Tuesday, June 30

Another Scruffy sighting...

On my way to the dentist this morning, I spotted Scruffy having a good sniff about five houses down from mine. Unfortunately, I had to head on to the dentist but noted that he's sticking close to this area.

When my SO got home from work, he told me Scruffy was out and about again, and off we went to capture him. That dog knew exactly what we were doing. We slowly stalked him in our car, and threw some Cheez-its out the window when he laid down in the shade to keep an eye on his. He got up, sniffed those, tossed his little nose up in the air at them, and proceeded to zoom down the sidewalk. I jumped out of the car and gave chase, but he was just a HAIR faster than me, so it seemed pointless to continue to run after him. We followed him around the block, but he went in someone's backyard and escaped into the woods behind it.

So there goes my "run really fast and grab him" approach. I'm too slow.

I think I'd like to sort of herd him towards my house, with my gate open, get him inside, and shut the door. At this point, I think it's the best I could hope for. I really need a few extra people to help shepherd him where I want him to go, though.

I did get close enough to him that I determined he's a poodle mix. As his name implies, he really does need groomed in a bad way.

Monday, June 29

Catching Scruffy...

Scruffy is this little black ball of matted fur that I occasionally see on my dog walks. He loves to get within a few feet of my dogs and bark ferociously at them, but is smart enough to run for the hills if anyone gets too close. He's been loose in my neighborhood for at least a year.

This past week, he's started hanging out on my street, close to my house, as opposed to a few blocks away. One day I pulled over and tried to nab him, but he took off. I am fairly confident I could overtake him because he's not very fast, but I'll have to make sure I have a blanket with me in case he's bitey.

Until that time, I've come up with a plan that will likely be affected by the millions of loose cats that run rampant in my neighborhood.

Stage 1 - set out food for Scruffy every day and watch closely for Scruffy sightings.

Stage 2 - when Scruffy seems to be coming regularly, open backyard gate at night and put dog food in it.

Stage 3 - either shut gate while Scruffy is inside, or set up the live trap and try to get him that way.

Hopefully, he's not so feral that he's an evil little SOB. He's only about 10# or so, so I wouldn't mind him in the household as it wouldn't make much difference.

World's Ugliest Dog Named

Every year, there is a contest to see who is the ugliest dog. Sometimes it is televised, and I must admit that I do watch it whenever it's on. I just can't help myself. Generally, the competition is overrun with Chinese Crested Hairless dogs, who, because of rather poor breeding, tend to become quite hideous in their older years, losing their teeth, getting clouded eyes, and in general, looking like something you would only want to touch wearing a protective suit while having a chemical bath nearby.

This year's dog isn't even that ugly. Heck, I've had a dog with an underbite and cloudy eyes before.

Do you think he's really worthy of the Ugliest Dog Crown?

Friday, June 26

My New No Soliciting Sign

I get a lot of unwanted folks knocking on my door all day long. In the spring, it is next to impossible to keep my door open for a breeze, because within ten minutes, someone will come along rapping on it and stir all my dogs into a frenzy. It's annoying!

I do have a no soliciting sign on my door, but I'm writing a new one now -

This includes selling: magazines or subscriptions,
long distance phone service, cable television, satellite
television, religion, meat, or anything else you want to
bother us with. We may open the door for cookies and
candy bars, especially when sold by little kids, because
they are tasty. The candy bars, not the kids.
We are not interested in taking your survey. If you
insist, we will answer every question with "your mom" or
"that's what she said."

Thank you and have a great day!

I doubt it will work though... seems these folks can't read. :(

Mommy and Roo Day

So, once a week, I try to do an activity with just Roofus and I - no other dogs are invited! The other two boys are in agility, so they get to hang out with Mom for a couple hours just by themselves once a week, not to mention all the time we spend practicing. Roofus doesn't really have a "thing," unless there's some special workshop I've signed him up for, so I like to have a time where we just do something enjoyable together without the other dogs.

Today we went to the local park (human park, not dog park). It stormed a lot yesterday, so I figured the creeks might be high enough to swim in for him. Well, they only came up to his chest since he's so large, LOL. But the first creek we went in, he flushed out a mama duck and her dozen or so babies. Roofus has taken herding classes, so I know he's okay with ducks. I let him practice herding (in the water!) for a little bit and then "that'll do," and we went on our way. Mama was getting a bit anxious because her kids were starting to get washed away downstream!

That was pretty much the norm for our time at the park. We'd do a half mile or so, then into another creek... At least half the time there were more ducks (though I did not let him bother baby ducks after his first time), so we practiced our "walk ups" and come with distractions. He did really well, though trying to herd, in a creek, on a 16 ft flexi leash is probably not ideal!

I got him back home, gave him a quickie bath, and he's happily snoozing on my bed now, no doubt dreaming of keeping those ducks all together in one bunch.

Free Shipping till the end of June!

If you visit my Zazzle store, you can get FREE shipping on orders over $25 till the end of June! That's an awesome deal, I love it when I don't have to pay for shipping.

The code is FREESHIPON25 and it expires June 30th 2009.

Start Shopping Now!

The fine print:
To qualify for this free shipping offer, one or more Zazzle products must be purchased with an order subtotal of $25 or more. The coupon code FREESHIPON25 must be entered during checkout to receive the offer. Free shipping offer does not apply skateboards or photo sculptures. The free shipping offer is for standard (or economy if standard is not available) shipping. Shipping offer is for shipping to U.S. addresses only. Shipping charges will apply to oversized orders and orders being shipped on an expedited basis. Offer is valid from June 19, 2009 at 12:01am PT through June 30, 2009 at 11:59pm PT. Your order must be placed during that time to qualify for this special offer. This promotional offer does not apply to past purchases and may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or discount offers. Offer valid on Zazzle.com only.

Keep your dog cool!

There was an interesting post on the BRAG group about keeping your dog cool... as canine athletes our little four leggeds tend to heat up very quickly, and heat stroke is never a good thing! Apparently dogs don't cool *quite* the same way as people do. Last night, Popper had agility practice, and I put a couple of things to the test. He absolutely HATES the heat (and the cold, for that matter), and will shut down and refuse to work. He was panting rapidly before we even started doing anything, he is that sensitive to heat.

Firstly, getting your dog wet does help. I took Popper out after every run and just dosed him with a gallon of water, which I rubbed in to make sure it got down in there. I have read that you want to do that right before a run, otherwise it can actually insulate the heat IN and make them hotter.

Secondly, if you get your dog wet, don't stick them somewhere with poor air circulation. If you put your dog in a crate (which we all do at trials) then stick a huge fan right on it. The evaporation of the water is what's going to keep your dog cool. If you just crate them, chances are, you're going to see your dog's temperature rise. Those little crate fans aren't much help - go buy a huge one. They do make large ones that are battery operated or can run on your car's power.

I've also heard good things about those cooling mats, if you can get your dog to lie on it, and those reflective coats/tarps.

On the way home from agility, Popper was soaked, and I turned the air on in my car and directed a vent full blast on him. After a minute or two, he was relaxed, comfortable, and not panting - I, on the other hand, was still hot, sticky, and panting!

And, of course, all my advice comes at a "use at your own risk." Always consult a veterinarian if you are unsure about how to keep your pooch cool in the summer heat and use common sense.

Thursday, June 25

Firefighter Kills His Dogs

Okay, I am one of those people who are firmly into "eye for an eye." I believe murderers should get whatever they did to their victims, done to them. I believe child rapists should be lynched, drawn, and quartered. But today I am absolutely INFURIATED by this story, which sadly takes place in my hometown -


Essentially, this guy killed his two mutts because he didn't want to board them while he went on vacation.

And what, you may ask, was his punishment for this completely heinous crime??

90 days in jail. 90 freaking days.

The guy was bragging to folks about how he offed his dogs (tied them to a pipe in the basement and shot them with a silencer) and they're going to let this maniac out in the streets after 90 days.

It's not right.

People like that, who have no regard for life, do not belong in society. Nor should they be a drain on society's resources - in other words, we shouldn't have to pay for Mr. Idiot to sit on his butt in prison while I have to go out and work a 9 to 5. Is he learning his lesson? I doubt it. I also firmly believe that his genes should not be passed on, either. My conclusion? Euthanasia. Now, I'm willing to compromise, don't get me wrong. While it would be pleasant to see this man tied to a pipe in a basement and likewise shot, and tossed in a garbage bin, I am fully willing to settle for less.

Castrate the bastard, tie him to a pole, shoot him in several places that won't kill him, and don't give him pain medication. I think that would be far more effective than a 90 day stint in jail. When he's sufficiently recovered, he can perform supervised volunteer work at an animal shelter. Not to have any contact with the dogs - he can clean out the kennels.

