12-18-09 Reach out and touch

Reach out and touch

Has Christmas snuck up on you this year? I’m told it’s a sign of aging when the months go by so fast you can’t keep up. It’s been an emotional year. I’ve attended more funerals than ever, and lost so many dear ones to me I’m still in shock. Maybe that is why Christmas is so hard for me to get into the spirit of this year. I’ve never been good at sending Christmas cards, if you get a Christmas e-mail from me, consider yourself lucky!
Last night I started having dreams of clients that have moved away, and then I received a nice Christmas card today from one who moved to Texas. I think of them whenever I see a Yorkie, and they think of me whenever they get their dogs groomed.
This must be a “sign” to get back in touch with those we’ve lost touch with. Of course that is going to be one of my resolutions this year. I’m thankful for the “facebook” website and being able to see what everyone is up to on there. If they don’t have a computer, well then it’s going to be a little bit harder for me. I am bad about writing letters, sending cards and returning phone calls. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I’m easily distracted and time runs away from me faster than I can keep up, and by the time I look at the clock, it’s too late to return calls. Okay, so I’ll call it what it is. I don’t MAKE time to do those things. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to break. Unfortunately, I have a lot of bad habits I want to break.
I know I’m not alone, lots of people want to make their lives a little less chaotic and hectic, and change is usually a good thing. This year has been very hard on so many people and their pets. The number of pets coming into shelters and rescue is steadily rising and it’s harder than ever to find good homes for the pets that need one. People have lost jobs and homes and the family pet usually gets the brunt of it.
So if you are among the fortunate, and you have a secure job or income, and your home isn’t in jeopardy, consider adopting an older pet this year. Puppies are wonderful of course, but everyone wants puppies and kittens and once they are grown, nobody seems to want them. No pet will love you like a rescued pet. I speak from experience. Every rescued animal I’ve ever had has been the best behaved, easiest to deal with pet. Once they are mature, you don’t have the usual puppy issues of chewing up your stuff, or potty training. A pet that has been in a reputable rescue has been in foster care and they can tell you all about their temperament and quirks. Most rescues, the vet work has already been done so you won’t have the expenses of spaying and neutering, vaccinations and heartworm testing. The best Christmas gift you can give is the gift of a loving secure home to an animal in need, and there are so many in need!
If you can’t make room at your Inn, consider helping a neighbor or relative with their pet. Offer to walk their dog for them, run to the grocery store or feed store for pet food, and check up on them. Elderly folks rarely have a lot of family and friends to look in on them. Be a Christmas angel to them and reach out and offer your help. Little things mean so much. Go on and be brave, knock on their door and ask them if you can run an errand for them or help them out in any way. They will appreciate that someone cared enough to ask, and the feeling you will get from truly giving of yourself is amazing.

12-7-09 Life and Loss

Life and Loss

Just when I thought life couldn’t throw me any more curves, it does. My cat Dixie passed away, thankfully in the loving arms of her vet Dr. Cathy Alinovi on Thanksgiving Day. It was unexpected, and a huge shock to me. I hadn’t planned on her dying, I fully expected her to rally and come home. We still don’t know exactly what the cause was, she was in renal failure but she didn’t seem to be having any real trouble with it. I figured I’d have at least a couple more years. She was only 10.
Of all the pets I’ve lost, this one seems to have hit me the hardest. Maybe it’s because of all the build up of stress, or just that it was such a shock but I really took it hard. I’m still in a funk and can’t seem to get myself back on track. This is also the first pet I have had an individual cremation for. I’ve always either buried my pets or had a group cremation at the vet for them, but I couldn’t seem to do either of those, so I opted for an individual cremation.
I didn’t know what to expect, since I haven’t had any experience with it before, so I called on some friends of mine who have been there and had it done, and got their opinions. I was glad they were able to ease my mind a bit, and convince me that it’s normal to feel the way I do. They explained to me how they had several little boxes and urns around their own home of pets they’ve lost before. Funny, I guess I hadn’t really noticed it before.
I had a lot of silly questions, for instance in my house what “if” one of the other pets would knock off the box of ashes? What then? Do you sweep it up; toss it out with the dirt you swept up with it? I could see all sorts of horrible scenarios happening. Well I found out the ashes are sealed up in a bag inside the box, so that alleviated some anxiety.
I’ve always thought that when you sprinkle someone’s ashes in their favorite spots, it was a sweet and memorable gesture, the problem is Dixie’s favorite spot was my lap. That didn’t sound like such a good idea. I guess if you grow up unaccustomed to cremation, you tend to let your imagination get out of hand.
So what’s the first step? Well for me, since I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with her, I called up Bob Maus who was kind enough to walk me through the process, and in fact, is gracious enough to handle pet cremations through Hippensteel funeral home in Lafayette. He went to the vet, picked up Dixie for me, and took her into Hippensteel’s for me. He also goes back and returns her ashes to me. They come in a beautiful carved wooden box. Bob went over and above for me as well, and at my request clipped a little fur for me to keep. I would’ve clipped it myself, but he was kind enough to know that I really didn’t want to see her that way as my last memory, and he offered to do it for me.
I learned there is cremation jewelry too, little necklaces and trinkets to keep a smidgen of hair or ashes in for lasting “close to the heart” memories, to help you heal. I learned that there are all sorts of memorial things you can do with ashes, for instance there are places that can turn ashes into diamonds! Yes, it’s expensive, but wow what a neat lasting memorial that would be. There are artists that will incorporate ashes into paint and paint a memorial for you. There are artists that will incorporate ashes into clay and make pots out of them. It may sound kind of strange to some people, but I can see why that makes sense, and can bring peace, from ashes to art. Not such a bad idea. Of course I had to order a memorial stone from Nathan Maus, who has a wonderful line of pet memorial markers he can make for a very reasonable price.
I’ve drawn a picture of her; made a “you tube” video of her photos, ordered a wooden cut out painting of her, and cried my eyes out almost daily since Thanksgiving. Then I felt guilty I didn’t do that much for the other pets I’ve lost. I loved them too! I think when you lose a pet unexpectedly it hits your harder. When they are older or sick, your mind has more time to process it. You will still grieve, but it seems like when you aren’t expecting it, you are really thrown for a loop. The kids had a hard time with it, simply because they didn’t get to say goodbye.
I also know that the grief process is different for everyone, and we all deal with it in our own time and ways. While some people hardly act affected when their pet dies, others fall apart and into a deep lasting depression, completely unable to function. Then they feel guilty that they are so deeply mourning a pet and didn’t mourn the humans in their life so badly. I think that’s because pets are like children to us, they depend on us, don’t talk back to us, and give us unconditional love. They don’t hurt our feelings like humans do; they just want to be there in your presence. When we hurt, they don’t tell us to just “get over it”, they come up to us, concerned, they lay with us and give us the sad, understanding eyes when we are full of sorrow and a little kiss to make it all better. I think that is what I’ll miss most about Dixie, she was my little lap magnet, if I sat down she was on my lap, as if to say, finally you’ve slowed down and rested, let me keep you here a while.
I’m not in the market to replace her; I have plenty of critters to deal with now as it is. But there will be a deep hole in my heart just for her, and with all the billions of cats in the world, there was only one Dixie, and for that I’m grateful I’ve shared the last 6 years with her.

November 10, 2009 Feasting on Thanksgiving

Feasting on Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving! What a wonderful holiday! It brings to mind all of our blessings and that which we are thankful for. The feast of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie! My mouth is watering just writing this! If your pets are anything like mine, and you are having Thanksgiving at your house, you may want to take a few precautions.
If you are having company and your pet isn’t really comfortable with company, please give them a space of their own, in a room of their own or in their crate where they can feel safe from the noise and activity going on. Nervous dogs and noisy crowds aren’t good combinations.
The smell of food is so tempting for your pet; you know they are bound to be underfoot waiting for you to drop a few morsels for them. Make sure your pet isn’t in your way while you are cooking or serving, nothing like tripping over the dog and dumping the turkey platter on the floor to make you re-think your blessings. Put your pet in a safe place away from the kitchen and dining areas until you are finished. Then you can share a few leftovers with them.
Here is what is normally okay to share with your pet, turkey, potatoes, veggies, but not in huge quantities. Most pets will gorge themselves if you let them on the good stuff. What is NOT okay to share with your pets are cooked turkey bones, or any cooked bone for that matter, cooked bones tend to splinter and your dog may not be lucky enough to pass them easily. You also don’t want to have to rush your pet to the emergency vet on Thanksgiving. Raw bones, oddly enough don’t splinter and if your dog can chew it, those aren’t so bad. Also on the no-no list are grapes, raisins, onions, garlic and chocolate. Those foods can be toxic and deadly to your pet!
Which brings me to my next point, large dogs, agile smaller dogs and cats are experts at getting to your food no matter how high you think it is safe from them. We have learned at our house, that as soon as you cook a meal, you better put it in the microwave or oven until you are all done otherwise you will have critters getting at it!
Jasmine is an expert at opening things and getting high enough to reach whatever she wants. It’s hard to break a bad habit when you aren’t in the room to catch them. She would never do these things in my presence, but if I go to answer the phone, or leave the room however briefly, she will go for it.
Luckily pumpkin pie isn’t toxic to dogs, that I know of, because just a couple of weeks ago, my husband, so happy from his trip to the IGA to get some food, got a hankering for pumpkin pie and bought one and baked it. The smell of the pie swirled around the room and I remember warning him when he took the pie out of the oven and put it up on the stove, that isn’t a good place for the pie. He of course scoffed at me, saying there was no place else to put a pie to cool, it would be fine.
I was envisioning kitty cat paw prints going through the pie since cats can jump up on counters. Luckily the cats were busy doing other things and didn’t go near the kitchen. The phone rang and I went to answer it, it was my mother long-distance and I sat down to chat with her and we were having a great conversation when I heard the yelling; “Mom! Jasmine got into the pumpkin pie!” and then heard my husband yelling and doors being slammed, chaos had erupted. So much for a lovely Sunday meal, half the pie was gone, the other half now in the trash, sigh. I told him that wasn’t a good idea. One day he’ll learn to listen to me.
I can’t wait until someone invents a pet proof kitchen. Until then, like I’ve always said, dogs are like children. Just like a 2-year-old child but FOREVER! You cannot leave them outside on their own, or with tempting things in their sight. They are bound to get into things just like kids. You have to watch them, or put them someplace safe until you are done. We have lots of places to put the dogs with gates to keep them out of rooms, but nobody did it. I can’t blame the dog for doing what she did, she’s a “toddler” but if the person supervising the toddler doesn’t make sure the toddler doesn’t get into things, then whose fault is it?
This dog is amazingly smart, and cunning! She can open cabinets and eat the food in them that are in boxes. She can open the refrigerator too, and pulls out leftovers and shares them with the other pets. She can open the trash cabinet too, and has been known to close it after the cat has jumped in to feast on the garbage, trapping the cat inside it.
I’ve actually installed cabinet locks and alarms for the fridge to scare her away from it. So much for tossing out the baby-proofing items from the kids, now I have to get more. I was so glad when the toddler years were over, sigh.
Here is another suggestion, one I should heed. Exercise your dog thoroughly before you have company or plan a large meal. A tired dog is a good dog! I’m not talking a little walk. I mean RUN that dog, wear them out! Make them so exhausted that all they can do is collapse on the living room floor when you get home. Enlist the aid of the younger members of your family to wear Fido out. I’m sure that would help out Jasmine and her antics. Like I tell her, “good thing you’re cute”.
I am still thankful I have a smart dog, albeit too smart at times. .
So count your blessings this year, for they are many, and keep an eye out for your pets, no matter how mad you get, you are still thankful for their company.

October 31, 2009 When It Rains, It Pours

When it rains, it pours.

I don’t know what it is about bad news, but as they say it always happens in three’s, well the past couple of weeks have been rough, I lost a dear friend, one of my friends lost a sister, and one of the sweetest dogs in the world died. I’ve been very depressed.

Then I have had clients with bad news, missing dogs, lost dogs, and a lost cat all in one day! I put out an S.O.S. to all the rescues and contacts in the areas the pets were missing in hoping somebody might spot them. So far, I haven’t heard much.

Now you all may think I’m crazy, (and some of you can confirm it) but I have met a person who is a “Natural Health Consultant for Body, Mind and Spirit” She specializes in herbology, kinesiology, body work and flower essences. Her name is Stacy Lowe and she lives in the Greencastle area, but comes to Waveland on Wednesdays. The amazing thing about Stacy is that she has a gift, she is an animal communicator. What that means is that she is sort of a psychic for animals and can give a reading on what is going on with them emotionally and even physically.

I’ve seen her work on animals and I am of course, ever the skeptic, but willing to keep an open mind. She did readings on my animals and although I didn’t find out anything really earth shattering, what she told me made perfect sense and I took it to heart. I’ve seen her do some work on animals that were suffering and she eased their pain. She does everything “prayerfully” and gives God credit for her gifts, and encourages her clients to pray and have faith as well.

Well, one of my clients who has 2 dogs missing called her to see if Stacy could help her find her dogs, Stacy told her the dog was 1 ½ miles northwest of her house, gave her some identifying markers and my client looked there and she found one of them! She was exactly where Stacy told her! Even my client’s husband was impressed! (You know men, if their wife calls an animal communicator to find a missing dog; he thinks his wife is off her rocker). Imagine the surprise when it worked! The other dog at this time is still missing but Stacy keeps “seeing” her within ¼ mile of the house. So I’m sure as I write this my client is busy searching that area.

The amazing thing is that all of this was done over the phone and she read through my clients vibes. She didn’t have a photo to look at, and Stacy can do readings by looking at your pet’s photo, so they can be emailed to her and phone readings are possible.

After hearing about her success in finding one dog it made any skepticism I had before go away. I am impressed!

I know there are psychics out there and many are truly gifted, I’ve had one give me a reading that was so right on it was scary! I myself have had some “visions” myself before that were after the fact, but amazingly accurate. I think most people have a little psychic ability but it’s not usually tapped into.

Stacy also does a lot of work with flower essences, which I am just learning about the benefits of and intend to have her work on me soon. There is just a big world out there with things that can help us we’ve never heard of and I’m always ready to learn.

So if you want to learn more about herbology, flower essences or are in need of an animal psychic, give Stacy Lowe a call at (317) 919-7262 or email her at stacyr@ccrtc.com

October 9, 2009 Service Dogs

Service Dogs

It never ceases to amaze me the talents of dogs. Many people have heard of Seeing Eye dogs, but I recently talked to a lady who told me about her son’s service dog. A Standard Poodle for her son who has juvenile diabetes and has Down’s syndrome. Jazz is a male standard poodle. He came from Missouri, he was a Seeing Eye Dog School drop out because he was too “in tuned” to everything going on around him. The people training him noticed he was very close to children and if they were crying he was right there. So he became a service dog for autistic children. Christie Vandivier and her son Josh age 8 found Jazz this past summer. Jazz was the perfect dog for them because if Josh is moving, so is Jazz. He stays with him constantly and comforts Josh during a meltdown. They also found that Jazz will smell her son’s face and starts licking his hand to alert that he needs to check his blood sugar. He wasn’t trained to do that but they found it’s one of his hidden talents.

When they visited Christie’s sister Angie who is pregnant, Jazz came up to her and started licking her hand. It was then that Angie found out she had gestational diabetes.

If a dog has a temperament for a service dog, but doesn’t have the skills for one area, they are tested in other areas.

I have a friend who is a groomer in southern Indiana who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to her former job as a mail carrier in Chicago. She was attacked from behind twice in her career and as a result, can’t stand for anyone to be behind her. Her service dog Sophie will lie down in the aisle at a store and keep other shoppers several feet away from her. When the disgruntled shoppers say, “Hey lady, your dog is in the way”, she simply says, “She’s working” and goes on about her shopping.

There are many kinds of jobs that service dogs can do, and many family pets have been known to alert their owners when something is wrong. Sometimes you just have to know what they are trying to tell you.

I know of one man whose 9 week old puppy woke him up as he was having a heart attack in his sleep. There are other dogs that can be trained to pick up objects and open things for different disabilities. There are even emotional disabilities such as bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder that can have service dogs trained for them. There are dogs that can alert to cancer! Seizure alert dogs come in very handy for those with seizure disorders so they can alert the person one is coming on and to get on the floor so they don’t fall and hurt themselves, and can be trained to go get help as well.

While visiting public places, many proprietors may ask a person with a service dog to show proof their dog is indeed a service dog, it’s actually against the Americans with Disabilities Act to ask for it. According to the Delta Society www.deltasociety.org what a proprietor may ask is:

Ask the handler, “Is this a service dog?” You may also ask what tasks the dog has been trained to do for the handler. A service dog can be any breed or size.

There is no Federal requirement that the dog wear any special gear or identification. Also, there is no requirement that the handler carry any certification papers showing that the dog has been trained as a service dog. You may not ask the person about the nature or extent of his or her disability.

However many of those with service dogs choose to put a vest on their dog to identify it as a service dog just to keep questions to a minimum.

Service dogs are allowed everywhere, and cannot be denied access to restaurants or any other building, however if the dog isn’t well behaved or poses a problem they can be asked to leave.

Remember, if you meet someone with a service dog; do not just automatically try to pet the dog. Many dogs have specialized tasks and they are working, so petting a service dog may be strictly off limits. Always ask the person if you may pet their dog first. They may tell you “No, he’s working”. Please respect their wishes. No matter how well trained a service dog is, it’s not fair to tempt them to get off task. Please be respectful.

Dogs are just such amazing creatures, they can hear for us, see for us, open and close things for us, and help us to walk, help us to balance, help us to get control of ourselves, help us for any number of medical problems. I don’t believe there is a task out there that a service dog cannot be trained to do. No wonder to me that dog is just God spelled backwards.

September 28, 2009 Oh those raging hormones!

Oh those raging hormones!

I am the mother of a twelve year old boy.. Any parent of a “tween” can tell you that’s when the fun begins, the sassing, and the pain in the you-know-what behavior that will drive a parent mad. Well now I get to inform you that this is the SAME behavior your dog will exhibit when leaving the cute butterball puppylike stage, just as hormones hit and he grows up to be a “big dog”. Pups in this stage of life, usually 6 to 18 months of age start to develop “attitude” and drive their owners nuts! This is also the stage where most dogs are given away or taken to the pound. Check any animal shelter statistics, the vast majority of dogs relinquished are less than 2 years old, and mostly due to behavior problems.

This is the time to really be the pack leader in your dog’s eyes. Cesar Milan “the Dog Whisperer” is one of my heroes when it comes to training dogs. Dogs want a leader truly, just as children really want limits, contrary to what they tell you. If there is no pack leader in the house guess what, your dog has to take on that role. It’s simply survival of the fittest and the bottom line is lead, follow or get out of the way. Easy ways to be a pack leader in your dog’s eyes are to make your dog wait at the door and you take the first step out, and then invite your dog out. Yes, even when it’s just to let him outside to go potty, same way coming back inside, make him wait at the door as you open it…pause and then say “ok, come in” and this means you “own” the door. Bolting out of it is no longer an option as that is disrespectful in dog speak. You are the leader and it’s up to YOU to set the boundaries.

This is the BEST time to squelch bad behaviors that used to be considered “cute” by you.

You know what I mean; jumping up on you as a 7 lb. puppy was cute, but now that we are 70 lbs, not so cute anymore. Jumping up on everyone else and knocking them down is also no longer cute. You need to think like a dog and discipline accordingly. Less talk and more action are needed. More body language and less treats to get him to comply. Quit bribing your dog and just be a leader to him. Watch “the Dog Whisperer” on National Geographic channel, if you don't get it in your cable or dish package, order it! It’s worth it!

The other thing that will help some of the problem behaviors is simply spaying and neutering your dog at that stage of life, but it’s never too late to do it. Hormones are what guides the behavior, lose the hormones and there’s nothing to fight about, run away for, and you are truly stopping some forms of cancer in it’s tracks if you don't allow your pet to have heat cycles and breed... Even male dogs can get tumors that cause anal sac problems and all sorts of issues as they age if they are never neutered. Males also smell better if they are neutered, intact males have an odor about them that you can't wash away, hormones. They will also be less likely to “mark” your house with urine, declaring their territory if you have them neutered young and reinforce your pack leader position.

I spoke with a client today who told me about her daughter’s 15 year old Labrador female who recently became very sick and lethargic, and when she went to the vet, they discovered a pyometra, or infected uterus in her. If the uterus had ruptured the dog would become septic and die. Luckily they caught it in time, and she was spayed and the entire infected organ was removed. The dog is now happy and perky at age 15!

I've seen intact female dogs that end up with breast cancer later in life, huge tumors that could've been prevented had they spent just a little money and spayed the dog early in life. Even if they don't have regular heat cycles, that’s hormonal. The very best thing you can do for your dog is have a little operation that will keep your dog free of breast cancer, and no unwanted puppies. There is really no puppy shortage, go to any animal shelter and they'll show you. Maybe you can even get them to give you statistics of how many dogs they had to euthanize due to lack of homes.

See, it’s really not as bad as it seems a little snip, snip and learn to be a pack leader and you will end up with a wonderful companion for a long time! The good news is puberty in dogs lasts about a year tops; in kids, several years. If only it were so easy to get through the hormonal changes of humans! You can't spay or neuter them and you can't give them away to a pound. Child protective services would also frown on putting them in a kennel or crate too or leading them around with a collar and leash. Sigh, they sure don’t make a parent’s job easy do they? No wonder dogs behave better than “tweenagers”!

Adventures in Hershey, PA

Hello all! Back from Hershey and wanted to give you a LONG but interesting account of the happenings that I went there for. I did not compete this time (I'm so not worthy of this group!) but I went to watch it and see how it's done Hershey style.
So we started out on my birthday, September 17th...a lovely EARLY morning...those of you who know me well, know how much of a morning person I am....

So this is what they call sunrise? Highly overrated!

Beautiful Pennsylvania countryside...at a more decent hour.

We arrived Thursday evening and intended to do the town Hershey and visit the Chocolate World etc. On Friday. When we got to Chocolate World on Friday, we were greeted by the security guard telling us that Chocolate World and Hershey Park were CLOSED due to a power failure, this was the 2nd day. AAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!
11 hours we drove, and this brings back memories of our other infamous vacations ala the Griswold family from Chevy Chase's vacation movies! Lol!
Ok so plan B, we went to check out groom expo and shop! Not a bad plan B if you ask me.
The family was not so happy.
But Friday thankfully Hershey's Chocolate world was up and running and we had a ball!!!
I highly recommend this tour and the trolley tour if you've never taken it, it's an awesome history of a man that was truly a saint and worked hard for the welfare of children when he made the Hershey school and I even met a present student and her family who were staying at our hotel there. She had a family weekend. Really cool story (and everybody has one don't we?, more on mine later....)

Trolley tour of the Hershey school...fountain in front of it.
Seriously awesome place! All marble!

Then it was off to Chocolate world where we took in a 3D show which was wonderful! A chocolate "tasting" educational about chocolate, where it comes from, how it's used etc. Fascinating! A wonderful homeschooling subject for the day!

Lane and Drew in front of the Reece's race car.

Then we had some more time to kill that afternoon so we went on a cave tour nearby...

Again more educational stuff for their little heads...gotta love educational vacations!
Ok ok I know I'm keeping you in suspense, you want to see pictures of creative right????
First they had the model dog contest, and I only managed to get one photo...what a crowd!
But our Kathleen Putman recreated her carousel horse she did in creative years ago with a model dog! AWESOME!

Bear with me, not all the photos are wonderful, but it was seriously crowded and getting photos was like becoming a contortionist, I'm sorry if I don't have flattering shots of all you lovely people.

Anatomy of dog entry

This was a favorite of mine, it's NOT a poodle!!! A Great Pyranees made into a cow...
She even did a milking demo, a baby bottle hidden behind the dog and squeezed...lol!
This entry got 2nd place! Hard to do competing with poodles! I loved it! She did a great job capturing the poll on the head, the square butt of a cow etc. And of course the udder.
I thought it was wonderful!

A dolphindoodle...I liked this one! Beautiful!

 a lab! Made into a sort of harry potter creature..
Sorry I'm not up on my harry potter.


Mardi Gras, one side..

And the other side.

A rainbow colored crayoodle! Taking a break...

This was nicely done! Legs were crayons...I loved the rainbow hair on his head
Reminded me of those clown wigs...very nice coloring!

Hidden from view, her props always over the top, ya gotta love Angela Kumpe

Her peacock!

Not sure if the dog or her outfits were more impressive lol!A beautiful job, took 3rd place!

Poodles were born to be wild!

The winner of peoples choice AND first place a total of $5,500 went to Lori Craig! I got a second to talk with her before the contest, she's very sweet and down to earth! I really LIKE HER!!!
Of course she did this and took first in Atlanta, told me she did very well in Dallas, don't know what placing that means...
And first in Hershey...I took several pics of her, I was in AWE!

Me thinks Lori needs some anti-monkey butt powder!
Lol! Do do do do...the lion sleeps tonight.....

She did an entire opening scene of the Lion King, she was the baboon and
Held up the lion baby to Mufasa!
She had gazelles, cheetahs etc it was WONDERFUL!!!
Seriously, you could make a play from this...she did awesome!

Lion attack?
Congrats to ALL the contestants they ALL did a wonderful job!!!

Alegheny mountains...

Ahh sunset! That's more my speed!

Goodbye beautiful Pennsylvania....

Then back towards home, but first a pit stop in West Virginia to meet the woman who was "almost" my birth mom. When I was looking for my birth family back in 1992, I ran across a woman the same name, age, area etc. But was the wrong person, however we chatted and kept in touch and she told me, you could've been mine, in 1968 I had a miscarriage, and she has always considered herself my "other" mother. I found my birth mom the next year
Meet Kathy Dunlap, my other mom and my sister from another mother Kathanna and girls...

Me and my hubby and other mom.
All in all a pretty good trip considering how it started off!
But on the way home Drew did manage to get sick in the car...too much mcdonalds grease I'm sure...bleegh.
I guess we can't get in a vacation without some vile thing happening to us...lol!
Some of you remember my trip to Florida several years ago when we all got the flu...jeeze that was bad!
So there you have it! Enjoy your day!


Sandy Blackburn
The Groom Room Pet Spa
1205 S. Brady St.
Attica, IN 47918
(765) 764-4330


Local Groomer Places 3rd in Runway Show

Local pet groomer Sandy Blackburn owner of The Groom Room Pet Spa in Attica participated in Chicago's All American Grooming Show August 14-16 and placed third in the "Abstract Runway Design" category.
This contest was a runway fashion show with the dog being showcased as the fashion and the groomer dressed in complementary clothing. The groomer was to put a unique haircut on the dog with little to no color, but something that could be done in a day at your salon that you could even do for a client.
Blackburn put a spiral design on her dog with a hibiscus flower cut into the design on the dogs hip. There were seven contestants from all around the United States participating. There were designs from leopard spots dyed into the dogs fur, to diamond shapes cut into the fur, there was even a Persian cat in the contest with a unique design carved into its fur.
The contest was judged by Jorge Bendersky of New York, he was a contestant last year on Animal Planet's show "Groomer Has It". When Bendersky was asked about what he looks for in a creative runway design he said, " I see it as a sculpture, pay attention to technique, and how it looks from all angles and from all distances, I imagine that dog in a open space as a piece of Art, it was a great line up, very close".
Bendersky was also the judge of the regular creative grooming class the next day and Blackburn did something that no other groomer has ever done, she used the same dog in that contest only 18 hours later transforming her spiral design into a rattlesnake!
"Jasmine was a terrific sport for the entire weekend." stated Blackburn. "Abstract Runway Design was on Saturday night at 9 pm and we got to bed around midnight, then the next day we started in around 10 am and the contest began at 3pm." However, the real test to see who was the most creative was when Blackburn arrived at the hotel in Chicago and discovered she has left the box with all of her grooming supplies, color blo-pens and glitter at home. "I was shocked! I thought my family had packed it, they thought I had packed it and the truth is, I moved it out of the way the day before we left and didn't see it, so I assumed it was packed. We spent the entire day Friday hunting for supplies and borrowing things from other groomers to get by. One thing I am thankful for is that the groomers I compete with are the most generous, wonderful people in the world. They offered me their supplies, knowing I would be competing against them but wanting to help out a fellow groomer in need".
Blackburn didn't place in the regular creative class but was still proud of her accomplishment.
"I may not be the most creative groomer, but using the same dog in two contests less than a day apart and with no supplies certainly makes me the most resourceful groomer!"

August 31, 2009 About Creative Grooming….

You know, I've had people who've seen my dog’s hair dyed and carved who love it and look forward to each new design, and I've had others who liken it to animal cruelty. I just want to clear a few things up for the naysayers. First of all, nothing harmful is ever used on the dogs. If it’s not safe for them, there is no way we would ever use it. We use things like food color, chalk, colored hair sprays, non-toxic blo-pens, animal safe dyes, and yes even human semi-permanent hair dyes, but nothing with any potential for a problem.
I've also heard people say that the animals must be ashamed of themselves or how they look, but it’s just the opposite! I know Jasmine is very happy to be “in color” so to speak because that automatically makes her a magnet for attention! Since she’s an attention hog anyway, this is right up her alley! In fact, although after our contest she was “dog tired” and I do mean TIRED! When we went to the area for the photographer this dog came to life instantly and LEAPED onto the table ready to have her picture taken! She’s also quite the camera hog, and most nights, a bed hog.
I've heard some people say the animals don't like it. Well if they didn't like it, I can assure you we wouldn't be able to do it very easily. In fact, the creative groomers I've met would never be able to use a dog that didn't like being groomed.
Those that think it’s torture for the dogs to be groomed need to be aware of a few things, first of all, we are groomers and although we sometimes require the dogs to stand for a while, no dogs that are old, in pain or have issues would ever be permitted to be in the contests. In fact, no dog over 10 years old is allowed to compete in any grooming contest.
Now my dogs are not fond of baths in general, is yours? However they tolerate them well enough to get to the fun part, getting up on the table and being dried and fussed with which is their favorite! Jasmine will also jump up on my table without commands, just to get to the good stuff! If she gets tired, we stop and take a break. After all, she has the easy part, standing or lying on the table. I am the one doing all the work!
I think my favorite comment was someone saying the dogs should be “natural” like they are shown at the Westminster dog show. Here’s a little secret, there is not much natural about dogs at dogs shows. I've seen more dyes and “make-up” applied to even beagles there that the word “natural” and “dog shows” just doesn't make a lot of sense. It may not make it “right” or “fair”, but it’s reality. In essence, it’s a beauty contest and flaws are covered. More time is spent “grooming” a natural looking breed such as a boxer at a dog show than your groomer spends on your not so natural looking poodle.
So what is really the harm in a little color on your pooch? As long as it’s safe for the dog, and the dog and the owner enjoy it, why should it be considered wrong? Groomers who do creative grooming have the most pampered and loved dogs in the world, far better than someone who neglects grooming entirely on their pet and lets them suffer. Creative grooming is artistic expression and it’s fun for dogs, owners and groomers. It’s worth it for me to see the smiles on people’s faces, and the look of joy on my dog’s face when she receives extra attention for her “look” and she’s not complaining.

August 17, 2009 Pondering's

Life is so ironic. It brings to mind all the little things about animals that perplex me. For instance, why is it that the dog that is impossible to give a pill to, no matter what you hide it in or mix it with, they find it and spit it out, or if you try to stuff it down them they manage to regurgitate it back up, will find human medication on the floor and gulp it down with enthusiasm, thus requiring a trip to the vet?

Why do cats get picky about the brand of cat litter you choose? When you buy the best and most expensive kind, they suddenly change their mind and decide to use your laundry for a litter box instead.

Why do we long for a “smart” dog, and when we have one, they are so smart they teach themselves how to open the refrigerator and help themselves to the leftovers?

Why are dogs so addicted to garbage? I've seen teamwork in action! I now have a cabinet to put the trash can in but before that I used to set it up on top of the kitchen island at night, out of reach of the dogs. Then my “smart” cat would get up on the island and hurl herself at the top of the trash can, tipping it over and spilling the contents on the floor for the dogs and cat to eat.

Why do dogs that love to swim in ponds hate to have baths? Why do they go out and roll in something disgusting after you've spent 2 hours washing them and making them pretty?

Why do dogs that bark and growl at people who are harmless, suddenly turn into quivering masses of jelly when it’s a REAL bad guy at the door? Some watchdog!

Then I'm reminded of why after dealing with all the headaches pets can cause, we still love them so much.

Nobody greets you like a dog! You could simply step outside for a minute to get the mail and when you come back inside; your dog greets you with such enthusiasm! Wow! You're back! I've missed you! Wag, wag, wag!

When you are down, there’s always a cold nose nuzzling you and licking away your tears. If you are sick they will lay beside you or on top of you, keeping you warm, unlike the rest of the humans in the house who don't want to get your germs.

There is no such thing as an empty lap at my house. Somebody is going to come and fill it up. If you are visiting and you aren't particularly fond of animals, no worries, they will come directly to you and work hard to change your mind by pestering you the most.

Nobody loves you like your pets do. They may not be able to tell you in words, but they show it in ways we take for granted every single day. They don't yell or complain, they don't gripe about your housekeeping or what you made for dinner. They are satisfied with any little crumbs of affection you share with them. They look at you with adoration in their eyes, happy to just be in the same room as you. No human does all that.

Pets are a source of comfort and love; they give us companionship, lower our blood pressure, and listen to us when we've had a bad day. They make us laugh, keep us young, and give us a purpose for being when we just can't seem to find any other reason.

In the end, I guess it really doesn't matter that there is extra cleaning up to do around here. The love we receive in return is worth it. Excuse me, but I feel the need to go hug some 4-legged members of my family right now. I hope you do too.

August 3, 2009 12 Step Programs for Groomers

Well it’s that time of year again for me. Time to head to Chicago for the All American Grooming Show and stock up on grooming supplies and brute for punishment that I am, I bit the bullet and yes, registered to compete in not one, but two creative grooming shows being held there this year.

The first show will be held August 15th and it’s a new one they are having called “Abstract Runway Design” it will be at 9 p.m. That evening and they are looking for a unique trim with little to no color, and a complimentary outfit on the groomer. This is sort of a “modeling” bit for groomers to show off their talents and look like models strutting their stuff and walking their dog down a runway. Since the bar is being raised so high that regular creative grooming is really getting out of my range of capabilities I thought this may be more to my liking. After a little encouragement from friends, I entered online. Then it happened…

The competition bug bit me and I thought about what I could do for the runway design, a spiral trim with just a hint of color, but oh no, that wasn't good enough. The wheels in my head started turning and I thought, I could turn that spiral trim into a rattlesnake design I had planned on doing one day. Sure! Why not! The creative show isn't until 3pm the next day, I could re-do the spiral design, color the spirals into a snake, carve out a little more hair and snag two contests with ONE dog! Unheard of!

Surely THIS would make me the most creative groomer wouldn't it? I found myself checking boxes on the online registration form for both contests! Before I had time to think about the repercussions of what I had done, it was too late. I had already hit the enter button and it was over with. I spent the rest of the night sketching my designs on paper and perfecting it in my head.

The next day Jerry Schinberg called me from the All American Grooming Show because he was confused about my registration form.

“Hiya Sandy, it’s Jerry Schinberg, I see that you are entering contests and I just wanted to clarify some things”

“Sure Jerry, how can I help?”

“You have both the abstract runway design and regular creative grooming checked, which one are you entering?”

“Both of them” I replied.

“I see, you will have two dogs then”

“No, just one dog” I replied.

“Uh, ok, so you are entering both contests and using a different dog in each one correct?”

“No Jerry, I’m using the same dog for both contests” I replied.

“But if you do that you have to make each trim SIGNIFICANTLY different” Jerry warns.

“Oh, they WILL be different, no worries there!” I reassure him.

I asked him if I could tell him what I'm doing, or if that’s a no-no, but he told me it was ok. So I explained my ideas to him and said, “Now Jerry, you gotta admit, that using the same dog, making two completely different designs in two different contests that are only 18 hours apart is pretty darned creative!”

“It'll be fine if you can pull it off.” He replied and we ended our conversation.

It was a little while later the gravity of what I had done hit me, and how HARD this was going to be.

What was I thinking? Am I that wrapped up in competition that it’s not good enough to enter just one thing, but both? Good Lord, why do I do this to myself! It was only four months ago that I went to the Nashville show and turned Jasmine into a “corn dog”. After that it was 4H dog obedience and agility for her and the boys, and now its back to grooming shows again. Is there a 12-step program for this type of addiction? When will I be satisfied? Every time I think that’s the best I can do, I gave it my best shot, and vow to never enter again, the competition bug bites me and I fall victim to it.

Worse yet, my husband has the bug too, and for some odd reason after 21 years of marriage, he is suddenly interested in my hobbies. I only planned to go to buy grooming supplies and not compete. I even waited until the last day to register. Then he asked me if I had booked the room yet. He is genuinely interested in this competition and really standing behind me in this madness! I think that makes him an “enabler” doesn't it?

I was planning on just going alone, staying with a friend, getting my stuff and going home but oh no, now it’s a family affair! And so, now I have to get some costumes for me and the boys ready, Tim decided that watching the show was good enough, he didn't want to be one of the props.

He is even toying with the idea of buying a 4-door full sized truck to haul our stuff around in! Even “I” don’t have the bug that bad! I’m trying to talk him out of that, just what we need, a gas guzzling truck. The gas guzzling S10 blazer is bad enough thanks. If you can’t haul your stuff dear “downsize”. It’s only 2 shows, maybe 3 a year. Is it really worth spending the money on a truck? Please someone shake some sense into us! Is there a creative grooming show anonymous meeting anyplace out there? Perhaps there’s one in Hershey, Pennsylvania next month at their grooming show, I hear it’s the show to end all shows! You know I just HAVE to go there!

