The Peeing Post

Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature

Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen

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Dear Dog Friend,

Your editor It is summer! The time of the year most dogs like the least. It's too warm for many of them.

Unfortunately, this makes many people think that they can do their four-legged long-haired friend a favor by shaving off that thick coat…

The truth of this matter is that shaving off the coat will leave the dog even more cruelly exposed to the heat than before!

We cannot use a human standard here, because dogs are not built like we are. We humans have sweat glands all over the body. Those glands produce sweat - which is mainly water. The water will evaporate. Water holds the world championship among all known chemicals in the discipline of carrying heat away when evaporating. To evaporate a drop of water takes more than five times as much heat as it takes to bring that same amount of water from melting to boiling! This means that evaporating water is a very effective way of cooling a body in hot weather. That's why we sweat. That's one good reason for a dog to pant.

But water can only evaporate well when there is a good supply of fresh dry air. That's why we get overheated when we wear too many clothes in hot whether. The clothes restrict evaporation from our skin, so we do not get the cooling effect we need from our sweating.

But dogs have no sweat glands, except in their mouth and between the pads of the paws. On the body: not a single one! So taking off clothes or coat or insulation in order to stay cool by allowing effective sweating is not an issue for them at all.

This means that they don't have that need we have for ridding the body of clothes to avoid overheating! It is the opposite: keeping a thick coat actually protects the dog from the heat! Insulation knows no direction. What insulates well against cold insulates equally well against heat. Fundamental physics…

Let me give two examples to illustrate this:

  1. Many years ago, I visited Morocco (west coast of Africa - neighbor to the Sahara Desert). It was hot - and I did not like the heat. I wondered how the heck the Arabs could get along with their fashion: they all wore those long, thick woollen coats, called "kaftans", covering almost their feet too. I thought they were crazy - until I got to try one on. That totally changed my perception! It was cool to wear! The thick wool protected well against the heat and because there was plenty of air circulation inside, the body could sweat and maintain a comfortable low temperature. (Yes, I bought one, right away - and actually enjoyed the rest of my stay…).


  2. I spent many years in Europe doing Search & Rescue dog training. Dog associations and emergency preparedness organizations from Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, and Italy wanted me to assist setting up training and education systems for them - and train their trainers. First time in Italy, it was very hot. I did not expect any dog to be willing to do much work, but I prepared the handlers and trainers to keep the dogs wet while they were working. Regardless our measures, we did not have much performance - except from the longhaired dogs with a good thick coat! They were the only ones that could handle the heat! The prime illustration came from a Danish dog handler who had two Giant Schnauzers. He lamented and apologized for not having had time to shave more than one of them before the training, the other one still carrying a thick coat. But reality was that only the one with the coat intact was willing to do any work - the other one was determined to stay in the shade, regardless what happened!

I guess the conclusions can be drawn by you from here…

 

Ticks

Nice hot weather brings the ticks out. There are many different species, and they live in all kinds of vegetation, so it is next to impossible to completely avoid them.

The best prevention is to comb the dog right after a walk in the woods or in grassland. Many ticks check their host for an hour or two before they decide for a good spot to dig their jaws in… As long as they are merely crawling in the coat, you can just grab them and kill them. On my white dogs, this is simple. But on a black dog, it is not easy to see those beasts. You may not identify them until you pet the dog and feel them…

When you discover a tick, there is really only one thing to do: get it out. All of it. I mean: the entire tick. You may have found that those devils are so adamant about keeping their jaws in the dog's flesh that they will rather break into pieces than giving up! This will most often lead to your leaving the head with the jaws in the dog, holding on only to the decapitated body… (This is still better than having a live tick sitting there, but the remains can cause a skin irritation that leads to development of a fairly big abscess.)

Here is a sure way to get them out. Whole.

Go and get a pop - with a nice thin straw. Make friends with someone who has long hair and ask for a donation of one hair. (If it is a woman, you should make a compliment first.) Make a double loop on the hair and pull it over the straw, like a log tie knot.

Then, approach the dog with your weapon. Find the tick and move all the dog's hairs away from the spot. Slide the straw over the tick's body, without getting any dog hairs squeezed in also. The purpose of the straw is two-fold: 1) it must separate the tick from the dog's hairs; 2) it must provide an easy way for you to now push the double loop of the long hair down along the straw, so it ends up as a noose around the neck of the tick, without holding any dog hairs trapped also.

You may now take the straw away and tighten the hair around the tick. You then pull the tick out by the hair. (There are many jokes still to be developed about this…)

The purpose of the hair is to make sure that you don't pull too hard, so you break the neck of the tick. The hair will break before the tick's neck. This kind of pull (in small jerks, if you feel like it...) will annoy the tick so much that it will look for another spot - and when it lets go of its grip, it is your prey!

But now the aftermath: you need that tick! Don't just kill it and throw it away! Kill it - OK. But bring it to the vet nevertheless…

Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if the tick had Lyme Disease or not. Lyme Disease is an unpleasant bacterial infection that can cause nerve damage and lameness for the dog. If the tick was free of this disease, you don't need to bring in the dog. If, however, the tick did carry Lyme Disease, you will need to give your dog a shot of antibiotics to deal effectively with the very possible infection before it does any damage.

Yes, I know - there are many other profitable ways of dealing with this. One is to vaccinate the dog against Lyme Disease. The vaccine is available, yet the scientific results so far show that the vaccine (particularly when given in combination with other vaccines) causes far more problems than the disease itself... (your vet may not like this - but I have my information directly from the world's biggest vaccine manufacturer, E. Merck in Germany. It is public information - it is only a matter of actually reading what is written in that thick "bible" of pharmaceutical products that is the standard reference encyclopedia also in North America…) Add to this that the disease is simple to treat and cure, once diagnosed. Vaccination makes no sense. You and your dog are better off giving your vet a donation. That will at least not harm the dog….

You may also take the warning about the presence of Lyme Disease carrying ticks in your area with some healthy skepticism.

For many years, the veterinarians in the Vancouver area of BC have displayed warnings to their clients about ticks. "Tick can carry Lyme Disease". Scary…. When you then also see warning signs on the bulletin boards at the entrances to the public parks where you like to walk your dog, then you are convinced that it is time to be spooked…

The signs will say something to the effect of "the species of tick that is know to carry Lyme Disease is known to be present in this park". Danger, right?!

Wrong! Did that text actually say that the ticks in this park are known to carry Lyme Disease? Read again. You see, it doesn't. If you check with the Ministry of Agriculture and with the Veterinarian Association, you will find out that Lyme Disease has not yet been shown to exist in any tick in any park in entire BC at all! But, in Ontario, this species of tick has been known positively to carry Lyme Disease in a few cases….

Well, Ontario is as far away from BC as New York from Los Angeles. It is pretty far for a sick tick to travel that cannot fly….

So why do vets do this? First of all: they get the information directly from their Professional Association. They do not have time to check all this out for themselves - and seriously: they should not have to. But veterinarian associations are nothing more and nothing less than a Union for veterinarians. As any union, it is concerned about jobs and business for its members. And, as for any union, members are best off not criticizing their union bosses - in this case, it can cost them their license to practice…

You draw your own conclusions from that, but please don't blame your veterinarian - he/she does not have a choice, and your dog's life might one day depend on your diplomacy in this matter....

 

 

Cheers and woof,

Mogens Eliasen

 

If you have any comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in general pertaining to dogs, please respond - if I can find an answer for you, I will!

If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, I will be happy to know about them. (Please no anonymous contacts, though...)

 

PS. Summer camp is becoming a reality! I found a place near wells Gray Park in BC that will host people plus dogs - and has room enough for all of us. It is a camp ground, so you can bring your tent or RV - or rent a trailer. Alternatively, there are many motels in the area in various price ranges too.

I am planning on doing July 13-20 and August 17-24 for people who have done training with me or Human Dog Leadership before.

July 6-13 and August 10-17 will be for people who have not. (They could make it two weeks, for that matter…)

Groups sizes minimum 5 dogs and maximum 10. Family, including kids, welcome - but training of those will not be my responsibility…

The nearest General Store is only a small dog walk from the campground. We have lots of great terrain in the North Thompson Valley (lots of shade!) and we will also arrange sightseeing to Wells Gray Park, maybe also a hiking trip for the brave ones…

I will come back with more details in a few days.

And remember: I don't train your dog. YOU do! I will teach you how to, though - but without touching your leash…