Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Flowers: Iris

Mom went out on Sunday to check on the progress of the big purple Iris and they were still closed tight. On Monday, she happened to look out the window and surprise they had popped, so she went out to capture a picture of them before she missed them. The weather has been crazy lately. The wind or rain could easily destroy them if she waits.

She says these are very special because Dog Dad's favorite Uncle gave him them from his very own garden when they visited him.

It grows so well, Mom has been able to give other people Iris plants from it, too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: The Power's On

Bailey's had this strange attraction to the power strip lately. He really does seem to think he can draw power from it.

However, he has found another source of power that is helping him get stronger. He and Katy have started massage therapy and it is working wonders. We found a massage therapist at Paws in the Park and decided to check her out. We'd talked about doing it for years, but sadly something always came up. This time with Bailey's health issues we decided it was a priority. Then we discovered she lives in town, which made it seem even easier to commit the time to do.

Bailey has become very bow legged and walking almost on the sides of his paws. He's also lost significant muscle strength in his back legs that occurred sometime around our failed rescue attempt. He's had chiro for years, but nothing had stopped the progression. After his second massage session, his bowing has decreased significantly. His front legs have straightened dramatically. I hope to get some pics to show his vet the progression. He was too tired last night to submit for pics and I wanted to post something this morning.

We are also learning stretching exercises. As someone who needs PT exercises myself it never occurred to me to think that my dogs might benefit from stretching exercises as well. In the first session DH and I learned how to stretch both Bailey and Katy to help keep their legs more limber. Katy, especially has seen a difference with the stretching.

Our second session was with an intern who suggested we try making some beef broth from bone to help with Bailey's joint issues. I've made beef and chicken broth as starters for us over the years, I've never thought of the benefits for the dogs. I won't add all the veggies I do for ours, but I will look to getting a soup bone this weekend and making up some broth. She suggested freezing them into ice cubes to store the broth. Bailey loves ice cubes, so this could be a nice treat for him as well, especially with the hot summer months coming up.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Dressing Up for Whitley

We are not much for dressing up, but Mom reminded us how important it is to remember friends on Blogville so we let her take pictures of us in Dog Dad's hat for the occasion.

Run free over the bridge Whitley. You will be missed by so many.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Flowers: Rhododendron

Friday flowers are some of Mom's favorite posts. She loves going back and seeing all the pretty flowers when all that she can see outside her own windows are piles of snow. This Rhododendron bush is blooming next to the currently empty veggie gardens, which soon I will not be allowed to step inside as I'm doing here.

Do you see the little fellow hiding there. These gnomes are all over the yard. Katy is particularly interested in one that has binoculars. She isn't telling, but Mom believes he's providing her with intel.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Whisker Walk 2016 is coming June 5 in Massachusetts

After having crossed the line first at the Paws in the Park walk, Katy and her handler are in training for the longer Whisker Walk. Not that there is actually a race, but Katy has wanted to finish first for years now. This could be the year.

For those of you in the New England area come out and join us for the Sterling Shelter's annual Whisker Walk fund raiser at the Bolton Fairgrounds in Lancaster on Sunday June 5, 2016 from 11AM-3PM. While Katy is determined to be at the head of the walk, Bailey and Mom will be strolling through the many vendors that populate the fairgrounds. It is a very kid and dog friendly event with plenty for everyone to see and do.

It is a great chance to connect with many local shelters and rescues and to help them raise funds for their groups. I am hopeful they will still have the dog fetch game as Bailey has brought home some great prizes over the years.

You can read more about the event here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Gnome Attack

Katy's top gnome informant was found knocked over this week and she's on the job to find out who hurt her gnome assistant.

Gnome was not seriously hurt and is back on the job, providing Katy with valuable yard intelligence.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Blogville Pawlympics: Synchronized Napping

The Blogville Summer Games are back and Bailey & Katy will be hosting the Synchronized Napping Event this year on August 11. This is a pairs event, but groups are also welcome to participate. There are two forms of Synchronized Napping. We have the Parallel Nappers and the Artistic Nappers. Participants can enter in either or both categories.

