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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Uncommon Terriers: Glen of Imaal Terrier

The Glen of Imaal is the most uncommon of Irish Terriers. 

This compact dog was bred for big work. Glen's went to ground for badger -- not timid prey. One has to have a strong personality to be determined enough to hunt something one's own size.

It is no surprise given the work they were bred to do, that the Glen can be a little stubborn. Friendly and faithful but determined to sometimes do their own thing, the Glen needs consistent handling.

Glens are one of those breeds that shed little and thus need to sometimes have haircuts. Their hair is rough and comes in three colors: blue, wheaten, and brindle.

The Glen would be an ideal breed if you are interested in earth dog competitions. They are also devoted companions and like to just hang out with their family.

And even though they are uncommon there is a rescue organization for Glens too; if you're willing to wait this is a breed you could potentially adopt.

I've noticed that there is a little variation in the appearance of the Glen, particularly with tails being docked slightly different lengths in different countries. This may owe something to the fact that the Glen is so uncommon - veterinarians can probably practice their whole career and be lucky to see one Glen.

Compact dogs with big personalities that are fun, and just gosh darn cute -- this is a breed that deserves to be more popular than it is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hunting Dogs: Irish Setter

When I was growing up our family -- well, my Mom really -- had several Irish Setters. They were called...
 wait for it...

Yes, with all of our imaginative powers the first Setter was Red One and the second was Red Two. At least Red was an easy name to learn to spell and remember.

Red One was a short lived dog. He was with us just under a year before his tragic death. Red Two on the other hand lived a full life. For thirteen years he was a companion, playmate, guardian, and friend. He was born in Northern Ontario, then moved with us to Western Canada. We had a farm at the end of an eight mile gravel road so traffic wasn't a concern; Red got to run freely. When he was a senior he moved back to the States with my parents where he spent his retirement years napping in the sun.

Red was an old fashioned Irish Setter, the kind that still had big bones and some size. In fact, he was slightly over-sized, the biggest pup in his litter. His family came from dual lines with both bench and field champions in his family. He was always destined though to be a very handsome companion and beloved family member. Dad had quit hunting when we moved to the farm so the fact that Red was a natural bird dog was just an interesting fact. It was always fun though to watch Red point a bird, then flush it. He started pointing as a pup and made a great bird dog. We appreciated his talent even if we didn't use it for hunting purposes.

Red was a free spirit who loved to run the 1/2 mile down our property to the river that formed the southern boundary of our property line. He enjoyed chasing the birds along the river and seeking out dead salmon that sometimes washed up on the shore. Nothing pleased Red more than finding a nice rotting salmon to roll in. Rotting fish carcass was his favorite personal cologne.

He also enjoyed the coyotes who had a den near the edge of our property. In the evening you could sometimes hear Red running with the coyotes. They would howl and he would bark. At first we worried that something would happen to Red when he went near the coyotes. Then we had a chance to observe. Red was bigger than the coyotes and so fast it was unbelievable. Sometimes he would chase them. Sometimes he would play tag with a female. He thought it was all a game, albeit he had the sense to know it was a dangerous game; he never let them get too close.

 Red was Mom's heart dog - her special, once in a lifetime companion. Mom still loves Irish Setters with a preference for the old fashioned, larger Setters. She can't bring herself to own one now that she lives in town though. She felt that Red had the ideal life on the farm with over a hundred acres to run. Irish Setters do like to move. They can be kept in smaller spaces than a large farm though.

Irish Setters can make really lovely family dogs. They like people and other animals -- some do have some prey drive. Red was very tolerant of all other animals and was a great farm dog but some Setters don't do well with cats. They are often kept because of their beauty and fun loving nature but Irish Setters can still hunt too. They make good upland game bird dogs.

There are Irish Setters who need adopting too - check with Petfinder.com and Irish Setter rescue if you think this is a breed you might like to adopt.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Livestock Guardian Breeds: Ukrainian Ovcharka (South Russian Ovcharka)

SRO pup

Yes, the Ukrainian Ovcharka is more commonly known as the South Russian Ovcharka, however, there seems to be some agreement that the breed was developed in the Ukraine, then moved with sheep throughout Russia.

The breed is also sometimes called the South Russian Sheepdog -- most commonly though, they are known as SROs - South Russian Ovcharkas. 

Those who follow this blog might think of a sheepdog as a herder that lives and works alongside people. SROs were traditionally used more like livestock guardians and have been bred to independently watch their flocks, territory, and families without a person overseeing their activities. As a result, this is a very independent and active breed of dog.

This is also a large dog. Very heavy boned, their height makes them look a bit smaller than they actually are. At 62 - 65 cm (24-25") there are solid dogs weighing 48-50 kg (108 - 110 lbs). They are also a long haired dog, with hair reaching up to 15 cm (6"); apparently their hair has been used for spinning.

While the SRO are starting to be bred by some for a slightly 'softer' personality -- at times the military has used them as guard dogs -- this is still a breed that is not for many. They require a strong, steady handler who is consistent. This breed can be stubborn and needs exercise. They are also known, however, for their great devotion to their people. During the chaos of war SRO were sometimes shot because they refused to accept a new handler if something happened to their original person. That's devotion.

Still an uncommon breed, there are a few kennels who are now breeding the SRO for showing and exports. With the increasing popularity of livestock guardian dogs as a more 'natural' way of protecting animals, this is a breed that may start to show up amongst northern farmers, ranchers and fanciers who want a self reliant guard dog. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring Flower Poem and Pups

The flowers are risen     

                                    sunny faces

   turned to the sky

            in peace.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First Aid Kits for Dogs

When things are going well we may not think about the supplies we should have on hand should our canine companion be ill or injured. Not everything that ails a dog, though can be fixed by eating some grass.

There are some pre-made kits that you can order on-line that include some of the most basics like cotton balls, swabs, bandages, and tape for wraps. These kits come in different sizes and some are more specialized, for example they make kits for dogs that take part in agility and other events.

One doesn't have to buy an already made kit, of course. Like buying a first aid kit for people, this is a matter of convenience and making sure you have the most likely needed supplies on hand.

It is a good idea to have bandage wraps on hand, and some cotton swabs for applying ointments or removing blood if you're trying to see if a small wound might need a stitch from the veterinarian. 

As we have discussed here before, it is also a good idea to keep some antihistamine on hand- dog's can have allergic reactions that close off their airways and suffocate them. An antihistamine can provide life saving minutes that allow you to get to a veterinarian.  There are antihistamines made specifically for dogs; in a pinch people antihistamines can also be used but always talk to your vet before giving people medication to dogs.

Another good thing to have on hand is a styptic powder that causes blood clotting if a dog's nail gets clipped too short or ripped short. There are different brands on the market.

 I know that other people have home remedies for constant ailments
that their dogs encounter. Those with dogs who can get loose stools or constipation like to keep a can of pumpkin on hand; I have used raw carrots and celery for these same conditions.

Fibrous vegetables are handy for providing moisture and consistency in stools.
Yes, we provide the information here you never knew you wanted... :-)

Please share your own favorite home remedies or health kit must-haves with us. We're all always looking for good tips to help keep the canines in our families healthy.