Monday, November 30, 2009

I WANT YOU TO SHOW ME

When the rock and roll group known as Foreigner made the song “I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS” popular back in the 80’s, obviously they were writing about the human kind of love. They were looking for someone to show them what love is. I wonder if they found their answer. For as long as man lives, he may never know what REAL love is because for some, it comes with too many conditions. Sure many people have forever love relationships. But even those have suffered their ups and downs while participating in what we call living. Sometimes one person might give 90% and the other one gives 10%. And then the next year it might be the other way around. It’s all about give and take. It’s never this way with the dog. He gives love 100% of the time.....no questions asked, nothing expected in return which means no conditions. His only requirement is that you just show up each day.

It’s not unheard of to hear a person who owns a dog say that he and his dog have formed a bond or an attachment to one another. Even more common to hear is someone saying that their dog is their best friend. Have we attached human emotions that we feel to our dogs? Do dogs really feel emotions or do they respond to their human owners by instinct?

The dictionary defines emotions as a heightened feeling – a strong feeling about somebody or something. Instinct is described as a biological drive – an inborn pattern of behavior characteristic of a species and shaped by biological necessities such as survival and reproduction.

The limbic system of the brain is the location of emotionally charged memories. An animal that is traumatized shows many of the same physiological signals in the brain as a human who has been traumatized with the same symptoms. An animal can show the same behavioral and physiological signs of depression as a human does. So similar are these signs that vets have prescribed human drugs for animal’s emotional and behavioral problems, such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. The animal’s chemical neurotransmitters are the same as humans. Their hormones are similar. The same hormones perform the same functions – oxytocin, for example initiates maternal bonding of tenderness, affection and protectiveness that all mammal species feel, including humans. We can interpret this to mean that the tenderness or grief over the loss of a loved one is real whether it’s felt by a human or an animal. The distress or pain of a baby of any species, the need to nurture and protect this young one evokes a motherly response across all the animal kingdom.

Dogs are considered social animal’s comfortable living in a pack. Therefore, it is necessary for them to use their intelligence and instincts to survive and maintain order. They learn to interact in their pack, and respect their pack leader who is considered the alpha dog.

Living among humans, the dog has adapted to his owner as being the alpha or leader. Some might say that the dog acts out of instinct towards his human leader. This is where he gets his food and shelter. But if given the same equal amount of food and shelter from someone else, they would still want to stay with the original owner because of the emotional bond with this person. So could one conclude then that the dog acted out of emotions rather than instinct?

The dog stands out among other domesticated animals for he is perhaps the only one that is fully domesticated of the different species. H.Hediger, the director of the Zoological Gardens of Zurich, writes that the dog, basically a domesticated wolf, was the first creature with which humans formed intimate bonds that were intense on both sides. He continues that no other animal stands in such intimate psychological union with us; only the dog seems capable of reading our thoughts and “reacting to our faintest changes of expression or mood.” So one must never forget that a dog is really a wolf and his instincts are that of a wild animal, but one that has allowed man to become part of his world. This is something that no other wild animal would ever do, even when they seem in some ways to trust and respect man.

Another fascinating fact about the dog is that no other species of animals has shown that it prefers the company of man to that of his own species. If given a choice, the dog would choose man.

Samuel Coleridge was one of the first to note that “the best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter….may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to him….may become traitors to their faith….The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.”

One emotion that all animals have in common is the emotion of fear. It is after all the emotion that’s most important to survival. And what about the emotions that some say that dogs display? Dogs have been known to whine and carry on hysterically when left alone. When their owner returns, they show joy by circling around and around, tail wagging happily and jumping up to plant a sloppy kiss on his cheek. One dog will show jealousy when you are petting another dog by pushing his body between the two of you so he’ll get all your attention. What about the dog that has been abused and beat up? Is it fear that we see in his big sorrowful brown eyes when someone raises a hand or voice around him? Is it fear when his body involuntarily begins to quiver and shake? Then there’s the issue of forgiveness. If the dog is shown the least bit of kindness from a new person, his great big heart will shower the new person with an abundance of affection forgetting it was a person who caused him so much pain to begin with. And what about grief? Do you think a dog can feel this emotion? Is it grief he feels when his owner has died and he no longer feels the comfort of his hand stroking his neck? Is it grief a mother dog feels when her litter of puppies dies at two weeks old from a virus? She searches unsuccessfully to find them and she physically becomes sick? Emotions or instinct?

Scientists like to avoid this subject pertaining to dogs and emotions. After all, emotions are contributed to the human being and isn’t this what sets the human apart from the dog?
To say that the dog could experience emotions that were only considered a human feeling would change everything we were taught to believe. Aren’t we “way up here” and they’re way down there?” Aren’t we at the top of the hierarchy of the animal kingdom?

One thing is for certain, anyone who owns a dog knows that man could never love completely, totally and unselfishly as a dog does. The dog is incapable of holding grudges. There’s purity to his love. He loves blindly. It is rare for a human to love with so much abandonment and forgiveness as a dog. The author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson wrote in his book “Dogs Never Lie about Love” that “dogs are love.” So the question shouldn’t be whether dogs love, but rather how they can love with such a complete and enormous surrender of self.

The love humans feel for one another can turn to hate and distrust when the first blush of affection subsides. Sometimes loving someone doesn’t survive through a growing friendship when one is truly known. When the true person is revealed, is when the emotions felt for another is tested. For a person to love someone who has done them wrong is very difficult. The dog loves a person no matter if his true colors show deceit, weaknesses or unkindness. This is probably the biggest reason we call our dogs our best friends, because we know when it comes to love, our canine friends are the teachers and we become the students. Their love for us is constant. It doesn’t change. It always remains the same.

This is why man loves his dog so much. The dog loves him no matter what the scale shows his weight to be, no matter how old he is, no matter what mood or disposition he’s in – tired, weak, strong, indifferent or foul of temperament. Many a person carries on a conversation with their dog. The dog seems to sense when he is sad, or glad. They respond to his every mood. They listen to him when no one else cares to. Man never fears being judged the fool. His dog thinks he’s wonderful just the way he is. The dog then has an amazing capacity for an unlimited amount of love towards his master which comes naturally to him. This is perhaps why the man and his dogs love and affection lasts a lifetime. This is the kind of love that humans hope to have with each other, but sadly most only experience in the movies.

As science looks more in to the study of dogs and emotions, there are uncomfortable issues that we face about our domesticated friends. We are forced to face as a society what part we play in the treatment of these animals that are born with the capability to soften even the most hardened heart. For if indeed, our dogs have emotional feelings similar to mans, what does this say about how man treats these creatures? After all, not all dogs are domesticated and pampered. Some live their lives in cages, while others are used for experimentation. Some are bred every season; some from their first season to their last and then when they are all used up, they’re destroyed.

A few years ago, I heard someone say that love is a verb; an action. Anyone can say I love you. It’s simple enough. It’s just words. But to show someone we love them is a whole other story. It is in our actions that we show who we are. The dog can’t talk and say those three little words (I love you), but boy oh boy he’s got the market cornered on how to show you that he loves you. His body speaks volumes for a creature that can’t verbalize his feelings. He can however, whine and cry as he tries to express to you his excitement in seeing you walk into a room. Isn’t this the stuff that the great romance writers write about in their novels pertaining to a man and a woman’s love for one another?

So then what can be concluded about this most unselfish of animals known as the domesticated dog? If he can feel emotions like man who experiences love, grief, loss, jealousy, fear, and joy, should he be any less recognized and respected? Because man has superior intellect it should stand to reason that we would treat the dog who shares a similar emotional make-up to us with dignity and care. For the loving heart of a dog is ours for the taking to do with as little as we want or as much as we like. Treat it with care. Man has to do very little to be treated like a king in the dog’s eyes. What did we ever do to deserve such devotion and unlimited love and affection? How did we ever reach the highest level of love in this wonderful creature’s heart? Many times we don’t deserve it, but it is what it is and how did we get so darn lucky anyway?

So at the end of each day when I’m counting my blessings, my dogs are high up on my list of those that I am thankful for having in my life!

My rating: the love of a dog – no special requirements needed: (4), the love of a person: (1 – 4) depending on different circumstances!

Friday, November 27, 2009

ALL BY MYSELF.......SEPARATION ANXIETY


In my opinion, there are different degrees of separation anxiety and different ways that owners can cope with it. The German Shepherd is a people (or his master’s) dog. Because he is a pack animal his need to be with you is even stronger than let’s say the average household cat. He is the happiest when he’s with his owner. Nothing pleases him more than being with you. When he needs to be away from you due to hospitalization, showing, breeding, or even when you go out to the store and leave him behind, he suffers some sort of separation anxiety. Depending upon the nature of the dog (easy going, hyper, etc.) will determine how well he handles being away from you.

I must say that I never dealt with this condition myself with any of my dogs EXCEPT a couple of times that they got into the garbage can in the kitchen and turned it upside down! I have talked to other people who have dealt with this problem and its not any fun. Dogs that have this condition can become very destructive. Furniture, rugs, drapes, etc. have been destroyed by some dogs who suffer separation anxiety. I had to laugh when researching this topic. Someone suggested getting this type of dog another dog to help calm his fragile nerves. Yeah, right so the second dog can follow what dog number one is doing and they can tear up your house together! You open up the door to your house and surprise; nothing is still standing except the now two destructive dogs happily wagging their tails because “mommy” is home!

What causes this type of dog to suffer separation anxiety? There are a few theories. Some said it can be heredity. Others say many times it’s the alpha dog that may do this because he doesn’t like seeing part of his pack leaving without him. He has no one to be the boss over any longer. And then others say it is a lack of socialization and training on the owner’s part. Whatever the reason, the result is still the same and unless you have lots of excess money to spend replacing your belongings, the smartest solution is to train the destructive dog. A suggestion was made to try to use another door that you normally leave the house from and return to. The reason being is that a dog is a creature of habit. This might confuse him……..for awhile!

