Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Going to a Dog Show

Normally I would be saying, "the van is packed and ready." But these are not normal times.


I love my van. I adore my van. I bought my van back in the day when I was a full time R.N. and getting paid! I actually put a monthly "car payment" in a savings account, (earning interest instead of paying it) and when it was time to buy the van, I bought it. The van before this one had been bought used, but this was shiny new and spacious.

It is a fifteen passenger van. A church bus. A big airport shuttle. We took the bench seats out and filled in the cavern with dog crates and bins of my collars to sell and even a full sized x-pen up on a platform. All nine of the dogs ride comfortably, with room for a friend of the canine or human persuasion.

But I have not loaded the van for this trip.

I have taken crates out of the van and put them in... I still hate to say it out loud... the Buick. Rendezvous.

Our other car was always a Subaru wagon, since 1983. Except for a three year hiatus when we thought Japan wasn't trading fairly so we bought a Saturn. Other than that since 1983, we had a Subaru. Lulu the Subaru was the dog car before there was a van, back when there was a truck and horse trailer. She was a good luck, happy times dog car. She continued to be a happy car for our daughter an her husband after she left us. That was a great car.

But the whippets outgrew Subarus, and graduated to vans, and the Subaru became our get around car. And that's how we got the Rendezvous. I was getting around to picking up my new glasses and two desperately needed new bras. (I do not enjoy shopping, and I never budget time on purpose for it. I detest malls. I think that's what's wrong with this country: Walmart and malls. Have you ever seen a happy person at a Walmart or a mall?) But since I had to pick up my glasses, I figured I could drive on out and get something significantly less tired than my current undergarments were.

I found two bargain bras out at the "mall area" (not at the mall and not at Walmart) and I was sitting in the latest Lulu the Subaru at the stop light in front of Chuckie Cheese's thinking about my soon to be perkier figure and my authorly new glasses, when the loudest noise exploded me and next thing I knew a nice man was asking me if I was all right. I thought it odd that I should be lying flat on my back when I should have been sitting at a stop light. And my neck hurt and both of my hands were pins and needles.

Turns out the lady going forty mph in her nice big Mercedes didn't notice the red light, neither did she spot the Subaru stopped at it, nor the car stopped in front of the Subaru, or the two cars stopped in the other lane, and she didn't bother even stepping on her brake the tiniest bit, but instead let the back of my Subaru and the car in front of the Subaru do the stopping of her nice big Mercedes for her.

We think she had a habit of doing stuff like that, because she wasn't insured.

Those two bargain bras cost our insurance company somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000.00 each.

Bill met me at the hospital. He had found my new glasses which had been on my face, back by the tail light in the way back of poor Lulu. She was totaled.

She had done her job of protecting me, and by some real honest miracle, I had not taken Mama Pajama with me. It was when she was too sick to go on even a short walk, and to make up for it, I'd take her in the car for little errands. Now, I'd written articles on the importance of having dogs secured in vehicles, since in even a minor fender bender a dog becomes a flying object and when it's dog versus windshield, the dog doesn't usually fare so very well. But to give Mama Pajama something to be happy about I had been ignoring my own advice and had been letting her ride shotgun.

I had, thank goodness, left her home that day, and I cannot think about what would have happened had I not. Sweet Mama Pajama is well enough to go on her walks now, and when she rides in a car or the van she is in a secured crate.

So my neck hurt a bit, but we had some big thing going on at the Kennel Club and I was to be there. It was about a week after the accident. Bill asked about another car. What kind should we get, since there were no Subaru dealers here. I hurt. I didn't care. It was up to him.

At the Kennel Club, Bill called my cell phone and said he'd found a car. A Buick. A Rhonda something or other. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention, but when I told my friends, they said, "A Rendezvous?" And their faces looked a little funny when they asked if I had ever seen a Rendezvous. (Dog people know every vehicle made which has room for crates in the back.)

I got home, and at that point my neck was screaming bad things at me, but I stopped dead in my tracks. My husband had bought a big Gremlin!

He came bounding out of the house, surrounded by clouds of excitement. "How do you like it?" he gushed.

"It's a Gremlin on steroids."

1970 AMC Gremlin photo from www.carpictures.com

"Oh that hurts my heart a little," he said.

But that Rendezvous has been a good car. Bill gloats when I put my crates in the Vous to save money on gas. There is a lot of room back there. And we drove it to a vineyard in Missouri on a fun trip with our dear neighbors and we laughed the whole two hours there and back. Bill giving the V sign to any other Rendezvous driver that passed, and calling it his Babe Machine.

And the dealer did take a big painting as partial payment, so that car is extra special to him.

Tomorrow the Vous will take me and Lindy Loo and Swede William to the Midwest Specialty. I didn't think I'd be going, but my friend Carolyn who's fighting the damn brain cancer is going to go. Crystal said the dogs and I can stay in her camper. And the Vous will drink a lot less gas than the van.

Bill's Babe Machine. I can't help but chuckle.

We'll be back Monday, but won't have Internet til then.

