"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 14:  April 16, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  The Ignorance of Authority
=>  Breed of the Week - Shar Pei
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  The Burial Plot

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Folks!

Have you ever, even if you love your job, been in a rut and just felt like saying "Screw it! I'm tired of all this!" Well, I was at this point here recently. Then, on Easter morning something happened that slapped my little butt back to reality.

I have several projects going on right now and have been a little stretched for time. I have been trying to keep everything up but I must admit, time management is not my strong suit when I am over loaded. I was getting behind, tired and a bit anxious to finish up the things I need to get done. I have been in front of the computer 15-18 hours a day and on top of it, I just hit my busy time of the year for in-home training. Trying to keep it all going was a little taxing.

So, I am sitting here at the computer on Easter morning at 2:30 A.M., working on a program, and I see a shadow go by my window. I knew it was a dog and just figured it was a wild dog or coyote. The house was completely dark except for the computer screen, and with my window blinds, no light should have shown outside.

I went back to work, thinking nothing of it; then, I heard something at the door. I immediately recognized it wasn't a wild dog but someone's pet. I opened the door and found the sweetest dog I have met in a long time. She was scared, lost and just looking for someplace safe. I let her in the house and gave her some water. She was so appreciative and loving.

At first I was a little pissed. I thought, "Who lets a beauty like this get out? A damn irresponsible owner!" She needed a good grooming and I needed to finish my work. Needless to say, the grooming took precedence. Unfortunately, my grooming gear was upstairs and I didn't want to wake up my daughter, as she was ready to wake up and see what the Easter Bunny had brought. As a result, I got my brush and scissors and groomed her up.

At about 4:00 A.M. I had to sleep so I put a blanket on the floor and went to bed. When I woke up, my new friend had managed to get under my cover with me. I awoke to grateful doggie kisses just before my alarm was scheduled to go off. The only way I can think of to wake up better would have been to wake up with the actress Lucy Lui licking my face! It was a wonderful second place though!

As I awoke to those loving kisses, I realized everything I have been doing is worth the stress and long hours. Her sweet and loving nature didn't care about anything other than being appreciative to me for allowing her into my home and loving her. She asked for nothing more than a loving hand on her head and a warm place to sleep. She restored my dedication to the beast and made my stress seem insignificant and trivial.

Easter morning, I called the number on her tag and her owner came and picked her up. He was an older guy who just wasn't ready for the dog he got. I offered to train her for free and he accepted. It seemed the least I could do for the dog that restored my energy and faith in what I do.

Today, if you are feeling down and out, go to your dog, lie down and allow them to love you up a little bit. You will not only feel better, you will feel rejuvenated and restored. The beast is willing to give us so much love and joy, but rarely do we ever take advantage of it. Me included. It took a lovely little girl named “Petie” to restore everything I know is right. Hug your dog and let her hug you back. You won't be disappointed.


Okay people, that's all for now. Keep the letters and comments coming.

I'm outta here!



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The Ignorance of Authority

A month or so ago, I wrote an article about the ineffectiveness of breed banning. A few weeks ago, I mentioned in an article how under-trained many county officials who work for the Department of Animal Control are. This week I read an article that simply proves my point about the latter and also reinforces what I have always said about how we need to stay current as dog owners about legislation in our area.

The City of Dallas, Texas has a law in place making it illegal to sell products from your home. When I called the City Attorneys office to inquire about the law, their representative, who refused to allow me to use her name, said it was intended to stop people from selling “products” to the public in a retail styled operation. She said it wasn't designed to target dog owners selling their litters but the way the legislation was written, puppies would fall under the legal description of a “product.”

The Ignorant

Lady Higgens and her daughter, Lisa, have started a two-woman campaign to have individuals selling their litters of puppies in city limits prosecuted by the City Attorneys office. These ignorant, but I am sure well meaning, women are using this law to try to put puppy mills out of business.

Now they aren't just trying to get officials to investigate these matters, they have decided on the Nancy Drew approach. They respond to ads in the newspaper, go to the house on the guise of being a potential owner, photo the puppies and then file a complaint with the City Attorneys office. Kent Robertson a manager with the Dallas Animal Control office has praised their efforts.

As of the time of this writing, six cases have been brought to court. Of those six, four have been thrown out, one is waiting a decision from the judge and one individual was fined $250.00. None of these individuals have been determined to be running puppy mills and, in fact, only one individual has ever bred a dog before.


So far their efforts have netted one individual who was given a minimal fine, and not one puppy mill operation has been affected. Thousands of dollars in manpower, court costs and time have been spent as a result of these “investigations.” Where did the money come from? You got it. Your tax dollars. This doesn't count the fees the breeders had to pay to their attorneys and time from work.

What do the breeder's involved say to all of this? Of the two willing to comment, both said in the future they would simply make the drive to the next city to make the sale. So, the only thing that has happened is conscientious breeders have had to go underground in order to continue to breed in an appropriate manner. Congratulations Higgens girls. You have accomplished nothing but to waste the money of the tax paying citizens of the city of Dallas.

I can think of a couple of different things the tax dollars could have been used on. How about additional training for Animal Control Officers? How about forming a public awareness campaign, or adding funds to an existing one, encouraging owners to spay and neuter their dogs? You could even use the money to offer free spay and neutering to low-income families with dogs. These would be effective and intelligent.


First we have to realize if someone wants to breed their dog, they are going to do it. There are several people around the world who are concerned with proper breeding of the species and only breed one or two litters a year from their home. If anyone thinks this type of breeding is a moneymaker, they are a fool. After stud fees, supplements for the mother, medical exams x-rays for pups and mom and food, there is little left once the pups have been sold.

Using legislation like what is in place in Dallas obviously isn't a deterrent to the trade especially with only a one in six conviction rate. I whole-heartedly support the introduction of effective legislation to prevent the operation of puppy mills and inappropriate breeding practices. The key word is “effective.” Equally important is for government employees who work in Animal Control and care to only support actions that will result in a better environment for our dogs and effective legislation and action. For these individuals to support people like the Higgens girls, they are, in my opinion, negligent in the duties they are paid to conduct and obviously not qualified to hold the positions they do.

So, as I said, I have solution or idea. Not the only one but these came to mind as I was contemplating this issue and also solutions the Paws for Change Foundation is considering.

1. Breeder Training and Licensing

I see no reason why individuals who wish to breed their dog should not be expected to go through a half day training session and pay a fee to be licensed to breed their dog. I would have no problem with this myself and don't see why the class and license would be over priced at $250.00

These classes could be taught by volunteer veterinarians, behaviorists or even properly trained city employees and could be conducted in three hours on the weekend. They would be given guidelines to follow regarding the number of times a dog can be bred, requirements for housing, exercise and veterinary care of the animals.

Once licensed, breeders would need to renew their license annually, just like many other trades. They would be required to keep extensive records available for review by buyers and city officials. No more than three breeding bitches would be allowed.

2. Penalties

Individuals who are found to be in violation of the regulations or operating without a license should be severely financially penalized in the thousands of dollars. Their dogs should be seized and held until they have been spayed or neutered at the expense of the owner. Any puppies should be seized and adopted out by rescue operations with the cost of their care being at the expense of the violating breeder. They should also be banned from ever receiving a breeding license in the future.

3. Revenues

Revenues generated from the licensing and fines could be used to support the program, provide additional training for Animal Control officers, update facilities and public awareness campaigns.

Keep in mind, this particular solution is one that came off the top of my head and would need to be fine-tuned. It would be far more effective than what is going on in Dallas, and the dogs would benefit from it in the long run. There are several other things that could be done as well.

States could offer a tax deduction to individuals who adopt a dog from the pound or a non-profit rescue organization or offer free licensing to individuals who pull a dog out of the pound. They could also offer a deduction to people who have their dogs spayed or neutered.

The State may lose a little money from these programs, but at least they would be losing it to meet a greater goal and not flushing it down the toilet like the Higgens girls and Mr. Robertson of Dallas Animal Control seem inclined to do. They say they want to stop puppy mills, but the laws in the city actually support them.

There are only two places in Dallas you can legally buy a dog. One is a retail a pet store. Hate to tell you this, Dallas, but pet stores have long supported puppy mills, although they rarely admit it, by purchasing puppies from them and never investigating the manner in which the puppy was bred, housed or raised. They put in an order and the pups are delivered.

These puppies are then placed in small cages where they live until they are purchased. They are given limited exercise, kennels are often filthy and little and or no veterinary care is given to the dog until sold, if even then. Hmmm? What does this sound like? What's the word? Oh yeah, that's it. It sounds just like a PUPPY MILL!

The second place you can get a puppy is from a commercial breeder. These operations breed for pure profit. The dogs usually live in dog runs, receive minimal exercise or socialization, but are slightly better than the typical puppy mill. We must remember a profit-based business is always looking for ways to cut costs and increase profit. They are rarely inspected, and you have to basically blindly trust the individuals running it.

When I named this article "Ignorance of Authority," I knew it was a harsh title but I think after reading my article you can see it is fitting. Two of the worst places to buy a dog are welcomed by the city and its representatives. The best place for a person to buy a dog - from a conscientious small breeder raising the pups in the home like family - is harassed, dragged into court, and, in most cases, ends up wasting the courts' time and tax payers money. That's ignorant.

It is situations like this, that make it imperative to stay current on, not only pending, but legislation already in place. When you see things as stupid as what is going on in Dallas, you need to do something. Call your elected officials, send them emails, start a petition and find groups like the Paws for Change Foundation that are willing to help.

Again, I fully support strong, intelligent legislation that promotes spay, neutering and appropriate breeding restrictions or requirements. Officials and well meaning citizens need to go after the real “bad guys” out there and quit harassing the very people who are trying to make a difference.

I have a message for the Higgens girls and Dallas Animal Control ...

"Five doggie farts on you! If you want to help, use your head and not the other end!"

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
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A dog is not almost human and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such.

~ John Holmes ~


Shar Pei
Chinese Shar Pei

Have you ever noticed some breeds are at their cutest when they are puppies. The Shar Pei is definitely one of those breeds. Their heavily wrinkled heads and sad expressions have captured the hearts of many enthusiasts since the introduction of the breed to the world outside of China in 1970's. Since that time, the USA has established registered numbers over 70,000 strong.

The breed comes in a couple of different varieties. Some are heavily wrinkled and some have fairly tight skin. The puppies are heavily wrinkled which should decrease as the puppy moves into adulthood. The wrinkles have a definite function but I will get into that later in the article.

They also come in three different types of coats one of which is not recognized by AKC and other clubs around the world. The most common is the brush coat, which is slightly longer and smooth to the touch. Not as common, but still recognized by most clubs, is the horse coat style. The horse coat is rough to the touch and stands upward slightly off the body. It is fairly uncommon and commands a premium price from breeders of the dog.

The majority of kennel clubs around the world do not recognize the bear coat style. This is due to the coat having a secondary undercoat with a topcoat that exceeds one inch in length both of which are disqualifying traits. While the bear coat is popular with non-showing owners, they are rare and could be difficult to find. Some believe the bear coat is the result of the introduction of the Chow Chow, which was done to increase aggressiveness and drive.

Acceptable coat colors include all solid colors and sables. There is a spotted version, however, it is also a disqualifying fault for the ring. Their ears disproportionately small and droop forward. This too was by design and will be explained shortly. Their tails curl tightly and high over the back with the tip often resting on the spine.

The Shar Pei is highly muscled, strong, with an almost box-like form. The head should be large, square with a broad highly padded head. The tongue should be a solid blue-black color with moderate spotting being considered acceptable but not as prized. It is also preferred in adults the wrinkles be limited to the head and neck.

They require minimal grooming and no special clip is required for showing. Regular brushing and bathing is required making sure to keep their wrinkles free of dirt and debris. They are minimal shedders except during the molting season, but it is relatively easy to keep them in top condition even then.

The Shar Pei ranges in height from 18- 21 inches (46-52 cm.) and weighs from 42-56 pounds. (19-26 kg.) They are relatively short lived with a life expectancy 9-10 years of age. They also have a few medical conditions, which can be problematic. They are prone to serious skin conditions that are attributed to inappropriate breeding. They also can suffer from unexplainable fevers and swollen hocks syndrome, which can be symptoms of kidney failure.

They are completely inappropriate for apartment life, but also shouldn't be placed on "open" property that is not properly fenced or secured. This is due to two breed factors. First, the breed has long been used for protection and dog fighting. Many breeds used for this purpose have shown that being cooped up in apartments leads to an overly protective instinct in the dog. Second, because they were used for hunting, they have a tendency to roam if they are left unattended.

They require extensive exercise but you must be careful to not allow them to overheat which they do rather easily. For this reason, long walks in the cooler parts of the day are necessary to keep them in good physical condition and work off excess energy. They should not be left outdoors unattended in warm weather for long periods of time.

It is rare you will see me give such a critical review of the temperament of a breed as you are going to see from me today. Before I go on though, I want to explain the reason for this. It truly has more to do with the human interaction factor than it does the breed. I am also referring to the stock here in the USA and other western countries, not China's stock.

First we must understand the background of the breed itself ...

There is no hardcore proof of the age of the breed, but many believe it is 1800 years old. They were used to protect stock, family and for hunting. The difference between the Shar Pei and other breeds used for this purpose is the Shar Pei, unlike other breeds used for this purpose, would make the “kill” themselves and not just run prey and predators off the property or tree them for their owner to deal with.

Their prey kill drive is very high, and as a result, they became the Asia world's premium fighting dog. In fact, it is reported that in the early 20th century, the American Pit Bull Terrier was brought to China to take on the Shar Pei in the dog-fighting arena. This reportedly was proved a monstrous failure as the Shar Pei was said to have devastated the Pit Bull in the ring. I have been unable to confirm this definitively.

In the early 1970's the breed was "rescued" and brought to the States by a Hong Kong businessman. While I applaud anyone who attempts to rescue a breed, the Shar Pei importation seems to have been rather reckless with many individuals more interested in the quick buck than doing it right. In fact, many of the genetic defects found in the breed in the USA are not found in existing stock in China. Additionally, I found three Chinese web sites that say the life expectancy of the dog is much higher than it is here.

Now we need to address the natural instinctual qualities of the breed when they have been properly bred ...

They must be trained and socialized, starting before they are whelped, with other dogs and people to keep their strong prey drive down and help to eliminate their inherent desire to be protective. They are territorial, protective, fearless and work oriented. They require a strong, experienced, consistent handler who is not heavy handed and demands appropriate behavior and pack order.

I would never bring an adult Shar Pei into a home with small children. Additionally, I would not get a puppy if I planned to have children in the future. While it could be done, it would have to be with an extremely well bred and trained dog that has been extensively socialized and is comfortable with its pack position. I might change my mind on this position if the dog came directly from Chinese stock.

Now, I know it may sound as though I dislike this breed, but nothing could be further from the truth. I dislike no breed of dog. The Shar Pei was dealt a bad hand by many of the very people who started out to save and preserve the breed. I think greed was the biggest failure in the venture, and even many of the breeders in the States now will admit some grave mistakes were made.

If you decide you want a Shar Pei, you must do your research and be prepared to put in the time necessary to not only find a properly bred dog, but also the effort to train, socialize and carefully exercise the dog. Speak to several breeders and insist on several references directly related to the litter's parents. You also want to be able to meet and interact with both of the litter's parents. Do not simply rely on titles or show ribbons. They rarely ensure temperament.

All things considered, I believe the Shar Pei has a long way to go before it will be a suitable pet for the average owner. Hopefully, in the future, the conscientious people involved with the breed will take a hard-core stance against the individuals involved with the breed for pure profit.

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Joke of the Week

The Burial Plot

A farmer named Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with a pet dog he doted on. The dog finally died and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, "Father, the dog is dead. Could you be saying a mass for the creature?"

Father Patrick replied, "No, we cannot have services for an animal in the church, but there's a new denomination down the road, no telling what they believe, but maybe they'll do something for the animal."

Muldoon said, "I'll go right now. Do you think $50,000 is enough to donate for the service?"

Father Patrick asked, "Why didn't you tell me the dog was Catholic?"

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2004 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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