Thursday, December 31, 2009


So I was all set to go to the doctor’s this morning for my follow up visit after my accident, but “Mother Nature” decided to show her “wintry” side one more time with the white stuff caressing everything it can fall on! So I cancelled my appointment and decided to tackle another subject for my blog. Is anybody else ready for spring besides me?

I get pictures my friends send to me of their dogs frolicking in the snow and it’s like “Yee Haw” they’re having a grand old time for themselves! I let my dogs out. They do their business and they come sit at the back door waiting for me to let them in again! Granted the temperature is only 27 degrees, but come on guys, you should be having a ball in this stuff! So anyway, I wanted to write about some precautions to take in the winter months in taking care of our dogs.

The first thing the dog owner considers is the temperature outside. I don’t let my dogs stay out in freezing or below freezing temperatures. Maybe that’s why they’re jumping on the back door waiting for me to bring them back in again! I know some of you keep your dogs outside because you say they have beautiful coats because of the cold temperatures. Most of the time, we don’t have to take the same precautions as another dog breed owner might have to do. The German Shepherd carries the thick undercoat to help keep him warmer in weather like this. However, their coats won’t prevent them from getting frostbite on their ears, feet or tail. I notice if my dogs are out in freezing temperatures, they will come back inside and shake their heads because their ears are so cold. Forget about my house dog being outside for too long a time in this cold. Last week she was outside with me when I was cleaning the dog run. She loves to play on the back deck while I clean up her and her daughter’s mess! Anyway, when I was done and came up on the deck, she was shaking. So she is definitely not one that I could leave outside for any length of time. She’d freeze to death. She’s used of the warmth of the heater in the house.

Sometimes an owner will provide extra warm bedding for their dog. My girl has her own rugs that she lays on. Some people will provide a warm blanket in their dog’s crate if this is where they sleep. My one girl, I can’t put anything in her crate, because she starts to eat it. She eats anything she can get her mouth on! None of my dogs are finicky eaters, but she’s the “chow hound!”

Another thing of concern is that some dogs love to lie next to something that is providing them with warmth. For instance, a fireplace, a heater, or vents, etc. Sometimes they snuggle up too close to these things. Avoid space heaters and lamps and place baseboard radiator covers to avoid unnecessary burns. Fireplaces also pose a major threat and a pet-proof system should be used to insure that your dog doesn’t get burnt. My house dog loves to lie right next to the vent in the floor where the heat comes out.

Sometimes we think that our dogs need more food in the winter months. They don’t need an extra layer of fat, unless they live outside. Many times the cold temperatures bring on lazy behaviors and in that case the dog would need fewer calories. Our dogs still need the appropriate exercise. If he’s not getting enough exercise because of the weather conditions, you may want to adjust his food consumption so he doesn’t put on unnecessary pounds. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are feeding your dog the highest quality dog food and supplements to insure a healthy coat and to keep his energy level good for these cold months.

Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in the winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it is not an adequate substitute for fresh water. If your dog has a water bowl outdoors, check it often and break ice that may form on top. I empty their water bowls every day after I remove the ice and give them clean fresh water to drink.

Keeping your dog clean and well groomed is just as important in the winter as any other time of the year. Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep him properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog lives outdoors. After bathing, dry your dog adequately, especially before allowing him outdoors.

It’s important to protect yours dog’s feet. Dogs walk through snow, slush, salt and chemicals and are very likely to sustain an injury to their foot pads unless protected. Now I know you’re not going to see the German Shepherd in dog booties like you might find for the smaller breeds. It’s important to clean your dog's feet every time he comes into the house. Use warm water and clean between the toes really well to remove debris and salt. You can apply a salve to prevent the dog’s feet from cracking. Avoid using any chemical ice-melting compounds or rock salt on your sidewalks, driveways or dog kennels that your dog may contact.

Another important thing to do is to shovel and clear the snow where your dog spends most of his time outdoors. Snow can be a lot of fun but it can also be dangerous for your dog. Snow that’s piled high near fences pose escape hazards that even well trained dogs often can't resist. Keep snow cleared away from fences to prevent your dog from climbing over. Snow and ice often accumulate on rooftops and if the sun is out or as temperatures rise, this accumulation can fall and injure your dog. Be careful when you’re playing outside with your dog. He’s not aware of the dangers of slippery footing. He can run after a snowball that you may throw for him and slip and fall and pull a tendon or worse. Accidents happen so quickly.

Most dog owners know to keep their animals away from toxic exposure. But sometimes we forget. We go in the garage and our dog is following us and this is where the problem can start. We’re not paying attention to the dog. Our mind is somewhere else. With winter comes antifreeze from automobiles. Antifreeze is sweet in taste and dogs will readily lick or drink it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic and just a small amount can be fatal for them. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where they may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals.

The same precautionary measures that we take in the summer months when it comes to leaving our dogs in the car should also be observed in the winter months. Freezing cold temperatures are the main concern during the winter. Also if the car is left running during the winter (especially in the garage), carbon monoxide poisoning is a real threat.

Pay special attention to the senior dogs or ones who have arthritis during the cold weather. The cold will often aggravate these conditions. It is very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces. Insure that he has a warm, dry area to rest when he returns home. Try the adding a Hip & Joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis. Vibrant Pets has two formulas that address this condition. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during the winter weather. As you normally would do, if you see anything out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian.

So there you have it. Just as we have to be more careful in the winter, so too must we be with our dogs. The snow blankets the earth in a white sparkly diamond dust that begs you to come out and play. It can be a fun time for all, but do make sure you use caution for both you and your dogs before stepping out in the Winter Wonderland!

P.S. I want to know why the little black spider that has lived outside on my small back window is still alive in this freezing cold weather??? When oh when is he going to die and go to “buggy” heaven already??? Does he not know that I’m tired of looking at him with all his “yuckiest ugliness?”

My rating: feeding dogs a top food for the winter months: (4), supplementing him with vitamins, etc. (4)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


When one of our beloved animals has left this earth, we pray that we will be reunited with him and together once again. A few years ago on one of the lists I wrote a short article questioning whether or not an animal could have a soul. Then this year I wrote a blog titled “If there’s no animals in heaven, then I’m not going!” So here’s an excerpt from my original article for those who didn’t belong to that particular list at the time. Then I want to add some new information about this subject.

It is said that if an animal has a soul, than it must be a sin to kill an animal. The Bible says "he that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man" - Isiah 66:3. Throughout the animal kingdom, time and time again they illustrate to us they must have a soul because of the way they take care of their own. Dogs have been known to howl at the precise moment that a loved one has died. Some have been found lying on their dead master’s grave. Elephants try to lift their dying or dead. Cow and calf elephants have been known to refuse to leave their herd matriarch when she is shot, even as the poachers slaughter them one by one. Dolphins take turns helping an ill pod member to the surface to breathe. Some people will say this is only instinct. (Instinct - behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level). (Soul - the quality that arouses emotion and sentiment). For those of us who are loved by our dogs, we know they must have a soul when they look at us soulfully when we are sad, or forget about trying to turn away from a dog when you're crying. They’re all over you, sometimes crying with you trying to lick away each tear that falls. They instantly forgive us when we are cranky and have taught us the meaning of unconditional love. Our animals are a gift the Creator left in our care as a testament to what real love is all about. When we open up our hearts to our animals, we realize they were put here not only to be our companions and best friends, not to walk 15 feet behind us, but along side us and many times deservingly 20 feet in front of us. I don't know about you, but I must believe there is a Heaven, because I want to run in the open fields once again with all my beloved dogs running to me so I can wrap my arms around them, because it always was the animals that taught me about love, forgiveness and acceptance. They love us no matter what we say or do, they forgive us when we are being less than patient with them, and they accept us, fat, skinny, rich or poor. Gee, they sure could show mankind or thing or two about love.

Now I share with you my new thoughts and information about this subject. Ask a theologian about this subject and he’ll say no that animals do not have a soul. Ask a person who has just lost a beloved pet the same question and his answer MUST be yes. How else will he relieve some of the heartfelt pain that he is experiencing if he doesn’t believe that he will be reunited with his pet in the here after? The theologian will point out the man was created superior to the animal and therefore, the animal can’t be equal to him. Try telling this to a child who has lost his best buddy. So as it is with many of us adults, we have the NEED to feel that we will once again see our dogs that have crossed over the “Rainbow Bridge.” It is this hope, this desire to be reunited with the deceased animal that keeps us going on and to reassure ourselves that all will be well once again when we are with our pets.

I love these two little sentences that I read on the web and I quote: “If they (animals) do have a "soul" that survives death, it is different from mans. It does not need redemption.” Wow……it does not need redemption! I think that’s so powerful! Our animals are incapable of sin. Man is the only one who needs redemption! So therefore, animals would go to heaven. He would be incapable of going to hell!

Here’s a cute little story that I read: There was an elderly widow whose beloved little dog died after fifteen faithful years. Distraught, she went to her pastor. "Parson," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks, "the vicar said animals have no souls. My darling little dog Fluffy has died. Does that mean I won’t see her again in heaven?" "Madam," said the old priest, "God, in his great love and wisdom has created heaven to be a place of perfect happiness. I am sure that if you need your little dog to complete your happiness, you will find her there."

I don’t believe that animals do things strictly out of instinct. If a mother dogs loses her litter of puppies, she may cry and whine for days and go off of her food. How about the many animal stories you read where a cat or dog will go back into a burning house to rescue her babies? Animals are petrified of fire. So it couldn’t be instinct driving her to them. I read a wonderful story once of a dog that was very fearful of water and would never go in it. This very same dog jumped into the water to save his young owners life! How about the stories of a dog that if lost in the wilderness with his owner will lie on the human to keep him warm? What about when your dog knows that you are sick and can smell the sickness in your body? He will sometimes cry with you when you’re crying. He will lie next to you quietly when you’re not feeling well. He has learned to read your body language and can understand us on a different level than most men can. These animals do these things because they have emotions and feel things like you and me do. So in this writer’s opinion our animals definitely know how to love.

If you ever looked in to the eyes or a dog that is in a shelter, you will see the sadness that resides there. If you look at the eyes of a dog that is sickly or that is dying, you will see the “windows of this animal’s soul.” The eyes that stare back at you are not eyes of emptiness; they are eyes that express some level of emotion.

The dog’s need for affection, his need for our touch is not something he does out of instinct. He enjoys the feelings that he gets from these things. It’s something he desires and wants. This is not instinct that tells him to look for this. This is what makes him feel good. Look at how happy they are to see us when we come in the house. This is true even if you went out to the mailbox to get your mail. The dog loves us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is constant whether you want it or not. I heard on television just last night that the dog doesn’t know how to hate. He might fear, but I don’t know that he hates. What do you think?

So whether or not our dogs or pets have souls will be something people will question and write about for years. There’s no hard evidence to prove they do or they don’t. But as long as man loves his animals, and makes him a part of his family, the NEED to believe that his dog has a place in heaven is always strong. To have these marvelous animals in our lives for only 10 – 15 years is incomprehensible to some of us. We want more of these wonderful gifts. Therefore, we MUST believe that we will see them again. It’s the only way that we can get through the lost of our loving companions. Man will believe what ever it is that will make him feel good. We convince ourselves that we will be with our animals once again. It’s the only way that some of us can get through the heartache. And believing that our animals have souls and will be afforded a “little piece of God’s acre” with us in Heaven makes man’s soul feel good. We just can’t imagine a place in heaven without our beloved animals! But what happens if the animal goes to heaven and we never make it there???? Oh my!

Gary Kowalski has written a wonderful book about this subject called "The Souls of Animals." He seems to get into the emotions of the animals by not treating his subject matter as living, breathing "emotionless" creatures. It's an easy, uncomplicated read. In my opinion, it's excellent reading for all animal lovers!

My rating: the book, "The souls of Animals" (4)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I’ve only seen mange twice on two different dogs. One was in a shelter in Georgia. The poor thing was covered with it and was due to be put to sleep. The other was with an older puppy that I once bought that had a small spot of demodectic mange on her face. The breeder told me that the puppy scraped herself on the fence. Wrong! She had demodectic mange.

Almost all puppies are born with mites that they acquire from their mother. As the puppy’s immune system develops the mite should disappear after a month or so. Demodectic mange is caused by Demodex canis, a tiny mite that cannot be seen without the aid of a microscope. It is also known as red mange. Therefore, it is classified as a parasitic skin disease. The demodectic mite resides in the hair follicles. Demodectic mange is the most common type of mange form in dogs. All dogs and many humans have this mite on their skin. YUCKY! As long as the body’s immune system is functioning properly, these mites cause no harm.

Usually demodectic mange strikes puppies from three to 12 months of age. You may also hear your veterinarian refer to mange as canine scabies. Mites attack in large numbers and reproduce rapidly on the dog’s skin. They feed off the dog’s nutrients which cause skin outbreaks.

Sometimes demodectic mange may occur in dogs that are very old because the function of their immune system often declines with age. Also dogs who have immune suppression due to illness or medication are also candidates for this type of mange.

Mange can be localized or generalized. When the mange is localized it appears on only certain parts of the body. Most of the time this would mean the mange appears on the feet, ears and face. If the mange is generalized it means the whole body of the dog can be affected. This is the most severe type of mange and treatment isn’t always effective.

When a dog gets mange, he suffers intense pain and itching. This is why proper diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian is so important. If you don’t treat generalized mange right away it can lead to your pet’s eventual death if treated too late in the dog’s infection.

Keeping a dog healthy and hygienic are important in insuring your animal doesn’t get mange. Demodectic dog mange usually occurs when the dog's immune system is weak, or he’s under a lot of stress, or is malnourished. Under these conditions, the dog can become sensitive to the Demodex canis mites that normally live on its skin. Treatment can involve medicated shampoos and antibiotics. Also like in my young dog’s treatment, a topical ointment called Goodwinol Ointment was used. This was all that was needed to treat her. I never had to use dips or shampoos.

Usually a veterinarian will look at skin samples under a microscope. With my dog, my veterinarian took a skin scraping from her face to make a diagnosis. Many times the diagnosis for mange is only 50% accurate so therefore, the veterinarian will still treat the dog for mange to see if the treatment helps heal the symptoms that the dog is displaying.

Different treatments are used depending on the type of mange your dog has and the age of the dog. Usually the younger dog will heal itself in 6 – 8 weeks, although sometimes it might take several months.

Often the veterinarian will prescribe a dip called Paramite, or Mitaban (amitraz). Please note, however that Mitaban can be very toxic to animals. It usually takes 1 – 6 months of applying these applications for this disease to heal. These are prescription drugs. When using these dips, ALWAYS wear gloves and only in a place with good ventilation. Follow the directions on the label carefully.

Your veterinarian may also recommend using Dermisil for your dog’s mange. This is a way to treat the mange outbreak without prescription. It mixes with your dog's normal shampoo making for easier application.

Treatments should continue for 3 months. There may be side effects (most often seen in puppies) such as tiredness, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and an odd walk or gait.

Sometimes an antihistamine will be used for Itching – Itching can be helped with antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) with dosage based on your dog’s weight (1 to 3 milligrams per pound).

I’ve read that if you have more than one dog in the house, you should treat them all. Check with your veterinarian about that. Also, mites can jump to humans so wash after handling.

Also my research warned: DO NOT use motor oil for Canine Mange. The oil can be toxic if licked by your pet. DO NOT use corticosteroids. Corticosteroids (cortisone) may control the itch, but actually lowers immunity to mites, allowing them to multiply faster. Once again, be guided by your veterinarian’s advice.

Vitamins and fatty acids are good for dogs that have skin problems. Look for a good supplement or make sure that your dog’s food will provide him with these essential additives.

My rating: Early diagnosis and treatment: (4), topical ointments (Goodwinol Ointment: (4), dips and shampoos: (4)

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I wasn’t born in to a rich family and sometimes times were tough growing up, but my mother always made the holidays special. My sister and I were typical kids. Mom would buy the presents, wrap them and “hide” them. Yeah, right! With two very noisy little girls, no hiding place was too hard for us to find. Somehow those perfectly wrapped presents that my mother painstakingly spent hours wrapping, saw little rips here and there in the Christmas themed paper when she finally did place them under the tree. It seems little eyes and fingers just needed to have a “peek” before Christmas Day! Mom never seemed to notice or if she did, she pretended like she didn’t.

Christmas always has meant a day of family and friends gathering together to share in the holiday spirit. My mother is no longer with us, but her memory and our family traditions always shine brightly in my heart. She had the biggest, kindest heart for someone who didn’t have too much in the way of material things. It was her humble heart that made me love and respect her more; for there were times she would say to me when I got older, “Oh Barb, momma’s alright. The Lord has been good to me. I have everything that I need.” Indeed, my mother had more than any money in the world could buy. She had a great, big old heart! So with that thought in mind…….

I wish all of my friends and their families and “fur” kids a very happy holiday season. May your Christmas day find you surrounded by your loved ones. May your tummies be filled with good food. May your health be good or on the mend. May your worries be few. May there be a song in your heart. May you not receive too many “re-gifts.” May you receive an unexpected happy surprise. May you remember those who do not have much and reach out to them. May you remember the German Shepherds in shelters and pledge to do something to ensure their future safe welfare. May you appreciate all of God’s abundance of “gifts.” May your hearts be light and merry. May you ask for little and give plenty. May you forgive those who have wronged you. May you remember our soldiers who will not be home for Christmas this year. May you remember those who are no longer here with you and let your good memories of them brighten your day. May you love and be loved in return. May you know world peace in your life time. May your prayers be answered. May your burdens be lifted.

Good will! Good cheer! And if you’ve got any little children at home whose little eyes and fingers are looking to “peek,” I hope you look the other way!


My rating: Love and good will: (4)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Recently I had the opportunity to feed my dogs Timberwolf dog food. I’ve always heard so many positive things about this company. I know that Dawn Restuccia (yesterday’s interview on this blog) told me that she feeds Timberwolf exclusively. Her dogs always have such gorgeous healthy looking coats. She also told me about this company’s extreme generosity to her Last Hope, Safe Haven organization. They have donated thousands of pounds (and dollars worth) of dog food and also salmon oil to her organizations efforts to try to bring the rescue dogs back to a healthy body and nerves by feeding them a top food like Timberwolf. This is not the type of food that you would expect to find in a grocery store. This is a high end product and for them to donate so much of it to the rescues is truly amazing. If you go on their website, you will see they have a banner of Last Hope, Safe Haven on it as well!

If you talk to one of Timberwolf’s owners Rozina Choudhry on the telephone, you come to realize that you’re not just talking to another dog food company that’s only interested in the profits her company makes. She truly believes in her companies products because she not only sells it, but she uses it on her own German Shepherds! She’s had German Shepherds for many years so she knows the nutritional requirements of this breed. Mark Heyward is the Founder of Timberwolf Organics. He has put together a great website about this product so I encourage you to take a look at it. I asked Rozina to send me some information for this article and I’m including that now.

Since 1995, Timberwolf has produced rotational pet foods that simulate the natural diet of wild canids and felids. Studies have shown that dogs and wolves share 99% of the same DNA. Domesticated dogs have the sharp teeth and short digestive tracts of their wolf ancestors, and are therefore able to metabolize higher levels of proteins and fats. Cats, true carnivores, have even shorter digestive tracts than dogs. Animals in the wild naturally gravitate toward raw food sources that provide the vitamins and minerals they need.

Timberwolf holistic pet diets combine the health benefits of a raw diet with the convenience of dry kibble. We use only the freshest, highest-grade ingredients: premium protein sources (such as elk and lamb), fruits and vegetables, whole grains, herbs and seeds. You won’t find any cheap fillers or artificial additives in our all-natural pet diets.

In keeping with our “back to basics” philosophy, Timberwolf diets contain high levels of meat and/or meat meals. Our meat meals are made only from fresh meat tissue, and they provide a concentrated source of protein to aid in growth and development. Timberwolf formulas also include tantalizing herbs to enhance flavor and add nutritional value. The health benefits of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil and fennel seed have been well documented through the ages.

Nutrient-dense Timberwolf diets are packed with a balanced blend of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help pets thrive. Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids promote eye health, joint function, healthy skin and a glossy coat.

Timberwolf diets are designed to be rotated every 2-3 months. The purpose behind rotation feeding is to provide your pet with an improved nutrient uptake and a more satisfying feeding experience. Rotational diets can aid in the prevention of food allergies and nutritional deficiencies in the long term, ensuring that the dog or cat receives a full range of vitamins and minerals.

We do not spend money on advertising, because we prefer to put that money into our ingredients. Many of our customers discover us through word of mouth—because a friend, breeder, or veterinarian told them about Timberwolf. Our diets are formulated to meet AAFCO guidelines for all life stages. Whether you have a puppy or a senior, a working animal or a dog with weight issues, you can confidently feed Timberwolf knowing that your pet is receiving a complete and balanced diet.

In August 2008, Timberwolf donated $55,000 worth of food to help homeless animals. We also had great success with our “bag for bag’ program, in which we donated one bag of Timberwolf food for every bag purchased in a 30-day period. Between December and January 2009, we also donated over 82,000 lbs of food to U.S. animal shelters and rescue organizations. Timberwolf is proud to have helped organizations such as Animal Rescue New Orleans, IAMRA, Big Dog Rescue, Animal Haven, Placing Paws, Dogs Deserve Better, Last Hope Safe Haven, Ozark Haven Rescue, Wolf Rescue Resources and the Milo Foundation amongst several others. “More than ever before, we recognized how great the need had become and very few pet food company’s were helping out so we had to go to extreme lengths to help those in need”. Animals are loosing their homes and going hungry and there are those on the front lines who take in so many homeless animals and whose hearts and wallets are at breaking point and they can no longer afford to feed all the animals that are continually arriving at their doors. We applaud them for theirs is a thankless mission of love and compassion tempered with action for which we are eternally grateful.

One thing I noticed when I opened the bags of Timberwolf was the strong smell of the herbs in their products. I am lucky to have great eaters. But I could tell how much they loved this food each time I put it in the bowl. It just doesn’t smell like any other food does. They really got excited each time I scoped out a cup of the food and couldn’t wait to eat it.

For anyone who wonders why they use herbs in their foods, I highly recommend you take a peek on their website. It’ll tell you all the reasons that they use herbs in their dog food as well as answer many other frequently asked questions.

And speaking of those bags that the dog food comes in…..they are not like the everyday type of bag that you usually see when you buy dry dog food. These bags are state of the art oxygen barrier packaging that protects freshness by reducing transfer of oxygen which causes foods to spoil.

I always like it when the people that own a dog food company owns dogs themselves and when they own German Shepherds, that makes it that much better in my eyes. They’re not asking us to feed our dogs anything that their dogs are not being fed. I feel confident that this is a company who cares for the welfare of dogs and knows the nutritional needs to keep them healthy. This is a friendly company to do business with and is willing to answer any questions you may have about their products. In today’s hectic world, having a company who promotes good customer service is very important to me. This is an excellent company who is interested in taking care of our dogs and is interested in making the dog owners happy as well. It’s a win-win situation!

My rating: quality of dog food ingredients: (4), donating to animal rescues: (4), price: (3)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I remember when I first “met” Dawn Restuccia on the telephone a little over four years ago. I came away with the impression that here was a woman who truly loved the breed.  She wasn’t in it for what the breed could do for her………fame and glory; no she was in it to see what she could do for the betterment of the German Shepherd Dog.  Dawn got in touch with me after I wrote one of my articles on the list. She had asked me if I could write a story about a pathetic little female dog that had acid thrown all over her body and wondered if I could help get the word out about this horrific story.  So I wrote a story called, “Mooie” which received the attention that Dawn was hoping for and so began a warm friendship between us.   I finally got to meet Dawn in person at a futurity a couple of years ago.   Here was this unassuming woman with the big personality.  I am now glad to be able to call her friend.

Me: How long have you owned German Shepherds and why did you decide on this breed?

Dawn:  I have had dogs of one sort or another my entire life.  When our last dog (a Lhasa Apso) passed away, I purchased Krunch#1 for my husband’s birthday gift.  He had always wanted a GSD.  We took great care in selecting our newest addition, interviewing several breeders and visiting quite a few kennels.  We settled on Krunch from a Rhode Island breeder and could not have been more pleased.  His intelligence was astounding.  When he was 6 months old, we brought him back to his breeder for evaluation.  A video of Krunch was sent to Billy Rossi and the rest is history.  That was more than 15 years ago.

Me: Most people, who have heard of you, associate you as the founder of Last Hope, Safe Haven. Can you tell us how you got involved with this? When did you start trying to help shelter dogs and why?

Dawn:  I do not remember what led me to the Petfinder link for Willow; a beautiful throwaway GSD in a Chatsworth Georgia shelter.  All I remember is her eyes, staring out from behind the chain link.  She had such a quizzical if she were asking "What did I do wrong? Where are my owners?"  The thought of this beautiful creature being destroyed for no reason other than the lack of a rescue or a home made no sense to me.  I went to our national chat list and posted her need where I was met with people offering to go to pull her and drive her great distances to another GSD lover in NC where she remained until she was adopted. One dog after another followed; all in desperate need.  I was in awe of the number of German Shepherd breeders and AKC competitors who were willing to assist either financially; with transport or temporary fostering.  In speaking with the Rescues, I realized that many had foster homes available but did not have the money for the altering and vaccinations for the dogs.  There was also a lack of any emergent care funding; another thing that LHSH provides when our finances permit.  We have covered the expenses for heart worm treatment and many types of surgeries for dogs who otherwise would have had to been destroyed.  Our initial motivation for LHSH was to provide rescues with the necessary finances required in "pulling" a German Shepherd facing an uncertain fate in a kill facility. In the beginning we had hoped to have a Sanctuary for those dogs that were not adoptable and the seniors.  While we have not eliminated that ultimate goal, it is on hold until we have the funding to provide for such an enormous undertaking.  To date, together with the many Rescues we work with, LHSH is honored to have assisted more than 450 German Shepherds on to new lives of hope and love.

Me: Just what is it that Last Hope, Safe Haven does?

Dawn:   LHSH is a 501c3 national German Shepherd Rescue assistance organization, bridging the financial gap between shelter and Rescue for German Shepherds in critical situations.  We cover the cost of spay/neuter, HW testing, age appropriate vaccinations and up to three days of board while transport is arranged by an LHSH approved Rescue.  Typically, this represents a cost of approximately $150.  We work with both purebred and all breed Rescues.  When the dog is adopted, we only ask that any money realized be utilized to save another life.  We do not deduct the adoption money from whatever is paid out to the Rescue.  We also raise funds to assist GSDs who are in crisis already IN rescue, such as in the case of Lukas in North Carolina. Found tied to a bumper of a fire truck, weighing a mere 47 pounds and covered in bedsores, A Shelter Friends' founder Krista Hansen called on LHSH to assist with his medical care (which was extensive).  Through donations, we were able to cover $700 of Lukas' care; the difference between life and death for a dog who only wants to love someone.

Me: What are you most proud of with your organization?

