Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Southwest Regional IPO 2 Champion!

Yes, Dottie and I were high IPO 2 at the Southwest Region Championship!  I will have a full report with videos forthcoming.  For now, here are a few photos.

IPO 2 Regional Champion and Handler!
Dottie doing her thing.

My video photographer for the weekend, youngest brother.  He did a great job!

The girls and I after the first day of competition.

Pie helping herself to a too small chair in the hotel room.

Three dogs and 2 people on the bed.  That is Hanky and B, our fellow competitors.  Fancy was pouting under the desk.
Tracking on rocks is always a challenge.  Especially when your line gets caught under the rocks.

After our track.  The stake Dottie is holding is the start flag for our track.  It has a foam German Shepherd on it.  Dottie carried it all the way back from the track.
I won 2 raffle baskets!
The scores for the weekend.  The slashes mean the competitor was disqualified and not allowed to go on.

The scoreboard and I.

Accepting our award.
B and Hanky won the Sportsmanship Award!  They very much deserved it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another Silly Video

This was taken at the place I give lessons on Wednesdays.  The tube is used to form concrete.  I think it is about a foot wide.  Not easy for Dottie to fit in, but she does!  I want to try Pie in it, but I don't think she will physically fit in.

Speaking of my Wednesday classes, we had a good turn out for this week.  5 dogs, who each brought a handler who listened nicely.

Tomorrow starts the big Southwest Regional IPO weekend!  Practice on Friday (8 minutes for obedience and only 5 for protection), obedience and protection on Saturday, then tracking on Sunday.  I decided to stay with club member B at her hotel for the social aspects.  Youngest brother has been hired to film our routines.  Good, bad, or ugly, I'll post the results here.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Dottie has been staying behind a baby gate instead of crated when I go out.  She has the small bathroom and a small hallway to stay in.  Nothing has ever been destroyed.  The shower curtain is not torn down, the bath rugs are not chewed or even nibbled, and there are no claw marks on the walls.

Therefore, when I went to church on Sunday I left her loose in the house for the entire hour!  Very daring!  Nothing was chewed, destroyed, broken, gotten into, or in any way distrubed.

So, I took an even bigger chance.  On Tuesday, I lever her loose in the house for the entire day.  Yes, the whole day.  The results were the same as on Sunday.  Is my puppy growing up?

Friends have suggested it is a fluke, she is just luring me into a false sense of security, she'll regress when she hits 8 years old (why is 8 the magic age) and/ or that now I should get a new puppy.  I prefer to think she is growing up and maturing.  The dogs hardly ever stay home these days- too much training to to do to waste even 1 lunch hour.  But next time they do, I'll leave her loose again and report the results.

Here is a short (true) story for your enjoyment.

Tracking with Dottie- I fell in a hole, onto my hands and knees, dropped the line, and she kept going. Not even a glance back. Shouldn't be surprised about that, but the funny part was me chasing after her tying to grab the line and it kept slipping just out of my reach. I got it eventually. Luckily there was an article coming up so if I was unable to catch the line, that hopefully would have stopped her.  But as I chased after her, futilely snatching at the line, wI must have made a pretty amusing picture.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shouldn't the Rain Make Them Frisky?

Malinois  (n) \mal-in-bad dog\  1: the breed of short coated, medium sized brown (with black overlay and black mask) dogs, originating in Belgium, slightly resembling a German Shepherd and well known for their keen mind and h̶i̶g̶h̶ ̶e̶n̶e̶r̶g̶y̶  apparent willingness to sleep on the couch all day, dead to the world, not even keeping busy chewing on a bone. 

Seriously, is there some kind of carbon monoxide poisoning going on in here that only affects dogs??

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dog Torture?

Yes or no?  *No dogs were harmed in the making of this picture.

I suppose the real question is if I should show this photo to the owner of the chi, who I am dog sitting....

Regional Practice

Today, the other competitor from my club, B, and her dog Hanky, headed out to the park in Acton to get in some obedience practice on the regional field.  We took her car, figuring it would be easier to put a small Dottie sized crate in her car, than a huge Hanky sized crate in my car.

We were lucky that the rain was done for the day, so we didn't get wet.  The address of the park is not listed on the website, but Acton is small enough that it only has one public park and we found it.

When we got to the park there was a group of young men playing soccer near the backdrop.  The website told us the field would use the backdrop as part of the fencing.  So we knew which part of the park to practice in.  We played with the dogs a bit, then worked them some, then the players came over and used the back drop as their goal (encroaching on the "field").  Then another group came and set all their equipment down right were we think the go out end was going to be.  The park had other places to practice, it was just our bad luck they wanted to play/ practice on the area of the park that will be used for the trial next week.  Eventually the second group moved off to the side, leaving a bag and soccer ball at the go out end.  Of course that won't be there trial day, so it was making it easier than it will be.  I sent Dottie anyway and she zoomed in on the ball, but downed when I told her.  Dottie wanted to down on the sit in motion, and wouldn't sit up out of the down for pickups.  Well, I don't expect my ob score to be that great anyway- lots to continue to work on.  The routine seems so simple, but when you break it down and train each tiny piece, it is not simple at all.  Then we just hung out a bit, walked around the entire park and when we were done with the little walk everyone had left so I sent Dottie for one more go, letting her get the toy.  B decided to do one more with Hank, and just as he was running back, that is when the cop showed up.  I have the worst luck with being allowed to train dogs off leash without getting in trouble!  I always get caught, kicked out, or told to leash up.  Darn!  The only times the dogs were off leash was for the go outs.  But off leash is off leash...

There was another dog group, who seemed to be training dogs for movie work.  At one point they wanted the dog to stand behind a chain link fence and bark.  He didn't seem to grasp the concept.  Fancy could have done it better.  One of their dogs looked like a Border Collie, pit bull mix.  Their dog was off leash, but they were gone by the time the cop showed up.  She (the cop) could tell we were not bothering anyone, but said in the past they've had lots of complaints, so she had to enforce it for everyone.  She was very nice and even apologetic and we didn't get a ticket, so that is good.  Luckily for our training, we really were done.

B and I were both surprised there were no other trial people practicing.  Maybe they couldn't find the park due to lack of an address on the website!  Or maybe they will show up for practiceon Sunday. 

On the Friday before the trail we will get 8 minutes to practice obedience and 5 minutes to practice protection.  Due to those tight time limits, it was nice to get on the field a head of time and let Dottie associate rewards with the location.  I just hope we guessed the go out direction correctly!

Gophers, the How To Guide

My dad recently published this post.  Here  Man Vs. Gopher.  As you may remember, I had good luck killing the gopher I had in my yard.  Since that conquest, I haven't had another one, although I've been keeping a lookout.  When taking the trash out the other day, I noticed the area on the other side of the driveway had some new mounds.  I'd let them live in piece if I had any kind of guarantee they would stay on that weed infested side of the driveway.  But, it would only be a matter of time until they tunneled under the driveway to munch on my tender grass roots.  So I set about to murder trap them.

Success!  The very next day, I had caught him.  And this time, the trap killed him, so I didn't even have to finish him off.  I will share my gopher trapping technique, in case anyone is interested.

I use the Macabee Ol' Reliable gopher trap.  You will need at least two.  I think they were around five dollars each at the hardware store.  I had to do some serious critical thinking in order to figure out how to set them because they are not like a rat snap trap where the pin keeps the trap open.  The backside of the pin actually keeps the trap open.

Click here if you are wondering how that works.

I know you need to anchor your traps or the gophers make off with them.  I have no idea what they do with them once they disappear.   I wasn't prepared and didn't have any twine, but I had a chewed leash.  I ended up using this, and now think the extra thickness might be a good idea to dissuade the vermin from chewing the tether and still making off with the trap.  Along with the tether, you also need an anchor.  The very first time, I tied the leash to a long pvc pole (a jump bar, actually) but after that I switched to a base from a stick in the ground pole.  That had the added benefit of doubling as a hole finder.

Rounding out your list of supplies should be a shovel, a hold finder (screwdriver) if your anchor won't do, and some gloves.

In order to trap one of the animals, you have to find an active hole.  Look for one with moist dirt on the mound, with a pebbly texture.  If the mound is smooth, it has been there a while and won't do.  Dig up the mound.  Take your hole finder and poke around on the inside of your hole until you find the 2 tunnels leaving the mound/ hole.  This is the part I have the most trouble with.  Sometimes I can't find the tunnels, and I have to fill the hole back in and try a different mound.  I don't know if I am just defective, or if the gophers have already abandoned this section and back filled the tunnels.  If you have 2 fresh mounds, you can also try digging a hole between the 2, and using the direction of the mounds to find the holes.

Once you have found the tunnels, use the hold finder to clean them out some more.  Then (with your gloves on!) reach into the holes as far as you can, getting a lay of the land.  I think I have an advantage here since my hands are small.  I can go in pretty far and figure out where the tunnels curve. 

Tie on your tether and set your traps.  Carefully put them into the holes as far as you can reach.  I think this is critical.  Probably the closer the gopher gets to the disturbance you've created, the more cautious he will be.  Since you've felt out the tunnel, you can be prepared for curves and can set it at a correct angle in the curve.  Since you have 2 traps, you put one in each tunnel so you catch the gopher no mater which way he comes.  Of course be sure to attach your tether to the anchor. 

I then carefully back fill the hole.  I feel that if you leave the entire hole open to the elements the gopher may wall off the tunnel before reaching the trap, fearing something tried to dig him out and it isn't safe anymore.  I say carefully fill in the hole so the falling dirt won't set off the trap.  They should be far enough down the tunnel that it isn't a problem.  Then, I leave an air hole or sun hole or something of the sort to lure the gopher to his waiting doom.  Who knows how many miles of tunnels they have under there.  By leaving the hole exposed a bit, I think that it encourages the gopher to come investigate.  He smells the fresh air or sees the light and wants to come see about fixing the problem.  If you filled it in completely, it could be more than a day before he comes back to the area with the traps, then you don't know if you should move the traps because he's moved on, or if he just hasn't been back that way yet.

Traps should be checked daily and continue to monitor the area after you catch him since gophers will move into vacant tunnels.

If you were not successful and have an empty trap, reset the trap at least one more day in the same location.  If you still did not catch anything, and especially if there are new mounds, move onto one of the new mounds.  Be careful with your traps, because sometimes even pulling them out does not trip them.  You do not want those pinchers going into your body (especially if they have left over gopher guts on them- yuck.)  I recommend tripping the trap with the shovel.

Notice I didn't mention poison at all.  I am afraid of poison due to the dogs.  A sick, poisoned gopher could be disoriented and wander out of his tunnel and die and then get eaten by a dog, which would then poison the dog.  Or, a dog could get into the stored poison.  It is just not something I want to risk, so I use traps only.

As described above is the method I have perfected over the month or so and two dead gophers that resulted.  Yes, not a long time of accumulated experience, and not a very high kill list, but so far my kill rate is 100%, so I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tracking Dog Certification

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Dottie and I passed our AKC Tracking Dog (TD) certification.  This is really a big accomplishment for me since I have never done an AKC tracking event before, and even though I trained all three of my current dogs for tracking at the same time, Dottie is the first dog who has been successful enough to certify.

The purpose of the TD certification is to be allowed to enter an actual tracking test.  In most parts of the US, tracking tests are few and far between due to lack of suitable land. Then, when there are tests, there are usually openings for only 3 dogs.  So the thinking is they don't want totally unprepared dogs entering, taking up a spot, then failing badly.

The certification is the exact same as an actual test.  It has all the same elements.  Once you pass, the AKC tracking judge who laid the track gives you 3 certificates that are good for a year and that you send in with each entry.  If you enter a test and don't get in (each test has a random draw, so hopefully my lucky streak comes into play) the secretary sends you the certificate back.  The only time you won't get a certificate back is if you enter the test then fail.  That way if you fail three tests in 1 year you will have to re-certify.

Dottie's certification track was held in an empty industrial lot in town, next to the freeway.  The cover was dead and very short and not uniform- mostly thin, but also some bare patches.  Lots of pokers, and huge ground squirrel and gopher mounds.  However, there was basically no wind, which is always nice.  The track was aged for 40 minuets.  The judge puts 1 article at the start for the dog to take up the scent, and one article at the end that the dog must find or you won't pass.  The track is a quarter of a mile long.  Which, for a SchH trained dog, is very, very long to go without an article.

I had a lot of confidence in Dottie since not only does she have a good nose and doesn't quit, but I can also read her very well.  She is very clear when she is on the scent, vs. when she is searching for it and when she thinks she is on it, but isn't 100% committed.

I have NEVER done a blind track before, where I have no idea where the track is and have to trust her.  Yes, it was hard, but since she is so clear in her signals, it wasn't as hard as it would have been if it had been Pie or Fancy who pretend they are tracking, but are really just guessing.  The other thing I haven't done before the certification is tracked her on a harness.  But I kind of liked it because it kept the line from getting wrapped around her leg so much if she gets into search mode.

Dottie circled a bit at some corners (we had 5) and in the middle of 1 leg had quite a bit of searching.  The judge thought she was sniffing the animals ("crittering") but Dottie doesn't do that when tracking.  It is possible all the animal scent confused her, and he also mentioned a man and his dog crossed the track, so that also might have confused her. The part that confused me was our last corner.  It was an obtuse angle, instead of the 90 degree angles I am used to.  I didn't realize an obtuse angle was allowed, so when Dottie took off at a direction not perpendicular to the way we were going, I wasn't sure what she was up to.  However, everything about her posture told me she was on the scent, so I followed along.  That was our last leg, and my agony of confusion was short lived since she found the wallet.  Most people use a glove, so the judge thought he was being funny when, after I indicated my dog found the article, he told me that wasn't his.  But, Dottie has never incorrectly indicated an article, so I didn't believe him. 

I have three entries ready to send off tomorrow.  2 in San Diego (3 hrs away) and 1 in Sacramento (8 hrs away).  Those are the closest tracking locations.  All 3 are in February.  I hope I get into one!  If not, there are a few more coming up in March. 

Next I have to work on aging the track more because for the Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) the track will be aged from 3-5 hours!

New IPO Rules Seminar

The second weekend in January was the weekend I had to work, but I took it off.  I get to miss one a fiscal year and I decided this was a good one to miss.  Not only was there a 2 day seminar I wanted to attend, but the closer we get to our inspection at work, the less likely I will be to receive approval for time off.

The seminar I wanted to attend was put on by our SchH club and was regarding the new rules that go along with the name change from SchH to IPO.  (I may be boycotting the term IPO.  Now that I know what it translates to, it is just so dumb.  Like calling agility, “NR”  National Regulations.  That is what you call the rules governing your sport, not the actual sport.)  In the morning there was a slide show, followed by Q/A, then lunch, then some demos on the field, then the field was opened up for practice. 
The slide show was informative, the Q/A not so much because people just need to pay better attention.  Lunch was good.  I got put in charge of the hot dogs on the open flame grill and I got smoked out and then my fire went out (just add more wood next time.)  The demos were helpful and Dottie gave a demo of how not to approach the start flag on a track. The dog should be walking calmly, not dragging you.  I can’t help it if she gets excited to track.  I heard afterwards some people were impressed that she took up the scent and followed the track on the training field where everyone had been walking all day.   She really likes to track.  Then we got in some protection work on a helper she’s never worked with before.  I had him yell really loud at her on the long bite in prep for the regional.  She did well.  Except for the back transport.  We just don’t know how to do that yet.

Then the next day most people went home and the seminar was a new helper classification and current helper re-certification.  I am not interested in being a helper (I don’t need a big dog crashing into my knees and popping them out, I handle that just fine on my own) but by watching and listening, I learned a lot about how to spot a good helper vs. one who needs more work. This was only addressing trial helper work, which is very different than a training helper.  Then all of the helpers had to work dogs thought out the day, and also do a full SchH 3 routine with a dog they didn’t know.  Dottie helped out here, and again it was great for her to get on different helpers.  During the practice, it was evident some of the helpers were more skilled than others.  The brand new guy almost ran me over on the back transport (another reason I can’t be a helper, I don’t think fast enough- I almost neglected to get out of the way!) and another guy tripped over a dog, who then came off the sleeve, and it was good on the dog’s part to re-grip on the sleeve, and not on the body part that was closest to his mouth (the man’s rear end. Ouch.)

During Dottie’s routine, she was very good, again except on the back transport.  And she was a bit dirty with getting in little bites on the outs.  But not too bad for a little girl. It gave me confidence to see her work with a helper she didn’t know.  I’m told the helper at the regional pressures the dogs a lot, so I wanted to be sure she was ready for that.

It was a great weekend, very educational, fun, and any weekend I’m not at work is an even better than great weekend.
Also, one more note- the "judge" in the video was our normal helper, so Dottie gave him a second look during the side transport when we report into him. Wondering, "What are you doing here without the sleeve?"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Southwest Region IPO Trial

IPO= Schutzhund.  Due to political reasons, Germany no longer calls protection sport Schutzhund and since it originated in Germany, our United States club followed their lead and calls it IPO now as well.  What does IPO stand for?  Good question.  I had to look it up:  Internationale Prüfungs-Ordnung.  Then I used Google Translate to see what that means.  It says:  International auditing rules.  Ummm....?  or International Exam Rules, which makes a tiny bit more sense but what type of exam?

That is actually a topic for a different post.  This post is about the fact that I entered Dottie in the Southwest Region trial.  We are listed here  (click).  It is in 2 weeks and we are trialing for our IPO 2.  We can't expect to win the trial.  Right now we are being a bit sloppy in obedience and protection.  But I hope to put in a good effort with my tiny little female.  Most of the other dogs entered, if not all, are males.  That is because males have the testosterone needed to be aggressive and brave.  Dottie just has heart.  And lots of it.

We will be on a strange field, with a helper she has never worked with before, under more difficult grading conditions.  (In this sport, at Regional and National level competitions, they score you differently than at local trials.)

Next weekend, we are heading down to practice on the obedience field.  The Southwest region is very large, but we are lucky that the trial is about 1.5 hrs away.  Last year it was in AZ.  One other lady from my club entered, so we are offering each other lots of support.  For both of us this is our first Regional level competition and our second competition ever.  Lots to be nervous about, but we are tying to keep it under control.

2nd Hike

On or around New Year's Day (yes, I'm that far behind) Dad and I took a short hike up in the local hills.  A dirt access/ fire road that usually has a closed gate had an open date, so we drove up in the jeep.  Once there, we started off, only to run into several bikes coming up the hill.  After running into a second, separate group of bikes, we peeled off onto a smaller trail.  It turns out this trail was quite a find!  It went into a canyon that had more varied terrain and pretty vegetation and generally interesting things to see than if we had stayed on the main roads.

However, the same bikes who we were encountering on the main road, also knew about this great trail.  We ran into a lot of bikes.  Which is a problem since the dogs are off leash.  The dogs don't bother the bikes, but the polite thing to do is gather the dogs up, step off the trail, and allow the bikes to pass.  There were so many bikes that this was becoming tiresome.  And another problem is Pie ranges so far out it takes her a while to get back to me when I call her.

Once nice rider we spoke to had a cow bell on his bike so he didn't sneak up on hikers or other unsuspecting people.  We saw him coming and I called Pie but she didn't show up.  He stoped to chat and let me know that before I called her, she was down over the side, came up in front of him, trotted along the path a few feet, then ran up the other side of the hill.  Didn't even glance at him.  I think Pie wants to be a feral dog.

We also ran into a lady leading her horse (he is older and just carries the water) and 2 dogs.  A lab and German Shepherd.  They didn't come when she called and I eventually had to lead the lab back to her.  This was after I bashed him with my walking stick because he barreled into our sitting pack of dogs without slowing down or offering any body language  indicating what he was up to.  He didn't mind the bashing.  I'm glad I didn't upset him, but I'm also glad he wasn't aggressive, since the bashing didn't have any effect on him.  Pie totally ignored the horse, which is good since in the past she has given me mixed signals regarding horses.

It was a nice hike, except for the inconvenience of the bikes.  A bit windy up on the main roads but really nice down in the canyon.

 Starting off.

This is the way we are headed.

Dad inspects.
Fancy waits for us.
Molly stays close.
A really neat trail that went into a canyon with lots of shade, green vegetation and small ups and downs.
Dottie also stays pretty close.
Heading out of the canyon.
An "artifact" we had the dogs pose with.

I pose with the artifact and Pie wonders why Fancy's head what accidentally left out of the photo.
Done with the interesting trail and back on a fire road.
I like our shadows in this picture.  Pie ran the most in the beginning, and she is still running out ahead.
Obligatory Dottie stick picture.  It bends the opposite way from her tail.
Heading back out.
Dottie likes the jeep.
So do Fancy and Pie.  Notice my parent's good dogs are not constantly poking over the seats.

One Day Agility Trial

Even with multiple issues, the ribbons say we had good results. Fancy: MXP title and QQ number 8. Pie: QQ Number 9. I liked our jumpers run, it went well.

Dottie, double nq. Lots and lots of problems and I made a bad choice to carry her off in our second run when I couldn't take it anymore. I think that demoralized her. Sorry Dottie.

Friday, January 13, 2012


No, I haven't heard of it, why do you bring it up?

Luckily my dogs only occasionally heal like this... Yikes.


Smooth Fancy.

Poofy Fancy.

Sometimes Dottie thinks she was better off in the shelter.

Taken at the New Year's Trial. I went Thursday and Friday only. Dottie was entered 2 days and Fancy and Pie one day each. Pie got a QQ and the other 2 got 1 Q each. FFluffy was here so that made it extra fun.

Christmas Day Hike

I had a nice post about the new Blogger format and how it was easier to use, but I accidentally went back a page using a keyboard shortcut (I suppose, since I didn't use the mouse to hit back) and my draft was not autosaved like it usually is and I lost it all. Then, I couldn't get the new format to load pictures anymore. I struggled with it much longer than I should have. Finally, I gave up and went back to the old format. Really frustrating. Back to loading images 5 at a time that then show up in a totally random order, but at least they are loading. Since these are just hiking pictures, I won't fix the order either. I've already spent too long on this post.

This was before dinner on Christmas. Just the dogs and I went to the abandoned road and hung out, climbed stuff, swam, and took pictures. We didn't cover very many miles, but had fun anyway.

Pie runs. Or hovers.

Pie run take 2.

Still running.

Now Fancy runs.

More again.

An artistic photo. Or just my camera being broken and not getting the exposure right.

Running on a hill.

Dottie runs on the flat.

Fancy poses nicely.

I'm outta here.

Fancy is lord of her domain.

I think her expression is extra cute.

Dottie ran up and down this hill because it was fun.

Do you see what I see? (A star, a star, shinning in the night?) I'm guessing that is not what she sees.

Do you see Fancy?

Fancy practices hovering also.

Fancy and Pie, can you hear me down there?

Whoa. Attack of the Dottie.

She should be a Cover Girl.

Fluffy Fancy says it is more fun to run with your eyes closed.

Pretty Pie.

Really, Dottie? Can't you find a normal stick?

Sharing. How nice.


Playing with the long but skinny stick.
A large piece of the dam. The road is not abandoned due to the dam, FYI. The dam broke a long time ago. The 30's perhaps? The road is abandoned due to more recent flooding and it washed away in several sections so they built a new road.

Dottie takes a sobriety test. She passed. The allergies on the back of her legs come and go. They are here in the picture but are gone in the present time.

Using the timer function. Dottie does not like climbing on large rocks. Weirdo.

We climbed up this steep, slippery embankment.

Posing on a piece of the dam from the San Fransquito Dam disaster.

After the hike was more visiting and then dinner!

Dinner was 100% good. I wish I was eating that oh so moist turkey and all the fixings again right now!

After the hike, brother and ladyfriend arrived for dinner and more presents.

Brother and ladyfriend with his new grill to go with his new house (the house was not a Christmas gift, but was bought recently.)

And finally...

Molly (parent's dog) with a piece of a toy one of my bad dogs chewed off of her toy. However, all is not terrible since the smaller the scrap of fabric is, the more she seems to like it.