Sunday, February 19, 2017

Silly (And Sleepless) Sunday

This time of year things get really busy. The holidays are over and the weather is mild, making it perfect for all kinds of dog-friendly activities. We've got dog shows, nose work trials, barn hunts, obedience classes, friendly get-togethers and more. My social calendar is full. So when Hubby and I find a morning to sleep in we relish it. Unfortunately, Jedi doesn't understand lazy mornings. The dog above isn't Jedi, but that's the same look I get when I try to get an extra hour of sleep.

It's Silly Sunday. A great big thank you to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for putting this together every week. Click below to see what others have to share today. -- Kelley

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Starmark Looper

One of the frustrating things about trialing in different dog sports (we do conformation, nose work and barn hunt) is the travel. We spend a lot of time in hotels. I try to make it fun for Jedi with new and interesting toys. Our latest find is the Treat Dispensing Looper from Starmark. (This company also made the Everlasting Bento Ball, reviewed here.)

I liked that the ring was easy to pack, and wouldn't loudly clunk on the floor and furniture as he played with it. I don't want to disturb the people in neighboring rooms. It's not easy finding a hotel that accepts large dogs, I don't want to ruin our welcome!

This is a hollow rubbery ring, about the size of a large bagel. There are two openings on one side, and one on the other. The nubs and ridges on the outside are supposed to provide interesting textures for the dog. It's intended to be filled with kibble and treats that will fall out intermittently as the dog plays with the ring. The package says it "Provides hours of mental stimulation and physical activity." Well, Jedi can't read and was disinterested in the toy after about ten minutes.

I had to trim the holes to allow even the smallest of my training treats to fall out. (The holes are way to small for Jedi's regular kibble to go through.) He flipped the ring across the floor with his nose a few times, carried it in his mouth for a minute or two and then left it on the floor for the rest of the weekend. This was not a hit with Jedi. I guess we're sticking with the Kong Wobbler for now.

Does your dog have a favorite quiet toy? Inquiring dogs want to know! -- Kelley

Friday, February 17, 2017

Training Epiphany

Confession time: I'm an All or Nothing kind of girl. If I can't do something perfectly or all at once then I often just don't do it. Because of this, I've ditched countless diets and exercise programs after a bad cheat day or a few missed workouts. In school I got As or Fs, never Cs. I refuse to play Pokémon because "You gotta catch 'em all" -- and that's too much pressure.

Yeah, it's stupid when you say it aloud, but the struggle is real. This unreasonable perfectionism affects my dog training as well. I continually put off training because I don't have a solid block of time or something else isn't perfect. Yes, stupid. (Did I mention the negative self talk that goes along with this? Seriously, I've got issues!)

When I saw this article from Victoria Stillwell a couple things she said hit me hard. For example #6 says "Train little and often." And then there's #9 that says to "Quit while you’re ahead and the dog wants more." What?! I was so surprised by the article that I shared it with my Tuesday Training Crew. Then my trainer shared her Rule of Five:
Training sessions are no more than five minutes or five repetitions long, a maximum of five times a day.
So, I've stashed bags of training treats all over the house. When I think of it, I'll grab a small handful of treats and ask Jedi to do something sit in heel position, come to front position, puppy push-ups, whatever. When I run out of treats . . . I stop. Seriously. Just. Like. That. In a happy voice I tell Jedi "All done" give him some love and move on with my day.

Here's the kicker: I've been doing this for few weeks and Jedi is doing great. His fronts are close; his sits in heel position are straight. He's enthusiastic. I love it. His progress encourages me to train more, which improves progress. It's a win/win for everybody. Even Hubby, who has seen so many of my unfinished projects over the past 30 years -- is shocked by our progress.

I need to cut this short and head to Petsmart. We're running low on treats. The only negative aspect of our training epiphany is that we go through a lot of treats. BTW, Jedi's not complaining! Later, --K

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

So God Made a Dog



Lots of Words
(They will make you cry.)

It's Wordless Wednesday. Hop around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Am NOT a Junkie

But . . .

I love dog shows. My feelings for dog shows are on par with any football fanatic you can think of. Seriously. And this year I am determined to watch the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Here are a few things I did to ensure it:
  • The German Shepherd Dog Club meets on the second Tuesday of every month. Unfortunately, this year it conflicts with Westminster. No problem, I convinced the club to move the meeting up a week.
  • The dog show is being shown on a different channel this year. The only way I could watch the German shepherds on live streaming was to download Fox Sports 1 app.
  • I didn't want to miss the German shepherds, especially after all that work, so I set an alarm on my phone to go off 10 minutes before the dogs entered the ring. I also took a late lunch, so I could watch the show in peace.
I got to see what I wanted, and I loved every minute of it. I was very excited to see Rumor take Best of Breed and Best of Group again this year. That is one good-looking bitch. However, the Herding Group was the final group last night. I didn't get to sleep until midnight, only to be up at 4:30 AM for work. I'm going to have to be up late again tonight to see if the German shepherd wins Best in Show. I have a feeling that I'm going to be really, really cranky tomorrow.

I've decided that watching the Westminster Dog show on TV isn't good enough. I have to see it person. Thirteen months ago I shared my Westminster Woes. I also shared a plan to save money so that I can attend the Westminster dog show to celebrate my 50th birthday next year. (Funny side note colon when I was in the emergency room last month I looked at the doctor and said "I am not going to die today. I'm going to Westminster next year dammit.")

Those who know me know that I'm great at making plans but
I suck at follow through. Well, I've got news for you! I've been saving pennies, cashing rebate checks, recycling aluminum cans and transferring the occasional $20 from one account to the other. No, I don't have the $1,400 that I had hoped for. But I do have a respectable $1,068. That's not too bad considering the difficult year that I had. (Even my mother was surprised to hear my progress. She said -- and I quote -- "You're actually planning and saving? That doesn't sound like you at all!" Thanks Mom.)

After Memorial Day I'm going to start making travel plans in earnest. This time next year I'll be writing posts in New York City. How cool is that?! -- K

P.S. Please feel free to share any New York City/Westminster travel tips and suggestions!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Awww...Just Beachy

I've shared the strangeness of Florida winters in the past. The past few days have been mild and people have flocked to the beach. Here are a few pictures I've taken recently:

While on morning patrol, I saw a guy making giant bubbles on the beach at sunrise. This isn't an everyday event so I took a picture.

No snow? No problem. Beach goers are resourceful. Someone built a sandman on the beach this afternoon.

Jedi likes evening walks on the beach, but won't go near the water.

It's Awww...Monday! Did my beachy photos make you say "Awww?" How about "Aaaah?" I hope so. Click around below and see what others are sharing. Thank you Sandee for putting this together each week. Happy Monday! -- K

Sunday, February 12, 2017

FACA Conference

There was a Barn Hunt trial in Deland this weekend. I REALLY wanted to be there. Instead, I attended the annual Florida Animal Control Association (FACA) conference.

I have mixed emotions about these conferences. I enjoy the networking and the war stories are fun. It's nice to spend time with people who share your experiences (and warped sense of humor). However, the subject matter is draining and often depressing. This weekend I spent eight hours in workshops on hoarding and dog fighting -- with pictures and videos. Unlike the movies, there is no reassurance blurb from American Humane at the end. I know that animals were most certainly harmed during filming. Yet I watch anyway, knowing these images will haunt me.

Animal cruelty investigations and dangerous dog prosecution were equally heavy topics addressed this year. Other classes included dealing with urban wildlife, compassion fatigue, officer safety, conflict resolution and developing an effective ACO training program. Surprised? I average about 40 hours of continuing education every year -- and who's "just a stupid dog catcher"?

It was an intense three days. I'm happy to be home. Jedi is glad I'm back too. He hasn't let me out of his sight for the last three hours. Unfortunately, there's no rest for the weary in this house. I need to unpack and wash a couple loads of laundry then head to bed. I have to go back to work tomorrow. UGH.

When things slow down I'll go through my notes and see if there's anything worth sharing. But don't get your hopes up. Most of this year's conference topics fell under the ugly part of my job that I prefer to lock away. For now though, I need to get some rest. 5 AM comes quickly. TTFN, -- K

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rally . . . Oh?

We're a month into our dog training classes. Our trainer has us doing rally turns and circles. She says that they keep our dogs on their toes, naturally forcing them to pay attention. It helps, because Jedi likes to forge ahead. (BTW, "forge" is a euphemism for "Pull like a freakin' sled dog.") So far we've worked on:
  • Left and Right Turns -- These are exactly what you think. 90° and should be crisp. My boot camp training is kicking in!
  • About Turns -- These are 180°, always turning to the right. When walking on a straight line the handler should turn around and walk back on the same line. (We practice these in parking lots.)
  • U-Turns -- These are wider turns, and always to the left. We turn into the dog. When walking the straight line above, the dog should walk back on the line.
  • 270° Turns -- These can go to the left or to the right and they are confusing! 270 degrees is 3/4 of a circle. It's best to imagine you're on a traffic circle. If you want to go right, you have to turn left three times.
Fortunately, I don't have to remember everything. There are signs along the course. I've looked online and I can buy signs and holders, but they are more than I want to pay right now. Apparently, I'm not the only cheap frugal dog person out there. I found a place where I can download signs for free here. And Marie over at K-9 Dog Training Solutions has DIY rally sign holder instructions here.

We're having a great time walking in circles. I'll share more later. -- K

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bathing Bonus!

Florida winters are crazy. The weather is all over the place. One day it's pushing 80 degrees, and a couple days later the high doesn't get above 40. It's a wonder we don't all have hypothermia.

This waffling weather can be frustrating when you have a stinky dog. Normally, I set the grooming table up outside and bathe Jedi in the back yard. Easy peasy. But sometimes it's just too cold and I have to ask myself "Do I live with a stinky dog or breakdown and pay a groomer?" Well guess what? I found another option!

A new pet store moved into the neighborhood about 6 months ago. I had never heard of Pet Supplies Plus before, but apparently it's a chain. In addition to decent prices and friendly staff, they have self bathing stations! For $10 (plus an additional $5 for Roxy) I got to defunk the dogs nearly stress-free. The store provided everything I needed:
  • Raised bathing tubs with ramps and tethers
  • Shampoo (we had four to choose from) automatically mixed into the water
  • Warm water
  • A waterproof grooming apron
  • Lots of towels
  • And a forced air dryer
All of this is enclosed so the dogs don't get out, but still open so nobody feels claustrophobic. I washed and dried the pups, and the store cleaned up the mess. Best $15 I spent in a long time. -- K

P.S. Jedi put up such a fuss during his bath that everyone had to come see what was going on. Three weeks later we saw the owner at a dog-friendly festival. He remembered Jedi. He also remembered how much hair we left behind after the bath. Yep, we got our money's worth.

This is what it looked like before Jedi

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wordless Sunset

It's February. Some friends are posting Winter Wonderland pics. All I've got is this:

BTW, I'm not complaining. -- K

P.S. It's Wordless Wednesday! Click around below and see what others are sharing today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Polar Pooch

I always stop in the pet section when shopping at discount stores. You never know what you're going to find. I was at Ross and found the Polar Pooch Cooling Mat for $13.99. A quick search on my cell phone showed that this was $6-$10 less than Amazon, Walmart and PetSmart. Never one to pass up a deal, I bought one! We tried it out multiple times and I'm not impressed.

First of all, I don't know what German shepherd was used for the picture on the box. I read the fine print that stated the mat is 22" by 33". For giggles I put Jedi -- a life-sized German shepherd -- on the it and took a picture. His legs alone took up half the mat.

I had to coax Jedi to lay on the mat with treats. The cover slips and slides. (See the wrinkles in my photo versus the one on the box?) Jedi didn't care for that. Neither did I. I accidentally stepped on it and nearly fell toes over tea kettle.

Finally, it didn't seem to stay that cool. I laid my palm on the mat multiple times throughout the day and didn't notice a difference. I really wanted it to work as advertised so we tried it out over several weekends. I'm disappointed.

