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!
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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!