Friday, March 10, 2017

Two New AKC Title Opportunities

The AKC has released some interesting news lately. Two new dogs sports have been added to the AKC. Both of them are things that I'm very, very interested in.

Scent Work:

The AKC has finally gotten into the nose work. The AKC program (they call it scent work) differs slightly from both UKC and NACSW. The differences may confuse handlers competing with other organizations, but they are similar enough that dogs should have no problem. (Seriously, Jedi's part is: Find odor, tell Mom, wait for treat. I'm the one who has to worry about the rules.)

AKC divides Scent Work into two divisions -- Odor Search and Handler Discrimination.
  • The Odor Search division has dogs searching for specific essential oils, just like the other two organizations. Birch, anise and clove will be the target odors again. AKC is also adding peppermint. Like the other two organizations, the dog will have to find target odors in containers, interior and exterior searches. No vehicle searches will be offered under AKC. However, dogs will have to find odor buried underground. I'm not sure how that's going to work. I'll let you know when I find out.
  • The second division will be Handler Discrimination, much like UKC. Dogs will be required to find an article with the scent of their Handler.
AKC scent work has four difficulty levels: Novice, Advanced, Excellent and Master. In comparison, UKC has five levels and NACSW has three.


Trick Dog:

This is the second title program. It was announced on Tuesday, and I can't tell you how thrilled I am. I've always been a fan of Kyra Sundance and her organization, Do More With Your Dog. Well, the AKC and Kyra Sundance have teamed up to offer Trick Dog titles. You can see the press release here.

The AKC will offer four Trick Dog title levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Performer. The tricks required for titles get progressively more difficult as you move along.

For the first three levels tricks must be performed in front of an official evaluator. It looks like an AKC CGC evaluator can sign off on the tricks. In fact, for the Novice level a CGC title counts for half of the 10 required tricks. Jedi has one of those! There is a list of 20 options for other five tricks. I looked it over and Jedi could earn the Novice title tomorrow if I could find someone sign off on it!

The Performer title is a lot more complicated. The dog has to do a total of 10 tricks from the Novice, Intermediate and Advanced title requirements, and the dog must have earned all three of those titles previously. No food lures can be used in performing the tricks. The tricks must be made into a routine, and the routine needs to be on a video that is submitted to the AKC for review. Fancy schmancy! I don't know if I'm talented enough to pull that together. -- No worries. We'll think about that later.

Right now I'm really excited at the thought of Jedi earning new titles this year. I'm going to keep my eyes open for scent work trials and look for a CGC evaluator who is as excited about the new trick titles as I am. Who wants to join me?

Before we go I need to tell you that there is one caveat. Like all AKC dog sports, a dog must have an AKC number to participate in Scent Work and Trick Dog competitions. Don't have one? No problem! If your dog is obviously a purebred, you can get a PAL (Purebred Alternative Listing) number. You take some pictures, fill out of form and send in a fee. A few weeks later you'll be good to go. Information here.

And what if your dog is not a purebred? Still not a problem! If your dog is a mixed breed, you can get a Canine Partner number. Just fill out a form and send in a fee. Information here.

See, there is no reason why you can't get out and compete with your dog. WARNING: It's so fun that it's addictive! My dilemma -- I don't know where I'm going to find the additional time and money to pursue these new things. I just need to win the lottery so I can be a full-time dog mom. That would solve everything! -- K

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Traveling With Your Pets

While on my blogging hiatus, Hubby, the kids and I had to take a sudden trip up north to visit his parents. Here's some dog math for you:

Last Minute Trip + Over-the-Holidays = No Boarding Available

It was stressful, but we took the dogs with us. They did surprisingly well. I packed their food in serving-sized bags, individually labelled (each dog is on a different formula). I had leashes, bowls, medication, poop bags, a doggie first aid kit and shot records in a specially designated dog bag. I also had a "barf kit" because Jedi still gets car sick. We had to stop every 90 minutes so the dogs could pee and stretch their legs. It was a L-O-N-G drive.

I would have saved myself a lot of stress if I had seen this great infographic from Orvis beforehand.

However, I'm sharing it now -- after the holidays -- because this is the busy travel season for dog nuts like me. In the next month we have Barn Hunt trials in Ocala and Nosework Trials in Deland. We also have multiple day trips including Beach Day, Pack Walk, Easter Egg Hunt and Doggie Dining. Travelling is easier when I have a check list. Would you add anything to the list? -- K

Top 10 Tips for Travel by Car with Your Dog Infographic

Top 10 Tips for Travel by Car with Your Dog Infographic by Orvis.

