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Miniature American Shepherd – Alangus Mini Aussies: A Dog Blog
Feb 242014
 

Although a controversial subject in some circles, I’d like to answer the question “What is the difference in a Miniature Australian Shepherd and a Miniature American Shepherd?” in my own words.

Originally, Australian Shepherds were bred as working dogs and used by immigrant shepherds in the northwest US.   Ranchers were looking for their best dogs with strong herding instinct and drive so what we now see as Australian Shepherds most likely looked very different in the early 1800’s, even from place to place.  Utility, not appearance, was the goal for those shepherds and their dogs.  Over time, the breed became more standardized and was accepted by American Kennel Club as a distinct dog breed in 1991.    AKC currently lists their breed standard for an Australian Shepherd at 18″-23″ at the shoulders (withers).  I find it interesting that I have a picture of my grandparents along with my father and his two brothers in a family group standing with their farm dog that looks very similar to a red tri Aussie taken in the late 1930’s in Kentucky.

Between the “then” and “now”, a few motivated breeders whose kennel names are found in the majority of the Mini Aussie foundation bloodlines, started to breed small to small to get a more compact dog.  In the late 1980’s, my father brought me a little red merle female registered Australian Shepherd to “keep” until she was old enough to work his Black Angus cattle.  Patch, as we called her, stood about 16″ and weighed 28 pounds as an adult.  She was undoubtedly an Aussie, but in today’s measurements would be called a Mini.  I can imagine that with time her progeny could have been reduced much further in height over a few generations.  By the way, that pup that I was to babysit and give some basic obedience shared my house for the next 16 1/2 years and didn’t muddy her feet in the barn lot.  Instead, she was our house dog and protector, herding any stray boyfriends back to their cars with a nip on the behind!

Since AKC limited their standard size to the Aussie, those smaller dogs took on a life of their own and folks started to call them Mini Aussies.  As people do, a division line in the sand was drawn and the die hard Aussie folks took a serious dislike to the smaller versions.  National Stock Dog Registry who had previously registered working Border Collies before they were accepted by AKC (another story), Australian Shepherds and also the old breed of English Shepherds begin to register and keep records for pedigrees on the Mini Aussie and listed their size as between 14-18″.  At that point and even now, you find AKC registered Australian Shepherds in the bloodlines of the Minis.

Now back to the question, what is the difference between a Mini Aussie and a Mini Ameri?  Again, this is my words, and please no flaming!  There is not one iota of difference except the verbage. North American Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of USA (NAMASCUSA) became the home club for the Mini Aussie and sought recognition by AKC for them to be an accepted breed for conformation showing in that venue.  Over a period of time and with much debate and deliberation, AKC allowed the Mini Aussie to join the ranks as AKC Foundation Stock Service (new developing breed) with some caveats.  The Australian Shepherd folks still had their line in the sand and wouldn’t back down on the Mini being an offshoot of their breed standard, so to be accepted, the NAMASCUSA Mini Aussie folks agreed to change the name and a few revisions to the breed standard wording including the size range 13″-18″.  A vote of the members chose Miniature American Shepherd as the official breed name.  Within the next year, the Mini Ameri will have passed the “trial by fire” as FSS and be added to the AKC ranks with full rights and privileges.

As humans do, once again, another line was drawn in the sand.  There are many Mini Aussie breeders who are determined to keep the name “Mini Aussie” and others who think the benefits of being AKC recognized was worth a name change.  During this transition time, any Mini Aussie that is registered with National Stock Dog Registry can also be registered with AKC FSS as a Mini Ameri, thus having dual names and dual registration.  Those that drew the line against AKC have mostly moved their registrations to American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR).

At this point and probably forever, the two will continually cross pedigrees.  For example, in the case of my dogs, the pedigrees include dogs registered as AKC Standard Aussies, ones registered NSDR as Mini Aussies and some of the younger ones also ASDR as Mini Aussies.  Because the general public doesn’t know or care about all the background, I still for the most part call my dogs Mini Aussies.  When I talk to other breeders, I more likely use the Miniature American Shepherd name.  What is the difference?  In my house, one day a Mini Aussie..sign a registration form and the next day a Mini Ameri!  The dog is the same, the pedigree is the same, the snuggles are the same….so no difference!

 

 Posted by at 11:02 pm
Feb 072014
 

I do a lot of corresponding with folks by phone, email and Facebook that are shopping for “the puppy” that they would like to bring home with them and I am reminded that a puppy is a long term commitment, not one to be taken lightly.  With that in mind, I am drawing from one of my old posts about the parallel importance of shopping for a breeder along with shopping for a puppy.

In our digital age where we can talk online to folks all over the country and world and see what they want us to see, and no more, it is even more important to do due diligence in our searches and to ask the right questions and make the correct observations when buying a dog.  None of us want to feed the fodder to a person that is running a puppy mill operation.  As consumers, we are the best police for those folks.  If they have no customers, it is no longer profitable for them to run their business.

How do you know you are buying a puppy from a reputable breeder?  What questions should you ask? How do you determine if the person you are talking to is giving you straight answers?

  • After making initial contact, try to speak on the phone to the person to get a feel for their personality.  Do they have time to talk to you?  Are they evasive or forthcoming when you ask relevant questions? Go with the gut.
  • Look at the dog’s pedigree. Even if buying a companion puppy, it is a plus to see some titled dogs in the bloodlines which indicates adherence to breed standard.  Pictures of other dogs in the line are helpful to see what the genetics behind the puppies predicts.
  • Ask to see the sire and dam’s registration papers if you wish to register your puppy.  Know the different venues for registration for the particular breed you choose.
  • If the dogs have been health tested, ask for the paperwork. Not every health item is life threatening and some have little to no effect on companion puppies, but the breeder should be open and discuss what they mean to you, as a buyer.
  • Ask the name of the breeder’s veterinarian and call the office for a reference.  Ask how often they see the breeder in their vet office for routine care.  Do not be afraid to inquire about the care the breeder gives their adults dogs.  Do they have their teeth cleaned, do they get regular vaccinations, what is the dog’s condition when they come in for exam, etc?
  • Check out Yahoo Local or Angie’s List for comments from previous buyers of puppies.  You can also ask the breeder for references and make those phone calls.  If you ask the right questions, you can get a feel for what the previous puppies from the breeder are like.
  •  Ask about membership in breed organizations and check it out.
  •  Google the person’s name and state.  Watch for any criminal activity or complaints that might crop up online.
  •  And if you can, make a personal connection with the breeder by visiting their adult dogs and seeing their house.  When visiting someone’s home, it is quite easy to see the environment in which the dogs live.  I have a strong opinion that if a breeder does not want me to see their dogs or where their dogs live, there must be a reason.  That’s not always possible if you are making a purchase out of state, but just be careful and diligent.  With our technology, virtual real time tours are very easy and valuable.

Contrary to the belief of the general public and implications of the media, reputable hobby breeders do not net a large amount of money.   Health testing, feeding quality food, routine health care,  and showing and competition are expensive  and time consuming endeavors.  Reputable breeders typically charge higher prices than those pumping out puppies in the barn to cover those costs and to guarantee a healthy animal.  For most of us, we love our breed and breeding a few litters a year is just fun and we enjoy the extended relationships with the buyers of our puppies and watching the puppies mature to become loved companions.

Puppy mills should be stopped when the health and welfare of the animals are being sacrificed for profit. The Law of Supply and Demand will help to control and eliminate the bad apples if puppy buyers will do their homework. Ask the right questions and consider the answers you find when shopping for a new puppy.

Jan 212014
 

This new litter of Mini Aussie/ Mini American Shepherd puppies has been my trial run for litter box training and I am sold that it works much better than any other method I have tried.  Previously, I have used disposable pee pads and washable pee pads, the latter being the best of those two methods.  However, I learned that the washable pee pads sometimes led the puppies to believe it was okay for them to potty on their owner’s rugs since the fabric texture was what their feet were searching for as a potty area.  The litter is like nothing else found in our home environment so they can’t be confused about what is “okay”.

I have a series of YouTube videos on litter training for anyone interested but thought I would outline the steps I have taken that have worked very well.  As a retired teacher, I always have the desire to learn and also to teach.  As I was researching litter box training for dogs, I found very little worthwhile information with sequential steps from puppy hood.  Mostly folks show a picture of their final setup with a dog walking in to the box to potty.  Well, how did they get to that point??

When my puppies are born, they sleep with their dam in a Perla bed which keeps them contained in a safe and warm environment.  For the first 2-2 1/2 weeks they are unable to move out of that area and their mama dog keeps them clean and neat so potty training is a moot point.  However, once they open their eyes and ears, they start to explore and before long their little legs start to take them out into the big world around them.

At the point that they are able to roll out of their Perla bed, I changed  to the bottom half of a large plastic kennel lined with “vet bed” and left it open for the mama to come in and out.  Across from the kennel bottom, I placed the other half of the kennel lined with bed pads that you find at the drug store or Walmart. I used a large clamp to hold the two together so there were no cracks for them to fall through.  I gave them a ramp (rolled up towel) to toddle over into their bathroom area and gave them practice moving from one side to the other.  I spend a lot of time with my puppies, so I tried to move them over and back many times during the day and before long they were starting to potty on the pad.  Excellent–first step completed!  The good part was that the mama dog could jump in and out gingerly when she needed to and the puppies were contained.

As the puppies have matured, they got some time out on the floor to play and explore, but when I wasn’t watching and during the night, I made sure the halves of the crate were clamped together so they had two options, sleep in their bed, or potty in their bathroom.  Before long, I was waking up in the morning to their knowing the difference in the two areas.  Slowly, I started to add the litter on top of the pee pad.  At first it was very alien to the puppies and they weren’t sure what to do so I kept enough of the pad surface showing for their feet to feel what they were used to.   This step, introduction of litter completed!

Once the first bold puppy learned to topple out of the bed at night, I had to change out the plan once again.  I added a Sterlite under the bed plastic box to the pen area with a pad and just some litter covering the pad and many times during the day moved the puppies into that area saying “go potty” and giving praise.   I continued to keep the other kennel half with a pad and litter available as well so there were now two areas.  As much as possible overnight, I contained the puppies in their bed using my Iris fencing along side so they still had two options, sleep or potty.  During the day, I moved the fence outwards for play and eating areas along with their potty places.  During this step, I continued to make the litter deeper but still having some pad showing in places.  It was amazing for me to see them moving on their own to the litter box, especially for their number twos.

Two of the babies had very short legs, so instead of getting a second Sterlite box, I took away the kennel bottom and added a plastic rabbit hutch tray again lined with a pad and litter.  The short sides were easy to walk over and it was still large enough for the puppies to do their dance.  At this stage the kennel area contained their bed, eating area, Sterlite litter box and rabbit hutch litter box.  Lots more practice and by 4 weeks old, we are at nearly 100% on poops and 80% on peepees, which seem to be a little harder, especially right after napping.  Some just can’t wait!

In another week or so, my plan is to phase out the rabbit tray and add the second Sterlite box because two will fit perfectly across the back of my Iris pen area.  I’m predicting to be in the high 90th percentile on everything by then and little legs will have lengthened to make it easy for everyone.

I have continued to use the bed pads under the litter just because it is so easy to roll everything up and toss in the garbage.  With six puppies, I like to change out the litter daily although I keep it scooped often.  I’m thinking with just one puppy it wouldn’t be necessary to change the litter but occasionally, weekly maybe, and the pads won’t be necessary for the new owners.

Why would you litter box train a puppy/dog?  I am an advocate for teaching a puppy to go outside to do their business, but those first few months or even long term, there may be times when no one is home and rather than have a mess why not have a puppy trained to have a place to go and keep the owners happy.  Overnight, it is also really nice during bad weather to have options if you don’t want to take the dog out.

How will we transition?  Easy!  I am currently using wood stove pellets which are compressed sawdust and biodegradable.  When the weather clears and the puppies are big enough to put on the ground, I will just put some of their litter out on the grass or garden area where I want them to learn to potty.  They know the texture and the smell and will be drawn to the litter.

Wood stove pellets are sold at home stores like Tractor Supply, 40 pounds for $5, which I have stored in a plastic garbage can.   I doubt they are available during the summer, so it may be necessary to stock up.  I have also been told that the pellets that are used for horse bedding are similar and perhaps more compressed so I will also try those and evaluate the difference.  If wood stove pellets are not available, actual dog litter made from compressed newspaper is available at Petco and other big box stores, but for a substantially higher price.  Cat litter should NOT be used because it could be ingested.  In my experience, puppies do not eat the pellets which has also been a pleasant surprise.

I am convinced that training new puppies to use a litter box will help the new owners and it certainly has made my life much easier and kept their area clean and neat.  I’m a believer!

 

Dec 192013
 

full moonI’m an old country girl, so the axiom “the watched pot never boils” is stuck in my head this morning when looking down at my new litter of six toy and miniature Australian Shepherd puppies (aka Miniature American Shepherds) born December 19, 2013.

I bred my black tri, Fancy, to my blue merle male, Swagger, back in October and the excitement has been building for the puppies to be born.  Even though I breed my girls once a year, having a litter of puppies has not become old hat for me.  I get nervous because I love my dogs and would never intend to jeopardize the health of my female for a litter of puppies.  When I’m nervous, I chatter, so I chatted online with friends the last three days as the time I had calculated for the whelping came.  Luckily, I have three really good friends that share my excitement and in some cases, remind me to breathe and relax a bit!!!

Fancy has a very predictable cycle and has had three litters of puppies in mid December from 2011-2013 within three days on the calendar of each other.  After taking her temperature early yesterday morning and it being 98.2, I knew birthing was eminent within 24 hours. However, when she started the normal shaking and quaking about 10 am and then no signs of puppies, I started to stress “a little” and gave my goto whelping vet a call.  She wasn’t concerned and said call her back if no puppies in 24 hours.  Okay.  Well, about 4 pm, Fancy’s water broke, or in dog terms, one water broke which usually indicates a puppy is in the birth canal and you should be seeing a nose or back end within 10 minutes.  Nothing.  She laid down and decided to take a nap while I paced and texted my friends.

So, what did I do, at 4:30 pm I called my vet again and she assured me that things were fine.  Just take a nap and relax.  My husband was making peanut butter balls for some of his friends for Christmas, so I ate a couple, thinking sugar was the perfect medicine.  Six pm passed and 7 was on the clock and no puppy.  Hmmm, the 10 minutes was long gone and I begin to wonder if a little ground hog baby that might have been in that sac of water was laying crossways in the birth canal holding up the train.  Yes, I called the vet again, after hours, and pleaded with her to meet me at the office just to be sure things were okay.  Dr. Ross at PeWee Valley Vet is awesome and I could see her smile on the other end of the line and she told me to meet her there in 15 minutes.

I packed up Fancy into a crate just in case, loaded my warming box for puppies, just in case, and took off.  After an ultrasound on that cool equipment that Dr. Ross has, she told me not to worry, relax, the water I saw was a bag without a puppy that bitches often have.  She said nature has a way of opening the birth canal for the real puppies with that bogus bag of water sometimes.  She also told me to expect puppies within the hour.

8 pm, 9 pm, 10 pm…..no puppies.  Fancy was panting and doing the weird stuff that girls do when they are trying to birth a baby, but no babies.   By then, I was like….come on Fancy, push those pups outta there.  Oh, and I gave her ice cream which I always do when she is whelping because it gives her some sugar for energy, some calcium to help her contractions and helps cool her down from all the panting.

Just before midnight, I woke Paul up from his slumber (haha) and told him to get downstairs because I was seeing a puppy bubble.  Wooohoooo!!!  A bubble with a puppy inside!!!!   And, headed out into the real world!!!

From that point on, Fancy delivered quite naturally and without any kind of issues, five little mini or toy Aussie puppies.  Three of them (all boys) were merles and one black tri girl and one black tri boy.  I remembered the 2012 surprise puppy, so I started to straighten up the gear but I didn’t totally put things away.  I gave my good girl a smooch to tell her thanks for her hard work and walked over to my couch which has its back to the whelping pen to send a couple of emails to tell my friends that all was well.

Five minutes at the max, I walked back over to the bed and saw blood on the pad.  Ah oh, I thought Fancy had done a number on somebody’s belly button since she is a licker and can get pretty wild with her cleaning duties.  I picked up a little black tri and saw it’s button was a little red so I pressed a Quik Stop pad on it.  It was kind of wet and I thought, oh Fancy, you lick too much so I rubbed the puppy a bit with a cloth and stuck her on a nipple to get some milk.  Remember, it is 3 am.

Then, I looked down and what??????  I’m counting six puppies and before there were only five!!!  Fancy, you tricked me again and gave us a surprise puppy.  How did you get that little girl birthed and cleaned up in the time it took me to type a short paragraph email?

So…the night ended about 3 am on December 19 with six gorgeous little puppy dogs.  Swagger is a daddy!!!  Izzy is a grandmother!!!  And, I’m happy to have another sweet litter on the ground on this Full Moon in December 2013.

Dec 092013
 

 

My pooches were starting to make those click click sounds as they run around on the hardwood floors which is a reminder that it is time for their nails to be trimmed…aka doggy pedicure.

I am so fortunate because my pooches aren’t necessarily happy to have their nails clipped, but they don’t hold grudges and will stay still for me.  The trick is that I started them all when they were tiny little furballs and always try to make it a happy occasion with yummy treats afterward.  If you dog is fussier, a muzzle is a good idea and just take it slow.  Once they learn that you aren’t giving in and it really doesn’t hurt, the next time will be easier. A good light is essential and I either put the dog on my grooming table or let them lay in my lap, depending on which gets more cooperation.

There are different tools to use including a Dremel grinder, scissor style clippers or guillotine type.  I do have a grinder and use it some to smooth off the rough edges, but for the most part I use clippers like the ones pictured mostly because it is faster and they have a safety to help gauge how far to cut.  If the nail is a little too sharp on the edges, then I might grind them a bit or let them run around on the concrete driveway!

It is recommended that nails be cut in small increments weekly so the “quick” will move back in their nail and make it less likely to cut too short and cause bleeding.  I can’t say I do the trim that often, but I try to go no more than a couple of weeks.  If you do cut the quick, be prepared for a big bleed that takes awhile to stop.  It does hurt the dog some, but the worst part is keeping them still until the blood clots.  I have stypic pads on hand just in case.

Dog’s nails are either black or white or some of each.  Definitely the white nails are much easier because you can see where the quick starts.  I try to judge how much I cut off the white ones to know where to cut on the black since my dogs have some of each (weird, eh?).

It is very important to keep your dogs nails trimmed whether you do it or pay your vet or groomer to do it.  Long nails make it difficult for the dogs to get traction and actually causes them to be a bit off balance.  If the nails get long enough to turn sideways when the dog walks, it can also be painful for them and or even cause sores on their pads.  No more click clicks in my house today, nails are trimmed and pups are licking their lips from their yummy treat 🙂

Nov 142013
 

Ultrasound for DogsFancy had her ultrasound this morning and Dr. Ross at PeWee Veterinary Hospital saw 5 and perhaps 6 little heartbeats…so puppies are in the oven 🙂  Good job, Swagger Man!!

Some breeders don’t take advantage of an ultrasound, but Dr. Ross has high tech equipment and reproductive veterinary medicine is her specialty so she is my go to vet for breeding and whelping help.  She has been right on the money with my other litters, and I really like knowing if my girl has been bred so I can give her extra special care (as if my dogs aren’t always pampered!!!).

I project the due date based on Fancy’s last litters as December 17-20. 2013.  Fancy and Swagger most likely will have puppies in the 13-15″ range, although there can be exceptions to the rule due to genetics in the dogs behind them.  I know that Fancy carries the gene for “red” which is recessive in Aussies and it will be interesting to see if Swagger also carries it.  No doubt, the probability for black tri and blue merle puppies is high.  Only time will tell…….that is part of the fun!!  Check back in for progress reports.

Join us on Facebook as well!

Nov 022013
 
Blue Merle Toy Aussie

Intl Ch Alangus Blue Swagger

Photo Apr 21, 12 07 56 PM

Intl Ch Cattle Call Fancy Don’t Let Me Down

We are on the countdown from 63 days for Fancy x Swagger puppies.  About midway, I will take her in for an ultrasound to determine how many there are.   Fingers are crossed for puppies around December 17.  I am currently accepting deposits on this litter. If I find Fancy was not bred this cycle, deposits will be refunded.

This will be Fancy’s third litter, Swagger’s first.  Both sire and dam have well known foundation Miniature Aussies in their pedigrees and multiple titled dogs. Even more importantly, Fancy has proven to stamp her puppies with her friendly temperament.  Pedigrees are on my webpage at Swagger and Fancy.

Videos of previous litters are on my Alangus Aussies YouTube Channel and puppy pictures from previous litters have been moved to Facebook.

Oct 172013
 

Vet SymbolAs always, I have strong opinions about choosing a veterinarian just as I am prejudiced when I choose a doctor for my own health.  Luckily, I came to know the half dozen vet clinics in my area with all their strengths and weaknesses during the six years that I owned a pet sitting business.  I had the advantage of recommendations from my clients and had contact with most of the offices as I made rounds to meet the staff or called for meds or advice when I had a sick dog or cat under my care.

When asked by folks, “who do you use as a vet?”, my answer is “it depends on what I need”.  I go to one for teeth cleaning and general health because I just like and trust her, one when I want an alternative to prescription meds because she is trained in Chinese alternative medicine, one for my puppy tail docking because she knows the breed standard and is consistent, another for reproductive issues because that is her expertise and a mobile vet that comes to my house for my puppy wellness checks before they leave my care.  I just realized they are all women…too strange!

However, these guidelines are important to me:

1–Does the vet talk to me?  Do they have time to answer my questions?  It is easy to tell if it is an “in and out” kind of office where number of clients is more important that good relationships.

2–Does the doctor practice good medicine?  Do I trust them?  Do they offer reasons why they are choosing the treatment options?  Do they give me alternatives?

3–Is the vet on call for me off hours or do they only have an answering machine?  In my case, I need a vet that is on call for C-sections in the middle of the night on a weekend for a reasonable price or has advice for a difficult whelp where my bitch is at risk when I call to ask. (Been there)

4–Do they require what I consider unnecessary tests before basic treatment is tried, seemingly to raise my bill?  One of my favorite vets offers me advice on home remedies and holistic methods, often before giving a prescription or in addition to meds.

5–Is the office clean?  No vet’s office is spotless, but clean enough is important.  Sick dogs come and go and I don’t like to take in my healthy dog for shots and risk them coming out diseased.

6–Is the office staff efficient?  It bugs me if the clerks are gossiping or eating lunch at their desk while ignoring folks that are waiting in line.  Even worse is them snickering about clients behind their backs.

7–Is the vet coming to my house helpful?  When I have puppies, it is much easier to pay an extra $25 to have the mobile vet come to me for shots and wellness checks.  Typically, if my older dogs are also due immunizations, we may do that at the same time.

8–Does the vet like my breed and my dog specifically?  And, does my dog like the vet?  Our dogs do not forget a bad experience and luckily, the vets I use both like Mini Aussies and also like my pooches.  The dogs can tell because they are not freaked out when we walk in the door.  Nervous yes, freaked out..no.

9–Is the vet smart about nutrition?  This is another one that is important to me.  Since Science Diet is a sponsor of most veterinary schools, their products are on the shelves for sale.  I also like to see higher quality grain free foods for sale and the doctor knowledgeable about grain allergies and sometimes particular protein intolerance in dogs.  Just a side note, Swagger is doing excellent having eliminated dog food with chicken from his diet.  My general purpose vet noted that on his chart recently and we talked about it at length.  It is not uncommon but sometimes difficult to detect.

10–Does the vet have good techs?  After all, the techs do a lot of the routine work like nurses in our hospitals, so they need to also have expertise at both their jobs and also be good at handling the dog patients.

Pricing is important in our dog’s health care picture, but must be balanced with the quality of the care they receive.  Many issues are preventable by good nutrition and weight management, but when our pets are ill or need routine preventative care, we are responsible for finding a good doctor to treat them.

 

 

Oct 072013
 
photo(16)

Front to back: Rosie, Swagger, Phoebe

One of the fun parts of having that occasional litter of puppies is to stay in contact with the new owners and watch them grow into adults.  Yesterday, Kelley and Mike stopped by on their way back to Nashville and let their little Phoebe have a visit with her brother Swagger and friend Rosie, as well as her doggy mom, Izzy.  They had a good run in the yard, even though the rain was pelting down, and then sat pretty for a treat!!

Phoebe is measured at 13.75″  and weighs  in about 17 pounds at 18 months old.  She is a gorgeous little Aussie with a sweet disposition and pretty bright colors like her brother.  I was happy to see how she has developed.

 Posted by at 5:31 pm
Oct 022013
 

Dog Grooming Tools

I am often asked the question about grooming my dogs and my reply is “seldom”.  I do bathe them to keep them smelling sweet and their hair soft, but I don’t do much in the way of grooming except to keep down the straggles and to get ready for  the show ring in which case I sometimes use a professional groomer.  Aside from the above, I keep my dogs’ nails clipped regularly for a couple of reasons.  First, I have hardwood floors and secondly, long nails are actually a detriment to a dog’s stability on their feet and can even be painful.

I found some neat videos on YouTube to share and I have practiced on my dogs and like the recommended techniques.  The two areas that I try to keep neat are the ears and pantaloons and watching the demonstration made clipping these areas easy.   The videos are in five parts and I am linking to each one.  Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 Posted by at 6:13 pm
Sep 202013
 

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed and it will soon be time for Fancy to be bred for her 2013 puppies.  She has had a nice break from motherhood this year and running the yard with Swagger and Rosie has toned up her muscles so she is nice and trim and healthy at about 22 pounds and will have her 4th birthday in November.

If Fancy is on her usual schedule, she will be bred to Swagger in October for December 2013 puppies.  This will be her third litter, but first for Swagger.  I’m excited to see this cross.  Fancy’s strong points are her nice Aussie conformation and bone and steady and friendly personality.  Swagger is a smaller athletic dog with keen intelligence and has very bright merle colors to add to the mix. Both dogs have been in the show ring for their Int’l Championships as adults and have their health tests.  They are registered NSDR as Miniature Australian Shepherds and AKC FSS as Miniature American Shepherds.

Fancy’s last two litters are on my YouTube channel with a few pictures on the photo gallery page of my website and on the Alangus-Mini-Toy-Aussies Facebook Page .

Lots of folks have inquired about this litter, and I will take deposits as soon as Fancy stands.  The order that I receive deposits is the order that folks pick their puppies.  I like to be sure everyone is healthy before I invite folks in to visit to choose their new playmate so typically wait until about 4-5 weeks.  My puppies are weaned at about 6 weeks so they are ready for a vet check and shots at 7 weeks and are ready to move to their new homes around 8 weeks.

As you can see, my dogs are our house pets and travel partners and I do not have a kennel so having puppies in the house occasionally is a bright spot in my year.

 

Black Tri Australian Shepherd

Intl’l Ch Fancy Don’t Let Me Down of Alangus

 

Blue Merle Toy Aussie

Int’l Ch Alangus Blue Swagger

 Posted by at 3:28 am
Jul 242013
 
Blue Merle Toy Aussie

Alangus Blue Swagger Groomed for the Conformation Show Ring

 

Dog Conformation Judging

Dog Conformation Judging–Show One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brags!!  We returned from the IABCA Show in Atlanta with an Int’l CH title for Swagger!!  This was his first time in the ring and I had no idea how he would perform.  Yes, we had practiced, but practice isn’t the same as the environment of a dog show with dogs, some the size of ponies and some the size of rabbits, milling around and people everywhere surrounded by a cacophony of noises that even made me shutter.  Barking, hair dryers, people cheering…all echoing off the walls. Then, add to that a floor as shiny as a mirror.  Yikes!!

An IABCA dog event spans over two days with four shows, morning and afternoon of each day.  Each show is judged by a different judge and the dogs are rated on their conformation to their breed standard with one chosen as Best of Breed.  An adult dog which receives the necessary points is awarded their title at the end of the two-day event.  Swagger is registered as Miniature, but he is just under the 14″ measurement so he can show as a Toy Australian Shepherd.  He is still young and as a male not totally developed at 18 months old.   As he matures, we will repeat the process to move him up the ranks among his breed competitors.

Admittedly, the first morning I was nervous and so was Swagger and it was not his best performance in the ring.  He hesitated a bit as we made our debut to the conformation show circuit, but thanks to a very kind judge as you see in the picture above, he relaxed and decided he was “just fine”.  On the table, he was a perfect gentleman as he was examined, teeth and private parts included.

By the first afternoon show, it was old hat.  The second morning, I really wondered if he would be anxious in a good way or a bad way as we went back into the building.  Luckily, he was a happy camper and seemed to know exactly what was expected.  By the second afternoon when he circled the ring and then posed himself in the lineup, he had a happy face as our admiring group cheered for him.  Did he understand he was in the spotlight?  He most certainly did!

My dogs love to play and work and conformation showing is just the icing on the cake, but not the end of the story.  It made me very happy that four professional conformation judges gave him accolades for his attitude and structure, but I know under that beauty is my little lapdog when it’s raining and my playmate when it’s sunny!  You just can’t beat that!

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 Posted by at 12:22 am
Jul 082013
 

Link to a quick video from our morning adventure:  Out for a Walk

I like to take Fancy and Ike, my “big” little dogs around the two mile neighborhood loop at least once a day and morning is preferable for their walk.  They think they are out for a hunt and it’s all business to them from start to finish.  After the exercise, their day is much more relaxed as is mine.

I am fortunate to live in an area where we can walk with the dogs safely.  We have leash laws and our Animal Control facility is diligent about picking up loose or lost dogs and helping them to find their way back home, occasionally with a little reprimand for the owners.  Plus, our traffic is minimal and we can make the loop with very few stops if we time it right.

Today my thoughts were totally random, as they typically are, but as we were walking I had my headphones on and had chosen a station on my Iphone from the TuneIn Radio app.  I don’t know why this appeals to me, but I think it is fun to listen to stations from around the country and this morning the call was 96.3 The Wolf. When I kept hearing “Anchorage”, I thought..hmmm…that’s not far from me, maybe 15 miles.  But, when they gave the high temp today as 63, I realized, the music in my ear was being broadcast from Alaska which was a surprise.  Isn’t technology amazing?  I know that is a trite saying, but it really is amazing what information and media we have so easily at our discretion.  The younger generation expects it all to work, the older generation is still amazed that it does.

The pooches and I had a pleasant walk with the sun starting to shine after several days of gray skies summer and rain.  The dogs probably could hear the beat of the country music from my ear buds and we were in step in more ways than just our feet.  They didn’t care that a human + computer thousands of miles away programmed the music itinerary for this morning, but it gave me random food for thought.  Walking for exercise and relaxation is good, life is good and dogs in step make it better.

If you’d like to subscribe to the blog for email notifications, click HERE. Your comments and experiences with your dogs are welcome!

 

 Posted by at 10:05 pm
Jun 082013
 

I have a previous post about doggy diarrhea, but thought I’d pass along my recent experience.  Swagger has been attending doggy daycare a couple of days a week plus training one night a week in agility and to help him get ready to go into the show ring in the near future.  I added that so you’d know he has been out of my home environment a lot lately.  About three weeks ago, he lost his appetite, but I thought it was just because I had a girl in season which isn’t unusual for the little man of the household.  He hasn’t been a hearty eater anyway and was starting to look really thin…not good.

As it always happens, his symptoms of bloody diarrhea and prolific vomiting started to show up on a Saturday afternoon after all the local vets were closed.  I texted one of my contact vets and she didn’t seem concerned and just wanted me to hold food and give Pepcid and Pepto Bismol.  Because I’ve been down this road occasionally, I knew it was more than just an upset stomach but did as she instructed.  Sunday morning and things were much worse overnight.  Poor little buddy was sick…very sick and those sad eyes were asking for help.  Being Sunday….off we go to Blue Pearl, the emergency clinic in our neck of the woods for blood work and to be checked out.  I was seeing $$$ of course.

You guessed it….most likely good ole Giardia!  A quick Google search will give you all the info you need about this stomach bug aka protozoa that is all around and sometimes populates inside our poor doggy’s gut (and ours eeek!) and makes them very sick.  The biggest danger for Swagger was that he was thin at that point and could easily have become dehydrated, which luckily he didn’t.  Giardia is very difficult for a vet to test for because of its life stages, so typically the symptoms tell the story after ruling out something worse like pancreatitis or ingesting a tennis ball!

A diet of boiled chicken and rice along with a 5 day regimen of metronidazole did the trick.  I keep that drug in my stash and could have saved a couple hundred dollars, but you know, it could have been something else and I just didn’t want to risk my little boy.  All’s well that ends well!

Within a few hours, Swagger had his swag back on and was yearning to frisbee and had emptied his food bowl, asking for a second helping.  But metro is an antibiotic, so we all know it’s important to finish the round even if the pup is feeling better.

I put in a call to my breeder friend who is my goto when I have a question and asked her protocol.  She emailed me info that the metronidazole should be followed up with a 3 day round of fenbendazole (Safeguard) in the event the other drug didn’t clear the bad bugs from the system.  I buy Safeguard at Tractor Supply and use for worming my young puppies and also every 3 months with my adult dogs. It had been 3 months so it was time for a round anyway.  Giardia is very contagious, so I dosed everyone as a preventive and also to clear any worms that might be hanging around.  In my case, I had everything I needed for Swagger in my medicine cabinet but given the same symptoms again, I’d most likely make the same call for a vet’s advice.

It’s good to look back and say that was nothing serious and I’ll know next time.  Then the next time, when the symptoms show up, I second guess myself and start to worry that it could be more…and it always could.  I’m pretty confident with my dogs and their glitches and upsets, but never confident enough that I don’t seek a professional when it’s warranted.

 Posted by at 9:38 pm
Mar 152013
 

This is posted with permission of the author. It is the best description of Aussies that I have ever seen and a printed and marked up copy will remind me of my oversights with these intelligent dogs and prompt me to keep working to do better as I bring along puppies to adulthood.

Raising An Australian Shepherd

 Posted by at 11:50 pm
Feb 012013
 

Corky, one of the black tri male puppies from Fancy x Randy litter of December 16, 2012, is still available for a forever home.  At his 7-week old vet check today, he weighed in at 4.6 pounds and is a healthy little boy.  He has a funny and happy personality, not afraid, and ready to play.  Additional info at Alangus Aussies.  Click to enlarge pictures.

Black Tri Miniature American Shepherd MaleBlack Tri Mini Aussie Male PuppyBlack Tri Mini Aussie Male Puppy

 Posted by at 9:15 pm
Jan 172013
 

Today is photo shoot day and luckily, the puppies were fairly cooperative.  I was playing around a bit with my camera with lighting and poses and got some fairly good shots between eating, playtime and naps.  I admit photographing 4-5 week old puppies without someone to assist requires some time and patience.  Let’s just say I had a nice number of “not so good” ones and had to work in short intervals.

The eye color is fairly distinct in these photos with the exception of Shadow and I had him facing the light so his pupils were dilated.  He and Brave both have blue eyes.  It is still possible that Tardy might be partially blue which sometimes happens with merles.  Their eyes carry the same merling pigment as their coats and can be multi-colored.

All but one of these puppies has deposits, and it’s still a mystery who is behind Door #6! I will revise the Blog as folks make their selections.  The excitement is building!!

Fancy x Randy (2012) Miniature Australian Shepherd Puppies 4.5 weeks old

Shadow–Blue Merle Male (Selected)

Blue Merle Miniature Australian Shepherd Male

Corky–Black Tri Male

Black Tri Miniature Australian Shepherd Male

Brave–Blue Merle Female (Selected)

Blue Merle Miniature Australian Shepherd Male

Target–Black Tri Male

Black Tri Miniature Australian Shepherd Male

Tardy–Blue Merle Female

Blue Merle Miniature Australian Shepherd Female

Storm–Black Tri Female

Black Tri Miniature Australian Shepherd Female

 Posted by at 10:52 pm
Dec 312012
 

Fancy x Randy Dec 2012 Litter

Fancy x Randy December 2012 litter of Miniature Australian Shepherds at 2 weeks old.

Left to right: Brave, Target (under), Tardy, Corky (over), Shadow, Storm.

Puppies typically open their eyes and ears at about two weeks old, and these are no exception.  Yesterday, I could see just a glimpse of eyes through the slits and today all but Tardy have them wide open.  By evening or tomorrow, hers will be open as well.  Notice the ears have laid down against the puppy heads since the individual pictures which tells us they are also starting to hear the sounds of their world.

It is amazing the progress puppies make in their first two weeks, from residing in a bubble of embryonic fluid, to testing their legs for wobbly steps, nibbling on their siblings’ ears, and even sometimes a little squeaky bark while dreaming of chasing a future Frisbee.  There’s a world of fun in that POP (pile of puppies) and enough love to make 6 families a lifetime friend!

 Posted by at 9:25 pm
Dec 232012
 

Of course, these puppies will most likely get new names when they go to their forever homes, but we need to identify them and we have a good time giving them nicknames while they spend their first eight weeks with us.

Blue Merle Mini Aussie Puppy–Female

I mentioned Tardy (the puppy born 3 hours late) in my earlier post, but misrepresented “her” as a “him”.  Right now she is the biggest puppy and it will be interesting to see if that continues.  The position in the uterus often determines the amount of nutrients the embryo is getting and she may have just been a mainliner right to her mom giving her a head start…or she may be a bigger adult.  Tardy is a blue merle female with a very nice wide white half collar and split lower face, half white and half merle.

The second bluBlue Merle Mini Aussie Puppy–Femalee merle female has been nicknamed Brave, thanks to our 3 year old granddaughter who recently went to see the movie with her Uncle.  Of course, she wanted all the puppies to have prince and princess names, but we are straying a bit. Brave has bright colors and will be striking.

The darkestBlue Merle Mini Aussie Puppy–Male of the blue merle puppies, Shadow, is a male.  He has a white blaze on his face and white socks, but no collar.  I’m thinking he may be the darker color of his sire when he matures with just a bit less white.

Black Tri Mini Aussie Puppy–MaleOne of the black tri males has a unique marking on his underside.  His white belly has a small black circle in the center, so we’re calling him Target.  He’s a cutie pie with a white blaze on his face.  He was a little grumpy after his tail dock, but was back in good form today.  He has nice symetrical white markings on his face which typically enlarge some as they mature.

The black tri female’s white blaze is in the shape of a lightning symbol so she is now called Storm.  It was pouring Black Tri Mini Aussie Puppy–Femalerain, after all, in the North Carolina valley when the puppies were born so her name is quite appropriate.  She also has split color on her muzzle.

And, last, thereBlack Tri Mini Aussie Puppy–Male‘s Corky!  Right now, he’s the smallest of the puppies, but definitely roots his way right to the milk supply without any problems.  He has a white star on the back of his neck.  There was a little glitch with the tail dock glue and he had to have a quick visit back to the vet.  Can you guess why he is called Corky? All is cleared away now, but the nickname stuck (catch the pun) 🙂

At one week old, the puppies seem to be thriving and I can hardly keep my hands off them.  Their little ears and eyes are shut tight for another week or so, so their world is quiet and dark as they snuggle into their mommy’s soft belly and peep occasionally in their sleep to show their contentment.

Merry Christmas to All!!

 Posted by at 4:59 pm
Dec 212012
 

Here is a candid shot of the Fancy x Randy December 16, 2012 babies after their “de-tailing” (tail docks) at five days old.

Color coding:

  • Blue Merle with white half collar–Female
  • Blue Merle with minimal white–Male
  • Blue Merle, black patches on left top–Female
  • Black Tri with white star on neck–Male
  • Black Tri in front–Female
  • Black Tri in middle acting as pillow–Male

Mini Aussie Puppies  

 Posted by at 6:32 pm
Dec 182012
 

Mini Aussie and litter of puppies

We decided to load up the motorhome and start the trek home to Kentucky from Hilton Head Island on Sunday, December 16 since Fancy seemed to be holding stable.  She had held off, so we had our fingers crossed that perhaps her body was telling her to wait for her own bed and safety zone.

Of course…not to be and as I originally predicted..day 74 from first show, the exact same time interlude as her litter in 2011.  We stopped for the night in Maggie Valley, NC at the base of the Smokey Mountains in the campground we typically use when traveling on I-40, Creekwood Farm RV Park.  It was pouring rain, so luckily we stopped a little early, around 6 pm.  By 8, Fancy was panting and pacing and crying just a little and there was no doubt, it was happening.  I gathered all the supplies and we got ourselves set to help her and for an all-night stint.  Why is it that it always starts just at bedtime?

At 9:15, the first puppy appeared and struggled a bit to finish its  entry into the world.  We cut the cord and helped it along and found the reason it was hanging back was that two puppies were trying to come down the chute at the same time.  Oops, one at a time please!  Things progressed well, with just a few glitches, but nothing serious.  By 2 am, we had 5 puppies and since the ultra sound had shown 5 heartbeats, our sigh of relief could be heard through the valley.  We straightened up the supplies and Paul went to bed and I stayed on the couch so I could monitor.  At about 4 am, the babies were squeaking a bit and I woke from my coma to check on them and found another baby entering the world.  Oh My!!!  The little blue merle boy was the biggest of the lot and ready for milk right now, or yesterday even!  Paul says this one should be named “Tardy” 🙂  We ended the night with 3 girls and 3 boys, 3 black tris and 3 blue merles.

Because I’m one to try to be as prepared as possible, I had already gathered vet info for the area and set my alarm for 730 am.  I wasn’t sure the last placenta delivered and Fancy hadn’t totally settled as mamas usually do after whelping, so I called a local vet office to ask about an Oxytocin clean out shot for her. My local vet felt like I shouldn’t risk waiting just in case because of the possibility of infection or even another puppy.  Dr. Gibson at Animal Hospital of Waynesville was so helpful and worked us into her schedule for the morning, something a lot of veterinarians just won’t do, especially for a traveler that will probably never be back.  X-rays and an exam didn’t indicate problems, but we opted for the clean out shot and a round of antibiotics.  We then loaded up to continue our ride back toward LaGrange Kentucky.

The shot gave Fancy a little discomfort because just like a similar drug for laboring people, it “induced” contractions to push out any residue that might need to be released.  Within the hour, she was obviously feeling better and laid down quietly to snuggle her new family.  The puppies had already nursed non stop for 12 hours and their little flat bellies had  rounded out and little squeaks of content could be heard on occasion.

I can’t help but interject Paul and my discussion here as we drove down the road with mama and 6 sweet little Mini Aussie puppies.  The production of a new living being is a miraculous event whether it be an animal or our more precious skin children.  There is just no way it could be a random freak of nature coming about with so much precision and in such a complicated way.

Fancy is a wonderful mom to her babies and once settled into her x-pen in our sun room, she is just relaxing and making milk to feed six hungry little mouths. We had a very nice vacation with our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren and our “fancy girl” but coming home is always sweet.  We had missed our pooches left behind with the petsitter on this trip.

Stay tuned for updates on these puppies!  Additional info can be found at my website www.alangusaussies.com.

 Posted by at 5:18 pm
Nov 252012
 

 Fancyheart.jpgRandy

It’s almost time for Santa to deliver some puppies to Alangus Aussies!  Fancy had her ultrasound November 14, 2012 and the doctor counted five heartbeats thump thumping on the monitor.  Due date is around December 17.

Fancy is bred once again to RB’s Wee Randy da Rebel who sired her litter in 2011.  They made some happy and healthy puppies who have developed into friendly and beautiful little Aussies, one of which is my Derby Rose aka Rosie.

For additional info, visit us at alangusaussies.com

 Posted by at 6:29 pm
Nov 162012
 

As with  all of you, life happens, and I have been busy, too busy to do much formal training with my dogs other than puppy classes in the last year or so.  I’ve gotten rusty, and so have they.

Determined to get back into the circuit, I registered Izzy, my prima donna, for an advanced obedience class which started last night.  Izzy has not been in class for a couple of years during which time she has given us two nice litters of puppies.  She has now been spayed so it is time to let her shine once again.  Every household has a dog that is the “straight A” student, and Izzy is ours.  She is so in tune, it is pretty impressive and she LOVES to work.

I have as a goal to ready her to go into the competitive obedience ring at some point. Since we are a partnership, I have to fine tune my skills while she does the same.  I have found that I can obviously practice at home, but the training class setting is important.  Izzy struggles with her confidence around boisterous dogs and animated people and tends to over react to “scare” them away.  Because of that personality trait, the time among the other dogs is very very important for her.  As she works, she zeros in on me and forgets all the chaos around her.

The biggest obstacle to attending class is drive time for me, but I am very happy with the trainers and nice facility at Almost Home Training in Louisville, KY.  I like to understudy those that have had competitive experience because they have an edge over those that have not been in the ring because they haven’t just read the books, they’ve done it themselves.

If you haven’t taken your dogs to training classes, you’ll find it is addictive and the pride you feel when your dog accomplishes a new skill is just plain fun.

 Posted by at 1:41 am
Oct 062012
 

Phoebe 6 months oldAddie Catching Frisbee

Phoebe is relaxing with her nose in mommy’s shoe and Addie is putting the move on the flying disc.  Both are 6 months old and showing that little Aussies love to play, but also know how to chill when the time is right.

These two pictures are of the girls from Izzy’s April 2012 litter.  I have discussed the “puppy uglies” where the babies lose their fat little faces and tummies and puppy fur and grow long legs and out of proportion bodies.  At about 6 months old, everything starts to catch up.  Adult fur comes in along with those last canine teeth and bodies start to fill out with some bulk, catching up to the appendages. Those of us that have hidden our adolescent dogs away for a couple of months or tried to explain to gawkers why they are  scraggly can now start to take pictures and show them off again.  It only gets better from here! Puppies continue to develop past their first birthday although smaller dogs get their growth sooner than large breeds.

If you are interested in Addie’s ability to fly high and catch the Frisbee, post a comment or question and her owner can explain his methodology to get her to this point so young.

 Posted by at 8:39 pm
Sep 132012
 

Izzy, our blue merle mini Aussie just turned four last week and has given us two very nice litters of puppies. However, she struggles to whelp and when her last litter had to be taken by C-section, I determined to have her spayed after her recovery period of a few months. The vet that performed the section did not advocate a spay during delivery because of the risk of bleeding and extra stress on her with nursing babies.  Our dogs are first and foremost our companions.

Izzy had the normal pre-op fast and she went in early in the morning for her surgery so she would have the day to recover before closing time. I chose to have the additional blood work done to ensure her safety and also to have pain meds administered. The vet I used called me after blood work and again at the end of the surgery because she knows I’m a worrier. Izzy did great with no complications during the procedure to remove both her ovaries and uterus.  My vet is a traditionalist although she does use glue in lieu of sutures that have to be removed.  I know in some clinics, laser procedures are being done and I read it speeds recovery time.

Because I’m relatively dog smart, the doc sent her home to my care by noon instead of keeping her the full day. She was still groggy and glassy eyed, but walked out on her own steam. When we got home, I gave her the chance to get a little drink and then I put her in her crate away from my other dogs to sleep it off. I withheld food and water to prevent her getting sick.

By late afternoon, she was ready for a small meal and a drink. I took her out to potty and then back to her safe place. She was still feeling sleepy. I remembered  that she had had antibiotics so I gave her some probiotics to help her stomach flora stay balanced. The evening came and went and she slept all night in her crate by our bed. By morning, she was her tail waggin, bebopping self.  I continued to walk her on leash and limit her jumping for another couple of days, but by day 3, I just let her be.  Her 1-1/2″ incision looked good and she was not licking or bothering it at all.  My vet did not mention her wearing a cone, although I know some do.  In her case, it was not necessary.

I have to admit that I’m sad to know that Izzy will not be able to produce any more babies, but I do have Swagger as her progeny and to keep her intelligent bloodline. I’m sure she will continue to help me train any new puppies that come along.  She has a way with them to teach them manners without intimidation.

It is advisable to have your dog spayed or neutered unless you intend to breed them, and then only if you understand all the ramifications of a breeding program.  Having a female dog in heat is quite a nuisance for 3 weeks about every 6 months and unplanned litters are nothing to scoff at.  All the females I have owned over my 40 years of having dogs have been spayed except for the two that I will now be breeding, Fancy and Rosie.  Recovery time is minimal as is the expense, even for worriers like me.

 Posted by at 8:16 pm
Sep 012012
 

Happy Labor Day weekend!  It is difficult to travel and leave your fur friends behind and it’s equally difficult to decide who will care for them.  Since I retired from my teaching job in 2007, I have operated a pet sitting business called Puppy Luv Pet Sitters LLC in my local area to provide loving care to the pets that my clients can’t take on vacation with them.

I am definitely not anti-boarding facility, but you know your dog and I know mine.  My pups would go absolutely crazy and be majorly freaked out in a place where the other dogs were barking non stop and the cats meowing at the top of their lungs.  In fact, many dogs are so stressed, they come home sick from any variety of problems.

This is where hiring a local and qualified pet sitter might be your answer. If you check references, ask about insurance and talk with your prospective pet sitter before hiring them, you are most likely to have a good experience.  You can find professional pet sitters who are serious about their business by searching www.petsit.com or www.petsits.com using your zip code.  Most reputable pet sitters will have websites as well.

There are reasons we don’t ask our neighbors and family or the neighborhood teenager to care for our dogs while we travel.  Firstly, our neighbors, while being super nice people, just don’t want to be up at 6-7 am to let our dogs out and then back during the day and late evening.  They might graciously do the tasks for a day, but over a long period of time, you may find they no longer answer your phone calls.

Family members who know our dogs are also candidates for pet care, but many have jobs and often do not live nearby.  In addition, they may not quite be on the “same page” as you with your animals and it’s a sad story when you have boarded your dog or dogs at a parent or sister’s house and they accidentally let the dog get out to be lost in a neighborhood where they are not familiar.  I personally have witnessed that happening a couple of times when I was walking a client’s dog and saw distressed family members searching for their daughter’s dog who had “run” from fear.  Both times, I had this sinking feeling that they just might not be found 🙁

As an adult that has raised two children to adulthood, I just couldn’t leave my house key with even the most responsible teenager or even college age young person.  The liability of an empty house and teenagers isn’t something listed on my homeowner’s policy!  After all, I was a high school and junior college teacher for 28 years so I do know something about the youth psyche and good judgement isn’t always top of the list.

Taking your dogs along is always the best answer when it’s possible, but if you must leave them home when you go on vacation, consider using a pet sitter.  The dogs will be comfy in their own beds, eating from their own bowls and because they do not have the sense of time of humans, when you come home….they’ll think you’ve just been to work!

 Posted by at 6:15 pm
Aug 292012
 

Because my mini Aussies are Frisbee fanatics, I’m often asked how to teach them the sport so this is a general guideline from simple to complex.

To begin, not all dogs have the same drive to retrieve, but you know your dog and if they like to carry socks around or stuffed animals and will bring them to you..that’s all the “talent” they need to learn to play Frisbee.  Some are speedier and have fancier moves, but just a go out, pick up a frisbee and return it is all the skill needed for you to exercise your dog while you watch 🙂

1  The first step is to teach your puppy to “get it” with any kind of toy. With puppies, I usually start with a stuffed toy that they love or a little ball.  I jiggle it over their heads or around to get them really excited, toss it just a little distance where I can still reach it and happily say “get it” and encourage them to return it to you.  This is a fun little game for puppies and yes, they may run the other way, but when they do bring it within reach, take it and give lots of praise when they “drop” or “give it”.   I do this often with puppies and with different objects so they have different textures in their mouth.  I do have a very small rubbery and fabric “disc” that I use for this  inside game along the way.  The key is inside where you have control of the object.  Reminder, do NOT give chase if they go the other way because you are reinforcing a behavior that you don’t want.   Praise when they come near you and will let you have it or tug with it and essentially ignore when they don’t.  When you start, you may want to be in a small room like a laundry or bathroom, where they don’t have far to go.

2 Once you have the “get it” and  “drop” going well, you can move to a bigger room, longer distance, but not outside yet.  Stay with their favorite ball and soft toys for awhile adding the little rubber disc.  Make “get it” the most exciting thing they’ve ever done.  Lots of praise and use only a fun voice.  Switch up on the toys so they learn that “get it” applies to lots of different things.

3 Now, it’s time to move outside with the small rubber disc. I keep a 20 feet piece of light clothesline with a clip on the end for recall and for practicing frisbee. I attach the line to the puppy’s collar and tie it to my belt or my leg.  I use my most excited voice ever and get the dog all “revved” up before I toss the little rubber frisbee no more than 5-6 feet from me and then say “get it”.  As soon as the puppy picks it up (and you can rub a little peanut butter on it), I happily reel him in and take it.  Treat time!!!

4  Practice with the line on and lengthen the distance, eventually just letting the puppy drag the line.  If he goes the other way, absolutely do not reprimand, but just step on the line and reel him in with LOTS of praise.

5  When dependable to return the disc, take the line off and practice some more.  Your attitude and voice must make it the most fun thing on the planet to grab that little piece of soft plastic and bring it back to you.  If you have skipped to this step and haven’t gone through the first ones, you most likely will have a dog that will grab the little frisbee and take off.  If this happens, back to step 1.

6 As the dog grows, so can the size of the disc.  However, don’t be chintzy and buy the hard plastic ones out of the dollar bin because they can break your dog’s teeth.  Go with a softer disc meant for dogs available at www.skyhounz.com.  I start my dogs on the “puppy” ones and move them up as they get more proficient.

7  Next question is how do I get the dog to catch it?  If you have built their excitement and worked their drive, this isn’t a hard step.  I jiggle the frisbee above their heads and get them really excited, then I hold it just slightly above their eye level, and do a pretend very low slow toss and instead of letting the frisbee go, I kind of let them run into it with their mouth to simulate a catch.  Gradually, I do this step faster and higher so they get the feel of the impact of it going in their mouth. As I practice, they get the idea and their little feet will leave the ground.  Woohooo!  At the end of this step, visualize a little child holding their arms out and turning circles, except it’s me holding a disc and the dog following the disc with his eyes and simulating a catch.

8 All things in life take practice.  Your dog will not have good precision or timing at first when you have them go out to get the flying frisbee.  The tosses need to be as near their eye level and at a speed that they almost run into the frisbee. On one perfect toss, the dog will get it just right and do a catch!!! Bring out the sparklers!!!  Hooray!!!!  Good dog.

9 Fast forward to days, weeks or even months of your dog just picking up a rolling frisbee and returning it to you, then retrieving a tossed frisbee with an occasional catch when the timing is just right, to doing a smooth jump to snatch the disc out of the air almost every time.  Two things have happened.  You have learned to toss a frisbee that is catchable and your dog has timed himself to be there just at the right time with the right lift to catch it.  This is when the fun begins!  How long does it take?  My dogs start to run out and catch a “perfect” toss by the time they’re 9 months to a year old.  Once they get their confidence and coordination, then you can start with really long and high fliers.

10  Most importantly, you must make this exciting and not give up. Some dogs learn very quickly, some over a longer period of time and those Basset Hounds are just not built for this task.  Consider your dog and his body style.  Herding dogs and retrievers are born to Frisbee!!  Do be sure to check out Disc Dog Competition videos on YouTube and check with your local training centers for competitions to watch. Have fun!

 Posted by at 2:05 pm
Aug 232012
 

Black Tri Miniature American Shepherd Females

Check out the resemblance of Fancy and two of her daughters, Rosie and Nika. Fancy is the larger of the three with the full white bib.  Rosie is the red tri female, which was my keeper from her 2011 litter. Fancy is registered with National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR) as a Miniature Australian Shepherd and American Kennel Club (AKC) as a Miniature American Shepherd. I wanted to get some candids while Nika is visiting us this week.

Since Fancy is a black tri female, it was not obvious until she whelped Rosie if she carried the “red” gene.  In order to have red puppies, both the dam and the sire must be red factored and black is always dominant in this breed.  If one parent is merle, then that opens up the crayon box!  A blue merle puppy is a black tri dog carrying the merle gene and a red merle puppy is a red tri dog with the merle gene.  Detailed information is available online for the correct genetic terminology.

This means that genetically Fancy, a black tri female that is red factored and Randy, a blue merle male that is red factored can produce any of the colors. We’ll see what we get this Fall in the 2012 litter!!

 Posted by at 11:15 pm
Aug 232012
 

 Mini Aussie Puppy with Swim Vest

Bentley, another of the puppies from the Fancy x Randy litter of 2011 is probably the smallest so far of that group.  He left Kentucky to travel north toward the Great Lakes and his little flotation device keeps him safe in the big water.  What a cutie!!  It would be hard not to snuggle that little man 🙂

Contrary to what folks often think, dogs do not necessarily swim naturally.  They have the instinct but must be comfortable in the water or fear will do the same thing to them as to us, panic and drowning. In addition, they can misjudge their distance if they are playing and get exhausted before they can make it to shore. When introducing dogs to the pool or lake, it is best to be safe by having them wear a vest and to teach them to be comfortable by always showing them where to “exit”, either on the stairs of a pool or the shore. All those laps on the swim team build confidence and style, all those doggy paddles do the same.

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Aug 222012
 

Nika from Fancy & Randy’s 2011 litter boarded with us this past week.  Like the other siblings that I’ve posted pictures of, she is a model Mini Aussie and could walk right into the show ring and turn heads.

This litter at 9 months has a range of sizes which is typical of the breed.  Remember, these dogs have been bred down from the full-size model so genetics come into play with weight and height, just like it does with humans.  I can predict adult size at 8 weeks old, but absolutely no guarantees.Technically, Mini Aussies (Mini American Shepherds)  are 13-18″ at the withers.  If smaller, they show as a Toy Aussie and if taller, a Standard.

When Nika came in with her family, she was greeted by Rosie and Swagger, the two young ones.  As is always the case when dogs greet, there was lots of sniffing and head turning, but because all three were puppies, it didn’t take long for them to determine there was no threat.  At that age status doesn’t factor as highly and playtime is the preference.

Nika’s owners asked if Fancy would remember her puppy so I brought her downstairs to visit.  It was obvious that even if she remembered, rank was more important to her as an adult dog.  Nika, coming from an only dog home, hadn’t mastered the “don’t stare” rule of dog language so Fancy raised her lip at her to let her know that her forwardness wasn’t appropriate.  Fancy also mounted her as an indication that she was higher status, at least at this point in their “conversation”. Did she remember?  Hard to tell, but definitely if she did, it was not important.  Nature’s way.

As the day passed, I introduced her to the other dogs in the pack one at a time.  Ike saw no challenge to his leadership from a young female, so after some sniffing and asking Nika in his way to show submission,  that was that.  Izzy, the dominant female, is typically welcome to other young dogs as was the case again this time.  Nika got with the program and rolled on her back and offered her belly to Izzy to indicate that she was no threat to the pack order.

Once everyone had been introduced individually, it was time to let her be with the whole pack.  No problems and Nika now better understands how to merge into a group of dogs peacefully.

As the week progressed, the dynamics of the six dogs was interesting to watch and my husband and I observed very clearly the order of ranking.  First of all, sexually immature  puppies like Swagger, typically don’t figure much into the mix because they are not big enough to eat at the big table.  What did happen, however, is that Fancy, my lowest ranking adult, tried to elevate herself by showing dominance over Nika, not with aggression but with her body language of standing over her.  When she took that position, Izzy came in from the fringes (always watching) and would stand on her tiptoes and give Fancy the evil eye.  That’s all it would take to let Fancy know…too bad, you are just who are and rank hasn’t changed.

The most interesting event that made it very clear who was number 1 and 2 occurred when Fancy was playing with Nika and we heard a little squeak from Nika.  Ike dashed over pronto to check on the situation in his quiet benevolent way to show he’s the “man”  in this house and he doesn’t tolerate any rowdiness between his underlings.  Almost at the same time, Izzy came over and did her stance just in case.  You can’t help but smile at how they keep peace.  World order would be less destructive if humans would acquiesce as easily.

It was nice to see how one of my puppies has developed and reminded me once again that the ones coming from my lines are turning into very nice dogs, both in looks and personality.

 Posted by at 9:25 pm
Aug 222012
 

Male black tri Miniature American Shepherd

G’day, what a handsome bloke you’ve become!  Ozwald aka Oz was one of two male puppies from Fancy and Randy’s 2011 litter, and Rosie’s “big” brother.

His striking feature to me is his symmetrical coloration on his face, tan points above his eyes and blonde rather than the darker red on his face.  Very nice conformation ears for a Mini Aussie and full coat even at 9 months makes him showy. This boy is put together very nicely.

And congratulations to his skin parents on their engagement!

 Posted by at 9:15 pm