Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Monthly Mendel: 7 Months

We actually did get the pictures on the very day Mendel turned 7 months old, but I didn't get them posted right away.  I know... you're shocked.

Let's start with my favorite

head shot 3

head shot 4

head shot 2

And now, here's my quick public service announcement:

Last month, at Mendel's first show, we were informed that we needed to do a better job of cleaning his ears.  Well, more accurately the hair around his ears, because they tend to get greasy.
This time I made sure to get some dish soap and really work on his ear hair when we were getting pretty for his monthly pictures.  At the time I thought it seemed like the soap was awfully bad at really working up a lather, but I didn't think much more of it.  I figured maybe it was just something about his coat.  Then, earlier this week I had grease on my hands form cooking and I used the same dish soap to help cut the grease and get them clean.  What I learned is that I had purchased the most ineffective dish soap on the face of the earth.  
Generally I make an effort to buy earth friendly cleaning products whenever I see them (and can afford them).  Last time I bought dish soap I got this because it's pear scented and I love fruity scents such as peach and pear.


Never again!  This stuff is crap.  It doesn't really impress me if a product is earth friendly if it doesn't work.
Don't buy it!  Even if it smells good.

head shot  

Mendel and me 7 mo

Mendel 7 mo 7

Mendel 7 mo best

Mendel 7 mo 3

Mendel 7 mo 2

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Value of a Dog

Samsung 46” LED-LCD HDTV: $2099.99*. Expected lifespan: 50,000 hours.

Canon EOS 7D 18.0 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera: $1,899.99*. Expected lifespan: 8-10 years, maybe?

Apple Mac Book Pro with Intel Core i7 processor: $1,799.99*. Expected lifespan: Many say about 4 years.

Alpine 50W x 4 iPod/Satellite Radio/HD Radio Ready In-Dash navigation CD Deck for a car: $1,149.99*. Life expectancy: 4 – 10 years, maybe?

Ford Focus compact car, bare bones with nothing added: $16,270** MSRP. Expected life span ~12 - 14 years.

Well bred, genetically clean, healthy purebred puppy from a stock of healthy parents produced by a GOOD breeder who will stand behind him for his entire life: ~ $800-$2,500. Expected life span: 8-16 years.

Think about that for a second. Among this list of things many of us buy, the only thing that will likely be around as long as our dogs will costs us over $16,000. (and I don’t know about you, but my dog brings me significantly more joy than my car ever will) So WHY is it people look at me like I’m nuts when I say $1,500 for a puppy is perfectly reasonable? Why do people think they should be able to pick up a dog that requires literally hundreds of hours of his breeder’s time for a couple hundred bucks or less? Why do SO many people fail to see the value of a healthy, well bred companion?

* prices taken from Best
** price taken from

I talk to people all the time who tell me their dog came from a GREAT breeder, but when I ask them a couple questions it becomes apparent that what they really mean is that their dog’s breeder was very friendly, easy to talk to, and more than likely MEANS well. What I find is that the buyer often knows nothing about the health of the dogs who produced the one on the end of his leash and as far as he knows, neither did his breeder. He’s likely not seen or heard from the breeder since the day he took the puppy home, and he looks at me like I’m speaking french when I ask him about OFA ratings and CERF tests.

So, I ask you: Would you buy a car without checking out the spec sheet? Would you do a little research and see if there are any known issues with the model of that year before you forked over your hard earned money? If you found out that the little motor that operates the trunk latch tends to burn out would you talk to the salesman about it? Would you tell him you want some kind of assurance that they are doing what they can to prevent the problem and to know the dealership will stand behind the car should your trunk latch stop working?

What about a computer? Or a Camera? Do you go online and check the reviews to see how the products have been performing before you buy? Do you consider the reviews the company has gotten on previous products it has manufactured? Do you choose not to buy ones that get poor feedback about their quality?

Have you done the same kind of research when you bought a dog?
The argument can be made that it’s unfair to compare a dog to a car, but is it? Which do you think is more important: that the car doesn’t have a faulty trunk latch motor or that a dog doesn’t end up with a debilitating genetic disease that can easily be screened for and prevented?

Who is this GOOD breeder that’s going to charge you $1000 for one of her puppies?

Truly good breeders screen for everything they can (which, by the way, is NOT cheap), and they don’t breed dogs who will pass on unhealthy traits. They screen with the most effective and up-to-date testing they can and they are always looking for more ways to produce healthier dogs. Many other breeders MEAN well – they take their dogs to the vet when they’re supposed to, they give them lots of love, and they often try to breed what they view as a “great temperament”. The fact is, meaning well just doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t prevent blindness, it doesn’t significantly reduce the chances of a dog developing hip or elbow dysplasia (among other things), and it doesn’t maintain the proper structure and temperament that will provide a great life for the dog.

