Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Unbreakoball: Seriously, what's the deal?

Back on June 4, I reviewed The Unbreakoball. I  mentioned that Elka was scared of it, or at the very least, displeased. I also speculated that perhaps it would work as an outdoor toy.

We had a brief interaction with a toddler this week, where the little girl threw/dropped her basketball to Elka, who obliged by pouncing it, and dancing with her paws on either side of it, trying to pick it up. Everybody was delighted, I picked up the ball myself after a few minutes, and everybody went home happy. Unbreakoball outside then, I thought. This will be great!

Friday, June 29, 2012

"That's a big scary dog"

At the park, a guy was talking on his cell phone on one of the benches. Elka was staring at him, for whatever reason.  Maybe she thought he had food. Maybe she wondered who he was talking to. I'm not really sure; she stares at us when we're on the phone as well, or on a headset with somebody, and if it's somebody she knows, she seems confused that she can't find them.

But, said Cellphone Talker looked up at Elka and grew visibly uncomfortable. I just smiled, and he said "Wow. That's a big scary dog. What kind of dog is that?"

"She's a Doberman."

"Really big."

"Yes, she is."

When I have a conversation like that with a person, I am amused, I'm not going to lie. But really, I have to wonder about that person's prior dog experience. Had they been knocked over by big dogs as a child and avoided dogs since? Had they been attacked? Had they only interacted with ill trained dogs and owners who thought it was funny?  Nothing insulting was said, so it's not like I could really be indignant. I just wonder.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Don't Leave Your Dog in the Car!

Perusing my local Police Blotter, as one does, I saw a blog-pertinent entry: "confinement of a companion animal (dog) in a vehicle during extreme temperatures." We had some real scorchers last week (after it stopped raining), so I can imagine this wasn't an isolated incident. I can only hope that the dog was all right.

Dogs Today Magazine, in the UK, has a great site detailing information about how hot a car gets on a warm day, windows open or not. Granted, the car experiment they did records the temperature results in Celsius, not Fahrenheit, but Google is your friend when making temperature conversions. And actually, in their very last picture, you can see that even with all four car windows open, in the sun, the interior reached 50 Celsius, which looks remarkably close to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to PetMd, some signs of heat stroke are: panting, rapid heart beat, irregular heart beats, reddened gums and moist tissues of the body, excessive drooling, seizures, and shock. There are more, but those are some apparent ones, and you can see the whole list on that site, if you'd like.

One thing I've noticed about my area is that there is hardly any shade to be found in parking areas.   Really, I rarely have Elka in the car with me anyway, because she is permitted in so few establishments, I figure she's just happier at home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Help Feed Shelter Dogs!

Though I don't feed Elka Pedigree dog food, I do have to say, they have a couple of nice programs.

For one, you can share a video on their site, and they'll donate a bowl of food to a shelter dog.

They also have "Write a Post, Help a Dog". Really, I just can't pass that up! Even though I didn't go to BlogPaws 2012 (my understanding is they're the big group that started/participates in this initiative), I can still help from home.  With each post, Pedigree will donate a 17 pound of food, until June 30; the post just needs to be directly linked in the linky below.

Thanks, Pedigree! Even if shelter dogs don't have homes right this second, at least they'll be fed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Update on Doberman Health Survey: More Participants Still Needed!

Go to to take the Doberman survey and receive your DNA sampling kit. June 30 is the survey deadline!

Dr. Neff's team would like to share that the response to the recent request for participation in canine research to benefit Dobermans has been nothing short of PHENOMENAL. They are IN AWE of the Doberman community!
Several hundred more participants are still needed, so please note the health survey closes June 30th. If you haven't participated already, please do, and please share with friends and all Doberman owners and encourage them to do so as well.
 Several additional items:
 1. Some survey participants will be receiving a targeted follow up survey in the near future: your specific responses for your Doberman(s) were of special interest to researchers and may help advance this study effort. NO email addresses or other information will EVER be shared or divulged to others, this is and will remain a strictly confidential undertaking between the researchers and ourselves.
 a. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, world renowned canine behaviorist and collaborator with Dr. Neff on Doberman behavior research, will also be undertaking a few select telephone interviews with a small number of survey respondents.  Participation is, of course, voluntary, but the research group would like to thank everyone for their support with these quality control efforts.  Dr. Dodman is a pleasure to speak with- and feel free to discuss any questions you may have if you are involved in a telephone interview.

