"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 41:  November 26, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...
Internet Toy Drive
Listen to:
"Children are the Very
Heart of Christmas"

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=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Dog Brokers
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Breed of the Week - Bouvier des Flanders
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  The Pink Curtains

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Gang!

Well, I hope everyone (at least here in the US) had a great Thanksgiving Day feast. We went “non-traditional” at my house and opted to forego the turkey and decided to make a bunch of our favorite appetizers instead. Easier to watch the football games that way!

Now, the official Christmas shopping season is open. Normally, I don't get overly excited about Christmas but I am this year. My oldest son will be home from college for the first time in a couple of years and my daughter is at an age where she understands more of what's going on and can participate a little more.

She wants an Easy Bake Oven. You know, those little ovens that use a light bulb to cook up little cookies and cakes. I'm not so sure this is necessarily a good idea. I keep having visions of other plastic toys being melted down, not to mention the mess I will be continually cleaning up from the multitude of little goodies she will be making.

I don't know why I'm kidding myself. I could sit here and list a million reasons for not getting this culinary masterpiece but I know darn good and well she's going to get it. I guess I should be grateful she isn't old enough to be asking for miniskirts and halter-tops yet!

Speaking of Christmas ... (How you like that lead in?) The Paws for Change 2005 calendar is still available and makes a fantastic gift for the dog lover in your life or just as a way to treat yourself. Lets' face it, we all are going to have to buy a calendar anyway, so why not save yourself the time and gas and pick up one or two? Remember, all the proceeds go directly to helping shelter dogs and teaching responsible ownership and dog safety to kids. It's a win-win!

If you haven't checked them out yet, or are ready to buy one, please go to the link below. Believe me, you won't be disappointed.


I have a correction to put out regarding last week's article on Designer Dogs. In it, I stated that a Puggle was a Pug and Poodle cross. It is actually a Pug and Beagle mix. Not sure where my head was as I knew this. I guess, I just figured a mutt is a mutt regardless of its “title.” I promise to proof read a little more carefully from now on.

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

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



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Loved the article on Designer Dogs. High time someone finally spoke out against the people who are involved in this type of scheming. Guess I shouldn't be surprised it would be you. ; )

In your article, you mentioned dog brokers and obviously have a low opinion of them. What exactly is a dog broker? Just curious.

Janet K.

Dog Brokers

If I were to give a definition of what a dog broker is, it would probably go something like this…

Any individual or entity who acts as a middle-man between a breeder and purchaser for profit including pet stores that sell dogs. Brokers do not breed the dogs they sell.

You may be thinking, “So what's the problem with that?” Well, as always, I'm a gonna tell ya!

Common Financial Sense

Now I'm no financial genius here, but I know a couple of things. First, if I were going to go out and buy something, lets say oranges, I could probably get a better deal from the farmer than I would by going and purchasing them from the grocery store. Second, the farmer could probably tell me when the oranges were picked, if pesticides were used and even a little bit about the variety of orange itself. Overall, I am going to have a far better orange buying experience. I'm betting the guy working in the produce section isn't going to have a clue in most cases.

Now I know that example is a little asinine and basic, and there is a big difference between a dog and oranges, but you can see where I am going with it. There are experts and there are salesmen. Personally, when I'm making a purchase that comes with the long-term commitment a dog does, I'd rather deal with an expert who isn't jacking up the price on me.

Where Do They Come From

Over the years, I have met literally hundreds of conscientious breeders all over the world. I can't think of one who would allow a private broker or pet store to sell their puppies for them. A true breeder is concerned about the families and the environment their puppies are going to. Profit is rarely a consideration to a breeder and they normally only charge what a puppy is worth.

So, where exactly do many of these pure bred dogs that are sold at pet stores and through brokers come from? A couple of different places actually and personally, I wouldn't call them desirable either.

Puppy Mills

Some, in fact many I believe, come from puppy mills. Now I don't have to tell you how horrific puppy mill operations are, but, just in case someone out there doesn't know, let me give you a quick overview.

Puppy mills are commercial breeding operations where numerous dog breeds are repeatedly over bred. They are, more often than not, not given any medical care, live in tiny cages, without heat or air, under-nourished and inbred. They usually don't allow anyone to see the facilities and once a dog is unable to breed any longer, they are destroyed.

Often these operations are secluded on farms away from “prying” eyes to mask the brutality and neglect these dogs have to endure. Some are bred in homes though too. They aren't as large scale, but the treatment is generally the same. It is a pitiful existence that no animal should have to be stuck with.

One Time Breeders

Another source of dogs for the brokers is the one time breeder. Generally, these are people who have decided to breed Fluffy so they can either have a carbon copy of their dog or feel every dog should have the right to procreate. Once they realize the enormous amount of work and expense breeding a dog can be, it becomes easier to dump the pups on a broker to deal with.

Often, once they have the puppy they want, they will sell the remaining litter to a broker to be rid of it. After all, they got what they wanted and hopefully covered their costs somewhat. Rather than worry about finding homes for the rest of the puppies, they find it easier to let the broker do it.

What we have to remember is these one-time breeders have little and or no experience in breeding dogs. Often, even though their dog may have papers, they aren't of the quality that should be bred. Even champion dogs can have puppies that shouldn't go on to be a part of any breeding program.

The Scam

Often, the brokers will give a health guarantee just as a breeder does, however, you need to read those guarantees closely. They are often filled with numerous conditions and unreasonable obligations. If any one of those conditions is not met, even slightly, you can be sure the broker will not honor the contract. Let me give you an example.

One widely publicized broker requires the following in their Terms and Conditions…

“In order for this agreement to stand, your new puppy must continue the regimen of taking daily Nu Vet vitamin supplements that protect the dog against many congenital health problems.   You may order Nu Vet vitamins by calling 1-800-474-7044. Your key code is 1****. These must be given daily for the life of the dog or this guarantee is void.”

First, if a dog has a hereditary disease, supplements may help the dog cope with it or even fight it off, but it won't necessarily protect the dog from it. I completely agree with giving dogs supplements, in addition to a healthy diet, to help them stay well, but I find it suspect that a broker would require a particular brand and regimen, of their own design.

What if your vet recommends a different regimen? What if I would prefer to use a higher quality supplement brand? (There are many.) And just who is the distributor attached to the required key code? I'd bet my dangly bits it's the broker himself.

So, not only has the broker sold you an overpriced dog that is more than likely very poor quality and given you a worthless health guarantee, he gets to continue to pick your pockets for the rest of your dog's life!

I could go on and tear apart the whole list of Terms and Conditions. In fact, I did so with a good friend who has an MBA in Business and is the Paws for Change Legislative Director. Believe me, there is no way a buyer is going to get crap with contracts like these.

Another branch of business the brokers have moved into is the designer “hybrid” dog market. Now I talked about designer dogs last week, so I won't go into that again now, but it shows, in my opinion anyway, the morality of these brokers. Again, just my opinion, but it seems the dollar is the important thing to these people and not the animals they are peddling.

Listen up folks. If you want to continue to support the puppy mill industry, these brokers will, in my humble opinion, do just that for you. Avoid them and pet stores that sell dogs like the plague. Do your research, meet the breeders, look at their stock and get veterinary references. And, as always, there is your local shelter. Don't leave those guys out!

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

A good dog never dies; he always stays he walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter's drawing near, his head is within our hand in his old way.

~ Mary Carolyn Davies ~

Mail Bag

Dear Chris -

Loved the article on designer dogs. Thank you. I was just sent a link that shows that it is not just cross breeds being tweaked (or at least they claim these are pure bred dogs) - I found this so appalling that I thought you might be interested in this really sad situation.

The dog in question is a Scottish terrier (my favorite breed) that has been 'miniaturized' into a teacup breed. Please take a look for yourself at:


I have a hard time believing those ears and eyes the shape of the skull are not the result of cross breeding - but in any case I think this is horrible and I hope the buying public has more sense. My heart breaks for the dogs so used...what will happen to them?

Thanks for you time,
J. Bowe


Wonderful article on the Pugs. Thanks. Ours went for a walk with us today with their sweaters on, because it was snowing. They are so cute.



Bouvier des Flanders
Bouvier des Flanders

During the first couple of days I was at the K-9 Police Academy, I was assigned Barry, pictured above. Being unfamiliar with the breed, my first thought was a bear had somehow slipped through the screening process. However, he quickly became one of the favorite working dogs I ever had the pleasure to work.

There is no real agreement concerning the origin of this Franco-Belgian breed. It may have been formed by crossing the Griffon and the Beauceron. The Bouvier, originally a cattle herding dog, was used as a rescue dog and message-carrier during World War I. As a result of his exposure during the warfare and the nearly total destruction of Flandres, the breed was almost completely killed off. In 1923, after the war, the Bouvier was "reconstructed" from a few individuals, and a breed club was established in Belgium. Bouvier des Flandres means "cowherd from Flanders.”

The Bouvier is a powerful, impressive dog with a massive and heavily-coated head with a beard and mustache. The thick beard and shaggy eyebrows give the dog a very distinctive appearance. The slightly tapered muzzle is strong and broad. The oval, dark brown eyes have a bold, affectionate and lively expression. The nose is black. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite.

Body length from point of shoulder to the tip of the rump should be approximately equal to the height of the dog from the withers to the ground, giving the dog a square profile. The front legs are muscular and perfectly straight. The chest is broad and deep. The dog has a double coat. The rough, shaggy-looking outer coat is harsh and dry to the touch. This steel-wool hair comes in black, fawn, gray, or brindle. It is lined with a dense undercoat.

They are a relatively easy breed to train providing they have a consistent training program and a strong handler because of their strength. While the handler should be strong physically, they should also have a soft hand when disciplining or correcting the dog. Their gentle and eager to please manner makes harsh corrections unnecessary. Obedience training of a Bouvier should start when they are fairly young.

While obedience training should start at a young age, working dog training should wait until the dog reaches full maturity to allow this breed's massive frame to fully develop.

They are excellent with respectful children and will make an excellent family dog. They do require extensive socialization with other people and animals at an early age. This is due to the natural protective instinct found in many herding breeds.

The Bouvier range in height from 23-32 inches (58-76 cm.) at the withers and weigh from 75-90 pounds (34-41 kg.) They can be slow to mature physically and mentally, not reaching full maturity until they are around three years old. They have a relative life expectancy of 11-13 years.

They are one of the healthier dog breeds around having been developed to withstand extremely harsh conditions. They are rarely sick, but some may develop hip dysplasia. When trained to be working dogs, we must remember they have a high titration level or pain tolerance. As a result, if the dog is showing any signs of injury, regardless of whether it seems serious or not, they should be checked by a vet.

The Bouvier needs a yard where it can romp and play when it wants to, therefore they aren't suitable for apartment life even though they are relatively calm and quiet indoors.

Grooming a Bouvier takes some work. I used to spend about thirty minutes once a week doing an extensive grooming and then about another ten minutes a day giving Barry a good brush. They should be trimmed by a groomer at least three times a year. This may sound like a pain but it's really isn't that bad. You know what else, when maintained they don't shed much.

Currently the Bouvier serves as a watchdog, guardian, family companion and as a tracking dog. This breed has also been used as a guide for the blind and in search & rescue. It will also succeed in police work, military work, carting, agility, competitive obedience and schutzhund. All and all, this is one of the finest dogs out there in the large dog category. If you ever get the chance, go check one out!

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Joke of the Week

The Pink Curtains

A blonde goes into a department store and tells the salesman she wants a pair of pink curtains.

He assures her they have a good selection of pink curtains. He shows her many kinds of different fabrics of curtains she finally picks out a pink floral pattern.

The salesman asks, "What size do you need?" She says, "15 inch." He exclaims, "15 INCHES! What room are they for?" She says, "It's not for a room, it's for my computer monitor."

The surprised salesman exclaims, "Miss, computers do not need curtains."

The lady says, "HELLooooooo ... I've got Windows!"

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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 © 2004 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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