Archive for June, 2013

Tooey is putting out enough heat to keep all of northeast Portland warm, even if it weren’t 95 degrees F.

So Russ got out the kiddie pool, and us two girls dipped our tootsies in the cool water.




And here’s one funny note. We were trying to convince Cooper to get into the water too, so we threw a toy into the pool. He stood outside the pool and tried to paw the toy toward himself without actually getting in.

Tooey, who had been taking a break, took one look at that, probably said “hmph!” to herself, got into the pool, picked up the toy, got out, and dropped the toy at Russ’s feet. That’s how it’s done, you silly boy!

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But fortunately, Russ has brought what he learned growing up in the Southwest (USA) to bear.

Tooey has been spending her time, in this 90 degree F weather, lounging in front of a homemade horizontal swamp cooler.


The fan blows over a soaking wet towel and, for extra measure, a big bowl of water. That spot is noticeably cooler than the rest of our un-air conditioned house.

Keep cool girlie! We’ve got at least a week of this 90+ degree weather coming, and Tooey’s puppies are not due for 1-1/2 weeks. Ick!



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When you’re going to have puppies, it is imperative to find the perfect place to whelp them. How about in the window well, under the deck?

excavating a nest

excavating a nest

For the picture above, Russ has lifted the access hatch we built so that, if we had to, we could get to the basement window and its window well. Tooey didn’t use that access hatch, though. She crawled her way under the deck (16″ of clearance) to the window well, and then started digging it out.


Of course, that’s not where we’re planning for Tooey to have her puppies. She’ll be going to the Spa for Hot Girls to whelp. But she doesn’t know that yet, and I’m sure she thinks she needs to take care of the nest issue sooner rather than later.

She’s still got about 3 weeks to go till her due date, but she’s looking big already.



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Many years ago, I consulted a guru I was following at the time about something I very badly wanted. He reminded me that my wanting something was necessary but not sufficient. To get what I wanted, all the people involved, whether consciously or not, had to be aligned with my desire also.

Sometimes the path to that alignment is obscured so that I don’t even see that it’s happening. But sometimes the alignment is a bright line of (what appears to be) chance that leads from my desire to its outcome.

So, how does this relate to Irish Water Spaniels?

I very much want to at least have the opportunity to finish Tooey’s CD title this year. But there are issues.

For one, she’s pregnant. And she’s not completely ready to compete in Obedience, so I know that I need to keep training, and I need to find at least two Obedience trials with the most conducive circumstances.

The most ideal conducive circumstances would include a relatively quiet venue (as quiet as dog shows can be ) where there isn’t too much nearby activity, so Tooey won’t be overly worried about all the strange sights and noises. Indoors, so she won’t be overly distracted by birds and critters and the smells typically in outdoor grass. Better would be on concrete to reduce the smells that often come with indoor horse arenas, and even more ideally, someplace where we’ve practiced or been to a match. A woman judge would be best because some men worry Tooey. And the ideal trials would occur at least 2.5 months after Tooey whelps her puppies in mid-July.

So on last Saturday, when I found out that a local obedience club was holding a small Obedience trial in October, with a woman judge, inside a building where Tooey and I have practiced and gone to matches many times — well, I was as happy as I could be. That would be perfect! I got my entry form and check all filled out and ready to put into the mail. But then I realized that the Saturday mail had already gone out, so it would have to wait until Monday morning.

As luck, or chance, fortune, or Providence would have it, Tooey and I were scheduled to go to an Obedience match at that very building on Sunday. I was getting ready to leave when I got a call on my cell phone from a local number, but one that I didn’t recognize. Usually, I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but this time I did.

It was a fellow club member (FCM), asking me if I could bring an entry form for that same October Obedience trial with me to the match. She said she wanted to give her entry to the trial secretary, who was at the match. So I said, sure, I’ll bring you an entry form, and will you tell the trial secretary that I’m bringing an entry, too?

So on my way out the door to the match, I grabbed my entry off the hallway table, and Tooey and I drove to the match. When I got there, I handed my entry to the trial secretary and the blank form to FCM.

