Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hemi's agility class

Week 3 of agility class with Hemi. They went over the tunnels and weaves, and started with a baby tire. The weaves were pulled about 1 1/2' wide. Hemi really had the idea and was putting his head down. They did some "baby" sequences, and Hemi was the star of the class! I just included the sequences, so as not to have too long of a video.

Once again, there was a female in season, but Hemi put his nose to the grindstone and never looked back. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Old School

Well, a friend sent me an e-mail about being a girl in the 70's. It was meant as a cruel way to remind some of how old we are by bringing up things like roller skates with real metal wheels, the slip n slide, and Holly Hobby. So, I got to looking at some old family photos.
(Man, did you just feel the giant sucking sensation created by each member of my family as they begin to mentally flip through the files of photos, trying to figure out which piece of black mail material I'm pulling out of the archives? Hold on while I turn up the heat and tie down the dogs!)

(Aren't they cute? Dad and his younger brother. See- I inherited my love for dogs)

Anyway, I remember when I went through and scanned a lot of these photos for my parent's 50th wedding anniversay 2 years ago. I thought I'd post a couple of my favorites for public fodder.

(an extended family photo from Dad's younger days.)

(the early days)

(another early family photo)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Aaarrrghh, the Dreaded Coat Change

Few things strike fear in the heart of show poodle owners more so than the dreaded coat change. That wonderful pit stop on the way to poodle maturity that consists of mats and knots that suddenly appear out of thin air.

Imagine sitting in front of the tv, comb in one hand, conditioning spray in the other, coming through poodles coat. Picking at knots behind the ears, on the chest, the back of the neck, etc., etc., etc. You spend an hour, and can finally get the comb all the way through his lovely silver locks. He stands up, shakes, and voila! The knots are back! EEK!

You would think we would have learned from the first time we went through this. But, no. We decided to do it again...WHEEEEEEE

So, last week, I spent 3 days coming through Hemi, got all the knots out and gave him a bath. Today, approximately a week later, his knots are back, bigger than ever!

So, I'm off to pick at knots. Again!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Customer Dis-service?

Okay, just gotta tell this. First, some background. I got a couple of e-mails from a friend of mine last week. We were replying back and forth on 2 different subjects. (She's had the same e-mail as long as I've known her- at least 4 years) Upon responding to one of her e-mails, I get it kicked back saying, "My Friend does not have an e-mail account with". Ooooookay, so I send her a new message to inform her I got that one back. It goes through fine. So, I try forwarding the other message, pulling her address from my address book- it stil comes back. She calls, they say they're doing service on the lines, and it should be cleared up in about 45 minutes. So, I just decide to wait it out. E-mails start going through fine.

Well, this morning, I reply to one that we've been back and forth with about 20 times, and it comes back with the same message. So, frustrated, My Friend contacts customer service. That conversation went something like this: (oh, and some names have been changed to protect the innocent AND the guilty!)

Thank you for contacting AT&T Internet Services, my name is Customer Service. One moment while I review your information.

My Friend: okay

Customer Service: I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused and I will do my best to assist you with this issue. The agent is sending you to
Customer Service: Please click on the link.

My Friend: i've clicked on the link
My Friend: they are replying to emails i sent
My Friend: they are in my address book
My Friend: i have not blocked them
My Friend: i have not enabled mail forwading
My Friend: they get notices saying i don't have an account
My Friend: i reported this friday and got told it was a maintenance period
My Friend: it's still happening

Customer Service: Let me try to send you wn email address.
Customer Service: May I have your email address please.

My Friend: My

Customer Service: Thank you.

My Friend: you are welcome

Customer Service: Your e-mail to the Member was successfully sent to My at 1/28/2008 12:30:53 PM PST

My Friend: the people are only having this problem some of the time. one emailed me friday and had the bounce and then later friday it didn't. then she emailed me saturday and sunday fine. now today she's getting the bounce again, on a chain of emails we sent back and forth replying to each other. so one email going through does not prove it's fixed. why does some computer think i don't have an account?

Customer Service: I already provided you all the possible causes why you cant receive their emails.
Customer Service: if you want check their email addresses if they are on your Block addresses list.

Okay, there's more, but you get the idea. (and, don't ask me why I chose a Christmas Theme for my colors!)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lone Star Poodle Club Courses

Well, this weekend was Gene's first judging assignment. For my friends who couldn't be there (Or were in excellent), I thought I'd post a couple of his courses. The first one is his Novice Standard from today- the rep really liked this course. His Q rate was low, which surprised them all. The rep said he couldn't have given the group a nicer course. (He got really high marks for course design at the test.)

The other course I decided to post was his Open JWW course from yesterday. It was, by far, my favorite course of his from this group. We actually set up a couple of these courses a while back at our training facility and ran our two dogs on them, just to see how they ran.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"But I wanna help!"

My mother always chastises me for having so many dogs. "You don't need that many dogs in your house!" Of course, when people waltz about town with 3 or 4 kids in tow, the reaction is so totally different. "Awww, aren't they cute?" Well, no. Not really. Now, before I get the hate mail, let me further explain myself.

I see it all the time. They come in dragging 3 or 4 stairstep kids behind them, because "The kids are going to help wash the dog!" But, I know better. No matter how good the intentions, it always ends the same, there's screaming, fighting, and eventually tears. And, I hate it, because I really shouldn't cry at work!
Mom and Dad walk through the door, usually with a lab or a golden in tow. We got the dog strapped into the tub, and where are the kids? They're swinging on the gate, popping each other with the towels, and pulling all the grooming tools off the table, asking "What's this for?" Little Johnny, intrigued with the shedding blade, tries it on his little sister, just to see if it works! Upon hearing the screeching coming from Little Janie, Mom says, "Why don't you come help."

The kids go running to the tub, and demand to take possession of the hose, at which point they immediately spray down the walls, their mother, me, everything BUT the dog. Mom, looking somewhat sheepish, repossesses the hose and continues to wash the dog. The kids, once again unmonitored, go back to playing with the equipment.

When the bath is done, out comes the dryer. Kids once again flock to the tub, each wanting their turn at drying. The mother, thinking this will be safer than the water, hands the hose to the oldest child. The kids start pushing and shoving, each demanding their turn, which causes the eldest to drop the hose, which begins to flop around on the floor. (If you've ever seen the cartoons where the fireman lets go of the hose and it fishtails around on the ground, hosing everything down- imagine that force, only of air.) The air blows the clock off the wall, hits the youngest child in the knees, dropping him to the floor, causing him to start crying. The other two dive on the hose as it blows under the tub and dog hair bursts into the air like a yellow fog.

Once we manage to regroup and get the dryer under control, mother once again sends the kids off to play. Little Janie grabs the nail clippers and tries to pry them open to see how they work. The little one, once again, is hanging on the gate as Little Johnny pushes him back and forth like a swing.

Giving up before the dog is even halfway dry, Mom chains him to the fence in order to brush off the dead hair. Once again, the dog is bombarded by the three kids, with a grooming tool in each hand, comprising of 2 slicker brushes, a pin brush, a shedding blade, a comb and an undercoat rake. The poor dog looks at me, begging for help. Little Johnny manages to cut himself and the other 2 kids with the shedding blade. Once again, there's screaming. (But, luckily, no blood.)

Now comes our favorite part of the whole trip- the nails! Mom holds the dog still so I can cut the nails. Every time I cut, the dog jumps, and little Janie screams, "Your hurting her!" To which mother and I both say, "No, we're not. She just doesn't like this." The dog, in the meantime, also screams, reacting to Little Janie. The whole nail process takes ten times longer than it should because we have to calm down the dog AND the children between each and every toenail!

Finally, mother and children are ready to leave. Dad, who has been sitting in the chair upfront only stands to interfere when it's time to pay. When the clan is safely packed into the mini-van, I turn back to the shop, which looks like a plague of locusts whipped through. Every grooming tool in the shop is dirty and littered on the floor, the tables, the tubs. Most of the towels are on the floor (even the clean ones). There is dog hair hanging from the ceiling. With a heavy sigh, I begin the process of clean up.

Meanwhile, back at home, my 4 poodles are sound asleep on the couch.

So, you tell me. Is having 4 kids better than having 4 dogs?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pack Dynamics Part IV (The final addition)

As Kyra started slowing on some on course, we started doing the math. Hopefully, Kyra will be doing agility for at lease another 4 years. But can we be sure? Of course not. So, Gene started his search for his next dog. With the help of Becky, we came across and entered into an agreement to co-own our new beautiful silver rocket, aka Hemi. (I won't bore you with the details.)

