Monday, July 30, 2007

Welcome "C" litter Dutch Shepherds!!

I don't mind telling you now, I was plenty nervous!  I am spoiled by dogs who produce pups on a timely manner, on Day 60.  Combined with other recent reproductive issues with another breeder's DS litter, as each day passed I became more concerned.  Add to the fact that Roya had clambered over her enclosure several times, most certainly banging her gigantic belly as she did so, in order to join me in bed.  She apparently decided that staying in the whelping box (quite a fancy affair, 5 x 10, with two areas that can be opened or partitioned, and pig rails) was beneath her.  As for me, it just added to my already restless sleep.  Would she have the pups this night? On my bed?  My friend, Sue, on the other hand, suggested that Roya simply wanted to be like a German Shepherd and wait for Day 63 or so.

Whatever the cause, I would feel nervously each day for movement from the pups. I would hold my breath when there was nothing, and then sigh with relief as the knob of a head bumped against my hand.  Her temp remained 99 degrees until yesterday, when it dropped to 98.5.  I hovered. Nothing.  I put her in the whelping box and camped out, spending yet another uncomfortable night.  I finally left her and moved to my own bed around 2 a.m., not bothering to shut her in the box.  I didn't want to risk further injury and since she can open the lever handle to enter the house from the garage, I fully expected to have her join me again, but she did not.  I listened to her shred papers on the baby monitor and at 5:15 she began labor.

The first pup, a male, entered the world at 5:55 and -- I don't have my notebook handy-- arrived, I believe at 11:40.  10 pups were born, one died after birth.  There are 5 males and 4 females.  Looking at them it is hard to imagine all of them packed inside her, but that explains the gigantic proportions of her girth!    Roya is a completely devoted mother now, and other than her forced exit in order for me to wash up her rear after giving birth so she is springtime fresh, she will not leave them.  I call to her to go outside and potty.  Nope.  I brought meals to her to keep up her strength even though I know she is perfectly capable of getting up to find a meal.  It's just my small part of taking care of her as she nurses the hungry brood.  A little raw meat with some kelp and evaporated milk, with honey, does the trick!

Check out the colors!  There are three that are clearly lighter brown brindle, with one quite red.  The rest range from dark with visible brindling to dark with none visible yet.  I will carry on the Pupster Journal, continuing with the lastest additions to the FoxTal family and you can stay tuned for new developments!


I have two puppies left here to go to their new homes, Danica and D'jango.  They don't seem bothered by the dwindling numbers of their siblings.  Trying to take a photo of them is difficult, as when we walk they come running back if they see me stop to focus.  This is Danica.

Even as they range out, they are aware of my position and check back.  Watching them work the paths and fields the other night was very interesting.  Danica was all about tracking; her little nose was to the ground and you could hear her snuffling in the scent.  D'jango, on the other hand, used air scenting and his nose was in the air and testing the breezes.  In the end, I was able to get a couple photographs of Danica but none of D'jango this time.


Danica is the most vocal puppy, and has always voiced her complaints or simply barked to get attention.  And, being a girl who grew up with four brothers, she takes what she wants.  Here she is with BOTH of the toys that I had given the puppies to play with, not so secretly hoping that D'jango will give chase and attempt to take his back!

  She is not very subtle about what she wants, either.  If ignored, she will follow you, shaking her head with the toy in her mouth and making noise to get your attention.  It will be difficult not to give in and baby her, but she will definately need rules!

Diablo goes home

Diablo went to his new family on Saturday.  We took him for a last walk around the property and then he left for his new life.  Diablo is the pup who was marked most similarly to the Jeiko/Aryan coat pattern.  I think he will have a set of legs under him like his Daddy, though, who comes by it through his sire, Daffy's Benji.  Bye, Diablo! Write when you get time!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

castleberry food products recall

Because I have told you that I use Natural Balance dog food (in the sausage type roll) which I use as training treats, you may have heard of a recent recall including several Natural Balance foods produced by Castleberry Foods.  The recall involves some canned food products , the likes of which I doubt (hope not) any of you would be stew, hobo chili, southern style dumplings and chinese take out.  Those psuedo-human offerings. ick.  But here is the link, so you can check it out.  It may, however, involve some of the chili in your pantry.


Roya- the next FoxTal litter about to arrive

No rest for me, apparently! Today is Day 61 for Roya, my dutch shepherd.  I had expected her to whelp last night but she didn't. There are bets being taken that have her whelping on the 28th, but I think they may be doing that on purpose since I advised that the Grand Prize was THREE PUPPIES!  As much as I have whispered, "five, five" I don't think she has been listening.  Judge for yourself.

Is Spartacus a Seahawks fan?

Der Spartacus flew to Seattle, Washington on Tuesday and now resides in Redmond with his new family.  Being that our former-traitor-coach, Mike Holmgren now coaches for the Seahawks, it is important to remember that Spartacus will always be a GREEN BAY PACKER DOG at heart.  If there is any doubt, offer him a cheese curd....

We headed off on our journey at 7:00 that morning and picked up my friend, Sue, at 7:30.  We needed to have him at the airport in Chicago no later than 12:30.  We were able to use the Continental Petsafe program, flying him in a temperature controlled cabin and although he did have one plane change, this was the best we could do. I had frozen two trays of water for him, but those were melted by the time we arrived and I just poured bottled water in.  The frozen trays are a good idea if you have a nearby flight, though, or a means of keeping them frozen until flight time.  He had plenty of absorbent bedding (a rag rug and fleece bed) and I smuggled a chew tire in with him.  You aren't supposed to leave toys in and I was hoping they would either not notice or not remove it, because a 6 hour flight is a long time for a baby without anything to occupy his time.  Better that than having him eat his bedding!

Spartacus marched through the baggage terminal on his leash, as if he owned the place.  I, as usual, also had treats on hand (this time Bil-Jac liver treats) and when he was placed in his crate I imagine he just thought we were going for another ride.  I apologized for his stinky companions, as someone was apparently shipping ferrets!  I was happy to get the phone call from Christoph, advising that Spartacus had made it safely and unconcerned about his journey.

You can read all about the adventures of Der Spartacus, who is going to be trained as a Search and Rescue dog, on the blog at:

And now, the photo you've been waiting for...ME! The mystery person behind the camera.  Here I am, holding Spartacus just before putting him in his crate at the airport.  He looks like a happy little boy, doesn't he, and you just have to love those pink speckled bellies! And now you know what the puppies have to look at every morning, and they don't even drink coffee!

Last night in Wisconsin for Der Spartacus

Der Spartacus (formerly known as "Doc") went for his last romp around the property on Monday evening, with brother, Diablo. 

