177 — Developing An Eye For a Dog: Recorded LIVE | Pure Dog Talk
Developing An Eye For a Dog: Recorded LIVE
San Mateo Kennel Club invited PureDogTalk to sponsor a live expert roundtable at its all-breed show in March. Exhibitors who participated were treated to a rare opportunity to interact directly with some of the most knowledgeable people in the
“Lifers” Share Their Knowledge
These folks are what we think of as “lifers” in dogs. They started young with a passion for dogs and have applied that intensity to achieving their goals as breeders, handlers and judges. Each and every one of the panelists is a life-long student, who possesses the noted “eye for a dog” we were discussing.
While each of the panelists brought their own perspective to the conversation, there was complete agreement that developing an eye for a dog entails focusing on and rewarding a dog’s virtues rather than picking at faults.
Riffing on a quote from the well-known judge of the ‘60s, Bea Godsol, whom Trotter noted was gifted with a tremendous eye for a dog, the panelists each shared their spin.
Ken Murray – “Great dogs carry their faults well,”
Pat Trotter – “An absence of faults doesn’t guarantee virtue,”
Desi Murphy – “Great dogs blind you to their faults.”
Andy Linton agreed, noting also that, “having an eye for a dog gives you responsibility in so many ways. Do I take that dog to show? Do I put that dog up? Do I breed that dog? The more you know, the more responsible you become.”
“An eye for a dog,” according to Trotter, “is when you see one that gets your attention. It’s an arresting animal because it exudes beauty and correctness. Like a work of art.”
Trotter added wryly, that “Sometimes great dogs get lost at shows where they are the right look. They’re different from the other dogs who are, shall we say, modest at best.”
Even if a person isn’t “born with it” in terms of that eye for a dog, Trotter does believe that study and learning and listening to the greats in a breed will allow someone to develop the skill.
Murphy qualifies that with an observation that some people are simply better at the skill than others.
“I mean there were certain subjects, if I went to school for 10 years on that subject I would never have been any good,” Murphy observed. “… judges are like dogs. You have excellent, very good, good, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.”
When an audience member asked how to know which judges have an “eye for a dog” and how to discern to whom they should show their “great dog that doesn’t look like the others,” Bill McFadden, speaking up from the gallery, noted we all need “an eye for a judge.”
Trotter summed up much of the advice with this observation, “I think one thing that helps breeders is to look at your own dogs with a jaded eye. Look at them with a jaded eye and see their shortcomings. And look at your competition through rose colored glasses. That will help you advance in your efforts to become a better evaluator as a breeder and exhibitor.”
Please enjoy this special and valuable conversation. What it may lack in our normal audio quality, it more than makes up for in the quality of the knowledge.
Additional Q&A coverage from this event is available ONLY to our PureDogTalk Patrons! Click the button on our website to “Be My Patron on Podbean” for more information about joining the “in” crowd.
And, making a surprise Thursday appearance, Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show academy provides insight on dealing with stains on white dogs.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER — FRANCIS BACON
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Developing an Eye for a Dog: Recorded LIVE in Vallejo, CA
Pure Dog Talk is the voice of purebred dogs. We talk to the legends of the sport and give you the tips and tools to create an awesome life with your purebred dog. From showing to preservation breeding, from competitive obedience to field work, from agility to therapy dogs, and all the fun in between – your passion is our purpose!
LAURA REEVES: OK. Welcome to our live seminar. We have a wonderful panel here this evening for you guys to talk with – not just hear from, but talk with – which is very important. And I think one of the things that in our sport today we have maybe lost a little bit of is the opportunity to do this. And so we’re really glad that you guys came and took that opportunity. We have with you this evening, Mrs. Pat Trotter, an infamous – no, famous, definitely famous! Mr. Andy Linton, Mr. Desmond Murphy, and Mr. Ken Murray. These are people long in the sport with a lot of knowledge to share. And we’re going to be talking about the concept – we’ll find out, maybe I’m wrong – developing an eye for a dog. As I was talking with people about this they said, “Can you develop an eye for a dog? Are you born with it, or is it Maybelline? <laughter> Come on, Andy – just roll with this … just roll with this. Andy did not say that.
LR: I am your host and your moderator, Laura Reeves, and what I think is really important is you guys get the opportunity to ask some questions, listen to what these folks have to say, and ask some questions, alright? And we’re going to be talking about learning how to see a dog. We just had a Fox Terrier in here. I mean, Pat Trotter has been doing this for her entire life, she wants to go and put her hands on this dog. That is how we learn. And that’s what this opportunity is. So please, our panelists, briefly, thank you very, very much for taking time out of your very long days. We appreciate you – so thank you! <applause>
LR: A brief introduction from each of our panelists, please.
PAT TROTTER: I’ve been in dogs since late forties. I registered my first litter of Elkhounds in 1951. I still haven’t gotten it totally right and so I don’t quit.
ANDY LINTON: Andy Linton – I’ve been showing dogs since the mid 70s, is when I started, and been doing this maybe too long, but I love it still and I’ll keep doing it till something starts hurting.
DESI MURPHY: Desi Murphy. I showed my first dog when I was about 6/7 years old and I’ve been judging for 42 years.
KEN MURRAY: Ken Murray went to first dog show and showed my first do in 1959. A Westie – West Highland White Terrier – and at those shows I fell in love with Irish Setters. I bought an Irish Setter and showed my first owned in 1961, at the Texas Kennel Club.
LR: Alright! So we have a good, good breadth of knowledge here. We’re gonna start with, “What is an eye for a dog.” Let’s define that term – what is an eye for a dog an eye for a dog?
AL: An eye for a dog would mean, by definition. can you read the standard of a particular breed, assimilate the standard, and then formulate that picture in your mind. If you have an eye for a dog you know what a particular breed or dog should look like, should act like, should behave like, in all aspects of that dog. Not just the silhouette or anything but being able to have that blueprint in your mind and be able to ascertain which dog best fits that blueprint, I think.
DM: I think also, talking about developing an eye for a dog, we’ve seen through the years that many couples – husbands and wives – that have started in dogs together, they both bred the dogs together, entered the dogs together – they have the same experience, but when this couple went on to judge, either the wife or the husband became a great judge and the other one was rather mediocre.
KM: I think we definitely have to have mentors to straighten out what’s right and what’s wrong. I remember when I was 20 years old I went to work for a professional handler named Dick Cooper, who was a famous Sporting Dog handler. <inaudible> Irish Setters. And what I thought was a good Irish Setter in my mind when I was 20 years old – you know, I was completely wrong. Different dogs I thought were good ones, I realized after talking to him and other people that were authorities in the breed, I realized how off base I was. So you have to have good mentors to straighten it out and teach you what’s correct. Besides reading the standard and just going to shows and watching. It helps if you have a good eye for balance but you definitely need good mentors. It’s just up to you who knows the most about the breed you’re interested in.
PT: You’ve got three great dog people here, and I know personally these people have an eye for a dog. An eye for a dog is when you see one that gets your attention. It’s an arresting animal because it exudes beauty and correctness and almost an artistic about it. It’s like a work of art, you know? We get people that say, “Well I don’t know anything about art. I know what I like.” I don’t want that person buying me a dog. I want our piece of art. I want that person who knows what great art is to buy it. And Laura used a very interesting description of this seminar about are you born with a eye for a dog or do you develop an eye for a dog. And I think sometimes both of those things can happen. I think in my past I had two ladies that I showed to and one fit each category. Bea Godsol was born with an eye for a dog! When she walked into the ring and looked at a class of dogs, if there was nothing in there that jumped out at her, she had to go to work. But if there was one in there that was a great standout, even though it didn’t look like the others, she knew what it was. Right?
PT: Sometimes great dogs get lost at shows where they’re the right look and they’re different from the other dogs who are, shall we say modest at best, or ordinary, and unfortunately sometimes those dogs do get lost. Now the other lady I was going to refer to was not born with an eye for a dog but she developed it, and her name was Ramona Van Court. Ramona never truly understood Elkhounds. For years she put up little squatty dumpy ones and so on. She was way ahead of the curve about going to national specialties. In 1968 when we still got great master-breeder judges from Norway – they’re not any of them alive anymore because they’re not being bred to the same extent. Let’s face it Elkhounds take a back seat to Greyhounds, Poodles, Cockers and a whole lot of others in their home country of Norway. But Ramona went to watch a Norwegian breeder/expert judge in 1968 and she never judged Elkhounds the same after that. She studied what was going on, what he put up,what he selected for, and I think she became a person who developed an eye for that breed. So what you’re saying about the standards, and the things you learn, and the balance and all of that all, of that comes together in the person that has an eye for a dog.
DM: And Bea Godsol also – she was a great teacher. <PT: Yes> Some of our very best judges have learned that much from Bea. She was a brilliant teacher.
KM: I remember one of her quotes, “Great dogs carry their faults well.
PT: That’s right, Ken. Yes. Yes. <LR: Absolutely.> And so in other words, I think what Bea meant by that, absence of faults doesn’t guarantee presence of virtues.
DM: I think actually the actual quote might have been that great dogs blind you to their faults. <laughter> Which I think is true. Sometimes we all see a great dog and we miss the little tiny blemish it might have.
LR: And do you think, Desi, to take that to the next step? Do you think, what is that line, right? So you get a great dog with great virtue, and maybe it has a great fault. Where is that line? Speak to us.
DM: I personally think faults – that I can live with faults if they don’t take away from breed type. You know if you’re a fault – yeah, you’re gonna be a fault judge, there’s a fault that takes away from breed type. That’s the real fault, I mean…
LR: Ok, thoughts on that? Andy?
AL: Well every breed has its standards, so you’re going to have different priorities in every breed. So, if we’re going back do you have an eye for a dog, and we’re going back to that, you have to think about what the priorities are in each breed and try to reward those. And if you’re judging a dog or you’re ascertaining a dog if it’s good enough to show or special, or you know, show it all or breed it if you’re a breeder, you have to know the priorities of that breed. And then of course the faults and virtues of your dog or the dog you’re judging. So having that eye for a dog gives you responsibility in so many ways – as a handler do I take that dog, as a judge do I put that dog up, as a breeder do I breed that dog.
AL: So you become responsible and the more you know, the more responsible you become in any one of those forums.
LR: So for our people here who are aspiring to know more.
AL: Basically I would say this – Basically this is all built on which one is closest to the stand and the one that’s closest to the standard is supposed to win. So obviously know your standard in whatever breed it is you’re talking about. And really, I find this interesting … I can read – even a breed that I live, Dobermans for example – I’ll read the standard this week and I might read it next week and I might gain more and have a little different – ever so slight maybe – but a little slightly different perspective. And you gain perspective every time you study your breed. Whether it’s talking to somebody who might have a different perspective, whether it’s reading your standard ten times, you’ll come away with a little bit each time. So like Pat here is the eternal student, even though she’s the teacher.
LR: There’s a lot of students at this table, actually.
AL: Yeah, yeah. I mean all of us love the learn that goes without saying. I’ve talked to these guys for a million years …
KM: Well then you also have to take into consideration – you have to have the dog trained properly, you have to have it a show condition and you have to know what you’re doing when you’re in the ring.
AL: A lot of people that I know in here have heard me say this, but dog shows are won and lost on three things – quality, condition and presentation. In the long run. I’m not saying judges always get it right because they don’t. But if I didn’t believe, in the long run, that quality, condition and presentation won dog shows, again in the long run, not every dog show, but that’s where you have to focus. If I maintain that attitude of quality, condition and presentation wins the dog shows, when I lose if I think to myself, “OK was my dog in perfect condition. Did I have it trimmed to the best of its ability. Did I make any mistakes.” I’ve never shown a dog perfectly. So you know that opens up the door to losing when you make a mistake. You didn’t have a dog at the right angle. You moved him too fast, too slow, you choked them a little too much here and there.
LR: I think the point that Andy’s making is an excellent point. He’s made it on another podcast that we had – Bill and Andy and Valerie sat on the podcast and talked about winning at Westminster and all this other stuff. But he made that same point there and it’s one of the reasons I asked him to come tonight, because it’s such a valuable point.
PT: If you’d like somebody to talk on losing at Westminster … <laughter>
AL: OH – the greatest loser of all time. How many Group First at Westminster?
AL: Eleven Group First at Westminster! My one time, I beat her. <laughter> I’m sorry. If I could give it back to you I would, Pat.
LR: OK. Alright, so, next step – let’s take the next step here. So we said “what” an eye for a dog is and maybe you have it, maybe you develop it, how do you develop it. How do you apply it? <AL: Judges>
PT: You mean as a breeder
LR: As a breeder, as a handler, as a judge. Andy mentioned it briefly but I want to expand on that just a little bit.
PT: Well first of all as a breeder you need to get a feel – like Desi said – you need to understand breed type. You need to understand that each one of these breeds in the beginning, except for a few lap dogs and others perhaps, but even some lap dogs in the days before pesticides, had a job description – sit in the Queen’s lap, and draw the fleas, ok? So whatever. But once you find out that a given dog evolved into a given form because it was doing a given job better than other dogs of that era, you start to understand that dogs that have lateral movement have to have short loins, you start to get a feel for relationships of the parts. And I don’t care whether you like art or you like abstract stuff, like some of the more modern artists where eyes are floating in space stuff like that, the bottom line is you have to know what it takes to put the parts together to do a job description. And I personally feel in my breed a fault that’s a little cosmetic troubles me a lot less than the fault that compromises functional ability. That’s me and a personal – and that’s how I judge. I mean I want them to have that type that when they come in the ring they jump out me. But sometimes you have to make, shall we say, you have to make some compromises to get a dog that’s right for breeding stock and we’re supposed to be addressing breeding stock. Some things are easier to fix than others. It’s just like Desi said – you can’t judge on faults. You’ve got to pick the dog that has a collection of virtues. That’s what you have to pick. And those are not always easy to find.
LR: Desi, what do you think on that?
DM: Kenny could probably explain something better than I’ll be able to. But I mean you also have to take the function of a dog and where they work. < PT: That’s right.> You take the three Setters. Basically they’re pretty much the same an outline. I think it was Elliot Weiss one time when he was talking about the differences – you know the Gordon is like a dirt bike. You know they work in the hard terrain up in Scotland so you need big robust – <KM: stocky> … the English Setter, he compared to like a leisure bike/regular type of bike, and then the Irish Setter that works in an open field is like a racing bike. And it makes a difference. Here’s three Breeds with basically the same outline, but it’s the way those dogs work distinguishes their type.
KM: When English Setters hunt – when you go out with an English Setter – they quarter, which means they go in the field like this – back and forth like this. An English Setter’s right out in front of you. Irish Setters – you have to be on a horse! <laughter> <inaudible> They’re a half mile down the road. Gordon setters in Scotland in those – I think they’re called bogs or swampy areas – that’s why they were heavier boned because they had to lift their legs up zip through horrible ground. And the Gordon Setter standard calls for a high head carriage. Never want to put a Gordon Setter up going around the ring with its head down – it calls for a higher head carriage because that’s part of the movement that they have.
LR: Absolutely. Ok, so, questions! Young lady –
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What about the Irish Red & Whites?
LR: The Irish Red and White Setter type differences – Kenny
KM: Well they’re finer boned than any one of the other three Setters. Markings are important. To tell you the truth, I haven’t seen a whole lot of following in that breed. Maybe there is in England or something like that.
DM: It’s rare we ever see any. Since they’ve been recognized, I’ve probably maybe judged fifteen of them in all these years. We just don’t see them, and most and the ones you see are usually pretty lacking. We have seen a few really good ones and it’s a shame the breed has not become more popular. Were they not – wasn’t the original Irish Setter – red and white? <ALL: Right,right. Yes.>
LR: OK, additional questions – sir?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You mentioned earlier, about having your exceptional dog in a sea of mediocrity, and sometimes an exceptional dog gets, uh, lost. How do, if I feel I’ve got an exceptional dog, how do I keep my dog from getting lost?
LR: Great question.
PT: You seek out the judges-…
BILL MCFADDEN <in audience>: You have to have an eye for a judge! <laughter>
LR: I like that! Thank you, Bill, for that contribution!
AL: He’s exactly right.
LR: Go ahead Pat.
PT: Well you might want to, as Bill said, have an eye for the judge. That means you think in terms of what judge might you let buy you a dog if you had a blank check and they were going to the native country.
LR: But what if you don’t know.
PT: What if you don’t know. Make it your business to find out.
DM: You know, going back to the original thing – developing an eye for a dog – I mean there’s certain things when I was in school, there were certain subjects that no matter how hard I studied, went to summer school, failed summer school, took the course over the next year, and I continued to fail. I mean there were certain subjects, if I went to school for 10 years on that subject, I would never have been any good. I mean, it’s like judges are like dogs. You have excellent, very good, good, satisfactory. I’m satisfactory. And you’re never going to make some of these people, no matter how hard they study, they’re never going to be a great judge.
KM: You have to be obsessed with the whole sport. When I was a kid, 13/14 years old, I used to take the bus – the downtown-… I grew up in Dallas, Texas – to the public library there and I’d check out years’ worth of Popular Dogs magazines and I’d sit there all Saturday afternoon reading Popular Dogs. My mother hired a psychologist! She though there <inaudible> <laughter>
PT: I hear you. I did the same thing.
AL: I think we have all done that.
DM: There is a very successful young man in Pekingnese, David Fitzpatrick, we all know. And David was about 11 or 12 years old. There was a lady down the block, Hermine Cleaver, and she hired David to come and clean out her garage. Should have taken two hours. It took well over a week because he had to read every Popular Dogs before he could get out of the garage. <laughter>
LR: So does that kind of give you an answer or do you want to have a follow-wup with that?
PT: I hear what you’re saying. How do you sort them out?
LR: Who do you ask?
PT: Well I suppose you could ask some of the people that you know are people of high quality and integrity that show dogs and have a lot of success, because sometimes you have to lerarn for yourself. I’m sure all of us here have kept notes judges – logs on judges. We didn’t have all that stuff in the day. And the bottom line is, and even when you are a knowledgeable breed it can even guide you to have a log. Because sometimes you will have a different dog than what you have. And you go and you lose under a judge – all right he doesn’t like that particular kind of dog. Maybe he’s a headhunter in your breed or maybe he’s a guy that’s totally unforgiving on the down and back.
PT: So you know showing this dog, but when you get another one, you try it. You cannot determine whether a judge is going to like what you have until you show him enough dogs to get a feel for him. One of the problems we’re having in dogs today is that there aren’t great lines of dog for breeders to go to – the breedings are random anymore. When I moved out here – I moved out here in 1962 – I was a young schoolteacher, and I stayed out here because my line of dogs at the time were light on bone and the head. And there was a kennel called Greenwood up in the Pacific Northwest, and the first time I saw any of their dogs at the Santa Barbara show in the day when that was quite a show – all those dogs had bone and head and feet. And I said, “I’m going to stay out here because I need those dogs.” So as you grow in dogs and mature in dogs, first of all you are and what your dogs need to improve and you seek out those dogs strong where yours have needs. And then you seek out judges that understand the same thing. You want to remember that most of your judges have either been really top handlers or they’ve been breeders. And the old days there was more opportunity for people to become great breeders than there is today. It wasn’t so hard to keep dogs – there wasn’t such legislation against them, your vet bills didn’t send both kids of the vet’s to college. I mean you know things are different. So you’re going to have to work hard at it. But you can ask old-time breeders, too. People that have been kicking around the sport forever and have had some success. Those are the people you might ask. But you shouldn’t judge a judge – eye for a judge – your definition of the judge should never be, “A good judge is one who puts me up, a bad judge is one who doesn’t.” When you do that, you drop the wall to improving your learning ability.
AL: One other thing – if you feel like you’re in that situation where you’ve got the outstanding dog and there’s four other ones that are the same but they’re not good and you’re losing to those, do this: Like if I were in that situation I’d say, “Hey Bill, can you come watch, you know, Vizslas today?” <LR: What am I missing?> Yeah – I missing something in my quality, condition, or presentation? Where’s the hole?
BILL MCFADDEN: Now we have the technology to have someone videotape you.
BILL MCFADDEN <reference to watching yourself>
AL: That’s a great tool but also have somebody else look at it and like you’re saying, “I know mine’s the best,” Well, maybe – maybe not. So be real about it and have an objective expert maybe give you their opinion and they might say, “Hey look, you know, you’re moving your dog like so fast that the judges never going to point at the dog going like that.
AL: And so get an objective expert to evaluate your situation and they might be able to tell you right now.
PT: Did we do good? <laughter> <applause>
LR: Kenny you told me you couldn’t talk – I think you’re a big fat liar – you just did just awesome! You did a great job. Thank you guys all very much – I know it’s been a very long day and I appreciate your time tremendously.
Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week
LR: OK crew. We are back with Allison Foley from The Leading Edge Dog s Show Academy. She has another one of her outstanding tips of the week for us today. So welcome Allison.
ALLISON FOLEY: Hi, Laura how are you today?
LR: Fantastic. How are you.
AF: I’m good, Thank you.
LR: Very good. So what are we learning about today?
AF: Well today I’m going to give you two little tidbits that really have helped me in my years with dogs. So the first one is for dogs – usually male but sometimes female – that have really strong smelling urine and also the urine really stains the white coats. So you know Clumbers that pee on their front legs and furnishings … English Setters that pee on their furnishings. Even English Setters – your girls, or American Cocker girls are Havanese that pee on their feathering and a lot of something that was just in their urine is very dark. So I use apple cider vinegar.
LR: I love apple cider vinegar.
AF: Yes. So I put a little bit of apple cider vinegar in there water so like all of their water that they have access to has you know like for a 2 quart bucket like a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in it. And you’ll notice in about ten days that their urine doesn’t have that strong smell anymore, and then if you’re paying attention and like washing out the staining of that you’ll find that their urine isn’t staining either at all or as badly. Keeps up the pH. You do have to be a little bit careful because some dogs really, really hate the taste of it. And so you have to make sure they are drinking the water and you don’t overdo it.
AF: So I always start you know with like about a quarter of where I want to be for the first two days and then like half of a tablespoon and that you know depending on how big the container is that they’re drinking out of, how often you change it etc. So you do have to watch that but it does work a trick like you would really, really like it.
LR: I love it. I use it on o go back to Clumbers – eye stains Clumbers, White Akitas, any of those dogs have, like your Bichon or anything like that where they get weepy eyes. And that clears those eye stains in a heartbeat.
AF: Yep it really does help the pH and really does change things so it’s great.
LR: Yeah. Next one?
AF: So the other one is, because I’m thinking about water, I do have dogs especially during a show that just don’t seem to want to drink water during the day. Unless you know that they’re thirsty they’re panting you’re in a warm building. But just for whatever reason you know you offer them water and they don’t take it. So this is a tip from Australian friends of mine that they’re always giving their dogs water throughout the day because their dogs shows are outside and it’s always hot there. So adding a little bit of milk – so I’m talking about even like an eighth of a cup of milk – I’ve even used the little Creamers from the concession and I’ve used those and put those in the water and I don’t know what it is and nobody has ever been able to explain that to me, but you offer them the water, they turn their nose away, you put a little bit of milk in and they drink water.
LR: Wow I like it. I like that better because I’ve used like sometimes broth you know but usually that has so much salt. It’s almost like pointless, right.
AF: And I do really like that because you know I just get concerned during the day when you know your dog is thirsty but they just have this thing that they’re not going to drink that water and even you give them fresh water, you give them ice cubes, and it just seems you put a little bit of milk in there and they just drink like normal. And you know the milk is going to help – it’s not going to hurt. So anyway next time your dog doesn’t feel like drinking water and you’re like saying that I really would like him to take a drink, put a little dab of milk in there and just see what happens.
LR: I wish I’d known that when I was showing the Saluki that only knew how to drink out of a toilet – actually not kidding. So thank you so much Allison I appreciate it. Listeners don’t forget Pure Dog Talk 25 in your check out code for one of Allison’s Leading Edge Academy courses and that gives you a 25 percent discount on the cost tof your course. I think you can probably get at least a cup of coffee out of that.
AF: Yeah more than a cup of coffee.
LR: Excellent. Thanks so much Allison.
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