Sunday, August 28, 2011

Agility in Over 100 Degree Weather

Doesn't sound like fun, does it? I'll be honest- it wasn't much fun. It was 106 degrees. But, you might say, it was a dry heat. (As if that makes it ok. Agility in 106 degree weather is never ok.) This time it wasn't! So there! It was 40 percent humidity!!! And I was there ALL DAY because Pie was in novice and Dottie was in excellent. Not to worry- no dogs were in any danger of heat related injuries. They stayed in the shade all day with lots of water, and only came out to run for their 30 -50 seconds. I seemed to be suffering, though. Probably I should have been drinking water. I also stayed in the shade, and had my had and gloves on. Gloves? Yes- I am being plagued by sunburn on my hands. Strange, I know. Hence the gloves. It looks odd, but is better than the alternative, which last time was hands so painful I couldn't sleep and then as they healed and peeled looked like I had been burned by acid. Yuck-o.

I ran the Mal in Time 2 Beat. Pie was in preferred and was the only dog and ran clean so she got the 10 points. She had fun, but since it is about speed and is not a hard course, but since we had no competition, there was not the excitement of if we would set the "time to beat" and get the 10 points, it wasn't that thrilling for me. Dottie took the off course tunnel twice in a row so no points on that run.

Pie ran clean in novice all weekend. She looks funny over the 20 inch jumps. She just kind of hops over them, instead of jumping a nice arc. Ah well- they are awfully low. But that is the point.

Fancy was not entered- and good thing in that heat!

Dottie had no Qs on Saturday and was quite "bad" in standard. I blame the heat. She seems to suffer from its effects more than either of the other girls. I eventually pulled her from the course due to lack of effort on her part. She was much better in jumpers which I think was because I warmed her up with food instead of a toy. In the heat, the playing with a toy ahead of time probably got her tired before she even ran.

Today Dottie got her first Ex B Jumpers Q! With a first place, beating the 20 inch dog who jumps 24 inches and always beat Pie by a 1/10 of a second. Dottie beat him by a full second. And we were not trying to go fast due to the heat and due to the fact that hurting my knees is so far in the front of my mind I can barely concentrate on the course. Which means I am running very slowly. Dottie's time was not amazing compared to the rest of the 20 inch Border Collies, and the fastest 24 inch dogs had not qualified, but it was still nice to beat Pie's nemesis.

This week coming up will be filled with more tracking, then a 3 day agility trial where ffluffy will join us, then no more agility until after our SchH trial.

In family news, my sister was spared the wrath of Hurricane Irene, but she did feel the earthquake they had there a few days ago. She lives in NC. My brother is going to Hawiii on business (lucky guy,) and my mom's school will be starting up right after Labor Day. My youngest brother is working on his Eagle Scout project (making care packages for 200 deployed Marines) and my dad got stung by a bee while swimming, even though he always rescues bees who otherwise would have drowned. Bad bee.

Tracking Update 3 (Part 2) and 4

I wrote this on Thursday...

As planned, yesterday after work I had dinner, then went to the park for some remedial tracking. Dottie was excused. I started with Pie. I made the scent pad, went a few paces, put food in my footsteps for 6 paces, then 6 paces no food, then 6 paces food, then no food, a corner and then an article. Then I did a straight line with some food in the middle then an article. Pie seemed confident and did fine. We meandered around the park doing lots of short legs, corners and some food. Pie just got better and better. Next it was Fancy’s turn. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t use food with her since she seems to think she has lost the track when the food runs out. So remedial for her is short, short tracks. The articles are the things that give her confidence since she only finds those when she is correct.

The neat thing about where I was tracking is it is boarded by houses and there is a small hill in the park. Structures and hills (really anything other than flat ground) influence scent. Scent is kind of like a fog. It gathers in low lying areas and drifts on air currents. So while Fancy’s tracks/ legs were short and the articles plentiful, she still had some trouble due to the unexpected actions of the scent. I felt she gained confidence by the end of our session.

Which brings us to Tracking Update 4. At lunch today I took 4 articles and laid a short track with many turns for Pie. It had drizzled earlier today (weird!) and I could see my path, plus I was careful to use landmarks like “left and parallel the patch of dead grass,” “ right at the soccer net,” and “article next to the man hole cover.” (You don’t see too may manhole covers in a soccer field.) Yep, Pie was pretty much perfect! (It was an I love tracking day.) She didn’t get lost, she went at an ok speed, and was very confident.

