Greyt Inspirations Life

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

In praise of big dogs

I just read an interesting story on one of my dog e-mail lists.  Due to the flooding up in North Dakota some of the animal shelters there are getting dogs that they never usually get.  People are turning in young purebred dogs because they’ve lost their homes to the floods.  What’s more, when news of this spread, people started calling from hundreds of miles away for a chance to get these dogs.  There were dogs like Longhaired Dachshunds, Beagles and Chihuahuas in one shelter and people drove hundreds of miles to adopt them.  These were purebred dogs from good breeders but with their owners in dire straits they needed a new home.


Who doesn't love a Labrador Retriever?

Who doesn't love a Labrador Retriever?

Unfortunately, there were still purebred Labrador Retrievers sitting in the shelter that no one adopted.



All of this got me thinking about big dogs in general.  It seems that people always want to adopt the cute, small dogs but larger dogs are often out of luck, even if they’re purebreds.  It’s true that it does cost more to feed a big dog.  Vet care for big dogs can cost more.  Everything from heartworm medicine to doggy clothing costs more for big dogs.


Retired Greyhounds make great house pets.

Retired Greyhounds make great house pets.

I know that with so many people living in cities and apartments now that small dogs often seem to be a more sensible choice but that’s not always the case.  Some small dogs can be extremely active and require a lot of exercise, while some big dogs are very happy to be couch potatoes.  Take retired Greyhounds for instance.  Although they enjoy a good run, when they live in your home they are one of the best house dogs.  They are calm, quiet and well-mannered, regardless of their size.  When you consider Labrador Retrievers, there really is no better family dog.  They also make a great dog for a single person.  They are loving and devoted.  They do need some exercise or they tend to get fat, but what they want most is to spend time with you.



I’m a big dog person myself.  I have always loved big dogs.  I like to wrestle and play with my dogs.  I woke up this morning and one of my dogs was gnawing on my arm, trying to get me to play with him.  We started wrestling and playing at 5 am.  I like to cuddle, too, and big dogs are also great cuddlers.


I grew up with horses and I loved to go out riding and have our Irish Setter go along with us.  It was great to be out in the woods with a big dog trotting along next to us or racing off to check out something in the bushes.  I think big dogs give me a feeling of safety that I don’t get with small dogs.


A really big dog.

A really big dog.

Small dogs are great, too, of course.  I have known some wonderful small dogs.  But I like the way a big dog walks along next to me like a partner.  I know we’re watching out for each other.  I take care of him and he takes care of me.



I guess whatever dog you have is the best dog for you.  To each his own.  For me, it’s the big dogs.  That’s why I have five of them.  And they’re all spoiled rotten.  🙂


If you live near the areas that have experienced flooding you may want to check with some local shelters to see if they have been receiving extra dogs for adoption.  Maybe consider adopting a big dog? Big dogs make great best friends.

March 30, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Beware of…falling over your dog?

I saw an unusual news item today:  Pet lovers beware:  cats, dogs are tripping hazards.  Well, I knew that.  I fell over one of my dogs last year when I was getting out of bed and put my arm through my bedroom window.  Oh!  The blood!  Just the other night I got up in the middle of the night and tripped over Beau because he was sleeping in a place where none of the dogs ever sleep.  I went crashing to the floor.  My knees are still hurting.  I just had no idea that tripping over your pets was such a serious problem for other people, too.



This crafty dog is clearly waiting to trip some unsuspecting owner.

This crafty dog is clearly waiting to trip some unsuspecting owner.





According to this news story roughly 240 Americans end up in the ER every day for sprains, fractures or other injuries from falls caused by a dog or cat.  Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (who did the research) said that cats and dogs account for 88 percent of all the fall-related injuries in emergency rooms.  Can you believe that?  88 percent!  That’s from five years’ worth of data on injuries from a national sampling of hospitals in the U.S.


Dogs and cats cause an estimated 86,600 falls per year, according to this CDC study.


Tripping seems to be the biggest risk. About 31 percent of dog-related and 66 percent of cat-related injuries were caused by tripping. Another 21 percent of dog-related injuries occurred when people fell after being pushed or pulled by dogs.


The CDC said pet owners need to be aware that their furry friends can cause accidents. They recommended pet obedience training to reduce fall-related injuries.


To top it all off, women are about 2.1 times as likely to have a pet-related fall as men.


Who knew that having pets could be so dangerous?


