Warm sun, cold drinks, the crack of the ball against the bat. What says summer like the game of baseball? The only way to make a day at the ballpark any better is by having your pup in the seat next to you. Across the country, baseball clubs are giving fans the opportunity to do just that by offering a special “dog day” game and inviting folks to bring their pups along for the fun.
MLB Dog Days are listed below. To find out if your area’s minor league team is hosting a dog day this season, check out the schedule posted on the team’s webpage.
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Chile adopts groundbreaking victim-support program
“We need dogs like these in Chile,” said Seattle Police Department videographer Cesar Hidalgo-Landeros. It was 2007, and Cesar and I were in the middle of editing a training video about courthouse dogs, professionally trained canines who provide crime victims with emotional support during the investigation and prosecution stages. We had just watched a film clip of a five-year-old girl telling courthouse dog Stilson how she had been sexually abused.
At the time, I had concerns about the U.S. legal system embracing the idea of dogs participating in forensic interviews and appearing in the courtroom; I couldn’t imagine Chile being receptive to the idea. The deadline for our video production loomed, so we dropped the discussion and got back to work.
Two years later, my consulting partner, Celeste Walsen, DVM, and I gave a presentation on our “Courthouse Dogs” program at an Assistance Dogs International conference. One of the first questions came from a young woman in the back of the auditorium, who wanted to know if we could come to her country to tell people about this concept. Celeste and I love to travel, so I said, “Sure,” and then thought to ask where she lived. She said she was from Santiago, Chile.
Months went by, and I was caught up in my job as a deputy prosecuting attorney. Then came the invitation. The young woman whose request we had so casually accepted, Cecilia Marré, turned out to be the director of Chile’s Corporación Bocalán Confiar, and in June 2009, she wrote with a formal appeal for assistance. I rushed into Cesar’s studio and told him about Cecilia’s invitation. I also said that this remarkable coincidence meant that he had to travel with us. To persuade him, I added that his work with the Seattle Police Department might make the idea of using dogs with victims more acceptable to the law-enforcement officers who investigate these crimes. Cesar readily agreed to accompany us, and also offered to help with translating our presentations to Chilean government officials.
To prepare, I studied up on Chile’s criminal justice system, learning that the country had only recently adopted the adversarial model long utilized in the U.S., and that Chileans are passionate about implementing trial procedures that assure justice for everyone. In the meantime, Cesar entered a three-minute YouTube video, “Dogs in the Courthouse,” in a contest sponsored by the Washington State Bar Association to find the short film that best demonstrated a Northwest perspective on “Justice for All.” Cesar said that if he won, he would donate any prize money he received to Bocalán Confiar to help them promote a courthouse dogs program. In September, just two days before our departure for Chile, Cesar learned that he had won both the judges’ and the People’s Choice awards!
After a long flight, we arrived in Santiago and were greeted by customs dogs sniffing luggage for fruits and vegetables. To our surprise, these Labradors were working off-lead, with their handlers standing by, monitoring their behavior. As the dogs went about their business, they also accepted a few pats from the passengers. What a lovely introduction to the country this was.
Cecilia picked us up, and asked if we would be interested in seeing therapy dogs from Bocalán Confiar work with a physical therapist treating a disabled child. On our way to the facility, she told us that in Chile, veterinary students sometimes become certified dog handlers and assist physical therapists. We also learned that in some countries, the term “therapy dog” has a different meaning than it does in the U.S. In South America and Europe, for example, therapy dogs are what we call professionally trained assistance dogs.
When we arrived at the clinic, we saw Alejandra Santelices and her Labrador Retriever, Peseta, in a cheerful room, working with a physical therapist and a little girl. Peseta sat patiently across a table from the child, who had a bowl of dog kibble in front of her. She painstakingly dipped a spoon into the bowl, filled it with kibble and lifted it to Peseta’s mouth. She was delighted when Peseta ate delicately from the spoon.
Our next meetings were with the family-crime investigation unit of the Policía de Investigaciones de Chile (PDI) and Servicio Nacional de Menores (SENAME) of the Ministry of Justice, a child–sexual abuse treatment organization, to discuss their interest in implementing a courthouse dogs program. Two detectives picked us up, and we had an exciting ride through an assortment of neighborhoods to their headquarters. As we were escorted into the building, we saw a formal line of police officials waiting to greet us. Cesar had told us that in Chile, people air-kiss one another on the right cheek, but it was still a surprise to be greeted by these distinguished gentlemen this way.
Once the salutations were over, we made our first presentation to a group of about 10 high-ranking police officials. With Cesar and Cecilia acting as translators, we explained how professionally trained assistance dogs could help children and their families during the investigation and prosecution of sexual-assault crimes. It was very hard to read their expressions—we couldn’t tell if they thought we were brilliant, or crazy. But when Cesar broke out Seattle Police Department sweatshirts and hats, their demeanor changed, and we knew we had at least connected on that level.
