Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen is the author's second novel, published on the heels of her acclaimed "Garden Spells" (which I listened to and reviewed a few weeks ago).

The Audible Publishers' Summary:
In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times best selling debut, Garden Spells, author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets - and secret passions - are about to change her life forever.
Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she's a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother's house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night - until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis and two parts fairy godmother.
Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey's clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she's going to change Josey's life - because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee's tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.
Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and - most amazing of all - has a close connection to Josey's longtime crush.
As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time - even for her. It seems that Della Lee's work is done, and it's time for her to move on. But the truth about where she's going, why she showed up in the first place - and what Chloe has to do with it all - is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey's fast-changing life.

Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen is nearly a perfect summertime novel - interesting without commitment and light enough to read on the plane, at the beach or on a reasonably short commute to work. While I didn't find The Sugar Queen as capturing as her other novels The Peach Keeper and Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen is every bit as sweet. It was a solid, pleasant and enjoyable listen - with a couple of surprises at the end of the novel.

Karen White's narration was sweet and clear - I did find her drawl to be a bit long for my tastes at times though which I solved by listening to the novel at 1.5x - a relatively new audible feature (previous options were limited to 1/2x, 1x, 2x and 3x). There is an abridged version of the novel, which I don't recommend, there isn't a lot of wasted writing in The Sugar Queen, my guess is that the abridged cuts out some interesting content.

The Sugar Queen was written by Sarah Addison Allen, narrated by Karen White and published by Books on Tape. The Sugar Queen was released on 6/30/2008 and has a runtime of 8 hours 7 minutes.

From around here...

Some pictures from yesterdays' adventures....
Let the wild rumpus begin!!!


I love this moment. Kippie has Teller pinned as he stretches in the grass.
The closed eyes, the relaxed lips - You are such a kind and generous creature
Teller-Woo. I am so blessed to have such a soul in my company... 

Stop bugging me little dude, she's got the camera out, we should pose.

Murph has a good roll in the grass. His favorite past-time.

Camera? Is this my best side? 
Kipling meets his first sprinkler.

And is there any wonder that we had to make two extra potty trips tongith?

Tried to get a stacked shot, but he'd really rather work his downs...


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Time 2 Beat Practice - June 28th, 2011

FUN night of time to beat practice tonight. Here's what we setup:

Why Volunteer? Blog Action Day

AgilityNerd's Steve Schwarz has organized what he is calling a "Blog Action Day" on the topic of volunteering at trials. Here's our contribution:

I've chaired trials, I've worked as volunteer coordinator at trials and I've volunteered at nearly every trial I've ever attended - usually working several classes a day in some capacity or another. My favorite jobs are generally course building, timing, scribing, gate steward and score running. In general I don't often volunteer to leash-run or chute fluff - not if I want to run my dogs later (ouch).

Individual clubs might make a bit of profit on each trial they offer - but the individuals who are chairing, setting up rings and equipment, making the costco runs for hospitality muffins are are volunteers - often volunteers who are running (walking, pottying, etc) their dogs that weekend as well! Sometimes we're also coaching students and mentoring newbies at these trials too. It can be a long thankless day!

We do it for the love of the sport, for the good of the club and we do it so that we have a place to trial our dogs. Quite simply if no one steps up to chair the trial - we won't have a trial. If we're unable to staff the ring with a full set of table workers (scribe, timer, assistant scribe) than we're going to have trouble running that class. If we lose our local trials its hard for some of our local people to get out on the road for a weekend to trial and we all lose the opportunity.

I offer the following thoughts:

For potential workers:
* There's truly a job for everyone. Just as there are different kinds of volunteers there are so many diverse jobs that need to happen at a successful trial. Want to warm-up for your run? Leash run for a class. Need to film friends in this class but want to work too? How about score running? Want to be in the heart of the action? There's a chair in the middle of the course for you as ring crew.