Monday, March 6, 2017

We're Sniffing Again

The hide was in the planter. Jedi's waiting for the
chicken I have tucked in my cheek.
Back in September I told you that my nosework trainer was closing up shop. She held classes for another few weeks and then moved to Ocala (2 hours away) right after our trials in October. I was sad. Apparently I'm not the only one who misses her. A student from another class is working with Trainer trying to get a Thursday night nosework class together. WOOHOO!

Trainer comes to Jacksonville regularly (she has family here) and has held a few workshops since she moved away. Jedi and I have taken advantage of every one we could. The latest workshop was held at a furniture store before it opened. What a great set up. There were lots of places to hide the target odors. The dogs -- and handlers -- really had to work hard that day. Lucky for you, someone took pictures. (If I had known this was a photo op, I would have worn a more attractive shirt!)

Jedi did really well. Good thing too, because I just sent in entry fees for the April 1-2 UKC nosework trials in Ocala. I guess we'd better get sniffing or else I just wasted my money! -- K

The hide was under the cabinet. I was waiting for Jedi to zero in the source
of the odor for me (he'll lay down for a low hide and sit for a high one).

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Hip Check

Yesterday was a big day for Jedi. He had his hips and elbows checked for dysplasia. Jedi's gonads future depends on what the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has to say.

Jedi's grown to be a good looking dog. He's proportional (albeit at the large end of the breed standard) with a beautiful coat and good temperament. He has nice movement, though I wish he moved like his brother Chili. I also wish I was a better handler and could have put an AKC conformation title on him. However, he's smart and we're doing well with nosework and barn hunt, and rally is coming along nicely. He passed his CGC and GSDCA temperament test as well as the herding instinct test. Because of all this his breeder, RK, is considering adding him to her breeding stock. Of course, this depends on his hips. RK is an ethical breeder, and does a variety of tests before breeding any dog. I went into detail about this during the A to Z of Dog Shows series (see X -- X-Rays and Genetic Tests to learn more).

So here's the deal: If hips/elbows receive a good score, RK will do a couple more tests and then see about finding him a girlfriend. If his results are poor I'll have him neutered. He can continue with barn hunt, nosework, rally and who knows what else sans testicles. I am not a fan of early sterilization. (See here and here for reasons why.) But at 4 1/2 years old, Jedi is fully mature and I think it's safe. And I also don't think it's fair to Jedi to deal with all the hormone driven urges if we're not going to breed him. Poor boy.

We should have the results in 3-4 weeks. I'll let you know. -- K

Thursday, March 2, 2017

You Know What They Say About Karma

A few months back I wrote a ticket on the beach to a guy who was a total asshole. He had nothing but vile things to say, and was completely uncooperative. I ended up having the cops come out and he was nearly arrested. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you would think. I had completely forgotten about it until the other day. A man who had witnessed the event was asking questions about it, including "How do you deal with that?" Truth is, I believe in karma. And karma hasn't failed me yet. Here are just a few of many examples: (BTW, I work for the police department, so I have the luxuries of police dispatchers and officer support. Many ACOs don't.)

Last month I stopped a guy on the beach. His dog was running amok while off leash. I told him I was giving him a written warning and asked for his information. He didn't have a driver's license on him, so I ran him through dispatch. He said his name was David Fletcher and gave me his birthday. It came back empty. I asked him to verify the info in case I misheard. Still nothing. We tried running his social security number and that didn't work either. I called for an officer to assist (standard procedure). Before the officer arrived he said "OK, try Scott Johnson" and gave me a different DOB and SSN too. That information came back with a driver's license. When I handed Mr. Johnson the citation he said "Hey, you said you were giving me a warning!" I smiled and answered "And you said you were David Fletcher." I guess we both lied!

Years ago I had a woman run from me on the beach. She ran over at the dunes in a place that I couldn't take my truck, and then ran the wrong way on a one-way street. I called it in over the radio, to see if an officer was nearby. She had a funny looking dog and a loud shirt, so she was easily spotted. The officer got her information and I wrote her a $30 civil citation for having her dog off leash on the beach. Then the officer wrote her a criminal notice to appear running from me (official lingo: hindering or interfering with the duties of a code enforcement officer.) When we appeared in court the judge laughed, fined her $100 and ordered her to send a letter of apology the department. She sent the apology, but we all knew she didn't mean it.

