Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Yesterday, Russ was noodling about, trying to design some demonstrations for the beginning Photoshop class he was preparing to teach that night. Something fun that also demonstrated the skills he was planning to teach.

He came up with these two “trading cards,” done in the style of comic book printing.

I am envisioning “stats” on the back:

  • Age (Cooper – 4.5 years; Tooey — 2.5 years)
  • Dam and Sire (Cooper — Nova x Balloo; Tooey — Dora x Woody)
  • Breeder (Cooper — Rosemary; Tooey — Judith)
  • Titles earned (Cooper — SHR, CH, JH, RN, FDX, CGC, WC; Tooey — CH, RN)
  • Relationship status (Cooper has a live-in girlfriend without “benefits”; Tooey has someone willing to be bossed around)
  • Favorite activity (Cooper — retrieving anything, specializing in ducks, bumpers, tennis balls, bath towels, and socks; Tooey — swimming)
  • Ambitions (Cooper — to get someone to throw something; Tooey — to get someone to take her swimming)
  • Current challenge (Cooper — to sit and stay even when things are being thrown; Tooey — to hold a bird without dropping it)

Read Full Post »

The fact that I don’t know my right from my left is not usually a problem. Oh, yeah, I might say the wrong direction when giving driving instructions. Or I might put the dish in the right hand cabinet after being told to put it in the left cabinet. But anything like that can simply re-done. No big deal.

But as I discovered in last Sunday’s Obedience fun match, that is not so easily done in an Obedience competition.

Take a look at the performance in the YouTube video below:

In this video, you can hear the judge say “left turn” or “right turn,” and then see the dog and handler execute the specified turn perfectly and without hesitation. In fact, this performance won a perfect score of 200.

In contrast, during Team Cooper’s turn in the fun match on Sunday, the judge said “left turn.” I then stopped in my tracks for a couple of beats to try to figure out which way is left. Cooper then also stopped and sat, which is what the dog is supposed to do when the handler stops.

But really, neither of us was supposed to stop. We were supposed to keep going and turn left together. And more frustrating, this happened every single time the judge said either “left turn” or “right turn.”

If that had been in a real Obedience trial, I suspect we would have NQ’d (not qualified). Sigh…

I need to work on it, probably on my own without Cooper so I don’t confuse the boy. But after many several decades of not knowing my right from the left… I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll get Russ out there with me to play judge, and when I do it right, I get a treat. That’s it! Positive reinforcement might just work for the handler, too.

Read Full Post »

You know how you can’t help yourself when something horrible is happening? You have to watch: car wrecks on the road, scenes of destruction, videos of natural disasters and violence. That’s how I felt last night.

Last night, we noticed that Cooper had begun licking and chewing on one of his toes. That can mean only one thing — another nail is broken or about to break. I got down on the floor to watch. After he was done with that session, I belatedly wished I had had a video camera. It was horrible, and I was fascinated.

A nail had indeed split. But the quick must have died awhile ago because his licking and chewing didn’t seem to hurt. He even let me touch the nail briefly. But what was really, horribly fascinating was that he was trying to pull the nail completely off. He’d grab it and pull, but since the nail wouldn’t let go, the nail would pull out of his mouth and his foot hit the carpet with a thud. He did this, over, and over, and over.

There’s no video, but Russ did take some pictures. The badly broken nail is on the index toe of his left front foot. You can also see the nail next to it is is hollow and chipped at the tip, splitting along the bottom, and with a gray crumbly quick.

left front index and 2nd toe, from the front

left front index and 2nd toe, from the inside

I hate this disease SLO. He’s been doing so well for several months. And now this.

But is Cooper upset? Or wanting to change his routine? Or putting off the joys of today? No.

Put that mouse down, and throw the ball!

He’s a real inspiration, that boy.

Read Full Post »

I was so enamored when I saw the pictures of Cooper’s sisters, Darcy and Tosca. I just loved the way that Louise and Pepi have trimmed their topknots and ears. So easy to maintain. So practical for a field dog.

Darcy, photo by Louise Bailey

Tosca, photo © Pepi Barrington

So, I wanted to try it on Cooper. Colleen once again agreed to help me out. Actually, she did most all of the work. And I think it turned out pretty darn good.

