Monday, February 28, 2011

In Training

  Earlier in the month, we took Ref and Gemma to a match in Maryland.  Both the pups behaved horribly, bolting around the ring, backing away from the judge.  Ref was so bad, I truly wanted to just put him back in his crate!  The match judge said (after three attempts at the down and back), "I've yet to see that puppy move".
  But, it showed what I needed to work on with the babies and they've been receiving daily lessons.  One mile walks to improve leash manners, time on the grooming table to accept nail filing and whisker trimming and close monitoring of their ear carriage.
  Yesterday, it was time to put all the lessons together and try another match.  After taking out the braces in Treasure's ears, I decided she needed to stay home as her ears were not in placement yet.  Ref's ears are breaking over way too far, but I felt it was more important to have him in the show atmosphere again after his last experience.
  Ref was terrific at the match!  Everything he did wrong last time, he did right this time.  He moved nicely, stood for the judge's exam and even stood confidently enough that I could move to the end of the lead instead of standing next to him.  Gemma, however, did not show as well.  She was in a headstrong mood and would not gait correctly.  She did stand nicely for brief periods, though.  Ref won the Variety, then placed third in the Puppy Group!
  Even though the forecast had called for cooler temps and the chance of showers, the afternoon was warm and sunny.  We decided to celebrate the puppies' improved behavior with relaxing the rest of the day at Casanel Vineyards.  We shared our cheese and crackers with Ref and Gemma, who were not content with their snacks.  Ref was determined to eat the cigarette butts in the large container and Gemma knocked over a glass of wine, then lapped it up, which caused a sneezing fit.  Not even six months old and they've developed vices!
  Today was back to work.  Ref and Treasure have braces back in their ears and all three puppies took a trip to Buckeystown so Ellen could see their progress.  I had a nice visit with Ellen and a good lunch--it was a great day!
Gemma gets a whisker trim

And a bath!

Waiting for the match to start

Ref relaxes at Casanel

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nature Boy

  We took Jackson on a hike at Ball's Bluff, a beautiful wooded regional park along the Potomac River.  It's the site of a small battle of the Civil War and also the smallest national cemetery.  It was a very windy day with strong gusts.  When I saw the amount of downed trees since my hike last month, I questioned the wisdom of hiking in an isolated area on such a day!  But, we had a great time and emerged from the woods unharmed.
  Jackson had a ball!  Not only did he not have to share his time with us with the rest of our dogs, he had lots of smells to explore among the leaves, trees to jump over and sticks to chew on.  While pausing to take some pictures, we met a father and his two young sons.  Lots of pats for Jackson and the two little ones took turns "feeding" Jackson sticks.  I could tell he thought little people were great!
  After our hike, we went to Panera for lunch.  Even though it was breezy, it was warm so we brought Jackson to the patio outside while we ate.  I shared the bread crusts off my sandwich with him but I could tell he rather have had the chicken salad!
  We finished our day with errands at Petco and Home Depot.  Jackson was so interested in those new surroundings, he didn't notice he was walking on the floor surface that scares him!

Along the Potomac.  Notice how the wind gust is ruffling his coat!

Meeting new people

This looks intriguing!

Jackson learns little boys are fun!

But the woods are full of sticks and he can find one to chew on by himself!

Getting some local history

Re-hydrating after that long walk!


Lap Dog

Friday, February 18, 2011

Is Pick Pocketing Next?

 We have two very adept gate latch flippers.  Little Bijou can open a gate so quickly, I sometimes don't have time to put the lock on it before she's flipped the latch, I'm hit by the gate and the stampede of her siblings.  We don't normally lock the indoor gates but are trying to get into the habit of consistently locking the puppies' run.  Bijou was only occasionally opening the gate at night and I'd open the kennel door in the morning to shredded poop bags and the foraging of rawhide toys.  Then she learned that Mosby also has a latch on his kennel and I started to find puppies in his run.  One night, there was a complete switch--Mosby was in the puppies' kennel, they were in his and they had moved all their toys in there, too!
  Her uncle, Gibson, can also open a gate but he only does the one from the main play yard (thank heavens for double fencing and double gates!)  But, he's very sneaky.  The other day Gibson was watching me clean kennels while he eased up the latch and slipped through the gate.  Then, he bounded over to me, so pleased with his accomplishment!  Fortunately, Gibson hasn't realized that all the latches are the same and he could open his own kennel gate as easily as the play yard gate.  I think I'll stop by Home Depot to buy some snap locks before that happens!

Monday, February 14, 2011

YUCK! (Doubly So)

  We finally have some warm weather.  But now, my floors look like this:

Because the dogs' feet look like this at the end of the day:

As their yard looks like this:

It's now endless rounds of sweeping, mopping and washing crate mats.  I was hoping for real spring weather--clear, blue skies, gentle breezes and dry yards with the first grass shoots poking up.  Instead, we have snow islands, rock hard ice slabs and where everything has melted, squishy, muddy paths that squirt water as I walk.  
  There is some hope that this is the worst of it and conditions truly will improve soon.  A chillier day is forecast for tomorrow, but right now, we're having very high winds which should help to dry up the ground a bit.  By the end of the week, temps might reach 70!  The dogs will definitely get a play day then!  I just might need to add a round of baths to my chores but it will be worth it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Puppy Updates

  The puppies are five months old today!  From this litter, we are keeping one smooth male (Ref) one smooth female (Gemma) and one rough female (Treasure).  The other smooth female (Bijou) is available, preferably to a show home.
  We're starting to look at upcoming shows where they can make their debut.  In the meantime, I have lots of work to do with these guys!  Ref has been to two matches and Gemma to one.  Ref did well in his first match, but this past week-end showed me what I need to do get them ready for competition.  With our snowy weather, I had not been working with the puppies on walking on a leash nor had them on the grooming table.  Neither Ref nor Gemma would let me trim their nails for the match.  I quicked Gemma, which hurt her feelings and made her uncooperative the rest of the day.  Both puppies would not walk properly at the match and would not let the judge examine them.  Gemma did better for Group competition, coming in fourth.  So now my day starts with a short walk for the pups, some time on the grooming table and lots of treats!  We're going to take Ref, Gemma and Treasure to another match at the end of the month, hopefully it will go much better!




Thursday, February 3, 2011


  I do appreciate a fresh snowfall (especially if all my loved ones are home safe) and enjoy letting the dogs play for moments like this:

  But now, it's a week later.  A week of melting, more snow, some ice, some rain and re-freezing.  We've had just enough melting to make muddy paths in the runs but not enough melting to get rid of all the snow.  Cleaning kennels has become a horrible chore.  Each day brings a different surface to walk on.  This morning, some of the runs had pretty solid sheets of ice, usually where a slope is, of course.  In all of the kennels, I have to chip the poop loose.  The bags fill up rapidly as I'm scooping ice and gravel, too.
  Ben and Sophie are pretty content to sleep their days away inside.  Even though we've had milder days, there's too much snow left on the ground for them to be in a yard for too much time.  They don't seem to enjoy navigating across the frozen paths.
  Gibson, Sadie and Lauren seem to ask every morning for another play session like last week but it's either too frozen or too slushy in the play yard.
  I know it's only the beginning of February and that spring will get her, but I want it to HURRY UP!