Sheltie-Mom here. I just wanted to let everyone know that I am really going to be focusing on our other Sheltie blog for a little while. Not to say that there won't be just was many amusing Sheltie posts here, but the other blog is really going to allow me to post on a more daily basis about the healing I'm doing, and how much the Shelties are helping. I don't want to bore you with too many of the details here, but I have had a rough go the past few months. It's been a really trying and difficult time, and I am so thankful (and lucky!) to have had my girls help me through it all. If any one would like to check out our other blog, a new post is up today. The other blog is: http://heart-dogsheal.blogspot.com/.
Thank you all so much for reading, and of course for all the well-wishes and support. It really is great therapy to be able to write and post as much as I can...and to know that people are reading it?? Its been truly amazing!
Hugs from the Shelties, and Sheltie-Mom!!!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Posted by Rohan Shelties at 10:21 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2009
My poor Shelties. For a month now, they have been suffering cruel neglect, and now have also suffered the cruel hand of abuse. Someone please call Sheltie Rescue.
OK, so that is in THEIR mind. I admit, they haven't had all of the luxuries that they are used to having lavished upon them lately. Not only have I been in and out of the hospital (where I am right now), but inbetween these hospital stays, I have denied them their favorite things: walking and playing outside. Now, it hasn't been entirely my fault. I have been out of work for a month(on docotors orders) and feel that, for some reason, not being able to work ALSO means that I am not able to go for our long winter walks. And NO, I am not able to sit outside on a 20 degree day and throw the ball/frisbee until my arm feels like its going to fall off either. I know. Its very unfair to the Shelties. I mean, they're looking at it like "woohoo! Mom's on VACATION!! When are we going to the park? Or hiking? Or to the mountains? Or out to PLAY??" They dont seem to understand that "mommy can't breathe". OK, that's a lie. They're Shelties. Of COURSE they understand. They just seem to "conveniently" ignore the fact. They seem to be blissfully unaware that mommy is PANTING when she does the simplest task. But I dunno. Maybe Im taking their repetitive bahviors that border line OCD the wrong way. I mean, maybe they're using their special Sheltie Jedi powers to heal me; if it wasn't for their incessant barking, or their constant staring that I can feel deep into my SOUL, then I proabably wouldn't get up and push myself at all. Maybe they aren't being pushy and demanding for their own benefit but for mine? Yeah. That's what Im going to keep telling myself. I know...what ever it takes me to get to sleep at night.
So, anyways, back to the horrible conditions that my dogs live in. The neglect, as stated above, has been obvious, and severe. They seem to conveniently forget that any energy that I DO have is expended on playing Sheltie-Speedway, Sheltie-Wars, or loading the Buster Cube with snacks. They just know that they miss their walks, and like to sit near the door with a pained, depressed look on their face to make sure that I don't forget that they are suffering too. But the abuse. The abuse just started. The abuse has been so bad, that when I came into the hospital this time, and they asked me if I felt safe at home, I honestly contemplated saying "No. No I do not." But then I realized if I told them the truth, they probably would have had psych down there so fast I wouldn't have even had time to explain before they slapped the straight-jacket on me. No, I do not feel safe at home, because I am convinced that my Shelties are plotting against me. They are plotting evil, retaliatory things. And now I am scared.
What has turned my sweet and innocent (looking) Shelties into revenge-seeking mad-dogs? I'll tell you what. It is something that strikes fear into the hearts of every Sheltie out there. Something so scary, every fiber of their being is shaken. They actually quake in their little Sheltie-boots when they hear the dreaded word uttered. And that word is:
B A T H.
I know. Im hoping that the Sheltie Parents out there reading this had the decency to cover their Shelties eyes. I dont want to be the reason for Shelties all over the world running amok in a frenzied panic. I dont want to be featured on the 6 o'clock news. I dont need that kind of press. It's bad enough that my Shelties are forcing me to even right this blog, so that they can get their story of peril and the meanness of their owner out there. I'm waiting for the Sheltie Police to come kicking down my door Van Damme style any minute now. I can just see it: they stun me with super-sonic, high pitched Sheltie Barking, and then they bring me under control by using their powerful "Sheltie Eye" and intimidating Mean-Teeth. It's a scary thought. But Im going to continue with the story anyways. Because the threat of the Sheltie Police is strong, but the duress from my OWN Shelties is stronger.
