Spokesdog's Canine Couch
A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich
Seattle Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show
Mark your calendars for the 138th and 139th show at CenturyLink Field Event Center March 7-8.
The Seattle Kennel Club dog show gives dog enthusiasts a wonderful opportunity to see a favorite breed
compete for the goal of winning best in show. America’s most popular breed, the
Labrador retriever leads the way once again with close to 50 entries for both Saturday
and Sunday. There will be around 30 Papillons entered, about 30 Doberman Pinchers entered along
with 20 Cane Corsi competing. A total of 156 breeds, 1424 dogs will compete on Saturday for
conformation, obedience and rally and a total of 1410 dogs are entered on Sunday.
Cane Corso pup 17 weeks old/c Diane Rich 2015
The Seattle Kennel Club event will give enthusiasts the opportunity to see two new breeds recognized
Jan. 1 by the American Kennel Club as eligible for conformation, the Boerboel and the Cirneco dell’Etna.
Also of interest for dog lovers is the Miscellaneous Class which are breeds not yet admitted into AKC
conformation competition. Breeds competing in this class will be the American hairless terrier,
Berger Picards, the Norrbottenspets and Miniature American Shepherd.
This dog show offers one the best opportunities for members of the public to talk with
breed representatives or volunteers for specific rescue organization and meet a breed of interest.
These representatives will have booths on the second floor of the event center and are always
happy to answer your questions. In addition, there will be a Meet the Breeds presentation in a ring
on the main floor both days to speak with breeders, owners or handlers of selected breeds.
Rescue/c Diane Rich 2015
Meet the breed-Basenji/c Diane Rich 2015
But wait, there’s more. The action-packed demonstration events will include Ewe-topia herding dogs,
Boeing k-9 explosive detection dogs, Seattle Police Dept. k-9 unit, nose work, agility and other demonstrations as well.
Add to these more than 50 vendors selling a wide assortment of canine products.
agility/c Diane Rich 2015
There’s something for everyone at the city’s biggest dog event of the year.
Show hours each day are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is adults $14, children under 4 free, children 4-14 $7
and seniors over 62 $12. Sorry, only dogs entered in the show events will be admitted on the premises.
c Diane Rich 2015 (The super-sized toothbrush used in this photo is for affect only)
Every month should be pet dental month and February is the month the AVMA or the American Veterinary Medical Association has chosen for pet parents to take notice of your pet’s oral hygiene. If your dog’s breath is on the foul side, it certainly could be caused something she ate but also could be a sign that something is amiss with your dog’s teeth, gums or overall health. Tooth decay or periodontal disease is a common condition in dogs and if left untreated can contribute risk factors to your pet’s vital organs.
If brushing your dog’s teeth is not on the agenda it may be something to add to your “to do” list. It is easy once the dog learns to accept your fingers and foreign object in its mouth. If you are parenting a pup, this is the opportune time to get the pup used to you touching his or her gums, gently quickly followed up by a tasty treat. If you parent an adult dog that protests this type of intrusion, then you may need the help of your Vet or trainer to get you started.
There are various canine dental products on the market from toothpaste and a rubber finger toothbrush, to products that are applied to the dog’s teeth marketed to dissolve the tartar.
There are of course dental chews marketed as products made to offer some abrasive action to help rid the dog’s teeth of some tartar.
c Diane Rich 2015
Pet toothpaste may come in a variety of flavors such as beef, chicken or even peanut butter should your dog have a preference. Human toothpaste has detergent in it and is not recommended
for dogs as the product is made for humans who rinse and spit.
Dr. Jan Bellows, president of the American Veterinary Dental College states, “Brushing is the gold standard, and many dogs and some cats will tolerate having their teeth brushed if the introduction to brushing is managed gently and gradually. In addition, several companion animal nutrition companies offer dental diets. The texture of those foods generates a mechanical cleansing effect on the surface of the tooth as the pet is eating. Dental treats such as chews can also be effective, either mechanically by scraping the tooth surface or by chemically removing excess calcium in saliva that could otherwise be deposited on the teeth as calculus. There are also plaque-retardant products available in the form of a water additive, spray or gel, and products that are used to seal the surface of the teeth to prolong the beneficial effect of professional dental scaling. Talk to your veterinarian for more advice about preventing dental disease in your pets.”
According to the 2013 analysis conducted by VPI Pet Insurance the average cost to prevent dental disease in pets is $171.82 but it costs $531.71 to treat dental disease.
Some dogs tend to develop more tartar than other dogs. Raw food advocates state their dog never needs dental care due to chewing on raw bones and being fed raw pet food.
The Take Away
Your dogs annual checkups should include a thorough exam of the pet’s mouth. If between Vet visits you notice a foul odor coming from your dog’s mouth,
if your dog is having problems chewing food or is refusing food, if you see red or swollen gums or if your pet is pawing at her face or mouth it is time to see your Vet.
David Frei, The TV Viewer’s Personal Guide
David Frei, the director of communications for the Westminster Kennel Club dog show hits the ground running this time of year fulfilling media obligations to promote this prestigious annual event. Interviews are just another day in the life of this long time dog lover, competitor, dog show judge and respected co-host of this televised show.
I had the pleasure once again to interview David and his enthusiasm for this sport is contagious. I enjoyed talking with him about the entries and activities.
David began our conversation with a factoid telling me that the 139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show began in 1877 and is the longest continuous held sports event in this country and just by a nose follows the Kentucky Derby that started in 1875. Westminster’s starting gate includes an impressive number of entries that will compete in their group for best of breed. There are 7 breed groups represented at Madison Square Garden The breed groups for 2015 include 473 Sporting breeds, 409 Hound breeds, 427 Working breeds, 3127 Terriers, 368 Toy breeds, 308 Herding breeds and 311 Non-Sporting breeds. The winners of their group go on to compete for the coveted Best in Show title.
59 hopefuls will represent Washington State. Canine competitors from all over the U.S. are entered along with hopefuls from many other countries such as Thailand, Australia and Brazil.
David mentioned the two new breeds recently accepted by the American Kennel Club are the Coton de Tulear and the Wirehaired Vizsla.
Coton de Tulear/Steve Surfman photo Wirehaired Vizsla/National Dog Show photo
Junior handlers are the future of dog shows and David speaks with pride when talking about these young enthusiasts. There will be 88 junior handlers at this show. Junior handlers range in age from 9-18 and David shared with me that there will be more junior handlers from Washington state than any other state.
2nd annual Masters Agility Championship
The sport of canine agility has grown in popularity over the past decade and now is a part of the Westminster activities. When dog lovers picture agility many visualize the agile and lightening fast Border Collie but this competition will delight all viewers by featuring a variety of breeds. There are 330 entries up from 215 last year. Will one of these breeds give the B.C.s a run for their money? Entries include; 1 Pointer, 1 Shiba Inu, 1 Doberman Pincher, and 9 Pembroke Welsh Corgis among many other talented breeds.
With all the whirlwind activities that go on in front of and behind the cameras I asked David what his favorite part of Westminster is and he said without hesitation, “seeing the great dogs, no matter the breed.” Although we as viewers all have our favorite breed or breeds, it is easy to agree with David’s statement, all these competitors are great.
Thank you David, for your time.
The Westminster Kennel Club 139Th Annual All Breed Dog Show
Monday, February 16, 2015 - CNBC Live 8-11 PM ET / 5-8 PM PT
*The Monday show re-airs immediately on CNBC at 11 PM-2 AM ET / 8 PM-11 PM PT
*The Monday show re-airs on USA Network Tuesday morning 8 AM-11 AM ET/PT
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - USA Network Live 8-11 PM ET / 5-8 PM PT
*The Tuesday show re-airs immediately following at 8 PM-11 PM PT only
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
An Interview with Best of Breed Judge Sandy Frei
Winning the coveted Best in Show at the world famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show comes down to the eye of the judge. One judge who will choose one special Afghan Hound out of 21 entries and one Whippet out of 38 entries to represent the best of the best of their breed category is Sandy Frei of Woodinville, WA.. Sandy will make her way back to Madison Square Garden in New York to be part of this A list dog show. The 139th Westminster Dog Show will be held on February 16-17, 2015.
Sandy has an extensive and exciting history with Afghan Hounds and has enjoyed judging assignments around the world so please enjoy learning more about Sandy from her bio.
About Sandy Frei
Sandy was born into the dog show world, and teamed with her mother Virginia Withington in the late 60s to make Stormhill one of the top Afghan kennels in the world! As a breeder-owner handler, Sandy showed CH. Stormhill’s Who’s Zoomin Who to #1 Afghan in 1989, retiring her as the top-winning Afghan bitch of all time. She also handled two national specialty winners – CH. Panjhet of Stormhill (1973) and CH. Calais Sunrise at Stormhill (1999) and numerous other dogs of hers and her mother’s breeding to Specialty, Group and Best in Show wins. Most recently, she had great success in the show ring with Multi-BIS and SBIS Gold GCH. Stormhill’s Sweet Dreams of Raffica, “Ella”.
Sandy has been licensed by the AKC since 1981 to judge Afghan Hounds and in 1997 received regular status to judge Whippets and Junior Showmanship. She has achieved the rare accomplishment of handling two homebred AHCA National Specialty winners and judging Best in Show at the National in 1986 and 2002. Aside from judging many Afghan specialties and at prestigious all breed shows in the United States, she also had the privilege of judging in many different countries around the world – Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, France and New Zealand.
In 1998, she had the honor of judging Afghan Hounds and Whippets at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show. This year she will have the honor again to judge Afghan Hounds and Whippets at the Westminster Kennel Club show. She has also judged whippets at several whippet specialties, large supported whippet entries and the American Whippet Club and Canadian Whippet National specialty shows.
Today she keeps busy breeding, exhibiting, judging and various projects for clubs of which she is a member. She also enjoys volunteering her time in pet therapy service with CH. Stormhill’s Look N’ Good in Red, “Carson”.
Sandy is president of the Evergreen Afghan Hound Club, vice president of the Western Washington Hound Association, a member and AKC delegate of the Seattle Kennel Club, Afghan Hound Club of America, Morris and Essex Kennel Club and Dog Judges Association of America.
A Keen Eye
To the layman’s eye all the dogs at this prestigious dog show look beautiful and appear similar other than possible color differences so I asked Sandy how, within the 2 minute time frame allotted each handler to present their dog to her in the ring she narrows the field to choose the one. Sandy said, ” I have the breed standard in my mind and look for type, balance, examine the dog’s stance and gait.” The gait is loosely defined as the way the dog moves around the ring. Sandy goes on to say, “Afghans should float and move effortlessly around the ring. The dog’s feet have to meet under the center line of the dog.” The American Kennel Club or AKC defines the breed standard for all recognized breeds.
I asked Sandy how she prepares for his assignments as she knows the breeds she is judging so well. Sandy shared with me that she re-reads the breed standard information to refresh her memory. As Sandy has judged dogs in many countries around the world I asked her if there are any differences in judging dogs outside of the U.S. and Sandy said there are different judging rules in other countries.
Sandy told me it was an honor to be invited to be a part of Westminster and when I asked what her favorite part of the whole show experience, she said “it was the energy and excitement of what goes on in the ring and also the excitement from the crowds.”
Dog lovers will have their eyes glued to their TV to see what gorgeous dog will win the superbowl of dog shows airing in February. It is always fun for the dog lover to see if their eye is keen enough to pick what dog will make it all the way to Best in Show. For a pro like Sandy Frei, that skilled eye is second nature.
Thank you Sandy Frei, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview. For my readers, I met Sandy Frei and a few of her beautiful dogs over the years and also attended her handling class with my dog, Chase when he was a pup.
For more information and show times: http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/2015/show/info.html
Enjoy the 2nd annual agility championship as well.
The Westminster Kennel Club 139th Annual All Breed Dog Show Monday, February 16, 2015 -
CNBC Live 8-11 PM ET / 5-8 PM PT
*The Monday show re-airs immediately on CNBC at 11 PM-2 AM ET / 8 PM-11 PM PT
*The Monday show re-airs on USA Network Tuesday morning 8 AM-11 AM ET/PT
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - USA Network Live 8-11 PM ET / 5-8 PM PT
*The Tuesday show re-airs immediately following at 8 PM-11 PM PT only
*The Tuesday show re-airs on USA Network Wednesday morning 8 AM-11 AM ET/PT
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
First national pet specialty retailer to remove all China-made dog and cat treats from stores and e-commerce
SAN DIEGO (January 5, 2015) – Petco today announced it has completely removed all China-made dog and cat treats from shelves at more than 1,300 retail stores nationwide, including Unleashed by Petco stores and online at Petco.com. The move makes Petco the first national pet specialty retailer to complete this transition and affirms the company’s commitment to listening to customers and putting the health and safety of pets first.
“As a trusted partner for pet parents, we believe this is the right thing to do, and we’re proud to take this step in the best interest of pets,” said Jim Myers, Petco CEO. “What we feed our pets matters, and this milestone supports the company’s steadfast commitment to putting our customers, partners, animals and the communities we serve first.”
For nearly 50 years, Petco has been a trusted source for high quality premium pet products and services in local neighborhoods across the U.S. Petco handpicks the best brands to help pets thrive with a broad range of food and treat options that support complete pet health. Petco has not carried any dog or cat food items from China for several years. The decision to discontinue the sale of China-made treats allows Petco to expand the assortment of safe and healthy alternatives that are made in the U.S. or in other regions around the globe that support complete pet health.
The safety and health benefits of food and treats continue to be top concerns for pet owners. According to a recent survey, “Natural, Organic and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S.” by Packaged Facts, 55 percent of dog owners and 48 percent of cat owners agree that fear of pet food contamination and product safety is a key consideration for the pet foods they buy. The survey also found that 61 percent of dog owners and 50 percent of cat owners seek out food made in the U.S. “Customer response to our expanded assortment of treats has been great,” continued Myers. “And we are equally pleased at just how responsive our vendor partners have been in helping us source an entirely new line-up of high-quality, predominantly U.S.-made treat and chew alternatives.”
Petco carries a wide variety of specially-formulated foods for cats, dogs and other pets and is devoted to helping pet parents choose the right nutrition for their pet, both in-store and online. Pet parents looking for alternatives to China-made dog or cat treats will find a broad and completely refreshed selection of U.S.-made products at Petco.
For more information about Petco or to find a location near you, visit petco.com.
There are an overwhelming number of books about puppies on the market that include the usual topics; choosing a pup, preparing for a pup and training. Some of these puppy books, like this one I am reviewing also include general health care tips. My personal library includes many of these books as I like to stay informed, learn something new and find puppy and dog books I feel comfortable recommending to my clients and readers.
This Idiot’s Guide on Puppies covers an array of topics and may be a nice addition to your “how to” library. Some topics in this book are given a paragraph with what I would call quick tips while other topics such as training and health care are more in depth.
Swaim is a trainer and graduate from the well respected Karen Pryor’s Clicker Training School. This author offers tips on clicker training also called marker training which can be a fun way to teach your puppy new behaviors and is a methodology worth a try. Swaim also includes training tips using what is called lure and reward method meaning you lure your pup into a position with a treat then offer that treat or reward when the behavior is completed. For the experienced puppy owner the techniques, some illustrated with photos may make sense to some new pet parents but the newbie may still need the help from a professional trainer to help fine tune any timing challenges.
Deb Eldredge, DVM is a graduate of Cornell and has authored 10 pet books. I thought the chapters about general health care which begins with tips on how to choose a Vet to what to expect during the pup’s first Vet exam, what to know about internal parasites, emergencies and first aid and covers important information every dog owner should know before things happen.
The authors included color photographs throughout the book. I would recommend this book for new puppy parents who need some guidance before the pup comes home and also want to learn some basic training advice.
Published by the Penguin Group
The Top 10
1, I may beg for food but do not know what is best for me. I just want what you are eating or what smells good to me. I am counting on you to know what is best and not give in to me so I don’t get sick or fat. I know how to manipulate you and can outlast you until you cave.
2.I know you think I am finicky with my meals but really I am just holding out for all the treats you give me during the day which can fill me up. I want to be with you a long time so please make sure I have a balanced diet
3. I hear my Vet telling you I am overweight and that 50% of pets in this country are overweight, a nice way of calling us fat. I really, really want to be with you a long time so let’s both watch our weight together this coming year
4. Let’s walk together everyday. And, yes I like long walks on the beach. If I pull you it is not that I am trying to dominate you, I want to explore and you tend to walk too slowly. Please teach me how to walk with you so we both have fun. I have heard about hiking and would like to give that a try with you.
5. When I was a pup you taught me how to sit and a few other things that I don’t remember. I am feeling a little lost and even nervous sometimes. I hope you teach me more things so I can feel smarter and not have you so angry with me for things I do not understand. I really do want to learn and want to think
6. Your friends seem nice and I like some of them but I am hoping you teach people not to stick their face in my face or think I want them to pet my head. Do you like people touching your head? Please ask your friends to respect my space and let me get to smell them first when they come over
7. I hear people saying how cute I am and they ask you if they can pet me. Great. But, please ask them to wait for me to make the first move. I may be uncomfortable with some strangers so if I do not make the first move please please please do not just let them come up to me to touch me. I really don’t like it and they do not seem to care. I want you to care and to protect me.
8. That brings me to other dogs we see during our walks. I hear those pet parents tell you their dog wants to say hi. I am reading the other dog differently and am asking you, no begging you to say no sometime to these people and let me and the other dog relax first and investigate each other if we choose to. Do you want strangers to just come up to you on the street and shake your hand or give you a hug? I know you don’t. I do not have to say hi to every dog on the street, that is not socializing me, that is telling me I am on my own and I can’t count on you to protect me.
9. I want to spend more time with you. You are gone all day, come home and seem to prefer to sit and play games with some device on your lap rather than having me on your lap. I love you and you are all I have.
10. Sometimes I am not feeling well and need to see my doctor. Please don’t wait until I am really sick to take me to my Vet. I really want to be healthy enough to be with you for a long, long time
Wishing you a health, happy, fantastic New Year
I want to thank my readers for your continued support all these years. Your emails are appreciated. I have covered many topics over the years on my blog but if there is a topic of interest you want me to write about let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am looking forward to another year with you!
20 Safety Tips
Tis the season full of anticipation, guest lists, wish lists, boarding passes, smiles, angst, online shopping, brick and mortar adventures, procrastination and seeing family and friends.
Whether you are hosting parties at your home, attending parties, traveling or celebrating in a quieter manner it is important to keep your pet’s safety in mind.
- Prepare your dog now to prevent him from bolting out of the front door if you are expecting guests or deliveries. Teaching your dog a solid stay or wait at the door before the craziness begins may prove to be less stressful for all. If you opt out of training then it is best to confine your dog behind a gate or in a crate temporarily while guests arrive and leave.
- The day before and day of your party, exercise your dog to tire her out especially if she will exiled away from all the activities
- Make sure your guests, especially children are educated on how you want your dog handled. Children under the age of 8 should always be supervised around the family dog even if the relationship has worked out well to date.
- For Fido’s meals while guests are around you may want to feed your dog away from the party especially if your dog has an issue when people are around its food bowl
- Should you wish to discourage your dog begging at the table or eating food that could create a tummy upset, remind your guests not to give your dog any human food from the table or counter. Fatty foods can cause gastrointestinal problems in some dogs. Cooked bones are a no no and may require an emergency Vet visit if your dog scores a bone
- If you believe your dog may think your Christmas tree is his personal gift to mark, you may want to create a barrier so the tree, beautifully wrapped gifts and lovely decorations are inaccessible. Not only can your dog chew on ornaments but may be able to pull a tree over. Secure the tree so it cannot be pulled down.
- Cords used for holiday lighting may draw your pup’s attention so be sure the cords are taped down or inaccessible to your canine chewer.
- Your pet deserves a quiet zone and guests hopefully will respect that area and leave the dog alone
- A new pup is always a magnet for visitors so keep in mind your pup like a human baby has limits. You can set boundaries for interactions with your new addition but you still should manage those interactions
- Keep plants out of reach and keep the pet away from tree water
- Alcohol, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisons, onions, garlic, coffee beans are toxic to dogs. Bread in quantities can expand in a dog’s gut and could be life threatening
- Keep your local emergency Vet’s number handy and know the location of the closest emergency Vet clinic
- Make sure your dog’s collar includes an ID tag in case the dog bolts out the front door, garage or through an open fence gate.
- If you want to share some cooked unseasoned meat with your dog as a few small pieces should not hurt your dog. but, a dog allowed to overindulge could get quite sick. Best to stick with the dog’s regular diet
- Remember to include your dog on your Christmas shopping list. Should you choose to give your dog a squeaky type toy supervise the activity so should she get through to the stuffing or squeaker you can replace the toy with a different toy. If the dog is given edible chew toys, check on that toy periodically to make sure it doesn’t present a choking hazard
- If your dog gets cranky with people around his food bowl, toys, bed or doesn’t take treats gently when offered inform your guests so both dog and guests have a wonderful time
- If the temperature in your zip code is too cold for you bring the dog indoors to enjoy your warm home rather than enduring outdoor conditions. Some dogs with super thick fur prefer the cold but still need to be looked after. Make sure any water in outdoor bowls is not frozen
- Allowing children to chase or harass the dog is ill advised. Although everyone is busy, this may be a good time to teach children how to pet, love and respect the family dog. Not all dogs are keen on hugs.
- Your guests who may have excused your dog’s excited greeting of jumping on them may not be so welcome if wet paws make contact with holiday clothing. Train, supervise or confine your pet so everyone can enjoy the day.
- Wrappers and ribbons need to be discarded so pets with a desire to shred paper products are not tempted.
Wishing you a safe, happy and fun holiday season.
Hiking with dogs makes the experience all that more enjoyable and if your dog can carry some gear all the better. Many years ago I bought a back pack for my previous Doberman but after having him wear it one time and seeing it slip to one side or the other while he navigated trails and steep terrain decided never to do that to him again. There were no packs on the market at that time that worked well for my deep-chested breed.
If you have ever tried hiking with an ill fitting back pack that doesn’t distribute the weight properly or doesn’t ride well on your particular body type you know how uncomfortable it can be which will certainly affect how enjoyable the hike will be. So when a representative from Ruffwear contacted me to review one of their popular packs I was interested. I was given a choice of any one of their packs to review and as I am a day hiker chose the Approach pack.
When it first arrived at my office I handed the pack to a friend to observe ease of use and once one figures out how to put this pack on the dog, suiting up is easy. With the Approach pack, you must put one of the dog’s front legs through the chest strap, and then attach the strap under the dog’s chest to the other side of the harness using the snap closure.
You will need to snug it up as needed. This is the key design element to preventing the pack from slipping off to the side and was made to provide load stability and weight distribution. There are several adjustments to do so the dog needs to be able to stand still until the procedure has been completed.
Originally one of my concerns was a pack slipping off to the side but this pack seemed to balance fairly well. My other concern having a short haired breed and exposed skin under the arm pits was if the nylon straps would irritate and chaff the skin which it did a little bit. That being said, if you do parent a dog with a thick coat like a Husky or Samoyed you still want to check the area under the straps for any matting.
There is a padded assistance handle on the top of the back along with a single-piece aluminum V-ring leash attachment point however I would recommend attaching your leash to the dog’s collar. The pack also offers low-light visibility with reflective trim. The attached saddle bags each have 2 separate zippered compartments to stow an extra leash, first aid kit, water and other light supplies*
To size your dog you need to measure your dog’s girth at the widest part of the rib cage. My Doberman is an extra large.
I found the pack durable, it fit my dog well and offers enough room in the saddle bags for some gear. My only issue as I mentioned was some chaffing under my dog’s armpits from the chest strap that rides right behind the armpit. Ruffwear sells several packs and there are other options. As I only reviewed the Approach pack I would definitely recommend this particular model.
* It’s recommended that your dog carry no more than 25% of their body weight in their dog pack. If your dog is new to dog packs, start with a light load and work up to a heavier load as your dog gets accustomed to wearing the pack.
The Back-Story Of A Rescue Dog May Be Sad But The Future Can Be Bright
c Diane Rich 2014 This 6 year old dog did not work out for the original family so was surrendered at a shelter. He was adopted and going through the acclimation transition. The new family has young children so more care must be taken to facilitate a safe and loving relationship
Many pet parents across the U.S. have decided to adopt rather than shop (buying a dog from a breeder) for their next new furry family member. Depending on where you live your choices for adopting the next furry love of your life may limited to your local shelter or you may have additional options through one of many rescue organizations. Rescue organizations are diverse as some cater to small dogs and other rescues may cater to dogs with special needs. There are rescue organizations that take in senior dogs and even groups founded specifically for purebred dogs such as our Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue www.spdrdogs.org. Unfortunately there is a need for all these safe havens for the discarded, abandoned or stray dog who wait out their time for our love and the stability of a furever home.
Time Is Not Always On Their Side
Millions of dogs every year enter the shelter system and these unfortunate castaways or strays are warehoused with other hopefuls in an overcrowded shelter system. This noisy, stressful, concrete environment may be where they live out their last few days. Sadly, many shelters due to lack of funding and space and the never ending supply of new dogs entering their system cap the time each dog has in that facility. If that dog is not claimed, adopted or pulled by another rescue within a specific timeline the dog is killed.
A few shelters around the country are no kill due to private donations so have the funding to enable that non-profit to tirelessly implement strong marketing efforts to help rehome each of the dogs. Some shelters with the help of dedicated volunteers offer stimulating activities for the dogs such as some play time with volunteers, leashed walks around the property and even the opportunity for the dogs to have social time with other hopefuls.
@ Shelter/shy dog c Diane Rich 2014
The dog that is scared and backs off of people is less likely to be adopted. If the fearful dog is adopted that adopter must know or be willing to learn how to help this dog trust and how to build this dog’s confidence. It won’t happen overnight but I can promise you it is worth the effort.
Every week I am lucky to work with wonderful new clients who decide to bring one of these valuable dogs into their home as a permanent member of their family. I absolutely love the process of helping both owner and dog develop a great relationship. Whether the dog presents mild to severe behavioral challenges it doesn’t matter, if the client is committed to the dog I am committed to the client and their new addition as the process and end result can be so rewarding for all. However, sometimes during this journey the rescuer also needs rescuing which can prove to be both challenging and rewarding.
Transition To A New Home
The transition from shelter or rescue to a new home can be stressful for the new dog. Some dogs make themselves at home quickly while others take more time to acclimate. Some dogs can take up to around 6 months to acclimate and the new family will learn new things about the dog along the way. While a dog is at a shelter or rescue some, not all canine behaviors are documented, some behaviors may be misrepresented based on how evaluations were implemented and understood and some behaviors may lurk right under the radar. A dog may also suppress some behaviors while in the system. Then, when the dog enters the new home behaviors such as shyness around certain family members becomes worse, nervousness around specific stimuli is observed, excessive barking begins, resource guarding around the food bowl or toys that may have been initially forgiven when mild has gained some momentum and is now dangerous. These behaviors may blindside the new pet parent.
Pet Parent Pity
The common emotional ground I observe with many new wonderful families who opened their heart and their home to a dog they rescued can be one of pity for their new family member. In some cases, the worse the back-story or the more shy the dog the stronger the pity. The smaller the dog the more a well meaning new owner wants to protect, even over-protect and coddle their new addition. When pity is the foundation of this new relationship many owners with good intentions shower love and attention on the dog trying to make up for what that dog most likely missed before finding a furever home. Love and attention is an absolute but not to the exclusion of helping that dog build confidence.
shelter/c Diane Rich 2014 Dogs need to be showcased to potential new families and shelters offer different protocol for viewing but I wonder the short or long term effects on the dog of having a parade of people walking by windows or kennels and sticking faces against the glass and tapping
on the glass or sticking fingers through the fencing.
Coddling Can Cripple
Dogs need our love, support and protection but unfortunately coddling a needy dog can unintentionally cripple the dog emotionally or exacerbate the dog’s discomfort and lack of trust around people, other pets or novel stimuli. When the rescuer believes they need to compensate for the dog’s past by coddling the dog rather than implementing techniques to help build the dog’s confidence that dog’s timid or defensive behavior can become that dog’s normal. The smaller the dog the more that timid or fearful behavior is accepted and both species can develop an over-attachment to each other.
c Diane Rich 2014 This cutie was recently adopted and upon my initial evaluation presented general anxiousness along with separation anxiety
Personal Void To Fill?
What I have observed over the years is that some people enjoy the dog’s over-attachment to them and deep down take comfort from that dog’s neediness. When the dog’s behavior becomes too problematic such as excessive whining or barking along with presenting other anxious behavior or the dog begins growling or going after people who are in that dog’s space or when others are near their human, that pet parent may reach out for help. Help arrives but when the trainer lays out a sound behavior modification plan that plan may be met with varying levels of resistance as some pet parents are conflicted with any follow through due to their perception that building the dog’s confidence may mean it won’t need them anymore. I am hopeful your trainer explains that the dog WILL need you but that need won’t be based out of fear it will be based out of a strong, trusting relationship.
Puppy on left was one of a litter at a shelter where my clients volunteer. She was scared of other dogs and is now a social butterfly. I brought the trained dog on the right as her calm, social role model.
c Diane Rich 2014
Relish The Baby Steps Of Progess
It is relatively easy for any person to learn how to train and work with a compliant puppy or older dog. Being a part of that process is rewarding. On that other hand and paw it is not so easy to work with any dog presenting behavioral problems because it takes so much patience for many owners to stay the course and accept the fact that the dog’s progress and change may only be realized in baby steps. It can take even more emotional fortitude from a trainer to address the human equation of that change. But, I can tell you, it is most rewarding to facilitate mutual trust for dog and family and to be a part of building the dog’s confidence and other skills. It is incredibly gratifying to help develop a stable relationship between the pet family and dog and the dog and the outside world.
Tips For The Rescuer
1. Love your new addition which is the easy part and if you observe the dog becoming too needy or overly-attached to you or a family member or becomes overly-anxious when out of your site don’t wait, hire an experienced behavior expert.
2. Don’t believe unacceptable or unhealthy canine behavior will go away on its own. Training begins the day you bring the dog home. Get referrals for an experienced behavior expert, not just an obedience trainer from your Vet, the rescue organization or from friends.
3. Spending 24/7 with the new addition can create anxiety issues for the dog if you do have to leave the dog alone at some point. Imperative to set the dog up for success by implementing the skills to help the dog to learn how to trust you will return.
4. Be honest about your own personal needs with regard to possibly using the dog to fill an emotional void such as the loss of another pet, loss of a family member or close friend, illness, your need to be needed, or plain old loneliness. Filling a void can be a challenging job description for any dog.
5. With any new dog it is important to pace socialization activities such as introducing your dog to new people, places and other pets. More stimuli is not better.
Controlling My Own Emotions
As I work with so many dogs out of rescue it is easy to feel anger, pity and sadness when I hear some of the back-stories of dogs that through no fault of their own were abused (isolation is abuse) or discarded due to reasons that can easily bring my normally realistically optimistic, positive mood to a screeching halt. While my heart goes out to these dogs it also has room to love them into stability. If an owner is on board with training and behavior modification strategies they will realize how resilient dogs can be. A rescued dog can become the rescuer helping other humans and dogs heal.
My Promise To You
I can promise you if you guide your dog through the acclimation process and through proper training strategies, not old school dominance theories, include structure, pace socialization opportunities, be patient with the process and stay motivated even with progress coming in baby steps and love your new dog not pity or coddle the dog you will enjoy years of smiles with your new furry family member.