Friday, July 31, 2009

The Game of Bed Mice

My husband started playing "bed mice" with Elli when she was just little. You know, move a hand or a foot under the blankets and get her to chase the "mouse"? She will run when she hears him open the bedroom door and wait to be picked up onto the bed so they can play. She absolutely loves that game.

Last night, however, I discovered a new, unwelcome variation.

At around 3:30 a.m., I was sleeping on my side and dreaming, when I felt like fingers were tapping on my hip. I woke up and didn't feel it, so figured I must have been dreaming. I turned onto my back and thought, "that was weird". A couple of minutes went by, me still awake, and then I felt something SCURRY ACROSS MY HAND!!!!

Now, we have had a mouse in the house recently; we seem to draw one or two brave little explorers every few months or so, probably due in large part to the gap under the in-need-of-replacement garage door. We've been pretty successful rounding them up: me with a catch-and-release program that involves a lot of "EW!"ing and twitching and running for the woodline at just under the speed of light; Nathan with the more pragmatic burial-at-sea (read: toilet) approach. The most recent of interlopers has proven more wily than his predecessors, though, managing to elude, for the better part of a week now, two housecats, two corgis, and a number of D-Con traps laid in strategic locations around the house.

So knowing this, I flung my hand out, jumped up to turn the light on, jammed my emergency glasses on my face, and started frantically searching the bed, the floor beside the bed, down behind the bed, under the bed, etc., but couldn't find anything. Ian, the Head Verminator of the Household, just lay on his bed, giving me a quizzical look, while Elli peered hopefully out of her crate, no doubt waiting for me to free her so she could jump around like a lunatic too; I'm sure it looked like great fun to HER, Mighty Huntress of Bed Mice.

My search never did turn up anything. Ian never bothered to get up and look, and Elli remained in her crate, casting rebukeful glances my way as I turned out the light and wrapped myself mummy-like in the sheets, heat and humidity be damned. Mickey still remains at large, no doubt planning his next daring adventure and growing more brazen by the minute.

I'm considering letting Elli start sleeping on the bed.


Aargh, this dog...

I swear, I would give a leg or a kidney or a first-born to have a crystal ball that would show me what this puppy is going to look like when she grows up. Sometimes, I think she looks really pretty, like in this picture:
Puppy pretty!! Foot, not so much.
Then, at other times, she looks like a complete Zippy-Pinhead, put-a-bag-over-it freak of nature, like in the photo below of Elli with her boneyard. Not that I want to wish her life away or anything, but damn girl! Grow up, would ya?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'll have the meatloaf. No, the shrimp! No, wait...

[WARNING: Long-winded, rambly, and sometimes pointless flow-of-consciousness writing below. It's aimless and ranty in places and probably hella annoying in others. Read at your own risk.]

Have you ever been to one of those restaurants where they present you with the menu equivalent of War and Peace? Where you can get anything from spaghetti and meatballs to liver & onions to quesadillas to prime rib? And then there's the two pages of appetizers, page of desserts, and three pages of beverages in addition to the five or six pages of entrees.

I hate those places. Making these life-or-death kind of decisions isn't easy for me. What if I order the quesadilla but then see the prime rib the lady at the next table ordered and want that instead? Do I save room for dessert or add that Caesar salad to my steak dinner? Do I get an appetizer sampler and eschew the entree? It's all very stressful. Give me a restaurant that serves one nationality of food, or has a short, one-page rundown of the evenings offerings any day.

You'd think that deciding what to feed my dogs would be easier. But I'm finding that's not really the case. I've been giving the matter a lot of thought recently, doing a lot of research, and trying to decide which of the "absolute bestest of the best" claims out there to pay attention to. Feeding raw is alternately the best, most natural thing ever, or a terribly dangerous cat-and-mouse game played with deadly bacteria, depending on what sites you read and who you listen to. Kibble A is proclaimed over Kibble B -- unless you go to someone else's post out of the 3,291,845,921,396 on the topic, wherein Kibble B's shining virtues are touted. Feed kibble but top-dress. Never feed kibble and raw combined. Give bones, they're great! Don't give bones, your dog will get an intestinal blockage! The kibble kompanies have invested millions of dollars in canine nutrition and are the foremost authorities on the subject. No, wait -- the kibble kompanies are a right-wing conspiracy out to make profit and kill your dogs through the use of chicken lips and cow tails and dangerous chemicals.

