“Man finds in the eyes of a dog the things he looks for.”
— Independent People, Halldór Laxness
The girls were extremely excited to try this offering from Chewy.com: the Busy Buddy Bristle Bone.
This ingenious toy, devised for very heavy chewers (which both of our pups are), integrates thin, replaceable rawhide rings into the bone.
We got to try the large size, which currently sells for $14.95 at Chewy.com. As soon as I let them try out the one we received, I knew I’d have to buy another one. They were both very interested in the bone and possessive over it. I bought another one in our next Chewy order, and they have both really been enjoying themselves with this toy.
They did figure out how to unscrew one of the ends of the bones and remove the ring, however, so I’d suggest that this is a toy for supervised play time.
Eden went to the vet for her annual checkup just last week, and the vet tech, whose opinion we treat like gold, actually recommended this toy to us. Eden was developing some buildup on her molars, and the vet tech said she really liked this toy for keeping the plaque at bay.
We’re all very pleased with this bristle bone! It’s always a pleasure to discover a new toy that can stand up to these heavy-duty shepherd mouths.
Is your dog playing with anything new lately?
Disclaimer: We were provided with this product in exchange for our honest review. We never review products that we wouldn’t heartily recommend to friends.
Believe me, I’ve been there: You’re bringing a new dog or puppy home, and you want to go absolutely wild in PetsMart. It’s overwhelming; there’s so much STUFF out there these days for dogs. But here’s a secret tip: You don’t need even a third of the things that giant pet store chains sell.
Here are some things we learned that our dogs actually don’t need.
What would you add to the list? What’s a pet product you see that you don’t think is really necessary?
In the circles I move in, it surprises me whenever I hear that people still harbor such negative opinions of pit bulls or dogs who resemble the bully breed type. When I volunteered at our local SPCA, some of my friends expressed concern about all of the pit bulls there and asked me if I was afraid of them. And I’d say no, I didn’t have time to be afraid of them, because all of them were spending all of their energy trying to crawl into my lap and lick my mouth. I was surprised. Isn’t everyone on board with pit bulls now? Apparently not.
I was also startled, when visiting a beach in Ireland this summer, to see that (really shockingly and stupidly broad) breed-specific legislation was being enforced there. I shouldn’t have been: the United Kingdom and Ireland are on the long list of countries that ban bully breeds.
And just a few weeks ago, Montréal joined the list of major cities that aim to ban pit bulls.* (*It sounds like there is an effort to put this on hold? Will be interested to hear how this develops.) Denver and Miami still ban them, and it is plausible to assume that other cities around the world will continue to buy into breed-based discrimination in the name of “safety” and “public order.” There are still very vocal “advocacy” groups hell bent on outlawing pit bulls.
How I wish more people and more legislators would read Bronwen Dickey’s excellent book, Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon.
Dickey approaches the story of the “breed” (more like dog type) with the clear-headed mind of a journalist and historian. She is a thorough researcher and weaves together a variety of subjects, interviews, and studies to explain why we see pit bulls the way we do now.
What results is a genuinely fascinating narrative of the ebb and flow of US public opinion regarding this dog. Americans have freaked out about particular dog breeds before — there was a murder campaign over the tiny, innocuous-looking German spitz in the early 1900s (totally surprised to learn about this one), and then, more recently, other German breeds, like German shepherds, dobermans, and rottweilers — but no terror seems to have lasted as long as the one we’ve directed at pit bulls.
Dickey makes a powerful case that a lot of our disdain and fear of pit bulls stems from systemic racism. Pit bulls are often featured in lower-income neighborhoods, and in America, we set up our neighborhoods so that the poorest ones are organized by race. She quotes a Baltimore activist, Lawrence Grandpre, in the Baltimore Sun:
“Over time, it seems that ‘pit bull’ has become a synonym for ‘black,’ and thus a similar bias seems to be at play here. As a black person raised in Baltimore, pit bulls were a central part of the social fabric of my life. The best dog I ever had was a pit bull, and he was the sweetest thing I have ever met. I am confident that if you were to ask the vast majority of pit bull owners in this city, they will tell you the same thing. For black folks like me who grew up with them, we love them because when we were born into a violent world not of our choosing, they protected us.”
Pit bulls, Dickey concludes, are just dogs. They are no more virtuous or vicious than any other dog. But we have really caused them to suffer because of our own prejudices. It is a sad thing indeed.
I’d encourage anyone with an interest in canine and human welfare to read this book and to share it with others.
Have you read Pit Bull? What do you think?
Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this review or compensated in any way. Just really loved the book and wanted to share!
No, I’m not getting another dog. (You can keep breathing, husband.)
But I am often asked this question, and I hear people asking it all the time. So I thought I’d develop an answer for what I would say, if I had the time and leisure, to someone who asked me what kind of dog they should get.
The most important things to remember, at the start, are:
We all develop affection for certain breeds or breed types, but the more time I spend reading about and living with dogs, the more convinced I am that we should stop obsessing about breed so much.
We have two purebred German shepherds that we rescued, and while I love them, I wouldn’t recommend shepherds to many people. Our girls are very bright, but intelligent dogs are high maintenance and demanding. Shepherds don’t really let you relax a whole lot. They also have a lot of minor health issues that, although not debilitating, are certainly costly on a monthly basis.
Were we to ever get another dog, I’d want one like Georgia, featured above, who is my in-laws’ dog. She looks like a miniature Golden retriever. She’s full-grown and about 40 lbs. and has such a sunny, outgoing disposition. She’s healthy and companionable and sweet and she doesn’t give anyone a moment’s anxiety.
These are the things that would be important to me in another dog, beyond breed. When you are thinking about a dog, think about the dog’s health and structure before you think about their superficial looks or breed label.
I feel like the goal is to get a healthy dog who looks as much like a generic street dog as possible.
To sum it up: Think about wolves and think about street dogs. Can your purebred puppy communicate like these dogs? Can it run and jump and breathe normally? If not, think about another breed.
There are innumerable mixed breeds that fit these qualifications, and I think we’d most likely obtain our next dog from a shelter or rescue, aiming for a mixed-breed puppy that appeared to meet this criteria.
But if I were to pick a purebred, I’d be attracted to the following breeds that meet these standards:
What’s on your list of qualifications for a dog, purebred or not?
The paws twitch in place of chasing
Where the whimper of this seeming-gentle creature
Rings out terrible, chasing tigers. The fields
Are licking like torches, full of running,
Laced odors, bones stalking, tushed leaps.
So little that is tamed, yet so much
That you would find deeply familiar there.
You are there often, your very eyes,
The unfathomable knowledge behind your face,
The mystery of your will, appraising
Such carnage and triumph; standing there
Strange even to yourself, and loved, and only
A sleeping beast knows who you are.
I get asked from time to time by new dog owners about what they should read. Following are the top 10 books I’d recommend to people with dogs, covering everything from training to behavior to history. I link to the reviews I’ve written of these books, and if not available, I provide a link to the book’s Goodreads page.
Dog lovers, read away!
(As you can see, my general opinions is that if you read anyone on dogs, start with Patricia McConnell. I think she’s the gold standard for modern writing on dogs. Her blog, The Other End of the Leash, is predictably fantastic as well.)
What are your favorite books about dogs? What would you add to these lists?
Retrieving is uncertain work.
Fetch him bright fragrant feathers dead,
He grins and pats his gratitude.
But barf a scented toad beside his bed,
He screams, slams doors and me.
A still warm, gay and bloody duck,
He kneels and gathers like a grail.
But bring up week-old possum warm,
His voice goes grim; his face turns pale.
It’s all retrieval; reactions vary.
Balls or bumpers, birds and toads,
I think it should be none or all.
Last night I urped a knot of tennis net;
Picky bastard won’t ever get the ball.
I’m keeping the next duck too.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Dog poems = always good for a Friday laugh. But it’s also catalyst for a bit of reflection: Isn’t it interesting how vastly our perceptions of appropriate/inappropriate vary when compared with our dogs? It’s all retrieval; reactions vary.
I don’t know about you, but we’re always on the hunt for high-quality, small-sized treats for daily training and practice. We’re perpetually working on leash reactivity, and so we try to always have some good reinforcement on hand to rebuild those neural pathways.
Accordingly, we were delighted to try this offering from Chewy.com: ZiwiPeak’s Good Dog lamb jerky treats, which originate in New Zealand.
These are 95% lamb and grain free, and they come in these tiny, lightweight little strips, which are just perfect for handing out and training on the go.
A bag of these treats currently sells for $7.22 at Chewy.com.
Pyrrha and Eden were VERY excited as soon as I ripped that pouch open. They were ready to throw out any trick or behavior to get a taste, and these little treats certainly didn’t disappoint them.
What have you been using for training tidbits lately?
Disclaimer: We were provided with a bag of these treats in exchange for our honest review. We were not otherwise compensated, and we only review products that we genuinely recommend.
Short answer: No. Please don’t.
Let’s have a brief and simplistic history lesson of the purebred dog, shall we?
Dogs have been around for a long time. When they were bred in the past, they were bred for function. Dogs that were good at herding were bred to other good herders; dogs that were good at hunting were bred to other good hunting dogs. And then you had sheepdogs and hounds. Their appearance probably varied greatly, but they were prized because they could get the job done.
But around the turn of the century, eugenics started to become popular. Maintaining the “purity” of races was all the rage (and we remember how that turned out, in the form of Nazi Germany). Victorian England decided to turn its racial purity sights onto their beloved dogs, and they created the Kennel Club in 1873 and with it, the notion of a “pure”-bred dog. Dog shows and an invented breed standard allowed wealthy dog owners to breed their pets into status symbols.
Kennel clubs exist all around the world today, and the typical purebred dog is bred to meet a breed standard, determined by a kennel club. This breed standard is determined by the breed clubs, and it is based on a somewhat mythical (and changeable) notion of what the “perfect” example of its breed should look like. Dog shows are strictly beauty pageants. Dogs have to meet an arbitrary, human-defined standard of beauty to be declared fit to be bred. And therein lies the problem.
When we make appearance the primary criteria for choosing a dog, we do a great disservice to the health and welfare of dogs everywhere.
These are the two main problems with making beauty the only thing that counts when breeding dogs:
Didn’t your mother ever tell you looks don’t matter? It’s what’s on the inside that counts? And what’s on the inside of many purebreds, especially snub-nosed (brachycephalic), breeds is royally effed up, thanks to kennel clubs and breed standards.
I always get a lot of hate mail/negative comments when I express this opinion—that bulldogs and pugs are desperately unhealthy and over-bred—but I feel so strongly about this issue that it rolls off my back like water. I also have science on my side, so that helps.
Here’s a great summation of many of the physical problems with pedigree dogs, via following infographic from the RSPCA:
If you have a pug, French bulldog, English bulldog, or pekingese, or any extremely over-bred/deformed purebred, I know you love your dog. I know your dog loves you. They’re little fighters. They suffer and they don’t complain.
I know it’s not directly your fault that your dog can’t breathe or reproduce naturally. It’s the fault of generations of eugenics inflicted on canines to fit a wholly arbitrary breed standard.
But what is terrifying and depressing now is how registrations of brachycephalic dogs have soared over the past decade. Pugs and bulldogs are extremely trendy right now. They appear in tons of marketing and ad campaigns, and it’s “hip” to have a dog with a squashed face, especially in big cities. French bulldogs and pugs are small and relatively “lazy” (largely because they are incapable of too much exertion because of their anatomy), and so they appeal to many city dwellers.
I see so many pugs and bulldogs on the street, and I feel crushed a little every time I do. If you even know the slightest bit about canine anatomy, you can observe how much these dogs labor and struggle to even walk or trot short distances, especially on hot days. My hair stylist’s 5-year-old English bulldog dropped dead in the park one summer day because his heart simply gave out. Her vet said she’d seen it happen multiple times with bulldogs. I grow sad when I hear owners laughing about how their pugs or bulldogs “snore” or grunt so much. It isn’t really funny; your dog snores so loudly because she actually can’t get enough air. It’s heartbreaking. Dogs deserve better than this.
So, what are you to do, if you really like the look of pugs or French bulldogs? Here are a few ideas.
But it’s time we spoke up for purebred dogs, who can’t speak up for themselves. Start demanding better breed standards from local breed clubs. Urge the kennel club in your country to take stronger measures to ensure that dogs are healthy and free of genetic disease.
The most important thing is to resist the urge to buy a puppy that’s bred to extremes. If we stop demanding snub-nosed breeds, the supply will decrease. Just say no to pugs and bulldogs. After all they give us, dogs deserve better, healthier, longer lives. And we have the power to give it to them.