The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries from February 2010

Energy Level- Finding a Canine Match

February 14th, 2010 · No Comments · Musings

An important consideration when acquiring a dog is the matter of energy levels, yours and his. One of the reasons that so many dogs end up needing to be rehomed before their first birthday is a failure to consider this factor when selecting a dog.

Think about what you like to do in your leisure time. How would a dog fit into your routine? If you are the type who enjoys long runs or a bike rides on a daily basis, by all means acquire a dog who can join you. In this case, huskies, border collies, and any of the field dogs would make a good match. If you want company on the sofa when you watch movies, (Higher energy dogs are also great at this but you have to exercise them first!), you might want to consider a Pekingese or a greyhound. Many breed books rate the energy levels and exercise requirements of the various breeds. Give this information your attention; it is an important area of compatibility for both of you and will certainly influence the nature of your relationship with your dog to a large extent. Things can get stickier with mixed breeds and there’s no doubt that you are taking a gamble. But who knows? Maybe getting that mixed breed dog who is a ball of energy might be just the catalyst you need to get your own exercise routine initiated. But do be realistic about how much time and energy you can devote to exercising your dog; it is hard to change your habits. Young dogs under two years of age in some high energy breeds need a minimum of two hours of real exercise daily. [Read more]

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Yukon Quest 2010

February 7th, 2010 · No Comments · Mushing-northern dogs

Lance Mackey is off on his 1,000 mile trek

The Yukon Quest began yesterday and you can check out the mushers’ progress. One of the neatest features of this official website is the live tracking that’s available for each musher. You can see all the check point arrival and departure times for each musher and where they are on the trail at any given moment. Pretty exciting stuff. As of this posting Zack Steer is running in first place with Lance Mackey close behind. For all the details on standings and trail conditions check out Yukon Quest.

Hugh Neff has heart-to-heart with his lead dog before heading out on the trail

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From My Reading List: Inside of a Dog What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

February 2nd, 2010 · 1 Comment · Book Reviews

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for quite a while. Its been given a nod of approval by the likes of Patricia McConnell, a behavourist whose judgment I respect. I wasn’t disappointed. This is an important book for those of us who are interested in the study of canine behaviour and who would like a deeper and more accurate understanding of dogs.  Horowitz is an ethologist; that is she studies the cognition of various species including rhinoceroses, humans and of course dogs.

What is offered to the reader between these covers is a rare opportunity to get beyond the anthropomorphisms that cloud our thinking about dogs and , “Understanding a dog’s perspective – through understanding his abilities, experience, and communication-provides that vocabulary. But we can’t translate it simply through an introspection that brings our own umwelt along….We can glimpse this by ‘acting into’ the umwelt (Perception and action combine to define and circumscribe reality for each living thing; umwelt is essentially any creature’s subjective reality.) of another animal-mindful of the constraints our sensory system places on our ability to truly do so.”

This book will lead you to be much more observant of your dog’s behaviour. After reading the section in “Inside of a Dog” that describes olfactory functioning in canines I began to notice details about how dogs sniff when out on walks. I was able to visualize the physiology of their exploration and begin to imagine the intensity of the input. It puts a whole new spin on yellow snow. As is always the case, the more one knows about a certain thing the more fascinating it becomes.

Alexandra Horowitz is a devoted and enlightened lover of dogs. Her capacity for empathy is remarkable. This book is authentic; there is no dumbing down. At the same time it is very readable; the authorial voice is warm and intimate. It manages to convey a wealth of intriguing information.

I can not resist quoting here the epigram the author has chosen to precede her text because it never fails to make me smile. Its a classic:

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend,
Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Attributed to Groucho Marx

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