Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oakland Police Shoot Labrador

So here's one that just makes no sense all the way around.

Oakland police shot an 11 year-old Labrador named Gloria while responding to a burglar alarm at the property.

This lady leaves her house to go somewhere, leaves the back door open for the dog to go in and out and then sets the burglar alarm.  

Err.  Does it surprise anyone that in going in and out of the house, the dog set off the alarm?  What is the point of the setting the alarm if you're leaving a door wide open?  What is the point of setting the alarm while fully aware that you're leaving a door open for something to go in and out of it while you're not home?

One has to wonder if this is the first time she'd done that, and if not, how many false alarms the police had responded to at that location in the past.  (And if there is a history here of false alarms because of the dog going in and out while the alarm was set, this story gets a whole new twist, because the police would be familiar with the dog, but this is all just conjecture at this point.)

So whatever, she did what she did and the police came and according to them, Gloria barked and growled at them so they shot her.

Now.  I'm going to say right here and now that not everyone is a dog person.  Not everyone can tell the difference between a happy-to-see-someone bark and a get-the-hell-out bark.  To some people, the two sound and look exactly the same.  To some people, both are terrifying even if they're coming out of a 2 pound Chihuahua.  Not everyone can identify dog breeds.  Labs are pretty common, but I've had people ask me if my Sainted Labrador was a pit bull.  (lolwhut?  True story.)

But I think just about everyone can tell the hobble of an elderly arthritic being, even a dog.  She was 11 and already had hip issues, something my Sainted Labrador didn't develop until he was nearly 16.  I don't know how well she could ambulate, but I'm guessing it wasn't very well.

How threatened could you really feel by an animal that clearly has locomotion problems?

The family is being really nice about the whole thing, considering.  Nobody is screaming police brutality, and the authorities immediately apologized to the family.  Except the cop who shot the dog didn't.  And I agree with them, it would be nice if the guy who actually squeezed the trigger said, "Hey, I effed that one up.  I'm really sorry."

This comes only about 3 months after police at the same department shot and killed a deer that jumped over a backyard fence.  Trigger happy much?  You'd think these people had never seen animals before the way they react to them.

I think this was completely unnecessary, and wonky as hell.  Someone in Oakland needs to tone down the if-it-moves-shoot-it police training regime.

Saving Lucky The Dog - How Hard Can It Be?

So there's this dog named Lucky, right?  He used to stay in his owner's backyard, but then the next-door neighbor complained about his barking.  So Lucky's owner locked him in the basement.

For four years.

Two months ago, the owner who decided Lucky should live in a basement left town.  So sometimes, her ex-husband opens a door to the basement, tosses some food in, and closes it again.

Lucky's life doesn't seem to reflect his name very much.

I mean, I guess it's lucky that after four years of this nonsense, the local dog authorities are finally going to do something about it.

What was the first thing they wanted to do?  Offer dog training classes to the guy who every once in awhile tosses some food in the basement door.


WTF King County Animal Services?  That's the best you can do?  Really?

Clearly this man has no interest in Lucky.  I don't think he really gives a shit if the dog gets trained or not.  I can guarantee you he's not ever going to bother himself about training Lucky.

The authorities claim that since in that part of Washington State, apparently, the law says that animal cruelty is only depriving an animal of food or water, and the ex-husband is not doing that, their hands are tied.

I CALL SHENANIGANS.  You can't tell me if someone is seen beating a dog with a 2x4 the authorities stand around with their thumbs up their asses saying, "Well, we can offer them dog training classes, but since they're feeding it, that's about all we can do.."


Lucky's situation is beyond pathetic.  He has no contact with dogs or people, he has no stimulation, and he runs around all day dragging a leash in a cluttered basement wallowing in his own excrement.  If that's not neglect and neglect isn't animal cruelty, then what the hell do you people do all day?

I don't see why the ex-husband needs to be wheedled out of the dog, either.  What perverse motivation does he have for not giving Lucky up as soon as anyone took an interest in him?  I think I know what everyone's opinion is going to be of Ex-Husband, whose name is not mentioned (probably to avoid lynch mobs) by the papers.  Anyone who lets a dog live like that is just wrong in the head.  Wrong wrong wrong.

But really, how hard can it be.  Why are they bothering to try and negotiate with this whack job?  Just put the evidence in front of a judge, get a search warrant, go in, get Lucky, and call it a job well done.

And the next time someone calls and complains about a dog living in the basement, don't let it drag on for four years.  For crying out loud.

P.S. - Someone needs to get on changing the animal cruelty laws in that county.  Like, yesterday.

Procter & Gamble buy Natura Pet Products

In case you haven't already heard the terrible news, it's true.  Procter & Gamble, maker of Iams/Eukanuba, bought Natura Pet Products, maker of Innova, California Natural, Evo, Karma and Healthwise.

I remember what happened when P&G bought Eukanuba and it wasn't pretty.  Quality ingredients being replaced by inferior ingredients, completely unnecessary chemicals and crap kept getting added to the food, the price kept going up and the bag size kept going down.  (Psst - P&G!  Maybe if you stopped changing the bag art every 5 months, you could save your customers some money.)  In one of the shiestiest moves I've ever seen a pet food company make in the 11 or so years I've been doing this, the first thing P&G did upon acquiring Eukanuba was to fart around with the ingredients and formula - without listing the changes on the bags.  They wreaked havoc on so many canine GI tracts.  It was pretty uncool of them.

P&G has been trying to snag the "organic, all natural, holistic" dog food market for years and has been meeting with Epic Fail at every attempt.  They came out with the Naturally Wild product line.  That tanked so hard I almost felt embarrassed for the Eukanuba rep when I saw him coming to pick up almost our entire order of it after it all expired.  Then they decided to try again with Pure.  I think that's doing a little better, but now three production plants are out of commission due to being tainted with Salmonella bacteria, Pure has been gone from our shelves for most of the summer and P&G has lost many of what few holistic customers they had to other brands.

Facing so much Hardcore Fail, P&G decided to muscle it's way into the holistic market by buying an already established brand.  Innova and California Natural have been cornerstones of the holistic market since the beginning of holistic pet foods.  People love that brand.  Really, they love it.  A lot of those people are heartbroken (I've heard that exact word used when discussing this) about P&G buying Natura Pet Products.  They feel like they're losing a trusted brand.

