Greyt Inspirations Life

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

Obamas close to choosing family dog

They’re getting close!  Both kinds of dogs are known for being good for people with allergies.



Portuguese Water Dog.  Wikipedia

Portuguese Water Dog. Wikipedia

From The New York Times News Service:

The Obama family is nearing a decision on the breed for the First Dog. Before President-elect Barack Obama began his interview on the ABC program This Week, which was broadcast Sunday, his daughters — Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 — asked host George Stephanopoulos to slip in this question: “What kind of a dog are we getting, and when are we getting it?”


Labradoodle.  Wikipedia

Labradoodle. Wikipedia

When asked, Obama laughed and said, “They seem to have narrowed it down to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound,” he said, adding that the next step is to canvass shelters. “We’re closing in on it,” he said. “This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary,” a reference to the recent withdrawal by Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as his original selection for that post. 

Both breeds, chosen to reduce Malia’s allergy to dogs, have powerful Democratic backers. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts owns two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash, which frequently flank him as he walks through the halls of the Capitol. Vice President-elect Joe Biden meanwhile, has a Labradoodle (part Labrador retriever, part poodle) named Brother.


January 12, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Helping your older dog

I’m very sad today.  My Titans are out of the playoffs.  I guess it shows that you can have a fabulous season and still not reach your ultimate goal.  Just ask the New England Patriots about that.  They had a perfect season last year and still lost in the Super Bowl.



3025742687_1c3dafdc9d_mEnough football.  I consoled myself by giving Blue that nice long bath I’ve been promising him.  He and Pearl have been practically rolling in the mud for a week and he really needed it.  He looks very nice now.  He still needs to be groomed.  That will take some time.  He’s got a lot of hair.  Poor little Pearl is about half his size and she has hardly any hair at all.  She looks like a shorthaired dog, and that is not how an English Setter is supposed to look.  She had long, beautiful hair last year but then the weather got very hot and she shed like crazy.  It’s never really grown back.  I may start giving her fish oil tablets or something to try to help her hair grow again.


I’m trying to get both dogs looking their best because I want to enter them in a couple of shows next month.  Oh, joy!  LOL  Going on the road with two crazy dogs is just like taking a family vacation when I was a kid.  We drive and drive and the dogs (like kids) want everything they see.  They even do the bit about asking, “Are we there yet?”  You hear a whine and a bark from the backseat (where the dogs are safely crated).  Only with Pearl it’s more like “BARK BARK BARK” for 100 miles.  Pearl thinks she should do the driving.  She always wants to be in charge and can’t believe I would crate her or make her stay in the back seat.  But, let me tell you, if you don’t crate Pearl she is in your lap and makes driving VERY dangerous.  The little wiggleworm is all over the car.  More about the shows later.



World's oldest dog?  flickr

World's oldest dog? flickr

I think I’ve mentioned that I have two older dogs — Beau, who’s 10, and Taylor, who’s 12.  I had them both at the vet in December for their check-ups.  I was very happy when they passed with flying colors.  It’s always a great relief to get good news about old dogs because there are so many things that they can start to find wrong with them.  Beau and Taylor each have one bad tooth that needs to come out, but that was the only thing that the vet found.  Taylor, in particular, needs to have his removed fairly soon, so I’m planning for that.  It’s kind of a big deal because they have to do blood work first and then use anesthesia on him — which scares me.  It’s scary anytime they have to use anesthesia on an older dog.  That’s why I’ve been kind of dragging my feet about the whole thing.



But otherwise Taylor is in good shape.  He has lost three pounds since last summer, which concerns me.  He’s not skinny but I hate to see an older dog lose weight.  I’ve started cooking for him some.  He’s still getting his regular dog food but I’ve added a meal for him in the mornings.  Last week I cooked chicken thighs and sweet potatoes into a soft stew for him and gave him some everyday.  This week I cooked the remains of a roast and some potatoes for him and I’ve been giving him some of that everyday.  He’s eating heartily.  His appetite has always been good.  What happens with older dogs is that they start needing food that is more digestible for them.  You can give them great food but if their body can no longer digest it then they aren’t getting the benefits from it.


It’s fine to give older dogs lots of protein.  Dog food gurus used to tell us that you shouldn’t give older dogs as much protein because their kidneys couldn’t handle it.  But now they say that, unless your dog has a kidney problem, then it’s fine to give them food with plenty of good quality protein.


If you have an older dog who is getting picky about food there are some things you can consider doing to help him.  Many older dogs start to have duller senses.  That means that they can no longer smell and taste things the way they used to.  So you can make food more appealing to them by mixing in things that have a stronger smell and taste that they like.  Try adding some canned food to your dog’s dry diet.  Or adding some homecooked food that is very tasty and which smells good.


Don’t forget your older dog’s teeth, either.  If your dog is not eating like he used to eat check his teeth.  Many older dogs start to have some dental problems.  If your dog seems interested in his food or picks at it but doesn’t eat much, that’s often a sign that his teeth won’t let him eat much.  Have the vet take a good look at his teeth and try some softer food, too.


Older dogs may also have eyesight problems when it comes to food bowls.  Just this week I heard somebody with a 12-year-old dog say that her dog was looking at his food bowl strangely and wouldn’t eat from it.  But when she fed him by hand he was fine.  The consensus was that he was having some eyesight issues.  He’s back to normal now but it shows that older dogs go through some changes with all their senses.  Try to look at things from your older dog’s point of view and think about what he might be experiencing.  Often that can lead you to some answers.


Of course, older dogs have many other issues as well.  When I had my dear, sweet Sami and she was getting older, her eyes began bothering her.  She began to have problems seeing at night.  She wouldn’t go outside at night and I couldn’t figure out why.  I finally watched her and figured out that, with her declining eyesight, she couldn’t see the steps on the back deck at night and needed some help to get down into the backyard and back inside again. If I went with her as an escort she was more confident and willingly went out at night.


So, if you have an older dog take time to watch them and see where they’re having problems and what you can do to help them.  I know you love your dogs as I do mine.  This is just one more kindness you can do for them.

January 11, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Things to think about

Good morning and welcome to WaterWorld.  It is still raining where I live.  I think it’s been raining for a solid week.  We’ve had a couple of years of drought here so I hate to complain about rain but, seriously, it’s getting a little old.  My floors are literally covered with mud.  When you have five dogs who can go in and out whenever they want it’s hard to keep the house remotely clean under these conditions.  I’ve given up trying to keep the floors cleaned for now and I’m focusing on washing clothes and bedding everyday because the dogs — I really love them — go out and play in the mud and then they run straight for me or hop up on the bed.  They think this is great.  I keep planning to give baths but then I think, “What’s the point?”  I wanted to wait until the rain stopped before I gave baths or else I’ll just have to give more baths.  The whole situation makes me feel kind of helpless.  I don’t know when the rain is supposed to stop.




Looking for building supplies?  Flickr

Looking for building supplies? Flickr

In other news, I saw something the other night that made me ponder.  My significant other person is fixing up his new place and his idea of a night out now consists of going to Lowe’s.  Yes, you could say it lacks romance.  Anyway, we were going into the store when we saw a woman going into Lowe’s carrying a little Chihuahua in her arms.  Into Lowe’s.  I thought that was odd.  We’re not talking about someone carrying a little dog into a clothing store in Beverly Hills.  We’re talking about someone taking a little dog into a building supply store in the middle of the country.  I’m not sure what I think about that.  Well, one thing I think is that it’s not fair I can’t take my big dogs places with me.  I know, definitely, that no store is going to let me bring in one of my 70-pound dogs.  Not unless it’s a pet supply store or a store with a very special policy about pets.  So, I guess I’m jealous that people can carry their toy dogs into stores.  But I’m also wondering if it’s a good idea in general.



Don’t get me wrong, please.  I love dogs.  I’m a huge animal lover.  And I know there are places where dogs are welcome.  There are restaurants in Florida that welcome pets.  Paris, France, allows dogs to mingle with diners.  Dogs wander freely in many places.  But, up until recently, you haven’t seen many dogs allowed in stores in the U.S.  I just wonder if it’s a good idea to have dogs in stores.  Not everyone is a dog lover and if you go into a store like Lowe’s to buy something maybe you don’t want to encounter dogs.  Maybe you have allergies.  Besides, not all dogs have good manners.  Maybe somebody gets bitten in a store and the next thing you know somebody is trying to get another ridiculous law passed because people didn’t use common sense.


Oh,well.  I’m probably making too much of it.


Another news item today comes from Riverside County in Southern California — where so much dog legislation seems to sprout.  (Just so you know, I hate dog legislation.)  There’s a new “anti-nuisance” ordinance in Riverside now that will fine the owners of barking dogs up to $500.  There are a lot of very unhappy dog owners in Riverside right now.  I believe they’ve been trying to fight this ordinance but without much success.


Personally, I am totally on the side of the dog owners.  If you have ever owned a dog I bet that dog has barked at some inconvenient time.  It’s easy to have a bad neighbor, even if your dog is innocent.  If your neighbor doesn’t like you for any reason they just have to report your dog and they can cause a lot of trouble for you.  Just try to prove that your dog wasn’t the one barking!  If you do have a dog who barks too much it can be one of the hardest things to stop.  Besides, these fines are way over the top.


3032567370_3e0ddd2ac3_mIt seems like it gets harder all the time to be a good pet owner, doesn’t it?  I think it’s because we keep raising expectations for how dogs should act.  Now dogs aren’t even supposed to bark.  When you think about it, we are trying to make them more and more “civilized” — more and more human.  And less and less like dogs.  This has probably happened because so many of us are more urban and “civilized” these days.  Most people don’t live in the country anymore.  They don’t see nature first hand or see how animals behave on their own.  We get “nature” from TV.  We get food from the grocery freezer.  We get pets from the shelter or from someone else who raised them.  We’re a couple of steps removed from the kind of life our grandparents and great-grandparents lived.  Life may be much better for pets in many ways, but they are also much more restricted in other ways.


Just some things to think about.

January 8, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | 2 Comments

Marley & Me vs The Dog Whisperer

marley_snow_kahua6nc_300I haven’t seen Marley & Me yet but I hear that it’s the #1 movie in America — and critics are teeing off on it.  Well, you can’t please everybody.  But I found an interesting review about the movie today in the L.A. Times:  “Bad dogs: Why ‘Marley & Me’ needs Cesar Millan.”   It’s actually pretty good.  The writer discusses not just why Marley could have benefitted from the dog trainer’s approach but why many Americans are to blame for their own badly-behaved dogs.



The L.A. Times blogger writes:


As anyone who watches dog behavior expert Cesar Millan on National Geographic’s “Dog Whisperer” knows, this passive attitude to dog ownership is widespread. And it’s a chief reason why the world is full of dogs who bark all night, attack small children and mail carriers, and hump house guests’ legs (and also, yes, spawn litigation that helps drive up insurance costs for the rest of us). Sorry, “Marley & Me,” but there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. (Interestingly, Grogan himself sought Millan’s help last year with his new dog, Gracie.)


Blunt, but true.  I have to agree with the blogger.  Very few dogs start out “bad.”  They become that way according to what their owners let them get away with or how they’re treated.  Dogs are hardwired to be man’s best friend after at least 15,000 years of living with us.  Any other kind of behavior is mostly bad training, or no training.  So, it should make you feel a lot better to know that when your dog does something bad it’s your fault.  At least it means that you can do something about it.  Your dog doesn’t have to go on acting that way.


retrain_balanceI have to admit that I have some issues with Cesar Millan, but this is just my personal take on things.  On the positive side he does train the owner to handle their dog; and he helps them establish themselves as the person in charge.  You’d be amazed at how often people let their dogs run their lives and homes.  When I have watched his show, however, it often looks like he’s manhandling dogs and that they are fearful.  Granted, he works with some dogs that have behavior problems, but that’s not how I’ve been taught to deal with dogs.  I have some problems with the whole theory about a human being “alpha” and part of the dog pack, too.  I basically think it’s kind of silly.  No dog in his right mind is going to mistake you for another dog.  You’re not the alpha in his dog pack.  You’re like a god to your dog unless he’s being a real brat.


Really, it’s very funny how different dogs can be.  What works with one kind of dog would be a disaster with another.  My dogs, for instance, English Setters, are very “soft.”  If I get mad and yell at one of them it hurts their feelings and they will hang their head and sometimes hide.  I can’t do that.  I have to use much more positive methods with them.  That’s just an example.  Actually, it doesn’t do much good to ever lose your temper with a dog.  It’s counterproductive.  But my dogs can tell a lot just by the tone of my voice.  I used to have a friend who bred Afghan Hounds.  They were funny.  She could yell at them until she was blue in the face and they just ran off and ignored her, with a devilish twinkle in their eyes.


There are a lot of people who have dogs with strong wills and strong personalities.  The dog is seemingly more determined to get what he wants than the owner is.  If you have a dog like that you have to learn how to handle the situation because your dog will keep pushing you.  You have to learn to set boundaries for your dog that he will obey.  The best thing you can do is to start teaching your dog from the time he’s a puppy that he has to do what you tell him to do.  You don’t have to be mean about it.  Just praise and reward him for doing what you want.  Ignore him when he doesn’t do what you want; or let bad consequences follow (he misses out on play time when he doesn’t come to you; he misses treats that you give the other dog, etc).


With nearly 80 million pet dogs in the U.S. there are more first-time dog owners today than at any other time.  That means there are a lot of people who don’t know how to keep and teach their dogs how to behave.  It shows in some of the badly-behaved dogs we see now.  Teach your dog to behave well.  If you have a dog it’s your responsibility to train him and teach him good manners.  Otherwise, don’t be surprised when your cute puppy grows up to be a menace.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Non-Football TV

This is a great time of year if you love football.  And I do like football.  Two of my favorite teams are in the playoffs.  That would be the Vikings (for reasons too far back to explain) and the Titans (because, yes, I live in Tennessee).  The dogs and I had fun watching the Wild Card games yesterday.  We didn’t really have a preference about who won but the games were good, especially the Colts-Chargers game.  I have to say that no matter how long it’s been since Peyton Manning left Tennessee he is still considered a local boy here because he played at UT.  You can go in restaurants around Knoxville and find his autographed picture everywhere.  His framed jersey is still everywhere.  Giant paintings of him (looking very noble) watch you eat.  LOL  So it’s hard to think of him as being with a non-Tennessee team even after all this time.  Fortunately this Peyton Manning cult hasn’t stopped people from supporting the Titans.




Puppy in the uterus.  National Geographic Channel.

Puppy in the uterus. National Geographic Channel.

However, I recognize the fact that not everyone likes football.  If you’re in the mood for some non-football TV this evening the National Geographic Channel has an interesting program lined up.  It’s called “In The Womb:  Dogs.”  The show is one of a series that NGC has been showing on animals (and humans) in the womb and how embryos and fetuses develop.  I saw a previous show on the development of mammals which included a puppy and it was fascinating.



“In The Womb:  Dogs”  uses state-of-the-art visual effects and real-time 4-D ultrasound imagery to follow the fetal development of one wolf and three different dog breeds.  According to one person who’s seen an advanced viewing of the show you’re able to see that our dogs are not so very different from their wolf ancestors.


The show lets us see how the puppy develops from a single cell to a complex, self-sustaining organism — an incredible transformation before it even takes its first breath.  NGC says that the show features ground-breaking photography, computer graphics, and 4-D imaging.


The show is scheduled to air tonight at 8 pm on the National Geographic Channel.  That’s cable so check your local listings for channel and time where you live.  As an added bonus, the show will be followed by a companion show called “In The Womb:  Cats,” in case you would like to see how kittens develop.  Lots of people love kittens as much as they love puppies and that should could be just as interesting.


And, in case you’re interested, “The Science of Dogs” is on NGC at 7 pm.  This show discusses how dog breeds have been developed over the centuries.  It’s an interesting show that’s been on before.  You can have an entire evening of animal television.  Since the 4:30 ET football game should be going off around that time you may not have to choose between animal programming and football, but if you do you could record one.  These should be good programs.

January 4, 2009 Posted by | Cats, dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Green, Recycled Sweater Dog Toys, Earth Friendly

I was “just browsing the net” this morning and came across a recycled sweater dog toy. What a great idea, especially for dogs, such as our Rowdy Roo, who are very hard on toys.

They are created from thrift shop finds, these recycled sweater dog toys are beautiful and earth friendly! If your dog loves to tug and pull, this is the perfect toy for you. Braided and knotted yet perfect soft for hours and hours of play and fun.

Information from:
Purchase at Bark for Peace


January 3, 2009 Posted by | General | , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year! And new dog breeds, sort of.

2343137427_86089d1ba5_mI hope everyone is having a great New Year so far.  It’s probably too early to tell how 2009 is going to turn out but hopefully it will be better than 2008 for a lot of people.  Things are going well here at my house.  The viruses or whatever we picked up are going away, thanks to some cold medicine, lots of vitamin C, and the wonders of acidophilus tablets.  I spent New Year’s Day watching the Monk and Twilight Zone marathons with the dogs.  They like anything that involves sleeping on the bed for hours.  You may not know that you can jumble five 50-80 pound dogs on a double bed with you, but you can.  I think we need a king-size bed.



Did you know that there are over 400 recognized breeds of dogs in the world?  That’s true.  They aren’t all recognized by the American Kennel Club or the Canadian Kennel Club yet, but in other parts of the world there are registries that recognize them.  In fact, the United Kennel Club here in the U.S. recognizes a number of breeds that aren’t in the AKC yet.  There are different reasons for this.  Primarily a registry like the AKC or the Canadian Kennel Club tries to make sure that there is a large enough population of a breed in their country, with enough breeders backing the breed, that it won’t die out right after being recognized.  It’s a long process from the time people begin developing or importing dogs of a breed to this country and the time that it’s officially recognized by the registry.  People who love the breed have to jump through a lot of hoops to get that official stamp of approval.  Once they are an “official” breed the dogs and owners can take part in all of the events offered by the registry, including shows, hunting and herding events, obedience and agility events, and so on.


(The United Kennel Club is an old and respected registry with a strong emphasis on working dogs.  They recognize many breeds that still perform their original work.  Some of these breeds have not yet shown much interest in American Kennel Club membership or conformation events.  However, there are many breeds that are recognized by both the UKC and the AKC.  It’s not uncommon for dogs to be double registered with both registries and participate in events with both organizations.  A dog can be both an AKC Champion and a UKC Grand Champion.)


People who get one of the registered puppies can also have confidence that the dog is who it is supposed to be — that the parents are who the breeder claims, and the pedigree is what it’s supposed to be for all the recorded generations.  You know, that still matters to a lot of people who want to be able to predict how their puppy will turn out as an adult dog.  That’s one of the purposes of having a “purebred” dog — having dogs that breed true for specific traits.  It’s not really about superiority or being a prissy dog.  You can have a purebred dog who’s the toughest guy on the block — nothing foo-foo about him.  He’s just a purebred dog because he breeds true and has the same traits as his ancestors.


Speaking as a breeder I think that too often people have the wrong idea about purebred dogs.  They think if they get a purebred dog that their dog is better than someone else’s dog, or a mixed breed dog.  I don’t think that’s true for a minute.  They’re all simply dogs.  You can have the Westminster winner and he is still “just” a dog.  He is going to drink out of the toilet and chew on your shoes.  Sometimes I interview people who are looking for a puppy and if I think they have unreasonable expectations about a dog — that he will never have an accident in the house, never shed, or do other dog things, then I politely tell them I don’t have a puppy for them.  I don’t want to put any dog in a home where he can’t be a dog or where he will have owners who don’t understand how dogs act.  Whether dogs are purebreds or mutts, it doesn’t matter.  They’re all dogs.  My purebred dogs have destroyed furniture, eaten computer cords, chewed up phones and remotes, and taken my underwear out to the backyard.  LOL  I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  I love them and they make me laugh everyday.


But, seriously, there are some benefits to getting a purebred dog.  Primarily, you know what you’re getting.  When a breed has been around for 400 years, or 4000 years, then you know what your puppy will look like when he grows up.  You know what his temperament will probably be like.  You know if he will be good with kids.  You know if he will be all right living in an apartment or if he needs two acres.  You know what kinds of health problems occur in the breed and what you should ask the breeder about the parents.  If you buy from a good breeder you should be able to have all these answers before you bring a puppy home.  The emphasis, of course, is on buying from a good breeder.  You can’t expect to get these answers if you just go to a pet shop or get a dog at a flea market.  You have to do some homework about the breed and to identify good breeders.


That’s not to say that you can’t get a wonderful dog at your local animal shelter.  Of course you can.  But one of the main differences between a dog raised by a good breeder and a dog from an animal shelter is the amount of socialization the dog has had.  Good breeders (note I said good breeders again) spend the first few weeks of a puppy’s life socializing the puppy in various ways to help him become a confident puppy and adult.  They start touching the puppy from the minute he’s born, handling him, petting him; and then they start introducing him to various sights and sounds in the home so he won’t be afraid of things later.  Many pups that you find in an animal shelter have never received this kind of handling and socialization during these critical first weeks.  That puts them at risk of becoming fearful adults and developing behavior problems later on.  It takes a lot of work on the part of the new owner to overcome this poor start in life.


The reason I mention all of this is because the AKC has just recognized three “new” breeds.  They aren’t actually new, of course.  They’ve been around for a long time elsewhere.  But they are new here.  These new breeds are the Irish Red and White Setter — a relative of the Irish Setter, and a very beautiful dog; the Pyrenean Shepherd, from France; and the Norwegian Buhund, a Spitz-type breed.


Here’s what the AKC has to say about them:


The Irish Red and White Setter.  AKC

The Irish Red and White Setter. AKC

The history of the Irish Red and White Setter is as mysterious as the myths and legends of the country of origin. Its original purpose was as a versatile hunting companion, providing food for the table, both fur and feather. The Irish Red and White Setter Association was formed in America in 1997 to preserve the purebred Irish Red and White Setter and to maintain the heritage and unique qualities of the breed as a multi-talented gun dog. As a companion, they are loving, loyal and best suited for a very active family. 



The Pyrenean Shepherd.  AKC

The Pyrenean Shepherd. AKC

The Pyrenean Shepherd or “Pyr Shep” has herded sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains of Southern France for centuries. The breed comes in two coat types – Rough-Faced and Smooth-Faced. It first distinguished itself outside its native mountains during its service to French troops during World War I. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Pyr Sheps gave their lives for the cause as couriers, search and rescue dogs finding injured soldiers after battles, and accompanying guards on their rounds. 


Some Pyr Sheps came to North America in the 19th century accompanying flocks of imported sheep.  Pyr Shep fanciers imported breeding stock in the 1970’s and 80’s, establishing the foundation for the breed in America today. Working closely with the French parent club, U.S. fanciers founded the Pyrenean Shepherd Club of America in 1987 with the goal of protecting and preserving Pyrenean Shepherds. Although tentative with strangers, the Pyrenean Shepherd has a very lively, cheerful disposition, and is a superb canine athlete who excels at agility and other dog sports.



The Norwegian Buhund.  AKC

The Norwegian Buhund. AKC

The Norwegian Buhund belongs to a large class of dogs called the Spitz type. The breed as we know it today, with its prick ears and curled tail, was nurtured in the rainy western coastlands of Norway where they herded sheep, guarded farms and hunted bear and wolf.  Besides working ability, Buhunds are trained to aid the hearing impaired, perform some types of police work, and perform well in obedience and agility trials. In fact, the Buhund is considered by many to be the most trainable of the Spitz breeds due to their innate desire to please and quick aptitude to learn. Today they work with livestock, guard home and family and make wonderful companions for active people or families. 


So, if you’re looking for a new dog, there are three more breeds for you to consider in the U.S.  That brings to 161 the number of breeds recognized by the AKC.  Anyway, I always think it’s interesting when they add new breeds.

January 2, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , | 1 Comment