Archive for October, 2010

We’re all tired. It’s been two weekends in a row of dog shows. First the 4-day Harvest Moon Cluster in California, and then this weekend’s Vancouver Kennel Club show. This is my three favorite mammals, just after our nap this afternoon:

But not to complain.

We had a great time, and a lot of success. I’ve already written about our wonderful luck at the Harvest Moon Cluster and Tooey’s qualifying in Rally Novice yesterday.

Today was another good day. Cooper won Winner’s Dog, giving him another point toward his championship, and Tooey took Best of Opposite Sex again today (on top of also winning it yesterday).

Here’s me with Cooper, and Tammy with Tooey in the Best of Breed ring today. Tooey is being examined by the judge.

What you don’t see is Stacy with Keegan, who took Best of Breed and later Best in Show (he’d be to the right of Tooey), and Becky with Faethe, who took both Winners Bitch and Best of Winners (they would be to the left of Cooper). Congrats to them both!

So Tooey, who has her championship now, is done in the show ring as far as I’m concerned. She’s going to be going to the hunt training pro in just over a week. But Cooper — well, now he has a major and 11 points, so we can’t stop yet. We’ll probably keep going for awhile, pursuing a championship for him, too.


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As soon as the AKC gets to recording it, Tooey will add another title, so her name will be Ch. Stanegate Second Thoughts RN. Or spelled out: Champion Miss Tooey Rally Novice.

Tooey, Trice, and their Rally Novice prize and ribbon

Tooey earned her third qualifying score today in the Rally Novice A class at the Vancouver Kennel Club show. It was a respectable 93 out of 100. Not one of the two 99’s or the 97, but I’ll take it. All I needed for that 3rd qualifying score for the RN was at least a 70.

The trickiest station for me was my handler error with Rally Sign #25. Here’s how the rule book describes this exercise:

Rally Sign #25

“25. HALT–1, 2 and 3 Steps Forward–The handler halts and the dog sits in heel position to begin the exercise. The handler takes one step forward and halts with the dog maintaining heel position. The dog sits when the handler halts. This is followed by two steps forward – halt, and three steps forward–halt, with the dog heeling each time the handler moves forward and sitting each time the handler halts. (Stationary exercise)”

I did the first two parts just fine: I halted and Tooey sat, and then I took one step forward, with Tooey staying in heel position and sitting when I stopped. But then, I took this kind of stuttered two-step move, kind of like a 2-1/4 step thing. I stopped and Tooey sat. Now what to do? I could go back and start the station all over, or I could gamble and just keep going.

I gambled, took my three steps, with Tooey staying with me the whole time. I did my last halt, she did her last sit, and since that was our last station, we just left the ring. I only had to wait a moment or two to see my qualifying score, and breathe again.

I am so pleased — it’s been a great couple of weekends. Last weekend, Tooey’s championship and this week her Rally Novice title. Now we can get to work on retrieving ducks!

Oh, and by the way, Tooey also got Best of Opposite Sex in the conformation ring today, just behind the AKC’s #1 IWS, Keegan.

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Well, today we discovered a badly split nail. Looking back at our records, since starting our reduced-tetracycline-&-niacinimide experiment on Sept 15, I can see that Cooper has had 2 minor-ish splits and today’s 1 bad split. Prior to that, on the full dose of tetracyline-&-niacinimide, plus the herbs, we had 11 weeks of no split nails.

The badly split one is the same one that exploded so dramatically back on June 21st (see the middle picture of that post), but then seemed to grow out nice and solid. Then today, it split down the middle, all the way through, all the way back to the cuticle. Plus, one of the halves itself split into half.

I’m not willing to do this anymore. So, we’re going back to the full dose (500 mg ea. 3x/day) of tetracycline-&-niacinimide, plus the salmon oil, biotin, Permaclear, and Chinese herbs. That combo has seemed to give us the happiest results in the past. Let’s hope it does again in the future.

I’d post a picture, but Cooper won’t let me touch or hold the affected foot at the moment. Otherwise he doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort — he’s running around, chasing Tooey, and generally being his usual self.

I, however, am so sad.

