Sunday, January 30, 2011

More weekend caching adventures

What a beautiful weekend for getting out.

This was an interesting cache. While I admire the difficulty, I have to question the safety of the surrounding trees:

Bullet had a blast - Brayden threw his toy once.

I was walking ahead when my brother called me. "Um, Tracy... your dog won't let my son move forward". It was true. Brayden would move and Bullet would pick up his toy and place it, and himself, directly in his path. I guess he figured that if the kid threw it once, he'd throw it again. I had to call him off so poor Brayden could join us!

A good Saturday was had by all.

Today my friend and her Smooth Collie service dog puppy in training joined me on the hunt. Frisking trees is part of the game...

Since Lexis is still in heat and Bullet got to go yesterday, I figured Minigo would love an outing. She did. I really need to trim her feet.

I love this picture of Wizard posing for a photo:

Afterwards we went to Subway where he crashed on the floor after his full day in the forest.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Breeding practices & puppy mills

While I'm on the subject of responsible breeders, here is a timely video about a puppy mill bust that shows the polar opposite of responsible. It's worth the 18 minutes but I warn you, it's hard to watch: CAPS vs. Bauck

It serves as a warning to breeders - be careful to whom you sell your puppies.

As a puppy buyer, don't support commercial breeders like this by avoiding purchasing at a pet store or from the classified ads. Research, research, research. Take your time, interview breeders and don't rush when searching for your next companion. Don't be fooled by the misconception that by buying that puppy in the window you are "saving" it. You are perpetuating the problem. It would be much better to visit your local shelter or rescue group.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's on the agenda today?

1- Research de-whining a dog (kidding)
2- Buy a thong for my bitch (not kidding)

Lexis has started her second heat, six months from the first. I was hoping she'd put more time between them but it was not meant to be.

The last thing anyone wants are Schnauzer/Shepherd crosses. Kev & I know the routine and it's no big deal. When we aren't home I'm super paranoid and crate Lex in the basement with the solid door leading down firmly shut. I've read too many oops litter stories and have no desire to write my own.

Lex is supervised at all times when let outside. Our next door neighbor fosters a bulldog for a breeder.... He knows and enjoys his job! And I doubt the Seal cross and Mennonite mongrel in the yard behind us have left their yard long enough for a vet visit, never mind a neutering. Next to them we've got an intact American Bulldog, and a couple of doors over from us there is an intact Shepherd, beside them it's an intact Rottweiler.

Is it just me or is that a whole lot of canine testosterone for one North American, tiny city block?

In my case, Bullet is co-owned with his breeder. Bullet's got a nice pedigree, he's a good worker and his heath tests have so far been excellent. Will he ever be bred? Highly unlikely.

I'm keeping Lex as-is, for now anyway. I am not a breeder and have no desire to become one, but I want to see how she grows up. Will she ever be bred? Highly unlikely.

Glory has been spayed.

Because you CAN breed a dog does not mean you should. It is one hell of a responsibility that too many take lightly and do for the wrong reasons... like because they think they'll make money. Or because they have the best dog ever, and he/she is special. Guess what? Death row at your local shelter is full of amazing dogs, out of special dogs just like yours.

So you want to breed your dog?
Ask yourself a few questions first:

Is your dog from a reputable breeder who tests the health, mind and body of their breeding stock and has all the titles and documents to prove this? Can they also provide pedigrees full of dogs that have themselves been tested? (Not just one championship or two, four generations back. That is meaningless.)
No? Then don't breed your dog.

Are you prepared spend the money and time it takes to test your dog's health, mind and body? To get the "proof"... X-rays, blood tests, titles, etc. before breeding?
No? Then don't breed your dog.

Anyone can say their dog would excel in field trials, on the schutzhund field or in the agility ring, etc. Many do just that - talk. The real proof is in the judging. Training and trialing tests the dog's structure and mind. Their willingness to please. Their longevity and overall health. Their temperaments. Most puppies end up in pet homes but the traits above are all necessary for a well-balanced, healthy, happy family companion. By testing their dogs, breeders KNOW the good and the bad and can communicate that to a puppy buyer and make a good match.

No dog is perfect. Are you willing to be honest about your dog to puppy buyers as well as other breeders? Hiding a health problem or temperament fault does not improve the breed. If, for example, your stud dog starts to have seizures at the age of 5 you can't pretend it doesn't happen and keep allowing other breeders to use him. No matter how nice he is, or how much money you'll lose. The breeders who have used him should be informed. Those would be tough calls to make and some people could get angry with you... Can you be honest and deal with situations like this?
No? Then don't breed your dog.

Do you have a waiting list before you breed? Reputable breeders don't need to advertise their litters in the local classifieds, on Kijiji or Craigslist.
No? Then don't breed your dog.

Not everything goes as planned. Are you prepared for emergencies with the bitch or puppies? These emergencies can and will hit your emotions, bank account and sleep patterns. Are you willing to chance losing your special girl?
No? Then don't breed your dog.

Are you willing to spend time with the litter and provide enrichment? Handle the puppies, introduce them to novel objects, textures, sounds, etc? Keep track of each dog's personality? Keeping them in a kennel until they are sold is not acceptable.
No? Then don't breed your dog.

Are you prepared to keep any and all puppies that don't find the perfect home? One person's "pick of the litter" is different from another person's "pick of the litter" and it's your job to match the best dog for the home. There is more to it than first-paid, first-served. It is also very possible to end up with more puppies than homes, do you have the space, time and money to deal with this?
No? Then don't breed your dog.

The job doesn't end there. Will you provide support for your puppy buyers? Will you take back any dog, at any time, in his/her life?
No? Then don't breed your dog.

So you still want to breed your dog?

Before you do, visit your local shelter. Offer to foster a few rescue dogs. Get a good look at the other side and fully understand it.

There is a market for well bred puppies and breeding your animal is not a bad thing to do if you do it well. Just realize the job you are taking on and do the best you possibly can. Don't do a disservice to the dog population by adding more lives that end up on a cold table at the shelter, breathing their last breath... all because you need some money or because you think your dog is special.

Breeding is one hell of a responsibility all right. Proceed with care.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just call him Bumble.

It's hard to get an action shot of the solid black Bullet on snow. As he dive-bombs the drifts and the flakes coat his back he becomes more Bumble-like which makes the job easier. My Abominable Snowman.

Bumble rises from the elements...

...and starts to shed his winter camouflage.

I can only hope this means spring is on it's way?
Super early? Probably not.

Winter isn't too bad, but I do prefer sandals to my 10-lb Sorels (disclaimer – I don't know their actual weight) and the ability to use my hands without gloves... And the sun on my skin, I do miss the sun.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Walking in a winter wonderland

Lex ran around the bush and stopped dead, her back end taking a second to catch up to her front. The challenge from Bullet is definite.
Capture the frisbee if you can, I dare you.

In the house their play of choice is wrestling. Outside, their game changes to what I like to call "Capture the Kong". (even if it's not a Kong they have) Bullet runs ahead with the toy, Lexis chases him. They can do this for hours.

Bullet will sometimes engage in a game of tug for a while. On his terms. When he wants the toy back all it takes is 'the look' and she obliges.

I love this dog.

Here he's wearing his leather collar with the shotgun shell rivets that I bought from an online bird dog equipment store. It's perfect for a dog named Bullet!

Lexis loves this dog too.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Leaping Lagomorph Lunacy

My posts seem to be all about Geocaching lately. While I'd imagine that most people do the majority of their caching in the warmer months, my stats show I'm a winter girl. Schutzhund training moves to the back burner, tracking isn't taking priority of my time and the dogs love frolicking in the snow. Enter caching season!

Last weekend I solved and found "Leaping Lagomorph Lunacy". For my log I wanted a picture of the dogs "leaping" and I ended up with the synchronized bound through the snow shown above. That they are both lunatics and have huge, rabbit-like ears goes without saying.

I heard that!

Look at how thick the ice is on the riverbank!

Overall it wasn't a very successful caching day for me. The coordinates for the first stage of a multi eluded me, the second was up a tree I'd have to climb (not something I attempt when I'm alone with two dogs), the third was frozen under rocks, and the last, electricitree, was across a river that I couldn't find a safe way over. Reviewing the area on google maps when I got home, I discovered I may have to wait for the water levels to drop (they've been high after a recent thaw), or I can try to tackle it from the far end of the park.

It's in the tree on the other side of the river... so close, yet so far away!

The area is a nice place for a walk so I'm looking forward to going back. Bully and Lex don't mind one bit!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Call in THE NOSE!

"THE NOSE" suits Bullet, he is a Schnauzer after all.

There was a cache hidden underneath this daunting expanse of rocks.

"Bullet, find it!"

He made the tough job look easy and saved me from wet mittens and cold hands.

Now for a small container hidden in a forest of fallen trees...

Good boy!

Lexis is learning the game but it will be a while until she's got the experience Bullet does. I'm interested to see how her style develops and if there will be differences between the dogs, and what those differences will be.

Between finds she strikes a pose for the camera.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

A tired dog is always a good dog :)

The wonder of first time cachers

Taking family out for their first time Geocaching showed me how different it is caching with kids. They LOVE the "treasure" after the find. I may just stock up on little toys and drop them off when I see a cache a low on inventory. As an adult I don't pay much attention to the trinkets. I'll rake through them to see if there are any Travel Bugs or GeoCoins, and if there is a patch I'll trade for that, but I have no interest in the rest.

It's here!

To see the kids evolve from unsure of what to do, to finding them on their own at the end was exciting. It's a great activity for families to get out and do together, and once you have your equipment it's free but for the gas. Gets you off the couch and outside!

Puzzle caches are among some of my favorites, they work the brain as well as the body. I'm determined to solve Ode to a wonderful, magical animal one day. Preferably by spring.