Kizzy’s first point!

Kizzy earned her first point towards her AKC championship on April 26th!

To become an AKC Champion of Record…

…dogs must earn 15 points.  Points are awarded on a scale of 1-5, based on the number of dogs defeated at that show.  The larger the entry, the greater the number of points won. 

For each breed, there is only one male (males are called “Dogs”) and one female (females are called “Bitches”) that can win points towards their championship that day.

Point scales varies by breed, gender and geographical location. For instance, in Iowa for Danes, it takes 10 Dogs for a 3-point win and 17 Bitches for a 3-point win. 

Wins of 3, 4 or 5 points are considered “major” wins.  In order to become a champion, dogs need to win at least two majors, under different judges.   Points also need to be awarded by one additional judge, so at least three different judges need to award a dog points. 

More info on counting points

At a conformation show, judges are looking to see how closely the dogs conform to their breed standard. They examine (“go over”) each dog with their hands to see if the teeth, muscles, bones and coat texture conform to their breed standard. They view each dog in profile for overall balance, and watch each dog gait (move) to see how all of those features fit together in action.

AKC’s Dog Shows For Beginners


Raw Diet – purchasing

A lot of people interested in feeding a raw diet want to know how and where raw feeders acquire meat to feed.  Most raw feeders – especially those of larger breeds/multiple dogs – buy in bulk.
Cases of turkey necks, pork neck bones & chicken leg quarters
Cases containing turkey necks, chicken leg quarters & pork neck bones

I buy most of my raw meaty bones (RMB) from a local restuarant supplier, Potthoff Foods, in Des Moines.  Most of the items I purchase there need thawed enough for repacking, then refrozen in meal size quantities until needed.

My last trip to Potthoffs (3/12/09), I picked up one 40 lb case of chicken leg quarters ($.49/lb), one 30 lb case of turkey necks ($.79/lb), one 40.10 lb case of pork ribs ($1.69/lb), and one 30 lb case of pork neckbones ($.69/lb), for a total of $131.77.
some of the meat already bagged
some of the meat already bagged

For a point of reference, my previous trip to Potthoffs was on 1/23/09 and consisted of: one 40 lb case of chicken quarters ($.49/lb – prices can vary from trip to trip), one 40 lb case of chicken backs ($.59/lb), one 30 lb case of turkey necks ($.79/lb) and one 30 lb case of pork neck bones ($.69/lb) for a total of $83.60.

I am feeding two adult Great Danes, but keep in mind that I do feed more than just these RMB
After I get the meat home, I typically let it sit outside to thaw.  If the weather is too cold or hot, I bring it into the basement and let it thaw in a plastic tote.  I prefer not to do this as I have to lug it downstairs and then back up to the deep freezer in the garage! 
chicken leg quarters
chicken leg quarters
turkey necks
turkey necks
pork neck bones
pork neck bones

Usually I feed the dogs in a x-pen set up in 0ur basement, but they were “helping” me while I was bagging the meat, so they just ate their dinner outside.

Kizzy enjoying a turkey neck
Kizzy enjoying a turkey neck
Skyy making short work of a turkey neck
Skyy making short work of a turkey neck

Water fun!

Enjoying some much appreciated warmer weather, we played at a local park.  Kizzy’s first time in the water and she really took to it!

Kizzy loves to submerge her face!

Getting very bold!  A little encouragement and I’m sure she would have been swimming.  (Still too chilly for me to be out there!)

All the water fun gave her the zoomies!

Skyy perferred to stay on dry land..

International Championship & CGC

A hearty congratulations to Bree, and owner Tiana, for Bree’s new International title.  A big congratulations as well to Gracie, and owners Les & Becca, for Gracie’s newly earned CGC.

International Championships
There are different types of international championships.  Typically, in the US when you hear about Int’l titles, it refers to the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA).  There is also an International Championship that refers to a dog earning a championship in three different countries.

IABCA offers a relaxed venue.  You will see some exhibitors wearing more casual clothing, like jeans.  There are more owner-handles than professional handlers.

Dogs don’t compete against each other, rather they are judged individually against their breed standard.  When showing in AKC, only one male and one female of each breed can receive points towards their championship at a show.  For more information on showing your dog in AKC conformation events, check out Dog Showing For Beginners.

At an IABCA show, each dog receives a written critique from each judge.

Bree earned the highest rating at puppy can achieve from all four judges – SG1 – earning her national and international puppy titles.  See the IABCA rating chart.

IABCA showing doesn’t replace AKC showing, but offers a great training opportunity, plus another fun way to get out and compete with your dogs.

CGC – Canine Good Citizencgc
The Canine Good Citizen is a program through the AKC.  The purpose is to promote responsible dog owners, focusing on the necessary training and socialization required to make our companions good canine citizens.

The test consists of 10 parts that a dog must pass in order to earn their CGC.  Any dog can participate in the CGC, including mixed breeds!  If your dog is AKC registered, “CGC” can be added after their registered name and AKC will store the information.

CGC is a certification program, designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community.

The 10 items in a CGC:
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
Test 7: Coming when called
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
Test 9: Reaction to distraction
Test 10: Supervised separation

For more information on these 10 items, visit AKC’s websiteFind CGC tests in your area

Vaccinosis – reaction to vaccine

Had a bit of a scare with Skyy this past weekend.

Saturday night, she became increasingly uncomfortable. She acted as if maybe she was nauseous, swallowing repeatedly.  She kept swallowing these big gulps of air and was obviously distressed.  I couldn’t determine what was wrong, so squeezed some Phazyme (gas relief) capsules down her throat, out of concern about bloat.

Over the course of the night, she wasn’t improving and seemed to be getting worse.  My concern grew.  Loaded up and headed to the ER vet around 4:00 AM.  Upon initial evaluation, the vet was quick to blame our raw feeding method, even hinting at the chance of salmonella. (ha)

We did x-rays of her stomach & trachea and a blood panel.  After several hours at the ER clinic, nothing could be determined, so an anti-nausea injection was given and I took her home, with instruction to give a Pepcid-AC once a day for the next couple of days and continue to monitor her.

Skyy was still uncomfortable and continued the swallowing air, along with some gagging and retching.  I took her into my regular vet on Tuesday for observation, concerned that we might be dealing with some sort of impaction.  I had been feeding way too much bone lately and became concerned that might be the problem.  Raw bone is digestible, but too much bone (in relation to meat) in the dog’s diet can cause constipation.  Thankfully, my vet was able to rule that out, although we were all still stumped on what could be wrong.

Tuesday evening, Kizzy started doing the odd swallowing, as well as some gagging.  She wasn’t in distressed state and her symptoms were more subtle.  In fact, her symptoms were so minor, I wouldn’t have paid them a lot of attention if they weren’t mimicking Skyy’s more severe symptoms.

After Kizzy started with her symptoms, I started looking at other ideas of the problem.  Both dogs had been given an intra-nasal kennel cough vaccine the previous Monday.  Upon some research and follow up discussion with both my mentor and my vet, it was determined that we were dealing with a reaction to the vaccination, also known as vaccinosis.  Any adverse reaction to any vaccine can be classified as vaccinosis.  It seems to be a rather broad term, encompassing minor reactions all the way to serious reactions, including death. 

In this case, my dogs weren’t infected with kennel cough, rather their reaction was due to something being sprayed up their nose.  The allergic reaction in the trachea and bronchial tree caused inflammation and subsequent irritation of the throat. 

To give a little more detail about kennel cough vaccines, there are two ways to administer – an injectable or intra-nasal.  The intra-nasal is preferred for both a faster  and better immunity response.  Because of the nature of kennel cough, being picked up through the nasal passages, there is also a believed benefit in the location specific antibodies.

When reporting the adverse reaction to the vaccine manufacturer, I spoke with a staff veterinarian.  Less than 5% of dogs have a reaction to this vaccine (what luck!).  Treating the dogs’ reaction with Benadryl would have likely taken care of it.  To have known that $300 (and lots of worry) ago!

To report adverse vaccine reactions in dogs, you (or  your vet) can go directly to the USDA website or contact the vaccine manufacturer.  I went through the vaccine manufacturer and then they will report it to the USDA. 

I’ve been a long time believer in a limited vaccination protocol, due to problems like vaccinosis and the fact that repeated vaccinations do not improve immune response.

For those unfamiliar with a limited vaccination protocol, this is the vaccination schedule we use:

8 – 9 weeks Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (Modified Live Virus)
No 5- or 7-way combos
12-13 weeks
(4 weeks after 1st)
Same as above 
6 months or older Rabies 
1 year Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV
1 year Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 2-4 weeks apart from distemper/parvovirus booster)


Instead of annually repeating parvo/distemper vaccinations, I titer my dogs.  A titer checks for antibodies in the blood, to get a picture of the dog’s immunity to specific viruses.  I strongly recommend titering, as opposed to blindly vaccinating.  A titer is noninvasive and only requires a simple blood draw, so any vet can perform a titer.  The blood sample is sent away to a lab and then the results come back within a few weeks.  In the years that I’ve been titering my dogs, the results always come back showing an appropriate immunity level.

I have also recommended the kennel cough vaccination every 6-12 months for dogs routinely exposed to other dogs.  At this point, I’m unsure if I’ll continue to give kennel cough.  The vet believes that Skyy’s reaction was a one-time deal (it was the first time she had the intra-nasal), but I’m still hesitant.

Thankfully, Skyy is almost back to normal.

A tired dog is a good dog…

How do you curb the excess energy of a 10 month old 120 lb puppy in inclement weather?

Evidence A

With the severely cold weather and the constant snow cover (daily romps are treacherous right now), it’s been a struggle to fulfill Kizzy’s exercise needs.  Subsequently, she has been just a tad on the crazy side lately (evidence A).

We do manage to get a little exercise outside, but not nearly enough. 

down stay
down stay

One thing we do is practice obedience inside. Obedience training isn’t a replacement for exercise, but it helps  curb some of the crazy by offering the dog a little outlet for mental and physical (albeit small) stimulus.  Not to mention the obvious benefits of training!

You can also play games like hide-n-seek inside with the dog – by hiding people or toys/treats and encouraging the dog to find. Dogs can learn this game quickly.  Take a treat and place it in plain sight, then tell the dog to “find it!” and allow him/her to go get the treat.  As the dog starts to learn the “find it” command, increase the difficulty.  With the dog watching, put the treat behind/under something easy and then give the command.  Work up to doing this while the dog isn’t even in the room.  They will quickly learn how to find the treats.

Of course, always a fall back is the chewie.  I’m not a fan of raw hide chews as too many dogs swallow large pieces of them, which has caused blockages.  Instead, we typically offer bully sticks or raw beef knuckle bones, which can often be picked up at your butcher’s for a decent price. 

The dogs trying out some cow hooves:


Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!  Find a way to offer some outlets for your dog so they don’t find their own!

Chilly Playdate

We had a very chilly winter play date that included four littermates (Kizzy, Bree, Greta & Reese), three other Danes (Maddie, Clay & Ethan) and a very teeny (10 lbs!) puppy named Winnie.

The dogs all had a blast running and playing..

Four littermates playing
Four littermates playing


Bree getting Kizzy
Bree getting Kizzy

Kizzy getting Greta
Kizzy getting Greta

The end result was some very tired puppies!

For more pictures of the play date, visit the photo gallery.