September 1, 2011

Doggie Dining to Prevent Canine Hip Dysplasia

Posted in dog ownership, pets at 8:00 pm by Angie Hilbert

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is one of the most common health conditions affecting dogs. In the vast majority of cases, it is a completely manageable, treatable condition. But if you could do something to prevent it in your puppy, wouldn’t you?

The stud fathering my precious fur-baby has a right hip diagnosed with CHD. He has none of the pain or disability sometimes associated with the condition, nor do any of the affected dogs in his pedigree. To strengthen the litter’s genes, Judy our breeder at J&J kennels, is crossing him to a female with excellent hips. But knowing it is possible for a predisposition for CHD to be passed to our puppy, Wayne and I eagerly began to explore environmental factors that could help prevent the development of the disease.

Luckily, Denver Tucker and his fiancé, a veterinarian, Lori Fulco DVM contacted me with a little help. Not only have they researched Tamaskan Dogs and are already familiar with the breed, they also know Judy. Denver and Lori are getting their fur-baby-boy from the same litter Wayne and I are getting our little fur-baby-girl. What a wonderful opportunity to discuss the role of diet in preventing CHD with a vet that not only cares about holistic health and nutrition in general, but is knowledgeable about the Tamaskan breed and is deeply invested in the health of this particular litter. It’s her pup’s litter too. Lori was gracious enough to explore the issue with me at length:

Angie: Let’s start with the basics. What are the nutritional needs of puppies in general?

Lori: Puppies and adults need the same things nutritionally but puppies need them in larger amounts. Growth is a metabolically expensive process. It uses a lot of building blocks. Therefore, puppies use more energy (as calories) on a per weight basis to maintain growth and they need more protein to turn into muscle mass, organs, etc., and minerals (especially calcium and phosphorus) to turn into bone. The food chosen for our puppies should be able to meet all of these needs.

Angie: But our Tamaskan puppies will grow up to be big dogs. Don’t large breed puppies have special needs?

Lori: They do. The nutritional needs of large and small breed puppies mainly differ concerning their growth rates. You see, the skeleton of a large breed puppy, like ours, develops more slowly than that of a small breed. We don’t want them putting on weight faster than their bones can support it. To that end, when compared with a smaller breed, a large breed puppy is typically going to be getting less calories, protein and calcium, on a per weight basis, than a smaller dog. During the growth phase (about the first year) our dogs, should have a body condition score  of 2 out of 5. Round puppies are not a good thing!

Angie: So by careful weight management while they are growing, we can help our puppies’ hips develop normally!

Lori: Absolutely, because CHD is a skeletal disease where the head of the femur doesn’t fit correctly in the acetabulum of the pelvis, nutrition can have a direct impact on whether or not it develops during a puppy’s growth phase. Since a large breed puppy’s skeleton takes longer to grow compared to a smaller dog, you don’t want it carrying around extra weight it isn’t ready to support. This can cause malformations in joints and poor cartilage development.

Angie: And since we know that our puppies’ genetic background can tend toward compromised joint development, this is especially true for our pups, right?

Lori: It’s important that we insure our puppies’ nutrient intake is such that it limits growth to a safe rate for their joints to handle. Large breed puppy foods *should* be formulated with this idea in mind. However, it is still important for us to adjust the amount we feed per day to maintain a healthy weight. This could be more or less than what’s listed on the package.

Angie: Is there any danger that less protein in our puppies’ diet might limit their over-all growth potential or effect their final adult size?

Lori: Oh, not at all! The goal is to provide for controlled growth, not to restrict growth. What you’re effectively doing is matching your puppy’s weight gain to the growth rate of her skeleton. You’re aiming for a lean puppy, certainly not a starved one!

Angie: But what if we do all this and it doesn’t work? If our dogs do develop CHD, is there anything we can do to prevent them from experiencing pain or having physical limitations?

Lori: The major role of nutrition in confirmed cases of CHD is one of weight management. Heavy dogs have to deal with more weight on abnormal joints which results in more pain and discomfort. Keeping our dogs at their ideal weight will help alleviate some of that.

Angie: So the for prevention and treatment both, careful weight management is the key. It sounds like we’ll have to be careful picking out a good kibble. What do you advise?

Lori: The quality of the ingredients will determine the quality of the kibble. The protein source is something that gets talked about a lot. The better the quality of the protein, the easier it will be for our pups to digest.

Angie: So how do I know if my puppy food contains a high quality protein?

Lori: It should come in the form of meat with a name, like “chicken” “turkey” “beef” “salmon”, etc., and not something identified as “byproduct.” And it MUST be some kind of meat, not a grain like corn, wheat, etc. If the protein source comes in a meal form (like “chicken meal”) that’s fine, since a named meat meal is the same thing as the whole meat but with the water removed.

Angie: So a named meat source is the most important thing. But what should I know about grains and carbohydrates?

Lori: If your dog food includes grains (a controversial issue in itself) whole grains are better than gluten or byproducts. And things like rice and potatoes are better than corn.

Angie: What about fat?

Lori: The fat source should come from something identifiable (e.g chicken fat) instead of the generic term “animal fat.” Artificial colors and flavors aren’t necessary. A dog doesn’t care what color its food is and it should be palatable without any additional, man-made flavorings.

Angie: I’ve heard a lot about raw diets for dogs and thought I’d look into it deeper. What should I know before deciding whether or not it’s right for Paka?

Lori: Raw diets seem to be something people love to argue about. Although they do work as a long term diet, they are definitely more challenging to prepare so your pet doesn’t suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Nowadays there are commercially prepared raw diets that take the guess work out of it and save time since all you have to do is thaw the individual serving package. But one thing that does remain a concern is the possibility of contamination.

Angie: So it’s great for Paka and her short digestive system, but I’d have to be careful to protect Wayne and I from contaminants.

Lori: Since there is no cooking, which would destroy bacteria or parasites that might be infecting the meat you’re feeding, it’s important to wash everything that comes into contact with the raw meat (including your hands!) to avoid picking up possible pathogens.

Angie: If it can be dangerous to people, why do so many people promote it so vigorously?

Lori: Many people claim that raw diets solve all kinds of canine health problems, especially those concerning the skin and coat, teeth and GI tract. It’s true that a well balanced raw diet more closely mimics a dog’s natural diet. Of course, individual results may vary, and what works for one dog may not work for another. Anyone who’s considering feeding a raw diet really needs to do their research first so they don’t end up doing harm instead. Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst is a good place to start.

