Thursday, November 23, 2006

The National!

The Great Dane National Specialty. All Great Danes, All the time for 8 days.

Heaven!! :-)

My very favorite part of this is spending an entire week with hundreds of other people who all think that living with giant dogs is perfectly normal. You never once hear witticisms like "Gotta saddle for that thing?"

It's part dog show, part exhibition, part pomp & pageantry, part reunion (seeing friends from other parts of the country that you only see at the National).

It's fun and sometimes breathtaking and sometimes sad and often hilarious and very tiring!

Our kids did GREAT!!
They all made the cut or placed in their classes - but more importantly they handled the whole thing very well. This was by far the longest trip any of them have made and they all traveled well and seemed to enjoy the whole experience. We were on the 9th floor in our hotel so there were a lot of elevator rides every day and other new things. They became quite accustomed to hearing someone shriek when the elevator doors opened - you learn quickly to not let the dog charge out of the elevator when the doors open or you'll give the housekeeping staff heart attacks.

And they ATE!! I feed a raw diet to my dogs - I'll talk about this more in a future post. But just before we left for the National, Gus and his brother Teddy both went through a growth spurt and were looking a little thin. Not unhealthy, but you obviously want your dogs looking their best for something like your National. They were eating well so I fed them a LOT and by the end of the week they'd each put on a few pounds and looked great. This is one of the things I love about a raw diet - what goes in the dog, stays in the dog. The boys were eating probably 5 or 6 lbs of meat a day EACH and yet when it came time to walk them, you could pick up the poop with one hand in a baggie easily.

Here are some photos from the National - these were taken by our dear friends Chantel & Stacey Johnson, Mary Ann Land or Zeli Schulte.

This was the logo and theme for the 2006 National. I love this logo.

This is Ronnie with our girl Topper:

Ronnie and Topper's brother Gus - he's always wagging his tail. Gus, that is - not Ronnie!

Ronnie with their brother Teddy. It may look like Teddy is getting a lecture, but Ronnie is just getting him to focus his attention.

Here are a couple more pictures of Our Boy Teddy:

Here's their brother Keeper with Chantel - he placed third in the huge 12-15 month Futurity class!

The classes at the National can be QUITE large:

Keeping the dogs cool - the square cloths are chamois that when soaked in cold water will stay cold for a long time. Many show dogs learn to drink out of spray bottles - that's what the dog closest to the camera is doing. It's an easy way for the handler to have and carry water at ringside for the dogs. Misting water on their coats also helps keep them cool. This convention center was climate controlled of course, but it got a little warm in the afternoons.

Everyone loves watching the 3 to 5 month class in Futurity. The first entries for these babies are sent in before the litter is even born! Here is Mike Holle with a beautiful little brindle girl:

Kinsey (mother of Topper, Gus, Teddy and Keeper) and Ronnie watching some classes. Well, Ronnie is watching - Kinsey is pouting because he's not allowing her to work the crowd for treats.

Here are two GORGEOUS Black Danes. The one on the right is Tiger who belongs to Chantel. I'm not sure who the pretty girl on the left is.

It's not all just about looking good at the National - there are performance events too. We didn't get any shots of Kinsey in Agility (she won her Novice Jumpers class!) but here is the Sit Stay portion of the Novice Obedience class. Chantel's boy Tiger is second in line (second closest to the camera). Kinsey is on the other side of him.

This lovely picture of Tiger during the Down Stay portion of the Novice Obedience class was taken by Zeli Schulte. Tiger finished his Novice Obedience title at the National! But this picture pretty well sums up how we all felt by the end of the week:

If there is a particular breed of dog you love, chances are that the national club for that breed hosts a National Specialty somewhere in the country each year. I highly recommend attending when you can - even if you aren't especially interested in showing there is NO better place to meet people who love and are knowledgeable about your breed! Plus you get to see dogs from all over the country and even the vendors carry supplies and gifts geared toward that breed. The web site for the national club for each breed will have information about the National Specialties.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Home Again

