Monday, November 22, 2010

The Red-Headed Stepchild

It appears the Cardi clan will soon have a new "step-sister," and I'm afraid she's going to be a fluffy:

Introducing... Anna! What the hell am I doing with a Collie? Funny you should ask.

I have a friend and co-worker who has been looking for another show-potential Collie bitch, as the first one she purchased didn't quite make it. In discussing what she was looking for with one breeder, the breeder said she'd like a guarantee that the puppy would in fact be shown and a good effort made to finish it. My friend, who is older and on a limited income, was honest and said that she could not guarantee that, as she herself is not really able to run a dog around the ring, and a professional handler was not in the budget.


Has your mouth ever up and said stuff without swinging by your brain to say "howdy" first? Just me? Okay, then. Anyway, my mouth up and offered to co-own the puppy with my friend and show it, for a puppy back when she breeds her. (And by "puppy back" I mean the proceeds therefrom, because seriously, I do NOT need a Collie.)

I guess that means that, between now and when Anna comes of show age, I have a LOT to learn about show-grooming a Collie. And I need to find some handling classes and figure out the transport to and from, and there will need to be some overnight visits so we're well-acquainted come show time, and there's a whole new set of people and politics and unwritten rules that I need to learn, and...

Damn, my mouth gets me in a lot of trouble.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on?

Yeah, so, all evidence to the contrary, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Just having a lot of things that suck right now, and I tend to go quiet when that happens. I'm working on plans for things to be less sucky, though.

The dogs, however, do not suck. They keep me sane. Or, you know, less crazy than I would be otherwise. Cardigans = better than Prozac.

I took the boys to the Springfield shows in October. (Elli came along for the ride.) I showed Magnum on the Friday and Sunday for another Reserve and another major Reserve; Ian took the major Reserve on Saturday. Magnum is showing this weekend at Fitchburg and in two weeks back in Springfield. After that, I will likely be laying him off for a while; he's at That Age and the fuglies are fast approaching. I doubt I'll meet the desired goal of finishing him before he's a year old, but I can't wait to see how he morphs from a tubey, leggy, gangly puppy into a gorgeous, charming grown-up.

All of my protests aside, I would really like to get those last two points on Ian, so I may drag him back into the show ring while Magnum is on hiatus to see if he can finally pick them up. I don't know if that makes me stubborn or just plain stupid. :-/

Elli is now attending a Sunday agility practice in addition to her weekly class. The Sunday practice is great because it's held in a horse arena and there is space to set up a full-sized course, unlike at class. Consequently she's improving a lot on coursing as opposed to just working specific objects and skills. I still feel like she's a little "handler-capped", but Thom assures me that if I can't/don't want to try and title her myself, he will handle her to a title for me. Yay Thom!!

However, Elli may be taking a little time-out for motherhood duties, because I've about 80% decided to breed her when she comes back into season, probably in February. If I do, the sire will be Fudge (CH Trudytales About Last Night, ROMS). He has -- and produces -- many of the things that I'd like to improve on Elli. He has also produced well with both her mother and her grandmother, and I'm pretty excited to see what may come of it. It will be an all-black litter, and irregardless of whether I get a conformation super-star out of it, I DO expect sound, athletic, drivey puppies. If all falls into place, I should have puppies ready to go to their new homes in June.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saving the Cute for Last


Apparently I hadn't dumped the camera for a while, as this is a much littler Magnum flopped in my lap. Yes, those are frogs on my pajamas. Yes, they're purple. Yes, they're wearing nightcaps. No, I don't know either. My mother bought them for me. Don't judge.

Can you even stand the widdle paw under his widdle face?

This is what happens when you leave both the camera and your mother unattended in the hotel room. Clearly Magnum was stressed and traumatized by his first dog show/hotel experience.

So, you know how, when kids are little, they can be uber-embarassing? And you find yourself praying for the day when childhood turns to adolescence, when suddenly the tables turn, and your children suffer profound mortification just by virtue of the fact that they HAVE parents?

Yeah, that doesn't so much work for dogs. But if it did, behold Exhibit Number One in the blackmailing of Magnum:

Yes, I'm going to hell.

Pool Time Antics

So it's not the Ritz-Carlton of dogdom. More like the Motel 6 version. But at least the dogs have a pool to jump in and cool off.

Three corgis, one Kong. You do the math.

Magnum may have the pool to himself, but Ian still has the Kong. And, also: Can I take a kiddie pool into the show ring to self-stack my dog?

Screw apples. We bob for Kongs.

"Ugh! That water is WET!!"

Instant Crazy -- just add water! Psycho Magnum, turning on the Manson lamps.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand, they're off!

How to have a good roll

Ah, the things you find when you finally dump the contents of your camera's memory card...

How to have a good roll in the grass:

First, you drop the Kong and throw yourself onto your side;

Then you drive the top of your head into the ground and arch your back as much as you can;

Then you roll the other way -- and notice the silly person sitting on the ground and pointing the camera at you.

After that, you right yourself and feel somewhat sheepish that your antics were caught on film/digital media.

Finally, you gather your dignity about you like a cloak and gaze intently at the woodline, pretending to guard the yard from the predations of squirrels and wild turkeys.

Photos from Macungie

Beauty treatment, dog show style

Kathy Schwabe's Morgan, looking very dignified and stoic. The watermelon on top of Ella's crate was well-travelled and, alas, was not destined to be eaten at Saturday's luncheon either.

Uno, wondering why Tiffany is messing with his tail

Magnum, waiting for his turn at the spa. That's Kate's Ella on top, focusing her cyborg eye on Uno with laser precision. Ah, blue love, forbidden love.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Majors and x-rays and training, oh my!

Magnum and I had a terrific weekend in Macungie, PA. Gorgeous weather and great friends. The park made for a nice show site (though the parking was a little cramped), and there were way more vendors than I expected (shopping!!). Best of all, Magnum picked up his second major, as well as another major Reserve. I am psyched that he is doing so well from the 6-9 month class. His next set of shows will be in Springfield in October, where he will graduate from kindergarten and move up to the 9-12 month class, that weekend marking his 9-month birthday. Go, little blue man!!

