Friday, January 29, 2010


Like many of you, I enjoy watching “The Animal Planet or National Geographic” channels on television. A few nights ago there was a program on dog fighting. I found myself time and time again holding my hand up to cover my eyes from watching the pure butchery and barbaric practice of this “so called sport!” That really drove me crazy hearing those who participate in this ritual calling this a sport! Naturally the dogs that were used for fighting were Pit Bulls. However, many times other breeds of dogs are used as the bait dogs. So it’s not unheard of a German Shepherd being thrown into the pit for sheer amusement. A German Shepherd although a force to be reckoned with, is no match for the bone crunching jaws of a Pit Bull!

Dogs are stolen from people’s backyards, cars, etc. Also sometimes dogs get “adopted” from shelters and used for bait dogs. Be careful who you sell your “pet” puppies to. Often with the economy being what it is, sometimes breeders are forced to sell their pets at a reduced rate just to get them into a “good home!” Be very careful, these types of “people” are lurking all over the place looking to snatch up dogs and puppies for their perverted pleasures. It’s unfortunately a harsh reality.

Dog fighting has gone on for years behind closed, secretive doors. What is shocking now is that it has been brought out on to the streets……called street fighting dogs. What’s even more shocking is that children have become involved in this revolting practice starting sometimes as young as 9 years old! The children have learned as the adults before them to become desensitized to the pain and terror of the animals used for this “sport!” Taken from the book shown here in this article: "Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse".....Evidence is mounting that animal abuse, frequently embedded in families scarred by domestic violence and child abuse and neglect, often predicts the potential for other violent acts.

I’m happy to report that authorities have gone undercover to expose some of these dog fighting rings and have locked away many of it’s perpetrators. It’s good that the public is becoming aware of what is happening to some very unfortunate dogs used and bred for fighting.

More and more media coverage has exposed some of the animal abuse that is taking place in some parts of our country. If you “Google” German Shepherd Dog abuse, it will bring up many revolting and disgusting stories of this nature. They are beaten, tortured, starved, sexually abused (so incomprehensible), but true. Those that would choose to do these things are deeply sick in the soul and my wish for them is that these same abused animals that suffered at their hands are the faces that they see on their way to hell!

We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they don’t suffer less because they have no words. Anna Sewell (1820 – 1878, Black Beauty, 1877)

Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself. James A. Froude (1818 – 1894)

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. Mark Twain (1835 – 1910, “The Lowest Animal”

I wrote RETRIBUTION four years ago and put it on some of the e-mail lists that I belong to.

Barbara J. Galasso

Degradation, filth, decay and death perforates the air for miles around the ten acre compound locked behind the place known as the gates of hell. But the only ones who know this place are its residents. And these residents will never get out exposing the secrets hidden behind these walls.

The gates of hell are located many miles outside of town down a long dusty dirt road that few venture to drive upon. It's private property with cross bones as its markers warning "No Trespassing". And few if any want to trespass this lonely backwoods area on the outskirts of town anyway. What people don't know, doesn't bother them is their motto. Leave the unknown alone, and the unknown will leave you alone is how they think about this place.

If one dared to walk on foot through the thick bush and weeds that grow randomly along the sides of the road, the stench would surely turn them back to the village again. But if one were brave enough to continue to venture further out of curiosity or ignorance, they would never be quite the same again. Their memories of what they seen would turn into a living nightmare that no amount of sunshine would wake them from.

For you see the residents here would not greet them joyfully or welcome them. They would be suspicious of the stranger and one might hear a low menacing growl as he grew nearer. If they had any strength left in their already dying bodies, they might try to stalk the stranger from the other side of the fence. As the stranger would approach, the dogs would step back and with teeth bearing from their sunken in heads, the mud drenched body would shake from fear.

The stranger would see piles of carcasses lying randomly around the cluttered property. He would see dogs that were living without a morsel of food or a drop of water in their bent in battered tin bowls thrown around the dirt kennels like a forgotten rag doll. Dog houses with roofs long ago caved in and the sharp edges of nails protruding from where they used to hold the timber together hang swinging in the breeze. The sight of rats running among the kennels would not be unusual.

They would see dark sunken, soul less eyes peek out from lifeless faces that long ago lost their will to wag their tails. Dogs who once greeted their master enthusiastically, now cower in the corner too afraid to come closer or too weak to be interested.

The proprietor of hells gate comes out sometimes once or twice a week during the night after he's had one too many drinks to taunt and tease those who are left to care at all as he walks by each kennel eating a sandwich in one hand and carrying his bottle of whiskey in the other. The younger dogs whimper still hopeful for a morsel to be thrown their way. The older dogs barely lift their heads. But it's the last run in the dark corner that houses the more vicious dogs that are just to the point of the beginning of starvation that he plans to demoralize tonight. He calls them to the gate by tempting them with a piece of his sandwich. He throws a piece into the dogs kennel and he delights in seeing them fight one another for a slim chance for one of them to get a tiny morsel of food. Blood is drawn as the smell of food gets the better of them and the frenzy begins. The drunken man chuckles out loud in the pitch black night enjoying the ring side view of dogs in battle to survive. One dog lies mortally wounded. "Oh well, another one to add to the pile," he laughs to himself.

The other dogs turn back to the man with the sandwich waving in their faces and they charge the kennel. He laughs again and with each laugh that grows louder, the dogs jump harder against the kennel. He picks up a stick to poke them with and the enraged dogs tear and bite at it and shred it to pieces. They charge at him again. He bangs the fence with his fist and screams profanity at the dogs. He continues to chuckle as the whiskey overtakes him and he slides down the fence to crumble to the ground in a drunken stupor. Only it's not just the fence that he slides down. This time he slides down on the fence with the gate on it and in doing so, his shirt catches the latch and unbeknownst to him or the dogs, the latch quietly opens. As he mumbles to himself, he slowly drags himself back up. He goes to raise his hand up in the air to bang on the fence again and this time one of the stronger and larger of the dogs jumps against the gate. The gate opens with a rusty squeak, and the dogs are released from their gate of hell for the first time since they were born. Cautiously at first and then fiercely they charge through the gates to freedom. The drunken man seems to sober up fast as the dogs come face to face with their tormentor. He steps back in bewilderment realizing there's no longer a fence between him and the starving abused dogs. He throws the rest of his sandwich and whiskey bottle towards them and runs in the opposite direction deeper into the darkness of the night. He hears jaws snapping and growls roaring as they close in on him.

The stillness of the night is shattered by one horror filled scream. Some of the dogs won't be going to sleep hungry tonight.

My rating: animal abuse: (0) dog fighting: (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The dog flu virus (Influenza A subtype H3N8) was first discovered back in 2004 down in Florida with the racing Grey Hound dogs. This virus is highly contagious between dogs but so far there is no evidence that it can be transmitted from dogs to humans or other species. So far the dog flu virus has only been documented in 30 states, but it is likely present throughout the US and is considered endemic in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Colorado. NOTE: I do remember recently reading somewhere that a human passed the flu virus to his animal (dog, cat)???

A shocking statistic - almost 100% of dogs will be infected after exposure to this virus. Within 2 to 4 days of exposure, 80% of dogs will develop signs of illness and the other 20% will remain asymptomatic, although they are still capable of spreading the virus. In all cases, dogs are most contagious before they start showing signs. This virus is similar to the human flu viruses. It is spread by respiratory secretions and contaminates food and water bowls, collars, leashes and bedding. From my research, the virus can stay alive on most surfaces for 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and hands for 12 hours but is easily killed by common disinfectants (bleach, ammonium compounds).

How can you tell if your dog has the canine influenza? This virus causes acute respiratory infection in dogs. Most dogs will develop a mild respiratory infection which is characterized by a moist or dry cough that usually lasts 2 to 3 weeks despite treatment. They will have a cloudy or green nasal discharge and a low-grade fever. For more severe infections you might see pneumonia and a high fever. The death rate has been reported in 1 to 5% of dogs who are severely affected. Another thing that is important to remember is that unlike other flu viruses, canine influenza is not seasonal and occurs year round. Wow…..that blew me away! Year round?! Many times dogs with canine influenza are often misdiagnosed with kennel cough as the signs are usually identical. For this reason, canine influenza cannot be diagnosed only on clinical signs. That is why it is imperative to have a blood test done which identifies antibodies to the virus as early as 7 days after symptoms start. In order to confirm the infection, another blood sample should be taken about 2 weeks later. There are other tests that your veterinarian may recommend as well.

Secondary bacterial infections are common and many dogs require broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy. As with all viral infections, the treatment for canine influenza is to use good preventative measures. Excellent hygiene and natural nutrition can help dogs mount an immune response and recover within 2 to 3 weeks.

If your dog starts to show signs of the canine flu, keep your dog at home, away from other dogs and dog owners. Your dog should not be brought to parks or handling and obedience classes where other dogs are present. He should not be boarded or groomed. And common sense will tell you, that he should not be brought to a dog show. In fact, they should be isolated from other dogs for 2 weeks to prevent spread of disease.

