Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not Getting Bitten

I recently read an inquiry from someone wondering what a person could do to avoid getting bitten by a dog.

Aside from the most obvious answer - avoid dogs - there are some straightforward ways a person can not do all the typical things that tend to lead to a dog bite.

Most people are bitten not by stray/strange dogs, or even mean/aggressive dogs. Most people are bitten by anxious or fearful dogs who feel threatened or cornered by something a person has done. For people who do not have a well developed sense of reading dog body-language, there are some basic tips for not placing one's self in a biting situation.

1) Don't charge up to, or rapidly approach, or pick up, or even directly approach a dog that isn't yours. In fact, the safest way to encounter a new dog is to let the dog approach you and take it's time sniffing around and sizing you up without you appearing to pay attention at all. Be mindful of the dog but be neutral and keep your hands to yourself and don't stare at the dog.

In fact, even when re-entering your own home it is a good idea to not make a big fuss over your own dog - not because you might get bitten but because this sends the wrong message to your dog; you are emphasizing that you've been apart - in other words you're emphasizing that separation is a bad or anxiety producing thing.  This can start to develop or reinforce a dog's anxiety over separation by making it a big deal that you were gone and are back. Low key entry and exits go a long way towards keeping emotions from running amok.

2) Similar to 1 - don't make a lot of noise like "Hey DOGGIE DOGGIE, come here doggie, come-here-come-here-come-here!" The last thing a dog that isn't certain of itself or you needs is for you to ramp up their sense of 'something weird is about to happen' by you creating a lot of noise and/or motion. Play it cool. Let the dog approach and don't whistle, call etc. Some dogs just aren't that in to you. Learn to live with that reality.

3) Remember, under the wrong circumstances any dog can bite. Even if they wag a tail and have an owner who assures you, "Oh, he's fine, he growls at everyone."

[This might be true - my own dear Gracie has a tendency to have a special growly-bark she uses when she's happy - but a stranger should never count on being able to tell the difference between her happy growl and her worried growl and if you were in my house I'd encourage you to use your own best judgement even if I were saying, "She loves hugs." People using common sense around strange dogs are less likely to get bitten.]

You don't need to be afraid of dogs - you do need to realize that if you do not have personal experience with a dog you also do not know what might trigger a specific dog into biting. Following the above few simple guidelines can keep you out of harm's way. It should also be mentioned - do not take a dog's food or items, or stand over a dog while it is eating or playing with a prized item if you do not know the dog, or if you know that the dog typically 'guards' valued items. If you own a dog with this behavior and you want to alter the behavior, you may also want to work with a trainer (because unless you've adopted the dog with this behavior you have also helped create the behavior in the first place.)

When one has time to learn about dog body language then one will realize that there are very few dogs who bite without ample warning and provocation. If people remembered to not treat every dog as a friendly dog who wants to be fussed over and grabbed by strangers, then there would be a lot fewer dog bites in the world.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kerry Blue Terrier

Developed as an all purpose breed in Ireland, the Kerry is an energetic and robust terrier. Admittedly, saying a terrier is energetic and robust is redundant, however, the Kerry is active even by terrier standards.

Like most terriers, a Kerry can be counted on for vermin patrol. Additionally, they have been used as farm dogs, as hunters and retrievers -- this is a truly multi purpose breed that was up to filling multiple needs for their people.

The refined look that comes from grooming, however, was not an early trademark of the breed. The Kerry was a rougher looking dog before they became popular off the farm and out of the highlands of County Kerry. Once they attracted the attention of English fanciers and were cleaned up though, their popularity quickly spread to bench shows.

The Kerry continues to be a breed that is at home in the show ring, family room, and in vermin competitions.

This is a breed that needs an even hand, exercise, training, and has a sense of fairness and fun. Best introduced to smaller animals/cats at a young age, their strong sense of prey drive means they may not do well with cats or bunnies should they only meet them later in life. Many terriers automatically chase that which moves quickly and Kerrys are no exception to this rule.

A Kerry pup is born black and with time and grooming their coat will lighten to the characteristic "blue". Grooming is also necessary to keep a Kerry looking like a Kerry and not a pile of animated hair - or a different kind of dog.

Sometimes people are attracted by the handsome looks and cheerful personality without realizing the bundle of energy and grooming requirements it takes to keep a Kerry healthy and looking like a typical member of the breed.

As a result of people sometimes obtaining a Kerry without realizing what they're actually signing on for, members of the breed require new homes and can be found through rescue. Retired show dogs also may be looking for a home once their career in the show ring is over.

This is a devoted, multi purpose, clever breed that can turn their paws and noses to many kinds of work. As a very low-shed breed they also are on the list of possible breeds for those with allergies. This is yet another breed on my list of maybe someday dogs. Handsome, fun, and just-independent-enough to make things interesting.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Does anyone else see the trend?

We think we're noticing something that is becoming too common to be a mere coincidence.

We will share some pictures here to see if anyone else notices it.

Blonde dogs in front of pastel backgrounds might be your first guess. 

You're sort of on the right track.

Look a little more closely though.

We can't help but think there's more going on here then the standard dog portrait....

Is anyone else starting to feel there's a larger theme here?

Far be it from us to sound an alarm when it isn't necessary.

But by now we think we've provided enough photographic proof to substantiate our claim.

Big white Easter Bunnies are using their fairly generic appearance as a cover to befriend, then dog-nap, hapless dogs.

Evidence suggests there is an extended  ring of them and we fear their operation has spread internationally.

The next time a big bunny starts to sidle up to your pooch - they may not have the innocent intentions that you'd expect from an Easter Rabbit.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Kindle Countdown Deal Dog Handbook/English Bull Terrier Info

Limited time Kindle sale

If you're on a budget and would like to check out our book, it is currently on a Kindle countdown sale.
(Don't know if this works outside the U.S.? Sorry if not.)

This book contains both stories about living with an English Bull Terrier as part of a family/dog pack (there is a Labrador and Collie who try and co-habitat in the same home as Gracie and I) and tips for traveling safely with a dog; kenneling/boarding dogs; and making estate plans that include your pets.
All with some humor whenever possible. If we don't laugh at ourselves, then it isn't fair to laugh at anyone else.

Customer service representatives are sitting by ready to take your orders.

Or chew up your paperwork - it just depends on the kind of day they're having.

In completely unrelated news - spring.
Photo by Laura Bulleit
My co-worker took  this picture today out her office window - yes today is March 28.
This is spring on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan - we are surrounded by Lake Superior and you can so often tell. Of course, two years ago we had grass and warm weather at this same time. You just never know.

Hope the rest of you are having an equally sunny but less snowy day!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cross-Breeding: Labrador + Poodle = Labradoodle



Although this cross-breeding has been taking place for some
time, the intentional breeding of Labradors and Poodles has become increasing popular.

Sometimes bred to try and achieve a lower shedding service dog the Labradoodle is also an increasingly popular mix for a family companion.

The goal with a Labradoodle is to achieve an intelligent, trainable dog that is steady natured while shedding less than the Labrador does. If you've ever lived with a Lab then you might understand the desire to have many of their good personality traits without the regular loss of hair in your home.

The main concern I have with the current Labradoodle mania is that the puppies are being sold for increasingly unreasonable prices ($1500 - $2500) while the incident of health concerns are also on the rise.  These are cute pups but they are not necessarily being produced for good reasons by reputable people. Some are, but many are not.

The same is true for any dog that can be bred and sold for a tidy sum of cash - people will be attracted to producing the dogs for money, including those who run puppy-mills.

If a person is determined to buy a Labradoodle  - just as in buying any dog - do research. I would suggest looking for a breeder who has actively working dogs (obedience, service, agility or similar); the breeder should have done health testing on any adults they're breeding - particularly hip, joint, and eye certification; they should offer at least a two year health guarantee on their pups against genetic defects.

The other thing to remember is that dogs shed. Some are very low shedding (like the Poodle and some Labradoodles). But just as people shed varying amounts of hair - all dogs loose some hair. If low-shedding is important to you in a canine companion then make sure the person you buy a Labradoodle from can tell you if the pup you're buying has inherited the lower shedding or higher shedding coat found among Labradoodles.

The breeder should also be able to supply testimonial from a number of satisfied customers and contact information so you can talk to several buyers yourself.  Do so. Find out if the breeder was accurate in telling other buyers how much their dog would shed. Ask if the buyer has encountered any health problems with their dog.

People who are allergic to dogs (which can be an allergy to dander, fur, or saliva) may still react to some or all Labradoodles. Spend time inside with the breed to see if you react to members of the breed, particularly the individual dog you intend to buy, if allergies are a concern.

 Labradoodles can have a fun, playful, and trainable nature. Unfortunately, they can also inherit health concerns from both sides of their heritage. Eye problems in particular are becoming common enough that those who are trying to responsibly breed Labradoodles are starting to participate in research of their own bloodlines. There are also Labradoodles in shelters and rescue groups in increasing numbers; if you want a Labradoodle consider starting your search with your local shelters.


Ironically after I had written this post and was looking for one last Labradoodle picture, I came upon a recent interview with the man credited with starting the Labradoodle craze - Wally Conron - retired from the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia. I've read Conron interviews in the past and this is the first time I've found him sounding so unhappy with the outcome of his work:
Breeding blunder: Labradoodle creator laments designer dog craze.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ibizan Hound

I was thinking about dogs with Spanish roots the other night and thought - we need a post about the Ibizan Hound. Ibiza ( in Catalan - Eivissa) is a Spanish island, about 49 miles off the Spanish coast.

Ibizan hounds are athletic, intelligent, and what I'd call "hound-trainable", i.e. they have strong instinct but also have been bred to be biddable. In other words, don't leave them off-lead in an unsecured area because they aren't going to come back when you call them after they start to give chase. On the other hand, they're entirely willing to consider your opinion when it comes to training around the house.

This is also a breed that is very able to jump a typical fence, or work a simple latch on a gate. The ideal home for an Ibizan keeps them busy; they don't do well left alone for long periods of time or if not exercised.

If on the other hand, one is looking for an athletic partner with a sense of humor than this may be your dog.

This is also a great breed for those who enjoy lure coursing or who just enjoy watching an agile dog that can move with grace and speed. Typically they are good with children - well behaved children because this breed can also be sensitive. And stubborn. Remember, hounds have to be capable of working out front of people and making independent choices.

This was also a breed used often by farmers who would have an Ibizan that they used to hunt hares. While this indicates that the Ibizan will have prey drive for small, fast moving animals, it also indicates that overall they are compatible with other animals in the home. Ibizan tend to do well with other dogs.

They also have a reputation in North America at least, for considering themselves a person on four legs. As someone who is rather fond of dogs with a sense of self, I find this reputation attractive :-)

The Ibizan comes in 2 or 3 coat types depending on how one counts: there is a short coat, a wire coat, and either a straighter haired wire coat or a long coat.

This week we're joining the Barks and Bytes blog hop hosted by Two Brown Dogs and Heart Like a Dog - this is a very eclectic blog hop that any and all bloggers are welcome to join - which is why we like it :-)

2 Brown Dawgs

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sighthound: Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound)

I'm guessing that at least a few readers who stop by here walk around, like I do, with a list of dogs in mind that they would happily live with. High up on my list would be the Borzoi.

A tall, elegant looking breed, the Borzoi has a quiet nature that is far less demanding than the average terrier. Sensitive and intelligent, these big dogs are very capable of quietly watching the world as long as they are given several good walks or runs a day.

 As with all sighthounds, Borzoi were originally breed to hunt game and run it to ground. As a result, this is a breed that does enjoy an opportunity to stretch their legs.

 At the same time, once they've had their exercise they settle down very nicely. As a sighthound though, be aware that when out - which should always be on-lead or in a fenced in area - they are prone to chasing quick movements. A dog that might be fine with the family cat inside, might respond differently if the cat were to run across the yard outside.

They can also be a bit independent - again a natural trait of a breed that was designed to work out in front, and well ahead of people; they couldn't be successful if they waited for a person to tell them what to do.

 A combination of strong instinct and an ability to think and react fast remain part of the breed. Some individuals are also rather comical, another trait we're rather fond of here at saved by dogs.

Overall, this is a gentle breed who despite their size do not make the best watch dogs - if that is, you expect a watch dog to bark. If you want a dog that is likely to just watch, however, then this is an ideal breed!

They're very observant without being terribly judgmental. They won't necessarily object to people wandering in and out of the house; which is good if you have a number of welcome visitors. If you want a dog to raise an alarm, however, you're better off doing what nobility often did and keeping some back-up terriers, who are always more than willing to bark.

They've also become rather accustomed to creature comforts.

If you want to live with dogs who have spent generations with royalty, then you need to be prepared to meet some of their simple needs - a chair or couch with a view being chief among these. They are after all sighthounds, and want to be able to see what is happening.