* It's really important to volunteer. It's how trials run. Sure, you've paid an entry - but so has everyone else - it's really important that if you can you offer to help. Maybe you're running 5 dogs in two rings and have conflicts all over the place - you can still help. You can 'spell' another worker for a few reps of leash running, you can help setup for the trial the night before, you can stay late and help break down the rings and pack up the trial gear at the end of the trial. One of the hardest classes to staff is the last class of the day - stay for the novice people. I know a couple instructors who make volunteering mandatory for their students (though probably not enforceable), instilling a community centered aspect of trialing. I like the concept and I love that those instructors are in there stepping up to work too. Just a few more balls in the air!

* Volunteering is a great way to meet people! I've had some really fun times working the score table with people I didn't know that well and now we're really good friends.

* Volunteering makes the day go faster! Not only does keeping busy make the day feel faster, your effort helps get the job done, the more efficiently the trial runs the earlier we all will be on the road home.

* Karma. Really. Don't you need good karma?

For Clubs:
* Nothing sours a volunteer more than being treated badly while they're volunteering. There is one club for whom I won't offer to course build (and I'm not alone in this decision) because their chief course-builder is an abusive control-freak. I'd like to help but I'm not an idiot and I really don't want to listen to the verbal insults directed at everyone building. Yes, I know your dog can't see yellow (taped) bars - how unfortunate for him. Yes, I know that's a single bar non-winged - do you not see that I have two wingless jump standards in my hand?

* Feed 'em. In the northeast every club gives out lunch tickets to every worker. Lunch tickets are grand, but a few clubs have started offering "club bucks" that are redeemable at every vendor - work 10 classes and you've got $20 or $30 in your pocket to go spend with the vendors. It doesn't cost the club any more - but it's a real WIN for volunteers.

* Have good stuff in your raffles. We're cheap labor - we're OK with that. Put a couple of really cool things in the raffle and you'll have volunteers falling all over themselves to earn raffle tickets. Consistently hot items seem to be: bags of dog treats (pick a kind of training treat you give your dogs, put baskets of those items in your raffle), nice toys - something unique, gift certificates for entries, to Clean Run, to the show Photographer, gas cards, etc. One local club here has a member who is a potter - she donates bowls to every worker raffle - they are absolutely gorgeous. I've put tickets in that cup every year I've worked that trial - it took me 6 years to win one but I got my bowl this spring! In this same vein - skip the re-gifted garage sale crap.

* Be generous with your raffle tickets. They're paper - cheap paper. It costs the club virtually nothing to hand out tickets for the worker raffle. Sure, start out giving everyone a smaller amount for their first class (let's say four tickets), but when that person comes back to work another class give them eight. When that person works a third and fourth class give them an arms' length of tickets. It makes people happy. Keep your volunteers happy and you'll never have to beg for a ring crew.

* Be generous with your hospitality. It doesn't cost a lot to have several coolers of water. You really don't need to have every flavor soda on the planet, but some cartons of juice, bottles of water and hot coffee in the morning are going to go a long way to keeping your workers happy.  Our local clubs generally have muffins and fruit in the morning and then sweet or salty snacks in the afternoon. On the last day of the trial to-go sized packages of chips, crackers, dried fruit, etc are a big win for folks who have long drives ahead of them.

* Set aside the personal club politics for the weekend, don't put your workers in the middle of club squabbles.

* Don't span worker shift across classes. I know that your open and novice classes are small, but don't span your workers across both classes to save a few bucks or some raffle tickets. If people want to volunteer for both classes - GREAT! But working, then going off to do something else while the novice class is built, briefed and walked is a lot to ask of people.

* In a perfect world everyone would volunteer for one job at a trial per day - it doesn't always happen that way. There are legitimate reasons why someone can't work today - we're not a sport of 20-somethings, there are conditions which might not be obvious which prevent people from working this weekend. Don't badger people for not working.

