Friday, April 30, 2010


Barbara J. Galasso

I can see the pearly white gates just ahead of me shining brightly in the afternoon sun. But what’s this? So many people are crowded at her majestic doors. Many more are sleeping at the bottom of the grassy knolls spread along the tapestry of the great barriers landscape. Some people are talking and pay no attention to me as I pass them on my journey to the great door that looms in front of me. I hear someone say that at this rate they’ll never get in. Someone responds and says that only one person was let in today. Many knock, but few are allowed entrance through the sacred doors. I wonder to myself what chance do I have to receive admittance through those doors. All I know is that I must try. I’ve come so far, and I’m so tired.

I now stand in front of the big doors and I timidly knock on the great structure. I wonder if anyone can hear me. Slowly the doors open and white puffs of billowy clouds float out past me. A voice beckons me to enter. I hear the roar of the crowd behind me as those who have waited so long run to the door, but alas, no one gains entrance after me. Everything is still; everything is silent as a gentle sense of peace washes over me.

“Who’s that knocking at my door? Who are you my little one?” an invisible voice asks me. I sheepishly answer to the beautiful voice. “I am no one. I haven’t got a name. I'm just a German Shepherd Dog with no name." I say with my head held down in shame. “What, no name?” I hear the voice question me. “Well who’s your family? Where do you come from?”

I feel my body quiver as I admit to never having known my father and having lost my mother only a month after I was born. I tell the voice that I was born at Hell House with one foot in the grave, or that’s what it felt like at the time to me and my brothers and sisters. And then time separated us and I no longer knew if my siblings were still there or not. There was just too many of us and all we did was to try to survive another day. I sometimes wondered if we even looked forward to another day. The only escape that I had was my dreams when I was too exhausted to do anything but sleep.

“And what did you dream about little guy?” the voice invited me to continue. “I dreamed my festering sores would be replaced with a coat of soft, shiny fur. I dreamed of fields of green grass growing, cool brooks flowing, and the breeze of fresh air filling my lungs. I dreamed of someone throwing a ball to me, clean food and water, a car ride down the street, a bone to chew on and a fireplace to lay in front of. But most of all, I dreamed of someone giving me love and attention, and scratching me behind the ear or rubbing my belly once in awhile. Then I’d awake back to reality and find myself maneuvering my splayed toes along the wire enclosure that housed me and five other dogs. The green grass, the fresh air, and the cool running brooks were replaced with the stench of dog droppings, empty water pans and dishes with caked on food that even the vermin turned their noses up at.”

And the voice answered, “I know the truth in what you say my precious little dog. You are only seven years old. All that is past you now. No one will ever hurt you again. I never sent more to you than you could bear. I didn’t call you dog for nothing. Your name is mine name only spelled backwards. Didn’t they see me in front of them? When they starved you, they starved me. When they beat you, they beat me. When they ignored your cries of pain or loneliness, they ignored me. I gave them the larger brain to figure this all out. And still they ask where I was when they needed me? I was right there all the time, right in front of them. I don’t always look like some artists interpretation of me on canvas, you know. I am in the lowliest places and with the most forgotten souls.”

“Now my boy, you are home and we must give you a name. I’m going to call you “Dreamer” because your dreams are what got you through your short life. You have earned your place to sit at my feet by my throne. Come shall we, let’s go walk on those fields of green and get you a drink of water from the cool brooks that you always thirsted after.”

As we pass the great walls that surround the castle, I hear crying and weeping from the other side. I stop and get up on my hind legs and peek over the wall. The beautiful voice says to me, “Those are the puppy mill breeders, the puppy store owners, and the tormentors of animals that have passed from earth and are looking for solace behind my doors. What do you think we should do with them Dreamer?” I find a little growl escape my raised lips. “Good,” the voice says. That’s what I thought too.” The master looks down on the derelicts and says, “Be gone from my sight, ye of little faith.” With that a great rumbling is felt and the air is perforated with screams of terror. It reminds me of the screams I heard all of my life at Hell House. As if the master read my mind, he says to the doomed, “As you have done on earth, is what you shall receive now.” I close my eyes tightly as the earth opens her crusty floor and swallows everyone. Deep in the earth’s core, the echoes of the tortured animal’s voices keep the newest residents of Hell House company on their ride to eternity.

My rating: puppy mills: (1), backyard breeders: (1)

From the great book: "SAVING GRACIE: HOW ONE DOG ESCAPED THE SHADOWY WORLD OF AMERICAN PUPPY MILLS"......Journalist Bradley exposes the hidden world of puppy mills, where dogs are caged like chickens and forced to repeatedly breed until they die. Unlike most factory farm animals that endure painful confinement and are slaughtered within six months of birth, mill breeding dogs are sentenced to many years of existence in deplorable conditions; many don't learn to walk because their cages don't give them enough room to stand. Bradley details the raid of one such mill, Mike-Mar Kennel in Oxford, Pa., which led to the seizure of more than 300 dogs, mostly adults that had languished for years with broken limbs and untreated diseases. Dog 132, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel later named Gracie, was rescued during the raid. Nearly blind, with decayed teeth and a strong aversion to human contact, Gracie flourished under the love and patience of her adoptive owner, Linda Jackson. Bradley's powerful narrative will tug at heartstrings, raise public awareness, and, hopefully, help put an end to puppy mills.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Do you believe that personalities rub off on one dog to another? Well I do. Unfortunately, it’s normally the one with the worse personality traits that rub off to the dog that has the better personality. Normally it’s the alpha dog (the leader) that determines how another dog may act.

If you house a dog with a more submissive disposition with a dog that is the alpha dog, than the dog with the submissive temperament will usually follow and do what the alpha dog does. If the alpha dog barks at everyone she sees, usually the submissive dog will do the same thing. And you can always be sure that the leader of the pack will lead those that are less strong in personality into temptation all the time. It’s almost like the more submissive dog never really gets to develop his own personality when living with the more dominate dog.

The submissive dog does whatever the dominate dog does. If the leader jumps all over the counters when she comes in, so does the submissive one. It’s as if the submissive dog watches and imitates whatever the alpha dog does. Most of the time, the alpha dog is a very smart dog which also means that he can be very conniving to make thinks go his way. Understandably the human in the family MUST BE the alpha at all times with this type of dog. However, he can still try to maintain his dominate role over the other dogs in his domain. If he can’t control the human, he will still try to control the other dogs in his “pack.” When the human maintains the role of “alpha” this fits in well with the dog, because in the wild they would always have a pack leader which they would follow.

When researching the material for this article, I was interested in something that I read about the dog and his touching us or leaning on us. I have three female German Shepherds. The oldest one is the mother of the other two. You’ve read my articles about my very testy, trying, conniving, and bad to the bone, “Bu.” I wrote one time about how she has gotten into this habit every single night before she goes to bed. I sit on my computer chair and they share a treat with me. “Bu” without fail, after receiving a few pieces of whatever I’m sharing with them, has to come up behind my chair and gently tap the top of my head. This goes on every single night without fail. When someone read about this, they told me not to let her get away with it. Well this article that I just read, said the same thing. This article said, and I quote: “When a dog is constantly leaning on you, putting his paw on you, or touching you in some way, this is not your dog loving you, it is your dog displaying dominate behaviors.” Gee and all the while I thought she was giving me kisses on my head! I tell you the more you are involved in the ownership of dogs, you realize that there is still so much more to be learned. And believe me, owning “Bu” is a continuous education!

Being the alpha human means that you must establish yourself first in everything that you do. This means that you must be first to eat, first to come in or go out the door and the first one to establish where you will sit or lie down before the dog tries to sit or lie down on your comfy sofa. The dog must be second in everything. His needs come after your needs.

Because this breed is extremely intelligent, if you don’t show that you are the alpha, they will look to take that position away from you. It’s wise to teach this breed or any breed for that fact, the “barter” system. This means teach them to do your command for everything that you give them. If they want to go out, make them sit at the door before you let them out. If they want a treat, make them do something to earn it. In other words, reward good behavior and not the other way around.

I believe that there are different degrees of “alpha” type dogs. I’ve owned German Shepherds for most of my adult life. I’ve always been the alpha in my dog’s eyes and never had any of them challenge me……until “Bu.” They were gentler, calmer dogs then what I own now. You would think in my later years on this earth, that I should be blessed with those types of dogs now. Nope, I got stuck with the “nut” cases now instead! Lord have mercy! I guess someone “upstairs” thinks that I need to be kept on my toes, challenged, and my nerves rattled a little bit more. Is this meant to keep me younger or put me in my grave sooner?!?!

Now what do I mean about different degrees of alpha? All of my dogs over the years had an alpha in their pack (next to me). Those alpha dogs, however, ruled the others with a gentle paw. They might give a little growl to warn them about something or in the case of the two dogs pictured at the top of my blog……..Nuance and Rajah…….if she wanted his bone or whatever it was that he was chewing, she’d take her mouth and gently clamp it over his. He’d release the chew bone to her. She’d grab it and strut around the room with it in her mouth. She didn’t really want it, but she wanted to know that she could take it from him whenever she wanted to. She was 58 pounds. He was 105 pounds. Sissy boy!!!........only kidding. He truly loved and respected her. There were never any fights or aggressive growling. It was just the order of things and the order of the pack leader with her submissive house mate.