Some suggest leaving a radio on similar to what some of us breeders do for puppies to keep them company. Others sedate their dog and still others leave the dog in the crate while they are out. Leaving a dog in the crate that has separation anxiety can make him even more nervous to deal with. He is now totally confined and even more confused. Leaving him toys that have food in it to help distract him while you’re gone also was suggested.

The dog that is a kennel dog when left alone will usually pace up and down his kennel run barking and making a lot of commotion. Hopefully you live in a rural area where his annoying barking won’t bother anyone. Take a look at a dog in a kennel. If you open your door or look out your window and the dog sees you, what does he do? The majority of the time he becomes excited and starts to pace up and down or jumps up on the fence in hopes that you’ll see him and bring him in the house with you.

Look at a dog that is normally good in the house that doesn’t destroy anything when you leave. Even these dogs when you return act like you’ve been away for a hundred years. You are greeted with a very happy dog who welcomes your return with a tail that never stops wagging with an anxious, happy expression on his face.

Separation anxiety has caused so much aggravation to the owner of the dog that it is not unheard of that he takes the animal to the vet to be put down. If the owner hasn’t taken the time to train her dog, than in my opinion this is the lazy way to deal with the dog. I believe you owe it to your dog to properly train him before you resort to such drastic measures.

I also want to mention here my feelings about dogs that are sent away to be trained and conditioned for dog shows. Again this is my opinion and you may say I’m wrong and that’s alright because I’m going to say it anyway. I feel SOME dogs may be more suited for this than others. It is my feeling that ANY dog no matter what his temperament is like will still be a bit anxious in new surroundings perhaps with strange dogs barking in the runs next to him. He’s not in the house with you, but somewhere where nothing is familiar to him. Oh his temperament is good and he’ll adjust, but no one can make me believe that even this good natured dog doesn’t feel a little bit homesick for his owner and the environment that he is used to living in. No trainer or handler has the time to put into your dog the special things that you do with him. The dog is there for one purpose……training or conditioning. The trainer or handler has many other clients’ dogs to work with as well. He’ll put more time into training or conditioning your dog…..that’s why the dog is there, but he doesn’t have the time to give the dog the special love that only you give to him. I know that some dogs love their handlers, but he is still away from home and yes, “there is no place like home!”

Sometimes a dog needs to be boarded because you are on vacation. The dog’s feeding schedule may be different. Perhaps you feed your dog at 5 p.m. and the place that is taking care of your dog feeds him at 6 p.m. Well you and I know what it’s like around our houses when it’s our dogs supper time. In my house, my dog starts to whine and pace about an hour or so before her scheduled time of feeding. Imagine your dog in his new temporary place and they feed at a different time. He might be whining and pacing for a couple of hours.

I have heard some of the horror stories of dogs climbing fences, dogs escaping or dogs bloating that have lost their lives because they weren’t found in time. I feel if a dog bloats when he’s away, it’s because this dog was stressed. Again, you can disagree with me, but I feel that there is a connection between stress and a dog bloating. Naturally a dog can bloat for other reasons as well, but in some cases, I feel the dog was stressed.

German Shepherds who have good strong nervous systems should be able to cope with most anything. That’s why they are used in the military, the police department, search and rescue, etc. But these dogs are doing work with their masters so they have lots of one on one interaction with them. Many times these dogs live with their trainers to form a strong bond with them.

So dogs can and do have separation anxiety whether they are this way in their homes or they are away with someone else taking care of them. Some have this problem because of a poor nervous system but I believe that all dogs when separated from their owner have some sense of temporary loss not being with their master.

My rating: training and socialization of your dog: (4)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MY LINES? SURELY YOU JEST?

Well yesterday’s blog certainly generated a lot of conversation. Some chose to answer on this blog, others through different e-mail lists and then many to me personally. Unfortunately some of the best responses are sent to me personally and I wish I could share them with everyone as they are normally very informative. However, because some people name names, I can understand their hesitance in sharing some of their e-mails to the public for fear of offending others.

One of the letters I received asked me if I would write an article about the health problems in the breed. She was wondering why we breeders are not more willing to share health problem issues with one another. She, like many others feel it would be very beneficial if we knew the problems in some blood lines so we could make better judgments when choosing breeding partners for our animals. She asked me why breeders are not willing to share this information with one another. My answer to her (of course my opinion)……MONEY! But on further reflection, I still say that that is the number one reason, BUT there can be other reasons as well. Those reasons can be because of friendship with the stud dog or bitch owner. It could be fear of talking about someone’s dog and having them never talk to you again. I can hear people saying right about now, “Well friendship should have nothing to do with honesty in breeding.” You would think. Try telling that to the person whose dog you will be talking negatively about.

Lets say you breed to your friends dog. You have high hopes for the litter. Like usual, it looks so darn good on paper. The pups are born. Within the first few weeks, you see puppies who are throwing up after nursing. You’ve never dealt with this before. Right away you are thinking (and rightfully so); you have some puppies with mega esophagus. So you tell your friend who owns the stud dog about this. She tells you that so far he hasn’t produced it with any other bitches. So obviously this was a bad combination with her stud and your bitch. So now you are stuck with a litter of genetically sick puppies. Now do you go telling your other breeder friends about this knowing you may ruin the future stud services on your friend’s dog? Some of you may be saying, “Well that stud dog shouldn’t be bred if he is producing genetic health problems.” Do you risk the anger of your friend or maybe even lose the friendship by telling people the health problems of your litter? Yup, I know there are those of you saying, “Well, if you lose the friendship because of dogs then it wasn’t a very good friendship to start with.” And yes that’s the right way to think about it, but we’re talking about MONEY here and people can do crazy things because of it!

Alright then you breed your bitch to a stud dog that isn’t owned by a friend. The breeder is well known. You get a litter with a bunch of bad temperaments. You tell the stud dog owner. She tells you, “Oh that must be your bitch’s line. My dog is known for the good temperament that he produces. That’s not in my lines!” You tell her your bitch and her father and mother before her are therapy dogs and go into hospitals to be with the sick. She screams at you saying, “Not my problem!” and hangs up on you. This is not the type of communication you were hoping for. This is not honesty among breeders. There can be no honesty if BOTH parties are not willing to take responsibility for their bloodlines. You may breed that bitch again (some would not) and she may never produce the problem with different stud dogs. BUT, realize that her puppies and their puppies will carry her gene and the same health problem can come up in future generations.

If breeders are not willing to acknowledge the problems in their lines (and they all have them), then what is the unsuspecting honest breeder to do? If you don’t get the help from the stud dog owners and people don’t want to tell you the problems that they got with their litters, we continue to breed blindly and end up having a cesspool of genetically unhealthy dogs that not only affect this generation, but generations down the line. These genetically inferior dogs are not like breeding for better pigment that you can correct in one or two generations. Their ugly little heads with pop up time and again, if we are unknowledgeable about the lines that we are breeding to.

Will we correct the health problems in our breed? Well in my opinion……not anytime soon! As long as money is involved with the breeding of dogs, you will find that many (not a few) will continue breeding with their heads in the sand because of the almighty buck! If word gets out that their stud dog produces health problems than no one will want to breed to their dog and lost stud services equal lost money. If word gets out that a bitch produces health problems, then no one will want to buy her puppies. No puppy sales equal no money!

So right about now, if you’ve read this far, there are those of you who are saying, “We’re supposed to be breeding to better the breed because we love the German Shepherd Dog.” Yup, and you’d be right again. That’s because you are one of the more conscientious breeders who truly does love the breed. I’m not going to say that there are not a lot of people like you out there because I just don’t know. What I do know is that anytime that money is involved, it can bring out the worse in some people. Some people are looking for prestige and acknowledgement from their fellow breeders. They would have you believe that their lines are free from all faults except maybe a long coat or two every once in a while. So then, where is all the health problems’ coming from if no one admits to their lines producing them?

When you call up a stud dog owner, do you ask them about the health problems or faults that their dog is producing? Are they admitting to any? How about in their blood lines? What problems are behind them? Are they willing to talk to you about them? Be weary if all you hear is about that cute little long coated puppy or the lighter pigmented puppy as the only thing undesirable that they have produced! These are things that can be easily corrected. Health problems are not. On the other side of the equation, how many stud dog owners ask the bitch owner, what faults has she produced or discussed your bitch’s bloodlines with you? I have personally NEVER had a stud dog owner ask me about the genetic problems in my bitch’s line!

Strictly looking at the German Shepherd Dog you see a “hardy” healthy looking dog. But is he really? I mean he’s big and hunky looking. He’s a brave looking dog. But what blood flows through his veins? What genes will he carry to future generations? Eventually the dirt will come out in the wash. People do talk and some don’t care if they lose a friendship or not. They don’t care if you lose stud services or if you can’t sell your puppies. These are the dedicated breeders who are willing to step up to the plate and say, “Look, these bloodlines didn’t blend well together because I got this problem or that problem.” They know why they’re in the breed……improvement, improvement, improvement! Their egos are not that fragile that they are concerned whether you breed to their dogs or buy their puppies. They love what they do and most importantly they love and cherish this breed and want it to be around for many generations to come. These are the TRUE breeders of the German Shepherd Dog! Every line produces it's share of problems. There is no sin in that. The sin is denying that they do!

My rating: breeders concerned with health problems: (4), breeders concerned with making a buck no matter what: (1)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

YOU KNOW AND I KNOW, SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

Before beauty and before movement, temperament should be of the utmost importance in the German Shepherd Dog…….when we’re breeding to them, showing them or judging them. There is no German Shepherd that is worthy of being called a German Shepherd without good temperament. What truly amazes me and I see it time and time again is that breeders who have been in this breed for any length of time are breeding to dogs that are known to have bad temperament. What’s up with that?