* I love the online volunteer forms - particularly the ones with estimated class times. I can sign up for exactly what I want to work, when I want to work it. This has led to much fewer conflicts for all involved.

* In general, know that exhibitors trial to have fun with and compete their dogs. If you make it easy for exhibitors to volunteer they will. If you make it hard for workers to volunteer - or unpleasant to do so - finding volunteers will get harder and harder for you. Don't threaten to not run this class because you don't have a leash runner - instead ask nicely if anyone is able to leash run for this class - be open to folks splitting the class (Brenda leash-runs for the 24" dogs and Billy leash runs for the 20" dogs).

And lastly, remember - this is what we do for fun with our dogs. This is how some of us have chosen to spend our disposable income and our precious little free time. In the end "it's all good".

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kipling's lessons - Day Seven.

Well the little man has been home with us for a week now (if you count that first night in the hotel). Since then he's learned lots of FUN things. Right now I'm concentrating on  what I'll call my top 10 foundation skills: Come, sit, down, his name recognition, patience, learning about an off button, learning to be quiet in his crate, house training, the beginnings of wait and stay and retrieving.
Kipling retrieving a metal scent article.

Retrieving is pretty high on that top 10 - not just a formal retrieve (a'la obedience), a retrieve is so much more::
- A means to reinforce motion in a behavior: When it comes time to pay for speed in the weaves or distance work (obedience drop on recalls, signal exercises).
- A retrieve is a super-way to burn off extra energy and to get in conditioning runs.
- A demonstration and reinforcement of a partnership - give and take. Team building 101.
- A foundation for those advanced obedience exercises: retrieve on the flat, retrieve over the high jump, scent articles,'s all about having a solid foundation of retrieve.
Kipling brings his own cookies to the party.

To that end Kipling has been working his retrieves - with any object. So far he's retrieved a spoon, a wooden dumbell, a plastic dumbbell, a metal scent article, a carrot, a bag of wellness snacks, a can of 'easy cheese', a recycled spice container with zukes inside (food tube), a hand towel, a tuggie, a dog dish and a string cheese wrapper. If I toss it for you and ask you to go get it, please go and get it and then you will get something - right now that something is food and play, but in the future it could be more retrieving or in the obedience ring maybe just a smile.

Just for fun:
March 17th, 2011: Ten week old Teller retrieves a metal scent article.
And a cute one that doesn't entirely fit in this post....
Kippie awaits his impending audience.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Sunday

Lots of play outside today while trying to keep Kipling's schedule intact as much as possible. Sure we're weekend warriors most of the time, but with such a young (and impressionable) wee lad I want to keep settling him into a routine.That doesn't mean we can't have fun!

It wasn't terribly hot today - nor sunny, but I decided it was time to drag out the baby pool to let Kipling play in water. Murphy and Teller really don't understand the concept of a kiddie pool. Why would we play in THAT when we could play in the big pool? I can't say I blame them!

The big dogs generally don't care about kiddie pools. What's the point?
Teller makes an exception to show Kipling how to play in a bitty pool.

Murphy adds a how-to lesson too.

Maybe I'll just scamper around.

Oh! So this is how you do it!

Move over Dad, quit hogging my pool!

Dig, dig, dig! (Teller grazing in the background).
After fun and nonsense in the kiddie pool Teller enticed Kipling into a rousing game of 'run around the big pool':
There goes Teller!
And Kippie hot on his heels!

And back around!

Where's the puppy?

Kipling crashes into Murphy - who really picked a bad place to graze.

More wheeeeee!

I got legs this week, I can catch you!!!

How bitey face games always end around here...

OK, Enough fooling around whippersnappers, I want to swim in the
BIG pool now. C'mon, lets go!
So off we went to the big pool. Kippie too, who bravely jumped down onto the first step, then practiced swimming a couple of feet to the stairs. It's always harder for the dogs to figure out how to get down the pool steps than it is to get up the pool steps. After about 10 minutes Kipling was cold so he got toweled off and put down for his afternoon nap while the big boys swam some more, got dried off with the blower and ate a couple of sardines.