It seems that, no matter where I look, everyone has an opinion on the topic, and some attach a great deal of emotion to their personal choice. Others are very scientific in approach. Horror stories abound regarding every diet, every feeding method, as do claims of drastically increased vitality and overall health. Vets say feed raw. Vets say don't feed raw. It's healthy, it's not healthy.

Gah! It's exhausting.

So to spare my sanity (what's left of it) and come to some decision that I can live with, I guess I'm going to let my gut be my guide here. Which I guess makes some sense. I mean, guts are kind of food experts, right?

*ahem*. Anyway. Until now, I've been feeding kibble (Wysong Optimal Performance or Taste of the Wild, to be precise). I've been mixing that kibble with some yogurt or vegetables, the occasional fruits or eggs, a little raw beef or cooked chicken here and there. The dogs have a steady supply of bones which they chew fairly religiously, and they get string cheese, carrots, apples, and/or hot dogs as training treats.

But I sort of feel like I want my dogs to have a little more variety than that. Hence all of the Doggy Diets Daily reading. I've been reading about raw feeding -- the rationale, the frozen vs. fresh debate, the various sources for quality meat that doesn't cost a right arm and a leg. I've paid particular attention to sites that give a sample menu, since that's what is most useful to me and my non-biology-degree-possessing self. General consensus points to a preponderance of raw meaty bones (RMBs) with occasional veggie slush, organ meat, etc. Chicken backs, chicken thighs, turkey necks, pork necks, ribs, etc.

Many people have had wonderful success feeding this type of raw diet to their dogs. I'm certainly not going to argue with their results. And since I do understand basic shit like washing my hands and the counter, utensils, etc. after handling raw meat, I'm not terribly paranoid about bacteria. I would worry a little about the dogs consuming bigger sections of bone than they can handle and ending up with a blockage, but neither of my dogs are gulpers. They chew fairly thoroughly and take their time with their food. Vastly different from the vacumm as soon as possible mantra of the retrievers I grew up with. ("It's edible! It's all edible!! Always assume it's edible! You can throw it up later if it turns out not to be!") So it would be a small risk with my corgis. There's a local butcher known for quality meat that I'm sure would be a good food source, or a number of other sources listed in New England that could work as suppliers.

But I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to go with this kind of diet. It won't work for me. Why? Because it Grosses. Me. The hell. Out!!

I know, I know: dogs are not people, people are not dogs, the same aesthetics don't apply, yada yada yada. I know! But my sadly human brain just will NOT tell my hand to plop a cold, slimy, bone-in chicken thigh in my dogs' bowls for them to chow down on. I'm sure it has great nutritional value for them. I'm even moderately sure they'd love it. I just can't do it.

There's also the travelling and the time element involved. I'm not always able to get hotel rooms with refrigerators when I travel to shows, and my little cooler is just not up to a five-day show circuit. Mornings are already a blur as I try to get everyone tended to, lunch made, phone/keys/purse in hand, coffeecoffeeCOFFEE, and - oh yeah! -- I should probably put some clothes on before I go out the door. If that's not enough crazy, my second job requires me to work three evenings a week, which means the hubby gets to feed the dogs on those nights, and I don't even have to imagine the "Oh hells no!" that's going to come out of him about the time I tell him to toss a neck and a liver in each bowl. It's not going to happen.

And THEN there's the supplements that are presumably already incorporated into premium kibble but are not present in such abundance in raw meats. Did I mention the no-biology-degree thing? How about the no-nutrition-degree thing? And BOY is that "D" in chemistry coming back to haunt me. I majored in History, people. Medieval history. Also known as a Bachelors in "Would you like fries with that?" I am in no way clever or, if I'm honest, dedicated enough to figure out what to supplement when and by how much. So, yeah. Not going to happen.

But I DO believe that a diet of straight kibble is not nutritionally sound nor very palatable or exciting. I mean sure, I could probably survive on a diet of cereal or granola bars, but I sure as hell don't want to. And I'm sure my corgis don't want to eat two meals of kibble day in and day out for however long I'm graced with them. So, here's my compromise:

Breakfast: Kibble (either their current Taste of the Wild or another high-quality food that I may try that they do well on)
Training treats: cooked chicken strips, carrot or apple slices, string cheese, venison strips.
Dinner: Alternating meals that include, at various times: raw beef, chicken that's a least slightly cooked, liver, occasional fish, eggs with shells ground in, yogurt, cottage cheese, veggie slurry, brown rice, and anything else that I happen to have in the house that is not harmful to dogs and not empty junk calories. No kibble mixed in.
Weekly: a new marrow bone with some meat left on to: a) give them the nutrients in the meat and the marrow; and b) keep their interest in chewing fresh so the teeth stay nice and clean.

I'm sure this "diet" isn't going to make any articles or be a sterling example of canine nutrition. It won't have a fancy name or be attached to any sort of lifestyle or political outlook. It won't win me any Breeder of the Year certificates or make me look like any sort of expert.

But my gut is okay with it. And hopefully the corgis' guts will be too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer finally brings the heat -- Elli's, that is

I've thought for the last week or so that Elli must be coming into her first season, as Ian's interest in her hindquarters has increased markedly. Sure enough, last night began the bleeding portion of the festivities. Though I've always lived around dogs, we never had any intact females, so this is also a first for me. Since I never did get around to ordering any "bitches britches," I'll be fast depleting the rag bag.

And since Mother Nature can never be convenient about these things, it was of course on the eve of my 16-hour workday, meaning it will be solely up to my husband to be responsible for clean-up and to keep an eye on both Ian and Elli to make sure Ian isn't getting TOO friendly with his sister. (We do NOT live on North Haven, after all.) Is it wrong to admit I was a little amused by the whiff of panic coming off of him?

I do have some questions I'll need answered though, namely: 1) How long does the heat cycle last? 2) When during the cycle is the bitch actually fertile? 3) Does the bleeding last the entire cycle or does it taper off before the fertile time?

Oh! And 4) Is my husband likely to survive the experience?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Co-Worker Strikes Again

I spent time this past weekend clearing off some bookshelves, and in the process decided to unload the backlog of Dog Fancy and AKC Gazette magazines that I had been accumulating. A lot of folks here at work will bring in unwanted books, magazines and ephemera to share with others, and that's what I did with the fairly substantial stack I had going.

Now, back in April, I went on a little blog rant about a certain co-worker with whom I have an ongoing failure to communicate. And when I say "failure," I'm talking about Chernobyl levels of failure here. So the following exchange in the ongoing saga should really come as no surprise to me.

Co-worker: "I looked at some of your Dog Fancy magazines."

me: "Oh?"

Co-worker: "What is up with all the giant pitbulls?"

me: "Huh?"

Co-worker: "There were all these ads with really big, mean-looking pitbulls!"

me: setting down my tuna sandwich and taking a swig of my iced tea "Well, first of all, there really isn't any such thing as a "Pitbull" breed. Usually when people refer to Pitbulls, they're talking about American Staffordshire Terriers, or some mix thereof. Good breeders of Am-Staffs have some lovely dogs with beautiful temperaments. Plus, the ads you generally see in the back of Dog Fancy aren't always from the people or kennels you would necessarily want to buy a dog from. It's like with any other advertisement: take it as a jumping off point, but always do your homework to make sure you're working with an ethical, health-and-temperament focused breeder."

Co-worker, all agitated: "I sure wouldn't be buying a dog from Dog Fancy!"

me, eye starting to twitch: "The magazine just sells ad space; anyone with money can take out an ad. It's just like seeing an ad in a newspaper or Uncle Henry's; you're still required to use your brain to figure out if what's being sold is something you would want to buy."

Co-worker: "I got MY dog from an Uncle Henry's ad! Someone in Waterville had a Standard Poodle and a Golden Retriever that they bred together, and my puppy is the best dog in the world." [actual quote; I shit you not]

me: *twitch* "Well, if that's what you wanted then I'm happy it worked out for you."

Co-worker: "She was a good breeder! She even took a puppy back when someone who bought one decided it was too much work with two small children in the house."

me: *twitch twitch* "Actually, any reputable breeder is not only willing to do that, but will require that the puppy be returned to them as opposed to being taken to a shelter or given to any Tom, Dick or Harry in the neighborhood. Although it might not have been the best idea to place a rambuctious puppy into that environment if they weren't equipped to deal with all that a puppy entails."

