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Volume 1 • Number 3

Summer 2012

Planning for the Future: SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare

The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare will provide the level of high quality animal care that our community deserves and requires.



Adoption rooms and habitats will promote behavioral health and socialization

High volume, low cost Spay & Neuter Clinic with transport service for clients up to 45 miles away

Eliminates noise, odors, overcrowding, congestion and the spread of contagious diseases among the animals

Expansive educational services to the public at large, including our programs in area schools

Education on pet care, pet therapy and obedience training

*NOW OPEN* Public two-acre Dog Park with Splash pool

A welcoming atmosphere with adequate space for adoption activities such as family discussion, interacting with the animal, and having the prospective pet meet with existing family pets


Enhanced adoption services which are aimed at achieving permanent placements, including behavior assessment, pre-adoption education and post-adoption support

Naming opportunities are available from $125 and up. To request a brochure, call (803) 648-6863 or visit us online at




The Dog & Hound

Summer 2012

Table of Contents


What Kind of Dog is That: say what

Dog News: around the town



Jack Russells: breed spotlight


Reading to Rover: school dogs


Walking with Dogs: places to go


Classified Ads: stuff you need


Calendar of Events: things to do


Saying Goodbye at home

Summer 2012

The Dog & Hound


Summer 2012

P.O. Box 332 • Montmorenci, SC 29839-0332 • 803.643.9960 • •

Time Dated Material • Periodicals • Volume 1 • Number 3

The Dog and Hound EDITOR & PUBLISHER Pam Gleason ART DIRECTOR Gary Knoll ASSOCIATE EDITOR Jean Berko Gleason

elcome to the summer issue of The Dog W & Hound, the third edition of our new quarterly magazine about dogs and dog people

in Aiken, South Carolina and beyond. We think we have another great issue for you, and we hope you will enjoy reading it. Our featured breed this time is the Jack Russell Terrier. These little dogs are favorites among horse people, which is what first brought them to our attention. You often see them at horse shows, or following their owners around the farm. Outside of the horse world, they also compete in various different kinds of hunts and hunting trials, and they make alert and attentive pets. We had a great time with them, and loved shooting our cover. If you could harness the energy of all the world’s Jack Russells, you could probably do away with the need for fossil fuels. Read more about the dogs on page 12. If you can think of a way to convert JRT energy to electricity, let us know. We’ll partner with you in the venture. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from readers about our first two issues. One thing that several people have asked us is “When are you going to do a breed feature on South Carolina mutts?” Well, we don’t have a mixed-breed feature in our plans yet, though we do agree that dogs without pedigrees can be fantastic. Of course, when you have a dog of uncertain parentage, everyone always wants to know what breed it is. This is why at-home dog DNA tests have become so popular. These tests say they will tell you what breeds are in your dog’s background. We had heard about them, and we were curious, so decided to test them out on three of our Heinz 57 pups. Read our article about the tests –what they can and can’t do, and how they do it – on page 6. Pictures of our dogs and their DNA results start on page 7.

There’s a lot going on in Aiken’s dog world. One thing that a number of people here are getting interested in is the world of therapy dogs. Therapy dogs are used in a variety of settings to make people feel more comfortable and to relieve stress. Although these dogs are certified by various organizations and have to be well behaved, they are not service dogs, which require much more advanced training. This means that the average people-loving dog has the potential to become one rather easily. Therapy dogs in Aiken have been making their mark on at least two elementary schools, where they are being used in an innovative program called Reading to Rover. Read all about it on page 15. We also have an article about in-home euthanasia, a column about lessons you can learn from your dog, and, of course, dog news from around the area and the world. If you are looking for a canine event, check out our calendar on page 20. If you need anything for your dog, be sure to patronize our advertisers. Without them, we couldn’t bring you so many pictures and articles. Our next issue will be out in September. Our featured breed then will be the Boykin Spaniel, which is the state dog of South Carolina. Do you have a Boykin? We’d like to hear from you, so send us an e-mail message. So have fun with your dogs, enjoy the issue and have a great summer. We’ll see you in the fall.

LAYOUT & DESIGN Gary Knoll ADVERTISING 803.643.9960 PHOTOGRAPHERS Pam Gleason Gary Knoll Louisa Davidson

Going Out Of Town? Don’t miss future issues of The Dog and Hound. We will send you a one year subscription (4 issues) for $14.00. Just send us a check or credit card number & your mailing address: P.O. Box 332, Montmorenci, SC 29839 Or sign up on the web at

About the Cover

Our cover shows Jack Russell Terriers at play in Aiken. Read about the breed on page 12.

Photography by Gary Knoll

Pam Gleason Editor & Publisher

The Dog and Hound Policies: The opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers, editors, or the policies of The Aiken Horse, LLC. The Dog and Hound is owned by The Aiken Horse, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

All contents Copyright 2012 The Dog and Hound


The Dog & Hound

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

The Dog & Hound


What Kind of Dog is That? The Mixed Breed DNA Test

By Pam Gleason, Photography by Gary Knoll

“What kind of dog is that?”


f you have a mixed breed dog of uncertain parentage, you’ve probably answered that question more times than you can count. Sometimes you have a fairly good idea – you know the mother was a German Shepherd, but you are not sure about the father. Sometimes it’s anyone’s guess – could your dog be part Chow Chow, part Cocker Spaniel? Could it be an Australian Shepherd, crossed with a hound of some sort? A pit bull mix? Or maybe part Boxer or Bulldog? Consciously or unconsciously, many people with mixed breed dogs put a lot of stock in what they think their dog’s breed might be, even though they are often proud that their dog is a mutt. Knowing what breeds are in your dog might give you clues to interpreting his behavior, or anticipating medical issues he might have, or creating his diet and exercise program. Sometimes knowing the breed is a point of pride; other times a matter of curiosity. For the past six years or so, people wanting to know more about their best friend’s background have been able to explore the issue through commercially available DNA tests. These tests come in two varieties. There are some that are based on a blood test and administered by a veterinarian. Others are based on sample of cells swabbed from the inside of the dog’s cheek, which can be collected by the owner at home and sent to the lab for analysis. In theory, there should be no difference between the two methods: DNA is DNA, and it doesn’t matter whether it comes from a blood cell or a skin cell. However, it can sometimes be difficult to get enough skin cells to get a good DNA sample. If you don’t get enough cells, the results could be flawed, or it may be impossible to run the test at all. This is why a blood test has had a reputation of being more accurate than a swab test. The swab test, on the other hand, is more convenient, less expensive, less invasive and less stressful to the dog and its owner.

How It Works

In your high school biology class, you probably learned that every cell in the body contains DNA – genetic instructions for the creation and functioning of almost all living organisms. These unique instructions are a code made up of sequences of four different bases called by the letters A, T, G and C. All the variations of all the myriad organisms on earth can be traced back to different patterns in those four letters. Identifying exactly what physical characteristics come from changes in those patterns has been a major focus of genomic research ever since DNA was first described almost 60 years ago. In the past decade, researchers have “sequenced” the DNA of many different species of animal, meaning that they have created complete maps showing each letter of the animal’s DNA code. By comparing the DNA of different species, or of individuals in the same species, researchers can then begin to discover what parts of the DNA provide instructions for which physical differences. They can also use DNA analysis to identify sequences that lead to disease, such as inherited developmental disorders, or a predisposition to cancer. The complete dog genome was officially sequenced and published in 2005, as described in the journal Nature in December of that year. Since that time, many researchers have focused on canine DNA, which is a particularly fertile ground for study, partly because tiny changes in a dog’s DNA can result in huge changes in the way the dog grows and develops. As an example, the four-pound Chihuahua and the 120-pound Great Dane are still the same species, and could even interbreed - their DNA differs by less than .15%. By comparing and contrasting the DNA of dogs with a prominent trait, such as the short legs of a Dachshund or a Bassett Hound, or the flattened face of a Bulldog, researchers have been able to find the specific genetic sequences that give rise to that trait. Because dogs suffer from many of the same diseases as humans (cancer, epilepsy, diabetes), research conducted on the canine genome may eventually have applications in human health and medicine. The first dog to have her DNA sequenced was a Boxer named Tasha,


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whose DNA included 2.4 billion letters. Dogs from other breeds followed, and researchers soon began to identify which parts of canine DNA coded for various breed differences. Taking this research further, a couple of companies began to analyze large populations of dogs from different breeds, identifying markers for each in specific parts of the DNA. These markers were stored in computer databases to establish a typical genetic profile of each breed. The commercially available DNA tests bring all of that science and technology home to the dog owner at a very reasonable price – about $60 to $70 for the in-home test. You collect a cell sample from your dog and send it to the company. The company then amplifies it (makes copies of it so that there is a larger sample) and runs it through laboratory equipment that identifies 400 or so locations where there are breed-specific markers. Once the markers have been isolated, they are put through a software program that compares them against markers in the company’s breed database. When the markers match a particular breed, the dog can be assumed to be descended from that breed. A partial match might indicate that one of the dog’s parents descended from the breed in question. The program comes up with a list of which breed markers it has identified in various percentages. Depending on which company you go with, your results will consist of a certificate that lists the main breeds in your dog, or a genealogical chart that shows them. There are often traces of a breed or two that seem to be present, but that aren’t at a sufficiently high level to be noted in the results. One company (Wisdom Panel) lists these extra breeds in your documentation. Another company (Canine Heritage) will tell you about these trace breeds if you call their customer service line.

Strengths and Limitations

In medicine and in the courtroom, DNA has become the ultimate authority on questions that range from “will I get cancer?” to “who is the father?” or “who is the murderer?” When it comes to determining dog breeds, DNA has tended to have a somewhat less stellar reputation. However, this may be because people expect the tests to do the impossible, because they misunderstand what they can and cannot do, or because earlier generations of the tests could identify very few breeds and sometimes came up with illogical results. There are two main limitations to DNA breed tests. The first is the breed database itself. Although both major companies that market the tests have done extensive analyses of dog populations from various breeds, those populations do not necessarily include all varieties of each breed. As an example, the Canine Heritage Test, created by Scidera, developed its database by analyzing about 60,000 dogs registered by the American Kennel Club. When given a blind sample of DNA from a purebred AKC registered dog, their test can tell you the breed of that dog very accurately. However, there are some breeds of dog,

Summer 2012

especially hunting dog, that have separate populations that are bred for performance rather than for show. These populations are often registered with the United Kennel Club or the Field Dog Studbook rather than the AKC and may have developed slightly different DNA patterns. This means that some of the purebred working lines of common hunting dogs might be misidentified by the tests – DNA samples from purebreds of hunting lines were not included in the initial analysis from which the company established its DNA breed profile. Dogs of foreign parentage might also be misidentified. If a dog’s mix includes a breed that is not one that the test is designed to identify, this might also cause it to come up with “unexpected results.” In recent years, the tests have added many more breeds to their databases, which has cut down on the number of strange sounding reports, but has not eliminated them. The majority of today’s breeds were actually developed in the last 150 years, often by crossing two different types of dog. It is possible to get strange sounding results because the test is identifying markers from breeds far back in the dog’s lineage. There can also be cases of the test generating a breed as a closest fit when the dog’s actual breed mix lies outside the database. The second major limitation comes from the mixed breed dog itself. There are many mixes that don’t have any purebred dogs in their background at all. In this case, the test might give some clues as to the types of dog that may have contributed to the mix, but they can’t really tell you much more than that. This is not the fault of the test. After all, sometimes a mutt is just a mutt. Are these tests accurate? The closer your dog is to being a purebred, or a mix of two purebreds, the more accurate they are going to be. The makers of both tests caution that small changes in DNA can make big changes in appearance. Just because you don’t see the physical attributes of a breed identified in your dog’s DNA, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. “These tests are scientific,” says Eric Johnston, general manager of Scidera. “I would certainly trust them more than I would trust my opinion just looking at a dog.” Some of the difficulties in identifying mixed breed dogs by their appearance are highlighted on the Canine Heritage website, which shows two dogs, both of which are Labrador/Poodle mixes. One is a short-haired brown dog that looks like it could be part Dachshund, the other a long-haired white dog that looks a bit like a Schnauzer. Dogs can arrive at physical characteristics by various different routes, so if you really want to know about a dog’s heritage, trusting your eyes is probably not the best way to go. How easy is it to identify mixed breed dogs accurately by looking at them? It is much harder than most people think, and it is a question that can have serious implications. In shelters, for instance, a dog that is labeled a pit bull mix may be considered dangerous or unadoptable, and even young puppies might be summarily euthanized. A pit bull is a type, not a breed, but the two breeds most commonly defined as pit bulls are American Staffordshire Terriers or a Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Breed specific legislation in some cities and towns has called for pit bull bans. This can be bad news, not just for dogs that are pit bulls, but for mixed breeds that might look like them – a Labrador/Shar-Pei cross, for instance. Some advocates have started calling for DNA tests of dogs that have been labeled pit bulls. Although the home tests state that they are not to be used as legal evidence, they have occasionally been employed by dog owners to prove that their pets should not be thrown out of their apartment complexes or their cities. These dog owners have sometimes (not always) been successful.

Summer 2012

Testing the DNA Breed Test

We decided that the best way to assess canine DNA tests was to try them out. We selected the Canine Heritage Breed test and three of our own mixed breed dogs for the trial. The test kits are easy to use. They come with an envelope on which you record your name, your dog’s name and your email address. They also come with a cheek swab that looks like a tiny bottle brush. The instructions are to rub the swab briskly on the inside of the dog’s cheek in order to collect a sample of cheek cells. Then you put the swab in the envelope and drop it in the mail. Our older dog, Chase, was very good about the cheek swab, while the younger dogs, Ruby and Dora, were a little squirmy and difficult. It is important to get a good quantity of cells, but it isn’t easy to tell if you have, since they are not generally visible to the naked eye. If you manage to swirl the swab around the inside of the cheek for 20 to 30 seconds, you will probably get the job done. We sent in our samples and within two weeks, we had the results by email. These come in the form of a pdf certificate, which can include your dog’s picture. The certificate has three categories of breeds. “Primary” is for a breed that is dominant in a dog’s DNA, making up 50 percent or more of his heritage. “Secondary” is for breeds that are identifiable at a parent or a grandparent level and “In the Mix” is for breeds that are present further back in a dog’s ancestry. The test that we used said that it could identify up to 120 breeds. From what we heard from other customers, we knew that people tend to get results that fall into three general categories. The first category is results that make immediate sense and generally confirm what you already know about the dog. The second category is results that seem a little odd at first, but on further reflection are logical and explain behavioral or physical traits that were puzzling before. The third category is results that leave you scratching your head, or throwing your hands in the air and declaring them worthless – how could your dog possibly have the DNA of those breeds, he looks and acts nothing like them! With our three dogs, we got one result in each category.

Ruby: Logical Answers

We found Ruby at the flea market in Springfield, S.C. last August. She was a 4.2-pound, six week old yellow puppy that came out of a blue plastic storage bin. Her litter included three more yellow puppies, a white one, and three that were black with tan eyebrows and leg markings like a German Shepherd or a Doberman. The woman who gave her to us said that she did not know anything about the father, but that the mother was a Golden Retriever. I asked if the mother was a purebred, and the woman replied that she was a Golden Retriever mix. We had speculated about what other breeds were in Ruby. Doberman? Even when she was a tiny puppy she would growl at strange dogs and act fierce, and her sisters did have that Doberman coloring. Ridgeback? She has a distinct stripe of coarser hair along her back that stands up whenever she is aroused and her face looks a bit like a Ridgeback’s. In fact, we suspect that at least some of her siblings ended up at an Aiken rescue where they were adopted out as Ridgeback mixes. When we tested her, she was 10 months old and weighed 50 pounds. She has a feathered tail and hind legs like a Golden, and a distinct retriever smile.

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She has always been a smooth and natural swimmer. Ruby’s Canine Heritage test results had nothing listed as a primary breed, but in the secondary breed category, she had Golden Retriever. In the third category “in the mix” she had Irish Setter. I called Canine Heritage and talked to Eric Johnston. He said that the raw data indicated that Ruby was about 42 percent Golden Retriever, meaning that her mother could have been a purebred, or almost a purebred. There was also another breed just under the reporting threshold – Alaskan Malamute, which came in at about ten percent. That could explain the ridge of coarse hair, since Malamutes often have prominent and easily erected hackles. Since we already knew that Ruby’s mother was a Golden Retriever, I asked why we were getting so little information about her father. “Our reference population is purebred dogs,” he said. “If her father didn’t have a purebred in his heritage for generations, we might not be able to tell you much about him.” What about the Irish Setter listed as “in the mix?” “That’s in there. She certainly has some kind of bird dog in her background.” Maybe that would explain her obsession with chasing killdeer around the farm. And could she be part Ridgeback? “Yes, that’s plausible, too.” All in all, Ruby’s results were absolutely logical and exactly what you might expect.

Dora: Not What We Thought

Dora was a rescue from Greenville, S.C. Animal Care that we adopted on Leap Day this year. Her picture was on their pet rescue Facebook page, where she was described as an English Pointer mix. Purely on the basis of her photo, which only showed her face, many Facebook users were convinced that she was a purebred English Pointer. In person, while she definitely has a Pointer face, she is clearly a mix. When we got her, she weighed 26 pounds and was about 8 months old. She was ravenous. In two months, she got up to 40 pounds, most of it in her chest. She has liver-and-white Pointer coloring and a smooth, Pointer-like coat. But she is also stocky, round, and barrel-chested, with short legs, a tail with a fishhook curve at its end, and no interest


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whatsoever in finding birds. She likes to stand on her hind legs and jump, and will jump into your arms or onto your lap like a Jack Russell Terrier. When something frightens her or she is treeing something, she howls like a Beagle. When we read about the Mountain Feist, a smallto-medium sized dog derived from mostly terrier stock that is used for hunting small game in the mountains of North and South Carolina, we decided that was what she probably was, mixed with a bird dog. Dora’s DNA test said something different. Again, she had nothing listed as a primary breed. In the secondary category, she had Boxer and Labrador Retriever. In the “in the mix” category she had American Water Spaniel. There was no English Pointer, Beagle, or Jack Russell Terrier anywhere. Looking at the raw data, Eric Johnston assured me that there was some Boxer there – it was registering at about 20 percent. The Lab was there at about the same percentage. The American Water Spaniel he couldn’t really account for. According to the American Kennel Club, the American Water Spaniel is a rare breed developed for hunting in the Great Lakes region, mostly in Wisconsin, where it is the state dog. It seems a pretty odd thing to be showing up in the DNA of a mixed breed dog from a shelter in the mountains of South Carolina. There was one other breed coming in just below the reporting threshold that made more sense – a Boston Terrier. Her stockiness and her broad chest do make her seem like a dog with some “bully” blood, whether that is from a Boxer or a Boston Terrier lineage. But what about English Pointer? Was there really none of that at all? No Mountain Feist? Not necessarily, according to Eric Johnston. It could be that she does have some English Pointer, of the field hunting type, which might be reporting as field Lab. And Mountain Feist could also be an explanation for the Boston Terrier markers. Boston Terriers, after all, are a breed that was created in the 19th century by crossing a bulldog with an English White Terrier, a breed that is now extinct. The White English Terrier was also one of the breeds that formed the basis for the Jack Russell Terrier, and for some lines of Mountain Feist. With these explanations, the DNA report on Dora begins to make sense. The American Water Spaniel still looks like an anomaly, until you put it in perspective. That particular breed of dog was developed in Wisconsin in the mid-1800s, from retriever and spaniel lines, specifically to retrieve from boats. Not much later, another breed, the Boykin Spaniel, was created in South Carolina for the same purposes and from some of the same bloodlines. In fact, one of the progenitors of the Boykin, which is the state dog of South Carolina, was the American Water Spaniel. While the Wisconsin breed is included in the Canine Heritage database, the South Carolina breed is not. Since these two breeds have similar backgrounds, are bred for similar purposes and look very much alike, it would seem logical that DNA markers that indicate that a dog has some Boykin heritage might look very similar to markers that indicate an American Water Spaniel background. It took a day or so to digest all of this information, but pretty soon, it became a logical explanation for who and what Dora was. Now that we know about the Boxer and Boston Terrier in her heritage, we will not be too surprised if she gets even stockier than she is today.

Summer 2012

Chase: Seriously?

Chase, who is six years old, over two feet tall and weighs 70 pounds, came from the Aiken SPCA. When we got her she was about seven months old, and was at the shelter with her two similar sisters. The litter had been transferred in from the shelter in Augusta a month or so earlier. She is a black and white and brindle dog with short, soft (though not smooth) hair, and smallish floppy ears. When we got her, she was listed as an Australian Shepherd mix, possibly because of what her mother looked like. By the time she came home with us, she was long

Chase, a fuller picture emerges in which the breeds mentioned do start to make some sense. If the shelter in Augusta thought her mother was an Australian Shepherd mix, wouldn’t it make sense that she was actually part Chow and part Beagle, with a little terrier-type dog thrown in? It would be easy to see how these breeds could make a medium sized, multi-colored fluffy dog that could be mistaken for an Aussie mix. Then if her father were a large dog, part coonhound, part something else, that could account for her size, her long athletic stride and her love of squirrel hunting. I was still having difficulty seeing how Shar Pei could possibly fit into the picture.

and lean and didn’t look anything like an Aussie. Now that she is full grown, she looks like a coonhound. And she acts like one, too. There is nothing she likes better than chasing squirrels, and if you don’t see her for a while, it is probably because she is off somewhere, staring up at a tree, where there may or may not be something grey and furry staring back. Chase’s DNA test came back with what seemed, at first, to be highly unlikely results. There were no breeds listed as Primary or Secondary, but “in the mix” there were four. These were Norwich Terrier, Chow Chow, Beagle and Chinese Shar Pei. When Eric Johnston looked at the raw data, he told me that the strongest indication was for Chow Chow, which came in at close to 20 percent. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise statistically – according to the 2010 National Mutt Census (www. the Chow Chow is the most common breed found in the DNA of mixed breed dogs in Georgia. But Chase doesn’t look anything like a Chow. “And there is no hound in there at all?” I asked. “Well there is the Beagle,” Eric replied. Then he looked at the data again. “And just below the reporting threshold there is American English Coonhound. I’m surprised that the Chinese Shar Pei came out on the report and the Coonhound didn’t, because they are both at about the same strength.” Thinking about the results of this test and what we know about

“Chow Chow and Shar Pei share a lot of markers,” said Eric Johnston. “They are both primitive, Asian dogs, very old breeds.” This made me remember that the Carolina Dog, which is not included in the Canine Heritage Database, is also said to be a primitive, old breed. Could it be possible that the markers that are matching SharPei in Chase are actually indicating Carolina Dog? Or possibly some other type of country dog that has not been extensively altered through breeding for type? “Yes, that’s a possibility,” answered Eric. Although Chase’s report did seem unlikely at first and took some digesting, it too began to make sense with a little further reflection and a little more research into the modern breeds and their backgrounds. All in all, the DNA tests were both interesting and revealing, although they challenged some preconceived notions about these dogs in particular, and dog breeds in general. What can DNA tell you about your mixed breed dog? Sometimes it gives you clues about what your young dog will turn into. Sometimes it just tells you what you already know. Sometimes it brings up possibilities that you never thought of before. Does it really matter? The short answer is probably not. Whatever breeds are in his or her background, a mixed breed dog is an individual with his or her own traits and qualities. Knowing what the DNA tests say shouldn’t change anything, though it may give you some better answers when people ask “What kind of dog is that?”

Summer 2012

The Dog & Hound


The Aiken County Animal Shelter (which currently houses lost, stray and surrendered animals from Aiken and Edgefield Counties) and the Aiken SPCA (which is a private shelter that also carries out animal control for the city of Aiken) are both getting new facilities in the near future. In May of 2011, workers broke ground for the new SPCA building, the Albrecht Center

The new multi-million dollar Aiken SPCA building will also expand its capacity to shelter animals. In addition, it will have an education and training center, a retail shop, a medical center and special adoption areas where prospective pet parents will be able to get to know the animals. There will also be a vastly expanded veterinary clinic and spay and neuter facility with the capacity to perform up to 18,000 operations per year, which should dramatically reduce the number of unwanted animals in the area. At the current facility, the SPCA carries out 2,500 sterilization operations per year.

“It’s not easy to get a volunteer to make a 2,000 mile round trip journey to transport 20 or so animals. It’s time-consuming and expensive.” Although most of the functions of the SPCA will be moved to the new building as soon as it is ready, the old structure on Wire Road will still be involved in animal welfare. It may be used to house strays as they come in from Edgefield and Saluda counties. The old annex will probably become a boarding facility, and may be kept available for emergencies – as temporary housing for animals displaced in a hurricane on the coast, for instance. There will also be space to isolate and quarantine animals

for Animal Welfare. That shelter, located on Willow Run Road, is almost completed – it is being painted now, and the first animals will be moved there this summer. The new Aiken County shelter is still at least a year away. In 2011, the Aiken City Council committed $1.5 million from sales tax revenues to fund its construction, while Aiken Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS) raised an additional $100,000 to facilitate the project. This spring, Aiken County and FOTAS chose the architectural firm McMillan, Pazdan & Smith to design the new shelter, which will be built on county-owned land on the corner of Wire and May Royal roads, not far from the current facility. People involved with animal welfare in the Aiken area are excited about these new developments and hope that two new stateof-the-art facilities will make a significant difference for Aiken’s animals. Both current shelters are too small to serve Aiken’s dog and cat population. The current county shelter, for instance, was designed to house about 100 animals, and usually has around 200, with as many as 100 or more animals arriving each week. The result is a dishearteningly high euthanasia rate. The new facility will more than double the capacity, while dramatically improving sanitation, comfort, convenience and atmosphere.

“We’ll have a big grand opening on September 29,” says Gary Willoughby, who is the president and CEO of the SPCA. “We’ll be doing adoptions before then, but the 29th is when we’ll be opening up the doors to the public and inviting everyone to come see the place.” According to Willoughby, the SPCA has entered into an agreement to take in stray animals for Edgefield and Saluda Counties, which are now using the Aiken County Shelter. This will take some of the strain off the county shelter and help more adoptable animals find homes. Willoughby is also currently searching for rescue groups and shelters in the Northeast to enter into long-term partnerships. “At a lot of shelters in the Northeast, it’s very rare to get puppies,” he says. “Here in the South we are overflowing with them. If we find a Northern partner we can send the puppies to, that will help us a lot, especially in the summer, when it’s puppy season.” The SPCA has sent many animals out of state over the years, to places like the Northeast Animal Shelter, a nokill shelter and adoption center in Salem, Mass, that runs a program called “Saving pets across America.” If the SPCA can find a permanent partner to accept animals that cannot be placed locally, this will make transferring adoptable animals much easier. “Of course, transport is also an issue,” he says.

before they are shipped North for out-of-state adoptions. There may even be the possibility in the future to have a “doggy boot camp.” This would be a place where people could send their pets for boarding and training while they are off on vacation, to fix problems that they might have. “That way, when the people come home, they’ll come home to a better behaved pet, one that is less likely to end up in the shelter,” says Willoughby. Although most of the major fundraising for the new shelter has been completed, the SPCA is still looking for contributions at all levels to help pay for the project. There are even some naming opportunities available for those who would like to make a more significant contribution. These range from $125 to name a brick, to $400,000 to sponsor the spay and neuter clinic. For more information about how you can participate in the new SPCA, visit the website For more information on how you can help at the county shelter, visit the FOTAS website: Over the summer months, both shelters are always in need of temporary foster homes for dogs and cats on their way to rescue groups or adoption – there are, in particular, a lot of puppies and kittens that could use some temporary help. Check the websites for more information. Continued on Page 16

Dogs in the News By Pam Gleason

Shelter Projects Move Forward


The Dog & Hound

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

The Dog & Hound


Trump’s Descendants The Jack Russell Terrier

By Pam Gleason, Photography by Gary Knoll


hat is a Jack Russell Terrier? Active and intelligent, loyal and affectionate, Jack Russells are big dogs in small packages, most at home in the countryside and on the farm, and always happiest when treated as part of the family. They are a favorite of horse people and of outdoorsmen, and they make good family pets – as long as it is an active family prepared to cope with an intelligent dog. The adjectives often used to describe JRTs paint an accurate picture: clever, delightful, cute, cheerful, amusing, alert, quick, spirited, scrappy, spunky, fun, fantastic. There are many distinct types of Jack Russell, and several different registries for them in America. Some of these registries emphasize true hunting dogs; others are for dogs that are more specifically companion animals. The AKC recognizes two breeds of dog that most people would call a Jack Russell: one is the Parson Russell Terrier, which is a squarely built dog, 12-15 inches tall. The other is the Russell Terrier, which is 10-12 inches tall, with a proportionally longer back. Dogs that are registered with the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (which is not affiliated with the AKC) are strictly working hunting dogs with a wider range of acceptable sizes –10 to 15 inches at the withers.


