Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets. www.greytinspirations.com

Dog Training!

Can Blue learn to trot?

Can Blue learn to trot?

My dog Blue doesn’t like to trot.  I’ve written about this before.  He uses the pacing gait instead of trotting.  I’ve been at my wit’s end because he has to trot at dog shows.  I finally decided that I would see what an expert could do about the problem.  Yesterday we had an appointment with a dog trainer.  What an interesting experience!

Now Blue has never had any formal training.  My training experiences have been in group obedience classes.  I’ve read a lot about training and applied what I needed to apply to my own dogs but I’ve never used clicker training.  So, I was very interested to see what was going to happen.

We arrived at the trainer’s place.  She boards dogs, too, but she has a separate building for training.  However, it’s not air conditioned and it was very hot.  It’s built a little like a huge garage and she had one side opened so there was air moving around.  It was still hot, especially for a longhaired dog like Blue.

The trainer had another trainer there with her.  They asked me to show them what Blue does so I put his show lead on and moved him around — he paced for them.  Their first thought was that maybe I wasn’t tall enough to move fast enough for Blue (I’m 5’7”) so they had the male trainer move Blue — he still paced.  Next they decided to see how Blue would move on his own so they told me to let go of his lead and let him move freely.  They started tossing toys for him, which he was very happy to chase for them.  He moved from one side of the building to the other, always pacing.

Then they decided to see how he would respond to treats.  HAHAHA  My boy likes treats.  They got some Vienna sausages.  One trainer stood at one end of the building and the other trainer stood at the other end.  They would call him to them and give him treats when he came.  But he always paced.  So then they decided to see if they could start using the clicker to get some trotting behavior.  The male trainer picked up his lead and started moving with him.  Whenever he trotted, even for a second or two, I was supposed to say, “Yes!” and the other trainer would click the clicker so Blue could get a treat.  Well, he did trot 2-3 times, just for a few seconds, but it wasn’t enough for him to figure out why he was getting clicks and treats.

Altogether this went on for about 20 minutes — tossing the toys, letting him run around, then clicking and treating.  By this time Blue had enough.  He was panting and he just stopped.  He said no more.  He ran over behind me and plopped down and wouldn’t get up again.  I don’t blame him, really.  I’m sure he didn’t see the point in what they were trying to do, even if there were treats involved.  That’s why English Setters don’t make the greatest obedience dogs.  They tend to think for themselves.  The last time I took a dog to obedience classes he was bored out of his mind when we were doing the heeling exercises where we practiced walking in circles and stopping.

However, I did sign us up for classes with these trainers.  I think they will help us.  We don’t have to repeat the same things over and over.  I think we’ll have to be more creative to figure out a way to get him to trot.  For one thing, they want me to bring one of my other dogs — one that trots! — to our first class, along with Blue.  Now I don’t know how that’s going to help Blue learn to trot but I think it should be interesting.  I think I’ll take Pearl.  She always has a fit when we leave her behind.  This way she can be part of things.

The trainer said that Blue was very smart.  While we were there a woman was teaching a puppy to ring a bell when she wanted to go outside.  Blue was watching everything they did.  The puppy would ring the bell with her nose, then the owner would click the clicker and give the puppy a treat.  Blue watched that for 10-15 minutes.  When we were leaving we had to go out through the door that had the bell hanging on it.  He used his nose to ring the bell!  It was so cute.  I wish I’d had a treat to give him. It’s amazing how smart dogs are.  We forget that they learn by watching others.

So, we’ll see how we do in our classes.  Can they teach him how to trot?  We’ll see.  Our first class is Thursday night.

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July 15, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bo the Beanie Baby

Bo the Beanie Baby

Bo the Beanie Baby

I guess a lot of us have things that we collect.  I collect English Setter things.  I have figurines, calendars, paintings, prints, a few t-shirts, an umbrella somewhere.  A keychain that I use everyday with not one but TWO ES figure heads on it.  Afterall, you can never have too many beautiful English Setter faces looking at you when you drive, right?  Before English Setters I used to collect horse things — especially racehorse things.  When I was growing up my bedroom was lined with pictures of Secretariat and other great horses.  My brothers had photos of football players and rock bands.  So, I suppose we all identify with things and collect stuff.  It seems to be part of human nature.

I came across a story the other day that made me laugh.  The Ty people — the folks who make Beanie Babies — have created a Beanie Baby of Bo, the Obamas’ White House dog.  Here’s the article from a few weeks ago:

Bo the Obama dog makes Beanie Baby debut

By CARYN ROUSSEAU

Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO —

The presidential popularity of the Obamas’ new puppy Bo is complete. The company that makes Beanie Babies has released a shaggy black and white version of the dog named “Bo” – and he’s selling fast.

The company has previously run into trouble taking inspiration from the Obama family. The company released two dolls resembling the Obama children as part of its Ty Girlz collection but retired the names “Marvelous Malia” and “Sweet Sasha” after Michelle Obama said using her daughters’ names was inappropriate.

The dolls were renamed “Marvelous Mariah” and “Sweet Sydney.”

…Oak Brook-based Ty Inc. introduced the stuffed animal on April 16, two days after Bo the Portuguese Water Dog made his White House debut in a photo session with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha.

“We are very proud of the First Family and wanted to join in celebrating their choice of a family pet,” Ty chief executive officer Ty Warner said in a statement.

The “Bo” doll’s suggested price is $4.99. It auctioned Wednesday on eBay for between $5 and $139.95. Ty said the company will donate a portion of its profits from the “Bo” doll to local animal shelters.

Bo with some Beanie Baby friends.

Bo with some Beanie Baby friends.

Well, I just checked eBay and you can still find Bo for around $6-7 but, there are also collectors selling him for much more.  If you want the deluxe package, for example, that includes Bo and the two Ty Beanie Baby Obama girls (which have been discontinued and renamed), then you will have to pay around $1500.

I’ve never been a Beanie Baby collector myself but I know some people really love them — or see them as a way to make a lot of money.

You can see Bo’s Beanie Baby introduction on the Ty web site.

Bo must have settled into his White House role as First Dog without much trouble.  We haven’t heard much news about him lately.  If he’s creating any problems they’re not making the news.  We’re still wishing him all the best.

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

Old Dogs and Mobility

g_seniorpet_imageYou’ve all heard me mention by old guy, Taylor.  Taylor’s my special boy.  He was the first-born of my very much beloved girl Sami.  He’ll be 13-years-old next month and he’s been doing great.  Never a health problem of any kind.  We’ve been blessed.  But he is slowing down.  This week, for the first time, he had one of those episodes where he couldn’t get up when he tried to stand.  I was right there with him but even when I tried to help him get up he kept sliding back down.  We finally got him on his feet again but it was scary.

Older dogs can start to have their rear legs get weaker on them.  Sometimes the problem is spondylosis.  Or it can be osteoarthritis.  Or it may be degenerative myelopathy. It may simply be that an older dog is losing muscle tone in his rear legs because he doesn’t get as much exercise as he once did.  An older dog may be very healthy, overall, but lack of mobility can cause him to suffer the indignities of old age because he can’t get around very well.  He may need help going outside, for instance.  He may fall in the house.  He may be unsteady when he walks, so he walks less and less which can cause his muscles to lose even more muscle tone.

There are some things you can do to help your older dog combat this weakness.  It helps to have a good diagnosis.  Depending on your dog’s breed or size, you should start getting elder dog check-ups when he’s 7-9 years old.  This will include a thorough blood panel and your vet will be looking for signs that your dog is developing any problems common to older dogs.  If your dog begins to show signs of slowing down or having problems walking you should ask your vet to try to find out why.  If you get a good diagnosis you’ll be able to give your older dog the treatment he needs.

If your older dog is slowing down and your vet doesn’t find anything in particular wrong with him there are still some things you can do to help your dog.  Many people recommend giving older dogs glucosamine-chondroitin tablets to help their joints.  MSM is also recommended.  Products containing shark cartilage are also said to help older dogs with joint problems.  Fish oil, such as salmon oil, and vitamin C, such as Ester C, are also said to help dogs with joint problems.

You should make sure that you keep your dog at a good weight.  If your dog is overweight he’ll be putting unnecessary stress on his joints and causing himself more pain.  Feed a good, balanced diet.  Avoid products that could aggravate arthritis or joint problems.  In humans milk, eggs, pork and fish aggravate arthritis.  Tomatoes are also known to make arthritis pain worse.  You should also make sure that your dog gets some regular exercise, even if it is only a shambling slow walk every day.  If your dog enjoys exercise and is able to do more, then you should try to do more with him.  The more exercise he is able to do, the better for his muscles.

You can also help your older dog keep his footing in the house by putting down extra throw rugs and area rugs, especially if you have hardwood floors.  Anything that helps him get more traction on the floor is good.

There are also some products that have been recommended for elderly dogs.  I don’t often recommend products but these have been used by friends of mine and I will be trying some of them myself for Taylor so I’m going to mention them.  People have suggested Young At Heart, Joint Strong and Dog Gone Pain to me.  They’re all a little expensive but if they do what they say then they’re worth it.

GripTrex_340I know a couple of people who have used dog boots for their older dogs.  These boots have done a great job of allowing their dogs to get better traction and footing with their rear paws so they could walk more steadily — and even run around!  They recommended these boots.  

Finally, one of my close friends swears by acupuncture.  She’s been taking her girls to an acupuncturist for years and her dogs have remained mobile and active well into old age.  In fact, she just lost her dear girl, Violet, at age 15 this week.  My heart goes out to her.  Violet was the grandmother of my dogs Billie and Colin (Blue).

If your older dog is experiencing any of the problems discussed here he may also be having some pain.  You should talk to your vet about what you may need to do for your dog’s joint-related pain.  There are NSAIDS for dogs if your dog is having significant pain or your vet may advise you to give your dog an occasional buffered aspirin for dogs, depending upon the amount of pain that your dog may be dealing with.  As with all of the things we’ve been discussing here, you will have to pay close attention to your dog to see how he’s feeling and whether he’s improving or worsening.

Our old dogs are so very special.  All of us want to keep them with us as long as possible.  By following some of the suggestions here we can help our older dogs live longer and more comfortably.

July 10, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Animals Have Feelings?

bewitched1I’ve been working on some articles today and I’ve noticed a recurring theme.  I’ve twice had the assignment to write on the subject of whether or not dogs have feelings.  Now, believe it or not, this is something that people have not always agreed upon.  In fact, even today there is disagreement.  I’ll give you an example.

When you go home at night and your dog greets you at the door looking guilty as sin, if you’re a smart dog owner you know right away that something has happened, something that your dog thinks you’re not going to like.  How do you know this guilty look?  Well, your dog may hang his head.  He may not want to look at you directly.  He may slink.  He may try to rub against you to get in your good graces.  He may lick your hand.  Or he may do the total opposite. Your dog may be nowhere to be seen.  He may decide that he’s better off not being there when you come in the house.  Some dogs will even bring you a toy or some favorite object to try to be friends again.

Wouldn’t you say that this is evidence that your dog has feelings?  Your dog knows that you’re not going to like what’s happened and he’s feeling regret about it?  Maybe…or maybe not.  It depends who you ask.  As dog owners we usually put a human interpretation on these actions and say that the dog is feeling guilty for what he’s done.  But is it possible that the dog is just covering his bases?  Maybe he does associate some destruction in the house with your negative reaction and he’s trying to appease you.  But is that the same as feeling guilty?  Not necessarily.  He could be just trying to avoid some negative consequences (yelling, spending time in his crate, a lecture, your bad mood).  So, even though we interpret a dog’s look as “guilt” doesn’t mean that’s what he’s feeling in human terms.

In ancient times philosophers were convinced that dogs did not have human feelings or emotions.  A philosopher such as Aristotle, for instance, believed that dogs, like other animals, could feel sensations — if you hurt them they could feel pain — but didn’t believe that they had the same kind of feelings that humans had.  Remember, though, that in the ancient world emotions were not held in the same regard that we hold them today.  People were encouraged to be much more stoic in general.  For animals to have human feelings or for people to have feelings in common with animals would have been very insulting.  Animals were literally and figuratively considered beast-like and humans were discouraged from sharing any of those traits in common.  Instead, reason and more spiritual qualities were highly regarded — traits that philosophers believed animals did not and could not share.

It wasn’t until about the 18th century that philosophers began to consider the possibility that animals had feelings of the same kind that humans had.  Even then, humans were urged to be considerate of an animal’s feelings and welfare only because to be cruel to animals was believed to foster cruelty to other humans in general.  It became a mark of refinement to be kinder to animals, not necessarily an indication that the person believed the animals had feelings or human emotions.

I think most of us today do believe that our animals have feelings that are very close to our own.  Animals today are raised in a much kinder way than they once were.  It’s normal now for cats and dogs to be raised in people’s homes and socialized with people from the time they’re born.  They’re shown a degree of kindness and affection that’s probably beyond what they were shown in times past.  I think it’s possible that animals today are responding by being more affectionate and by showing more emotions than they formerly showed.  That wouldn’t be surprising since they live their lives more closely involved with people that ever before.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting topic.

What are your thoughts?  Do animals have feelings?  Are they like ours or are they an animal version of human feelings?

July 8, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Alien Pets Descend on Roswell

Photo: Meatball tries to untie his shoe before the start of the costume contest.  Credit: Mark Wilson / Associated Press

Photo: Meatball tries to untie his shoe before the start of the costume contest. Credit: Mark Wilson / Associated Press

Dogs from space?  Well, not quite.  But there were dogs in Roswell, New Mexico, this weekend.  They were there for the Roswell UFO Festival.  Specifically, they were there for the Alien Pet Costume Contest.  This is just too cute not to mention:

From the Roswell Daily Record:

Diane and Pete Ibarra’s four dogs – Smeg, Lil Man, Squishy and Binkys – worked as a team to win the contest. The Ibarras, of Roswell, left nothing to chance, even turning a baby carriage into a canine spacecraft.

“I just thought it would be fun,” Diane said of winning.

The dogs – a standard poodle, teacup Chihuahua, teacup shih tzu and teacup Yorkshire terrier, respectively – were dressed as aliens from “Planet Poop-a-lot.”

Diane, who was assisted by her father Tony Duran, said this was the first time she’s entered her beloved companions in the contest. The decision to include them in this year’s UFO Festival came naturally.

“I love them. My pets are my babies,” she said. “I take them wherever I go.”

Second place went to Meatball, a Harley-riding teacup Chihuahua from Arvada, Colo. Dee Dee and Kevin Morris dressed the 13-week-old dog in goggles, sneakers and a cape. Meatball seemed to enjoy the outfit, and the attention.

“He likes dressing up,” Kevin said.

“We start the Harley up and he knows it’s time to get dressed up,” Dee Dee added.

Third-place honors went to Sophie, a Chihuahua from Yukon, Okla. Sophie’s human, Desirae Martinez, dressed her in a “platinum, inter-galactic jumpsuit, fashioned with the utmost precious gems from her planet.”

More than 100 spectators attended the Alien Pet Costume Contest, which is a typical turnout, according to Laurie Rufe, director of RMAC.

Meatball lets out a big yawn while awaiting the start of the 2009 UFO Festival Alien Pet Costume Contest Friday morning at the Roswell Convention Center. Meatball took second place. (Daily Record/Mark Wilson)

Meatball lets out a big yawn while awaiting the start of the 2009 UFO Festival Alien Pet Costume Contest Friday morning at the Roswell Convention Center. Meatball took second place. (Daily Record/Mark Wilson)

If that isn’t the cutest story, I don’t know what is.  It must take some real creativity to come up with a good alien costume for your dog.  I’m not sure what I could put on one of my big dogs.  I think, perhaps, these small dogs have a definite advantage when it comes to looking like an alien.  LOL  Wait a minute.  That didn’t come out sounding the way I intended.  I meant to say that it is easier to make a costume for a small dog.  If you’re trying to use tin foil to make a helmet, for instance, it’s easier if your dog has a tiny little head.  I didn’t mean to suggest that small dogs look more like aliens.  :))

I have to say that one of the funniest things I ever saw in the check-out line at the grocery store was the front page of one of the tabloid magazines.  There was a huge headline that read “ALIENS ARE STEALING OUR PETS!” Right below it was a picture of a cat and, by golly, that cat looked like an alien, with huge, globular eyes and a little nub of a nose.  You could barely tell it was a cat at all.  Well, when you think about it, maybe that’s what happens to all of our missing pets.  Maybe the aliens are taking them.  Or not.  Just a thought.  Maybe they’re all in Roswell.

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

Happy Independence Day!

dogsweaterpixbuddyboyWe’re coming up on the big Independence Day weekend.  For many people that means cookouts, hot dogs, hamburgers — all things dogs love.  It also usually means fireworks.  You know the drill, especially if you have a dog who’s sensitive to loud noises as I do.  My boy Beau becomes a basket case every year at this time.

There are a number of things you can do to help your dog get through the noise from fireworks and the other hazards of a 4th of July celebration:

*It is safer to keep your pet at home during Fourth of July celebrations instead of bringing him to your neighbor’s party. Keep your pet in the house rather than in your yard. He will be a lot happier indoors and not tempted to leap over a fence to find you.

*Dogs can be startled by the loud noise of fireworks.  Once the festivities begin keep your pet in a safe room where he can feel comfortable.  If he is crate-trained put him in his crate covered with a blanket to make him feel secure.

*Block outside sights and sounds by lowering the blinds and turning on the television.  Play soothing music in the background to counteract the cacophony during the “rockets’ red glare.”

*If your pet seems overly anxious, spend some time with your him, speaking soothingly to help them to relax.

*Avoid scraps from the grill. While tempting to our pets, any sudden change to your pet’s diet can cause stomach upset. In addition, certain foods like onions, avocado, grapes and raisins can be toxic.

*Human products can be dangerous to animals.  Avoid spraying your pet with insect repellent and only use special sunscreen that is intended for animal use. Keep your pets away from matches and lighter fluid. They can be extremely irritating to the stomach, lungs and central nervous system if ingested.

*Should your dog get scared, escape and run away, help find him with microchip identification.  Collars and tags can fall off so consider permanent ID with a microchip. Keep contact information current with your recovery service provider.  For more information and to enroll your pet in a 24 hour recovery service visit http://www.akccar.org.

