Tooey, random collector

Cooper isn’t the only one who collects things on our daily walks. Tooey does, too. But she doesn’t confine herself to tennis balls. She has much more eclectic tastes.

Just the other day, she picked up and carried home a lemon.


And a while ago, she picked and carried around a tulip. And then there was that frisbee and piece of kelp on the beach.

But yesterday, she picked up something that really caused smiles and a comments from other dog walkers. One woman even asked, “Does that work?” (I assume she meant, does it work to keep the dog calm? And, I’d actually have to say it did.)



Tooey picked up this pacifier from the gutter, and carried it around in her mouth most of the way home, only putting it down when it was time to pee. (I don’t know why she can’t hold a pacifier and pee at the same time, but there you go.) We got to the front door to our house, whereupon she gave the pacifier to me.

Maybe I’ll offer it to her on our evening walk tonight, and see if she still likes it. I did notice that she seemed much less interested in paying attention to other dogs with the pacifier in her mouth.

Russ went tennis ball fishing last week. Cooper likes to push his tennis balls under the deck, and when we realized that there just didn’t seem to be the requisite number of them in the house, Russ checked under the deck. Sure enough, there they were –several dozen tennis balls.

After the bunch of balls got a quick wash in the washing machine, Russ decided that a portrait was in order: Cooper and his “stolen” tennis balls.

You see, we have never bought a tennis ball. We’ve won three in a raffle, but the rest are all found on walks in the neighborhood or in local parks. Coop picks them up and carries them around until we get back to the house or the car. Over the years, he’s made quite a collection.


While Cooper was posing and Russ was shooting, I decided to get a series of my own photos on my smart phone. The last one was taken just a few moments before the photo at the top was taken.





Well, unlike Saturday, we didn’t get an RAE leg yesterday. Some of that is on Cooper, and some of it is on me.

You can see the Excellent course below. To qualify in a Rally run, the dog-handler team has to lose no more than 30 points, for a score of 70 or better. If you end up with fewer than 70 points, then it’s an NQ. And that’s exactly what we got in Excellent.

According to the judge (whose opinion is the only one that counts), Cooper and I “incorrectly performed” (IP) three stations, each one losing us 10 points. I knew right away that we’d lost the entire 10 points on station 12, when Cooper went around the bar jump instead of jumping over it. I’d been nervous about that one, since he did the same thing on Saturday.

And then I figured that he lost a lot of points on station 13, the Back Up Three Steps, when instead of heeling backwards with me, he just stood and watched while I did the three steps backwards by myself. And he was somewhat distracted, just like on Saturday, and was occasionally out of position and responded slowly some of the time, so I figured we’d lost 25 to 28 points.

So I was not prepared to see an NQ posted on the board. And my friends, who were watching our performance, were equally mystified. Later, after the run was over, I asked the judge about our performance, and it turned out that she’d given us three IPs — the Send to  Jump (station 12), the Back Up Three Steps (station 13), and surprise!, the Stand While Heeling (station 7). I knew that I had paused on station 7 to remind Cooper to stop and stand, but I hadn’t realized that I’d lose all 10 points by doing so.

So, with 30 points lost, plus the one and two points lost here and there for being slow or out of position, we were well under 70. Hence, the NQ.


I felt pretty disappointed. I didn’t want to run in Advanced. I just wanted to go home. I mean, what would be the point? The team has to qualify in both Excellent and Advanced to get an RAE leg, and that wasn’t going to happen.

But my friends (thank you Tammy, Rebecca, and Misalyn) convinced me to stay and run Advanced anyway. It would keep Cooper used to running twice in one day, and I could us it as a training opportunity, repeating any station I wanted to, including the dreaded bar jump. Not to mention, spend more time with my friends.

So what the heck, we stayed.


And what do you know? Cooper did a very nice job. He did a beautiful jump over the bar jump, and he stayed with me most of the time. He sat crisply. It was so strange. It was like his brain had gone on vacation for Excellent, and then come home for Advanced. We got a very nice 92 — best score of the weekend.

No RAE leg, but when I left to go home, I was feeling good.

You remember that High in Trial Rally dog I was bragging about a couple of months ago? The one who got a 96 in Rally Excellent and a 100 in Rally Advanced?

Well, that dog took a vacation this weekend.

Cooper and I drove up to Monroe for the Washington State Obedience Training Club rally trials. Being optimistic (or perhaps complacent), I entered Cooper both days in Rally Excellent and Rally Advanced, hoping for two more RAE legs.

Here are the course maps for today (Saturday). Although the maps don’t really show it, both levels have the dreaded bar jump, and in Excellent, the bar jump appears in the Send Over Jump exercise, where the handler must send the dog over the jump from 10 feet back rather that at the jump. Excellent also has the 3 Steps Backwards exercise, which sometimes Coop does great, while other times he stands back and watches me do it by myself.



Cooper was really distracted in these strange surroundings. There were big, bright windows on two sides of the rally ring, and he wanted to see something out there. And some dog kenneled along the wall was playing with his squeaky toy. So, Cooper didn’t stay tightly in heel position, and he also didn’t sit very quickly. We lost a bunch of points sprinkled throughout the runs for being out of position and lacking a brisk performance.

But the big point-eaters were, first, that Cooper wouldn’t jump over the bar jump. He went around it in both levels. And in the exercises where he was to do a Stand-Stay, he moved several steps. So, right there, we lost 10 points each (out of 100 hundred) for those two, plus losing all those little points throughout. That left us with a 72 in Excellent and a 77 in Advanced. Since 70 is passing, Cooper did qualify for his 4th RAE leg, so…

You know, I distinctly remember a day when simply qualifying made me really, really happy. And then we started getting placements every once in awhile — a 2nd place here and a 3rd or 4th there.

Then came that amazing day when Cooper got High in Trial. I think that wrecked it. Now I have expectations.

News about tomorrow in the next post…


First Day of Spring

While we are in the midst of the rainy season, I still planned a day of chasing pheasants, weather-be-damned. Cooper and I got lucky. The first day of Spring was delightful.

Photo by Norm Koshkarian

Photo by Norm Koshkarian

Between Norm and Scarlett, plus Cooper and myself, we managed to bring home 6 pheasants. And not to miss out on the nice weather, I promptly smoked the pheasants over hickory, pulled it from the bones, and added it to a curry with wild mushrooms and coconut milk. That and some cool porter in a glass is how we celebrate Spring.

pheasant blog

I have always known that Tooey loves critters — moles, voles, rabbits, squirrels, mice — any critter she can chase. She’s an Earthdog wannabe.

So, when I saw how much Tooey loved finding rats in the hay at a couple recent Barn Hunt workshops (posts here and here), I knew I’d have to enter her in a real Barn Hunt test.

So this morning, too early and not nearly bright enough, I drove up to the Columbia Country fairgrounds to exhibit both Cooper and Tooey in two of this weekend’s River Ratters Barn Hunt tests.

The experience was a lot like a hunt test — checking in, watching other dogs, chatting with other exhibitors, “airing” your dogs, and waiting, waiting, and waiting for your turn. And not knowing exactly when your turn is going to be because the running order gets adjusted from time to time.

While I was waiting, I took a couple of pictures from two sides of the first Novice course*. It’s constructed of hay bales stacked in various configurations inside an enclosed ring. There has to be one tunnel made of hay bales (which you can kind of see in the middle of the top photo), and there have to be hay bales that can be climbed onto. Two of the requirements are that the dog has to go through a tunnel and has to put all four feet on top of at least one hay bale.



There are also piles of hay around, next to, on top of, and stuck beneath various hay bales, and that’s where the rats (enclosed in sturdy aerated tubes) are hidden. (A Novice Barn Hunt course has three tubes hidden in the hay — an empty one, one with rat litter in it, and a third with a rat in it.)

Both Cooper and Tooey NQ’d the first test. I put that down to inexperience on all our parts. Cooper wasn’t sure what he was looking for. Tooey knew what she was looking for (she’d previously dragged me over to the area where the waiting rats were resting), but I was unable to interpret her body language. I thought she’d found a rat, and called “Rat”, when she had only found a tube with rat litter in it.

The second trial went better. Cooper had a better understanding of what he was looking for, but I again misinterpreted his body language. I thought he’d found a rat, and called “Rat”, but what he’d found was the place where the rat had been for the previous dog. Oh well.

On Tooey’s second trial, she made it easy. She scooted through the tunnel without my asking her too, happily jumped up on a hay bale, hunted around a bit, and then dove head-first into a hay-filled corner. I called “Rat”, and this time I was right. And she’d done it well within the two-minute time limit.

So, with this nice performance, Tooey earned the first leg of her RATN title. The judge complimented her on being a “good little hunter.” And on top of that, she placed 2nd in her division (Novice – Large) for her time of 1 minute, 2.13 seconds. And that time put her 5th overall in Novice, out of 26 competitors.

The trial photographer took a couple of pictures of Tooey hunting for rats during her second trial:

photo by Amy Paynter

photo by Amy Paynter

photo by Amy Paynter

photo by Amy Paynter

Like many other dog sports, in Barn Hunt, a dog needs to qualify at three tests to get the title at that level, so Tooey is 1/3 on her way.


*Those of you who know about Barn Hunt already may notice the three tubes laid out side by side in the foreground of the top course photo. Those tubes had been placed there for the Instinct test, in which the three tubes are placed out in the open. In the photo, the hay bales had been mostly rearranged from the Instinct test configuration to the Novice test configuration, but the tubes had not yet been hidden in the hay.

Tooey got a beautiful new water bowl last night. I was very happy with the water bowl Cooper got last year, so I am even more pleased to take another one home this year.

Trophies are good. Useful trophies are wonderful.

The Oregon Hunting Retriever Club awarded Tooey this bowl at the this year’s annual club banquet. The company was friendly, the food was wonderful, Russ’s presentation about how to photograph dogs was engaging — so all around, it was a fun evening.

As you can see, the bowl is engraved with:

OHRC 2013
Junior Hunter
Russ* & Patrice Dodd


*According to the AKC’s official paperwork, Tooey doesn’t actually belong to Russ. But according to Tooey, Russ is hers and she is Russ’s. And besides, the two of them worked really hard to earn the title and the bowl. So there.


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