Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Year in Review

Well. December 31. Time flies, doesn't it?

I started this blog on April 7, with my post Why a Doberman? I think I'll be revisiting that question in the coming year, not because I've changed my mind, but rather because I think I might be able to articulate it further, or better.

Now, 8 months later, I've crossed the 200 post mark. I've got a bunch of followers on Twitter, fewer on Google itself, or that Blogger tells me, anyway. I've come to terms with the face that Blogger's stats are a bit suspect, but that's what I have StatCounter for, right? But, my Blogger stats are from the beginning, and I can at least tell you that I've had 17,472 pageviews. Not visitors (hoo boy, I'm not that popular!), but still. That's a big number!

So, what should my goals be for the coming year?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kreative Blogger Award (Thanks Roberta)!

I knew I kept meaning to blog about something.

Over the holidays, admittedly, I've been a bit absent (which I didn't realize until I scrolled down through my entries and went "oh, well, I've been remiss). But I only just remembered what I was informed of almost two weeks ago: Roberta @ Silverwalk passed on the Kreative Blogger Award to me!   See how grateful I've been? Geeze. Thanks, Roberta! I'm finally doing it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Cold

Every winter, whether we like it or not, the cold does come. We people have done clever things like invent clothing and build houses to deal with it, in addition to having harnessed the power of Fire in the first place.

Dogs? They have fur. Most dogs, in fact, have lots of fur, in multiple layers. The Doberman, sleek breed that it is, does not have an undercoat. Elka's fur in particular reminds me of eyelashes, and when I find one of her hairs on me, or when she's not around, I wonder if it is, in fact, an eyelash or not.

So, thin glossy hair plus winter? Cold Doberman. A lot of the time, this also means sleeping Doberman.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, from the Elka Almanac! Doesn't Elka look so happy in her Santa hat? We're wishing everybody a safe and happy holiday. No chocolate, no poinsettias, only toys and good wholesome treats!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.2

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Special Needs Dobermans: Creative Christmas Crafts Combo!

Well, it's that time of year. Giving, receiving. Receiving, giving. Baking. Being thankful.

I wrote about Special Needs Dobermans once before, when West Virginia Whisper's accident first happened. Now I'm writing about them again, because they're having a Creative Christmas Crafts Combo fundraiser!

There are a whole lot of things in their fundraising raffle, and tickets are $4 each, or 3 for $10. They can't use PayPal to take payment for the tickets, as PayPal has a thing in their ToS against gambling. So, per the SND site, tickets can only be purchased by check, sent to:

Special Needs Dobermans
144 Road 2776
Aztec NM 87410

You can email Donna Campbell at with "Name, address, and email address (add your phone number if you wish to be notified as a winner by phone)", per the SND site. Also, the drawing is on December 25. So, since it's so close, "Donna would appreciate it if you would email her to let her know your check is in the mail so she can give you your ticket numbers!" (quoted from the page that the fundraising link above.)

Without Special Needs Dobermans, a lot of Dobermans would go without care. Without Special Needs Dobermans, Whisper would have had a hard time getting her swag robo leg. Really? Four bucks isn't that bad, and neither is ten.

(note: SND logo pulled from their site. It is not mine)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Mischief December 19

For a long time, I've coveted Nina Ottosson toys, or at least toys of that style. They're very involved puzzle toys, meant to engage problem solving skills and, one might assume, use up mental energy. It's a good combination that results in a dog that is fed, and that is perhaps ready for a nap, or at least ready to be nice and calm, and not an energetic nutjob. I.e., the formula to keep a dog out of mischief!

I haven't bought one of the Ottosson toys; they are rather expensive. However, Walgreens had a toy of a similar style for $9.99!

Elka is definitely a Kong veteran, and there have even been time periods where we fed her from Kongs instead of her bowls. I was interested in her reaction to the new toy. The need to slide the pieces in the puzzle is a very different approach, instead of picking up the puzzle and dropping it, or holding it down to lick it.

