Saturday, November 17, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Signature Pet Services Helps you with Purchasing a Purebred Puppy

United's Stop the Press (Roman) and  Caryola's Tiny Dancer (Madeline)

So you think that you want an intelligent and powerful Doberman Pinscher (Roman and Madeline my guardians), a very smart and fun Standard Poodle (Yay Teddy!), a mellow Yellow Lab (Very sweet Mulligan), or hard-wired hunting dog like the German Shorthaired Pointer (Go Naala!) - well let me help you get started on your journey to find your chosen purebred dog (and yes it is a journey) the right way. 

So you have done your research (which will include speaking to your veterinarian, reading books, talking to dog owners and trainers, doing Internet searches and talking to experts on the breed) on what purebred dog breed is most suitable for your lifestyle, pocketbook, family, travel plans, and career demands - now it is time to find a breeder who will sell you a puppy.

If the breeder is good - expect to be put through a series of interviews, visits and reference checks and you will have to wait for a puppy because a good breeder does not churn out puppies every year. And, if they and run fast! Also, be prepared for a wait list and to provide a deposit. It is a good thing to have to wait as it will give you time to prepare and purchase all the items you need to get started with your puppy, including finding a pet services professional to assist with training your new puppy.

REMEMBER: Dogs are not disposable and having a dog is a huge and expensive commitment and you may have your dog for 10 years or more, depending on the breed.

Here are the cold hard facts...

There are not alot of good breeders out there - so be prepared to do your homework not only on the breed of dog you want but also who to purchase your new puppy from. VERY IMPORTANT: Stay away from pet stores that sell puppies (already banned in some cities - way to go Richmond, BC), puppies sold over the Internet, puppy mills and 'back-yard' breeders. If you do not heed this advice, you will be heartbroken at the very least but more likely heartbroken and financially broken with a puppy that has nothing but problems, medical, physical and psychological. And, your new puppy may not even make it to adolescence.

Some experts say one of the best ways to find a breeder is at a dog show. While this is one way - the way I recommend is to (once you have determined the breed for you and your family) contact the local club chapter of the breed. For example, if you are interested in a Great Dane puppy then you should head to the BC Great Dane Club's web site for information on how to contact a breeder of these dogs. You can contact any of the officers of the Club and they should be more than happy to talk to you about their breed and will be able to put you in touch with a list of breeders who you can contact. These breeders can also be found at a dog show but a list may help you narrow it down and you may even be able to get a personal reference on a breeder (although not guaranteed). Hopefully, as part of your breed research you have already done this but if not it is never too late to educate yourself. You can also stop someone while they are walking their dog (people stop me all the time and ask me about my dog) and ask them about the breed and their own breeder. This is an excellent way to get candid information about both the breed and the breeder and people love to brag about their dogs.

When you first speak to your potential breeder you can expect her be a little cold - keep in mind that she probably speaks to a great deal of people looking for a puppy and not all of them have genuine intentions. So consider the initial contact you make with your potential breeder as part of their screening process. Have your ducks in a row and your questions on paper so you do not waste her time and yours. By the time you contact a breeder you should already know a great deal about the breed and you are looking for expert insider information, clarification on health issues and faults of the breed and the chance to be invited to the breeder's home to meet her dogs. Usually, you will meet the dam (mother or potential mother) of your puppy. I can remember back when I met my first breeder and her Dobermans - it was a life changing experience one that I will never forget. While she was testing me to see how I was with her three Dobermans - I was in total awe of this breed that was and still is second to none in my eyes. So when you first speak to the breeder, I recommend not starting off with "When will you have a puppy and how much?" but tell the breeder you are interested in a puppy and you would like to know her process for you to obtain a puppy, i.e.: is there a wait list, does she have any pet quality puppies now that are not spoken for (unless you are interested in showing), how much she may charge, how does the deposit work, does she have a sales contract, what is her return policy, does she socialize the puppies, how old are the puppies when she releases them, what shots do they have, does she offer telephone or email assistance after you take one of her puppies home, etc. You should have already discovered the breed problems through your research and she will be able to elaborate in a way that explains the risk of these problems. Every purebred has them - so beware of a breeder who says otherwise. YOU MUST BE INFORMED SO DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

I should note that there are some very worthy rescue groups and shelters doing very commendable work out there who have wonderful mixed breeds for adoption, if that is the road you choose that is up to you, however, I prefer the purebreds. The advantage of purchasing a purebred is that they are bred to meet certain standards of size and temperament. So be sure that when you purchase your purebred puppy that she is an actual purebred and ask for her papers and pedigrees. There are many mixed breeds being sold, like that of the Doodle, Puggle or Schnoodle and such that are not purebreds and are often sold with the implication they are purebreds and they quite simply are not and may never be. A list of accepted purebreds can be found on the Canadian Kennel Club web site (just google it).

The information I have provided here is only a very small piece of the purchasing a new purebred puppy pie - but it will be enough to get you started in the right direction. You have alot of work to do in order to get the best breeder and the best possible purebred puppy so get busy. There is lots of information on my web site that will assist you as well.

Remember a healthy purebred puppy of a well-researched breed that is suitable for your lifestyle that you purchased from a good breeder may bring you a life time of pure joy with your love, kindness and training to support her and anything less than this will bring you just the opposite, in spades I might add.

Lee, Madeline and Roman

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Signature Pet Services is here to help with Puppy Crate Training 101!

Madeline when I first brought her home from the breeder...what a sight!

Why crate training you ask? Why not I say. Do you not want your beautiful young pup to start her new life out on the right paw? The benefits of 'proper' crate training for your puppy are enormous. Let me give you just a few of the benefits. And, if you do not agree that these are fantastic things for you and your puppy then I would suggest you should probably re-think getting yourself a puppy as your commitment to your new puppy's well being is well...simply not there yet. Perhaps consider volunteering at a shelter that will help you to begin to understand canine behaviour better (including the well-known fact that dogs are den creatures) and you will also come to understand where all the cute puppies end up (unwanted and surrendered at shelters or worse) when their owners who were only committed when the puppy was cute...and then it grew.  OK...enough said.

Benefits of crate training for your puppy are as follows: safety and security for your puppy (the den thing), accurate potty training, prevents damage to your home and costly repairs, will make your puppy a great traveler. And, you and your new puppy will bond faster as you will become less frustrated with her and less likely to discipline her out of frustration.

So let's get started....

1. Head to your favourite pet supply store (and no not Pet Smart, Pet Land or any of the like that support puppy mills) and purchase a crate. Make sure you are happy with the return policy (in case you do not like the crate) and you find a sales person who knows what they are doing. In sizing a crate, a dog must be able to stand up and turn around. There are three types of crates: the metal crate, the plastic crate (both will break down for storage) and the soft-sided crate. I recommend the plastic crate to start as the soft-sided crate although excellent for travel may be too easy to chew or tear for puppy in the beginning.

2. Set your crate up somewhere central in your home and not in your garage or basement. Remember this is a training tool and not equipment to punish with. I recommend setting up your crate near your TV so that when you are out of the room the TV can play softly and may help to calm your puppy.

3. Introduce your puppy to the crate with kindness, toss some treats (use kibble) into the crate for her to have and she will run in and eat them. You can even make it into a fun game.

4. When you are ready for the actual training, do not make a big deal about it just do it. Start with a potty break and either a short walk or play and then entice her into the crate with a treat or kibble. Once she is inside the crate, just close the door. Again, do not say bye-bye or fuss or make a big deal. Simply leave the room and see how she does. Now she may just fall asleep or she may cry - every puppy is different. If you are really worried then stuff a kong and place inside her crate for added distraction. If puppy falls asleep - that is great. If she cries, YOU MUST LET HER CRY. Do not appease her behaviour or you will very quickly teach her to cry and bark for your attention and this is a behaviour you do not want in a puppy or a dog. Some amount of distress is acceptable and almost expected.

5. If the crying continues, try a spray bottle or making a startling noise outside of the crate. Either one of these should work. Avoid the temptation to yell at her or bang on her new crate. Asking her to 'quiet' or 'enough' is acceptable too. Make sure she has taken care of her business (if she is a young pup) so that she does not need to go potty before she even enters the crate. The last thing you want your new puppy to do is to learn to go potty in her crate - I have seen it and it is a terrible thing and there is simply no excuse for this. If this is happening, and no I don't mean a little tinkle or tiny wet spot from excitement - what I mean is a full bowel movement and urination. If this is happening, contact your veterinarian, your breeder or your trainer immediately as something is very very wrong!!!

6. Once your puppy has accepted her crate you can place some dog bedding or soft towels inside. Be very careful about chewing though as you do not want her to learn to chew in her crate. In the beginning, I suggest a kong inside her crate and put some padding under the crate on the outside so that the flooring is not too hard and yet she has no chew temptations.

7. Don't forget to never ever use a crate for punishment - it is not meant for that.

Happy crate training!

Lee, Madeline and Roman

Monday, September 3, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Signature Pet Services Spring into Fall with the Springer

Naala (client) and me heading out for our ride using the Springer

Back from our ride and Naala is relaxed and ready for a nap!

Now that the cooler temperatures are here you can spring into fall with your dog.  All you need to do is purchase or borrow a Springer bicycle attachment (pictured above) and you are off and running (or biking).

To make things easier for you and your dog to get started with the Springer, I added some basic FAQ.  Hope they help!

Do I need to teach my dog how to safely ride with me using the Springer?  The majority of dogs quite quickly take to the Springer.  If your dog is not athletic or not in a well-conditioned state then I recommend slowly starting out gradually increasing your riding time.  Obviously, your dog must be comfortable around bikes, if not, this is probably something to either avoid or introduce very slowly and with kindess.

Is there anything I should keep an eye out for on my dog to know if she has had too much Springer fun? Initially, after the first 10 minutes you should check the pads of your dog's feet to see if they are worn at all.  Some dogs have thinner pads and they may bleed a bit until they become properly callused. Every dog is different.

What surfaces should I ride on? I like to ride in Sunnyside park on the soft pathways but I also enjoy a leisurely peddle around my neighbourhood. You can choose any surface your dog is comfortable to ride on.  A fit, athletic, well-socialized dog can go to Stanley Park but one that is not so much can just enjoy their own neighbourhood or local park. As a rule (with all the terrible drivers in South Surrey - you know you've cursed at them) I keep my dog on the opposite side to the traffic.  That way I can keep her safe. 

What if my dog chases after a rabbit - will I need to adjust the Springer while I'm riding?  With Springer, you just keep both hands on the handlebars at all times. The Springer keeps your dog firmly by your side, protecting her from pedals and wheels. If she does run around a sign post or tree, the safety release is supposed to release your dog instantly, keeping you and your dog safe.  (Caveat: At least that is what Springer claims.)  All the dogs I have used the Springer with know enough not to wrap themselves around a tree anyways.

Will the Springer work on my mom's old three speed bike?  The Springer works on most bikes. It is best to go to to find out more information on which bike is most suitable for the Springer.  Mine works great on a hybrid road/mountain bike.

What is the cost of a Springer?  Prices range from about $50 and upwards.  You can find them at, your local pet supply store, ebay, or even Craigs List. 

What is the best thing about the Springer?  It is a fun way to spend time with your dog and for both you and your dog to get some exercise.  Even if you hate to exercise (like me) the Springer is a blast. 

Any tips?  I keep a collar and a light lead on my dog at all times while I am using the Springer.  In the event of an accident or my dog or me become injured, it is handy to have some way to keep your dog safe and under control. 

Have fun!

Lee, Madeline and Roman

Monday, June 18, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Signature Pet Services - Good Things Come in Small Packages

Meet Miss Maggie

Roman (of course is not a small dog) and cute and shy Nibbles

Yogi diggin' the summer sun

Kimber (one of the star boarders)

the always fabulous Bella

Banks and his fun blanket...Madeline loved him

Perfect Lacey

Miss Maggie (all grown up)

Roman and Kimber (his favourite)

Molly AKA the Mollinator

Zoe sporting her doggie updo

Welcome to Signature Pet Services' in-home-boarding service.  Where we welcome all good dogs in all shapes and sizes.  We especially enjoy the little dogs - provided of course that they get along with both medium and larger sized dogs.

This very special in-home boarding service is only available for VERY well behaved dogs who are at least one year of age, 100% healthy and disease free (that includes skin conditions), fully house-trained, non-aggressive, extremely well socialized around all sizes of dogs, non-destructive and who do not suffer from separation anxiety. This is not an on-site kennel or a house that keeps dogs in a special room but a loving, comfortable, environmentally friendly (only green products are ever used) and safe home with a fully fenced and 100% chemical free back yard that is very close to excellent trails and great parks. Your dog would stay with my family and my two dogs and share in all our regular dog activities like dog walks and hikes. If you would like services such as, nail trimming, daily brushing, ear and eye cleaning or a doggy wash using organic shampoos - please ask about these services at the time of your booking.

Sometimes, puppies are accepted provided they are both house trained and crate trained.  Each puppy is different - so if you think your puppy fits all the regular requirements (except for age) then please ask about possible in-home-boarding.  One of my best guests is in fact a puppy....but she is a very good puppy.

Have a safe and happy summer everyone -  it is just around the corner.  See you back here at my Signature Dog Blog in the early fall.  Woof!

Lee, Madeline and Roman

Monday, May 21, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Signature Pet Services - Kitty Corner

I hope you have enjoyed a quick glimpse into Signature Pet Services' Kitty Corner! 

For more information about Kitty Sitting Services.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Signature Pet Services - Happy Birthday Madeline!

Madeline at the take-out window

This month, my beloved Madeline (AKA Caryola's Tiny Dancer of Manorie, AKC,CKC) turns seven-years-old. Although Madeline is now considered a senior dog - she does not look a day over two-years-old. She's starting to get a little grey around her muzzle and under her beautiful almond eyes. And, she is slowing down a bit in her exercise requirements but she is always up for fun, a bit of trouble-making, a good three mile run, a cuddle and (of course) protecting our home and the neighbourhood where we live.

However, where Madeline truly shines is with the Signature Pet Services' boarding dogs who are a bit shy, insecure or the younger dogs who simply do not know how to behave. She is calm, kind, gentle and comforts when needed and teaches when required. And, she happily greets the regular and returning Signature Pet Services' boarding dogs when they arrive - it seems Madeline never forgets anyone. She can be trusted in any situation by always following my lead and is an excellent ambassador for her breed.

Very recently, Madeline's training, socialization and breed qualities were put to a test when she met (a potential client) who was also a Doberman Pinscher who came at her straight on and growled at her.  This is of course, was after the dog growled at me when I entered the owner's home.  This growling behaviour is not a correct Doberman Pinscher trait and would be considered a serious flaw in the dog.  I am happy to report that Madeline acted appropriately and ignored the bad behaviour and looked to me for direction.  Needless to say, this other Doberman Pinscher is neither a very good example of a well bred and well socialized Doberman but also is not acceptable for Signature Pet Services - pursuant to our policies.  Growling in my book - IS NOT a greeting but a warning.  Yes...sometimes a harmless warning - sometimes not.  Good job Madeline!

A true purebred Doberman Pinscher, Madeline is smart, affectionate, loyal, calm, obedient, beautiful, non-aggressive, well socialized and very friendly.

Happy birthday baby girl - we all love you!

Love Mom, Dad and Roman

Monday, April 9, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Signature Pet Services - Roman Wins KISM's "My Dog Needs A Beer Contest"

Roman's picture is featured on Real Dober-man Beer

Recently, Roman was the winner of the "My Dog Needs a Beer" contest held by Brad and John (of the Brad and John Morning Show) at KISM Classic Rock (92.9 on your FM dial) radio station located in a beautiful residential area of Bellingham, Washington.  KISM was promoting a new dog-friendly non-alcohol beer product coming to the Pacific Northwest and was offering it as a prize to the best story of why a listener's dog would need a beer. Hence the title:  My Dog Needs a Beer.   The best part about the beer was that its label could be personalized with the winning dog's picture and renamed as well.  Anyone could enter and the contest ran about a week or so.  All kinds of dogs were entered - but I must say most of their stories were a bit lame.  For example, one listener said his Standard Poodle needs a beer because he has to wear booties in the owners house so he did not scratch the floor.  Really?  Poor dog!  Yes, really! 

Now ... backing up a little ... Roman had been quite ill (we think he had a toxic reaction to his worm medicine) and had been diagnosed by the veterinarian with a terminal prognosis.  (Yes, terminal we were told he would have two weeks to two months to live.)  I won't get into the details of the situation because it was so traumatic for our family and Roman - not to mention expensive for all the unnecessary drugs and I simply don't want to relive the experience.  To make a very long and sad story short - Roman no more had a fatal disease that I was the Queen of England. 

So while I was listening to my favourite radio morning show I heard about the station's "My Dog Needs a Beer" contest and even though I thought it was late and the contest might be over - I sent in my email entry shown below in its entirety. 

"Hey! I love your show and listen to you guys all the time. I live in British Columbia and your station is all I listen to. I know I am probably too late but I just got some great news for my dog Roman. Roman is a 93 lb Doberman Pinscher who had recently been diagnosed with a fatal liver disease with maybe two weeks to two months to live. Late yesterday, we got new test results that indicated there was a serious misdiagnosis and Roman is going to be fine. Now this dog as well as his family needs a beer!! Attached is a picture of this dog. "

Turns out this was the winning entry and story.  I was thrilled.  What a happy ending all around.  Not only did Roman win the contest and the dog beer - but I had the privilege of going live on the Brad and John Show on KISM to tell Roman's story and talk with Brad and John (who were so nice and fun!).  They even asked me about my business Signature Pet Services and let me plug it for free and share some stories with the listeners.  Our on-air time lasted over six minutes.  It was a total blast! 

We had to wait for Roman's prize to be shipped from the company who manufactures the dog beer in Arizona to the radio station's corporate offices because the company claimed they could not ship directly to our home in Canada.   Once the dog beer finally arrived at KISM, Keith, me and Madeline headed down to Bellingham on a road trip to pick up Roman's beer. And, what a great excuse to take half a day off work.  We left Roman at home as he was still not feeling himself as he had a hard time with the medication prescribed for the illness that he never had.  The border down south took about 30 minutes and we hit a bit of snowy weather but all in all the drive to Bellingham was a piece of cake.  We went directly to the radio station and took Madeline into the offices to meet the staff.  Everyone we met at the radio station's corporate offices were so nice to us and to Madeline.  We got our dog beer (and some other goodies) and off we went.  We made a brief stop at Fred Myers (Freddies to the locals) for some coffees and snacks (and purchased some wine of course).  Made another brief stop for some gas and off we went.  The return border crossing was a breeze - no wait and no arrests. Ha-ha! And, we even claimed our dog-beer, which the border agent said was fine to bring back.  In fact, he thought we were weird-os claiming dog beer.  But hey, better safe than sorry - I say.

We are all happy and relieved that Roman is now 100% and has made a full recovery from his terminal (mis)diagnosis.  Woof!

Lee, Madeline and Roman

PS:  Thanks again Brad and John - you are the coolest!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Signature Dog Blog: Happy Easter from Everyone at Signature Pet Services!

IMPORTANT Tips to Remember this Easter Holiday to Keep your Dog and Cat Safe

Healthy Treats: Chocolate and other sweets should not be given to dogs or cats. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be deadly to cats and dogs, although not harmful to humans. The best thing you can do for your pets over the Easter holiday is to keep them on their regular diet. Look for a special dog or cat treat instead of giving them cookies or treats meant for humans.

Watch Little Toys and gifts that come in your child's Easter basket: Avoid purchasing toys with small or soft pieces that can be chewed and swallowed.  And, keep all Easter gifts and toys in a safe place away from your dog and cat. 

Company Coming?  Make sure that Spot gets his regular exercise or even an extra walk before your company arrives.  This is especially important for high-energy dogs or dogs that are anxious.  Tuck him away in your office or bedroom with his water bowl, his favourite toy and his bed (and, he will dream the night away chasing but not catching rabbits).  This will go along way to ensuring both your dog and you (and your guests) have a relaxing evening.  Don't forget to let him or her out for regular potty breaks - if you can't remember....set your timer and then have one of the kids take Spot out and then return him to his bed. 

We all love our dogs, but sometimes our family and friends simply want to visit with us and not our beloved dogs.  At our house, when we have guests, we let Roman and Madeline (and any well-behaved boarding dogs) meet our guests after they arrive and then we ask them to remain on their beds.  I know that even though I love dogs - when I get dressed up to go to someone's home for dinner I do not want dogs jumping on me in my nice clothes and drooling on me while I am trying to relax, eat dinner and enjoy my evening. 

Poisonous Plants/Flowers:  There are alot of beautiful plants and flowers that are often given as Easter gifts, including Lilies, Carnations and Bird of Paradise that are toxic to dogs.  For a complete list of plants and flowers that are toxic to dogs and cats - please visit the American Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to animals:

DON'T FORGET:  Surrey Museum has included animal-rescue groups in its Easter Fair on Saturday, April 7 from 1 - 4.  It is by donation.  For more information call 604-592-6956.  There will be many rescue groups on site and in particular check out Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy. 

 Have a safe and happy Easter Holiday!

Lee, Roman and Madeline...and the Easter Bunny.