These breeders are responsible for helping these stud dogs attain their ROM (register of merit) titles and have now polluted the gene pool with this undesirable temperament. Why is that? Is it because the dog is owned by a “big shot” in the breed and they know they can get help promoting their puppies? So you’re hoping that your bloodlines will go down in breed history as being some of the top producing dogs? The only thing that these types of bloodlines should be remembered for is that they helped destroy the temperament of the breed. Temperament should never be sacrificed for beautiful breed type or movement.

Some are complaining that the temperament test evaluation is not good enough to judge our dogs in the show ring. They argue that you can teach most any dog how to stand in the ring and be approached by a judge and without the dog blinking an eyelash. Now ringside may very well know that that dog standing out in the ring doesn’t have good temperament but is very well trained by some top professionals. But what about the average Joe who has never seen or heard of the dog before and thinks what a great temperament this dog has and he’s beautiful as well? He breeds his bitch to the handsome stud dog and most of the litter ends up being a bunch of spooks…..but pretty! Whose responsibility is this? Certainly not the bitch owner. He believed the stud had good temperament. In this case, the responsibility would most definitely fall on the stud dog owner.

How about an AKC licensed judge that knows of a certain dog’s temperament. He’s seen him outside the ring many times before. What happens if this same dog comes under this judge and the dog doesn’t act out and stands like a rock for his temperament test? He has a full mouth. He is in gorgeous condition. He moves right up there with the best of them. And in fact, he is the best dog in the show. What does a judge do? Well we all know that the judge has to judge the dog on the day that that dog is shown under him. If there is no better dog in the ring must he put up a dog that he knows has bad temperament because he is standing in front of him like nothing bothers him at all? What’s the judge to do? Should he stomp his feet at the dog? Should he have a coughing fit a few inches away from him hoping the dog will show a spooky reaction? What should he do? Well this stinks because unless this dog does something showing he has bad temperament, the judge would have to put him up, right?

So now the dog wins under this judge and the next one and the next one after that. How can they deny him? So the breeders watch this dog winning under some very knowledgeable judges and everyone starts to breed to him, forgetting the true spook or fear biter that he is. Do they really forget or do they look the other way and pray that their bitch’s bloodlines are strong enough to dominate the litter?

So whose fault is this that the dog now is a Champion and top producer? Is it the judge’s fault, the breeders or the stud dog owner? Do they each play a role in the promotion of this unsound dog? Well in this writer’s opinion, it all starts with the owner of the stud dog that has the audacity to put this dog out in the ring to start with. Shame on him! Then shame on the breeders who know the bad temperament of the dog and breed to him anyway. The judge is more in a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” position. If he’s an honest judge, he wants to do what’s right, but because the dog does nothing wrong under him, he has to judge him as he sees him on this day. For the good judge with a conscience, this must weigh heavily upon him. Does the judge say something to the handler? Does he say something to the owner? Whatever he decides to do is up to him, but to the unsuspecting audience that doesn’t know of this dog’s bad temperament, the judge has just said a ton to them. They think they just watched an outstanding representative of the breed win.

So what do you do? Do you jump on the band wagon and breed to this dog because everyone else in the breed is doing it? Do you figure that this is a good way for you to get on the good side of this influential stud dog owner? Are you thinking this person does all the winning and you want a piece of the action? Alright your puppies are born and there's nothing special in the litter. Do you think said stud dog owner will help you sell the "afraid of life" little darlings? Now you are stuck with trying to find homes for them. Also you can expect all sorts of telephone calls from their anxious new owners when the puppy can't seem to adjust to their home life because they're afraid of everything. Are you willing to take the chance in the hopes of getting the elusive "great one?"

So in this case the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” would seem appropriate. Things are definitely not always what they may seem. If you are considering using a stud dog for your bitch, try to see the dog “one on one” away the show ring. Ask other breeders who may have bred to him about their litters. Don’t just breed to the big winner of the day or the next day. Their winning record has nothing to do with their ability to produce the ideal German Shepherd temperament that this breed is admired and known for. You owe it to yourself, to your puppies and to the future of this breed!

My rating: ideal temperament: (4), poor temperament: (1)

Monday, November 23, 2009

"DANCING WITH THE STARS"

Alright I admit that “Dancing with the stars” is one of my favorite shows. So what does it have to do with dogs? Well actually nothing………but the title fits in with today’s subject. I get my ideas from many different things. It could be a conversation with someone, it could be something that I read or it could be something that people are responding to about something that I wrote. Sometimes what I write and what someone takes from that can head in all sorts of directions from the original subject matter. But it’s good. It stirs up conversation and through that conversation we can all learn something.

Like in all walks of life people can accomplish their goals in many different ways. And so it is the same in the breeding and showing of dogs. Some people are blessed with a good eye and a good mind and can produce winners time and time again. Then there are those who no matter how hard they try can never seem to produce a winner at all. And lastly there are those who rub elbows with the top people in the breed and ride on their coat tails to success. And these last people are the ones who really don’t know anything about the breed on their own but all of a sudden they become the breed experts. These are the people who are “Dancing with the stars!”

The truly knowledgeable people in our breed are those who fall into the first category. They are the ones who through trial and error, blood, sweat and tears have persevered and have given back to the breed. It is because of them that the breed continues. They know the pedigrees of the dogs that they breed. They know the faults of the lines and breed away from it. They know that even with the best laid plans that a litter can be a disappointment. They never give up. They know in order for their dogs to be winning dogs not only must they be well bred, but they should be well trained.

The second group of breeders continues to breed the same type of dogs year after year who will never even come close to finishing their championships or obedience titles. These are the type of breeders who breed with their hearts. They love their dogs and expect other people to love them as well. They never honestly evaluate their breeding stock, whereas the intelligent breeder knows that this is something that you must continue to do if you ever want to produce good producing dogs. They weed out the mediocre dogs from their breeding program.

The third type of “breeder” looks for others to make his decisions for him. He doesn’t know how to study a pedigree. He doesn’t know the proper structure of the dog to know that that is the reason he moves the way that he does. He doesn’t know the faults of the line because he doesn’t really know why he’s breeding to a particular dog except that he was told he should. This is the type of person who buys a dog from a good breeder, shows it, wins with it and starts “talking the talk” as if he really knows what he’s talking about. He’s the one that will say, “Look at the front on this guy, or the rear” and if you asked him, he wouldn’t even know what a good front or rear is. He was just told that by the one who really is the knowledgeable breeder. He’s the one that every other sentence out of his mouth will be “Well so and so said this or that.” He really doesn’t have an opinion of his own. God forbid if you were to ask him something about the breed. He wouldn’t know how to answer it if “so and so” wasn’t around to do it for him! This is the name dropper in the breed. He’s successful because someone he associates with is even more so.

I suppose all three types of people are necessary in the whole scheme of things. The successful breeder hopes that with each new litter that she produces that it’s better than the last. She looks forward to incorporating new blood into her lines. She knows that she’s looking to improve temperament, top lines, feet, etc. and she’s studied pedigrees to do so. The breeder that continues to breed mediocre stock will continue to breed his way hoping to prove once and for all his way is the right way. He keeps the pet market happy. The “elbow rubbers” will do what they have to do to get where they want to go. They keep the really good breeders happy. The good breeder has their dogs in a show home and the buyer is very happy to promote and shout the breeders name to anyone that will listen to him. Gee, just think of the free advertising the good breeder gets with the “elbow rubber!” It’s kind of like the barter system. You do this for me and I’ll do that for you!

So no matter which way these groups of people do it, they’re all happy in their little world. The good breeder gets the recognition that he deserves. The breeder in the second category can still complain to those who will listen to her about why she’s never produced a champion. And the last group can continue “Dancing with the stars” to get the attention that he craves. It’s a win – win situation. Everyone is happy.

My rating: the good breeder: (4), the mediocre breeder: (2), the elbow rubber: (2)