Also in October, Elli and Magnum will be headed to Dr. Davis in Augusta, ME, for hip x-rays. Dr. Davis has been recommended to me by several breeders, and I am delighted to find that he does not anesthetize to do the films. Fingers crossed that all goes well and that I have four nice-looking hips.

Aaaaaaaand, pending those results, I may have spring litter plans to announce. Stay tuned!!

As for training, I need to set some goals for everyone. Ian is the easiest: he will be shown one more time in conformation this October, and then, regardless of the outcome, he will go in for the Big Snip. I love him to death, but I have no plans to breed him, and I don't want to chance a whoops between him and his sister. I will schedule that for this winter. In the meantime, I need to get him out and practice practice practice his Open obedience exercises. He earned one CDX leg last November (we won't talk about his score), and I would like to enter him at the Thanksgiving shows again this year to see if we can pick up another. I'd love it if he picked up both, but hey, let's not get crazy here. When and if he finishes his CDX, I hope to find someone local to help me start training him for tracking. I don't think he's going to have what it takes to make it through Utility, much as I would love to complete a UD on someone so that I can work toward the qualifications for becoming an AKC obedience judge.

Which leads into training plans for Elli. I really want to see her earn an AKC agility title. I know she has the ability, in spades. I'm not so sure that I have it, however. My trainer has offered to work with her and put the title on her when he starts attending AKC trials with his Aussie, so I may consider that if I don't feel my own skills have come up to snuff. I feel like the poor dog is "handler-capped." Either way, trialing will wait until after motherhood duties, assuming that I'm going to proceed with a breeding.

I also have high hopes for Elli in the obedience ring. We have not done much formal training since we've been focused on agility with her, but unlike her brother, Elli WANTS to work. Even in her basic puppy obedience class she showed much greater focus and precision that Ian. I think she has great potential if I don't screw her up, and she DOES have the ability to earn a UD. Time to start working on heeling and stays!

And Magnum: For now, the blue boy gets to play the "dumb breed dog" for a while, meaning we'll hold off on formal obedience training until after he finishes his championship. If the stars align and he finishes out of the puppy classes, then we'll start training after that, with an eye toward maybe a CD while he matures into what I hope will be a Specials dog down the line. With his outgoing and goofy personality, he has great potential to be Highly Entertaining in the obedience ring, so keep an eye out for his version of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, coming to a ring gate near you next summer or fall.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fool's Gold

I grew up with Golden Retrievers. My first introduction to the breed were Ginger and Holly, who belonged to a wonderful lady by the name of Maxine. Every day we saw her walk her two golden dogs, both of whom heeled well, happily accepted pets from strangers and children, wagged their tails at other dogs, and would walk easily even with a little kid holding the leash. Of course, these dogs were both UD and TDX dogs, but that meant nothing to me then.

The first Golden our family owned was Ryan. Ryan did not heel well; he was the original poster child for the bouncing-off-the-wall style of Golden. But he was friendly with everyone, and the only dog he ever had a tiff with was the Chihuahua-Terrier mix that we owned. I suspect it had far more to do with the mix's temperament than Ryan's. Ryan did actually earn a CD, even had a high-in-trial, I believe, but he never really did calm down. Still, he was a big old love of a thing.

Then came Chance, who was both innately more obedient and better-trained, my mom having cut her teeth, so to speak, on Ryan. A little softer than Ryan, Chance was friendly with people and dogs. She earned a CDX and a TD, and had that lovely Golden temperament.

Our next Golden arrived from the Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue. Roxy was an adult when she came to live with us, and despite whatever her former circumstances were, she again was lovely with people and dogs. Competitive obedience proved not to so much be her thing, not because she wasn't smart, but because she clearly prefered to play with her toys and lie across my dad's lap in his recliner. She would even take her front paw and softly pet his face. She was just a lovely family dog.

The fourth and final Golden was Jinx, so named for the minor fender bender Mom and Maxine had in the process of picking her up from the airport. Jinx was softer than the other three, and a little timid. She was socialized enough that she could go to shows and not have an issue with people or dogs, and she earned her CDX. She was shy around children, especially those who wanted to rush up to her on the street, but she was not aggressive. Not quite the "Golden" temperament, but a decent dog.

Unfortunately, my experience with the breed of late is a far cry from the dogs I knew in the past. I wrote of my experience earlier in the year when Elli was rushed by a Golden while we were out for our walk. This dog came flying out of its yard and crossed the street to go after Elli, who was leashed and on a public sidewalk. The Golden was not leashed and clearly not under voice control, and had no reason to come after us, as we were not even on its property. My only explanation is that it was clearly dog aggressive.

And then there was last night. There were four dogs at agility class: Elli; Pip, a Border Collie; Rosie, a Parson Russell Terrier; and Daisy, a Golden Retriever whom I hadn't seen at Thom's before. Thom had set up two sets of weave poles, one on either side of the room, and had us split up to practice on them, the taller dogs on one side and the shorter dogs on the other. Elli and Rosie were alternating turns on our set of weaves, and as Elli took a pass through, the Golden rushed her from the other side of the room.

This was not a Golden who wanted to play. She chased Elli, tried to go after her, and didn't ease up even when Elli cowered down and yelped. Thom was able to grab Elli up and away from the Golden before I could, and before the woman who owned the Golden managed to come and grab her dog.

Fortunately, Elli was able to get back down and go back to the weaves, so hopefully this won't become an issue for her on that particular piece of equipment.

But, WTF?

So: Dear Golden Retrievers of the World: I am very, very sorry that the puppy millers and backyard breeders have given you bad hips, sent cancer running rampant through your breed, and destroyed the lovely temperaments that you used to be known for. However, my corgi is not responsible for any of that, so please stop attacking her. By all means, feel free to bite said puppy millers and backyard breeders. They deserve it.

And, Dear Owners of Dog-Aggressive Dogs of the World: When you are working your dog in a room where multiple dogs are working, please do not take your aggressive dog off leash. It's dangerous, it's irresponsible, and it's rude. The next time your dog comes after mine, I will kick it in the head. Hard. And then I will kick YOUR dim-witted ass.

That is all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My hubby is awesome!

