Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Just Another Dog Blog!! I love, love, love the pictures the author takes of her dogs!! And the stories that go along with the pictures totally crack me up. The dogs seem to have so much personality popping out of the pictures that I can't help but be drawn in. If you want to check out an enjoyable blog that'll brighten your day, then head on over and check them out!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Walking On Your Feet Trick

My Movie Monday for this week involves a "failed" trick that we worked on. The trick was Walking On Your Feet, where the dog puts his/her feet on yours and walks along with you. If you're wondering what I was thinking trying this trick, after a few tries, so was I!

For starters, I have discouraged the danes from stepping on my feet since they entered the house. Who wants 100++ lbs. of dog stomping on your foot? Not me!! So this trick directly goes against what I've otherwise taught them to do. Understandably, it took a while to get them to target the tops of my feet and then to also put their full weight on. Once they were comfortable putting the full weight on, I started realizing that this really wasn't that great of an idea. I was already planning on modifying the trick to have the dogs stay in front of me. Heffner won't fit in between my legs unless I have stripper shoes on. And Bess won't comfortably fit with my flat footed. I finally decided to stop working on the trick and just dork around, which is what the last little portion of the video is. Oh yeah, and this video is a GREAT example of how horrible my timing with the clicker can be. **shudder**

Happy Monday everyone!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spit Happens

Boy howdy does it ever in this house! If you have a dog with largish lips, then you're probably all too familiar with the random slingers that end up in all manner of places around the house. The more dogs of this variety you have, the more slingers can accrue. I am not overly fond of spending chunks of time solely cleaning the slobber off the walls and other areas, so the de-sliming of the house happens infrequently. Usually when we're about to have company over who haven't been to the house before. We try to at least make a good first impression. It's all down hill after that!;0)

More recently, we needed to start de-sliming the main traffic areas of the house. As I was about to start, I had a little thought that it might be entertaining (or gross for those of you who manage to have dogs and still maintain an immaculate house. I hate you by the way.;0) ) to take before and after pictures! So, for your viewing pleasure, here are the before pictures (sorry about the lighting, if you click on the pictures to bigify them, it's clearer).

And here are the after pictures!

And if you notice, the first wall shot is the same wall with the hole that I posted about previously.

Thankfully Adam figured out a relatively quick way to get the slobber off because just using a rag was VERY time consuming and made a not so fun job, worse. And since the whole house needs to be repainted anyhow, who cares if we scrape some paint off in the process!lol

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend and that those in Irene's path are hanging in there and not suffering much from damages!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wanna Know What's Gross?!

I have a story. A true story about an event that happened this past Sunday evening. As I've told several people about it, I realized that the story sounds a lot like those grosser than gross jokes that I told as a kid. So here goes.

Wanna know what's gross?

Ruthie is a poop eater.

Wanna know what's grosser than gross?

She ate Bora's poop on Sunday night.

Wanna know what's grosser than that?

She vomited said poop back up on Bora's dad!

I sh*t you not (pun totally intended)! Sunday evening we had Bora and her parents over for a fun BBQ. At one point, we put the big dogs away and brought Ruthie and Bora in to the media room to watch a little True Blood with all four of us. Ruthie's face smelled an awful lot like poo. And she happens to be a poo eater. And Ruthie had already done her poppin' for the day, which left Bora's poo. Super!

Bora's dad called Ruthie over to come sit on his lap on the couch. We turned the lights off and started watching a little True Blood. Then Ruthie made a burping noise and Bill said that he thought she puked a little. We turned on the lights and sure enough, Ruthie up-chucked the poo she ate. Right onto Bills shorts, leg, the couch, and the carpet. Awesome!

I seriously couldn't even make this stuff up! We'll put that one under The Ruthie Chronicles.;0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Books of the Month

My first pick for Book of the Month for August is Susan Garrett's "Shaping Success!" First I will give two thumbs up to having Greg Louganis do the forward! In case you're wondering, Greg has had harlequin great danes. I actually have a picture of him with Heffner's dad, CH Manatasquot's Jame Taylor. Very cool!:0)

I’ve heard mention of this book here and there and I obviously know who Susan Garrett is, so I finally decided to just buy the book and see what it was all about. I’m really glad that I did because I think it’s a fabulous book! Susan Garrett wrote an ongoing monthly article in Clean Run magazine about training her then newest border collie puppy, Buzz. Buzz proved to be quite the training challenge for her and she learned a whole lot more about dog training in general and different ways to think about training and/or retraining various agility related maneuvers.

Sprinkled throughout the book are a variety of training “games” to play with your dog from puppy up through adulthood. I especially love this feature of the book! These games have given me new ideas for fun things to do with all three of my dogs that will help us in our agility career! Everything from foundation work to help build a strong understanding of the obstacles, to how to adapt your training to fit an older dog who may not be able to run quite like he/she used to.

Mostly, I have to admit, that it is reassuring to hear of the struggles that someone so well known went through with her dog and how she over came and worked with what she had to become a very successful team. The important theme in this book is that Susan never gave up on Buzz. Things may have taken her longer with him and he continued to present challenges throughout his life that she had to really think through, but she never gave up. I can personally relate to some of the challenges that she has gone through, and it was great for me to read about how she tackled them and worked through them with Buzz. I feel that after reading this book, along with many other things that I continue to learn about as time goes on, I will have a clearer picture of how I want to start training our next puppy and just how I will go about building that strong foundation that is so necessary.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in agility or just dog training in general read this book. It’s enjoyable to read and I think there’s something in there for anyone, regardless of your chosen discipline.
My great dane related pick for the month is "The Basic Guide to the Great Dane," by Breeders who know the breed for those who are interested in learning more about the Great Dane. The phrasing of who the authors are cracks me up (the actual listing of who contributed is located inside)! However, it is a very good hint to the information within this book. I think the book is absolutely a great resource for those who are interested in learning more about the breed. Every topic is covered in a very informative way. At the same time, it's all phrased in such a way that I could literally see breeders I know saying what was written. For that alone, I love it! If you're interested in learning more about the breed, I highly recommend this book! It's informative, but also very enjoyable to read.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is another agility blog that I'm sure many are already well aware of, Susan Garrett's blog!! I have some of Susan's books and DVDs and I enjoy the way in which she breaks things down into a less overwhelming task. I'm not always the greatest at this and it's really helpful to have someone else do it for me! I also really enjoy the way that she writes, narrates, and the many topics on her blog. I think there's something in there for everyone, so if you haven't already done so, head on over and check it out!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Movie Monday

Last week I took the big dogs out to Hagg Lake so that Heffner could do some swimming and Bess could burn off some pent up energy by NOT swimming. I was a little taken off guard by just how much energy she apparently had to burn off. Here's the video of some of the clips put together of what she does on the beach while Heffner and I swim:

She seriously did that for most of the time that we were out there. It was a little crazy. I can understand the occasional zoomies, but this was a pretty constant thing. She'd take periodic little breaks, and then just start zipping up and down the shore again. You would have thought I hopped her up on a bunch of sugar!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Oh The Learning

This sign is outside the arena where many of our agility trials are held. I've been meaning to snap a picture of the danes next to it for ages and finally did yesterday. I think I may have a picture of Heffner next to it at some point, but I don't really remember. Anyhow, if you have a giant breed dog, you've had your dog referenced to a horse or pony innumerable times and will probably find this at least remotely humorous.;0)

Yesterday I had Bess entered in a CPE agility trial. And as always, it was a learning experience. I will say, however, that Bess was great throughout and our problems throughout the day were all gross handler mistakes. Ug! For a dog who has done zero agility work since the match at the beginning of June, she was awesome!

For starters, the trial let me know that Bess can in fact take a little over two months off of agility completely and really be no worse for the wear. Most excellent!

Secondly, I learned that trialing during the summer is now officially out for us period. I don't trial Heffner during the summer in any sport because he doesn't do well in the heat. Ruthie will not be trialed during the summer (once we get to that point) because her anatomy predisposes her to having difficulties with the heat. And I will no longer be trialing during the summer because quite frankly, it makes me miserable. Miserable me, means that I'm not having much fun.

Bess was still awesome. She's not overly bothered by the heat and can still function quite well. She also recovers well after exercise in the heat. Two thumbs up for her. I, however, just don't do so well. I was not loving competing yesterday and kept wishing that I was out on the lake with the dogs or at least at home in the wonderful AC.

