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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giving Dogs a Safe, Happy Holiday Season

In the U.S. we are rapidly accelerating into the madness known as the "holiday shopping season" where retailers can expect to either make or break their fiscal soundness for the year. It is a time of over-consumption, family, noise, lights, music in the malls; for some happiness, for others depression; for most of us a bit of all of the above.

If you're looking for advice on how to make this a calmer, more peaceful and meaningful season...probably don't want to look up what Martha Stewart or Oprah are doing...Perhaps our canine friends are better example setters.

Buy only things that you can eat.
Buy only what you can eat in one sitting.
Eat until you have to lay down and nap.

Okay, maybe a dog's formula for success/happiness needs a little modification for people.

Similarly, a person's formula for happiness does not directly translate to happiness for dogs.

A dog needs to have a simple holiday meal: cooked turkey and beans/carrots/squash are okay but no gravy or butter; even Turkey skin can cause upset stomachs.
And please, no cooked turkey bones unless you want to help finance the veterinarian's new boat AND you like the stress of trying to find the vet on a holiday while trying to save your friend from strangling on a bone, or needing to have emergency surgery.

A dog still needs the basics: still need their walk/exercise, their kibble, their clean water, their time to rest away from all the crazy friends/relatives and perhaps overly-sugared up children.
Things get hectic, make sure your dog has a safe zone to retreat to, be it a covered crate, or a separate room; allow no one to invade this space when the dog retreats there.

The best doggy gift is routine: forget the fancy meals or collars with bling. Keep as close to normal for feeding and exercise times and if anything, provide more exercise at a time of year when human emotions can be draining for dogs.

Give a dog a break: we tend to expect a lot from each other at this time of year. Make sure the dog(s) in your family have a safe retreat (this is so important a close reader will notice I'm mentioning it twice.) No matter how people orientated your canine friend is, always provide the option for the dog to get away from the people.
AND know your dog - when she starts to get over tired/over stimulated, put her in a quieter room and give her a timeout to relax, or take her for a walk, then let her nap in a room away from people.

 Remember, your dog will still love you long after the bills at the end of the season have piled up, the new toys are broken, and the New Year's resolutions are making you resent all those hours you spent in the kitchen creating food you couldn't resist. Reward your dog's loyalty and love with predictability, routine, and a safe zone where they can retreat. They'll thank you for it no matter how ridiculous you make them look during the year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Irish Sporting: Irish Red and White and Water Spaniel

Bird hunting season and thoughts of Ireland lead us to today's post about two of Ireland's sporting breeds: the Irish Red and White Setter and the Irish Water Spaniel.

Red and White Setters are a handsome dog suitable to working in the field and living in the home. Pointers who also retrieve, this is a trainable Setter with a lot of working instinct.

This is a Setter that does well as a family dog.
Athletic, this breed should have a couple of good walks a day; playing in a big yard with another energetic dog can also assist this breed in getting some of their energy out.

Irish Water Spaniels are bred to retrieve birds and have been known for hundreds of years in Ireland. 

Irish Water Spaniels are intelligent and said to have a sense of humor - they like to be silly and make people laugh.

An active breed that likes people, they also require regular walks. Irish Water Spaniels are also suitable for agility sports/competitions. 

This breed also works for people with sensitivities to dogs -- as low shedders, this breed will require hair cuts and grooming.

Two sporting breeds with a common homeland and rather different looks. Unique, handsome, intelligent, good with families. The Red and White will shed more, the Water Spaniel will require a slightly smarter owner :-) 

Note: The IWS and Poodle - similar breeds with different birth places. The Poodle probably originated in Germany.  The IWS is a liver color, one of the dark solid colors that a Poodle does not come in. The Poodle is a more aloof and serious breed than the IWS, who has a more coby build than the Poodle. The IWS remains a sporting breed, the Poodle does not. 
Another example of breeds that appear similar, yet are not the same.

Irish Water Spaniel

Sunday, November 4, 2012

PBGV: Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen

Recently youngest sister and her two boys have moved into a new neighborhood. My eight year old nephew hasn't been keen on meeting the other children - he's not big on change and there's been a lot of changes lately. So the other afternoon when my sister took him to a nearby park and he excitedly said, "Hey! There's Bob and Mikey" she was hopeful about new friends he was making in the area. It turns out that Bob and Mikey were PBGV. My sister asked, "How do you know them?" and my nephew shrugged and said, "I just do."

Yup. Seems like my nephew and I have something in common. Meeting the dogs in your new neighborhood is always an important first step of settling in.

 My sister asked me if I had ever heard of the breed...well of course...but her question helped me realize that not everyone is aware of the breed and their fantastic personality - and need for exercise. I'm glad Bob and Mikey's family get them to the park regularly because this breed needs a chance to move.

 This isn't just another adorable breed, this is a breed that was bred to hunt and requires daily exercise periods. If you're looking for a breed suited to an active lifestyle that doesn't take up a lot of floor space - because they'll be on the couch - than this is a breed worth considering.
The name really explains a lot about the breed: Petite (smaller) Basset (low to ground) Griffon (wire/roughed haired) Vendeen (the area of France they originate from.) The PBGV has been hunting small game in France for hundreds of years and maintains it's active, and sometimes independent nature.
This is one dog that will take off running if they get a sniff of rabbit so they shouldn't be exercised off leash unless you have them in an enclosed area. Lots of PBGV people lament that just when they thought they had their dog's recall perfected the dog will get a scent and be gone.

Remember - dog's brain operates on 75% scent and 25% sound. If a hunting breed gets a wiff of game they aren't going to hear you calling them no matter how loud or long you yell and call. The dog will track that trail as far and as fast as he can. Don't let the PBGV's low slung stance fool you, this is a breed that can move.
 This is also a cheerful if stubborn breed that is very fun to live with. Expect a lot more get up and go than the sort of Basset - low to ground - breed you more commonly see. The Basset Hound far outnumbers the PBGV perhaps because they have been used for home vs. hunting a lot longer. The
PBGV is still closer to his hunting roots and still enjoys lure coursing for fun. This breed is too active for families that don't have time to give them three walks/exercise periods a day.

 If you want a lovable, active, short yet nimble dog that people might not recognize but that almost everyone will tell you is adorable, then here's a breed worth considering. Be prepared to spend time with them because like basically every member of the hound family if the PBGV is left alone too much they will get loud and let the world know they are unhappy.

You'll also want to keep your leash and your running shoes handy because this breed likes to get out there and move it. You will have to look long and hard to find a cuter dog that has this kind of personality plus.