She brought Gumby with her to investigate. I admit, I put some food in one of the uncovered holes, so that she'd be aware that's what was going on. Food tends to be a good motivator for our girl! The puzzle is not such that I could feed her a meal with it (or I could, but I'd have to take it away and refill, and that's a little more involved than one tends to want to be when feeding one's dog from a toy).

There was a lot of sniffing. And licking.

The sliding pieces do fit in rather snugly. That, and just showing her how to do it kind of defeats the purpose, yes (that, and just showing her how to do it doesn't necessarily mean she'll get it; dogs might learn by example, but I think only to a point)?

She testified to the toy. It did not make food happen. So, she nosed the toy around on the floor for a little while as well. Overall, it kept Elka occupied for a good long time (and me too, as I was taking pictures and offering encouragement). I've had it out at least once since, on day when we had people over, but hadn't gone out for our walk. Puzzle Toy helped greatly in diminishing the mischief making so that the grownups could talk!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review: How To Use Dogs Effectively In Modern Police Work, by Irvin E. Marders

When poking around to see what kind of training and treatment New York State police dogs received (Cooperstown is nearby, and I believe that's where the K9 headquarters is), I came across the phrase that they use the "Baltimore Method" with the dogs. From the State Police site:

The “new method” of training dictated that the canines be sociable, allowed to be in and around the general public, and reside in the handlers residence. Most canines up to this point were extremely aggressive and kenneled when not in use. This method, is still one of the most prevalent training methods in the United States.
Well that's interesting, I thought. It makes sense to me, though, and is a principle I believe strongly, that a working dog, police or otherwise, needs to be socialized with a range of people so that she is not suspicious of people as a rule, but only when ordered or necessary. Of course, I then went to the Google to see if I could turn up more about the Baltimore Method. I found what seems to be a personally maintained historical web site about canine units in the Baltimore City Police Department, that does include information about and some pictures of the dogs.

It also mentioned a book, How to Use Dogs Effectively in Modern Police Work, by Irvin E. Marders. And, though I am not a police officer, and they tend not to get civilians involved with training (And use the Baltimore Method, so no kennels), I just had to read it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Mischief December 12

Is it Monday again already?

Well, I'm being a little mischievous in posting this.

Looks like it would be an interesting book to read, yes? Well. It was written in 1986, by a Veterinarian, though not a Veterinary Behaviorist. So, when I got to the part where Ms. Milani was discussing how dogs don't think and dogs don't have feelings, I was done. That was pretty early. My own feelings aside, if dogs (and other animals) don't think, then how is it we measure and rely upon their problem solving skills in certain instances (SAR and military work, among others). If dogs don't think and have feelings, then how is it that they develop Post Traumatic Stress?

Well. An anonymous dog shared my opinion, evidently. Though also showed great restraint.

Above is the only damaged page that I could see in the book. Not the cover, none of the pages with words on them. Just that first blank inner page, as though to instill the warning "Here be Monsters".

Elka has never ever chewed a book, and for that I'm proud, happy, and grateful. But some books....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dog Body Language: Photo example

I was taking pictures of Elka in her harness, when I got this picture. I'd asked her to sit, and she got up in between completing the cue and my getting the picture, so I asked for another sit.

See the lovely calming signals Elka is presenting? She turned her head, so she isn't looking right at me. Her tongue is doing that because I caught her at the beginning of a yawn. And she licked her chops after. 

Sorry, puppy, but "sit" does mean "sit".

Friday, December 9, 2011

Product Review: EZYDog Chest Plate Harness, Part One

Back in October (wow, that was two months ago. How did that happen?), Brady from EZYDog contacted a number of BlogPaws bloggers to see if they would like to review one of their products. This was a bit of kismet, as I was looking for a harness for Elka, that would function in the car with a seatbelt, and the EZYDog Chest Plate Harness is the one that I had sort of settled on (that, or getting a mucho expensive leather tracking/Schutzhund one, on the rationale that it would outlive us both).

So, delighted, I emailed Brady back, heck yes I would like to review! Could I get it in red? Of course!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spreading the Good Word

I work at the library, and often, though perhaps not as frequently as you might thing, I have opportunity to talk with other dog owners. Today I had a particularly fulfilling conversation.