Our meeting with the SENAME staff was entirely different. Here, forensic interviewers, a family court judge and therapeutic counselors made up the audience, and within minutes, it was clear they were ready to try anything to assist children and their families through this difficult process. We were told that there is a great deal of pressure to keep intrafamily sexual abuse secret, especially if reporting it meant that the father would be removed from the home. The mothers’ intentions are good, but they can easily become frustrated with the prolonged process. Not only are they usually unable to support their families by themselves, they see that their abused children begin to feel revictimized by having to repeatedly describe what happened to them. Cases were often dismissed for these reasons and, even worse, the children were not receiving the therapeutic counseling they needed to recover from their experiences. Maybe the dogs could make a difference.
To our delight, we were invited to a second meeting with the PDI investigators, one at which the entire staff was present. This time there were smiles, and the detectives were on their knees hugging the dog Cecilia had brought with her. Apparently, they thought we were more brilliant than crazy. In a leap of faith, the police had decided to work with Bocalán Confiar assistance dogs and SENAME to make a Chilean courthouse dogs program a reality. The deal was sealed when PDI detectives gave us souvenirs from their department to bring back to the United States. The following day, Santiago television stations and newspapers covered Chile’s decision to begin a courthouse dogs program. Suddenly, the issue of child sexual abuse was big news, and this innovative approach demonstrated that the government was willing to do all it could to address the problem.
What a lesson in humility! I had thought that Chileans were unlikely to be receptive to this idea, but not only were they interested, they established and funded a national program faster than has been done in our country. Now, we are lagging behind.
Recently, Teo Mariscal asked if we would be interested in helping him establish a similar program in Colombia. “Sure,” we said. “We love to travel!” Stay tuned…
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
It depends on what you want. Suppose you have a pet dog you love to death and want to do more with. Suppose your dog has “shepherd” or “sheepdog” in his name, maybe his breed is among the AKC “Herding Group”. Or maybe your dog is a “shepherd/mix” from the shelter.
If your dog is an AKC “Herding Group” purebred, it’s easy to find training and AKC “herding” trials. ASCA (the Australian Shepherd Club of America) lets more purebreds compete but If you’ve got a crossbred – or don’t know what your dog is, The American Herding Breeds Assn is your best bet.
At any of these events, you’ll meet people as crazy about their dogs as you are. You might earn a ribbon or initials after the dog’s name – if nothing tonier than “HCT” (Herding Capability Tested). These programs aren’t difficult and you and your dog will have a ball.
In fairness, I must warn you against traditional stockdog work and trials. Learning how to handle and train a sheepdog takes years. You’ll put miles on your car and your dog. You’ll be out in the foulest weather. You’ll need to understand not only your dog – no cinch – but sheep, cattle or goats too. Do you really want to be on a first name basis with a three hundred pound Suffolk ram?
All your most shameful mental qualities: your impatience, egotism, vagueness, vanity and inattention will be painfully and publicly obvious. Your dreams, fantasies and love for your dog will count for nothing. You won’t earn titles or championships. Ribbons and prize money will be rare and humiliations commonplace.
Welcome, sucker. If you’ve got this far, you’re probably too hard-headed to accept my most important advice: IF YOU WANT TO WORK A STOCKDOG BUY A TRAINED STOCKDOG. A started sheepdog (can fetch sheep, goes left or right on command and is starting to drive) will run you two grand, a trial winner as much as fifteen, a 9 or ten year old retired trial dog mightn’t cost more than a good home for him. Since you can buy the cutest sheepdog pup for five hundred, why spend the money?
Because in the long run, the high dollar dog is cheaper. Because you need training and THE TRAINED DOG TRAINS YOU.If you ain’t got the genes, you ain’t got no thing
Any dog can be useful on livestock: I’d lay my Labrador Retriever in a gateway to block sheep. But a few breeds have this powerful genetic urge to work stock. Alas, most dogs from the “Herding Group” are bred for dog shows and aren’t much more useful than my Labrador was Your best genetic bets are Border Collies, Kelpies, English Shepherds and Australian Shepherds – in that order. Shun show dogs and be deaf to breeder guff. If you don’t like the way mama works stock, don’t buy her pup.
You’ll need a plastic stick to extend your reach, a tie chain for your dog while he’s waiting to work, a leash, a collar with your dog’s id, and a 2$ plastic whistle which you won’t be able to blow although your kid will. You won’t need treats, halters, snootloops, clickers, choke, prong or ecollars.Your Sheepdog Guru
Stockwork often seems counter-intuitive and even with a trained dog nobody learns without a mentor. If you stick with AKC, ASCA and AHBA events, mentors are plentiful. T’were it me, I’d see my mentor’s dogs work before I signed up for his/her instruction.
