Wordless Wednesday PLUS: a contest!

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And now: a contest! TU had a looooooong winter and spent a lot of time waiting for spring.  Now that it’s finally (finally!) warming up again, we wanted to celebrate with all of you guys by hosting one of our annual occasional whenever-we-happen-to-think-of-it-and-have-something-cool-to-give-away photo contests! The theme for this contest is “Spring Has Sprung”: we want to see pictures of your dogs springing, leaping, jumping and otherwise getting big air in the great outdoors. Need inspiration? Check out the photos of River, Owen, Julio and Frankie above.  We’re giving you one week to take an awesome picture of your jumping dog/s: you can either submit them on the Team Unruly Facebook page (we’ll put up an official contest submission thread) or you can email them to us at teamunrulyblog@gmail.com.

Is there a prize? You bet there’s a prize! This time, we’re giving away a Flat Out Leash by Ruffwear. These leashes are light, sturdy and really well designed: you can use the handle as a regular handle or you can extend it to wear it around your waist, plus the handle comes apart so you can use it as a tether (if you’ve got to leave your dog for a second and run in for a coffee or something).  It’s got a nice hidden accessory loop for hanging poop bags or your keys, there’s a traffic handle right near the clip, and the clip itself is this great, springy, hard-core thing, very different from your average swivel snap.  Plus, they are really strong and can handle a lot of nonsense: Kelsey’s dogs are constantly dragging their Ruffwear leashes around through the water and the sand, using them for tug-of-war matches with each other, getting them wrapped around trees, etc. and not only are they still going strong, they all look brand new.  The one we have to give away is black with a handsome gray stripe: it’s suave, gender-neutral, goes with everything and will help you and your buddy enjoy the great outdoors this spring.

Ruffwear leash

Stock photo from Ruffwear.com, but this is what the winner’s leash will look like!

You have SIX DAYS from the time of this post to submit your photo to us: all photos need to be in by 5 PM MST on Tuesday, April 21st to qualify for the contest.  We’ll decide the winner and will announce it in next week’s Wordless Wednesday post, where we’ll also feature the winner’s photo. So get out there and SPRING!

Team Unruly Reads: Show Dog (Josh Dean)

Josh Dean (author) poses with Jack (star)

Welcome to Round Two of Team Unruly Reads, TU’s semi-monthly virtual book club where we get together to talk about dog-themed books. This month, we’re reading Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred. We’ll be keeping this post open for comments through Monday, 3 December: we hope that’s just enough time for a fun, easy-to-follow discussion that gives us enough time to get into things but doesn’t stretch on forever.

As before, the floor is open for you to talk about anything you’d like to bring up about the book. Likes, dislikes, interesting bits, open-mouthed gawking at some of the intra-breed bad behavior, whatever you’d like!

If you’re stuck for what to talk about, here are a couple of our thoughts that might spark your own ideas:

  • Dean doesn’t hide the fact that while he’s a big fan of dogs, he’s an outsider to both dog shows and the larger world of Dog People. He does, however, still clearly have dogs on the brain: he’s been writing an occasional dog-based blog since the publication of the book. In the blog, he writes “I’m often asked to explain how I, a guy who has written mostly about people and sports, came to write about dog shows. I tend to answer that a) you can’t have dog shows without people, and a book about dog shows is as much about people as it is about dogs, and b) many would argue that dog showing is a sport, and I felt pretty confident I could cover it in that way. And I did. Sort of….[O]ne of the things that scared me most putting it out there into the world was that dog show people might find it overly simplistic, or somehow wrong.”

So first, people who show: did he get it right? And second, for the rest of us: did you think the fact that the book was authored by a non-Dog Person helped it? Hurt it? Something in between?

Team Jack: (l) Kimberly Smith, Jack’s owner, (r) Kerry Kirtley, Jack’s breeder (far right: Jack)

More Team Jack: Heather Bremmer, Jack’s primary handler (r: Jack)

  • The relationship between humans and dogs is always an important factor in books like these, and in a situation like Jack’s (where he’s got a whole bunch of really important humans in his life), it’s even more multi-dimensional.  For me, one of the most interesting part of Show Dog was the (sometimes tense) interactions between Kimberly (Jack’s owner), Heather (Jack’s handler) and Kerry (Jack’s breeder). While they all wanted him to win, they each had their own specific goals for him that the others didn’t share, and I get the sense they had pretty different methods for achieving those goals. What did you think about this?

Frisbeeeeeeee! (don’t tell Heather)

  • Of course, in a perfect world, all show dogs are beloved family pets first and foremost; however, as the occasional tension between Kimberly and Heather (over Frisbee, Jack’s condition, Jack’s manners and so on) indicated, sometimes a dog’s career as a pet can be a little at odds with their career as a show dog.  Thoughts on this? What about dogs who are involved in other kinds of performance venues (sports, service, different kinds of work, etc)? Is it possible for dogs to comfortably wear multiple hats (service dog during the day, lazy buddy playing with the kids at night) or do Dogs With Jobs have to sacrifice a ‘normal’ life?

Vendor area at the Peninsula Dog Fanciers’ Club All-Breed Dog Show

  • As I do not live under a rock, I was aware that a bunch of money flows through dog shows, but BOY does Show Dog shine a light on that! From the show vendors to the entry fees to the, um, “collection services” to the rates for professional handlers to the people who are jetting between shows in their private planes, it seems pretty clear that showing dogs (especially at the higher levels) is not an inexpensive hobby to participate in.
  • On this same note, Dean writes a lot about the growing professionalization of dog shows, particularly the near-ubiquity of professional handlers (rather than owner-handlers). Of course, this dovetails with a growing trend towards specialists/away from amateurs in many, many hobbies and pastimes (don’t believe me? Check out Stefan Fatsis’s Word Freak, about the competitive Scrabble circuit, and Sam Walker’s Fantasyland about an especially ruthless fantasy baseball league made up of fantasy baseball professionals (which, among other things, spawned Nate Silver). Anyway, as a current non-show person who is vaguely interested in maybe showing someday, I found this all rather terrifying! Do you feel the same, non-show people? And show people, what do you think? Are Dean’s concerns overblown here?

There is so, so much more to talk about, but that’ll hopefully get you started! In the meantime, I will leave you with an excellent video of Jack’s most recent litter of puppies, with book co-star, Hallie B.

[Wait, one more thing: anyone wanna take bets on how long it'll be before Josh Dean gets a dog?]

48 Hour Tugathon Winners!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in our first-ever photo contest–we hope you enjoyed seeing everyone’s fun tug pictures as much as we did! As we expected, we had so many fabulous entries that picking a winner was a very hard choice, and in the end, we found we couldn’t pick just one! Our final result was a tie between two fabulous photos:

First, there’s Sarah and Major, representin’ with the Jolly Tug (a toy that’s so popular among the Team Unruly writers that we couldn’t figure out why we forgot to include it in our tug toy recommendations post!) We loved the composition of this shot, the look of joy on Major’s face and the (maybe accidental) shout-out to the Michelangelo Creation of Adam. Great photo, you guys!

Our second winner is Nicole and her flyball champ AgiTater (shown here with his Premier Tennis Tug). We couldn’t get enough of his gravity-defying intensity, and even more than that, we loved seeing how much obvious fun the two of them were having together. We’ve been talking about tug this week precisely because we love seeing dogs and their humans playing with each other, and this picture is a fabulous example of that.

We couldn’t let either of our winners go home empty-handed, so both Sarah and Nicole will be receiving a tug from Red Dog Tugs!

We also wanted to give a shout out to our runner-up, Flona, who made us all collectively “awwww!” with her photo of her dog Strider and his fuzzy soccer ball. Look at that face!

And to everyone else who entered, please know that we got a huge kick out of every single one of your photos, and we’re so glad you entered. We had a great time with this contest, so much that we may even make this a semi-regular feature, so if you didn’t get to enter this time, stay tuned: you may have another chance. Congrats again to our winners!