Where does your dog go when you have to leave him/her during the day?

26 February 2010

American Dog Part 4

Rounding off the top ten dogs of 2009, we have the Dachshund, the Shih Tzu and the Poodle!

(All photos courtesy of www.AKC.org)

#8. Dachshund by Tory

My dog Mud is a Dachshund. So naturally I can see why this breed is in the top 10! They are loyal, playful, good watchdogs, somewhat lazy, and relatively low maintenance. They have very expressive eyes and can be incredibly hard to stay mad at :)

In my experience they are far more trainable and willing to please than people say. That being said, they also have a very determined, stubborn side. We joke that Mud takes himself too seriously and is very political at times. The biggest drawback to this breed for me would be the fact that they are prone to disc disease and spinal injuries. You really do have to be careful to not let them jump off furniture, run down stairs, or become overweight.

No doubt about it, they are always up for an adventure, but don't require a crazy amount of exercise and are not very active indoors. Most of the time they adapt to your mood. If you want to sit and watch TV all day, so be it. If you want to go on a 3 mile walk, they will do that too. They were bred to be athletic, but if you are looking for a daily jogging companion, another breed might be a better choice. They make great family pets but they do become extremely attached to one person. Their biggest concern is being with you, no matter what you're doing. It is important to socialize this breed from an early age. Some Dachshunds have never met a stranger and others are naturally suspicious of people they don't know. (Shyness is considered a fault in the AKC standard).
They also have a very big bark for their size. An intruder would have no idea that the dog behind the door was 10lbs and not 40!

The Dachshund originated in Germany where they were bred to hunt badgers. They come in three coat types; Smooth, Longhair and Wirehair. Wirehairs were developed by mixing smooth Dachshunds with terriers. There are two theories on how Longhairs came to be. One says that smooth Dachshunds were mixed with Spaniels, which would explain why they often have a softer temperament. The other says that it was all done by selective breeding; breeding two Dachshunds that had slightly longer hair than others, and repeating this until they had a steady line of Dachshunds with long hair. Either way, all three have slightly different variations in temperament. Smooths are the most tenacious, Wirehairs are the most clownish and Longhairs are the most mellow. They also come in two sizes; Standard (16-32lbs) and Miniature (11lbs and under) and a multitude of colors.
Whichever "style" of Dachshund you choose, he will truly be your dog and friend for life!

#9. Shih Tzu by Becca

Believe it or not, these little companion dogs were originally bred to resemble lions (and the name Shih Tzu can be translated to 'lion dog'). I myself liken them more to fictional Ewoks with their large, round eyes and endearing under-bites. Regardless, the Shih Tzu's temperament does not typically reflect that of any wild animal, fictional or otherwise. Historically, they were raised as lap dogs for Chinese royalty, and today they remain a very popular companion and pet. While they are not ones to be pushed around, Shih Tzus are also friendly, affectionate, and playful dogs. Their hypoallergenic coats and lesser need for strenuous exercise make them a good candidate for apartment dwellers and those simply looking for a buddy.

One of the defining features of the Shih Tzu is its long, silky coat that can and will grow all the way to the ground. It is important that their coats be combed often or otherwise trimmed down to the popular 'puppy cut' for easier maintenance. They are also known as a brachycephalic, or short-nosed breed. For this reason, Shih Tzus must be monitored carefully when exercising or exposed to excessively hot temperatures to avoid over-heating. While they are not known for being stellar in the obedience ring, Shih Tzus are charming comrades that fit the mold for anyone desiring a dog simply to accompany them in every day life.

#10. Poodle by Tory

I wanted my own poodle for a long time when I was a kid. I dreamed of dying its hair different colors and naming it "Popcorn". But I soon realized I might not be up for spending a lot of time and money on grooming! And unfortunately, Poodles can have a wide range of health problems including heart issues, patellar luxation, dental problems, PRA...in fact...just go here for the full list.

Poodle Health Problems

But just because there is a wide range of health issues in this breed doesn't mean they are sickly by any means. It's just good to be aware of the risks and choose a puppy from a breeder who screens her dogs for health problems.

I think the Poodle personality is one of the best there is, and they are much hardier than their fancy haircuts might imply. They were originally bred to be water dogs and retrievers and are unofficially the second smartest breed in the world (the Border Collie is ranked first).

These are active and atheltic dogs that require daily exercise but are not quite as high energy as some of the other super intelligent breeds. Where they really shine is the obedience ring. They are highly trainable and many were used as circus dogs, as they are capable of learning and performing complex tricks.

The AKC breed standard sates that "the Poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself". They come in three sizes. Standards are especially a good choice for families with children. Toys are great for apartment dwellers or travelers. Miniatures are a nice in between size; more robust than the Toy and more compact than the Standard. All three sizes are great for people who are allergic to dogs, as they have a hypo allergenic coat that does not shed.

25 February 2010

American Dog Part 3

Three B's: The Beagle, Boxer and Bulldog are up next in the top ten most popular breeds of 2009!