July 20, 2009 Being the Middleman

Being the “Middleman”

Maybe it’s just my personality, perhaps it’s my birth order, or maybe it’s just karma but I’m always in the middle of things. If someone has a problem, yep, I’m the “go to” gal with the answers and I end up putting them in touch with someone to help.
I know Attica is a small town, and knowing several people as I do, the odds are good that there will come a time when I am in the middle of just about any situation. This month I’ve been in the middle of at least three dilemmas involving animals and I have several phone calls to return that I’m sure will put me in the middle of more of them.
I’m really not complaining, I am here to help people out. It’s always been my intention to pass along any knowledge I have to help someone. But I’m starting to have trouble remembering who or what I’m talking about and it’s getting a little overwhelming.
I am glad that I have the knowledge to put people in touch. I’ve always thought I’d make a great investigator. I’ve become a great researcher of facts. I have a way of weaseling information out of people that nobody else can crack. It’s become a talent in a way.
I think it started when I was searching for my birth mother. I’m adopted and although my adoptive parents tried to help me find her, when you have a closed adoption it becomes impossible. After my parents passed away, I felt like the last dinosaur on earth, and the drive to find out where I came from was eating at me so I began investigating and getting in touch with other people (and this was all before the internet) and one day I received a phone call from my birth mom. We have a good relationship now and visit and talk often.
This is when I found out my birth order was a middle child, even though I was raised as the youngest and pretty much the only child in the house, all my adoptive brothers and sisters were much older than I was and on their own.
I find myself being the person to “mediate” things between people, and also tend to be the one who seeks attention (hence the youngest or only child). The problem is, because I’m in the “middle”, I get a little too personally involved at times. I try hard to stay neutral and keep out of things, but somehow I get dragged into it no matter what.
I asked someone once “why me?”…the reply was “why not you?” I guess maybe that is my lot in life, I guess someone has to be in the middle or there would never be any resolutions to any problems. I am the listening ear for friends and sometimes complete strangers but I don’t mind.
Even my dog is in the middle of things. Jasmine loves other dogs and likes to play with them but Bogey because he is elderly, isn’t so fond of rambunctious dogs. When he is feeling a little overwhelmed, Jasmine senses that and immediately comes to his rescue, and gets between them, protecting her “little brother”. She even protects our cat Dixie from our other cat Butterscotch. Butterscotch is a young cat, and being young and kittenish, she loves to play attack the old cat which sends Dixie into a rage of howling, hissing, cat fits. Jasmine to the rescue again, getting between the cats, giving a growl to say “okay, that’s enough!” and peace and order are soon restored.
Dreamer, my sheltie barks at my boys when they are fussing at each other. “He’s telling on you again,” I yell to my boys as they ignore his ever so loud and annoying barks. That is usually enough to break any tension and get things restored to near normalcy.
So I guess I’m not alone in my “middleman” role in life. I just hope that peace and order are soon restored in our world as we all deal with the daily turmoil of life.

July 6, 2009 Hot Weather and Your Pet

Hot Weather and Your Pet

Summer is in full swing and this is the time of year that pets can suffer from heat related problems such as heat stroke. Heat stroke results when your pet has extremely high body temperature, 105 to 110 degrees. Symptoms of heat stroke in its early stages are:

• Heavy panting.
• Rapid breathing.
• Excessive drooling.
• Bright red gums and tongue.
• Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced stages of heatstroke:

• White or blue gums.
• Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
• Uncontrollable urination or defecation.
• Labored, noisy breathing.
• Shock.

Abnormally high body temperature (also called hyperthermia) develops after increased muscular activity with impaired ability to give off heat, due to high heat and humidity or respiratory obstruction. The elevation in body temperature stimulates your dog's body to release substances that activate inflammation. At temperatures greater than 109 degrees, failure of vital organs, and consequently death, can occur.

Allowing a dog to remain in a car with closed windows on a hot summer day is probably the most common cause of heat stroke. NEVER EVER leave your dog inside a hot car! Not for 20 minutes, not for 2 minutes. There is no excuse. If it is hot outside, don’t take your dog with you unless you are able to stay in the car with him and keep the air conditioner running.
People forget how quickly a car heats up and a dog’s body temperature is higher than ours is and the only way they can cool off is by panting. Cracking windows open is not good enough to cool off the inside of a car on a hot day.

So how can you prevent heatstroke in your pet?

1. Exercise your dog gradually and don't over do it. Don't go for a five-mile run on the first nice day of the season. This is especially true if your dog is older, obese or has a heart or lung problem.

2. If it is hot and your dog is panting hard - stop what you are doing. Allow him to cool down and stop panting before continuing.

3. ALWAYS make sure your dog has plenty of fresh clean water.

4. If you leave your dog in the yard, make sure he has both water AND shade!

Remember - if you are uncomfortable, your pet probably is, too.

If your pet is exhibiting signs of heatstroke you should immediately try to cool the dog down by:

• Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
• Apply ice packs to the groin area.
• Hose down with water.
• Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water, not too much and not ice water as this could lead to over drinking and cause bloat or twisting of the stomach.
• Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

One other thing I’d like to mention is that while shaving the dog short for the summer is often requested to keep the dog cooler, double coated breeds such as huskies or malamutes, collies, shelties, golden retrievers etc. benefit from simply brushing out the undercoat, not shaving it off. If the hair is not matted and the undercoat is kept brushed out, the dog will stay cool. Shaving it off can often lead to skin problems. If the hair is matted, you may not have a choice, matted hair pulls on skin and often causes sores underneath the mats, and open sores can lead to maggots! If air can’t get to the skin the dog is more apt to suffer heatstroke. A good brushing and combing weekly will help keep your pet looking and feeling great this summer.

June 20, 2009 Ears to you!

Ears to You!

What a week! It’s hot and all the dogs are blowing coat so I’ve been up to my elbows in dog hair. Yesterday, my son Drew who is my right arm in grooming, broke his right arm! This is going to put a little kink in our summer. He is unfortunately like his mother. He’s right handed, very right handed. In other words, if it wasn’t for our left sides holding us up, there would be no other use for the left side. I’m anxious to see how we compensate for that little fault.
Our Sheltie Dreamer came down with a ruptured ear drum for some unknown reason that stumps even the vet, and we are doctoring him and trying to keep him comfy too. It is his right ear also. Hmmm, makes me why everything “right” has suddenly gone wrong.
This brings me to the reason for this column, your dogs ears. This is another place few people venture to look. Signs of an ear infection are lots of dark smelly debris in the ear, head tilting, scratching at the ears, shaking the head and pain upon touching the ears.
What causes ear problems? Well that can be just about anything honestly. In Jasmine, my standard poodle, eating anything with wheat in it, will cause her ears to become filled with black gook and itchy. This is a very good reason to read your dog food labels, some dogs are very allergic to wheat, corn and soy and ears are one way they show allergy.
Polyps in the ear can cause ear problems, and you can’t see them, they are way down inside the ear, only your vet can tell.
Too much hair inside the ear canal can act as a wick for bacteria and also impedes air flow to the ear canal. This is why some dogs have to have their ear hair plucked by the groomer or vet. I know it sounds painful but unless the ear has a problem it really isn’t. But this too can be a double edge sword, Bogey my Bichon is a dog with ear hair but if you pluck it, then he will begin to shake his head and scratch. So for him, plucking is not a good thing. We just keep his ears as clean as possible and pluck when absolutely necessary.
Dogs with droopy hanging ears tend to have more ear problems due to lack of air flow so those dogs tend to have dark moist ear canals and if you aren’t keeping them clean, they will begin to have an odor that many people mistake for simple “he needs a bath” odor. Nope, it’s his ears.
Foreign objects inside the ears can cause problems too, ticks, weed seeds, foxtail you name it, I’ve seen it inside ears. You really need to be aware of what’s inside your dog’s ears, dogs are like kids, they get into everything!
Ear mites are another cause for infection; those blood sucking little parasites are very common in cats and can be passed from one animal to another. It looks like your pet has coffee grounds inside his ears. That’s one symptom of ear mites.
If you have ever had an ear infection, you know how painful it is and how miserable you feel. Young children and babies are prone to ear infections. What do you do when your child has an ear infection? You go to the doctor and get some medicine. After all you don’t want your baby to lose his hearing right? So why is it that people have such a terrible time going to the veterinarian when their 4-legged baby has an ear infection? Animals can lose their hearing too!
Now one thing I want to add is this. If the groomer gets water in your pets ears that is NOT why he got an ear infection! I swear if I hear that old wives tale one more time… I heard it on the animal planet show last year “Groomer Has It” from the vet judge on the show. Her words were “if you get one drop of water into the dog’s ears you’ll cause an infection.” I have to tell you the groomers of the internet and vets in the know all came unglued at that comment! Water does NOT cause infection. How does your vet clean out the animal’s ears when they put them under anesthesia? They flush the ears out with a steady fast stream of WATER! Many vets use a water pik® for doing this. Dogs that swim can get “swimmers ear”, the solution is the same as the solution for you, a few drops of rubbing alcohol into the ear does the trick.
In fact, if you have a dog or cat with ear problems and you just put medication on top of the dirt and debris inside the ear, explain to me how that medicine is going to get to the root of the problem and clear up the infection? It CAN’T! You have to clean out the ears if you want to treat the problem. But first, you need to know if the eardrum is ruptured. Do not put anything inside an ear with a ruptured eardrum.
So if your dog is exhibiting any of the above mentioned problems go see your vet so they can examine the dog’s ear with an otoscope and see all the way down to the ear drum. They will advise you what to do. Ask questions, many vets seeing the same problems over and over will forget to mention what you should do, simply because they assume you already know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask them how to clean out your dog’s ears, what products to use, and be sure to tell them what is in your pet’s food and treats! Chronic ear infections lead to expensive surgery to open up the ear canals, or deafness not to mention a life of misery and pain. Lift up those ear flaps now and take a good look inside those ears!

June 6, 2009 Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

As a groomer, I have a regular clientele that I see over and over again and just when I get into my steady little niche of folks who come, then life happens and shakes up my world again. Clients that are dear to my heart move away, or their beloved pet passes away, or sometimes even my dearest clients pass away. Lately I’ve had several of these things happen at once and I can’t tell you how sad it makes me to see them go.
One dear dog that I’ll miss terribly is moving to another state. Cupid is an Afghan Hound that belongs to Dave and Karen McDonald who are moving on to greener pastures. I had the pleasure of grooming Cupid one last time today. Dave told me that the groomer he’s been taking him to in Georgia hasn’t ever seen an Afghan Hound before. “Ahh, you get to break in another groomer huh?” I said to him. I remember being in that position. When Dave and Karen had adopted a pair of Afghan Hounds from a rescue shortly after I moved here, Karen called me and asked me if I could groom an Afghan Hound. “Well, I CAN groom them, but I haven’t ever done one before” I told her. They took a leap of faith and tried me out. I did what they asked me to do, and was completely intrigued by the breed. Every time they came to be groomed I learned more about them. I took classes on them in Chicago and Atlanta when I went to grooming shows. I bought brushes and products with them in mind and I really did enjoy grooming them, although they were MASSIVELY time consuming, with all the de-matting that had to be done. Long locks like those tangle easily. But the dogs themselves were just unique. Regal looking, and the beautiful walk they had on a leash was breathtaking to me. These creatures were something special! Over the years, I’d laugh at their antics, weep with exhaustion over grooming them and when they aged and became sick and passed away, I cried.
Cupid is another rescue who came along before they lost their last Afghan Hound. He was just a young dog, not a year old when he came. He was scared of everything! Still, he got through grooming 101 and passed with flying colors. He had a different personality than the other Afghans but was still charming, elegant and a trooper for grooming.
It’s amazing to me how close groomers become to the dogs they groom. I have a lot of dogs that I’ve become “Aunt Sandy” to over the years. That must be why it’s sad to see them go away. Those dogs aren’t just clients, they’re family, and many times so is the person on the other end of the leash.
Dr. Pete was another client I will dearly miss. His dogs went to Chicago with me to be demonstration dogs for seminars on Terriers. The top groomer in the country got to work his magic on Paddy, Onya and Sophie and teach a room full of hopeful groomers the techniques. I learned to have my car keys in my hands when I picked them up, because it never failed that as I loaded them into my car and walked around to the driver’s side; one of them would hop up on the door and lock me out. They were always happy to see me, and their tails went a mile a minute. When Paddy was accidentally let out of his yard one day, he walked all the way to my house, I was just coming home from shopping and there was Paddy in my driveway! Now that’s love! Dr. Pete’s wife Ann used to borrow my old dog Katy to teach Paddy manners when he was a pup. Katy would put Paddy in his place when he started playing too rough, and they really enjoyed each others company.
While nobody can replace the dogs or the people behind them, there still seems to be a string of new folks calling and getting into the loop that will make more new memories for me. I’ll have to remember to write down the memories of those that leave a paw print on my heart and one day make a book of memoirs of them.

May 25, 2009 Advice from Kids on Dogs

Advice from Kids on Dogs

Today I was at a loss for what to write about so I asked my number one helpers, my sons for some advice and this is what they came up with. “Mom, why not write about how to make your dog feel better?” Here is some advice from my kids Drew and Lane ages 11 and 9 in their own words.

• Give your dog a nice cool bath, but not with the hose though. It has to be a little warm.
• Make sure they are comfortable.
• The more comfortable they are, the better they feel; you’ll make them feel like a puppy again.
• Play with your dog.
• Love your dog.
• Take them on long walks.
• If your dog has mats, cut them out. Mats hurt.
• Trim their nails, because they can get overgrown and curl into the paw pad and that will really hurt them.
• Take photos of your dog in case they get lost so you can make signs.
• Use good flea products on your dog. (Frontline, Advantage, Comfortis from the vet)
• Give your dog heartworm pills every month.
• Get your dog neutered or spayed.
• Take your dog to the vet if it’s sick or hurt.
• Train your dog to be obedient.
• Check your dog’s ears for ear problems. If they are leaning their heads over, that means they might have ear problems.
• Feed your dog good food.
• Don’t give your dog too many treats otherwise they’ll get fat.
• Some dogs are really silly.
• Give your dog plenty of tummy rubs, they like it.
• Brush your dog to keep knots out.

Not bad advice from kids huh? I guess they’ve been paying attention to me after all. I can’t give any better advice that that! Remember that our children are listening to us whether we are talking to them or not. They will do as we do when it comes to our actions so be mindful of how you act and speak and treat other people and of course your pets.

Kids need to have responsibilities around the house; our kids are in charge of feeding and watering our pets daily. Trust me; our pets won’t let them forget to do it! I’ve shown them how, and what amounts to feed, and if one needs medication I’ve shown them how to put it in the food. They know how to wash the dog dishes too, after all you don’t want to eat out of dirty dishes, and neither does your dog. I have to say I’m proud that my kids came up with this list. It’s about as complete a list on good dog care as I’ve ever seen.

Teach your children from babies how to touch animals and watch them at all times. When we aren’t watching is usually when things happen, kids will accidentally hurt the dog and it will snap at them, and we blame the dog. Most large dogs can handle little kids and take all they can dish out, but some just don’t. Keep your dog’s age and body condition in mind, and little dogs and little kids are a bad combination. A 30 lb. toddler falling on a 10 lb. dog can cause some serious damage by sheer accident.
Likewise, not training your dog can cause some serious damage to small children simply by the dog being out of control. Call your vet, groomer or other pet professional to see what they recommend if you need help with training.
Remember we teach our children how to play nice with other kids; you have to teach your kids and your pets to play nice with each other too. If you do this you’ll have kids who grow up with a love and respect of animals and pets that you’ll be proud to call a member of your family.

5/8/09 The Wild Unknown World of Rescue

The wild unknown world of rescue

One thing I never knew before the Internet and getting involved with so many pet people, is what “rescue” dogs were, they weren't just dogs at the city pound. I had no idea how many breed rescues, and all breed rescues there were in the world. When you go to www.petfinder.com you will see for yourself just how many organizations are out there that help place homeless pets.

Another thing I wasn't aware of before is that there are transports for pets from one area of the country to another! Usually by way of volunteers who will drive a “leg” of a run on a weekend usually. It amazes me to this day how many good hearted souls are out there trying to get pets to their “forever” homes or into a good rescue from a high kill rate shelter.

There are Internet groups that have truck drivers volunteer to meet at specified locations at certain times to pick up animals and drive them to the next leg of their trip, and meet up with other truckers or volunteers, to get them to the next leg.

I truly am in awe of the entire process of saving these pets!

I get e-mail from these groups several times a day that sometimes I can pass on to people I know that live in the areas they are transporting through. Usually the road trip legs range about an hour or so each, and are covered by many volunteers.

From what I know so far, this is the way it works:

A person who may work for a high kill rate animal shelter, or has contacts through one will go to the shelter when they are over capacity and pull as many of the adoptable pets out of there as they can and they work to get them into rescues. Someone arranges a transport to the rescues if the rescues cannot come down to get them or are too far away. The e-mails fly and people will sign up to drive a leg or two of the trip. The animals are given health papers, vaccines if needed and any information on the pets known to them.

The animals are then pulled from the shelter and started on their way to the rescue that will help find them a permanent home, or possibly to a foster home if they are full.

These animals are then many times put on the Internet rescue sites in hopes of finding them a new home.

Foster homes are another important link in the chain of rescue. People just like you and I can do this! Fostering an animal is just like having one of your own, except they are up for adoption and many times it’s a short term home. Some animals may need a foster home because of a health issue that is being taken care of before adoption and the rescues want to make sure the animal is healthy first. While in foster care, the foster home can evaluate the pet and see what its “quirks” are and work on training. The vet bills are taken care of by the rescues, but most foster homes are responsible for providing food and grooming for the pet they take in.

Rescues get the pets checked out thoroughly by vets and they are almost always spayed or neutered before they are put up for adoption. The rescues rely on donations from the public through fundraisers, and have volunteers that help them by being foster homes for the animals, or helping with adoptions. Many of the pets that the rescues receive have health issues such as heartworm and that is very expensive to treat. Many vets will give the rescues a discount, but even with a discount it adds up to hundreds of dollars spent on one pet. Good rescues want to find the best home for the pets and they try hard to match up the families to the pets they want to adopt. Not all pets work for all homes and not all homes work for every pet. A good rescue will take your family’s lifestyle into consideration and have you fill out paperwork and answer a lot of questions and sometimes do a home visit before you will be considered to adopt. It’s a lot like adopting a child! Some people can't believe how picky some rescues are but really it’s for the benefit of the pet and the prospective new home. After all, the idea is to find a home that is “forever”.

The rescue has an adoption fee that is normally less that what it would be to buy a purebred puppy, and you end up with a dog that is healthy and already spayed or neutered to boot! You will know beforehand most of the time if the pet is good with children or other pets and good rescues will ALWAYS take the pet back should something happen and it doesn't work out or your life changes and you can no longer keep the pet you adopt.

So why not be a link in the chain of rescue and help out some pets that don't deserve to die in a shelter? Get on the Internet and look up some rescue groups or transport groups online and see what you can do to help. We may not be able to help them all, but together we can change the lives of many!

4/24/09 Allergic to Dogs

Allergic to Dogs

It’s springtime and those of us with seasonal allergies are just beginning to feel the effects of the pollens before us. One thing I'm grateful for is that I do not (at this time) have an allergy to dogs. Talk about ruining a career! As much as I've been exposed to hair, dander and saliva surely I'd have built up immunity for life, but that isn't the case with many of my clients.

I have several clients who are allergic to dogs. So why are they clients you ask? Well, to help keep the hair and dander down on their beloved pet they are allergic to, or because they have found breeds which are less allergenic than most dogs and they can tolerate them better. So which breeds are best for dog allergy sufferers? The best breeds are those who are low-shedding breeds or those who need to have their hair cut regularly; however there are no truly hypoallergenic dogs. Poodle, Maltese, Shih-Tzu, Bichon-Frise, Bolognese, Havanese, Coton de Tulear, Lowchen, Komondor, Puli, Irish Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog, Chinese Crested, Schnauzer, Yorkshire, Tibetan and Kerry Blue Terrier are some examples. A more allergenic breed mixed with any of the above breeds does not guarantee that the puppies will inherit the coat of the less allergenic breed.

Take for example the Obama family. Our new first dog is a Portuguese Water Dog. They have children with allergies to dogs and had to be especially careful about the breed they brought into the house. Hopefully the new “Portie” will grow up and not become a source of allergies for the family. The reason I say that is because puppies don't shed and rarely cause allergy problems until puberty when the puppy hair goes out and the adult coat comes in. Many people with puppies find out the hard way that the beloved puppy they have raised grows up to become a big problem for the allergy sufferer in the family. Porties are low shedding, like a poodle, they can have a curly, wavy or “whirly” (a mixture of wavy and curly) coats. They don't have a seasonal shedding undercoat such as a sheltie or golden retriever. But they have the love of water and personality of a wonderful family dog. I hope it’s a good match. I happen to know a groomer in Washington D.C., I wonder if she will become “the first groomer”?

So what do you do if you are allergic to your dog? Well I know what I would do if it were me. First of all I'd be heading to my doctor and getting some medication for myself, and looking into immunotherapy shots. I've actually done that years ago when it was discovered I had a mild allergy to horses and cats amongst other things. There was no way I'd give them up! So I had weekly to monthly needle pokes, that were so easy I never even felt them, and after about a year and a half, I stopped them. I can't say for sure that they worked because I learned to avoid grooming my horses in springtime; I let my friend’s kids brush them in exchange for riding time. Springtime shedding was the only time my horses ever bothered my asthma. Once that was over, it was smooth sailing. I had myself tested a few years ago again for dogs and cats when an allergy flared up, and it turns out that I am showing no signs of allergy to either one, however I'm allergic to guinea pigs. Go figure! The doctor thought that my constant exposure to the dander and hair was actually a good thing for my allergies and apparently has built up my immunity to cats. He also discovered that my immunotherapy shots from years before did not have any cat dander in them all that time that I was on the shots, so I was never being treated for my cat allergy. I have two house cats now.

One thing that can really help you is to have your dog groomed for you by a professional groomer and be sure to tell them you are trying to help your allergies. Groomers can really get out undercoat that would take you weeks otherwise. Frequent bathing helps control the dander, as do some rub on treatments such as Allerpet® that you rub on your pet weekly between baths. I know many people who swear by it. A really good diet for the dog also helps the skin so it doesn't produce as much dander.

So allergies don't always have to mean finding a new home for Fido, sometimes it just takes a little more care to keep the hair and dander under control as well as taking good care of yourself and perhaps a little medication. Singulair® has been enormous help to me with my allergies, I haven't had an asthma attack since I've been on it, and I can feel the difference if I forget to take it. So I live with taking a pill daily. Some things you can't avoid, other things you choose not to avoid. That seems to keep life happier for me.