Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

Take care on New Year’s Eve

I am sick as a dog (pardon the pun) right now.  My significant other and I took a little vacation a few days ago and I think we both picked up every bug floating around the airport.  Fortunately we didn’t have any other problems flying — though I could write pages about how much I hate airports these days.  At any rate, I’ve been mostly bed-ridden for the last couple of days.  I’ll spare you all the gory details.



The dogs have been enjoying this time after Christmas.  They got some new toys, which they have already shredded, eaten and otherwise destroyed.  I wonder why I bother to get them anything nice but they do enjoy the toys for the short time they last.  After that they decorate the backyard with stuffing until I pick it all up.  Some of the toys can be salvaged so I’ll see what I can do when I’m up and about again.  It’s partly my fault because I continually buy them “cute” toys when I should be buying them the toughest toys made.  The trouble is that my dogs won’t play with the really tough toys.  If I get them an indestructible ball or a hard frisbee they ignore it.  They’re not real big fans of things like Kongs either.  They won’t chew on them.  If I fill them with treats and throw them over and over they show some interest, but my dogs aren’t big on fetching either.  LOL  In fact, my dogs are kind of lazy when it comes to playing with me.  I’ve tried to teach them to fetch a stick and things like that and they just aren’t interested.  I throw the stick, they go get it and they run off with it.  LOL  They never bring it back to me.  They just take it somewhere and drop it, then go find something more interesting to do.


I know that other dogs really get into playing fetch.  I fostered a Golden Retriever-Irish Setter mix rescue dog one time and I swear he had obsessive compulsive disorder about playing fetch.  I threw a ball for him once and for the next three days all he did was bring me the ball to throw for him.  My arm was ready to fall off.  He couldn’t get enough of it.  By the time he left my house I was hiding the ball.  My dogs were looking at him like he was some kind of freak.  They weren’t interested in playing his fetch game at all.


What my dogs enjoy best is simply chasing each other.  Since I have three dogs that are three years old and under they have a lot of energy and every morning they chase each other all around the backyard for about an hour.  I love it.  I love seeing them burn off so much energy.  Otherwise they’d be destroying my house.  But the great thing is that my two old dogs get into it, too.  They lope along with the young dogs, barking at them and playing.  It’s great to see them all playing together.



Doggy New Year's Eve.  Flickr

Doggy New Year's Eve. Flickr

My dogs are all inside tonight, of course.  Not only is it cold outside but it’s New Year’s Eve.  That means that there may be fireworks shows in some places.  And some people even shoot off guns and fireworks at their houses.  There may be concerts or loud music playing in some neighborhoods.  You know your area best.  If you anticipate fireworks or loud noise in your neighborhood make plans for your dog.  Many dogs are upset by loud noise.  Dogs have sensitive hearing and booming noises can be very frightening to them.  Every year during firework shows many dogs become frantic to escape from their yards to get away from the noise.  Many dogs end up missing and lost.  It’s best to keep your dog securely indoors where he won’t be exposed to the direct noise.  You can help drown out the loud booms with your own soft music or with the television.  And herbal medicine like Bach’s Rescue Remedy helps some dogs relax.



I hope everyone has a happy and prosperous New Year.  Back to bed for me!

December 31, 2008 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

Track your lost dog

If you have any dollars left after your Christmas shopping there’s a dog product I’ve seen advertised that sounds like it could be a lifesaver.  It’s called Zoombak and it’s a a GPS device worn by your dog that works from a satellite.  (I know — very high tech.)




Lost dog poster.  Flickr

Lost dog poster. Flickr

According to the Zoombak web site your dog wears the collar with the device all the time.  The device contains a rechargeable battery that lasts about five days on standby or for 150 location requests.  In order for the Zoombak device to work you have to sign up for the monthly service plan with the company.  They send you reminders to recharge the battery when the signal gets low.  If your dog should happen to get lose and become lost the company uses the satellite to track your dog’s collar device and let you know his position.  They can tell you where your dog is on a map, in real time.  You will receive text or e-mail alerts with his location.  They say the Zoombak is small, lightweight and water resistant (it’s only 2.5 ounces).  And, the company claims to provide 24/7 customer support.



The product is recommended for dogs over 15 pounds.  The price is $199.99 plus the monthly service plan ($9.99-14.99 per month).


Of course the drawback is that if your dog ditches his collar or if he’s stolen and someone removes his collar the company would be unable to track him.  But for the typical lost dog who keeps his collar on Zoombak could help many owners bring their dogs safely home if it works as described.


Zoombak isn’t meant to replace your dog’s identification.  Things like ID tags and microchips (if you’re so inclined), are still necessary in case your dog is picked up by a Good Samaritan or by animal control.  Collars, even collars with GPS devices, can be switched around, so your dog needs to have some kind of permanent ID, whether it’s a microchip or a tattoo.  Despite a few bad stories about microchips moving around or causing reactions at the point of entry, the overwhelming majority of pets who receive microchips have no problems with them.  I will say that there are a number of people who object to them on moral and ethical grounds and I think their objections are to be respected.  They don’t like the idea of essentially barcoding pets, anymore than they like the idea of injecting microchips into people.


If you have objections about microchips, either ethical objections or worries about a health reaction, then tattooing your dog is a good option.  You will need to find a name and number of some kind so that people will be able to contact you if they should pick up your pet.  Phone numbers change.  There are multiple registries so if you use a registration number of some kind people may not know what it is or who to contact.  If you register your dog with one of the pet recovery services, such as Companion Animal Recovery, you can use their phone number.  Or you could use your vet’s phone number if you think they will know your dog and be able to contact you.  Or, you may come up with some other idea for a good tattoo as ID for your dog.  Be sure to place the tattoo where it will be visible even if your dog is lost for several weeks.  Lost dogs often look very different than they do at home.  They may be dirty and shaggy and not look like any recognizable breed.  Many people place a tattoo on the inner thigh where it is most likely to be seen.


It’s a good idea to have your dog wear a collar with tags as a precaution.  I know some people have concerns about dogs catching their collars on a fence and choking, and they don’t like their dogs to wear collars at home for other reasons, but the fact is that your dog is in much greater danger if he gets loose and has no identification.  Microchips and tattoos are useful IDs, but nothing beats the old-fashioned collar and tags.  They’re easily seen and as soon as someone sees them they know a dog has an owner.  You can put your name and current phone number/address on a tag.  Anyone picking up your dog can contact you right away.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken Jerky and Onions?

Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone has been having a wonderful time this holiday season.  I hope your pets have been enjoying the season as much as everyone else.  A friend sent me this very funny video  from YouTube of dogs decorating their Christmas tree.  It’s called “A doggy Christmas surprise.”  Very cute and funny.  I think they did a terrific job.




A dog with his bag of jerky.  Flickr

A dog with his bag of jerky. Flickr

Just to catch up on a few pet-related things that have been happening in the last few days, the FDA has issued another warning about feeding your dog chicken jerky products:



The Food and Drug Administration continues to caution consumers of a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken-jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats. FDA continues to receive complaints of dogs experiencing illness that their owners or veterinarians associate with consumption of chicken-jerky products. The chicken-jerky products are imported to the U.S. from China. FDA issued a cautionary warning to consumers in September 2007…


FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs which may occur within hours to days of feeding the product: decreased appetite, although some may continue to consume the treats to the exclusion of other foods; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; and increased water consumption and/or increased urination. If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken-jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.


(From the Orlando Sentinel’s Animal Crazy blog.)


Veterinarians and consumers should report cases of animal illness associated with pet foods to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state.  So, if your pet received any chicken jerky products for Christmas it’s a good idea to get rid of them.  Better safe than sorry in this case.


In other news, Modern Dog magazine has a nice interview/story about Rachael Ray

Onion breath.  Flickr

Onion breath. Flickr

and how she came to create her own line of dog food.  There has been a little bru-ha-ha about the story because it originally included a recipe from Ray which included onions.  The magazine was hit with tons of comments from readers letting them know that onions were toxic to dogs.  Well, hold on just a minute!  Yes, if you feed your dog lots of raw onions they will probably cause problems (onions have been suggested as a possible cause of autoimmune problems such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia in dogs).  However, if you check out many commercial kibbles, even the the most expensive gourmet brands, you will find that they use small quantities of onions in their recipes.  There are a number of homemade dog food recipes which call for the inclusion of small amounts of onions.  The mere fact that Ms. Ray’s recipe included some onions in it shouldn’t have brought such a knee-jerk response from readers.  They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and I think that’s true.  All of us with dogs pick up bits and pieces of information and too often we let that be the deciding factor in everything we do for our dogs without finding out better information.



One of my dogs died from autoimmune hemolytic anemia a few years ago and it is a terrible thing to experience.  He was seven years old and had never been sick a day in his life.  I was in the kitchen when he stood up to get some water and he simply collapsed.  After intensive care at the vet and a couple of trips to the emergency vet’s over the next week, he still died.  We never found a reason for the hemolytic anemia and there was no history of autoimmune problems in his family.  I was talking to my vet a few days ago (a different vet from the one I had then — I’ve moved since then).  She was asking me about his vaccination history.  She said the thinking now is that vaccination reactions may not show up within a few days of getting a dog’s shots.  If he had received his shots within a few weeks or even months of his collapse they could have been related to the autoimmune hemolytic anemia.  She said it takes the body a few weeks to make that kind of over-response to the vaccinations.  But that’s just one theory.  No one really knows what causes it.


But before we form a mob and demand Rachael Ray’s head on a platter for including some onions in a dog food recipe, it’s good to know a lot more about onion toxicity.  Read the label on your dog food and you may find that onions are already included.  Garlic is also included in many dog foods and it’s been accused of causing the same problems as onions, yet up until recently many people routinely fed their dogs garlic everyday as a flea preventive.  Many people continue to give their dogs garlic, with no ill effects, and to use it to enhance the flavor of foods for dogs.

December 26, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , | 4 Comments


December 24, 2008 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

A Christmas puppy?

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when you start hearing all of the cautions about not getting a puppy for Christmas. And that’s good advice. It’s hard to introduce a new pet into the household during the holidays. If you think this time of year is stressful for humans, just think how you would feel as a puppy coming into a new household.

Yet, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 53 percent of American pets are acquired during the holidays. So, obviously, someone is ignoring the advice.

Before you bring that puppy home consider carefully:

Christmas Puppy * Puppies cost more than the purchase price. Even if you are getting a “free” puppy, your new pet will cost you in vet care, license fees, dog food, toys, and so many other ways. It is not cheap to keep a pet. Many pets are being surrendered to animal shelters right now because people can’t afford to keep them in this economy. Can you really afford to get a puppy right now?

* How about the rest of the family? Are they all on board with the idea of a new puppy? A puppy affects every single person in the family. When he eats your husband’s shoe, you will hear about it. Is everyone in favor of getting a puppy?

* Do you have the time to commit to a new puppy? Not only will your puppy live for the next 10, 12, maybe even 15 years, but for the first few months he will need an intense time commitment from you to learn housetraining and good manners. Otherwise he may develop behavioral problems. Do you have the time it takes to train a puppy?

While some shelters and organizations have said they will not adopt any pets during the holidays (which puts these animals at risk of being euthanized), Iams pet food has taken a more proactive approach. I suppose they figure that if people are going to get a pet during the holidays anyway, they should encourage them to adopt. Iams is sponsoring the Home 4 The Holidays adoption event. They are hoping to help get one million pets adopted this holiday season.

Last year they helped get 491,612 animals adopted during this time, so they have raised their goal considerably, but it seems like a worthy project. There is information on their Web site about adopting a pet, donating to the program, volunteering, and for shelters.

So, if you still want that puppy for Christmas, and you are in a position to get one, financially, with your family, and time-wise, perhaps you should check out Home 4 The Holidays. Or, go down to your local shelter and see if they have a nice dog available that might suit you.

The most important thing is that you have thought through getting a puppy. No impulse decisions. You don’t want to get a sweet (or wild) puppy and have to take him back to the shelter in a few days or weeks. That’s not fair to the puppy. Consider carefully before you get that puppy for Christmas.

December 24, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , | 1 Comment

Winter Tips

Winter is really beginning to hit hard in many places. It’s been cold here where I live (22 degrees this morning — brrrr!) and there was a big power outage in parts of New England this week. It’s a good idea to think about your dog’s needs when it gets this cold, whether he lives indoors or outdoors.