Dottie’s turn- that dog can track. She has maybe too much confidence and that causes her to go fast and over shoot corners. If I can get some strong corrections in she will slow down but it is refreshing to NOT be working a wilting flower. I tracked her on the other side of the parking lot and here the grass was deeper and I could really see my footsteps. Again I started off with 4 articles then after we were done with that did “extra legs.” This is where I leave the dog in a down and do a leg with the dog watching. It is nice because it makes it harder (but not impossible) to forget where I just was, and the dog sees me putting the article down, so they know it is out there somewhere, and if they get into trouble they will keep working. I always end tracks this way. I just realized something. When I started tracking, I couldn’t do this with Dottie- she didn’t know how to hold a down! That shows how long I’ve been tracking… I thought Dottie needed a challenge so I tracked her over 2 consecutive plastic utility covers. It wasn’t so much the plastic that gave her problems, but the fact that they were recessed pretty far into the ground, so I’m sure that messed the scent up. She eventually figured it out and it was good problem solving.

Next up, speaking of “problems”- Fancy. The wilting flower herself. She started off down her track- then had a bathroom break. She’s never done this before so I ignored it. The odd part was it was more like marking (which she does do) than actually having to go. She looked at me, then volunteered to track again. But then she stopped and had another tinkle. This time I corrected and she started up again, made the corner and stopped to sniff a tree. I told her to keep tracking, which she ignored, so I corrected her again. 2 corrections in a short time was too much for her and she tried to refuse to do anything. Luckily for me that article was about 2 feet away so I was able to convince her to take a step, and then she found it. Whew. We started up again and now she was tracking, but slower than a snail’s pace. (Dottie is too fast, Fancy too slow.) Slowness is not bad. But this slow for Fancy is bad because it meant she was not happy. However, I was smart and put her articles close (smart for once) and after she found the next 2 easily she got more confident. K pointed out Fancy keeps her foot on the track to check different locations but make sure she doesn’t lose the last known location and I saw Fancy doing this during this track. Very cool, Fancy. After the last article, I did the extra legs and Fancy got more and more confident. At one point I tracked up to a chain link fence then turned left. Fancy followed the scent up to the fence, then seemed lost. She tried to go right, but that wasn’t it. Then she came back to me, but that wasn’t it. Back to the fence. She soon found it and we continued on. Later I realized the wind was blowing from behind, pushing the scent through the fence and she was confused because to her, the smell kept going, but there was a barrier in her way. The fact that she checked (in her mind) random directions and didn’t just quit is great!

Yeah tracking! I love tracking! (Today. Cue ominous music…)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tracking Update 3

Tracking is making me seem like someone who suffers from Manic Depressive Personality Disorder. Highs and lows. 2 days ago was a high. And today a low. Tracking at lunch, for once, no wind. I laid a long track with only 2 turns for Pie (and only 2 articles.) Then short tracks with lots of turns for Dottie and Fancy. I let Pie’s track age while I got Dottie out. Dottie was acceptable. She wasn’t very precise, but found all the articles. It is going to be a problem, her waiting while I walk the 30 feet to get to her. The “bothering” of the articles is just points, but the first 2 times she laid down, then got up and came to me.

Fancy was terrible. I think maybe she’s only been tracking one time in her life. And I was terrible also. After the first article, I walked the next leg to make sure I knew where it went, and I didn’t. I ended up back tracking the entire thing, picking up my articles.

Next, Pie’s turn. She wandered around the scent pad, panting and couldn’t find the first leg (hint- it went straight.) I eventually tossed food along the track, which she found, but still wouldn’t move forward. Finally, she found the leg and with much trying to wander off of it, we moved forward. She got the first turn, finally got to the article, but couldn’t get the second turn then when I took her too it, we couldn’t finish the last leg. I went and got the article and we did a super short few paces, turn, article. (She had trouble with that too.) I think Pie has probably never tracked in her entire life. Certainly she has never done a full length SchH 1 track just 2 days ago.

Was Pie picking up on my frustrations over Fancy, maybe the fact that my lunch break was almost over and I felt rushed, AND I was so hungry I felt weak? Was that stressing her out? When she stresses she pants and it is impossible to pant and sniff and the same time, and Pie has never dealt with stress well. Pie feels stress and she stops working.

So the plan is to go home, eat lunch/ dinner, then do some short tracks with both Pie and Fancy to increase confidence. Mine and theirs. In the meantime, just medicate me now- I can’t take much more of the rollercoaster. I love tracking- it is so cool! I hate tracking- I never know where my track went and my dogs are terrible! I love tracking- we just passed a practice SchH 1! I hate tracking- Dottie’s a spaz and Pie and Fancy haven’t got a clue. Why? Why??

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tracking Update 2

Another post about tracking. I’m obsessing about this for 2 reasons. 1) I don’t want to fail in the trial that is a month away. 2) I’ve never trained tracking before so everything is new and it is all very mysterious. For example I learned on Monday when I went dirt tracking with some people from the club that buildings influence wind. I guess that is obvious, but I never took it into consideration before. Fancy was having some trouble on her track (she eventually got it) and I was told the wind coming over the building and trees next to us was doing really strange things to the scent. To me, it looked like Fancy was completely lost or screwing around, but I guess she was just trying to unravel what she was smelling. I didn’t work the Malinois at all. I had done everyone already and lunch and they did well.

Next the group caravaned to some grass tracking for the newest German Shepherd Dog puppy. Last time I saw him he was very nicely following a trail of hot dogs. This time I think there were like 2 hot dogs on his track. He looked great.

Tuesday I tracked again at lunch (Pie went through a small swamp) then more dirt tracking right after work. The all knowing person from the club who has taught me everything I know so far about tracking (K) was there to help. She had me lay a SchH 1 track for each dog. NO food, but extra articles. Some people might think extra articles make it harder, but it is really easier because it reinforces to the dog that they are on the track and you can reward on the article. So, 100 paces out, right turn, 100 paces, right turn 100 paces and the end. The dirt was very soft and deep and I could see my footsteps. In addition to being very long with no food, K also had me stay back at the end of the line- 33 feet. I have NEVER worked that far back. Scary.

The dogs did A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. No, they were not perfect. Fancy got pretty far off track at the corner, Dottie and Pie both skipped the last article (?) but the good parts were they were so far away from me, kept working, did the rest of their articles great (Fancy thought about retrieving one, which is technically allowed but I didn’t teach it,) kept their heads down and looked like real tracking dogs. If you have experience tracking, esp SchH style, and you saw us, I’m sure you would not be impressed. But remember, these are the first dogs I’ve trained to do this, and I just proved to myself they can actually do it! When I got back from school in April, I took time off from tracking for carting, and Dottie’s CD. When I started back up again, Pie refused to track, Fancy sniffed randomly around, and Dottie was too frantic to concentrate. We were in a sorry state. With all of K’s help and my tracking pretty much every day, I still felt like we were not making progress. And yet, in the last week, it has FINALLY started to come together for all three dogs. Can you tell how happy and relieved I am? For me, agility and obedience training has always progressed at a steady and expected pace. Sure, we have problems, but for the most part I can train it and they get better. In tracking, I’ve always felt like I’m stumbling around in the dark with a bag on my head, my hands tied behind my back, and a little yappy bad tempered poodle snapping at my heels then couching pathetically when I try to scare it away. Actually, I don’t know what feeling the poodle is supposed to convey, my old landlady used to watch a dog like that so I threw him in. He was a toy poodle who actually would try to bite. Anyway, I felt frustrated, clueless, like we would never get it and I didn’t know how to fix it. But now that I have proof that we are on the right track and that we CAN do it, I feel great.

I can’t let it go- last week Fancy was pretending like she wasn’t even close to being ready. Like I was going to be wasting the judge’s time trying for her TR1, and then yesterday she ran a track on which she would have passed. Amazing.

So today I’m resting on my laurels, taking my lunch break to take a walk in the sun. I left the dogs at home, pretending I’m a normal person who doesn’t spend every single lunch training my dogs. (Actually most people have no clue that is where I go, although now since I change out of my uniform, people have started wondering what I’m up to.) Tomorrow we’ll be back at it- doing only grass for a while. Too much dirt tracking makes a dog lazy- using their eyes instead of their nose, because they can also see the footsteps in the dirt.

My training motto is still, “I REFUSE to fail tracking.” That will keep me from getting lazy. A failing track could be right around the corner- I guess that is a tracking pun.

Tracking Update 1 and Good By Charlie

I see I am getting a little bit behind.

After my awful training on Thursday, I headed out to my parent’s house after work on Friday to get a jump start on my drive up to Sacramento to drop Charlie off on his first leg of his journey to his new life as a detection dog for a department of corrections in a state above California.

The drive up to Sacramento was uneventful, except for all the drooling I did over all the great tracking fields. This time of the year they were all dirt. Last time I drove up here in October, they were all nice green grass. I got this picture of a turbine blade going by. Isn’t it huge?

Charlie was his typical rowdy self upon greeting his new transporter. He almost knocked the glasses off her face, but luckily he jumped right into her car and started chewing on the chew she had left for him behind the dog barrier so he didn’t destroy her car.

The further reports was the transport went well and he got to his new foster home and so far they love him. I agree he is a very nice boy, I just did not have time to keep him busy- which is always a bad thing for a dog like that.

On Sunday the SchH club was having training, so after dropping Charlie off I turned around and drove back to my parent’s house. About 12 hrs round trip. Stayed the night with them, then got up at 5:30 to get some more dirt tracking in before training. I had spotted a dirt field by my parent’s house that looked promising. It is hard for me to get up early on a weekend, but I was able to do it because I REFUSE TO FAIL TRACKING WITH PIE. The other 2… we will always have another trial. This is Pie’s one chance. Oh- had I not mentioned that? I decided to try for her SchH 1 at our trail in Sept. Speaking with more people, it seems I might have overreacted a bit in regards to her spondylosis. Since she is symptom free, this one time will not be detrimental to her health. As time goes on she will probably get less and less flexible, so it is best to stop high impact activities before any symptoms might appear. Hence this being our one try. Everything or nothing! With Pie, I do not expect to fail obedience. Protection is out of my hands. Either she does it or she doesn’t. That phase has a lot of training involved, but it really comes down to if the dog has the chops, or doesn’t. We were behind where I thought we should be on tracking, so I got up and did something about it.

When I got to the field it looked just as good as I thought. Yet there was a no trespassing sign. Drat. Violators will be prosecuted. Did that mean jail time, or just a fine? I decided Pie’s SchH1 was worth it and drove to the other side (away from the sign) and got to work. It went really well for all three dogs. Not perfect, but that is good- means there is learning happening. I didn’t lose my track, make anyone go the wrong way, or even get hurt! I did a short track with each dog- food in footsteps to reinforce, then a longer track with less food. Everyone was great! Fancy is not getting any food- it seems to distract her from tracking. When the food stops she seems to think she is wrong, off track, or just looses interest in moving forward and keeps sniffing were the food was. So no more food for her. The mals do not need the food, I just use it to reinforce putting their nose in each footstep. Works great for Pie- Dottie just skips the right foot step and food and only follows the left. Not very correct, but we will pass.

After over an hour of tracking and getting very dirty, I drove to Sunday morning SchH training – about an hour from the field which helps explain why I had to get up so early. Training went well. Pie is ignoring the gunshots nicely. Dottie is regressing on retrieves. It was Pie’s first time biting in about a month. How would she do?? She did great!! She did the entire routine minus the long bite and transport. Her drive (where she bites then the helper pushes her backwards with her hanging on and he hits her hard with the stick twice) was amazing for her. She used to hate that part. It puts a lot of pressure on the dog and a weak dog might not keep biting. Pie looked like a pro, and didn’t even resent (with whining or getting mouthy) the stick hits. It was really good. Let’s hope it stays that way for the next month! Dottie was… well… Dottie. She did the call out of the blind, which I’ve been training on my own and she hasn’t done correctly previously. So that was good. But otherwise we need more control work because she is only heeling away from the helper on my command with collar corrections- which are not allowed come trial day. We still have some work ahead of us, but Pie is looking good and that is all that matters to me!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How NOT To Train Tracking

If you had been with me tonight you would have been auditing a great seminar. I demonstrated just about every mistake you can make while training, including some that most people never make. One being allowing your knee to pop out and you end up in a heap in the dirt. That happened while I was trying to beat the setting sun and was jogging (carefully!) back to my car to get a dog. Seriously? I got injured while tracking??

I also lost my track, allowed my dog to track over an article without realizing it, corrected my dog for trying to go the right way, then allowed her to go the wrong way (more like forced her since I wouldn't let her go any other way), as well as missed a turn and continued blissfully along thinking we were going the right way. These things were not my dog's fault, they were mine, and by making them it really messes up our training. I get so frustrated with my inability to be a good tracking trainer. Why is it so hard for me? And why did I twice think I was following my footsteps only to learn they were not my footsteps at all? I think there might be something to the idea of buying a dog already trained to the SchH III then just trialing it. Let someone else who knows what they are doing train the dog. Because I sure don't. My ultimate goal is to get the Champion Tracker from AKC on all 3 dogs, but right I'm so far from that goal I lapped myself going backwards.

A Tail of Two Malinois

There was once a beautiful, well proportioned Malinois of exemplary temperament. This Malinois ended up in an animal shelter as an unclaimed stray. There are lots of great unclaimed dogs at shelters all over the country, but something about this dog seemed to say someone put thought and effort into producing such a great example of the breed. However, even a lazy breeder will get lucky eventually, so even though several people told her owner she looked like the dogs from Kennel X, it is just as likely she is the product of a random breeding done by someone hoping to make a quick profit. Then one day another person thought this Malinois looked like she was related to Kennel X, so her owner decided to take a chance and email Breeder X to see if he had any input. Now the owner is waiting and wondering- will the origin of the beautiful Malinois ever be known?

Once there was a somewhat funny looking, undersized, poorly built Maliois who at least had a cute head. This Malinois ended up in an animal shelter as a 10 week old puppy as an unclaimed stray. (Pause for narrator’s opinion- You must be pretty stupid to lose a 10 week old puppy. Now back to our story.) This Malinios looks like no other Malinois anyone has seen. Is she from show lines? Does that explain her delicate features? Is she so odd looking she is from a backyard breeding? Why does she have drive, but doesn’t have the same desire to please as a working dog should? No one can answer these questions and her origins will never be known, unless her owner is suddenly all knowing and all seeing and is able to learn things just by wondering about them.

Malinois Number One

Malinois Number Two

The End.

Epilogue- The email was sent several days ago and no word back yet. I'm guessing the breeder of Kennel X gets lots of weird emails from weird people and just deletes them since he (and she) is/ are busy people.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Hard Life

Must be hard, being a dog.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quiet Weekend

Spent a quiet weekend at my parent's house. Walked all the dogs to the groomers in the midday heat and dropped Fancy off. Asked for some water for the dogs (there were 4 left after Fancy left) and as I feared, they brought out a tiny bowl that wouldn't have satisfied a thirsty hamster, much less Pie who drinks about a gallon when she is hot. We walked down a few doors to the vets office who gave us a correct sized bowl and even a bottled water for the humans! Thanks vet where I got Dottie's rabies shot.

My brother is working on his Eagle Project, not without some roadblocks, the biggest being it has to be done by his 18th birthday which is in October.

Not too much else to report. Can't wait until next Saturday when I drive Charlie to Sacramento on the first leg of his journey to his new life. He is not a bad dog, but I am done with dealing with his hole digging, barking, destroying, peeing and terrifying the other dogs. Now that makes him sound like a bad dog, but he only acts like that because he doesn't get enough exercise or mental stimulation. His new life as a working dog will take care of all that.

My mom and I walked Bunny to a friend's house to show her off so our friend can help spread the word that Bunny is looking for a forever home. She should be easy to place since she is a great dog- just need to get the word out.

I'm looking forward to no foster dogs, just the three girls and I.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Pie has spondylosis.

I have attached some very good articles for people who don't know what this is, but basically it is the spine fusing itself together, using new bone growth. Many people say "spondylosis" when they mean many other diseases including degenerative disk disease. However, spondylosis only truly refers to this bone growth. True spondy without any complications is not painful. With a full spine fusion, the dog is not as flexible but should still be able to move fine. Spondy is an old age disease and most dogs get it as they age. Spondy is not arthritis, even though (again) many people will refer to it as such. Arthritis is the wearing away of cartilage so bone grates on bone, but spondy is new bone growth. I am trying to make this clear so my readers understand why I've made the choices I have regarding Pie. The articles I've attached are very helpful and I suggest reading them.

I've known Pie has had this disease for three years. When I got her hips x-rayed, the vet spotted it. He is a very well known orthopedic vet, so I trusted his instructions when he said I could do agility, but she might not be very competitive. He said no Frisbee or flyball. When I started SchH, I told the club about it when I joined, and we kept it in mind during training.

These are the x-rays from 3 years ago, when she was only 2 years old. I have added the arrows to show the locations of the bone growth.

Three years ago, top view. The x-ray the vet first spotted the spondy.

Three years ago, side view. Only 1 bridge.

I had her back re-xrayed last week to see how it is progressing. She slipped off the sleeve during training a few weeks ago, landed hard, limped a few steps, then seemed ok. However, in agility that weekend she was running slowly and when I trotted her out, seemed to be moving odd. I rested her for the rest of the weekend and she recovered. However, I thought it was possible it was related to her spondy, so decided on a follow up x-ray.

These are the x-rays taken at my vets. I've included both a scan of the x-ray and a close up picture taken of the x-ray. Click on any to enlarge.

Scan of side view of lower back and tail. The arrows show the full bridges or bridging started.

Close up picture of x-ray of lower back.

A dog spine with no spondy for comparison.

Scan of side view, thorax.

Picture of close up of thorax.

Scan of top of spine.

Picture of top of spine.

An x-ray of a healthy spine top view with no bridging for comparison.

Again I used the arrows to point it out. These are conventional x-rays and not nearly as clear as the digital, so it can be hard to see, and yet it is all too clear. Her back is almost completely fused. I don't know how she is as bendy as she is. True to form of the disease, she is not in pain.

It seems unusual it has progressed so fast (how do you grow so much bone in just three years?) and very severe for such a young dog. I sent her x-rays back to the vet who originally spotted it, and he said it can happen to a young dog (Pie is only supposed to be 5) and he suggested getting digital x-rays. But as I said in the previous post, what will that do for us? Some friends with Malinois have suggested it is possible she is older than thought, but we have no real way of telling.

Pie needs to remain active to keep her back strong and healthy. Pie wants to remain active. I have decided to allow her to continue in agility. I've moved her down to 20 inches for the rest of her career- that will allow her to continue to play, but will be less stress. If I went to shows with the other dogs, but did not allow her to participate she would feel punished, let down, jealous, or some other upset doggy emotion. I do not believe continuing in agility will hurt her back, but if it does, is it better for a dog to have a long life, or a fulfilled happy life? Since dogs to not understand longevity, I believe it is better to have a fulfilled, happy life. It is us who want them to live forever.

The vets prediction of her not being as competitive is coming true. Her weaves have slowed down dramatically. But that's fine. I love to run agility with Pie, but she loves it also. Win, loose, or end with me in a heap on the course (has happened more than I'd like to remember) she still has fun, although me falling down does upset her.

However, being the responsible party, I need to take steps to keep her safe. And that means no more SchH. SchH is a sport that is unpredictable and full contact. As safe as the helper tries to be, he can't help the dog if they don't bite hard enough and fall off the sleeve. This is very disappointing to me because our first trail was coming up on my birthday weekend next month and I was very much looking forward to trying for our first SchH title. Yes, I can still trial Dottie, but Pie is extra special to me because she is the first dog I trained in the sport, she has to work harder at it, and she has come so far. She deserves the title and the achievement.

We are only about a month away and it is so tempting to go for it. But the dangerous exercise is the long bite, where she would come flying down the full length of the field, full speed, launch her 60 pounds of Malinois muscle at the "bad guy," latch onto his sleeve, and get swung in a full circle with all her feet off the ground. That can be dangerous for a 100% healthy dog. If one of the bony bridges were to break, that is were the danger lies. It could pinch a nerve leading to pain, paralysis, or disk disease. Pie will still try for her obedience OB2 and tracking TR 1 at the trial, but no protection.

If you play dog sports enough, everyone will eventually face the heartbreak of a dog that dies too early (the worst) or gets injured and can't continue. I personally know many people who both of these have happened to. Pie and I are lucky because she is still in my life (the best) and she is not injured, so we can continue in tracking, obedience and even agility. No more Invitationals (they only take dogs jumping full height), and no AKC Nationals in Reno this year because she isn't qualified at the lower 20 inches. No USDAA ADCH- but to me the worst is the no SchH 1. And yet we still get to have fun together so I am focusing on that, but it still hurts that she will never again run the blinds, zoom past me with what looks like a smile on her face, and pop into a sit in front of the helper, and start her barking. Will she be confident today, or not so much? When I go to get Dottie, Pie still thinks it is her turn (because she always went first) and I can hear her tail- bang, bang, bang- wagging the side of the crate in anticipation. Sorry Pie, no turn for you.

We are lucky, yet I still feel sad.

Here are the very useful articles. I've learned more about canine spondylosis than I ever wanted to know.

New Event: Brace SchH

One night at training I didn't have enough crates. Dottie was left uncrated while I worked Pie. The windows were cracked about 6 inches. Apparently that is enough room for Dottie to weasel her way out and join us on the field! I saw her coming and shouted her name in exasperation, but no command because I knew it wouldn't be a problem. When Dottie showed up and started barking, Pie backed off in confusion, but then came back in. Here they are both tugging on the sleeve. They both got a bite at the same time- wish I had a picture of that!

Dottie's normal turn.

Pie anticipating her bite.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


More on these later. If you have a medical background (or a dog with the same problem) they speak for themselves. I'm considering spending the money for digital x-rays, but they will probably tell the same story, only more clearly. Like that country song, " should have seen it in color."

Pie- 5 year old Malinois

This has nothing to do with the badness, but see the things that look like stitches off to the left of her spine in the middle? Those are her surgical staples put in by the pound for her spay. You can feel them under her skin. Yuck. Why couldn't they stitch her up or use glue like a regular vet?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bun for Adoption

Adopt Me!

I'm putting Bunny up for adoption, deciding after all that I was fostering her all along. I think I knew this from the moment I told the animal control officer I'd take her. I had a thought saying, "Maybe I'll just foster her." And when people asked me if I was fostering or keeping her I told them "Keeping, probably." You'll notice I never changed my Blog Title, either. That will be the final step when I know for sure I am getting 4 dogs.

I actually made this decision a while back and have put the word out a few places, but am just now blogging about it. I can't justify 4 youngish dogs. If Bunny was old like I had planned, she would just sit on the couch, dozing and getting pets. As it is, she needs training, and exercise and all the things that a puppy needs to give them their fair amount of attention. So if you've liked what you've seen of Bunny in this Blog, send me a comment or if there is any other way to get a hold of me, you can use that. (Don't even know how to use my own blog....)

Bunny does have some training, but not enough to really count. She does not run away when off leash (no "Poodle Bolting for the Horizon Gene" here.) She loves to play with all dogs, even large ones. Her tail always wags. She's adorable. She has no aggression. I don't think she sheds but I won't guarantee that. She's adorable. She eats whatever you give her. She's crate trained. Some agility training. Adorable. Really, a great dog. Wish I didn't have to work, then I'd keep her. An ideal home for Bunny would have another playful dog and a person who takes good care of their dogs and if they have a problem, does not take them to the pound. (That is always my fear with placing dogs myself, rather than using a Rescue Organization.) Other than that, I think she'd fit into almost any home. Just be prepared for hyperness and don't have a muddy yard in conjunction with a white couch since she comes in from playing outside and does swan dives off the couch... just warning you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finally Getting It- Tracking! (and a video)

January 17th, 2010 is when I attended my first official tracking instruction . Over a year and a half ago. Finally, today, I can say I think I am finally "getting it." The same can be said for Dottie. Pie and Fancy are a tad further behind but are close on her heels. I've been working tracking pretty diligently, but when you don't know what you are doing, it doesn't matter how much you are working at it if you are doing it wrong! Luckily, when ever I go astray and tell my troubles to the SchH club all-knowledgeable trainer, she offers to go with me and then proceeds to give lots of good help and advise that works until I mess something up further down the line. Now the dogs and I are to the point where we are having more good days than bad days. Let's hope it continues! (By diligentally, I mean daily with a few breaks for Dottie's CD and the carting trial. Trust me, we have A LOT of tracking miles and miles and miles and miles and miles.)

For those that don't know, SchH style tracking is different than AKC tracking. First difference is you are graded on technique and style and loose points were AKC is pass/ fail and it doesn't matter how you do it as long as you get to the end. Kind of like the difference between hunters and jumpers in horses. Also in SchH the dogs usually indicate the article by lying down while most AKC dogs do a retrieve, at least in the TD.

I am extra lucky that my all-knowing SchH tracking trainer has also tracked Malinois and gave me many breed specific tips. GSDs are bred to have the calm, thoughtful tracking style SchH values. Mals are not selected for this and tend to have a frantic, rush to the end because I can smell the article from here style. As the video shows, Dottie is being very calm. I worked so hard for that.

I'm posting this video- it isn't perfect and I know we still have work to do. But we've worked so hard and I am so proud of the progress we have made.

Last Day in Big Bear

Yes, I've been home for almost a week now, but behind on posting.

On our last day we had to clean the cabin, pack, and head out by 11. After that all was done, it was way to early to head down the mountain. So we went to the dog friendly Big Bear Discovery Center, looked around, and asked about a nature walk, as we were not prepared nor dressed for a real hike. We were given a brochure and sent down the road for the Nature Walk. It is around 1.5 miles and "considered easy" according to the brochure. Yes, it was easy in that at no point did we need to repel down a rock face, but it also was not the leisurely stroll we were expecting. I think the main problem was it was boiling hot outside, and more humid than it has ever been (it rained later in the day.) Still, ffluffy, Pickle, Fancy, Bunny and I lived to tell the tale and post the pictures.

After the hike we went back into the Village for last minute window shopping, then headed down the mountain as it started to rain. Until next time, Good by Big Bear!

The first sight we saw. A large tree with millions of holes but there by birds to store acorns in. Wow!

The entire tree is covered in holes.

What would a walk/ hike be without posing by dogs? And look! Bunny is learning the fine art also.

More posing. This was- "Investigate the rings. What does it tell you about the tree?" Thrillsville.

Bunny posing in a different stump.

Bunny walking on leash like a normal dog (no need to comment on Fancy) while I read out loud from the brochure.

Fancy attempts to get in the stump.

Fluffy tastes a plant at the suggestion of the brochure. I forget what it was supposed to taste like.

A dead tree inside of a live tree and the end of the trail.

Good dogs!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big News!

Dottie earned her AXJ at the show last weekend, Qing both days in jumpers, after not having a Q in any class since the Memorial Day show in May. Still no Standard Qs but I think we are close. Our weave work paid off and she weaved nicely, popping out in the middle once because she was trying to go really fast. Which is an honest mistake that I am happy to have.

Pie was only entered Sat and got a QQ towards Mach 3.

Fancy did not QQ either day. Where did my consistent dog go? She told me by her slow speed that all this showing has finally started to bore her. I'm actually surprised (and happy) she kept a positive attitude at the shows for as long as she did with as much showing as we've been doing. I'll cut her back and that should keep her happy. But, it might impede our quest for 5 more QQs before November to qualify for AKC Nationals. Which would be ok because now I've started to think about not going. Time will tell, I suppose.

We actually got rained on during our drive to the show. I can't remember the last time it rained in So Cal in July.

I hurt my knee at SchH last night. Dottie did not care and continued onto the field without me to get a bite. I suppose that is the correct temperament for a protection dog. Can't be too concerned that your owner is laying on the ground that you don't protect them.

One of the other ladies ran Dottie for me at agility class tonight. It was fun for both of them. The lady who ran her has a dog more like Fancy, who needs extra motivation. She had fun running a faster dog, and Dottie had fun with all the exciting things the lady is used to doing to motivate her dog. Also, it was good for the stand in handler because Dottie does not forgive mistakes like her more seasoned dog, so she got to practice some handling she doesn't normally have to do. I should be back to running my own dog next week.

Another House Guest

A paying house guest! For those living in Ventura County, yes, I do "boarding." I put it quotes because it isn't really boarding. Your dog comes to live with me while you are gone and we hang out and everyone has fun.

Our current guest is Chipper, a Malteese/ Westie x. Interesting combination. I took these pictures for the owner's children because they wanted to know how he is doing. Pretty good, I'd say. He plays with Dottie just as well as Bunny does. Must be the terrier in both of them. No wilting flowers here.

He plays a lot.

That would be Chipper making a hasty exit to the right.

I actually have one more day of Big Bear pictures to post, I hope those will be done soonish.