Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dock Diving Dogs

When I'm not doing things with my dogs, I like to watch other people do things with their dogs. (Dog nerd? Probably.) I have a friend who has recently discovered Dock Diving. Saturday was her first trial and I went to support her. OMG, it was awesome! Look:





Good thing it's Wordless Wednesday because I am speechless! Click around below and see what others are sharing today. Later, -- K


Monday, June 26, 2017

Awww...Ice Cream!

Jedi's Doggie Sundae
When I got off work yesterday it was still 89 degrees. When you factor in the humidity it felt like 100 degrees. Ugh. Jedi had been cooped up all weekend. He needed to get out before he drove us all crazy. It was too hot to walk so we went for ice cream instead.

Did you know that Bruster's gives free ice cream cups to their 4-legged customers? Jedi was thrilled to discover that! Our timing couldn't have been better. It started to rain (again!) just as we were finishing our ice cream.

It's Awww...Monday, where a group of bloggers come together to brighten the start of your work week. Does ice cream make you happy? Click around below happy Jedi and see what others are sharing. Thank you Sandee for putting this together each week. Happy Monday! -- K


Friday, June 23, 2017

Dear Beachgoers

This popped up on my Facebook feed yesterday:
Dear Beachgoers,

The heat index temperature today is a hundred and seven degrees. Please leave your dogs at home. I'm sure they'd much rather sit at home in the air conditioning than sit on the hot beach and watch you play in the water. Also, water heats up very quickly in a metal bowl when there is no shade. I've already told several people to take their dogs home, I'll tell you the same.

Signed, Your (Not So) Friendly ACO
Apparently two years ago I was frustrated with people bringing their dogs to a hot beach. Guess what? I still am! WTF are people thinking?

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a fan of the beach. I don't like crowds, oppressive heat or sand that gets into everything. (Or sharks or jellyfish or fat, hairy guys in Speedos or . . . )

If people insist on taking dogs to the beach, I'd like to suggest the following:
Jedi at sunrise
  • Avoid midday. It's hot and full of people. Instead, go early morning or late evening. It's cooler and less crowded. An added bonus: better light for awesome pictures.

  • Keep your dog leashed. Not all beachgoers like dogs. Unless there are signs saying otherwise, always assume the leash law applies on the beach. Helpful tip: don't take your dog's good collar and leash to the beach. The salt and sand will quickly destroy them. Instead, find a collar with a plastic buckle. Check/lubricate/replace leashes regularly. If you're going to take your dog in the water, use a nylon slip lead (like the ones at the vet's office). I know a woman whose beach-used leash didn't work properly when needed. Her dog saw a cat across the street. The clip didn't hold when the dog lunged and he ran after the cat. The dog was hit -- and killed -- by a passing car.

  • Take lots of poop bags. Sometimes dogs get excited and ingest salt water while playing in the surf. Invariably, it gives them the runs. You don't want to leave that lying on the beach! Plus, you'll have extras to share with nearby not-so-great dog owners.

  • I've seen these for $30-$80
  • Bring lots of water and a cooler to keep it in. I can't tell you how many people say "See I have water for my dog" and show me a gallon jug that has been sitting in the sun for the last hour and a half. Also, rethink the metal bowl. It gets hot quickly. Would you want to drink hot water?

  • If you plan on being there all day, bring your own shade. Whether it be a large pop-up canopy or a small portable beach tent, your dog needs something to keep him out of the direct sun. You may be in a bikini, but your dog is wearing a fur coat.

  • DO NOT TAKE YOUNG PUPPIES TO THE BEACH. First of all, young pups are more susceptible to heat stroke. Also, there is a lot of crap (figurative and literal) on the beach. We have hundreds of dogs visit my 2-mile stretch of beach every month. Guess what? Not all of those dogs are owned by conscientious, responsible people. For me, that's job security. For you, that's a possible exposure to parvo, distemper and all kinds of nasty diseases and parasites. (FYI: We also have foxes, raccoons and feral cats on the beach -- I've seen them during early morning patrols -- and they carry a wide variety of cooties as well.) Until your pup is fully vaccinated, avoid the beach just as you would the pet store or dog park.
Yep, I'm Debbie Downer today. That's what I do! Love ya, -- K

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tuesday Training Crew

A couple months ago I told you that I was finally able to reinstate the German Shepherd Dog Club's weekly training. The good news is that it's still going, despite the afternoon downpours of late. We have a few dedicated members of "The Tuesday Training Crew." And we have a couple more that show up sporadically. I'm disappointed (though not surprised) that we don't have more participants. Any ideas on how to impress upon club members that they should take advantage of this free opportunity to work their dogs and make friends?

Here are a few pictures from Tuesday nights. Don't mind the goofy chick, just look at the beautiful German shepherd.

Working automatic sits. The shirt is Teddy the Dog
and says "Come to the Bark Side." LOVE it!
Jedi's front positions are getting better. The shirt says
"Leave me alone, I'm only talking to my dog today."
Our trainer is a 5 foot tall, 75 year old woman who knows more about training
dogs than I ever will. It's amazing to see her work.


Believe it or not, it's Wordless Wednesday. One of these days the Moderator is going to give me a stern talking to about my overly wordy posts. But for now, just enjoy! Don't forget to click around below and see what others are sharing today! -- K

P.S. No rain last night, so Tuesday Training went on as planned. Yippie!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Canine Infleunza

Have you been following the news about Canine Influenza? Whether or not you have, it's a big deal here in Florida. About three weeks ago I got the following message from a training group:
“We have received reliable information from a vet in Deland that a number of dogs who attended the Deland Dog Show this past weekend have been treated in her office for canine influenza. The same vet reports that one of her patients who attended the show (a young, healthy dog) is currently being treated in Gainesville and is in critical condition. This appears to be a fast developing strain and symptoms typically develop within a few days.”
I thought "Crap! Deland is close." I've shown there before. Then reports came in that sick dogs were coming back from Perry (GA) as well. I've shown in Perry too! What people were assuming was Bordetella (kennel cough) was actually canine influenza. Even worse, this was a newer, stronger virus (H3N2, not H3N8 which has been around for a decade). Within days the University of Florida had confirmed the first 7 cases of H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus in the state of Florida. Last report I heard there were 30 confirmed cases, with dogs sick in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. There are an estimated 300+ infected dogs (suspected and treated like flu, but not confirmed through laboratory testing). A majority of these cases are either:
  1. dogs who participated in recent dog shows or
  2. dogs who live with dogs who were in shows.

The dog show community is in a panic. People have pulled out of shows in droves and some clubs have cancelled shows completely. Others clubs are taking precautions with viruscide disinfectants, judges are not handling mouths (exhibitors are showing bites instead), no public x-pens set up, vets on sight the entire show, gallons of hand sanitizer and conspicuous signage warning exhibitors about contamination.

It not just the show community that's worried either. Training clubs all across the state have closed their doors for a week or more. Households with dogs that attended the Perry and Deland shows are asked not to return until July. I know of two June Barn Hunt trials that have been cancelled. Even the 2017 DOCOF (Dog Obedience Clubs of Florida) tournament -- a super big deal that has dog teams train for months -- has been cancelled.

I've been following the news closely. Here's some of the information that I've gleaned from my reading:
  • Canine influenza viruses are relatively new viruses, so virtually all dogs are susceptible to infection because they have not built up natural immunity.

  • The dogs most at risk are those with a social lifestyle, participate in group events or housed in communal facilities. This includes boarding kennels, dog parks, day care centers, shelters, dog shows, training classes, veterinary clinics, pet stores and grooming parlors.

  • Two different canine influenza viruses have been isolated in the U.S. -- CIV H3N8 and CIV H3N2. H3N2 just recently emerged in the Chicago outbreak of 2015. This virus is of avian origin and not related to the earlier H3N8 virus, which is of equine origin. Vets are suggesting that dogs at risk be vaccinated against both viruses.

  • The H3N2 virus is HIGHLY contagious. It's spread by direct contact with an infected dog or contact with a contaminated environment or person.

  • A cough from a sick dog produces invisible virus‐containing mists. These mists can travel more than 10 feet in the air, spreading the virus and quickly contaminating everything around it.

  • The virus is hearty. It can survive in the environment (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, toys, beds, etc.) or on people’s shoes, clothing and hands for 12 to 24 hours. However, it's easily killed by washing hands with soap and water, normal laundering of clothing and bedding, and washing bowls and toys. Take away: Wash everything and wash often.

  • Symptoms of influenza include sneezing, coughing and nasal discharge, and symptoms can last for two weeks or more. Many dogs also experience fever, decreased appetite and lethargy. More serious cases can result in pneumonia and require hospitalization.

  • It can take two to five days after infection for symptoms to appear. This means handlers and owners may expose their dog not knowing their dog has been infected. Also frustrating, some infected dogs never get sick -- yet those dogs are as contagious as the sick dogs. However, because these dogs appear to be healthy, owners have no warning to keep them away from other dogs. As for sick dogs, they may remain contagious up to a month after they recover.
Scary, isn't it? When my vet gets back from vacation I want to talk to him about the CIV vaccine. For now, I'm keeping the dogs at home (the oppressive heat and afternoon deluges help). I'll share if/when I learn anything more. Later, -- K


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Show-n-Go

K-9 Obedience Club of Jacksonville (my other dog club) holds an Obedience and Rally Show-n-Go on a regular basis.

A Show-n-Go is a practice trial. There are (unofficial) judges, ring stewards, competitors and classes. The judge scores your performance, but there are no ribbons or placements. Unlike a real trial, you can use treats, toys, praise and corrections in the ring.

The idea of a Show-n-Go is to create as much of a real trial atmosphere as possible so you and your dog can get used to being in a competition without the full stress (or entry fees) of an actual trial. It's a great way to:
  • Rehearse the full set of exercises for a trial, especially if you or your dog are new to the ring.
  • Find out what the dog will and won't do when you can't carry a treat or reward her after every exercise.
  • Cure the ring-wise dog who hates being in the ring because you've never rewarded him with food or play or a toy during a real trial.
  • Desensitize the dog who thinks judges and stewards are scary and evil.
Show-n-Gos are $5 a run, and are a small money maker for the club. The events manned by volunteers. The club offers one free run to anybody who volunteers. The club announced another Show-n-Go was being held on Saturday and RK suggested that we volunteer to:
  • Learn more about how a Rally trial works
  • Use the free run to see how Jedi and Chili perform in a different environment
  • Get feedback from someone other than our regular trainer
In a moment of false bravado I agreed. Then I spent next five days stressing myself out. Our Tuesday training has been rained out for the last month. I meant to practice regularly at home. I didn't. (Surprise!)

I waffled back and forth about taking Jedi to the Show-n-Go and possibly making a fool of myself. Eventually I put on my Big Girl Panties and . . . ended up not doing it after all. I had car trouble and rode to the training site with RK. I volunteered, but Jedi stayed at home. I put on my Big Girl Panties for nothing! I'm so bummed out. Guess I'll go play with Jedi and hope it doesn't rain again on Tuesday. -- K


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rats and More Rats

A couple weeks back I told you about Hide and Seek, our new rats. After Seek's sudden passing, we had a rough time finding another female rat. I knew Hide was lonely and didn't want her to be alone too long.

Meet Cache
Our rat hunt wasn't any easier than before. We stalked every pet store in town to no avail. Hubby kept saying we should go back to the lizard store and buy another feeder rat, but I was worried about health issues. Like I said before, I don't think feeder rats are held to the same health standards as rats intended to be pets.

I work Sundays but Hubby is off. Sometimes Hubby does crazy things when I'm at work -- like make rat tubes! Last Sunday he made a command decision. He cleaned out an old 10-gallon tank, found the corresponding screen cover and set it up in the dining room. Then he hopped on his Harley and went to the lizard store. Hubby picked out two friendly feeder rats and brought them home -- on his bike. The lizard guy felt so bad about Seek that he offered to replace her for free. He said that sometimes the feeder rats get colds (told you!) and that's probably what happened to Seek.

And Sport
Hubby set the girls up in the dining room. He wanted to quarantine the new rats in case they were sick. He said he bought a second rat "just in case one didn't make it." I told him that sounded pretty harsh, but he felt that taking a chance to live in a loving home was better than the guarantee of a short life ending in a snake's belly. So how do you argue with that?

Well, right away one rat started sneezing. I was glad that they weren't in with Hide. We watched the new rats closely. The white-faced girl had bright eyes and was very energetic, whereas the brown-faced girl looked lethargic and squinty-eyed. After 24 hours we made the decision to move the white-faced girl (now named Cache -- keeping with the hidden theme) in with Hide. They bonded right away.

I named the other girl Sport (since she rode home on a Harley Sportster) and kept a close eye on her. After three days she seemed to be doing much better and we put her in the big cage. So now we have THREE rats. They each have a distinct personality too.
Hide wants attention -- and treats!
  • Hide demands attention. She will stomp on anyone to get to the front of the cage when people walk by. She loves having head rubbed just behind her ears.
  • Cache tolerates human attention, but doesn't seek it out. She'll sit in my hand and let me stroke her back. She loves the exercise wheel. I hear her running in it day and night.
  • Sport is a loner. Hide and Cache will cuddle together on the top level, but Sport prefers to hide in the cubby at the bottom of the cage. Sport doesn't like being held either, so socializing her is more difficult. (She doesn't bite, she's just really squirmy.)
Hide is about a month older and significantly bigger than the new girls. I've already introduced her to the tube. She runs in with no problem and is calm when Jedi sniffs with her inside it. In fact, getting her to come out was more difficult than getting her in. Apparently she liked it in there. I'm going to work on socializing Cache and Sport before introducing them to the tubes.

So, we have our hands full of rodents right now and I'm loving it. Even rat-hating Hubby is coming around. I'll catch him baby-talking to the girls. And he keeps baggies in the fridge of cheese bits and vegetable scraps that he doles out when he thinks I'm not looking. Don't tell him I know, OK? I'll share more later, but for now I have to feed animals and clean cages. That's one of the drawbacks to having your own personal zoo. TTFN, -- K

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tricky Jedi

I told you about the AKC's new Trick Dog titles way back in March. Well on Saturday my other dog club hosted a trick title test. Long story short: Jedi earned his Novice Trick Dog (TKN) title! Since he has already earned his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title, he only needed to perform five tricks (instead of ten) for the evaluator. I chose the five tricks I thought he knew best:
  • Speak
  • Shake
  • Sit and Down (hand signals only)
  • Paws Up (2 paws on a step)
  • and Touch
He did them . . . and nobody thought to take a picture! I was able to pull a picture off the K-9 Obedience Club FB that someone took while we were waiting. (I cropped out our faces. I've got a bad case of "Resting Bitch Face.")

Jedi earned the title, but it wasn't an easy gimme like I had thought. First of all, these are tricks that we've only done in the living room. Performing them outside surrounded by a bunch of other dogs proved to be quite the distraction. Both Hubby and RK were there to cheer us on. I think Jedi was distracted by them add well.

The tricks become more complicated as the titles progress. Some over-achieving members tested for multiple titles on Saturday. We're not that ambitious and only tried for Novice. (Good thing too, Jedi was not at his best on Saturday.) I'd like to test for Intermediate Trick Dog eventually, but it'll take a little work. We'll have to perfect 10 new tricks from a list of 20 and I think he's only solid in about four of them. Apparently we'll also have to practice with distractions.

But Tricks will he to wait for now.  We've got our plate full with Rally, Nosework and Barn Hunt. In fact, I need to cut this short and go practice some Rally moves. Silly me, I signed up for a Fun Run (practice under test-like conditions) on Saturday, despite the fact that Tuesday Training has been rained out for a month. Am I glutton for punishment? YOU BET! -- K

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Peek-a-Boo


German shepherds are herders. Not only is it in their name, it's in their DNA. Seriously, don't get one if you like personal space! It's important for Jedi to know where I am and what I'm doing. Sometimes it's amusing (he's currently laying in the doorway of my office). Sometimes it's annoying (I can't close the bathroom door else he sits outside and whines). However, it's always comforting to know that he's there. With just a look -- this look -- I know I'll never be alone.


It's Wordless Wednesday! Click around below and see what others have to share today. -- K


Monday, June 12, 2017

Awww...Rain Again?

Pathetic Pup
Right now the weather in North Florida stinks! We've had rain nearly every afternoon for the past month. This had cancelled the last three Tuesday Night training meetings and any chance of an after work walk in the park. Jedi is bored -- and when he's bored we all suffer.

Hubby and I try to entertain him with games of Hall Ball (a fancy way of saying fetch in the house) and Monster (we crawl on the floor and growl). We also practice silly tricks and rally positions to work Jedi's brain. Despite our best efforts, Jedi is still bored. When not underfoot and whining, he likes to lay in the corner and sigh. Loudly. Jedi is not fond of rainy days. For fun, I ran his Pathetic Pup picture through a SuperPhoto filter.

How's that for an Awww... picture? It's Awww...Monday, where a group bloggers try to brighten your Monday with Awww-inspiring posts. Click around below and see what others are sharing today. A big thanks to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for hosting this hop. -- K


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Rat Tubes

The Barn Hunt Association is very strict about how rats are handled at trials. Rat Wranglers are put into place to make sure that all rats are treated humanely. Their comfort, safety and well-being are paramount. The official rules even have specific instructions on how to make authorized dog-proof rat tubes -- with pictures! See:


To practice at home, we needed tubes. One Sunday morning I printed out the instructions and went to work. Hubby went to Lowe's. He sent me pictures throughout the day of his progress. 

Cut and glued
After drilling 156 holes!
The good news is that the instructions are clear and detailed, and the construction is fairly easy. The bad news is, they're not cheap. Hubby bought the stuff to make four tubes. Here's the breakdown of the cost, including his 10% military discount.
  • four 10" sections of solid core schedule 40 PVC pipe, 4" diameter [he ended up buying two 2' pipes] ($12.80)
  • four 4" PVC clean-out snap in drain caps ($11.24)
  • four 4" female adapters
  • four 4" PVC cleanout plugs ($20.40)
  • clear PVC cement ($9.88)
  • two colors of spray paint to camouflage tubes ($7.07)
The grand total for this project was $61.39 plus tax. (This does not include a 3/16" drill bit and sandpaper. You'll need them as well.) Here's the finished product:


Looking good, huh? Now we need to introduce Hide to the tubes. I'll keep you posted! -- K

Friday, June 9, 2017

Let's Shake on It

People are always asking to pet my dog. I get it. Jedi is gorgeous. His thick, luscious coat begs to be caressed. However, Jedi doesn't really care for strangers touching him. He's not a lab who wants to be everybody's friend. He's a German shepherd -- wary, aloof and very judgmental.

Jedi's feelings towards strangers causes some anxiety for me. I want him to be friendly, but at the same time I want him to trust me, believing that I've got his best interests in mind. That means sometimes I tell people "No" when they ask. You'd be surprised how many people get ugly when I say it too. (Even worse are the people who just walk up and stick their hands in his face without asking. They're lucky *I* don't bite them!) Articles like this one from Dr. Jen's Dog Blog make me feel better about saying no.

We have found a happy compromise to stranger interactions -- The Shake. I'll ask Jedi "Would you like to say hello?" and then ask him to sit. Sometimes he'll look at me and refuse to sit. I'll tell the greeter "I guess right now is not a good time" and give Jedi a scratch behind the ear, telling him it's OK. I think it's important that Jedi has the choice to interact with strangers. If he sits (and most of the time he does) I'll tell the greeter "His name is Jedi. Ask him to shake." Greeters always squeal when he does. I then tell the greeters "Scratch his shoulder. He really likes it there." They comply, we'll chat and then everybody leaves happy.

So why is this so great? Jedi REALLY doesn't like it when people lean over him or get in his face. Shaking keeps people out of Jedi's personal space. It teaches him that interaction with people can be pleasant. An unexpected bonus: He trusts me more in other unpleasant situations too (i.e. the vet's office and ear cleaning).


Does your dog have ambivalent feelings towards strangers too? See if The Shake works for you! This training tip is part of the Positive Pet Training blog hop hosted by Wag ‘N Woof Pets, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Travels with Barley. Click around below and see what others have to share as well. TTFN, -- K


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Early Morning Walks


Summer has come to North Florida. With temperatures in the 80's, 90% humidity and afternoon showers, it's tough to find time to walk. And no walks makes Jedi restless and annoying. On my days off I try to get out early before it gets too hot. I stick to shady parks. Last Saturday we found this out of the way spot. Pretty nice, hunh?


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


Monday, June 5, 2017

Awww...Ribbons

At the dog shows in April, there were several handlers who didn't want their ribbons, especially if the dog placed less than first. I picked up a bunch of red and yellow ribbons while cleaning up. It was sad. I hope I never become that jaded.

I keep all the awards Jedi and I have earned in a plastic shoebox. I would guess that the monetary value of the ribbons and rosettes is under $30 -- but the emotional value is incalculable. Each scrap of fabric is a reminder of a skill we had to learn, a puzzle we had to solve or challenge we had to meet. That box represents hundreds of hours spent bonding, time where an awkward handler and a clueless dog learned to work together. Sometimes -- especially after a difficult day -- I will sit on my bed and go through the box. It always brightens my mood.

In case you're counting, there are 60 ribbons and 3 rosettes. That's a lot of me & Jedi time!
How about you? Do you have a box of memories that always make you smile? A photo album that brings back good memories? Please share! Lord knows we can all use some extra happiness these days!

Want some more happy thoughts? Well you're in luck! 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


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hip Report

Back in March I told you that we were taking Jedi and to have his hips and elbows x-rayed. I also told you that the future of his testicles was riding on the results. That post has been viewed over 4500 times! (Much like Hillary Clinton, I blame Russian interference. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I have proof!) Anyway, we have mixed news about Jedi's OFA scores.

The good news: Jedi's hips are good. There is no evidence of hip dysplasia. Here's his certificate. (I've redacted my address and Jedi's microchip number because they're none of the Russians' damn business.)


The bad news: His right elbow isn't perfect. He has Grade I elbow dysplasia. According to the OFA's official website, that means there is "Minimal bone change along anconeal process of ulna (less than 2mm)." It's a bummer. But the good news is that if we can keep him lean and active, there is no reason he can't live a long, happy, normal life. I'm doing research on glucosamine supplements, should he need them later on. This also mean that I'm also talking to the vet about having Jedi neutered. It's probably a god thing in the long run. He has a slightly enlarged prostate and the vet said neutering would fix that as well.

And me: I'm disappointed. Breeder's talk of putting Jedi into her breeding program had me excited about getting a Jedi pup. *sigh* Now I have no idea when or where my next puppy is coming from. And -- surprisingly -- I'm sad that Jedi's show career is over. It pretty much was anyway, but there was always the chance that we could pick it up again late. Not now. So now we'll just focus on having fun with various dog sports instead.

Thanks for following along. Until next time, -- K

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Rats!

One of the best cartoons ever!
It's a good thing this is a dog blog, because I've got a shaggy-dog story for you! Try to keep up!

I like rats. I had rats as pets when I was a kid. They're intelligent, affectionate and trainable -- much better than nasty little biting hamsters. Hubby does not like rats. He thinks they have beady little eyes and gross hairless tails. (He's wrong of course.) Because of Hubby's aversion to rodents, I've only had one rat in the 30 years we've been together. Her name was Dot and she was absolutely wonderful. When we got orders to Japan, she couldn't go with us. Instead, she became the third grade pet at the elementary school. She was loved by children until the day she died.

At 28" X 28" X 18" this thing is huge
I dislike digging through old shit. Keep your "buried treasures." I've got enough of my own stuff to deal with, I don't want somebody else's. Unfortunately, Hubby is a "collector" for lack of better words. He enjoys yard sales and flea markets. He enjoys American Pickers entirely too much. And in Japan he fully embraced the concept of gomi. Once a month people would stack unwanted but still usable items outside. Neighbors would go through and take what they wanted. It was socially acceptable (or so I was told). Hubby brought home all kinds of crap! He still slows down when he sees stuff piled on the side of the road. To my horror, he brings things home all too often. About six months ago he came home with a large cage. It looked like it was designed for a ferret. It had several levels and three doors. I rolled my eyes, but it has sat on the porch ever since.

So fast forward to Mother's Day weekend. We went to a Barn Hunt trial and Jedi totally bombed. I signed up for four runs, each with two hidden rats. Out of a total of 8 possible rat's Jedi found exactly one. I was frustrated and assumed that Jedi was just overwhelmed by the new venue. Out of the blue, Hubby said "You know, you really should get some rats to practice at home." Then he reminded me about that eyesore on the porch. I jumped on that like Drogo on a mealworm!

So, all this is to say: Meet Hide!

Sorry for the picture quality. This little girl is FAST!
WARNING: Don't get your panties in a bunch. Yes, my rats will (hopefully) be trained to accept the tubes to help Jedi with his barn hunt training. However, they are pets. They are loved and well cared for. Animal Rights Activists can keep their ugly comments to themselves.

Buying pet rats has proven to be more difficult than you would think -- definitely more difficult than it was when I was a child. First of all, very few stores even carry fancy rats. (Feeder rats are a different story.) Those that do -- PetSmart and Petco -- have some strange rodents related policies. Three of the four Petco stores I went to only sold males, the fourth had very large (read old) mangy-looking white girls with pink eyes. Ick. PetSmart stores sell either male or female rodents, but not both. However, they don't advertise which, nor do they always know what the other stores carry. Grrr.

I want female rats. They stay smaller. I think they're more attractive too. Male rats have giant genitalia that they drag behind them and I think rat balls are gross. I also want more than one. Rats are social creatures and I think it would be nice to have a pair. Besides, the cage is huge. So Hubby and I drove around one Saturday. We probably hit 8 pet stores and found one female rat (Hide). A week later we hit another half dozen pet stores on the other side of town. Nada, sans the fugly girls mentioned above.

Hide (bottom) and Seek (top)
We had to stop by the reptile store to get horned worms for Drogo (his favorite). While there I asked if they had any small, female feeder rats that were relatively friendly. I told the reptile guy that it would be a pet. The guy went into the back and brought out ten very cute ones in a wide variety of colors and patterns. I stuck my hand in the tub and they were all friendly. I picked the gray one with a white triangle on her forehead and named her Seek. I felt bad choosing just one, knowing the other nine wouldn't be as lucky as this one. And when I saw the price -- a third of what PetSmart charged -- I was a little miffed that I had wasted all that time driving around town.

Hide was thrilled to have a friend. The girls cuddled and Hide was constantly grooming Seek. Unfortunately, Seek didn't appear well. She started sneezing right away. Her eyes weren't as bright and she didn't have the energy of Hide. I was hoping that with good food, fresh air and as little stress as possible she'd bounce back. I was wrong. Two days later Hubby found her dead in the cage. I guess feeder rats aren't expected to be as healthy as pet quality rats. I feel bad. I hope the last couple days of her life we happy ones.

So for now we're going to keep looking for another female rat while loving on Hide. Thankfully, she still appears to be healthy. Soon we'll make rat tubes and teach the girls to go in willingly. Meanwhile, Jedi is well aware that we a have a rat in the house. When I ask him "Where's the rat?" he runs over, noses the cage and sits. Who knows, we may get our RATO title after all! -- K

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Westminster Update

Earlier I admitted that I make great plans but suck at follow through. I wasn't joking. It's hard! But I'm still working toward a Westminster trip in 2018. Right now I have a whopping $1381 in my Westminster fund. Not bad for a disorganized person like me!

I've been talking to tour companies and think that I've narrowed things down to one. I estimate that the tour that I want --with all the extras plus airfare -- will be about $1,800. Yes, gasp. However, this is probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip so I might as well do it right.

I could lick the screen right now!
I'd like to be able to pay for everything by September. Coming up with the last $500 involves a little creativity. Confession: I eat out a lot. A LOT. I hate my kitchen, I love junk food and I suck at meal planning. This is the Fat Lady Trifecta. It's also expensive. So I've made a deal with myself. For every day I don't eat out, I will pay myself $5. Surely I'll save $5 by eating breakfast before work, bringing my lunch and throwing something together when I get home. I'm averaging about 20 bucks a week. Yeah, it's pathetic, but it's better than nothing, right? However, I could use some help.
  1. Prayers are good. So are happy thoughts and words of encouragement. Lord knows I need all the help I can get!
  2. Meal ideas, especially dinners. The thought of whipping up something low carb/diabetic friendly after a 10-hour shift is overwhelming.
  3. Budgeting tips. Again, I get tired/overwhelmed and just buy what's convenient. I'm sure I'm wasting a lot of money.
I just sent an email to the tour company specifying how many are going and which upgrades we want. I asked for a grand total and instructions on how to move forward from here. OMG, I think I'm actually going to do this! I'll keep you posted. -- K

Monday, May 29, 2017

Nosework News

Jedi looking for odor 
Some interesting things are happening for us regarding nosework. First of all, our favorite trainer is back in Jacksonville once a week to teach a class. We're very, very excited about that. As I mentioned earlier, the AKC has joined the nosework game. They're calling it Scent Work and the rules are slightly different from what we've been doing. However, I think the changes are more difficult for me than they are for Jedi. For him the rules are pretty much the same:
  1. Find odor
  2. Tell Mom
  3. Get cookie
Trainer has been working with the AKC for a couple of years to get this program launched. She's already an approved AKC scent work judge. The classes she's teaching incorporate AKC scent work as well as UKC nosework, so we should be good to go when trials officially start in the fall. The biggest of challenge for us is buried hides. Jedi will now have to find a particular odor that has been buried in dirt.

More exciting news: my German Shepherd Dog Club has applied for licensing to hold official Scent Work trials. We have to prove to the AKC that we are knowledgeable and capable. We sent the application in last week. I think we have a shot! About a quarter of our members have experience with canine scent work. We have a trainer/UKC nosework judge, a retired K-9 officer with experience detecting explosive and narcotics (it counts!), and members with titles through UKC (the United Kennel Club) and NACSW (National Association of Canine Scent Work). We have successfully put on AKC conformation shows so the AKC knows we can follow procedures, fill out all the necessary paperwork, hire judges, secure venues, obtain insurance, advertise, etc. Cross your fingers we get approved!

Jedi chillin' in the hotel before the trial
Jedi, Hubby and I went to Ocala in early April for UKC nosework trials. This was the weekend before the German Shepherd Dog Club's show weekend. I was super stressed and ended up sick. I was achy and nauseated and could barely keep my eyes open. Hubby would wake me up so I could trial and then I would go back to sleep in my beach chair. Needless to say, I don't have any pictures from that weekend. Despite my illness, we did pretty good. We got one leg for our Advanced Containers title. He missed the second hide, and I blame it on handler error.

The following day was Handler Discrimination. That one's tough. I had a cotton glove with my scent on it. It was hidden in one of 12 boxes and Jedi had to find it. To make it more challenging, we were outside surrounded by feral cats. Jedi thinks cat poop is much more interesting than boxes. Still, he found the right box both times, earning two of the three legs he needs for the novice title!

We're going to continue to train but I don't see anything exciting happening on the nosework front until October. Hopefully we'll be prepared. I'll let you know! -- K

Saturday, May 27, 2017

2017 Shows

The 2017 German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida dog shows are over. We held three shows in two days. The turnout was better than it has been in the last few years (over 50 dogs each show!) and we received a lot of positive feedback. That being said, putting on the shows was a lot of work for the entire club. As usual, I overextended myself. In addition to heading up concessions and running around trying to do last minute things, I also stewarded the afternoon show. I was exhausted and didn't take any pictures (gasp). Here are a few I stole from my friends off Facebook.

The dogs (males) lining up

Last minute grooming before going into the ring

Dogs in x-pens awaiting their turn

Our concessions are always well-received . . .

And our raffle baskets can't be beat!

The highlight for the clean-up crew: We got to meet Rumor! (And her owner/handler, Kent Boyles.)
Rumor won the Westminster Dog Show this year.

Regular readers know that I love dog shows. This year I was fortunate enough to sit next to a judge during a show and get his running commentary. I learned more in that hour than I have in the entire year. It was awesome! If you'd like to learn more about dog shows, check out my Dog Show Info page. Not only does it have my A to Z of Dog Shows posts (seriously, I wrote 26 alphabetical posts for dog show beginners!) it also has links to some of my favorite dog show-related pages. And if you're ever in the North Florida area, let me know. I'd love to meet up and watch a show together. See you ringside! -- K

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