The more aggressive alpha is the one that you really need to keep your eye on. She isn’t just content taking a toy away; she might initiate a fight doing it. This type of dog needs to be in control at all times. Also this type of dog needs to be controlled (by you) at all times.

My “Bu” can never just lie still contently chewing on her bone. If her sister gets up and goes into the kitchen, she MUST get up to see what she’s doing. It’s like she thinks her sister needs direction from her. The other day, her sister (Jess) was scratching herself while lying on the back deck. It was like “Bu” couldn’t stand it any longer, so she gets up with her pompous little body and walks over to her sister. I’m watching this out the window. She takes her paw where Jess is scratching herself and hits her with it a few times right where Jess is scratching. Was she being kind trying to help her sister, scratch an itch? Or was she telling her, “I had enough of your scratching, so cut it out?!”

I believe the alpha dog is the type of dog that must have training which can be as simple as teaching him the most basic of commands. Just as long as he's learning and taking direction from you. He becomes used to taking direction from you and this makes you the alpha in his eyes.

So you can see there are different degrees of alpha. Some of them are tolerable and then others are ones you must monitor at all times. I don’t think I will ever be able to take the “alpha” out of Bu, but she must know that I am the alpha over her at all times. Believe me these types of dogs will test you time and time again. The little darlings just want to make sure you’re still on your toes. Heaven help you if you slip! Give me strength dear Lord! Give me strength!

My rating: alpha dog: (1), alpha human: (4)

From the book: "CLICKING WITH YOUR DOG".......Clicker training is a method of teaching behavior to dogs using positive reinforcement. The successive approximation of desired behavior is marked with a clicker and rewarded with a treat, a toy, or a pat. Inappropriate behavior is ignored, not punished. In 1985, Karen Pryor published the seminal work on this method, Don't Shoot the Dog (Bantam), and issued a revision in 1999. Both editions are highly theoretical and are aimed at the educated, informed lay reader. Tillman, an ergonomics illustrator as well as a dog trainer and clicker-training instructor, has made Pryor's principles and techniques accessible to the rank amateur. Using easily understandable text and clear, step-by-step drawings, she guides the novice through all the steps necessary to teach dogs almost 100 different behaviors, from basic obedience to housebreaking to tricks. She also applies the principles to the elimination of problem behavior. While Paul Owens's The Dog Whisperer (LJ 10/1/99) covered much the same subject matter, Tillman's book teaches the skills through illustrations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I've got lots of errands to do today so I didn't have any time to write a new article so I've pulled this "oldie but goodie" from my files to share once again with you and for my new readers who have not seen it before.

Barbara J. Galasso

As far back as Tommy remembered, he always had a German Shepherd while growing up. There was always a dog to share his bed, steal his baseball cap and catch a Frisbee. He and his dad took the dog hunting and fishing; even though his father often reminded him this was not what shepherds were bred to do. The dog loved to join them anyway, alerting any deer along the way of their presence. He wanted to chase deer rather than stop or point. No sir, there was nothing quiet about taking a German Shepherd when you went hunting. Guess that's why no antlers hung over the fireplace mantle.

Tommy's family lived in a little house in a farming village where neighbors seldom locked their doors at night. When he closed his eyes, he could still see the old door in the kitchen that led out to the backyard. It seemed his father never did get those rusted hinges to shut all the way, allowing the dogs to come and go as they chose.

Every few years, mom and dad raised a new litter of puppies letting Tommy choose a male pup for himself. As each pup grew, got old and died, Tommy always called the next one he kept by the same name.”Shep.” His mother looked at him with a puzzled expression on her face, and he'd be forced to admit, "I know mom. Not very original." But he liked the name, so “Shep” is what each dog was called. Every Shep came to all his baseball practices and games. The challenge was to make him sit and stay, not chase each flying ball Tommy hit. Wherever Tommy went, Shep was usually two feet in front of him leading the way. He allowed Tommy's friends to play with him, but strangers were forbidden to get too close.

Grandma and grandpa visited often in those days. Sunday dinner was always a treat because mom made her famous pot roast. Grandpa got so tired after eating such a heavy meal; he would lie on the sofa and catch a little nap. Dad would bring his finger to his lips and say, "Shhhh.....Don't disturb grandpa. Let him sleep. He's old and he tires easily". "OK, dad", Tommy would say and out the back door he and Shep would run to play in the old barn.

When they tired of playing, Tommy would ask,”Hey Shep, you want to go to our secret place?" The dog would tilt his head to the side and begin jumping up and down with excited anticipation. Shep would let out a loud bark and with that Tommy would swing open the barn door and they'd race to see who would get to the secret place first. Tommy always knew this was never really a race because he'd always lose. Shep would stand waiting for him, with his tail wagging and body wiggling with happiness as Tommy reached the embankment several moments later.
Shep and Tommy's secret place was the old swimming hole. On a hot summer day, they could be found dipping into the cool, refreshing water. Shep would doggy paddle to Tommy, his huge feet clumsily slapping the water. "Hey Shep,” Tommy would warn, “Get away before you drown me, you big oaf!" They'd swim to the embankment, Shep searching quickly for a stick to play catch. This was a game they played time and again. Tommy sat with legs dangling in the water watching Shep’s big head part the water as he paddled to shore carrying the prize. He’d dance back and forth begging Tommy to throw the stick for him over and over. He never seemed to tire of this game. When the stick was tossed for the last time and Shep jumped back into the water, Tommy would dash off quickly to hide.

The absence of Tommy waiting on the shore, made Shep swim even faster. Of course his search didn't take too long, for he always knew where Tommy could be found. He'd quickly gait up the grassy knoll, this time Tommy waiting for him under the old oak tree. He'd drop his stick by Tommy's sprawled out body, give himself a good hard shake, and make sure his young master got wet all over again. "Thanks a lot Shep, Tommy would laugh. I really needed that."

Then he would flop next to Tommy and start pawing at him to remind him a good belly rubbing would feel perfect right about now. Satisfied, he'd roll over on his back, his silly legs sticking up in the air demanding attention. Once he relaxed and settled down, he'd look up with those soft brown eyes, let out a little whimper, and rest his big head on Tommy's lap. Tommy would talk to him scratching behind his ears. With a look of contentment, he'd gently close his eyes to take a nap. The bees and butterflies would fly among the flowers that covered the meadows as Shep and Tommy welcomed summer breezes that warmed their wet bodies. Sometimes Tommy would wrap his arm around Shep's big neck, and join him in peaceful slumber on those lazy summer days.

When Tommy went off to college, he returned home every week end anxious to take Shep for walks down by the swimming hole. They'd sit under the old oak tree, where Shep would cozy up to him, rest his head on his lap once again and listen contentedly as Tommy would share stories with his old friend. Life was simple and good.

The college years flew by; Tommy graduated and married his college sweetheart. They came often to visit at the farm, Shep running out to greet their car with a loud bark and a wag of his tail. When they had a son of their own, Sammy also looked forward to visits at grandma and grandpa's house so he could toddle outside to play with Shep. Shep would give him a big wet sloppy kiss, knocking him off his feet.

As the years went by Sammy gained spring in his step, whereas, Old Shep, as he was now called, found it harder to keep up as arthritis robbed his youthful gait and agility. They still came to the farm every Sunday for pot roast dinner, only now it was Tommy's dad who took a nap afterwards and he'd find himself bringing his finger to his lips reminding his son, "Shhhh.....,” he'd say, “Don't disturb grandpa. Let him sleep. He's old and tires easily.” "OK daddy,” Sammy replies, because he was more interested in where Shep was anyway.

On one of these Sunday gatherings Sammy fidgeted in his chair uninterested in finishing his dinner. The conversation flowed smoothly, so no one really paid too much attention to him. The child watched as Old Shep pressed his nose against the back door pushing his arthritic body a little harder to make it open. That old creaky door never did get fixed after all the years. When the dishes were washed, grandma announced, "Time for dessert everybody”. They gathered around the table, except Tommy noticed Sammy didn't come. He called out his son’s name, but Sammy didn't answer. Tommy thought, "I bet I know where he is. He's out playing with Old Shep.”

Excusing himself from the table, he went out the kitchen door. "Sammy", he called again. Still no answer. He went around the side of the barn and thought there was only one place they could be. They had to be down by the secret place; the swimming hole. He called out the boys name again. "Come on, Sammy! Grandma's got dessert on the table. You'd better hurry up inside before it's all gone.”

Coming around the bend, he saw Sammy with Old Shep’s head lying in his lap in the very spot under the old oak tree where he used to sit with all the Sheps before him. A smile escaped his lips as memories flooded his heart with the realization Sammy shared a love of animals as his father and grandfather before him.

"Hey son", he began to say until Sammy cut his words off by bringing his little finger up to his lips. " Don't disturb Old Shep. Let him sleep. He's old and tires easily.” With that, a silent gasp escaped Tommy's throat as a single tear rolled down his cheek. He sat and took his place next to Sammy. "Yes, my boy,” his voice quivered as he wrapped his arm around his shoulder, “Let Old Shep sleep now. Dessert will have to wait for today.” Filled with the innocence of childhood, Sammy’s young face turned to look up at his father, "I always loved Old Shep better than any dessert anyway," he said smiling.