2. Several hundred more responses are still needed to meet the goal of 3000 Dobermans participating in this focused research effort. Please participate if you have not, and share this email with ANYONE who owns a Doberman- thank you!
3. Also please note - information and specimens on ALL DOBERMANS are encouraged, not just Dobermans with disorders. Controls for both disease and behavior are of value, so **even if you answer No to every question on the survey**, a DNA sample from your dog will definitely help this research!
An overview summary of participation (ALL anonymous, statistics only) in this study will be provided shortly after the survey closes, and Dr. Neff will be speaking in greater depth on these issues during his presentation at Health Night at our 2012 National.

Thank you again VERY MUCH EVERYONE who has participated and will participate in this study effort. You continue to advance the reputation of the Doberman community as the #1 community of dog owners most dedicated to their breed!!
Kathy Davieds DVM
Please crosspost

Birthday BBQ at the park

Sunday was pretty busy! I already posted about the walk that Elka and I took (or one aspect of said walk, anyway). I didn't tell the story of the whole day, though.

See, after we got back from our walk, we cooled down for a bit, and had some water. Then we got in the car and (wait for it) went back to the park! It was our friend's birthday, and we were invited.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On Our Sunday Walk...

Today on our walk, we saw:

An Airdale Terrier on a Flexi lead.
A Rat Terrier on a Flexi lead.
A Put Bull Terrier (I think) on a Flexi lead.

I don't have pictures, because I don't want to be a weirdo who randomly takes pictures of people on the street, but do they have the corner on the market, or what?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

We got the Sunshine Award!

Sue Kottwitz, over at Talking Dogs, has given me (well, I guess Elka and I) the Sunshine Award! Thank you very much, Sue!

So, I need to answer the questions that come with it, and pass it along to 10 people and let them know they have received it. Easy peasy, right?

(why does it always have to be 10?! Not that I don't follow and read at least 10 lovely blogs, if not more....but, there's always some overlap, and I don't want to seem like a pathetic groupie, giving the same ten people blog awards because I forgot I already gave them blog awards. Sigh.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22 is Take Your Dog To Work Day!

Apparently, somebody decided June 22 is Take Your Dog to Work Day. I don't disagree with such a notion; I think it's a great idea. Especially because they keep doing studies on people who can take their dogs to work, and coming up with a measurable reduction of stress and an increase in job satisfaction.

But, I can't take Elka to the library. If I was going to commit to the notion that she's really-truly my service dog, I guess it would be no contest, but I don't feel that my migraines, at current, reduce my quality of life such that I suffer from that degree of disability. Some people do, and I know that I'm profoundly lucky. Anyway, I did the next best thing: I took Elka for a walk in the library park.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Doberman Health: Idiopathic Head Tremors

On Friday I posted about the DNA survey for Doberman health. I got my sample package super quick! I swabbed Elka this morning and mailed it out. She let me do it without any kind of a struggle, but was overall less than enthused.

So, what do I think qualified Elka for the Doberman health study? Well, first off, every study needs a control group. Even if she wasn't "normal", they still might have wanted a DNA sample. There were two things on the survey that Elka displayed, though: Idiopathic Head Tremors, and a specific preference for a toy. We've talked about Gumby Love here before, but we haven't talked about the head tremors.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Limited Time: 4 Year Old Doberman in South Carolina

ANIMAL ID: 16457617
BREED: Doberman
SEX: Female
EST. AGE: 4 yrs
EST. WEIGHT: 50 lbs
HEALTH: Heartworm negative
ADDITIONAL INFO: Has cropped ears
UPDATE: space is limited!!!

Stella is in the Greenville, South Carolina Animal Shelter…Can you help her?

Some things you should know when working with us:
1.)** Not all animals listed on this email are available TODAY!* Please look at the “available date” under each animal picture to see when they can leave the shelter.
2.)* When you reply to confirm dogs or cats, please include in your email what rescue you work with.
3.)* Dogs are not heartworm tested until a rescue confirms them (unless otherwise noted).* If you CANNOT take a HW+ animal, please mention it when you confirm! Cats are not tested for felv-fiv until confirmed please state if you cannot take an FIV + or FELV+ cat.
4.) We CANNOT guarantee the health of an animal.* We focus on preventative health and do not have the resources to have every animal vet checked prior to placement.
5.)* Pull fees MUST be paid at the time of confirming the animal, and at the absolute latest, when the animal is picked up from our shelter.* We no longer invoice- sorry!
Please be patient with us.* We intake 20,000 animals/year and have only 2 staff dedicated to the rescue placement process.* We sift through 100+ emails/day.* We will respond to your inquiry, but it may be a brief exchange and may not be immediate.* Thank you for understanding!

