Pup links!

A meditative mutt. Photo by Winnie Au.

Dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Your Complete Guide to the Diamond Pet Food Recalls. If you read any pet blogs at all, you’ve surely already heard about the big fiasco with Diamond Pet Food’s recall of a whole host of kibbles infected with salmonella. I was dismayed to read about it, because I had kind of decided to feed our future dog Taste of the Wild, which is one of the brands included in this voluntary recall. Were any of you affected by the recall? Will you be switching brands because of it? (Poisoned Pets)

Lure and Clicker Training to Teach Sit: Advantages and Disadvantages. Patricia McConnell discusses the pros and cons of using either a lure or a clicker to teach a dog how to sit. She also wonders if anyone is a combination trainer, perhaps using a mix of both techniques? (The Other End of the Leash)

Dogs Are Born to Run. Interesting citation of a study that claims that dogs, like people, can experience a “runner’s high.” (The Bark blog)

Four Easy Ways to Eliminate Tag Jingle. Some tips and tags to prevent the constant jingling of tags. (*Although I sometimes like noisy dog tags, in that they can always tell me where the dog is in the house…) (Unleashed Unlimited)

Ted Recommends Stagbars. Ted the long-haired chihuahua likes these particular stagbar chews and thoughtfully explains why. (Tinkerwolf)

Film: Badlands (1973). M.C. reviews Terrence Malick’s beautiful film Badlands and the dogs who play a role in it. I’m looking forward to seeing this myself, as it’s one of my husband’s all-time favorites. (The House of Two Bows)

The Long and the Short of it. I love these old-fashioned/woodblock-print-like key fobs and tags, all printed with a variety of classic breeds; would make a nice gift for a particular breed devotee. (Under the Blanket)

Rosie’s Bloopers. This is the goofiest pointer ever! These photos are hilarious. (Paws on the Run)

His Face Every Time I Catch a Fish. This is… so good. This man’s hound makes the exact same expression of curious bewilderment whenever there is a fish in the boat. (Full Pelt)

OK, and now, one of my new favorite animal Tumblrs is Animals Talking in All Caps. (It’s exactly what it sounds like.) Some of my favorites that include dogs:

WOULD YOU GUYS STOP ARGUING ABOUT POLITICS
AUGH! NO, NO! THIS IS GIN!
SEVEN YOUNG LADIES STAND BEFORE ME…

Brisk winter day at the SPCA

After a regrettably long hiatus, I went back to the SPCA yesterday to spend my morning walking the dogs. Boy, were they ready to get outside!

Amigo.

I started my morning out with this bro, Amigo, who was easily twice as strong as I am. He was also terrible on the leash and aggressive toward every single dog we passed. He was exhausting. I found myself getting frustrated and even angry with him. I tried stopping to see if he’d respond on the leash; he just kept dragging me forward. It took all my strength to stop him–or prevent him from lunging and snarling at every other dog. He was a good reminder of the futility of frustration with a dog. My welling anger with him wasn’t helping the situation, and I’m sure it was only exacerbating it.

Finally, I just resolved to make it through the walk. I had a ton of others to attend to, and not much energy or ability to help him at that time. I wish I’d had more patience in the moment, but I confess that I was really ready to just get him back in that kennel and move on to someone else. I feel guilty admitting it, but that’s how I felt. Am I the only one who gets totally blinded by frustration by a stubborn and unresponsive dog? I hope not…

Blair.

But then I got to spend some time with Blair, who was a doll. Blair is a dude, actually, and he’s very strong himself–barrel-chested like a pit bull or boxer–but he walked politely (most of the time) on his leash. How pleasant it was to take a walk without being dragged everywhere, pulling out your shoulders in the process. Also unlike Amigo, Blair was very playful and probably dropped a play bow in front of every other dog we passed. He was dying to get some play time. After talking with a more experienced volunteer, we determined that he and a lab-mix puppy, Marsh, may make good playmates, so we were able to put them in a big run together and watch them romp their hearts out. That’s always one of my favorite things to witness.

I also spent a lot of time with another volunteer, wrangling the hounds. As I’ve mentioned before, our SPCA is overrun with hounds, because we apparently live in an area of irresponsible hunters. We always have dozens of scenthounds looking for adoption, but they often linger for a long time, because they’re 1) not especially attractive, 2) somewhat large in size, and 3) not very responsive to humans. But they do make great house pets, despite that; hounds just want to lounge around on your sofa.

