Thursday, May 31, 2012

Purple "Puller" Toys

We're not ready to do a formal product review on these buggers yet, but we did try a new toy this weekend at the trial. So far all I've managed to do with them is use Kipling as a circus seal:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

LEAP - Memorial Day Weekend May 26-28th, 2012

Catching up after a long weekend - from a work, life and blog perspective...I'm still behind!

First - not our best agility weekend by results, but decent runs all weekend in more heat and humidity than Teller is usually comfortable working in. Final results from the weekend  - three JWW legs and about 35 points (we needed some points so no complaints there) - and three standard runs that were out of sync. A bar, a weave pop-out and another bar. One of the bars was all mine - I pushed a line and put pressure on a bar and it came down. Most of the time I can get away with that, but alas, not that time.

Great courses this weekend by Scott Stock, David Hirsch and Jude Valloze - hard to pass up even an outdoor trial with that line up.

Woo's weekend:



On a personal note, I got through another birthday (yay) unscathed. For my 36th birthday I wanted to log 36,000 steps on my pedometer, what I got was 42,000 steps and a grand total of 18 miles on my feet on Saturday. I logged another 12 miles on Sunday and a mere 8 miles on Monday - for a grand total of 64 miles for the week (Monday-Sunday). It will be hard to beat that number this week!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NOMAD Practice - May23rd, 2012

Kipling, Teller and I (Murphy too actually) headed out to the NOMAD practice tonight. The format consists of three 'stations' with 6-10 dogs per station, three dogs working simultaneously on each of the stations - groups (by height) work through the stations. Followed by a course of some type - tonight it was a USDAA standard course.

Both dogs worked beautifully - Kipling got most of the floor time tonight and I was able to get his run-through turn filmed. He's seeing 22" jumps for the first time tonight and other than the chute - which is really a new obstacle for him still - he did absolutely everything I asked of him.

I expected Kipling to be more scattered in these situations - he hasn't attended any formal classes, his distraction training happening ringside at agility trials. I didn't really expect him to come out (this week and two weekends ago) and be able to run an entire modified course (no weaves) so competently. He's got a great foundation and it's starting to show more and more. He's going to eventually come together!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Teeter Work.

A whopping 90 degrees today in the BVT - hot for people, hot for dogs. I logged 10.5 miles in a bit over two hours this morning. My goal was 12 miles today, but I ran out of steam - and sunscreen! It's all good!

The boys got another hour and a half in the pool followed by more grooming and a blow-dry. I vacummed the pool - which is now cleaner than my house! Yardwork, etc - Weekend chores while I am oncall.

Tonight it cooled to a not so tropical 82 degrees, so I decided to give Kipling a teeter session - he's super confident on the teeter, what I wanted was to increase some speed while keeping the confidence. You'll see that I am getting more speed, but that after all that swimming and excitement of being home all weekend (as in no naps) he got tired quickly and the diminishing return thing is pretty rapid - even for a 5 minute session.

Nevertheless, I'm very happy with what I got. The baby dog is starting to come together:

Some shots from Rhode Island

From our weekend in Rhode Island last week:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

And the 2012 pool season....

Has officially begun.

There was much rejoicing:

and then a 2.38mile/33.21minute walk in the sunshine:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More about those pesky pet food recalls...

I've read yet another article that once again makes me feel really really good about my decision years ago to feed my dogs raw (and never look back). Just today Truth About Pet Food published this article:

Please go read the whole piece and while you're at it read this one as well:

Here's the super scary part that has been haunting me all day - I just can't get the betrayal out of my brain (This is directly quoted from TruthAboutPetFood's article):
{SNIP}The FDA inspection report specifically mentions the ingredient "animal fat" and "animal digest". {SNIP}If none of the foods manufactured at this plant have the ingredients animal fat or animal digest in their formulas, why were these ingredients mentioned in the FDA inspection?  Did regulatory officials cross-check ingredients inspected at the plant (specifically animal fat and animal digest) with pet foods manufactured at this plant?  Was this Diamond manufacturing plant was using animal fat and animal digest in these pet foods without consumer knowledge?
For those unaware, animal fat and animal digest are considered by many (myself included) to be the worst of the worst of pet food ingredients.  FDA testing has linked these ingredients with euthanized animals; ground and cooked euthanized animals.  
"There appear to be associations between rendered or hydrolyzed ingredients and the presence of pentobarbital in dog food. The ingredients Meat and Bone Meal (MBM), Beef and Bone Meal (BBM), Animal Fat (AF), and Animal Digest (AD) are rendered or hydrolyzed from animal sources that could include euthanized animals."  
If you were/are feeding your dog or cat a high dollar, perceived to be premium pet food, would you want one of the ingredients to be sourced from euthanized animals?  Of course you wouldn't.  
And that my friends is how much Diamond, Wellness, Taste of the Wild, Canidae, etc care about your pets. You feel good spending more on wellness because it's got to be better than Walmart's "Old Roy" right? Except you still are at the mercy of the manufacturers to be honest with the consumer about ingredients and sourcing. Unless you own an independent lab, you don't have any way of knowing what is actually in that extruded kibble nugget.How would Animal Digest end up in foods that weren't supposed to contain Animal Digest? It's CHEAPER than real meat! Hell, it's even cheaper than corn filler!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Up to this point Kipling has seen jumps, the contacts, tables, tires and tunnels. He's learning some discrimination, crosses, sends and GOs and he's coming along nicely. The last two obstacles to tick off his resume were the chute and the weaves (and he won't see any weaves for another 2-3 months at least).  Tonight I finally ended up with my chute barrel and my chute fabric in the same place at the same time - and even better the chute fabric attached to the chute barrel. It just so happened that I also had a clicker and some cheese in my pocket - clearly it was time to teach Kipling how to do the chute.

So the video below is Kipling's first chute session - seriously, his very first chute session. I didn't tape the first two reps - the first where I lifted the fabric and called him through it and then the second rep when I realized that the 6' chute (rather than the 12' chute) pretty much meant I wasn't actually going to have to train the chute :-) and I should go get the video camera.

He'll pick up some speed as he gets some more reps - I'm psyched that I'm able to send him to the chute at a bit of a distance and meet him at the other side - also the call-through the chute. He's got it! Lesson for Kipling now is to accelerate out of the chute to prevent turning inside the fabric. He'll also need to see 12' and 15' chute fabrics in the event that he ever plays in venues other than AKC. Oh and pay no attention to Erica running around in pajama pants in broad daylight, I ran three miles in the POURING rain tonight and  when I got home I changed into the first dry 'play' clothes I could find :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Providence and Middlesex Kennel Club - May 12-13, 2012

Kipling watches Excellent Standard. Kippie are we boring you?
Isn't Auntie Sharon nice to share her chair with you?
Off to Whrode Island, which is actually super fun to say and totally reminds me of this scene from The Muppet Movie. Getting there is half the fun come share it with me - Movin' Right a-looooong... There's an ear worm for you, enjoy with my compliments (GRIN).

Great site in North Smithfield's Wide World of Indoor Sports. Air Conditioned comfort, nice footing on turf, no crazy lines and stars and logos on the footing, great judges, great clubs and even better friends! We were lucky enough to stay with an agility friend - who lives on a lake. The boys - all three of them got a lot of romping around, playing with her two lovely golden ladies and SWIMMING!!! Looking at my SD card I have over 1,000 pictures from the weekend (birds, dogs, ducks, etc) to process! That is a chore for another day and another post.