The bees still buzzed about but the butterflies seemed to linger a little longer on this day as they visited the flowers that covered the meadows where Tommy and Sammy sat. His mind began to wander and he swore he could hear the echoes of his own voice saying once again, "Hey Shep, you want to go to our secret place?” as he looked down at the old dog whose head rested on his son's lap. A gentle breeze caressed their cheeks as a single leaf zigzagged its way from the old oak tree floating to its final resting place where Old Shep's heart used to beat.


My rating: children and dogs raised together: (4)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I was reading my morning news on Yahoo this morning which I do everyday. With my coffee in my hand, I sat back in my chair catching up with life around the world. I read about how some say the economy is starting to change for the better. They came to this conclusion because some women are going back to the finer departments stores and buying clothes once again. I continue reading to the next article telling me why a well known actress known for her “skinny frame” put on some extra pounds for a role in her newest movie. Then I read about the biggest myths about allergies for this time of year. All of these are just some simple human interest stories. Then I see the black and white blurry picture of the next article. The title draws my attention…..”Outrage at good Samaritan’s fate.” So I click on the link to read the story.

It seems that a homeless man came to the defense of a woman who was having a fight with her boyfriend. The fight turned physical and that’s when this man tried to help the woman. Remember the saying: “No good deed goes unpunished?” Well this would definitely fit in that category! In trying to help this woman, this poor man’s life was sacrificed. That’s horrible enough! But what’s even more horrible is the fact that this poor man lie bleeding to death (he was stabbed) and at least seven people walked past him not offering any help whatsoever! This was all caught on a surveillance camera. Some people walked by. Others stopped to gawk. There was even one who lifted the poor man exposing the blood on the sidewalk underneath him. Then he walked away.

Finally emergency workers arrived ONE HOUR later! By that time it was too late. The man was already dead! How does something like this happen? Are we too afraid to become involved? A dog would do better than that!

If a dog were to see someone lying on the street, what do you think he would do? His first reaction would be to go and investigate the person lying there. He’d probably sniff at him several times. Perhaps he’d even be whimpering. He could even start to bark seeing the lifeless figure just lying there. But rest assured he’d bring attention to the man. He most definitely would not just walk on by like it’s not his problem. Is the dog more sensitive and caring than the human? Has the human with his superior intelligence lost his sense of kindness for his fellow man? Is this another example where man can learn from the dog who has less intelligence but seemingly more capacity for love and if nothing else, just being inquisitive enough to find out why the heck is that man lying on the street bleeding to death to begin with?

We are a troubled nation that’s for sure because we find ourselves at the mercy of an economic strangulation that many of us didn’t see coming. And for those that did, didn’t prepare for it. With people losing their homes and their jobs, more and more dogs and cats are turned into shelters. Some are left behind, abandoned to wander and fend for themselves. Most of them won’t make it. New pups are born on cold cement floors in an already over crowed shelter. Senior dogs are left to wonder when their master will come to claim them once again. Their warm beds have now been replaced with floors that are too cold and hard for their arthritic bodies.

For some, they can’t take care of the animals that they once loved and raised to play with their kids. If we are forced to make hard decisions about what becomes of our animals because feeding little Johnny is more important than feeding “Shep”, then a dying man lying on a lonely dark street becomes no more important than the stray dog lying there that was just hit by a car. “It’s not my problem” many will say. Just turn your head the other way. You got enough problems.

As for the woman that was being attacked by her boyfriend, so far both are missing. Neither one of them has come forward. Well of course the boyfriend wouldn’t. He’s probably the one that stabbed the homeless man. How is the woman feeling knowing that someone’s life was taken so she wouldn’t be slapped around by a brute of a boyfriend I wonder? Will she come forward? I’m willing to bet she won’t!

In the article that I read, someone asked, “Is anybody human anymore?” If we become void of emotions, then we’re just existing and then I wonder……existing for what? If you are a "baby boomer" like I am, you'll probably remember the words to a popular song. It went something like this......"Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand. Put a little love in your heart." The song title was, "Put a little love in your heart." Boy could we use that today. In fact everyday!

This happened a week ago. Life goes on and people walk back on that same street with the fading red stain where the dying man laid several nights ago. People walk hand in hand chatting and talking about the new sale that Macy’s has this coming week end. Someone else talks about a birthday dinner they plan on spending at the newest restaurant down the end of the street. Mr. Kramer is walking his dog like he usually does. The dog stops and smells the pavement and let’s out a little cry where the already forgotten man spent his last moments. The homeless man doesn’t have to worry anymore where he is going to sleep tonight. Someone took care of that problem for him!

My rating: the heart of the dog: (4), the heart of SOME people: (1)

From the book: "THE HIDDEN POWER OF KINDNESS: A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK FOR SOULS WHO DARE TO TRANSFORM THE WORLD, ONE DEED AT A TIME." Supremely practical. If you would like to improve your relations with others and so lead a more happy and peaceful life, get this book and read it carefully. This wonderful book increases our insights into the wonders of the message that speaks so powerfully to us: 'Love is patient, love is kind .

Monday, April 26, 2010


Barbara J. Galasso

No matter how nice a breeding looks on paper, the results may not be what the dogs pedigrees dictates that it should be.

No matter how great the two animals are that you breed together, a champion it does not guarantee.

You can breed a decent male to a decent female, and end up with superstar offspring.

Most litters produce more pet puppies than show puppies, and all puppies regardless of quality belong in the best homes we as breeders can find for them.

Sometimes in this sport of dog shows, it's not always what you know, but who you know.

No matter how long you've been in this breed, some people never have a champion.

No matter how short of a time you've been in this breed, some people have more
champions than those who have been in it longer and never had one.

No matter how many litters you’ve bred and how successful those litters were, most breeders are hoping that the next litter is even better.

When you show under a certain judge one day and he puts your dog up for Winners, he's your hero, when you show under him another time, and you're dead last, he's a bum and a crook.

Long gone are the days that we used to see 20 -25 dogs in the Open class at a regional Specialty, now we're lucky if you see this many in the Open class at the National Specialty level.

Dog folks can be a fickle group of people, nice to your face, and later that same day making AT&T wealthy by tying up the telephone lines with the latest gossip that includes your name.

Dog shows can bring out the best in the worst of people, and can also bring out the worst in the best of people.

Many long standing friendships have been lost, because they have allowed the dogs to come between them.

If you tell a competitive, jealous “friend” about the new exciting puppy that you have high hopes for, you can be guaranteed she’ll tell you about her “better” superstar puppy that she’s waiting to bring out to the shows.

You tell a fellow breeder you’re thinking of breeding to the young well bred dog that lives in the next town. You are read the riot act and told about every possible genetic fault that you can have in your puppies. You breed to him anyway and have no problems. The other breeder breeds to Grand Victor “Joe Blow” and the puppies are a genetic nightmare.

No matter which dog food you feed, which grooming table you use, which coat conditioner you have been successful using, someone is always waiting to tell you they have a better way of doing it.

No matter how long a breeder has been breeding dogs, if someone asks what problems their lines carry, they will tell you their lines don't carry any major faults, just maybe a long coat once in awhile.

Sometimes judges are chosen strictly because of their "name" and popularity, not necessarily because they are the best judge to do the job.

The same people in the breed that were nice twenty years ago are still nice today. The same people that were unfriendly, quarrelsome and not so nice twenty years ago still display their not so nice ways today.

Honesty among breeders about their animal’s good qualities as well as the faults of their bloodlines will insure for years to come the betterment of the health of our beloved breed.

There is more competition going on outside the ring then inside of it!

The German Shepherd Dog is the best breed on the planet. They could surely teach their owners a thing or two about how to get along in this world.

This I know for sure, no matter how long we've been in this magnificent breed and think we know everything there is to know, one day we get a "wake up call", get knocked down a couple of pegs and realize living with the German Shepherd Dog was never really about us teaching them, as it was about them teaching us!

My rating: healthy competition is good: (4)

Presenting the Great, New Third Edition of the Most Respected Book in Print on the German Shepherd in the English Language. From the time Captain Max von Stephanitz undertook the development of the modern German Shepherd just before the turn of the 20th Century to the present, dog enthusiasts have been quick to recognize the versatility, trainability, and desirability of the universally beloved Shepherd and have taken the breed to their collective heart.

Since 1974 The German Shepherd Today has been recognized as the most definitive source of information for all who glory in von Stephanitz's living legacy. Now, in its third magnificent edition, this great masterwork is more meaningful than ever to the unique fellowship that has the German Shepherd as its common bond. Here you can explore the German Shepherd's roots and the work of the visionaries that launched his fortunes. There is vital information all owners, new or old, need to make the most of sharing their lives with these remarkable dogs. For whatever reason you have been drawn to the German Shepherd and for whatever information needs you have regarding the breed and your relationship to it, you will find all you seek-and more-in the new third edition of The German Shepherd Today. And with the text Shepherd fans recommend to each other, is a large gallery of beautiful photos, enlightening diagrams, pedigrees, and statistics you will find as absorbing as the dog you call your own. The best one remains on top.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Wow.....this is my 200th. article that I've written for this blog. I never believed that I could find that many things to write about.

Barbara J. Galasso

So I tell this guy the other day that I own a few German Shepherd Dogs. He says to me, “Hey, what do you want to own those kinds of dogs for? They’re very vicious.” To which I reply, “No they’re very protective.”

“Oh yeah, well I hear that they turn on their masters. Who wants to raise a dog that’s going to turn on you?” he shouts back at me. “The only one they turn on, I tell him, are those trying to hurt his master. And believe me, that’s when you’d be glad that you owned this dog!”

“Well I don’t care what you say. I wouldn’t want them around my kids. I’d never trust them.” I tell him “A more loyal and protective companion you won’t find for your children. There’s no better guardian to watch over them.”

“I hear that they’re wild and uncontrollable” he continues. I tell him that they need to be trained and given something to do because of their high intelligence. Looking over at his children punching and kicking one another, I tell him, “No sir, he won’t be any more wild and uncontrollable than your darling little angels.”

He ignores me and continues his rambling. “Why just look out how crippled they are in the rear” he almost shouts at me. Those back legs are all messed up. Who wants a dog that looks like that?” “Oh probably all those people who own them and made them the second most popular and beloved breed in the country,” I smugly reply back to him.

“And what about all the hair that they leave all over the house?” he questions me. “Well you got me on that one,” I tell him honestly. “They constantly shed so you will have to brush his coat often and vacuum the house at least every other day”, I tell him hoping this will finally shut him up.

“I just got one more thing to say to you my friend,” the man continues. Friend, he called me friend? I’m wondering when that took place? “Those German Shepherds have got wolf in their blood! Just look at those teeth!” he shouts at me. “Will this never end with this guy?” I ask myself. And when I can no longer tolerate one more second of his stupidity, I turn and look him straight in the eye and tell him, “Yeah, and the better to eat you with MY FRIEND!”

I love stories about animals because I feel we can learn so much from them. We are truly blessed when we are owned by a dog. Check this book out if you are looking for a "laugh out loud" enjoyable read.

"THE DIARY OF JINKY: DOG OF A HOLLYWOOD WIFE"...........Jinky's "mom" and "dad" might be complainers, but Jinky is just happy to be alive. He enjoys every minute and he can't understand why his lucky, pampered Hollywood parents and their show business friends are such miserable whiners. After all, Jinky's life started badly:
"My life began in a cage in San Pedro, California. Some creepy guy bought me for his stupid wife and she didn't want me. . . . One night, the guy took me to the pound. They threw me into a cold, wet crate and slammed the gate. . . . I was scheduled to be 'put down' or, as I like to say, murdered. But I got lucky."
Now Jinky lives in a beautiful house in the Hollywood Hills. He has a pool and a Jacuzzi and sports cars and a fat blond terrier girlfriend named Finley who loves to lick his ears. Jinky went from an unloved and abandoned pet to sleeping in bed with his mom (a former Pet herself, in Penthouse¿she looks good) and eating delicious food off his dad's plate (his mom cooks good, too). Jinky knows what's important in life, and he wishes his mom and dad could stop worrying about their status in Hollywood and enjoy life as much as he does. He can't understand why show business people are always so unhappy, especially the funny ones. Every "pitch" meeting Jinky overhears, every Hollywood dinner he eavesdrops on, every Hollywood barbecue, lunch, and casual encounter in coffee shops is another chance for these people to bitch and moan about "the business." But Jinky's "tail" is not just about his hilariously self-obsessed parents and their friends. And his message is not just that happiness is not about how much we have, but how we love. His is a tale about how hope, perseverance, and even one small act of kindness can change a life.

My rating: "The Diary of Jinky": (4), dog stories: (4), the week-ends here: (4)

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I have been to many breeders kennels. Some of them have a protective cover on top of their kennel runs and others do not. I always preferred to have my dog’s kennel runs covered but finding the ideal type to do it with was always the problem. For my kennel run now, I used a tarp like kennel cover that came with a metal frame and it was pitched in the center so if it rained the water went down on the outside of the kennel. (See the above picture to see what it looked like).  However, three winters ago we had one of those “final reminders” that it’s still winter a couple of weeks before it was actually spring. We had one of those this year as well. It couldn’t be a small little snow storm. Nope… had to be the biggest snow storm of the season! The snow was heavy and it pounded our area as most of us slept in the comforts of our warm, toasty bed. The next morning when I let my house dog out, she and I were greeted with a kennel roof totally destroyed with the metal frames twisted every which way. My dog had to gingerly go around it to go potty. What fun that was trying to unhook the rest of it and get it out of the run. So it hasn’t been replaced yet.

It seems there are a few ways that one can cover their dogs’ kennels. Many companies sell the tarp like structure that I used. I really did like it for the couple of years that I had it. It was attractive and it served the purpose for what I bought it for…..shade and protection from the elements. The reason that I thought it was attractive is that it had the pitched roof and it made it look like it was part of the house off the deck where I have my dog’s run.

“Options Plus” sells the Universal modular hard roofing system. Here’s the description from their website. Heavy-duty polycarbonate, twice as thick as standard PVC roof panels from box stores • 26" x 65" panels, with pre-installed, easy-attach roofing straps (lays approx. 2' x 5' when overlapped). Will handle snow loads up to 20 lbs./sq.ft. • Opaque gray. • UV treated for long-lasting durability. • Includes galvanized steel frame - either flat or sloped models. • Easy to assemble, no drilling, with adjustable upright leveling piping (sloped roof only). • Roof panels have overlap for minimization of leaking and added strength. • Create multiple setups, runs and configurations easily.

Years ago I used to use that kind of roof over my kennels. I like that it says it can handle the snow well because of my bad experience with the softer roof already. Also this roof seems easy to put together. Some of these come in flat roof or slope roof systems.

Another kennel cover is the Kennel Sun Block Top which is a woven UV treated polypropylene top with reinforced brass grommets. The sun block top provides shade to help keep your pet cooler and reduces the temperature inside the dog kennel by up to 15°. This doesn’t have a pitched roof but stretches across the top of the dog kennel.

I often wondered how one can prevent the sun or elements from coming into the kennel from the side. I always found that no matter what type of roof I used, the rain or snow still came into the kneel from the side. I searched the internet for something like this but all I found was this one pictured here that Amazon sells. From the description: K9 Kennel 8 Foot Canvas Side Cover: Made of heavy duty weather proof canvas, it protects your pet from wind, snow, sun and rain, installs in just seconds with easy slide over form fitting pocket, D rings at bottom for easy attachment, and comes in colorful cameo pattern only.

I did find that some of the fence companies sells privacy panels for their fencing, so perhaps they sell if for their kennels as well. Most of this stuff is custom made by the company for your specific needs. So ask if they can make these privacy panels for your dog runs if that is something you would like to have.

So having had both the tarp like kennel tops and the hard kennel tops, I would say that the tarp one is the most affordable (as long as mother nature doesn't fool around with it)and the hard top is the most durable.

So do you cover your dog’s kennels or not?

My rating: pitched tarp like roofs: (3), hard covered roofs: (4)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I just love the springtime……the warm temperatures caressing my face, the fresh air playing with my hair, the mild breezes with their fragrant scents stimulating my nostrils, music coming from cars with windows rolled open, dog shows with excited exhibitors, family gatherings, lifted spirits and oh yes, all those awful BUGS crawling on my skin and biting me and my dogs! Can I tell you how much I hate bugs? I can hear some of you saying, “But those bugs have a purpose here on earth.” Well I say, “Take your “purpose” someplace else because you sure are UGLY! Go do your thing on the plants and trees and stay the heck away from me and my dogs!” But alas, those bugs don’t any attention to me because sooner or later they find themselves coming back to me and my “fur kids!” For being so tiny, they are certainly stubborn and persistent critters. Looks like it’s me against them in a never ending battle of their love for me and my dogs and my hatred for them! So if I have to share the planet with them, they need to keep their sorry little butts off of me and my dogs and stay outside and not trespass into my house.

It seems like the insects of the world are living longer life’s than ever before. They seem to endure weather changes so much more now than I’ve ever seen. I had a “resident” spider that lived in between the window and screen all through the winter and up until this spring. How this little creature lived through the cold brutal temperatures of the winter, I do not know. I really don’t care either as long as it remained outside.

I’m going to list some products made for controlling the bug population on and in our dogs as well as ourselves and our property. For the last couple of days I’ve been talking on several of the lists that I belong to about a product called Diatomaceous Earth. Someone brought up the subject on an All-Breed list that I belong to and I took it to my German Shepherd lists to get their feedback about this product. I have yet to use it, but now that I’ve gathered all the information that I want about it, I will place an order and start my dogs on it as well. If I get brave, I might even take it myself as it can be used by humans as well as dogs. VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE…….MAKE SURE THE PRODUCT IS HUMAN FOOD GRADE!! DON’T USE IT ON OR IN YOUR DOGS IF IT ISN’T! It seems this product helps take care of fleas and ticks when used on the dog’s skin and coat. Be careful not to breathe in the powder when you use it. Some people recommend using gloves when using it on the dogs. Also make sure the dogs don’t breathe in a lot of the dust as well. Use it gently. When using the product to add to your dog’s food, this is also supposed to help with internal worms. It can be used in and around the house. Everyone that I got feedback from about Diatomaceous Earth LOVED it! Product description: GreenSense Diatomaceous Earth - This fossilized skeletons of tiny aquatic organisms. When untreated, the razor sharp edges of this mined product scratch the exoskeletons of hard bodied insects, making them susceptible to fatal attack from natural organisms in the soil.

On this same All-Breed list that I belong to, I read that a few people swear by a product called “Flea Treats” which I had never heard of before. This is what the description says about this product……….Flea Treats keep fleas (and ticks!) off your pets. They're free of hormones and insecticides. They're reasonably priced. They're guaranteed. They're safe, healthy treats, too! You might be wondering how we do that. Read on.... FLEA TREATS are a B vitamin complex, specially formulated for dogs and cats. They're flavored with real liver--your pet will love them.

A product that I use for myself to keep the little “buggers” away is Avon Skin So Soft. I mentioned this product already recently, but am doing so again for this article. Anytime I take the dogs for a walk or when I’m cleaning up the dog runs, I make sure I spray myself with this product. I love it! I’ve even sprayed it on the dogs as well. From the description: Repels mosquitoes that may transmit West Nile Virus for 8 hours. Provides effective protection against gnats, no-seeums, sand flies and biting midges. DEET-free, dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic. 2-in-1 protection.

Some people swear by brewers yeast and garlic. Others don’t believe it does anything at all. Years ago I used to use this when I fed my dogs and looking back I must say I never had a flea problem. From the products description: Four Paws Brewers Yeast with Garlic tablets contains an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and natural proteins to promote healthy coats and control shedding. This formula also contains garlic which is known to be a natural, superb deterrent for fleas.

Another product to help protect you and your dogs against bugs is a bug zapper for the yard. I used to have one hanging from a big old tree not too far away from my dog runs. The bugs are attracted to the light. They fly in to it and “ZAP” they fly no more! Here is the product description: High Intensity Black Light Bug Killer – Bk15d 15 Watt Electric Bug Killer - Flowtron's advanced electronic insect control system can eliminate thousands of flying insect pests while providing an environmentally-friendly way of eliminating these pests from your outdoor living areas. Built into the Flowtron insect abatement system is a high-intensity ultraviolet light which can lure these light-sensitive insects through an outer protective enclosure to an electrostatically-charged killing grid, where they are quickly and safely eliminated without the use of any toxic chemicals. Dead insects simply fall to the ground and become clean feed for birds and animals. You will also find that the Flowtron's exclusive lantern styling enhances any backyard setting and also doubles as a security light. These practical and environmentally friendly bug zappers are maintenance free and provide an economical way to rid your yard of those troublesome insect pests.

I have really tried to stay away from the poisons that I have used in the past like the spot on flea and tick preventatives that are so popular with most dog owners. They’re expensive and I’m paying all of this money to the companies to poison my dogs??? There are alternatives out there and I’m on a quest to find as many of them as I can while protecting my dogs from all the bugs that have a right to be on this planet too………..only not on me and my dogs please!

My ratings: natural non-poisonous flea & ticks products: (4), poisonous flea & tick products: (1)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Owning dogs can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences for many people. Some couldn’t envision their life without a dog or two to share it with. Many feel that their life wouldn’t be the same without them. For most people, a dog is considered their pet or best friend. The dog sleeps in the bed with them. They go for rides in the car with them and some even take them on vacation. These people truly consider their dog a part of the family.

Then there are those “show dog” people. And yes, most of them are cut from a different cloth than the “average” person is. They live, breathe, walk and talk dogs! Yes, believe it or not, there is such a creature! They come from all different economic and social backgrounds. But regardless of their “walk in life” they all share the same common interest and connection and that is their love for the dog.

Breeding and showing dogs for the most part is considered a hobby. There are a few breeders that make their living or supplement their income by raising dogs. But whether or not it’s a hobby or an income for some, these people chose to become involved with dogs. It was their decision to do so. But how does this decision affect the rest of the family and especially the children?

Hopefully if you are married or have a partner in your life that the two of you enjoy owning dogs. You both work towards a common goal and both contribute to the upkeep of the animals in your care. Being with someone who does not share your interest in dogs can be very challenging to the relationship. If you have a tolerant partner who is not jealous and demanding of your time, then the relationship can work out fine. Raising animals is a full time job and being involved with someone who doesn’t understand this can cause many long term problems. I already wrote about the problems that can arise when two people don’t share the same interests in another article that you can find in the archives section of this blog. For this article, I wanted to address the children in the family.

When one thinks a child with a dog, a picture might come up in your mind of a boy with his dog fishing in the neighborhood pond. Or you might recall the old Lassie stories on television that many of us seen growing up as children ourselves. Dogs and children……is there not a better way to grow up? Most children that are raised with dogs usually love them. It teaches them to respect life in all its forms. It teaches them responsibility. It teaches them to give and receive love. I think it can be a beautiful experience for both the child and the dog as well. But what about when it isn’t a beautiful experience?

We must never lose sight of the fact that this is OUR hobby that we chose to become involved with. The children didn’t choose this hobby. The child will hopefully love what we do and want to participate in it, but that’s not always the case. As the children grow older they will have their own activities and hobbies that they may want to enjoy. When children are forced to do something, we all know how much they can rebel against it. When a parent makes the child take care of the animals and do all the work involved with their upkeep, the child can grow resentful towards the dogs. I know people that make their children feed, water, clean the dog’s runs, groom them, etc. Now this is fine if the children enjoy being involved with the upkeep and care of the animals. However, when the parent forces the child to do all the work everyday, well you can see why the child can become bitter. And yes, this happens. The child is being used to do all the work that the adult doesn’t want to do. I once knew of a child that is now an adult that wouldn’t step foot on a show ground anymore because she was dragged from one show to the next and forced to do all the work that her parents should have been doing.

On the other hand, if the child is raised with lots of love and attention and he looks at the dogs as part of his family, he too will love animals. Teaching and giving child chores is fine, but having him do the adults work because you don’t want to, is not. When a child is being used to take care of the animals and doing the work that the adult should be doing (because it is HIS hobby), then the child can grow bitter and when he reaches adulthood the relationship remains strained. I have seen it time and time again. Then the parent complains when the child is an adult that they are being very “testy” with them. He’s an adult now and can now let you know his displeasure with having to be forced to do something that should have been your responsibility in the first place. Like someone told me once…..”She wanted them; let her take care of them!” OUCH!

Children should be able to pursue their own interests and participate in after school activities with their friends. They should have time for themselves to develop into the fine young people that we hope that they will be. If loving and wanting dogs or animals in their life is something that they chose to do then it was their choice to do so.

Children and dogs should be a wonderful combination and in most cases it is. Many times the child wants to help with the care of the dog or dogs. This is fine and welcomed by most parents. This is because the parents honored their child’s own individuality and included him in the family’s activities with or without dogs. The wise parent knows that not every child will want to participate in the sport of dogs. This should be fine. Your child will love you for it. But when the child is made into a slave to do all the work taking care of our canine friends, then a happy household will not be realized at that address.

My rating: dogs and children: (4), children doing most of the work: (1)

From the book "LIVING WITH KIDS AND DOGS....WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND"......At last! A kids-and-dogs book for parents written by someone who "gets it." This is a wonderful book. Useful, useful, useful information—all the main points in an extremely easy-to-read style. As a trainer and a mom, Colleen sees the full picture." — Dr. Ian Dunbar Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind by Colleen Pelar, CPDT, covers more than introducing a baby to the family dog. It has chapters devoted to each stage of a child’s life with parental pointers for setting their family up for success while raising kids and dogs together. Parenting books say control your dog; dog-training books say control your kids. The reality is far more complex and goes way beyond placing blame on either children or dogs for being who they are. Living with Kids & Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind provides busy parents with simple, realistic advice to help ensure that the relationship between their kids and their dog is safe and enjoyable for all. You will learn how to • Help your child and dog develop a strong relationship, built on trust and cooperation • Set your family up for success with a minimum of effort • Recognize canine stress signals and know when your dog is getting worried about normal kid activity • Identify serious behavior problems before someone gets hurt • Provide specific help for managing the interactions with dogs through each stage of your kids’ lives from infancy through the teen years • Prevent your child from becoming part of a growing statistic—children who have been bitten by a dog.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Well spring has certainly sprung if the dog shows are any indication of it! People are posting their show wins all over the e-mail lists. After a long hard and very cold winter, going to dog shows again seems like the perfect remedy to boost ones belief that the sun and warm weather is finally here to stay.

Many dogs were fattened up over the winter for lack of exercise and conditioning. Many didn’t have the same attention paid to their coats either. So because the dog needs to get ready for the shows, this gives their owners a reason to get up off the sofa and get their dogs as well as themselves in “show dog conditioning!” For the dogs, they need to be competitive in the show ring and have good endurance. For the owner, they need to be able to even make it around the outside of the ring to double handle their new “stars!”

So you feed and supplement your dog with the best food and coat conditioners on the market. Now you need to make them shine in the ring by presenting them in “runway” ready fashion. If you want to make them stand out from the competition, they need to have that “look at me” advantage. Besides having an awesome representative of the breed, he must look the part of a star. This is where good grooming comes in handy. Bathing, spraying and blow drying a dog’s coat will help give him that little something extra.

Having a good hair dryer is a must to make the German Shepherd Dog’s coat look polished and groomed. One dryer that seems to be reasonable yet has the force needed to properly take care of this breed’s coat is the Metro Vacuum AFTD-2 Air Force Commander Two Speed 1.7-Peak HP Dryer. It’s reasonably priced as well. Here is the information that I found about it.

From the Manufacturer
You want more out of your dryer than just a lot of hot air. You want a dryer that saves you time, saves you work and leaves your dogs looking beautiful. That's the "grooming advantage" Metro® Air Force® Commanders® give you. No other compact dryer combines such features as air flow control, air concentrator, air flare tool, a groomer rake and much more. That's why Metro® Air Force® Commanders® actually cut drying time by two thirds. You could, in fact buy a more expensive dryer but it wouldn't give you the grooming advantage. Because 60 years of Metro design and manufacturing experience give you high performance without high prices. So give yourself the "grooming advantage", for about half of what you would expect to pay for dryers of this quality. Metro® Air Force® Commander® is a powerful floor/table dryer with two-speed performance, allowing you to groom large or small breeds with one dryer. This lightweight dryer is so powerful you will forget it's portable. Features include an easy change filter and dual mounted legs that allow the Commander® to be used vertically or horizontally. You can groom more dogs in less time ... make more money. You'll particularly like the job it does on heavy coated breeds. The Commander® dries their hair without drying their coats. It's ideal for the professional in the shop or on house calls. Once you use an Air Force® Commander® you'll say, "How did I ever get by without it?" Optional Cage Dryer Kit includes: 2 handle holders, 2 1/2 x 3" cage attachment w/ "S" hooks
Product Description
Includes: two speeds 1.7 peak H.P. floor/table power unit, plus all the features of the Model FTD-1.

As an added bonus, this product includes FREE SUPER SAVE SHIPPING. Check item for details.

I’m including the review of this next product as well because of the testimonials it received, however some cautioned it being too loud and others said it was a powerful tool and shouldn’t be used by children to groom the dog. This one also has FREE SUPER SAVE SHIPPING as well. So check it out and see what you think.

Metro Vacuum AFTD-3 Air Force Commander 4.0-Peak HP Pet Dryer:

From the Manufacturer
Metro Air Force Commander is a powerful floor/table dryer with two-speed performance, allowing you to groom large or small breeds with one dryer. This lightweight dryer is so powerful you will forget it's portable. Features include an easy change filter and dual mounted legs that allow the Commander® to be used vertically or horizontally. You can groom more dogs in less time ... make more money. You'll particularly like the job it does on heavy coated breeds. The Commander® dries their hair without drying their coats. It's ideal for the professional in the shop or on house calls. Once you use an Air Force® Commander® you'll say, "How did I ever get by without it?" Includes: two speeds 4 peak H.P. floor/table power unit, plus all the features of the Model FTD-1.

So if your dog is “ready for his close up” these dryers can help him achieve his best look yet! Good luck to everyone that is showing their dogs this season!

My rating: Price: (4), Positive reviews on product: (4)

Friday, April 16, 2010


To all the dogs I’ve loved before……..who traveled in and out my door………

From my very first scruffy looking, long haired black and silver coated pup to my top producing champion ROM bitch to my “wild child” and my girl who likes being pregnant so much that even when she’s not, she thinks she is! From my piano playing dog to my vacuum attacking “watch dog”…….they’ve all contributed to my life with dogs. Then there’s the 105 lb. male who scaled his six foot kennel to be with his half sister in her run, to the “escape artist”, who led half my kennel down the street for a leisurely walk on a spring like day. Yes sir, these dogs certainly did add some excitement to my otherwise “normal” existence. That cut on my finger, that bruise on my knee, that scar on my arm and the scars on my heart…….all reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Photographs of my dogs encircled in ordinary looking black frames line the walls of my family room as constant reminders of a happy and rewarding past. Maryland, Georgia, New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey are just some of the places we visited to take some of those blue ribbons home. Tolls paid, hotels stayed in, jets flown across the miles, handler’s bonuses, pictures taken…….all reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Stud dog services, bitches bred, puppies born, some live, some die, some stay, and some go bye bye. Good breeding, bad breeding, superstars, mediocre stock, ears up, ears down, full mouth, and missing teeth too……not in my line……must be your line. Good temperament, bad temperament, American lines, German lines, Champion titles, Obedience titles, ROM’s, some make it, some don’t, some are capable, and some aren’t. It matters not, because all were special and unique in their own way and they were part of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Some dogs long gone still come back to pay me a visit every now and then in my dreams. How I wish they would do that more often. They tease me for just a little while, running through my dreams and I never can reach out to touch them long enough because I awaken and then they are gone. It’s unfair. They make me long for them and I carry that dream with me throughout the day. Longing but never having…..they play with me just long enough to remind me of how much I truly miss them because they were a part of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Empty dog bowls, worn out collars and leashes, dried up dog bones, and ragged stuffed toys lay on scratched up floors and discolored carpets. A smudge still left on a window, a lone dog hair scattered here and there…..all reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Smart dogs, scheming dogs, spoiled dogs, lazy dogs, my “heart dogs”…..they all had different personalities and temperaments. Black and tan dogs, sable dogs, and black dogs too, coated dogs, light dogs, dark dogs, they all had different colored coats, but they were part of all the dogs that I’ve loved before.

You came in that door over there with your muddy paw prints to decorate my floor. You went out that same door everyday to bark a “good morning” to everyone in the neighborhood whether they were up or not. You were a fence runner. You were a fence climber. You liked to dig holes in my yard and you liked to dig up my flower beds. You were a dirt eater and then you were a “poop” eater. Never could cure you of that habit. You never seemed to mind. You didn’t think you needed a cure. The good, the bad and the ugly; just reminders of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Puppy dog shots and dog worming too. Oh don’t forget about the rabies shot or Uncle Sam will come and get you. Heart worm medicine, flea and tick medicine as well. Pay lots of dollars to poison my dog but it’s all done to ensure his good health. Holistic dog food, natural ones too, or if you like the stores own genetic ones are available as well. No soy, no wheat, no additives but how about some “road kill” just to add a little spice? More health problems, more illnesses, and more vet bills. Just a part of the joy of dog ownership and all the dogs I’ve loved before.

Lessons learned. Lessons taught. Some learned quickly. Others presented more of a challenge. Some were eager to please. Others looked to be pleased. Some loved rides in the car. Others decorated the back seat as a reminder of how much they didn’t like rides in the car. Beds shared. Sofa’s as well. Pillow stealer. Food grubber. Scratches on my back door. Toilet bowl drinker. Cold, wet noses. Kisses on my cheek. Bad breath in my face. Neighbors refuse to come for coffee because the dogs are in the house. Aunt Mildred called and said she won’t be coming for Thanksgiving dinner this year because of the stray dog hair she found in her mashed potatoes last year. Oh yes, all parts of all the dogs I’ve loved before.

I loved you best, than you next, and you were always a little pain in the neck. You listened to me, and you didn’t. You wanted your own way and most of the time you got it. You on the other hand took whatever you could get. You were first. You were alpha. You were the underdog. You were the pick of the litter. You were the runt. But no matter what pecking order you fell in, you were all a part of the dogs I loved before.

So now I live with some new and different dogs that may be a combination of any of the different personalities that I once shared my life with. Will I love them the same? Will I love them more? I don’t know yet, until they too are no longer here and become just a memory and a part of all the dogs I’ve loved before!

Photo albums and show dog catalogs lay sprawled on my coffee table. Some of you are on those pages as a testament to the life you once lived. Life ended too quickly, gone too fast. I can’t keep up. Here one day, gone the next. I can no longer wrap my arms around you, but you’ve wrapped your love around my heart. You learned from me. I learned from you. I gave you my love. You gave me yours. But I’m afraid I’ve fallen short because you loved without question. But I on the other hand questioned how I could love a dog so gosh darn much! Just another lesson to be learned from all the dogs I’ve loved before!

My rating: living with dogs: (4)

From the book: THE OTHER END OF THE LEASH; WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO AROUND DOGS.....It matters greatly that people who love dogs understand enough about them to provide a good environment, writes McConnell (Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage Your Multi-dog Household) in her thoughtful exposition on improving human-canine communication. An animal behaviorist and adjunct professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, McConnell offers sound advice for dog owners: Pay attention to your own behavior. Believe me, your dog is. Drawing on anecdotes from her professional practice (she specializes in canine behavior problems), research into the work of other dog trainers and personal experiences with her beloved Border collies, the author explains how a dog might be misinterpreting signals from its owner. For example, although humans express affection through hugs, a dog may feel threatened by them. McConnell also provides tips on how to play safely with dogs (she recommends games of fetch rather than rough-and-tumble wrestling) and how to get them to do what you want (the best way to get a dog to stop demanding attention is simply to break off visual contact). She has harsh words for trainers who tell owners to establish dominance over dogs by behaving aggressively to them when they are young, and also for owners of puppy mills. These dog factories, she says, create damaged animals and unsuitable pets. This is a helpful guide for pet owners by a specialist who clearly loves her work.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


There are a gazillion articles written about the proper care of the senior dog. Heck, I even wrote one or two of them myself. But have you ever given thought to how you are taking care of yourself as you are aging? How much more difficult it is for some us to get around like we used to. Many of us are finding it harder and harder to take care of a dog the size of a German Shepherd no less a kennel full of them. If you have been afforded good health and are in good shape then you’re probably not feeling too much different than when you were in your twenties?! But what about those that no longer feel like they did when they were twenty years old? This is a strong and demanding breed. Some of their natures are easy to get along with, some are much more challenging.

With the economy being in the sad shape that it is in (although some reports say it’s starting to swing the other way), many people have had to make compromises in the way that they live. No where is this more true than for the senior citizen. Social security is not keeping up with the standard of living and for the elderly; they have had to make some very hard decisions. And sometimes those decisions have centered on their dogs. Who goes? Who stays? Unfortunately, these are the times that we find a lot of our beloved German Shepherd Dogs in shelters. How did this happen? When push comes to shove, the dog may find that he is the one that is shoved out the door. These poor people can barely feed themselves no less their dogs. Many tears have been shed making some life changing decisions but some think they have no other choice.

With age, comes the hard demands put on our bodies. We have aches and pains where we didn’t even know that they existed before. Arthritis sets in and just doing ones daily chores can be an effort no less taking care of large dogs like this breed. No matter how much pain you’re experiencing, if you live with dogs, they still need to be taken care of. Some may force themselves to get out of bed in the morning, shuffling across the room in their slippers, but the demands of dog ownership doesn’t stop because “we don’t feel like it” today! There may come a time that you will be forced to look for other arrangements and find “forever” homes for some or all of your dogs. This is something that you should discuss with your family BEFORE you get too ill to do so. See if someone is willing to take care of your dogs when you are no longer able to do it yourself. If you have the funds, try putting aside some money for the care of your dogs if you have to place them so they are not more of a burden for their new owners.

On the positive side, having a dog can be very beneficial for the senior citizen. Many a time the dog can add years of enjoyment to his owner. If the owner is able to do it, taking the dog for a short walk every day can improve the owners own life because he’s got a good reason now to exercise. It’s good for the owner and it’s good for the dog. Having a dog many times can give the senior a reason to get up out of bed in the morning. It gives him one more reason to live! Having a dog has helped many a lonely older person and has brought joy and happiness to their lives again.

We owe it to ourselves to take good care of the physical and emotional demands our body presents to us. It can ensure that we live longer and can enjoy our family and friends as well as our beloved dogs for many more years to come. Having a dog means we get to go out in the fresh air more by playing and exercising with our canine friends. We're having fun. We laugh more. We're participating in life. Having a dog in your life can add years to it.

It is very important if an older person owns a German Shepherd that that dog is well trained. This is not the home for a dog that is out of control or wild and jumping all over the owner and everything else that he wants to. A dog with good steady nerves and character is the one that is most complimentary to the senior person. In fact this type of dog is good for all age groups!

Feeding, grooming, and veterinarian care is expensive for the average person no less those that are living on a limited income. This is probably some of the most worrisome areas of concern for the older person. Some have lost their homes and incomes and have had to adjust their lifestyles. If they own a dog, the dog’s way of life and what he has become accustomed to has changed as well. If the human has had to sacrifice his lifestyle so will the dog.

Nothing is sadder to see than a dog that has lived his life and who is now a senior himself sacrificed to a shelter. This is no way for a devoted companion animal to end his life. It is unfortunately a sad reality in today’s world. The aging human worrying about how she is going to make it, lets her life long companion go to a place of misery and confusion. Most of the time the aging dog is passed over for adoption for the cute little playful puppy and he finds his life ending on a very sad note indeed! His owner doesn’t mean for their old dog’s life to end this way, but they feel their have no other option! Every effort should be made by the owner to find a suitable, loving home for the old dog to live the remainder of his life in some sort of comfort. Sometimes this may be impossible for the owner to do because they are alone and frightened. They panic and make decisions that may not be in the best interest for their dog. This is not the time for them to be making these kinds of decisions when they're in panic mode! The best thing for them to do if they don’t have family or friends to take the dog is to call an animal rescue and ask them for help. Putting the senior dog in a shelter almost always guarantees their death sentence! They’re too old and very few people want an old dog!

So yes as we age, the process of it can prove very challenging, but add on the responsibility of taking care of a dog or dogs and it can sometimes prove overwhelming for some. Be prepared. Get your house in order and look for provisions for your animals BEFORE they are actually needed. It can prevent a lot of heartache later on……especially for the dog! He’s our responsibility no matter how old we get! We invited him into our lives and just because our old body doesn’t “feel like it” anymore we can’t just discard them like the morning trash! Their old lives are no less worthy than our old lives! The blush of youth may have faded long ago from our faces, but as long as we have the wisdom of our years of living on this earth, we must use that wisdom to protect both ourselves and the dogs that have ensured our safety and provided love when no one else did. For all the years that he has had our backs, he needs us now for more than just scratching his. Betrayal now should never be an option!

My rating: taking care of ones own health: (4), making provisions for our dogs: (4)

From the book: AGING OUTRAGEOUSLY WELL: HOW TO SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE AND HAVE FUN DOING IT....Aging Outrageously Well, How To Save Your Own Life and Have Fun Doing It, is a lively guidebook to healthy, spirited longevity. Filled with inspirational anecdotes, the latest anti-aging study results, and entertaining biographical sketches of fifty real-life senior athletes, this book is unique. Not just another chronicle of health advice, this book will motivate readers to make the most of each day and to follow along in the footsteps of the trailblazers who appear in its pages. A fun read for any age, it will appeal to the seventy-six million baby-boomers who, reaching sixty, are searching for advice and motivation to carry them forward to a healthy longevity.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Barbara J. Galasso

1) When you get up in the morning, you…..
a) Take care of the dogs first and you and the family last.
b) Take care of the family and yourself first and the dog last.
c) Neither. You stay in bed till 10:00 o’clock, get up and drink 3 cups of coffee and
then with one eye open and the other still shut, you let them out of their crates.

2) When you buy dog food for your dog…..
a) You don’t buy dog food. You cook for him.
b) You read labels and make sure it’s premium grade or all natural.
c) You feel the cheapest brand will do.

3) When you buy supplements for your dog….
a) You make sure it’s holistic and human grade.
b) You make sure it’s a good value for your money and will still do the job.
c) What supplements? His no-brand dog food is good enough!

4) When you buy toys for your dog….
a) You make sure he has one to chew on, one to tug with, one to catch with, etc.
b) You make sure he’s entertained with one or two toys.
c) His “toy” is trying to bite the tail from the dog that’s in the next run.

5) When you exercise your dog…..
a) You road work him with a car or bike a few times a week.
b) You take him for a walk down the street or in the woods.
c) Exercise? Hell, let him fence run the kennels. You’re too busy watching the

6) When you groom your dog….
a) You’ve bought a special tub, a special table, hair blower, clippers, shampoos, etc.
b) He goes in to the bath tub, using the same shampoo & conditioner that you do.
c) Grooming? (Scratch, scratch *&%)….What’s that?

7) When you show your dog….
a) You hire the best handler, pay him top prices & bonus’s…nothing is too good for
your dog!
b) You hire a good handler and even a young up and coming one.
c) You ask the kid down the street who mows your lawn if he’s free this week-end.

8) The kind of car you drive to a dog show in is….
a) The top of the line van or motor home. You believe in traveling in style.
b) A nice SUV or mini-van that’s comfortable for you and your dog.
c) What ever happens to be running at the time and has gas in it that’s sitting in your

9) When you breed your bitch….
a) You choose the top stud dog that money can buy. You do expensive testing, pay
airfare to get her to him & back and set up a custom made whelping box.
b) You choose a stud that you can afford hopefully in your area.
c) You breed her to her brother in the next run.

10) When you sell your puppies you….
a) Advertise them in a top publication and tell all your breeder friends about them.
b) You advertise them in the local paper as well as on your website.
c) You hang a sign out on the front tree…”Puppies for sale, highest bidder takes them

Mostly (a’s) – You live, breathe, talk, walk, and dream dogs. You’re a true dog person. You can’t believe there’s any other kind of person. Perhaps that’s why you don’t have too much in common with most people unless they’re show dog people. You adore your dogs and your dogs adore you. They come first and they are very spoiled and you wouldn’t have it any other way. Your home, your life and your social circle centers around your dogs. Guess one could say, “You’ve gone to the dogs.”

Mostly (b’s) – You truly love your dogs and realize they have a place in your life, but they aren’t the only thing that matters. They are included in your life, but they are not your whole life. (See example in the mostly a’s section above). You enjoy them and want the best for them, and you make sure you give them an excellent quality of life, but they do not come before yours and your families needs. (Again see the mostly a’s section above). You take your wins graciously, and accept your losses as it being part of the game. Life is good for you and your dogs because you have struck a harmonious balance.

Mostly (c’s) – Not one of your dogs is more important to you than your own needs. Nothing will prevent you from watching your soap opera’s, and no dog is going to use your “Evening in Paris" cologne to smell better than you do. Your dogs live around your schedule even if that means he went to bed at 8:00 the previous evening and will have to wait until 10:00 the next morning to be let out. You don’t exercise him because you’re talking on the telephone all day when your soaps are not on. You wonder why he’s not doing more winning in the show ring than he does. You’re pis--- off at the judge for not putting him up, you’re cranky with the kid who mows your lawn for not winning with him and you’re jealous of the ones who are winning. Your1988 Dodge pick-up breaks down on the way home from the show and you vow never to go to another one again……..and you curse to yourself wondering why Mostly a’s and Mostly b’s avoid having anything to do with you.

My rating: Mostly a’s or b’s: (4), mostly c’s: (1)


From the book: DOG OWNER'S HOME VETERINARY HANDBOOK...Open the front cover and the first two pages you see contain the Index of Signs and Symptoms, from Abdomen (painful, swollen, distended, and tucked up) to Weight loss, Wheezing, and Whining (continual). There's a comprehensive index in back, of course, running the gamut from Abortion to Zinc-Responsive Dermatosis, which is all very useful, but when your pooch is in pain, it's great to be able to turn, with the minimum of folderol, to the page that says to relax, it's nothing a bit of extra grooming won't fix, or alternatively to hightail it over to the vet hospital. It's a wonderful reference for any dog owner, with chapters on emergencies (such as burns, dehydration, and poisoning), as well as worms, infectious diseases, skin care, and canine eyes, ears, and nose. There are chapters on the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems, the nervous, musculoskeletal, and urinary systems, plus dog sex, whelping, puppy pediatrics, geriatrics, and chapters on cancers and medications. In short, it covers every health dimension a dog owner might want to know more about, identifies the possible causes, helps you determine the severity of the condition, and indicates what treatments or actions to take to best insure your dog's good health.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The German Shepherd Dog Club of America describes the top line of the German Shepherd Dog as the withers being higher than and sloping into the level back. The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short. It furthers says that the dog is longer than tall, with the most desirable proportion as 10 to 8 ½. The desirable long proportion is not derived from a long back, but from overall length with relations to height, which is achieved by length of forequarter and length of withers and hindquarter, viewed from the side.

Now that the spring is here the dog shows are well under way. What I have been seeing a lot of with the dogs that are being shown now is bad backs or top lines. There are different types of backs that a dog can have, not all of them being desirable. The back should be like a bridge that holds the front and rear of the dog together. With a dog that has a good strong back and one that is proportioned correctly, you won’t see any unnecessary motion to his top line.

What has been disturbing to me is that I’m seeing a lot of overly short backs. If you look at some of the pictures of the dogs that are in motion that you see on some of the show photographers websites, this is very evident. A dog that is too short in back will over drive with his hindquarter forcing is top line to buckle up. He has no place to go with his rear. It’s almost as if he has to get out of his own way. It’s unsightly. His front never truly opens up because he has to compensate for a hard driving rear with a distorted top line and there is never a smooth coordinated motion. It’s as if the dog is crabbing. In order for the dog to place his rear feet on the ground, he has to set them to the side of his body so he doesn’t get in the way of his front legs. It looks like he’s going to run himself down. I’ve been seeing this time and time again…..the backs are getting too short!

For every dog that has a short back, there are those that have too much length to their backs. They can look like a freight train for all that length that they have.

Another top line problem is the dippy back. Without proper grooming if you were to look at a dog with this type of top line you would actually see that this type of dog would perhaps have a dip behind his withers. A good handler can normally groom up the hair where there is a dip in the top line, but you can’t cover it up when the dog is in motion.

Then there are those dogs that have a roach to their top line. Some complain that a lot of the German dogs have this type of top line. Instead of a nice smooth straight back, you’ll see a very obvious roach to this dog’s top line.

Then there are those dogs that have a sag to their back or what some call a sway back. Literally their backs don’t just dip in one place, the whole top line sags. This is definitely not a strong top line and looks very unappealing.

There’s another type of dog that some people call a wet dog. What they mean is that the top line is rolling. He’s "loosey, goosey" with too much movement over the top line. Sometimes this is due to lack of exercise and proper muscle tone. It’s alright to see this type of top line on a puppy that is going through his growing stages especially a larger puppy, but not on an adult dog.

There are also those dogs that are low in the withers. Again, a handler can groom this type of dog over the withers to make him look higher withered when the dog is stacked or posed. However, watch this dog in motion. He runs into his shoulders in a downhill type of motion. It’s very unattractive and it throws the whole top line of the dog off.

A dog with a beautiful top line will have a strong back without a dip or a roach. He will be higher at the wither but not overly so causing him to have a straight shoulder. His hindquarter with get well under his body and follow through transmitting his rear drive to a front that opens up presenting a coordinated smooth motion when viewed from the side. It would seem this type of dog could have a glass of water put on his back and when in motion the water would never move!

It is wonderful that at many of the National Specialty shows that the show ring has a white background or wall so the judge and spectators can see the top lines of the dogs in motion. Take a look at the pictures that the show photographers have of dogs in motion on their websites. Granted some of these dogs are pulling too hard and that will distort any dog’s top line. However, when you see top line problems in many of the pictures, it makes one wonder, how much of it is due to the dog pulling too much and how much is it due to the improper structure of the dog.

My rating: strong top lines: (4), problem top lines: (1)

Monday, April 12, 2010


Today I’m going to share a little bit of different things with you. As you know, I’ve told you before; I belong to different dog lists or groups that send me all sorts of interesting material to write about. I also get a newsletter every day from a veterinarian on different ways to treat our pets at home. Many of these are holistic approaches to the care of our pets. Hopefully some of these things you can use or try or avoid.

It is spring time and along with the beauty of the season comes the “uglies” as well. The “uglies” that I’m talking about are bugs!! I’m talking about the ones that crawl on your dogs (ticks and fleas) and the ones that fly onto your dogs (flies, gnats, mosquitoes). I USED to use the spot on treatments like Frontline for my dogs to help with fleas and ticks. But because of all the poisons that are in these products, I’ve decided to stop using them all together. Not to mention the expense of using something that is putting poison into my dog’s system. So last year and now again this year, I’m using Lavender essential oil. I put a few drops in a spray bottle with water and everyday I spray my dogs with it. I spray their ears, their body, their bellies, their tails, their legs and feet. You must be careful however, not to get this in their eyes. Knock on wood, last year, I didn’t find any ticks on my dogs. I hope that this will be the same this year as well. I prefer to treat my dogs with natural products rather than poisons and it’s a whole lot cheaper as well.

Another product that I’ve used for the last few years and I love is the “Avon Skin So Soft” line. This product has been around for years and it comes in sprays and bath oils. Some people bathe their dog in the bath oil and others just wipe them down with it. I’ve never tried the bath oil, but I have used the spray successfully. The spray that I’ve used is “Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Pump Spray. For some reason, I couldn’t get this last year, so I used the Lavender Essential Oils instead. This year I will keep both of them handy. I like to spray myself with the Avon product when I take the dogs for a walk.

On to another subject that I found very disturbing. From another list that I belong to, a writer sent an e-mail warning about giving dog’s stuffed toys that are made for children. It seems that a dog died from eating stuffing in a human grade toy. The stuffing inside the toy had fire retardant all through it. When it got into the dogs digestive system, it dissolved and turned into a gooey mess and wasn’t digestible. Unfortunately the poor dog died and when an autopsy was performed they found black gook in the dog’s digestive system. I was horrified because I buy my dog’s stuffed toys from the Good Will stores all the time because it’s a whole lot cheaper to do so. After reading about this terrible tragedy, I’m rethinking about where to get my dog’s toys from.
So I encourage people to get toys made for dogs - it will just might save the dog (and money, too) in the long run. You would think if it is a problem for our dogs, what about children if they decided to eat this????

Here’s another disturbing matter. From this same dog list that sent me the e-mail about the stuffed toy someone wrote about dogs and them chewing on anything that has strings attached to it. This could mean any of those toys that have string hanging from it like those tug of war types of toys. Or it can be like in this case of the lady who wrote about it, a dog unraveling the carpet and eating the strings. It seems like when the dog went to relieve himself, the owner saw him straining and saw blood coming out of the dog. She rushed her dog to the vet who performed emergency surgery and her dog had to have at least a quarter of her intestines removed. It seems that the string wrapped itself around the dog’s intestines and stopped the blood flow. That part of the intestines dies and so can the dog. Her vet told her NEVER pull anything out of the dog as you don’t know what it is wrapped around and by pulling it, you can end up tightening the knot. The dog can die a terrible death.

Some ingredients you don’t want to see in your dog’s food are three common poisons that increase the shelf life of the dog food but not necessarily the life of your dog. Those additives are: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and Ethoxyquin (EPA regulated pesticide). A lot of time Ethoxyquin is used for fish products. I wrote an article about Ethoxyquin last year on this blog. You can check it out in the achieve section of this blog. It’s interesting to note that all of these substances are banned from human food because some of them promote kidney disease, stomach tumors, etc. If it’s not good for us, then why should we be feeding it to our dogs? Dogs get cancer (one of the top killers of dogs) just like we do and now research believes some of it it’s due to the food that we feed them and all the additives put into those foods. Become a label reader! Know what you’re putting inside your dog.

Speaking of labels, here are some ingredients to look for in your dogs food and those to avoid. Know which are good proteins and which ones that is not. The good proteins are: muscle meats, eggs and organ meats. The ones to stay away from are: wheat, corn and barley. The dog food manufacturers must have at least 9% protein in their food. This is called the Guaranteed Analysis. Otherwise, they are required to print on the label that the food is not nutritionally adequate. To cut corners, the manufacturers use wheat, corn and barley which are vegetable proteins to meet the Guaranteed Analysis requirement which keeps their profits high by not using the more expensive meats.

So there you have just a few interesting bits and pieces that I wanted to share with you today some of which can save your dog’s life.

My rating: knowing what ingredients are in the products that you use: (4), products that contain poison: (1)