City Hounds

Just sniffin' around…


We have some interesting pairs in our household.

Red & Ruby

Best friends... most of the time

Ruby was adopted to be “Red’s dog.”  We wanted a playmate for Red, and she seemed to be the perfect fit.  However, as she’s gotten older, she’s developed a pretty strong personality of her own.  She can be a bit of a bully, and there are definitely days when Red wishes he was our only dog.  I would say these two are more like siblings then best friends.

Frodo & Sam

Frodo & Sam: Co-Conspirators

Frodo and Sam are from the same litter, so have never been separated.  They really are best friends.  They play together, sleep together, groom each other.  They occasionally have a little spat, but they reconcile quickly and all is well again.

Red & Steve

My two guys

Despite the fact that I’ve done most of the dog-care from the beginning (walking, feeding, etc.), Red was Steve’s dog from the start.  He loves me, without a doubt, but he idolizes Steve.

On the other hand, Ruby is my dog.  I was the one who pushed for a second dog, I picked her out and trained her (not always well…) and she’s my buddy.  Steve has had to work to bond with her, and they’ve come a long way in the past few months.  I’d love to develope her into a a dog I could take a lot of places with me.  I think the potential is there, but her confidence is still lacking.

Unusual Pairs

A truce?

Cleo is the oldest pet in the house, the one we’ve had the longest.  She undoubtedly wishes she was the only pet.  Her BFF, her brother Bast, died at age 6 from cancer.  Steve fell in love with the two little kittens in the vet’s office where Bast was treated and insisted Cleo would be lonely without companions.  I was less-than-convinced that Cleo would be happy with the new additions, but I have in.

I was right.  Five years later, Cleo still dislikes Frodo & Sam.  She also dislikes Red and Ruby.  It’s tough to say who she dislikes more.  But occasionally, in order to get some cuddle time, she calls a truce.




November 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pedigree Dogs Exposed

I read about the documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed in John Woestendiek’s recent article in Bark magazine.  The documentary was aired on BBC a couple of years ago, but you can watch it on You Tube if you don’t mind doing so in 10 minute segments.

The filmmaker spent two years making the documentary and completely blew the British public away with her investigation into pedigree dog breeding and the effects it has had on the dogs.  England’s Kennel Club president and other breeders come out looking like people who don’t really care about the health of dogs but care only about the breeding industry.  Not that it’s all about the money, but that it’s all about looks.

Three days later, I’m still thinking about the documentary.  I mean, I really think most of these breeders must love dogs – why else would they do it?  And I think they are sincere in their beliefs that they’re doing the right thing (my husband says I give people too much credit, so maybe I’m wrong here).  I just think they’re so caught up in their own little world of dog showing and breeding that they don’t realize how ridiculous they sound to the rest of the world.  And how little most people care about the things that matter so much at shows.

Most fascinating to me were the comparison photos of breeds today with how they looked just a few decades ago.  The German Shepherd, Basset Hound… you can see right in front of you what breeders have done to these dogs.   But most heartbreaking were the stories and video of what breeding practices have done to the health of some breeds.  This is not lighthearted viewing; some of the scenes are heartbreaking.

One of the reeasons this documentary is still having an impact two years after its initial airing is that the filmaker hasn’t given up her cause.  She’s still investigating and still blogging about the topic.  And still infuriating breeders across England.

Additional Bark Article

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | Leave a comment

Book Review: Brute Strength by Susan Conant

Brute Strength (A Dog Lover's Mystery, #19)

I’m a mystery lover.  I love “cozies,” those stories of amateur detectives who do something else for a living (coffee barista, herbal shop owner, vintage clothing collector…).

After we adopted Red three years ago, I scoured the library for all dog-related books.  Most of the fiction didn’t interest me too much, but the mysteries sure did.  I sat down and read nearly ALL the Dog Lover’s mysteries (fifteen or sixteen of them?) over my Christmas break that year, and I’ve finished the series and reread several since then.

