Monday, April 8, 2013

It Takes a Village

Raising a puppy is a team effort. Whether your young one came from a breeder or a rescue, it’s important to know that you need help. It’s almost like having kids: once the little one has grown up, there’s a tendency to forget about the challenges of toddlerhood.

In the case of Norman, we start out with a basic group of people, from from his first adopters, to Sheri Kyle, DVM, who founded and operates Kyle’s New Hope Animal Rescue, as well as her veterinary practice, Kyle Vet, to Jaime Walker, who handles all the animal adoptions—plus pretty much everything else—for KNHAR, to my husband and me. Also on board are folks at the dog clubs where I take classes, teach, and train, and anyone else who meets and greets Norman.

Who are these other villagers? Well, there’s me, of course. I’ve had dogs all my life, but became involved in “formal” dog training thanks to adopting a very energetic puppy from the shelter in Warren County.  I started training Melanie to track, a sport which teaches a dog to learn how to follow a specific human scent. Participating in a tracking discussion list led me to volunteer for that year’s Queen City Dog Training Club’s tracking test, and when I met some of the club members, I learned that I could get further training for Melanie by taking classes. Those classes were wonderful, because I learned that no matter how wild and energetic my young dog was, I could learn how to teach her to be well-mannered. What I discovered, though, was that teaching and working with my dog helped to build the relationship that I wanted with her. And that relationship continues to build and grow every day.

Then there’s my husband, Richard. He and his brothers were not allowed to have pets growing up—sort of a sin in my book—but he has loved all the dogs in my life, from Ebony, who introduced him to having a dog, to Hektor, a rescue Lab mix who was his first puppy, to Reka and Gimli the Elkhounds, to Melanie and Tank. Like many folks who didn’t have dogs growing up, Richard’s not a “natural,” but he loves and enjoys the dogs, and, just as importantly, is able to cope fairly well with my dog-oriented lifestyle.

Finally, there are all the folks that my dogs and I enjoy meeting with each week, friends at the dog clubs that I belong to, where we take classes, and I teach. You’ll get to meet them as we go along. Since blogs are so public, I’ve developed a protocol of sorts when it comes to names. I’ll use full names when those people are okay with that, first names only, and, for some, pseudonyms.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Food for Thought....Thought for Food

One thing that is of serious consideration is what to feed the new puppy. When I was growing up, we had a small number of big dog company foods to choose from, including Purina, Alpo, and General Foods. As a kid in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, I hadn’t heard about Eukenuba, (founded in 1969), Hill’s Science Diet, (1939), Nutro, (1930’s), or Iams, (1946). When I was growing up, you fed your puppy puppy food, and then switched to an adult version. What most people chose was whatever they’d fed their previous dogs. Now and again, the vet recommended something.

Nowadays, however, it is much more complicated than this. In fact, picking your dog’s chow can be the most confusing, yet important, decision you must make. And in the case of a puppy, a choice you need to make soon.

I’ve learned to talk to a variety of knowledgeable folks, from my vet to my one dog’s breeder, and to other dog owners. Norman, like all the dogs in the rescue, has been fed a popular puppy food available from one of the largest and oldest dog food companies. (Please keep in mind that the needs of the rescue, which must be able to feed the dogs and cats until they find their permanent homes, dictate that what’s affordable and available is what is fed.)

For Norman, like all puppies, the challenge is two-fold: healthy food that will enable him to grow safely and thrive, and cost of feeding. Most commercial puppy food is full of filler and the “byproducts” of the meat production industry, as well as corn, which has long been implicated in food sensitivities and allergies in both people and pets. Most people concerned about healthy intake for their pets look for something better.

I well understand this desire, since I, too, want my dogs to have healthy diets that are readily available and fit within my budget. Since I’m a clean-eater, I want my dogs to eat clean, too. Dogs are carnivores who are also opportunistic omnivores. Yet, there is a concern about protein, for puppies, that too much causes too rapid growth, creating weak bones.

What’s a puppy owner to do? Well, the best thing is to talk to others, breeders and people who own your breed, and check out the websites dedicated to providing information to dog owners, such as Dog Food Advisor.

For Norman, I've been talking to German Shepherd Dog folks, and fortunately, have found a couple of very experienced owners, as well as two breeders, (one of GSDs,one of another large breed), and have gotten some really good ideas. If I was keeping Norman, I would be taking him off his current food and switching him to a healthier, single-source protein, corn-free food. Since he is a foster, though, he'll remain on his current food. If he ends up being adopted by someone else, it will be their decision about his food.

Norman Meets Melanie and Tank

When bringing a new puppy or dog home, the current pets in the home must be taken into consideration. Introductions must be made, and in such a way as to optimize the meeting. Before bringing Norman home, I brought Melanie and Tank to meet him. This meeting took place March 10, 2013.

I used two of the dog yards at Kyle Vet. Initially, I had Melanie and Tank in the smaller yard, and Norman in the adjoining yard. This enabled the dogs to see each other, sniff, and meet through the fence. Here is Norman and Melanie’s first meeting, through the fence between the two yards.

I brought Tank into the smaller yard, so that he and Melanie could meet Norman through the fence. I filmed this very first meeting, with Melanie and Tank in the small yard, meeting Norman, in the larger yard, through the fence. Unfortunately, I didn't get the tablet camera turned off properly, so a portion of the video shows the inside of my vest pocket. Not interesting nor edifying, so I'll have to see if I can edit it, then upload later.

Next, each of my dogs got the chance to meet Norman in the larger yard. As each got a turn, they walked through one of the boarding kennels. This was a great opportunity for some attention and distraction training. I used a treat lure and my voice to heel my dog through, then outside. Once outside, I took my dog off leash and allowed each, in separate turns, to meet Norman.