This is an example of Parallel Napping although Bailey shouldn't be touching Katy to demonstrate better form. (Try telling Bailey he can't touch Katy.)

Artistic Napping gives you more freedom. The only rule is you and your partner must be touching somewhere during the nap. It could be as like Bailey and Katy here in this example or a tale draped over your napping partner. It can be a big or small connection, but the connection must be maintained for the nap picture to qualify. If you leave right after the picture is snapped we'll never know. As I type this Katy's tale is draped over Bailey as the nap, the only place they are connected and that would qualify. The animals just have to have a connection. Cross species works as long as they like to nap. This event works best for those who like to conap.

We will post more information about the event and where to send your pictures, but we figured we'd give people a chance to start training by explaining the basics now. You can find out more about the Pawlympics schedule here. Information on the Pawlypics can be found here. Just a few dates of interest. Deadline to sign up to host an event is June 21. Deadline to sign up for events is July 15. That will happen quicker than you think. We know we are already in training for a few events. Good luck to everyone.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Responsible Breeders are Part of the Puppy Mill Solution

Realistically rescues don't serve everyone's needs. If you want to end puppy mills, you need to provide that group with the means to find a responsible, ethical breeder to meet that need. Shaming people so that nobody does more than whisper they got their dog from a breeder or only discusses it in closed areas where they know they won't be harassed is short sighted. If the goal is to end puppy mills than teach people how to avoid them. How do they find that reputable breeder? What questions does one ask? How do you research, check references, understand the health information you are getting, etc. I'm not qualified to write those articles, but there are plenty of people out there in our community who are, but avoid doing so because of the heat they get in return from those who believe rescue is the only way to legitimately acquire a dog.

Rescue is a great option for many people. It isn't for everyone. In today's post I'm going to discuss three of reasons the rules rescues and shelters have for adoption create a need for responsible breeders. The focus of dog rescues should be finding the best forever home for a dog. I'm not disputing that. Nor am I even arguing with the most of the rules. Their experience and resources have made them create the rules. However, these rules often leave a large percentage of people looking for dogs. This means these people will be looking for breeders. You can leave them swinging in the wind and hope they don't end up with a puppy mill or you can choose to educate them and hope they choose a ethical, responsible breeder.

The Rules:

Age restrictions:

Many, not all, shelters restrict adoptions to families with children. The ages I've seen at which they will start adopting to families with children range from 6-12. Recently as I've been researching adoption options I've even noticed restrictions for people who have grandchildren or those who even have children who visit. I get that rescues have their reasons for restricting adoptions with children. This can be a reason for failed adoptions and surrenders. However, most people aren't going to wait until the youngest child reaches middle school to adopt a dog. They will search for an alternative. We can teach people how to find a responsible breeder or risk them finding a puppy mill. I won't argue with the shelters/rescues that want to keep age restrictions in place, but with those restrictions comes a need to educate those families who don't qualify to adopt on how to find a dog from a breeder. Don't assume they will wait because shelters/rescues don't feel comfortable sending their dogs into homes with children.

I was raised in a large family and I don't ever remember not having a dog in the house. Having a dog was a huge part of my childhood and teen years. My brothers and sisters would have been long gone from home, some with families of their own before we'd have qualified to adopt a dog under these restrictions. While it may make sense for the shelters to have these restrictions, if the goal is to end puppy mills, we have to help families who can't meet shelter's age requirements to find a breeder who can help.

Fenced in Yard

I will always be grateful that Bailey's foster Mom agreed to letting us adopt him while we worked on finishing our fenced in yard. It is not a cheap process and while we wanted it done because it is a much easier method for getting our dogs out and exercised, it wasn't something we could do all at once. In fact it was several years before we were able to afford the fence we wanted and now have in place. We started with what we could afford and replaced it as we had more money. However, if she'd been firm on the rule, we'd have missed 13 amazing years with Bailey.

