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Volume 2 • Number 3 Volume 2 • Number 3

Summer 2013 Summer 2013


The Dog & Hound

Summer 2013

Summer 2013

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

Time Dated Material • Periodicals • Volume 2 • Number 3


have an Internet alert that emails me all the dog news from all over the world every day. When you get your news this way, there is definitely a bad new bias. The stories are mostly about dog bites and dog abuse, although you do also get some tales of heroism, and occasional reports on the latest scientific findings about dogs. If you step back and look at the big picture, one thing these stories reveal is how much attention our society is paying to dogs. They also show that, when it comes to the way we treat our dogs, things are definitely moving in the right direction. As one example of this, the animal rescue and humane movement has greatly improved the situation for dogs and cats that end up in shelters. The South is lagging behind other areas of the country, but overall, we are becoming much more effective at moving animals from overpopulated areas to places where they can be adopted. Some of the latest estimates of the number of dogs and cats killed in shelters last year put that number below three million for the first time. That is still a huge and a tragic statistic, but when you realize that the number was estimated at 17 million in the late 1970s and nine million in the late 1990s, there has clearly been real progress in this area. If current trends continue, some animal welfare organizations believe that the killing of adoptable pets could be obsolete as early as 2015. Spay and neuter campaigns have also had a dramatic effect. According to Stephen Zawistowski, who is the science advisor to the ASPCA, for every human born in this country each year, there are 1.6 non feral cats and 1.47 dogs born. Zawistowski says you should add up to 50 percent for feral cats, but that would still mean just 2.4 cats born per baby. Since humans live, on average, 7 to 8 times longer than dogs and 5 to 7 times longer than cats, this means that the dog and cat populations are declining in relation to the human population. Conversely, pet ownership is up, with over 30 percent of Americans owning cats and almost 37 percent owning dogs. The “no more unwanted pets” ideal is much closer than most people think. Another place where the news shows a turn for the better is in what happens to pets during natural disasters. The recent devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma are a case in point. Go back just eight years, and remember what happened to the animals during hurricane Katrina. At that

Summer 2013

time, there were no official provisions for rescuing pets in case of disaster. Forced to evacuate their homes, many people left pets behind, not realizing that they would not be able to return for weeks. Others refused to evacuate because they would not abandon their animals. When emergency responders came to rescue these people, the official “no pets” policy was strictly enforced on boats, buses and other vehicles that carried people out of the city. There were stories of policemen ripping beloved pets from the arms of crying children. It was heartrending. For the dogs and cats of New Orleans, Katrina was devastating. As many as a quarter million are believed to have died. In the aftermath of Katrina, Congress passed a law called the Pet Evacuation Transportation Standards act, (PETS) which requires that official disaster preparedness plans include provisions regarding pets and service animals. Since this act was passed in 2006, over 30 states have adopted laws that deal with the care and sheltering of companion animals during a disaster. At the same time, humane organizations developed educational campaigns to give people guidance on how to keep their pets safe. This May, when the tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma, pet rescue plans went into effect. In addition to disaster relief provided by such organizations as the Humane Society of the United States, many private rescues and smaller humane societies stepped up to help. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture created a public information hotline with information about animals lost or found, as well as an official web page to help reunite people and their pets. Three official shelters took animals and held them for owners who had been displaced from their homes, all at no charge. To date, hundreds of people in Oklahoma have been reunited with lost dogs and cats. One of the iconic images from the devastation of Katrina in 2005 was video of abandoned dogs pacing on the roofs of houses as the floodwaters rose around them. One of the most shared videos on YouTube from the Moore tornadoes in 2013 was of a woman named Barbara Garcia who stands in the rubble of her home, describing what it was like when the tornado hit. “I called for my little dog and he didn’t answer, so I know he’s under there somewhere,” she says, her voice breaking. Just then, there is movement under the debris. It is her dog, a grey Schnauzer, and he is unhurt. Garcia and the reporter help free him as the camera rolls. Garcia looks up. “I thought God had answered one of my prayers, for me to be okay,” she says. “But he answered both of them.” There could not be a much better symbol for the progress our society has made in valuing the lives of dogs. In the eight years since Katrina, we have become a more caring and compassionate society, and our animals’ lives are the better for it. We have a lot of great articles for you and we really enjoyed putting this issue together. We hope you enjoy it.

Pam Gleason Editor & Publisher

The Dog and Hound EDITOR & PUBLISHER Pam Gleason ART DIRECTOR Gary Knoll ASSOCIATE EDITOR Jean Berko Gleason LAYOUT & DESIGN Gary Knoll ADVERTISING 803.643.9960 PHOTOGRAPHERS Pam Gleason Gary Knoll

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 A tracking dog from the Aiken Bloodhiound Tracking Team out on a training exercise in Aiken. Aiken’s tracking team has been working to help find lost people and to solve crimes since the mid 1980s. Read all about them starting on page 6.

Photography by Gary Knoll 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 2013 The Dog and Hound

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Jiminy, a six month old retriever mix, available for adoption at the Albrecht Aiken SPCA

Table of Contents 6 Tracking Dogs 8 Dog News 12 The Color of Dogs 14 The Lassie Connection 20 Regional Calendar of Events 22 On Their Way Home


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Summer 2013

References Available

Expert Horse Care Farm Sitting Pet Sitting

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Follow Your Nose Aiken’s Tracking Team

by Pam Gleason, Photography by Gary Knoll

“The dogs do not differentiate between human odors,” says Chad Hyler, who is the Lieutenant of Special Operations at the Aiken County Sheriff ’s office. Officer Hyler is in charge of Aiken’s team of tracking dogs. “They will track you whether you are good or bad. It doesn’t make any difference if you are a 4-year-old girl who is lost in the woods, or a murderer who is running away from a crime scene.” According to Officer Hyler, the hounds track for “pure love.” “We don’t train them with any treats or toys,” he says. “All we use is pure love and affection. That’s what they do it for, and we love giving it to them. Their pure joy in life is to find that scent, and their pleasure in life is to find a person. They don’t know whether it’s a good or a bad person and it doesn’t make any difference to them. They will find you whoever you are.” Aiken has a number of dogs working in public safety. There is a German Shepherd that is trained to find drugs, and a pair of Labrador Retrievers that are bomb-sniffing dogs. Then there are the eight dogs that make up the tracking team. The drug and bomb detection dogs live with their handlers, but the tracking dogs live in kennels behind the Aiken Sheriff ’s office, and they work with the Aiken County Sheriff, as well as with the Aiken and North Augusta Departments of Public Safety. The dogs go out on training runs at least twice a week, and they are called for actual police work some 200 times a year. There are 15 officers and deputies who are certified as handlers of the dogs. Aiken County has had tracking dogs since the mid 1980s, when Mike Hunt, at the time a patrol officer for the Aiken County Department of Safety, brought in a single dog, appropriately named “Only.” Hunt and Only were very successful in their police work, which convinced Aiken that tracking dogs could be a real help. Today, Mike Hunt is the sheriff, and the tracking team is an Aiken institution. The dogs themselves are a special mixture of Bloodhound, which gives them great scenting ability, and Redbone and Blue Tick hound, which makes them faster and gives them more stamina. The department calls their hounds SLED dogs, for South Carolina Law Enforcement Division dogs. Everything about Aiken’s SLED dogs is home grown. They are bred in Aiken by the Sheriff ’s department. The puppies are born in a climatecontrolled whelping house in the kennels there. When the puppies are about two weeks old, the officers start working with them, teaching them to track almost from the time their eyes first open. “We start by playing cat and mouse with them,” says Officer Hyler. “We get them to follow us. Then, when they get a little older, we start holding them back and then sending them out. It gets to a point where we hold them back until the person they are going after is out of sight. That’s what teaches them to use their noses.” The dogs have to learn how to track in all conditions and in all environments. They are trained in the woods, through swamps, on railroad tracks and on asphalt. When they are mature, the different dogs in the program have individual preferences and abilities. For instance, some are better at tracking on pavement than others. These dogs would be brought out if a dog was needed in the city of Aiken. There are some that are better in the countryside. These dogs would be used if there was a need to locate someone in the woods. Aiken’s dogs learn to follow the “last scent” in an area. When the dogs are called out, they always arrive in pairs, along with at least two handlers. One dog goes out on the trail, while the other stays in the truck, in case he is needed. Before the dogs arrive, officers secure the perimeter of the area where the person they are tracking was last observed so that no new scents can contaminate the scene. Then the dog is put on the trail, and the handlers follow him. Occasionally, the dogs will be on a lead, but generally they are off lead. They always wear GPS collars, but the handlers can usually find them by listening – these dogs are hounds, and they give voice pretty much continuously while they are on the trail. “We can tell they have found someone because of the level of excitement in their baying,” says Officer Hyler. The dogs’ job is to find people, not to arrest them, and so when they have found the person they are looking for, they are happy and can even


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be affectionate. This is especially important because the person they are tracking is not always a criminal. Sometimes it is a lost child, or an elderly person with dementia who has wandered off. Officers in the program like to tell the story of Ginger, an older female hound who was sent to find a 7-year-old girl in the woods one cold day. Ginger found the little girl, and by the time the officers had located her, she was curled up with the girl providing her with warmth and comfort. The officers like to think that this was because Ginger, who had been a mother, had a strong maternal instinct. Of course, not all people found by the dogs are equally as happy, and dogs have occasionally been injured on the job. A few years ago, a dog named Duke was hurt when a suspect tried to cut off his GPS collar and accidentally stabbed him in the process. Duke recovered quickly and is back on the job. The suspect was sentenced to five years in jail for cruelty to a police dog. Captain Eric Abdullah, who is the supervisor of the Special Operations Division, which includes the tracking team, says Aiken’s hounds have been so successful they have become a model for other dog teams in South Carolina and beyond. “They have also been called out to help other agencies in the Southeast who have needed help tracking someone,” he says. “The dog handlers and the dogs are certified as expert witnesses, and they can testify in court.” Each spring, Aiken puts on a 40-hour tracking school that is accredited by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. According to the school’s brochure, this course includes “perimeters, bloodhound familiarization and care, basic tracking, tactical movement and operation, evidence collection, court testimony and tracking team documentation.” The course take place at Camp Long Youth Development Center in rural Aiken County and each year it draws officers from across South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and all around the region. Captain Abdullah stresses that the tracking dogs are a good, proven program that is a positive part of community policing. When they are not on duty, the dogs sometimes make visits to schools and summer camps. They are friendly, affectionate animals who like to be petted. Aiken’s school children are sometimes given the opportunity to name new dogs that come on the force. “We make it a little competition,” says Officer Hyler. “The kids submit names, and we choose the best one. Of course, you have to be sure it is a name that you don’t mind yelling out in the woods.” The dogs themselves clearly enjoy their work. Sometimes, especially in the summer, this means that the officers have to be careful to make sure that they stop and rest when they need to, so that they don’t get overheated. The handlers work closely with their veterinarian, and always have the dogs’ welfare in mind. If dog on a trail is in danger of overdoing it, he is always taken back to the truck and replaced by the other dog that is on the call. “Their reward is to find that person, so they are not going to want to stop,” says Officer Hyler. “They aren’t going to stop until we tell them to, any more than a retriever is going to want to stop chasing a ball. That’s how much they love their work.”

Summer 2013

Summer 2013 Lieutenant Chad Hyler, Captain Eric Abdullah and Jessie

The Dog & Hound


Dog News

by Pam Gleason Veterinarians’ Bill Tabled


his spring, a bill that was being promoted by the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians (SCAV) was debated in the Agriculture Committee of the South Carolina House of Representatives. The legislation, H3492, sought to limit the kinds of veterinary

services that could be provided by animal shelters on the grounds that many of these facilities receive government grants and support.


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The veterinarians group claimed that this enables humane organizations to provide services at drastically lower prices, which gives them an unfair advantage in the marketplace. The bill itself went through several drafts. The final version that was debated in the House would require that people who get animals from shelters take their newly adopted pets to a private veterinarian within 72 hours of bringing them home. It would prevent animal shelters that accept public or private funds from doing spay and neuter surgeries for animals not in their possession. It would prevent animal shelters that receive public funds for spay and neuter surgeries from performing any other veterinary services with that money, including vaccinations, heartworm tests or microchipping. Finally, it would require that mobile veterinary practices have an affiliation agreement with a brick and mortar veterinary practice within 20 miles of where they operate. Not surprisingly, South Carolina’s major

humane organizations and animal rescuers considered the bill a shot across the bow. Affordable spay and neuter clinics have become the centerpiece of the animal rescue community’s efforts to reduce the number of unwanted animals in the state. Closing them down would be a severe blow to many organizations, including the Albrecht Aiken SPCA, which just opened its new state-of-theart clinic, and Pawmetto Lifeline in Columbia, which has been in operation for a little over a year. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) mobilized animal rescuers, humane society directors and animal lovers to speak out against the bill. When it came up for debate in subcommittee on May 21, the room in the statehouse in Columbia was packed with animal advocates who gave their testimony against the bill. The following day, the bill was heard by the full Agriculture committee. After discussion there, it was tabled. This means that this bill did not come up for a vote and will not be debated again this year, but it does not mean that it has gone away. The

Summer 2013

HSUS and the South Carolina Associaton of Veterinarians will be working over the coming year to devise some kind of acceptable compromise that will protect the vets while also allowing humane societies and animal rescue groups to continue their life-saving work.

This June, someone in Wagener, S.C. found a lost or orphaned fawn and placed it inside the fence around the town’s water tower. Wagener’s mayor, Mike Miller, took it home while waiting to find a wildlife rehabilitator for it. There, the baby fawn made an unusual friend: Buddy, Mike Miller’s Rottweiler. “Buddy’s taking care of that deer,” says Miller. “He plays with him, and the deer is really friendly, too.” Miller has pictures on his cell phone that show the Rottweiler upside down on his back while the tiny baby deer inspects his stomach. “Buddy thinks it’s his job to take care of all the little animals.” It may be unusual for a big dog and a baby deer to become friends. It is all the more remarkable when you know more about Buddy’s history. Before Miller got him, Buddy did not have an easy life. He lived tied up

But he was a sweet and friendly dog, and so Mayor Mike Miller decided to pay for his medical treatment and take him home. When word got out about this abused dog who was still so loving, adoption offers came in from around the country. But Miller was attached, and decided to keep the dog himself. That was in the fall of 2011. Buddy soon became a mascot at the Wagener Town Hall. “He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body,” says Miller. “He’ll take care of anything.” Maybe, after receiving this kindness from the mayor and the whole town of Wagener, Buddy is paying it back by helping other animals in need.

outside near his house’s water meter. The meter reader could see that the dog was tied there in an attempt to intimidate him, and so he asked some police officers to come with him when he went to the house. But Buddy was not protective. Instead, he was starved for attention and so the meter man was able to do his job without a problem. A few weeks later, the same police officers saw the dog again. This time he was running down the road, trailing cords and ties from his neck. He ran right up to the officers, as though asking them for help. And Buddy needed it. He had been beaten in the face, and had makeshift collars fashioned from metal clothes hangers and electrical cords embedded in his neck. Right away, the Wagener Police decided to help him and to charge his owner with abuse. Buddy was taken to the Aiken County Animal Shelter, where he probably would have been euthanized.

Hot weather is especially life-threatening for English Bulldogs and any dog that is bred to have a shortened snout. This is because, unlike some other mammals such as humans and horses, dogs do not sweat, except for a very small amount from the pads of their feet. Their primary means of reducing heat is through panting. Short nosed dogs don’t pant as effectively as long-nosed dogs. English Bulldogs and other very short-snouted dogs also often have other conformational problems in their throats that cause difficulties, such a foamy saliva that forms, potentially compromising their breathing as well as their ability to dissipate heat. Keeping dogs from overheating when the thermometer soars ideally means keeping them indoors and in air conditioning. Failing that, they need to have somewhere cool and shady as well as access to plentiful clean, fresh water. Lots of dogs like to dig holes and lie on the cool earth. This is actually quite an efficient way for

Staying Cool

Summer means long lazy days, school vacation for the kids, picnics, barbecues and celebrations. In this area, it also means heat that can reach dangerous levels.

Buddy and the Fawn

Spring is fawn season in South Carolina, and if you live in the country, it is not unusual to run across a tiny baby deer stashed in the bushes while its mother is off foraging for food. Many people don’t realize that when fawns are very small, their mothers leave them alone for hours at a time. A newborn fawn is not yet strong enough or fast enough to keep up with its mother. It has little or no scent and stays very still so it does not attract predators. When it is about three weeks old and can run and jump, it will start tagging along after its mother. If you do find a fawn out on its own, you are advised to leave it alone, since its mother is probably coming back for it. Every year,

many fawns are accidentally kidnapped by wellmeaning folks who find them alone and assume they need help. Of course, sometimes they are in trouble – one clue is if they are wandering around crying, looking for their mothers.

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them to stay comfortable. They don’t sweat, but they can reduce their internal temperature by putting their skin in contact with something cold. Letting them play in a kiddie pool filled with cool water can also be a good idea, and is one of the fastest ways of cooling them off if they get overheated.

Some breeds tolerate heat much better than others. If it gets into the mid to high 80s, it is often too hot for English Bulldogs to be outside at all, and is probably too hot for them to be exercising. In the summer, Bulldogs and most short nosed dogs are better off taking their walks after sundown. Thin-coated, lean-bodied dogs that developed in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Greyhounds, are much more tolerant of hot weather, but they need to be protected from the sun, especially if they are light colored, or they could get sunburned. It goes without saying that no dog should ever be left shut in a car in the summertime. If you have a dog with a long, double coat, should you clip him? There are two schools of thought on this. Some people say yes, of course. If you clip him he will be much cooler and happier. He will also be cleaner, less prone to summertime skin infections, and it will be easier to keep him free from ticks and fleas. Other people say no, as long as you keep his coat clean and well brushed, it will actually keep him cooler than if you clip it off. The logic is that brushing and grooming removes the insulating undercoat. Then the long guard hairs that are left act like a shield to the sun – people compare it to the garments worn by Bedouin tribes in the deserts of North Africa. Actual, empirical facts are hard to come by on the question of to-clip-or-not-to clip. Both sides make claims that are reasonable, although there does seem to be more evidence to support clipping. Aside from the logic of taking off the dog’s winter coat in the heat, the fact is that double-coated dogs generally developed in colder climates, while hot weather dogs generally


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have short coats. If a double coat were actually beneficial for dogs in hot climates, then you might expect Basenjis (from the Congo region of Africa) to have long double coats. Instead, the Basenji has a thin, fine and silky coat. The double-coated dogs (Shetland Sheepdogs, Huskies, Chows and so on) are all from places where it is not normally above 90 degrees in the summertime. Dogs from hot climates have short coats. With that in mind, it really comes down to what you (and your dog) prefer. Some long haired dogs really don’t like it when you clip them, and will be happier if they are left natural. Others perk up noticeably when their long hair comes off. People can be quite passionate on both sides of this issue, so whichever way you go, be ready to defend your choice!

Special Delivery

If you don’t know it already, there is a war going on out there. It has to do with dog poop. Dogs are getting more popular all over the world. If those dogs live in cities, this means that the dogs have to be walked. It also means that they tend to leave their deposits on streets, sidewalks, parks and even on public stairways. Dog poop is unsightly, smelly and a health hazard, so most cities have some provisions for keeping it off the streets. Although the majority of cities have laws that require dog owners to pick up after their own animals, compliance is quite variable. Cultural norms have a lot to do with this. Americans are generally more likely to pick up their dog’s leavings than people in some other countries, although there are regional variations in this. Some countries in Europe have been trying to convince dog-owning citizens to scoop for decades, without much success. In France, for instance, there has been a law requiring owners to pick up after their dogs since 1982. Are French cities free from dog poop? Far from it. The town of Brunete in Spain, outside of Madrid, has had a serious dog doo problem for years. They tried fines and they tried signs, but still there was poo. So they came up with a new plan this winter. For one week in February, the village hired people to loiter in parks and watch for people who don’t pick up after their dogs. Once these spies found a perpetrator, they would approach him or her and strike up a friendly conversation, in the course of which they would discover the name of the dog. Because all the dogs in the village are registered, all the spies needed was a name and the breed of the dog to

discover the owner’s name and address. The next day, the offending dog owner would receive a special delivery package, hand delivered by courier service. It would be a cardboard box marked “Lost Property.” Inside, they would find their dog’s pile. The village made 147 deliveries in the week of this experiment. Today, they say there has been a 70 percent drop in the mess that is left on the streets of Brunete. The poop-delivery scheme recently won the Sole de Plata award at the Ibero-American Advertising festival. There are plans to start this program again, and even to expand it to other areas in Spain.

Does the Dog Die?

Most people who have grown up watching television have gotten pretty accustomed to seeing people die on the screen. For the most part, these deaths are not that upsetting for viewers. Of course, there are exceptions, but, in many movies, if one of the human characters dies it is not a big deal. The same can’t be said for animals. Films in which an animal dies are often more emotionally wrenching, especially if it is a film that is actually about the animal. Those films, of course, attract people who love animals, the exact audience that is going to be most distraught to see them die on screen. The iconic example of a film that animal lovers love and hate is the 1957 classic Old Yeller, about a boy and his dog in the old West. The movie is all about Old Yeller’s courage and his bond with the boy, until he contracts rabies. Then they shoot him. Dog lovers say the only safe way to watch Old Yeller is to turn it off about two thirds of the way through. Today, if you want to avoid seeing a film where a dog, or any animal, dies, you can consult the Internet. There is a web page there called Does the Dog Die ( that has reviewed over 600 films, and rated them according to how the animals fare onscreen. There are three categories. The first, which gets a happy yellow dog icon, is for films in which no pets die. Some examples: Air Bud, Bridesmaids (“Many puppies appear in this film. None of them are harmed”), The Hunger Games (“ . . the only animals that die are small wild animals that are killed for food.”) The second category, represented by a worried brown dog icon, is for films in which a pet is injured or in grave danger but lives. Examples include Babe, a Pig in the City, Benji and Darling Companion. The final category, represented by a sobbing black dog, is for films in which the dog doesn’t make it. Old Yeller, of course, Marly and Me, The Red Pony, White Fang, and so on. The website isn’t exactly comprehensive, and it would be more useful if you had more ways to sort it (have it show you all the recent movies that are good for the animals, for instance). But it just might save you from a nasty surprise before you sit the kids down in front of the television for your animal-themed movie night.

Summer 2013

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The Color of Dogs

What does coat color mean? Story and Photography by Pam Gleason


t has often been remarked that dogs display more variety of size, shape and appearance than any other species of animal on earth. Not only do they come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, they also come in many different colors and patterns. Sometimes dogs have been selectively bred for a specific color and will breed true close to 100 percent of the time: you will never find a purebred Golden Retriever that is grey and white, or a purebred Bernese Mountain Dog that is red. Sometimes there is a range of acceptable colors in a particular breed. On the other hand, some dog breeds have become so identified with a particular color that people often mistakenly believe a dog of a certain color must be related to a specific breed – a brindle dog must be part Boxer, a black and tan dog must be part Rottweiler, a solid black or chocolate colored dog must be part Labrador.

Hidden Colors

According to Rob Loechel, who is the chief scientific officer at VetGen in Michigan, coat color does not tell you much about a dog’s breed, especially if it is a mixed breed dog. VetGen is a company that conducts genetic testing on dogs, horses and other animals. Some of these tests are for inherited genetic disorders, but a growing number are for the genes that cause the different coat colors in dogs. Black and tan coloring, which so many people identify with Rottweilers and Dobermans, is a good example. “The tan point mutation is very widespread across many different breeds,” says Loechel. “In fact, virtually all sporting dogs are probably predominently black and tan genetically. The reason that you don’t see very many of them with tan points is that they have another gene that masks that color.” Every once in a while, however, a dog in one of those sporting breeds will have some puppies with black and tan, brindle, or black and brindle coloring. “In Labradors, about one out of 25 dogs carries a recessive gene that allows the black and tan to be expressed,” he explains. “That means that about one out of every 625 litters of Labs will have some puppies that have tan or brindle points.” Although these puppies may not meet the Labrador breed standard because of their color, they are definitely purebred. Loechel says that his company has been doing a fair amount of testing of Wire Haired Pointing Griffons recently because there are increasing numbers of litters that have some black and tan puppies. Breeders want to eliminate dogs from the gene pool that might be carriers for this coloration. DNA testing has shown that virtually all of the dogs in this breed are genetically black and tan. However, as long as they also have the other gene that suppresses black and tan, they will not display the undesirable coloring.

Quick and Easy Dog Genetics (For those who want to know)

To understand how dogs get their color, it’s important to have some understanding of how genetics works. It is a complicated subject, Continued on page 18

How do dogs get their coat color and what does it mean? If a Golden Retriever mix gives birth to a litter that includes five golden, three brindle and three black and tan puppies, does this mean the father was a Doberman or Staffordshire Terrier? Of course, both of these things are possible. But the coat color of dogs comes from the interaction of many different sets of genes, and the effects of these interactions can be complicated. Mixed breed dogs often have puppies with coats that look nothing like either of their parents, and so do some purebreds. Although it is true that some dog breeds only come in a certain color, this does not necessarily mean that all dogs of that color also have a relation to a particular breed. Just what does coat color say about a dog?


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Summer 2013

Aiken’s Lassie Connection Weatherwax Collies at Home

By Mary Jane Howell, Photography by Gary Knoll


assie, the movie star collie, is an American icon. Aiken may be far from Hollywood, but it is the home of a 3-year-old dog named Gator who is a direct descendant of the movie star Lassies. Gator lives with his owner, Mary Duxbury, whose grandfather trained Lassie and his descendants for the movies and for TV. The Lassie legend started with a short story written by Eric Knight that was published in the Saturday Evening Post in December of 1938. “Lassie Come-Home,” was the tale of a poverty-stricken family forced to sell their beloved collie to a rich man. It became such a hit that Knight was asked to expand the story into a novel. Published in 1940 to great acclaim, Lassie Come-Home was a natural for the silver screen. MGM purchased the rights to the novel for $10,000 and went to work making what they thought would be an action/adventure film featuring a collie. While the studio quickly hired the character actors Nigel Bruce and Donald Crisp, and two relatively unknown child actors – Elizabeth Taylor and Roddy McDowall – the role of the dog Lassie was more difficult to cast. MGM executives ordered a national search to find just the right dog for the part. Talent scouts perused dog shows from Maine to Florida and from Oregon to New Mexico in search of the perfect dog. Little did they realize that the incarnation of Knight’s Lassie was practically in their own back yard. Rudd Weatherwax was a well-known dog trainer in Hollywood. Among his training and handling credits were “Asta” from the Thin Man series, “Daisy” from the Blondie series and “Petey” from Our Gang. Weatherwax also made ends meet by operating a training center for dogs with behavioral issues. One such dog was an 8-month-old collie puppy named Pal who barked continually and wouldn’t stop chasing motorcycles. Weatherwax cured the collie of barking by teaching him when he could “speak,” but the motorcycle habit was too ingrained to eliminate. The original owners did not want Pal back after his training, and so the dog stayed with Weatherwax, who continued to train him, but had few plans to use him in the movies. With no work to justify keeping Pal, the trainer eventually gave him to a friend who had a large ranch where Pal chased rabbits and coyotes through scrub brush and brambles. While on the MGM lot one day, Weatherwax heard about the ongoing search for a collie to play Lassie. Knowing an open audition was coming up, he contacted his rancher friend to retrieve Pal. The outdoor life had left the dog unkempt and ragged. With little time to get Pal’s coat back in condition, the trainer did not have high expectations, and Pal did not fare well during his audition. According to the book The Story of Lassie (co-written by Rudd Weatherwax and John Rothwell), the studio executives were only interested in looks: “When they came to him (Pal), they didn’t even pause to discuss him.” Pal’s training, temperament and personality meant nothing if he didn’t satisfy the studio’s vision of Lassie. Another dog soon got the part. What the studio executives had overlooked was Pal’s intelligence and the fact that he would do almost anything Weatherwax asked of him. Weatherwax took his dog home, formulated a special diet, groomed him daily and before long Pal’s coat was in top shape. Then the trainer bided his time. Since he was often on the MGM lot for other movies, Weatherwax knew he might yet be called to serve as a trainer on the Lassie movie. A glamorous female collie had been hired to play the role of Lassie, and word was that there was trouble on the set. Filming had been going on for a few weeks when the cast and crew moved off the studio lot and headed north to where the San Joaquin River was flooding. The script called for Lassie to jump into the raging river, swim to the other side, and pull herself out of the river exhausted. Perhaps not surprisingly, the beautiful show dog who was playing the part refused to enter the water. Weatherwax came to the rescue with Pal,

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who had been hired for the day as a stunt dog. The interaction between Weatherwax and Pal was remarkable, and Pal’s acting was nothing short of sublime. Only one take was needed. The director, Fred Wilcox, was blown away by the performance. “Rudd,” he said, “Pal went into the river, but Lassie came out.” (Quoted in the Lassie Method by Rudd Weatherwax.) So the female collie was fired, and Pal got the role of a lifetime. Back at the studio, Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM was said to have cried when he saw the river scene. He ordered more publicity, full advertising support and Technicolor. Lassie Come Home (the studio dropped the hyphen that was in the novel’s title) was released in October 1943 to great reviews and huge ticket sales. As the author Ace Collins wrote in Lassie: A Dog’s Life: “In the midst of a world war, a legend was being created from one man’s novel and another’s belief in a dog no one really wanted. That legend would grow bigger than either of the men, outlive them both, and make Lassie an American icon.” Today, Rudd Weatherwax’s granddaughter Mary Duxbury lives on a farm near Aiken with Gator, who represents the 11th generation of collies bred and trained from the Weatherwax Lassie line. “I am so not Hollywood,” Mary says with a laugh. “Gator probably prefers herding my chickens to being on a sound stage, although I am sure he would be easy to train for an acting job. He is sweet, intelligent and loves his family, all traits that my grandfather and father knew were important to the lineage.” Of all the collies bred by Rudd Weatherwax and then by his son Robert, the ones selected to be trained and to portray Lassie had to satisfy particular physical and mental characteristics, and they all had to be male. The role of “Lassie,” whether in movies or on television, was handed down from father to son, a Hollywood legacy on par with that of the Redgrave, Huston and Barrymore families. There were many Lassies, but only one at a time. In the eyes of the public, each new generation seamlessly took on the name of Lassie, although their kennel names were monikers that suited their distinct personalities. Lassie I was, of course, Pal; Lassie II was Lassie, Jr.; Spook should have been Lassie III, but he experienced an unfortunate accident with lighting equipment on a set and became terrified of the acting environment; Lassie III was known as Baby; and the list goes on. For Lassie IV, Weatherwax had to decide between two pups perfectly matched in all the right ways. They were so alike that he named them Muck and Mire as a joke. To make the final choice between the two, he flipped a coin, and Mire won, although Muck occasionally became his stand-in. “All of the Lassies lived at my grandfather’s home in the Santa Clarita Valley north of Los Angeles,” says Mary. “He had beautiful kennels, but the dogs always rotated, so four would be in the house, while five lived outside. The dogs were really part of the family.” Not every puppy became a Lassie, and the waiting list was long for the puppies that didn’t make the cut as film stars. Interestingly, the very marking that made the movie and television Lassies so unique – the white blaze that ran from the foreskull, between the eyes, and down to the tip of the nose – had been looked upon with disdain by breeders and dog show enthusiasts. The blaze could not be bred out, but it went unrewarded in the show ring. After children saw Lassie Come Home and begged their parents for a collie of their own, collies with distinctive blazes became accepted in the show ring. Following the success of Lassie Come Home, MGM made six more Lassie movies from 1945 to 1951. Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars shared their billing with the collie. The studio even had Elizabeth Taylor, her stardom ascending, return in the Courage of Lassie. When the movies had run their course, Weatherwax realized that

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Lassie’s popularity was still high. MGM owed him a large sum of money, and he negotiated with them to gain full rights and ownership of the Lassie trademark. Capitalizing on his new asset, Weatherwax hit the road with Lassie, appearing in cities across the country. The collie performed in arenas and in department stores, charming his audience no matter what the location. Television was just beginning to be a part of American life and a young producer named Bob Maxwell had seen how Lassie attracted huge audiences. He knew that the fledgling television networks were

Gator, on the left, with Lassie, on the right

hungry for programming, and he approached Weatherwax with the idea of building a series around Lassie. The rest, as they say, is history. Starting in 1954, “Lassie” ran for 19 years on CBS, always at 7 p.m., Eastern time. It’s not too far-fetched to say that the show has been ingrained in the psyches of several generations of Americans. Who doesn’t tear up when the credits start rolling, that mournful theme music plays, and Lassie holds up his right paw? Lassie won Emmys in 1955 and 1956, and in 1960 Lassie received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Within the entertainment industry, Lassie and Weatherwax won countless other awards such as the Patsy (an award for an animal actor that was established by the American Humane Association) and the Georgie (an award for excellence on stage, named for the songwriter George M. Cohen. Lassie is the only dog ever to receive a Georgie.) Mary Duxbury says she had no idea of how popular Lassie still was until she started attending public appearances and nostalgia celebrity shows with her father, Robert Weatherwax. “My dad had worked alongside his father for years, training the Lassies and handling them on the television show,” says Mary. “When Rudd passed away in 1985, he took over the job, training Lassies VII and VIII – The Old Man and Howard – to be used in one revamped television series, another original series, and a final Lassie movie produced by Paramount Studios. He also made a lot of personal appearances with the dogs, and it was amazing to see how many people would show up to see Lassie.”


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The original series is often replayed on cable television and locally on METV, as are the movies. All can be found on DVDs. Although the scripts followed a simple plot, there was something pure and innocent that brought viewers back week after week. There were problems, but Lassie could fix them. “The shows are nostalgic – just classic, wholesome television,” says Mary. “The stars of the show – including Lassie – had moral clauses in their contracts. It was a big deal to put your best foot forward. There were always visits taking place at hospitals, burn centers, etc.”

In 1944, the year after Lassie Come Home played in theaters across America, the collie ranked third on the American Kennel Club list of popular breeds. Today the collie ranks 35th. “Responsible breeding is important,” says Mary. “The Weatherwax collies were bred to be on stage, but to also be healthy, strong and intelligent. I don’t have the talent my dad has, but Gator is certainly capable of learning a wide variety of commands.” “When people talk about Lassie, I always feel slightly amazed – and proud – that I am part of the family and the Lassie phenomenon,” Mary says. Although she is too shy to admit it, she is responsible for the breeding of Lassie IX, otherwise known as Laddie. Even though Gator is Lassie IX’s grandson and carries the classic look of the original Lassie who swam the raging river and made it home to Yorkshire, Mary says she isn’t tempted to head off to the movies any time soon. “I love Aiken – it’s such an animal area – and without the Los Angeles traffic,” she laughs. “I have the farm, my family and my dog.” Eric Knight, the author of the original story that started the Lassie legacy, was killed in a plane crash while serving in World War II. He had visited the set during the filming of Lassie Come Home but didn’t live to see the finished product. He might well be amazed by how his simple, yet heartfelt story of a collie’s struggle to return to the home she loved spurred a love affair with a breed for more than eight decades, and made Lassie the most famous dog in the world.

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The Color of Dogs, from page 12

but worth studying, even if just at a basic level. Every cell in every dog contains his unique DNA, which is the instruction sheet for how his body is composed. In the dog, this DNA comes in 39 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 78 chromosomes. (Humans have only 23 pairs.) The paired chromosomes include a number of genes that contain specific instructions for things such as eye color, coat color, length of legs and so on. A puppy gets one chromosome in each pair from his mother and one from his father. When the mother and the father dog each give the puppy a gene with the same instruction – “make your coat fawn colored,” for instance – then things are fairly simple. The puppy will be fawn colored,

and any puppy he sires in the future will also inherit his gene for fawn coat color. If the mother and the father each give a different instruction (the mother’s DNA calls for a fawn puppy and the father’s calls for a black and tan puppy, for instance) one of those instructions is usually dominant over the other. This means that the puppy will be the color of the dominant gene (in this case fawn) but he will be a carrier for the recessive gene color (in this case black and tan.) If he has puppies in the future, he has a 50 percent chance of passing down a fawn gene and a 50 percent chance of passing down a black and tan gene. If he mates with a fawn-colored female dog that also has a fawn gene and a black and tan gene, about a quarter of their puppies are likely to get a black and tan gene from both parents. Depending on some other factors, these puppies may have black and tan coats, even though both parents are fawn colored. In this case, the parents are both carriers of the recessive black and tan coloration.

It Gets Complicated

So far, so good. But it is never that simple. There are at least eleven different places in a dog’s DNA that contain codes for coat color, and each one has a code for a different set of traits. These places in the DNA are called loci (plural for locus, which just means “place” in Latin.) In some cases, these different genes can coexist with each other and behave in obvious ways. For instance, say a dog has a gene for black, (in the K locus) and also a gene for white spotting (in the S locus.) Then he will be a black and white spotted dog. Or say he has that same gene for black, and also a gene in the B locus that makes black turn brown. Bingo: a brown dog, such as a chocolate Labrador or a liver Pointer. Things get more complicated when you start adding in the loci that suppress or mask the colors that are called for in other places. There are at least two different loci that do this. One, the K locus, can have a gene for dominant black color. If this gene is turned on, the dog’s coat will be black, even if it is “supposed” to be black and tan or fawn (from genes in the A locus.) Another gene, this one in the E locus, can suppress the production


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of any black or brown color in a dog’s coat and make the dog yellow or red instead. A gene in yet another locus might dilute that red coat color to a pale cream or an off-white color. For instance, essentially all Labrador Retrievers have the gene for dominant black coloring in the K locus. Chocolate Labs also have a gene in the B locus that turns black to brown. Yellow Labs may be genetically black or genetically brown, but a gene in the E locus turns them into yellow or red dogs. The gene that makes a dog yellow or red is recessive. This means that in order for it to be turned on and make a yellow dog, the puppy has to inherit one copy from his mother and one from his father. It also means that black or brown Labradors can be carriers of this gene, and you may unexpectedly get some yellow puppies when you breed two dark colored Labs together. (The black and tan Labs that we mentioned earlier would be the rare puppies that did not inherit the dominant black gene in the K locus or the recessive red gene in the E locus.) The Golden Dog with Black and Tan and Brindle Puppies So what does this mean for the yellow Golden Retriever mix who gave birth to a litter of black and tan and brindle puppies? Because this dog probably has the genes in the E locus that suppress all black coloring in her coat, there is no way of knowing exactly what other colors she might be genetically without doing a DNA test. If she did not have those “masking” genes in the E locus, she might have been a black and tan or brindle dog herself. What we do know is this. Black and tan is recessive, and so if the golden dog’s puppies are black and tan, they must have inherited a black and tan gene from both their mother and the father, even though it is very possible that neither dog has a black and tan coat. Brindle coloring, which is recessive to dominant black in the K locus, but dominant over another mutation that does not have an effect on coat color, could have come from either the mother or the father, even though it is possible (even likely) that neither parent was a brindle dog. Since half the puppies are golden, we know the father was not golden himself, but was carrying one copy of that recessive red coloring on the E locus. Do these colors say anything about the dog’s breed or the breed of her puppies? Not really. All three colors (yellow, black and tan, and brindle) are very common in many breeds. They are even more common as hidden, recessive colors in breeds where you don’t expect to see them, such as in Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Pointers. Since the mother has already been identified as a sporting dog cross of some sort, a litter of puppies with some golden, some black and tans and some brindles is probably about what you would expect if you crossed her with any average, mixed breed dog.

Good Colors

All dogs are originally descended from wolves, which have much less variability in coat color than dogs do. Exactly when did all the different mutations occur that led to the rainbow of coat colors we have today? That is still a subject of study. Many of the genetic mutations are very old, tracing back to the time when dogs first separated from wolves. Some of these genes are probably more recent mutations that arose, or were encouraged to spread, as the modern dog breeds were established. Some of the earliest research on dog domestication showed that some colors, especially white patches in the coat, seem to be associated with the process of domestication itself. A few of the colors of dogs are associated with inherited diseases and disorders. For instance, the mottled merle color found in collies and Australian Cattle dogs can result in deaf puppies if the puppies get the merle gene from both parents. The harlequin (black and white) color found in Great Danes can result in stillborn or sickly puppies if they get the harlequin gene from both parents. Most dog colors, however, are not connected to any genetic disease or disability. In purebred dogs, coat color is often an important trait that helps establish the breed’s distinctive look. In mixed breed dogs, coat color may give a hint about the breeds the dog is descended from, but it is just as likely to be misleading. (How many mixed breed dogs are called Rottweiler mixes just because they happen to be black and tan?) True dog lovers agree, however, that the color of the dog’s coat is not as important as the content of his character. A good dog can’t be a bad color.

Summer 2013

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dispositions. Generations of great temperaments. Health/dispositions guaranteed. Breeders of terriers for 30+ years. Donna Fitzpatrick. 803.648.3137. www.easyjacks. com & & Albrecht 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. 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

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Regional Calendar of Events

Conway, an adoptable dog at the Albrecht SPCA in Aiken devours a good book with a volunteer from the new Read and Relax program.

June 1-2

Piedmont Border Collie Association Obedience Test. Durham Kennel Club, 7318 Guess Road, Durham, NC. David Raper, 919.245.0553,, www. 1-2 Cape Fear Retriever Club Hunting Test. Pembroke Farms, Rocky Point, NC. Andrea Meisse, 910.675.9726, ameisse@ 7-9 Palmetto Obedience Training Club Inc. Dog Show. Northwest Recreation Center, 701 Saxon Avenue, Spartanburg, SC. Rose Schwietert, 864.579.1164, rose.schwietert@gmail. com, 7-9 Moore County Kennel Club of North Carolina Agility Show. Bon-Clyde Learning Center, 3030 Lee Avenue, Sanford, NC. Karen Wlodarski, 843.696.2892,, www. 8-9 Dogwood Rottweiler Club of Metropolitan Atlanta Herding Test and Trial. Sugre Herding Facility, 6985 Matt Hwy, Cumming, GA. Cathy Karidel, 770.887.9195, sugre95@aol. com, 8-9 Western NC Dog Show. WNC Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher, NC. 336.379.9352, mbf@ 13 Yappy Hour. 5-8pm. Cash bar, ice cream and bluegrass band. SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Road, Aiken, SC. 15-16 Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association Dog Show. Haywood County Fairgrounds, 758 Crabtree Road,


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26 28 29-30 29-30


Waynesville, NC. 336.379.9352,, www. Central Carolina Poodle Club Agility Show. Bon-Clyde Learning Center, 3030 Lee Avenue, Sanford, NC. Laurene Galgano, 757.481.4854,, www. . Savannah Dog Training Club Dog Show. Groves High School, 100 Priscilla D. Thomas Way, Savannah, GA. Ginger Robertson, 912.308.1007,, www. Cherryville Beagle Club Field Trial. Indian Beagle Club, End of Powell Road, Vale, NC. Judy Proctor, 704.462.0999. Pee Dee River Beagle Club Field Trial. Indian Beagle Club, End of Powell Road, Vale, NC. Judy Proctor, 704.462.0999. Carolina Lure Coursing Society Show. Polo Field, 130 Polo Lane, Camden, SC. Donna Richards, 704.443.6264, tntskids@ Border Collie Club of Greater Atlanta Hunting Test and Trial. Crooked Post Farm, 560 Moutain Road, Woodstock, GA. Greg Benkiser, 706.866.0684,

10-14 Agility Trial. Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, 401 Larry Walker Parkway, Perry, GA. Jim Macke, 404.667.1878,, 11 Yappy Hour. 5-8pm. Cash bar, music. SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Road, Aiken, SC. 13 SPCA Dog Wash. 10am-2pm. Cold Creek Nursery, Hitchcock Parkway, Aiken, SC.

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13-14 Durham Kennel Club Inc. Obedience Trial and Rally. NetSports, 3717 Davis Drive, Morrisville, NC. Tracy Fletcher, 919.460.7944,, www.durhamkennelclub. com. 20-21 Four Paw Agility Club of North Georgia Obedience Trial and Rally. Gwinnett County Fair Grounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville, GA. Christopher Brooks, 864.292.0876, 4paw_ 25-28 Greenville Dog Show. TD Convention Center, 1 Expositon Avenue, Greenville, SC. 336.379.9352,, www. 26-28 Agility Trial. Cloud Livestock Facility, 1300 E. River Road, Bainbridge, GA. June Ebert, 813.983.1997,,


Cape Fear Dog Training Club Obedience Trial. Cape Fear DTC Facility, 2463 Companion Court, Fayetteville, NC. Roberta Pylate, 910.987.1936, 8 Yappy Hour – Warhowl Your Pet. 5-8pm. Paint your own pet portrait. SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Road, Aiken, SC. 8-11 Agility Trial. Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, 4751 Highway 49 North, Concord, NC. Laurene Galgano, 757.481.4854,, 10 SPCA Dog Wash. 10am-2pm. Cold Creek Nursery, Hitchcock Parkway, Aiken, SC. 13-18 Greensboro Dog Show. Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W Lee Street, Greensboro, NC. 336.379.9352, mbf@infodog. com, 3-4

This kitty is up for adoption at the Aiken SPCA

Agility Trial. Bon-Clyde Learning Center, 3030 Lee Avenue, Sanford, NC. Janet Slothower, 615.945.1929, janetslothower@, 22-25 Atlanta Dog Show. Atlanta Exposition Center South, 3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA. 405.427.8181,, 31-Sept.2 Raleigh Dog Show. NC State Fairgrounds, 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC. 336.379.9352,, www.akc. org. 14

September Agilty Trial. Wills Park Equestrian Center, Wills Coliseum, 11915 Wills Road, Alpharetta, GA. Chris Danielly, 770.787.7470,, 7-8 Augusta German Shepherd Dog Club Show and Rally. Riverside Park, 4431 Hardy McManus Road, Evans, GA. Diane Boykin, 706.284.6455,, www.augustagsdclub. com. 12 Yappy Hour. 5-8pm. Cash bar, Music by Bogie, Guest author Gwen Cooper. SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Road, Aiken, SC. 13 Central Georgia Beagle Club Field Trial. 200 Thompson Creek Road, Hampton, GA. Joe Hodges, 770.757.9782, 13-15 SPCA Adoptathon. PetSmart, Whiskey Road, Aiken, SC. Www. 13-15 Pinehurst Dog Show. Pinehurst Harness Track and Polo Field, NC Highway 5, Pinehurst, NC. 336.379.9352, approvals@, 13-15 Shetland Sheepdog Club of Georgia, Inc. Agility Trial. Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center, Calvary Church Road, Gainesville, GA. Chris Danielly, 770.787.7470, cdanielly@aol. com, 14 SPCA Dog Wash. 10am-2pm. Cold Creek Nursery, Hitchcock Parkway, Aiken, SC. 14 Pendleton Gundog Beagle Club of South Carolina Hunting Test. Pendleton Gundog Beagle Club, Pendleton, SC. Jim Hill, 864.225.3362. 14-16 Precious Time Adoption Special. SPCA Albrecht Center, 199 Willow Run Road, Aiken, SC. 16 Lure Beagle Club Field Trial. Clubhouse & Running Grounds, Pea Ridge Road, Bostic, NC. William Lemon, 828.245.0344. 20-22 Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association Agility Trial. Haywood County Fairgrounds, 758 Crabtree Road, Waynesville, NC. Jayne Abbot, 818.713.3278,, www. 21 Lana-PAW-looza. Tail Waggin’ Walk, Run for Their Lives 5K, and many more exciting new events to come! Www.spca-albrecht. org. 21-22 Winston-Salem Dog Training Club, Inc. Obedience Trial and Rally. Winston-Salem Dog Training Club, 3800 Bethania Station Road, Winston-Salem, NC. Olivia Perkins, 336.766.9081, opp@, 27 Central Savannah River Area Retriever Club Field Trial. Running Grounds, Lincolnton, GA. Tara Wilkes Jordan, 912.526.6757, 27-29 Greater Columbia Obedience Club Inc. Agility Trial. South Congaree Horse Arena, 301 Oak Street, West Columbia, SC. Karen Wlodarski, 843.696.2892,, www.gcoc. net. 28-29 German Shepherd Dog Club of Atlanta Dog Show. Wills Park Equestrian Center, Wills Coliseum, 11915 Wills Road, Alpharetta, GA. Kathy Gross, 678.480.1822, atlgsdshowentry@, 28-29 Piedmont Kennel Club, Inc. Dog Show. Piedmont Kennel Club Showplace, 13607 Choate Circle, Charlotte, NC. 336.379.9352,, 6-8

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On Their Way Home by Pam Gleason


ne Monday evening in early June, ten dogs that had been cared for by the Friends of Mary’s Dogs Foster Network arrived at BarkMart, a pet supply store and grooming facility in Graniteville, S.C. Once there, each dog had a bath, a blow dry and a final grooming before setting out on the next phase of his or her life. The dogs were large and small. Some were adults; some puppies. They came in all colors and shapes. There was little Isabella, a black and tan Dachshund-type who was once mistakenly labeled as aggressive. There was Bell, a striking white pointer mix with speckled ears and a sweet expression. Lacey was a long and elegant black puppy with huge ears that couldn’t decide if they wanted to stand up or fold over. Harry, a gold and white collie with a beautiful smile, looked as though he would learn to read and drive a car if given the opportunity. Just a few weeks before this, all of these dogs were pulled from the Aiken County Animal shelter by Annette Van Der Walt for Mary’s Dogs, a dog rescue and adoption agency in Deerfield, New Hampshire. When they left the shelter, the dogs went home with Friends of Mary’s Dogs volunteers. On Sunday, Dr. Sybil Davis, the owner of Aiken Pet Fitness and Rehabilitation, gave them their final vetting. After their grooming on Monday, (expertly conducted by December Clark who owns BarkMart with her husband Kenny) Annette took them home for the night. On Tuesday morning, they were loaded into a transport van and shipped to New Hampshire. They spent a state-mandated 48 hours in quarantine, and then were ready to meet their forever families on Saturday morning. Most of the dogs already had adopters waiting for them in New England. A few were still looking for a family, but none would wait long. Every dog going on this transport was the kind of dog you would like to spend time with, the kind you could see being your best friend. Anyone who wants to own a dog would love dogs like these. Mary’s Dogs has been transporting from the Aiken County Animal Shelter for almost two years. Friends of Mary’s Dogs Foster Network, however, is a new organization that got its start this March. Right now the network consists of a handful of volunteers. Mary Lou Seymour, who manages the Facebook page and interviews applicants to the program, says that they are looking for more foster homes, stressing that the more homes they have, the more dogs can be saved. “It’s a short-term commitment,” says Mary Lou. “Once the dogs are pulled from the shelter, they are the property of Mary’s Dogs - we’re


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just babysitting them. Mary’s Dogs pays for their food, their shots, and whatever else they need. The fosters keep them for two to three weeks, and then they go on the transport.” Mary’s Dogs takes four to ten dogs from Aiken about every three weeks. “It’s a good way to get into fostering,” says Mary Lou. “And a great way to help out the animals.” People interested in being in the program should have a fenced yard. They also need a vet reference, and a home visit is usually required. Other than that, all you need is a desire to help. “We’ll see how it goes,” says Mary Lou. “If we get enough fosters, we might be able to expand, and maybe foster for other rescues that want to take our dogs.” Over the past 15 years or so, an underground railroad has sprung up in America, transporting dogs from the overpopulated South to the sparsely populated North. In places like Aiken, there are many great dogs that need good homes. In places like New Hampshire, there are many good homes that need great dogs. The underground railroad, like the rescue movement that runs it, relies on a nationwide community of volunteers, people who give their time and their energy for the simple pleasure of knowing that they have helped another creature. The Friends of Mary’s Dogs Foster Network is one part of this national community that has helped drop estimated euthanasia numbers at American shelters by as much as 70% since the late 1990s. For the dogs that left Aiken this June, of course, national trends and statistics are not important. The dogs may not know how they ended up in the shelter, or how they got out of it. They may not know why they are suddenly the center of attention, being groomed and petted and told what good dogs they are. But all of the dogs on the grooming table that Monday evening did seem to share one thing in common. They all had glimmers in their eyes that looked an awful lot like hope. Some were more cautious, some more exuberant, but all seemed to know that something good was happening to them. Somewhere deep down, they must have known they were on their way home. If you would like to be a part of Friends of Mary’s Dogs Foster Network, contact Mary Lou Seymour by email:

Summer 2013

Summer 2013

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Profile for The Dog and Hound

Dog and hound summer 2013  

Our Summer 2013 has features on the SLED tracking dogs owned by the Aiken Sherriff's office, the colors of dogs and what they mean, Aiken's...

Dog and hound summer 2013  

Our Summer 2013 has features on the SLED tracking dogs owned by the Aiken Sherriff's office, the colors of dogs and what they mean, Aiken's...