Dogs and men

An old shepherd and his #collie
LIFE Magazine.

“I think breeds of dogs and breeds of men are quite a bit alike. If you think it’s insulting that I compare people with animals, well, if you knew how I love animals, you would understand that coming from me, this is a compliment.”

— Zsa-Zsa Gabor

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A rather funny perspective, but I’m inclined to believe it from time to time. I often feel like I “identify” with Pyrrha—we both have fundamental anxieties, we both like to learn new things, we are both very uneasy when our daily routines are shifted…

Happy weekend!

Girls and dogs

I was TERRIFIED of dogs when I was a little girl. I remember when the fear began, and I think I’ve recounted it before. My father adores dogs, like I do now. When I was about 6, we were living in a tiny apartment, waiting for our new house to be built. A doberman (my father’s favorite breed) and a rough collie lived in the complex, and Dad liked to take us outside, just to watch the dogs play. One evening, I was completely knocked over and trampled by the dogs (who were just having a case of the zoomies, and not paying attention). I thought they were out to kill me, and I was extremely scared of dogs from then on.

But in a few years, some magical, inherent dog-loving switch turned on–I don’t even know what it was–and I became OBSESSED with dogs, kind of like I am now. I started memorizing dog breeds when I was 8 or 9. I gave complicated advice to the neighbors about what kind of dog they should get, based on their lifestyles. I started a dog-walking business, just to have an excuse to spend time with dogs, since my parents were reluctant to get us one of our own.

And yet I didn’t get a dog of my own until Emma, when I was about 14. I had to wait a long time for her, and I feel like I had to wait even longer for Pyrrha, but I still love to see little girls with dogs. It warms my heart.

All that to say, here are just some cute photos of girls and the dogs they love, culled from my Pinterest board, Woman’s Best Friend.

Source: Les Zigouis.
Tanis Guinness (of the beer fortune) and her pekingese, Ta Wang, at a New York dog show in 1912.
A farm girl and her collie.
Bluetick coonhound and friend. Photo: Flickr user texturejunky.
Young Elizabeth Taylor and a pair of poodles.
Young Queen Elizabeth and her corgi, Dookie.
A little girl and her puppy. Source: LIFE Magazine.
Kisses! Source: LIFE Magazine.
Kristina and Lola the lab. Photo: Stepan Obruckhov.
“1924. Our Billy and me.”
Girl and her patient pup.
Afghan hound love.
Source: Seeberger Brothers.
Photo: Flickr user m.orti.

Did you love a dog when you were a young thing?

Pup links!

A weathered shepherd and his rough collie. Source: LIFE Magazine archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

Life Without a Dog Is No Life for Me. Kristine reflects on the various sacrifices she’s made, welcoming Shiva into her life, and concludes that they were all more than worth it. An encouraging and insightful post for the currently dog-less, like myself. (Rescued Insanity)

April Is Adopt-a-Greyhound Month. Bunny the greyhound gives a very convincing case as to why adopted greyhounds make wonderful companions. I’m finding myself increasingly convinced! (Maybe greyhoundafterthis first dog?) (Tales and Tails)

UKC Leads the Way in the U.S. with Breed Standard Revisions. The United Kennel Club is revising some of its standards for breeds with more apparent health problems, including the basset hound, the German shepherd, and the pekingese. It’s a start! (Pedigree Dogs Exposed)

The Trouble with Puddles. Veterinarian Shea Cox gives some helpful advice about how to prevent your dog from contracting diarrhea. One easy way? Don’t let them drink out of stagnant pools of water, especially at the dog park. (The Bark blog)

Say Kibble! 10 Tips for the Perfect Pet Portrait. Wonderful pet photographer Kira DeDecker gives some practical tips about how to perfectly capture your pooch on camera. (Pawesome)

Dogs. Just a nice collection of vintage dog photographs and other canine-centric artwork. (Gems)

Warby Barker Turns the Four-Legged into the Four-Eyed. Warby Parker, my favorite source for eyeglasses (I’m wearing their Webb pair right now), released its new line of glasses for dogs, Warby Barker, aka a great April Fool’s joke. (Pawesome)

Hey, Look, a Water Noodle. The caption is just… too much. Goofy Boston terriers frolicking in a summer lawn. (Animals Talking in All Caps)

Pup links!

The collies are listening. Click for source.

The big news of the day is that we have now officially submitted our applications to the Virginia German Shepherd Rescue and Southeast German Shepherd Rescue! Even though we won’t move until May, I wanted to go ahead and send our applications so the vetting and approval process could get underway. It goes without saying that I am so excited.

