Boy with favorite dog. Dog with favorite duck.
Posts Tagged ‘Irish Water Spaniels’
Yesterday, I had one of those rare days: a Friday off work, sunny, warm, and dry in early spring. A day to do whatever I want, without inconveniencing anybody else.
So Cooper and I hopped into the car early in the morning and drove to the delta.
Friday means that it would be somewhat less crowded with other people and their dogs. Sunny, warm, and dry means that somewhat fewer clothes would be required (no raincoat, no long sleeves, and no rubber boots). Early spring means that there might still be water in the ponds, or at least that the river might be high enough for us to find some quiet back eddies to play in.
I found a new-to-me trail, for one thing. And not another soul (human or canine) on it within sight or hearing.
And for another, after passing a much diminished pond, we did indeed find a couple quiet, deep backwaters at the edge of the river to practice water retrieves and cool off.
A good morning all in all. Quiet, peaceful, renewing. I was back in time to miss the afternoon heat and have a nice lunch with Russ while Cooper slept on the cool tile floor.
Tooey is gone to the Spa for Hot Girls. Trice is gone to a conference in Atlanta. What are the two left-behind boys to do?
Why, get their portrait done, of course!
Nothing important. No ribbons, no passes, no title or medallions.
My girl Tooey came into season last Tuesday, so she went up to the Spa for Hot Girls today.
And howling, and not eating, and following her every move with his nose. It’s kind of pathetic and also funny. This last week, we would take Tooey for a walk first, bring her home, and then take Cooper. He’d howl the whole time she was gone. And then when it was his turn, he insisted on following her exact trail, stopping where she has stopped and peeing where she has peed.
But now Tooey is gone to the spa for a couple of weeks. I hope Cooper starts eating again soon.
And who knows? Perhaps Tooey will find a healthy, beautiful boyfriend while she’s there.
Posted in dog shows / conformation, friendship, life with dog, Realta Rosario Cooper, tagged 2013 IWSCA National Specialty, AKC All-Around IWS, All-Arounder, Irish Water Spaniels, IWS, Quintessential Versatillity Award on April 24, 2013 | 2 Comments »
At my first Specialty in Auburn, Washington, I had no brain space at all to pay any attention to what was going on around me. I had Cooper, a real handful of a young Irish Water Spaniel boy. Bathing, grooming, feeding, walking, keeping out of trouble – all that, and trying desperately not to be nervous about showing my dog.
My second Specialty, in Frederick, Maryland, was much more relaxed. My girl Tooey was there, but she’d been transported and cared-for by her co-owner. So I could have noticed more of what was going on, but all I really remember was meeting a whole bunch of wonderful people, watching the dogs work at the WC/X test, being so pleased that Tooey and her handler Carl won 1st in Junior Showmanship, and absolutely loving the fact that a Gun Bitch took Best of Breed. Everything else has fallen away.
This time – my third Specialty, the 75th Anniversary Irish Water Spaniel Club of America Specialty in Wilmington, Ohio – this time, I have no excuse for not remembering everything. I had no dog of my own there, and only one borrowed puppy to show. But when I had people at home asking me, “What were the conformation results?” — I realized that I was still not able to give a full report.
So, even though I don’t have a lot of specific memories of the things that people want to know, I do have more personal memories about this 75th Anniversary Specialty that have stuck in my mind.
For me it started with rushing from the airport to the show site to make it in time for the club’s General Meeting, after having had little sleep in the previous 24 hour hours and less food. I really did want to learn about changes that have come and are coming to the club, and to hear what the various committees are doing. After an hour and a half, though, I finally had to take a bio break. I came away wishing that the meeting had been just a bit shorter, and that I’d been there at the end when there was apparently a mention of a link between cancer and Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO).
Then there was the buffet banquet and silent auction. I shared a drink with Tim and Ruth, and then wandered the tables, my eye falling on one item that included a book and three leashes. I wanted those leashes, so I kept bidding up. It didn’t take long to realize that I was pretty much just bidding against Pam. We both kept hanging around that particular table, and finally Pam mentioned to me that she really wanted that book. She’d met the author in her childhood and had fond feelings for him. When I told her that I didn’t care about the book, I just wanted the leashes, we both laughed. By the end, Pam had the winning bid, and very generously gave me the leashes.
Not much later, I fell into bed. I was lucky. Susan had very kindly offered to let me share her room, so I had a place to sleep. And the fact that the hotel and the show site were all in one large complex made getting back and forth so easy.
Next morning, I’d intended to go to Mary’s tracking seminar. Perhaps that seems kind of silly without a dog, but I wanted to go anyway. Tracking looks like a lot of fun, and maybe I’d learn something. But the weather had other ideas – cold, windy, and pouring down rain. I don’t think any of the other tracking-hopefuls ventured out into the nearby but soggy soccer fields, either.
So instead I went to the Judges Seminar. Colleen, Florence, Deb, and others gave the one judge and a bunch of spectators like me the commentary based on their decades of experience, illustrated with slides taken from the club’s new Illustrated Standard. I’m not a person who particularly notices conformation, but this time, the information about tail set and what “rectangular” means finally stuck. Maybe if I keep going to these Judges Seminars, I’ll get the whole dog together in my mind.
After lunch, I got dressed in my show clothes, and then walked to the grooming area next to the show ring. What I sight! Some people already in their show clothes, some not yet, and some changing into show clothes right out there in the middle of everything.
And all ages and stages of IWS! Some being made ready to go into the ring, and others getting ready to go to new homes. Some just hanging out, having done the WC/X, Obedience, Rally, or Agility earlier in the week. I was there to help Linda by showing one of her stud dog’s puppies. Puppy Ellie and I needed time to get to know one another. Ellie was a sweet girl, but nervous, jealous when her best buddy got taken out of his crate, and not at all interested in any of the different kinds of treats offered. So instead of concentrating on the other dogs in the conformation ring, I spent my time helping Ellie get groomed and accustomed to me at the same time. I even borrowed some Rescue Remedy from Greg, hoping that would help calm her.
Too soon it was time to go into the ring for the Puppy Bitches 9 – 12 class. Ellie was in first, and didn’t much like all those other puppies being in the ring behind her where she couldn’t see them. I couldn’t get her to face front and stack for more than a few seconds at a time, but once we got going, I could get her to gait nicely. The judge was kind and patient, and even called me Ma’am, as he directed us to the go-round and the up-and-back.
I did take a short break to watch a bit of the Best of Breed ring, and admired how methodical the judge was in winnowing down from about 28 dogs. Some dogs moved like they were floating, others couldn’t help but bounce, and some raced their handlers around the ring. All were beautifully showcased in the large blue-carpeted ring, lit by an elegant crystal chandelier.
I don’t remember who all won what. I remember that Riley won Best of Breed and that Porter took Best of Winners, because I know their owners. I remember that Joey got Select Dog because I love it when Gun Dogs do well. I noticed that none of the dogs looked very much like my Tooey, who was imported from England. And I remember Ellie, the squirmy little puppy that I borrowed and tried to coax around the ring and into a stack. All the other dogs in the ring…? I wish I remembered each and every one.
The part of showing that I am the most stressed by is grooming, so I did notice all the different styles of grooming. Some groomers left a lot of fringe on the belly; others scissored the belly coat up tight. Some dogs had sculpted, blown-out legs; others had legs with natural curls and ringlets. Some had long flowing locks on their ears, some were trimmed somewhat, and one dog had ears that were sculpted and shaped so precisely that every hair stayed in its exact place. None did what I am sorely tempted (but have never had the guts) to do: take my two hunting IWS, clip their coats into an short easy field cut that still somehow does not obscure the curl, and show them that way.
After Best of Breed, it was time for me and Ellie to go back into the ring for the Stud Dog class. She did a bit better this time, and her owners were happy. It’s so much easier to show someone else’s dog – I was even able to breathe the whole time.
