Saturday, March 31, 2012
Well today is the day; the last day for the beach in Old Greenwich CT. Being that we are no longer in CT it is not a concern for me but there are many people who are concerned. It is a sad day for all the people and dogs that love the beach, I for one loved every second on Todd's point. Both the dogs and I met many nice people and dogs there and I had the chance to get some great shooting in.
As I've said many times before Elsa is a high energy girl but a twenty minute full out rip on the beach was all she needed to put some of that energy to rest for the day. We often hit the beach well before 7:00 am and the best days were when it was misting or raining. Not too many came out on bad weather days allowing us much of the beach all to ourselves. So today is the last day, dogs are not even allowed to set foot through the gate of the park. I don't understand why they cannot create time allowances for the dogs to have access to the beach. Why not make clear times that they can and cannot use the beach?
Here in SoCal there are only a few off leash beaches but many more that you can walk on, on leash. There are seasonal access rules but they are not as limiting. As of the long weekend in May you can only use the beach before 8:00am and after 6:00pm, which I intend to do once we get to that date. Often it is too hot for a beach walk in the summer anyway so early morning or evening definitely works.
Why not allow dogs in Old Greenwich, Connecticut the use of the beach say even before 8:00 am during the weekdays and 7:00 on the weekends? That would allow die hard beach loving dogs the chance to play and splash on the water? It really makes no sense why they could not do this, the beach is small enough to enforce this rule with one person in charge. I'm sure that anyone who loves and respects the use of the beach would comply, right?
So for those of you spending your last chance day on the beach with your pooch, enjoy. It's a long wait until December when you can set paw on the beach once again. Thank you Old Greenwich, we savored every minute that we were on the beach during our short stay.
Posted by Sherri at 8:02 AM
Friday, March 30, 2012
I woke up in the middle of the night finding myself wedged between two poodles so tightly that I couldn't budge. Prime real estate seems to be in the crook behind my knees and spooning position. So there I was trying to fall back asleep as my leg started to cramp. I'd waken up earlier with Luke draped across my legs, it wasn't comfortable in the least but with 6 days of travel behind him he needed sleep. I slowly drifted off again.
My dogs like to be close; Luke has always needed to be close but not as close as Elsa likes to be. Luke will follow me from bed to bed just to stay close. He will lay on the a bed in the living room but if I move to the other side of the room to be on the computer he must come across and lay on the computer dog bed. While Elsa on the other hand has to be touching you if she laying down beside you. She if you sit and allow her to sit with you she will likely be on you more than just beside.
As I lay there contemplating if I could indeed fall back asleep in this cramped position I decided not. I was really uncomfortable, after 6 days of sitting on my butt it is pretty sore so no I could not make this wedged position work. I announced "I have to move" as I tried to wriggle my way out. Finally with enough leg movement, Luke finally moved over slightly allowing me to break free.
Ahhh the love of dogs, no need for breathing room.
Posted by Sherri at 6:30 AM
Thursday, March 29, 2012
We're heading out on our last leg of the trip. From Connecticut to Southern California. I cannot
believe that I have made this trip twice in 3 1/2 months, is that a record or something maybe? Not looking to do it anytime again soon.
The dogs are doing great; it is bitter sweet, coming home but with only two dogs. Life deals us twists and turns and we must adjust.
"Life is an evolution of oneself," keep on truck'n. :)
Posted by Sherri at 5:53 AM
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I was cleaning a room that I regularly groom the dogs in the other day and found a big clump of Tilley's hair. I was so happy, I grabbed it immediately and put it up where it would be safe. I hadn't remembered clipping her before the incident but seeing the hair I quickly remembered lying her down on the table and trimming her face. She was far too beautiful to have a big fur face like Luke. So she had one last grooming before she left us.
I have a lock of hair of several of my dogs and now Tilley as well. I am not one to keep ashes and being that I do not want to be buried in the ground I don't bury my dogs either. I like to remember them as they were. After death is a very personal thing and this is how I remember; in my heart and a lock of hair. I don't know how many times I have picked up that tiny brown piece of hair in my jewelry box and sat thinking about Clyde. Of course my dogs are always on my mind and in my heart but that tiny bit of fur makes me stop and remember. Tilley's gray hair that is now tucked away safely brought tears; it's still too early to just have memories. But the tears will soon pass as all the others have. She was an amazing dog; no two are ever alike but she was one in a million.
I didn't save a lock of hair from Jessie but I know that for as long as I live there will be hair. She was a crazy shedding dog and I am constantly finding it everywhere. When I do find the inch long white hairs it makes me smile; what a girl. They may be gone but they are still very much here with me in my daily thoughts. A lock of hair or hairs found in the most remote spots in my house create a moment for a personal one on one.
Posted by Sherri at 3:28 AM
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
To breed or not to breed; that is the question for many canine guardians. Over the years I have pulled out my soapbox more than a dozen times; climbed upon it, gave my schpeel and put it away for the next. "We think it would be great to have a puppy from her," "we'd like the kids to see puppies being born," "my neighbor wants a puppy." These are some of what I've heard over the years which then causes me to pull out the box. Breeding is serious business; or at least it should be. With so many unwanted dogs in this world we surely don't need anymore.
I understand that you love your dog; what I wouldn't give to have a couple of Luke's running around. BUT; and this is a big BUT,there is alot to consider before you take the plunge. Alot more than those cute little puppies to think about. The list of considerations should at least encompass these:
1. Is your dog structurally sound? By this I mean is everything where it should be? Or is their structure compromised in some way? I've met many dogs who should not be bred simply by structure alone. And this has nothing to do with a beauty pageant; structure is about correct physical elements in place creating ease of movement.
2. Is there temperament stellar? Would anyone want to live with your dog? Is she friendly and steady in temperament? Or would you be passing on traits that are not so desirable. You need to look deeper and past a pretty face. Temperament is far too often skipped over in lieu of a great body.
3. Are you willing to pay the hundreds into the thousand dollars to have health testing done? Afterall you owe it to the perspective puppy owners to give them the healthiest puppy you can.
4. There is always the risk of complications; c-section, eclampsia (or milk fever), compromised puppies or even death. And there is always the risk of more serious complications; even death for the dam. Are you willing to lose your dog just to have puppies?
5. Do you have the time, money and patience to raise a litter of puppies until they are at least 8 weeks old?
6. Do you have a list of people who will take these puppies? Often breeders are left with one or more puppies; especially in this economy. Can you keep them until you find a home down the road?
7. Are you willing to take a puppy back into your home for any reason? Things happen in life; often things that were unforseen. Many puppies need to come back; and if you are not willing to take them back they may end up in a shelter.
8. Are you willing to take the time and energy to learn about proper nutrition and health in puppies, pregnant dogs and nursing dogs?
9. Vet bills can easily reach into the thousands; you got that covered?
I could go on for a longtime but you get the drift. Someday I would like to have a litter of puppies; this will only happen if I have an amazing specimen with an wonderful temperament. And even then; I don't know if I could ever hand them over to people, I may just end up with a poodle emporium of my very own.
So if you are dying for a new puppy; skip the breeding idea and find a good ethical breeder. Or visit the local shelter or rescue group. Your dog will definitely thank you for this one.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Common sense - sound and prudent judgement based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.
Many folks do not have common sense; I've met quite a few. Just the other day at the beach I met one. We head out early, it was foggy, chilly and glorious. We'd gone early enough that there were only a couple of other people with their dogs there. We ran into a guy with a spoodle (spaniel/poodle mix) and a woman with a labradoodle (labrador/poodle mix.) Both were very friendly and they had fun running around.
Then Luke spotted a dog down the beach, it was so foggy that I could not make it out perfectly. It looked like a German Shephard and it looked like it was remaining very close by the owner. The owner was not walking down the beach; she was just sort of standing there. I called to Luke so that he would not go that way; but then of course Elsa spotted the dog and was gone in a flash. It didn't look like a warm and fuzzy situation to run into, even from what I could see through the dense fog.
The woman with the doodle said to me "that's an old dog." I then remembered seeing this woman and her dog several times on the beach and wondered why she had the dog her dog there. This is an off leash beach, not a place for dogs that cannot interact with others. If you are afraid of your dog taking off then yes they could have a leash on as long as it can interact with others. Being that it is an off leash beach, other dogs are going to approach. So there I was trying to get Elsa back when I heard the lady yell at Elsa; she probably deserved it. But her old dog did not deserve being harassed by a puppy. I head there way and as I approached I could see better just how old the dog was, why would she have it on an off leash beach and risk it?
I remember quite a few years ago making the conscious decision not to bring Tilley on group walks anymore. Our poodle group got together often and at the initial greeting ritual got pretty crazy, all of the dogs were so excited to see each other that there was bounding, jumping and spinning going on. This was far too dangerous for Tilley as she had gotten frail and had vestibular disease. So not wanting her to suffer from an unintentional impact we skipped the group walks from then on. It's just common sense.
I called out to Elsa one more time and she came running, thankfully. We went off the other way to toss the ball a few more times and then head out as the fog was lifting. The woman was still there with her German Shepherd, they'd walked all of a few feet. This dog was definitely old and frail and deserved more from it's owner.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
After a very long and controversial, yep controversial conversation yesterday about food bowl guarding and how to best fix it I got my inspiration for today's blog. Even though food bowl guarding is very unwanted and can be a dangerous behavior, it is amazingly common. Dogs don't share; let me just get that out there first. Oh yes there are those who don't give a hoot about anything; anyone can take anything from them and they don't care. I'm not talking about those guys. Even the most meek dog who has very little confidence will try guarding once in a while.
But to guard; one must possess desire.
Desire: to wish or long for; crave; want.
Occasionally a guarding behavior will become habitual; meaning that even if a dog doesn't really want a certain item, guarding has become the go to behavior for everything. Nipping a guarding behavior in the bud is essential; but it takes smarts, human smarts. Many people just take the item away; perhaps they smack or yell at the dog and then take it away. Sometimes people do an alpha roll or scruff a dog when they guard their food bowl. All of these mentioned reactions are not great ideas; in fact they will often make the problem worse. What is going on in a dog's head when they food bowl growl is that they want to make sure that no one is going to take their stuff. So if you take it away from them everytime they growl...........................yep; you give them cause to guard their food. Ponder on that for a bit.
Even if you have never touched their stuff; your dog may think that you want it. And in your dog's eyes it may be a very valuable commodity. Essentially what you have to do is change the way your dog feels about you or others around their bowl. Through association you are going to recondition their automatic response. So what would the best association be when someone approaches your bowl? Probably that they are bringing some delicious food to you!!!!!!! Bingo. Depending on the degree of food bowl guarding will be where you start and how quickly you progress. It begins with hand feeding which is extremely important. Get rid of the bowl and take control of the food allotment.
Once you have a dog that is comfortable with being hand fed their meal; you can re-introduce the bowl but don't feed in it yet, just have it hang around near the hand feeding. Then you start dropping piece at a time into the bowl and leave your hand in there occasionally adding really yummy stuff like cheese, chicken or liver. Something obviously different from whatever they are eating. Then you add more food at a time and drop the yummy stuff in while you sit and hold the bowl. You work up to feeding a whole meal and dropping yummy stuff into the bowl.
I suggest dropping good food into all dog bowls while they are eating. Even if they do not have an issue with guarding their bowl; this makes a humans presence around the bowl a great thing. As well as picking the bowl up mid meal every once in a while. Add some delicious tidbits, stir it around and give it back better than when you took it away. Don't take it for long, just a couple of seconds. Do not take the bowl until your dogs is looking at you with excitement when you approach the bowl.
I still push my hand into my dog's bowl and drop in something yummy. Elsa was a frantic eater so it was very important to implement this strategy immediately. She's never flinches now at my approach, she still eats fast but isn't a guarder. It keeps even the slightest idea that someone is going to "take it" completely away. If you have a new puppy, start this right away and you won't ever run into "food bowl guarding."
Posted by Sherri at 3:03 AM
Saturday, March 24, 2012
This is not a widely known thing yet; dogs don't need shots every year. The more people I talk to the more I realize that this is not common knowledge. There are so many things that veterinarian offices will push on you that the average person just puts their trust in the vet and says okay. I'm am here to tell you that it is not okay. Let's start with the annuals, the parvo, distemper, rabies etc.
This is Dr. Jean Dodds vaccine protocol and one that I follow.
As far as I am concerned there are far too many booster shots given to dogs. When was the last time you had a booster? That's right, way back when you were a kid. Now don't get me wrong; I'm not bad mouthing vaccines, they are responsible for getting rid of many horrible diseases. But the old saying "more is better" does not apply here; to vaccines. And that sense of urgency you get when the yearly vaccination time comes around, forget about it. There is not a time bomb ticking away and the second that date comes and goes your dog is going to die of a contagious disease.
Titers are a wonderful thing; you can see just how well those vaccines are still working.
And just what happens to a dogs body when they receive too many vaccines? This is a good read.
It is extremely important that very young puppies not be given shots too early. Unfortunately many rescue and shelter groups double up on vaccinations which can cause severe damage days or years later. A dogs body can only handle so many vaccinations at one time and some of the cocktails that they are given are downright dangerous. Please research the subject; there is a wealth of information on the web about over vaccinating.
Okay let's move onto some of the other dangerous things. Flea and parasite treatments or shots.
There are the topical treatments where we put toxic chemicals onto our dogs. These topical treatments are made to stay on; you can barely wash them off so when and if there is a reaction it is nearly impossible to get it off. There are many many stories of this exact thing happening on the net. The warning on the box says to keep children away from it; hmmmmm and yet we put it right onto our dogs skin. That should be a red flag right there.
Then there is the pill, the one that puts the substance right into our dogs digestive system. It is powerful enough to work from the inside out; ever think about that? How toxic a substance has it got to be to kill ticks and fleas on the outer skin? Ivermectin (Ivomec®, Heartgard®)is the most commonly used and comes in the conconction to kill all. This product was originally created for heartworms; a parasite spread via mosquitos. I use to live where there were enough mosquitos in the summer to literally drag you off but then in Southern California I'd seen probably 3 in almost 13 years. I did not treat my dogs for heartworms.
A bath will kill most fleas so regular bathing will keep them in check; yes it is work but keep your dog chemical free is worth it. Got a pool? Let your dogs swim, and kill those buggers. As for ticks, you gotta pick them off. If your dog has been in a tick environment you must check them for ticks and remove them; I do it all the time. I use hemostats but you can use tweezers or these I have not used this device so don't know if they actually work or not.
Last summer was a bad season for kennel cough; I knew several people who's dog got it at the dogpark. Yes even when a dog has a been vaccinated against it with Bordatella they risk being infected because of the number of strains that can be out there. So for me I would rather steer clear of the dog park in the summer months and forgo the Bordatella shot in lieu of management. I don't walk around bushes in the hot months when ticks are bad and I watch for the first signs of fleas and get bathing. And I run titer tests on my dogs; they have all had numerous bouts of shots and now years later are still getting great immunity results on their titers.
Just something to ponder folks.
Posted by Sherri at 3:00 AM
Friday, March 23, 2012
The Fisher Cat; is actually a member of the weasel family and not a cat at all. Their numbers went so low that I'd never even heard of them until several years ago from my family back in Ottawa. I grew up in the country and lived mostly in the country until we moved to California and I'd never seen or heard of them. Several years ago my brother mentioned to me that they were becoming a problem, preying on cats and small dogs in the area.
The Fisher Cat, is what we heard here in Connecticut. It was hunted for its gorgeous think brown coat so they were rarely seen but now have made a come back and their numbers are growing. They are carnivores and mostly eat small mammals like rabbits, squirrels and cats. They have been known to take and eat small dogs so this is why I have written about them today. In California it was the Coyote that we needed to be watchful for; if you have small dogs you must take great care to protect them from predators like this is you live around them.
So there you have it; a creepy weasel like creature that makes a horrendous screeching sound in the middle of the night. The Fisher Cat.
Posted by Sherri at 3:26 AM
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tuesday I got to the beach and it was amazingly foggy, I had chose not to bring my camera and was kicking myself for the decision. So I decided that if it was going to be foggy again on Wednesday that I'd go back, bring the dogs and my camera. I was thrilled when I checked the weather forecast and saw a dense fog warning. Yes!!!!!
After a couple of tosses of the ball my guys met some friends to play with. A six month old beautiful male black Labrador and a four year old hunting English Springer Spaniel.
He most definitely kept Elsa on her toes, he beat her to the ball many times.
She beat him to the ball too.
I love watching dogs just have fun.
This boy was as intense as Elsa is about the ball.
An 8 month old and a 6 month old, fun.
For puppies there is nothing better than being chased.
How much fun is Elsa having?
Elsa being a sore loser.
This beautiful Flat-coated Retriever came by and I got some quick shots.
Shaking off the salt water.
As I was heading for the Xterra I turned around to have one last look. I dropped the chuck-it and captured this beautiful photo of the Labrador puppy and his Mom walking down the beach.
To see more non dog related fog shots visit my Sherri Regalbuto Photography FB page
Posted by Sherri at 6:18 PM
Consequence - the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier.
You've called and called and called to no avail; your dog is not coming, face it. So what do you do if you call and they ignore?
The old way
The old way use to be to hook them up onto a long leash, call them and if they didn't come you angrily reeled them in like a big fish. The dog on the end of the leash usually put up a fight; of course they did you were pulling them closer and closer to an angry owner. What we were teaching our dogs was to run the other way when they heard the word "come."
The new way
This blog is very timely as Elsa got her first real "come consequence" last night. Sometimes consequences are not easily applied, depending on your location, the chance of being able to catch up with your dog etc etc. So last night she was outside in the fenced yard and I called her. She didn't come right away which is not usual although she has brushed me off a couple of times lately. So I thought to myself "a perfect time for some consequence." I puffed up and head out veering to the right side of her I got behind and clapped my hands angrily and told her to get going. She was quite surprised by this and ran for the door; looking over her shoulder I then told her that this was good.
She had been sniffing something out in the yard and pretty much ignored me, she had better things to do or so she thought. As you all know I am a positive trainer but that does not mean that I let my dogs get away with murder. Some trainers say that you should never do anything but wait and reward; not me. Some things are important to enforce and coming is one of those things. If a wolf pup was told to come and didn't; they would quickly understand by consequence that it is easier and wiser to come when called.
What we are teaching our dogs when we give consequence is that if you do not come; I am coming to get you. It becomes a choice for them and they usually learn quickly what the best choice is. My "come" consequence involves going around behind the dog and herding them back to wherever I called them from. You must judge how puffed up you can get per your own dog, your relationship and their reaction to your approach. Some dogs can handle and big bluster, some need a more gentler approach. You must master the approach and herd otherwise you may up just chasing your dog away further. This is why the fenced area was a good place to give Elsa her first real consequence for not coming. This will most definitely not be the last.
Posted by Sherri at 3:49 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I've got some crazies that I need to get rid of. These crazies have been caused by too much free time. Can you guess who has the crazies? You're right, Elsa. What are the crazies and what are we going to do about them? Our crazies are seeing other dogs and feeling as though one should be able to freely interact. This is the fallout of too much beach time.
There have been other factors in creating these crazies as well. There is the tick factor, trying to steer clear of the wretched little beasts keeps me heading for the beach. Running the dogs anywhere near the woods is just not going to happen. We tried it here in the dead of winter and ended up with over 15 ticks. There are very few open parks here which at this time of year have even fewer people at them. It is very important even at eight months of age that we see lots of other people, dogs and places. Our home is quiet, crazy quiet; it is situated on 2 acres in the middle of the woods so during the day its just us three so we need to get out where there is action and people.
Socialization is so very important, if you forgo this essential step you'll pay for it later. So as much as I am fueling the crazies I have opted to hang at the beach with the other dogs. I did dog parks when Luke was young even though I am not a big dog park fan and rarely frequent them except to photograph other dogs. When Luke was young we were able to hang out on the small dog side which was great. Too many big dogs charging around can scare a young dog doing more damage than good. It can also be dangerous if a big buff boxer or lab runs head on into a young leggy poodle as well; I don't know how many people I know that have been taken out by boxers or labs.
Today we will hit the beach again; having no other "safe" area to run free or interact with other dogs it is the only option in this area. Don't get me wrong, I love the beach and it is a beautiful one at that. But, this is more than likely going to be one of our last trips. The beach officially closes for dogs on March 31 and does not open again until December 1st, that's a long time. It will then be leash time and learning to walk past other dogs without having full on access to brawl and chase.
She will learn, she is a smart girl but alas she has an abundance of energy. Chasing other dogs is a great way to shed some of the excess. So along with our leash walks there will be much retrieving at home and we will sit down and decide what couple of sports we are going to dabble in.
Cut off day for the crazies is just around the corner.
Posted by Sherri at 3:53 AM
Monday, March 19, 2012
In the dog world the words submissive and dominant are commonly used to describe dogs. The true use of the words should be used to describe desired rank position, some push while others do not. Although as we humans tend to do we jump on the band wagon and spout words where we think they belong but in actuality they do not. Submissive and dominant are two of those words that are waaaaaayyyyyyyyyy over used.
Dogs are funny, they are simple yet complicated. Of course there are dogs who are even simpler or more complicated much like us. There is a lot that goes into a personality of a dog, it is not a simple black or white. Temperament and personality are different; although it is often cloudy they are in fact different. I am speaking about personality now and as far as personality goes there are as many different ones in dogs as there are in humans.
With our newest edition we tend to pick out traits that our previous dogs have shown. Even having standard poodles for almost 30 years, no two have been alike. Although there have been similarities; retrieving is a big one but drive is where it differs. Watching Elsa chase a butterfly around the backyard yesterday made me think that we should have named her Bubbles. She has a very bubbly type personality, definitely a cup half full type of gal. But there is just as much drive and determination in her. There are times when her drive takes over and she has nothing except work on her mind.
Describing our dogs can take a while if we do not just bunch them into the submissive/dominant categories. These terms are also better left with the true definition of temperament. Environmental stimulation plays a huge role on personality, it can be bent and molded. Life is an evolution of ones self; this is includes our dogs. Day to day can make or break a dog. I have often said that Luke may have been completely ruined in the hands of a harsh trainer. He has been from day one a very pushy guy; he was also very reactive and a handful to mold. Now at 11.5 years old he is very confident, not pushy, a lover, mushy to the tenth degree, a push over and is seldom prone to react suddenly.
Tilley was like having two dogs in one. One was the meek and mild, very mannerly girl who lived in the house. Pull out a ball or frisbee and she turned into a tough as nails, obsessively driven retriever. I could yell at her in this mode and she would not be fazed. But if I even raised my voice while she was in the meek mode she would melt. She was devoted beyond belief and truly only cared about her family. She gave of herself to some but typically saved herself for us. She was an amazing dog.
Clyde, the boy who came before Luke was what I would call a much more simple dog. He had no huge agendas; he too was a lover like Luke but was not nearly as demonstrative as Luke is. He was probably the poodle who lacked the most smarts in all of our poodles but was a joy to live with. He was easy going and like most of my poodles, a constant shadow. I miss him dearly.
No two are ever alike; of course there are traits that run in breeds which is why we like particular breeds or mixes of said breeds. But if you look deeper, they are all their own dog.
Posted by Sherri at 4:04 AM
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Last night before bed my husband was petting Luke; he was telling me how many times he wakes up in the night to pet him or just rub a paw. Watching Luke lay there with his little paw covering his face which seemed to have a smile on it made me think that it truly is the little things. We take so much joy from the little things in life and one of those small things is seeing Luke enjoying his/our bed. I don't know how many times a day I say "how cute is he?" Even at 11.5 years old he is still absolutely adorable to me.
Luke is at the moment sound asleep on the end of my bed. He is twitching and watching him makes me happy. It is the little things in life that are so important; those small and almost insignificant moments that could pass us by if you don't take note.
Watching Elsa as she lays silently on the back of the couch watching a rabbit munch on grass outside makes me happy. Seeing her learn about things that we take for granted in life makes me smile, it's the little things. Moments shared between my two dogs are constant, often small but mean so much. They are constantly touching; not so much the doing of Luke it is mostly Elsa that desires the touch. Without knowing that it is happening; Luke is enjoying it just as much as she does.
When my son gets up in the morning or comes home from work Elsa charges him in a full face grin; that in itself could leave anyone smiling. Even from behind the scene I can see the joy that each share in a small moment. As the dogs compete for the end of day greeting from Dad; joy is shared all around. Even though I am not involved in the greeting I share in the joy.
Watching Elsa try to ignore my breakfast sandwich that is sitting on my bed beside me as I blog makes me smile as she conquers the urge to simply grab and chomp it down.
Take note of the little things; if you wait for the big ones to bring happiness you could be waiting a long time for nothing.
Posted by Sherri at 5:36 AM
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Just a quick blog this morning to start the weekend off. I took the dogs to the beach yesterday morning for a romp. Both had recently been cleaned as seen in my blog a couple days ago. I am never one to forgo fun for cleanliness but I have really enjoyed that fresh cleaned poodle for a day or two. As I left the house I realized that it was raining so I had to skip bringing my camera which I hate. Of course it was beautiful, it was drizzling and we had the whole beach to ourselves. It was truly glorious.
Once home it was blow time. I recently discovered that my forced air dryer does an amazing job of removing sand without having to bathe (the dogs that is). Both are great about having the sand removed from their coat but Elsa likes to do a bit of recreational attacking of the dryer once she's done. Here are some shots from yesterday. Enjoy!!
Posted by Sherri at 4:59 AM
Friday, March 16, 2012
Muscle atrophy is a loss of muscle tissue. This can be a sign of disease but is common in the older dog. I am really starting to notice this in Luke even though it has been happening for sometime. When we had Tilley and Jessie; they were who I had to compare Luke with. This meant that Luke didn't look too bad for an eleven year old. Now that we have a young'n in the house I am noticing Luke's muscle loss a great deal more. Elsa is getting older, filling out and muscling up so when I am giving her a hug and move over to hug Luke; I am more aware of the loss of his muscle mass.
As dogs age they have a natural amount of muscle loss, add into that some mild to severe arthritis and it can be worse. Most older dogs get what I call the old dog hollow; a spot on the back of their thigh that you can see and feel. It is where the large bicep femoris muscle joins the other smaller muscles in the back of the leg. There you can see a loss of muscle causing a hollow along the length of the muscle. It is a telltale sign of age and something that brings with it an age realization.
Depending on the dog and the life that they have lead will factor in on muscle mass. Tilley was a very well muscled dog she was squarely built with wonderful structure. Luke on the other hand does not have wonderful structure and because of this he has more muscle mass loss. Oh he is amazing to look at, gorgeous in every way but when you look down at him from above you see the problem. He is very narrow and because of it was never able to move like Tilley was; even as a young dog he could never make the turns that Tilley could do with her eyes tied behind her back as my husband would say. Muscle is important.
In our day to day lives we need muscle to do any sort of moving, the less muscle we have the more work those muscles have to do; making every movement that much more difficult. Our dogs, like us cannot build muscle as they grow older like they could when they were young so as much exercise as Luke gets his muscles are not filling in. He has always had a huge amount of exercise but even when he was running miles with my husband he was never buff so to speak. But Tilley was all together different, after a big run or frisbee outing her back legs looked much like The Incredible Hulk's legs.
Elsa is very similar to Tilley in structure and she is filling in to be quite the buff girl. This one of the main reasons that I am noticing Luke's loss of muscle mass, Elsa's muscle gain. Luke has also always been extremely skinny, as you all know he is the official Mr. Picky Pants. This lack of fat also draws attention to the lack of muscle now as he ages but that lack of weight will actually help him as he grows older.
It is very important as our dogs age to keep weight off of them. No dog should be fat; in fact lean is much better for all dogs no matter what their age. But old dogs have a tough time getting around and every extra pound makes it that much more difficult. As Tilley got up in age I cut back on her food amounts, she was moving less so her caloric requirements changed. Even though Tilley was never heavy, she weighed between 45-47 lbs her entire life but I wanted to make it easier on her joints so a few pounds shed was a great help.
I know when I am pumping iron, I feel great. So it will be to the gym for me this morning and then to the beach for a rip roaring romp for the dogs. Have a great day.
Posted by Sherri at 4:08 AM
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Monday we hit the beach and hit it hard. It was a very low tide day meaning that we were going to get messy. I wore my rubber boots and I'm glad that I did because I had to save the ball several times after Elsa and her Labrador friend ran out into the water with it and forgot to bring it back. By the time we were done Elsa was completely soaked and filthy and a simple brush and blow out was not going to cut it; she was going in the shower.
I was recently sent several samples of Les Poochs dogs shampoos and conditioners to try. For this bath I pulled out the Vitamin Enriched Conditioning Shampoo for Females on Elsa's body and the Puppy Tearless Shampoo for Females on her head. Having the tearless shampoo makes washing near the eye area much less stressful. Both the shampoos had a wonderful smell making the sudsing up process quite enjoyable in the shower.
Rinsing out the shampoo I could tell that her coat was really clean. There was no gunky residue left, it felt light. After she was out of the bath and given a blow out her hair was luxuriously soft even before being brushed and she smelled wonderfully fresh without a harsh perfume sort of smell.
Then it was Luke's turn, we were able to wait until the next day for Luke as he'd only gotten his ankles wet the day before. So into the shower I chose Pooch Bright formula which is a concentrate so you don't need much. It's purple, really purple and as I poured it onto my hands to apply onto Luke's coat it turned into a lavender color once diluted with the water. The lather was as they say luxurious, it was so soft and soon he was covered in it.
After Luke had his blow out he looked amazing. He'd had a dirty ting to him lately as it had been a while since his last bath, that was gone and his gorgeous apricot coat was glowing. I love this purple shampoo.
Several weeks ago Elsa was in need of a bath once again after partying a bit hard at the beach. To wash away the funk from the beach I used Les Poochs Tearless and finished her off with the La Pooch Creme Rinse with natural botanical extracts. It kept her looking and smelling great until she ran in the low tide just the other day.
The feel of the dogs coats after using the Les Poochs shampoos was really clean and light. Their coats dried to a maximum fluff and smelled great. Now let's see how long until the next bath.
Posted by Sherri at 4:31 AM
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Sometimes even a "bored" shot is great.
As a dog photographer I am constantly on the look out for something being said. That something I'm looking for is emotion; I don't care what emotion it just has to have feeling. As long as a photo says something to me then I'm happy. I hate empty photos, those posed shots that hold no emotion, nothing said. I'm a candid shooter specializing in action photography; freezing a moment so that we can enjoy it.
Never ending interactions.
Lots being said here, dominance, aggression and ball guarding all rolled into one.
I have been very lucky to have my own pack to shoot on a daily basis. It has recently changed from a pack of four to a tiny pack of two but these two have more "saying somethings" in a few moments of a day than many have in a month. Both Luke and Elsa have very expressive faces which I love to capture. When I am out at the park or beach I love to catch posturing, communication and athletic action. When I'm out with my own guys it puts a limit on how much I can shoot as I need to supervise there actions first.
Very serious about being serious.
Of course when I'm on a shoot I get to shoot specifically what I'm there to shoot. It might be a party that I've been hired to shoot (those are a blast). It may be a connection between an owner and their dog. Perhaps some rescue dogs that are looking for a new forever home or specific shots I'm looking for. When I shoot for magazines its either a breed specific or behavior specific that I'm shooting for so that can take a great deal of patience. Both in that finding the dog and waiting for a particular behavior takes time.
In a single shoot I can easily click off 300-800 shots; very few of those get to stay, even fewer get the privilege of being shared. Shooting moving candids; capturing life as it unfolds takes patience and timing. Yesterday as I tried to capture images of Elsa fresh out of the shower it was nearly impossible. She was zooming so fast that I thought I might not even get one good shot. Often dogs are facing the wrong way; of course this happens often and as I move around to get the action they too move.
I'll do what it takes to get the shot; crawl around in the sand, mud or grass. Lay on my back in the middle of a park, crawl under a dock, climb a tree or ladder, you name it. An image that causes a feeling is a good image; which makes photography a very personal thing. One that says something to me may say nothing to you. You may look at a photo and absolutely love it; the same photo may leave me flat. It truly is in the eye of the beholder.
I'm considering heading to the beach today without my dogs. I'm struggling with this, as a dog Mom I know how much they adore the beach but as a photographer I want to get some good shots of other dogs without having to constantly for my guys. So I will pack up my camera bag, take a huge breath and lock the door behind me taking that walk to my car without my dogs.
Have a great day;
Posted by Sherri at 4:01 AM
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Tuesday morning rain; they called for it and it's here. We hit the beach this past Sunday; early so it wasn't too crowded although by the time we left it was filling up. As we left I said "if it rains this week I'm going to the beach." An odd statement for most but when its raining, not too many people go to the beach. So once I check out the tide charts we'll head off at the appropriate time. After we get back I believe it is time for a bath. I figure if the dogs are going to be wet anyway they may as well have a bath right? I really wish that I had a waterproof camera but alas I do not.
Rain is a funny thing; some dogs hate it, others don't even seem to notice it and then there are the ones that love it. My guys are fine in the rain except for going out to go to the bathroom. Running full speed down the beach with the rain soaking their coat and filling their eyes is cool but taking a step out the back door to relieve themselves is altogether different. Elsa really doesn't care about the rain, she has fun on her agenda 100% of the time so rain doesn't bother her. Luke on the other hand will stick his head out the door cautiously as he thinks that he possibly smelled rain as I opened the door. Once it is confirmed he lets me know that he has actually changed his mind; he doesn't have to go anymore, he is good for now.
Many dogs in California hate the rain and I always got lots of calls on those days. "Sherri, he just won't go out," or "she just peed on the floor, right in front of me." True some dogs would rather go in the house or literally explode before going out in the rain. The solution is to go back to kindergarten, go out with them and reward them for going out in the rain. Why not? Wouldn't you rather just give them a treat than clean up the floor; worse still, the carpet? If they really, really hate to go out into the rain then reward them for doing it. Besides if you are standing out there with them it can't be that bad right?
Back in California was the worst because it so rarely rained that it was quite shocking to the dogs. I got use to going out in the rain with them so that they would go out. I remember Jessie walking the few steps that she had to go to get to the grass; she would tip toe with her eyes squinting and her body seemingly painful with every drop that hit her, ridiculous really. She would move at a snail speed as her entire body recoiling in disgust from this wet stuff falling upon her. Once she was in and dried down she would tear off like a maniac.
I love the rain, I always have. Give me a good thunder and lightening boomer and I'm in my glory. So we will enjoy the rain today and take advantage of everyone else not enjoying it at the beach. Then it's scrub time, stay tuned for puff pics. Have a great day, wet or dry.
Posted by Sherri at 3:47 AM
Monday, March 12, 2012
Not the actual mounting Golden
The sun is just coming up and I've been up for nearly two hours already. Dragging myself out of bed before 5:00am which is actually before 4:00 am was brutal. Even Elsa wasn't so keen on getting up. I hate this time change; not only is it tough to get out of bed in the morning the already fleeting days speed by even faster. Until my body adjusts I will suffer along with the rest of you all. Good morning.
1. to go up; climb; ascend: to mount stairs.
to get up on (a platform, a horse, etc.).
to set or place at an elevation:
Mounting; a common occurrence in dogs but unless one if breeding a pair of dogs it is a highly undesirable behavior. Mounting can be rooted in several different categories. Many puppies mount others because they simply don't know what they are doing. They can become over stimulated and mount another dog. It is harmless but nonetheless should be stopped.
Another reason is abnormal behavior; I see obsessive mounting in a large number of pet store dogs. You've all seen them, the dogs that latch onto stranger's legs, other dogs and pretty much anything that is mountable.
Then there is the dominance issue. Yesterday as we left the beach we were clear off of the sand and nearing the parking lot when I heard a commotion. I walked closer to the sand to see what it was all about; there was a large male Golden Retriever and he was mounting just about all the other dogs. It was a good thing that we were not down by them when this was happening. As social and forgiving as Luke is; mounting is not something that he allows and nor do many dogs.
Mounting use to be a common occurrence in our home. Jessie being the very dominant little thing that she was would mount the other dogs whenever she felt the need. If they were getting a bit rowdy and she didn't approve, she'd mount them. She was only 15 lbs so it wasn't a full body mount, just a leg mount. The fact that the other dogs considered her to be the leader they allowed it and understood what it meant. Later on as they got older they would sort of laugh it off. Even still I would always step in and stop it.
As far as mounting people or strange dogs; it is a big no no. Even within one household it can become a huge issue and lead to many problems. I see people at dog parks allowing the behavior and it is very dangerous. I would say that mounting is probably one of the most common fight initiatives.
As I watched the Golden try to dominate everyone on the beach it was sad. This one dog was ruining everyone's time and you could see it on the faces of the owners. DO NOT ALLOW MOUNTING. I remember many years ago when I was at a dog park to shoot different dog behaviors. There was a man in attendance with his small black scruffy dog, it looked like maybe a Lhasa Apso mix. The dog was going through all the dogs on the small dog side of the park and mounting them; really aggressively mounting them. There was growling and biting as well.
One other gentleman who was not okay with this went over to help his dog, he was pushing the mounting dog off with his foot. Well this started a very heated human argument. The guy who owned the perpetrator thought that his dog had every right to mount whomever he desired. Wrong. He said "'that's what dogs do." That is what dogs do and it leads to serious fights, even worse.
Mounting can be a behavior that is commonly used with bullies. It can be something that a dog has been allowed to play out with their overly indulgent owner. Then again it can be a retaliation behavior brought on by a challenge. Mounting is not restricted to males, in fact Jessie was a girl; a very dominant girl. No matter what starts it; STOP IT.
Posted by Sherri at 4:35 AM