For those who haven't seen our property, we have almost 40 acres with approximately 5 wooded along the Black Creek, which is our north border, and the rest in field grasses.  We have paths mowed around the wildlife scrape/pond and along the wood line so you can walk around the entire property and enjoy the beauty.

It was somewhat cooler in the evening, and a fine time for pups to stretch their legs.  I tried to get good photos of the two of them, but each time they saw me stop, they came flying back.  Here they are, sitting for a treat, but making my photo journalism impossible!

I tried to distract them and move away, by making little tracks in the grass and baiting them, but only succeeded in adding to my collection of "pictures of puppy butts." Either their heads were down on the track or they were half turning back.  I guess National Geographic will never hire me based on this collection!

As we walked along the east ditch line, Der Spartacus suddenly stopped and his little front paw came up in a point, but his rear end wasn't convinced that he wanted to stay.  I started to walk back to see what he had when UP comes a wild turkey from the ditch!  Once the turkey flew up, he went back to his romp and wasn't startled by the loud noise, as I was! 

I had found a number of turkey feathers on my first walk, with Danica and D'jango but no one had discovered the turkey hidden in the ditch. 

And this is the two brothers, pushing and joking their way back from the walk.  Probably telling puppy fart jokes, if they are like any other brothers I know!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Slow Food- not dog related

Recently, I have given more thought to where my food comes from. Perhaps it is a luxury of aging, because until recently I was most concerned with how quickly I could obtain and consume food, with little consideration to how it tasted and more concern to just getting it down and moving on with whatever I was doing. I made fast food faster!


My mother baked a great deal when I was growing up, and my father always kept a garden.  We picked berries and fruit and mom did some canning.  I never learned how; instead I protested "why can't we have store-bought?" <like everyone else>  How funny that now I find myself wishing I had learned more about raising my own food!


The change began with news of so many recalls, disease and questions of food integrity.  I happened to pick up a couple books and learned more. "Plenty", by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, the creators of the 100-mile diet, was interesting but a little hard-core for my taste. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver was a more realistic read for me, partly because they were in a position to grow some of their own food and also because they clearly supported farmers who responsibly raised meat.  In the resource section I saw a link to Slow Food USA and wascurious.


Slow Food apparently began as a protest to the infiltration of McDonald's "fast food" in Italy. From there, the concept spread to the USA ( and to local groups.  In Wisconsin there are only two, Milwaukee and Madison based.  In reading the web site, I discovered that they were offering a joint event at the Fountain Prairie Inn and Farms, and that-- such good fortune, considering my schedule-- I would be able to attend!  Fountain Prairie Farms is a 280 acre working farm and Guest House, located in Fall River, with the largest herd of Highland Cattle in Wisconsin  The Highland Cattle are a shaggy, heirloom breed.  John and Dorothy Priskeare stewards of the land and animals and believe in cultivating an environment for sustainability.  Their web site is:


The lovely Sunday afternoon was everything I had hoped it would be, and more!  We were seated on three covered wagons on which we would ride for the tour of the farm, and received welcomes and introductions.  We met Pete Blokhuis, the meat processor that they use.  Pete should actually have a much loftier title, perhaps meat artisan?  He was born in the Netherlands, and his father owned a meat market there.  Pete was sent to trade meat school where he learned the German method of using all of the animal, and not wasting.  His poor father was disappointed when Pete chose to seek fortune overseas, first working for an uncle in Canada in the meat business, and ultimately owning his own USDA approved and certified organic business in Rudolph, Wi.  John Priske said that you don't tell Pete how to process your meat, and that in their relationship they have learned the value of actually TASTING the flavor of meat rather than the spices and disguise.  You can read about the organic process there at:



Next we were treated to a cooking demonstration by David Swanson of "Braise to Go", a traveling culinary school.

They do cooking classes, catering and also do something I find very interesting; they visit farms around the state, walk the farm and harvest what is produced there to create a meal.  There is actually a job title of "forager".  David is as entertaining as he is knowledgeable as he prepared Pork Rillettes.  The common term is "potted pork" and it is a frequent picnic meal in France, served with a white chablis and a crusty baguette.  We were privy to a taste test, served with basil mayonnaise. Delicious!  David told us that creating braise is the training wheels for making pate, working with meat and fat.


I selected the right wagon to ride on!  John Priske was our tour guide, but there were several other extremely knowledgeable folks seated immediately behind me.  What luck! I met the couple who own Door Creek Orchard ( and raise Black Welsh Sheep. However, I count myself extremely lucky to have discovered Ray and Antoniewicz!  Initially, I only knew that Ray was very helpful and educational, without treating me as a novice idiot, something I readily admit to being in this field.  I am a dreamer of the highest order, and imagine myself a farmer but lack the reality of the skills to take me there.  Ray so kindly ignored that and answered my questions seriously.  It was only later in the tour that I learned he is a retired Professor Emeritus in the Department of Animal Sciences at UW-Madison and is regularly on Public Radio ( discussing various events and their A-Z Farm,, where they raise sheep, chickens and rabbits.


Ray also told me of an event that I might be interested in, which is the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.    For dog lovers, there is the "Crook & Whistle" stock dog trial, herding instinct tests, fiber arts classes, shearing demonstrations and much more.  A small chord in my heart was also struck seeing the "Make it Yourself with Wool" contest included.  When I was in high school, I participated in this contest, where you have to sew an article of clothing made of wool (no, you do not have to gather and spin it yourself!) and then model it in the competition.  I did not get beyond the first level, but a school mate of mine did.  I recall that I was so nervous that, instead of standing normally, I jammed my spine into the base of my pelvis, and the only possible result was that my butt stuck waaaaay out and I moved like I had the proverbial stick up there.... no modeling career for me!  Some years later, I did do some modeling for print ads and fashion shows on a local level and somehow learned to move and turn more smoothly, despite my early emotional scars.


A tractor slowly pulled the wagons on a farm lane that allowed us to view the cattle, but from which the cattle could move away if they liked.  The fencing is a New Zealand style from Gallagher, carrying 8000 volts and no amps.  It is quite innocuous to the landscape, but apparently effective.   John says it serves more as a mental barrier than a physical one.  He has a reverence for those lives, and is with them from birth to death in many cases, as they live in huge pastures where they can lay in the shade along a rocky outcrop or graze in the grass pasture.  They constructed squeeze chutes, as described in Temple Grandin's book, "Animals in Translation", as the tightness calms the animals.  Another guest, who is vegan but markets their meat at the Farm Market, said that the Grow Local concept and John in particular, was mentioned in the service at the First Unitarian Society in Madison, , just that morning.  The sermon is available on line and by podcast.