Co-worker, looking smug: "Oh, she didn't know about the kids."

me: *twitch* *twitch twitch* "I don't suppose she, you know, did any health tests or anything before she decided to breed these two dogs, did she?" (knowing bloody full well what the answer was going to be)

Co-worker: "Oh yeah, she took them to the vet and all their shots were up to date, and the puppies had their shots and got wormed and everything."

me: "That's standard health maintenance for any pet. I'm talking about OFA-ing hips, testing for things like Von Willebrands and other diseases that Poodles and Goldens are predisposed to, CERF-ing the eyes, etc.

Co-worker: *blank stare*

Me: "Yeah, I didn't think so."

Co-worker: "Bad hips and stuff are only in show dogs. Mixed breeds are healthy."

me: "Actually, 'hybrid vigor' is more or less a myth. If you have a Golden with bad hips, or eyes, or any number of genetic disorders, and a Poodle with the same, then the offspring of said Poodle and said Golden have just as much chance of having problems as any other offspring produced by those two dogs."

Co-worker, getting huffy: "Well I'm certainly not going to go out and buy a Pitbull!!"

Me: *twitchtwitchtwitchtwitchtwitch* "Um... good?"

Co-worker, walking off: "And I wouldn't buy a dog from Dog Fancy either!"

Me: *thunks head on desk*

Kudos for doing the right thing

My hat is off to Allyson Siegel of Charlotte, NC. After hearing that a 5-legged puppy belonging to Calvin Owensby was to be sold to the proprietor of a Cony Island Freak Show, Allyson ponied up $4,000 of her own money to purchase the terrier/chihuahua mix and save her from that fate. Sometimes people do the right thing, just because it's right.

And a pox upon the man who decided it was okay to sell her to that freak show in the first place "because he needed the money."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sport of Choice

Holly, Katrin and Julie have all answered this question:

"What got you into your sport of choice...why that one, why not another type of dog sport? What else have you tried, but don't care for? What haven't you tried but would like to?"

I figured I'd chime in as well.

I guess my first sport of choice would be Obedience, as I practically grew up next to an obedience ring. My mom competed with her Golden Retrievers through most of my childhood. I got my first dog, a Labrador Retriever, just after I graduated college. Although I had long been a spectator, it soon became very evident that some things can only be learned by doing. I think I suffered every embarrassment possible in the ring at the hands of my own dog, culminating in one memorable trip to Canada: I happened to be going in the Novice ring at the same time my mom was going into the Open ring with her Golden. When we were on the Heel Free exercise, Tara saw my mom throw the dumbbell for her Retrieve. Tara apparently decided that "The Gran" was having way more fun than we were; she ran out of my ring and into mom's, and retrieved the dumbbell before mom could send her Golden to get it. Tara never did get her CD, but it was certainly a learning experience, and I've applied those lessons well since getting my first Cardi. Ian earned his CD in four trials (his one NQ was my fault, not his), with two First placements and a High In Trial along the way. We're this close to starting Open competition.

I've also come to quite enjoy Conformation. Even though politics do sometimes come into play, and I don't always understand where the judge could possibly be coming from, it is still a thrill to win, and I imagine it will be even more so the first time I do it with a dog I've bred myself.

Agility is another activity Ian has trained in, and we both enjoy it. No titles to date, but I haven't been too serious about the training yet as we've been doing so many other things. Elli will be a whirlwind in the agility ring and I can't wait until she's old enough to start training. I better improve MY skills in that arena before then, though!

I took Ian to one herding clinic and put him on ducks, and it was very exciting to watch that instinct kick in. Without any instruction or training at all he was trying to gather them up and fetch them to the instructor and me on the other end of the pen. I think he could be very good at it with some training, and don't think he would be intimidated by sheep, as he was quite interested in them. I, on the other hand, am a different story. I have no livestock knowledge or sense whatsoever, and really don't have an interest in that area, so I don't see myself doing a lot with herding.

I played at flyball back in the day with Tara, but have not tried that with the corgis. Though they might make a good "height dog," I'm not sure I want to put that kind of stress on their shoulders and long spines.

My mom also did tracking trials with her dogs, and I would like to try that at some point. I mean, the corgis noses are almost on the ground anyway! If only this working-for-a-living-thing wasn't crimping my style...

How about the rest of you?

Fido come! Fido sit! Fido... text?

Not being a certified gadget-phile like a number of my friends, I have not purchased (nor examined, nor picked up, nor used, nor really even given much of a thought to) the iPhone. Sure, it looks cool on the commercials, but at the price they're asking the damn thing better do more than make phone calls and text. It better do the macarena, clean my bathroom, and make me breakfast in the morning. It --

Wait, what? It can train my dog?