It started out completely innocently. My mom was pressuring me to give the girls a bath for a long time now. And I totally would have complied, if it wasn't for that small, insignificant, yet ever persistant problem of being unable to breathe. And being as anal-retentive and over-protective as I am of the Ladies, I refuse to send them to a groomer, or have my mother bathe them. (I used to work at a grooming shop, and know how rough groomers can be when the dogs don't cooperate, and, lets face it, when my mom doesnt force dry or blow dry the girls, but just leaves them to air-dry, they just don't look or feel the same. So I had to do it...) So I put it off for as long as I could. I mean, they weren't FILTHY...it's not like they run around herding sheep all day. (*chuckling to myself* Yeah RIGHT...) And haven't I already mentioned the inability to get outside for walks or for play sessions? If anything, their DUSTY, not dirty!! And Shelties coats are wonderful in that they shed dirt very easily (Ive had the girls up to their chests in thick, caked on mud. But as soon as it dries, it just crumbles and falls right out of the coat) and they don't smell like other dogs do. So, sure, they could have USED the bath, but they were OK not having one for a bit. I mean, I kept their feet and nails trimmed and checked their ears to make sure they weren't dirty. I was doing what I could, with what I had.
But, since they put in the stent last week to try and alleviate some of my breathing problems, I started feeling better. So, I decided why not? Why not give it a go, and see what I can do?? It will be good for my doctors to know what I still can/cannot do when I go to see them next week for a follow up. I mean, without me trying things and getting data, how will they let me go back to work? So, I planned on brushing them one day at home, and then the next day bringing them for baths. I don't bathe them at home because it's much harder; too much hair clogs the drain, my back hurts too much from bending on the floor at the side of our tub, and it's much harder to dry them. We go to a self-serve dog-wash, where you bring the dog, and they do the clean up. In theory, anyways. I mean, you have to rinse down the tub walls and clean the hair off the floor so you don't get charged an extra fee. But that is still WAY easier than doing it at home. And they are usually stocked with all of the grooming supplies that you need: brushes, combs, scissors, shampoos and conditioners. Although I have all of my own stuff, so I bring it along.
So, I started the brushing on one day, and I called and booked the grooming-room for 2 hours the next day. My mom was going to drive us all up (it was her only day off...she really is a Saint!) and then let me see what I could do. But she'd be there to finish the job, if necessary. If only we knew then what horror was to transpire.
I started, like always, with Heidi. She's got a lot more coat than Shelby, and it is thicker and more typical for the breed. Also, because it's a lot longer, it requires more trimming too. I worked on her, brushing, combing and RAKING (with an under-coat rake) for about an hour and a half. Finally, I trimmed her feet, ears and bummy (which is totally embarassing for her...). I then worked on Shelby. Shelbys coat is much shorter, and less dense in some ways. Her undercoat is very cottony, and therefore she has a TON of it. So, she took me about the same amount of time. By the time I was done clipping her, my arms felt like they were going to fall off. It's been a long time since I've worked that hard! And you can probably see why, if you look at the picture. I probably could have made a whole new Sheltie baby-sister out of all the hair! But I do have to say (and not because they are making me...) that they really are quite easy to groom. You know, for dogs that have more hair than body mass. They both lie down on their sides, and are content being line-brushed and combed. There are a few parts that they arent the biggest fans of, though. They dont really like getting their nails clipped, dont really like getting their ears cleaned and they find getting their bummies trimmed totally hoffifying and embarassing. But over all, the brushing part isn't that bad. Its when we get in the car and, just when theyre thinking that I am finally taking them some place fun, we get out at the bath place. The looks on their little Sheltie faces are priceless...their eyes dialate, their ears go back, and they start whining pleadingly: "Please don't bring us in there! PLEASE don't bring us in there!!!" But, alas, an appointment has to be kept. And in we go, towards the impending doom.
Now, where we go the "bath house" is a small room with a tub, cage bank (for cage drying) and a grooming table. That's really it. I bring all of my own brushes, combs, cleaners (ear cleaner, shampoos, conditioner, etc.) and also bring a blow dryer and an extension cord. (The outlet is across the room from the grooming table, near the cage bank.) I have the same routine for each dog. I start with Heidi (who is visibly shaking) and put her up on the table and brush her a little bit. Only to make sure that there are no tangles since yesterday, and to get any more loose hair off (yeah right, like there can possibly be any more hair to come off...) One of the first things they teach you in the grooming class I took in college is: "if you don't need it, don't wash it". So, once the coat is all set, I clean their ears. I use an all natural product that, although it works, smells pretty bad. I can just IMAGINE what it must smell like to them. I don't blame them for wrinkling their Sheltie noses, and moving their faces away. After their ears are done, I put them in the tub. And this is the point where they are fully aware of the trauma that is about to take place. This, I think, is the place where the evil plotting of revenge starts. It is certainly when I start getting the dirty looks...
So, theyre in the tub. I start by hosing them down (after I've checked the water temp, of course). This first part is where I lose my Shelties and gain Whippets.
