Community July 29, 2008
For the Love of Dog
Our Endless Affair with Man's Best Friend

He is your friend,
your partner,
your defender,
your dog.

You are his life,
his love,
his leader.

He will be yours,
faithful and true,
to the last beat
of his heart.

You owe it to him
to be worthy of such
devotion.

—Author unknown, from Not Bartlett’s, a collection of quotes edited by local author Elise Lufkin.


 Given such lofty responsibility, we hope you find in the following pages some tidbit of information that helps you prove to be worthy enough for your dog.

So SIT and STAY and READ!

Bad Dogs are Legend, Laws are Their Legacy.

Back in a quieter time, Thelma Ray Bob and her sister roamed Ketchum together, stopping for a snack in Louie’s dumpster, splashing in the river and building up a 15-year reputation for mischief.

Thelma had a collar with a compass, Swiss army knife and maps around her neck, which made her a hit with the kids, but the black Lab was destined to be part of the “if there is a law against doing something, it’s because someone did it first” club.

When dog-at-large and leash laws were developed within the last decade, with a mix of success and protest, Thelma’s owner, criminal and family law attorney Michael Kraynick, was forced to take a position. Or, at least, make amends.

Kraynick’s friends playfully took out an ad in one of the local phone books listing him alternately as “Dumpster Diving Defender,” “Dr. Rando, pet psychotherapist” or “Camp Mikey.”

The joke was on him, but the law wasn’t on his side and so, as he fenced his yard, he had to resign himself to the fact that “more and more people mean different attitudes and ideas about what civilized community means. It’s the sanitizing of the Wood River Valley.

“The day of one free bite is over,” he says. In all seriousness though, Kraynick knows that more people mean more irresponsible people and unpredictable conflicts.

In fact, as he took time out for this interview, he had just returned from court where he helped settle a tragic case involving a pair of usually tame dogs that mutilated two of Bellevue farrier Tom Riney’s miniatures—a horse and a donkey—and killed a small horse.

“It was bad for everyone involved,” Kraynick says.

The cost of dog-at-large tickets has been steadily increasing, with first offenders paying fines of several hundred dollars. Add to that a penalty if your dog is not licensed with the county and your costs keep going up.

Kraynick says that while he hopes the Valley will always remain somewhat lawless and leashless, it doesn’t mean he advocates letting dangerous animals roam or being a scofflaw.

The way he sees it, you can abide by the law, pay for violating it, fight to change it or look him up under “Dumpster Diving Defender.” >>>

 However They Come to You, It’s Your Job to Protect Them. 

It’s said around here that you can’t be a contractor in this Valley without a Lab in your truck bed—endearing image, deathly dangerous. We know they love their dogs, but . . . you can’t save them all. While we wish them luck, and say a little prayer as we see them, ears flapping, eyes squinting, doing 70 along Highway 75, this is for those of you with a different approach to nurturing a relationship with your dog.

Being owned by a dog is a huge responsibility. Once the new puppy smell gives way to the soiled carpet stink and the cute way he brought you your shoes is now another pair of ruined shoes, you have . . . a dog.

Whether puppy or dog, you need to choose a vet. Make sure when making your choice that you find a person who will accompany you on your pet’s journey, however long or short, in the style that will accommodate your personal relationship with your pet. If they can’t relate to you in life, they won’t be able to help youin death or crisis.

Most vets offer a starter puppy package, and older pets hopefully have some history, but vaccinations are crucial to your pet’s overall health. The newest option is customized vaccines that are specific to your dog.

If you get a pedigreed dog, familiarize yourself with the quirks in the breed’s health and behavior and take a list of questions with you when you go to your vet.
Raw food diets are a growing trend that you might be interested in exploring. The nearest source here is River Hawk Raw Foods in Bliss, Idaho, but organic and other specialized foods are sold at Ketchum’s Thunderpaws and BasicsPlus in Ketchum and Hailey. Do your homework. Some dogs have allergies just like children. Boxers, for example, are prone to a heart defect that might be deflected if they are diet supplemented with taurine and L-carnitine.

Exercise. It’s good for you, it’s good for them.

These are the basics for maintaining a healthy dog, but what if the unforeseen happens? Something like a broken leg during a hike or an organ failure? That can leave an owner faced with difficult decisions at an emotional time.

“Pet insurance is an issue,” says Dr. Mark Acker. “It is an upcoming industry and more people are getting it and the policies are getting better.”
With advances in technology, artificial limbs, ophthalmology, cardiology and the like, insurance can be a great help in allowing an owner to match life-saving possibilities with the pocketbook.

Telemedicine, or the sharing of records via computer, is allowing vets across the country to access consultations with experts in most fields, adding to the care your dog can receive.

That kind of computer link-up is the basis for microchipping your dog. It involves the insertion of a tiny chip beneath the pet’s skin for satellite tracking. Data regarding the dog’s image, vital information and even health concerns can be retrieved whether the animal is reported lost, or is brought in stray and, in some cases, injured. A small number of animals have been found to get malignant tumors from the implants. Talk with your vet about the risks.

An invisible fence adds freedom and safety for your dog and can be installed in most yards. A collar on the dog triggers when the dog crosses a boundary, training it to stay within its confines. If it escapes, the microchip can back up the chase, increasing the likelihood of finding your truant.

For those who don’t mind a roaming dog or the ticket that can come with it, consider PetLights.

After Ketchum vet Karsten Fostvedt saved Sam, a yellow Lab hit by a car while walking in the dark, Sam’s owners invented a collar with easily seen lights all around it. The Sun Valley-based company (www.petlights.com) donates a portion of sales to vets and shelters.

And, because we in the business of journalism believe you can never have too much information, here’s a sampling of more things you need to know to keep your pet happy and healthy from 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet from the ASPCA, available at area veterinary clinics and animal centers. >>>

 From Skis to Spas to Daycare

Whether for health and well-being, pampering or distraction, we will do just about anything to integrate our dogs into our daily routines. If you believe in acupuncture, so shall your dog. Massage? Its healing qualities are unchallenged, sure. A little downward facing dog with your dog? It’s being done elsewhere in the West, it’s only a matter of time until “Baby and Me” yoga means “Puppy and Me.”

However you choose, and under whatever guise, the ways to spoil your dog here are abundant.

Your dog may start its day at doggie daycare at Sawtooth Animal Center in Bellevue, where your dog will be put in one of six yards with equally-matched houndies for a play date that includes balls and a pool with a diving board.

Extravagance, or necessity?

“It depends on the person,” says kennel manager Janel Brown. “We have a dog that was brought here because she was deemed aggressive and couldn’t be left unattended and we’ve been taking her out and socializing her and she’s doing really well.”

Others are here because their owners work long hours and aren’t able to walk them during the day. Some have separation anxiety and need the constant companionship. To be sure, no one is ignored here.

“It’s very similar to taking a child to daycare,” boarding manager Arlene Rosenberg says. “You have to be confident in the person you leave in charge and that they will make sure their kids are interacting and playing well together. And when you have to replace a couch for the umpteenth time, this becomes an affordable option.

“We get great people working here,” she says. “People who love dogs and who are great at reading them.”
Some may opt for a personal touch, with a dog walker like Hound Around’s Ginger Ferries, who has been working with dogs for five-and-a-half years now.
“We take them hiking, to the groomer, whatever they need,” says Ferries, a former masseuse from Portland, Oregon. Massage is also a benefit she offers to the hounds, most often on older dogs that need the tuning up.

Once your dog has loosened up with a playdate and massage, it’s time to take advantage of the incredible hiking opportunities that abound, or, if it’s winter, you can grab your cross-country skis and enjoy the many trails managed by the Blaine County Recreation District trail system at www.bcrd.org. Use the trails to get your dog in shape for the annual Paw and Pole, one of the oldest winter traditions here featuring ski and snowshoe races and silly costume contests. Now more than two decades old, it is aptly a fund-raiser for the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

Got a dirty dog? Doesn’t matter the breed, The Dirty Beagle in Hailey is waiting with wide tubs and warm water.
Frank Alloway has been doing your dirty work, or helping you with your dingy dog, for five years now. The set-up is designed with the dogs in mind. Long rows of tubs, “so they can look down the row and see each other,” he says. Mirrors, “so they can check their look on the way out.”

Alloway knew he was on to something when he moved here from Boise and learned there were more dogs per capita here than anywhere else in Idaho. He offers frequent-washer cards, sells grooming supplies and toys, and has a special offer for the recently skunked.

“We have a secret formula for that,” he says. As we exit, he adds, “Yes, I have a beagle, a dirty beagle.”

Now that your dog is looking super-fine, why not take him on a gallery walk?

Lyn Stallard and Terry Tischer, makers of Fortunate Dog Cookies (which are sold at local pet stores and also at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and have been featured in People magazine) have opened Tails West, a Ketchum gallery-row venue at 271 Second Avenue North with all animal-related art.

“It’s not a pet store, it’s an art gallery,” says Tischer, “and the art we have is very fine art.” Some whimsical, some serious, it’s all worth a wag. And, of course, all hairy patrons can enjoy a fortune cookie treat.

 Winner by a Nose

He’s a cowboy without any cows, but even at the tender age of 10, he’s won his share of seemingly unwinnable rodeos.

Cowboy is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from Bellevue with a string of ribbons and awards that would make any cowpoke proud. He’s beat thousands of other breed standouts across the country and competed at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He’s been No. 5 and No. 6 top dog of his type in the AKC and No. 4 in the United Kennel Club (all various competition rankings).

That many wins is usually credited to a handler—someone the breeder hires to do the in-the-ring work. In this case, owner Kathy Clark does it all, which makes the winning all the sweeter, she says. Clark, who works as a controller at Sturtevant’s, “to support the dogs,” and her husband Bruce, a middle school teacher, consider what they do a hobby, but their rankings make them less than amateur.

Cowboy is semi-retired while his buddies at Clarken Kennel step up to the gate.

Lark, a four-year-old Corgi, is moving up the charts, as is Roger, a Sussex spaniel, two and a half, who finished No. 12 in the country at the Eukanuba National Dog Show in Long Beach, California, for 2006, and is currently ranked in the top 10.

What’s so special about this kennel, or these dogs?
“They are rotten and they bark and they are horrible little dogs and we adore them,” Clark laughs. She attributes some of their success to “where we live—we have fresh air, we don’t have to kennel our dogs, their coat is always in great natural shape.”

 Barking 9 to 5 – Dogs in the Workplace

It’s hard to believe—in spite of living in an environment that is so blatantly dog accommodating—but there are some people that don’t love your dog as much as you do. (They could even be allergic. Or, they might not like dogs, if you can imagine that!)

In many offices in the Wood River Valley you are likely to be greeted by humans accompanied by their furry “kids.” And offering a “dog friendly” work environment is often a perk employers use to hook workers.

But, even if the boss is pro dog, it is your responsibility to make your pup’s presence as low impact as possible, with courtesy shown to your co-workers. We did some research and compiled some points to consider before bringing your canine child to work. Some of the following advice might seem obvious, but if it had been, someone wouldn’t have taken the time to write it down!

• It may take a village to raise a child, but don’t expect your office mates to teach your dog what it should know before coming in to work with you. Potty training is a no-brainer but a protective dog that barks at visitors or blares through conference calls is never okay. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, disruptive dogs are unfair to others, and to the boss that allows you to bring your pet as it may compromise your focus and productivity—exactly what bringing the dog was supposed to accommodate.

• Unless you are working outside, your dog needs to have the same attention to hygiene that you give yourself. Don’t bring a soaking wet, smelly, muddy or mangled mop to the office to stink it up.

• If you have kids, you know not to go anywhere where patience is required without the proper implements for comfort and distraction. Bring bones, beds, toys, food and anything else to allow your dog to settle in comfortably.

• Don’t let dogs roam unattended. You can’t know when a delivery person might encounter your pup, meaning a conflict or, more dangerously, an escape you don’t see.

• If there are a number of office dogs, establish some time for them to play together and blow off steam, if they show an interest. Letting them roll down the hall is not acceptable.

• Unless someone offers, don’t assume an underling should consider your dog part of their job. Walking and potty breaks are for you to do.

• If you have a shared potty space, or an area adjacent to your office that is used for dogs to relieve themselves, clean up after them and put the odorous package in an outside receptacle.

Enjoy the privilege and joy that having your buddy at work can bring by following some basic etiquette. If maintaining these guidelines makes it more stressful, find alternatives for your friend. It doesn’t work for every dog, but if you are lucky enough to have one for whom it does, it’s a perk most don’t have in the modern work world.

Circle of Life

“Take a few days. We can keep her until you decide.” With those simple words, Dr. Mark Acker took pounds of burden off my already laden heart. My beloved Emma Claire—Emma Shmema, The Shmeminator, Em & Em, the irrepressible impish boxer that a psychic once told me (unsolicited) was my horse in a former life, who had accidentally killed me and was back to be my guide—died suddenly of arterial dysfunction. A heart attack, with no warning, no symptoms, no salvation. Adding to the trauma, it happened in front of my two three-year-old daughters.

From the moment I reached Emma’s lifeless body, minutes after we started into the house after a play session, my mind was whirling with what to do next. As I shook her, pumped her chest and heaved her into the car, I had to consider how I was reacting. I wanted to scream, cry, curse, blame someone, leave the kids and rush to the hospital with Emma in hopes of saving her but, while being true to my emotions, I also had to show some control. Some calm, thoughtful effort. Panic would do nothing for anyone, and, how could I tell my kids to remain calm and proactive in the face of adversity if I couldn’t do it myself?
Turns out my instincts were right. As I made my way through the process of surrender, guilt, pain and sorrow, I learned how poignant death is to all.

You have the right to grieve

Grieving thoroughly is one of life’s primary lessons. How we do it sets the tone for our recovery from it. It can also establish for your children the process that they will rely on when they are faced with grief. Don’t underestimate the power of losing a beloved pet, nor can you overdo what you feel you need to do to honor your lost one. On the other hand, underplaying your emotions may return as lingering regret and leave children ill-equipped to deal with the unpleasant turn in life’s cycle.

I had lost small pets before and dealt with their deaths unceremoniously for the most part, either by toilet flushing or garbage bagging. There was one Viking burial of a mouse on the bayou. We had one fabulous ceremony for my mom’s favorite cat. Turns out, after a candlelight vigil and poetry, we buried someone else’s cat and Sam came back from the dead the next day. But, I stray. Emma was my first love. I sent out birth announcements when I got her. I thought she was my child. She spooned with me like no man ever could.
I hurt so badly, like no one could understand, I was sure, but, I wasn’t alone in my grief. I had real kids, a husband, cats and a dog and friends missing her, too, and I had to determine how we would say goodbye that would serve us all.
Making arrangements

I returned to the vet’s office the next day to discuss my options with Dr. Mark. He offered me a room to spend some time with Emma alone, something I would have thought was an intrusion on the business day and something I would have been too shy to ask for. I studied her slightly frozen body. I knew her spirit had left, I am convinced I felt it leave in the driveway of my home 12 hours earlier. But I had to decide what to do with her remains.
I could have her cremated. They could take her and either dispose of the ashes, return them in a keepsake box or in a temporary urn to house them until I decided to spread them myself. Or, I could bring her home.

Dr. Mark shared with me his experience. In his years as a pet owner, he had experienced nearly as many personal losses as he had helped others endure and long ago decided he would prefer to bury his deceased pets on his land out Croy Canyon.

With a head full of options, I went home and watched Where the Red Fern Grows, sobbed till I was dehydrated and declared to my husband (who had a year earlier cremated his beloved blue heeler with his favorite black Stetson) that I would need a great hole dug in the yard.

The girls and I had scoped out the front and back yards. Beneath the pine out front was a favorite cool-down spot, but we couldn’t see the spot from inside and, when Emma was inside, she was in her favorite chair by the window, gazing out. In the garden beneath the window seat it would be. Taking cues from the girls, we planned the burial. They wanted to see Emma, even though she was frozen. They stroked her and talked to her while their dad dug the hole. We dressed her in her favorite fleece court jester coat and the girls chose a tiara from their costume box, “Because she was the first princess, Mama,” they advised. We dabbed lavender oil over her; I had read that it warded off evil spirits. The girls sang a few songs from their minimal repertoire: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and the classy “My Humps,” and dropped in pictures of them with her, pictures they drew for her, a letter we wrote for her and a snack.

Before the burial, I had sent out e-mails to people who knew her in Arizona, Texas, California, Missouri and around Idaho. The response was validating. Emma had touched so many people. She had a fan club in our neighborhood and some folks raised money for us to help with her vet expenses. My dad got a photo of her lasered onto granite. Dr. Mark made a river stone for her garden spot, too.

Weeks after the ceremony, Mark and wife Barbara led me and a photographer and their passel of dogs up to a small hill behind their home to his personal pet cemetery. Each spot was marked with a river rock stone with a fitting description engraved on it. Once again, I was validated. I knew I had made the right choice for Emma, and me, and my family.

In this ever-rushing world we live in, grief seems to be relegated to the car, the bathroom, anywhere but in front of anyone else and on anyone else’s time. Don’t let the rest of the world’s short-sightedness dictate how you say goodbye. Take time out. Listen to your heart. Talk it out, shout it out, cry it out. Try and end it all with a smile of remembering a soul that enriched your life. You’ll only regret what you didn’t do.

Some places to turn
Animal Hospice of the Wood River Valley has a fabulous website loaded with information and support. Here you can share your pet’s life story. No pet is too strange! The anonymity may make it easier for some to share. http://animalhospice.org

Headstones, markers, memorials
Hailey Nursery, Inc. Signs and Memorials: www.haileynursery.com or 208.788.3161
To have a picture tribute lasered onto marble, granite, travertine, wood, leather, glass, acrylic and metal: Capstone Laser Design, Mike Kimball 208.481.1801.

This article appears in the Winter 2008 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.