Angie: Are there any other ways to prevent CHD in our puppies? For example, I take a joint supplement to prevent arthritis since both my ACLs are snapped. Would that help our pups?

Lori: If the product contains only glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and your puppy has no underlying metabolic diseases (such as diabetes, for example) then the supplement can be used lifelong with a minimal chance of adverse effects. That said, there haven’t been any studies that have proven that joint supplements will prevent hip dysplasia from developing. Genetics still remains the number one predisposing factor. If our dogs do get CHD, then joint supplements would reduce any clinical signs of hip dysplasia by helping to repair the cartilage in the joint.

Angie: Thanks, that’s a lot to think about. I really appreciate you taking so much time to discuss this with me. I am really grateful for your help and advice.

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August 17, 2011

Checking out our Tamaskan Dog breeder

Posted in dog ownership, dogs, pets, Tamaskan Dog tagged , , at 3:27 pm by Angie Hilbert

Wayne and I are not buying a Tamaskan puppy. We are working with an ethical, responsible breeder to find surrogate parents for Paka, our little fur-baby.

When you look at it like that, it is a game changer. I’m not interested in a good shopping experience. I’m investing in a deeply personal experience that comes with life-long commitments and attachments.

Judy at J&J has a vested interest in our Paka. She welcomes on-going interaction, she is there when I have questions, has asked for updates and pictures after we take Paka home to reassure her she made the right decision in letting us take her. If Wayne and I were to have a life-altering event resulting in the need to re-home our fur-baby, Judy wants “first response.” That is, she wants to be able to take Paka back herself rather than leave her to an unknown individual or (Buddha forbid!) an animal shelter. Responsible breeders keep track of their dogs to be sure that no dog they put on the ground EVER ends up in a shelter or puppy mill.

My visit to  J&J kennels of Virginia was beautiful. The first thing I noticed when pulling up to J&J was the gathering of horses in the well kept pasture. In addition to breeding a litter of Tamaskans every year, Jim and Judy have also been stalwart supporters of the Nokota Horse conservancy. The goal of this organization is to preserve the small, closed population of Nokota horses. These are descended from the herd of Lakota Indian ponies confiscated from Sitting Bull when he turned himself in at Fort Buford. They are living history in blue roan. Like the Tamaskan Dog, there are limited numbers of horses, a breeder of a closed population must look ahead to ensure a future with genetically appropriate crosses for future generations. It’s not enough to just look back to be confident of the health of the cross you are making now.

Jim walked me through the dog-friendly home to the lower level. The room was cool even in the Virginia summer heat but full windows flooded the room with natural light. He had crated the dogs in anticipation of our visit. Each crate had room for it’s occupant to turn around and lay down. The floors of each crate were padded with thick carpet samples and no wire or bare floors. The seven dogs (six Tamaskans and a friendly pit bull) were all clean and well groomed, ready to be presented for introductions.  I’m not comfortable with a breeder keeping more than 10 dogs or having more than 2 or 3 litters a year. Once you get that big, It’s hard to imagine the dogs getting much of a family life with humans. (A possible exception might be the Monks of New Skete. They run a larger operation but each dog is assigned to a single brother who lives with and cares for his one individual dog.) It is personally important to me that my Paka’s parents come from a happy family with lots of human contact and not a “breeding operation” “puppy farm” or “backyard breeder.” A happy, healthy dog makes a confident, successful mother. A lonely, stressed or sick dog, is compromised in her puppy-rearing. Since Paka will learn much about behavior, boundaries and discipline from her mother. I want that mother to be a happy, stable, family dog.

After the initial, excited ruckus, Jim said, “now, you’ll all get to say hello, but not until you’re quiet.” And he crossed his arms across his chest. The dogs looked at one another and settled down. So Jim started letting them out one by one. Each dog greeted Jim as it emerged from their crate. Not lunging or rushing the door, but politely stepping through as it opened. Then they came to investigate me. I offered my hand to each dog. Some pressed into it. Others just sniffed at it. Only Sybil, prefered not to approach. None jumped up on me. After I repeated each name, to be sure I learned it, they trotted to the door and Jim let them out into the kennel yard.

It was wide, spacious and surrounded on three sides with a wooden privacy fence. The fourth side shared a plank fence with the pasture. It had been lined with a wire fence so the dogs could see and interact with the horses without trespassing into the horse pasture.

The ladies, Ruby and Woulfe were the first dogs to approach me. Ruby held back for Woulfe to go first. Woulfe is the matriarch of the pack. The first Tamaskan Dog in all the Americas, she was also the first to greet me. It pleased me that she kept her feet on the ground and did not jump up. But when I squatted down to her level, she did take the liberty of putting her paws up on me and licking my face. Once she took my measure and was satisfied that I was a good egg, she moved oblique to me and Ruby approached.

Ruby is to be my puppy’s mother. I very much wanted to get to know her and learn about her temperament and bearing. She was as gentle as a lamb in wolf’s clothing. Not at all shy, she pressed into my hands almost more like a cat than a dog. I stroked her fur and she touched her nose to my face giving my chin a little lick. She had no objection when I put my arms around her for a hug and she let me, a stranger, touch her feet, ears, head and face without complaint or evasive movements. What a tender and affectionate lady! I could absolutely see why Judy calls Ruby her a “softie-dog.”

Now they all started milling around me. None of them jumped up on me though one or two did raise a foreleg, reaching for me. I was more than happy to reach back. Now, Jethro was to dog to meet! His is a magnificent, wolf-grey dog the color of pewter with amber eyes and a flowing, lupine gait. I watched his movements very carefully. Jethro inherited borderline hips scores indicating canine hip dysplasia from Lobo. In some cases, this results in arthritis ranging from mild to severe. Since Jethro was going to be the father of my Paka, I wanted to look for any sign his hips caused him any sort of pain or limited his movement. Toys were tossed and Jethro leaped. A ball thrown across the paddock which sent all seven dogs galloping full tilt after it. Jethro outmaneuvered and out ran them all to win the prize over and over.

They all galloped the length of the yard, past the outdoor kennels with doors wide open. The kennels are built on a raised concrete platform, covered by a shade net and each unit holds two dog houses and a bucket of water.

I carefully watched Lobo as well. It seemed wise to observe how he managed since his CHD was more pronounced than His son’s. Lobo was running with the pack after the ball. He is an easy-going and relaxed dog. After everyone was tired out, Lobo and Jethro were laying down in the cool damp mulch. Tamaskans love to dig so Jim and Judy provide the pack with an area of soft natural mulch so they can enjoy digging without exposing mud and getting filthy. I thought that would be a good time to examine their hips. The let me handle their legs, back, hips and rear-feet without complaint or evasion.