By this time, it was late Friday afternoon, so I opted to skip lunch and just chill out for an hour or so until the Awards Banquet. I perused the vendors’ tables, looking at snoods, glass art, books and prints, embroidered T-shirts, the printed Illustrated Standard booklets, and all the other merchandise. Along the way, I chatted with Carolyn, Marilyn, Susanne, Lynn, Sharon, Wendy, Helen, Debbie, Deb, Wayne, Susan, Deb, Brenda, Rebecca, Lois, Judith and Jim, and so many others. That was a major goal for my coming to this Specialty – to meet and talk with people I only know through Facebook and the various Yahoo groups.
For me, the highlight of the Specialty, my real reason for flying out all that way from Oregon, occurred Friday night. Not the banquet, although my glass of bourbon was welcome and the beef and the vinaigrette dressing was very tasty. And not the auction, even though Greg makes giving money to the club about as fun and funny as it can be. I came out for the Awards.
For weeks before the Specialty, I debated about whether or not to go. It’s a lot of money. I wouldn’t have my husband or dogs along. I would have to miss two days of work. I would be spending a lot of hours stuck in an airplane or waiting for one. I wouldn’t get much sleep, and I’d probably eat too many carbs. But then I realized that I would always regret it if I didn’t go to the Specialty and pick up Cooper’s AKC All-Around IWS award myself.
Last year, Cooper won the Top Retriever Hunt Test IWS award. I was surprised and pleased that he got that, but I didn’t regret not being there to get it myself. But for this All-Around award, I really wanted to be there, to share the experience with all these other people who can truly appreciate what that award means and what it takes in love, money, time, and effort to earn it. My non-dog friends (and yes, I have some) don’t get it. Cooper is Russ’ and my first purebred dog, our first performance dog, our first Irish Water Spaniel, and our first experience with training and showing our dog ourselves. This is our first All-Arounder. And I knew that if I didn’t go to this Specialty, to receive this award among the people who really do get it, I would very much regret it.
So I flew out to Ohio, and went to the 75th Anniversary Irish Water Spaniel Club of America’s Specialty Show. And on Friday, when Karen called out Cooper’s name, I walked to the podium, and shook her hand, and received the award. People applauded, as I applauded for them. I’ll never forget that moment, even when my memory of much of the rest of the show falls away.
And then, to top it all off, Cooper also received the new and beautiful art-glass Quintessential Versatility Award for having 5 titles in 5 different venues. For Cooper, that was the three All-Around titles — show championship (CH), a retriever hunt test title, and an Obedience title of CD or better — plus his Rally Novice and Junior Hunter Upland titles.
Thank you, to Karen and her Specialty committee, the Awards committee, to Rosemary and Tammy, and all the people in the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America, for making it possible.
Cooper would have earned his third-in-a-row score of 189.5 in his third UKC Novice B Obedience trial yesterday. Would have, except for a small matter of handler error.
Cooper is consistent. Just like the last two times, he lagged behind in the On-leash Heeling and Figure 8, went wide on the right turns and about turns, came in slightly crooked on the Recall, etc., etc. He did well with the off-leash heeling, did a solid Stand for Exam, and stayed steady until I called over the jump.
But we lost two points (for a total of 187.5) because, the judge said, my overly mechanical-looking way of using my head to follow Cooper’s movement toward me in the Recall exercise looked to her like an extra command.
Handler error could easily have lost us a few more points, but the judge did not take off any points for my stopping for one of the Halts before she’d actually told me to Halt.
But in any case, 187.5 is a passing score, so with his three UKC Novie B passes, Cooper can now add a UCD title to his name, a ribbon to the ribbon board, and a stuffed squeaky toy to his collection.
Back in 2007, we knew that 8-week old Cooper was a natural-born retriever. We played all kinds of retriever games with him, not the least of which was “fetch the newspaper!”
We hadn’t really noticed the same affinity for retrieving in Tooey. She didn’t seem to enjoy retrieving games very much.
But recently, she’s been working on fetching and holding a dumbbell for her competition Obedience work, and she just got her Junior Hunter title for which she retrieved birds, so when we started getting the newspaper again, I had an idea.