Dawn:  I am continually amazed at the outpouring of support from so many wonderful people.  We have raised well over $30, small feat in this economic downturn.  Fully 99% of every dollar donated goes to direct care of a dog.  The remaining 1% is for administrative expenses such as brochures.  I am proud of the people who have helped make LHSH what it is, our Board members both past and present.  I am very proud of those volunteers who have trudged out to dog shows in downpours to raise much needed funds...I am proud to know so many wonderful people in Rescue, who give their life's blood each and every day to save just one more dog.  They are the real hero's here.

Me: OK, so now that people know about Last Hope, Safe Haven, I bet not too many people know about your small breeding program.  Can you tell us about that and what is the name of your kennel?

Dawn:  The name of our kennel is Laxfield. It is in honor of a dear friend who raised Connemara horses in Weston, Massachusetts.  It was the name of his farm and where we lived for several years.  Eleven years ago, we lost our precious Shandrani at 3 years old to mesenteric torsion. Krunch #1 was inconsolable, so we set out on a journey to add yet another GSD to our band.  In came Kizzy (Red Rock's Champagne Kisses ROM), the light of Krunch's life and the show dog I had always hoped for.  Due to my declining health, I was unable to finish her (she lacks only a final major). We did however; succeed in breeding her two times to Dallas, resulting in 6 AKC Champions which gave Kiz her ROM.  I kept four of the resulting progeny; Krunch #2, Vinnie, Arwen and Gracie. Krunch and Vin are both "finished".  Krunch is currently being shown in Juniors with his co owner, Chris Martin.  Vinnie (Ch. Laxfields Hit Man) has multiple group wins and placements as well as an Award of Merit which he garnered at the 2008 Westminster Kennel Club show. Gracie and Arwen are both AKC pointed.

Me: I know you have told me several times that you prefer showing in the All-Breed ring rather than in the Specialty ring.  Can you explain this to our reading audience?

Dawn:  I have shown in both venues successfully.  Vinnie and Kizzy both had Major Reserves in the specialty rings.  That being said, the camaraderie you experience with the exhibitors in the all breed ring is a better fit for me.  The atmosphere is different; how can I say...less stressful?  There are also a great many more All breed shows here in the northeast.

Me: Do you show any of your dogs in obedience work? How about therapy work?

Dawn:  Krunch was certified by Therapy Dogs International as a Therapy dog.  His younger sister Esme is a Service dog in Ohio and Vinnie is my Service dog.  Vinnie's brother Cash is not only an AKC Champion, but is a herding dog as well.  Four other siblings live in homes with small children.

Me: What are you most proud of with your own dogs?

Dawn:  The temperaments.  Some of my best memories of showing are the times when people ask if they can pat my dog and I can comfortably say yes.  I remember one time at the Cape Cod shows when a small child was sitting on the ground eating his hotdog.  Vinnie calmly went over and washed his face in a half hearted attempt to grab some crumbs.  Vinnie is my "dog of a lifetime"; he continues to take my breath away. Watching him "work the crowd" at Westminster was a sight to behold.  He always looked for the camera and seemed to know where his light was best.  He is the quintessential ham.

Me: Who is your favorite German Shepherd dog of all time and why?

Dawn:  That is a hard question to answer.  Kizzy has given me the ride of a lifetime.  I never could have imagined having 6 Champions, competing at Westminster or finishing two of her progeny within one week of each other...those are feelings I will never, ever forget.  She was the beginning, my foundation...and I cannot imagine living without her.   Dallas has always had my heart since the day I met him.  His character was beyond reproach.  Not only was he physically beautiful outside, he was a true gentleman inside.  Together, they gave me the stuff dreams are made of.

Me: What are you most proud of in the breed today?

Dawn:  I have a very limited view here in my little corner of the world.  It appears that the males are looking more masculine; a pet peeve of mine.  People seem to be concentrating on temperament more and more. Without stability, you have a potentially loaded gun.

Me: How would you like to see the breed improved upon?

Dawn:  I would like to see people breed for the TOTAL dog and not just side gait...which is what appears to be the case.  What good is a fluid side gait on a GSD that is physically unappealing? Or worse yet, unstable?

Me:  What's the one thing about the breed that really bugs you?

Dawn:   Unstable temperaments and GSDs that are shaking ringside or tucking their tails in the ring.  I have had SO many people contact me attempting to place their dog who "only bit one time"... In my opinion, breeding a dog with an unstable, unpredictable temperament is unethical.

Me: Who have been some of the most influential people who have mentored or helped you in the breed?

Dawn:  First, it was Debbie Hokanen (sp).  We were taking Krunch#1 to handling class in Attleboro Mass (an hour each way to drive, two nights a week) and working hard to get him ready for the show ring.  We had joined one of the local regional clubs only to be told by "those who knew" that he "was a pet"..."far too large".. "didn’t have good pigment"...etc.  We were feeling very down when we ran into Deb and Sam at the handling class.  I told her of our encounter with "those who knew"...she responded with a resounding, "Do you believe in your dog?  Do you love your dog?  Then go and have fun with your dog and don't listen to anyone else"...Who knows what would have happened had she not offered those words of encouragement? There were many who offered advice and guidance along the way...Dallas's owners, Angela and Colin Howells, Sally Robbins and Billy Rossi, (our very first handler and the one who introduced us to the wonderful world of double handling) to name but a few.  I feel blessed to have had these people in my life.

Me: In your opinion, what needs to be done so we don't see so many German Shepherds in shelters?

Dawn:  As breeders, we need to insure that when we place a puppy, we do so with utmost concern.  Perhaps offering cash incentives for spay/neuter or obedience classes taken.  Sell your puppies on limited Registration.  Insist that the potential puppy buyer have a Puppy Kindergarten class set up before that pup leaves your hands and follow up with them to see how it is going.  Check to see if the trainer of that class has had experience with GSDs and if they use positive reinforcement methods of training.  Ask what their plans are for a puppy if they have to work and do not sell pups to people who work full time and who cannot afford either a dog walker or to send your puppy to doggy day care.  Puppies left alone are puppies that get into trouble.  Let your puppy buyer know by contractual obligation that you have the right of first refusal for the life of the dog; offer them back their purchase price if necessary...whatever it takes to get your dog back. Make it a habit to contact your puppy people at least once a year to see how they are doing.  Let them know you are in that dog’s life FOR its lifetime.  You breed own it...until it dies.  You are the reason that puppy is here; it was by your choice.  Not your bitches, nor the dogs.  If you cannot take a puppy or dog back that you bred, assist the owner in re-homing the dog; up to and including the paying of boarding for him/her.   Educate people about (dare I say it) pet overpopulation.  If you can stop just one person from breeding the neighbors GSD Spike to their little Juliette, you may be eliminating a lifetime of misery for a puppy who did not ask to be brought into the world. Breeding should be left up to those who have ethics, can afford the financial cost and are breeding to improve the breed...not to get those few extra bucks for a new bauble or to entertain the children with "the miracle of birth."  I recently had someone ask me about breeding.  After reading my diatribe about the potential horrors of a whelping gone wrong and the resulting $3,500 vet bill, I got a quick reply..."you scared me straight"...I could not have been more pleased.  Most people do not consider the cost of an emergency c section at 2 am on a Sunday morning for their beloved family pet or the possibility of losing her in the process.  Try explaining THAT to the kids.

Me: What's your hope for the future in the breed?

Dawn:  I hope that ethical breeders continue to breed sound, stable, BEAUTIFUL German Shepherds who can be ambassadors for the breed in ANY situation.   Dogs with brains as well as brawn...dogs that are built to do the job they were bred for; either herding sheep or taking down a felon.  The German Shepherd is a dog that can do it all when bred correctly and properly socialized and trained.

Me: Is there anything that you haven't achieved in the breed that you still want to do?

Dawn: Westminster! lol...All kidding aside, I have achieved SO much more than I could have ever hoped for.  I followed my heart; it didn't lead me astray. I am truly blessed.

Me: What are three things that people don't know about you, but would be surprised if they did?

Dawn:  Probably that I am legally disabled for one...I have fibromyalgia syndrome and suffer from chronic migraines.  I have 6 kids and 8 grandchildren. I bear a striking resemblance to Shamu...or Quasimodo.

In 2008, Dawn was awarded the much deserved Presidents Award by the German Shepherd Dog Club of America.  Whether she’s showing one of her beloved dogs or helping a forgotten or abused German Shepherd find its forever home, this is a woman whose heart is truly in the right place! The breed is better for having her in it!

Thank you Dawn for giving me permission to do this interview and to use your pictures for this article.

My rating:  Last Hope, Safe Haven:  (4), German Shepherd Dog rescues:  (4)

Monday, December 21, 2009


I watched an excellent program about dogs on the “Animal Planet” channel the end of last week. Perhaps you saw it as well. I was glued to the program because it almost socked me in the eye, almost like a wake up call if you will. It was talking about how dogs became…..well dogs. There are some different theories about it, but most conclude that they originated from the wolf. So this was nothing new to me. I’ve heard that one many times. But what made me sit up and take notice was when the commentator said that the dog is man made. I really never looked at it that way before. It’s almost like it’s not really a true species of an animal. It was created from another animal that existed on this planet for many years….the wolf.

The wolf comes from part of a group that is known as the canidae which include wolves, jackals, coyotes, dingoes, and foxes. It is thought that today’s domesticated dog is probably a mutated form of the Middle Eastern or East Asian wolf. There is archaeological evidence which points to a time-period some 12,000 to 15,000 years ago when man started creating permanent settlements. Some feel that the modern dog may have first surfaced in Northern Israel.

I love this little story about Archaeologists discovering remains of a burial site at a Natufian village called Ain Mallaha. It is here that the remains of an old man and a young pup were found buried together. The man’s left hand was cradling the puppy. They estimate that the puppy was three to four months old and was probably killed to give the man company and companionship on his journey to the afterlife. What makes this an important find is that it is the earliest chronological evidence pointing to the domestication of a dog. It would seem to suggest that humans had started accepting dogs not just as pariahs and vermin, but as companions and trusted pets,

We as breeders have made the dog what it is today with all the good that that entails as well as the bad. Man decides if he wants the dog to have a short body, a long tail, short legs, pushed in snout or a square head. Through the years man has used different breeds of dogs to create new breeds of dogs. When you think about it, it isn’t too different from what some people are doing today when they create the “designer” breeds. A lot of us complain about it, but it’s no different than what man has been doing for centuries. He’s always looking to improve on what he already has and in order to do that, he had to many times cross breed the different breeds of dogs to create a new breed.

What I found interesting in this program was how they showed that they raised wolves and their puppies and socialized them with man. The wolves were very affectionate with the people and even trainable. But what was fascinating and what really set the dog apart from the wolf was the dog’s need of man. The wolf had no need of man. They are independent from him, whereas, the dog is dependent on him.

The experiment that they did to show this point was to show how the dog if given instruction and training to find a piece of food will do so by the human showing him where to get it. Example: One person held the dog on a leash. The other person walked to the other side of the room and put two plates of food on the floor. This person gave the dog hand signals letting him know that he wanted him to get the food from the plate that he instructs him to retrieve it from, even though the other plate also has food. The dog watched and when let loose, he went to the plate that the instructor pointed to. They did the same experiment with the wolf. The wolf never went to the plate that the human pointed out. He always went for the other plate. This illustrates that the dog was meant to be a companion to man and truly lives for us and looks to us for leadership.

You can not domesticate a wolf. You can train him, but not domesticate him. From the time he is a little baby, he would need almost 24 hour supervision with the man and then this would have to continue when breeding this same pup when he got older. The same thing would have to be done with his puppies. They would be born wild and need hand rearing all over again. Wolves have a fear of man and man also fears the wolf. Even when trained they can be unpredictable, fierce and immensely powerful.

In many countries it is illegal to own a wolf or wolf hybrid. Some places you can own a Utonagan which is a cross between German Shepherds, Huskies, Eskimo Dogs and Malamutes and sometimes a few others. They are magnificently beautiful and look wolf-like, fortunately they do not act like wolves although they have been difficult to handle.

It is sad to note, that many countries that formerly had wolf populations, including Great Britain, Mexico, and Japan, now have none, and in other countries, such as the United States, wolves occupy only a fraction of their former territory.

What made me really pay attention to this program is when a few different times it said how we breeders are the ones who are responsible for all the health problems and faults within the dog’s population. It doesn’t come from any place else, but from you and me. It’s all in the breeders hands. We created these animals and sometimes their health suffers for it. I mean I never really looked at it that way before. I kept saying to myself all these years, where the heck are all these health problems coming from in our breed? The answer is you and me! We talk about health problems all the time. Watch out for that bloodline. Don’t use that dog. This dog produces that problem, and so on. But I truly never looked at it from this viewpoint before. That dog doesn’t produce the problem. We breeders produce the problems. The dog is sick or carries the potential for making his offspring sick because we weren’t conscientious enough to breed away from some of those problems. Some of us were too concerned about the pigment, the side gait, the front, etc. etc. We got lost somehow along the way and forgot that all the prettiest, all the extreme side gait in the world, mean absolutely nothing if that gorgeous dog is only on this earth for three years before he drops dead.

Some people should not be breeders. To be a breeder carries with it a BIG responsibility. If we want to be the creators, then we need to also be the guardian of the health of our dogs and the dogs through the next generations. There is no such thing as a good breeder who only produces the winners who only lives a few short years. There are some very unhealthy bloodlines out in the genetic pool made so by unhealthy breeding habits. If your dog has health problems don’t just look at his pedigree. Look at his breeders and those breeders before them. They made the line unhealthy and so now it’s up to today’s breeders to get rid of the cesspool of genetic time bombs. When breeding, we should not only be breeding for the beauty and movement that the German Shepherd dog is known for, but more importantly the longevity of this breed to ensure future generations of strong healthy animals! So truly, it’s a little bit me, it’s a little bit you. The future health of the German Shepherd dog lies in our hands!

My rating: breeding away from health problems: (4), just breeding for structure and motion: (1)

Friday, December 18, 2009


If you’re the owner of that stud dog who is the father, how does that make you feel? Are you mad? Do you disagree? Do you point out all the reasons that the father is better? Or do you thank them and agree knowing it’s the truth and be happy about it? There’s no correct answer to that question because everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if you’re a smart breeder, you’ll know that that is probably one of the best compliments your stud dog could receive! You have in your hands and own a prepotent stud dog! Congratulations!

A prepotent stud dog is one who exhibits genetic prepotency. For a dog to produce as good as or better than himself is what most breeders can only dream about. What good is a dog that does a lot of winning and is a gorgeous representative of the breed but never produces it? The same thing holds true for a bitch. There have been some beautiful Selects and GV/GVX who never produced any great quality. And most of the times these are the dogs and bitches who are afforded the best opportunities when it comes to breeding. On the other hand, some people don’t care if you ever use their stud dog or buy a puppy from their bitch. They’re just happy showing and winning with their dog. That’s fine as well. We’re all in this breed for different reasons.

In my opinion, there is nothing better for a German Shepherd who is used for stud or whelping litters than for them to acquire their ROM (Register of Merit) titles. To me this is the ultimate achievement when talking about breeding animals. Some champions never achieve this goal.

So you have this dog that is a better dog than his father. Do you breed to this better quality dog or do you breed to his father? I would breed to the father because he has already proven that he is an excellent producer. The young stud dog has yet to prove that.
Hopefully the father will have passed on his excellent producing genes to his sons and daughters, but here too that is not always the case because you have to factor in the bitches line that he’s being bred to.

An excellent example of a dog producing better than him and passing his producing abilities on to his kids was Dallas. I saw the dog in his stud dog class at the 2005’ National Specialty show. Was he my favorite dog in the world? No. In fact he wasn’t my type of dog at all except for his marvelous disposition and he was a handsome boy. But in his favor, I must say that his offspring are producing like mad! Every time I pick up a Review, I always look in the back pages to see the winner’s classes. I would say that 85% of the time, they have been sired by the well known Dallas son, known as Bailey. He has produced some really nice animals. Then to take it even further, take a look at his son Oscar. Here is another fantastic producing dog. He’s already made his ROM. Another Dallas son known as Danny Boy also made his ROM without having a ton of bitches bred to him. Now as I said I wasn’t a fan of Dallas, but I’m a fan of some of his wonderful producing offspring.

I never saw the great producing GV Ch Lance of Fran-Jo ROM. He was a little before my time. Looking at pictures of him however, I wouldn’t necessarily call him a breath taking dog although many times he was the father of many breath taking dogs. One of my all time favorite dogs was a son of Lance known as GV Ch Mannix of Fran-Jo ROM. Now here was a magnificent looking dog, but I didn’t think he was a magnificent prepotent stud dog. Oh, he made his ROM, but in my opinion he never produced anyone that looked like him or that was better than him except for maybe his son GV Ch Scorpio of Shiloh Gardens ROM. I don’t know if he was better than Mannix, but he was a great one. Never having seen either one of these beautiful dogs except to gaze at their pictures, I couldn’t determine that. Scorpio never lived long enough although made his ROM in a short amount of time.

When you have a dog that is as gorgeous looking as Mannix was, how would it be possible to produce one who looked better than he did? He had the head, he had the front, he had the rear and he had the plush coat. Oh yeah, let’s not forget his magnificent side gait. So it is a mighty tall order than for a dog of this exceptional quality to produce better than himself.

Sometimes when you breed a wonderful dog or bitch, they may produce champions but they don’t resemble the sire or dam. My BIM Ch Arbar’s Xanadu ROM was a case in point. Xanadu didn’t produce what she looked like. The sires were the one’s who dominated her litters in breed type. She however, excelled at producing her beautiful side gait (which was one of her most outstanding attributes) and her exceptional oval shaped bone so I was more than satisfied.

So next time someone looks at a young offspring from one of your dogs and says the youngster is better, thank them. They may have not meant it as a compliment and they may have even said it with sarcasm, but whether they realized it or not, they just gave your dog a compliment!

Have a great week-end everyone!

My rating: prepotent stud or bitch: (4), ROM’s (4)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Today I wanted to write about some of the things that make a German Shepherd look like a German Shepherd. You’ll hear the breeder discuss the structure of the dog and the movement that he is known for. These are the things besides temperament that we pay the most attention to. But some of the smaller things on the dog can make or break the whole look of this noble breed. Without it, they just don’t look too noble at all.

I’m talking about the ears, eyes and feet of this dog! I’ve already wrote about the ears in another earlier post, but I just wanted to say once again without a good ear set, the German Shepherd’s head just doesn’t look noble at all! Floppy, soft, or ears sticking out to the side just ruins the look of the dog’s head. Even if you were to ask a novice person or the pet person something about this breed, probably one of the first things that they will comment on his the German Shepherds ears and how beautiful his head is!

You don’t hear too many people talk about the color and shape of the German Shepherd’s eyes. Probably (in this writer’s opinion) one of the most unattractive things on a dog’s face is if he doesn’t have the proper color and shape to his eyes. The GSDCA’s standard says, (and I quote): "The expression is keen, intelligent and composed. Eyes of medium size, almond shaped, set a little obliquely and not protruding. The color is as dark as possible." End quote. Also I’ve seen and actually owned a champion who had gorgeous deep Mahoney colored eyes that matched her Mahoney colored facial hair. Very pretty!

Did you ever see a German Shepherd with a yellow protruding ROUND shaped eye? Yuck! Even though he may be the smartest dog on earth, he doesn’t look like it. No nobility on this dog’s face. This among other things only reinforces the need for a breed standard! The ideal eye shape for the German Shepherd is the same ideal eye shape for a beautiful woman……almond shaped! Take a look at some of the world’s most beautiful women and look at the shape of their eyes. Just thought I’d throw that in!

Now onto the feet of the German Shepherd. None of my three girls have great feet. “Bu” probably has the best feet, but it certainly wouldn’t be her claim to fame! I love a good looking foot. In fact, I wish I had better looking feet myself, but this isn’t about me! Another quote from the GSDCA’s breed standard about feet: "The feet are short, compact with toes well arched, pads thick and firm, and nails short and dark." End quote.

Some dogs with the less than ideal foot will have what they call a splayed foot. The toes are long and spread open rather than short and compact. You won’t see a nice thick, firm pad. The pad is not as “cushiony” but looks like it lies flat on the ground. Many times this type of foot has nails that always seem to grow out so quickly. Someone told me recently that she has a bitch that has beautiful feet and she never has to cut her toenails. In fact, she told me that she hasn’t cut her nails since she was a puppy and the bitch is now six years old! I want that bitch!

There’s something about the dog that has black toenails that makes the foot look that much more attractive……almost healthier looking for some reason. Sure the light nail is much easier to cut because you can see the quick in the nail whereas the black nail is a much more delicate situation trying to avoid the quick when you’re cutting their nails.

It’s all about the genetics of his pedigree. I don’t know how easily it is to correct some of these things. Maybe better feet would be the easiest of the three. I think that the ears are the hardest to correct in one generation. What do you guys think?

So ears, eyes, and feet will most definitely make or break the way that your German Shepherd Dog looks. A homely German Shepherd just isn’t too nice to look at. Oh he’s still a lovable brute, but he’s not going to win any beauty contest and I suppose that that’s alright for some people and sometimes the homeliest is the easiest to love. But for me when I think of this great breed, a picture comes to my mind and it’s not of a protruding, round yellowed eyed, floppy eared dog standing with splayed feet and his tongue sticking out looking goofy. The German Shepherd Dog must have presence…..preferably a noble presence!

My rating: soft ears, poor ear set: (1), splayed feet: (1), yellow round eyes: (1)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Oh I am without doubt the worst when it comes to buying holiday gifts for this time of year. I mean I procrastinate. I’m just plain awful. By now, most people have bought their gifts and they’ve even wrapped them. Cards have been sent and they’re planning their holiday meals. Christmas trees have been decorated and the outside house decorations are the envy of the neighborhood. I’ll wait to the very last minute before I go out to do what everyone else has been doing for the last few months. Well at least I’ll know what my New Years resolution will be……to stop procrastinating!

So for those few people out there who are like me, still pondering about what to get great Aunt Matilda, I’ve got some gift suggestions you might like to consider. I’m sure if we put our collective minds together we can come up with something. Most of these ideas will be geared towards our “fur” owning families and friends.

For those people who have everything: how about personalized items? You know the ones I mean…..those things that you can have their names, kennels, or dog’s names engraved on something. Suggestions might be: t-shirts, mouse pads, hats, totes, license plate holders, letterhead stationery or cards. And if you’re a big spender, how about a portrait of their beloved dog or dogs?

For the easy to please type of people: You can do the same thing for these guys by giving them a personalized gift or skip the monograms and give them a plain old t-shirt, etc. After all they’re easy and will love whatever you give them even if it is just another polyester shirt or boxed tie. A nice idea might be a dog breed book or a movie that has a dog as its leading character. How about a DVD of the “Dog Whisperer” series?

For the children of “fur” owning parents: Give the kids books about the German Shepherd Dog. Teach them early. Pay to have a pro teach them the ins and outs of dog show handling. Pay a professional to train your dog with your kid on the end of the leash. Buy him a new bike so he can help road work the dogs. Save up for a trip to the National so your child can compete in the junior handling events. Get him involved. Buy him the best dog grooming products so he can participate in the care of the dogs. You have no idea how happy this will make him! While all his friends brag about their football victories, Johnny will have bragging rights about his new Grand Victor (in the making)!

For the husband or boyfriend of a “fur” owning woman: Buy him a new vanity plate for his car with your kennel name on it. How about some doggie mats for his car? Give him a new video camera so he can tape all the dog shows you go to. Buy him one of those chairs that have the umbrella attachment so he’s protected from the sun when he’s watching the dog shows. Even better, buy him one of those tent like awnings and invite all your friends to sit and watch the show with the two of you. Get him a new barbecue grill for all the dog parties you plan on giving this year and designate him as the top chef! And there you go, how about personalizing a new barbecuing apron for your champ of a husband? And if you’re a big spender, how about giving him a year’s membership in the gym so he’ll be in better shape to help you double handle the dogs. If this is out of your budget, you can always buy him a new pair of sneakers to help him better double handle your new up and coming star! He’ll love you for it!

For the wife or girlfriend of the “fur” owning man: How about buying her a new top show quality puppy that she’s been having her eye on for the last month? You know she wants that puppy to add to the twenty dogs that she already has! Just think how grateful she’ll be. How about buying her a new sweat pants outfit to clean the dog kennels? In fact, buy her two or three so you don’t get tired of looking at her in the same one. And if you’re really on a budget, here’s one that won’t cost you a dime. Volunteer to pick up the dog’s kennels for the next couple of months or even just on the week-ends. Make sure they have clean, fresh water without having her ask you if you’ve checked. Go ahead, surprise her! Buy her a new vacuum that’s great for picking up dog hair, or how about one of those steamers for the carpet? She’ll appreciate you thinking of lightening her work load! Give her tickets for the host hotel at next years National Specialty show and tell her you plan on coming with her! For the really big spender, give her the keys to a brand new van that can easily accommodate 4 dog crates! To show her appreciation, she might even make you her secret recipe meat loaf that night!

What to give your “doggie” friends: Bake up some home made dog biscuits and tie them up with a pretty ribbon. Layer the ingredients for home made dog biscuits in a plain glass jar and include the instructions for baking them and put a festive bow on top of the lid. Buy them a new doggie brush or comb. How about a new bottle of shampoo or conditioner? Offer to “doggie” sit so they can go out to a dinner and movie one night. You can offer to help leash train some of their new puppies on a Saturday afternoon. Bring a pot luck dish and you can have a light lunch together. How about gifting her with this years newest Redbook? You can order that on the GSDCA’s website. And if you’re really a big spender, how about offering to pay for her membership dues so she’s sure not to miss out on receiving her latest issue of The German Shepherd Dog Review?

If your budget is really only able to squeeze out $5 to $10 a person, buy them a lottery ticket and help make someone a millionaire! Or you can donate in their name to one of their favorite charities or donate to Last Hope, Safe Haven to help save a German Shepherd from a shelter and do it in your friends name! The needy dog will be forever grateful that you did!

And for your own “fur” kids: Buy him a top supplement like Vibrant Pets (from yours truly) to help keep him healthy all year. Call up Mary and ask her to send you some more Naked Care for grooming his coat so he’ll look real pretty for his Christmas picture! How about ordering a new leash from Emily the Leash Lady? E-mail me and let me do a personalized t-shirt, mouse pad, tote or hat for that special person. (See the above pictures with this article). Get in touch with Ginger Cleary and ask her to do a sketch of your dog for you. Ask Sally if she can send you one of her jackets with her beautiful hand made German Shepherd embroidery decorations. If you really are looking for a very SPECIAL “one of a kind” gift, no one does more beautiful paintings then our very own Syd Mailberg! Ask anyone who has one of her lovely portraits how much they love her work! I’m sure there are many more people in our breed who sells wonderful things that would make great gifts. Seek them out and support what they do!

So there you have it, all you last minute procrastinators! The list of possibilities is endless. But do it now, shipping to get those gifts in time for Santa’s delivery is coming down to the wire. After all, there are just so many gifts he can fit on that sleigh. And besides rumor has it, (and I have it from Mrs. Clauses own mouth), Rudolph is on strike and might have to be replaced with another reindeer! So make those calls, send those e-mails, but get your orders in. Don’t find yourself like me, going to the stores late Christmas Eve looking over the last remnants of gifts that other shoppers didn’t want. Will I ever learn to put a stop to this madness or come this time next year, find myself rummaging through the “nobody wants” pile of leftovers once again? Stay tuned!

My rating: Buy gifts from our dog community: (4), home made gifts: (4), receiving “big spenders” gifts: (4++++++)!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


There are so many different dog grooming supplies on the market, it could make your head spin. Just what does each of these things do and are they really necessary in making your dogs coat look beautiful? Let’s take a look at some of them.


SLICKER BRUSH: These brushes have fine wire pins that are secured to a flat base. The pins are bent on an angle. You can get them in different sizes and different pin stiffness. This type of brush is better suited for the long coated dog. It’s ideal to remove loose hair and mats or for dematting. The heavier and thicker the coat, the stiffer the pins should be. This type of brush is good for the long coated Shepherd. A high quality brush to check out is Chris Christensen slicker brushes.

PIN BRUSH: The pin brush is usually oval and have metal bristles set in a flexible rubber base. These brushes are good for dogs that have a wavy or long coat. It’s important to make sure that the brush you chose has polished or coated pins so the brush doesn’t scratch or irritate the dog’s skin. Once the pins lose their coating, it’s time to replace the brush. Again, a good choice for these types of brushes is from Chris Christensen’s line because of their excellent quality. They may last a lifetime.

BRISTLE BRUSH: This is the type of brush that is best for the short-coated dogs for everyday grooming and to remove surface dust and dirt. It’s also an excellent choice to finish the coat and bring out its shine.

COMBINATION PIN/BRISTLE BRUSH: As the name states, this is a two in one type of brush combining the pin and bristle brush together. You can use one side to groom the dogs short hair areas and the other side to penetrate the under coat of the German Shepherd’s body.

PORCUPINE BRUSH: This is a brush that combines long quill like bristles with shorter bristles. It is a brush that is best suited to remove loose hair and debris from medium length hair to the long coated Shepherd.


ZOOM GROOM BRUSH: This is ideal for long or short-coated dogs. The Zoom Groom can be used on wet or dry coats. This is a great brush to use at bath time. It’s waterproof; collects hair like a magnet and it’s easy to remove the loose hair from the brush.

RUBBER GROOMING GLOVE AND DOG BRUSHES: These brushes are designed to remove the hair of a short coated dog. They come in rubber dog brushes, rubber bathing mittens and rubber curry brushes. You don’t actually brush your dog with these grooming aids, but you massage the dog’s coat in a circular motion. It can be used on a wet or dry coat. The bathing glove works well at bath time to help lather up and rinse the dog.


STANDARD METAL COMB: This comb has widely spaced teeth on one end of the comb and finer teeth on the other side of the comb. A standard combination comb will have widely spaced teeth at one end and finer spaced teeth at the other end. A highly recommend metal comb is the Butter comb by Chris Christensen. It easily glides through the dog’s hair.

DEMATTING COMB: German Shepherd Dogs coat rarely mat so this is not a favorite coat for grooming this breed. The only time you may have use for this coat with this breed is if he is a long coat or plush coated dog. This type of comb has very sharp teeth used to split and remove mats. If you find the need to use this type of comb, use caution with it as it can injure your dog’s skin.

UNDERCOAT RAKE: This is an ideal comb for the German Shepherd Dog. It is used for dogs that have an undercoat. It is designed for the undercoat of the dog and will remove loose hair quicker than the regular type of comb.

SHEDDING COMB: These combs have long and short teeth. The widely spaced, longer teeth comb out the dense undercoat... while the shorter teeth separate the longer outer coat.

SHEDDING BLADE: This is used like a brush and is designed to remove loose hair from a dog that sheds a lot like the German Shepherd.

FLEA COMB: These are very fined tooth like combs that effectively remove fleas from the dog’s coat. It can also be used to groom the hair on the dog’s face. Make sure you always clean the comb in a bowl of soapy water after each stroke to remove and drown any fleas that are removed by the comb.

FURMINATOR: This has become a favorite of the German Shepherd Dog owner because of its excellence in removing the under coat of this breed. See my review of this product in an earlier post on my blog.

So besides feeding our dogs a top quality diet and supplements, brushing and grooming them is also an important factor in maintaining a healthy, glossy coat. Dog brushing spreads the animal’s natural oils throughout his coat which gives him that beautiful shine. Because the German Shepherd Dog is a breed that sheds all the time, grooming should be an important part of the care of this breed.

I think you can get away with buying a cheaper comb, but not a cheaper brush. The combs are usually quite sturdy, but the brushes if cheaply made can fall apart too quickly. I don’t know how many brushes I’ve replaced. It’s more economical to spend a little more up front than having to replace them every few months. Chris Christensen brushes usually can run from $22 to over $50. Among other places, you can find his brushes at Cherrybrook. The Furminator can be found all over the internet. For some of the best prices on the Furminator, check out Amazon and E-bay!

My rating: top quality brushes and combs: (4), lower quality brushes: (2), lower quality combs: (3)

Monday, December 14, 2009


I always thought it would be so much fun traveling in an RV (recreation vehicle) going across country. There’s no set schedule to follow. No check in time. No check out time. You can come and go as you please. Just imagine all the wonderful things you can see and visit. Unless I win the Mega Millions, an RV will just have to remain part of my dreams. When researching for this article, I actually saw a motor home that was for sale for ONLY $1,250,000! Yup, you read that right………over a million dollars! I’m sure these are the type of buses (that’s what this one looked like) that the country/western or rock stars travel in. Inside they look like a five star hotel!

Some people who show dogs and some handlers own RV’s (motor homes). Most of the time I’ve seen the larger RV’s that show dog people own. If you are traveling with dogs, naturally you’ll need the room for dog crates and that can take up a lot of space even when you are stacking them on top of one another.

When choosing which RV to buy, there are some things to take into consideration. Obviously the number one thing is how much money you can afford to spend. As noted, some RV’s cost as much or more as a house! Naturally comfort is important. Roominess is another factor. Is a nice little kitchen important to you with modern conveniences? Does it have a table to eat at? Is the bathroom large enough? Does it have a shower? What about the bedding area? How’s the storage areas? Some have hidden storage under the seat cushions of the sofa. How many people can sleep in the RV? Does it have enough room for dog crates? Generators are standard or available in most motor homes, so you’re less dependent on campground hookups. Motor homes are run by diesel or gas.

I don’t think people who own RV’s are looking to save money by not staying at a hotel. I think people who choose to own an RV, choose it because of the freedom it affords them. They can travel at their own pace. They just have to find places for hook ups for their motor homes and places that will allow dogs to be exercised.

There are three classes of RV’s, (A, B, & C), but for this article I’m writing about class C and class A. The class C motor home is great for small trips. These smaller motor homes are built on a van chassis with attached cab section. Some of them feature a large bed over the cab. Larger Class A motor homes feature open, spacious floor plans and are an excellent choice for extended trips. Class A motor homes have an integrated chassis (they look more “bus-like”). Gasoline-powered Class As is typically less expensive than diesels, and, since most have the engine in the front they offer more flexibility in the rear floor plan. Diesel-powered Class As tend to be more powerful and more fuel efficient than gasoline models. Most have the engine in the rear, which makes these smoother and quieter to drive.

There are many different dealers who sell RV’s. Do your research about the reliability of the manufacturers of these motor homes. Ask other motor home owners what they think about their RV’s. I’m sure they can give you some tips of what to look for. For instance, how well does the motor home handle on the road? Some of them I’m told are very easy to drive whereas, some of them are much harder and someone told me that they sold their first motor home because it was not easy to handle on the road. They bought another one and driving it is so much nicer.

Some popular manufacturers that you might want to check out are: Airstream, Allegro, Coachmen, Fleetwood, Forest River, Gulf Stream, Jayco, Keystone, Newmar, Winnebago, among others.

Another way to travel in a motor home if you can’t afford to buy one is to rent one. If you are going to travel to a big show like a National Specialty, you might want to consider hooking up with a friend to see if they might want to share the expenses and rent a RV with you.

As for this writer, as I said unless I win the lottery, I’ll just look at all the pretty pictures online and dream about it!

My rating: if you can afford it…RV: (4), renting an RV: (4)

Friday, December 11, 2009


Dog shows should be fun. For some people it is and then for others, it’s all about the winning and nothing else seems to matter. These are the people who are missing out on all the fun. Sure a dog show is a competition and everyone wants to win. But the fact of the matter is, not everyone is going to win. Maybe on a different day, but today might not be that day! So do you drive away angry that your dog lost or do you accept the fact that today was not the day for him to win under this judge?