Hug your hounds

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sweden, Final Thoughts

From our first sleepless day in Stockholm, we were blown away by Sweden's quiet complexity. I felt like a kindergartner in graduate school. We saw car after car that we can't get in the USA, and we wanted them! The Toyota Yaris - the European 2000 Car of the Year, available since 1999 in Europe. We finally have a variant over here now, but it's not the same car. We coveted Lisa's van, and the Renault cargo vans we saw at the show, perfect for dog folk, but no can get at home.

We didn't see trash. Anywhere. What is wrong with us, that people think it's OK to drop their garbage wherever they please? There was a summer festival this past week downtown at the riverfront in my little city. When I walked the dogs Sunday morning, there were crews with giant leaf blowers, blowing huge amounts of garbage into mounds. Disgraceful.

The whippets in Scandinavia are, in my humble opinion, some of the best in the world. The breeders have retained whippet size and type, and still managed to get lovely free sidegait. And they've been able to avoid exaggeration, in shape and movement. Certainly Sweden's pro-active, scientific approach to breeding practices is to be emulated and admired.

I had some great fun with the language. It is so musical. And yes, folks, it does sound like the Muppets' Swedish Chef

But our own language is confusing enough. Crystal and I were figuring things out, and had been discussing both the price of things, and the new words we were hearing.

I said, "Hey is hi here."

Crystal said, "Hay is high? How do you know that?"

"I've noticed when folks are talking."

"You noticed when folks are talking that hay is high? How did you get that?"

"Because when you see people walk up to each other they say 'hey.'"

We laughed all week over hay is high.

And then there was the soup. This was a menu board at a delicious restaurant-

I guess if you get the pea soup or the tomato soup, well...

Oh and I have to tell you a funny story from home while I was away. We do live in a magical neighborhood. Folks truly help each other out, and watch out for one another. My beautiful, happily married, blond friend Karen, came every morning at the crack o'dawn, to help Bill walk the dogs. She would arrive at the back door at 6:30, walk the three groups with Bill, and leave through the front door, around 7:45 AM, to go home and take her shower and start her day. One day as she was leaving, coming out our front gate, another neighbor who was out doing his dog walking duty, stopped dead in his tracks and said, rather sternly, "What are you doing?"

Karen has continued to come over early and walk with me, since I've been home, and it's with a great sense of relief that my other neighbor smiles broadly and says, "Good morning!" to Karen as she leaves.

I will be forever grateful to Swede William's breeder Lisa. Well, I already was indebted to her for life, for entrusting me with Swede William. But this trip would not have happened without her.

Sweden is a beautiful place. I foolishly thought we had everything in the USA, feeling a little sorry for the less fortunate folks in rest of the world. I came home feeling that the U in USA stands for Uncivilized. We do have a lot here. We have a lot of poverty, litter, dirt, people without health care, and gas guzzling cars. I left Sweden thinking we should be able to do a lot better in America.

The Whippet Congress was all I had hoped it would be and more. Our Swedish hosts were so gracious and the whole event was so well planned that it was a seamless pleasure for the attendees. There were some wild goings on at night, (I heard rumors about some crazy, blond Brits, and a Swede or two, with some Norwegians thrown in for good measure!) but I was happy to fall into my little coffin and snuggle with Swede William's family.

And then there is Bill. The man who wouldn't have one dog cared for my nine without a complaint. He encouraged me to go. He picked up poop and helped the Very Old Dog up and down the stairs a hundred times a day. He emailed me to let me know things were fine because he knew I would worry. And he didn't worry about the cost - we'd work it out.

Some things in America are just right, and are so worth coming home to.

hug your hounds


Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Swedish National Whippet Specialty (Sweden part eleven)

Since leaving Lisa and Krister's house, we stayed in a lovely hotel in Enkoping, the Park Astoria. Oh, and Enkoping should have an umlaut over the o, and this took some practice, but it is pronounced Ee-yin-SHOOO-ping. Yes, dear readers, the k is pronounced sh. How about that!

Lisa moved into our hotel when Helene went home, and Latte (Swede William's daddy who belongs to Helene) did too. Lucky Crystal was going to get to show him in the National. I was a teensy bit envious, but I tried not to let it show.

These were Crystal's and Lisa's beds:

What's that brown lump in Lisa's bed?

Oh it's a tired puppy. The WORLD SHOW Best Junior Whippet, that's all.

This was my bed which I shared with Bree and Stavros:

I called it The Coffin. It was actually a couch, but it was still more comfortable than our bed at home.

We had breakfast in the hotel (tomorrow, the very last post on this trip to Sweden, I will tell you dear readers about the free breakfasts in that hotel) with our wonderful Belgian friends, Rita and Gilbert. (Pronounce that Gheee-BEAR, oh isn't la langue francais si belle! Oui!) We were glad to be with Lisa to help her lug stuff to the show ring. We had set up her tents and dropped off the crate in the evening before we left Kragga Manor. Spirits were high, on the part of dogs and humans: it was a dog show! The day was purely perfect, with clear skies and bright sun and a sweet breeze.

Well, it turned out that I was going to get to show a dog after all. Oh this was too exciting for words. Swede William's lookalike litter brother Looper needed a handler, since Helene had gone home. Oh. My. Goodness. I was going to get to show a dog in Swedish Whippet National! Life was enormously good.

The little puppies showed first, cutie pies all, and then it was Lisa and Stavros' turn. He looked magnificent.

But the judge didn't notice him on that day, and that's dog showing.

Then it was the Americans' turns! Crystal and I went in the ring with William's older brother Dustin and Looper in the huge as huge Open Dog class. Looper takes after his dad more, and William his mom, but there is no doubt they are brothers. And his eyes! I looked in his eyes, and my own eyes got a little leaky.

Crystal went first with Dustin

Then it was Looper's turn

They both got "excellent" which means they got to come back in to compete with the other "excellent" dogs in their class. Looper's dad, Anders, was so excited! He and his wife were the nicest, sweetest couple and they do love their first whippet. That's his registered name: Burnt Sienna Midsummer Love. (William is Burnt Sienna Midsummer Night.) Looper went to rest a bit, and then we went back in the ring.

Looper made the next cut. Oh lordy this was so exciting! Looper was a dream to show - he loves it as much as William does. I had to keep reminding myself that this was real and not a dream.

He ended up finishing second in the class. SECOND IN THE CLASS!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!! What a blast. I was so excited, I thought it was impossible to be any more excited until I saw Looper's mom and dad! Wild! We were so thrilled. What a great memory.

Then I got to cheer for Crystal and William's daddy Latte.

They got fourth in the CHAMPION class, so we were a couple of really happy American dog show ladies. Thanks to some generous, good dogs, that is.
We found a great little restaurant in Enkoping, and had a wonderful dinner, and dessert of ice cream with a fancy yellow berry that only lives in Sweden and is a specialty. I think they are cloudberries, but I only heard the Swedish name: hjortron. I have no clue how to pronounce that. A lady brought her little dog in the restaurant (we're so uncivilized in this country) and I was glad I'd be seeing mine soon.
We would say goodbye to Lisa, and Bree, Stavros, and Latte, early in the morning. We would say goodbye to Sweden.
It had been purely magical.
hug your hounds
to be continued... HERE

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Congress Ends (Sweden part ten)

Crystal and your writer goofing around at the podium.

The second, and final, day of the Fifth International Whippet Congress did not disappoint. We started right in - after heavenly coffee and oh my goodness pastries - with presentations on whippet health issues. Klara Helstad spoke of the RAS ("breed specific breeding strategy") project adopted by the Swedish Kennel Club in 2001. Member breed clubs are required to develop an RAS which contains:
  1. A description of the breed's history and development
  2. A description of the current situation in the breed (including information about the health of the breed, the genetic variation in the breed, and discussion about the breed's temperament, function, and exterior)
  3. Conclusion, goals and priorities for the future.

The Swedish Whippet Club worked from 2002 to 2005 preparing their RAS, which was approved by the Swedish Kennel Club in the fall of that year. The COI (percentage of inbreeding in a pedigree) was studied, health surveys were taken and analyzed along with data from the largest Swedish canine insurance company, and then goals were set, including

  • increase the number of whippets getting eye testing
  • increase the number of dogs used for breeding, to avoid popular sire syndrome
  • increase the number of whippets getting temperament testing
  • decrease the breed's average COI. The goal should be a maximum 2.5% increase per year
  • make a visit to a lure coursing event mandatory for show judges in training

Ms. Helsted reported that in the three years since the RAS had been approved, the average COI had continued to decrease to 2% in 2007. Temperament testings have slightly increased, but she pointed out that whippet owners might not feel that necessary. With the increase in eye exams, one case of Progressive Retinal Atrophy was found.

It was surprising to a number of attendees to hear that if you breed a parent/offspring litter or a sibling litter, you will receive a written warning from the Swedish Kennel Club, and a second such offense results in your expulsion. [Rock on, Swedish Kennel Club!!! ROCK ON!!!] This was met with some dismay from "old time" breeders and with applause from more modern folks.

Next up was our own Cathy Gaidos of the (American) Whippet Health Foundation. She described the Mission Statement:

  • To further the understanding of diseases, genetic anomalies, injuries and other ailments that affect dogs in general and the Whippet in particular.
  • To support and promote research on diseases, genetic anomalies, injuries, other ailments, the genetics and breeding of the Whippet.
  • To establish a data base of health and scientific educational and resource materials on the Whippet.
  • To develop and make available to general public and Whippet fanciers information about the proper care, breeding, health and development of Whippets.

And she talked about the WHF's awesome DATABASE, which is open to whippets all over the world. Pens were whipped out, and the URL was written down in 23 languages.

A sobering talk on eye testing in the Netherlands, given by the Dutchman Wim Wiersma, made everyone realise how critically important breeding practices and testing for genetic diseases are. In Holland, ten percent of the whippets tested prior to 1986 were positive for PRA. This meant, dear readers, they were, or would go blind. After years of testing, and careful breeding, in the years 2004 - 2008 only one case of PRA was found.

Next up was the brave Brit, Cathie Brown, to discuss the health of the whippet in the UK. She bemoaned the fact that there were precious few data, as there are no health testing policies in place. She was able to share an all breed survey conducted by the Kennel Club, but warned that results should be interpreted with caution. The overall response rate was only 24% with breed-specific response rates from 4.5% to 64%. Ms. Brown voiced her urgent desire that The Whippet Club immediately institute a more pro-active stance in health testing. She was met with a huge round of applause.

The next speaker was a geneticist from Poland, Natalia Bialokoz. She had already stupefied Crystal, with her encyclopedic knowledge of whippet pedigrees from all over the world. She spoke scientifically and eloquently about the need for heterozygocity (genetic diversity) in any population. She pointed out that in the wild, a population with below 4000 breeding individuals is in great danger of extinction. "Well," we all thought, "there are way more than 4000 whippets in the world." But she pointed out that

"... in Sweden only, during last ten years 626 litters were born, 3383 dogs,
which is roughly equal to the number of breedable animals during these
years. Huge number, considering it is only one country’s population, and not
even the most numerous. However, only 298 males and 436 females, 734 dogs in
total, were used in breeding at the same time – it is only a tiny part of the
whole whippet population, approximately 21 per cent. The rest, from genetic
point of view, could not exist at all. We should think only about the ones used
in breeding at least once, when talking about the size of whippet population.
Moreover, because of breeding practices, this population is far away from what
could be expected in nature – the dogs are inbred, many of them carry the same
combinations of genes. "

So, if over a ten year period, only 298 males were used, and some of those were "popular" sires, uh-oh. As she spoke, the audience was absolutely quiet and still. No fiddling, no coughing, no side conversations. She received a huge ovation, and was surrounded by folks with questions for her when she finished.

Gay Robertson of the UK next gave a wonderful presentation on speed and work, which is, after all, what the whippet was bred for. Iva Kimmelman from the USA brought some excellent slides to spark discussions on proportions and balance, with Dr. Bodegard moderating, and encouraging audience participation.

Iva Kimmelman leads her thought provoking discussion

We ate another delicious, gourmet dinner masquerading as lunch, and came back for a workshop on show ring presentation, given by American professional handler and all around good egg, Phoebe Booth. Phoebe gave a very brief talk indoors, and then out we all went to watch her work her magic. She took volunteer's dogs, and showed how you could stack them to their best advantage.

Ooohs and aahhhs were heard from the gallery as she made shoulders look better angulated, necks better arched, toplines smoother, and settled nervous dogs. Someone from Finland beside me said, "I wish she could show my dogs!"

To which I replied, "I have to show my dogs in the ring against her!"

"Oh," said my Finnish friends, sadly shaking their heads. "That is really a shame."

Phoebe moves a volunteer dog in front of the Kragga Manor house

Our last presentation of the day was Jacky: the first Whippet to become a Service Dog in Sweden. Jacky is also a Swedish and Danish Champion, and a tracking, lure coursing, and racing whippet. Jacky's human is a polio survivor, and she delighted in showing Jacky off.
This is a considerate whippet, and he didn't want to make all of the guests feel like their whippets were inferior, so he spent the first ten minutes of the demonstration summarily ignoring all commands while keeping his nose plastered to the floor. (Where there had been bitches in season parading themselves during the previous evening's Gala Match Show.)
Finally, he felt that we all were secure in our love for our own dogs, and he took of his owner's socks, pants (!), took her husband a beer, and picked up her keys, and even a credit card off the hard floor. He also picked up his toys and put them away in the red box you see above. He was delightful.

We then had an open forum, again moderated by the good doctor, where there was lively discussion of what was correct sidegait, more talk on genetics, discussion of health issues, and the conclusions of earlier topics.

Stavros chews his mini Henrietta the rubber play-chicken as Bree looks on

And with that, the Fifth International Whippet Congress was history. We moved Lisa, Bree, Stavros, and Swede William's daddy Latte into our hotel in town, and had a delicious dinner right next door. The next day would be the day for the males to show in the Swedish National Specialty Show, and Crystal and I would get to go in the ring! I would show William's brother Looper, and Crystal would show their older half brother Dustin, and Latte. Lisa, of course would show Stavros, and I swore she was much more pregnant than when we got there.

to be continued... HERE

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More International Congress (Sweden part nine)

The afternoon program went quickly, with very interesting presentations on the history of Scandinavian whippets. Lordy be those Scandinavians are just too gorgeous. It was a little difficult to concentrate on the words of the afore-mentioned (and pictured) young Cary Grant/Gregory Peck look-alike Magnus as he talked about Swede William's ancestors. Then came the illegally good looking Norwegian, Espen Engh, followed by the dishy Dane, Birgit Wamberg.

(photo Google images) Espen Engh, well, could YOU concentrate?

What a lovely relief it was to steal Lisa's two dogs and take a long walk around the whole estate during the break before dinner. Stavros and Bree were glad to stretch their legs, and I had the honor of getting the bashful boy to pee and poop! This is a big deal for a dog person!

We came back to dinner and the Gala Match Show. Dinner was indescribable (which is a foolish word to use, if I'm going to try to describe it to you). So, look:

There were little name tags to let us know what we were eating.

(Pay attention to those white crocks and you can click to enlarge - use your back button to return)

I filled my plate with salmon - smoked and broiled - and devilled eggs, and parma ham, and beef tenderloin with pesto, and Swedish bread, and... But I passed up the contents of both of the white crocks. Behind me in line was yet another Swedish male model (well, he could have been), Henrik (go visit his blog, it's in Swedish, but he's got beautiful pictures of Kragga Manor and himself, and his whippets). He said, "No herring for you? What a shame. It is delicious. Our specialty!"

Bill eats that god-awful stuff in jars from the grocery store, pickled herring, and the thought of it turns my stomach. I don't want fish in cream in a jar. But, I was in Sweden. And this was not fish in a jar, it was fish with a lovely creme fresh sauce and just picked dill and herbs and scallion, and when in Sweden... so I got a generous helping of the contents of both crocks, and bravely headed to our table.

"How do you like it?" asked Henrik, looking too, too handsome.

"It's really quite good," I said, finishing both piles. It was good. A little fishy, but so fresh tasting, and the sauce was nice and saucy and I had been a good little American tourist.

When Henrik returned from getting seconds, he had something else on his plate. A shallow quiche/pie looking delectable.

"Oh, I didn't see that!" cried I.

Lisa piped up, "No, I don't eat that: it has raw fish."

"Oh, no, me neither. No raw fish for me!"

The table started to chortle. I looked from side to side, face to face, all giggling and looking away.

"What?" I asked.

"Oh no." I cried.

"The herring?" My stomach lurched. Yes both of those white crock piles had been raw herring. The Swedes tried to make me feel better by explaining that the vinegar cooks the fish. Yeah, well that cucumber in vinegar was still raw, don't you know it! I hid my face in my napkin and fought the urge to ...

I managed to soothe my poor stomach with a delicious desert of custard with rhubarb and strawberries.

The Gala Match Show featured Scandinavia's Top Twenty whippets of 2007. Swede William's sister Bree was invited, and Helene's stunning Daisy, and Henrik's lovely Memma. The format was quite brutal, with three surprise judges, an American, a South African, and an Australian. Two whippets would enter, be judged, and the three judges would pick their favorite of the two. That whippet which got the majority vote would move to the next round. Bree came in and looked like the walking illustration of the Standard. Perfection! Judging time. WHAT!! The American voted for the other dog!!! No! (The Whippet Gods got her back, though. She helped Lisa the following Sunday at the HUGE Sighthound Specialty, and handled Bree herself, when Lisa's dogs went all the way to Breeder's Group BEST IN SHOW!! HA!!) Daisy didn't advance either, even though she also won HUGE later in the week. (I told you it was brutal.) But Henrik's Memma advanced right to the last round, so we got to cheer for her.

Lisa and Helene were staying at the Manor, but Crystal and I had a hotel about twenty minutes away in a charming town. (Lisa would join us there the next night when Helene went home to her children for a few days.) A delightful couple from Belgium who were also at our hotel kindly gave us rides back and forth. I got to eavesdrop their french! I love french! The GPS spoke french! I told them, "Je comprends un peu, et je parle, er, less" so they spoke slowly when they wanted me to listen in. Rita was familiar with my writing, and with Mama Pajama, so we felt like old friends. Actually we were, as we had met at one of our American Nationals. Girard's driving was decidedly European and we shaved a good ten minutes off each trip. Wheeeee! Lovely, lovely, fun people.

Tomorrow would already be the last day of the International Whippet Congress. How could that be?

to be continued... HERE

hug your hounds

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The 5th International Whippet Congress (Sweden part eight)

It is a great relief to get back to the Sweden trip, dear readers. Thank you for all of your kind thoughts and words and prayers. I talked to Molly and Deb, and they are both doing well, knowing that they had done all they could to bring joy to a deserving dog's life, and had received a ton of joy and love in return.

When we arrived at Kragga Manor we were immediately awed by the beauty of the place. It was situated on a lovely lake, with artfully gardened grounds, and graceful buildings. The Manor House was built in 1800, but there are archaeological findings on the property from the Iron Age. People recognized as early as 1100 BC that this was a great place to hang out!

Participants gather outside the converted stable and talk whippets, drinking Sangria (at 7 PM)

The Whippet Congress was held in a converted indoor riding arena/stable, though you would have not guessed its past. Every detail ensured the participants' comfort and enjoyment, from the delicious coffee and pastry breaks,
to the scented candles burning in the adorable rest rooms. There were more than 150 people from twenty-three countries attending, and luckily, the hosts were kind enough to speak English. (Thank goodness the rest of the world is better educated than we are.)

Presenters Bo Bengtson, Magnus Hagstedt, and Shirley Rawlings

Our Cary Grant-esque host, Magnus Hagstedt from the Swedish Whippet Club (Svenska Whippetklubben - how fun is that to say!), opened the Congress and then the fascinating programs began. Shirley Rawlings presented the newly adopted changes in the UK Standard, and drew a huge round of applause when she suggested that there be only one whippet Standard for all FCI countries, that of the Country of Origin.

the first American Whippet champion, CH Bay View Pride in 1902

This was followed by Bo Bengtson (from the USA and Sweden) who shared a wonderful slide show of famous whippets from history. One hundred and forty photos of whippets, which the gathering of whippet lovers studied with deep interest, the way you look at newly discovered photos of your own ancestors.

there's that handsome German judge again!

Next there was a panel discussion titled Looking Back... into the Future. The moderator was Goran Bodegard, a Swedish sighthound judge, and a psychiatrist. (Good idea for a discussion among dog people!) The panel was comprised of Mary Lowe (Nimrodel, UK), Thomas Munch (Flic Flac, Germany), Espen Engh (Jet greyhounds, Norway), and our own Bo Bengtson (Bohem, USA).

Two notable quotes, out of context -

Thomas Munch: "A good breeder knows exactly what faults his dog has. He does not need a judge to tell him." [applause]

Mary Lowe: "When you breed dogs just to please judges and win you can ruin a breed." [applause]

Lunch was a huge dinner, really, but not a morsel went to waste. And then we had tea and pastries during the afternoon break, after which we came back to a talk on the history of the Scandinavian Whippet.

to be continued ... HERE

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I am so sorry

Yesterday was a very bad day for rescue dogs.

I hate, gentle readers, I just hate to have to share this with you, but I feel it would be somehow dishonest not to.

Last evening, Matt called with the very sad news that Elsa/Shelby had died. She was undergoing her heartworm treatment (they had opted for the more gentle six month treatment, due to her heart enlargement) and things were going well. Then she came in season, only to find she had pyometra. They had no option but to do emergency surgery.

She seemed to be doing fine post op, but while she was still recovering at the vet's, she started to hemorrhage intra-abdominally (a common complication of pyo surgery) and had to have a second emergency surgery. Unfortunately, because her liver and kidneys were compromised from her malnutrition and/or the heartworm infection, she was unable to recover from the second surgery, going into multi system failure.

Molly and Matt were with her, and, after hearing the news from the vet that her situation was quite hopeless, they had just made the decision to end her suffering. Practically at that moment, Elsa simply laid her head down and stopped breathing. She probably had an embolism, or she maybe knew that it was OK to stop fighting and rest.

Please, dear readers, hold Molly and Matt, and Deb and Merle in your hearts. I pray those four good people are able to take significant comfort in the great good they did for this dog. Elsa/Shelby knew love and pampering and couches and sleeping in bed and good food and treats and play and more love. Dogs don't know time, but they do know love. And thanks to those good people, Elsa/Shelby knew an infinite love.

hug your precious hounds

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another Angel

[I am a storyteller. Sometimes when reality is ugly, I make up a story, and fill in the blanks, to make it better. You never know, it could be...]


The landlord checked out the apartment. Poor old lady, he thought to himself. Not a single "next of kin" and what was he going to do with all this stuff? Well, that china cabinet might be worth something. He didn't even see the small dog trot out through the open door. He did see the dog dishes in the kitchen, but assumed the police had taken whatever it was to the pound. Then he noticed the small black dots on his pant legs. Oh, great. Fleas.

The two friends were talking about what a scorcher it was going to be as they walked around the corner, and the two whippets they were walking went into "small furry animal" alert. Straining on their leads, heads and tails up, eyes trained on a little something hobbling in the parking lot.

"Oh, no," the woman said to her friend, Karen. "It's a dog."

It was a blessing that Karen had just recently started walking with her, as there would be no way to approach the little dog with the whippets barking and being whippets. Karen held her two dogs, with the woman giving the younger one a firm 'sit, stay' command. As she got closer to the little dog, her stomach lurched.

It was nearly bald, and what coat it had was filthy and matted. The temperature had already reached ninety-four degrees with stifling humidity, at seven thirty in the morning. The little dog, which she could now see was a Shih Tzu, was panting with raspy breaths. And limping.

The woman tossed a small blueberry dog treat from her pocket in front of the little dog. "Come here sweetie." The little dog smelled the treat, and then wagged up to the woman's voice. "Oh, you poor dear. Let's get you out of this heat."

Karen led the two curious whippets, and the woman carried the little dog home. "I'm sure it's a Shih Tzu. I wonder if this is mange, look how swollen and inflamed its skin is. I don't see any fleas or flea dirt at least."

"She must be old," Karen said.

"I don't think so. because she doesn't have cataracts. Look how black her eyes are." The woman lifted a lip. "Oh and her canines are sparkly white. She's had a litter though. I think she must be maybe around two?"

After her dogs were walked and Karen had gone home, the woman got the little dog out of the crate. She was pleased to see that she had eaten the senior food and had a nice drink of water. The little dog wagged and then convulsed in long raking coughs. The woman saw a flea. She picked it off, only to see three more. Bath time.

She bathed the little dog in a flea repellent herbal shampoo, followed by a soothing oatmeal shampoo. She tried to cut off some mats, which were pulling the dog's face in a twisted, grotesque distortion. The little dog struggled, setting off another debilitating fit of coughing. "No more of that for now," said the woman. She wished she knew more about coated breeds. And she wished it wasn't Sunday.

She took the dog outside to dry. Now the warm sun and hot breeze was just the thing, and the dog was dry in an instant. And so were the fleas. Scores of them, leaving the mats in droves. The woman shuddered, and made her decision. She sprayed the little dog, much to the dog's delight, and toweled off the dead fleas. The little dog had another bite to eat, and another drink of water, and after another coughing spell, she curled up on her clean bedding in her crate and slept.

The next morning they were at the vet's at nine-thirty. This woman just loves her vets. "I think she's young," the woman said. "But I'm really afraid of her cough. Could she have an irritation from being out and panting so much?"

"It could be a tracheitis," said Dr. Compassion. But her face betrayed her concern. The woman told the vet that she had found three toenails in the crate bedding this morning. The vet said, "Mmmm. She looks like a thyroid dog. She's completely blind, you know."

The woman said, "What! Her eyes are so black!" The vet explained that she had a disease where the cornea is replaced with pigment, and is like a window with a blackout shade pulled down. Then, after looking at her teeth, she said, "She's probably more than ten."

"What! Her canines are pearly white!"

Dr. Compassion showed the woman that all the bottom front incisors were not only gone, but the gum had long ago healed over. She explained that all the roots were exposed, and the constant itching in the long coat had flossed those canines clean. "This is an old, old girl," said the caring vet, giving the little dog a gentle caress. Then she put her stethoscope in her ears and listened to the dog's chest. "Oh dear. Did you listen?"

"No," said the woman, who was a retired nurse. "I'm no cardiologist."

"You don't have to be," said the vet, handing the ear piece over.

The woman listened. No lub dub. Just a rapid, loud, leaky wusha-wusha-wusha. The little dog started to cough again, a long, wheezing, choking rasp.

Dr. Compassion continued with the exam, giving the woman a moment to digest what she was learning. "Her knee joint is destroyed. I can't even find her patella. Oh, there it is. Poor, poor girl."

Tears were forming in the woman's eyes. "Damn," she thought. "Damn it all to hell."

"This heart might last four months, if we're really aggressive, but it would not be a good four months for the dog."

"I just can't walk away from them when I see them. I just can't," the woman was crying.

"No, I know you can't," said Dr. Compassion. "I'm glad you brought her in. She's not out in that heat, alone and blind and lost. But now? It would be a kindness."

And there, where ever "there" is, a lady opened her arms in delight. "Sweetie! My little darling! There you are! Oh how I hated to leave you, but here you are!"

The little Shih Tzu, long silky coat in glowing beauty, tail gaily wagging, proudly trotted up to her Lady. She looked with eyes that, after so long, could see again, and with legs which felt no pain, she jumped up onto her Lady's lap, and kissed the face she had loved. And she felt her heart, strong and full, dance in the loving embrace of her Lady, which would now last forever.

hug your hounds

Sunday, July 20, 2008

**** Sweetie update ****

Photos and first post HERE. Thank you, every one of you, for all your helpful information and suggestions. It helps immeasurably to know that you are out there caring what happens to this dog.

I know if I were a really good blogger I would have updated photos for you, but I just don't have the heart.

Here's the new information.

She absolutely does have fleas. I didn't see any flea dirt, or fleas when I first brought her home, so I assumed... wrong. I gave her a bath, in some soothing herbal flea repellent shampoo, and then in an oatmeal shampoo. The mats on her feet and legs are flea colonies. I H.A.T.E. fleas. I picked about twenty-five off her. (She is about five pounds and is neither over or underweight.) And then I couldn't stand it anymore and sprayed her with some Adams. (I had the Adams from a long ago field trial where the seed ticks were so bad they were on our dogs by the hundreds. I hate ticks too.)

The good news in the flea infestation, is, as Wally pointed out, she may have a flea dermatitis which would be better (in my mind, anyway) than sarcoptic mange. (I hate sarcoptic mange - same bug as Scabies - MOST OF ALL ... hang on I'll be right back I need to take another shower.)

I was able to cut off some of the mats, but not many. They are so bad that they are pulling her face contorted and it hurts her. I am afraid of poking her with the scissors or cutting her, and until we see the vet, and I have some help holding her, I just can't do it.

She still wags her swollen, scabby tail at me, even after I tried cutting off the mats.

She has a cough. It's a raspy, wheezy tracheitis sounding cough. I HOPE it's an irritated trachea from being outside and panting panting panting. I hope it's NOT kennel cough or heartworm. I really hope it's NOT those things. She is in Bill's studio until we find out if she is contageous.

Her nails are disgusting. She has a nail on a front foot and a back foot which curl all the way around, under the foot and come back up, beyond 360 degrees, more like about 410 degrees. She has to walk on them.

She comes when you call her.

Hug your hounds. I'm going to take another shower. I can't get the stink of human disgrace off me.

Enjoying Orebro (Sweden part seven)

***** Please scroll down to see if you can help me with the stray dog - next post down, thank you *****

There are things in Sweden we can't get here in the States. This surprised me, as I thought we had everything in the world here. But we kept seeing, in addition to Lisa's way cool van, other car models that we don't have over here. Lisa and her husband Krister live out in the country in a charming home, with, get ready, heated floors. Crystal and I stayed in their oh so unbelievably cool camper, the likes of which we have not seen over here. It too had heated wood floors, beautiful cabinetry, great black out shades (well, yes, they would have those in Sweden!), and it was so comfy. I'm going to take a guess that it wasn't full of formaldehyde like our new trailers are, either.
(OK, I guess that I have to admit here that I did break their camper a little bit. I do not have such good trailer karma, but that dear readers is a whole other story.)
And then there was this little Electrolux thing sitting in their yard. "What's that?" I asked, fascinated.
"That's our lawn mower."
Their lawn was beautifully manicured.
"But there's no handle!"
"It's a robot. It automatically turns itself on, mows the yard, and puts itself away."
"Yes, we just have to be sure the dogs are put away because they try to chase it."
"What if it got stolen?"
"It won't work if it's away from its home base."
And then there was her regular Electrolux vacuum cleaner. Half the size - literally - of mine and silent, it sucked up everything in its path. I feared for the puppies, so powerful was this machine, yet it barely whispered.

Puppies? Oh yes there were puppies!

I've already discussed the unbelievable deliciousness of the Smorgestorte, but my mouth is watering in fond remembrance.

We went into the town of Orebro (there's an umlaut somewhere but not on my keyboard) for dinner. What a delightful, charming town. There's even a castle with a moat. And everything was clean and there were flowers planted everywhere.

Every nook was a visual delight.

We were treated to a wonderful dinner at a Turkish restaurant. I had steak and potatoes on a wood plank, with oh so savory haricots verts wrapped in prosciutto. On the way home, in the field right behind Lisa and Krister's was the hugest deer I ever saw. I was certain it was a moose or at least an elk, but no, it was a giant red deer.

I do adore Lisa's dogs, and because of Swede William, I feel like they are family. We looked at photos, and talked about the difference between Swedish whippets and American, and ate and ate more and had some time to catch up on our rest.

Oh. And that photo of the deer? 9:40 PM.

Our time passed in a blink, and we loaded up the van, I kissed Sweet Sotis, my darling William's mom, goodbye, thanked Krister for his generous hospitality, and headed to Kraaga Manor for the Fifth International Whippet Congress.

to be continued... HERE

***** Oh, SWEETIE ***** HELP! Advice needed!!!

I will go into the details later, but this little darling Shih Tzu was wandering in my neighborhood this morning, and asked for help. She is limping, and I believe she has sarcoptic mange. She doesn't have fleas.

At first I thought she was very old, but after I got her home, I got a quick look at her teeth and she is NOT OLD. I only got a glance, but I think she maybe around two or even less. She is soooooo sweet and friendly so right now I'm calling her Sweetie.

My question- Does anyone know if there is a decent over the counter dip/shampoo that I can use to get a start on the mange? Or to soothe her skin a little? I will take her to the vet first thing tomorrow, but oh, she is heartbreaking.

And those of you with HAIRY DOGS, do I just cut the mats off on her face and legs? I don't know about these things.

I'm guessing someone who couldn't afford to treat her dropped her off. She is not skinny and I do NOT believe she has been out in the elements for long. She is not in the least cowed, and just wags and wags her gay little tail.

If I don't get some advice here, I will call my dear vets later. I don't want to interrupt their Sunday morning, though, as this is not a life and death situation.
I think she is a beautiful little dog! But I can't stop crying.
Hug your hounds, a little extra today, for Sweetie.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Main Ring at the World Dog Show (Sweden part six)

We had a little time to kill between the Whippet judging, and when Stavros and Lisa would show in the Main Ring, so we went to the vendors' area to shop. There were hundreds vendors from all over! But they wanted the equivalent of many, many, many cups of coffee, so I was only window shopping. Crystal found a delightful interactive dog toy called a Tornado:

And we met the inventor, even!

We shopped a little too long and lost Lisa. She had to lug all her stuff and her dogs by herself to the main ring. I felt terrible.
"No problem!" she gamely said. "I have wheels."

I had finally found her in the staging area behind the Main Ring, being pre-judged. In the Main Ring the entertainment had started, with an exhibition of native Swedish Breeds and folks in native costume, and singing and dancing. Someone needed to stay with Bree, but Lisa wanted photos of Stavros in the Main Ring. Now it was Crystal's and my turn to say "No problem!" Crystal sat with exhibitors on the end of the ring with Bree, and I took Lisa's munga huge camera. A guard stopped me as I entered an area where I could get a better vantage point.

"Press only, please," said the guard.

"Ah! I am Press!" I whipped out my Dog Writers Association of America card, which states on the back, "Please extend all press courtesies" and the guard smiled and showed me the best place to get a view.

This was the largest, most beautiful group of young dogs I had ever seen. If my research is right, the combined Terrier, Sporting, and Sighthound Groups equal approximately ninety-six different breeds, all competing for four placements.

I was worried about Lisa. She was due with her first baby in five weeks. She had gotten up at three am to drive into Stockholm to retrieve us, and then she showed two dogs, going back in for Best Bitch and Best Junior. Now she was in this humongous main ring in front of a huge crowd and TV cameras, and I think by then it was close to six o'clock.

I needn't have worried. The Swedes are tough stock!

THIS LINK will take you to a video of all of the events of the Main Ring that night. Happily, the Juniors competition is first in the video! And yes, you can hear both me and Helene screaming in the background. My guard looked askance at me as I screamed for Lisa and Stavros. "My breed, I can't help myself," I lamely explained.

[Stavros on the Big Screen. The hanging banners are Swedish native breeds]

Stavros had made the final cut of eight! It was surreal!

[Lisa and her puppy awaiting the judge's final decision.]

Yes, they did! Combined World Dog Show Junior Group 3rd!

During the photo session after the judging, Lisa told the judge who was from Norway, that Stavros's daddy was from Norway. "That is why he's so handsome," said the judge!

The drive home from any dog show always goes faster when you've had a great day, and the two hours to Lisa's house flew by. The countryside was gorgeous, and heck it was bright daylight out, and before we knew it we were there.

to be continued...

hug your hounds