Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Unpleasant Training

I spent two days last week in a Cruelty Investigations workshop. This kind of training always leaves me in a funk. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil in my profession. The only way to stop criminals is to study what they're doing and prepare for an interception. In the words of Sun Tzu, "Know Thy Enemy."

The speakers were prosecutors, police officers, forensic technicians, veterinarians and ASPCA cruelty investigators. Topics included:
  • Blood Sports (dog fighting and cock fighting)
  • Crime Scenes
  • Evidence Collection
  • Forensic Testing
  • The Fourth Amendment
  • Hoarders
  • Interagency Collaborations
  • Petitioning for Custody
  • Writing Warrants

There's a link between violence toward animals and violence toward people. As more studies come out it's becoming obvious that animal abuse should be taken seriously. I know . . . duh. But sadly, crimes against animals have been considered "less than" for decades. Things are changing, albeit slowly. Various agencies -- animal control, police departments, code enforcement, social services -- are forming interagency task forces to stop violence and abuse. The FBI has recently started tracking various animal crimes in a national database. This is a topic that I'll share in another post soon.

I'm not going share 90% of what I learned with you guys. At least not here. Some information I want to keep close to the vest. Honestly, I don't want the bad guys to know what I know. Do I think that one of the 20 people reading my blog is an animal abuser? No. But animal abusers may or may not be trolling the internet looking for animal welfare warriors sharing information. (Just like astute animal welfare warriors may or may not be scouring the internet looking for bad guys.) Yeah, this job makes me a bit paranoid sometimes!

And I'm not going to share the details of the ugliness either. Please don't ask. (Yes, people ask!) Let's just say, it's horrific. You know how when you see a movie there's a disclaimer at the end that says "No animals were harmed?" Well, the videos I see don't have that. In fact, harming animals is the entire focus of those videos. The depravity of people is sickening. Some days I don't want to get out of bed. Sometimes the things I've seen haunt my dreams and I wake up sobbing.

On a regular basis people tell me tell me "I could never do your job." That's OK. Some days I can't do it either. There's a fine line between the desire to make a difference and emotional burnout (sometimes called compassion fatigue -- a good topic for a future post).

But please please don't say "I love animals too much to do your job." People tell me this all the time as well. It takes all I have not to scream "FUCK YOU, you self-righteous prick!" What I hear is "You must be able to do this job because you don't love animals." I'm hoping that's not what's intended, but let's set the record straight.
  • I don't do this job for the money. (Even after 14 years of doing this, I still make less than the average assistant manager at McDonalds.)
  • I don't do this job for the accolades. (Regular readers know that most of what people say to and about me is ugly!)
  • I don't do it for the sexy uniform. (Wonder why I've never shown you a picture of my uniform?)
  • Nor do I do this for the (not so) regular hours or (definitely not) clean work environment.
I do this job BECAUSE I love animals. I have the strong stomach, thick skin, analytical mind and just enough attitude to do it well (most days). That being said, if I was offered a better paying job with less shit (figurative and literal) I would probably take it.

OK, I'm starting bum myself out. Time to wrap this up and go play with the dogs. Later, -- K

Monday, November 12, 2018

Webinar Anyone?

Dave Rinke judging our 2018 AM Specialty Show
Our 2019 specially shows are five months away. We are already in show mode. This year's shows -- our first under new leadership -- went well enough. RK and I are hoping that next year's will be easier. Fortunately, we know some of the steps to take (remember I documented them last year) so we're hoping for a less stressful event in 2019.
  • We're using the same site as last year. There's been friction with the Greater Orange Park Dog Club for the past couple years. We were invited to cluster with another all-breed who would treat us more favorably. They offered to handle advertising, ring set-up and coordinate (read: potentially split costs of) judges with us. They also wouldn't require the taxing volunteers hours that OP demands. But the timing (January) and location (Ocala -- 2+ hours away) was too much for the membership to handle. So the decision was made to stay with OP and try to make nice-nice.

  • We've got the committee in place. RK is in the show chairman position again. I have stepped down as show secretary because I plan on showing Trooper. (AKC says show secretary cannot have a dog in the show.) However, I'm helping the new secretary up until the entries start coming in.

  • The judges have been secured, though it was a much bigger ordeal this time around. Last year our first two choices were available and willing. (The morning judge, Dave Rinke, was absolutely incredible! Hear him talk about judging on YouTube here. Wowza!) This year RK was told "no" over a dozen times before she got her first "yes." She went through another half-dozen names before securing the second judge. On a happier note, she found two phenomenal judges willing to do our 2020 shows.

Kent Boyles at our 2017 shows
We'll kick into high gear -- Premium, Awards, Catalog, etc. -- after the holidays. Until then we're just planning and trying (unsuccessfully) not to stress over it.
A few weeks ago RK discovered something surprisingly helpful. The AKC has stepped into the 21st century! They are now offering free online webinars on various subjects. The latest is Show Secretary Responsibilities. How cool is that?! Less than 18 months ago several of us drove 6 hours to South Carolina for a 4-hour seminar on AKC Show Committees -- and despite the travel, we still had to pay $35!
The Show Secretary Responsibilities webinar was scheduled for 3 PM on a Wednesday (because holding it when people can actually watch it is silly). Fortunately, I happened to have the day off, so I signed up. Even though I'm not doing the position, I thought it would be valuable knowledge. Besides, the secretary has a real job (imagine that) and couldn't get time off to participate. Here are some of the things I learned:
  • One must be "in good standing" with the AKC to hold position of show secretary. I'm not entirely sure what that means.
  • While the show chair and show secretary can technically be the same person, it is not recommended.
  • A person can be a show/event secretary eight times annually for conformation and/or obedience. After that there is a fee and you must be a licensed show superintendent. (Rally is unlimited.)
  • The show secretary must be on-site for the event. Since our sites ate always on a Friday, this can pose a problem.
  • Only the show secretary is to have access to the catalog before the show.
  • A copy of the breed standard must be on-site during the show.
  • The new AKC site allows premiums to be uploaded to advertise events. Hopefully this will help increase entries.
So I learned a few new things without leaving my house. Yea! I still feel woefully incompetent. Do you think this will this ever get any easier? -- K

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Rat Redemption

We were back in DeLand today, looking for rats. Like last time, we ran twice in one day.

The first time in the ring Jedi found both rats, climbed and tunneled. Yay! The judge didn't call time when we reached the 2.5 minute limit. Instead, she let Jedi finish the exercise. We were over by more than a minute, earning a big NQ (non-qualifying score). But we walked out of the ring cheering and celebrating anyway -- Jedi knows nothing about time.

The judge's kindness must have boosted Jedi's confidence. On the second run Jedi completed all the requirements in just over two minutes. Not only did he earn another leg toward his Open title, he was the 3rd fastest time.

We still have one more leg to complete before earning the Open (RATO) title. Unfortunately, it looks like we won't have the chance to do so until January. I hope he remembers what to do! I'll keep you posted. -- K

Friday, November 9, 2018

You're Not Forgotten

I've recently discovered something about myself. I can't work a full-time job, train & compete with my dogs and blog about everything that's going on. The best I can do is two of the three at any given time. So until I win the lottery, you're going to have to agree with Meatloaf.

Are you singing in your head now?
I know the blog has been quiet lately. The good news is that I've been busy. I've got posts about training I've taken for work and through the AKC, they just need to be fleshed out. I sent in entries for Barn Hunt this Saturday and a conformation match next Saturday. Hopefully those will be newsworthy. I'll share when I get so free time to write. (Let's hope things are slow at work this holiday weekend!) But for now, I need a nap. -- K

Friday, November 2, 2018

Barn Hunt Bomb

Last week I promised to keep you updated on the dogs' progress. Unfortunately, the news isn't great. I took both boys to a Barn Hunt trial last Sunday. It didn't go as I had hoped.

I signed Trooper up for the Instinct test. The running order was sent out several days before. There was one large dog taking the Instinct test, so I knew Trooper was the first one up. I hate being first! Unfortunately, we didn't leave the house as early as I wanted. To make things worse, the GPS in my new van sent us some wonky way. We ended up pulling up to the trial site just minutes before Trooper was to run. We didn't have time for him to potty, decompress or take it all in. Not good.

Trooper went in the ring and only sniffed one of the three tubes. Then he wandered around nervously for the next 59 seconds. I couldn't get him to focus or check the other tubes. We ran out of time. The sad part is that he actually sniffed the correct tube. If I had called it, Trooper would have got the Q. Grrr . . .

A picture of all the ribbons my dogs earned on Sunday
Jedi ran twice. The first time in the ring he insisted on sniffing everything before showing me the rats. He found both correctly. Yay! He climbed with no problem. But I couldn't get him to tunnel. He's look at the opening and then back out. Just as the judge called time Jedi spontaneously ran through the tunnel. What a turd! If he'd been three seconds faster we would have earned another leg toward his Open title.

The second run was even worse. Jedi showed me every tube that was hidden in the ring, but he wouldn't indicate which two had rats. We timed out again.

Hubby was tired from getting up stupid early all weekend. And his back hurt, so that made him extra grumpy. He grumbled about how much money and time we're wasting on the dogs. I was a good girl and held my tongue. Let's just say it was not a pleasant ride home.

However, the day wasn't all bad. I ran into a few women that I've trialed with before. (The dog sports community is smaller than you'd think.) They were happy to see me and Jedi. Apparently, they'd been asking about us the day before. Doesn't that make a girl feel good? Also, the desensitization efforts from Saturday's match had a positive affect on Trooper. He was much more approachable, even going up to sniff strangers. By the time we left, he was relaxed and seemed to be enjoying himself.

Look! It's Rumor! I met her.
So what's next? I'm not sure. There are Barn Hunt trials Veteran's Day weekend. I'm considering taking both dogs down on that Saturday. I need to look at my work schedule before making a final decision. I'll most likely only run Jedi, but bring Trooper for more socialization. I told Hubby that I could go without him. It's only a 90 minute drive. He grumbled some more. Dollars to Donuts he'll end up going with us -- but we'll let him make the offer.

It's disappointing when the dogs don't do well. It's easy to make excuses and lay blame. Could I have done this? Yep. Should I have done that? Maybe. Unfortunately, the truth is more complicated than that. Dogs are living, thinking beings with their own reasoning, feelings and motivations. Sometimes -- despite our best efforts -- things go wrong. And sometimes we can do everything wrong and the dog just "gets it." But you know what? I'm not going to let it get me down. A bad day running my dogs is still better than working at my regular job. It was a vacation day well spent. TTFN, -- K

Thursday, November 1, 2018

GSD Match

Look at the reach on that dog!
We got up before dawn on Saturday and drove two and a half hours to Reddick, Florida. As I mentioned last week, the White German Shepherd Dog Club of America held their Nationals last weekend. (BTW, it's not nearly as grandiose as the GSDCA Nationals I want to attend next year.) Amongst all the fanfare, they held a match for "colored" German shepherds.

It was cold! This was quite the surprise since it had been in the high 80s the week before. Trooper got out of the car sure that everybody there was going to kill him. Sigh. Fortunately, the place was filled with dog people. They were very understanding about the eight-month fear period. Nobody spooked Trooper, but everybody vowed to touch him before the festivities were over. In about four hours Trooper had 20+ people pet him (and give him chicken). By the end of the day, he was cautiously approaching people on his own. Yay!

Trooper took first place in his group. He shied away from the physical exam. Fortunately, the judge was a professional handler who has been with German shepherd dogs for decades. He was kind but firm. Trooper was not allowed to be a shithead -- much to his dismay.

Run, Trooper, Run
Trooper and another dog had a run off to get Winners Dog. And we ran a lot!
  • First we ran separately.
  • Then the judge had us run together, the other dog front.
  • We ran together again, Trooper in front.
  • We ran down and back several times so the judge could see the dogs coming and going.
I thought I was going to die! When all was said and done, the other dog got the ribbon. I'm sure that Trooper's shyness -- and my running out of steam -- were deciding factors. Dammit.

Trooper's movement is absolutely beautiful. Hubby tried to take pictures and watch at the same time. I'm posting a couple that best show Trooper. (Pay no attention to the dying woman at the other end of the leash.) The judge commented on how Trooper got better as the day progressed and suggested that we run him before a show to warm him up and get the nerves out. OMG, more freaking running! Someone needs to get back on the treadmill.

Who's a good boy?
I think the best part of the day was all the people I met. Several I have only known on Facebook and via email. It was great to put faces to names. Others I'd only heard about from mutual friends. And there were some people I had never known before -- but I expect them to be good friends in the future.

The day also resulted in a coup for my GSD club. One of the breeders there hosts a BBQ Gala every April. She invited my club members to come down and get to know the GSD fanciers in her area. She also thought it would be great if our club would host a German shepherd conformation match at the same time -- right there on her ranch! The show committee approved and I agreed to head it up. (You know, because my plate isn't full enough already!) We'll be uniting Northeast and Central Florida dog groups. How great is that?! I'm so excited and have already started planning.

So, that was half of our very busy weekend. I'll share Sunday's adventures later. See you around the ring! -- K

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween

My work asked everybody decorate their office doors for Halloween. I wanted something animal related (naturally) and found this Zombie Dog sign at Walmart. Trooper was sleeping in my office while I hung everything. I forgot he was even there. However, he popped up in the window as I was taking a picture -- and my decorating got much more interesting!

It was fun to see what everybody came up with. Remember, I'm in a department full of crime scene tape, evidence bags and cop humor. To protect the reputations of my coworkers, I'm NOT sharing most of their creations.

One of the dispatchers is also a Star Wars nerd. He brought in his life-sized R2-D2. This thing moves, has lights and sounds, and my friend can control it from his phone -- I'm so jealous! I thought it would be amusing to get a picture of Trooper next to R2. Trooper sat up straight and posed nicely for half dozen pictures. He couldn't have cared less about the droid. However, he was very suspicious of a nearby pumpkin. What a goofy dog.

Enjoy the holiday! -- K