Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Walking Sight Hounds

Most Tuesday mornings, my friend, Marilyn, and I walk our hounds in a park not far from my house. I say "hounds" rather than "Greyhounds", because two of our dogs are of mixed heritage. Franklin, Marilyn's big male, has some indeterminate breed in his background. But he "thinks" he's a Greyhound and is a star of Show and Tells. My female, Magic, is all Sight Hound, but a blend of Greyhound and Scottish Deerhound. She looks a little like a "Wirehaired Greyhound", or as Greyhound Adoption Center says, she's a "Fuzzy".

The last two weeks' walks have offered the added interest and challenge of a Mallard couple who have found that grub hunting on the spacious lawns of the park is the way they want to spend their mornings. Sight Hounds aren't particularly "birdy", but they are wired to chase anything that moves. So our walks have involved turning all five dogs before they fix their attentions on the Mallards and become a pursuing pack.

Yesterday, as we were executing one of these avoidance maneuvers, an old Nemesis appeared to our left.

For months last year, we did battle with a man who brought his herding dog to the park and ran it off leash, causing our dogs to do everything in their power to pull free so that they could show that clunky herder what real running was all about.

Multiple phone calls to The Authorities, and a few face to face confrontations in front of the official sign that notifies dog walkers of the leash law in San Marcos finally convinced the herding dog's owner to leash him--on a retractable leash that technically still violated the law. But even this inadequate restraint gave Marilyn and me a chance to turn our dogs and avoid a serious incident.

Until yesterday, when the herding dog was off leash--and relatively close to our dogs. It was a formula for disaster. But miracle of miracles, the herding dog saw the Mallards before our dogs saw him. I had the distinctly mean-spirited pleasure of watching the herding dog's owner, "Mr. My Highly Trained Good Citizen Canine Always Obeys Me," running to catch up with his dog who was in hot pursuit of the Mallards.

I am still amazed that Bingley, who had been "on point" and trembling with the urge to run all morning, somehow failed to notice what was going on--just yards behind him. But sometimes, sight hounds' hard wiring works to my advantage. With Bingley it is really almost always the rule, "Out of sight, out of mind." He had found something else on which to focus. Who knows what? Perhaps a branch on a distant tree blowing in the wind. Or a plastic bag, floating far out of my range of vision. All I can say is, for once, he was not in the middle of the drama. What a relief!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tough Times for People. VERY Tough Times for Dogs.

After having received some encouraging inquiries, we still have not found a forever home for Brody the Peke. In my networking about Brody, I have discovered that his story is not unique. Pekes are going through very difficult times: many are being surrendered for rescue; few are finding forever homes.

Another rescue that is close to my heart has had 5 dogs returned from "forever" homes. At least 3 of these returns are because of the financial situations of their people.

Having the company of a dog in one's home isn't a free proposition. There is dog food to buy. Inoculations and licensing to pay for. Accidents happen. Illnesses, both acute and chronic affect dogs just as they do humans. And many dogs--Pekes, for example--require grooming.

Some expenses are fixed, but, there are cost cuts that do not compromise the health and well-being of the dog. Ideally, Pekes do best with frequent professional grooming. But an amateur scissor cut given by a loving owner is not going to harm the dog in any way.

When John and I faced the bleakest financial period of our lives, we were sharing our home with two Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers--the unforgettable Champers and Britches. Paying routine vet bills was a challenge, and sometimes meant sacrifice in other areas. But the joy and companionship they gave us during those difficult times was beyond price.

Champers and Britches were too large to be bathed in the bathtub, and while Wheatens will survive an amateur's scissor cut, their coats must be kept clean. The answer for us was a self service pet wash, A Master's Touch in Escondido. If you live in North San Diego County, I highly recommend them. If you wish professional grooming, Charlie is available by appointment. But if you just need to bathe your dog, there are professionally sized and equipped tubs, shampoo, conditioners, flea products and towels--all available for a fraction of the cost of professional grooming.

I used to grind my teeth when I heard the saying, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do." But now I see the truth in it. I cannot predict--I really don't think anyone can reliably predict--what is going to happen to the economy. But hang in there! And hang on to your dog! You won't regret it, and your dog will thank you in dozens of ways every day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Once More, Thank you, Windsong

John and I have just returned from a trip to NYC. Yes, we did experience THE BIG NOR'EASTER of 2010 in Manhattan! But hailing cabs in torrential rains and gale force winds really was not my primary concern. As always, when I travel, my biggest concern is my dogs: Bingley and Magic. The hardest thing I have to do is to leave my dogs behind. And with two large sight hounds, leaving them behind is usually the only option.