If I had to describe this little fuzzball in only 1 word, it would GOOFBALL! Nothing else even comes close! He came into the house, a little timid, and unsure of his surroundings. The Queen quickly informed him of her position in the household, and he has not felt the need to even discuss that arrangement. Poor Kyra, however, seems always relegated to be the bottom of the pack. She has put up a little bit of resistance, but I tell ya, she just doesn't have the stones it takes to ever be anything but a bottom feeder. Not that there is anything wrong with this, she is quite happy with her place, and it has served her well. Boo, however, has taken him under his wing, er, rosette, and the two have become fast and furious friends. I get tickled to see the two of them.

Well, actually, Hemi thinks his big brother Boo is the neatest thing since Pupperoni. Boo, on the other hand, is a very tolerant sibling. Almost motherly to the little guy. I had nightmares about two intact males in the household, but as you can see from the photo above, no problems here! Hemi doesn't sit still often, so this photo will probably be the only one we can get like this until he's old and grey. (Or, old and white as the case may be!)

Hemi is the easiest going dog in the house. Nothing bothers him. He is always wanting to learn new things, and has taught himself how to do the teeter. (And often times uses it as a warm-up exercise for his morning duty. He is also handy with hand tools! (Told ya poodles were smart!)

Hem is currently training in obedience, agility, and some conformation. He took best puppy in show at his first ever Novice Puppy UKC show. As you can see from the photo, he still has much maturing to do. He really has a great structure, great temperament, and a zest for just being a general nut! He will come running into the kitchen, do a "Risky Business" slide, slam into the counters at full speed, and just keep going. (This usually occurs when he's trying to catch up to Boo, either for a potty session, or a play session.)

Despite his deep attachment to his older brother, he is also a very loving dog, and just LOVES being in your lap.

Pack Dynamics Part III

One day after a show, Gene was all smiles, as Kyra had another one of "those" weekends where she won everything in site. Hershey, on the other hand, managed to once again embarrass myself. Leaping off of contacts, refusing to down on the table, just basically being her dominant "I don't have to listen to you because I'm the queen" attitude. We're sitting in the car on the way home, my lap full of Gene and Kyra's ribbons. Before driving off, Gene turns to me and says, "Your dad's a runner, that's his hobby. If his shoes don't work, he gets new shoes. Agility is your hobby, I think it's time for you to get new equipment. I think you need a new dog." He didn't have to tell me twice!

So, we set out to try and avoid all of the mistakes we made with our first two. (As so many of us do.) I found Becky with Anutta Poodles at and fell in love with Merlot. After talking to her, I find out that Merlot and Tori have made an accidental breeding. I got my wish- a dog from the sire I fell in love with. I was able to meet Becky and her poodles shortly after the breeding, and then again about a month after pups were born. Boo was eventually chosen from the litter. Here's a photo of my little boy at 6 weeks.
We had just moved into a new house and were able to bring him home New Year's eve. He picked me out at roughly 4 weeks when we visited the pups, and made it official when we went to pick him up. Becky and Boo were in the front yard trying to get a last potty break in before we got there. When Boo saw me, he came over and sat on my foot, refusing to move. He had staked his claim to me! He was just so pretty, we decided to show him in conformation.

He has his International Championship, UKC Championship, and 3 points, 2 of which were from me showing him against a "professional" handler. We got tired of the politics of AKC conformation and stuck to more agility and obedience.

Boo has been a very easy boy to train, very biddable, wanting to be with me at all times. It makes it hard for anyone else to show him. In anything. But, he is always near me.

When we brought him home, the Queen once again showed her distaste. She refused to acknowledge "the stinky boy". When we first got him, we got one of the large dog water bowls that looks like the Mountain Valley Water bottles. The girls (Both of them) refused to drink after him. The would stand at the water bowl and bark. I could just hear them saying, "Ewww, now it has BOY cooties on it!" Kyra took to him as a playmate, however, and the two would run around the back yard, sheer joy on their faces! The Queen would stand and bark at them. The mother, telling the children to behave, I imagine.

The pack dynamics were pretty set. Hershey preferred to stay by herself, whether on her own bed at night, or on the couch. Alone. She was finally happy. She didn't have to endure countless hours of her human counterparts wanting to engage in activities like petting her. She also didn't have to do any more obedience or agilty. The Queen was retired. Boo and Kyra played together, and Hershey didn't have to even involve herself in that, if she didn't want to.

Boo is my dog, Kyra is Gene's dog. Both dogs having a moderate amount of success. Boo did not care for the breed ring, and did well in obedience. His true love (like many dogs) seemed to be agility. He learned quickly, and really wanted to do agility for me. At about 3 years old, we shaved off his long, beautiful hair and let him look like just a dog. He is now in excellent classes, and is working towards his excellent titles in agility. He has been happy and healthy, and by far the best dog *I* have ever owned.
I could own a dozen more just like him! (But then, my mother would stroke out, and then there's the husband, and we'd have to buy a bigger house, and we just don't want to go there!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Doggie Strait Jacket?

Okay, we'll get back to the Pack Dynamics, I promise. But, a friend sent a link to this photo to me, and I just could NOT pass up the opportunity to comment on it!

I mean, really, would you actually put this on your dog? (I mean, unless you were being paid lotsa money by the advertising folks to do so?) Is this not the cruelest, most evil thing you have ever seen? If you are really that lazy that you don't want to clean the hair out of your car, then hey, get a poodle! (Then again, don't. I mean, if you're too lazy to clean your car, you're DEFINATELY too lazy to groom a poodle!).

Of course, then again, it would be an alternative to crate training, eh? Instead of putting your dog in a crate, just strap the little buggers into the strait jacket and it'll fit in places that a crate won't! And, with the handy dandy handles, you can just pick them up and vacuum under them, right? At least then, we would know that Kyra wasn't eating something she wasn't supposed to- except maybe the strait jacket itself!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To breed or not to breed...

While surfing and looking for some information on a specific dog shampoo, I came across Yahoo! answers. A basic question/answer forum. I started reviewing some of the questions, and was floored by what I found. People who can't even spell the name of the breed of dog they have, don't know the signs of a dog that's in heat, and don't even know what breed of dog they have, are wanting to breed their dogs! Questions like, "How long will my dog be in heat?" and "How many times does the dog have to have sex before it's pregnant?" And my personal favorite, "My dog is 4 months old, when will she be old enough to breed?"

The arguments on both sides of this debate are heated and sometimes even angry and hateful. It sickens me to think that these poor dogs' lives are being controlled by a human that doesn't care enough to take the time to actually research their own breed, and what's involved in breeding. When asked why they want to breed Fluffy, they can't even give you a good answer. One person said, "The vet told me my dog must have 2 litters before being fixed." Come on! What vet in their right mind (or even their left one for that matter) tells someone that their dog MUST be bred? Sheesh!

Breeding a dog is not for the faint at heart, just like having kids is not for the faint of heart. I was certainly never brave enough to have children, and I'm not sure I'm brave enough to have puppies. You see, I've done research, and the task is just something that I'm not sure I'm well- equipped enough to do, so I wonder about someone who can't even spell the word spayed.

Because of all of the health issues and structural problems in poodles, finding a male and female that can have healthy puppies that will be structurally sound, is like solving the rubix cube blindfolded! What would I do if I couldn't find buyers? What would I do about docking the tails? There is so much debate out there right now, good reasons to, good reason not to. What about possible future health issues? What if, after all of my research and good intentions, I bred a pup that had addison's, or hip dysplasia, or seizures? I would feel compelled to take the dog back, but am I equipped (physically, emotionally, financially, etc.) to care for a pup with these types of issues?

So, after reading numerous questions about "Is it illegal to breed dogs for reasons other than dog breeding?" and "I think my dog is in heat because there's blood everywhere she sits, what should I do?" I just had to take a break, and a stand. Even if it falls on deaf ears, I felt I had to scream from the mountaintops: "IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING....DON'T DO IT!"

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pack Dynamics, Pt. II

One early spring morning, I happened to be looking at the want ads, and there it was. "Brown Standard Poodle Puppies for Sale"- and about 15 minutes from the house. It had to be a sign, right? So, me and the DH went to "look" at the puppies. We decided that, since Hershey would be directly involved, that maybe we should take her with us, let her help pick out the puppy she wanted. Well, poor Hershey sat next to the window and drooled the whole time we were there. This should have been a clue that Queen was quite happy with the way things were, and did NOT want a puppy. Did we listen? Nope! We brought home Kyra. Her registered name became Kyra-Boo Houdini. When we left her at the house, we locked her in bathroom, the open door replaced by a piece of plywood that was nearly 4 feet tall. We came home to find her loose in the house, the plywood still in place.

And, yes, the picture above describes her PERFECTLY! She would aggravate Hershey until she would finally give in and play with her. I remember looking out in the back yard on numerous occasions to see a little brown puppy dangling from Hershey's ear. They played hard, so it hard it scared me. But, I soon noticed that if Hershey knocked Kyra off her feet, she would back up and give her room to get up, and then the wrestling would start all over again. The first year of her life, I noticed that so many times, when having her in the car, the song "Brown eyed girl" would come on the radio. So, it became her theme song. She quickly became Gene's dog.

He started training her in obedience, where she quickly sailed through her Novice and Open titles. She is fully trained in Utility, but has lost her nerve in the ring. (I just think she has decided that agility is WAY more fun!)

She also excelled at agility, qualifying in 5 out of her first 6 Novice A runs. This dog lives for agility, and food, and nothing else. She does agility as a means to an end- that end being the treats! She was well on her way to getting a MACH when she had 2 terrible experiences on the teeter that put an end to her teeter performances during a trial. After a year of retraining, she is happily performing teeters again. At 7, the cards are stacked against her getting her MACH, but she is willing to continue that path if Gene is.

Kyra has always been the most submissive dog in our pack. This worked really well with Hershey being Alpha. The two slid into their roles without any grumbling or groaning. This dog will suffer any indignity for food. When Gene pulls out the grooming supplies, the other dogs scatter like roaches, but Kyra is there, begging for her turn. Because she knows that food will be at the end of the road. I have often thought that I could slice her open with a scalpel, give her a treat, and she'd stand still to have it done again.

Poor Kyra has had a rough go of it. She is allergic to so many things in dog food, that we have started her on Nature's Variety Raw. It is the only thing she can eat that doesn't keep her up all night scratching at her face. It has taken us nearly all of her 7 years to find this food that she could eat.

Luckily, we never had to worry when bringing in a new dog with Kyra around. Being the most submissive dog on the planet, she was quick to let the new dogs take over. She is now 4th in our pack.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pack Dynamics, part I

After spending my entire childhood with a brown miniature poodle who came to be known as John Dog, I decided I wanted a brown mini of my own. I had even picked out a name, "Hershey"

The DH just would NOT be seen walking a little "froo-froo" dog. He wanted a big dog that he could wrestle with, a "manly" dog, so to speak. So, we compromised and began the search for our first standard poodle, a brown standard. We were young and stupid about such things, and bought her out of the paper from a backyard breeder. We got her at a very young age, because the *breeder* refused to hold the puppies during the July 4th weekend, and was going to sell them to anyone to get rid of them by then. When we picked Hershey up, she could easily fit in the palm of Gene's hand. She was terribly anemic and unhealthy.

Thankfully, with much TLC, she grew into a happy, healthy 23" tall, 44 pound standard poodle. She is, also, the "Queen" of our household. Even as a pup, she didn't much care to have any attention from us. If she were curled up on the couch and you went to pet her, she would grumble and move on. She was, at the time, an only dog, and the target of all of our affection, much to her disdain.

We started obedience with her, and that's when we found out that poodles, and evidently the brown ones in particular, are born to entertain. So, whilst I'm heeling, counting to myself, and concentrating on what the judge was saying, Hershey is standing in the middle of the ring, posing. Oh, and don't let someone snicker at it, if so..GAME ON! My most embarrassing obedience moment has to be when doing the figure 8 exercise in UKC open obedience. There are two human "posts" who stand roughly 4 feet apart. You must walk around the "posts in a figure 8 pattern, your dog maintainging proper heel position the entire time. One judge liked to do 1 1/2 circuits around the figure 8 before calling you to halt. When she did, Hershey continued on, directly towards one of the posts, nudged her "hello" in the crotch. Then jumped up, paws on either shoulder, and gave her a big smack on the lips. That was our last obedience trial.