4th-Dog_DTIf your dog is really scared by loud noises you may want to consider asking your vet for something safe to give your dog while fireworks are going off.  I haven’t had to do that for Beau but I do give him some valerian, an herbal remedy, from the drugstore.  It’s often used to help people relax or feel drowsy.  It seems to help Beau.  I have also been told that low doses of melatonin help some dogs.  I have a friend who is trying a D.A.P. diffuser http://www.healthypets.com/dapdogappher.html this year for her German Shepherd.  She has neighbors who enjoy fireworks (she’s also afraid they’re going to burn down her house).  D.A.P. stands for dog appeasing pheromones.  These products work by diffusing pheromones into the air that are supposed to be calming for the the dog.  They’re being used in some animal shelters and places where dogs tend to be anxious.  They have been recommended for dogs who have phobias about fireworks and loud noises.

Remember that if your dog is scared he may act erratically.  If you have an outside door open, even for a moment, he could take off.  It’s best not to leave a frightened dog outside at all when fireworks are going off.  Some dogs will climb fences or escape from backyards when they’re scared.  Make sure that your dog is wearing some kind of good identification this weekend, just in case he does get loose.

***

While we are celebrating the 4th let’s also remember that the United States is home to some wonderful breeds of dogs that originated here.

American Dog Breeds:

An American Foxhound, one of the breeds which originated in the United States.

An American Foxhound, one of the breeds which originated in the United States.

American Foxhound — One of America’s native breeds, the American Foxhound is also one of our rarest. This tall hound sports a close, hard coat that can be any color. The American Foxhound’s origins date back to the early 1700’s in Virginia and Maryland. George Washington is not only the Father of our country but the father of the American Foxhound. As a master breeder he often referenced his hounds in his journals.

American Eskimo Dog — Contrary to popular belief, the American Eskimo Dog is not descended from working sled dogs. The “Eskie,” as it is nicknamed, originated in the Spitz family of dogs, also known as the Nordic breeds. In the past, it was called the American Spitz. During the 19th century, in this country, Eskie’s were most commonly found in communities with German immigrants. Later in that century, the Eskie became a popular dog for use in traveling circuses throughout the U.S. The AKC first registered this breed in 1995.

American Water Spaniel — The American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin. The breed was developed primarily in the Great Lakes region of the United States in the mid 1800s. They were the first breed developed in this country as an all-around hunter that could retrieve from boats. The virtue of this sporting breed — its ability to swiftly, efficiently, and merrily retrieve game — has long been appreciated in the United States. This affectionate and easily trainable sporting breed was first registered with the AKC in 1940.

American Staffordshire Terrier — The American Staffordshire Terrier is considered an “all-American” dog. It has been developed since the early 1800’s and was instrumental in the success of farmers and settlers, and was used for general farm work, hunting wild pigs, bears, and other large game, guarding the homestead, and general companionship. Until the early 19th century, the Bulldog used for bullbaiting in England was more active and longer-legged than the breed as we know it today. It is thought that the cross of this older Bulldog and a game terrier breed created the Staffordshire Terrier. The breed was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1936.

Boston Terrier — The state dog of Massachusetts, this breed is known as the “American gentleman” because of his calm disposition and formal black and white “tuxedo” markings. Developed in Boston, MA as his name suggests, he is a product of the English Bulldog and a white English Terrier. In 1889, a group of fanciers in Boston began showing the early ancestors of today’s Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier was first registered by the AKC in 1893.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever — The state dog of Maryland, this true American breed is thought to have originated from two puppies that were rescued from an English shipwreck in 1807 off the coast of Maryland. In the late 1800s, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was renowned for its ability to retrieve hundreds of waterfowl a day from the icy waters of the Chesapeake. The Chesapeake coat, which is very dense and has an oily texture, allows the dog to easily deal with extreme weather conditions. Its slightly wavy coat sheds profusely in the spring and requires daily brushing. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was first registered with the AKC in 1878.

Plott — The state dog of North Carolina, powerful and well-muscled, the Plott can bring big game such as bear or boar to bay or tree with its determination, endurance and courage. Today Plotts are also used for coonhunting. The breed’s smooth, glossy coat can be any shade of brindle (a streaked or striped pattern of dark hair imposed on a lighter background), solid black or have a saddle or markings. This breed joins five other Coonhound breeds – Black and Tan Coonhounds, Redbone Coonhounds, American English Coonhounds, Bluetick Coonhounds and Treeing Walker Coonhounds – developed for hunting raccoons throughout early American history. Today, AKC holds competitive Coonhound events in which dogs compete in hunts for titles and prizes. Coonhounds are judged on their abilities to strike, run, and tree wild raccoons. In keeping with AKC coonhound regulations, there is no contact permitted between the hounds and the raccoons.

Other American Breeds include the Australian Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel, and Toy Fox Terrier.

July 3, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Embarrassing and ugly

Isn’t it amazing how silly our dogs can make us look sometimes?  I just got home from running some errands (pretty new sheets for my bed) and I was getting out of my car.  The dogs were all standing at the back gate.  They were looking happy and excited.  They were wagging their tails and looking at me like, “Hey!  What’d you get us?”  And there I was getting out of the car, singing along with the Eagles, dancing and making faces at the dogs.  I was just trying to entertain them.  And that’s when I saw my elderly neighbor.  She was looking at me like I had landed from Mars.  There’s really nothing you can say.  Or there was nothing I could think of to say.  I grabbed my bags and scurried indoors.

I blame the dogs.  I think they should have warned me that she was standing there.

In other news I’m very excited because my old vet clinic — the one I used when I first moved here — has a new vet.  That means that I will be able to go back to using them.  That’s a good thing since I huffed off from the vets I had been using for the last few months because they wouldn’t give me a prescription so I could buy Heartgard online.  I had to leave the first vet clinic I was using because their small animal vet left and they were only treating large animals (horses, cows).  But now they have a small animal vet again and all is right with the world.  This vet clinic is less than a mile from my house and they have the greatest staff in the world.  I stopped by briefly yesterday to buy some Frontline (saw a flea this week!) and just met the new vet briefly.  He made a good first impression.

Pabst, this year's winner of the World's Ugliest Dog competition.

Pabst, this year's winner of the World's Ugliest Dog competition.

Catching up on something you may have seen in the news recently, the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest was held last week and — Surprise! — the winner was NOT a Chinese Crested!  It does seem that, year after year, the winner of the Ugliest Dog competition is a Chinese Crested.  I always feel bad for the Crested people because when you see these dogs at dog shows, properly groomed and cared for — the best of the best — they are really beautiful little dogs.  Unfortunately, there seem to be some Cresteds that missed the boat when beauty was being passed out.

But this year’s winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is a Boxer mix named Pabst.

From The Associated Press:

A prominent under-bite, scrunched face and floppy ears are the hallmarks of a winner — of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, that is.

Pabst, a boxer mix rescued from a shelter by Miles Egstad of Citrus Heights, Calif., won the annual contest June 26 at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Northern California.

It was an upset victory for Pabst, who beat former champion Rascal, a pedigreed Chinese crested. Pabst’s owner took home $1,600 in prize money, pet supplies and a modeling contract with House of Dog.

Miss Ellie, a blind 15-year-old Chinese crested hairless, won this year’s pedigree category.

(photos by Noah Berger of The Associated Press)

Miss Ellie, winner in the purebred dog category.

Miss Ellie, winner in the purebred dog category.

Let’s all remember that beauty is only skin deep.  And, hey!  These dogs won prizes and money.  That’s more than most dogs can say.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dogs Aiding Wounded GIs

Dogs Aiding Wounded GIs

June 29, 2009

Associated Press

11dogs_650FORT CARSON, Colo. – Army Specialist Cameron Briggs washes down a cocktail of prescription drugs every day for post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury he suffered when four roadside bombs rocked his Humvee in Iraq.

Tramadol for pain. Midrin for debilitating headaches. Minipress to suppress nightmares. Klonopin to control anger and anxiety.

His next dose of treatment will come from an unlikely source: a purebred Golden Retriever.

A new Veterans Administration program adopts dogs from animal shelters, trains them and matches them with wounded warriors home from Iraq and Afghanistan to help with their recovery.

For Briggs, his dog will be trained to help him find his wallet, cell phone and keys, which he habitually loses because of cognitive memory loss. The dog also will brace Briggs, who has an ankle injury, so he doesn’t have to use a cane or walker in public.

“I call him my little battle buddy,” the 24-year-old Briggs said as he strapped his old camouflage assault vest onto Harper. It’s modified to store biscuits and toys instead of ammunition. “I most definitely think he’ll help me transfer back to civilian life.”

VA hospitals nationwide are integrating service dogs into treatment plans for disabled vets, said Will Baldwin, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the VA in Denver. The program was formed after Freedom Service Dogs, a Denver-based nonprofit, recently partnered with the VA.

Training takes up to nine months and costs $23,000. Service Dogs doesn’t charge its clients but relies on private donations and foundation grants.

“The population is growing exponentially down in Fort Carson with the Wounded Warriors program,” said Freedom Service Dogs’ Diane Vertovec, referring to the Army unit that prepares wounded Soldiers for civilian life. “We feel like a dog can help a vet meet physical challenges but, more importantly, can really, really help them overcome a lot of the mental instability that they’re feeling.”

Service Dogs can train 43 dogs per year – a number that doesn’t come close to meeting demand. There are about 450 Soldiers in the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Fort Carson.

David Watson, a 43-year-old Gulf War veteran who lives in Strasburg, about 40 miles east of Denver, gets out of bed every morning with the help of Summer, a trained yellow lab. Watson’s knees were injured in the war, and daily tasks are painful.

Baldwin suggested Watson get a service dog so he also could take better care of his wife, Trish, a Navy veteran who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

“The relationship is just one big circle. We just keep helping each other out,” said Watson. “If I can’t roll over or get out of bed, (Summer) will have a little toy that she uses and she’ll pull me up. It’s a tug-of-war game for her.”

“Get shoe, Summer!” Watson commands. Summer drops them at his bedside so he can slip them on without bending.

Summer also helps Watson navigate a world that doesn’t always accommodate his disabilities.

“Uneven ground – she will notice that before I do and she will either nudge me over or step in front of me so I don’t trip,” Watson said.

Key, an 8-month-old mixed black Labrador puppy, is being trained to open and close doors, get food from the fridge, alert bark, pick up keys and other items and brace to provide support.

Key’s biggest service might be to “just snug up to a person in bed, which sometimes is very comforting, especially for someone that might have PTSD,” said head trainer Patti Yoensky. “Just knowing that the dog’s there helps the person feel more confident, feel that they’re not alone.”

At Fort Carson, Briggs hopes that Harper will help him adjust. “I don’t like large crowds of people,” Briggs said, alluding to a PTSD symptom. “I get really fidgety and I just hate it. So anytime a stranger comes into your personal bubble, the dog will always stand between you and the stranger.”

Stephanie Baigent, manager of dog training at Service Dogs, believes that Harper can give Briggs something “unconditional that a lot of us can’t give, because no matter what we hear about Cameron or his experiences, we can’t fully understand.

“Harper doesn’t have to understand. He just loves Cameron because he’s Cameron,” she said.

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

Half of Americans consider pets family members

200460080-001The Associated Press and Petside.com published the results of an interesting poll about pets and their owners recently.  The poll focused on how pet owners viewed their pets and asked such questions as whether a pet owner considered a pet as a member of the family, whether they gave their pet a human name, where the pet sleeps, and so on.  All of these questions seemed geared toward determining the nature of the human-pet relationship.

Here are some of the answers:

Which comes closest to the way you feel about how your pet fits into your family?

My Pet is part of my household but not part of my family 13

My pet is part of the family, but not as much as the

people in the household 36

My pet is just as much a part of the family as any other

person in the household 50

What is/are your pet’s name? CODED INTO HUMAN NAMES AND NON-HUMAN

NAMES

Human name(s) 49

(Human names only 25)

(Multiple pets, human & non-human names 24)

Non-human name(s) only 46

Where does your pet sleep?  Does your pet sleep…

In your bed 30

In its own bed or cage 33

Outdoors 13

Have you ever bought an outfit for your pet, or not?

Yes 19

No 81

Please say whether you have ever done any of the following.  How about…

Included your pet in a family portrait 35

Included your pet in your holiday card 33

Taken a pet on vacation with you 42

Taken a pet to work 17

Taken a pet somewhere it isn’t allowed, like a hotel or

store 16

Other questions included whether people thought their pet had their own sense of style (43 percent said yes).  Only 27 percent of people celebrate their pet’s birthday or Gotcha day (surprisingly low, I thought).

I know some people who are very ecstatic about these answers.  They seem to believe that they offer some kind of proof of what wonderful people we are because we do all of these nice, cute things with our pets and, in some cases, treat them more like people than animals.  I’m not so sure.  So, our dogs live in the house and sleep on our beds.  They go on vacation with us.  Half the population can still distinguish between a pet and a human family member.  Maybe I’m crazy or just an insensitive person, but I think that’s a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my dogs!  I really, really love my dogs.  I would do anything for them.  But I like to think that if I were married or had kids that I would have my priorities straight enough to know that I should put human family members first.  I think you can see that with other people in the poll results:

The survey reveals that single people of both genders, but especially single women (66%), were likely to say that their pet is a full member of the family. Only 46 percent of married women shared the same viewpoint. In comparison, 52 percent of single men said so, compared to 43 percent of married men.

I think that when you have a family it often gives you a different perspective on pets, and that’s the way it should be.  Of course, every person I know is crazy about dogs but I think they’re a special group because they’re dog people.  They go to shows, they do agility and obedience training.  They do field work.  They’ve made dogs the center of their lives.  I don’t think they’re typical of most people whether single or married.

So, where would you fall in this poll?  How would you answer these questions?  Is your dog a full-fledged member of the family?