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We live in the city, but it’s still home to a reasonable amount of urban wildlife. Hundreds of squirrels, a few Coopers hawks (no relation), raccoons, and as Patrice reported last week, coyotes.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing bark lying on the ground underneath our lilac and one of our Douglas fir trees. The trees did not have the usual incisor marks of a beaver as we see around a lot of the ponds where we train with Cooper. Instead, the lilac and fir bark was stripped away from the tree and just left on the ground.

After doing some surveillance from behind the window of the garage, I finally saw the bark-removal culprit in action. Miss Tooey. It turns out that her routine is to run out the back door, clear the fences and trees of all squirrels, and then promptly take a bite out of each tree in which the squirrel had been sitting. Possibly this could be her way of marking her territory unlike Cooper, who as a male, just lifts his leg.

The Douglas fir can tolerate a few more nips,

but the lilac is stressed. We will have to do something remedial with Miss Tooey in order to keep it alive.

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As you may have read in yesterday’s blog entry, two times the same man threatened to call the Humane Society because I had kept my dogs in crates in the car over night. He said that it’s illegal in California to keep dogs in cars overnight. Here’s a link to the actual statute for California: http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stuscacalpenalcode597_7.htm.

The summary states:
“This California statute provides that no person shall leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.  A first conviction for violation of this section is punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 per animal. If the animal suffers great bodily injury, a violation of this section is punishable by a fine not exceeding $500, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment. Penalty enhancements are provided for subsequent convictions.”

The weather a the hotel this past weekend was cool, in the 50’s and low 60’s, and rainy. My dogs had plenty of food, water, and ventilation. There was no reason to suspect that any suffering, disability, or death would occur to my dogs while they were in the car.

Except of course if someone were to have broken into the car to “liberate” my dogs.

But that didn’t happen. Thank God.

Like most dog show and hunt test people I know, I don’t leave my dogs in cars that might even remotely get too hot or cold. I use shades and screens and, if necessary, open windows and tail gates to make sure they don’t get too hot. (I haven’t had to deal with weather that gets too cold.) They have buckets of water readily available, and food twice a day no matter what. Plus plenty of play time, potty time, and one-on-one attention.

I later found out that this fellow wasn’t the only one upset by dogs left in cars. There was at least one other complaint made against other dog show attendees.

Now, I can see the purpose of the law. Dogs can die if they’re stuck in hot cars. They can suffer greatly if they’re without water or frequent attention. And I’m sure way too many people, in California and in other states, have left their dogs alone to die horribly in cars without ventilation, water, or food.

But people — simply seeing a dog in a car is no reason to scream and swear at the owner. Leaving a polite note, or asking the hotel management to call the owner, or waiting for the person to return and expressing polite concern — these are all appropriate.

Of course, if you see actual distress or there is incessant barking, or the car is parked in the sun without plenty of shade and ventilation, then certainly call the authorities.

But screaming and swearing at the dog’s owner won’t help. I recommend against it.

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This last weekend, I attended the Harvest Moon cluster of dog shows (at which I had a great time). I, like a lot of dog show folks, stayed at a nearby hotel. After two threatening incidents in the hotel parking lot, I may not stay there ever again.

We had a medium sized room with one bed and one pull-out, 3 people, and 7 Irish Water Spaniels. Like a lot of the dog show folks, we kept some of our dogs in crates in our cars over night.

One morning I went out to the parking lot to take care of my dogs, where I was verbally assaulted by a furiously angry man. He loudly used a lot of disgusting and profane language, calling me all kinds of names, accusing me of cruelty, and screaming at me that I shouldn’t be allowed to have animals.

He claimed that it is illegal in that state to keep dogs in cars over night, and that it is cruel to keep dogs in cages. He screamed he would call the dog show to have me “sanctioned” (whatever that means), and the local Humane Society to have my car broken into and my dogs seized.

I just stood there. I figured that replying or walking away would just provoke him further.

Needless to say, we kept our dogs in our hotel room at night, in crates, for the rest of our stay. Crowded, inconvenient, but do-able.

One roommate went to talk to the hotel management, and the other tried to do some research into state law. It turned out that this guy is a frequent guest at this hotel, and the management is familiar with him. However, they were unable (or maybe just unwilling) to help us. What we found out about the law was somewhat confusing.

On our last morning, I brought the dogs out to the car for their breakfast and water and then went to eat my own breakfast. When I arrived back at the car about 20 minutes later, the guy was standing a few yards from the car, this time with his pitbull. He again verbally accosted me, screaming essentially the same things in the same manner. Except that this time he added also that “running dogs in little circles and then shoving them back into crates for the rest of their lives” is cruel. (Which it would be, if that’s what we did.)

After saying just a few words, I stopped talking and just stood there silently again until he stomped off. I briefly thought about telling him that I do more than run in circles, that I also hunt my dogs, and would he like to see my shotgun — but thought better of it. I also wondered what he’d say to hunt test pros with their trucks.

As soon as he walked away, I called the police. Amazingly, they came quite quickly.

They told us that the guy was misinformed about the law, and assured us that we had broken no law in their jurisdiction. That the rule referred to extreme temperatures, plus lack of food, water, and ventilation, none of which applied in this situation.

They also said that they’d find out who the fellow was, and talk to him if they could. I hope they did, not that I think it will do much good.

I doubt that I’ll stay at that hotel again. What I’m still thinking about is if it would be useful to let the organizing clubs know about how unhelpful the hotel staff were in the face of a guest’s being menaced in their parking lot.

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It’s not official. I’m not supposed to actually make this claim on any entry form for any AKC event. So unofficially, just between us — Tooey is now Ch. Stanegate Second Thoughts. She took Winners Bitch at the Del Valle dog show today, which gives her that last point she needed to get her championship.

trophies and ribbons for Best of Winners, Winners Dog, Winner Bitch

I have several reactions to this:

  • Thank God.
  • Finally.
  • I am so relieved.
  • Hooray!!! Now we can clip off the show coat and go to Parkdale Kennels for hunting retriever training.

But wait, there’s more!

Cooper, my pretty boy hunting flyball dog, took Winners Dog and Best of Winners today for a 4 point major. This was a complete shock. I had entered him in this show just so that there would be enough dogs make up a major — that is, to get enough dogs to make the competition significant enough for a 3, 4, or 5 point win. Today’s show had enough dogs for a 4 point major, and today Cooper took it.

I didn’t expect Cooper to win. He has a short field clip — not the long coat generally preferred in the show ring. And his coat is kind of thin-ish — he’s going through some kind of coat change, and he doesn’t have the luxurious thick undercoat that Tooey and the other IWS in the ring have.

I have several reactions to this:

  • You must be joking.
  • Hooray!!!
  • OMG — now that he’s got a major, I have to keep showing him.

So far, this has been a great weekend for the Realta boys — on Thursday and Friday, Cooper’s littermate Mowgli took a major each day.

For this I have only one reaction:

  • Hooray!!!

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Frequently — I’d say once or twice a day at least — Cooper and Tooey will start alarm-barking. They run stiff-leggedly to the front door in the living room and bark.

Often I’ll go over to the door, open it, look out, and see nothing. No cars, no pedestrians, no dogs, no cats, no squirrels — nothing. “I don’t see anything,” I say to them. “Quiet!” And they’ll be quiet for awhile, until it starts up again.

Well, this morning, I may have found out what they’re barking at.

I was stepping down the front steps onto the sidewalk in front of our city lot, when I saw an animal running in behind me, toward the house. We live on a curved street, so I didn’t see it until it actually got close to the house.

It was a coyote.

coyote in the front yard

She’d just crossed the property line, looking like she was headed along the front of the house. Both of us noticed each other’s movement, and both stopped. We looked at each other for a moment, and then the coyote took off running down the sidewalk beyond me.

After I got in the car and started driving away, I realized that she had probably been heading to the spot under our porch stairs that would give a coyote-sized animal access to a nice sheltered spot — under our front porch.

We used to have the occasional raccoon family under there, but they’ve been gone for awhile. I no longer see little raccoon prints — now maybe I know why. I’m glad the raccoon’s are gone — they can be nasty creatures.