Back in 2007 I wrote a couple tickets to a guy. He ran from me and hid in the dunes. I found him hiding behind a kayak, his dogs wandering the beach unaccompanied. He was kind of weird and he had an odd, multi-ethnic name -- Carlos Lipschitz. He contested the tickets, but didn't show up to court. I was granted judgment by default and didn't think of Mr. Lipschitz again. Seven years later I got a call from the FBI. Apparently Mr. Lipschitz applied for a job with the agency, and during the vetting process the FBI saw that he had a judgment for $100 in animal control tickets. FBI Guy wanted to know if the tickets had been paid. I told him "No, but I wrote them. I remember the guy." FBI Guy was more than happy to hear the story. We chatted and I asked what happened next for Mr. Lipschitz. FBI Guy said "Well, I bet your tickets will get paid. But we're not going to hire him. He has a couple outstanding parking tickets too. The way I see it, if someone can't take of the little things, we can't trust him with the big things." Several days later I got a call from Mr. Lipschitz, saying that he "remembered having outstanding citations" and wanted to know how to pay them. Poor schmuck didn't know yet.

One of the drawbacks to a small town is that everybody knows the mayor. And no matter how polite you are, some people get offended when you tell them they're breaking the rules. It's not unusual for people to call and complain. (This is why we have audio and video in our trucks.) My sergeant always backs me up but he hates being blindsided, so I try to give him a heads up whenever possible. This is the text I sent him yesterday:
FYI: I just wrote a ticket to James Grad on the beach. He was pretty agitated. But I watched his dog walk from the ocean to the dunes off leash at low tide. Also, I gave him a written warning back in December, so he knows better. It's a solid ticket. However, he's really going to be mad when he gets home and discovers that I wrote his wife, Nancy Grad, a no-leash ticket on the beach this morning. He will probably call. Sorry. OK, not sorry.
And that my friends is the small town drama that I deal with on a regular basis. Like always, the stories are true but I changed names and other identifying information to protect the innocent my ass! It's an odd job, but I'd like to keep it. -- K

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

2nd Annual Dog Walk

I KNOW it's Wordless Wednesday, so I'll try to make this brief. Last year my German shepherd dog club got together with a local German shepherd rescue group to walk our dogs through historic St. Augustine. The weather was perfect. We saw old friends and made many new ones. It went so well that we decided to do it again this year. And I think we outdid ourselves! Imagine 50+ German shepherds (and the occasional Shih Tzu) walking down the street. Yep, we stopped traffic and turned heads. Take a look!











Breathtaking, hunh? But don't stop here. It's Wordless Wednesday! Click around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nurse Jedi

Hubby brought home cooties on Wednesday. He was coughing, sneezing, running a fever and feeling achy. I had a lot going on over the weekend so Hubby tried really hard to keep me from getting sick. This included sleeping in another room.

Well, Jedi didn't like that at all. He wants all his people in the same location. (He is a shepherd after all.) We had to sleep with doors open so Jedi could check up on both of us throughout the night. Otherwise, he would sit outside the closed door scratching, whining and barking relentlessly until it was opened.

Despite Hubby's best efforts I got sick anyway. I missed the big event over the weekend and took a day off of work to recuperate. I should have taken more, but I'm saving my personal time for barn hunt and nosework trials. (Yeah, I'm a junkie.) I've been living on Frosted Mini Wheats and ginger ale because nothing is appetizing, but I have to have something in my stomach to take my meds. (And I learned the hard way what happens when I stop taking my meds.) Mostly I just sleep. Jedi has been by my side the whole time. Everytime I wake up I see his face. I love this dog. -- K

Monday, February 27, 2017

Awww...Gucci Remembered

Gucci chillin' on my bed
I know this is a dog blog, but today I'm feeling . . . catty. You see, today is the anniversary of Gucci's death. I can't believe I've been catless for a whole year. I miss that stubborn little cat. As I stated a year ago, Hubby had asked for a no replacement policy on cats about a decade before Gucci died. He said his allergies were getting worse. I agreed. When we got married Hubby was the cat person so it didn't bother me too much. However, now I realize there is a cat-shaped hole in my heart and it makes me sad.

Funny thing though, about six months ago a friend was in the car with me and Hubby. Hubby was talking about various things and said that he knows one day I'm going to find a special cat at work and he's just going to have to deal with it. I was stunned, but said nothing. Friend and I had lunch a few days later. I asked "Did you hear what I heard?" She said "Yeah girl, you're getting a cat!" Well, that cat hasn't come along yet. We're still looking. But in my feline-free year I've realized a few things about cats and dogs.

Cartoonist Gary Larsen obviously has pets!
  • Dogs are great for your self-esteem. They're like three year olds -- easily amused, always open to having fun, very trusting. Dogs think that their people are awesome, despite what the rest of the world says. Seriously, I've seen way too many jerks with loyal, loving dogs.
  • Cats, on the other hand, keep you humble. They're like teenagers. They can be affectionate, but things have to be done on their terms. They have a weird sense of humor. And they're skeptical about everything. I can't tell you how many times I've said "It's cat food, I swear. Look there's a cat right here on the bag. Just eat it!"
There's some funny sayings out there about the difference between cats and dogs:
Dogs come when you call; cats take a message and get back to you later.

