Monday, May 27, 2019

Snuffle What?

I was scrolling through a FB group the other day and kept seeing snuffle mats mentioned. These mats are like extreme samples of 70's shag carpet. The object is to hide tiny bits of food inside so dogs have to root around to get the tidbits. It engages a dog's nose and brain by mimicking hunting for food in the wild. Apparently dogs really enjoy it.

I was intrigued. And I wanted one. Like any other American girl, I searched "snuffle mat" on Amazon. They averaged $30-40 each. Uh, no. Then I Googled "DIY Snuffle Mat" and found step-by-step instructions from The Honest Kitchen. Much better! I was able to make my own snuffle mat for $10. I ordered the sink mats from Amazon (two for $8) and bought 1.5 yards of cheap fleece from Walmart.

Trooper was happy with the results. If you want to make your own, print out the instructions from the link above. But first, here are a few tips from me:
  • Get the thin fleece. Your running four strips per hole. It gets tight! My finger tips still hurt from all the shoving and pulling.
  • Tight knots will give you more room in the little holes.
  • Go with one color/pattern of fabric. I had plans of making a fun pattern using 3 different fabrics. You can't tell, and I spent way too much time on it.
  • Get a rotary cutter! I lost count of how many strips I cut, but it was well over 600 for a small, 11" X 12.5" mat.

Canine Enrichment is the fancy smanchy term for "working your dog's brain so he doesn't get bored and destroy your stuff." In the past few years it's become a thing. There are books, videos, online classes and Facebook Groups dedicated to this. It's a good time to be a dog.

I've been doing -- and sharing -- enrichment activities for years.(What can I say? I like my stuff unchewed.) I recently gathered some of my favorite posts and made an enrichment page for the blog. Click on the tab above to see 20+ different fun and cheap enrichment activities. Enjoy! -- K

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Stand Still

Trooper has decided that he would rather not stand for exam. J-lyn and I have been running our hands all over him since birth. He doesn't even notice when I touch his testicles. However, when the judge tries to touch him during the exam he sits down. What's a girl to do?

More training classes would help. Unfortunately, I've been swamped lately and haven't been able to make it out to a class. And even though Trooper comes to work with me, there's nobody I feel comfortable enough to ask "Will you grope my dog?"

So you can imagine my excitement when I got an email from the Fenzi Dog Academy about an upcoming workshop entitled Confident Stand for Exams. The course description read:
In this workshop we will work on your dog understanding that exams are not about being petted! This will take the pressure off your shy dog and your over greater will have less conflict about wanting to say "Hi."
My reaction was something like this:

I've watched the workshop video/lecture several times. I'm hopeful and frustrated at the same time. I think I can train Trooper to willingly and comfortably stand for exam. However, it's probably going to take patience and baby steps -- neither are a strong point for me. This is our plan of action:
  1. Teach Trooper to put his chin in my hand when asked. This is a consent behavior.
  2. Add the cue "chin." Increase duration before moving on.
  3. While in position, move my empty hand around him, rewarding him for ignoring the movement. Increase duration before moving on.
  4. While in position, touch him much like a judge's exam. Reward him for ignoring the touch. Increase duration before moving on.
  5. While in position, have person he knows well walk by. Reward him for ignoring the movement. Increase duration before moving on.
  6. While in position, have person he knows well touch him much like a judge's exam. Reward him for ignoring the touch. Increase duration before moving on.
  7. While in position, have helper/stranger walk by. Reward him for ignoring the movement. Increase duration before moving on.
  8. While in position, have helper/stranger touch him much like a judge's exam. Reward him for ignoring the touch.
We're still working on step one, but he's picked it up really fast. The ultimate goal is to teach Trooper that the exam just is, and he's not required to interact with the judge (or veterinarian). If he could learn to trust that I'll protect him, then even better.

Consent is a new, emerging thought in dog training. I'll share more later, but the gist is that:
  • Some dogs (like people) are extremely sensitive to emotional pressure and can shut down completely when stressed. Sound like Trooper to you?
  • Dogs (like people) are more likely to work harder and more cheerfully if they feel their wishes are respected.
This is going to be a challenge for us. Trooper is the most sensitive dog I've ever owned. He picks up on my frustration and takes it personally -- even if it has nothing to do with him. I am going to have to be cognizant of my mood and body language. Wish us luck! -- K

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tractor Trooper

Who needs Bob the Builder? I have Tractor Trooper!

So . . .

     It was another slow day.

          Trooper and I were bored.

               The tractor was unlocked.

                      And frankly, I couldn't resist.

All silliness aside, these funny photo shoots are good training opportunities.
  • Trooper is learning to trust me. My requests may be kooky, but I'll keep him safe.
  • Trooper builds confidence climbing into strange vehicles.
  • Trooper has to figure out how to negotiate unfamiliar spaces. This is great for rear end awareness.
  • Trooper is practicing long stays from a distance while I take the picture.
See, enrichment. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

If you want to take crazy pics of your pups (and who wouldn't?) don't go for the big rig right away. Start small and work your way up. Among other things, Trooper was in a police car, an ATV and a smaller tractor before this.

So what's next? I don't know. You'll have to stick around to find out. TTFN, -- K

Monday, May 13, 2019

Pouting Pup

A bored German shepherd is never a good thing. GSDs are smart. Sometimes too smart. If you don't keep them mentally stimulated, they will find something to do -- and you probably won't like it. Do I need to remind you about Trooper and the remote? We try to give the dogs various enrichment activities (training, food toys, puzzles, etc.) to keep them occupied. As a bonus, it also keeps them from being underfoot.

The other night Hubby shoved a large Milk Bone into the JW Hol-ee Ball. The ball is pliable and Jedi could have compressed it to either break the biscuit or pull it out. Instead, he carried it around the house for hours, whining the entire time. He couldn't figure out how to remove the biscuit -- and he surely wasn't going to let Trooper try!

I laughed at him and had to take a picture of him pouting. Big baby. Eventually, Hubby removed the treat and let Jedi have it. The next day, Hubby shoved a Milk Bone into the ball again before going to work. Jedi must have figured it out because the ball was empty when I got home.

So, what do you do to entertain your dogs? Seriously, we're running out of ideas! -- K

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Making a Difference for K-9s

Race shirt artwork
Back in November I told you about a bill being proposed here in Florida to increase the penalties for intentionally killing a police K-9s. The bill, named the "Fang Memorial Bill” in honor of a local police K-9 (a German Shepherd) killed last year, was signed by the Governor a couple weeks ago. The bill triples the maximum penalties from five years in a state prison to 15 and raises the fine from $5,000 to $15,000 and includes fire dogs, search & rescue dogs and horses used for mounted units. Go Florida! Only two other states -- Utah and South Carolina -- have similar laws in effect to protect our K-9 heroes.

Before Fang, another local K-9 was killed in the line of duty. K-9 Baron (also a GSD) was killed in St. Johns County in 2014. That shook the community. In response, K9s United was formed. This group raises money to provide training, first aid and needed equipment for police K-9s nationwide. When there are budgetary constraints, animals often get the short end of the stick. (Ask any animal control officer/municipal shelter for examples!) K9s United has vowed to stand in the gap.

One popular fundraiser is a race for awareness. K9s United held a 5K/9K/1-mile fun run here in Jacksonville, also in honor of Fang. Eight brave GSD club members formed a walking team. Our ages range from 44 to 69. We may not have been the youngest, fastest or biggest team walking, but nobody could beat our love of dogs. We even stood in a looooong line to have our picture taking with a Police K-9 (the GSD, of course).

Club members pose with K9 Erin and her handler, Sgt. Gillick
The race opened with our Senator, Aaron Bean, and Fang's handler, Officer Herrera, sharing how the bill was passed. There were cheers and tears. The race followed by K9 demonstrations of obedience, odor detection, officer protection and the crowd's favorite -- bad guy apprehension. K9 officers from all over the state came to the event.

I'm sore and tired, but my soul is happy. Today, I helped make a difference. Later, -- K

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Satin Balls

Skinny pup!
I'm having a hard time keeping weight on Trooper. I'm not worried. He's young and active. When Jedi was younger, he also went through periods where he'd burn more calories than he could take in with his regular kibble. Looking back, it was usually this time of year. (Now that Jedi's an old fart and we're trying to take weight off.) Maybe Trooper is headed toward another growth spurt. Ugh. I guess it's time to make a batch of Satin Balls!

Say what?! Satin Balls are nutrient-rich, high calorie treats used in the dog show community to improve coats and put weight on a skinny dog, quickly. There are many recipe variations are on the internet, but this is the one that I like best. The dog rescue community also uses Satin Balls to put weight on underweight dogs.

Satin Balls
  • 5 pounds ground chuck or high fat ground beef
  • 1/2 large box of Whole Grain Total (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 large box quick-cooking oats (about 7 1/2 cups)
  • 5-6 eggs, with crushed shells (rinse eggs to remove any chemicals on shell)
  • 1/2 jar of wheat germ (about 2 cups)
  • 5 packets unflavored gelatin
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch of sea salt
Mix all ingredients in a giant bowl or a clean 5 gallon bucket. You'll need to use your hands for this! I divide the mixture in to 1/4 cup patties, putting six each into Ziplock freezer bags. I get about 90 patties. Store in the freezer until ready to use. I'll pop two in the microwave for 30 seconds and serve them warm over a little bit of kibble.

About the Ingredients

Obviously this isn't an exact recipe, but here is the reasoning be the ingredients:
  • Beef: If the goal is to improve the coat, use leaner ground beef. If the goal is to put weight on quickly, use ground beef with higher fat content. Ground turkey can be used as well.
  • Whole Grain Total: The cereal provides vitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and B12, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Some recipes discourage the use of Total cereal due to its sugar content.
  • Oats: This is a good source of fiber and other nutrients.
  • Eggs: Eggs are also one of the most complete sources of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. They also provide vitamins A and B12, riboflavin, folate, iron, selenium and fatty acids. The shells add calcium.
  • Wheat germ: This provides vitamin E, folic acid, phosphorus, thiamin, zinc and magnesium.
  • Gelatin: This helps the ball hold their shape. It also adds collagen and nitrogen.
  • Molasses: This provides manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and selenium. (It also makes them smell really good when you heat them up -- but don't eat them!) 
Yum yum! I'm headed to the grocery store now. Catch you later, -- K

Monday, May 6, 2019

The After-Match

It was a long weekend for Trooper
The Match is in the books. Whoopie. If you remember, my German Shepherd Dog Club agreed to hold an AKC Sanctioned GSD Specialty B Match in conjunction with a breeder's annual BBQ.

We had ten regular entries and three in junior showmanship. We also offered a 4-6 month puppy (non-regular) class. Only one person entered that competition, making the class a waste of time and money. The trophy, rosette and ribbons cost more than the single entry fee we took in. I wouldn’t recommend offering it next time. (Live and learn, right?)

Participants and spectators seemed to have had a good time. I have mixed feelings about how things went. I'd like to share what worked, what didn't and what could be done differently -- just in case any of you ever think of doing this!

Know your audience -- I assumed that the match participants would be people new to the sport and/or with new dogs. I overestimated the group! Most of the match participants were absolutely clueless about dog shows. They didn't know what class to enter their dogs in -- they didn't even know what classes were! We were sharing leads and collars, reminding people to keep dogs on the left and explaining what a stack was from the ringside. A couple people showed up in flip-flops and ended up running around the ring barefoot.

Our entry form asked for email addresses. After the show I sent an email to all entrants. It included links to a few AKC resources to help make their next dog show experience even more enjoyable. I referred them to Info Dog to find shows, saying that nearby Ocala has several every month. I also emailed some information about the German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida with links to our website and FB page.

Ribbons, trophies and baskets, oh my!
Know your location -- I wasn't able to visit the property beforehand. As such, decisions made based on photos were changed during set up. The area used for the ring was in a corner of a field surrounded by large trees to keep it shaded during the morning. We used the existing fence for most of the ring. The BBQ festivities were being held at the other end of the property so we decided not to put up our large, labor-intensive canopies. In hindsight, it would have been better to just grab a few necessary items and transport those instead of towing the entire club trailer. The trailer hadn't been reorganized since the Specialty shows. Overloaded and off balance, it would sway every time we went over 55 MPH. This added an extra hour to our drive and put too much stress on my husband our truck.

Know your budget -- We only took entries the day of the match. This made paperwork and money handling easier. It probably brought in a few last minute entries too. However, it made things hard to shop for. We ordered 1st through 4th place ribbons for every class offered. It's customary to give toys to each match entrant. Having no idea how many people would be coming, I bought 30 just in case. Even being frugal, they add up. Sure, we can use the leftover toys another time, but the cost is still added to this event's bottom line. I'm hoping that we broke even, as our club doesn't have much in the way of disposable income.

Know your expectations -- I expected the match to be a practice show with new but semi-knowledgeable people handling their own dogs ... like every other match I've ever attended. Apparently, the breeder and her people did not. 90% of them used the same two teenagers to run their dogs around the ring and they had no clue as to what was taking place. 

Our club was told that hosting the match would be a great way for the northeastern Florida GSD community to meet the central Florida GSD community, "a source of potential new members." Unfortunately, hosting the match as a way to promote the German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida was a bust. Only one person at the BBQ expressed any interest in the club. It's been a week since my email went out and nobody has responded.

Best in Match was Trooper's brother! See the resemblance?
Know your limitations -- This endeavor was too much for me and Hubby to shoulder alone. Several of the people we thought were going to help pulled out at the last minute for various reasons. Others showed up late or left early because they had double-booked for the weekend. And honestly, the distance from Jacksonville to Dunnellon was longer than most club members wanted to drive.

Finally, I’m a little miffed that nobody from the German Shepherd Dog Club of Orlando or the Tampa Bay German Shepherd Dog Club showed up – especially since we had to jump through hoops to get permission from both of them to even hold the match. Will I do this again? No. If asked, I would suggest one of the following options:
  • Find another host. The breeder should reach out to the German Shepherd Dog Club of Orlando or the Tampa Bay German Shepherd Dog Club. They are closer and would have an easier time getting club members to help out. They are also more likely to local members. Being that the AKC claims Dunnellon is in those territories, they wouldn't have to petition for the permissions that we did to hold the match.

  • DIY Fun Match. Since the breeder isn't an AKC sanctioned club, she isn't bound by the rules that we are. My GSD club couldn't hold a fun match because we were opening up to non-members. Because we held a B Match, we had to use AKC's rules of judging. This upset a bunch of people with neutered dogs who wanted to enter. (These people obviously don't understand the intent of conformation dog shows in the first place -- but that's a post for another day.) The breeder, however, can just set up a ring and do whatever she wants. Judging by the skill and interest levels of breeder's clientele, I doubt the would mind -- or notice -- that it wasn't a "real" match.
So there you go -- the good, the bad and the ugly of my first time as Match Chair. If you ever take on that role, please learn from my mistakes. Be better than me. And send me an invitation to the match! See you around the ring, -- K

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Places We Go

It was a long drive to Dunnellon (and back) for the match last weekend. Jedi can only ride for about 90 minutes before he starts to fuss.

We try to stop at places that are interesting for the dogs. On this last trip we found a Tractor Supply. There were all kinds of new smells to explore -- including chicks and ducklings.

Trooper wasn't sure what to think of all the peeping coming from the tub. Sorry for the picture quality. I guess I was laughing too hard. Gotta love dogs! -- K

Friday, April 26, 2019

K2 Awards

My GSD Club gives out awards for a variety of reasons. Invariably, we wait until the last minute to place the order. (You'd think we'd learn.) We found a company that will customize various items -- plaques, metal, wood and even trophies -- quickly and for a reasonable price. Their customer service department will calmly walk a frustrated woman through the process -- again -- when she (ok, *I*) can't figure out the online order form. Below is a sampling of some of the things we've gotten done.

I don't make it a habit to give away free advertising. However, I am extremely impressed with the service we've received from K2 Awards. If you're looking for club award ideas, I hope this helps.

As I post this, I'm headed out the door to set up for our Specialty Match this weekend. In my SUV are the personalized judges gifts that I ordered last week. They're beautiful. And nobody has to know that I waited until the last minute. See you around the ring, -- K

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Super Trooper

Trooper still goes to work with me several days a week. I don't trust him to be loose in the house all day, and I don't want to crate him for 10 hours straight. Sometimes when things are slow I take silly pictures. For example:

Hope it made you smile. Happy Wednesday! -- K

Monday, April 22, 2019

Trooper's Near Death Experience

Like millions of other people, I am a Game of Thrones nut. I read the first book in 2003. I loved it and hated it at the same time. I may or may not have called my mother and told her she was an evil, horrible woman for sending me the book. Then I read the second book. And the third. (Do you see where I'm going with this?) The only reason we pay for HBO is because of the series.

After waiting nearly two years, I squealed with glee when the final season started last week. And I swore like a sailor when the episode was over. (54 minutes my ass!) So what does this have to do with Trooper?

Actual crime scene photos

I was at work and Hubby texted me pictures of the cable remote. Trooper had decided to use it as a chew toy. It was inoperable. (Hubby tried!) We had less than 12 hours before Game of Thrones. And it was Easter Sunday. Comcast was closed. Trooper was hiding in his crate because he knew I was coming home and going Cersei Lannister on his ass.

Yes, she's evil. But she gets shit done!
I posted pictures on the internet. Most of my friends laughed at my pain. Others suggested "the app" or running HBO Go through the PlayStation. Meanwhile, Hubby called customer service. The woman at Comcast helped him load an app onto his phone so it could be used as a remote for the TV. We were able to watch Game of Thrones, and Trooper lives another day.

At 14 months, I thought Trooper was past the destruction phase. Grrr. His teenage hormones have short-circuited his brain. He seems to have forgotten how to sit and down on command, and he thinks that wait is optional. I'm at my wits end. Manners class can't start soon enough! I'll keep you posted (on Trooper; you'll have to watch Game of Thrones for yourself). -- K

P.S. I went to Comcast after work on Monday, mangled remote in hand. They enjoyed the story and handed me a new one -- no questions asked.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter

Every year the non-profit group Friends of Clay County Animals holds a doggie Easter Egg Hunt to raise money for shelter animals. It's a lot of fun. Several GSD club members participate every year then head out to a dog-friendly restaurant. It's good socialization for dogs and people alike.

Look behind Trooper and you can see how well the eggs were hidden

This was Trooper's first year going. We were in a park at one of the busiest intersections in town. There were hundreds of people, each with at least one dog. And the DJ this year was extra loud. Despite all the commotion, Trooper did great!

Jedi's booty! He shared with Gus, the puggle behind him. Good boy, Jedi.

The rules are simple. If a dog touches an egg with his nose, his human can pick it up. There were 1200 eggs "hidden" in the field. Each egg contained a dog treat. Between both dogs we probably found 50 eggs. We even found one stuffed with a slip of paper redeemable for a special bag of treats. The boys made out this year.

Jedi and Trooper don't care about the giant rabbit behind them

While at the event we waited in line for the obligatory Easter Bunny photo (above). The dogs couldn't have cared less and the photo was way too dark. We'll just call it a donation to a good cause. At least the boys didn't try to eat him. I think Hubby told them we're having ham for Easter.

Hope you and yours have a happy Easter. TTFN, -- K

Friday, April 19, 2019

30 Years, 47 Dead and One Personal Miracle

Kelley's Dog Blog is stepping away from the dogs today. Please bear with me. You see, 30 years ago today something horrible happened -- and I missed it. A random decision made by someone I never met changed the course of my life. At the time I was annoyed, but now I'm eternally grateful. Here's the story of my personal miracle.

Me & my M-14 (Gaeta, Italy, 1988)
In late 1988 I was in the US Navy. I was on the fast track in the male-dominated field of weapons technology. In December of that year my naval career was derailed by a surprise pregnancy. At the same time my new husband (also a sailor) was offered his dream job: Turret Two, Center Gun, Gun Captain on the USS Iowa. The Navy was not friendly to dual-military families in the 80s so we had a hard decision to make: one of us had to quit to raise that baby.

In January of 1989 I (begrudgingly) returned to civilian life and started packing up our household to make the move from Mayport, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia. At the last minute my husband received a call from a Senior Chief Reginald Ziegler. The senior chief wanted Hubby to attend a school in San Diego, California for three months before reporting to the Iowa. This required us to put all our stuff in storage and drive across the country (and back) in an '89 Camaro as my belly grew larger and larger. Hubby was to join the ship in June, a week before it left port for a 6-month Mediterranean cruise. This new plan left me to find a place to live and unpack, alone and eight months pregnant. Yeah, I grumbled. In fact, I bitched at all the way to California.

The USS Iowa in all her glory
But then tragedy struck. On April 19, 1989, there was an explosion on the USS Iowa inside the center gun of turret two. 47 people died, including Senior Chief Ziegler and the gun captain. Had it not been for that last minute change I would've been a 20-year-old unemployed, pregnant widow. I know, wow.

The story doesn't end there! When the Iowa pulled back into Norfolk in December of 1989 families of the 47 victims visited the ship and laid a wreath upon the turret. Iowa sailors then gave tours to various family members. Can you guess who Hubby was assigned to escort? Mrs. Ziegler. (I couldn't make this up if I tried!) She shared that she was suffering from some serious health issues and was having a hard time with her husband's death. Hubby shared the story of how her husband's arbitrary decision saved his life, and then showed her a picture of our newborn son -- one he would've never met had it not been for her husband. They both cried.

The moment Hubby met our son for the first time
Several weeks later, Hubby was assigned to discreetly remove and dispose of the wreath. He did, but not before pocketing one of the iridescent plastic stars. It's chipped and it's ugly, yet I hang it on my Christmas tree every year in memory of the Iowa 47.  

On this day every year I say a prayer for the families, with an extra one for Mrs. Ziegler. The accident was pre-internet. I have no idea where she is or what became of her. If I did, I would tell her how sorry I am for her loss and how grateful I am for her husband. I would tell her that Hubby and I have been happily married for over 30 years and have two grown children. Her husband saved me from the unimaginable grief she had to go through. My family is forever indebted to her husband. I feel so blessed. And at the same time I feel so guilty. I hope that Mrs. Ziegler eventually found peace and happiness.

I rarely tell this story because I can't share it without sobbing uncontrollably. Fortunately, I can cry and type at the same time. Thank you for reading this to the end. Please say a prayer for the families of the Iowa 47. I know it's been three decades since the accident, but I doubt that the pain of their losses will ever completely go away. And say an extra prayer for the family of Senior Chief Ziegler.

OK, enough tears. Fun doggie stuff returns tomorrow. Promise. -- K

Thursday, April 18, 2019

How's It Going?

Love the head tilt!
OMG. It's April! Where did the time go?

This is always a busy month for me.
  • My GSD Club holds our annual Specialty Shows the first Friday of April every year. It's time consuming. Last year I was show secretary. (I blogged the journey here.) This year I had a dog in the show
  • Taxes were due. The news had been saying for months that changes in the tax code were reducing refunds. I usually owe, so I worried (and procrastinated) until the deadline. I did my taxes last weekend and yes, I owed -- a whopping $26. Now I'm chastising myself for waiting and causing myself so much unnecessary stress.
  • Jedi and I are taking scent work classes again. Our favorite trainer has returned to Jacksonville. Again. And GSD club members want to follow up our last workshop with regular practice sessions. Maybe we'll be ready to trial before the year is out. I'll keep you updated.
  • And the most pressing right now: our AKC Sanctioned Specialty B Match is next weekend. I'm the Match Chair and am trying to hammer out all the final details. Between you and me I'm just shy of freaking out right now. Hopefully, it'll go well. Either way, I'll tell you all about it later.
Good news: I'm done with my Pity Party. The dogs and I are going to spend the next few months working on the basics. Along with Jedi's scent work classes, Trooper is starting a manners class next month with a favorite trainer of mine. And I'm blogging again. Yay! (It's always easier when I have something worth sharing.) I've got half a dozen future posts sketched out. And I've got a special, very personal post ready to go for tomorrow, so I hope you come back. Later, -- K

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

2019 Specialty Shows

Our 2019 Specialty Shows are over. Trooper was among two dozen beautiful German shepherds vying to be judged Best of Breed. SPOILER: Trooper wasn't that dog. But he did look good. See:

He's looking for Mom

Look at that beautiful flying trot!

Trooper looks good from any angle

Still not fond of the exam, but at least Trooper cooperated

Trooper was handled by co-owner PG, and the photos were taken by co-owner J-Lyn with J-Lyn Photography. My job was to pray that he wouldn't do anything stupid.

Trooper started limping during his last pass around the ring in the morning show. I don't know why. Did he step wrong? Could he have pano? (He's in that age range.) Whatever the cause, I pulled him from the afternoon show. I didn't want to exacerbate anything. Plus, Trooper was entered in two more shows that weekend. I gave him rest and Rimadyl. J-Lyn and I re-evaluated his gait each morning. Fortunately, he seemed okay. He took Reserve Winners Dog both days. Basically, that's first runner-up. Not great -- and worth zero points -- but we'll take it!

Checking out the ring before the show starts

Trooper's wins. Both days looked the same.

Trooper is going to take a break from the show ring. He needs time to mature. He has his big-boy body, but still has a little-boy brain. He needs to gain some confidence and learn self-control. We'll reassess in the fall. In the meantime, I've signed him up for a Manners class, with hopes of working toward Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog titles. Hopefully we'll have plenty to share. Later, -- K

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Waking Up is Hard to Do

I am not a morning person. I hit the snooze button at least 2-3 times before rolling out of bed. I enjoy the stillness of a quiet morning. I don't like to make decisions before coffee. I don't like conversation before coffee. TBH, I don't like people before coffee. (Not that I like people much better after coffee.) I need time to warm up to the world.

Trooper is a morning dog. Until we got him, I didn't know there was such a thing. Trooper can't wait to start the day. My alarm goes off at 5 AM. Several days a week he's in my face at 4:45 -- just because. It's a cruel, cosmic joke. I made this meme to illustrate, though in reality Trooper's switch would be spring loaded.

I try not to get too annoyed with Trooper. He's a sensitive dog and his feelings get hurt easily, so I try to contain my displeasure to a couple aggressive grunts.

Today is an especially rough day. Between Trooper's exuberance, Hubby's snoring and the million thoughts in my head about this week's dog show, I've been up since 2 AM -- and it's a work day. I feel like crap. I'm counting the minutes until I can go home and crawl back into bed. Ugh. -- K

P.S. Funny Fact: Jedi knows I'm not a morning person. If he has to go out in the middle of the night he wakes Hubby. Good boy, Jedi!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What's Up Buck?

I came into work Sunday morning after having three days off. Among the three dozen emails waiting for me, I had two from the same address with the subject "loose dog" on one. The emails came three hours apart, each with a picture (below).

Nothing else was provided -- not even the name of the complainant. All I had is a weird email address from "Buckaroo" at After I said a few choice words finished my coffee, I replied:
Thank you for your recent emails. I received two pictures of a dog behind and next to a fence but no text. Please elaborate. When did this happen? Where did this happen? You say "loose dog" -- how do you know? (For all I know, it could be a dog in his own yard.) Do you know where the dog lives? Did you take these pictures?
I've attached an animal control affidavit and a copy of the city's animal-related ordinances. 4-24 covers animals at large, 4-25 covers leashing and 4-26(c) addresses no immediate clean up. Depending on your statement, the dog owner could be cited for one or more of the above offenses. Please look at 4-30(d). It explains that I must either witness the offense or have a sworn affidavit from someone who did (you?) before I can issue a citation.

Please call me if you'd like to discuss this further.

I'm still waiting. In the interim, I'd like to explain some legalities so that you, my Blogging Buddies, are better informed than the average Small Beach Town resident.
  • Affidavit -- This is a written sworn statement of fact (not opinion or speculation). The statement is voluntary, signed and notarized. When used to write a citation, the affidavit becomes public record.
  • The 6th Amendment -- The "Confrontation Clause" of the U.S. Constitution states that a person has the right to know and confront his/her accuser. This means that we don't write tickets based on anonymous complaints. Also, if I write a citation on an affidavit and it goes to court, the affiant (person writing the affidavit) must appear in court to be cross-examined. If the affiant blows off court (it's happened) the citation is thrown out. 
  • Hearsay -- This is evidence given by someone who doesn't have direct knowledge, but rather is based on what others have said. Example: "My neighbor told me the dog was running at large last week."

People often get upset by the things above. They "want something done" but at the same time "don't want to get involved," thus limiting what I can do. Of course, there are other things complainants can do like:
  1. Call the department when an incident is occurring and have an officer dispatched to the location to witness the event in person or
  2. Talk to the neighbors directly
These options are usually met with resistance. Option 1 requires people do something. The big complaint is "that's too much work." (Seriously!) There's also the chance that an ACO won't be on duty, is on another call and/or arrives on scene too late to see what's going on. Option 2 requires people to actually speak to each other cordially and try to come to an agreement. The reactions I get to this suggestion range from disbelief to outrage.

I do my best to educate residents and keep the peace. See, I'm more than an Animal Control Officer, I'm also an underpaid Pseudo Civics Teacher! Maybe I should add that to my list of "other duties as required." TTFN, -- K

P.S. Emails sent to and from my work address are public record. (Remember when the City Manager's emails were used against me during my cruelty case?) Therefore, sharing them with you is not violating anything. However, I do change names and other identifying data to protect my ass from overzealous whiners.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Pity Party

It's been a lousy weekend for me and the dogs. I've spent the last few hours crying, swearing and questioning my decisions. Welcome to my pity party. To be honest, I debated on whether I was even going to post this.

Trooper: As you know, Trooper went to North Carolina this weekend for a bunch of shows, including the Southeast Futurity/Maturity show. We thought he was ready. We were wrong. Trooper has decided that NOW is the time to be a headstrong adolescent. Sigh. He's not having a good time and he's making sure everybody knows it. I watched him on FB live streaming and my heart dropped. Trooper's not cooperating with his handler and refusing to let the judges touch him. He was excused from one show, and dead last in the next. J-Lyn and I agreed to pull him from the last two shows. Trooper doesn't need to develop any bad habits in the ring (like thinking he can get his way by acting the fool). Nor does he need to show his ass in front of everybody at the Futurity. We feel we made the best decision under the circumstances. Unfortunately, I don't get my entry fees back.

I've already paid for four shows the first weekend of April. I'm not getting that money back either. We'll try to show him again -- maybe he'll do better with me present. If not, we'll pull him then too. Either way, I plan to stop showing him for the next 6-9 months and allow him to mature. J-Lyn suggested that we focus our energy on fun, performance sports in the interim to help build confidence and self-control -- things like Fast CAT, dock diving and barn hunt. Speaking of barn hunt . . .

Jedi: Hubby, Jedi and I spent the weekend in Deland. Our favorite trial site was offering an advanced BH workshop on Friday night. Jedi has just moved up from Open to Senior -- a big jump in both difficulty and entry prices. I was hoping the training would give us an advantage for Saturday's trials, so I forked out the workshop fee plus a hotel stay. I was wrong. Jedi did the U-shaped tunnel. I was afraid he wouldn't. But he only found 2 of the 4 rats on each run. Jedi still doesn't seem to realize there are additional hides. (And this was not addressed in the workshop. Grrr.) Hubby recorded our runs. On playback I could see that Jedi was frustrated and spent a third of our allotted search time checking out the spectators. 

My weekend
Me: I added things up. I probably shouldn't have. This weekend was a $300 disaster. So now I'm wondering: WTF am I doing? How can I fix these issues? Should I even try? I don't want to frustrate my dogs. I also don't want to waste money on frustrated dogs. Hell, I'M frustrated. I probably shouldn't make any major decisions right now. I think I'm going to lick my wounds, eat some cheesecake and take a long nap. I'll make decisions later. Until then, -- K

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

New Toy

Hubby and I were in Petsmart the other day and found this funny plastic snake toy from Puppies R Us. A few weeks ago it was all the rage on the canine enrichment FB group I follow. I thought it was interesting -- and for $8 it worth a try.

I filled the slot underneath with kibble and treats. Jedi pulled out the easy-to-reach pieces but decided that the others weren't worth the effort. Trooper didn't care about the treats at all.

Trooper squeaked the head a few times before he got bored. Then took the toy into the backyard and left it there. Eventually, I retrieved it, washed the sand off and stuck it in my donate box. Hopefully someone else's dog will enjoy it.

Long story short: My dogs weren't impressed by the snake toy and would have rather I spent the money on more treats. Save your $$. -- K

Monday, March 18, 2019

Liar Liar

Dean Russo print. I LOVE his stuff!
There's a saying that goes "Dogs don't lie about love." I totally believe that. When it comes to dogs, a sigh, a look, or a lean speaks volumes. I love my dogs dearly -- and I know they love me even more. Dogs are always honest about their feelings. No, they don't lie about love. Want to know what dogs do lie about?


Hubby called me at work and asked if I had fed the dog before I left. Jedi was behaving strangely. And when Hubby asked if he was hungry, Jedi became especially animated. When I told Hubby that Jedi had already eaten I heard him say "Liar! Mommy said she fed you."

Hubby was shocked that our loving, loyal German shepherd would try to scam a second meal. Not me! I've been around dogs long enough to know that their stomachs always override their brains.

I think J.R.R. Tolkien modelled Hobbits after dogs. Don't believe me? Look at this:

Confession time: Jedi has put on eight pounds since we brought Trooper home. Part of it is because he's not getting the walks he used to. That's something that I am trying fix. But the part I'm having the most trouble with is Hubby. He feels bad leaving Jedi home alone during the week (Trooper still goes to work with me). Often Hubby will fill a puzzle ball and/or hide dog cookies around the house so that Jedi has something to do. However, Hubby doesn't tell me this beforehand. If he did, I'd cut Jedi's breakfast in half to compensate for the additional calories. Instead, Jedi gets Second Breakfast. And possibly Elevensies. Jedi doesn't mind at all.

I saw this meme on Facebook and it made me think of Jedi:

Dogs. (And husbands.) Gotta love them. Right? -- K

Friday, March 15, 2019

One Last Match

Trooper turned a year old last month. He's not a puppy any more. Last weekend the Jacksonville Dog Fanciers' Association held an All-Breed Match. This was his last chance to run around the ring before J-Lyn takes him to North Carolina for the Southeast Futurity/Maturity shows.

A teenager from my GSD Club was there with Trooper's cousin, Jethro. Teen entered Jethro in the Junior Handler competition and they came in 3rd! Jethro is neutered, so he can't compete in regular classes. I offered to let Teen take Trooper into the ring. I told her it would be good experience for them both and that I expected nothing -- so no stress. (Plus, I really didn't feel like running.)

Well, Teen and Trooper did more than expected. They won the Herding Group. How cool is that? We added another pink rosette to his collection.

Yesterday I handed Trooper off to J-Lyn. They're doing some last minute training and conditioning before heading north next week. In addition to the Futurity, Trooper is also competing in two Specialty shows and an All-Breed show. I'm excited. And anxious. I'm fighting all those coulda/woulda/shoulda things in my head. Too late now, right? I hope he does well. And if he doesn't, I'm sure I'll find a way to make it my fault. I'll keep you posted. -- K

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Fast CAT Fail

I really wanted to share pictures of
Trooper running Fast CAT.
I'm doing a lousy job of keeping everybody updated. Hope you didn't think I was dead! Here's some of what we've been doing:

A couple weeks ago, Hubby, the dogs and I drove 3 hours from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. The plan was to run the dogs in Fast CAT first thing then drive 20 minutes to compete in a Glock Sport Shooting Foundation Match. If time permitted, we'd go back to the fairgrounds to run the dogs again and look around. I was excited!

We brought two friends -- and their dogs -- with us. Neither are what you'd call “dog sports people." I thought Fast CAT would be a fun way to introduce them to the dog world. The Tallahassee shows had a bit of everything -- Fast CAT, conformation, obedience, dock diving and vendors. With an enthusiastic tour guide like me, who wouldn't fall in love with the dog world, right? Well . . . things didn't go as planned.

We got to the trial site before the gates opened. So did two dozen other people! The Fast CAT crew was behind schedule. While waiting, handlers were sharing stories and the dogs were picking up on the excitement. Finally, the gates opened. My group was about 10 people back.

The registration table was set up at the end of the track. (It's usually in the middle, away from the mechanism.) As the lure came around the end pulley, dogs would jump and bark at it. The Trial Secretary/Company Owner seemed to be annoyed by this, making him short toward everybody. Registration lines for CAT and Fast CAT (two separate courses) were side by side but unmarked. My friend got in the wrong line and was yelled at when she tried to register for Fast CAT. She had to go to the back of the line and wait another 15 minutes -- only to be yelled at again because her entry form was incomplete.

I had pre-registered 2 ½ weeks out. The angry man couldn’t find my paperwork. I showed him my check and he barked "Well, I didn't get it." I asked if I could reregister, but with the preregister price. He accused me of trying to steal money from him. (We’re talking about a $20 difference. BTW, I had $60 in my pocket, expecting to pay full price for the afternoon runs.) I asked about the check I'd already written. He said he'd tear it up "if and when" he got it. Meanwhile, he glared at my dogs, was condescending to newbies asking questions and yelled at people with money in hand. What a douche.

My invisible name tag.
When The Douche started yelling at me, I thought Hubby was going to come unglued. Yes, I'm a big girl, quite capable of holding my own. But when Hubby feels I'm being threatened he switches into must-protect-wife mode. (Apparently it's a man thing.) I told Hubby that I wasn't going to give this jerk my money and walked away. Hubby asked the guy's name and he screamed "You don't know who I am?!" (FYI his name is Dan Elkes.) I giggled. Obviously he doesn't know who *I* am. I went to the car and called my bank. I put a stop payment on the check and got the fees waived. Then I went to find the Show Chairman.

Regular readers know that I'm the former President of my German Shepherd Dog club. I’ve held nearly all possible positions in the club, including Show Secretary. I know how hard it is to put on an event and how much the club wants everything to go right. I felt like a schmuck complaining. I told Madam Chairman my tale. The entire operation was disorganized, and the guy running it was unprofessional and downright demeaning. I didn't know if this guy was having a bad day or if he's always a total jerk. Either way, he was turning people away from the show her club worked so hard to put together. I reminded her that there are multiple organizations running Fast CAT trials in Florida and urged her club to use one other than Lure Coursing Specialists. She apologized and asked me to send her an email so she could share it with the show committee at their after action meeting.

As I was leaving the Show Chairman, I ran into one of my friends. She's a police officer with 30+ years. She stated that she had been trying to resolve the dispute between Mr. Elkes and our wrong-line friend when he yelled "I own this show!" and threw her out. My cop friend also had a long conversation with the Show Chairman. It was 10 AM on Saturday morning and she was the third complaint the Chairman received. UGH.

Not to scale
I'll never trial with Lure Coursing Specialists again. I know my friends are completely turned off by the entire dog show experience. Satan himself couldn’t have chosen a worse ambassador for dog sports.

The four of us took our $280, left the show grounds and went to the range. The dogs were locked in our vehicles at the far end of the property. We left the engines running, with A/Cs and radios turned up. I pretended the silhouettes were Dan the Douche and walked away with a personal best! (I still sucked, but the score was less sucky than before.)

Since that weekend I wrote my letter to the Tallahassee Kennel Club, blasted Lure Coursing Specialists online and shared my story with everybody I know -- including you! The Florida dog community is a small. Hopefully, word will get out quickly. I'd love to see Dan Elkes and Lure Coursing Specialists out of business.

BTW, I got a letter from my bank. Two days after this Fast CAT fiasco, Dan the Douche tried to cash my check -- you know, the one he promised he would tear up. (I hope his bank charged him!) So anyway, that's the story of my worst Fast CAT experience ever. -- K

Friday, February 15, 2019

Sneak Preview

Trooper's not a puppy anymore!
I know I've been absent lately. Honestly, there's not a whole lot worth sharing. However, I've spent the last two weeks filling out entry forms, booking hotel rooms and coordinating calendars with Hubby. The next two months have A LOT going on. Here's a sneak preview:
  • Trooper had another sleepover with J-Lyn. While there, he started doing road work. This is something we're going to continue. I've got a Kelley-sized tricycle and everything!
  • Trooper turned a year on Monday -- just in time for the Fast CAT trials in Tallahassee next weekend,. Both boys are going to run AND Hubby and I are competing in a shooting competition the same weekend. We'll see how that works out!
  • I'm in the middle of two interesting dog books. I'll share them with you soon.
  • My dog club's annual German Shepherd Dog Walk in Historic St. Augustine is just around the corner. This year I'll be walking two dogs. I'm a little nervous.
  • Trooper is headed to North Carolina with J-Lyn next month. Over three days he'll compete in an All-Breed show, two GSD Specialty shows and the Southeast Futurity/Maturity.
  • That same weekend Jedi will be in DeLand for an advanced Barn Hunt workshop and two trials. The jump from Open to Senior is huge. We need all the help we can get.
  • April is also a big month for us. Trooper will compete in my dog club's two GSD Specialty shows followed by two days of All-Breed shows.
  • That same weekend, Fast CAT will be available at the Fairgrounds. I'm debating signing up Trooper and/or Jedi. I'll wait until after Tallahassee to make that decision.
  • April 27 is my dog club's Specialty Match, held in conjunction with a breeder-friend's annual BBQ Bonanza. The match planning isn't coming along as easily as I had hoped and I'm stressing. Surprised?
So you see, fun and newsworthy posts are coming soon! Please be patient. Until then, -- K

Sunday, February 10, 2019


WARNING: I feel a rant coming on!

I've been writing this post for years, but have never been able to publish it. I couldn't write for more than a minute or two without the post sounding like a Lewis Black routine. Maybe this year I can better articulate what's in my head. Maybe . . .

Like millions of other people, I watch the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on TV every year. In 2016 I was on the edge of my seat rooting for Rumor, the German shepherd. (She was beaten out by the German shorthaired pointer.) Watching Rumor take best in show in 2017 was a big thrill. I'm surprised the entire world didn't here me cheering. And then last year I was there in person. So yeah, Westminster is a big deal for me.

But as much as I love the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, I hate the day after. There are all kinds of non dog show people putting in their two cents worth. I want to tell them all to just S.T.F.U.

First of all, yes those dogs have balls. On the large, short haired dogs (think great Danes and mastiffs) they are quite noticeable. We all see them, you don't need to point them out. And yes, the judge touched them. Because conformation dog shows were designed to judge how breeding stock conforms to the breed standard, dogs that can't breed are disqualified. So yes, the judge feels for the presence of both testicles. The dogs don't care. Most dogs are more bothered by having their mouth examined. So, get over it people, they're testicles!

I'm a member of a couple German shepherd groups on Facebook, and there's always a plethora of asinine comments on there too, most from people who own "Shepards." (I've mentioned this group before.) These people bought a $100 dog of Craigslist that kinda looks like a GSD so obviously they know everything.

One thing these "Shepard" people complain about is "slope-back dogs." First of all, it's called angulation. Read the breed standard and you'll discover that the GSD is supposed to be:
. . . well balanced, with harmonious development of the fore quarter and hindquarter. The dog is longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles.
The breed standard specifically states that the withers (highest point of the back) are to be higher than and sloping into a level -- not roaching or sagging -- back.

It's important to understand the history of the German shepherd. The dog was originally bred to tend sheep. (FYI: tending refers to the dog being a living, moving barrier to move/keep livestock where the sheepherder wants the flock to be.) Says the breed standard:
A German shepherd dog is a trotting dog, and its structure has been developed to meet the requirements of its work. . . . The gait is outreaching, elastic, seemingly without effort, smooth and rhythmic, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. At a walk it covers a great deal of ground, with long stride of both hind legs and forelegs. At a trot the dog covers still more ground with even longer stride, and moves powerfully but easily, with coordination and balance so that the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine.
A well-built German shepherd should be able to trot alongside a flock of sheep all day. So you see, that "slope" is there for a reason -- the ability to trot properly. If you don't like it, get another breed!

Something these "Shepard" people don't understand is that the angle of slope is exaggerated when stacked (put in the show stance). The FB post to the right illustrates this point nicely.
  • The top picture shows a dog in a traditional show stack BTW, most GSDs stand somewhat that way naturally. Stacking is just teaching them to put the left leg back and square up the right.

  • The bottom picture is the same dog stacked the way every other dog in the AKC is shown. Pretty dramatic, isn't it?
Pine Hill German Shepherds has a well-written article about the German shepherd structure titled Why Do They Walk Like That? I highly recommend you read it.

Finally, I'm tired of people assuming my dog has hip dysplasia. (He doesn't. I have the test results to prove it.) Responsible breeders test for hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy and other genetic anomalies before adding a dog to their breeding program. Of course, these breeders aren't selling their puppies for $100 on Craigslist. You get what you pay for.

Funny story:
I was walking Jedi in Petsmart, minding my own business. This woman came up to me and in a very condescending tone (thanks to my day job, I know condescension) asked how I was managing my dog's hip dysplasia. WHAT?! She went on to say that she noticed his back was sloped so she assumed he had hip dysplasia.

I nicely explained that he was a structurally correct, American show line GSD. I told her that his hips were OFAed and came back good.

Then I asked her how she was managing her diabetes. She was confused. I told her that I noticed she was grossly overweight, so I assumed she was diabetic. She called me a bitch and walked away in a huff.
OK, maybe it was a mean/funny story. Perhaps I could have handled that better. I need to perfect my "Bless your heart." (Northern friends: if a Southern woman smiles and says "Bless your heart" she's calling you an idiot.)

Anyway, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show starts tomorrow. I'll be watching. And I WILL respond to asinine comments. If you're a "Shepard" person, it would be best to just S.T.F.U. You've been warned.-- K