The fun part of showing is the socialization with the different spectators and exhibitors. This is a time to play catch up with the latest gossip. It’s a time to talk about your new litters that you have planned. It’s a great time to promote your young stud dog. It’s a time to compare notes about the different attributes and hindrances in a certain bloodline.
Going to a dog show is a “feel good” type of experience. Some people truly only go to a dog show to win. That’s it. Nothing more. I know a very successful breeder who told me just that. He comes. He shows. He leaves. Then it’s on to the next show.

In my opinion, a dog show is so much more than just showing your dog. Sure, that’s the main reason one goes to a show, but it shouldn’t be the only reason. If it is, in my opinion, you’re missing out on some of the good stuff. I think its great fun when after the show is over that many of the exhibitors get together and go out for dinner. It’s not unusual to see twenty or more people squeezing around a table at a local restaurant. What great conversation takes place at these tables. It can be educational and oh so much fun! Get some of the people in the breed that have been around for a long time and get ready for some very interesting tails and tidbits!

Some of my fondest memories in dogs have been the parties that I put on or was invited to. Everybody is in a good mood. Good food, good conversation and good fun! We used to take videos of some of our parties and looking back on some of them, it saddens me that some of those people are no longer with us. I’m also grateful for those who still are.

We celebrated championship parties, ROM parties, New Years Eve and any other excuse to have a get together with our dog friends. We danced, we ate, we laughed, and we were having lots of fun together. Sometimes the dogs would steal a morsel or two off of someone’s plate, but who cared; we were just enjoying one another’s company.

Other ways to have fun in this dog game are the training classes. Here is where like minds come together hoping to achieve the same thing……a well trained dog. Someone teaches the class, many others give tips on how to handle a certain problem and sometimes someone else will take your dog in the training ring just so the dog is used to someone else handling him. Again we come to train our animals, but here too is another fun way to socialize with our peers. We exchange ideas. We help one another. And then maybe afterwards we all go out for a cup of coffee and enjoy some engaging conversation.

The same thing can be true when you belong to a breed club. Sure your objective is to talk about business and the proper way to run a club. But here is another opportunity for people to come together and talk and listen to one another’s view points. Normally coffee and donuts might be served. People take their cup of coffee and find a place to sit and listen to the night’s agenda. The young can learn from those who have been in the breed for some time. The seasoned “old timers” can learn from the young by listening to their concerns about the breed. A healthy back and forth exchange can be enlightening for both parties. The breed club should be a place of goodwill for all who come. All should be encouraged and welcomed.

Anytime you go to a big week-end of shows, most people will have to stay over at a hotel or in their motor home. Normally the hotel will have a bar and restaurant on the premises. Here you will find many dog people engaging in interesting conversation and usually welcome you to join them. You’ll find many people gather like this at the National Specialty show held once a year. This is a time for people to see other people who they normally couldn’t because of distance. It’s also a great time to meet new people. Most people have wonderful times at the National because of the availability of many people from all over the country gathering in one place.

Another fun time to be had is when local breeders get together at someone’s home to look at and help evaluate someone’s litter. Oh my gosh, I was so very lucky to live in an area that had some good breeders close enough so we could do this. It was me, Marge Dolan, Doris Farrell, Nancy Vaught and Edie Trocki (Edie & Bob would have the best Super Bowl parties)! We would get together for lunch and chit chat about all the stuff dog people talk about……bloodlines, shows, handlers, breeders, etc. Then we would go outside and look at puppies or older youngsters. Most of the time Nancy would gait the pups. She was good at that. The rest of us would “ooooh and awww” over the screaming, jumping, clawing “most definitely” not trained puppies. Geez, this was some of my fondest memories in dogs. It was the people. Not the dogs. The people were the ones who made it fun!

So as I said, if you are not having fun in this dog game, you are most definitely missing out on a lot of what makes this all worthwhile. The showing of dogs is not just about the showing of dogs! It’s about the people you meet. It’s about the friends you make and especially those who become life long friends. I have been fortunate to have some very long standing friendships in this breed that I am most grateful for. I miss those who are no longer with us. I can vividly see them standing up and talking at a club meeting. I can see them running around outside of a ring double handling their dog. I can still hear their voices over the telephone saying “Hello Barbara dear.” I can hear their hearty laughter. I can turn around and see their smile, feel their tap on my back for encouragement and I can still see the twinkle in their eye about something they may have said naughty about someone else’s dog. They are the ones who have made the showing of dog’s lots of fun, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

My rating: showing dogs: (4), friendships in this sport: (4), parties & socialization: (4)!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


One of the biggest health concerns for dogs today is obesity. We live in a country of “land of plenty” and just like some of us humans some of our dogs are suffering from it. Many times you will see this with the pet owner. He loves his dog TOO much! The dog is fed a decent enough food and if the puppy was bought from a breeder is probably on the food that was recommended to keep him healthy. Many times the pet owner thinks his dog is too thin because he can see a rib or two and feels like the dog needs to be fattened up a little. He begins to increase the dog’s food and before you know it, “Fido” is now a pleasingly plump spoiled boy. Although this is seen more with the pet owner, I have seen (and have been guilty of it myself) some show dogs that have less than the ideal “figure!”

To make matters worse, some dogs are getting too much food AND treats and table scraps as well. And if you have young kids around, forget about it. He is now sharing everything that little Johnny didn’t want to eat in his own dinner!

Another problem is the dog that doesn’t receive too much exercise or none at all! If the dog just lies around the house all day without getting any exercise he will pack on the pounds very quickly.

A lot of pet owners think their dogs look adorable with the extra weight on them. In fact they think their dog is very healthy. After all, his coat is shiny, his eyes are bright and “Fido” is a very happy, content dog who doesn’t give them any problems. They don’t realize that all this “extra love” that they are giving their dogs can produce serious health problems. Overweight dogs can have the same health problems that their overweight owners may have…..diabetes mellitus which can be tricky to treat. Also the overweight dog can have a shorter life expectancy.

How does the pet owner know if his dog is overweight? A dog of normal weight should have an indentation at his waistline, and his ribs should be easily felt under his skin. An overweight dog will not have a waistline and there will be a thicker layer of fat over his ribs.

Besides over feeding your dog and not giving him enough exercise there is other factors that may be contributing to your dog’s weight problems. The dog may have health issues such as hyperthyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism, age, gender, and breed. The best thing for the owner to do is have his vet check the dog for any health problems.

If no health problems are found, the next thing you should look at is the quality and quantity of food you are feeding your dog. Many store brand and generic foods do not have the proper nutrients required to keep your dog healthy and fit. There are some foods on the market that are geared for the overweight dog. There are also prescription diets that are available. When switching to a different dog food, don’t just start him on the new food. Gradually introduce the food by mixing a bit of it with the food you already use. By the end of the week, you should have him eating just the new food. This will help reduce digestive problems like vomiting and loose stools. Feed your dog the amount that the label or your veterinarian recommends.

Dog treats and snacks need to be cut out from the dog’s menu. Many people feed their dogs the appropriate amount of food, but do not realize how high in calories many treats are. If you don’t want to cut out treats altogether, look for healthy snacks like carrots or ones that are low in calories. Read the labels. Stop feeding the dog leftovers and tell the rest of the family not to give him any more handouts. Stop letting the dog beg at the table. Put him away when the family is eating or give him a little obedience training like teaching him to lie still on the floor while the family eats. And stop looking at those big brown eyes that are begging you to throw him something. Just ignore him while you’re eating!

Another important factor in reducing your dog’s weight is providing him with the appropriate amount of exercise. Some people don’t understand that dogs require a lot of exercise to maintain proper health. If your dog is overweight, you should take him for a walk in the morning and the evening. Dog parks are an excellent place for both you and your dog to get exercise. Sign up for a class like agility or fly ball to help keep your dog active. Play lots of games like fetch and Frisbee. You have to be an active participant in your dog’s daily exercise. Besides it will be good for both of you. I know someone who pays for her dog to be exercised. Someone in her neighborhood jogs and she takes the dog with her. This is a group winning show dog whose owner is not able to exercise her dog the way that she would like. So now he goes for a jog everyday with someone else.

Weight loss in dogs should be very gradual. Don’t take drastic measures in trying to help your dog lose weight. In other words if you feed your dog 10 cups of food a day, don’t drop that down to feeding him 5 cups a food a day. Everything should be down gradually for the best results and not to shock your dogs system.

Sometimes an exhibitor will show his dog thinking that he looks great. After the class is over, he might be told by a friend or even the judge that he has a very nice dog but his back is loose and rolling. Most of the time this means that the dog is too heavy and he has not been given enough exercise. This is an athletic breed and nothing is more unattractive than looking at a dog that is not in tip top shape. Because one of the things that he will judged on is his movement, it is imperative that this dog is up to moving in a large ring without tiring out or looking sloppy.

So if health problems have been ruled out for the reason why your dog is overweight, then the only conclusion is that the dog is being overfed and not given enough exercise. With a German Shepherd dog you can tell by his attitude. This is a breed that needs to be exercised. He becomes very restless when he’s not. As I’ve said in other articles that I’ve written about this breed, he is not a happy dog when he’s not given something to do. Because of his need and love of being with you, exercising him brings out the happy side of this breed.

My rating: proper nutrition: (4), exercise: (4)