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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

English Bull Terriers without Borders

I have been very fortunate, through the 'magic' of internet and this blog, to meet some English Bull Terriers and their people from several other countries.

Today I would like to share some pictures shared with me. From Jessika in Yorkshire, England & Jessica in New Zealand. (You don't have to be named Jess to have a Bully.)

First,  Daisy and Badger, who live in Yorkshire with Jessika. Jessika first shared her two pups with us months ago. I thought if I was talking about international English Bull Terriers I would have to update some photos of these two lovelies.


Daisy and Badger are cuties for sure. Since Jessika has in the past given us permission to share pictures of her two I thought it might be fun to see them back when they were babies.

This is Daisy at about eight weeks of age.

And this is baby Badger. How cute are these two?

Jessika is great about posting pictures of her two online regularly. They've been on YouTube, Facebook, and Flicker. That's a lot of publicity! Thanks again Jessika for letting us share here too.

Our next pup is Cookie.

Jessica tells me that overall she finds people in New Zealand are curious about the Bully breed. This seems to be a common experience amongst those who live with Bull Terriers. People are usually curious to learn more, to get a little closer, to touch those fun faces.

 Notice that whatever country they live in the English Bull Terrier tends to be a friendly dog that gets along with other animals and is very dedicated to their people.

They also share a tendency to zoom around at a frantic pace until they crash. They play like their lives depend on it. They have little or no sense of personal body space. And they just love, love, love their people. I do maintain they aren't a breed for everyone; they certainly are a breed that the people who do enjoy cannot imagine living without.

I certainly hope that in the future we can share more pictures of more Bull Terriers. If you are inclined to share please do so.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Valentine's Day and the One you Love

Obviously this will be about spending Valentine's Day with the one you can truly count on to be there for you - your ever faithful canine companion. The significant other that you almost always enjoy spending time with. Not that there's anything wrong with giving the people in your life some time. Just as long as the people do not take away for the dog's enjoyment of quality events on this special day.

Of course, we all know now that dogs are not allowed to eat chocolate because it can be toxic to them.
Many dogs refuse to believe this so we must protect them from themselves. I once knew an aged, chubby English Setter (who had been born deaf.) I knew her in the time before it was widely known that chocolate was bad for dogs. In her youth she used a kitchen chair to maneuver her way onto the top of a refrigerator where her young owner had stored a full, very large box of chocolates that she received as a Valentine's Day gift from her beau at the time. (I'm not sure if this was a comment on the beau or just a real piggy need for something she should not have had that lead to this action.)

While she did survive this encounter with five pounds of candy just fine, and while she couldn't hear her owner's dismay at coming home to an empty heart shaped box and a kitchen floor scattered with those little papers that chocolates are placed in, she still did a very naughty thing that could have hurt her. So help the canine you love and go to more effort when it comes to hiding the bad stuff.

 It probably would be a good idea to have a little something special on hand to replace the heart filled with chocolate, which dogs can't have but which they seem to instinctively crave. Anything that people make such a fuss over is probably good, they know, so try making a fuss over something that they can have and enjoy.
Like a healthy meal.

Everyone enjoys a nice meal but remember - don't overdue it. Notice in the picture to the left that the wine glass is for the person - not the dog. Drinking non-water beverages is generally never appropriate for dogs, even with a special meal, on a special day. Again, keep the non-appropriate choices carefully hidden to avoid temptation.

Also, don't overdue the quantity of food given; true this is a special day but you don't want to create an upset tummy for your friend, and a cleaning mess for yourself. Moderation in all things.


Of course, many of us to like to dress up for the special meal and special day.

The question may be more a matter of should you choose formal or informal attire? Both have their merits and your choice may have more to do with the day's planned activities.

If a gourmet meal is the focus of your day, then formal attire may be appropriate - it isn't too hard to loosed a tie before laying back to let digestion take place. Or slipping of a fancy collar.

A simple string of beads and some nice stockings also make a statement...perhaps a statement that the people in a dog's life have focused their time and energy in the wrong place but a delightful appearance can still be temporarily obtained.

Photo by Doxione

If you have a more active day planned, then temporary gear that can be adjusted or removed as activity requires would be a good idea. You don't want a good romp on the beach or a hike in the woods to be missed just because the good clothes are on - so people should make sure they pick something that is quick to take off - the dog...we're still talking about the dog here.

If you're going to be outside in a chilly climate - as it will still be where I live on Valentine's Day - then you may want to choose attire keeping this in mind. On the other hand, if you live in a warm climate, lighter gear is appropriate.


What to do for quality together time (aside from eating) will depend on you and the canine in your life.
Some couples prefer to cuddle up with a good book, or a couple of magazines, and spend the time together away from the rest of the world.

If you're going to be reading, as my mother always said, use a good reading light and don't forget to put on your glasses.

Maybe you are more for outdoor activity.
If you live in a warmer climate
then you may want to start preparing your yard for the coming summer.

Some of you may even have warm enough weather to enjoy spending some time in the water.
As always, whatever your choices, be responsible.
Note for example in the picture to the right that the very young are not allowed into the water while the older ones are playing a little too wildly - don't let a few minutes of fun turn into another Valentine Day tragedy.

This also seems like a good time to remind those of you who like to get a little crazy on the holidays that we still have a responsibility to our communities not to let a good time go to our heads.

Remember, the younger generation are watching and learning from what we do. Poor behavior can set a bad example for the young pups in the crowd.

Do you really want to be remembered for the rest of your life as the guy who ran around on Valentine's Day showing everyone what you could fit in your mouth?

The same goes for you ladies - sticking other animals in your mouth ... that's for the privacy of your own home, not public displays on Valentine's Day.

Sometimes a simple walk is the most enjoyable way to spend quality time together. If you're really social, then you can always invite some friends to meet you for a walk - you can keep diner together as your alone time.

I've always thought that the most important part of Valentine's Day is not to let the social pressure make you feel uncomfortable. So find something to do that you will enjoy - without later regrets. Relax, be yourself, have a nice time. The great part of spending Valentine's Day with canines is that, like all our days with them, just having canines in our lives makes relaxing and having fun a lot more likely to happen.

The Weimaraner of love

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kinds of Collies: Big or Little, Something for Most Everyone

Collies come in at least three sizes and even more varieties, with each variety having unique personality traits that make it different from the other types of collies. I suspect that there is a type of Collie out there for most dog lovers.

The largest of the Collies are the Smooth Collie and the Rough Collie.

What is interesting to me is that while both varieties can occur in the same litter, some trainers actually claim that the Smooth is calmer and more trainable. Truth or fiction?

I tend to put this claim in the same column as the claims that some Labradors have different traits based on their colors. While some people will swear this is true, my experience is that when a litter of puppies share the exact same parents you will find the same variation of personality traits possible in any of the colors.

There are individual variations that you will find in any sibling group; with enough exposure to enough members of the breed one can eventually observe the same traits can be found in all the color/coat varieties. Some individuals are more trainable, more attentive, quieter, etc.

The big Collies are what I would call of average trainability; as I've said before they remind me of C students. They have a good work ethic, they may take a little longer to learn but once they learn they have a high degree of reliability with what they've learned. For example, my Jenny took over  year to predictably come when called (she was adopted as an adult and hadn't been treated well.) Now however, she has a very reliable recall and will usually listen even when something really interesting is happening, like another dog is approaching.

If you want a highly trainable, medium sized dog, the Collie family offers two rather different choices.
Arguably one of the most trainable of all dogs is the Border Collie.

The Border Collie is a high energy, high drive dog. Smart, easily bored. They are happiest when they have some kind of job to do.

Although the black and white variety are the best known, Border Collies do come in other colors, including red and white and merle. These are great dogs for competitive sports and obdience

They love to work, they learn quickly, and they seem to have an almost limitless ability to pick up new tasks.

There is another type of Collie thoguh that is of smaller build, very trainable, with a much more relaxed personality.

The Bearded Collie looks a little like a small version of an Old English Sheepdog.

The Beardie is more relaxed and easier going than the Border Collie. Not as quick as the Border but quicker than the Rough Collie, the Beardie can learn pretty much anything you want to train them for. They're popular as visitation and therapy dogs,and do well with family members of all sizes and ages.

Unlike the Border Collie which can be nippy at the heels of running small children (under the impression that they need tending like sheep) the Berdie can play with children without being too mouthy.

While it is more common to find Border Collies who are still working sheep, it is less common to find still working Beardies - however - they do excell at the work; they just have a different style of herding than the Border Collie.

One of the sweetest dogs I ever lived with was a Beardie mix whom I called Ewok. He was a gentle, sweet natured boy who never barked - he'd make a little yowling sound on rare occasions but most of the time he just quietly observed. He got along with everyone. I always suspected because of type of double coat that he had, and his yowl, that Ewok had just a little Malamute in him. He looked a lot like the Beardie pictured below, just a little darker, a little hairier - as hard as that might be to imagine.


The smallest of the Collie family is the Shetland Sheepdog. I've heard the Sheltie called the little Lassie, and the miniature Collie.

Technically the Sheltie did not descend from the Collie, rather both the Rough Collie and Sheltie share a common ancestor in an earlier Scottish Collie. 

Despite their similarity in appearance to their larger cousins, the Sheltie is usually a slightly more high strung dog -- possibly because they've been bred away from their herding origin in the States in favor of bench shows. Most Collies will settle down a bit if they have a job to do.

Although they may be sensitive natured dogs, in ever other way the Sheltie is a hardy little dog. They make excellent watch dogs, are tidy house pets, get along with children and are fairly trainable. They're also very handsome wee dogs.

Shelties are becoming more popular as therapy dogs, visitation dogs, and agility/obdience dogs. In these roles all their best qualities are called on and they prove just what a well rounded breed they are when trained properly and given a purpose.

If you fancy Collies but want a smaller package, the Shetland Sheepdog is certainly worth considering.

So there you have it, a range of Collies in a range of trainability levels and a spectrum of colors and sizes. Having lived with at least one member of each of these varieties, I can tell you that while there are some individual differences there are a few things they have in common: Loyalty, lovable, pleasing personalities, and lots of good looks, with a willingness to get along with a family and try their best to meet expectations. What dog lover doesn't appreciate those traits?

Ruby - Collie mix

P.S. 01-06-12
Since Cate was good enough to send us information about a Beardie breeder who is working to keep the breed true to its origin as a working dog I had to check out the site; I found a wonderful picture that I am sharing here...
These are Brambledale Bearded Collies - and what a lovely group they are too!
Thanks Cate for bringing this kennel to my attention.