Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The War of the Ear!

We are pleased to announce that the War of the Ear has been WON! Above, you can see pictures of Kyrie side-by-side. The one on the left, with the floppy ear, was taken when she was six months old. Soon after this we attended Homecoming in New York and the daughter of our breed founder, Lisa Barber, showed me how to properly brace Kyrie's ear. A good ear brace needs to be light (we used moleskin), attached with a good non-latex skin adhesive (we bought some Torbot Bonding Cement, the same brand Lisa used), and also the right shape and size! Below I've included a picture of the brace. After the one we got at Homecoming fell out (it took Kyrie about two weeks to wear out a brace to the point where it would fall out), I kept it and used it as a pattern to cut new braces. :)

You can see that the brace is fairly large. Be sure to put its base near the base of the ear, so that it can work with the good support musculature and cartilage there where the ear meets the skull. You can also see that it is rounded; I realized that this shape helps to spread out the ear a bit so it can keep its proper shape. Lisa is one smart cookie! And she has LOADS of experience, of course!!

We did one further thing to the brace, and I would like to send a thank-you out to Buddha the ISSR Shiloh Shepherd's owners for their great blog on bracing his ears! In it they talk about how they used a product called Breathe-Right Nasal Strips to help give additional strength to the mole foam. As we were pretty sure that Kyrie's ear had a heavy crease on the outside edge that was keeping it from standing, we applied one of those nasal strips along the outer edge of the moleskin, for additional support. Here is a picture of Kyr in her pen at my workplace. I took her to work a lot with me until she got used to the braces, to make sure that she did not worry them out!

We had been told that ear bracing was not something that got results overnight. After the first brace stayed in for two weeks and fell out, I was very disheartened because Kyrie's ear sagged again after only one hour. :( But we braced again, and two weeks later when it fell out her ear stayed up longer...three to four hours and the sag was not as bad. That still seemed like not enough change to me, and I was afraid that nothing would work! But we braced again...two more weeks and I put in another brace right away without seeing how long the ear would stay up this time--I didn't want to discourage myself!! So four weeks went by. I kind of screwed up that last brace because I didn't put it far enough down in the ear--it was a little wobbly. But even then, it seemed to be staying up...I was full of hope! Finally, when that brace fell out, we let it go and waited. The ear stayed up...it was up for good!!! The war of the ear was won!

It took us two months of bracing to override seven or eight months of floppy ear. Kyrie turns eleven months this Friday. I am very happy that this coming year, she will be able to go to the IABCA shows and participate! A floppy ear would have disqualified her. Lisa, Olga, Buddha's parents, and everyone who chimed in with ear tips on our wonderful Shiloh Shepherd Friends forum, we can't thank you enough for helping us to win the War of the Ear!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kyrie's Colors, Part Two!

Back in the sixties a man named Charles "Chuck" P. Eisenmann got himself a German Shepherd pup to help out in his nightclub as a guard dog. But it soon became apparent that the pup, London, was no ordinary dog! He would go on to amaze talk show audiences, movie-goers, and TV fans alike by starring in his own movie and TV series, The Littlest Hobo. London, as far as anyone could tell, knew actual English. Chuck would give him a string of commands--not "sit, stand, stay" but "London, would you please sit there in that corner. Now please go stand by a picture of a horse. Can you find me something blue? Show it to me, please. London, I need a pencil (London would find Chuck a pencil and bring it to him without further prompting)." If you can find a copy of Chuck's book about educating dogs, Stop! Sit! and Think!, you can read actual newspaper clippings giving examples just like these, written by skeptical newspapermen who met Chuck and his dogs (London had a number of sons with his markings who later joined Chuck's pack and doubled for him in the TV series). Chuck eventually wrote four books and produced a video and an album (cover picture below).

I didn't know anything about Chuck and his dogs until I encountered the Shiloh Shepherd, and then I heard plenty! Many people on our Shiloh forums are fans of Chuck and his teaching methods. The more I read about the Hobo dogs, the more I wanted to know! I started watching eBay and online used book websites for Chuck's books and searching the web for more information. Then Kyrie's pictures came up on Tina's website, and there was Tina saying that she thought Kyrie would be a "masked" dog--that she would look like London and his sons and daughters. I was hooked--I had to have her!! And I'm so glad that Zak gave in and we got her--she is incredibly intelligent, beautiful, an eager learner, and (though I doubt we will ever get her to stop chasing the cats) she is only getting more amazing!

Below: a comparison side-by-side of Kyrie at eight months next to the original London. The London pic is from a publicity photo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kyrie's Colors, Part One!

Kyrie's color pattern is very rare and it is one of the many things that make her special to me. :) It is also the reason I begged so hard for her back when her picture first went up on our breeder's Available Puppies page!!

Her basic color is called "brown sable with cream" the cream being the cream/white bib on the front of her neck under her muzzle. She is a sable because she has a paler undercoat with hairs that turn darker on her outer coat. Her back is almost black turning to a lighter color on her mane, with legs being a warm golden brown. Her ears are a more intense version of her leg color. Here are some pics from when she was between four and five months old!

But the most rare part of Kyrie's coloring is actually considered a show fault among Shiloh Shepherds at the moment (we are hoping that will change)--her muzzle, which is called "faded" because it is other than black. It is lightening up a bit at a time and we hope that eventually it will go to pure white. But why?

Waaaaaay back in Shiloh Shepherd history was the first breed outcross that Tina did--the MAW outcross, called that for Malamute, American Show Dog, and White Shepherd. The American Show Dog part of that was a line of German Shepherds with a very special heritage--they came from a kennel which had, once upon a time, produced dogs that looked like this:

So what's the story behind these dogs? Stay tuned!

Puppy Playtime!

Gonna try to catch this blog up to current...here are some of our old pics of Kyrie playing with Leo when she was around fourteen or fifteen weeks old. :) She never has completely figured out that he's much bigger than she is...even today she never quite gives up hope that someday when she body-checks him he'll fall over instead of her!! She weighed around twenty pounds in these pictures, and he weighed around sixty, and we supervised the play just in case, but Leo was very good with her and nobody ever got hurt even with the size disparity. This is something we hear a lot about Shilohs--that they are very gentle when playing with smaller dogs, pets, and little humans. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kyrie's First Day!

Before I talk about why Kyrie's coloration is so special, I wanted to catch up a little bit with some of our first pictures of her. :) The above is my favorite pic of her when she was a little pup. Even though it's a bit blurry, I think it captures the puppy-cute and the sweetness of her expression very well! Here's another, better shot below. You can see how her colors had really lightened up in the four weeks or so since that first LER pic!

When we brought Kyrie home Zak and I were very inexperienced with introducing a younger dog to an older one. We had heard everything from horror stories to "Don't worry!" We wondered about where to introduce the pups and asked for advice on the forums. Finally we settled on the front sidewalk, which wasn't necessarily in Leo's "territory".

As it turned out, we needn't have worried. Leo was always a mush around other dogs--definately not even close to the alpha--and this tiny little puppy totally bowled him over! He couldn't figure out whether to follow her around, or play, or just fall over (see below)!

We did originally introduce them on leashes, but after we got them into our fenced-in backyard we let them go to figure each other out, and it worked fine. If you would like to see the photo album of Kyrie's First Day, go here to Zak's Picasa album!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kyrie's First Post!

Welcome to our blog for Kyrie, our second ISSR Shiloh Shepherd! The above picture was taken while Kyrie was still at New Zion Shilohs in New York state. She was eight weeks old and was being given her LER (a puppy evaluation testing drives, temperament, aptitudes, health and conformation). Kyrie passed her health test with flying colors and was listed as a breed-quality female!

My fiance Zak and I had obtained our first Shiloh, Leo, only three months before, and we were not really looking for another pup, much less to have a litter of pups some day! But Kyrie's color pattern is very special, and it is one reason I fell in love with this beautiful little pup! I pestered and pleaded and finally Zak said that if she was still looking for a home in one month, we could talk about it again. I didn't believe that this little girl could possibly be available...someone else would snap her up...surely everyone else saw how special she was! I waited, expecting every day that Kyrie--or "Twin" as she was then called--would disappear off of the New Zion site. Much as I tried to be stoic, I couldn't resist sending little notes to Tina, our breeder..."Is she still there?" "Does she have a home yet?" Tina was probably laughing her head off at me, I was so desperate to have this pup!!

Finally the date rolled around...one month had passed. Twin was still available! And then my beloved Zak got me the ultimate gift...a new car, an engagement ring, AND MY PUP!!! All in one month! I love that man. :D