Dogs have owners; cats have staff.
The funniest thing I've ever seen on YouTube is Cat Friend vs Dog Friend. I laugh every time I watch it! Have you seen it?


I'd like to leave with one more picture of Gucci. She and Roxy had a love/hate thing for years. Roxy would sneak up on Gucci and lift up her back end as she walked by. Gucci would yowl and I swear Roxy was laughing. In retaliation, Gucci would sneak up on Roxy when she was sleeping and box her face -- no claws, but 3 or 4 good hits to the muzzle. You could hear the impact. Gucci would wait until Roxy was awake, stare her in the face and then throw her tail up and march off. "Bitch!" was definitely implied. The girls mellowed in their old age. About 6 months before Gucci passed I caught the two of them napping together.

This truce just warmed my heart
How's that for an Awww...picture? It's Awww...Monday. This is a hop where various bloggers try to brighten your Monday with Awww-inspiring posts. Click around below and see what others are sharing today. A big thanks to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for hosting this hop. -- K


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy Birthday Roxy!


Truth is, we don't know Roxy's real birthdate. We arbitrarily picked today. She joined our family in February of 2007 and she was about two at the time. February 25th is Son #2's birthday, and we thought it would be great if she could share the date with her favorite person in the world.

Do you celebrate your pets' birthdays? What special things do you do? Yesterday the dogs had a spa day (more for me than them) and a car ride. Today they got burgers for lunch. Yum!

I've spent the morning looking at pictures, wondering when Roxy become an old lady. She's so gray! She's losing muscle tone in her right, rear leg. The vet said it could be from the snake bite when she was a puppy and/or because she's "a dog of a certain age." Roxy can't go for long walks anymore, and it just breaks my heart when I have to leave her at home. We take her on regular car rides and trips to Sonic. She still has her moments, but playtime has lessened and naptime has increased. She seems happy. I think her mortality bothers me more than it does her. Still . . .

Enough with the melancholy. I'm going to log off and find a furry belly to rub. TTFN, -- K


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cool Rally Move

I LOVE my Tuesday night training group. I find myself looking forward to it every week. The people, the camaraderie, spending time with my dog -- let me tell you, dog training is a great stress reliever. My cardiologist should be happy.

Anyway, this week we learned a cool rally move called the left about turn. The official rally sign (to the right) is confusing -- even trying to explain it is confusing! -- but it's absolutely beautiful to see in action. The turn goes something like this:
  • Dog and handler move forward with dog in the heel position (left side).
  • Handler turns left 180 degrees, actually turning into the dog.
  • Dog wraps around back side handler.
  • Dog and owner move forward with the dog in the heel position (left side).
It looks like this:


I can't figure out how to do videos, so you'll just have to watch this non-shepherd for now. As you can see, the move can be a little tricky when done on leash. The handler must switch the leash from hand to hand and around the back without getting tied up. Not easy for an uncoordinated person like me, but not impossible either. We've been practicing and it has quickly become my favorite rally turn so far. Go ahead and try it with your dog. -- K

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dog Park Drama

One of my duties as animal control officer is to patrol the dog park daily. Ours is a paid membership park and my presence deters non-members from hopping the fence. It makes the paying members feel better. I don't mind, I enjoy watching the dogs play. Sometimes I answer questions. More often than not, I just sit in an inconspicuous corner and observe. I've seen some pretty weird stuff at the dog park. I often want to ask patrons "What the hell are you thinking?" but I can't because it's not PC. Instead, I'm going to share my thoughts with you here -- where I can be as UNpolitically correct as I want.

Our dog park is probably about the size of a football field with a huge pond in the middle. The other day I watched a couple with a West Highland terrier try to leave the park for 45 minutes. Every time they would get near the dog it would run off. They tried coaxing it to the small dog area and then into the smaller, double gated entrance. The dog was too fast (or smart) for them and would escape every time. The only reason they're not still there is because the dog got bored and decided it was time to go home. I saw the whole thing. I didn't laugh (well, not out loud), but I didn't help them either. Nor did I ask them "Why the hell would you bring a dog to an off-leash park if you don't have a good recall?" Seriously people, the dog park is not a substitute for obedience training.

Everyone must sign a copy of the dog park rules when registering. In case people forget (or never read them in the first place) the rules are plainly displayed on a four foot square sign at the entrance. Two of the rules are "no food in the park" and "no children under 10." Last week I saw a preschooler running around the park with a bag of crackers, closely followed by four large, drooling dogs. A parent was nowhere in sight. Surprisingly, I didn't get a bite call -- this time. I wish I had been able to speak to the parent though. I would have asked "With all the kid-centric parks in the City, why the hell would you bring your kid here?" The dog park is not a substitute for spending quality time with your kids.

One of the crazier dog park patrons was the woman who brought both her labs to the park but only took one inside. The other was left in the car. The dog would bark and the owner would yell, but the dog stayed put. 10 minutes went by before the dog finally jumped out the window. This made the owner mad, so she came out of the park, yelled some more, put the dog back in the car and rolled up the windows! I stepped out of the truck when she tried to go back into the park. She said that the dog in the car had been acting up so he "was being punished." He had to sit in the car and watch his brother play. (Seriously! I'm not making this up!) When I tried to tell her "Ma'am you can't leave your dog in a hot car" she reminded me I was "just a stupid dog catcher" and not a dog trainer. (And this is why I can't have a Taser -- I would soooo use it.) I smiled and told her that actually I was an animal control officer and if she didn't remove her from the car immediately I would give her a $505 citation for animal cruelty. She packed up both dogs and drove off. From the stream of obscenities she threw my way, I can tell you that the dog park isn't a substitute for charm school either.

There are so many stories still left to write. I'm hesitant to share some of the weirder ones. I ask myself "Who is going to believe that?!" I promise they're true, I just change some of the identifying details to protect the innocent my ass. Sometimes I complain about my job, but for the most part it's not bad. Where else can you get paid to sit in a dog park and watch drama unfold? -- K

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Silly (And Sleepless) Sunday


This time of year things get really busy. The holidays are over and the weather is mild, making it perfect for all kinds of dog-friendly activities. We've got dog shows, nose work trials, barn hunts, obedience classes, friendly get-togethers and more. My social calendar is full. So when Hubby and I find a morning to sleep in we relish it. Unfortunately, Jedi doesn't understand lazy mornings. The dog above isn't Jedi, but that's the same look I get when I try to get an extra hour of sleep.

It's Silly Sunday. A great big thank you to Sandee over at Comedy Plus for putting this together every week. Click below to see what others have to share today. -- Kelley

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Starmark Looper

One of the frustrating things about trialing in different dog sports (we do conformation, nose work and barn hunt) is the travel. We spend a lot of time in hotels. I try to make it fun for Jedi with new and interesting toys. Our latest find is the Treat Dispensing Looper from Starmark. (This company also made the Everlasting Bento Ball, reviewed here.)

I liked that the ring was easy to pack, and wouldn't loudly clunk on the floor and furniture as he played with it. I don't want to disturb the people in neighboring rooms. It's not easy finding a hotel that accepts large dogs, I don't want to ruin our welcome!

This is a hollow rubbery ring, about the size of a large bagel. There are two openings on one side, and one on the other. The nubs and ridges on the outside are supposed to provide interesting textures for the dog. It's intended to be filled with kibble and treats that will fall out intermittently as the dog plays with the ring. The package says it "Provides hours of mental stimulation and physical activity." Well, Jedi can't read and was disinterested in the toy after about ten minutes.

I had to trim the holes to allow even the smallest of my training treats to fall out. (The holes are way to small for Jedi's regular kibble to go through.) He flipped the ring across the floor with his nose a few times, carried it in his mouth for a minute or two and then left it on the floor for the rest of the weekend. This was not a hit with Jedi. I guess we're sticking with the Kong Wobbler for now.

Does your dog have a favorite quiet toy? Inquiring dogs want to know! -- Kelley

Friday, February 17, 2017

Training Epiphany

Confession time: I'm an All or Nothing kind of girl. If I can't do something perfectly or all at once then I often just don't do it. Because of this, I've ditched countless diets and exercise programs after a bad cheat day or a few missed workouts. In school I got As or Fs, never Cs. I refuse to play Pokémon because "You gotta catch 'em all" -- and that's too much pressure.

Yeah, it's stupid when you say it aloud, but the struggle is real. This unreasonable perfectionism affects my dog training as well. I continually put off training because I don't have a solid block of time or something else isn't perfect. Yes, stupid. (Did I mention the negative self talk that goes along with this? Seriously, I've got issues!)

When I saw this article from Victoria Stillwell a couple things she said hit me hard. For example #6 says "Train little and often." And then there's #9 that says to "Quit while you’re ahead and the dog wants more." What?! I was so surprised by the article that I shared it with my Tuesday Training Crew. Then my trainer shared her Rule of Five:
Training sessions are no more than five minutes or five repetitions long, a maximum of five times a day.
So, I've stashed bags of training treats all over the house. When I think of it, I'll grab a small handful of treats and ask Jedi to do something sit in heel position, come to front position, puppy push-ups, whatever. When I run out of treats . . . I stop. Seriously. Just. Like. That. In a happy voice I tell Jedi "All done" give him some love and move on with my day.

