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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Adopted dogs and the Amazing Jeffie.

Jeffie as a puppy - photo courtesy of For Love of a Dog.com

Adopting a dog is a win-win situation. A dog in need of a home is given one, while people who adopt have the bonus of knowing they've acted to help a homeless pet. Plus, every adopted pet from a shelter or rescue group opens up a spot for another dog. When a spot opens up in a shelter or adoption group, another life is saved from abandonment or euthanasia.

Anyone who stops by here regularly has met our current adopted dog, the senior Chihuahua, Chi Chi. Chi Chi began as a foster, who was in need of some socialization if he was going to find a permanent home.He hadn't been with us too long though, when he made it clear that THIS was his permanent home.

He does have a few issues that would make him problematic to place elsewhere. It appears he was handled roughly in the past and when he is scared or nervous he becomes very protective of his right side. I have a lovely little scar on my right thumb from this past weekend. Some of the other dogs had wrestled and upset him - he lashed out at me in his fear. Not a good candidate for a home with children - though he loves them - or older people with skin that might take a while to heal. He and I are figuring each other out though and most of the time he is the most cuddly, sweet dog. He just has some fears that a person needs to be mindful of.

While some adopted dogs have issues, many more are sweet tempered and adaptable. One such dog is our own Jenny the Rough Collie.
There are many other lovely adopted dogs out there.

One of the things we like about being online is that we've met so many wonderful adopted dogs. One of our favorites is Jeffie, who lives with his family and can be visited at Talking Dogs at for Love of a Dog - http://www.talking-dogs.com/

The Talking Dogs
This is the side-bar photo of the family from Talking Dogs - Sue is the adopted mom of this handsome group. Sue and her husband have focused on adoption, with a slight preference for pups with a Lab or Golden in their background. They have given several generations of lucky-pups a very happy home; their current cute pup is Rosie, who joined the family after Lucy B went to the Rainbow Bridge.

April has been a big birthday month at Talking Dogs. Jeffie the current senior of the family has turned seven years old. Jeffie is an amazing, lovely spirited, and very handsome fellow - the poster boy for the kind of amazing dog that is waiting for adoption in a shelter. Sue works hard to help other waiting dogs find adoptive homes, every week featuring a dog looking for his or her permanent home.

While Sue may not be close enough to your home for you to adopt one of the dogs she features, her work reminds us that every day some amazing dogs are waking up in shelters and foster homes, waiting for a furever homes to enter their lives. Adoption can bring your own devoted family member into your life - who wouldn't like to wake up to a sweet face like this every day!

Jeffie, on the deck he helped his dad build

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chihuahua, Collie, and Bull Terrier in Spring

A new spring day dawned this morning and Chi Chi and I went outside to find a new inch of snow.

While looking very fresh and clean, the snow is also a little discouraging.

Not just because it is the end of April but because it was joining the wee bit of snow we still have on the ground. Chi Chi stuck close to the clearer ground of the car for a while.

If you look closely you should be able to see the cheweenie next to the smaller snow bank in the front yard.

Cheech does in fact disappear while walking back towards the steps here...trust me, he's in between the snowbanks on both sides of our walkway here.

Out back Gracie and Jenny were enjoying a romp in the backyard.

Gracie is standing on the top of the gate to the back pen. She and Lil are only allowed out on long leashes now because they like to hop out of the pen and visit the neghbor's corgi - you can just see the roof of his house behind our fence and the snow bank.

Jenny is more polite and stays 'inside' the pen - unless the puppies take off, then she goes deaf and follows them.

I took the opportunity to glance over to the fence where my roses will be blooming...eventually.

I have roses planted in front of the six foot wooden fence - the one that is sticking out of the snow bank.

Fortunately, the sun came out latter in the day and a surprising amount of melting took place. Compare how little of the snowblower is visible in the above picture and then this evening in the picture to the right. HUGE amount of melting happening. Which makes the occasional new snow a little more bearable.

Chi Chi finds the snow no problem at all. He likes to go out and sniff around, marking, and checking out what is happening in the neighborhood. He's also decided he can walk up the stairs to the second floor when he really wants to know what is happening up there - when he's feeling less energetic he just stays in the living room barking his encouragement for me to return.

He growls to let me know that my delivery of his meal is acknowledged, and growls when he's given a biscuit. He has decided that he will allow me the company of his presence at night, and now is back to sleeping in the big bed. I didn't even hear him growl at the cat last night when she also got on the bed. She's always ignored him but that didn't stop him from grumbling about her presence in the past. I guess his majesty is getting more tolerant of we peasants who insist on loitering in his presence.

And just in case you're wondering - the neighborhood watch is still on high alert - just in case someone walks by and needs barking at.

Yes, despite the snow we're having a busy spring. So busy in fact that for brief moments during the day his majesty sometimes needs to find a cluttered, out of the way corner, where he sits contemplatively for a few moments.

And then the royal whim passes and he curls back up on his fleecy blanket and goes back to sleep. Turns out Chihuahua royalty needs a lot of naps so they're ready for whatever crops up during the day. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Swiss Mountain Dogs: Appenzeller, Entlebucher, Bernese, and Greater Swiss

Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Appenzeller Sennenhunde


Greater Swiss

There are four members of the Swiss mountain dog family.
The smallest is the Entlebucher, with a tail that is sometimes docked; the slightly larger, medium sized breed is the Appenzeller, with a tail that often curls;  the Bernese Mountain Dog is a large breed with longer fur, while the largest member of the family is the short coated Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a working farm dog - a cattle drover, moving cattle from one field to another in the Swiss Alps.

Like most dogs developed to work with livestock, this is an energetic, thinking dog. You can expect an Entlebucher to be loyal to family, suspicious of strangers, good with other animals and capable of independence. In countries which still allow docking, tails may or may not be docked.

Athletic, intelligent, working dogs the slightly larger Appenzeller is a livestock guardian.

There is some variation in temperaments among different bloodlines but overall this is a breed that needs regular interaction. Left to their own they can become too independent and aloof. They are also more likely to bond with one person more than others, however, they are still agreeable family dogs.

The Bernese developed as a general purpose farm dog. This breed is expected to be good natured and self assured.

 This is a great family dog, good with children and other animals. As with many larger breeds, it takes time for a Bernese to mature both emotionally and physically. They need to be socialized while young and respond well to positive training methods.

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has been used as a general purpose working dog who could pull wagons and carry loads in the mountainous Alps.

It is said that this big breed takes a little while to be reliably housebroken, yet this is a breed that is eager to please his family. Like the other members of the Swiss Mountain family, this largest member is devoted to his people, good with other animals and should be trained and socialized from a young age.


There are breed rescues which can assist in finding members of this family, particularly the Bernese Mountain Dog which is the most popular of the four breeds outside their homeland.


The Appenzeller has a breed club that is now keeping their breed registry with the American Kennel Club as they develop sufficient numbers in North America to become AKC registered and eligible for AKC shows.


The Entlebucher was recognized by the AKC in 2011. The Bernese and Greater Swiss have been known outside Switzerland for longer.

Greater Swiss

The Greater Swiss remains an uncommon breed; in 2012 they ranked 81 out of 175 of the AKC recognized breeds. The Bernese in comparison, ranked 33. The Entlebucher in just their second year as an AKC recognized breed ranked 157 - (well ahead of the  North American bred American Fox Hound - #172).

If one is interested in a trainable, family oriented dog that does well with other animals, will bark at strangers without being overly aggressive, is suitable for cart pulling or agility, then the Swiss Mountain Dog family may well have a member ready to join your family.

It helps of course, if one appreciates a dog's coat in the tri-colored black, white, and brown that is signature in all four Swiss breeds  :-)
 With their warm eyes and smiles, these are engaging breeds of dogs, with big hearts and willing temperaments...variation in color obviously wasn't necessary.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nominations for Most Stuborn Breed?

Not-Hawk, other Chesapeake
One of the dog-blogs I follow is found at http://browndogcbr.blogspot.com/
featuring a lovely Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Hawk.

Also not-Hawk

Not long ago Hawk commented that his breed is known for being a tad stubborn. As Hawk pointed out, this is more a matter of thoughtful and independent thinking :-)  As someone who lives with an independent minded dog or two myself - one of whom I sometimes think has equal amounts of bone as brain in her head - it got me to thinking: if one were to make a scale from "Least Stubborn Dog-----Medium Stubborn-----Most Stubborn" where would a) my dogs be, b) what breed would end up at the 'most stubborn' end. Perhaps a better way to put it might be:

 Biddable ------------------------------  Moderately Stubborn ----------------------- Very Stubborn

  In our family that would work out to something like:

? ----------------------------Jenny --------Lil ---------------------------------------------- ++ Gracie

Individual dogs can be stubborn - like the Bassett Hound who would lay down and be dragged rather than go for a walk - but Gracie is fairly typical of her breed. English Bull Terriers are probably the most stubborn breed I can think of at the moment.