A woman came to the desk, looking slightly lost. She said "I've tried to look this up in the catalog, but maybe I'm spelling his name wrong? It's a dog trainer. Cesar something..."

As you might imagine, from reading my blog, I flinched a bit. But, I looked him up, and explained that the name wasn't spelled like "Julius Caesar". I gave her a piece of paper with the call number, took a breath, and said "That's where you'll find his books, but may I make a few suggestions? I find his methods to be more coercive than strictly necessary, especially depending on the breed you're interested in. I have a Doberman, and they're just so smart, that kind of thing isn't necessary, and might backfire."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Mischief December 5

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and in December, in Central New York, I certainly take what I can get.

I've had a lingering cold-flu thing for about two weeks, so you can imagine, my walks with Elka have suffered.  Well, certain other things have apparently suffered as a result. As in, the Doberman needs regular exercise in order to be able to access her brain!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Online Store Review: Mr. Chewy

Just before Thanksgiving, I got an email from a representative of Mr. Chewy.

He flattered me, which is always a great thing, saying "your blog speaks directly to our target demographic and you've clearly created an influential presence". This has been my goal to a degree, besides having an outlet for talking about Elka, and dogs, when nobody else I knew in person wanted to much hear about dogs anymore. I try to cover important topics, and things that are important to me. Brant at Mr. Chewy extended a coupon offer to me, so that I would check them out and review them here.

First step was, of course, to find out whether Mr. Chewy was in fact a real web site that is a store that sells people things, and not a scam. It is, in fact! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Free Kibble!

There is a web site that I visit daily. Okay, well there are a number of them, but I want to tell you about this one specifically.  It is The default is for dogs, but there is a cat portion as well.

The way it works is thus: if you go daily, and answer the trivia questions, they donate 10 free pieces of Halo pet food to shelter dogs and cats; here's the analysis of it on Dog Food Advisor. It isn't on Dog Food Analysis, that I could tell, but their search function can be wonky. It doesn't matter if you get the question right or wrong, you just have to go. 10 pieces of kibble isn't a lot, but if you count it out and look at it, it's better than nothing. Since Free Kibble started, many shelter meals have been provided through these donations.

In addition to that, they've just released their first book, Mimi and Maty to the Rescue! You can buy it on (linked below) and every purchase of the book donates FIVE BOWLS of food! Not pieces of kibble, bowls!  Also, for the first 100 copies sold, the Freekibble Foundation will donate 100 books to schools to "inspire young readers to help animals!"(link to the promo page on the Free Kibble site here). It looks like a cute book, and is certainly a great message and a good cause!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday November 30, 2011

I discovered on Saturday that this is what Elka does when "pizza" is mentioned in a certain context.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Human Dinner

I was making dinner, and at the last moment remembered to snap a picture, for Tasty Tuesday!

Though Elka-Friendly, tonight's Chicken BLT Wraps were just for the humans of the household. She got a bit of the chicken, and a tiny bit of the bacon.

Being a shoddy photographer, I did not set the wrap up very picturesquely before wrapping it, but you can see the baby spinach, and the bacon, and there's tomato in there, I swear! Cheddar cheese (of course), a tiny bit of ranch, and chicken that I pan-cooked in olive oil and ginger brandy, with salt and pepper, and a touch of chili powder to make it interesting.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Mischef November 28

Elka is, in general, very good. Maybe not harp and halo good, but when she's "bad", we can typically tell why.

Sometimes, though, she chews things. I mentioned this last week with the wall, and now I'm mentioning it again, with a different example: Chap Stick.

Now, Morgan, one of the dogs on  Tales and Tails, has already been a Chap Stick culprit, and I am in no way trying to steal her thunder. But Elka was, apparently.

We have a coffee table, and the coffee table has stuff on it. That's just a way of life. 99% of the time, Elka leaves that stuff alone. Sometimes, though, she's bored, or something catches her fancy, and she does a thing like take a paper towel and shred it.  This time, though, we were one week into my being mostly down with a flu-cold-unpleasantness. So, I had some Burt's Bees (much like Morgan's "mom" did) and left it on the coffee table, where Elka had never bothered it before. I was upstairs sorting laundry and, on a hunch, called Elka.

She came to the top of the stairs and obviously had something in her mouth. I said "Drop it", and she did immediately. It was the Burt's Bees, medicated with Clove Oil, sans cap. I told her she was good for dropping it, which she was, and ran downstairs, hoping to find the cap. I don't think it would be big enough, really, to cause a problem, but don't want to take that chance. The cap was on the couch, smashed out of recognition, other than being red. So, Elka had gnawed the cap off of the tube, and then my Mischief Sense tingled and I called her before she got any further. The Burt's Bees was, alas, covered in dog hair (and had been in her mouth), so I threw it away.

A different Burt's Bees, not the discarded one. For reference. The clove in this is very understated.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: Brain Games For Dogs, by Claire Arrowsmith

Since I'm working on Elka's Trick Dog Titles (just 4 new ones left until Intermediate Trick Dog is ours!), and since it sometimes takes a lot to occupy Elka in the house, I frequently check out every book that intimates that it's on tricks and training and other such things.

Brain Games For Dogs, by Claire Arrowsmith, is a slim volume, but it shows basic obedience and tricks that you can do to engage your dog's brain, and have a lot of fun in the process.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, From the Elka Almanac!

I missed out on Tasty Tuesday, and this is too many words for Wordless Wednesday but, you know? I'm probably taking Thanksgiving off. So there you have it.

Last year, Target had these lovely dog toy "bundles" that mimicked a holiday meal. I had friends in Albany pick one up for Elka, but never gave it to her, for whatever reason (okay, plush + Doberman = short lived, and it's just so cute!) But, today, I'm going to be a nerd and use it to illustrate human holiday meals and what they can mean for our dogs!

So, we have a decent and stereotypical Holiday spread here (Thanksgiving or Christmas, really), sans dessert.

Depending on what you feed your dog, you may already give her quite a lot in the way of grains, as illustrated by the dinner roll. Unless it's supposed to be a hot cross bun, in which case we do have dessert. If baking bread or rolls on Thanksgiving, make sure your dog doesn't ingest any raw yeast dough, which can expand in her stomach and cause pain and gastric distress. The potato isn't so bad, really, depending on quantity (and whether it's loaded with butter). A lot of people who feed their dogs grain free, but still go commercial, end up with a fish and potato brand.

Next we have the veggies: Corn and either broccoli or asparagus. Again, depending on what you feed your dog, she may eat a lot of corn. I mean lots and lots. In fact, if interested, you might hop over to Dog Food Analysis and check out how your dog's kibble measures up. It has its own "star" rating, but also includes why foods receive the scores that they do, and list ingredients. Corn on the cob may or may not be a choking hazard, and if you decide to give it to your dog, do so only with supervision and make sure very large pieces don't get swallowed to cause stomach upset later. Broccoli is all right, as long as it doesn't exceed 10% of your dog's daily diet; apparently there's a thing called "broccoli toxicity", with stomach upset starting at the 10% mark and the 25% mark having a possibility for fatality. That sounds pretty scary, and I'm going to try to find some peer reviewed sources to verify that at another time. Asparagus I'm less familiar with, but my understanding is that in large amounts, it can cause upset stomach (are we sensing a theme?)

And now, the star of dinner, turkey! Turkey itself is a fairly lean meat. The problem here is its "add-ons". NEVER feed your dog cooked bones, poultry or otherwise. NEVER. They have a high chance of splintering and perforating organs and other necessary things. My understanding is that folks who feed raw will give RAW, whole turkey to dogs and those bones are all right, but if you decide to feed raw, make sure to do your research and discuss with an animal nutritionist so that you know about the calcium-phosphorus ratios and all that good stuff. Turkey skin, in excess, can cause pancreatitis, the symptoms of which are things like vomiting, and in extreme severity can require hospitalization. You can read more about that here, as I'm already getting rather wordy, but feel it's important to highlight these things.

