Monday, September 24, 2007

Dangerous Politicians

There is a wonderful article here: The National Ledger

If all you know about "Pit Bulls" is what you've been fed by the media, you are sorely misinformed. Breed specific legislation is becoming a national tragedy that tears apart families and murders good dogs - all so that the politicians can say they are "doing something" about a made up problem... and the criminals stay underground and aren't affected at all.

Sorry this isn't a funny post, but BSL is just too sad...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dane totem

As we were preparing to leave the show in Monroe a couple of weeks ago, we had once again to deal with the logistics of traveling with a lot of big dogs. Once you take the crates down, you have to have somewhere to put the dogs while you're packing them into the van. In our van, it's MUCH easier to load stuff like that while the dogs are not present. Keeper's owner had come to the show too, and had her own van which CAN be loaded with dogs inside. So now we've got a system - since we had 4 Danes there between us, we put Keeper and his sister Topper in her van, and I held Teddy and Gus while she and Ronnie loaded the vans. Don't worry - she had her AC running so Topper and Keeper were comfortable.

Anyway, she went to the side door of her van and opened it to get something, and the two dogs poked their heads out as she started to open the door with Keeper's head on top.

My favorite part of the story is, she had the presence of mind to shut the door, go get her camera and then open the door again to take the picture! And it was worth it:

Doesn't Topper look pleased????

Friday, September 14, 2007

The prodigal son

Buck is back for a visit. He's not really a prodigal, he's always been a good boy! He's the "fifth pup", the one who isn't being shown and I don't write about him often enough. He belongs to a wonderful family who spoil him rotten and love him dearly. And he loves them! They usually are able (and willing!) to take him with them when they go out of town but when they can't he usually comes here to stay for a few days. We are so fortunate that all the dogs get along - otherwise this probably wouldn't work and we SO love seeing him.

As you can see, he's a very handsome boy!

He and his brother Teddy particularly love playing with each other. The girls (their sister Topper, mother Kinsey and aunt Aeryn) pretty much ignore them.

And then after all the playing, it's nap time:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Newsflash, more show dog abuse!!

I'm still catching up on emails and such since the computer was down for so long... and realize that Keeper's owner had sent us some expose' photos she took in the Houston hotel that reveal more of the dark, tormented world of the typical show dog.

Oh, the horror!! (the silver thing is the bandage on his foot, that we replaced each afternoon to be sure he didn't hurt it again. There is normal bandage material underneath, but - you guessed it - good ol' duct tape works best to save the bandage from wearing through, and resists minor removal attempts.)

I can't bear to watch...make it stop!!

I will blast you with my laser eyes if you try to make me get off the bed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mmmmmmmm baby poop

One thing I did do for the pups' second birthday was make treats for them all. This is a wonderful and VERY easy treat recipe that dogs love.
Although, as one friend observed, they do look a bit like baby poop!


- 4 small jars baby food (any pureed meat type)
- 1/3 cup Cream of Wheat (you can substitute any kind of flour, but the texture won't be quite so fine)
- 1 beaten egg

Optional: flavorings like garlic powder, grated cheese etc.

For example, I made two flavors in this last batch:
1. Ham & Turkey with grated cheese, and
2. Veal & Lamb with garlic.

Mix all ingredients. If the batter is too runny, add some more Cream of Wheat or flour but it doesn't have to be really thick - just thick enough that when you drop a little spoonful onto the baking sheet it won't completely flatten out.

I usually cook these in the microwave - drop by small spoonfuls onto waxed paper or parchment paper, or a greased microwave safe plate.
For chewy treats, cook on High for 2- 3 minutes, until set.
If you want crunchy treats, cook them longer.

If you want to bake them in the oven, drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 8 minutes for chewy treats, longer for crunchy treats.

Cool and store covered in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze for longer storage.

Why bother, you may ask? Aside from any warm fuzzy feelings arising from making something for a pet you love, your choice of treats to use when training your dog can make or break a training session.

Remember that some treats have more value to the dog than others. Think of it as pay for your dog - and just as we don't demand high pay for a job that is easy and/or enjoyable, your dog will be perfectly satisfied with "low value" treats like his regular dog biscuits, Cheerios, even pieces of his regular food when you are practicing in a low-distraction environment (like at home) or practicing exercises he already knows and enjoys. But move him to a high-distraction environment like a training class, or try teaching him something difficult and if you want his undivided attention he's going to want higher pay for that.
You may have to experiment to find treats that really drive your dog crazy. Some favorites are:
hot dogs
boiled chicken, liver, etc - especially with a sprinkle of garlic powder

But a variety of treats for training is important, and that's where homemade treats come in handy. And of course, they're lovely as occasional special treats just to do something nice for your dog.

Bake up a batch of these and freeze for future use - your dog will thank you! I'll post other treat recipes here from time to time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now We Are Two!

And once again, I'm late with the birthday wishes for our pups - I'm such a bad "grandma". They were two on August 27. And it also goes to show what a bad blogger I am, that their first birthday post was just a few messages ago. I'm going to try to post regularly here, and also try to NOT just post about show results. I'll put those on our web site at

But this is a better venue for stories, opinions, and just the funny stuff that happens pretty regularly when you live with Danes.

Last year I posted a birthday picture of Keeper that his owner sent me. She sent me a very similar picture this year:

Keeper Age 2

He's wearing the same hat, look how much smaller the hat looks this year than it did last year:

Keeper Age 1

And Buck's owner sent me a birthday picture too:

She said he was waiting for his birthday doughnut!

So happy, happy birthday to Topper, Teddy, Keeper, Gus and Buck - we love you all!

Monday, September 10, 2007

But where will I sleep?

Every now and then you hear or read some piece of nonsense from PETA talking about how poorly show dogs are treated. The truth is, people who show dogs are like most pet owners - or rather, like a slice from the top two-thirds or so of the general pet owning population. Some will inevitably care more than others, some will be more personally invested in the dog's welfare than others.

But what I meant by that "top two-thirds" crack is that you really don't see the TOTAL deadbeats in the dog show world. Whether you truly love your show dogs or mostly see them as a means to an end, the bottom line is that the dog has to be reasonably healthy, in a good weight, good coat etc. or you are wasting a LOT of money going to dog shows.

But many of us regard our show dogs first and foremost as family members.

I know Ronnie and I do. Our dogs live with us in our home, and when we travel with them to shows they get pretty good accommodations.

As a result, our dogs rather enjoy going to shows.

Teddy certainly does.

(This was taken Memorial Day weekend 2007 in Monroe Louisiana with my cell phone - excuse the poor photo. Teddy didn't win anything other than a ginormous share of the bed. But his brothers Gus and Keeper each won one day!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Da Feet

No, I'm not defeated -- or dead or anything. Although our computer has been dead 3 or 4 times in the past few months. Seems like forever! Needless to say, emachines is not my very most favorite company right now although I will give them credit for honoring the warranty. We haven't been out of pocket for any of the repairs (3 or 4 motherboards, for starters -- heck, I've lost count!) Fortunately neither my hubby nor I need this computer for our work so no lost revenue either. Just one heck of a lot of inconvenience! And frustration!!

But enough about that -- the title of this post refers to one of my pet peeves about pets: overgrown toenails!!

I know, I know... many dogs are very unwilling to have people handle their feet. All dogs have very sensitive feet -- their feet are essentially as sensitive as ours, with lots of nerve endings and pressure points. Some dogs' feet are very ticklish, or very hypersensitive. Dogs who have neck or back or hip problems may have tingling sensations in their feet. Add to that the fact that most dogs have dark nails so that you can't see the "quick" (the fleshy core which contains the nerves and blood vessels) and it's easy to understand why so many pet owners don't keep up with their dog's nails.

But this isn't optional, people!! Nails that grow too long are a horrible thing for a dog to have to endure. Try taping or gluing popsicle sticks to your toes and walking around like that for a day. Overgrown nails can cause toe and foot malformations. They can predispose the dog to toe injuries. And in extreme cases the nail can actually curve under and pierce the pad.

With a little persistence, most dogs can be trained to allow their nails to be shortened without a struggle. This always begins with basic handling. You should be able to touch and handle any part of your dog's body but this takes training and patience. Anytime you are having a cuddle with your dog, take a few moments and gently stroke the dog's muzzle, ears, legs and/or feet. If any of these areas are sensitive, go VERY slowly. Start petting or scratching areas that the dog enjoys having you touch, and just make a few of your strokes venture toward the "forbidden" area. Watch your dog and if she tenses up then you know you've gone a little too far. Back off and pet her in a way she enjoys. Next time, don't go quite so far and try to keep her relaxed. A minute or two of this a day, or even just a few days a week will work wonders - before you know it, you'll be able to handle your dog's feet, ears etc. easily.

I use a LOT of treats when I'm doing this kind of desensitization. The treats are not only a reward for letting me touch the dog's feet, but also a reassurance and a positive reinforcement that will help the dog remain more relaxed in the future.

Even if you are fortunate enough to have a dog who's nails naturally stay short (these are rare creatures but do exist!) you should teach your dog to let you check her feet on a regular basis anyway. Dogs don't always limp when they have a foot injury - if it doesn't hurt any more when they put weight on the foot than when they don't put weight on it, they may not limp noticeably. And as dogs get older, their nails have a tendency to get longer even if they were always naturally short in the past. Last but not least, if the dewclaws (the fifth toe up on the inside of the leg, where a thumb would be) are present those will need to be trimmed even on the lucky dogs with naturally short nails.

**Now is a good time for a disclaimer: First of all, I am NOT a vet and am not presenting anything as "medical advice". Secondly, always be very careful when trying to desensitize a dog so you can handle sensitive areas like its feet. If you have ANY doubts about your dog's willingness to tolerate this, or if you have ANY reason to think your dog might even CONSIDER biting you, then consult a professional trainer or behaviorist before proceeding. Don't get bitten!!**

There is another reason so many dogs hate having their nails trimmed: nail clippers pinch!! If you use nail clippers on your dog, first of all always be sure that they are super sharp. The scissor type clipper can be sharpened, and you can get replacement blades for the guillotine type. I prefer the scissor type clipper because you have blades cutting from both sides of the nail. With the guillotine type, a lot of squeezing takes place before the blade actually cuts - and if you've ever gotten your finger pinched in a door, you know how very much that HURTS!! But even the scissor type squeezes the nail as it is cutting.

You can minimize this by beveling the nail as you cut it: Instead of cutting straight across the nail, cut a little at an angle from one side, then the other side and sort of whittle the nail down. This will greatly reduce the pressure on the nail, and has two added benefits: 1. You are less likely to cut into the quick and if you do, it probably won't be so bad (or bloody), and 2. this method reduces the razor-sharp cut nail edges.

This drawing demonstrates a straight-across cut which pinches (seen from above the dog's foot):

And this one demonstrates the beveling or whittling technique:

But the best method of all for shortening nails doesn't involve cutting them at all. A Dremel or other handheld rotary sanding tool works amazingly well. You do have to desensitize the dog to the noise of the tool, and you can't hold the tool on one spot on the nail for too long (more than 2 or 3 seconds) or it will get too hot and hurt the dog. You have to take care that long hair (yours OR the dog's!!) doesn't get caught in the rotating head. But a rotary sander gives you incredible control on how close you can get to the quick without injuring it, and you always finish with lovely smooth nails.

There is a FABULOUS web page that gives detailed instructions on exactly how to use a rotary sander to shorten a dog's nails. Go to and click on "How to Dremel Dog Nails" on the left side of the page.

Here are some pictures that show how a dog's nails SHOULD look:

Danes are one of the breeds that have "cat" feet, meaning that the foot is round and compact. With this type of foot it is especially important to keep the nails very short - otherwise the nails on the outer toes of the foot can wear sores on the sides of the inner toes.

Once someone told me that their vet told them that their puppy's nails were TOO short! This was a perfectly healthy pup with nice short nails. I have never heard of any other vet saying anything like this, and it amazed me!! And upset me - the last thing we need is some vet discouraging responsible owners from keeping their dog's nails nice and short! The only thing I could think of was that maybe the vet thought the nails had been "quicked back". This means intentionally cutting the nail very short, into the quick. It is cruel unless done under anesthesia - and even then the risk of infection can be high. But this puppy's nails had never been quicked, they had just been kept short.

Last thought on the subject: if all else fails take your dog to your vet or to a groomer regularly (that means at LEAST once a month) and have the professionals trim his nails. It's an inconvenience and an expense but if you can't or won't trim your dog's nails yourself, or if your dog might bite you if you try then it's your only choice.

Remember - taking care of your dog's nails is NOT optional!! It is a basic requirement, just as important as keeping the dog's coat free of mats and his skin free of parasites.