Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Foster Dog

His name is Hugo.

He's about four years old, black and rust, cropped and docked. He was turned into my hometown's shelter as a stray, but failed their temperament test through no fault of his own. Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to have non-Doberman folks assess Doberman temperament.

I evaluated him a week ago, and decided there was nothing wrong with this silly boy. I picked him up this past weekend, and immediately sent him off to our vet up in Ames for neutering and vetting. I hope he's not too mad at me for that!

If anyone is looking for a handsome DoberBoy, please consider applying for Hugo. He's an impressive dog - he won't be winning any conformation shows, but he's definitely got that "stallion" look that male Dobermans are known for. He's a leaner, and loves plopping his head in your lap for petting.

He's probably not a candidate for homes with other male dogs, or with cats. I haven't mingled him, but at this point I think he'd be best as a single dog, or maybe with another large breed female companion.

As for kids, due to the reason why he failed the shelter's temperament test, I'm going to say 12yrs old and up for now. I'll be honest, he barked at the evaluator when she invaded his personal space and stared into his eyes for a prolonged amount of time. I think his actions were completely justified, but I can't trust a young kid not to do something similar. Any potential adopter of my boy Hugo can't be a moron. (Apologies to all the morons out there... I know you want Hugo, but you can't have him if you're dumber than a box of tacks.)

He's the quintessential "bubba dog" - a dog that would be at home at a tailgating party or fishing trip.

More photos later. Internet is being a jerk.

I promise I'll stop.

Wow, nine days. I can't believe I've ignored Prairie Dobe Companion for nine whole days.

I'm really going to try to stop raving about my damn shoes, but I finished W1D3 in my Spyridons today and I wanted to give everyone an update. I've learned a few things this week about running in VFFs...

1. I'm faster. I actually look behind me after a set and I'm all WHOA I just doubled my distance in the time allotted... holy cow!

2. I'm more efficient. Um, yeah. More distance traveled with less energy expended. I think that's the definition of efficient.

3. Different muscles are used. Wow, didn't know I had some of these muscles... cool!

4. I'm waaaaay more agile. I don't trip or twist my ankles, and running is even more fun when you can zip around obstacles like ninja. I may occasionally pretend I'm a ninja. I'm a nerd, we've established this long ago.

5. My joints don't feel puffy. I rarely hurt after running shod, but sometimes my joints woudl feel puffy - especially my right knee. This is understandable, as I have an old injury in that knee. With my Spyridons, I feel no puffiness whatsoever.

I love these foot-coverings!

So here's the deal. I'm not going to rave about these anymore. I'm mostly going to stop talking about them on Prairie Dobe Companion, because I think I'm beginning to sound like a follower of some strange cult. I will not refrain from grinning maniacally in public and whispering, "I love these shoooeeeeesss!" if you're around, but that's something that can't be helped.

Here are my favorite pairs, in order:

1. Komodosports - they are comfy, the liner is soft, they fit perfectly and are easy to get on. As a plus, they look awesome.
2. KSOs - really hard to get on, but the groundfeel is awesome and they're very glove-like.
3. Spyridons - definitely not an everyday pair of VFFs, but as running shoes they cannot be beat. I wish they came in a strap version. I'm not digging the laces.
4. Treksports - I know, crazy, these are my least favorite pair. They're easy to put on, but the uber-chunky lugs on the toes sometimes feel weird.

I'm also putting a little widgety thing on my sidebar for running the C25K program in Spyridons. I finished C25K in normal shoes, but I'm starting over in Spyridons because, quite frankly, I don't want to run in normal shoes any more.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

I have options.

I went "home" this weekend.

It was fun, and I accomplished a lot. I got to visit my parents, which is always a treat. I got to eat at The Vernon Inn (a Greek restaurant that has been a Cedar Rapids institution for more than thirty-five years) one last time before it closed. I got to participate in a 5k in honor of one of my high school teachers, who is currently waiting for a heart transplant. I got to spend time with many of my friends from high school, which was definitely the highlight of the weekend. Before I headed home, I got to do some work for Illinois Doberman Rescue.

