I made arrangements to breed Oscar a few months ago, hoping to have an Oscar son. All that was left was waiting for the female to have her 2nd birthday and pass her health clearances. Yesterday, in a last-minute switch, the breeder informed me they were going with a different dog, as they decided on a dog that had litters before. This was crushing, as I had put aside money for showing Oscar’s son, arranged things with the dog walker, pushed back my vacation time to be with the puppy, and was in the process of buying a SUV for multiple swissies. Last fall, Oscar was supposed to be bred to a different female, but she had failed her clearances. We realize there are bumps in the road, but words can not express how disappointed I am. I write this post with the hope we can reach out to a swissy owner with a female looking to be bred to Oscar. We love going to dog shows, and I would love the chance to have Oscar’s son to show. People offer me showdogs all the time, but there is nothing I would treasure more than having Oscar’s son. Plus he would love having a puppy to play with.
I read an article in the NY Times today titled, “The Dog’s One Big Headache, but My Kids Adore Her“. Andy Hinds, a father of two, complained about his 6 year old swissy female calling her “a liability.”
Every dog owner goes through up and downs, but I urge Andy to look at the advantages of owning a dog. He should think about his Greater Swiss Mountain dog carting his girls around in their wagons. I am disturbed about Andy giving his 4 1/2 year old twin girls the choice of returning Stella, the dog they grew up with. When I was in kindergarden, my mother received a cocker spaniel as a gift. Without knowing how to take care of a dog, she returned it after four days, which I will never forget. He should not scar his girls by making them responsible. What happens when they actually miss Stella?
That scar for me changed eight years later. After tutoring a friend’s neighbor in Math, I was offered their cocker spaniel Bambi, which they had for a month. After a few weeks my mother got overwhelmed with the puppy, but being in 7th grade, I told her that I would stop going to school if she was given away. My mother decided to keep the puppy and Bambi (followed by Becky, another cocker spaniel) became her best friend. During her chemo, my mother knew she had a furry friend to support her, and it helped her out tremendously.
Reading Andy’s article made me appreciate and hug Oscar. I could not imagine how I would feel if someone else got him!
This weekend I had to stop by the bank to finalize some things for another property that I am purchasing at the Beach. When I mentioned I was with Oscar, the banker asked me to bring him inside. I brought Oscar in, and he received a nice big treat! The Community Bank of Delaware was a great experience for both me and Oscar. Is your bank dog friendly?
After a cold winter, there’s still some snow left on the beach on a 50 degree day.That is not stopping Oscar from enjoying his beach time at Dewey Beach! The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, who enjoys rolling in both the snow and the sand, ran up and down the beach loving the new combination of sand and snow. Luckily, cleaning up Oscar after the beach was not as difficult as I thought it would be.
Oscar and I enjoyed Dewey Beach last weekend, which is one of only a few year-round off-leash dog friendly beaches on the east coast. During his beach time, the Swissy met up with three Bernese Mountain Dogs and had lots of fun playing with them!
Then the idea came! What if Dewey Beach held a Mountain Dog Weekend in either May or September, which would be filled with the Greater Swiss breed, Berners, Entlebuchers, and all of their big dog relatives and friends? The sight of all of these different types of mountain dogs in Dewey Beach enjoying the sunset with their owners would make a great picture. I envision activities such as a costume party, yappy hour, first aid classes, how to build a cart, carting lessons, and maybe even a sheep herding lesson.
Please give us your feedback if you would be interested in this type of a weekend at the beach! We can be reached at oscarthegrouchdog @ gmail.com (removing the spaces).
Hurricane Sandy ruined Oscar’s Halloween last year, and only a few people were able to see his gator costume. No hurricane this year was going to stop the Swissy from trick-or-treating. Oscar happily showed his tricks for some treats around NYC. The Swissy’s costume was not unique. The second largest dog in his building also had the same costume. I guess there are only so many triple XL dog costumes available!
Oscar also participated in the Seawitch Halloween Parade in Dewey Beach the weekend before Halloween this year.
As of Friday, the first day of summer, Oscar now has a beach house in Dewey Beach to enjoy every summer. Everything fell into place with the house: 80% of the list price, a super low mortgage rate of 2.75%, and the owner putting 10k into improvements prior to the sale, so it became a no brainer. The three story house is right on the beach block, so Oscar will be a short walk away from the year-round dog friendly beach. Oscar will also be able to utilize all four decks, as the front two decks have ocean and bay views, while the back deck will allow him to watch over the pool and the main strip of Dewey. We also plan to host a housewarming party for Oscar’s swissy friends in the near future. The beach house will also be available for weekly rentals on BeachTime.com when we can’t make it down.
I have been concentrating on buying the place over the past two months, but will now have the spare time to greatly enhance & expand CentralBark.com.
Oscar won Best of Breed last Sunday. The points he earned from winning also helped him achieve his bronze Grand Championship! The dog show was at Mercer Park in Princeton, New Jersey, which is one of the nicest dog show locations in the area. With amazing weather, the show was packed with people either showing their dogs or just bringing their dogs to the park.
As we were driving home, Oscar and I got stuck in traffic heading to the Lincoln Tunnel as a result of the Hoboken Music festival. As a reward for Oscar’s hard work, I parked the car, paid the steep parking fee of $20 and the swissy had the chance to walk around for an hour and make some new friends. Once we got home, Oscar was exhausted and slept until the next morning.
Oscar went to the eye doctor for a check-up last Saturday before the Swissy party. While he has received a normal rating in the past, it is still very important for dogs to get check-ups as a preventative measure. The process was very simple. The assistant and I held down the 120 lb. greater swiss mountain dog (“aka Oscar The Grouch”) to keep him from moving as two eye drops were inserted into each eye. Oscar was probably wondering what was going on. We then brought him into a room where the eye doctor, Dr. Catherine Nunnery, examined the Swissy with different magnified views and lights.
While waiting on line, we met with breeders as well as people who do not plan on breeding their dogs. Everyone there believed that an eye-checkup was important. It’s also inexpensive at around $30-$40.
When looking for a breeder, the eyes of both parents (for any breed) should be recently checked and rated normal through OFA or CERF. If the breeder last had the dog’s eyes examined a few years ago, you should wonder why they are not being re-evaluated for such a quick, inexpensive test?
As for other tests for Swissies, remember to only accept puppies where both parents had OFA Passing Ratings for Hips, Elbows, and Shoulders. You have to trust the breeders for grey areas (epilepsy, temperament, bloat). The four above tests (Eyes, Hips, Elbows, Shoulders) are not grey areas. They do not guarantee a healthy puppy, but they increase your odds. You can get to the OFA’s website by clicking here.
Oscar and I attended the semi-annual Mid-Atlantic Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (MAGS) club party this past Saturday. With many swissies in attendance, Oscar had a great time meeting and playing with new friends. There was an adorable swissy puppy named Frankie who everyone (including Oscar) fell in love with. It was not a warm enough day for people to swim, but apparently it was for some of the swissies. We would like to thank Katie and Randy Markley for hosting the party.
Oscar is very thankful for all of the birthday wishes that he received today. The Greater Swiss Mountain dog celebrated in style this afternoon, with a beer squeaky toy and a singing birthday cake toy, a birthday hat, and many treats courtesy of Petco. It is hard to believe that Oscar was a miracle baby only three years ago. Most of his brothers and sisters died during his mother’s emergency caesarian operation. The only three survivors were Oscar and his two sisters. The moment I saw him at 3 weeks old, I knew that he would be the swissy for me!
When we posted over 2,500 pictures from Westminster, we wanted everyone to see what a great experience it was to attend a dog show.
Unfortunately, not everyone agreed. Cheryl Gerzabek (GSMDCA Director, past SCONE VP) and Laurie Carmody (Swissy Club of New England Treasurer) have been discussing taking ambush pictures of Oscar (excerpts below). As individuals in club leadership positions, they should not participate in taking pictures of any dog show participants or attendees and portraying them in a negative light. What if those women whose pictures were taken negatively were prospective swissy owners?
To make matters worse, a fake Facebook account was created last week to illegally impersonate and harrass me. The five friends of the fake account are Brian Ullom, Jamie Scott Ullom, Billie Anderson, Cheryl Gerzabek and Laurie Carmody. Brian was a fellow swissy owner who was out of work after losing his job and had a child to support. I felt bad for him so I hired him for two weekends, as more of a dogsitter than a handler. I had to get away for those weekends, and my regular handlers were on vacation. Ordinarily I would not have paid more money to use a handler in training, but needed to go away. Once I stopped using Brian, I have been harassed non-stop. Being involved with impersonating a former client is not the way to get more work. Billie is involved with Cheryl’s handler.
We believe the main reason Cheryl and Laurie are upset was our article on Meet The Breed. We requested a public posting of the event, rotation of participants, and the ability to allow a diverse selection of swissy owners to participate with breeders like other breeds and clubs do. We also believe that any breeder who is not breeding with final clearances should lose the ability to participate for that year. This has riled up those who stand to lose from such a system. The existing system has apparently allowed one family to take up 75% of the booth spots of that day as others were turned away. Instead of opening up the process, high barriers were added to the newly issued selection criteria to prevent others from participating. Oscar and I do not expect to ever be able to participate after trying to change the current system, but have asked for the ability to allow others the opportunity to participate and promote breeding standards. (A fan recently posted a great suggestion for a system where the swissy rescue volunteers run the booth, since they are spending the time cleaning up everyone’s mess.)
Either way, we simply request that these five individuals forget that we exist and find some other way to occupy their time.
Every time we passed by Ralph’s Italian Ices last year, the employees would give Oscar treats, and I would get some of their amazing ices. On our walk today we passed by, but they have not opened yet for the season. Oscar went on strike and did not understand where his treats were. I had to trick him by putting a treat in the usual spot, and he jumped up as if they were open. Unfortunately, I did not get my ices!
We would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter and Passover! With the nice weather in NYC, look out for a giant “bunny rabbit”, also known as the greater swiss mountain dog that will be strolling around town on Easter Sunday.
Today that bunny rabbit took a four mile stroll around midtown. He walked from Murray Hill to Macy’s Herald Square and then down to Madison Square Park and back home. Oscar had his exercise and met new people on this great spring day!
On Sunday, Oscar and I went for a walk at Madison Square Dog Park. We usually just hang out outside of the dog park area because the ground has too many dirty pebbles. However, this time was different. Oscar met another Swissy, Nellie. It was love at first sight, and Oscar did what any other teenage dog would do by barking until he got her attention. If Oscar did not say hello to her, it would have been a long walk home. The pictures tell the rest of the story, but of course there was drama. I usually carry Oscar’s treats in a shopping bag. Before we left the park, a random dog jumped up and ripped the shopping bag, so it was raining treats for all of the dogs! Once that trick worked, he kept trying to repeat it.
As we were walking home, we met someone who knew Oscar from his website! We also met some new fans, and Oscar got called Snapple. Snapple is the name of a female Greater Swiss Mountain dog in our neighborhood. I guess the Swissies are taking over Manhattan now!
New York City finally has spring weather, and everyone is outside when Oscar goes for a walk. A typical spring walk involves Oscar saying hello to the mail lady, performing some tricks, and getting a treat in return. We usually walk 1½ miles to Madison Square Park. On our way to the park, Oscar stops at all of the outdoor eateries looking for people who want to see his tricks for more treats (which I will provide for them to give him). Once we reach the park, the swissy will say hello to the other dogs. My only issue with him is when it is time to leave the park. Oscar will spread all four legs to say I am NOT leaving!
Ranny Green, a long time Seattle Times feature writer/editor and Dog Writer’s Association of America Hall of Famer has published a feature story about Oscar The Grouch with his friend Juliette, the Bernese Mountain Dog. Keaton the Tibetan Terrier, Steed the Borzoi, and Indy the Dalmatian were also mentioned in the article. The story symbolizes the mark that the five Westminster Kennel Club participants leave outside of the ring. The feature story can be accessed on the Seattle Kennel Club’s web page here. Once you read Ranny’s article, you may fall in love with his monthly feature. He also wrote a book “Good Dogs Bad Habits: The Complete A-To-Z Guide for When Your Dog Misbehaves“.
If you live near Seattle, we encourage you to attend the dog show on March 9th & 10th at the Century Link Field Event Center. Activities include the dog show, obedience, rally, and agility.
New York Times columnist Mary Pillon wrote a front page story about Cruz The Samoyed after learning about it a few days earlier from CentralBark.com. We conducted a ten minute phone interview with her prior to the story. We informed her about what we learned from Cruz’s owner and some of the history of poisonings both in NYC (at dog parks in Sept) and at dog shows. During the interview, we stressed that Cruz’s death occurred during the Denver cluster of the dog show, and not to sensationalize the Westminster aspect of the story, which she did anyway. Unfortunately, she also did not give us the proper attribution or credit in her article. A search on the web revealed that this type of behavior occurs frequently. Ms. Pillon owes Oscar a nice-sized bone as an apology!
The below links lead to over 2500 photos we took at Westminster Kennel Club last month. Enjoy!
Westminster Dog Show Day 1
Westminster Dog Show Day 2: Part 1 (including the Bernese Mountain Dogs)
Westminster Dog Show Day 2: Part 2
Westminster Dog Show Day 2: Part 3 (at MSG including Working Group & Best in Show)
Westminster Dog Show Day 2: Part 4 (Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs)
Thanks to a random youtube user, we were finally able to see Oscar’s appearance on televison. The segment had aired during the Westminster Kennel Club broadcast while I was at the show. I am very proud of how well Oscar looked on television.
During the segment, I was asked what’s the difference is between the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Swissy) and Bernese Mountain Dog (Berner). I responded by saying that they are very similar in many ways but the Swissy is around 10 lbs. bigger with a haircut. If you look at the standard there are overlaps, as bigger Berners are being produced which overlap with smaller Swissies. Swissies are a touch more muscular, powerful with a little protector in them. But they both do drafting, carting, and sheep herding work. Berners have health issues such as cancer, but Swissies have been getting epilepsy problems, possibly a result of breeding issues. However, I believe that a sound bite is not the proper place for this information to be discussed. The personalities of each dog are different, so it is not right to generalize. Both the similarity and the confusion have been around for many years, as swissies were re-discovered at a dog show in 1908 when someone entered them into the show as odd Berners.
The answer I gave has produced some negative responses to include the following: we should get shot, we set the breed back 20 years, and now everyone will want a Swissy. The first response is unacceptable. In light of what happened with Sandy Hook and the possible intentional poisoning of Cruz, I believe this is very wrong as the website is about the pleasures of owning a dog. As to everyone wanting a swissy, what’s wrong with interest in the breed? Swissies cost around $2000-$2500 along with most breeders having a questionnaire and a long waitlist. It’s not like they will be flying off shelves during Black Friday! Lastly, having a dog should be a fun but constant learning experience including mentoring new people. New dog owners will be scared off by random swissy breeders and owners posting threatening messages to an audience of over 80,000 off a sound bite. As a question to all of Oscar’s fans, what do you think is the difference between a Swissy and Berner?
The top Samoyed of 2013, Cruz, died from the rat poison Warfarin last weekend at the Denver dog show cluster, only a few days after attending Westminster in New York. Cruz’s vet said the poisoning occurred sometime during that week, which most likely happened in New York. The poison could have been easily slipped into a dog treat. There have been a few dogs who have recently died from mysterious poisonings at dog parks in New York. Poisonings have also occurred at dog shows as early as 1895. In 2011, a number of dogs died from poisoning at the San Marino International dog show in Italy. After hearing this scary news, I will be sure to keep a very close eye on Oscar and will be careful not to accept any treats from strangers!
During many nights, Oscar will wait until the lights are out and I am sleeping to jump into the bed and lay over my feet like a 125 lb. brick. Oscar is very careful not to get caught, so he often gets out of the bed before he thinks I will wake up. However, this time the swissy was actually caught as he took the bed sheet with him to use as a blanket on the floor. Does anyone else’s greater swiss mountain dog (also known as the “velcro dog”) want to sleep right next to them at night?
Since we posted about SCONE finally revealing their secret Meet The Breed criteria (after 2 years of asking), we have received many positive comments and e-mails with others sharing their experiences with dog politics. There is no reason why there should not be a rotation with other swissy owners being able to attend and being able to get mentored instead of the same select people attending year after year.
There was one message from the President of SCONE (aka Swissy Club of New England), Peter Ziegler, which differed from all of the positive feedback:
“…The Swissies participating in this event have earned many awards in various activities and are representing the true meaning of what it is to be a WORKING!!!… We don’t need people at this event to brag about their dog, rather showing the facts what a Swissy is all about. What better way to inform people about this great breed is to have reputable breeders running the show? … For you David, I would like to acknowledge all the success you had with your dog, but I have to be very direct in a different way: Get off your couch, stop whining and bickering.”
A year ago we posted about Oscar receiving hate mail for his website after it was only up for 4 days! We now feel that it’s important to let you know it came from another person who holds one of the other four leadership spots on SCONE and also serves on the Board of the GSMDCA, Kelly Nevin. “Wider Audience, really, noone has a website for their ‘pet’ dog, dog websites are for show, breeding or performance brags/info. And you wouldn’t like what people are saying because of that, let’s just say not positive.”
In response to Peter, we have introduced Oscar to many activities including sheep herding, swimming, and weight-pulling. We are working on carting next. It sounds like you will not give owners a chance to participate in a Meet The Breed event even for a few hours, believing only breeders can run the show instead of rotating and having a diverse selection of swissy owners help out. Also if a breeder breeds without clearances, you would think they shouldn’t allowed to participate for that year. In response to Kelly, I believe that 80,000 fans a year later would have disagreed with you. “Good luck with your website” would have been a nicer comment to make!
I realize Oscar and I will never be able to attend a Meet The Breed, but we hope this shines a light on the insider process Meet The Breed for Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs has become. It’s a shame things can’t be done like they are for other breeds (with everyone working together) because of the actions of a few.
When Oscar is home he eats 3-4 lbs. raw food a day from Tefco, which is one of the best quality raw foods around. However, it can be messy for a dog show handler, so when he travels I started sending him with Nature’s Variety Frozen Raw Food. It is more expensive ($20 for a day’s supply), but it is easy to travel with. For the two and half weeks Oscar was in Florida, I sent him with sixteen bags of food. After reading the alert below from a fellow swissy owner, I am not sure if I will buy food from them anymore. This is very scary, and I am wondering if any of their food is safe. For now on, Oscar will just be getting his Meat Eater from Tefco.
Oscar’s Website was mentioned and linked to in a number of media publications recently including the LA Times. We are so grateful for the support. Please keep visiting the site as we have many more surprises to come including thousands of behind the scenes Westminster Kennel Club pictures from our photographer who was on-site. Professional cameras put the images into very large files so there’s post-processing required before the pictures can be posted.