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Monday, July 29, 2013

"I'm thinking About Breeding My 2 Cattledogs...."

Think again, please.

Unless both dogs are registered with either the AKC and or the UKC (preferably both) and have had all their health tests (BAER, CERF, PRA, etc. etc = around $800-1000 per dog) and you have 3 times as many people (with deposits) as you might have puppies (8 puppies = 24 owners with deposits) and are willing to take back any puppy you produce throughout its entire lifetime (and that can be 15+ years) and will guarantee the health of all your puppies and microchip them etc etc. Can you provide and have the money for pre-natal care, vet visits for mommy dog, ultrasounds, a possible Cesarean delivery etc. etc.....If you can't or even balk at doing this because well, you might think it's unnecessary.....I would strongly advise you not to breed

A good breeder, a responsible one spends hundreds if not thousands of dollars on both the stud and bitch. It wouldn't be fair to the puppies if mom and dad weren't in the peak of health and had all their eye, ear, hip, elbow, heart tested. If you can't or won't do the health testing or you think it's unnecessary, I would strongly advise you not to breed

Are you willing to find the perfect home for your deaf puppy (and that happens more than you'd think)? Are willing to do home checks or have a trusted dog friend do them for you? If you don't think you need to check references or are unwilling to do so, I would strongly advise you not to breed

Are you financially prepared for seeing the puppies get all their puppy health exams and shots? Will you have a mandatory spay-neuter contract with a held deposit until they new owners have proof of it? Will you get all the puppies microchipped so if (god forbid) at some point in its life that puppy ends up dumped at a shelter, you can go and get it, anywhere? If not, or you think that's a waste of time or money, I would strongly advise you not to breed

Are you going to be there for the new puppy owners 24/7 for the rest of that puppy's life? Or yours? Phone calls in the middle of the night?  Helping them find a good, kind trainer, urging them to take their puppy to class?  Are you willing to keep track of all your puppies for the rest of their lives?  Are you willing to track down them down? Are you willing to deal with the owner who is embarrassed, ashamed, avoids you? If you're not willing to be your new puppy owner's mentor I would strongly advise you not to breed

If you are unwilling or unable to do all of the above: Please Don't Breed Your Two Dogs.  Please. 

 Folks with intact dogs have to be extra vigilant. You can't depend on your dogs to "be good" when Nature comes calling her siren song.

You have to look at the big picture here. 

You breed a litter and you haven't done all your homework.  Your puppies make puppies. Your puppies end up in shelters.

Too many cattledogs end up in shelters and are tragically euthanized every WEEK. Rescues are overloaded and many good cattledogs die. I volunteer at a very low kill shelter, visit a high kill one. Everyone who is thinking of breeding should visit a "regular" shelter at least once in their life. If it doesn't affect you at your very core, and make you swear you'll do damn near ANYTHING to avoid having any of your babies end up there, Please Don't Breed Your Two Dogs.  Please. 

We need to be the guardians of our dogs and this breed in particular. A lot of people might want a cattledog for a wide variety of reasons but most people don't "get" cattledogs. The see a smart one, a loving one, a well-trained one, a good worker with a cool "look" to them and they think, "Cool dog! I want one!" The don't see endless hours of devotion, work, frustration, worry on that dog's owner's part.  

A Good Cattledog takes some doing.  Nature and Nurture.

There are tons of cool, fun things to do with your dogs that don't involve breeding!  The options for fun with your dog are endless. Puppies are undeniably cute but the breeder MUST be responsible about bringing these new lives into an often cruel world. They are noisy, messy, need to be raised with love, kindness, socialized properly.  Etc. etc. 

This isn't being mean; it's being real, fair and honest. You are your dogs' guardian, now and for always, until the day, old and gray, their bodies leave this world for the Rainbow Bridge. That goes for any offspring you produce.

Of any breed or type.  

Please Don't Breed Your Two Dogs.  Please. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Camera Crap

Well, that was pretty much a total waste of 90 minutes (and $41) of my time.  I have no answers to my camera dilemma.

Thank you for NOT putting my camera under the microscope, Campus Camera in Kent.

I told you up front I could not afford to get a new camera.  Right at the get-go. No B.S. "Don't sell me a new camera. I/we can't afford it."

Yes, I KNOW my camera is "really old".  Duh.  It's a Minolta DSLR almost before Konica, then Sony bought them out. would be LOVELY to get a new Sony A58 that has a translucent mirror and shoot 7 frames a second with a tilt screen but that isn't happening and it's not in the budget.  And even if it were, I can get a package on amazon with 2 lenses for about what you all sell the body for.

So thanks for trying to sell me a new camera before I could barely get out that, yeah, I think it might be my SENSOR.

"Are you seeing dust spots on your pictures?"


"Then it can't be the sensor."

Well, here's a thought, Einstein...... could you just LOOK at the damn sensor?  You take it the back and LOOK at it under a microscope.

I never got my camera "looked at" looked at. Just cleaned with a cloth.  Which was nice, especially after he said, "This camera looks pretty clean."

Well, duh, I haven't been using it for dust rag!  Yeah, I thought I'd go ahead and scrub my floors with my camera.

Yes, I needed lens caps, a new filter, and a camera cap and yes, my old strap was being held together by zip ties so yes, I needed a new strap.

And yes, I really do appreciate you putting the strap on (which took 45 minutes, not his fault, truly) and ah, sh*t it's on backwards so I have to redo it.

Which I did not have heart to tell him.

So I come home and shoot 100 pictures using various lens and guess what, there is either something wrong with the camera focusing point or (and I hate to even think this) my eyesight. I honestly don't think it's my eyesight.  I've been using this camera for 10 years, I know exactly where dead center is in the view finder.

(Examples: uncropped. They are almost all like this.)

So I'm still back at Square One and seriously depressed and pissed off.

There was an upside.....and thank you Miss M. for suggesting it.... an truly outstanding baked burrito (in Kent) at Taco Tantos.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Music: Don't Cry

Costume made by Marcia Detweiler,
restored by Deb Langenhop 1998
I've started to scan, archive, even photograph my friend's mom's (and grandmother's) sheet music collection.  Her mom, Marcia Merritt, was a professional singer on the radio (among many other talents) so she had a ton of music. She also was a sculptor, costumer, actress, made all her own clothes, doll house furniture builder,  Etc. etc. etc.

As I start going through this collection, I feel somewhat humbled.  This is a family legacy.  As of this writing, Marcia is still alive but alas in a nursing home.  Her daughter and grandchildren are very musical.  I've been in plays with all of them!  I wore HER costume as Dolly in HELLO DOLLY! at the same theater in 1998.

Now I'm one of those odd ducks who likes to HEAR what it sounds like, so you become a Musical Detective-Archaeologist.  Some songs are easy to find, others......

This song, (DON'T CRY published in 1942) as far as my research led me, was never recorded but at some point it was filmed.  Band leader is a pianist, Vincent Lopez, singer is Sunny Skylar (I think), who also wrote the song.

Sunny's real name was Selig Saftel.  NO wonder he changed it!  He also wrote Amor, Get Be This OR That (big hit for Sinatra), And So To Sleep Again and the English words to Besame Mucho, which I've sung a thousand times!

How's that for obscure? LOL!  It's kind of nice little fox trot ballad-song from the War Years.

Here is a link to the only "sound" version I could find.  On good old Mother YouTube.
Don't Cry

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Dogs' View: The Wagon

Artie: I heard Mom in the kitchen, fussing about and clicking something.  Not the Clicker Something but her belt thing (Spibelt) that she wears a lot. This means she's probably going somewhere. I heard her reach for something by the door to Our Place.  Oh, oh, oh, I think she's going for a harness.....wait for it.....


Artie: God, Elke, really?  How old are you again?


Artie: Oh, oh, she has MY harness too!!!!!!  Yippeee!

What?  I have to get BACK???  Mom has to go first?  Oh, god, I can't stand it!

Artie: Hey Princess Superior,  check it out. Mom is holding YOUR leash!   She doesn't have to hold MINE.  I stay with her!
Oh, nothing from the peanut gallery???
Yeah, go ahead, give me the stink eye.
So....anyway.....She attached the other end of our leash to my harness front so we are on the same leash.  Mom says it's easier than do all it that way than the leashes-tangled-up-two-dogs thing.
We wear a special harness called a Freedom Harness.
Elke in her Freedom Harness last year. 
Now humans name stuff the darnedest things.  "Freedom," my Aunt Fanny! Freedom means running around, jumping in the water, stuff like that.   Anyway, you can attach a leash to the top or the front or both. It's a nice harness.  Mom really likes it. I know when I see the harness something's going to happen!!!!
Elke is sniffing like crazy.  I mean like she's sniffing her brains out.  Like Evil Vacuum Cleaner.
We walked to the place with the slide-out box that gives treats to us (the bank) and then we start to walk home. We go down a street I don't think I've been to before and Mom sees a girl on a bike trying to pull her brother in a wagon.

Mom: (This does not bode well: kids, bike, wagon....This could be a lot of fun or a train's looking like a train wreck.....Yep, it's a train wreck.....) You need a rope!

Girl: He hurt his knee and I'm trying to get him to my uncle's house. You're too heavy! (accusingly to kid in wagon)

Elke: I've calmed down now.  I've sniffed......

Artie...yeah, like the neighborhood went up your nose....

Elke: .....I've pooped.  I'm good. Hi kids!

Artie: KIDS!??  Whoa, kids!!!!

Elke: Mom looped our leash through the handle of the wagon. Then she put the leash on to the top of our harnesses. She clicked her tongue, not the Treat Sound but ck-ck-ck and made kissy noises!
     "C'mon guys, pull-pull-pull!  Ck-ck-ck!  Good dogs!  Good girl, Schmooby!  Good boy, Blooby!"  (She was using her Happy Voice.) Mom had her hand on the handle to steer it, and make sure it didn't run into our butts but oh, we were pulling the wagon.  Brat Boy was a little weirded out at first so I did most of the work......

Artie: Yeah, that thing behind me making noise was a little weird but Mom kept saying I was good!

Elke: ....Then he finally got his act together.  We pulled the wagon down the street, passed about ten houses, turned left, passed a few houses, turned right and then turned left into a driveway.  Some guy on his porch hollered, "Hey, that's the way to do, that's pretty cool, you go, dogs, great idea!" (I think he'd had a few beers.)
We finally arrived at the house and the girl was sooooooo nice and thanked us and pet us very gently.  Blooby wasn't even a brat!  Amazing.
Mom said, "See you don't need a sled dog!  These guys can do it just fine!"
The little boy never thanked us.  Brat. Mom changed our leash back to the front part of our harnesses and made us walk nicely home. No pulling!  It feels different when the leash is on TOP!
The rest of the way home Mom told us how good we were!
Us by New Car. It doesn't have a name yet. 
We came in the house and Mom took off our harnesses.  I collapsed on the floor and Brat Boy slept on the pillow!  Mom said we really earned our dinner tonight.

Artie: Don't we always?

Elke: Whatever.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Artie's Day July 5, 2013

Artie: I had a huge day yesterday. I'm still exhausted!

My Auntie Gayle took us to the shelter yesterday where I was adopted from. I don't remember being there. I was there only a day maybe and then I went to live with Momma Jen, the Rotten-weilers and Uncle Shay the collie.  Then I went Mom and Dad's house. 


There is a doggie day care there, so Mom to me there to have play time while she messed about with shelter dogs. She had lots of smells on her when she picked me up. The place is called Hattie Larlham (In Twinsburg, OH) and employs people with mental disabilities. But I don't care!  

The head guy told me and Auntie that I did really well and they said, "He can come back ANY time!" Mom was really happy, because as a Cattledog Mom she hasn't heard this a lot cuz it doesn't happen all the time. The Others who came before me could be real bossy with other dogs. Some of us cattledogs are pretty bossy!

Then we went to my cousins' house Oreo, McKinley and I hung out there for a couple of hours.
Waiting for Uncle Ray to come home.....I don't need to lay on no stinkin' towel!

Kinners really likes his butt scratched!
I play with Oreo and then I play with McKinley!  This is how it goes when I am there.....

Then we all went (along with other doggie friend, Dudley) for a very hot, humid, muddy, slippery long walk (6-8 miles) through the woods. Up and down hills, lots of roots and rocks and slippery stuff, through streams and mud.  I don't care because I'm a dog!  I like the water part. I was a little worried at the pond where the Bad Thing happened but I went in and out with Kinners so eventually it was ok. 

I think Dudley got stung by a skeeter; there were a lot of skeeters. All the humans were sweating a lot.  Dudley won't go into the water like Oreo, Kinners and I do.  He doesn't like it but that's ok!  Oreo dips himself, it's funny!  I know Mom was really tired but it's GOOD for her.  We went back to O&M's house and I got a BATH!!!!!!  Eeeeuuuuu! 

(Yawn...) Ya know.....I...think...I little....bit......Zzzzzzzzzzz.......

Mom: Can you believe it, I think he's STILL tired!

Artie getting some loving from Honorary Mom, Auntie Gayle.

I truly hope his sweet, goofy, social nature continues as he matures. I really love his temperament!

When you adopt a dog, even one as young as he was (3.5-5 months), It's a crap-shoot. You have no idea where he came from. How he was raised. A lot of it IS nurture (I think) but nature is definitely in there. I'm thrilled beyond measure at what a nice boy he is and I think we've "done right" by him as owners/trainers. He does get the occasional verbal "Hey!" and "What the he-- are you doing?" and "Knock it off!" but all the rest of his training has been "all positive." Praise, clickers, treats, tug/fetch rewards, luring, shaping etc.

He'll be 2 in September.

Classes and Training Help: L'Chaim Canine.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Fundamentalist Invasion

Those damn Pro-lifers fundamentalists.
I have maintained for years, whether you are a Christian, Jew, whatever, that the Religious Right (MOST of whom, alas, call themselves Christians) are the most dangerous political group out there and they have made severe inroads into our government on ALL levels.
Do you still not believe me?  Look at these blasted anti-abortion laws.  Look at how these so-called "men" have done to women's rights.  I tell you what: when every single one of those pro-lifers has adopted a crack, disabled, bi-racial baby and not one child needs a home, maybe then I'll be impressed that your so-called "faith" is genuine.
This nonsense will trickle to affect men as well.
Women's rights and suffrage in Ohio has just gone back a century.
What's next, women are property?
I know the Spousal Unit has disagreed with me when I have said this, but damn, I'm right and this latest Ohio bill debacle proves it.
These (mostly) white males sure as heck have given true Christians and Good People of Faith a really bad taste in the mouth.
And ya'all wonder why I don't go to church.
I think Jesus would be/is severely pissed off.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Today I Am Ashamed To Be An Ohioan

At a time when Ohio's animal advocates are rejoicing as Nitro's Law has passed, making animal abuse a felony comes disaster!

Read this and weep....
Governor Kasich Signs Law

This is such horse sh*t I can't even stand it.  When we should be celebrating our Independence as Americans and Ohioans; on the 210th anniversary of our Statehood, this has happened.

I am ashamed to be an Ohioan. I am ashamed and frightened to be an Ohio woman.

My family has been in this state since 1795 and I am ashamed that 10+ generations of my family (men and women) have worked its land, preached from its pulpits, taught its children, wrote for its newspapers, served in its courts, worked untold hours for its arts, its homeless, its animals, its communities.  The women in my family have been tireless volunteers, mothers, grandmothers, college graduates, teachers, preachers, missionaries, musicians, actresses, financiers, merchants, booksellers, writers, farmers, suffragettes.....

Generations of Johnson Girls, past and present, are quivering in indignation and anger.

I am ashamed to be an Ohioan.

I always thought that when I died, my ashes would lie in the cemetery where my family for generations has been laid to rest. Now I almost feel as though the land I have lived in all my life, loved and defended is somehow soiled. That my spirit will not rest in the place I thought was home. It will cry for Ohio's women.

My home has been defiled. Ohio's green fields, her woods blazing with autumn glory, Lake Erie's waves crashing against her shores, her annoying winter slush, bright bluebirds and spring peepers, her July fire-flies, her dreary skies, her lake-effect weather, her parks, her orange-coned highways, her crowds, her museums, her history, her music, her foibles, glories, follies, triumphs have been diminished somehow.

My heart breaks and fears for the women of Ohio (and the other archaic states who have allowed this to happen). My heart aches and fears for men of reason, of education, of logic, of compassion.

I could make a smart-ass comment about "What's next for Ohio women: burkahs?" But that would be bitter fruit.

I am grateful that my mother is dead.  This surely would have killed her.  I think it would have killed my Aunt Nancy and my grandmother too. I can only pray that this can be overturned somehow.

It Isn't Just A Pit Bull Thing. Cattledogs Get It Too!

OK, OK, I know. A lot of my friends have or work with or volunteer for Pitbull type dogs.  Two of Artie's bestest friends are pit-type dogs.
The Spousal Unit with Kinners: two guys hangin' out.

Oreo: he's down with that!  Artie loves him!

The boys check out Co
usin Artie
So yes, we have contact with many "big heads."  And we love our pit-type friends.  We hear the stories, the misconceptions, the comments about them.

I've been a lot of places where there are dogs and now because of my exposure to pit-types, I don't have any pre-conceived notions.  It's a dog with a (usually) square head, period. I ask if I can pet etc. just as I would with any dog.  And I've done events with a pit-type on my arm, so to speak, and have educated and advocated for them for years now.

I think I've heard darn near every comments a person can make about pit-type dogs and I'm here to tell you, it runs the gamut from "Awesome" to "Satanic."

I've heard, "You can't trust 'em, not one of 'em," to "Best damn dog my family ever had!"

What is fascinating to ME, personally, is for as many bad or  fearful stories that people tell, I've heard an almost equal amount of curious, respectful questions to misty-eyed memoirs to powerful stories of love and loyalty.

I can honestly say (if the locale is pretty neutral) that the nice comments or questions run about anywhere from 40-75% of what I've heard if the dog I'm with is a nice, mellow dog or goofy, happy dog.

The negatives just seem louder than the neutrals and positives.

Now folks who have pit types wail and gnash (rightly so) about how misunderstood their dogs are.  They are.  I'm not saying they're NOT!  BSL, extreme prejudice, unnecessary killings and incarcerations. Pit type owners have every right to feel, nay, be paranoid, vigilant and on guard. If you're on a Pit Group on Facebook or you know folks who have them or work with them, this is nothing new. It's an exhausting round of educating John Q. Stupid-Public.

However, you're not the only ones.

We have (for those of you who don't know us) a lovely female mix and an Australian Cattledog (ACD). He will be 2 in Sept. 2013 and his name is Artie or "Blooby" as he is most often known.  (Blame the S.U. on that.)

Artie is my 7th (including fosters) ACD. This is my 20th year with cattledogs.

Brief synopsis for the uninitiated: An ACD (sometimes known as a Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler or Heeler) is a medium sized herding dog breed, originating in (who'd a-thunk?) Australia!  They come in blue or red (plus blue or red speckle).  They were bred to herd and guard feral cattle in the outback.  They are also used on sheep and other stock, including reindeer! They are very smart, pretty biddable (I think) and tough. They have teeth (scissor bite) which they use to herd stock with, often nipping at the heels of recalcitrant cows. Thus the name "heelers." They are often called "velcro" dogs because they want to know what you're up to at any given moment.
They are athletic and sturdy with a weather-resistant coat. They should have upright ears and tight "cat feet."
They are loyal to their humans but often diffident to down-right suspicious of strangers. They often are not tolerant of other dogs.  They need a ton of positive socialization. They have a lot of energy, although I have had a few that were pretty laid back. (That's not the norm.) They are a "busy" dog but I think there are many dogs that are far busier.  They love brain and/or body work and excel in a wide variety of dog sports.  At 17-20 inches, it's an easy size to live and travel with.

Artie has some of the best qualities of his breed and of a companion dog in general.  We're very, very blessed.

ACDs are also an extremely unusual LOOKING dog. Once you know what a cattledog looks like (or SHOULD look like) you can honestly say, "Yep, that's a cattledog!"   They are pretty unforgettable!

(I have to preface this by telling you I live in the Midwest.)

Here are some of the "usual" comments who someone has met Artie (or any of my other cattledogs.)

"Wow, what kind of mix is THAT?"
"Man, how old IS your dog?" (This only seems to happen with blues; must be the grey hairs in the coat.)
"Does that dog have WOLF in him?"
"Is that a little German Shepherd?" (I never know where people get that from.)
And startlingly close to the truth) "Is that a (part) Dingo?"

Once in a while (and it's getting to be more commonplace than it was 20 years ago) you hear:

"Is that one of them blue heelers?"  This is often said in the same semi-suspicious tone as many a pit type owner has heard.  "Is that one of them pit bulls?"

Now, OK, all right, call me grammatically biased but the minute someone (no matter what city or state I'm in) says "them heelers" or "them there heelers" or even 'them cattledogs," (yes Virginia, some people DO get it right), my intellectual-snobbery-hackles start rising up.  Even when someone say "those cattledogs" with the emphasis on "those," I inwardly cringe.  I'm sure pit type folks do too.

"Oh, God, here we go. And it's not going to good."

Here's where the pit type folks and the cattledog folks diverge. With a pit type on the other end of your leash, you COULD ostensibly B.S. your way through that query especially if your dog is black, brindle or fawn colored.  I've heard lab-boxer mix, hound-boxer mix, poodle-terrier mix (yes, we had one of those of the Humane Society) etc. etc.  John Q. Stupid couldn't pick out a pure-bred American Pit Bull Terrier out of a line-up!  Many experts can't either!

But if they've identified your ACD as a heeler or cattledog, yeah, you're pretty much sunk.  Here it comes, I think.  The Bad Cattledog Story. And it almost always begins with "My cousin" or "My friend had one of them."

It's usually a cousin. If it's a cousin, you know (9 out of 10 times) it's going to be bad.

Let's say, on a good week, you and your friendly, social dog meet 20 pretty neutral-to-nice people, all men.  In a good week, the pit type folks  might get 40% - 60%  neutral to positive reactions.  The rest, admittedly, are going to suck.

In that same week, the cattledog owner, meets 20 people (men) who guess (correctly) what he is. 17-19 of those people will say the following:

"Cool looking dog. You cousin (insert other friend or relation) had one of them (there) dogs.  Meanest damn dog you ever saw. Bit everybody.  Loyal as hell but damn, was he ever mean!"  

Your heart does a little downward spiral because you know that yet another jerk owns an out-of-control, untrained (or badly trained) cattledog and is doing a huge disservice to the breed. Your brain goes slightly postal and you think with in inward sigh:

Educate. Again. It's a training exercise for my dog, meeting new people. Again.  I bet Lab/Pug/Fluffy Dog people don't go through this sh*t.

So, Pit type dog owners and lovers, you are not the only ones.  If you're out in public, cattledog people get this all the time.  All. The. Tine.

So do Rottweiler people.  And Doberman people. And German Shepherd people.

Perhaps it might comfort you folks with pit type dogs to know you're not alone.