Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gardner Show

A few weeks back we were in Gardner for a show. I totally forgot to post pics, but here they are. Thanks Mom for taking pictures!! That was the show where Jack got his RN. Jeff and Diane were there as well, so there are some pictures of those strange golden colored Berners.

Diane w/ Ruckus who took a Group 2 on Saturday:

Me with Fisher who took Best of Winners both days. He definitely taught me something that weekend about handling. On Saturday I was struggling with him because he didn't want anything to do with me. On Sunday, Jeff was watching me bait him and made a comment about the teeny, tiny pieces of chicken I was giving him. I tried giving him a big chunk, and it was love! With the Berners, I give them such tiny chunks, that sometimes they don't even notice if I don't give them anything at all.

Jackson watching the goldens show before he goes in for rally:

Jack in rally:

The motor home set-up with Jeff and Diane:

Grooming Jack:

Showing Lemon:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Petland and Puppy Mills

One of the things that makes me saddest in the world is the thought of puppy mills. A dog, any dog, but for the sake of convenience, lets say a Berner... hunched over in a cage, unable to stand up all the way because the cage is too small. Her waste is in the cage with her and on her body. Her food, thrown in the cage in the morning, may be in her waste. She is hot in the summers when there is no air conditioning. Her puppies may freeze to death in the winter when there is no heat. She doesn't know what grass is. She's never been to a vet. She's never been held and loved and pet. Etc...

Petland is one of the places that encourages the practice of treating animals in such a cruel way by buying the puppies that she is producing and selling them for outrageous prices in the store. For that reason, I don't even like to drive by a Petland, it makes me so unhappy. For a while, some stupid Petland mascot stood on the corner advertising "Puppy Sale" on my route to school. After the third morning of being upset and considering having an "accident", I changed routes to school. I don't like to eat at the Applebees that is next to the Petland because I have to see Petland on my way in and my way out.

Chris and I have talked about this many times, and just recently I was pondering a thought that I probably wouldn't ever follow through with. Instead of selling puppy mill puppies (often mixed breeds that aren't AKC registered anyway), why not buy puppies from a shelter, then sell them at the petstore (with the shelters blessing of course). This would depend on the area you're in... Some cities have puppies being euthanized every day, some cities have shortages of puppies in the shelter. Some shelters use puppies to draw potential adopters in. There could be a million problems with the idea... I haven't thought it through from beginning to end, but it is a concept. I think most people by now realize Petland sells puppy mill puppies, but they go to Petland because they want a puppy and its easy. Is there a difference between a mutt puppy and a purposefully bred mutt puppy? No, not from a puppy mill. Is there a difference in the social stigma? Maybe it won't be registered by some ridiculous kennel club created by the puppy mill agenda that registers mixed breed dogs, but it also won't have the puppy mill stigma. I think its an ok trade off. But, enough about that.

What this past is really about is this article (may have to copy and paste, not sure how to add a link):

Basically it is a Petland that has stopped selling puppies. Instead, they are using their space to adopt out rescue dogs. Brilliant, right? I don't know how they're doing it... if they're profitting from it, if it is more of an adoption day type thing, if the dogs are living in the store, etc... It isn't exactly my idea above, but it is close. I think the pet store should be allowed to profit from it... why not? And allowing them to profit from it would mean that more stores would be encouraged to do it. You can still do good while being a capitalist.

Hopefully more Petlands make the switch. It would be a HUGE step towards ending puppy mills.

Friday, June 11, 2010

House Updates

We've been doing some redecorating much fun! I don't really have any pictures of it yet, but I will. We finished the downstairs office last week and we're shopping for new family room furniture. In the meantime, the flowers in our yard have been blooming beautifully. As soon as they do I run outside with scissors to kill them and bring them into the house because I love having fresh flowers in the house!

The picture of Jackson with the football highlights the new *red* rug. Yes, that is right. I put some color into the house and am slowly bringing in other pieces of color. And an extra plus about that cute is my little football player?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Every Year I Get Older (and so do my Berners)

**Warning that this is slightly depressing**

Chris and I flew rather quickly into the world of dogs. Since we jumped in, we've brought three Berners into our family, two of which are show dogs who came to us as puppies and one who came to us as a rehome/rescue at three years old. Chris and I both had dogs growing up, but they were family dogs that were not our responsibility. We've fostered dogs and cats off and on for the past 7 years. I've spent more time and effort learning about Berners, dogs in general, training, feeding, general health, etc... than I even want to account for (time when I probably should have been I should be now!). So it is somewhat shocking (in a non-shocking sort of way) to reach this point and realize that we haven't actually come very far, and for some things, only time is a teacher.

Jackson is our first Berner, and he will be 4 in August. On one hand, my heart sinks when I think about him being 4 years old already. By the time I'm 30, Jack will be 9 and an old man. It is difficult to imagine Jackson as old... as anything other than our crazy, enthusiastic, energetic boy. The hope is he will still be healthy and crazy at 9! On the other hand, I feel surprised to realize we've only been in the breed for 4 years. Hilga was our second Berner. She joined the family at three years old when Jack was about 1 year old. She just turned six at the beginnning of May. And of course, Lemon is the baby at 18 months and our third Berner.

What I'm thinking about is that despite our experiences over the last 4 years, despite all the time I've spent researching allergies, supplements, different foods, ear treatments, name it and I've probably spent some time searching for the perfect answers for my dogs... in the next few years, there is going to be SO much more to learn.

I've never been responsible for a dog over the age of 6. More importantly, I've never had a Berner over the age of 6. In Berners, year 6 is when we start the "old dog" phase. It is a sad, sad truth in the breed that the average lifespan of a Berner is 7. Seven. Typically the cause of death is cancer. For the past 4 years I've learned everything I can regarding how to best care for my healthy, young dogs. I've just now started trying to wrap my head around the idea that within the next 4 years, I will most likely be forced to learn everything I can about caring for an older dog, caring for a dog with cancer, or making quality of life decisions.

Hilga is a picture of health right now (as in if you took her picture, she would look like a very healthy dog). Her allergies are the best they've ever been. Her ears are the best they've ever been. She is moving really well, barely can see any effects of her mild hip dsyplasia. However, in the past, Hilga has had a handful of mild seizures. She also has leg tremors. We've never been overly concerned about these things, attributing the seizures to her severe allergy problems (never seen them when she is healthy allergy wise). And the tremors don't really have any impact on her quality of life. But lately she has been waking up in the middle of the night, panting heavily, so heavily that even I (heaviest sleep in the world) wake up.

We went to the vet who checked her out and ran blood tests which came back perfectly fine. The vet thinks it all might be connected, and suggested we might see a neurologist if we want to pursue it further. So we have several options... xrays of her lungs, neurologist to find out about her brain, medication for her anxiety, or do nothing.

So what do we do? How far do you go to diagnose a healthy, happy dog for occasional heavy breathing? If we found something serious, how far would we go in treatments? Its an interesting question, and one that we're encountering for the first time, thankfully with time to sort it out and consider all the options. I'm sure in the years to come, we'll encounter it more often and in more difficult situations. Not looking forward to that aspect of ownership.

One of the crazy things about having a dog to begin with, is that people get into it knowing just how badly it is going to end. Of course there are some endings that are worse than others, but as opposed to our human relationships (or perhaps a relationship with a tortoise or a macaw), we start loving our dogs knowing our hearts will end up broken. I think that later in life, I will look back at myself as totally innocent about the pains of dog ownership during this period of my life. Right now, its been 4 years. Lets hope the innoncence phase lasts at least another couple of years (if only it would last forever!).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Goofing Off in the Moty-hoty at Specialty

Casino Night

Hilga's Day at Specialty

Lemon's Day at Specialty

Jackson's Day at Specialty

Pre-Specialty Pictures

National Post #2

Ok, so where did I leave off? I think I'll start on Thursday... Thursday was the busiest day at Nationals for us. We got to the show site early, as Jackson showed around 10:00 in the Amateur Owner Handler (AOH) class. We got him beautified, then took him in. There were only 7 in his class, so it went fairly quickly. He showed beautifully (other than the fact that I had him stretched ridiculously for a big part of it) and got a third place ribbon! It was a big ribbon! After that, we went inside and Jackson did his first leg of rally novice. He passed, but as I said before, I wasn't happy with his focus. He got another big ribbon for that though!

Thursday afternoon we gave Lemon a bath and a dry down. Then we went to dinner with friends, and then to the health auction. The auction was a lot of fun. We met some more great people, saw some cool Berner items, and watched people bid. We didn't get involved in the bidding this year, but I'm thinking next year we may be a bit more active!!!

On Friday, Lemon showed early in the morning. I was worrying that she would pull one of her crazy stunts and embarass me, but she is constantly reminding me how much she has matured in the past few months. She showed beautifully, but didn't get a placement or anything. I was just happy to see her have fun showing, as there were 40 dogs in our class, and we were probably out there for an hour. Luckily she didn't pee or poop...and some days I consider that a success in itself!

As soon as Lemon got done showing, we started packing up. Before we left, we got the chance to hook Jackson up a cart. Very fun, and I'm nagging a bit at Chris to make a cart for us! It will take a little bit of getting used to for Jackson (very odd to have something following along behind you when you walk!), but I'm sure he'll get the hang of it in no time once he has a cart of his own.

On Friday night, we stopped at a casino just East of Des Moines. It was a really fun night. We were able to stay for free in the truck/RV parking. We went in, gambled a little bit, lost some money, had some drinks and then went back out to go to sleep. Woke up Saturday morning and finished the drive.

On Sunday, I graduated from law school (almost with mismatched shoes) and then we enjoyed lunch out with family. It was a crazy week, but so much fun. Next year the show is in California, a few blocks away from the beach. It is a REALLY long drive... so we may not be taking the motor home and the dogs. But, while it is always fun to show your dogs, its also fun to relax, watch, and take it all in. So maybe we will do that next year (and go to the beach one day!). Pictures to follow.