"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 11:  April 8, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  When a Rescue Isn't a Rescue
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Breed of the Week - Greyhound
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  What Do You See?

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

Every week, I receive at least a hundred emails from people telling me about different things they have heard about going on in the world of dogs. I actually enjoy these emails as they save me time keeping up with the multitude of information that comes out each week.

Many of these emails provide some great information I try to pass on when appropriate. Some are just stories about personal pets or work going on in the writer's area to benefit dogs. I really do enjoy most of what I read but, occasionally, there are times I receive something that gets me a little ticked off. This week, I received both.

The first thing I am going to mention is the focus of my article this week so I won't go into it to much here. Apparently, there are some people out there exploiting, at least in my opinion, rescued dogs. These individuals are operating under the guise of being a rescue but charge huge fees to adopt a dog and will even provide papers in case you want to breed them. Absolutely shameful, but more on that later.

Now, on the up side…

I want to commend the school children of Perry County, Indiana who have taken it upon themselves to do something positive to help animals in their local shelters. These kids have been spending their time making posters of animals looking for forever homes.

They then take the posters out and hang them in local stores and restaurants in hopes of finding the animals new families. In one case, a family saw their long missing dog on one of the posters and was able to reunite with him.

Then, there is a sixteen-year-old girl in Pennsylvania who over the last year has rescued over sixty dogs from shelters and Animal Control and placed them in new homes. (I am hoping to do a more in depth story on her in the near future.

As I read these stories, I found it incredible that these kids, with little and or no resources, are able to go out there and make a difference for these animals. The more I thought about it, I found the excuses adults give for a lack of involvement all the more ridiculous.

Now, I understand we adults have to work, drive the kids around, cook dinner, maintain the house, etc. etc. That doesn't leave a lot of time to go out and help sometimes. So here's what I was thinking.

If we adults are too busy, why not encourage our children to help their local shelter or rescue. They can make posters like the kids in Indiana, help the local shelter exercise dogs, or maybe plan a fund raising car wash to generate funds for a local rescue operation.

I feel pretty comfortable saying it will make the kids feel a sense of accomplishment and build their self-esteem. If anyone is out there is interested in starting a kids' program, let me know. Paws for Change will them get started.

I also want to remind everyone about the audio classes I am doing. They are going to be held weekly and we have managed one heck of a line up. The instructors are some of the biggies in the animal care, and training world. I'm really very excited to be a part of it and highly suggest you go to the link below to learn more. Additionally, the format used for the classes is incredible.

Additionally, all "Bark 'n' Scratch" subscribers will be able to attend these classes for 50% off the normal cost of these interactive classes through the end of May, 2005. For just $15.00 you will be able to have access to professionals who often charge hundreds of dollars for their consultations. To register, go to:


Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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I ran across a dog web site recently that claimed the dogs they had were rescues. As I read through the site though I noticed they were offering many of the dogs with papers and that they didn't spay/neuter the dogs in case the new owner wanted to breed the animal. As I continued to read the web site, I was amazed at the amount of the rescue fee they were asking for. In one case, the fee for an unspayed female Yorkie was $300.00!

I know it can't be cheap to rescue dogs but $300.00 seemed to be excessive. Am I off base? Do most rescues leave the dogs intact? This really seemed a little shady to me but maybe I'm just misinformed on the subject. I had never really considered or looked into rescues until recently. Thanks for any advice you can give.


When a Rescue Isn't a Rescue

When I first read this letter I was taken back quite a bit. Having worked in Basset rescue for many years, I have never seen anything like what the writer expressed. So, I decided to go take a look at the site and see exactly what was up. After all, the writer even said he was unsure of what he was looking at.

I looked at the site I was sent and also looked up a few other organizations. I guess I really shouldn't have been surprised at what I saw. It appears some that some people have turned dog rescue into what appears to me to be a profit based operation complete with corporate sponsorship and dogs that have been used up by commercial breeding operations aka, puppy mills.

Now you all know me, I was jumping up and down, ready to scream. Not only are these types of operations, in my humble opinion anyway, exploiting animals for profit, many are exploiting these dogs for the second time in the dog's life!

Now I could go on and bad mouth these operations and focus on the type of jerk I think would run such an operation like this, however, I think I would better utilize this time to give you a guide to use when looking at any rescue operation.

One more thing before I continue. I think almost everyone in rescue would recommend you look at your local public shelter or Animal Control office first once you have decided on the breed that is best for you. These dogs are on borrowed time and may not have much longer to live. Give them the first shot.

Breed Specific or All Breed

When I was doing rescue, I was doing it privately from my own home and only rescued Basset Hounds. This wasn't because I didn't like other dogs, but because the Basset was my breed of choice. This is the same way many rescue organizations operate these days. In fact, breed specific operations are the ones I would tend to gravitate to if looking to obtain a dog from a rescue organization.

I say this because the people who work in this manner generally have extensive knowledge of the breed they are working with. This allows them to work with the animal more effectively to prepare them for their new forever home. Keep in mind, most rescuers aren't professional trainers or behaviorists.

Additionally, most breed specific rescues have a network of people who are also active in the rescue of the breed who may have an adoptable dog that may be best suited for a new potential owner. This allows for the best possible match between the dog and owner and lessens the chance the dog will be returned or given up at a later date.

Now I don't want people to think that all breed rescues aren't a good thing. The reason I gravitate towards breed specific rescues is I believe people need to have a good idea of what breed is going to work best for them. By going to a breed specific rescue, you have the opportunity to speak with people knowledgeable about the breed. It also helps to avoid the inappropriate “impulse buy” which could happen if someone goes to an all breed rescue. I want to reiterate that I don't think all breed rescues are a bad thing. They just, for me personally, wouldn't be my first choice.

Is Bigger Better?

In today's world, where we super size our french fries and buy the biggest SUV we can find, we seem to have developed the idea that bigger is better. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to getting a dog from a rescue. Don't let a fancy web site or claims of rescuing hundreds of dogs convince you that the operation is a good one. Do your homework.

Know Where the Dogs Come From

Reputable rescuers get their dogs from a couple of different sources ...

Animal Control Offices
Owner Relinquished
Humane Societies

There are always other sources as well. Some work with local authorities and will be called when animals are found that have been abandoned or abused. Others will work with other rescue organizations and get dogs from them if one is more experienced with a particular breed.

What you don't want are dogs that have come from commercial breeding operations. These dogs have normally been raised in horrendous conditions for most of their life and many will have one or more health conditions to be dealt with. This is usually the result of the inappropriate breeding practices of such operations.

Additionally, rescues that obtain dogs that are simply no longer profitable for a commercial breeder, in my opinion, are doing nothing more than encouraging puppy mills to continue to operate and giving the mill operators a place to dump the dogs that have become incapable of lining their pockets. The only time I would consider a dog from a commercial breeding facility (puppy mill) would be if the operation had been shut down completely.

Check Them Out

Before getting a dog from a rescue, check with the local Animal Control office to see if the rescue has ever had any complaints made against them. You can also check with the local SPCA as well. In most cases, they will let you know if complaints have ever been filed against the operation. Ask for verifiable references, but be wise and take references with a little grain of salt.

Things to Look/Ask For

Other than those mentioned above, here are a few things to look for ...

Facility Conditions:

The facilities should be clean and safe for the dog and open for your inspection. If it is a private home, you aren't going to ask to see the bedroom, but there is nothing wrong with asking to see where the dog spends most of its time, bed and feeding location.

Condition of Dog:

The dog should be clean and well groomed. If the dog is dirty and obviously needs to be brushed, it should cause you to wonder at the treatment the dog has received while there.

Veterinary Care:

All dogs should be given a complete health check and any conditions resolved before being adopted, except under special conditions. They should also be spay/neutered before being released. Some will take a spay/neuter deposit, which requires the new family to spay/neuter within a certain time in order to have their deposit returned. This is acceptable as well. Copies of all veterinary records should be provided.


Fees should not exceed the cost incurred by the rescue for the dog being adopted. It is acceptable for the rescue to have a mandatory “donation” attached to the cost and I think this is okay providing it isn't more than $50.00 to $75.00. Many rescues will have a set fee that sometimes they make out on and sometimes they lose. When I did rescue I only charged what I spent on the rescue and asked for a donation, which most people gave. The way I looked at it, I didn't want anyone to think I was making money off rescue.

Sold As-Is:

Rescue dogs should be adopted with a standard health guarantee that is particular to the dog and any known conditions should be reported to the new owner. With rescues, it's also important that the adopter get a 30 day behavioral guarantee. If for some reason the dog isn't working out during that period, the rescue should be willing to provide a different dog at no cost (with reasonable conditions) or simply take the dog back and return the adoption fee less a reasonable handling fee.

I truly admire all the men and women who work so diligently to rescue dogs from the pound, lazy owners and the unscrupulous. These wonderful people provide these dogs with the love and care they deserve. I can't say enough about them. However, like all good things in life, there are some out there willing to take advantage of them for a quick buck.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
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Quote of the Week

No man can be condemned for owning a dog. As long as he has a dog, he has a friend; and the poorer he gets, the better friend he has.

~ Will Rogers ~

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Normally, when someone thinks of a Greyhound, the see images of dogs running around a track at incredible speeds, while screaming people cheer their favorite and clutch their bet slip tightly in their hand. While racing is what the breed is most commonly known for these days, they have a long and rich history.

Believed to have originated in the Middle East over 1300 years ago the breed was taken to the Europe early in the 12th Century. This, along with which breeds they are descendants of is disputed among some fanciers, so I am not going to harp too much on this issue.

Capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, they were most often used to hunt deer and wild pigs, as their speed allowed them to catch the animals and stay with them until they were subdued for the hunter.

The Greyhound (GH) has the body of a marathon runner. Their streamlined bodies, well-muscled chest and rear legs provide them with the power to reach the incredible speeds they are capable of reaching. In fact, their entire body seems to have been designed for speed as is evidenced by the configuration of the wide head, long neck and small ears set back on the head. Their forelegs should be square and perfectly straight.

Their short coat comes in most colors and is immaterial under AKC breed standards. They can be moderate shedders and require minimal brushing and only require baths periodically.

While they may seem aloof to some people unfamiliar with the breed, they actually have quite charming personalities. However, one should consider the breeding of the particular dog before obtaining one as their personalities can differ based on whether they were breed for show, racing or as companions.

Show, Companion or Racer

Personally, if someone has little dog experience, I would only recommend a GH that was breed for show or companionship for a couple of reasons. First, it can be difficult to read the body language of the breed if you are unfamiliar with them. Dogs bred for racing are intentionally bred to have a higher prey drive than show/companion bred GH's. They are rarely socialized with other species of animal such as cats, etc. as this could decrease their desire to chase the mechanical rabbit used to entice the dogs to run during races.

What this means is that dogs that were previous racers will need to be given extensive socialization in most cases to “rehabilitate” them to their new life. This often takes an experienced hand that is familiar with the breed and understands how to re-socialize them.

On the other hand, GHs bred for show or companionship are generally bred to have a lower prey drive making them more appropriate for the average person as well as easier to handle in the ring. Regardless of what they were bred for, they should be extensively socialized if you intend for them to be a pet.

The GH needs to be trained with a gentle but firm hand, as they can be a little sensitive. They also have a tendency to be a little strong headed although they exhibit it rather subtly. There is a strong need to have the GH undergo attention focused training with lots of distractions. This is a safety consideration more than anything else, as should they take off unexpectedly, you want them to respond to your command to return immediately.

The GH weighs from 62 - 72 lb. (27.5 – 32.5 kg) and ranges in height from 27 – 30 inches (68 -76 cm) in height. They are relatively free of any major genetic defects as far as I can discern although, like many working/active breeds, hip dysplasia and bloat are things you want to be on the watch for. They have an average life expectancy of 11-13 years.

When it comes to this breed I have a bit of mixed feelings. Not about the breed itself, but with the sport they actively involved in ... racing.

This is a dog that was born to run and I know I, who believes I was born to train dogs, would be miserable if I was unable to do just that. However, dog racing is big business, like all gambling, and, they are often said to be exploited as a result. As you all know, I hate the exploitation of any dog.

However, admitting my own ignorance of the sport, I am not sure how many of the dogs rescued were actually abused, injured through neglect or improper breeding. What I do know is there are several rescue groups out there bringing in new GH from the track each day. Whether it is as the result of the dog simply being too old to race or breed, or because the animal is abused, I just can't say.

I believe dogs need a purpose to fulfill their pack role, however, I'm just not sure racing them on the scale they are, or under the current conditions, is best for them. This is something I will have to explore. Would I race a dog of any breed in the manner in which the GH is? Probably not.

The GH is a great dog for someone with an active lifestyle. I believe they belong in a home with a yard and are not suitable for apartment life. They will do well with kids and their soulful look will provide years of love and companionship. What else can you ask for?

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Joke of the Week

What Do You See?

The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert.  After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep.

Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, "Kemo Sabe, look towards sky, what you see?"

The Lone Ranger replies, "I see millions of stars."

"What that tell you?" asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, "Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.  Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.  What's it tell you, Tonto?"

Tonto is silent for a moment, then says, "Kemo Sabe, it tells me you dumber then buffalo poop.  Somebody stole tent."

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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