June 29, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

AKC ACE Awards

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope temps are cool where you are.  We had a terrible tragedy in the dog world a few days ago where someone unfortunately left several dogs in their van overnight in a garage.  I’m sure the person thought that they had taken precautions to keep the dogs cool but, very sadly, all but one of the dogs died from heat stroke by the next morning.  I won’t spend time talking about the person.  I just want to say that heat stroke can happen very quickly — much more quickly than most of us realize.  Even if you use air conditioning in your vehicle, your dogs can become overheated if the AC fails.  Accidents can always happen.  Even with the windows down in a vehicle, air may not circulate.  Temperatures can quickly heat up to dangerous levels.  Please take care with your dogs and don’t leave them in your vehicle this time of year, even at night.  Remember that heatstroke from being in an enclosed vehicle is 100 percent preventable.  It’s up to you, so don’t put your dog in that position.

lg_annie_companionIn a little happier news today, the AKC is looking for canine heroes.  Each year the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE)  chooses dogs from all different walks of life to honor for some exemplary act:

Awards for Canine Exellence

The AKC Humane Fund honors the human-canine bond and wishes to express appreciation for the time-honored way in which dogs contribute meaningfully to our lives in so many ways. To this end, we created the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE).

To be recognized, the dog must be AKC-registered or an AKC recognized breed and have performed an exemplary act, large or small, that has significantly benefited a community or individual.

Awards are given in five categories:

Law Enforcement

Search and Rescue

Therapy

Service

Exemplary Companion Dog

The honorees will receive:

A cash reward of $1000

An engraved sterling-silver collar medallion, presented at the AKC/Eukanuba national Championship

Their names engraved on a plaque on permanent display at the American Kennel Club Library in New York City

Click here for nomination forms.

Anyone can nominate a dog. The owner of the dog is permitted to submit the nomination for his/her own dog. All submissions for The AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence for the year 2009 must include the following:

A non-returnable, clear, color photograph of the dog – no scans please.

A 500-word-or-less description of how the dog has demonstrated excellence.

Dog’s call name, registered name if applicable, breed, age and sex.

Owner’s/Nominator’s name(s), address and phone number. E-mail address if available.

Send nominations to:

Ronald N. Rella – ACE Awards 2009

The AKC Humane Fund

260 Madison Avenue, 4th Floor

New York, NY 10016

The deadline for applications is June 30, 2009.

Maybe someone reading here on GreytInspirations will apply and we’ll have an ACE Award winner!

Here are a couple of the 2008 ACE Award winners:

American Kennel Club Awards for Canine Excellence 2008 Recipients

Exemplary Companion

Annie, a Doberman Pinscher

owned by Donna Rock of Lacombe, Louisiana

Annie is an 8-year-old Doberman Pinscher, who has comforted her owner Donna Rock through loss, given her hope, and provides the assistance necessary to help her achieve her goals. Born without arms, Donna originally purchased Annie to be her companion and to train for obedience competition. The two developed such an exceptional bond that Annie became Donna’s service dog, assisting her with everyday activities. Together, they have excelled at the higher levels of obedience competition, where verbal commands are not allowed and the dog must respond to signals. The duo has earned numerous Obedience and Agility titles, including the prestigious Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) and the crown jewel in Agility, the Master Agility Championship (MACH). Their teamwork, skill and performance inspire those at ringside to understand the true purpose of the competition.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Donna lost her home, belongings, and even her place of work. Donna, who is employed by the USDA, was temporarily reassigned to work in Washington, DC. Through it all, Annie was there for her owner, helping her in the subways, on escalators and navigating through large crowds of people. Annie has loyally remained at Donna’s side, giving not just physical, but emotional support as well. Their amazing bond is the key to their success, not just in Obedience and Agility competition, but also in their day-to-day challenges.

Law Enforcement

lg_lex_lawLex, a German Shepherd Dog

owned by Jerome and Rachel Lee of Quitman, Mississippi

Lex, a 7-year-old German Shepherd Dog, is a retired military dog who served in Iraq with young Marine Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee. Cpl. Lee was a renowned dog handler due to his extraordinary ability to work an explosives detection dog and narcotics detection dog simultaneously. Under the skilled guidance of Cpl. Lee, Lex dutifully searched for roadside bombs to keep the roads safe and open for American troops in Iraq. Tragically, Cpl. Lee was killed in a mortar attack in Falluja in early 2007. As he lay bleeding, Lex, although injured himself, was at his partner’s side to comfort him. Their bond was so strong, the loyalty so deep, that medics had to drag Lex away so they could attend to Cpl. Lee. He succumbed a short time later and Lex was reassigned to the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia.

Cpl. Lee’s parents, Jerome and Rachel, who knew about the special relationship that existed between their son and Lex, petitioned to adopt the dog. North Carolina Congressman, Walter Jones, heard about the Lee’s request, and led a successful campaign to retire Lex, so that he could finally have a home with the Lees.

Since his retirement, Lex has been awarded a Commemorative Purple Heart. His desire to serve continues. The Lee’s bring Lex to VA hospitals and retirement homes to offer solace to the veterans who have so honorably served their country.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment