Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reyna And Duncan Go To Europe!

Earlier this month, a board member of the Flemish (Belgian) Breed Association of German Shepherds (V.V.D.H.) contacted me and asked if he could use a picture of Reyna and Duncan with Santa as one of the photo options for the e-cards that can be sent from the association's website. Naturally, I said yes. Who am I to deny the Belgians the joy of Reyna and Duncan?

If you want to check out the e-card, click here, then choose the first option in the drop-down box, and then click the "step 2" button. My beautiful pups are the third option along the top. I'm sure it will come as no surprise when I say that I sent myself an e-card....

And if you can't be bothered with all of that, here's the image:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pick A Card, Any Card

Reyna has been working on learning tricks for the last few weeks, and I'm planning to have her try for her Intermediate Trick Dog title sometime next month. She's been working on things like "paws up" and "say your prayers," along with "where's the cookie" and the "shell game."

A couple of cute pictures from training, working on getting both paws on the board...

And here's an example of the fun we have playing "pick a card." Or not. Really depends on the mood she's in. Let me tell you, she can get really silly with this stuff.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Yes, I'm finally getting around to posting an update on Kodiak. He's doing very well - packing on some weight now that he's eating properly, and I've seen definite improvements in his behavior. He absolutely loves Reyna and Duncan, plays with them as much as possible, and gains a ton of confidence from them.

He's slowly getting better on the leash. He's not as frightened at seeing and feeling someone holding to the other end as he was a week ago. Kodiak doesn't like to walk towards the road end of the cul-de-sac, but he's mostly okay with walking away from the road.

Kodiak is also getting better with people. I've had several folks pop in to visit, and he's less likely to run and hide each time. This morning, in fact, he joined Reyna and Duncan in barking at the visitor. For a few seconds, anyway. I realized today that my visitors have all been female, so I called John and asked him to come by sometime this week. That'll give me a good idea of how he responds to men, and if there's going to be any real trouble there.

New places still shut him down pretty fast, but after multiple trips to the same location, he does show improvement. It helps to have Reyna or Duncan around to show him that the new place is fun.

Kodiak definitely still has some issues to work through. Loud noises frighten him (even ones he's heard several times), and sudden movement worries him quite a bit. He still only comes to me about 75% of the time I call him. The rest of the time, he hides or runs away. I've not figured out what worries him those times that doesn't bother him the rest. He's also still afraid of the dog door, but we've made some progress with that. Until he gets comfortable with it, I'm taking him out every couple of hours. He's decided that he refuses to use the pee pads in his crate, but he'll hold it for several hours if he's confined. The other issue we're working through is an odd one - he'll be fine with something one day, and then terrified of it the next for no reason that I can see. Of course, just because I didn't see what caused the trouble doesn't mean his little puppy brain didn't register something frightening.

Overall, though, I'm really pleased with how far he's come over the last couple of weeks. I'd say he's well on the way to being ready for adoption early next year.

Being a puppy, his cuteness knows no bounds. He has a typical German Shepherd thing going on right now - one ear will stand up, then the other, then they're both up, then one flops, then they both flop. He also bounces like a complete lunatic when he's excited, with his head and his butt both going as fast as possible and with no coordination whatsoever. So cute! Another thing he does is moan and bark when he plays with squeaky toys. Here's proof...

And here's a clip that shows just how patient Reyna is with him. All the noise is Reyna, but she's tolerating everything Kodiak does. Near the end of the clip, Kodiak is actually tugging at her ear, and she doesn't even try to eat him in retaliation.


Duncan had another Rally trial this past weekend (the last one of the year!). Thankfully, this one was in Morrisville, so it was nice and close. Duncan did a great job – he scored a 95 Saturday and a 97 Sunday.

I was pleased with Saturday’s run. The points we lost were for position, but that didn’t surprise me. Duncan seemed a little off to me, and I figured that was due to the high noise level (there were soccer games going on in the arena beside the trial). We actually had the same judge that we’d had for our second run at the trial in November, and I knew she liked to take points for bad position. Even with that, its really hard to complain about a 95 for an Advanced run, and taking 4th place against a whole lot of dogs. In fact, Duncan’s score earned him Reserve High in Rally Trial German Shepherd (he was the GSD with the second highest score for the Rally trial).

Sunday’s run was something else altogether. I know we got a higher score, but I swear it felt like we earned something a lot lower. We fought for every bit of that score. The judge admitted it was a hard course, but that wasn’t really our problem. Duncan was just having an exceptionally bad day. He couldn’t seem to focus on me at all, and he kept wandering off mentally (and a bit physically). It was bad enough that someone who met him the day before commented on how different he was, and two ladies who met us at the trial last weekend also said they could tell he was really off. One said that she couldn’t tell anything wrong the day before, but it was really obvious Sunday. I don’t know what it was, but I hope it never happens again. Regardless of how I felt, though, the judge obviously thought we deserved the score. And that 97 earned Duncan another 4th place and High in Rally Trial German Shepherd, which was pretty cool.

Here we are with the judge who awarded the 97, which also gave Duncan his Rally Advanced title.

Duncan got a lot of loot from this trial. He got two green qualifying ribbons, two white 4th place rosettes, two boxes of cookies and two tug ropes (part of the placement award), a small GSD figure for the Reserve award, and a GSD picture frame for the High Score award.

I'm so proud of my boy for all he's accomplished in the last two months.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Direct Result Of Clean Sheets


Duncan and I had a Rally trial in Winston-Salem this weekend. I was up at 4:00 both days, as we had to be there early. Duncan wasn't too happy about his early morning wake-up calls, but at least he got to nap on the drive. Lucky pup.

We were scheduled to run Novice courses both days, but I was hoping Duncan might qualify on Saturday and earn his Novice title. If that happened, I planned to bump us up to Advanced for Sunday. In anticipation, we'd been practicing Advanced exercises, especially the 90 degree left pivots, jumps, and any that required a lot of sits in a short time.

Duncan totally surpassed my expectations. Not only did he qualify on Saturday (third leg, so that gave us a title), but he qualified with a perfect score of 100! That definitely got him some extra puppy crack. We ended up taking second place for that trial, as there was another dog that also got a score of 100. For tie-breakers, they use the course time, and the other dog ran his course faster than we did, so he took first. But you know what? Thats perfectly fine, because Duncan still got a perfect score!

Here we are with the judge after awards were handed out.

Before we left Saturday, I made sure the show secretary put us in the Advanced group for Sunday. We stopped for lunch on the way home, and I got Duncan a well-deserved cheeseburger. And then he slept the rest of the way. Lucky pup.

Back in Winston-Salem early Sunday morning, we discovered the the Advanced group had been pushed back half an hour. Sigh. After seeing the course, several of us started commiserating about how difficult it was - a 90 degree left pivot, a 180 left pivot, a solid jump (which Duncan had never seen), and, of course, several other exercises. I was most worried about those darn pivots, because its difficult for Duncan to get his large self up and turned around in a really tight space. I told him that if he'd just get some air under his butt, I'd be perfectly happy. He did the 180 pivot just fine, and he got air under his butt for the 90. That meant we only lost three points for that exercise, rather than ten. And he sailed over that solid jump like he'd been doing it for years. For his first ever attempt at an Advanced course, Duncan scored a 95 and took second place (and another cheeseburger on the way home). I'm so proud of him!

Here's Duncan with his loot from this trial - two second place ribbons, two qualifying ribbons, and two toys.

And here he is with his ribbons from the trial in Mebane last month. There was a problem with the ribbons at the show, so they had to mail corrected ribbons to everyone and ours arrived a few days ago. Two first place ribbons and two qualifying ribbons. He also got a place mat and a rope toys as his prizes, but they didn't make it into the picture.

Duncan has another trial coming up this weekend. Thankfully, its in Morrisville and we're not scheduled to run until about 10am, so we'll be able to wake up at a reasonable hour. Paws crossed, Duncan'll qualify both days and earn his Advanced title!

Sunday, December 05, 2010


After getting several suggestions for names, its decided - Fluffernutter's new name is Kodiak.

Kodiak is really settling in nicely, and he definitely enjoys playing with Reyna and Duncan. I can tell that they worry him a bit occasionally, particularly when they both run over to him. He gives as good as he gets, though, and he loves to jump up and lick their faces. Duncan's a bit jealous of him, of course, but Reyna is being extremely tolerant of him. They certainly like Kodiak a lot more than they did Gus.

Mary came over to crop today, and Kodiak got to spend about 6 hours on the couch, wrapped up in Mary's jacket. No, he's not going to be spoiled at all.

I got a few pictures of him yesterday, before and during the snow.

Not sure if Duncan is offering to show Kodiak the ropes or telling him he'd better behave....

These pictures were taken in the late afternoon, but they're still a lot darker than I hoped.

I love this one - Kodiak fell in the snow and got quite a bit stuck in his hair.

Kodiak is still people-shy, and he likes to find a spot to hide when its time to come inside. His favorite place is under the honeysuckle vines along the back fence.


I can't believe it, but it actually snowed yesterday. We ended up with over an inch.

Early afternoon....

Late afternoon...

I'm ready for the snow to be gone now.

Friday, December 03, 2010


Meet my newest foster pup, Fluffernutter. No, thats not really his name. He doesn't actually have one yet, but I have to call him something until he gets a real name. He's a sweet little GSD (with a bit of Chow thrown in) pup, about 12 weeks old, give or take. He was found by an animal control worker a couple of weeks ago, I think. I'll admit, I'm a little fuzzy on the details. What I am clear on is that he was close to feral when she found him. He's doing a lot better now, but definitely needs some work before he can go to his new home. He's adoptable through Southeast German Shepherd Rescue. If you have any ideas on a name, let me know. I think the rescue is going to pick a name from suggestions made by Facebook and blog fans.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor

I have wonderful neighbors (assuming you're ignoring the white trash woman and her druggie friends a few houses down). One of my neighbors has helped me several times with my gardening and yard work, she brings treats for the dogs at least once a week, and this morning she started teaching me how to crochet. Another neighbor had me over for Thanksgiving, has invited me to join her family for Christmas and New Year's, takes me to lunch occasionally, and just brought over a home-cooked dinner. How great is that?

You Gotta Be Kidding Me

Its December, right? I didn't doze off and wake up in mid-March, right? Cause mid-March is when tick season starts around here. I THOUGHT it ended a while back - haven't seen ticks on the dogs since August. Until the other day, that is. Yesterday, I pulled a small tick off of Reyna - it was making its way across her forehead. The day before, I pulled one off her cheek. Unfortunately, that one had taken the time to embed itself and suck a little blood before it died. Since I've not found any ticks on me, they must not be in the yard. The only thing I can figure is that maybe she picked them up while sniffing some of the fresh roadkill during one of our walks. But its ridiculous. Its DECEMBER, for crying out loud. Don't the ticks know they aren't supposed to be bothering us now??

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Glad That's Over

Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't my favorite times of the year (other than the awesome pictures of the pups with Santa Paws, of course), so I'm happy that Thanksgiving week is finally over. I had to work Thursday through Monday at the kennel. Yes, I know a great many people work 5 days in a row, and most work more hours than I did, but I'm just not used to that anymore. Not surprisingly, Reyna's not used to it, either. Some of her old annoying behaviors showed up after a couple of days. It was obvious that she was responding to me not being home, and I'm reasonably sure the resulting lack of exercise also played a role. Reyna's seems to be better tonight, thankfully. I took both pups for 4 mile walks yesterday and today, and she's settling back into her normal behavior.

Just before Thanksgiving, I had some trouble with the ESC - ended up going two weeks with no money. That was rather painful, but everything's been resolved. I think. I also had a go-round with the mortgage company. They denied my loan modification because they couldn't get in touch with me. They finally said that someone had deleted my phone number from my account information. Oddly enough, that wasn't mentioned when I called them on November 5th to talk about the foreclosure letters I'd received and get an update on the modification. Regardless, we settled on a temporary solution, which is a special forbearance that will let me keep the house through the end of May, as long as I jump through the hoops they've specified. In June, we'll revisit all of this. Always something fun to worry about during the holidays...

I was hoping to be able to relax yesterday, but I ended up running several errands. I was trying to find a way to postpone them, but Belle kept screaming about how the cats didn't have any food (and let me tell you, she's a shrieker)and Duncan was whining about how low the pups were on kibble. What choice did I have? After going by Gourmutt's, I went to the dreaded Wal-Mart. Guess how annoyed I was to discover that I had to go by Food Lion after that, too? I spent a good bit of time today on the tax prep class I'm taking (I've really got to get more done with that) - Reyna doesn't really care what I spend my time doing, as long as I'm doing it at home. Tomorrow, the pups have their tricks/rally class, and if I'm feeling really energetic, we might swing by the herding group lesson on the way home. Maybe. Not sure yet. I get my kennel paycheck Friday, and I'm planning to go by Lowe's to get the PVC I need to make a practice jump for Duncan. I'm sure he'll be thrilled when he has to start working on that, but he's got to be comfortable with jumps by the 12th, when I'm hoping he'll be moving up into Advanced at the Rally trial.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Santa Paws 2010

The pups and I continued our Christmas tradition this year - they had their pictures taken with Santa Paws to benefit the SPCA (and give me a great 8x10 for my wall). We went Sunday in the first available slot to minimize the drama. I think the pictures turned out really nice, and I'm leaning towards the next to last for the 8x10. Here are the pictures that the photographer thought were the best, in the order taken:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trick Dogs

Both pups earned their Novice Trick Dog titles last week (the certificates arrived yesterday). To earn the title, the pups had to perform several tricks in front of a witness. The tricks were from a list provided by the organization that sponsors the titles. Tricks are worth one or two points, depending on the difficulty, and 15 points are required for Novice. Reyna is nearly ready to go for her Intermediate title, and I have no doubt that she'll earn her Advanced and Expert Trick Dog titles. Duncan will take longer to get there, but that's okay, since he's working on Rally these days.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Zoom Zoom

I’ve been working with the trainer that Duncan and I met at the Mutt Strut a few weeks ago. I originally contacted her to find out about Rally classes, but decided to take a different route. Instead, Reyna, Duncan and I are doing private lessons with the trainer. Reyna is focusing on tricks and really working her brain, with some physical stuff thrown in for fun. Duncan will eventually start working on tricks, but for now, we’re working on Rally stuff. The pups take turns working, and have a nice carpeted place they can rest during their breaks.

Yesterday was a blast. Reyna showed off her new “which hand has the cookie” and “shell game” tricks, and then started working on putting her paws on my arm and saying her prayers. During her break, Duncan worked on better positioning for Rally and started learning pivots (going right, he can do; left, not so much). Then we pulled out several jumps and the tunnel and started working with those. That’s when Reyna took a real interest in what he was doing. I sent Duncan over to rest for a bit, and Reyna came flying out of the rest area. She was running between me and the trainer, bowing and bouncing and bounding and zooming around the room. Popping through the tunnel, sometime going over the jumps, sometimes going around the jumps. Back and forth, around and around. This went on for several minutes. She was so happy, and so clearly enjoying herself. I haven’t seen her act like that in years, and I couldn’t help but grin the entire time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Boy!

Duncan had his first ever Rally Obedience trial this past weekend. We drove to Mebane Friday and Saturday evenings for the Triangle Shetland Sheepdog Club show. Yes, I know Duncan isn’t a Sheltie, but they had Rally trials for Herding Group dogs as part of the show. I figured it would be a good first try, since the Herding Group trial wasn’t going to be huge.

The best I was really hoping for was that we’d qualify, although I’d have also settled for not horribly embarrassing ourselves. Duncan really impressed me, though. He did a great job, scoring 93 (out of 100) and taking first place in his group both nights. He earned two legs towards his AKC Rally Novice title. The poor boy, he doesn’t know what he’s done to himself. After all, if he can do that well on his first time out, just think what he can accomplish with some practice and experience! We need to work on his position, as he likes to swing out a bit, but that’s certainly fixable. Our next goal is the Rally trial in Winston-Salem in mid-December. It would be great if he could get his third leg and title that weekend!