I was going to write about Cedar Rapids tonight. But after my run tonight, I decided to talk out (type out?) a mental rat-nest that I've been trying to straighten out for a few weeks now.

First, I'll explain why this is bothering me so much.

I love to run. I always have, though I must have forgotten for awhile. Starting running again has marked a real shift in the way I live my life. I know that sounds corny, but it's true. To make it even better, my best friends from high school also love running. After the 5k today, we all headed to a late breakfast - we talked about other races coming up, as well as the Warrior Dash and the Run For Your Lives zombie run. I got excited about running all over again. Come on, doesn't the Warrior Dash look fun? I wish I was able to do it this year... it kills me that I won't be ready for it.

So I got home and decided that I was going to run a 5k tonight. I've done it before, so I didn't think there would be any huge issues. It was somewhat of a disaster, to be honest. I had forgotten to charge my iPod after my drive to-and-from Cedar Rapids, so it died at Mile Two. Drat. I can't run and listen to myself breathe at the same time, so I decided it was a sign from the gods and headed back.

As I walked home sans-tunage, I had some time to think about stuff. Yeah, stuff. I finally admitted to myself that I hate my shoes. Specifically, the uber-expensive Nike Shox Roadsters I run in.

I knew this was going to happen. While I don't like that it eventually has happened, I'm not upset about why it happened.

Let's be realistic. I can't spend 7 days a week wearing minimalist footwear and then expect to be able to instantly switch to a pair of elevated-heeled, padded clunkers and run three miles. I spend 99% of the time teaching myself to move correctly again, only to do this to myself on my my runs:

I have a few options.

Option One, a.k.a. the HELLZ NO Option. I can go back to wearing normal shoes all the time. You can see why I call this the HELLZ NO Option. I'm not doing it. I refuse.

Option Two, a.k.a. the Cheap Yet Frustrating Option. I can continue to run in my clunkers, but decrease the distance. I don't like it, because it doesn't really solve anything. It's the "treading water" option, or possibly the "running down an upward-moving escalator" option. I keep doing what hurts, but make it hurt less by getting further away from my goals for an indefinite amount of time.

Option Three, a.k.a the Aren't You Already Poor Enough? Option. This is the option I'm leaning towards, even though I can hear my debit card screaming Noooooo! Nooooo! Nooooooooo! from inside my wallet. I need to buy a pair of Vibram FiveFingers specifically designed for running, and take the time to learn how to run in them. Yeah, I'll have to decrease my distance for awhile, but ideally I'll be able to work back up to three miles again.

After much deliberation (not really) I decided on Option Three. It just so happens that REI is having a huge sale, and I was able to get 20% off a pair of Spyridons. These will arrive on my birthday.

Awwwww yeah, they're not black! I can finally bring a little vibrancy to my Vibram FiveFingers collection! They are Spyridon LS design - specifically designed for trail running. My research did show, however, that they're fine for road races as well - especially once they're worn awhile and the lugs have a chance to be worn down a bit.

I can't help but feel a bit guilty. I got them on sale, but I still spent a fair amount of money on them. But I keep telling myself:

1. it was inevitable
2. being a cheapskate won't make your shins stop hurting
3. they will enable you to reach your goals
4. it's your friggin' birthday... TREAT YO SELF!

Yep. I feel pretty good now.

Monday, May 14, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things.

For lack of a better thing to write about, I figured I'd share a few material things that make me happy.

1. Fetching Tags
I know they're expensive, but if you look hard enough you can find killer deals and discounts. I don't think I've ever paid full price for a Fetching Tag.

Kaylee's taglines are Honey Badger Don't Care, Prepare to Die, My Ship Don't Crash and Shiny! Jayne's tagline is Ain't a Girl, but he also has a fat brass nugget with just his name. Ronin's tagline was I'm a Leaf on the Wind, which is a bit sad because the character that said that line in the movie 'Serenity' died shortly after uttering those words... and Ronin is gone too. Ada's tagline was Two By Two... to match up with Revy's tagline of ...Hands of Blue! When Ads went to another home, Revy got a new tag that says I Swallowed a Bug. It doesn't fit her personality, so she'll be getting another tag as soon as another sale rolls around. Talla's tag is Nut Up Or Shut Up, for obvious reasons. Vanna White is our concrete Doberman, and Advice: 25 Cents was supposed to be for Talla, back when we thought her name was going to be Sage. Get it? Sage Advice? Har har har.