You want to know what’s really embarrassing?  When your dog gives you a black eye.  Have you ever been petting or brushing your dog and all of a sudden he throws his big head up right in your face?  I have had a bloody lip, what felt like a broken nose, and, yes, even a black eye (at different times) before because my dog tossed his bony head up into my face when I was leaning over close to him or her.  I know a couple of people who have gone to the ER when their dog gave them black eyes and they said no one believed them when they told the doctors the dog did it.  The doctors and nurses treated them like they were the victims of spousal abuse, which is kind of (but not really) funny.


With five big dogs I have scratches and bruises all the time, especially since Pearl is a jumper.  She wants to jump up on me every time I come in a room.  Even with keeping her nails cut short I get scratched and she can bump me in the face.  She’s not as bad as she used to be.  I have preached at her enough about jumping and keeping all four paws on the ground so she’s finally (now that she’s almost two years old) starting to act a little more mature.  But I still can’t go a week without some bruises.


I think this is the part of dog ownership nobody tells you about.  When you think about getting a dog nobody warns you that you can end up in the ER because your dog is going to trip you or give you a black eye.  It makes you wonder just who’s in charge of your relationship, doesn’t it?

March 27, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | Leave a comment

Tail chasing and other compulsions

How many of you have happily watched your puppy chase his tail in circles?  I have to admit that it always makes me laugh when one of my dogs does this.  I can’t believe how long a puppy can spin himself in circles trying to catch his tail.  Even some juvenile dogs will occasionally do “spin the tail on the dog.”  It always make me wonder if dogs get dizzy like people do.  I know when I was a kid sometimes I would stand outside and spin in circles until I got dizzy just for the fun ot it.  (Is that weird?)  It was always especially fun to do that when the wind was blowing or a storm was coming.  I’d spin until I fell down laughing.  Is that what a puppy’s doing?  I would get dizzy but it was what we call “self-limiting.”  After you get to a certain point you can’t physically do it anymore.





Most puppies outgrow the tail-chasing stage.  After they discover they have a tail (“Hey!  What’s that?  Let’s chase it!”) they usually forget about their tail unless they have an itch or when they’re wagging it and it thumps something.  But there are dogs who become obsessed with chasing their tail. There are dogs who can develop obsessions about different things, whether it’s chasing their tails, chewing themselves, fetching a ball, carrying a favorite toy around, chasing flies, and so on.


There’s a new study out that says that high cholesterol may be a marker for these problems.  If I’m reading the story correctly, that doesn’t mean that high cholesterol causes these obsessions, but that if you find high cholesterol in your dog’s blood work it would be a tip off that you’re dealing with this kind of problem.  The two things — obsessions (obsessive compulsive disorders, panic attacks and other behavioral problems) often go hand in hand with tail-chasing in dogs.


According to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice:


The finding adds to a growing body of evidence — mostly from studies on humans — that high cholesterol may be a marker for behavioral problems such as panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder, which could be expressed by frequent tail-chasing falls in dogs.


Bouts of tail-chasing can also occur after a dog experiences physical trauma, surgery or illness, noted Hasan Batmaz, a member of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Turkey’s University of Uludag, who conducted the study along with a team of colleagues.


Certain breeds, such as bull terriers and German shepherds, seem to chase their tails more often than others.


I have no idea why there would be a connection between high cholesterol and these behaviors.  I didn’t even know that when you had your dog’s blood work done they looked at the cholesterol count, so this is all new to me.  But it sounds promising.  If cholesterol can be controlled in dogs as it is in humans, perhaps these obsessive behaviors can be controlled, too?


I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a dog with a compulsive behavior problem.  I did foster a Golden Retriever/Irish Setter cross one time and he was fairly compulsive about wanting me to throw balls and things for him to retrieve.  I think he was feeling some anxiety because he was being shuffled from home to home before he went to his permanent home.  He would make me throw balls for him for 2-3 hours and he never seemed to wear out.


I also had a dog one time that had a thyroid problem and a flea bite allergy in the days before we had products like Frontline to control fleas.  No matter how much I bombed my house or how much I sprayed him and the yard, if just one flea bit him he would die itching and chewing his skin.  I think he was very close to being compulsive about scratching and chewing on himself.


It’s hard to be around a dog with a compulsive problem.  Maybe researchers can make some progress now that they have identified cholesterol as a possible marker for compulsive behavior.

March 25, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Fun stuff

Totally fun stuff, not serious at all.


Do you like silly dog ears?  Try this short video a friend of mine put together.  Feel free to sing along!


How about sheep?  How about electric sheep?  Here’s something that might make you laugh.  🙂  It is dog-related.  Those are Border Collies herding the sheep.  We don’t know what made those Scotsmen come up with such an idea.

March 23, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets, Some Fun | | Leave a comment

New cancer drug may help dogs, humans

The weekend was absolutely beautiful here.  The sun was shining, the temperatures were warm, the new calves were out in the field across the street.  And I had to spend this great weekend inside working on a project that was due today.  That’s the way it goes sometimes.  On the bright side, I did learn a lot about canine health which is what I was researching and writing about.



On the subject of canine health, I just read a heartbreaking message on one of my e-mail lists from a woman whose dog has recently been diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his shoulder.  The prognosis isn’t good and she was hoping someone had had some success with alternative medicine — at least more success than with chemo or surgery.


Cancer is a devastating disease in dogs, as in humans.  It is, in fact, the biggest disease killer of dogs.  I just read the figure that an estimated six million pet dogs per year are diagnosed with cancer in one form or another.


There’s an encouraging story in the news today about a breakthrough in cancer treatment.  It involves a dog but it may have applications for both dogs and humans later.  Researchers love to study tumors and cancer in dogs because cancer occurs spontaneously in dogs, just as it does in humans.  It’s not like labratory mice which are virtually bred to get cancer so they can be studied.  The DNA of dogs and humans is also closer in some ways, and so are the diseases we get, so researches can study a disease in dogs or humans and be fairly certain that their conclusions will apply to the other species.


Here’s the story about Oscar and the new cancer-fighting drug:




Oscar the Miracle Dog




‘Miracle Dog’ Beats Aggressive Cancer

Cancer-Fighting Drug Works in Dogs; Can It Do the Same for People?

By Kelli Miller Stacy

WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 23, 2009 — Researchers with the Cleveland Clinic have successfully treated cancer in dogs without toxic side effects or discomfort. The feat could soon lead to a powerful new strategy for treating the disease in people.


Joseph A. Bauer, PhD, with the Center for Hematology & Oncology Molecular Therapeutics at the Cleveland Clinic, detailed the extraordinary achievement at the 237th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City.


Bauer’s team’s success story begins with a “miracle dog” named Oscar, a 10-year-old male Bichon Frise stricken with an extremely aggressive form of cancer called anal sac adenocarcinoma. Chemotherapy and radiation failed to treat the dog’s disease, which left him unable to walk. Oscar had about 3 months left to live.

That’s when Bauer and colleagues gave him an innovative cancer-killing drug called nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl). Within two weeks, Oscar’s cancer significantly improved and he was back on his feet.


‘Trojan Horse’ Kills Cancer

The NO-Cbl drug targets cancer cells like a biological “Trojan horse.” A Trojan horse is a damage-causing substance hidden in something apparently harmless.

In this case, the drug is made of a cancer-killing substance called nitric oxide, which is attached to vitamin B12. Substances called receptors on a cell’s surface attract the vitamin and help it enter the cell. Cancer cells grow abnormally fast with extra B12 receptors. NO-Cbl spots these receptors, sneaks into cancer cells, and releases the nitric oxide, which kills the cancer cells from within…


“We are one of the few research groups that is offering to treat dogs with cancer that otherwise have no hope,” Bauer says. “With no other options available, most people in this situation opt to euthanize so that their pets don’t go through the pain of disease and trauma of surgery.”


Bauer, a dog owner, says his research is “one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.”


March 23, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Homecooking and counter surfing

Harmony has been restored in my home this week.  And it was about time!  I had a week of the boys being grumpy with each other — growling, posturing, chasing each other around.  I hate it.  I have one of the sweetest, gentlest breeds of dog in the world but when there’s a girl in season involved even the boys in this breed can get all manly.  There was a wee bit too much testosterone on display for a few days.



But things are back to normal now.  Thankfully we only go through this phase about once a year.  We don’t usually have much trouble but the last couple of times it’s happened my boy Beau has, unusually, tried to assert himself.  I think he’s been making a power play.  He’s usually a very laid back, quiet dog.  But it seems that when he gets riled up about something he tries to take over the top spot from his older brother, Taylor.  So, things started out about a girl but it quickly turned into a brother rivalry.


Taylor is still in charge though even though he’s 12 years old.  I have to admire my old guy.  He’s very special to me.  He’s always been there for me through everything.  When I feel down it was always Taylor who came to me.  He’s washed tears from my face and laid beside me.  He has the most beautiful, soulful brown eyes.  He looks so much like his mother.