Again I won't argue with the restrictions shelters/rescues place. They have the right to restrict as they choose. However, there are plenty of very happy dogs who are walked, go to dog parks, compete in agility, sports, and lots of other activities that don't have a fenced in yard. These dogs are loved and provide important companionship and support to their owners. The dogs often improve their owner's health because both need to get out and walk. You can't assume dogs are let roam free because a fenced yard is not available. Many responsible pet owners find ways to make it work. This is another group that need education on how to find a responsible breeder to avoid the puppy mill trap.

The other point, rescues don't need to be snarky. I was visiting one site the other day that was rather rude about the whole fence issue. I get it you have limited time to respond to people and you want them to read the directions. However, even having a fenced in yard, with that attitude I didn't want to deal with them. You can be firm and polite. Rudeness doesn't just chase away the people you want to leave it sends away qualified people, too.

Accept if you are going to restrict adoption to people who have fences, these people will search for alternatives.

Own Your Home

In this area I can understand this restriction. It is hard to find dog friendly apartments. It is the reason I waited to get dogs until DH and I had a house. You can find one great landlord, have to move and be stuck. However, even places that will adopt to apartments can make the hoops ridiculous. A pet friendly lease and a letter from the landlord is not always enough. Some want an interview with the landlord. Honestly, I've had landlords I never spoke with during my entire lease and it was a blessing. While some landlords are fine with pets, not all want the hassle of dealing with an in depth interview from a shelter regarding the tenant, the building, etc. Again this is why people in apartments do turn to getting dogs from breeders. Sometimes it is much easier than the hassle of dealing with a shelter.

I restricted this to my top three because it already makes for a long post. Feel free to post your own. I'm not done with this topic. It is time we were honest about promoting rescue where it works, but recognizing that even rescues acknowledge they can't service everyone's needs, thus they create a need for responsible breeders. That is why if we are serious about ending puppy mills we need to have more open discussions about what makes for an ethical healthy breeder.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Flowers: Daffodils

Mom wasn't sure with the strange weather we were having if we were going to get daffodils this year. Add to that the gopher who has been know to dig up our bulbs and you get the picture. That being said Dog Dad says the weatherman is predicting frost.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Adopt Sasha the Sheltie in PA

We keep looking to rescue another Sheltie, but all have been located well beyond our distance range. After seeing this little girl's story I had to post it to see if it would draw attention to see if someone in the area might be interested. I'm also going to post her information on a Sheltie site to see if anyone can help. Her story story like so many is sad. I'd like to believe she is lost and someone will come and claim her before she finds her forever home, but they seem to thinks she's been stolen and/or dumped. She's so adorable and believe me if I was in range I'd be applying. She looks so much like a smaller Bailey it almost took my breath away. They believe she is around 2, good with dogs and kids. She is spayed and up to date on her vaccines.

Not being from the area I know nothing about this rescue. Hopefully, getting the word out will help her either get home or find a new home. You can find out more about her at the LaMancha Animal Rescue here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Paws in the Park

We didn't get to write about Paws in the Park last week, but Mom wanted to make sure she posted this week. It rained the whole time we were there, but we finished the walk and we visited all the vendors while we were there. The weather wasn't great for pictures, but Mom had to get one of the Dachshund Kissing Booth fundraiser.

Katy reached another level of achievement at this walk. Each year she's shown more independence and boldness. The first year she went she spent the whole walk tucked into Bailey's side for protection. Each year she's gotten a bit bolder, heading out at the head of the pack sometimes at a run, but then about half way through she suddenly seems to realize she's not with Bailey and drops back to finish the walk at a more leisurely pace.

This year despite the cold wet weather she headed out with one of her favorite extended family members at a run. They paused at the halfway mark where we normally take pictures, but the weather was too wet and dreary for pictures so we encouraged them to keep going. Katy quickly took the lead and for the first time crossed the end line first without Bailey at her side. This is just a charity walk not designed to be a race or a run, but for Katy she's had this desire to get there first for some time. She and her handler have been in discussions for training and strategies for the longer Whisker Walk coming in June. It is a longer walk and she will have to see if she has the stamina to stay at the head of the pack for the entire walk.

