Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Darby and Patience (by Lisa)

"Wait" is not in his Holiday Vocabulary

H called me about 2 weeks ago to tell me she and Lyric and Echo had a Christmas present for Darby Crash. We love presents, so we ran right down to gather our loot. When presented with a very simple brown box, I asked if we could OPEN IT NOW?!? We were told no, it's a Christmas present, you should wait. Darby and I sighed together and agreed, we would wait. So I put the box in the van and left it there (in the foot well of the front seat). Today (Christmas Eve Day), I loaded up DeeDee and Darby and we went to do a little last minute shopping.

Let it be noted that all of my dogs are very well mannered and trustworthy in vehicles. I travel often with one or all of them, and they never destroy or soil anything (seatbelts, electronic cords, seats, etc). At worse they've gotten into the trash or my training bag and scattered or devoured the contents. Not so today. I had forgotten Darby's obsession with cardboard boxes. Not paper bags, not magazines or newspapers, never blankets or dog beds. But a severe cardboard addiction, starting with chewing a corner until it's soggy, then going wholesale nutso ripping and shredding like a mad-dog until there's nothing but confetti remaining. But I had forgotten, and left the two in the van parked directly on the street in front of the store I was in without a second thought (other than how lucky I was to find a coveted parking spot in a busy shopping area). The alarm was set, the minivan was parked within sight, what could go wrong?

When I was done, I got in the van and put my packages on the passenger seat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that made me do a double-take.

The first thing I thought (and remember, first thoughts don't have to make sense) was "there's a dead monkey in my van????", and then actually turning around and looking closer my second thought was "somebody chewed up a wig???". Then I realized that I have neither a long haired black monkey nor a wig, so those first thoughts couldn't be correct. Then I took a good look at the bigger picture and saw the cardboard carnage, the nibbled/ripped greeting card envelope, and of course the dead monkey wig that I still couldn't identify and was a little hesitant to touch.....

It was about that point that Dee started doing a little prancy-dance and then dove onto the back bench seat to try and look as small and non-guilty as possible, leaving Darby 'holding the bag', or in this case the chewed box.

Maybe he was set up? Maybe Dee wasn't so innocent as she pretended and had arranged for Darby to take the fall? Not a chance. In his guilt Darby flooded me with snuffly face nuzzles and kisses....his muzzle was covered in glitter. A dead monkey wig, with glitter???? What was this mangled furry glittery thing that was liberated from the plain brown box Helen had insisted we wait until Christmas to open? Was this a deranged joke? I gathered up my nerves (a dead monkey wig was still in the top running as a possibility at this point, having no other ideas) and plucked the hairy, spit flecked thing from the floor of the van. It was a toy, a very nice quality wool 'chaser' toy, similar to a fox-tail, but wool. And scary-hideous if you have no idea what it is. I plucked the cardboard shreds and various pieces of tape and other wrappings from it and tucked it safely away in the center console, gathered up the nibbled card and smiled at the greeting from Helen, Lyric and Echo. The card is one of Helen's original Lyric photo Christmas Cards, so it was special from a mom-to-son perspective.

Glitter-lips continued his 3 part apology, further cementing his conviction as the gift shredder. All was well, but I should have known better. If there's ONE THING Darby cannot resist for any length of time, it's a cardboard box left unattended. He has stolen them from the recycle pile in the carport, he's nabbed them from the office, he's liberated them from the barn. No matter the size, no matter that he knows he's not supposed to destroy them, he loves cardboard boxes and they are not safe in his presence. But he's a good boy, and to be fair, it WAS his present. No harm, no foul. Still adorable, of course, which erases all wrong doing and resets the "Angel-O-Meter".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bryn's Hidden Talents(by Marie)

It’s December and I discovered I have a talent!!!!

Gator seems daily to get himself closed in the bathroom. He “oofs” until someone lets him out. Well, I decided I could be a good friend and help. So I pushed on the door with my nose and out he came. He really never even thanked me. I have done it several times in the past few months. Marie just tells me to go “let him out” and I do. Maybe someday he can help me. That’s what friends are for.

It seems like I was on a leash FOREVER!!! Well, at least, most of the summer.

The Lompoc show was fun (lure coursing), but the shoulder injury made me a “house dog”.

Tom or Marie took me for a walk every morning and night. Gator and Soda Pop got to go sometimes, but usually, it was just me.