If you’re determined to learn traditional stockwork, usbcha.com lists every sheep and cattle trial. Thats’ where you’ll find local, traditional trainers. After your pup is six months old, enroll him in your mentor’s sheepdog handler’s clinic.A BOOMING BUZZING CONFUSION
Your mentor will escort you and Shep into a small ring containing three or four docile sheep. You’ll unclip his lead and all hell will break loose. Shep will go after the sheep, the sheep will split and bolt, the mentor will be saying something as you’re praying that Shep won’t kill some wooly creature. SHEP WON”T LISTEN!!. HE’S ON ANOTHER PLANET!!!
That’s how everybody starts learning. Fun, huh?
Because it’s beautiful and because Shep will think it’s beautiful too. From the start you’ll have glimpses; momentary communication so intense, your and your dog’s mind will be one mind. Because one day you’ll be in difficulties and your dog will rescue you. Because one day last year I sent my Luke for sheep half a mile away, across three ridges; then down a steep backslope and Luke disappeared from sight for one minute, two minutes, three . . . four . . . and reappeared – so far out there he was a dot, but exactly where he needed to be. That tiny black dot was the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Being a bit of a science and tech wonk, when I heard that the Vue personal video network had scored a Popular Science 2009 “Best of What’s New” award, I was instantly impressed and interested in trying it out for keeping track of our two new pups, Holly and Kit. We have four dogs, two older ones come to the office with us all day, but pups Holly and Kit only “work” the after-lunch shift, so we were curious to know what they did with their A.M. time. What better way to remotely check up on them than by setting up Vue’s miniature cameras in choice spots in the house—and how lucky was I to get a system from the generous folks at Vue to test out? Turns out that we have really good pups, or extra sleepy ones—because most of the time they snoozed on the couch (which they are allowed to do), with a few breaks for a round of sister-on-sister sumo wrestling, then it’s back to naptime. But knowing this relieved me of the guilt of leaving them alone for 3 hours—then its me going home for lunch, letting all dogs outside, then packing them up for the short drive back to the office.
The set up of the system was easy. Its wireless base station plugs into the wall and into a wireless router. The out-of-the-box system comes with two Vue cameras—but you also buy additional ones—they all synchronize with the Vue gateway, and are easily mounted. The sync process involves bringing each camera within 12 inches of the gateway and just pressing the sync button, piece of cake! There is no need to go into intricate network settings and mess with them. But if you have trouble with the setup you can email Vue and ask for their support. Next you then set up an account online at my.vuezone.com, and then you are ready to start to see what’s happening on the cameras from just about anywhere. You can use a free iPhone application or a web-based interface called VueZone. The user online interface and the one on iPhone are simple to navigate. Both let you look at multiple (up to 50!) cameras at once—with a range of unobstructed line-of-sight 300 feet from the base station.
Do be aware that the service is routed through the VueZone.com web site, requiring a $20 annual fee for service after the first year—including sharing and recording features—but also exposing your in-home videos to possible snooping—so puppy-cam is a good idea, anything, let’s say, of the more personal nature, you might want to switch off the cameras! The cameras themselves are battery powered and should run for one year before needing new $2 cells. The cameras also default into a sleep mode when their feeds aren’t being viewed to save battery life. The system is mostly intended for short-time, status-check kinds of monitoring. Like pups on couch, pups playing, back to couch etc. The tech savvy reviewers who look into such things as colors and exposure note that these are fine, and the resolution “is around 320x240—saved as 478x358 for recordings, with a stated 15fps rate that actually looks like roughly 4fps.”
What’s really cool is that sharing can be done by sending others an invitation to view the clips or photos, though they are embedded on Vue’s website. Either can also be uploaded to an existing Flickr or YouTube account. Look for a Holly and Kit wrestling match soon!
—Claudia Kawczynska, Editor-in-chief
Dog's Life: Humane
How close are we to achieving this "impossible dream"?
For decades, the dream of a no-kill nation was considered exactly that: a dream. Yet today, communities across the country are closing in on the promise of saving all their healthy and treatable dogs and cats. Almost all organizations in - volved in tracking shelter data, including the Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund, estimate that the number of animals killed annually in shelters has plummeted from more than 25 million in the 1970s to around four million today.The United States has never been closer to becoming a no-kill nation than it is at this moment. But will we ever get there?
At the Best Friends’ October 2009 No More Homeless Pets conference in Las Vegas, Gregory Castle spoke about “this phenomenal moment” in history. Castle is one of the co-founders of Best Friends Animal Society, a national advocacy group for ending pet homelessness, which also operates an animal sanctuary and adoption center on roughly 33,000 acres in Kanab, Utah. Castle has been involved in the animal welfare movement for more than three decades.
“In my years working in this field, I’ve seen a building momentum behind the no-kill movement,” Castle says. “Of course, we’re consumed by the tragedy of the four million animals that are still being killed each year, and that’s taking all our attention. But the reality is, progress has been very fast.”
That progress was hard to imagine 15 years ago, when Richard Avanzino, thenpresident of the San Francisco SPCA, announced that the city and county would no longer kill healthy animals in either its private or animal control shelters. Not only was it the first time a community had attempted such a thing, it was the first time anyone had suggested it was even possible.
In the years that followed, it didn’t seem that it was. The story of how Avanzino took San Francisco to the brink of becoming the world’s first no-kill community is as much a cautionary tale as a cause to rejoice. Because, while Avanzino’s “experiment in compassion” certainly saved the lives of tens of thousands of animals, it ultimately fell short of its goal. Worse, it marked the beginning of the most divisive period in the history of the animal welfare movement.
The differences were both logistical and philosophical. Defenders of traditional sheltering and animal control believed there were no alternatives to killing a certain number of the dogs and cats who came through their doors; there were too many to re-home. “We can’t adopt our way out of pet overpopulation” was their cry. If Avanzino and others in what had come to be called the “no-kill movement” claimed they could do that, it was either some kind of smoke-and-mirrors deception or San Francisco was unique, with resources and a demographic that no other community could reproduce.
No-kill advocates believed that the combination of programs developed or championed in San Francisco could be exported to all kinds of communities and would result in shelter intakes going down and adoptions going up. From their point of view, shelter directors who failed to espouse programs like trap/neuter /return of feral cats, lowcost or free spay/neuter services, and comprehensive foster home and rescue group networks were guilty of senselessly killing the very animals they were supposed to be helping.
In short, what might have been nothing more than two different sheltering models competing for market share turned into a contentious debate. Not only did ending the killing of the nation’s homeless pets seem like an impossible goal, so, too, did getting its animal welfare leaders to stop fighting about it.
In 2004, representatives of a number of animal welfare organizations, animal control agencies and shelters—including HSUS, Maddie’s Fund, the American Humane Association and the ASPCA— got together in Pacific Grove, Calif., and drafted a series of guiding principles called the Asilomar Accords. It was an attempt to find enough common ground for everyone to stand on. One of the first tasks tackled was to define the group of animals the no-kill movement wanted to see saved, those who were “healthy and treatable.”
The Asilomar Accords define “healthy animals” as those dogs and cats eight weeks or older with no medical or behavioral problems that would cause a health or safety risk or make them unsuitable for placement as a pet. “Treatable” dogs and cats were simply those who could fit the definition of a healthy animal given “medical, foster, behavioral or other care equivalent to the care typically provided to pets by reasonable and caring pet owners/guardians in the community.”
Unfortunately, the accords, drafted by committee and full of compromise on all sides, failed to heal the great divide. Nokill proponents continued to maintain that the more traditional animal control and shelter groups killed animals because they couldn’t (some said wouldn’t) do what it took to save them. In response, these groups—who felt no-kill was an admirable but unrealistic goal—said that the no-kill movement “cherry picked” adoptable animals for its own shelters, leaving the rest to be euthanized by other organizations and agencies.
A Movement Defines Itself
The gap created by these questions was filled by a new, more empirical definition that gained rapid acceptance in no-kill circles: A community needed to be saving more than 90 percent of its homeless animals to be considered no-kill.
The word “community” also became a central part of how the movement defined itself. No-kill was not about the policies and programs of an organization in isolation, but about region-wide animal control policies involving municipal facilities and animal control agencies along with private shelters and rescue groups. After all, nothing particularly earthshaking happened when the SF/SPCA gave up its animal control contract and became a no-kill shelter. There had always been no-kill shelters and rescue groups, and adding one more to the roster wasn’t game-changing.
Something entirely new happened, however, on the day the SF/SPCA reached across the street to the city’s newly constructed Animal Care and Control shelter and promised to take all the healthy animals it was currently killing, and as many of the treatable as possible. Even more revolutionary was that the SPCA then went to the county government to make it official. Known as the “Adoption Pact,” San Francisco’s community-wide collaboration between private shelters, rescue groups, animal control and local government became the model for a movement to radically reform how every city and county in the United States manages its homeless pets.
Getting It Done
Tompkins County, N.Y., was the first community in the nation to reach the goal of killing zero healthy or treatable dogs and cats in 2001, an achievement it’s sustained to the present day. In California, Berkeley Animal Care Services, the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society and Home at Last Animal Rescue joined together in the Berkeley Alliance for Homeless Animals Coalition and reached the goal of saving more than 90 percent of all healthy and treatable animals in the city of Berkeley in 2002; they, too, have been able to maintain this achievement. In 2006, the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle, Va., also saved more than 90 percent of their community’s homeless animals. The Nevada Humane Society and Washoe County Regional Animal Services are saving 90.5 percent of dogs and 88 percent of cats as of late 2009, in a region spectacularly hard-hit by the economic downturn and foreclosure crisis.
