Thanksgiving with the shepherd

We had a lovely, lazy, long weekend with my family, and it was great to spend the holiday away from work/life/moving madness!

Shepherd on guard at her grandparents' house. #gsd #thanksgiving
On guard at her grandparents’ house.

P got cozy and spent plenty of time napping:

P knows what Thanksgiving is all about. #napping

More #thanksgiving napping. #gsd

She seems to have grown increasingly comfortable with visiting my parents. Despite all of the noise and plentiful amounts of people, she is easygoing and engaged there. She also loves her frequent play-dates with the neighbor’s dog (my father’s surrogate dog), Dublin, who has been featured here regularly.

We had lots of walks, including this particular one:

In Which Pyrrha Saves a Dog

On one of our daily family strolls, we set out from the house. Almost instantly, we noticed a commotion: A frantic lab mix was darting back and forth through traffic and a man was desperately trying to catch the dog, to no avail. My parents live right on a fairly busy street, and so we were all instantly terrified. My first thought when I heard the phrase “loose dog” was to turn around, not wanting to risk some reactive outburst from Pyrrha. But I’m glad I didn’t.

I reasoned that a loose dog might not come to strange people, but a loose dog would almost always come to another dog. So we started to walk straight toward the dog, who was still in panic mode and darting dangerously between vehicles. Mercifully, the dog honed in on Pyrrha and ran straight up to her, giving us the chance to grab his collar. His grateful owner was right there and thanked us profusely. And Pyrrha didn’t have a bit of reactive display; she seemed fascinated by the whole ordeal. I’m thankful that we had her with us!

Pyrrha and I wait for food. Photo: (c) Grace Farson.
Pyrrha and I wait for food. Photo: (c) Grace Farson.

All in all, a great escape. And now… let’s MOVE! More to come, when I get the chance!

Homeward bound. #lilfamily
Homeward bound.
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The bond we have with dogs

Marie-Thérèse Walter, Pablo Picasso's muse,  © Gérard Blot/Réunion de Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY, Acquavella Galleries.
Marie-Thérèse Walter and a shepherd. © Gérard Blot.

There is definitely something special about the bond we have with dogs. Their ability to read our communicative gestures makes them seem “in tune” with us. And their attentiveness to our every move can’t help but make us feel special. There is one study that shows that dogs would prefer to spend time with humans than their own species, which is unusual for an animal. Every dog owner is familiar with that rise in spirits as a thumping tail greets you at the door, and from the enthusiasm dogs have for us, it’s hard to believe the feeling isn’t mutual.

— Canine behavioral scientist Dr. Brian Hare, in a recent interview featured in Scientific American.

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

I love this: Science backing what we already know to be true about our dogs.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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!

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)

Dog jobs I daydream about

Me in my daydream day job... Click for source.

When I’m sitting in my gray cubicle, staring at a computer screen, I can’t help but daydream about what I’d rather be doing instead. Those daydreams usually involve me frolicking in a field with my future dog, or a whole pack of my future dogs. These are some quasi “jobs” that I often daydream about having, even though I’m sure they’re all far less glamorous than they are in my imagination:

  • Reinforcement trainer, a la Patricia McConnell, Pat Miller, or Karen Pryor. I daydream about this a lot. I’ve even sporadically browse the CCPDT website to read about their testing requirements, recommended reading, and timeline for becoming a certified trainer. I love watching dogs learn and teaching them–and especially their humans–how to shape appropriate or desirable behavior. I still have so much to learn in this area, but I’m looking forward to the trial-by-fire that will be coming our way this summer.
  • Full-time dog walker/runner, a la Lindsey Stordahl. That is one fit and adventurous woman! I say I want this job now, but in reality, I’m not sure how long I would love it, since it calls for being outside regardless of the weather (I can’t believe she does it in Fargo). Mostly, though, I’m up for it, because hardly anything brings me as much joy as walking dogs.
  • Agility trainer/co-competitor. (What do people who do agility with their dogs call themselves?) I am probably not as competitive as most of these people are, but everyone looks like they are having such a darn good time! I love watching agility trials and it’s a nice daydream to entertain, raising up an agility champion…
  • Shepherd. Or a farmer with lots of dogs, I guess. But having a team of dedicated herders at my disposal is also a nice dream.
  • Volunteer in some dog-based therapy program. Dog-assisted therapy is so moving and meaningful to me. I am especially fond of the programs in elementary schools, whether teaching kids how to behave around dogs or being reading partners. I also love the idea of visiting nursing homes. I wonder if I’ll ever have a dog calm enough to do either of those things…
  • Writing the daily blog from the perspective of Martha Stewart’s French bulldogs. OK, maybe not really, but whatever intern has that job has it made! Just hanging out around her estate, photographing the dogs doing silly things, and then writing about it? Yes, please. I’ll take that job.

Do you entertain any dog job daydreams? Or do you actually HAVE one of these jobs? If so, I envy you… in my imagination…

Pup links!

A patient mix tolerates the aspiring dentist. Source: LIFE Magazine.

