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Some More Advice from
Rolf, the Seven Week Old Rottweiler

Hi! It's me again. Rolf from Germany. My friend, Melissa, has given me a word processor, so I can write my articles easier, and it even has a spell check. The last article I wrote was for beginners in tracking. A lot has happened since then, and I would like to bring you up-to-date.

Due to Melissa's way of training, I have had many successes on the Schutzhund field and obedience rings. Both of us have come out winners through these experiences, because our bond and love for each other are immeasurable. What I would like to discuss with you today is survival. The survival of the dogs that you hold so dear to your hearts. I want to educate you, so the deaths I keep hearing about from heat exhaustion are stopped cold in their tracks. This article will look at the basics, so the novice who is just entering the sport can understand and therefore accomplish, what they need to do to keep their best friend alive.

Heat is a dangerous enemy; it can debilitate us physically, emotionally, mentally, and in the extreme, kill us. Heat can make us turnoff to such an extent that even a simple learning exercise cannot be accomplished. First, I am going to supply you with a survival-kit, then I will show you how to use it. By the way Melissa always has our survival-kit ready. Whether we are going to a show, for just a day out, or the Schutzhund field, most of the items are packed neatly in the car before we begin our trek. She is very meticulous about this, because she knows my personal well-being and safety depends on these items:

 medical supply bag

 zinc-free sun screen

 food for you and your dog

 large sponge and large bowl

 tarp at least 15'x15' with grommets on the edges, four long stakeout poles, stakes, string, and a hammer

collapsible wire crate with a metal pan on the bottom that allows your dog to lay down and stretch our comfortable (with extra clasps to keep the sides, top, and front door locked, over and above with what the manufacturer has supplied)

fire-hydrant attachment with a garden hose spigot attached, a 12" long-handled adjustable plumber's monkey wrench, and a garden hose

collars: 2 prong collars - one with the prongs turned outward and flattened down, another in its normal state -- and a wide, flat, good-grade leather collar

lead: 6'x1" double-layered nylon (which can be machine washed and dried numerous times before real use, which will make it pliable and smooth)

cooler large enough to house some water containers and food for you and your dog

fly and insect repellent (if you are tracking, the repellent is not applied until the tracking has been completed, because the odor may throw your dog off)

four 1/2" diameter dowels - each with one end sharpened and 1/8" hole drilled through the other end 1' from the top; at least 25' of string through the holes, and attach ribbons to the string

It is the night before, and Melissa and I are really excited because tomorrow is training at the Schutzhund field. I watch Melissa take four 5-gallon plastic Jerry-cans filled with water, and place them in a special freezer that she bought. Melissa is so smart! Even though on the field this water is defrosting from the heat, it is enough to supply us with fresh, clean, cold, delicious relief all day long. The other two 5-gallon containers she places in the fridge, so we have cold, fresh water available the minute we hit the field. Boy, it makes me thirsty just thinking about it. Melissa already has all the other items in the car; but for safety's sake she checks them all out, to make sure she has not forgotten anything. All this is done the night before, so we don't have to rush and waste time on training day. All we have to do is put the food in the cooler, pack away the water and ice containers, and we are ready to leave.

According to my watch it is 5:30 AM, training day; so it is my duty as a Rottweiler to jump on Melissa while she is in bed and lick her face to wake her up. Mission accomplished. She then has some human things to do, such as brush her teeth (ugh), get dressed, etc., and we are ready to leave. She takes me for a walk, and then I jump into the car and KENNEL-UP (a command that she taught me) into the special wire crate that Melissa has prepared for my transportation. I notice that all the windows are open, so I don't have to get into a stuffy car that could hurt me when I do my tracking. She has also secured the crate with special clasps, so no matter how many bumps we hit on the road nothing will come apart. I get in, and she finishes securing the front door with two clasps so it cannot spring open. With bungee cords, she attaches the entire crate, with me in it, to special hooks she had installed; so in case of an accident, I have my own special seat-belts. Boy, she really loves me!

Melissa does not believe in using a dog trailer because I would not understand it emotionally. She says it would hurt our bond if I was isolated from her, outside the car, where she could not talk to or see me if I was in any kind of distress. She does not believe in using a Vari-Kennel in the car, because it is like a claustrophobic prison and cuts down on air circulation - and how am I supposed to learn about my environment when I can't even see it through those small slots? She also does not believe in using the air conditioner, because she feels I should get used to the weather, and it makes me sleepy when I leave an air-conditioned car and then get hit with the heat of the day. I hate that feeling! All I want to do then is go back to sleep and not work.

When we hit the training field, Melissa works like an efficient machine, taking care of me and setting up our area. The area we picked is the one we use all the time, so I don't have to worry about the other dogs being there and polluting it. As an extra precaution she puts down rock salt (one inch thick over the entire area which she then soaks down with water. The rock salt get absorbed into the ground and the salinity of that ground makes it impossible for worms and worm eggs to live in. In this area she sets up the stake chain, and canopy. I am then whisked out of the car, walked, and placed under the canopy. She takes the stake chain, which is hung up high between the fence poles, so it acts like a spring, and she attaches the clasp to the prong collar (prong collar turned inside out with the prongs flattened) and the D-ring on the leather collar. This affords me double protection, in case one of the collars happens to break.

Oh no! The Training Director just told Melissa that they are painting the fence today, so no dogs can be staked up the there. But we are prepared for any contingency. She takes me off the stake, puts me back in my safe wire crate in the car, disassembles the canopy, stakes, etc., and she sets up a new work area by the car. She puts up the canopy (parallel to the ground for more ventilation) with the long poles, stakes, and string. Melissa then takes out my collapsible crate, secures it with the same type of clasps used on my traveling crate. I go Kennel-up, and she secures the door with more clasps. She then takes out the rest of the equipment, water, etc., and we are all set. To secure the perimeter, we have set up a bunch of wood dowels strung together with string around the car, attached to the string are streamers of ribbons. She hammers the dowels into the ground in a square pattern, so nobody can mistakenly walk into our area. Even if they do not see the streamers, they will be stopped by the string. Now they cannot get hurt, and they cannot hurt me. I know how much she loves me by the way he takes care of me. I try to give it back tenfold when I do my work, so she is proud of me and of what we can accomplish together.

She takes me out of the crate. When the door opens, I do not run out. She has taught me to wait for her to hook me up to my nylon lead and says Okay, and then I am allowed out. We then walk over to the water; but Melissa does not want me to drink unless she says that it's okay. I don't mind, because she taught me that if I do it on my own, I could over-drink and possibly get sick or die of bloat. We then go for our walk, on heel and when we reach a spot that Melissa thinks is safe (free of glass, etc.), she uses a release word and I know I am allowed to go to the bathroom.

Arriving back at our canopy, I start to feel a little fagged-out from the heat so Melissa soaks me down with one of the 5-gallon cans. For spots that are hard to reach, she adds water to the large plastic bowl and puts in a sponge. Those hard to reach places are not hard to reach anymore - the wet sponge took care of them. Throughout the whole day I have all the refreshing water I need to drink. I am constantly being walked to go the bathroom, soaked with water, and placed back under the canopy so I don't boil in the sun. All this attention to my well-being allows me to continue working, without ever feeling heat-fatigued, keeping my mind alert, and my body up to snuff.

There are some items that I wish to discuss separately. Melissa and I feel the fire-hydrant attachment is very important. Many times we go to Schutzhund clubs and shows that are within driving distance, but are still very faraway. Melissa can take me out of the car, soak me completely, and then put me back into the car. It feels so goods that most times I go immediately to sleep, cool and refreshed. Sometimes, when we go to a show or Schutzhund club, we luck-out with a hydrant that is really close by. No matter how much work I do, I always feels incredibly refreshed because of the constant soakings. Wow, what a life!

My nose and ears are extremely sensitive to the sun, so Melissa uses a zinc-free sun screen, and I have not gotten burned yet. I have a suggestion for you to submit to your training director. Melissa thought of this one. She recommends the club buy a baby pool a couple of feet high. This is incredible fun for the dogs; young puppies can learn how to swim; older dogs can learn to retrieve under water. It is cooling and everybody, dogs and humans alike, can have a great time resting in between bouts of learning. The next one is my idea.

Many times I have heard other dogs complaining about the abuse their pads take. A dog's pads also must be protected from the heat, or they will crack. Tell your friend to go to the local pharmacy and purchase Tincture of Benzoine (it is not expensive). Tincture of Benzoine, when applied to pads, makes them extremely tough. Every time it is applied, once a week, the pads become tougher and tougher. This is a great trick to use when practicing for the AD, or just building up your dog's endurance when running on concrete of blacktop. WARNING: Tincture of Benzoine is dark purple in color, so apply it to your dog's pads outside (it only takes a minute to dry). This way, you will not have paw prints all over the carpeting in your house.

Now some facts about cars and heat: A car sitting in the sun on an 85-degree day can reach 110 degrees in ten minutes. The same car will reach over 120 degrees in thirty minutes. In Arizona, during the summers, it can reach over 200 degrees in a matter of minutes. Take some incredibly good advice and set up shade outside for your dog whenever he is training. Keep him out of his crate, tether him to a fence ASAP, and never leave him in the car while training. Besides, he will learn by watching the other dogs. If you have to use a crate, make it a wire one. Do not use a Vari-Kennel for any other purpose than air transportation! On the field or in the car, it does not give enough ventilation and obstructs the vision from the activities on hand. Also I wish to look at air transportation using a Vari-Kennel. If you have to send one of us on a flight, I recommend punching as many holes as possible around the bottom of the kennel, without destroying the integrity of the kennel. These holes will afford more ventilation, so we will be able to breathe better and not suffer the pangs of air travel as much.

With the above hints, you should never have to worry about heat exhaustion; but here are some signs to watch out for:

white or blue-tinged gums (this shows lack of oxygen)
glazed eyes or staring
excessive salivation
rapid panting
rapid pulse
vomiting

My advice is: Work your dog in every situation possible and every temperature range, whether it be minus 40 degrees or 140 degrees, but remember to do it prudently, with love and consideration. And always have the right supplies with you!

Written by Neal Seaman

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Dog Breeds: A thru C | D thru O | P thru Z Abuse Indicators

Aldo's Acres, Inc.
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