Saturday, December 10, 2011

Darby Crash is going to be in a book!!!!!!

True story!!!

Project Dog! (if you flip through the sample spreads, Darby is the second page!

A couple of months ago Kira Stackhouse of Nuena Photography contacted me about having one of my greyhounds be the AKC purebred representative in her new hardcover book Project Dog! Project Dog is a 'coffee table style' book that features over 170 purebred dogs, one page for the AKC registered representative, and the opposite page for the purebred rescue/adopted representative of the breed. The entire book is over 300 pages of beautiful photography and a complete question/answer biography for each chosen dog! We were SO HONORED that she chose us!! Kira is a very talented and creative photographer based in San Francisco, this is the largest project she's taken on to date, and it is completely a labor of love. Love for dogs!!!

We met Kira in San Francisco at the California Museum of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, the setting she chose for Darby's photo shoot. It was raining, of course. San Francisco in October = rain. Pleh. But it didn't stop Darby's enthusiasm.
Post- professional photo shoot, in the rain, on the way back to the car where it was warm!
When all was said and done, Darby and I sat down and filled out the questionnaire for the biography and then sat back and waited. After a few days Kira sent us the proof for his page.

Here's Darby Crash's spread in the book;

All total, it took Kira over a year of hard work (she quit her full time marketing job to take on this project), but the book is finally done! It went to print about 4 weeks ago, and the first 100 copies have been delivered for Project Dogs official launch party tomorrow at Wags Hotel (a posh doggy daycare and overnight dog-care hotel) in San Francisco. Darby Crash is one of the 50 dogs who have been chosen for the runway show at the peak of the party!! I'm using a lot of exclamation points because we are so excited to be a part of this project.

Saturday (today) is the Launch Party in the city! Q and Art the Husband are tagging along for wine, cheese and doggie appetizers. We'll get to pick up our copies of the book while we're there. I'm so dog is in a real book!

For any dog lover (greyhound or otherwise) this is a fantastic book. The photography is creative and professional, but what's even better are the biographies and personal stories of each and every dog in the book. You start out looking at the pictures of all the different breeds, but then you get drawn into each dog's unique story. Before you know it you've spent an hour reading and haven't really gotten past the breeds starting with the letter C! If you're interested in getting one for yourself or someone you know who loves dogs, go to The Project Dog Book Page and order one. You will not be disappointed, and somewhere in there, Darby Crash will be staring back at you from his very own page!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pretty nice for a bunch of ranch dogs......

The Fall GCNC specialty was especially special for my hounds! They swept up in Sweepstakes with DSquare (shown by my sister Laura who's NEVER shown a dog before, or even been to a dog show for that matter!) getting Best Veteran in Sweeps. Gulp....they're VETERANS now, when did THAT happen?!? Oh well, I'm very happy with Dee; she's a Dual Champion and is aging very gracefully. Shes EXTREMELY functional, she earns every win she gets. Kudos to DC Windrock Luck be a Lady Eldomar, SC (her fancy name)
We're not going to tell her she's 'old'
Andretti got Best Opposite Sex Veteran being shown by 15 year old Shelby, who also has never shown a dog or been to a dog show. Andretti is an awesome teacher dog, Shelby was elated to be able to handle him and win win win at this show. I'm so very proud of my Brown Dog, he is my most wonderful boy and will always be my heart. I'm secretly tickled that hes a veteran now, because I can show him in veterans classes at specialties. I had him neutered before he finished his championship and I regret it, if only because prancing around the show ring with Andretti is fun. He has a sense of humor and is a pretty good snob, and that's fun to show. And although he's not the 'ideal', he is a handsome and well put together dog, and I'm proud of that. Go go Windrock Sin City Playboy, CD, RA, JC! It's a rare occasion I get to shout out his 'fancy name', so there you go!
Andretti thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in the ring with Shelby!
As always, Dretti injured himself just in time for the specialty. Go Andretti! If it's not one thing, it's another with him.

Andretti showed in conformation, but not in obedience. Apparently you can show in the 'stand and look pretty' classes with stitches, but any type of performance class strictly prohibits any stitchery. And we're okay with that, I didn't want him jumping with stitches anyway (although I had no problem with him zooming around the yard and jumping up and down retaining walls with stitches. Go figure.)
Darby Crash won Best of Opposite Sex (to Best of Breed!) in regular classes. There was a fair entry of greyhounds, and I'm more than a little proud of him. Big Handsome!
Not even 3 years old yet! GCH Aragon Aroi Silver Lining, RA (or Darby Crash, it's less of a mouthful). 