Long story short: Jedi and I think the money could have been spent better elsewhere. So, if you see the Polar Pooch Cooling Mat in your favorite store . . . just keep walking. -- K

Monday, February 6, 2017

Awww...Stop to Smell the Flowers

It's been a rough few months and apparently the ways I've been dealing with stress are bad for my health. My doctors have given me all kinds of instructions to remedy this including eat better, take meds, exercise, lose weight, blah, blah, blah . . . It's enough to stress me out even more!

One positive way to exercise and decompress is to take Jedi for a walk. While out last week we came upon a public garden. I thought the flowers were pretty so I snapped this picture (before Jedi could pee on them). His expression cracked me up!

So, did the picture make you smile too? I hope so! It's Awww...Monday, where a group of bloggers come together to brighten the start of your work week. Click around below and see what others are sharing. Thank you Sandee for putting this together each week. Happy Monday! -- K

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mission Accomplished

Jedi and I working on the Front position
When I took over the presidency of my German Shepherd Dog Club 18 months ago I had five goals:
  1. Familiarize everybody with the breed standard, terminology and what makes a GSD
  2. Get out more with our dogs
  3. Energize meetings with door prizes, guest speakers and mini-workshops
  4. Network with other local dog clubs/groups
  5. Reinstate weekly training meetings
I've done OK with the first goal, and really well with the next three. The last one, however, has been difficult. There were quite a few roadblocks.
  • We had a trainer willing to do the classes, but she’s 75 and doesn’t like to drive at night. This means we had to find a training site that was close to her.
  • It was hard to get club members involved. Everyone said they’d like weekly training but very few were willing to look for a location.
  • We had a member with the space on his property, but his home owners insurance said no, despite that fact that our club has a $1 million policy.
  • We approached a couple businesses, but they said no, even though the Club has insurance.
  • We found a few City parks but they were either too far, closed at dusk, poorly lit at night, or prohibited dogs.
  • THEN we had a hard time picking a date/time for weekly training. (And when we finally did people complained about the drive. GRRR.)
But after a year . . . voila. We found a public park with adequate lighting and parking. It has restrooms with flushing (albeit gross) toilets. It’s five minutes off a major freeway and a straight shot on a major road. And we have eight committed members taking classes. I feel good knowing that I'll leave my position in June having accomplished everything I set out to do.

So how's training going? Pretty good! We're only three weeks into it, so . . . Currently we’re working on socialization and basic obedience/rally skills. Our goal is to enter the Rally Novice trials in October. I look forward to sharing Jedi’s progress. Later, -- K

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Barn Hunt, Take 2

Group photo from the NYE workshop
How did you spend New Year’s Eve? Me? I drove 90 minutes to Deland to take a Barn Hunt workshop with Jedi. AND IT WAS AWESOME!

We had taken a workshop before a couple years ago. At the time, K-9 Obedience Club here in Jacksonville was considering offering Barn Hunt. That fizzled out and we never pursued it.

So how did we end up here? Well, back in October I was at a nosework trial. One of the other competitors told me about a training facility in Deland that she really liked. She said it was new and different and lots of fun. I saw they had a workshop coming up and thought "Why not?" Jedi had so much fun at the workshop that I signed him up for another one two weeks later. THEN we signed up for a trial the following day. ("In for a penny, in for a pound," right?)

Jedi totally bombed the first run. He spent the entire three minutes obsessed with a spot on a particular bale. Rules say you can't touch the dog and I couldn't get him to focus on anything else. When time ran out the judge showed us where the rat was hidden. I showed Jedi the rat and praised him with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Truthfully, I was flustered and spent too much time calculating how much money I just wasted.

Our first leg!
Before I knew it we were called up for our second -- and final -- run. We entered the ring and I removed Jedi's collar (rules say dog must "run naked.") I cheerfully told Jedi to "Find the rat." Instead, he went back to the same bale and started licking it. (I'm thinking that a female in heat must have touched it. Damn testicles make him stupid.) In frustration I blew in his face, clapped my hands above his head and used the mommy voice: "Jedi, leave it! Find the rat!" And guess what? He did! I coaxed him to climb on a bale. Then, to my surprise, he crawled through the 18" by 22" tunnel all by himself. We completed the exercise and earned our first leg. Even more surprising, Jedi earned a 3rd place ribbon for his time. How about that?! I'm hooked now and counting the days until we can run again in March.

So, what is Barn Hunt? In a nutshell, it's a new hunting sport where dogs search for rats hidden safely among bales of hay. Dogs are expected to climb and tunnel as well as search. Handlers must be able to read and guide their dogs without touching them. The competition is timed and the difficulty level goes up with each title. (Don't worry, no rats are harmed in this competition. In fact, there are Rat Wranglers in place to make sure rats don't get injured or stressed. Rats are rotated regularly, much like sheep in herding trials.) Want to know more? Check out the official Barn Hunt Association page.

The sport was originally designed for small terriers, but any dog may compete as long as it can fit through an 18 inch by 22 inch tunnel. The tunnel size does not change regardless of the size of the dog. What I like about Dare2Train is that the owners and trainers all have GSDs (as well as the rat wranglers and many of the members). They are able to address some of the challenges and concerns I have (i.e. big dog in a small tunnel). And they all want to have fun with their dogs. Yep, my kind of people! -- K

Friday, February 3, 2017

National Champion Jedi in November I left off with Jedi and I heading to Ocala for the IABCA shows. We went. And we conquered! Jedi completed what he needed to get his National Championship. Now he is an IntCH/NatCH (International/National Champion).

Yes, it looks good, but I think his conformation show days are over. Earning an AKC Championship is much tougher, and I've got a lot to learn in that arena. To be honest, I'm not sure Jedi even enjoyed it. So we're going to move on to something else. Maybe I'll try conformation again with a future dog. But for now, Jedi and I are having a good time discovering what else is out there. Oh, did I tell you about barn hunt? No?! I guess I know what to share next time. TTFN, - - K

P.S. Sorry about the photo. Jedi and I both look retarded. My regular photographer, Hubby, couldn't make the trip. RK brought her niece who took tons of pictures. She only sent me this one with a promise to send more "later." It's been 3 months and I'm still waiting. Yeah, I'm calling you out Jenna!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Did You Miss Us?

I received an email last week from a blogging friend asking if I was OK. It's not the first. I’m fine. And I love you guys too. But yes, I've been gone for a quite while. Almost three months. Wow.

Things have been busy since November -- some good, some not.

My goods include:
  • a dog show (and new title!)
  • a new dog sport
  • a new training class
  • and end-of-the-year dog Dog Club festivities
I’ll share these soon. I’m still president of the local German Shepherd Dog Club and I run our club Facebook page. Both are more time consuming than you might think. My crazy job always keeps me busy (but makes for entertaining posts) and I’ve got some job-related things to share as well.

My nots include:
  • aging parents
  • adult children
  • health issues (treat your body like crap for 30 years and it rebels -- go figure!)
  • and entirely too much heated political shit
I’m not going to share that. It stresses me out too much. And speaking of stress, apparently it’s bad for the heart. Guess who’s developed angina? UGH. I seriously need to find a better way to manage stress. Booze, brownies and profanity are not the answer. Dammit. Any suggestions?

Not fun. Find a healthy way to manage
your stress before you end up here.
Part of my absence was me hiding in a hole hoping the world would just go away. It didn't, so I might as well plug back in and share a snarky comment or two. And beware, there are a couple rants welling up inside me as well.

On a dog-free note -- *gasp* -- I’ve started reading again. I used to read all the time but somehow got away from it. A long-time friend challenged me to read 26 books this year. The catch: the books can't be related to work or dogs. Well, I’ve only finished one novel so far, but I totally enjoyed it.

I'm going through pics and will have stuff to share soon. Promise. Until then, enjoy Jedi on the beach at sunrise. This picture always makes me happy. Until next time, -- K

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Road Less Traveled

Jedi and I are back after a three month hiatus and we have stories to tell! Too bad they'll have to wait -- it's Wordless Wednesday!

Want to see what others are sharing? Click around below. -- K