Sunday, May 23, 2010

The week of dogs has been one busy dog week! Liam started back into agility after being out for almost a year due to a back injury last summer. At 8 years old he is still healthy, happy and not ready to completely retire from the sport. We both LOVE running outdoors and think its the best way to spend a morning!

On Wed both dogs did there second therapy visit to Logan place, which is part of the Preble St Homeless shelter. Residents of Logan place were, at one time, homeless. We are part of a pilot program to use therapy dogs to try get get the residents more social . Since I am also the volunteer coordinator for the animal shelter, the idea of having people who understand homelessness help animals who are homeless makes complete sense. So the program is to try to give people the confidence to volunteer at the shelter and be more involved in the community. Its a big order, but so far my dogs are making great strides with some of the residents. I am hoping we can make the switch from using my dogs to having shelter dogs make the visit. It would be good for the shelter dogs to get out of there kennels and make these much needed trips.

This week Gimli earned 2 legs of his rally novice title at the Wassamki show in Scarborough (woot!). Since pulling him from agility, we have been a little lost on what to do next, and rally is a nice transition for us to go to the obedience ring. Although our runs weren't pretty...Gim was happy and very proud of himself (me too!). Just look at the pride on his little face! We saw some great friends and wonderful much fun. Cant wait for the Cumberland show at the end of June!

My aunt Karen and cousin Matt came for a visit this weekend from NY and enjoyed a long walk in the woods with the boys, Jill and the Golden retriever gang. They also got to observe my puppy class and take part of a AKC CGC test. When people visit, its always a guarantee that they will be involved in my dog-life in some way!
Next week...more agility and rally classes, a therapy visit at the hospital and attending another noseworks seminar on Sunday. ok....maybe we can rest in June :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Connie Cleveland is a well known Obedience Trainer, but this could apply to other venues beyond Obedience Dog any venue in life...

by Connie Cleveland

On the occasion of my tenth anniversary, my husband asked me how I wanted to celebrate. I asked that we take a very dear friend, my adopted grandmother and one of the greatest of all the great southern ladies, out to dinner with us.

At dinner, my husband, Brian, presented me with a diamond ring. It was gorgeous and I was speechless, but even as I thanked him, I worried about the expense and extravagance of such a gift. As if he knew that the next line belonged to my grandmother, my husband excused himself from the table. He was barely out of sight when she reached across the table and grabbed me by the shoulder, "I know what you're thinking, I know you think he couldn't afford it and it's too extravagant. I don't care if he had to put a second mortgage on the house to buy it, don't you steal his joy! It's beautiful. Accept it as the token of his love that it is and say nothing about how he shouldn't have bought it for you." Then she repeated, "Don't you dare steal his joy!"

That was the end of the conversation. She sat back in her seat, smiled at my returning husband, and we had a lovely dinner. I took her advice and put my reservations out of my mind. The ring has never come off my finger, but most importantly, I learned a wonderfully important lesson, never to steal another man's joy.

Are you a joy stealer?

"You know if my dog hadn't gone down on the sit, I would have won the class", said, unfeelingly, to the winner.

"I sure didn't think your dog worked that high a score."

"I can't believe you placed, I thought Jane Oneup and her dog would beat you."

"I thought I had that class won! My dog had a great performance," said to the winner.

"Isn't that judge an idiot? I can't believe the dogs he put up!" said to the winner.

"Boy, aren't you glad Mrs Winallthetime wasn't here today or you might not have won."

"You passed that Master test because the water blind was so easy."

"That was the stupidest set of water marks I've ever seen. No trial should end that easily," said to the winner.

Do you discourage or encourage fellow competitors? Do you tell them their goals are too lofty and their dreams too big? Are you trying to be helpful or trying to keep them from accomplishing something that you never had the ability or perseverance to do yourself? It is equally as harmful to steal joy by destroying the dream.
"No Basset Hounds get UD's," said to the owner of the Bassett in Utility class.

"I've never seen a Rottweiler that could do fronts and finishes", said to the owner of the Rottweiler practicing fronts and finishes.

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a UD and a Master Hunter? Do you know how few people have ever done it?" said to the first time dog owner setting out to do both.

When FC AFC OTCH Law Abiding Ezra had both his field championships and 65 OTCH points including all the necessary first places, someone had the guts to come up to me, his owner, trainer and handler and say, "No dog will ever be a field champion and an obedience champion." My jaw drops when I think about it. Isn't it unfortunate that I remember this attempt at stealing my joy much more than I remember all the cards and letters and congratulations I received when those last 35 points were earned?

If you are willing to destroy someone's dream, perhaps you don't realize that it is the JOY of pursuing the dream that keeps the dreamer motivated, not just reaching the accomplishment.

My husband and I travel and compete together. I remember an event, early in our relationship when I watched his Doberman fail articles. "Darn it, " I said, as he came out of the ring," she didn't even try to find the right one!" "Oh", he replied, "but, weren't her heeling and signals wonderful?"

Unknowingly, I had almost stolen his joy. He was celebrating the improvement on the exercise that had been giving him trouble, and I was focused on the failure. Since that experience, Brian and I have learned that the best response to a questionable performance, "What did you think?" That way, if the handler is excited about some aspect of the performance, you can share that excitement. If the handler is disappointed in another aspect, you can share the disappointment. You are safely removed from being a joy stealer.

I hope you have a lot of dreams and goals for your dogs in (the coming year). Undoubtedly there will be moments of disappointment as you venture through the landmines of injury, failures and other setbacks. Remember that the joy of the journey is worth the difficulties along the way and don't let anyone steal that joy. Guard it well and at the end of the road you can own it and revel in it with all the other memories of the trip.

*Permisssion to cross post* a great read for all dog competitors.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

bite sleeves and horse crops

The title of this blog is not what you think! My good friend and training colleague, Shannan, asked me (and 12 other good friends) to help her at the ATTS temperament test in Kennebunk yesterday. I said 'sure' because that's what friends do, not really knowing what I was going to be doing.
I received my volunteer schedule and my job was being the 'weird stranger'. 'OK', I thought..'she knows me, I can do weird'.
I arrive at the event, and start the walk through with the head tester, Bill. Once we get to the 'weird stranger' station, I was given my brief instructions and decided that they should call it 'belligerent' stranger, not weird.
So I spent my afternoon, putting on my best acting chops, waving a horse crop, and yelling (I mean yelling) at Rottweiler's, Dobermans, German Shepherds,Pit Bulls, Bull mastiffs, and the highlight... a 150 lb English Mastiff. They were all leashed and in some cases, double leashed with Bill on the end of one of the lines. I wore a bite sleeve on my arm (you know...just in case), but wish I had brought a box of liver treats ( you know...just in case).
But all the dogs were great..I think I scared a few, but not one dog lunged at me. Notta...nill...zipo. We tested about 20 dogs on my shift, and I was surprised how well the dogs did. Besides listening to my rants about 'lost cans' (you had to be there), the dogs heard gunshots, met a friendly and neutral strangers, had to walk on 2 different types of surfaces and be startled by an opening umbrella. I wish I could have given cookies to all the dogs I yelled at yesterday, but test rules said I couldn't.
I found this test to be most interesting to watch, and wish I could have chatted 'behavior' with Bill, Shannan and Danielle after every dog tested. Being a behavior & training geek, this was really fascinating stuff. for more information on the ATTS, please visit

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What a great day! Had a visit from a good friend and her 2 dogs. All of us went for a hike at Falmouth Community park where the dogs romped & swam and then rolled in day old cow manure that was spread in the fields.(That was more the dogs highlight of the day then it was ours). We then went to one of my favorite watering holes, The Great Lost Bear, had couple of drinks on the patio and declared it a margarita summer. My only regret was not bringing a camera, so I posted a picture of the gang from a visit at Popham Beach in the fall. As you can see, Liam is an honorary corgi.