Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Agility - The Chaos Theory! This is the blog of an agility handler and judge who lives and competes with her dogs in South Africa. It's an interesting look into what agility is like in a totally different country. Some things are similar and some are interestingly different. It was her post from Saturday that I enjoyed in particular and got many wheels turning in my head. In obedience you are taught to proof for all manner of things. You want to make sure that your dog fully understands the exercises and can perform them under pressure. I don't really feel like there's the same proofing mind set in agility. Yes we work on our chosen contact positions and we also tend to work on weave pole entries from a variety of angles, but how many people actually think to proof the individual jumps? I know that I surely didn't think to do that. Heffner is pretty good at making up for my short comings as a handler, though in higher stress environments he's more likely to knock a bar when he may not have in practice. Bess is incredibly sensitive to my body positions and it's very easy to botch a cross or pull her off a jump. Now if I actually spent some time proofing the individual jumps as suggested, maybe I wouldn't see so much of that! That is going to be my task for the summer. I am going to have fun with the dogs in my own back yard and proof those jumps. This could be highly entertaining!!;0)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pine Grove Trip

Yesterday the dogs and I headed over to my parents' property in Pine Grove. It was the perfect day for it too! It was overcast, rainy off and on, and generally not so great west of Mt. Hood, but east of Mt. Hood it was actually pretty nice once you got over the wind factor. I have a general rule of thumb that whenever I'm driving some where, I prefer to be at my location for at least the amount of total time I will spend driving there and back. Since the drive is two hours each way, that means that our Pine Grove trips are day trips.

After two hours in the truck, the dogs literally burst out of the truck bed when I pulled down the tail gate. They were wild hounds on the loose and happy to be able to stretch their legs and just run wherever they pleased. We headed over to the little cabin that my dad is building and the dogs were very excited to see their grandpa, until Bess found the skull that my dad has lying around there for some reason. It has become her most treasured thing to chew on. And chew she did!

After some chewing and romping around the camp site we headed off on a hike for a few hours. There are generally two primary routes that we follow when heading out on a hike. One route doesn't have very many watering holes along the way and the other does. I didn't really feel like packing around the backpack with all the water that I had brought, so we headed off on "watering hole" route. For a while, the skies were clear and it was actually starting to warm up quite a bit. The wind was a bit annoying, but it was more of a breeze as we descended into some of the near by canyons.

Occasionally there was some bush whacking involved.
And I took advantage of the fields to practice Bess' sit stays.
He he he.....just kidding! I get some sort of twisted enjoyment out of capturing my dogs peeing! No idea why, just do.:0)

After a while the clouds very gradually crept in and the wind kicked up more. After a few hours of hiking around, we headed back to camp to try and relax a little.
As more ominous clouds rolled in and the wind kicked up to a ridiculous level, we decided to head down to the general base of the hill so that we'd be buffered from the wind and we could do a little hiking around the rock quarries that I've never explored before with the dogs.

After a few hours of hiking the dogs had thankfully mellowed and seemed pretty happy to relax in the back of the truck. Until we got to the rock quarry. Apparently forced confinement when there is the promise of further exploration is enough to rejuvenate them. Once I put the tail gate down again they sprang out like we had just gotten there. We only hiked around that area for about another hour before calling it a day and heading home.

It was a pretty good way to spend a Sunday! The dogs were pretty contentedly exercised and so was I.

I hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day holiday!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Agility Match!

Today Bess and I headed out to Memorial Park in Wilsonville for an agility match hosted by the JAG agility group. I have been putting in a lot of time and retraining with Bess and at least at the practice barn, my efforts seemed to be really paying off. I was getting great focus from Bess and we haven't had any zoomies in the barn in several weeks. I had already planned to enter her in the CAT match next weekend, but Kennedy mentioned to me (she's part of the JAG group) the match today to me and I figured why not!

I was slightly apprehensive in that the match was outside, but I really felt that Bess could handle it. Thankfully I was right!:0) I had planned to enter her in Beginners Standard and Jumpers (UKI courses), but the day was starting to get so nice and our runs had already gone so well that I decided not to stick around and we headed home after watching Kennedy run Vegas and Leo.

We did two runs of the above Standard course. The first run, I rewarded her for her start line stay and then began the course running with her. Which meant that I had to haul butt to the end of the tunnel, and only really processed that as she was starting to enter the tunnel. She did her jumps well, took a rear cross on the dog walk well, as well as a rear cross on the teeter. And ran the course without a hint of the zoomies and payed attention like I had hoped that she would. I reinforced her contacts a little bit, but not as much as I had planned, and I rectified that on our second run.

For our second run I lead out and she handled that perfectly! I also got my butt in gear to race her to the end of the tunnel. I didn't rear cross any of the contact this time, instead reinforcing her stays in the yellow. They went excellently! She did pop out of the weaves early, but that was totally my fault. I started to verbally reward her for doing them early and pulled her attention off the weaves. She's still pretty touchy on the weaves and in practice I make a conscious effort not to verbally reward until she has correctly completed the weaves.

All-in-all, a great way to spend the morning! I came home and got the lawn mowed and gave the dogs some raw meaty bones to mow down on, which made them thoroughly happy. Otherwise I've just been bumming around the house getting little things done. Tomorrow morning I head out with the dogs to my parents' property in Pine Grove to do some hiking and hanging out with my dad. I am REALLY looking forward to that! I am resigned to the fact that somewhere on our hike we are bound to come across those darn wild horses, but at least with my dad camping out there tonight, we won't be pulling into the camp site with a whole freaking herd waiting for us!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous holiday weekend!

P.S. Blogger has been really weird for the past few days and it has made it impossible for me to comment on most blogs. It's been annoying the crap out of me! I'm slightly reassured that it's not just me after reading about a few others having the same exact problem. Hopefully that will be fixed soon!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Books of the Month

I'm home sick today, so I took advantage of the brief periods of time that being upright didn't make me nauseous to post.;0) I've been a big slacker on my monthly topic goals for the blog, and now that's it's practically the end of the month, I thought it prudent to try to work on them a little bit.

The first dog related book that I chose for Book of the Month for May is an older copy of "The Tellington TTouch" by Linda Tellington-Jones. There has since been a newer version released, but I didn't realize that at the time that I bought it. I think we've all heard bits and pieces about TTouch, but full understanding of what it is is spotty. My friend Shana is a TTouch practitioner and a few years ago when she was getting her certification (I believe), she put a message out about needing to work on a few different animals to gain experience. Naturally I piped up and volunteered Heffner, since some of the noted benefits are that it can help to calm stressed animals. At the time, Shana explained to me what she was doing and the benefits, but I didn't really get it or what it was trying to accomplish. It wasn't until I read the book that I finally really GOT what she was saying and what she was trying to accomplish.

The author explains the very beginnings of the TTouch method and how it evolved. She worked very closely with horses and so the first animal recipients of her methods were of the equine variety. Later through the years she had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of animals that literally stretched across the breadth of animals that you can find in a zoo. Right down to a snake!

The story of how her life got her to a point where she developed this method is really interesting to read. Along with the anecdotal stories of the various animals that she's worked on (which I LOVED), how she initiated contact with them, and which TTouches were appropriate for each animal and their situation. It all comes together to make for a very compelling book! Compelling enough that I actually contacted my friend Shana after reading it, to see about having her come out and go over the movements and body wraps with me (I believe that the body wraps are in the newer version of this book) now that I actually get what she was doing.

The Tellington TTouch is a way of connecting with the animals on a cellular level to help relieve the many symptoms that come about from stress. Whether it be behavioral problems or physical manifestations of too much stress, there's something in there that I believe can help everyone in some way. It's not a method that will necessarily garner you immediate results necessarily, but it's something that you can work at over time to help your dog deal with stressful situations a little better. With less stress comes better overall health. And who doesn't want their dog to be happy and healthy?!;0)

The last section of the book is a break down of the techniques. Everything from the amount of pressure you should use to the size of the circle. Included are the various TTouches with illustrations.

It's a great book and did a great job of getting me excited and interested in the topic! Plus, it was just fun to read.:) You can pick the used version of this older copy up relatively cheap. Finding used copies of books is becoming one of my favorite things to do!
My second Book of the Month for May is "The Danes of Send Manor" by Robert Heal. While not exactly a breed history book, it's a book about the history of one kennel. It's also interesting to note that the author is a breeder, exhibitor, and judge of great danes.:)

The story revolves around Gordon Stewart, the founder of the Send kennel great danes. The events take place in England in the early 1900's. This is back in the day when large kennels of hundreds of dogs were not horribly uncommon. Something that you would be hard pressed to find today.

Gordon Stewart was an interesting man. He wanted to have and breed the finest great danes. His staff of kennel maids who saw to the needs of the dogs all day long, was sizable. The accommodations in which he housed his entire kennel were also sizable, as you can imagine for a peak number of 500 great danes living in one area. The means by which he went through to garner fame for his kennel was also interesting.

Stewart had many famous friends. Those who were part of the royal family as well as those who were famous actors and actresses. It was not uncommon for him to invite these people out to his estate to demonstrate the feats of his dogs. While the dogs were expected to understand basic obedience skills, they were also taught a variety of tricks. Such as jumping over the backs of many of their room mates.

Stewart was active in showing his danes and obviously had the kennel help for such a feat. Thwarting his dreams of having the top winning great danes was Bill Siggers of Ouborough Kennel. For the longest time it seemed that Stewart was always one step behind Siggers' kennel. His dogs were winning quite as much Siggers' were. When Stewart went abroad to try and buy up the finest great danes that he could find to add to his breeding program, he was beat to it many times by Ouborough Kennels. After what seemed liked much angst at always being one step behind, he took his danes in a different direction.

Instead of competing in conformation quite so much, he focused more on the training of his dogs. Dogs of his breeding were included in various movies and garnered much fame through their "acting" abilities. This was a venue where Stewart and his kennel shined!

As the war drew nearer, Stewart's focus switched from the dogs to aiding the war efforts. The kennel numbers dwindled until he lost interest all together and his dogs were given to whomever could take them. The Send Kennels finally winked out of existence.

The book is a fascinating story about the daily kennel life of these famous dogs as well as the eccentricities of the Gordon Stewart. I found it very enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the breed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Sit Up And Beg"

I really should have blogged yesterday as soon as I got home. Because I waited, today's post is going to be a bit of a conglomeration of things. I'll start with my intended post for today and then work through the rest.

My little trick video that I'm going to post for today is the sit up and beg trick. I've actually worked with Bess on this trick a long time ago and she just sort of caught right on to it. I don't even really remember how I got her doing it. I think I just lured her up and it happened to be one of those behaviors that she gets much enjoyment out of, so it stuck. At the same time that I was originally teaching Bess this trick I was also trying to teach Heffner it. That was a big fat no-go. So for this video I was working more on duration with Bess. For Heffner, I was just trying to see if maybe with more body control he would start to get it and not do as much hopping. With more work I think that I could have gotten more duration out of Bess and with a LOT more work, I think Heffner would have eventually gotten it. As it stands, you can see a decent amount of duration from Bess and you can see that Heffner is starting to understand what I wanted, but he still wasn't entirely into doing it. I have a feeling that this may be due in some part to the conformation of his rear. He's rather straight in the rear and I think this effects his ability to balance his much heavier upper body on his back legs. Without further ado, here's the video:

Yesterday was another fun filled day! Kennedy and I headed down to Corvallis to watch a canine freestyle competition. Kennedy had heard about it and posted it to our drill team to see if anyone was interested. Naturally, I was.:0) We went down to get some possible ideas for the rest of our routine and also to check out the other novice level teams. We wanted to get a good idea of just how precise we were expected to be, what the competition environment was going to be like, and just get an overall feel for how things went. I failed to take any pictures. Sorry!!

Since we were going to be in the "neighborhood," I had asked Angie of Double D great danes if it would be okay for Kennedy and I to pop by and play with her puppies that she has on the ground right now. She was game, so Kennedy and I got some fawn puppy lovin'! Yes, I do realize that I am a very lucky person!:0)

Afterwards we headed on home. I got home and just sort of vegged out for a while. In the evening I hopped on Facebook (because I'm a bit of Facebook ho!) and read some pretty awful news. My friend Shana's dane Mars, had suddenly died at their home from what appears to be heart problems. His sudden and unexpected death just sort of hit me. He wasn't my dog, but back in the day when Heffner could play nicely with others, Mars and Heffner had been together on a few outings. And being friends with Shana, I got to hear about Mars even after I stopped taking Heffner out on group outings. So her posting on Facebook that Mars had passed was a shocker and just brought up all those awful thoughts of what would I do without my dogs. I laid down on the floor and spent some time snuggling both of them. They just thought it was great that I was down at their level and easy pickins', but being able to hug on both of them was very comforting.

Which brings me up through tonight. Tonight we have drill team practice, which I actually need to leave for right now! I hope everyone's Monday was bearable and give your dogs an extra hug!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

No End of The World!

Well, I'm happy to say that the world hasn't come to an end. Or maybe, depending on your point of view of today's supposed events, it's proof positive of the overly warm place that I'll end up.;0) Either way, I do have to admit that it felt like I went to heaven for a few hours today!

I drove a little ways up north into Washington to go play with some great dane puppies!! Oh my goodness! The cuteness! The puppy breath! The ridiculous adorableness!! The breeder is Stacie Knudtsen of Knudtsen Great Danes and she was nice enough to let me into her home to play with Gabbie's precious babies.:0) I really have nothing but nice things to say about the litter and Stacie's dogs in general. I've already gushed plenty to Adam about it and it would really get quite ridiculous if carried on in that vein for too long in this post, so I'll keep it relatively brief (and here's where those of you who have been reading my blog for a little while roll your eyes at my version of "brief" ;0) ).

I started my visit by getting to crawl into the whelping box with them. They were just waking up from a nap and were a little groggy. After waking up they were more than happy to use me as a jungle gym. Lots of delicious puppy breath, lots of adorable puppy noises while they wrestled with each other, and lots of puppy cuteness. There was one girl in particular who had the most amazing eye contact. It was almost mesmerizing. It wasn't accidental and it wasn't challenging, it just was. There are adult dogs who can't hold a gaze the way that she did.

There was one girl in particular who stood out to me. She had basically every characteristic that I am looking for in our next conformation/performance puppy. Bold, energetic, and that something extra that really gets you. If she weren't already spoken for, I honestly would have told Stacie to put me down for that girl!

I should probably stop here before I go on about each individual puppy! In a nut shell, it's a fabulous litter that is going to make for some very happy puppy people!

After playing with the puppies I got to love on Gabbie and Gibbs, Gabbie's son from a previous breeding. They both have such great temperaments! Gibbs was obviously put off by the fact that they puppies were getting so much attention and used the opportunity to give me kisses and much snuggling while I was crouched down. He was such a cutie. And Gabbie was such a doll letting a stranger to her home come in and play with her babies. Very good proof of the wonderful temperaments that these puppies will grow up having.

All right, puppy gushing aside, I had a little bit of fun with Bess at the vet's office yesterday. We had a set of events that I think was actually set into motion by some ground beef that didn't sit well with either dog, that lead me to believe that Bess had pyometra. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac when it comes to my dogs, so it's no real surprise when I jump to the worse case scenario. It's totally understandable though when you have an intact bitch with greenish puss coming out of her vulva (and here is where I note that I thoroughly washed my hands AND changed into freshly washed and dried clothes that had never touched either of my dogs, once I got to Stacie's so as not to give anything to the puppies). It wasn't a lot, but when there's puss coming out of that region, the first thing that springs to mind is pyometra. It's a very serious problem and I know of one bitch who actually died from it.

I took Bess into the after hours vet once I got home from work. Adam had gotten home early that day and Bess had apparently had explosive diarrhea in her crate. And when I say explosive, that's exactly what I mean. It was all over the walls near the crate and everything around it. Gross. Earlier that morning I had seen one droplet of greenish puss coming out of her vulva, but Bess was otherwise completely acting like normal. I figured that I would just see how she was doing once I got home from work. After the diarrhea bit, I figured that this most definitely deserved a trip to the vet.

The vet swabbed her hoo-ha to see what she could find. There wasn't anything there to overly alarm her and send her to the assumption that Bess had pyo. If Bess had been acting off, not wanting to eat, running a temperature, or basically acting like she was uncomfortable, we would have done x-rays. The vet felt that it was most likely a vaginal infection brought on by her being at the end of her heat cycle. We decided to put her antibiotics and see if that cleared it up. If she seemed to be doing worse in the next 24 hours, then I would bring her in and she'd get an x-ray. If it was pyometra, emergency spay would have been my choice of action. It's not worth it to me to potentially endanger the life of my dog, in order to maintain the possibility of breeding her.

I'm happy to say that everything seems a-okay with Bessy. She's still her normal self and seems none the worse for wear. Heffner, unfortunately, is having some diarrhea issues that I believe are a result of the same ground beef that Bess had some of. It's been a bit of a crap fest in this house the past 24 hours!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Urban Canines!! This blog is home to Kelsa the lab and Riva the natural eared doberman! Both dogs compete/have competed in performance sports, with Riva most recently getting her Rally Novice title!! And naturally, one of my prerequisites, there are pictures a plenty. The author just happens to be away from home for work related reasons, but was able to bring Riva with her. Which means that there are a pretty variety of pictures!

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Start Line Set Up" Trick

If you've been to an agility trial, the chances are good that you've seen at least one handler set up their dog at the start by having them pop from between their legs. Looks pretty cute, right? It also can be effective at getting the dog's attention focused. It can help to get them into the mind set of listening to what you say before you even start the course. And it just looks neat. I've thought it was cute, but never really though about trying it with my dogs. Then the trick was up as the Smooth Sailing Agility blog trick of the week. Not one to completely shy away from a challenge, I decided to go for it.

Before I post the video, I will add a few caveats. This is a trick that I will NOT be doing at an agility trial or practice. Due to the size of my dogs, it's not terribly comfortable for me and it's not entirely practical for them. With that in mind, I basically just took Heffner through to the point where he was pretty easily going through my legs with luring. I tried using the clicker, but I need more hands and coordination. It was pretty ugly when I tried to use the clicker. Pretty sure that neither dog could figure out what the heck I was doing!

Bess started off actually being a bit weirded out by my request to go through my legs and it took a few sessions before should would fairly willingly do it. Since she's a few inches shorter than Heffner, I did have her start sitting towards the end.

The trick is by no means polished, but it was entertaining to attempt. I left in a few of the moments where it was obvious that I was having more difficulty with this than the dogs were.;0)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Drill Team Practice

While I haven't talked about it much lately, our drill team practices have continued. We hit a bit of a wall a little while back and we ended up having a sit down meeting to go over several things to figure out why things were feeling so disjointed and what would get us back on track and making forward progress. I felt really good after that meeting and I think that what we discussed has served to help keep our group moving forward and making progress.

We found that while it would be ideal to meet on a weekly basis, it was really difficult to have all four members available every single week on Saturday evenings (Andrea and Brody were no longer able to continue on with the drill team due to scheduling conflicts). So we figured out a rotating practice schedule that so far is working out well. We also discussed a way in which to work through the routine that would most benefit us as a group. Additionally, we talked about how to start figuring out the last half of our routine. As of right now, it's not written and we're not entirely sure what we're going to do. By combining input from everyone in the group, we at least have an idea now of how to tackle this problem.

The past two practices have been really productive! Last night, the work that we did at the previous practice really paid off! We walked through the first half of the routine without the dogs and it went well. Then we went through the same chunk of the routine a few times with the dogs and I am really happy to say that it went the best it has ever gone!:)

The dogs were put up again and we started walking through the next portion of the routine, which is admittedly trickier than the first half. It's going to look so neat when we get it all worked out! We ended up not walking through that portion of the routine with the dogs because we realized that there were still some things that we needed to work through and figure out before throwing the dogs into the mix. This section involves all four handlers being at the corners of a square and doing a crossing pattern in the middle so that we end up on opposite corners. As you can imagine, this involves good timing as well as exact foot work and everyone knowing where they need to be and when, in order for it to go off smoothly.

We're also working on a couple of movements that we may add into the unwritten portion of the routine. There are a lot of cool things that we could do, but we need to make sure that what we put in is appropriate for the level that we will start competing at as well as making sure that everyone in the group can execute them with their dogs. It's trickier than it seems! We've come up with a lot of great ideas, but a fair amount of it is stuff that we will have to wait until we get past the novice level to include.

My weekend has otherwise been deliciously lazy. I've done some cleaning, which has been nice. I can actually see the top of my desk now! Bess is slowly getting her brains back. The dogs still have to be separated for about the first half of the day because Bess is still such a hussy, but they are usually settled enough after the morning that it's not quite so bad. While they're separated I have been reminded of why Heffner doesn't do so well as an only child (Bess has been baby gated into the craft room so that she at least has some room to roam and sprawl out). The boy is obnoxious! Without Bess to entertain him, I have become the focus of his attentions. And he's had more zoomies than normal. And he's been pouncing on everything like some sort of giant cat! It's entertaining until it gets turned on me.LOL

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Know what's fun about having a bitch in season? You get to go to the store and buy feminine hygiene products that aren't even for you!

Know what's not a good idea? Leaving said brand new containers of feminine hygiene products in a location that is accessible to a bored/nosy great dane boy dog.

I came home today to pads strewn across the living room floor. I had been stupid enough to leave them in a location that was convenient for me to use for Bess. Heffner has corrected my mistake and shown me the errors of underestimating his level of boredness. I wish that I could say this was the first time that I have made such a mistake. And I also wish that I had taken a picture of him in all his glory before cleaning the mess up!

Never underestimate the bored powers of the Heffner!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

I know what you're thinking, could it be a third post in a row??? Guess it's just one of those freaky weeks where it worked out! Oh yeah, and I've sort of been skipping out on my physical therapy exercises. My excuse is that I will go back to them, but I was getting worn down by spending so much time doing them every single day.

I know what you're thinking now. This chick has been whining a fair bit lately. Maybe more frequent posting isn't such a good idea.;0)

In trying to get back into my old routine, I have a Blog of the Week! My pick is Many Muddy Paws! I love the variety of dogs that she has (just added a fifth and a border collie to boot!) as well as the variety of dog sports that her dogs participate in. And of course we can't forget the fabulous pictures! So head on over and check them out!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Little Cheese With My Whine

Yes, I would like a little cheese with my whine right now. Bess is driving me crazy! According to my Excel file on Bess' heat cycle (I TOLD you I have an obsession with Excel!), her hoochiness is setting in earlier and earlier in her cycle. It's not by huge amounts, but it's creeping in there. Right now it's like I have a split personality dog. The one that I'm used to having around is locked away somewhere. The one that is currently here is a hooker. But don't worry boys, you needn't buy the cow because this one's giving the milk away for FREE! Bleck! Seriously though. If you have the appropriate male accoutrements and a pulse, this bitch isn't picky!

Bess is so hard up for physical contact from Heffner that she is letting him do pretty much anything to her. Normally she plays the part of the annoying little sister, constantly harassing him. He is now exacting his revenge on her and was using her head as a kneading post while they were laying down. He tried shoving her head away with his big feet and she just kept coming back for more. I know that my mind will most likely change in a couple weeks when I start to get the normal Bess back, but this aggravation has me seriously reconsidering getting another female dane.

Bitches! Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Catch Up

As is starting to become a habit, I'm going to be playing a bit of catch up in this post.

1) I have the pictures from the talent show!!

2) Yesterday I stewarded for the very first time at an obedience trial!! And I have to say, I really enjoyed myself! I didn't think that I wasn't going to like it, but I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I learned a lot from watching the exhibitors ("my" judge had Open B, Open A, Graduate Novice, and Versatility) and a lot from the people who I was stewarding with. The other three stewards all have a lot more experience than I do and not only had tips on how to be a better steward (which the judge and the exhibitors all can appreciate), but pointed out the many things that the good handlers were doing as well as nuances with our particular judge. I didn't do too bad until the versatility class where I forgot to give the handlers their leashes at the end without being prompted. D'oh! I also won a short leather leash in the stewards raffle!!

3) As I've mentioned previously, Bess is in season right now, so I had to pull her Novice A entry from the trial today. Heffner was entered in Rally Excellent A.
Unfortunately, it did not go well. The honor portion went fine. Since we were the last Excellent entry, we honored first. The dog running the course while we honored was a papillon. The way the course ended up being laid out, the honor dog was in a down directly next to the #10 station sign, with the dog on the course halting within about a foot of the dog. Oy! That poor little dog was definitely nervous having to perform so close to an animal that was so much bigger than him, even though Heffner was in a down. Heffner held his down, though he did look at the little guy, and I'm sure that didn't help much.

When it was our turn to run the course, I was a little apprehensive. Heffner did NOT want to sit for the set up. He kept staring off at the dogs outside of the ring. Our first station was the off set figure eight. While we haven't practiced that in a while (I will be rectifying that before either dog gets entered in another trial), he understands the basic commands. The bowls contained a stuffed ball. Something that ordinarily isn't all that enticing to Heffner. Except today it really was and I could not get him to leave it for the longest time! I was starting to get really frustrated when he finally came back to me. Only then he meandered off into essentially the middle of the ring and started heading towards the judge to say hello.

I had two choices at this point. Continue on with our run and most likely only get more and more frustrated with him to the point that he would most likely shut down on me and create a totally negative experience for him in the ring. Or I could ask to be excused. I asked to be excused. I'm getting a little too used to doing that with him lately.:0/

I had thought to enter him in a rally trial or two next month, but I think I'm just going to wait until the fall and hopefully find a way to work through these periodic issues that we have. I'm in no hurry with him, so there's no reason to push him.

4) After the trial was over we met up with Kennedy and Vegas for a little walk/hike on some of the trails in Memorial Park. Heffner used to get along just fine with Vegas, even when he started having issues with other dogs. At some point that started to change, though I'm not entirely sure now if it was a reaction aimed directly at Vegas, or if it was more of a blanket response that he was having to all large dogs. Regardless, Kennedy and I have talked about this a bit and it would be REALLY nice if Heffner had another buddy aside from Bess that he was comfortable with and could possibly "hang out" with. Since Kennedy and I share a lot of the same dog centered interests, it would also be really nice if I didn't have to either barricade Heffner or leave him out of things all together. She suggested getting together after the trial today for a little trial run at Memorial park. We'd keep both dogs on leash and just hike around on the trails and keep the experience relaxed and positive. We were thinking that the outing had a high probability of going well because we actually had both dogs in fairly close proximity at the last agility trial, with Heffner even eating a frozen sardine in front of Vegas, without incident.

I am VERY happy to say that it went fabulously! Even getting out of the truck, Heffner didn't so much as grumble at Vegas. They got closer than I've allowed any other dog to get to Heffner without a physical barrier in a very long time. There were no grumbles, no raised hackles, no stiff posturing, no concerned looks from Heffner. It was great! Vegas totally didn't care that he was there at all and just went on her merry way enjoying the outing.:0) Which is part of the reason why we thought this might work out so well. Vegas is very non-plussed by Heffner's presence, which is great because he then doesn't have anything to react to.

It's a start, and a very good one at that!

5) Bess is in season. And she's at the point where her hormones have completely taken over her brain. It. Drives. Me. Nuts. As I started typing this post up I had to continually separate them because she won't leave Heffner alone. He's content to lay down. She is not. I finally got so annoyed that I put the baby gate up with Heffner in here with me and her on the outside. My little girl is the worst kind of hussy right now and it makes me crazy! What's even more unpleasant is that over the next few days it's only going to get worse. We still have a week and a half to go. Heaven help me!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Good Boy!!

Heffner was an UBER good boy today for the talent show!! I have to admit that even I was a little surprised with how good his attention was. It wasn't until I brought him into the auditorium that I realized that we might have a little problem with the many new distractions around him. 1) He was inside an auditorium that he had never been in before. 2) There were going to be numerous people that he had never met, watching him. 3) I had forgotten that the center provides a pretty nice spread of food for those coming to watch. Which meant many delicious aromas coming from just a couple of feet from where we'd be working.

The boy totally rocked it though! While not every single trick went exactly perfectly on the first try, it was comical enough to get laughs from the audience. Sometimes not even in intended parts, such as while I was putting the weave poles in place and Heffner started walking back and forth through them. His attention was excellent though! He didn't go and visit any of the audience people. Which is most impressive since some of the seats were literally two feet from where he was working. Way to go Heff!!

The run down of our tricks was: going through the agility tunnel, weave poles, all four feet on the balance disc (I'll have a video shortly of both dogs doing this for my conditioning blurb), four feet in a box (with me holding up the box that Bess would have used if she hadn't contracted what I "affectionately" call the Bloody Butt Disease), and balancing on the 120 cm ball. Did I mention that I was able to get another 120 cm ball for a super fantastic price?? Well I did, and it was helpful for today.

Much of what I included today was based on feedback that I got from friends as to what they thought was cool that my dogs could do. Since I know what my dogs' strengths and weaknesses are, there are some things that I think are great that they can do that might not be as impressive to others because they don't know the difficulty level for my dogs. And subsequently there are things that I know they are fully capable of and therefore take for granted that others might find pretty neat. So with help from some friends, I figured out a line up that definitely entertained the crowd.

I will hopefully have some pictures and maybe even a snippet of video from our performance that I will be able to post later.:0) In the mean time, I'm very proud of how well Heffner did!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Well, we made it home safe and sound at 1:00am Sunday night. Not too shabby considering I originally thought that we'd get in around 2:00am. I was much better prepared this time around and was able to fight off the tired feeling towards the end there. I ended on a strong note and was quite awake when we got home. The dogs were happy to be home and sleeping on their respective beds, though Bess' involved sleeping in her crate now that she's in season.

I took most of Monday off from work since I knew I was going to be getting in late and would be worn out from the weekend to boot. I did take advantage of the time off and schedule an obedience lesson with our instructor, Jill. I probably should have rescheduled because both dogs were obviously still a bit worn out from the weekend, but we were still able to tweak some things. Namely my foot work, which got off kilter after the weekend.

Monday night we had our drill team practice, though I went without a dog. We have an intact male in the group who is now more than old enough to know exactly what's going on. And since Bess' going into season caught me by surprise, she went the whole weekend without starting on chlorophyll, to help mask her scent to the boys. She probably would have smelled quite lovely to Wally. And using Heffner as a fill in dog was out of the question since he already spent the weekend watching intact male danes parading every where, without the understanding that they were supposed to yield and be subservient to his obvious superiority.;0) It would have been fisticuffs fo' sho'!

Tuesday was spent getting back into the swing of things at work and getting things settled at home. Which now brings us up to today. Not much to say except that we made, we're doing great, and already looking forward to the weekend!LOL

Tomorrow is the talent show, which Heffner will be the sole performing dog. Hopefully he will full fill the entertaining part and pull off all the tricks we have planned. Bess has a natural naughtiness that can prove very entertaining for a crowd, and I was hoping to be able to incorporate that. Oh well!

For anyone interested, there are photos posted from the show at: http://2011gdcncspecialtyshows.shutterfly.com/pictures/120

You can see the adorable harl puppy bitch that I got to take into the conformation match on Friday night in the match section. And there's several pictures of Bess scattered throughout one of the other folders as well.

And now I'm off to do some work with the dogs. They keep going into our training room, and turning around and staring at me. Bess will go in, look at me, and then lay down with a big sigh. They know what it means when I take them in there and they have obviously been a little bored the past few days. Happy Hump Day and Cinco De Mayo Eve!