  There are cool season grasses for the cattle and warm grasses on the prairie, including bee balm, yellow coneflower, parsnip, purple prairie clover, black eyed susan and cup plant. 

 Part of the prairie is on a hillside where it was difficult to cultivate, and it didn’t make sense to crop it so it was placed in CRP and the Priskes hand-harvested seeds at Audubon, staying with local genotype grasses. They originally had to burn to regenerate and it took two years.   A tall plant that was pointed out was identified as sweet clover, and I was told you can put it in your basement to get rid of spiders.  The Priskes are CRP member and also participate in a program called The Conservation Security Program which serves to "reward the best and motivate the rest."


Red, white and burr oak, and hazelnut bushes, create an oak savannah.  The trees break up the edge effect of the fields and provide haven for birds.  The are five acres of trees, 28 acres in prairie and 60.6 acres total in the program, which includes a large body of water. 

We could see herons and John reported was an attraction to ducks.  Water acts as a kidney in the body, to cleanse the land around it.  The tractor stopped at several vantage points so that we could stretch our legs and appreciate our surroundings.  I did remember to include my epipen for a beesting allergy, but was reminded to be slightly more cautious as I tromped around for photographs after learning that there are also honeybees kept on the property.  I laughed at the thought of the “free range people” wandering around in the grass, with the cattle in view behind them.



You might think that this is plenty to include in an afternoon’s introduction to Eating Local.  However, upon our return to the Fountain Prairie Inn we were treated to the most wonderful lunch, including meats from the Priske farm and side dishes provided by Slow Food members.  The menu included:  Technicolor bean salad, Italian pork sausage, beef and pork bratwurst, swiss chard tart with pine nuts and goat cheese, garlic roasted potatoes, shortbread with blueberries, melon, sorghum ginger cookies and a number of other food items whose names I did not learn.  I asked one member what a particular dish was and she identified the ingredients as potatoes, grilled and roasted corn,  and shallots and said that it had originally began as a corn chowder before she realized it would be wonderful served cold!  Elderberry punch and a drink from maple sugar were also offered.  I chose the elderberry punch and am not embarking on research to see whether the elderberry is something that would grow well here.


On this map at Local Harvest ( you can find local offerings.  You might decide that the cardboard tasting supermarket tomato just cannot compare to the succulent red delight of the local farm market.  Or, if you are even luckier (as I hope to be by next year) you can pluck one from your own garden and never have to wonder what pesticides and genetic engineering produced it.  If you drive to FoxTal to pick up your puppy or return for training, I encourage you to visit the farm stand on the corner of Hwy 47 and Hwy 54 and know where your food comes from!


What is Wrong with This Picture?

Check out the photo below.  There is something wrong, and I just can't put my finger on it.............

Oh my gosh!!  There is a munsterlander puppy (Doc) nursing on a Dutch Shepherd!!! yikes!  My Dutch Shepherd bitch, Roya, is wonderful with puppies and is due to whelp on Wednesday.  I expected she would teach the puppies that "no means no", but nicely, as she is wonderful with pups. Maybe just a little TOO wonderful!  I was surprised to see that, when his little eyes glowed at the sight of milk filled tits, that she just stood there instood of shooeing him away.   Tom said dutch shepherd milk will make them aggressive, and to stop it!

Some little hormonal trigger must have been tripped, as prior to this she DID say "no".  This is Doc, being a brat, but learning that adults make rules.

Here is Roya and Diablo, out for a walk around the property, and sitting for treats (Roya said her back aches, and she'll just lay down, thank you very much!)

Doc goes to the vet

Doc-- whose new name will be Der Spartacus-- visited the vet last week to get his flight certificate.  He is the only pup that will need to fly to his new home. This is him in the exam room, with his toy.


As I noted in another post, I always come prepared to the vet's office.  I want it to be a good experience for the puppy and so I make sure they are a little hungry and bring plenty of treats.  Doc weighed 16.6 lbs when we arrived, and I think he added another 2 lbs in treats during the visit!! I led him into the scale with treats, asked him to sit and he sat very nicely while we got the weight.  Naturally, everyone thought he was very adorable!

We use Continental and their "PetSafe" program so that the puppy flies in a temperature controlled area.  If a puppy is familiar with traveling in a crate, airline travel should not be an issue.  It is simply another ride, another journey...but with new people on the other end!  You are required to include a airline approved food and water container and for long trips it is best to freeze water in the tray so that it is available longer, and without spilling.  Unfortunately, for fear of choking, they do not allow toys in the crate.  He will fly out of Chicago tomorrow and be with his new family by Tuesday evening.

Locally, we use Countryside Veterinary Service.  Dr. Jay Peters is a personal favorite, but I have found that they hire vets consistent with their own attitudes and vision, and have not found one that I did not enjoy meeting.  I am a very controlling client and I do not allow any procedure not requiring anesthetic to be done outside of my view.  They trust me to know my dogs and to properly restrain them, but you will remember that my agreement with my dogs is that I will keep them safe.  That means that I do not hand them over to people I don't know, no matter what their title is.  I do understand that this can be an issue if a pet is aggressive in the presence of a handler who cannot control them; often a dog is better behaved apart from such an owner.  I feed, feed, feed as the puppy is being examined and make the whole procedure a fun adventure, not an ordeal.  Build this and you will not dread trips to the vet.

Do remember that a vet office is a place for sick animals.  Don't let them interact with other animals there and expose them as little as possible.  You might even consider wiping their feet with an antibacterial wipe afterwards, because they have walked their little paws over the place where dogs with worms and illness have possibly been and will soon lick their feet, as dogs do.  By insisting that your puppy is examined in your presence, in an exam room this also controls some of that exposure, since they will clean the room in between clients.

This is the lovely vet tech, who was quite taken by the handsome Doc!  Sorry, but the fluorescent lights made for some ugly indoor pictures, but I had to document it, just the same! 

 And this is the vet and assistant, being very cooperative in my photo session!  I should have brought treats for them, too!  The vet confirmed the presence of the two tiny testicles that I had felt, and that he has no heart murmur and a correct bite.  Doc didn't care, he had food and his tug toy!  He will soon be off on his new journey and have plenty of tales to tell himself!


Shopping for Pupster Stuff

As the Pupsters go to their new homes, there are probably humans out there shopping for the *right* toys and accessories. 

The Pupsters have a rag rug in their crates, and none of them have chewed on those so you should be able to give them something soft to recline on without having them ingest it.  That can be a problem with some dogs.  I keep a chew toy in the crate so that they have something to occupy them.  That can be a puppy-sized Kong toy (which you can stuff with cheap peanut butter or cheese whiz if you like) or a nylonbone toy. 