Friday, November 20, 2009

SOME OF THE BEST MOMENTS IN DOGS

Buying your first AKC registered German Shepherd puppy
Your first litter
Your first champion
Your first Select
Your first ROM (register of merit)
The first time a "newbie" asks you for advice
The first time a "big shot" recognizes you and says hello
Being asked to join a bunch of people after a show to go get a bite to eat
Being invited to a "dog party" at a breeders house
Having a handler come talk to you because he seen your dog and he wants to show him
Having a well known breeder say to you that they want to buy one of your dogs
Going to a dog show and the weather is warm and breezy
Hearing people ringside say GOOD things about your dog that is being shown
Hearing your vet tell you that your dog is not bloating. Her tummy is fat because she ate too much!
Making friends with people who will be your friends for life
Getting that "once in a lifetime"...."opportunity is knocking" chance to buy a "superstar!"
Breeding two well bred dogs and not having any health problems
Having a litter that is deep in quality and getting them into great show homes
Going to a dog show just to watch and enjoy spending some time with friends
Going to the German Shepherd Dog Nationals
Winning a futurity/maturity and getting one of those wonderful plaques to put on your wall
Having your dog not blow his coat before he's shown at an important show
Breeding a bitch and she doesn’t miss
Receiving the German Shepherd Dog Review and it's loaded with breeders ads and pictures
Having people come over to you to congratulate you on your dogs winning
Getting an obedience title on your dog
Having a dog that you can take anywhere with you because he has a marvelous temperament
Going for a walk or a hike with your dog
Judging your first match
Watching a judge at a show and agreeing with his winners
Having your dog kiss away your tears
Being able to act like yourself around your dog and not be judged
Knowing your dog never holds grudges
Knowing that your dog knows all your secrets and he's never going to be able to share them with anyone
Singing off key and your dog has to listen to you like it or not
Giggling out loud because your dog is so “gosh darn funny”
Walking on the show grounds and everyone's head turns as you walk by with your new "superstar"
Finally beating someone who always wins
Knowing that you've bred the best puppies that you could that are healthy, strong and are excellent representatives of the breed
Having puppy buyers buy another dog from you years later after buying their first one from you
Getting your dogs first show win picture and hanging it on the wall
Not getting lost on your way to a dog show and making it on time for your dogs class
Having your dog/bitch have his/her own stud dog/brood bitch class at the National
Showing in the Honor Parade at the National
Being crowned Obedience Victor/Victrix
Owing a AOE Select champion
Winning Best in Show
Winning Best in Show at Westminster
Getting your dogs OFA numbers in the mail
Breeding a Grand Victor/Victrix
Having your dog save your life
Saving your dog’s life
Having your dog pass the temperament test
Owning a therapy dog
Having your dog be a Seeing Eye dog for the blind
Having fun with your dog in rally competition
Having a breeder like your stud dog well enough to breed their bitch to him
Being invited to another breeder’s house to look at their puppies
Having your dog “watch out for you” by making sure that you are getting enough exercise because he wants to go for a walk or fetch a ball
Puppy breath
Not having your long coated puppy being the best puppy in the litter
Having a whole litter that you never have to tape any puppy’s ears
Never needing an alarm because your dog will let you know that it’s time to get up
Having someone to give your leftovers to so you don’t have to throw away any food
Sharing your cheese doodles with your dog
Having a “built in baby sitter”
Belonging to a breed club and having people ask you to be President
Judging your first AKC Specialty show
Growing old with your dogs
Turning the lights out at night resting safely and knowing all is well because your dogs are there to guarantee that it is

I'm sure other people can add their own best moments in dogs!

My rating: German Shepherd dog ownership: (4+)!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"PARANOIA WILL DESTROY YA".....OR WILL IT?

In the world of human psychology there is a condition known as paranoid personality disorder. Without going into a long description here of this disease, at its most basic it is a person who is suspicious of most everyone and everything. They don’t trust most people and question everyone’s motives.

In today’s world of political unrest and economic hardships no where in modern history has people felt more compromised in their personal and business life than in these times that we are living. Not too many people have job security anymore and many others are wondering how they’re going to meet their financial obligations or put food on the table for their families. This is a worried, cautious, and anxious society that we all live in.

I have friends call me or send me long e-mails about their concerns with the world that we live in. Some are almost rebellious in their attitudes about what is going on with this planet that we all share. I get religious based e-mails, political e-mails and then yes, sometimes just plain paranoia based e-mails.

I have some friends who have upped their security in their homes. One guy that I know who has a lot of top of the line computers and a state of the art musical studio in his home has bought a shot gun, installed an alarm system and has security cameras all around his property. His thought is that in these hard times with people losing their jobs and homes, that “desperate people do desperate things!” Does he have a paranoid personality? No, it’s “just that the times they are a changing” and he’d rather “err on the side of caution” then not be prepared. He’s not alone in his thinking.

So thinking about all of this, I came up with the idea that perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to think like a German Shepherd dog would think! No, I’m serious. We all love this breed for their intelligence. The standard says that the ideal German Shepherd does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. To be a friend with a German Shepherd that you don’t own, you must prove to him that you are worthy of his friendship. He’s not just going to accept it with out proof of it! Smart dog!

Many years ago someone said to me, “Barbara you’ve got all these German Shepherds. Don’t leave them all in the kennel. Always keep at least two of them in the house with you at all times!” He was absolutely right.

One day I was getting ready to meet with another breeder friend of mine to take our dogs for exercise at this huge reservation that we used to go to. I was loading the van with my dog’s crate and a car with two men pulled into my driveway. I had the garage door open. The male dog I was taking with me was in the kitchen. One man got out of the car and walked toward me telling me that they were helping someone move in down the street and that the telephone wasn’t turned on in the house yet. (Cell phones were not available at this time). So he asked me if he could come in the house to use my phone. I told him no he couldn’t, but if he gave me the telephone number that I would be happy to make the call for him. He started to follow me into the garage. I told him not to follow me that I had a dog in the house. He didn’t pay attention to me and continued to follow me. I reached the door that led into the house just in time as the man was close behind me. I quickly opened it and a huge German Shepherd stood guard in the doorway. The man backed away and said, “Oh I see you do have a dog in the house. That’s alright; we’ll go down the street to someone else.” With that he quickly got back into his car and disappeared. Very suspicious, don’t you think?

My friend Lorraine Cohen who owns Select Ch Cathlin Azeri of Hallmark ( Annie) told me a story one time. She was home alone at night and she heard a ruckus in her backyard. Annie was barking and anxious to go outside. She opened the door and saw a man climbing over her fence coming into her yard. Well Annie flew out the door and charged at the man. She said she never seen someone scramble over a fence so fast in her life.

Marilyn Smith told me that her Select Ch Jim who was her house dog and guardian thought he had the need to stop a worker in her house one time. She was doing a major renovation in her home. Workers were coming in and out all day. All the work was being done on the main floor. One worker came in and decided he was going to go upstairs. Well that was before Jim changed his mind for him. The man started up the stairs. Jim got up and before the man knew what hit him, Jim had him by the arm. He didn’t bite him…….he stopped him. The man couldn’t move with Jim locked on his sleeve. He was warning the man…….your business is downstairs!

A few summers ago, I took my then 10 month old puppy for a ride with me to the local store. This is my “doggie” bi-colored bitch. Now with a huge black head and big bone, most people think she’s a male. And most people seeing that it’s a German Shepherd would be very cautious with their approach. You would think!! So I pull into the parking lot close to the entrance. The windows are down enough to allow my dog plenty of air. I was only going to go in the store for a soda. As I’m putting my keys in my purse, a man comes from nowhere and starts to stick his hands in the back window urging my dog to come to him so he can pat her. My dog is dumbfounded at this man’s totally uninvited approach. Well she went from one side of the car and started at him with a menacing bark. I told him not to try to touch my dog. Did this stop him? No, he laughed and tried to pat the dog again. She would have no part of it and was ready to “rock and roll” with this fool! Finally I decided that the soda wasn’t that important to me and I backed the car out of the driveway and went down the road shaking my head at how stupid some people can be. This happened another time with this same bitch in the car with me. A man tried to reach in the back seat and said “Oh I had a dog who looked just like yours!” He too was greeted with a “Get your hands out of my face” warning bark! I mean I would never try to touch even a little lap dog no less someone’s German Shepherd dog! What do some people use for common sense anyway?

It is a known fact that most crimes against women and one’s home happens during the day when their husbands are working. Putting advertisements in the newspapers for things that you have for sale would seem the "normal" approach to try to sell them. Many people have turned to Craig's list to advertise things for sale. You get the call from a stranger and you invite the stranger to your home to see the items that you have for sale. Many of us do this when we are looking to sell our pet puppies. One story I remember hearing about was when a woman put an ad in the paper to sell her wedding dress. She always had lunch with her mother but on this day she told her mother that someone was coming to look at the dress. She told her she'd call her after the person left. Her mother waited and waited and no call from her daughter. She telephoned her and no answer. She became worried and decided to go to her daughter's house. After knocking several times and getting no response, she used the extra key that her daughter had given her. She called out to her daughter. She was greeted with silence. Investigating the rooms in the house, she finally found her daughter laying in the bathtub. She had been murdered!

So these are just some examples of situations we can find ourselves in with the “humans” of the species. And all those situations I just wrote about were under normal times. Living in these uncertain times, we can expect to see a lot more abnormal behavior when people are seeing their lives turned upside down.

I had someone say to me one time, “Well you can have your German Shepherd dog but if someone comes in your house with a gun, your dog won’t be of much use to you then.” So I told him that’s why I always keep more than one dog in the house at a time. If one of them doesn’t get you, the other one surely will!

Paranoia? I think not. It’s like the old saying goes, it’s “the survival of the strongest” and “only the strong survive” because you know what, sometimes it’s a jungle out there!

My rating: German Shepherd dog for protection: (4)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THE BEST OF YESTERDAY WITH THE BEST OF TODAY

So this couple goes to divorce court to have the judge decide how to divide up their assets. She says that she couldn’t live without her Waterford glasses. He wants his Sears ride on mower. They owned a breeding and boarding kennel and some show dogs. He said he wanted a few of the younger champions and she said she’d take some of the younger breeding bitches. For his last request he tells the judge, “Your honor, I want my dog’s frozen semen! Well you probably could hear a pin drop from the shocked expressions by those in the court room. The wife shakes her head in disagreement. In all the years that this judge has resided over his court room, he has never heard of such a request before. So the judge looks at the man a bit quizzically and with a bit of a smirk on his face he asks the man, “Did I hear you correctly Mr. Smith, you want some frozen semen?” “Yes sir, I do. I want my dog’s frozen semen!” There was some nervous laughter and people shifting in their seats as they whispered among themselves. Who ever heard of such a thing as people fighting over a dog’s semen? Well if you are a dog breeder, you wouldn’t think this was such an unusual request.

How come some dog breeders have their dogs’ semen frozen? Some breeders who own some top stud dogs know that there are only a certain amount of years that their dogs will have a chance to produce. When they get older, many of them can no longer produce a litter. Then the dog passes away and many times, the breeder wishes they could still use their stud dog on their bitches. So some of them opt to collect the semen from their dogs and have it frozen so they can use their bloodlines at a later time.

Now on the other hand there are those breeders who don’t want to breed to a dog that is no longer being used in the gene pool. They feel that they are old blood lines and why use them anymore. It’s time for new blood so they move on. They feel that there are many good dogs available today, so why go back to the past.

My feeling is that I think it’s a wonderful idea having some of the “Greats” of yesterday still available to us today. I only wish there were more dogs that we had frozen on that were available to us. Was there ever a dog that you wish you could have bred to and didn’t? I know that I would like to have been able to have bred to Lance, Mannix, Bear, and so many others. Unfortunately, many of these top producing dogs are lost to us forever. Frozen semen wasn’t available at the time.

I think being able to use some of the older bloodlines would be a good idea with the gene pool being so concentrated with the same bloodlines. Practically the entire top producing bloodlines now days goes back to Dallas. Look at the top producing dogs and many of them are sons, grandsons or great grandsons of Dallas. The pedigrees become so overloaded with one dogs genes that after a while there’s no place to take your bitches to. This is what happens when a dog becomes a popular stud dog. Everyone runs out to breed to him and that’s all you see in today’s pedigrees. We need pedigrees to out cross to when the gene pool becomes this saturated.

For the newer students of the breed, introducing older pedigrees into their breeding program requires much studying of the bloodlines. One must get familiar with these lines to know what the temperaments, health and other faults of the lines are. Without being able to see these dogs in person, one is left going only by their pictures and if you are lucky maybe seeing a video tape of the dog. But more times than not, that’s probably not going to be available to you. So I can see the breeder that has been in the breed for some time doing this type of breeding before the newer breeder might.

Why would anyone want to breed to an older dog anyway? Well besides bringing some new (older) blood back into their breeding program, perhaps there are things that this bloodline can add to their breeding program. Perhaps this bloodline has great shoulders, wonderful hindquarters, super top lines, great temperaments, good hips, etc. It would be for all the same reasons you would breed to a dog that is living……hopefully to improve in areas that you need to improve on in your breeding program.

So if done with much research, incorporating the best of yesterdays bloodlines with the best of today’s bloodlines could prove very beneficial to the breeder and for future generations of the German Shepherd dog.

For a list of some dogs that have frozen semen available, check out Gerald Roaches website at www.geransgermanshepherds.com


My rating: frozen semen breedings: (4), incorporating old bloodlines with todays: (4)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MORE THAN A PRETTY FACE


Although a well bred German Shepherd dog can be very pleasing to the eye and a properly structured dog can take your breath away when he gaits, make no mistake about it, this breed was bred for his working and herding abilities. With today’s compromised economy, just think if you were able to send your German Shepherd out to work how he could contribute to the household! No, I’m not kidding, if you live with a German Shepherd dog you’re living with one of the smartest and easiest to train dogs on the planet. Just how many of them ever attain all that they could? Once this dog is taught something, it amazes me how they still remember it even if you don’t often ask it of them.

Having a well trained dog is a delight to live with. I truly admire those in the breed who see fit to not only show their dogs to their conformation titles, but also have obedience titles on their dogs as well. Bravo! A pretty face is nice, but one with brains is even better! Oh, the German Shepherd has the brains alright, it’s just that many of them are not being developed and nurtured to their full potential. This breed loves to please their masters. A German Shepherd needs a job to do or they become very restless. They’re no different from a kid. Don’t teach a child anything. Don’t play with him. Don’t let him have exercise and then see how wonderful they are to live with! Anything with any amount of intelligence can never be happy living a dull and unchallenged life!

There are many jobs that the German Shepherd dog does. Everyone is familiar with the war dog stories and the police dog stories. This is a loyal, intelligent, bold and eager to please type of dog. Utilizing these dogs’ abilities is probably one of the most rewarding expererinces an owner can have. Talk about being proud!

When used as war dogs they were used as messengers, rescuers, sentries, and personal guard dogs. Because of their use in the wars, this dog became very popular when our service men came home.

Here are a couple of stories I came up with when researching about this subject. There was a farmer who lived in Canada who became trapped under his tractor when it fell on him. He had his German Shepherd out in the fields with him. Obviously the tractor was too big and heavy for the dog to move it off of the man. The farmer and his dog were about two miles away from his home when this happened. The farmer ripped off a piece of his shirt and tied it onto the dog’s collar. The dog ran home to the farmer’s wife who alerted the police.

The German Shepherd dog is a breed that is used as an assistance dog. They guide the blind, alert the hearing-impaired to noises and alarms, they pull wheelchairs, open cupboard doors, and pick up dropped items. The first guide dog in the United States was a German Shepherd named Buddy. He guided a blind teenager named Frank. The two campaigned tirelessly for better medical care for service dogs for the rest of their lives.

An 8 year old boy by the name of Alex from Kentucky has severe epilepsy. His assistance dog, Lady, presses an alarm device to alert Alex' parents when he is having a seizure. The body releases chemicals a dog can smell. These chemicals change just before a seizure, alerting the dog that a seizure is imminent. In addition to helping Alex, Lady has traveled to Washington, D.C. to encourage lawmakers to provide funding for assistance dogs through the Medicaid program. Lady came from an Ohio-based non-profit organization called 4 Paws for Ability which cost nearly $10,000, raised by Alex' family and friends.

One time an article in the Tampa Tribune (and I quote) related a story about a special dog named Nubs and a U.S. Marine Major Brian Dennis who had recently returned from Iraq. Major Dennis' Border Transition Team found Nubs near the Syrian border; his ears hacked off and left to die after being stabbed with a screwdriver. The Marines carried the dog to their base and nursed him back to health. Soon after, they left for the al-Anbar province. Imagine their surprise when Nubs showed up at their combat outpost after tracking them for 70 miles! After learning it was against military regulations to keep a pet in a war zone, Major Dennis began an e-mail campaign to raise the $3,500 it would cost to ship Nubs back to California. Marine buddies kept Nubs until Major Dennis shipped home from his second tour of duty in March for a happy reunion on the tarmac at Fort Pendleton. An excellent example of man giving back to a loyal companion!

German Shepherds make excellent therapy dogs, visiting nursing homes, hospitals, and childcare centers. They provide affection to the lonely and depressed. The dog seems to be able to sense what is needed and provides companionship to those who feel alone and need it the most.

Due to the breeds’ excellent sense of smell, they make wonderful search and rescue dogs as well as narcotic dogs. That’s why the police department has used these dogs for years recognizing the exceptional intelligence of this breed.

It is important for the German Shepherd owner or someone who is considering owning one of these marvelous dogs to know that this dog has an overwhelming need to work. If you live a sedentary life or leave your dog home much of the time, this might not be the best breed for you. He needs daily exercise and a sense of purpose. If he is not given a purpose in life, you might find yourself with a destructive dog on your hands. One of the top reasons a person puts a dog to sleep is because the dog was destructive. If only they would have put the time into training and working with their dog, the dog would prove to be an important part of their lives. This is not a breed of dog that you buy and ask him to lie around the house and be happy all day. It is not part of this dog’s character. He’s too smart for that. He will grow restless. This is a breed of dog to enjoy and do things with. We miss out the fun that these dogs can be and the joy that they can bring to our lives by locking them up in a kennel and just taking them out when they go to a show. How wonderful that this dog is a dog that can do it all. Look gorgeous and serve a purpose. If we own this breed, it is our responsibility to make sure this dog is not only trained for the show ring, but also to train his mind. He’s not just another pretty face!

My rating: the German Shepherd dog’s intelligence: (4), working ability: (4), untrained GS: (1)

Monday, November 16, 2009

WEST COAST BRED VS EAST COAST BRED GERMAN SHEPHERDS

Most people when they think of a German Shepherd dog they think that they all look the same. What comes to mind is a black and tan medium size dog of good proportions. These same people don’t even know that the German Shepherd dog comes in a few different colors or that their coats might be different lengths.

Is there really a difference in a dog that’s bred on the west coast compared to a dog that is bred in the East? They both have the same breed standard. If you went to a German Shepherd dog National specialty show, could you pick out the dog from the West coast and the one who was bred on the East coast? Should there be a difference?

This subject came to me when talking to a friend of mine who lives in the west and bought a dog that was bred on the east coast. She told me that she was having a harder time getting the points on this dog. She said that he wasn’t the type of dog that the judges put up on the west coast. Her dog is a hard dry, good moving dog. For those unfamiliar with the terms this means the dog is not a plush coated, “take your breath away” type of dog. He has a beautiful masculine head and is all male, but he lacks the trimmings that are so evident on the west coast dogs.

When one thinks of the west coast bred German Shepherd, the Covy Tucker Hill kennel might come to mind. These very well known breeders have produced so many champions that I’ve lost count. These dogs were known for their exceptional beauty. They had all the “trimmings” of what makes a dog beautiful to look at…..plush, good pigment, deep bodied, etc.

When one thinks of the east coast dogs, you might think of Mary Ellen and Bob Kish’s Kismet kennels. Most of the time their dogs have been hard, dry animals with excellent top lines who possessed strong backs.

Now the argument can be that a good dog is a good dog no matter where he lives. This may be true but I know that many times when I see a west coast judge come to judge a show here in the east, I will see them put up the type of dog that they are used to seeing. I’ll give you an example. One time I showed a youngster under a judge who came from the west to judge here in the east. My young dog was a hard, dry type of animal who had an exceptional top line and a wonderful side gait. The judge couldn’t make up his mind between my dog and the second dog. He kept switching them back and forth with my dog leading most of the time. He eventually pointed to the second dog as his winner and mine was awarded second place. The judge said he’d be happy to take either one of these two dogs home.

Later on I sat and watched the rest of the show and when it came to the judge’s winner’s class, there was no denying what he liked. All of his winners were consistent in breed type……dark, deep and plush coated. I wasn’t upset because had my dog been in the winner’s class, he would have stood out as being very different from the rest of the dogs this judge put up all day.

So although we have a breed standard for judges to use when they make their decisions on their winning dogs, it is how the judge interprets the standard and what he is used to seeing or owning. A good judge will judge the individual dogs quality and not be swayed by what he’s used to seeing or owning. A good dog is a good dog, is a good dog!

Some will argue that the west coast has the prettiest dogs and that the east coast has the best moving dogs. What about the dogs that are bred in the central part of the country? Maybe the central part of the United States has the best of both worlds having combined the best dogs from both sides of the country.

Some I heard say that the west coast dogs are more of a “wet” dog…..deeper, looser and that their top lines are not as good as the east coast dogs. Then some say that the east coast dogs are more ordinary or common in looks than the pretty west coast dogs. In an ideal world, the breeder aims to have the best moving and best looking dogs.

Take a look at the two dogs on the top left of this page.....Maturity winner Chieftain's Nuance and Chieftain's Rajah. Both of these dogs I bred. They were both from my BIM Ch Arbar's Xanadu ROM. They had different sires. The bitch, Nuance was sired by an east Coast ROM Grand Victor who was a wonderful mover, but not beautiful in breed type. The male Rajah was sired by a west coast ROM champion who was a very pretty dog. You can see that the male was better looking in breed type but the bitch was by far a much better mover.

Many times breeders will not ship their bitches from one coast to another to breed to a stud dog. Because of the economy some breeders are not willing or able to put out the money to do frozen semen breeding so they end up breeding to dogs in their own area.

When a judge judges a National specialty show, naturally he gets the best dogs from around the country shown under him. A good judge isn’t swayed by a particular “type” of a dog. He will select the best representative of the breed according to the standard to be crowned his Grand Victor or Grand Victrix. As I type this I’m wondering where most of our Grand Victors and Grand Victrix’s have come from. Were they bred on the west or east coast or somewhere in the central part of the United States? I wonder if anyone has a record of this. So has the west, east, or central part of the United States produced more winners?

My rating: a good one is a good one whether east, west or centrally bred: (4) judges judging according to the standard: (3)

Friday, November 13, 2009

UTERINE INERTIA


The whelping of puppies is normally a time of excitement and anticipation for a breeder. You’ve done the best breeding possible between two healthy well bred dogs and are looking forward to seeing the results of the combination of these pedigrees. Most German Shepherd mothers are good whelpers, but there are those few who are not. You just never know what to expect when delivery time comes. No matter how well prepared you are, some things you are just not prepared for at all.

When I first started breeding dogs back in the late 70’s all my bitches produced normal healthy litters and had no problems delivering their babies. I always bred selectively and bred on a small scale, normally one and rarely two litters a year.

In the early 80’s I was very fortunate to have been able to purchase the best bitch I ever owned. She would become BIM Ch Arbar’s Xanadu ROM. (See picture at the top of this article). She finished in five shows and garnered two majors from the puppy classes. She was the first place winner of the 12 – 18 class at one of the National specialty shows. So you could imagine how excited I was to be able to breed this beautiful bitch. I bred her to GV Ch Cobert’s Trollstigen ROM for her first breeding.

Xanadu was a terrible eater when she was pregnant. Under normal circumstances she ate well. When she was pregnant she turned her nose up to everything that I offered her. The only thing that she liked to eat at those times was dog biscuits. So she would be offered handfuls of dog biscuits and pre-natal vitamins just to get some kind of nourishment in her. She looked like a bag of bones. She was still her normal excitable happy self only she looked like she was starved.

So when the much anticipated happy day for her whelping came, I was right there with her helping bring her babies into the world just like all my other bitches. She seemed to be doing fine. She delivered each puppy and accepted each one and all was well in that whelping box………so I thought! Anyway, after Xanadu delivered five puppies, she seemed liked she was all done. No more contractions. No more restless standing and turning around. Nope she was a happy contented mother lying with her puppies as they nursed away. All seemed to be well. I left the room to make her a small meal. When I came back into the room with the bowl in my hands, I just about dropped it on the floor. There was Xanadu looking like a very proud momma and it was as if she was saying to me: “Look at what I did. I delivered another puppy by myself and I didn’t even need your help.” Well yes, indeed, she did deliver another puppy. Only thing was that the puppy was in two pieces. The front part of him/her was lying next to Xanadu’s front legs and the other half of the puppy was laying by her other front leg. “Du” (as we called her) was licking and loving the dismembered puppy. I was horrified. It was so awful. She must have had a hard time delivering the puppy and probably pulled too hard on the pup and cut it in half. I quickly took what remained of the little guy and discarded him and called my vet.

We took her into the vet’s office and he examined her. He said that she had uterine inertia which I never heard of. She literally stopped contracting and it was like her uterus became non-functioning. This would become the “normal” way that she would whelp her first couple of litters. She would produce a few puppies and then stop contracting even though there were more puppies inside the birth canal. She was given oxytocin which would make her contract again and the rest of her puppies were born.

For some reason Xanadu would whelp in the middle of a huge snow storm. One time we were rushing her to the vet’s office in the middle of the night driving in treacherous weather and I was in the back of the van delivering another puppy! Now looking back, I wonder why my vet never suggested that we do a c-section on her.

From her first litter, she produced two champions (one which was a Select # 3 and International Champion) and naturally like all breeders do, I wondered about the puppies that she lost. What would they have been like had they lived? The second litter was a repeat breeding and she produced another champion and a Best Opposite Maturity winner who was one her way to her championship when I went through some personal things and stopped showing.

So just what is uterine inertia (dystocia) anyway? It is an abnormal relaxation of the uterus or sluggishness of uterine contractions during labor. Sometimes a bitch may have a difficult birth because of problems with the shape and size of the pelvic canal.

After prolonged labor, the mother may have low blood sugar or low blood calcium. In this case, your veterinarian will give calcium and dextrose injections which may help strengthen uterine contractions. If easy passage is not possible, or the bitch doesn’t respond to medical treatment, your veterinarian will deliver the puppies by Cesarean section.

Xanadu would go on to make her ROM, but whelping her litters was always a concern for me. Her last couple of litters went alright without any major problems except for a runt who I had to give “mouth to mouth” to help the little girl breathe. She always remained small but lived a long healthy life in her pet home.

Whelping litters can present problems. It’s always wise to alert your veterinarian when you have a bitch that is close to delivering her new litter. Like I said in the beginning of this article, most German Shepherds are easy whelpers, but it’s when you least expect it that something can go wrong. No one likes loosing puppies especially when it’s out of your top bitch. I’m left to conclude because Xanadu was such a poor eater while she carried her puppies, that she just didn’t have enough strength to deliver them all by herself.

My rating: Have a vet on call when your bitch will be whelping: (4), feeding a top quality food and supplements: (4)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ON THE SPOT - DARBY DAN GERMAN SHEPHERDS



A few years ago, I sent an e-mail over some of the German Shepherd dog lists suggesting it would be nice for the German Shepherd Dog Review to do interviews on breeders, handlers and judges. It wasn’t done at that time. Then I thought I’d like to conduct some interviews myself for an on line magazine I was planning on doing. I decided against doing the magazine and did this blog instead. Now the Review will be doing interviews in the magazine and I’m very happy that that will be done. It should be very informative reading for everyone. I was asked if I would do the first interview that they were planning for the magazine with one of my favorite people in the breed. I had to decline because of my own obligations and restrains. So for all these past few years, my friend Marilyn Smith of Darby Dan kennels has heard me tell her that I wanted to do my first interview with her. So she and I spoke over the telephone yesterday and I finally conducted my interview with her and with her permission, I’m sharing it with you. Periodically, I will interview other people as well. I want to focus on some of the other people in the breed that are not necessarily connected with any big kennel name, but have done some wonderful things in our breed as well, just maybe on a smaller scale.


Darby Dan kennels has been home to 20 champions, 7 American Selects, 1 Grand Victrix, 1 Futurity Victor, and 2 ROM’s.

Darby Dan kennels is nestled in the woods in up state New York in a town called Saugerties. You won’t just happen upon it as you drive down the road. But call up Marilyn and she’ll give the best directions on how to find her little “peace of heaven” hidden away on an old country road. Look quickly or you could miss the drive way over on your left. Follow the long drive way hidden in the woods and in the clearing you’ll pull up to the front of the home of Dan and Marilyn Smith. Look straight ahead and you’ll see the climate controlled kennel building surrounded by lawns and forest trees and horse trails all tucked away on about ten acres or so. This is where the Smiths share their home with their German Shepherd dogs, two cats, two horses and many wild creatures that graze on their property.

This interview was conducted with ½ of Darby Dan’s team and that is Marilyn Smith.


Me: So Marilyn, how long have you and Dan been in the German Shepherd dog breed?

Marilyn: I’ve been in the breed since 1980 and Dan has been in the breed since 1961.

Me: Let me ask you Marilyn, why the German Shepherd Dog?

Marilyn: Well Barbara, I always wanted to own a show dog so I looked in the AKC Purebred dog book. I looked through and found a couple of dogs that I liked and read the information about those different breeds, but they didn’t have the type of temperament that I wanted because I was raising my three children. Someone suggested that I might like the German Shepherd. Like most people I started in obedience and like most people I found it very hard to get a show dog. Because I didn’t know any better, I wanted an 8 week old puppy. And like most 8 week old “show” puppies, none of them turned out. I met and married Billy Rossi (a professional dog handler) and he didn’t want to own a German Shepherd because he thought it was a conflict of interest with his clients’ dogs, but I still wanted a show dog. So I went out and bought myself a black Cocker Spaniel. Billy didn’t care about that because he didn’t show this breed. Long story short, I ended up finishing five Cocker Spaniel champions.

Me: So your goal in German Shepherds was??

Marilyn: To have a show dog that could also be a family dog. I didn’t have that until I married Dan Smith. (Marilyn’s husband Billy Rossi had passed away and then she met and married Dan).