Then, dinner's over. Do you run out and play right away? Well, no. Most humans, after gorging themselves on Thanksgiving dinner, roll themselves to a chair or couch and watch football, or engage in long rambling conversations. For a dog, true exertion close to a meal can cause bloat, a swelling of the stomach caused by gas and such, that may involve torsion, and certainly involves an operation to the tune of $1500 or so, and even then, depending on how early it is caught, the chances of survival may not be so great. This is a video of a dog bloating, an Akita, not a Doberman. It's good education, on the sort of things to look for in a dog, but also pretty heartbreaking. The dog lived, so you know ahead of time. The "plate" that Elka's toy pack came on is a Frisbee (well, a Flying Disk), which I thought was very clever!

When confronted with her plate of Holiday Goodies, Elka wasn't really sure what to make of them. She was interested, certainly, but the whole package was a mystery.

Eventually, I took pity on her, and extricated the corn.

Eventually, the turkey followed suit. Elka really dug the turkey; it was interestingly shaped and textured, and the drumsticks are ropes! Elka loves ropes.

She had to make sure she wasn't missing out on anything, of course.

And, because I'm a meanie, I only let her play with them for a little while, so that they last longer than five minutes. The squeakers in them are actually rather hard (perhaps because they've cured for a year?) and don't squeak at the slightest touch, which is optimal for Elka, and poor for the survivability of the toys.

Have a safe and happy holiday, everybody!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Mischief! November 21

A lot of people have truly shocking pictures of their dogs.

Dogs sitting inside an eviscerated frame that was a couch when people left the house an hour before. Dogs who obviously chewed the blinds right off of the windows. Dogs who killed the dragons that lived in their very own innocent dog beds.

I am a bad pet owner. I don't grab the camera when I see things like that (okay, so the bed is the only exampled I really have). I get rid of the evidence, without correction, which is very hard as a person to do, because the dog is obviously looking guilty, right? The dog must know what she did, right? Well, not really.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vote for the Doberman Assistance Network!

Chase Community Giving, right now on Facebook, has voting for a charity to share in a $3 million grant. The top 100 voted for charities and causes are the ones who get money. There are only a few days left (I wish I'd known sooner)

The link to go vote is here: Chase Community Giving on Facebook

Please vote, and tell others to vote. The Doberman Assistance Network has a lot of dogs relying on it, and has frequent new cases. You can only vote for a charity once, but there are other Doberman charities on the list, if you're willing to go gung-ho!

Please post, and crosspost. I've crossposted this from Doberman Talk, onto Facebook, Twitter, and Livejournal. Want to help? Elka appreciates it.

Service Dogs and You

It is a crime to lie about whether your dog is a Service Dog.

Would I like more public places and businesses to allow "pet" dog access? Yes. But I'm not going to lie about Elka. Elka could technically, at this point, be considered my "in house" service dog. She has prevented numerous full-blown migraines for me. She can pick up items that I've dropped and retrieve items that I name. I taught her to brace when I lean on her, and she can help me up and even walk with me if I'm leaning. But have I trained her for public access? Not to a degree that I'm comfortable doing something like, say, taking her to a grocery store on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Yet, this past Saturday, somebody in my town did just that.
how embarassing

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop!

About a week ago, I received an email from Alfie over at Alfie's Blog about a new blog hop! I was very excited to hear about it, and was pleased that he'd taken the time to let me know.
Monday Mischief is the pet blog hop that wraps up the weekend! From Australia, to the UK, California, to Ohio, our dogs all love getting up to something mischievous over the weekend and we are sure yours do as well! This isn't just open to dogs though, because we know that all other animals can get up to lots of mischief too.
 I thought it was a fun and new blog hop idea! Now, you may have noticed, I think Elka's pretty great. She's very very good most of the time, and even when she's "bad", it's not generally her fault. Or not generally that bad. This is one of those stories, but it more or less applies to the "mischief" category. I wasn't sure if I would have an entry, you see, and my good Dobergirl rose to the occasion for me!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Toby Project: Low Cost Spay and Neuter

I'm not in New York City, but this is a project that definitely deserves attention.

Poking around on Dogster, as one does, I found an article about the Toby Project. The Toby Project is a non profit, low cost spay and neuter van that travels New York City.

The spay or neuter (and rabies vaccines, apparently) are free to New York City residents who are on public assistance. They're also free for "pit bulls and non-purebred and cats". For purebreds and "designer breeds", the spay or neuter is $100 and the rabies vaccine is $10.

The November calendar for the Spay/Neuter van can be found here, and you can call 212-799-1120 for information.

At prices like that, and with the information readily available, cost is no excuse. It's cheaper to go spay or neuter your dog or cat, no matter how awesome that individual may be, than to responsibly breed a litter. It may or may not be healthier for your dog or cat; there are opinions on both sides of this. A female dog who has been spayed cannot get uterine or ovarian cancer; a female dog who was spayed before her first heat has a reduced chance of mammary cancer. A male dog who has been neutered will not roam the neighborhood to find the female in heat that he can smell, will not get testicular cancer, and may or may not be more mellow in general (though dog behavior is frequently a training issue rather than whether the animal is intact).

Spay or neuter your pet. Elka says it's the responsible thing to do. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wake Up Call

This morning, my alarm didn't go off.

I genuinely have no idea why, but my alarm not going off on a Saturday, the one day I need to be out of the house and at work by 8:30, is not good. I still got up and got to work in plenty of time, though. Because of Elka.

The alarm didn't go off at 7:00, the time for which it was set. I slumbered on blissfully. At 7:20, Elka stood up, taking the blanket with her. This woke me up, of course, and I looked up at her and said "What?" She stood on the bed with her head craned down, staring at me.

Then I thought "gee, it's awfully bright", and reached up for my phone to check the time, and then jumped right out of bed.

Elka to the rescue!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Bargain Doberman is Not a Good Deal

Because I like looking at pictures of puppies, I frequently poke around on Craigslist, or Want Ad Digest, sites like that. While there are many many adorable puppies on there, I would never purchase a puppy from such a venue. In fact, more than once, I sent somebody on Craigslist an email that their "Free to a Good Home" Doberman might be better served at Doberman Rescue Unlimited, or that the Doberman Assistance Network might give them some good advice.

A $650 puppy is a tempting prospect, I know. Dobermans are expensive. You can buy a computer for what you'd pay for a Doberman, cropped and docked and hopefully with health testing done. And sometimes you luck out with that $650 dog. And other times, you get what you pay for.
Example: Do you want your Doberman's ears to look like this? Though a painting, this was included in a puppy advertisement, and not representative of a "correct" crop.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Don't Buy From a Puppy Mill, Charlie Brown!

I thought I was really cool and came up with this correlation on my own, but The Examiner did beat me to it: Charlie Brown's Snoopy is from a puppy mill.

Sure, it was called Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, but even such a pastoral-sounding name isn't really all that great once you think about it. Where do puppies come from? The puppy farm. It's suspect to me, especially with the apparent prevalence of Amish puppy mills, ostensibly on their farms.

Wordless Wednesday: November 9 1022, Awkward Family Pet Photos winner!

All right, I know you've waited with bated breath!

(the contestants)

(not as cute as last week's selection. Elka in fact picked up the winner and flung the paper. She had to go out.)

(the winner!)

So, Mahria, email me with your address so I can email Random House!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Bunnies!

Today's Tasty Tuesday Treats are brought to the Elka Almanac by Mahria, from Cupcakes, Cookies, and Other Baking Adventures! Mahria is a far more dedicated tasty treat baker than I am, you see, and while normally she brings our Saturday gaming group human treats, this past Saturday, she brought Elka treats!

The Elka, she was pleased.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Park in November? You Betcha!

Today was a beautiful, sunny day. Far too nice to stay inside and work on my novel instead of taking Elka to the park. So out we went!

Currently, I have an EZ Dog Harness, sent to me by the company, to review. It has a seatbelt attachment that I haven't used yet, but that was a primary reason for me wanting a harness for Elka.