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a complicated disease. There is a genetic component to the disease but also a strong environmental influence. Careful attention to diet and exercise can go a long way to preventing CHD even in a dog genetically pre-disposed to the condition. CHD is also variable in it’s presentation. Some dogs, only mildly displaced, are afflicted with arthritis pain and limited mobility. Other dogs, severely displaced show no ill effects at all. Since none of the dogs in Jethro’s bloodline display any limitations or symptoms associated with CHD, Judy is hopeful she can continue to develop her kennel’s bloodline with crosses to dogs with excellent hip scores breeding the condition out of her line entirely.

Jethro’s hips are being studied further in compliance with the TDR breeders regulations but she plans on pursuing her goals for her dogs. She is dedicated to preserving the relaxed temperament, amber eyes, gentleness and adaptability of the original Tamaskan bloodline in the USA while crossing always to excellent hip scores to improve the line. Judy will proceed with the breeding while awaiting the results of Jethro’s second hip screening, this one from the British veterinary Association, which is now the only scheme accepted by the Tamaskan Dog Register.

Judy’s decision to breed Ruby’s litter with Jethro is a controversial decision. Members of the TDR committee insist Judy should never breed Jethro and use a stud with passing hip scores or be expelled from the TDR. Committee members recommended “Wave.”

Wave is a young and unproven stud but he has excellent hips. He is also a shining example of everything the Tamaskan Dog is bred to be. Friendly, he plays nicely with others. Intelligent, he loves computers and completed his obedience training at the top of his class. Gentle, he is a therapy dog at Carolina East Medical Center. Helpful, he displays a working-breed eagerness to be useful. Unfortunately… he also happens to be Ruby’s nephew.

Though line-breeding of close relatives is not unheard of in the dog world, it  can have very serious and untreatable consequences. CHD, on the other hand, even when symptomatic, is entirely manageable and treatable. Moreover, Much of Wave’s exemplary temperament, intelligence and gentleness comes from the same pedigree as Jethro’s. In addition to being Ruby’s nephew on his father’s side, Wave is also Jethro’s nephew on his mother’s side. Although the predisposition for CHD is genetically present in in that line, it was not expressed in Wave. This is PRECISELY the kind of breed improvement that Judy is working toward in her carefully considered and planned litter between Jethro and Ruby.

Wave is the example of what happens when you cross the pedigrees Judy is crossing! One parent, with excellent hips from the Scottish Odin line from Alba and the other parent with borderline hip scores from the Woulfe/Lobo line from Prestigious Blustag.

(At the time of writing, another candidate for stud in the USA has hip scores pending but it is unlikely results will be in before Ruby comes into season. Therefore he is not being considered for this litter.)

To confirm my impression, I consulted another of Judy’s references. Due diligence is appropriately my burden, after all. Were the traits of Jethro’s line really so great and valuable that it was worth working with the borderline hip scores to try to improve them? Or was the TDR right and Jethro should be nutered as having nothing valuable to justify working to improve his line’s hips? Another Tamaskan breeder, with experience with Judy’s dogs, was willing to talk with me. I was encouraged to hear that the dog Tarheel Tamaskans got from J&J was the one they considered “top of the line” compared to any other Tamaskan Dog they have known. That dog, Tundra, was full sister to Jethro. Just like Jethro, she did inherit Lobo’s CHD. Like Jethro, she was asymptomatic of hip problems and was an exemplary and beloved model of the breed. She produced a litter with Ruby’s brother, Blaze. That was litter included  Wave, the paragon of Tamaskan dog health and virtue. Clearly, a confirmation that Judy was not alone in valuing the unique and individual traits of Jethro’s particular Tamaskan Dog family. It is worth keeping. With Wave as an example of success in reducing the risk of CHD through breed development, why does the TDR committee not sanction Judy’s decision?

The TDR committee consists of five international Tamaskan breeders. Only two of them are experienced (The developer of the Tamaskan breed and her daughter.) but they have never personally met Judy, Jethro nor Wave. There are also three inexperienced breeders on the committee with only two litters produced between them. Both of those litters were accidental and now, would violate the TDR breeders code (one due to immaturity of the dam, the other due to monorchidism in the sire. though at the time, monorchid studs were permitted by the TDR.) The puppies resulting from both litters were registered though some were registered only after hip scoring as the immature dam also failed her hip testing. Judy’s thoughtfully considered litter, will not be registered. It is not in compliance with the TDR breeding scheme due to Jethro’s hips. In order to achieve registration for future litters, Jethro’s BVA hip scores will have to pass and Judy would have to petition for reinstatement to the TDR and await their decision.

All things very carefully considered, I am confident in Judy’s decision. Her experience, her careful calculation of the risk/benefit analysis of of each cross and her careful consideration of the goals she has for her kennel speak volumes. She is willing to sacrifice her registration for the improvement of her breeding lines.

Though breed club politics is beyond my scope, I am simply grateful that our Paka’s noble pedigree will have no repeated names in the family tree.

July 24, 2011

Raising a puppy ~ Training a dog

Posted in dog ownership, dog training tagged , at 1:47 pm by Angie Hilbert

What do Cesar Millan, Tamar Geller, the Monks of New Skete, and John Bradshaw all have in common?

Not as much as you’d expect!

If you think raising and educating children is a complex and divisive subject, just look at the diversity of advice on raising and training a dog! It is very easy to get confused, not know who to trust, and throw it all away in frustration and just try to muddle through on your own.

But don’t.

There is a story about an unusually thoughtful, remarkably intelligent, and uniquely compassionate young American college student. He spent a summer seeking enlightenment in a zen temple in Japan, living, working, and meditating with the monks there. After a few months, he went home depressed and even suicidal.

When the abbot was asked about it, he said simply that the young man had become depressed when he discovered that he was actually quite ordinary. He left his study in confusion and discouragement, deciding he was too far from enlightenment to ever reach it in this lifetime.

He had stayed long enough to realize there was nothing unusual, remarkable, or unique about him at all. But he didn’t stay long enough to discover that was an important step bringing him closer to enlightenment.

So what has this to do with preparing for the arrival of my furry bundle of joy? If you have read more than one book on dog ownership, you already know.

There are as many philosophies on raising a puppy as there are puppies. There are as many training methods as there are dogs. Finding good advice is both incredibly easy and profoundly difficult.