Hounds are also extremely sociable with one another, which is something I was reminded of yesterday. They adore the company of other dogs, especially fellow scenthounds, and you can pretty much trust any of the hounds with any other dog (for the most part). In the huge fenced-in run, we usually have four or five scenthound friends in there together, romping around for an hour or so before we put them back in their kennels. They just love each others’ company. It’s always sweet to see.

Gallery of hounds

Can you tell that I’m very partial to sighthounds? I adore them and yet they are extremely mysterious to me. I feel like I don’t understand them at all, but I want to. Some years down the road, I’m quite serious about adopting a former racing greyhound. Reading Tales and Tails also makes me believe that it would be possible for two such divergent dogs as a German shepherd and a greyhound could happily and peacefully coexist.

(Click on a photo to be taken to its source.)

Borzoi

Borzoi

Gypsy Rose Lee and her Afghan hound

Afghan hound

Greyhounds

Greyhound

Saluki

Saluki in the snow

Irish wolfhound

Irish wolfhound

Poem: “This little Hound within the Heart”

Model with a borzoi. Source: Mr. Harris Tweed

What shall I do–it whimpers so–
This little Hound within the Heart
All day and night with bark and start–
And yet, it will not go–
Would you untie it, were you me–
Would it stop whining–if to Thee–
I sent it–even now?

Emily Dickinson

SPCA Day: The joy of Pooch

I confess that I went to the SPCA for my day of dog walking somewhat reluctantly this past week. The weather has been brutally hot here and last Saturday was no exception. The heat index on Saturday was showing something like 102 degrees Fahrenheit for the majority of the day. Even though I was sweating my face off, I was happy, because the dogs are always happy.

Pooch

My most memorable dog of the day was Pooch, a young male pit bull. Pooch was one of the last dogs I walked on Saturday. Unlike most of the dogs, he didn’t jump or bark at me when I stopped at his kennel to take him out. He quietly sat by the door and just watched me, somewhat shyly. I crouched down and put my hand out for him to sniff. He ducked his head in an anxious way when I put his leash on, but as soon as I turned around to walk, he bolted out of that kennel like a rocket. The kid was ready to GO!

Like most pits, Pooch used his low center of gravity and strong pulling force to drag me all over the trails. I wasn’t much use trying to calm him down, so I took him to one of the enclosed “agility” areas. As soon as I snapped his leash off, he went wild with excitement: Racing in circles around the perimeter, looking for things to chew and balls to chase. He was especially enamored with a stuffed lamb toy that had been left in the pen. To amuse himself, he would toss it up in the air and then jump and catch it. I was delighted to just sit there and watch him play. If I wasn’t engaged in the activity, however, he was sure to let me know that he wanted my full participation. If I sat down after throwing the ball, he would charge up to me and impatiently throw his paws on my knees, grinning the whole time.

Pooch taught me a few things on Saturday. First, that dogs can behave very differently depending on their environments and situations. Pooch was shy and still when in his kennel, but as soon as he got out, he was like a totally different (and energy-packed!) dog. Second, Pooch reinforced that many pits and pit mixes have almost boundless energy. Compared with the different breed mixes I’ve met at the shelter, it’s the pits who seem to be the most gregariously energetic. And third, Pooch reminded me of what a thoroughly delightful thing it is to just watch a dog play. It’s encouraging to find the dogs at the shelter who are able to maintain their play drives to such a happy extent–despite their circumstances.

I hope Pooch finds a great home of his own very soon.

Beauty

I was also taken with Beauty, a sweet-faced female hound of middling adult age. We have a ton of hounds at our shelter. I’d never seen so many in my entire life. This is because of the area in which we live, where there are many hunters and who go out with packs of hounds. These hunters don’t always take the best care of their hunting dogs, who may often get separated from the pack or breed with each other without any regard for what will happen to the bitches or their puppies.

I don’t know Beauty’s back story, but I do know that she’s a quiet and lovely soul. Many of the hounds I’ve met show little to no interest in people. I don’t know if this is because this is a “hound thing” or if it’s because of the way they’ve been raised, but it’s often hard to get a hound’s attention–mainly because they are usually following the scent trail of something that’s about a hundred times more interesting than I am. Beauty was an exception to this aloof, uninterested hound trait.

As we walked, she paused every so often to stop and just look me straight in the face. Not in a challenging way, not in a fearful way–but a look that communicated calm attention. I’m anthropomorphizing here, but to me, Beauty’s look also communicated gratitude. Every time she stopped to watch me, to follow my eyes, she seemed to be saying, “Thank you.”

I don’t know what she was actually saying, but I’m going to believe that for a while longer. She deserves a family who will appreciate and cherish her gentleness and goodness. I hope she finds them soon.

Finally, another favorite moment of the day was with the tiny beagle mix puppy that I got to cradle for a few minutes. (I don’t have a picture of him, which probably means that he got adopted!) He was in a small carrier on the floor while his kennel was being cleaned and the poor baby was just crying his heart out. I was in between shifts of walking and I couldn’t help myself when I heard him. I stopped, sat down on the ground, and let him walk out of the carrier toward me. I didn’t want to reach in there and grab him, as he already seemed very frightened and confused. He cautiously approached me and I picked him up. He had brilliant blue eyes and those sweet, velvety beagle ears. I held him for a few minutes and spoke softly to him.

I could have sat there all day, but there were big dogs who needed walking and so I reluctantly put him back. My wish for him is that he will find a family who will raise him well and give him a long, happy life in one household.

I’m looking forward to my next volunteering weekend and to all of the new things that I will undeniably learn!

(Also: Some exciting news about Penny, the hyperactive dog that I thought no one would adopt: Apparently, she was adopted by the DEA to be a drug enforcement dog at the airports! I’m excited for her and I hope this job will provide a great channel for her boundless energy.)

Breed love: Borzoi

Borzoi just waiting for you to take his picture. Click for source.

The borzoi, also known as the Russian wolfhound, is an undeniably fashionable dog. They are scattered throughout the portraits of the rich and famous in the early 20th century. These shaggy, elegant giants were especially popular among wealthy women in the 1920s, because they looked fabulous with every ensemble. At the very least, you would attract a lot of attention with a pair of borzois at your side.

These gentle and quiet-natured sighthounds were once used by the Russian royalty to hunt wolves, although it would be quite unlikely to find a borzoi hunting today. Today, you’d be most likely to meet one in a show ring. They are still quite rare in the United States and you would pay a pretty penny for a purebred borzoi.

Borzoi
Racing borzoi. Source: Flickr user wolfhound

Borzois, like other sighthounds, are not known for being champions of the obedience ring. In fact, many owners will find them very difficult to train. This is not because, as Stanley Coren posited, they are unintelligent, but rather because they are uninterested in learning what you’d like to teach them. Unlike the highly trainable herding breeds, hounds are notoriously stubborn and sighthounds in particular are famously aloof.

Despite the challenges to training, borzois make great house pets and probably won’t give you half the trouble that one of the highly trainable breeds, like border collies or Australian shepherds, would. They are clean and quiet and almost catlike in their affectations. I’d be open to owning a borzoi one day if the opportunity ever presented itself.

Borzoi links:

Breed love: Irish wolfhound

A pack of Irish wolfhounds (although some look kind of Scottish deerhound-y to me). Source: Flickr user Pixilista

I fell in love with a dog at the shelter a few weeks ago who was described on the SPCA website as an “Irish wolfhound” mix. Like Irish wolfhounds, this dog was quite tall and lanky, but that was where the similarities ended. I found the description a bit humorous, since it’s not like there are a ton of Irish wolfhounds roaming the countryside and impregnating strays. These dogs are still fairly rare in the United States, even though most people could probably correctly identify one. Wolfhounds don’t look like a lot of other breeds.

The Irish wolfhound’s claim to fame is that of the tallest dog breed. They don’t necessarily weigh the most, but they are very leggy. With this height, unfortunately, comes a tragically short lifespan. Your average wolfhound will live to be seven or eight years old.

A lounging Irish wolfhound. Source: irishwolfhoundpuppiesblog.com

Like many giant breeds, Irish wolfhounds have a history of being very gentle and mild-mannered indoors. They can be spirited puppies, however, and prospective owners are cautioned about keeping breakable items scattered around the house. I love the look of this breed, but its comparative rarity and short lifespan lead me to think that it might not be the best for us at this time. But how great would it look to have one of these gorgeous giants on your hearth? Or waiting for you at the farm gate? I can imagine it now…

Irish wolfhound links: