Sunday, December 27, 2009

Eco-friendly dog poop bags?

While we were at the AKC/Eukanuba Natl Dog Championship show we perused the vendor booths and found something interesting. Dog poop bags that are not just biodegradable but are actually water-soluble.

You can flush these down your toilet.

For owners like us who have always had angst about using plastic bags for poop pickup, worrying about that disgusting effect we're having on the landfill, these products are of great interest.

At the same time, I live in a very old home (almost 100 years old) with very old plumbing. Dare I risk putting this stuff down the toilet? We're intrigued, and yes, we are trying them out.

The company is at 800-428-3645. I'll let you know what we think.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Should you auction off a puppy?

I had lunch the other day with a friend who is the executive director of a nonprofit. We were planning the annual fundraising gala, which includes an auction. I’m donating private dog training lessons to the auction. She shared with me that many people were urging her to get a puppy donated to auction off at the event. She asked me if I thought this was a good idea.

No, it’s not. The problem with it is that dogs are a big responsibility, and it would be wrong to just let anybody who put up the money walk off with the dog without the appropriate screening. What if the buyer’s landlord doesn’t allow pets? What if they have a yard that isn’t safely fenced? What if it doesn’t work out?

Here are some of the considerations people need to be guided through before getting a dog (thanks to the website from local rescue group, Rover Rescue):

Before you adopt a dog, please ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you willing to care for the dog throughout his or her entire lifetime? (Keep in mind that small dogs can live up to 18 years. )
2. Do you know how to housetrain a dog?
3. Can you afford the cost of food, grooming and regular veterinary care, including yearly vaccinations and check-ups? Dental cleaning?
4. Do you have the time to adequately exercise the dog?
5. Are you prepared to attend training classes to teach your dog basic obedience?
6. Are you prepared to hire a trainer if your dog has behavioral issues that you don’t know how to deal with?
7. Have you considered who will care for your dog during vacations or in an emergency? Can you afford kennel and boarding fees?
8. Will you give your pet love and attention when he or she needs you, and not just at your convenience?

Later, I called another friend who is also an executive director of a nonprofit, and I knew that her nonprofit had auctioned off a puppy 18 months ago (in fact, she bought the pup herself, after falling in love with it while caring for it for a week before the event). Even she agreed that she thinks the idea is not a good one, and is not one they would repeat.

She recalled a friend of hers who (at another event where a puppy was being auctioned) opened the bidding on the it just to get the bidding going. The friend did not actually want to OWN the dog, he just wanted to stimulate bidding. Well, guess what—he was the only bidder, and he ended up with a 15-year commitment he did not want.

A better idea is to put together a “New dog basket” containing the certificate for private lessons, a food and water bowl, a leash, a toy, some biscuits, and a gift certificate to a pet supply store. Include a card for so they can go online and instantly search through the various dogs available through all the local dog rescue groups and shelters.

LA county shelters to reduce pet adoption fees

(By the way, the LA county shelters currently have over 400 dogs available for adoption-- many labs, Havanese-type or poodle-type dogs, terrier mixes, a darling Pomeranian, and more).

From wire service reports
Posted: 12/16/2009 07:15:36 AM PST

Fees to adopt a pet will be reduced at all Los
Angeles County shelters this weekend through
Christmas Eve, county officials announced today.

All six county shelters will open at 9 a.m.
Saturday to host "Save-A- Stray for the Holidays"
events. Los Angeles County Animal Care and
Control officials hope to encourage Angelenos to
adopt stray animals rather than buying pets as
holiday gifts.

"Each year, the department takes in more than
90,000 animals. There are not enough homes for
all of them," said Michelle Roache, deputy
director of outreach and special enforcement for
the department. "Supporting adoption rather
than irresponsible breeding is one way to
significantly help to reduce this pet
overpopulation problem."

County officials hope to adopt out a record
number of pets during Saturday's events.

Pets looking for a new home can be found at:

-- Downey Animal Shelter, 11258 S. Garfield,

-- Carson Animal Shelter, 216 W. Victoria St.,

-- Baldwin Park Animal Shelter, 4275 N. Elton
St., Baldwin Park;

-- Lancaster Animal Shelter, 5210 W. Avenue I,

-- Castaic Animal Shelter, 31044 N. Charlie
Canyon Road, Castaic;

-- Agoura Animal Shelter, 29525 Agoura Road,
Agoura Hills; and

-- Antelope Valley Pet Stop, 42116 Fourth St.
East, Lancaster.

More information can be found at .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Report from the AKC/Eukanuba National Championships dog show

We arrived at the show at about 10:30 Saturday morning, just in time to get oriented and show up at the ring where the Borzois were being shown at 11:00am. There were 27 Borzois entered, and every one of them was beautiful. My friend Kay Novatny was there with her beautiful white and black boy, “Tie”, who is the dog who made me fall in love with this breed. Tie and Kay were in my agility class through the SPCA-LA and for 8 weeks I got to hang with them while waiting for our turn (I was in the class with Toby, my blue merle Sheltie). I soon felt like I was stalking her, because I just could not get enough of Tie. I truly have Kay to thank for ushering me into the world of Borzoi.

So they were in the ring, as was my own breeder, Marilyn McGraw, and her son, Stuart. Marilyn was showing Spark, who is with her for a year from Japan, where he became the number one Borzoi in that country. Her dog, Hunter (who is the father (sire) of my Borzoi, Bella) became the number one dog in the US, and he is now in Japan being shown there for a year or so.

By the way, considering how huge Borzoi are, and how space-constrained Japan is, I asked Marilyn why Borzoi were so popular there. She explained that the Japanese culture deeply reveres beauty, and they consider the Borzoi to be a stunningly beautiful breed (I would have to agree). So despite their space limitations they are in love with the breed. Spark is a gorgeous white and black male, and I expect him to become very successful on the show circuit under Marilyn’s handling. Here is an older photo of her with Hunter.

We met up with our friends Cindy Chiles and Helmut Fischer, and enjoyed watching the Havanese breed being shown. They adopted an adorable (slightly oversized) Havanese from Rover Rescue about a year ago, and it just goes to show what wonderful dogs are available through rescue groups. Their dog, Buddy, has the cutest personality I’ve ever met. And he’s adorable to look at.

There were lots of vendors at the show, including some beautiful collar vendors, though for hound collars my favorite is still 2 Hounds Design (which you can only get online). DogWise was there, and they have an unparalled selection of dog training books. I was in training heaven.

The “meet the breed” section was lots of fun—different breed groups were each invited to set up a booth, and they decorated it and often came in costume with their dogs to allow the public to meet the dogs and learn about the breed. For example, the club for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi came dressed as Welsh shepherdesses (they called themselves wenches!) and they each had a dog to share with interested people. They were quite a hit. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel booth had folks dressed as the king and queen, with CKCS’s snoozing on their laps (which is exactly what the dogs did in the court where they were developed!). There were a few Scottie puppies and I fell completely in love with them. There were also a few NEW breeds, which just became recognized by the AKC this past January.

The obedience section was great fun to watch and this the agility rings are the areas where I see the connection between the dogs and their owners really shine. Formal obedience competition is not growing in popularity, partially I think because it requires a level of drilling and practice far beyond what most casual dog owners are interested in. The foundation behaviors are great, but I prefer to work with folks on “real world” obedience, such as teaching a dog to maintain a down-stay at a Starbucks table even though another dog walks close by and sniffs at him. THAT is a useful skill. Coming when called is important, though I don’t care if the dog is sitting perfectly straight in front of me when he comes (whereas in competitive obedience, it matters). There is a newer form of less-strict obedience called Rally that is growing in popularity with more dog owners today, and I’ll write about that in a future post.

Overall, the show was a lot of fun, and Sunday night a Scottish Terrier was crowned the Best in Show.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Going to the AKC/Eukanuba National Dog Championships this weekend?

This weekend is the big dog show in Long Beach (see link below for details). I’m going on Saturday and possibly on Sunday too (I may be helping out at the booth for the Lomita Obedience Training Club). If you haven’t been to this show before, I encourage you to go because it’s the unique in several ways— the dogs that attend have had to earn a high number of points showing throughout the year in their various events—ie, in conformation, in obedience, and in agility. Only the top-scoring group of dogs are invited to attend this show (that’s what makes it a National Championship).

Last year when I went and observed the obedience competition, I was brought to tears watching a woman compete flawlessly with her magnificent Doberman. The woman was born without arms. She has eliminated the word “limitation” from her vocabulary and when she and her dog entered the ring, you could hear a pin drop. She had to enter and exit the ring with her dog on leash, and for her that was a very thin leash which she held with her toes (she competed in bare feet). I later spoke with her. She is a CPA from Louisiana, and has never let her disability stop her. I was in awe and it was very inspiring in many ways.

On a lighter note, there will be the most wonderful selection of dog collars and leashes and beds and toys and everything else you can imagine. There will be every kind of dog in the book. It’s going to be a lot of fun. For a quick video of an agility run from last year’s competition, click here. For some real comedy, see the really BIG dogs running--

Only dogs entered into competition are allowed in, so this is a “don’t bring your own dog” event. For a few of you on my list here who are in the market for a dog, this is a great place to meet breeders and do your homework and meet dogs and ask questions.

If you decide to go and want to try to hook up, call me on my cellphone (see below), I’ll have it with me.
At the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship this weekend (the nation’s largest dog show), more than 3,000 of man’s best friends will be exhibiting their obedience and athletic skills, while competing in a variety of live and televised competitions.

Diane Bassett
cell: 310-896-6419