We have had a pretty mild summer this year and I have been absolutely LOVING it! It's allowed me to be more active with the dogs than I otherwise would be and I've been taking full advantage of that. We've been able to fit in up to three hour long hikes a week this whole summer. Additionally, running with the danes in the evenings hasn't been an issue either. It's been pretty fantastic! That changed yesterday. We have our first over 90 degree day of the whole summer. I realize that other parts of the country have been dealing with ridiculous temperatures and humidity for most of the summer, but we haven't, and the change yesterday kind of sucked. The arena that we trialled in was sticky hot. Even though it was well over 90 degrees outside, it was still hotter inside. And the air wasn't moving despite the ginormous building fans that they turned on. I was completely hosing Bess down before her later runs to keep her cool enough. Bleck! But lets get down to the nitty gritty details.;0)
I believe that I have mentioned before that Bess is a rather energetic girl. It is ideal upon getting settled at a show sight, that she have some time to warm up and work a few "kinks" out before entering an agility ring. Welllllllll....we sort of got stuck on I-5 during a bridge lift (when there had JUST been one five min. previously!), which had us getting to the trial site about 20 min. later than I had planned. And it took me a while to get our little area set up with the x-pen, crate, and other assorted stuff. And then there was the general briefing. And we were the second dog on the line. Soooooooooooo, Bess went from her crate into the agility ring. My bad! Our first class was FullHouse and it was an NQ. She handled her contacts well. She handled the obstacles well. However, we had a few zoomy moments. BUT, she came back to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I CALLED HER BACK! That is an accomplishment plain and simple. While we did not qualify, the class was still a success. Lesson learned. Next up was Wildcard.
We had a good plan and the run was going quite well. I warmed Bess up a little too much and hadn't yet started hosing her down prior to her runs, so she was a little hot and moving slower than is her usual. She wasn't even bursting out of the tunnels as she loves to do. Still, we were going along pretty well. I believe we knocked a bar on jump #4. I got in a front cross that worked mostly well. I was a little late on it and she ticked the bar, but didn't drop it. Then on the final jump I started celebrating as she took off and the bar was knocked. NQ. Bummer! Bessy did great though! Next up was Colors.
Everything was going well on this course. Bess was much happier after getting hosed down. We did have to restart the weaves, but I'm okay with that. This fall we'll work on rebuilding the value of the weaves. Otherwise Bess was running well and things were going great. Until the last jump. It was a straight stretch coming out of the tunnel and I just kept telling her "go, go, go." Not the best plan of action for me. She got excited and distracted by me on the final jump and went around it. I went to take her back and she back jumped it, and knocked the bar. I think we could have gotten away with the off course, but there aren't any allowed knocked bars in Colors. Bad handler on two accounts! Yelling commands at Bess while preparing for a jump when she's more sensitive to this. And then not being careful enough to redirect her around the jump to take it the correct way. D'oh! Next up were our final two runs of the day in Standard.
The first Standard run went really well! Or so I thought. It felt good, it was clean and I was REALLY happy with how well Bess did on course. None of that has changed. She was great and I'm very proud of where we're at considering where we've come from. My friend Shana had watched our run and she thought that we got called on an up contact on the A-frame. That's okay, we're allowed one of those faults with out it killing the run. Plus, I don't really care about the up contact on the A-frame with either of the danes. They take such a huge stride that trying to regulate them enough to get them to get at least one toe in the yellow is not something that I actually want to work on. AKC is okay with a missed up contact on the A-frame and I like that way of thinking. Unfortunately, it may be a deal breaker in CPE, we'll see. Otherwise, that's the only real fault in our run. Or so I thought. After seeing the results, we had one other fault that put us over the allowed limit and an NQ. I honestly have no idea where this other fault came from. She had great contacts on the dogwalk and didn't knock any bars. I thought it was a great run, but apparently we incurred a mystery fault some where. Bummer!
For our second Standard run, I am just going to plead that the heat was getting to me. At this point, just standing or sitting still was causing me to sweat because it was that hot inside the arena. Bess had gotten hosed down and was totally fine. Not even panting. I was melting. And apparently so was my brain. It was a fine course and Bess was doing everything I asked of her perfectly. And then after jump #8 I decided to make up my own course. I knew something was wrong when I realized that the entrance to the tunnel wasn't where I thought it was supposed to be. Instead of doing the double to the teeter to the tunnel, I did the #13 jump to the weaves and then to the tunnel. After realizing this, I couldn't even manage to get my bearings on course to realize where I should have gone. I was completely and utterly lost. Wow. That hasn't happened to me in a looooooong time! It was crazy. But I was fried and was happy to be heading home after that.