Do not leave a puppy unsupervised with any toy or treat that they can break down and get lodged in their throat.  I use Greenies as treats some times but always get a bigger size and do not leave them unattended, as dogs have choked on them.  Of course, there are dogs (just like children) who can choke to death on anything, and hence the warnings, but I have never had a dog have a problem with Greenies, knuckle bones or even the frozen chicken wings I give adults as treats. 

I like to use a humane slip collar for puppies.  As you can see in the photo, it does not act as a slip lead which can tighten and choke but allows you to tighten it to the pup's neck size. 

The wide, patterned part of the one below goes around the pup's neck and the second loop you see is what tightens it.  The collar is slightly wider than a regular puppy collar and distributes the pressure.  These are walking collars.  They are not used for making corrections, and any training at this age should use treats as lure/reward.  Remember: the way to a pup's head is through his stomach! 

This odd looking little toy is made of the soft, blanket material of puppy tugs.

When doing play retrieves with your puppy, find toys that are appropriate to the size of your pup. Too large and they will drag it around by a handle or small piece instead of carrying it properly, a habit that you do not want.  I like to use a variety of objects, so that the puppy learns that retrieve means to bring back anything I ask, not just a particular type of object.  The other day, I used a knobby rubber toy and a rubber chicken.  However, after retrieving an odd item, end with something familiar and rewarding.  In the play retrieves, I let the puppy see the object, toss it and just as soon as it reaches the object I begin calling and mark the behavior when the pup returns.  I do not use a formal retrieve command until I have shaped the behavior I want. 

To incite the pup to return quickly, RUN AWAY. (not so far it can't keep up, but enough to kick in the prey/pursuit drive).   Just before the pup reaches you, turn to face it and continue to move backward, bringing the dog in to you. This is helpful advice for any time you call the pup to you.  Want to make sure your pup does not return or comes in slowly? Stand still, lean forward, order the pup to sit and then do not reward it.   How many times have you seen that happen?  By standing still, you create a big wall and then if you lean forward you push the dog further away from your body, the opposite of the behavior you are trying to create.  No more than 1 in 10 recalls should involve a sit, especially at a baby level.  The pup quickly learns that there is no hurry in getting to you because you are only going to bark at it and maybe even correct it once it gets there.  The most important thing right now is the speed in getting there, and rewarding that.  Act crazy! Act as if you just won the lottery, or your puppy is indeed Smarter than a Fifth Grader! Woo hooo and be happy, so your pup thinks running to you is just the best thing in the world! 

And then, do not forget to reward it.  And by that I do not mean saying "good dog".  The Reward is the puppy's paycheck.  If you finished your work week and  the boss patted your head and said "good job", would you be satisifed? Inspired to work harder the next week?  I think not!

Save the best and most fun toys for training.  Everything with a puppy is a learning process, and therefore training.  If you go out for a walk, carry treats and a toy (and a poop bag).  ALWAYS be prepared to reward good behavior.  When I took Doc to the vet for his flight certificate, they asked if I always carried treats with me.  I do, if I have a dog along.  The treats are not a bribe, they are a reward.  There is a difference, and part of that difference is in the application of training.  Watch the Ivan Balabanov tapes and you will understand.


This is a tug toy.  All puppies want to tug.  What is important is that you teach them that you are not in competition for their toys, but you do control them because you are the leader.  That means they do not have free access to the best stuff.  That comes from YOU.  You can excite them by prepping them for work by saying "Want to play?" or "want to go to work?" and then out comes the best toy, or you do a couple of retrieves.  The pup needs to learn that toys in your hand belong to you and that you end the game BUT make the trade for food calmly and quietly, and then put the toy away. You can say "all done".  If you steal the toy, snatch it away as the pup leaps and tries to grab it, or make strong corrections to release, you create a pup who knows you are unfair and will try to possess the toy because it does not believe it will get it back.  Many times you will ask the pup to release, trade for a treat and when it lets go, mark (yes!) and then present the toy again, reinforcing your ownership of the toy (you give and you taketh away) and that the pup can earn it back by offering the desired behavior.  One additional caution is that if you are training a gun dog do not teach it to "drop" the toy.  Some times families with children do this so that the kids can safely play fetch, but this is a behavior you will have to fix because the dog must deliver to hand at any testing level.  For pets this is less critical until you get tired and your back is sore from finishing the retrieves yourself! (gooood boy!)

Don't scatter your floor with toys.  If you go crazy and have a toybox full, pick one each day for the pup to play with, other than having a good chew toy. 

In the dog's hierarchy of needs there is sex, food and shelter.  We deny them sex, we provide shelter, so there is only food (and play) that we can control and use for reward.  Fixed feeding is best.  That way you know exactly how much your pup is eating and immediately know if it is "off" its feed.  It also strengthens the relationship, because a leader controls resources.  If your dog has toys all the time, can play when it likes and eat whenever it likes, what does it need you for? You become an annoying inconvenience in his life!

The pups eat Solid Gold Wolf Cub and are still also getting a meat meal.  Their meat meal is from Animal Food Services in Green Bay, Wi.   For training treats I use Natural Balance rolls, cut into small pieces.

The best time to train is when the puppy is hungry, and right after they have come out of their crate and pottied.  They are ready to DO SOMETHING!  Use that energy for good, not evil. <grin>   Using the crate for down time and focus can be helpful, as well.  Put the pup in the crate for an hour, then take it out and have a lesson while it is refreshed. 

When I put the pups in their crates, I say "kennel" and toss in a couple dog biscuits.  They follow the biscuits in, and I shut the door. End of story.  No wrestling, no fuss and going into the crate gets a reward.  If you plan to travel withyour puppy you will also want to reinforce that it can eat in any location, so sometimes feed it in the crate and outdoors, etc.  I once watched a *trainer* demonstrate how to teach a dog to go into the crate, and she grabbed it by the ears as the dog screamed, and ear pinched it in.  Trust me, folks, there is a better and more humane way to do this!  You can do it with food or toy, by restraining the dog while exciting it, then say "kennel" and toss a toy inside or put the food dish down in the crate (where the dog won't knock it over, running in), then release the dog.  Do not worry about closing the door for this exercise; what you are developing is the response to the word "kennel" and a joy in getting there.  Just as soon as the dog enters the crate, mark the behavior (yes!) and it can either grab the toy, at which point you play with it, or eat the meal.  Either method teaches the command and creates a dog who thinks going into the crate is a good thing!   In the house, I will also occasionally leave a tasty treat or stuff kong inside the crate so that if the pup passes the open door, it smells it and volunatarily goes inside to check it out.

