Thursday, May 25, 2017

Barn Hunt Blues

I’ve mentioned Barn Hunt several times. (And lucky you, I will mention it many more!) Unfortunately, there isn’t a place to train in Jacksonville. We’ve taken a couple workshops at Dare2Train in Deland (about 90 minutes away) and then trial with our fingers crossed. Because of work and other commitments, We only get to compete every other month – with varying results. Here's our journey so far:

On New Year’s Eve we took an Intro Workshop and had so much fun that I signed up for a Tunnel and Climb Workshop and a day of trials two weeks later. Jedi got a leg toward his Novice title. I was thrilled.

In March I signed Jedi up for two days of trials (4 runs total) hoping he could pick up the last two legs. Jedi kicked ass! On Saturday he found the rats right away, climbed like a mountain goat and tunneled with no hesitation. We earned two legs, two first place ribbons, his Novice title (RATN) and High in Trial for the fastest time!

I had paid for the second day, just in case we blew a run or two. So I said WTH and moved up to the next level. Open is more challenging. It has two rats and an L–shaped tunnel (versus the one rat and straight tunnel of Novice). Jedi found a rat and climbed right away. The darker tunnel didn’t slow him down either. He ran through and jumped on me in excitement. I told him to “Find the rat” and he ran through the tunnel a second time! Everybody laughed at his enthusiasm. I told him again, “Find the rat” and he gave me the German shepherd head tilt. He was confused. We had never trained with two rats before. I told him “There’s another rat. Find the rat.” He tilted his head again and I started directing him to hay bales. He figured it out and found the second rat with less than 4 seconds to spare. I was shocked! The second trial was not as productive. He was distracted by a loose dog outside the ring and couldn’t have cared less about the rats. That left us needing 2 more legs for his Open (RATO) title.

Dare2Train doesn’t hold trials during the warmer months. They had their final trial the same weekend as my German Shepherd Dog Club’s dog shows so we missed it. I was worried that Jedi would lose momentum and we’d have to retrain him in October. Then I found G2 Barn Hunt, another venue that does Barn Hunt in Morriston. I told Hubby that we'd attempt to finish Open and then wait until fall to attempt the next level (Senior has 4 rats and 2-3 turns in the tunnel.) Morriston is 2 1/2 hours away and on the opposite side of Ocala. We had to stay in a hotel for this trip, adding to the cost. I signed Jedi up for Friday and Saturday on Mothers Day weekend, for a total of 4 runs.

We only needed two legs again, but I wanted some wiggle room in case we blew a run or two. Handler error is always a possibility and I didn't want to blow it for us. We left the hotel Friday morning with an estimated 45 minutes of wiggle room. However, we soon discovered that Morriston is in the middle of nowhere. We lost cell service (including GPS) and then we were just lost. I freaked out, especially when I discovered that gas stations don't sell maps anymore. Hubby was able to channel his inner Daniel Boone and we arrived just in time. We ran twice and Jedi found ZERO rats. He climbed and tunneled, but didn’t even look for a rat. I assumed he was picking up on my stress (I hate being late) and was thrown off by the change of venue. We tried to remember landmarks on the way out and went back to the hotel. Unfortunately, the next day wasn’t any better. It was raining like crazy. Jedi climbed, refused to tunnel and found one rat. It was an expensive, no-good weekend. (But still better than working!)
It's official! And I'm hooked.
So now we have some decisions to make. G2 runs monthly trials all summer. (It’s a nice, well shaded venue.) Do we want to continue to try for Open? Or do we wait until Dare2Train reopens on the Fall? And realistically, will we have time in the Fall to Barn Hunt? We've already committed to nosework trials. And the Tuesday Training Crew would like to enter K-9 Obedience Club’s October rally trial as a group. There is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do with my dog. Unless I can win the lottery and dump this 40 hr/week job and hire someone to handle the domestic stuff, I have to prioritize my efforts. Other things get left behind. It sucks. I’ll let you know what happens. TTFN, --K

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sarcasm Among Friends

I'm trying to convince myself to fork out
the money to buy this shirt
I admitted to you earlier that my life is crazy. I've also told you in the past that my job has its crazy moments. In fact, work stories are my most popular posts that don't involve Russians and poop. I swear I'm not making this stuff up! To prove it to you, I've cut and pasted texts and Facebook posts sent to my closest friends as things were happening. As usual, names have been redacted to protect my ass.
WARNING: Unedited Kelley contains profanity and heavy sarcasm. Sensitive people should leave now. I promise to be more civilized tomorrow. Maybe.
These were texted to an ACO friend:

This is what I came into this morning: Some idiot saw a raccoon in his yard “during the day.” Instead of shooing it away he decided to kill it with an axe. Blood spattered all over him and now he's freaking the fuck out. "OMG, What if it has rabies?" Dumbass. Plus, there's a dead sea turtle on the beach, feral cats are running amok at the condos and somehow a 12-year old got bit by a 3-legged dog. I've only been here three hours. Shoot me now!

My you're-not-going-to-believe-it story for today: I get a call about a dog running at large. When I get the dog, the complainant says the same dog has been out multiple times in the past 3-4 days. Before I can leave the scene, a woman drives up and says that it's her dog. And then she starts yelling at me for picking it up because she “would have gotten it eventually.” No shit! The kicker: she knows her fence is busted, but let's dog out anyway. She's really nasty too. I tell her that I'm citing her for RAL. First said she won't give me her license. Changes her mind when I told her no license, no dog; I won't release dog to anonymous people. Then she won't give me her local address (has an out-of-state license). So I call for an assist. [Redacted] shows up with his trainee. I write the ticket but woman wouldn't quit arguing. Then she says she isn't going to leave until PD does because she's afraid we're going to talk about her. She continues to argue. [Redacted] again tells her she should take her dog home. "No, I want to know what you're talking about.” So he says, “We can talk about the fact that your plates are expired, but I really think you should just go home.” She can’t take a hint and continues to argue! (And I'M the unreasonable bitch?!) So [redacted] asks for her license, registration and proof of insurance. When I left the scene she was receiving yet another ticket. Some people need to learn to shut. the. fuck. up.

The following were FB posts. It was a rough week.

Hubby posted this on Facebook and
tagged me. He wrote "I saw this and
immediately thought of my wife!
Those of you who actually know her,
know how true this!" Thanks Honey.
Dear Animal Lovers: Things die -- pelicans, turtles, raccoons, armadillos, squirrels, cats, etc. Sometimes they even die on the beach. It's OK. Yes, I know that there are children out there who might see them. They'll be fine. I promise you, many people have seen a dead animal and gone on to live happy, productive lives.

[Caller was worried that children might see a dead armadillo on the beach. I didn't tell him that as a child I used to poke dead squirrels with a stick. It might not have helped my argument.]

Dear Animal Lovers: Ducks are allowed to eat alongside a busy road. You don't have to call the police. P.S. True story!

[Caller wanted Animal Control to help the ducks cross the street. Yes, the dispatcher reminded Caller that ducks can fly. Caller was adamant and I was sent to the location anyway. Ducks, however, did not want assistance and were left alone.]

Dear Animal Lovers: It's not considered "rescue" if you take in a sick, emaciated dog only to dump it on Animal Control 24 hours later. The fact that your own dog is dog aggressive (and you knew it before hand) is just a lame excuse. BTW, if you had left the animal with the piece of shit owner and called us instead, we may have been able to file cruelty charges. You're not a "big-hearted rescuer," you're an enabler. P.S. Right now I hate Animal Planet. It gives too many stupid people delusions of grandeur.

[Idiot.]

Today's Public Service Announcement: It's hot outside. If you're taking your wife out for brunch, please leave your dogs at home. If you leave them in the car you WILL receive a $505 cruelty ticket. Yes, Animal Control works on Mothers Day.

[Guess who was a real mother on Mothers Day -- ME! BTW, it was 85 degrees outside and the dogs were wearing sweaters. Stupid UF Gator sweaters at that!]

I posted this picture on Facebook. (Seriously, who doesn't love Achmed the Dead Terrorist?) Anyway, under the picture I wrote "I'm in a particularly foul mood today. Please note that all emails and texts will be dripping with sarcasm. Also, if you see a fork in my hand make sure to cover your eyes. I swear, I'm going to fork somebody today!"

Some days I really hate my job. I feel like it's sucking the life out of me. But I ask myself, "Where would I go? What would I do?" Surely an office job wouldn't provide stories like this. And do I really want to be tied to a desk? Then I put on my big-girl panties and try to find the humor in things. As my father used to tell me:
Sometimes life gets to a point where all you can do is laugh or cry. You may as well laugh; crying will just mess up your makeup.
Hope you had a good chuckle at my expense. Later, - - K

Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm Not Dead Yet

And once again I’m writing an “I’m not dead” post. Surprise! Yeah, I have reasons for my extended absence. Some are good, some not so much. Regardless, I’ll share them below. But to be honest with you, my life is crazy. I’m disorganized. I make great plans but my follow-through sucks. And even though I know better, I try to do too much and become overwhelmed. At that point I revert to my old standbys: booze, brownies and profanity. (Mmmm . . . brownies.) Humor, sarcasm and caffeine are the threads that holds my ragged, overstuffed life together. I'm a mess. So, what's been keeping me away from the keyboard?
One of 40 raccoons I've handled over
the last five months
  • Work -- My job is just as crazy as I am. But it’s fun (sometimes) and it's rarely boring. Click on “Animal Control” on the right to see some of weird stuff I deal with. And stick around! I’m working on another "crazy work stories" post now.
  • Raccoons, Coyotes and Yuppies -- Currently they are the bane of my existence. I’ll try to explain more when I can use polite words. It may take a while.
  • My Health -- So, diabetes sucks. It exacerbates everything. For example, what I thought was a simple stye became a raging infection, encompassing half my face in less than 24 hours. The antibiotics for that gave me a yeast infection which quickly mutated to a kidney infection. I spent waaay too much time in the doctor’s office. I’m thankful for health insurance (and kick-ass painkillers), but damn . . .
  • German Shepherd Dog Club -- It’s a busy time of year for us. I’ve been working hard to energize the club with various activities. Plus we had our annual dog shows last month. As President everything passes through me, despite my efforts to delegate. I enjoy the position, but it’s more time consuming than I had imagined. Fortunately my term ends next month, giving me more time for "other stuff." Even better, the woman taking my place is awesome. I’m excited to see what she has in store for us.
  • Training -- Jedi and I train formally twice a week. We have obedience/rally class on Tuesdays and nosework class on Thursdays. I try to squeeze in practice at home when possible. (Reread paragraph one to guess how that’s going.)
  • Barn Hunt -- Jedi and I are loving Barn Hunt! We been trialing every other month since January. Unfortunately, there is no place to train locally. We take workshops when possible and go into the ring with fingers crossed. I promise to tell you all about it soon -- whether you want to hear it or not!
So I’m going to wrap this up for now. I'm trying to write individual posts elaborating on the points above. I'll post again soon. Thanks for sticking around. -- K

Friday, March 10, 2017

Two New AKC Title Opportunities

The AKC has released some interesting news lately. Two new dogs sports have been added to the AKC. Both of them are things that I'm very, very interested in.

Scent Work:

The AKC has finally gotten into the nose work. The AKC program (they call it scent work) differs slightly from both UKC and NACSW. The differences may confuse handlers competing with other organizations, but they are similar enough that dogs should have no problem. (Seriously, Jedi's part is: Find odor, tell Mom, wait for treat. I'm the one who has to worry about the rules.)

AKC divides Scent Work into two divisions -- Odor Search and Handler Discrimination.
  • The Odor Search division has dogs searching for specific essential oils, just like the other two organizations. Birch, anise and clove will be the target odors again. AKC is also adding peppermint. Like the other two organizations, the dog will have to find target odors in containers, interior and exterior searches. No vehicle searches will be offered under AKC. However, dogs will have to find odor buried underground. I'm not sure how that's going to work. I'll let you know when I find out.
  • The second division will be Handler Discrimination, much like UKC. Dogs will be required to find an article with the scent of their Handler.
AKC scent work has four difficulty levels: Novice, Advanced, Excellent and Master. In comparison, UKC has five levels and NACSW has three.


Trick Dog:

This is the second title program. It was announced on Tuesday, and I can't tell you how thrilled I am. I've always been a fan of Kyra Sundance and her organization, Do More With Your Dog. Well, the AKC and Kyra Sundance have teamed up to offer Trick Dog titles. You can see the press release here.

The AKC will offer four Trick Dog title levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Performer. The tricks required for titles get progressively more difficult as you move along.

For the first three levels tricks must be performed in front of an official evaluator. It looks like an AKC CGC evaluator can sign off on the tricks. In fact, for the Novice level a CGC title counts for half of the 10 required tricks. Jedi has one of those! There is a list of 20 options for other five tricks. I looked it over and Jedi could earn the Novice title tomorrow if I could find someone sign off on it!

The Performer title is a lot more complicated. The dog has to do a total of 10 tricks from the Novice, Intermediate and Advanced title requirements, and the dog must have earned all three of those titles previously. No food lures can be used in performing the tricks. The tricks must be made into a routine, and the routine needs to be on a video that is submitted to the AKC for review. Fancy schmancy! I don't know if I'm talented enough to pull that together. -- No worries. We'll think about that later.

Right now I'm really excited at the thought of Jedi earning new titles this year. I'm going to keep my eyes open for scent work trials and look for a CGC evaluator who is as excited about the new trick titles as I am. Who wants to join me?

Before we go I need to tell you that there is one caveat. Like all AKC dog sports, a dog must have an AKC number to participate in Scent Work and Trick Dog competitions. Don't have one? No problem! If your dog is obviously a purebred, you can get a PAL (Purebred Alternative Listing) number. You take some pictures, fill out of form and send in a fee. A few weeks later you'll be good to go. Information here.

And what if your dog is not a purebred? Still not a problem! If your dog is a mixed breed, you can get a Canine Partner number. Just fill out a form and send in a fee. Information here.

See, there is no reason why you can't get out and compete with your dog. WARNING: It's so fun that it's addictive! My dilemma -- I don't know where I'm going to find the additional time and money to pursue these new things. I just need to win the lottery so I can be a full-time dog mom. That would solve everything! -- K

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Traveling With Your Pets

While on my blogging hiatus, Hubby, the kids and I had to take a sudden trip up north to visit his parents. Here's some dog math for you:

Last Minute Trip + Over-the-Holidays = No Boarding Available

It was stressful, but we took the dogs with us. They did surprisingly well. I packed their food in serving-sized bags, individually labelled (each dog is on a different formula). I had leashes, bowls, medication, poop bags, a doggie first aid kit and shot records in a specially designated dog bag. I also had a "barf kit" because Jedi still gets car sick. We had to stop every 90 minutes so the dogs could pee and stretch their legs. It was a L-O-N-G drive.

I would have saved myself a lot of stress if I had seen this great infographic from Orvis beforehand.

However, I'm sharing it now -- after the holidays -- because this is the busy travel season for dog nuts like me. In the next month we have Barn Hunt trials in Ocala and Nosework Trials in Deland. We also have multiple day trips including Beach Day, Pack Walk, Easter Egg Hunt and Doggie Dining. Travelling is easier when I have a check list. Would you add anything to the list? -- K

Top 10 Tips for Travel by Car with Your Dog Infographic

Top 10 Tips for Travel by Car with Your Dog Infographic by Orvis.

Monday, March 6, 2017

We're Sniffing Again

The hide was in the planter. Jedi's waiting for the
chicken I have tucked in my cheek.
Back in September I told you that my nosework trainer was closing up shop. She held classes for another few weeks and then moved to Ocala (2 hours away) right after our trials in October. I was sad. Apparently I'm not the only one who misses her. A student from another class is working with Trainer trying to get a Thursday night nosework class together. WOOHOO!

Trainer comes to Jacksonville regularly (she has family here) and has held a few workshops since she moved away. Jedi and I have taken advantage of every one we could. The latest workshop was held at a furniture store before it opened. What a great set up. There were lots of places to hide the target odors. The dogs -- and handlers -- really had to work hard that day. Lucky for you, someone took pictures. (If I had known this was a photo op, I would have worn a more attractive shirt!)

Jedi did really well. Good thing too, because I just sent in entry fees for the April 1-2 UKC nosework trials in Ocala. I guess we'd better get sniffing or else I just wasted my money! -- K

The hide was under the cabinet. I was waiting for Jedi to zero in the source
of the odor for me (he'll lay down for a low hide and sit for a high one).

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Hip Check

Yesterday was a big day for Jedi. He had his hips and elbows checked for dysplasia. Jedi's gonads future depends on what the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has to say.

Jedi's grown to be a good looking dog. He's proportional (albeit at the large end of the breed standard) with a beautiful coat and good temperament. He has nice movement, though I wish he moved like his brother Chili. I also wish I was a better handler and could have put an AKC conformation title on him. However, he's smart and we're doing well with nosework and barn hunt, and rally is coming along nicely. He passed his CGC and GSDCA temperament test as well as the herding instinct test. Because of all this his breeder, RK, is considering adding him to her breeding stock. Of course, this depends on his hips. RK is an ethical breeder, and does a variety of tests before breeding any dog. I went into detail about this during the A to Z of Dog Shows series (see X -- X-Rays and Genetic Tests to learn more).

So here's the deal: If hips/elbows receive a good score, RK will do a couple more tests and then see about finding him a girlfriend. If his results are poor I'll have him neutered. He can continue with barn hunt, nosework, rally and who knows what else sans testicles. I am not a fan of early sterilization. (See here and here for reasons why.) But at 4 1/2 years old, Jedi is fully mature and I think it's safe. And I also don't think it's fair to Jedi to deal with all the hormone driven urges if we're not going to breed him. Poor boy.

We should have the results in 3-4 weeks. I'll let you know. -- K