Make sure you keep fresh water available for your dog at all times. You can’t depend on snow or ice as a water source, and you really don’t want to encourage your dog to drink too much from these sources. Your dog needs as much water in winter as in summer to keep from becoming dehydrated.

Your dog may need extra calories in the winter, so consider increasing his food amounts. This is especially true if your dog lives outdoors or works or plays outdoors a lot. it takes a lot of energy to keep the body warm in winter so those calories will be used.

Take care of your dog’s paws. Snow and ice both present hazards to your dog’s paws. They can accumulate between the toes and ball up on the fur causing cuts and cracks. So, dry your dog’s feet off after he’s been in snow or ice. You can protect your dog’s pads with either petroleum jelly (vaseline to most of us), or with products made for paws.

Keep your dog groomed in the winter. Grooming helps keep the dead hair removed so the body can insulate itself. Towel dry your dog or even blow dry him if he gets wet outdoors this time of year.

Keep your dog warm and out of drafts. Use blankets or pads on the floors in areas that may be tiled or uncarpeted. If your dog sleeps outdoors make sure he has good shelter, such as a doghouse with layers of warm, dry bedding.

Dogs are susceptible to the same winter problems as people. They can suffer from cold and get frostbitten, and snow and ice can do a number on them. Many dogs love to play in the snow but they can slip and slide in it and on ice and injure themselves, so try to supervise them when they’re outside. Watch out for antifreeze poisoning, too. People use a lot of it this time of year and the taste is very enticing to dogs.

There are fun things to do with your dog this time of year. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your dog has to hibernate until spring. I know a lot of people who find ways to let their dogs be part of the holiday festivities. One friend likes to get her dog’s picture made with Santa. She also takes her dogs out, wearing their reindeer ears and other Christmas things, to visit people in nursing homes and kids in school. I know someone else who belongs to a caroling group and who takes her dog with her (in costume) when they go singing through the neighborhood. Her dog is always a big hit. Other people have dogs that play a role in their Christmas plans at home, playing with guests, entertaining everyone.

Your dog can even motivate you to get out and get some exercise this time of year. A couple of years ago one woman used her dog as a way to lose weight. She even wrote a book about this weight loss method. On her diet she said she couldn’t eat anything that smelled good or made noises — if she did, it would make her dog come running to get some, too. You can put your dog to work this winter to start your own diet, if that’s one of your goals. (It’s always one of mine.) All the exercise is good for your dog, too.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Much to Feed?

I belong to way too many dog e-mail lists. If I’m not careful I can spend all day long just ready e-mail about dogs: puppy antics, dog legislation, dog cartoons, dog breeding, Setters, gossip about dog people, etc. But But there are a lot of people who obsess about dog food and who can’t wait to try every new food that comes out. Well, that’s their choice. But then they write e-mails to the chat lists talking about how their dogs have gastro upsets and diarrhea and they don’t understand why. They blame it on the food and they decide to try something else. It kind of drives me useful discussion recently was about whether or not people fed their dogs the amounts of food recommended on the labels of the dog food bags.

Now, I am the first to admit that I am a stick in the mud when it comes to dog food. I hate to change foods. I am firmly convinced that changing foods all the time messes dogs up. This is just my opinion, and I’m sorry if it offends anyone, but it seems to me that when people talk about having finicky dogs it seems like the dogs are finicky because the owners are always offering them different things to eat. I think you find a good food that your dogs like and you stay with it. Why would you change if your dogs are doing well on a food?

But there are a lot of people who obsess about dog food and who can’t wait to try every new food that comes out. Well, that’s their choice. But then they write e-mails to the chat lists talking about how their dogs have gastro upsets and diarrhea and they don’t understand why. They blame it on the food and they decide to try something else. It kind of drives me nuts.

Anyway, that’s my theory about dog foods. You can ignore it. It’s just my personal opinion. But as for how much to feed, have you really looked at the amounts recommended on the dog food labels? For most foods, if people feed their dogs the recommended amounts, they will turn into porkers. There will always be some dogs that you have to try to make gain weight, but by far the bigger problem in this country is overweight-obese dogs. Maybe that’s because people are feeding their dogs what the packages say!