Okay, not exactly, but:
From "Designed in the UK and now launched world-wide, the 'Dog Remote' claims to help users train all types of dog to obey six simple commands like 'sit', 'lie down' and 'come', as well as offering useful training tips. Using 'hound-friendly sounds', inaudible to the human ear, the Dog Remote allows you to adjust frequency settings for the training to exactly respond to your dog's sensitive hearing-levels. The developers say: 'With Dog Remote, your pup will learn to respond correctly to different sound patterns that mean; sit, stay, come here, lie down, fetch and go to bed'. 'Dog Remote's comprehensive iPhone training-guide takes you through the easy steps that will teach your dog to respond firstly to your verbal and hand signals, then to transfer these skills to respond to the iPhone app.'"

Now call me crazy, but does anyone else think this is, at best, completely useless and, at worst, a Really Bad Idea?

First of all, you still have to, you know, TRAIN the dog to sit, down, come etc. The phone doesn't do that (nor cook your breakfast, sadly), so you're left to your own devices (no pun intended) to do that part, using whatever method you would normally use -- treats, clickers, abject begging, what-have-you.

[Incidently, I've heard that there is also a Clicker app for the iPhone. Gee, let me think about this: Buy a several-hundred dollar phone that will NOT be the better for interacting with the cheese and chicken in my pocket, or pay $1.29 for a plastic clicker... ]

So, yeah; useless for training the dog. Ah, but once Fido IS trained, you can teach him to correlate a particular audible-only-to-dogs sound with a command, such as down. Um... cool? I guess? But why? What's the purpose? If Fido already knows the word "Down," why wouldn't you just, you know, tell him "Down?" I mean, if he can hear the phone, he can also hear you speak, right? Doesn't it make much more sense to teach Fido that a hand signal correlates to a command, so that he will be able to respond in a noisy situation when your command might get lost in the cacophony?

If pressed, I suppose I could make a case for using the phone for performing tricks, when you want to wow the audience with a dog who does these behaviors (seemingly) without being cued. But it seems like an awfully cumbersome -- and expensive -- way to go about it. And I'm not sure fumbling around in your pockets is really preferable to giving Fido a subtle physical cue. Dogs are already amazingly tuned-in to body language. And what about Obedience and other performance events? Are the stewards going to have to frisk the handlers before they enter the ring to make sure they're not packing an iPhone? Gives whole new meaning to "ring tone", eh?

As for the Really Bad Idea part, what if someone else uses the "Come" command tone on THEIR phone while they're, say, walking down the sidewalk across a busy street? If your dog is trained to come to that tone, and he's more like a Golden Retriever in that he'll whore himself out for the only-slightly-cheese-flavored lint in a complete stranger's pocket, and less like my velcro corgis who sit outside the closed bathroom door and whine as though banished to Siberia, then training to that sound could conceivably get him killed. The chances of that happening might be really small, but with so little benefit, why take the chance at all?

Besides, your kids are already clamoring for a cell phone. Do you really want your DOG begging for one too? "*pant pant pant* but Moooooooommm, Fifi down the street has one! *pant pant pant* I need to be able to text my friends!! You don't me to be the omega at the dog park, do you? *pant pant*"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Celtic Celebration

I forgot to take my camera! Aargh!! *facepalm*

On Saturday, I took the dogs to the Celtic Celebration in Belfast, Maine, to participate in their Celtic dog breeds demonstration. Although the morning was a soggy one, the location was beautiful, right on the waterfront. When we arrived, "FERG 'N SONS" were playing for the small crowd who were staying dry under the big tent. They are a terrific bagpipe and drum trio from Unity, Maine, consisting of Kathy Van Deventer and her two sons, Josef and Joel. Although I loved the music, Elli and Ian weren't too sure about it; the bag pipes were a little loud for those huge ears. Joy's Collie, Alice, "sang" along with the music. Must be the Scots in her. The Welsh apparently have no use for musical instruments that sound like geese being slaughtered. Or maybe having an orgasm.

After the music ended, the dogs started gathering for the demo. Representing the Celts were an Irish Wolfhound, three Collies, three Pembroke Welsh Corgis, a West Highland White Terrier (sporting a jaunty kilt and balmoral), three Bearded Collies, a Border Collie, two Golden Retrievers, and my two Cardigan Welsh Corgis. Of course, the British can never resist interfering with the Celts: one Jack Russell Terrier came for the demo as well.