After regular classes there was a costume class, I went all out this year and got everyone dressed up. It was pretty cute, and probably the largest costume class the GCNC has had that anyone can remember. Even Q got into the act this year. He makes a damn cute bat.
Andretti was a farmer. Agricultural Brown. And none to pleased about it.
I think the baling twine collar and leash made the outfit. It earned him a placing in the costume contest. 

Dee was a ballerina. She didn't like it much at first, but warmed up to it when she realized everyone was pretty tickled with her.
She was blinding in her bling
Girl dog in a short skirt. Very wrong, I know. But it earned her 4th place in the costume contest!
Darby Crash went as Count Darbula, and even had his own bat! I can't believe he didn't get a prize for that. Nobody else had an accessory dog. Feh. Whatever!
I have exceptionally tolerant dogs. 
There were clowns (Mariska and Sonny!)
and a ladybug
a hula dancer and sort of twisted butterfly
Evil, toothy clowns. 

It was pretty busy that weekend, but the dogs had fun and the weather was really decent (last year it poured rain and was MISERABLE). Darby Crash came close to passing his first Novice Obedience try, but oh well. I was pretty stressed out showchairing this specialty, and I'm pretty certain he picked up on that. He did a decent job, and I'm extremely proud of him for giving me the effort and a good attitude. He's a really fun dog to work obedience with, he's wicked smart and goofy happy. That's a winning combo for a greyhound in the obedience ring. We're gunna try again in January in Palm Springs. ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Greyhounds and Agriculture

Farming is NOT something Andretti is very keen on. Mostly because of the shirts he would have to wear.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Raw-rrrrrr Diet's what's for dinner!

A little over 2 years ago I started feeding raw diet, mostly as a bit of an experiment.  I did my research (mostly online, of course. The internet is good for some things) and have 19 years as a Registered Veterinary Technician and all the experience (and other people's experiences) that brings. In researching I concluded several things:
  • There is no One Way. Feeding raw is about as individual as the dog and the person feeding the dog. 
  • Feeding raw is not for everyone, or every dog for that matter. It's not the end all be all.
  • Feeding raw can either be very very simple, or very very complicated. It depends on the person feeding and the pre-set level of neurosis, anxiety, creativity and self education that individual brings to the game. 
  • There has been a 'study' done on just about argument for or against raw food diets, and there are  many incidents of old, outdated data being sited for or against feeding ANY diet, raw or processed. Data is data; look at the study design, how long ago the study was done (the most commonly sited studies are dated 2002, some earlier), the number of study subjects, the duration of the study, the methods used to gather and record the data. Know what qualifies as normal results and what qualifies as abnormal. Having worked in the Biotech industry for 5 years I know how results can be 'creatively interrupted' (skewed) to fit the researchers wants and needs. Be careful with what you buy into.
In practice over the past 2 1/2 years I have concluded the following solid beliefs:
  • Feeding raw is not 'simpler' than feeding processed kibble on a daily basis. It's not as difficult as most people imagine. But nothing could be simpler than tearing open a bag and scooping out daily feedings of "nutritionally balanced", dry and sanitary kibble, right?
  • Feeding raw can be far cheaper than feeding a kibble-n-canned diet, or conversely, more expensive. Depends on how you buy your meat, where you buy it, what kind of meat you buy, in what quantity, etc.  The exact same can be said for commercial brand kibble/canned food.
  • Raw diet results in far less solid waste (poop!) and drastically reduced gaseous secretions (farting).
  • Dental health is much improved feeding a raw diet
  • Tailor the diet to fit the dog, no 'one rule' applies to all. 
The biggest obstacle to starting feeding a raw diet is this:

What to feed them?  
Kibble and canned food is simple; give 'em a scoop of kibble and half a can of whatever-processed-mush twice a day and call it good. Wash the bowls every now and then. But raw food? Major confusion! It's actually pretty easy. Here's what we choose from:

Meats (regularly)
Chicken backs/leg quarters/wings/feet
Chicken livers/hearts/gizzards
Turkey necks
Beef brisket
Ground beef (high fat)
Beef heart
Lamb breast
(when available, on occasion)
Venison (fresh, all parts minus skin/head and spine parts/gi tract)
Mutton (fresh, all parts minus skin/head and spine parts/gi tract)
Fish (no raw salmon, no shellfish, no foreign farmed fish)

Lamb Breast processing; cutting board and a sharp cleaver.

Vegetables and Fruits(regularly)
Everything except onions, garlic, grapes and raisins (these can be toxic in even small amounts)
Everything raw is ground in a food processor to break down the cellulose in order to be digested
Sweet potatoes are cooked
Canned kidney beans/black beans/sweet red beans
Olive oil

Grains (semi regularly, on occasion)
Wheat germ, flax seed, quick cooking barley, farro, quick cooking dried sprouted beans and lentils, wild rice, quinoa (all in small amounts, grains are cooked)

Eggs (regularly)
raw and cooked

We have 10 chickens pumping out eggs daily, obviously I feed the dogs eggs. We'd be awash in eggs if I didn't.

Dairy (regularly)
Whole fat yogurt
Cottage cheese

Supplements (occasionally)
Fish oil capsules
Vitamin E capsules
Multivitamins (whatever I'm taking)
Glucosamine/Chondroitin (special circumstances)

Veggie-sludge, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, wheat germ and ground beef. Yuck.

This is a big list, but it's by no means everything that can be fed. It's what we choose from.  To skinny it down even further? Here's what I actually feed:
Frozen chicken backs in bulk, it's how we roll.
  • I feed once a day on average, around 4pm. Chicken backs or turkey necks. When I buy a huge beef brisket, they get beef without bones for a few days. Same goes for the lamb breast. Then we go back to chicken backs and turkey necks.
  • About 4 times a week I feed an additional morning mini-meal consisting of ground beef or small chicken parts
  • They get a few bites of organ meats about once a week. More if I find it in bulk quantities. 
  • Veggie mix is sporadic, mixed with dairy and raw eggs about twice to 3 times a week. Sometimes not at all until I make up a fresh batch. 
  • Grains are few and very far between. Usually a quinoa, or cooked farro....most often leftovers from our dinner. 
  • Supplements are sporadic as well, if I remember to take mine, the dogs get theirs. Multi-vitamins are Women's Formulation with the folic acid and other girl stuff, mostly because I'm a girl and Dee is an intact female as well. Figure it can't hurt.
  • Everybody gets some of my breakfast: scrambled eggs, an omelette or oatmeal everyday. I get VERY LITTLE BREAKFAST based on this feeding system, each dog gets a mouthful or two. So why am I still so fat???

    How to Feed Them?
    • I feed outside on the back lawn about 80% of the time. If it's super cold or super rainy they eat inside out of pails or in a crate (I lay down dog blankets on the carpets). If I'm working in the garden at feeding time and they're all confined to the dog run, they'll eat in the run. 
    • I watch them eat, their meals are handed to them individually. It's actually a very soothing break in the day to spend 10 or 15 minutes observing my dogs while they eat. It also gives me an opportunity to give each dog a quick health/attitude assessment. Lack of appetite never goes unobserved around here. 
    • Food pails are washed daily, or as they are used. 

      How Much to Feed Them?

      • Darby Crash (92lb intact male greyhound, 2years old); 1 1/2 - 2 lb meat per day
      • Andretti Ducatti (80lb neutered male greyhound, 6 1/2 years old); 3/4 - 1 1/4lb meat per day
      • D-Squared (69lb intact female greyhound, 6 1/2 years old); 1-1 1/2lb meat per day
      • Q (17lb neutered male Italian Greyhound, 4 years old); 1/3-1/2 lb of meat per day
      Andretti Ducati, Dee Dee (D-Square), Darby Crash and.....Q (photos from January 2011)
        • Veggie mix is usually about 2 tablespoons of ground veggies/yogurt and cottage cheese each.
        • Wheat germ and flax seed are sprinkled on the veggie mix.
        • Fish oils and other oils are about 1 capsule each, when I remember to give them.
        • Multivitamins are snapped in half, quartered for the little guy, when I remember to give them. 

        This is how I feed, it is by no means the only way to do it though. I get a lot of questions and comments about feeding raw food. Here are some of the most common;

        What about the bones? I've been told never to feed bones. Won't a dog choke on bones? Aren't they sharp, couldn't that cause a punctured stomach?
        We draw the line when dinner is the size of her head.

        Dogs are well equipped to process bones, from the moment it hits their mouths to the moment it hits the lawn (end of the line, poop-style). If you take a look inside a dog's mouth you'll see those pre-molars and molars are big and sharp; extremely efficient at crushing and grinding. Their front teeth and the big canine teeth grip and position the food, the back teeth break it into 'gulp-able' pieces. Contrary to what it sounds like while they're 'chewing', dogs do not really chew their food like we do. They crunch up the big pieces and swallow it whole. All the big work is done elsewhere, starting in the stomach.

        The industrial strength acid in a dog's stomach softens and almost completely dissolves bone matter. How do I know this for sure (beyond a veterinary specific education and skill-set)? Well, sometimes they vomit. It's not uncommon for dogs to vomit occasionally on a raw diet (or any diet, for that matter; puke happens). Being a vet tech, I get a little obsessed over vomit. :) So on the rare occasion that it happens, of course I inspect it. When there has been bone in the vomit, it's usually quite pliable (fingernail soft). I'm sure that somewhere out there is someone whose dog has had a piece of raw bone cause some internal damage, but in almost 20 years in veterinary medicine the only bone issues I've seen have been from cooked bones. COOKED BONES ARE VERY DANGEROUS FOR DOGS, NEVER EVER GIVE A DOG COOKED BONES. Cooked bones will puncture an esophagus, a stomach, intestines. They can lacerate gums and can puncture the roof of a dog's mouth. DO NOT FEED COOKED BONES, EVEN AS A SUPERVISED TREAT.
        Some types of raw bones can be hazardous to a dogs mouth;

        • Round marrow bones can get stuck on the bottom of a dogs jaw. If the hole in the center is large enough to loop around the bottom canines you get to take a trip to the ER to have it sawed off! Been there, done that several times (not my dogs, clients dogs at the Emergency Hospital). Always good fun! 
        • Marrow bones and other very hard beef bones (soup bones, rib bones) can fracture teeth if the dog chews too vigorously on them, sometimes even just bites down on them wrong.  Very hard long-bones, rib bones and large vertebrae (spine bones) should just be avoided as a general rule.
        For these reasons I very closely supervise the dogs when I give them these types of bones, and that is very rarely. Literally on a rainy day, when they gnaw on them indoors under watchful eye. When the meat and marrow is gone, the bones get taken away. It should be noted that even close supervision will not prevent tooth fractures. So your best bet; don't give them at all.

        Doesn't raw meat have bad bacteria? What about Salmonella and E.Coli? Couldn't that make my dog sick? I have kids, I don't want them to get sick, and besides, my dog gives me kisses and I don't want to get sick because of bad bacteria. 
        Yes, raw meat comes with bacteria on it. Yes, Salmonella and E.Coli are on that list. Yes, studies have shown that dogs pass Salmonella out the back end (in their feces). Will it make your dog sick? Probably not, unless your dog has an underlying immune system weakness or some other disease process that makes his GI tract susceptible to bacterial overload.
        Dogs have an enzyme in their saliva that has some antibacterial properties, this is a good start. They have wicked strong stomach acids that will dissolve almost anything and is not conducive to bacterial growth. Dogs can hold food in their stomachs for up to 8 hours while passing small amounts of digested food through a fairly short intestinal tract. Even if the 'bad bacteria' survive the stomach's acid environment, they're unlikely to have enough time in the intestines to reproduce to the point of dangerous overload (again, if your dog has an underlying disease process that slows the GI tract we're in a completely different ballpark). This is opposite what we as humans do; we pass food out of the stomach quickly, but hold it in a much longer intestinal tract for up to 60 hours. Sixty. No wonder we get sick so easily. So yes, studies will show that Salmonella spp. is cultured from the poo of dogs fed raw diet. It's also cultured from the poo of dogs fed commercial brand kibble. Sure, it's cultured from the raw food you propose to feed your dog, it's also been cultured from random commercial kibble and it could also be cultured from the 3-day-dead ground squirrel your dog just gulped down. And indeed, just like everywhere else in life you find dangerous bacteria, you and your children and grandma could get very ill.
        The solution is simple: good sanitation. 
        • Clean food prep areas, feeding areas (unless it's the backyard like me), feeding bowls as if you were going to be inspected by the FDA and your mother....and your pediatrician for good measure. 
        • Invest in a case of food prep gloves. This is my best suggestion for the 'grossness factor' when feeding messy sticky bacteria laden raw meat: WEAR GLOVES. They're cheap, you can wash them and re-use them if you're worried about landfills and the future of the planet, but seriously, food prep gloves are where it's at!
        • If you have kids who play in the yard where the dog deposits his bacteria-tainted (studies have proven!) waste....clean it up religiously! No poo = one less thing for your kid to put in his or her mouth and get sick from. Better yet, teach your kids about good hygiene and how to spell Salmonella. Even better? Give them a pair of gloves and a poop scooper and teach them how to help keep themselves safe. More on poo later.
        • If you're worried about your dog kissing you on the face and giving you a wolluping dose of deadly bacteria maybe you should institute a "dog-kiss-timeout" immediately after feeding time. Give that super-antibacterial dog spit time to work. However, consider this; This is an animal who routinely roto-roots it's own butthole with it's tongue (hygiene!), eats cat turds from the litterbox, licks other animals junk and taste-tests every good pee-spot in the neighborhood. This is the same tongue he turns around and uses unabashedly on your face or heaven forbid, in your mouth. If you cannot bring yourself to restrict "kissie time" or find that indeed, your dogs tongue has seen the inside of your mouth on more than an accidental occasion, perhaps this is a good time to re-evaluate your relationship with the dog. You can love your dog, but please, don't LOVE your dog. 
        • On a serious note, if you or someone in the household is immune compromised, an infant/ very young toddler or extremely aged perhaps raw diet is not a great idea. If your dog has a weak immune system or GI disease, it is possible that a raw diet would cause more trouble than good. 
        What about parasites? I've heard feeding raw meat will give my dog worms! Gross!!