All of these communities accomplished their goals in the same way—by working the hell out of the programs that grew out of the laboratory of the SF/SPCA all those years ago.
“A growing number of cities are saving record numbers of animals,” says Nevada Humane Society director and former Best Friends COO Bonney Brown. “And there is no mystery to how you do it, either. Any organization that puts their very best effort into increasing pet adoptions, trap/neuter/return [TNR] for feral cats and other lifesaving programs is going to see a dramatic increase in the number of animals they are saving.”
Those “lifesaving programs” include accessible, low-cost or free spay/neuter services; TNR for feral cats; comprehensive foster networks to increase the community’s carrying capacity for homeless animals; and good relationships with the animal lovers in the community who might volunteer for and donate to animal shelters and rescue groups—and ultimately adopt animals.
Other lifesaving actions might incorporate strategies from the business world such as excellent customer service, convenient hours and locations, and aggressive marketing of available pets through advertising, media outreach and anything else that works to get dogs and cats out of shelters and into good homes.
Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM, and director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis, would like to see the shelter world, including its veterinarians, use more of the language and strategies of the business world. After all, she says, “If we keep animals from getting ill in a shelter, but then they die because there’s no home for them, we really haven’t succeeded.”
Hurley has taken heat for that view. “I’ve been criticized for using the language of merchandising in describing strategies for homeless animal management,” she says. “I want to be clear that I place a far higher value on homeless animals than I do on groceries, and I want us to use all the tools we have to serve them to the very best of our ability. We’ve spent a lot of energy in this society studying how to move merchandise effectively. We need to pay that kind of attention to finding options for homeless animals. Applying that intelligence and that analysis and that discipline to managing animal populations is really more compassionate than refusing to bring some rationality to it.”
Hurley’s prescription for no-kill success is a now-familiar list of programs used in San Francisco, Washoe County and elsewhere. But moving animals safely and rapidly through the shelter system isn’t her only goal. Hurley wants to see communities work toward options that keep homeless pets out of the shelter system entirely, like home-based rescue groups and foster homes. “No one could believe in no-kill more than I do,” she says. “But a very expensive and relatively unsuccessful part of this equation is putting animals in shelters and then trying to get them out healthy, sane and alive. When you’re talking about no-kill, by the time you’re deciding whether or not to kill the animal who is in your shelter, you’ve already lost nine-tenths of the battle—and it was the nine-tenths that was easiest to win.”
It’s a lesson not lost on successful nokill communities. The Nevada Humane Society operates a pet help desk that gives training and behavior advice as well as support to people struggling with foreclosure and job loss to help them keep their family pets. They even have programs that help with pet food and veterinary costs. It could be considered one of the secrets to their success, except, of course, it’s no secret; Bonney Brown brought it with her from her days at Best Friends, which still maintains a national pet help desk of its own.
Impossible or Inevitable?
“The path to no-kill is the same everywhere,” he says. “It is the programs and services born out of the vision Rich Avanzino had in San Francisco. That model has achieved no-kill in Tompkins County, in Charlottesville, in Reno, and in all parts of the country. If every community comprehensively implemented all those programs and services, we would be a no-kill nation today.”
We’re not a no-kill nation today, but there has been a shift in the conventional wisdom on the subject that’s impossible to ignore. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the nation’s largest and wealthiest animal welfare organization, the Humane Society of the United States, is adamant that the country will soon end the killing of healthy and treatable dogs and cats. In fact, he says, not only has his organization gotten on board the no-kill train, it brought friends.
“There’s been a real sea change in attitude,” he says. “It used to be very polarized, but in addition to HSUS embracing the goal of no-kill with great enthusiasm, so has the National Federation of Humane Societies, which has established a no-kill goal in their ‘2020 Vision’ program, even though they’re made up of shelters and animal control agencies that are considered more traditional. So I think that the divide is really illusory. It doesn’t exist.” During a recent San Francisco town hall meeting, Pacelle told the audience he expects the United States to reach a no-kill goal by 2015.
Kate Hurley has said, “Saving all the healthy and treatable animals in this country is absolutely inevitable,” and Pacelle, Avanzino, Winograd, Brown and Castle agree. It’s a group of people not always, or even often, in accord, and this marks a singular “kumbaya” moment for the animal welfare movement.
It’s one Avanzino welcomes. “We should all be trying to work together,” he says. “We should overcome our past differences and talk about what we can do together, not spend our resources on needless fighting. We’re here to start a new path, to accomplish what has never been achieved before.”