Teller finished the weekend three Q's for four runs with a wrong course in standard yesterday. So we've got a handful of points and one more QQ for the team :-)

QQ Cheezeburger
After our 'no for four' last weekend in Westfield, we needed to come back strong this weekend and I feel like we did. Teller was a bit slow this weekend, he was pretty warm which I know is out of his comfort zone, but he is also due for a chiropractic adjustment - which I'll get scheduled sooner than later. I think he's feeling really good overall - he may have overdone the playing and swimming this weekend (he's not in swim-condition yet and they did swim for about an hour yesterday afternoon). Teller actually slept really hard today before and between classes which isn't his usual trial behavior. Today (Sunday) I think he was just really tired (note to self, don't let Teller completely wear himself out on trial weekends!). We didn't leave Rhode Island with a ton of points - which would have been nice as I feel like we have a bit of ground to make up points-wise, but we've been here before -  it all comes together here in time! :-)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kipling - May 10th, 2012

Kipling doing some fun cross-training at the playground this afternoon. LOVED the balance stools. Almost like getting on the ball!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Kipling at Practice - May 9th, 2012

So tonight was Kipling's first real NOMAD practice. He's been to run-throughs a couple of times over the winter - you know when I've been home on a weekend AND I wasn't oncall. In those situations I've primarily worked Teller and he's done one or two obstacles at a time. He's been the only dog working and I've kept it super easy and super short. NOMAD practices are a little chaotic, there are usuallly three dogs working at a time in three separate sequences, divided by logical grouping (no physical barriers). The dogs and handlers not running their dogs are lumped around the outside of the sequences, some in crates, some on down stays, some tugging, etc. This is a hard environment for a lot of dogs because there is just so much going on.

Teller has done well at these practices because the other dogs get him 'up' and he is inclined to make some mistakes (as in come off contacts). It's been a great environment to proof obstacles and to get a lot of working time in (figure 12 dogs in groups of 3-4, rotating through three sequences for about two hours - there's a LOT of equipment time). There's also a lot of variables - some dogs will leave their mommies, some dogs don't like other dogs in their faces, some dogs will correct other dogs for coming too close while their working. Perhaps its because everyone trials their dogs and trains their dogs well - but the dynamic is a super stable working pack. We all respect each other's space and it just works. Sometimes dogs will go greet other dogs or other people, but it works. The variable is green dogs - you don't know what you're going to get from a young dog or a baby dog - when there is that much excitement and energy anything can happen.

I know that Kipling has matured a bit in the last few weeks. We've worked really hard at working for ME - not for the cookie, not for the toy - FOR ME and WITH me. Kipling is one of the smartest dogs I've ever worked with, but his biddability is all over the place and some of his sessions have certainly felt like we're going sideways instead of forward. So what were we going to get tonight at practice?

No suspense here. Both boys were absolute rock-stars. Teller my consistent and dependable partner. He ran beautifully and I got to work exactly what I wanted to work with him tonight. Some weaves, some dogwalks, a couple of a-frames and he was done.

Kipling was the big surprise to me. I expected some distraction, I expected some "hey, I know you! You have cookies too". I expected to spend (and would have been absolutely happy to do so) a lot of time playing the look at me game. Come, turn, wait, etc. What I got (and make no mistake - this is what I rewarded as well) was attention on me and obstacle focus. I had startline stays, I had nice 2o2o's on all of the contacts, I had tunnel-aframe discriminations, I had rear-crosses, front crosses, blind crosses and sends. Kipling saw his first real broad-jump (he'd only seen my obedience version once), he remembered what the tire was, let me rear cross the a-frame (didn't even look for me), got a great turn-tunnel. He was pretty fast and he kept all of his bars up just like a little pro! Oh and did I mention that Kippie's last turn it was POURING (and I do mean POURING) rain?

Now, make no mistake, the next time we go out it's a whole new game (and I'll have to bring more chicken - and more silly voice), but I'm thrilled with the breakthrough and the progress. Maybe next week I'll be able to get some video footage!

Here's what Kippie worked tonight:

Monday, May 07, 2012

The real implications of the latest dog food recalls...

If you are a pet owner (and if you're not a pet owner it's kind of odd that you've landed here on our blog - welcome nevertheless) you have probably heard about the latest round of recalls affecting dog food manufactured by the Diamond group - as of this writing the original recall of Chicken Soup for the Soul has expanded to include Taste of the Wild, Wellness, Natural Balance, Kirkland, Nature's Domain and many more (the full list is here).

Worth mentioning here is that I feed raw food - primarily Oma's Pride raw food. Big hunks of chicken, beef, turkey, duck, tripe, buffalo, rabbit, assorted whole fish...When we go in for our annual vet appointments (or semi-annual actually) they always sigh when they ask me what they're eating because it's a huge list and it's all real food. Its funny, the vet techs usually end up writing down about half of what I say and then writing "see Teller's sheet" for the other two.

I'd imagine that most of their clients probably have a one word answer for them - something along the lines of "Eukanuba", "Wellness", "Iams". I understand why people think those are good dog foods, the marketing and pretty packaging is really appealing. From a dog sport perspective Eukanuba sponsors some really big AKC events - they must be the 'good guys' right? As a child, I remember standing in the petfood aisle BEGGING my mother to buy my childhood dog 'GRAVY TRAIN' because you could add water and make gravy (she said no) - our dogs didn't eat commercial dog food even back then. I wanted a science experiment (making gravy from kibble) - she didn't buy the hype.

I know kibble is super convenient to feed and we all have to make decisions and choices for ourselves and for our dogs based on many variables - time and money on the forefront of course. Feeding kibble is a choice, feeding low end brands is another choice. It's my choice to know more and to feed better.

For those kibble feeders, are their dogs healthy eating Eukanuba? Maybe. Are my dogs healthier eating raw? Maybe. Do they feel 'good' about what they're feeding their dogs? Maybe - I'm sure some parents feel pretty good feeding their children a diet of hot dogs, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and fruit flavored gummies. Do I feel good about what I'm feeding my dogs? ABSOLUTELY. I know where it came from, I know what went into it - and I know without a shadow of a doubt that everything in that grind came from a plant that has to maintain standards to remain compliant with FDA and USDA standards. Oma's Pride remember is a subsidiary of Miller Foods and they are primarily a restaurant supplier. That turkey in my ground raw food is the same turkey that is ground for that turkey burger that you had at your favorite restaurant. Those duck necks I just fed my boys for breakfast? The rest of that duck went to that chinese restaurant around the corner. It's a closed loop.

So, I don't feed kibble what's the big deal with this recall that affects only kibble? Well, there are larger implications:

Kibble is cooked so it's safe right?
This round of recalls is related to salmonella contamination - which really shouldn't be harmful to dogs (more on that in a second) - but has a very real possibility of making the people who come in contact with the contaminated kibble sick - VERY sick. And as most things go - if you already have a compromised immune system (you're very young, you're old, you're already weakened or sick) salmonella is deadly. No one expects to die because they bought a sack of Wellness dog food.

Dogs have very short digestive tracts - they were designed to eat a whole class of food that humans either cannot or will not eat. Dogs are hunters and scavengers. Lacking thumbs their natural diet would be raw dead things. Some of which would be fresh kills, some of which would be ummmm....not so fresh. So by evolutionary design germies like salmonella passes right through their digestive tracts.

The real problem is that when people buy and feed kibble to their dogs there's this feeling of 'its safe". I've seen so many students handle kibble with their hands to use as training treats - truthfully I've handled kibble in the same manner (though I can't stand the smell and usually go running for the nearest warm soapy water I can find). Kibble is processed at extremely high temperatures (425 degrees or more) - essentially destroying any bacteria in the meat and also most of the nutrition in the meat as well, which is why manufacturers have to add back in 'nutrient packs'. We (the cosmic WE) reach into bags to scoop out daily rations. We aren't careful about safe storage. We don't immediately wash our hands in warm soapy water after coming in contact with kibble, we touch our faces, we touch other things. We don't wash those dog bowls frequently - because the bowls LOOK clean. We - again cosmically and as a society - handle kibble as though it is a completely safe product.

That's so different than how I (and the cosmic we) handle raw dog food. We're trained to expect some contamination - some germs. It's raw meat. We're very careful to keep food frozen until we're ready to use it. We thaw food in the fridge or in a cold water bath. We either have plastic containers that are used only for raw dog food or we use non-porous containers glass, metal, ceramic (I have a set of corning-ware that perfectly holds 5# of raw food). We feed our dogs out of metal bowls that are washed after every single meal, the counter is wiped down after every meal is prepared. We feed 'messy' foods outside - fish, tripe, chicken backs. Go eat them outside and we'll hose off the deck after they're done eating. If I had babies crawling around on the deck I'd probably find an even safer place in the yard to feed outside. I handle my dog food like I'd handle a raw chicken breast that I was making for my own dinner - because it's logical to do so.

And now here's the really scary part:
After the last scare (pick one - Melamine, Aflaxtoxin fungus, salmonella, etc) consumers were promised better quality control. "We won't let this happen again, we will test product that comes into our warehouses and manufacturing centers". "We will store these ingredients safely", "We care about your pets",  or my favorite "We will test every batch of dog food before it leaves the manufacturer". A good portion of these promises were made by Diamond Pet Food actually. Give us another try, we'll do better. We'll get it right! We PROMISE!!!

Now, a few years later we have concrete proof that no such testing is occurring - not in the incoming ingredients, not in the processing protocol and (at the very least) Diamond is not testing every batch of food that comes off their line. If they can't catch salmonella - which isn't particularly harmful to dogs but IS harmful to people - they aren't going to catch a batch contaminated with melamine, fungus, bacteria or any other toxin. Sure they'll test for these things after they have reports of sick dogs and sick humans. But is that enough for you?

Do you feel good about letting your dog be the testing unit of Diamond foods? Probably not. Consumers need to step up and use this experience to demand better for your dogs - and for your family.

Look at the options available to you - there are some kibbles that are still made in single batches in dedicated (single batch) facilities where quality control is taken seriously. It's been so long since I fed a kibble I'm not up on where all of the individual smaller brands are produced any more (Wellness USED to have their own facility - obviously Diamond makes their food now). Even buying product produced by a small 'family-owned' brand isn't good enough anymore - it's super easy for those brands to manufacture their foods 'off-site' - meaning they hire a larger company to make their foods for them - and then you've got cascading recalls. Now you KNOW where Kirkland dog food is made and it's made on the same line as Taste of the Wild, etc etc. How many owners would have purchased that  big bag of (expensive) Taste of the Wild if you knew at the time that it was made by Diamond on the same line as the rest of the products on the recall list?

I know that The Honest Kitchen tests every single batch BEFORE it leaves the facility - it can be (and is being) done in commercially viable operation. That should be an eye-opening lesson here. Diamond (and the brands that use Diamond for their manufacturing) don't care enough about your pets (and about you) to hold food back from distributors a mere 24-48 hours after production to wait for test results and product analysis from an independent lab. Doesn't that give you a great big case of the warm fuzzies?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

TMAC - May 5-6, 2012

We're home and settled in from our weekend in Westfield, MA for TMAC's spring agility weekend. We've had better agility weekends - we broke our QQ streak and were ZERO for four this weekend - but we've certainly had worse weekends too and honestly our runs were good all weekend, Teller ran outside beautifully and we had a wonderful time with our agility peeps.

In brief:
Saturday Standard Teller strided off the dogwalk contact. It happens, the dogwalk as 2nd to last obstacle is always hit-or-miss for us. It's Teller's thing, though I do think that if I had beaten him - or tried to beat him - to the end of the dogwalk instead of supporting the dogwalk entry he'd have gotten it. So many 20" dogs fell off the dogwalk that I hung back to support the entry. The rest of the run was gorgeous - he nailed a weave entry that stymied a lot of the 20-24" classes and we had a great teeter -jump-jump-tire sequence which was also a big sticky wicket. It was one of his best standard YPS yet.

Saturday JWW - he flicked off over a wrong course before the weaves. I have to admit that I did not see that option coming. At the time I thought I put too much pressure on the line to the weaves, but looking at the video, I don't think that I pushed him over that jump.

Sunday Standard - I find out  immediately AFTER our run that Teller had a badly upset tummy and probably felt pretty crappy during that entire run - I suspect that's why he came out of the weaves. He got in, made his entry but never really committed to 12 poles. He got back in and put in a nice rest of the run - I even got in a blind at the end of the teeter.

Sunday JWW - As Ann would say "that was a hot mess". I sent Teller out to the #1 tunnel and then handled the first 90 degree turn as a LOP (lead out pivot). Teller did not read it well and fell on his face on the turn from 2-3. We saved it, I almost fell down, tweaked my ankle, hobbled a few steps, got in the front cross and we recovered - only to have the run fall apart again when I got out of position - my fault, my fault, my fault. Sorry Woo.

It's been a long time since Teller has gone without a cheeseburger for an entire weekend, so we were due for a slump. Now, if we had Q'ed this morning on that standard course I probably would have handled the beginning of the JWW course differently, but we had nothing to lose so I gambled a bit - never expected him to fall on his head though. He's already had his arnica for the evening and we'll all go to bed early tonight!

Thursday, May 03, 2012


I don't often post photos of the token cat. Q (named after the entity from Star Trek) is a great mouser and is probably Murphy's closest animal friend - ever since Q came home at 6 weeks old and adopted Murphy as his mother. Q is very bonded to the dogs and to a small handful of people to whom he chooses to be affectionate (I'm not among his favorite people by the way, I'm just the one who feeds him).

He's quite a striking cat though - often finding warm sun-beams - perfect for basking.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Dogwalk and Tunnel Discriminations

Got a quick training session in tonight before heading out to do a quick 7.25 miles around the block (in 1:31:42). Decided to work all three boys tonight with different goals for each.

Kipling is ready to start seeing some discrimination and some 'crappy' angles to contacts - he had both tonight and did pretty well. Last session (not filmed) he seemed to have lost some respect for the bars and was going through them, so tonight I put the jumps up to 16", he's ready for the jumps to come up a bit and he certainly needs to respect the bars. In training (and I would in trial too if it becomes an issue) I always NRM knocked bars. It's an "uh-oh, what happened" - everything stops, there is no next obstacle. I reset the bar and we do the exercise again. If the bar stays up there's a cookie. Pretty simple. This works really well on dogs that have a conscience :-) After the one bar drop, I get much more consideration from Kipling in the air and THAT is what I'm looking for.

Teller's mission tonight was to work some cookie-contacts on the dogwalk - stop on the dogwalk, get a cookie - fair deal. I also expect some funny approaches to contacts and  dogwalk/tunnel discriminations from the judges we'll see in the next few weeks, tonights session seemed like a great night to work both since the dogwalk is currently setup in the yard.

Murphy was super keen to work tonight. Murphy has been mostly retired since 2009, trialing wasn't for him and while he loves to do tricks and train - he's really hit or miss about when he really wants to do anything formal. I generally let him dictate when he wants to work - he'll let me know. It's funny how different it is to work him than Teller or Kipling - I spend a lot of my time squeaking and it's HARD work to keep him 'up' and excited. He worked his 3-4 minutes (one stick session), he happily bounced off some of his contacts (fine Murph, just don't break your leg OK?), played in the tunnel and then went inside for supper. That's pretty much Murphy's ideal session - not a lot of work followed by a hearty meal (tonight's entree was Oma's Pride chicken and veggie mix and sliced organic apples).