Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Agility hits MTV!

The Long Blondes, a 5-piece English indie rock band from Sheffield, just released their new album - Couples. The band is known not just for their music, but also their "glamorous punk" image.

One of the singles from their new album is "Guilt" and guess what the new video features? Yep, agility! We hear it's starting to make the rounds on MTV. Not exactly sure what agility has to do with guilt, oh wait.... :)

Hawks and dogs!

Ever since I can remember there has been quite a few hawks that frequent our neighborhood. Mum has always wondered if they would pose a danger to me, since I'm not that big, you know.

We've seen it circle and circle our yard, swooping lower and lower, sailing on their IQAir, but not once has it tried to get me, luckily!

We were curious about what hawks are really interested in, so we did some research. Here is a great bit of info from another concerned pup owner:

From the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul:
Q: Help! I can't even take my dog outside anymore!

We live in Edina and the red-tailed hawk population seems to have exploded. A while back, I was in the yard with my full-grown but only 4½-pound dog and a very large red-tail passed right over us. I quickly scooped up my little dog and tried to scare the hawk, but it kept slowly circling right above us, just above the treetops.

Later that same day I found half of a rabbit at the end of our driveway, and my husband later found its entrails in the front yard. I feel horrible about this because not only does my dog really miss playing outside, but I was the one who talked my husband into spending $4,000 to fence our back yard, and now we can't even use it without risking our beloved dog's life.

Is there anything we can do?

A: Yes. Let your dog go outdoors. If you're concerned, stay with it. Dr. Terri Derr of Veterinary Behavior Options doesn't believe the hawks are a danger to your pet.

Red-tailed hawks usually hunt and kill animals that are about 50 percent of their own body weight, she explained. This means that a 2-pound hawk (the average size of hawks here) will not try to kill and eat anything bigger than 1 pound.

The hawk's circling behavior is not a sign that it was waiting for a chance to swoop down on your dog -- it just means the bird was looking for something to eat. They do eat small animals, but mice, voles, snakes and carrion are the usual components of their diet.

Hawks will occasionally dive-bomb other animals to drive them out of their territory or to simply practice hunting skills. The behavior is scary, yes, but not life-threatening.

We are seeing more hawks because we're encroaching on their habitat; the ones that survive are those that can tolerate a certain proximity to people. This does not mean the birds are more likely to attack in the presence of a person.

Can small dogs be carried off in front of their owners? Yes. Does it happen often? Not at all. Wild animals seek prey that can be gotten with a minimum of effort. Stealing little dogs away from their owners doesn't fall into that category.

According to Derr, your dog should be safe from red-tailed hawks in a fenced back yard, especially if your dog is just out for a short time. Particularly when it's cold, dogs do not want to sit alone for hours in the yard. They want to go out to eliminate and sniff around; they may chase squirrels or other wildlife, but before long they want to be back with their people. The happiest dogs are those whose people are nearby.

Owls are bigger than red-tailed hawks and so are more of a threat to smaller animals. But because they hunt at night, we rarely see them and so do not perceive them to be as much of a threat.

I'm Tiger Woods, Gracie is Madonna? We'll take it!

Dogster has a new quiz you can take. It's called: What celebrity is your dog?

So we gave it a go! No surprises here, BOL! I'm Tiger Woods!

Tiger Woods
Athletic & Poised

Calm and cool on the outside, feisty and determined on the inside, Johann is everyman athlete Tiger Woods!

Johann proved at an early age that he had the skills to pay the bills, running circles around the competition when he was just a wee whippersnapper. Thanks to his tremendous successes, Johann has set aside an entire wing of his luxurious shelter just to house his collection of trophies and ribbons. A high-class pet with exquisite taste, Johann prefers to be seen with long-legged female mates, preferably those bred from Scandinavian lines. Unwilling to rest on his haunches, Johann has no time to hang out at the 19th hole and pet himself on the back—he's got a lot more green grass to frolic across before throwing in the towel.

What celebrity would your pet be? I'm Tiger Woods! Find out at Dogster.com


And who is my sis, Gracie?

Madonna
American Queen

Go ahead and thank your lucky stars—Gracie is the one and only Madonna!

Always desperately seeking attention, Gracie is multi-talented and savvy, not afraid to get her paws dirty and experiment with new methods of getting into the groove in order to reach her peeps. She commands respect everywhere she goes, a sophisticated traveler who insists upon the best—and more often than not, she gets what she wants. Appearance is everything for your true-blue diva and while her look may change as often as the Pellegrino in her water bowl does, her commitment to exercise is unwavering. Gracie's in tip-top shape, which makes her age in pet years a non-issue. Despite the hard fur and the no-nonsense approach, she's a softy when it comes to her devoted owner. It's fair to say that Gracie is, yes, crazy for you.

Try out the quiz and let us know what celebrity you are!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now we can fly the way we should be flying!

At long last, the Dogtravel Company, the world's first full service travel company for dog lovers, has fur flying! All of their flights, both on-demand first class and business class, provide the safest way for you to fly your pups!

All dogs, regardless of size, will be flying in the cabin of the plane, sitting right next to you! Your dog will never leave your side, well maybe for a few minutes when going through security, but he or she will still be within your line of sight.

No more cargo hold! Imagine that! You no longer have to subject your pup to noxious jet fuel fumes, fluctuating temperatures, changes in air pressure as the pilot has to adjust the pressure in the cargo hold so he or she doesn't have to change it in the main cabin of the plane and make the human passengers uncomfortable.

No more worries about your dog bouncing around in his or her crate, subjected to loud noises, and the dark. They have done their best to eliminate all of this and revolutionize dog travel for dog lovers for ever!

Dogtravel Company is a Members Only Travel Company where you can take advantage of Dogtravel Company's dog-friendly, in-cabin flight service. The company even has a forum so other dog travelers can connect. Here we found one for dog show and competition travelers (including a post about the USDAA Nationals)!

Thanks, Dog Travel Company, you've finally brought us into the 21st century!

Now this is cool!

We came across these today and thought they were sooo cool! They are called Cup-a-Cake cupcake holders and they help protect your cupcakes from getting smooshed!

There are little plastic prongs on the bottom for your cupcake so it keeps the frosting clear of the edges. Now what a great idea!

You know what else they would be great for? Toss and treat dispensers for us pups for our training!

And the site has a bunch of other unusual gifts and stuff.

It's a Brush Buddy!

Wow, lots of mail for us lately. Look what we got, it's a Brush Buddy!

What is a Brush Buddy, you say? Well, it's this really cool towel/massager/cleaner and brush in one.

It has plush terry on one side that can dry you off, and on the other side has thousands of flexible rubber bristles that act as a great brush/massager!

Mum took it to the agility trial a couple of weekends ago when it rained, to try it out. I loved it! Not only did it dry me off, but it cleaned all the mud off, brushed me and I got a nice rub down after my agility runs, which felt great!

Visit the Brush Buddy website for more information, see a cool video of just how easily and fun it works, and pick up one for your pup!

Dogs in yard!

Hey, look what we got in the mail yesterday! It's a neat Dogs in Yard sign. We really wanted one of these and we absolutely love it - it's stylish, friendly, and will look great on our fence gate.

We have a nice fenced in back yard, with two gates. One of the gates is really close to all the utility meters for the house, and sometimes Mum worries that the meter reader will get confused, and open the gate when we are outside. One little slip and it could be very dangerous!

Some of the signs you see at people's homes are those beware of dog signs, but we wanted a sign that was more friendly and didn't imply that the pups in the yard were dangerous, 'cause we aren't! So we asked the nice folks at DogInYard.com to send us one of these really cool signs.

We got the sign in two days, really fast, and we got to order just the color we wanted - they have blue, brown and green. We had the option of choosing 'dog' or 'dogs', and we thought that was pawsome! They ship for free, and only ask for payment via check to be sent after you receive the sign - kind of a good Karma system.

The sign comes with great instructions and even has the little screws we need to put the sign up on the fence (they provide ties for other types of fences). I can't wait to help Mum put it up this weekend. And we really feel it will keep us even safer!

Canine Good Citizen, me?

A lot of people have suggested that I try for the Canine Good Citizen test, so Mum was looking around the Internet to see if this is something that I could, or would be interested in doing. Here are what we found as the requirements:

Overview of the Canine Good Citizen Test
Your dog must appear for the test well groomed. The collar may not be a pinch collar, electric collar, or similar correction collar. You will provide the examiner with a brush to help demonstrate your dog's tolerance for being handled by a stranger. The dog must allow the examiner to brush it and to examine its body. The test also includes the dog sitting calmly while a stranger pets it.
Yep, I could do the brush part, love to be brushed; and I would do well in the grooming and collar area. But sitting calmly for a stranger? Maybe. But my favorite way to greet a stranger is to jump all over them. Hmmmm...well, let's see what else is required.
Your dog must be comfortable with the approach of a friendly stranger. The examiner will approach you and shake hands. Your dog should accept the approach calmly, without shyness or aggression. A friendly dog can fail this by approaching with too much enthusiasm. A polite dog waits for permission before touching a stranger.
Oh, well, this friendly dog can fail this by approaching with too much enthusiasm part, well, they would certainly ding me on that!
Your dog must be able to walk without pulling on its leash. A formal heel is not required. Your dog must be able to walk through a crowd of people. Often the people will be doing all the things people do - opening umbrellas, walking on crutches, swinging a sweater, crossing suddenly in front of the dog. Your dog should not pull at the leash, jump at the people, or show either fear or aggression.
Walk without pulling on a leash, nope, won't happen. And that walking through a crowd of people, well that would just make me want to go say hi to all of them.
The examiner will ask you to have the dog sit and lie down on command. You will be asked to tell the dog to stay, then to step away from the dog, about twenty-five feet or so and call the dog. The dog should stay until called, and come when called. Unlike formal obedience, repeating a command is allowed.
Now I could do this! I have an amazing stay and come! Hmmm...maybe there is hope for me?
An ability to regain self-control after excitement is an important part of the test. The examiner will have you play with the dog briefly then calm it. The dog should calm quickly.
If Mum got me all excited, then asked me to calm down, I could do that. But calm quickly, hmmmm...questionable. Maybe if she put me in a sit stay.
Your dog must allow the approach of person with a strange dog. Typically, the other person will approach with a leashed dog and shake your hand. Showing aggression, fearfulness, or even excessive friendliness is grounds for failure.
Approach of a strange dog...that would most certainly kick in my excessive friendliness gear. I just wanna play!
Your dog must remain calm if you leave it briefly. You will secure the dog to some object as directed by the examiner, and go out of sight of the dog. The dog may move around but it must not whine, bark, pull or otherwise show distress. An important point to note is that the dog is not left alone but is being left under the indirect supervision of a stranger. You should try to interact with the examiner so the dog is aware that you are not abandoning it, but the examiner will not correct or otherwise soothe the dog.
Leave my Mum for three minutes and not whine? And not pull? Guess if she put me in a stay, I wouldn't pull, but the whining that could possibly get me, fur sure.

So there's the rub...no Canine Good Citizen for me maybe until I'm 10 or 11 or so and have calmed down some in my aging years. That's why we do agility. It's something that fits me, works for my temperament, and is something I just love. Obedient, yes, I'm obedient, but I like to be wild and crazy, and I love jumping up on folks when I greet them. Of course all those agility folks love for me to jump all over them anyway, it's part of the fun!

I know some of my blogging buds would pass this in a minute! Please, please tell me I'm not the only one that may not pass this thing! There are other pups out there like me, right?


CANINE GOOD CITIZEN

Pup training!

Mum and I remember my first training class like it was yesterday; even though I was less than a year old. I had learned quite a few things at home - like sit, down, stay and more - and I was good at it. But when Mum took me out in public, all that went out the window.

So she signed me up for a puppy training class. I spent the first two lessons, pulling and trying to play with all the pups and peeps. It was too fun! But I finally got the hang of things, learned quickly and ended the class as the most improved! The dog obedience school was one of the best things that Mum ever did with me. I learned so much and it was a lot of fun.

Now Mum wants to take Gracie to a class, 'bout time, I'd say! She would love it, and it would be a great way for her to learn some 'manners' in public, get some focus , and hopefully help with her agility focus.

There are lots of places to take classes. But we want to be sure it's with a clearly positive trainer, and clicker trainer, because Gracie loves her clicker.

Because of what happened with me in my training, we always tell folks it's a good idea to do some form of training outside of the home around other pups and peeps. It helps a pup learn around lots of distractions and just reinforces all the good stuff you teach at home.

There are lots of places to go for training, all over the country; they even have dog training Toronto style! And it is sooooo much fun!

So, Mum is going to look around and maybe even sign Gracie up for a pup obedience class where I went!

An important reminder or all agility dogs!

This has been posted on a lot of forums and blogs, but we wanted to share the warning too. A very sad and tragic tale with a very important reminder to all agility dogs:

Permission is granted to cross post this message....
I need to share some sad news and a warning with the agility community. Some folks in the Dallas area know Steve Sanders and his wife Sue. Steve has been competing for a while with his Aussie Lucy. His wife Sue regularly came to watch class and brought along their adorable blue merle Aussie puppy Mattie.

The months passed and Mattie was old enough to start classes. They were doing beautifully. Steve and Mattie were stars in their class and showed so much promise. I was really looking forward to see where they'd be in another year or two. Steve retired his older dog Lucy so he could focus on Mattie, who experienced so much joy doing agility. Mattie was a cheerful girl with a sweet personality and wiggly Aussie butt.

Last Thursday, I learned the tragic news. They turned the dogs out into their backyard to potty while getting ready for work. In the yard there is a set of agility equipment. After some time, Sue went to bring the dogs in the house, but Mattie was gone. With help from neighbors, they scoured the area but couldn't find her. When they got back to the house, they noticed that the agility chute in the backyard looked funny. The fabric had been bunched up in the barrel. It was typical chute fabric, not a tarp.

Sue found Mattie's body tangled up in the chute. She had gotten twisted tightly in the fabric and suffocated. They tried to do CPR, but it was too late.

Steve and Sue are devastated by the loss. They asked me to share their story so that another dog doesn't suffer the same fate. Please, tell your friends and students to always supervise their dogs around the chute or put it away when not in use. I have never heard of anything like this before and hopefully never again. I still can't believe Mattie is gone. There will be a big hole in class tomorrow night.

Hugs your pups tonight and be grateful for every moment you have with them.

Elizabeth
www.bestfriendsagility.com
Remember that any equipment needs to be safely secured in the back yard before letting your pup play around it; and we always recommend supervising your pup, you just never know what can happen.

Spring cleaning!

No trial next weekend, so what are we gonna do? We are going to Spring clean, do yard work and have a garage sale. Sounds like a lot of work - yep it is, but we gotta get this stuff done - many trials coming up and no time to get house stuff done.

One of the big things we have to do is dust under and behind all the heavy things, and clean all the blinds in our house. They are dusty! Did I tell you how much Mum loves her blinds? She got them when she first moved into the house. They aren't Hunter Douglas, or Bali Blinds, but they are really nice faux wood blinds, in a slightly off white. They have held up very, very well over the seven years Mum has lived here.

They look great and are still going strong despite the kitties trying to climb them, and even Gracie trying to chew on them. Mum thinks it was a great choice and will definitely get them again if we do decide to move. Blindsaver.com has just the kind of blinds that Mum got.

But I can't wait till the yard work part. I love it when Mum trims the shrubs, works outside so I can hang with her and help her. I love it when she digs in the dirt. And Gracie loves it too. Sometimes she even helps Mum trim the shrubs - yep, you guessed it, she grabs on a limb with her trap like jaws and tugs until that limb is dismembered from the shrub. She loves that!

And we're kind of looking forward to the garage sale. We'll get to meet up with some nice new people, maybe they'll even give us some treats! And the best part is that we can make a little extra money for agility, woo hooo!

Busy weekend ahead, but should be kind of a fun one. Hope the weather holds out for us!

How old is your dog?

Ever wonder just how old your dog is in human years? Or even how old your pawrents are in dog years? Visit my Dog Years Squidoo Lens to find out!

And check out this cool vid. It's a video collection of photos of Bodie, a Labrador puppy, everyday from age 7 weeks to 6 months.

The trials of being uninjured!

This weekend was kind of a tough, but a very exciting USDAA trial for me and Mum. Ahhhh, the trials of dog agility - the trials of being an uninjured dog, for a change!

At the trial a couple of weekends ago, Mum watched me closely, monitored my running and jumping, just to be sure that I didn't show any signs of muscle soreness, or re-injury. I had some great moments of speed, but was mostly slower in many of my runs. I was getting back to running again.

This past weekend was way different. And Mum thinks I am now totally healed, and ready to let loose, be pushed, and run my little heart out, again.

This weekend I had good speed in nearly all of my runs. In a few I even kicked it into fifth gear. Even with 6 runs on Saturday and 4 on Sunday, I still kicked it up. And Mum was happy to see it, and I was happy to be running, well, again.

But with being uninjured and being faster come fun little things like bailed dog walks, off courses, and ambition - mix that with some tricky USDAA courses, loud bonging church bells, 3 red in the front and 7's in the back snooker courses, and what do you get? Yep, not a lot of Q's. But when you get one, it feels sooooo good!

And we got one - 2nd place in Masters Jumpers. Sweet!!!!

I had six runs on Saturday - Pairs, Steeplechase, Grand Prix, Snooker, Gamblers and Standard.
Sunday I had four runs - Snooker, Standard, Gamblers, Jumpers

In Pairs on Saturday, I was paired with a fast pup. They knocked a bar, I took off like a bat out of heck, and missed the turn from the dogwalk into the tunnel, but was really speedy!

In Steeplechase I started sniffing in front of jumps and Mum started getting worried. When I came up to the spread jump, I walked over it, so she told the Judge she thought something was wrong and carried me off course. She walked me, stretched me, iced me down (because sniffing in front of jumps was how I acted when I got injured). But after that I looked OK. So Mum ran me in Grand Prix.

I looked pretty speedy, going well - and just as I made it to the weaves, the Church next door decided to bong their big, loud bells for the first time that weekend- what the heck? Well, I pulled out of the weaves. Then Mum thought we'd have some fun and run like the wind, ended up with two off courses and missed weaves on that one. So No Q.

Snooker - will we ever see a nice snooker course? This one had three reds in the front and the seven at the back again. We were sure we made it through 6 in snooker, but when we looked at the results, nope no six counted. So no Q. Huh?

Then Standard - I was pretty speedy, but back jumped a jump, Mum over rotated a front cross. Silly Mum! I've been thinking maybe she needs to get MP3 players and listen to some music, so she can concentrate more during her course walking!

Off to Gamblers. My opening was good and speedy. The gamble was a tunnel entrance that went way, way out to the weaves, didn't even see them. So no Q, again. Then it was time for Standard.

So we went home on Saturday with just a nice toy, and a sunburn for Mum.

Next day, I was still speedy. Started off with Jumpers, my favorite event. Nice fun run, and ended up with a equally nice 2nd place Q.

Ran Snooker - again, three reds in the front with seven in the back. I got really ambitious and Mum missed a Q - come, instead of here - I took two reds and off the course we went. I did just what Mum told me to do!

Standard was nice, but this was the slow run for the day. Not enough for a Q, a partial second short.

Then Gamblers, had a nice opening, pretty speedy for the last run of the day. Took the teeter in the gamble, good boy! But then it was into the tunnel (with a tunnel, frame discrimination) - Not enough umph after the teeter to get out to the tunnel. So no Q.

There sure weren't a lot of Q's for a lot of our pup friends this weekend either. And a few of our pup friends ended up with injuries - which was very sad - we know what that's like! Must have been something in the air.

But, we had fun, the weather was good, cool and sunny. We were tired when we got home, but after a little rest. I was up and ready for action. Mum gave me my toy to play with and I systematically began destuffing it. Love that!

Then I let Gracie have a go at it, but I kept a close eye on her!

Overall Mum was pretty happy with the weekend. Happy because of my speed throughout the two days. But it felt weird to come away from a trial with only one Q. Not my usual, fur sure! Better luck next time!

Friday, April 25, 2008

What's up?

It's been a really busy week for us at the May Ranch! It's been so busy, we haven't even gotten in any agility practice or hiking this week - even though the weather has been amazing!

But that's OK, we just finished up a big USDAA trial last weekend and have another one this weekend. They are extremely long and tiring days - but fun, nonetheless.

It's actually Mum that's been busy, I'm getting a little bored myself.

Mum's been working with someone to get a new website template create for JohannTheDog.com. We're super psyched. It was inexpensive, we liked her work, Mum didn't have the time to fuss with alternatives, and we'll get just exactly what we want for a look and structure of the site. Once the template is done, Mum is going to use Dreamweaver to finish it up and keep it updated. Hopefully it will be done in a month or two.

We ordered our MAD (Masters Agility Dog) agility title pin the other day and it should arrive in the post box, hopefully today! Then we can add it to our title pin shadow box - we always love that ritual! Now that we're in the higher levels of AKC and USDAA, we don't get many ops to add title pins, so it's pretty doggone special. I get so high when I add my pins, that it's almost like I need drug rehab!

Mum has been working with a new client - a dog toy company that's just starting out, and things are progressing very well. We hope we can share some info about the toy in a couple of months. Big, secret, planning stuff going on right now, shhhhh! But I am super excited to get my hands on one of them to test it out.

Also this week, Mum had an interview with a writer from Pet Age Magazine - it's a trade magazine for pet retailers. They are doing an article on marketing for the August issue, and asked for Mum's opinions and quotes. She can't wait to read it. Also in August an article is expected in Dog Fancy Magazine on helping your pups have a healthier environment utilizing 'green' actions and products. Mum and I were both interviewed for that article, because of our 'green dog' beliefs and blog. That should be really fun and educational.

This week, we got our DAM Team all finalized for the Regionals that will be here in July. There are usually only one or two ops for DAM Team around here the entire year. So we super excited to participate. We'd rather not do it at regionals for our first time, but you gotta take what's there for ya! One of our team mates is a former National Champ in USDAA. We met them at the Indianapolis Humane Society Mutt Strutt a few months before we even started training in gility. And the other team mate is one of the first pups we ever met at an agility trial, even before we were competing. They've both been our good friends from the very start and it will be fun to run with them. Mum and I have been boning up on the rules, 'cause we've never done Team. Looks pretty straight forward, and the three-dog relay sounds super fun!

Mum's been a little concerned because I lost weight (a couple of lbs.) during my muscle pull over the Winter. Two lbs. on a 18 lbs body is a lot. She's been adding a little extra high protein food, 'cause I got down really more than I should. Some of our friends said that I was too skinny at the trial. But Mum thinks what I lost most was some muscle mass that will take some time to build back up.

We're pretty psyched about the trial this weekend. More ops to go after Grand Prix and Steeplechase Q's, more ops for Snooker SQ, and lots of running fun - I think I have 7 runs on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. Wish us luck!

Hope everypup and you're 2-leggers have a great weekend!

It's Arbor Day - time to plant and fertilize a tree!

Today is a great day for us pups - it's Arbor Day!

What's so great about it? Time to plant a tree, lift your leg and fertilize away!

What is Arbor Day? Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April.

Every state has it's own Arbor Day according to the best tree planting times. Today it's our day in Indiana.

What are some cool things you can do for Arbor Day?

Join the Arbor Day Foundation and get 10 free trees!
Join Only Natural Pet Store in the Trees for the Future project and help plant thousands of trees in a number of villages across the world.
Send a free e-card to your best bud!
Learn more about trees, identify, and find out the best ones for your area and planting location!
Get in the know on taking care of your trees!
Pick up some free literature and spread the word.

And, pups? Don't forget to fertilize!

The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Eastern Regionals this weekend in Orlando!

This year the Purina® Incredible Dog Challenge® kicks off its 10th year. And this weekend the Eastern Regionals are being held in Orlando Florida. Check out the results from the Western Regionals, held in March in Austin, Texas.

Each event includes five familiar core events, plus special events—so whether you are watching online or attending the live events, these dogs will keep you on the edge of your seat. The core events for the Incredible Dog Challenge® include: Dog Diving, Freestyle Flying Disc, Agility Competition (small & large dog), Jack Russell Hurdle Racing and Weave Poles.

The Finals will be held at Purina Farms in Grey Summit, Missouri on October 3rd & 4th.

Mark your calendars if you have ESPN2; Here's the broadcast schedule for the Regionals:

Austin, TX & Orlando,FL Regionals
ESPN2
Sunday, July 27th, 2008
2:00pm - 3:00pm

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008
2:00pm - 3:00pm

Sunday, August 10th, 2008
2:00pm - 3:00pm

Sunday, August 16th, 2008
12:00pm - 1:00pm

The 2008 National Finals will air on ABC, Saturday, January 24th, 2009, 2:00pm – 3:00pm Eastern Time

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cars get hotter than you think! Keep us pups safe, spread the word!

It's getting warmer and warmer by the day, finally! But you know what that means, right? Yep, time to watch out for dogs in hot cars.

Be sure and visit my Squidoo Lens - Keeping cool dogs out of hot cars! to learn more and get ideas on how you can spread the word.

An Animal Protection Institute study shows that even moderately warm temperatures outside can quickly lead to deadly temperatures inside a closed car. So be careful K? And help spread the word! Here's what you can do!
Be safe out there!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sparkles - our new friend!

We are super excited - we got an email the other day from Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog!

She's been on a book tour in Chicago lately. Here she is helping children from the Catherine Cook School practice how to get down to crawl out of a smoke-filled building. (Tribune photo by Michael Tercha / April 16, 2008)

Here's the email:
Hi Johann!

I was surfing around and found your blog this morning. I was really excited that you liked the story in the Chicago Tribune yesterday! My mom and I hope that that our new book will help promote fire safety and keep children and their caregivers safe : )

Tomorrow we have a book signing in Lisle and we are really excited. Then we head back to Arkansas. We have had such a great time in Chicago!

If you get a chance, check out my website and my mom's blog. We've had a lot of fun promoting our book : )

Later today, mom is going to add your blog to my blog. Sound cool? Is it okay if we use your picture?

Take care and I can't wait for mom to read your blog to me today : )

Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog
You do great work Sparkles, keep it up and keep us posted...we'd love to hear what you've been up to.

Hey, I wonder if they use Chevy grilles on those fire trucks?

It's Earth Day! Time to celebrate the earth!


Learn more about how you can celebrate Earth Day with your pup, and help the environment!

Trial recap!

Our first USDAA trial of the season for us is history.

We came away with four Q's and a nice little toy for our efforts.

Our goal for the trial was to work on getting my confidence back after my injury. That goal was somewhat accomplished. 2nd Goal was to get that last Standard Q for our MAD and we got it! Woo Hoo!

Next goal was to qualify in at least Steeplechase or Grand Prix so that we could have some fun and enter the Regionals that will be here in July. We got the Grand Prix Q, but just missed Steeplechase by 19 100ths of a second, oh so close! We have another opportunity to work for the Steeplechase next weekend.

Fourth goal was to try to get our first Super Q. We didn't get that, fur sure, although we picked up our 6th Q - nasty snooker courses this weekend.

Saturday was really, really wet, rained on and off all day, and the temp was cool. I love that kind of weather. But it made for some difficult chute maneuvers. Really messed up my Saturday Gamblers run, because I got caught in the wet chute. Thankfully they held it up for the rest of the runs on Saturday a few inches.

Sunday weather wasn't too bad, mostly cloudy and about 60 degrees. Just my kind of weather. We ran an incredibly speedy pairs run and got us a nice Q. And we picked up a Q in Snooker.

Overall it wasn't a bad trial for us. I had some really good moments, and some really bad moments. Mum was starting to get worried in some of my runs because I started sniffing in front of jumps again - that was the sign I was injured last time. She got me a chiro adjustment after the trial was over on site and wouldn't you know my pelvis was really out of whack. But it was better to get it after the trial so I could rest after the adjustment yesterday.

Here were our runs for the weekend:

Saturday - Gamblers (NQ), Standard (Q-3rd place), Steeplechase (NQ), Snooker (NQ), Jumpers (NQ).

Sunday - Pairs (Q-4th place), Standard (NQ), GrandPrix (Q), Snooker (Q), Jumpers (NQ)

I loved the standard courses for the weekend - no AKC-like discriminations, nice open spaces at times, good flow. Here's the one I qualified on for my MAD.


The snooker courses (you can click them to enlarge) were nasty, no real ways to get a flow going with high numbers; and unless you were a super sonic dog, you really had no way of even getting close to a Super Q.

Jumpers weren't too bad for me, but nasty for big dogs; jumpers were at the ends of the days after we had been there for about 8 hours - so I wasn't up to really running fast by that time.


Gamblers on Saturday (the only one) was potentially doable, but after the chute incident I kind of freaked out and lost my focus. Grand Prix course was pretty nice for us. Steeplechase had some really nasty tunnel entrance discriminations that kicked out a lot of dogs. I ran clean, but needed that 19 100ths of a second more.

Here's the one vid we got from the weekend of my Standard Q for my MAD. Not speedy, but good enough for the Q.
Our goals for next weekend are to continue to build my confidence and get my speed back to where it was before my injury. I showed some of that this weekend at times, so we're getting closer, it's just taking some time. We'd love next weekend to get a Steeplechase Q and maybe even another Grand Prix Q; we'll shoot again for another Super Q and hope for the best.

Here's our status on our road to ADCH...

5 Standard - got three (need 2)
5 Jumpers - got 6 (mission accomplished)
5 Gamblers - got 2 - (need 3)
5 Snooker - got 6 (need 3 SQ's)
5 Pairs - got 2 (need 3)
Grand Prix - 3 (mission accomplished)
Steeplechase - 2 (mission accomplished)
DAM Team - Got 0 (need 1 - entered in July)

Mum worked a lot with Gracie between my runs, (doing touch, look, sits and down and other trick near the ring while other dogs were running. Gracie did pretty well...she got worked up a few times, but the nice thing is she turned to Mum for help when she did that. That's kind of new for her and good! Mum would have loved to run Gracie, but they have to stick with their plan to really get Gracie to focus at her next competition. One run off in the ring would have set them back months.

If Gracie would take off the in the ring we'd probably have to contact a mover NYC to get her back, BOL!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm a MAD dog!

Woo, hoo! I got my Masters Agility Dog title today with a pretty nice Standard run and Third Place! All my other runs pretty much stunk, but I pulled it out for the one we needed...more trial tomorrow, more info to come then. We're beat!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Earthquake!

We had an earthquake and and aftershocks here in Indiana today. The main quake hit just before 5:37 a.m. EST and was centered six miles from West Salem, Ill. That's about 190 miles from where we live.

We usually get up at 5:00 AM, but we slept in until about 5:45 AM this morning. Mum didn't feel a thing during the quake; and I, nor Gracie or the kitties, made any fuss. So we didn't know anything happened. We worked until about 11:00 or so, Mum had a really long conference call this morning and was exhausted. So after her call we took a little power nap in bed with Mum. Just a few minutes after we all settled in, the bed started shaking and shaking.

Mum looked around, 'cause she thought Gracie or the kitties had jumped up on the bed and all of us where running around, but all she saw was me and Gracie lying there peacefully. We thought she got up and moved around. Then Mum said, "Hey, I think that was an earthquake!" And sure enough it was, an aftershock at 4.6 from this morning's earlier quake of 5.2.

As you may expect earthquakes are a rare occasion in Indiana. Mum only remembers feeling one once before in about 1988, when she lived in downtown Indianapolis. So we all thought it was kind of cool!

Aftershocks are expected for the next several days. I just hope there's not a big one during one of my runs this weekend at the agility trial, BOL!!!

Contrary to popular belief, we didn't feel it coming and we didn't warn Mum. Maybe it was because we didn't feel any danger approaching - a measly 5.2 from 190 miles away doesn't feel dangerous to me. Maybe if we were in the epicenter I would have warned Mum, who's to say?

More hiking!

It's so great having nice weather again. Mum loves it, I love it, Gracie loves it - so we went hiking again, yesterday.

And we got to experience something new. We rode in the back seat of the Rover! Mum never lets us do this, but the park where we started our hike is only about 1/2 mile away from home, and there is very little traffic. Mum drove 20 miles an hour on the road to get there, because she was nervous about us being loose in the car, she is so funny!

We got there and left the Rover parked in the lot. Mum put on her hiking shoes and then ventured down the path to the river. It's the White River.

According to Wikipedia: The White River is a two-forked river that flows through central and southern Indiana and is the main tributary to the Wabash River. The west fork is the longest fork of the river. It starts in rural Winchester in Randolph County, winds through Muncie, Anderson and Indianapolis before joining the east fork in the triad of Daviess, Knox and Pike Counties.

The combined White River then flows another 72 kilometers (45 miles) before draining into the Wabash river at the Indiana-Illinois border next to Mount Carmel, Illinois.

In 1997, the White River was listed as one of the United States' most threatened rivers. (So we don't get to go in it). Pesticides (herbicides and insecticides) are used extensively in the White River basin. Application of herbicides to corn and soybeans accounts for most of the use. Very sad...

After checking some pee mails, we walked down the path to the river. We could hardly wait to get there (like we can hardly wait to get anywhere, BOL). When we got to the river, Mum made us sit for a little pic. But we were so anxious, we were hardly paying any attention to her.

Then it was off for our hike in the woods. Mum giggles sometimes because we like the woods just as much as she does. The smells, sometimes good, sometimes bad, yuck! But the smell of the earth yesterday was just amazing.

We walked for a while, then I stopped dead in my tracks. A squirrel, oh my dog! I really wanted that little wacky thing. And Mum had a hard time getting my mind off of it. I yelped, I screamed, I barked, I pulled...I wanted it and I wanted it bad! So Mum let us go up to the tree and investigate a little. Couldn't find the little guy. So we moved on.

We stayed mainly on the little path that's been created by others walking down there. We saw some really cool wildflowers in bloom. (You can see them on the vid.) We saw some Johnny Jumpup's, wild violas, and more!

We stopped a couple of times to appreciate the water, and then we kept on the path until some downed trees wouldn't let us go any further. Then we headed back on the same trail. Until we got about 2/3 of the way back and Mum wanted me to get in a little hill climbing, good workout for my backend. Mum had to tell me easy a few times so I wouldn't pull her down, come on Mum!

As we reached the top of the hill, which comes out at the walking path lining the woods, we saw two off leash chocolate Labs coming very near us. So Mum picked me up, we don't need any encounters.

The people with the pups started yelling at Mum to move when the one of the Labs started smelling Gracie's butt. Well, that was kind of difficult with me in her arms and Gracie pulling on lead. Finally they hooked up their pups and we both went our separate ways. Mum looked back and what did the folks do when they got further down the path? Yep, unhooked their pups.

Now, what if we had been little kids? Those nice, but extremely huge Labs where big enough to knock anyone down the 40 foot hill. It can be very dangerous! Silly humans. (Guess, Mum got her pay back for letting me off lead the other day, huh?)

After that we walked on the path for a while, we headed back to the car, dropped off our poo, got some water and headed home.

What a fun, fun day! Hope you all have a great weekend!


Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog on tour to promote new book!

We thought this was so cool from the Chicago Tribune yesterday:

Sparkles, a Dalmatian used by her Arkansas firefighter owner, Dayna Hilton, to educate children about fire safety, performs tricks Wednesday for about 20 2nd-graders from Old Town's Catherine Cook School at the Chicago Fire Department's Survive Alive House, 1010 S. Clinton Ave.

Hilton, a firefighter in Clarksville, Arkansas, is on a promotional tour for her new book, "Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog," which teaches children how to prevent and escape a house fire. (Tribune photos by Michael Tercha / April 16, 2008)

Way to go Sparkles! The work of a dog is never done.

Agility practice on Wednesday!

The weather this week has been just amazing! 70s and sunny. 'Bout time!

So what did we do? On Wednesday, we went to agility practice at our trainers house in the country. It was kind of windy at the start of our practice so we kept off the dog walk.

Gracie started first and worked on some serpentines, and a kind of nasty weave entrance. She did pretty well. She was even in the jumpers ring, which we don't practice in very much and it can be kind of a distraction, but Mum was happy with her enthusiasm, attention, and focus.

Gracie and Mum worked on a longer sequence with Gracie, and Mum was super happy she focused on the entire run, even with weaves at the end (which she made by the way). Good girl, Gracie!

Gracie only worked about 15 minutes of our hour private. Because our trainer wanted me to work on some Gambles. For those of you who don't know about gambles, it is an event that we will face in our USDAA trial this coming weekend.

Gambles are fun, and challenging. Mum has to plot a course for the alloted time (it's all about strategy and accumulating points for certain obstacles), then when the buzzer sounds, Mum directs me into a set part of the course from a distance. She can't cross a line, but still has to direct me through a small numbered part of the course. Sometimes the obstacles in the gamble part can be 20 or so feet away, which is where the big challenge comes in.

We worked on four or five gambles. Two of them included going into a tunnel and then Mum directing me to the next obstacles after - we find this to be the most difficult, because I can't see Mum until I get out of the tunnel. So knowing where to go is even more difficult. But I did pretty well. Got all of the gambles right (even one with a difficult weave entrance, 15 feet away from Mum), except one. But we practiced it a few times until I got it.

A lot of people dread the gamble, but Mum and I kind of like it, especially now that I'm getting better at them, BOL!

We also practiced on tighter turns on jumps, trusting me on certain obstacles, and Mum cueing me earlier. All things we needed.

So we head off tomorrow morning for the first USDAA trial of the year for us. I had to miss the one in January because of my injury. We're entered in everything, including Steeplechase and Grand Prix. Mum's goal for me this weekend is for me not to be so cautious, which is slowing me down. We're just gonna go for it! We do hope that we get at least one standard Q, that will get us our Masters Agility Dog title. Wish us luck!