25 July 2013

Yes, I Am a Breedist Snob

Instead of precluding this post with wordy explanations and heartwarming true stories of the amazing compassion I have witnessed in the past three years I have been involved in dog rescue, I am going to make a few strong statements and give my reasons after the fact.

#1 - The next dog I get will be from a breeder.

#2 - I will never own a mixed breed dog.

#3 - The only breed I will ever own is the German shorthaired pointer.

#4 - I will never own a German shorthaired pointer whose tail is not docked and it must be docked to the proper length per breed standard.

Anyone outraged or at least deeply surprised yet?

The four declarations above may seem more unexpected in light of my involvement in animal welfare and dog rescue.  Onto more bullet points!

- Yes, I volunteered two or three days a week in the isolation kennels (aka "sickbay") at my local animal control shelter for over a year.  I am very familiar with the shelter system and the mind-boggling amount of animals that end up in these institutions.  I know the staggering statistics of how many animals die in shelters each year.

- I began as a foster for an all-breed rescue and fostered 8 mutts (and one cross-breed, which is my GSP/Lab, Lola).  I was actively involved with them for over a year.

- I have run a mostly purebred dog rescue for the past 19 months.  I know there are plenty of purebred dogs in shelters, on Craigslist, or dumped.

- All three of my current dogs are rescues.  Two are purebred, one is a cross-breed (which means she is the result of two purebred parents).  They are all AWESOME.

So... why do I want a purebred docked tail German shorthaired pointer from a breeder as my next dog?

Well, firstly... my dogs are fairly young and barring a horrific accident it could be as long as ten years before I get another dog anyway.  Someday I'd love to downsize to only two dogs, but at this point it's not happening.  I love my three and they're not going anywhere.

I also want to get a bitch because I would like to participate in conformation (show) events.  Have I done this before?  Nope.  But I can learn, will learn, and even if we don't do well it will be an experience for us both.  Why a bitch?  Honestly I prefer smaller, daintier females and large, above standard moose-like, big ol' males.  The ideal combination of dogs for me would be a pretty, standard sized bitch from a breeder and a huge, masculine looking neutered male from a rescue.  I really dislike bitchy looking males.  (See?  Told you I was a snob.)

What do I have against mixed breed dogs?  Solely personal preference.  I don't care much for little dogs, fluffy dogs, scruffy dogs, smushed face dogs, dogs lacking high intelligence, or boring, couch potato dogs.  I'm glad other people do and that dogs with those attributes are able to find loving, permanent homes.  They deserve to be loved and well cared for, but it's just not going to be my home.  Sorry.

Why German shorthaired pointers?  The simplest explanation I have other than "I LOVE THEM SO MUCH" is that they possess absolutely every quality I could ever want in a dog.  They are extremely intelligent, adventurous, enthusiastic, friendly, outgoing, and very Type A.  Everything they do, they do with a bold intensity and combine that with an affectionate, sweet, cuddly nature.  Yes, they are lap dogs!  They are regal and beautiful dogs, but are also goofy and totally hilarious.  GSPs are without question high maintenance with regards to physical athleticism and mental acuity.  They are a lot of work, but if you love the breed this is a worthwhile, fun interaction with a dog who is expertly tuned into you.  GSPs are not for everyone and while most people have certain expectations from their dogs they are a breed that has high expectations of their owners as well.

You may be thinking, "well, okay... but you own an English pointer and clearly love him!"  Yes, I adore Foxtrot.  He's one interesting dog start to finish.  But he's although he is the second Elhew I've has the pleasure of owning, he is also my last English pointer, Elhew or otherwise.  (I can already hear a friend of mine bursting into tears of denial...)  Why?  To me they are a sunnier, happier, and less intense cousin of the GSP.

What's so bad about that?  Nothing.  Okay... not "nothing."  This brings us to point #4.  Two words:  full tails.  I could easily write a lengthy post on this topic alone.  Suffice it to say that once you get whacked with one fifty times a day they tend lose their charm.  I still consider them to be one of the best and most amazing breeds out there, but they just aren't the perfect fit for me.

Which brings us to my final point: while I do not approve of docking dogs' tails for cosmetic purposes such as merely meeting breed standard even though the dog is no longer used for it's original purpose or job, I absolutely support docking the tails of breeds who are still regularly used to hunt, herd, and otherwise fulfill the job they were bred to do.  I fully admit that finding full tails annoying is a totally arbitrary position on my part; however, while I do not and will probably never hunt, I do plan on participating in AKC Hunt Tests and possibly Field Trials with my future dogs.  Even with my current dogs, I would love to (and plan to) do this with Foxtrot and Gatsby once I am able to put a lot more work into training them.  Although I do not have their papers, I can still get a Purebred Alternate Listing (PAL#) from the AKC which allows them to compete in companion and performance events such as obedience, hunt tests, rally, tracking, agility, etc.

In a nutshell I started out immersed in all-breed dog rescue with only rescue dogs and along the way became a enthusiastic purebred aficionado whose next dog will be a puppy from a reputable breeder.

So there you have it!

23 July 2013

Morning Rituals

Summertime in the Sonoran Desert for a lot of people means getting up at the crack of dawn (or earlier).  We've been having a remarkably cool summer thus far (knock on wood), so I've usually been getting up around 5am.  The past two summers I've gotten out of bed around 4am to get as much work done as possible before the heat turns on full blast.

Like most people my mornings follow a pretty predictable pattern.  Fox jumps into bed to cuddle, whine, and roll upside down.  Gats runs outside to find doves (and dig holes).  Lola starts dancing around demanding breakfast.  I haul myself out of bed, take my mood stabilizer and allergy pills.  Put the kettle on and feed the dogs their breakfast.  Give Lola her morning dose of Benadryl; if her allergies are flared up she'll get prednisone and cortisone anti-itch cream wherever she has been scratching (lately it's been her armpits).  Sweep the living room and kitchen.  Go outside and fill in Gatsby's recently dug holes, if there are any.  Make coffee or tea, then sit on my back steps relishing to cool air and early morning quiet.  Watch Gatsby run around like a maniac playing with his rope or empty laundry detergent jug (his two favourite toys).  Meditate (while still on the back steps).  Take Lola & Gatsby for a run, if I feel like it.  Make myself breakfast.  Depending on the time I may read a bit before checking the news (BBC, NY Times, and Al Jazeera English).  I then groan, sigh dramatically, and check my email.  Sometimes check Facebook (although I've been mostly avoiding that lately; it's too stressful).  Then dig into whatever I have on my To Do list for that day (sending out resumes, returning emails/phone calls (ugh), working on whatever projects I have going on, working on blog posts whether I actually finish them or not, housework/yard work, etc.).

My morning in photos:

 *I don't actually eat three breakfasts; these are just examples of typical breakfast meals.

19 July 2013

Meet My Dogs!

I've had a few new readers express interest in my dogs' backgrounds, how I got them, etc.

Ask and you shall receive!  (At least in this instance; clearly this does not always apply.)

Because my dogs are such a integral part of my life and are basically my surrogate children, I have given them their own biographical page here on the blog.

You can check out their page here: http://www.garnetscarabin.com/p/about-my-dogs.html

Don't forget to stay tuned for future updates detailing their nutty escapades!

Gatsby, enjoying a green smoothie from Whole Foods.

17 July 2013

First Page of a New Chapter

Several life changes have been brewing for a while now; like most changes they don't transpire overnight but unfold at whichever speed they do.

It goes without saying that I love animals, dogs in particular, and German shorthaired pointers most of all, I have been thinking of ways to expand my participation in the field of animal welfare.  Honestly, I don't want to run a dog rescue forever just like I didn't want to volunteer in the isolation kennels (aka, "sick bay") at my county shelter forever.  The long term high stress, extremes of high and low, and risk of burn out are enormous.

Tonight I sent an email to the Pet VIP therapy dog coordinator at the Southern Arizona Humane Society; my intention is to train Gatsby as a therapy dog and once we are certified to visit the residents of the local veteran's hospital.  Perhaps there are more significant ways to thank them for their service and sacrifices, but this is one way that I am able to show my gratitude and hopefully brighten their day.  Who wouldn't want to see a big, ol' hunting dog with a sweet, crooked grin?

As for my other ideas, aspirations, and daydreams... those will have to wait another day to find expression.
Future therapy dog?

10 July 2013

Ebb and Flow - Living with Bipolar Disorder

I find it incredibly amusing that I just "Liked" the Bipolar Disorder disease definition page on Facebook.  Yes, I already posted a status update referencing the act on Facebook this morning.  This post is a continuation of a topic that cannot be fully expressed in three sentences.

Do I really "Like" having Bipolar Disorder?

My answer may surprise you.

Overall, yes.  If I could wake up tomorrow and choose whether or not to have Bipolar Disorder I would choose to keep my chronic illness.

That may sound "crazy," (haha!) but although it has made my life extremely challenging and often so overwhelming I can barely function, I don't think I would be "myself" without it.  Yes, I'd love to do away with some of the more severe symptoms but not all of them are negative or debilitating.

I do associate my level of intelligence and creativity as being symptomatic of the disease (science tends to support this, as well).  My brain processes and cross-references new information rapidly; this also manifests in rapid speech which often gets on the nerves of those around me (sorry about that).  Sure, I also have had insomnia for over 15 years, chronic fatigue that accompanies depression, and the tendency to get irritated with a quickness (however, I also get over it and let it go of it just as speedily).  Some days I can't pry myself out of bed and the very thought of having to talk to people in person, over the phone or text message, via email or Facebook causes almost paralyzing anxiety.

I've also avoided entering into serious relationships due to bad experiences such as being dumped as soon as I told my significant other that I have this disease because of "what might happen" or "what I might do" in the future.  Being summarily discarded for such an excuse is discouraging no matter how unfounded it is.  I've also been dumped or had people lose interest as soon as they discover that I'm bisexual as if that means I am incapable of monogamy or faithfulness... which couldn't be further from the truth.  I am attracted to both men and women, but I don't require one of each as a life partner to have a happy, fulfilling life.  Yes folks, I'm old-fashioned, monogamous, want to get married, and have children.  This is probably not very surprising to anyone who knows me well.

(I do think it's an interesting fact that I am bipolar, bisexual, and ambidextrous.  Does that mean something?  Who knows.  It's still amusing to ponder, though.)

Since I have talked about this as much as I feel like doing today, I would like to conclude with recommending the video below.  If you haven't seen this interview with Stephen Fry talking about his *Bipolar Disorder, please take a few minutes to check it out.  It is one of the best first-hand explanations I have come across that tries to express to people who do not have the illness what it actually feels like.

*Note: Bipolar Disorder and Manic Depression are the same thing.

07 July 2013

A Few Of My Favourite Things

Root Vegetables
Left to Right: carrots, parsnips, yams, & red potatoes.

My dog Foxtrot, in the Sun

Vintage Pyrex

Nancy Drew

My favourite: British Invasion Duchess of Pearl Princess Grey black tea

Tin Mugs (and Homemade Smoothies)

Homemade (although not by me) Walnut Baklava

Best.Baklava.Ever at Zayna's Mediterranean.

01 July 2013

Daily Gratitude - Monday Music Edition

I am once again reviving my Daily Gratitude posts.  It is so beneficial for each of us to take a moment each day to stop, reflect, and recognize how much we have to be thankful for and happy about.

Today (and probably on other occasions) I am sharing with you music of unparalleled beauty that has deeply inspired me recently.  I hope you enjoy this departure from my usual lists.

"Ora" by Ludovico Einaudi


"Letting Go" by Isaac Shepard


"Racing Against the Sunset" by Philip Wesley


"Der Holle Rache" (Queen of the Night) by Mozart,
from the 1969 production of "The Magic Flute,"
sung by the incomparably talented coloratura soprano Lucia Popp 


"Solveig's Song" by Edvard Grieg (music) and Henrik Ibsen (lyrics),
from the 1982 production of "Peer Gynt,"
once again sung by Lucia Popp