"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume III - Issue 32:  November 4, 2005
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool - Getting it Wrong - Making it Right
=>  Selecting a Trainer
=>  Breed of the Week - Neapolitan Mastiff
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  A Night on the Town

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

I am keeping the Drool section short today as the rest of this issue is a little long. I do want to cover a couple of things.

First, I am dedicating this week's issue to Keesha Goodwin who crossed the Rainbow Bridge this week. Keesha was a wonderful dog that was fortunate to be rescued seven years ago by her mom, Cathy. This wonderful rescue couldn't have asked for a more loving person to care for her. Keesha, you will be dearly missed.

I want to thank the people who sent in their breed of the week article submissions. I am going to take them in the order I got them but will get to them all. Also, please don't hesitate to send me more submissions for the main article as well. Can't tell you how many times I have sat here wondering what you all what to hear about. After all, if I don't write about what you want to know, you will one day leave and I will be left in the corner in the fetal position wondering what happened to my life! ;)

I was telling the kids the other day that I wanted them to start to make their Christmas lists for me. The boys just want cash, and, of course, Madalyn wants everything Barbie. Anyway, as I was looking at it, I started to think about presents for dogs. Now we may not like to admit it, but we all buy our pets presents.

This got me to thinking about what everyone else buys for their pets. So, here's what I want you to do. Send me some of your ideas for presents for our pets. Whatever it is, let me know. Then, we will share the ideas here and maybe help another reader who has been stumped trying to figure out what would be the perfect gift for Fido.

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

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



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Hello Christopher,

I know you have seen the posts recently about "how to deal with losing your dog" but I seem to be having a real problem with this. Here's how it goes.

I have had only two dogs in my life. One, when I was very young, and another named Sasquach. He was a massive black lab with enormous feet, thus the name. He went everywhere with me, even to work, and was my very best friend. He saw me through a divorce, the loss of my parents, two jobs and everyday life. He seemed to know what I needed and when to give it too me.

He didn't sleep in my bed, but we went to our own beds at the same time. We had our meals together and I even took him car shopping with me. Needed to make sure he would fit! lol He just seemed to know everything!!

Now he is gone after a long battle with cancer. He lived a wonderfully full life and, even at the end, never seemed to act like he wanted me to worry. He was always a trooper who was more interested in how I was, than the pain he must have been feeling. He was so considerate and loving. (Can you tell he was my everything?)

What I now worry about was did I wait too long, because of my own feelings, to have him put down. I also find myself wanting another giant Lab like him to take his place. Am I setting myself up for disappointment? What do you think?

Name withheld

A Time to Say Goodbye

I was very fortunate to be able to take one of my police K-9s home when he was retired. He was a classical German Shepard named Sandy. He was born in Dundee, Scotland and sold to the RAF as a police dog. He started his service when I was a mere ten years old. He was as steady a dog as you could ever see. Ran the obstacle course like an Olympian. Would take down an intruder like a champ, and God help you if you ever put a hand on me.

At the same time, he was a lover. I never worried about him around my kids and I could take him to any school to do dog demonstrations, and never worry about him biting a student even though he had just bit an "intruder" in the demonstration. He would sit there and be tolerant of the petting, hair pulling and all the other stuff kids do to dogs. He just didn't care ... unless I told him too. At the end of the day though, you could tell he was tired and ready for bed.

At nearly twelve years old, he was retired as the rigors of police work had become too much. He had developed arthritis from an injury when he was young and could no longer run fast or do the obstacle course without the risk of injury. I was going to give him the splendid retirement this wonderful dog deserved though. He liked my dog, another German Shepard, and I knew he would be fine. He would finally be able to just relax.

I guess it was less than two months later when I saw a problem. He wasn't happy. Keep in mind, this dog knew nothing other than being a working kenneled police dog his entire life. All his pleasure derived from this. He knew nothing else. I figured, as did the vet, he was going through an adjustment period and would come around soon enough.

He didn't like his walks as much as he was only walking, not patrolling. He didn't enjoy barking at the door anymore as a knock meant a friend, not intruder. He missed his obstacle course and doing retrieve exercises. He missed competing. He missed his life.

At nine weeks in the house, I came downstairs and saw him asleep on his blanket in front of the radiator. He didn't look right, but I let it go until morning. I didn't try to wake him or anything else. I just figured, "He's okay."

The next morning, when he woke up, he was disoriented and unable to stand up. I took him to the vet and they determined he had had a stroke. They said it wouldn't kill him and he might be able to walk around in time, but even that was a long shot. She told me I should consider putting him down and was patient as I grilled her about treatment options.

I had to walk out of the exam room as I thought I would just lose it. This was my partner. He would have given his life for me, no questions asked. How could I take his life from him without trying everything? I felt like I was letting him down. Violating the trust. I went back in the exam room determined to do whatever it took to save him.

When I walked back in he was whimpering, but stopped once he knew I was back. I know he knew I was in pain, and I realized at that moment he wasn't whining because of his own condition, he was crying because I was in pain, and there was nothing he could do about it. That's when I knew what I had to do for this selfless, beautiful creature.

I laid down next to him, rubbed his head and told him how much I loved him. The vet did her thing and just before Sandy passed, he licked my nose. I stayed with him for some time, just to make sure he got off on his journey okay.

I had him cremated, as burial just didn't seem appropriate for him. I spread his ashes across the parade grounds at RAF Newton in Nottingham, England, the home of the Royal Air Force's dog school.

It is never easy to have to say goodbye to our dogs. I'm also not going to tell you what to do when it comes to making such an emotional and personal decision. I can only tell you what I would do, and leave it at that.

When I finally decided to let Sandy go, it was because the vet was pretty clear there was little in the way of treatment that could be done for him, and, chances were, he would have a poor quality of life. He had had a full and active life and had already been showing signs that inactivity was affecting him.

Additionally, we would never have known whether he was, or the extent to which, he would be suffering. For an animal who had served so faithfully, I felt it would have been an injustice to keep him around simply because I didn't want to let go.

If the veterinarian is sure there's nothing they can do to return a dog to a point where they can have a fulfilling and pain free life, I feel as though making the decision to say goodbye is my obligation to the dog. I know I wouldn't want to be in that position, so the least I can do is return some of the many favors my dog has given to me and say goodbye.

I also wouldn't go out and try to find a carbon copy of a dog that has passed. If I ever went out to get a new German Shepard, I would never try to find another Sandy. There was only ONE Sandy. He was a unique dog and that is that. All I can do is raise any dog I have to be a good dog, and if he ends up like Sandy, well that's great. If I am looking for his "twin" I'm likely to be disappointed.

When we spread Sandy's ashes, we did it right. Many friends and other K-9s attended. Not much different than any other burial ceremony. We celebrated his wonderful life and joked about his quirks. I still have his picture framed and up after all these years and many dogs. After all, saying goodbye doesn't mean we have to forget as well.

This article may be republished using the following attribution statement:

Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator: The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter: mailto:subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com?subject=Subscribe VISIT NOW: master-dog-training.com

Quote of the Week

Out of the Mouths of Babes

[I'm not sure who wrote this but I thought it fell in line with this week's article. ~C]

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.

We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

~ Unknown ~


Shiba Inu
Neapolitan Mastiff

Once you have stood next to a Neapolitan Mastiff for the first time, you have to re-evaluate what you consider to be a big dog. These descendants of the Tibetan Mastiff have been dated in the western world as far back as 250 BC. The breed was officially recognized in 1946 and a finalized standard was established in 1949

The Neo was bred by the Romans for use in combat, and also to participate in arena games. According to tradition, their ears should be docked short and their tails docked by one-third. Fortunately, most enthusiasts have broken from tradition and are leaving the tails and ears natural.

Their bodies are extremely muscular and should be well defined leading to an enormous head and wrinkled face. The wrinkles often continue down their chin and neck. Their teeth should meet in a well defined scissor bite. Their dense coat can be solid or brindled with the most common color being blue and then black. A small amount of white is permitted on the chest and toes, but overall is discouraged.

Now, I told you they were big and I wasn't kidding. They can range in height from 24- 30 inches (60-75 cm.) at the withers and weigh up to 165 lbs. (75 kg.) Some of the larger males can reach 200 lbs! (90 kg.) There may be heavier or taller breeds, but a Neo has a stature that almost makes them larger than life.

When you first see a Neo, your first thought is, “Holy Crap! He's going to eat me!” While they are big and powerful enough to do it, they really have developed into gentle giants over the years despite their ancestry. In fact, their personalities remind me of a playful child.

Like all breeds out there, the Neo is not for everyone. This is particularly true of the Neo which will really do best with someone with at least a moderate amount of dog experience. I don't say this because of any behavioral issue present in the breed, but because of their size. Before getting a Neo, one must be sure they are prepared to establish a proper pack structure so the dog, because of its' size, doesn't ever try to challenge the structure.

Neo's are easy to train and will often become bored with overly repetitive training. They are extremely intelligent and need activities to stimulate their minds to avoid their becoming destructive due to boredom. Obedience and manners training should be started at a very young age and it is important you are extremely consistent. They also require significant socialization in varied environments with a number of different stimuli. It is far easier to do when the puppy only weighs 30 lbs.

Do not let the young, Neapolitan Mastiff run and play too much. Limit its exercise because it must on no account be over-tired. Avoid rough games in the growing stage and ensure that all its energy is available to make healthy bones and muscles. Special care should be taken in a home with a Neo puppy and small children so the children don't accidentally injure the animal.

Once a Neo is between 18 and 24 months they can be exercised more vigorously. In fact, not providing a Neo enough exercise will create a frustrated animal which will be more likely to become destructive or aggressive. They should be taken on long walks twice daily.

They are prone to hip dysplasia, pano-ostiosis (growing pains), a condition which may occur when the dog is 4-18 months old and generally disappears on its own. They are also prone to "cherry eye" where the eye tissue protrudes more than normal and becomes red and inflamed. This condition is completely cured with minor surgery. Their life expectancy is up to 10 years. They are easily groomed and are an average shedder.

Ask anyone who has ever owned a Neo and they will tell you how people will literally cross to the opposite side of the street when they see a Neapolitan Mastiff coming down the sidewalk towards them. I kind of think that's a shame. The Neo is a big teddy bear that makes a loving, comical and intelligent companion for the individual or family. Their desire to please, be loved and dedication to their owners is unlike any other breed in the extra large category. Next time you see one, don't cross the street. You will miss the opportunity to meet an extraordinary beast.

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Joke of the Week

Turn About is Fair Play

I never quite figured out why the urges of men and women differ so much. And I never have figured out the whole Venus and Mars thing. I have never figured out why men think with their head and women with their heart.

FOR EXAMPLE: One evening last week, my wife and I were getting into bed.

Well, the passion starts to heat up, and she eventually says "I don't feel like it, I just want you to hold me."

I said "WHAT??!! What was that?!"

So she says the words that every man on the planet dreads to hear... "You're just not in touch with my emotional needs as a woman enough for me to satisfy your physical needs as a man." She responded to my puzzled look by saying, "Can't you just love me for who I am and not what I do for you in the bedroom?"

Realizing that nothing was going to happen that night, I went to sleep.

The very next day I opted to take the day off of work to spend time with her. We went out to a nice lunch and then went shopping at a big, big unnamed department store. I walked around with her while she tried on several different very expensive outfits. She couldn't decide which one to take so I told her we'd just buy them all. She wanted new shoes to compliment her new clothes, so I said lets get a pair for each outfit.

We went onto the jewelry department where she picked out a pair of diamond earrings. Let me tell you...she was so excited. She must have thought I was one wave short of a shipwreck. I started to think she was testing me because she asked for a tennis bracelet when she doesn't even know how to play tennis.

I think I threw her for a loop when I said, "That's fine, honey." She was nearing satisfaction from all of the excitement. Smiling with excited anticipation she finally said, "I think this is all dear, let's go to the cashier."

I could hardly contain myself when I blurted out, "No honey, I don't feel like it."

Her face just went completely blank as her jaw dropped with a baffled WHAT?"

I then said "honey! I just want you to HOLD this stuff for a while. You're just not in touch with my financial needs as a man enough for me to satisfy your shopping needs as a woman." And just when she had this look like she was going to kill me, I added, "Why can't you just love me for who I am and not for the things I buy you?"

Apparently I'm not having any tonight either ...

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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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