Friday, July 23, 2010

It Seems Like Such a Long Time

It is truly a sign of my boring life that I can't even think of anything to write about! Sorry for not posting anything for a while, but there you have it. My life lately has been dull.

As the weekend arrives (at last), I'm already looking forward to the next one. It seems like AGES since I've been to a dog show and, although I've appreciated having four entire weekends at home, I admit to being bored and ready to head off to a show next weekend.

Belle, Walker, and I are headed to Waukesha for the only outdoor dog show I ever go to. I really dislike outdoor shows (too hot, too windy, too wet -- grass that is often brittle and pokey from too much heat or too soggy from rain) but this show has become a tradition. I've been practicing showing Belle in the grass at home. She sees it as a challenge and hops through it. Given her small stature and weight (9 lbs. 11 oz. when I took her to the vet last week for her Rabies shot!) she may just disappear in the grass. My hope is that the club will trim the grass very short!

One recent weekend highlight was that Lynn and I actually got away from the TV and went to see a movie last weekend. When it was all said and done, my excitement was not about the movie itself but about an upcoming movie about Secretariat for which there was a preview. I love movies about horses and even the preview had me tearing up. That horse was totally awesome! I recall his triple crown win and can't wait to see the movie about him. Oh, and the preview for the new Harry Potter looked great too!

Okay, I need to sign off before you are all bored to tears. Time to go kiss a Lhasa.

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you! How can I complain about being bored when my "kids" keep me entertained?


Oh--The dog at the top of the page is Ch. Sinka Sirronna Khan. We purchased her in the late 1970's as a champion. Soni, as we called her, and Rocky (Ch. Joyslyn's Piece of the Rock) gave us some lovely puppies, among them my very special Ch. Joyslyn's Promise.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

If You Want Another Lhasa...

The photo at the top of this page is of Buffy (left) and Pheebe (right), our first two Lhasas.

Lynn and I graduated from college in December 1972. Fortunately, I was able to get a teaching job that began in January. As recent graduates with student loans, we had little money, so with the prospect of a steady paycheck at last we began to make some plans. We needed things. For example, we rented the bottom floor of a large house that had been converted into apartments. It came with a stove but not a refrigerator, so for a month we kept our items needing refrigeration on the back porch (it was January!). Then with my first paycheck we put money down on a new refrigerator (Harvest Gold in color no less!)

We needed a dog! Both of us had been raised in homes that had a family dog so it went without saying that we needed one in our home. The next month, knowing nothing about Lhasa Apsos except they were adorable, we bought Pheebe (Joyslyn's Pheebe). And she charmed us so completely that the following month, we bought Buffy (Joyslyn's Miss Buffy Jo). Thus, "Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos" had its beginning.

So, when people tell me they really want a second Lhasa, I totally understand! But, after all these years of experience with the breed, I advise people to do some careful planning before they get the second dog. Here are some things to think about:

(1) Your current Lhasa and his/her possible reactions to a new addition.
• Think about his/her age and health. Should you get a puppy or would an older puppy or adult Lhasa be more compatible? Don't do what we did and get two puppies so close together in age. Puppies raised together tend to bond more to each other than to their human family.
• Does your Lhasa want/need another dog in the family?
• How does your current Lhasa deal with other dogs he/she meets on neutral territory or in your home or yard? Has he/she been around a puppy recently? Think about his/her personality and behaviors. What is the back-up plan if the two do not get along?

(2) Your resources. A second dog requires additional resources of money and time. You not only have to have funds to purchase the second dog, but now you also have two dogs that require food, veterinary care, crates, toys, and other supplies. Do you have time to groom, care for, train, exercise, and give attention to two dogs?

(3) Your plan.
• Should you get a male or female? I discourage doing what we did and buying two females. Although Pheebe and Buffy got along just fine, I learned over the years that not all females share an affinity for each other. The girls tend to be bossy and opinionated. Some (not all) vie for the alpha role, challenging the other girls, throwing their weight around, and even starting tooth-and-nail fights to prove who is the boss. Some females will let it go, kowtow to the alpha, and live a happy life together. Others? Not so much. They'd rather fight to prove who's boss. A firm believer in risk management, I advise people who come to me wanting a second pet Lhasa to "Get one of each sex" or to "Buy two males – and make sure both are neutered."
There are always exceptions to the rule, but generally a male and female will get along just fine. The boys tend to let the girls take over and boss them around and the girls, of course, think that is as it should be! When owners of a male come to pick up their new female puppy, I tell them, "Just watch, she's going to rule the roost in no time at all." I chuckle when I get the call or email saying, "You were right! He lets her do whatever she wants."
We have also found that our puppy buyers (with one exception) have had great luck with two males as long as both are neutered, which of course is a requirement when a person buys a pet puppy from us. That exception involved a dog who was so attached to his owner that he just did not want to share her affection. He resented any attention she paid to the new puppy, who eventually went to a different home for his own protection.
• Talk to an experienced Lhasa breeder and have a plan in place for introducing the newcomer to the Lhasa-in-residence.
• Do some reading on the subject before the second dog ever walks through your door. Inform yourself about pack order and how to introduce a new pet to one in residence.
• Think about where you will house and feed both dogs. When you have two Lhasas, each should have his/her own crate to sleep in and should be fed separately (i.e., don't require them to share a food or water dish). Don't give your dogs a reason to become upset with each other over resources such as food, water, toys, bones. Eventually, you might find them sharing these things willingly, sleeping in each others' crates, or sleeping in one crate together, but that needs to be their choice, not something you force on them. Sharing is hard - ask any toddler (and even some adults!).

So, should you get a second Lhasa? By all means if that is your desire!

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you! Two just doubles the pleasure!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sharing a Photo and An Article

This is a picture of Joyslyn's Beauty Secret ("Belle"), taken after we got home from the Iowa City show. Our 2008 Christmas baby is now 18 months old and definitely living up to the "beauty" part of her name!

And, because I wanted to share this with you, here is an article I once wrote:

Yes, I Learned It in Kindergarten

by Joyce Johanson

At the shopping mall the other day, I happened to see a poster with Robert Fulghum's* list of things he learned in kindergarten. For some reason, seeing that list again really "hit home." Therefore, with apologies to Mr. Fulghum, I have to say that all I needed to know about breeding and exhibiting Lhasas I too "learned in kindergarten." Fulghum's kindergarten-garnered knowledge is appropriate to many situations in life, even to dog breeding/showing.

LOOK. Breeding and showing Lhasa Apsos might seem a simple thing--get a male, get a female, have some puppies...train the dog, enter a show, win a championship... However, I'm a true believer in watching and learning, reading and learning, asking and learning. Go to some shows -- more than one or two -- and look at the Lhasas being shown; think hard about what you see and ask yourself which Lhasa appealed to you most and why. Look at pictures of Lhasa Apsos (past and present) in breed books and breed magazines. Watch the AKC videotape on the breed. What attributes are considered correct? How do the dogs you have seen or perhaps own measure up? What do you want in a Lhasa? Read about pedigrees, breeding, and genetics. Look around at the vast amount of knowledge contained in books and in peoples' heads--and take advantage of it! Then, once you have learned, don't become complacent or have an "I know it all" attitude. Continue to look, listen, and learn.

SHARE EVERYTHING. All too often, once dog people learn, they become stingy with their information. Share what you know with others -- and not just those others who buy your puppies or promote your particular line of Lhasa Apso. Grooming, handling, health, and breeding information are vital to the positive growth to the breed. If you have important knowledge, you owe it to the Lhasa Apso to share it with others, especially with newcomers who are trying to learn. Take time to talk with those who have questions at the shows, offer grooming lessons to someone whose poor little Lhasa obviously needs some correct grooming (and I'm not necessarily referring to the show Lhasa here. What about that bedraggled little pet Lhasa across town whose owner obviously tries but has no clue?).

PLAY FAIR. This is a tough one. "Dog people" and "fair play" often seem contradictory and the dog world seems to be a "do unto others as they have done unto you" place. There's a good deal of unfairness, backbiting, and at times, downright illegalities involved with showing and breeding. So you have to decide, do you succumb or do you rise above it all? Do you pass off a so-so puppy to an unsuspecting, trusting buyer for an exorbitant amount, claiming it's got "definite show potential?" Are you honest in your dealings with puppy buyers, handlers, fellow exhibitors, and those who come to use your breeding stock? Are you interested in the betterment of the breed or the promotion of yourself?

DON'T HIT PEOPLE. In keeping with fair play, this rule simply means "don't hurt others" whether you physically knock around an opponent whose ugly mutt just won the five point major over your gorgeous Lhasa or whether your gossip harms someone's reputation as a breeder, exhibitor, or person. It also means "don't hurt the breed." You can do that through indiscriminate breeding practices, by promoting your stud dog even though he may not possess the right characteristics for a particular bitch, and by caring more about how much money you make or how many champions you have bred than you care about doing what is right and best for the future of the Lhasa Apso.

LIVE A BALANCED LIFE. I know a lot of people whose dogs are their lives, people whose whole lives revolve so much around dogs and dog shows that they forget there's a whole world out there to appreciate and enjoy. Yes, we've all been guilty of going to dog shows on Mother's Day or missing one of our kids' big games because we were at a show. But, think about it...there are shows every weekend. And, yes, the dogs are important, but so are the people in our lives. It's necessary every once in a while to step back and examine our priorities.

BE AWARE OF WONDER. As a breeder, you are a god -- your decisions on which dog and bitch to breed affect not only one particular litter of puppies but also the lives of the people who purchase your puppies, not to mention the future of the breed itself. Be conscious of the wonder of it all. Too many breeders see puppies as little dollar signs, rather than as individuals that may have a profound effect on the future. Who's to say that that tiny 5 oz. puppy won't someday become the breed's top winner or top-producing champion? Be aware of the possibilities and the wonder of life.

WHEN YOU GO OUT INTO THE WORLD, WATCH OUT FOR TRAFFIC, HOLD HANDS, AND STICK TOGETHER. It's human nature to be competitive, but those of us who feel an obligation to the breed know that often competitiveness has to be set aside so we can work together for the betterment of the Lhasa Apso. Join a breed club, either locally or nationally, and participate with others to promote the breed and make decisions which will positively affect the breed's future. It doesn't matter if you think you're "nobody special" because you aren't some big-name breeder. If you truly care about the breed and have made yourself knowledgeable, you owe it to the breed to contribute that knowledge to others so the group can make positive and informed decisions.

FLUSH. Face it, there are times when it's necessary to regroup, rethink, evaluate, and call it quits whether it means deciding that wonderful litter really isn't so wonderful after all, not showing a Lhasa you had your heart set on being your next champion, or scrapping an entire breeding program that just isn't working out. You get past the mistakes and get on with reaching your goals.

Thanks, Robert Fulghum, for some great advice and food for thought!

*Robert Fulghum. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Ivy Books: New York. 1986.

That's it for today. Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you!