So no Q's this weekend, but I'm still very happy with how Bessy did. She was great! Her handler? Not so much. But that's okay, I learned plenty and I finally go the take home message that trialing during the summer su-didly-ucks for me!

After our runs were over I quickly started packing our stuff up and then got myself changed into my kickball garb. Saturday was our championship game!! Because the trial had run so long (I knew going into it that it was very unlikely that I would be able to run home and drop Bess off prior to the game), Bess was going to get to hang out on the side lines and be our team mascot.:0) Thankfully the field was completely shaded and there was a nice enough breeze that I wasn't overly paranoid about her getting hot. Everyone was quite smitten with her and she got a TON of attention from our team and people from the opposing team alike. I have to say that I think she was our little good luck charm. Our team was pretty much rockin' it last night! Not only did we win the championship, but we put in some of the best performances that we have all season. Adam was kickball black hole! Pretty much everything that came his way, he caught and got us an out. And the topping to my awesome evening was that I finally caught a freaking ball!! The tough team that we played in the final game has a few guys who have tagged me as the weaker player in the outfield and had previously intentionally kicked the ball in my direction with the plan that I would drop the ball and they wouldn't get the out. I am very happy to say that their plan totally back fired on them and I caught the first ball kicked in my direction!! Woot!!! It was a pretty tense and kick ass game and I'm stoked that we won!!

Since I'm well aware how long CPE trial days usually last, I decided to only enter one day this weekend. Which means that I have today to chill and enjoy my dogs!! This evening Bora and her parents are coming over for a little BBQ! We're excited to see them and Bora, since it's been a little while since we last got together and I'm sure that Bora has grown so much in that time.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

YouTube of the Month

It's summer, and warmer temperatures mean great opportunities to play in the water with your dog, if you have one who is so inclined. At the moment, I'm waiting for Adam to finish up some things and hoping that he will agree to come out to the lake with the big dogs and I. If he can come out and help me with Heffner, I'm going to attempt to get the big boy to jump off a boat dock. Which will entail me jumping into the water. And hopefully that will kick his "save momma" drive into gear and he will jump in after me. That's the theory. Not so sure that it'll actually work, but the chances go up higher if someone is holding him back. While he enjoys swimming in pretty much all bodies of water, we haven't had much luck at the few dock dogs practices that we've gone to.

So while I'm crossing my fingers that things will work out in our favor tonight, my pick for YouTube of the Month for August is a clip from the Big Air division of a 2007 DockDogs competition. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is The Life Story of Miss Layla!!! I don't know how on earth I have gone this long without picking Amy and Layla's blog! I honestly thought that I already had until I actually went looking for the nonexistent post. Layla is a wonderful malamute girl who is destined for greatness in the performance ring! She and Amy work very hard in their chosen disciplines and it definitely shows in the progress that they've made. I really enjoy hearing about non traditional breeds making their way in performance sports and after following Amy and Layla for quite a while now, in a weird way I feel like I actually know them. I thoroughly enjoy reading their blog and I hope that you'll pop on over and say hi to them!

P.S. Amy, if you're reading this, I'm not entirely sure that you'll be able to comment. I have been unable to comment on your blog and I have a feeling it may be the same for you on mine. Is this another Blogger blip????

Monday, August 15, 2011

Movie Monday

I'm pretty sure that I can manage to collect enough material between the three dogs to have a running weekly routine on Monday of posting videos. We'll see how long it lasts.;0) For your viewing pleasure today I've a few short clips from the camping trip this past weekend. A little bit of Heffner swimming, a little bit of Bess being a spaz in the background, and a little clip with Ruthie trucking along the trail. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We're Baaaaaaack!

Thursday evening we headed out to the Mt. Hood area for the annual family reunion/camp out with Adam's extended family. We were smart this year and rented one of their little rustic cabins, instead of tent camping in one of their "tent sites" that consisted of dirt and gravel, but mostly gravel. The dogs were happier and more comfortable, as were we. The other huge plus this year was that the temperatures weren't so ridiculously hot that doing anything involving physical exertion was only possibly before dawn or after midnight. Heffner was VERY happy about this! Last year was positively miserable. Between the crappy camp site and the miserable weather, it was not an enjoyable camping trip.

We got all settled into our little rustic cabin on Thursday evening (didn't manage to snap a picture, sorry!), did a little visiting with the family members who were over in the tent/trailer camping area, and then hit the hay. The first night is usually always a little rough for at least the danes. There's all these odd sounds, they're sleeping on beds that aren't their normal ones, and they're keyed up with all the possibilities that a new place holds. As the wee hours of the morning were approaching, they got up multiple times to encourage Adam and I to get up and do something with them. Adam being the "delicate" sleeper that he is, was fully woken up each time they did this and had a hard time falling back to sleep. Finally at 8am I gave in and took the danes out for a potty walk while Adam took Ruthie. The danes were fired up and ready to create some havoc, but did mange to do their business without entirely driving me batty hanging on to both of them. After feeding them all and letting breakfast settle, Adam headed to main family camp area with Ruthie and I headed out with the danes to attempt to take the edge off their energy stores. The weather was really nice and we had a quite enjoyable time walking all over the place. We hiked about for about an hour (all on leash, and wasn't that a treat!) and then headed back to the cabin. The weather was warming up enough that it helped to take the initial edge off the big dogs. I let them take a bit of a nap, so that I could go visit.

After making the rounds, I gathered up Adam and we collected up the danes to go do some swimming up at Clear Lake. I've never actually been to the lake when the area isn't covered in snow! It's a really nice area with some very rough camping, which I really like! We only explored a portion of the lake, but did have some fun using the 4-wheel drive! After picking a spot that was within a good walking distance of the lake, we unloaded. Bess was WIRED! She spent a great deal of the time we were there just ripping up and down the beach. Someone doesn't do so well with being cooped up! While I'm always hopeful that one of these days she just decide to try swimming, I'm pretty much resigned to having one water loving dane in the house. She didn't wade in very far this time either, but Heffner enjoyed himself!

I LOVE swimming with my boy!!
After our fun outing, the danes had been pretty appropriately exorcised and were content to just chill in the cabin. Since Ruthie had been left behind, it was her turn for a fun little outing! I wanted to see if maybe I was going to have a second water loving dog. I bought her a life vest a little while ago and was excited to try it out on her and see what she thought. The Salmon River runs close to the RV Resort (yes we were "camping" in an RV Resort) that we were staying at and there was a section of it that was great for swimming in. I headed in that direction for a little water introduction with the Mighty Midget. The path is a bit like a hiking trail and this is what Ruthie thought of the whole great outdoors experience!
She loves people, but she's not overly fond of "being one with nature.";0) We got down to the beach and I let her sniff around a little bit to see if she was going to explore the water on her own and what she would think of it.

After a bit I put her life vest on her to see what she thought. What do you think?
Not terribly impressed and also not that willing to move with it on, I decided to pick her up and put her in some of the shallow water to see what she thought. First, she wasn't terribly impressed by how wet it was.

I did get her out into some deeper water where she had to swim. While she was exactly thrilled and seeking out the deeper water, she also didn't freak out or start frantically swimming to shore. And once on shore, she didn't take off away from the water. I would have to say that her reaction to swimming was mostly one of it being more effort than she really cared to put in.
Who knows, maybe with some continued gentle introductions to swimming (preferably when there aren't giants galumphing about) she could learn to actually enjoy it! For now, we are definitely a one water loving dog household.

Later on that evening, Bess got to run around on the same shore with Kona, Adam's aunt Kathy's viszla puppy! They both had a blast! That little guy was a total red blur! I'm not quite sure that Bess knew what to do with something that small and fast.

Saturday was a pretty kicked back day. We had done plenty on Friday and I was more than happy to mostly chill. I did take the big dogs out and about for an hour and Ruthie got to hang out at the main family camp. Other than that, we were pretty content to chill. Adam and I headed back in to Portland that evening for a kickball game. Our team captain put together some theme songs for all of us that were absolutely hilarious and right on!! We ended the game with a pretty resounding win.

Then this morning we slept a bit later than expected and got up in time to pack everything up and check out. We've now got tons of laundry going, everything is unpacked, and I am settling in for some relaxing though the danes are eyeing me for some exercise. We'll see what comes of that.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Interesting Story

This got posted on her Facebook page as well as a few email lists, but I thought it was totally worth posting for those who may find it interesting, but may not be on the lists.


I remember when Keri brought Mega home and hearing vaguely about some problem with one of her back legs, but didn't really hear more. This article gives the story and the really neat research that's out there. Veterinary science is doing some amazing things!

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is MargeBlog!! This blog is about Marge, a black lab mix who was adopted from a shelter. She started off as a dog with many fears and through the diligence and love of her mom, has conquered or learned to manage many of her fears. While reactivity and fear in all its many forms can be a daily challenge, they come very far and are even to the point where they are able to compete in performance events! I think it's very encouraging to hear of how other handlers and their dogs have over come various obstacles and how they continue to work things out. There's always more that you can learn from others and I think this blog is great for that! So head on over and check them out!

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Play Dead"

I'm finally getting around to editing and putting together some videos that I've accumulated of the dogs. We have some tricks that are a little back logged. Some that worked for the most part and some that I decided to stop working on because it was physically causing me pain for the dogs to do the tricks.

Today we have the "Play Dead" trick. Bess caught on to this super fast! She started anticipating the commands, which I have to admit that I still thought was cute. Heffner is physically more dog to get around for the initial part, so it was more awkward for me to start the initial phase of the trick. I'm pretty happy with the finished product. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For The Record

It's unfortunate that I even feel the need to post this, but I did want to make a clarification. After Thursday's post, I received a response from the author. I thought it odd that he would just happen to come across my post, but it could happen. I decided to check out the comments section of his original post to see if it was a matter of him finding my post or of him being directed towards it. It was the latter. That's fine. This happens all the time and was something that I basically expected. What is most disturbing though is that someone posted the link to my post pretending to be me. They used the identifying name of Life With Big Dogs. And the link that goes along with the name, is my blog link. I am stating this right now, I did not post that.

I have been given a fairly good idea of who would post this and it's not appreciated. It's incredibly immature when someone else tries to start a fight between two people by doing something like this. I chose not to comment on the post because I didn't really see a point in it. I used that post in my own post as an example of why people should read information posted online with a critical eye as opposed to just believing everything that they read. If I wanted to pick a fight with the original author, there are a plethora of better ways to go about it. However, that was not my intent.

I guess this is yet another example of why you shouldn't believe everything that you read online. There are those out there who apparently have nothing better to do than to try to stir things up. This is the last that I will speak about this particular topic. I will return our regularly scheduled (sort of!) blog posts shortly. Hopefully I'll have some time today to put together the videos that I've been meaning to for a few months now!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Read Critically

Today I was passed along a link to a blog post with the warning that the sender had not read through the post, but thought that it was a topic I would be interested in. The topic was great dane coat color genetics and specifically the harlequin family. You bet I'm interested! The post got me thinking about a lot of things and got a fire under my bottom to write a post myself about reading things critically. It's something that I've meant to do several times when various studies or topics have come up and people have posted links to various articles or posts. I just haven't gotten around to it, but I now I will!

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of what I want to talk about, I want to preface this post with a few things.

1) If you are interested in great dane coat color genetics (and it's really a fascinating topic!), I recommend that you go to JP Yousha's page discussing it. Coat color genetics is a very involved field of study and there are literally volumes written solely about it, but I think she does a good job of summing things up.

2) I work in the field of biological research as a research assistant. Through many lab meetings centered around reviewing academic journal articles and critically assessing them for scientific validity, I tend to lean more towards the cynical side when I read some things that are purported to be of a more scientific and factual basis.

