We’ve had this table for awhile but just needed to put it together. It’s for babies actually but we just covered it with a yoga mat. The dog training tables are VERY expensive .... in the hundreds of dollars... and just unreasonable. This one is quite steady and almost the right height (I’d prefer an inch or 2 shorter). Robert caught on SO quickly to get on and get off. He’s gradually mastering more “elegant downs” to quote one of our wonderful trainers. The tunnel, well that’s another subject. “Through” will have to be added to some future sessions as he didn’t quite get that one. His half sisters had no problem with it so I think I’ll bring them out to play with him s some and he’ll catch on. Macintosh is happy to have a pal and he and Robert get along so well. We are thankful for that.
When our holistic vet, Dr Lenoir, asked us what food the dogs eat I paused before answering. Did she really want to know all the supplements and toppings? The kibble is N&D Farmina Ancestral grains and ProPac, but then the toppings range from salmon to sirloin, turkey to lamb, sweet potatoes to carrots, beans to kale, yogurt to raw goat milk. And the supplements, well, everything from salmon oil to colostrum and vitamins. So, even though the toppings vary, I thought a video of our morning routine was in order. They also eat dinner and their snacks are a whole different story, but mostly involve cooked and dehydrated meat or raw freeze dried food. The holistic vet said that some of their cancer patients only eat raw meat and raw cabbage. Raw diet is what they recommend .... but I read that including some kibble helps clean their teeth. So, the verdict is still out. With our routine, I feel like they get the best of both worlds.
Robert loves training! Since all the dog shows are being cancelled due to the Covid 19 outbreak, he won't be starting his official show career for awhile. (He had entered several shows beginning in April now that he just turned 6 months). So, we are continuing our training, sans outings and socialization, toward conformation but revamping a bit. We are going to work toward his tricks title first! His theme will most likely involve a kilt (hello, with a name like "Robert the Bruce"!!!) and some "Highland Game" challenges.
And, since Lilly can't show to try to get her final Major win for her championship, we'll also work on her tricks training more in earnest. We've decided Stella will be the best fit for our next Rally star, so she'll be focusing on rally. As long as we can stay healthy, we'll have lots of time to train and love the dogs! And continue in prayer for the rest of the world.
This post is a reflection on a text I received yesterday from a wonderful couple we met last Fall. They were looking at getting a puppy from a breeder and wondered if I had heard of this breeder (who we'll call "Sandy" for the purposes of this blog) and if we knew anything about her. I first met this couple November of 2019, when they were considering a puppy from our Lemaitre Litter. They really wanted an adult male pug, however, to fill the loss of their senior pug who had just passed away. They only considered a puppy because they weren't finding an adult, but they really wanted a male as that is what they have always owned and loved. Unfortunately, we only had a female puppy available for them so they decided they really wanted to hold out for a male.
4 months later, they found an available male puppy (not adult), but a male at least, from "Sandy" and wanted to know if I had heard of this breeder. The name didn't ring a bell and she was not in any of the pug groups, or on any of the pug chat groups online. (Pug people know pug people. Whether in Spain, Ireland, Australia, Alabama, Norway, Michigan, or California … serious pug folks eventually cross paths via the internet or in person.) After snooping around, I found out that "Sandy" had never owned pugs before, and actually bred 2 different breeds, but never pugs.
I saw that "Sandy" had one mutual friend on Facebook .... an amazing, reputable, honorable pug breeder and real life friend. I contacted this friend and found out that "Sandy" had recently purchased 2 female show quality pugs from her ….. and now, my friend really regretted having sold "Sandy" the pugs.
It turns out, "Sandy" had promised to show the pugs, and didn’t. And, surprise, it turns out that "Sandy's" mother just happens to own an unaltered male pug and “oops” the pugs got pregnant....with their 1st heat! This means, of course that there were no OFA tests for hips etc. (which have to be done at age 2), no championships, no studying of pedigrees and genetic planning, no health tests and on and on.
Yet, "Sandy" is selling the puppies …. all 8 of them …. (at $1,800 a pup), making a profit. "Sandy" can make a profit because she is not paying membership dues to pug organizations such as the Pug Dog Club of America, not paying for health testing for things like Pug Dog Encephalitis (does she even know what this is? Probably not, because "Sandy" has never owned pugs, has not attended workshops and researched the breed, is not a member of an organization that helps educate her), or Myelopathy (how would she know if the mother has hip issues, since you can't do the OFA testing until the pug is 2 years old … and on and on.
"Sandy" is also saving tons of money by not bothering to prove the dog's worthiness in conformation by participating in dog shows.
Sandy doesn't Show
A serious, reputable breeder shows the dogs in dog shows, which allows them to evaluate their dogs against the standard for the breed, and also against other dogs, to be sure that the dogs they have are good representatives of their breed. A reputable breeder spends thousands and thousands of dollars to earn a championship just for one dog. Competing in dog shows requires the costs of traveling out of state, hotel stays, show entries themselves (hundreds of dollars per show cluster per dog), not to mention the maintenance, top quality nutrition, supplements, grooming and supplies necessary to keep a show dog in top shape. Sometimes it requires paying a professional handler to show the dog and always it requires hours of training and time.
How does a dog become a champion? To become a "champion", a dog must win a certain number of points, which it can earn from different dog show competitions. After it gains at least 15 points from 3 different judges and gains at least to "major wins" from separate judges (beating out enough other pugs in a given show), it then becomes a champion offering the privilege of attaching the prefix "ch" to its name. So, typically, a dog will attend numerous dog shows over a period of a months or a year … on most weekends.
So, if it's so expensive, why should "Sandy" worry about dog shows? Why should she worry about championships if she can make money and breed puppies without worrying about this?
Earning a championship demonstrates that there were numerous, experienced, unbiased experts (judges) who felt a given dog was a good representation of the breed. These experts felt this dog would be worthy to be bred and would make a contribution to the breed moving forward in the future. These experts also see the top representations of the breed across the country (and sometimes across the world) and they know what to look for. While they do have their own, individual interpretation of the breed standard, they are not "blinded" by the love of their dog and do not have tunnel vision. They help prevent "kennel blindness" which would cause a breeder to overlook very important faults or issues such as improper structure.
Sometimes, an exception is made for certain dogs who will contribute to the future of a breeding program but, due to something like an injury or a fear of shows (sometimes dogs can become afraid at shows because of a larger dog barking and lunging at them or other negative experience) in which case at least one of the parents should be a champion, or should have received important wins such as "Winners Bitch" or "Best of Winners" or "Best of Breed" or "Best of Opposite Sex."
Dog shows keep breeders honest. A good breeder knows the faults of their dogs. (No dog is perfect). A good breeder is constantly striving to improve upon these faults. It might be small, like needing a bit longer ear, or darker ear, or a higher tail set. It might be needing to address a small aspect of structure, like perhaps needing more angulation in rear. A good breeder is honest with his or herself, and with others. If you only see your own dogs, and always stay "in your backyard", you will stop noticing these faults, or stop noticing ways your line could be improved upon, and your standards can easily slip down the drain.
sAndy doesn't Accrue knowledge of the breed
A big difference between a backyard breeder and reputable breeders? What do they do in their free time?
The serious breeder spends time looking at stud dogs, probably for years before a breeding, and certainly for many months; attends shows and watches videos of shows or performance events that are too far away; examines pedigrees; does breed-recommended health tests on the dog to be bred and inquires about the results for stud dogs under consideration; seeks out other offspring of the stud dogs under consideration, along with any siblings and nieces or nephews, especially those who might be related to the female to be bred, to assess how well the two dogs might produce.
The backyard breeder either uses another dog in the household or looks around locally to find a dog of the same breed. Just like "Sandy" did.
Sadly, while "Sandy" will make a nice profit because she has literally not paid a penny toward anything that would help provide some "insurance" that she will be improving the breed with this breeding, the future puppy owners of "Sandy's" puppies will likely end up losing a lot of money, just as my husband and I have over the years when we owned pugs bred by "less than reputable breeders".
SaNdy Never leaves the backyard. (Figuratively speaking).
Backyard breeders . . . .
My husband and I have learned the hard way about the ramifications of owning pugs purchased from less than reputable breeders.
We used to think that “just being AKC registered” meant you had a quality pug. We would find a listing in the classifieds, drive out to the country, usually to a manufactured home, (except for one time when we met in a parking lot … meeting the breeder halfway in Memphis. A huge mistake. This pug, Louis Armstrong, ended up being one of my dearest heart dogs but his 13 years of life were filled with major drugs and horrible seizures, which started around age 3. Perhaps if the breeder had been more knowledgeable and done more health testing, these seizures could have been prevented.)
As time progressed, and our one pug eventually turned into a grumble of 3 pugs, we often wondered why our "AKC pugs" didn't look like those pugs in the Pug Talk magazine, but more like the pugs we rescued from shelters.
For example, here is one of our rescue pugs (who was originally purchased by a young couple from “a neighbor who bred pugs”) and rehomed to us at age 2 when they had a human child who had allergies. Sebastian needed a playmate at the time so we were happy to adopt Charlie.
Meanwhile, notice how straight and strong the front legs are of our Champion Macintosh's father, "Trouble", Champion Hill Country's Lovin' Every Minute of It?
And Macintosh took after his father. He is solid and strong, with a gorgeous front.
We drove all the way to Texas to use Trouble as a stud which involved incredible expense from hotel stays, progesterone tests at vet, AI at vet, and on and on. Not to mention the stud fee. We searched a long time to find the perfect sire … who was health tested, and had been proven to be a worthy representation of the breed by being chosen as a champion by numerous, qualified, experienced AKC judges, and eventually receiving his own championships. We didn't just use a "family member's pug" as "Sandy" did.
Another example is our current companion pet (not in the breeding program), Sebastian, who we rescued from a backyard breeder (and her dogs literally lived outside, in her backyard, year round, in dog houses …. whether it was 30 or 90 degrees outside). Sebastian has had 2 soft palette surgeries, nares widened, and on and on, due to his poor conformation. Notice how his back legs are all over the place, spindly and thin, and not straight?
In this video, he is much younger, hiking with our other rescues Lexi and Jerry, when he could still get around easily.
When we rescued Sebastian, we just happened to snap some photos of his parents (who were in the fenced backyard.) Notice how weak his father's legs are (the black pug). The mother was the fawn pug on the left, with the light ears.
Meanwhile, notice how solid and strong our purposefully bred Champion, Miss Dior's legs are.
Here is Miss Dior's father, Grand Champion Mianda's Prince Charming at Vanity. We purposefully sought him out, travelling to St Louis (2 different expensive and lengthy trips) for this breeding. We wanted to improve the coat (her coat is plush, and soft), bone, and other important things. Here is Prince, Miss Dior's father:
It’s no surprise who is aging better. Miss Dior's incredible bone (and Prince's) will help them age well, but poor Sebastian, age 8 now, hobbles and is really having a difficult time walking. He's not only taking the glucosamine supplements Charlie is on, but also special meds the Holistic Vet offered as well as pain meds (gabapentin). And he can't even go for a friendly walk down the street now.
So, we've learned the hard way, that pretty much any breeder can "register" a puppy. They can lie and say "Bubba" was the dad and "Bubbette" was the mom, but in reality, it could have been an oopsie and they're not sure who the parents are. So, while registering a dog with AKC is important, it is not the final word.
Granted, even when we breed 2 amazing, health-tested, champion pugs, we can end up with a pup who has lots of personality, but definitely "won't make it Westminster". Despite the best of our intentions, Mother Nature has a macabre sense of humor and likes to contribute to our endeavors. (Have you ever known incredibly handsome, model-like humans, who have the ugliest child you've ever seen? Yep, it happens with pugs, too.) And, it's also true that these pugs are "so ugly they're cute" and we love them with our whole hearts even more because of their idiosyncrasies. However, when breeders start "cheating" and choose breeding stock with weak ankles, hips, poor conformation to begin with, that's when Mother Nature really feasts on human stupidity or greed, and breeders end up with pups who might die tragically of PDE at just a few months old, just when life is starting (because they failed to do the PDE testing, and bred an N/S to N/S or S/S pug), o a pug who needs multiple patella surgeries or expensive eye drops, or seizure medication for the entirety of their life.
However, if the goal is always improvement ... breeders would make better choices.
It took my husband and I a long time (30 years ….. and we are still learning) what constitutes a healthy, strong, wonderful representation of a pug. And we're constantly continuing to learn. It will be a lifelong endeavor. (The Pug Dog Club of America JUST published a NEW standard illustration of the pug!)
Breeders like "Sandy" who truly have little experience of knowledge with pugs, most likely will not take the time to study pedigrees and make good genetic matches.
"Sandy's" female pugs produced puppies that were accidentally bred. It honestly could have been an accident. "Oopsies" even happen with the best of the most reputable breeders around, despite heroic efforts. If so, the act of her newly purchased female show puppies, mating with her mother's intact male pug, is not unethical. However, once "Sandy" charged money for the puppies, that is when it becomes unethical behavior. And, if "Sandy" continues to breed these pugs and there are more "oopsies" …. well.
SanDy doesn't Disclose
If a breeder is hesitant to allow you to visit, and you are not able to see the puppy's parents (or at least one parent if the sire does not live with them, and at least view lots of photographs), walk away. A responsible breeder would be willing to allow you to meet the parents of your future puppy. A responsible breeder would be able to tell you about the parents' personalities, and about their lineage. Bear in mind, that NO breeder will allow guests onto their premises (or they should not at least) when pups are at a very young age. I've heard of breeders who lost all of their dogs from Parvo which was brought to their home from visitors. It is a tragic horrid way to lose a dog, yet alone your entire family of dogs.
But, young puppies aside, if a breeder doesn't allow you to visit, walk away. It is vital to see where the puppies are being raised. It is helpful to see how the breeder is socializing and training the puppy, so that you will be able to continue with the work once the puppy moves to your home.
If a breeder doesn't ask you questions, walk away. For a responsible breeder, these puppies are like their children. They want to make sure they are going to the best home possible. The breeder should ask you about your knowledge of the breed, raising puppies, and what your home life is like. Don't feel uncomfortable with the vast amount of questions. They are just trying to keep everyone's best interest in mind.
If there is no disclosure of health tests performed on the puppy's parents, walk away. Every breed has different health tests that NEED to be done before a dog is bred. Hips, heart, spine, eyes, blood tests for PDE, PK, etc. Ask for the results of the health tests. If the contract does not state that "if you are unable to care for the puppy, the puppy must come back to the breeder", walk away. A responsible breeder will never allow one of their puppies to end up in a shelter/rescue.
Indeed, if every breeder was a RESPONSIBLE breeder, shelters wouldn’t be overflowing. A responsible breeder will demand to have the dog returned to them if you are no longer able to care for your dog.
Additionally, a responsible breeder may ask you to sign a contract indicating that if you fail to meet specified conditions of care, or you become unable to keep the puppy, the breeder will reclaim it.
The breeder should be friendly and willing to establish a good rapport with you. (from the AKC website): "A good breeder will be an excellent resource and breed mentor for you throughout the life of your puppy, and encourage you to call if your dog has a crisis at any stage of its life."
SandY has lots of Youngins
Another warning sign of a "backyard breeder"? A breeder who breeds several types of dogs. The purpose of a responsible breeder is to better the breed. How are they able to do that if they are focusing on 4 or 5 different breeds? Bettering the breed is a very complicated process. When pairing dogs to breed, the breeder should take into account what traits the parents have and how that will affect their offspring.
No one has seen Sandy in the pug rings at dog shows, or at workshops, or on chat rooms on facebook. How is Sandy to learn if she's not an active member in pug clubs and groups? Responsible breeders are truly passionate about their breed and are always trying to learn more. There's simply not enough time to truly stay educated and up to date on multiple breeds.
But that's probably ok with Sandy, because she can use that time to make sure she always has puppies available. A backyard breeder has a goal of making a lot of money as quickly as possible and will always have puppies available. Responsible breeders breed a few females at a time because it is a complicated and time-consuming process if done correctly, rather than simply a moneymaking opportunity. In order to have healthy puppies. a knowledgeable breeder allows a female to have a limited number of litters in a lifetime rather than giving birth to numerous litters each year.
And, speaking of youngins, a backyard breeder homes the pups at a young age. With pugs, to ensure a puppy has thee best health possible, an expert breeder keeps the puppy with its mother and littermates for a minimum of 10 weeks. 8 weeks at the absolute earliest, but behavior vets recommended 10 weeks at the earliest. A backyard breeder, however, wants to sell a puppy at a younger age so that they can breed the adult female again as quickly as possible. The "Sandy's" are probably not going to follow Puppy Culture protocol, either, with regard to socialization and important training during the critical socialization period. They are probably not concerned that the puppy will be "underdeveloped" emotionally and psychologically. That is not important. The goal is to sell, and the younger and cuter they are, the better. Yes, new puppy owners are eager to get their puppy, but it's important to realize that the pup will be scarred both physically, emotionally, and psychologically if removed from its mother and littermates too early. If you ever wondered why a particular Fido from your past was so neurotic, it could simply be that he or she was sold too soon. 8 weeks is much to early for most small breeds.
So, in summary, dogs don't necessarily have to "live in the backyard" to qualify a breeder as a "backyard breeder". Rather, for me, the term reflects more about the lack of looking beyond their small circle of pugs, and limited knowledge base. There is a large spectrum of "backyard breeders", ranging from those who want to breed their pet "Fluffy" because she's so cute, to those who "want their child to experience the miracle of birth", to those who think "how neat it would be to breed a pug with my neighbor's poodle", to those who do health tests but don't do temperament test, to those who socialize but breed horrible quality dogs because the dog is "their beloved pet", but a breeder should be able to articulate how the expert opinions of others (health testing, titling, breed club's code of ethics etc) fed into their decisions and why they felt a particular breeding was done a particular way in an effort to provide the best chance of making the best dogs.
And a few final thoughts, from the AKC website:
*Prospective puppy buyers desiring to purchase a purebred dog from a responsible, reputable breeder, should be able to visit the breeder's home or kennel and see at least one of the puppy's parents. While there, they should "pay attention to the parent's temperament and appearance so that you get a sense of what your puppy may be like. Also, observe the premises. Is the house/kennel clean? Dogs and puppies should be clean, well fed, lively, and friendly. Look for signs of malnutrition (like protruding rib cages) or such signs of illness as runny nose and eyes, coughing, lethargy, and sores."
*While there, interact with the puppies and dogs. "Does the breeder appear to genuinely care for them?" The puppies should not shy away from the breeder and should be outgoing with strangers."
*Does the breeder care about the health of the puppy and its parents? The breeder "should be informative and honest about a breed's physical and temperamental traits. And they should speak knowledgeable about genetic diseases that might affect their breed."
*The breeder should not allow you to bring home the puppy until it's 8-12 weeks old (depending upon the breed). Puppies need ample time to mature and socialize with their mother and littermates.
*Breeders should be willing to answer any questions you have, and they should ask many of you as well. Breeders will want to make sure their puppies are going to good homes, with people who know what to expect and have made all the necessary preparations.
Hopefully, "Sandy" will eventually join the pug groups and learn more about the pug breed before breeding in the future. Hopefully, "Sandy" will complete important health tests when her girls turn 2 years of age. Hopefully, "Sandy", will research, attend workshops and shows, and find the best matches for her females before breeding again ... after and if, of course, the girls pass their health tests and earn their championship or at least several major wins. Hopefully, "Sandy" learned her lesson and will be more careful heading forward to prevent future "oopsies". Still, you have to wonder, "why did she purchase TWO female show pugs?"
Always in the pursuit of knowledge and trying to find ways to improve skills, I took Robert, Marie Claire, and Lilly with me to a 2-day handling and dog grooming workshop in the next state over. We learned some new tips such as how to save some money by using homemade solutions for maintaining a great coat (versus the outrageously expensive shampoos and conditioners sold at dog shows), tips on how to use bait (treats) properly in the show ring, and activities to help teach proper gaiting on a loose leash. Many aspects of taking care of, training, and showing a show dog were addressed and we will be utilizing much of what we learned.
While this post is more of a venting and doesn't apply to pugs per se, it still seems important for me to share our experiences at the workshop because ALL dog owners need to be willing to stand up and advocate for their pets. Even if the Queen of England herself asks you to do something questionable, trust your instinct and, if you feel it might be harmful, don't do it. There are a lot of experts out there who claim to know the best approach, but always question and do your research and, if you have any doubts at all, don't do it, or don't do it until you have researched more.
I first encountered this with a puppy class at Petco with our pug puppy, Sebastian. He was young, spirited, (brilliant) … and, yes, a PUPPY. During the "off leash playtime" section, he played with a nearby puppy. He was not aggressive, but he was definitely wanting to play. He did not mount, did not threaten, did not do anything inappropriate for a puppy but, in the teacher's mind, he needed correcting because he was overly excited. (Guess what? The dachshund didn't show up the next week … she was in heat!) At any rate, the teacher said "with these types of dogs (she obviously didn't like pugs) you need to always let them know whose boss". So she put Sebastian on his back and held him there. (A puppy!) While I didn't know much about dog training at this point (serious training), I did know that, in my gut, this felt very wrong. I should have taken Sebastian away from her at that very second. Sadly, I waited a few minutes. After she started belittling an elderly man who was in the class, that was when my stomach was really boiling and I literally felt nauseous, giving me the courage to pick up Sebastian and walk out of that store (with the honest excuse that "I wasn't feeling well.") Yes, I lost about 4 classes worth of money, but I ended up finding a teacher who used positive approaches to training and a dog who loves learning and is still happily sleeping at my side now even as a senior dog. A dog who earned his CGC, Rally Obedience, and other titles. A dog who loves life, and loves me. And respects me. Who knows what would have happened had I subjected him more to that "dominance" trainer who obviously did not like pugs, and who had no right teaching humans or dogs?!
This story is largely why I'm making the post here about the workshop. The clinician was definitely NOT like this Petco teacher and he seemed to truly love dogs, had accumulated a vast knowledge from a lifetime of handling show dogs. However, there was a point in the workshop where my "gut" was challenged, just like it was at Petco, and I stood up for my puppy. And that's where I feel this venting blog post is applicable to the site because I hope and pray that everyone out there with one of our Pickwick Pugs will have the courage to stand up for their pup at all times and never feel pressured to do something that is not in your or the pug's best interest.
It has been a long, long time since I've dealt with a "Drink the Koolaid and ask NO questions" teacher. That's why I was taken aback at the workshop with the clinician's reaction when I asked a question and shared a (serious in my mind) concern.
I shared my considerable concern over allowing the 6 foot lead to drag the ground with this young puppy (who had only worn ANY kind of a lead or collar a few times, since we just got him), and who was wearing a CHAIN CHOKE COLLAR the clinician wanted him to use (these kill SO many dogs, and they are never advisable for pugs ...... since I had never used them I was honestly concerned that I was using it correctly and had "a P" not "a Q" .... and the clinician had put this on my pug puppy just seconds before. The puppy was still unpredictable and I was afraid I would trip and fall and kill him, or that the lead would get tangled up around his leg and injure him (you weren't allowed to look at the dog at all, even if/when it was lagging behind you etc., so you had NO idea what the puppy was up to). With so many concerns, I asked the clinician before the down and back if I could hold the lead so it didn't drag the ground as much ... but still have a loose leash etc.
So, with all these concerns, I asked the clinician (very politely mind you) if it was absolutely necessary to hold the lead at the end, necessitating it to drag on the ground and possibly trip us. I shared my concern that I didn't think my puppy was ready for this yet, and asked if I could continue, for now, to use the techniques we had used the day before, which were safer and much more appropriate for Robert's level of experience and training.
(The clinician himself kept saying over and over "you guys aren't ready for this yet", and I was seeing dogs being flipped over because they had been tangled up in lead but clinician kept saying "keep walking don't stop" or another person wrenched her knee because she tripped on the lead and other dogs being dragged for short distances .... with a CHOKE CHAIN on!)
So, to me, this was a fair an honest question and I was hoping for a responsible and kind response to address my fears with explanations of why there should be no concern.
Instead? The clinician proceeded to dramatically throw his hands up in the air, then walk over to the wall and pretend to bang his head. This drama caused the Price is Right audience to collectively gasp (How dare a student do anything but blindly follow his instructions!!) I guess they served Koolaid during the break when I was out in my car.
In retrospect, perhaps the clinician didn't offer a responsible response because there wasn't one. He knew the risks but felt they were worth it. As my puppy's guardian, I did not feel the risks were worth it.
The clinician wanted NO student input, however. He only wanted all the participants to blindly follow all of his directives no matter what. "Don't you trust me?" Well, honestly, no. Not yet at least. You haven't earned that trust yet.
The final straw was with the final go around. Being a puppy, Robert decided to stop walking. So I stopped walking too because, had I continued walking, it would have caused me to drag a young PUG puppy who was wearing a chain collar. Yes, the clinician pretty much insisted that everyone wear a chain choke collar. To those of us using a Resco, "we would never be successful" in training loose leash walking. (Mind you, chains are NEVER recommended for pugs and definitely not for pugs who have a handler who is inexperienced using choke chains.) So, here I am, with the clinician having put this foreign collar on my puppy just seconds before, worried (petrified) that I might have a "Q" and not a "P" and might choke my puppy to death. (I've never been good at arts and crafts and such, mimicking the teacher. And, even though my dad and both grand dads were engineers, I'm absolutely horrid at figuring out how things work, mechanically speaking.)
(While on this subject of choke chains, I've heard of so many pugs who have either damaged their throats or been choked to death. And, since the workshop, I've learned of a young, small dog (terrier) who attended one of these workshops previously and ended up with a damaged throat which even surgery couldn't correct. Simply because this owner blindly followed this clinician instead of trusting his/her guts, that poor puppy is now ruined for life and, probably a very exceptional show dog's career down the drain before it ever began.)
So, yes, I stopped walking when Robert stopped, despite the clinician (and audience) chanting "keep walking! keep walking! don't stop". My refusal, and my questions, caused the clinician to say "pick up your dog and sit down" … (he benched us!) … and the money we paid for the remaining 4 hours of a working spot was washed down the drain.
I don't think I would have had the courage to refuse to keep walking had I not remembered something I learned years ago at workshop presented by Norma Smith. She said, no matter how important someone is, no matter how many people tell you to do something, ALWAYS advocate for your dog, and if you EVER feel anything is not safe or to your dog's best advantage, don't do it. Always trust your gut. So, if the Queen of England herself tells us to do something we don't feel is to our dogs' best advantage, we will not do it. Our dogs come first. Always. Always. Always.
So, sadly, a lot of money was washed down the drain as I had to simply observe the remaining 4 hours of the workshop, when I had paid for a working spot participant. Also, most of the $250 I paid for a private lesson (in addition to the very expensive workshop itself) was lost since the clinician only gave us about 10 minutes of the hour lesson. He actually cut part of Lilly's coat (I have only ever lightly trimmed the back side and tail like most pug people do ... never the coat itself!) using a tool he invented which is not available for public sale. He is a master groomer so there is NO way I could replicate his work and finish her coat on my own. So, because she was half-groomed and looked ridiculous, I had to miss the show the following weekend we had entered. More money down the drain as we can't get the entry fees refunded.
When I registered for the workshop, I thought it was a bit odd that it stated the clinician had the right to excuse anyone or any dog for any reason with absolutely NO refund. That should have been the clue right there that he was a Koolaid teacher.
But, you know what? If I had it to do all over again, I would STILL choose to stop walking, disregarding the clinician's directives, even if it meant being kicked out of the class. Why? Because I would go home with a dog whose throat was not damaged like the terrier puppy, or with a knee that was not wrenched like another participant in the workshop.
So, while this very cynical post is a bit atypical from my usual posts (sorry for venting), I shared it in hopes that future Pickwick Puppy owners will have the courage to always trust their gut when it comes to their dog's safety and happiness. If you think something might harm your dog, or have any concerns at all, don't do it. They'll probably try to make you feel foolish and stupid, but don't do it. You might have to lose some money and just walk away, but don't do it.
Remember, you are your dog's champion. You are the only one who truly cares about his or her safety and happiness. Don't let anyone, no matter how famous or important or "knowledgeable" an expert they seem to be, ever force you or your dog to do anything you don't feel is in your or your dog's best interest. You are your dog's only true champion.
Robert enjoyed his first puppy matches in Tallahassee, Florida. Not only did he hold his stacks beautifully, but this amazing 5.5 month old won the toy group, even beating out older and more seasoned dogs. Now, for his tricks title which we're going for first, perhaps we should add "hop like a bunny on the down and back" to his other list of skills. We just love Robert so much and are so grateful to Kevin and Kristy for sharing him with us. He'll start his "official" shows after a bit more training and once he is old enough ... aiming for April to be his first time in the "real" show ring .... but we think his new registered name is a perfect fit …. "Hill Country's I'll Bee Your Shining Star".
Man, did Pickwick Pugs win a lot of ribbons at the Tallahassee shows! Conformation … Rally … Tricks … Puppy match. It was an awesome 5 days.
Wednesday, Champion Peachtree's Kirkcudbright Kayleigh, RN pranced around the Rally Obedience ring and earned the next level title (and a gorgeous ribbon!)
Pickwick's Thrill on Blueberry Hill (Lilly) won Best of Breed, Winners Bitch, Best of Winners out of Bred By Class:
Thursday, Lilly won Best of Breed, Winners Bitch, Best of Winners again out of Bred By Class:
Friday, owner had to work so the pugs enjoyed resting and training for Saturday. Then, on Saturday, KK earned her Canine Good Citizenship Award with flying colors (an amazing sit stay while owner left room for 3 minutes and perfect prance in heel position through the "crowd"). And Miss Dior passed her Novice Trick test with 10 amazing tricks. Here's her Minion routine:
Sunday, Lilly and Miss Dior enjoyed taking advantage of the Heart Clinic at the show. They both charmed the cardiologist and got great reports. Another health test passed … now for the OFA July 2020 once they turn 2 years of age, and they will have cleared all health tests. Then they'll have to start studying for their calculus test.
We're headed to a dog show this coming weekend …. it's going to be a big one in Atlanta, Georgia (with 37? pugs entered in conformation!!) KK is entered in Rally Obedience 2 days and Lilly in Bred By Exhibitor 3 days. USUALLY, (almost always!) the conformation pugs are scheduled at 8 AM (ugh) pretty much every day. For some reason, pugs are later this year so conformation is going to conflict with rally. At least "on paper". So, we're hoping that the rally runs late or …. a miracle happens … since we can't be in 2 places at once. In hopes that we can make it work (perhaps Jeff will show Lilly and I'll handle KK)
In preparation for rally, KK worked on her sit stays last night. This has always been SO challenging for her because she is SO motivated and wants to please. Her focus is amazing and she doesn't want to take her eyes off me for a second! We tried out this new game we learned on www.robertcabral.com and it is so fun. Since I had sidewalk chalk in my piano studio, I added an "actual" clock on the ground to make it more fun (for me at least). I think I'll utilize this technic for some smaller circles for "tighter" 270 and 360 turns etc.
The clock is a BIG circle which made it very challenging for KK … I was pretty far away from her. Usually, when we practice "sit/down walk around dog" I'm right beside her … so close that I can keep my "stay" finger in front of her face. As a former show dog, she's GREAT at focusing on "bait hand" pointer finger, so we cheated a bit. That's the least I can do for her as she sacrificed her 1st 4 years of life doing conformation stuff and having puppies :)
That's one reason I love rally so much …. free to "design" commands as well as encourage the dog verbally. It's pug … and trainer friendly. I've never been one to follow rules rigidly. When I cook, for example, I hardly ever follow a recipe 100%. Just something about me. So, it's fun to "design" commands. The problem, however, is that I need to be more consistent with my physical and verbal commands for the dogs' sake. That's why we'll probably never be the best team out there headed to nationals and all … but we have lots of fun AND sometimes win some blue ribbons just because we're having fun.
If we can swing the rally AND conformation at the same time … somehow find a clone in the next 5 days … AND if KK receives a qualifying score..... she'll get another title and advance to a new level in Rally!
I really hope we can finish sweet Lilly this weekend. Here is a photo of her a year ago ... headed home after a show in Florida (where she took 2nd place to Miss Dior, as she usually did). She's about 18 months old now and of course finally "grew into" her ears and filled out. She truly is divine so cross fingers that another judge will recognize how exceptional she is.
She has all her points she needs for a championship and one major, (thank you judge Randy Garren)…..just needs one more major win. She is a gorgeous pug and SO sweet and SO smart. A "thoughtful" pug as the temperament evaluator described her. Not shy, but "thoughtful". (Love these euphemisms). Did I mention she has pigment to die for? Yet she still has a light coat as well with a nice trace. She's just not a natural show girl and would rather be the chess player and philosopher in the corner versus the chick behind the karaoke mike (who would be Miss Dior).
The puppies (our "keepers" from the July, 2019 litter out of KK and Bazinga) are almost 6 months old now and happy, healthy, and thriving praise the Lord! They will be coming to Atlanta for "socialization" and to experience the loud, smelly, and sometimes a bit overwhelming venue of the Atlanta Expo Center. Just to "hangout" and be loved. A tip from Robert Cabral: feed them there! So, since we'll be staying in the camper right outside the show building, I'll plan on feeding them dinner ... one at a time ... in the show arena. As well as yummy treats and toys as usual. :) Here they are, January 2020, almost 6 months old.
Wow, what fun we had at the fabulous 5-day cluster in Mobile … the Gulf Coast Classic Dog Show was spectacular and Annie and Lilly both did so well. Annie won several Reserve Winners Bitches in her 12-18 month class, and Lilly won Winners Bitch at 5 different show as well as Best of Breed Owner Handler out of the Bred By Class. Thank you so much to the amazing judges who appreciated how special these girls are and for your kindness, thoroughness, and positive atmosphere your provided in the ring for dogs and handlers alike: Patricia Trotter, Charles Trotter, Polly Smith, Charles Olvis, and Dana Cline. Lilly just needs 2 more points now to finish her Championship, then we are going to pursue Scent work (as per her request lol! She loves it (conformation not so much but she tries for me because she loves me and wants to please!). She and her sister, Princess Buttercup, are enjoying their classes with Cindy at "Use Your Nose". Look what this fabulous sport can lead to! https://www.wbrc.com/story/38575497/cancer-detecting-dogs-sniff-for-clinical-partners/
Here are some scenes from last weekend's Mobile dog show!