Tank and Norman's first face-to-face meeting: This is actual speed! Melanie can be heard voicing her opinion in the background.

Melanie and Norman’s first face-to-face. There are two parts; Tank can be heard whining in the background, initially, because he saw me disappear back into the building and so was at the door. I call him over so he can see me and what’s going on.
Part 1:

At this point, I’m wasn't putting all three dogs together. It’s important to allow the dogs to get to know each other slowly, and to establish my leadership over all.

After some time allowing the dogs to meet and spend time together, it was time to head out. I have my minivan equipped to transport three dogs. From the rescue, I’m borrowing two crates for Norman, a wire crate for Norman’s use in my van, and a heavy duty plastic crate—aka an airline crate, since they are often used to fly dogs—for his use in my home. All dogs need their own space, and crates serve as perfect dens. Here’s a view of my van when I took Norman home:

We had a couple of stops on the way home, the grocery store and the gas station. Keep in mind that this was Norman’s first time in a wire car crate, and in a minivan. His crate is in the middle section of the van, which means he is right beside one of the sliding van doors. The door makes a loud sound when it is closed, but it didn’t upset Norman. He is looking a little careful about his new surroundings, but is handling it like a champ. Here’s our stop at the gas station:

And so we began!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Norman at 16 weeks

Norman at 16 weeks
Friday March 29, 2013

I’ve posted a video introducing Norman on my YouTube channel, but I think it would be nice to see his handsome visage here on the blog. Here’s Norman, now 16 weeks old, holding a nice sit on the walk in front of my house.

Normanophiles may compare this most current still shot with the “Meet Norman” video to see how much he has grown in the past ten days. 

That left ear does come up sometimes; there’s still time for it to pop up and stay up.

KNHAR BBQ Benefit!

Norman and his 11 siblings were saved from death by Dr. Sheri Kyle and her New Hope Animal Rescue.

Thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers, all the puppies found homes. And thanks to the generosity of City Barbeque, KNHAR will be able to help more homeless pets find their furever homes. 

Want to enjoy some delicious BBQ and help this great dog and cat rescue? Then come join the friends of KNHAR next Thursday, April 4th, at City Barbeque in Blue Ash. City will donate 25% of your tasty purchase to the rescue. It's an all-day affair, so you can eat lunch or dinner...or both!

You'll need to present a flyer in order for them to credit the donation to the rescue. You can pick up a flyer at Kyle Veterinary Hospital, or conveniently print one from the Kyle's New Hope Animal Rescue website:

How easy is that? Next Thursday, April 4th, all you'll need to help these wonderful pets is a flyer and your appetite!

City Barbeque, 10375 Kendwood Road, Blue Ash Ohio.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cast of Canine Characters

Tank and Melanie
Sept 22, 2011

No worthy endeavor is without a group of supporting characters. The Norman Project includes a couple of very important players: my two dogs.

Melanie is my 7-year-old rescue whom I brought home as an 8-week-old from the shelter in Warren County. She’s the driving force behind my discovery of real dog training, and a prime example of why training is so important for every puppy and dog. Melanie is a Border Collie mix. Melanie can be described by those who know her as high-energy, happy, and full of spirit. She’s also opinionated and loves to verbalize. Melanie has earned two AKC titles, the Canine Good Citizen and the Companion Dog. We’re currently in training for the Open class, which involves heeling, jumping, coming when called and laying down when told, and retrieving a dumbbell.

Tank is my 22-month-old yellow Labrador Retriever. He was bred by a friend; I helped whelp him and his 7 siblings, 4 boys, 4 girls. In fact, Sheri Kyle, DVM, saved this litter. Tank’s mom Aspen had a difficult delivery and Tank was stuck. Thanks to Dr. Kyle performing an emergency C-section, Tank and his littermates all survived. Tank is not like the typical boy Lab: he is on the quiet side and not overly interested in food. He won’t say “no” to a good treat, but he doesn’t counter-surf, almost shocking for a Lab. Tank is very lovey-dovey and enjoys working with me. Tank also has two AKC titles, the Canine Good Citizen and the Beginner Novice, which he earned in January at Dayton Dog Training Club.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meet Norman

Norman is a puppy with an unusually calm temperament for such a young one. One thing I noticed right away was that he appeared quite thoughtful. Dogs are such observant creatures, perhaps more so than any other animal. They watch everything, but most especially us. They are, as Alexandra Horowitz says in her book Inside of a Dog, anthropologists of us.

Norman is definitely a canine anthropologist, but he tends to violate the “prime directive,” since he is so interested in people. Although he has a puppy’s eager paws jump-up—which is an attempt to greet eye-to-eye, canine style—he is quick to sit. And once he does, he looks you in the eye.

Dogs seek connections with us; we’ve bred and trained them for thousands of years to work beside and for us, to guard property, to seek and find lost people and hidden contraband, to serve and protect. This led to a unique relationship, this ancient bond between man and dog, one that enables us to simply enjoy the privilege of each other’s companionship.

Norman seems an old soul. He is, however, a 15-week-old puppy, with all the enthusiasm and curiosity that every puppy possesses. But who says an old soul can’t be young at heart?

Here’s my first video of Norman, recorded Saturday, March 9, 2013. Recorded with a Samsung Galaxy 2 tablet; this is my first tablet, so the video quality is a bit shaky and has a few bloops. Mayhap I’ll learn to edit! Norman is romping in one of the dog yards at the boarding clinic. The current level of interconnection means that my YouTube channel will be linked to this blog, but here is the direct link: