Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

I didn't get around to doing a weekend wrap up yesterday due to some Oscar watching fun, but there's really not much to say. On Saturday I took the dog's out to our obedience club's training facility for the first time for a match. The place is really quite nice and the dogs did quite well. I didn't warm Heffner up too much and that was obvious by his lack of wanting to actually sit as we were setting up for the various exercises. Bess was pretty adorable with some of the stuff that she does. The one area that I really need to work both dogs on is speed transitions on the figure eights. Heffner generally gets it better than Bess in our lessons, but on Saturday they were both lack luster. I would have liked to stick around a while longer to watch the upper levels, but we had a birthday party to get to and I still wanted to take the dogs for a run. So obedience match, two thumbs up!

Sunday Bess and I were supposed to go up to the mountain for a skijoring race. I had everything packed and ready to go the night before. Got up with my alarm. Then I got into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. Did I really want to drive over an hour and a half each way, sit in my truck for four or five hours waiting our turn, only to go out and spend 20 some odd minutes running the course? Not really. I haven't done that before, but I decided right there that we weren't going up to the mountain. I crawled back into bed and got a few more hours of delicious sleep. After puttering around the house for a while, I loaded both dogs up and we went for a hike. The are that we went to even still had snow! And the best part? The only tracks along the road were ours.:0)
As a side note, Heffner is coming back stronger than ever in his exercise routine! I'm really pleased! On our runs, he's out ahead and keeping tension on the leash going out and coming back. When we're hiking, he self regulates really well, but also stays strong. With the ball work, he almost literally attacks it. You can just tell that he's thrilled to be getting active again. My only word of warning has been to not let him get tired out so that his muscles don't slip back into the muscle memory of improper alignment. That hasn't even been close to an issue. The boy starts strong and ends strong. I'm lovin' it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Check It Out!

A few months ago I was contacted by a photographer (who happens to be the boyfriend of a good friend of mine) about a picture he took of Bess at an agility trial. It turns out that there was a publisher of children's books who was interested in using the picture. There weren't a whole lot of details at the time about the book itself, but I was game! I didn't hear anything after that until today!

The book is a children's book about great danes and Steve was mailed two copies. One for himself and one for me! And here's the picture of Bessy:
Pretty cool! I was really excited to see the picture.:)

Other than that, the past two days have been pretty long ones at work and I'm really looking forward to the weekend. We're going to an obedience match tomorrow and I'll have both dogs with me for that. Then on Sunday Bess and I head up to the mountain for a skijoring race!! For a while I wasn't even sure that the race was actually going to happen because snow conditions have been less than ideal. The past two weeks have definitely made up for that with snow even down to our level yesterday! So the race is on, but I didn't get the quality of training in with Bess that I would have liked. Therefore, I opted to only race on her one of the two days.

I hope that everyone else is gearing up for an enjoyable weekend of whatever the doctor ordered.;0)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

YouTube of the Month

Today I need a little bit of a pick me up. It's been a bit of a rough day at work today. We have one visiting PhD student who is heading back to Copenhagen tomorrow. We are all incredibly sad about this because we've enjoyed having her around so much! And then we have a technician who put in his two weeks notice today as well. He's very well liked in the lab and has been a really hard worker. It's just kind of a bummer of a day. I needed a little bit of a pick me up and this video clip kind of helped in that area.;0) It's a little slow to get started, though the kid in the box is pretty funny!

Does anyone else out there have a dog who willingly crawls into the bath tub??? 'Cause neither one of mine will do that!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Mister Rugby Sevens CDX!! Rugby is an adorable maltese who's primary activity is obedience. He's had some pretty impressive runs, including two high in trials! If you head on over to his blog, you can read about his adventures and also see the videos of his runs. It's pretty cute to see the happy little guy out there doing some precision work. So head on over and check him out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

DVD of the Month

My pick for DVD of the Month for February is Pilates for Pooches! I will start off by saying that I LOVE this DVD! If you are at all interested in furthering the fitness of your dog, having fun with your dog, or just wanting to try something different, this is definitely the DVD for you. I honestly feel that this DVD has something in it for everyone. There are a variety of exercises to choose from, using an array of equipment. It's just plain fun! It's been a while since I last watched this DVD and I'm so glad that I went back over the whole thing. I've been wanting to change up some things in the dogs strengthening workouts and the DVD gave me some fresh ideas to work with. So exciting!

The first segment of the DVD is devoted to conditioning in general. What constitutes exercise, the variety of ways to exercise your dog, as well as general fitness guidelines and how to start an exercise routine. There are some fun every day activities that can help increase the fitness of your dog as well as bolster your overall obedience work. Things like long distance recalls.

The first actual exercises that get introduced are quite basic and involve utilizing only one simple obstacle, the box. The size of the dogs demonstrating the exercises varies from a pomeranian to a golden retriever. There is a wide variety of things that you can do with a simple box that will help to increase your dog's strength and overall sense of balance. Movements such as rotating with all four feet on the box. Simple, but it can be tricky depending on the size of the box. You can also mix things up by changing the height of the box. To add further difficulty, you start using an unstable surface such as a balance disc. All of these exercises and much more are carefully demonstrated and explained throughout.

Once the dog's basic understanding of the exercises and body awareness increases, you increase the difficulty by using two pieces of equipment. Now the dog has to balance the front and the rear feet independently. Add in different movements and your dog gets a full body workout!

After your dog has mastered those exercises you move on to a line of several pieces of equipment. By varying the height and type of the objects, your dog really has to concentrate on what they're doing and really work all those muscles. The possibilities are endless!

The DVD ends with a section on streng training a puppy. There's no reason not to start working with your puppy at a young age. Start getting them used to the equipment and the exercises that will help them now and in the future. While there are special considerations when working with a younger dog, there's no reason to wait until a certain age to get them started.

Also included on the DVD are three PDF files. One is a general conditioning overview and basically sums up the first segment of the DVD. The second file is an exercise log so that you can keep track of your dog's progress with the various exercises. And the final file is an overview of the strengthening exercises themselves.

It's just a great DVD and I think it's worth the money for anyone interested. I bought this DVD from Clean Run, but I'm sure there are other sites that sell it as well. If you end up buying it, I'd love to hear what you think of it and how the exercises work out for you and your pooch! It's just so much fun!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some Pictures

We have had a lovely, laid back weekend! Two weekends in a row of no competitions and I have to say that I'm in a happy place and the dogs are too.:) I don't really have anything to report on. We've gotten some good training in this weekend around the house. Had lots of fun with that. Bess and I did have drill team practice last night and aside from me not seeming to be able to understand simple instructions (repeatedly), it went well.;0) Probably the best part of the weekend was heading out on a little hike with Adam and the dogs this afternoon. It felt so good!! I actually let Heffner off leash because he was behaving himself so well. He remained a very good boy and I didn't have to moderate his activity. Bess was her usual self. The entertaining part was that Adam isn't used to hiking with Bess and therefore isn't used to what's normal for her. Every time she started to go off trail, he'd start to call her back. He'd worry a little bit if she didn't turn around right away. I try to only call her back if I'm worried about where she's going or I know that she'll listen. I don't want to condition her to ignore me when she's called (though I do occasionally catch myself still doing this). She just likes to go and investigate things. And apparently has a great nose for finding things. Alive or dead.....
She darted up a steep embankment to find this "stick." Do you see where this is going? That's no stick in that crazy bitch's mouth, that'd be a deer leg. Apparently a rather young deer judging by the size of it. She seriously has knack for finding dead remnants! She was also quite proud of herself for finding it!
Adam initially tried to grab it from her. Although why he would want to touch that thing, I don't fully understand. Bess happily scampered away, proud that she was able to entice someone into a game of keep away. Heffner was rather bored her find and wasn't cooperating. Adam was perplexed as to how to get her to drop it. I told him that she was just going to have to get tired of carrying it. Which could take a while. She has a history of finding bone segments and carrying them along on hikes for long stretches. Eventually she tires of it, but getting her to willingly drop it before that point can be difficult. I used the opportunity to snap some pictures. While taking the pictures she dropped the leg on the ground in front of me so she could either adjust her grip or start to gnaw at it. And that's when I put my foot down. Literally. Adam held on to her collar and we spoiled her fun by taking her deer leg. I chucked it far down a hill side and we walked back towards the truck while hanging on to her Craziness so that she go leaping after her beloved leg. After a short bit she was released and thankfully didn't go charging after the leg. The rest of our jaunt was uneventful, but lovely.

The only other thing I have to mention is that Heffner's advanced rally picture came yesterday! I don't normally get pictures taken unless they're titling pictures, but since the boy got a freaking first place, I had to get a picture to remember it by.;0) The only thing that spoils it for me is the fact that he's biting his upper lip, otherwise I'm happy with it! My favorite photographer was at Westminster that weekend and she's REALLY good at catching those things before she takes the picture.
I hope everyone has enjoyed their weekend! And any of you who have to work on the holiday tomorrow, high five! 'Cause so do I!:0P

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Web Site of the Month

My pick for Web Site of the Month for February is Dogwise! This is a web site that is solely devoted to dog related books. Books on every possible topic that you could possibly imagine! I could and have spent large chunks of time just perusing through their lists to see what they have and what I "need." It's a great resource for finding books that may otherwise be somewhat difficult to find through other retailers. They also set up a vendor "booth" at a variety of dog shows. So head on over and check them out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Books of the Month

I'm going to do a little something different than what I've been doing with my Book of the Month blog posts from here on out. My interest in great danes is more than just a passing fancy and more than one of just general adoration for the two wonderful animals that I live with. I consider myself a student of the breed, in whatever form the learning may take place. As the cliche goes, to understand where you are and where you're going, you must also understand where you've been. In order for me to fully understand the breed as it is today and where it's going, I must also understand where it came from and learn more about its past. This is something that I find absolutely fascinating! Therefore, in each of my monthly book review posts I will review one general dog related book and one great dane related book. I'm really excited about this and I hope that for those interested, it helps to give you some ideas for books to augment your library.:)

Before getting into the book reviews, Heffner had another chiro. adjustment today. We tried to make it work last week, but the chiropractor's schedule and mine just weren't syncing up. She was really pleased with how he's holding the adjustments and was also really pleased with where she got him to today. There were a few points that she's been slowly picking at to get them where she wants them and she made a lot of progress today! He still isn't allowed to go frolicking off leash as of yet, but his exercise will be getting bumped up and I can start getting that boy back into the kind of shape that I prefer him to be in! He's on the usual 24 hours of no activity and then we'll work our way back into an exercise routine! Now on to the books!
My pick for general interest Book of the Month for February is "Canine Terminology" by Harold R. Spira. This book is pretty much exactly what the title says it is. It reads like an dictionary of dog terminology. While you could most definitely read it cover to cover (which I did and came across a few words that I've never heard before), I believe it's intended use was as a reference text. There are a plethora of pictures and illustrations on each page to best illustrate some of the words. So much of the terminology used in the dog world is best defined when you have an example right in front of you. This book is great for anyone who sometimes feels a little in over their heads with the words that get tossed around at various dog events.
My pick for great dane Book of the Month for February is "This is the Great Dane" by Ernest H. Hart. I am a lot more appreciative of breed books that go beyond the very basics of what it is to own a dog. There are many out there that are so lightly sprinkled with specifics about the breed that they are almost useless for those wanting to really understand what it would be like to own a dog of a particular breed. This book thankfully goes beyond the basics of dog ownership and really delves into what it's like to own a great dane. Every aspect is covered from the general history of the breed, to purchasing a puppy, to raising the puppy, to a general description of the coat color genetics.

The book is copyrighted 1967, which makes it interesting to read just to see how things have or have not changed since then. It's also interesting to see what concepts were "common knowledge" at the time, but may have now fell out of favor due to advances in technology that are combined with ongoing research. Mostly I enjoyed reading how most people kept and raised their danes compared to what is viewed now as the ideal way to raise and care for a great dane.

There is one aspect of dane history that was lacking in this book, and that was the temperament of the original danes. There is discussion on what the temperament of today's dane should be, but no mention of where they've come from. I actually found this rather disappointing because it's something that I feel is very important to understand for someone who is looking to get into the breed. The early great dane (late 1800's and even early 1900's) had an AWFUL temperament. They were not the gentle giant that they are so often now touted to be. Their temperament was one of a ferocious hunter who was fully capable of also being an aggressive guard dog. It's what they were bred for, and the temperament was part of the package. Conscientious breeders did a lot for the breed to mellow that out, but it is an important part of the breed's history.

Overall I enjoyed reading this book and seeing the many pictures of danes past while hearing about the famous kennels that they came from. If the great dane is a breed that you have even a passing interest in, I would certainly recommend that you look into reading this book!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is none other than the Relentlessly Huge himself, Mango's Great Adventures! This blog is about Mango, a mastiff, and his brother Dexter, a labrador. Mango is quite well known already on the doggy blogosphere, but especially this time of year. You see, he hosts his own version of Westminster leading up to the big event, called Mango Minster. You should head on over to both, check them out, and say hi!

And I would be remiss not to mention anything further about the dog show of dog shows that's going on right now! Today saw my favorite group entering into their respective breed rings, the working group! And naturally I was eagerly anticipating the uploading onto the Westminster web site of the dane breed ring.:) In case your wondering how it went, here it is:

For more breed and group results, go to the Westminster Kennel Club web site.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dog Show Day Again!

Bess and I headed back to Albany this morning for the final day of the four day cluster. I had her entered in rally and conformation. Because I'm actually pretty tired today, I'll be brief (or at least as brief as I'm capable of).;0) Bess qualified in both Excellent and Advanced with scores of 91 and 93 respectively, earning her fourth RAE leg!! For hilarity's sake, I will also mention that I screwed up yet another 270 turn! ARG! Did another 360 only to end up facing the very same sign. Had to redo that station in Excellent, but thankfully didn't screw it up in Advanced!

We literally ran out of the Advanced ring and over to conformation where we ended up having a little bit of time to cool our heels. From there Bess won her class and went on to rake a reserve. Not too shabby. I was really trying to work it in there and show her off on a loose leash. We had Pat Hastings as our judge, who is very well known to be a movement judge. Pretty much the exact type of judge that I need to be showing Bess to. She gave Bess good consideration, but went with another bitch who definitely beat Bess out in the head department.

After that I met up with some of the dane people for an early lunch, and then Bess and I were on our way home.

Next up was an obedience lesson with both dogs. I had been able to reschedule the original lesson for later in the day. Which worked out great because our instructor was also at the show, showing her frenchie puppy in conformation. Heffner was a bit pent up from being ditched two days in a row and had a more difficult time paying attention and even just holding a sit. I think that Bess was a little tired. After two rally runs followed by conformation and preceded by a day on the mountain (which in total had us gone from the house for about twelve hours; like I said, it was a good day!), she's earned the right to be not as on top of her game as I'm used to. I got some more tips on little games to play with the dogs to help work on some of the little things as well as some exercises to work on for the levels beyond novice.

And with that, I'm beat! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fantastic Day!

This morning we headed up to the mountain for a little snowshoeing. I was a little dubious last night since the mountain hadn't received any new snow in the past 72 hours and the temps had been rather warm during that time. The forecast for the day was also a bit glum with rain/snow mixture predicted to start in the afternoon. I was starting to think that it might be a better idea to do a regular hike instead, but we kept to the plan and I'm really glad that we did! We ended up having a really great time up there!
I had a trail in mind that I wanted to hit up and it turned out to be the perfect trail for us! About half way through we hit new, mostly untouched snow that lead into completely virgin snow! And we didn't see another person out on the trail the entire time.:) Our friends Andrea and Mike brought their bullmastiff Brody along and as you can see he and Bess didn't really care for each other.LOL They were totally hilarious! Bess loves to play chase, especially when she's in the lead. And Brody apparently loooooooves to chase after long legged chicks. It was a match made in heaven! They were running back and forth and all over the place the whole time. Brody's favorite mode of attack was to "pounce" on Bess as she would run by.

There were a few near misses and a few not so near misses as the dogs were running back and forth along the trail. When a game of chase is under way, who can be bothered going around the pesky humans??

And what would a snowshoeing outing be without a hill climb?;0) This was actually unintentional. The trail just sort of stopped in some virgin snow and we were wanting to stop and take a little break to drink some water and eat some snacks. Why not burn a few more calories before stopping by climbing the innocuous hill?

Bess found it far more entertaining to come run up the hill so that she could come careening back down at me. He brakes mostly worked. Mostly.

Once the hill had been summitted, dogs and people alike took a break for some snacks.

Now the age old dilemma. What goes up, must come down. How should we go back down the hill? I had flashbacks to the previous snowshoeing trip where my reckless butt slide down the "gentler" side of the hill had left me needing to sit on a pillow at work the next day. I was understandably leery about what would be in store for me if I again chose this route. Thankfully the snow was untouched and sliding down was a total blast!
After a little more exploring we headed back to the cars to go grab some grub at one of the local restaurants. Something that is very fast becoming a tradition! We capped off our wonderful day with great friends, with some great food! You can't get much better than that.:)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dog Show Day!

This morning the dogs and I headed down to Albany, OR for a rally trial and conformation! It was a painfully early morning, with us needing to leave the house by 5:30am to make it down there in time for me to get crates set up, potty the dogs, take care of my ring conflicts, and just generally be where I needed to be. It was a pretty hectic morning that was filled with managing ring conflicts.

I had originally entered both dogs in rally at this trial because lately rally hasn't been starting until the afternoon. Since I'm pretty much guaranteed to have a morning ring time for conformation, I thought it was the perfect fit. I have since discovered that when you are most counting on NOT having ring conflicts, you are guaranteed to have them!

I started the morning off by getting to take a mastiff into the conformation ring. OMG! I have such a new found respect for mastiff owners (that most definitely goes out to the Relentlessly Huge's mama!)! It's one thing to see those guys at the shows, it's a whole different thing to put your hands on them!

After taking care of my dogs, I went ring side to meet Razor, a cute brindle boy with a ginormous head. Bess' breeder had been called in to help handle Razor because his original handler broke her leg. Unfortunately Georgia had a ring conflict with another breed that she was showing at the same time. She asked me if I would help out, and I was excited at the opportunity. It was crazy to work with a breed that is just so overall massive. Everything from moving them to hand stacking them is so different. It was a really neat experience and I am just still amazed at the size of his freaking head!

After Razor's mom took him back, I had to run out to the truck to grab Bess (I hadn't crated the dogs in the rally area just yet because I wanted to limit the amount of time that Heffner had to spend in his crate and I also didn't want to have to leave him in it without me around for very long) and get ready for her Excellent run. The ring stewards for the Rally ring were awesome and so willing to work with my ring conflicts and the fact that I wasn't entirely sure where I was going to have the conflicts. Bess' Advanced run got moved around I think three times. Our judge was also super awesome and told the stewards to move dogs around as needed to help with conflicts. Unfortunately I ended up missing the walk through for Excellent, but the course had such nice flow to it that I knew I wouldn't get lost.
As I mentioned, our first run of the day was Excellent. My only concern with this course was that I had a happier Bess in the ring. She is fully capable of doing all the stations, even in stressing down robot mode, but I wanted at least a little hint of the happy crackhead that I see more frequently outside of the ring (unless you count agility ;0) ). Overall we're starting to see some improvement. I played with her lots outside of the ring, but she still gets serious as we enter the ring to set up and we have to build from there. I sense some crazy excited set up work in our future!;0) Her final score was, I believe, an 89.

After our run, I played with her some more and then put her in her crate and ran to the conformation ring to see where they were at. It's a major in dogs all four days and I was counting on all those dogs entered to help buy us enough time that I could hopefully be done with both dogs' runs just in time for conformation. That did not seem to be the case. When I got over there, the judge was already on breed for the breed ahead of us. Crap! This judge was really cooking along. I asked my friend Marian to text me right before winner's dog went into the ring so that I could gauge where I was in rally. I then ran out to the truck to grab Heffner who would be running first out of the two dogs for Advanced.
Thankfully this was another nicely flowing course, because I again missed my walk through since Heffner was going to be the first dog in the ring. The course maps were posted on a board right outside the ring which did help me immensely. Even though Heffner has been edgier at home since the incident on Wednesday, he was a lot better at the show. He hasn't had any bad experiences at dog shows or trials and seems to be able to differentiate between what's going on at a show versus seeing another dog while out on a walk. He doesn't shut down, it's just kind of like he understands the setting and understands that the other dogs there are also there to work. It makes it somehow easier for him to see all these other dogs and still go on his merry way of doing whatever, versus having these same dogs setting him off the way many of them would if we were out on a walk in our neighborhood.

Back to his run.:) My only concern for this run was that I had a dog who was working with me and not shutting down like he did at the last trial. I didn't do a ton of traditional warm up with him, just mostly focus work and playing our little games that he likes to play. He was happy and working well with me. Right before we went into the ring there were some dogs making a fracas in rather loud and booming voices in the grooming area that had him concerned. I was a little afraid that I was going to lose him to his worries, but he got it together. I was a little frazzled because I had just gotten a message that winner's dog was about to go in the ring. Crap! I took several deep breaths and then we were off. While he was still a little disfocussed at the beginning, he had an otherwise great run! I used certain parts of the course to my advantage to get and keep him happy and with me (things like the fast and the jump). The best thing was looking down into that ridiculously cute face staring back at me, with his little tail tip wagging!:0) There were a couple of times that I wanted to just reach down and hug that happy head. But I refrained, because we were having a good run and I didn't want to ruin it. We crossed the finish line and I threw a little party and told him how wonderful he was. He was happy and indicated to me that he was already aware of his wonderfullness.:) Heffner's score was a freaking 92!! And to make my high even higher, he took first place in his class!! (sadly I missed the giving out of awards because I was waiting ringside with Bess to go in for conformation)

After much telling the big boy how wonderful he is, I put him in his crate and got Bess out so that I could run over to conformation. I waited a bit out of his direct site to make sure that he settled down in his crate and wasn't going to create any problems. He settled down pretty quickly and Bess and I were off. I was a bit frazzled when I got there, but had a few moments to collect myself and get Bess ready. Not that she needed much readying. For a sport where you can take food and toys into the ring, can touch your dog as much as you want, and talk to your dog as much as you want, she didn't need any prep time.;0) I had her entered in American Bred and there were two others in our class. Unfortunately this judge didn't care for her that much, and put us third out of three. I have a feeling that it was more of a head thing than anything else based on the other dogs that I heard she put up. Definitely not an ear thing though. The bitch that won our class and then went on to take Winners Bitch and Best of Winners is a natural eared harl. Something that most people consider a double negative. (mayhaps one of these days I should go into the intricacies of color versus ears in our breed in respect to the conformation ring. It's interesting to me, though not always to people outside the breed)

Though I wanted to stick around to watch everyone show, I had to run back over to the rally ring to see where they were at and get ready for Bess' Advanced run. I ended up having a little time to kill, but soon enough we were up. The goal again was to have a happier Bess in the ring. Her Advanced run was definitely happier than her Excellent run. I think the key with Bess may be using more of the verbal markers in the ring that I use in training. I use a lot of yes' to mark correct behaviors. I realized this week while working on the various tricks, that she still doesn't entirely associate the sound of the click with having done the correct thing and therefore getting the treat. When I pair the click with my verbal yes, she totally gets it and is more willing to volunteer behaviors. I just randomly started doing that more during her run and she seemed to respond pretty well. She was still less than the happy and more precise girl that I get while practicing, but I'm hoping that we're working our way towards our goal. She also got a party when her run was over. I think her score was a 91. Which means that she now has RAE leg #3!!

So overall, even though it was a crazy and hectic morning, I'm incredibly proud of my dogs for a variety of reasons. Regardless of how things go competitively, at the end of the day, these two rock my world!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Thank you everyone for the support you gave after my post yesterday!! It means a lot to us.:) Heffner is still doing fine physically, though his reactivity level has definitely gone back up. We worked on that some more today, and will continue over the weekend.

I just happened to be Googling my name today for a work related reason when I came across something that made me realize I need to post a correction. Last month I posted about Bess' first skijoring race and I mentioned that she more than cut Heffner's previous time in half. After the fact I thought it odd that it would take Heffner 46 minutes to complete a two mile course, even though there were inclines. I kind of didn't think too much more of it. Wellllll, I happened to come across the race results from Heffner's last race and I think I realize where my confusion came in. I raced him both days of the race and I was thinking of his COMBINED time for both days, which was 51 min. He was still a little bit slower than Bess on his runs, but not THAT slow!

Anyhow, in order to save his bruised honor (which he isn't even aware that he had), I had to clear the air that my dog is not a super slow poke.:0) And now I'm off to dremmel nails, shave Bess' face, and bathe both dogs 'cause we gots ourselves a dog show tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I am PISSED right now!!! Pissed off at idiot douche bags who don't do a damn thing with their dogs and let them get out of control and nasty. And pissed that one of my dogs got stuck in an awful situation.

I took Heffner out for one of his walks and we were enjoying a nice evening walking around the soccer/baseball field of a middle school near our house. There were no other dogs or people around and we were enjoying just being out in the really nice weather that we're having. Then these two guys pull up in a pick up truck with a dog. With Heffner, I try to be hyper aware of any dogs in the vicinity to avoid and/or manage any negative reactions he may have. We've worked really hard and he's come a LONG way. They have the dog on leash, so I'm not quite as concerned. Heffner notices the dog and picks his head up more, but is otherwise not posturing or showing other signs of aggravation. Then the dog starts lunging and pulling on the leash. And the douche bag LETS GO OF THE LEASH!!! OMFG!!! WTF???? Who in the hell does that???

The dog comes tearing towards us and I'm waving my arms and screaming as loud as I can that my dog isn't friendly and they need to get their dog. Over and over and over. The two guys say absolutely nothing but start running after their dog. By this time the dog has gotten to us and I'm trying to keep myself in between the other dog and Heffner, but the f*****g dog jumps Heffner and is growling and carrying on. I'm trying to keep Heffner from turning it into a two sided fight (whether you agree or not, trying to disengage two fully locked dogs from a fight is NOT something that I want to engage in), while also trying to kick the damn dog off my dog. The owner finally reaches us and starts pulling on the leash to finally get his dog off Heffner and struggles to get some distance from us.

The douche doesn't say a single word the ENTIRE time this has happened. I realize that it was only a matter of maybe a few minutes, but he did not utter a single word. No yelling at the dog. No calling the dog by name, telling him to leave it, or anything of the sort. We didn't even get a simple apology after the dogs were separated. Not a damn word!

Getting Heffner calmed down took some serious doing for obvious reasons. The guys and dog eventually left the area. I hung out for a little while longer to walk Heffner around to hopefully cool him down physically and mentally.

This situation just totally sickens me. If you have a dog that is quite obviously nasty off leash, do NOT let it off leash around other dogs. Especially if you obviously have no control over the animal what so ever. I fully understand that unpleasant dogs need off leash running time too. Hell, I've got a reactive dog and I fully understand this. The difference is that I go out of my way and bend over backwards to find safe places to do so. If there's a hint of another dog around, I do NOT let Heffner off leash. Period.

I freely admit that my dog has his own set of issues. We've been working on them and will continue to work on them for the rest of his life. I go out of my way to not set him up for failure. I want him to have as many positive experiences as he can. If I know that a situation might be stressful for him, I come prepared to work through it. The more things we work through, the more solid he gets. However, there is only so much that I can do, only so much that I can prepare for, and only so much that I can go out of my way to avoid. I hate that this happened to Heffner not just because of the physical harm that this could have potentially done to him, but because of the harm that it does psychologically. As we were walking home, we passed by several houses who either had dogs in their back yard or in the house near the front window. We pass by these houses several times a week on our various walking routes through the neighborhood. Heffner has moved past the point of needing to posture and react to every single noise that any of these dogs make. He may lift his head or cock an ear, but his normal response is to otherwise ignore it and move on. It killed me to then walk past all of these things and see him revert back to a need to defend and protect. Not only did he lift his head up, but there was a lot of the defensive posturing, prancing, hackles raised, and rapid searching for where this potential attacker was. Do you know how much that hurts to see your dog go from being able to handle these instances for the very minor things that they are, to reacting to them as though they are of imminent danger? It's awful. And all thanks to a thoughtless person who couldn't seem to hang on to a damn leash.

And just in case anyone is wondering, the dog in question was not even remotely a bully breed. A point which also leads me to a sad train of thought. If I had reported this attack, the situation may very well have been handled differently if the dog in question were a bully breed. People tend to brush off instances of the more popular non-bully breeds misbehaving as isolated instances or something that was out of character and had a good reason behind it. If it's a bully breed, then people are crying for it to be euthanized because it would be considered yet another instance of "typical" breed behavior. I know this from past experience of getting bitten by a very common "family" breed dog, and having people in the ER doubt my report of what breed bit me. While the details of the bite were written down and I described what breed the dog was, I received a confused look and got asked SEVERAL times if I was absolutely sure that the dog that bit me wasn't a pit bull. I know the difference, and yes, I'm absolutely sure and so are the other people who witnessed it. It's incredibly sad that this is the state of things.

Heffner otherwise appears to physically be fine. I'm going to go over him again tonight and probably use the heating pad on him to massage of the muscles along his back and rear. He's obviously not in the same kind of physical condition that I would normally have him in and I'm really hoping that he didn't tweak anything. Freaking A!! I hate idiots!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week this week is Chianti's Blog!! Chianti and her mom do a lot of activities together and I really enjoy hearing about their training, trialing, and life in general. And what's a dog blog without lovely pictures of a beautiful dog?;0) So head on over, check it out, and say hello!

In other news, I took both dogs out on leash after work for the first time in over a month (holy cow it's been a long time!). Since I have been taking them out separately for so long, I momentarily forgot the additive effect that they tend to have on each other. I have many times "jokingly" called Heffner Bess' balls. She knows her big brother is there to back her up and protect her and that makes for a very saucy Bess at times. I also temporarily forgot what a competition the two of them can make out of anything when I've got them together. I'm sure it was made worse by the fact that they have had to spend so much exercise time separate, but wow. The two of them were like freight trains! I have to admit that I was very thankful we didn't come across any squirrels during our jaunt because I'm pretty sure that I would have gone flying. Heffner wanted to GO and Bess was full of herself. It made for a very interesting outing!;0)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Little of This And That

I didn't get around to posting an update from yesterday for two reasons. 1) It was Super Bowl Sunday and we were hosting a small gathering at our house. I use we in the general terms. It was a party that was pretty much wholly put on by Adam since I knew I was going to be at the trial and had no idea what time I would be getting home. He did a really nice job of cleaning the house and putting together all the food and drinks. A lot of which we will continue to enjoy as leftovers this week.;0) 2) Things fell apart again.

Our first run of the day was Open JWW and I was just going to see how things were going as we were on the course to try and decide where to pull her. Again, we weren't going to run the full course. The most unfortunate part of the course was the fact that it started on a tunnel. As I mentioned before, the tunnel can totally amp Bess up. She didn't seem too bad coming out of it, so I sent her over the first jump after it and I can't remember now if it was right after that jump or the jump after that she took off. I think it was after the first jump. She hit the ground and was off with a fit of zoomies. Brother! I told the judge thank you and made my way to the exit gate. On the way there, Bess decided to say hi to the judge. When the judge turned her back on Bess and did the best she could to ignore the little monster, Bess stuck her nose right up the judge's butt. Looooooooovely! I apologized and gathered up my dog. I firmly, but not emotionally, took her by the collar and led her out to the truck. I didn't talk to her. I didn't talk to anyone on the way there. And I didn't make any eye contact with her. I put her away for a time out, and went back in to watch some lovely runs.

The zoomies were very disheartening because I really thought that we were actually making some progress. We still had Standard left and I wasn't at all sure what to do about that. What I really wanted to do is keep that crazy dog on leash and take her through short sequences, but I can't do that at an AKC trial. I also most certainly did NOT want her to have another opportunity to take off and self reinforce with some zoomies. Since I obviously did not have a firm grasp on my dog or when she was going to take off, I decided to just scratch her for Standard and we headed home. Disappointing, but I'd rather not run at all then give her yet another opportunity to pull something like that. On the up side, this definitely reinforces my resolve to pull her from agility for a while. So it's back to basics for Bess. After she spends the rest of February doing absolutely nothing agility related.

The other thing that I have to share today is our work on the Take My Hand trick.:0) It's not very polished just yet, but we have a good foundation. I do have to admit that this trick was a little painful for me. It wasn't so bad with Bess, but Heffner really leaned heavily on my forearm and his paw pads are a bit rough. Bess was much lighter on me and used her rear a lot better. I also used a fair bit of luring, but I'm okay with that for this trick. And if you're wondering, this trick has not encouraged my dogs to jump up on me. They fully understand that this is a behavior that they offer when asked to, not when they decide to. A very important distinction regardless of the size of your dog. I should also apologize ahead of time for some of the language of the movie that was playing in the background! Guess I better shut some doors when I'm recording and Adam is watching TV!! Here's the video:

At some point I'm going to have to put together a bloopers real from all the sessions that we're recording. There are some entertaining moments along the way!

For those doing the Idita Walk, you should check out the finishers roster. If you can believe it, as of Sunday there were six people who had already racked up the requisite minutes! In less than a week's time! Wow! Makes me feel like a slug.

I hope that every one's Monday has been a gentle one.;0)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We're Making Progress!

I have no maps to share today because I didn't pick any up. Since the plan wasn't to actually run a full course, grabbing the course maps seemed a little pointless. I had a plan going into the day, I stuck with it, and it paid off.:) Here goes the synopsis:

First run of the day was Novice FAST. Since yesterday was all about zoomies and a start line break down, we needed to build back up from the basics. I put Bess into a sit stay (which I will now be employing with her from here on out), walked out to the "intended" jump, stopped and looked back at her like I was about to release her, and then went back to her and praised her for staying. I walked out just a couple of steps ahead of her, thanked the judge, and went back and told her what a good girl she was for staying. Then we had a great time and left the ring on a very good note.:0) It was short, but thankfully sweet. Prior to going into the ring, I warmed her up like I normally did and we played our normal heeling games and focus games. This time, though, we threw in a little "proofing" of the stay command. It's something that I haven't done a ton of with her because her stays are usually pretty stinkin' rock solid, but it was recommended to me that I try it. While I won't say that it's the sole reason things worked today, I think it definitely helped. We were basically doing the whole dog stays while I gently pull on the leash and she gets praised for holding her stay. Simple, but worth while.

Next up was Open Jumpers. Since our plan for FAST was successful, our next goal was to make it over just one jump together and then leave. I warned the gate steward and the dog running behind us about our plan. I got a very quizzical look from the handler who asked me "you're not going to run the whole course?" Nope! I again did a little more of the fake lead out and then coming back and praising Bess (without touching her because that would have ended our "run") for staying. Then we took the first jump together and that was that. Another successful start! She was thrilled to go play more tug.

The final run of the day was Open Standard. What to do for this run. I had a dog who was sticking with me and was acting a lot more calmer in the ring than the previous day. Where should I decide our stopping point was? Before even looking at the course I thought I would take two jumps and then stop there. Except this was Standard and there are a lot more options for obstacles than there are in JWW. The start ended up being a tire to a tunnel to a dog walk. All very doable if I could keep her under control. However, we did have a potential problem with the tunnel. The tunnel has the uncanny ability to amp her up and send her shooting out of it like a bat out of hell. Hmmmmmm......after some discussion, I came up with a few different options depending on whether the crazy light switched on in Bess. If she was nutty coming out of the tunnel, I would collect her and we'd leave after that. If I could keep her under control then we'd do the dog walk. If she held her contact at the end, then I would continue on to the jump that followed. This is where I was undecided. I was given the advice that it might be a good idea to end on a contact obstacle so that she not only sticks her contacts, but it's something that should naturally slow her down any way. After the jump there was a teeter. The quandary was whether or not I could keep her with me to the teeter. If she wasn't crazy coming off the dog walk and wasn't crazy over the jump, then the final decision was to end on the teeter and then go have our little party. I am very proud to say that we made it all the way to the teeter with Bess nailing both of her down contacts better than she ever has in a trial setting!! She came to a complete stop and waited for her release!! There was a slightly harry moment when it looked like she wanted to zoom after the jump prior to the teeter, but she kept it together and went on to the teeter. Yay Bess!! And yay for progress!

What tomorrow will hold, I'm not entirely sure. I don't really have a game plan as of yet, but want to wait to see what the courses look like. The plan is still not to do a full course, I just need to figure out where the best spots are to end the run on a high note. Fingers crossed that we have more successes tomorrow!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Builds Character!

That is one of the phrases going through my head right now. One way or another these dogs are making it so that I will have everything figured out just in time for our next dane pup. I've had a variety of people tell me that the variety of things I've worked through with both dogs will make me a better dog trainer. On the one hand, that's awesome. On the other hand, there are times when I would like to not have to work for it so much!

Today was the start of a three day AKC agility trial that I have Bess entered in. I decided to still compete with her because we've obviously got a few things to work through. I had to go into work this morning for a few hours, but the trials start later on Fridays any way and that's not a problem. Also not a problem because I started work at 6:30am. I didn't have quite as much time to warm Bess up prior to our run as I might have liked, but I also didn't have high expectations for her. We warmed up for about 15-20 min., I walked the course, and then we hung out for a short bit while waiting our turn to run (tall to small today). We did our normal focus games that we play while waiting. She was alert and attentive. Good signs. There was a little bit of sass in there too. Not necessarily a bad sign, but lately anything could be a bad sign. When it was our turn I got her to the start line, set her up and was prepared to pull her after two jumps. She had other plans. After the second jump she took off like a bat out of hell around the ring! I mean seriously mad, crazy zoomies at warp speed. She made three laps of the entire outer perimeter of the ring in the amount of time it would have taken us to complete the course. I just stood there and tried to wait for her to calm down a bit because there was no hope for a recall at this point. Finally I just thanked the judge and started walking towards the exit gate to get her collar and leash. She finally made it over to me and I headed out with her to walk around. Thankfully the property that the event center is on is huge and there are a ton of places to take the dogs to walk. I found a more secluded area to let her off leash so that she could just burn off some steam and run. It helped. Sort of.

We hung out in the truck while waiting for Standard (I decided to not crate her this weekend to see if that would help at all). I forgot to move her up to Open by the deadline, so we were running last in Novice. Not that I was really bothered by that. The plan for Standard was to pull her after one jump and leave the ring. If we can't handle two jumps, then lets try one. soon as we got into the ring, Bess flipped the crazy switch and started trying to play tug with her leash. While I was trying to keep that out of her mouth, she decided to use my arm as a bite sleeve. I finally just got the collar off of her and she seemed collected enough. After all, I was only going to have her go over one jump, it should be easy to pull her off of that, right? WRONG! As soon as her feet left the ground on that first jump she was gone. More hauling ass around the ring. Though this time it was only one lap, that ended by her doing one of those horse reining sliding stops up against one of the poor ring crew people. Nothing like having a berserk great dane come barreling at you at top speed, only to have her just barely stop in time to not completely knock you out of your chair. Yes, that's my Bessy! Once she came back to me, I had her sit, thanked the judge and we made our way to the exit. She was walking calmly and I think I tapped her on the butt or something. Wrong thing to do! She took off for another lap and a half of the ring. Freaking A! Finally got her back for the second time and got the collar on so that we could actually exit the ring.

On the up side of everything, she stayed in the ring. Sounds like an accomplishment, right? Except that three sides of each ring are part of an arena wall and the one "open" side is fencing with two swinging gates, so she can't just run right out. She drew a fair bit of attention during her jumpers run. After all, I'm sure to someone outside of the ring, it's highly entertaining to watch an over sized crack dog racing around the ring like the devil was out to burn her tail off! While I was disappointed to a certain extent, at the same time to, I had no expectations going into this trial aside from hoping to start fixing what is obviously broken. There were some very nice, more experienced people who came up to me afterwards to offer words of encouragement and lend their years of experience with a variety of dogs and how they got through it. It was incredibly sweet and very much appreciated. They had some great tips and advice. But mostly, it was just really nice to hear from someone who has been in my same exact spot and made it through to the other side on top. There were a lot of nice things said about Bess too! And I do have to admit that I would rather have a dog doing the zoomies right now than one who is shutting down completely. Which was also the general consensus. So we'll get there, eventually. And isn't it just super that I have this blog to document that fun journey so that I can look back on it years later and laugh?? (heavy on the sarcasm!)

For the immediate future, this will be Bess' last agility trial for a while. Because I was planning on using this trial to gauge what to do for the future, I had sent off very few entries. I've already pulled her from the trials that she was entered in. She will get the month of February completely off from agility. No training, no nothing. We'll start back up with foundation work ON LEAD in March and move on from there. I don't expect to have her back in the ring until the fall. I'm not horribly sad, it leaves more time and money for other pursuits. And I've still got Heffner.

Speaking of Heffner, the boy is getting incredibly restless and is in some serious need of real exercise. He's getting another adjustment next week and I REALLY hope she'll let me start exercising him more! If all goes well and I have him in the type of condition that I want, I'm hoping to trial him at the end of March to see how his body holds up. If not well, that will be Heffner's last agility trial. If his body can handle it, then we'll move on from there. At this point, I am 99% sure that this will be Heffner's last year of agility. He's too important to me to have him wearing down at an early age.

Phew! What a day! I have a lot of thoughts weighing heavily on my mind right now. Tonight though, I shall whisk them away with a little frivolity with some great friends, a cult classic movie, and some yummy drinks! Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

Welcome to February! I've switched the dogs collars to Valentine's Day prints and I'm sporting my own Valentine's Day socks. We are ready for the month!:0) Since there were some people who expressed interest in dog yoga when I posted my review about the DVD of the same, I did find an actual blog about a dog yoga instructor up in the Seattle, WA area. It's pretty interesting and fun to read. Since she's an instructor, there are a fair amount of posts about the classes that's she holding, but I think there's enough in there to help get some people started on their way. Overall it's just a fun topic to read about and written by someone who has a fair amount of experience as well.

Therefore, my pick for Blog of the Week is Dog Yoga Blog! Head on over and check it out!

Today is also the start of the Idita-Walk. Just out of curiosity, how many reading this are signed up??? I've got my little stop watch and I've been keeping track of my time spent exercising on foot with the dogs. It's "helpful" right now that Heffner gets his own special walks because it helps me to rack up the minutes.;0) I will definitely be excited to hear how others are doing and I'd love to know who else is participating!