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Wednesday, October 2 2013

CLUB CORNER - Life with Seven & One

By Nawa Ruckes

I “found” Seven (girl) & One (boy) on the internet in December 2010 when they were about 3 months old. They are brother & sister German Shepherds, and they were delivered to me just before Xmas. (Seven is left, One is right in all the pics)Seven.pngOne.png

In April 2011 I saw an ad for Raewyn’s Dog Obedience Club in the local paper and gave her a call. By this time One was starting to walk funny which Raewyn noticed as soon as she saw him.

After a visit to our local vet, xrays were taken and we went to see Steve McGill (orthopaedic vet extraordinaire) in Matamata. Steve advised us that we couldn’t operate on One to correct his hip dysplasia, but we could make sure he was pain-free and given the best chance at life that we could.seven___One.pngThis meant putting One on medication and taking him to see Kirsten Gollan, an animal physiotherapist in Cambridge. She gave me some simple exercises for him to do to help strengthen his rear leg muscles. I relayed this information to Raewyn and next thing I knew Raewyn was incorporating these exercises in with our weekly visits to her.

We’ve been visiting Raewyn for about 2 ½ years now. Seven & One enjoy the challenges that Raewyn provides and it’s a great opportunity to teach them some doggie manners around other dogs. In fact, One won the inaugural Dog Sports Rotorua Agility purple ribbon in June this year, with Seven coming in second.Picture4.png

They are a wonderful pair – and they hate being separated! If you come to my gate they’ll either ignore you, cry at you for attention, or growl at you. I haven’t yet figured out any “selection criteria” as to what action they take – but I’m sure they’ve got it all figured out in their heads.Picture5.png

They’ll celebrate their 3rd birthday on 1st October, and all I can hope for is lots more birthdays to share with them both.

The German Shepherd Dog: his ancestor and the father of the breed

By Rose Johnston

It’s hard to imagine the German Shepherd Dog as being a tender and herder of sheep. People who aren’t familiar with this breed’s DNA would imagine the German Shepherd Dog bothering sheep rather than protect them. Todays German Shepherd Dog is no longer a herding dog as such, at least not in the way it is used to be.

Over a hundred years ago in Germany and Northern Europe the old Shepherd Dog (as they were called then) was an amazing working dog, bred according to the regions of Germany where landscape, climate and predators were all factors in breeding a suitable dog. Farmers were very careful not to cross-breed these dogs for fear of losing valuable traits: self-reliance, independence and the best temperament. A dog genetically endowed as a herding dog could tend the flock hour after hour on his own, and would do it willingly without command. Aside from tending the sheep he also had to guard against wolves, thieves, criminals and other predators. His master could retire for the night knowing that his flock would be intact in the morning.

At the end of the 18th Century an ex-Cavalry Captain from the German Imperial Army, Max von Stephanitz, changed and evolved the old Shepherd Dog into the dog we are more familiar with today. Stephanitz was dubbed ‘father of the breed’. While observing the dogs out working in the pastures he became impressed with one dog in particular ‘Hektor Linksrhein’ and decided to buy it on the spot. He changed the lineage name to Horand von Grafrath, and it is from this dog that all German Shepherds descend from.

Stephanitz went in search of other Shepherds who were a good match in type to breed from. He ensured that the best traits would be carried forward in forming a new standard. From that point on the progeny was formed and the new standard of breed was set and the official name of the breed was to be called the German Shepherd Dog.

Stephanitz also formed the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde SV (Society of the German Shepherd Dog) in 1900 to protect the new breed. The society consisted of hard working farmers who were struggling to make ends meet and who knew the value of a good working dog. The rules for breeding were established and laid down, every new German Shepherd Dog bred and its subsequent offspring, had to be recorded in a register.

Stephanitz was also responsible for introducing the idea of using German Shepherd Dogs in various other roles, such as guide dogs, search and rescue, police and military work and guard dogs. He was laughed at and ridiculed for these ideas, but he persisted and eventually was recognised, not only for his breeding abilities, but also for his training abilities.

In the early 1930s when Hitler and Nazism came into power, Stephanitz had been perfecting his beloved breed for over thirty years. He considered Hitler and his regime to be lowly and beneath him. However, some of the members of his SV Society had become Nazis and conspired to get rid of him. He was ordered to hand over his life’s work or otherwise be sent to a concentration camp. Forced to resign, he gave up and died a year later.

Nazi officials were ruthless in killing dogs that did not suit their ideals. They also disregarded Stephanitz’s idealology in breeding and in training. They had corrupted the German Shepherd Dog standard that Stephanitz had worked so hard to achieve. Hence, the bad reputation German Shepherd Dogs were given after the Second World War. Stephanitz’s beloved German Shepherd had become a lost breed.

The decades after the Second World War is where a lot of mistakes were made in breeding the German Shepherd Dog back again. The standards Stephanitz had so passionately worked hard for over three decades were once again being misused. High losses of the breed, due to the war, left very few to start breeding with again. The start of inbreeding and indiscriminate breeding (weak or poor lines) practices were becoming more widespread, weakening the German Shepherd Dogs superb genetic lines. This in turn has caused a lot of health issues and temperament problems that were not prevalent during Stephanitz’s time.

The father of the breed constructed a visionary standard for the future, to maintain the breed as a suitable working dog: strong in body, sound in mind, a willing spirit, a faithful companion, and to include tasks as a helper of mankind. Most importantly of all he wanted the genetic lines to remain intact to perpetuate those valuable traits in working ability and especially in temperament.imagesCALAZKC8.jpg

Sunday, February 3 2013

Fae the Fat Fairy and Miska look for the second good deed episode 13

After all their hard work on Puddlduck Farm, Fae and Miska are off to the lake with all the other dogs and Sam Donkey and Fae's person and Rose, Miska's new friend.

It is just down the road from Puddlduck Farm to the Crystal Clean Lake which has a lovely dog swimming area, where people can have their picnic and swim with their dogs, and mostly the dogs and children play on the beach and mostly the people pick up all their litter when they leave the beach, especially the doggy doo - well mostly is probably as good as it gets.

Anyway off they all went. Sam Donkey had his panniers on which were baskets on each side with the picnic things in them, Fae's person had a backpack with a rug and towels and of course tennis balls for the dogs. All the dogs were on leash, not because they were naughty but because they are supposed to be on leash in a public place like the roadway until they get to the beach. The dogs all love being on leash because it is exciting and it means they are going places.

As soon as they got to the beach and all the leashes came off, they ran straight down to the Crystal Clean Lake and dived in. Chan was the slowest and he always waited till someone threw a ball so that he had a reason to jump in and show off his swimming talents. It took Chan the Sharpei x two years to learn to swim, but now he really loved it. Becki-boo loved the lake but she didn't like anyone jumping on her in the water as she nearly drowned once when that happened, so she chose an area on the beach a bit away from everyone else. Fae just liked to swim and swim and Miska did too. Midge the Pigdog was 14 years old and she just paddled, as you do when you get old. The people in the group waded out up to their thighs and threw balls for Chan, Boo and Fae and everyone splashed around for ages, it was so cooling on this hot hot summer's day.

The people got out of the water and went up to set out the picnic rug and the picnic lunch. The dogs ran non-stop up and down the beach barking and digging in the sand , even Midge got excited and barked and wanted to play, such a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Sam Donkey just roamed freely around eating the grass and a little bit of willow, he didn't need to go far as there was more than enough nice green grass to satisfy his tummy. He didn't need a picnic lunch, life was full of picnic lunches for Sam.

'Okay you Dogs' called Fae's person ' come and get lunch'. All the dogs came running up from the lake and they were still all wet and sandy and they jumped on the picnic rug and shook their bodies and a spray of wet coat water covered everything. 'Just as well I hadn't poured a cup of tea yet' said Rose, 'it would have been a cup of dog by now'. Everyone laughed . The dogs all sat in a line and Fae's person gave them all a big three corner biscuit. 'Whew' said Fae 'I don't know if I can manage this size bikki'. 'Are you sick or somethin?' asked Chan.

They all lay on the picnic rug and munched their biscuits, and the people munched their sandwiches, which Becki-Boo thought smelled nicer than the dog biscuit and came to see if there was even a little morsel for her. 'No' said Fae's person 'no people food for you today missy, you don't even normally get lunch, this is a very special thing today'. 'Worth a try' thought Becki-boo and went back to lick up the last crumbs of her dog biscuit.

After the food and a nice hot drink for the people, everyone lay back on the rug with just a little bit of shade from the willow and a little bit of sun to keep warm and closed their eyes for a nap..

Suddenly Miska went off, really nutting off, and everyone jumped to their feet and the people sat up on the rug and there trying to find the last crumbs of the dog's lunches was a tiny white fluffy dog. Miska was growling and then she saw the wee dog cowering below her enormous mouth and she bent down to reassure the little chap that she had just got a fright and he was fine. Right then as quick as could be a big fat hand reached down and plucked up the little dog. Miska jumped up and growled at the fat hand's owner and was going to grab the hand and make it let go of the little white fluffy dog. Rose yelled. 'No Miska' and Miska swung round to see what Rose wanted and Rose stepped forward and held Miska's collar and the fat hand owner stepped back off the rug clutching the tiny white fluffy dog to its chest.

'How dare you bring a dog to this beach that is so vicious and nasty' the fat hand owner said. 'I thought this was a safe beach for my pet and now I find all these horrible dogs here, ' Other people with fat hand owner, said 'Come on Jen, leave it alone', 'Yeah alls well and all that,' 'Come on we will just move down the beach a bit'.

'I am going to call the Animal Control People, as soon as I get home today' fat hand owner said and then put her head in the air and clutching the poor little white fluffy dog to her chest, followed her people off down the beach.

'Oh Miska' said Rose 'Whatever got into you, why did you do what you did'? 'Now hang on a minute' said Fae's person, 'Which dog was the aggressor, did Miska run away after the little white fluffy dog, whose picnic rug was it anyway?,'. 'Oh I see what you mean' said Rose ' Here we all were stretched out on the rug, napping away and another dog ran right into other dogs' territory, mmm I get that, but why did Miska jump up and she was going to grab that woman's hand'. 'Because' said Fae's person , Miska was in the middle of apologising to the little white fluffy dog and deciding she liked it and 'the hand' snatched the dog away, Miska could have thought the little thing was in danger, and I don't think it looked madly happy up there in the clutches of that woman anyway.' But' said Rose 'If Miska had bitten the hand she would have been in trouble'. 'Oh yes' said Fae's person 'She would have been in deep trouble, it is just that sometimes, dogs read activites differently to human beings and respond differently too'.

Everyone was looking a bit lost and bothered now and the fun of the day seemed to have gone. The other group with the little white fluffy dog had set up their picnic quite a long way away and they had blown up an inflatable boat which everyone was jumping on and falling off and they seemed to be having fun. 'Come on dogs' said Fae 'We are going to have another swim'. 'Make it snappy' said Fae's person ' we will be going home soon'.

Becki-boo decided the sun on the rug was nice, so she would stay there and snooze. Midge had not woken up during the whole shenanigan, deaf you know. So it was Fae, Miska and Chan who headed down to the sand again. Chan likes to go fishing. He stands in the water and waits for the cockerbullies to come by, then he sticks his head under the water and tries to catch the fish with his front feet. He can happily spend hours in this occupation. Blowing bubbles out his nose until he runs out of air and then he lifts his head, moves forward a bit and does it all again. Fae and Miska were swimming together quite a way from the beach and just having a nice quiet time in the water. 'Hey' said Miska 'Isn't that the little white fluffy dog out there'. 'Where' said Fae, who was a lot smaller so her head was closer to the water and it was hard to see far ahead. 'Over there' said Miska, 'It is in a funny yellow thing but I am sure I can smell her and yes I can hear her she is calling help help.'

By now back on the beach the people having the picnic had realised that the yellow inflatable boat had drifted off with the little white fluffy dog on board and it was a long was out. Much further than anyone would be able to swim. They were yelling and the fat hand owner seemed to be screaming. Miska said 'I am going out to the little white fluffy dog Fae' 'Okay' said Fae ' I will try to come too but I am getting tired already'.

So Fae and Miska headed off as fast as they could swim towards the yellow thing with the little white fluffy dog in it. Back on the beach the fat hand owner had come back to where the Puddlduck picnic rug was. ' Your dogs are going out to kill my precious baby' said fat hand owner to Rose and Fae's person. 'Rubbish' said Fae's person ' they are probably your only hope of getting the dog back here'. 'OMG OMG' fat hand owner kept saying. Rose and Fae's person and Becki-boo and Chan were all right on the edge of the water watching Fae and Miska swim way out in the lake. Midge still hadn't woken up.

Finally after what seemed just ages the two dogs reached the inflatable boat. Fae said 'Hey Miska I am really tired, I am going to climb on your back and get into the thing with the little white fluffy dog'. 'Okay' said Miska. So Fae climbed on Miska's back and fell all wet and soggy onto the little white fluffy dog in the boat. 'Its okay' said Fae with a big grin. Little white fluffy dog wagged her tail and then licked Fae's wet face. Miska had been swimming around and around the yellow boat. 'Hey Fae' said Miska 'I dunno how to move this back to the picnic rug'. 'Look' said Fae 'there is a rope here on the front'. Fae pulled the rope over into the water. 'Pick up the rope Miska' 'What for' said Miska 'Just like the donkey rope you did this morning Miska, just pick up the rope'. Miska was a bit puzzled but she remembered that she had picked up the rope and pulled and the donkey had moved forward, so she did it. She took the rope in her mouth. 'Atta girl Miska' called Fae 'Swim to Rose, Miska, swim really fast'. So Miska turned toward the shore and she saw Rose waving her hand and she could hear Rose saying 'Good girl Miska'. Wow she was a good girl again. Miska was really swimming fast. Fae was standing with her front feet on the bow of the boat and the wind was blowing her ears, it was so exciting and such fun. Fae was barking and barking, and the little white fluffy dog was standing up too and she was barking and smiling and starting to enjoy her adventure.

Of course, everyone was very happy that the dogs were safe back on the beach and the fat hand owner thanked Miska very much and told her what a brave strong girl she was. Fat hand owner was about to scoop up the little white fluffy dog again when Fae's person said 'Would you mind just leaving the dog on the ground at the moment please'. Fat hand owner looked bewildered but obeyed. Little white fluffy dog ran up to Miska and kissed her all over the face. Miska looked all dopey and stupid and lay down so that the little dog and she could have a talk, and they did and then the little white fluffy dog ran over to her fat hand owner and yapped and wagged and ran off down the beach with Miska after her and Fae joining in, and then they all turned around and ran back the other way and stopped and talked and then it was over.

'Well alls well that ends as this has' said Fae's person. 'Wake up Midge you old idiot let's all go back to Puddlduck Farm, I don't think I can handle any more excitement today'. 'Me neither' said Rose 'I feel completely exhausted'. So they loaded up Sam's Panniers and shook out the picnic rug and put the dogs back on leash and wandered quietly up the hill to home.

'You know Miska' said Fae's person 'You have done two good deeds today'. 'Did ya hear that Miska' said Fae 'You have done your two Good Deeds so the Fairy God Dog will cancel all your bad memories now and the rest of your life will never be sad again, Yippee yappee we did it'.

 Miska looked a bit odd but had a smile on her face and felt different.  People loved her and trusted her again,  Maybe there was something in this Fairy God Dog Stuff afterall mmmmm.

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