Mar 032019
 

by Doranna

As we know, Bob, it’s been a while since I was blogging with any regularity.  Long enough, in fact, that Things Canine have undergone quite a few changes.

Tristan, for instance, was less than six months old when I last blogged.  Now he’s a young man with significant titles on both ends, about to head to AKC Agility Nationals!  So here’s a part 1 re-introduction: Continue reading »

Jun 082015
 

by Doranna

0711.connery.teeter.LJTell you what. I am so sick of other people being all up in my business. Trying to control my personal decisions about my dogs when it comes to spay/neuter, collars, car crating…

For one thing, no matter how much outside micromanagement occurs, the irresponsible people who inspire the micromanagement are still irresponsible, while the rest of us pay the price.

For another, to manage our dogs to their best benefit it takes thoughtful understanding of the individual circumstances–and the ability to make choices accordingly.

Something we’re allowed in increasingly short supply these days.

My Beagles are pro-choice boys when it comes to neutering. That doesn’t mean being fervently on one side or the other…it means understanding the pros and cons of the choices and factoring in our household, our resources, and the individual dogs. And then doing what’s best for them.

Most of my online friends know that I never had any intention of neutering 5yo Dart. I mean, why would I even consider it, when there are so many studies pointing to the health consequences?*

*(That’s the usual discussion for another time. Or go Google for studies rather than opinions. It’s not hard to find the information. Here’s a brief but far from complete start.)

Anyway, this choice thing goes both ways, so I respect that circumstances sometimes make neutering seem the most responsible decision in spite of the health consequences. But for us it very much isn’t.

Wasn’t.

Things do change.

In Dart’s life, too much changed, too persistently. He lost his older sister Belle Cardigan. He gained a new older sister in Rena Beagle who turned out to have escalating, chronic health issues. Then after a series of struggles, he lost that sister, too. He gained a younger brother in Mickey Cat, who was as much a part of his life as any of us. Then Mickey Cat was badly injured; the stress and recovery affected them all. Then–and all this as Dart was heading for his prime while older brother Connery aged into graceful Unclehood–he gained his younger brother Tristan Beagle. And then, finally, almost a year after losing Rena…

He lost his beloved Mickey Cat. Sad and sudden.

Dart was born a hyper-vigilant and over-stimulated dog. He was struggling even before we lost Mickey–too many changes, too much assumed responsibility on the shoulders of the pack’s only intact adult male.

Mickey’s loss pushed things over the edge. By early spring, Dart was constantly hackled, walking around on his toes with a growl in his throat. Suddenly we were actively managing to prevent an always-imminent explosion. And the worst part?

Dart knew it. Knew he was acting out, knew he was causing trouble, and was miserable with it.   Herbal calming options didn’t work. GABA-based options didn’t work. Valerian put him to sleep, which I suppose worked in its way, but not in a quality-of-life way.

So we had a family discussion and then I talked to his breeder, who is wonderful for all the right reasons and knows exactly the oddity that is Dart, and within moments the decision was made.

dart.vulture.220Within a week, the deed was done.

Because while neutering most certainly won’t change ill-manners or learned behaviors, it can help an over-reactive dog. And while I did consider medication–in fact, the $$amitriptyline$$ still sits unused on my counter–I wasn’t quite ready to try it without exploring all other options.

It’ll take six months from surgery for Dart to settle into his new steady state, but the changes are already obvious. The pack runs together again, needing no special management at meal times, bed times, or transition times. Dart and Tristan play together with abandon, and Dart doesn’t flail into reactivity when they do.

For this dog, this time of his life, it was the right thing to do.

dart.heel.313It’s up to all of us to make the best possible decisions as we go along, factoring in not the shame culture that now imbues the spay/neuter discussion and not the fact that Family Smith down the road isn’t able or interested in responsibly handling an intact dog, but based on what we know and actively continue learning about dog health/behavior, and on our own individual dogs.

Along the way, people who aren’t us need to stop thinking that they are, and need to stop trying to force and shame us into decisions that aren’t in the best interests of our specific circumstances. They should make the best decisions for them.

As for me, I’ll go on supporting everyone’s ability to make their own choice. That includes spreading the word about the health consequences of neutering, talking up sterilization instead of neuter, and yes, supporting low-cost S/N. And then I’ll stay out of other people’s business while they make their choices, and thank them to stay out of mine.

Mar 312015
 

by Doranna

grrr!  grrr!

grrr! grrr!

I’m no stranger to dog fights.

I started my first pack while living remotely in the mountains—extraordinary, experienced varmint hunters who didn’t just squabble when the time came for the changing of the guard.  No, they inflicted significant damage.  As we were three hours from the vet we couldn’t afford, it behooved me not only to know how to break these fights up, but how to prevent them.

With a former feral dog as the pack’s foundation, I’d always managed them on a fairly primal level—as part of the pack, on their terms.  Boss bitch.  But while this allowed me to break the fights up without taking damage, it didn’t prevent them.  And as they escalated, I decided that they needed more than policing—that in fact, the policing sometimes made things worse.  They needed, individually, to know they were secure and loved. Continue reading »

Mar 142015
 

0711.connery.teeter.LJIt can be hard to work with genius.

Take Connery Beagle.  He’s honest and hardworking and loves to sing his song of self, and did I mention honest?  By which I mean internally as well as externally.  He’s not so tangled in his inner thoughts that he gets in his own way.

But Dart’s an unusual boy.  He vibrates with atomic intensity, he’s brilliant, and he desperately wants to be good and right.  But he’s so emotional—and so completely devoid of impulse control—that he constantly gets in his own way. Continue reading »

Mar 042015
 

durgin.dart.dsc1120.400Once you embark on the Way of Dog Performance Sports (obedience, rally, tracking, agility), certain things change.  Every cares about the health and well-being of their dogs—but when you’re asking for more from them—and when you’re planning your training around what you hope to accomplish—then not only do the obligations increase, but the whole matter is never far from your radar.

It would be easy to get bogged down on the details.  Continue reading »

Feb 172015
 
Even I have to admit this is a pretty good Face of Innocence.

Even I have to admit this is a pretty good Face of Innocence.

Ohh, it seems so easy to see wherein lies the FAIL.

The dog is trained.  The dog is proofed. The dog is in a familiar environment.

So he should know better.

And thus Dart Beagle recently went to obedience drill and wouldn’t. 

He flopped around when asked to sit for the stay exercises.  He got up.  He got up.  He got up. Continue reading »

Dec 232014
 
Connery's first baby picture--about three weeks old!

Connery’s first baby picture–about three weeks old!

Puppy breath.  Slightly sour, slightly tangy, a hint of skunky.  No kind of smell that a person would normally crave.

At least, not until there’s a puppy in your hands and you suddenly realize how much you’ve missed that very thing.

I’ve always timed my puppies carefully, according to the age and need of the current pack.  I stay aware of who’s breeding the sort of dog I like, occasionally reaching out here and there with the intent to wait if there’s something perfect to wait for.  (I waited two years for Connery, for instance…)

I most recently started serious puppy-planning about five years ago, but things got…complicated.  And a little bit Fate-ish. Continue reading »

Dec 012014
 

by Doranna

Post-tracking boyz, synchronized sleeping

Post-tracking boyz, synchronized sleeping

Yep, we had our big once-a-year local Variable Surface Tracking test on Sunday.  Beautiful weather, for sure–the best I’ve ever had for a test.  The best photos do not include me, because I wore a hat all day so no thanks, but the Beagle boyz are the important ones anyway!

Connery was track five of six and Dart was track six, so we watched the first tracks and then waited for Connery’s turn in the quiet of a parking lot distant from the test “home base.” The tracks are laid all over a large campus.

After the tracks are run, the handlers and the club and the tracklayers meet up at the “home base” parking for a tailgate lunch.  We all talk about what went wrong and right and say nice things about each other’s dogs, talk about other tracks we’ve run and what we plan in the future.  Fun, right? Continue reading »

Nov 172014
 

by Doranna

cb.dart.visiting.848My lesson for the month: Plans mutate.

(Probably my lesson for life, but let’s just stick with the month.)

I’d intended to blog about the treadmill thing again today, especially in the wake of my aggravated feet.

Then again, this fall I’d also intended to adopt a socialization-resistant kitten as a barn cat (yes, this cat sleeping here on my office chair), get caught up on my paperwork, get a book started/finished before the end of the year, target completion of Connery’s PACH title, and figure out how to relax when it was time to relax.

And in the really big picture, I once thought to keep beating my head against traditional publishing until I finally found where I fit.

One thing at a time, I guess.

In any event, I’m not writing about the treadmill thing today.  Because things change, and yesterday I went tracking, and as it happens the tracking was all about things changing.

(The meta here is just killing me.)

Continue reading »