The blog post in question is titled Something is Rotten in Harlequin Great Danes. Nice way to start things out, eh?;0) I will start off by giving the author props on writing a very educational post. Just not educational in the means that he intended! I think this blog post is an excellent example of how you have to be careful with what you read and how much you trust. So lets tear this post apart a little, shall we?;0)

For starters, I'm always leery of anything "factual" or expose like that is written about a particular breed by someone who is not actively involved in the breed. There are all manner of nuances, little known truths, and gray areas that are best known by those in the trenches, so to speak. It is much easier to paint the public a picture that is black and white (pun intended!), as opposed to going into the very difficult task of explaining the various shades of grey and why they are so. It can take breeders decades to figure these out. How can you expect someone outside of the breed to get that kind of understanding with just a casual investment? The take home message is beware of those who are obviously willing to trash other breeds when they themselves have very limited to no experience with it.

Next up, stating that the result of a harl to harl breeding is 7 lethal: 5 undesirable: 4 harlequin. These are theoretical numbers based on the likelihood of how the genetics will work out, not cold hard facts of how every single harl to harl breeding will in fact turn out. This statement is also incorrect, but I'll explain that in just a second. Just because the genetics should theoretically work out that way doesn't mean that they will. Do you know how many harl to harl breedings there are that do NOT have these kind of genetic break downs? If this really were the case, back yard breeders would never breed harls because their profit margin would be so much better with other color families.

Following in the foot steps of this incorrect ratio is a punnett square illustration of the phenotypes that are expressed with these genotypes. The so called undesirable colors are highlighted in yellow. The problem here is that three mantles are highlighted. Mantles are in fact a desirable coat coloring and one of six coat colors accepted in the official breed standard. Oops! Looks like that's a blatant piece of incorrect information! Should have been a little more careful with that one.

The next item is really more of a pet peeve than anything. I prefer that if you're going to talk about coat color genetics and you're going to give the abbreviations for the genetics that give the phenotype, you should give a little more background and be a little more all inclusive with the other genetics that play into it. Understandably, harlequin genetics are tricky and there are a plethora of modifiers that effect things. So being so cut, dry, and incomplete is not okay with me. You're leaving out critical information that people unfamiliar with the topic should have in order to better assess if you as the author are full of BS or not. Basically, tsk, tsk.

Next up is another instance of blatant misinformation. This time around, he included a link, that if the readers follow, they will hopefully come to realize it doesn't say what he is claiming it says. The statement is "the Great Dane Club of America not only permits the breeding of Harlequin to Harlequin and Merle." The link he gives is this one. If you follow this link, you will find that NO WHERE on that page is the merle coloring even mentioned let alone encouraged as breeding stock!! For crying out loud, if you're going to include a link to a page that is supposed to support your statement, it would be a good idea to make sure that it actually does! Obviously in this case, it does not. Please do not put words into someone else's mouth. In this case, it makes you look like a douche.

And in the interest of not turning this into a super long post with me getting more riled up, I'm going to leave things there because I think I've given a few good examples of why it's important to read things online with a critical eye. The author obviously wants to bash great dane breeders and specifically those who specialize in harlequins. Breeding is not an easy job regardless of the breed. Until you have put some serious time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears (and freaking research!) into the breed, you really have no place to judge. There are just too many things that you don't know. And with an attitude like that, I'm not sure why anyone with the knowledge would waste their time on someone who so obviously has already made their mind up.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Thanks for the replies, both on the blog and otherwise, on yesterday's post!:0) I actually feel a bit more positive about taking the dogs and am 90% sure that I will be entering them both. It helps that we had a REALLY good working session this morning. Heffner is sooooo much fun to do heeling patterns with when he's with me, which he basically was the entire time. When we click, it's the best feeling! Bess is definitely still improving and I feel more positive about possibly having her close to ready to compete by the national now that I've got a mental game plan of what I need to do and where I want her to be by what time. I'm going to be shooting for a fair amount of matches to really work on things, but I think that as long as I stay dedicated and positive about the outcome, things will come together. I already feel so much better about the direction that we're headed in!

I also realized today that I left off two important pros for entering the dogs at the national. A biggy is that they have very cheap echo cardiograms and I really want to get both dogs tested. It's mostly for my own piece of mind, but I believe very strongly in health testing. Even those dogs who aren't intended for breeding stock. They still share genetics with other dogs who are and it's so incredibly beneficial to have as much information out there for anyone planning a litter and wanting to do a little research on what the rest of the family is like.