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Smaller dogs, 8-12 inches tall, can be registered with different registries, such as the English Jack Russell Terrier Club Alliance, based in Louisiana. The shorter-legged, longer backed terriers are often called “shorties.” Whatever their variety, Jack Russells are predominantly white dogs, with tan, black or brown markings, usually on their heads and ears. Some Jacks are tri-colored. In any case, they should be at least 51% white – any less than that, and they are not eligible for most registries. Their coats must be weatherproof and come in three varieties, smooth, “broken” and rough. Broken coated dogs have mostly smooth coats, with longer hair on their faces and tails. Rough coated dogs have longer hair that should not be soft or woolly according to the breed standard – it needs to be harsh in order to protect the dog from the elements.

Jack Russell History

Jack Russell Terriers can be traced back to 19th century England and a famous foxhunting man of the cloth, the Reverend John Russell. Russell was born in Devon in 1795. He was educated at Oxford, where he took up foxhunting,

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and soon became interested in the breeds of dogs used for the sport. One of the main breeds was the Fox Terrier, whose job was to track the fox and then “bolt” it out of its den. During Russell’s final year at Oxford, he was struck by the unusual appearance and intelligence of the milkman’s dog, an English White Terrier with tan spots over her eyes, ears and at the base of her tail. The dog’s name was Trump. Russell purchased her with the aim of creating a new line of hunting dog. At that time, Fox Terriers were generally black and tan or reddish brown, and were sometimes mistaken for foxes and accidentally shot by their masters. Russell’s idea was to breed Trump to a Fox Terrier to produce a white Fox Terrier that could not be mistaken for its quarry.

who reportedly chased cats, refused to be house trained, chewed everything in sight and dug up his back yard, Moose came into his own when he went to Hollywood, where he won the role of Eddie on the situation comedy Frasier. At the height of his popularity, Moose received more fan mail than any other actor on the show, and he was even featured in the cover of Entertainment Weekly. After he retired in 2000, his passed his role down to his son, Enzo. More recently, Uggie, born in 2002, stole the Oscar winning movie The Artist (2011.) Uggie was also a difficult puppy who almost ended up at the pound. Instead, he was adopted by the animal trainer Omar von Muller, and went on to roles in such films as Water For Elephants and Mr. Fix-it. His performance in The Artist was so impressive there was even a grassroots campaign to consider him for a Best Supporting Actor award. This didn’t happen, but he did receive the 2011 Palm Dog Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The Palm Dog is an annual alternative award presented to the best canine actor of the year. The first one, given out in 2001, also went to a Jack Russell Terrier, Otis from the film The Anniversary Party.

There Are No Bad Dogs. . . .

After graduation, Russell was ordained as a minister and moved to Devonshire, where he became known as “The Sporting Parson.” He bred Trump to the finest Fox Terriers he could find, starting his own line of white-coated sporting dogs. Although Trump was the original white terrier that he introduced into his breeding program, she was not the last. After several generations of careful breeding, Russell, called “Jack” by his friends, had produced a superior working dog that became highly popular and soon displaced its black and tan predecessor. Aside from their white color, Russell’s terriers were also distinguished by their stamina, courage and tenacity. Parson Russell was one of the founding members of England’s Kennel Club in 1873, and was the author of the original breed standard of the Fox Terrier show dog in 1875. He did not, however, believe in showing his own dogs, which he considered hunting animals only. “The difference between my dogs and show dogs can be likened to the difference between wild and cultivated flowers,” he said. Parson Russell died in 1883, and unfortunately, most of his meticulous breeding records were lost just before his death. Dogs descended from his breeding program became known as Jack Russell or Parson Russell Terriers, and by the turn of the century, there was a Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club in England, which attempted to perpetuate the breed. Meanwhile, Jack Russells were brought to America, Australia and South Africa, where they were prized for their courage and hunting ability. After World War II, there was not much call for working fox terriers, and the numbers of Jack Russell Terriers went into a decline. The Parson Russell Terrier Club had folded just before the war, and there was no organization keeping track of bloodlines. Jack Russells in England and Ireland were often crossbred with other small dogs, including Welsh Corgis. In America they were crossed with other hunting dogs, and even bulldogs. This resulted in several different types of JRT, as well as some white terriers that were commonly referred to as JRTs, but which would not be accepted by any of today’s registries. Then, by the late 1960s, the Jack Russell’s popularity was once again on the rise, and breed clubs began to emerge in many places, including England and America. Although these breed clubs have different standards and different images of their ideal dog, all of them claim that their goal is to reproduce the kind of dog that made the Reverend John Russell famous in the 19th century. Today, Jack Russell Terriers are more popular and in demand than ever, not just because of their endearing qualities, but because some representatives of the breed have had starring roles in television shows and movies. One of these famous dog actors was Moose, who was born in 1990. A difficult puppy

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When dogs are movie stars, and especially if they are particularly charming movie stars, this often leads to a spike in the popularity of their breed. This is not always a good thing for many reasons, one of which is that people tend to believe that if they get a dog of that breed, their dog will behave like the one they saw on the silver screen. Jack Russells are wonderful canine actors because they are so intelligent and so highly trainable. However, just because they are trainable does not mean that they come trained, and if you don’t actively train your JRT, it is likely he will train you. Like any smart, energetic dog, a Jack needs both mental and physical stimulation, or he might get into trouble. “They need a job,” says Donna Fitzpatrick, who has been involved with the breed for almost half a century. “If you don’t give them a job or a focus, they will create their own.” Donna, in concert with other lovers of Jack Russells, says that they are wonderful dogs, but are not right for everyone, and are especially unsuited to people who do not have much time for them. “They think they are people,” she says. “They would be very upset with me if the heard me calling them dogs. They do demand a lot of attention.” “Jack Russell Terriers are first and foremost hunting dogs,” states the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America website. “The traits and skills that make them excellent hunting dogs are often interpreted as bad habits.” The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America goes out of its way to encourage people to do their research before getting a Jack, and to consider a different breed if it seems a Jack will not be right for them. Among the bad habits (hunting skills) JRTs are known for are: digging (good for getting a fox in its den), chasing and even killing cats (hunting) and barking (letting you know where the prey is.) They can also be destructive of property, aggressive with other dogs (particularly of the same sex) and have been known to be escape artists, able to climb fences and trees, or, more likely, to tunnel under the fence in their yard. Because JRTs can be difficult if they don’t have the proper environment and attention, an alarming number of them are given up to shelters and rescues, or returned to their breeders. The JRTCA website maintains a section called Bad Dog Talk which explains the “worst case scenario of owning a Jack Russell Terrier.” The point is to make sure that people know what they are getting into before they bring home a puppy that might not suit their family or their lifestyle.

Why a Jack?

If you do have the right environment and personality for the breed, there is no better dog, according to JRT lovers. Jack Russells from hunting bloodlines are unrivalled in their courage, tenacity and stamina, excelling at everything from hunting badgers to flyball, agility and police work. Those from companion lines are a great choice for families, and can be excellent with children. Some of them get along well with cats and other dogs. They are protective, excellent watchdogs and loyal, friendly companions, aside from being highly trainable and fun to be around. “They’re very active dogs. They want to go everywhere and do everything,” says Donna. “And then they have great senses of humor. They’re like little clowns in dog suits. They’re entertaining. Some of our biggest laughs over the last 40 years have come from things these dogs have done.”

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A Dog’s Place is in the Classroom Reading to Rover

By Pam Gleason, Photography by Gary Knoll

his year, Chukker Creek Elementary School went to the dogs. Several times a week, dogs and their owners visited the school, T where they met one-on-one with children in the lower grades. A child, a

dog and a handler then went to a private, comfortable room, where the child could practice reading aloud to the best, most accepting and nonjudgmental audience there is. A dog of course. The “Reading to Rover” program got started at Chukker Creek last fall with three dog-and-handler teams. By the end of the school year, there were nine teams, with one more in training that will be ready for the fall session. Chukker Creek is not the only elementary school in Aiken that uses therapy dogs in its reading instruction. There is also a program at East Aiken School of the Arts, which holds its sessions as part of its Quest Zone after-school child care program. At Chukker Creek, the sessions are held during the school day. “The goal is to establish a place where children can gain confidence in their reading abilities,” says Linda Kohn, who started the program at Chukker Creek and is its coordinator. Linda recently retired from teaching at the school, and participating in Reading to Rover is one way that she can continue to be involved, while also spending time with her dog, Drake. All the dogs that work at Reading to Rover are certified by Therapy Dogs Incorporated, a national organization with headquarters in Wyoming. Dogs of all breeds and sizes are eligible for certification (wolves and wolf hybrids are not, however.) They must be at least one year old, be good around other dogs and people, be well-mannered, obedient, friendly, healthy and clean. In order to be certified, dogs must pass a handling test and then have three successful supervised visits in the field. The dogs of Reading to Rover train with Lois Fair at Dog Days Workshop in Aiken every Friday at 8:30 a.m. According to Linda Kohn, children are chosen for the program by their teachers. They are not necessarily children with serious reading problems. More often, they are children who are reluctant readers, or who are shy and uncomfortable reading aloud, either in front of the class or alone. After 20-30 minute sessions in the Reading to Rover program, many of these children overcome their difficulties. Some of the improvement surely comes from the regular one-on-one attention they get from an adult. But some of it comes from the presence of a dog. “My student is a second grader,” says Jennifer Dimond, who pays a babysitter to look after her two young children so that she can come to Chukker Creek with her dog Kona. “Every time she comes to our session, I see her face light up when she sees Kona lying there on the ground, waiting for her arrival. I can see both of them have a connection.” Another volunteer, Yolanda Thomas, is thrilled to watch the interaction between the children and her dog, Tess. “There is something going on that is both academic and tactile that enhances the entire experience,” she says. “Tess clearly knows and likes seeing each of the children. Getting to lie down on the pillows next to the child and be petted during this process surely has to be some kind of dog heaven.” The volunteers generally bring their own reading material, although the school supplies some and the children may also bring their own favorite books. Some of the children sit on the floor with the dogs; some sit on chairs. Some of the dogs appear to be more involved in the session than others. Many of the students are careful to show the dog the pictures in their books, and many of the books themselves are about animals. Some of the students feel a responsibility to keep the dogs entertained. “After I told my sweet second grader that she was reading much better,

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she whispered to me that she had practiced so that she could read better to Annie,” says Biz Mann, who volunteers regularly with her Golden Retriever. “Of course this is exactly the point of the program – practice reading to improve.” And the children have improved, which delights volunteers, children, teachers, parents and principals. This improvement can be measured by comparing the evaluation sheets that the volunteers fill out after each session. The sheets ask the volunteer to rate how comfortable the child was reading to the dog, how fluently the child read and how well he or she understood the material. All of the children in the program demonstrated observably better reading skills at the end of the year than at the beginning. “East Aiken School of the Arts loves the Read to Rover program,” writes Mary Robinson, who is the principal. “Our struggling readers have gained confidence in reading and have made significant increases in their reading achievement. The owners of the dogs are mentors to the children, and the dogs are excellent listeners!” For the volunteers, there is a real sense of accomplishment in helping a child become a better reader. Many also feel an enhanced bond with their dogs. Some of them also use their sessions to educate the children about responsible dog ownership. “I have tried to let them know some of the things I do with Casey to teach her to be a good dog, in case the family gets a dog,” says Janet Richmond, another volunteer at Chukker Creek. “I have told them about obedience training and that she has been spayed. We end our session by having Casey do some tricks and the girls give her treats.” Many of the dogs that volunteer for Reading to Rover have other duties outside the classroom. Some of them visit the children’s hospital, or Charlie Norwood Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Augusta. A group of therapy dogs has recently started working at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, helping medical students decompress in the middle of their exam period. The use of therapy dogs is on the rise across the nation and around the world as people begin to recognize that contact with animals is good for people, especially for people in stressful situations. For the dogs in the reading program, any time they can spend with people, and especially with children, seems to make them happy. Do they like to be read to, and do they have any favorite stories? “Annie likes books with animals in them,” says Biz Mann with a laugh. “Of course!”

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Dogs in the News, from page 10

Aiken’s Hounds are Winners

Springtime is the end of the hunting season, which means that local foxhound packs are going into their quiet season. It also means that it is time for the annual spring foxhound shows. The keepers of Aiken’s packs are quite proud of their hounds, and for good reason. They certainly should be proud of their winnings at the Carolinas Hound Show, held at the Springdale Racecourse in Camden on May 11-12. Why Worry Hounds, Whiskey Road and Aiken Hounds all had many winners in the individual classes. Whiskey Road and Why

junior pack class. All three young people represented the Aiken Hounds. Meanwhile, Joseph Hardiman, who is the huntsman with Whiskey Road, won the Bywaters Huntsman’s trophy.

Dog Treat Danger

According to the FDA, there have now been over 1,000 cases of animals becoming critically ill after eating store-bought chicken jerky treats for dogs. Most of the complaints have been associated with a few brands that are packaged in the United States but made in China. The illnesses include vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure and even death. The most commonly identified brands associated with illness are Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch (both made by Nestle Purina) and Milo’s Kitchen, distributed by the Del Monte corporation. The first complaints about the treats came in 2007, when the FDA received 70 reports involving 95 dogs. In September of that year, the administration issued a “cautionary warning” to dog owners to watch their dogs for illness if they chose to feed them chicken jerky treats. A little over a year later, in December 2008, it issued a “Preliminary Animal Health Notification,” in which it cautioned consumers about a possible association between the treats and potentially fatal illness. Meanwhile, investigators tried to discover the cause of the problem, but found nothing.

in FDA labs as well as contract labs, and inspectors have been sent to the Chinese plants that make the treats. Meanwhile, there have been similar illnesses reported in Australia, where at least one firm has recalled their Chinese-made chicken jerky treats. So far, no cause for the illnesses has been found. Given the number of reports and the seriousness of the problems reported, many dog owners wonder why there has not been a recall. According to the FDA, since investigators have not actually found anything wrong with the treats, the agency is limited in what it can do. Although the companies can issue a voluntary recall if they so desire, the FDA is not authorized to order a recall based on complaints alone. The website for Waggin’ Train contains a Frequently Asked Questions section, in which it describes its Chicken Jerky Tenders as a “wholesome, healthy treat for your dog . . . made with premium chicken breast filets.” They are made in China “at facilities that are modeled after U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for quality and safety.” It goes on to emphasize that the FDA has not found anything wrong with its treats,

Katherine Gunter, Linda Knox McLean & Aiken Hounds Trailer

Worry had winners in the classes for English Foxhounds, with Why Worry Hounds Braveheart named champion dog and Why Worry Hounds Garter champion bitch. (Whiskey Road Foxhounds Gail was the reserve champion.) Why Worry Hounds Garter was the overall champion English Foxhound, while her kennelmate Braveheart was reserve. Why Worry and Whiskey Road owned the Crossbred division, winning 10 out of 11 classes. Whiskey Road Foxhounds Luther was the champion dog and reserve champion foxhound. Whiskey Road Lila was the champion bitch and reserve champion foxhound. In the Penn-Marydel division, Aiken Hounds Trailer topped the competition, winning three classes and being named champion dog. He was also named the champion Penn-Marydel Foxhound, and the grand champion foxhound of the show. Whiskey Road Lila was the reserve. Aiken’s handlers also fared well. In the junior divisions, Livi and Dora Johnson won the under 6 and the 7-to-12 year old class respectively, while Brooke Miller won the


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Photos (3) Louisa Davidson

Complaints about the treats tapered off for a while, but then came roaring back last fall. By November 2011, there were over 400 complaints. The FDA issued another warning to consumers and stepped up its investigations. These have included testing for bacteria, metals, pesticides, antibiotics, toxins, and other poisonous compounds, as well as excessive vitamin levels. Testing has been carried out

and that the FDA has also stated that the dogs that became ill may have been sickened by something else. Although both Nestle and Del Monte stand behind their chicken jerky and the Chinese plants that make them, consumers who know about the problem (and those whose dogs have been affected) are more skeptical about trusting Chinese pet food safety standards. Many people remember the wide scale pet food recall that began in March 2007, in which 5,300 different foods were recalled after thousand of animals were sickened or died. The affected pet foods all

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contained ingredients manufactured in China that had been contaminated with melamine, a compound that is used in industrial processes. Melamine has a high nitrogen content, and it was thought that the ingredients were intentionally contaminated in order to raise the recorded protein levels. Animals poisoned with melamine also suffered from kidney failure – there has been no suggestion, however, that melamine is responsible for the current problem. While the FDA searches for clues, the chicken jerky treats are still available on supermarket shelves – all three brands can be found in Aiken. The manufacturers may be right, of course: There may be nothing wrong with them and any association between illness and eating the treats might be completely coincidental. After all, millions of dogs are eating them without any problem. According to both Del Monte and Nestle, chicken jerky treats are made in China because the Chinese prefer to eat the chicken’s dark meat, meaning

that the white meat is inexpensive and readily available. The Milo’s Kitchen website, which says that they “make each treat with the love and care your dog deserves,” states that its chicken jerky treats are made in China, but that all of its other varieties are manufactured right here in the United States.

Click it or Ticket

Pretty much everyone knows that when you are driving in a car, wearing a seatbelt could save your life if you have an accident. Seatbelts themselves have been around for a long time, and became mandatory equipment on American cars in 1965. The first law stating that passengers need to be wearing seatbelts when driving in a car was enacted by New York in 1984. Today, every state except New

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Hampshire (the “Live free or die,” state) has a mandatory seatbelt law. This summer, New Jersey has been in the news for extending the “click-it-or-ticket” concept to dogs. New Jersey Statute 4:22:18 says that having unrestrained pets in the car is an act of animal cruelty. Drivers with unrestrained pets are subject to fines of $250 to $1,000 per offense (three unrestrained dogs in the back seat counts as three offenses) and even six months in jail. Oddly, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, the maximum fine for a person not wearing a seatbelt in New Jersey is $46, including court costs. Although some in the press are calling the New Jersey law a new one, it has actually been on the books since the 1990s. It is only now receiving attention because New Jersey is carrying out a campaign to encourage seatbelt use in the state. Proponents of pet restraint laws point out that the number one cause of vehicle crashes is drivers not paying attention to the road, which could happen if they are distracted by their unrestrained pet. Meanwhile, a new survey by the AAA auto club says 60% of drivers have been distracted by pets or other passengers while on the road, while 20% have taken their hands off the wheel to prevent a dog from climbing into the front seat. (The same survey also reveals that 3% of respondents admit to taking a photo of their dog with a cell phone while they were driving.) In a crash, an unrestrained pet becomes a projectile, potentially causing injury to himself and to others - the AAA says that a 10 pound dog in a 50 mph crash exerts 500 pounds of force on whatever it strikes. Pets that are unrestrained in an accident can also become loose, run away, or even prevent emergency response personnel from attending to human victims. Unrestrained pets in the front seat, or sitting on the driver’s lap, could be injured or killed if the airbag deploys. Although over 80% of drivers in the AAA survey acknowledge the danger of driving with a loose animal, only about 16% actually use a dog seatbelt, carrier or other restraint. Experts recommend that travelling dogs be kept in kennels (which must, or course, be properly secured) or harnessed and restrained by a seatbelt. There are a number of different models of dog seatbelts that are currently available for all sizes of dog, although only a few have been crash tested using authentic dog crash test dummies. The New Jersey law is in the news now, but it is not the only state that regulates where and how your pet can ride. In Hawaii, it is illegal to drive with your dog in your lap, and California and Oregon are considering passing similar statutes. There are also at least 25 states that require that dogs riding in the back of pick up trucks be tethered, and a handful that do not allow dogs to ride in the cargo bed at all. The

number of dogs that are lost, killed or injured when they fall out of pickups is quite high – some estimates say it is as many as 100,000 a year. South Carolina does not have any rules about dogs riding in the cargo area of a pickup. Of course, people can ride in the bed of a truck, too, as long as they are over the age of 15, or accompanied by a parent. How this law can logically coexist with one that requires people inside the cab to wear a seatbelt is not immediately obvious.

Dogs Care

Do dogs know when we are sad and try to comfort us? A new study published in the May 30 issue of the journal Animal Cognition says yes. The study was conducted by Dr. Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer from the University of London’s psychology department. They selected 18 dogs and their owners and carried out the experiment in the dogs’ homes. In it, Mayer entered the homes and then sat with the owner in the living room. There, the owner and Meyer would take turns talking, humming and crying for 20 seconds to see how the dogs reacted to them. According to Dr. Custance, the humming was introduced as an unusual sound, to see if the dogs might approach people simply out of curiosity when they heard something they were not used to. None of the dogs approached the person who was talking, while six came up to investigate the person who was humming. Fifteen of the 18 approached the person who was crying, the majority (13) with submissive body language, bowed head and tucked, wagging tails. The researchers concluded that the dogs were responding to the person’s perceived emotional state. “If the dogs’ approaches during the crying condition were motivated by self-oriented comfort-seeking, they would be more likely to approach their usual source of comfort, their owner, rather than the stranger. No such preference was found,” wrote Mayer. “The dogs approached whoever was crying regardless of their identity. Thus they were responding to the person’s emotion, not their own needs, which is suggestive of empathic-like comfortoffering behavior.” The paper goes on to say that the experimenters are not offering their findings as definitive proof that dogs have empathy for people who are sad. It could be that the dogs approach crying people because people pet them and respond with affection when they do. But the researchers say their results offer intriguing evidence that dogs do, indeed, feel our pain and want to help alleviate it. This should come as no surprise to dog owners – dogs, after all, are well known for their ability to offer comfort to their people. Sometimes what cutting edge science tells us is exactly what we already know.

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Walking with dogs in woods after rain. by Marti Healy

t rained yesterday, great dark sheets of rain. On gusty winds, the rain was swept into sudden rivers and hurled through trees and flung I against the ground faster than the earth could swallow. At times, the

storm tried to rest for a bit, but the thunder would growl it awake again. And so the rain washed us well and thoroughly, over and over, in rough, unrelenting waves. All in all, it was a rather wonderful rainstorm. The kind of storm that dogs seem to pace through with great anticipation, waiting edgily – and then scratch at the door to explore and reclaim the world outside in its wake. My mixed-breed canine best friend Sophie taught me the joys of afterstorm woods-walking when she was still quite young. But something about this particular storm heightened her joy even more than usual, and she called to me to match her mood. In the morning, after the storm had passed, we took to the woods. Freshness still dripped from limbs and leaves and made phantom footfalls behind us. Everything was clean and bright with sun sparkles and diamond-filled spider webs. The woods were sunrise cool and reawakening all around us. Upon entering the forest, Sophie’s paws barely touched the paths before her as she trotted faster than I could keep up. She had to circle back again and again to keep sight of me, encouraging me to follow her, this way and that. She seemed desperate to show me everything at once. She wanted me not to talk so that I could listen more deeply. With snorting breaths she seemed to be trying to teach me how to savor the sweet, musky scents as they drifted over and around us. I watched as she put her nose to the ground and then to the air. Her ears never rested, lifted and ready. Her eyes focused on faraway vistas, yet also caught nearby flicks of light no bigger than the wings of beetles. It made me wonder if a heavy rainstorm refreshes old scents for her, or if it washes them completely away leaving untouched, unclaimed landscape? Perhaps the ion-charged air intensifies smells – or perhaps it shifts the pitch of sounds. I tried to envision what new sights were revealed or sharpened after being rinsed clear of old dust and residue. We turned down a steep path. The ground reminded me of the Robert Frost verse: “Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift, and the hoofprints vanish away.” It was as if we were the first ever to walk here – as if we were leaving our footprints on the moon. At the bottom of the hill we rested for a bit, looking down into the


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small new rivulets that had formed just to the other side of the trail. Bits of old poems flashed up at me – some of the streams were like “chuckling rills,” others like “pools of peace.” But all of them were to be danced in with abandon by Sophie, followed by a good roll on their sandy banks. Her unabashed glee in such earthly pleasures never fails to make me laugh. As we turned to leave the morning’s woodland walk, my share in Sophie’s delight turned to pondering. Perhaps her joy-filled experience was less about the effects of the storm itself, and more about renewed attention and affection for something so well known and loved. This walk, after all, had taken place along her favorite trail in that particular part of the forest, one that she will choose every time we are near it. I have often wondered that she doesn’t get bored with it, questioned why she doesn’t prefer to seek out new sights, different scents, strange sounds, challenging experiences. But this path is her very own – a favorite familiar friend. And then, after a soaking rainstorm, it’s as if it is completely new to her – a welcome discovery. She shames me with that inherent instinct, that noble ability. I suspect I often fail to delight properly in something I love simply because it has become familiar. What joys have I forgotten because I have neglected to hold them close enough – to look at them dearly, touch them lovingly, dance with them, roll myself up in them, as often as I should? What old, familiar friend would continue to bring me such renewed happiness and intrigue as the woods brings Sophie if I brought the proper attitude to the relationship? For me, writing is an old love, a place I go to for comfort and joy. I wonder if I sometimes mistake it for being too familiar and, therefore, lose some of the glee and new discoveries it holds waiting for me. I suspect we all have such passions or persons or places in our lives. Perhaps the heaviest storms come to wash them clean and fresh for us again. And perhaps all it takes to find the excitement along those old familiar paths is to go walking with dogs in woods after rain. Marti Healy lives in Aiken, SC, with dog Sophie and cat Sparkey; she is the author of “The God-Dog Connection,” “The Rhythm of Selby,” and “The Secret Child,” and is a contributing columnist for The Aiken Standard.

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References Available

Expert Horse Care Farm Sitting Pet Sitting

Classifieds ADOPTIONS Adopt a Shelter Dog or Cat from the Aiken County Animal Shelter. Make a friend; save a life. Many beautiful, healthy, friendly animals to choose from. 411 Wire Road, Aiken. See the pets at www. 803.642.1537. Aiken SPCA. Dogs, puppies, cats and kittens for adoption. Hours of operation: Mon-Sat. 11 am - 5 pm. weekly offsite adoptions at Aiken Petsmart, Sat 10 am- 3 pm; Sun 1:30 pm - 6:30 pm. S 803.643.0564 .

Pointers! More than just bird dogs. Many beautiful purebred Pointers of all ages available for pets or for hunting. See them on the web at ANIMAL CARE Horses And Hounds Aiken. Pet & Horse-Sitting. Reasonable Rates, Bonded and Insured, Vet Assistant. 803-643-9972/803-443-8303. horsesandhoundsaiken@gmail. com Pet sitting, farm sitting, expert horse care. References available. Mary Jane Howell. 802.295.8294

PET PRODUCTS Natural Pet Products: Thundershirttm applies constant pressure to calm your dog. Perfect for thunderstorms, travel, & fireworks. Available at Herbal Solutions, Centre South Plaza, 722 Silver Bluff Road, Aiken, SC 29803. 803-649-9286 Horse Sense Plus handcrafted English bridle leather dog collars and matching leads. Available at Dog Days Workshop, 1760 Park Ave, Aiken. 803.226.0353

TRAINING Puppy training classes at reasonable rates. Heartsong Spay Neuter Clinic. Call for appointment: 803-649-3655. www. Southside Dog Agility & Training Center is a great place to train your dog. We have a fenced training area with an obedience ring and agility equipment, including rubberized contacts. For more information, see

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For detailed rate sheet & publication schedule, visit advertise in the Fall 2012 issue! Advertising deadline: August 13, 2012 Publication date: August 31, 2012

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Habersham County Coon Hunters Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Habersham Co CHA, Demorest, GA. Eve Kinsey, 706.809.2328, Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina, North, SC. Dewayne Padgett, 803.664.0936, Hall County Coon Hunters Association Nite Hunt, Bench Show, and Water Race. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587, The 7th Annual Green and Lean 5K Run/Walk – Leashed Dogs Welcome! Brittlebank Park, Next to Joe Riley Baseball Field on Lockwood Drive, Charleston, SC. 843.628.1479,, www. Cape Fear Retriever Club Hunting Test. Pembroke Farms, Rocky Point, NC. Andrea Meisse, 910.398.5517, Carolina Lure Coursing Society Lure Coursing Test and Trial. Polo Field, 130 Polo Lane, Camden, SC. Donna Richards, 704.483.6269, tntskids@aol. com. Piedmont Border Collie Association Obedience Show. Durham Kennel Club, 7318 Guess Road, Durham, NC. David Raper, 919.245.0553, david_, Sawnee Mountain Kennel Club of Georgia Obedience Show and Rally. Family Pet Obedience School, 4890 Hammond Industrial Drive, Ste 100, Cumming, GA. Jennifer Carver, 770.695.0231,, Bark In The Park. Bring your pooch to the ballpark and catch a Drive game with your lovable pet. Fluor Field, Greenville, SC. 945 S. Main Street, Greenville, SC. North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Union County Coon Hunters Association Nite Hunt. Union Co. CHA Clubhouse, Union, SC. Wayne Nations, 704.634.2198. Estate Planning Class. Local Attorney Evan Guthrie teaches about the basics of pet planning, wills, living trusts, probate court, and healthcare directives. John’s Island Regional Library, 3531 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC. 843.926.3813, Sampson County Coonhunters Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Sampson CO CHA Clubhouse, Clinton, NC. Jeffrey Robinson, 910.531.3672. Saluda County Coonhunters Association Nite Hunt. Saluda County CHA Clubhouse, Saluda, SC. Keith Edwards, 864.445.7952. Boiling Springs Coon Hunters Club Nite Hunt. Boiling Springs CHC Clubhouse, Boiling Springs, NC. Cliff Monroe, 704.692.3580. Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Macon County Coon Hunters Association Nite Hunt. Macon County CHA Clubhouse, Franklin, NC. Ralph Sanders, 828.524.3781, Habersham County Coon Hunters Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Habersham Co CHA, Demorest, GA. Eve Kinsey, 706.809.2328, Palmetto Obedience Training Club, Inc. Rally. Northwest Recreation Center, 701 Saxon Avenue, Spartanburg, SC. Kirsten Beeker, 864.587.9839, beekers@bellsouth. Fletcher Dog Show (see for breeds and divisions). WNC Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher, NC. Betty A. Brown, 336.379.9352, Moore County Kennel Club of North Carolina Agility Show. Bon-Clyde Learning Center, 3030 Lee Avenue, Sanford, NC. Hall County Coon Hunters Association Water Race, Nite Hunt, and Bench Show. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587, Palmetto Obedience Training Club, Inc. Obedience Show. Northwest Recreation Center, 701 Saxon Avenue, Spartanburg, SC. Kirsten Beeker, 864.587.9839, Boiling Springs Coon Hunters Club Nite Hunt. Boiling Springs CHC Clubhouse, Boiling Springs, NC. Cliff Monroe, 704.692.3580. FATZ for CATZ Pancake Breakfast. Benefit for FOTAS for the needs of the Aiken County Shelter. 8am- 10am- tickets $7.00 per person. FATZ Cafe 996 Pine Log Road, Aiken. Saluda County Coonhunters Association Nite Hunt. Saluda County CHA Clubhouse, Saluda, SC. Keith Edwards, 864.445.7952. Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association AB/O/JSHW and Rally. Haywood County Fairgrounds, 758 Crabtree Road, Waynesville, NC. www.

The Dog & Hound

20 22-24 23 23 23-24

25 25 27 28 29 30

July 2 5 7 11 11-15 13 13-14 14 14-15

Perry’s Coonhound Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Perry CHA Clubhouse, 361 Walker Road, Salley, SC. TC Sox, 803.309.1736. Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Central Carolina Poodle Club Agility Show. Bon-Clyde Learning Center, 3030 Lee Avenue, Sanford, NC. Whitmire Coonhunters Association Nite Hunt. Clubhouse, Whitmire, SC. Roger Enlow, 864.923.5431, Hall County Coon Hunters Association Water Race, Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587, Savannah Dog Training Club Obedience Show and Rally. Groves High School, 100 Wheathill Road, Savannah, GA. Ginger Robertson, 912.308.1007,, www.savannahdogtrainingclub. com. Boiling Springs Coon Hunters Club Nite Hunt. Boiling Springs CHC Clubhouse, Boiling Springs, NC. Cliff Monroe, 704.692.3580. North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Cherryville Beagle Club Field Trial. Indian Beagle Club, End of Powell Road, Vale, NC. Price H. Beatty, 704.865.8022, yankee2rebel@hotmail. com. Pee Dee River Beagle Club Field Trial. Indian Beagle Club, End of Powell Road, Vale, NC. Lucas Heafner, 704.530.5818. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina, North, SC. Dewayne Padgett, 803.664.0936, Hall County Coon Hunters Association Water Race, Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587,

North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Perry’s Coonhound Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Perry CHA Clubhouse, 361 Walker Road, Salley, SC. TC Sox, 803.309.1736. Hall County Coon Hunters Association Water Race, Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587, Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Perry Agility Show. Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, 401 Larry Walker Parkway, Perry, GA. Boiling Springs Coon Hunters Club Nite Hunt. Boiling Springs CHC Clubhouse, Boiling Springs, NC. Cliff Monroe, 704.692.3580. Habersham County Coon Hunters Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Habersham Co CHA, Demorest, GA. Eve Kinsey, 706.809.2328, Hall County Coon Hunters Association Water Race, Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587, Durham Kennel Club, Inc. Obedience Show and Rally. NetSports, 3717 Davis Drive, Morrisville, NC. Tracy Fletcher, 919.460.7944, funshelties@,

Summer 2012

17 19 20 21 21-22 21-22 25 26-29 27-29 28

Perry’s Coonhound Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Perry CHA Clubhouse, 361 Walker Road, Salley, SC. TC Sox, 803.309.1736. Pickens Coon Hunters Association of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Pickens Coon Hunters Association of South Carolina, 1410 Wahalla Highway, Pickens, SC. Chad Howard, 864.376.9436, North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Hall County Coon Hunters Association Water Race, Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587, Tarheel Weimaraner Club Agility Show. Bon-Clyde Learning Center, 3030 Lee Avenue, Sanford, NC. Four Paw Agility Club of North Georgia Obedience Show and Rally. Gwinnett County Fair Grounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Lawrenceville, GA. Chris Hudson, 404.281.4645, Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Greenville Dog Show (see for breeds and divisions). TD Convention Center, 1 Expositon Avenue, Greenville, SC. Tallahassee Dog Obedience Club Agility Show. Cloud Livestock Facility, 1300 E. River Road, Bainbridge, GA. Hall County Coon Hunters Association Water Race, Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Hall County CHA Clubhouse, Gainesville, GA. Jason Grindle, 770.533.2587,

August 2 3 6 8 9-12 10 15-19 16-19 17 17 17 22 23-26 23-26 24 23 27-30 29 28 30-31

Macon County Coon Hunters Association Nite Hunt. Macon County CHA Clubhouse, Franklin, NC. Ralph Sanders, 828.524.3781, Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina, North, SC. Dewayne Padgett, 803.664.0936, North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Greater Monroe Kennel Club Agility Show. Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, 4751 Highway 49 North, Concord, NC. www.greatermonroekc. com. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina, North, SC. Dewayne Padgett, 803.664.0936, Greensboro Dog Show (see for breeds and divisions). Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W Lee Street, Greensboro, NC. Carolina Piedmont Agility Club Show. NetSports, 3717 Davis Drive, Morrisville, NC. Boiling Springs Coon Hunters Club Nite Hunt. Boiling Springs CHC Clubhouse, Boiling Springs, NC. Cliff Monroe, 704.692.3580. North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Pickens Coon Hunters Association of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Pickens Coon Hunters Association of South Carolina, 1410 Wahalla Highway, Pickens, SC. Chad Howard, 864.376.9436, Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Atlanta Summer Dog Show (see for breeds and divisions). Atlanta Exposition Center South, 3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA. Blue Ridge Agility Dog Training. Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, 3381 Hunting Country Road, Tryon, NC. Habersham County Coon Hunters Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Habersham Co CHA, Demorest, GA. Eve Kinsey, 706.809.2328, Whitmire Coonhunters Association Nite Hunt. Clubhouse, Whitmire, SC. Roger Enlow, 864.923.5431, BeachBound Hounds 2012. Benefitting greyhound adoption. Sea Mist Resort, 1200 South Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, SC. 864.995.3112, . Indian Beagle Club Field Trial. Club Running Grounds, Vale, NC. Richard C. Sproul, 828.466.1844, Pee Dee River Beagle Club Field Trial. Indian Beagle Club, End of Powell Road, Vale, NC. Lucas Heafner, 704.530.5818. Central Carolina Poodle Club and Alamance Kennel Club, Inc. Show. NC State Fairgrounds, 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC. www.

Summer 2012

September 1-3 3 5 6 6-8 7-8 7-9 8 14-16 14-16 18 19 21 21 21 21-23 21-23


22 22 28 28 28-30 29-30 29-30 29-30 29-30

Raleigh Dog Show (see for breeds and divisions). NC State Fairgrounds, 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC. North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Macon County Coon Hunters Association Nite Hunt. Macon County CHA Clubhouse, Franklin, NC. Ralph Sanders, 828.524.3781, ISDS 2012 International Sheepdog Trials. Redland Farm, Bonvilston, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Wales. Helen Howells, 0.781.321.5108, helen@ Pickens Coon Hunters Association of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Pickens Coon Hunters Association of South Carolina, 1410 Wahalla Highway, Pickens, SC. Chad Howard, 864.376.9436, Canine Capers Agility Club of Greater Atlanta Agility Show. Wills Park Equestrian Center, Wills Coliseum, 11915 Wills Road, Alpharetta, GA. K9 Daze. Open field. Darcy Quinlan, 770.887.4417. Pinehurst Dog Show (see for breeds and divisions). Pinehurst Harness Track and Polo Field, NC Highway 5, Pinehurst, NC. Shetland Sheepdog Club of Georgia, Inc. Agility Show. T. Ed Garrison Arena, 1101 W. Queen Street, Pendleton, SC. Chris Danielly, 770.787.7470, Lure Beagle Club Field Trial. Clubhouse & Running Grounds, Pea Ridge Road, Bostic, NC. William Lemon, 828.245.0344. Cowpen Branch Coonhunters Association of Georgia Nite Hunt. Cowpen Branch CHA Clubhouse, Springfield, GA. Rock Johnson, 912.663.5287, Whitmire Coonhunters Association Nite Hunt. Clubhouse, Whitmire, SC. Roger Enlow, 864.923.5431, North West Coon Club of North Carolina Nite Hunt. Northwest CC of NC, Warrensville, NC. Randy Mahaffey, 336.977.0714. Central Georgia Beagle Club Field Trial. 200 Thompson Creek Road, Hampton, GA. Joe Hodges, 770.757.9782, Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association Agility Show. Haywood County Fairgrounds, 758 Crabtree Road, Waynesville, NC. wcdfa. Winston-Salem Dog Training Club, Inc. Obedience Show and Rally. Winston-Salem Dog Training Club, 3800 Bethania Station Road, WinstonSalem, NC. Olivia Perkins, 336.766.9081, www.wsdtc. org/. AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day. Fun and educational activities for all dog lovers. Dog-related vendors, free games, contests and giveaways - free goodie bags to the first 500 attendees. Event Hours 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Free admission. Holshouser Building, NC State Fairgrounds, 1025 Blue Ridge Boulevard, Raleigh, NC. 919-816-3717,, www.akc. org/clubs/rdod/events. Habersham County Coon Hunters Association Bench Show and Nite Hunt. Habersham Co CHA, Demorest, GA. Eve Kinsey, 706.809.2328, Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina, North, SC. Dewayne Padgett, 803.664.0936, Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina Nite Hunt. Millwood Farm Coon Club of South Carolina, North, SC. Dewayne Padgett, 803.664.0936, Central Savannah River Area Retriever Club Field Trial. Running Grounds, Lincolnton, GA. Tara Wilkes Jordan, 912.526.6757, tjw_128@ Alpharetta Dog Show (see for breeds and divisions). Wills Park Equestrian Center, Wills Coliseum, 11915 Wills Road, Alpharetta, GA. Asheville Kennel Club, Inc. Obedience Show. U.S. Army Reserve Center, 224 Louisiana Avenue, Asheville, NC. Susan Young, 828.273.9108, Greater Columbia Obedience Club, Inc. Agility Show. South Congaree Horse Arena, 301 Oak Street, West Columbia, SC. Durham Kennel Club, Inc. Agility Show. Durham Kennel Club’s Land, 1700 Harris Road, Rougemont, NC. Labrador Retriever Club of the Piedmont Hunting Test. H. Cooper Black Jr. Memorial Field Trial Area, Patrick, SC. Deborah Prince, 704.609.7618,

The Dog & Hound


Saying Goodbye

Making the Transition Tranquil, at Home By Mary Jane Howell


ver the past decade the practice of in-home euthanasia for dogs and cats has been a growing trend across the country. In Aiken, Dr. Kathy Bissell provides this service, which she calls Tranquil Transitions. “I moved to Aiken in the fall of 2009 after having a successful feline practice in Charlotte for 20 years,” says Cathy. “I have always loved horses and racing and Charlotte was just getting too big – Aiken was the perfect answer.” What Kathy has found with Tranquil Transitions is that many pet owners, given the option, would prefer to be able to say good-bye to their dog or cat at home, without the stress of a oneway trip to the veterinarian’s office. They also want to have their beloved companion “transition” in a familiar place, surrounded by love and familiar objects. Back in the day when more people lived on farms and in rural areas, large animal vets would often put down the barn cats or family dogs when the need arose, or in many cases a well-aimed shot ended a pet’s suffering. Today, with animals living longer lives and becoming true members of the family, their final moments have taken on a greater importance. “I absolutely believe that animals have a soul or a spirit and what I do is transition the animal from life to death and what lies beyond. My visits to people’s homes are obviously sad, but also positive in that their pet is surrounded by so much love,” explains Kathy. “There are many cases when the entire family is present, and I have always thought that having the children involved was important – it gives them a better understanding of death.” Kathy knows that by the time an owner has called her, the tough decision has already been made. In the case of illnesses such as cancer, there is nothing else the animal’s veterinarian can do. Sometimes a dog or cat is just old, unable to have any quality of life. “If a pet is having more negative days than positive ones – or your relationship has gone from joyful companionship to worried guardianship – then it is time to start thinking about euthanasia,” says Kathy. “The process of euthanasia is a transition for an owner and their pet and it should be a time of peace and acceptance.” Kathy is licensed to practice veterinary medicine in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. She has travelled throughout the Aiken, Augusta and Columbia areas to provide in-home euthanasia. “I commend people for calling me,” she says. “I know how difficult it is to make that call.” Kathy makes her house calls seven days a week and can almost always euthanize a pet the same day the owner calls. In most cases, however, an owner will set up the appointment a few days ahead of time. In her two and half years of operating Tranquil Transitions she has seen the strong bond owners have with their pets and has shared their heartbreak with that final goodbye.


The Dog & Hound

“Sometimes a dog will be curled up under his favorite tree, or a cat may be on a blanket in the middle of a living room. There are no rules – I will do my work wherever the animal and his or her people are the most comfortable,” she says. Kathy uses the same procedure for euthanasia as one would experience in a vet’s office: a sedation injection first to make the animal pain-free and calm, followed by an overdose of pentobarbital, an anesthetic that stops the animal’s heart. Kathy says that usually there is a 10 to 12 minute space of time between the two injections and that this is when the final goodbyes are said. “During the sedation period the pet can still hear, feel and smell, so he knows he is surrounded by the people he loves,” Kathy shared. When the animal has passed, Kathy will leave the family to mourn in their individual ways, or she can take the body to be cremated, returning the ashes to the family at a later date. As owners we take on the responsibility of being our pets’ stewards in life. The growing preference for in-home euthanasia seems to be a response to taking this stewardship to the next level – making our pets as comfortable as possible in those last moments. Performing these transitions would take an emotional toll on anyone, and Kathy has found coping strategies. “I think of this job as a gift, but it is not always easy,” she says. “I started keeping a journal – writing each night about that day’s experiences. It was a way for me to release the animal’s spirit and to cleanse my own soul. “When I had my practice in Charlotte, I had many memories to attach to each patient prior to euthanasia,” recalled Kathy. “When I go on a call now I don’t have that back story and sometimes the owners want to talk about their pet’s life and others are quite subdued. Each

case is different.” Having had cats for most of her life, Kathy knows first hand the pain and sorrow involved with letting a pet go. Kathy owned a cat named Karley for 14 years and when it was time to put her longtime companion to sleep, she chose to do it herself. In her journal she later wrote: “I thank you for teaching me to work outside my comfort zone and to, on occasion, believe in miracles. Rest in peace with all the others, and Penny and I will catch up with you across the bridge.”

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

The Dog & Hound


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The Dog & Hound Summer 2012  

A quarterly publication devoted to dogs, dog people and all things canine. Features: mixed breed DNA tests; Jack Russell Terriers; Aiken, SC...

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