A Self-Awareness Test

by Debbie Smithson, Crystalove Shelties

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  As we all enjoy the beauty of the Shetland Sheepdogs throughout this issue of the "Pacesetter," let’s take a glance into our OWN back yard. Can we look EACH dog in the eye and assure him that our BEST has been done for his health and happiness?

1. Are ALL the dogs under your care current on vaccinations?

2. Are your dogs REGULARLY checked for internal parasites with the proper medication administered for the CORRECT parasite?

3. Are your dogs on a heartworm preventative?

4. Do you have effective control of fleas and other external parasites on your dogs, kennel premises and home?

5. Do ALL your dogs have regular oral examinations, either at home or professionally, and teeth scaled and cleaned as needed?

It is hoped that you have answered yes to these questions. Health care is undoubtedly the most important aspect of our Shelties’ lives, and it is something for which we are totally responsible. Yet some Shelties may be lacking even the most basic of health care. Wake up! The diseases and the parasites are out there. If your unprotected dogs have made it so far, consider yourself extremely lucky—and protect them NOW, while you’re ahead. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And a life can’t be replaced.

Let’s get down to the basics of Sheltie care. Answer the following questions HONESTLY!

1. Are ALL your dogs clean and presentable?

2. Are ALL the dogs in your kennel linebrushed TO THE SKIN at least once a month?

3. Are the toenails on ALL the Shelties a respectable length? (Which is SHORT, of course!)

4. Are your dogs fed on a regular schedule? (This doesn’t mean dumping food in the "community bowl" at your leisure and hoping everyone shares. Besides provoking fights, you are being ineffective in noticing any changes in eating habits and in the administration of daily additives or medications.)

5. Are ALL your dogs receiving adequate exercise? (With more people in the workforce today, many Shelties find themselves crated several hours a day. Two or three short breaks per day may not provide them physical or mental happiness, unless a secure area inside or outside is available for nighttime exercise. Shelties adapt well to our schedule.

6. Do you make a point to "design" or have available toys for the development and enjoyment of your puppies? (The babies in the x-pen get no use of the toys you MEANT to provide or those that "were there yesterday!" Older dogs that learned to play as puppies have developed an important dimension to their personality and will continue playing throughout their lives.

7. Are ALL individual sleeping quarters (doghouses, crates, etc.) clean, dry and of the proper size?

8. Are the individual runs or kennel yards "scooped" and disinfected regularly?

Did maybe one or two of these questions bring on the "guilt complex"? We sometimes spend our allotted time only on the dogs currently being exhibited, while the rest of the kennel is embarrassed by last winter’s undercoat, which is slowly dripping mat-by-mat out on its own! These dogs manicure their nails by chasing each other a few extra lengths of the runs—"realigning the front end" on their own!

Now, some questions on your growth and knowledge:

1. Are you open to new techniques and ideas?

2. Do you feel it necessary to study material you may be unfamiliar with in order to broaden your knowledge of Shelties?

3. Are you willing to share your knowledge with others?

4. Do you find time for valuable lectures, workshops, seminars and special programs?

5. Are your dog records accurate and up-to-date as AKC requires? 

And . . . answer these questions. . . . It’s in the numbers!

1. Are you guilty of "clinging on" to dogs that have no specific benefit to your kennel?

2. Have you considered retirement homes for dogs deserving more attention than you can offer?

3. Are you breeding only the dogs you feel are GOOD representatives of our breed?

4. Are ALL your males really in demand? (With so many fine stud dogs easily accessible coast-to-coast to quality bitches, why use your unpointed 16-inch homebred which, face it, does have his faults?)

5. Do ALL your dogs receive love and attention individually on a daily basis? (This is THE question to be honest with yourself about. As sweet and devoted as the Sheltie is, just a FEW minutes of your undivided attention as you lavish him with strokes and kind words could make your dog sure he is your SOLE reason for being!)

WHAT IF, on a moment’s notice, you find a couple of the breed’s most prominent people on your doorstep . . . ?

 1. Are you comfortable with the overall presence of EACH dog?

2. Are you proud enough of the quality of ALL your breeding stock and their condition?

3. Are you knowledgeable enough to explain what you feel are both the desirable qualities and the faults of EACH dog?

4. Are your puppies good enough to make these people accept you as a serious breeder?

5. Are your kennel arrangements clean and orderly so no excuses are necessary?

In Conclusion

 The health and happiness of EACH and EVERY one of your Shelties is in your hands. This should be valued above all the points, all the titles, and all the personal satisfaction we as humans attain from competition.

 If kennel upkeep and daily chores have you overloaded, consider hiring some help. An area youngster might work out for little pay and gain both knowledge and a sense of responsibility from you. Plan your routine on paper for better efficiency. Working with some sort of schedule will be as beneficial for you as for your dogs.

 With a little honesty to yourself as well as to others, you can build a kennel you take pride in. Set your standards high and promise to work toward your goal!

By strengthening our weaknesses, we are improving not only ourselves, but the future of the breed.

(Taken from the November/December 1987 issue.)

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Last modified: April 19, 2012