Dog's Life: Humane
Holistic pioneer had a passion for Turkuman Afghans
In her elder years, when Juliette de Baïracli Levy made arrangements to stay with her daughter Luz Lancha de Baïracli Levy in Switzerland, she needed to find a home for her 18-month old Turkuman sighthound, Nuh Belae Turkuman Hennah. She chose a kennel in Switzerland called Daruma’s, owned by sisters Heidi and Iren Roher.
In February 1996, Heidi says, “We received a peculiar phone call. A gentleman explained that Juliette de Baïracli Levy had chosen us to receive and keep her last Turkuman bitch. She wished to visit us immediately.”
Heidi and Iren invited Juliette and her family for tea. The weather was nasty—rain and snow as Heidi recalled—nevertheless, their four Afghans (a bitch named Binah and three males) sensed some excitement on the day of the visit. Juliette’s hound was black and tan: small, skinny, full dentition but sort of shaggy, according to Heidi. When Juliette dropped the dog’s belongings, the hound, called “Puppy,” sat on her towel, serenely awaiting her fate.
Despite the inclement weather, the dogs were let into the garden, where Binah took charge, gently showing Puppy around. The three boys took a close look, and seemed pleased with the newcomer, Heidi said. There was no doubt that Puppy would stay at Daruma’s, though she needed a proper name. In honor of Juliette, she was renamed “Julie.”
When Heidi and Iren asked for Julie’s vaccination passport, they received a lecture from Juliette on the evils of vaccinations. Juliette also shared her Natural Rearing feeding plan. However, as a member of her new family, Julie would need to follow the Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) and Swiss Kennel Club rules, as well as eat the same food as the other dogs, Heidi explained. Juliette was clearly unconvinced, but relented somewhat.
Julie quickly earned the respect of her new friends with one single dramatic act: “She bit off half the tail of a neighbor’s cat that regularly jumped into our garden, endlessly teasing the dogs,” Heidi related. “The astonished eyes of our Afghans over that tail are unforgettable; it was like shooting a goal after years of trying.”
After some challenges, Julie was registered at the Swiss Kennel Club by special presentation to before a judge. In April 1997 she received her racing license. “She was fast,” Heidi said, “37.46 seconds on 450 meters. Average Afghan time is from 39 to 43 seconds, except for the especially fast bred.” Julie twice won the Gold Rush, a difficult race on the frozen lake of St. Moritz. She was courageous, fast, and much admired and envied, according to her new owners.
Julie’s easy-going and unusual upbringing—traveling and running free with Juliette much of her life—led to some breeding license issues, which were also overcome. In accordance with Juliette’s wishes, Julie was bred to keep the Turkuman line going. The sisters chose Daruma’s A’Motec-Zuma, a seven-time champion and also a St. Moritz-winner. In June 2002, Julie became a mother of four boys and one girl, all gold with prominent jet black masks. Julie’s heritage continues through two of her sons, one of which was bred into the Ghazni Kennel in the United States.
In the spring of 2005, Julie won the Senior Best-of-Breed and later the Senior Best-in-Show in Swiss national competitions. Sadly, four months later, she fell ill with spinal cell sarcoma. Julie was treated daily with various holistic methods and medications, but on December 14, 2005, she fell into coma and died.
Although taking on the free spirit of Nuh Belae Turkuman Hennah, “Julie Turkuman,” may have been seen by some as a questionable undertaking, Heidi and Iren have only kudos for Julie and her line. “Thank you, Juliette de Baïracli Levy, for lovely Julie! And your life-wish is fulfilled: Julie and the Turkumans live on!”
Adapted from an article written by Heidi Rohrer of Daruma’s Afghans, Switzerland. Revised with permission. For information about Juliette’s Turkuman line, visit www.darumas.com or send an e-mail.
Questions that test your dog sense.
Take this 6 question quiz and see the results at the end.
Question: As dogs get older, their senses, including sight, hearing and smelling, are diminished.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs love grass—eating it, rolling on it, playing on it and, unfortunately, “fertilizing” it too
Dogs love grass—eating it, rolling on it, playing on it and, unfortunately, “fertilizing” it too. Urine can cause a nitrogen overload on most grasses, and females, because their squatting produces a steady, concentrated stream, are more likely to create the brown ring pattern on lawns, which some horticulturists call “female dog spot disease.”
So if you’re planting—or replanting—a lawn, chose your grass type with that in mind. Fescue and perennial ryegrass have been found to be the most urine tolerant, while bluegrass and bermudagrass seem to be the most sensitive.
