Saturday, February 25, 2012

52 Weeks of Dogs: 8/52

Week 8 (Feb 19-Feb 25) - I Don't Want To Share!





1/52 Portrait

2/52 Best Friends
3/52 Monochromatic (Greyscale)
4/52 Not So Serious
5/52 Not Supposed To Be Here
6/52 What is on me?
7/52 Will You Be Mine?
8/52 I Don't Want To Share!
9/52 Caught Red-Handed
10/52 Can we be friends?
11/52 These Are My Eyes
12/52 New Perspective on Things (Shoot from a unusual angle)
13/52 This is My Nose
14/52 Shot From the Hip
15/52 Easter!
16/52 Doppleganger
17/52 Playing Dress Up
18/52 Silhouette
19/52 Action!
20/52 Playing With Composition: Square Crop
21/52 Picture Trio! (Three pictures in a series)
22/52 Remember The Fallen
23/52 School Pictures!
24/52 This is My Tail
25/25 Show Me Some Muscles!
26/52 Turn Down the Lights
27/52 Support Your Country
28/52 Get Outside!
29/52 Those Are Some Funky Moves!
30/52 Play With Composition - 1:3 Ratio
31/52 Focus on Something Else (Shoot with your dog out of focus)
32/52 Sepia Tone
33/52 Time For a Nap
34/52 Stand on Something!
35/52 Cool It (Cool Tone)
36/52 Warm It Up! (Warm tone)
37/52 Not ok With This!
38/52 Can I Have That?
39/52 Tight Spaces
40/52 Running!
41/52 Get on the Ground! (Shoot from the ground)
42/52 Playing With Composition: Panoramic
43/52 Favorite Toy
44/52 Boo!
45/52 From Up High (Shoot from higher than your subject)
46/52 Living Life Indoors
47/52 Give Thanks
48/52 Playing With Composition - 1:1 Ratio
49/52 Exploring
50/52 These Are My Feet!
51/52 Playing With Composition - 1:5 Ratio
52/52 Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Westminster Commercials

Let me preface this by saying I didn't watch Westminster this year, only because I don't have cable. However, I didn't miss the controversy surrounding the Westminster Kennel Club's decision to drop Pedigree as its main sponsor. Their reasoning? They felt Pedigree wasn't promoting pet adoption in a positive way.

Westminster Kennel Club Show Spokesman Daved Frei told the Associated Press, "Show me an ad with a dog with a smile. Don't try to shame me. We told [Pedigree] that and they ignored us."

Here is an example of Pedigree's usual advertisement. Shelter dog in a sad, dirty kennel run, being passed up by potential adopters. It's sad. I won't lie, many Pedigree ads make me go all teary-eyed. They're masterpieces... they make the viewer feel awful for the plight of the animals our nation has thrown away.

But here's the kicker... I don't see anything wrong with WKC's request. As someone who works in rescue, I believe that no one should be guilted into adopting a pet. When I talk to prospective adopters about my foster dogs, I always highlight the positive attributes of the dog. I don't dwell on what awful circumstances the dog came from... instead, I focus on the dog's bright future.

An unfortunate byproduct of the Pedigree ads is how they skew the public's view of dog rescue. I can't tell you how many times I've contacted people on Craigslist who are attempting to get rid of their Doberman, only to be told they don't want their dog to go to "one of those sad, lonely, cold rescue kennels." No matter how thoroughly I explain that our dogs end up in loving foster homes with real people, all they can see in their mind is their dog in a dirty cage, sleeping on a cold concrete floor.

If Pedigree really wanted to help homeless dogs in the same capacity as they have since they started running their shelter ads during Westminster, they could have changed the script a little. Show what's good about shelters and rescues, instead of showing the bad. Unless, of course, they know that the feel-good donations and sales of their mediocre dog food don't bring in as much revenue as their standard guilt-trip tactics. (Besides - even without the commercials, they still donate money to rescue dogs when you buy their food. And how many of us really feed Pedigree anyway?)

Purina (the maker of Pro Plan) is now the main sponsor of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. As I said before, I didn't get to see their new ads during the show, but a quick search on YouTube produced this advertisement. I love it. Big dogs, little dogs, purebred dogs, mixed breed dogs, well-bred dogs, pet-bred dogs... all doing the things that make us love the species. If there's a surefire way to make the audience fall in love with dogs, this is it.


And love has a lot more staying power than guilt.



(That's Cape up there... one of the happy dogs that was adopted through IDR awhile back. No chainlink cage, no concrete floor.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rocket and Kaylee's BIG Adventure

I rarely do these 'photo dumpage' posts, but today was too fun not to share.

It was 42 degrees and sunny... perfect weather for a Sunday hike! Aryn and I took the "smart dogs" to an old quarry that has been flooded and converted into a nature park and wildlife reserve.

It was muddy. Aryn was smart and brought rubber waders. I was less smart (but still not technically stupid) and brought some heavy duty hiking boots. We started off looking pretty in the tallgrass:



We spent some time down by the lake, then headed up to the dunes. Kaylee swore she heard something evil over the next ridge, and tore off to "take care of business."



I quickly called her back. No maulings today, folks!



After narrowly avoiding falling on our faces in a large mud pit, we stumbled across a pioneer cemetery.







Rocket decided to wade out for a slurpie break.



Eventually we made it to the far prairie. The lighting was nice, so we attempted to take a few posed shots. It kind of went like this....

Me: Kaylee, stay.
Kaylee: *sigh* ...fine, whatever.
Aryn: Rocket, stay.
Rocket: Golly gee, sure! Hi Kaylee! Look we are both standing in yellow grass hahahaha!
Me: Kaylee, look happy.
Kaylee: No.
Me: Pllleeeaaassseee?
Kaylee: No.
Me: Well fine. Can you at least try to look marginally non-dismal?
Kaylee: ...... I suppose that is an acceptable compromise.
Rocket: I AM A DOG RUFF RUFF!
Kaylee: Get this over with...




Link

Suddenly, Rocket honed in on something. Curious, we let him lead the way. Kaylee quickly focused on the same something. Off into the prairie they charged.





Oh Christ, there they go....



We never did end up finding out what they were tracking. A huge vulture flew out of the tallgrass, and I'm pretty sure he was angry that we had disturbed him. There was probably something dead in the tallgrass somewhere, but we weren't about to go looking for it.

Once we discovered several piles of coyote poo, we headed back into the forest. There were adorable little baby animal tracks everywhere, as evidenced by the photo below. Deer hoofprint, Kaylee pawprint... and baby animal pawprints!




All in all, it was a fun outing. I did learn a few things...

1. Taking decent photos while walking a dog on a retractable lead is extremely difficult.
2. Kaylee likes horse poo.
3. I need rubber waders.
4. Walking through mud and sand makes for great exercise.
5. Vultures are really f*cking scary when they take flight less than 15 feet ahead of you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

52 Weeks of Dogs: 7/52

Week 7 (Feb 12-Feb 18) - Will you be mine?



1/52 Portrait
2/52 Best Friends
3/52 Monochromatic (Greyscale)
4/52 Not So Serious
5/52 Not Supposed To Be Here
6/52 What is on me?
7/52 Will You Be Mine?
8/52 I Don't Want To Share!
9/52 Caught Red-Handed
10/52 Can we be friends?
11/52 These Are My Eyes
12/52 New Perspective on Things (Shoot from a unusual angle)
13/52 This is My Nose
14/52 Shot From the Hip
15/52 Easter!
16/52 Doppleganger
17/52 Playing Dress Up
18/52 Silhouette
19/52 Action!
20/52 Playing With Composition: Square Crop
21/52 Picture Trio! (Three pictures in a series)
22/52 Remember The Fallen
23/52 School Pictures!
24/52 This is My Tail
25/25 Show Me Some Muscles!
26/52 Turn Down the Lights
27/52 Support Your Country
28/52 Get Outside!
29/52 Those Are Some Funky Moves!
30/52 Play With Composition - 1:3 Ratio
31/52 Focus on Something Else (Shoot with your dog out of focus)
32/52 Sepia Tone
33/52 Time For a Nap
34/52 Stand on Something!
35/52 Cool It (Cool Tone)
36/52 Warm It Up! (Warm tone)
37/52 Not ok With This!
38/52 Can I Have That?
39/52 Tight Spaces
40/52 Running!
41/52 Get on the Ground! (Shoot from the ground)
42/52 Playing With Composition: Panoramic
43/52 Favorite Toy
44/52 Boo!
45/52 From Up High (Shoot from higher than your subject)
46/52 Living Life Indoors
47/52 Give Thanks
48/52 Playing With Composition - 1:1 Ratio
49/52 Exploring
50/52 These Are My Feet!
51/52 Playing With Composition - 1:5 Ratio
52/52 Happy Holidays!

Of Titles and Ribbons and Courtesy

Of Titles

Kaylee got her RN (Rally Novice) title today. I take no credit for this, as Aryn is the one that actually showed her. She got her first two legs last weekend... it wasn't pretty, but she managed. She's the kind of dog that needs to know exactly what's going on at all times, so a crowded and noisy trial environment is difficult for her to handle. We're going to work on desensitizing her to this, but a "true" trial environment is extremely hard to duplicate.