2. Vibram FiveFingers
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I should shut up about these ridiculous shoes already. Too bad - you can't stop the signal!

To reiterate... yes, they're comfortable. Yes, I like them. No, they do not have arch support - the whole point is that your feet actually work as nature intended, and your arches grow strong enough to support themselves. (It's like yelling GET A JOB! to your arches.) Yes, the will most likely eliminate your foot/ankle/back/hip pain. Yes, they improve your posture. Yes, you can run in them. No, it doesn't actually feel weird having stuff between your toes. No, it doesn't hurt when you step on rocks or hot pavement. Yes, you can wash them in the washing machine as often as you'd like. What do they feel like? Do you remember when you were a little kid and you ran barefoot in the grass? Yeah, that's how they feel. Pretty cool, yes? Yes.

3. Snakes
I don't care what you say, I love snakes. They are adorable, with their cute little tongues and googly little eyes and silly little frozen facial expressions. Wait, I take that back... pythons have silly little frozen facial expressions. Colubrids just look annoyed and indignant.

4. Paco Collars
I have an addiction, but I'm not admitting that I have a problem. Yet.

5. My New Camera
Out with the old, in with the new. It was hard saying goodbye to my nine year old Canon Rebel XT that had served me well since 2003, but it was time to move on.

6. Raw feeding (and my new deep freeze)
Come June 9th, I will have 300lbs of raw meat in my brand new deep freeze. We dropped a large amount of money on the freezer, but it'll pay for itself in only a year of feeding raw instead of kibble. It's huge, so if you ever need a basketball player to disappear, I'm your gal. Just kidding... I won't have room for any dead bodies once it's fully stocked with raw for the dogs.

I also like Netflix, Naked Juice, Pirate's Booty, and GoDog. And the Oxford Comma. And beginning sentences with a conjunction.

It's past my bedtime. G'nite.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I don't really know how else to title this post.

I've had Dobermans for more than a decade. I have been blessed with an amazing mentor, who has probably forgotten more about Dobermans than I will ever learn in my lifetime. Through my mentor, I've been able to meet so many wonderful assets to this versatile breed that I love with all my heart. It all began with a pet bitch.

Let me tell you, that dog was my entire world. She's the reason why I'll never be without a Doberman, and why I'll never own anything but Dobermans from here on out.

Yep, that's Ilsa, tackling a tire. She was ball crazy, toy crazy, food crazy, you name it. She was incredible. In a way I failed her, because I never knew what to do with all that drive except to make her into a kick-ass pet. She never quit on me, not once, even though she was my first dog and I made a ton of mistakes with her.

Soon thereafter I got my second Doberman. A decent sized chunk of his pedigree was what most people would consider "working lines." He was another great dog, and another dog whose full potential was never tapped. Like Ilsa, Ronin was an exceptional pet.

... even if I did find this sign on his crate one day, after leaving him in the care of the guy I eventually ended up marrying.

Neither one of them was around long enough. It wasn't anyone's fault, but it did teach me how much of a "heartbreak breed" this really is. Dobermans aren't a healthy breed, and anyone that tells you otherwise is either naive or hiding something. That may not be a popular thing to say, but I'm saying it. The best we can do, as guardians of this breed, is to know what we have and to support breeders who care about the health of their dogs.

I feel my breeder does an excellent job of this. Not only does she health test, but she knows her pedigrees like the back of her hand. She has been breeding for 40 some-odd years, and in that time she's gained enough first-hand knowledge of the dogs in her pedigrees to fill a library. Ten libraries. But that's neither here nor there, I'm rambling. I'm trying to say my piece without saying the wrong thing, or taking things too far, or unintentionally sounding stupid, or... whatever.

Anyway, after Ilsa died, I got Kaylee. She has been my rock-star dog. If ever I could point to one of my dogs, past or present, and say, "that's the type of Doberman that I'd like to forever have in my life," Kaylee would be that dog. She does everything I ask of her, and more. My guess is that the day she dies, she'll still be asking me "what can we do next, Mom?"

Ah yes, then there's Jayne. Jayne is a great dog too - all of my Dobermans have been great dogs. He's liking his new sport, and he's improving every time we train. He got his first sleeve bites today, which lit up my day because I had no idea when he'd ever be given the chance to bite a sleeve. Part of me was paranoid that he'd be on a pillow forever. My silly kissy boy is growing up!

But what I like most about Jayne is that he's even tempered. He's sweet, he's loving, he's not afraid of weird noises or variable surfaces. He's reliable. He's not spooky, and he doesn't "fly off the handle" at non-threatening stimuli. He thinks before he acts. I can trust this dog. He'll never find himself on a podium but I'm okay with that - I know what I have, and what I have is an easygoing, club-level dog that I can learn on without worrying about whether or not I'm not doing him justice. This dog is giving me all that he's got, and that's all I ever ask. The next Doberman I get will be "better suited" for the sport, but for now I'm content with learning the game with my best friend.

I'm no idiot. I don't pretend to know everything about Dobermans, because in truth I still have a lot to learn. In Doberman High, I'm still a pimply sophomore getting shoved into lockers by the seniors. But I do know enough to know what makes a good Doberman, and I know enough to be able to identify a poor specimen of the breed. Here's just a bit of what I do know....

Breeders should health test, and know the health of their lines. Breeders and owners should know the scope of the breed's known health problems. There is no excuse for not breeding without any knowledge of the health of your breeding stock. Any breeder that doesn't have health as a top priority is not doing right by the breed, and should not be celebrated.

Dobermans are a thinking breed. A Doberman should be trustworthy, level-headed and true. Even as puppies, Dobermans should be confident and aware of their surroundings, and be able to adapt to their environment with grace and fortitude.

Dobermans are a medium sized breed, and any boast of an oversized Doberman is not impressive in the slightest. A 110lb Doberman is akin to a 95lb Malinois, or an 80lb Springer Spaniel, or a 40lb Pomeranian - it's inappropriate for the breed.

Dobermans aren't cheap, because "doing it right" when it comes to breeding and raising Dobermans isn't cheap. See above, where I talk about health. As long as a breeder is doing the applicable health testing and titling their dogs in something, there is no reason why they cannot or should not charge what they do for their puppies. I'm not forcing you to buy a Doberman - if you don't like the price, that's fine. Get another breed, or give a home to one of the many wonderful, deserving Dobermans in rescue. But do not expect to get a Doberman from a good breeder for the price of a tricked-out iPad.

I obviously know more about the breed than that, but those were the major points I wanted to hit on tonight. I think I've said most of what I wanted to say without getting upset or pissed off or frustrated.

Dobermans are my breed. I love them more than I love anything. I won't abandon them - not in the pursuit of titles or fame or fortune. I am proud of my dogs, and I always will be.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Weekly Shopping List

I joke about this, but it's true. Dog training (especially when you're starting out in a new sport) is basically a way to generate weekly shopping lists.

After a scorching hot weekend of training, I went out and bought a hat, sunglasses and industrial strength sunscreen.

The next weekend was bitter cold and rainy, so I invested in rain gear and rubber boots.

I won't even mention the various leashes, collars, harnesses, toys, tugs, dumbbells, dumbbell alternatives, clickers, and treats that need to be purchased. It probably doesn't help that I must color coordinate everything.

Then there's the bag to hold all the new junk, and the vest to hold some of the junk that you need close-at-hand if you're clumsy like me. It never ends.

Tonight I bought battery-operated fans to attach to my crates. Soon I need to invest in another line so I can have one attached to a harness and one attached to a collar... because there is no way I can physically check a 78lb red 'n' rust cannonball-dog on a harness, and stop him just short of the helper. Revier is a bitch!

Last weekend I really wished I had long underwear, but as I type this and look at the 85-90 degree forecast, I doubt I'll need them on Saturday.

I need a bigger car for all of this junk. And to think, this madness all started with a free dog.