Here's the kicker: I've been doing this for few weeks and Jedi is doing great. His fronts are close; his sits in heel position are straight. He's enthusiastic. I love it. His progress encourages me to train more, which improves progress. It's a win/win for everybody. Even Hubby, who has seen so many of my unfinished projects over the past 30 years -- is shocked by our progress.

I need to cut this short and head to Petsmart. We're running low on treats. The only negative aspect of our training epiphany is that we go through a lot of treats. BTW, Jedi's not complaining! Later, --K

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

So God Made a Dog

Wordless 



Wordier 


Lots of Words
(They will make you cry.)




It's Wordless Wednesday. Hop around below and see what others are sharing today. -- K

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Am NOT a Junkie

But . . .

I love dog shows. My feelings for dog shows are on par with any football fanatic you can think of. Seriously. And this year I am determined to watch the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Here are a few things I did to ensure it:
  • The German Shepherd Dog Club meets on the second Tuesday of every month. Unfortunately, this year it conflicts with Westminster. No problem, I convinced the club to move the meeting up a week.
  • The dog show is being shown on a different channel this year. The only way I could watch the German shepherds on live streaming was to download Fox Sports 1 app.
  • I didn't want to miss the German shepherds, especially after all that work, so I set an alarm on my phone to go off 10 minutes before the dogs entered the ring. I also took a late lunch, so I could watch the show in peace.
I got to see what I wanted, and I loved every minute of it. I was very excited to see Rumor take Best of Breed and Best of Group again this year. That is one good-looking bitch. However, the Herding Group was the final group last night. I didn't get to sleep until midnight, only to be up at 4:30 AM for work. I'm going to have to be up late again tonight to see if the German shepherd wins Best in Show. I have a feeling that I'm going to be really, really cranky tomorrow.

I've decided that watching the Westminster Dog show on TV isn't good enough. I have to see it person. Thirteen months ago I shared my Westminster Woes. I also shared a plan to save money so that I can attend the Westminster dog show to celebrate my 50th birthday next year. (Funny side note colon when I was in the emergency room last month I looked at the doctor and said "I am not going to die today. I'm going to Westminster next year dammit.")

Those who know me know that I'm great at making plans but
I suck at follow through. Well, I've got news for you! I've been saving pennies, cashing rebate checks, recycling aluminum cans and transferring the occasional $20 from one account to the other. No, I don't have the $1,400 that I had hoped for. But I do have a respectable $1,068. That's not too bad considering the difficult year that I had. (Even my mother was surprised to hear my progress. She said -- and I quote -- "You're actually planning and saving? That doesn't sound like you at all!" Thanks Mom.)

After Memorial Day I'm going to start making travel plans in earnest. This time next year I'll be writing posts in New York City. How cool is that?! -- K

P.S. Please feel free to share any New York City/Westminster travel tips and suggestions!
 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Awww...Just Beachy

I've shared the strangeness of Florida winters in the past. The past few days have been mild and people have flocked to the beach. Here are a few pictures I've taken recently:


While on morning patrol, I saw a guy making giant bubbles on the beach at sunrise. This isn't an everyday event so I took a picture.



No snow? No problem. Beach goers are resourceful. Someone built a sandman on the beach this afternoon.



Jedi likes evening walks on the beach, but won't go near the water.

It's Awww...Monday! Did my beachy photos make you say "Awww?" How about "Aaaah?" I hope so. Click around below and see what others are sharing. Thank you Sandee for putting this together each week. Happy Monday! -- K

Sunday, February 12, 2017

FACA Conference

There was a Barn Hunt trial in Deland this weekend. I REALLY wanted to be there. Instead, I attended the annual Florida Animal Control Association (FACA) conference.

I have mixed emotions about these conferences. I enjoy the networking and the war stories are fun. It's nice to spend time with people who share your experiences (and warped sense of humor). However, the subject matter is draining and often depressing. This weekend I spent eight hours in workshops on hoarding and dog fighting -- with pictures and videos. Unlike the movies, there is no reassurance blurb from American Humane at the end. I know that animals were most certainly harmed during filming. Yet I watch anyway, knowing these images will haunt me.

Animal cruelty investigations and dangerous dog prosecution were equally heavy topics addressed this year. Other classes included dealing with urban wildlife, compassion fatigue, officer safety, conflict resolution and developing an effective ACO training program. Surprised? I average about 40 hours of continuing education every year -- and who's "just a stupid dog catcher"?

It was an intense three days. I'm happy to be home. Jedi is glad I'm back too. He hasn't let me out of his sight for the last three hours. Unfortunately, there's no rest for the weary in this house. I need to unpack and wash a couple loads of laundry then head to bed. I have to go back to work tomorrow. UGH.

When things slow down I'll go through my notes and see if there's anything worth sharing. But don't get your hopes up. Most of this year's conference topics fell under the ugly part of my job that I prefer to lock away. For now though, I need to get some rest. 5 AM comes quickly. TTFN, -- K

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rally . . . Oh?

We're a month into our dog training classes. Our trainer has us doing rally turns and circles. She says that they keep our dogs on their toes, naturally forcing them to pay attention. It helps, because Jedi likes to forge ahead. (BTW, "forge" is a euphemism for "Pull like a freakin' sled dog.") So far we've worked on:
  • Left and Right Turns -- These are exactly what you think. 90° and should be crisp. My boot camp training is kicking in!
  • About Turns -- These are 180°, always turning to the right. When walking on a straight line the handler should turn around and walk back on the same line. (We practice these in parking lots.)
  • U-Turns -- These are wider turns, and always to the left. We turn into the dog. When walking the straight line above, the dog should walk back on the line.
  • 270° Turns -- These can go to the left or to the right and they are confusing! 270 degrees is 3/4 of a circle. It's best to imagine you're on a traffic circle. If you want to go right, you have to turn left three times.
Fortunately, I don't have to remember everything. There are signs along the course. I've looked online and I can buy signs and holders, but they are more than I want to pay right now. Apparently, I'm not the only cheap frugal dog person out there. I found a place where I can download signs for free here. And Marie over at K-9 Dog Training Solutions has DIY rally sign holder instructions here.

We're having a great time walking in circles. I'll share more later. -- K

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bathing Bonus!

Florida winters are crazy. The weather is all over the place. One day it's pushing 80 degrees, and a couple days later the high doesn't get above 40. It's a wonder we don't all have hypothermia.

This waffling weather can be frustrating when you have a stinky dog. Normally, I set the grooming table up outside and bathe Jedi in the back yard. Easy peasy. But sometimes it's just too cold and I have to ask myself "Do I live with a stinky dog or breakdown and pay a groomer?" Well guess what? I found another option!

A new pet store moved into the neighborhood about 6 months ago. I had never heard of Pet Supplies Plus before, but apparently it's a chain. In addition to decent prices and friendly staff, they have self bathing stations! For $10 (plus an additional $5 for Roxy) I got to defunk the dogs nearly stress-free. The store provided everything I needed:
  • Raised bathing tubs with ramps and tethers
  • Shampoo (we had four to choose from) automatically mixed into the water
  • Warm water
  • A waterproof grooming apron
  • Lots of towels
  • And a forced air dryer
All of this is enclosed so the dogs don't get out, but still open so nobody feels claustrophobic. I washed and dried the pups, and the store cleaned up the mess. Best $15 I spent in a long time. -- K

P.S. Jedi put up such a fuss during his bath that everyone had to come see what was going on. Three weeks later we saw the owner at a dog-friendly festival. He remembered Jedi. He also remembered how much hair we left behind after the bath. Yep, we got our money's worth.

This is what it looked like before Jedi

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wordless Sunset

It's February. Some friends are posting Winter Wonderland pics. All I've got is this:


BTW, I'm not complaining. -- K

P.S. It's Wordless Wednesday! Click around below and see what others are sharing today.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Polar Pooch

I always stop in the pet section when shopping at discount stores. You never know what you're going to find. I was at Ross and found the Polar Pooch Cooling Mat for $13.99. A quick search on my cell phone showed that this was $6-$10 less than Amazon, Walmart and PetSmart. Never one to pass up a deal, I bought one! We tried it out multiple times and I'm not impressed.

First of all, I don't know what German shepherd was used for the picture on the box. I read the fine print that stated the mat is 22" by 33". For giggles I put Jedi -- a life-sized German shepherd -- on the it and took a picture. His legs alone took up half the mat.

I had to coax Jedi to lay on the mat with treats. The cover slips and slides. (See the wrinkles in my photo versus the one on the box?) Jedi didn't care for that. Neither did I. I accidentally stepped on it and nearly fell toes over tea kettle.

Finally, it didn't seem to stay that cool. I laid my palm on the mat multiple times throughout the day and didn't notice a difference. I really wanted it to work as advertised so we tried it out over several weekends. I'm disappointed.

Long story short: Jedi and I think the money could have been spent better elsewhere. So, if you see the Polar Pooch Cooling Mat in your favorite store . . . just keep walking. -- K

Monday, February 6, 2017

Awww...Stop to Smell the Flowers

It's been a rough few months and apparently the ways I've been dealing with stress are bad for my health. My doctors have given me all kinds of instructions to remedy this including eat better, take meds, exercise, lose weight, blah, blah, blah . . . It's enough to stress me out even more!

One positive way to exercise and decompress is to take Jedi for a walk. While out last week we came upon a public garden. I thought the flowers were pretty so I snapped this picture (before Jedi could pee on them). His expression cracked me up!


