Dog trains man

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wizards Kelsey and Nolan, and their Hovawart, Ethanah

I am very excited to introduce you to our very first Hovawart Wizards, Kelsey and Nolan!

Kelsey and Nolan became first-time Hovawart owners just recently, after a long and thorough search for the right breed and breeder. They stopped by on this blog as well during their quest, and without them knowing it, were thereby one of the first to inspire me to start the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. Their Hovawart puppy, Ethana, is growing up to become a wonderful dog. What strikes me with Ethanah are those amazing eyes. What else is there left to do than melt.

Thank you for participating in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry!

Hovawart Wizards: We are Kelsey and Nolan. I'm fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom to two wonderful children and step-mom to two teenagers. Nolan works in healthcare. We live in the U.S., in Washington state on a small acreage.

Hovawart: Our Hovawart is Ethanah (Thana for short), a 7-month old female. I've tried and failed at keeping up with a blog. But you can find me on Facebook!

We got Ethanah as a puppy and as a confirmed shelter-dog advocate, this was a decision I struggled with greatly. We browsed Petfinder for many months and visited local shelters. There were many wonderful dogs, but none that we felt would be the right fit for a family with a toddler and a baby.

We decided a puppy would be best and spent several more months researching dog breeds and finally decided we'd like to meet a Hovawart. A certain blog post, “A shameless sales pitch for the Hovawart breed” on Kenzo's blog was key in our decision!  We spoke with every legitimate Hovawart breeder in the U.S. When I spoke with Susan Garka, I knew we'd met the right one! Our first phone call lasted over 2 hours and ended with an invitation to meet her Hovawarts. And obviously you know how we felt about that first meeting!  Though she had no planned litter at that time, we decided we would be patient and hope for a puppy within a couple of years. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Susan. She is truly a passionate advocate for not only her own dogs, but also the Hovawart breed. She's the secretary of the American Hovawart Club and their Chair, Breedwarden. And if that weren't enough, she's also a fantastic cook and a great friend! See her website for more details:  Hovawarts Vom Treuen Freund.

Thana is our first dog as a married couple, though my husband and I both grew up with dogs, including a Basset Hound, Saint Bernard, Weimaraner, and variety of mixed-breeds, all shelter dogs or strays!

As for daily life with a Hovawart, it goes something like this:  About 5am, we start hearing the high-pitched whine and yips – the ones she knows hurt our ears and spur us into action. By 6am, my stalwart husband takes her to the park for an hour and a half long off-leash walk. There are a few “regulars” there each morning and she enjoys playing with the young Newfoundland, but somehow knows to not engage the older German Shepherd that suffers from cancer. Every other dog is fair game, however, so we frequently have to leash her before we approach certain dogs, or intervene when the play gets too rough. If you've never seen a Hovawart play, it is quite a terrifying sight! They leap, jump, chase, body-check, tumble and are generally relentless – for hours! When she isn't playing, she loves to use her nose to find a hidden hat or person. We are beginning to see her protective nature emerging. Upon approaching something new, she stops, looks alert, walks slowly forward and circles around. One person commented that it's like being stalked by a lion! The moment she finds there is no danger, she is back to her happy, friendly self.

After the park, it's breakfast time, which for Thana is a raw-food diet. By then she's ready for a nap in her exercise pen, while we get ready for our day. If we have errands to run, she often relaxes in her car crate, just happy to be with us for the ride. Other times, she'll stay home in her 48 inch crate (the one that takes up half our bedroom!), while our cat taunts her from her safe spot under the bed. If we're home and I can supervise her, she'll relax with us around the house – as long as we keep dolls, stuffed animals and crayons out of her reach! Thana tries to get the cat to play by pouncing down in front of her and woofing her deep woof, but the cat is never amused. She greets everyone with friendly nudges and kisses, but often curls up off to the side of the room just to keep an eye on all of us. We must be within her line of sight, but she is not a dog that needs constant pats and tummy rubs. We try to get out for some playtime in the yard after lunch and again for playtime or a leashed walk through our neighborhood around dinnertime. In the late evening, she mellows and becomes a “sofawart”! Sometimes she'll curl up with Nolan or I for a few minutes, but likes to have her own space and moves off to her own couch.  When we go to bed, she curls up in her own bed too. We hope one day to not need the crate, but at 7 months, she's a bit of a menace to anything she can fit in her mouth to chew!

I absolutely love that Thana is friendly to every single person and dog we've encountered – maybe overly friendly! There's not a person that can resist that smiling face and her kind eyes. She's not only beautiful, but she just exudes intelligence, self-assurance and fun. Most of all, I love how my little girls adore her and how Thana adores them. She enriches our lives immensely and keeps us laughing and smiling every day.

Thana is currently enrolled in her third round of puppy classes with Northern Tails Dog Training. I think these classes have been key in developing Thana's friendly acceptance of all dogs and people. Though she's a bit distractable and gets bored with repetition, she does great with basic commands. She is not highly motivated by treats, so it's a bit of a challenge to find what motivates her. Squeaky toys and squishy balls are top on her list, but getting her to "leave" those is another challenge altogether! Our 5-year old enjoys working with her, especially fetching her favorite ball, or hide and seek. She listens as well to her as she does to Nolan or I!

If I can offer any advice to Muggles considering Wizardry themselves, it would be to learn as much as you can about these amazing dogs - not theories but real-life experiences. Meet a Hovawart, or two or three! Hovawarts are very special, but they are not for everyone – they are a “lot of dog!”. Kenzo and Viva's blog is a must-read! Here are a few questions to consider. Are you willing to spend 2+ hours being active outside, every day, rain or shine?  Can you handle a very physical, strong, exuberant dog – a dog that other dogs and particularly their owners may find intimidating? Are you the kind of person who needs a dog to obey you “because I said so” or can you work with an intelligent, free-thinking dog who loves you, but prefers to make their own decisions? Are you okay with a dog who wants to be near your family, but also desires its own space? But, most of all, are you ready to share your life with a furry friend who is more partner than pet? If yes, then a Hovawart might be for you! 


***

Hovawart Wizards, like Kelsey and Nolan, try to provide real life information for Muggles - those not yet touched by the Hovawart's magic - to learn more about Hovawarts in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. A place where Muggles can read how we play, what kind of training and activities we undertake. What makes Hovawarts special to us, and how they made us into Wizards. The role they came to play in our lives. And the hard times we shared. Helping Muggles to make the best choice possible if a Hovawart could be the Magical Creature for them, or at least what to expect.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Selling Puppies In Pet Stores? The Ghost Is Back In Germany


Selling puppies in pet stores in Germany? Many responded in chock, wasn't this illegal? No. It was taboo, but it was never illegal. There was so much red tape involved in selling puppies through pet stores, the industry simply gave up.

Last week the whole of Northern Europe, including me, woke up from our dream when Norbert Zajac, owner of the largest pet store in the world according to the Guinness book of records, opened his puppy wing. According to Norbert Zajac, he expects to sell around a 1000 puppies per year.

Norbert Zajac created something that looks a lot like a 5-star hotel for dogs, which allowed him to comply with all the regulations, and there is nothing the law can do about it. Dogs have ample space, beds, toys, are walked, there is veterinary care, air conditioning, ... the works. (Follow this link, if you are interested to see the facilities, in the middle of the article in German is a video).

Window dressing in optima-forma nonetheless:
  • We still have puppies that in the most important period of their life - the socialization period between 8 and 12 weeks - spent most of their time confined in a golden cage. And therefore have the highest risk of ending in a shelter because of behavioral issues. 
  • Also, there is no responsible breeder in the world that would let their pups be sold through an outlet, without the opportunity to check the future owner. 
  • Puppy mills and backyard breeders have no problem pushing puppies through Norbert Zajac though. Even worse, it has now become easier for them to get away from the illegal "car-trunk" selling again, and appear legal once more.

PETA Germany organized demonstrations already a half year ago, when Norbert Zajac filed the paperwork for his permits. (here is a video of such a demonstration, you will also see them having a discussion with Norbert Zajac).

But now the ghost is back. So what can we do? PETA Germany organized a petition. For each signature a mail is send to Norbert Zajac. Until now more than 38,000 signatures have been collected. The petition is in German, but here is a picture I made with some instructions in English to help (click on the picture to enlarge):

English instructions (click to enlarge)
You can also like the FB page "Initiative against puppy discount" that PETA Germany created on Facebook.

