Monday, November 10, 2014

Knees and good friends, never take either of them for granted!

A couple of weeks ago I went down to Missouri to Purina Farms to the UKC Gateway show with a good friend, Tracie and a bunch of dogs.  Thursday Tracie was judging so I got to hang out and watch the fun.  Friday Wash and I ran agility. It was Wash's first time running agility in a new place, but he was perfect. 2 perfect 200s and 2 second placements.  Bentley and I tried obedience, but it wasn't to be.  Tracie and Bents and Bents brother Luxor played some rally too.   We all played in conformation all 3 days, where Peace took Breed 3 of the 6 shows which was enough to finally finish her UKC Grand Championship.

However, on Sunday while in the breed ring with Peace, my knee went POP and I suddenly couldn't stand on it, much less walk.  The pop was loud and it was extremely uncomfortable.  I spend the rest of the day grabbing people to show my dogs for me and icing it.  Thankfully I was traveling with Tracie and not by myself as I am sure I couldn't have gotten packed up much less gotten home.

Fast forward to this last weekend. I had my weekend all planned, Wash was going to do conformation on Saturday and his first CPE trial on Sunday.  Well thanks to the knee that was out.  But that same good friend Tracie offered to run Wash for me at the CPE trial.  I wasn't sure that he would after all, it was only his second trial at a new place, but my fears were unneeded.  Tracie and Wash did really well together, which made me super happy.  I think its wonderful that a young green dog could adjust to a new handler a new place and play new games. Wash and Tracie earned his CL1-F title, by qualifying in FullHouse and Jumpers.  Wash had a few baby dog moments, that caused an NQ in Standard and Snooker, but overall those runs were good too.

Here are my 2 favorite photos from the day.  I love the look of intensity on his face and while the dogwalk picture is not a great one, it does show how he was able to keep working even with a new handler and the judge right there!

So even though I will be having surgery soon, I am still very pleased with the corgis!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Experiences - Judging

Talk about a fun time!  Last weekend I had the opportunity to judge the herding group at the puppy match at the Amana Ia dog show.   What a fun time that was.  

Even though this was “just a match” I spent the weeks preceding the event reading up on all the herding group breed standards.  I read them, I re-read them and for the breeds I expected to see I went to the breed club sites and also reviewed those.   I was very glad I did, because in all honesty judging is a hard job.  Looking at all those beautiful puppies and mentally comparing them to the standards and not to each other is requires quite a bit of brain power and organization.  I tried very hard to consider the virtues of each dog, comparing to the standard, rather than focusing on the imperfections.   Comparing a 4 month old baby to a breed standard is a little different than comparing a 11 month old baby,  yet judging is about choosing the best representative of the breed on that day, not the potential.  By looking at the virtues of the dog at that moment I could focus on those aspects rather than the missing pieces.  By that I mean,  a 4 month old pup will not have the development or maturity, but it can still have balance,  lovely movement, correct angles.  By focusing on the qualities that are present I tried to find the pups that exuded quality and balance and beauty.  

My group winner was a cattle dog pup, who went on and won best in match.  I loved the balance I saw in this pup, the beautiful head and expression, when it wasn’t puppy bouncing its movement was effortless, smooth and flowing.  A lovely picture when still, and eye catching when moving.  I simply could not take my eye off this puppy.  

A few of the puppies made me giggle out loud, and they all had me smiling.  It’s given me a new respect for the judges who do this on a weekly basis.  And quite surprising to me, I would really like to do this again someday.  

Speaking of judging, a short while back I became a provisional Rally and Agility Judge for UKC.  Last week I became a WCRL Rally judge also.  For UKC I so still need to complete some apprentice assignments, so I expect that this winter I will start looking for those opportunities.   As most of you may know while I greatly enjoy the conformation ring, the performance events are my true loves.  I am looking forward to the chance to experience these events in a new way as well. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Patience or lack thereof

In most things in life I am not a patient person.  I do not like to wait.  If I have a question I want answers now.  If I want to eat something I do, which totally explains my weight issues doesn’t it?  If I have applied for a job or ordered something quite frankly I want it now.  In most parts of my life this holds true.  But when it comes to the dogs, I have learned some patience.  And I have failed some patience.
I love to compete with my dogs.  I enjoy having goals and working toward those goals.  But I have learned that while it may be fun to go out and try things without much preparation not every dog can handle that.  I was spoiled with Magic. He is a once in a lifetime dog and has pretty much all along done anything I asked of him, no matter how unprepared he was.  And really do a pretty fair job of it. 
But I learned along the way that in all cases that might not have been the best approach.  Sure we were relatively successful but how much more could we have done with more preparation.  I learned this fairly early on when he told me in no uncertain terms he did not enjoy competing in obedience.  Since he can’t tell me I can only guess that came about because I pushed him.  But he made it clear to me the day he refused to heel and laid and watched the entire heeling pattern.
So with my next dog, Grace, I didn’t push.  I figured we had time, time to perfect the skills, time to become a better team.  We didn’t have that time.
Now I have other dogs I am working with, and trying to figure out what is that correct balance.   And part of making those decisions is the fact that quite frankly I am terrified of losing another dog early as I did Grace.  How to balance the enjoyment of being with the dogs, competing, because I do love that part of the game, with the thought of being truly ready.   Is anyone ever ready?  How do you decide.  I know my dogs could care less if they ever competed. That part is for me and I know that.  Now that Magic is retired though, I can tell that he misses it. He may not have understood it all as competing, but he certainly understood the being with me and getting to play those games that he loved like barn hunt and agility. 
How do you decide when is the right time? How do you decide when it’s OK to go out and enjoy the ride, failures and all, rather than stay home searching for perfection?    For now,  I know my younger dogs are not yet ready for every challenge out there, but I think with a couple we are almost there-almost at the point where it’s time to start facing those new challenges.  And I am impatient to start.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On to a new chapter

I have been bad about blogging this year.  I admit it.  It was a rough beginning to the year and quite frankly, writing about it made it too real-too final, so I have been avoiding the blog.  But avoidance doesn't change things, does it?

At the end of least year, Magic came off the agility course limping.  I gave him a few months off, visited his care team and he seemed recovered.  But I think in my heart I knew, the first trial we went to this year, before he ever ran I was in tears, pretty certain that this was his last trial. And yes in his second run of the day he came off the aframe with a cry of pain.  I was heartbroken to be honest.  I adore this dog, and I knew his agility career was at an end. 

We had worked hard last year to qualify for the CPE Nationals, I had hoped to be able to finish his CATCH.  I had goals. I have always known that in the right hands this little dog would have been a superstar, but he was saddled with me as his partner and we muddled through.  We went back into recovery and therapy mode and he did improve.

I made the decision that we would go to CPE Nationals, but that this was our retirement. Magic would get to run, but no standard, and that I would make decisions on what games to play based on the courses where we could limit those down contacts.  We had a great time, he played 4 of the 6 games qualifying in all 4.  We did not run at all on Saturday as it was pouring rain, the fields were mud and I wasn't willing to risk injury.

It was a good end to his agility career.  I was sad, and I miss taking my boy out bar hopping on the weekends, but it was the right decision.  Magic and I will still be out and about, we will just be trying new things together.  Heck just this last weekend he passed the ATTS temperament test.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Highlights and a look toward 14

Well another year is almost over, and it is time to look at this years highlights,  and maybe set some goals for tomorrow.  It is always interesting to review what the dreams were, and what progress we made.  So lets start with a look back.

For Magic, I had hoped to get his CDX and to continue working toward another agility championship.  Well, we definately made progress toward agility, but not toward his CDX.  In fact, we met a couple of minor agility goals, he earned high novice in ASCA, and he earned high in trial preferred at the Cardigan National.  We did lots of training for obedience,  and did earn AKC BN, CDSP CD, and also his WCRL ARCHEX.

For Siren, I kind of forgot that I was going to work obedience with her, and started training agility instead. Her 2 accomplishments for the year were getting her CGC and her CA.

With Peace I had hoped to work on her UKC grand championship, well we did have a couple of shoes with competition, but sadly made no progress.

Washburns plan was to work on his championship, and one of my dreams for the year was to earn his BN.  Well he surpassed that, earning his championship, with 3 majors, and earning his CGC, as well as his BN.

For Ms. Bentley, my plan had been to work on her UKC grand, with a win at the WGSDCI National as a dream.  We didn't manage any UKC wins, but she did win WB, BOW, BOS  at the National.  She looked so pretty. Then later in the year, she earned her CGC.

So for the new year...hmm, lets see, I am dreaming here, but I am hoping for that CDX,  a breed win, a CATCH, an RN or 2, and a CGC. I am hoping to play lots of agility,  practice some nose games, and play with all of the dogs. But mostly I am just hoping for a happy, healthy family, good jobs, faith, love and happy dogs.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Monday, September 30, 2013

CH Wash (AKC Pending)

My silly little guy did good!
Finished his Championship 9.28.13 by going winners dog and best of winners at the Rockford Freeport supported entry.  He finished with somewhat limited showing and 3 majors.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Las Last weekend Magic and I, along with several of our dog friends attended and participated in a dog agility trial. While I had a great time and I love the crew I hang out with there were several things that I observed this weekend that I found to be disturbing.

I want to start by stating that the group I hang out with is fabulous. We help, we laugh, we encourage, we support each other and the other competitors. But more importantly we help, we encourage and we support our DOGS. While we all try to be successful, we do so in a manner that is encouraging, that is safe, that works to our dogs strengths. This group will pull an entry if the course is not safe for the dog at this time, or modify a course to make it fun and successful for the dog. This group will try new things, we will push our comfort levels, but NOT intentionally at the dogs expense. Q be damned, it’s a team sport, and this group supports not only each other, but each other’s dogs. And more importantly our own dogs, you know the dogs we brought and we chose to play with.
Why am I ranting, because this weekend I saw things that made me so very sad, and at times so very angry. I saw handlers with dogs who so clearly were showing that they were uncomfortable, possibly they were stressed, appeared that they were hurting. Handlers who screamed at the dogs on course, never giving the dog any praise or good feedback, or worse gave them the same feedback for both good behavior and bad performances. There was a handler who when the dog missed a contact loudly told the dog I HATE YOU. Really??

I understand sometimes we think a dog is ready and we find out at a trial they are not. Sometimes we find out at a trial a dog is hurting or sore or stressed. I am not talking about the occasional odd run where it appears the dog is blowing off its handler, and I am not talking about training in the ring. Sometimes those things become apparent when you watch people and watch the interactions. I’m not talking about the people who are gently working with a stressed or learning dog to keep moving forward. I am talking about the handlers who week after week berate the dogs, blame the dogs

Our dogs do not choose when to go to a trial, they do not choose how we train them. Why then would we choose to make our dog miserable? I don’t understand the thought processes in this. And I really don’t want to understand it. What I want to do is rip that poor dog away from its handler, and show the dog some kindness.

I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, sometimes I get sad or mad, but dammit if I EVER act this way, if I ever blame my dog for my failures as a trainer, call me on it. Kick me, yell at me, do whatever it takes because a Q, a win or whatever is NOT WORTH IT! I want my dog looking at me just like this ALWAYS.