Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trimming a Lhasa's Feet

On my to-do list for this evening is "Trim Mira/Breaker/Belle's feet for show next weekend."

I have to admit that one grooming job I hate is trimming the show dogs' feet! It has to be done, but I put it off all the time and then, of course, the task only becomes more difficult.

Why do we trim the hair on the show dogs' feet?

Shaggy feet make even the most neatly groomed Lhasa look "unfinished." The unkempt appearance of those feet can be improved by trimming and rounding the coat around the feet. It makes a prettier picture in the show ring.

Here's what you can do to trim feet:

Stack your Lhasa on a grooming table and keep him still(this is the hard part!). If you are lucky enough to have a willing spouse or friend handy, he/she can hold the dog steady (you need to keep the dog from leaning or you'll trim shorter than you should). You can also use a grooming noose. (I've had limited success with that because the dog can still manage to lean.)

If your dog has heavy furnishings on his legs and feet, push the hair up and away from the foot itself and hold it there. Brush or comb a layer of hair over the foot and trim it all the way around fairly close to the foot. Then brush a second layer over the foot, this time trimming it so it's slightly longer than the first layer. Depending on how heavily coated your dog's foot is, repeat this until the foot has a neat, rounded appearance. Do all four feet in the same way.

If your Lhasa doesn't have heavily-coated feet, you may be able to get by with just combing all the hair over the foot and cutting it. I've seen a lot of Lhasas' feet look chopped up when their owners or groomers do this though. I prefer the layering strategy, but do whatever works best for you.

One thing that has helped me tremendously when it comes time to trim feet is raising the height of my grooming table so I do not have to "walk" around the grooming table on my knees to see what I am doing. If you are interested in reading how you can increase the height of your grooming table, read my grooming table transformation article. The article contains a picture of the table so you can see what it looks like when it is "transformed!"

I think the main reason I dislike trimming my show dogs' feet is that it is so easy to make a mistake and cut too much off or cut crookedly or take a chunk out when the dog decides to move unexpectedly.

To make matters worse, Mira is black, which makes trimming difficult. My husband helped by rigging up one of his shop lights so I can see what and where I am cutting when I trim her! Mira's coat is long and gorgeous. No way do I want to mess that up!

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Show Dogs Die Tragic Deaths from Heatstroke

This post is not about Lhasa Apsos but relates to any breed or mixed breed dog. I'll catch you up on the antics of Belle, Mira, and Breaker, as well as my weekend at the class reunion another day.

By now, most of you will have heard about or read about the AKC handler from Missouri who returned late from a dog show and left the dogs overnight in her van, only to find them dead or dying when she checked them in the morning. This tragedy makes all dog lovers sick at heart. If you have not read the story, here is a link.

Seven beautiful show dogs (an Akita, a Dalmation, a Malamute, 3 Golden Retrievers, and a Siberian Husky) died horrific deaths because the handler their owners entrusted them to had poor judgment.

This is not a news flash! Animals should not be left in a vehicle when the weather is hot. Common sense and multiple print and radio/TV public service announcements warn us consistently about the dangers. Yet each year, pets die because their loving owners decided to leave them in the car while they ran into the store for "just a few minutes!"

Anyone who has ever gotten into a closed car on a hot summer day realizes how hot a car can get – and how fast it can happen. Heatstroke can also happen to dogs housed outdoors, dogs accompanying their owners on walks, trail hikes, or to parks and carnivals. Most people are unaware that dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than people are.

The American Kennel Club offers information regarding heatstroke:
Early Stages:
• Heavy panting
• Rapid breathing
• Excessive drooling
• Bright red gums and tongue
• Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance

Advanced Stages:
• White or blue gums
• Lethargy, unwillingness to move
• Uncontrollable urination or defecation
• Labored, noisy breathing
• Shock

Actions to take if your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke:
Immediately try to cool the dog down by
• Applying rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
• Applying ice packs to the groin area.
• Hosing down with water.
• Allowing the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
• Offering Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Interested readers may want to read "Heat Stroke and Malignant Hyperthermia in Dogs and Cats" for more information.

Many people think it is no big deal to leave the dog in the car if they roll the window down slightly. The sight is not uncommon. You can drive into any WalMart parking lot and see dogs locked in cars in all kinds of weather.

Many people think it is no big deal to leave the dog in the car because they are just going to "run right into the store and back." After all, what can happen in 10 minutes? Good question. Illness and death if the conditions are right.

If you leave your dog in the car, you should read the results of a small three-day study on outside temperatures versus temperatures inside cars, found at You may decide not to leave your dog in the car the next time you are tempted to do so! Remember, he is at the mercy of the owner he loves and trusts to take care of him. You betray that trust every time you close the car door and leave him inside the car on a hot day.

Understand that a dog's entire body is covered with hair and that the normal body temperature for a dog is 101-102 degrees. Because dogs do not sweat, their temps rise quickly, much faster than a person's temperature rises because we sweat and our sweat helps to cool our bodies. Dogs pant – and their panting adds heat and humidity inside the closed vehicle. Once a dog's temperature exceeds 104 degrees, evidence of heatstroke occurs. Three degrees higher and you have a dog that will probably die unless quick, heroic actions are taken.

With the hot humid summer we are already experiencing in the Midwest, a good thing that can come of the tragic deaths of these seven show dogs is that the publicity and resulting wake up call may prevent other dogs' deaths at the hands of loving but careless owners.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our Belle

Apologies to readers who have been checking for a new entry for a couple of weeks now. We've had company and I've been so busy at work that I just have not had time to write.

Tonight I want to tell you about Belle, our five month old female puppy that was born on Christmas morning. She was one of five puppies from the Connor x Flame litter. Her call name "Belle" was given her because shortly after birth, all the puppies were given Christmas names. There was a Nicky (for St. Nicholas), a Christmas Spirit, a Decker (Deck the Halls), a Holly (Happy Holidays), and Christmas Bells (Belle). You can see her photo at age 3 months at the top of the page.

"Belle" is also fitting because she is a very pretty puppy. She is a red sable color and has the cutest face.

So, now Belle is nearly 6 months old and it's time to enter her in her first show. I decided I did not like the name Christmas Bells for her AKC registered name. What to do? Oh my, the brainstorming and the tossing back and forth of suggestions ... all rejected for one reason or another. This is hard!

One great resource for names is the Jockey Club Registry website.
There you will find many many names of horses. Hopefully you'll find something to inspire you, especially at the last minute when your own creative juices have dried up. I am so angry at myself. After all, I put off naming her until the last minute and it was so unnecessary. I've had MONTHS to do it! I just know that as soon as I mail that registration paperwork to AKC, I'm going to have a flash of inspiration and come up with something unique and just perfect.

Belle is also the epitome of "stubborn." She could be the icon for "stubborn" next to that word in the dictionary. She refuses to walk on the lead! At home (under supervision) she runs and plays in the family room wearing a lead. No problem. The cat often picks it up and tugs it. No problem. But if a person picks it up, the brakes go on, and she sits sweetly and just looks at the person as if to say, "Nice try!"

Outside she does not budge. No amount of coaxing works. However, if I pick her up and walk up the street to one of the neighbors' driveways, she will hightail back to our own driveway as fast as those Lhasa legs will travel. Then she sits down and refuses to budge. As I said: "stubborn!"

Training has been a frustrating experience, to say the least. I finally started taking her to a training class in Peoria on Tuesday nights. Peoria is a 90 minute trip each way, so I have to leave by 5:30 to make the 7:00 class. It lasts an hour but generally I don't make it home until close to 10:00. The sacrifices I make!!! LOL

The first two nights of class Belle did what she always does when someone is holding her lead. She either sits and freezes to the spot, or she puts herself in a pretty stack and stands there. Lovely...but not what I'm going for at the moment. So she stood (or sat), watched the activity and processed what was going on. On the third night, she came out of her crate excited to be there. A breakthrough! She actually walked on the lead, with lots of coaxing with treats and a flat rat. Last night she was so-so, but we seem to be making progress.

So, I'll try to keep you updated on Belle's progress. Her mother, Flame, was so easy to train and show. She was the perfect show dog. She did what I wanted and did it well. She showed herself off and was finished before I knew it. Not Belle. She seems to be a throwback to her Grandma Secret (Ch. Joyslyn's Secrets of the Heart), who also refused to walk on the lead. What I hope is that Belle repeats Secret's performance, because Secret saved it for the show ring. At her first show, I put her on the floor, said, "Let's go." And she did! She took Best Puppy that day and a 2nd place in Puppy Group. The next day, she won a 3 point major! Maybe Belle is saving it up for the "real deal." I can only hope!

By the way, since she is such a pretty puppy and because her call name is indicative of a beautiful woman and in honor of her similarity to her grandma, her name is going to be Joyslyn's Beauty Secret. It'll sound great with the word "champion" in front of it one day!

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you.