Dogs and people were all well-behaved and had a good time. Lots of folks came over to the grooming table to greet the Cardis and ask questions. Elli greeted everyone with a customary face-kiss and demonstrated a complete lack of anything whatsoever resembling manners. Ian was his usual gentlemanly self, accepting the attention with dignity and grace. Needless to say, only HE went up on stage with me!

I'd love to share with you all the details of my 2-minute talk on the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, but unfortunately the pants-shitting terror engendered by any form of public speaking gave me instant PTSD and rendered me an amnesiac. I think I might have said something about them proving they are not small dogs, just big dogs with no legs, everytime they run into you, and maybe mentioned that they need a job to do or they'll make up their own -- interior decorating and wood craving being two of the most popular -- but it's mostly a blur. Some of the questions asked included: how long do they live, how much does he weigh, why are their legs so short, etc. We were also able to demonstrate side-by-side the differences between a Cardi and a Pem.

In addition to musical performances and other demonstrations, the festival offered food and craft vendors. (Though I am a little perplexed by the prominently placed "Thai Food" cart.) It was a great time, and I hope to go next year. Maybe by then I can speak in front of people without feeling and sounding like a complete head case.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yes, Citizens of Rockport, #@$% actually does happen

Ever wonder what goes on at those quaint, New England, small-town town meetings? Budget discussion? Road repairs? Whether to add a traffic light at the intersection of Park and Main? Not exactly. On Monday night, the town of Rockport, Maine devoted considerable time to a heated discussion about... *drumroll please*... dog poop.

as reports:
"The matter of dog waste surfaced as public works crews battled over the winter to dispose of it. Beveridge has suggested the town establish a "carry-in, carry-out" policy. On May 27, Beveridge informed Town Manager Robert Peabody in a descriptive memo titled "Sticky Issue" that it would make more sense to take the burden of dog feces removal off the taxpayer and put it where it belongs, 'on the dog owner.'"

Now, let me just say that I am ALL about responsible dog ownership. I always clean up after my dogs, I keep them leashed when in public (yes, even at the beach, where other not-so-civic-minded individuals ignore the sign and let their dogs run loose), and I don't turn them out of doors to roam the neighborhood like all the OTHER folks on my cul-de-sac. I've even picked up after other people's dogs when they've left evidence of their passing along the Rockland boardwalk. So I'm in no way suggesting that dog owners should abdicate all responsibility for things that fall off of or out of their dogs. And I'm delighted that a municipality has seen fit (until now, anyway) to provide a receptacle for the sole purpose of encouraging folks to do the right thing by cleaning up after their pets.


If the town removes the waste receptacles, what exactly do they think the average, responsible dog owner is going to do? They're going to do one of two things:

1) bag the waste and throw it in the nearest trash receptacle. Makes sense to me. No mess on the ground to be stepped in, it's out of sight, out of mind. But according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, dog waste "should be transported, via a department-licensed category on a nonhazardous waste transporter to a special waste disposal facility, such as Waste Management in Norridgewock." This could be accomplished if the waste remains in its own designated receptacle, but not if it becomes intermingled with all the other trash collected in municipal cans;

2) leave it where it is. I'd like to think that the folks who normally scoop wouldn't opt for this one, but if they are suddenly faced with no place to put the waste once it's scooped, I fear it's the option most will take.

The town thinks it will solve that dilemma by implementing a "carry in, carry out" policy, such as the state parks have for picnickers. Really? Well, it was actually the dog who carried it in, but I'm pretty sure HE isn't going to carry it back out. How exactly is that supposed to work? Your dog leaves his calling card. You take out your baggy and pick it up and... uh oh. You've still got to run to the bank and drop off that envelope at the post office, and you really should pick up some fresh vegetables at the market to go with the pork chops tonight... Gee, I guess you'll just have to carry your little bag o'joy with you. I mean, THAT'LL be a big hit with the other patrons, eh?

Yeah, probably not. Soooooooooo, you pick it up and... put it in your car? Your locked, sealed, really WARM car? Um, no. Just... no. How's that "carry in, carry out" policy working for ya, Rockport?