(All photos courtesy of www.AKC.org)

#5. Beagle by Tory

The Beagle is a highly sociable, friendly, playful, clever, merry, and good natured little Hound. They generally get along well with everyone and everything, seeing as they were bred to live and hunt in large packs of other hounds. That social nature is wired into them, and can be seen as a positive or a negative depending on your lifestyle. Beagles do best with people who are home during the day or who are able to take their dog with them when they go places. A family with children that includes their dog(s) in outdoor activities would be a Beagle's dream home.

Beagles come in two sizes, 13" and 15". They have a short, easy to care for coat, but it does shed. Their tails are thick, carried high, and have a white tip on the end. It acted as a "flag" for hunters to easily spot them when out hunting. They also have a very loud, "baying" bark and like to express themselves vocally, especially when excited. This was a very helpful trait when hunting; hunters always knew where they were and could tell by their bark if they were on a trail. However, it might not be the best thing if you have sensitive neighbors! Although social, they have an independent mindset. It's not that they aren't trainable, you just have to convince them that they want to do what you're telling them.

As mentioned earlier, they are clever, and if not given enough exercise, they will make up their own games as an outlet for that energy. (Digging, chewing, stealing food and other items for example). Most Beagles would eat until they explode, so it's important not to let them get overweight. Beagle people joke that this breed is "a nose with legs". Their curiosity combined with their excellent sense of smell means that a fenced yard is a must.

The Beagle is overall a hardy breed, but they can be prone to disc disease, several eye conditions (glaucoma, cherry eye, cataracts, PRA) and various other problems. Overall they make fun, extraordinarily cute, compact sized pets and it's easy to see why they are so popular.

#6. Boxer by Tory

Boxers are one of my favorite large breed dogs. They are striking just to look at, but I also love their playful energy, their sense of humor, their wash and wear coats, and the fact that I know I would feel safe walking one! Although willing and capable of defending their owners from danger, most Boxers are anything but aggressive! (But shh...don't let the bad guys know that.)
Boxers were developed in Germany and are so called because of their tendency to play standing on their hind legs while using their front legs to "box", similar to that of a boxer in the ring.

This is a determined, courageous, energetic, intelligent, happy dog that is known for its love of children. They make excellent pets for active families and playful, protective, patient friends for kids. The boxer needs an owner capable of showing strong leadership from the beginning. If a Boxer can't take you seriously, he will find ways to outsmart you. Boxers should be socialized from puppyhood to help prevent dog aggression. They are protective of home and family, bond closely with those they love and are highly trainable, as long as they are treated fairly. They are strong, both in body and spirit, so maybe not the best dog for the timid. This is not a dog to sit at home all day or tied up in the back yard. They crave human companionship and should be included in daily activities.

Because of their pushed in muzzle, care needs to be taken that they do not overheat. They also snore and sometimes drool.

Boxers are prone to bloat, various eye problems, cancer, skin allergies, and hip dysplasia. It is a good idea to meet the parents of your potential Boxer puppy to make sure they have stable temperaments and are free of health problems.

#7. Bulldog by Becca

Whether they own one or not, I'm not sure there is a more popular dog amongst guys in their 20's than the English Bulldog. Maybe it's because of the priceless, goofy face of this breed. Maybe it's because of their happy, playful Bulldog personalities. Maybe it's because they give off some kind of manly image, often serve as the mascot for sports teams, or are owned by numerous celebrities. I personally find the Bulldog's short, compact stature to be very endearing and provoking of hugs. Whatever it is that gives the Bulldog its popular reputation, they have come a long way from the reason they were first bred - to bait bulls in a brutal gambling sport of the past. Today, that sport has thankfully been abolished and the aggressive streaks have been bred out of Bulldogs (although be aware that their stubborn tenacity still prevails, which can make training one of these guys quite the adventure).

They are now most commonly found as household pets. Their medium size and amiable disposition make them a good choice as a companion, but believe me when I say that a Bulldog is not for everyone. First and foremost, Bulldogs are one of the most expensive dogs to purchase as a general rule. This is partly because a female Bulldog rarely delivers her puppies naturally. Due to the aforementioned structure of a Bulldog's body, puppies often have to be delivered by Cesarean section (meaning extra vet bills and risk of the dog's health, etc.). Even if you are able to pay the costs up front for a Bulldog, also be prepared to spend a chunk of change throughout his or her lifetime. They top the list of breeds prone to hip dysplasia, with over half of all Bulldogs suffering from it (and many dogs facing a hip replacement at some point in their life). Allergies, respiratory problems, skin infections (if their wrinkles are not cleaned regularly) and protrusion of the inner eyelid (or 'cherry eye', as it's commonly referred to) are all frequent, if not typical, health issues that can affect a Bulldog. They are also prone to putting on extra weight if not exercised enough, which can lead to other health problems as well. Bulldog owners must also be vigilant about making sure their dogs do not overheat due to their compact facial structure (the official term being brachycephalic).

