Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #11

1. What movie do you love but are too embarrassed to admit you love it?

I don't really watch movies but am obsessed with cheesey TV shows.  Recently I watched 40 episodes of a teenage drama called "Make it or Break It".  Now I am watching "Friday Night Lights" which is almost respectable.  Last year I watched all of "Lost" on my streaming Netflix and I am thinking about watching it all over again.

2. Ann wants to know: How far do you drive/travel to attend trials, clinics, lessons? How far is too far?

I don't drive very far to trials because honestly what is the point of driving 5 hours to end up in last place in Utility B?  I'll only drive 1 1/2 to serve as OTCH fodder.

I don't go to seminars or clinics anymore because they irritate me.  Almost everything irritates me.  Maybe I need to stop drinking so much beer.

Lessons, on the other hand, lessons.  My last lesson that I took I drove 16 hours (each way).  It was worth it.  I've driven over 12 hours (each way) for lessons at least 2 dozen times in the past 6 years.

3. What is your theme song (circa Ally McBeal)?

When I am uneasy I hum "I'm in the Mood For Love".  Loudly.  So that is the annoying sound you are hearing as I unpack my crates at a trial.  Is there a deep, disturbing psychological reason for this?  You be the judge.

4. Laura S wants to know: If you had to choose a new dog activity, one that you had never done before, what would you choose?

Whatever the hell Norton would be good at.  Last year I tried herding with him.  He galloped merrily around the sheep until they stopped and looked at him.  Then he too stopped and stared at me.  The herding instructor deemed his herding instinct at ~zero.

Maybe we will try free style.  I like to wear costumes, make up silly stories, and hop around.  Maybe I will start a new dog sport that combines free style with stand up comedy.  Then we can suck at that too.

5. What would your dog choose (or scribe, if you're Pippin)?

Norton - eating ice cream on the sofa and killing rodents
Victor - eating anything including underpants, socks, poop, and rodents
Olive - agility!
Secret - marathon cuddling

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Heart Dog - Norton

Norton and I have been on a rocky journey for 8 years.  He is my Novice A dog.  When he was 3 years old and I was getting scores in Novice that were < 180 I did what any intelligent and analytical person would do.  I went to trials and I talked to the people who were doing well.  I talked to people who placed, whose dogs were animated, who had the same breed of dog that I had (Keeshond).  And I tried to follow their advice. 

They told me who they trained with.  And I drove 12 hours (each way) to take lessons with these people.  I read the books they told me to read and I watched the DVDs they told me to watch.  In fact I read them over and over again and played the DVDs hundreds of times.  I took vidoes of my lessons and I studied them.  I tried to do what my trainers were telling me to do even though sometimes it just seemed wrong.

Norton's performances in training and in the ring deteriorated..  He earned one UD leg in 2008 and now is unable to pass even one exercise in Utility.  He completely panics in any ring situation.  Everyone who watches continues to tell me "he is blowing me off" and needs to be corrected.  Even the best trainers.

One year ago, in desperation I called Diane Bauman on the phone (because she had been successful in training Keeshonden).  I had read her book "Beyond Basic Obedience" because my friend Sandy Schmidt spoke so highly of it.  Diane was extremely generous in watching videos of my training sessions, meeting with me (another 15 hour drive!) emailing back and forth and talking to me on the phone.  She told me that Norton was not "blowing me off", that he was confused, frustrated and wanted to be right.  It has taken me a year to realize the truth of this statement. 

My other three dogs are benefiting greatly from what Norton has taught me.  Sadly, I doubt that Norton will ever earn the other 2 legs that he needs to finish his Utility title.  But I am so blessed to have time to continue to train him and learn from him.  He is my heart dog and my greatest teacher.

Here is a video of Norton staring at himself in the mirror...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

TMT #10

Going forward over the next six months, what are your goals?

1.  Finish Norton's UD title.  I need two more legs and prayers from everyone in order to get them!
2.  Qualify in utility with Secret, Olive, and Victor 4 times each with scores > 190.
3.  Train wonderful lovely perfect 2o2o contacts with Victor, Secret, and Olive.
4.  Train to-die-for weave poles with Victor, Secret, and Olive.
6.  Train drop-dead-gorgeous rear crosses with Victor, Secret and Olive.
7.  Enter an agility trial with Victor, Secret and Olive...maybe just JWW.

I wanted to explain from last week what article bags are.  In the obedience utility class, there is an exercise called Scent Discrimination.  The dog has to choose from a set of nine little metal and leather objects the single object that has your scent on it.  These objects are called "articles" and you store them in a sacred spot, the "article bag", where air can circulate around them. 

Utility handlers are extremely paranoid and superstitious about their articles because they possess magical powers.  Sometimes the dogs can easily choose the correct article and sometimes, mysteriously, they can not.  So there are many rituals that surround the articles.  These are obedience secrets that only known by the 30 people who are currently showing their dogs in utility.  The same 30 people that succeed in beating me each and every weekend because, frankly, I suck.

Anywho, since no one reads this blog, not even my parents and husband, I feel quite comfortable in sharing these secrets with you, my non-existent public. 

Behold the Utility Handler Article Commandments:

Thou shalt not wash thy hands for 16 hours before showing in Utility.
Thou shalt not take any new medication (except for Valium) for fear that thy scent might change and confuse thy dog.
Thou shalt not let stewards place a hand on thine scented article.
Thou shalt rip a new asshole in the steward who mixeth thine scented and unscented articles together.
Thou shalt not leave thine articles unattended les "she who shall not be named" dumpeth a cup of coffee on them when thou ist distracted.
Thou shalt engage in strange article cleansing rituals one week prior to showing.
Thou shalt not make fun of other handlers who insist that their articles be placed in the article box "just so".

And here is a wee video of  Secret doing articles this past weekend:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TMT #9

1.       If you're not at the 2011 Sheepdog finals this weekend what are you planning to do?

Show Olive and Secret at an obedience trial.   I entered Olive this weekend before experiencing her extremely dismal performance over the Labor Day Weekend.  It will be interesting to see if the cooler weather helps make the run better.

2.       One item you NEVER walk onto the trial field (any trial field, or training class will suffice) without?

Scent articles.  I am obsesssed with Utility right now.   I am also obsessed with my scent article bags.  Like fashionable ladies are with their fancy designer purses.

Secret's article bag has a picture of her on it.


Victor's bag is made from an old tuxedo shirt and is very formal.  Because that is how he is.


Norton's bag has a cheese theme coz he LOVES cheese.


Olive's bag has a martini theme because I want to drink heavily after I show her.


All of our article bags were custom made by Susan Naffziger from Albany, IN.

3.       Katy wants to know if you have a pre-run ritual that you observe?

Go to the bathroom 50 bajillion times.  And I have to go RIGHT BEFORE I walk in the ring or things get really scary.

4.       How old were you when you had your first real kiss?

I don’t remember when or who.  Isn’t that sad?  It was a looooonnnnggggggg time ago.

5.       Bonnie wants to know what you do for yard mud control during the winter?

I can't wait to hear what other people have to say about this.  The backyard is a mud and rock mountain.   Any kind of covering ends up at the bottom of the hill after the first rain.  So our solution is to walk the dogs on leash in the front yard.  I like knowing the status of winkies and dookies anyway.  And Norton jumps over the 4’ chain link fence in the back.  Does anyone else have a backyard that is too sloped for mulch/straw/gravel?

The evilness that is the backyard:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #8

1.       What is the biggest thing that grossed you out over the past week?

The amount of dog hair in my backyard.  I groom on the deck.  Hope the neighbors like dog hair on their grill!  Happy Labor Day picnic! Extra protein! 

2.       What do you feed your dogs?

Victor – Holistic Select Anchovy and Sardine because he has terrible allergies
Everyone else – Eagle pack plain old in the blue bag because they get too skinny on the Anchovy and Sardine.

All dogs get a big dose of Dinovite ( on top of their food.  Since I’ve been using the Dinovite, Victor’s hair has gotten much thicker and he no longer has a possum tail.

Sometimes Victor eats underpants.   I suspect my husband has been giving him the “old lady” style undies.

3.       If you could move anywhere where would you live?

I’d like to have a pole barn where I could set up my agility and obedience equipment.  Next to my charming stone cottage in Scotland. Can I have a handy man to do my yardwork?  Good!

4.       What is the funniest thought that occurred to you (or thing that happened to you) this week?

While brushing Norton’s teeth prior to bed on Sunday (he is unable to do this without my help) I was bent way over, scrutinizing his gums.  When I finished I stood up and whacked my head on the bathroom doorknob.  There may have been beer involved.

This reminds me of a time when I was dremelling toenails and drinking beer.   The dremel got caught up in my hair...all the way up to my temple.  Do not dremel unless your hair is pulled back!  Especially when drinking adult beverages!

5. If you couldn't have your breed of choice what would be next on your list?

I have two Keeshonden, and Australian Shepherd and a Border Collie.  BCs are my favorite with the Keeshond being next on the list.  I’d like to have an Afghan Hound, Golden Retriever, another Keeshond, and another BC.  I’d also like to trade my husband for one that would let me have 8 dogs.  Just kidding honey.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why is Wrong Wonderful?

Because Diane Bauman says so...

If you haven't read Diane's book, buy it immediately.  It was one of the first dog training books I read, and it is the best.

If you would like an opportunity to take a lesson with Diane in Tennessee in on October 29th or 30th, please contact me.

First 2 OTCH points

Sunday I earned my first 2 OTCH points EVER!  Thanks to Secret...

It was a small outside show.  We lost a runoff to our "arch rival" Anita and Aspen.  We've been in so many runoffs against Anita...I can't even count.  But we never win when we're up against Aspen...

because she is a heeling machine!

It was a highly controversial Utility B situation.  Both Anita and I flunked on signals but were allowed to re-do our signal exercise when it was decided that the golden that came before us had fouled the ring right at the signal spot. 

Olive did better than she did yesterday but she still went for the #2 glove.  Guess she doesn't quite get the concept yet.   It was cooler than yesterday, but still nasty little bugs were swarming. 

My couch to 5K training has apparently done nothing to eliminate back fat.  Will need to start doing some different exercises to get rid of those unattractive lumps if I am planning to continue tucking in my shirt.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Today Must be a Wonderful Day

Introducing Olive, a 4 year old Australian Shepherd, with a heart of gold.

If wrong is wonderful, then today is a bang-up day.  Olive acting like she's never been in a Utility Ring before in her life...

And Olive in a much finer moment...

Maybe, just maybe tomorrow will be less wonderful.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #7

I love this idea and all the fascinating posts that it has generated.  More about me and my pups will be forthcoming.

1. What five things can't you live without?

my dogs
my knitting

instant coffee
my "double wide" chair

2. How do you transport your dogs?

The 2005 Orange Honda Element died a sad death on Christmas 2010 in a traffic accident that left Norton and me unharmed.  This tragedy turned to triumph when we acquired that fabulous white 2005 Toyota Sienna with 50,000 fewer miles on it.  Plenty of room for crates, ring gates, agility jumps, obedience jumps, and the before mentioned double wide chair.

3. What role does obedience play in your training or running of your dog(s)?

Up until now obedience has been our primary goal.  Olive (the 4 year old Australian Shepherd) and Secret (the 3 year old Border Collie) both finished their utility dog title on 8/20/11.  We begin our quest for fame and OTCH points this weekend.  We've also begun our agility training and hope to start showing in agility next Spring. 

Victor (the 7 year old Keeshond) finished his utility dog title in 2009 and has been semi-retired due to some health issues.  He is doing much better and is leading the pack in his agility prowess. 

Norton (the 8 year old Keeshond) seems destined to be the chief love muffin after NQing in Utility A approximately 583 times.  We have no more money left in the bank account for Norton's entry fees.  And we've been laughed out of most of the dog club's in the midwest. 

4. At what point do you start putting commands on your dogs?

The minute they set foot in my house.  Not that they obey them...especially Norton.

5. Do you talk to strangers in elevators?

If Norton's training is going well I will talk to anyone about all the great things he has done.  Even strangers in elevators.  Fortunately these days are few and far between.