Every morning, I get all excited: “Tooey! Let’s go get the newspaper!!!” She jumps up and, now that we’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks, runs to the door, dashes out, locates the newpaper, and fetches it up.
By this morning, we’ve gotten to the point where she’ll hold onto the newspaper until she gets across two rooms and onto her rug. When I catch up to her (after closing the door after she comes back in), I wait a few beats and then, standing in the “Front” position, put my hands out and tell her to “Drop”. When the newspaper falls into my hands, she gets a piece of homemade chicken jerky and an enthusiastic “Good fetch!”
I know she’s liking this game because, when I get the plastic-covered newspaper in my hands, the plastic bag is all wet with drool. She’s working for that yummy treat, which I am happy to pay her. And I can also tell because her tail starts wagging at “Tooey! Let’s go get the newspaper!” and doesn’t stop until she gets to her rug.
Russ usually is the one to walk the dogs in the morning. He’s quite efficient at it — he takes both Cooper (off leash) and Tooey (on leash) early every morning for their tour of the neighborhood.
I’m guessing he’s chosen this leash configuration to avoid tangled leashes. Tangled leashes are a pain when you’re walking two big, energetic dogs. And tangled leashes is inevitable when said dogs stop in different places, sniff different things, cross the sidewalk from side to side at different points, walk at different speeds, and generally have different ideas of what should be done during said walk.
(Yes, we could and do teach the dogs to heel. But I don’t really want them to have to heel for a whole walk — that defeats the purpose of just going out to enjoy ourselves.)
But I can’t do what Russ does. Having a dog off leash would just make me crazy with worry about what can happen in a neighborhood where there are cars and bikes and kids and squirrels and other dogs also out on the city sidewalks. As it is, it takes quite a lot of concentration to think about and watch out for two dogs at the same time.
But still, that tangled leash thing is a pain.
And since Russ is away for a number of days, I’m doing the morning walk. (I usually do the evening walk, and that one is easier because I’m not rushed to get out the door to go to work, and I can walk the dogs one at a time, which I prefer.)
So, I came up with this solution. It’s made out of two dog-seatbelt harnesses, two 4-foot leashes tied together, and one 1-foot leash hooked to the 4 foot leashes.
(Yes, I know I could buy a commercial version of this. But I already have quite a large leash collection, and the thought of buying yet another leash didn’t appeal.)
It only took a few blocks for the dogs to get the hang of it. And the beauty of it is that they are policing themselves. Cooper likes to lunge forward, which he can’t do very easily with a 65 lb. weight holding him back. And Tooey likes to dawdle, which she can’t do with a 65 lb. weight pulling her forward.
So they mostly walk side-by-side, stop and sniff together, wait at curbs together (which we have managed to train them to do), and generally just behave themselves.
Posted in hunting / hunt training, life with dog, Obedience/Rally, Realta Rosario Cooper, Stanegate Second Thoughts, tagged AKC Junior Hunter, AKC Rally Excellent, Irish Water Spaniels, IWS on April 5, 2013 | 2 Comments »
The AKC website confirms that March was truly wonderful. I still smile whenever I think about it.
First Cooper got his Rally Excellent (RE) title:
And then Tooey got her Junior Hunter (JH) title:
Posted in life with dog, Realta Rosario Cooper, Stanegate Second Thoughts, tagged conservation of energy, dog humor, dogs and squirrels, dogs chase squirrels, Irish Water Spaniels, IWS, laws of motion, Newtonian physics on April 1, 2013 | 2 Comments »
What do these two photos have in common?
They both show the results of Irish Water Spaniels exploring the world of physics, specifically demonstrating the laws of momentum and the conservation of kinetic energy.
When a 25 Kg dog runs at a speed of 10 kph and is impeded by a stationary object, kinetic energy is transferred to the object, which in turn alters the object’s position in space, depending on its mass and any additional forces that affect its position, such as gravity and friction. In the case of a couch, the kinetic forces of a jumping dog combined with gravity result in a change in position of the couch. As illustrated in the top photo.
In the bottom photo, a female Irish Water Spaniel was accelerating (after a squirrel), and the stationary fence absorbed the kinetic energy of the moving squirrel and dog. This energy exceeded the elastic qualities of the cedar fencing, and the molecular bonds of the cellulose fibers where not enough to prevent the destruction of a section of fence. (Ek=1/2mv2) Both the squirrel and the IWS were adept at changing their vectors of force and velocity, and so escaped unharmed. The fence has since been repaired.
Observing science through canines is always a treat. Tooey is especially gifted at demonstrating Newtonian physics. The force of squirrels upon Irish Water Spaniels is still being examined.
Irish Water Spaniels were developed specifically to assist hunters with guns. And while the people in the British Isles generally have a bit more restrained attitude towards firearms than those of us in the U.S., they are uninhibited in acknowledging that this whole group of working dogs are classified as “Gundogs”.
From the Kennel Club web site:
The Gundog Breed Group: Dogs that were originally trained to find live game and/or to retrieve game that had been shot and wounded.
Some folks in the U.S. are exuberant promoting our second amendment rights, but we are also too politically correct at times, so the AKC refers to this group as “Sporting Dogs”. Other than chasing tennis balls, Cooper doesn’t do sports. He is bred to be a gun dog. He is a gun dog.
That being said, not only is he trained to find and retrieve birds, he is trained to work around shotguns. He responds to the direction they are pointed (at birds) and respond to the big noise they make (time to go get birds). He is even moderately good at recognizing people handling guns and knowing when to turn in the field and work within the range of the gunners. He is a gun dog. Sporting dogs chase frisbees.
Owning and training gun dogs is not cheap. Among other things, a well trained gundog likes the status of working with nice ($$) shotguns. If the dog is not flushing birds quick enough, finding downed birds, and delivering promptly to hand, then the problem may be that the gunner is using an inferior firearm. While this is a subtle distinction, many gundog trainers are constantly trying to find the perfect shotgun for their dog just like a show handler goes through jeweled show leads.
In the quest for perfection, Cooper is on his 4th shotgun. Being an IWS who does waterfowl retrieving and upland hunting, he requires a different gun for ducks, pheasant, partridge, quail, etc . . . . (so far he does not know about geese, grouse, or doves).
Friday, he got to field test a Benelli 686 and a Ruger Red Label. Both seem acceptable at this point and he located the birds and delivered the pheasants to hand. To date he has worked with Benellis, Berettas, Brownings, Rugers, Remingtons and Stoegers.
Preferences? Nothing definitive yet, as the list of shotguns Cooper hasn’t tried is still quite long.
Tooey did mention that she would look good working with a B.Rizzini 28 gauge. (She just earned her AKC Junior Hunter title, and so I may have to reward her for her success.)
It’s all about the dogs and our effort to make them happy.
Posted in life with dog, Obedience/Rally, Realta Rosario Cooper, tagged AKC Rally Excellent, AKC Rally Excellent course map, AKC Rally Excellent title, Irish Water Spaniels, IWS on March 17, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Well, we pulled today’s Rally Excellent run out of the hat.
The course was difficult and crowded. Difficulty started right away at station 2 (exercise #107). At station 2, the dog ends up in a sitting position, and then for station 3, has to do a Send to Jump (exercise #210) almost immediately, within just 6 feet of station 2. That was particularly difficult for Cooper.
The two little French bulldogs who took 1st and 2nd place did fine, but a big dog like Cooper really needs the whole 10 feet called for in the regulations to execute that maneuver. Cooper seemed sort of befuddled, just standing there in front of the jump, and I had to tell him at least 4 times to jump. Finally he just hopped over. Hence all the points taken off for “slow, delay, or resistance to respond,” as you can see in the score sheet below the course map.
But the judge rightly took the whole 10 points off for Cooper’s not doing the “Back Up 3 Steps.” He didn’t even try to stay with me — he just stood there and watched me idly while I backed up the three steps without him. I could have retried it and possibly not lost all 10 points, but after yesterday’s iffy performance of the same exercise, that was a risk I decided not to take.
Cooper got back with me on the next station, and he did fine on everything after that. And that was a relief because, like I said, the course was crowded. Probably it was more suited for a square ring instead of the narrow rectangular ring we had, and sometimes the teams had to step around or away from signs that were directly in the natural path of movement.
But you know, a qualifying score is a qualifying score, and we were right in the middle. 100 is perfect, 70 is qualifying, and we finished the run with an 84. Not bad, and not the worst.
After I got home, Russ asked me, “What’s next?”
Hmmm. I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.
The AKC regulations for Rally Obedience say that the judging begins when the judge says, “Forward!” Unless you abuse your dog, all that stuff you do to get ready to move forward at the Start sign is not supposed to be part of the judge’s evaluation.
As Cooper and I entered our ring, over in the ring next to us, handlers were throwing dumbbells, and dogs were jumping over a jump and retrieving those dumbbells. I walked toward the middle of our ring, where the Start sign was located, got Cooper to sit, and removed his leash. At that point, Cooper couldn’t resist anymore — he hooked a left over to the ring gate to get a closer look at what was happening on the other side. His ears and nose were extended forward, almost as if he were a puppet with a string tied to his nose, pulling him over there.
All the time, I’m trying to get his attention and call him back into Heel position without actually abusing him. Finally, after many long centuries (probably really only 15 seconds), he came back to me and sat. But not in Heel — no, he was sitting directly behind me facing the other ring.
Sigh. The judge asked me, as directed in the regulations, “Are you ready?”
Hell no. I didn’t say that, of course. I just smiled at her, said, “Not yet,” and called Cooper to heel again.
Finally, I got him into position, and the judge, said again, “Are you ready?”
“Ready,” I said, and the the judge said, “Forward!”, not giving Cooper any time to get distracted again.
We actually had quite a nice run. Cooper did almost everything I asked him to, and I think he even enjoyed it. Here’s the course:
He even tried the “Back Up 3 Steps.” He moved backwards with me, but he didn’t exactly stay in position. Instead he moved at kind of a 90 degree angle rather than staying parallel with me. But he did the jumps nicely, and he even gave me a very nice down in place, without moving forward, in the Stand-Leave Dog-Down Dog-Call Front Finish exercise.
I was pleased, and onlookers told us that we did a smooth, natural-looking job. Then I was happily shocked when I saw our generous score of 99. I had watched two other dogs in the ring who did a much better job than Cooper, staying in heel, keeping their attention on their handlers, and even moving backwards three steps exactly in heel position.
So why did those teams get lower scores? It was all handler error. One handler added an extra trip around the cones in the Figure 8 exercise, and another added a sit to the Stand-Leave Dog-Down Dog-Call Front Finish exercise.
So that put Team Cooper in 1st place for his 2nd qualifying score in Rally Excellent B. The Mt. Hood Keeshond Club is putting on a second show tomorrow, and we’ll be back to try to qualify in Rally Excellent again.
There she was, doing a quick heel around the cones in Rally class, when suddenly, a duck started quacking. Tooey stopped in her tracks, her attention totally off me, looking toward the area where the quacking was coming from.
The quacking stopped. After a few beats, I got her attention back, and we started heeling again. Then the quacking started up again: “Q-u-a-c-k, q-u-a-c-k, quack, quack, quack, quack.” Just like the mechanincal quacks that are used on wingers during hunt tests.
Tooey stopped again, focussed on the area where the quacking was coming from.
I could not get her attention. That quacking had her rivetted.
Finally, the right command came to me. “No bird,” I said. “No bird.” She turned and looked at me, as if to say, “Oh… No bird. Are you sure?”
The quacking stopped just then. Why? Because the owner answered her phone. She’d had it set to quack when that particular caller called, and being an obedient phone, that’s exactly what it did.
And Tooey and I got back to heeling.
Who knew we’d have to proof against quacking in the Rally ring?