Later that morning, FCM told me that she’d called several people trying to find an entry form, and none of them answered their phones. Someone suggested that she call me, but no one had my phone number. So they called the club president, who gave them my number, and finally she called me.

Still later, the trial secretary confirmed that Tooey and I were successfully entered in the October Obedience trial. She also casually mentioned that FCM and I were the last ones to have our entries accepted because with our two entries, the limit had been reached.


If no one had suggested that FCM call me, if the club president hadn’t been available, if FCM hadn’t actually called me or I hadn’t answered my phone, or if I had already mailed my entry, we would not have made it into the trial.


I hope that the trial itself goes this well. But we’ll have to wait and see for that.

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Tooey is a beautiful bitch, and she produced some beautiful puppies in her litter with Cork (Ch Whistlestop Wayward Wind CD RN JH WC) .

One of them went Winner’s Bitch all four days of the cluster of dog shows in Blackfoot, Idaho this last weekend, earning her Championship title.

So now Sorcha (Ms Yellow) is Ch. Whistlestop Mine To Keep At Tirriki!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t get any pictures myself. I hope some kind soul took one and will send it to me.

Added on 6/24/2013: Apparently these Blackfoot shows were very busy, and getting pictures was tough. Richard very generously sent me a photo, and I’ve cropped it down to show Finnegan (Winners Dog) and Sorcha (Winners Bitch) competing in the Best of Breed ring for Best of Winners.


Finnegan (Winners Dog) and Sorcha (Winners Bitch and Best of Winners)
photo by Richard Liebaert

They both came out of the ring with Major wins, with Sorcha as Best of Winners (even with her tongue just peeking out)!

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Tooey says: I don’t have to go to the Spa for Hot Girls to have puppies. I can stay home to have them. In fact, I found the perfect place: a nice cozy spot under the deck.


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Tooey had her ultrasound today, and the vet saw 6 puppies, more or less. Little beating hearts inside puppies lying on their backs. (Last time, the vet thought he saw 4 puppies, and she ended up having 10.)

Russ put together a video of the ultrasound images:

The sire this time is JJ (aka Ch Whistlestop’s John Jameson). He’s the son of HRCH Ch Whistlestop’s B All You Can B CD SH RN “Joey” x Ch Whistlestop Journey To Freedom CD RN JH “Journey”. Joey is one pass away from an AKC Master Hunter in the retriever world, and Journey is a real performance dog, most recently working in musical freestyle.

Here’s JJ in a photo taken at a dog show in January 2012:

JJ in January 2012

JJ in January 2012

And here’s a still from the ultrasound:

Tooey ultrasound 6-10-2013

Tooey ultrasound 6-10-2013

You can kind of see a little puppy, lying on its back with its head down. The vet tech told Russ that the bigger red area is the heart, and that the other colors were developing organs.

I’m sure that the best part, as far as Tooey is concerned, is that the vet said that she could have free range food. No more watching her weight for that girl until puppies are weaned.

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Irish Water Spaniels, IWS

Tooey with her first CD ribbon

You know, this weekend was a lot like Tooey’s and my two hunt tests over the Memorial Day weekend: first an NQ (non-qualifying score) and then a Q (qualifying score). Both times I contemplated not going to the second event, but both times I decided that we were there and we were entered, so we might as well learn from our mistakes and try again the second time. And both of those second times, it turned out OK enough to qualify.

If I were to think about this with only logic, I’d conclude that it’s actually too soon for Tooey to show in Obedience. Her Stand for Exam is solid and her Recall is usually very pretty.  But her heeling isn’t right yet — she’s not completely happy when she’s doing it, and she’s still easily discouraged.

But I wanted to see if we could get a leg or two on her CD before she’s uncomfortably pregnant (if she is indeed pregnant). If she is pregnant, she’ll probably whelp in mid-July, and that would put her out of training into mid-September.

Plus of all the shows this year, I particularly wanted to compete in these two shows, held at the Puyallup Fair Grounds. The shows are relatively close (only 3 hours away), they’re indoors (without all those distractions buried in the grass and flying overhead), and the space where the Obedience shows are held is pretty quiet (and away from the mass distractions of the busy conformation shows and dog show vendors).

So we went.

Saturday was not a success, mostly due to her poor heeling. She lagged behind me in the On-Leash Heeling and in the Figure 8, and she didn’t stay with me at all for 2/3 of the Off-Leash Heeling pattern. In fact, at about the 1/3 mark, she went to the center of the ring and stood there, watching me as I completed the heeling pattern by myself. Sigh. But I was very, very happy with her stylish, square Recall with a beautiful finish, and her rock-solid Stand for Exam. So, no pass, but lots to praise her for anyway.

We’ve been practicing heeling, and it hasn’t been solid, but it hasn’t been this bad for a while. I wondered what was going on for several minutes, and then it hit me. The judge, a very kind and jovial man, was also tall, large around the middle, and had a large mustache. I think Tooey’s heeling was so bad because she was doing everything in her power to stay away from the judge and to never let herself be trapped between me and him. I think that was at least partially the issue because the same thing happens around this other fellow around whom we sometimes train. This other fellow is also large around the middle with a large mustache, and Tooey has the same reaction to him — backing away even when I have greeted him warmly and he has the yummiest liver in his hand.

So I guess we need to practice more around more large guys with large mustaches.

Today’s trial was much better. Her On-Leash Heeling was much more responsive and “with me.” Her Figure 8 was not horrible — she stayed mostly in step with me, but lagging behind. Her Stand for Exam was again rock solid. And with today’s Off-Leash Heeling, she completed the entire pattern, just about 4 steps behind me the whole time. Her usually solid Recall was kind of funny. She came straight to me, sat nice and square in front of me, but then wouldn’t finish by coming into the heel position. I gave her the “Around” signal, but she just sat there, looking up at me. Maybe she didn’t see the signal — but she’s never made that mistake before, so I don’t know what happened. She didn’t look confused — she just looked like she was waiting for something. Perhaps I need to make my signal bigger so she can’t miss it.

The long Sits and Downs went OK, too. Her 1-minute Sit was solid. Her 3-minute Down was somewhat less so — she changed position a lot, and when I got back to her, I saw that with all those position changes, she’d moved forward about 12 inches. Several times, she’d make these upward movements with her body without actually moving her feet, as if she was asking for permission to get up. But thank goodness, she stayed down.

So what made today’s performance better than yesterday? One thing I did differently today is to keep Tooey with me the whole time we were waiting for our run, instead of having her wait in her crate. Waiting in the crate helps Cooper calm down, but with Tooey, I decided to keep her out of the crate so that she could look around at all the activity, get a whiff of the judge, see what happens in the ring, and just generally familiarize herself with the surroundings. I don’t know that it helped, but I think so. Oh, and the fact that today’s judge was a smaller, older woman without a mustache probably helped, too.

So, today, not a lovely performance, but a passing one. As the judge said when handing me our green ribbon, “You did it!” Tooey now has one leg on her AKC Companion Dog (CD) title — just two more legs to go. But if she is pregnant, those two won’t occur for awhile. We’ll find out more about that tomorrow.

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We’re getting ready for her first Obedience Novice B shows next weekend, so we’re practicing Stays. Here’s Tooey, looking a little worried, practicing her Down Stay.


After I gave her some treats, and told her “Good Stay!”, she relaxed a bit (although not quite as much as the hound to her right).

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After a morning’s sessions practicing water blinds with the newbie handler (me).


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Memorial Day’s hunt test was much more successful than the previous Saturday’s test. I remembered my lessons (don’t let the dog go before told to by the judge and don’t let your dog point a bird), and so Tooey earned her third and me my first orange hunt test ribbon.


Irish Water Spaniels with their ribbons
Patrice and Tooey with a Junior ribbon, Christine and Riki with a Master ribbon

The weather was awful. Not cold, but wet. Really wet. Pouring down rain wet. I was the bird shagger for the Master dogs, and those poor chukars were obviously soaked. After the Master and Senior dogs worked the field for their chukars, we Juniors waited a few moments for the pigeons.

I might add here that, at least in the Pacific Northwest, we don’t have those large tracts of private lands with game keepers and many hundreds of pheasants to hold spaniel hunt tests on, as Russ and I saw in the United Kingdom last October. Instead, hunt tests are often held on public lands, and the birds are imported and “planted” — placed in likely bird hiding spots in the tall grasses, bushes, and other cover.

So, the bird planters went out into the field, planted the pigeons, and then the 1st Junior team, judges, marshal, and bird shagger all went out into the field, closely followed by Tooey and me. (The first team may not need the entire course to flush and retrieve two birds, so the next team follows along behind so as to be handy to start wherever the first dog finishes.)

And indeed, that’s what happened. Tooey and I started in the middle of the course. She hunted in her usual up and back, over and back pattern, even sometimes hunting behind me. In short order, she found a bird and started to point at it. I interrupted her with a “get it!”, and she flushed the bird. It flew, the gunners shot it, and Tooey went out and retrieved it to hand.

After that, I don’t really remember what happened. (That’s the trouble with writing these blog posts a week later.) I do know that she retrieved another bird, and it may have been one that she trapped and delivered to me. (Trapped is when the dog just grabs the bird without flushing it first.) Those birds were so wet, I am amazed any of them flushed.

I thought maybe we passed the “upland” portion, even though I did have to encourage her to flush. I even texted Russ: “Maybe yes. Maybe no.” But Tooey showed me that she can do the work when she wants to. On the way back to the staging area, she pulled me off the path and into the cover. She doesn’t usually pull me this hard, so I just held on and allowed her to go where she wanted to go. Suddenly, she dove into a patch of Scotch broom, and came out with a blinking chukar firmly trapped in her mouth. With some reluctance, she let me have it, and I took it back to the bird steward, alive and unharmed.

After waiting through lunch again and then asking one of the judges if we’d passed, I found out that Tooey and I were indeed invited back to test on the water.

The “line” at the water test was about 8 feet back from the water’s edge. That’s where you wait for the bird thrower to throw a dead pigeon into the water and the gunner to shoot at it (you can sort of see where they are by the blaze orange in the trees at the left edge of the photo below). I had hoped for a line closer to the water’s edge.


photo by Christine Robertson

The rules say that when retrieving a bird, a Junior dog must bring the the bird to the close proximity of the handler. Around here, that’s interpreted to mean two large steps. Eight feet is longer than two steps for me, so if Tooey decided to drop the bird at the water’s edge (something we’ve been working on ever since we started her in hunting), then we’d be out.

Fortunately, Tooey did a beautiful, bold Water Spaniel entry, and that impressed the judges. We were off to a good start at the water.

photo by Christine Robertson

photo by Christine Robertson

She marked the bird well, and swam straight out to it and straight back. And then she got to the water’s edge. In the following picture, you can see her start to lower her head.

photo by Christine Robertson

photo by Christine Robertson

I told her to “Hold!” But she dropped the bird anyway, right at the water line. My heart dropped along with it. But I told her to “Fetch it up!” and “Here!” I could see the wheels turning in that head of hers, deciding whether or not to pick that icky, wet pigeon back up.

After a few eternal moments, she did indeed pick it up, so I just bent down and took it from her, not wanting to risk her dropping it again.

photo by Christine Robertson

photo by Christine Robertson

And so we passed with an average of 8.1 points. (This is something I love about the Spaniel Hunt Tests — you can look at the judge’s book. In this case, I saw only one of the two.)

one judge's scoring of Tooey's performance

one judge’s scoring of Tooey’s performance

According to the rules, a dog must score at least an average of 7, with no score going below 5. So we did okay, but not great. Her “Water Categories” scores is what really saved us. Her “Water Entry” score (10) raised the average considerably, as did Tooey’s marking and going straight out to the bird in the water (“Bird Finding Ability”). The nice “Trained Abilities” score kind of surprised me — maybe they were looking at the fact that Tooey didn’t jump around or whine at the line, and that she delivered the bird upon command. Of course, the fact that she dropped the bird and had to be told to fetch it up probably explains the 8 on “Retrieving Abilities.”

And so Team Tooey passed this test. This is Tooey’s 3rd Junior pass — a dog needs 4 for a Junior Hunter Upland title. There are 6 more tests this year — 2 in August and 4 on the Labor Day weekend. If Tooey is not nursing puppies, we will be entered for sure.

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