Me: Who were your mentors in this breed?

Marilyn: The first one was Barbara Amidon. She took me under her wing. She would always challenge me after educating me about what a good dog was and the ones that weren’t. Then I watched her judge several Nationals and I could see what it was that she was trying to teach me. Then there was Joe Bihari. He was great to learn from. He would constantly question me to make sure that I knew what I was talking about. He could explain things and the reason for it like no one else. And then there was and is Dan (my husband). One of the most important things that he has taught me is patience. He would tell me when you raise puppies, look at the pups who have the best attributes and wait until they grow up to look for balance and this is exactly with they did with their Select Ch Darby Dan’s Eve ROM.

Me: Compare the dogs then with the dogs now.

Marilyn: Probably the biggest difference I see in the breed today is in the way that they are shown. Back when I first got started, the dogs weren’t shown on 15 foot leads so therefore, they were shown at a slower speed. You didn’t see the dogs racing as much as you do today because of the shorter lead; the dogs were more under control in the ring.

Me: OK Marilyn, you and Dan have gotten many titles on your dogs. Let me ask you this, would you rather own a Grand Victor or a Best in Show Dog?

Marilyn: I would rather own a Best in Show Dog because I’ve never had one of those types of dogs before. My dogs are not that type of dog because they have a high energy level and are used to showing like that and are used to being shown in specialty rings although we have shown in All-breeds as well. The all-breed judges are not as good now as they used to be. There was a time that they used to pull majors at some of the all breed shows.

Me: How important are the futurities?

Marilyn: Not important at all! I don’t think that they proved to be what they were supposed to be. Many of these young dogs don’t turn out the way that you had hoped they would. In the last several years I don’t think it is something that I’m interested in doing anymore. I think that there are too many rules and too many ways to skirt around those rules we already have.

Me: What is the most important thing that you have ever accomplished in the breed?

Marilyn: I never thought anything that I did was that important, but it is my passion and my hobby but it’s not that important and afterwards it won’t be important what I’ve done. I just hope that we have had good dogs and that they didn’t carry too many problems and that they have contributed to the breed.

Me: You and Dan have owned both American and German bred dogs. What’s the difference?

Marilyn: The German dogs are raised differently. They are raised as companion dogs that live in the house with their owners. These dogs are taken everywhere with them. They go to training classes 3 - 4 times a week. They are a part of the human population. The German dogs have a different ability to think. You can almost see their minds working. If we raised our dogs differently they would be like that as well. We just don’t have the availability here to go to a breed club 3 - 4 times a week.

Me: We know that breed type and movement is very important in our breed. If you had two equally good dogs in the ring but one was drop dead gorgeous and the other was the best moving dog you have ever seen, who would be your winner and why?

Marilyn: The mover because we have a standard that puts the most emphasis on movement. The only thing more important is temperament.

Me: You’re married to a well respected top AKC licensed German Shepherd Dog judge (Dan). When watching him judge, do you always agree with his choices?

Marilyn: Not always, but most of the time. The times that I didn’t, I would say to him, “What the heck was that?” But Dan remembers every dog and he’ll tell me exactly why he liked the others better. I have to remember that I don’t get to see what he’s looking at in the ring, like missing teeth, temperament, etc. As the years go by, I find I disagree with his choices less frequently. At the last National that Dan judged I knew he’d pick the open bitch for his Winners. I also knew that he would pick the 9-12 puppy for Reserve Winners bitch. That same puppy is this years Grand Victrix!

Me: Who normally decides on which stud dog to breed your bitches to?

Marilyn: Sometimes I’ll say to Dan that I’d like to breed one of our bitches to “so and so” and I’ll explain why. And Dan will do the same thing with me. I picked Honky Tonk for our Eve before we finished her. At one of the shows, he was winner’s dog and Eve was winners bitch. We did the breeding and it produced us three champions! She was four weeks in whelp when she went Select at the National and he finished his championship at that same National!

Me: Who was the best dog you ever owned and why?

Marilyn: Jim!!! (See the picture at the top of this article). 2 x VA Can Sel Am Ch Jim vom Fiemereck SchH3 TC ROM KkL 1 a OFA and let me say that his daughter, Sel Ch Darby Dan’s Eve ROM (see picture at top of this article)is a close second to her father. What made Jim so special is that he was better than a person only with lots of hair! (laughter). Eve is the best show dog that we have ever produced! (Note: Eve was just awarded Can Select from the Veterans class at the Canadian National this year at the age of 10)!

Me: Marilyn your dogs always look so healthy and have beautiful coats. What do you feed them?

Marilyn: I feed them Pro Plan and add meat to their meals and supplement them with Vibrant Pets Canine Athlete or their Show Dog formulas.

Me: When you no longer can do this anymore, what do you want to be remembered for?

Marilyn: I hope that I’m remembered for being a good wife, a good mother and grandmother and a good friend. I also would like to be remembered as a person who had a couple of good dogs along the way.

Me: It’s getting better all the time or do we still have a long ways to go?

Marilyn: It’s getting better. We have made tremendous strides in temperament, soundness, and health because we have become more conscientious breeders. We used to have to deal with dogs dying younger. The dogs now live longer. My last three dogs died at almost 14 years old! We used to think if dogs lived to be ten that that was great. Now we expect them to live longer.

Me: Anything that people don’t know about you that you’d like to share?

Marilyn: Well I’m a die hard Yankee fan!!! I love to cook. Oh yeah, I have two horses that I adore and having horses is something new for me.

Thanks Marilyn for letting me interview you and to use your pictures!

My rating: Darby Dan dogs: (4)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

OFA - OVER USED OR NOT USED ENOUGH?

I planned on writing about hips and elbows and the OFA for some time now. I saw in some of my e-mails on one of the lists that I belong to that someone was writing about a dog that has a bad hip. They were looking for suggestions on how to keep the dog comfortable while living with this condition. I’m not going to write about what to do about it, but instead I’ll be writing about the OFA, and the importance of having our dogs x-rayed.

OFA stands for Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This foundation has been around for over 40 years. Their basic concept is to collate and disseminate information concerning orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.

For years and still today, many pet people may associate the German Shepherd Dog with, “Oh those are the dogs that have the bad hips!” Before I ever became involved with the breed, when I was growing up, I only remember ever seeing one dog that was lame in the rear. However, he was such a mean spirited dog (maybe due to the pain in his hind legs); his hips didn’t prevent him from chasing me every time I walked passed his property. He was a big, mean boy and bad hips or not, he was still there to remind me of his “ferociousness!”

So just what is hip dysplasia anyway? According to the OFA website and I quote: “Hip Dysplasia is a terrible genetic disease because of the various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis) it can eventually produce, leading to pain and debilitation.” I’m not going to write everything about this disease here in this short space, but advise you to go to their website for more information. What I will say though is to make sure the veterinarian that you use knows how to properly do a correct x-ray for evaluating your dog’s hips and elbows. Proper positioning of the dog is extremely important to get the best x-ray that you can. Even more important is that the person at the OFA knows how to read them correctly. The last bitch that I had x-rayed when my vet read them, told me that they were some of the best hips that he had seen. I was also told that it is extremely rare for the OFA to give out too many excellent evaluations on German Shepherds. Sure enough she got a good evaluation. I was fine with that as her mother is OFA excellent and her father is OFA good.

What I want to talk about is the importance of x-raying our dogs. Some breeders x-ray every animal that they will be using for breeding. Some breeders will only use animals that can be OFA certified. If they can’t get this number than they eliminate these animals for their future breeding program. Then there are some breeders (and some of them are very well known) who never x-ray anything. If the dog is well bred and has the conformation they want, they will breed this dog without x-raying them. Some may question the ethics behind this type of practice. Their argument will be that the majority of puppies are sold into pet homes and no one should have to live with an animal that may have the pain of hip or elbow dysplasia. Then there are still other breeders that will always x-ray their animals, and if they have a really good quality dog that won’t receive an OFA number but isn’t very bad, they’ll still breed them.

Those who fall into the last category may very well be good conscientious breeders who having made the decision to breed a dog that might just be slightly off in the hips or elbows; will do so very carefully. This is the breeder who will study their animal’s pedigree to see just how many generations behind their dog have good hips and elbows. Then he will go about choosing a breeding partner who is OFA certified and comes from a long line of good hips and elbows behind him.

Because this is a genetic condition, many breeders feel just like anything else that is genetic, that nothing can be guaranteed when you breed two animals. You can have a long line of good hips and elbows in the pedigree and still come up with dogs that will have dysplasia. On the other side of the argument, many breeders say, “Why take chances?” They feel you should breed nothing but good hips and elbows to dogs that have these same attributes.

Some breeders feel that they can take a little more chance with a bitch that may not be OFA certified because as the breeder of the litter, they can choose the males that they will breed her to. They can choose only dogs with OFA hips and elbows and look at the pedigree he comes from. A stud dog owner doesn’t have these same choices. He doesn’t always know the bitch that is brought to him and whether or not she is x-rayed. Some stud dog owners will only allow OFA bitches bred to their dog although this is rare. Because the stud dog will produce many more puppies than a bitch will in her life time, many feel that the stud dog should definitely be OFA certified hips and elbows.

I remember reading MANY YEARS AGO in the Redbook (an outstanding reference guide of producing pedigrees published by the GSDCA) that a breeder said that one of her males had one hip that would not OFA. This dog became an ROM producer and lived a relatively long life. Her admitting this didn’t stop this dog from having bitches bred to him. But because of this revelation, it helped bitch owners make a better and more educated decision about breeding to this dog. I admired this breeder for her honesty.

Because a bitch can produce a large litter, anything and everything may happen. The whole litter may have good hips and elbows except for just one puppy. This is genetics. So do you eliminate this bitch from a future breeding program? Do you stop using the stud dog because of this one puppy?

