Archive for October, 2013

I can’t say that I’ve never cheated. I have. I’m not proud of it, and I haven’t done it in a long, long time.

But I totally understand the desire. Of wanting to succeed so badly that the very definition of success becomes warped. It degrades real, substantive success to the mere appearance of it.

So I understand it, but, still, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

stewardI recently stewarded at an Obedience trial, and saw a blatant case of double handling during the long sits and downs in the Open class in the neighboring ring.

The AKC defines double handling as:

The act of someone, other than the handler, getting a dog’s attention in the ring to help the dog to show or look better.

The AKC Obedience Regulations also state:

A judge who is aware of any assistance, interference, or attempts to control a dog from outside the ring must act promptly to stop such double handling or interference and must penalize the dog substantially. If the judge feels the circumstances warrant, the dog will receive a non-qualifying (NQ) score for the exercise during which the aid was received.

In this case, a man stood just about 5 feet outside the ring, directly in line with and facing a particular dog during the whole out-of-sight Long Sit and Long Down exercises. He was standing behind the judge enough that the judge didn’t see him, although just glancing around a little would have made his position obvious.

All three of us stewards in the neighboring ring could see what was going on, and the most experienced one went to inform the table steward of the ring where this was happening. We could see that the steward then talked to the judge, but the judge did not do anything about it, and the man kept standing there through the 3 minutes of the Long Sit and the 5 minutes of the Long Down.

After the handlers had returned to their dogs in the ring, they then left the ring with their dogs, and this dog’s handler went right into a big hug with the man who had been standing opposite her dog. Not a stranger, then, who just happened to be watching.

This made it so much more obvious, and we three were sure that something would happen, but no, the judge qualified the team. During the ribbon ceremony, the judge was even heard to comment on the pleasure of awarding the third qualifying score to this GCh. dog, who had earned that breed’s versatility award, and was the now first of that breed with those achievements to also earn the CDX. The handler laughed and clapped with delight as she accepted her ribbon.

So, I suppose the possibility exists that that team’s performance was so exemplary that even with a substantial deduction of points, the dog still passed. But the judge certainly did not act promptly to stop it nor ask the stewards to do so.

After the ceremony, the judge did call the man over and said something to him quietly. But by then, score was given and recorded in the judge’s book, and the dog will get a CDX title after its name.

So in thinking about this, I wonder: who, really, was hurt?

  • The dog doesn’t care.
  • The handler might feel a little bad, but maybe the relief of getting that last ribbon will outweigh any feelings of guilt. Or maybe, just maybe, she and the man didn’t know any better.
  • The judge’s reputation might be damaged somewhat, but on the other hand, how does one prove double handling? The judge could argue that the man was just standing there.
  • The other competitors weren’t hurt. The team in question did not get a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place, and the nice thing about Obedience is that it’s not winner take all, as it is in conformation.

The damage is subtle. When you go into a competition, you have to trust the judge and judging in general, so a bit of trust has been broken. Other people besides me observed this situation, and that can’t help the reputation of the sponsoring club or the sport in general. It could persuade those on the edge that a little cheating won’t hurt anything, and anyway, everybody does it.

Getting any sort of Obedience or performance title is an achievement to be proud of, but only when the success is real and not an illusion.

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All-Around IWS. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? (Yes, it does.)

The Irish Water Spaniel Club of America awards a Certificate of Recognition called the “AKC All-Around Irish Water Spaniel” to IWS that are AKC Champions of Record (CH), have earned an AKC obedience title of CD or better, and have earned an AKC hunting title of JH or better.

As I wrote last Monday, the AKC officially recorded her CD (Companion Dog), the last of the necessary titles to recognize Tooey as an All-Around IWS.

She earned her show championship first at the Del Valle Dog Club show on October 24, 2010. It was her third major, and it was earned in the pouring rain.

Tooey, after her championship point, photo by Holloway Photos

Then, after almost 2-1/2 years of working at it, she passed her fourth Junior Hunt Test for her JH title at the Greater Pacific Northwest Retriever Trial Club 2013 Spring Hunt Test on March 24, 2013.

Tooey Irish Water Spaniel

Tooey, after earning her 4th JH ribbon

And finally, she qualified for the third leg of her CD at the Sherwood Dog Training Club trial on Oct 12, 2013.

Tooey_SDTC_CD_131012sm copy

Tooey with her 3rd CD ribbon — photo by Danielle Silverstein

Like all owners of All-Around IWS, I am very proud of my girl dog’s achievements. But just as I was with Cooper, I am most proud of the fact that Russ and I did it (mostly) ourselves.

  • I handled Tooey to all but 1 of her 15 conformation points for the Ch (and all 3 of her majors). The 1 point I didn’t handle her to was put on by Loren, a lovely young handler who surprised everyone when she and Tooey took the point.
  • Russ handled Tooey to 3 of her 4 retriever Junior Hunter (JH) legs (and 2 of her spaniel Junior Hunter Upland legs, too).
  • I also handled her to all 3 of her Obedience legs, qualifying in 3 of the 5 Novice trials she was entered in. She may have done better if she hadn’t been either pregnant (the first NQ) or just finished nursing her second litter of puppies (the 2nd NQ).

We did it ourselves, but of course, we didn’t do it by ourselves. We had help, lots of help, with training, grooming, transportation, housing, more training, more grooming, and untold amounts of emotional support.

So a lot of thanks are in order.

For the CH, thank you to Stacy, Rebecca, and Colleen for their skills and hours of grooming help. And to Jack and Colleen for observing Tooey and I running around and up-and-back in the conformation ring, and then making helpful comments. To Tammy who convinced me to travel with her to California, where Tooey got her last championship point. And to all the IWSCOPS and IWSCA members who applauded our efforts at shows and specialties, and encouraged me to continue showing even though Tooey seemed to keep getting Reserve Winners (2nd place) instead of Winners.

For the JH, thank you to Butch Higgins, who trained Tooey to mark, fetch, hold, and deliver birds. She wasn’t easy, not having the confidence or the natural drive Cooper has and being way more stubborn than he. But she got the basics at Butch’s (as well as 1 JH pass), and when she got home, she realized that she mostly liked working for Russ (more than working with Butch or me, anyway) and had fun practicing with him in the field. That doesn’t mean that it went quickly. It took her 2-1/2 years and 11 tries to get her JH title. But we all worked, she gradually gained confidence in handling strange places and people, and finally, she got those last 4 birds for her 4th Junior Hunter pass.

So thanks to everyone who helped us practice and Tooey to gain confidence. I’m sure I’ll forget some folks, but thanks to Hank, Holly, Norm, Jim DavisAnne Everett, Janice, Donna, and Christine and all of our hunt test friends and training groups who helped us with training, test scenarios, advice, stories, real hunting experience, commiseration, and encouragement.

And for the CD, my gratitude goes to Colleen and the Academy of Canine Behavior trainers who worked with Tooey while she was in season, pregnant, or nursing and staying at Colleen’s, to my teachers Joan Armstrong and Cindy Leung, and also to Claudia, Linda, and Cathy, and the many other members of the Sherwood Dog Training Club who set up matches and played judge for Tooey and I to practice with.

And most of all, thank you to Judith, who bred Tooey, and to Colleen, who sent Tooey to me, thinking that she was lending Tooey to me for only a few months. And to Russ, again and always, for everything.

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OK, now it’s official. That two-week wait between earning the CD title and having it be official is finally over. From the AKC website:


Yay! Now for the next thing, whatever that is…

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If one is in need of fun, and the day is sunny and warm, and you live near the west coast, and it’s a Monday off work, and you have a Favorite Photographer and a couple of Water-loving Spaniels who love to go along, where better to go play than the beach?

Just make sure you have a camera and toy to take along!












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Well, we did it. Today, at the Sherwood Dog Training Club show, under judge Betty Brask, Tooey earned her Companion Dog (CD) title. It takes three qualifying scores in Novice Obedience, under at least two judges to earn the CD title, and today, Tooey got her third.


As usual, Tooey did an absolutely beautiful Stand for Exam. A dog starts with 200 points, and points are taken off for various mistakes and infractions. Tooey lost not even a fraction of a point on her Stand for Exam.

She also did a lovely Recall, with only 1/2 point taken off. That fraction was probably taken for my mistake in in starting to give Tooey the command to wait before the judge told me to give her the command. Or perhaps it was taken off for Tooey returning to me in a slightly off-square Front position. Not sure.

We didn’t get a perfect 200 point score, though. As usual, it was the heeling that got us. Not only does a dog have to get at least 170 points out of the 200 to pass, but they have to get at least 50% of the points for each exercise. We didn’t get too close to that 50%, but it felt like we could have. It was an unusual heeling pattern, unlike anything I’ve ever practiced.


October 12 heeling pattern

The first section is the part that I’ve never practiced. After the Start, the team takes only about three steps and then the Judge called a Left Turn. Tooey wasn’t really prepared for such an abrupt change in position, and my footwork wasn’t good.

So then, for the rest of the On-leash heeling, Tooey lagged a few feet behind me. I was reluctant to use an extra command (which costs 3 points) unless I felt the leash go tight. I felt it go tight only once briefly, and then she came up closer, so I didn’t waste the extra command there. She did a pretty nice job on the Figure 8, lagging only a little when going around the outside. I think the fact that she stayed in heel position when she went around the inside, and then caught up to me and did crisp Sits when the judge called Halt, saved us a bit with the Figure 8, too.


Figure 8 done right — with dog next to person

The Off-leash heeling is what could have got us. I had saved my extra command for the Off-leash heeling, and it was a good thing because I definitely used it.

If you look a the diagram above of the heeling pattern, you can see that there is a Halt at the top of the diagram (at about 1/3 of the way from the left edge), just before the right turn that takes the team into the last section of the pattern. After a Halt, you can give a “free” Heel command, so I knew that if I were going to use the extra command, it would probably occur before that Halt.

And sure enough, just after I did the first about-turn (upper right corner of the diagram) and found that my dog was not with me, I knew that was the time to give the extra command. I said, “Tooey, Heel!”, and it was as if she came awake and remembered where we were. From that point on, she stayed with me or just a foot behind, even during the Slow section of the pattern.

So we survived the individual exercises, and went into the group Sit-Stay and Down-Stay. My heart was beating hard, but I did remember to breath, and to her credit, Tooey did a perfect Sit Stay, moving not even a toe — though she did move her head to look around, probably checking to make sure that the Boxer who had earlier given her the evil eye was nowhere in range. He wasn’t, and Tooey did that Sit-Stay beautifully. And then, she had the most relaxed Down-Stay I’ve ever seen her do, just lying down fully on her side, head and body sideways and relaxed on the floor. It was almost as if she’d gone to sleep. Beautiful!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do now. But for tonight, I’m not going to worry about about that. Instead, I’m going to relax and enjoy this success with my beautiful Ms. Tooey.

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This morning, this is what I found in the dining room.


Tooey’s rug


Cooper’s rug

When I went to bed last night, the cow femur bone collection had all been put away in the toy drawer. The bones had obviously escaped thee drawer, and arranged themselves on the dogs’ rugs.

I mean, with both dogs sleeping on my bed most of the night, the dogs couldn’t have done it themselves, could they?



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The ducks overhead are aiming for the urban nature preserve located right next door to the off-leash dog park.

I took this picture just after all the other people had gathered up their dogs and gone home, so we had the place to ourselves in those few minutes before dusk and ducks descended.

The dogs are paying attention to me and their ball, not the ducks. But then again, none of those ducks were falling from the sky, so why pay attention to them?

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A while back, I learned about Dog Soup, a concoction of puréed vegetables added to dog food. I suppose many people do something like this, but I learned it from my friend Martyn, who also owns and breeds Irish Water Spaniels.

After I leaned about it, I decided to try it, too. The dogs loved it, and it seemed healthy, so I made it several times.

Finally, after a month or so, Russ mentioned to me that after the dog soup sat around for a few days, it began to smell, well…, not fresh.

Martyn makes a whole blender-full at a time, so that’s what I had been doing, too. But he has four or five dogs, and they go through it quickly. I have only two dogs.

So, a blender-full of puréed veggies can sit around for awhile at my house.

With one thing and another, I got out of the habit of making Dog Soup. But just recently, I noticed that Cooper was putting on weight. I needed to cut back his food, but when I did that, he seemed so hungry.

And then it hit me — Dog Soup would add bulk, as well as vitamins and minerals, and it might help him feel not quite so ravenous all the time. But how to get around the smell without having to make it up every day?

A trip to variety store provided the solution. Make it up, then freeze it into cubes, then thaw one or two per dog, and serve. Easy to make, easy to store, and easy to use. Perfect!


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Cooper, retrieving out of the Columbia River, with Mt Hood in the background.


Sunny, warm, that stretch of the river all to ourselves, after a long hike through a field at the delta. And a Friday off work.

Afterward, after we were both warm and dry, Cooper even gave me a rare kiss and cuddle. What could be better?

Not much that I can think of.

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