Cesar is all about dominance and leadership. Tamar Geller is the queen of anthropomorphism. The monks profess to follow the natural order, and John Bradshaw offers scientific information that raises more questions than it answers! Yet I have learned much from each of them.

Sometimes they contradict one another, other times they simply organize the same philosophies in different ways. Like the young American college student in the zen temple, if I had stopped too soon, I would have been depressed. If you read enough dog books, you will quickly arrive at the realization that none of them are ultimately “right.” (some will even directly or indirectly disparage one another.)

But it is in the persistence of learning and reading that each author starts to make their own sense within their own interpretation of the dog’s world. Each under the influence of their personal experience as dog handlers and as human beings.

Cesar raised himself up from his boot straps to a successful and respected “alpha-dog” in his profession against incredible odds. Tamar’s insight to the hearts of her dogs comes from her personal experience walking in a dog’s paw-steps as an abused second-class citizen. The monks find meaning and purpose in their own trusting and obedient relationship to God and find their dogs also experience love in a relationship based on trust and obedience. And John, as a man of science, has tirelessly explored everything science can tell us or explain to us about how our beloved dogs perceive and interpret the home environment we share.

I have studied them all long enough to be confused by the contradictory advice and competing philosophies.  But unlike the discouraged college student despairing of ever finding enlightenment, I have stayed with them to make sense of their separate wisdoms and hope to apply it appropriately and compassionately to my relationship with Paka.

Don’t blindly follow a single philosophy of puppy-rearing and dog training. Fill your well of knowledge with everything you find. The more you learn, the more discerning you will be and the more information you will have to draw from in meeting the needs of your new family member.

 

 

 

 

 

July 4, 2011

Protecting Paka

Posted in dog ownership, dogs, pets, Tamaskan Dog tagged , , , at 10:56 am by Angie Hilbert

It may come as a shock to devoted pet-parents that pet insurance is not a form of health insurance at all. It is a form of property insurance.

Since I think of myself as a pet-parent and not a pet owner, that is a difficult idea to grasp. Legally speaking, my precious girl will be nothing more than chattel. Fortunately, though the law fails to protect or even recognize the “rights” of a pet, there are still legally binding ways of protecting our darling.

The cost of insuring precious property starts with the monetary value of the property. Then it considers the risks to that property. This cold-blooded calculation completely ignores how precious our dogs are to us personally but the protection against difficult financial choices and legal support if the “property” is threatened can be invaluable!

Much is made of the fact that pet insurance for pedigree dogs is more expensive than that of mixed breed dogs. The usual conclusion drawn from this fact, is that mixed breed dogs are so much healthier than pedigreed dogs. Actually, it’s not that simple.

Mixed breed dogs do incur far fewer vet bills. But it is not because their health is so much better. What makes the difference is that owners of pedigreed dogs are statistically more proactive in addressing the health of their pets  than the owners of mixed breed dogs.

This is not to say pedigreed are loved more or that owners of pedigreed dogs are better caretakers. That is clearly not the case. Instead it is a socioeconomic issue. Owners of pedigree dogs tend to have more discretionary income than owners of non-pedigreed dogs. Pedigreed pet-parents also tend to view vet care as “protecting their financial investment.” (back to that “property/chattel” thing again.) Indeed, many pet insurance companies also insure the dog for burial expenses, recovery expenses and even cover claims against a canceled vacation due to a dog’s needs! Pet insurance is not simply “health” insurance at all.

Seeking out and obtaining a pedigreed dog requires more time and money than visiting your local pet shelter for an adoption. Pedigree breeders usually strongly recommend (and a few may actually require) that prospective owners of their pups insure their dogs. Breeder sales contracts also often stipulate that certain health care and tests must be done to contribute to the breed health databases or else the sale is voided. It can be an intensive and expensive thing getting a pedigreed dog from a reputable breeder.

All this means that the pet-parents of mixed breed dogs are, statistically speaking, more likely to be in a lower income range than pedigreed pet-parents. The costs of more expensive treatments for canine illnesses tend to be farther out of their reach.

One of the biggest differences is in the risk of owning an “intact” dog. Sadly, the pet-parents of pedigreed dogs are statistically far less likely to have their dogs “fixed.” There is a rationalization that since the dog was so expensive and comes from such valuable blood-line, they should keep the dog intact “just in case” his/her genes are “needed” in a breeding program. There is also the lure of earning a quick stud fee or always being able to sell a few papered-puppies for a little extra cash if needed. There is little to tempt the owners of mixed breed dogs to keep their pets intact.

Shelter pets and mixed breeds are far more likely to be spayed or neutered. This not only dramatically reduces the risk of developing canine cancer, it makes a dog of either sex far less likely to escape, roam, get into fights or be involved in a car accident. (Why did the doggie cross the road? To get to the mating opportunity on the other side!)

And since pet insurance will limit or exclude coverage for genetic or inherited conditions any way (unless you pay a substantial additional fee, of course) there is little argument for the price difference in pet insurance premiums being because of the genetic superiority of the beloved mutt.  Add to that how pet insurance often covers claims for expenses involved in the recovery of a lost or stolen pet you can see how recovery is far more protracted and difficult for pedigree holders. Pedigreed dogs are far more likely to be reported lost while mixed breeds are more likely to be reported found. (Another good argument for microchiping your pet!)

The final, and darkest reason for an increase in pet insurance costs for pedigreed dogs is: puppy mills. The severe and unhealthy and stressful practices involved in milling dogs with the appropriate papers but without the appropriate health screenings are well known to cause most of the health problems attributed to pedigreed dogs. It’s not genetics. It’s unhealthy breeding practices.

Unlike a reputable breeder who participates in strict genetic testing and health screening before producing a single litter, the for-profit enterprises will invest nothing in health testing. The indiscriminate mating between untested dogs in squalid conditions are responsible for the reputation for unhealthy pedigreed dogs.

Sadly, many people seek a pedigreed dog based on price and convenience. The puppy-mills and turn-a-buck backyard breeders are happy to supply them to individuals and pet stores. This means a great many pedigreed dogs are actually imunosupressed, unsocialized, neurotic, relatively cheep and readily available. There is no way for a pet insurance company to discern between a pedigreed dog from a puppy mill and one from a reputable breeder so it drives up the cost of treating dogs that should never have been bred.

When it comes to our pedigreed Tamaskan Dog from J&J Kennels, Wayne and I are very lucky! We know the diverse blood lines of our pup’s parents, the results of the health testing, and the conditions our little Paka will be born into. So we are assured of her health and stability. But even though she will be a pedigreed dog, the Tamaskan is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club. This means we can enjoy the mixed breed price break on her insurance while the Tamaskan breeding program in the USA becomes more firmly established. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

June 25, 2011

You can’t put a price on love.

Posted in dogs at 9:57 pm by Angie Hilbert

A Tamaskan Dog! We’re actually getting a Tamaskan this winter! Now that we sent our deposit to Judy at J&J kennels for our baby girl, it’s time to make serious plans. Dog ownership is a serious financial responsibility. Few people budget more than the cost of kibble and a rabies shot when becoming pet owners. However, complete care and keeping of a well-adjusted dog requires much more than that.

Now, I’m not talking about a designer pooch-purses or rhinestone collars. (Though if that’s your thing, go for it.) I’m talking about thorough and responsible care when it comes to raising a healthy, happy family member.

Wayne and I plan on taking very good care of our little Paka ESPECIALLY in the all important first year. She will be attended by a carefully screened veterinarian and covered by carefully researched pet-health insurance. We will be feeding her the highest rated all-natural, organic dog food formulated for large breed puppies. We are purchasing durable, high quality equipment and supplies in the larger sizes appropriate to accommodate her expected growth. And we are arranging to meet our social responsibility in regard to license and training to insure she is brought up to be a well-mannered canine citizen of our community.

These are our priorities in pet ownership. Yours might be different and your budget may look different. But as a case study, I’m willing to calculate the expected costs of Paka’s first year given our priorities, preferences and choices. (You mileage may vary.)

PAKA’S FIRST YEAR

$60 new-puppy vet check

$129 core vaccinations and worming

$190 flea/tick prevention (a year’s worth of monthly treatments)

$49 heart worm test

$89 heart worm prevention (a year’s worth of monthly treatments)

$35  microchip

$60 six-month check up

$27 rabies vaccination at 6 mos.

$37 Lyme disease vaccination (We’re outdoorsy folks. Paka will be in the woods and fields with us)

$438 spay (The only reason anyone should breed a dog is to improve the whole breed. AND they better really KNOW what they are doing!)

$100 teeth cleaning

$300 pet health insurance (covers 80% unexpected accidents, injury or illness )

$816 dog food (Orijen, large breed puppy formula because it’s the best.)

$14 dog license

$10 Collar (adjustable puppy type)

$12 id tags (hand-made, copper, with dogwood charm for the puppy collar)

$14 leash (standard 4′ lead)

$56 collar/leash set (full size personalized, engraved clasp and matching 6′ lead)

$79 crate (2-door, puppy divider, collapsible wire)

$215 dog crate table top  (This crate will be part of our living space, not stashed out-of-the-way somewhere. I want it to blend with my home.)

$30 FURminator  (Without a good shedding out during the moult, living with  Paka will be like living in a snow-globe!)

$11 basic grooming brush

$28  tick key (I hate ticks! We will have tick keys in each car, my purse, the first-aid kit, medicine cabinet and my bike bag. Nasty, Gross, Blood-sucking mini-monsters! Did I mention I HATE ticks? )

$23 nail clippers

$10 pet shampoo

$17 urine odor neutralizer

$57 one thousand poop-bags (biodegradable, eco-friendly)

$60 Two nights at Lucky Bones kennel and doggie day care including the “pawsitively spoiled” package. (we have a weekend event to attend next year that is not pet-friendly.)10

$30 Getaway Cabins pet fee (our annual spring vacation to the Hocking Hills is a puppy’s dream vacation!)

$98 dog bed (we had a 25% off coupon!)

$60 bowls (and a designer elevated rack to put them in. I mean, she’s eating in the dining room with us, I don’t want plain ugly tin bowls in my nicely decorated dining room.)

$8 bitter apple spray

$4 ball (durable, high visibility)

$6 squeaky toy

$9 tug toy

$10 kong toy

$9 chew toy

$78 (estimated bully stick consumption for 1 yr.)

$12 stuffed toy

$14 educational treat dispenser toy for dogs  (seriously!)

$80 puppy kindergarten class (start at 4 months old)

$85 basic obedience class (start at 8 months old)

$300 rent increase of $25 per month for having a pet

I’ll save you the trouble of adding it all up. It’s $3,769

And that does not include the payment to Paka’s breeder, Judy at J&J or the cost of travel to go get her. This list represents only predictable and anticipated expenses. I’m sure toys will need replaced as they get lost or destroyed. I’m sure there will be household damage and stains to repair and clean. I’m sure we will find many other useful things we may decide to buy. But this list is a good start for considering the financial responsibility of pet ownership.

Now, what about those items in italics? Well, those are the things we have purchased already. That’s right. With start-up expenses like this, we thought it a good idea to start gathering equipment early. Our little Paka’s mother isn’t even in season until August. We don’t expect our Paka to be born until October and we will wait 8-10 weeks after that to go get her and bring her home with us. But when she gets here, she will find everything is as it should be.

I’m not sure what dogs know or how they interpret their perceptions. But I do know that if puppies have the capacity for discernment, Paka will know she is a welcome and long-awaited addition to our family.

And THAT is PRICELESS!

June 1, 2011

Run with the big dogs!

Posted in dogs at 9:34 pm by Angie Hilbert

Now that Wayne and I have found our breeder and have a general idea of when our Tamaskan puppy will join our family (this winter) we are starting to plan and prepare for her future. It’s not just about finding the right dog. It’s about being the right person.

So let’s talk exercise! Every dog needs it but few dogs get enough of it. In fact, according to Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer” of National Geographic fame, most behavioral problems of dogs in the USA are traced back to lack of exercise. Apparently, most Americans believe dogs need affection. Cesar says dog owners need affection much more than the dog does. What the dog craves at his or her deepest level is exercise. Not just tearing around a back yard. To a dog, that’s just pacing the cage.

Dogs bond through the migration ritual, not the cuddling ritual. You dog longs to express togetherness through a shared walk. A pack of wolves or feral dogs will patrol the home range together as far as they can from their den. A dog needs to migrate, scouting for danger, exploring possible resources and hunting grounds. It’s an instinctive craving to them and an expression of their pack bonding, shared identity and communal interest in one another. Your dog needs to walk with you. A good dog owner will satisfy this basic need of a dog with frequent and regular structured walks.

The Tamaskan takes this drive to a whole new level. This breed is not only large and athletic with the instinctual need to patrol, migrate, and scout the land around their home. The Tamaskan is bred with running in mind. Huskies, Malamutes and Inuit racing dogs combined their DNA to create the Tamaskan. Running and pulling are hard-wired into the Tamaskans’ psyche. Paka will not be happy just walking at heel on a leash around the block. Paka will want, no, need to MUSH!

edit 7-31-11** I am corrected by Debby Stainforth of Sylvaen Tamaskans, a gem among the Tamaskan breeder community who was very generous with her time and knowledge, that Tamaskans have been bred for a reliable recall. Though they are certainly athletic, enjoying running and pulling sports, they are also very manageable on or off lead if trained. Running is a great pleasure to most but many Tamaskans are more moderate in their activity level.  

Fortunately, Wayne and I are already avid hikers and walkers. We live in an apartment complex on park-like grounds with greens, a lake and wildlife. We are also lucky enough to live very close to the access point of our metro-park system with miles and miles of well-groomed, pet-friendly trails. Our local dog-park is only a mile away and our favorite metro-park has another off-leash dog area as part of the grounds.

Paka can count on a structured neighborhood patrol every morning and an afternoon. Then a romp in the dog park after dinner. On Wednesdays she can join Wayne and I at the metro-park for a migration/exploration of a wider area. We usually leave the house right after breakfast, pick a trail and wander until lunch time. Weekends involve another opportunity for hitting the park trails.

But what about the Tamaskn need to pull? Well, Wayne and I think we found the solution! It’s the dog-powered scooter. It’s fit for bike trails and unlike traditional mushing, the dog is harnessed at the rider’s right side, away from over taking or oncoming traffic. The harness will allow Paka to pull from a safe location that does not violate our communities’ leash law. Mushing usually involves a dog pulling way out in front of the handler. On the metro-park trails, a dog cannot be on a leash longer than six feet. The regulations also stipulate that bicycle riders, roller bladders and the like, must not take up more than one lane of the paved trail. The scooter harness will keep Paka hitched at a close heel but she can still run and pull in her traces to her heart’s content! If she gets tired, Wayne or I can kick the scooter to help roll it along and pull our own weight, just like a musher might run behind or even help push a dog sled.

Since Wayne and I only plan on getting one dog, we went shopping for a bicycle today. This way he and I can take turns riding the dog-scooter and the bike so we all three of us get the exercise we need.

So, now it’s your turn. How do you exercise your dog? How do you use the walk as a bonding ritual? How do you satisfy your dog’s personal or breed specific instincts and needs?

May 26, 2011

What’s in a name?

Posted in dog ownership, dogs, pets, Tamaskan Dog at 11:42 am by Angie Hilbert

Wayne and I have decided to name our Tamaskan “Paka.” She’s not even conceived yet, but her name has been waiting for her for over 40 years!

My husband has been fascinated by Native American culture since childhood. He spent his early years “playing indian” all over the world. From England, where he was born, to Germany, to Holland then, finally to the USA. It was here, in 1970, that he happened to watch a TV program involving an Inuit boy and his wolf-like sled dog “Paka*”

From that day on, when he played at being a Native American boy, there was an imaginary pet wolf at his side, named “Paka.” What other name could we even consider for our Tamaskan?

Of course, that’s just her call name. Her kennel name will be something more grand and creative. Traditionally, when a breeder produces a litter, he or she gives the pup an identifying pedigree name that reflects the dog’s lineage, ancestry and kennel of origin.

For example “J&J Moonstruck Tundra at Tarheel” was the registered name of an important dog in Tamaskan history. She was from the first litter born in the American continents. “J&J” is the kennel where she was born. “Moonstruck Tundra” is the unique registration name. No other Tamaskan Dog can be registered with the same name. “At Tarheel” is an optional suffix that indicates that she was either fathered by a dog from Tarheel kennel or (as in this case) went to Tarheel kennel to join their breeding program.

This particular dog was given the call name “Tundra.” But not all call names are derived from the kennel names. For example, Tundra’s mother was “Blustag Menominee Owl” but her call name is “Woulf”

Traditionally, whoever registers the litter, provides the registry name. Many breeders have a naming system so breed enthusiasts can easily identify a show dog’s pedigree just from it’s name.  For example, Blustag Kennels UK, has a Tamaskan family with names of wild animals. like “Dingo” “Jackal” and “Bear” and  another set of litter-mates have names with a river theme, “River Jordan,” “River Phoenix,” and “River Rising.” Following a theme helps owners and breeders identify one another more easily. Other kennels are even more structured, following an alphabetical system where each litter’s dogs receive names beginning with the next letter. “Alvin” “Alice” and “Abby” this year. Then “Betty,” “Boomer” and “Boris” next year. But this gets trickey because no two dogs can ever be registered with the exact same name. So “Betty” becomes “Betty’s Blessing” and “Alice” becomes “Alice is Wonderful.”

If you register your dog yourself, with the AKC (edit 7-31-11) you will likely get to pick the registry name. Though usually, your breeder’s sales contract will stipulate that you must use the appropriate kennel prefix when doing so. If you plan show your dog, you would want to do this anyway to reflect her heritage.

(edit 7-31-11) In the case of our Paka, The Tamaskan is not an AKC or UKC recognized breed so The Tamaskan Dog Register maintains the only registry of pedigreed Tamaskan Dogs. The process is somewhat more complicated and subject or modification upon committee deliberations depending on the specific situation.

May 22, 2011

We found our breeder!

Posted in dog breed selection, dog ownership, dogs, pets, Tamaskan Dog tagged , , , , at 12:16 pm by Angie Hilbert

The most beautiful email arrived in my in box! Judy of Double J Kennels invited me to call her about a Tamaskan breeding she is planning late this summer. Several phone calls and emails and a letter later, she is willing to accept us as a home for one of the pups. We are not, of course, the only interested candidates. She fields many inquires through email, her facebook page, and face-to-face.

If mother nature follows her expected schedule, our prospective mother, Ruby will come into season mid to late August, Whelp in October and Pups will be ready to go home in late December.

How do we know we can trust this breeder? Judy, her husband Jim and their kennel “J&J” has the unique distinction of being the home of the first breeding pair of Tamaskans in the USA as well as the home of the first Tamaskan litter born on the American continent.

In 2005, a pair of litter mates from Lynn at Blustag Kennels in the UK   arrived in the USA as the first Tamaskans imported to America. One, Blustag Menominee Owl, called Woulf,  went to live with Jim and Judy at J&J. The following year, Blustag River Rising, called Lobo, arrived from Finland to complete America’s first breeding pair.

