Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Another AKC dog owner survey

The American Kennel Club, desperate to boost their revenues, is considering starting a new club for mutts (possibly named the All American Dog Club), so they can collect registration fees from even more dog owners. The club would give members access to a website that would include "fun features" like forums, contests, games and advice (the kind of stuff that's already available all over the web) a free initial vet visit, and a free trial period of pet insurance (so they can then sell you some of that, too!). In addition, the AKC says members would be able to earn Canine Good Citizenship certificates (already available to all dogs, whether registered with the AKC or not) and compete in AKC Rally-O and Agility.

They are currently running a survey of pet owners to gauge support for their desperate venture. You can take the survey here. I took the survey and told them I don't want to join their club, thanks anyway, and that the AKC could disappear from the planet and dogs would be better off. It was interesting to note that in the little space where they ask you to explain why you chose a mixed-breed dog, they only give you space to write a very short sentence, so no long rants about what genetic nighmares many pure breeds have become thanks to rampant inbreeding (to "better" the breed!) and the AKC's closed-registry policies that have reduced gene pools to shallow puddles. Also, on one mandatory question about how I think their new mutt club would benefit me, they didn't include a "none of the above" answer, so I was forced to lie and claim some benefit just to continue the survey. Great way to hear no evil, AKC!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Flyball Weekend

Lucy and I played flyball this weekend, running on a veterans team. (It was called the "Geritol Jumpers," not to be confused with the "Galloping Geezers," our other veterans team. I actually did get them confused a few times because they both start with "G".) We didn't even place, but I don't mind.

The real fun of the weekend was getting Pinky accustomed to the flyball environment. Indoor tournaments are very loud and chaotic, with tons of barking and frequent loud whistling by the judges. Some dogs have a hard time getting used to it, so I decided to start Pinky off early. I took her into the building before the racing started, so her first introduction to it was as a fairly normal place. She met a few other dogs and puppies and got oohed and awed over by people (she's a real charmer, helped by the fact that she's darn cute.) I did lots of rewarding attention-to-name exercises the whole time, lest she think any of the environment's charms were greater than mine.

Later we went in while racing was going on, and she was a bit nervous at first. I think the whistles really startled her. I didn't stay in long the first time because I didn't want to overwhelm her. The next time I found a spot near the wall where she could see the racing and the people and dogs walking by, but we also had room to play a little. I had brought her awesome fox toy, which she loves, hoping it would help keep her from paying too much attention to everything going on. It sort of worked--she was interested in the racing, and wanted to greet every one who went by, but I was usually able to get her playing with me again pretty quickly. I let her greet people who showed an interest in her and any dogs who were allowed to greet her, but focused her back on me right afterward with either the toy or the treats. By the end of the weekend she was completely relaxed and happy in the flyball environment. And she's one tired puppy right now.