Do you really need a show dog, though?
Many people say they don’t need a show dog, so there is no reason for them to buy a puppy from that expensive “show breeder”. This way of thinking is a failure to recognize the true purpose of dog shows. It’s also a failure to understand the goals and values of GOOD breeders who show their dogs. What these people often mean to say is that they do not require a “show prospect” puppy. Certainly, they don’t mean that they don’t require a healthy puppy simply because they don’t want to show it.  Every GOOD breeder does something – showing, hunting, herding, trialing, sledding, etc. This is not simply for bragging rights, it is for the very important purpose of selecting the best individuals among their stock to breed. When a breeder takes her dogs to a show, they will be judged based on their structure and movement – this structure isn’t written in the standard simply for fun, it has purpose. A dog with proper joint angles will excel in the work he was bred for and he will maintain healthier joints because they are functioning efficiently and without the need to compensate for weak links. It makes no difference if you’re hoping for an Iditarod racer or a couch warmer – any dog, and any dog owner, should appreciate good health.

Nearly all litters produced by show dogs will contain puppies who will be unlikely to excel in the show ring. These dogs are often sold as “pet quality”, but the genetic health screening that went into producing them is no less valid (and no less expensive). The structure of even the “pet quality” puppy produced by exceptional parents is quite often very good. As a just-a-pet owner, what more can one ask for than a puppy who is highly likely to go through life free from the genetic problems his parents were screened for?

What about rescues, you ask? Why can’t I just go buy a dog from a shelter?
Oh, you can, you absolutely can. In fact, if you find a dog that suits your life and your home perfectly, I truly hope you do. I own two rescue dogs, and while they both had some issues when I got them, I simply could not love them more. They were both purchased as full sized young adults and I knew exactly what I was getting with both of them.  The unknowns are, however, certainly something to think about when considering a rescue. For all I know, my German Shepherd’s sire was severely dysplastic and carried the gene for cataracts and heart problems. I saw no test results to say otherwise. I am taking a risk, but it is a risk I am willing to take if it means giving a loving companion a good home. $200 for a neutered and vaccinated rescue dog is a reasonable price to pay for such a dog. It is very important to recognize, though, that a $200 dog can get MUCH more expensive very quickly if he happens to have one of those preventable diseases a good breeder screens for and eliminates from her program.

What about the “Means well” breeders?
The lady down the street breeds Pugs and she only charges $7-800 while that show breeder I’ll send you to charges $1000 or more. Why should you pay more for the fancy show dogs when clearly the lady down the street is able to produce them for less?

First, they’re not the same dogs. They may be the same breed, but they’re as different as a Sauder table from Walmart and an Amish handcrafted dining set. If the lady down the street isn’t doing the appropriate health testing, the dogs she’s selling are truly no different from a rescue at the pound. Unknown health is unknown health - it doesn’t matter where you buy it. So what on earth makes the lady down the street think her dogs are worth so much? She hasn’t put the proper things into them to make them that expensive (the good breeder spent hundreds of dollars on her health tests). In fact, by charging you so much money, the lady down the street is flat out ripping you off. Would you pay $800 for a dog from the shelter? Would you pay “new”price for a refurbished computer or name brand price for knock-off products just so the person selling it can make more money? Why would you do it for a dog?

By buying a dog from the lady down the street, you’re taking a home away from one at the shelter. The good breeder is producing a completely different “product” that you can’t get at the shelter. The shelter can’t provide proof that a puppy’s parents were both OFA Excellent rated, they won’t tell you that the puppy is genetically free of this disease or that one, and they won’t necessarily take back the puppy in 5 years if you are suddenly unable to keep him. This is what a good breeder produces, and it’s the reason she charges you what she does – to cover her costs. Puppies from good breeders don’t go to shelters, their contract requires it, and if the unthinkable should happen there is a whole network of breeders who will communicate and do everything they can to make sure he makes it back to his breeder or finds a suitable loving home.

It’s all about making educated choices.
When it comes down to it, choosing to buy from a good breeder or from a rescue organization are both excellent choices. Neither choice is “better”, they are apples to oranges of equal merit in the right homes and the right situations. Hopefully, this article will help potential buyers to understand the choices available to them. When we buy a puppy from the "means well” breeder, we are telling her we support what she is doing and we think she should continue. If we take the time to understand that her actions, while meaning well, aren’t in the best interest of our dogs – we can choose to direct our support elsewhere. Instead of berating good breeders for what we perceive to be an attempt to rip us off, we can seek to understand the true value of what they produce; and if it’s right for us, show our support for them by choosing to buy their dogs.

Written by Amanda VerBruggen. 
Please feel free to share with proper citation.

Read another perspective here.
Then, PLEASE read this.  I simply couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Urban Mushing

Recently Mendel and I have been going for short runs in the cool morning.  Well, he's been running, I've been roller blading.  Since I hurt my hip flexor last month I couldn't run even if I wanted to. (Why oh why does that take SO long to heal?)  We've been going partly to wear him out so can get a full "night's" sleep, but also to start encouraging him to run in harness.  So far, he's doing wonderfully and having lots of fun.  Lilly went with us this morning and she is less enthused about it.  She thinks we go too fast because she likes to window shop for wildlife when out for a stroll.  Not only does Mendel have longer legs than she does, he moves at a trot MUCH faster than she does - it's all about those angles.  I think she has resigned from our sled team.  She prefers the mascot position. 

Here's some video from this past weekend when we took a trip over to my parents' nice quiet neighborhood for a run.

If you're interested in more info about the equipment we used, check out the post on my Photo 51 site.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pool Party!

It was HOT!  Too hot for June, that's for sure.


Bailey was doing what he does best.


... and Lilly was busy surveying for prey.



Mendel.  Well, he had never experienced such heat in all his 6 months.  He was sure to melt.
So, I did what any good Mama would do... I got the pool... and the hose.

"Oh my GOSH!  Is that water for ME?!"

"Oh, yes, Mama!  I think I'm going to like this!"

One foot...

Two feet...

Oohhh... I quite like this!

Lilly continued her very important job of surveillance


while Mendel went to work in the pool.

It's important to bite the water.  You know, show it who's boss.

Then comes the digging...

LOTS of digging!


Shake and repeat!

It's important to let the King have a turn



Then back to sun bathing for the King


Lilly, never one to abandon an important job, still on the look-out for marauding wildlife.

She didn't even stop to smell the Poppies


Mendel found other things to survey... like the food on the grill.


It was a fun day had by all!

Yeah, yeah, I know you saw this picture yesterday... but I just like it SO much!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's finally here!

Well, not really HERE, but the proof is online and that's good enough for me.

For the 2 plus long weeks I have been waiting to see Mendel's win pic, I have been convinced that it wasn't going to be very good.  I don't know why, and I wasn't really upset about it, I just didn't expect to like it very much.

See, there are just so many choices to deal with when taking a win pic.
  • Hold with the left arm or the right... or with both hands
  • Look at the dog or at the camera (this actually wasn't a question for me, I had already decided)
  • Keep your number on or leave it off
  • Put free hand behind your back or leave it loose
  • Smile or don't smile
  • Hair up or hair down... ok, not really, I don't give a crap about hair.  :)
In the end, I figured I'd just try out what I have seen with a number of other win photos I liked.  I always prefer pictures with the handler looking at the dog and smiling, after all, the dog is the one who did the winning.  :) 
Lucky for me my super cool friend (and co-breeder of Mendel), Drea, was there to stack Mendel perfectly for me.  I wasn't afraid to do it, but if I have the pro do it then I can't be held responsible if the win pic from the first point in the litter was of a bad stack. 

Uh huh, that's right, see how I did that - CYA - it's the name of the game, baby!

So, without further explination and babbling, here is my most wonderful little sweet pea in his very first (and my very first) win photo at only 6 months and 4 days...

Mendel, Winners Dog, Oshkosh, May 2011

And once again, I would like to extend a huge Thank You to Diane Anderson for this most special win.  Not only did she give us a point and some pretty ribbons, she told me she just loves my boy. 
She's one smart lady, if you ask me.  ;o)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not a Fan of 8am

I work nights.  Usually I don't get home from work until about 4 or 5 in the morning.  I try to stay up late on the weekends in order to keep some semblance of a schedule going.  Usually I only make it until around 2 or 3.

Yesterday it was ungodly hot out and the dogs barely left the house for more than a quick trip to the yard to go potty.  Then, last night we went to bed at around 1am.  This all lead to a house full of wired dogs by 7 this morning and they weren't taking "go back to bed" for an answer.  Since I refuse to go to the dog park on the weekends after 9am (because there are simply too many dogs and too few dogs under control) I decided it seemed like a reasonable plan to head to the park.

It was positively gorgeous!  It was still around 65 degrees at that time, and the nice wooded park was even cooler.  Mendel and Lilly ran their little tails off.  I can't believe I forgot to bring my camera... but I was still half asleep.

When we got home we went out in the back yard for a little bit and I realized the rising sun was shining on the dogs beautifully.


So I ran in the house and grabbed the camera.
I'd been wanting to get a picture of the 3 of them together for a while, now.  


Oh, dear, Mendel.




I had to return Mendel to his spot a couple times, but overall I was very impressed with how well they all did.


It was a little tricky because with the trees behind us it was easy for one of them to get in a shadow.


And here's my favorite:

It's just such a perfect representation of the three of them.  Mendel and Lilly just smiling away while Bailey casts his inconvenienced glare just to make sure everybody knows just who the boss is around here.

These pictures were posed.  I asked them to sit and lay down and they did it without too much trouble.  But, just to prove that they do in fact like each other enough to share the same relative space on their own volition, here is a picture I took the other day when I was cooking myself something for lunch and turned around to click "I'm still listening" on my pandora player.  
My camera makes a noise when it turns on so Mendel and Lilly looked... I'm sure Bailey didn't even hear it.