Taylor is getting a little rickety now.  He has some arthritis in his back legs.  I give him glucosamine-chondroitin-MSM tablets everyday to help his joints.  The vet told me it was fine to give him a little buffered aspirin once in a while if he seemed to have some pain but he doesn’t seem to be in any chronic pain.  He still trots around the backyard and he’ll play with the other dogs if he feels like it.


I give Taylor some special homecooked food, too, along with the regular food I give everyone else.  He lost some weight last summer — about 3-5 pounds (he’s 65 pounds) — and I got a little worried about him.  I wanted to help him gain his weight back so I started cooking for him to give him an extra meal everyday.  He loves sweet potatoes so I boil them up for him and mash them with cooked chicken or hamburger meat.  It’s not a very elaborate meal but he likes it and he’s gained his weight back.  I don’t give him enough to throw off the nutritional balance of his regular dog food.  I’m not trying to substitute homecooking for his regular food.  I’m just trying to supplement it.


All of the other dogs envy his extra meal and drool over it.  I have to hold them back so they don’t dive in and gobble it up.  I think I’m lucky because my dogs will eat absolutely anything.  I cooked corn on the cob for dinner last night and put the cobs in the trash after dinner.  I kept meaning to take out the trash before I went to bed but I forgot.  When I got up this morning they were gone, of course.  I don’t know which dog(s) ate them.  I’m halfway expecting somebody to toss them up and be sick but so far no sign of them.  It doesn’t do any good to tell my dogs that corn’s not good for them and they can’t digest it properly; or that corn cobs can be dangerous to them.


My dogs are heathen scavengers.  They’re what we, with Setters, call “counter surfers.”  That means that if you turn your back for a second they will snatch anything you leave out on the counter.  You can’t ever think you can leave anything unattended because your dog will stand on his back paws and “surf” the counter looking for something interesting.  Years ago I had an ongoing problem whenever I brought a loaf of bread in the house.  I had a dog that LOVED bread.  If I put a loaf on the counter when I was carrying groceries in, she would grab the loaf and wolf it down while I was getting more groceries.  I was lucky if I found the plastic bag.  I never had a loaf of bread because it didn’t last a minute in the house.  I developed the habit of putting my bread in the cabinet as soon as I walked in the kitchen so she couldn’t get it.  I still do it even though she’s been dead for years.  Dear sweet Molly was the smartest, or one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever had.  But, boy, did she cause me problems!  She was so devious!



Billie, the bad counter surfer

Billie, the bad counter surfer

I don’t know if you can really train a dog not to counter surf.  Billie is a bad counter surfer.  She stole a pizza out of my oven while I was waiting for it to cool.  Now that’s bad!  She ate the entire thing and didn’t leave a crumb.  When she went to stay with my friend in California for a few months my friend complained over and over about what a bad counter surfer Billie was.  Apparently Billie even ate a bag full of prescription meds from the vet once — though I think the other dogs probably helped her.  Finally, my friend began telling me that she had cured Billie’s counter surfing.  Yeah, sure.  I had my doubts.  When Billie came home she was better than she had been when she left but she still counter surfs.  At least now when I yell at her to get her nose out of my sauce pan she does listen and get down.



Pearl and Blue jump up to see what’s on the counter once in a while but they aren’t habitual offenders.  If I tell them to get down, they do.  But I don’t think I’d trust any of my dogs alone in the house with a loaf of bread on the counter.

March 20, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling…

I hope everyone had a glorious St. Patrick’s Day.  Did you remember to wear a little green?  They say that everyone is a little Irish on St. Paddy’s Day and it’s probably true.  I wonder if that extends to our dogs?


There happen to be quite a few breeds of dogs from Ireland.  For such a small country (it’s only the size of West Virginia) it’s made big contributions to the dog world.


tmb_glen_of_imaal_terrier1Glen of Imaal Terrier— Glen of Imaal, which is a valley in the Wicklow mountains, is the region in Ireland after which this hardy breed is named.  Longer than tall and sporting a double coat of medium length, the “Glen” possesses great strength and conveys the impression of a dog of good substance.  This is a working terrier, who must have the agility, freedom of movement and endurance to do the work for which it was developed.  Like its Irish counterparts, the Glen is also courageous, and always ready to give chase.  When working, it is active, agile, silent and intent upon its game.  Otherwise, the Glen can be a docile companion for families with older children.  Recognized by the AKC in 2004, the Glen of Imaal is one of the newest AKC breeds.


For more information visit the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America.


tmb_irish_setter1Irish Setter— Green may be the color of the Irish, but deep mahogany is the color of this four-legged beauty.  The Irish Setter was among the original breeds recognized by AKC at its inception in 1884 and is part of the Sporting Group.  Irish Setters have rollicking personalities and require a good amount of exercise to satisfy their breed instincts; they are tough and tireless field retrievers.  They are also loving companion dogs who enjoy the company of children.  It takes about three years for this breed to fully mature into adulthood, so if you’re considering bringing an Irish Setter into your home, you should be prepared for an active, fun-loving dog.


For more information visit the Irish Setter Club of America.


tmb_irish_terrier1Irish Terrier— This breed was featured in the 2007 movie “Firehouse Dog,” where it was cast as a canine hero.  Not surprising, considering that Irish Terriers were used to transport messages between troops on the front lines in World War I. Their bravery and spirit make them incomparable pals, and they possess great tenacity.  Loyal and friendly, Irish Terriers hardily adapt to any situation, and they are deeply committed to their owners. Irish Terriers served as longtime mascots for the Notre Dame Football team, providing halftime entertainment for adoring crowds. The Irish Terrier was first recognized by the AKC in 1885.


For more information visit the Irish Terrier Club of America.


tmb_irish_water_spaniel1Irish Water Spaniel— This breed was among the original 9 breeds recognized by AKC in 1884. It has been referred to as the “Shannon Spaniel,” the “Whip-Tail Spaniel,” and the “Rat-Tail Spaniel.”  Distinguishing characteristics are a topknot of long, loose curls and a body covered with a dense, crisply curled liver colored coat, contrasted by a smooth face and a smooth “rat” tail. This ancient breed is a natural water dog. Irish Water Spaniels are devoted to their family and cautious around strangers. They are impressive dogs and possess an endurance quality which makes them equally agile in the water and in the field.


For more information visit the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America.


tmb_irish_wolfhound1Irish Wolfhound— While Irish literature refers to this ancient breed in many ways, including “Big Dogs of Ireland,” Irish Wolfhounds were documented in Rome in the year 391 A.D., where they were presented to the Roman Counsel as gifts, which “all Rome viewed with wonder.”  No wonder– they are the largest and tallest of the galloping hounds.  Males should be a minimum of 32” tall and weigh 120 pounds; females should be a minimum of 30” tall and weigh 105 pounds.  This is a swift breed which hunts by sight, and needs an ample, fenced yard to accommodate its full gallop.  As in early times, Irish Wolfhounds possess an extraordinary social temperament, as well as the intelligence to separate friend, family and foe.


For more information visit the Irish Wolfhound Club of America.


tmb_kerry_blue_terrier1Kerry Blue Terrier— The “Kerry Blue” hails from the Irish county of the same name; he had been purebred in that section of Ireland for more than a hundred years.   Known for his superior working and hunting skills, the Kerry Blue is used for hunting small game and birds, and for retrieving from land as well as water.  Size doesn’t matter, for he is an unsurpassed watch dog and herder of flock.  In some instances in England, he has even been used for police work.  The breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1922, and came into the national spotlight when CH. Torums Scarf Michael won best in show at the 2002 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.


For more information visit the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club.


tmb_soft_coated_wheaten_terrier1Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier— A truly Irish breed, the “Wheaten” has a special connection to St. Patrick’s Day, having first appeared in the show ring at the Irish Kennel Club Championship on March 17, 1937.  The name of this breed describes the characteristics of the coat—soft, silky, with a gentle wave, and of warm wheaten color. Underneath is a formidable dog that enjoys plenty of exercise every day.   Most Wheatens are natural greeters towards people, and extremely alert in their surroundings.  They are quick learners and love to travel with their owners.  The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was first recognized by the AKC in 1973.


For more information visit the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America.


sm_irish_red_white_setter11Irish Red & White Setter—The Irish Red & White Setter became an official AKC breed just this past January. This breed is thought to have emerged at the end of the 17th Century in Ireland, and is red and white in color, as opposed to the solid red Irish Setter. The history of the breed 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. As companions, they are loving, loyal and best suited for a very active family.


For more information visit the Irish Red & White Setter Association.


For more information regarding these or any of AKC’s 161 breeds, visit the AKC web site.


The British Isles in general have given the world dozens of dog breeds.  It’s nice to salute these breeds from Ireland.  Do you have an Irish breed?  Or maybe your dog is just full of blarney?  Whatever the case, give him a hug and a kiss in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Bad week for famous people and their dogs


Lots of pet news over the weekend!  Some of it sad.  Did you see that Oprah has lost one or two new puppies that she recently adopted from a very upscale shelter in the Chicago area?  The puppies came down with parvo.



Oprah and Sadie

Oprah and Sadie

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has brought attention to the issue of canine Parvovirus – an illness that every Boston area dog owner should take measures to prevent. 


Oprah recently lost her Cocker Spaniel puppy Ivan to Parvo. Oprah’s second puppy Sadie, Ivan’s littermate, has also been diagnosed with Parvo and the dog continues to fight for her life.


It’s believed that the two Cocker Spaniel puppies caught Parvo while staying at the PAWS animal shelter in Chicago. Animal shelters, kennels, doggy daycares and other locations where multiple dogs congregate create the perfect setting for the spread of Parvo. (more)


Parvo is a deadly disease to any dog but young puppies are especially susceptible to it.  Proper vaccine procedures protect most dogs and puppies from catching the disease but immunization of pups can be dicey.  Puppies retain immunity from their mothers for several weeks after they’re born.  You must begin vaccinating puppies before that immunity wears off or the puppies may be vulnerable to viruses and diseases like parvo.  Puppies and dogs coming from an animal shelter environment are often times at much higher risk for these disease because there are so many dogs in one place, with dogs passing through who may carry the diseases.


We send our sympathies to Oprah on the loss of Ivan and we send prayers for little Sadie.



Ghenghis Khan

Ghenghis Khan

Another famous person lost a dog last week when a propane tank exploded at a boarding kennel.



A Chow Chow puppy belonging to Martha Stewart was one of 17 dogs to die of injuries sustained in a freak propane explosion at a Pennsylvania kennel.


The blast occurred Friday at the Pazzazz Pet Boarding kennel in the Pocono Mountains.


Fifteen dogs were killed in the explosion – including Stewart’s puppy Ghengis Khan – and two more died over the weekend, according a post on her blog…


The fire blast was ignited when the tank of a propane truck delivering a supply to the kennel suddenly went up in flames. (more)


Ghenghis Khan was the grandson of Stewart’s beloved dog, Paw Paw, whom she lost in December at the age of 12.


We send our condolences to Ms. Stewart as well.


In other news, there’s an excellent story in the L.A. Times about why the Obamas may be having a hard time finding a Portuguese Water Dog to rescue.  (Don’t you wish they would just hurry up and get a dog?) 


The Obama family dog saga

Why has it taken so long? Because the type of dog they want doesn’t often turn up at the local shelter.

By Judith Lewis 

March 15, 2009

In the first two months of his administration, President Obama signed an economic stimulus package into law, lifted restrictions on foreign family-planning clinics and drew up a plan for pulling troops out of Iraq. 


But he has left one early promise unfulfilled: He has not yet acquired a family dog.


Late last month, the Obamas seemed closer to their goal when Michelle Obama told People magazine that, after studying which breeds were least likely to trigger daughter Malia’s allergies, the family had settled on a Portuguese water dog. But the statement was almost immediately modified: The first lady had spoken too soon. The quest for a White House canine continues. 


So what’s the problem? Why has a task as simple as getting a dog eluded the Obamas for so long? Perhaps the answer can be divined in Michelle Obama’s interview: She said she wanted not just any Portuguese water dog but a rescued one. An adult with a good temperament. Perhaps even house-trained.


Lewis goes on to explain that Portuguese Water Dogs are a rather rare breed.  That they almost never end up in shelters.  That they are not being bred by commercial breeders.  They when something doesn’t work out in a dog’s home after he’s been purchased from the breeder, the breeder takes the dog back and re-homes the dog herself.  And that there are breed rescue groups who take care of any other Porties who need help.  So, finding a random Portuguese Water Dog to rescue isn’t going to be easy.


But, she also says that the Obamas might be sending the wrong message by putting the emphasis on rescuing a dog:


Symbolically, it would be nice if the Obamas could rescue a dog. But to insist that the only good dog is a rescued dog is to relegate our future with the canine species to random relationships in which humans are forced to settle for whatever renegade breeders produce and fail to care for.


The idea of “renegade breeders” kind of surprises me.  Far less than 25 percent of the dogs found in shelters are purebred dogs.  The rest are mixed breed dogs — dogs who have been strays, who have bred on their own and produced mixed breed puppies, or the result of “oops” litters in somebody’s home.  Maybe Fluffy got together with Butch next door when their owners weren’t watching and nine weeks later there were some mixed breed puppies.  None of these things happened because of “renegade breeders” and yet these dogs are found in shelters.  Lab mixes — since Labradors are the most popular dog in the United States — and the bully breed mixes (the so-called “Pit Bulls”) make up the majority of dogs in shelters, and these aren’t coming from “renegade breeders” either.


It’s very popular right now to blame dog breeders for every problem in society.  The truth is that if we had more responsible pet owners we would have fewer dogs in shelters.  Breeders can’t control what you do with your dog after you take him home.  They can’t make you keep your dog in a fenced yard or have him neutered.  They can’t make you take your dog to get his shots and prevent disease and illness.  They can’t make you feed your dog a good dog food.  Yet anytime something happens to a dog, from producing an unwanted litter to developing a dog food allergy, someone wants to blame the original breeder.  It’s time for it to stop and for owners to be responsible for their own dogs.

March 16, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fighting dogs and smart dogs

Life at my house has been absolutely miserable this week.  There’s a coup in progress.  It started because one of my girls — Billie — is in season.  That normally disrupts things because everybody’s hormones go haywire.  So, for several days I’ve had lovesick boys and I’ve been shuffling dogs around so nobody gets pregnant. (This is the price I pay for having intact dogs but I show my dogs and I have an occasional litter, so it goes with the territory.)  So far, everything was normal.  This happens about once a year and we live through it.  However, this time there were a couple of differences.  One, I have Blue and he’s now old enough to be interested in girls.  And, two, Taylor is 12 and he’s not quite able to rule the house like he used to.


2917697868_3497a1451f_mNow, I thought at first that Blue might be the strong young guy to take over and be in charge.  He’s a huge boy.  He’s much bigger than Taylor.  But, I had not counted on Taylor’s younger brother, Beau.  Beau is also a huge dog but he has always been the “little” brother.  He’s let Taylor psych him out all his life.  Suddenly, with Taylor getting older, Beau has seemed to realize that he doesn’t have to be second banana anymore.  And that’s not a good thing.



Beau has been just impossible for the last three days.  He has been stalking Blue.  He’s been following Taylor around, threatening him with growls.  He growls night and day.  He is so worked up and mad.  He acts like years of anger and frustration at Taylor are going to break loose.  I’ve been crating him and making him take time-outs when he gets too bad.  Beau is a sweet dog!  He never acts this way.  But he acts like he has got his chance to be head dog now and he’s going to get revenge.


I don’t let Billie or Pearl near the boys but I’m sure the hormones aren’t helping things.  The entire household has been turned upside down because these boys are trying to work out who’s on top.  They follow each other around growling and staring at each other.  I just want it to be over!


Nobody has hurt anybody.  There haven’t been any real fights.  But they’re so noisy!!!  They stay mad at each other all the time.  It’s been very stressful here.  I’m never having three boys again.  Things will probably be all right again once it’s settled who’s in charge but right now it’s a mess.  I’m nervous all the time because I’m afraid the dogs’ barking is going to bother the neighbors.  I am so sleep-deprived!  I hope the boys get this settled soon.


sugar_border_collie_01_w450In other news, I saw an interesting piece online about the smartest dogs.  It seems every few months or couple of years somebody else comes out with a new list of breeds that they claim are the smartest dogs.  The problem is that they all use different criteria so the breeds are usually different.  I know in the Stanley Cohen Book, The Intelligence of Dogs, it favored very biddable, trainable dogs.  So, if you had stubborn or independent dogs they were considered essentially stupid.  That made a lot of terrier people very unhappy.  It didn’t make me very happy either.  The Setters were rated more intelligent than average but I think it said that they had a tendency to tune the owner out when they didn’t want to listen.  (Right now I think my dogs are idiots so this probably isn’t a good time to discuss this subject.)


This latest list, from PetMD, looks like this:


The World’s 10 Smartest Dogs (Supposedly)


10. Australian Cattle Dog

9. Rottweiler

8. Papillon

7. Labrador Retriever

6. Shetland Sheepdog

5. Doberman Pinscher

4. Golden Retriever

3. German Shepherd

2. Poodle

1. Border Collie


I have no idea how they came up with that list.  I can’t see that those breeds have very much in common other than the fact that they’re all popular breeds.  I’ve been told that the Chinese Shar Pei is one of the most intelligent breeds but I never see them on a list of intelligent dog breeds.  The same is true for some other intelligent breeds.


Once again the Border Collie is the smartest breed.  I’ve only known Border Collies in classes — conformation classes, obedience classes.  I was always so focused on my own dogs that I never paid any attention to them.  Are they really that smart?  I know they are supposed to be super intelligent.  I see them on TV competing in agility and other sports.  I guess they must be very focused and easy to train.  I will have to meet one sometime and see for myself.

March 13, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | Leave a comment

New Toys

Have you checked out new toys for dogs recently?  I usually buy my dog food either from a woman who has a boarding kennel (if I’m buying expensive, gourmet dog food), or at the Tractor Supply Co. (if I’m buying our old stand-by), so the toy selection at either place isn’t that great.  They have frisbees and Kongs and rope chews and pig ears and things like that.  They have some toys with squeakers.  Maybe a few things that squawk or talk.  Toys don’t last very long around here with five dogs so I usually try to pick up a new toy a couple of times a month.  It’s a little discouraging to see the dogs race around the backyard with it and rip it to pieces about ten minutes after I bring it home.





The Ice Lick

The Ice Lick

Maybe the toys I’ve been getting them are too boring?  I was looking at some dog toys online this week and I saw some toys that I’d never seen before.  They did have things for smart dogs — like Buster Cubes and balls that your dog has to roll to make a treat come out.  My dogs can do that.  I’ve seen them do that.  But they lose interest pretty fast.  It seems like they don’t want to have to do that much work to get a treat.  But there were a lot of other new toys on these web sites that I hadn’t seen before.  There was one toy that I thought my dogs would love.  It was a giant block of ice with toys frozen inside it.  It’s called, appropriately enough, the Ice Lick.  All you have to do is gather your dog’s favorite toys and treats, freeze them in the bucket mold, put the base of the Ice Lick in your yard, and let your dog lick to his heart’s content during the summer.  My dogs love ice so I think they would really enjoy this activity.




Laser Balls

Laser Balls

I also found the Talk To Me Laser Ball.  You can record your own personal message on the laser ball.  There are motion-activated lights and the ball randomly dispenses treats while your dog plays with it.  That sounds like it would be fun, too.  It says that it’s “durable,” but that can mean different things depending on who plays with it.  Is it durable while a Bichon plays with it?  Or is it durable while a Newfoundland plays with it?




Bubble Buddy

Bubble Buddy

Another interactive toy I found that I thought my own dogs would like was the Bubble Buddy.  This one is cool.  It’s a little machine that blows bubbles for your dog.  LOL  And — get this — the bubbles are chicken, peanut butter and bacon-scented.  I can just picture my dogs chasing and trying to bite the bubbles.  I wonder how long that would amuse them?  But, I do hope the machine is sturdy because there could be dogs that would figure out the bubbles are coming from the machine and try to get at the source of the bubbles.



(I know.  I always look for weaknesses in these toys.  That’s because I have spent so much money over the years on toys that were destroyed quickly.)



The Dog Brick interactive game

The Dog Brick interactive game

One new category of toys/games for your dog is the kind of game that you are supposed to play with your dog.  Nina Ottoson has created a number of these games, such as the Dog Brick Game.  I chose this one at random as a sample.  These interactive games are supposed to stimulate a dog’s brain AND reinforce his relationship with people.  The games have unique mechanisms that require mental as well as physical dexterity to work through the challenges and reveal the hidden food rewards.  You can set the games to different levels of complexity.  So, if your dog becomes very good at the beginning level, you can make it a little harder for him.



The Dog Brick interactive game requires the dog to first dislodge the removable bones, then to push the sliding covers out of the way so he can access hidden treats in the compartments below. The level of difficulty for the Brick can be varied, depending upon the dog’s experience and his enthusiasm for the game. For example, to simplify the game, don’t initially use the removable bones. This game is tough and hard wearing. It has anti-slip feet on the bottom and can be clean with soap and water or put in the dishwasher. Skill level = medium.


Note: This game is designed for you and your dog to learn and have fun together. The dog should not be left unsupervised with the game.


You can read more about Nina Ottoson and her interactive dog games in this Whole-Dog-Journal article:  Interactive Dog Toys, by Pat Miller.


I really had no idea that there were so many new and fun toys for dogs out now.  I think I need to order a few things for my dogs since I haven’t seen these toys where I buy food.

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