If you Google diet and dogs, or overweight dogs you will get more hits than you can possibly look at. It’s estimated that about 40 percent of the dogs in this country are overweight. It’s true that some of that is from people who feed their dogs too many treats and tablescraps, and from people who think their dogs are picky and try to tempt them with special foods, but I think a lot of it is simply from people who are feeding their dogs portions that are too large.

It’s a good idea to look at your dog and evaluate his overall condition. Scales alone don’t tell the whole story. If your dog is well-muscled and in good condition you must be feeding him the right amount of food, regardless of what the scales say. But if he’s round where he should be lean, if he’s a butterball, think about cutting back a little on his food amounts. If your dog tells you he’s still hungry you can add veggies, like green beans to his diet. They are healthy and filling but don’t add a lot of extra calories. (Don’t cook them in bacon grease, either.)

I have no idea how much I feed my dogs or what the label on my dog food says. Years ago I bought a big scoop from a pet catalog. I put one big scoop in each of five pans and it’s up to the dogs to sort out who eats how much. All of my dogs are in good weight and condition except one — Beau is a little overweight. But even he has lost weight in the last couple of years since I switched to free feeding the dogs. I leave their food down all the time and they can eat all they want when they want it. Nobody rushes, nobody fights. They tend to nibble throughout the day when they get hungry. I just let them outside this a.m. and there is still dry food sitting out from yesterday afternoon. Of course, this really only works with dry kibble. I have to do things a little differently when I give them canned food or something homemade.

Anyway, after that rant, look at your dog and see if you think he or she could lose a little weight. Consider if there are some adjustments you can make. Obesity will shorten your dog’s life so it’s really a good idea to cut back on portion size if your dog is overweight.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , | Leave a comment

Vet Visits

All of my dogs are now up-to-date on their shots. Blue already had his and I took the other four to the vet this week. Yes, it was expensive, but it had to be done. I am happy to say that they all passed with flying colors. No worms, no heartworms, no bad things. Except Taylor has a bad tooth. He has to go back soon and have it removed. That’s going to be something to worry about. Taylor is 12 years old and I worry about a 12-year-old dog having surgery and getting anesthesia. But the tooth is abscessed and probably causing him pain, so it needs to come out.

I like my vets. They’re a husband and wife team and they have a little boy, probably 3-4 years old with white-blond hair, who is usually running around in back. He’s very cute. Sometimes he comes in to pet the dogs.

I’ve only been going to these vets for about a year. I was using another vet before that when, right in the middle of treating one of my dogs for a tumor (she has since died), he up and left. Between appointments. One week he was there, the next he was gone. It was strange. So, I’m still getting to know these vets. I feel like they’re getting to know me, too. I think they like me, but they seem suspicious of me because I breed dogs. I think it’s odd that they ask me about every female dog whether or not she’s been bred. I have a three-year-old girl and a 19-month-old girl. Nope, not bred either one. But they act like they suspect me of having a litter a month. In fact, I went nine years between litters. I breed dogs for ME. I can only keep so many dogs so I can’t breed very often.

I have always loved dogs, horses, all animals. I wish I had the land and the money to be able to breed horses. But I have settled for dogs instead. I’ve always thought it was exciting to not just breed a litter of puppies, but to do all the planning for it — to study pedigrees, to carefully choose the parents and try to improve the next generation. And, even though there is so much work involved, I love nurturing and raising a litter of puppies. Until you have raised a litter of 9, 10 or 12 big puppies in your house, you don’t know what work is! They’re like a herd galloping around. With teeth. LOL It’s so sad when they start leaving to go to their new homes. But I have always kept one or two for myself. That’s why I can’t breed very often. It doesn’t take long to have a house full of dogs when you do that.

I know many people prefer to adopt dogs now or go to rescue. That’s great. I used to help rescue. I did it for years until I took in a rescue dog who attacked my own dogs and tried to bite a child. I decided I couldn’t risk it anymore after that. Adoption and rescue help many dogs and they’re a great pet solution for many people. I just wish there weren’t so many people who seem to want to stop all dog breeding. People have been purposely breeding dogs for thousands of years. We wouldn’t have most of the breeds we have today without people who dedicated themselves to developing and breeding dogs. There are thousands of wonderful dog breeders in this country who live and die for their dogs. No one should be forced to adopt a dog when they want to go to a breeder, or vice versa. We should certainly have choices about something as personal as choosing what kind of dog we want.

