City Hounds

Just sniffin' around…

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

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November 22, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | 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

Rule of 3

Neo-pagans believe that what they put out into the world will come back to them times three.  So, send out good energy and three times the good will come back to you.  Do an evil deed and three times the evil will hunt you down and find you.  It’s a little like karma, but with slightly different concepts of good & evil.

Three is also a “magical” number in many other systems of belief: good things come in threes, the Trinity, etc.  According to In Black and White (and I think Nathan Winograd says the same), if we increase pet adoptions by 3%, we could halt the euthanasia of healthy pets.  So, In Black and White created her own set of goals (in threes, of course) to contribute to making that change.  She has inspired me to do the same.

My Rule of 3 Goals:

1. Find at least three sponsors for the Wish Bone Canine Rescue Calendar Project (I’d love to raise at least $300 , but since this is my first time soliciting donations, I’m worried that’s too much to hope for. )

2. Work at least 3 adoption events for Wish Bone before the end of the year.

3.  Donate at least $30 in cash or goods to Wish Bone or CISAR before the end of the year.

My goals are modest to start, since I’m just getting started volunteering.  I’ve also set a deadline, so I have about 6 weeks to complete them.  After the first of the year, I’ll set new Rule of 3 Goals for 2012, and hopefully they’ll be a bit more ambitious.

November 10, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | Leave a comment

The Beginning

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t like dogs when I was a kid.

Maybe more accurately, I didn’t know dogs.  My parents got a puppy when I was 2 or 3 years old,.  He was a cute little black Cocker Spaniel named they Buddy.  He didn’t last long.  He couldn’t be trained to stay in the yard, and we didn’t have a fence.  Mom and Dad hated to chain him up – they both grew up on farms and didn’t like to see dogs on chains.  Still, to keep him safe, he had to be chained.  But Buddy wouldn’t stay chained.  He figured out how to get loose, and Mom had to search the neighborhood for him a couple of times.  Mom was frustrated, and there was no way to keep him safe (they didn’t want to put up a fence), so Buddy was rehomed.

Next, I got a cat.  I had her for years, and she looked a lot like Frodo.  Definately NOT the same personality, though!  She wasn’t a friendly cat, although she did occasionally let me tuck her into my doll buggy and rock her to sleep.  My mom was adamant that she not sleep on my bed or get on the furniture – and she didn’t (sometimes I’d love to know how they trained her not to get on the furniture, because I can’t train my cats to do anything…).  She was put downstairs every night when Mom & Dad went to bed, and she was an indoor/outdoor cat.  I loved her, but we never really had the chance to bond.  She lived to an old age, though, and died while I was in college.

When I was about 7 or 8, I went to stay at a friend’s house for New Year’s Eve.  They had two collies.  I’d been there before; even spent the night before.  But after a few hours, one of my eyes began itch, then to swell shut.  My mother had to take me to the emergency room, where they surmised that I probably had a dog hair in my eye, and I was probably allergic to dogs. Sure enough, allergy tests revealed a BAD dog allergy.  Since hardly anyone in my family had dogs, and the few that did had poodle mixes, we’d never realized it.

From then on I avoided dogs because being around them made me really miserable.  But, as I got older, my reaction lessened and become manageable.  I still sometimes react to new dogs or to a lot of dogs at once, but it’s not the problem it used to be.  Thank goodness, because when I was about 20, THE dog came into my life.

I attended college about 250 miles from home.  My college was actually near the area where my parents grew up, so they purchased a house in their hometown, knowing they would eventually retire there.  It gave us a place to meet on the weekends and spend time together.

One night we heard a noise on the front porch, and found a tiny, furry black puppy playing with an empty Diet Coke can. We couldn’t find an owner; neighbors claimed they had seen the pup hanging out with an older stray.  He couldn’t have been hanging out for long, though, since he was only about 7 weeks old.  Unable to find his home & unwilling to take him to a shelter, we named him Happy (because he so obviously was) and I took him back to school with me.

From then on, we joked that Mom and Dad & I had shared custody of Hap.  Sometimes he stayed with me, sometimes with them.  When Mom and Dad retired and did, indeed move back to their hometown, Hap began spending most of his time with them.  Steve and I were married by then and both working full time, and it was impossible for us to get home during the day.  Since Mom and Dad were home all day, it seemed logical that Happy should stay with them.  They claimed not to be dog people (and really aren’t), but Happy won their hearts and they really adored him.  My extended family (also, mostly not dog/pet people) loved him, too.  Happy was invited to all family events, even if other dogs were not.  He was friendly, patient, good with kids, and a wonderful house guest.  He didn’t get on the furniture, bark, or dig in the yard.  In fact, he didn’t leave the yard – Mom and Dad didn’t have a fence in the new house, either, but it wasn’t a problem with Happy.  He didn’t even need a leash to be walked.

Happy was a dog of our hearts, that once-in-a-lifetime pooch for my parents.

Of course, Happy got old.  He slowed down and finally, he got sick.  His energy level dropped alarmingly low, and he began limping badly.  The vet found cancer, and also discovered a dislocated hip, probably done when Hap jumped in or out of the car.  One or the other might have been treatable, but he was both sick and in pain, and treating both at the same time was impossible.  The vet sent test results to the Univerisity of Illinos Vet School to be reviewed, and they advised the same.  It was time to let Happy go.

I was devastated, but that was nothing compared to my parents.  It was as if they’d lost a child, and both swore they’d have no more dogs.  I think my dad was embarassed by how attached he was to Happy, and swore he’d go through that loss again.

For me, Happy opened the door to the wonderful world of dogs.  When Steve and I finally had a house, yard and jobs that made it possible for us to have a dog, we adopted Red.  That was just weeks before we lost Happy.  Red and Happy didn’t get to meet, but I like to think they would have been buddies.  Just a few months ago I had a dream that Happy came back, and he was showing Red and Ruby a thing or two about being great dogs.  They’re both pretty awesome already, but Happy’s paws are pretty hard to fill.

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | Leave a comment

Fresh Start

Red and Ruby on a walk in the park.

I’m working hard toward a fresh start, and I’m hoping I can hold myself accountable for making the changes I need by writing it all down.  I’ve been doing it in an old fashioned journal, but I can’t add pictures there.  Also, I’ve always wanted to keep a blog.  I’ve started several, for several different reasons, and never stuck with it.

My dogs are a huge part of my “reboot,” and that’s where the name of the blog comes from.  We live in a very small Midwest city, in our own house and small yard, with two energetic coonhounds.  They need exercise, and they need to get out a do things, and so do I.  When I don’t do these things, we all suffer.  This became really evident this past summer when I was very stressed out, tired, and feeling terrible – depressed, suffering from migraines andn stomach problems, and overall just really unhappy.  Our dog Ruby seemed to becomea reflection of my problems, and she expressed her unhappiness by attacking our other dog, Red.  In the interest of keeping both dogs, I realized I had to do better at providing her with what she needs.

At the same time, I began a program for emerging leaders at work (work is successful, even if my personal life isn’t!).  In a seminar on emotional intelligence, I realized just why work is sucessful and home isn’t: I practice all my emotional intelligence skills at work and none at home.  I don’t have a life outside of work.  I don’t mean that I work all the time, but that I don’t really DO anything when I’m not at work.  And when the presenter asked us to rank series of emotionally intelligent traits, happiness fell very close to the bottom. Alarmingly so.

Life’s to short to be miserable, for me and our dogs.  So, it’s time to get out, get moving and get a life!

Ruby, my inspiration

November 1, 2011 Posted by | Reflections | Leave a comment