Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Crash Course in Copyright Infringement

This post is more about my blog than my dog, but I've been mildly enraged about this for a couple of days, so I thought I'd share this information in case anyone else has experienced this issue or in case this is happening to other bloggers without them even being aware of it.

When I first started blogging, I didn't know much about it, and people didn't really know about me. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get my blog to show up in a search engine, so that people would actually know I existed. Since that time, I haven't really Googled the site to see what shows up.

The other night, I was bored and surfing around online and Googled my blog to see what listings would show up. Imagine my surprise when I saw the title of a post that I had written alongside the name of a site I'd never heard of - They had basically reposted one of my blog posts onto their site, so when people searched for that content, they'd get to the Broken Controllers site instead. From what I could see, they only did that with one of my posts.

I did a bit of a crash course in copyright law by going to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office site and elsewhere online, and then wrote the guy an email informing him that I had not consented to the website copying the content that I had created and reposting it. To his credit, he emailed me back a day or so later informing me that it was removed, and it was. However, there are still other sites I see that repost titles of my blog posts, or the content of my blog posts, that are much less easy to reach than this website was. On another site, I had to leave my annoyed-yet-polite request for them to remove my content in a reply to the post, since their contact form wasn't working. (Ironically, that site had a copyright notice on the bottom of the page - I guess they'll use it to protect their own content, without any regard for anyone else's content! Shameless.)

In theory, I'd have no issue with someone re-posting something I wrote, if they asked for permission first, and received it. After all, don't bloggers blog to initiate discussions about whatever it is they are interested in? And if people post a line or two from my blog because they're interested in the content or have something to say about what I wrote, that probably wouldn't bother me much, if I was credited and it was being done in good faith. But this just left a bad taste in my mouth, because it seems to me that these ploys are designed solely to direct traffic from where it should be going - the blog or website with the actual content that a person is searching for - to these other sites that just re-post the content and really have nothing to do with the content itself. There was no real interest in, or discussion about, what it is that I had posted. While some people might have been content to have another link leading to their blog online, to increase traffic and move their blog up in search results, that's not what I'm interested in. If there's no real connection to or interest in what I'm writing, the way I see it, you're just taking my content, secretively and without my permission, to increase hits to your site. It just doesn't sit right with me.

I just wanted to blog about this because this could be happening to other bloggers without them even realizing it. When is the last time you Googled your own blog? Hopefully you don't find anything out of the ordinary, but if you do, it is good to know that sometimes, all it takes is an e-mail. While I'm not impressed with the initial action by that website, I do appreciate that it didn't take much to get it resolved. Now, we'll see about those other sites that I saw my blog associated with that have no real way to contact whoever the administrator is. I may just have to give up on those ones, for my own sanity.

In the meantime, I did add a little copyright symbol to the bottom of the blog. My understanding is that while content like my blog posts or photos is copyrighted automatically when it is created (at least in Canada), and the symbol doesn't really make it "official" because the copyright exists whether or not that symbol is there, it does show that it is copyrighted, and for me, the symbol brings attention to that fact when otherwise people might not be thinking about it.

Well, now I know, and I'll keep an eye out for this sort of thing happening in the future. I hope other bloggers will too. And I learned a little bit about copyright law - though I wish I hadn't had to!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Little (Too Much) Off the Top

Oscar was in dire need of a haircut, so we took him to the groomer's today. Conscious of what happened the last time, when he came home looking like a doggy lollipop (fluffy head, skinny little body),we told the groomer that we wanted his head cut the same length as the hair on the rest of his body.

We don't usually give Oscar the schnauzer cut. While we like his muzzle to be left a little bit long, we don't leave him with the beard. It just gets too dirty, especially when he eats bully sticks - they turn his fur a bit brownish, and the colour doesn't come off in the bath. What we like is to have him a little bit long, with the schnauzer muzzle, but not with the traditional schnauzer cut. This, apparently, is very difficult to convey to groomers. We usually end up with a funny looking dog, like the last time, or a dog that's cut too short, which I don't like.  All I want is a dog that looks like our shaggy little Oscar, just less shaggy!

Today, we (well, actually, my husband) chose a shorter length than the last time. Against my better instincts, I let him have the final say, even though I think the usual length we have gotten the last couple of times is too short for my tastes. The rationale for the even shorter cut this time was that it would be better for him in the summertime, both in terms of keeping him cool and keeping him clean. Well, it's short, all right.

We left home with this shaggy little guy...

...and came home with this dog.  Who is this?

While I'm glad we can now see his face, he looks more like a greyhound to me than a miniature schnauzer! I'm not impressed with it, and I don't think my husband likes it either. Way too short, and I probably wouldn't be able to guess his breed if I didn't know it! The upside is, my husband has now promised me that I can make any future decisions regarding grooming on my own. I'm holding him to that!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Oscar!

Today is Oscar's first birthday! Our little puppy is growing up! I know many people consider dogs to be adults when they're about a year old, but Oscar is still very much a puppy, temperament-wise. I wonder if I'll ever consider him to be an adult dog. Maybe if he ever calms down!

It's been a busy weekend so I didn't bake him a cake, but I bought him a birthday treat at the pet store - a Pup Pie by the Lazy Dog Cookie Co. It's pretty much like a dog biscuit, but softer and shaped like a pie. Very cute! Oscar seems to enjoy it. We gave him a piece last night, even though it wasn't his birthday until today. There are 10 pieces, so he'll have snacks to enjoy for a while.

The weather was beautiful on Saturday, so Oscar got to hang out with us in the backyard. He had fun sniffing things and running around, and then lay down in the grass to relax, which I rarely see him do!

It's a long weekend, so we've had time to relax with Oscar. We also had some friends over yesterday, and a couple of them brought their Lab over to play with Oscar. Oscar is not used to playing with big dogs, so he was a bit skittish, especially when the Lab tried to play a game of chase, but he had fun and was pretty tuckered out. We went for a good walk today, and now Oscar's napping.  All in all, it's been a pretty good birthday weekend for our little pup!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Food Swap

I've been terribly delinquent when it comes to blogging lately. My apologies! Work has been total madness for the last couple of weeks. I'm going to do my best to catch up on everyone's blog adventures.

Our little Oscar is almost one year old! His birthday is tomorrow. We'll be heading to the pet store today to buy him some special treats and a couple of new toys. Since he's now an adult, we've been switching him over from his puppy food. 

We had him on Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy Chicken and Oatmeal formula. It was great and he loved it. I was looking at other Blue Buffalo formulas to switch him over to and decided on Blue Wilderness Salmon Recipe. I don't know a ton about dog food, but I do know that the general rule about determining dog food quality is to look at the first five ingredients. The first ingredient should be a meat ingredient, rather than corn or another grain. In fact, the more meat in the food, especially the first five ingredients, the better. By-product meals shouldn't be included in the food (not just in the first five ingredients, but optimally, at all) because by-product meals are about as good as they sound - they are parts of the animal like feet, necks, bones, etc. that are ground up into the food. Corn should be avoided, as it often causes allergies in dogs.

Blue Buffalo is free of by-product meals, which was a big factor in why I chose it for Oscar as his puppy food. The first five ingredients of Blue Wilderness Salmon Recipe are deboned salmon, menhaden fish meal, chicken meal, potato starch and peas. According to the packaging, Blue Wilderness is designed to be a convenient alternative to a raw diet, and is a high protein, grain-free food that is free of corn, wheat and soy. I've been intrigued by raw diets, but it has always sounded a bit too complex and time-consuming for me. I like the convenience of packaged foods, and I don't have to worry (as much) about contamination or food poisoning, since I'm not actually handling or feeding raw food to him. The price of this food is a bit higher than his puppy food, but if we buy the big bags, the unit price is the same.

It is one of the few foods that got six stars on the Dog Food Analysis site (see the entry here), which has some interesting and helpful information about dog food. The fact that it was one of the most highly rated foods didn't decide it for me, but it definitely made me feel better about the decision. 

I did take a look at other brands while I was in the pet store, just to see if there was anything that I liked better. I didn't find anything that I thought was better quality for a similar price. In fact, I was pretty dissatisfied with a lot of other brands, especially the ones that are marketed (and priced!) as high quality foods, but still have corn as the first ingredient.

The kibbles are a bit bigger, so the saddest part of the switch is that we can't put his food in his Kong Genius toy anymore, but otherwise it has been a hit. We're almost done switching him over, and he's liked it just as much as the old food. He's had absolutely no digestion issues and his stool has been firm. I'm very pleased with the choice. It's nice to feel good about what I'm feeding my dog!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Training Treats

I have been looking for good training treats for a long time. Oscar is very food-oriented, so when training I usually use treats to get his attention, to motivate him to do what it is I'm trying to teach him, and to reward him when he gets it right. I do sometimes just praise, when I am reinforcing something he already knows how to do, like sit. However, food is necessary when I'm teaching him something new, or when I'm asking him to do something when he is excited (like quiet down when he's barking).

When teaching Oscar something new, I normally use liver treats or break biscuits into small pieces. I've also tried using bits of cheese, or blueberries. While his kibble would be the perfect size for a training treat, it just doesn't interest him enough most of the time. I always worried about overfeeding though, even if I cut down on his kibble for the day. The difficulty I had with most of the store-bought treats I used were that there is no information about how many calories are in one treat, so I always just had to guess how much would be appropriate to give him.

I was in PetSmart yesterday looking for some training treats when I came across My Mighty Wolf treats, which were on sale...that's how they caught my eye! They are soft treats that are free of corn, wheat and soy. The first five ingredients are beef liver, tripe, glycerin, dried potato, and dried honey. Sounded pretty good! The best thing about them was that they were exactly what I was looking for size-wise. They are little squares that are about the size of Oscar's nose, but they are super thin, so they are only 1.3 calories per treat. Also, since they are moist and made of meat, they are also a "smelly" treat (meaning they attract Oscar because of their scent, not that they are stinky), so they actually get Oscar's attention.

I like the packaging, too!  Cute.

Wafer thin.

They're not too big, either - and look
how interested Oscar is in them!

I've practiced a few commands with Oscar using the treats, and he seems to like them. We're working on Quiet - that's going okay. It works better when he's a bit tired, like he was yesterday. He barked once at a passing golden and its owner and that was it. I also praised and treated him when he ran to the window when the kids next door were playing outside but he didn't bark. I'm also teaching him Out, which I'll blog about later on. All in all, I'm pretty pleased about my training treat find, and I think Oscar is too!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sleepy Saturday

For me, that is. Our westie visitor starting whining at 7 a.m. to be let out of her crate. I figured I'd try to let her out so she could do her business and then put her back in so I could get some more sleep, but that didn't happen. Her whining woke Oscar, who would usually be quiet until we get up to let him out (which, on Saturdays, would be around 9 or 10). In the hopes of being able to go back to bed, I tried to keep them both quiet with peanut-butter stuffed Kongs in their crates (which were in separate rooms so they wouldn't try to get to each other) but that didn't work. So it was an early morning for me. Luckily, it has finally stopped raining, so I just let them run around in the backyard for over an hour and then brought them back inside to play some more. I plan on taking a long nap later to make up for not being able to sleep in!

For now, I've got some sweet potato treats baking in the oven. It's been a while since I made my own treats for Oscar. I was on quite a treat-making run for a while there, but then I got lazy. Now it's back in the kitchen! Oscar's first birthday is coming up soon, so I have to decide whether I'm going to be ambitious and make something lovely, or if I'll just buy something. Decisions, decisions.

These make the house smell lovely!

Friday, May 6, 2011

I May Never Dog-Sit Again...

The first time we dog-sat, it was quite the adventure. Tonight, we are dog-sitting a westie that Oscar hadn't met before this visit. I was told that she is very energetic and playful, so I figured she'd probably give Oscar a run for his money. It's been the busiest two hours of dog ownership ever!

It started raining when I brought her home, so when I got home and let them both out into the backyard to do their business, they were both wet and covered in dirt in no time. Oscar didn't even go for the first ten minutes because he was too busy chasing her. I had to separate them to make sure he did his business.

I brought them both inside to play so that they wouldn't get any wetter, and they engaged in some chase and intense bitey-face. All good. For a little while, at least.

And began. First, the westie barfed a little - I think just from a combination of too much water, excitement and running around. There was nothing of substance that came up - just a little water - and she seemed fine. Okay, no problem. Then, not too long after that, I watched helplessly as she squatted and peed right on our living room floor, even though I had just seen her go outside.

So I took the dogs back out for her to go again, which she did. The westie somehow managed to get past (or over) the fence that we had around our vegetable garden, which right now is just a patch of dirt. Big dirty mess. I finally managed to get them both inside, which was difficult because as soon as one went in, the other would hesitate at the door, and the other would run back outside. I managed to separate them with some skillful e-pen/baby gate manipulation, then put them into the bathtub separately to rinse them off. The muddy pawprints will have to be dealt with tomorrow.

I let them back out into the living room to play, and then promptly stepped in a puddle. A huge puddle. Surprise! And also, gross. While I was cleaning that up, I discovered yet another puddle, right by the first (well, second) one. Really? Here we are talking about two dogs who never pee inside (or so I was told about the westie by her owner). But I know at least one of them did it, though I'm quite firmly on Oscar's side on this one, mostly because I saw one of the crimes being committed with my own eyes by the westie. And, to put it delicately, I checked if it was Oscar and it wasn't. I have taken the water bowl away.

The upside is that they did such a good job playing chase that they are now both pretty relaxed. We'll see how the rest of the evening goes.  If the last couple of hours are any indication, it should be pretty interesting. I'm hoping this means Oscar will be chilled out tomorrow!

Clearly, the theme of the evening.

Update: I just found two more puddles, and saw her pee a third time with my own eyes. Holy frijoles! That's six pees inside! How much urine can a 14 lb. dog generate? Seriously. This is total insanity. I'm going to have to let this dog out every five minutes...literally! Oscar's looking like an absolute champ right now, I can tell you that much. Can one buy stocks in Nature's Miracle?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Discovery of Brilliance

I was hopping around on blogs that are part of the CatTipper/DogTipper Meet & Greet last night (see my last post to find out more if you'd like to join in), and found Kol's Notes. Kol mentioned a blog called Hyperbole and a Half. You know that feeling you get when you find something awesome, and you're just so excited that you've discovered it? That's how I felt last night. I read the latest post - about Allie and her Simple Dog's joyride - plus her post about how dogs don't understand concepts like moving and her post about the dog IQ test, and almost died laughing. Her observations are so entertaining, and the pictures are just hilarious. I'm clearly a latecomer to the greatness, because Allie already has over 50,000 followers. 50,000!! I'm proud that I have 47 - I can't imagine ever having that many people reading what I write. (Maybe I need to start drawing? Hmm.) Even though I have been slow to discover this blog, I'm happy because that means there's a whole entire history of funny posts to go through. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favour and stop by. If your sense of humour is anything like mine, you'll be happy you did.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Blog Party!

DogTipper and CatTipper have organized a Meet & Greet Party, meant for bloggers to find new blogs and to get to know the new CatTipper site. As a relatively new blogger, I like discovering new pet blogs and websites that I haven't stumbled upon yet. Since the point of the Meet & Greet Party is also to introduce ourselves, here goes!

While Oscar is the undisputed star of the blog, I'm the blogger. Neither my husband nor I have had a dog before. Before we got Oscar, I did a lot of reading online about what breed would be best for us, and to learn about puppy care. After we got Oscar, I continued looking around online for tips and information about puppy care, training, and about what to expect.

When I discovered pet blogs, I started blogging about Oscar not only to share pictures of our cute puppy, but also to share stories about the joys and challenges of raising a very energetic and headstrong puppy. Once I started blogging, I discovered that pet bloggers are a friendly and helpful group of people, quick to share their own knowledge and experience - and pictures of their cute dogs too!

I've learned a lot from other bloggers, and it's always fun to read about other dogs, their adventures, and their many different personalities. It doesn't feel like very much time has passed since I first started blogging in December, but this is actually my 100th post! It's been much more rewarding than I ever would have thought.

I can't wait to blog hop during this Meet & Greet to discover even more wonderful and entertaining pet blogs. Thanks to Paris and John of DogTipper and CatTipper for organizing this blog party. Happy blog hopping!

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