I’ve had Setters since 1974. As much as I love dogs in general, there’s really no other dog for me. There never has been. When I was five years old I saw a picture of a Setter in a coloring book and that was it. It was love on the spot. I’ve been hooked ever since. Isn’t it funny how something so unexpected can change our lives? How could I know I would grow up to devote my life to them?

December 15, 2008 Posted by | General | , , | Leave a comment

Joe Biden picks a puppy and other news

There are a couple of interesting news items today for dog lovers.  First, vice-president-elct Joe Biden has chosen his new puppy!  Remember his wife promised him that if he won the election he could get a “big dog” to go with him to Washington.  Well, Mr. Biden has indeed chosen a big dog breed.  According to a story in the Chester County Daily Local News (Pennsylvania), Mr. Biden and his secret service contingent recently paid a visit to a respected breeder in East Coventry.  There he looked at a litter of German Shepherd Dog puppies and made his selection.  He said he was looking for a social and obedient pup.  “He is the nicest person on this earth,” Brown said about her meeting with Biden…He was very gracious.”  Brown said, “He hugged and kissed all of the shepherds.”  That sounds good.




Joe Biden and his new puppy

Joe Biden and his new puppy

Apparently Mr. Biden has had German Shepherd Dogs in the past and likes the breed.  He became interested again this time when he noticed the K9 team one of his secret service people had and he struck up a conversation with the trainer about them.  He asked the man to recommend a breeder and do some research for him.  Now the trainer will be taking the puppy for six weeks of training (including housebreaking) before he joins Mr. Biden in Washington.  They believe this will allow Mr. Biden and his family time to settle in their new home before the puppy joins them and ease the transistion.  His grandkids are going to name the new puppy.



Good luck to Mr. Biden with his new puppy.  That’s great.  It sounds like he touched all the bases and made a great choice for him and his family.  No word yet on the Obamas’ choice of a dog for their family.  They seem to still be considering their options.  I’m sure it’s difficult to choose when everything you do attracts national attention.


In other dog news, if you like to watch dogs shows (and I know there are people who do), the big AKC-Eukanuba National Championship dog show is being held in Long Beach, California this weekend.  Show coverage won’t be aired on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel until January (I really wish they would go back to live or same-day coverage, the way it was the first year or two), but you can watch same-day coverage of the Bred-By Exhibitor group competitions on the AKC Web site Saturday and Sunday.


Toy, Sporting, Hound and Non-Sporting groups will be judged on Saturday, December 13, and Working, Terrier and Herding groups will be judged on Sunday, December 14.  If you go to the AKC Web site on those days you can watch the video for each group.



The Sealyham Terrier, last year's AKC/Euk BIS Winner

The Sealyham Terrier, last year's AKC/Euk BIS Winner

The eighth AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, Bred-by-Exhibitor Best in Show and Eukanuba World Challenge competitions will premiere as a television simulcast on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel on Saturday, January 31, 2009 from 8-11 p.m. (ET/PT). In addition, the AKC Agility Invitational will air on Animal Planet on February 7, 2009 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).



There’s plenty of other information about the show on the AKC’s Web site.  The dogs are competing not only for Best In Show, but also for Best Bred-By-Exhibitor in Show — and since this show was created to honor breeders, that’s a big deal.  This show is also very rare among dog shows because it offers cash prizes.  More than $225,000 will be awarded to the winners of the show, thanks to Eukanuba Dog Foods.  At every other show people and dogs are only competing for trophies, with an occasional token amount of money that might cover gasoline or your motel bill.  The winners of this show can also claim, with a great deal of justification, to be the top dogs in the country.  Some of the best show dogs in the country will be seen at this show, going up against each other in head-to-head competition.  They may not have met each other before all year.  So, it’s very interesting to see how they match up against each other in the ring.


The AKC-Eukanuba National Championship is lots of fun if you like dog shows.  Visit the AKC Web site this weekend if you would like to take a look at the Bred-By group competitions.  Allow for the time difference — the show is in California so it will be three hours later for East coast people.  Remember that many times the Bred-By winner will also go on to win Best of Breed and compete in the regular group competitions, so you may be able to spot the eventual Best In Show winner.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bath day and the boarding kennel

It’s bath day here.  Not for me!  I try to keep up with my personal hygiene on a daily basis.  But the dogs don’t get bathed and groomed quite as often as I do.  When I’m showing a dog they may get bathed weekly and I put them up on the grooming table every week to use the clippers, scissors, and do their nails and so on.  But the rest of the time I usually let them go about a month between baths.  They can start looking pretty shaggy between grooming sessions.  Billie, especially, tends to get a mop of curly hair on her head.  She looks like she has a perm.




Courtesy flickr

Courtesy flickr

I usually try to space the baths and grooming sessions out so I don’t end up doing them all on one day because, honestly, bathing four or five big dogs in a bathtub is a little backbreaking.  If you bathe your own dog you probably know what it’s like.  Some dogs are better in the bath than others.  Mine are good.  I start playing with them in the bath when they are just babies, letting them splash in an inch of water.  Sometimes I put on a bathing suit and I get in the tub to play with them as puppies.  So, none of them are afraid of baths.  They don’t freeze up or shake the way some dogs do because we start with it when they’re so young.  Most of my dogs hop in and out of the tub even when it’s empty to play in there and I have a couple who like to sleep in the tub.



They like getting groomed, too.  That’s probably because they get treats for every single thing we do.  Get on the table, get a treat.  Use the clippers, get a treat.  Do their nails, get a treat.  Get off the table, LOTS of treats.  It’s taken me a long time to work out all these little systems so the dogs are happy to cooperate.


The reason I have to give everybody baths today is because everybody has to go get their vaccinations later this week and I like for them to look nice when they go to see the vet.  (Of course, it’s been kind of muddy and wet here the last couple of weeks, too, so they really do need baths.)  And, the reason why everybody has to get their vaccinations updated this week is because they’re all going to the boarding kennel this weekend.  I’m going on a little vacation and around here the boarding kennel is the best option for them while I’m gone.


In the past I’ve agonized about leaving them at the kennel when I had to go somewhere.  I’ve looked for good pet sitters.  I’ve considered asking one of my neighbors to take care of them.  But the best option in our case has turned out to be the boarding kennel near my house.  After checking into the very few pet sitters in the area, I haven’t been able to find one that I had confidence in.  I think they provide a wonderful service and I wish I could find one locally that felt “right” to me.  But after speaking to several of them on the phone none of them sounded like someone I wanted to trust my dogs to while I was away.  I like my neighbors a lot but several of them are elderly, so I wouldn’t ask to impose on them.  One family has teenage kids who like my dogs, but I just felt like it might be asking too much to put all that responsibility on a neighbor.  That left a couple of good boarding kennels near my home.  I know the owners personally.  I buy dog food from one of them and the other one breeds Pugs.  I know she takes wonderful care of her dogs.  I’ve personally visited both kennels.  I know the conditions and how the dogs are kept.  They invite me to call every day when I’m away (which I do).  The last time I returned home from a trip two of my girls were sitting up front in the office “helping out.”  My dogs have always been in great shape when I’ve picked them up and they seem very fond of the kennel people.  And the kennel people know each dog by name and can tell me all kinds of details about them.  I like that.


If you are ever thinking about choosing a boarding kennel for your dog (and I know it’s hard) you should visit the kennel and meet the people who would be taking care of your dog.  Do you like them?  Do they seem trustworthy?  Is the place clean?  Well-ventilated?  Do the dogs seem well-cared for?  Ask how the dogs are kenneled.  Boarding kennels typically place two dogs in each kennel run so they have to make sure that the two dogs are compatible.  You can ask which dog would be kenneled with your dog if they know.  Ask what food the kennel feeds.  It’s perfectly acceptable to bring your dog’s own food from home for his stay.  You can also bring a favorite toy.


I’ve never had any problems with boarding a dog at a boarding kennel.  My family used to board our dogs when we went on vacations when I was a kid, too.  But, like anything else, there are good ones and bad ones so you should carefully check out any place you plan to leave your dog.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | General | Leave a comment