Archive for April, 2014

I promised. And Russ heard me promise, so there is no going back on my word. The 2014 IWSCA Specialty was Cooper’s last conformation show.

I had him entered in the Gun Dog class, where we were up against Harry and Mowgli. When I heard we were up against Harry, I both thought and didn’t think that Cooper had a chance at taking the class. I thought maybe he’d take it because he took Best of Opposite Sex at the Rose City Classic in January and because he got a Judge’s Award of Merit at the last IWSCOPS Specialty show in August. But I also thought not because he was up against Harry, and Harry is a very handsome dog.

(I love the following photo of Cooper. It really shows off his reach and lovely topline. And see? All four feet are off the ground. He just flowed around that ring like the beautiful boy I’ve always known him to be.)

Cooper in Gun Dog class -- photo by Richard Liebaert

Cooper in Gun Dog class — photo by Richard Liebaert

So, when we took 2nd to Harry, I wasn’t surprised, and I was both disappointed and pleased. Disappointed because we didn’t take 1st for Cooper’s swan song, and pleased because he showed beautifully and strong, and plus we won some great prizes.


Cooper’s 2nd place Gun Dog prizes

On the other hand, I also had Tooey entered in the Gun Bitch class. I was so pleased just to be able to enter her in this class, her having earned her retriever Junior Hunter title in 2013. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t win the Gun Bitch class, being up against a smaller, darker, curlier girl, handled by a very nice woman who has taken home the Gun Bitch trophy twice.

Even so, we worked for it. I’d taken Tooey to several conformation handling classes, where she did well. And I had lots and lot of grooming help at the Specialty, primarily by Rebecca B., who did most of it, with some adjustments by Colleen McD and Jim R.

Tooey (with one leg done) and Rebecca

Tooey (with left half done) and Rebecca

And Tooey had been doing so well on the trip to Utah, so friendly and outgoing with everyone, and having a good time at the Specialty. That translated into being easy with the judge and happy to show herself off, enjoying the applause that went with her as she gaited around the show ring. That in itself was a win.

Tooey in the Gun Bitch class -- photo by Richard Liebaert

Tooey in the Gun Bitch class — photo by Richard Liebaert

So when the judge pointed to Tooey, I was thrilled. 1st in the Gun Bitch class! That’s all I had wanted for her, and I didn’t care a bit that the show dogs later took the various Bests and Selects in the Best of Breed competition. My hunting girl is this year’s Gun Bitch, with a challenge trophy to prove it.


Tooey’s 1st place Gun Bitch trophy


Tooey wins the Gun Bitch class — photo by Jeremy Kezer

Tooey also entered the Brood Bitch class with two of her first-litter pups, Pax and Bold. We came in dead last, but that’s no matter. Pax got a 3-point major toward his championship by getting Reserve Winner’s Dog at the Specialty, and a couple of days later, Bold finished his championship with a 5-point major. So there! I was thrilled for them both.

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Well, what can I say? Cooper, bless his heart, actually jumped the bar jump during the Rally trials at the IWSCA Specialty. I have proof!


The Rally Excellent course wasn’t an unusually difficult course. It did have the dreaded bar jump (twice) and the Back Up 3 Steps exercise, but it didn’t have the Figure 8 with Distractions or the Send to Jump exercises.

So I was thrilled when Cooper jumped the bar jump (twice), and was unsurprised when he just stood and watched me do the 3 Steps Backwards by myself (both times — I even retried it). Even so, we got a 75, which is lower than I’d have liked.

Cooper was extremely distracted. SOMETHING outside of the exit door kept grabbing his attention, so he was often slow to respond to my cues. We failed the 3 Steps Backwards of course, and I never did find out what we did wrong on station 5 (Moving Stand – Walk Around Dog). I thought we did OK on that one, but the judge marked it as “incorrectly performed”, but then couldn’t tell me what we did wrong.

At least Cooper didn’t jump out of the ring.


Then, after a short rest and a pee break (for both of us), something changed. Cooper turned it on for Advanced. Whatever was bothering him behind the door during Excellent was gone during Advanced (maybe it was the need to pee, although I was sure I’d taken care of that). Cooper did great. He paid attention. He jumped over the bar jump again. And he stuck in a nice close heel during the Straight Figure 8 Weave and responded briskly to my cues.


So for Advanced, we tied with a 95, and being just slightly faster than the other 95-scoring IWS, won 1st place.

Tooey's  ribbons on the left, Cooper's on the right

Tooey’s Obedience prizes on the left, Cooper’s Rally prizes on the right

So Cooper qualified for his 5th RAE leg, and once we were off the course, I was able to catch my breath and breathe again.

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At the IWSCA National Specialty this year, I handled both Tooey and Cooper in their various Obedience competitions.