You should also take preventative measures if you have other dogs. Wash your hands frequently and change your clothes before handling or being around your other dogs to reduce the risk of spread. Always disinfect the surfaces of your home and car or van that your dog has come in contact with before you let your other dogs in these areas.

There is no cure for the flu but if you suspect your dog has come in contact with a sick dog, take him to the vet to have him tested for the flu and where he can offer treatment.

In May 2009, the USDA approved the first canine influenza vaccine. Like the human flu shot, the vaccine may not completely prevent infection but vaccinated dogs will develop less severe illness and are less likely to spread the virus to other dogs. My research says that the vaccine is not recommended for every dog—only those dogs with an "at-risk" lifestyle. This includes dogs that are boarded or kenneled frequently, go to the groomer routinely, are housed with other dogs, or have frequent dog contact (Dog Park, doggy daycare, dog shows, dog handling classes, etc). The best thing to do is ask your veterinarian if the canine flu vaccine is right for your dog.

I personally have never seen so many new illnesses as I have in recent years both in our canine friends and humans as well. Just look back at when you were growing up. Pets were lucky if they ever went to the vet in their lifetime and many lived over 16 years of age. It must be something in the water…..or food!?

My rating: dog flu shot where necessary: (4)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Dr. Andrew Jones author of “Veterinary Secrets Revealed” says that diarrhea and vomiting are two of the top 10 reasons owners bring their pets to the vet. He continues to say that supplementing the diet with probiotics is an essential way to help maintain and promote your pet's optimal intestinal health. Of course, the key factor is PREVENTING disease, and ensuring that your pet's gut immune system is functioning optimally.

The yogurt companies are now in an advertising war to get you to try their product by offering money back guarantees to the consumer if you don’t see a change in your intestinal health. And now the veterinary community has taken notice. They are now recommending probiotics for vomiting and diarrhea, skin disease, kidney failure and for immune system support and disease prevention. In order for the probiotic to be beneficial it must be active (which it should state on the container). If you use a supplement the probiotic must be active because these healthy bacteria age and become ineffective. The probiotic must make its way through the stomach and into the pet’s digestive tract.

There has been extensive research done to prove that probiotics have beneficial effects on the digestive health of your dog. Probiotics are live "good" bacteria that when ingested by pets help to restore bacterial balance within the intestine. When shopping for dry dog food, check the bag to see that it lists Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus to indicate the inclusion of probiotics in the dog food.

If your dog has been ill and has been on any antibiotics, supplementing his food with probiotics can help restore the right balance of bacteria to his intestinal tract. There are many other things that can upset the dog’s digestive tract. Stressful conditions (moving, change in diet, dog shows, boarding, aging, etc.) can disrupt the delicate balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria within the intestine. Regularly feeding your dog a food or supplement containing probiotics can help maintain their digestive health for the long term.

Also dogs prone to digestive sensitivity like soft stool or diarrhea (SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) may benefit tremendously from a food or supplement containing probiotics. Many of these pets have inflammation within their small intestine. This is what causes the bacterial overgrowth and some dogs have a problem called antibiotic-responsive diarrhea. Antibiotic therapy like the use of Tylan seemed to help these dogs that had chronic diarrhea or soft stools. But recently some of these dogs were put on a probiotic regime which eliminated the need for antibiotics and they didn’t seem to relapse with diarrhea if the probiotic was continued. I know this to be true for as I reported in another article, I have a bitch that has SIBO and was on Tylan and no longer has to take this antibiotic because she’s on a probiotic regime that has changed her life around (and mine as well)…… more cleaning up soft stools!

Research has shown that here have been no side effects or adverse reactions reported with long-term feeding of probiotics. Although intestinal bacteria are confined to one area of the body, they exert powerful effects on whole-body health.

Because the German Shepherd is prone to digestive disorders, I personally feel that including probiotics in their meals can only be a good thing. I feed dog foods that have probiotics added to their ingredient labels, but if you look at those labels, you will see that most of the added probiotics are listed far down in the ingredients so the chances of these being very beneficial is questionable. As most of you know I use and sell VIBRANT PETS supplement. It has the highest quality of four probiotics on the market. I have also used yogurt for my dogs. So they are always getting some form of this additive. I use probiotics for the health of my dogs.

My rating: probiotics: (4), Vibrant Pets: (4)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Is your home YOUR castle or is it your dog’s castle? When someone walks into your house, can they tell that dogs live there? How does your house smell? Does it smell clean or does it smell doggie?

As anyone can attest to that owns a German Shepherd, probably our biggest complaint is that they shed too much. Hair on the furniture, hair on the bed, hair on the table……hair everywhere! How do you live with your dogs? Do you find yourself cleaning your house much more than usual? Or are you of the belief that a little dirt never hurt anyone?

When you own a dog that sheds as much hair as the German Shepherds do you start looking to buy “heavy duty” types of cleaners to help make your home more livable. Most people buy a heavy duty vacuum cleaner and now the manufacturers have taken notice and advertise how great their product is about picking up dog hair and dander. Some pet owners have taken to vacuuming their homes every day or at least every other day. There is much debate over which vacuum cleaner is best for picking up dog hair. I still haven’t found one that I like very much. Either they’re too heavy to use or they don’t pick up the hair as well as they claim.

Muddy paw prints are something to be expected when owning dogs. How many of us wash our floors everyday? There are a number of products on the market now to help make this an easier task. Many people love the Swiffer mops for washing their floors. I confess I haven’t tried this product yet but it’s on my list of things I want to get.

Our computers, printers and other office equipment pick up dust very easily and it’s wise to keep these things clean and dust (hair) free to ensure that they are working properly. The dog’s fine hairs fall in between the keys of your computer very easily so we have to stay on top of this on a daily basis. I find I like to use the pre-moistened clothes like Windex to clean my office equipment. They’re easy to use because I’m only using one product and then I throw it away.

If you let your dog on the furniture, do you put a throw on it to protect the fabric? Do you allow your dogs on the bed? Do they sleep with you? How many times do you find that you are your washing your bed sheets and blankets? I don’t allow my dogs on the bed so this is one less chore that I need to worry about. Although they don’t sleep on my bed, of course they go into my bedroom (because they are so nosy) and their stray hairs will find a place to land on my blankets and sheets anyway.

Besides the fact that they are always shedding, nothing is worse than when they “blow” their coats. This is when their coats start coming out in hunks. You’ll find the bitches blow their coats right before they come into season. Also they’re blowing their coats with the changing of the seasons throughout the year. If you don’t strip them of this dead hair, you will have a mess all over the house. I have a bitch losing her coat now. I brushed her a couple of times and then took her outside on the back deck and thoroughly stripped her coat out of her. There are many good grooming combs on the market for this chore. The Furminator comb that I reviewed a few months back is excellent for this. Check out the Furminator ad in this article.  There is a video you can watch of animals being groomed including the German Shepherd using this product!  Grooming your dogs on a daily basis or several times a week will help cut back on the amount of time you’ll be spending cleaning your house.

Because my house dog doesn’t share my bed with me, she has her own rugs that I put down for her that she likes to lay on. If you do the same thing or have a doggie bed for your dog, make sure you clean this often as well. Shake out the rug and wash it in the washing machine if the instructions say you can do that. If your dog sleeps in a crate and you put towels or blankets in them, make sure you shake them out and wash them as well.

If you feed your dog in the house, make sure their water and feeding bowls are kept clean as well. Don’t leave a bowl on the floor that your dog ate from without picking it up and washing if with hot sudsy water. If you leave it on the floor without washing it, you may attract unwelcome “guests” into your kitchen……bugs or mice or both!

There are many products now that leave a lovely scent in your house. There are sprays, plug-ins, candles, etc. There really isn’t any reason that your house should smell doggie as long as it is kept clean and most importantly that your dog is clean. Grooming is an essential part of dog ownership.

Can you be a fussy housekeeper and co-exist with dogs living in your house? Can you tolerate them putting their noses on the counters, the tables, the stove and any other place that attracts their never ending investigating noses?

Remember you chose a very intelligent dog when you got yourself a German Shepherd. Because they are so darn intelligent, their “nosy noses” must investigate everything! Besides all the paw prints on the floor, expect nose smudges on EVERYTHING! There is nothing you can hide from this breed. You bring something new into the house and I don’t care how small it is, they’re going to know it and look for it and won’t rest until they find it.

Oh yeah, and let’s not forget while we are trying to keep the castle clean, you better have some clean clothes to change into because just take a look down on what you are wearing right now. I bet YOU ARE NOT dog hair free! I “betcha!” Can I tell you how totally I HATE it when I get out of the shower and I’m all powdered up, smelling just divine and “their” noses are all over my newly laundered flannel p.j.’s that I just put on!!!! It never fails!

My rating: Must haves: heavy duty vacuum cleaners: (4), good mops: (4), disinfectants/sprays: (4), good grooming combs: (4)

Monday, January 25, 2010


                     "Kizzy" - Dawn's ROM bitch                  and son           Ch. Laxfield's Hitman ("Vinnie")

Today I have asked a guest to write an article for my blog about her experience going to a Cesar Millan, “Dog whisperer” seminar. She had often told me how much she enjoyed that day and because I happen to watch his programs every week, I thought it might be an interesting subject to read about. I thank Dawn Restuccia for her time and effort to write this article for me. I hope the rest of you enjoy reading it as much as I did.


I attended a Seminar conducted by Cesar and Illusion Millan in May of 2006 at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass. Though the ticket price was dear, I can honestly state that it was the best $160 I could have spent.
Cesar was accompanied by another speaker; a Veterinary Nutritionist from California who discussed raw feeding. He was both entertaining and educational, explaining the need to bring the dog's digestion back to his natural state and the benefits that can be garnered from feeding a raw diet.

When Cesar took the stage, the entire stadium was on its feet and erupted in thunderous applause. He is an amazingly unpretentious person; reminding me a little of one of those sweet mixed bred dogs that follows you home from school...all wags and smiles. He is incredibly engaging in person.

The next three hours were packed with information surrounding issues such as how our dogs perceive the world as opposed to how WE perceive our dogs! He explained that by excessively humanizing our companions, we are effectively ignoring their "animal, dog, breed, name" state of being. With the use of short video clips from previous "Dog Whisperer" segments, he walked you through his methods of calm, assertive training that have worked so well for so many owners in need.

While there were no actual dogs allowed in the hall, Cesar gave a VERY believable facsimile of their behavior under certain circumstances and when he emulated a "red zone dog" there was NO confusing EXACTLY how that dog would appear! The seminar depicted several of the more common issues that owners have with their pets; outlining each and explaining in more detail the method utilized to correct the behavior, not only for the DOG, but for his OWNER as well. He discussed "Rules, Boundaries and Limitations" at length; apparently many of us struggle with this one...and exactly how you could help your beloved Fido achieve a submissive, calm state of mind.

The audience was allowed to submit questions and several were chosen for him to respond to. The one that I personally found most helpful was the issue of "the walk" and how best to enjoy spending this type of time together. One of my four German Shepherds is affectionately called "The Eveready Bunny"...a nod to the fact that she is usually in warp overdrive and not amenable to a leash. Using the method that Cesar demonstrated, I was able to get her under control in a short lesson or two! I have since used this technique with ALL of my German Shepherds with enormous success. I have even helped a few other owners who find themselves in similar straights!

Cesar took a moment to discuss his feelings regarding spaying or neutering your companion dog. I'm sure we all know the problems inherent in pet overpopulation as well as the health benefits that come with age appropriate spay/neuter. That being said, quite frankly, I had never looked at it from his perspective; it really opened my eyes. He simply stated that it is his opinion that when an animal is intact, you are not seeing the true personality of that are seeing their drive to reproduce or to maintain alpha status in the pack. Bitches are driven by fluctuating hormonal levels..and dogs, when confronted with a bitch "in season" are blind to anything else around them.

The entire proceeds of the days event was over $16,000 in ticket and book sales which went to the Massachusetts Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

As the disclaimer states at the beginning of all of the "Dog Whisperer" segments, "Do not attempt this without consulting a professional". I felt that this Seminar was a great introduction into the Cesar Millan method of training and led me to seek out local trainers who employ his methods of positive reinforcement coupled with "exercise, discipline, THEN affection".

Dawn Restuccia, Pres.
Last Hope, Safe Haven
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My thoughts:  I personally love watching Cesar handle his toughest cases.  These are the type of dogs that most people wouldn't know how to handle no less live with.  But watching him handle some of these tough cases just reinforces my belief that MOST dogs can be trained to be good citizens.  

My rating: Cesar Millan method of training: (4), His books and DVD’s - educational: (4), entertaining: (4)

Friday, January 22, 2010


Barbara J. Galasso

“Growing up poor isn’t all that bad, Momma used to say. It’ll teach you an appreciation for the simple things in life.” Looking back on it now, I know momma was right, but I wasn’t too sure about it then.

We lived in a broken down shack by the end of the woods on the other side of town. We shared three rooms; two bedrooms and one large room that served as a kitchen and living room. The roof always leaked, the floors were sinking, the plumbing needed attention, and the refrigerator door was rusty, but somehow we made do. We survived by eating lots of momma’s homemade soups and stews. Every Sunday after church we were treated to our “once a week” meat and potato day.

Besides being surrounded by nature and its wild animals, we always had a few stray cats and dogs while I was growing up. It seems that many of the town folk would drop off their unwanted pets and they’d find there way to our back door. Momma would never refuse a hungry animal. She’d say, “These are God’s creatures that come to our door and we’ll manage. Somehow, we’ll manage.” Every night just about 6:30 or so, we’d hear the familiar scrape of someone’s paw at our door, and momma would feed them the scraps from our supper table.

Then one day much to my surprise, I found among the variety of mutts and tomcats that begged at our door, a beautiful little German Shepherd puppy. He couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 months old. “Wow, where’d you come from boy?” I exclaimed when I saw the little guy. “Momma, poppa, come quick. Look at who’s begging at our door tonight. Can we keep him momma? Can we? “You sure are a little fella,” Momma exclaimed picking him up and looking him over. And on top of it, you stink,” she told him as he slobbered her face with grateful puppy kisses. “One of the first things you’re going to have to do Jimmy after he fills that tummy of his, is give him a bath.” “Sure momma,” I said as I ran to the barn to find some towels and soap and fill up the old tub with water. “And make sure you scrub under his belly too,” she called out. It looks like he’s been rolling in mud.”

We tried to find out who might have lost this adorable little puppy by asking the other farmers in the neighborhood if they knew who might have owned him. No one made claim to him so we were “stuck” with the little stinker!

Spike, (as we called him) grew quickly but not before he nearly destroyed momma’s vegetable garden by taking short cuts on his way to the back porch. He wasn’t on poppa’s best behaved list either after he chased the chickens out of the yard and we all went searching for them to bring them back home again. I don’t know how many times he jumped up on the haystacks, scattering them all awry only to have poppa almost take the pitchfork to him. It was just about this time that most of the other dogs and cats didn’t come to our back porch much any longer. Spike decided that there was only room for one dog in the family and he was it!

One day poppa pulled me aside and said, “Son, you and I need to have a talk.” “What about poppa?” I asked. “Well Jimmy, it’s about Spike.” “What’s he done now?” I asked. “No, he hasn’t done anything wrong today son. Not yet anyway!” poppa said. “However, we need to take action before he does. What that means Jimmy, is that Spike needs to be trained and disciplined.” I didn’t say a word. I just continued to listen to him. “He needs to be taught the difference between right and wrong. And when he does something wrong, he needs to be punished for it.” My eyes grew wide as he continued to speak. “Jimmy, you wanted to keep this dog, so the responsibility to train him is going to fall on you. Your momma and I have too many chores here on the farm to be training a dog. As a smaller puppy, his antics may have been considered funny and cute. Now that he’s almost grown up, they are no longer a laughing matter. Am I getting through to you Jimmy?” poppa asked. I could see poppa was serious. “Yes, sir”, I answered him. “I know it might be hard on you, but you’ll be a man my son when you find yourself doing the things that you thought you never could, but you must.”

So from that day forward, Spike and I had a different kind of relationship. He learned that I was his master and I found that he was very eager to please. Naturally it didn’t hurt that for every good thing that he did, he’d get another treat. I often wondered if he really did consider me the master or if the rewards were what drove him to please.

Spike and I were inseparable. Where ever I went, he followed. I’d take him fishing with me or he’d come along with me when I rode my bicycle down the long winding road that led us to the beginning of the forest. Poppa was teaching me to hunt small game and Spike always insisted upon coming. He was really good about it too. He lay in wait until I made a kill and then he’d charge through the woods to lead me to my prey.

Back home he delighted in sharing my dinner with all the handouts I’d give him at the table. That didn’t last too long. My father told me I needed to teach Spike better table manners and that he was no longer allowed to beg at the table. Spike wasn’t too thrilled with this new arrangement, but I promised him if he were a good boy, he would still get the left overs only a little bit later in the day. So every night before Spike climbed up on my bed with me, I would take out my rolled up napkin and give him those tidbits that he had become accustomed to. He and I would fall asleep with our tummies filled as we stretched out competing for our share of the pillow. Momma would come into my room the next day and find the soiled napkin, but she never said a word about it to poppa.