However, I faced this trip with greater confidence, because of Bingley's very happy experience at Windsong while we were in England in November. But since then, we added Magic to our family, and Magic has a history of neglect in her pre-rescue life and unhappy kenneling following her rescue.

Once more, I want to give my very deep felt thanks to Mike Dougherty and all the staff at Windsong for the wonderful care Bingley and Magic received.

They were happy, healthy and beautifully groomed when I picked them up this morning. As Mike had predicted, they are more closely bonded and Magic is a more confident dog than when I dropped her off.

As the song goes about NY,NY--"If You Can Make It There, You'll Make
It Anywhere."

When it comes to kennels--and Windsong is much, much more than just a kennel--If You Can Take Care of Rescued Sight Hounds Successfully, You Can Take Care Of Any Dog Successfully.

There are many establishments designed to give the appearance of superior care for dogs. But precious few really have the professional knowledge and profound love of dogs, much less the understanding of the unique needs of different groups and breeds that Windsong provides.

If you live within even remotely feasible driving distance, it's worth the effort. Your dog will thank you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Will His Luck Hold?

Just before Thanksgiving, the family of Brody the Pekingese was told that he needed eye surgery. They told the veterinarian to euthanize the little dog instead. A vet tech who could not bear to see that happen, organized an informal rescue. Funds were found for Brody's surgery and a home was found for him. His new family was unsure whether they would be a foster or forever home. In spite of the fact that they think Brody is a darling little fellow, they are finding that three dogs is a little overwhelming for their household. So, once again, Brody is in need of a forever home.

I have met Brody. He is adorable: the picture of what a Peke should be. The fact that he is one-eyed just adds to his dashing good looks.

Brody is four years old, and with a Peke's generous life expectancy, would be able to give years of devoted companionship and good humor to a lucky human.

If you want more information about Brody or are interested in giving him his forever home, email me:

portiasmom at live dot com

Monday, March 1, 2010

Responsible Breeder: Lucky Dog

Yesterday I spent a few hours with some dog loving friends at the Silver Bay Kennel Club Dog Show at the Del Mar Fair Grounds. Some people who are deeply committed to dog rescue are not comfortable around dog shows, but I am not among their number. In fact, it seems to me, that as the plight of homeless dogs becomes ever more apparent, the gulf between "Rescue People" and "Show People" is narrowing every so slowly. I found that I could talk rescue with any number of the breeders I met. Some of them are actively involved in breed rescue programs.

As I have previously mentioned, a responsible breeder takes what can only be called a parental interest in all the puppies that they breed and sell. I wish I could say all show breeders rise to this standard. All too many do not. But it is an inspiration to discover one who does. I met just such a breeder yesterday.

As my friends and I were walking by grooming tables, a Bichon breeder told me the tale of the dog she was grooming.

Five years ago, she had sold him as a puppy to a woman she had every reason to believe would be a careful and loving guardian of a dog who requires regular grooming and is temperamentally suited to being a close and amusing companion of their "person".

To her horror, just a few months ago, she discovered that the Bichon puppy she had sold was being kept outdoors in a filthy cage. I will let your imagination fill in the blanks. Not surprisingly, the little dog was suffering from numerous parasites and infections.

"Of course," she told me, "I had to get my dog back."

She did.

As I stood listening to her, this dog--now clean, groomed and returning to robust health--responded to my pats, nuzzling against me, displaying all the affection for which his breed is famous.

I once more marveled at the resiliency of dogs. Had his breeder not told me his sad history, I would never have guessed that the little dog who responded to my attention so positively had suffered so cruelly from human neglect.

This little fellow is now ready to be adopted into a new home. His adoption fee is $500.00: a fraction of the veterinary expenses incurred after his rescue. He will need a home where he is not routinely left alone for long hours. If you are interested in adopting an adorable, loving, well-bred Bichon and can provide such a home for him, email me:

portiasmom at live dot com

Or, if you wish to contact the breeder directly, she can be emailed at:

djansey at msn dot com

I want to thank my friends, Dayonne and Charlie for suggesting our excursion to Silver Bay. They are wonderful Dog People. Dayonne used to breed and show German Shepherd Dogs. They are proprietors of A Master's Touch Grooming, which offers both self serve and professional grooming for dogs and cats.