        Yup, worms are definitely on the Gross List, and some percentage of some types of raw meat may actually be host to an encysted form of worm (not the actual long wiggly worm, the short non-wiggly larval form).

        But let's be realistic; your dog is more likely to get tapeworms (from fleas), heartworms (from mosquitoes), roundworms (from soil or eating infected rodents),  hookworms (from wild animal poo, soil or eating infected rodents). Regular visits to your vet with twice yearly fecal exams and a yearly heartworm test in addition to heartworm preventative and flea control will pretty much cover any parasitic concerns, meat born parasites included. That being said, one of my biggest concerns with the parasite issue was/is Trichinosis, or 'Pork Roundworm'. Not to be confused with Trichimoniasis, which is a nasty little STD and has absolutely nothing to do with raw food diet. No, this is Trichinella spiralis, a roundworm rarely found in pork from the US, and sometimes found in wild boar and some other wild game (boar and cougar). There's a lot of information online about this parasite and being very careful about undercooked or uncooked pork products, however, there have very very few reported cases of human infection in the US in the past 12 years and of those cases, most were determined to be from wild game or meat sourced outside of the US. US regulations on how and what pigs are fed have all but eradicated this problem in US raised pork. As for my dogs? I don't feed any form of raw pork. No need to, with all the other choices. If you do decide to feed uncooked pork though, do your research and know this (thank you Wikipedia):
        • Freezing pork less than 6 inches thick for 20 days at 5 °F (−15 °C) or three days at −4 °F (−20 °C) kills larval worms.
        • Freezing wild game meats, unlike freezing pork products, even for long periods of time, may not effectively kill all worms. This is because the species that typically infects wild game is more resistant to freezing than the species that infects pigs.
        My dog wouldn't know what to do with a raw meaty bone. He'd probably choke on it.  

        My guess is that your dog would probably figure it out. The first time I gave mine raw meaty bones, all but one of them gulped them down almost whole, and then promptly threw the whole mess up looking pretty much like it did before it went down. Much re-chewing ensued. My temptation was to take a cleaver to the whole chicken leg quarter to 'help', but having done my research I resisted that temptation. By letting the dogs chew them into digestible form they are less likely to gulp their food, less likely to choke on anything (I've never had a dog choke on a raw bone, that's not to say it couldn't happen though). I want my dogs to chew, that's how they get the dental benefits of raw bone diet (see the photos below, they are not photo-shopped or otherwise altered). Chopping it up, or buying it ground with the bones defeats that purpose. For some people purchasing frozen prepared/packaged ground raw meat and bones with brand names like Bravo and Primal (it is sold online and at some high-end pet stores, or you may be able to get your butcher to do it for you) settles their 'bone apprehensions', and for them I say do whatever makes you comfortable. I'd rather spend that extra money on something else, my dogs can do the job themselves. Even the little guy. In fact, especially the little guy. Go figure.

        So how do I switch my dog over to raw diet?

        There are a couple of ways to switch a dog over, I recommend researching online (I provide links at the end of this blog) and choosing the best method for your dogs. As for my dogs? One day they were eating kibble, the next day they were eating raw food. We did not mix the two because kibble and raw food digest at different rates and I wanted no issues with food sitting in their gut too long and causing problems. This worked beautifully. When I got Darby Crash he was only 6 months old, so I did feed a high quality kibble and raw diet because frankly I didn't want to take any chances with his bone and muscle development. I am NOT an expert on this subject, and haven't been doing it long enough to have complete confidence that I wouldn't be jeopardizing his growth. Maybe in a few years I'll laugh at myself (I know people who raise Deerhounds and other large breeds on raw food from the  day they're weaned with no problems, so I know it can be done), but it wasn't a chance I was willing to take with a growing pup.
        Yes, this is Andretti as a little puppy scarfing out of his feed bucket, he got kibble as a puppy too.

        Can I still give my dog treats? Do they have to be raw too???

        Yes, you must carry raw chicken parts in your pocket at all times! I'm joking. Of course you can still give treats, but be forewarned. Raw diet has made such a drastic difference in the amount of gas my dogs have that when I've given processed treats (anything with processed grains like typical dog bisquits) the gas comes in large gagging waves about an hour or two later. So, I've gone to giving dehydrated meat treats like liver jerky, cheese bits and things like that. 

        Not quite as inexpensive as a box of Milkbones, but I can and do put a price on those killer fart clouds. This brand averages about $10 a bag. I think there's a complex formula you can use to calculate the dollar amount per fart based on how many kibble treats each dog ingests to produce a noticeable amount of gas. But I'm not very good at math, so I just fork over the cash for the good treats.

        I travel a lot with my dog, kibble is easier.

        It sure is, but then, a lot of things in life are easier. I hack everything up into bitesize bits (hotels hate it when your dog drags raw food across the carpet) and prepackage serving sizes with the food sealer. On a 14 day trip across the country in the van, I had about 10 days worth of food in a cooler that we just restocked with ice.(as previously stated, I'm really bad at math). For the remaining 4 days, I hit the grocery store.  In the future, I may just purchase some of the Bravo or Primal raw ground diets for back-up and to compensate for my poor math skills on long trips. ;)
        Tools of the Trade; Let's Make This as Easy as Possible
        • A large, cheap meat cleaver and a heavy chopping block. Asian markets usually sell them for about $10. Pick up a knife sharpener and you're in good meat-cleavin' form for a good long time. (I got a cheap sharpener at our local camping/outdoor supply store) You can find chopping boards at the grocery, sometimes thrift stores. Make sure it's thick. You won't be wimping your way through meat chopping.

        •  Lots of gallon size zip-locks, or better yet a quality food sealer. A good one will run you about $160 at Costco, but if you do a lot of processing for a lot of dogs a commercial sealer would probably be a good investment. A commercial sealer from Cabela's will cost you about $500, but will out perform and definitely outlast a string of the cheaper FoodSaver models. 

        • A food scale, with a bowl-style weighing basket. You can pick one up at Target or Walmart for around $20-$30. I prefer my 'dial' scale vs. a digital one, and it should weigh up to 10 lbs of food

        • A large chest or upright freezer that holds about 15 - 20 cubic feet. This keeps us AND our 4 dogs in food for months at a time. 
        Thank you Sears

          • A couple of 4 quart metal feed buckets or other deep containers to hold food in the refrigerator in between thawing and feedings. 

          • A case of medical grade latex gloves or food service gloves. This makes safe food handling a lot easier, and kind of cuts down on the yuck-raw-meat factor (if raw meat grosses you out) 

          I'm finicky about my gloves, non-medical food service gloves would work just fine too. Heck, even a pair of dish gloves would get the job done.
          • Industrial size Lysol wipes and antibacterial counter spray.


          The internet is an excellent resource;

          So is the library, or Amazon, or any other book dealer;

          Dr. Ian Billinghurst's BARF diet
          Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals by Lew Olson
          Dr. Ian Billinghurst's book on Bones and Raw Food
          Raw Dog Food - Make it Easy for You and Your Dog by Carina MacDonald

          There's a lot of information in the above listed links. I agree with some of it, disagree with some of it, and giggle over bits of it. But all of it has served it's purpose; their combined education, information, statistics, experiences and scientific facts enabled me to make decisions about feeding raw food to my own dogs. 

          My parting suggestions:
          • Do your research.
          • Talk to your vet and their technicians about your plan; do not expect an enthusiastic reception. Many vets know very little about raw feeding having been led through veterinary school by the sponsoring hands of major pet food producers. A good vet will help guide you though and should be able to answer any questions you have.  
          • If your dog has medical issues (kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, etc) do EXTRA RESEARCH and consult with veterinary specialists before starting a raw diet. Being in control of exactly what goes into your dog could turn the tables on the disease process and give you some advantages (such as in a reduced salt heart disease diet, if you don't add the salt, it's not there in any effectual amount). On the flip side, you could make it worse by not balancing nutrition levels (kidney disease is the big one that comes to mind). Cancer? Be careful if your dog is getting chemotherapy, a suppressed immune system is not something you want to mess around with (but in some cases, what do you have to lose with trying?)
          • Consult with people who are feeding the diet to their pets. 
          • Read read read; books, websites, studies from universities and independent research facilities.
          • Talk to Veterinary University nutritional consultants. 
          • Take everything all of these people say with a grain of salt; don't buy into any one fanatical idea; sample from them all and decide what makes sense to you and your dog.
          • Build the diet to what works for your dog. This is especially true when deciding how much to feed. If he's too chubby, decrease the quantity of food and/or the fat content in the meat. If she's too thin, increase the quantity and feed high fat calorie meats. . 
          • Gauge feeding amounts and frequency based on your dog's body condition and energy levels on the new diet. Just because you start out feeding a certain amount doesn't mean you have to continue with that amount. 
          • Variety variety variety...don't get stuck in a rut. That can be nutritionally dangerous
          • Remember how much effort you put into you and your own family's diet; try not to freak out over organically raised hormone free meat and precise vitamin/ mineral and protein/carb ratios for your dog while you feed your spouse and children  fast food and processed/prepared/packaged foods thick with artificial colors flavors and preservatives. Keep it as simple as possible. 
          • Supervise feedings to avoid your worse fears: bone choking and food aggression. Besides, it gives you a little quality observation time with your dogs. It's kind of relaxing.
          • Keep children away from feeding dogs (this holds true for kibble or raw food). Don't invite trouble.  
          THE BEST PART IS......
            Besides being in control of exactly what goes into you pet, some of the best things about feeding a raw diet are;
            • Being able to stop using Safeway shopping bags to pick up after your dog at the park; a sandwich baggie will be more than enough! And, if it's in your yard? Give it about a day or two and it turns white and breaks down into little crumbles. Not gross, NEAT.
            • The farting has decreased massively. So much, in fact, I can tell when they've gotten into the cat food in the barn or if they've gotten processed grain treats because the gas kicks in and I remember what greyhounds are noxiously known for. I LOVE being able to take the dogs in the car and not crank the windows down as a necessity! 
              • Clean tartar free stink free mouths! My 6 1/2 year old greyhounds and a 4 year old Italian Greyhound:
              Andretti (greyhound), no dentals in 6 1/2 years. 
              Q (Italian Greyhound) 4 years old, no dental cleanings ever, just naturally clean teeth and healthy gums.

              As a disclaimer, I'm not a nutritional expert. I'm not a PhD. I didn't do my Masters in Microbiology or Digestive Science. I'm not a Veterinarian. What I am is a Registered Veterinary Technician with about 19 years experience in Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Regular day practice, Avian and exotics, Internal Medicine and a 5 year stint as a Research Specialist in a local biotech lab's vivarium working on diabetes, obesity and cancer research. This is my diet of choice for my 4 dogs, 3 active greyhounds and one Italian Couch Potato. So far, so good!

              Darby Crash eye up a gopher in the back yard. He did not manage to catch this one.

                Wednesday, January 19, 2011

                Title Chasing? Okay, you can call it that I guess.

                (no photoshopping was done to this photo. It's the actual lighting outside the Long Beach Convention Center at night )

                I knew Darby Crash was special from the very start, but I never imagined he'd take something that had been so difficult and not a lot of fun for me and turn it inside out and upside down. Showing in conformation had never been fun until, it was just work and nerves, until I met Darby. The first show he and I went to was about a week after Georgianna gave him to me, he had just turned 6 months and was barely trained to stack.

                He got a 3 point major that weekend, the judge said it was his exceptional movement. That was the first of many times I would hear that from a judge. When he was 14 months old, we took a chance and drove to 1,400 miles to Ft. Worth Texas for the Greyhound Club of America's Southern Specialty. I was told not to expect much, the competition would be big, perhaps a little out of our league. He finished his Championship at that Specialty, I guess we weren't so far out of our league after all.

                You can't go to Texas and not stop at the Cadillac Ranch!!! 

                And you can't go to the Cadillac Ranch without tagging something
                Now what?  He finished his Championship. We'd had our first really awesome road trip. It was a little disappointing; showing was getting to be fun, and Darby was still maturing and getting nicer and nicer looking by the month. H and several other folks asked if I was going to 'special' him, the answer was a no brainer, of course we were.
                Yay for more standing around and looking pretty. Such a challenge....not.

                What is "Specialing a dog?" you ask? Good question.
                She forgot to mention toys and treats and chewies and new beds and collars and leashes...I don't work for free.

                Besides being expensive (entry fees, traveling costs, time off work, etc), time consuming and often times highly political, Specialing a dog is continuing to show in conformation past getting a dog's Champion of Record title. You no longer show in regular classes, just in Best of Breed and Group competition, competing against mostly other Champions. You do it to accumulate breed points to have the dog ranked in their breed by the number of it's own breed it's defeated. Many people who decide to special a dog hire well known professional handlers and will send a dog to large shows with that handler and heavily campaign the dog with advertisements in breed magazines (that judges read). And for what? To garner a placement in the top 20 dogs in the country and secure invitations to exclusive shows: the Eukanuba Invitational, Westminster and on the International level, Crufts. Basically, to gain top recognition within the breed. Our goal was slightly less lofty; I wanted him in the top 20. I wanted an invite to the Eukanuba as this is the last year it would be held here in California (it's moving to Florida henceforth). In addition, the AKC had created a new title for Champions of Record this year; Grand Champion; and I knew he could do that. And what's more? I knew he could do that with ME; no professional handlers, no big advertising, no selectively showing only to judges we were certain would place him. You know, we'd do it the hard way!
                Pleeehhhh, this is what we think about Dog Show Politics and doing things the Hard Way.
                Here's how it works:

                • In conformation competition a hound is awarded points towards his or her 'Championship' title by winning in what are called 'Regular Classes'. Points are awarded based on how many other dogs are defeated in the class. Points are classified as minor points (1-2 points each win) or major points (3-5 points each win). A hound is 'Finished' when they reach 15 points total, with at least 2 'majors' under 2 different judges. The minimum age to start competing is 6 months old, all dogs start out with 0 points, of course.
                • For a 'Grand Championship' title, finished Champions of Record compete at the Specials level (Best of Breed competition only) and are awarded Grand Championship points by winning Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex or by being awarded 'Select Dog' or 'Select Bitch' points by the judge at each show. Each Champion of Records starts with 0 Grand Champion points and gains the title after being awarded 25 points with at least 3 majors under 3 different judges. Calculating these points requires a degree in higher math, and I firmly believe the formulas invented to decide how to calculate the points was invented by some bored idiot savant.
                • If you're so inclined, here's a link on how to calculate the points for GCh.
                So we began anew in April, showing in Best of Breed, owner handled always. We didn't show excessively; one or two shows a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. In the the process, we worked our way up the standings. By the time invitations for the Eukanuba came out, we were #15 in the top 25. We were IN!
                Stand-Stay in practice! We went for conformation AND our final Rally Novice leg.

                We went to the Eukanuba Invitational in Long Beach, California in December. 
                Darby turned 2 years old this show! Happy Birthday Darby Crash.
                If you can't have fun, don't do it. We enjoy each others company immensely!

                Darby showed very well, got to see Donna and Georgianna (who came to cheer him on!) and although we didn't place, we got to hang out with a lot of really neat people and hunker down in the 'Meet the Breed' booth when we weren't showing. We earned our final Rally Novice leg, and got Select points (one point shy of our Grand Championship!) More important, we introduced ourselves to everyone.
                Hanging out with Tess at the Cocktail Party

                Darby is very sociable and will "go say hello" to anyone and everyone. Everywhere we go, every road trip, Darby Crash meets people. More important than competing or winning or any of that blah blah blah is meeting and making new friends wherever we go (whether it's the local Home Depot or a trip to the East Coast). This huge show, the Eukanuba, was no exception. The show will be aired on ABC this Sunday, January 23rd. Keep your eye out for Darby Crash, he was schmoozing with EVERYONE, cameramen included and may show up in the 'Meet the Breed' interviews. Sort of a "Where's Waldo" to get you to watch the dog show! Except this is "Where's Darby Crash?" We had a really good time, although I can say I won't be traveling to Florida to do it again!

                Darby in Blues (again, no photoshop here, this is the actual lighting.

                In our last planned long show weekend, we traveled to Palm Springs to show at the Inland Empire/Palm Springs Kennel Club hound special. We got our last needed Select point and two Rally Advanced legs!
                Our little Darby Crash is now GCh Ch Aragon Aroi Silver Lining, working on his rally titles. As of October, 2010 there were only 6 Grand Champion Greyhounds in the country (none with any obedience or coursing accomplishments, by the way), Darby is now amongst them! Stick a fork in us, we are DONE. And you won't find us talking about titles much more. Alphabet soup before and after a dog's name has never really been that important to me (in fact, fanatically and meticulously listing title abbreviations after a dogs name irritates the hell out of me. So few people REALLY know or care what all those letters mean. It's pretty silly, actually). This was a challenge, the grand champion thing, it doesn't really mean that much aside from the fact that we did it based on the dog's merits alone. I'm a nobody, judges don't know me from Jack. Yet we placed over professional handlers and top dogs. I haven't seriously campaigned Darby, he's won on his merits in the ring, not a magazine. THIS is what means something to me. And his obedience accomplishments. Obedience is practical. We use that everyday. Yes, we work hard to pass the tests that earn the titles, but the person it means the most to is me, not anyone else. We'll blog about that later. For now? We plan on taking some well deserved time away from conformation so the baby boy can grow up a little. He finished his Grand Championship less than a year from starting it at the tender age of only 2 years, with 4 majors under 12 judges. Now we let him grow up. We'll work on our obedience; finish rally legs and start regular obedience competition. In addition to fetching a lot of sticks

                So many sticks, so little time.

                Digging a bunch of gophers
                when you stick your tongue out the side of your mouth, it means you're really concentrating hard!

                Another one bites the dust!

                and mastering control over his ears
                Oh geez, not the ears!!!!

                They give him special stalking powers.

                I think his Merlin is showing.

                Merlin, Darby's dad, on the right. As if you couldn't tell. Oh boy, we're in for the ears, I think.