November 24, 2008 Dear Jasmine

This week Jasmine, Sandy’s Poodle, has taken over the column and wishes to answer the burning questions dogs have asked her.

Dear Jasmine,
I’m a Labrador retriever, and I love to play in water, but my humans think this means I should like the stuff with the bubbles they force me into!
How do I make them understand playing in water is not the same as that B-A-T-H thing they keep whispering about? Besides, just when I’ve worked so hard at "getting that smell I like" on me, mom takes me to the groomer and stinks me all up again?Signed,
Bubble Hater

Dear Bubble Hater,
I totally understand your predicament. I too am a water dog and my human doesn’t even have to spell the word, she just gets this “look” and I know what she’s thinking. I do my best to hide from her when that happens.
The best advice I can give you is to get revenge. When you are really good and wet and they get close to you to wash your paws, give a good shake and get them wet too!
That should show them it’s not fun to have water forced on you. After you are clean and dry, run outside and find the nearest mud puddle or pile of manure or better yet, a dead animal and roll all over it! That will make you feel better and smell like the dog you are.
Good luck!

Dear Jasmine,
I’m a Chihuahua and holy frijoles am I having human trouble! My Mamacita got very mad at me. All I did was lift my leg on the new sofa to mark that it belongs to me. She came running after me with a rolled up newspaper! Aye yi yi! I ran out the door to get away! Why is my Mamacita so mad?
Paco the petrified!

Dear Petrified,
For some reason humans don’t understand that dogs, especially male dogs, like to show how macho they are by marking things. Do yourself a favor Paco; mark the area outside of your house instead of inside. If you don’t, you may have a visit to the vet soon for something they call “neutering”. Just trust me Paco…don’t mark in the house anymore.

Dear Jasmine,Why do my mom and dad think that just because I haven't learned something *yet* it doesn't mean that I *can't* learn? It's like they think I can speak English and just choose not to. Will you ask them to put more effort into learning how to speak dog so we can communicate more easily? They totally misunderstand "chewed shoe" language, and "butt sniffing" is simply beyond their comprehensive capabilities, but I'm determined to keep trying! Please help.
Feeling Foreign

Dear Feeling Foreign,
There isn’t a canine in the world who doesn’t relate to you my friend. However, humans are very different. It’s funny, they call us dumb animals, yet they can’t speak dog! I’m the greeter at my house and for some reason; nobody appreciates my “warm nose in your rear” greeting. After all, that’s just like a handshake to them. Dogs sniff, humans shake. Humans can’t help their ignorance. Humor them with an occasional lick on the cheek and wag your tail a lot. That seems to keep them happy.

Dear Jasmine, Why can people can walk around with treats in their pockets and not share with us. We're told to play nice and share, why doesn't this apply to those sweet little round things called "candy"? Why does my Mom say chocolate is bad? She eats it (oh boy, does she ever!)
Signed, Coco the deprived dog

Dear Deprived,
I feel your pain my friend. When they do give you a treat they make your work for it and do tricks. Nobody makes THEM do tricks to eat a piece of candy! Chocolate (the dark bakers kind especially) is bad for us, trust me, you do NOT want to go to the vet after you’ve gotten into the brownies! What they do to you at the vet is much worse than avoiding the stuff.
Dear Jasmine,
Why do humans get so upset at the things we eat? I love “kitty crunchies” from the litter box! They eat stuff that we wouldn’t touch all the time like lettuce, celery, and other stuff that has no flavor.
Cat Lover

Dear Cat Lover,
Humans just don’t get that we like to eat stuff that smells and has some strong odors! What we eat is directly related to how it smells. The stronger it smells, the more we like it! My mom put the litter box up high where I can’t get to it anymore. Darn!
Humans are just simple-minded creatures and we have to learn to live with them. We have to eat boring stuff to keep them happy. It’s a dog’s life.

November 10, 2008 To breed or not to breed, that is the question...

November 10, 2008

To breed or not to breed, that is the question….

So you want a new puppy. You have a certain breed in mind and you comb the newspapers for ads of puppies for sale. You find the breed you are looking for and go to see the puppies. Here's where you have to keep your heart out of things, not easy to do. Who could resist those sweet little balls of fur? You of course, fall madly in love with the puppy, buy it, and take it home. After a while, you think your new best friend needs a best friend of his own kind, and hey dogs are like potato chips, can't have just one! So you go through the newspapers again and find another breeder of another litter of the same kind of breed and it hits you, hey why not get the opposite sex so that we can breed them and have puppies of our own to sell? After all, we bought dogs with "papers", so we can make the most money possible right?
Just what do papers mean?
There are four main breed registrations for most breeds. There may be specific breed registries for rare breeds that the larger groups haven’t recognized yet. It’s “buyer beware” when you’re told the puppy you are buying has “papers.” If you are planning to breed this puppy, you need to know a lot more about it.
AKC - American Kennel Club
Established in 1884, this is the oldest breed club. This is the most well known breed registry and widely accepted by dog shows. This is not to say that if your puppy has AKC papers that its parents are truly AKC dogs. The mother may be, but who is the father? That information is on the “honor” system, which asks if the breeder witnessed the breeding. What if your breeder isn’t honest?
Did you know that more than one male could breed a female in the same heat cycle and she can have puppies from each male? If your dog is a German Shepherd and she is bred to another German Shepherd, and the neighbors Doberman, and to the stray Basset Hound mix, she can have some puppies that are 100% German Shepherd, some that are German Shepherd /Doberman, and some puppies that are half German Shepherd / Bassett Hound mix. You can’t always tell when they are born what you have. Unfortunately as the puppies grow and one has unusually short legs, it becomes apparent!
The papers are a birth certificate only. The person breeding the dogs is the one with the integrity. They have to be responsible enough to ensure the female didn’t come into any contact whatsoever with another dog! At this time, AKC does not require DNA testing on all breeds but it is coming.
UKC – United Kennel Club
Established in 1898, the United Kennel Club is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. More than 60 percent of its 12,000 annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training, and instinct. UKC prides itself on its family-oriented, friendly, educational events. The UKC has supported the "Total Dog" philosophy through its events and programs for over a century. As a departure from registries that place emphasis on a dog’s looks, UKC events are for dogs that look and perform equally well.
Their shows do not use handlers other than the breeder. They focus on form and function, conformation and performance trials. Dogs can be doubled registered AKC and UKC when they meet all the criteria. This club is as reputable as AKC, and is a good registration to have. Again, they do not require DNA testing of all breeds at this time.
CKC- Canadian Kennel Club
This kennel club is in Canada and registers all purebred dogs similar to the AKC. The Canadian Kennel Club is a national, member-based, non-profit organization, incorporated under the Animal Pedigree Act of Canada. It provides registry services for all officially recognized breeds of purebred dogs, provides governance for all CKC approved shows, trial and events. Finally, the CKC is a communication organization informing all people interested in dogs. This CKC is not to be confused with the next kennel club.
CKC – Continental Kennel Club
This organization will register any dog without proof of heritage for a small fee, including mixed breeds and dogs of unknown parentage. They do not require DNA testing for parentage. Dogs that cannot be registered by any other breed registry are often “registered” by the Continental Kennel Club in order to provide registration papers with puppies.
Buyer Beware!
It is buyer beware with any dogs that have any registration papers unless there is DNA testing that proves scientifically, the parentage of the puppy you buy. Registrations are birth certificates and do not guarantee the health, breed standard, or quality of any puppy that it registers. It’s up to you to research the breeder and know your breed standards if you are looking for a purebred dog.
There are numerous genetic disorders that dogs have. If you are buying a puppy, you want to make sure you know the possible genetic disorders that your breed has screening for and that the puppy’s parents, and other generations have been tested and certified free of these disorders.
OFA is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals that test dogs for bone disorders such as hip dysplasia, knee, and elbow disorders that are genetic in origin. You should have testing performed on breeds prone to these disorders before breeding and creating litters. The organization works with your vet for testing, and dogs are graded as to the degree of their fitness and certified so you can breed them. This certification does not guarantee the dog will never have these disorders; however, they won’t be genetic.
CERF - The Canine Eye Registration Foundation is a registry that keeps dogs tests for PRA on file with the breed registries to prove the dogs had testing for PRA and do not carry the gene for it.
Some of the disorders OFA and CERF test for are listed below. In my opinion, ALL breeders should have their dogs tested and certified BEFORE breeding them, and only dogs that pass the test 100% should be allowed to be bred. This would cut down the enormous problems we face now paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars for surgery to repair these problems, not to mention the pain and suffering by the innocent puppies who were born with these defects.
Hip dysplasia
Many large breed dogs develop hip dysplasia in their lifetime, which can be genetic. You can oftentimes manage hip dysplasia with pain medications, and surgery may be necessary to correct the malformation. This disorder is extremely painful and debilitating, and the dog’s quality of life is impaired.
Luxating patella
This is more common in small breeds such as Yorkies and Toy Poodles and its symptoms include, the dog holding up a hind leg to walk, showing lameness, and the knee joint making a popping sound when you lift the hind leg up. This usually requires surgery to correct and you need to make sure the dog doesn’t jump off furniture or spend lots of time jumping and potentially re-injuring the knee. This is a proven genetic disorder, and if the parents of the puppies have the disorder it’s very likely, the puppies will too. This is a painful and very disabling genetic defect.
Growth Plate Problems
Dogs and cats under one year of age have growth plates, which are located near the ends of the bones of the limbs. These growth plates are responsible for the growth of the bones. They are much softer than other parts of the bone, and are more prone to injury and fracture. Growth plates normally fuse and close as the pet matures, usually by age one year. This is a genetic problem and if fracture occurs, surgery is necessary.
Epilepsy can be genetic, due to chemical allergies such as heartworm or flea medication or it idiopathic, meaning they don’t know why the dog has seizures. Usually you can control epilepsy with medication. However, sometimes the seizures become worse as the dog ages, medication no longer helps, and the dog is euthanized.
PRA- progressive retinal atrophy
This eye disorder causes early onset of complete blindness, usually before the age of two. It is genetic and you can have the parents of puppies tested to see if they are carriers of the disorder.
The hearing test known as the brainstem auditory evoked response or BAER test will test puppies for deafness in breeds prone to it. Puppies with hearing parents may still be deaf. It is a genetic disorder that may go back several generations, and it’s related to color. Dalmatians, Harlequin colored and white Great Danes, and English Cocker Spaniels with the roaning or speckles in their coats and merle colors tend to have deafness in the genes. In addition, blue eyes can be a hallmark of deafness, but not always. Deaf puppies are hard to place in homes, and many times the breeder has the affected puppies euthanized after having this test performed.
If you want a particular breed for showing or breeding, or just a quality pet, then you should go to a reputable breeder that shows the breed, knows all of the heredity disorders, and does testing. Backyard breeders don’t do this. Puppy mills don’t do this. Pet stores don’t do this. So do your homework.