There are also several species of taller grasses (used in meadow cultivation) which are salt tolerant and fairly urine resistant including Zoysia, Paspalum and Distichlis. A tall meadow is a natural alternative to a traditional lawn. But you could also consider another lawn substitute like white clover or O’Connor’s strawberry clover, both of which are easy to maintain. Another plus: they require less water and, being nitrogen-fixing themselves, require less (if any) fertilization.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Delightful Discovery in Doylestown
Sometimes, it’s all about perspective. The first time I visited Fonthill—once a private home and now a museum—it left me cold. Quite literally. The six-story concrete castle, which was constructed between 1908 and 1912, is not particularly inviting, and I was certain its creator and first resident, Henry Chapman Mercer, must have been a hardhearted man. On my next visit, after learning more about Mercer, I saw things differently. He may have been a bachelor and an eccentric, but he was also an avid dog lover and advocate for all creatures. The rooms were suddenly warmer.
Mercer, who came from a privileged background, was a Harvard-educated antiquarian as well as archaeologist, collector and ceramist. Fonthill was the first of three buildings he constructed in Doylestown, Pa. Inspired by the castles of Europe, Mercer incorporated characteristics of Medieval, Gothic and Byzantine architecture into his behemoth, which boasts 44 rooms, 32 stairwells, 200 windows and 18 fireplaces. Thousands of pieces of pottery, which he amassed during his worldwide travels, are incorporated into the walls and the ceilings. It is surely no accident that in Mercer’s original bedroom, the delicate blue-and-white Delft tiles all show images of domestic animals. Where there is no pottery, there are paintings or photos. I also noticed that the photos of his dogs are all large—larger, in fact, than those of his father.
Dogs played an important role in Mercer’s life. Most obvious is Rollo, whose beefy paw prints can be seen deep in the treads of the stairway in the Columbus Room that leads to the tower. I was touched by the words “Rollo’s Stairs,” spelled out in colorful ceramic letters on the stairway’s risers. Because Mercer was a private man and destroyed much of the personal information that might have given historians a window into his life, no one knows for sure if the impressions were intentional. However, Fonthill’s site manager Edward Reidell thinks they probably were; as he notes, “It would have been easy enough to take a trowel and wipe out the prints in the wet cement.” And, he points out, there are smaller paw prints in the stairs to the crypt, which was built a couple of years earlier when Rollo would have been a puppy, and in the Mercer Museum and Moravian Tileworks, Mercer’s other two concrete edifices. More compelling is the tribute he penned in his notebook after Rollo’s death in 1916: “May his footsteps outlast many generations of men on his stairways at Fonthill and the Bucks County Historical Society.”
There is no doubt that Rollo was a favorite among the long line of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers who made up Mercer’s family. There were more than a dozen of the big, reddish-brown dogs in his adult life, though because he often recycled names, it’s hard to know exactly how many. Author James Michener talked about Mercer riding his bike into town with a pair of dogs running behind him, and when Rollo became ill, Mercer lifted him into the back of the car so the dog could accompany him on daily trips to the historical society. Reidell references notes that indicate the paperboys spoke of Mercer playing with the dogs on the vast property, and his records show veterinary bills, dog licenses and tins of dog cookies, an almost revolutionary concept in the early 1900s. According to the local paper, when taxes were paid and licenses purchased anonymously for all of the town’s loose dogs, Mercer was behind the generous deed. He was also said to break up dog fights.
Historians offer two theories on Mercer’s choice of the Chessie. One is the connection to his family. According to an article in Mercer’s papers, his great-grandfather, John Francis Mercer, received one of two puppies saved when an English ship sank off the coast of Maryland in 1807. The puppies, crossbred with local Hounds and Retrievers, were the ancestors of the current Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The other theory is that these dogs were treated so harshly in the development of the breed—forced to retrieve hundreds of birds from icy waters—that they earned his sympathy.
Dogs were not the only creatures for whom he cared. In 1914, Fonthill was established as a bird sanctuary. Mercer allowed trespassing bats, spiders and other wildlife the use of his home, and he abhorred fashions that exploited birds and their feathers. Today, the 60-plus acre property, supervised by Bucks County Park System, is still a haven for deer, hawks and wild turkeys, among other wildlife. Its grassy fields, garden plantings and wooded trails are a heavenly destination for Doylestown dogs.
Mercer may have been a loner, but he wasn’t alone. Knowing what I know now, I can see the muddy paws of his dogs—of which his father was said to be quite intolerant—snaking throughout the maze of the castle. I see his hand resting on the broad head of one of his beloved Chessies as he pursues his scholarly work in the studio. I imagine him walking through the kitchen, opening a large tin on the counter and tossing a biscuit to Rollo or Larry or Jack or Sailor or Janet or Captain or Rory or Lady. And if he were gazing out the upper story window in the Columbus Room today, watching the Retriever who’s playing fetch in the park and wagging his tail madly, he would surely be smiling.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Living with blind and deaf dogs
Jordan was blind and deaf, and he was fetching (in both senses of the word)! Quality of life was not an issue for this dog, and I was thrilled about it. His guardians were following my fundamental rule for dogs with challenges: Decide that this dog is going to have a full and happy life, just as you would with any dog. With this family, I was truly preaching to the choir.
Most dogs have a cue to go fetch: the sight of you throwing the ball, or maybe the sound of you saying, “Go get it! Go get your ball!” Jordan’s cue to fetch was two strokes with a ball down the length of his body. He then moved in the general direction that he was facing and tracked a scented ball. The backyard where he played had grass surrounded by a border of bark chips, and then gravel-sized rocks around that and next to the patio and the fence. The grass and the patio were his playground, while the bark chips and rocks served as a warning track. He had a good idea where he was by what his feet were touching.
Jordan played tug, too, which was the same for him as any dog, except that he smelled the tug toy rather than seeing it, and sometimes it took him a couple of tries to grab it with his mouth. He even played with the other dogs in his household by leaping, chasing and wrestling, including using play bows. The other dogs didn’t play bow to him much, apparently having learned that Jordan didn’t respond to them. Instead, they initiated play with him by mouthing at his legs or leaping onto him—signals many dogs use. If he got carried away, the cue for him to stop playing was to touch him just above his tail and squeeze gently. His exuberance was probably a combination of youth, a naturally effervescent personality and an inability to understand the other dogs’ signals to back off.
Over the years, I have met dozens of deaf dogs, quite a few blind dogs, and three dogs who were both blind and deaf. Simple adjustments allow them to do most of what other dogs can, but for some issues, living with such dogs requires special techniques.
Clear vocal signals are even more important with blind dogs than with sighted dogs. Blind dogs can’t see any of the cues other dogs sometimes use to figure out what you want—like turning your body toward the house when you call “come” or tilting your head when you say “sit.”
Because dogs primarily use visual cues in their social interactions, protect your dog from making any “faux paws” that can lead to awkwardness or even aggression from another dog who may misinterpret your dog’s inappropriate response. Let blind dogs play with very social dogs who are nonreactive even to dogs doing odd things. Teach your dog to do a play bow on cue so she can tell the other dog she’s interested in playing. Also, teach her to back off on cue to help remove her from awkward situations gracefully. Many dogs will naturally perform these behaviors in response to other dogs’ visual cues.
Scent toys for blind dogs so that they can find them, or use toys that make noise, though they do not need to be loud. Toys that rattle, ring or squeak are often fun, but a lot depends on the individual dogs. Blind Terriers, for example, are just as apt to love squeaky toys as Terriers who can see, but there are always exceptions, and some blind dogs may be too sound-sensitive to enjoy noisy toys.
Use a flash of light as a marker when training a deaf dog, just as you would use a clicker. You can use a different light signal as a cue for the dog to give you her attention. Once you have it, you can be more specific about what you want. Obviously, using visual signals rather than vocal ones is the only way to go with a deaf dog. Many people still use the vocal cue for their own benefit, and that’s fine as long as you don’t expect the dog to respond to the cue, which she cannot perceive.
Dogs who are blind, deaf or both are more likely to be fearful because to them, the world is less predictable. Specifically, dogs without one or more senses are more likely to be surprised when approached or touched than dogs who can see and hear. Though they learn to depend on their existing senses more than other dogs, they are still surprised sometimes. These surprises can be scary, and dogs often react badly out of fear. Reacting badly can mean mild behavior such as yelping and hiding, or more troublesome reactions such as defecating or biting.
To avoid surprises and fearful reactions, use a cue meaning “I am about to touch you.” Cues can be vocal or visual depending on which sense the dog has, or two taps on the floor near the dog for those lacking both hearing and sight. If dogs are alerted that a touch is coming, they are protected from being startled. I also recommend counterconditioning dogs to being touched. Basically, teach your dog that a treat follows being touched unexpectedly. With enough repetitions of this lesson, the dog’s response to a surprise touch will be more of “Oh boy, that means I get a treat! Fun!” and less of, “Aaack! What was that? Scary!”
Lots of tactile contact can be beneficial for your relationship and for your dog’s well-being. When missing the use of one or more senses, communication can be compromised despite your best efforts to work around the issue, and that can cause stress. Physical contact such as TTouch or other forms of canine massage can help your dog feel less stressed, repair any damage to the relationship and make you feel closer to each other. (Even for dogs without these challenges, massage and touching tends to be a good thing as long as they enjoy it—there is, however, the rare dog who doesn’t.)
I urge everyone who has a dog with challenges to remember that the most important aspect of living with, loving and training these dogs is remembering that they are dogs just like any other dogs. It’s easy to remember that they are blind, deaf or both, but it’s essential, whatever abilities they may or may not possess, that we never forget their true essence. Five senses or fewer, they are dogs.
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