Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Birthday D Litter

Today is the D Litter's (Zack and Maize) fourth birthday :) I will share D Litter pictures all week as they come in but we will start with two of the girls -- Brighton and Joy.


Carol shares, "Brighton wasn't too excited about her Birthday crown/hat. Brighton has been with Sharon and me in Iowa City for eight months now. She's as close as it gets to the black and gold coloring of an 'Iowa Hawkeye'.

Brighton joins Sharon's German Short-haired Pointer Fannie that she rescued in July 2008. Brighton and Fannie love to play. Fannie loves to run and run and run and play but Brighton has convinced her to run less and play more. Fannie is the very sweet, sit perfectly, totally silent type. Brighton is the very sweet, very cuddly, sit perfectly sometimes, me-first, totally vocal type.

Sharon is the volleyball coach at the University of Iowa and has tried to run a marathon or half marathon for the last eight years. She has always included our dogs in her training runs (her previous lab and my previous berner). Sharon has even been able to run both Fannie and Brighton at the same time - something she could never do with our previous dogs. Of course, Brighton gets dropped off at home after a mile and Sharon and Fannie continue for a couple more miles. We also enjoy taking them to the wonderful dog-park in our community.

Brighton and Fannie are just the cuddliest - and have both helped heal the sad losses of my 11.5 yr old berner in August of 2008 and Sharon's 14 yr old lab in March of 2008. They've filled our hearts with joy and laughter and our home with dog hair again and it's all a blessing.

I'm forever grateful to Mary-Ann and to Brighton's first family Cole, Bre and Chase Taylor for the big personality Brighton. I know Brighton misses sharing pizza crust with Cole! Bless Cole for his military service to our country."


Joy lives with Ashlee and the two girls earned Ashlee's MFA last year -- Ashlee is a beautiful and talented actress! Ashlee's mom, Kathy, just got back from visiting "the girls" and shared that picture with me.

We all look forward to getting updates and photos from other D Litter Birthday dogs...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Dream Comes True

There are no words to adequately convey what happened today -- the simple version is that I achieved a goal but truly that is so inadequate. An adventure I started years ago with Abra was completed today when Asia earned her TDX -- my first one.

She did her track of nearly 1000 yards in 20 minutes -- I do not have time to tell the whole story but thanks to Elizabethanne for these pictures and for going with me today and sharing one of the best dog days of my life :)

Here we are on the track...

Hugging Wendy, our tracklayer. Wendy is a judge who certified Asia as a puppy and who also certified Halo (Asia's mom). Both Wendy and I were in tears -- amazing day.

Me with CH Kaibab's Enter from East TDX, DD!!!!!

Elizabethanne titled this picture, "Powered by McDonald's" and that is so true -- their dollar menu is great for tracking celebrations!

The official picture :)

The track map

Tanner and Jake created a symbol for what they call Asia -- Tracking Dog Extreme!

There is no way your day could have been better than mine -- but I hope it was close! Now off to celebrate Dear Husband's birthday :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More Clean and Fluffy Dogs!

Spring cleaning of the dogs is complete -- the last three got baths and photos today!

We start with the Plus-Size Model -- Asia...

And Cadi and her Mini-Me, Syd...

And just extra cute Syd -- I am reconsidering my decision to leave her home from the Specialty -- she is pretty cute...

I certainly hope your weekend weather is bath-worthy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another Clean One

Our weather is great again today so I gave Zoey a bath to try and get the last of her shedding coat out -- here are some pictures of 19 month old Zoey, out of coat but clean!

Sydney wanted to be in a picture also so here are the two babies...

And this is from yesterday -- Zoey making herself comfortable on that table...

Hope your week is going well :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Deer Ones

My deary deer friends came calling just now -- aren't they cute?!

Sunday Fun -- Without Me...

On Sundays the Salt Lake kids all have lunch with Kim (aka Dear Husband) at In-N-Out Burgers (without me). This would be the meal BEFORE they all get together for Sunday dinner (without me). Cell phone photo evidence of them having fun (and food) without me.


Kaibab Weekend News

A shout-out to Marti and Maverick -- they passed the harness/hitch part of the draft test in California yesterday, which is a Big Deal as that has been a significant barrier to their success in draft. Great job you two :)

And in Centralia, Washington we had a head-to-head competition between the F and G Litters, with Zed representing the F Litter and Cooper representing the Glitterati. Zed went Winners Dog both days but today Cooper was Reserve to Zed -- how cute is that?! Good job, boys -- and congrats to Jennifer who is handling Cooper herself :)

Hope you are having a winning weekend!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Old Ladies Pics

Mrs. Maize and Halo had a busy day. First they did some brace carting together -- they are practicing for the Specialty :) And then they went to the spa! Well, they had a bath and got groomed but it was on the deck so practically a spa! Thought you might enjoy seeing how nice the Old Ladies are looking...

Mrs Maize at nine years, eight months, and 27 days...

Halo at almost 7.5 years...

Halo says, "FINALLY I got my ears trimmed!!!"

Cadi and Karma

Hope your weekend is a wonderful one!

VST Training

Just a quick post about how entertaining Variable Surface Tracking can be. As I have mentioned, I am training Asia for VST but what I do not think I shared is that I have a training partner! Remember that I said that a tracking judge works on campus with me? Well, Teressa (that is her name) also has a dog she wants to do VST with and so we concocted a plan and once a week I lay a track on campus for her dog and once a week she lays one for Asia -- perfect! We are both having fun with it, and it is very motivating.

So yesterday was Asia's turn. Well, you would think that we would have remembered that classes get out on the hour but we didn't and so Asia started her track at 10 -- she was just getting going when students streamed out of the building and across her track -- except all the ones who stopped to pet her.

Okay -- note to M-A and Teressa -- do not start tracks when classes are getting out.

We got back to work and she was on one side of the walkway and I was following about 20 feet behind with the tracking line tight (off the ground by two feet or so) when suddenly a bike was approaching on the path -- YIKES. That doesn't happen in fields! I dropped the line and the bike went over safely.

Note to self -- shorter tracking line for VST.

Okay -- now we were in a parking lot. Hmmm... what does one do when a car is trying to head out. And why is my dog eating plastic shards?!

Note to M-A and Teressa -- do not use plastic articles in parking lots where cars will squish them.

Although Asia's hormones (she is in standing heat) did not help her abilities, she did a fine job and found all her articles -- even the one in 50 pieces :)

Looking to be a great Montana day -- pictures later...

Thursday, April 8, 2010


When making chocolate chip bagels, use the mini chips for even better results.

Aren't sisters the best? I love mine -- and Zoey sure loves her sister, Asia.

If you lost a parent before age 18 or so and would be willing to answer 3 - 5 questions from one of my students, please let me know.

Have a lovely day, preferably involving chocolate.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

So Long Spring Break!

Dear Husband tried to tell me that I really do not have to be in such a constant state of productivity and really -- I try to listen to his helpful feedback but I like being productive and besides -- there are those lists...

This morning I got up bright and early -- as always -- and filled with my usual cheerful morning optimism and energy, I rode my bike and then I sat down to write an article for the berner magazine (The Alpenhorn). A couple of hours later, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Discussion of Breeding and Ethics" was done and emailed off to the Alpenhorn Editor. Did you catch the article I wrote for the April Alpenhorn on being an owner a puppy can live with? I have not seen it yet since my Alpenhorn arrives by Pony Express but have gotten some nice feedback about it from people whose Alpenhorns arrive via more modern methods like the postal service.

Anyway, I got the article done and etc. and then it was time to train all those dogs -- sigh... Well, actually I made Fish Fudge first both because I needed extra yummy treats and also because -- much to Dear Husband's disgust -- I wanted some tuna fish juice to put in a squirt bottle. I bet some of you can figure out why I did that!

So armed with my squirt bottle of tuna juice and water, we headed off to a strip mall -- not the kind that involve taking off clothes, of course, but the kind with non-veg surfaces (i.e., pavement). So yes, we were looking for a place devoid of cover but not clothing kind of cover!

I laid a track that started in grass and then went through a parking lot and back into grass. As I walked across the long parking lot I squirted my lovely tuna juice/water mixture and walked on it. The idea was to help Asia understand that there is scent on these kind of surfaces, and that they are not merely something to cross. She did GREAT!!! I was very impressed with her -- and my little experiment :)

Back to the house to train dogs and videotape. Dear Husband was kind enough to videotape my parade of dogs -- first Halo doing utility and then Asia doing obedience and then Cadi doing agility and finally Zoey doing agility. You can see all these videos at the YouTube site -- to get you started at the site, here is the link for the Halo video:

Maize and Syd were left out of the videotaping but not the training -- what fun it is to do agility with Maize and that Syd is BRILLIANT.

And then it was time to head off to check out a potential tracking location -- oh my gosh -- TRACKING JACKPOT!!!!!! A great big field with woods and etc. -- and it is public land!!! I was practically gleeful at my find -- and only five miles away. Here are a couple of photos of it:

This will definitely be a site for the tracking portion of Camp Berner!

We walked around the area, and towards the river -- WOW! See for yourself:

Syd says, "It is exhausting just watching my mom."

Have a happy -- and productive -- week!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tracking Answers

Barb asks excellent questions about the tracking video. The track was blind, which means I did not know where it went because Kim laid it. I did not even know the direction that it started and so you can see that I stayed at the start flag until she committed to the track and therefore indicated it's direction. The track was over three hours old and it was very windy.

Asia has been tracking since she was a very small puppy -- she will be three in July so has a good 2.5 years under her harness, so to speak. I still use food on the track but not much -- this track was quite long (close to 1/2 mile) with eight turns and it had four food drops on it. I give her a cookie after most articles so finding articles is reinforcing as well -- on the track yesterday she found five articles, including a plastic lid and an old cell phone! And at the end of the track was a plastic container with a special meat loaf that I made just for the end of tracks -- I like to always use something really special.

When I start a puppy I use the Hansel and Gretel method of dropping food in a straight line every 8 - 12 inches; the "line" or track is about 20 - 25 feet long. At the end is a glove stuffed with some other yummy treat (on the track I only use soft food that can be easily chewed -- cheese, banana, pasta, etc.). At first I might silently point to the food but it does not take long for a dog to figure it out! I quickly add length and also space out the food drops as typically by the second session the puppy is blasting past some of the food drops and that is a clue to space that food out. I do not add turns until the puppy is reliably doing a long straight track with just a few food drops, and then I add very gentle, open turns.

In the first week I might track 4 - 5 times with 2 - 3 short tracks, but by the second week we usually just track twice a week and I quickly move to just one track per session. Tracking has to be fun and I think when we get all scientific and serious about it it takes away the fun :)

Something else -- I do not talk on a track except when she finds an article, and then I praise and tell her to, "find more". When I am getting on her harness I ask if she wants to play and she is SO excited -- all my dogs love tracking :) But then I shut up and let her nose go to work -- I do not even give a command at the start anymore.

Joan was the one who observed that a tracking dog seems to close off the other senses -- food would be obviously right in front of the dog but instead of noticing it visually, the dog continued to sniff and search for it through the sense of smell -- even when the sense of sight would have been "easier". Since Joan pointed that out, I have minimized my communication to the tracking dog because I think it distracts her. When we were trying to pick up the corner we blew past yesterday, I said nothing the whole time Asia worked it through -- but really, what did I need to say anyway? I think we talk for ourselves more than the dog.

I wanted to mention something about Asia. When I did her preliminary x-rays at 10 months and learned she would not clear, I was heartbroken. She is really a lovely girl with a fantastic temperament and I wanted to make more just like her, but obviously I could not breed her. It was suggested to me that I place her in another home since I could not breed her, but that was not an option for me.

Asia reminds me to trust and have faith that things are somehow going as they should. If she would have cleared, I would not have repeated the breeding and Terri Z. would not have Zed, who was sent to her to heal a very broken spirit and heart (which he has done). And I would not have Zoey, who is amazing. And even more -- because I honored Asia's path with me, which does not involve puppies, I have the most amazing working dog who lives only to do what I ask her to do. In a household of superb working dogs, this is a very high compliment to Asia -- she is exceptional.

Once again I am reminded that I do not always know what is best, and that if I walk the path that is presented instead of trying to force my will -- good things will happen. And we need to also remember that what seems "broken" is just an opportunity...

Good friend to all puppies and me, Elizabethanne, has learned this lesson well and her excellent poodles do what their callings seem to be, which is not necessarily what Elizabethanne had originally in mind. This is how we should all be with our dogs and with each other -- embracing what is, finding strengths, and letting go of our notions of what "should" be -- check out this video she did of her youngest poodle learning to track on pavement using the Hansel and Gretel method:

And now, follow those little clues of your own to something really wonderful :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tracking Video

Can you tell I am enjoying videos?? Here is Asia's tracking today...


This is not a grooming table -- it is a table I use to work on in the living room. I looked over and what did I see? THIS!

And then Karma wandered over to see what Zoey thought was so interesting...

A normal person would have gotten the dog and cat OFF the table -- I got my camera...

Normal is both overrated and boring. Have an extremely abnormal day!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

And here we have completely out of coat Asia with this update to The Asia Experiment...