There are so many fun toys for puppies that you can spend a small fortune in a pet store.  Our local Fleet Farm has better prices but doesn't carry the same variety as pet stores.  Don't bother with the light rubber toys that the dog can chew up and swallow, and do not buy toys with squeakers that a dog will free play with. Squeaky toys create a "munching" behavior that is not going to be desirable later on, as the pup learns to exert pressure to hear the squeak and be self rewarded.  I have, at times, used a toy with a squeaker to get a puppy's attention for a retrieve, but that is no longer needed or desired at their age so it is best just to avoid them.

Go forth and SPEND!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Dark is now officially DUKE VOM FOXTAL and he went home with his new family this past week. 

Before he left, he received his new tattoo in his right ear, and I confirmed his microchip with our scanner.  Duke was going to go on a camping trip with his family this past weekend, so I will anxiously wait to hear how things went!  Camping with a new puppy is the mark of an adventuresome family!

People ask if I am sad to see the Pupsters go, or if I want to keep them all.  The answer is "no" to the first and a resounding "no" to the second!  If we have done our homework and found the right home for each of the pups then there should be no sadness in seeing them leave, because we know that they are embarking on the life they were bred for: to be a companion and hunting partner for someone else.  It is our hope that each will be an ambassador for the breed and for our breeding program.

The resounding "no" part is because it is an incredibly big job raising puppies.  It isn't something you can "fit in" around the rest of your day, but requires planning for the things they need to experience, for their travel and their development.  By the time they are leaving for their new homes, I am ready to put my feet up for a little while and enjoy hearing the stories someone else has to tell about them!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Please Vote for my Search and Rescue Team!

Last night, I drove to Milwaukee with Bart, Jinx and three of the Pupsters (because that's all I could fit in!) in order to participate in a TV spot on Fox News regarding a contest my Search and Rescue team is involved in.  The Pupsters are sure used to riding along with me and once I arrived I got them all out and each one of them peed and pooped.  Okay, I know it sounds crazy to write about the bodily functions of puppies, but many of you understand how important it is that they understand to "hold it" until I get them out.  If this doesn't excite you, close your eyes and imagine driving two hours with the waste products of three puppies wafting through your nasal cavities.  I brought Doc, Danica and Dark on the trip.  Since Doc is destined to be a SAR dog, he had his photo taken to demonstrate that he is off on the right feet!  He happily retrieved his little tug toy and pushed it at anyone who would play with him.  Here he is, posing with Lynn Gardiner, of People and Paws at the Rubbletown training site:



A little over a week into the voting, we are doing well…. THANK YOU! 


But the race isn’t over….with three weeks to go, every vote counts and we need you to continue voting DAILY. Please pass this along to everyone you know, and ask for a minute of their time to cast a vote for our team.


To learn more about this competition and learn more about our team, visit Milwaukee Fox 6 News for a video…


Please keep voting, and keep spreading the word… it is greatly appreciated!




Earlier this year People and Paws Search and Rescue,Inc. was nominated as one of hundreds of charitable, non-profit organization across the U.S. that were making a significant impact in their respective communities.  We were selected throughan online voting process and panel review and selected as one of 21 organizations to receive a regional award of $5,000. We now have the opportunity to compete in an online vote for a single $100,000 national award.  Your daily vote could help us win, and help support  training and equipment for canine search and rescue for the next 3 years!!

 Please go to to vote, and VOTE DAILY until August 10th, 2007

 ~Why People and Paws Search and Rescue, Inc?

 Since the team’s inception in 2000 we have been requested by law enforcement, fire departments, and other public safety agencies throughout Wisconsin and around the Midwest using highly trained personnel and canines.  Our team has trained extensively and certified in various disciplines to use canines to locate missing/lost persons.  The team has been deployed to assist in cases ranging from missing children and elderly Alzheimer patients, to disasters.

 As a 100% volunteer team we are funded by our members, the community, and private corporations.  The team does not receive any government funding or taxpayer-funded support.  We provide our services FREE to the requesting agency, and rely on donations, sponsors, and grants such as Rezoom to support our continued operations.

 ~What a difference $100,000 would make.

 The training, education, and equipment required to maintain a K9 search and rescue team comes at a substantial cost. It is specifically this reason that the vast majority of public safety agencies are unable to staff their own resources and rely on teams like ours in a time of need. Winning this award would allow our team to do the following;

1.      Fund ongoing training, education, and certification processes for the next 3-5 years for the benefit of our team as well as others throughout Wisconsin & the US.  This includes bringing nationally recognized trainers and certification instructors to Wisconsin. These programs typically cost several hundred dollars per K9/Handler not including travel and lodging expenses and have previously only been available out of state. These programs allow us to train and certify canines in Trailing, Tracking, Disaster and Human Remains Detection,.

2.      Upgrade and increase our communication equipment to ensure constant, critical communications between all rescuers and agencies in an incident.

3.      Increase the size of our Disaster K9 section. We are currently working on a goal of having six disaster canine teams that have completed the Canine Search Specialist class and are State USAR certified.  One class alone costs $1,500, not including travel expenses, and is held only in limited locations throughout the US.

4.      Upgrade our water response capabilities.  A significant portion of our searches involve water.  Purchase additional equipment to work in conjunction with our boat teams with side scan sonar in support of our Human Remains Detection canines to locate missing/presumed deceased persons in water.

5.      Purchase and upgrade safety, rescue and medical equipment.

Your support and your DAILY votes would be greatly appreciated.  This is a way for you to donate a few seconds of your time and make a tremendous impact.  Individual donations can also be made if you desire at our team website at .

Please feel free to pass along to everyone you know…WE NEED YOUR VOTES!


Geoff Gardiner
WI-TF1, IL-TF1 - Canine Search Specialist
FF/EMT Butler Volunteer Fire Dept
People & Paws Search and Rescue

Doggie Spa

My birthday was on Sunday.  As a birthday gift, my friends, Les and Janie, gave me a Doggie Spa Day and on Sunday they arrived with their grooming table and supplies.  I am not convinced they realized how many dogs we have, when they made the offer!  Like clowns from a car at a Shriner parade, dogs continued to emerge through the kennel doors until we had a carpet of hair outside.  I'm sure the local birds were pleased, and what colorful nests they must have now!

Everyone was brushed-- furminated-- nails trimmed and ears cleaned.  Some enjoyed the process more than others, appreciating the massage of the brush along the back and legs.  We did not bathe each dog, as I prefer not to bathe them too often and dry the coat, and to brush it after being wet would damage the hair, so we just brushed and cleaned.  Still, after four hours of grooming those dogs were bee-ooo-ti-ful!

This is Grandma Aryan.  She is the only remaining pup from her litter and gets half a tablet of Rimadyl daily now, as she is feeling her age in her hips, but most days has the spunk of a youngster.  You can see the impishness in her eyes yet, and she loves attention.

This is Aunt Confetti, Arec's half sister.  They share the same momma, Aryan, but different fathers.

And this is Daddy Arec.



And this is my wonderful Spa Crew, Janie and Les.

The last of the marathon session involved trimming nails on all the Pupsters.  Really, this is not a difficult process.  At this age and size I am able to lay them on their backs in my arms and trim nails in that position.  One thing that they learn is that struggling gets you nothing but more time on your back!  D'jango was the most vocal in protest, and you might think you are killing them to hear it, but all that occurs is that they experiment with their ability to control their environment and ultimately learn that the human is in control, not the Pupster.  I gently but firmly remain holding the paw until they stop struggling and then proceed to trim the nails.  Once they decide to be still, it is a simple procedure.  Two things to remember in nail trimming:  1) If you surrender to the puppy protest and stop, it will be more difficult and loud the next time (think Extinction Burst) and 2) no puppy ever died from nicking a nail.  If a nail bleeds, don't baby the pup.  It will not die.  If necessary you can put some styptic on it, but just walking around on the grass will take clot it just fine.  White carpeting might be another matter entirely....

Once a pup is old enough to understand a sit and stay, you can trim the nails in this position and simply reinforce the "sit" if they design to wiggle.  I've seen people straddle dogs, trim them like horses, and every manner in between.  Do whatever works for you and your dog but make sure that you practice it regularly.  The job is more simple if you don't let the nails get too long between trimming.  Some dogs will wear their nails short if kept on concrete. Carpet doggies need more frequent attention.  If nails get too long the "quick", or blood vessel, will extend farther and you will need to trim off the ends little by little, allowing the "quick" to receed between trimmings.  An overly long nail will also put pressure on the hocks and therefore the tendons because the dog is unable to stand/walk properly.

Dogs with "drop" ears are more prone to ear infections because there is not the air circulation that you have with an erect ear and moisture finds haven there.  A sniff test is an easy method to determine whether you have a problem.  A healthy ear smells that way and if you do this from the start of your ownership, you will recognize the off smell of an infection.  A dog may start to shake its head, as well.  Regular cleaning and examination can prevent an infection.  A cleanser such as Otomax can be applied (do not stick anything small into the ear canal, same as with your own ears) and at times Panalog may be needed to treat infection. 

This may sound like a crazy way to spend a birthday, but can you honestlythink of better company to keep than that of your dogs and friends on a special day?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Back Home

I'll bet you're just waiting to hear how the trip turned out! The Pupsters and myself all survived to make it back home, which , as Martha Stewart would say "is a good thing!"  We got a slightly later start than I had hoped for, which is customary for my travels. I got up early and got them outside and fed while I worked on the last minute check list.  I debated feeding before a road trip, but since we had at least an hour before Departure and it was going to be a long drive, I decided to feed.

 One large cup of coffee later, we are on the road.  I had room for four crates, so two pups doubled up.  It took only a moment for them to settle down once we headed off.

I stopped about 1 1/2 hours into the journey, to get each of the out to potty.  I had cautioned them to be sure they went before we left home but you know how that goes!!  I figured it was a wise decision to make certain they had, in fact, pottied instead of played on their way to the van.  I think puppies will pee whenever they emerge from crates, no matter.  And they did.  A woman approached and asked if they were for sale and inquired what exactly they were.  I pointed her to the website and hopefully she has visited and learned more about this wonderful breed.

No puppy should ever be sold on a whim, or just because they are cute.  Some authors write that puppies and other adolescents (children included) have the domed heads and infantitle appearance that creates a particular response in adults, so that we do not kill them!    Puppies grow into dogs and dogs were bred for particular purposes.  It is important that buyers understand the breed, and their purpose and know that this is appropriate to their needs and lifestyle.  When puppies are sold at pet stores, or to whomever arrives with the right change, there is no such understanding and the "ahhh, he's cute" factor rules.

Whew! We arrived!  I set up the Xpen, got the pups tucked in with food, water and toys and had a nice visit.  It rained a little, and the pups seemed to enjoy that cooling.  I had initially asked for a lawn chair to put in the pen so that they could sleep underneath, but immediately two of the pups (Doc and ?) climbed on top of it, and I imagined them jumping off and getting caught in the fence, or the chair, and I removed it.  Probably took all their fun along with it.

My Uncle Clayton accompanied me and the Pupsters on a walk around the property.  They have black bear and badgers that visit the yard, and I was worried some critter would eat my babies!  My mother assured me that the badgers were in the sand banks and we would be safe on the path through the old horse pasture.  Oh, did they ever have fun!  The pasture is now more like a forest and they Pupsters ran to and fro, investigating and wrestling and really enjoying stretching their legs in this new place!  When we turned back, I called and they all came flying.  Interestingly, they ran ahead and took the correct turn back toward the house.  Then it was a matter of assigning all the relatives to grab a pup and put it in the crate so we could leave.

We traveled 558 miles yesterday.  Quite a road trip for the Pupsters!  When we arrived here at home, they were wide awake (I was the tired one; they got to sleep!!) and ready to play some more.

I was very glad that I decided to take them with me when I discovered some things blown around here, including the portapotty on the training field blown over, which means we must have had strong winds while we were gone.  

Today we had visitors from Sun Prairie.  We took Dark for a walk and played with him and he alternated between being attentive and sociable, to running off to do his own thing and not responding to my call.  He made some nice retrieves, too.  One thing I do with puppies and young dogs in their play retrieves is to teach them that they can retrieve ANYTHING.  So, we pulled out an odd, knobby rubber toy and a rubber chicken for his retrieves today.  Those he proudly chased and returned with.  Later, up at the house, I just had to do onnnnneee more but this time he decided he was done and carried it off instead of returning, so I had to walk after him and get it myself.  In this instance, I do not correct him.  I do want him to pursue and to pick things up, and it is my job to shape the return.  I will make trades for treats so that he learns to let go calmly and without fighting for the toy.   This is the best way to teach a release, showing the pup that it is in his best interest to let go (the best teacher: self interest) and the faster he does so, the faster he will be rewarded.  To force a puppy to let go can result in a dog who does not want to return to you with an object, or who "chatters" while holding it because he is worried he will have to let go. 

The visitors wanted to see Mommy and Daddy, so I let Arec and Easy out for a run along with Dark.  Those folks took photos, but I just wasn't thinking and missed the shot myself.  This is excellent temperament when you can have the family together like that.  It was a beautiful afternoon and what a picture of the three of them, romping across the yard. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Road Trip!

The house is quiet.  All the pups are sleeping in their crates.  They were fed, pottied and are taking a nice snooze in front of the fan.  They are getting quite good about settling down in the crates, which means I may survive this next adventure without significant hearing loss! 

Earlier in the morning we are leaving for a visit at my parents' home, about 4 1/2 hours north of here in Douglas County, Wisconsin.  Okay, maybe 5 hours if someone else is driving!  My father's twin brother died recently, as well as an aunt on my mother's side, and another aunt this past year.  None of us are getting younger and the only surviving brother and sister (my Uncle and Aunt) are coming for lunch tomorrow.  My Uncle lives in Florida and doesn't often get up to visit, as his family as had health problems, as well.  So when I learned they were gathering for lunch tomorrow I knew I had to be there.  But how?

Although the pups could have spent many hours in the paddock, I would have worried that one might somehow escape or that a big storm would blow in and no one would be here to take care of them.  I consider their care my full time job at the moment and so the only decision I could make-- and still get up there to visit--  was to pack up the Pupsters and take them along!

I figure about the time they wake up , their last meal will have worked its way through their systems and we can get them emptied out for the trip.  I'll put them in the paddock for an hour while I finish packing the van and then off we'll go!  I have the exercise pen packed to erect in the shade once we arrive and a tupperware container loaded with food, dishes, toys, collars and leashes.  Oh, and cleaning supplies....just in case.  Better to be prepared.  None of them has ever gotten carsick and if I time this right, no one will need to potty enroute, either, although I may stop *just in case* a couple hours into the trip if I find a nice wayside. The biggest challenge then is making sure that the ones waiting can keep their legs crossed until it is their turn!  But that's why I have cleaning supplies, right?  I always carry a container with water from home.  Some dogs can get a sensitive stomach from drinking strange water, which has different minerals or contents then they are familiar with.

It will be late by the time we get back, so there will not be a Pupster entry until Friday. Their big discovery of the day was an introduction to hard dog biscuits, but otherwise it was a quiet day with only one new visitor.

Wish us luck!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dark's Discovery

Although this is going to be the story of Dark's Day, I must report that today's "tracking" practice is much improved.  No scent pads, just reinforcing that they can find reward by smelling the ground.  The Pupsters seemed to be grasping the concept, as I tossed trails of meat.  We should be ready to move back to scent pads soon.

At the end of this training session, we went for a walk and the pups were exploring, so I ran back to the puppy paddock and called.  They all came running, fast as they could, except Dark.   I decided that if little Dark couldn't be bothered to want to respond to me, he needed time for reflection.  Into the house he went, and into a crate to consider his existence.  He spent some amount of time arguing about it, but it didn't take him long to discover no one was going to save him while he was screaming.  I held my hand on the crate latch, which encouraged more protest and quietly and calmly said "no" as he scratched and struggled.  When he finally stopped and sat without whining or biting/scratching I marked it with "yes" and opened the door for him.  That is an important lesson for puppies to learn; you must be calm in order for the door to open.  It is a fine balance, however; if the protest stems from a need to pee, then you don't have time to waste but you can tell one from the other based on whether the pup has just awakened from a nap.

Dark needs to learn that his little world depends on a HUMAN.  He has been much better lately about his restraint, though, through repetition.  We also did three retrieves using the rolled up sock and with some encouragement and restricting his options, he brought it back each time.  He wanted to possess it, and wasn't as pleased about releasing.  He needs food trades at this point, so that he learns that surrendering his prize is not a contest of strength and can also be rewarding, so that you end up with a calm release.

On Tuesdays I do maintenance training for several local police departments, and we were meeting at a warehouse in Appleton.  Dark rode in his crate, seat-belted in to the front seat of the van.  Once we arrived, I got him out to potty and then he went back in the crate, where he waited while the police dogs trained.  When it was his turn to come out,  the officers had treats and would ask for a "sit", so he got to practice that. 

Another thing I like to do is "puppy gymnastics" which involves luring with food and having them spin one direction, then the other.  Essentially, you lure with the food, slowly leading the head back toward the hip as the puppy bends.  It is a good flexibility exercise that you can use no matter the age, to warm up a dog before vigorous exercise, just like an athlete, stretching.  It also reinforces interaction with the human partner.

Dark practiced his on-leash walking with only a minor rodeo performance, and was rewarded for following nicely.  He also had his first lesson in laying down.  I shape the behavior before I put the command in place, and I will have to remember to use English or all the owners will have to learn German!  When I teach the commands, I tend to think in terms of the German words, which are what I use for my dogs (except one, whose commands are in French....another story) and I realized as I authored this post that I was *thinking* the command in German.   At any rate, I teach the down as a "fold back" position, and not going into the down from a sit command.  In this method, you do not end up with the slow, creeping forward sort of down position that commonly occurs when you teach it from a sit. 

For this method, you let the pup nibble the food in your hand from a standing position.  It is important that the food be something they can easily swallow without stopping to chew or the fluidity of movement will be halted.  I do not use a command until I have the behavior, because I don't want to say "down" and have the pup attach an incorrect behavior, such as still having the rump up.  Once I can cue the behavior and the pup throws itself down in anticipation of the treat, I use the command.  Additionally, the command is given BEFORE the cue with the hand.  Why?  Because if the movement comes first, the dog will disregard the command as useless information that it does not need in order to achieve reward.

Oh, I digress!  Back to the "down"; from the standing position, I first let the puppy move backward as I feed it, with thehand being about level with the head.  Too high, and it will cue the dog to sit.  I may even restrict access to the food in my hand by closing my fist around it and opening it when I have the behavior I want.  If the pup moves off the hand, I mark it and open my hand at the moment the pup takes the step backward.  The next step is simply to drop the hand to chest level and move it backward slowly, as if moving your hand between the front legs, toward the back.  Move too quickly and the dog will "smush", kindof buckle over itself or get twisted up. Move just right and the pup will fold back into a sphinx position.  Just as soon as they reach that position, mark it (yes!) and open the hand so they can eat the treats.  Dark got two nice repetitions in.  Definately not enough to know the behavior, but it's a start.

Remember that it takes many CORRECT repetitions for a dog to become fluid in a behavior.  You may see early flashes of brilliance, but do not assume that the dog knows what you are asking and then correct it when it goofs up the next time.  

Dark was being quite the little love, and very good in his crate during the evening.  I think it was a good lesson for him.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Quinn and Bart-- just because

Since I was doing some obedience work with my malinois, Quinn, and Dutch Shepherd, Bart I took a couple pictures and thought I would share them. 

Quinn's real name is Algonquin von Schoerling and he has a UKC CD and is 2xIPO3.  I plan to take him to the Regional Championships and to the Malinois Nationals this year.

This is Bart.   Bart vom Foxtal.   He has no titles yet, and his just a happy, goofy boy.  He is in training for schutzhund and also is doing well in his USAR training.  He loves searching for people on the rubble pile and barking!  He has a super temperament, too.  His momma, Roya, was bred to his daddy, Nico, for a repeat breeding due on July 25th, just about the time the Pupsters will be leaving for their new homes.  It looks to be a puppy summer for me!



Once the pups settled in last night, they were good for the night.  No more crying, and no messes.  I was up at 6 and woke them up!  Got everyone out to potty and we greeted the day.  My intention was to leave them hungry for their introduction to tracking, but I neglected to pick up the leftover kibble and so they had full little tummies by the time I took them out for tracking.  They are now eating one kibble meal and one meat meal, plus meat for training treats (which ends up being a small meal, as well).  I like to feed puppies three times a day.

I brought Doc out first, since his scent pad was not going to have bird scent on it like the others, since he is destined for Search and Rescue and his quarry will be humans. 

You can learn more about tracking in Joanne Plumb's training tape, which can be purchased through Canine Training Systems ( Welcome to Canine Training Systems®! ) "Foundations of Competitive Working Dogs Tracking."

I stepped down a square in the grass, about 1 ft x 1 ft, with the flag to the left.  No reason for that other than that is where it goes in schutzhund competition.  The flag is simply there so I can find my starting point and it helps give the dogs a visual cue when learning. 

Then I drop small balls of hamburger ( or small pieces of whatever tasty treat you are using, but it must be something they can swallow and not have to stop and chew up and not so large they make a meal on one piece), making sure to place some at the outer perimeter of the scent pad and some scattered inside, about 10-12 pieces.

My friend, Sue, held the pup on leash as I completed the scent pad.  I think let the pup smell a piece of the treat and led it to the scent pad, where I tossed the treat onto the scent pad.  Oops.  Problem here.  The pup is focused on my hand, and does not follow the treat.  He sits, knowing this is the learned response in order to get a treat.  I point to the food on the scent pad, and he figures it out but it is clear that the fullness of his tummy is causing a break in concentration.  Note to self.  Plus when he does wander off the scent pad he is more concerned with fighting the collar and leash.  Still, we do have some calm, focused moments which result in Doc finding food on the scent pad, so all is not lost.  He is praised and led away.

The concept is that the puppy will learn that "where there is human scent, there is reward."  They are allowed to move off the scent pad within a leash length, without correction, and discover that there is no reward there, and to find their way back to the scent pad. 

When it was Danica's turn, I sprinkle bird scent (the Dokken scent) on the scent pad so that she will learn (and the others) that where there is BIRD SCENT there is reward. 

Because I was seeing a combination of the pups thinking they needed to sit to get the treats, and resistance to the leash, I decided to shape this behavior off-leash and teach them to look for reward on the ground.  I laid little tracks through the grass, baited with food that they could follow and they earned their next meal, later in the day, this way. 

We also did a little retrieving using a rolled up sock with bird scent on it.  Only a couple, because you want to leave the pup wanting more (and never giving up/ quitting/seeking shade) and also because, while it is play for the pup, it is actually training and you never just throw something and turn your back.  If you throw something you immediately call the pup and encourage him to bring back the item.  If you find you have a pup who wants to play keep away, put it on a leash and never let it learn it can run away from you with a retrieve toy.  You are not correcting or even speaking gruffly at this point in learning, but calling and encouraging and gently pulling the pup in your direction as you move backwards, if necessary.  In general, you will also find that if you lean back you will encourage the puppy to come closer.  Lean forward and you create a huge space in front of you like a monster shelf, and puppies will often stay outside that zone instead of coming in close, especially if you reach foward to them.

Why Killdeer Won't Rule the World

 For those of you unfamiliar, the killdeer is an upland shorebird which is known for its "broken wing" impression, which draws intruders away from the nest. They have little stilts for legs and a distinctive cry that sounds guessed it... "kill deer."  Nests are only a slight depression in a gravel area.  Consider that both the long driveway to the house and the drive to the kennel are both gravel, which seem to have attracted the annual nesting attention of a family of killdeer.  They have 3-5 babies normally; our family has three.  When they emerge from the nest they look like cotton balls on toothpicks. Teeny balls of fluff running around, under the guidance of their mother who dilegently tries to lure vehicles, dogs and ATV's away from her youngsters.  I often see two adults, so both mom and dad must be in attendance, though I don't know if that is common or not.  Cute as they may be, their fondness for gravel does not seem to make evolutionary sense to me.  Plus, they elect NOT to run to cover when faced with a one ton predator on wheels, and instead run as fast as their little legs can carry them, straight up the gravel road. At any moment they could run to safety but they do not.  I, of course, defer and crawl along behind them rather than leave them flattened in the dirt, and I worry that one suicidal fluff will dart under my wheels.  So far they have not, and I count their little heads every day to see if they have survived.  It amazes me that they have, as we have roaming barn cats in the area and I have seen a baby run onto the county highway before being herded back my momma.  Only in a place where we have the time to wait for baby birds could they possibly exist and reproduce, which explains why you don't see killdeer in the city.  Killdeer will never rule a world in a hurry.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I can't hear you

Whether it was because it was so hot outside, and so refreshingly cool inside, the crate experiment went much more smoothly this afternoon. Or it could be because a different puppy is the singleton....Danica.  We are now at 35 minutes and she is still protesting at an ear-splitting decibel.  I'm sure the owners will be grateful for the crate training, but I might not be able to hear the Thank You!!  Danica has exhibited a vocal demand for attention (probably because she was just sooo darned cute that it worked). Hey, ya gotta go with what works for you, right?  However, we have stopped giving her attention for barking at us and she is in the "extinction burst" period.  For those who study behavior, succinctly put, that means "it will get worse before it gets better."  In other words, the dog (or human, or any other animal) will try HARDER to be successful with that which has brought success before, convinced that with just a little more energy, it will work once again.  If you make the mistake of giving in at this point, it will only mean to make a change will take longer the next time because the dog figures, if 10 minutes worked before, then surely she/he will surrender by 20 the next time!!

Shhhh....Danica is quiet!!  Either that, or I simply cannot hear any longer.

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