Saturday, February 26, 2011

52 Weeks of Dogs: 9/52, Favourites

"I hate ALL of you..."

Ada was the obvious choice for this week's assignment. A positive way to say this would be that Ada is a "one-person" dog, but that would be an understatement. Ada's disdain for the world and everything in it stops when it comes to my husband.

Ada doesn't particularly like me. She doesn't seem to like the other dogs much either. She pretends to like other people, but the elaborate façade must take a lot of effort because she quickly retreats to her little bed under my desk to sulk and be antisocial. Her only joys in this world are ripping polyfill from stuffed toys and spending time with Steve.

Steve doesn't do anything "extra" with Ada apart from the other dogs. He doesn't feed her, he doesn't walk her, he doesn't give her special cookies. Somehow Ada just knows that she is his dog.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Derp.

We frequently play silly pranks on the dogs. They don't mind, really!

Jayne's Mask

I should probably explain this before I dive right into the photos - otherwise it would probably just look like abuse. My husband bought me a gigantic stuffed dog for Valentine's Day. This thing was huge, folks... nearly five feet long! We knew we wouldn't be able to keep it, so we decided to let the dogs tear it apart after a few days. True to form, Jayne demolished it in about an hour - and he did a bang-up job of it. First he pulled all the stuffing out, then he ripped the dog's head from its body.

My husband saw this as a "silly prank" opportunity. As I got the camera ready, husband called Jayne over and pulled the fabric scraps over Jayne's head.

"LOLZ wut are you putting on my head?!? Why is it dark in here?!?"


"Hee hee hee I can't see anything... why are you laughing?!?"


"OMG something is on my head! Quick, gotta get it off HAHA!"


"Hey cool, the room is all bright again!"


"Aaah! Wutz this thing around my neck?!?"


"I'M A DAWG, RUFF RUFF RUFF! I forgot what I was doing!"


Derp. Derp indeed.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

52 Weeks of Dogs: 8/52, The Paw

"Paws 'n' Pasterns"

I consider this to be more of a "paws 'n' pasterns" shot, but I like it all the same. There is no such thing as a clean paw in this house right now, the dogs have spent all weekend playing in the mud!




Friday, February 18, 2011

Lessons Learned

Though I did not have the luxury of having my own dog when I was growing up, I did “grow up around dogs.” A few days ago I was having a conversation with a friend about how our childhood experiences with dogs have shaped our adult lives. Today, I’d like to revisit the dogs of my childhood and identify the lessons I learned from each one. Some are dog lessons, some are life lessons.


Paddywick | Collie x German Shepherd Dog

Paddy was already an old dog by the time I was old enough to acknowledge his presence. He belonged to my next-door neighbor and was frequently left outside when the weather was nice – free to roam wherever he pleased… except that he was pleased to go nowhere at all! He’d lay in the flowerbeds with our cat Specks, where they’d spend hours watching the butterflies and grooming each other. Paddy was a calm, quiet, unflappable lion of a dog that never did anything to make anyone mad. It was impossible to get a rise out of him. Paddy taught me that you make more friends by being friendly yourself.


Henry | Old English Sheepdog

Henry was a crotchety old dog who belonged to a neighbor up the street. Henry was large, hairy and somewhat smelly – he reminded me of George Wilson from the comic strip Dennis the Menace. In fact, that’s a fairly accurate character reference, as Henry did not like loud, obnoxious children. He’d be okay until a kid started making any of the standard kid sounds (yelling, screeching, squealing, whining, crying etc.) at which time he’d let out a series of booming, cacophonous barks that would instantly startle the child (usually me) into falling silent. Henry taught me that not everyone thinks loud children are cute or endearing. I was a much quieter and more polite child because of Henry.


Joli | Australian Cattle Dog, blue

Joli belonged to Nicole, one of my friends from elementary school. Like most Australian Cattle Dogs, Joli was tough. I remember when she was a puppy and we put her adult-sized chain collar around her neck – it was far too big and it dragged on the floor! Joli quickly grew into that collar though, and with her increased size came an increased sense of toughness. I did a lot of stupid stuff with that dog… I remember being dragged around the yard, hanging onto the end of the leash for dear life. I remember spending one minute in her chain-link kennel in the garage, pressed up against the door with territorial 40lb Joli barking in my face. Both of these stupid ideas were the products of Truth or Dare. I knew what I was doing was unsafe, but at that age children don’t have the sense to say ‘no’ when it comes to Truth or Dare. (Nicole was the same friend that dared me to eat flour once… I nearly died from asphyxiation!) We kids pushed Joli’s tolerance to the breaking point several times, and not once did she actually bite us. Joli taught me that dogs forgive humans a lot more often than humans forgive dogs.


Two Black Shar Peis

I wish I remember the names of these two dogs. They belonged to another one of my elementary-school friends, and at the time I thought they were the most beautiful dogs I’d ever seen. They were black as pitch, with thick muzzles and piles of wrinkles all over their heads and necks. The first litter of newborn puppies I ever saw was the product of these two dogs. They were great with children, but sadly they both were put to sleep after they broke through a door and killed a neighbor’s Jack Russell Terrier. Those two Shar Peis taught me that you should never ignore breed instinct.


Bubbles & Brea | West Highland White Terriers

When Paddy died, my neighbor got two Westies. Bubbles was older than Brea by a few years, but neither dog was very healthy. Bubbles had anal gland problems, which didn’t seem like a big deal… but they ruptured once when I was dogsitting for the weekend. I was ten years old, so I had no idea anything was wrong. Imagine how awful I felt when my neighbor came home and immediately had to take Bubbles to the emergency vet! For some reason my neighbor continued to hire me to dogsit after the anal gland incident, and as much as I’d like to say we never had any more problems… that would be a lie. Brea was in even worse shape than Bubbles – she was deaf, partially blind and had epilepsy. Her seizures got worse over time, to the point where medication had little effect. There were several times while I was dogsitting that I’d be frozen in terror, watching Brea convulse on the floor, biting her tongue and bleeding all over. Bubbles and Brea taught me that real dogs can often have real health problems. Later this lesson morphed into “always do as much health testing as you possibly can, and if you buy a puppy from a breeder make sure both parents have also been health tested.”


Abby | Irish Setter

Abby was undeniably gorgeous. She belonged to our “kitty corner” neighbors who often held potlucks and dinner parties, to which my family was almost always invited. Where Abby made up for in beauty she sorely lacked in brains – she was happy and cheerful but exceedingly stupid. She would wander into the street and just stand there for no reason at all, other than to use her legs for something. She’d sail into walls and fences at a dead run, simply because she was too carefree to watch where she was going. She’d escape the house at every opportunity, run a few blocks and then sit down on a street corner, staring off into space with a happy grin on her face and wait for us to find her. Abby taught me that ignorance can be bliss, but by being openly naïve you draw attention to yourself in a negative way.


Aussie | Australian Cattle Dog, red

Aussie belonged to the other set of next-door neighbors, who bought her at 6 weeks of age from a pet store. Aussie’s family was chaotic and violent – overworked single mom, three rambunctious kids, and usually a loud and cantankerous (and always useless) boyfriend thrown into the mix. Aussie received no socialization and no training. She was abused by almost everyone in the house, mostly by the boyfriend and the oldest child. Neighbor kids teased her unmercifully, poking at her from behind the chain-link fence and encouraging her to chase them up and down the fence line. I was kind to Aussie, so she was less nasty to me than she could have been. That’s not to say she didn’t bite me though, because she did bite me on several occasions. Aussie’s life was cut short when she bit the oldest child in the face… while he was beating her with his belt. She was euthanized before her first birthday. Aussie taught me that pets are at the mercy of their owners, for better or for worse. Aussie’s owners taught me that human beings have a capacity for cruelty unmatched by any other creature on earth.


Lobo | Pariah-type Dog from the American Southwest

Lobo looked like a small Siberian Husky mixed with some sort of wild canid. He was 50 pounds and had yellow eyes, a cinnamon and cream sable spitz-type coat and a curly tail. Our neighbor’s son Rick had found him wandering in an Arizona desert while on vacation and brought him back to Iowa. Unfortunately Lobo had heartworms and had to undergo a costly and difficult treatment to eradicate them. Lobo spent every waking moment with his owner – they were perfect for each other. When he’d come visit his mother, I’d take Lobo for walks around the neighborhood. Everyone liked Lobo, he had a magnetic personality that drew people to him like moths to a flame. Even my parents – who were not dog people – adored Lobo. Tragically, young Rick died suddenly and Lobo found himself alone again, and with no home. Eventually Rick’s mother decided to keep him, but I later found out that my parents had offered to take Lobo if no other home could be found. Lobo taught me that certain dogs have a magical spark that makes them something more than “just a dog” – they have an uncanny ability to form close emotional ties with everyone they meet, and have a way of warming even the coldest hearts.


I know the list is growing long, but I have one more pair of dogs to write about.


Chico and Cody | German Shepherd Dog and Doberman Pinscher

I walked to school from 6th to 8th grade. One of the houses I passed every day had a 6’ wrought iron fence that contained two guard dogs – Chico the German Shepherd and Cody the Doberman. Chico would hit the fence as soon as he saw me at the end of the block, barking and frothing at the mouth. Cody never moved from the front steps, he just sat there and fixed me with a sharp, unwavering gaze. His focus on me was not a friendly one, nor was it affected by the ruckus Chico caused. His eyes never left me until I was several houses away – I’d look back and see Cody still sitting on those steps, still watching me, still silent. Chico was loud, but I knew Cody was the one that would kill me if I climbed that fence. Chico taught me that someone who makes a lot of noise and drama is rarely the one in charge. Cody taught me that a true leader rarely has to raise a ruckus to get things done.


Cody is also the reason why I fell in love with Doberman Pinschers. Cody started it all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Iowa Trail Edition of... JustJayne!

JAYNE,

From the moose you killed, you got 1580 pounds of meat. However, you were only able to carry 300 pounds back to the wagon.

Press SPACE BAR to continue.









Thank you Viktoria for sending Jayne such a wonderful gift! As you can see, he loves it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Equipment isn't everything... right?

I met another "equipment-uber-alles" photographer this weekend. You know, the type of person who feigns interest in what you're shooting with, but once he sees that you've got an older entry-level DSLR and a lens that cost less than $1000, a haughty smirk appears on his face and he tries to talk you into submission about all the bells and whistles he's got in his camera bag.

I'll come right out and say it - I feel that I am a decent photographer. For the most part, I like my work. But people who try to make others feel small because of what they're shooting with takes all the fun out of this hobby.

My equipment list is small and relatively unimpressive. I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT that I bought in college, an EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 USM lens I bought for about $800 and an EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens that I bought for just over $500. I also have a $30 Lightscoop and Photoshop CS5. That is the extent of my equipment.

I should also disclose that I do have formal training - I have a minor in Photography from Iowa State University, and I grew up in a home where photography was part of everyday life. My mother is a brilliant photographer and even taught photography classes for several years. But Mom is in the same boat as me - she's a teacher in a public school, where she earns a meager wage teaching children to expand their creativity and gain a sense of appreciation for art.

Unfortunately, people like my mother and me don't have enough "fun money" to drop on high-end photography equipment - we must make do with what we can afford. I personally refuse to go into debt for the sake of a better lens. I refuse to skimp on my dogs' food, training and care for the sake of a more powerful camera body. And I sure as hell can't run to Mommy and Daddy for great gear, because no matter how much they may want to, they simply cannot afford it.

I had the misfortune of meeting one of the ugliest souls in photography last year at an Agility trial. I'd spent the previous day volunteering at the trial - running leashes, changing jump heights, straightening the chute, etc. I'd driven back to the trial site the next day - 40 miles in the cold rain - to cheer on my fellow club members and to capture a few snapshots of the dogs I knew. I was approached by a young man who was interested in what kind of "gear" I had brought with me. I reluctantly opened my camera bag so he could see the contents - I knew what was coming. He scoffed, and loftily said that there was no way I'd get any photograph worth saving in the dimly-lit horse barn where the trial was being held. I told him it didn't matter - I wasn't selling the photos and I was mostly just there to cheer on my friends.

I tried to refocus my attention to the course, but the young man wouldn't let up - he talked my ear off about the large collection of equipment he had back home, how his employer (apparently he works under a pro dog photographer in Minnesota) was sending him to California to shoot agility trials, and how important it is to have the best equipment if you "ever plan on producing anything more than mediocre crap" - his words, not mine. He then started trash-talking another photographer in Minnesota, boasting that she'd bought all of his employer's old equipment and how pathetic she was in thinking she was a "real" photographer. At this point I'd had enough of this kid's boasting and walked away. If I hadn't, I'd probably have taken my "pathetic" Canon Rebel XT and beamed him upside the head!

Here are a few photos that "weren't worth saving" from that day.













Are they fantastic? No.

Are they acceptable, given the poor lighting conditions? Sure.

Were the dogs' owners extremely happy to see the photos? Absolutely.

I could have been genuinely happy with these photos, but instead I felt somewhat ashamed of them. Instead of focusing the joy they brought the dogs' owners, I fixated on what that rude young man at the trial had said, and how he'd classified me as a pathetic photographer wannabe with sad equipment. To this day I find myself hesitant to market my services, on the off-chance I won't get the photographs that people are expecting. Not because I lack talent, but because I lack $20k worth of lenses and lights.

I leave you with this:
The best camera in the world will not make you a better photographer.
If you shoot with an entry-level DSLR, you are not pathetic.
Photography is an art, not a contest of who can afford the "best" gear.
Old cameras are not necessarily bad cameras, and this especially applies to film!
Don't go into debt to keep up with the Photography Joneses.
If you are a true artist, your camera will rarely hold you back.


Vito doesn't care that his portrait was taken with a $650 Rebel XT instead of a $5000 Mark IV.




Allicyn doesn't care that her sweet face was captured with a $500 prime lens instead of a $16,000 FJs35.



52 Weeks of Dogs: 7/52, Valentine's Dogs

"I love you this much, or not."

Another tough week, since we have no Valentine's Day props lying around. The closest thing I could find was one of Ronin's birthday blankets - pink with white hearts. I also had a plush Dachshund with "I love you" embroidered on its belly, but try as I might I was unable to get any of the dogs to pose with it and still look like they loved me at all. (Seriously, the outtakes are ironic and awesome!)

As always, click the photo to see it bigger and prettier.



Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nail care is a part of responsible dog ownership!

Even before I had dogs of my own, I was a stickler on toenails. William Wegman's photos of his Weimaraners annoyed the crap out of me. "For a guy who has beautiful dogs and lots of money because of said dogs," I pondered, "they sure do have long icky nails! Can't he afford to hire someone to take back those talons?"

I've heard every excuse in the book...
1. My dog doesn't tolerate having his nails trimmed!
2. I'm afraid I'll make him bleed!
3. I nicked him with the clippers once and he hates it now!
4. He wiggles too much!
5. My dog is scared of the nail clippers!

To which I counter with...
1. Too bad, you are the leader and he is the dog - teach him to tolerate it!
2. Then get a dremel and teach him to accept it, silly!
3. So teach him through positive experiences that nail-time does not have to be scary!
4. Restrain him, make him hold still and teach him that wiggling is not acceptable!
5. Teach him that nail clippers (and ever better, a nail grinder) is not something to fear!

Notice the word I used in each counter? TEACH. For all the training we (collective we) do with our dogs, it seems like many people regard behaving for nail trimming as something that either happens or it doesn't - not that it's something that needs to be worked on, to be taught, to be trained.

I groomed professionally for nearly seven years. In that time, I learned that grooming dogs can often be like pushing a large boulder up a muddy hill after a torrential downpour - if you are methodical, calm and take it slow, eventually you'll get that boulder to the top of the hill. If you act like a nincompoop or get freaked out, the boulder will crash down the hill and you'll be covered in mud. The most important thing to remember is to never lose your footing and never let the boulder slide down that hill!

How does this crazy analogy apply to trimming nails on dogs?

1. Don't set your dog up to fail.
Don't ask more of your dog than you know he can give. Start small, go slow, offer rewards and encouragement. Don't be cruel, don't get mad.

2. Don't lose ground.
If your dog flails around, restrain him. If he tries to escape, restrain him. If he freaks out, restrain him. Do not let him win (i.e. slide down the slope) by letting him run off in the middle of a grooming session. If he does manage to escape, go get him and continue!

3. Don't let your dog win.
Once a dog knows he can escape nail trimming by acting like an ass, that will be his default behavior at nail-time! Just like letting that boulder roll to the bottom of the hill and having to push it all the way back up again, letting a dog "win" when you're trimming nails will mean that the next time you trim nails, the dog's behavior will be even worse. Even if you don't finish, always end a nail session with you winning.

I use a grinding tool instead of clippers. Mine is actually an ancient Black & Decker Wizard powered by Versapak batteries. I'd recommend this tool if it was still being made by B&D, but sadly it was scrapped from their product line eons ago. Instead, go with a Dremel - cordless or corded, it's your choice. Grinding has several advantages over clipping - shorter nails, no risk of gushing blood, no sharp edges, more comfortable for the dog, etc.

When I grind nails, I have the dog lie down on his side. I sit next to the dog and grind nails while we're both on the floor. If I don't completely trust the dog, I securely tie him up to a sturdy post and grind the nails with the dog standing up. I've never had a dog try to bite me for this, but one can never be too careful. With the corgis, I sit cross-legged and hold them in my lap, head between my side and my elbow, their cute little corgi tummies facing the sky. Mu husband calls this the "Welsh headlock." This is a great method for dwarf breeds as it puts very little strain on their shortened legs and joints.

Ronin says, "Are you going to grind my toesies, Mummy?"




Ada helps demonstrate the "Welsh headlock" position.




If the dog begins to get agitated, you need to turn to stone. Freeze. Do not squeeze down or tense up, but do not slide down that slope. Hold your ground. Sooner or later, the dog will realize that struggling is getting him nowhere, and the dramatic flailing will subside. Once this happens, briefly tell him - in a firm, benevolent and quiet tone - that he's being a good boy (I usually say "wise decision, my friend") and continue on. Do not stop until the job is done, or until you feel that you have "won" at this time. Once all the nails are done, hold him still for a few more moments and tell him again - in that same authoritative yet kind tone - that he was a very brave dog. Let him up and go to the kitchen to get a few yummy treats for his trouble!

If you're trying to work back long nails, grind every third day. If you're trying to maintain their current length, grind every 7-10 days. If you do a good job and grind often, you may end up with beautiful paws like this:



But I know what you're thinking. You're saying to yourself, "Yeah, but those are the feet of a show dog - not some everyday pet! Of course they're shorter than the average dog's nails!"

Let me show you something. The next photo is of our foster dog's nails. We have had this particular foster dog for about 4 weeks, and have been grinding her nails every 3-4 days. This dog has probably never had fastidious nail care up until 4 weeks ago.



This is the foot of a rescue dog, not a show dog. It is possible, folks - this is proof!

So the next time you look at your dog - the dog that eats the very best food, gets the very best training, wears the very best collars.... please do not turn a blind eye to the condition of his feet.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Adversarial Brethren

By now you all should know that my husband and I somehow found ourselves with a fifth dog. We have had him for a grand total of ten days. He was neutered today and has spent the evening resting... and probably wondering why he feels hung over and his balls are gone!

All kidding aside, Jayne is getting a lot of attention and I'm glad so many people care about him. One question keeps getting asked with some regularity though, so it seems fitting that I address it on the blog.

How do Jayne and Ronin get along?

As a rule, male Dobermans are aggressive towards other male dogs. It is an inherent breed trait, and is not dependent on training or socialization (or lack thereof.) You cannot train it out, you cannot socialize it out, you cannot neuter it out. The belligerent attitude towards other males can sometimes be controlled and masked, but you will never make it disappear in the Doberman Pinscher. A Doberman that is male dog aggressive is not the mark of a bad owner. Some of the most well-trained and highly titled Dobermans I know are still not allowed to interact with their male housemates due to the breed's dog aggressive tendencies.

Let me reiterate - this is a breed issue. Male dog aggression is deeply rooted and extremely complex in this breed, it always has been. Most responsible breeders (and many rescues) will not place a male with someone who owns another male dog, or plans to get another male dog in the future. Trust the breeders, they know what they're doing - they fully understand how serious male/male aggression is in the breed. Case in point - I have known and worked closely with my Doberman breeder for ten years, and only now has she permitted me to permanently bring in another male - and it was literally a "do or die" situation.


(Ronin doesn't mind 6 month old Sooner... yet!)

Never assume that your males will be the exception, and never set yourself up for failure. Yes, there are people out there that have multiple males that get along - but those situations are few and far between. Multiple males will often be fine at first if one of them is a puppy, but eventually there will be trouble. This usually occurs once the younger male reaches sexual maturity at 18-24 months. If you do decide to own multiple males, you need to be prepared to manage your household accordingly if the male-male dynamic goes south. And rest assured, it probably will. Take precautions and have a management plan before you end up with a fight on your hands, because when two males decide to fight for the first time they may very well kill each other.


(Ronin and one of his only male friends, an English Setter named Jack.)

We will be CNRing Ronin and Jayne for a long time. CNR is "crate and rotate" - meaning that when one male is loose, the other is securely shut in a crate. The only time Ronin and Jayne will see each other is through crate bars - and they will not be crated next to each other. We debated using ex-pens but decided against it for the time being. Ex-pens and baby gates can be jumped or knocked down, and that is not a risk we're willing to take this early in the game. We'll give it a few months to a year, and see where we are then.

Ronin has already had extensive training, and he will tolerate other males as long as they leave him alone. Excessively rude behavior or posturing will cause him to react. He can be next to males for sits and downs, but to put him in a casual situation with other males would mean a bloodbath. I can count on one hand (and still could if I lost three fingers in a farming accident!) the number of male dogs that Ronin is even marginally safe with off-leash.

Jayne is an adolescent male who lacks training, self control and respect for other dogs. It will take him a long time to get to the point where he and Ronin can be loose in the house together. They'll never be loose in the yard, no matter how well they do in the house.

We will give them a chance to peacefully coexist indoors, but we will never trust them to abandon their instincts. To do so would be grossly irresponsible.

52 Weeks of Dogs: 6/52, Bedtime

"Darn it, I'm not a cheater!"

This week... I aim to misbehave. I'm using a photo I took February 2nd, which was technically before the subject of this week's photo was announced. But darn it, it's a cool photo! I highly recommend clicking the photo so you can see it full-size. It's absolutely breathtaking when it's not the size of a business card.




Okay, I couldn't live with myself - I am not a cheater, darn it! So here's a photo for the this week's theme that I actually took this evening of Jayne.




Saturday, February 5, 2011

Look at Miracle now!

Miracle is up to 69lbs. Not much of an update, but sometimes photos speak louder than words.


(Miracle with one of our wonderful IDR+ volunteers!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If you can't do something smart, do something right.

I jumped the gun with last night's post. Apparently there was something I could do with Louie - I could keep him. I thought my husband would say no, but in the end it was actually his decision that we'd be his forever home.



We saved Louie. He was a mere 15 minutes away from death, but we saved him in the nick of time.

Louie is not a bad dog, he's just the victim of circumstances beyond his control. You see, Louie has a bite history. He bit a chiropractic vet while she was bent over him to adjust a sore leg. It was a reactionary bite - he bit out of fear and pain, and he had not been restrained or muzzled at the time. But a bite is a bite, no matter what the motivation, so he was returned to his breeder.

A good breeder is up front and honest about a dog's history. Louie's breeder quickly realized that there was no way she could, in good conscience, rehome this dog to just anyone. She knew he was a good dog and would be okay in the right home, but finding that right home would be next to impossible, especially with the liability of him being a "biter."

He spent some time at the breeder's house, but he wasn't going to improve there. The breeder made the difficult decision to euthanize him. She called and told me what was going to happen, as a courtesy since she knew we liked the dog. I probably shouldn't have told my husband about it, but he had really fallen for Louie and I didn't want to keep the secret of his death from him. My husband was understandably upset, and we began to think about how we could help him. Every idea we came up with just didn't hold water - it was a lose-lose situation for everyone involved, but most of all for poor Louie.

Today my husband called me at work, and asked me if we'd decided what to do about "The Louie Situation." I said that I'd assumed that there was nothing we could do, but he said we needed to talk about it some more. I called the breeder to make sure she hadn't put him to sleep yet, and to give us until the next morning to decide whether or not we could keep him.

When the breeder answered the phone, she told me she was just walking out the door with Louie... to take him on his final journey. I knew we had to make a decision fast. I called my husband back and told him we needed to made a decision immediately, because Louie's time was up. Without hesitation, he said, "well, then we'll take him."

I hurriedly called the breeder back to tell her to turn the van around and cancel the vet appointment. Louie wasn't going to die today. At this point the breeder broke down in tears, exclaiming how relieved she was that she wouldn't have to put him to sleep.

We pick him up on Sunday.

Was this a smart decision? In some aspects, probably not. This poor dog will live his entire life with the black cloud of a "bite history" hovering over him. My husband and I must take full responsibility for him, and must accept the risk of owning a 90lb guardian breed that has bitten a human being. We have another mouth to feed, and it's a big mouth. We have another dog to vaccinate and to give heartworm preventative. We have one more dog to juggle when we want to travel.

But was this the right decision? I've been turning it over and over and over in my mind, and I always reach the same conclusion - YES, it was the right thing to do. He deserves a chance to grow into the dog we know he can be. And if he does end up needing to be euthanized for aggression at some point down the line, it will be after all options have been exhausted, and he'll have the comfort of knowing that at least for his last chapter of life, he was loved.

Jayne Cobb once said, "If you can't do something smart, do something right." To honor those poignant words, we've decided to rename our new red boy "Jayne."

The universe has a way of evening the score, and I'd like to thank the people that are proving that. Thank you Big Dogs Porch for paying for Jayne's neuter, thank you Lori for giving us a large crate for him, and thank you Michelle for buying him his very own Paco Collar. Your generosity and kindness will not be forgotten... Steve and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Goodbye Louie

I wish there was something I could do... I wish there was a way I could help you.

I'm sorry. I'll miss you more than you'll ever know.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011

This is not news. I'm not the first (or the last) person to talk about the gigantic snowstorm making its way across the country right now... but since I'm effectively stranded, there's nothing else to do. Might as well make the best of it.

As of 9:00om tonight, we are officially snowed in.

Even if I wanted to go somewhere, it would be impossible - the roads have been deemed impassable and have been closed. Here's proof! I put a little Doberman on the map to show our general location. My workplace is located in the little blue rectangle to the west.



I decided that going to work today was futile. When one lives in the boonies, it is wise to think ahead. So instead of puttering away on a computer at work, I puttered away on a computer here at home. I also caught up on chores and took the dogs outside to see them play in the quickly growing snowdrifts in the backyard.

This photo was from this morning, around 11:30am. The drifts were just forming, and none of the dogs had any idea what the next few hours would bring!



At around 9:00pm, I decided to venture outside to see the drifting. The road in front of the house was nearly indistinguishable from the ditches that flank either side, and the howling wind carried the snow like it was sand. Definitely a 9.5 on the Eerie Scale. I snapped a few photos, not very good but it's hard to photograph a blizzard on a moonless night. Our neighbor's mastiff crossed the road while I was out there, which helps with scale I suppose.



I'd soon had enough of the wind forcing snow shards under my shirt, so I decided it was time for a late dinner. I'll spare you the photos of that, since apparently it's impossible to get an appealing photograph of soup that looks like cat barf. (Green Lentil & Bacon, yum!)

For dessert... Mini Eggs, perfectly melted. I decided to pull out a sushi plate for the occasion. I tried eating them with chopsticks, but that ended up being far too messy.





So until tomorrow, stay safe! Stay warm! Don't go anywhere if you don't have to!