To be honest with you, I hear much more about other genetic health problems besides hip and elbow dysplasia. Occasionally I may hear about a dog that has one hip or elbow better than the other, but I really don’t hear too many breeders complaining about the orthopedics in our breed. That’s not to say that they are not there, but I just don’t hear about them as often as I do the other things. Are we doing better in this area? I believe more breeders are x-raying their breeding stock and this is a good thing. It’s always the wise breeder that breeds with his eyes “wide open” rather than shut and be shocked into opening them later on!

My rating: Importance of x-raying breeding stock: (4), Only breeding OFA animals: (3)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR AN EMERGENCY?

No matter how conscientious we are about providing the best care for our animals, accidents do happen when we least expect it. One of the worse things that can happen to our dogs is if they were ever to get hit by a car. It’s not unheard of that a dog might get out the front door of your house and may chase after something down the street. Then there are the stories of a dog being run over in the driveway because the owner didn’t know he was standing behind the car when he backed over him. These are rare cases (thank goodness) but they do happen. Sometimes the dog appears fine on the outside. There’s not too much physical evidence to indicate that he was even hit by a car. Don’t take that as a final assessment of the dog’s condition. Any animal that has been hit by a car should be taken to your veterinarian. The dog may be suffering from internal bleeding or a punctured lung, etc. But until you can get him to the vet, what do you do?

This information that I am writing about is taken from the articles that Dr. Andrew Jones sends to me. The first thing that he advises to do after contacting your vet is to access the dogs breathing. The dog may have a lung injury. Is the dog breathing normally or is his breathing labored with his mouth open? A common injury is pneumothorax, in which a part of the lung collapses, causing progressive respiratory distress. This dog needs immediate veterinarian attention!

Next thing to do is to check the dog’s heartbeat. The best way to do this is place your ear against the dog’s chest behind the left elbow. Another thing that you can do is to feel for a pulse by placing your fingers in the groin (inside the thigh in the back legs).

If your dog is non-responsive the next thing to do is to give the dog CPR. The CPR steps are as follows: assess responsiveness, establish an airway, perform rescue breathing, and cardiac massage to establish circulation. With a dog the size of a German Shepherd, you will need to exert a lot of force. After every minute, stop and check for a pulse or breathing. Continue heart massage compresses and rescue breathing until a pulse or breathing resumes.

Another thing to look at is the dog’s gum color. This is a great measure of blood pressure, to determine if shock is present, and to evaluate for internal bleeding. The gums should be a healthy pink color. If they are pale, then your pet needs to be treated for shock and transported to a vet as soon as possible.

If the dog is bleeding, you need to give this special attention. The bleeding must be stopped now!! Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth. Hold this in place for five minutes.

If a dog has an open wound, covering them with help keep them clean and prevent infection. If you don’t have bandages, a clean towel can be used instead.

If the dog can’t use any one of his legs, it’s probably fractured. If the leg is dangling, and bent at an unusual angle, then you should attempt to immobilize it until you get veterinary care. Place a towel around the leg. Wrap the inside of the leg with material to partially splint the limb: newspaper, magazine or even bubble wrap. Cover this with tape to keep the newspaper next to the towel.

If you must move the dog, move him with care. Carefully transport your pet. A firm surface works best. If possible, put your pet on a wooden board. This is best done by first gently sliding him onto a sheet, then sliding the sheet onto the board. If you don't have any of this available, don't worry, the most important thing is rapid transport to your vet. Lift your pet by cradling him (left arm around his chest and right arm around his rear).

As pet owners, we all know the importance of having a first aid kit. Here are some things that we should have on hand. 1. Rectal Thermometer - the newer electronic kind works best. Normal canine temperature is 100.5 to 102.5F. 2. Lubricating jelly to lubricate thermometer. 3. Gel packs that can be sued for hot and cold compresses. 4. Adhesive tape to secure bandages - both non-stick tape and water proof tape. 5. Blunt tipped scissors (a must for animal first aid - used for cutting hair away from wounds). 6. Bandage scissors 7. Splints. 8. Alcohol swabs to sterilize instruments or small areas of skin. 9. Antibiotic ointment for wounds (not for eyes) (i.e. Polysporin, for non puncture type wounds). 10. Contact lens solution for rinsing eyes, to clean wounds (water can be substituted) 11. Cotton swabs (i.e. Q-tips). 12. Hibitane - a mild antibacterial soap for cleaning skin, wounds. 13. Sterile cotton or cotton balls. 14. Sterile Gauze Pads (the larger 4" size is better since it can easily be cut smaller if necessary). 15. Rolls of gauze or cling gauze bandage (1-2"). 16. Hydrogen Peroxide - 10 ml every 15 minutes to induce vomiting in animals that have ingested a non-caustic poison. 17. Razor Blade can also be used to shave away hair and abrade the skin following a tick bite. 18. Stockingette to protect bandage on leg or foot. 19. Rubber bulb ear syringe - used for flushing eyes, ears, wounds. 20. Forceps and/or tweezers. 21. Self-adhesive bandage (i.e. Vetrap). 22. Numbers for the Animal Poison Hotline & Poison Control for Pets (800/548-2423 or 900/680-0000 both numbers charge a fee).

Hopefully none of our animals will ever get hit by a car or other moving vehicle, but it does happen. Dogs get loose at a dog show, a dog may be an escape artist who climbs over the fence of his dog run or digs a hole under the fence. Having dogs we must be prepared for the unexpected.

To read more from Dr. Andrews work, check out yesterdays blog for the link.

My rating: first aid kit: (4), emergency numbers: (4), Veterinarians Secrets (book): (4)

Monday, November 9, 2009

VETERINARY SECRETS

For the last few months I've been receiving informative e-mails and articles from Dr. Andrew Jones about a book that he has written called "Veterinary Secrets." I've been so impressed with all the material that he has sent to me that I will be reporting over the next few weeks about some of the information that he has shared with me. For instance, I knew a day or two before I seen someone else post it to a list about a cat that had contacted the "swine flu." So his material that he sends to me is up to date information.

Some of the information that I receive from Dr. Jones is stuff that we already talk about on several German Shepherd Dog lists, but I'm going to report what I've learned from him anyway for those readers who don't belong to any e-mail lists. Today I will be talking about two topics, vaccinations and quality of dog food. The first topic is about how we may be over vaccinating our dogs. As some of us already know, our dogs are being over vaccinated. There is growing evidence against vaccinating our dogs on a yearly basis. Vaccinations work by stimulating the immune system. The positive effect is to protect against infectious diseases. On the other side, the negative effect can be a host of immune related diseases. These can include: immune mediated hemolytic anemia, immune mediated skin disease, vaccine induced skin cancer in cats, skin allergies, arthritis, leukemia, inflammatory bowel disease and neurological conditions.

Autoimmune diseases are on the rise as well. More and more dogs are being treated for cancer that are not even five years old yet!

Our dogs are suffering from over vaccination, which combined with inadequate nutrition, poor breeding practices and environmental stresses are leaving each generation more susceptible to congenital disorders and chronic disease.

Newer research is showing that vaccine immunity lasts much longer than previously thought. Many vets are now using and recommending alternative vaccine protocols.

In some cases a vaccine given at one year of age may provide a lifetime immunity. How often we vaccinate our dogs is a matter of personal choice. We all must consider the risks of vaccinating our dogs. The more informed that we are,the better we are able to make educated decisions concerning the health and care of our animals.

The next subject Dr. Jones sent to me was about changing our dog's food and the use of alternative treatments to help protect them against some diseases and therefore, live a longer and healthier life. He talks about one of his first clients that he had after he graduated from vet school. The dog was diagnosed with liver disease that was incurable. Because traditional methods of treatment proved useless, he looked for other ways to treat the ailing dog. So, he talked to an herbalist. She suggested trying an herb called Milk Thistle. The other vet that he worked with thought it was useless. But it worked. The dog recovered from the liver disease and her blood tests showed normal liver function 3 months later after taking it. So now Dr. Jones uses alternative treatment along with traditional methods to treat his patients.

As for the dogs diet, commercial pet food does not always provide all of the nutrients that some dogs and cats need to be healthy at different times in their lives. This food also contains things that your pet doesn't need, such as chemical additives and preservatives. Some symptoms of less than natural diets include: bad breath, itchy skin, dull dry coats, and intestinal gas. An example of a preservative that is commonly found is propylene glycol. It is used to keep moist pet foods fresh. It has been linked to anemia and bloat.

One of the single most important things you can do for your pet's health is to feed a more natural diet. I have seen natural diets improve allergies, arthritis, diabetes, chronic vomiting and diarrhea.

If you use a commercial dog food like many of us do, these are the things you should check for the quality of the food. 1. Ingredients are listed in descending order. The first ingredient should be an animal based protein. 2. The entire protein should be listed first. Avoid foods that list by-products. Avoid those that list the food fractions - i.e. wheat middlings or corn gluten instead of the whole grain. These ingredients are leftovers from the human food processing and don't provide the best nutrition. 3. Look for natural preservatives. These include Vitamin C( ascorbic acid) Vitamin E and mixed tocopherols. Avoid ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT and propylene glycol. 4. Avoid foods with artificial flavor enhancers, such as phosphoric acid.
5. Avoid artificial colors. These include azo, azo dyes, and sodium nitrite.
6. Essential fatty acids must be added - of utmost importance for allergies, arthritis and cancer prevention. 7. Additional antioxidants, such as Vit E, Vit C and flavanoids. Dr. Jones also recommends the use of a good supplement if you feel that your dog is not getting everything he needs from his food.

If you want to read more about Dr. Jones work, check it out here. Click Here!

My rating: Veterinary Secrets: (4)