Let’s Talk About …

… hair!  Dog hair to be exact.  No, not the stuff that finds its way onto every piece of furniture or item of clothing you own … the stuff that forms hair bunnies and herds itself around the corners of the house.  We’re talking about face hair.  If you own or have owned any of the long-coated breeds, you know the ongoing challenge of keeping the hair out of the dog’s eyes as well as keeping the eyes from being poked with the bloom of ever-growing hair on the muzzle.

From time to time, I take my crew in for a professional grooming.  On each dog’s kennel card, there is a notation that the hair on the muzzle is *not* to be scooped out with a clipper and nothing below the corner of the eyes and down the muzzle is to be trimmed.  When grooming the dogs myself, I follow the same protocol.  “Why?” you might ask, knowing that the hair on the face is going to look like a chrysanthemum in full bloom as it grows out.  Because clippering or scissoring this hair sets you and the dog up for a never-ending trim/grow/poke in the eyes/watery eyes/can’t see/trim cycle

Teller - head shotHere’s what I do on literally all my dogs, pet and show … I let the hair grow out until it lies flat to the muzzle.  You only have to grow it out once and then keep the length trimmed up at the chin area.  This also preserves the soft facial expression of the dog.  In the photo to the left, Teller is several weeks out from a groom so the hair above the eyes is in need of a trim but you can see how the hair lies flat on the muzzle.  He can still see despite needing a trim!Teller side

Teller 2In the photo to the right, you can see how the hair is grown to the beard length and then trimmed appropriately.  While growing the hair out on the muzzle, I will use an alcohol-free hair gel or KY jelly to keep the hair tacked down and out of the eyes.  Since the hair grows fairly quickly, it won’t be long until it is laying flat and out of the eyes.  I find that keeping the muzzle hair in this fashion also helps with the eye discharge, i.e., less of it and easier to clean out.

Remember, you only have to grow it out once.  Unless you forget to tell your groomer …

Hair of the Dog …

After what’s been termed the “transport from hell” due to problems with vehicles and people, Bubba from rural Kansas finally arrived Thursday at 10:30 p.m.   We met him at I-70 and Tower Road (affectionately known as “Saudi Aurora”) …  waaay east of Denver proper and at least an hour from our place in north Loveland.  Suffice it to say it was well after 1:00 a.m. by the time we got home, pottied dogs, played musical crates, and had the dogs settled in for the night with the thunderstorms rolling low in the distance.  Note to self:  order a Thundershirt for Frankers.

While waiting for the vet to come in and do the rescue exam the following morning, I finally got a really good look at Bubba.  Both eyes are badly infected and with hyperpigmentation of the eyes and the skin around the eyes.  I first suspected something amiss while watching him around the yard that morning … he moved like my Dad’s blind Tzu, cueing on sounds.  Flip the ear leathers back and it’s obvious he’s got yeast and/or bacteria going on with abundant ear hair … hot, red, tender to the touch and inflamed.

Bubba’s lower back, rear and upper hind legs are almost devoid of hair and covered in what ‘s termed “elephant skin” … black, wrinkled, hairless and with edema present.  While I’m familiar with the term, this is the first time I’ve actually seen it on one of my dogs.  The tail is the worst with raw, scaly skin and I surmise he’s been gnawing at it.  During the transport, he received a haircut with a pair of scissors and his new ‘do is the embodiment of pitiful.  As a friend would say, “He’s got a whole lot of ugly going on.”

During exam of his mouth, I note the front lower incisors cannot be seen.  Probing reveals a wad of hair completely covering the teeth.  I manage  to pull it off and up pop five very white incisors, indicative of a young dog.  My guess, less than two years of age.  I’m betting the chewing at his tail/rear is where he picked up the hair in his teeth and it’s been there a while based on the odor.  More surprising, however, is his bite — or lack thereof.  His jaws are mismatched and he has an underbite of at least 1-1/4 inch.  So much so that the top incisors rest on the lower jaw instead of meeting up with the upper incisors.  While Apso are supposed to have an underbite, this is utterly obscene — and especially so knowing that someone is breeding these malformed dogs for a profit.

The vet walks in and immediately starts laughing, all the while apologizing.  Po’ Bubba … he’s a damn pitiful sight with a story and a haircut to match.  I have to wonder if there wasn’t some message with the tying him to a fence post.  Unlike many of the breed, Bubba is exceptional during the exam, sitting or standing quietly while he’s poked and prodded.  Final diagnosis:  eyes and ears are infected, a bit of demodex (causing the skin issues), and dermatitis.  We’re loaded up with antibiotics, eye drops, ear ointment, and Advantage Multi to get the demodex in check.  While there, he’s wormed and a microchip implanted.  Instructions are given to return in three weeks for follow-up; the eyes are a bit worrisome as it could be KCS or “dry eye,” requiring a life time of daily eye drops.  The vet is hopeful that once the eye infection is cleared up along with the skin issues, the eyes will start producing tears normally again. He’s not contagious as his problems stem from a compromised immune system so he’s fine to interact with the other dogs in the home.  Ongoing treatment, high-quality food and lots of rest should get him back on his feet.  A good haircut with a pair of clippers should help with the “ugly.”  But, then again, maybe not.  This after he got a good bath and we took him down to less than a quarter inch to even his haircut up.  Awwww, Bubba … you need some hair!

What Bubba lacks in beauty, he more than makes up for with his sweet temperament and ability to get along with the other dogs in the house.  Surprisingly, he arrived crate trained, sleeps through the night quietly, and is house trained.  Innately adaptable, he’s doing quite well after being moved to his foster home and is enjoying his walks around Lake Estes every morning.  When he tires out, he gets to share the stroller with little Ollie, who has bad hips.

Here’s to a new life in the West!

It’s an “E” weekend …

First we have “Elwood” … did you know his name is Old English meaning “from the old forest”?  And just what, per chance, did I happen to find on the front page of Thursday’s local paper?  That would be a big “Elvis Poopsley,” thank you very much!!  

Elvis, on the right


Elvis was the first stray ever surrendered to our organization (most of our dogs are OTIs, i.e., owner turn-in).  Found by two ladies in metro Denver, he had been wandering a Capitol Hill neighborhood for weeks.  Concerned about him freezing in the approaching winter weather, they bundled him up and brought him to Loveland.  Fairly new to rescue, I wasn’t quite prepared for what greeted me.  He looked like he’d been on the streets for some time as he was matted to the skin so badly it was impeding his ability to walk.  The mats on top of his paws alone were at least an inch thick.  Because of the smell emanating from him, I was concerned he might have open wounds somewhere.  Of course, this was late Saturday afternoon and an opening with a “real” groomer wasn’t to be found anywhere … poor Elvis was stuck with me.   

Not willing to make him wait another day in that condition, I started cutting the mats off him with a small pair of scissors.  Four hours later and some nicks because the skin was so tightly adhered to the mat, we had a buck nekkid dog.  A nice dog who didn’t once try to bite or nip at me despite having plenty of opportunity to do so.  His color pattern was a bit of a surprise … he arrived charcoal gray and emerged a brindle after his grooming!  One of the local radio stations was doing a tribute to “The King” that day and Elvis Poopsley just kinda fit, so Elvis it was.  

Several weeks later, Elvis was adopted by an older couple in Loveland, Willa and Vic.  During the homecheck, I met their daughter and her Tzu, Pootie Bear.   We’ve keep in contact over the years, usually by Christmas card.  Vic passed away some time ago; Willa had a stroke a couple years back and Elvis is credited with her good recovery — she simply had to be there for him.  Elvis is around 12-years old now and fighting off  immune mediated hemolytic anemia.  But, he still gets out and enjoys his walks.  Here’s to the old dogs … and the people who love them …

2009 PetExpo …

2009 Loveland Pet Expo
2009 Loveland Pet Expo

Always a good time, we attended the 2009 Loveland Reporter-Herald PetExpo the end of February.  Preparation begins several weeks prior as we make arrangements for our exhibit space and submit photos for the insert that comes out in the paper.  While there is a fee for submitting pet photos, half of it goes to the Larimer Humane Society so we’re more than happy to help support the local shelter.  It’s also good incentive to have  current photos of our pets … a momento of their life when all that remains is a memory and a pawprint on our hearts.

As this was our fourth year of attending the Expo, packing the day before is down to a science … grab the storage tub containing our booth supplies, review the inventory of  educational handouts,  pull books from the home library, and then get it all in the vehicle.  Last, but certainly not least, the dog(s) that will be attending get a bath so as to put their best foot forward for the breed.  If a foster is not available to attend, our dogs are taken to serve as ambassadors for the breed.  I always try to have one in coat there as most people have never seen an Apso in full coat outside the show ring.  Makes for some very interesting conversations with the most frequent comment being, “You must have to brush this coat daily!”  The big surprise is … I don’t do daily grooming!

We arrive early to unload and get set up — table display and dogs in place before the crowds start to arrive.  Looking across the large room, I see many exhibitors from past years and some new faces.  Later on, we’ll take a break and go visit the other booths … bronze statues, K9 photographers, pet crematorium, pet cemetery, dog bakery, canine massage therapist, to name a few.  All interesting when one has the time to browse.

Dante saying "hello" to a friend who stopped by!!
Dante saying “hello” to a friend …

This year, we were one of the few rescues in attendance and probably the only rescue with dogs in tow.  Having Dante there in coat pretty much guarantees we’ll see a lot of traffic at our booth and this year was no exception.  I love talking to the kids and seeing their reaction when they get to pet him … the little girls are especially fascinated with him.  The parents laugh when I tell them that “my husband calls this my Barbie doll.”    We’re also quick to point out that the breed comes in a “wash’n’wear” version, showing them one in a puppy cut. 

The dogs are on their best behavior and clearly enjoy the interaction with folks stopping to chat.   Dante took a shine to one little guy and proceeded to clean the top of his head for him … much to the boy’s delight.  At one point, we had a line of folks waiting to greet the dogs.  The day winds down and we start packing up all the gear, already thinking how we can add to the experience for next year’s visitors.

All in all, it’s a great way to connect with like-minded members of the community and educate folks about this unique breed that shares our heart and hearth.

Tricks of the Trade …

Having multiple dogs in the house … and grooming those dogs (mine and the foster dogs) … plus showing Dante, I’ve picked up a few pointers along the way from groomers and exhibitors regarding equipment and grooming supplies.   

I do all my own grooming (pet, show and foster) and recouped my equipment costs literally years ago.  Figure $70 every six weeks for two pet clips = $606 a year … and that doesn’t even begin to add in grooming costs for the foster dogs or show grooming for Dante.  Grooming gives me an additional chance to bond with the dogs, and for them, grooming day isn’t such an ordeal … and they always get treats afterwards!

For those interested in doing their own grooming, I have two recommendations as a priority — a stand dryer and an adjustable grooming table.  For the dryer, I recommend an Edemco and you have two good choices from PetEdge: Search Results … the ED70016 for $429 or the ED3002 for $319.  Having a stand dryer will cut down on the amount of time needed to dry and you get to use two hands in the process.
Basement grooming area ... "DogRoom"
Basement grooming area ... "DogRoom"
I prefer an adjustable 36×24 grooming table for home use.  Plenty of room and gives you the option of standing or sitting.  My choice (and this is about half of what I paid nine years ago for the same table) … PetEdge: Master Equipment Adjustable Height Grooming Tables.  Note the cushioned flooring in the main grooming area, purchased at Sam’s Club.
Clippers and how to use them … Andis or Oster are two good choices.  Because my basement is unfinished and without enough electrical outlets, I went with the Andis cordless model (which also means I’m not fighting a cord around a dog — a professional, we’re not!). 
This video is a good choice for getting started as it goes over bathing, clippers and techniques … “Grooming Your Dog – Basic Haircuts.”  One can also find grooming videos (Apso and Tzu) on YouTube with a quick search.  Just keep in mind that it’s only hair and it will grow back … one does get better with practice!
I have a grooming arm on the table (for the foster dogs’ safety) and recommend one from Table Works – Folding Grooming Arms (medium) as well as the tool caddy that fits the arm (use the side button link to see the caddy).  The tool caddy is unbelievably handy and I wish I’d gotten it sooner.  For those not wishing to purchase a stand dryer, the 24″ Table Works – Dryer Holder is a functional and well-built product.  Don’t waste your money on any other brand (been there/done that).  I can’t wait for the POS I currently have to give out so I can get one from Tableworks. 
Brushes.  I’ve used All Systems, Mandan, Christensen and MasonPearson.  I keep coming back to two … a Christensen pin brush and a bristle/nylon Mason Pearson.  Am currently using the 27 mm oval Fusion Pin Brushes.   It has brass pins and really does help cut down on the static generated.  Christensen has a #10 Buttercomb 7″ coarse rat-tailed comb which is good for faces and putting in a part down the back … Combs & Handles… as well as the #000 Buttercomb 7.5″ fine/course comb for overall use.  Christensen brush and comb “pins” are ground and polished which results in a smoother tip.  There really is a difference … Tip Test.   I do not use brushes with the little “balls” on the pin tips as this is hard on the coats (generally what one finds in the big box stores).
If you use a slicker brush (great for pulling out undercoat), Christensen has those as well … Slickers.  I have a Mark II that I use on the pet coats.  I found the All Systems Dematting Comb to be a good investment for my coats all around.
The Mason Pearson bristle/nylon brush I recommend is the brown Pocket size.  With two types of bristles, it gently teases out tangles without harming the coat.
If needing latex bands to keep hair up, I recommend these outlets … Lainee, Ltd. and Ena Lane.  I store my bands in their original bags in a ziplock bag in the freezer to keep the latex fresh.  No need in having a huge container of bands out.  The tiny imported compartment box from Lainee is quite handy for this …
Scissors.  Definitely get what you pay for here … invest a little more.  Suggest you go to a dog show and cruise the vendors, pick up and feel/fit the scissors to your hand.  I’d start out with a straight pair, probably 7-8 inches, and a curved pair.  Whatever you get, do not drop them as this can cause the blades to “nick” each other.  And then you have a blade that doesn’t cut smoothly, which means you’ll have to have them sharpened at the next show you go to.  I also like a small pair for trimming foot pads.
One doesn’t need to have a show dog to realize the benefit of having exercise pens, especially if doing a lot of traveling with dogs … J-B Deluxe Exercise Pen.  Also handy are Ground Covers.  Keeps the dog from getting soaking wet in the grass if it’s been raining.  The urine flows through it, keeping the dog clean.  Easy enough to clean up with a bucket of water, dries quickly and can be rolled up for storage/transport.
Camping with x-pens and ground covers
Camping with x-pens and ground covers -- front row, l-r, Dinky, Ali and Frankers; back row, l-r, Sierra & Emma

Crates:  I recommend a Mid-West 2-door crate in the 1624 DD model.  The double doors (DD) are great for vehicle or home use.  Also of benefit is a floor grate … Dog Crate Accessories – Midwest Divider Panels & Floor Grids for Dog Crates  (#1624 DD) … and recommended because the plastic pan will cause huge amounts of static if in contact with the dog’s coat.  Plus, if the dog has an accident or gets sick, the dog stays cleaner as any liquid falls through the grating.  And, yes, you’ll probably pay more for the floor grate than you will for the crate!

While this is pretty much falls under show equipment (used to get gear in/out of a show site), it is unbelievably handy around the house/yard as well.  I have this set up … MicroCart – ZZounds.com ($105 shipped … and you can read my review on the site).  This next site, however, shows how versatile the cart is … Micro Cart.  I had occasion to use it during an office move a couple years ago as well. 
If you have a male with housetraining issues, I recommend the adjustable Belly Bands from Small Dog Shop.  They are more form fitting and, thus, more comfortable for the dog.  Lined with a Depends or Serenity pad, they work great to contain male marking, keeping the boys and the furnishings clean.  And the adjustable type allows you to use it on similar-sized dogs.  In order to keep Dante clean on show weekends, he sports a belly band every trip outside.  This also means I don’t have to give him a belly bath every day before we go into the ring.  (Yeah, yeah, hubby says the dog folks are nuts …).
Dante in belly band
Dante in belly band, getting ready to go to the show ...
Below is a listing of fav sites for both show and pet items.  Note that some of the places have a “minimum order” charge so I usually get what I need from one place or make sure I have enough to get over the minimum or enough to get free shipping. 
Happy shopping!