Please let me clarify. I know Gracie knows the basics like 'sit' and 'come' because on occasion (particularly if she thinks food might be involved) she can carry these acts out in response to the verbal command faster than I can finish saying the word. When she's feeling particularly clever she will do a fast chain of pretty much every behavior she knows how to do - sit, down, roll over, twirl in a circle, pirouette, and fall backwards  - rather than doing the one thing I ask her to do, just to show she has an idea that we're working on obedience type stuff. (Note: I only 'trained' for "sit" and "down" - the rest are her own inventions that she likes to pull out on an almost daily basis.)

Gracie using her cousin as seat warmer

Gracie does have a sense of humor. She knows how to make me laugh...and I confess, one of the things that makes a person suitable to living with an EBT is that you sometimes laugh when the dog in your life goofs-off; if goofing-off as a response angers you, don't even consider allowing an EBT into your life. They'll give you a stroke.

It isn't just the picking and choosing when to listen to commands that make EBT qualify as stubborn. At that point, forgive me Hawk, but at that point they kind of tie for stubborn on my scale with the Chesapeake. What makes the EBT more stubborn is the every day persistences. Like leaning against me when I'm trying to use my laptop while sitting on the couch; being pushed away, and leaning back into me. This can take 12 - 15 pushes and I typically loose this game, as unfortunately, I have an even shorter attention span than a terrier and I can't bring myself to focus on anything, including pushing a pushy dog away that many times. I usually am too busy trying to write and the next thing I know, after a dozen or more pushes and knocks off the couch, I realize Gracie is none the less sprawled out on my lap, or leaning snoring against the computer anyway. That's stubborn. Or if one prefers, very persistent in pursing an individual agenda. :-)  EBT specialize in pursing an internal, individual agenda.

Collie looking guilty for bad acts of unashamed Lab
I also realize I live with a breed of dog that many people consider to be very biddable - the Labrador Retriever. I've known a lot Labs, lived with many, have family members with them...while occasional individuals are very willing to listen, overall this is a breed that is a bit more stubborn than people who don't live with them might realize. As a breed, they are typically moderately stubborn; apologies, Hawk, but again, less so than a Chesapeake but more so than a Collie.

 One of the ideal balances of independent thinking - and thus some stubbornness - along with being biddable and doing what was needed when it was needed where the old fashioned Chinese Shar Pei that were originally imported from Hong Kong. North American breeding has tended to put less emphasis on intelligence and more on confirmation, even so, this remains an independent but people oriented dog - slightly above moderately stubborn.

Scottish Terriers - probably at least 3/4 of the way towards very stubborn and in the same neighborhood as the Chesapeake in my opinion... now though, I'd like to hear from others. Where would you rank the individual dogs you do or have lived with? I should add the caveat, which is perhaps obvious by now, that I value a stubborn/independent dog's personality. I in fact seek them out and arguably, help create them - I don't 'punish' a dog for being independent, I just try and round the corners off any behavior that I find questionable, and make clear what I find unacceptable.

Jade, another biddable family Lab
At the same time, I have also appreciated knowing some very biddable, eager to please dogs. In fact, for many years our family lived with a Chocolate Labrador who was always eager to please everyone - Pooky was a sweetie and a unique individual in her own right. Not particularly typical of her breed in some ways, but with the loving personality that is common in a good Lab. My point - I don't judge stubborn or not as inherently good/bad - just observations about a breed that assist people in realizing what makes the breed and the person a better or worse match. If one doesn't like a certain characteristic, one should be aware of that characteristic's presence in a breed. If you don't like a dog that can be stubborn, stay away from terriers.

Also, realizing what for you as a person qualifies as stubborn and how much stubborn you can live with is useful information to give a breed rescue when considering adopting a dog. Wanting a dog that tends to listen quickly and without question will tend to lead you towards the less-stubborn end of the dog personality scale.