Teller's water entry

Murphy's water entry



Teller waiting for me to finish his fluff and dry.
Yes, sometimes he has a bad hair day :-)

And a well deserved nap!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A funny moment from today...

Kipling celebrated 6 days (and nights) of a dry crate with a brand-new (to him) fluffy crate pad. Which he spent much time rolling in, digging in and otherwise being a puppy nut with. Every time I got up and tried to capture this on video, he'd stop. So I decided to video stalk from a distance. What I got was this:

Sequencing June 25th, 2011

I started the weekend morning with a rescheduled puppy class and private lesson - which were conducted in a light drizzle. Kipling went along as shotgun getting to watch the bigger dogs work while practicing being a good boy in the van. When we were finished however, the skies parted and it seemed like a good time to get the new-to-me dogwalk put together and setup so we went back home and picked up the big dogs.

Since Teller's big weekend at SAAC and the puppy coming home and all of the resulting chaos, Teller has been on a planned vacation since the trial on Monday. Some swimming, some random obedience work but mostly imposed R&R. So when he saw where we were going today, I think he was pretty eager to finally get back to work. If he's annoyed with anything about having the puppy home it seems to be that the puppy is getting to 'work' more than he has this week. It's a fine line T-Woo!

Anyhow, here's what Woo and I setup to work this morning - in the rain actually by the time we had everything setup. Which did feel pretty good! Not surprisingly 60 degrees and drizzle is pretty much Teller's kind of weather, no heat, no humidity and sod under his paws.

Kipling and Murphy went along too, Kippie getting to do his meet and greet and show off his impressive baby tugging skills (grrrrrrr, grrrrrrrrr). Kipling watched us move equipment around, watched Teller settle, napped a bit - but otherwise not a peep out of him. Then came home, went for a short walk, had a tantrum that we worked through around his dining conditions and crashed pretty hard for a nap. Rough life being a wee little bupp-ie (as MDA would say).

Independent Play is good for a puppy!

Tired Puppy Kipling
We're still working on the "it's dinner time and I'm starving" tantrums, mostly done with the "the big dogs are out there and I'm stuck in here" tantrums and we haven't had a "I'm in a crate" tantrum since that first mostly sleepless night in Albany. What this mostly means is that a) Kipling is getting lots of short training sessions and is therefore mentally tired (at this point we're training with lots of play three-four times a day for 5-10 minute sessions); b) that he's getting the right amount of physical exercise and play (don't tell baby K - but this is 'training' too) and c) he's learning to entertain himself.

He is still keeping 'bird hours' though - up with the birds at about 4:30am and ready to crash about 9:30pm. Happily though since Wednesday AM he's waking up at 4:30, but entertaining himself until I come downstairs to start the day at about 5am. If only we could add a half hour or so to each end of his day I'd be a happy lady - oh to sleep until 5:30!!!

On Tuesday I posted a video of Kipling playing by himself in his ex-pen (reposted below). I received a couple of emails asking if I was concerned with Kipling happily playing by himself in the expen- was he an independent puppy? Was I worried about how independent he was? The short answer to that question is no - I'm not. I understand the concern, we all know that overly independent puppies are sometimes (perhaps often) not particularly biddable creatures. I agree with that statement...but I don't have that concern with Kipling - he is engaging, dynamic and confident - there are the keywords!

In contrast, what would we want our puppies to do in their time off? Certainly we can't have them with us 24x7 - nor should we (honestly). Puppies need to grow into themselves, not into 'us'. Moreover, we wouldn't wish for or choose for a performance pick a 9 week old puppy that is showing signs of separation anxiety or a puppy who was unable to self-settle at all: in a crate, in an ex-pen, on our laps, etc.
Tired puppy Teller and Q (a little over 4 years ago)

When that video was taken we were into the late afternoon. Kippie already had four or five treks outside to relieve himself, two short training sessions, two romp and play sessions outside, a scamper around the house with the big dogs and two long naps in his crate. At the time of the video he was due for another nap (and you can see a bit of that 'tired puppy' movement in the video) - but one of the things he needs to learn is how to settle himself. This is a skill I can't teach him - I can set him up for success - but that's where my influence ends. The act of me putting him into his crate gives him the answer in the same way a cookie on the nose is a lure. It's cheating him of the chance to problem solve for himself. If I always put him down for naps I'll probably always have to put him in his box for naps and that doesn't work for me. {GRIN}

Puppy Murphy settling (and sleeping) in his ex-pen.
Playing quietly, interacting with whatever toys I have in his ex-pen (and they're different every time I put him in there as I rotate out various toys and interactive stuff) is all part of learning to settle. His lesson, his job.

In other words, learning to play on his own and settle on his own does not reduce the value of playing with me, training with me and reinforcement from me - it's a separate skill. Now, if I head out to the frontyard for my two to three minute training and play session and see that Kippie would rather pull up blades of grass than play with me - that's a horse of a different color and something I might be concerned about for the long-term.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Product Review: Metro Air Force Commander Dryer

About four years ago I bought a used Metro dryer off the yahoo group "dogshowstuff". It was a well loved and marginally cared for Air Force Commander that was 5-6 years old when it came to me. It was dented, scratched, scraped and the hose had been repaired with black electrical tape. All of this was fine, because the price was right - I believe I paid about $50 for it - including shipping from Maryland and apart from the visual blemishes the thing ran like a champ. That little orange friend served me well for many years (and potentially would have for many years in the future) if not for a little field trip said dryer made with a friend and a 'tragic' accident where my dryer was introduced to a flight of stairs and concrete floor at the bottom. I figured I'd gotten more than my $50 out of it, so I decided to just replace it with a new one rather than trying to have it repaired.

I made the choice to purchase the used Metro Air Force in large part because I've seen the abuse that the Metros have endured at the local self-serve pet wash for the last few years with no problems.

I'm told the dryers at the pet wash have to be replaced every two-three years (8 hours in the day of a pet wash, appointments are 30 minute each - figuring about half the people will use the blower after a bath (more in the winter and less in the summer I'd wager) and guessing a 50% booking rate those dryers are probably used about 1500 times a year (each). I personally wouldn't be very disappointed if my blower died after 3,000-4,500 uses! Oh and for what it's worth, the last time I checked the local pet wash had the mid-range blowers (23,000 ft/min).

My old dryer was a 18,000 feet/minute model. The low-end model retails for about $140 but wholesale from PetEdge costs about $127. I could have easily just replaced what I had - but with a generous gift of a gift card, I decided to splurge a little and purchase the 28,000 feet/minute model (retail $170 and $155 from PetEdge) expecting a little better performance with the extra 10,000 ft/min.

The new dryer arrived yesterday and today, despite the grey overcast afternoon with temperatures hovering around 63 degrees and a threat of thunderstorms coming at us, the boys really wanted to swim before dinner. OK gang, we've got our new dryer let's give it a go.

I have to admit that I'm (figuratively) blown away with the difference in output between the two units. For the most part I need them dry to sleep at night, I don't need them show ring-dry after a swim. For this metric my 18,000 ft/min unit was adequate - I was usually able to dry each dog completely in about 20 minutes, less if it was warm enough to let them air dry the rest of the way. With my new 28,000 ft/min dryer I was able to get the dogs from dipping wet (no toweling off beforehand) to about 90% dry in about 10 minutes. I suppose that doesn't sound like a big difference until you consider how often I might need to blow dry my dogs (potentially once per day about 120 days per year), now three dogs (360 dries per year) saving 10 minutes per dog every dry could save me 60 hours a year!!

My advice to anyone looking for a dryer: You can't go wrong with the Metro Air Force and the higher output really does make a difference. My one complaint with the new dryer? The old one came with attached clips and a shoulder strap that made moving around the dog on the table easier. No such clips on the new dryer, meaning I either need to hold the handle, put it down on the table/ground or come up with some way to rig it over the shoulder - I'm hoping for the latter.

Vermont is a Magical Place (in the summertime)

A while back I posted something to that effect that while Vermont in the winter was cruel and dark, summer in Vermont can be magical. I present photographic evidence to that effect:
Burlington Waterfront - June 23rd, 2011
iphone 4 - Microsoft Photosynth App
Click the image for a larger view
Sure in this pic the lake is grey and over-cast. Sure you can't see the Adirondacks in the background, sure it's pretty quiet on the waterfront - but MAN! this is an amazing place to be sometimes....the lake is finally below floodstage (under 100' - it was nearly 104' earlier this spring). There was a slight breeze coming off the lake, storm in the distance and calm waves. A little duck family paddled across the harbor. Just magical.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Review: A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron

Last November at the Springfield (MA) dog show cluster several of my agility peeps were reading (or listening to) "A Dogs' Purpose: A Novel for Humans" by W. Bruce Cameron. Over the course of the 4 day trial weekend I must have heard "Oh Erica, you HAVE to read it! You'll LOVE it! It made me cry so hard." about 15 times. With that kind of build-up I approached the novel with some trepidation, I did spend the audible credit and download it to my iPhone that same weekend, but I didn't listen to it. I'm all for the occasional sappy read - even up for a dog book once in a while, but reading or listening to a book when I KNOW the dog is going to die (over and over again) isn't really my cup of tea - no matter how good the book reviews are. So it took me well over six months to sum up the courage to listen to "A Dog's Purpose" - and then only because I couldn't (again) get into "A Game of Thrones" and I'd finished Baldacci's "One Summer" on the way home from work last week - with no time to thoughtfully shop for another listen it was A Dog's Purpose or nothing....

The Publisher's Summary from
After a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey is surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy. Bailey's search for his new life's meaning leads him into the loving arms of eight-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures, Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey's journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog's Purpose is not only the story of a dog's many lives but also a dog's-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This beautifully crafted novel teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on Earth is born with a purpose.

So I got into the car Saturday morning (at oh-dark thirty), took a deep breath and turned on A Dog's Purpose. About half way to the show I come to the part where the senior golden retriever (having lived a full life) is dying and I cried and cried and cried - glad to be in the car by myself, cathartic to let a whole bunch of stuff out. There I am gasping for breath trying to get a hold of myself before we arrived at the trial. Composure Erica, composure.

The story is as described in the publisher's summary. The dog's soul in the story begins as "Toby" the stray mixed breed puppy, then as Bailey the Golden Retriever, as Ellie the German Shepherd and finally as "Bear/Buddy" the Black Labrador.

In the end, I think that A Dog's Purpose was as good as it was advertised - but it still wasn't an easy listen. There's comfort in the rebirth and the continuation of soul throughout the novel. The dog's way of telling the story, from the perspective of a dog is reminiscent (but not derivative of ) Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain - which is still one of my favorite books of the last decade.

A Dog's Purpose was narrated by George K. Wilson who was an amazing Toby, Bailey, Ellie and Buddy. I think in another life Mr. Wilson was probably a "good dog" too.

A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans was written by W. Bruce Cameron and narrated by George K. Wilson. A Dog's Purpose is  published by Tantor Audio and was released on July 12, 2010. A Dog's Purpose has a runtime of 9 hours 6 minutes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kipling - Day Two

Another good day for Kipling - who continues to fit in around here like he has lived here for much much longer than 48 hours. I pulled out one of the toys Kipling received as a coming home gift - his very first fleece tuggie. After playing tug with me for a little bit (Get it, tug, give, YAY!, get it, tug, give). He had a bit of a retrieve session with another gift a puppy bumper (throw 10', deliver to hand, cookie, repeat). Just a couple of reps on each - lots and lots of praise and party. I'm somewhat concerned that when I return to the office tomorrow I might very well SQUEAK praise at people randomly. So dear co-workers, if you're reading this, please forgive any accidental "Yay for you's". The good news is that I will probably be able to refrain from praising your successful trips to the bathroom though.
Kipling plays tug with daddy Woo.