On to agility. It seems that, at some point in her agility career, Hershey developed a fear of yellow paint. You know, the yellow contact zones on the Dogwalk, Teeter and A-frame? To Heshey, these were "no fly zones". She would creep just to the line between the color and the yellow, look over at me, wag that tail, and FLY through the air. Landing on the ground, and smiling up at me like, "Did you see what I did? That was COOL, wasn't it?" I would go to agility trials, check in at the gate, and people who didn't even know me would say, "Oh, you're Hershey's mom?" What could I say? Yes, I belong to the Queen.

So, after roughly 6 years of watching Hershey do her own thing, we decided that it was time for Hershey to say "Adeiu" to the world of agility, and return to her first love- being a couch potato. But, we take solice in this one fact:

Old Agility Dogs Never Die

They Just RE-Tire

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I'd like to hit on a very serious topic. The topic of addiction. I believe that everyone has an addiction of some sort. Some may call their addiction a "vice" or a "crutch", some even claim it is a "love", but it all comes out the same. There are addictions to cigarettes, and alcohol. Not to mention gambling, drugs, caffeine, and yes, even chocolate. I'd like to talk about my own addiction. It started slowly, and before I knew it, it had taken over my life. I have done much research, and I have not been able to find a cure for it. I have also found that it appears to be one of the largest growing addictions in the United States.

I am addicted to Agility.

I remember going to classes, and running our first agility dog Hershey. It seemed like an innocent enough sport. Clean air, exercise, and fun with your dogs. How could this be bad for you? Well, it didn't stop with one dog. We now have FOUR standard poodles, all of which have or will run agility. We moved onto a 4 acre piece of land where we could have our own equipment because 1 night of training wasn't enough. We joined the local agility club so that we could also use their equipment. We began teaching classes so we could discounts on classes as well. Then, we bought a travel trailer so we could more easily travel with our four dogs. Agility controls my life. It controls every aspect of my life.When looking to move out of state, my number 1 criteria for moving was to have more access to more agility.

I know that other agility addicts can attest to the same progression in symptoms. the onset for others may be slower, or quicker, but the outcome is the same. Every facet of my life is a way to get more agility into my life!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Honeymooners

I saw the following sign a few years ago, at a trial in Kiln, Mississippi. (Packers fans will recognize the town as the hometown of Brett Favre!) This was pre-Katrina, so not sure if the sign, or even the intersection for that matter, still exists.

I thought it really made a statement, so made the DH stop so I could get a photo. I hope you enjoy the deeper meaning behind this sign as much as I did!

Monday, January 14, 2008


Jump for joy!

Stretch out your legs

And get ready to PARTY!

Today is Kyra's 7th Birthday. It's hard to believe that just shy of 7 years ago, we went to visit the littler of brown standard poodle puppies and came home with Kyra. It's a wonder she has lived to be 7 years old, because of her tendency to eat things she shouldn't. But, I must say, we have learned much from the chow hound. To name are few are:

1.) Fire ant bait is non-toxic to dogs, even small ones. (and, made from ground corn)

2.) Potpourri comes out the same color it went in, just a slightly different odor.

3.) Dogs don't digest caramel. (Or snicker's wrappers)

4.) Aluminum foil does not fluoresce on an x-ray.

5.) Silk flowers also come out the same color they go in.

6.) Atomic fireballs will leave red spots on a tile floor.

7.) Milk chocolate is not as bad for dogs as folks say, it's the dark chocolate that matters.

8.) Hydrogen peroxide in the lungs is worse than chocolate in the gullet.

9.) The emergency vet clinic at I-630 and John Barrow is no longer there.

10.) It's possible for a large breed dog to consume an entire meal in less than 5 seconds.

11.) If left alone, even long enough for a human potty break, she CAN and WILL find something to get into.

One thing about her immense desire for food, as much food as she can tolerate, is that she is extremely food motivated. Because of this trait, she has been a very easy dog to train. (Except for that darned stay off the kitchen counters thing.) In her 7 years, she has earned her AKC and UKC Open obedience titles, Her AX and MXJ in AKC agility with 3 QQ and 151 points towards her MACH. In USDAA, she has achieved her PDII title, and closing in on her PDIII, and has earned her bronze Jumpers title.

When Kyra was asked what she wanted for her Birthday, her eyes glazed over and "food" was all she could think about!

So, Happy Birthday girl, and here's looking at another 7!

Responsible Dog Ownership

I know that the AKC's Responsible Dog Ownership was back in September, but I just couldn't keep this bottled up until next September. I hate the intrusion of government into our lives, but, I figure as long as they're there, why not legislate things that really matter? You should have to take (and pass) a test before being allowed to own a dog, or more importantly, have a child. Because, you see, I think these two topics are more closely related than many people are willing to admit. Raising a puppy takes less commitment and patience than raising a child, and that commitment is shorter! My husband and I have met many dog owners through our 16 year marriage. We've taught agility and obedience classes, done some dog grooming, and met folks just out and about while walking our poos. I'm always surprised at some of the things that people tell me. You'd think I would be used to it by now, but no, I'm not. One lady told me that her 2 year old cocker spaniel was an outdoor dog because they "didn't have the patience to make her an indoor dog". Well, then you don't have the patience for a dog. Period.

Then there's the folks who claim that they "can't afford the good dog food". So, what are you feeding your kids? Leaves and grubworms? Money is an issue, as it is in most things. While it shouldn't be the single contributory factor in any decision you make, it should at least make the top 5. If you can't afford to take your dog to the vet on a regular basis, you can't afford to feed a dog food that isn't made totally of sawdust, and you don't want to spend time with your dog, then why have one? Status symbol? Tax write off? Because you love the aroma of fresh poop mixed with that summer morning dew? Dogs are pack animals, and thrive on companionship of humans and dogs, not the dogwood in the back yard.

We were regular guests on a radio show where we would answer dog related questions. I couldn't get over how many dogs were thrown in the back yard to fend for themselves, no shelter, no companionship, not even an occasional walk around the block. And these surprised lab owners would say, "But he won't quit digging", or "he's chewing on the patio furniture"...well, DUH! Your dog is slowly going insane! Or, the owners who come home after a busy day at work, and want the dog to just leave them alone. Yeah, right! I equate it to your 7 year old who is stuck inside all weekend because it's been raining- by Sunday afternoon, you want to kill them! Why? Because they need the exercise! Your dogs have been asleep on the couch all day, saving up their energy so they can spend some quality time with you when you get home!

So, if you're thinking about getting that dog, or having that first, second (or heaven's no, third) child, think about your entire life. Can you afford it, not only financially but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well? If the answer is no, then please don't!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Blondes vs Brunettes (or redheads)

I was born a blonde, and had been one for many, many years. How many? Well, let's not go there. To do so would be to give away my age. Let's just say that I've spent enough time as a blonde to be able to make my own comments. A number of years ago I reached a personal goal of mine, and in celebration, decided to make some changes, one being my hair color. After much internal debate, I decided to go red. Not the freaky orange, carrot-top looking red, but a dark, deep, rich, mahogany red. Could have been my high school fascination for a red headed soccer player, or my innate desire to be different, who knows. But, I digress.

So, I went to my hairstylist and had my hair colored. And, boy was it red! My mother hated it, and so much as told me so. But, when meeting new people, they were surprised to find out that red was not my natural color.

As I wandered through life as a reformed blonde, I noticed some things. I was treated differently, by men and women alike. As a blonde, I had discovered that men and women both would talk down to me. And, many women were just down right nasty to me. The old "dumb blonde" stereotype in full force. As a redhead, I was given the benefit of the doubt. I was given credit for having above average intelligence. Woman would accept me into their inner sanctum much sooner than when I was a blonde.

With all the talk of stereotypes being bad, they still exist and always will. So, I've gone back and forth between blonde and redhead. All I worry about is the people who really know me, and they treat me the same regardless of hair color.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dog food choices

Well, I've been researching dog foods because we are selling food in our shop. Because of this, I want to be as informed about the food I'm selling (and even the foods I'm not selling) in order to provide the most advice possible. It's funny, but being in the dogwash business, I'm also expected to be vet, therapist, nutritionist, friend, and dog trainer. If someone is going to seek my opinion, I honestly want to give them the most factual information I can. So, here's what I've learned about dog food.

1.) You must read the labels, carefully
2.) You can't trust anything you read on the labels

So, where does that leave me? Making an educated guess! But, a few nuggets of information I have found and totally agree with, or at least understand, are these:

A.) All ingredients listed are in volume order- The top 5 ingredients are key- sometimes!
B.) All ingredient measurements on dog food are made BEFORE they are processed. What does this mean? Well, it means that if you are feeding a food that has "whole chicken" listed as the first ingredient, but "corn" as the second ingredient. Your dog is probably getting more corn than chicken. Once that chicken is put in the grinder and processed, refined, and cooked down, there's not much left. Look at your own food. If you buy a whole chicken for $.99/lb, and boneless/skinless chicken breast for $.99/lb- which is the better deal- works the same with dog food.
C.) Chicken meal, Beef meal, etc. does not shrink down like the above mentioned chickens. Therefor, you are sustaining more of the quantity post processing.
D.) Cellulose- it's a required element in dog food, but can mean anything from chicken fat to sawdust- no joke! Some dog foods contain sawdust. (I believe some cereals do as well!)
E.) Some ingredients can be listed twice, which might give them a higher volume, making it actually the #1 ingredient. If you have corn and corn meal listed separately, they may actually combine to make corn the #1 ingredient.
F.) The protein content on your dog food is important, but not listed correctly!
Footnote: In order to calculate the protein content of your dog food, take the moisture % off of the crude analysis and subtract it from 100. Divide that number by the protein amount listed on the food, and that is the "correct" protein count. (Crude analysis shows 22% crude protein and 10% moisture. You divide the 90% into 24% giving you an actual protein count of 24%)
G.) BHA is bad- I haven't found a source that recommends BHA at all.
H.) Beet pulp is good- no wait, it's bad- Not sure! It depends on the source.
I.) Glucosamine- a great supplement for dogs and humans alike. Check the dosage. While there are no studies I know of that show problems with high dosages, make sure there is enough in the dog food to be of benefit.

So, in all my research, I'm more confused than ever before. I am, once again, switching dog foods. Some people swear by one brand or another, but not me. Of the 4 dogs, we have 3 different brands of food. How's that for consistency?

I guess my bottom line is this, read the labels, if you don't understand what's there, ask! If you still don't know, move on. If your dog has itchy skin, watery eyes, is overweight, is underweight, seems sluggish, or is leaving large mounds of waste in the yard for you to pick up, you might investigate what is in your dog food and look to change!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Boo's Open Title

Since I was posting video, I thought I would dive in head first and open us up to scrutiny. Boo and I have had a longer road to Excellent than I would have thought. He turned 6 years old Halloween 2007, and it was shortly after that he finally got that last Open Standard leg to give us our Open Standard title in AKC agility. I love working with Boo. He tries so hard, and has suffered from my lack of handling skills. He has been a trooper through it all, and has forgiven me my short comings. While we may not be the best team out there, we certainly try to have fun. That's what agility is all about, going out there with your dog, having fun, and making it a learning experience. We are working with a new trainer who helped us make some changes and get that last Open leg. We will start our quest for the elusive Excellent titles in February, and I hope to post beautiful runs then. I know we have lots of work to do, but I already see so many improvements in my handling. Hopefully, future videos will show that improvement as well. We will also be working towards our PDII title in USDAA next week. Wish us luck!

Hemi's first Agility lesson

Last night was Hemi's first venture into agility with other dogs and people around! One class member made the comment with his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek "I sure wish that dog had some drive!" Well, yes, Hemi has drive, that's for sure. But, I was very proud of our young man. He was pulling at the lead wanting to GO GO GO GO GO! I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed filming it. Hemi is certainly a joy to be around.

He is still learning to lift his leg. Before class, he had slid up next to the fence to potty. He lifted his leg, and it hit the fence, so he just rested his leg on the fence while he pee'd. What a hoot he is!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Life with poodles

A blog about poodles? Why? Why not? There is a blog for everything, and there are probably other blogs about poodles as well. We own four standard poodles, and I guess you could say we're hooked on the breed. They are smart, sassy, energetic, fun-loving, and extremely trainable. I hope to post photos, videos, and the latest goofiness our dogs have engaged in.

"Poodles are like potato chips, you can't have just one."