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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Lovely, Large, Leonberger.


Well, it would appear that my resolve to post weekly has come to naught. My fingers are working well enough tonight though to allow for a post I've been thinking about for a while on a noble breed, the Leonberger.

It will not come as a surprise to anyone to  read that the Leonberger originated in Leonberg (Germany). This giant breed was multipurpose: able to pull a cart, work on the farm, and live with the family.


There can be a real range in size among members of the breed: weight from a small of about 100 pounds (45 kg) to a large of 170+ (77kg); height ranges from about 25 - 36 inches (63.5 - 91.4 cm).  Obviously, even a "small" Leonberger is a dog with stature and presence.

While their size may be intimidating, this is actually a friendly breed with moderate exercise needs. Very large dogs often do not require as much exercise as smaller, active breeds and while they like some room to stretch out, a Leon can adapt to a thorough walk a day; one doesn't need a farm to keep a Leon.


What they do need is human companionship. This is a breed that was developed to be around people and they prefer to be where their people are. It is this personality trait, as much as their size, which keeps them from being well suited to small spaces. It isn't easy having a 150 pound shadow in a cramped walk-up flat. Plus, there's a limit to how often that frame can go up and down stairs before damage to joints begins.


Joint problems and the strain that a massive body puts on organs limits the lifespan of giant breed dogs and the lovable Leons are no exception. A life of 8 - 10 years is common. The amount of affection and happiness they will squeeze into those years though, make them very worthy companions.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Of Dogs, Horses, Donkey, and a Wee Begging Pony

I would like to start by thanking everyone who has taken the time to send positive thoughts and energy my way; it's working! I was able to walk downstairs this morning without any significant discomfort - well done people :-)

Photo: Roberta Coppler
This photo is of two of my newest friends, Arthur and Aimo. Due to the fact he is sitting closer to the camera, Aimo the Jack Russel looks considerably bigger than he is in person; although his personality certainly is even bigger than it looks here.

These pups are the "security" team at Coppler Farms, where I've been horse riding this fall. They take the job very seriously. Every time I arrive they threaten me with barks, tail wagging, and in Arthur's case, usually a long story about how he's been waiting for someone to go riding so he can run alongside. Arthur likes to run along with the horses, while Aimo likes to run about three miles for every mile the horses walk. I don't think there could be a more perfect exercise routine for a Jack Russel.

This is Lizzie. She's a registered National Show Horse (a deliberate cross of Arabian and Saddlebred). She is not however, a show horse by profession, although she does get out to local fun shows. Lizzie is what we call a "trail veteran" which means that when we're riding through the woods and a chipmunk bursts from out of nowhere and races practically under her hoof, she just keeps walking without needing to jump three feet into the air.

That's not to suggest that Lizzie doesn't still have horse moments. For while dogs evolved from predators, horses evolved from prey. When it is particularly windy Lizzie starts to suspect that Horrible Beasts and Horse Eating Monsters could potentially be waiting ... everywhere.

This suspicion was not alleviated when the latest trainee recently arrived at Coppler Farms.

Poor Buddy - he looks different, he sounds different, and Lizzie cannot walk by him without stopping and staring. Really, rudely, ears forward, with a "What!" look that is just not friendly.

This week Lizzie did finally allow a nose sniff  from Buddy and did not squeal (something mares tend to do when they are making a fuss) but she's still got a way to go on being more accepting of his glorious differences.

The pony is Sampson, who can tell if anyone could be convinced to slip him a little snack it might be me. He likes to reach through and nuzzle me as I groom and saddle Lizzie.
Sampson however, must be kept on a "dry lot" without access to green grass which has a high sugar content; he's on a perpetual pony-diet. Unfortunately for the little dude he gains weight just by looking at food, a condition I can easily relate to. I think it is plain to see here that he is saying, "Please miss, just a crumb!"

Photo: Roberta Coppler
 Lizzie at a fun show with a Jr. rider 

Over eating in horses can lead to both intestinal problems like colic and hoof/leg issues like laminitis and eventually founder, where the horse's hoof rotates, resulting in not just permanent damage but causing pain with every step. To avoid this easy-keepers like Sampson are fed grass-hay, as dried grasses have a lower sugar content than green grasses, plus daily intake can be monitored and limited.  Like most Labradors, ponies would prefer the option of eating to death.

The weekly riding therapy is proving useful not just for keeping my joints mobile but for supplementing my mental health. I'm also greatly enjoying the opportunity to spend some time on a farm again. Especially when, at the end of the ride, I get to go home and leave all the clean up chores to someone else!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Catching up and Fun Dog Pictures with links


I think there's something to be said for learning to not take one's self too seriously and in turn, to not taking life's ups and downs out of proportion. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Fortunately, I have dogs and cats in my life to remind me that I focus on things that aren't nearly as important as say, handing out dog biscuits or making sure the cat gets a little milk in her bowl.  Sometimes we have to just take a deep breath and allow the universe to unfold around us.


This past year has been a bit chaotic and as a result this blog has been somewhat neglected for chunks of time. Good intentions aside, I haven't made time to keep up with  my blogging friends and I miss their posts and their blogs.
While most people who stop by here are infrequent visitors looking for specific information about a certain type of dog, there are a handful of visitors who have blogs I like to follow and/or who like to follow updates here when they are posted. For those folks I feel a little explanation of my semi-disappearance is in order.

I haven't spent all my time laying around taking selfies. Really!

About a year ago I found out I was living with multiple complications caused by lupus, which is an immune disorder that opened the door for fibromyalgia, sensitivity to the sun, fatigue and other fun stuff.  More recently I had a week of tremendous spine pain which culminated with waking up one morning not able to use my right leg. 

Brain imaging has shown there is now a lesion on my right frontal cortex. It will take more tests from a neurologist however my doctor and I suspect that the lupus may have eaten away some of the myelin sheath around my nerves. If this proves to be true than I am now living with multiple sclerosis.


MS can sound intimidating but the way I'm looking at this is, regardless of what it is, or what it is called, I am already living with what I am living with. I would like to know what it is so that I can take appropriate steps to keep it as manageable as possible.


For example, my joints and muscles have become very problematic. I've found that both physically and emotionally I benefit from taking a relaxed horse ride once a week. That's a new therapy that is proving very beneficial. I figure I'm among a small group of people who at my age actually feels stiffer getting on the horse than when I get off.  I'm also making a new friend in the woman I rent a horse from and getting out into some beautiful fall weather to ride.

And I continue to find a lot to laugh at both in myself and the nut-bar animals I live with. They've also been very comforting. Lil has decided she will be my protector and back-up cuddler, whenever Gracie gives her room to squeeze in and squish me. On those days when I'm stiff enough I need to lay down with heat, I don't need to bother with electronic gadgets - I have a Terrier on one side, a Lab on the other and a Chihuahua who snuggles up against whichever joint is sorest.  The Collie stops by to stare at my face and make sure I'm still breathing.

I'm grateful that I'm still able to work and that my employer is currently able to accommodate me. Also, I can still write and have a publisher who will be printing my latest book: Disability Services and Disability Studies in Higher Education: History, Contexts, and Social Impacts.  


Honestly, some days I feel a little muddled, so it's good to know I can still think and write and produce stuff other people want to read. That's an affirming fact that also fuels my optimism that I will continue to be able to live with whatever I am living with. It's all a matter of remembering to stop and smell the butterflies in life, right :-)

I am intending to be a bit better about keeping up with blogs I follow and with posting here at least several times a month. I also need to find my camera's battery charger so that I can post some update photos of my crew. Jenny's looking older but still plugging along. Chi Chi on the other hand seems to be getting younger and healthier. My sister suspects he's found a way to siphon off my life energy which is why he keeps getting stronger ... of all the Chihuahuas in the universe I had to adopt an evil genius!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not Getting Bitten

I recently read an inquiry from someone wondering what a person could do to avoid getting bitten by a dog.

Aside from the most obvious answer - avoid dogs - there are some straightforward ways a person can not do all the typical things that tend to lead to a dog bite.

Most people are bitten not by stray/strange dogs, or even mean/aggressive dogs. Most people are bitten by anxious or fearful dogs who feel threatened or cornered by something a person has done. For people who do not have a well developed sense of reading dog body-language, there are some basic tips for not placing one's self in a biting situation.

1) Don't charge up to, or rapidly approach, or pick up, or even directly approach a dog that isn't yours. In fact, the safest way to encounter a new dog is to let the dog approach you and take it's time sniffing around and sizing you up without you appearing to pay attention at all. Be mindful of the dog but be neutral and keep your hands to yourself and don't stare at the dog.

In fact, even when re-entering your own home it is a good idea to not make a big fuss over your own dog - not because you might get bitten but because this sends the wrong message to your dog; you are emphasizing that you've been apart - in other words you're emphasizing that separation is a bad or anxiety producing thing.  This can start to develop or reinforce a dog's anxiety over separation by making it a big deal that you were gone and are back. Low key entry and exits go a long way towards keeping emotions from running amok.

2) Similar to 1 - don't make a lot of noise like "Hey DOGGIE DOGGIE, come here doggie, come-here-come-here-come-here!" The last thing a dog that isn't certain of itself or you needs is for you to ramp up their sense of 'something weird is about to happen' by you creating a lot of noise and/or motion. Play it cool. Let the dog approach and don't whistle, call etc. Some dogs just aren't that in to you. Learn to live with that reality.

3) Remember, under the wrong circumstances any dog can bite. Even if they wag a tail and have an owner who assures you, "Oh, he's fine, he growls at everyone."

[This might be true - my own dear Gracie has a tendency to have a special growly-bark she uses when she's happy - but a stranger should never count on being able to tell the difference between her happy growl and her worried growl and if you were in my house I'd encourage you to use your own best judgement even if I were saying, "She loves hugs." People using common sense around strange dogs are less likely to get bitten.]

You don't need to be afraid of dogs - you do need to realize that if you do not have personal experience with a dog you also do not know what might trigger a specific dog into biting. Following the above few simple guidelines can keep you out of harm's way. It should also be mentioned - do not take a dog's food or items, or stand over a dog while it is eating or playing with a prized item if you do not know the dog, or if you know that the dog typically 'guards' valued items. If you own a dog with this behavior and you want to alter the behavior, you may also want to work with a trainer (because unless you've adopted the dog with this behavior you have also helped create the behavior in the first place.)

When one has time to learn about dog body language then one will realize that there are very few dogs who bite without ample warning and provocation. If people remembered to not treat every dog as a friendly dog who wants to be fussed over and grabbed by strangers, then there would be a lot fewer dog bites in the world.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kerry Blue Terrier

Developed as an all purpose breed in Ireland, the Kerry is an energetic and robust terrier. Admittedly, saying a terrier is energetic and robust is redundant, however, the Kerry is active even by terrier standards.

Like most terriers, a Kerry can be counted on for vermin patrol. Additionally, they have been used as farm dogs, as hunters and retrievers -- this is a truly multi purpose breed that was up to filling multiple needs for their people.

The refined look that comes from grooming, however, was not an early trademark of the breed. The Kerry was a rougher looking dog before they became popular off the farm and out of the highlands of County Kerry. Once they attracted the attention of English fanciers and were cleaned up though, their popularity quickly spread to bench shows.

The Kerry continues to be a breed that is at home in the show ring, family room, and in vermin competitions.

This is a breed that needs an even hand, exercise, training, and has a sense of fairness and fun. Best introduced to smaller animals/cats at a young age, their strong sense of prey drive means they may not do well with cats or bunnies should they only meet them later in life. Many terriers automatically chase that which moves quickly and Kerrys are no exception to this rule.

A Kerry pup is born black and with time and grooming their coat will lighten to the characteristic "blue". Grooming is also necessary to keep a Kerry looking like a Kerry and not a pile of animated hair - or a different kind of dog.

Sometimes people are attracted by the handsome looks and cheerful personality without realizing the bundle of energy and grooming requirements it takes to keep a Kerry healthy and looking like a typical member of the breed.

As a result of people sometimes obtaining a Kerry without realizing what they're actually signing on for, members of the breed require new homes and can be found through rescue. Retired show dogs also may be looking for a home once their career in the show ring is over.

This is a devoted, multi purpose, clever breed that can turn their paws and noses to many kinds of work. As a very low-shed breed they also are on the list of possible breeds for those with allergies. This is yet another breed on my list of maybe someday dogs. Handsome, fun, and just-independent-enough to make things interesting.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Does anyone else see the trend?

We think we're noticing something that is becoming too common to be a mere coincidence.

We will share some pictures here to see if anyone else notices it.

Blonde dogs in front of pastel backgrounds might be your first guess. 

You're sort of on the right track.

Look a little more closely though.

We can't help but think there's more going on here then the standard dog portrait....

Is anyone else starting to feel there's a larger theme here?

Far be it from us to sound an alarm when it isn't necessary.

But by now we think we've provided enough photographic proof to substantiate our claim.

Big white Easter Bunnies are using their fairly generic appearance as a cover to befriend, then dog-nap, hapless dogs.

Evidence suggests there is an extended  ring of them and we fear their operation has spread internationally.

The next time a big bunny starts to sidle up to your pooch - they may not have the innocent intentions that you'd expect from an Easter Rabbit.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Kindle Countdown Deal Dog Handbook/English Bull Terrier Info

Limited time Kindle sale

If you're on a budget and would like to check out our book, it is currently on a Kindle countdown sale.
(Don't know if this works outside the U.S.? Sorry if not.)

This book contains both stories about living with an English Bull Terrier as part of a family/dog pack (there is a Labrador and Collie who try and co-habitat in the same home as Gracie and I) and tips for traveling safely with a dog; kenneling/boarding dogs; and making estate plans that include your pets.
All with some humor whenever possible. If we don't laugh at ourselves, then it isn't fair to laugh at anyone else.

Customer service representatives are sitting by ready to take your orders.

Or chew up your paperwork - it just depends on the kind of day they're having.

In completely unrelated news - spring.
Photo by Laura Bulleit
My co-worker took  this picture today out her office window - yes today is March 28.
This is spring on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan - we are surrounded by Lake Superior and you can so often tell. Of course, two years ago we had grass and warm weather at this same time. You just never know.

Hope the rest of you are having an equally sunny but less snowy day!