I really hope you could help and sign the petition. Maybe we can still stop this in it's initial steps, before it is too late, and we have pet shops selling puppy mill dogs in Northern-Europe once again.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Calling all Wizards To the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

Do you think they come and play?
The Hovawart is a Magical Creature. And in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry we study how it is like to live side by side with a Hovawart in our Care for Magical Creatures class. What does a Hovawart need and expect from Muggles - those not yet touched by the Hovawart's magic?

Unlike the school with the name that sounds a lot like ours, we do welcome Muggles! We invite all Muggles to come and hear the tales of the Wizards - those that have been touched by the Hovawart's magic.

After all, the choice for a particular Magical Creature breed requires a good match with the Muggle, in life style as well as temperament, and real-life info from Wizards is of key importance for Muggles to choose the right Magical Creature breed. A good match makes happy Hovawarts and happy Muggles!

We are calling all Wizards to the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. Maybe once upon a time, when you were a Muggle yourself, you found it difficult to find stories about Hovawarts, as compared to other Magical Creatures? I did. And I felt a little like going in way over my head when we got Kenzo as our first Hovawart, solely based on the recommendations of a friendly - and competent - breeder, together with the occasional Wizard's blog/website and the obligatory breed encyclopedia.

What I would like to achieve together with you Wizards, is to provide real life information for Muggles to learn more about Hovawarts. A place where Muggles can read how we play, what kind of training and activities we undertake. What makes Hovawarts special to us, and how they made us into Wizards. The role they came to play in our lives. And the hard times we shared. Helping Muggles to make the best choice possible if a Hovawart could be the Magical Creature for them, or at least what to expect. What do you think? Shall we help them?

Here is how Wizards can participate. We are excited to hear about you and your Hovawart!

Coming up soon ... the first installment: Wizard Kelsey and her Hovawart Ethanah!

***

Last but not least, a big Thank You to AJ from I Still Want More Puppies, for being the creative mastermind behind the whole Harry Potter pun.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dog Walks Man ... With Poop Bag

Where is the bag? We don't go without it.
Half a year ago I promised we would become a Poop Fairy, every day picking up one doggy deposit that doesn't belong to Kenzo & Viva. Apart from the daily scooping, making this promise to Amy Burket from Go Pet Friendly made me more aware of the whole debate surrounding our four-legged friends and we made some peculiar observations.

I thought you should always pick up after your dog. But apparently not. I discovered that in Holland they had poop lanes. Workers operating special designed scooping machines - like lawn-mowers - were doing their best to keep up with the poop flows. Some places had doggy restrooms, a small fenced in area, which no dogs even wanted to visit, with good reasons. Workers had to clean out those as well.

Poop is bringing employment to Holland. When we visited Holland last week, there was even a very real "dog poop symposium", in which 60 municipalities and counties exchanged "how to's" on dog poop, and how to get it scooped. It has become a business.

Back in Denmark, I found out by accident the Danish laws that poop should be scooped by the dog's owner had become obsolete. The scooping laws were a part of some police regulations, that everybody forget to address when they reformed the police some years ago. Scooping thereby became the responsibility of the person who lives on the ground adjacent to the public space, and not the dog owner. They are even liable if someone would slip in the poop and would harm themselves. I kid you not.

Reading a good book doesn't free me from my newly gained awareness. Even John Zeaman, author of the (otherwise fabulous and must read book) "Dog Walks Man", went to great lengths to find places to walk his dog where he could convince himself scooping surely was not necessary here.

I makes me wonder how poop did become such a topic that we need legislation, new industries, well-meaning lobbyist's and action groups. It all comes down to a man (yes it always seem to be man) with his dog that doesn't want to clean up. It is so simple: dog+man+bag=problem solved. 

Ladies, demand from your spouse to display one bagged deposit (two if he is a Poop Fairy) on return from the dog walk. Use your positive reinforcement wits and praise him for every pile you see in the open: "I am so glad you are not doing that and clean up after Fido". I can see it work, can you?
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shiloh adopted after 2 years

Maybe you remember Shiloh the Hovawart? She featured on this blog during Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week and before that, we raised the funds for her second FHO hip surgery.

I am so thrilled for Shiloh. An elderly couple from Idaho adopted her. They owned a Hovawart before and found Shiloh on Petfinder. They flew to Charlotte (NC) together with their Yorkie and met with Shiloh. Fell in love, and rented a car for the trip back home. With Shiloh on the back seat.

Sometimes there seemed to be no hope. More than 125 people tweeted about Shiloh, some daily in more than a year. Bloggers wrote about her. She featured as Pet-of-the-Week on NC's local TV station. As it seemed, to no avail. But finally, after more than two years, Shiloh has a family.

In all that time Shiloh was in the care of the no-kill rescue project HALO, and in particular Shiloh's foster dad, Tim Roney. They are the real heroes in this story. Please pay a visit to their website of like/leave a note on their FB page. I am sure they will appreciate.
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seized in Holland

When the Dutch repealed their breed ban 3 years ago, the future seemed bright. At least for a moment. Although no more dogs are killed because of their looks, the new "Dangerous Dog Act" is killing more dogs than ever before. The innocent and the not so innocent.

Dogs are seized, of any breed, that are perceived as dangerous. If your Jack Russel or Yorkshire terrier jumps up to a person to greet, you risk your dog will be seized, as jumping up can be explained as dangerous behavior. Pounds are filled with dogs of any breed. Many have done nothing more than jumping up on people.

To prevent euthanization people can file a request to let their dog undergo a "Good Citizen" test. Most don't even bother, but for those that fight on to have their dog returned, an unpleasant surprise awaits. The dogs are kept in isolation, visits are not allowed, deprived of any contact or sunlight, and they have to wait for months, in some cases more than a year, to undergo the test. Needless to say how traumatized the dogs become, with almost no chance whatsoever to pass the test.

The Dutch "Workgroup for Assistance of Seized Dogs" tries to change all of this. They educate and inform the public, but also does an effort to help municipalities and counties to change their rule set and become aware of the unfair chance they give to the dogs and their owners. The workgoup's aim is that all seized dogs should undergo a fair test, and not be kept in the pound. And every dog should have the opportunity to get a second chance, and to be rehabilitated and socialized, before being tested.

Together with Martin Gaus (the Dutch Victoria Stillwell) the workgroup also steps in to help individual owners and dogs. With the socialization training they provide, many dogs have been rehabilitated and are living happy with their owners again, or are re-homed. The famous pit bull Ruby, that was sentenced to death 4 times, was one of these dogs.

The next video is showing how they rehabilitated Boran the Rottweiler. Boran was seized after a minor bite incident. He was kept in isolation for months and became completely traumatized. He failed the "Good Citizen" test as a result. After the workgroup was allowed to step in and provided training for Boran, he passed the test and could return to his owners.


Not all dogs make it. Some become so traumatized, their spirit never returns. Although the Dutch should be proud they repealed their breed specific legislation and stopped the discrimination of pit bull type dogs, they still have a long way to go towards a society that treats it's dogs fair. The workgroup is making a big effort to become that change for the dogs in Holland.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pet Blogger Challenge: Round Two


Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me and Amy Burket of Go Pet Friendly are again hosting the Pet Blogger Challenge this year.

The time has arrived to show how far we have come after last year's challenge. I will not give up my blog as safe haven for the world of deadlines and numbers without a fight though. Like last year, maybe I can spin myself out of this again?

I gave it a lot of thought:













It sounds like I am cornered. It is time to come clean and give some honest answers, so here we go:

1. Provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

Last year's post was Bad, bad blog, I cheated with the format. And worse, cheated even more by writing another one the next day: The Day After. I'll be a good boy this year though.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

I hadn't made any specific goals. On the other hand the overall goal of the blog is still the same. To provide real-life experiences living together with Hovawarts.

3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

Last year's Pet Blogger Challenge and the discussions that followed, helped in finding more focus on the mission of this blog. After all this is a blog about Hovawarts and I do tend to get carried away in other subjects as well. So I made sure to add more regularity to the Hovawart as the main subject.

During the year we took on the additional goal to help getting the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) repealed in Denmark. Again an unrelated subject, but in the eye of so much suffering and injustice, I can't do anything else than to speak out against it. Whatever the breed, Hovawart or not. We will continue to help the Danes in getting the word out and support Danish organizations like Fair Dog in the fight against BSL. I willl take this opportunity and once more ask you shamelessly if you already signed the petition?



4. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed? Which are you doing now? Do you still worry about lost traffic, momentum, etc?

I still blog as the spirits moves me. But without last year's guilt of not being on a schedule: thanks to last year's Pet Blogger Challenge I came to terms with this. I try to find a good balance between keeping my readers interested and to continue to enjoy what I do. There is nothing more rewarding than that. You will find no schedules here, although I do resist the "publish" button more. Meaning I write as the spirit moves me, but try to "publish" in what appears to be a more scheduled rhythm.

Of course I admit having to swallow an additional time when I see visits plunge after a longer period of silence, like when Viva was diagnosed with Cushings disease and during the latest busy at work episode. Nobody wants to write for an ever declining audience. On the other hand it is encouraging to see search engines continue to send queries about Hovawarts to the blog during periods of silence. I especially like the "Hovawart puppy" searches that go to our post about the Hovawart puppy mill. In the end that it is what matters, that people find the blog when looking for information about Hovawarts.

Blogger statistics, very rudimentary, tell me that I have on average 2,000 monthly readers when I don't blog, and up to 6,000 when I blog. The year before ended with only one third of those numbers, although that was also the year we started with blogging. Two months ago I installed Feedburner and Google Analitics, so I can see better where people are coming from and what they are (not) reading in the future. I am not sure what to use those numbers for, but I love to fiddle around with the techy side of the blog and procrastinate with that. I'll hope to get some clues reading the challenge posts from other bloggers to learn more about how it could help.

5. Are you generating income from your blog? Has this changed since last year?
If you are generating income, how (e.g. sponsor ads, affiliate relationships, spokesperson opportunities)?
If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?

We have no desire to sell anything through this blog. And that will probably not change. But we all know what they say about the offer you can't refuse. I am listening.

6. Have your likes and dislikes about blogging changed since last year?

My likes are still the same. To connect with readers and other bloggers. I am still a sucker for comments that make me see things differently or add to the story. It is that interactivity that makes blogging so much more rewarding than other forms of writing.

What stands out for me in 2011 was how other bloggers rallied behind the BSL campaign on this blog and to what lengths they went to support and help me. Not only writing about it on their own blogs, but also coming with ideas what to do and how to move this forward. I never asked, they just did it. It was inspiring and invigorating.

7. Overall, are you pleased with the progress you made in 2011?

Progress is best measured in real-life results. One of the best reinforcers was when I got some real proof visitors were actively using the blog to form their opinion on the Hovawart. One of them, Kelsey M., was so kind to get back in touch and mention the blog as an "indispensable source of real-life information". Kelsey found a responsible Hovawart breeder and is now living with "Ethana". It gives all the motivation needed to keep on blogging for another year - or more.

8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2012?

I would really like to do more with all the contacts established through time with other Hovawart people. It would be great to be able to write, or let them write, about their experiences with Hovawarts as well. I have a plan for this year to try getting them more involved. I have not come around it yet, because I am not looking for breed superlatives and overly optimistic views, but real-life information, and mistakes made which we can all learn from.

There is a huge wild-card though. As we are traveling more and more for our work - if you read this blog before you remember the dogs always join us on those trips - it is not unlikely we start to blog about that a lot more if it all materializes the way I expect it to. A Hovawart Pet Travel Blog, how is that for a niche? I will have a dozen readers at least. But in essence that is what it is about for us. The blog should follow us, Kenzo & Viva. Not the other way around.

It was good coming clean. Now I am off reading all about you other bloggers. I am sure you will be as inspiring to me as last year.
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

What can you do else than smile

I found myself in that vacuum right after the Christmas and New Year's events that we heard so much about. Even pork cracklings that turned out to be a very international thing after all, couldn't do much about that. As well as the thoughtful presents of our dinner guests, DVD's of "Marley & Me" and "Hachiko", in which I couldn't find a lot of happy endings. If you have seen them, you know what I mean.

Right after the New Year we hunkered down as a hurricane visited Northern Europe, which is very rare, leaving a trail of destruction, followed by floods due to the rain and the rising sea levels. Nobody was hurt and there was only material damage. But by now I was gasping after something upbeat.

When we went on our first dog walk after the hurricane I was looking at all the flooding and fallen trees, but Kenzo & Viva didn't let me dwell in those thoughts for too long. Where I see destruction, they see opportunity. Every flooded area was met with excitement to demonstrate the zoomies. Every fallen tree with jumping, hide-and-seek and some extra sniffing.

What can you do else than smile in the face of so much joy. Especially when you least expect it.


Viva observing Kenzo's Bambi impression


Zoomies!


Zoomie chase


Is it deep over there?
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