New Video: Sadie @ East Cobb Park 6/9/12

A short video today!  Just Sadie and I walking through the park earlier this month.  It's one of the best parks close to where I live, which makes it pretty busy on the weekends.  Early morning, though, it's not crowded at all, and very peaceful.  There's a small stream that runs through the middle of the walking trails... Sadie refuses to go into the water.  :)


Great Cocker Spaniel Grooming Video

Okay, this is an awesome video of how to groom an American cocker spaniel.  REALLY nice video ... but it's an hour long, so be prepared to sit a while if you really want to know.

Lots of things Mr. Salas goes over are SO familiar.  The little flap on the edge of the ear to know where to start clipping -- using shapes like 'v's and such to figure out where to start and stop clipping -- using the lines of the fur and where they grow and determining where to clip and where to use a stripping tool -- changing the way the blades on the clipper are angled to cut different lengths of hair -- all of those are tricks all decent groomers know.

Also the dog is a really, really nice chocolate cocker spaniel with a GREAT personality that is what every cocker spaniel should aspire to be.

I have no idea if Mr. Salas' grooming products work, and I'm not being endorsed in any way, but the video is awesome and the before and after is cool as well.  If you're interested in all in grooming, give it a look!

It's More Than Just Brushing...

The video below shows the before, during, and after of me actually grooming the heck out of Sadie.

Okay, so I've said I know how to groom cocker spaniels.

... Sadie is not a cocker spaniel.


The grooming job isn't ... exceptional.  But I bonded with my dog.  And she won't bring in as many pine-needles or dirt.  And it's fur!  It'll grow back!  Really!

Sadie and I have a routine when it comes to grooming.  It's the same thing every time.  I call her over, we brush sections at a time, and when she's done she gets a cookie.  It's such a routine, that she'll turn around for me to brush her other side without my even asking her.

So brushing is just a routine, but I believe that all types of grooming -- for any dog -- is more than just that.  It's part of owning a dog, and it helps with bonding with your pet.

First of all, just even brushing your dog allows for a few different things.  You can check for parasites, skin irritations, and other problems while you're grooming.  It gives a great idea of the general health of your dog.  For instance, when I was brushing Sadie yesterday, I found a burr in the fuzz behind one of her legs.  I was able to take care of it before it became a problem.

Also, it's spending time with her.  I think she actually likes the brushing part (although she's not so keen on the 'haircut', 'bath', or 'blow-drying' parts..).  After a few grooming sessions, and working with her to train her to relax, she almost gets excited when I'm pulling out the slicker brush.

And so the grooming job I did wasn't perfect.  But my point is, even if it's not exactly the best haircut in the world, it's something every dog owner should try.  If only for the experience... trust me, as you learn what works, you'll get better at it.

I know I will.

Sadie Video: Sweat Mountain State Park #1

Sadie and I normally go out to Sweat Mountain State Park because there's an awesome dog park there.  But I was unaware until recently that there are also some awesome trails headed back into the woods at the park.

Here's a neat video of Sadie and I on our first exploration of the trails.  I hope to make some more videos of this at some point... we didn't go on hardly any of the trails, so there's a bunch more to explore.  Enjoy!


Breed Opinion: Cocker Spaniel

Let me begin by saying I doubt I will ever own a cocker spaniel again.  Ever.

I'm not going into the breed history at all.  Although I will say that if you're interested in learning about the breed history and more general information, you should check out the webpage of the American Spaniel Club.

I will go as far as to say I know more about American cocker spaniels than I do about English cocker spaniels.  And I can say that the American variety is the one that I'll be addressing here... although there are a lot of similarities between the two distinct breeds.

The main reason I will never own an American cocker spaniel again is because I'm not a fan of grooming.  Okay, I HATE grooming.  Sadie grooming is fine:  Cleaning up feet, clipping around the ears, and even brushing to help alleviate with shedding I can do.  Nooooo problem.

I don't think people realize just the amount of grooming that cocker spaniels need.  Part of that is because most cockers look like they haven't been groomed at all.  Anyone who's seen a cocker in a show clip (English or American) would, if they didn't know better, think that that's the way the dog looked naturally.  Or, at least pretty close.

But no.  It takes a lot of work to get a cocker to look as good as they do at dog shows.  But before the three hour grooming and bathing session, often times there's this:

Photo Credit:  Mike Baird from here
I won't get into the particulars, but we used to use four or five different kinds of scissors, four or five different kinds of brushes & combs, and three different sizes of clipper blades to get our cockers ready for the show ring.  Pet clips weren't as bad... but it was still an hour job on average.

The second reason I will probably not own a cocker spaniel ever again is ... you never know what you're going to get.


If you get a dog that's true to the breed's personality, everything is pretty good.  Those dogs love everyone to the point of fault -- they'll jump into the arms of your mugger and beg for cookies.  They're carefree and happy-go-lucky, and constant clowns.  They're willing to make a fool out of themselves just to make you laugh, and they LOVE to be around their people -- sometimes more than they like to be around dogs.

If you get something else, though... it's something else.  I've seen cocker spaniels that were in the lap of someone one moment, and the next they were trying to take that person's face off -- all with seemingly no provocation.  I've seen cocker spaniels that show almost every good sign that they're going to come up and lick you to death and then they try to take a finger off.

I've never seen a breed that, when the personality is bad, they have absolutely NO warning system before a bite.  Even most of the chihuahuas I've met at least will growl at you a good long while before they try to take a hand off.  Cocker spaniels go from quiet look to removing flesh at an alarming rate... if they're on the bad end of the breed personality.

I suppose every breed can be like that.  And I haven't had a cocker spaniel in a while.  Maybe things have changed now.  When we were showing them, they were still just falling out of place for the #1 most popular breed in America, and had been over-bred and had a host of problems.

And the last reason I will probably never own a cocker spaniel again is:  They are stubborn as all hell.

Cocker spaniels are SMART.  They figure things out and if they are motivated enough they can learn anything.

If they want to.

I actually got a Companion Dog title on one of our cocker spaniels when I was growing up.  I stuck it out for three years with that dog for that CD title... and I don't think I could have done it with any other dog.  Because Tattle was smart as hell... and I even think she wanted to do as I asked for the most part...

... unless something was more interesting.

... or I wasn't within sight.

... or I went more than 30 feet away.

... or some really good smell was on the ground.

... or she hadn't gotten a good night's rest that day, and man she needed a nap.

You get the picture.

I have a desire to do agility, competition obedience, or herding.  Some other dog sport or something.  And if I decide to do it with a cocker spaniel, it will take approximately 10 extra years in my opinion.

So there ya go.  My opinion on cocker spaniels in general.  I suppose I haven't really painted a glowing picture of them, but that's why I call these posts breed opinions.  :)

Do you agree with mine?


You Want Me to Groom -What-?

Grooming.  Honestly, I effing hate grooming in general.

I'm not talking about bathing.  Bathing and drying I don't have a problem with.  It's when you're pulling out clippers & scissors and dog nail clippers that I start having a problem.

I grew up in a dog-showing home that had cocker spaniels.  We had (at any given moment) a montage of at least 10 dogs.  They were (at any given time during the week) all in various stages of grooming.  So most of my formidable years were spent grooming SOMETHING every weekend.

I'm not sure if anyone who wasn't subject to that sort of thing can relate.  When you want to hang out with friends or go to the skating rink, and you mother says it's okay -- after you give Sprite and Irish a pet clip, wash three other dogs, and make sure all the crates are taken outside and scrubbed -- then you start to get a bit of resentment.

So I am REALLY, REALLY good at giving dogs a cocker spaniel haircut.  Especially a pet clip.

I am REALLY REALLY bad at any other type of doggy haircut.  Especially on a dog who is such an undefinable combination of breeds that there really is no set or good way to determine how to "properly" groom her.  [Read: Sadie]

All past dogs in my life, if they required grooming, have been given some modification of a cocker spaniel pet clip.  My old shih-tzu, Pepper, probably got the worst of it when I had him.  In fact, I actually brought him to a few dog shows where his haircut was so ... strange ... that people asked me what breed of dog he was.

So having said that, now let me say this:  I groomed Sadie over the weekend.

She looks ... interesting...

If nothing else, she will shed less & will be a bit cooler.  She doesn't look as strange as when I shaved her completely down about a year ago... but still pretty strange.  I took video, too, and I'll be posting that at some point within the next few weeks.

But I didn't take video as an instruction or informational type of video.  The results at the end will make that self-evident.

I did it because regardless of the results, and regardless of how I feel about grooming in general, grooming your dog is beneficial to both you AND your dog -- and unless Fluffy's a champion show dog with going into the ring who's trying for perfection, it doesn't freaking matter what the end result is like.

But I will be getting more into that when I put up the video.  :)

In the meantime, here is a video of a lab in a bathtub getting a bath.  This dog is more relaxed, I think, than I have ever been in my entire life.  And that's saying something:


Dog Park - Day 1

I can't say Sadie's always been a fan of dog parks.  She didn't start out as a fan of car rides, dog parks, or anything outside our little hallway when I first got her.

Now, though, she's about the dog parks.  Maybe not so much the car rides (unless there's a squirrel outside of the window), but the dog parks ... she loves those.  This particular trip was very early in the morning, so we were the only ones there.  Sometimes it's more fun that way, too.

Here's the video:

You can get a good look at her goofy combination of basset hound and sheltie when she's perched on top of the picnic table.  Soon I'll be posting some pictures of her bow-legged-ness.

Happy Saturday, all!

An Introduction to Sadiedog

I suppose I should introduce the puppy of spiffiness.

She is, after all, the coolest dog evar.*

Coolest dog evar ... if you measure coolness by length of nose.

Back in 2008, I had been living without a dog for just about two years.  For me, that was almost living without breathing.  Dogs had been a part of my life for so long, that without one I felt pretty empty -- like my life was missing something.  So after checking with my significant other at the time, I submitted an application to Sheltie Rescue of Georgia.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Two months later, I made the assumption that they didn't have a desire to adopt to me.  I had been honest, at least.  I mentioned that at the time, I was living in an apartment.  But I also mentioned that having owned Aussies in the past, I was greatly aware of the exercise requirement that a Sheltie would have.  However, I also knew that that was a story rescues hear all the time ... and most of those stories turn out to be not true.  It was true in my case, but they had no way of knowing that.

The first place I looked (after deciding that Sheltie rescue was uninterested) was at the local animal control facility.  There just weren't any dogs there that I felt would have been a good fit, although I wanted to save them all.

On a trip out to see the boyfriend's mother, she suggested we go to the closest animal shelter out there, just to look.  So we loaded up in my car and took a trip out to the Randolph County Animal Shelter.

The place was tucked away down a dirt road, in a town that consisted of a fast-food joint, three gas stations, and a high school.  When we pulled up, I was seriously doubtful I was going to find my dog there.  I thought for sure the only things that we would see were going to be Red-tick Coon Hounds and Pit Bulls.

But as we entered, there were quite a variety of dogs.  In fact, the first dog I had a one-on-one with was a little Jack Russell mix.  He didn't seem to have any interest in me, though, and I thought I was going to be disappointed again.

Then the shelter worker suggested I take out this short, funny-looking thing with Sheltie coloring.  They brought her over to me, and this dog was CLEARLY unimpressed by me.  In fact, she seemed eager to go back in the pen with the other dogs.  She was absolutely nervous to be out of her element.  She was also completely sweet, if not horribly shy, and although she was nervous she seemed to be trying to figure out what to do to ... interact with us correctly.

"That's Sandy," said the lady, looking down at the shaky, funny-looking mutt in front of me.  "We had to put her brother down a few days ago.  I think she's scheduled for a few days from now."

Well, then.

About 45 minutes later, we were in the car with "Sandy" in the back seat.  She was shaking like an epileptic and looking around with huge, brown eyes as the world zipped by us.  I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into.

Sadie, about a month after she was brought home, with her sheep man toy.

The first few months were a whole new experience for me.  All of the dogs I'd had in the past were dogs that I'd either had to calm down and train them to be not so excited, or dogs that were fear aggressive who I had to gain their trust and teach them greeting manners.

Sadie in a 'relaxed state' on the couch, three months after coming home.

"Sandy", who was now renamed Sadie, had no desire at all to interact with people.

She wasn't aggressive.  She wasn't destructive.  She wasn't excitable or ... much of anything.  In fact, for the first three days, she didn't eat anything at all.

After four months of having to bar the hallway with a suitcase so she wouldn't sit in the dark corridor and not move for hours and hours at a time, I said to my boyfriend at the time, "Maybe I should bring her back to the shelter...?"

"What?"  He looked at me as if I'd had two heads.

"She's clearly unhappy here.  Nothing that I'm doing is working.  She's miserable."

He looked at the dog, who at the time was snoozing beside me on the couch.  "First of all, she's doing great.  She's not exactly perfectly happy, but  ... look at her.  She loves you.  She wasn't doing that a few months ago..."

I peeked down at her, and she did seem relaxed, if not overjoyed to be alive.  Then again, she was asleep.  "Yeah, I guess so..."

"And if you bring her back, what do you think will happen?  Who do you think is going to adopt a dog who doesn't want anything to do with them and runs away?  If you bring her back, she's going to be put to sleep.  And that's better than trying to work with her here some more?"

"I didn't think about that."

"Well, you're not bringing her back.  She'll come out of her shell, you'll be able to help her.  You'll see."

Sadie in a 'more relaxed state' on the couch 4 months after she got home.

It's taken three years, multiple moves, a lot of stuff happening in our lives, and I've finally realized that (as a wise person once said) I didn't get the dog I wanted ... I got the dog I needed.

She's still not an 'outgoing' dog when it comes to new people.  But she's come miles and miles.  She plays!  She runs!  She chases squirrels and cats and sometimes bears!  She's funny and one of the most snuggly dogs you will ever meet.  She's smart and probably one of the best behaved dogs I've ever owned.

And she is ALWAYS interesting.  I don't know what I would do without her.

So there you go.  A very short version of the story of Sadie.  No doubt there will be more in the future.  Life with her is always exciting.  :)


* "coolest dog evar" may be a biased opinion of the author

New Toys

So Sadie and I went to the pet store today.  She needed some food.  It never fails that while I'm there, I get her something else, too.  This time we walked away with 2 toys; a rope toy and a lil' Nylabone.

Over the years, she's had one other rope toy.  She was never that interested in it -- she's not really a 'tug-of-war' kind of dog.  In fact, she is opposite of a 'tug-of-war' kind of dog.  My efforts to get her to play tug-of-war usually result in her letting go of the toy and giving me a wounded, "Fine.  If you want it that bad, just effing take it, mom.  No need to be so forceful.  Geeze.  So violent..."

Shiny new rope toy!

Still, occasionally she'll pick it up and shake it.  Occasionally, she'll shake it and let it go and it will fly across the room and bash into something breakable.  Occasionally, it flies across the room and into my eyeball.  It depends on how vindictive she's feeling that day.

She actually already has a Nylabone.  She's had this Nylabone for about 5 freaking years.  When I got it, I had no idea what kind of a chewer she'd be, so I covered my bets and got a Nylabone for "STRONG" chewers.

Sadie is not a "STRONG" chewer.  Sadie is a "dainty" chewer.  As a result, even after 5 years her old Nylabone looks like this:

The ends could put out someone's eyeball.

So I figured I'd get her a Nylabone for "dainty" chewers:

"I feel pretty!  Oh so pretty!"

I wasn't sure how she'd like it, and I couldn't really pop it out of the packaging in the store to test it.  So it had to wait until we got home to see if she'd like it.  Judging from the video below, I'd say it was a good purchase:

I'm not sure the rope toy will be as much of a hit.  Also, judging from the video, I will have to pre-think before filming to make my bed so I don't come across as a complete slobby-slob when posting videos on YouTube.  Don't judge, it's Saturday!

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.