Bailey struggled with the cold and we've decided Mom will sit out the longer walk with him as he's taking it slower these days. On the upside, Dog Dad located a massage therapist at the fair that might work for helping Bailey with some of his challenges. We also found a bone vendor and got some awesome bully sticks to take home.

For the first time ever we met a family of Shelties. The tiny puppy almost made Mom rethink her ideas on getting a dog past those puppy years. He was one giant fur ball and oh so cute. This family had a collection of Sheltie colors, which again you don't see often.

One thing I felt bad about was every where we went when someone had a Purebred dog they felt the need to whisper that they went to a breeder to get the dog, as if it was a crime. One of the woman,a breed foster Mom felt the need to explain she has things she wants to train her dogs to do and prefers to choose them as pups for specific characteristics and then raise them to ensure she gets the behaviors she wants. I told her she should feel no compulsion to apologize. She clearly isn't using a puppy mill to get the quality of dogs she wants. She gives back to the community by fostering and volunteering to stand in the freezing rain to help these animals find homes with people like myself that may be OK not starting with a puppy. She looked amazed. I suspect she doesn't hear that often.

I love these events because they are great ways to spend time meeting other dog owners. As I said I rarely meet other Sheltie owners except at events like these. It is always fun. At this event I tried to connect a breed rescue with a dog blogger that I thought would be a good match. The rescue representative sounded interested in linking to the site to provide more information to people who want to adopt large breed dogs. It is a great way to meet local shelters and rescues. I was disappointed that the local Collie rescue wasn't present this year as I was tempted to talk to them to see if they have any ideas about what to do with the Bailey and Katy situation. Sadly, they didn't have a table this year and I don't see them listed yet for the Whisker Walk either. However, despite the rain there were lots of people at the shelter/rescue tables making connections and that is how we can promote rescue.

That being said one of the disappointments I had was the anti-puppy mill group focused on ending puppy mills which is great, but the focus is still on shaming those who don't go to shelters. I just can't support that attitude. I am for ending puppy mills. However, the best way to end them is to teach people about all their responsible choices, not just your preferred choice. There is a disconnect between reality and dreams. In the dream world everyone would find their ideal dog at the local shelter and there would be no homeless dogs. In the real world people have lots of reasons why they want a purebred dog from a breeder. That is for another article on another day.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Flowers: Pansies

Over Patriots Day weekend Mom was starting to feel a need to get the veggie gardens started. It was too early, but she and DOg Dad went to look. They picked up some dirt, Mom says it's special dirt, some herbs to grow indoors and then they discovered these beautiful pansies.

Dog Dad wasn't sure they'd survive the cold, but they thrived despite the cold and Mom is enjoying her barrel of pansies.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bailey's Green Bone

Bailey's never been a huge fan of plastic or rubber toys unless they were balls. Periodically he will be gifted with a package of toys that include rubber or plastic toys and we usually weed them out because they never get played with and just take up room. This bone some how cleared the purge at Christmas and wound up in the dogs' toy box where it spent its day lonely and unwanted.

Then came Easter and a little one was digging through the toy box to find a toy he thought was appropriate for Bailey to play with because he found the ball boring. He found the bone. I'm not sure what attracted him to the bone. Perhaps it was the bright green color and the idea that dogs like to play with bones. However, he proceeded to throw the bone and Bailey brought it back to him each and every time. That night after all the kids had left we found the bone on Bailey's mat. It hasn't left there since. He even managed to hide it when the rescue dog was here so he didn't lose it. It has become his favorite snuggle toy.

Recently we had the brother of the original little one who discovered the bone stop by the house. He too played with bone and sure enough when he left Bailey curled up with the bone and protected it carefully. I suspect we now have a bone ritual with a toy that is more like a teddy bear than an actual chew toy.