Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

I think that I rather enjoy doing these little weekend wrap ups! It "allows" me to write something else up for Saturdays and then use today as a more exciting **disbelieving snort** summation of what we did over the weekend.

Yesterday was spent doing a whole lot of house cleaning. I really should have taken some before and after pictures of the kitchen especially. Hubby and I worked our tails off doing all that cleaning. The fabulous part about having such large dogs with smooshable, pendulous lips is that they tend to fling spit everywhere! We found slobber marks in areas that we just couldn't quite figure out how they got there. That is the power of the head shake! While there are still walls left in the house that need to be hit, I can say that I am currently not horribly embarassed to have people over to the house at the moment. Which is good, because my friend Marian is stopping over on Friday so that we can drive down to my parents' house in Silverton where we're going to stay for the Corky Vroom handling seminar.:o)

That was pretty much the entirety of our Saturday. By the evening we were so burnt out on cleaning, that we both just kind of vegged. I took the dogs out for a brief run in the evening because they really needed it, but that was about it.

Today, I got to go and visit Mia (this is Violet's new call name)!! She is still such a doll face!! I wanted to get a chance to work with her a bit because her parents have been nice enough to let me steal her away next weekend for the handling seminar. I really can't see Bess tollerating two full days of handling, so I asked them if I could also take Mia down with me. It serves two purposes. 1) Gives Bess a break from two days of non-stop handling. 2) Gives me a chance to work with Mia a lot and fine tune some things with her because I get to show her!:) And yes, I do realize that I am quite the lucky girl! I'm also really happy with how Mia is doing. It just took a little bit of warming up for her to let me stack her efficiently. She also gaited well for me with her parents sitting in front of her. This was something that I really wanted to test out because they really want to be there at every show and be able to watch her in the ring. In order for that to happen, it's my job to make sure that she's acclimated to that and knows to pay attention to me while in the ring. I'm happy to say that I don't think it'll be a problem. And boy can that girl bait! Makes things a bit easier! In summation, she's a very happy girl who is doing really well and I'm excited to take her into the ring in two weeks!

After I got done playing with Mia, I stopped off at JoAnn's Fabrics to get some material for one of our soft crates that Heffner did some damage to. While I was away at the national specialty last October, I had asked Adam to give the dogs some time in their soft crates while chewing on a bone each night. I was slowly getting Heffner used to being in a soft crate. He's not the best behaved dog in a crate of any sort, but we're working on that. Unfortunately, I don't think Heffner was comfortable enough in there yet and there is also a very real possibility that when my darling husband put the dogs in their respective crates and went into the next room to play some computer games, that he likely left the dogs in there for longer than the 15 min. that I had wanted. And in true Heffner fashion, he pawed at the crate door and managed to get his way out. In the process, he completely killed the zipper.

I have no desire what-so-ever to try and put a brand new zipper onto this crate. I have a feeling that it would end up being a lot more hassle than it's worth. Therefore, I decided that I'm just going to sew the zipper pretty much closed and place some fabric over the whole area. This also means that this side of the crate isn't as secure and Heffner can now no longer use it since he has that lovely dane tendency to paw the crap out of something. Which leads me to the problem of having two soft crates that are only useable by Bess. In the short term, this isn't a problem. And probably in the long term it won't be a problem either. Mostly it's just annoying.

Now you may be wondering exactly what kind of material I plan on using to cover the area with. Why, I'm glad you asked!>:o) I honestly went into the fabric store with the intention of getting a very practical type of cloth that was generally the same color. However, as usually happens, I get distracted by pretty, shiny, and interesting things.:) Which is what led me to picking out the purple snow leopard print!
Jealous? Yeah, I kind of thought so!LOL I should also have enough material left over afterwards to make something embarassing, I mean, interesting for the dogs.>:o) And as always, the dogs were my ever present and always helpful companions.
Bess has a thing about crates. She LOVES them! You open up the door of a new crate and she makes a bee line for it! I was transporting a ridgeback to a show at one point and I had his MUCH smaller wire crate in the back of the truck. For whatever reason I decided to load her up first and had the door to the crate open. Instead of leaping into the wide open space of the truck she did a VERY excited leap into the really small crate. Adam was right there when she did it and we both cracked up. She will seriously do that every time! Open space or crate? CRATE!! And trust me, I'm not complaining! It's just really hilarious. Though it does make things interesting when I'm wielding a needle and she insists on staying inside the crate and sniffing the areas where my hands are.
So that will be a work in progress over the week and I'll be sure to post a picture of the final project. Yes, Bess will have the most stylin' crate at the handling seminar.;) Whether she likes it or not!

That's pretty much been the excitement for us this weekend. Other than that, I took both dogs out for a run in the nice weather. I did snap a picture of Heffner next to some daffodils in the park near our house for the 52 Weeks for Dogs.
And with that, I'm off to do some scrapbooking and then work some more on the crate while we watch a movie tonight. I hope that everyone had a great weekend!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Book of the Month

My pick for Book of the Month for February is "Giver Your Dog a Bone" by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. As I've mentioned previously, I feed both of my dogs a raw diet. When you're first starting out it can be very overwhelming as to how to go about it, what you should or should not do, and what exactly do you feed. As with a lot of information on raw feeding that's out there, Billinghurst does go into the "evils" of feeding kibble. While I will never feed my dogs a kibble diet again (although I do use kibble pieces as training treats!), I'm not completely on board with the whole scare tactic method of getting people to feed raw. If you want to feed raw, great! If not, that's your decision. Personally, I like having more control over what my dogs eat. And it's a lot of fun to feed them! Not necessarily fun to bag the meat up every three months, but I get over that!

The author also kind of breaks down the general "food groups" of raw feeding. There's an explanation on raw meaty bones. A description of what part plain meat plays in the diet. Where organ meat fits into the whole scheme of things. And then a discussion on the benefits of also including fruits and vegetables in the diet. If you're not entirely familiar with raw feeding, this is a form of the diet that is more often called the BARF diet. It's still raw feeding, it just also includes fruits and vegetables, with more of an emphasis on the vegetables.

In addition to the different food groups of the diet, he goes into additional constituents that you CAN include if you wish to, how to include them, and in what proportions. The food that fall into this category are grains and legumes, dairy products, eggs, and table scraps.

Additionally Billinghurst talks about the various supplements that you can add to each meal. Things like alfalfa and kelp powder. He explains how different supplements can be beneficial for various different dogs. He also has a general breakdown of the amounts to give supplements in.

There's a general overview towards the end of the book of how to feed a puppy, an adult dog, and an older dog. One of the first question that most people also ask is how much to feed. He talks about this and gives some sample weekly diets.

If you are interested in starting down the road of feeding your dog a raw diet, I would definitely recommend getting and reading this book. Keep it around for future referencing! It's incredibly helpful to have something ready to hand that you can go back to when you have questions crop up.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Magazine of the Month

My pick for Magazine of the Month for February is Doggie Aficionado! This magazine is definitely targeted towards the upper end of dog owners. The majority of articles revolve around travelling to beautiful locations with your dogs, the most dog friendly hotels, and various ways to pamper your pooch. While I think it's something fun to read occasionally, it's not a magazine that I would get a regular subscription to.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Web Site of the Month

Well folks, the 2010 Iditarod is fast approaching and I would be awfully remiss to not start focusing some attention on this most amazing of races! Therefore, my pick for web site of the month has got to be The Official Site of the Iditarod! You can find all the information that you could want on this site. Videos, updates, and all sorts of other neat stuff. Check it out and get ready to cheer on the canine version of the Olympic athletes!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Collar of the Month

My pick for Collar of the Month for February is Faux Fur Quick Release Collar!:o) Yes, that's right, my dogs have faux fur collars! he he he I REALLY couldn't resist when I stumbled across these collars. And, um, $8.99 per collar??? Hells yes I bought my dogs some freakin' cheap faux fur collars!

All kidding aside, these collars have actually stood up pretty well. While they may have a sketchy low price, they're sturdy and can take a beating from my two. They've suffered through lots of WWF wrestling matches, hikes, and a trip to the beach. I give these collars two thumbs up! And as far fashion sense goes, I give them to faux fur covered thumbs up!;o)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week this week is Luke the Greatest Dane! They're newish to the blogging world. You can tell from the posts how very much his mom loves him. There's plenty of cute pictures of him playing in the snow too! So head on over and check them out!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Product of the Month

My pick for Product of the Month is Soft Handled Reinforced Udder Tug from Helping Udders! I bought this tug especially for Bess. I can motivate Heffner with other toys. Specifically any of the cuz variety. However, Bess likes to tug. And she won't tug with just anything. So I figured I'd give this a try since it's got that eau de bovine allure about it, I thought it might be especially enticing. She totally loves it! I only take it out when we're doing specific training and I want to use it to amp her up. It also holds up really well considering how she chomps on it. As an additional bonus, you get to pick your pet rescue of choice for a portion of the proceeds to go towards! It's like a double gift!:o) Here's a picture of me holding it for a size comparison.
As a side note, I took the dogs out running together for the first time as a trial run. I toned down Bess' run and pushed Heffner's a bit. We had a total success!! Granted it started off a little rough. Mostly because Bess acted like a demon possessed with her Gentle Leader on. We settled into a pretty good rhythm though and had a lovely run. Two thumbs up for them not killing me!:o)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

We have been having some ridiculously nice weather for the past few days. It's positively spring like with temperatures during the day right around 60 and not a cloud in the sky. Knowing that we had a lovely weekend ahead of us and I had plenty of things on the to do list, I took the dogs out for an early morning hike. I was also hoping for some spectacular views and was not disappointed. Saturday morning, hiking through the woods along the logging trails was just one of those mornings where you could almost give up everything and just hunker down for a simple life in the woods. The air was crisp, sweet, and exhilarating. The views were breathtaking. And the atmosphere was one of total serenity. It was honestly a little slice of heaven.

I had visions of getting up early and trying to hit the top of one of the hills right around sunrise, but that's pretty early. While we did get up early and got there at a very nice time of the morning, we did miss the sunrise. Oh yeah, and it's a two mile up hill trek to the top. I wasn't terribly interested in hauling butkiss up hill for 2 miles just for a sunrise. It was still a glorious morning regardless. Here are some of the pictures!

We had a GREAT time! Trying to capture still photos of Bess was exceedingly difficult as that required that she stand still for more than a split second. Apparently the mountain air was also VERY invigorating for her as well. She was just a fawn blur all over the place.

Once we got home I got a bit of a surprise from my husband. He was in a particularly giving mood and stated that he wanted to buy me something, but it couldn't be dog related. Now, I have a list handy at a moments notice of the plethora of dog related things that are on the "need" list. However, things that are NOT dog related are a little more difficult to just spew forth. Doing some quick thinking, and kind of figuring that it wasn't going to happen, I just threw out there that I wanted a one of the Cricut machines. I gave a bried description and then hopped in the shower, not fully believing that he would do it. They're also not terribly cheap. The smaller version is less expensive, but again, it's all relative. Much to my surprise, when he came back from running errands, he showed me my new Cricut machine!!!

**SQUEAL** I've been sort of secretly wanting one ever since I started reading the My Pink Stamper blog. The things that she can do with all the stuff there are so many options!! It just happened to be my lucky day and JoAnn's had them on sale for $85 (the smaller version that is)!This will definitely come in handy for scrapbooking.:o)

After the excitement of getting my new toy, we had to hurry up and head out to Browns Camp for some off roading fun!! I was mistaken when I originally said that we were going mudding. I don't have the right tires for that, and it's also really helpful to have a winch on the front of your truck for when you get stuck.:) Unfortunately a lot of the 4-wheel drive trails are now restricted to ATVs, but we did manage to still have some fun! I need to build up my skill set a bit before I tackle some of those trails. I should have taken pictures while we were riding in Jeremy's FJ. The trails are tight, twisty, and fun! I kind of think that my truck might be a bit too long to make some of those turns that are in between trees. We left my truck on the side of the real road so that we could ride along with Jeremy to get the full experience.

And holy redneck haven Batman!!LOL Seriously! It was hilarious! There were crazy ATV drivers EVERYWHERE! To the point where just driving the trucks along the main road was a little hairy at times. There was Pabst Blue Ribbon in abundance, ATVs EVERYWHERE, and to top it off, lots of target practice.:) I have to admit, I grew up very rural, and this kind of took me back to being a kid and having that kind of fun. It was hilarious to watch the living translation of the stereotypes.

Today I finished packaging up all the meat. Woo hoo!!! I'm glad that's done for another three months. I tinkered around with my new toy. And I even managed to get the dogs out to enjoy the good weather and burn off some energy. I didn't end up getting them out to the dog park to work on obedience with distractions. There just wasn't enough time today to fit everything in. That'll be the goal for next week.

I hope everyone else had a great weekend!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Good Day!

Tonight I took Bess to the obedience show and go again and I was even more pleased with her this time around than I was the first time! She was so up and happy the whole time. We got some nice compliments to this affect as well, which also totally boosted my spirits.:o) Her heeling was better this time around. She wasn't quite as distracted. I think it also helped that last week I took home some pointers for things to work on so we were a little better prepared this time. Overall, what a great girl!!

I also had a really good time just talking to the people there. Finding out more about the obedience club that I applied to be a member of. There are all sorts of little side benefits to joining the club that I am looking forward to. Additionally, I'll be able to get some inside help and advice on picking an instructor that should be the right fit for us. I still plan on doing some privates with our agility instructor when it comes to rally, but she doesn't do as much obedience and prefers rally.

I started whacking away at the meat that is ever so slowly thawing in our garage. It still amazes me how long it takes that stuff to thaw out to the point that I can at least start prying individual pieces off of the main blocks!

Goodness I'm tired tonight! I should head off to bed here soon. I'm getting up early to take the dogs on a light hike in the morning to burn off at least some of their energy. And then later on, I'm Adam and I are heading out with a friend and his fiance to get our trucks filthy and do some mudding!! I'm totally looking forward to that. It's the simple pleasures that make life great.:o)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


.....I'm such a jackass. Ug! Specifically on two accounts. #1) Getting frustrated with Heffner during out ball session this morning. #2) Dropping a bomb on ya'll at the end of an otherwise boring post.;o) Lets tackle them separately because I've got some 'splaning to do on both accounts.

Right now, the two days a week that I'm for sure working the dogs in our ball studio (I really think I need to come up with some other name for it, but nothing else really springs to mind) are Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Then depending on what all we have going on, I try to throw in a weekend day somewhere. This morning was only Heffner's third session back working with the balls and other objects. I have made a mental note to take it slow with him. While he acts like he's totally fine and dandy to go back to business as usual, his fitness just isn't there and he's definitely lost some muscle tone over his recuperation period. I'm pretty sure that I pushed him a little too far on Tuesday morning. He was very willing and I have to admit that I'm a little over eager to strengthen up that rear again and get some better muscle tone. As usual, he was more than willing and all the exercises were ones that I've done with him before. The only difference is that I'm not going to have him get up onto the giant ball for another few weeks. I want him a lot more solid before that happens. At any rate, I think I pushed him a little further than I should have and did more repetitions than was wise. I kind of think that he may have been a little sore. Overall, this morning he was more hesitant on all of the exercises than he normally was. And he just wasn't really catching on as fast as I would have liked with some new smaller moves that I just started working both dogs on. The end result was that I was getting frustrated with my. The actual problem was that I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have and I most likely wasn't as effectively communicating to him what I wanted. So yeah, I generally felt like an ass afterwards. Thank goodness he's a forgiving dog!

On the flip side, Bess did excellent! She just loves training! She's catching on to the pivots that I'm starting to train in order to eventually link it to getting in close for obedience. With her this morning, I was NOT a jackass.

Now for #2, the puppy. Which I'm sure just a few of you are a slight bit curious about since I think that this is the first time in the blog that I've mentioned it.:) We've actually been sort of planning for dane #3 for a little while. For things like this, it takes my hubby a WHILE to get used to the idea. His initial response is ALWAYS no. And he admittedly does have good reason to sort of try and keep me in check so to speak. During college I worked at Petco (are you shocked?). I am a HUGE softy for unwanted animals. And I also happened to really want a dog at that time, but it was REALLY not a good idea considering that I was living in an apartment, going to school full time and working part time. Somehow, I managed to be the recipient of every unwanted critter that people would drop off at the store. And living in a college town where people buy animals on a whim and then quickly get bored with them, it happens a lot. And since they also get bored with the cages and aquariums that usually go along with and are more than happy to just drop things off and get them quickly off their hands for no fee at all, I also "conveniently" ended up with lots of cages and aquariums. And unfortunately, when you have empty cages, it's easy to have a reason to put things in them. I had rats, mice, a plethora of reptiles (I was BIG into reptiles and really do need to post some of the pictures of my menagerie sometime), birds, and a few fish tanks going. Oh yes, and the reptiles at least all had exercise regimens. That I kept track of using an Excel spreadsheet.:o) ( I TOLD you I have an unhealthy obsession with Excel) Feeding, cleaning, and taking care of all of those critters ended up taking up a whole lot of my time. Adam wasn't necessarily thrilled with so much of my free time getting monopolized by this large assortment of critters. Hence why his automatic no response any time I mention getting an animal of ANY sort!

Due to this, I've been slowly chipping away at him. He's slowly started not being outright no about it. If that sentence even made any sense.:oP Then, much to my surprise, last weekend while we were on our way out to see Avatar, we were talking about the dog show that morning and I was just sort of venting some frustrations that I've had. And much to my amazement he voluntarily started talking about our next puppy and who the parents were going to be and such things like that. I've wanted him to give his input and actually be part of the whole process, but that's difficult when he gets all puckered up when I start talking about these things. Granted, I do tend to talk very enthusiastically about them, which can lead him to feel overwhelmed and feel like things are going to happen immediately. However, he really understands where I'm coming from and that I really do understand the work that will be entailed with three great danes in the house. Finally, we were actually on the same page!

There are still a lot of things that are up in the air and nothing is set in stone until that puppy is at our house. At the earliest, we could have a puppy possibly sometime in September. At the latest, we could have a puppy sometime in the spring of 2011. I don't necessarily want to say too much right now until we know more and have kind of settled on who the parents are going to be. Either way, the puppy will be of Daynakin breeding (Bess' breeder), will be a female, and will hopefully be a brindle, though I am willing to go with another fawn as long as it's the right puppy.:o)

Knowing that the third dane is coming at some point has also sort of been the undertone of many of the things that I've been either sort of obsessing about or just outright stressing about. When I'm trying to fit in more training time with my dogs, I'm also planning ahead for the amount of time that I will need to allot for three dogs. While the puppy will not be able to do a lot of the things Heff and Bess are doing right now, there are modifications that can be made and there's still plenty of puppy training that will be necessary. So while the exercises will be different, the need for training time is the same. And all my thoughts on competing have the underlying tone of how to not just do this with the current two that I have, but how will I juggle it when there are three.

And ultimately, the amount of food that I will have to plan for. Ug! As my darling husband likes to point out, the freezer space that we have maxes out at a three months supply for our two dogs. Which means that for three dogs, I will be going to the butchers more like every two months versus three months. And he KNOWS how much I dread the whole meat packaging process. Usually when he comments on this, he says it with a sly little smile because of this very fact. And as awesome as it would be to get yet another stand alone freezer, we have no where to put it. And that's a LOT more food to package to fill an additional freezer. Even more imposing than the task is already! Speak of the devil, I just picked up a load of meat today and will be "happily" chipping away at that over the weekend. Yes, THAT'S apparently what I get to do with my "off" weekend. Shall we say that's reason #3 as to why I'm a jackass today? he he he he

As a side note, please believe that I will be posting more than enough puppy information once the decision is final! It will probably be an obsessive topic of this blog for a while. Thankfully once we have the puppy there will be pictures that will accompany her. But be prepared!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This And That....

......I sat down the past two nights and started looking at conformation events, agility trials, obedience trials, rally trials, and matches of all sorts. The result? My weekends are now booked through May. No joke. Granted, some of that will be flexible should I decide that I have overloaded myself. And some of those weekends are not entirely booked with dog related things. Shocking, I know!! There's a wedding in there. A kick ass bachelorette weekend that I'm planning for a friend. And a two week vacation for another wedding that will be lots of fun (the dogs will be staying up at Georgia's where I won't have to drive myself silly about how they're doing).

And as though that's not enough, I got to thinking that I need to make more time on week nights for regular training of various behaviors. This gets a little tricky. Usually I come home from work and chill for a bit, then I take the dogs out for some cardio. Then they get fed. And then I have to wait a bit for the food to settle before I can really do anything more with them. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day, but soooooooooooooo many things that I want to do with them!! If only I were independently wealthy, didn't have to work, and could just work my dogs on whatever I wanted to throughout the day. Now that would be the life!;)

I did decide that in a few more weeks, once I get Heffner back up to snuff on running, I'm going to start running with both the dogs. It's something that I've altogether avoided because they are most definitely the gruesome twosome! However, they will both be wearing their gentle leaders to give me some leverage. Otherwise, all it would take was one cat, squirrel, or whatever darting across our path and I'd be toast with those two! Hopefully that will free up a little more time in the evening for training.

I've also decided that I need to get the dogs out to a high distraction area at least once a week to work on obedience. And for Heffner, to also work on his reactivity issues. There's a newer dog park that's not terribly far from our house that will allow for plenty of area to work with the dogs. I don't plan on actually taking them into the dog park. For Heffner, that just won't ever happen. For Bess, it could happen, but I'm not overly fond of being inside dog parks any more with either of my dogs. However, they do provide some very intense distractions. And thankfully, those distractions are mostly contained behind a fence. I just have to be on the lookout for the random dog that gets loose. The area is also large enough that I can start working Heffner from a distance and SLOWLY work up to his threshold. Plus, they both really need to learn to work with distractions.

Hmmmmm......I'm pretty much just rambling along here. I do have to say, the more I get into trying out different things and training the dogs to random "exercises," the more I enjoy just the act of training! It's just so much fun! Both dogs have their strengths and weaknesses and are so completely different from each other.

I wonder what our next dane puppy will be like.......he he he......did I mention that we're getting a third?:)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week this week is The Husky Dog Blog! Beautiful pictures, beautiful dogs, and fun adventures. What more could you ask for?:) So go check them out and say hi!

Monday, February 15, 2010


We interrupt this regularly scheduled tooth brushing update in favor of the excitement that is Westminster!! We have to wait until tomorrow for the working group, but I am excited to see who wins the breed for great danes.:)

Today, Bess' breeder sent around a link to an article that talks a little bit about the road to Westminster and gives a better understanding into what goes in to a top winning conformation dog. You can check out the article here. I highly recommend reading the entire thing. It's very good and very accurate. There is a LOT that goes into producing a top winning dog in any breed. While some people may quibble over the "politics" that are involved in dog showing, politics are every where in your every day life. To assume that the sport of purebred dogs is any different doesn't make any sense. The only difference is the label that some will put on it.

I am also very excited to announce that a book review that I wrote was published in the latest edition of the Great Dane Gazette!!! I'm so excited! Included with the book review is a picture of Heffner and Bess in harness skijoring!:o)

And now I'm off to plan out the dog shows, agility trials, obedience trials, and matches that I'm going to attend with the dogs over the next upcoming months!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

Hmmmmm.....well, I've meant to blog the past two days, but things have just been plain busy. And now I'm beat. And also had the brilliant idea to schedule all sorts of work for myself at work for tomorrow, which is also a holiday. After a busy dog show weekend. Yes, I am truly brilliant!:oP

Lets start with Friday shall we? Friday after work I decided to grab the bull by the horns and head off to a local training facility for what I thought was going to be rally run throughs. I had briefly thought about bringing both dogs along, but it's really more ideal for me to just take Bess and sort of scope the place out ahead of time and have a game plan for how to manage Heffner. It was definitely a good idea because the rally run throughs that I thought I was signing up for was actually an obedience show and go. Yes, the all mighty traditional obedience. The epitome of precision obedience work. The dog sport that has intimidated me for so long and that I wasn't really sure I was made of tough enough stuff to compete in. So I was a little unsure when I showed up and they told me it was actually an obedience show and go. But I figured heck, I'm already here and I want to compete in obedience with Bess anyhow. We'll give it a whirl and see how it goes! Thankfully, the people who were putting it on were incredibly nice, helpful, and understanding when I told them I am very much a rank novice and had only been working with my dogs on these exercises for a brief period of time. They were encouraging and I am very thankful for that!

As I sat on the bench with Bess and watched some of the other handlers warming up with their dogs, I was just in awe! The kind of precision heeling work these people were able to do with their dogs was just amazing to see! All the dogs were so excited and happy to be there. Their attention was RIVETED on their handlers. They were reading every little body cue and staying in heel position so well with their handlers regardless of what they were doing. I was just blown away! I was also thinking "I want that!" :o)

Since Bess and I are so new to all of this and I've been pretty clueless about what to work on on my own (we will be taking some competition obedience classes once I get the basics firmed up), we did some easy heeling patterns, a figure eight, a stand for exam, a recall, and the long sit and down. I have been working both of the dogs in situations that have either limited distractions or are devoid of distractions. Practicing in this type of environment was pretty distracting for Bess and it took a little bit for her to get into work mode. Our heeling pattern was a bit rough, but we made it through and did decently. Our figure eight was pretty good, but still kind of rough. The stand for exam went well considering that I've never had her stand stacked for a stranger to go over with me not baiting her or otherwise distracting her. Her recall was GREAT! And her long sit and down were also GREAT!:o) I learned a whole lot about the areas that I need to immediately work on as well as things to start incorporating into our training and getting a game plan for. The biggy was to WALK FASTER while heeling. More recently she has started lagging a little bit on the heel. When they told me to pick up my pace, suddenly I had that happy, exuberant dog heeling at my hip who's attention was totally on me. It was amazing!

At any rate, I now have what I've been looking for, which is a weekly obedience practice group that will give me good feed back and let me practice in the very type of environment that we'll be competing in. And the great group of people there is a definite plus! It was a great experience and has really gotten me excited about training and eventually competing in rally and obedience.:o)

After the fun and excitement of the show and go, we headed home so that I could get a quick run in with the dogs. I really don't want to skip any exercise with Heffner because I really want to get him back up to snuff. What I picked up on Friday evening is that his pads have definitely softened with his reduced exercise. So that will take a bit of time to harden up again to where I want them to be. After our separate runs (some quick laps around the local high school track), it was time to clip and bathe Bess for the dog show this weekend. By the time I got everything done and set out for the morning (lovely 8am ring time!), I was too tired and out of time to do any blogging.

Then it was up and at 'em early Sat. morning, leaving the house by 5:45am so that I could get to the fairgrounds early enough to get set up, get a little practice in with Bess, and just chit chat with people before our ring time. While Bess won her class, we didn't do anything after that. It was a small enough show that I opted to handle her myself. In part because we have the Corky Vroom handling seminar coming up the 6th and 7th of March, so I need to make sure that I get the practice in.

After breed, I hung out for a bit and watched Georgia, Bess' breeder, show a Scottish deerhound. He was such a sweet dog! And they're so light on their feet!

Once dogs were walked and put away, it was off to the obedience rings to watch and learn. I've found it immensely helpful to watch competitions ahead of time so that I can start to mentally prepare myself and also see the various little things that I need to proof the dogs for. And of course, having a reactive dog, I need to always plan things out in advance so that I can best manage him and keep him well behaved so that no one even knows that he has some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moments.;) Once I get him into that work mode, he's usually quite good at tuning the other dogs out unless someone walks their dog up his butt. But again, I usually am on the alert for possibilities like that and it very rarely happens. Anyhow, I was having a great time chatting with my friend Andrea who just finished her Rally Excellent title on her bullmastif Brody (way to go guys!!), and another bullmastif competitor who has quite the formidable reputation with his dogs. I tried to alternate between watching rally and watching the open obedience rings. So much to take in! I think that's going to be one of my new goals for every dog show that we're entered in. I'm going to try and watch some of the obedience and rally competition so that I can pick things up along the way.

By the time I left Albany, it was getting well into the afternoon. I had a brief rest period at home and then Adam and I were off to get some dinner and see Avatar in 3D at the IMAX theater. Amazingly enough, the showings are still selling out at that theater two months after the release of the movie! And I have to say, after seeing the movie, I can see why! However, by the time we got home again, I was just zapped. It had been a long day of running all over the place and I was too beat to do much other than crawl into bed.

Thankfully, today we had a ring time of 12:35pm behind the tibetan mastiffs, so I was able to sleep in. While we won our class again today (not really hard when you're the only one in it!), we didn't really even get much of a look in the winners bitch ring. A fact that is always disappointing to me when it happens. There are times when I've wanted to throw something at the judge just to get their attention and get them to really look at my dog. This has been the case regardless of whether I'm showing her or Georgia is showing her. On the up side, danes are really strong in bitches right now. On the down side, danes are really strong in bitches right now. It's tough competition, even at small shows. But I do have to admit that I am slowly getting more and more disheartened. While I enjoy going to the shows, I enjoy showing, I enjoy chatting with people; it's getting old to have my dog get over looked time and time again. She's got a great body, she's solid of temperament, and she moves effortlessly. Unfortunately she's starting grow less fond of the conformation ring and she lacks some of the showiness that a lot of the other bitches out right now have. Regardless, it is getting old.

Once we got home I took a little break to catch up on some email and then I loaded both of the dogs up for some off leash time in one of our favorite little foresty areas. This was Heffner's first off leash outing since December! It definitely did him a lot of good to get out and just meander around unrestricted. And Bess was very obviously much happier having him along on our jaunt. Previously, when it was just her and I doing these outings, she would wander around, but stayed surprisingly close to me. Unfortunately she also didn't get as much exercise that way. With Heffner along, regardless of where he was, she was all over the place. Running here and there, and always sort of competing with him if heaven forbid, he got ahead of her! It was great to see and I'm happy that we're starting to get back to a more "normal" routine.:o)

And with that lengthy post, I've pretty much summed up my weekend. Next weekend is a "free" weekend and I just don't know what I'll do with myself! he he he I'm actually really hoping to get some light hiking in or possibly something snow related if we could get some actual snow this week! We'll see. Incidentally, I did decide to send in my registration for the skijoring race at the end of the month. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will yet again get cancelled due to lack of snow, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed! If nothing else, there are some matches that I can take the dogs to.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Dogs Are the Best Medicine!

Today was a sick day for me. That doesn't happen all that often, which also explains why I have so much sick time built up. I woke up feeling fine. Great even. This morning was a ball work morning for the dogs and Heffner's first morning back into this part of the routine since early December. I was pretty excited and the morning actually went really well. Both dogs were listening great and very eager to do whatever exercises I asked them to. It was a great training morning. Then around about 7am after everyone had been fed and I was just sitting down in front of the computer to eat my breakfast and do some vegging out before leaving for work, I started having an icky feeling in my stomach. This icky feeling turned into some serious stomach cramping. I figured it would just be a passing thing and be gone in a few minutes. But it stuck around. Finally after a half hour of this I realized there was no way that I was going to make it into work let alone down the stairs to get my truck keys. I tried laying down on the floor in the hopes that it would go away, but no such luck.

During that time, the dogs were in the media room in their post morning activity and breakfast snooze zone. Eventually Heffner meandered into the office as he usually does at least once before I leave for work, just to sort of check on me. At this point I was laying down on the floor. He gave me a thorough sniffing over and I think he may have thought I was playing a game. There was some light pawing, which got him pretty much no response. Finally he resorted to dragging his lips over my face and nearly suffocating me! It's one of his favorite things to do when being blatantly obnoxious doesn't get my attention. Most commonly employed when I'm sitting at the computer and he drags his lips over my mouse hand. Trust me, it gets my attention!

At any rate, his walking around and the fact that he wasn't returning to the media room to lay down must have alerted Bess to the fact that something was going on. When she got in there she also had to give me a thorough going over. Instead of dragging her lips over my face, her trade mark move is to sniff the heck out of my ear canal. I'm pretty sure that she sucked any possible ear wax that may have been residing in there, right out! And holy loud sniffing Batman!!

I pretty much ignored the dogs until they settled down. Of their own volition they finally settled into the positions that you see in the picture. This is right about the time that Adam came into the office to do the final part of his morning routine and where he found me. Naturally, I had our camera sitting on my desk and he used the opportunity to snap a picture. I do have to admit that even though I felt like crap at that point, it is an adorable picture!:)

I'm feeling a fair bit better now, just a wee bit "off." But definitely well enough to do some toe nail painting and do some picture taking of the dogs for Valentine's Day!!:) Bess has a dog show this weekend so there was no way that I was going to paint her toe nails tonight only to have to take it off tomorrow. But I'm really loving this new pink nail polish color that I picked up! I think I'm going to have to try it out on her next week! Anyhow, here are Heffner's toe nails:
And here are some of the pictures I took tonight!

And the shot that I decided to go ahead and submit for week 6 of 52 Weeks for Dogs is:
After looking back over the pictures, I wish that I had used the close up mode so that his toes were the most in focus. I think that would have been a neat shot. Over all, I just wanted a fun shot for the upcoming holiday.:)

And in the end, my dogs always manage to make me feel better! Even when they're laying all over me, it is comforting to have them there.:)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

YouTube of the Month

I decided to go with something light and funny for my YouTube pick for this month. We all know that our dogs have their funny little quirks. Some of which include get excited and getting the zoomies over different objects. This particular great dane seems to enjoy the towel monster!LOL

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Kasha the Dainty Dane!! I know I'm a total sucker for pictures, but I just love all the snapshots that her mom takes of her! The dog pile picture with all the dog bones laid out on Kasha is quite impressive. And I'm especially fond of the series of photos with Kasha wearing different hats. So head on over and say hi!

As a side note, the dogs were quite bad while we were at work today. They tag teamed a brand new bottle of fish oil capsules. Heffner managed to chew off the top of the bottle because he's quite fond of finding ways to open things that have been shut to him. Inside what was left of the bottle were about 30-40 capsules. Our of an original 250. And since Heffner isn't fond of eating the fish oil capsules unless they're in something, that would leave the eating of the capsules to Bess, who does enjoy eating them plain. ARG!!! While the capsules themselves are not harmful to her, the calories that they contain are not good considering that I've been slowly taking some weight off of her. That's some where around 2,500 calories in one sitting. NOT okay!

I also wanted to answer a few questions about the tooth cleaning stuff and my dogs' teeth. I do have both dogs on a raw diet and they've been on it each for roughly two years. Raw meaty bones are part of their weekly routine. This is all part of the reason as to why I'm kind of confused as to how they still manage to have tartar build up on their teeth. I do use cooked treats for training, but not such a large volume that it should be making an impact on their teeth. I generally do training before they eat meals, so I would think that at least some of that eating process should help to get rid of any temporary tartar from the training treats. I don't know. I'm just befuddled!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Toofers Challenge!

We've made it through one week of daily tooth brushing! Hows everyone doing?? I didn't really expect that much of a difference after one week, but maybe there's a glimmering of some plaque loss. Here are Heffner's chompers today:
They pretty much look the same as Week 1's picture. And here are Bess' from today:
Again, they're pretty much the same.

Not much else is going on here. As of this Wednesday Heffner will get to slowly go back to normal exercise!!! It's really going to be nice to burn off a little more of his energy. He was pretty good for a while once we moved him up to two walks a day. Lately, though, he's just been all sorts of pent up. I'm sure the really nice weather that we've been having hasn't helped any either.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

I know that it's only Sunday morning and kind of "early" to be wrapping up the weekend, but that's just how I roll.;o) Mostly I'm not sure of how much time I will have this evening to catch up on everything so I'm taking advantage of the time that I have right now!

Yesterday we went out for an awesome day of snowshoeing with some friends! Originally Adam wasn't going to go because he was going to stay home and do some house cleaning and other odds and ends to get ready for Super Bowl Sunday and the people that we have coming over. Kind of a tall task since we seriously suck at maintaining the house in the state of cleanliness that we would like. Other more fun activities have a way of taking precedence over floor cleaning and things of that nature.;) Since the weather was supposed to be fairly nice and David and Brei have plenty of experience taking newbies out for some fun, Adam decided to come along. Sadly, Heffner had to stay behind because he is still not completely off of his restricted exercise and he most certainly hasn't built the muscle mass and stamina back that he would have needed for this trip. I felt absolutely horrible leaving him at home all alone, but it really was for the better. Plus, there were quite a few dogs out and about along the trail and I'm sure that in his pent up state he inevitably would have taken issue with at least one of them. So Adam, Bess, and I set off for Mt. Hood to do some snowshoeing!!

Along the way I was noting the snow levels, or lack thereof, at roughly the elevation that our skijoring race will be happening at at the end of the month. Unfortunately things are really not looking good and I'm not sure if it's even worth while for me to sending in my registration form because I'm almost certain that the race will get cancelled yet again due to lack of snow. We just have had a crummy winter at that elevation level. The temps have been to warm and there has been more rain than snow. We'll see.

Once we pulled into the parking lot, got ourselves suited up and ready to go, I decided that we needed some couple's shots before heading out (that's what happens when you bring along an slightly obsessive picture taker).:) Here's David and Brei:
And Adam, Bess, and I ready to hit the trail!!
Thankfully, at this snow park there was plenty of snow. It was still too crunchy for me to let Bess on it without booties though. Everyone thought it was absolutely hilarious how upset she looked when I first put the booties on. Then she did her funny little walking across the parking lot. Once she hit the snow, she completely forgot that she even had them on!
I also have to mention that these booties from are fabulous!! While it took me a few times to get the fit on Bess' feet just right so that they wouldn't slide down, she didn't lose a single bootie even once! There aren't any holes worn in any of the feet either. This was an almost three hour trek that we did and they just held up fabulously. I do really like that the Velcro that they use is stretchy. It definitely allows for a snugger fit without cutting off circulation. And her hot pink footsies were commented on by most of the people along the trail! One couple even wanted her to stop so that they could get a picture of her with her hot pink booties!LOL Many of the kids who were sledding thought it was cute that not only did Bess have a coat, but she also had mittens on!:o)

Okay, so I'm going off topic a wee bit. That does tend to happen with me! Back to the snowshoeing! The area was just beautiful! After going on this trip I realized that I've never been snowshoeing along a trail that hadn't been all ready beaten down by snowmobiles. Granted I've gone off the beaten trail many times to do little side forays in the snow, but I generally go where snow mobiles have paved the way. This was a new experience and a lot of fun. And I was also quite impressed with the fact that Adam was keeping up with the pace that was set. For someone who doesn't work out at all and who's job is to sit behind a computer all day, he really did great! Here are some shots from along the trail.

There was a whole lot of Bess running amok all over the trail. And especially a lot of her running ahead, only to run screaming back towards momma. I think she particularly enjoyed doing that!!

We took a little break for some snacks and a little rest at almost the half way point. Bess got to have some of the people snacks and I also brought a few dog cookies for her to snack on. She was definitely burning some bucko calories yesterday!!
She voluntarily sat in the snow while I was digging out her cookies. I guess it's just one of those automatic responses that in order to get a treat she should sit. Even though I'm sure her little hiney was quite cold! Naturally, I took advantage of her good behavior to take some pictures.:)

After we got going, we came across an interesting spot where there were snowshoe tracks leading down into a slight ravine and up and over into the wild white yonder. David wanted to go check it out. I thought that Bess was going to follow him for a second, but I think she realized how much work that would be to chase after him in the deep snow and then have to come all the way back to the rest of us!

Once he came back to us, we headed out a little further to The Hill. From further back, it looked deceptively doable by most people. I even thought that Adam would be able to manage it as long as he took frequent breaks and didn't push his pace too much. However, the closer we got, the steeper we realized it was. It was slightly daunting when we got to the base of it. At the time, we didn't know what the elevation gain was. David later looked it up and it's 350 feet up.
The pictures seriously do NOT do it justice! We stood at the base for a bit hemming and hawing about whether or not we should try it and who would try it. The general consensus was that since this was Adam's first time out and we didn't want to push it so much that he didn't want to go back, that he definitely should not do it. However, I really wanted to at least attempt it. If I only made it half way up, then so be it. David wanted to go for it as well. And apparently, Bess was totally game for the climb!

I have to take a moment here and really brag about my dog. That girl has got so much heart!! Without hesitation, as David and I started hoofing it up that hill, she was bounding ahead. She REALLY wanted to go wherever I was going and gave it her all! This was also not an easy climb by any means. Let along for a dog who didn't have the advantage of having snow shoes with teeth on. When we were about 2/3 of the way up, the footing was just too tricky and the incline just to steep for her to be able to maintain her footing. I called down to Adam to call her down to him and hang onto her. Thankfully she went back to daddy and hung out there waiting for us to return. I think she realized that the route we were going just wasn't meant for dogs.:(

I left the camera with Adam to capture our ascent.:) He we are on the "easy" part of the climb.

This is about the point that I sent Bess back down.
At that point, the looser snow that I was using my toe picks to really dig into and get a good foothold, was getting shallower and the footing just wasn't as great over all. It was also so steep that essentially I was leaning into the hill so much that my face was only a foot or two away from the snow in front of me. Yes, that's steep. Cramp-ons would have been more appropriate than snowshoes at that point. The route that we picked was purposefully a more direct route to the top. We didn't pick it because it was easiest and the most dog appropriate route. If I went back there again, I think I could pick a route that would have worked better for Bess, but it would have been a fair bit longer.

Adam and Brei waited at the bottom for us. Unfortunately when we hit the summit, they were too close to the base of the climb to be able to see clear up to where we were at and I don't have any pictures of our triumphant moment. I gotta tell you though, that was a seriously huge sense of accomplishment when we got all the way up there! And what a view!! I caught myself almost wishing that I had kept the camera with me so that I could snap some pictures from up there. It was a total rush!

We took a little break while we were up there to revel in the moment and to plot out our trek down. Going down seems easy enough, but if you don't want to tumble head first the whole way down, you need to pick an appropriate route. Going down the exact way we came up was NOT an option. That was far to steep to chance it. And my snowshoes were longer than David's so I would have bitten it for sure! We skirted the ridge and went to the far left as you're facing the hill. The slope was gentler and we had already watched another couple come down that way and it seemed pretty safe. Going down was initially a LOT harder than going up. You essentially have to side step going down. And that can get tricky. David was leading on the way down and he found out that the descent was steep enough and the trail "groomed" enough that we could actually slide down on our butts for most of the way! OMG, it was soooooooooooo much fun!! Imagine all the fun you had as a kid tubing or sledding down a hill and then imagine that type of fun as an adult, sliding down a huge hill on your butt with reckless abandon!:) Yes, it was great! And thankfully it wasn't a rough ride down either. No sore buttocks here!

Bess was very happy to see me safe and sound and back on the ground! Apparently she had been a little worried about me while staying with Adam and was wimpering a bit. On the treck back, she wasn't quite as prone to bounding through the deeper snow. I think we had actually managed to take the edge off of her energy level!LOL

Random people along the trail who wanted to love on Bess!:)

After we got de-layered, we decided to head down to the Zig Zag (yes, that is in fact a town!) Inn for some late lunch. They have such yummy delicious food!! We probably ate more than we necessarily had room for, but it was all so good! I highly recommend stopping there if you get the chance and are going up to Mt. Hood.

After we got back, we had lots of house cleaning and other things to do to get the house ready for the people that we're having over today to watch the Super Bowl. That took up a larger chunk of time than I had originally expected. I had grand plans for a little photo shoot with Heffner, but I think I'll just save those plans for next week. Yesterday he was just looking so adorably forlorn at being left behind for such a large chunk of the day that I couldn't help but snap pictures of him! Here's the picture that I submitted for week 5 of the 52 Weeks for Dogs challenge (and yes, I did realize that there was a challenge, I just didn't end up going with it).
And last but not least, we got an award from Darwin!!
The rules of the Sweet Friends Award:
1. Copy the image and paste it to your blog.
2. List 10 things that make you happy, do one of them today.
3. Select 10 bloggers who brighten your day.

10 things that make me happy:
1) Hiking, with the dogs!
2) Skijoring
3) Snowshoeing with friends and the dogs!
4) Swimming
5) Training with the dogs
6) Dressing the dogs up in ridiculous costumes
7) Reading, especially the awesome blogs that I get to read!
8) Exercise!!
9) Talking about my dogs ;)
10) Pretty much anything to do with my dogs.:)

10 blogs that brighten our day (this was hard because there are many that I enjoy reading for various reasons!). Here they are in no particular order:
1) Assistance Dog for Autism
2) Blogging Dante
3) Chihuahuas Are Not Sheep
4) Danes Can Q
5) Dig-it, Fetch-it, Herd-it
6) Exercise Finished
7) Fun With Falkor
8) Jackson's Quest
9) Life With Dogs
10) Many Muddy Paws
11) Romping and Rolling in the Rockies
12) The Adventures of Two Urban Border Collies
13) The Life Story of Miss Layla
14) Two Pitties in the City
15) Wild Dingo

I realize that I went over 10, but I couldn't help it!!