So, after the lathering stage, which does take a while, as you do have to get ALL of that hair clean, then I rinse them. Again. As soon as all of the shampoo is out, I put on the conditioner. I don't use too much, because I don't want their coat to be heavy or greasy. But I do use enough that I notice the difference. I leave that on for a few minutes (all the while, they stand in the tub giving me the most evil, disgusted looks I have ever seen on a dogs' face) and then rinse it off.
Finally, when Shelby is done with her bath, I stop Heidi's blatant torture by removing her from the "puppy oven", and putting Shelby in there instead. Now comes the final, but no less abusive step of being blown dry by hand. Shelby stays in "the oven", and Heidi goes back up on the table. And I get out my pin brush, and line brush her again. I want to make sure that they're no longer wet (which, I have to admit, must be uncomfortable and can lead to hot spots) and make sure that they have that beautiful, flowy Sheltie coat that everyone loves. I want to make sure that they're not full of cow-licks from sitting or laying awkwardly in "the oven". This usually doesnt take long. Heidis pretty good at this, but her one BIG pet peeve happens during this step: I try to blow dry the hair leading from her neck to her ears. She HATES it. She ducks and dodges like a WWI dog fighting pilot. Shes a pro. Fortunately, it doesn't last that long. No, not because I physically pin her down saying "you're going to sit still, and LIKE IT!" (although the thought has crossed my mind...) but because the table is up against the wall, so I just have to find the right angle where she can be comfortable (i.e. not able to twist her head like an owl) and I can get the job done. Once she's "fluffed and buffed", I get Shelby. Her drying process in the "puppy oven" is a bit shorter, so I have to hand dry her a little longer. It doesn't really matter, because shes great at it. Not nearly as "sensative" (i.e. EVIL) as Heidi, so it's not so bad.
So, FINALLY, I have two gorgeous, fluffy, tefloned, clean Shelties. And they know it to. Its like that commercial that you see during dog-shows: the Petco one where the terrier runs by the mirror after his ball, but stops midway and looks at his reflection. Then he stops AGAIN on the way back after getting the ball. Yeah. That commercial was clearly made by some one who owns or has owned Shelties. These dogs can't walk by a CLEAN CAR without checking themselves out. It's a little disgusting. I knew I had snobs, but didnt realize they were so vain.
So, all in all, the bath-day went alright. I made it through (albeit VERY slowly-it took 2 1/2 hours just for baths and blow drying!) and was still breathing at the end. The Shelties survived too. They have PTSD, but they made it. In fact, it turned out that we were all pretty exhausted when all was said and done. They were so tired that they went home and slept. Actually, they tried sleeping at the bathig place. And as they were still tired when we actually went to bed, I felt comfortable enough to even sleep with both of my eyes closed that night. I did not worry about waking up with a pillow (or clean Sheltie body) over my face, trying to smother me. Now that they're rested however...I've got to watch my back. I see them together a lot since bath day; which is unusual, because theyre Shelties. They usually like their space. Seeing them togther so much is unnerving. I KNOW that they're plotting something truly spectacular. I'll make sure to check my toilet seat for plastic wrap before I go, and make sure that there aren't hidden doggy "gifts" (you know, the ones usually left OUT SIDE) in my shoes. You never know when you have dogs this smart. You've gotta be on your toes. Sometimes they use their gifts for good (I'm waiting for my tax return, done and filed by the girls a few days before this alleged "incident of abuse") and sometimes they use their gifts for evil (like standing on each others backs to get my socks/undergarments from INSIDE my 3 1/2' tall hamper with a LID on it). I'm starting to wonder if they're really doggy Jedi, or whether they have gone over to the "Dark Side". I'm worried I no longer have Yoda and Obi Wan, but the Evil Emporer and Darth Vader. I'll just have to turn them back to good: lots of treats, and lots of toys. Bribery can go a long way with Shelties...
Ed. note: I wrote this in two parts, one in the hospital, and one when I got home. I have to say, there is nothing more amazing, heart-filling, and constant than a dogs ability to forgive. I think that my absence last night did not go unnoticed. I think they have stopped being angry with me because of the (*whispers*) bath. They were so happy and over joyed to see me from my brief stay away; it was really heart warming. I know I missed them so much it hurt...for just the brief few hours over night. It was them that I focused on when I was getting the IV in and the blood-draws. And I didn't notice if the Shelties in my thoughts were clean or dirty; all that mattered was that they were there for me. And I hope that, despite the awfulness of the baths, I have been there for them. If they love me even half as much as I love them, it's all worth it. Evil looks and all.
Posted by Rohan Shelties at 8:30 PM
Monday, February 9, 2009
There is this great story that was published in this past issue of the "Sheltie International" magazine, which is a copy of a note that the owner had written for someone taking care of her Sheltie's while she was away. The title of the piece is "Dog sitting: truth is stranger than fiction." It was originally published in the February 2008 issue of the AKC Gazette, in the Sheltie breed column. It is one of the funniest things I've ever read. It entails all sorts of overly-detailed issues specific to this family of dogs including managing baby gates, feedings, and bed time. At the start of the piece, the author mentions that this particular sitter, oddly enough, never returned!
I think the reason why I find this so funny, is because my notes look EXTREMELY similar to this one! When I dropped off my girls for my friend Becky to watch, I believe that my "note" was a 3 page, back and front NOVEL that detailed everything about my girls day, from sun up to sun down. Even now when I found myself in the hospital, I was having to give detailed instructions to my Mom (whom I live with)DAILY so that my girls could be FED. (Well, fed properly, I should say. I'm sure if she bought a bag of "Old Roy" and let them at it, they would still be here today. Fat and unhealthy, but here.) I so applaud my mom for not only getting everything right, but loving my girls (and loving me!) so much, that she even TRIED during what was a very stressful time. One morning when I called her, she was sitting on the floor PLAYING GAMES (see previous post!) with them. She does love them very much, and I think really understands how important they are to me; and therefore how important their health and well being is.
So, as I'm looking to tomorrow, when I will be once again hospitalized for yet another procedure, I'm preparing my "list" of instructions for my mom to follow so that the girls can be fed. Why, are you wondering, is feeding my dogs so difficult? Well, I transitioned from kibble to raw last February. I had wanted to do it far before that, but wanted to do it the right way: run bloodwork, UA's, and fecals before and after their transition so that I could prove to my (traditional) vet that I wasn't going to kill them. Their switch to raw was due to the fact that I started working at their vets office, which made running all of those tests a little more affordable, and my vet could now see them fairly regularly (they could now come in to just say hello). So, I did my research, and chose a pre-made frozen raw diet that I was happy with. I also picked a second brand, so that after 6 months I could reevaluate how they were doing (and re-run the lab tests for firm results) and then I could switch. It's very important to switch brands because, lets face it, not everyone can get it right all of the time.
Their transition was very easy. They were on a very high quality kibble to start off with, and I had been adding things to it, like raw meat (from Bravo!), veggies, fruits and tripe, right along. They virtually switched over night, and have not had ANY problems since. The only illness that they had over the past year, was a doggy stomach bug that brought a few days of diarrhea, and they picked that up from the playgroup. (Which was confirmed when other dogs from the group had reported the illness before my girls came down with symptoms.) Even then, their little bug lasted for less time, and they did not need anything except a day fast, and some Slippery-Elm to make them feel a bit better. I love how they look and act on raw, and I believe that they really FEEL great too. Heidi's limp is loads better (so much so that we may try NADAC when I get better) and they both have more energy than before.
So why, you are still wondering, is it so hard to feed my girls if I feed a pre-made frozen raw? Shouldn't I only have to thaw it? Yes, I do have to do that, but I also still like adding in some of my own stuff as well. I usually will blend things, when necessary, pour them into mini-muffin cups and then freeze them. I then thaw these (different things for different days) and add them to the raw. Yes, it is totally anal. I really REALLY am a lot more careful with the things that I put into my girls mouths', vs. my own. I may eat any old vegetables, but I have to get theirs at "Whole Foods Market." I may stop at McDonald's on the way home from a show, but they can't get the disgusting pink (yes PINK) milk-bone cookie offered by the cashier at the doggy store. They don't get anything with artificial colors or flavorings, they get no "gluten" of any kind (wheat, corn, soy, NOTHING) and I check into the sourcing of ingredients in their pre-made food. Luckily, I have a lot of resources so that I can do all of this crazy research. (Our favorite magazine "The Whole Dog Journal", and our friend Dawn who owns "The Natural Dog" in Newburyport.
So, what do I "blend up"? I have two veggie mixes, two fruit mixes, sheep's yogurt and tripe (venison or lamb). The mixes are:
Green Veggie: celery, sugar snap peas, broccoli, green beans and romaine lettuce.
Orange Veggie: sweet potato, pumpkin, and carrots.
Red Fruit: strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, black berries, and cranberries.
Yellow Fruit: oranges, apples, plums (or peaches) and pears.
*These are just the ingredients of the current mixes; I switch up the produce according to the season. Some things are a staple: oranges and apples, all the berries, and pumpkin. But almost everything else changes.
And of course, when you have a raw diet, its important to supplement too. Now, the diet is "technically" complete, so you shouldn't go too crazy with the supplements, so I just do what I think my girls need: probiotics, salmon oil, vitamin E, flax oil, vitamin C, apple cider vinegar, bone-meal powder, cod liver oil, honey and coconut oil. These supplements are also only given on specific days, with specific meals.