Cooper with new hairdo

When I got home from Colleen’s, I asked Russ what he thought of it. Diplomat that he is, Russ just said, “Well, you’re the one who grooms him.”

Okay, I get it. Not Russ’s favorite. And I have to admit it was a shock looking at him for the first several days. It’s really different from how he looked for his birthday photo. But it’s growing on me. It’s really growing on me.

And the real test will be next Sunday, when he’s out hunting for pheasant and chukar. I’m betting it will be much easier to get out all the debris and mats out of the new ‘do. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Read Full Post »

It has been a dry couple of months for Cooper, with only land training since duck season closed at the end of January. Finally, temperatures are getting above 50 (it was in the 20s just 10 days ago), so it is suitable for water training.

Today, Cooper was looking photogenic in the sun and pretty proud of himself with a duck. So I made yet another photo of my boy.

Water training is really important, even when the dog has a solid retrieve on land. Dogs don’t generalize well, so just because he knows how to do something in one environment, doesn’t mean he’ll know to do the same thing in another environment.

For water retrieves, the dog has to be willing to jump into the water (even when cold or slimy), retrieve the duck, and swim back to the handler with it. Cooper has had water work before, so the basic concept is not completely new to him.

Tooey’s a different story. She loves the water and loves to swim, but she hasn’t had the discipline of having to go out into the water, retrieve, and come back consistently.

So in just a couple of days she’s going off to California (where it’s sunny and warm) with Butch to do some daily water work. All this in preparation for her first hunt test in just under a month.

We will miss seeing our girl every weekend, but it’ll be good experience for her.

Read Full Post »

As of March 1st, 2011, the American Kennel Club will allow Irish Water Spaniels to compete in AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests. Up until last week, the only AKC-sanctioned hunt tests Cooper could compete in were the Retriever series. Now we have the best of both worlds.

Cooper in Retriever mode, waiting for a duck

Yesterday was a day of retriever training, and we passed a milestone for Cooper and myself. The scenario was a land triple-marked retrieve into moderate cover, averaging about 100 yards each. Then there was a cold blind retrieve. It was in line with the second land mark but with an additional 200 yards, including crossing a ditch with cover and running up a hill (300 yds total).

After Cooper ran the triple, I sent him on the blind. He shot out past the old fall and made it to the ditch, where I stopped him with a whistle sit because he was getting off line. With only one back-cast, he turned slightly to the left and went across the ditch and up the hill to find the bumper. Whoa . . . who trained this Spaniel to become a Retriever? As you may have read on this blog in the past, this has not been an easy skill for Cooper to absorb.

So now that he is becoming a proficient Retriever, it is time to train him to become a Spaniel on command. This morning I took him out, and we threw marks into some moderately heavy cover. No problem. Then we added some sit-to-flush drills. Again, no problem.

The next Spaniel drill was to hide bumpers with attached pheasant wings in the cover. I lined him up, pointing him in the general direction, but with the command of “dead hunt.” Off he went like on a blind retrieve, but when he got to area where a bumper was hidden, I called out “go find it.” The Spaniel gene kicked in, the nose went down, and he circled the cover until he came up with the prize. It was a hoot to watch him find, pause, rev the tail up, and lunge. If it had been a live bird, the flush would have been exciting.

Cooper in Spaniel mode, after finding a faux pheasant in the grass

In addition to getting ready for some Spaniel Hunt Tests, we are joining our Boykin friends in two weeks for a late season upland hunt in central Oregon. So we have two weeks to get him reved up to become a hunting Spaniel. And then the following Saturday, Cooper will compete in the season’s first AKC Retriever test (at the senior level). We will see if Cooper’s Spaniel/Retriever brain can keep it all sorted out. Fun will be had for sure, hopefully a few birds, and everything else will be a bonus.

Read Full Post »

Team Cooper got more fan mail — a fun postcard of the Dogs of Ireland. And it has a mystery on it!

published by Bell'acards, Whitegate, Co. Clare

Note that the translation into Irish of “The Irish Water Spaniel” is “Spanner Uisce”.

“Irish” is not translated. These being dogs of Ireland, there’s no need to put “Irish” in there. (Now, those other water spaniels — of course, they would need the additional label. Of course. Ahem…)

Now, I’ve figured out that “uisce” means “water.” It also sounds like it’s related to “whiskey.” If you go to a site like this one, you can hear how it’s pronounced. To my uneducated American ears, “uisce” sounds kind of like “ishkeh,” which kind of sounds like “whiskey.” At least to me — this may be wishful thinking.

But, having searched around on Google, I can’t find this use of “spanner” anywhere. I used some translation engines to translate “water spaniel,’ and they just translate “spaniel” as “spaniel,” so I get “spaniel uisce.”

So what’s “spanner”? That’s the mystery. Anyone know?

Read Full Post »

It was a long day. A really long day, spent in a dusty horse arena. Hundreds of dogs showed in competition obedience and Rally in that arena, and as they moved around the rings, dust flew everywhere, particles of whatever is left behind in the dirt of a horse arena getting into our noses and mouths.

Gave me a headache.

And it blew Cooper’s mind.

All those delicious scents of horse. And the smells of all the hundreds of dogs, and the allure of dropped training treats that other handlers were using outside of the ring to pump their dogs up before going in.

Mostly, as a management technique, I had Cooper hang out in his crate. But a couple of times, I got him out to see if we could practice a bit — he’s crooked on his come to front. Instead of coming in and then sitting perpendicularly in front of me, he sits with his butt cocked to my left, anticipating that I’m going to ask him to heel. I also took him outside several times, one time to just run for 20 minutes to get some of that energy out of his system.

But I could not get the boy’s mind to stay in his head. His mind was in his nose, on the horse-and-dog-rich dirt.

I was sure I was going to be texting to Russ: “Butthead NQ” — meaning that Cooper couldn’t concentrate and we didn’t qualify.

So we waited. And after almost 4 hours of waiting, we went in for our 1.5 minutes in the Rally Novice ring.

And somehow, the boy put it together for that 1.5 minutes. He got distracted by dogs outside the ring a couple of times. He didn’t sit quite square a couple of times. Fortunately, I didn’t make any handler errors. We came out of the ring with a score of 90 (70 or above is a qualifying score). I was very happy with that score. And relieved.

So we got our third ribbon, and Cooper can now add to RN to the end of his name. SHR Ch. Realta Rosario Cooper CGC, FdX, JH, WC, RN.

scores for each leg: 94, 86, and 90

Read Full Post »

A challenge was posted: Write limericks about your Irish Water Spaniels. Seemed appropriate — Irish limericks for Irish dogs.

So I gave it a try for my two:

Cooper’s a hunter worthwhile,
Loves water, and pheasants beguile,
Retrieves undeterred,
To your hand brings a bird,
But makes his own rule as to style.

Tooey gives hugs and sweet kisses
To favorite misters and misses.
But from Cooper the toys
She steals and destroys
As if that’s a girl’s routine business.

Read Full Post »

If you have followed this blog for a while, you probably have seen quite a few examples of Cooper’s willingness to accommodate my photographic whims by sitting and posing for the camera or canvas. Once more he has lent his visage for this illustration.

One of my day jobs is teaching at the Art Institute of Portland. When I develop my lesson plans and projects for my students, I often dip into my archives of personal and commercial images as source material to explore ideas for future assignments.

For next week’s Digital Image Illustration class, we’re going to practice photo-composing disparate elements from two or more photos, so I needed to build an example to show my class of photo students.

One of the shots from a recent photo shoot with Cooper provided one element. A photo of Mt. Rushmore provided the other.

So I am actually getting paid to make cute pictures of my pet dog. How good is that!

Read Full Post »

Tooey has been with Butch at Parkdale Kennels for (a long) 2.5 months now, and I think he must have been feeding her — she grew out so much coat!

(Also, as a side note, I really know he’s been feeding her because she’s fat. I understand that problem completely. Too bad I don’t have a kennel manager who can simply cut back my ration of kibbles.)

The night before we took her to Parkdale, we gave Tooey a very close field clip, leaving her beard and enough coat on her ears and topknot so that she looked like an Irish Water Spaniel. Last time we were there, a couple of weeks ago, I could see that cut had grown out. A lot.

