Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just a Photo ...

Just a photo today. This is Indy at the UKC Premier, it was taken on 6/14/08. You may marvel at his physical prowess now :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Class Action Lawsuit Against Pet Food Manufacturers

This came across one of my email lists today and I felt it worthy of sharing with you.
I am very curious to see what the outcome of this lawsuit is. I definitely fall on the side of the plaintiff and hope that this has some impact on the pet food industry or at least on the public perception of it.

This is the press release:

Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pet Food Companies and
Retailers For Misleading Consumers Regarding the Contents of Pet

"Premium" Pet Food Marketed and Sold as "Complete and Balanced" Has
Historically Contained Such Items as Euthanized Dogs and Cats,
Restaurant Grease, Hair, Hooves, and Diseased Animals, and Other
Inedible Garbage

[MIAMI, FLORIDA] A cat and dog owner from Michigan and two cat and
dog owners from Florida have filed a nationwide class action against
food industry giants Mars, Inc., Proctor and Gamble Co., Colgate
Palmolive Company, Del Monte Foods, Co., and Nestle U.S.A. Inc.
These manufacturers have a combined approximate 70% of the market
share in the $16 billion dollar a year pet food industry. The suit
also names as Defendants Nutro Products, Inc., Menu Foods, Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc. Target Corp., Publix Supermarkets, Inc., Winn Dixie
Stores, Inc., as manufacturers and marketers of their own brand pet
food and retailers PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., Pet Supermarket,
Inc., and Petsmart Inc.

The Plaintiffs maintain that these companies have spent $300 million
a year in making false and misleading marketing statements regarding
the contents of their pet food to the dog and cat loving American
public. While these Defendants tout their pet food products as
choice cuts of prime beef, chunks of chicken, fish, fresh wholesome
vegetables and whole grains to induce consumers to buy them, the
Plaintiffs contend the food is actually made from "inedible"
slaughterhouse waste products of the human food chain such as
spines, heads, tails, hooves, hair, and blood. Rendering companies
who process this waste have also added other inedible "waste" such
as euthanized cats and dogs from veterinarian offices and animal
shelters, road kill, zoo animals, rancid restaurant grease, toxic
chemicals and additives. Additionally, dead animals and those
declared unfit for human consumption due to disease and illness are
also placed in the mix.

The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida by attorney Catherine J. MacIvor of the
23 attorney Miami litigation law firm of Maltzman Foreman, PA. The
case is pending before the Honorable Cecilia Altonaga. Class
Counsel, Catherine J. MacIvor says that "The melamine debacle is not
the only serious problem with pet food. The number and frequency of
lethal pet food recalls in the last few years clearly shows the
seriousness and extent of this problem."

The lawsuit alleges that pet food companies market their products as
wholesome, choice cuts of meat, natural and complete and balanced
diets even though they are fully aware that this food is largely
carbohydrates and sugars combined with toxic preservatives and
additives with very little to no meat at all. The lawsuit seeks
damages to consumers for the false representations made in the
Defendants' advertising as well as punitive damages.

"Sadly," MacIvor said, "the Defendant pet food companies and
retailers recognized that American pet owners love their cats and
dogs like members of their family. The Defendants deceptive
advertising specifically marketed premium healthy food to the
American public knowing that they want to buy the best food that
they can for their loved one and knowing that the food consists
largely of garbage, chemicals, additives, diseased meat and even
residual pentobarbital from euthanized animals."

The 58 page lawsuit outlines in grotesque detail the actual manner
in which most commercial pet food in the United States is made. The
lawsuit also attaches and cites numerous news stories and research
articles outlining the real content of the Defendant's pet foods and
the misleading and deceptive advertising undertaken by the

The Defendants targeted in the Complaint produce pet foods under a
wide array of brands and names including: Pedigree(R), Sheba(R),
Goodlife Recipe(R), Royal Canine, Iams(R), Eukanuba(R), Science Diet(R),
Prescription Diet(R), 9 Lives(R), Amore(R), Gravy Train(R), Kibbles-n-Bits(R)
and Nature's Recipe(R), Snausages(R), Milk Bone(R), Pup-Peroni(R), Meaty
Bone(R), Canine's Carry Outs(R), Jerky Treats(R), Wagwells(R), Alpo(R),
Beneful(R), Beggin' Strips(R), Dog, Cat, Puppy and Kitten Chow(R), Fancy
Feast(R), Friskies(R), Mighty Dog(R), Deli-Cat(R), Pro Plan(R), Purina One(R),
Natural Choice(R) Dog and Cat Products, Max(R) Dog Products, Max(R) Cat
Gourmet Classics, Natural Choice(R) Complete Care(R) for cats, UltraTM
Products for dogs, Americas Choice Preferred Pets, Authority, Award,
Best Choice, Big Bet, Big Red, Cadillac, Companion, Compliments,
Demoulus Market Basket, Eukanuba, Fine Feline Cat, Food Lion, Food
Town, Giant Companion, Hannaford, Hill Country Fare, Hy-Vee, Iams,
J.E. Mondou, Laura Lynn, Li'l Red, Loving Meals, Medi-Cal, Meijer's
Main Choice, Mighty Dog Pouch, Mixables, Natural Life, Nutriplan,
Nutro Max, Nutro Max Gourmet Classics, Nutro Natural Choice, Ol'
Roy, Paws, Pet Essentials, Pet Pride, President's Choice, Price
Chopper, Priority US, Publix, Roche Brothers, Save-a-Lot Special
Blend, Schnucks, Science Diet Feline Savory Cuts Cans, Sophistacat,
Special Kitty, Springfield Prize, Sprout, Stop and Shop Companion,
Tops Companion, Wegmans, Weis Total Pet, Western family US, White
Rose, Winn Dixie, Your Pet, LIFELongTM, Ol' Roy and Special Kitty
brands of pet food.

The lawsuit alleges, among other claims, that the pet food companies
have fraudulently and/or negligently misrepresented and concealed
what is actually in their pet foods, violated Deceptive and Unfair
Trade Practices, and Failed to Warn the public of the health risks
to animals associated with a diet consisting of their commercial pet
foods. Through the lawsuit, the Plaintiff's hope to recover
financial damages for all pet owners who have been similarly
deceived. "Ultimately we are hopeful that our lawsuit will force the
Defendants to more accurately describe what is in their pet foods
and to offer more healthful pet food options that provide pets with
food quality similar to that provided in human food products."

A copy of the Complaint and supporting research materials is
available at

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dock Jumping Part 2

This past weekend, Indy and I attended the UKC Premier in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We went all four days and competed in every splash we could, 6 total. Having learned many lessons from the Dog Walk in May, I was much better equipped this time around. Namely, I purchased a pair of Crocs shoes, which are awesome! In fact, I've worn them every single day since I bought them, which was well over a month ago :)

Indy was a little monster the first day, he pulled until every muscle in my body ached and I just didn't think I could hang onto that leash a second longer. Having pushed me to my limit, and probably having grown tired himself, he settled down. He did not stop pulling entirely, but we had a dramatic improvement by the middle of day two. By the end of the weekend, other than the occasional jolt in his excitement to get up on the dock, he was much improved. I think that the more events we attend, the more he will settle down.

On day one, Indy jumped 9'11", a new personal best and top of the novice division. Because they had two pools set up at the Premier, Indy and I were able to get a lot of practice and we were able to get help from Gus' owner, Janet. Having two handlers on dock makes a big difference with certain block headed jumping maniacs. One person holds the dock in the right position and gets them riled up while the other person concentrates on making a well timed and straight throw. By Friday morning, Indy shattered his personal best record again, jumping over 13'. On Saturday, he set a new personal best that still stands, 14' 10"! He picked up 5'! That's near the top of the Junior division, only two inches shy of the Senior division. We were in first place going into the Junior finals on Sunday.

Thunderstorms were rolling in just as we started the finals on Sunday afternoon. Indy, Janet and I were the last team on the dock before the remainder of the event was postponed due to weather. We were a little off, and probably more than a little tired at the end of 4 exhausting days, still, Indy managed to jump 14'1", putting him in second place, right behind the other Indy, a White Shepherd that Jumped 14'4". The other Indy had a fantastic weekend, he also finished his UKC Grand Champion conformation title. We were really happy for him and honestly, you can't feel too bad about moving up a whole division and taking second place at your second event :)

As the rain began to fall, we all ran for our cars. I put Indy in the backseat then ran around picking up all our stuff, crammed it into the trunk, then got in the car myself to wait out the storm. There we sat, melting in the hot humid car for the next 30-40 minutes. Once the storm cleared, the weather was gorgeous. Some of the crowd returned to see the conclusion of the finals. Those who didn't return missed one heck of a show. After that storm all of the dogs were making HUGE jumps. I caught most of them on video, which is posted on this You Tube channel.

Indy got a lot of valuable socialization this weekend. He tends to annoy a lot of dogs and their owners with his hyper friendly rush right up and invade your personal space behavior. Waiting in line with other dogs and their owners is a challenge with him, to say the least. He's not very good about taking cues like growling and snapping to mean that he should leave another dog alone. He got a superficial bite on the muzzle which is healing fine and probably went a long way to teaching him to have respect for dogs who warn him off. He did meet a few other dogs that matched his temperament and who tolerated all of his rude behavior. Kya, a sweet little one year old Pit Bull and Teddi, a nearly two year old Golden Retriever. Indy's becoming quite the lady's man ;)

It was a fantastic weekend. I think Indy rested for a good 24 hours, but he was so happy, he's really hooked on jumping now!

Photo courtesy of Brian L. Butler, Grand Rapids, MI

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dock Jumping - Part 1

I've been such a bad blogger lately, but I'm going to recap what's been going on in Indy's life for the past month and a half.

On May 3rd we went to the Kalamazoo Humane Society's Dog Walk and participated in our first official dock jumping competition. Indy was very excited the whole way to the dock, when we finally got up there, he drug me to the end, I tossed the toy in and drug him back to the starting position and let him go, he shot out of my hands like a rocket then skidded to a stop at the end to peer over the edge, then he saw his Water Wubba and belly flopped in at a whopping two feet! Now the only trouble was keeping him off the dock. No, really, he tried repeatedly to drag me onto the dock when other owners and their dogs were on it, and one time, he succeeded. Just when you think the obedience training has been going well, they find new and creative ways to embarrass you.

We entered two splashes, you get two jumps per splash, the better score determines your place. In splash one, Indy jumped 6'2" and 8', finishing 5th place in the novice division. In splash two, Indy jumped 5' and 7'8", finishing 3rd in the novice division. Not bad for a newbie, good enough to progress to the novice finals. According the official record, in the finals, he jumped 8'9" and 7'. Though I could have sworn the judge called a 9'10" jump, but I could be mistaken and 8'9" was still good enough to finish first place in the novice division! I actually didn't realize for a few weeks, until the scores were published online, that Indy had won. I was so distracted trying to handle my wild boy that I didn't hear the announcement. All I knew was that he did well and I was proud of him :) We had a great time, but let me tell you, it was an exhausting day. I went home black and blue, swollen, scraped up, soaking wet and ready to drop. I'll share some valuable lessons that I learned.

#1 Insist on parking near the pool, do not park with the general public. You have too much stuff to haul and handling an 80 pound insane lab that pulls like a runaway horse through a sea of people and dogs is hard enough with out trying haul equipment and supplies that collectively, weigh more than you do. Unpack the car first, set everything up, then get the dog.

#2 Do not, I repeat, do NOT, under any circumstances, wear flip flops. One excitable lab who isn't used to crowds, let alone a thousand other enticing dogs, is going to dance around and spend a lot of time stepping on you. The pictures were too graphic to post, but my feet were not a pretty sight. Cut, bruised and swollen to an unnatural shape, walking the next day was practically out of the question.

#3 Bring a first aid kit. Pretend its for the dog, but really, if you're anything like me, you're gonna need it :)

#4 Bring baby wipes. They're amazingly good for wiping off your leg and shoe when your dog, confronted with a thousand strange dogs, marks his territory, you.

#5 Bring a training collar or slip lead that goes on and off quickly. Unless your dog has been at enough events that they are desensitized and able to remain calm in the face of the ultimate temptation, you're going to need it.

#6 Come equipped with the patience of a saint or a stiff drink. See #5 for the cause.

#7 Don't wash the water bowl and then leave it drying in the dish rack at home. But if you do, use one of the plastic bags that you brought for another purpose, fold over the sides and use it for a temporary water bowl.

#8 Do not place a pop up soft kennel that rolls easily next to an unstaked tent on a windy day. If that tent gets ripped out of the ground by the wind, rolls the kennel over several times with the dog still inside, have multiple people fawn all over him until he forgets that he's traumatized.

#9 Do not plan on moving the next day. You've just discovered about 50 muscles you never knew you had. You want them to rest so that they go away and leave you alone.

#10 Last, but certainly not least. Drink enough water to keep you alive, but not so much that you'll have visit the port-a-potty. Trust me on this.

Photo courtesy of Brian L. Butler, Grand Rapids, MI