If you can help, please email

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

QR Codes on Bananas?

Welcome to the world of tomorrow, right guys?

Elka likes bananas just as much as I do.

I once listened to a story (or part of one) on NPR about banana republics in Central America. Not the overpriced clothing store, but areas of land controlled by, I guess, banana lords rather than drug lords. Truth be told, I don't remember much of it. I was giggling too much at the serious NPR voices saying 'banana' over and over again, with frankness.

I've heard that bananas are endangered. I hope that science overcomes that particular glitch, as I doubt environmentalism is. Of course, now that's making me think of Logan's Run, with bananas. And QR codes. Once they're not green anymore, they go renew....I mean, to the grocery store.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Elka's first hole!

While we were on vacation, Elka dug her very first hole! She had never done such a thing before, and it was really fun to watch her do it. Of course, she dug a little too close to the surf, and retreated when the waves came in. The first time a wave came in too close, she opened her mouth at it, like "No! My hole!"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Doberman Health: Would you like to take a survey?

I noticed it first on Doberman talk, and then saw it mentioned on Dobermann Daze as well.

Dr. Mark Neff at The Van Andel Research Institute in Michigan is doing genetic research on inherited disorders in Dobermans. There is a survey ( around 2 minutes, not bad) and then you have the option to request a DNA sample kit so that you can enter your dog's genetic tissue in the survey. They pay the shipping both ways. The survey is on, and the goal is to have a sample size of 3000 Dobermans!

So if you, or anybody you know, has a Doberman, go on over and take the survey. There is no cost to you (other than the tiny time commitment of taking the survey and eventually swabbing your dog's mouth for DNA) and the results may give a lot of insight into things that Dobermans inherit, such as idiopathic head tremors (something Elka has), flank sucking, Wobbler's Syndrome (otherwise known as Cervical Vertebral Instability), DCM, and more.

This is a valuable opportunity, and if you could spread the word that the survey is at, that would be awesome! All results are confidential, if you have concerns about that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm sorry, Lennox

Lennox, the Belfast "pit bull type" dog, is to be put down. He's an American Bull Dog/Labrador Retriever cross. But, he "looks" like a "pit bull", and his measurements are like a pit bull. So, too bad. He's been impounded for two years. His family has fought for him for two years. Frankly, I wondered if he had been euthanized long before now, but the bureaucracy kept rolling. They didn't even let the family say goodbye. That may have been a blessing; a dog kept in a shelter environment for two years may not be the dog that he was when he went in.

The Lennox case perplexed me. I tried, very hard, to find another side. I wanted to find editorials about how Lennox had been a terror to the neighborhood, a menace, running about off leash taking shots at people. Granted, it's hard to find the story at all. One account says that the animal warden showed up to the family's house, unannounced, measured Lennox's muzzle and body with a measuring tape, and said he was a pit bull and must be euthanized.  I mentioned in the final Heidi the Doberman post that Lennox had knocked down a dog warden, but I'm hard pressed to find articles that say that now. It's hard for me to find a dog guilty based on knocking somebody down, of course; he could have jumped up in play, to smell her face, any number of things. I'd like to say "blame the deed, not the breed", but there was no bite here.

Without witnessing an event, it's hard to say what happened, and even then, it isn't always cut and dry. A Huffington Post article does relate that two separate animal behaviorists examined Lennox and thought that he was just fine, behaviorally speaking. Not an aggressive threat.

There have been petitions and boycotts and letters written. People have petitioned that Belfast be skipped along the torch passing route for the summer olympics. The torch was scheduled to pass through on June 6; I don't doubt that it did. Lennox is only a dog, right? I'm sure any number of people outside of Northern Ireland would have been poised to adopt him, whisk him away to a theoretically safer location, where just having a big square head wasn't a death sentence. I wonder if people rethink Labrador ownership?

Lennox had been legally owned and legally registered in Belfast until then; they had even done a DNA test to prove that he was an American Bull Dog (not a banned breed) and a Labrador Retriever (another not banned breed). Since his removal, he was evidently kept in what amounts to a concrete box with sawdust on the floor, seen in photographs that his keepers released. One might assume, since he was a BigScaryMeanDog, that he had no human contact, no play, no toys. For a human, solitary confinement of that sort, for that length of time, might be considered questionable. But Lennox is only a dog, right? One whose fate was pretty much sealed from the moment he left his owner's custody.