So, now that you know the "bones" of my girls' diet, lets see how it all comes together! (Mom, this is for you!):
This is all per dog, per meal
1-1/4 large patty (comes out to 2 oz)
1-small nugget (1 oz)
1/2 red fruit
1/8 tsp Vitamin C
1/8 tsp probiotic
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
*Instructions: thaw meat (whole 8 oz. patty, 4-1 oz. nuggets) in large stainless steel bowl. In small bowl, thaw 1 red fruit (again, frozen mini-muffin cup worth) and 1 yogurt. They will be liquidy when thawed. Mix together, then divide between both dogs bowls.) Mix fruit/yogurt and meat well. Add supplement's. Put remaining 1/2 large patty and 2 nuggets in fridge for dinner meal.
1-1/4 large patty
1/2 orange veggie
2 pumps of salmon oil
1 squirt (about 1/4-1/2 tsp) flax oil
5 drops vitamin E
1/8 tsp probiotic
*Instructions: thaw meat in large stainless steel bowl. Thaw tripe and orange veggies in small bowl. (These stay pretty firm, so don't mix, you can just cut them). When thawed, cut in half and give half of each to each dog.Mix tripe, veggies and meat, and then add supplement's. Use remaining meat for dinner meal.
5 drops vitamin E
1/8 tsp probiotic
*Instructions: Thaw cottage cheese in hot water bath. When thawed, start with THK. Put 2 tbs. of powder in each bowl. Add 2 tbs. hot water. Mix, and let thicken. Then, add 1/2 container or thawed cottage cheese to each bowl. Mix with THK, and add supplements.
Oh My GOD, this is SO GOOD! *nom nom nom*
See? I told you I could eat it all in less than 15 seconds!
I'm going to lick my bowl clean...just for good measure...
And Im gonna lick the sides too...just in case...
Oh my god! Theres another dog trying to eat my food! Oh wait...thats just my reflection in a my LICKED CLEAN bowl...
Posted by Rohan Shelties at 8:00 PM
Saturday, February 7, 2009
OK, I know that this post is diverging quite a bit from what I usually write about. This isn't going to be a silly post about my silly girls. I want to post this, because I feel like it is so important to get this message out there to my fellow dog owners. I am sure that most of you are already aware of it the issues being raised all over the country threatening our rights as dog owners, but this issue really hit home for me. The issue that is causing me so much ANGER, is the proposed House Docket #653, that is being proposed in the Massachusetts congress. This is the "anti-debarking" bill. This bill is trying to make "bark softening" illegal in this state. It is proposing that if someone BREAKS THIS LAW, then they will be sentenced to a JAIL TERM of up to FIVE YEARS in prison, and/or a FINE of up to $2,500!!! The other statements in the bill allow for exceptions for "medical purposes", and only allow veterinarians the ability to do the procedure legally (duh...).
The people behind this bill are all the usual suspects: the same people that are behind BSL, and mandatory spay/neuter bills. These are the people who are trying every day to take our rights as dog owners away.
Now, I have been on the fence about a lot of these issues. Take the cropping debate: I do agree that it seems frivolous to force a pet to go through the pain of a cosmetic surgery just to meet the breed standard. But on the same note, I believe in the sport of purebreds, and think it is important that we keep our breeds as close to the standard as possible: the standard was written as a blue print for the breeds, so that we can keep them as close in form and function that they were originally bred for. So I am undecided. I mean, people go through cosmetic surgery all the time; as with any surgery, there are risks, but it is also safe enough for doctors to continue to allow it to take place. And pain management has come so far, that people are continuing to be willing to go through the surgery, despite the pain that comes with it. But would it be fair, or socially acceptable for people to put their CHILDREN through cosmetic surgery? I'm sure that there are people in the world who do it, but if it tried to become more mainstream, I think there would be a huge outcry from the general public. This is the root of my internal struggle about the cropping/docking debate: Are our dogs still animals to us, whom we continue to breed for generations, even though their original jobs have virtually vanished? Or are they furry children, important members of our family that we should show the same respect to? I am lucky that I do not have a breed that needs to be cosmetically altered; I would not know what to do if I found myself on the edge of the great precipice that is the decision of whether to dock/crop or not.