So, when I discovered Susan Conant had a new book in the series out, I reserved it at the library and had it within a few days.  Holly and Steve are married now, and new malamute-loving neighbors have moved in just down the street.  But as soon as Holly begins to befriend Vanessa and her malamut Ulla, tragedy strikes when Vanessa’s soon-to-be daughter-in-law is killed in a car accident.

Holly and Steve are very upset since the young woman left on her trip from their home.  It’s speculated that the girl fell asleep at the wheel, and Holly is left to wonder if there is something they could have done to stop her from driving.  But when another neighbor dies, Holly starts receiving threatening phone calls, and Holly’s stepmother Gabrielle also nearly falls asleep at the wheel, Holly begins to think there’s something more at play.

Now, aside from the murder and mystery, there are, of course, plenty of dogs.  Holly is working with the malamute rescue to place their rescued dogs, and she’s forced to turn down several applications for unsuitable homes.  Could one of the angry applicants be behind the phone calls… maybe even the murders?

As always, the book explores several issues in dogdom: finding the right home for rescued animals, choosing the right breed for your home, positive training techniques and having fun when competing your dog.  For the first time in any of the books, Holly and Steve judge an event at a small dog show and it’s nice to see their emphasis on fun, something competitive Holly has struggled with in the past.  For someone like me who is a firm believer in rescue, it’s alway interesting to catch this glimpse into the world of purebred show dogs.  However, while I admire Conant’s effort to include breed specific rescue into the books, I can’t help but want Holly to adopt a mixed breed dog.  But then, a good old mutt would probably outshine all her purebreds at events.

A definite must-read for fans of Holly Winter.  For those of you who haven’t read the series: well, what are you waiting for?

Read another reviwe at The Bark

November 21, 2011 Posted by | Book Reviews | Leave a comment

Walking the Walk

Our dogs are pretty high energy dogs.  Red loves to laze around, but he gets restless after a bit, and he needs to get out and get moving.  Ruby doesn’t relax much.  She’d pretty much rather be doing something all the time.

So, walking is an important part of our daily ritual.  But I have to admit that I’m not always in the mood.  Now, once I make myself go, I’m always glad I did (well, except that time that it was so cold that Red turned around and dragged me back home, but otherwise…).  Still, there are times when it’s hard to get motivated.

Our morning walk

The worst times are when I’m really stressed, really busy, and/or not feeling well.  The month of October was pretty rough, with a lot of migraines & allergy trouble that resulted in little to no motivation to walk.  It was easy for me to put it off: “the weather’s so nice they can be out in the yard most of the day,” or “Ruby is going to daycare and Steve can take care of exercising Red, so it won’t matter if we walk or not.”  Yeah, good excuses.

I’ve gotten back on the ball, though, and boy, can I tell the difference.  When our walks get inconsistant, it shows in the dogs’ on-leash behavior: they put their noses to the ground and they pull.  There are so many new smells that they can’t resist.  This, of course, makes the walk a whole lot less pleasant for me.

But when we walk twice a day and reinforce good walking behavior, they’re wonderful to walk with!  I can control those noses and we have a great time.  Walking with coonhounds is pretty much ongoing training: you always have to be more interesting than the smells.  So, if I’m on the ball (like I have been lately), I don’t leave the house without liver treats in my pocket.  They’re smelly enough to (usually) redirect the noses right up to where I want them to be.

This is when walking is my favorite part of the day.  It’s a great time to stretch and get some exercise, but it’s also a great time for thinking.  My rule is no talking on the phone/checking email/texting and no music or books on tape.  Just me and the dogs.  It’s our time together, and I treasure it.  I watch our neighbor talk on the phone while she walks her dog and wonder if she realizes what she’s missing.

We even walked after last year's huge snowstorm.

November 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Path Not Taken

Some days I love what I do for a living.  Other days, I don’t.  I wonder about other options: what else could I do?  Is it time to make a change?  Could I make a change if I wanted to?

As I’ve become more interested in animals over the past few years, I’ve thought about working with animals.  This would mean a complete career change; I have no education or experience to prepare me to work with animals.  Since I’m our only finanical support, that just isn’t really practical.

The path not taken

And, really, I’m okay with that.  I feel like I make a difference in my day job, and I generally like it. Sometimes I even love it. But I still really  have to admire someone like Ashley Owen Hill at Lucky Dog Rescue.  What she’s done and continues to do is amazing.

I’ve just started reading Ashley’s blog, but I’m already inspired by her.  She’s one of those people who took the Path Not Taken.  She left the easy road and traveled in a new direction, and she’s rescuing a whole bunch of wonderful dogs along the way.

This Thanksgiving, Ashley needs help.  She donates half her kennel space to her rescue dogs, but she needs that space for paying boarders over the holidays to help pay her bills.  If you’re too far away to take in one of her dogs for the week, then consider sponsoring a dog for the week (paying for his/her kennel space) or just making a donation.

Read Ashley’s Plea for Help

Cash is short around here this month, but I’m thinking of ways to make at least a small donation.  My instinct is usually to donate to local rescues, but I’ve been volunteering my time close to home, so I’m going to send a little cash Ashley’s way.  After all, it’s not every day a super hero like her asks for help.

November 16, 2011 Posted by | Reflections, volunteering & adoption | Leave a comment

Volunteering: CISAR

I’ve never been much of a joiner.  At least not willingly.  For work, there are some things I have to “join:”  committees, book clubs, professional organizations, etc.  But in my personal life, I’m not good at committing to causes or social events.  I’m kind of a solitary person.

I do believe in service, however.  For most of my years working in a high school, I sponsored Key Club, a service group for teens, and I did my service through them: helping the kids organize projects, chaperoning their events, etc.  Since I’ve switched jobs, I haven’t been doing much service.  Personally, our cause of choice is animal rescue, and I’ve donated money when we can, but I’ haven’t really gotten involved.

I decided it was time to change that.  I thought about volunteering at the local Humane Society,where we adopted both our dogs, but something Nathan Winograd says in his book Irreconcilable Differences made me think twice.  He pointed out that shelters that euthanize animals use our money to do so.  The local Humane Society is not Animal Control, so they aren’t using our tax dollars to kill (although Animal Control is, of course), but they do euthanize, and are very cagey about what their kill policies are.  I’ve been donating to them for years because it’s so easy to do so, and I like their sponsor-a-pet program.

What an excuse, right?  So, Winograd’s common sense statement woke me up.  A few weeks ago, Steve and I drove out to CISAR, the local no-kill shelter, to check it out.  I’d heard mixed reviews (small cages, dirty, etc.), so I wanted to check it out before I decided to volunteer.  The animal facility is an old barn, with dog kennels on the first floor and cat rooms upstairs. I was pretty happy with what I saw: not too many animals, shared indoor/outdoor runs with adequate space, helpful staff.  There were a lot of volunteers out there that morning walking the dogs, and it sounds like they try to get the dogs out of the kennels every day (my biggest concern about no-kill shelters is cage craziness). They also have a low cost vet clinic on site.

I filled out an application to volunteer, and a week later went out for the first time.  They were cleaning out the dog kennels and had adequate help with that, so I helped clean the cat rooms (ironic, since my own “cat room” at home desperately needed to be cleaned – which I came home and did out of guilt).  I was there for about two hours and really enjoyed myself.  They have great cat rooms: very clean, bright colors, lots of windows (most of which look into other rooms or the hall, but still provide a sense of openess).

This guy followed me all over the room while I was cleaning.

One cat in particular followed me all over the room, even climbing up my back while I crouched down cleaning a wall.  When I took his picture, he flopped down and swatted at my phone.  He reminded me of our Frodo – super friendly and loved people.  I couldn’t find him on Petfinder, so I’m not sure what his name is, but he sure is a cutie.

CISAR is out in the country, about 20 minutes from our house.  I hope to spend more time out there in the future, but we’ll have to see how often I can make the trip as the weather gets worse.  I’ve also been looking for chances to volunteer a little closer to home with Wishbone Canine Rescue, a local no-kill animal rescue that works under Nathan Winograd’s principles.

November 15, 2011 Posted by | volunteering & adoption | Leave a comment

Book Review: Amazing Gracie by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff

I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with Three Dog Bakery before reading this book.  Now, I can’t wait to shop there!  Of course, there are none nearby – Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis are all a few hours away.  Steve and I make a couple of trips to St. Louis each year, though, so next time this will make it on our to-do list!  In the meanime, I can’t wait to order some stuff from their website.  I can’t afford it this month(4 of our 5 animals need vet visits this month!), but our pooches will be getting Christmas goodies from here this year!

This book isn’t really about the bakery, though.  Oh, it leads up to the creation of the bakery, but it’s really about Gracie, the inspiration for the bakery.  Gracie, an albino, deaf, partially blind Great Dane with a very picky appetite forced her ownder, Dan Dye, and his roommate, Mark Beckloff, to begin cooking for her.  Turning up her nose at dry or canned dog food, Gracie lost so much weight that the guys feared for her life.  So, even though he didn’t know how to cook for himself, Dye took his vet’s recommendation and begain cooking for Gracie.  And she began to eat.  And the idea for the dog bakery was (eventually) born.

Gracie did more than provide a great business plan, though.  Her special happiness and zest for life touched Dye & Beckloff, inspiring them reflect on their own lives and seek that same happiness.  Always lovers of dogs (the other two dogs in Three Dogs are Sarah and Dottie, Beckloff’s Lab & Dalmatian), Dye and Beckloff took their cue from Gracie, took the risks, and made the changes necessary to fulfill their dreams.  I found the love these two men have for their dogs to be really hearwarming, and the path it led them down to be inspring.  The book is funny and honest and sad, since the lives Great Danes like Gracie are far too short.

All the proceeds from Amazing Gracie go the Gracie Foundation, which “acts as a “red cross for dogs” in need.  The foundation works with a variety of organizations to provide immediate response and crucial supplies to pets in emergency situations.”

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Book Reviews | 1 Comment

Knowing Your Limits: Blitz

When I saw this face, I melted.

I love big dogs, and I’d love to adopt a senior dog.  Blitz seems like the perfect fit.  Unfortunately, Steve says (and in my head I know he’s right) we have reached maximum pet capacity.

So, he’s in foster care, waiting for his forever home.  But I can’t help imagining curling up on the couch with this guy this winter.

I’m sharing Blitz in honor of Mayzie’s Rescue Me Week!

November 11, 2011 Posted by | volunteering & adoption | 1 Comment

Put Some Pounds on Persia!

This little pup sure does need some help!

Persia is an 18 month old female American Pit Bull Terrier who came to Wishobone through a humane investigation. After the investigator visited her family they agreed to sign her over. As you can see she came to us in very poor shape from neglect- her problems stem from lack of food and attention. Although Persia’s body and spirit are on the mend she is going to require some time and groceries to get her feeling and looking good.

Visit Wishbone Rescue’s website for more of Persia’s story, including pictures of how she was found.  They’re too painful to post here.

We’re telling Persia’s story in honor of Mayzie’s Rescue Me Week!

November 11, 2011 Posted by | volunteering & adoption | 1 Comment

It’s all about the ears

At our house, we’re suckers for floppy dog ears.  I mean, how can you go wrong with a dog with floppy ears?

How can you resist those ears?

 We’re pretty sure it was Red’s ears that saved his life.  A HSCI worker pulled him from local animal control, and we’ve no doubt the ears inspired the act.

Red’s not going anywhere, but there are other ears out there that need a home. 

Bunny’s aren’t as long as Red’s, but they sure are cute!

Bunny is available for adoption from Wishbone Canine Rescue.  She’s a one year old female American Pit Bull Terrier with an unusual , red dilute tricolor coat, which is silky soft. Bunny is sweet with people and she is friendly and playful with other dogs.

And those ears!!!
We’re posting Bunny’s picture today in honor of Mayzie’s Rescue Me Week!


November 10, 2011 Posted by | volunteering & adoption | 1 Comment