Seems like we've been gone forever! Actually, we've just been gone to a few shows but that included the Great Dane National Specialty in Topeka, Kansas last month. Eight days of Great Danes!! It was wonderful but exhausting. We took four dogs - Kinsey and three of her pups (Topper, Teddy and Gus). A fourth pup - Keeper - was there with his owner. The logistics of traveling for over a week with that many giant breed dogs is mind boggling! We ended up taking two cars - we have a big van we use for dog shows and normally it has more than enough room, but we were taking so many crates and X-pens (exercise pens, which are collapsible wire fences that can be set up in many different ways) for the kids - not to mention food and luggage for Ronnie and I - that it wouldn't all fit! We discussed renting a U-haul trailer to tow behind the van to carry all the crates but the van doesn't have a hitch, and we figured by the time we got that put on and rented the trailer it would be cheaper for me to drive separately in my little Toyota wagon. So I took one dog and some stuff, and the other three dogs and all the other stuff went in the van with Ronnie. Fortunately it was "only" an eight hour drive for us!! More later...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Following in his Mother's Footsteps?

Gus did his first advertising work this morning!
Doskocil has come out with a new giant sized dog bed and he'll be on the package! His owners have had Danes for many years, and several of their other Danes have been in Doskocil ads so they got a call when the company needed another Dane for an ad.

She (Gus's owner) had to work, so asked me to take him to the photo session. He was SO GOOD!! They have had him in training classes but let's face it - he's still basically a puppy and can get pretty darned silly. It did take him a while to settle down - I had been hoping for an afternoon time so I could bring him over here to my house and let him play with his siblings for a while and get him worn out first but it didn't happen that way. But it didn't seem to matter - he strolled into the studio and met everyone, wagging and happy. And he was very willing to lay down where they wanted him to, but he wouldn't stay. Fortunately the photographer and the other people (I assume from Doskocil) were VERY patient. The set was really small and I thought he was feeling a little crowded, so I had them take a little break and I worked with him, let him get used to the bed and the close quarters and settle down a little. The breakthrough came when it occurred to me to toss treats to him - then instead of wanting to come to me for a reward, he'd lie there and look alert. Then we were able to get a LOT of good shots in different positions, by the end we were even able to squeak a toy and make meowing sounds and Gus stayed!! And looked gorgeous!!
They were kind enough to send me this photo to use on my personal web sites - it's not the one they ended up using for the package but I really like it!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Now We Are One!

Happy birthday to Kinsey's puppies!!
Actually I'm a little late, they were born Aug. 27, 2005. You could hold them in one hand - seriously!! You could.
Of course, by the next day it took both hands, and by this time last year they were already 4 or 5 pounds each.
But they WERE little at one time!!

This is Keeper - his owner sent me this picture of him with his birthday hat on. Keeper probably weighs over 150 lbs. now - good thing we don't have to buy clothing for these guys, as fast as they grow! They'd need new outfits every week!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hot, hot, hot!

103 today... that's about 39 for those of you on Celsius. Mostly we stay indoors with the A/C and the fans and try to move around as little as possible.

But last week we took two of the dogs to a local lake with some friends - Kinsey enjoyed chasing her own splashes!

Topper wasn't too sure about it at first - here she's apparently trying to climb onto Ronnie's head (or at least asking for sympathy):

But she got over it and soon had a good time:

And Kinsey had to do some posing - either that, or she's just waiting for more splashes:

It was fun, but I'll take cold & snowy over hot & sticky any day!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

One in a million...

Remember the local car dealership chain that Kinsey has done a few commercials for?

Last weekend there was a huge 4th of July festival and they are the fireworks sponsor for it. And they wanted the mascot (aka Kinsey) to make an appearance and "press the flesh" so to speak.

We weren't there all day - they just wanted her to visit with the public for a few hours in the afternoon then make a quick appearance on stage.