One day, Spike and I went into the woods ahead of dad. He said for us to go on ahead of him and he would follow shortly. I really wasn’t in the mood to hunt that day, but I always in the mood to take a hike with my dog. We couldn’t have been more than five minutes into the woods when we heard a noise on the path ahead of us. Spike picked up the scent right away and started to run in the direction of the noise. I called out to him to come back, which he promptly did. None too soon, I may add. When we came around the bend, we saw a bear cub caught in a trap with one of his legs twisted in the jaws of iron. The little fella was crying and twisting his furry little body to try and free himself from the agony of the trap. My first instinct was to try to help the baby, but I also knew that where there was a baby bear, his mother couldn’t be far behind.

I no sooner got finished with that thought when I heard a low menacing growl and snort like sound almost breathing down my back. As I turned to look at what I knew would be what my nightmares would be made of, “she” stood up on her hind legs to remind me that I was no match for this “monster” sized mother of a bear! With her teeth baring jaws open wide, I quickly covered my head waiting for the bone crunching agony that I was sure would follow. Just then I heard my dog Spike let out a loud growl and watched as he charged the angry mother. “Oh my God, I shouted. She’ll kill you Spike!” As Spike tried his best to battle with an agitated animal that was three times the size that he was, I heard the familiar voice of my father yelling and screaming as he came charging through the bush. “Get out of the way son, he was shouting. Get out of the way.” Before I could move, I saw dad continue his advancement towards the bear, but as he got closer, his foot tangled in some branches and he fell to the ground. Within seconds the bear charged at him. Spike was already badly hurt and laid bleeding and whimpering on the ground. I couldn’t let this happen to my father too. I quickly picked up his shot gun and aimed it at the hulking mass of flesh and fur that was now on top of my dad. I heard my poppa scream as the bear snapped his arm in two. I knew that my aim had to be good to kill this animal before he killed my father. With one shot, it brought the animal crashing to the ground. She breathed her last breath only doing what nature meant her to do…..trying to protect her young.

Poppa was hurt and couldn’t get up. It appeared as though he had twisted his ankle and broken his right arm. We could hear Spike crying and watched as his body shook and twisted in agony. “Quick boy, take my rifle and shoot him. Put him out of his misery.” “No poppa, not me, I yelled. Not me.” “Jimmy, do as I say. The dog is in severe pain and is dying anyway. Do it boy. Don’t let him suffer any longer. He deserves to be put out of pain. He tried to save your life. You owe him that much.” I felt my heart sink in my chest at the thought of doing what I knew I had to do. I had to kill the best friend I ever had; the one who shared my bed; the one who saved my life. Now I had to take his life to put him out of his misery. It seemed so unfair.

There was no more time to think. I could see the dog was going into shock. He had lost a lot of blood. As I came closer to my dog, I quickly picked up poppa’s rifle and aimed it at Spike. He tried to get up, but it was hopeless. For a very short moment the big dog’s brown eyes locked with mine and I saw the kind eyes that I had always loved looking back at me as if to say he understood what I had to do. I don’t know what was louder; my scream as I yelled out the words “No, dear God. No,” or the shot that ripped through my dog’s chest as he let out a pitiful, sorrowful cry and crumbled to the hard ground below. I heard myself repeat over and over again the words “No, No, No” as I fell to the ground sobbing uncontrollably. I sat down next to Spike and cradled him in my arms while sobbing the words “I’m sorry Spike. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it boy. I couldn’t help it. I never wanted to hurt you,” I wept as the light in Spike’s eyes grew dim.

My blood soaked shirt stuck to my chest where my own heart just about burst from what just happened. I never experienced a pain more intense or more gut wrenching then when I lost my dog at my own hands.

That happened a little over a year ago, but for me, it might as well have been yesterday for the reality of what had happened brings with it a fresh new pain to revisit me time and time again. They say that time heals all wounds, and one should let go of the past and move on. Dads’ wounds have healed and he’s almost back to normal. As for me, I’ve let go of the past and have moved on, but the wound that remains in my heart lingers a little while longer because the heart is the playground of all my emotions that I felt for Spike. I realize that the bond that we shared can not be broken by his death. I will always have a connection to the dog that gave me so much and in the end that his life was sacrificed so I could go on living. It is this realization that has let me go on and I reminder what poppa taught me just a few short years ago. “You’ll be a man my son, when you find yourself doing the things that you thought you never could, but you must.”

My rating: a dog and a child: (4)


Thursday, January 21, 2010


I received an e-mail last night from someone asking me questions about inbreeding, linebreeding and out crossing. I confess I’m far from an expert on this subject. There are many more experienced breeders than I that are better equipped to answer this question. I answered his question pertaining to what had been successful for me. So once again, I’ve done some research on the subject, but all of you “seasoned” breeders feel free to jump in anytime you feel you’d like to add your own experiences with your breeding practices.

Most of my own breeding has always been line breeding. A few breedings I that I did were outcrosses. I have never done inbreeding. I did not feel that I had enough experience to try inbreeding and I was happy with my line breeding anyway. So let’s discuss the different breeding a breeder can choose to do with his litters.

Linebreeding: This is when a breeder looks for dogs going back for generations in the pedigree on one or more good dogs and bitches. This is when you will have a pedigree that has the name of these dogs more than one time. The breeder is looking to incorporate the good qualities of this dog by having him be more dominating in the pedigree therefore looking for these good qualities to come out in the litter of puppies. In order for a breeding to be considered a linebreeding, both the sire and dam have to carry some of the same dogs in their own pedigrees that the breeder is doubling up on. The breeder is looking to produce the outstanding genetic contribution of these animals in their puppies. Some geneticists consider linebreeding and inbreeding to only be different by a small degree. Both of these styles of breeding are using animals that are relatives to one another. Most breeders consider this a safer breeding than inbreeding might be. They don’t expect as many health problems as some may fear with an inbred litter. They feel that they can pretty much expect a certain type with a line bred litter. Most kennels have used this type of breeding very successfully.

Inbreeding: This is when a breeder mates a dog to one of its immediate ancestors. No new bloodline is introduced with inbreeding. This is when a mother/son, father/daughter, or a brother/sister breeding has taken place. The breeder that does these types of breeding is looking to lock in the virtues of this bloodline. He may also find out the faults of the line as well. It is felt that (and I quote here) “inbreeding reduces fertility, vigor and overall health and mental stability. Inbred animals are more prone to diseases such as infections and cancer, and more likely to be "highly strung". Also I have heard of dogs not being of the standard size. Never having done this type of breeding before, I don’t know how true that is. I do know that some very well known and successful breeding have been through inbreeding. I know the serious show person/breeder is usually familiar with knowing who these dogs/bitches are. However, I do wonder about the littermates of these famous dogs. What became of them? Years ago many breeders that did inbreeding would also cull their litters. If they saw an undesirable fault in a puppy, they would put the puppy to sleep. Who the heck wants to do this? Not me. That’s why I wouldn’t attempt this type of breeding because I wouldn’t want to make that kind of decision. Most of the time with this kind of breeding, you can pretty much lock in the type of your animal. In my opinion, this is the type of animal that would do best by breeding him/her to an out cross type of dog. The Fran-Jo kennels were very successful doing inbreeding with their lines.

Outcross: Normally when you do an out cross breeding, the pedigree will not have any similar dogs going back 4 – 5 generations. Many dogs will have some similar dogs in their pedigrees going beyond this. An example of a true outcross breeding would be an American bred dog to a German bred dog. Some breeders have been very successful doing this type of breeding whereas; other breeders rarely if ever use it. Some think that this type of breeding is the “luck of the draw!” You would not expect a consistency in breed type with this type of mating because there is nothing similar in their bloodlines so anything goes. You may be pleasantly surprised or very disappointed. I feel this is a good breeding to do when you already have a heavily line bred or inbred animal and need to take it out for some fresh bloodlines. In this writer’s opinion, in order for this type of breeding to be successful, you should use a dog that is prepotent for producing the qualities that you are looking for in your puppies. Darby-Dan kennels have been extremely successful with breeding their American bred bitches to their German dog “Jim!”

Because genetics is never an exact science, meaning that when you breed, all the “correct” planning in the world doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to get what you had hoped for. It might look great on paper. It might look great when you look at the stud and bitch standing together. It might have been a successful combination when the kennel down the street did it. It doesn’t guarantee that it will be great when you do it. One never knows what to expect when you breed a litter. The best you can do is to study, study and study some more about the bloodlines that you want to breed to. Know your own dogs’ bloodlines very well. Investigate…..find out the genetic health problems both in your own lines and the stud that you plan on using BEFORE you breed that litter. Even the best laid plans can go amiss! Rather be pleasantly surprised than shockingly disappointed!

My rating: linebreeding: (4), inbreeding….only for those who know what they’re doing: (3) outcross: (3)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Barbara J. Galasso

A puppy has a right to have a responsible breeder who studied his pedigree and parents and has made sure they have good hips and temperament before they consummated the breeding.

A puppy has a right to be bred by a breeder that researched pedigrees before the breeding has taken place to ensure that his health won’t be compromised by many genetic faults.

A puppy has a right to have a mother who is healthy and strong and up to date on her shots, worming, and is checked by a veterinarian before she is bred.

A puppy has a right to have a mother who is properly fed a high quality diet, given clean water, and supplemented with vitamins to ensure the health of her babies.

A puppy has a right to have a mother who has proper shelter, who is kept out of the cold or the heat and has a place to nest.

A puppy has the right to have a breeder know how to whelp a litter by experience, or reading books about the procedure and to have a veterinarian on call in case of an emergency.

A puppy has a right to be fed a high quality puppy food and supplements right up to the time he goes to his new home.

A puppy has the right to be up to date on his vaccinations and worming and checked by a veterinarian before he leaves his breeder’s house.

A puppy has a right to have toys and balls and bones to chew on to stimulate his desire for curiosity.

A puppy has a right to be socialized, touched, played with and trained so he develops character and has the right start in life.

Puppies have a right to be groomed, bathed and have his nails clipped to ensure that he looks and feels clean.

A puppy has the right to expect that his breeder will do everything in his power to find the most loving and responsible home that he can.

A puppy has the right to have a breeder who will stand behind his sales contract and make sure that he is safe and wanted by his new owner and if need be take him back or find him another home to ensure that he is.

A puppy has a right to have a breeder look out for his welfare for the rest of his life by taking him back to where he was born no matter how old he is.

A puppy has a right to have a breeder that micro-chips his litter to make sure if he is ever lost that there is a way to help him find his way back home again.

A puppy has a right to be socialized and loved by people so he develops confidence in this big old world that he was born into.

A puppy has a right not to be born into this world if the above criteria are not, or can not be met.

My rating: responsible breeders: (4), backyard breeders: (1)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Some time ago, someone wrote to me asking me to write an article about designing a website for ones kennel. I am not an expert in designing websites. I along with most people go to someone who is familiar or has the expertise in designing a website. This person that wrote to me was critical of some of the websites that she had seen and said that some of the time she won’t even look at the rest of the website if the first page doesn’t appeal to her.

So what makes an appealing website? In my opinion, it is like a writer or an artist. You want to draw your audience in on that first page to make them want to look at the rest of it.  I think that a website should be eye catching but not ostentatious. Obviously most people design something that says something about that person’s personality. It’s important to remember that your website is about your dogs. I don’t feel that a website that has flashing lights and distracting music brings attention to the dogs that one is advertising. You want the dogs to stand out, not the flashing lights. I personally find this type of website distracting, but I’m sure there are those people who like this. It’s all a matter of preference and what it is you are trying to convey.

There are some programs that you can download to help you design your own website. Some are more user friendly than others. You can choose from many different templates, share your photos and even your videos. I personally have never tried this way of making a website, but it is definitely something you might consider. Just go on Google and do your research. There is plenty of information about this on the web.

If you decide to use a professional website designer, there are many people that you can hire. The best way to find and choose one is to look at a portfolio of their work. Find someone that does the type of website designs that are appealing to you. Then check around for the best rates for the quality of work that you are looking for. Your website designer will also keep your website up to date and fresh looking. If you need to add something or have something removed, this is the person who can do this for you.

No matter if you decide to build your own website or have someone do it for you, you will also need a company to host your website. This is how you get your website on the internet so other people can find you. Once again, there are different hosting companies that you can use. One of them that I use is called, “Go Daddy.” Hosting is probably the least expensive part of your website design.

Now how about the layout of your website? What should it include? What is it that you want your website to say? Once again, check other people’s websites to give you an idea of what is important to include on your website. As I said before, your first page (the one that people will see right away) should be the page that attracts peoples attention to want to read more about your kennel. Many times this is where you will see a head shot of a dog or a show win picture with the kennel name on top of the page. You might see the gates of a person’s driveway that leads to their kennels. This is your most important page and it should be the most attractive one as well so use your imagination.

What should you include on your website? Naturally you should have links to the different dogs and services your kennel may provide. Normally you will see links dividing the males (studs), bitches, puppies, boarding, training, handling, etc……whatever it is that you want people to look at. Also this is where you might see links of this kennels dogs of the past and a link about this kennels history. You might see links advertising things these people sell……grooming supplies, supplements, dog food, etc.

The colors that you choose should also be attractive and complimentary to the dogs so they stand out in their pictures. Using loud, bold colors in my opinion is again very distracting.

Use pictures that are clear and that will reproduce well on your website. If you use a professional, perhaps they can put a video presentation of your dogs on your website. I’ve see this done on a breeders website and it is beautiful. It goes from one picture of a dog to another. You may also want a moving video of some of your dogs. If you have a dog that is an excellent mover, this might be a good way to advertise that fact. Some people have videos of the puppies that they are looking to sell.

Besides the name of your kennel, you should include information about how someone can reach you. This might include your e-mail, telephone number and address. Some people chose to use just the city and state of their address.

So when designing your website, make it attractive and not too busy looking. Make your dogs stand out…..not the other distractions. Keep it up to date. I have a very well known breeder on my list that when she advertises her puppies, she’ll say what she has available. She makes me laugh.  She always mentions that she needs to get her website updated………she’s been saying this for the last few years now!!! I would love to see some of her top winning dogs all in one place. So if she is reading this now…….HINT, HINT, HINT!!!

Having a website is another form of advertising. How you design it, and what and how you say it, will help determine if people who read it will want to continue reading it and if they will want to contact you. This is your “calling card”……your “business card” on the web.

My rating: having a website designed by a professional: (4), doing it yourself if you can: (4)

Monday, January 18, 2010


Without sharing my advanced age with you, let’s just say that I’ve lived on this planet for a whole lot of years. Like you, I have met many different people with many different fascinating personalities. But of all those personalities, I would say I’ve have only met maybe three (or those are all that I remember – I told you I’m getting old) who had a uniqueness to them unlike any others that I met. These are those very few people who may come into your life that you will remember long after they left it. It’s not that they held a special job or that they were more educated than others that I have met or even that they were more attractive than other people that I know. No, these people were definitely on another plane of consciousness or were in a different dimension than you and me. You knew when you met them that they didn’t communicate like the “average” person communicates. But these people held me fascinated by the way that they did communicate.

I used to manage an office in Westport, Connecticut many years ago. This was a very busy sales office. One of my sales associates was one of these people who were on a whole other plane of communication skills. To try to explain it and put it into words……….well I just don’t know if any words can adequately explain what it was about her that was so different. Just being in the same room with her, you knew that here was a woman who answered to her own beat, her own calling or whatever the heck it was that she was answering to. But it was most definitely not the same thing that the rest of us were answering to. She always did everything her way. She was fresh, spunky, and just down right adorable. She had her own way of approaching everything. Looking back on it now, I remember her being very spiritual rather than religious. I remember her going on retreats to study her spiritual calling that was “so far out there,” in my way of thinking but as I said, she was on a whole other consciousness then most people that I knew.

Two people that I know of today is this same way. One is a young man whose mother told me that while growing up he always viewed things his own way. Not like you and me, but his own way. He had a hard time seeing things the way that the rest of us might see it. I only met him once over lunch with his mother who is my friend. He was quiet and listened to our conversation without adding any of his opinions about what we were talking about. So I finally turned to him and asked him his opinion about the subject matter. He had a whole other take on it and calmly shared with me why he felt the way that he did. He made me look at something a whole other way…...his way. I found him most charming and easy to like.....because of his differences. His mother told me that he has a t-shirt that says: “You laugh because I’m different. I laugh because you’re all the same!” Love it!

The other person that I know that is “different” in the way that she views the world digests what you say, thinks a long time about it and then either she “gets it” or you have to start all over again explaining it to her. Yet she’s very intelligent, but doesn’t see things the way most other people do. Some of the stories that she has shared with me about her life holds me memorized. She is so “out there” and so very fascinating.

Now just how does this fit into the subject of dogs you may ask? It’s because animals definitely communicate on a whole different plane. And until man recognizes this instead of thinking “Oh they’re just a dog or an animal,” he will have had done a terrible disservice to a thinking, feeling, emotional creature that shares this planet with us……admittingly on a whole other level or plane.

An extraordinary book has been written about this topic called: “Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior” written by Temple Grandin. This excerpt and I quote is taken from Scientific American…………

“Temple Grandin has been known to crawl through slaughterhouses to get a sense of what the animals there are experiencing. An autistic woman who as a child was recommended for institutionalization, Grandin has managed not only to enter society’s mainstream but ultimately to become prominent in animal research. An associate professor at Colorado State University, she designs facilities used worldwide for humane handling of livestock. She also invented a "hug machine" (based on a cattle-holding chute) that calms autistic children. In Animals in Translation, co-authored with science writer Catherine Johnson, Grandin makes an intriguing argument that, psychologically, animals and autistic people have a great deal in common—and that both have mental abilities typically underestimated by normal people. The book is a valuable, if speculative, contribution to the discussion of both autism and animal intelligence, two subjects on which there is little scientific consensus. Autistics, in Grandin’s view, represent a "way station" between average people, with all their verbal and conceptual abilities, and animals. In touring animal facilities, Grandin often spots details—a rattling chain, say, or a fluttering piece of cloth—that disturbs the animals but has been overlooked by the people in charge. She also draws on psychological studies to show how oblivious humans can be to their surroundings. Ordinary humans seem to be less detail-oriented than animals and autistics. Grandin argues that animals have formidable cognitive capabilities, albeit specialized ones, whereas humans are cognitive generalists. Dogs are smell experts, birds are migration specialists, and so on. In her view, some animals have a form of genius—much as autistic savants can perform feats of memory and calculation far beyond the abilities of average people. Some dogs, for example, can predict when their owner is about to have a seizure. Delving into animal emotion, aggression and suffering, Grandin gives tips that may be useful for caretakers of pets and farm animals. She also notes that humans seem to need, and thrive on, the proximity of animals. Indeed, she states provocatively, in the process of becoming human we gave up something primal, and being around animals helps us get a measure of that back.”

Our animals can’t talk to us verbally, but their body language says so many things if we only take the time to “listen” to them. In the animal kingdom, they definitely have a way of communicating with one another. The whales and dolphins in the sea share a language of sounds that they use to communicate with one another. The elephants have one of the best structured family groups of all the animals. This is an extremely emotional animal. When one of their species dies or is killed, it’s not unheard of that they will stay with the dead animal for days and even weeks. This shows their capacity for mourning.

I believe that the German Shepherd Dog is an extremely emotional breed of dog. His need to be with his master is second to none in my opinion. He is not a dog that does well being left alone for too long of a period. He is the breed of dog that may experience a higher level of separation anxiety. He has a tremendous need to be a part of his human’s life.

Dogs that have been known to lie on a dead master’s grave site can suffer for months and months after the deceased owner leaves this earth. How many times have you seen a dog that has been raised with another dog go into serious depression when that other dog dies? Some of them never snap out of it because of their longing for their friend.

Dogs can detect when his master is ill many times before the human can. Have you ever had a dog smell you and linger on one part of your body when you have been sick? It’s like they can smell your illness. If you are sad or you are crying, many times your dog will become upset with you. Now if you consider him “just a dog,” then how come he feels your pain right along with you?

How come animals can detect one another’s fear? They can’t talk and warn the other animals to stay away from something that might be dangerous. But there is something about their body language. There is something about a certain smell that they may give off that you and I are unaware of but another animal can detect. This is their way of communicating with one another. And just because they can’t “talk” like you and I “talk” doesn’t mean that they are communicating any less than you and I. Take a walk in a slaughterhouse. Look at those animals eyes. Talk about a study in fear! Easier still, take a walk through a kill shelter especially on the day that those dogs are due to be put down. Take a look at those eyes. He doesn’t even have to utter a word. His eyes tell a story better than any writers words put on paper. Want to know how your dog is feeling? Take a long at him and really see him. He’s never going to say a word, but his body, his actions and those big brown eyes will tell you everything that you need to know if you really take the time to look and listen to him.

I believe that animals feel things on another level from you and me. If he doesn’t have the verbal skills that we have then he’s had to have learned another way of communicating to have been able to evolve for so long. They have had to have learned a way of communicating with one another to get their needs met. They can be conniving, deceitful, strategists, and manipulators doing whatever it takes to communicate, confuse, use, and just plain old survive! They have developed other ways to “talk” to us. They may do it on another level or plane (a level of existence, consciousness, or development) but they share this planet and they’ve got something to tell us……if we would only take the time to listen!

My rating:  appreciation for human and animal differences:  (4), being closed minded to those differences: (1)

Friday, January 15, 2010


This is a story that I wrote a few years ago.  I hope you enjoy it!  Have a wonderful, safe and happy week-end everyone and see you all again on Monday!

Barbara J. Galasso

She rests on an overgrown, weed invaded hill set far back from the dusty dirt road. One would have to travel many back roads through the crooks and crevices of the moss covered floor that blankets the darkened forest to find her. Follow the stream that empties in to the small pond that runs through her back yard. There you’ll see her. Her proud structure of river rock and lumber holds the majestic dwelling that has stood against the test of time. A weather beaten wooden sign still hangs by its hinges swinging in the brisk breeze of the afternoon sunlight. If one looks closely, they can still see the bold etching of the block letters spelling out the words “Barlow German Shepherds.”

You will have to push your way through the heavy underbrush and thick weeds that compete to bar your entrance to the front door. You’ll climb the steps leading to the porch with its wind blown tree twigs and branches scattered haphazardly across her paint chipped floor. You sheepishly peek in her windows like you’re expecting someone will catch you. All is still. All is quiet. You take the key out of your pocket that the caretaker gave you and put it in the keyhole as you gently turn the doorknob. A large cobweb that decorates the entranceway releases its hold and the door slowly opens to welcome her first visitor in many years.

As you step from the porch to the foyer, you feel as though you’ve just crossed over into another time and place. You walk through her halls and rooms leaving your footprints on her heavily dust laden floors announcing your presence from one room to the next. Cobwebs grace the corners of her walls. You suddenly find yourself standing in the large living room with the floor to ceiling fireplace made out of the same river rock as the exterior of the house. It is in this room with her large windows and French doors that leads to the back yard that something catches your eye.

You open the doors and step out on to the patio. You squat down on bended knees as you try to look through the thick bushes and trees that block your view. You make your own path as you scurry to get through the obstacle course of the unkempt landscape. It’s then that you see what tempted you to come out of the house in the first place. At first you are taken aback by the huge bronze structure of a German Shepherd Dog and you think how out of place it seems standing alone on the over grown grass and weeds that encircle it’s base. Then raising your eyes as you follow the outline of the statue, you see the gate that this life like figure seems to be guarding. Beyond the gate is where your eyes rest upon the kennels of Barlow.

You estimate that each run must be at least forty feet long as you begin to count the thirty runs that make up the kennels. As you pass by each cemented run, you notice dog houses with plaques that have the animals names engraved on them. You walk back to the gate that let you in and once again look up at the imposing bronze figure that blocked your entry. It too has a plaque with a name on it. You look closer and you see it spells out the name of “Thunder.” Upon closer examination, it reads: “GV Ch Barlow’s Thunderbolt ROM”, Highest Register of Merit of all time! The smaller numbers read 1958 – 1971. You’ve heard of this dog that dominates many pedigrees although many generations removed by now.

A sudden wind kicks up and it’s time for you to make your way back to your car. You walk several feet away from the kennels and turn to look one last time upon them. You notice one very dried up knuckle bone lying in the corner of one of the front kennels that even the flies have lost interest in many years ago and wonder about the dog that left it behind. As you draw further away from the kennel and closer to the house, the bronze statue again plays hide and seek through the thick bushes and trees until it once again disappears into the scenery.

As you lock up the front door and descend down the front steps, the caretaker drives up to meet you. “So, what do you think of the old place?” he asks you. “It’s amazing,” you answer him. I can’t believe that I got to see the prestigious Barlow kennels. All my life, I heard my parents talk about this place and it’s famous German Shepherds.” “What did you think of that bronze statue of Thunder?” he asks you. You know Thunder was the greatest dog that ever lived in his time. There was nothing quite like him! Pretty awesome, don’t you think?” “I never seen anything like it,” you tell him. “But it’s also kind of sad at the same time,” you say. “What do you mean?” he questions you. “Well,” you say, everything is empty now. All the famous dogs and their people are gone. There’s nothing left but the bronze statue and the empty house and kennel.” The caretaker corrects you. He tells you, “No house is ever empty.” You look at him with a quizzical expression on your face. He continues. “No house is ever empty, that once had life in it. This is where new life, new dreams, new visions and new hope were born. A house never dies just because its owners are no longer physically there. Sometimes if you listen hard enough, you can still hear them. “What are you talking about?” you interrupt him. “The dogs,” he says. It was always about the dogs.” Just then it starts to rain and you both climb back in to your cars. You roll your window down and say good bye and thank him for allowing you entry in to a by gone era.   Acknowledging you with a wave of his hand, the caretaker drives back down the dusty road.

As you turn your windshield wipers on, you hear a faint noise. You turn them back off again. Now you don’t hear anything. So you sit a little while longer. You look back towards the house and then you hear the noise again coming from around the side of the dwelling. You stick your head out of the window just a little bit to listen for the sound that never comes again as the rain softly caresses your face. If you didn’t know better, you could have sworn you heard dogs barking off in the distance. But, everything is silent. You brush it off, thinking it must have been the swooshing sound made by the progression of the windshield wipers against your front window. You turn them on again and start to make your way back down the long dirt road. The rain is starting to come down heavier now as you struggle to see in front of you. Just then something darts out in front of the car. It looked like it was a big, dark stray dog, but you can’t be sure because of the blinding rain. It disappears in to the thick bushes on the opposite side of the road. You slam your brakes on and sit there with just the hypnotic back and forth motion of the wipers to keep you company. A flash of lightening crackles in the sky and the roar of “Thunder” can be heard over the mountains. The words of the caretaker whispers to you, “No house is ever empty that once had life in it!”

My rating:  breeding dogs by knowledgeable breeders:  (4), back yard breeders/puppy mills: (1)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Ever notice while standing at an overly long check out line at a grocery store how many people are thumbing through a magazine? By the time they get to the counter, they’ve gone through the whole magazine, placed it back on the rack and they just got themselves free reading material and it didn’t cost them a dime? Then the next person, who comes along, picks up the very same magazine, pays for it and has now just bought herself a used publication, smudged fingerprints and all!

Ever notice that when you breed to the number one producing stud dog in the country, a fellow breeder “friend” will say to you, “Why’d you breed to that dog? The market is overflowing with his puppies. No one is going to want something from that litter.” Then when she breeds to the very same dog, she’ll say, “I have puppies out of the top producing dog in the breed. Do you know what his puppies are worth?”

Ever notice when your dog loses, how your “friend” might say, “Oh you poor thing, but that was a really nice bitch that beat yours. Better luck next time!” Then when your “friend” shows her dog and loses to the very same bitch, she talks a different tune. “Did you see how that dog was lifting from the elbow? What a piece of junk! That was a set up job if I ever seen one! I should have known better than show here. That exhibitor and judge are the best of friends!”

Ever notice that when your “friend” is showing her dog that she expects and demands that you clap and scream for her dog by coming over to you and saying “Don’t forget to clap for my dog.” Then when you show your dog in one of the classes at the same show, the air is so quiet and still save for your own weak slapping of your hands together. When you ask your “friend” how come she didn’t applaud for your dog, she tells you, “Oh, I forgot.”

Ever notice if your “friends” dog spooks from the judge, she turns scarlet red and says her dog is having a bad day and that it can happen to the best of them. When your dog does the same thing, your “friend” tells you she wouldn’t give your dog kennel space!

Ever notice that a mediocre or even just an “alright kind of dog” if owned by a top breeder and pushed by a top handler can convince owners of great bitches to breed to him and dictate the style of dogs for generations to come? The better quality dog might live right down the street, but if not owned by the big shot or shown by the top handler may just get overlooked. Then notice too, that for years to come the breed will be either over angulated in the rear and then years later, the all breed dog is suddenly popular again. You scratch your head and wonder why the standard was ever written in the first place!

Ever notice when people are running for office in the club, a friendly hand is extended and a big “pearly white mouth of teeth” glistens in the sunshine just begging for your vote. This is the guy who wouldn’t normally give you the time of day and all of a sudden he’s become your best friend. He hands you a cigar, you share a few puffs, and then you listen to his “If I was elected to office, you can be assured that I’d…….yada, yada, yada!” Then after you help him get elected, the next time you see him at a show, you approach him extending your hand for a shake and ask if he has any of those Cuban cigars anymore. He looks at your hand with disdain and almost yells, “What do you think I’m made of money or something, boy?” as he walks away whispering to himself, “Just who the hell does he think he is anyway?”

Ever notice if you buy an imported dog, your “friend” will snicker and say, “Why did you go and spend that kind of money on a roach backed dog? Nope, nope, nope, I wouldn’t want that in my breeding program. A couple years go by and this same “friend” is all excited to show you HER newest import. With her head held high, she exclaims, “Do you know how much this dog from Germany cost me? I spent a fortune on him. You just wait and see how everybody knocks my doors down to breed to him! Do you know how valuable his puppies are going to be? With a quizzical look on your face, you’re wondering why her imported dog will be any more valuable than your imported dog.

Ever notice if you share with your “friend” that you just put a two page black and white ad in the German Shepherd Dog Review, she never really acknowledges what you said. Instead he tells you to look for her two page COLOR spread in the same issue. She goes on to tell you how she had it professionally done while you remember how many hours it took you to even get one page done.

Ever notice if you tell your “friend” that you just got off the telephone with a well known handler who has agreed to show your dog, your friend will tell you “Oh that handler is so yesterday. He’s over the hill. No one is using him anymore.” You scratch your head and question your own sanity. If your memory serves you right this “over the hill” handler just won back to back majors the week-end before!

Ever notice that if you do something one way, your “friend” just has to do it the other way? If you like an all black dog, she likes an all white dog. If you breed to an American champion, she’ll breed to an imported champion. If you feed holistic dog food, she’ll tell you all the reasons why you should be feeding a raw diet. If you win a Select title at the National, she has to win a Best in Show at an all-breed. If your bitch has met all the requirements for her ROM (register of merit) title, she has to make sure her bitch produces one or two more champions than your bitch did.

Ever wonder why you ever have to show your dog ever again? With a “friend” like this there is more competition going on OUTSIDE of the ring than in it!

My rating: Competition in the show ring: (4), Competition outside of the show ring: (1)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The German Shepherd Dog of America describes the German Shepherd dog’s temperament as having a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them.

Everyone would agree that a German Shepherd without this ideal temperament is not a very good representative of the breed. A dog that is shy or aggressive is not what the breed standard calls for. So this is the description of the ideal German Shepherd dog. What then is the difference between the temperament of a dog and his personality? Some people might consider this the same thing. I do not.

The temperament in my opinion represents the dog’s character. The personality is something all together different. You can have a dog that has excellent temperament but is dull in personality. The personality of the dog is what makes him unique just like in people. Anyone who has been in the breed for any number of years will have had experience with many different types of personalities and temperaments. Most of us know what it is to live with a dog that has the ideal temperament. They are a joy to live with and this is the type of dog that you are proud to take anywhere with you.

I have owned a dog with a great temperament but who was kind of dull in personality. She really wasn’t a whole lot of fun to be with. Fun to her was lying around the house all day and as long as you fed her, she was happy and content. Turned out she had a thyroid problem. I offered her back to my friend who sold her to me and she was placed in a good home.

I love having a dog with a great personality. This is the dog that is fun to be with and makes me laugh. Some of these dogs can be so funny that they make you laugh out loud. My one girl is the alpha girl although her mother tries to remind her who the real boss is on occasion. This girl is never content just lying around. She has to be directing “traffic” constantly while she’s in the house. If her sister grabs a toy, she grabs it from her. She has one eye on what she’s doing and one eye on what the other two dogs are doing at all times. She’s afraid that she may be missing something and that they are having something that she isn’t. She’s trying, she’s exhausting, she’s intimidating (to them), but is always a constant source of entertainment. She’s a very happy dog……….as long as everything is going her way! Her need for recognition knows no boundaries.

I believe that temperament is something that the dog is born with through his genetics and I also believe that his environment has a lot to do with it as well. Now some dogs can come from a horrific upbringing by someone who may be abusing them. Some of these dogs come out of shelters and are re-homed in to loving environments and the dog shows no fear of humans. Other dogs put in the same circumstances may become shy and distrustful of all humans, but with a lot of work can sometimes be brought out of his fear. Sometimes this puppy is born with a good temperament but may be more sensitive in his nature to upsets in his life. This is all about the temperament of the dog.

The personality is something that the dog develops and you can normally see this as a youngster. Each day is a new adventure for the dog with a fun loving personality. He loves being with his people and he’s performing on a daily basis as if to say, “Look at me!” I find that the dog with a good personality always shows me something new and why he is different and stands out from the rest. Some are mischievous and down right bad to the bone! I wonder if they think when I laugh at their antics that this is approval for some of their naughty behavior.

My “personality” girl never fails to amaze me at some of the things that she does. I wonder sometimes what she’s trying to communicate to me. For example……every night before my three girls go to bed, they share a snack with me. Now they all have their own ways of doing things. I wonder what this particular girl is trying to convey to me. She has a need to come up behind my computer chair where I am sitting and she gently (and she never does anything gently) rises on her hind legs and “buzzes” me on the top of my head with her snout. Every night without failure she does this. What is she trying to tell me? Is she thanking me for the snack or is this a way to show affection? I don’t know, but she’s been doing it for several months now. There is never a dull moment with this one.

So of course we all want the dog with the good temperament, but I also want the one that has the personality as well. Some dogs are just there and other dogs remind and let you know that they’re there. They demand your attention and if they don’t have it, they are determined to get it. It’s like they are always turned on and love performing for you. Sometimes however, it can be so very exhausting and that’s when I REALLY appreciate the easy going, calm “loves to lay around the house” type of dog!