...because, among many other reasons, he built me this equipment rack to house all of my dog equipment:

No more shuffling things all over the garage. No more pawing through stacks of things to find what I want. No more tripping over this or that while trying to reach over a three foot high stack of other crap. Now I can just back the car up to the garage door, grab what I need out of the rack, and pack it in. Heaven!!
Even better? Knowing everything has a spot when I come home from a weekend of shows, so it will all be ready to go the next time I need it.
Hubbies rock!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I think he has a toy fetish.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New visuals of the Mag-Man

For once, I actually remembered to take my camera to handling class (I know, right?), which was fortuitous, since I was the only one who showed up. My friend and instructor Donna played paparazzi to get some shots of Magnum, photo and video. Here is Himself, at 7 and a half months.

And, links to the videos on Youtube, since Blogger is apparently going to take roughly 523.87 years to load and embed the video in the post.

This is what Magnum thinks of all the red carpet treatment:

Friday, September 3, 2010

More brags on Magnum

Just checked Joanna's blog, and apparently I don't brag fast enough, so allow me to rectify that right now. :-)

Magnum went WD/BOW/BOS yesterday for two points to add to the 3-point major he has. He picked up another Reserve today, so that's two wins and two Reserves in 5 shows. Not bad for a guy who's only 7 months old!

Magnum also received an invitation from Paula O'Donnell to be my Plus One at her gathering later this month (or maybe I'm his Plus One. Hmm.) I hope to have her go over him and give me her opinion. I know she's tough on dogs so I'll be shaking in my shoes, but I'm pleased as punch with him right now.

A humongous thanks to Joanna for letting me run away with this Magnum-ificent blue boy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hamster on wheel = My brain

So, I finally sat and watched some of the DVDs from Nationals this past weekend, including the Am. Bred class that Elli was in. I rarely get to see how my dogs are moving, being on the other end of the leash and all, so this allowed me to see what she looks like in the ring.

And now, I'm majorly stressing myself out.

What I know: I don't like her front movement. What I don't know: What is throwing it off. Shoulder layback (or lack of same)? Short upper arm? Round rib cage that pushes the elbows out? I'm enough of a newb that I can't say for certain where exactly the problem lies. I'll be taking her along for the ride when I go to Macungie and will have an experienced breeder look at her there. I've also sent photos and video (and will be trying to take better video) to another breeder to see if she can share any insight with me.

But these questions lead to larger ones for me. I know there is no such thing as a perfect dog, and all of them will have some fault or another. My biggest question is where to draw the line when it comes to breeding? I mean, obviously I would look for a dog who would be most likely to correct her faults without introducing new ones that I don't already have. But there has to be a point where you say I'm not going to try to correct all this; let's go a different way.

I just don't know where that point is. My little hamster-in-the-wheel brain keeps spinning and spinning. Do I breed her? To this dog or that dog? Can I realistically expect to improve on her? Will anyone buy one of the puppies? Will other exhibitors point and say, "Look at her, she bred that bitch that she couldn't even put points on!" And yeah, what other people are going to say and a collection of ribbons (or lack thereof) shouldn't be the driving force behind my decision making, and it isn't, but I know how the dog show world works well enough to know that there may be at least some of that.

Or, if I decide not to breed her, where do I go from here? Buy another bitch puppy from a promising litter? Look to buy an older puppy so I have a better idea of what I'm getting? Lease a bitch? Pay for the stud-fee and co-breed a litter with someone who has a bitch I like? Wait to see how Magnum turns out and hope that someone wants to breed to him and take a puppy back? And if I do that, do I try to title Elli in agility myself, or place her in a performance home with someone who is way better at or more committed to agility and herding than I am?

I know, I know, we all have to start somewhere. Most people don't start with a Nationals-winning bitch, and I don't expect to be the exception. But I DO take breeding seriously, and I want to make sure I'm doing it in a way that produces sound, healthy, quality dogs, and in a way that is up front and can be respected by my peers. That's the only way to build a solid foundation for the future.

*spin spin spin whirl whirl whirl*

Gah! Thoughts? Comments? Observations? Am I just being a total spaz who needs to calm the eff down and stop worrying and over-analyzing everything to death? Someone throw me a bone!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I am a slave to technology. And, O.M.F.G.!

And... scene: We open on a rustic [No -- like, seriously rustic] log cabin, nestled amongst the pines on a Maine pond. A big stone chimney juts out of the rooftop, hinting at the grand hearth below. A screen porch overhangs the water, giving a panoramic view of [the tree branches that occlude] the water. Spiders [who escaped from the movie 8-LEGGED FREAKS] spin their webs under the eaves, angling for unwary mosquitos and deerflies and small children and moose. Eagles are flying. Songbirds are singing. Squirrels are haranguing everyone from their treetop perches. Bullfrogs are... um, bullfrogging.

Suddenly, the peaceful landscape is shattered by a blood-curdling scream: "I HAVE NO WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS!!!!!!!!"

So, yeah. That was my week-long vacation. In a cabin. In Washington County, Maine. With no TV (and y'all KNOW how I feel about THAT) and no internet. Then what is there to do in Washington County, Maine, you might ask? Nothing, that's what.

It took around 4 to 4 1/2 hours to get there -- once we stopped three times along the way to pick up things we had forgotten at the house; we were also following Route 1 and the bulk of the summer tourist influx, the bulk that wanted to putter along at 35 mph. Seriously, people, I know you're from Utah or some shit, but really, just how fascinating is a clump of trees? You see that long, skinny pedal on the right hand side? Please feel free to use it.

Once we arrived and started unpacking the cooler, I realized that I'd forgotten the chicken thighs for the dogs' breakfasts. Back out to the car and the GPS unit to locate the nearest grocery store. That would be the one 12 miles away in Eastport, thankyouverymuch.

Still, you gotta love the GPS unit. It can get you anywhere. Provided you don't mind going down narrow, winding dirt roads (and I use the term road very liberally here) to get there.

Which is just exactly what it sent us down on Monday in our attempt to see the Reversing Falls in Pembroke. I was pretty sure the Magellan had finally snapped and was sending us to our doom at the hands of some backwoods redneck pirates or something, when a red Caravan happened upon us. The van did NOT contain a serial killer or tragic inbred demonic clown firestarter (suck it, Stephen King), but a helpful gentleman who got us to where we wanted to be. Turns out there were very respectable paved roads we could have taken to get there if the GPS hadn't been intent on our demise.

On Tuesday, we went to tour the town of Lubec. After that five minutes was overwith... Unfortunately, that was the only day it rained, so there were no harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks in the harbor. I went into a Yarn Store/Dog boutique (yeah, I don't know either) and discovered that the proprietor was an exhibitor of Bernese Mountain Dogs. Hey! I found one of my people! Lunch and then visits to two handmade chocolate stores. Bad for our figures, and bad for our checkbooks, but our tastebuds were very happy, hedonists that they are.

On Wednesday, we set out for the thriving Metropolis of Machias, Maine. Hey, don't laugh. After several days in the woods it SEEMED like a thriving metropolis. I mean, there was a McDonald's and everything!! That's cool, right? To which I must answer:


OMG WTF, Machias?!!!

First, there was the big hole in the middle of Route 1 that necessitated a flagger to direct traffic to the detour. This is not a tough job, right? Send them down one road, turn them away from another...? Yeah, not so much. We turned down a little side street to visit some shops (again: term... loosely...), only to be told by the flagger that we could not turn right (which was the direction of the big hole, so... duh). He also said that we could not turn left, we had to go back the way we came. So, he was at THAT end of the street why, exactly? We were, however, able to pull into a parking place and walk to the shops. Hit a thrift store and picked up a Nora Roberts book I hadn't read yet for $1, so yay!

Once we pulled out of there and went back up the street by the flagger again, we went through town to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things. Cue clueless, drifting fellow shoppers who walk in front of you and then stop in your path as they stare vacantly off into the distance. And the cashier who can't make change, despite the register that, um, makes change. "Here's your sign..."

THEN there was the little used book... well, it's in the guy's garage, so "store" doesn't really apply. But it looked pleasant and not axe murdery or anything, so we pulled in.

Oh. My. Effing. God.

"Hi welcome don't mind the laundry I can move it can I get you a glass of iced tea where are you from oh Warren do you know my cousin so-and-so she lives down the road past the bridge came here to visit her seven years ago and had to move to Maine I'm from Ohio ever been to Ohio hey I have all these Maine books books about Maine books by Maine authors the labels are all there but the books are all over I taught Special Ed in Ohio have you ever been to Ohio oh I sent a copy of that book to my church I'm Lutheran I have religion books here the floor is really sloping from the weight of these books..."

You get the drift. I don't think I have ever been so dangerously close to completely losing my filter altogether. I mean, dude! First of all, calm the eff down. Second of all, you don't get out much, or live with people, or talk to anyone anywhere except on the internet, do you? Third, we just told you we're from Maine. We don't give a shit where the Maine books are. Fourth, don't tell me how the book in my hand, which I'm planning on purchasing, ends. Fifth, no, I've never been to Ohio, as I told you five times. Sixth, I don't know everyone and every street in Warren. And seventh, calm the holy effing eff down! You are like a ferret crossed with a meerkat crossed with a Jack Russell Terrier who drank 27 red bulls and snorted an entire busload of coke.

I finally grabbed two books, threw some money at him, and got the hell out of Dodge, him trying to direct me in backing my car up the whole time. Jeebus H. Mother-loving tap-dancing Christ!

After that we decided no more "shops." Just Quizno's for lunch and back to the sticks. But wait!! There's not actually a Quizno's there anymore, they just left the big sign up and the letters on the building. Puttin' the "No' in Quizno's. Back into town, playing dodge the flagger, to a little restaurant. Which at least turned out to have good food. Even if the lobster tank we were sitting next to continued to make, uh, shall we say digestive noises all through our meal.

Wow, Machias. Just... wow.

We did end up coming home Thursday night instead of Friday like we had planned. I think I would have cried if we'd had to stay any longer.

I WILL say, though, that the fireplace was really, really nice, as was making s'mores and taking the dogs for walks and canoeing around and playing badminton and spending lots of one-on-one time with my long-suffering hubby.

But next vacation? I hope it's at a dog show.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Better Late than Never

Okay, so I'm a little late posting this, but I'm still excited about it. :-)

On Sunday, Magnum made his ring debut in Keene, NH, at the tender age of 6 months, 2 weeks. Ian was entered as well; I wasn't anticipating much of an entry and figured that way I'd create my own single point. As it turned out, we ended up with a 3-point major in dogs.

The trip over was about 4 hours. Picture if you will: a Scion xB with a 300 and a 400 size crate, 3 people, 3 dogs, ex-pen, grooming table, lunch coolers, grooming bag, 6 x 8 mat, hair dryer, and three chairs. Dude, I should totally be featured in one of their vehicle brochures. You really can cram a LOT of crap into an xB. The park has lots of shade, so I was able to park and set up grooming in the shade right outside the car. No carting items to a grooming tent. So I got set up and went to work.

Now, I had purchased an inverter for my car so that I could (theoretically) run the Air Force dryer, which makes froofing the dogs for the show ring a lot easier. I turned the car on, plugged in the dryer, and... Yeah, not so much. The inverter itself works, but the dryer apparently sucks up more electricity than the inverter can handle. So, no hair dryer. Rats. I did what grooming I could without one. Thank doG for the "Superman cape" I bought Ian at the National this year; it did a great job laying his curls down. Magnum is more wash and wear, so he was easier.

Once we went into the ring, Magnum did better on the table than I expected -- he accepted the judge looking at his teeth quite well, and only wiggled a little bit. He was a little sillier on the ground than I thought he'd be. (Not totally unheard of in the 6-9 puppy class.) I think we managed to get at least a few good steps in there for the judge to look at. He accepted the judge looking at his teeth quite well, and only wiggled a little. He was the only one in his class, so he got his automatic blue ribbon.

There was one other dog in the Open class with Ian. As I expected, he ended up in second place. There is one other set of shows in October that I will enter him in, and then he's off to the vet for the Big Snip, whether he's finished or not. Sorry, Ian. Oh well. At least I didn't have to hand someone off for Winners.

So into Winners I went with Magnum. Magnum focused on me despite the other dogs in the ring, and it was going well until I realized that the other dogs had gone around the ring while I was standing there focusing on getting my puppy to self-stack. Jeez. The judge very nicely had me take him around the ring rather than just booting my non-attention-paying arse to the end of the line. Magnum again had some of the puppy sillies going on, but the judge must have seen enough that he liked, because he awarded Magnum Winner's Dog for the major!!

Now, I really like my puppy and see lots of potential, but I honestly wasn't expecting him to win under that judge, especially once I had my monumental ADD moment. So, way to go, Little Blue Man!!! Right now you're batting 1.000!

Next set of shows for the Mag man is the 28th and 29th in Springfield. Fingers crossed that lightning will strike twice!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Still the boss

With two un-neutered males in the house, along with an intact bitch who should theoretically be coming into season any time now, I've been eagle-eyeing the boys' interactions lately.

Magnum acts like the goofy puppy he still is 99% of the time, but he's lifting his leg more to urinate (not that it makes any difference with a corgi, but we won't tell him that), and he's starting to show boy-girl interest in Elli. In terms of status, he clearly sees her as an equal: he goes toe-to-toe with her playing chase games, they rough-house constantly, he tries pulling her out of the pool by her tail, and toys are catch-as-catch-can between the two of them.

When Magnum is not rough-housing with Elli, he is tagging along after his big bro. It's quite funny to watch; Ian stops to sniff where Elli peed, so Magnum does. Ian goes over to the hosta and lifts his leg on it, so Magnum does. Ian goes to check out the limb that fell off of the tree overnight, so Magnum does... you get the point. When Ian runs for the house, he usually has Magnum attached to his flank, literally -- Ian is in a constant state of slobbered-on from the puppy. Magnum jumps in his face, grabs his rough, hamstrings him... basically, he does every wretched Little Brother thing he can think of to get Ian's attention.

To be honest, I've been growing concerned and hoping for one of them to put Magnum in his place. He's the baby of the family and accustomed to getting away with childish behavior with Ian and Elli, but that sort of rudeness is NOT going to fly with a stranger. He's been to puppy class and done well socializing with other puppies, but I have visions of him trying his brat routine on another adult, and getting sidelined from the show ring while we wait for stitches to heal. But how do you encourage the adult dogs to put him in his place?

Apparently, I need to worry less, and trust my dog more.

This morning, while I was drinking my coffee, I watched Elli and Magnum trading off the current high value item in the household: an elk antler. First Magnum would have it, then he would grow complacent and Elli would snatch it. A few minutes later, he'd snatch it back from her. Rinse, lather, repeat. After about 15 minutes of this, I heard Magnum give his high-pitched yalp (yap + yelp), the one that sounds mysteriously like, "But... Mommmmmmmmmmmm!" I looked down. All three dogs were lying on the floor, Magnum with the antler between his paws. Ian lay about 18 inches away. Not doing anything. Not moving to take the antler. Not growling or curling his lip. Just looking at Magnum. Magnum gave a few more half-hearted, "No fair! I'm gonna tell! Pretty pleeeeeaaaase?!" yalps, then sulked off to the toy basket to go find a bone. Ian calmly and with great dignity hunkered down to enjoy the antler.

Magnum may be on the cusp of awkward adolescence, but Ian is clearly still The Man In Charge.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Street Legal!

It's somebody's 6-month birthday today! Magnum will be making his show ring debut at the Keene, NH show on August 8. No, I'm not expecting him to do a whole lot out of the 6-9 month class, but it will be good practice and experience for him. Let the games begin!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Short game, long game, big picture, little picture...

I had a great (and stress-free!) time in Springfield this past weekend. I had no dogs entered, and I had only Magnum with me to introduce him to the indoor show environment. There was a good-sized entry there, and some dogs whom I hadn't seen before, as well as lots of friends and acquaintances. I even got to have the Best of Breed ribbon handed to me, though it had nothing to do with me personally -- Karen's Lexi went WB, and she was showing Brady as a Special, so I took Lexi back in for BoB. Despite her behaving atrociously for me and me not really trying to make her look good in an attempt to have WD goes BoW for the cross-over points, Lexi took Best of Breed anyhow. I guess the judge just really knew what she wanted. Oops.

Also over the weekend, I had a totally unexpected and amazing offer from someone to take Elli this fall to show and hopefully finish, since I've been unsuccessful thus far in putting any points on her. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Elli would have a much better chance of finishing this way, as the offer came from a successful long-time handler and Cardi breeder.

All of which got me thinking about the short game versus the long game, the big picture versus the little picture, and why exactly I'm in this sport/hobby.

When I first started out showing Ian, I was a nervous wreck, emphasis on wreck. So after showing him a couple of times, I asked someone to handle him at a set of shows for me, and I learned something about myself that weekend: I didn't want to be a spectator to my own dog. As it turned out, we didn't take any points home that weekend, but I did take away a renewed commitment to show Ian myself and to try and finish my own dog. Though we haven't gotten those elusive last two points, and may not if I do indeed retire him at this time, I'm proud that I've come as far as I have in learning to handle, and that I've done it myself through trial and error, and by learning from some of the best and most generous peers and competitors in the Cardi world that one can hope for.

But now, there's Elli. While I didn't take Ian with the express purpose of having a show dog, I DID purchase Elli to be a show dog and a foundation bitch. There are a lot of things I like about her as a breedable bitch: she has a nice rear and croup, nice topline, a flat coat with no curl in it, a sound stance, a pretty profile, a whip-smart brain, and TONS of drive. She is also out of a bitch who produced well, was ridiculously fertile, and who whelped three big litters (11, 9 and 9 respectively) without complication, traits that I fervently hope she has passed on to her daughter. When I watch Elli run around the yard freely, doing regular doggy things, I am astonished by her agility, her ability to pour on tremendous speed and yet turn on a dime. When she stops and alerts on something, she freestacks herself beautifully, showing that her structure is sound and it is comfortable for her to use herself that way.

Elli has some strikes against her in the show ring, however. Though she is perfectly within standard at 27 pounds, when I look around the Open Bitch ring she is invariably the smallest girl in there. She is not at all flashy; she is small and black with a narrow white blaze and no white collar on her show side. She's a little longer on leg than is ideal, which gives her that light, free, agile movement, but which doesn't give her that perfect low, low Cardigan silhouette. Her shoulder is straighter than I would like, and her front movement looks a little choppy because of it.