If the town doesn't want to deal with hauling the waste around in big buckets and making special arrangements to dispose of it, how about installing some industrial-size doggy dooley systems in the areas that currently have waste containers? Then the Public Works department would just need to check on the systems and add enzymes periodically, rather than transporting big ole buckets-o-crap.

What's that? That would cost money? You don't think the taxpayers should have to pay for those?

Well, guess what: I pay taxes. And you know what I hate paying for? Other people's kids to go to school. No, seriously. I don't have kids. I don't want kids. I don't want to pay for OTHER people's kids. But that's what I'm doing every year when I pay my property taxes, and I don't hear anyone suggesting that we should "take the burden of education off the taxpayer and put it where it belongs, 'on the child owner.'" We all pay for things with our taxes that we would prefer not to spend money on, because it's in the best interests of the public.

Isn't it also in the best interests of the public to make it possible for pet owners to continue to act responsibly?

Monday, July 13, 2009

My GPS flunked Geography 101

So, if you were headed to Essex Junction, Vermont from Warren, Maine, would you take I-95 into Massachusetts? No? You wouldn't? My Magellan GPS unit would. >:-/

I know, I know -- never blindly follow the GPS. Why? Because they're evil. Nevermind the Terminator movies. Forget the Matrix. Don't give the Cybermen of Doctor Who fame another thought. The machines that will bring about the downfall of Man are sitting on our dashboards and bobbing along, seemingly innocuous, in the backpacks of our Boy Scouts. Seriously. Remember this when we're all driving like lemmings off of high cliffs into oceans and ravines, rambling down the dirt roads of in-breeder-laden enclaves in Washington County, or being shunted into the Boston -- Boston MASSACHUSETTS, people!! -- late afternoon traffic. Evil, I tell you.

And it's not bad enough that I'M apparently functionally retarded. My mother -- who has been to a resort in Vermont that is within 40 MILES of Essex Junction, mind you -- waits until we pass a sign that says "Boston....23 Miles" before saying, "You know, this isn't how your father and I went to Vermont. We never came into Massachusetts. We were never on the Interstate at all."


Way to speak up there, Mom. [Legal disclaimer: Let's assume, for purposes of this post, that I DON'T become a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, regressed-to-adolescence head-case whenever my poor mother says anything that could even remotely be construed as criticism. Because... yeah. But anyway...]

Fortunately, I DID have the presence of mind to at least throw the (woefully unglanced-at) atlas into the car while I was packing, so I had her take a look at it, as SURELY Essex Junction must be right on the border of Vermont and Massachusetts. I mean, modern technology must of course be vastly superior to my mother's memories of a trip she took twenty years ago.;_ylc=X3oDMTExNmIycG51BF9TAzI3MTYxNDkEc2VjA2ZwLWJ1dHRvbgRzbGsDbGluaw--#mvt=m&lat=43.871769&lon=-72.451218&zoom=9&q1=vermont

Please note where Essex Junction is. Then please also note where the Vermont-Massachusetts border is. One thing will be immediately clear to those of you who, unlike me, bother to look at the map: these two places are not remotely close to one another.

So, lesson learned the hard way: When driving to a state you've never been to, it might be a good idea to at least GLANCE at the map before blithely hopping into the car and setting forth. The gas tank will appreciate it, as will the dogs in the crates, and their bladders and rumbling bellies. Do not, under any circumstance, assume that your GPS unit knows what it's talking about, or that it in any way has your best interests at heart. It doesn't. It wants you to die a horrible, fiery death as it plummets you into a box canyon or whisks you into the 43,642 mile-per-hour cluster-#%&$ free-for-all that is driving in Boston.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Puppy Evaluation continued: Elli at 8 1/2 months

Yesterday, the sun actually came out for about 4.5 seconds! Not one to waste an opportunity, I whipped out the grooming table and grabbed the camera for another photo op. Elli was less than impressed, but the endeavor DID involve cheese, so she forebore.

Front at 8 1/2 months:

For comparison, here's her front at 6 months:

Although her rib cage is still not shaped quite correctly, her chest HAS dropped some and she looks a little less like a tube. The shape of the white on her chest doesn't do her any favors -- she looks lopsided, like one shoulder sticks out further than the other.

Rear at 8 1/2 months:

...and at 6 months:

I can see where her haunches are more muscled, but otherwise her rear is pretty comparable.

Show side at 8 1/2 months:

And at 6 months:

I DEFINITELY see a difference here. She looks as though she's gained some length, the sternum comes out further in front, the chest has dropped some, and her neck has filled out nicely. If only she hadn't stuck her tongue out just then...

Right side at 8 1/2 months:

And 6 months:
MUCH better!! Straighter topline, better silhouette, more substance, just overall vast improvement.

Overall, I'm feeling much better about what I'm seeing. However, what the photo doesn't show is that Elli is still quite small. Balanced, but small. Her littermate is easily half again as big. I'm also not sure about her movement. She looks good going, but in front it looks like she's throwing a leg to the outside as she moves, probably a result of her elbows being quite close in.

I think where I'm coming down is that she is probably a decent foundation to build on (assuming she passes her health tests, natch). She'll need a stud with more bone and a tip-top front. And preferably a good tailset, as Elli's is a little high. Does anyone have any recommendations for a blue merle stud answering that description?

Comments? Am I way off-base?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grooming or "Grooming"?

Okay, so, here is where I possibly stir some shit (or, you know, would stir some shit if anyone were actually reading this blog, which it doesn't appear they are. But hey, I've never minded talking to myself, so...

I have heard some Cardigan Welsh Corgi folks refer to "grooming fluffies" to take into the show ring. "Fluffies" are Cardis that carry a longer-than-desirable coat. What is desirable? Well, let's take a look at the AKC Standard, as written by the CWCCA:

"Medium length but dense as it is double."

All right class, everyone take out your rulers and find where it's marked "medium". What? Your ruler doesn't say that? It just has a bunch of numbers? Huh. Well, what would you guess is medium, then? Six inches is the midway mark on your typical 12-inch ruler. Go ahead: try to show a Cardi with a 6-inch long coat. (I wanna watch.) So what is "medium length" then? An inch? Two inches? Three? Well, since all the standard says is "medium", I guess that's up to the judge.

"Outer hairs slightly harsh in texture; never wiry, curly or silky. Lies relatively smooth and is weather resistant. The insulating undercoat is short, soft and thick. A correct coat has short hair on ears, head, the legs; medium hair on body; and slightly longer, thicker hair in ruff, on the backs of the thighs to form "pants," and on the underside of the tail."

Ah, okay; so we have "short", "medium" and "slightly longer" hair. That clears it right up!

"The coat should not be so exaggerated as to appear fluffy."

*gasp* They said the F-word! So, "fluffy" is an exaggerated coat. One that is... not short. Or medium. When you say exaggerated, how much is that? You can't say, exactly? Hey, I know! It's like porn: you can't really describe it, but you know it when you see it.

So what's the big deal? If the coat is too long, why not cut it and make it the right length before you go into the ring?

"Trimming is not allowed except to tidy feet and, if desired, remove whiskers."

Oh!!!!!! So when you say you're going to groom your fluffy for the show ring, you mean you're just going to give it a bath and brush it out and tidy its feet and hope the judge doesn't take out his ruler and measure the hair, which extends somewhat past "medium" on the ruler. Right?

No? Why not?

"A distinctly long or fluffy coat is an extremely serious fault."

Oh wow dude. Bummer. So, how exactly were you going to "groom" your fluffy?

But your fluffy has the best reach-and-drive you've seen in 20 years. His front is to die for, his earset is perfection, his tailset makes you weep tears of joy and gives fairies their wings. He's smart as a whip, and his lovely temperament charms everyone who meets him. His topline is so awesome that when the sun hits it, you see a little sparkle and hear that little "ting". With all this, why should something so superfluous as the length of his hair and those little whispies on his perfectly-set ears keep him out of the show ring? Why can't you just whip out the shears and "tidy" the coat a little so it's the right length?

Um, because the Standard says so: "Trimming is not allowed except to tidy feet and, if desired, remove whiskers."

And yet, it seems to be fairly commonly known and accepted that some fluffies are "groomed" and shown. I mean, really -- should an otherwise sound, typey dog be kept out of the show ring just because of a longer-than-desired coat? Does the existence of fluffies in a line signal the end of life on earth as we know it? Does it somehow break one of the biblical seals and thereby usher in the apocalypse? Of course not. But the Standard is explicit: "Trimming is not allowed except to tidy feet and, if desired, remove whiskers... A distinctly long or fluffy coat is an extremely serious fault."

So: If you "groom" your (otherwise) perfect Cardi and take him into the show ring, aren't you...