For a dog that never bit anybody to be euthanized makes no sense. For a dog who is not suffering from a terminal disease, an irreparable injury, uncontrollable aggression, or neurological condition to be euthanized is sinful. It's a failure of humanity. It makes me sad and sick and I wonder...well, I wonder too much. And it seems that nobody gets answers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Still Buffaloed

Happily, I'm still satisfied with how Elka does on the Blue Buffalo food. All of the flavors, in fact; she's tried the Salmon, the Duck, and the Chicken. I ran out of my initial bag, bought after the initial recall panic, and the Mr. Chewy bag that I got, and so headed off to the Feed and Seed to get some more (seriously, this dog just keeps eating! Granted, they were the smaller bags.)

I was also happy to walk into the store, go to the Blue Buffalo section, and see this sign:

Elka wasn't unhappy, precisely. She was far more interested in eating the food than wearing the bandana.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rain Rain, Go Away

So, I don't know about you guys, but our weather has been miserable. Rain just about every day, for a week.

I know we need rain for crops, yadda yadda (though the way the weather has been up and down, I hear tell that New York State has lost something ridiculous like 70% of this year's apple crop!), but it really puts a damper (hah) on many activities, such as long sunny walks in the park, and having headache free time.

I figured I'd just post a couple of old walk pictures, and hope that sunny days are coming soon.

Elka in the little creek at the park:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dictionary Doberman

Because I'm a nerd, I sometimes look at the dictionary for fun.

Because I'm a tremendous nerd, I sometimes look up Doberman in the dictionary.

This time around, I was so struck by the picture that I didn't even read the definition. I'm sure it said something like "breed that originated in Germany, developed by Karl Friedrich Louis Doberman."

The picture, though. No wonder Elka was accused of being a greyhound mix. The Doberman in the picture is rather...stout. It's hard to tell in the picture (sorry), but her tuckup is not all that pronounced. Her tail is a bit too short for my tastes, and she doesn't seem square.

I frequently wonder, in dictionaries and encyclopedias and dog breed books and dog training books, who are these dogs? That I've seen, there is rarely credit given. Wouldn't it be fantastic for dogs with Championships, working dog titles, or both, to be the Dobermans used in books of that sort? 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo June 2012: Going Rogue

So, a few times now, I've mentioned writing a dog training eBook (which I'll probably release as a hard copy print on demand book as well, because once you're already on Amazon, why not?). As such a thing has not yet materialized, you might have guessed that I've only been making gestures at it. It's the truth; sorry. (Actually, checking back, it was only February that I first mentioned it. Of this year. Whew.)

But, that's changing! See, It's CampNaNoWriMo time again, and the space science fiction novel that I started hasn't exactly...hatched. So, I'm going rogue. I haven't failed many NaNo's, or cheated, or gone rogue, but after November '10, where I spent two weeks hammering at a novel that wasn't ready yet, and switched in the middle to a delightful novel that all but wrote itself, but then ran out of time....yeah. One week is enough to know it's time to switch. Now.

So, tentatively titled "A Dog's Guide to Owner Training" on my Camp NaNoWriMo profile (I'm GingerGunlock, if there are any fellow Wrimos here), I'm only at 2191 words, but I did that yesterday. Evening. So I'm confident that I can have a cogent body of work done by the 31. That's the great thing about Camp get an extra day!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Product Review: The Unbreakoball

What's that you say? A ball guaranteed against destruction by your dog's tender mercies?  Yes, my friends, that is the Unbreakoball!

Considering all of the tennis balls we've gone through, I was more than willing to try something that was also a portmanteau.  That it's made in the USA is another definite bonus.

Wordless Wednesday June 6 2012

 Let's play a game!  Where's Gumby?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Want to Help Veterans Get Service Dogs? This Way is Easy!

The title says it all!

Dog Bless You, for every 1000 likes on their Facebook page, will donate a service dog to a veteran, through July 4.

Another organization, Paws and Stripes, makes this a double header by getting the service dogs to be trained from shelters. There's more than one way to save a life! also helps veterans by providing them with service dogs! It's great to know that there are so  many organizations helping out so many people.

(image from