So this morning, I arrived at the kennel early, armed with clippers, scissors, a comb, and a slicker brush. Boy, did she need a trim. I wanted to make sure that she wouldn’t get knots in behind her ears and in her armpits any more easily than necessary, and Butch wanted to be able to see her eyes.

Tooey didn’t particularly want to be brushed or combed or clipped. She hasn’t been on a grooming table all this time except to get brushed out before her monthly bath. She is completely out of the habit of being calm on the table, getting combed, brushed, combed, brushed, and trimmed. Pretty much, she wanted to look at me and lick my face. That was sweet for the first few minutes, and then totally not helpful.

I had only an hour before the training session started. Russ helped by holding her in place, and by brushing while I was clipping. We were pretty rushed at the end, so I don’t have any pictures of her with her new ‘do. She looks OK — about 3/4″ long all over her legs and body. Following Renae’s advice, I also shaved off most of Tooey’s beard.

And I cut the topknot must shorter, especially around her face, so Butch can see her eyes. He said he knows what the dog is thinking and whether she’s paying attention by looking in the eyes. I believe it. Glad I could help.

Read Full Post »

Cooper at 14 weeks

We asked for a pet, and we got Cooper. Like other excited puppy “parents,” we sent lots and lots of pictures to Rosemary. When Cooper was about 14 weeks old, Rosemary sent us an email saying something like, I think we sent you a show dog.

Rosemary told me that Cooper would get his championship easily, Tammy said she would help, and I had a lot of encouragement from other friends and owners of Irish Water Spaniels. So I agreed to Cooper’s being shown and going for it.

It took 3 years, 4 months, and 29 days. If I had known how long getting Cooper’s championship would take or how hard it would be, I wonder — would I have started down that path?

Cooper and Tammy (middle)

Cooper’s first conformation show was the 2007 IWSCOPS Specialty when he was just 6 months old. Tammy groomed and showed him. (His armband number was 13 — that should have told us something.) He did 2nd in his puppy class. That wasn’t so bad. And all Russ and I had to do was watch. (We also had to hide so that Cooper wouldn’t see us and be distracted).

Jayme, Cooper, and Patrice

It took 10 months of showing for him to get any points. He got his first two points, having been groomed by Tammy again and shown by a professional handler, at the Canby dog show in June, 2008.

Since then, Cooper’s record has been mixed. He came in dead last a couple of times and placed reasonably well other times. He even got Reserve Winners Dog at an IWSCOPS Specialty.

But sometimes he behaved like a twit who couldn’t stand still, or jerked his way around the ring. A couple of times he even jumped over the ring gates and out of the ring. Once he broke a borrowed show lead trying to get away. Another time he pissed on my skirt while waiting at ringside. Sometimes his coat was thin and lifeless, or the winning dog had bigger bone, a squarer muzzle, or just presented better.

Patrice and Cooper, photo by Liz Liddle

But other times, he won. His coat wasn’t always long, having been cut down for field work, but when it was curly, lush, and glossy, and he moved beautifully — then he’d be eye catching, showing off all the drive and reach needed by a dog who needs to swim powerfully to do his work as a water retriever.

On the negative side, I discovered new depths of stage fright. When I get into the show ring, I stop breathing, my mouth dries up, my heart pounds, I get tunnel vision. And while I got to be able to groom my Irish Water Spaniels reasonably well, I have never figured out how to bring out Cooper’s best features. The best I could do was to get him pretty close, and then find someone to do the finishing touches. And having to find that someone and ask for that favor was always a source of sleep-destroying stress that kept me awake many a night.

Cooper and Colleen

Cooper and Rebecca

On the plus side, I had a LOT of help. Tammy and Jayme both helped me with advice and training. Tammy, Colleen, Jayme, and Rebecca were often willing to groom Cooper to his best advantage. Tammy always made at least some time for Cooper while she was getting her two IWS ready for the ring. A couple of times, Jayme had Cooper live with her for several weeks so that she could train him, groom him, and then show him for me. Colleen made herself available more times than I can remember. And then when I decided to show him myself, I got a lot of free (and welcome) advice from people who had been doing it a lot longer than I have.