If you are still confident a Bulldog is what you want after reading the above information, rest assured that not everything about them is negative! They are a popular breed for a reason, and are known for being some of the most loyal companions in the dog world. As you should with any other breed, just do your homework before bringing one home, and support breeders who do the best they can in preserving the health and welfare of their dogs.

Meet Minny & Madeline

I am interrupting our breed countdown to announce that I have new foster puppies this week! Although they look a lot like previous puppies Marvin and Wiley, they are from a separate litter that was found in an abandoned house. Aside from needing time to recover from some health issues that came from their neglect, these girls are full of happy spirits and love to play. They will be up for adoption this Saturday along with a few other littermates.


Madeline, or just plain 'Mad':

23 February 2010

American Dog Part 2

Meet the #3 and #4 most popular breeds of '09: The Yorkshire Terrier and The Golden Retriever.

(All photos courtesy of www.AKC.org)

#3. Yorkshire Terrier by Tory

Yorkies have sky rocketed in popularity, probably partly due to the number of celebrities who own and adore them. They seem to make good surrogate children for a lot of people. My sister has a Yorkie named Ruby and her personality is typical for the breed; she is feisty, outgoing, confident, extremely affectionate, cuddly, brave and devoted. Although small, they are not lacking in big dog attitude and even though they are favored by women, it isn't uncommon for men to fall in love with this breed. The exact origins of the Yorkie are unknown, but they are definitely a tiny terrier, and were bred to kill rats and other small rodents. They retain their terrier like instincts; this is a dog that thinks it's bigger than it really is. The AKC breed standard states that a Yorkie should not exceed 7lbs, however, there are plenty of larger Yorkies out there, and it wouldn't surprise me if sometime in the far off future, the two strains divided into separate breeds.

They are adaptable, and love to go everywhere with their owners, but can be self willed and won't tolerate being ignored. The most important thing to remember when owning a Toy breed is to not let them get away with behaviors you wouldn't allow with a bigger dog. As fun as they are to hold, carrying them absolutely everywhere will more often than not produce a nervous, overly protective animal. It's important to let them be dogs while also watching out for their small size, since they are naturally courageous and may not realize the danger they are in! This breed can do well with kids, but I wouldn't recommend the tiny ones for families with young children simply because they are more fragile and might become snappy in order to defend themselves.

Yorkies are known for their long, silky hair. Most pet Yorkies are kept in a more easy to care for "puppy clip". The extra grooming required for this breed is probably the main thing that would scare me off, but that is a matter of personal preference! Health wise, they are prone to dental problems, heart disease and pateller luxation, among others. They are active, and love outings, but can get most of their exercise indoors and are good for apartment life.

#4. Golden Retriever by Becca

Another popular retriever in the United States is the sweet and affectionate Golden Retriever. Goldens are known for their willing-to-please attitudes and unbeatable companionship, making them an outstanding pet. However, their affection does not stop within the confines of the people who own them - they will likely make friends with anyone who crosses their path. They typically get along with other types of animals as well. Additionally, Goldens are highly trainable, intelligent dogs that thrive in diverse jobs and lifestyles. Golden Retrievers are prevalent service dogs, scent-detection dogs, therapy dogs, and competitors in the ring as well as pets. Their roots as a hunting dog give them many similar characteristics to a Lab - sound nerves, a soft mouth, a love of swimming, close companionship, and the drive to retrieve.

Golden Retrievers also hail from a few different backgrounds, causing variation in size and stature. The English-type of Goldens are stockier with broad heads. They can be any color of gold or cream but shades of red and mahogany are not permissable. Breeders in the states desiring to preserve the wonderful temperament and health of the Golden Retriever will often import dogs from English lines. American-type Golden Retrievers are less stocky and tend to be darker in color. Unfortunately, Goldens have long been a target for puppy mills, back yard breeders, and pet stores, resulting in horrendous over-breeding and carelessness for their health. The outcome is that Golden Retrievers are prone to many health issues, including cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, eye, skin, and joint diseases. This is extremely unfortunate, as Goldens are one of the absolute best companions to have but do run a high risk of physical ailments. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to choose a reputable breeder when purchasing a Golden Retriever.

21 February 2010

American Dog

If dog breeds were put on a TV show and voted on the same way American Idol contestants are, these would be your top ten for 2009:

2009 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Yorkshire Terrier
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle
6. Boxer
7. Bulldog
8. Dachshund
9. Poodle
10. Shih Tzu

From the large and versatile German Shepherd Dog to the small and lovable Shih Tzu, I think it's interesting how diverse the list is. It illustrates how different we are as people and yet there can be a breed for just about anyone who is looking for a dog. Of course, just because a breed is popular doesn't mean it IS right for just anyone, so it's important not to assume that a breed will be a good match for you or that it's easy to keep just because it's common. And unfortunately, many of the breeds in the top ten are suffering from overpopulation. The availability of these popular breeds makes it easy for people to go out and buy the first puppy they see without learning about what that dog was bred to do and what it means to own one. The result is that many, many of these dogs end up in shelters and breed rescues by no fault of their own. At the same time, these 10 breeds are well known and liked for a reason! They are all remarkable in their own way, and being an owner of the #8 breed this year, I can't help but feel a little proud that so many other people feel the same way I do about Dachshunds!

Research is everything when it comes to choosing a dog which is one of the reasons Becca and I thought we would write our own reviews on each breed in the top ten. The other reason would be that we take any excuse to discuss dogs. ;)

We'll be posting two or three at a time over the next week, so feel free to check back!


(All photos courtesy of www.AKC.org)

#1. Labrador Retriever by Becca

The Labrador Retriever has reigned supreme as our nation's most popular dog for 19 years. Not only is this breed exceptionally common in the United States; many people also consider Labs to be the most common purebred dog in the world! As the owner of a Lab mix myself, I can certainly attest to many reasons why they are so popular.

The Lab is a very versatile dog. You have likely seen them serve roles as hunting companions, service dogs, therapy dogs, drug and bomb-sniffing dogs, competing in obedience and other types of competitions, and also as a family pet. Their high food drive and typically happy-go-lucky nature make them a gem to train (although they may require firm handling, as little will faze the jolly Lab - both a blessing and a curse, as far as the breed is concerned). They are playful, friendly, and, as a general rule, have a solid nerve structure. Due to their original purpose as a hunting dog, a typical Lab has a high pain tolerance (as they were bred to run through the brush), a gentle mouth (to better retrieve and carry a kill), and an indifference to loud noises (such as gunfire). Such a winning combination of traits makes the Lab a wonderful family dog, working dog, and companion. But, keep in mind that not all Labradors are created equal (and this is the case with many breeds). Field-line Labs are bred to hunt. They often make better working dogs than pets as they will have an abundance of energy and the drive to work all day long. Show-bred lines are not created with the sole intent to use them as hunting companions, therefore they may better suit families looking for a more laid-back family member. As I have learned firsthand with Gabe, Labs and Lab-mixes love to put anything and everything in their mouth. This is ideal when training your dog to retrieve a toy. However, Lab owners must be vigilant in supervising their dogs; otherwise, they run a high risk of ingesting all sorts of objects and foods, and this can pose a risk to their health.

The earliest Labradors were black in color, but the American Kennel Club now recognizes yellow and chocolate as acceptable coat colors as well. The size of a Lab can vary greatly, ranging anywhere from 55 pounds to over 100 pounds (although the AKC considers anything over 100 pounds to be a major fault in this breed). This is partly due to the existence of the two lines of Labs discussed earlier. Field-line Labs have a lighter frame with longer legs and narrower faces than their show-line counterparts. Show-line dogs are stockier in stature with broad heads and often have a thicker coat. Labradors of both lines have webbed feet and a water-resistant topcoat, making them excellent swimmers. Due to the breed's extreme popularity, potential Labrador owners should take great care in selecting a dog due to the health issues that come with over-breeding.

#2. German Shepherd Dog by Becca

The German Shepherd is said to be one of the most intelligent breeds that exists today. This intelligence, combined with athletic stature, strong protective instinct, and a loyal nature has skyrocketed German Shepherds to immense popularity as both household dogs and as working dogs in the military and police forces. Originally used for herding sheep, they are skilled scent-detection dogs and have also been used as guide dogs for people who are blind. In the intricate protection sport of Schutzhund, German Shepherds prevail. I have even seen German Shepherds become avid swimmers and retrievers. These things truly make them one of the most multifaceted breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Like any other working dog, German Shepherds can vary in appearance depending on what they are bred for. Those bred from show-lines are most commonly tan or red with a black saddle and tend to have a sloped back like the dogs you often see in the show ring. Dogs hailing from working-lines may differ in color from show-lines (such as a more rare color of sable or solid black), and their drive levels and energy can far surpass dogs from show stock. Regardless of background, German Shepherds are highly active dogs that require plentiful exercise. They are also known for being rather vocal, a trait commonly seen in herding dogs as well as something that is desirable when doing protection work. Additionally, due to their protective nature, German Shepherds require diligent socialization and training as they can otherwise become over-protective of their families and territory. Over-breeding of these dogs has unfortunately resulted in some nervous, skittish specimens of the breed. It has also contributed to a high incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia. For these reasons, it is crucial that potential German Shepherd owners select a reputable breeder who strives for healthy dogs with sound nerves.

15 February 2010

People are dogs too. Kind of. Hypothetically.

While talking on AIM tonight, I suggested that Becca take this "What breed of dog are you?" quiz at the same time I was. If you take the quiz yourself, feel free to leave your result here. Here are ours!

What dog breed are you? I'm a Golden Retriever! Find out at Dogster.com

What dog breed are you? I'm a Labrador Retriever! Find out at Dogster.com

12 February 2010

Meet Marvin & Wiley

Recently, I made connections with a rescue called 'A Puppy's Voice' based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Although it is relatively common knowledge these days that adult dog over-population is a major issue our country deals with every year, it might surprise some of you to know that there are shelters where even young puppies face euthanasia on a daily basis. These facilities are poorly funded and yet filled to the brim - literally a lethal combination. So, the volunteers that run rescues like A Puppy's Voice drive to New Mexico every single week to redeem the lives of some of these puppies. They load up as many puppies as they have foster homes for; that is, people who are willing to open up their homes for a few days at a time and host a puppy until they are adopted. The volunteers also hold adoption events every Saturday at a local PetSmart, and they truly have had a wonderful success rate at placing these little guys and giving them a second chance at a happy life.

Upon learning about A Puppy's Voice, I immediately felt compelled to help out with this cause. Fostering is done on a weekly basis, typically for only two or three days at a time. Furthermore, it's a great way for me to get my 'puppy fix' now and then. It gives Gabe a chance to have some other dog interaction while still allowing him to feel like he's number one in my life (not that he's spoiled or anything...). And, he himself came from a situation very much like the ones these puppies are coming from each week, so it's neat to be able to contribute to saving amazing dogs like him. I love being able to give back to the community in this way and hopefully blessing someone else with a best friend and family member.

So, without further ado, meet Marvin and Wiley - two red heeler mix puppies that were plucked from an unfortunate circumstance and now are up for adoption tomorrow!



Here's hoping these little guys are adopted by responsible, caring people tomorrow. (orelseiwillhavetoadoptthemandthenmyparentswillkillme).

09 February 2010

Practically Perfect Products

In the United States, the number of homes that own dogs is growing. According to the American Pet Products Association, over 45 million U.S. homes own at least one dog. This equates to roughly 77 million dogs living in our homes with us!

As this growth has happened, the industry that provides dog owners with products to help care for them has grown too. There are entire Wal-Mart-sized stores dedicated strictly to selling pet products now, and for good reason; last year, Americans spent an estimated 45 billion dollars on pet care and supplies.

So, it’s needless to say that taking a walk around one of these big stores can be overwhelming, especially for a new dog owner. I am going to share about some of our favorite and most useful dog products in hopes that the information will come in handy for some of you.

Starmark toys – I am sure I am slightly biased about these toys, as I know the people who designed and created them. But that is all the more reason to believe me when I tell you how fabulous they are!

Many of the Starmark toys are what is referred to as interactive – meaning they are designed to keep your dog occupied for an extended amount of time and in turn help prevent boredom or anxiety-related behaviors. This is usually achieved by putting some sort of treats or food inside of a toy and then letting your dog figure out how to remove them. Many Starmark products come with an ‘Everlasting treat’ already fixed in the toy, but once your dog has removed that successfully you can opt to buy a re-filler or simply opt to put a different sort of reward inside of it. And, for those of you with dogs like mine that like to destroy their toys, know that these are very durable and puncture resistant!

A turn-off to some dog owners is the price of Starmark – they run more expensive than your average dog toy. But I would much rather spend money up front for something my dog will enjoy that lasts than buy cheap products that are destroyed within minutes (and trust me, it has happened).

Canyon Creek Meat BlastsIf you need another chewing outlet for your dog, this product provides just that. They are made out of chicken liver wrapped in pork skin, therefore being gentler on the stomach than a rawhide. Another plus is they seem to unravel as they are chewed, so choking is much less of a hazard than it is on a bone that comes apart in chunks. Plus, they are very affordable! Tory has found them in a package of ten for $6.00. Her smaller dogs work on one Meat Blast for upwards of 40 minutes – but keep in mind that a larger dog may devour one much more quickly.

Charlee Bear treats – For a trainer like myself, or for anyone working on new behaviors with their dog, a healthy, convenient food reward is essential. I discovered Charlee Bear treats while I was a student at Triple Crown Academy. They are small enough that you don’t have to break them apart for your dog before rewarding. Furthermore, they are only three calories a piece – crucial for the initial stages of training when you are constantly reinforcing desirable behaviors. The only thing that would make these treats better would be if they came in a soft form, so that dogs did not have to chew them even for a moment (which is also helpful while training). Charlee Bear treats come in three flavors – and Gabe has enjoyed every single one.

Furminator – I am a sucker for furry dogs. I am also a sucker for blond dogs. Gabe fits the mold perfectly, but most of the time I end up completely covered in his light-colored hair. Thankfully, a craze called the Furminator hit the nation a few years ago and has provided a very effective way to groom and de-shed your dog from home. It’s borderline insane how much hair this brush helps remove from the undercoat while still leaving the topcoat intact. Probably the only thing I don’t enjoy about it is that it causes fur to become filled with static, and then that hair sticks to everything once it’s removed. But hey, if it’s going to fall out anyway, you might as well get it in one attempt!

Buddy Wash Dog Shampoo and Conditioner by Cloud Star – This is a recommendation from Tory. It is an all-natural product that has never irritated her dogs’ skin in any way while also eliminating any static, dry skin, or leftover residue. She suggests the conditioner as well, even for a short-coated dog. Her favorite feature about this product is how it smells – particularly the Lavender & Mint scent. Its pleasant fragrance lasts for several days after a bath and she could not imagine using a different product to bathe her dogs with!

