Archive for May, 2009

Bud’s new puppy, “Hickory”

May 8, 2009

Well, at least I THINK his name is going to be Hickory. “Country Dream Hickory” probably, as a registered name.

I’m looking forward to getting my 2-Minute sport foundation packets out for his breakfast, lunch and dinner. As with any dog, we begin with attention to name (or re-name) and recall.

I’m curious as to how he’ll relate to the other dogs, who he’ll choose to torment, whether he’ll have respect for the oldsters.

Today I worked with my mother’s day gift to myself, a little string trimmer that runs off a battery. Convenience = 5 stars. Charge time = 1 star. I guess it runs about as long as I like to string trim, so I’ll be doing trimming in little bits.

Bud left this morning for his yearly Altoona (PA) seminar. He took Hazard and Blue — these girls are becoming great travelers though I’m not sure he’ll be able to handle them AND a puppy while traveling. If he wants to, I’m sure he will.

This morning I arrived at the YMCA pool about 10 minutes early, so swam for about 80 minutes, followed by an hour of aerobics. My goal is to build to 90 minutes by summer, either swimming alone or a combination of swimming and water aerobics.

About 45 minutes into the swim I felt so hungry I thought I’d be sick. I rested and brought my heart rate down a touch, then started again and got over the feeling. I’m very pleased with the results I’m seeing from the exercise in the pool.

After swimming I swung through McDonalds for 2 chicken sandwiches and a diet coke. I ate one sandwich and saved one for dog treats at the shelter. I’ve had no luck getting shelter dogs to each hot dogs, ham, treats, nothing. I figured they would eat chicken from McDonalds.

When I got to the shelter half the dogs were in outdoor pens. The smell was overwhelming. HSOV is using a new cleanser which deoderizes but the staff must be diluting it too much because it isn’t working very well. Or perhaps I arrived before the night’s smell had a chance to clear.

I strolled around the outdoor pens, drawn to a white GSD bitch who looked quite bedraggled. I tore off a piece of chicken and she sniffed it but refused to move from her sit, and refused to take the chicken. I tossed it onto the floor near her and turned away. She sniffed at it, but looked back up at me.

I walked 20 feet away and she leaned over, picked up the chicken, and ate it. I walked back and tore off another piece. By the time we finished our interaction she was taking little bits of chicken out of my hand and eating it. If I did nothing else today I’d be pleased that I connected — on one level at least — with this poor girl.

I worked with a couple of dogs, including a black lab mix with something wrong with his rear legs. He also had a fully engorged tick on his face so I took him into the guts of the shelter, found a worker, and got the tick removed.

We spent half an hour together in the hallway outside of the large adoption room. He decided the kittens in the towers weren’t as interesting as he thought they might be at first.

Most of the dogs at the shelter are too big and too boisterous for my trick knee, but I was able to spend a little time with a couple of them. There’s a purebred Sheltie going to rescue tomorrow so I left her alone and focused on dogs up for adoption.

The smell remained overwhelming and, after 90 minutes, I had to leave. By comparison, the Parkersburg shelter is kept clean and neat, is well-run, and is about as long a drive. Whether it was the smell today, or the 5-camps-in-6-weeks schedule coming up, I’m wondering how focused I’ll stay on shelter activities.

I don’t want to stop helping them but I question whether my contribution is worthwhile. I’ll keep restocking the 2-Min. D.T. brochures, keep talking with adopters, keep helping with dog training, and I’ll re-evaluate my committment every couple of weeks or so.

Is it really possible that the smell could drive me away?

everything takes too much time

May 7, 2009

Like everyone else there are too many things I want to do with my time.

Before last week’s camp I made a list of all the chores and activities I wanted to fit into my week. Swimming, water aerobics, fixing camp dinners, doing lunch-break workshops (more on those later), running to Marietta for groceries, running to Watertown for ice and beer, fostering Mercy, blogging, completing paperwork, packing the truck for Saturday’s trial, grooming dogs, working dogs, housework and laundry were all on that list.

Then I made a schedule in which I tried to fit all the most important elements. It all looked possible, on paper.

First thing to be dropped, in favor of assisting campers and arranging to feed everyone, was swimming and water aerobics. Second thing to be dropped was blogging.

Frankly, I checked my blog page daily, looked at my stats, thought about writing something, and withdrew from the site from shear exhaustion. Blogging involves about 30 minutes of focus on the events of the day and some days I just don’t have the time to think about what I have to do.

I’m going to try to do better because I want a continuous record of what happens in my life and what I think about it. For folks who are reading, I want to help with training. I had an elderly student last weekend who said, “I looked at the 2-Minute Dog Trainer stuff but it was all about camps and your foster dog.” Well, of course, she wasn’t looking at the 2-Minute Dog Trainer stuff so much as she was reading my blog.

So my blog should contain at least a little 2-Min.D.T. stuff. By the way, Bud’s blog is going to be addressing his training protocols with Hickory (“Kory” for short), Bud’s soon-to-be BC puppy. I’m told I may do any obedience or rally I wish with this puppy but I’m going to try something new … his name for obedience and rally is going to be “Hick” while Bud calls him “Kory” for agility. Let’s see just how clever this little boy can be …

The name was my idea. Bud’s used golfing terms for his dogs since the days of Bogie and Birdie. But these days he’s enthralled with TREES and hasn’t picked up a golf club since I’ve known him. So I suggested we have an exercise of namin’ nuts (from “Best In Show”) — and this first nut is going to be named Hickory. <g>

In other news — I was very excited at the opportunity to present lunch-break workshops during camp weeks. These workshops were to cover several “intro” topics including:  rally, 2-Min.D.T., tracking, etc.  I also offered obedience for agility (not popular, though most campers needed this topic the most IMO).

The workshops were designed to take 45 minutes of campers’ 2-hour lunch break. These lengthy lunch breaks were originally set up so people could chill and rest before the afternoon’s activities. Before arriving for camp everyone seemed eager to fill that time with dog training rather than rest. After arriving at camp reality set in.

Out of the 3 available days for workshops last week’s campers ended up working during just 2 lunch breaks. I discovered a couple of interesting things about these workshops … 1) nobody wanted to pay extra for extra training, except 1 camper who paid twice the published rate so I’d stay and teach,  and  2) at least half the campers had other plans for lunch, even though they’d originally stated they would stay and train.

It was also more than a little uncomfortable listening to 10 minutes of excuses, reasons why they weren’t staying to train, during the time allotted to the training itself. In the end, my 15 minutes of preparation and 45 minutes of instruction turned into 90 minutes of work, times 2 days.

And, in the end, I was preaching to the choir since everyone who actually was fairly new to obedience and agility training left the building at lunch. Soooooooooo … you guessed it … lunch-break workshops are no more.

I’ll continue to offer private lessons but with a clear definition of WHO wants the lesson and WHAT topic they wish to address. In the meantime, I’ll put my “obedience for agility” sermon on hold once again. I’ll watch from the sidelines as agility enthusiasts apply mediocre-to-horrendous training to the task.

In the meantime, at last Saturday’s trial, I was pleased to see that my girls had 3-4-obstacle lead-outs in their reperitoire, as well as pretty steady table performances.

In other news, Mercy was delivered to the Humane Society of Parkersburg this morning at 7:15 for her trip to Pennsylvania to join a rescue group. I had to push myself to drive away without her. My DNA contains elements of hoarding, judging from my family, so I have to quiet those demons who whisper that no dog will be completely happy unless it’s living with me.

I just doesn’t make sense after looking at the task list above and know that, for several weeks, “grooming dogs” and “training dogs” and “walking dogs” have all been neglected for housework, meal prep, swimming, fostering, and blogging.

Central Ohio Dog Sports TDAA trial

May 6, 2009

Bud and I took our young girls to the first trial offered by Central Ohio Dog Sports. This is a group of our friends and former students who have banded together to offer TDAA trials and other events.

I was very impressed with their organization and all the special things they did to make exhibitors feel welcome, and to provide a happy, safe trialing environment.

The group made up gift bags and set them out for the first game walk-through, where everyone entered in the trial would be moving past them. The gift bags contained some candy, some dog chewies and toys (a neat little tennis ball for small dogs) and a hand-written thank you note from the committee for our support of their first trial.

They had TDAA equipment brought in by Donni and Randy Breaden, so everything was up to spec and beautifully maintained. Randy and Donni attend lots of TDAA trials in the mid-west with their troupe of yorkies.

The club had rented our old training center site, a 60 x 90 building fully matted with 3/4″ stall mats. We have the same floor here and I’d forgotten how lovely it is to run on a consistent surface.

Sally Boarman, site owner, had spiffed up the place and cleared the floor of all her equipment in preparation for the onslaught of teacup equipment and people. There was plenty of crating space, lots of room for spectators, and no one felt crowded.

Teacup agility is about as close as you can get to the dog agility of the mid-90s, when it was just catching on in this country. People watch everyone run because they can sit with their dog near the ring. They cheer for each other, and commiserate with each other over those inevitable gliches.

I was running Bud’s girls because of his sore knee, and Hazard always seems to enjoy running with me. Her first standard run was perfect, her second standard run was flawed, but both were cheered and enjoyable. No one stopped me at the exit to say, “what went wrong at the tunnel entrance?!?!” 

There wasn’t a lot of panic or angst, though I did hear later that Robin was starting to get a little frustrated with her quest for that last Superior Standard leg for her TACh — she had 6 opportunities and finished her title Sunday afternoon.

The club sold lunch for $5 and had a little raffle. They provided plenty of porta-johns and parking. The weather was beautiful. The crowd was friendly and familiar.

All in all a terrific experience!

In other news, Mercy leaves us tomorrow morning for Collie rescue in PA. I’m told they are a group that fosters and places all types of herding dogs. She’ll be living in the home of the owner of the organization. They do background and vet checks before placing dogs. I’m confident my little girl is going to have a great life.

In other news, my refrigerator has been making over-much noise for the last 2 years. I thought it might be dying but my mother, who bought it in the first place, reassured me that it was working fine.

Well, 2 days ago I noticed my milk wasn’t very cold.  I thought maybe the door hadn’t shut completely. I shut it tight and swore to check it next day. Still not cold.

Now the produce is starting to smell, and the interior of the refrigerator is barely cool. I’ve got a repairman coming tomorrow morning and, in the meantime, am pricing new refrigerators because I HATE this refrigerator.

New units will run $950-$1400.  So I guess I’ll get this one fixed and put up with it for a few more years. [sigh]

In other news, I bought myself a mother’s day present (in lower case, since my kids are all dogs) yesterday — a battery powered string trimmer !!  I want to be able to spiff up the place without having to lug around gasoline cans or stretch out electric cords.

Besides, this seems a better idea ecologically.  Rechargeable batteries will provide an hour or so of string trimming. The unit came with 2 batteries, the charger, and a spool of string. We’ll see how well it functions in the real world of Country Dream.

In other news, my article in DogSports magazine is due out any day now. It’s on the Laws of a Dog In Motion as they relate to Rally-O.  And I was interviewed last week by the local newspaper and I keep hearing “the article on you in the Sunday paper was great!”  I haven’t read either yet, so I’m looking forward to that.

a return to Dogwood for the day

May 3, 2009

After two years in southeastern Ohio Bud entered one day of a Teacup Dog Agility Association agility trial being hosted at our old place, Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio.

We were tentative about returning. When you love a piece of property and a business your emotions come into play when you return for a visit.

We wanted it to be obvious that the improvements WE made, the little things we did to perfect the property, remained unchanged. Those things were, afterall, perfection.

On the other hand, we wanted to see that improvements had been made. Improvements indicate that the new owner loves the place as much as we did.

Too many improvements indicate that the new owner didn’t appreciate our input. Too few improvements indicate a lack of love.

The day was exhausting, with a 3-hour drive starting at 5:00 a.m., 6 hours of teacup trialing (with Hazard getting her last Superior standard Q for her TACh !!), and a tiresome 3-hour drive home.

But we were amazed to see that much remained unchanged at Dogwood. The new owner, Sally Boarman, has maintained everything beautifully. Her impact was felt, however, in the cleanliness and neatness of the property.

Frankly, Bud and I were busy with classes and camps and we often let general housekeeping go undone. Sally’s property was spotless and, except for grass that was overgrown because of wet, spring weather, beautiful!

everything is green!

May 3, 2009

A month ago I was fervishly spreading grass seed on every brown and bare patch on our 28 acres.

For the past week we’ve been cutting grass at every opportunity, and I’m seeing little baby blades of grass peeking out of  former patches of dirt.

At each cottage students raked away the winter’s leaves and nuts, then spread grass seed. In years past I waited until later in the spring to run the mower across the ground, blowing away leaves. I think the raking actually did a much better job of preparing the soil to accept seed.

Our local agility enthusiasts have been so supportive of our efforts here. Now I’m attempting to forge a rally-o relationship with the local obedience club.

I’ve offered to teach a rally-o class in exchange for a top-level agility slot for one of our dogs. As an AKC club, they’re checking by-laws, believing they can’t have an instructor who teaches classes “in conflict” with theirs.

We may work out a system whereby I provide “seminars” or “workshops” rather than classwork. Silly semantics, probably. I know other AKC clubs have changed their by-laws to actually welcome outside instructors to their program.

What is best for an AKC obedience and agility club? I believe that today’s experienced instructor and exhibitor will almost always be offering training to others, whether it’s in their own backyard, in their garage, in a training building, or by renting out the club’s facility.

To say that these experienced people, who are not only experienced dog trainers but are experienced instructors, should not be permitted to teach for your club is a bit of “cutting off your nose to spite your face,” in my opinion.

There are dozens of talented dog trainers at any trial you attend. That dozen talented dog trainers translates into about 2 talented instructors — that is, someone  who can translate their dog training skills into a language others can understand and replicate.

A good instructor knows how the dog thinks, how the handler thinks, how the judge thinks, and can manipulate all that into a qualifying or winning performance. A good instructor also has an eye for the tiniest elements of your performance, and can describe change in a way that makes you want to alter what you’ve been doing forever.

Regardless of what happens with POTC, I’m hopeful our relationship with this local club is on the mend. I don’t believe they’re as afraid of our presence as they were two years ago.