So, did the picture make you smile too? I hope so! It's Awww...Monday, where a group of bloggers come together to brighten the start of your work week. Click around below and see what others are sharing. Thank you Sandee for putting this together each week. Happy Monday! -- K

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mission Accomplished

Jedi and I working on the Front position
When I took over the presidency of my German Shepherd Dog Club 18 months ago I had five goals:
  1. Familiarize everybody with the breed standard, terminology and what makes a GSD
  2. Get out more with our dogs
  3. Energize meetings with door prizes, guest speakers and mini-workshops
  4. Network with other local dog clubs/groups
  5. Reinstate weekly training meetings
I've done OK with the first goal, and really well with the next three. The last one, however, has been difficult. There were quite a few roadblocks.
  • We had a trainer willing to do the classes, but she’s 75 and doesn’t like to drive at night. This means we had to find a training site that was close to her.
  • It was hard to get club members involved. Everyone said they’d like weekly training but very few were willing to look for a location.
  • We had a member with the space on his property, but his home owners insurance said no, despite that fact that our club has a $1 million policy.
  • We approached a couple businesses, but they said no, even though the Club has insurance.
  • We found a few City parks but they were either too far, closed at dusk, poorly lit at night, or prohibited dogs.
  • THEN we had a hard time picking a date/time for weekly training. (And when we finally did people complained about the drive. GRRR.)
But after a year . . . voila. We found a public park with adequate lighting and parking. It has restrooms with flushing (albeit gross) toilets. It’s five minutes off a major freeway and a straight shot on a major road. And we have eight committed members taking classes. I feel good knowing that I'll leave my position in June having accomplished everything I set out to do.

So how's training going? Pretty good! We're only three weeks into it, so . . . Currently we’re working on socialization and basic obedience/rally skills. Our goal is to enter the Rally Novice trials in October. I look forward to sharing Jedi’s progress. Later, -- K

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Barn Hunt, Take 2

Group photo from the NYE workshop
How did you spend New Year’s Eve? Me? I drove 90 minutes to Deland to take a Barn Hunt workshop with Jedi. AND IT WAS AWESOME!

We had taken a workshop before a couple years ago. At the time, K-9 Obedience Club here in Jacksonville was considering offering Barn Hunt. That fizzled out and we never pursued it.

So how did we end up here? Well, back in October I was at a nosework trial. One of the other competitors told me about a training facility in Deland that she really liked. She said it was new and different and lots of fun. I saw they had a workshop coming up and thought "Why not?" Jedi had so much fun at the workshop that I signed him up for another one two weeks later. THEN we signed up for a trial the following day. ("In for a penny, in for a pound," right?)

Jedi totally bombed the first run. He spent the entire three minutes obsessed with a spot on a particular bale. Rules say you can't touch the dog and I couldn't get him to focus on anything else. When time ran out the judge showed us where the rat was hidden. I showed Jedi the rat and praised him with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Truthfully, I was flustered and spent too much time calculating how much money I just wasted.

Our first leg!
Before I knew it we were called up for our second -- and final -- run. We entered the ring and I removed Jedi's collar (rules say dog must "run naked.") I cheerfully told Jedi to "Find the rat." Instead, he went back to the same bale and started licking it. (I'm thinking that a female in heat must have touched it. Damn testicles make him stupid.) In frustration I blew in his face, clapped my hands above his head and used the mommy voice: "Jedi, leave it! Find the rat!" And guess what? He did! I coaxed him to climb on a bale. Then, to my surprise, he crawled through the 18" by 22" tunnel all by himself. We completed the exercise and earned our first leg. Even more surprising, Jedi earned a 3rd place ribbon for his time. How about that?! I'm hooked now and counting the days until we can run again in March.

So, what is Barn Hunt? In a nutshell, it's a new hunting sport where dogs search for rats hidden safely among bales of hay. Dogs are expected to climb and tunnel as well as search. Handlers must be able to read and guide their dogs without touching them. The competition is timed and the difficulty level goes up with each title. (Don't worry, no rats are harmed in this competition. In fact, there are Rat Wranglers in place to make sure rats don't get injured or stressed. Rats are rotated regularly, much like sheep in herding trials.) Want to know more? Check out the official Barn Hunt Association page.

The sport was originally designed for small terriers, but any dog may compete as long as it can fit through an 18 inch by 22 inch tunnel. The tunnel size does not change regardless of the size of the dog. What I like about Dare2Train is that the owners and trainers all have GSDs (as well as the rat wranglers and many of the members). They are able to address some of the challenges and concerns I have (i.e. big dog in a small tunnel). And they all want to have fun with their dogs. Yep, my kind of people! -- K