The other biggy is that I REALLY want to support the performance entry at the national. As you can imagine, great danes are not considered traditional obedience or agility breeds. As such, the entries for these classes aren't terribly large. It's important to get as many entries as possible so that these sports continue to be offered. The performance sports will always be the ugly step child to conformation unless we really plump up the entries and show the parent club that it is worth the time, money, and effort to host these events.

Anywho, so I'm at 90% sure right now. I just really need to research the planned travel route and make sure that it will be okay for us. Exciting stuff!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Here I go, posting adorable pictures of Ruthie already starting to gear up for her Christmas torment, er, fun times, and then I go MIA for a few days. All I can say is that summer time is a busy time and the days go by all too fast. And work is a bit crazy. Then again, that does seem to be our new norm. But back to the dogs.;0)

I got the official thumbs up from Adam that my planned trip with the danes to the great dane national specialty this year is a go. But I have to admit that I'm having a bit of a dilemma. When I went in 2009, it was AWESOME! I got to see and experience a whole lot of things and since I didn't bring the big dogs, I didn't have to worry about them being stuck in the hotel room while I was out watching conformation for 10 hours a day. At the time, it really got me fired up to actually make it to a national specialty with both of my danes so that I could have the experience with them and also because I'm just proud of them both. Now, I do have to admit that I'm weighing the merits of going with the dogs. Here are the points in favor of going without the dogs:

1) I wouldn't have to take as much time off of work because I could fly to the specialty.

2) I'd save money on gas and wear and tear on my truck by not driving to Litchfield Park, AZ.

3) I'm slightly worried about how Heffner will do with the potential warm weather when our weather will be definitely cooler by then (beginning of November).

4) Obedience and rally are not exactly going terribly well for us right now. I'd have Heffner entered in Rally Excellent and Beginner Novice for obedience. My expectations are low since I don't view him as my "competitive dog," and I'm totally fine with that. But it's a lot of time and money to be spent on a lack luster performance when I know that he'll be distracted by all the other danes, especially any intact males. I also don't think that Bess' obedience ring related problems will be "fixed" by the beginning of November. It's probably a bit of a stretch to hope for that. And do I really want to take her into the ring if I'm not totally confident in the out come of our performance?

5) Watching hours upon hours of anything at the specialty will not be a possibility because I will be preoccupied with how the dogs are doing being crated in the hotel room. Not to mention, I just wouldn't want to leave them for very long.

6) The drive. I am concerned about the temperatures on the drive and more importantly how it will be for the dogs in the canopy of the truck. I don't know the area along the route well at all and pulling both dogs into the air conditioned cab would be a serious undertaking that I'm not entirely convinced would even be possible without taking out the front seat.

7) Agility. I'm not sure how Heffner will run if the temperatures are warm. I am not entirely confident yet that Bess has worked out her kinks in the agility ring. I'll find out a little more in a few weeks after the trial I've got her entered in, but right now I'm not totally sure.

8) I would be spending Halloween and the weekend preceding Halloween away from home. While I don't necessarily have a problem with that, Adam hasn't realized yet what the actual dates are that I would be gone.

Here are the points in favor of going with the dogs:

1) Road trip with friends!! I do love road trips. Especially when I get to bring the dogs. I LOVE getting to sleep with them on the bed with me. And the people I would be following are good friends who I don't get to see enough of.

2) This is as far west as the national specialty will get for I think another 7 years. I can't remember how many regions there are, but I think there's seven. The location rotates each year.

3) This would most likely be Heffner's last chance to compete at a national specialty. He'll be almost six for this year's (how'd that happen???) and I don't foresee travelling across the country with him for competitions beyond this year.

4) The opportunity to compete in performance sports with nothing but great danes is pretty awesome!

5) I'm pretty sure that by the time the specialty comes around, I will NEED at least two weeks off from work.

6) As lame as it may seem, I REALLY want the dogs to have a national specialty Parades ribbon!

So yeah, it's going to take some thinking to decide on this one. Regardless, I'm going, I'm going to have a fantastic time, and I will get to see lots of fantastic people and dogs!!