It may not sound like much, but there were a lot of difficult bits to it and let me tell you that Kinsey was freaking AWESOME!!
First of all, they picked us up in the parking lot in a gas powered golf cart - she's never even seen one before and barely had room and it was like riding a bumpy noisy lawn mower. But no sweat - she climbed on board like a champ. As we rode through the crowd toward their booth (this was a HUGE festival/concert and it was on a huge property) she practically waved to the crowd! :-)
They had a pop-up tent so we had shade and were cool enough, but I'm not kidding about a zillion people stopped by and petted her - fortuanely she thoroughly enjoyed it!
About the time I figured her hair would all be rubbed off they took us back (another golf cart ride) to the "green room" and then to the big stage.
I've never been behind the scenes at a big concert and have never seen a big stage set up. It was HUGE and the only way up onto it was - apparently - via very steep, open backed metal stairs. More like a ladder than a staircase. I about had an attack when I saw it... I was thinking "how are we going to carry this 100 lb. dog up those stairs" but I shouldn't have worried. Kinsey didn't even give the stairs a second glance - just went right up without hesitation.

If you don't have dogs - especially big dogs - you may not realize how significant that was in itself. She'd been great all day but there are lots of friendly, very well socialized dogs who can handle big crowds with aplomb. But those stairs!! Open backed stairs are usually pretty scary for dogs, and these had narrow metal treads and were very, very steep. Even with her agility background (which I'm sure really helped her confidence with something like this) it was absolutely amazing that she'd climb them so calmly.

And it wasn't over, not by a long shot! Once on the stage we waited in the wings while a band finished playing. As they went into their finale it was UNBELIEVABLY loud - worse than any loud nightclub I've ever been to. Forget about screaming into someone's ear to make yourself heard, you just had to rely on lip reading and sign language. The whole structure was vibrating with the sound of it. It hurt my ears, I figured it had to hurt Kinsey's. I held my hands over her ears but she was howling - I've never heard her howl before!! But fortunately it was soon over. And although she didn't like the loud noise, she wasn't freaked out at all - very calm and still greeting anyone who paid her any attention.

When they introduced her the crowd made a lot of noise too!! Over 200,000 people they said. Again, she acted like she did this sort of thing every day and trotted out on stage, did her little speak thing (there's a little routine the mascot does), and it was over. Back down the scary metal stair which actually bothered me a lot more than her - dang it was steep!! But again she didn't hesitate, just went right down like she did it every day. What a trouper!! What a GOOD girl!!
What a one in a million dog!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Queen Kinsey

I'm gorgeous and I know it!

Except when I'm feeling sorry for myself. Woe is meeeee!

Cut & Paste

I'm not sure if this title is appropo - but the Queen (Kinsey) would think so! She got cut big time last week - spayed and had her stomach tacked. This is not a plastic surgery procedure but rather a means to protect her from a very fatal and fairly common complication of gastric bloat called gastric torsion. Which basically means, sometimes a dog's stomach fills with air and then flips over or rotates (torsion) which in turn cuts off the circulation to the stomach, intestines and even sometimes the spleen. The stomach tack procedure fastens her stomach in place - it can't prevent the bloat (the filling with air part) but hopefully will prevent the flipping over part.
So anyway she's been milking this post-surgical recovery phase for all it's worth and it's working - she's getting pampered big time. She does the "Oh woe is me" bit very well anyway, but I was really worried. For some reason, a significant percentage of Danes die during or after surgery - including so-called "routine" surgeries like a spay. I'm sure it's still a small percentage, after all people don't normally email everyone they know to say "my dog got spayed and she's fine" but it's a large enough percentage that the parent club Great Dane Club of America has seen fit to form special surgical guidelines for Great Danes.

The other part of the "cut and paste" topic that applies is me coping with the fact that our hard drive went toes up last month and I'm trying to recover or reassemble the documents that weren't properly backed up (shame, shame!!). I'm teaching a Rally class this summer for the third year and I'm having to recreate some of the handouts for that. Oh, joy!!

On a more fun topic, we went to a Dane specialty near Austin over Memorial Day weekend and it went very well. We took 4 dogs which makes it sort of a trial run for the National specialty this October. We had 3 of Kinsey's pups with us, and a fourth pup was there too so we got some family pictures. It was the pups' first stay in a hotel and they did great!! It's always exciting traveling with puppies...especially when they each weigh over 100 pounds!!

Left to right: Keeper, Teddy, Gus and Topper.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Catching up

Our computer committed suicide a few weeks ago, and although I did find that without it I was:
1. getting to bed WAY earlier
2. getting more done around the house! (not that you can really tell, but I so WAS!)
But I really missed it! So here's the news you missed:
May 14, 2006:
At just her third show, Topper won Winners Bitch/Best Of Winners for her first point!! Now she's REALLY going to be full of herself!!
May 23:
Her mom Kinsey filmed a commercial for a local (North central Texas) car dealership - they have had Danes as their mascots for many, many years. She did one for this same company last year but this one is more involved. She had to hold a football (partly deflated so she could hang on to it), a baseball, a baseball bat, a hockey stick, a referee's whistle, and a hockey puck in her mouth (the hockey puck was hilarious - you couldn't even see it in her mouth until she spit it out!!). She had to pose with one paw on a football, a soccer ball, and a basketball - tricky since they tended to roll. She had to push a soccer ball around with her nose. She had to jump up like she was shooting a basket, spin around, gallop all over a green set which wasn't very large, wear a referee's shirt and a goalie's helmet!! And of course, do the trademark mascot bark. She was really, really good!
And now she's going to be even MORE full of herself than her daughter... when it comes to being a Princess Kinsey is an expert. Of course, I don't mind living with a celebrity but it can be rather taxing... all this fetching & carrying and fluffing her pillows and rubbing her feet and feeding her bon-bons (you know how HARD it is to find bon-bons this time of year!!??) is very tiring!!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pied Piper

We have some dear friends who fortunately live close by, and we visit each other with our dogs all the time - think of it as a puppy play date. They have a huge black Dane named Tiger and our pups have always been gaga over him - like the little kids who want to tag along after the cool teenager. Fortuanely Tiger IS cool and plays very nicely with the little ones.

These pictures were taken a couple of months ago. And yes, we do have grass now - shut up, we really do have some green! ;-)

The smaller black non-Dane is their Flat Coated Retriever puppy Oakley who is about a month younger than our Dane pups.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some Days Are Diamonds - And Some Days Suck

My last post described a definite diamond day - well 8 days later it was a whole 'nother story! That Saturday I had some errands to run, and was gone about 6 hours. The dogs were all fine when I left, and Ronnie was home with them. When I got home, I no sooner walked in the door than he said "Teddy's not feeling well, he's thrown up a few times". Teddy was indeed not well - every time he moved he retched up foamy yellow stuff, and he didn't want to move much. When he did get up he seemed very uncomfortable - arched back and stiff. Since he's still a puppy my first thought was "obstruction" so I stuffed him into my car and off to the emergency clinic we went (this NEVER happens during normal vet office hours. Why? WHY??). The X-rays didn't show anything in his guts but DID show congestion in his lungs... and when she saw him retch the vet observed that he wasn't vomiting, but rather coughing this gunk up. He had pneumonia!! He stayed there the rest of the weekend on IV fluids and IV antibiotics, and thank Goodness he recovered quickly. I brought him home on Monday afternoon, but Monday morning I heard his sister Topper start coughing!! Damn!! So I took her in to the vet. She wasn't sick fortunately, so they just put her on antibiotics and I was able to take her home. Both pups recovered very well, and within a few more days weren't even coughing anymore. But since Topper got it too, we figured it was something infectious. Possibly the Canine Flu that everyone's been talking about on all the dog lists. I'm sure they caught it at the show - especially since I was stupid enough to put them in the public exercise pens to potty. I know better than that, I just wasn't thinking. Anyway, Ted is just about as good as new except for a shaved front leg from the IV. I'll try to get a picture up.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'm Back!

Eeeek!! It's been a month and a half since I last wrote! Apologies to my ones and twos of readers! I'll try to be more consistent in the future. But heck, it's MY freakin' blog, after all!!
Anyway, despite the mood swings (hahaha) things have been going pretty well at House of Danes. The pups turned 6 months old on Feb. 27 (incredible to think how tiny they were when they were born, now they're about as big as their mother) and that is the minimum age for showing in the AKC. So we entered our two plus Gus (that's his new name, he used to be called Hunter) who we show for his owners, in their first show on the first weekend of March. Actually we just entered Saturday - we thought that judge would treat puppies well and thought one day would be enough. You don't want to wear them out, and we wasn't familiar with the judge on Sunday. Most judges treat dogs, and especially puppies, very kindly. But occasionally you get a judge who is brusque or even a little rough with the dogs - you never want to show to a judge like that but you DEFINITELY don't want to risk that with a youngster.
They did great! With babies our only goals are: 1. that they have a good time and B. that they mostly behave themselves. In other words, we view it as a training experience. And that was a success - they walked into the show building like "Cool!! Lookit that! And PEOPLE!! Oh, boy! Can we have treats??? Please???" but they weren't maniacs and definitely weren't freaked out by all the dogs and people. And they showed well although they all had puppy moments in the ring. The kicker was, Gus won Reserve Winners Dog! Which doesn't get him any points but it means he was second place to all the non-champion male dogs there! The judge really liked him, but he's still too immature to really win.

Baby Gus's first show picture!!

Then later in March we had our Dane club's specialty show - meaning that it was a show limited just to our breed, instead of being an all-breed show. Again, they did GREAT! They behaved even better than at the first show. 4 of the 5 pups were there which was great. The absent puppy is gorgeous but I doubt he'll ever be shown; his new owners just aren't interested in that and that's OK with us. They adore him, travel with him everywhere and he has a terrific life plus he gets well socialized with all the travel, so he's not missing out on anything! It still would have been great to see him again, but they were out of town. Hopefully I'll get to see him soon.
Anyway, the 4 dogs we had there at the show all did great! We had also entered Kinsey, their mom, in obedience and Best of Breed competition. The obedience classes also were open only to Great Danes, which is fun. They started before the conformation classes but ran a bit late so I was in the obedience ring with Kinsey when it was time for the pups' first class in Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes is a competition separate from the regular show, open only to puppies. The judge doesn't have to be an AKC judge and in fact judging Sweepstakes is one way that people who are applying for a judges' license can get some experience judging. You can win a little money - like $15 or $20 - but there are no points. Like all shows, the males are judged first then the females, and in both sexes the youngest puppies go first. So our "little" boys would be first in the ring, hence my conflict. So Kinsey's breeder agreed to take Teddy into the ring for me. She's met him several times of course but has never shown him so I didn't know what would happen - at the least I figured it would be good experience for him to learn to be handled by another person, and of course she would be good to him.
Well, what happened is that he won Best of Sweepstakes!! He was a jewel, and she made him look VERY good. It was pretty exciting.
(I wasn't going to brag on my dogs here.. but again, it's MY blog so if I can't brag here, well... screw it!!)
So then the regular classes started and I showed Teddy in his class. He didn't win this time, in fact he came in second to his brother Gus but the Judge was very complimentary. When it was time for the females to be judged Ronnie (my hubby) took their sister Topper in and when the judge was examining her she told Ronnie "You breed beautiful puppies!" How nice is THAT!! Ronnie handled Gus in his class and we told her (after she'd placed Gus and Teddy 1st and 2nd in a nice class) that they were littermates. Anyway, when the dust was all settled Topper won Reserve Winners Bitch! Another nice Reserve like her brother - again no points but since it was a big entry it was REALLY exciting!
Stay tuned... it seems like they're on a roll!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Social Club

Last weekend, in addition to our regular crew of 5 (4 Danes, one Shih Tzu cross) we had several visitors: one 4 month old Flat Coated Retriever puppy with enough energy to power a small town; 2 Border Collies who ain't no slouches in the energy department either; and one little Dachsie cross who thank Goodness is a couch potato. It was one of those weekends when several friends and relatives had to leave town, and needed help watching their dogs. I figured that it would be good for our pups - I really am a big believer in having dogs over to visit whenever possible. And it really does a world of good as far as socializing our dogs.

But then it rained and iced all weekend, so everyone had to stay inside - they all got along fine, but it was a bit, er, crowded!!

I'm just kicking myself that I didn't get pictures!! I've just got to start keeping the camera handy. I miss way too much good stuff.

Like having 9 dogs in the den!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Explain this to me...

... How can I be having "empty nest syndrome" when I've still got 4 Danes in the house?? My friends S. and J. are keeping Hunter - and I'm delighted! Really - they've had Danes for years and understand what life with a Giant breed of dog is all about. He will be pampered and adored for his entire life and - best of all! - I'll get to see him anytime I want and we'll be showing him. S. and J. really aren't interested in showing but they know that it's great socialization and basic training for the dog so are perfectly willing to let us show him whenever we want. Which is also nice since he's a really pretty puppy and really enjoys handling class and I think will enjoy shows too.

But I was just going through their baby pictures so I could give her a few of them, and it pinches my heart. This is the first litter we've ever bred and although I thoroughly enjoyed it, it's been kind of heartbreaking too. And I was REALLY lucky!! All the pups survived, and are hale and hearty and the 3 we placed are happy in their new homes. I'm just a wuss I guess.

I've actually handled it quite well I think. On the whole. Although a few months ago I was at a training seminar and this was just a day or two after the first two pups went to their new homes. I did fine - no tears, just happy that the pups had such terrific new homes.

Anyway, I was talking to a friend of mine at the seminar and she asked about the pups. And I had a small meltdown right there - "I miss them! blubber, blubber" As she was backing slowly away I realized this wasn't the most appropriate response. Sorry!

I mean, I'm the one who thought I had post-partum depression after the litter was first born. It's just hopeless, I guess.

Don't mean to be a downer!

Look! Cute puppy pics!! These were taken when they were 9 days old.

Do we know how to party, or what?

Super Bowl Sunday we had our dear friends C. and S. over to watch the game and eat great piles of junk food. They're selling their house and since they've got 3 big dogs, this means that whenever a realtor calls to say they're bringing someone over to see it C. has to pile everyone into her van and disappear for a while. I imagine it's a huge pain in the ass - but few people would buy a house knowing that a 170 lb. Dane "puppy" (he's 20 months old), a Golden Retriever and a Flat Coat retriever puppy (4 months old) have been in residence. The dogs are great, and not destructive or anything - but I'm just sayin'.

Plus the fact that Tiger (the Dane) can almost look you eye to eye while standing square with all 4 feet on the floor. He's enormous. Might be a bit distracting.

Anyway, although we figured that it was unlikely that anyone would be out house hunting on Super Bowl Sunday, you never know. It IS the best day of the year to go shopping, as I can personally verify.

So they brought their crew along to our house. Our house is NOT large - fortunately all the dogs get along great. Once Topper the Bitch got over her "Let me tear you a new one" greeting that she saves for dogs she hasn't seen lately. Apparently she thinks she's gotta remind 'em who the Alpha Bitch is!!

Or so she says - there's only one AB in this house, honey, and it ain't you!

Anyway, the party was a great success. 5 Great Danes, 2 Retrievers, a little dog and 4 humans. And a partridge in a pear tree. I think my hubby only ended up having to sit on the floor once or twice. Everybody wanted on the couches, and it was first-come, first-served with a lot of shuffling anytime someone got up for more food or a bathroom break.

Gives "party animals" a whole new spin, doesn't it?

The dogs were amazingly good around the food. That hasn't always been the case:

You gonna finish that?

This photo was taken about a month ago. The pups are bigger now, but fortunately more restrained. He was just eating Shredded Wheat - I'll leave it to your imaginations what it was like with a meat-based meal.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

OK, I'm obsessed...

...but I don't care. There are many things and people in my life that I love and care about, but my Great Danes are my obsession. I... we (my wonderful hubby is a convert) have either 4 or 5 at the present.

It's not that I've misplaced any giant dogs - but one puppy has hopefully found a permanent home with some wonderful people I've known for many years. He's visiting them this weekend, and if all works out then he'll stay with them.

We've got 2 other puppies (5 months old and pushing 100 lbs, but believe you me - they're PUPPIES): A brindle girl named Topper who is every inch a bitch; her fawn brother Teddy who has been MY DOG ever since he was born; their mother Kinsey who we still show (conformation, obedience and agility); and Kinsey's sister Aeryn who is our special child. The one who may or may not still be included in the count is Hunter, another fawn boy and the sibling of Teddy and Topper.