Today we worked puppy recalls, a bit of hide and seek in the yard and the beginnings of "don't leave the momma" - this all plays into his foundation work. I'm looking forward to letting him BE a puppy - probably the best thing I ever did for Teller as a matter of fact - just BE a puppy. Lots of games here and there, lifeskills too of course, but my plan is to keep training FUN with lots of play, specifically lots of constructive play - puppy lessons that will come in handy if and when he ever plays agility or obedience.

The big one I start with is called "Don't leave the momma". Other people might be fun, other dogs might be fun - but stay with the momma when you are told to do so. Momma is WAY more fun! When he's older this translates to "don't leave the ring", "don't visit the judge" and "don't pants the ring stewards".  Foundation, Foundation, Foundation. It's tempting for people to skip foundation stuff - but over and over again it comes back to bite people. I'd rather bring out a dog later (and older) and know that I can trust them to stay with me and stay in the game (mistakes and all).

Kipling LOVES his water bottles - which we're affectionately
calling "his girlfriend". Do you need your girlfriend Kippie?
Also on the agenda today, I set up his playpen in the den. Puppies in this house (even the boarders), spend a great deal of time tethered to me, but this quickly becomes impractical when there are times when I can't have two eyeballs on the puppy, can't have him tethered to me and yet I don't want or need to put him in his crate. The play-pen expen configuration is perfect for this! The expen is attached to his crate - similar to a horse's stall and corral. He can go in and out of his crate as he pleases, he can interact with the big dogs if he (and they choose) - but mostly this gives him a place to hang out and in some cases, CHILLAX :-)

He's still sleeping in his borrowed baby crate when he's down for naps and overnight. The big crate in the setup is at this point just his clubhouse - I plan to move him into his big crate over night this weekend - my rule of thumb is that I want dry mornings for one full week before he gets bigger quarters (so far he's two for two). For enrichment purposes, every time he goes into the playpen he has different toys to play with, I'm rotating them in and out, two at a time - mostly letting him learn to settle away from the pack regardless of what is going on. I've even caused a bit of a deliberate ruckus with pots and pans just to keep proofing for what he'll hear on the road. Settling is such important skill for a wee lad who will be playing support crew at trials for the next couple of years.

On a humerous note, Kipling offered his first 'fake' pee-pee behavior today in hopes of earning a zuke. Yep, He's outside and there he goes squatting in the grass (over and over again) not actually going potties. That is my cue to stop the food rewards for the 'pee-pees' and cut over to praise only. The problem (at least in my experience) is that the fake pee-pees quickly overtake the real ones and accidents start to happen when puppies are too busy thinking about the position and not the behavior. They come back inside and have accidents because they forgot to go (and of course their people think they DID go!).

Cute little jailbird eh?
Kipling had his first foray into the pool this evening. Of course he was supervised - I was in the pool he started out on the deck. Not swimming per se, but he waded onto the top step while Murphy and Teller swam and retrieved. I wasn't sure if he was not sure about the whole water thing or if it's more that he hasn't mastered "go down the stairs" as well as he can do "up the stairs".

Cute little video clip of Kippie playing with his toys (and tail) this evening. As you can see this is the point in the day when he's getting to the over-tired, hard to focus part of the day. About 10 minutes after this video he passed out in his ex-pen...LOVE a tired puppy. BTW - this is pretty much what he did all morning yesterday in his crate in the van at the dog show. Good puppy Kippie, good puppy.