Too bad I'm not a judge.

Tuesday, June 23

General Agility Update

Weeeeell.... I took Merlin to my parents' house. Absolutely no problem doing agility there. I'm stumped. Something must have scared him in the backyard one day so that he won't do agility at my house. The only thing I can really think of is the woman next door's grandkids.. Merlin is scared of kids (we're working on it), and her grandkids HANG on our privacy fence and bark at, howl at, and make monster noises at my dogs. I chase them off of there when I see it, but I'm relatively certain the last instance is probably what did it.

If that's truly what it is, it boils my blood. Here I am trying to get this timid little corgi a little more secure and outgoing, and little asshats like that go and blow months of work in a few moments. These are people that do not interact with their dogs at all - no walks, no doggie sports, no trips to the park - they shove them outside each morning regardless of the weather, and let them back in at night and shove them into crates. They are little 20# dogs too.

So for now, we're going to work at my parents' house when possible. One of the guys at BRAG said Merlin and I could come over to work in the building one day in July before our trial, so Merlin could run a course before he has to do it for real. A FABULOUS offer, and idea! So I'm pretty happy about that.

Popper is doing really well in our fun class (and so am I!). I think I understand now what he expects out of me, and I'm trying really hard to provide it. It's just a lot to remember! He wants me to constantly keep moving, I have to let him know at least one obstacle ahead what's coming up next (and position myself appropriately), and keep in mind the little stuff, like if it's too hot for him, and rear crosses into tunnels is still a huge challenge... but we're getting there. The problem with teamwork is we each have our own mind LOL! The hardest part yet for me, though, is where my body position is. I am just not an "aware" person, so it takes a lot of effort for me to try to make it happen. I think that's why I got so frustrated in the handling classes. It's really quite foreign to me to be aware of what every single part of my body is doing at any given point. But I HAVE to get this down, Merlin is far worse than Popper about what a stray hand may be doing, or if I am leaning too far one way... :D

Thursday, June 18

Agility Woes and Yays

So, as you may have read, I'm doing a "fun" dog agility class with Popper this session instead of repeating the handling class we were in. I was having absolutely zero fun, dreaded going to class, and Popper felt my reaction and started being less cooperative and joyful in his runs. I could get maybe one run out of him, and then we were done.

This is our third week in the fun class, which is zero pressure, and after the second week I saw a huge difference. Popper works for me the entire time (although he wouldn't call it work, I'm sure!), and I'm actually sad when class is over. His response to my directions, garbled though they may be, is phenomenal. He's so amazing that I find it hard to believe we've only been doing agility for a year. At our last trial, he only went off and visited during one run instead of both of them. I think before he was getting so stressed (because I was getting so stressed) that he would run off to visit folks. He always comes back, it's just annoying when you're on a speedy course. :) I'm really glad we're taking the class, because there's no point in doing agility if it's not fun.

Merlin is in the "weaves and teeters" class. He could do a full height, ground to ground teeter before even entering the class. I just started him on upright weave poles, too. So passing the class shouldn't be a problem. The problem I am having is, right after we decided he would make his debut at an agility trial in August, he suddenly decided the backyard is an evil place to practice agility in. The inside is fine, but the backyard - no. He'll do the teeter, and anything else is like pulling teeth. He's very intent on agility in class, very aware of my body positions, very eager to do whatever obstacle I tell him to, handles everything like a more seasoned competitor - but in the backyard, he's like a lost little dog that's never seen agility equipment before. I have no idea what happened. I suppose I have to start back at square one to see if I can get anything out of him. I want to pack up some obstacles and take them over to my parents' yard to see if he'll do agility there. The trial is an outdoor one, so I really need him to work outdoors. I'm not expecting much out of him for the trial, being his first one and all, but if I try to run a dog that looks like he's terrified, well, I'll probably get kicked out of the competition. I'll keep updating what's going on with him and our progress...

Tuesday, June 16

FDA Suspends Evanger's Dog Food Permit

From the FDA Website:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today it was suspending the temporary Emergency Permit issued to Evanger's Dog & Cat Food Co., Inc.

Evanger's, operating in Wheeling, Illinois, deviated from the prescribed process, equipment, product shipment, and recordkeeping requirements in the production of the company's thermally processed low acid canned food (LACF) products. The deviations in their processes and documentation could result in under-processed pet foods, which can allow the survival and growth of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum), a bacterium that causes botulism in some animals as well as in humans.

In April 2008, Evanger’s was issued an “Order of Need for Emergency Permit” after the agency determined that the company had failed to meet the regulatory requirements to process a product that does not present a health risk. In June, 2008, FDA issued Evanger’s a temporary Emergency Permit. During inspections conducted between March 2009 and April 2009, FDA determined Evanger’s was not operating in compliance with the mandatory requirements and conditions of the Temporary Emergency Permit.

“The FDA is stopping Evanger's ability to ship pet food in interstate commerce,” said Dr. Bernadette Dunham. “Today’s enforcement action sends a strong message to manufacturers of pet food that we will take whatever action necessary to keep unsafe products from reaching consumers.”

In order for Evanger's to resume shipping in interstate commerce, the company must document that corrective actions and processing procedures have been implemented to ensure that the finished product will not present a health hazard.

Botulism is a powerful toxin that affects the nervous system and can be fatal. The disease has been documented in dogs and cats. Signs of botulism in animals are progressive muscle paralysis, disturbed vision, difficulty in chewing and swallowing, and progressive weakness to the body. Death is usually due to paralysis of the heart or the muscles used in breathing.

While FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is responsible for regulating all human and animal LACF processing, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has authority over animal feed and foods. The two centers are collaborating on this enforcement action.

I buy Evanger's canned food on occasion, because my dogs love it and it's a great food. It just goes to show that nothing is safe these days - but I'm awfully glad the FDA is now keeping tabs on all these pet food companies!

Thursday, June 4

There's hope for Merlin yet!

I managed to cajole a little session out of one of the trainers (a HUGE thanks!!) and we've discovered that Merlin will perform like a pro on those teeters - as long as my hand is on his collar. So, like a daddy teaching his kid to ride a bicycle, I'll hold on for now - and then gradually let go and see how he does on his own.

We've started moving the teeter all around the yard to get him used to change (he's not really big on anything being different!) and so far, so good. I kind of wish I had a second teeter, because it would have a different pivot point than my current one, and he'd get the idea that they're all different.

But we're improving, and I'm happy that I've been shown a way for him to succeed.

I haven't decided if I'm going to take him to Popper's class tonight so we can work beforehand... he was just there yesterday and the day before...

Wednesday, June 3

Merlin Loses his Mojo

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Agility GiftsPoor merbutt. :( We started a new dog agility class last night, it's pretty much just weaves and teeters. I started Merlin on the teeter months ago, if you read his blog, because I knew it would take such a long time to teach it to him. And it did. Lots of time, lots of treats, and a heck of a lot of patience. But he's been doing a full 24" teeter ground to ground for about 3 weeks now, fairly confidently too.

When I sent him up on it in class, he ran straight off it before it hit the ground, and then was scared of it. I'm fairly certain it's because he's never done the teeter there, just the dog walk. And if I recall correctly, Popper did the exact same thing first time he did a teeter there too. We worked through it a bit, and at the end, he was much improved, but still not 100% comfortable on it.

So now I have to somehow get his confidence up to do the teeter in class, because he's still fine with ours at home. I'm just bummed we put in all that hard work, several times a day for MONTHS, and then something like that happened. :( I'm not bummed at Merlin. I feel like there's something I could have done different when we did it in class.

Monday, June 1

Dog Agility Brag!

Dog Agility T-ShirtsYesterday, Popper and I participated in the Wild Weaver's Agility Trial at the BRAG facility. It was very well run and we had a great time!

Popper ran in both Snooker Level 2 and Jumpers Level 1. We've been having issues with "fun" lately, so I was worried about Popper's performance. In our first run, Snooker, Popper had his best run EVER! He was FLYING around those jumps without a problem, not even hesitating at any of my commands. We did have a slight bobble on one weird angle, which was completely my fault because I forgot to swing him out to take it properly. Popper realized what Mom did and corrected for it. :D We got a first place for that run! (I think it may have a lot to do with the fact that I *love* snooker!)

Our second run, Jumpers, Popper did run off to visit twice. But he came back each time, and we still had fun and we still got our Q. Many folks came up afterward to tell us it looked like we were having a blast out there and what a great job we did. I am so extremely proud of Popper I think I could just burst.

We just need Fullhouse and Jackpot to finish off our Level 1 CPE title. Our next CPE trial is at Flashpoint in August.