Poppy sent me a new orange monkey and Marie fixed my old brown monkey. So I have had my old friends to keep me company. Gator seems to know that they are mine and let’s me have them whenever I want. (of course, I ask politely-like barking in his ear!)

I really enjoy hearing of the adventures of Tanner, Darby, Becca, Echo, Lyric, and Whisper.

Good news. I was able to go some shows. One judge was VERY soft spoken. He asked Marie if “I was a courser”. Now how did he guess that was my favorite game.

I did very well in the group(another new term for me) with my new friend, Robyn. She is a junior handler and likes to show me. She thinks I’m a real challenge.

Marie and I went to the Greyhound Club of Northern California Specialty. It was supposed to rain, but didn’t during the show. I got a couple of ribbons and another point for “Winner Bitch”. Everyone seems excited about points. I just want to be a good girl and behave like a show dog should. I’m learning about this new activity in every show .

The other dog in the picture is Soda Pop. He just takes a monkey beating and keeps on licking!!.

I love that guy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Becca "Unleashed" (Donna Arcaro)

On December 11 and 12 the Valley Hills Obedience Club in Southern California held their 2-day obedience/rally trial so Becca and I entered both days in Rally Advanced. In Rally Advanced all exercises are done off leash. At our last trial, Becca ran out of the ring at full greyhound speed after a jump, so needless to say I was alittle nervous. Once a greyhound gets used to leaving the ring when they choose it can be a hard habit to break. I had made a point at practice of calling her immediately after a jump, rewarding and back to heel position. She seemed fine doing this at home, BUT in new territory, it could be a different story.

The first day of the trial was incredibly windy--leaves and debris blowing everywhere--visual and scent distractions all over the place. However she remained focused on me and easily qualified.

The second day it was very calm weather and she was a bit tired from the day before. Once again she was fcoused and working hard. She qualified and earned her RA title!

This is the 4th title she's completed since July of this year--Breed champion, Rally Novice, Beginner Novice and now Advanced Novice. Excellent job, Becca!!! We plan to concentrate now on Novice Obedience training to get ready for competition sometime in the future.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mud Dabbers and Farm Dogs

In between training and competing, my dogs have a fair amount of down time just being dogs and doing whatever interests them.

Recently I had to go down and work on my rental farm, grading roads, clearing culverts and other hard work. The dogs got to run and play their hearts content.

Two full days of working on my avocado farm gave the dogs lots of free time to investigate and run the hills. Birds, coyotes and bobcats were all around.

After the weekend although the work wasn't all done the dogs were through. A tired dog is a happy dog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wow Weekend

Last weekend we went off to an agility trial at my favorite location in Rancho Murietta. It is an indoor covered horse arena that is often cold which helps the dog run faster. In addition to Lyric, I of course, ran Whisper. Although we didn't QQ we had some great runs. The second day she won her jumpers class of 22 dogs with this run. She earned 26 more MACH points and ran it in her fastest time to date. Definitely a fun run.

On the last day she had an equally fabulous Standard run and won her class of 20. She earned another 48 MACH points and ran it in record time. As she likes to jump the dog walk and A frame down contact, I am working hard on getting her to hold until released. This weekend she did! Her jumpers run was great but tight and twisty. We knocked bars which caused an NQ.
She was having a blast running in the cold.

Echo went out tracking one of the days on our down time. She is almost ready to certify and enter a tracking test. A fun weekend for all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Then They Turned 2!

Hard to believe that 2 years ago today, Lyric and Merlin's pups came into the world. Five little spuds and five lives irrevocably changed for the better!

Here they were 2 years ago today.

Here is a current picture taken in October of this year at the Northern California Greyhound Club Fall Specialty.

Happy birthday to Darby, Echo, Tanner, Bryn and Becca! May all your birthday wishes come true!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lyric Runs Agility

As mentioned Lyric earned her third Open Jumpers leg this past weekend. Keep in mind in the video she and I have not run a full agility course in a year. We are not able to read each other as well as Whisper and I. However we pulled it off. Yes I was planning to front cross on the fourth jump but forgot so it was ugly handling but she and I did it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


SBIS Aryal Aroi Stoney Ridge CD TD OAJ RE SC aka Lyric

Lyric has disliked agility since she got injured in a tunnel years ago. Despite everything I have tried she remained indifferent to running agility again. Last year she earned two legs on her Open Jumpers then remembered she disliked agility and tried to leave the ring on her next attempt. So I quit and kept working with Whisper and Echo. Lyric watched them train for months. Although she and I have been working mostly on Open obedience she has been asked to do a few agility jumps. She has seemed willing and eager for her training time. I decided to enter her again this past weekend in agility and see if she was willing to try again. Realizing we haven't run an entire agility sequence in close to a year I didn't have a lot of hope of qualifying, I just wanted to see where she was mentally. Not only did she easily qualify, she won her class, earned her title AND she was happy to be in the ring.
Video to follow

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Whisper's Back

After Whisper's tendon injury she was laid off for a month. We did no agility or real exercise for four weeks. She was leash walked for one week before the agility trial Nov 14. We practiced agility together for the first time 3 days before the trial-and at a lowered jumped height. Needless to say I was nervous jumping her and my handling showed my indecision to push her too fast. Still in her qualifying standard run she was 21 seconds under course time so we weren't that slow.

Although we only qualified one run-the standard run on Nov 14 it was fun being back in the ring again with her. Our jumpers run was a blast but unfortunately I couldn't call her off an incorrect jump. But she obviously was having fun again.

After the weekend she was tired and earned a well deserved rest.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Becca’s New “Boy Toy” (as told by Donna Arcaro)

Over the past several months I have been borrowing another greyhound, Brego, a 5 year old red brindle male, to play with Becca. This was necessary because Shawn, her housemate, is a true greyhound couch potato playing but infrequently. I have become quite attached to Brego as his playfulness, inquisitiveness and temperament blended well into the household. It appeared he was becoming attached to me as well.

At some point I wondered if it would work to permanently add a third greyhound to the household. He is so sweet, affectionate and well behaved. It turns out Brego who had recently finished his breed championship was available to the right home. I was concerned whether both boys Shawn and Brego would live together peacefully. I shouldn't have worried as both boys ignore each other. In fact I think Shawn is relieved to have more couch time as Brego wears Becca out. They seem to play 24/7!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Becca’s Halloween Trick AND Treat (as told by Donna Arcaro)

I am a member of the Pasanita Obedience Club; since our annual obedience/rally trial was during the day on Halloween this year, that meant the members volunteered to do various tasks to get ready for the trial. I volunteered to help with the set up in the park which began at 6:00 AM. I also entered Becca in Rally Advanced and Beginner Novice obedience. When my alarm went off at 4:00 AM that morning, Becca never even pulled her head out from under the pillows to see what was gong on—this is a position she likes to sleep in when she’s very tired. I also felt like putting MY head under the pillow and going back to sleep!! Nevertheless, we got packed up and arrived at the park at about 5:45 AM. We had a great turnout of Club member helpers so we were ready in plenty of time before the trial started; the weather was absolute perfect. The trial started with one of our members singing the National Anthem—she does a most moving rendition that can bring people to tears.

The Trick

We entered the Rally Ring for our attempt at her 2nd qualifying score in Rally Advanced, and things were going pretty well, despite Becca being off leash. However, when we got to the 5th sign which was the bar jump, she sailed over it and continued to sail out of the ring, running flat out as only a Greyhound can run, doing “zoomies” by the ring, with a big smile on her face, fully enjoying her experience. I was in shock as she’s never before even looked like she would run out of a rally ring. If nothing else, some of the spectators were amazed and entertained to see exactly how fast and powerful a Greyhound can actually run. When she started heading back to me, I said “Becca, here” and she came right to me in the ring. The judge said he was sorry and I said the same. Oh well, we brought the entertainment of the day, but obviously that was the end of rally for us that day. More training ahead for both of us!!

The Treat

Many hours later our number was up for entering the Beginner Novice ring which consists of rally and basic obedience. Becca’s “treat” was getting her 3rd Beginner Novice leg, completing her title, with a score of 194 out of a possible 200—I can now add “BN” after her registered name. Yippee!! She’s the first Greyhound in our Club with this title and I believe the first Club member to earn this title since this titling class became effective for competition in July of this year. I was most proud of her!!

So that’s how we spent Halloween—trick AND treat from Becca to me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tanner Stomps

There is a new trend in dog sports and fitness called canine conditioning. It takes all the information we know about human core conditioning as well as yoga and pilates techniques and adapts them for four legs.

One of the first steps you would learn from a canine conditioning coach is to teach your dog a command for "feet up" or to put their front feet on something that you indicate. There is a lot you can do once you get this behavior.

The thing that I am the most interested in is to teach Tanner how to use his back end to maximum effect. At not quite two years old, he tends to be a big goober at times. I think if he is properly conditioned and body-wise, he will be less likely to hurt himself or someone else. Plus, I am a bit of a training geek and wanted to try teaching this behavior.

I didn't get every training session videoed but hopefully enough that you can see the progress.

Here is one of our first sessions. I apologize for cutting off his head (this is what I get when I put the camera on the floor). At least you can see his feet. My criteria at this step was one foot touching the object. I try to give him his treat when his foot is still on the target. This video is a little long about two minutes but you can get the gist of it rather quickly.

Tanner is consistently giving me one foot on the target. My criteria is still to click for one foot but I am feeding him extra for two feet. We also had an issue where he wanted to lay down on the target. I don't know if this is because I had previously taught him to lay down on a different target or because he is lazy. Either way, it is just behavior and can be molded. I give him his treats up, in other words I hold the treat in such a way that he has to stretch up a little bit to get it. I also do not click for laying down on the object and instead ask him to do something else to move him off the target to reset.

In this next video, Tanner is really getting good at Stomp. I haven't added the cue yet. This session took place during a break a training seminar. I was pretty impressed that he was so eager to perform even with the distractions. From this session I can see that the behavior is where I want it to be and we are ready for the cue.

Here we practice with the cue "Stomp".

Now that he has the behavior on cue I switch it up and ask him to "Stomp" a stool. I click for one foot up the first time or two to get him going.

On to bigger and better things! We were taking part in a small canine conditioning class and Tanner got to try out his new behavior on some equipment. The squishy disc reminds me of a Bosu ball. When Tanner gets both of his front feet on it, he has to work to keep everything steady. Because he has such a good reward history with stable things and this behavior, he has no problem trusting me and attempting to do this.

Now he gets to try the peanut ball. This ball is easier than a plain round one because it can only roll in two directions instead of 360 degrees. Eventually, if we work at it, we will work up to the round ball without my need to stabilize it.

What a good boy!

Many of these videos were made at My Dog's Gym in Salem, Oregon and the rest were made in my messy living room.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

High In Trial

Obedience seems so much harder than agility to keep a dog happy and motivated to work. At least in agility the dogs are running and as long as they perform the next obstacle correctly it doesn't matter how they get it done. In obedience it is much more detail oriented. For instance on a recall not only must they come to you briskly, they also must do a correct front and finish. Points are deducted for each little mistake even if the exercise is performed correctly. To teach all of these components and not be demotivating can be a challenge. On a recall if a dog comes in very quickly(good)and does a straight front(good) but does an automatic perfect finish(bad) points are deducted. To correct a dog for this mistake can make a dog not want to come in quickly or give a perfect front. Training for obedience has to be very creative to get what you want with a happy fast working dog.

Whisper is probably the best working greyhound I have ever trained.
We entered the obedience portion of Greyhound Club of Northern California specialty and Whisper earned her second Open leg with a 194 and High In Trial.

Now to try to find our third leg-and title.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Becca's Northern California Adventures (by Donna Arcaro)

Becca and I decided to concentrate on her performance at the shows in Northern California, including the Northern California Greyhound Specialty. So I loaded up the vehicle (mostly with dog accoutrements!!) and headed north. I went up 2 days before our first event as I liked to have my dogs get used to environments that they don't visit often--hopefully to help with ignoring all the distractions and enticing smells. We went to the show grounds, wandered around, did some shopping and did a little training while there. Our first event was Rally Advanced which is entirely off leash (yikes!!). I did not feel like we were really prepared, but thanks to Helen's "persuasion", I had entered. I was most pleased AND surprised with Becca's and my first attempt since she earned her first leg.

I know what we need to work on (the left pivot was a real challenge; we finally went on to the next sign after two attempts. I can only blame myself and not Becca for this due to not much training on pivots.) I was also happy she did not look like she was interested in the leaving the ring. This is a real problem I had with Tess, my first obedience dog--I still remember this from the mid-90s. She would race out of the ring once she knew she was not on a leach. FINALLY was able to break that habit with training at match and people blocking the ring entrance. Also I changed the off leash heeling command to happy "let's go". She did earn her CD.

The next day at the Specialty, we were the only entry in Beginner Novice. I was really hoping for her second leg and I was not disappointed!! There was one part where she was most interested in the ring tape for some strange reason, but overall I was very happy with her performance, especially her recall. I made a handler error on returning to her on the wrong side after I walked the perimeter of the ring with Becca sitting in the middle. Fortunately it was only a few points off--I will NOT make that mistake again!!

It was a most successful, fun weekend for us; it's also always wonderful to see Becca's siblings and owners.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Rally Title

This past weekend was the Greyhound Club of Northern California specialty. All breed shows before and after the specialty gave up to 5 days of showing in obedience, rally, agility, and conformation. I decided to enter Echo in her first performance trials and decided on something easy-Rally Novice. We entered three days of Rally. She did better than I had a right to expect. In preparation for the trials we only managed to attend two Rally classes and never have we trained indoors. Never have I asked her to hold her attention for so long and with such distractions. Some of the signs we had never practiced. The first day of Rally she earned second in her class for her first leg.

The second day the rains came in so Rally was moved indoors. At least it was partially matted. I have never asked my dogs to sit/down on concrete so I was nervous whether she would. Not only did she sit on concrete she won her class of 22. Two legs down and one to go.

Her third leg once again was indoors. At the end of the video the judge came up and told me I had done the first sign incorrectly. Luckily for friends video recording our performances at the end of the class I could replay it and he changed his score. Once again she won her class for her third leg and Rally Novice title. So three shows three legs (two first places and one second place) and a new Rally title. Now she is Ch Aragon Black Ice RN.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cats and Greyhounds

My greyhounds have always lived with cats. Some have been harder than others to learn that cats have rights too. Cats are not to be chased, displaced from where they are sleeping or harassed. In fact they often learn that the quickest way to please me is to ignore the cats. Bacchus my new black cat obviously had never lived with dogs when I adopted him. He didn't want to be on the dogs level. His running away behavior was him causing to be chased. However with time he has learned to be more bold, less fearful. Now he sleeps on the dogs bed whenever he choses-and the dogs will not try to push him off.

However a dog on their bed is not be haressed either.Dogs and cats generally stay in their own bed/spaces.

Many years ago I had a greyhound Merlin who rid my farm of all living small creatures-skunks,feral cats and would try for coyotes, deer you name it. He was the ultimate hunter. I adopted an awesome dogwise adult cat-Sherman. It took Sherman a little while to establish the rules of the house with Merlin and my other greyhounds. However establish them he did. As much as they tried to run him he would sit still, hold his ground and stare at them. If the dogs were eating and he wanted to see what they were eating he would smack them away from the food bowl-and they listened.If they were laying on a bed that he wanted-he climbed up and laid with them-and they learned to accept it.

Many dogs learn to live with cats in the house but outside is a different matter.
Since my cats are generally inside/outside if they choose it is necessary for the dogs to learn to leave them alone outside as well. Odd but the dogs do know their own cats. Mine will still attempt to chase neighborhood cats but are learning to leave their/mine alone.

Sherman and my greyhounds would go for walks with me around the farm, sometimes upwards of a mile. Although the dogs didn't wait for him to catch up to them they knew he was there and didn't attempt to chase him. A tolerate nonreactive adult cat like Sherman makes training the greyhounds to live with cats easy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bowed Tendons

Last weekend while training obedience in the local park I had all three dogs with me working. After working I play ball or frisbee and let each one run for a few minutes. I was just finishing with the last dog Echo letting her run and play when the local police drove up and came out directly to me. Busted for dogs off leash I thought but no they wanted to see what the dogs were doing and wanted to see the greyhounds run. So I took Whisper off leash and did a few Open exercises then let her run. To show off I let Echo off leash too and the two of them went racing around the park. After about three minutes I called them in and Whisper was lame. Of course two weeks before our specialty with one day of obedience and three days of agility for her.

Swelling on the right side of the right leg.

Normal left foot for comparison

Both legs for comparison

She damaged her flexer tendons behind the metacarpal region-an injury called bowed tendons. After weeks of rest she should be okay but no agility next weekend-and maybe no obedience. Just goes to prove if you want to show off-don't.. bad things happen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Well Traveled Man(Dog) by Lisa Stine

Cruddy weather did not plague us any further than Ohio, the weather for the Eastern Specialty was blue skies and sunshine. With over 60 greyhound entries, it was a very long day. We watched Sheila judge the Sweepstakes classes until it was our time to run our first-ever performance class (Rally Novice). There were 3 entries, and with trying to help Sheila with photos of here Sweeps entries I only had time for one very rushed walk through. I was a little shocked to learn there was no course map to study prior to going into the ring. And we were the first entry. No pressure there! No time for much of a warm up, just a little heel, sit, down, heel and our number was called....are you ready? Heck yes we were!! Darby Crash did me proud and scored a 97 out of 100! We got our first leg and a close 2nd place, I was so proud of us!

After a lot of hurry up and wait, we went in for Best of Breed, a class with over 20 dogs entered! Once again the handsome boy did me proud by showing well, doing everything I asked of him and made the first cut!

The competition was really heavy with quite a few very nice hounds showing at their best, unfortunately we did not make the final cut.

The next day was Morris and Essex, one of the largest dog shows in the country. There were over 45 Greyhound entries! Since we didn't really get a second glance from the judge, (I could that possibly be?!?) instead I will provide a glimpse of the hats that were on display at this show.

It seems it's a tradition for everyone, men and women alike, to sport hats (fancy ones) at this event. It wasn't quite the Kentucky Derby, but it was about as close as it gets in New Jersey!

The remaining shows were fairly uneventful. Darby got sick to his stomach on the way to the Hatboro show (the first time on the entire trip), but he was okay the next and thankfully last show day and showed well enough to get Select Dog. 4 days of showing after 5 days of driving is enough to wear any dog out, so we were glad to be done with it all by then and headed straight for Dewey Beach which was only a few hours away.

We visited Sarah and her booths (multiple!) of sculptures. My favorite remained unclaimed/ sold upon our arrival.

We got up wicked early the next day to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic ocean. Keep in mind the sun comes up at 6:40 am, that's 3:40 am our time. Painful but worth it.

And then we turned west and started home.

Virgina and West Virginia were our favorites.

The fall leaves we almost in full color, so we got a few fall portraits at an especially colorful rest-stop in West Virginia.

Onward, westward, home.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Whisper and I earned our first Open obedience leg with a 196 and a first place at an all breed obedience trial(14 dogs in her class). It is our fourth show-and finally our first leg. The first was at our specialty-she didn't drop but otherwise was excellent and was carrying a 198. The second time was two weeks ago and she went down on the sit just as I was back in heel position. It shouldn't have been a fail only points off but the judge thought I might have been moving so she failed us. The third show was the day before-she went down two minutes and fifty seconds into the three minute sit. She was carrying a 196. It is frustrating to be so close to qualifying and have a second here or ten seconds there fail the whole performance. But that is obedience.

In addition to winning her class, she earned High Scoring Breed Champion, High Scoring dog from the A class and High Scoring Hound. Had I signed up for the special agility award(I forgot) she would have earned High Scoring Dog with an Agility title.

Obedience is the basis of good manners and can be so useful. The dogs can be left on a down stay for photos and know they won't break. Echo went along for the day but was bored. She got to practice short heeling sessions and recalls and was excellent. For the distractable puppy that she was she is finally starting to focus on working. Lyric was entered both days as well in Open A but since she just came out of heat I didn't expect much. She forgot to drop all the way on the first day. She thought going down on her elbows with her rear in the air was good enough. Otherwise she was qualifing with a nice score. The next she couldn't manage the retrieve on the flat, otherwise she would have qualified. Hormones in the girls can be a frustrating thing, however Lyric did better than I had hoped.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


After getting a taste of the road with Darby Crash in March when we traveled to Ft. Worth to the GCA Southern Specialty (where he finished his Championship at the tender age of 15months!) it was apparent that he was a dog who loved to travel. He rides easy with no cares: no panting, anxiety, car sickness, etc. He just gets in, lays down and goes to sleep until we stop. Sometimes he'll come up and 'touch' my arm with his nose to ask for the side windows to be rolled down, whereupon he sticks his head out to surf the wind for a bit, and when he's finished he goes back to napping.

He eats meals at rest stops or even on the road, he's comfortable 'doing his business' anywhere at anytime and he's trained to lay down in the back of the van before I'll put his leash on (so he doesn't bolt or crowd the door when I first open it. This has been the most practical and often used obedience lesson he's learned to date!)

When the opportunity to travel to the Eastern presented itself to me the decision was pretty much a no-brainer. Circumstances allowed me the time, H and GM had allowed me the dog; we were going! I tried to keep it a secret from H and GM, until H asked me point blank if I was going and the truth came out. When GM sees the blog, the cat will be completely out of the bag. Sterling Darby Crash will be going to the Eastern to 'represent' for Aragon and Aroi! It's extra special because, as H informed me, no Aragon dog has ever been to the Eastern! Darby is the first.

The trip is long: California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally New Jersey.

We started in California and met our travel partner Cat and Ivana (greyhound) in Reno, from there we drove and drove and drove across the desolation that is Nevada and into Utah. We arrived very very late (a curse on Sacramento traffic that put me back 2 hours almost) in Park City Utah. Three states down, 8 to go!

Day 2 was Wyoming and Nebraska, both open and flat and fairly desolate (although they both have their charms)

At rest stops Darby meets and greets Joe American and family, charming everyone, of course. It's his nature!

We stopped for a potty break at the dinosaur museum in Nebraska and he got to pose with a 30 foot T-Rex (well, the T-Rex's feet)

Day 3 covered all of Nebraska and Iowa.

There's a lot of corn in Iowa, we've decided that Darby's color is officially 'Dilute Corn Brindle', he's practically camouflaged!


Day 4 (getting a little tired of driving at this point) we crossed Illinois, Indiana and Ohio (phwew!) There wasn't a lot of picture taking, we mostly concentrated on driving with the occasional brief potty break.
We got pulled over in Illinois for failing to observe the speed limit (it wasn't our fault, the speed limit changed abruptly and the officer liked our California plates I guess). The officer was really personable and LOVED our dogs so much, we didn't get a ticket! He joked with us and talked about his favorite kind of dog (Neopolitan Mastiffs) and wished us luck at the shows. He cautioned us to be extra careful in Ohio because the police in Ohio aren't as friendly as the ones in Illinois. Well, duh!

And today, day 5, is Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Ivana and Darby are curled up together all warm and snuggly in the van as we drive. It's raining and pretty cold, so needless to say we won't be taking many photos outside the hotel room. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow for the specialty!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Becca and the Dumb Bell Retrieve (by Donna Arcaro)

With my limited experience with teaching the dumb bell retrieve, it seems to me to be a very foreign "thing" to sighthounds in general. I seem to recall someone (I think it was Gail Burnham) who said obedience training is really "interspecies communication" which very aptly describes dumb bell retrieving training.

When Becca was a young pup, I started working with her to "play retrieve" and to hold a small, toy dumb bell. By putting the dumb bell right at her lips with a little pressure against her mouth, then telling her to "take it" she immediately received a treat. She learned if she started reaching for the dumb bell, she was able to get the treat even faster. In the yard, I'd throw a toy, tell her to "take it" and then "Becca, here", again rewarding her with verbal praise and treats if she brought the toy back to me or even in the near vicinity. I repeated these exercises a couple of times in a row and only a very few times a week.

So when Becca and I started our Open class about 8 weeks ago, it was an easy transition to a real dumb bell. Again by using TONS of praise and rewards, the dumbbell retrieve became a fun exercise. I always stopped leaving her wanting more. After she was doing well with reaching for the dumb bell, she was taught to hold it--when the dumb bell was in her mouth, I placed my hand gently around her jaws with the "hold", command, gradually only having to put my hand under her lower jaw to get her to hold it, and then just using a verbal command for this result. Ever so gradually I lowered the height of the dumb bell for her to reach for so it was closer to the ground until one end of it was actually touching the ground while I held the opposite end. Eventually I was putting it further out in front of her, on the ground asking her to take it, and then throwing it out a little further for her to pick up. During these latter steps, she was taught to pick up the dumb bell and turn to walk toward me. I used a LOT of verbal encouragement through all of the above, along with treats. To keep her excited we also played with a toy after each training session.

It's been a lot of fun watching her progress with this exercise. I really believe she has the potential to become a "dumb bell" junkie as sometimes she actually pounces on the dumb bell and races back to me for a treat. To be continued--