But, on some issues where I had been on the fence, I made a decision about after a little self education. An example of this is the greyhound racing bill that went to vote in this last election. The debate was over whether or not the state should ban greyhound racing. The side that was FOR the ban, was the same side that now wants to make "de-barking" (or "bark-softening") illegal. Their argument was that greyhound racing is cruel; the people who are in charge of caring for the racers are cruel and neglectful, and the sport itself is cruel, where many dogs sustain major injuries. The only opposition (that the general public saw) were ads about how many people at the tracks would lose their jobs. For me, as for a lot of people, the decision was easy. I cared way more about the poor, neglected and injured dogs, than I did about a few hundred people being out of work. The ban would be "for the greater good". It was only AFTER the election had come (which my conscience is eased by my inability to vote this year) that I came to know the other side of the debate. The other side being beyond just a few people losing their jobs. The other side that showed the true colors of the people who had originally proposed the bill, and the people who had jumped on the band wagon and who were now staunch supporters. The heart of the argument was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who had a retired racer. He was the bestest, smartest, COOLEST greyhound ever! He was a greyhound who knew how to sit (I know!) and sang on command. His owner, my friend Alyssa, sent out an email explaining to everyone why it was so important to the working-dog cause to keep this sport alive. She explained that she had been to the track for a retired-racers get-together and saw for herself how well the track/dogs still racing were kept, and saw how much joy the retirees had at being able to perform their job once more. And she went on to say what the real issue at heart was: this was just a stepping stone for people to start making it illegal for dog owners to be doing all kinds of activities with their dogs, because other people have deemed them "unsafe" or "inhumane". I mean, how much longer will it take them to start pointing out how many injuries there are because of agility? Or comparing us to over obsessive "Pageant Mothers" who disregard our dogs well being so that we can win a few more ribbons? I don't think that these issues are far off. I think its a very bleak outlook for the purebred dog and working dog activities if we don't start standing up to these people and fighting back. I think that the AKC needs to step it up, and so does the individual dog owner.
And I'm not going to lie. Feeling this way is new to me. I mean, sure, I read all of the posts and articles regarding BSL, but wasn't that affected because I own such a docile breed. People said that again, this was just the beginning and if we don't start taking a stand, then it wont just be the "bully breeds" targeted here. I mean, if a group of people can make a decision about another group, and have that decision listened to and upheld, what is stopping that same group (or a different one) to start having problems with YOUR BREED, and bringing them to the spotlight as well? And this is what is happening with this "anti-devocalization" bill. They are in essence making it very hard to own a certain group of dogs; specifically herding and toy breeds. The people behind these bills are the people who are waging a behind the scenes war on the purebred dog community. Now, this specific bill doesn't have specific breeds in its language, but make no mistake, it is still aimed directly at us. Most of the people who end up getting their dogs "devocalized" are people who raise such breeds as: Shelties, Collies, Aussies, Papillons etc. Mostly the breeds to have their barks softened are the herding breeds. As I stated in the previous post, barking is one of the many tools in the bags of herding dogs to help them move stock (usually many MANY times their size). It is a trait that we as humans bred into them. And now, even though fairly few dogs have maintained their stock herding jobs (except recreation ally) they have continued to be vocal. It is a trait that people are (well, educated people) are aware of, and we keep these dogs knowing full well that this is one of their many characteristics.
But what they aren't realizing, is that this legislation is going to affect way more dogs than just these select few. I mean, their mission is to save the dogs in the shelters, but those shelter dogs may be barkers too. Either because they are a mixture of breeds who may tend to be vocal, or because it is a behavior that they learned in their life before going to the shelter (which may, in fact, be the reason they were dumped or given up in the first place!). So this legislation is going to hurt everyone. I think the dogs are going to be the ones who ultimately suffer. I think people will be more apt now to surrender a dog (or cat, as they can also be "devocalized) who has a barking issue. And these people who will be surrendering these pets are not going to be the dedicated breeder who loves their breed (they're just going to move to a new state) but it is going to be the general public-educated or not. Even the most studious new dog owner who selected a breed that is not known for barking, may end up with a dog who breaks the mold. They may get a new puppy that is overly vocal, or even if they go to their local pound, shelter, or breed rescue to adopt a dog, they might find themselves in the same situation. So, although the bill sounds like it has good intentions behind it, there will be a lot of problems to come if it passes.
And this is the BIG issue with laws regarding pet ownership. I understand that these issues are being brought to the table because we are having so many pet problems in this country (and others) including over-population (overly full shelters, and a high euthanasia rate), puppy mills and dog fighting. But why does every solution that is brought to the table a mandatory one? Why does it have to be MANDATORY spay and neuter? Why does it have to be ILLEGAL to own a certain breed, or to have your pets bark quieted? Why aren't there any options?