Tooey was first, entered in Beginner Novice obedience. You might very well ask: “But she has her CD. Why go back to Beginner Novice?” We’ll, I had a bunch of reasons.

  • Beginner Novice is open to all dogs.
  • Tooey already has a leg on her BN title.
  • She’s not ready for anything beyond the CD level.
  • I wanted to support the club.

I could have predicted her performance: lagging heeling, rock solid sit stay and sit for exam, and enthusiastic recall with a slightly crooked front. But she earned a respectable 188.5, and a very nice 3rd place ribbon.

Tooey's prizes on the left, Cooper's on the right

Tooey’s ribbons on the left

All in all, I came away pleased. And Tooey was happy. Everybody clapped, and she got ribbons!

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Cooper isn’t the only one who collects things on our daily walks. Tooey does, too. But she doesn’t confine herself to tennis balls. She has much more eclectic tastes.

Just the other day, she picked up and carried home a lemon.


And a while ago, she picked and carried around a tulip. And then there was that frisbee and piece of kelp on the beach.

But yesterday, she picked up something that really caused smiles and a comments from other dog walkers. One woman even asked, “Does that work?” (I assume she meant, does it work to keep the dog calm? And, I’d actually have to say it did.)



Tooey picked up this pacifier from the gutter, and carried it around in her mouth most of the way home, only putting it down when it was time to pee. (I don’t know why she can’t hold a pacifier and pee at the same time, but there you go.) We got to the front door to our house, whereupon she gave the pacifier to me.

Maybe I’ll offer it to her on our evening walk tonight, and see if she still likes it. I did notice that she seemed much less interested in paying attention to other dogs with the pacifier in her mouth.

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Russ went tennis ball fishing last week. Cooper likes to push his tennis balls under the deck, and when we realized that there just didn’t seem to be the requisite number of them in the house, Russ checked under the deck. Sure enough, there they were –several dozen tennis balls.

After the bunch of balls got a quick wash in the washing machine, Russ decided that a portrait was in order: Cooper and his “stolen” tennis balls.

You see, we have never bought a tennis ball. We’ve won three in a raffle, but the rest are all found on walks in the neighborhood or in local parks. Coop picks them up and carries them around until we get back to the house or the car. Over the years, he’s made quite a collection.


While Cooper was posing and Russ was shooting, I decided to get a series of my own photos on my smart phone. The last one was taken just a few moments before the photo at the top was taken.





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Well, unlike Saturday, we didn’t get an RAE leg yesterday. Some of that is on Cooper, and some of it is on me.

You can see the Excellent course below. To qualify in a Rally run, the dog-handler team has to lose no more than 30 points, for a score of 70 or better. If you end up with fewer than 70 points, then it’s an NQ. And that’s exactly what we got in Excellent.

According to the judge (whose opinion is the only one that counts), Cooper and I “incorrectly performed” (IP) three stations, each one losing us 10 points. I knew right away that we’d lost the entire 10 points on station 12, when Cooper went around the bar jump instead of jumping over it. I’d been nervous about that one, since he did the same thing on Saturday.

And then I figured that he lost a lot of points on station 13, the Back Up Three Steps, when instead of heeling backwards with me, he just stood and watched while I did the three steps backwards by myself. And he was somewhat distracted, just like on Saturday, and was occasionally out of position and responded slowly some of the time, so I figured we’d lost 25 to 28 points.

So I was not prepared to see an NQ posted on the board. And my friends, who were watching our performance, were equally mystified. Later, after the run was over, I asked the judge about our performance, and it turned out that she’d given us three IPs — the Send to  Jump (station 12), the Back Up Three Steps (station 13), and surprise!, the Stand While Heeling (station 7). I knew that I had paused on station 7 to remind Cooper to stop and stand, but I hadn’t realized that I’d lose all 10 points by doing so.

So, with 30 points lost, plus the one and two points lost here and there for being slow or out of position, we were well under 70. Hence, the NQ.


I felt pretty disappointed. I didn’t want to run in Advanced. I just wanted to go home. I mean, what would be the point? The team has to qualify in both Excellent and Advanced to get an RAE leg, and that wasn’t going to happen.

But my friends (thank you Tammy, Rebecca, and Misalyn) convinced me to stay and run Advanced anyway. It would keep Cooper used to running twice in one day, and I could us it as a training opportunity, repeating any station I wanted to, including the dreaded bar jump. Not to mention, spend more time with my friends.

So what the heck, we stayed.


And what do you know? Cooper did a very nice job. He did a beautiful jump over the bar jump, and he stayed with me most of the time. He sat crisply. It was so strange. It was like his brain had gone on vacation for Excellent, and then come home for Advanced. We got a very nice 92 — best score of the weekend.

No RAE leg, but when I left to go home, I was feeling good.

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