Kuranda Beds - If you have ever had the 'pleasure' of trying to wash some of the various plush dog beds that exist out there, you've likely realized that: a. they either do not fit well in a washing machine or b. they have a removable cover that is nearly impossible to re-fit to the bed once washed. Kuranda beds are easily washed off with a rag or a hose. Their elevated design provides optimum support for dogs' backs, and they are a lot more difficult for a dog to chew up than a plush bed. Furthermore, if your dog is ever boarded or left outside during the day, this type of bed is excellent to keep your dog warm (or cool) and dry. They're slightly awkward to assemble (although, let's be honest here - when have I ever been good at assembling things?); however, if I can do it, anyone can. Don't let it scare you away from trying one.

I hope this information has been helpful. And, we would love to hear about any other products that you and your dog cannot live without!

05 February 2010

I am the Jonas Brothers

I know I can speak for Becca when I say my dogs inspire me daily ('dog' in Becca's case). They motivate me. From the simplest things such as getting up in the morning to more "challenging" things like getting exercise, not being afraid of the dark, and putting someone's needs before mine. They make me smile and laugh and think outside of myself.
In fact, I really don't get how people get through the day without at least one dog of their own. If you are dogless, you are missing out on having someone who is always excited to do the most boring errands with you. You probably don't feel like the coolest person in the world just for walking in your house after being gone for two minutes. You don't have a valid excuse for talking to yourself when you're home alone. Sorry, but you don't. I bet you don't have a friend who is ALWAYS as equally eager to go for a walk with you as they are to take a nap with you. You don't have a personal bodyguard (aka 'alarm system') that is constantly watching out for your safety (even when you don't need it). Most importantly, when you spill food, you actually have to go to the closet, get your vacuum cleaner out and clean it up yourself. If you weren't dogless, that job would be done for you in less than 10 seconds. No hassle of a vacuum required.

A dog of your own would make you feel 10 times more talented, loved, popular, heroic and better looking than you feel now.

You see, if you had a dog, you would be more famous in his eyes than the Jonas Brothers...just because he's your dog.

So, here is an introduction to our #1 fans; our dogs. We'll start with Becca's Gabe, followed by my two, Mud and Cinderella.


Dog's Name: Gabe

Breed: Lab mix with a little bit of Husky, Chow, and German Shepherd

Age: 2.5 years

Sex: Neutered male

Where did you get Gabe? He was rescued from a kill shelter in Sedalia, Missouri, taken care of in a foster home, and then adopted by me through Second Chance Rescue in Kansas City.

What made you choose him? It was an interesting situation. I had been looking for a puppy for some time, but I was only interested in a female and I wanted a herding breed. The dog I would adopt and raise was going to be my 'demo dog' that I would take to dog training school with me and use as sort of a walking business card. So, I wanted to be sure to get an active, friendly, smart dog that people were drawn to. I had been given some advice not to get a dark-colored dog, as some people are scared of them and you want a demo dog that is easily approached by others.

Gabe and his brother were the most beautiful blond color, and something immediately melted inside of me when I saw them for the first time. I knew a lot less at that time than I do now about choosing a dog, but if you honestly want to know what I think, God was on my side, even in something like choosing a puppy! My criteria of 'female herding dog' flew out the window, and I decided to choose one of those boys. I observed the two of them playing together, and Gabe seemed to be less assertive out of the two. And, he had the most precious little flopped over ears! I was sold, and went home with a male retriever mix - something totally unexpected but that turned out to be the BEST thing for me!

How did you name him? Since I had originally been searching for a female puppy, I didn't have very many male dog names that I had been considering seriously. But, once I had signed the adoption papers and we were on our way home, I started to think through names that might be good. I wanted something that was not common for a dog and that wasn't too many syllables. 'Gabe' came to mind in the midst of that and it just kind of stuck.

What's your favorite physical feature on him? I think Gabe is perfect from tail to nose (I am SO incredibly biased, sorry) but his ears are definitely a winning attribute. They are extremely expressive; as my dad puts it sometimes, Gabe's ears 'tell a story'. There is the most awesome crimpy hair that grows from behind his ears, too - I get asked from time to time if I am the one who crimps it! Let it be known that Gabe is all-natural :)

What's your favorite personality trait? I'm not sure I have ever owned or even met another dog as goofy as Gabe. He's an absolute clown. Even though it got us into trouble on a few tests at school and even in daily life from time to time, he brings a smile and a laugh to my day unlike anything else in my life. I call him my sunshine.

If Gabe was a person, what would he have been like in High School? Definitely the one stirring up the classroom. The ring-leader. A bit of a show-off that gets away with it because he's funny and charming.