Of Ribbons

What's up with clubs not offering title ribbons anymore? I know the little green flats are the ones that truly count, but sometimes it's nice to get something extra that says, "well done, novice handler! Keep up the good work!" I'm glad our club offers title ribbons (even if they are a bit silly looking) and I will forever fight tooth and nail to keep it that way.


Of Courtesy

Friday night is reserved for the specialties and the obedience trial. The kennel club has a rule that none of the conformation folks that are not showing on Friday cannot set up in their grooming spaces until 7pm. There is a good reason for that, folks! Obedience exhibitors pay entries too, Miss Fancy Pro Handler - that means we deserve just as much respect and consideration as you. No, you cannot bang around in your grooming space - setting up crates and tables, testing your blow dryers, etc. - while a dog is in the obedience ring ten feet away. Conformation exhibitors are lucky in that they are able to regain their dog's focus with a bit of stinky bait. Obedience folks can't do that. Our dogs are performing much more complicated tasks than standing still in the conformation ring, and you dropping a metal crate onto the concrete floor can cost a dog a qualifying score. So don't complain that you have to wait until 7pm to set up your junk.

Also, parents - when there are dogs on a long down, don't let your kids stand at the ring entrance and repeatedly call out to the dogs to come over for petting. That's just plain rude... and if they're caught doing it again, there will be some not-very-nice-things said to them and you.

Respect, people... respect!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

52 Weeks of Dogs: 6/52

Belated Week 6 (Feb 5-Feb 11) - What is on me?



1/52 Portrait
2/52 Best Friends
3/52 Monochromatic (Greyscale)
4/52 Not So Serious
5/52 Not Supposed To Be Here
6/52 What is on me?
7/52 Will You Be Mine?
8/52 I Don't Want To Share!
9/52 Caught Red-Handed
10/52 Can we be friends?
11/52 These Are My Eyes
12/52 New Perspective on Things (Shoot from a unusual angle)
13/52 This is My Nose
14/52 Shot From the Hip
15/52 Easter!
16/52 Doppleganger
17/52 Playing Dress Up
18/52 Silhouette
19/52 Action!
20/52 Playing With Composition: Square Crop
21/52 Picture Trio! (Three pictures in a series)
22/52 Remember The Fallen
23/52 School Pictures!
24/52 This is My Tail
25/25 Show Me Some Muscles!
26/52 Turn Down the Lights
27/52 Support Your Country
28/52 Get Outside!
29/52 Those Are Some Funky Moves!
30/52 Play With Composition - 1:3 Ratio
31/52 Focus on Something Else (Shoot with your dog out of focus)
32/52 Sepia Tone
33/52 Time For a Nap
34/52 Stand on Something!
35/52 Cool It (Cool Tone)
36/52 Warm It Up! (Warm tone)
37/52 Not ok With This!
38/52 Can I Have That?
39/52 Tight Spaces
40/52 Running!
41/52 Get on the Ground! (Shoot from the ground)
42/52 Playing With Composition: Panoramic
43/52 Favorite Toy
44/52 Boo!
45/52 From Up High (Shoot from higher than your subject)
46/52 Living Life Indoors
47/52 Give Thanks
48/52 Playing With Composition - 1:1 Ratio
49/52 Exploring
50/52 These Are My Feet!
51/52 Playing With Composition - 1:5 Ratio
52/52 Happy Holidays!

52 Weeks of Dogs: 5/52

Belated Week 5 (Jan 29-Feb 4) - Not Supposed to Be Here



1/52 Portrait
2/52 Best Friends
3/52 Monochromatic (Greyscale)
4/52 Not So Serious
5/52 Not Supposed To Be Here
6/52 What is on me?
7/52 Will You Be Mine?
8/52 I Don't Want To Share!
9/52 Caught Red-Handed
10/52 Can we be friends?
11/52 These Are My Eyes
12/52 New Perspective on Things (Shoot from a unusual angle)
13/52 This is My Nose
14/52 Shot From the Hip
15/52 Easter!
16/52 Doppleganger
17/52 Playing Dress Up
18/52 Silhouette
19/52 Action!
20/52 Playing With Composition: Square Crop
21/52 Picture Trio! (Three pictures in a series)
22/52 Remember The Fallen
23/52 School Pictures!
24/52 This is My Tail
25/25 Show Me Some Muscles!
26/52 Turn Down the Lights
27/52 Support Your Country
28/52 Get Outside!
29/52 Those Are Some Funky Moves!
30/52 Play With Composition - 1:3 Ratio
31/52 Focus on Something Else (Shoot with your dog out of focus)
32/52 Sepia Tone
33/52 Time For a Nap
34/52 Stand on Something!
35/52 Cool It (Cool Tone)
36/52 Warm It Up! (Warm tone)
37/52 Not ok With This!
38/52 Can I Have That?
39/52 Tight Spaces
40/52 Running!
41/52 Get on the Ground! (Shoot from the ground)
42/52 Playing With Composition: Panoramic
43/52 Favorite Toy
44/52 Boo!
45/52 From Up High (Shoot from higher than your subject)
46/52 Living Life Indoors
47/52 Give Thanks
48/52 Playing With Composition - 1:1 Ratio
49/52 Exploring
50/52 These Are My Feet!
51/52 Playing With Composition - 1:5 Ratio
52/52 Happy Holidays!

Don't Feed the Animal

I'm not sure why people are hellbent on feeding dogs they don't know. Usually it's harmless, albeit annoying, but if quickly becomes a serious issue when you have a dog whose life depends on only eating a certain kind of specially-prepared food.

I'm fairly certain that people think Revy is a mystical corgi genie who grants a wish for every proffered treat. Everyone tries to feed her. Is it because she's cute? Is it because she has big melodramatic corgi eyes? Is it because she doesn't look like an oversized twinkie? Whatever the reason might be, people need to stop. I've tried saying no, I've tried intercepting... nothing seems to work. I end up looking like the mean old sea-hag who is too snooty to let anyone feed her poor, skinny corgi. (Can you hear a tiny violin? That's Revy. She things everyone should give her food, all the time.)

I can't just lock my dog in some tower. She needs socialization and exercise. Earlier this week, I decided to add another tool to me arsenal:



"Pay no attention to the vest... give me yer pancakes."


I went to OutrunnrerK9.com and bought her a Julius K9 vest with custom patches. Maybe this will get the point across. We shall see.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How four bags of cypress mulch caused a mental ruckus.

Ask any Iowan about this winter's weather, and you'll hear that it's almost like the entire state has been transported to an alternate dimension. Iowa winters are usually arctic, dreary and grey, with ice storms and blizzards making appearances every week or so. Roads, schools and businesses routinely close early, or don't open at all for days at a time.

However, this winter has been unnaturally warm, colorful and sunny - but with the good comes the bad. That's right. I'm talking about mud.

Mud isn't really an issue for people without dogs. I am obviously not one of those people. I have five dogs in the house right now, and they've been waging a war against my already shabby-looking backyard. Last year we covered the muddy sections with straw, which worked reasonably well but slid around when the dogs got up to speed. This year we're trying mulch. Yes, I know, mulch won't be winning any beauty contests. At this point, I don't really care. I will never have a beautifully manicured backyard, and mulch will look better than what is out there now... imagine a green dog with mange. That's what my yard looks like.

I tested a small area earlier this week. I put down eight cubic feet of cypress just outside the back door, and so far it's working well. This afternoon I put down another twenty-four cubic feet, and managed to cover most of the remaining muddy areas. I'll probably pick up another 16 cubic feet tomorrow. I'm thinking in the spring I may actually mulch the entire yard.

This is a dangerous line of thinking. This makes me think of other things I need to do to the house this summer.

- Fix the brickwork on the front porch
- Fix the basement window my husband broke two years ago
- Paint the trim on the house
- Replace some panels on the garage, or just plant shrubbery to hide the ugly spots
- Paint the trim on the garage
- Clean all the clutter out of the garage (will need to rent a dumpster)
- Move the woodpile outside of the garage
- Install a new door on the garage
- Fix the stupid automatic garage door
- Move the rubbish pile behind the garage to... somewhere else
- Fix the back gate somehow, so it actually opens
- get rid of 2-3 stumps (the dogs love them but they're uggo)
- Buy a unicorn, name it Pistachio and fly to the moon!

... and so on, and so forth.

The problem is, I'm horrible at yard work. My husband is even more useless at yard work than I am. It sucks. I've thought about hiring someone, but I'm sure they'd charge more than I'd be willing to pay. I think about this, and I think about how my husband will be unable to help (because he sucks at yard work) and I get frustrated. It turns into one of those massive hate-spirals that makes me want to move out to some cabin in Montana and never have to see anyone ever again. I wouldn't have to do yard work, because I'd live on fifty acres and have, like three Ovtcharkas. Then no one would be able to get close enough to notice the mud, or the garage door that needs to be replaced, or the siding that could use a fresh coat of paint, or the fence door that doesn't open because the wood has warped. That train of thought leads to my fantasy of living off-grid, growing my own produce, hunting and fishing for my meat, and being completely self-sufficient. I could work all day in jeans, spend all day with the dogs, yadda yadda yadda. I would even get some Indian Runner Ducks. I love Indian Runner Ducks. They look like quacking bowling pins.




.... I think I'll just start by mulching the yard.