My rating: good temperament: (4), good personality: (4)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Most pet people when they think of the German Shepherd dog, they think of the black and tan or even the black and silver coat. They are not familiar with the many different colors of this breed. The colors of the German Shepherd are: black and tan/black and crèam, black and silver, sable/gray, bi-color, black, white, blanket, blue, and liver. According to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America the coat color may vary although strong rich colors are preferred. Pale, washed-out colors and blues or livers are serious faults. A white dog must be disqualified. I wonder why blues and livers are only serious faults but yet the white dog would be disqualified!?

When you think of a black and tan/crèam/silver, or red this would usually describe a dog that has a black saddle and the majority of the rest of his coat color is tan, crèam, silver, or red. This would be the most common color of this breed. Most of the time this is the type of dog that you would see in the movies or television or even the advertising of this breed. I would venture to say that more dogs of this color than any other color of this breed does the most winning in the conformation shows. In fact some judges have a hard time putting up some dogs of other colors like the black dog, the bi-color or even the sable dog. For some of them, this is not a color that they prefer. That’s why it’s very important to find out what a certain judge may like before you enter the ring. Of course the best structured dog with the most desirable temperament should be the dog that wins. However, it is a known fact that some judges just do not favor other coat colors besides the black and tan variation.

The sable/gray coat looks very similar to the coat you would expect to see on the wolf. Even with a sable, you can see variances in the color of the pigment. Sometimes you will hear people say they own a red sable. Sometimes you will hear them say that they own a gray. The hairs on a sable dog refer to the banding of color on the dog’s individual hairs. The dog’s hair is tipped with varying amounts of black on the ends with the rest being different shades of red, gray, etc. So you can find black sables, tan sables silver sables or red sables. This is how much the coat of a sable can vary.

The blanket type of coat is where the saddle part of the dog extends approximately to the elbow of the dog. This gives the dog more of a blanket look on his back than a saddle look. Sometimes people confuse the blanket backed dog with a bi-color type dog.

The bi-color is when the saddle part of the dog covers most of the body leaving markings on the feet and sometimes on the face like having eyebrows.

The totally black dog is exactly what it sounds like. There are no tan markings on this dog. However, sometimes this dog may appear to have a reddish undercoat. Most of the time that is due to the dog being out in the sun too long. Also I have seen a totally black dog have a white splash on their chest. The solid black is a recessive gene meaning that both parents must carry this color gene.

A dog that is blue in color can vary from very light almost looking like a silver to a very dark blue almost looking like a black, but never truly a dark black…..almost dusty looking. Most of these dogs will have a light eye. The blue gene is a recessive gene that both parents must carry in order for a puppy to be born blue.

A liver dog will look usually like a black and tan dog, but instead of the black saddle, he will carry a brownish looking saddle. The liver colored dog is also a recessive gene. Both the blue and liver dog dilutes the black gene. The liver dog will have a brown colored nose almost looking like he was digging in the dirt all day.

The white German Shepherd is not an albino as some people may think. Here again, the white gene is a recessive gene.

Some people will argue and say that no matter what color a German Shepherd is, he is still a German Shepherd. They will say that color shouldn’t matter as long as the dog is healthy. And yes, they would be right that no matter what color he is, he still has the heart of a German Shepherd and many people have different colors of this breed and love them no matter what. But as with any breed of dog, there must be a standard to breed to. There must be an ideal for which a breeder tries to reproduce in his litters. If there were not standards, then there would be no German Shepherd “look” and than just any old thing would do.

I have owned black and tans, sables, bi-colors and blankets. I love a gorgeous plush sable bitch. This combination can be very striking to look at. The male dog that is pictured on the left hand side top of this blog, “Chieftain’s Rajah” was a blanket dog. One would look at him and see his black face and predominately black body and think that he was a bi-color. He was not. He had the tan markings that went up on his legs unlike the bi-color bitch that I now own. (See picture on top of this article - Chieftain's Hello Gorgeous).  Her (Jess's) tan markings are only on her feet and under her tail. She too has a totally black face. She also has the stripes on her toes which is normally a give away on a bi-color. This means that there are black stripes going down each of her toes. The blankets don’t have this. Normally their feet are tan. So distinguishing between a blanket and a bi-color can sometimes be very hard for some people.

Knowing about the genetics of color is a very long and detailed study…..too long for me to write about here. I would suggest anyone who is interested about coat color; check out the many articles about this subject on the internet. Also if you want to see what some of these colors look like, there are many fascinating pictures for you to look at on these websites.

Once again there are many different color coats that a German Shepherd Dog may have. One can argue that each of them is pretty in their own way. Each of them can bring joy to their owners. However, most people will associate the black and tan to be the “typical” look of the German Shepherd Dog.

My rating: breeding to the standard: (4), any color can still be a good dog: (4)

Monday, January 11, 2010


The first picture is of Ch Geran's Always on my mind ROM OFA H&E HIC (MyMy) taken at nine years of age (dam of nine champions)!
The second picture is of MyMy's champion inbred daughter, Ch Geran's I did it my way (Presley)!

This interview was conducted with Gerald Roach of Geran’s German Shepherds. Gerald lives in Indiana with his wife Angela and their beautiful young daughter Alexa. I never met Gerald but we established a telephone friendship when he called me and invited me to be a member of his popular German Shepherd Dog List called, “German Shepherds for show.” That was a little over four years ago and as I told him one time, “Not talking to Gerald every morning would be like starting my day without my Raisin Bran!” So thank you Gerald for giving me permission to do this interview and to use your pictures of your beautiful dogs on my blog.

Me: Please tell us how and when you got started in the German Shepherd Dog breed.

Gerald: Wow that brings back memories. I used to stay with my cousins on the weekends when I was growing up. My uncle had a subscription to Dog World and I would end up spending most of the weekend reading those magazines front to back. I fell in love with the German Shepherds from those magazines and I was hooked.

Me: Who were your mentors?

Gerald: Nancy Schneider and Lorraine Rosinski. God the hours I spent on the phone with these ladies and they both taught me so much.

Me: You have had a tremendous amount of success over the last few years. What do you contribute that to?

Gerald: Ch Geran's Always On My Mind ROM for without this bitch I would have no success. She has proven to be one of the great producing dams of our breed and her true worth to the breed was not been seen for years. To date My My has given Geran's nine champions with several more coming. I have stayed very focused and worked very hard at training, conditioning, and showing along with great owners and co-owners. Add all of this together and these are the reasons for Geran's success.

Me: What are the Geran's German Shepherds known for?

Gerald: I think my dogs are known for motion and type, with a strong emphasis on shoulders.

Me: Besides your own dogs, which dog from the past was your favorite and why?

Gerald: Ch. Wellspring's Ironsides ROM. I didn't see Charlie till he was older but I remember him as one hunk of a male. I fell in love with his breed type and presence.

Me: Where do you see the strengths in our breed today?

Gerald: I think we have excellent breed type. I don't see as many weak backs as I did in the past.

Me: Where do you see the weakness in our breed today?

Gerald: Shoulders and temperaments.

Me: What would you like to see change in the breed?

Gerald: I would like to see more breeders focus on correct motion and sound minds.

Me: What do you feel your greatest contribution to the breed is?

Gerald: I think my love and passion for this breed and preserving it to my best ability is the greatest contribution I can give.

Me: What do you think about today's judging?

Gerald: I think too many judges focus on pretty and plushy or what might seem to be today's fad. They need to focus on the dog’s motion more. This is a movement breed.

Me: Although you have shown and won at both Specialty and All Breed shows, you have told me that you prefer the All breed shows. Why is that?

Gerald: As a breeder and owner I love showing my dogs myself. I feel I am more competitive in the All breed ring as an owner handler.

Me: Is there anything that you would like to see changed in the Parent Club?

Gerald: Not really. It seems to be going very well right now.

Me: What food do you feed your dogs and how many times a day do you feed them?

Gerald: We feed Diamond natural chicken and rice and extreme athlete. We feed twice a day.

Me: What sort of advice would you give to people just starting out in the breed?

Gerald: Learn the standard. Learn correct motion. Then find a breeder who has a proven breeding program and watch what they do. Let them help you pick a nice puppy.

Me: What do you still want to accomplish in the breed that you haven't yet done?

Gerald: I am still looking to win a Best in Show!

Me: Where do you see yourself in the next five years in the breed?

Gerald: I have thought about judging, but keep telling myself I want to keep showing. So, I guess the future is still open.

Me: Tell us something about you that people don't know.

Gerald: I am a 32nd degree Mason.

Gerald is probably one of the most ambitious young men that I know of. If he sets his mind to do something, he usually achieves it. He is very focused about what he wants to do with his breeding program. He might listen to what others may say about different bloodlines, but one of the things that I’ve learned about him is that he ALWAYS DOES IT HIS WAY!

To see more of Gerald’s beautiful German Shepherds, take a look at his newly designed website at:

My rating: dedicated breeders: (4), mentors for the breed: (4)