Sunday, March 14, 2010

Agility news

Due to some family (human family) plans we just showed Friday this weekend and had to skip the trials on Sat & Sunday.

But it was very worthwhile!!

Kinsey qualified in Excellent B for her 8th leg toward her Masters title (10 legs are required).

Kinsey really likes the Jumpers classes!

And Teddy got his second leg in Novice FAST which is a relatively new AKC class which requires the dog to work some obstacles at a distance from the handler.

Teddy going through the tire jump

This was also Topper's first trial since the National last fall - at which time we knew she wasn't really ready but we entered her anyway. She didn't qualify but really worked very well - we'll enter her again in a month or two and she should be ready to rock by then!

...And thank you all for all the well wishes about Teddy's injury last fall! Obviously, he is all better now! :-)

Monday, March 08, 2010

WARNING: Cuteness overload

Yesterday I went to Vicki's to see Dakota's little brother and sisters. This is a repeat of the breeding that produced Dakota and as you might expect they are ADORABLE!

There are just 4 of them and they sure haven't been lacking for groceries because they are huge! They turn 4 weeks old today and as they are gradually switching from Mom to mush they actually will slim down a bit. Plus they are mastering this walking thing - they're starting to play actually - and that will burn calories too.

There are more photos on our website at http://symmetrydanes.freeservers.com/Litterbox2.html
- for now, just inhale the puppy breath!

And thanks to my friend Karen for the puppy modeling duty... it's a tough job but someone has to do it!


Light brindle girl


Fawn girl


Brindle boy


Dark brindle girl

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Say hello to my little friend

Here is a video of Dakota's brother Ty playing with his friend Pib:
(Ty had a case of hives when this was taken. She doesn't know what he got into, but he was fine the next day).


video

Obviously it takes some close supervision to let such a big dog play with such a little dog... especially when the big one is a puppy and maybe not entirely aware of his strength or where his feet are!

But he is so gentle with her!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Military families, deployment, and dogs

I got this email a couple of days ago:
"... had gone to the shelter to donate food and bedding as she regularly does and she heard loud crying and whining coming from the back kennel. She reluctantly headed in that direction only to find a grief stricken black Great Dane. His (hysterically upset) owners had left him two days ago because they are both in the military and were being dispatched abroad. He is a one year old, neutered, black Great Dane who is house broken and heart broken.

PLEASE....if you can take him, consider it."
Needless to say, a lot of us in our local Dane Rescue community have been scrambling to find a place for him - I was even all set to pull him from the shelter myself in the morning and transport him down toward central Texas to another rescue that had a foster home for him. But fortunately another local rescue stepped in and pulled him out so he is safe now, and hopefully getting a lot of TLC from his foster family. And soon will have a new, permanent family of his own.

But even though this particular dog is safe now, this is still a heartbreaking story all around. It is not an uncommon story, unfortunately. And it illustrates why so many reputable breeders and rescues are so very unwilling to place a dog into a military family.

I can see it from the point of view of the military families too... my brother is an Iraq war vet, I have other family members in the service and more than a few friends in the military. Most of them are real dog lovers and aren't willing to deny themselves and their children the joy of a dog for 5 or 10 years or more until they get out.

But how to avoid tragedies like the one described in the email above? Especially if the military folk are NOT able to get a dog from a reputable breeder or rescue that would help them out if they are deployed to some location where they cannot (or should not) take the family dog? All too often the only source these families have for getting a pet is an irresponsible breeder who asks no questions, and doesn't care what happens to the dog once they've cashed the check.

This leaves the family with no one to turn to if they are facing deployment - they usually don't have the resources to find a safe placement for their dog at short notice. Unless they have family members or close friends who are able and willing to take the dog for an extended period of time they rapidly run out of options.

The answer lies in the strategies that are employed by reputable breeders or rescues that ARE willing to place a dog with a military family. Usually the agreement is that when the military family hears even a whisper or rumor of future deployment to some remote and non-pet friendly part of the world that they MUST notify the breeder or rescue. They don't have to give up the pet at that point, but the "heads up" gives the breeder or rescue time to make some tentative plans. Specific deployment orders often come at short notice, but they are almost never unexpected - you do have some advance notice, sometimes many months.

If tentative plans are in place, then when the specific orders come the dog can be safely placed in a new home or a foster home (pending adoption) fairly quickly. The military family still has to stay good-bye to the dog - it is almost impossible to find a long-term temporary home - but at least they have the comfort of knowing the dog is in good hands.

But if they have gotten the dog from some fly-by-night breeder, what then? My advice is that at the first rumor of deployment, they reach out to family and friends for options. If no one can take the dog then they should reach out to rescue groups. It is not uncommon for rescue groups to fill up and not be able to take a dog at very short notice, but if you stay in touch with them over a period of weeks or months then they are more likely to be able to take your dog when crunch time comes. Finding a rescue group has never been easier - all you have to do is Google the name of your breed of dog + Rescue, and you'll get lots of options. You can also talk to your vet for advice - he or she may know of someone looking for a dog like yours. The trick is to NOT wait until the last minute - "plan for the worst".

And finally, a responsible military family will do what ANY responsible dog-owning family will do - take the dog to some training classes to make him more enjoyable to live with!! This is a huge benefit to the original family plus if they must find the dog a new home it will make it much, MUCH easier to find someone to take him.

UPDATE - One of my readers left a comment about a program called the Military Pets Foster Project. (Thanks Kathie!!) This is a program that helps people in the military locate foster homes for their pets when they are deployed.
The website is https://www.netpets.org/netp/foster.php

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What a GOOD boy!!

Gus's owners sent me this photo of Gus working (quite successfully, I might add) on "Leave It". She said the limiting factor was the drool - they released him to gobble his treats before he soaked everything in sight! Don't be taken in by the sad puppy eyes - Gus has it pretty good!

Gus is one of Kinsey's pups - he is Teddy and Topper's brother.

In case you are new to this blog and wonder why his owners send us photos even though he is almost 5 years old, you should know that reputable breeders always try to stay in touch with their puppy buyers. Not in a controlling way, but to provide support and answer questions and in general to do everything in their power to ensure that both the dog and the family stay happy with each other. And if worse comes to worse and the owners can't keep the dog for some reason - and catastrophic things can happen to the best homes - then the responsible breeder will either take the dog back, or help to find him a new home. We do this because we LOVE every single puppy we ever produce, and we truly care about them and will move Heaven and earth to keep them out of shelters, or out of bad situations.

The promise I make to every newborn puppy is this: "You will be loved for your entire life. You won't always get your way, but you will ALWAYS be loved". And I will do everything in my power to keep that promise.

So if you are in the market for a puppy and encounter a breeder who asks lots of personal questions about your family situation and they also want (or require) you to stay in touch with them after you take the puppy home - that is a great sign that you have found a responsible breeder. And chances are they will be a help to you for the life of that dog.