Here are some dog-related links from around the web this past week:

Social Dominance Is Not a Myth: Wolves, Dogs, and Other Animals. Marc Bekoff addresses the other side of the dominance coin and points out that we shouldn’t throw it out entirely. Wolves do exhibit dominance and the research is perhaps more nuanced than we formerly thought. Interesting. (The Bark Blog)

Sidetracked by Grammar. As a copy editor and a dog lover, I definitely appreciated this vet’s list of grammatical pet peeves. The one that really gets under my skin? People who write about “German shepards.” Nope. Not a thing. Learn how to spell. (Pawcurious)

Pocket Petunia’s Big Adventure. A sweet post about therapy dogs visiting a local school and teaching kids about kindness and mercy toward others. (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)

Color-Coded Dogs. Fun photos of dogs playing in groups arranged by fur color. (Ours for a Year)

Canine Pregnancy Detector. Dogs really can smell everything… (Fido & Wino)

Day Twenty-One. A little girl and her dog: Big frown and then a big laugh! (Emily Corey Photography)

Gallery of herding dogs

Just a series of photos of some of my favorite dogs from the herding group. Not to pick favorites or anything, but I think I’d have to say that all of my best-loved breeds come from this group of high-maintenance, noisy, difficult dogs. I know. I just can’t get over them. Why this post? Well, I like to look at dog pictures. No apologies. A girl can dream, right?

(Click on each photo for its source.)

Australian shepherd

Australian shepherd

Belgian tervuren

Belgian tervuren

Border collie

Border collie

Rough collie

Smooth collie

German shepherd

German shepherd puppies

Pyrenean shepherd

Pyrenean shepherd

Choices! Help me make one.

OK, so I really don’t need to make a choice right now. Because I still have 10 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days until I can get a dog. But who’s counting?!

But today I’m caught in a tri-lemma between three beautiful breeds: the Australian shepherd, the German shepherd, and the rough collie. I want all of these dogs, of course, but I can’t determine which one is best for our lifestyle and our household. Should we try to get a purebred puppy? Should we go through a breed rescue agency? Should we just get a mutt and be done with it? I’m trying to keep feelings out of this, but that’s a silly thing to try to do when faced with puppies.

These are the unproductive thoughts that are running through my head:

A handsome Aussie in black and white. Source: Flickr user lee

PUREBRED AUSSIE PROS:

  • Raising a beautiful puppy from the ground up.
  • There are many reputable Aussie breeders in Virginia that I’ve already been in touch with and am still planning on visiting this summer and fall.
  • More solid health guarantees, if we go with one of these reputable breeders.
  • Even some temperament guarantees, if we can meet the parents.

PUREBRED AUSSIE CONS:

  • The world does not need more purebreds.
  • Expensive. We can afford one, but still: It’s a lot to pay for a companion/pet-quality dog.

RESCUE AUSSIE PROS:

  • You’re rescuing a dog who really needs a home!

RESCUE AUSSIE CONS:

  • There are rarely any purebred Aussies who need rescuing in this area. (Unless you count that handsome, small blue merle who came into CASPCA a week or so ago.)
  • You have less knowledge about the dog’s background and previous behavioral issues when adopting an adult.
  • This might be incorrect, but I feel like abandoned Aussies require a lot more rehab than other abandoned breeds. They’re usually surrendered for hyperactivity, sensitivity, or other behavioral problems, more so than other breeds (who are surrendered when owners die, move away, etc.).

General thoughts and concerns about getting an Aussie: Am I crazy to think that I could handle an Aussie? I know I grew up with one, but she didn’t have a very happy ending. My biggest fear right now is that our Aussie will be excessively barky and get us evicted from our new house. But I’ve always wanted an Aussie. This is my breed. These are my dogs. I would feel some betrayal to my life’s purpose if I didn’t get one. I know that’s totally ridiculous. Am I being too idealistic and not really thinking practically about whether I could handle this kind of dog? I need someone to tell me what to do.

A wise German shepherd. Source: Flickr, user idog~

PUREBRED GSD PROS:

  • Raising a beautiful puppy from the ground up.
  • If you can find a reputable GSD breeder, you may be able to carefully avoid a lot of the genetic health issues that plague the breed.
  • Perhaps some additional temperament guarantees.

PUREBRED GSD CONS:

  • The world does not need more purebreds.
  • A lot of the Virginian GSD breeders strike me as kind of scary and really serious.
  • Most of the reputable Virginia GSD breeders I’ve seen are breeding dogs from European lines for schutzhund competitions.
  • For the reasons above, GSDs I’ve seen in Virginia are extremely expensive (much more than reputably-bred companion-type Aussies).

RESCUE GSD PROS:

  • You’re rescuing a dog who really needs a home!
  • There are two active GSD rescue groups in Virginia that seem to have a steady supply of beautiful, healthy-looking dogs (and if they’re not healthy, they tell you so).

