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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Holiday Practically Desgined for Dogs

February 28 -- Public Sleeping Day

No one seems exactly sure of the source of this holiday (you celebrate by sleeping in public.)  I think however, that this is a holiday most dogs can embrace.

Of course, there will be a few dogs like Gracie who are too obsessed with what everyone else is doing to really excel at celebrating this in the spirit intended - by sleeping in public - but there are far more dogs, I believe, who will knock this one out of the park.

I think the greatest obstacle to making this an enjoyable and successful holiday will be finding the right combination of location, dress, and fur length.

Those with really long fur might not do well celebrating in a tropical sun just as those with less fur coverage should avoid spending this holiday in drafts.

Finding a public indoor location with climate control might be the best way around these considerations.

Probably the greatest key to enjoying any holiday however, is finding friends to celebrate with; the company we keep really can impact how much fun we have during special events like this.

I'm posting this weeks in advance of the holiday so that there is time to start planning. You just can't count on having a successful event if you wait until the last second to throw your guest list together.

Wherever and whomever you spend your Public Sleeping Day with I hope it is the best sort of holiday for you - with some tasty biscuits thrown in for good measure.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Schnauzers: Minature, Standard, Giant - three different breeds

Schnauzers are not all the same and it is more than size which makes a difference.  When compared to each other, each one of these three breeds has specific personalities, energy levels, and temperaments.

For 24 years I lived with Miniature Schnauzers and they are a breed near and dear to my heart; even so I would not recommend them to everyone. They are one of the most common members of the terrier group and usually rank as the most trainable terrier - considering of course that we're comparing them to other terriers when I say "most trainable." When ranked with other breeds they are also considered the most trainable of the Schnauzers.

Sorry fellow Schnauzer enthusiasts but working with a trainable terrier still isn't like working with a breed that was developed to be trainable like a Shepherd or Golden. Mini Schnauzers were bred to be independent hunters, vermin killers and the attitude needed to do this work is not the same as the attitude or temperament required to work hand in glove with a human.

The Miniature Schnauzer is usually very loyal and devoted to their people. They are in turns independent and then Velcro dogs. When raised with families they are excellent family members. They tend to be loud, having an opinion about everything that they insist will be voiced. Although usually friendly it is not uncommon for a mini to rear up on their hind legs as they charge forward barking -- this is "hello" in their world. They are Napoleons of the dog world and tend not to back down from much larger dogs, convinced that their forceful personalities will carry the day no matter the other dog's size.

The Standard Schnauzer is far and away the most reasonable, quiet, and calm member of this extended family, as well as being the "original" Schnauzer. Ironically, they are also the least common of the Schnauzers. Is there perhaps such a thing as being too average? They are not quite as quick to train as the Mini but are still a very biddable breed of dog.

The standard has average exercise needs, is a fairly average size, with a levelheadedness that may make them seem too average for some...? The only other reason I can think of for their lack of popularity is that, having long been less common that the Giant or Miniature, not enough people realize what they are missing out on by not living with this good looking working dog.

The Standard is as close as you can get to an every man's Schnauzer. Of course, they were designed to work and do best with consistent handling. In fact, the Standard could do the work of both his smaller and larger cousins -- he could chase vermin, guard flocks and family, and help move livestock to market. This is a very pleasant dog that deserves to have a wider audience of admirers than the bred does. The Standard is a little more ready to be independent around people than is the Miniature but does not have as strong a guard presence as the Giant.

The Giant was developed to be a guard and drovers dog and most bloodlines continue to show the guard attitude. These should never be mean dogs (unfortunately some bloodlines are) but they are expected to be suspicious and aloof with strangers, clearly announcing when someone approaches their territory. At the same time, with their own families these dogs can be goofy and good natured - this is a high energy dog that requires a lot of exercise if it is going to be well behaved.

This should an agreeable dog who does well with other animals and children.
My aunt lives with a Giant (Jack) who adores young people and has even left his yard once or twice to hang out with the neighborhood kids, who can lead him around in a way that neighborhood adults would never dream of.

Jack is also a great example of how patient Giants can be with smaller dogs, including terriers. Poor old Jack is now being ruled by the second much smaller female terrier of his life and he always handles these situations magnificently.

Jack the Giant and his new girl, Bess
Three sizes, three unique personalities, three levels of "train-ability." And yet, I cannot say amongst them there is a breed for everyone. You have to appreciate a fairly square build, a slightly rough haired dog, with a bit of independence from time to time in order to like a Schnauzer - these characteristics more than any other are what make them all part of a loosely related family.

Miniature and Giant

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Different....

Gracie contemplating the nature of life

I have a life.

Sort of.

That is to say, I do pursue at least one other interest besides catering to the lovely Gracie, Jenny, and Lil.

Jenny supervising my writing from across the room

Lil, encouraging me to feed her, again

 I am a disability service provider at a university; I work with the disabled students  making sure they receive the accommodations and services that will facilitate their education.
As education has become more inclusive, and support for a range of disabilities has become more adequate, disabled students are having increasing opportunities to go on to college.

When I was in first grade I was just one of a handful of students in my class with a reading disability; this was back in the day when such things weren't diagnosed and kids like us were put in the "slow group." Those of us who made it out of high school weren't interested in having any more to do with education because of all the misery it had inflicted on us by then.

I worked for almost a decade, mainly with animals and children (usually not at the same time,) before I  decided to try college again. I had continued to read and write a lot during those years and I found I could get through reading textbooks and writing papers better this time around. It was really hard and I learned there were some things I just couldn't do - like pull all nighters the way other students could. I also noticed again, that a lot of students who had similar disabilities to mine, decided that school wasn't worth the struggle.

This past year I decided to try and assist these students and their families in a larger way than I can in the individualized meetings I'm able to have in my office. Fast forward some months of hard work...and I've written a book and found a publisher.

Now for the next hard part - letting people know that this resource is going to be available.
I've noticed for a long time that there is a lot of overlap between the animal loving community and the disability community; a lot of us find animals provide a level of acceptance and comfort that we can't always find in other humans...it's not the humans' fault but face it, a Bull Terrier is more entertaining than the average person.

average person 

   average person vs. Bull Terrier

It occurred to me that perhaps the best way to get word of mouth started about this project was to reach out to my friends in the animal loving community, who probably also know at least one person who has disability touching their life.
(Is anyone else old enough to remember that old shampoo commercial - "You tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on....")

If you know someone who has a child that is considering college and has a disability - particularly a disability that impacts how the child learns - then perhaps you can let them know that I'm attempting to make more resources available to them (a lot of what I can currently find available for families is focused on disabled children who will not be going on to college; I thought the rest of us could use more support.)

In addition to the book - which the publisher wants people to pay for - I am starting several free related blogs. One for education and disability conversations (www.collegedisabled.blogspot.com), and one for conversations with and information for disabled students who want to go on to the highly competitive science, technology, engineering,  math, and related social science fields -- or STEM education (www.stemcollege.wordpress.com).
I'm going to place links for these spots on the sidebar of this blog, in case you do know someone who would like to check these newbie sites out.

And just in case anyone is interested in the book, I'll put a link in on the sidebar for that too.
Here's an image for those of us who like visuals:


Thanks everyone who does help get the word out - I really want more disabled students to be armed with the information they need to be successful in college!

Now be like Gracie and dash out to tell someone....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snow Dogs

My crew and I live in a geographic location near Lake Superior. This means, like many places near the Great Lakes, we get a lot of lake effect snow in the winter. A lot.
I've lived in colder places.
I've lived in more northern locations.
I've never lived in a snowier, or more windy, location.

Birds feeding after the latest storm

Sled dogs love it here in the winter because we have so gosh darn much of the powdery, white, fluffy snow to play in. And cold wind, which ruffles their thick fur. As Gracie runs in and out very quickly, and Lil and Jenny take time to bounce in the snow and enjoy it, I was thinking about the breeds of dogs who really revel in cold.

Today I'll focus more on dogs that I particularly associate with snow. That way, when I miss your favorite northern/mountain/snow breed you can just add it below in the comment section.


Chinook sled team

Having lived in a number of communities where dog sledding is popular, I always associate sled appropriate breeds with winter first, particularly the following:

Alaskan Malamute
Smiling Samoyed
Siberian Husky

Happy Husky

I next think of mountain bred dogs I associate with cold:

            Bernese Mountain Dog

Caucasian Ovcharka


              Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Pyrenees Mountain Dog

                                            St. Bernard

Tibetan Mastiff

Then I think of the breeds who were bred to hunt or work in the north, either on land or in water.

                                 Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Icelandic Sheepdog

                 Karelian Bear Dog



                 Labrador Retriever

 Norwegian Buhund