What advice/tips would you give to someone who wanted a breed similar to Gabe? Gabe is a pretty high-maintenance dog. He thrives on daily exercise - I usually try to walk him 60 minutes on most days. His mind is also very active, so he needs a lot of training to fulfill that area of his personality. And, if you have a hard time keeping food up high and locked away, a dog like Gabe will constantly be finding handouts that were not meant to be his. And, while all dogs need a lot of attention, dogs similar to him are certainly on the top of that list. Gabe is very pack-oriented and doesn't really care where he is as long as it's with me.

Dog's Name: Mud

Breed: Longhaired Miniature Dachshund

Age: Almost 4

Sex: Male

Where did you get Mud? From a breeder in Oregon.

What made you choose him? I had wanted a Dachshund for a long time. I was still living at home and was dating my now husband, Phil, who was in a touring band at the time. I had been wanting a purebred puppy of my own to possibly show and had narrowed it down to a Longhaired Dachshund because they are supposedly the calmest and sweetest of the 3 coat varities. Phil and I planned on making this "our" puppy, the one we would take with us when we eventually got married. So we visited several breeders and saw many puppies. I kept searching until I found an ad for Mud on the internet. My parents and I drove 5 hours to visit Mud and the rest of his litter when he was 6 weeks old. The breeder was great and Mud was the most curious and confident in the litter without being overly dominant. We paid for him but couldn't pick him up for another week. It turned out to be perfect timing because Phil happend to be home from tour the day we went to pick up Mud, and he was home for Mud's first week of life with me, so they completely bonded. To this day, Phil is Mud's ultimate favorite.

How did you name him? After we paid for him at the breeder's in Oregon, my parents and I stopped at a restaurant on the way home and I ordered a mud pie dessert. The colors of it were just like the puppy I had just picked out and my mom suggested naming him Mud Pie. I also used to have a stuffed animal dog I called "Mud" when I was little, and he totally reminded me of that! So floppy and cuddly. So it stuck.

What's your favorite physical feature on him? His big paws and blue cartoon eye top the list

What's your favorite personality trait? I love how chill he usually is. I've never had a dog so mellow and soulful. He is also somewhat dramatic at times. I honestly love everything about him, he is my dream come true dog.

If Mud was a person, what would he have been like in High School? I think he'd be the mysterious loner. People would like him, but he wouldn't give them a whole lot of attention, unless they were his closest friends :)

What advice/tips would you give to someone who wanted a Dachshund? Because they are prone to back injury and disc disease, you must be willing to change a few things about your lifestyle. You cannot let this breed jump off of high surfaces (no couches or beds) and you cannot let them get overweight. Make sure you really want a dog that centers his life around you. They are intensely devoted to the ones they love.

Dog's Name: Cinderella

Breed: Cocker Spaniel/Miniature Schnauzer Mix

Age: 6 months

Sex: Female

Where did you get Cinderella? We got her from an ad in the online paper. She was an "accident" but accidents will always happen and every dog needs a home! So I didn't have a problem buying her, because I knew I wasn't supporting someone trying to make money for the wrong reasons.

What made you choose her? We wanted a friend for Mud and after researching and researching, there just didn't seem to be any purebreds that were perfect for our situation. Something of a certain size, trainable, healthy, calm enough to fit Mud's energy level, easy to groom etc. So I was keeping my eyes open for some kind of mix to come along and saw Cinderella. Neither the cocker or the schnauzer would've fit into our lives at this time as well as the mix of the two would!

How did you name her? We actually changed her name about 5 times during the first 3 weeks of her life with us. It went from Eclair to Tar to Shelby and others. We were embarrassed each week at puppy class to admit we had re-named her again. We finally settled on Cinderella for.. some... reason? I guess partly because it doesn't fit her at all :)

What's your favorite physical feature on her? Her eyes are lighter brown than a lot of dogs, so they are interesting to me. And her coat because it's non-shedding and easy to groom!

What's your favorite personality trait? Her gullible, happy side. She doesn't take herself seriously at all, which is a complete contrast to Mud...

If Cinderella was a person, what would she have been like in High School? The bashful, yet bubbly girl who asks a lot of questions. Maybe even a cheerleader.

What advice/tips would you give to someone who wanted a breed similar to Cinderella? Schnauzers and Cockers are sensitive to voices and moods. If you get a breed that likes to learn, be prepared to fulfill that side of them! She loves learning tricks and is extremely food motivated..which also means we have to be very careful not to leave things out that she will eat. She puts everything in her mouth, which I'm sure is a Spaniel trait, as they are often retrievers. Make sure you won't mind a dog that is very curious and wants to be involved in absolutely everything you do!

01 February 2010

Let's Start at the Very Beginning...

I'm not known for being an opinionated person. Rather than take sides on many issues, I tend to stick with the middle ground or represent diplomacy.

However, when it comes to dogs, I find myself with a lot to say. Frequently, there are stories, advice, and ideas pertaining to dogs that I feel like I could talk about for hours - at least, if anyone is out there to listen. So, you can imagine how delighted I am to have friends like Tory; friends who share in my passion and interest and never get sick of talking about it! Even though she lives far away from me, we frequently connect to share our common ground with one another.

It is for these reasons that we decided to launch this blog. A project to work on together, a way to share with others while furthering our own knowledge of dogs, and a tribute to the creatures that we both love so much. We hope you will read and learn along with us too!

For starters, here's a little about us - in the form of an interview!

Tory's interview:

1. Describe your first dog: I was actually born into a family of 4 Australian Shepherd mixes. They were a mom, dad brother and sister. The two puppies were only 1 when I was born so I grew up with them as if they were my siblings! Most of the time I thought I was one of them. I would get in their dog houses with them, eat cereal in a bowl on the floor next to them when they would eat dog food, come running when my mom whistled etc. They all lived to be at least 18.

2. How did you first get involved working with dogs? Really just from being raised with them. I've had a total of 13 dogs in my life so far. My mom taught me most of what I know, as well as books. I was into dog books from the time I could read. I got enrolled in dog 4-H when I was 10 and that's where I got more formal training on how to handle dogs.

3. Do you have a favorite breed? Why? I like different breeds for different reasons but overall I'd have to say Dachshund. Why? Because they turn me to putty.

4. Describe your current dogs: Mud is loyal, devoted and mellow. Cinderella is happy, curious and playful

5. What would be your dream job? I don't really know, I have too many interests. Someday I think being a stay at home dog mom would be pretty ideal.

6. In your opinion, what is one piece of advice every dog owner should adhere to? You can never know everything about dogs, so always be open to learning

7. What's your favorite dog sport? Conformation. I have always been totally fascinated by purebred dogs. I love the art of conformation showing, the way it feels to gait a dog around a ring and free stack. I just have so much appreciation for purebreds and I love very "typey" looking dogs. I love that when you go to a dog show, the popular breeds like goldens and labs look completely different than the ones you see just walking down the street!

8. What do you envy most about dogs? Their athletic ability and the way they can defend themselves. I wish I could be really scary when needed!

9. Who is your favorite celebrity dog? I think it's a tie between Old Yeller and Chance.

Becca's interview:

1. What's your favorite breed of dog?: It's so hard to choose! But I am a sucker for Retrievers and a lot of herding breeds. My purebred dream dog would be a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, but I am pretty crazy about dog rescue, so the chances of owning one are somewhat slim since they are relatively rare as a breed. Additionally, I LOVE mutts! I love how one-of-a-kind they are and some of the perks of owning one.

2. What's your favorite dog sport?: Definitely agility. It's super fun to watch and also to do! It's especially neat when you see a dog competing that really loves running a course. Really, to see a dog doing anything they love is a joy.

3. Tell me about your first dog: She was a Dalmatian named Princess. It was a dream come true for me, since I totally went through a 'Dalmatian phase' like so many kids do. But knowing what I do now, I'll probably never own one again. She was very high-strung, territorial and did suffer from being half-deaf, a common trait seen in Dalmatians. Didn't stop us from loving her though.

4. What was the most eye opening thing you learned at Triple Crown Dog Academy?: Again, almost impossible to choose just one thing. Probably one of the most fundamental things I took away from my experience was simply knowing how crucial baby steps are when you are training a dog. If you want your dog to hold a down stay while you are standing 30 feet away and your friends are doing cartwheels and throwing tennis balls for other dogs, you have a lot of baby steps to work up to that point. Initially, your dog may only stay in position for 2 seconds with little or no distractions. You have to first focus on rewarding for those successes, no matter how small. Then, maybe the next time around you aim for 3 or 5 seconds. You can't skip a step, because you have to build off of the block you previously conquered with your dog in the last training session. It's definitely a great way to practice patience!

5. What do you envy most about dogs? I think the amount of sleep they get is to die for! I would love to be able to lounge and nap all day, and also to be able to fall asleep so quickly like a dog! Then again, it would also be great to have their energy and stamina when they go for a run...

6. Who is your favorite celebrity dog? That depends on what we're basing it off of! I've always thought Murray from 'Mad About You' was a really cute dog. But sentimentally, Benji and Lassie get me every time. There's also a dog named Kuma that's in commercials and movies that looks a lot like my dog, Gabe. It automatically gets him about 2 million points :)

7. How did you first get involved working with dogs? I was always crazy about dogs, volunteering at the animal shelter, pet-sitting, and teaching our dogs the tricks I could think of off the top of my head. My formal learning started by enrolling in dog 4-H. I gained some further experience training and learned some of the ropes of showing dogs.

8. Describe your dog, Gabe, in 3 words: Cute, loving, goofy.

9. What would be your dream job? There are several jobs that sound pretty appealing to me - training service dogs is high on my list. There is something so beautiful about the way a dog can give a person with a disability a better independence in life, not to mention an unbeatable companion. I would love to be a person who facilitates those matches.

10. In your opinion, what is one piece of advice every dog owner should adhere to? A dog needs physical stimulation, mental stimulation, and communication to live a fulfilled life. A dog's owner is responsible to provide these things!!

Tory is going to introduce our dogs in the next post, so be sure to check back!