It was June of 2007 when Woulf and Lobo produced the first Tamaskan litter born on American soil.  The following year, Woulfe and Lobo produced another litter but both had to been delivered cesarean section. Judy made one final effort to breed Woulfe for the specific purpose of reducing her uterine scar tissue in an attempt to preserve her line. It was a controversial decision, and Judy decided it was not worth it. Woulfe was spayed immediately upon cesarian birth of that final litter. All the puppies were spoken for and Judy was under contract to give them to their new owners. Fortunately, one pup from that litter was reclaimed, Jethro.

After being sold, Jethro’s new family experienced some personal hardship. To cope, they would run and exhaust the puppy so he would be too tired to get into any antics at home. Unfortunately, Tamaskans, like most large-breed athletic dogs, need carefully moderated exercise as puppies to prevent hip damage. Hip dysplasia has a strong genetic factor that determines predisposition for the disease, but also a lifestyle factor that can often determine how or even if symptoms ever develop. Like people and heart disease, genetics and lifestyle intertwine in complex and sometimes unpredictable ways. When damage was discovered, the family returned the pup to Judy.

“That’s how we came to keep Jethro, once he came back, I said ‘that’s it. He’s not for sale.”

Under Judy’s care, Jethro made a full and vet-documented recovery from juvinile arthritis and grew into an exceptional dog. He has the tolerant, easy-going temperament Judy can claim as the pride of her kennel.

“My dogs handle people and commotion really well. I can put them out with anyone, they love people and get along with other animals. I’m breeding for temperament more than anything else.”

But Jethro also has the unusual light amber eyes so coveted by Tamaskan breed enthusiasts. He also has the full, straight bushy tail and a true wolf-gray coat the color of pewter. He became a handsome dog. Upon maturity, he took over stud duties at J+J. This would ensure the continuation of his honorable pedigree as the original Tamaskan bloodline in the USA.

But there was a risk. Unlike older, more traditional dog breeds, Tamaskan breed development started during the scientific age of genetic testing, x-ray and hip score science. Thanks to seamless international communications and electronic data exchange, the Tamaskan Dog Register coordinates an aggressive initiative to actively prevent the Tamaskan breed from suffering the fate of many pedigreed dog breeds. What if hip dysplasia, a common but potentially crippling disease, could be bred out of the Tamaskan? Why not do the same for  seizures, degenerative myelopathy and other genetic health risks? This is the goal of the TDR health database.

In their efforts to prevent health problems in the Tamaskan breed, all registered Tamaskan breeders have to send genetic health screenings and hip x-rays of their breeding dogs for official OFA scoring. Any dog with even one hip scoring higher than 18 for hip dysplasia would not qualify to have his or her litter registered at birth, discouraging breeding of high scoring dogs. No matter how pure the pedigree or how perfect the confirmation to breed standard or how ideal the temperament. Pups from these dogs would have to wait until they reached maturity and would only be registered after they presented good hip development. Jethro’s x-rays scored his right hip at 19, one point outside of the accepted range.

“When I sent the x-rays in, I was feeling pretty good. My vet said they looked ok and should pass. When they came back and one hip was no good, I was not happy. I really thought he was going to make it. Now instead of having a registered litter, anyone who wants to register one of his pups, has to have the pup  x-rayed at 1 year.”

(edit 7-31-11) Debby Stainforth of Sylvaen Tamsakans  and the TDR committee confirms that there is a precedent where pups born to a dog with a failing hip score were accepted for registration following TDR committee deliberations pending acceptable hip scores at 1 year. But if the dogs involved are to be considered for breeding, official hip scores must be submitted to the TDR when the dog is two years old. She also informs me that the OFA hip scoring system is no longer recognized by the TDR for registration or for sanctioning breeding. Instead. All Tamaskans breeding stock around the world mustr have x-rays submited directly form their local veterinary radiologist to the British Veterinary Association for evaluation according to their hip scheme. This is a second chance for Jethro! Judy is making arrangements for him to be re-scored by the BVA.

Now Jim and Judy had a serious dilemma. The TDR committee does have a history of sanctioning exceptions under special circumstances, but the stakes were high. Crossing Jethro to a dog with strong hip scores could preserve his line for future generations while breeding out the tendency toward borderline hip scores. With Canine Hip Displasia being a multifactorial trait (controlled by many genes, not a single gene.) controlling CHD through selective breeding has come into question among many breeders and breed clubs.

Judy, considered carefully; Jethro carries many highly prized traits and characteristics. His blood line includes the YouTube celebrity “Loo-loo” uncommonly graceful, tolerant quick and intelligent, the startling “Gracie” with her uncanny wolf-like resemblance, yellow eyes and problem-solving intelligence , and “Tundra” who is famous among Tamaskan enthusiasts for her conformity to breed standard.

Moreover,  Judy’s work with the Nokota Horse Conservancy, preserving the genetic viability of a closed population of Nokota horses in the US, taught her much about the importance of looking ahead, as well as behind, in breed planning. It is the breeder’s duty to insure that future generations of Tamaskan Dogs did not become a homogenous population and that genetically appropriate lines of unrelated dogs were preserved intact for future breeding crosses.

There was only one solution to find a mate for Jethro. Judy turned to her friends across the Atlantic and imported Ruby from Liz at the Alba kennels in Scotland, This bonnie lass represented a new blood line on this continent. Wrapped in the distinctive, almost regal, red-gray coat inherited from her father, Ruby developed into a remarkable dog. She does have a tail that tends to curl a bit when she gets excited. This is no concern to a family wanting a pet, but it is considered a flaw according the Tamaskan breed standard. But to Judy, a breeder,whose primary interest is first temperament, second breed integrity and health, with appearance last, Ruby was a precious gem!

“She has nice, graceful movement, a stunning red-gray coat and I call her my ‘softie-dog.’ She likes to cuddle up and press against you instead of jump up into your lap.”

And – she had excellent hips! No dog is perfect in all characteristics. This is why careful breeding is so important.

“We’re trying to correct faults through our breeding not strengthen them.” Says Judy.

In considering a Ruby-Jethro cross Both dogs have some remarkable contributions to make to future generations. Jethro has light eyes, high intelligence, and a straight tail. Ruby has her stunning coat, grace and gentleness and her fine strong hips. Would their strengths balance out one another’s weaknesses? These are the tense decisions ethical breeders struggle with over each litter they plan, balancing their fears with their  hopes. At stake, is the very future of the breed.

In October or 2010, a Jethro-Ruby litter was born. The gentle Ruby proved herself an excellent mother.

“I woke up when I heard this squeak.  And when I went out into the kitchen, there were a couple of puppies born already. She did everything herself, I just kind of sat there and dried off puppies.”

The Ruby-Jethro cross was highly successful producing beautiful puppies with exemplary temperament and beautiful features.

Judy was thrilled with the pups. She is even keeping one as a future potential mother “ a lot of the pups got the light eyes.”

But it will still be a few months before any of the pups are old enough to have any preliminary x-rays done for hip screening. Now Judy is planning Ruby’s next litter. She loved the pups she produced with Jethro. But there are other potential stud dogs to consider. Each with his own set of risks and advantages to weigh.

At publication, Judy has not decided on the sire for Ruby’s litter this fall. But after talking with her and witnessing her mindful contemplation and hearing her frank, sincere and down-to-earth analysis of each dog’s strengths and weaknesses, I am confident I can trust her decisions and instincts. I respect her honesty and disclosure.

If your breeder is reluctant to talk about their breeding program, or can’t identify any weaknesses in her dogs, I recommend finding a different breeder.

Wayne and I have sent our deposit on a female of Ruby’s next litter. We now have first pick of Ruby’s female pups this fall.

I am planning a trip to North Carolina and Virginia next month for the National Tamaskan Club of America’s Round up and visiting J&J kennels personally. I will meet Judy, Ruby, Jethro and even see other candidates for our pup’s father.

Our baby girl Tamaskan isn’t even a twinkle in her daddy’s eye yet. We don’t even know in which daddy’s eye to look for a twinkle. But she already has a place in our hearts. And regardless of her parentage, one thing is for certain. We will be very careful of her developing hips!

Is it too early to buy her THIS? (just kidding)

*** UPDATE*** August 7, 2011

Judy has decided Jethro will be the stud for Ruby’s fall litter. Details surrounding her decision will be discussed in an upcoming post.

May 15, 2011

The search begins.

Posted in dogs at 3:39 pm by Angie Hilbert

There are so few Tamaskan breeders, it would be easy to contact all of them. But I decided I needed a breeder from the USA that was recognized by the National Tamaskan Club of America It is important to me to be able to visit the kennel, see the parents and, when the time comes, pick out my puppy after watching their behavior instead of just looking at cute pictures. Though my career has been good to me, trips across the Atlantic for this would be logistically and financially prohibitive.

Of course, many breeders have started using web cam technology to assist out-of-state and foreign clients in puppy selection and kennel visitation without exposing vulnerable dogs to disruption and disease. But as much as I would be GLUED to this kind of web stream while waiting for my pup, I still want to be there for three important things.

1. Meeting the breeder and parents in person before breeding.

2. Observe the puppy behavior when they are 4-5 weeks to select my little girl based on personality, not photography.

3. Pick up the darling and take her home personally.

Though UK and European breeders with full recognition from the TDRwill sometimes export to carefully screened USA and Canadian families, I’m not thrilled about picking up a dog I never met from a breeder I never met after a grueling trans-atlantic flight in the hold of an airplane. Additionally, many UK and European breeders have tightened their already strict standards since a puppy-mill in the USA, posing as an individual, got a lovely dog from the prestigious Blue Stag Kennel in the UK and proceeded to cross-breed her backwards with dogs once used early in pre-Tamaskan breed development (instead of breeding forward to strengthen the health, temperament and unique look of the Tamaskan dog.) There is even evidence that he used wolf hybrids in his breeding program as well.

Since these dogs in no way conform to the Tamaskan Dog Registry’s strict breeder ethics or Tamaskan breed standard, he invented his own club and keeps a registry of his own dogs and markets them as “registered American Tamaskans.” It’s kind of like declaring your back yard your own country and printing your own money. When duped customers contact the official Tamaskan Dog Register, they discover they don’t have a Tamaskan at all.

Ruling out this breeder left me with 4 people to contact. Upon investigation, two of them are still awaiting their Tamaskans to reach full maturity and development so they can undergo the strict health screenings required before being TDR sanctioned to breed. The two actively breeding kennels are Double J Tamaskan Dogs, home of the first breeding pair of Tamaskans in the USA and Tarheel Tamaskan who produced “Tuffy” the live mascot of NCSU.

Best of all, though both kennels are out-of-state from me, these breeders are only six and ten hours away by car. Easily within reach of weekend road-trips. Now, let’s see if either of them will accept Wayne and I on their wait lists!

Wish me luck!

May 14, 2011

An open letter to my neighbor’s puppy.

Posted in dog ownership, dogs at 1:36 pm by Angie Hilbert

Hello little sweetheart in 205, this is Angie in 211. We have never met but we share a bedroom wall.

I hear your owner’s arguments with his girl friend. I hear him playing video games while talking to other players on the phone. I even heard him when he threatened to spank his girlfriend’s son because he was wound up at bed time on Christmas Eve. (Whatever his strengths, apparently he is not a patient, wise or understanding person.)

Rest assured I’m not eavesdropping with a stethoscope to the wall. I am just laying peacefully in my bed trying to sleep while you and your owner’s life comes crashing through the wall at me.

Now Precious, none of this is your fault I don’t blame you at all and I like living with you in our building. I also know that none of this is any of my business. . . except, of course, that your owner throws his personal life at me through the wall and imposes his business on me against my will.

Lately, I’ve been startled awake by his harsh, angry voice in the early morning. You are such a good boy (or girl.) You try so hard to communicate with him. How it must try your patience. After a long night in your crate, you need to pee early in the morning. I hear you try to tell him so but instead of being a responsible pet owner and meeting your most basic and simple needs, he will either

A: kick and rattle the your crate

B: yell “no” and “shut up” a few dozen times

C: get up, stomp over to our crate, take you out and hit you!

Now, this is very important darling. I know that what he is doing is just teaching you to stop trying to tell him when you have to pee or poo. I know it makes sense to just stay quiet and do your best to make your mess in out-of-the-way places like closets, corners and shoes. You are right. That way it’s done quietly, without his help and out of the way. But trust me, Sweetie, he will not appreciate your quick thinking and courtesy. He will accuse you of hiding  the mess just to spite him. He won’t understand that really you are striving to accommodate his wishes and serve him. He might even cram your nose in it and hit you anyway. So please keep trying to tell him when you need to go out, even when he is angry. And I promise, any time I hear him hit you, I will hit the wall at him and rattle his crate a little. Maybe it will teach him to be responsible for you and take care of your basic needs quickly and courteously.

Hang in there, little one. I believe in you. I just set a DVD about good puppy training and housebreaking outside your door for your owner. I also included a copy of this letter so he can read it to you.

Love,   Angie

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