Meet the Breed Monday ~ July 2020

NormanIt’s Monday and we hope the weekend was tickety-boo. While you’re rubbing the sleep out of your eyes and heading into a brand new week, let’s  ‘budge up’ and have a good chinwag about this month’s edition of “Meet the Breed.” Norman here. Elsa and I argued chatted up which breed we wanted to look at and finally decided to look no farther than within our own family for a good look at a very cool breed, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, often called as “Chessies.” Rudder and Axel are mum’s nephews and just moved into a new mountain home not far from rivers and streams, a Chessies dream world. You can visit their blog here.

Chessies

Blimey! Look at that boy’s take off! That handsome, athletic fella is Rudder. Can I just say… mate, my golly! You think he can give me loads of advice on water fun?

To say Chessies are “water dogs” is a bit of an understatement. This American original embodies all that is valued in retrievers. They’re loyal, upbeat, affectionate, and tireless and well known for their waterproof coat. Rudder is always ready for retrieving sticks or rocks thrown into nearby streams.

Chessies

Chessies are strong, powerfully built gundogs standing anywhere from 21 to 26 inches at the shoulder with males weighing between 75 to 100 pounds. The distinctive breed trait is a wavy coat that is oily to the touch. Chessies are solid-colored, either chocolatey brown, sedge, or deadgrass, with keen yellow-amber eyes that nicely complement the coat and live between 10-13 years.

Chessies
Adorably cute Axel as a puppy

Chessies are more emotionally complex than the average gundog. They take well to training, but can have a mind of their own and can tenaciously pursue their own path. Protective of their humans as well as polite, they may not be openly friendly toward strangers. Chessies make excellent watchdogs and a well-socialized Chessie makes for a confident companion and hunting buddy.

Chessies

So how did this breed originate you ask? Seems that during the 19th century well-heeled owners of the duck clubs that lined the shores of the Chesapeake Bay  began breeding the breed we’ve come to know today. It’s believed that Newfoundlands, Irish Water Spaniels, and other hounds of undetermined origin were among the breed’s early genetic mix. By the time the AKC was founded in 1884, a definite “Chessie type” had been established.

To understand this breed, one needs to know a bit about the area from where they originated. Two key features to the 200-mile-long estuary surrounded by Maryland and Virginia factor into why Chessies were developed. First, the Bay is relatively shallow with a low capacity for storing heat allowing water temps to get down to around freezing in early winter and stay there until spring. Secondly, Bay’s location lies along the “Atlantic Flyway,” a flight path taken by ducks and geese to their winter homes. Every year the Bay hosts a good third of all migratory waterfowl wintering on the East Coast of the US.

Hunters used these features to breed a dog who is well-suited to the Bay’s frigid water and visiting waterfowl. The thick, oily, double coat of a Chessie  not only insulates, but it is waterproof as well. Repealing moisture much like  duck feathers do and broad chest acts much like a plow against ice floes while the powerful hindquarters with large webbed feet enable him to swim tirelessly against the Bay’s windy conditions. Ideally equipped for retrieving, Chessies are a reliable, indefatigable dog possessing a ‘soft mouth’ ensuring the hunter that his retrieved fowl will remain intact upon retrieval. I’m guessing the Ninja wouldn’t make a very good retriever since she manages to chew ears and feet off all my toys, despite her own breed’s soft mouth. *sigh

Chessies are real charmers being perceptive and sensitive and make excellent therapy dogs. With their strong ability to follow scents, they do brilliantly in search-and-rescue work or drug and bomb detection. Dashing good looks and athleticism definitely give these blokes a definite leg up in show rings as well as in a variety of dog competitions.

Chessies
Ruddy and Axel living the good life

Hope you enjoyed meeting mum’s ‘nephews.’ Have you encountered these athletic dogs before? Mum says if you are interested in featuring your own breed in the coming months, be sure to contact her. I’d love to tell all my mates about your good dog. Cheerio!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed ~ June 2020

NormanWell, well, well…would you lookee here. It’s time for another Meet the Breed Monday. Norman here. What breed shall we take a gander at this month? How about the ubiquitous and beloved Golden Retriever? More than a few of our readers are Golden owners but this month’s background was supplied by our friend, Michael over at Golden Kali. Michael has three “Golden Girls” and entertains us with wonderful posts so you might want to click the link to visit his lovely blog. So let’s get started and learn about this wonderful breed.

Golden Girls
Golden Girls

Developed by the first Lord Tweedmouth (aka Dudley Marjoribanks) during the years 1840 through 1890, the aristocrat sought a dog suited to the rainy climate and rugged terrain of the area, so he crossed his “Yellow Retriever” with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. Irish Setter and Bloodhound were also added to the mix during the 50 year period. Thus the Golden Retriever we now know arrived as an enduring gift to the dog kingdom from a hunt-happy aristocrat.

The Golden, as affectionately known everywhere, was first shown at a British dog show in 1908.  The breed began arriving in America, by way of Canada, around the same time. Sport hunters liked the breed’s utility while show breeders loved their beauty and are impressed by their sweet, sensible temperament. Males generally weigh between 65-75 lbs. while females are somewhat smaller at 55-65 lbs.

Golden
Kali

There are three main types of Golden Retrievers.

  • The British type (like Kali) has a broader head and muscular chest with a usually lighter coat referred to as cream or blond with heavier ‘feathers.’  Their eyes are round and dark.
  • The American type (like Kloe and Koda) are less muscular with a red or golden coat and moderate feathers. They are very agile, have a powerful and well coordinated gate with brown but slanted eyes.
  • Canadian Goldens have a thinner coat than their American counterpart and may be mistaken for a Golden Lab.
Kloe
Kloe

Goldens are very versatile. While often known as bird dogs, they make excellent family members. Goldens are frequently used as service dogs for the disabled, search and rescue dogs and are even tempered, intelligent, and very affectionate. They love to play and will retrieve balls as long and as often as someone will throw it for them.

Koda
“Baby” Koda

We got ourselves another ‘foodie’ with this breed. The only thing Goldens love more than playing and romping is food. Being food motivated, Goldens are quite eager to please their owners thereby making them easily trainable and highly adaptive to most home environments.

Goldens do need lots of exercise, especially puppies and younger dogs.  A good 30 to 40 minute walk each day in addition to playtime and training will make for a content dog who is then less likely to get themselves into mischief.

Goldens are gentle with children, puppies and get along with just about everyone they meet. Goldens are not typically considered guard dogs but will bark to alert owners of trouble, or perceived trouble. They are more likely to show a burglar where the family jewels are hidden than to attack.

The Golden Retriever’s life expectancy is typically 11 to 12 years and sadly, more than 60% of the breed succumb to cancer. Hip dysplasia is another common medical problems Goldens face.

Golden retrievers shed and require regular brushing. Like all dogs shedding dogs, regular grooming helps minimize floating hair and mats.

Goldens are one of the more popular breeds in the U.S. Did you know that two Goldens occupied the White House-Gerald Ford’s dog, Liberty and Victory whose human was Ronald Reagan. More recently, Elizabeth Warren’s Golden “Bailey,” was a frequent visitor to her campaign events, and was caught on camera swiping a burrito from a staffer’s hand. Like I said, these dogs are definitely ‘foodies.’ While “Daniel,” the 2020 Westminster Dog Show audience favorite did not win Best in Show, he did win the Sporting Group. Goldens continue to be popular crowd pleasers and are regularly featured pets in commercials and movies.

Well there you have it. Many thanks to Michael for sharing background info on these great family dogs. Do you have any experience with these ‘golden’ beauties? Check back next month for another breed. If you’d like your good dog’s breed highlighted, please shoot us an email.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed Monday ~ May 2020

ElsaIt’s time for our monthly column “Meet the Breed.”  It’s me, Elsa, stepping up again this month ready to feature our latest installment of “Meet the Breed.”  So without further delay, let’s meet…the Shetland Sheepdog, more commonly known as “Shelties.”

When mom first started blogging, she became a follower and then friend with Dakota and his mom, Caren Gittleman who was especially helpful in showing her the ropes. Caren suggested loads of tips and tricks that would develop a readership for which she will always be grateful. And Caren was very inspiring to mom when she launched the e-shop. And she has one of the cutest guys in Blogville. I mean, just look at this handsome boy…hubba bubba, dude!

Sheltie

Dakota’s mom, is a free-lance professional blogger who writes blogs Dakota’s Den (about her cute boy) and Cat Chat With Caren and Cody (a blog about cats)  residing in Michigan with her husband, Sheltie Dakota and Cody the cat. While Caren isn’t blogging as much these days, she’s a powerhouse and accomplished blogger in mom’s eyes with Dakota, her beautiful and sweet Sheltie and his fur-brother, Cody the cat. Many thanks to Caren for providing  breed background info on these adorably cute dogs.

Dakota the Sheltie

Now pay attention, Norman and let’s get started by meeting this adorable breed. Often confused with the larger ‘Collie,’ The Shetland Sheepdog, or “Sheltie,” is actually NOT a “mini-Collie” as some people think, they are in fact a completely separate breed. 

Shelties were originally bred on the rocky Shetland Islands, on the northernmost point of the UK. They were employed by farmers to herd sheep, ponies, and poultry (the “Toonie dog” was an old slang name for Shelties, “toon” being a Shetland word for farm). Shelties’ long coat is harsh and straight, with a dense undercoat, and comes in black, blue merle, and sable colors, with white markings. That coat, along with a long, wedge-shaped head; small, three-quarter erect ears; and deep-chested, level-backed torso, give Shelties the look of a rough-coated Collie in miniature but there are significant differences. Shelties weigh about between 14-27 lbs.while Collies weigh 60-75 lbs. Shelties can be prone to  chubbiness, so their weight should be closely watched. There are height differences between the breeds as well:  Shelties run 13-16 inches tall; Collies are between 24-26 inches tall

Shelties do quite well in a large yard but also thrive nicely in an apartment or condo setting because of their much smaller size. Shelties are “alert, active and playful” and like to bark but tend to be reserved toward strangers. They make excellent watchdogs. Shelties will alert the household when strangers show up.  Shelties are high-energy and rank 25th of 195 breeds in popularity according to the AKC and are members of the herding group.

 “Dakota” recently celebrated his 13th barkday and is a brilliant, funny little clown on four legs. His mom tells us that he is a bit of a “thief” (watch your shoes, slippers, anything you don’t want him to have), is sensitive and intensely loyal to “his pack,” which includes mom, dad and tabby cat brother.

That trademark “Sheltie Smile” is quite compelling so if you are interested in an intelligent, active, playful, great family dog who will love you “to the moon and back” then  the Shetland Sheepdog could be just the breed for you.

Have you ever owned one or have stories to share? Next month we’ll showcase another breed. Who could it be? While I’m not giving any clues away, Norman tells me it’s definitely another favorite breed. We hope all you dog-moms had a Happy Mother’s Day and wish everyone a great Monday and ‘wagnificent’ week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed Monday ~ April 20, 2020

ElsaWe’ve been a bit derelict in putting this post together and apologize for the lateness. First we couldn’t decide who should be next after Norman introduced this series last month and then I couldn’t get him to focus on picking someone from the submissions we received. He kept thinking treats were wrapped up in the entries. Ugh, brothers! Elsa here ready to share this month’s installment of “Meet the Breed.” So without further delay, let’s meet…drumroll please…Schnauzers, Miniature Schnauzers to be precise.

Schnauzer
Look at this adorable face!

Did you know there are three different breeds of Schnauzers: miniature, standard and giant and each one is considered a separate breed. Our good friend, Princess Xena (click on link to visit her blog) provided much of the 411 for this post. She told us that miniatures range in size from 10 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 10 to 18 pounds. A word to the wise from our Miniature Schnauzer expert: if you’re interesting in this breed, don’t fall for breeders who say they have teacup or toy schnauzers, it’s a distortion of the breed. Schnauzers should be uniform in size; that is the same length from neck to base of tail as they are in height (Xena is 13×13).

According to the AKC, Miniature Schnauzers were bred down from their larger German cousins, Standard Schnauzers. The bushy beard and eyebrows give them a charming expression. They come in four color patterns: salt and pepper, black and silver, solid black and solid white. They were bred to be medium sized farm dogs in Germany, equally suited to ratting, herding and guarding property. The first recorded Miniature Schnauzer appeared in 1888 and they are a member of the Terrier group.

With their working days behind them, today’s Miniature Schnauzer is best known as a friendly, charming companion who continues to be a steady winner in all sorts of competitions.

Miniature Schnauzers are sturdy, clever dogs and enjoy vigorous play. Home and family oriented, they still make great watchdogs and alert their family of any trespassers. Xena says you have to be pretty smart to live with a Miniature Schnauzer or they will outwit you every time. Miniature Schnauzer’s have a strong desire to be with their people and need lots of interaction. They don’t like being left alone and can become bored, inventing their own “fun.” They are active, smart and will happily accompany their uprights on walks or runs. They do equally well in small apartments or on the farm.

SchnauzerMiniature Schnauzers are chow hounds. Left to their own devices, they’d eat a whole bag of kibble. Miniature Schnauzers compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, and tracking. Xena is quite the dancer. Schnauzers have a high prey drive, so ‘tree rats’ should exercise caution when Schnauzers are off leash. Miniatures are consistently rated as one of the smartest breeds and their ability to learn and obey new commands is high. Experts rank Miniatures as 5th among the top 15 breeds for their watchdog barking ability.
Schnauzer
Will you be my friend?

We hope you learned a little about these adorably cute dogs. Have you owned one or have stories to share? Next month we’ll showcase another breed. Who could it be? While I’m not giving any clues away, it’s probably someone else from the Blogville community. Just saying. Happy Monday!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 9, 2020

OMD, Monday again? And an hour earlier on top of that? What the double dog heck? Yes, it’s that time of year again where we ‘spring forward’ and try to convince ourselves all is just groovy. The fact that it’s oh-dark-thirty in the morning gets fluffed over.

Hate to burst your bubble, Copernicus…but you still only get the same 24 hours a day. I know a lot of you like the time switch but I’m here to tell you you’re only fooling yourself if you think there’s an extra hour of sunlight. That said, those of you who like it, be my guest and enjoy. Those of us who think it’s the dumbest manipulation of time will grouse about it until our Circadian rhythms finally sync with the clock. Sometime in August if I’m lucky.

But enough of the ranting. Let’s move on to something different. Today we’re launching a new monthly feature, “Meet the Breed.” Elsa suggested it at our last editors’ meeting and the other half of the Old Couple, Brother Norman was on board once I asked him to introduce us to his tribe, the Old English Sheepdog. Take it away, Norman.

OES

Thanks, mum. As you probably know, I’m an Old English Sheepdog who arrived at the Ranch a little over a month ago after living in southwest Kansas. Mum may have fussed about DST but I’m quite ‘chuffed to the mitt’ about it because it means I can spend more awake time with my mum. Let’s just say I can get started earlier engaging in one of my favorite pastimes. Anyway, let’s take a look at my people.

OESWe are an affable bunch, us Sheepies. Some think we’re the canine comedians of the dog world. George Carlin aside, from where did we come?

Lush meadows, thatch-roofed cottages with wooded gorges from bonnie ole England are thought to be where we originated. ‘Course our origins are nearly as clouded as the mist-encircled, rugged valleys where we herded and/or drove sheep. Some historical paintings show sheepdogs being depicted as early as the late 1700’s but most breed authorities agree farmers in the counties of Devon, Somerset and the duchy of Cornwall in southwest England used a dog that resembled what we look like today. We weren’t bred for a specific purpose but were the result of a natural evolution of available breeding stock. Prized herding dogs were selected for breeding based on their ability to handle themselves well with the area’s rather rugged livestock that flourished in the craggy climate.

It’s been suggested we received the nickname Bobtail when farmers and the gentry devised a way to avoid paying taxes on us working blokes and docked our tails to prove the tax status. Drover dogs were exempt from being taxed due to their working status and tails were docked.There is some dispute with that notion however. Dogs with long tails tend to use them for balance and since we didn’t chase game, we didn’t need a long tail since there was no need for it when herding. Then again it could have been merely hygienic-there being less chance of ‘fouling’ the tail, if you get my drift. Bobtails are far more common in the US as England and Europe have generally abolished tail docking. Either way, with my handsome tube sock legs, who needs to draw attention to a useless tail? I can wiggle my bum with the best of ’em.

OES

No longer a breed for the wealthy or for farmers, us OES are big, furry, intelligent and even-tempered. We’re easily trained (but don’t tell my mum that; I rather enjoy all the treats she uses on training sessions and wouldn’t want them to be reduced). We are not an aggressive breed and typically get on well with other pets. We enjoy playful companionship. Playful being the operative word, Elsa. Just saying.

Sheepdogs are not for everyone though. If you’re not prepared to spend a fair amount of time brushing and grooming us, you should probably  choose a breed that doesn’t require as much time maintaining our woolly, profuse coats. We have hair (as opposed to fur) and as such do not ‘shed’ per se, but keep that full coat all year long (although hair does fall out so if you’re fussy about dust bunnies we may not be right for you). We adore people, especially the wee little ones and are often called the “Nanny” dog for good reason.

A couple of drawbacks to being owned by an OES owning a sheepdog is we tend to be a tad messy when it comes to drinking water (and we drink a LOT of water). Water collects in our beards so naturally that’s when we want to give you lots of attention, right after a good H2O quaff. Our manners aren’t quite as impeccable as our British heritage might suggest and we’ll always have stained beards unless you’re constantly grooming and cleaning us up.

We also tend to suffer from ‘unbridled’ enthusiasm. Remember, we’re not purse-sized dogs so we often bump into people’s legs because we’re natural herders and can easily knock over any unsteady uprights. In Britain when we say “mind the gap” it means look out where you’re going and that applies to us sheepies. We don’t mean anything nefarious by bumping into you, we are after all, herders. We’re jovial and have astute reckoning powers. You will not win many battle of wits with us sheepdogs because we’re terrific problem-solvers and get easily bored with rote exercises/routines. Because we’re natural athletes, we make great agility competitors. Just remember bored dogs can make life insufferable, no matter what the breed.

OESSince an OES can easily reach more than 80 lbs. (36 kg), we can take up a fair amount of real estate. We do not curl up into little balls, preferring to stretch out.

We sheepies have what’s referred to as a bark with a Pot-Casse ring, a particularly deep, booming (almost echoing) bark. Pot-Casse is French for “broken urn” or “cracked bell.” Which means our bark sounds like a couple of pots clanging together. It is the signature bark of sheepies so however you translate it, it’s going to be deafening. Mum says with my size, I should have a rich baritone voice but instead sound more like a puny tenor. Ha, ha, mum-you crack me up. Either way, she says it’s very loud at oh-dark o’clock when it’s the best way for waking her up.

Sheepdogs don’t like being separated from their family and can raise the dead with their barking. I think that’s what got me and my previous sister in trouble with the neighbors (Libby, the Weimaraner who still appears to be available for adoption here if you’re interested in rescuing her). She needs a loving family and I feel badly she hasn’t been adopted yet and hope she finds a home as nice as the one I found. Even with Elsa sometimes picking on me, I remain a proper British gentleman in spite of her shenanigans, my life is quite “tickety-boo” around the Ranch. A comfy sofa, tasty food/treats, multiple water bowls, frequent walks, a good “chin wag” with everyone I meet-how could it not be fab?

So “Bob’s your uncle” and now I’m kind of knackered after sharing all that info. I should probably go catch a few 💤 before dragging mum around the neighborhood again my next walk. Us sheepies are a lively bunch but we give loads of love. Hope you enjoyed meeting my breed.

If you’d like your breed featured, contact my mum in an email with a photo and some interesting facts. Elsa and I will pick next month’s next “Meet the Breed” post. Cheerio, mates.

Live, love, bark! 🐾