What is interesting to me is that there have been only three judges whom I felt have really looked at Elli, while the others glanced at her in the line-up and didn't pay her much attention otherwise beyond the obligatory (and often cursory) table exam. One of those three judges saw her in a puppy class, and did not award her Winners but did tell me that she felt she would be nice when she matured, and that she would KILL for Elli's attitude. The second judge was our Nationals judge, who looked at Elli quite often in the ring and who awarded her second in her class at the National. The third was a judge up here in Maine just recently, who was very thorough with all of the entries she saw that day, who actually had me move Elli down and back again when she came back into the ring to compete for Reserve, and who DID award her the Reserve ribbon.

All of that has been a little frustrating. I recognize Elli's faults, but I also see her virtues, and I don't feel like most judges look to find them when they have bigger, typier bitches in the ring with her. In addition to her own faults and lack of flashiness, she has ME in the ring with her, and who am I in the dog show world? No one, that's who.

So, also frustrating is the acknowledgement that having the afore-mentioned, long-time handler and Cardi breeder show Elli WILL get her looked at. I mean, the judges aren't supposed to be looking at that end of the leash, right?

But, we all know they do. And that's where the big picture/little picture, short game/long game consideration comes in. If my only goal were to see my dog friends on weekends and go into the ring to participate and be a part of something, no matter win or lose, then it would be fine to keep showing Elli myself. However, my goal IS to breed sound, drivey, and typey Cardigans with good temperament, and to do that I want to have access to the kind of stud dogs who will improve on those areas where Elli needs improvement and who will allow me to better my stock as I move forward. To do that, the opportunity for a championship and to have Elli seen by more people is a golden one, and one that I should definitely take.

That's the big picture. That's the long game. It means that Elli will leave my house for what may be several months, months during which her agility training will take a back burner and she won't be in my home, on my bed, woo-wooing at me in the morning and making me laugh every day. But it also means that she may come home with the CH in front of her name, and she may get to date a star quarterback rather than a second-string wide receiver. Will it be worth it?

I sure hope so.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mom Guilt

I've been asked at various times by various people just how much difference there is between having one dog and having two dogs. I've also been asked how much difference there is between having two dogs and more than two dogs. I've begun measuring that difference in levels of guilt.

One Dog: Guilt at a 2 on a scale of 1-10. One Dog gets all of my dedicated dog time. All of the classes -- sometimes three a week; all of the treats; all of the toys; automatic lap time; and the best spot on the bed. One Dog goes to all of the dog shows with me, and gets the cookies and french fries when we go through a drive-thru. There is a little guilt that I have to go off to work all day and leave One Dog at day care or at home. There is also a little guilt that One Dog doesn't have one of his own species to play with and to keep him company when the humans aren't home.

Two Dogs: Guilt at a 3 on a scale of 1-10. Two Dogs have to share the dog time. Two Dogs may only go to one class a week instead of two or three. The guilt-trip ante is upped when one goes out the door and the other stays behind, gazing forlornly out the window from the back of the couch she's not supposed to be on anyway. (Elli, I'm looking at you.) They have to share toys and treats. They have to vie for lap time and jockey for position on the bed. Two Dogs have to share the drive-thru spoils, or may in fact not get any at all if there is also equipment in the car so they have to be crated. Some of the guilt is alleviated, though, when the humans have to leave, because at least they have one another for company.

Three-Plus Dogs: Guilt takes a sharp leap up to a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1-10. Now the dog time is split three or more ways, and someone may not get to go to a class at all. Now when one is playing with a toy, he has to guard it from two others, who will inevitably tag team him, one making a feint for it and the other grabbing it while he defends against the first. Treats aren't always so forthcoming, because now there has to be enough to go around. The lap becomes a battlefield, sometimes to the extent that no dogs are allowed up there, just to preserve the human's sanity. Chaos ensues over the best bed spots. Forget the drive-thru -- the human who belongs to Three-Plus Dogs can't afford take-out anymore and has to pack her own lunch. When the humans leave, all dogs have to stay behind the gate in the kitchen, since the youngest can't be trusted yet to behave himself, and the humans don't think it's fair to split up the Three-Plus Dogs and let the older ones stay in the living room. Guilt! Training time for each dog dwindles to smaller and smaller amounts. Sometimes someone doesn't even get any practice between weekly classes, and that's if he/she still HAS a weekly class. guilt Guilt GUILT!!!

Folks, I may as well convert to Catholicism, I have so much guilt. Guilt that Ian isn't going to a weekly class anymore, despite the fact that the one he was going to really wasn't working on the Open exercises we need to perfect to get those other two CDX legs. Guilt that his conformation career is over without getting that CH in front of his name. Guilt that I'm considering neutering him to make things easier with bitches in heat and other intact males, when I've read studies that show it may be better for a male dog's long-term health to leave him intact. Guilt that Magnum isn't getting the kind of one-on-one attention that the others got when they arrived. Guilt that I won't be taking him to obedience or agility class right off because I want to focus on the much-less-fun-for-him conformation training right now.

Most especially, I have mucho grande guilt that Elli is only getting agility training once a week when we go to class, because I don't have agility equipment at home and won't be affording any at any time in the near future. Guilt that I haven't been able to start her on herding, which I had hoped to do this spring. Guilt that I have this dog who would probably be a superlative dog for someone who had a farm and stock to work, or for someone who was an agility fiend who wanted a MACH and a CPE championship and umpteen bazillion other titles from the 3,216 venues that are offering agility now. She is SO smart and she SO wants to work, and she's stuck with me, going to class once a week and getting pushed out of laps by velcro-clingy boys and just hanging with the pack instead of working most of the time.

I used to think it was awful that breeders kept dogs for a few years, bred them a few times, and then tossed them away to "retirement." I couldn't imagine how someone could raise a puppy -- show him, train him, breed him -- and then give him away. Why were they bothering to put all this time and energy and money into raising these dogs when they "obviously" didn't care about them?

I get it now. Good breeders don't place their retirees because they don't love them. They place them because they DO. Because there is someone else out there who DOES have time just for them, who WILL take them to all the classes, and give them all the toys and all the treats and and the lap and the bed and the french fries at the drive-thru. Good breeders place the needs of the dogs above their own selfish hearts, and when the right person and the right home comes along, they recognize it, and they cry, and they let them go.

And still, they feel guilty.

