Monday, March 30, 2015

Lickety Split Spring 2015

It's shocking I know, but we actually went to an agility trial!  This weekend it was back to Oklahoma where we always have a good time with the group out there.  Once again we went with no training since well, summer?  

All things considered though they did pretty well.  Saturday they were both 3/5. Legend got 2 regular and a weavers and Lyric got a jumpers, a regular and a tunnelers.  Interestingly Legend NQ'd both jumpers runs, which she almost never does, but the rustiness has to show up somewhere I guess.  

Sunday was less productive.  Legend only got 1/5, but it was a Chances Q.  And a pretty tough course at that.  She actually ran both Chances courses correctly but missed her contact on the A-frame.  That IS something we need to work on before the next trial.  Anyway she is now 6 chances Qs from NATCH 2 and also knocked out some of what she needs to be officially qualified for champs. Getting the two Touch N Go Qs will be the tough part, but in all likelihood we can go without them so I'm not going to sweat it.  Lyric got 1/2 on Sunday picking up another regular.  Her weaving was hit and miss, but it always is.  So nothing lost, nothing gained I guess. 

Next month it's off to Texas for a spring trial on grass.  Should be fun.  And now, a ribbon pic just for fun.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fifty Shades Darker

Ringling Brothers is eliminating elephants from their circus acts, essentially due to public complaints and concerns about the elephants welfare.  I don't know if this is better for the elephants or not.  I do know that I have a vet school classmate who was a traveling circus vet that attended to and loved the elephants.  She says they were healthy and thriving in their environment and very much enjoyed her job, which she no longer has because of this change.

I don't have a strong opinion on circus elephants one way or the other.  The concerning part about this issue is that people can google a few inflammatory videos, hunt up some disgruntled former employees and start a movement to eliminate an institution whether they really know the truth or not.  They simply gather a following of emotionally charged supporters, start a few websites and the next thing you know, no elephants.  The problem is, what's to stop people from doing this other places?  And I'm certainly not saying I am the most informed on this or any other issue, but I do know that you can't believe everything you see on the internet, and that there is often more to any story than someone wants you to know.

You can google circus/zoo/farm/etc animal abuse/mistreatment and find flaws in any industry.  I absolutely don't believe any group or place is perfect and there are some things that I believe could be changed and things I don't believe in.  For example, I don't eat veal because I don't believe in how they are raised.  I don't crop ears in dogs because I think it's an unnecessary cosmetic surgery.   But because we believe or don't believe in something doesn't necessarily make it right or wrong.  Everyone has a different definition of right and wrong on these issues.  And while some are more universally accepted as right or wrong, it still remains largely public and personal opinion, which is subject to change over time.

But simply because you personally don't believe in something does not make it ok for you to vilify everyone who does and start a movement to end an industry with no regard for the consequences.  I personally do not hunt.  I don't see the fun or the sport of it.  I see enough death at work.  But I am an adult and  I understand the need for it.  I understand what would happen to all the deer if hunting didn't exist and I don't vilify those that do or accuse them of not loving animals.  I understand that people choose not to eat meat or dairy, or whatever.  But going on facebook crusades posting anti-animal agriculture videos and accusing everyone who eats meat of not loving animals is ludicrous.  Think about the consequences if these vegan crusaders were successful.  Let's say everyone stopped eating meat tomorrow.  Some farm animals would continue to be kept or raised as pets and show animals.  But only a few.  The remainder would live out their lives and die of old age, disease, or euthanasia.  This may or may not be more pleasant than current slaughter procedures.

In fact if we are going to talk about neglect, abuse or mistreatment of animals in specific settings, it is probably most common in pets.  Pets are easy to get (see previous post) and there are very few requirements for legally keeping your pet. I see animals every day that suffer from chronically painful or uncomfortable conditions, animals with preventable diseases, animals that live lonely lives in the back yard or on a chain, or suffer for months before being brought in for euthanasia.  And these are just the animals that make it to the clinic.  There are likely far more out there that go without adequate food, water, and medical care, not to mention those that are actually physically abused.  But should we try to eliminate all pet ownership because of a few bad apples just as we eliminate circus elephants because of a few videos?  Not all owners/zoos/circuses/etc are created equal, and treating them as such is not fair to anyone.

People like this need to be careful of the trend they are setting.  Depending on their involvement with animals they could be the next target of one these groups.  They may come after show horses, race horses, working dogs, barn cats or any other animal used for work, entertainment or sport.  They may even come after pets. There is an endless number of animal welfare topics that can be debated over and over again.  Very few are black and white.  Some are more black and white than others.  Some have fewer shades of grey than others.  All are subject to opinion but very few are subject to laws.  The best that we can do is keep an open mind, gather all the facts, form an educated opinion and respect the opinion of others.  Most often, this is easier said than done.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

No this isn't about the book or the movie.  But I probably got your attention.  This is actually about animals, in a more appropriate way.

There is a movement in many cities to become "no-kill" these days.  This sounds like a great idea.  It's great for PR and probably even better for fundraising.  No one likes to give money to the place killing kittens after all.  But those of us working in the trenches, who see the truth about pet ownership and overpopulation see the other side.  This is not always a great idea.  It would be nice if it were, but it's not.

Let's face the facts.  There are far more pets in this country than there are homes.  That should go without saying right?  I mean if that were not not the case then this wouldn't even be an issue.  And there are certainly more pets than there are good homes, or really even mediocre homes.  So now look at what happens when we start promoting no-kill.  Dogs and cats end up going to less than desirable homes so that shelters and and cities can proudly boast about their decrease in euthanasias and high adoption rates.

Our local humane society has recently reduced its screening process to merely making sure that the adopter's current pets are up to date on a rabies vaccine.  In our county that means they have seen the vet at least one time in the last two years.  And that could have been at a local Rabies clinic where there was not an exam given. It doesn't account for other appropriate vaccinations, parasite prevention, overall wellness of the pet or give any consideration to  what kind of lifestyle the pet will have.  In other words, the animal in question could end up living on a chain tied to a tree with a dirty water bowl, covered in fleas for the rest of his life.  Is that better than euthanasia?  Is that worth being able to promote increased adoption rates?  What about all the people that let their dog run loose, abandon or dump it?  These dogs just end up in the shelter to go through the cycle again.

There are numerous other programs and specials that go on in shelters around the county that also put less than desirable people on the fast track to pet ownership.  Programs like $1 cat adoptions, two for the price of one, and 1/2 price adoptions of large dogs.  If a person can't or won't pay a reasonable full price adoption fee, what makes us think they will be willing to take adequate care of a pet that may live 10-15 years?

That's not to say that there aren't good adopters and good families.  But if we no longer select for them then are we really doing the homeless pets any favors?  We like to believe that owning a pet is a privilege, and not a right.  But given how easy it is for a person to obtain a pet, with many available for free or cheap, and the very low standards required for keeping a pet, I don't really know how true that can be.  

And it's not always rosy for the pets in the shelter either.  There is the obvious problem of pets being adopted out to lower quality homes, but what about the less adoptable or even unadoptable pets that remain in the shelter?  No-kill shelters have an admirable goal and their hearts are in the right place.  But some are very extreme in their "must save them all" agenda and quite frankly, not all pets are adoptable.  It's not always the pet's fault.  In fact, often times it's the fault of the irresponsible owner who brought them in, abandoned them or in somehow parted ways with them.  But the fact still remains that there are these problem animals.  It could be a stray cat so feral it can't be handled or hides all the time.  A dog that is aggressive towards people or other animals.  These pets are a liability if they are adopted out.  But commonly, they are not adopted out and live year after year in a shelter, confined to a run or cage with the only human contact being that of their caretakers, whom they may be fearful or or aggressive too.  This isn't a fair life for this animal.  To me, there are worse fates than a humane euthanasia.  And these animals are taking up cage space for friendly, healthy pets that could easily be adopted.  Hopefully to good homes that keep them healthy and friendly.

There is not an easy answer to this dilemma.  At what point to do we consider shelter life or home life better or worse than euthanasia?  How do we determine which animals are fit for adoption?  Everyone has a different standard, different opinion on quality of life and suitability of ownership.  For our border collie rescue, we don't take in dangerous dogs.  And we have very high requirements of our adopters.  But that doesn't necessarily make us right and others wrong.  It just means there is no universal line to determine what right and wrong, good or bad, adoptable or unadoptable really are.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A home at last

I'm pleased to report that after nine long months, SHEA HAS BEEN ADOPTED!  Her new mom and dad picked her up yesterday and were very excited to meet her.  She will have other dog siblings and get a chance to try out agility and maybe some other dog sports.  

In other news, we are adjusting to being back from vacation.  I've picked up my running again and we have a half marathon coming up next month.  Luckily the weather is starting to cooperate a little, after arriving home to cold and snow things are much improved and today it was 75. 

I keep thinking I'll back off my work schedule a little but my 4 regular places continue to stay busy and need extra help so I end up working 5 days most weeks.  But luckily several of those are partial or half days so it's not too bad.  And with taxes, vacation, and medical bills all due it works out ok!

Today I made the last payment on the small of my two student loans!  The other should be paid off by the end of the year. Yay! Finally.

Legend had a Nosework trial in May and hopefully one in June.  Maybe we can start earning some titles.  But either way we continue to enjoy class and training.  

I think that's about it for now!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bora Bora

Bora Bora has been called the most beautiful island on earth.  And that's not an unreasonable statement.  It's hard to not take non-stop pictures.  Every time I looked up from my beach chair I could hardly believe the view was real.  The blue colors of the lagoon are amazing and change not only with the varying water depths but with the amount and angle of  sunlight and the shadows of the clouds.  You can actually sit and watch it change sometimes.  It's truly surreal.

Views from our beach bungalow

One of many lovely sunsets at Matira Beach-just across the street from our resort.  The water here is extra quiet and smooth, you can walk out forever.
 Daytime at Matira Beach

  A few views from  our walk back from lunch at Bloody Mary's

 More from our bungalow.  You can see two of the other islands in the distance.

 This is the view from the end of the longer row of overwater bungalows.

Another resort on a private island.

Our resort

 Doing some paddle boarding

 View along the beach at the resort
 Shadows on Matira Beach
 Overwater bungalow with the peak of the island in the background
 Watching the sunrise from our bungalow

 Another sunset at Matira Beach

 Rain clouds rolling in.  It rained some almost every day-but only a few minutes at a time, then it would get sunny again.

 Natural colors of the lagoon-taken from from a scenic overlook on one of the motu we stopped at during a tour.

 Birds wanting to get in on the shark feeding.

 Another resort
 Our bungalow
 Rainbow over Matira beach

Walkway at the resort

 Yet another sunset