Thursday, August 24, 2017

Showtime -- The Committee

One of the first things you need to do before putting on a dog show (or trial) is set up a Show Committee to run the whole shebang. To keep things moving smoothly (and satisfy the AKC) the Show Committee needs to select a Show Chairman. This person’s duties include:
  • Proper planning of the show
  • Ensuring all AKC is submitted in time (and there’s A LOT of paperwork)
  • Securing/contracting venue
  • Soliciting/contracting judges
  • Overseeing all sub-committees (Advertising, Catalog, Concessions, Grounds & Equipment, Hospitality, Parking, Stewards, Trophies/Awards, etc.)
  • Coordinating with other clubs if the show is part of a cluster
  • Hiring stewards (if applicable)
  • Verifying insurance and permits are in order
  • Getting the premium out on time
  • Contracting an official photographer
  • Developing a Disaster and Emergency Plan
  • Preparing for any misconduct hearings (while simultaneously praying there are none!)
  • Meeting with the local AKC representative
  • Ensuring ring is set up properly
  • Putting out any last minute fires (there are always fires)
  • . . . Plus a million other things as required
Next, the Show Committee needs to select a Show Secretary. A club may choose to hire a professional superintendent/show secretary (i.e. MB-F, Onofrio, etc.) to handle the all the paperwork. However, they’re expensive. A small club like ours usually chooses someone from within the club to handle things. The secretary’s duties include:
  • Developing and sending out premiums (entry forms)
  • Ensuring entries are properly filled out and fees are included
  • Organizing entries into proper classes
  • Assigning armband numbers to dogs
  • Developing official show catalog
  • Passing out armbands at show
  • Maintaining a correctly marked “Official Show Catalog”
  • Filling out/sending in official judges' reports to the AKC
  • . . . And a whole bunch of things I don't know about yet!
 According to the 2017 AKC Show Manual:
Individuals should be appointed to committees based on experience, the workloads they can handle, and the time they can apportion to each task. Candidates for committee positions must familiarize themselves with the specific duties and responsibilities involved.
Doesn’t that sound nice? Unfortunately, when you have a small, limited experience volunteer base like we do, you just take what you can get and hope not to screw up too badly. It may not be ideal, but it makes for interesting blog posts!

So for those of you following along on our journey: RK has taken on the responsibility of Show Chair and I have agreed to be Show Secretary. Are we nuts? Probably. I'll keep you updated on our decent into madness progress. But for now, I'm trying not to freak out over Step 3: Judges! TTFN, -- K

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Repeat Customers

Brown dog with yellow eyes -- NOT Bear
One of the perks of working in a small town is that you deal with the same people all the time. This allows officers to develop relationships with residents. Already knowing the history of a situation, neighborhood, or animal can speed up service time. It can also be exhausting. Dealing with the same lonely, irresponsible, irrational or downright crazy people over and over has caused quite a few headaches.

A while back I told you about Ms. Russo and her cat Snowball. Well, she's back -- this time with her dog Bear.

In a nutshell: Bear is missing. She left him in the yard while she was running errands. Bear got out and was found by a neighbor six blocks away. The neighbor put Bear back in the yard, but he got out again before Ms. Russo returned. He's been missing for two weeks now. Ms. Russo calls at least twice a day. She'll spend ten minutes telling me about how much she misses her dog and spend another fifteen minutes about her health problems. She repeats herself often, but rarely makes sense. Here are some of the things she's said:
  • No, she doesn't have any pictures of her dog. The phone company made her change phones three months ago and she can't get pictures off the old one. No, she can't transfer them to her computer because Hurricane Matthew ruined it last October. And no, she can't go to Walgreens and use the kiosk because she's dying of cancer. (BTW, she's been dying of cancer -- and telling me about it -- for 10 years.)
  • Bear is a brownish lab/pit mix. You can't miss him, he has "yella eyes." She has never seen a dog with yellow eyes so he's special. She asked me if I've ever seen a dog with yellow eyes and then called me I liar when I said yes.
  • She doesn't know how old Bear is (maybe two) and says he's 140 pounds. No, she's not exaggerating about the weight. No, she doesn't have a vet I can call to get additional information. She doesn't have time to go to the vet, she's dying of cancer.
  • No, Bear's not neutered, and she's not going to do it either because "he has the most beautiful balls you've ever seen on a dog." (Ick!) No, she doesn't plan on breeding him, but thinks its a shame to "remove something so beautiful."
  • How DARE I suggest she widen her search area because Bear could be out looking for girls in heat? He's a puppy, he wouldn't do that! (I told her that she may think he's a puppy, but his testicles say he's a full-grown, intact male.)
  • Yes, the dog was wearing a collar and tags. The address is correct, but the phone number is wrong because the phone company made her change number, remember? No, she hasn't had time to buy a new tag -- she's dying of cancer.
  • She doesn't know if he has a microchip because "he was a gift." She wouldn't say from whom. No vet records accompanied the dog.
  • He's worth $40,000 because he's her service dog. No, she can't tell you what services he's been trained to perform. Nor can she explain why she left her service dog in her yard.
  • It's not her fault that her dog got out. People keep opening her gate. The police should be doing something about that!
  • It's not possible that her dog jumped over the 4-foot chain link fence. He's a good boy. She tells him to guard the house when she leaves, and she knows he lays in front of the gate the entire time she's gone. When I reminded her that it's August -- in Florida -- and suggested Bear would be safer and more comfortable inside she changed the subject. She knows that I know she's a hoarder. 
  • Bear has never gotten out before When pressed, she admitted to: the time that the other ACO wrote her a ticket; the time her neighbor called animal control about her dog running loose; and the time she called the police because the guy across the street had her dog. (BTW, "That guy has a female pit bull. He just built a 6' wooden fence and put up 'Beware of Dog' signs. That's suspicious. The police should go see if he has Bear. I bet he wants to mate them.")
  • And my favorite: maybe the neighbor who found Bear last time came back and stole him. She keeps calling them but they hang up on her.
It's Buddy now
Ms. Russo tied a leash to her gate. If we find Bear she wants us to bring him home and attach him to the leash because she's "never gone long" -- despite the fact that he got out twice during her last trip. I told her no. Obviously the dog is too smart for her fence. We will hold Bear in our kennel until we give him to her directly. She's upset because that would involve a ticket for impound and boarding -- and she's dying of cancer.

Ms. Russo constantly tells me that doesn't understand why Animal Control can't find her dog. She pays taxes! She also can't see where she has any culpability. 

My personal feeling: Bear realized that this woman is a nut job -- dogs aren't stupid -- and when he saw an opening he ran as fast as he could. He has changed his name to Buddy and is living somewhere on the other side of town. -- K

P.S. As usual, the story is true but names and identifying facts have been changed to cover my ass. Also, "Buddy" is wearing a disguise for his protection.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

New Class

We have good news and bad news on the rally front.
  • Bad news: The Tuesday Training group is taking a break. The weather has been horrendous. When it's not raining it's unbelievably hot and humid, making everything difficult. Even worse, there's a children's soccer league using the park now, making parking nearly impossible. Hopefully we can start back up when things cool down.
  • Good news: K-9 Obedience Club started a new novice rally class on Monday nights, under cover with giant fans. Last Monday was our first class and Jedi and I learned a lot.

Class was more formal than what we were doing in the park. It was set up more like a trial would be. We had a ring with regulation signs and the dogs were crated when not in the ring. I was afraid Jedi would be an idiot. Alas, the idiot was me. I need to memorize the signs and learn to make better use of the walk though. Jedi performs better when we move at a brisk pace. When I slow down -- or stop because I can't remember my left from my right -- he loses focus.

Surprisingly, Jedi knows more than I thought he did. He didn't forge ahead, his fronts were relatively straight and he executed the left finish like a pro. Even the teacher was amazed! Also, we were one of the few teams that knew the left about turn. (We've been practicing.)

We learned a new sign! This is rally sign #35, Call Front, Return to Heel. It looks difficult, but really isn't. How's that for a change? It goes like this: We walk up to the sign and stop. I back up and call Jedi into front position. I tell him to stay, walk around him and return to heel position. From there we walk back the same direction we came from. So yes, it's just like the picture -- if you're any good at interpreting pictures (which I am not).

There are a bunch of signs for me to learn! Beginning rally teams need to know 36 different signs. At a trial there will be 10-15 of them in the ring. Some of the signs involve weaving and spiraling around orange cones. A team will lose points if they touch or knock over cones. This part is challenging for clumsy women and long-bodied dogs!

We're making progress, slowly but surely. We'd do better if I was a better, more consistent trainer. Fortunately, Jedi doesn't care. I don't know when we'll be able to start competing. It seems that every semi-local trial conflicts with a nosework or scent work trial. But we're having fun -- together -- and that's the most important thing. -- K

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Showtime -- What, When and Where

As I've mentioned, we're putting on a dog show. RK and I have never done this before. It's proving to be more difficult than I think it should be. As a blogger, I naturally looked to the internet for guidance. I can't find anything offering useful information for a clueless newbie. So, we're doing this blind -- eek! And in true blogger fashion, I'm sharing my journey (much like the A to Z of Dog Shows series several years ago). I hope that someone else will find my efforts helpful -- maybe even encouraging. Let me know!

I've been combing through extremely dry booklets and manuals for weeks, trying to make sense of it all. My brain hurts! I've labeled this Step 1, even though these things were set up by a previous show committee. [Note: We're holding a conformation show, though much of this step would apply to performance trials as well.]

What:

First, you must determine what kind of show you're holding. Conformation shows come in different varieties. A Specialty Show is a dog show of only one breed, given by a specialty club. An All-Breed Show is a dog show where all (or almost all) the different purebred breeds are being shown and judged simultaneously. A Limited-Breed Show has more than one breed but less than an all-breed (i.e. a herding club hosts a show for all the herding breeds).

The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida is a specialty club. We're holding two specialty shows back-to-back on one day -- Friday, April 6, 2018. The Greater Orange Park Dog Club is an all-breed club. They are holding back-to-back all-breed shows April 7 and April 8. Currently they are doing the same thing RK and I are, but on a much larger scale.

When:

The AKC has strict rules regarding show dates. However, said rules are not clearly written in one centralized, easy-to-use location. It's enough to give a girl a headache! 

Chapter 2, Section 3 of Rules Applying to Dog Shows states:
Each club or association which she'll hold the show in its territory at least once in every two consecutive calendar years she'll have the sole show privilege in the city, town or district of its assigned territory.
I read that several times and keep thinking WTF? First of all, why did the AKC feel the need to underscore "in its territory?" I can't find anything anywhere defining territorial boundaries. 

That aside, the AKC divides the year up into 52 weekends. Weekend 1 is the first full weekend of January. Clubs are assigned the weekend number. For example, my club has weekend 14. No other German Shepherd group within 200 miles can hold a German shepherd specialty show on that weekend without the express written permission from the German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida.

Where:

Once a date is secured, a club must find a place to hold the show. There are many things to take into consideration, including:
  • Cost of rental. This is a biggie! A club can’t spent its entire budget on the venue. As you will see soon enough, there are a lot of expenses when putting on a dog show.
  • Location. Is it in the club’s geographical location (wherever that may be)? Can out of town exhibitors find it easily? Are there dog-friendly hotels nearby?
  • Type. Is it an indoor site? Outdoor site? Combination of the two?
  • Size. Is it large enough to hold all necessary rings, exhibitors and spectators? Enough space for x-pens? Is there room for vendors?
  • Parking. Is there enough parking for the judges, volunteers, exhibitors and spectators? Is there room/hook-ups for motor homes? Where is parking in relation to the rings? 
  • Conditions/Usability. Is there grass? If so, will it be mowed beforehand? Is the area level and free of tripping hazards? Is it clean? Is there adequate light, ventilation, heat, or A/C? Is there access to water?
  • Toilets. Are there flushing toilets on site? If not, is there room to set up porta-potties?
  • Other amenities. For example, indoor space with electrical for grooming, kitchen use for concessions, covered pavilions, available trash cans/dumpsters.
If a club is moving to a new venue, the site must be approved by the AKC beforehand. The 2017 AKC Show Manual states that:
Any site not previously used for an all-breed or group club event must be visited by an AKC Executive Field Representative prior to approval by the Event Operations Department. A site diagram (detailed layout) must be provided at the time the event application is submitted to the AKC’s Event Operations Department with ring size and aisle widths and location of all amenities. If there are possible problems that may occur with the parking, a layout and parking plan should also be submitted. Approval from the Events Operations Department must be attained if any change of date or venue location is required.
This is a lot to take into consideration. Fortunately for us, we've had an agreement with the Greater Orange Park Dog Club for several years. They've jumped through all the hoops to secure a location (the St. Johns County Fairgrounds) for weekend #14. Several specialty clubs have subcontracted to use the grounds the Friday before. It works out for everybody.
  • The Specialty Clubs get a nice location with decent amenities. Honestly, our club wouldn't be able to afford the location on our own.
  • The All-Breed Club can offset some of their expenses and/or get additional volunteers (our agreement requires man-hours in lieu payment). Plus, there are people at the show grounds on Friday as they set up.
  • Exhibitors have the opportunity to show in two specialty shows (Friday) and two all-breed shows (Saturday and Sunday) giving them four chances to win in a three day period. That's awesome! This increases the likelihood of entries for both clubs.
  • The larger number of entries warrants a higher point value for the winner. Since we've had this arrangement, our specialty shows have all been major-pointed shows -- and that makes everybody happy! (See here for an explanation of points.)
And as far as I can tell, that's Step 1 in a nutshell. Tired yet? Wait until you see Step 2! TTFN, -- K

P.S. If you have experience putting on a show -- successfully or not -- PLEASE chime in. Don't tell RK, but I think we're in over our heads here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Here's Your Sign


Lowes is Pet-Friendly! 
It says so right on the door.

Remember, when visiting pet-friendly establishments:
  1. Be a good ambassador. If your dog isn't well-behaved, having a bad day or your business doesn't allow to you focus enough attention on him, please leave him at home. Your behavior (and that of your dog) directly affects the rest of us.
  2. Say thank you. Make sure to tell the manager/owner that you are there because of the dog friendly policy. If it's a chain (like Lowes) find their corporate Webpage/Facebook/Twitter and thank them there too. A well-written thank you can make a big impact.
  3. Spend money. They're businesses, not charities. These establishments need to make money to stay open, especially small Mom & Pop operations. Yes, you may be able to get something at Walmart a little cheaper. But isn't it worth a few dollars to support a dog-friendly place? Money talks my friends. Ours should be saying "We want more dog-friendly places."
  4. Spread the word. We all have dog friends. And if your well-behaved, thankful, money-spending friends tell their well-behaved, thankful, money-spending friends . . . Just think of the possibilities!
It's Wordless Wednesday, so I'm going to stop talking. Hop around below and see what others are sharing. And speaking of sharing -- please let me know of any dog-friendly places you know about. Talk to you later, we have some shopping to do! -- K

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Goodbye Z

Sad news from here: Jedi's mother crossed the rainbow bridge. She was a sweet dog and will be missed dearly. It's weird speaking of her in past tense. I will always be grateful to her for the wonderful pup she gave me. I'll think of her every time Jedi does the sneaky "scratch my butt" move that Zasha was famous for.


Golden Breeds Zente Zasha
4/2/2008 - 7/29/2017

It's been a bad summer for GSD club dogs. We also lost Colonel, Mikey, Tasha and Tundra. No matter how much time we have with our dogs, it's never enough. And with that, I'm going to log off and love on my dogs. I hope you do the same. -- K

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rosie

During our South Carolina trip I finally got to meet Rosie the White. I'd heard so much about her. She is my cousins' white German shepherd, and she's absolutely beautiful.

Here are a few things about white German shepherds that you may not know:
  • White German shepherds are not albinos. The color is the result a recessive gene. 
  • The white gene has been present since the beginning of German shepherds. A white herding dog named Grief was the grandfather of Max von Stephanitz's foundation dog.
  • In 1933 white coats were deemed a breed standard disqualification by the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany.
  • In 1968 white coated German shepherds were officially banned from competing in the conformation ring by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
  • In 1998 white German shepherds were officially disqualified from the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) breed standard and banned from the conformation ring. 
  • White German shepherds are allowed to compete in all other dog sports including obedience, rally, herding, agility and tracking.
  • Surprisingly, white German shepherds are still registered with both the AKC and the CKC. If both parents -- regardless of color -- are registered with the organization as German Shepherds, all puppies -- regardless of color -- are fully registerable as a German shepherd dog.
  • The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized white German shepherds in 1999 and they are allowed to compete in conformation ring. I think the International All-Breed Canine Association (IABCA) also recognizes white GSDs.
  • The German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) oversees the breed standard for AKC German Shepherd dogs. White German shepherds are a heated topic and the club argues amongst itself whether or not to allow them on a regular basis. 

There are clubs world-wide dedicated to the white German shepherd. The White German Shepherd Dog Club International, Inc. even holds national conformations shows. A simple Google search will provide you with hours of reading material.

There are breeders who specifically breed whites as well. And just like every other breed, it's buyer beware! The quality of these puppies can vary greatly. Do your research. Ask for health and temperament tests. My cousins did their research and found a great breeder. Rosie is wonderful. She is a healthy, well-balanced, even-temperament dog. Rosie is definitely a GSD. She takes her job as "family dog" seriously, providing love and protection to two active children.

Finally, Rosie has a famous littermate! He was all over the news in 2015. Her brother, appropriately named Lieutenant Dan, was born without a foot. The special puppy was given to a girl without feet. You can read the story and see pictures here. Warning: grab some Kleenex first. You'll need it.

OK, enough gushing over my cousins' dog. Jedi says it's time to get back to my own dogs. TTFN, -- K

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Who's At The Door?

Last week I told you about the strange couple that's been seen around town. Yesterday I received this picture from the dispatcher. The peahens stood outside the police department for several minutes before moving on.


Do you think they wanted to talk to Animal Control? We'll never know because it's Wordless Wednesday! Hop around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K


Saturday, August 5, 2017

More Crazy Work Stories

Not the ducks in question
Many of you have written me saying that you absolutely love the crazy work stories. Lucky for you, they're not in short supply. It seems that work has been extra crazy lately. Here are some of the calls I've had recently:

A woman called the police dispatcher to report ducks in her pool. She was frantic, afraid that they would drown. I arrived to find a female mallard and ducklings swimming in a pool that obviously hadn't been chlorinated in a very long time. The woman was upset because every time she'd scoop a duckling out with a net, it would jump right back in. (I DID NOT say something snarky.) I assured her that the mother would not let her babies drown, and the best thing to do would be leave them alone. However, to make her feel better we secured a float to the side of the pool so the ducklings could climb out. I would bet my last paycheck that they didn't use it.

Who else keeps newborn kittens on their desk?
One of my crazy cat ladies found a litter of kittens but couldn't find the mother. She said that she couldn't bottle feed them either because she has a job now. So, I picked up three two-day-old kittens. They couldn't stay in my kennel or else they would have starved to death. I couldn't find a foster family to take them until the following day so the babies came home with me for the night. It was awful. Kittens need to be fed every 3 hours. They also need to be stimulated to relieve themselves. Mama cats use their tongues; Kelley used a warm washcloth. Kitten poop is stinky, sticky and gross. Jedi and Roxy wouldn't leave the kittens alone. Jedi was the worst! I don't understand how he can smell anise on a Q-tip from 3 feet away, but must stick his nose on a kitten to figure out what it is. Fortunately, the kittens are now with a more qualified foster family.

Animal Control deals with the City ordinances related to domestic animals -- leash laws, feral cats, barking, etc. In theory, wildlife calls are limited to scoop and run (i.e. sick raccoons) or the immediate safety of the public. I'm not trained or have the equipment for most wildlife, so in moist case my office refers people to wildlife specialists. I DEFINITELY don't do snake calls. That being said, I had a snake call last week. A hysterical woman called 911. The dispatcher sent me to the address to see if I could calm her down and advise her. Ahhh, the joys of working in a small town. I arrived on scene to a woman standing in the middle of the living room holding a broom. Across the room was a large, sliding glass door. Jammed up against the door frame was a 3-foot garter snake who looked just as terrified as the homeowner. I was able to open the sliding glass door and use the broom to guide the snake outside. I have never seen a snake move so fast. The way I see it, all of us wanted the same thing, but I was the only one calm enough to think it through. I wish all calls were that easy!

I had a woman call me saying that an opossum was badly tangled in a soccer net and she couldn't get it out. She wasn't exaggerating. It was a cheap, child's net that folds easily for storage. The opossum had several pieces of the net wrapped around his neck and front legs. One leg was wrapped so tightly that the foot was beginning to swell. every time someone approached the opossum he would panic and flop around, tangling himself even worse. Thankfully, the homeowner was more concerned about the animal than the net and had no problem with me cutting her son's toy to shreds. I started with the head. The poor animal probably thought I was trying to cut his head off and kept biting at the scissors. He nearly bit me twice. I ended up shoving the end of a catch pole in his mouth to keep him occupied. Once his head was free I put the catch pole around his neck. This allowed me to safely position him while I cut the net from around his legs. He wasn't cooperating! He kept grabbing at the net with his dexterous feet and prehensile tail, tangling himself more as I was working. Fortunately, I was faster than he was and after 10 minutes he was freed. He stared at me for a moment or two and then ran into the woods -- without even a thank you.

I got an email from Code Enforcement. A resident sent in a complaint stating that the neighbor behind him didn't clean her back yard and he was "tired of smelling dog shit." To be honest, there's not much I can do about it. Our ordinances state that I can write a ticket to someone who doesn't pick up poop on public property -- and even on a  neighbor's property! -- but I have no authority to compel a person to clean their own property. That being said, I investigated anyway. I started with the complainant, who wasn't home. Then I went to the house in question. A teenage girl was home. I gave her my card and asked her to have her mom call me when she got home (I'm limited on what I can do/say to minors). THEN I went next door . . . And this is where the job gets weird. I knocked on the door and said:
Good Morning. I'm Officer Kelley with Small Beach Town Animal Control. I get a lot strange calls and investigate them all. That being said, may I go into your backyard and sniff for dog poop?
Yep. I did. Long story short: Didn't smell poop. Dog Owner cleaned her yard, then called to bitch about her neighbor. Complainant called (he saw me on his home surveillance) and bitched about his neighbor and his impotent HOA, the ones who should be handling this. And Next Door Neighbor knows Hysterical Snake Lady and she told him all about the incident. Luckily, she had nice things to say about me. Everybody knows everybody in Small Beach Town -- it's enough to make a girl paranoid.

All this happened in a two week period. During that time I also had cases involving: peacocks, two dogs with microchips (one was untraceable), feral cats in a trap, National Night Out, a dog bite at the pet store and crossing guard recertification. (That's one of my many "other duties as required." Click the link if you want to see some of the other weird stuff I do.) Like I've said before, this job seldom boring. -- K

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Not a Peep

I hate Peeps. You know, those gross sugar-coated marshmallow things that are sold every Easter. Even worse, they're now showing up during other holiday seasons in different shapes -- Christmas trees, pumpkins, hearts, etc. I've seen different flavors too, like chocolate, strawberry and cotton candy. Doesn't matter though, they're still disgusting. (What's that saying about polishing a turd?)


I have friends who think my Peep aversion is hilarious -- and they take every advantage to Peep me. I've received multiple boxes of Peeps in the mail. One friend made an elaborate Peep tray for a potluck. Another slipped a Peep into Jedi's Easter basket at a charity egg hunt. I was opening eggs expecting dog treats and found a marshmallow monstrosity instead. Blech. No need to imagine my reaction, it was posted all over Facebook.


The worst part: during the sugar-bunny bombardment, I was given a stuffed Peep toy. Jedi found it -- and he loves it! He carries it around the house and uses it as a pillow. It's so freakin' cute! I don't have the heart to take it away from him.


I think I'll change tactics and tell my friends that I hate wine and puppies now. Think they'll shower me with shepherds and shiraz instead?


Believe or not, it's Wordless Wednesday. Yes, I've used waaay too many words for a "wordless" post, but hopefully my punny title will earn me a pass. Anyway, hop around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K