Friday, June 25, 2010 Grandmother's House We Go

Magnum took a trip to Grammie's house sans the big kids last weekend, and so got to explore the garden accompanied only by Mabel, my in-laws tragically rotund mixed-breed.

Okay, this photo isn't of Magnum, but I freaking LOVE it. This was taken standing under the grape arbor and shooting up through the vines and leaves. It's my new favorite wallpaper on my computer.

Magnum checking out the... um, foliage of some sort. I think they were lilies.

Jungle safari!

Backyard spy plane? Miniature crop duster? You decide.

Okay y'all, remember Joanna's blog post wherein she resolves to post unflattering photos of her dogs? Yeah, it's like that. He's standing all wrong, his legs look like they go on for miles, and he appears to have no neck. But just look at that widdle face!

By the bed of... nasturtiums, I think?

I don't know what plant he's huffing, but it looks like some good shit!

Gratuitous flower porn.

Hangin' in the kitchen with Her Lumpiness while we make strawberry jam.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The (Reality) Check's in the Mail

So, a couple of weeks ago, my husband suggested rather ominously that I needed to re-focus my priorities, or else. Apparently things like paying the mortgage and the household bills are supposed to take precedence over buying puppies, training classes and paying entry fees. How 'bout that.

It all set me to thinking about this crazy, wonderful, greedy hobby of showing dogs. It starts out innocently enough: you get a purebred dog because something about that breed appeals to you. You meet other people who have that breed; maybe you get involved in performance events. Or, maybe you are already familiar with the dog show scene because of family or friends, or prior experience.

One dog becomes two, and maybe that second one was purchased with the show ring in mind. He or she is decent conformation-wise. Maybe finishable, not necessarily spectacular. You want spectacular! You look for another puppy, or maybe you look to breed your own.

Along the way, you've managed to accumulate: a grooming table or two; multiple crates for each dog and for various stages of development; several crate pads for each of those crates; an ex-pen or three; enough grooming supplies to fill a shelf in your bathroom closet, if not the entire closet; leashes in every imaginable color, length and material; a special hair dryer just for the dogs; slip collars, buckle collars, show collars; bait bags; training equipment; a new wardrobe that shows your dog off to best advantage; and, most likely a new vehicle, the biggest you can afford to accommodate as many crates as you can.

Besides all of the stuff, you've paid for puppy kindergarten classes, basic obedience classes, agility classes, special seminars, vet bills, food bills... the list goes on.

Your furniture all looks like it (barely) survived the holocaust. There is dog hair in every corner and in every crack and crevice, because the vacuum will only get in there so far. Your woodwork has been nibbled, your floors are scratched up, and there are dead, yellow spots all over your yard. You no longer remember what it's like to walk across the living room floor without stubbing your toe on a bone, nor how to go to the bathroom by yourself. People don't come to your house anymore, unless they are "dog show people" who also live like this.

How on earth did you get here?

Everyone says that insert breed here> are like potato chips: you can't have just one. And that's true, but I think there's more to it than that. For me, dog shows are, to put it simply, Home. The ring gates, the grooming tables everywhere, the lines of Samoyeds and Chinese Cresteds and the what-have-yous lined up waiting their turn... I walk into that environment and I know Where I Am. I know Who I Am. I know what I want, I know how I want to get there. It's where the very best in me comes out, where I get to make the conscious choice, every time, of what kind of competitor and what kind of peer I want to be. It's where I do my best to demonstrate good sportsmanship and where I give of myself in service to something greater than myself. It's the place where I hope to make a mark to show my passing, and to leave behind something better when I'm gone. It's my lifestyle. It's my life.

But life is comprised of other things, too: relationships with friends, with family, with spouses; jobs that buy the dog food, that pay for entries, and that, yes, need to pay the bills; all of the day to day minutiae that weaves together the tapestry of a life.

In the end, we all need to balance those elements. I need to learn to balance those elements. Reality, consider yourself checked. Let's get to know one another.

Hmm... elements... A Honda Element would be a good dog car...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A week shy of 5 months

A whole ton of photos later, but only two that were usable. Apparently Magnum came with an extra side order of wiggles. I foresee much table work in our near future.

Monday, June 14, 2010

From the outside, looking in

A couple of weeks ago this blog entry was floating around the blogosphere:

The writer concluded that someone could object to a dog show on humane grounds if he/she had never attended one. As much as I wish that were true, I'm afraid I can't share her conclusion.

So let's play make believe: Imagine you have never been to a dog show in your life, have never met a hobby breeder, have never watched dog related shows, etc. Suppose your entire experience of dogs is your uncle's family pet, Scruffy McPooch. Scruffy is of no discernible breed. He spends his days running errands with your aunt and uncle, getting cookies from the drive-thru teller at the bank; he has his share of french fries from McDonalds, and rides with your uncle when he takes the trash to the dump every Saturday morning, getting half of your uncle's donut during the outing.

Scruffy's exercise is limited to a few trips to the backyard to potty each day, with an occasional tennis ball thrown to break up the monotony. He is doted on by your aunt and uncle, to the point where he is 30 pounds overweight from how much they "love" him. His coat is a little dry and he smells a little bit "doggy" because of course it's bad to bathe your dog too much. His toenails are so long he can barely walk anymore because cutting them "is just too upsetting for him." He has active gum disease and the attendant horrible breath because he's scarfing down a steady diet of Ole Roy kibble, donuts, Doritos, ice cream, potato chips, all the steak scraps etc., but Auntie and Uncle don't care when he crawls in their laps and pants that breath into their faces, because that's just Scruffy and they love and adore him.

Your uncle's couch has a worn afghan on one end so Scruffy can lie there, assuming he can get his fat, stinky, itchy self up there in the first place. Once he's up there, perhaps assisted in getting there, he gets tummy rubs and ear scratching and half the bowl of buttered popcorn. You've seen this all your life in one form or another, and to you, THIS is how dogs live, is what having a beloved family dog is all about.

And then, one day, you walk into a dog show.

Dogs!! They're everywhere!! Big ones; small ones; long, graceful ones; short, stocky ones... there are so many dogs all in one place. And they're in cages. Long lines of cages, some with the water spilled so the dog has to lie in it, because no one left him a crate pad. In some spots there are so many crates that they have to be stacked, little dogs on top of big dogs. Many of those dogs are barking -- well, wouldn't YOU if someone threw you in jail and took off? And don't they ever get fed? They're so skinny, they must be malnourished.