Fortune comes into this, too. Cooper was born within 3 days of the current #1 Irish Water Spaniel in America. Since we live in the same region as that dog, we showed against him many times. Cooper never won those competitions. It’s a hard thing to do, to go into a dog show knowing you’re probably going to lose. But as I’ve discovered, dog shows and dog show judges are not predictable — sometimes you lose when you’re certain yours is the better dog, and sometimes you win when you think you have no chance.

Chance did come into it again, and changed everything. With such historically mixed results, I had just about decided to quit. But then Colleen asked if I’d send Cooper down to California to create a major.

I knew that Mowgli, Cooper’s littermate, was going and needed a major. Tammy had been such a help to me that I wanted to return the favor. But if Cooper was going to California, I wasn’t going to send him down — I thought I’d go for a fun road trip with my friends, take Cooper and Tooey, and show them myself. Cooper’s coat was in a very short field clip, but a “point fodder” dog doesn’t need to look good. He just has to be there. So we went, and Mowgli did indeed take the major the first two days.

Cooper, after his first major win, photo by Holloway

And then it happened. Cooper took the 3rd day’s major. I was so shocked my mouth fell open. Literally. I was completely unprepared for this development. Because, damn. With one major and 11 points, we had to keep going. All he needed was one more major and 4 more points.

Saturday, when Cooper won Winners Dog and Best of Winners, winning the 2nd major he needed to get his championship, I started to cry. The judge even asked me if was OK. I could hardly wait to call Russ and Rosemary and hug Tammy. The honor his win gives to Cooper’s dam (Rosemary’s Nova) and his sire (Tammy’s Balloo) pleases me very much. Cooper has always been my Pretty Boy, a dog with great reach and drive, and I am so happy that he had the title that recognizes that: Champion.

At the same time, I feel like a heavy burden has been lifted off my shoulders. Standing at ringside on Sunday, watching the other Irish Water Spaniels compete, I told Colleen, “I’m never going to do this again.”

She laughed. “Famous last words,” she said.

So, if I had known in the beginning that it would take this long, but that it would feel this good at the end, would I have started down that path? I still don’t know.

And will I do this again? I’d like to think not.

But I have discovered that what I think I will do and what I actually do are often not the same thing. So, who knows? (And as my friend Alan used to say, “Who is not telling.”)

Read Full Post »

We did it!

Cooper, 1st in AOH class, Winners Dog, and Best of Winners, plus two Rally Novice qualifying scores, Rose City Classic, 2011

Yesterday, Cooper took 1st in the Amateur-Owner-Handler class (not hard, since he was the only one in that class). That turned out to provide a kind of a good omen. After we ran around the ring for the last time in that class, the judge pointed her finger at Cooper and said, “You are #1.” I thought (but didn’t say aloud), “Please, just keep that comment in mind …”

Then he went back into the ring to compete against the other dog, where he took Winners Dog. (Perhaps the judge read my mind.) After all the bitches were judged and the Winners Bitch chosen, we went back into the ring and took Best of Winners, winning over the Winner’s Bitch. And because he did that, he gets at least the number of points that the Winner’s Bitch got.

And (this is the best part), this was a major for bitches. Meaning that there were a significant number of bitches competing, enough to earn the winner 3 points.

To get a championship, a dog has to have a total of 15 points including 2 majors. Cooper got his first major down in California last October, and Saturday’s win gave him his 2nd major and his 15 point total.

All this means that Cooper is finished. He got his championship, and we never have to go into the conformation ring again.

Always a retriever

We also competed in Rally Novice B. That was fun. I like Rally — if you qualify with a passing score enough times, you get the title. You don’t have to compete against other dogs to win. We got a score of 94 (out of 100) on Saturday, which is really amazingly well, given that Cooper has practiced in a realistic practice ring only a couple of times. Mostly we’ve been practicing in the kitchen and living room.

Sunday in the Rally ring, he was goofy. Russ had come to watch, and Cooper knew that Russ was there. So Cooper kept losing his concentration on the task, looking for Russ as we moved around the Rally course. (And this is exactly why I asked Russ not to come on Saturday — I was afraid Cooper would lose his concentration in the conformation ring.)

We earned a score of 86 on Sunday, but he passed. So now we just need one more qualifying score for Cooper to earn his Rally Novice (RN) title.

Here’s a video of our second Rally run:

Read Full Post »

This week, Cooper has been getting ready for his 3rd appearance at the Rose City Classic dog show here in Portland, Oregon. He is one win away from his AKC Championship, providing that his final win is a major competition.

So several times this week, he has been going from field training in the driving rain and mud, to the dog wash and grooming station. In order to document his clean coat and show cut, I took him into the studio for a portrait session. Afterward, of course, we stopped off for another training session on the way home and one more bath before he hits the ring tomorrow.

He is such a good dog to work with as a model, I thought that I would set up a small video camera and just record a typical photo shoot with the Coop.

Here is a sample of one of the photos that Cooper and I made together (we are a team).

If he wins a major this weekend, then this coat will get trimmed way down so he can just be a hunting dog. If this actually happens, Patrice will be making a significant blog post, as it has been over 3 years of going to dog shows, gradually accumulating enough points for this final milestone.

And if he doesn’t pull it off this weekend, then the coat stays and we look for some more dog shows — majors only. Stay tuned.

Read Full Post »

The Lower Columbia HRC had a training day today in cold but sunny weather. The training scenarios were set up to simulate the land series of an HRC hunt test. (Way too cold for a water series.) Our house entered two teams — Team Cooper and Team Tooey.

And, no doubt about it, hunt tests are a team sport. Team Cooper did really well.

Cooper was a rocket on a triple retrieve with a fourth diversion bird, plus a blind retrieve. First he marked the fall of three birds, and then went out and back to deliver each one, one at a time. Zoom, zoom, out and back. Then, as he was coming back in with the third bird, they threw a close-in diversion bird. The trick with a diversion bird is that the dog has to notice where it falls, but not to drop his current bird or divert his progress back in to deliver it. Then he has to go back out, fetch the diversion bird, and bring it back, too.

Then there was the blind. It was a real blind today, not a sight blind like we’ve been working recently. In a real blind, the handler knows where the bird is, but the dog doesn’t. (If it were a sight blind, the dog would have a visual clue like a white flag, to suggest the location of the bird.) The handler lines the dog up in heel position with nose pointing at where the bird is, and sends him.

Ideally, the dog goes out in a straight line until he finds the bird, fetches it, and then brings it back. The dog has to do this on faith, and that’s hard. It’s also hard to ignore the presence of paths, hillocks, ditches, bushes, and other things that a dog would prefer to go around, rather than straight through.

If the dog deviates from a straight line, he’s likely to miss the bird. So, the handler has to “handle” the dog — using whistles and hand signals to first stop the dog at a position chosen by the handler and then tell the dog which direction to go to find the bird. Cooper did need some handling to correct his course. But this is an achievement for Cooper because he understood and obeyed the handling and because he didn’t “pop,” which is to stop on his own and wait for directions.

Good boy, Cooper. And good job, Team Cooper.

Team Tooey did not do so well. Clearly, Tooey and I both need more training.

With me handling today, Tooey would not pick up her birds. She heeled nicely to the line. At the line, she marked the fall of her bird, went out when I sent her, and found it. But, darn it, she didn’t pick the bird up. Instead came back to me without it. This is bad.

I corrected her, lined her up, and sent her back out. She did go out, but veered off the straight line quite a bit. She re-found and picked up the bird, and then came back to me, but very slowly. And she didn’t want to come back to the heel position, where she had been corrected before. If I had been thinking more quickly, I would have moved my body so that the spot on the ground where she had been corrected was not the same spot as the heel position.

On her second bird, the first time it was thrown, she missed her mark (didn’t see the bird fall). So the bird boy threw another bird. She saw this one fall, went out, hunted around for it a bit, and then brought it back.

Good girl! What a relief. When I think about it now, I wish I had had a nice treat to reward this retrieve with. Something more valuable to her than just a “Good!” Lots of trainers don’t hold with this, and I don’t know what Butch thinks about it. But it seems like a good idea to me.

Tooey and I then took a short break to trim her topknot so she could see (you can see the problem in the last picture of yesterday’s blog entry). Then it was back to the line, this time with Butch handling. With Butch, she did fine. Mark the first fall, out, fetch the bird, bring it back. Mark the second, out, fetch the bird, back.

Clearly, I need training so that I can support my dog when she loses the thread of things. I’ll make sure I get it so that Team Tooey can succeed.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: