Saturday, November 20, 2010

This week in a life...

I'm beginning to think this is a good system for me - a "week in review" blog.  I'm just not focused enough to get on here as regularly as I probably should.  This week was a pretty great, interesting, amusing week.  Allow me to tell you all about it.

Sunday:  Packer bye week.  This means I should have been able to get lots done around the house instead of being consumed by football watching.  It didn't.  I'm over it.

Monday:  X rays!  Allele's Mom is a vet and she took Allele with her to work and got an X ray.  Can you count how many puppies she's going to have?

puppy x ray

Tuesday:  I think this was the most uneventful day of the week for us.  Based on the progesterone test, Allele's mom estimated she wouldn't have the puppies until the end of the week, but Rico's mom had a hunch they would be earlier than that and she told me to keep an ear out.

Wednesday:  Work was crazy.  I was very grateful I work overnight and don't have to worry too much about extremely heavy days.  All I can say is that based on what I have seen, the economy is on the up-swing.  It was a big day for drivers.  Maybe you've seen some UPS drivers around town who already have their "helpers" with them.  Often we don't start using helpers until Thanksgiving.  This year volume is jumping earlier and we've already been sending helpers out with drivers.

 I got a phone call from a friend asking if I would be able to help in transporting a dog.  Remember Annika?  This beautiful girl:


Turns out Annika was in heat and needed to be bred.  Her owners live approximately 3 hours south of me and were planning to leave for Mexico on Friday.  Annika needed to go to Minnesota, about 4 hours west of me.  I was planning to head about an hour south on Thursday already because that's where Lilly's foster mom lives and she had free meat for me so I agreed to pickup Annika at the halfway point.

Thursday: PUPPIES!!  There were 7 total.  The first little girl didn't make it so there are 4 boys and 2 girls.  Here they are with their mama.
Allele with newborns

Lilly and I headed down to her foster mom, Cindy's, house and picked up a big box of organ meat, some freezer burned meat she had been saving for us, and a bunch of bones.  I went to the butcher with her and he lead me to 3 big barrels of "cow scraps" that I could pick through.  Those barrels would have made my dogs eyes bug out of their heads.  Here's the bones I ended up picking out of the barrels:


As you can see Lilly already swiped hers out of the bag - Mr. Picky is still deciding.

I would have taken more, but I was concerned about how much freezer space I had. 

After visiting with Cindy for a bit we headed a little further south to pick up Annika.  In order to give Annika her space, Lilly rode shotgun with me on the way home.  She didn't mind it too much, but I was mad at myself for forgetting to grab her seatbelt.  I really need to put the doggy seatbelt harnesses in the trunk and leave them there for situations like this.

Bringing Annika into the house was nothing short of hilarious, I should have taken video.  Poor Bailey was just fascinated with what I brought him.  I swear if you put one of those collars from "Up" on him you would have heard him saying something like "OH MY GOD!  I think my mom brought me a hooker!  Seriously, somebody, tell me the truth - Am I dead?  Is this heaven?"  I had to tell him in no uncertain terms that she was NOT for his pleasure and that he had better behave himself.  Knowing he would get into trouble, he tried to avoid her, but she was having NONE of that.  Miss Annika was darn near in full standing heat, and she thought Bailey looked to be a perfectly acceptable suitor - everywhere he went she got up under his chin and flagged her tail in his face.  Finally I had to let them outside to potty separately just so they would focus on the task at hand.    

Eventually, Annika went in the crate and everybody got some nice bovine pacifiers to keep them occupied.



Friday:  After I got done with work and took a short nap, Annika and I headed off to meet her breeder about an hour and a half west of here.  While I was getting ready she was busy listening to the neighbor's annoying Chihuahua bark.  I wish I could have let her out to eat that barking rodent.


Note:  All Chihuahuas are not created equal.  An old roommate of mine had one and she was cool, the one next door is exceptionally irritating.

When I got home I had an appointment with the photographer that took pictures of Bailey and Lilly to pick out some I wanted printed.  I can say I wouldn't exactly recommend this photographer for anything particularly important, but they were cheap and I did get a couple pictures I really like.

My primary purpose for the pictures was to get "accomplishment pictures" with Lilly's rally ribbons and both of their CGC ribbons, and for that purpose I got exactly what I needed.


Lilly with me and her ribbons

bail lil cgc



This picture is an example of what I mean about the photographer.  Almost all of the pictures above are cropped by me.  This one is in the "edited" form they put up on the website for me to choose from.  Seriously?  You wouldn't choose to crop this into a landscape layout focused on the dogs instead of a huge background? 
Whatever - like I said, I went in and got what I wanted. 

As you can see, Bailey is less than impressed with this whole photo shoot business.  
It's just not his cup of tea.  I take what I can get.


This picture, while not really very well composed, is one of my favorites.  Many of our pictures were taken on a green screen so backgrounds can be added after the fact.  I put a red background that looks really cool on this one and am waiting to get it in digital format.  I think it will be good for my website, etc. 
I just love that when I look at it I think "yup, she loves me".

Friday night was "baby's first picture" day as well!!   

purple girl

green boy

yellow boy

red boy

orange boy

pink girl

I can't help but hope the Red Boy ends up being the perfect one for me, red being one of my favorite colors and all.  I can't wait till they start getting fluffy!

Saturday:  Well, the only thing anybody has accomplished around here today is a new crater Lilly's working on in the back yard.  I just LOVE that she'll have that fun game to show her new little brother or sister. *sarcasm*     Now, it's time for me to go have lunch with a friend and pretend my house is not a disaster for just a little longer.  Packers play the 'Viqueens' tomorrow in Minnesota - this should be GOOOD!   

Monday, November 15, 2010

Devil's Advocate: Rosie the Newfie

I've read posts from a number of different bloggers about Rosie the Newfoundland who was shot (4 times) and killed by police officers.  The story is a sad one, that's for sure.  You can read it here.  I thought I might give my own take on the situation given that I often have a different view on these things than the majority of "dog people".

First let me say I do not find the police department or the particular officers involved to be without fault in this case.  Their actions were foolish and terribly disappointing.  More on that later.

However, I found my first huge problem with this whole story when I read that Rosie's owners left her outside while they left the house for a few hours.  This kind of poor judgment is something that makes me ask "Are you out of your $%&#ing MIND?" on a pretty regular basis.  I can think of about 20 different ways Rosie could have died as a result of being left outside while the owners were away.  This was pure foolishness on the part of her owners, and a huge lesson to be learned for people who think this is ok - it absolutely is not.

I had a boyfriend who left his dog outside while we went to a movie.  We had "disagreements" about the dog previously and I decided to just ignore it and let him do whatever he wanted since it wasn't my dog or my problem.  I didn't even like the dog all that much, but I can tell you I was a nervous wreck during the whole movie.  I couldn't even tell you what movie we saw, only that I kept imagining all 20 ways the dog could end up dead while we were at the theater.  I don't shut my mouth about this anymore.  Fortunately, the dog was fine.

So, since Rosie wasn't poisoned by the neighbor kids, teased and hit with sticks, hung and strangled by getting her collar caught on the fence, or any other number of terrible things that can happen when her people aren't there to stop it, she just jumped the fence to go explore the world.  Despite the fact that she ran in traffic, she wasn't hit and killed by that either.  Somebody called the police and tried to help her.

First, let me be very clear about this:  MANY people are afraid of dogs.  If you are going to be a dog owner and refuse to accept this fact, you are kidding yourself and putting your dog at risk.  It is in no way unreasonable to assume that the police officers who dealt with Rosie were genuinely afraid of her.  MANY people are not only afraid of dogs, they also know almost nothing about how to deal with dogs.  Again, failure to realize this is to the detriment of the dog and his owner, nobody else.  It is NOT the responsibility of ANYBODY who does not have a dog to learn ANYTHING about dogs for the benefit of dog owners.  It is also NOT acceptable for a dog owner to expect ANYBODY to like or even tolerate their dog just because they happen to like them.  It is NOT acceptable to expect ANYBODY to assume your dog is "friendly" just because you said so.  Don't EVER forget that.  EVER.
I can absolutely 100% guarantee that if I were to bring an adult Newfie into my mother's home, she WOULD be afraid of it at first.  She has grown to know and love my dogs, but strange dogs are a whole other story and Rosie's black coat wouldn't help matters.  Large black dogs are scary to many people no matter how sweet they are, and their owners need to be aware of this. 

Here's where my huge beef with the police department comes in.

Just as Police officers don't start an IV line on an injured person at the scene of an accident, they have no business attempting to catch and restrain a dog.  Contain the dog, yes, which they did by keeping her confined in a neighbors fenced yard.  The INSTANT she was no longer a danger to other people or herself, their job was done.  There is absolutely no reason they should have been trying to catch her, they are not qualified for that kind of work any more than they are qualified to start and IV line.  That is what Animal Control is for.  Even just looking at it from the standpoint of officer safety, they were putting themselves at risk by approaching a dog they are untrained and unqualified to deal with - guns don't always stop dogs, they could have been seriously hurt themselves as a result of their foolishness.

I have been working with dogs and people for long enough to know that NOBODY can tell me Rosie was a sweet perfect wonderful dog.  If I haven't seen it with my own eyes, I don't believe it.  Ever.  I have seen dogs people call sweet and friendly - they most certainly were not.  I am also well aware of the fact that people sometimes love their dogs to the point of making them monsters.  I'd say there is a good chance Rosie was a wonderful and very frightened dog, but for people to claim she was this perfect harmless defenseless dog without ever having seen her is a joke.  Just for good measure, I'll throw in the fact that if the owners hadn't left Rosie outside alone, they would have been there to tell the officers that Rosie was a wonderful dog and call her back home where she belonged. 

Now there's the fact that Rosie was not only shot 4 times, she was tasered.  This, to me, is another indicator of incompetence on the part of the officers.  I'd love to see the place in a police officer's training where it suggest a TASER as a good option in a case like this.  If it's there, somebody better do some long hard thinking on the topic... and maybe talk to somebody who knows a little something about dogs before they recommend it any further.  Talk about a good way to get very seriously hurt.

As far as I am concerned, there is plenty of responsibility to go around here.  Even if mistakes were made, nobody deserves to lose a dog this way.  I feel terrible for Rosie's family.  I hope that this series of events will serve as a wake-up call for dog owners who think it's ok to leave their dogs outside while they are not home (particularly those who live in urban areas); and for police departments to require officers to leave the tasks they are not qualified to deal with to the people who ARE when the opportunity presents itself.  It sure would save a whole lot of people a whole lot of heart-ache.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"My fingers hurt"

Name that movie!!

I've been sewing my little fingers off since I got home from Tennessee.  I had some orders for grooming table aprons and covers from the show, and a few things that were requested before I left.  I love some of the colors people requested.

#124 Turquoise

#123 Fuschia

I also got my table apron that had been send out to be embroidered back.  The Samoyeds look great!

lil cute with our apron

Then, the other day at the craft store I found fleece fabric that was PERFECT to go with it!  


I'm having fun making cool color combinations for people and making a little extra cash while I'm at it.  If I'm lucky, I'll have lots of orders when "show season" picks up again in spring.  

While we were at the show in Tennessee, I discovered that Lilly was nowhere near as "cool" with going in a crate as I thought.  She did great in August, but that was outdoors and there were still people around.  She was pretty freaked out in the hotel room.  So, we've been working learning that crates are not scary places.  Feeding her in the crate has been the first step for this little training endeavor.   

Tonight, my Mom gave me a whole chicken for the dogs and told me they should probably eat it right away because it had been in the fridge for a few days already.  Initially, I tossed the whole thing on Bailey's mat.  He looked at me like I was crazy and walked away.  I had to get a knife and cut the legs and wings off for him.  I tossed the rest of the bird in the crate and told Lilly to "kennel up".  It's amazing how well she knows "kennel up" when there is a nearly whole chicken waiting for her in there.  I planned to keep an eye on her and take the chicken away when she had eaten about half of it, but I failed miserably.  She'll be skipping a meal tomorrow and her belly feels like she swallowed a volleyball.  



Monday, November 8, 2010

Nerdy Names

It's been a long time since I've had a puppy in my house.  The whole idea is both very scary and very exciting.

Allele is due on approximately November 22 and thus far it seems like there are at least 3 puppies.  There will be x-rays soon and that will give a more accurate count.  It sounds like I will likely get 3rd pick, which is just fine with me.  Hopefully everything goes well and Allele has an easy go of it.

If you've checked out my website, you've read my primary reason for getting into purebred dogs.  It all comes down to genetics for me.  This is why my "business" and hopefully some day my kennel name is Photo 51.  (see my website for more on that)

Allele's registered name is "Hawkwind Rocks the Gene Pool".  I love this name, and I also love the name "Allele".  It's wonderfully nerdy and genetics related.
 Allele: One member of a pair (or any of the series) of genes occupying a specific spot on a chromosome (called locus) that controls the same trait.
Allele was awarded Best in Specialty Show a few years back in Fond Du Lac

Allele's owners kennel name is Double Helix.  Oh my, my, my how the marvelous nerdy-ness just keeps on giving.  This means that (assuming everything works out) I will have a puppy with "Double Helix" in his or her name!  For a science geek like me, this is a beautiful gift.  At this point, it would be just silly to not go all-out and complete the name with something fantastically nerdy.

I am prepared to meet this challenge.

For a boy, I have chosen the namesake of none other than the Father of Genetics himself, Gregor Mendel.  Well, we'll use just the "Mendel" part... unless I'm really mad.  :)   

Bet you don't know any dogs named "Mendel" now do you?
(if you do, and the owner is single, male, and tall... we need to talk)

Portrait Gregor Johann Mendel (Father of Modern Genetics)
This is a beautiful painting of Mendel done by Michael James Maxwell.
Click on the picture to see some of his other great work.

"Mendel" would be registered as "Monk in the Garden at Photo 51"
(the "at Photo 51" refers to the fact that his is AT my "kennel", but not produced by me)
As you may recall, Gregor Mendel is well known for his genetics research using pea plants to show genetic traits pass from generation to generation in predictable ways and was indeed a monk, hence "Monk in the Garden".

And for a girl, I have chosen the namesake of a woman who gave her life to science and deserves far more credit than she'll ever get, Ms. Rosalind Franklin.  Just "Roz" for short, or maybe "Rosie"... you know - unless she eats my new cowboy boots or something.  :)

Roz would be registered as "Forgotten Lady of Photo 51"

Rosalind Franklin

You can learn more about Ms. Franklin on my website.
Gotta love a smart female scientists! 

photo 51
Franklin's Photo number 51, above, helped lead to the discovery of the helix shape of DNA

** Don't think for one second I hadn't noticed that "Franklin" would make a good boy name, I assure you it has been put in the 'ol name bank for later use.  It's right up there next to Darwin.**

So there you have it, the science nerdiest of the nerdy.  Now, all I need is a little white ball of fluff to bestow it upon.     

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A lesson in Canine Conformation and bad photographs

I've shared a number of pictures I've taken at dog shows here.  In most of them, the dog looks something like this:


Today, I shall explain WHY I'm shooting for pictures that look like this.  A picture like this is generally referred to as a "side-gait photo".  The reason I like these pictures is because it says quite a bit about the dog's structure.  Structure refers to the angles of the dog's joints and the way they all work together in movement, among other things.  You don't need to know the finer points of this (it would take hours to explain completely and probably bore you to death) but what you do need to know is that dogs who move efficiently and have proper structure use less "fuel" and hold up longer.  If a dog is constantly compensating for poor structure, sooner or later his joints will break down at the weak link.  Samoyeds are sled dogs, and having a fuel efficient sled dog when you're running them hundreds of miles (and theoretically needing to either haul or hunt for their food) is a big deal.  

Sledding, movement, and great structure are what sold me on Samoyeds.
I am, without a doubt, a movement girl.

In a side gait photo the average person can easily see a few major things.  First, you can see the basic "reach and drive" of the dog.  This very basically refers to how much ground the dog covers in the front (reach) when he stretches out his front legs and how much he extends in a push against the ground (drive) in the rear.  An important thing to remember when looking at the rear is that no drive is happening if the dog's back leg is way in the air.  You can have what looks like very flashy drive in the rear, but really all you have is back legs hanging up in the air and not doing a darn thing to move the dog.

Have another look at Annika.  See how far forward she reaches in relation to her head and how far back her rear extends.
(and that her back leg is right down on the ground rather than floating up in the air)

(Annika will be an Aunt on the Sire's side to my new puppy)

Another important thing you can see is how balanced the movement is.  A dog can way over reach and have little drive in the back to match it or he can have all kinds of drive in the rear and not enough reach in the front to combine it with.  In the case of lots of drive in back and little reach in front, the front joints will get pounded by the rear with every step the dog takes - this ultimately results in breakdown of the front end.  This matters regardless of what the dog does for a "living" and it is exactly why my Lilly won't be doing a lot of agility work - her front end can't handle jumping and landing like that and I don't want to see her hurt when she gets older.

Good structure also can be seen in what is called good "timing".  Have a look at the two feet in the middle underneath Granite here:

(Granite will be an Aunt on the Dam's side to my new puppy)

See how they come so close they darn near touch?  We certainly don't want those feet crashing into each other underneath her, but we do want them to come close together.  This "stepping into the front footprints" is not only energy efficient in snow, it's also an indicator of balanced power.  Proper angulation of joints (both front and back) is how balance and proper timing is achieved in dogs.

Here's a "textbook sketch" of great balance.


Here is a sketch of dogs with poor reach and balance.


Notice the distance left between the feet under the dogs as well as the poor reach in the dog to the left.  Often, if the angle of the joints is wrong, the dog cannot take nice big strides like you saw Annika and Granite take above.  These short strides mean that this dog will take 6 steps where Annika and Granite took 3. 
More steps = more fuel consumption and more wear on joints.

Here you see nice long strides and good balance.


Here's Rico (my puppy's sire) showing of his excellent movement regardless of the shadows that make the picture less appealing.


So... while I was in Tennessee, I would have loved to get lots of pictures of movement, but low indoor lighting and fast moving dogs is not conducive to nice pictures.  I did get some nice video, but I'll save that for another time.  (I'm impressed if you made it through this much)  I did, however, get a chance to take some pictures of Mater (my future puppy's half brother).  
Mater is a beautiful boy.



When I attempted to get some side-gait shots of him, we only had a small patch of sunlight to work with so his owner started gaiting him in the shade and ran into the sun.  Unfortunately, this confused my camera and while shooting in sport (continuous) mode it was unable to adjust to the sunlight.  I wound up with this.


Now, since the side-gait is actually pretty nice in this picture, I didn't want to just completely toss it out.  Bad exposure doesn't make his stride any less pretty.  I thought the water color editing was pretty cool.

water paint

This is an example of how good side-gait can be difficult to see if the photo is taken at a less than ideal angle.

And then there's always this problem.  It's probably the biggest reason I am grateful for DIGITAL photography where I can just pick out and delete the headless photos.  (Mater was starting to get a little sick of this game and bouncing in his steps so it's not like I cut off his head while he was doing his best work)

And sometimes you just have to give in, be happy with the beautiful pictures you DID get, and just have fun.



Friday, November 5, 2010

Things I've learned about photography

It may be cold here, but it sure is good to be home.  (though if I were to guess, I would say that Bailey would have been just fine with us staying in Tennessee longer so he could hang out with Grandma and Grandpa some more)

I stand by my assertion that I would never want to live there, but Tennessee and Kentucky sure are quite beautiful in the fall.

On my trip to Tennessee, I took both some really great pictures, and some absolutely terrible ones.  I have made myself feel better about the terrible ones by reminding myself that I bought a book called "Understanding Exposure" at Barnes and Noble before I left for Tennessee, and someday I might actually read it.  Someday.  Secondly, I rationalize them by blaming the camera, and my lack of ability to buy a better and more expensive one.  Then I remember that even if I did have the money to buy a better and more expensive camera, I wouldn't.  I would buy a K9II dog dryer or a new Blauwerk mountain scooter (for in-harness dog training).  At that point, if I need further assistance forgetting about the bad ones, I just look at this...


or this...


and definitely this...


This is Mater. (Remember Mater, from the move "Cars"?  The name fits him well.)  He is gorgeous.  He is from Allele's first litter.  Allele is the bitch I am hoping to get a puppy out of soon.  She is due on/around November 22.

Speaking of puppies, I now have a girl and a boy name picked out.  Both of them are insanely science nerdy (just the way I like it).  I've had names stolen from me before, but I have faith in you guys.  And, well, I doubt anybody would actually want to steal these names anyway.

Bonus points to anybody who can guess the CALL name that would go with these (insanely genius, if I may say so myself) registered names.

Girl:  ... Forgotten Lady of Photo 51

Boy: ... Monk in the Garden 

The breeder's kennel names will go in front, hence the "..."

Ok, back to photography.  As I said, I did manage to take some really nice pictures.


That's Gatlinburg down there, nestled in the Mountains.
Gatlinburg has a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Of course, I went there.  It's just something I have to do.
Gatlinburg also has an aquarium.  I went there as well.


So, about those things I've learned about photography.  While I might not be able to get the exposure right all the time, I have learned a lot about perspective.  Time and time again I have had people look at me funny or say something to me about how I take pictures.  Whether it be holding the camera way up above my head, or getting down on the ground, or walking around some object for a different perspective.  I find this single factor has made a HUGE impact on the quality (if you can call it that) of my photos.

That said, I don't always get it right...


Here, you see a rocky wall that has been cut out to make a roadway going up the mountains in the Great Smokies National Forest.  I knew it would be best to get down on the ground for the best perspective, but I somehow failed to notice my car's freaking TAIL LIGHT in the frame.  Now, could I crop it out?  Of course.  But, ya know, what the heck fun would that be?

Then there's the times I get it right.  Well, at least in my opinion.



The banks of this creek are wicked steep, and it was drizzling all day.  I suffered wind and rain and laying in wet grass for these pictures, but I find it to be well worth it.  I was not, however, dedicated enough to try and kill myself by climbing down the rocky embankment. 
I can't count the number of people I saw jump out of their cars and snap a picture of the creek at various spots, all of them just taking the picture where they were, right at eye level.  Like this:

 It's not terrible, but I find the one above to be much more attractive.

 At places like this, where there was a long section of parking places for people to stop and take pictures, I often walked the whole length of it to see where the best pictures could be taken.  And, if I was lucky, at some point the clouds would move just right so as to let the sun shine through and illuminate the trees in certain spots on the mountain.  I thought it was extremely cool.


It was a bit gloomy, and in some pictures that definitely shows.  I'm sure I could do some kind of editing to make this look better, but I'm just far too lazy for that.  :)


Lilly, Whitey and I walked on one of only two trails that dogs are allowed on in the WHOLE Nat'l Forest.  (did I mention I would never want to live there?)  I spotted this big rock and though the girls might behave for a picture on top of it.


It was completely impossible to get a nice profile picture of Whitey.  She's just too much in love with people to focus on anything I threw out in front of her for more than a mili-second.

Lilly, on the other hand, did great!



Now here is a case of "I have no idea how I did that, but I like it"...


I have no idea why this picture looks so different from the ones above.  None.  I don't remember changing any settings on my camera.  (which does not necessarily mean I didn't, just that I don't remember it)

This is one of those very limited cases where I wish I was better at photo editing.  Eventually I need to have somebody take that leash off Lilly.  I was simply too afraid to unclip it at the time in case a rabbit or something came darting through the woods and all hell broke lose in the National Forest. 

Later on I found another rock that I thought would make a cool picture.
Lilly did not agree.


I think all the wind rushing through the trees made a noise she wasn't very comfortable with.
 Arby's roast beef made her feel a little better, but with only one person it didn't make for much of a picture.


Well, that's about enough for now.  I'll share my worst photography offense with you next time.  :)