Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On St. Patrick's Day We're Irish

In the U.S. we're very quick to adopt other people's celebrations, we don't need to know what is being celebrated. As a result one of the sayings we have here is, "On St. Patrick's Day, I'm Irish."

For the average person in the U.S.,  St. Patrick's Day is the day cheap beer is dyed green and sold in pubs, you have the annual cabbage and corned beef dinner, and you watch a parade with everyone dressed in green and/or wearing green plastic bowler hats; lots of people like to bring their canine companions along for the fun.

Some people like to put costumes on their dog friends. Leprechauns are popular as is the more generic 'Irish themed' outfit.

Now honestly, who doesn't love an excuse to dress up like a 
Leprechaun? Particularly when they look good doing so?

Not every person wants to find or make a costume though. After all, you only use the outfit once or twice a year (this is a look that could do double-duty as a Halloween costume for those who are on a lower budget.)  Some people, however, prefer the non-costume option. 

This is when vegetable hair dye becomes your friend.


Despite our sometimes reputation as "ignorant Americans," there are some of us who realize that when it comes to iconic Irish colors, green only represents part of the country. So despite the rather contrary notion of wearing orange on St. Patrick's day, there are some who try to be a little more politically correct and pay homage to all of Ireland by wearing the green and the orange.
A nice hat is also a good way to slip on a bit o' the Irish -- easy to get on and off and adding a dapper air to anyone's wardrobe.

 Others decide to go all out and adopt a dazzling, "Hollywood" look, allowing their inner star qualities to shine out and dazzle the world. After all, it is a celebration and for some reason, most Americans seem to love a parade and love a holiday, whether they know what they're celebrating or not.
There are a lot of creative ways to find "your look" that allows you to celebrate in your own style.

Dress up, dress down. The important thing here is to have fun. And lots of people seem to think a parade is fun (I confess, I've never exactly caught the parade bug...but if I were going to a parade, St. Pat's is one I'd go to.)

Young or old, there seems to be something about a U.S. Saint Patrick's Day for everyone. Whether its the dog bones, the green (vegetable died) water or hair, the fancy hats...what's not to like?

We do like a good time here, in fact, I'm guessing like all citizens of the world, we prefer a good time. We might just be a little quicker to celebrate without knowing exactly why we are.

And in the celebration spirit, our own Jenny, Lil, and Grace decided to done a bit of Irish. 

Jenny - consider her Scotch-Irish :-)
Lil, avoiding the camera's eye and Gracie -- let's just say, she was not amused by being in any way costumed....

And Gus, wearing a positively green bow tie of his own.

Any day that allows us to hang out with our canine friends should be considered an opportunity; so even if you aren't near a major parade route, remember to have fun and enjoy the friendship of other like minded people and dogs. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Continential Shepherds: Belgians

The time has come to talk about the group of Continental Shepherds which includes: Belgian, Dutch, French, and German. In order not to appear to have favorites we shall progress in alphabetical order through these breeds; since the Belgian Shepherd includes four varieties, we shall give one whole post over to this group.

Belgian Shepherds
The four varieties of Belgians are: Groenendael, Laekenois, Malinois, Tervuren. When the Belgian Shepherd was first being organized into a breed, these types were recognized as different coat variations of the same breed. (In the U.S. they are recognized as having their own breed standards - it wasn't my idea.) Overall, these are square, athletic, intelligent dogs who have worked on farms and with police; they are versatile, athletic dogs who do best when they have a job to do. They can also be excellent pets for families that train and exercise them and I am aware of some working as service dogs for the disabled.

This is the black long haired member of the Belgian family. The dog to the right is working/living on a farm in the U.S.

This is perhaps the variety that is still showing up most often in working farm environments outside its homeland. (Feel free to disagree with me in the comment section - I'm using personal observation more than scientifically gathered data in making this statement...I've found examples of this breed on farms in multiple countries.)


This is the rough, or wire haired variety of the breed, fawn with black overlay and black mask.
They are also the least common of the four varieties and not as well known. In the U.S. this is the variety that is not currently recognized (registered with) the American Kennel Club in part because there are not enough members of the breed in the country.

I would love to have one of these fuzzy-wuzzies one day if fate should ever care to make that happen....


This is the short, straight haired variety; their color is fawn with a black overlay and black mask. The amount of black overlay apparent varies considerably from member to member of the variety. This is the variety that shows up most often working with police departments. I know of police in both the U.S. and Canada who used to work with German Shepherds and now work with Malinois -- this breed has stayed closer to their working origin and the blood lines have been less adjusted for showing at bench trials.


This is the long haired variety that is fawn or grey, with a black overlay and black mask. This may be the most popular variety - I am certainly seeing them increasingly often. They are showing up at more and more small dog shows and over the last decade they've become almost common place as companion dogs.

In my opinion, these are all lovely variations on a great breed. They do require firm but fair handling and need exercise. Overall, I would not recommend these as dogs for first time dog owners -- but I would say that about any breed that still has strong connection to their working roots -- dogs that are smart and willing to work need consistent training and preferably a job to do. If one lacks experience with dogs than I've noticed it often is not a good idea to start with really smart, energetic dogs.

If however, you have a job for a dog to do -- agility, sport, obedience etc.,--  then here are four variations on a great working dog. Medium-large, short or long haired, dark or light colored, square, athletic build and eager to work with people.
And as always, I would love to hear reader's experience with Belgian Shepherds; if you have pictures to share please send them along as well. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blogs With Dogs

 Today I'd like to share some other dog blogs; some I've found in my own wanderings around the Web, others have been sent to me by alert reader Cate, who lives with the lovely Bearded Collie, Stella, in London, England (not to be confused with London, Ont. Canada.)

 We'll start today with our new Web friend, Sue Kottwitz, whose dog blog can be found at Talking Dogs Blog: http://www.talking-dogs.com/
 Sue shares interests with those who read here in dog adoption, rescue, and doing away with puppy mills.
 Sue's canine friends who appear regularly in her blog are: Jeffie, Rudy, and Lucy.

Sue makes jewelry, and other useful things like dog leash holders featuring dog art, some of which can be found here: http://www.forloveofadog.com/


As well as being loving companions, Jeffie, Rudy, and Lucy hold company positions: Shipping, Security, and Quality Control.
Once again reminding me that Jenny, Gracie, and Lil are rather underemployed at this time....

And least Jenny agreed to be the avatar/iconic representative for me on this blog...unlike Gracie who kept looking out the window or Lil who keeps trying to see how close it is possible to get to a camera when someone is trying to take a picture.

Gracie "working"

This picture to the left is another typical Gracie "pose" as she buries her head under a blanket.

Next we have a combination of posted pictures and Web sit...not exactly a dog blog but such an adorable dog that we cannot overlook him.
The dog's photos are at this site:

 The pup pictured is Mr. Cutie, a Spanish Water Dog - he owns humans who own a bakery - Ayres the Bakers - which you can visit here: http://ayresthebakers.com/

 Mr. Cutie, pre-hair cut

 If you're  ever in the area (Nunhead, London and Welling, Kent, England) this looks like a very lovely set of bakeries to visit. (I do love a good bakery - even more so when the bakers live with well cared for dogs.)

The Early Ayres shop

An Ayres the Bakers Cream Cake

A British blogger that Cate has brought to my attention is Beverley Cuddy at Cold Wet Nose Blog: http://coldwetnose.blogspot.com/

Beverly is the editor and publisher of Dogs Today magazine; a look at the cover of the March,2012 issue:

As well as reading the interesting blog, those who would like can obtain subscriptions to Dogs Today at Beverly's site.

Next we have a blog that offers insight into life on a working ranch, Range to Range, a blog about "working life on a 250,000 acre ranch in SE Oregon":

While the posts cover a "range" (sorry for that) of topics, there are a pair of working Maremma sheepdogs and a Golden Retriever who live on the ... range...and show up often in the blog. This picture of one of the two year old Maremmras working with the sheep really made me chuckle:


I believe this would be a version of relaxed guard duty - meant to lure predators in by making them think the guard is either sleeping or has passed away during the night.

 Not wanting to ruin the working reputation of these pups, I decided I better include a picture showing they also know how to use the more common guard dog poses.

Cleutus and Bruno live with their sheep, cattle, chickens, milking cows and goats, and people -- the people are Petey and Randyman. Petey is the author of the blog; she has a nice post up about the orphan lamb that was keeping her company in the house dated February 18, 2012.


To skip back to nearly where I started - Sue shared a dog related YouTube video on her blog today that I would also like to link to here - it is worth watching:

Thanks much Sue for linking this so more people could see it.

There are many more dog blogs and spots were dogs are being discussed out there on the Web. Please share your favorites, including your own spot with us. As always, we love to hear about how dogs are living elsewhere, to share pictures, and to have little glimpses into the lives of people and dogs around the world.

And thanks much Cate for taking time to hook me up with some links :-)

P.S. I've tried to triple check my spellings and make sure I've gotten people's names and businesses right - please forgive any errors you may find, and bring mistakes to my attention so that I may correct them.