Friday, September 22, 2017

Showtime -- Judges

We're still putting on a dog show! So are you following along? We've secured a date and location and have formed the Show Committee. Whew. Now for another toughie: finding judges.

I discussed what it takes to become an AKC show judge here. It’s not an easy thing to do. Each judge starts out with a specific breed. It’s most likely a breed that he/she has been showing and breeding for decades. Later, judges may work to have other breeds added to their “approved list.” However, a judge’s primary breed is always known, and they are highly sought after for specialty shows (like ours).

Ideally, a club starts soliciting judges a year or more out. We had less than nine months and we need two of them. It’s stressful. Besides finding GSD judges -- not judges that also judges GSDs -- we're looking for judges who are available, attractive and affordable.


The AKC puts limits on how often a judge can judge. A judge cannot judge the same breed at two shows held within 30 days and 200 straight-line miles of each other.

The AKC also restricts who a judge can judge. He/she cannot judge:
  • A dog that the judge or his/her immediate family members owns.
  • A dog that the judge or his/her immediate family members has owned, handled in the ring more than twice, sold or boarded within one year prior to the show.
  • A dog or the owner of a dog for which the judge has provided handling and presentation instructions classes within one year of the show.
  • A dog being shown by professional handlers that the judge or his/her immediate family members have used within the four months of the show.
  • Anyone or a dog belonging to anyone who may give the impression of an unfair advantage, including relatives, employees, employers, co-owners and traveling companion.
The dog world is smaller than you'd think. We shared our potential judges list with club members and asked for possible conflicts. Several of our prospects were disqualified because of relationships they had with club members.


The 2017 AKC Show Manual says that “The judges panel is one of the most important factors to consider when planning an event.” Like it or not, judges bring (or repel) participants. Things to keep in mind when looking at judges:
  • What can they judge? For a specialty show like ours, we want a German shepherd judge. However, an all breed show would want someone who can judge multiple breeds. Even more desirable, would be someone who could judge groups or Best in Show.
  • Reputation. Does a judge focus on movement? Is he rough while inspecting the bite? Does she prefer typey dogs? Professional handlers and veteran fanciers know these things and will avoid showing to judges they think won't give their dogs a fair chance. I have a DNS (do not show) list.
  • Newness. Handlers don't want to show to the same judges all the time. Since a dog has to earn majors under two separate judges to make champion, there's no point for a dog to be shown to a judge that is already given it a major.

Each judge’s contract is different. Some judges charge a flat fee, some charge per dog and others want expenses only. Those expenses often include air fare, a hotel room, ground transportation (mileage or rental car) and a couple meals.

Ideally, a club would bring in well respected judges from out of state to maximize interest. However, that can be expensive. And there's no guarantee that there will be enough entries to cover the cost. Our club had a bad year in 2015 and lost $800 on the show. We're still feeling the effects from that show!

Who knew finding judges would be so complicated? Not me! It's stressed me out big time, but I've got good news. RK was able to secure our number one and number two choices. Both judges live within driving distance; one is in Georgia and the other has a winter home in Florida. Both judges asked for expenses only. Even better, they know each other, like each other and were thrilled to hear who was judging. Whew. How's that for good fortune? We have a little time to breathe until the next big step -- The Premium.

More later, but for now I need to relax!-- K 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

More Movie Reviews

It’s been a while since I reviewed movies. There are a couple reasons for that:
  • Most of the movies I watch don’t involve dogs, so they’re not appropriate for a dog blog and
  • Most dog-related movies stink.
That being said, here are three dog-related movies that I’ve seen lately.

A Dog’s Purpose. I almost didn’t see this movie. Three weeks before the film opened TMZ aired secret video of a German shepherd supposedly being forced into the water during filming. Do you remember the controversy? Several days later it was discovered that the heavily edited video was an animal rights stunt. The Hollywood Reporter has a good breakdown of events in case you’re interested. The story is about a dog who lives, die, and is reincarnated (multiple times!) into another dog. Each time the dog is trying to figure out his purpose. The story is told from the dog's point of view.
My opinion: I’d give the film a resounding “Not bad.” I really like Josh Gad (the voice of the dogs). However, I'm not a big fan of reincarnation stories. If you're interested in this story, I think the book was better than the movie. (I talked about the book here.)

The Dog Lover. This one piqued my interest before it came out. It was supposed to have a limited theatre release and I had planned to go. However, the movie was silently pulled. I actually bought the DVD so I could see the movie. The story is about a woman from an animal rights group who takes a job at a large kennel with the mission of finding dirt on a supposed puppy mill. As time goes on she discovers that the kennel/breeder is not what she expected. Unfortunately, things go bad anyway. The plot is loosely based on the real-life case of Paul Upton and his German shepherds. The movie’s intention is to show that things aren’t as black and white as organizations like the HSUS want people to think.
My opinion: The message was good. The acting was mediocre and the production was obviously low budget. I’m super annoyed at the portrayal of animal control -- AGAIN. However, I recommend you watch the movie anyway.

Megan Leavy. The trailer for this movie was misleading. Fortunately, the actual story is richer than I expected. The movie follows a female Marine and her detection dog, Max, in the Middle East. Megan decides not to reenlist, but Max belongs to the Marines. This movie is based on a real story. Pictures of the real Megan and Max, along with a follow are shared during the credits. As a Navy veteran, a GSD owner and someone actively training in canine scent work, I found a lot to identify with. There was one scene where I yelled out "Trust your dog!" (My trainer would be proud.)
My opinion: Definitely worth watching. Have Kleenex ready. Even Hubby got teary-eyed a couple times.

And finally, did you know about the website Does the Dog Die? It’s a real thing! Type in the name of a movie and there are dozens of reviews about it. More importantly, everybody tells you up front if the dog dies or not. I have friends who won’t even watch a movie until they’ve checked the site. (I wish I had known about this before renting John Wick!)

I’m done ruining things for you. Enjoy the rest of your day! -- K

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Stupid People Pay My Mortgage

Sorry I've been absent lately. Between a lingering chest cold and Hurricane Irma, I haven't been able to form a cohesive thought. Don't worry though, the stupidity has continued. Here are a few head scratchers that surfaced during my absence.

This picture was posted on a Facebook GSD group with the follow question:
"I noticed a couple of these near the groin. I check him often enough for ticks, and I think I would've caught it. Any idea what it could be?"
When someone finally told the OP that it was a nipple, an argument ensued because this dog was male and "boys don't have nipples." Seriously!

Ms. Russo called again about her dog Bear. She said that her neighbor has a brown dog with yella eyes and a cropped tail. She knows it's her dog, but Bear won't look at her when she calls him "because he's just too traumatized." Ms. Russo thinks the neighbor stole her dog and cut his tail to "disguise the crime."That way people couldn't see the identifying white spot. Too bad she never got around to getting that identifying microchip.

However, Ms. Russo said she had a great idea for Animal Control. She thinks that we ought to use our kennel house everybody’s animals when they evacuate for the hurricane. We could make the City some money! My partner nicely explained to her that it was unsafe for people to stay at the beach during the storm, it was unsafe for their pets as well. He even explained the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 (PETS Act) to her. What a nice guy. I probably would have said something like “Are you really that stupid? No wonder your dog ran away!”

You would be surprised by how many people called asking us to shelter their animals during the hurricane. Luckily my partner, Mr. Nice Guy, handled most of the calls. Unfortunately, I was on phone duty when Mr. Stevens called.

Mr. Stevens said that last year during Hurricane Mathew we took care of his cats and he wanted to know if he can leave the cats with us again this time. I told him NO! I reminded Mr. Stevens that the only reason we had his cats was because he refused to evacuate without them. The police took his cats so he would leave. The cats were put in the top cage with extra food, water and litter boxes. The police department was forced to evacuate the city as well, and his cats sat alone in a dark, damp cinderblock building for two days until we were allowed back over the bridge. It took another three days for power to be restored. When I reminded Mr. Stevens that I called him for ten days to pick up his cats and almost charged with abandonment he said “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” I told him I didn’t forget, and suggested he start looking for a boarding kennel now.

I had a guy call last week. He said that his girlfriend lived in Oceanside, the new Habitat for Humanity housing. They had a small teacup pig being shipped to them the following day and wanted to make sure that our laws would allow it. I told him no. The only pigs allowed in our city are miniature Vietnamese pot bellied pigs, anything else is a $500 ticket. Pot bellied pigs must be vaccinated and registered with the City. He was shocked. He said “I’ve done my research, and these pigs don’t get above 30 pounds.” I told him that he needed to do more research. All our ordinances are online. Unless he had a bona fide, purebred miniature Vietnamese potbellied pig -- sus scrofa vittatus -- he was in violation.

The same guy called back three hours later and asked “What if we register the as an emotional support animal? The pig costs $1500!” (Did I mention they live in Habitat for Humanity housing?) I told him that I knew his neighbors. The moment one of them complained about the pig -- and we both know they will -- I was writing him a $500 ticket. And I would continue to write tickets until the pig was removed from the City. I strongly suggested he either
  1. Move to a town that allowed pet pigs or
  2. Get a dog from the Humane Society and spend the other $1450 on something more practical.
He said he could still get his money back. I told him I thought that was a better idea. But between you and me, I’m expecting a pig complaint by Christmas. 

On a personal note, I took Hermione to the vet for grooming on a Saturday morning. The place was crowded. Hubby and I sat in a corner waiting for our turn. A man came in with a toddler and started leading his child around the room, saying things like "See the doggy?" and "Where's the kitty?" He actually found it amusing that his child was banging on roughly petting dogs and sticking fingers in cat carriers. I glared. When the little brat came over to "Look at the birdie" Hermione squawked so loudly that the child ran away. Good Girl! We got called into the exam room before I could chastise the father. But I did post this snarky comment on Facebook:
Dear people with small children,

The vet's office IS NOT a petting zoo. If you must bring your kids along, please contain them. These animals are sick and/or stressed. The last thing they want is to be harassed by your toddler.
Some things just shouldn't have to be said!

Some days -- OK, most days -- I wonder "What is wrong with people?!" On those days I remind myself that stupid people pay my mortgage, albeit indirectly. Think about it: if common sense was really that common, I would probably be out of a job -- and you wouldn't get all these fun stories. So, let's hear it for the idiots! -- K

Friday, September 15, 2017

Irma Versus My Truck

I've been an ACO with my small beach town for almost 11 years. For the first 10.5 all my work trucks were hand-me-downs. They all had issues -- Things like torn interior, squeaky hinges, random body damage, constant leaks and unreliable A/Cs. Heck, one even tried to kill me!

Three months ago I was issued a brand new Ford F-150. It had less than 25 miles on it. The electric assisted steering is a dream. The A/C is so cold that I can't crank it all the way down without freezing. This problem is unheard of in Florida! When I got my new truck the department asked if there was anything else I wanted. I said yes. All the police officers have their names on their assigned vehicles, I wanted my name on the new truck too. Management hemmed and hawed, but two weeks ago my name was finally on my truck. I was thrilled!

Six days later, Hurricane Irma hit the beach and ruined everything.

The storm ripped a branch off of a tree and impaled my windshield. It also dented the hood, the roof and the passenger's side quarter panel. My boss watched the branch jump over his vehicle, headed for my truck like a guided missile. I was texted these pictures.

Stupid branch. I hate you!
What a mess. I'm still finding glass inside the truck.
At least my name is unharmed.
When I saw the damage in person it was worse than I'd thought. My in-car video/rearview mirror is shattered in three places. The passenger side mirror is gone and the quarter panel is crumbled like an unwanted love letter. The windshield was replaced, but the rest of the repairs are estimated at $3500. Eek. The City is in no rush to fork out that kind of money before the new fiscal year. Until then I get to ride around in a beat up truck. Ten times a day someone asks "What happened to your truck?" My answer: Hurricane Irma. -- K

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