Archive for July, 2008


Cooper was the only Irish Water Spaniel to show at the Portland Kennel Club show, so clearly, he gets Best of Breed. Because there was no competition, he got no points, but he did get a nice ribbon and the opportunity to show in Group.

Group is the ring in which all the Best of Breeds in the Sporting group (retrievers, labradors, spaniels, etc.) compete against each other. (Picture above shows only some of the approximately 25 dogs in Group.)

On Saturday, I elected not to show in Group because a) Cooper was being a twit, and b) I got a case of stage fright.

On Sunday, I decided, “What the heck. It can’t be that bad.”

Here is what an omniscient observer could report:

  • Occasionally, Patrice remembered to breathe, and then hyperventilated.
  • Her heart pounded so hard that all the dogs must have felt the vibrations.
  • Patrice’s skirt ripped, but was fortunate to get a piece of duct tape to quickly repair the rip.
  • Patrice ran out of treats and had to signal Russ to come to the edge of the ring and give her some more.
  • That caused Cooper to lose track of Russ’s location, causing Cooper to look wildly around for Russ.
  • After Cooper found Russ and got more treats, Cooper finally calmed down somewhat and actually sort of behaved himself. (Cooper hadn’t eaten breakfast, and by the time of Group at 4:30 pm, those treats riveted his attention).
  • Patrice and Cooper survived the ring, but had to get outside into the sunshine as quickly as possible for various reasons.
  • Patrice couldn’t catch her breath and had to lie down on the grass for 15 minutes.
  • Cooper had a pee and then ran to the car.

Then we all went running in the field, got covered with grass, and had a wonderful time.

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Let me just say right now that those who actually show their dogs themselves must be at least somewhat nuts.

You have this dog on a very skinny leash, and you’re supposed to take that dog in circles around a ring while keeping the dog’s attention on you (or at least, on the treat you have in your hand). Then you’re supposed to get the dog to “stack” just right (standing in a particular posture — you can see Balloo doing that perfectly in lower right corner of the previous post), and you’re supposed to make sure the dog stays calm while the judge is looking at their teeth, feeling their legs and body and, in the case of a dog (as opposed to a bitch), grabbing their balls.



The picture at the top was taken before Patrice actually took Cooper in the ring for the first time. The black bag next to the chair holds a multitude of treats, a ripped up squeaky toy to give Cooper something to chew on while waiting, a brush, some mysterious quinine hair tonic to put on his legs to make the leg fur stand out horizontally to form a column, some watered down conditioner to make his body fur curl and not frizz, and his skinny show leash. Are there any treats in there for Patrice? Hah! Are you kidding?

Oh, and that comment about people who show their own dogs being nuts? Yeah, that’s me. ‘Cause I’m doing it again tomorrow.

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CH Whistlestop’s Hula Balloo CDX RAE JH CGC MDD has passed away. Cooper’s sire had advanced lymphoma, and was too sick to go on.

Balloo was a wonderful dog. As you can see from all his titles, he was amazingly talented and versatile. He was a champion in conformation (CH) by the time he was 13 months old, won numerous obedience competitions (CDX), reached the junior hunter level in hunt trials (JH), passed the Canine Good Citizen test (CGC), and was a wonder at dock diving (MDD).

But most of all, Balloo was a very affectionate companion. One evening, while Russ and Patrice were visiting Tammy and Steve, Balloo spent more than an hour at Russ’s side, while Russ petted and played with him.

We will miss Balloo. And we will be blessed if at least some of Balloo’s wonderful qualities begin to show themselves in Cooper.

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Colleen warned me to spray my dog with The Stuff somewhere where I wouldn’t worry about slipping. She said that any place that gets wet would be a bad place to use the stuff. It’s secret is that it’s very slippery.

I would extend the warning to add this: If you spray your dog with The Stuff outside, for example, make sure that your dog doesn’t then run into the house ahead of you and squirm on his back all over your kitchen floor. If this happens, your kitchen floor will be very slippery.

Feet with socks on will slip. Water makes it worse. Pine cleaner doesn’t work to get it off. Use detergent.

Update March 2009

Lately there have been some concerns about the fact that The Stuff contains teflon. If you spray it, the worry is that you and your dog will breathe teflon. Some folks suggest applying it will a squirt bottle; others are switching to other products, like Mane and Tail.

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If you’ve been reading this blog, you know what I think about the silliness of having an Irish Water Spaniel with long fur. I know it looks good to many people in the show ring — and I’m very fond of several of these people. (You know who you are…) Some have been known to comment from time to time, when seeing an IWS with short fur, that that dog doesn’t look like an IWS.

Well, OK. I’ll keep Cooper’s leg fur  long for the show ring because I love these people. And I’ll try not to whine too often. But…

In the picture above, you can see why I prefer short fur. As I said in an earlier entry, this curly velcro-fur collects everything. Today, while running around at St. Louis Ponds, Cooper collected many thousands of these green seed balls, plus assorted twigs, grass stems, leaves, and brambles. We had an hour of brushing and combing when we got home. Short fur would have been much easier and quicker to comb.

Colleen had told me about The Stuff. It’s a very slippery conditioner that you spray on the dog. She told me to apply it before I went out into the field, and that the debris would fall out when we got home.

Let’s just say that I’m very happy I used The Stuff — combing out all the crap wasn’t difficult. But I wouldn’t say that the debris just fell out. It makes me shudder to think what the combing out might have been like without some product like that.

Cooper wasn’t all that thrilled with the brushing and combing, either. But whenever Cooper cooperated, Russ fed him bits of tuna (the new favorite, along with watermelon). That kept Cooper on the grooming table until finally we got the job done.

Then it was time for a nap (until the evil fireworks started up).

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St. Louis Ponds are in Gervais (jer’-vus), Oregon, about an hour south of Portland, down Hwy. 99E. Two sets of ponds are maintained by Marion County: one set for fishing and the other for dog training.

Cooper’s dad, Balloo, is a very talented dock-diver, so we thought Cooper would be a natural. But he hasn’t been very willing to jump off docks. But today, we hope we saw that beginning to change.

Today is a rare holiday from work, so Russ and I decided to go down to the Ponds and just toss some bumpers. In past bumper throwing sessions, Cooper would simply run into the water from a low point on the shore. But today what we got was a dog who has decided to leap into the water off a two-foot-or-so-high ridge.

Not only that, but Cooper was actually bringing the bumper to me. Amazing! ‘Course, that took a bit of doing —  I pretended I was a tree (that’s me being a tree-with-hat in the upper right picture below), and I didn’t even move to pick up the bumper and throw it until it was on my feet. But it took only three or four repetitions of that until Cooper got the point.


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