And that's what P&G's whole problem has been this entire time.  People don't trust Procter & Gamble.  They don't trust that a company that exploits dogs to make dog food with the dog's best interest in mind.  They don't trust a company that has already proven it's untrustworthiness by switching formulas without letting anyone know about the switch, thereby sickening a lot of dogs.  And they've just gotten it so horribly wrong in the past when trying to make their own holistic formulas, I don't think any savvy consumed honestly believes they're going to leave the Natura formulas alone.  The news is out and people are expecting the worst.  After working in the pet industry for 11 years now, I think they're right to expect the worst.  P&G does not have the best track record of upholding quality or company integrity as far as dog foods are concerned.

I never recommend Iams and especially not Eukanuba.  Once upon a time Eukanuba was a great food.  That time is over now.

They couldn't PAY me to feed any of their brands to my dog.  That now includes California Natural, Innova, Evo, Karma, and Healthwise.

What others are saying:

Business Week

Veterinary Practice News  Check the comments.  So much for being able to buy your way into the club.

It's a real cool club.. and you're not part of it!  STILL.  Nice try on that one though.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crazy Day

Today was a crazy day.

My SO's stepsister met me at the store with some vaccines she ordered on-line for her rescued puppy.  So I shot stuff up his nose, poked him with a needle, and cut off all his nails.  I swear, dogs are never sure if they should be happy to see me or not.  I see and understand more doggy body language than most people, and that makes them happy.  I usually have something good or fun on me somewhere, and that's just great.  But every once in awhile I do terrible things like cut their nails, stick swabs in their ears, shoot liquid up their noses or stick them with sharp pointy things, and that's not so fun.  I can see the indecision on my mom's dog's face every time I come over.  Do I run and greet her or do I run behind the couch and hide?  Should I be excited or nervous?  Hopefully the next time I see Lil' Dude I won't have anything to do to him besides nice things, and he'll forgive me.

Immediately after that, some people who had put a puppy on hold yesterday were in the store to purchase him, so I sold a puppy.  That usually takes, for me, about 45 minutes to go over all the warranties, explain vaccine histories and all that good stuff.  By the time I got back to feed the puppies, it was already 10:00 a.m.  They were not pleased with this turn of events, I could tell.  The morning chorus was frenzied, and that takes some doing considering there were only 7 dogs in the kennel at that point.  Halfway through the feeding routine, the owner let me know that 15 puppies were due to arrive "any minute now."  I had to rush to finish feeding and watering and then rush to put together 15 kennels and give them one last spray over with Lysol.  I managed to spray myself in the face with Lysol.  Twice.  (It tastes sweet.)

Then, new puppies.  One of the managers stuck her head back in the kennel door to tell me they were here.  Kay.  So I go out back and was shocked to see that the puppies were just loose in the back of this guy's van.
Oh yeah, and there's 18, not 15.  WTF.  Usually, he has them all in individual crates.

What happened is that they had accidentally delivered the puppies to the OTHER store.  The OTHER store is a  blog post in and of itself.  Suffice it to say that we at our store do not like the OTHER store.  As Dr. W. put it, "You definitely have different ways of doing things."  They somehow managed to get ALL the puppies out of their cages, which meant they were probably in the OTHER store's nasty kennels, and had time for this guy to get all his kennels broken down for the trip back home (for all I know he had left and had to turn around and come back) before someone there realized.. hey.  These aren't our puppies.


Way to drop the ball on that one, thanks.

And, as the puppy broker man said, "There was no way I was putting all those kennels back together after I'd broken them all down."

Well who's going to put you back together after I break you down, that's what I want to know.

Texts between me & Dr. W. starting at 10:20 a.m., which was right as I was informed that puppies were due at the store "any minute."

Me:  15 puppies arriving today 10:20 a.m.
Me:  Make that 18.  18 pups running loose in the back of the guy's van & 15 min after they've gotten here, I hear coughing.  11:21 a.m.
Me:  I'm going to murder someone.  I know it.  11:25 a.m.
Dr W:  No murdering.  :~) 12:25 p.m.

I have spent a month.. no lie, an ENTIRE FRICKIN' MONTH, eradicating the kennel cough scourge that affected probably a good 25 or 30 dogs.

I cleaned the kennel top to bottom.  I used every kind of disinfectant we have, some of them twice. I scrubbed walls, floors, nooks, crannies and ceilings.  I went through 3 cases of latex gloves, three bottles of clavamox suspension, a quarter of a case of clavamox 62.5 mg tablets and a half a bottle of doxycycline.

And they just exposed all 18 of our new puppies to not only whatever is in the OTHER store, but kennel cough.

OMFG Yes, murder!

So the entire time I'm giving Progard KC to every new dog, I just have this huge sense of FAIL.  Not that it's my fault, but I feel really stupid giving a bunch of dogs a kennel cough vaccine after they've already been exposed.  WTH is that going to do?  At that point it's just a really expensive Neti Pot.  But, that's what the owner wants.  Not my store.  I have to tell myself this a lot when something makes no sense.  Not my money, not my store.

I still want to pound that guy into the floor, though.  The puppy broker guy, not the owner.  I mean wth dude.  Yeah I'm sure it would have been a pain in the ass to put 18 Vari Kennels back together after you just took them apart.  Frustrating, yes.

But what about the pain in the ass I'm about to get because you didn't?


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Throwing Onions At Cesar Millan

My Shiba was just over a year old when he bit someone for the first (and so far only) time.  We had this cable just off of our ground floor unit apartment because he's a submissive urinator and it was easier to put him out on the cable and let him jump and pee and greet and pee and jump to his heart's content than to let him greet people inside.  Kitsune was on the cable at the time (they aren't kidding when they say dogs that are not able to flee are more likely to bite).  Our next door neighbor at the time was an Air Force air traffic controller.  He was a big tall guy with a booming voice and military bearing, all things that made my Shiba mistrustful.   His point of view was, this guy is big, loud, and acts like he's in charge.  Not cool.

Predictably, my very vocal Shiba started warning the neighbor by barking at him.  It was the rapid fire machine-gun bark that says, "Hey!  Hey!  See me?  I'm a dog!  I see you, so you stay over there and don't try anything funny!"

The neighbor kept trying to placate Kitsune by talking to him and reaching down at him, all things that just made Kitsune more convinced this guy was no good.  I told the neighbor to just ignore him, and he'd settle down faster.  But for some reason, this guy, instead of ignoring the dog, tries to pick him up.  He put both hands on the dog at the shoulder and in a flash, Kitsune had bitten him in the fatty part of his palm, just under his thumb.  Both hands.  Both bites were deep.