I’m not sure how I feel about a coyote. What I am sure of is that Cooper and Tooey will continue to remind me that there is indeed Something out there.

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The beginning few minutes of the following video clip shows how not to hunt with your Irish Water Spaniel.

It’s from an old British TV show called the “The Irish RM,” which often features an IWS named Maria.

The clip also shows an unfortunately public example of “the spaniel handle.” Good the thing the dog was pretty good natured (or well trained behind the scenes).

Notes added later in the day:

I love the Internet. After posting this blog entry on Facebook, I got lots more information.

First, the actor-dog’s name. Kent and Martyn pointed out that “Maria was played by Irish Ch. Lisnabrogue Derg.”

About the dog who played Maria, Martyn said, “Indeed, she was very well trained. One of Eddie Lennon’s FT winners, they had to overdub the barking of another dog because, of course, she would never actually make a sound in the field. Eddie’s dogs were VERY well trained!”

And David added that the dog playing Maria was one “of Eddie Lennon’s from the same era as his two Irish Field Trial champions. Indeed, in one year Eddie qualified 3 IWS for the Irish Retriever Championship, the pinnacle of field trials in Ireland. The inspiration for Maria was from the author’s (of the Irish RM book) own IWS, also called Maria. Maria also featured in another book…, and a line from this book was taken as the title of Nick Waters’ well known book on IWS, A Bundle of Rags in a Cyclone.”

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Everything converged to make a great training day. The company Avery Outdoors, a maker of duck hunting gear and dog training equipment, sponsors a number of professional dog trainers, including Tellus Calhoun of Sutter Bay Retrievers. On Saturday, we joined Tellus and Tracy for a very full day of land and water retrieves, and with lunch, all underwritten by Avery. Even the weather conspired to make this a great day for Cooper, Tooey, Patrice, and me.

Tooey, blowing water through her lips as she swims

The morning started with coffee and pastries for the handlers, and ducks and pheasants for the dogs. Cooper ran the land series as a double with the birds and then onto two blind retrieves, one a bumper and the other a duck. He nailed the marks with his usual zeal, but he had to be handled several times to the blinds as they were well inside the zone of where the previous birds had gone down. Cooper was convinced that if returned to the area of the previous fall that there would be a bonus bird waiting for him. Wrong. And that is why it is called training.

The afternoon water work was tough. A double with the first bird landing in the grass on the other side of the pond and a second bird landing in grass 3 ponds over. While bringing back the first bird, a diversion duck landed in the water next to Cooper. He noted its location, returned the first bird and then immediately picked up the diversion bird. That was the intended result.

Cooper getting a solid grip on the diversion bird

But all of this activity erased his memory of the 2nd duck 3 ponds over. I lined him up, sent him, but it was obvious he was confused. The gunner jumped up and threw another bird in the same direction. “Oh right, I remember,” and off he went. We ran it again as a single with no problem. Water, land, water, land, water, land, Duck, and same sequence back.

Cooper returning, about ready to re-enter the first pond

And then there was a blind retrieve even one pond further over. That was painful, but with Tellus’s constant coaching, we got Cooper over to the pile of bumpers and back (3 times!) Dang, I was one who was tired after that series.

Tellus coaching me on my timing the "back" command to Cooper

Cooper returning a hard-earned blind water retrieve

Meanwhile, Patrice and Tooey went over to a quiet pond where they worked on getting her “birdy.” Trice had Tooey sit, and threw a duck into the pond. This flipped a switch in Tooey’s brain and she realized that she MUST go get the duck and bring it back to shore. Now questions asked, no waiting. She did this over and over and over. One happy dog.

Tooey "must get that bird and right now!"

Tooey gets some great extension leaping into the water

Tooey brings back her duck

There was a nice selection of dogs training on Saturday, including this young Golden puppy who is quite capable of dragging a duck around.

A future champion field dog

All in all, it was great training day for Tooey and Cooper (and their handlers). Thanks Tellus and Tracy Calhoun and Avery Outdoors.

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Cooper and Russ

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