Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh what a year...

Late December back in...oh wait! It's RIGHT NOW! I always take a look back at the past year before looking forward to the next, so in the class tradition:
My 2011 goals for Teller:
  • qualify for the 2012 AKC National Championships in Reno, NV. 
    I wanted so badly to qualify for the 2011 championships in Virginia, but things just didn't come together for us. To qualify for each year we needed 400 speed points and 6 double-Q's (QQs). This year Teller had all of his QQs by the end of March and we officially wrapped up those speed points in May.
  • I really wanted to button up his MX (Master Excellent Standard) title and finish the year with half of our QQ's towards MACH.
    Teller finished his MX on May 8th and finished his MACH on November 19th. For the year he earned 22 QQ's and just over 900 MACH points
    Photo Credit: Sharon Pica
  • That last CDX leg
    Here's one we didn't accomplish. There were a couple of shows I was going to enter (Syracuse Cluster and Thanksgiving Cluster) but in both cases I didn't make the decision to enter in time for closing - in the case of the Thanksgiving cluster I had fully intended to enter and missed the closing by an hour. No worries - if I really wanted to make it happen I would have made it happen. 
  • A puppy - specifically a Teller puppy.
    I'd been approached to use Teller on a number of bitches - none of them were a good match. One had clearances and some nice starter titles but she didn't have a history of clearances in her pedigree - there were other reasons too, but that is a biggie for me. In general, people crawl out of the woodwork wanting to breed 'fluffy' to titled dogs. A lot of stud dog owners look the other way - have dozens of litters sired by their dogs that will never show up on, some aren't even AKC registered. The check clears so they breed their studlies to BYB 'fluffy'. Anyhow, back to reflection :-)
    I was absolutely thrilled when the possibility of what is now Kipling became a possibility. The pedigrees looked great on paper, the timing was right for all involved and we got four beautiful puppies. Beautiful, smart - so uniform in their temperament testing, personable, biddable, good looking dogs that will excel in whatever they're asked to do: agility, obedience, conformation, counter-surfing, playing ball in the backyard, climbing Mount Equinox....With any luck there will be some more Teller puppies in 2012, but - this is the looking back post not the looking forward post!
  • Starting and finishing the year with a happy, healthy golden retriever - fit in all senses of the word.
    Mission accomplished there too.

    Murphy's 2011 goals were a bit less tangible:
  • Certainly starting and finishing the year fit and happy.
    Keeping Murphy fit has always been a challenge, perhaps the early neuter, perhaps just who he is - but he's never maintained the muscle tone that Teller seems to maintain so naturally. Murphy scared the heck out of me a couple of times this year healthwise.
    The first was that damn tick-sized lump on his hock. We were really sure it was nothing - but if it got bigger, removing it was not going to be nothing. So surgery for Murphy to remove the lump on his hock, which turned out to be benign - but evolved into an infection, torn sutures, another infection, another suturing back together again, another infection and finally staples and glue. All told that round of 'life' cost Murphy 45 straight days in a cone....
    Murphy - 10/12/2011
    The second scare came in October with a spot on his muzzle. I thought he'd rubbed it - then he was scratching at it, I treated it like a hot spot, but it was clearly no hot spot. Diagnosis was Demodex - not a big deal, that's treatable - BUT what the heck is going on with his immune system to cause a mite issue. Cancer? Lymphoma? Cushings? Some kind of auto-immune issue? MMS? So many possibilities. Murphy has been hypothyroid since he was about 15 months old and medicated since he was 18 months old. We'd upped his dose back in May after his senior panel looked a little low. I pulled another senior panel in November to see what we were dealing with - bloodwork negative for cancer, negative for lymphoma, negative for addisons/cushings - thyroid low again. OK - THAT I can deal with. Now nearly 2 months later, the hair on his face is back, his thyroid is still a little below optimal, but we're going to watch him for another 30 days and pull another test before doing any more adjusting of medication.
  • Therapy dog work for Murphy
    Technically whilst Murphy is eating raw he's unable to make therapy dog visits, reading with kids, etc - it's a silly rule (I mean really some dogs eat poop (of all models of origin), dogs eat dead things in the woods, dogs lick their butts, dogs lick patients in hospitals who have dirty hands - how is a piece of raw chicken, consumed hours before a visit really a threat to anyone? Anyhow - I follow rules (I'm a rule follower) - force of habit - and that means that Murphy didn't get to make any visits to the nursing homes this year. I'm bummed - but it is what it is.

    Kipling's Goals:
    Kipling got off easy, since he didn't exist in the beginning of 2011 - he didn't have any goals. BUT he accomplished a lot:
  • He got to be a puppy
    Teller on his way to a best of breed puppy 
    The best thing I ever did for Teller - just be a puppy. Kipling got to be a puppy too. His training sessions were short - focusing on learning to learn, life skills, socialization and attention. If he has those things I can put anything else 'in' at any time in the future. Kippie traveled with us everywhere, he made his own roadtrips from time to time on local errands.
  • He got to go into the conformation ring
    and have a good time, no pressure - no expectations. Trot around, have chicken, have fun and get some mileage. In the process he picked up a Best Puppy in Breed at just over 6 months! Well done.
  • He learned stuff
    Plank work, walking on a leash, gaiting, stacking, stays, waits, tunnels, how to play with a cat without getting scratched, jumps, tables, how to wait patiently for dinner, dogwalks, teeters, retrieving, tricks, coming when called, how to chase squirrels, how to play bitey-face, that bitches are in fact, BITCHES :-) In the process he got his CGC (AKC Canine Good Citizen). All good stuff!

    Our Year in Review:
  • Friday, December 30, 2011

    NOMAD Run-Throughs - December 31st, 2011

    Here's the plan for run-throughs tomorrow morning....

    Kipling's barn session

    Finally had another set of hands to tape Kippie's work tonight...People AND dog distractions in the arena tonight!

    Weird iPhone resolution this afternoon (yes, it was light outside still), we really weren't training in the dark, but this video came out like we were training in a closet....note to self, don't use the iphone camera at the barn.

    Friday at the Barn...December 30th, 2011

    Great group out at the barn tonight - some fun sequences for the big dogs :-)

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Product Review: Dokken's Dead Fowl Trainers

    Kippie with the Bob-White
    Thanks to L.L. Bean we stumbled upon these fowl trainers during last Friday's 30% off (all dog products) sale. Teller had attempted to steal a similar model from a friend last summer - trotting around with it like he was SURE it was a gift for him. He was sad when he had to give that little quail back. I actually made a venture to Dick's Sporting Goods to see if they had them in stock, when I didn't find them I gave up...UNTIL:

    So we've only had these for 24 hours or so but the boys - at least my two 'retrievers' (Murphy doesn't see the point) are just nuts for these fowl trainers - way more exciting than some silly bumper. I was impressed at how size and weight were similar to real birds - and they do seem to encourage proper pickup..

    Teller with the Ruffed

    I was hoping that these Dead Fowl Trainers would function as an every day retrieving toy that the dogs enjoyed retrieving (the kind that they steal out of the training bag to play with when they think I'm not paying attention) and also to encourage proper mid-body pickup of real birds - in the event that I magically get more time to do field training.

    So far my initial impression is that I've got both. The dogs clearly prefer these retrievers over their plastic bumpers - even the fowl scented fabric bumpers. The Green wing and the bobwhite quail are small enough to tuck into my back pocket as we hike into our training space and with the attached rope I'm able to put the birds pretty close where I'm aiming them to land.

    To be determined (obviously) how well these hold up to retrieving wear and tear, but they do seem to be pretty solid and sturdy and the price was certainly right. I ended up buying a full set - figuring that the smaller 'birds' were going to get the most use - I really don't see myself regularly flinging fake mallards around the playground at the school - but the quail and green-wing - are much lighter!!

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Here comes winter!

    Last night we had nearly monsoon rains here with temperatures in the mid-40s all night. We awoke to 39 degrees with a promise of  5 degrees by nightfall, with winds increasing from the north - windchills in the negatives. Shucks! We've had blissfully warm fall and early winter temps so far, below zero was bound to happen wasn't it? So off we went for a good long romp (knowing we're probably not going to want to play outside tomorrow). When we left an hour and a half later temps were down to 27 degrees with a 'feels like' of 15 degrees - oh and that damn north wind! My shutter finger was FROZEN!! But, the boys got a great romp and should be chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.

    12/28: OUCH!!
    Canon EOS T2i
    Canon EOS T2i
    12/28: Kippie keeps it clean.
    Canon EOS T2i
    12/28: Murphy
    Canon EOS T2i
    Canon EOS T2i
    Canon EOS T2i
    Canon EOS T2i
     And the rest of them here:

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    Tuesday at the Barn - December 27th, 2011

    Short session for Teller today - just some weave and contact reps...

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Monday at the Barn - December 26th, 2011

    Ever have one of those sequences that you're SURE your dog will nail, you'd put money on it - setup one of those with Teller today, I was so sure he'd just get it - and instead we struggled with it. Here's ours - the killer was 1-2-3.
    In related news, we clearly need to get some reinforcement in on the tunnel/dogwalk discrimination. As I flipped back and forth dogwalk/tunnel/ he clearly favors the dogwalk - even when he was correctly taking the tunnel he was looking really hard at that dogwalk before fully committing to the tunnel. Lots and lots of reinforcement on the dogwalk lately!! Now the tough part, I thought for sure he'd come out of the tunnel - read the 'out' cue and take that wing jump. It was like he didn't even see the jump. Then (in classing Woo form) when I tried to send him under the DW to just the jump he actually looking for the DW support and jumped THAT instead!  Once we got it, it was a beautiful sequence to run!

    Kipling's sessions are still really short and obstacle focused. Today he saw his very first tire - which was kind of a non-event - "oh, I go through the round part?" Got it! When I have a baby dog or a pre-novice dog there's a ton of reinforcement and sequences are super short. Sometimes one obstacle, sometimes three - but super short. I don't want to start a pattern when the dog has opportunity or desire to disconnect from his (or her job). I stress to my students to break things down, to make success, to reinforce while things are going well - even if it means they have to stop running a fun sequence to reward. It's hard to do, when they generally get to see the grown-up advanced dogs running at practice - or the older dogs who are products of a lot of very deliberate training over years - and try to run their dog like an excellent or masters dog. 

    Here's what Kipling worked on today - all of 10 minutes of work, super short sequences - lots of reinforcement. Party, party, party, play!

    Your charitable dollars...

    We've reached the end of the year and many folks (like myself) are looking at year-end charitable contributions for tax purposes. We all see so many tug at heartstrings commercials on TV: starving children in Africa (for seventy cents a day...), the creepy Dixie Carter tilted head commercial and of course the 60-90 second spots for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

    It sure looks like those HSUS folks are saving animals doesn't it? Why, look at all those scared animals in the videos - HSUS saved them from deplorable conditions right? If I sign up for a yearly membership (billed monthly at $19.99) they'll throw in a fleece jacket AND an all-purpose tote (reusable grocery bag) and I can feel good about all the animals that will be helped with my renewable donation right? See, there's the problem - and don't feel badly, I think their celebrity spokespeople have been duped as well.

    HSUS is a legislative lobbying organization - it is not an organization designed to actually help animals. Surprised? Read on.

    What if the American Cancer Society operated like the Humane Society of the United States?

  • less than 1% of your donations would go to cancer research, however ACS' mission statement would underscore the importance of cancer research and cancer prevention.

  • ACS would offer consulting services to non-profit research labs - how to run your cancer study - at a considerable fee to the non-profit lab.

  • The vast majority (99.99%) of cancer research programs and initiatives wouldn't receive even a penny of funding.

  • Death rates would be inflated and clinical data (other people data of course) would be manipulated in advertisements and donor sheets in order to procure more donations out of the well-meaning public.

  • ACS would spend two-thirds of it's operating budget sponsoring and driving legislation that banned everything that might even remotely contribute to cancer: do you like cheese? People who have cancer ate cheese - CHEESE CAUSES CANCER! BAN CHEESE!!!

  • ACS would 'pay' itself first, with 1/2 of total operating budget going to compensation packages.

  • Would you still write that check to The American Cancer Society every December?

    So what does the HSUS want to accomplish with your hard earned money?
    Mandatory Spay and Neuter:
    If every dog and ever cat is spayed and neutered (HSUS advocates pediatric spay and neuter) where are you going to get your next puppy?
    Kennel Fees and Kennel Licensing:
    HSUS is working very hard in all fifty states to institute state-wide licensing for all breeders. National registration, subjection to unannounced home inspections, etc. At first blush this sounds like a great idea right? What if you're a responsible breeder of say...golden retrievers. You have waited three years to plan this perfect litter. Both the parents have health clearances, and a pedigree complete with such clearances. You've planned for healthy and happy puppies. A kennel license will cost you $500/year for that one litter and you will be inspected twice a year (a'la health inspectors). Listen, I take good care of my dogs - but having dogs and breeding them responsibly should not subject my premise to unlawful inspection. Oh and now that we're policing all these breeders, who is going to pay for the inspectors? Who is going to enforce compliance? If a backyard breeder wants to breed puppies without clearances in unsanitary conditions - what makes you think they'll step up and buy mandatory kennel licenses for all of their breeding stock? Or stick around to pay the non-compliance fines?
    Elimination of domesticated animals:
    “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding ...One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.”
    Wayne Pacelle  Animal People News, May 1993

    So what can you do to help actual animals?
    Start small and start local - your local shelter might be called "something-something Humane Society", but it is not affiliated with the HSUS. Remember HSUS doesn't operate a single shelter. That local shelter of yours has needs that you can help them meet: they all need towels, blankets, paper towels, cleaning supplies, dog food, dog toys, cat food, cat toys, litterboxes and cat litter - the list goes on and is endless. Local shelters need volunteers too - go help out one Saturday a month, take some dogs for a walk, groom a cat, answer the phones. Want to be a real hero? Write them a check. You'll get the same feel-good tax-deductible experience and your dollars will make a difference to the animals and to your community too. Can't give cash? Be creative, those ugly purple towels you spot at a yard sale for $.25/each will be put to good use at your shelter.   Walk in a fundraiser and gain sponsorship from your family and friends.

    Some links:
    HSUS Donations to shelters:
    Fun Quotes from Waybe Pacelle:
    Center for Consumer Freedom:

    Extra Credit Reading - Here's PETA:

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Presents, presents, presents...

    I generally don't shop for Christmas, several folks got a few little things I knew they needed - but I don't 'do' Christmas shopping, malls, the tree, etc etc. I used to, but it just got to be too much work and too much stress.

    The boys got a couple of things from L.L. Bean that I ordered on Friday (there was a one-day 30% off all dog products) - which they needed - the sale meant that they got them. So we have three new dog beds and some bird trainers coming in the next few weeks or so. We did have several packages arrive for the boys though which they got to play with today - the scene:
    Patiently waiting?

    The spread....

    This dude scares me a little....glowing eyes and and a fiery mane.

    Kippie dives onto the goodie pile like he dives onto his scent article pile.

    Christmas shopping stresses Murphy out!

    The bubblegum chewies were a hit.

    Squeaker duck on steroids!

    My squeaker duck! No MY squeaker duck!

    Kippie ♥'s water buffalo.


    Christmas coma. 

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    A Christmas Addendum

    Or perhaps a new tradition around here. Many of you know that we (my dogs) celebrate things around here with cheeseburgers - for really no other reason than it's a rare treat. Like kids who eat very healthy all the time and LOVE chicken McNuggets - my gluten-free, grain-free raw fed dogs love a good (or even sub-average) cheeseburger every once in a while :-) 

    This year Teller received a gift card in the mail from his daughter Jordan (who saved up several weeks of her allowance) with instructions to take the entire family out for cheeseburgers - what better timing for a treat than Christmas Eve?

    As a thank you to Jordan, the whole family poses with the gift card...oh the anticipation!!!
    So Christmas Eve afternoon, after laundry, housekeeping, a photoshoot and some napping (naturally) - Teller and I made the trek to McDs:
    With Ma in her kerchief (I mean fleece covered in dog hair) and with DOG as my co-pilot, off we go to the drive-thru. We also stopped at the convenience store around the corner for lotto tickets - so 'Ma' can dream of retirement and visions sugar plums dancing around a big beautiful agility facility in the heart of Chittenden County :-)

    Teller delivering the 'goods' back to the homestead. Three cheeseburgers for the boys and one very delicious non-fat peppermint mocha treat for me (not pictured).

    And tonight for supper the boys will be served a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dish - the feast of FIVE fishes! On the menu: ground lobster, ground salmon, whole capelin, whole mackerel and whole sardines (all from our friends at Oma's Pride). Lucky dawgs!

    Merry Christmas from Magica Goldens

    With apologies to those who may have expected a card in the mail this year - it just didn't happen. Not enough time and Christmas spirit to go around this year I suppose. With a pretty hard and fast deadline approaching and a fresh dusting of snow on the ground it was now or never, out to brave the 9 (NINE) degree sunny day for a Christmas picture of the boys. Here's our 2011 offering - we wish all of our friends a very Merry Christmas,   Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Festivus and perhaps most of all - a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.