And being me, instead of apologizing, I said, "What the hell did you do that for?"  I mean, geez.  I told the guy to leave the dog alone.  It's not my fault or the dog's that he ignored good advice and did exactly what he shouldn't have.  I'm not about to apologize to him for his own idiocy.  I was also really irritated that he had just taught my dog two lessons I would have preferred he never learn:  That big, loud guys with dominant body language really ARE up to no good, and that biting achieves a positive result in a scary situation.  In fact to this day, four years later, he flips his shit at any man over 5'11", which is about the height of my SO.

His reply?  "I saw Cesar Millan do it once."

And while I didn't say it, I thought, "Well that makes the both of you idiots."  Apparently, he was trying some technique he had seen on The Dog Whisperer called "helicoptering."  Basically you pick the dog up, swing it around your head, and put it back down.  Somehow, this is supposed to make the dog respect you because now it knows you can throw it around or something.  I don't see how it does anything but scare a dog to death, but it does seem to be very good at provoking bites.  Variants of this maneuver on-leash with the use of choke collars (which by the way, is how it is SUPPOSED to be done, with a choke chain) have caused serious injury to many dogs including fractured legs, broken necks, and collapsed tracheas.

That's just a sample of the brutal things Cesar Millan supports.  He also uses a technique called "flooding" where a dog is forced into a situation that scares the bejeezus out of it, so it can just "get over it."  Sounds like another prime way to get bitten, to me.  Also sounds like a great way to scar a dog for life.

Millan calls his way "tough love."  I see that he mostly just leaves out the love.  Even after he made a terrified Great Dane puppy stand on a shiny floor, and the dog finally took one tentative step, he never praised the dog.  He never tried to reassure the dog.  He just wanted to completely dominate the dog, and the dog's fears.  His methods are based entirely on negative experiences, never on the positive.  The experiences the dogs have with Cesar are never enjoyable.

Other professional opinions on Cesar's Way:

"Well, that certainly is not a commonly accepted practice of educated canine behavior consultants."  - Lynn Hoover, president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

"Yes, we have serious concerns [about Millan's training methods].  Many of the techniques shown on television are very difficult for owners to accomplish and may result in serious injury to themselves or their dogs and neither are they the more updated training techniques that are now used."  -  Debra Horowitz, president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

"Cesar Millan's methods are based on flooding and punishment.  The results, though immediate, are transitory.  His methods are misguided, outdated, in some cases dangerous, and often inhumane.  You would not want to be a dog under his sphere of influence.  He has set dog training back 20 years."  - Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor and Head, Section of Animal Behavior, Director of Behavior Clinic, Tufts University - Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

I completely agree with Dr. Andrew Luescher DVM, who said, 'The show repeatedly cautions the viewers not to attempt these techniques at home.  What, then, is the purpose of this show?"

What, indeed?

It made me want to pelt the man with onions if I ever happen upon him in public.  Since I do not routinely carry onions with me, if that circumstance should ever arise, I'll probably have to content myself with telling him he's the sole reason my dog bit someone.  Congrats, Cesar.  Hope you're proud.  If my neighbor had been a complete asshole, my dog may have been legally killed by your idiocy.

Sally Menke's Own Greyfriars Bobby

L.A. Times Blog

I just read the news about Sally Menke being found dead after going hiking with her Labrador Retriever.

Reports say her Lab was found sitting next to her body at the bottom of a ravine.

What a testament to dogs.  He could have run off, but he didn't.  He stayed right there with his owner, past the end and until help arrived, albeit too late.

Speculation is running rampant about the cause of death.  Was it suicide, heat stroke, or something more sinister?

Only the Labrador knows.

Fall Cleaning

The fall shedding season has begun, as evidenced by posts in many of the Shiba blogs I follow.  Friday night I came home from work, didn't bother to change my clothes, grabbed the Shiba and put him in the tub.

The Shiba hates the tub.  Very very decidedly so.  The tail uncurls (quite a pathetic sight) and he stands there dripping and stares at me with accusatory eyes the whole time.  He refuses to move while in the tub, unless to make a lunge at escape.  Other than that, I have to manually move him around in the tub.  He doesn't resist my moving him, he just refuses to move himself.  I have a feeling some non-slip sticker thingies in the bottom of the tub may make a difference, but I sort of like it that way.  I think if he had more grip, there would be many more escape attempts.

Luckily, I don't have to bathe my dog that frequently.  Shibas truly are fairly clean animals.

My favorite dog shampoo is Tropiclean's line of all natural shampoos.  That stuff is awesome.  I first discovered it when I found out that my Sainted Labrador would have a reaction to any kind of chemical on his skin, including conventional shampoos.  He was fine with Tropiclean, and because it's so mild I could use it on all my animals, even my ferrets and my rats.  (Yes, I had ferrets and rats.  Long before The Shiba.)  It smells great, too.  Okay okay I admit it.. I've tried it on my hair.

While bathing The Shiba, it is necessary to remove wads of Shiba hair from the drain in order to keep things flowing smoothly.  I really should invest in a screen drain cover.

Bathing loosens the hair nicely.  A lot of hair comes out with a bath, which is why I did it.

I try to make The Shiba stay in the tub until he shakes a few times, but unlike my Sainted Labrador, The Shiba will not shake water off on command.  He stands, dejected and immobile until I let him out.  Then he shakes, and the bathroom looks like I decided to fling a full bucket of water around it.  Thick double coats hold a lot of water.  It's very useful to have a Sammy Cool `N Dry pet Shammy to suck up the water off of The Shiba (and the floor and the walls and the cabinets) quickly.

I sprayed The Shiba off with some Tropiclean Peach Kava  deodorizing spray and then I thought I had missed a spot of shampoo, because he got all foamy.  So I put The Shiba back in the tub (dismay!) and rinsed him really thoroughly.  Same thing happened again!  Then I realized it was the spray that was doing it.  So I actually put him back in the tub, removed the spray cap from the bottle, and just dumped it all over him, lathered him up again (that stuff lathers exceptionally well for a cologne), rinsed, and let him loose.

It seems like his fur is much softer than after a regular shampooing.  I think going forward, I"m just going to use cologne as a foaming bath wash for him and not bother with the shampoos.  We'll see how that works out.

I bet you thought this was going to be about housecleaning, huh?

Well, I desperately want one of these:

My mom has one.  Most.  Awesome.  Vacuum.  Ever.  I want this thing the way most people want fast cars or flashy electronics.  If I ONLY had one of these.  Life would be better.  Omnomnom Rainbow Vacuum!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Designer Dogs

The Designer Dog Craze is all about fashion.  It's a fad.  It is "in" right now to have a mixed-breed dog with a portmanteau name.  The more silly the name, it seems, the more fashionable the dog is.

This bothers me, to no end.  There are so many mixed breed dogs in shelters right now, dying for lack of homes, and yet they cease to be "Designer Dogs" as soon as they get to a shelter.  Then they become mutts, and they are not fashionable anymore.  Unlike second-hand designer handbags or jeans, there is no label stitched on a dog that perpetrates it's value after an owner no longer wants it.

Designer Dog, Hybrid Dog, or just a mix?  

The term Designer Dog pisses me off because it implies a status symbol, like designer jeans.  A dog is not an accessory.  It is a living animal.  Why call them designer dogs, if not to imply the "designer" status on them, like they were a Coach bag?  They weren't designed to any specific purpose, unlike almost all purebred dogs, who did originally have a useful function in society.

The term "hybrid" is just misleading all around.  Crossbred dogs are not hybrids in the sense that people want them to be.  A hybrid is the term for offspring resulting from the breeding of two distinctly different species.  All dogs are the same species.  A donkey and a horse create the hybrid known as a mule.  Breeding two dogs, no matter what breed they are, still results in a dog.  

Mixing Isn't Magic

This term "Hybrid Dog" leads to what I like to call The Hybrid Vigor Fallacy.  Inbreeding depression is a problem in any purebred dog.  However, simply out crossing different breeds on a whim is not the only answer to it.  I point out that when there is a problem that requires widening a gene pool in a breed, it is undertaken with care by people who know and understand the genetics involved, such as with the Dalmatian-Pointer Backcross Project, which seeks to lessen the incidence of hyperuricemia in the Dalmatian by introducing genes from the English Pointer.  This is the correct way to widen a gene pool within a breed to reduce unwanted genetic defects.  Hybrid vigor does exist, and is well documented.  In the case of crossbred dogs, however, the fallacy is that people believe that simply throwing two different breeds together is going to result in a completely genetically sound animal.  Sorry, genetics don't work that way.  If you breed a Poodle with luxating patellas to a Shih Tzu with luxating patellas, you're going to get puppies with even worse luxating patellas, and they will be mixed and have a cutesy portmanteau name to go along with the 3,000 dollar corrective surgery.  In short, there is no magic fix for a genetic defect.  Very careful selective breeding and meticulous record keeping, paired with a good understanding of the genetics involved is required.  And guess what!  That's what every reputable breeder of a purebred dog already does, and has been doing for years before the term "designer dog" was ever coined.

It's A Hairy Problem

Let's begin by getting this out of the way:  As of this time, there is no such thing as a dog that is completely hypoallergenic.  As far as I understand allergies, there probably never will be, even with advances in the field of genetics such as gene silencing.  This is because allergens are not confined to just hair or fur.  Dander, and proteins in saliva and urine are also a factor, and as far as I am aware, you will never be able to breed a dog that doesn't need to salivate and urinate.  Allergies are tricksy things.  Some people are highly allergic to every part of a dog, not just their coat.  Those people will never be comfortable around a dog, even a "shedless" or hairless breed, without medication.  A person can appear to not be allergic to a dog on one day, and have a serious reaction to the exact same dog the next, depending on their immune status.  (True story, it happened to me and I'm not even allergic to dogs!)  Now then.  Where were we?  Oh yes. 

The laws of genetics that apply to defects also apply to the genes for coat type, and thus, shedding.  A first generation mix of a Poodle and a Pomeranian does not produce a dog that doesn't shed.  Remember Punnett Squares from Bio class?  Okay, maybe some people weren't paying attention that day.  Let's use this interactive Punnett Square calculator.  Let us say that the shedding gene is represented by two capital letter As.  AA = shed.  The non-shedding coat will be represented by two lowercase letter as.  aa = non-shedding.  Input AA as Parental Genotype 1 on the left and aa as Parental Genotype 2 on the right.  Now you can hit the big Go button at the bottom.

You see what just happened there.  You got Aa in every calculated square.  If that were a litter of puppies, every single one would be born SHEDDING, but CARRYING the NON-SHEDDING gene.

It's a bit more complex than that, but the demonstration serves.  Adding Poodle to a shedding breed does not mean you get a non-shedding dog.  In fact, sometimes what happens is you get a dog that sheds, but that does not start to shed until many months later, when the puppy coat comes out and the adult coat comes in.  This period is different for different breeds.  Pomeranian typically go through what is known as "The Uglies" when their puppy coat falls out and they look nothing like a Pom.  This can happen anywhere between 4 and 9 months of age.  Pom mixes can also have The Uglies.. and what sometimes happens is that a Pom/Poodle cross looses it's non-shed puppy coat at 9 months of age and grows in a thicker, more Pomeranian type coat that does shed, and then what happens to the dog?

It takes years and years and YEARS of careful breeding to create a non-shedding breed out of a mix of shedding and non-shedding dogs.  The Labradoodle has been bred by some people since the late 80's and they still haven't gotten the shedding out of their lines.  (And let me say, the Labradoodle is now plagued by the exact same genetic problems that the parent breeds had:  Progressive Retinal Atrophy, hip dysplasia, Addison's Disease and more.  So much for hybrid vigor.)

The Parentage Question

Lots of people will claim that they would rather buy a designer dog puppy than adopt a mix from a shelter because "then you know exactly what you're getting."  Says who?  Few and far between are the designer dogs that come with any kind of record of their parentage.  Basically, you're relying completely on the breeder being honest with you.  Or the breeder of their stud and bitch having been honest with them.  There is no real way to tell that a Morkie is really a mix between a Maltese and a Yorkie except trust.  The genetics come into play here as well.  What ARE you getting when you buy a designer dog?  You have no real idea if the dog will shed or not.  You have no real idea how big the dog will get.  You have no idea which traits the dog inherited from what parent.  You have no assurance beside verbal that the dog really IS just a mix of the two breeds in question.  Logical conclusion:  You know what you're getting from a shelter dog, because they've usually already grown into their adult size.  They've already grown into their adult coat and the shelter workers can tell you if it sheds or not.  A designer dog puppy is just a bunch of question marks.  Maybe it will stay under 10 pounds.  Maybe it won't.  Maybe it will shed. Maybe it won't.  And every single dog in a mixed litter can be different.

Creating New Breeds

It cannot be argued that without crossbreeding, we would not have the wide variety of dog breeds that exist for us today.  Many dogs have been crossed and out crossed in order to obtain specific traits or preserve a breed threatened with extinction, when there are too few surviving members to continue breeding solely from members of that breed alone.  The fanciers of designer dog breeds are working against themselves in this regard.  Designer dog breeds can only be a mix of two breeds.  The AKC will not recognize any new breed that is not a mix of at least three different breeds.  The Cockapoo has been around since WWII, has a parent club and standards, and is still waiting, despite what anyone may tell you, they aren't likely to gain recognition any time soon.  That's the catch with the designer dogs.  In order for anyone to create a new breed, they have to first be breeding towards a clear goal.  So far, most breeders of designer dogs are not doing that.  They're simply slapping two breeds together and calling it something silly.  There is no organized goal, there is no end result they're aiming for except the money.  Some of them may claim to be aiming for a result, and usually it doesn't make any sense if one takes the time to actually think about it.  Examples?

Shih-A-Poos - They don't shed!  No, of course they don't.  Neither Shih Tzus nor Poodles shed.  So what was the real reason for mixing them?  There is none.

Pug Mixes - They don't have breathing problems!  False false false.  Remember our genetics lesson?  Some do have breathing problems.  Some aren't as severe.  And every one can be different.  Some of the Pug mixes are downright irresponsible and unethical, like Jugs, which are Jack Russell Terriers mixed with Pugs.  Great, now you have an extremely hyper dog that can't breathe.  Who's bright idea was that?  Bugs.. Boston Terriers mixed with Pugs.  What was the purpose for that?  BOTH those breeds have the same foreshortened muzzle and breathing problems associated with it, so they can't claim to have been trying to eliminate breathing problems.  Really, they just wanted the name, Bug.  If you want a Bug that doesn't have breathing problems, run to your local VW dealer, because that's the only place you're likely to find one.

There really aren't so many good reasons for mixing breeds.  Except the fashion of it.  Dogs should never be fads, because it's always the dogs that suffer.  Many designer dogs wind up in shelters and at rescues, going from Designer Dog to Disposable Dog at the drop of a hat.

If you absolutely must spend 500 dollars on a mixed breed dog, my advice to you:  Adopt one for a much lower adoption fee, and donate the remainder to the rescue or shelter you adopted it from. 

Further Reading:

Disposable Dogs: Heartwarming, True Stories of Courage and Compassion

Disposable Animals: Ending the Tragedy of Throwaway Pets

One at a Time: A Week in an American Animal Shelter

Control of Canine Genetic Diseases (Howell reference books)

Genetics: An Introduction for Dog Breeders


Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Do People Buy Dogs From Pet Stores, Anyway?

jen over at Inu Baka asked:  I was always a bit confused that if someone wanted to lay down so much money for a puppy, why not go to the breeder that already has a jump start on the social training and health part covered? Convenience? Fear of screening process? 

I'm not sure I can answer this.  Now you've got me seriously thinking, Jen, and I think what I'll have to do is make my theories here, ask customers at work, and then get back to you.  

People ask me, "So what do I have to do to get this dog?  Is there an application process or something?"  It gets asked a lot.  Sometimes I wonder if people mistakenly believe that our dogs are rescues.  I honestly can't think of anything we do that would lead people to that conclusion.  Sometimes I think people are letting themselves believe that, because they then feel better about what they're doing.  In a, if-I-say-it-enough-it'll-be-true kind of way.  Many people resist the term "purchase" even while filling out our warranty papers, and will repeatedly say that they're "adopting."  "I adopted a dog from here a few years ago."  This gets said very frequently.  It always kind of irritates me.  I'm not even sure I could say why.  Adopting, to me, just sort of implies doing a community service, a good deed.  Purchasing, not so much.  So I sort of feel like they're giving themselves credit, a pat on the back, that they don't deserve when they insist on saying that they're "adopting" one of my dogs.  Sometimes I try to console myself with, "Well, maybe it's because they think of their dogs as family.  You don't buy family."  Which is why I don't say anything about it when it gets said anymore.  I have in the past made the distinction for people.

Here's what I think.

People who want instant gratification.

These people want what they want and they want it NOW.  They want a dog, they want to go home with it NOW.  They don't want to be put on a breeder's waiting list for a litter that isn't even bred yet.  They don't want to sit through an application and screening process for adopting.  Most of the time they don't even want to take the time to walk around the store with us and buy supplies.  Now, now, now.

People who think they're saving the puppies.

Everything you read about stores that sell puppies say DON'T BUY THE DOGS, even if you feel like you're saving them.  Because that just fuels the industry.  And they're right.  If you're absolutely against selling dogs in stores, don't buy them because you feel sorry for them or because you want to "save" them.  I certainly don't believe that all pet stores that sell dogs are like ours.  I rather think we are an exception rather than the rule, sadly.  But if you're against dogs being sold in stores, even if the dog looks like it's in dire condition, do not buy the dog.  Call the SPCA.  That's the way to save them.  In my store, I'll tell you right now, they don't need saving.  Half the time, they've already been saved.  They have food, they have veterinary care, and nothing is going to happen to them.  They're fine.  They don't need saving, so if the only reason someone is thinking of buying a dog from a pet store is to "save" it, I can say with a clear conscience - don't.  

People who came in with absolutely no intention of buying a dog, and fell in love.

This happens more than one would think.  I hear all the time, "I only came in here for a bag of dog food and I left with a dog!"  or, 'You know, this is how it happened with my last dog.  I just came in here for one 5 dollar thing, and now look!"

People who are looking for a certain breed, and honestly have no other ideas where to look.

If they don't see it in the classifieds, chances are, we're the next stop.  I think they just honestly don't know where else to look for what they want, especially if what they want isn't a Labrador, Golden Retriever, Pit Bull, or mix of any of the previous three. 

Lots of people say to me, "I went to the SPCA, and all they have is Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes."  

A note here:  Our SPCA is a bit different.  There is one 15 minutes away from the store, and all they take is big dogs.  All the smaller dogs go to the SPCA facility about 2 hours away.  Why that is, I couldn't tell you, I just know it is.  And unfortunately, 100% of big homeless dogs around here are pits and pit mixes.  And what's popular right now are small dogs.  That don't shed.  All we have are small kennels.  We only have 3 big kennels.  So people looking for the smaller dogs, they're probably not going to make a 2 hour drive to check out the smaller homeless dogs at the other SPCA unless they're really dead set on adopting.

Or, "I really wanted to save a life and adopt, but I got rejected."

This hurts so much in so many ways.  I really wish a lot of rescues, including the SPCA, would relax their standards a little.  Just because they get rejected from a rescue doesn't mean they're not going to get a dog.  The rejection hasn't solved anything. It just means one homeless dog missed out.  If they want a dog that bad, they're just going to buy one.  Rejecting them seems pointless to me unless there are some serious red flags.  I understand, and the way I always explain it to people is that these organizations are typically trying to put themselves out of business.  They don't want to have to do what they do, and so they try to make sure that the dogs they place aren't going to go through the same thing again, later.  And yet.. It always seems so tragic when they immediately come to the store to buy one, instead.

Everyone wants a puppy, nobody wants a dog.

It's true.  Tragic, and true.  We have puppies.  People want puppies.  The SPCA has dogs.  Nobody wants dogs.  People have this notion that because rescues usually come with baggage, that also makes them dangerous.  As in all things, people are afraid of the unknown.  Even when the SPCA happens upon some puppies, they don't last long there either.  They'll have a list of prospective owners a mile long, while dogs that have been there for months are languishing.  I have actually had people say to me that they wouldn't adopt an adult dog because the lack of histories on them makes them uneasy.

So, here's a few of my guesses on why people buy dogs from us.  These are just guesses, based on what I hear customers say.  I really do want to ask customers now and get it from the source.  I'll have to think of a way to do that without sounding hugely creepy.

To Do List

Coming Soon:

Why Do People Buy Dogs From Pet Stores?  My theories and comments on a pertinent question asked by Jen.
Posted 9-24-2010

The Ones Who Get To Me.  Stories of the dogs I DO want to take home.

Coping With Allergies.  I do it everyday.  We've just learned my son is also allergic.  Allergies are no reason to give up the family pet, it's just a handy excuse.

Why I Want to Throw Onions At Cesar Milan.   Ugh!  Just.  Grrr.
Posted 9-28-2010

The Designer Dog Craze.  I can debunk every reason for it you've ever heard rationalizing it and more.
Posted 9-25-2010

Dog Food Recipes.  Making food for your dog really doesn't take that long, and it's cheaper than having Proctor & Gamble do it for you.

If You're Doing It Right, You Must Be Independently Wealthy:  My opinions on the frequent assertion that you can't (or shouldn't) make money breeding dogs, as requested by Jess.

Dual purpose.  Now you get a sneak peek at what's coming, and I don't forget.

The Idea of Professional Sports Hurts My Brain

Monday afternoon there was a great show on NPR's Fresh Air called The Road to Recovery For Michael Vick's Dogs.

Featured in the show is Hector and Hector's adopted human, who also this week got cancelled on by Oprah (stupid Oprah).  It's okay guys.  NPR is way classier.

It's a good show, so you should give it a listen, if not tonight then the next time you're sitting around folding laundry or something.  There's never anything good on TV, anyway.

Michael Vick seems to be everywhere on any news program these days.  The general consensus seems to be "Everyone deserves a second chance," and I say, sure.  Give him a second chance to suck a fat one and choke to death.  That would be pretty spiffy.  I stopped watching professional football (professional sports, really) after Michael Vick.  This nation needs to get it's shit together, seriously.  We completely revere people who do nothing more than bash each other and play with balls on a field, and the thinkers of the country go completely unnoticed.  And then we sit around and wonder why we're getting more stupid with every passing second.  Priorities.. 

So since all anyone can talk about is Michael Vick, when this morning's show on NPR was about brain damage sustained by playing football (see, some stereotypes are right), as soon as the word "football" was uttered, I thought Michael Vick.  And of course, inevitably, of his dogs.

So here I am driving to work, half listening to a show on chronic traumatic encephalopathy and thinking of all the rescued Vick dogs and some of the things I learned from listening to Monday's Fresh Air when a thought struck me.  Apparently, only one or two of the dogs out of Vick's kennels needed to be put down.  Some of them need to live in sanctuary, but the majority of them, like Hector, are incredibly loving and forgiving dogs.  How does that happen?  What makes one dog come out of hell fairly unscathed while another has been turned into a demon?  Is it all just personality traits, or is it possible that the dogs who were so volatile that they needed to be euthanized had chronic traumatic encephalopathy?  We know Vick tortured those dogs.  Repeated blows to the head will do it.  If it happens in people, why not dogs?  

Monday, September 20, 2010

But Where Do They Come From?

Jen posed the question of questions in a comment on The Shocking Truth last night.  The answer is multi-faceted, and too long to cover in a comment reply, so I'll turn it into a post.

They come from where you think they come from, mostly.  Probably.  Being in this job for the fifth year, I can't make assumptions about anything anymore, because I've found out after years of prejudice myself that it just isn't always how you think.

Years ago, when I first started working at the store, we had a supplier in PA (not Lancaster) who was a USDA certified commercial breeder.  When I say commercial, that means he bred more dogs than most people see in their lifetime.  I won't say his name, I will refer to him by N.  I specify commercial and not puppy mill for a reason:  He was not the images you see of PA Amish puppy mill breeders.  He wasn't even Amish.  His facility was large, clean, and the dogs had kennel runs, not oversize hamster cages.  He was only a three hour drive away from our store, so we personally drove to his facility to pick out our own dogs on his property, and drove them in our own vehicles back to the store.  We (I) personally saw the conditions of the dogs and their living space.  I personally, out of a morbid curiosity, checked into him in an on-line search when I first started working at the store.  What I found was that in 10 years he had one infraction during an inspection:  A bowl in his kennel was dirty.  One.  Infraction.  For One.  Dirty bowl.

As far as commercial breeders go, this guy was in a class by himself.  I swear in the five years I have worked there the worst communicable disease a puppy of his came in with was ringworm.  His dogs were always vaccinated before we got them, with kennel cough, parvo, and a five-way combo vaccine at the proper intervals.  Were his dogs always sound?  No, of course not.  Most of the time any obvious problems were already on their records from his vet.  And a couple of times we had beagles and beagle mixes that developed cherry eye while in our kennel, we took them back to him and he had his vet perform the corrective surgery for us - free of charge  except for the cost of the gas to get them there - and then we brought them back.

Did I agree with his style of breeding dogs?  I most certainly did not.  But if someone was going to breed dogs for profit, I'd rather see it done his way than the way it's usually done.  And the way breeding dogs for profit is usually done is not always by puppy mills.

Some of the puppies we get from local breeders who only breed one or two litters a year.. They come in, typically, in conditions that range from middling to really bad.  We got Bassets from a lady 20 minutes away once, and when Dr. W. was looking them over, we found ticks in their ears, covered with fleas, ear mites, ear infections, suspicious spots of hair loss, they were dirty and you could see every one of their bones.  She said to me, "These dogs didn't come from where you usually get dogs, did they?"  I said, "No.  N. would not have let a dog out of his kennel like this."  She said, "I can tell.  They really weren't very well taken care of."
They're usually wormy, have no shot history, and take a lot of work to get in a condition to be sold.  

I can think of three small local breeders of one breed off of the top of my head who took as good care of their dogs and put as much money and effort into their puppies as N. did.  Just three.  One bred Chow-Chows, one bred Jack Russells, and another guy bred field trial champion bloodline Beagles (and when I say bloodline I mean sire and dam were champions, not some obscure name 9 places back in a pedigree).  I never met the lady who bred the Jack Russells, but she would never give us their registration papers because she said she wanted to give people less incentive to breed them.  The Chow-Chow breeder is a regular customer in our store.  The guy with the Beagles only comes in when he wants to sell his pet quality puppies, but when his puppies are in our store he comes in every day to see them.  He lives at the opposite end of the state, so that's quite a hike.

The owner of the store is a giant softee.  He really is.  Otherwise, he wouldn't take the poorly dogs at all.  He does it with entire litters of accident puppies people want to get rid of fast, too.  Those are usually the ones in the worst condition of all, and I always half want to strangle and beat him for taking in dogs with no shot history.  (UM PARVO RISK, HELLO?!)  But he does it because he knows that at least he can do this for them, and he feels badly for them being in the situations that they're in.  It's hard to be mad at compassion. He really doesn't make any money from the accident puppies.  They're typically a true 57 mix, or mix of Insert Purebred Here and Next Door Neighbor's Dog.. Maybe.  And we have to put so much into them to get them into any condition to be sold that by the time he's sold them, he's only making money on the supplies we sell the dog with.

For awhile we were getting puppies from a lady who owned a pet store in a neighboring state, and her dogs did come from Amish puppy mills, and they were always sick with something and took a lot of work.  We eventually stopped dealing with her because she was just a pain in the ass every way and more.  And when they're from the Amish, there's really no denying it.  When the breeder card says a name like *Abbediah Zook and someone asks you, "These aren't Amish dogs are they," you can't exactly lie about it.

Unfortunately, between the new PA puppy mill legislation and the economy, most of our good breeders are no longer breeding.  The Chow-Chow guy had both of his females fixed and cited the economy as the main reason he's not breeding anymore.  I haven't seen any of the JRT lady's puppies in months, and I can only assume she's in the same boat.  N. elected to shut his kennel down at the first of the year rather than deal with the state of PA and the SPCA harassing him continually.  And the SPCA truly was harassing him.  They wanted his dogs, bad.  That whole situation really pissed me off, because of all the people to go after, N. was probably the least worthy of their attentions, but they came after him like a pack of sharks on a bleeding tuna. The only thing I can think of is that they wanted to obtain his dogs any way they could because they saw dollars signs all over them.  There really was no other reason for it.  They cited him for one of his dogs having periodontal disease, no lie.  They were that desperate.  I figure because he kept his dogs in such good condition, they wouldn't have to put any money into them to adopt them out, and everyone loves puppies.  A load of cute, healthy puppies with vaccination histories doesn't usually fall into the SPCA's lap.  It would be pure profit for the SPCA.  I can see why they'd be itching to get them.

For the record, let me just say.. I'm not usually down on the SPCA, but what they did to N. was really uncalled for.  How many pet dogs have periodontal disease in the US?  Really?  Seriously?

The PA legislation was just effed in so many ways.  It didn't just take down puppy mills.  A co-worker of mine got her Dogue De Bourdeaux from a breeder in PA who had to stop breeding because of a gut-punch combo of the economy with the new legislation right smack in the middle of it.  She even had to turn down her invitation to Westminster this year because of it.  Yes, that's right.  A breeder of Westminster quality show dogs was shut down by the PA puppy mill legislation.  They really threw the baby out with the bathwater on that one, congrats PA.  And really, did it end anything?  In PA, sort of.  For the most part, they're just going to move to Missouri, Ohio, Kansas.  It will just jump from state to state.

And now, we have to buy our dogs from other places.  We tried a broker called Lambriar for awhile.  They weren't up to the standards we were used to.  Now we're trying another place, and it's not working out.  The puppies aren't coming in from breeders with Amish-sounding names, but I don't know how much that actually means.  I do know that although they all have shot histories when they get here, they are all coming in with kennel cough right now.  (Hence the reason for the kennel overhaul cleaning P. and I had to do on Sunday.)  I had my first dog in my kennel die a couple of months ago because sometimes before this 1 pound Chihuahua puppy got to us, some idiot decided it would be a great idea to perform surgery to repair a small umbilical hernia.  I am not a happy kennel manager right now.

The chances of us finding another breeder like N. are zil.  He was one of a kind.  I'm sure there's another one somewhere, but within driving distance?  No.

Right now, we're up in the air about where to go now.  There's been talk of teaming up with a local rescue that we already do a lot of work with to adopt their dogs out of our kennel.  Or possibly just becoming our own brokers using the classified ads of our local paper.  There's a broker here who does that, about 10 minutes from our store in fact, and she sells them to places like Lambriar out of her house, but her dogs are always atrocious.  Which again, just underlies the fact that you don't always know for sure that dogs from brokers who find their ways to puppy stores are from puppy mills.  This lady goes around buying puppies from people out of the paper to sell to places like Lambriar, and I don't know if the people who sell the dogs to her realize that's what happens to them.

Anyway, some food for thought about where they come from.  This is already pretty long, so the issue of instant gratification of a long-term commitment will have to wait until another night when my son isn't sick and my dog isn't as obsessed with the cat litter box.  (Ew.)

I hope you guys read fast.  I'm long-winded.

*I just made Abbediah Zook up off the top of my head as an example.  So if there really is an Abbediah Zook out there somewhere who makes his living as a carpenter or something, I humbly apologize to all the powers of Karma, I make no reference to any real person with that name.  Not that any Abbediah Zook is likely to know that I'm talking about him on-line, but I like to cover my bases.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lazy Sunday Night Post

This is a rambling lazy Sunday post.  P and I kicked the kennel's ASS today, and unfortunately it gave us a fight. Cleaning all the gunk out of all the air vents in every kennel, pulling out every shelf and table to clean behind it.  There was a lot of dust.  There were many sneezes.  I drank a huge cup of coffee, a Monster Nitrous, and a cappucino and had time to eat nothing all day.  Now I'm crashing, sitting here with a bowl of lo mein and a cup of iced chai, unwinding.

I'm going to try and keep up with animal (mostly DOG) current events in the news, tell you all more about the dogs I work with and the dogs I have lived with, and hopefully sprinkle some breed profiles and training tips and secrets about, just to keep things on the useful side.  I still have to tell you about my Sainted Labrador, Arleigh Burke's Bay Rum.  Sorry to you readers who know me and hear me gush about Bay all the time - but he deserves it.  I'll give you more of a bio on me, at some point.  In order to know about me you need to know about the other animals in our house (two cats, Simon and Mojo; and a pionus parrot, Peanut).  So I've got some ideas to throw at you, simmering around in this head of mine.  Stay tuned.

In other news, I've been invited to join a collective blog - Inu Baka.  Inu Baka means "dog crazy" in Japanese.  So yeah, it's another dog blog, mostly Shibas.  What can I say?  Dogs are life - the rest is just details.  Anyway, the collective blog is a really neat idea, and I'm really excited to be a part of it.  A big thank you to Jen for including me in an awesome group.  So if you're a dog person, pop over and visit the rest of us inu baka dog idiots.  If you're into manga, there's a manga by the same name that's a pretty good read.  If you use the link here to buy it, then I has a happy, so if you're really interested, do me a favor and click.  And that's all for tonight, my little droogies.  Have a happy Sunday night.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jesse James & Cinnabun: How Tough is Too Tough?

The recent dog news is all about Jesse James and his bully breed bitch Cinnabun.  

A video shows Jesse working with a bully breed bitch by letting her hang from a device known as a spring pole.

View that video.

To those of you unfamiliar with dog training, a spring pole is basically a rope with something for the dog to bite tied to it, attached to a weighted platform so the dog cannot pull it over.  The point of this exercise is somewhat lost on me.  People involved with bully breeds will like to tell you that this "conditions" their dogs, but I'm at a loss as to what they're being conditioned for.  In some states, a spring pole is considered dog fighting paraphernalia, and you can get in serious trouble for owning one.  It does test their "gameness," another word for how tenaciously they will go after quarry. 

Can they get hurt doing this?  Yes, I'm sure they can, especially when people are stupid about it and hang spring poles from insane heights or place them in unsafe spaces.  Neither of these is true in the video of Jesse James and Cinnabun.  

That being said, the dogs do like it.  They aren't being forced to do this.  There is nothing in the world that can make a dog hang there and not let go if it does not want to.  The enjoyment of spring poles isn't confined to the bully breeds, either.  My sainted Labrador would use trees as spring poles, and if left to his own devices around trees that were small enough, he would eventually yank them out of the ground or rip all limbs within jumping distance off the tree.  I will say, he never so much as loosened a tooth in this play.  Dogs chomp on bones without damage to their teeth, remember.

Is there a legitimate use for spring poles?  Some police dogs, as puppies, are tested for suitability to the job by a spring pole or a person standing in as a spring pole for the puppies.  Basically they get the puppies really wound up with a rope, let them bite, and then try to pick them up off the ground.  Any puppy that won't hang on with all four feet off the ground isn't going to make a police dog.  Please note, this is not a part of their training, and it is not something they are required to do all the time.  It's just a way to test the suitability of their temperament for police work as young as 8 or 9 weeks.

Here's the main source of controversy:  Is it inhumane?  

When used properly, I don't think so.  I never saw anything inhumane in my Labrador deciding for himself to hang with all four feet off of a tree branch, and I don't see anything inhumane in the use of spring poles, though I do question why people decide to do it.  If a bully breed is being legitimately used for boar hunting, that's one thing.  But how many people really do that with their dogs?  The only person I've ever seen use a bully breed for boar hunting was old videos of Steve Irwin and his dog Sui on Animal Planet.  If a person is using it for the sole purpose of the dog's enjoyment, from safe heights in a clear open space, I see nothing wrong.  As before stated, the dogs do love to do it, and from a behavioral standpoint, I think it is better for the dog to play tug-of-war with an inanimate object than it is to possibly let the dog learn that it is physically superior to people.  When people do it for no other reason than to demonstrate what a tough, dangerous dog they have, then I have concerns.  Those are the people who usually let their dog dangle from dangerous heights, or have them jumping and swinging wildly around from unstable, home-made spring poles in areas littered with dangerous debris that the dog could hurt itself on when letting go.  When it is being used as a training tool for dog fighting, then it is inhumane.

None of these is true of the video showing Jesse James letting Cinnabun use a spring pole.  The dog's tail is wagging, she is clearly enjoying herself.  The spring pole is well made, and the area is free and clear.  The dog is not hanging from a height in which she will hurt herself when she drops, it's just high enough that she can get her feet off the ground.

The notion that Cinnabun "ran away" recently because Jesse "makes" her use a spring pole is complete idiocy.  The more likely scenario is that Cinnabun wandered away because she's an unspayed female, and that's what dogs do when they aren't fixed.

This dog lover's take?  This is just another way to vilify Jesse James because he cheated on Sandra Bullock and whatever else of his private life people haven't recently agreed with.  It might also be that this display of strength and tenacity in a bully breed scares people.  This is a breed that has been utterly crucified by the press, much maligned and made into a terror that it isn't.  I can easily see how people could watch that video and envision a person in place of the spring pole, only see all the damage that this dog is capable of when watching a strong man shake her while she is dangling in the air and she still will not let go.

I see her heart.  I see a dog whose tenacity extends beyond her jaw musculature to her loyalty.  I see a dog who loves as hard as she hangs on to a rope.  No, indeed, she ain't lettin' go.  Not of anything she holds dear.