I know people are thinking "well, if you don't like these idea, what are yours?" Well, I have some. I am not a law maker, and these are of course only my opinions. But when it comes to mandatory spay/neuter why cant it be a fee, or tax process? There is a feel (fairly small) to keep your pets intact, and a much larger fee to breed your dogs. BUT, the catch is that the fee to breed can be waived IF the breeder has proof of genetic testing done on each parent. These tests can be set forth by the breeds parent club, who know the breed the best and have the best intentions at heart. Once the testing has been done, they go to the town hall and get their certificate that allows them to breed, and not have a fee. And this is the beauty of it: the general public can now tell good breeders from bad. No certificate, no testing done. You automatically know that the breeder cannot care THAT much, because the testing wasn't done. And the fee for breeding is HIGHER than the tests cost, so it is much more economical to just do the testing anyway.
Now BSL is pretty self explanatory: PUNISH THE DEED, NOT THE BREED. Its as simple as that. If a dog hasn't done anything wrong, there is no reason what the dog cannot be a much loved member of the family. This is just like saying every (insert race here) person is a bank robber-just because you once saw a bank get robbed by this type of person. Its completely ridiculous, and archaic.
And finally, the one that hits so close to home for me is bark-softening. I don't understand why it has to be made ILLEGAL so NO ONE can have it done. Why cant it be a tax/fee that you need to pay to your town if you want to get it done? You pay the fee; the town issues you a certificate that you then take to your vet so the procedure can be done. This is a way that the TOWN can monitor how many dogs a person is keeping (i.e. getting devocalized: this is for the argument that people may be keeping hoards of dogs as fighters or in a mill situation) and vets can also be aware that the owner is doing his due diligence. Now, if someone wants to (or has to) get their pet devocalized THAT BAD, they'll have to put up with the fee. The only exemptions to the fee are medical necessities. Now, I'm sure too that there is some type of certification and training that vets can get so that they can be allowed to perform this procedure. That way, we can make sure not just anyone can do it; it eliminates a lot of the "risks and pain" that the supports are claiming that the procedure entails. To get a really good idea of what "bark-softening" is all about, please check out: http://www.naiaonline.org/body/articles/archives/debark_qna.htm
Now, I have been on my soap box for a pretty long time, but I just ask that you stick with me for just a little longer. I want to let you know that I do not have either of my girls "de-barked". I have never owned a "bark-softened" dog. Why this issue is so important to me, is because my breed, and my dogs in particular, are barkers. I have already explained why they happen to be so vocal. But their vocality is part of their charm; it is part of what makes them Shelties. I will not give up my love and passion for the breed just because someone says that they have "undesirable" traits, and then take away my right to help lessen those same traits that they have a problem with. I do not have a problem with anyone who "de-barks" their dog; if they are an educated dog owner, and they buy or rescue a Sheltie from a reputable place, and they immediately get that dog "de-barked", I don't have a problem with that. I think it is much worse to have a dog continuing to stay in rescue and missing out on a great home, because that person (who does agility, herding and obedience) lives in an apartment. This is the situation that scares me so much. Here I am spending more money on their food than some people spend on their human kids, spending my days off at dog shows and therapy visits, and spending what little energy I have to play with them and keep them exercised and happy, and then some where down the road, I may not be able to stay where I am living, or have to resort to TRULY cruel and painful measures to quiet my "chatty" dogs. If it comes down to neighbors complaining about my barking dogs (who are barking at squirrels, cars pulling in, because they're happy...) and then having to make the gut-wrenching decision of: moving, debarking, electronic collars, or getting rid of my girls, I'm going to go with the "debarking". In terms of moving, it is going to be very difficult moving somewhere else where this wont continue to be a problem. I would no sooner be able to give up my dogs, than detach both my legs, and I would rather have them go through a short, one time procedure of being de-barked versus having them be miserable EVERY DAY sitting at home with a collar that SHOCKS THEM when they make noise. There isn't even a question in my mind that I would chose the "bark-softening" procedure. Now, for me, this is the only situation that I would do it: if my neighbors were having such a problem with them that those would be my only options. I personally enjoy their barkiness and little moans and sighs, and although I know those wont be eliminated when their barks were softened, I still do like them at full volume.
I urge you all to educate yourselves about specific issues regarding dog ownership, not only in your community, but throughout the country as well. Some day, and that day may be coming soon, you might find yourself in the same situation that I now find myself in: having an issue being brought up that endangers your right as a loving dog owner. The opposition states: "It is not “responsible” to bring a naturally noisy breed into an apartment, or leave any dog outside all day, then mutilate him when neighbors complain. Responsible pet owners choose the right animal for their home environment and lifestyle, and provide appropriate care." (taken from: http://network.bestfriends.org/massachusetts/news/31661.html) So, "Best Friends", you're saying that, as someone dedicated to my breed, I should NOT own any future Shelties because I find myself in an apartment? Or in a suburb? I can only own these dogs when I buy a house in the middle of nowhere, where my closest neighbors are miles away? I'm sorry, but that isn't going to work. I have a serious, SERIOUS heart condition that pretty much makes living on my own way out in the boondocks virtually impossible. Now, don't get me wrong Mr./Mrs. Legislator, this is truly where I would WANT to live, but you see, my medical condition makes it a pretty unsafe option. So, now that we know that I wont be able to live out in the sticks, I'm supposed to ignore all of the OTHER wonderful qualities that my breed has, the qualities which drew me and hundreds of thousands of other people to them in the first place, and just go get something different? Or maybe not even own a dog at all? No, that's not going to work either. You see, you are not understanding why people love their dogs so much. I can only ever speak for myself, but I AM an educated dog owner. I CHOSE my breed because of their extremely sweet temperaments and kind natures. I need a dog that I can take ANYWHERE. I can trust them in any kind of situation, with many different people. Their small size makes feeding affordable, and allows me to physically able to handle them (pick them up for transportation needs, grooming, etc.). They are Canine Good Citizens, and keep me active and healthy by allowing me to not only get out and get some more exercise, but I also am able to compete with them in a variety of venues (including agility and obedience) where I meet and make friends with many people who share my enthusiasm for the sport. These dogs are often times the glue that holds families and friendships together. These dogs are often times what keep people from doing something drastic, like ending their lives. If you start taking away the rights that we have as citizens of the United States, you are really in fact taking away a piece of what it means to be American. The Declaration of Independence clearly states: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These dogs are giving all of those things to us: they give us joy in life every single day; they give us the liberty to be able to go out and enjoy everything that this great country has to offer; and they are the definition of happiness. Don't let politicians dictate how we have to love and care for our pets. They are only elected; and their minds change with the weather. They were so wrong when it came to Katrina, and preventing people from evacuating with their pets. So many lives, both human and animal, were lost because of their mistakes. What has changed? What makes them so qualified now, they can bring about laws governing things that they still know nothing about? Think about your loyal friend sitting beside you. Now think about breaking the law to keep him or her with you. Would you do it? I would. But I think its easier to be proactive and stop these issues before they become laws that people would be willing to break.
Posted by Rohan Shelties at 7:55 AM
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Did you ever hear that saying "too smart for your own good"? Well that saying takes on a whole new meaning when it applies to dogs. When I was training, we used to tell people with smart puppies all the time: "the good news is that you have a very smart puppy. The BAD news is that you have a very smart puppy." Smart dogs tend to get into a little more mischief, and tend to keep their people on their toes just a little bit more. And when you have a herding dog, this "smarty pants" attitude gets multiplied. BY TEN. When you have a herding dog that could probably do your taxes if you asked them to, your life probably isn't going to be boring. In fact, it is probably going to be the EXTREME opposite of boring! And no time is this more evident than when your dog cant get their regular exercise (which is usually the daily equivalent of running a triathlon), and you find yourself suddenly stuck with them in the house.
Posted by Rohan Shelties at 11:57 AM
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Any one who has Shelties will tell you how snobby they are. Well...most Shelties. Well...most FEMALE Shelties. Males tend to be a lot more playful and friendly with other dogs. Females...females wonder why they are forced to tolerate "lower beings" (i.e. "non-shelties"). Well my girls are snobbier than most. My girls not only take the cake, but they baked and iced it too. They have always just looked in complete disdain at other dogs. Especially retrievers. Oh, and terriers. Anyone who accidentally finds themselves in the my girls paths, actually. Its not that they HATE other dogs...I mean, they never start trouble. They don't walk into a group of dogs like a chihuahua with a napoleon-complex thinking "Hmm...I bet I can kick ALL of yo' butts. BLINDFOLDED!" They just walk into a group with a very specific mission; and that mission ain't about playing with no dogs! Heidi's mission happens to be to seek and destroy every toy that she can lay her teeth on. She first and foremost will always look for the balls. And once they are eliminated, she will quickly turn her attention to tug-ropes, frisbee's and stuffies. And when the poor, unsuspecting yellow lab puppy unceremoniously sticks its entire HEAD in Heidi's bum for a good long sniff, she has to turn around and school him.
Posted by Rohan Shelties at 3:44 PM
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Did you ever have that feeling like you were being watched? The feeling where your spidey-senses tingle, and the hair stands up on the back of your neck? Did you ever have that same feeling while you were asleep? The feeling that is so strong, that your spidey-senses actually wake you up out of a stone-cold sleep? You are so convinced that someone is there, that you actually sit up in bed and look wildly around your room, fully expecting someone to be there. Well, this is how I wake up. EVERY MORNING. Sometimes in the dead of NIGHT:
Posted by Rohan Shelties at 7:55 AM