Not all of the dogs are in cages, though: some are standing on tables with nooses around their necks. The dogs are forced to stand there while their owners rub stuff on them, point high-speed dryers at them, making them sneeze when the gunk they just put all of over the dog gets blown up his nose. Some are being combed to within an inch of their lives, while others have simply been abandoned on the table, forced to stay there lest they hang themselves in jumping off.

There are some dogs on the floor, too. These are being led around on short leashes, unless the "handler" deems it more efficient to pull a dog along by it's wrapped ear to keep a collar from marring the coat they just spent hours building. These dogs are hauled around inside a ring, while a man or woman in the middle cranks their mouths open to look at their teeth, runs hands all over their bodies, and feels for testicles on the boy dogs. Some are put up on the accursed table again to suffer this indignity. When they come out of the ring, back they go to jail, except maybe for the one who came out of the ring with a purple and gold ribbon; he gets a brief furlough to get a mugshot before he has to go back to the cage.

And the people!! They're all totally indifferent to the suffering going on around them. They talk away at each other, about each other, ignoring all of the barking dogs as though they don't exist. They talk about "this bitch" and "that bitch" and gripe that the people in the rings wouldn't even know a good dog if one bit them.

You gape around in appalled amazement, and think about Scruffy, lying on the couch with his head in your uncle's lap, watching the game and sharing a bag of Cheetos. Then you high-tail it out of there with a horror story to tell all of your friends about "those crazy people and those poor, poor dogs."

Think I'm exaggerating? I've heard pretty much this exact reaction, from the owner of a Scruffy McPooch. And there are a LOT of Scruffy McPooch's out there.

Do you and I know that these "poor, caged dogs" are living like royalty at home? Sure. At least many, many, many of them are. Do we realize the consequences of feeding a poor quality food, of allowing our dogs to become obese, of too little exercise and too little grooming? You bet. Heck, we read articles and blog posts ad nauseum about it. Do we blithely stand by and watch dogs suffer? Of course not. But the horrified niece of Scruffy McPooch's owner doesn't know that. She just looks around at what she sees.

And what she sees -- what so many people like her see -- is not a pretty picture.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nothing to see here...

I know I've been quiet as of late, but there's not much dog-related news to report here. Elli continues with agility classes and may be ready to start trialing in CPE soon. Magnum is attending his first set of "big boy" obedience classes and is rocking it, except for that pesky stay exercise, because how on earth can I give him delicious cheese if he's over HERE and I'm over THERE? Herding lessons are still on the agenda but are somewhat on the back burner until more funding frees up.

The raw feeding is going swimmingly. I squeed out loud at the grocery store earlier this week when I found four packages of fresh, sliced beef heart -- AND chicken thighs were also on sale. Yahtzee!! When you realize that this is the highlight of your week, you probably need to talk with yourself about some things. Thom spoke a little bit at class the other night about nutrition, and I offered to talk with anyone and everyone interested in switching to raw. No zealot so fiery as a recent convert, huh?

In the competitive arena, I opted not to enter the shows in Cumberland on the 26th and 27th. Elli is naked -- NAKED!!! -- and I can't have her running around in public in her underwear. The scandal!! Britches? Nuh-uh. Two hairs, maybe three, tops. No neck frill or ruff whatsoever. Absolutely no plushiness to her coat, just topcoat with nada underneath it. As if she doesn't look small enough next to everybody else when she has a FULL coat! SO not taking her in the ring in two weeks. I'm not even sure I'm going to enter her at the Yankee Classic. That's only a couple weeks after Cumberland. How much coat can she grow between now and then?

And Ian... I think Ian is now retired from the conformation ring.

I've thought about this a lot the past three weeks. Argued back and forth with myself, with my mom, with my hubby, with my checkbook... What it ultimately comes down to is this: I will not be breeding Ian. I have no girl to breed to him, I'm not sure I'd use him even if I did, and there is no one else who wants to use him. While I would really like to have that title on the front end to balance the one on the back, I don't see it happening. It's mucho grande frustrating to leave him at 13 points, especially when he has three majors, but seriously, people.

It's been over a year since he's earned a point. In that time he had a back injury, and his movement, which was not stellar to begin with, is even less stellar now. I may briefly dominate, but will never win, the battle with his curls. His ears are too small and are set too high. He has a stuffy neck. And he's pushing four years old. If he couldn't finish in an embarassing 33 shows, then why continue to pursue it?

Still, it's been a learning process, and I picked up a whole lot of valuable knowledge along the way, knowledge that will help as I move forward with Elli and with Magnum. As training models go, Ian: You were awesome.

So what's next? I'll be swinging by the shows in Cumberland to watch and probably lend a hand holding leashes and whatnot, as anyone with a free hand at ringside is likely to find themselves doing. Magnum will go with me to continue his introduction to All Things Dog Show. I'll be going to Springfield for the Saturday and Sunday shows in July, whether or not I end up entering Elli. Magnum will go there as well for his first look at the Big E.

Later in July, there is a match in Bucksport that I plan to enter Magnum in, for ring practice and to provide lots of laughs for the folks ringside. I may also take Ian and work him in Open obedience (which I pray won't be quite as entertaining as Magnum's first time in the conformation ring. *gulp*) Hopefully we WILL finish up the CDX title on him, eventually.

In August, Magnum will make his ring debut in Keene, NH, hopefully with his sister Juno, and again to the likely hilarity of spectators. The next weekend, there is a 3-day set of shows in Fitchburg, MA. I've been invited by Cheryl, Brady's mother, to stay with her for the weekend, which would be terrific in that I'd get to work some with Brady and show him for BOB. Have I mentioned how much I like that boy? And also, hey! No hotel room!

Once Elli turns two in October, I will whisk her away for her hip x-rays. Fingers crossed that the results are favorable, and I can finalize my choice of suitors for her winter heat cycle.

Then there are the Thanksgiving shows to look forward to, but hey, let's not get TOO far ahead of ourselves.

So that's pretty much it right now at Casa Smalltyme. Exciting, huh?