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

Veterinary Myth-busting Part 2: Feeding Dry Food Prevents Dental Disease. There you have it. I’ve read that kibble doesn’t prevent dental disease in several places, but it was nice to hear it from a blogger’s perspective, too. (Borderblog)

Doca Pet High Tea Feeder. If we do get a big dog (like a GSD), I’m in the market for an elevated feeder. This one is so sleek–and expensive! Sigh. (Dog Milk)

Worth Waiting For: See Scout Sleep Collars and Leashes. This new line of collars and leashes is really beautiful and functional at the same time. I love the simple, bold, geometric designs. (Under the Blanket)

Everyone’s a Critic: Ai WeiWei’s “Sunflower Seeds.” Fern and Theodore are totally bored by Ai WeiWei’s installation. I love it. [Side note: You may recognize Theodore from the cover of Love Has No Age Limit!] (City Dog/Country Dog)

Robert Clark. Photographer Robert Clark’s glamorous studio shots of show-worthy pooches. (Afghan hounds are always the most fun to photograph.) (Pawsh Magazine)

Pomeranian Puppy Refuses to Eat His Broccoli. Oh, the adorable-ness. It’s killing me. Pom pups barely look real. (Best Week Ever)

I was also tagged by Volunteer 4 Paws (formerly Inu Baka). I’m kind of new to the realm of blog tagging, so bear with me; here are my answers. Since I don’t have my long-awaited dog yet, these answers are about me.

  1. Describe yourself in seven words: Opinionated, detailed, organized, cautious, motivated, content, eager.
  2. What keeps you up at night? What if my future dog is evil? What if he/she cannot be trained? What if I fail my future dog? What if my future dog doesn’t love me? And so forth.
  3. Who would you like to be? A fraction of the fullness of the glory of God.
  4. What are you wearing right now? Skinny black jeans, black high-heeled oxfords, terra cotta blazer from the Gap, cashmere blend sweater from Banana Republic.
  5. What scares you? Losing my family.
  6. The best and worst of blogging? The best of dog blogging, specifically, is the wonderfully warm and helpful community I’ve found here. I started from ground zero in my dog knowledge and everyone has been so encouraging to me along the way. Keep that advice coming! I lap it up. The worst of blogging is the nagging feeling that it’s just an exercise in perpetual vanity. I actually feel less that way about this blog, since Doggerel is an educational venture; my personal blog is another matter…
  7. What was the last website you visited? Miss Moss, one of my favorite non-dog blogs.
  8. What is the one thing you would change about yourself? Just one? Well, that I would worry and fear less.
  9. Slankets, yes or no? Yes, if they come with night cheese.
  10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you. Thanks for the tag! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since I started my journey in canine education and look forward to continuing to glean from your wisdom in dog caring, raising, and loving. Your giving heart and insightful nature is inspiring to me!

Pup links!

The prototypical collie/shepherd. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web this week.

Breed-based euthanasia proposed in NC county. This is so horrible that it barely seems real. Cumberland County in North Carolina has a proposal on the docket that will euthanize all incoming GSDs, bully breeds, dobermans, rottweilers, akitas, chows, and Great Danes within 72 hours and not give them a chance to be adopted. There is a petition collecting signatures here; I signed it last night and encourage you to do the same, if you feel so led. It’s hard for me to believe that this kind of egregious breed-based discrimination still exists. But, clearly and sadly, it does. (Examiner)

Puppy at 500 f/s. On a lighter note: This is a beautiful video and an excellent study in canine movement. Directors of an independent film studio, Kamerawerk, made this short film, titled “Afternoon Pleasures,” of their chocolate lab puppy chasing a ball (and other various objects) and it’s lovely and riveting. Sent to me by my friend Maggie. (Kamerawerk on Vimeo)

Judgment Is Easy, Understanding Takes Work. An inspiring and thoughtful post about reserving judgment of our fellow dog owners. It’s something that I have to work on too, even though I don’t have a dog of my own! (Rescuing Insanity)

De-bunking the “Alpha Dog” Theory. Pat Miller, a positive trainer I respect, reflects on why this theory of the “alpha dog” needs to fall by the wayside. This is something I definitely wish all dog owners knew today. It always surprises me how widespread this theory is–even at the shelter. Seasoned volunteers and sometimes staff members use “alpha dog” language to talk about “problem” dogs and I often wish I had enough credibility to speak up about it. (The Hydrant)

Preparing for Your New Pooch. A practical list of guidelines to help one prepare to bring a dog into the home. Even though I’ve read dozens of lists like this one, I always like finding them and comparing notes. (The Inquisitive Canine)

Mismark Case: Australian Shepherd. The canine-loving biologist writes a post on one of my all-time favorite breeds, the Aussie, and examines the different markings and genetic repercussions that occur in the breed. (Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover)

Peter Clark Dog Collages. This artist makes collages of popular breeds from found maps and old stamps. The results are eye-catching! (Dog Milk)

Dog Snout Also Makes Handy Bath Snorkel. This pup has the right idea. (Best Week Ever)