Category Archives: Rants

UKC Obedience – Real Dogs for Real Assholes

Yes, my title is harsh…but read on and you’ll understand.  If you don’t then leave a comment and let’s discuss!

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This past weekend was the 2014 UKC Premier and as is tradition I was there with my mom and friend.  It’s tradition for us to stay in a hotel and enjoy all 4 days of the show.  Usually I show my mom’s Silken Windhounds for her but this year I managed to seriously injure my calf while practicing flyball with my golden.  However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the show!  I am currently processing the photos I took and will get those up here in the next few days.  I have a few posts to write about the 2014 UKC Premier but I want to focus on something that happened that put a damper on our weekend for a bit.

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The UKC Premier features all major dog sporting events:  confirmation, junior showmanship, obedience, rally, agility, lure coursing, weight pulls, dock jumping, and barn hunts (apologies if I missed your sport).  We had spent most of the weekend ringside watching confirmation and decided on Saturday we wanted to go watch some obedience.  Housed in another part of the expo center, we grabbed our chairs and headed off to watch obedience.  There were several rings for rally and several for traditional obedience which was running novice and open.  My friend and I decided we wanted to watch some Open, walked to the ring,  put our chairs against the back wall about 6 feet from the ring and sat down.  We weren’t sitting there more than 5 minutes when a ring steward came up to us and told us we had to move because we were a distraction to the dogs in the ring.  We apologized, picked up our chairs and moved.  Now mind you, we were a good distance from the ring and were positioned by the garbage can and doors; we weren’t talking and couldn’t have been a bigger distraction then the people coming in and out and walking past us.  The dirty glares we were getting from other obedience exhibitors should have killed us on the spot.  Seriously… you would have thought we were screaming with bullhorns at a ballet.

We tried watching her... I'm sure she did great!

We tried watching her… I’m sure she did great!

We set our chairs up and are promptly told we can’t sit there because it’s a fire hazard.  We were a little perplexed.  There were no signs and no indications of where we could and couldn’t sit.  Another UKC representation comes up and tells us we have to sit behind the yellow line as per the Fire Marshal.  We look around and realize that behind the line means squishing back against where all the obedience exhibitors were crating.  There was very little space so we pull our chairs back and start to squeeze in.  Now mind you, there is almost NO space for us to put our chairs so we’re trying to do the best we can.  As we’re attempting to get settled, one of the obedience exhibitors very rudely says to us, “Don’t set your chairs up there, my friend will be coming back soon and you’ll be in her space.”  We look around, flabbergasted.  There is literally no other space for us to set up.  The obedience exhibitor crates are literally wall to yellow line and then have their chairs set up in front.  You couldn’t squeeze a chair in anywhere if your life depended on it.  So, we picked up our chairs and left.  What a shame!

I remember when I first started I showed in obedience and they were the most welcoming, easy going people you could ask for in the dog sport.  What happened?  We were so unwelcome and treated rudely that it put a little bit of a damper on our Saturday.  The problem was compounded upon by several factors.  First, the crating.  Confirmation exhibitors aren’t allowed to crate in the same building so why should the obedience folks be allowed to?  If it’s literally the only space for them then they should be limited in exactly where they can crate.  Second, there was no set space for spectators.  The exhibitors were literally taking up all available space behind the yellow line so a spectator could not watch.  The UKC needs to set space aside that can’t be used for crating or exhibitors so that someone coming into the show can sit, watch, learn and enjoy this part of the sport.  Third; the absolutely horrible attitude and treatment from the obedience exhibitors themselves.  There was no reason they couldn’t have moved to make room for us.  Instead we were told to not sit because that was their spot.  Last time I checked, obedience was a dying sport and I don’t think having an ultra-elitist attitude is the way to bring people in.

I think what perplexes me the most about what happened is the attitude of ‘being so quiet you could hear a pin drop’ in the obedience building.  I understand not wanting there to be kids running around screaming or other major distractions but since when do obedience trained competitors need a completely distraction free environment?!  I remember when I trained we trained in all types of conditions and made our own distractions to help our dogs learn to focus.  If your dog can’t handle a couple of gals sitting in chairs watching 6 feet from the ring then you probably aren’t ready to be competing.

Now, you might be reading this thinking I’m a confirmation elitist and I’m not.  I have put obedience and agility titles on dogs as well as finished dogs in their confirmation championship.  I have waited two years for a performance Border Collie to show in flyball, agility and obedience.  I love all aspects of the sport and it pisses me off when one type of exhibitor acts like they are better than another.  All aspects of the sport have their own challenges and require training, patience and dedication.  We get enough gruff from those outside the dog sport that we don’t need to be assholes to one another.

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Beautiful Dog Photos – Please Give Credit

I came across this blog post the other day on a site called Dogdose.com.  The post, 13 Jaw Droppingly Beautiful Photos for Dog Lovers does indeed have some absolutely stunning photos of dogs.  As someone who aspires to take pictures that tell a story like these do I was awed, as I’m sure many were.  I almost posted the link back to my Facebook to share until I realized something.  None of the images in the post are credited.  Not a single one.  At least it looks like none are credited.   It’s not until you scroll all the way to the bottom and see the small text called ‘source’ do you get to see who actually took them.

The ‘source’ post gets it almost right.  It lists a description of the photo (not the actual photo name) along with the name of the individual who took it directly below each image.  However, there’s no links to the photographer’s personal site or Flickr Album or other source.  I suppose this is fine for most folks as they just want to see an image and move on.  However, there’s richness to be found in each artist’s portfolio if you take the time to dig further.

For example, this image has been one of my all time favorites:

 

I cannot say enough about this amazing image.  If you give a direct link to the image (you can find it here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterprzybille/3915636451/ ) you’ll find a little more context for the image and the story around it:

Alaskan Husky Tex dreaming in the landscape of Northern Norway.

Dog days!

A typical day within the short and intensive period of “Indian Summer” in beginning of September. After the leaves have turned following an onset of frost but just before the first snowfall. I took along Alaskan Husky Tex on a day trip through the coloured scandinavian mountains.

While taking a break he immediately layed down to take a nap.

I could really feel his deep satisfaction resting in his northern territory.

When I took a look through his Flickr account I was blown away.  This image is just one of many.

My ultimate point here is that we need to make sure we give credit in a way that is easy to find, immediate and allows us to easily continue looking at the artist’s work.  In the day and age of everyone having a camera everyone suddenly thinks that they are a photographer and it’s easy to take images like this.  It’s not.

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AKC shows now allow what?

I had the pleasure of attending the Michigan Winter Classic this weekend in Novi, MI.  It’s been awhile since I’ve attended an AKC show but a little shocked at the direction the AKC is headed in.  It’s no big secret that they’ve been struggling the past few years as revenue has dropped significantly from less registrations and a drop in those who are showing and even attending.  I don’t want to focus on those reasons here; perhaps it’s a topic for another post.

As an example, The Detroit Kennel Club will not have their annual dog show at Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI this year for the first time.  This benched show, in it’s heyday was an amazing collection of dogs, vendors, dog sports, educational presentations and a place to go and spend the day shopping, looking at dogs and watching everything from competitive sports such as agility, obedience, flyball and confirmation to demonstrations from K9 police dogs, search and rescue, to herding.  It was the dog show you attended every March in the area.   It was a long day for those of us showing (and I experienced it quite a few times) but ultimately was a fantastic event.  Unfortunately, entry prices started going up which led to a drop in entries; if you don’t have enough dogs for a major why bother?  Ticket sales inside the event also skyrocketed which led to less attendance.  More and more sponsoring and major vendors started pulling out.  I can remember when I was much younger, going to Cobo Hall and starting at one end and working your way to the other end just looking at the vendors and collecting free samples.  You’d get to the end and have multiple bags of things to take home for your dog.  Now, there are no brands and vendors who give out free samples.  Want a small ‘show special’ bag?  That’ll be five bucks for what we used to give out as a free sample.  It also took you 1/2 the day to get through all the vendors.  Recently, vendor quality went down and you started seeing less and less more niche vendors and a lot less vendors; I mean a lot less.  The reason for this was most likely due in part to the extremely high fees that they were charging for a vendor table.  Space ranged anywhere from 1k to 1.5k for a small area.  I know as I looked into potentially getting a table when I was baking treats for Thurston’s.  Then, the final stake through the heart came when agility was no longer showcased at the event.  The crowd loves watching agility and without it a non-repairable hole was created for the DKC at Cobo Hall.

Last year Cobo Hall was bleak.  Vast areas of empty space served as a reminder of what the show used to be.  It’s a vast combination of things that led to this point.  The DKC decided to not run the show this year.  Sad really; it was the one event you saved your money for and marked on your calendar each year.  DKC’s site (http://www.detroitkennelclub.com/) says that they are currently looking for another venue to potentially hold a show but they need to find sponsor’s.  Purina, which was one of their biggest sponsor’s 3 years ago and when they pulled out things went downhill.   I hope they do find a space and if they do I hope they have learned from their past mistakes.

That brings me back to the Midwest Winter Classic.  It had a decent amount of vendors for the size show it was.  It had agility, confirmation, obedience, and rally.  There were demonstrations such as herding, meet the dog, spend time with a handler and junior showmanship clinics.  The floor was bustling with dogs and people, both spectator and show attendee alike and that’s where my issue with what they did comes in.  Typically, at AKC shows only those showing or demonstrating are allowed to bring their dogs.  As a person who shows their dogs they tend to know the ‘rules’ of how you and your dog behave at these types of events.  This even however saw a change; spectators could also bring in their dogs.  Let me let that sink in a moment…  anyone, so long as they paid the $10 entry fee could bring their dog in.  AKC and the show sponsors encouraged this by providing open clinics, and an area called “My Dog Can Do That” where you could come in and try out some agility with the help of professional trainers.

According to their website:

Can I bring my dog to the show without an AKC registration?
Yes, if you would like to participate in the “My Dog Can Do That!” event. You may register at the AKC booth at the show. Participating dogs must be at least 6 months old and have proof of rabies vaccination. Please bring your dog on a buckle collar and 4 to 6 foot leash. No retractable leashes, prong collars, chain choke collars or head halters allowed.

However, no one was stopping them at the door.  You had to register at the table which meant you could easily come in, not register and simply walk around with your dog.  I saw a ton of dogs with prongs, chokers, retractable leashes and a few head halters.  You would think a show chairman would have seen this and questioned it.

I get why they are doing it.  If you can bring your dog you might be more likely to come.  More people coming means more people paying and that’s good for the pocket books.  Also, bringing more people in also means that they are getting exposure to what the AKC is and what they could potentially do by being a part of it.  All good things for them.  However, for those showing this provides a bit of an issue.  While some people have manners and common sense on how their dogs should behave in public with other people and dogs, many do not. As I mentioned,  I saw people come in with long retractable leads (can we banish those sometime soon?).  They often were not keeping a close eye on what their dogs were doing and they had a tendency to just go where they pleased.  Even those who had their dogs on a shorter leash still let them just go up to strange dogs to sniff.  Not all dogs wants to say ‘hi’ nor are all dogs going to take kindly to yours jumping in their face.

If AKC wants to allow spectators to bring in their dogs to these events there are better ways to do it.  For starters, they should require proof of vaccinations at the door, it’s small thing but it should just be done.  A great idea for additional revenue and keeping behavior under control is to only allow dogs with a CGC certificate to come in (I know…I know… we can discuss CGCs another time).  This not only encourages people to make sure they have dogs that behave but it opens up revenue for AKC and testing facilities.   Even better would be for AKC to or whichever kennel club is hosting the show to charge an additional fee for each pet being brought in.  Included with this fee is a small class that they MUST attend directly by the entrance.  In this class an instructor would go over behavioral rules, how to handle their dogs around other people and dogs, and just discuss common courtesy about the event and having your own dog there.  They would then check vaccine records and equipment.  Perhaps a quick ‘aggression’ check could be done as well to ensure the dogs belong out in public.  It doesn’t have to be a long session either; just enough to make sure everyone starts on the same page.  It would also give the Kennel Club and AKC a change to again talk about the merits of joining the club.

I doubt this will happen as at the end of the day AKC is a business and like any other business it needs to make money to stay alive.  I think however, there are better ways to go about it and still stay true to their mission.

Image

This sign was placed at the front entrance. A great start but they needed signs throughout. They also need to have signs at the back entrances about proper dog handling at these events.

On Thursday I’ll be posting some images from the show.  Make sure to check back then!

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My Letter to Petco (recent experience)

Blizzard needed a rabies vaccine and I saw no reason to pay the outrageous office visit just to get that vaccine done.  So I took him today to get that vaccine.  Low cost vaccine clinics are a great way to go if you have healthy dogs and just need something done without having to step into a vet’s office.  They are by no means a replacement to regular vet care but in some cases they just make sense.

Needless to say, the line was LONG and I had to wait about an hour.  While in line I had an experience that really turned my stomach (my ears were already turned by the guy in line with the dog that had the shrillest bark I’ve ever heard and barked non-stop without this guy blinking or even once telling his dog to stop – as a matter of fact when I corrected Blizzard for something he shot me the look of death).  Anyways, this particular stomach turning event prompted me to write the below email to Petco:

 

I attended the vaccine clinic in the store on July 16th.  One of the groomers was going up and down the line talking with people, giving treats and discussing grooming services.  She had with her a brown, long coat Chihuahua (who was a great behaved and good looking dog).  However, I was appalled when she asked the woman in front of me about her Chihuahua’s and if she wanted to breed.  She said “My puppy is AKC registered and has papers…I really want puppies…just let me know if you ever want babies.”  I observed her doing this to another woman with a Chihuahua later on in the store.

I find this extremely unprofessional and appalling for anyone to do but an absolute shame for a Petco worker (who had her Petco branded grooming outfit on) to be doing to random people.

I myself own a purebred and have no problem with people wanting to buy, own and breed purebred dogs.  HOWEVER, asking random people in line at a vaccine clinic is pretty low.  She would be considered a BYB (back yard breeder) by any standard.  You breed to BETTER the breed, make sure they are a good specimen and are healthy.  I know this isn’t Petco’s stance on breeding (I should certainly hope not) but when representing Petco as a worker she represents your brand and I’m certain that’s not the image you want.

 

Seriously….shame on that groomer for asking random strangers in line at a low cost vaccine clinic.  If you’re going to breed, for the love of all dogs everywhere, breed responsibly!

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Craigslist – Examples

Please see my previous post for the longer “rant”.  I wanted to post some stellar examples of what I see and what’s so sickening about them.

First up, a lovely example of complete and utter responsability.  You get a lab/golden mix (looks like a Flat Coated Retriever to me) and don’t bother to research size only to find out that the manager doesn’t allow big dogs?  Oh, and if you’re going to post, check your grammar.  

Hi i have a 6 month old puppy that i need to rehome due to manger don’t allow big dogs. She is all up to date on her shots. She loves kids and other dogs. I don’t know about cats but I’m sure she would get along with cats she would not hurt a fly. She’s a lover. She is Potty train. And is kennel train. She likes going to the dog park and play with the other dogs. I am asking 150 for her rehoming fee. I put alot money in this pup and found out I cant have a big dog. If you think you may be interested in this sweet loving puppy then feel free to get back to me. I can be reach by email or text at 971-340-7558.
Thanks. 

Next we have a great example of someone who just doesn’t care about their pet anymore.  Also, notice they say the dog has “slight food aggression” and follows that up with “But what dog doesn’t?”  Umm…hate to tell you but a well trained and socialized dog doesn’t have food aggression.  

My wife and I will be moving to a place where we will not be able to keep our sweet Maebell :..(
She is a 7 years old, 55lbs, akita/border collie mix. She is low maintenance, independent and a great guard dog.
She is at her best as the only pet in the household (will do O.K. with other dogs, just not smaller dogs) and is very loyal once she gets comfortable.
She has SLIGHT food aggression toward other dogs (but what dog doesn’t??).
She is O.K. with kids, but sort of avoids them – but has never snapped at anyone.
She tends to roam if not fenced in and doesn’t necessarily come back when called. Other than that she is a GREAT and loving dog.
She comes with three different leashes, a harness, a food/water dish, a dog bed, 2 brushes & nail clippers. (We may ask approx. $50 for all of the supplies, but this is negotiable.)
We are VERY sad to have to find a new home for her, but we know that she will bless another family as much as she has blessed us.

And finally…. wow…just wow.  First, this person didn’t know a black lab would get big.  Second, they didn’t realize a dog actually needed training?  What do you mean…they don’t just come perfect?  Oh and she has two small kids so no time for the dog.  How about integrating the kids into what you do with the dog?  Going to the park; take the dog with you.  Go for a walk with the family.  I bet the young kids would love to play fetch.  Perfect outside dog?  I bet he wasn’t that way until you threw him outside and forgetting about him. Oy…

Have to give away our 8 mo. old black lab because he is just too big for our place. He also needs to be trained. I have two little kids and just have no time for him. He would be a perfact outside dog. We’ll give away his dog house, too. Don’t hesitate to call or text any time for more info. (360) 608-1843

 

Okay… enough ranting on Craigslist.  You get my point. Dogs take responsibly and forethought.  They aren’t a plant you can get, a piece of furniture or a new toy and suddenly decide you don’t have time or interest for them. I wish people would please think of these things before hand.  We live in a “throw away” culture and animals have come to constitute something we can just through away.

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Craigslist – A pool of heartbreak and anger

I regularly check the pet section on Craigslist.  I don’t know why I do it.  It’s a lot like watching a train wreck and my heart alternately breaks while I seethe with anger over some of the things posted there.

There are so many dogs that people need to get rid of for various reasons that you wonder why people bother getting a pet in the first place.  I think they hold grandiose dreams of what it will be like to have a pet and all the wonderful things they will do with them.  They get the puppy/dog home and reality sets in.  Dogs are WORK.  Dogs cost MONEY.  You can’t just throw them in your backyard and call it done.  More people need to carefully think about what it takes to own a dog BEFORE they bring one into their home.

I really get mad over the posts of people looking for a “free puppy”.  There was a post awhile back from a guy who was looking for a free puppy for his wife’s birthday.  He had spent all his money on supplies for her party and had no money to purchase a puppy but wanted to get her one as a gift.  While the sentiment is nice, if you can’t afford even an adoption fee from a shelter you have no business getting a dog.  If you have no money how will you buy supplies?  Food?  Pay for vet bills?  Think please…

I understand that life circumstances and changes in lifestyle can often cause you to have to re-home a dog when all other options are exhausted.  There ARE almost always options though.  If you purchased your dog from a breeder, the breeder is always the first option to take the dog back.  This is of course assuming you bought from a reputable breeder in the first place (which you really should do, avoiding any back yard breeders).  If you have a purebred you can also always find a rescue group that will take them in, foster them, give them the attention they need and make sure they are placed in the best possible home they can find.

That being said, there are far too many situations I see on Craigslist that are appalling.

Craigslist recommends you always ask a re-homing fee to ensure that they are going to an actual home and not a lab or testing facility.  However, just how much you should ask for seems to be in constant contention.  It’s clear that there are people who are simply trying to sell an “oops” litter of puppies or those who are trying to make a profit.  If you’re concerned with whom your dog is going to then you need to check them out.  Go with your gut.  Never set a fixed re-homing fee.  If you meet someone and they seem like they are good people who will give your dog a great home and they want to pay you less, take it!  The number one priority here should be finding your dog another fantastic home (presumably better than you could provide).

What I find most appalling are the people who are getting rid of their dog because of the following:

  •  We are having a baby.  AND?  A baby doesn’t mean you need to ditch your dog!  Does this mean when you have another baby you’ll have to get rid of the older sibling?  “I’m sorry Joe.  You’re 2 now and we’ve decided to have another baby and we just won’t have the time to pay attention to you anymore so we’re finding you a new home.”
  •  Our dog needs someone with a (bigger) yard.  Did you think about the dog’s needs before you bought them?  With the internet age we’re in there is NO excuse ever for not understanding your breed before you buy.  You can almost always make it work in any situation.  Go for daily walks.  Find a dog park.  Sure, you’ll have to put extra time in to make sure they are getting the exercise they need but you should have thought about that people acquiring a dog.
  •  We are moving.  Unless you’re moving to another country you can find a place to take your dog; especially if you only have one.  It’s just a convenient excuse to get rid of him.
  •  It’s me or the dog (usually in the context of new relationships).  If this isn’t a red flag I don’t know what is.  You have a dog.  You love your dog.  Your new boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife doesn’t like dogs.  Umm… that’s a huge compatibility issue in my book.  Perhaps you weren’t really into dogs in the first place.  If that’s the case you should have never gotten one to begin with just to get rid of at the drop of a hat.
  •  If we don’t re-home these puppies they’ll have to be gassed/put to sleep/thrown in the river.  You can tell YOU’RE responsible.  Ever heard of spay and neutering your pet?  You ended up with a litter you want to simply sell off for profit with no real care to the animal.  Get responsible.  Threatening people on Craigslist is ALWAYS a good idea; trust me, they love it.

Get responsible please.  Think BEFORE you get to a situation where you need to use Craigslist.   As I said, there are some legitimate situations but I believe 90% (or more) are not.

Individuals on Craigslist tend to police themselves so there is a built in community function to keep illegal posts and back yard breeders off.  However, I think some people go too far in their definition of a BYB or back lash against those who might want a purebred…but that dear reader is another post for another day.

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