed when I couldn't find anything during my last visit. I guess we'll have to wait for the next movie to come out before they restock. The good news though, I found one online for a third of what I'd pay in the store. I saved so much I bought a new collar for Jedi too.

Of course, what's a new collar without a new tag to go with it? Amazon, here I come! -- K