News from the Kennel Club of Philadelphia

 

If your holiday plans include watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by The National Dog Show on television, you’re in luck! Each grand event is still on the schedule, but expect some changes.

Biggest changes for the dog show: no spectators in the audience, and no dogs will be “benched” for the public to view. Also missing: vendors, sponsors and media representatives, with the exception of NBC personnel. (Makes sense, as they’re airing the event.) Nurses will be on site; masks, hand sanitizers, and physical distancing between officials as well as dogs and their handlers.

Here are key excerpts from the Philadelphia Kennel Club’s announcement about this year’s event. I’ve also included links to the most recent updates I could find.

  • With full attention being given to state and local health and safety issues for activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and under the guidance of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and the Montgomery County Department of Health, a single, two-day show will be held on Nov. 14- 15 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.
  • The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show will go forward in 2020 with no spectators and with the approving guidance of regional health and safety authorities. The show will be televised on Thanksgiving Day (noon-2 p.m. in all time zones), Nov. 26, following the telecast of NBC’s “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”
  • In recent years, the club has conducted two separate dog shows during the big Philadelphia weekend, but this November the club will conduct just one show divided over those two days. The competition will be limited to some 600 dogs (200 each day), a decrease of 70% from the near-2000 entries usually on hand. Four groups will be judged on Saturday, with the remaining three plus Best In Show set for Sunday.
  • Further information on the National Dog Show and the Kennel Club of Philadelphia Dog Shows can be obtained at www.nationaldogshow.com

Find updated information at https://nds.nationaldogshow.com/ and NBC Sports.com.

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New in 2020! According to https://sports.nbcsports.com/2020/11/13/what-to-know-about-national-dog-show-2020-thanksgiving/ we’ll see three breeds make their National Dog Show debut:

  • The Barbet, which competes in the Sporting Group, originated as a water dog in France. The breed has a curly coat that can be black, gray, brown, or fawn in color, sometimes with white markings. The Barbet is a calm dog but was bred to help retrieve birds. The breed’s name comes from the French word “barbe,” which means beard.
  • The rare Belgian Laekenois (“Lak-in-wah”) joins the Herding Group. This strong, sturdy and protective breed has a rough, tousled coat that can be shades of red, fawn or grey. The Belgian Laekenois was originally bred and raised to guard livestock and linens drying outside before serving as messenger dogs during WWI and WWII.
  • The Dogo Argentino, which falls under the Working Group, was originally a pack-hunting dog in Argentina. The breed was known to take down wild boar and puma, among other large game. Dogo Argentinos have short, white coats, but a dark patch near the eye is permitted as long as it doesn’t cover too much of the head.

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A Safe Haven

If you’re a fan of the Superman comics, you’ve probably heard stories about his Fortress of Solitude. Depending on which fan group you follow, some believe the fortress to be a stronghold, while others argue it’s a secret weapons cache, and still others see it as a safe haven free of destructive forces. Personally, I like the idea of a safe haven, and not just for superheroes.

Since late summer, I’ve come to think of my home office as my own fortress–a safe haven from the unpredictable and the scary. One scare in particular has me spending even more time sequestered with my beautiful Sheltie by my side. In addition to gall bladder problems (common, I’ve learned, for many of her breed), Sasha developed a large mass on her side which grew so rapidly our veterinarian recommended removal. The surgery and subsequent use of a Penrose drain at the surgical site meant Sasha stayed in my office so I can watch her closely. I set up her portable crate next to my desk, and Buddy The Wonder Cat promptly claimed the top. (Have I mentioned he considers Sasha “his dog”?) She’s ignored the crate for the most part, preferring instead to stretch out on the floor on her Thomas the Train blanket.

Overall, she’s been a real trooper, accepting the entire process with grace and, recently, a resurgence of her good humor, although she’s no fan of the T-shirts I’m using to cover her torso, and has managed–twice– to wiggle out of a securely-pinned shirt. (She demonstrates her disdain for the shirt by pushing it into a far corner of the room.) Fortunately, she hasn’t bothered the incision (and it’s a big one) even when it’s not covered. As for me, I’ve started a countdown calendar and am longing for the day when my girl can resume squirrel patrol in the yard and long walks in the park.

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You’d think with all this time in the office I would have made progress on Dangerous Deeds, wouldn’t you? I’d like to say I did, but I confess I’ve channeled most of my energy into helping Sasha. Along the way, though, I did spend some time on Book #3 in the series. Watch this site for a forthcoming sneak peek at what’s ahead for the gang at Waterside Kennels.

Get Ready and Go!

Photo from AKC

Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods– there’s always a chance natural disasters will hit where you or your loved ones live. It’s a good idea to tune the NOAA Weather Radio to your local emergency station to hear the latest reports of weather in your area. And if you’re watching weather conditions where friends and family live, the FEMA app allows you to track National Weather Service reports from five different locations anywhere in the US.

Have a plan! This Pet Disaster Kit Checklist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (commonly known as the CDC) is one of the best I’ve seen; print copies and keep it with the essential documents you’ll take with you.

The American Kennel Club publishes expert advice and information regarding pet safety in the event you have to flee your home. Your dog’s go-bag should include items such as:

  • bottled drinking water (during an emergency, tap water can be contaminated)
  • food in waterproof containers or cans. (Choose pop-top tins or pack a can opener.) Bring enough for at least two weeks
  • food and water bowls.
  • prescription medications and other required health supplies
  • dog first aid kit
  • poop bags and other clean-up supplies
  • familiar items like toys, bedding, and blankets to comfort your dog.
  • stress-relieving items like an anxiety vest or calming sprays if your dog is prone to anxiety

Build your own “Go” bag.  Use a backpack or small tote to stash extra kibble, leashes, collars, and basic first-aid supplies. Tag everything with your name, address, phone number, and/or email. Collapsible bowls are a great addition and don’t take much space. Put paperwork in sealed plastic bags, and make sure to include your name, address, and phone number!

If you’re traveling by vehicle, add extra jugs of water, towels, tarps, ropes, and bungees. Duct tape and small hand tools can be easily stored beneath a seat. If you have to evacuate on foot, roll up the tarp and fasten it to your backpack with those ropes or bungees.  If you are stranded on the side of the road or have to camp outdoors, you’ll be able to rig up a basic shelter.

For more resources and information about pet-focused disaster planning, check out AKC’s emergency evacuation plan. And take time to review their suggestions for what to include in your first-aid kit for pets.

Identification: Microchips are one smart way to ID your pets. My Sasha and Buddy The Wonder Cat are both microchipped and registered with AKC Reunite. Make sure you complete your registration and keep your contact info current.

Take photos now of your pets. Photograph them standing, left and right profiles, and face-on head shots. Take additional photos showing you with your pets. If you can tag or add metadata to each photo, that’s even better. (To learn how, click here.) Save copies to Dropbox and/or email them to yourself and others. That way, if you lose your phone or computer, you can easily retrieve them.

Check out these helpful resources:

Emergency Preparedness: The Essential Guide for Dog Owners

Create a “bug out bag” for your cat

Pets in Evacuation Centers

How to Pack an Emergency Go-Bag for Pets

Favorite blankets and toys make a portable crate comfortable. Sasha routinely naps in hers!

Communicate! Let family, friends, and co-workers know your plans. Social media can be a great tool to help you stay in contact. And have a back-up plan, to include alternate routes and destinations. And remember: cell towers and Internet providers may be impacted by disasters, so share that info ahead of time.

From the AKC:

Remember that you might not be home when disaster strikes. Plan for being away from your pets and/or being unable to get to them. Consider making arrangements with someone who can get to your dog when you can’t like a neighbor, dog walkerpet sitter, or local doggy daycare. And place a rescue alert sticker at your front door to let people know there are pets inside your house. Be sure it includes the types and number of pets you own as well as your veterinarian’s phone number. If you are able to take your pets with you during an evacuation, please write “Evacuated” across the sticker if time allows so rescue workers don’t waste precious time at your home.

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Wherever you are, I hope you’ll take time today to review your own disaster preparation plans. Safety first!

Dangerous Dogs: Fact and Fiction

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Who was it who said that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans? That’s certainly true for writers–at least, for some of us. I’m frankly awed by those who produce well-crafted novels every year (and sometimes more often than that) and I’m the first to agree I’m not in that league. Instead, I’m comfortable doing things my way in my own time. Since the major plot lines for the series are drawn from both life and legend, the research process for each book is proving to be an adventure all its own.

Dangerous Deeds, the second book in the Waterside Kennels mystery series, tackles two hot topics that are rumbling through the region: land fraud and dog ownership. Researching these real-life issues led me to courthouses, community meetings, newspaper archives, legal records (both on- and off-line) and animal shelters. Along the way I’ve interviewed county deputies, elected officials, and environmentalists as well as kennel owners, dog trainers, veterinarians, and community activists. Along the way I learned that people are prone to what scholars term confirmation bias–that is, they’re most likely to believe whatever evidence supports their personal beliefs. They’re vocal in expressing their opinions and quick to dismiss opposing perspectives.

Take the issue of “dangerous dogs” for example. You can find plenty of anecdotal information supporting the position that some specific breeds are inherently dangerous and should be banned. Look further and you’ll find scholarly studies disputing that. Based on these studies, it would appear that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a flawed approach while Breed Neutral Legislation (BNL) takes a more responsible view. In summary:

The data, scientific studies, and risk rates all confirm that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue. For canine regulation, it is important to understand the differences between the two major forms of regulation – breed-specific legislation (BSL) and breed-neutral legislation (BNL). BSL is a limited, single-factor, appearance-based approach while BNL is a comprehensive, multi-factorial, behavior-based approach. For public safety, BSL imposes regulations on a minority of dogs based only on their appearance or breed (regardless of a dog’s behavior or responsible ownership) while breed-neutral regulations address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations – regardless of a dog’s appearance or breed. Consequently, multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded that BSL is ineffective; furthermore, it is a discriminatory trend in decline evidenced by the vast majority (98%) of cities and towns that use breed-neutral regulations as their primary and only form of regulation because of the many advantages of breed-neutral regulations summarized on our breed legislation page. For public safety and to reduce dog bite incidents, the data and scientific studies both validate that the most effective solutions are breed-neutral and address the human end of the leash.

While there are some who may question the value of this source, the inclusion of scholarly studies, reports, and position statements from credible associations suggest it’s worth taking the time to review the information and links before making up your mind.

And despite the plethora of peer-reviewed studies and expert positions, there are many who prefer instead to support boycotts and breed bans.  I’ve drawn upon real-life incidents, actions, and attitudes reflecting both sides of the issue to create authentic conflict for my protagonist as she finds herself in legal jeopardy when an opponent is found murdered on her property. To save herself, Maggie must unravel the web of deceit and discover the truth before nefarious foes can succeed in their efforts to destroy all she holds close to her heart.

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Pet Safety: Keep Calm And Carry On

I live in a community that lights up the sky by setting off roman candles, skyrockets, and any other sort of firecrackers–legal or otherwise– guaranteed to delight thrill-seekers. Everyone else, not so much.

Buddy the Wonder Cat was a rescue who came to us at just three months of age, so we’ve had lots of time to create positive experiences for him. Still, those first three months on his own are etched in his memory, and the Feral Cat Within emerges in times of stress or pain and his first instinct is to hide.

My Rescue Kitty Buddy

We’ve done our best to create a calm environment for the holidays like the Fourth of July. We’ve managed Buddy’s anxiety by keeping doors and windows closed and fans running. We have one pedestal fan that’s so loud–even on its lowest setting–that I’m reminded of C-130 cargo planes and B-52 bombers. We set that up in the bedroom and watch one of his favorite non-scary movies. He’s still prone to diving under the covers, but otherwise he’s reasonably calm. We bolster that sense of calm with catnip, soft treats, and tickle-time with his favorite brush.

Fireworks tend to invoke an Aaugh!!! reaction in Sasha, although we’ve worked hard to help her manage anxiety over noise. Instead of barking wildly at every burst of thunder, for example, she’s more likely to grumble her way through a storm. We’ve conditioned her to be calm (well, calmer) through a barrage of fireworks by keeping her close beside me, and tossing tiny bits of cheddar cheese  or chunks of cucumber her way. She’s agreeable to Buddy’s choice of movies as long as there are no monsters, mummies, gunfights, or battle scenes. If she has to go out in the fenced backyard after dark, we keep her close by using a short leash. That seems to add a sense of security for her, as does having her travel crate set up next to the bed with a favorite toy for company. She clearly views that as her safe zone:

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Here are some helpful tips to remember:

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Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, I hope you find ways to keep your pets calm and safe!