RESCUE GSD CONS:

  • You don’t know about the hidden health problems this dog may have. This is an especially big risk with a purebred GSD who came from who-knows-where.
  • Latent temperament or behavior problems are also more uncertain.
  • I’m inexperienced with this breed and I’m anxious about the task of rehabilitating an adult GSD.

General thoughts and concerns about getting a GSD: These dogs intimidate me, but I really want one. It’s probably not smart to go into a relationship with a dog when you’re predisposed to be intimidated by it. My life plan is to get a purebred Aussie puppy first, learn how to raise a dog in general, and then rescue an adult GSD. But is that a bad life plan? I don’t know. Should I just jump headfirst into it and adopt an adult GSD? I feel like a purebred GSD is out of our range right now. These dogs are the consummate canine athletes and brainiacs. They can do anything and I feel like they need to be taken very seriously to ensure a happy, well-adjusted life.

A tricolor rough collie. Source: Flickr, user helen246

PUREBRED COLLIE PROS:

  • Raising a beautiful puppy from the ground up.
  • Similar advantages of having a reputable breeder who has avoided passing on Collie Eye Anomaly and other serious genetic defects.
  • Better guarantees of a pup’s temperament if the parents are available.

PUREBRED COLLIE CONS:

  • The world does not need more purebreds.
  • There is only one collie breeder that I can find in Virginia and one in Maryland. They do not breed often and puppies are often very hard to come by.
  • Due to the increasing rarity of the breed, puppies will be quite expensive.

RESCUE COLLIE PROS:

  • You’re rescuing a dog who really needs a home!
  • I was thrilled to find a great collie rescue agency in Virginia. They have a lovely selection of young and adult dogs who need homes.
  • Less expensive and more readily available than a purebred puppy.

RESCUE COLLIE CONS:

  • Fear of hereditary disorders or serious health defects showing up later in life.
  • As with the other rescues, less certainty about the dog’s background and temperament.

General thoughts and concerns about getting a collie: Is it cruel to own a rough collie in the southeast? Will the dog die of heat stroke with all that hair? I think this is why I’d be inclined to get a female, if only for the lesser mane. (I did see a rough collie in Charlottesville once, though, and he looked happy.) I know even less about rough collies than I do about GSDs, having never interacted with one in person, but I’m taken with them in general appearance and temperament. They’re like the bubbly, more low-key herding dogs. The retrievers of the shepherds, if you will (and I will). I’m so generally naive about this breed that I’m not sure if it would be wise to have my first dog be a collie. But they sound very user-friendly and adaptable, much more than even an Aussie, perhaps.

OK! Help me make a decision. Go! I only have 10 months to make up my mind!

Breed Love: Rough collie

Rough Collie named Jack
Rough collie. Source: Flickr user LesPaulSupreme

What little girl hasn’t dreamed of having her own Lassie? OK, so I haven’t stopped dreaming. I love rough collies. I love watching them move. Whenever I see one, I can barely resist the temptation to run up and throw my arms around its neck and bury my face in its incredible mane. I restrain myself–but only with the greatest exertion of willpower.

Thanks to “Lassie,” collies experienced an enormous popularity spike in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, for almost all breeds, popularity comes at a price. For collies, it was quite a big one. Irresponsible breeders who jumped on the popularity bandwagon nearly destroyed this breed by reproducing dogs with Collie Eye Anomaly and bad hips. Today, these congenital defects still run rampant in the breed lineage. The popularity of the rough collie has diminished steadily since its heyday in the 50s and 60s and today, these big, beautiful dogs are somewhat uncommon–even though anyone could identify one on the street and call it “Lassie.”

My mom’s family was one of the many American families who jumped on the collie bandwagon. When she was young, her parents brought home a rough collie puppy they named Missy. Mom spoke fondly of Missy, but her stories indicate that Missy was somewhat neglected and developed a worrisome stereotypy in the back yard. As soon as Missy went outside, she would run for hours along the fence in the exact same loop. Mercifully, my grandparents realized Missy was going insane and they gave her to nearby farmers, where she lived a hopefully happy and long life.

Our Rough Collie, Sadie
A rough collie puppy. Source: Flickr user Gary_Troughton

That sad story aside, I’d definitely consider a rough collie if the opportunity presented itself. I am very wary about the breed’s remaining health challenges, but I would pursue a collie rescue or puppy if that is what we decide is best for us. There are many appealing traits of the rough collie. Unlike most reserved herding breeds, collies are very friendly and outgoing. They’re intelligent and loyal. And almost always totally gorgeous. I should stop thinking about this right now. I’m really tempted to keep looking at these collie rescue groups (linked below) and all of the beautiful dogs who need homes…

Rough collie links: