Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Have my Number! And the Number is US Pat. No. 7,370,608

As April's expected showers (although the sky is blue and sunny as I type but they're predicting precipitation and hey, in Cleveland, the weather forecast is likely to change every ten minutes year round) will drizzle us into more May flowers, a slim envelope arrived in the mail today. Issuing May 13, Har-Vest, after years of effort, will be assigned US Pat. No. 7,370,608.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What is a Dog Fight?

I'm not sure why, could be transition from winter to spring, but I've been getting more than the usual number of dog training calls about dog aggression -- fighting with other dogs -- those that live in a home together or dogs that get more than cranky towards other dogs they may or may not know, and/or more aggressive displays of behavior with human family members or visitors or strangers.

I usually categorize "aggression" as an over the top display of anxiety based disorders or anxiety orders run amok. And I don't really count the behavior as aggressive until the dog has punctured skin.

My belief is that if a dog better understands what it's supposed to do, it has less reason to be anxious and therefore less anxious to express behaviors that we define as inappropriate or potentially dangerous -- lip lifting, growling, snapping, biting and mauling.

My own dog pack -- 3 different sizes, ages, energy levels and temperaments -- usually live in great harmony. They sleep together, walk together, play together and vie for my attention (and of my guests) with nary a display of angst. However, about a week ago, I noticed Bean the Springer and Trip the JRT growling at each other over nothing concrete I could identify (I'm sure they had their reasons). Lily the mixed breed rescue sole female of the pack was her usual self. So I noted all of it, and figured that whatever was annoying the male dogs was going to have to get worked out.

It's not commonly done to sit around a gleaming conference table and hash this stuff out when you're a dog, so I wasn't surprised when the other night a huge fight broke out in my backyard while I was inside (certainly the fight wasn't about guarding me as a valued resource).

I could tell by the pitch the sounds were more serious than usual play, so I ran out and found the three of them -- 85 lbs., 40 and 20 lbs. -- were in a tangle screaming and thrashing and almost coiled together. I hollered and they stopped.

I brought them in and examined each (who were remarkably calm once it was over). They were all covered with incredible amounts of saliva/drool on their heads and shoulders (none are drooly dogs) and some bits of recently mowed grass mashed into the spit, but other than a small and shallow puncture wound centered on the top of Trip's head (which I washed out with hydrogen peroxide and it scabbed over nicely), none had any physical injuries.

After all dogs were declared fit and it was completely over, I explained to my 11 year old daughter who witnessed the event that sometimes siblings fight and if we can't be rational then we sometimes get physical. But that usually we make up and become or return to being friends.

Today it's drizzly and I'm too preoccupied with prepping an interior painting job so I didn't go for my usual morning walk with the gang. Now as I write, the dogs are all curled up together and there hasn't been a whiff of discontent. I only wish people could be like this!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Animal Cruelty in the Name of Art

I can't even describe how overwhelmingly sad this made me. Please view and sign the petition.

To think that some consider this a form of art is beyond sick. Please take a few minutes to protest this act and to prevent him from repeating it again!

In 2007, Guillermo Vargas Habacuc, a so called ‘artist’, took a dog from the streets, tied it up to a short rope attached to a wall in an art gallery, and let it slowly die of hunger and thirst. For various days, the author of this horrible cruelty and the visitors of the gallery were impassible spectators of the poor animal’s torture, until it slowly died after an absurd and incomprehensible agony.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rescue as Dating

I consider rescue a tithing portion of my service in the world of animal training and behavior because it's a necessary and definitely intrinsic part of that world. There are those we affectionately call Humaniacs who might get motivated for a particular breed or size or any breed/size but have prerequisites that make adopting out dogs (or any animals) in their care very darned difficult. Required home visits, exhaustive questionnaires, sometimes almost invasive involvement once an animal is placed that border on stalking but all with the best of intentions. A lot of bad things happen even with the best of intentions, but that's a discussion for another day. I don't do any of that but I do try to generate happy endings or new beginnings.

Recently I agreed to help someone find a new home for a small "designer breed" dog she had acquired as a pup for her ailing husband to be a companion for him while she was at work for long periods of time. He deteriorated, faster and more severely than she had imagined, and now she is going through the task of placing him in a nursing home (and he's not chronologically an old man, just a very ill one) which is devastating. Exacerbating that is the need to find his little companion dog a home where he can get the attention he's been used to because she's still and will be working long hours for a long time to come.

I agreed to place the pup and had a much higher than usual cost associated with the pup to defray much of her costs of late. Never mind the details. I explained in the petfinder post that this dog's cost was unusually high and if it was too much, keep looking, this was a firm thing. And so because this was a cute pup, a fluffy pup, a wee pup, a non shedding designer pup and was already out of puppy phase, neutered, up to date on all his medical needs and in great shape and ready to be a new source of joy and inspiration to whomever successfully adopted him, the inquiries were extraordinary - beseeching in tone and prolific in numbers.

Other dogs who are as equally deserving linger longer in foster care because they aren't cute enough, fluffy enough, or maybe in all honesty have some baggage which makes them a more challenging but no less rewarding potential companions in the right home which is one of my main goals -- making an appropriate match, not another bad relationship that isn't going to last.

Petfinder sends regular stats on the viewers of the various pets on the rescue site and today, before heading out for lovely fresh air, I received my current update.

Jack the Fluffy little non shedding pup had received 1181 hits in 4 days (I took him off the site to filter through the potential adopters). Contrast that with Boscoe, a bulldog mix, 78. Marlin, a cool but troubled GSD mix who's been up for a while got 70 views over the past week, and Kirra the princess in the pink in the above pic, a Rottie/Bull dog mix, got 61. Sam the lab mix (whose profile was just updated to reflect how well he's doing in foster care) only got 27.

The numbers tell me a lot. But it's not about the numbers, it's about the individuals. It's looking likely that Jack the fluffy boy will be moving to Michigan next weekend if all goes as planned. His future people are walking on air. But there are those others.....