27 January 2009

Dog parks, a necessary evil

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am not a fan of dog parks, mainly because of diseases and germs that are spread from feces and between strange dogs. And sometimes there are acts of aggression and fights between dogs. So initially I was very nervous taking my dogs to a leash-free park here in Glendale, AZ because they aren't used to this type of situation. And, they are valuable show, competition and breeding dogs. At home in Ontario Canada, they run off leash in wooded areas where we generally don't run into other people and dogs. It's dangerous to do that here in Arizona (cactus, rattlesnakes, broken glass everywhere).

Glendale AZ's leash-free park rules say no treats and no squeaky toys (gets dogs too excited the sign says and this may result in fights) & your dog can be banned if it's aggressive or picks fights. I don't take squeaky toys with me but, no treats? How am I going to reward my dogs for exhibiting good behaviour? I did break that rule at first.

Glendale Foothills park actually has 3 runs. The larger area has a small enclosure for small dogs & a much larger area for big dogs. It is closed on Wednesdays for maintainance. The third area is a little larger than the small run for small dogs & it's used by all dogs on Wednesdays and can get very crowded.

The first time we visited the park was a Wednesday; only the third (small) area was open. Fortunately Michael came with me so we could supervise our 4 dogs carefully. I think another rule is only 2 dogs / owner-handler. Miska is alpha dog/bitch in our household and she's used to bossing our dogs around. Tyro is an intact male. I was most concerned about these two. Miska did try to assert some dominance with a couple of dogs who ventured too close to her but I had to reward her when she showed proper behaviour so sneaked her some treats when she started ignoring the dogs that came close. With Tyro, it was more the case of watching to see how the other dogs behaved with him, especially males, both intact and neutered. Tyro is not an aggressive male. It's neutered males who are usually more of a problem with intact males. Anyway, I was relieved there were no issues or incidents that day. The only 'incident' was the Diva got an upset tummy. This happened twice, both times after visiting the leash-free parks. Coincidence? Who knows.

The next time, the larger park was open again & I went without Michael. I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect. Initially I took two girls out first, supervised them - they always wait to poop at the dog park - in case I had to clean up. When I was comfortable with things, I went back and brought out the other 2 dogs. Fortunately, there weren't many dogs or people there at that time. I guess I break the regulation since I have 4 dogs (1 owner) but my guys are usually better behaved and more responsive than most of the other dogs at the park. Generally, they want to be with me rather than interacting with other dogs.

Diva, however, is a social butterfly - like Nova, her grandma - & wants to visit other people and dogs. Being a puppy, she also really wants to play with other dogs. I don't usually worry about her except she did get grazed by a fat Dachshund who didn't want to play with her. (It was a day when the other 2 parks were closed for maintainance so all dogs were forced into the smaller area. Many of the leash-free parks here have a separate area for small dogs and a much larger park for the big dogs.) Diva was doing her play bow but he didn't want to play & eventually told her so. Her skin wasn't broken but she acted like it was. Tyro also loves to run and chase and so far, there have been no issues with other males.

Unlike some owners, I am constantly watching my dogs & walking around with them so they get exercise because Nova and Miska don't tend to play. They aren't into playing fetch or chasing other dogs. Thus I never sit on the benches or rarely stop & chat with people. It's not that I'm unfriendly but I don't want my dogs getting injured or doing something stupid. Watching 4 dogs is a lot more work than with only 1.

I've noticed some 'regulars' at the park & feel OK with their dogs. A number of people have specifically commented on how beautiful my dogs are - they haven't said 'well behaved too' but I think if they didn't feel positive, they probably wouldn't say anything at all or it would be a negative comment.

So while I still am not crazy about dog parks, I am impressed with the ones they have here as they are well provided for and well maintained. I may visit them once per week, mainly to give my knees a rest from all the walking I do with them on leash. Or when Michael & I have been busy during and I don't have 2 hours to spare to walk them. Then it's off to the leash free park for some fun with other dogs.

26 January 2009

Puppy tails, epilepsy study

Before we left for Arizona, I finally had my vet send off the tails from our last litter (born June 16, 2008) to extract DNA for the Vizsla Epilepsy study. I had to wait until all the CKC registrations were complete before I could ship the tails. I also drew blood from Miska and her brother Vadasz (5.5 yr), Tyro (2.5) and Nova who is their mom (9.5 yr.) - all dogs in my breeding program or out of my kennel to send with the tails. To date, none of these dogs have seized but it's still important to participate in health studies like this. It is hoped that one day, a marker will be found for this health problem in Vizslas (as well as a some other breeds).

For more information about health issues and research studies in Vizslas, go to:

24 January 2009

Another ribbon haul for Milo

Hamburg, NY - 11th day of 2009 - Milo the Magnificent Earns his 11th Title

After logging 650 miles and 14½ hours in the car over 3 days between Toronto Ontario and Hamburg, New York, Corrine Sellars and Milo returned home with their AKC Companion Dog (CD) title PLUS two legs towards their AKC Rally Advanced title!!! Corrine emailed to say they also got 3rd place in Novice obedience with a 189-1/2. They had a run-off for 2nd but the judge said R turn but she did an about turn and when he repeated R turn, she went left. She jokingly wrote, "Great Dog - Shame about the Handler". Now Milo is known as Varazs Mokany Ficko FDJ, RN (AKC), RN (CARO), SSGDC, SADC, AG.N.J., CL1-R, AG.N., RACL, CD (AKC), CGN

This was a great accomplishment for this team. In the past year or more, Corrine had some real struggles with Milo 'zoning out' or freezing in agility and also being stressed at rally trials. On Friday, he was a HIT outside of the ring, impressing everyone with his repertoire of tricks. (Playing tricks with your dog is a great way to relax and de-stress.) Milo recovered quickly when something concerned him and he entered and exited both runs with enthusiasm (stays and stand were perfect, good figure eight, improved set-ups. Congratulations Corrine and Milo on a great performance!

Poop, poop & more poop

I am sure that on our street in Glendale, almost every household owns a pet. I hear the dogs bark as I walk my Vizslas along the streets; sometimes they bark at 6 am in the morning when their owners are getting ready for work. I don't often see them though. Maybe they get walked early in the morning or late at night. Clearly some dogs do get walked because I see the evidence - mounds of poop that never gets picked up! There is tons of it around. I am shocked and disgusted at how much dog poop litters the sidewalks, verges and trails here. It reminds me of Italy and France years ago. I couldn't find any "stoop and scoop" regulation for Glendale, other than in the dog parks and on hiking trails in recreation areas. But lots of people still don't bother to clean up on the hiking trails even though there are waste bins and sometimes bags provided.

Most people visiting the leash free parks are pretty good but even there, I've done my civic duty and cleaned up other dogs' waste. Some people totally ignore their dogs at the dog park. One woman was reading her book while her dog played with others and then pooped. I called out, "who owns this dog?" to order to identify the owner so she would clean up after her pet. I'm sure these people wouldn't consider themselves to be irresponsible pet owners. They probably aren't - except for one category.

At one very nice, pet friendly hotel we stayed at in Albuquerque, New Mexico, despite the bags provided to owners, the waste bins, and the signs to clean up after your pet, many guests still didn't.

Dog owners - PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR PETS!!! It's not just disgusting to look at, smell, and step in - it's UNHEALTHY to leave dog poop around.

23 January 2009

Is your dog worth $1.00?

I just received the following bulletin from the Dogs in Canada Blog. ALL dog owners must help to fight and overturn this legislation. I just donated $50 to the challenge. How about you?

Breed Specific Legislation UPDATE - Supreme Court of Canada Challenge

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) came to Ontario in the form of Bill 132 and became law in August 2005. The bill established restrictions against owning, breeding, transferring, importing or abandoning "pit bulls" (defined as being Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers or any dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to any of those breeds).

The Dog Legislation Council of Canada (DLCC) and members of Banned Aid took up the fight against BSL and are now headed to the Supreme Court of Canada, but they need your help to get there.

This fight affects all dogs and fanciers because, "All breeds and mixes are now just a bad news story away, one pen stroke away from being wiped out by our government," states DLCC president LeeAnn O'Reilly.

The DLCC needs to raise $67,000 by the end of January. Thus they launched the Dollars for Dogs campaign and are asking dog lovers to donate a dollar for every dog they own and love.

For more information about the DLCC and their campaign, you can read the Dogs in Canada blog or visit the DLCC's site to learn how to donate.

22 January 2009

First anniversary of our Sasha's death

January 22 2009 is the first anniversary of our Sasha's death. It's a hard day for me because I miss him so much. He would have turned 16 on Dec, 31, 2008. It would have been so wonderful if he could have accompanied us to Arizona. He loved to travel and would have enjoyed the warmth of the weather and just being with me. He definitely was a mamma's boy! That wasn't to be but he's in my heart, my soul, and my memories.

Here is Sasha at around 5 months of age. He still needs to grow into his ears!

And a photo of Sasha and me in our younger days, doing obedience in which he excelled. He scored a first in Open A under judge John Harvey who is a tough judge. We were thrilled!

Below is a photo of Sasha with the Tibor Rieter Trophy for Versatility which Sasha earned at the age of 15 from the Vizsla Society of Ontario. This was taken just a day or two before Sasha died.

Our accomplishments were many but what matters more to me right now is just the memory of my wonderful and loving dog, Sasha.

Dear Sasha,

Oh Sasha, I love and miss you dearly but I can smile at my wonderful memories of you and our terrific accomplishments. We did so many great things together. And because of you, your temperament, your accomplishments, others were inspired to achieve various accomplishments so you live on not just in my thoughts and actions but in others' too. You are beyond our physical world in a place where I can't pet you anymore or hold you or feed you or walk you or compete with you in dog sports. But your spirit is here with me and one day, we will be reunited.

All our love Sylvia & Michael


We who choose to surround ourselves
with lives even more temporary than our
own, live within a fragile circle;
easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps,
we would still live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only
certain immortality, never fully
understanding the neccesary plan....

--- Irving Townsend ---
"The Once Again Prince"

21 January 2009

Life for dogs in Glendale AZ

Glendale AZ loves dogs. Regulations allow 4 per household, that's one more than municipalities in Ontario allow, even in the rural areas. And everyone here seems to own a dog, or 2 or 3, judging from the barks/growls I hear while walking along the streets with my dogs. I can't see most of them because the vast majority of fencing is made with solid cement block. That makes for better privacy but dogs don't get to see what's beyond their world, unless their humans take them outside of their yard. Although every household in this neighborhood seems to own a canine, I wonder how many dogs get exercised outside of their 'compound'.

Glendale also has 3 leash-free parks. I've only been to one here, Foothills, and I must admit, it was quite impressive compared to the 2-3 I've seen or been to at home. Foothills Leash-free park is about a 12 minute drive from our rental house. It has shade covers, water, benches for humans, some agility stations, and lots of garbage bins and pooper-scoopers. There's a separate area for small dogs, and a larger area for bigger dogs. By my standards, it's quite large and very well maintained. Here are some photos of our first visit to the Foothills leash free park. Fortunately (for me), it was almost empty as I was quite nervous to let my dogs loose with others that I didn't know.

Life for my dogs is different from at home. They can't run free, not only because of local regulations, but because there are dangers lurking in them thar hills. The biggest danger at this time of year is cactus. At warmer times of the year, a more severe danger is rattlesnakes. Arizona has 13 species of rattlesnakes, more than any other state. And they live in the hills and mountains that surround our area. I have spoken to some dog owners about the rattlesnake danger and one fellow said he found one in his back yard. Another told me I shouldn't worry about rattlers at this time of year. But I'm not taking any chances, especially with Miska and Nova who are avid hunters. They haven't been trained to leave snakes alone because frankly, we don't have many at home, just the occasional, 'friendly' garter snake. I've always tried to discourage them from snakes but having seen them hunt raccoons for example, once their hunting instinct takes over, they don't always listen to mama when she screams, "leave it".

So, it's long leash walks for my dogs. That's not a bad thing, especially for me, because it means I am getting a lot more exercise. I take 2 dogs out a time. There's a hydro corridor a couple of blocks away and some man-made and natural walking trails exist along this corridor. We walk mainly up and down it a few times and sometimes I explore the neighbourhood. There are streets that have wide sidewalks and bike lanes that give us more distance from passing cars. The dogs usually get 50 - 60 minutes of brisk walking / day (that's almost 2 hours for me!). They also get to go in / out into the small yard we have here. Much of the yard is taken up with the pool, which unfortunately isn't heated (the water is freezing cold!) so all I do is stick my feet in after a long, hot walk.

The pooches seem genuinely tired at night because they sleep most of the evening. The heat also makes them drowsier too. About once / week, I take them to the dog park, mainly to give my knees a break but to give them some fun.