Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tracking Certified!

As I have mentioned before, entering a Tracking Dog test requires that a dog pass a regulation track (i.e., identical to an actual test) under the watchful eye of one judge (a "real" test is two judges); the judge then "certifies" that the dog is ready to enter a test.

We are proud of Barb and Maddie Madison (F Litter) who recently attended a nine day (!) tracking camp and got certified easily -- Baby Sister Maddie clearly has the family tracking genes and good job to Barb for learning how to handle this powerhouse tracker!!!! Here is a picture of the happy event:

I would not mind nine days of tracking but with a bunch of people?! No thanks! Group tracking is not my thing at all -- but it clearly worked for them so YEA!

Maddie's littermate, Peaches Sula, recently got certified for a new dog sport called Nosework -- it involves finding designated scent, much like how a drug dog finds contraband. Apparently the F Litter likes to sniff -- we know Karen and Maya Darby are also doing good tracking work back east :) Great work Sniffers!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More of Montana Mac

Do you want to see that fancy Montana Mac? Go to:

Find the four minute mark in the video and watch him at Westminster with his handler, Michelle -- she is wearing a cream skirt and orange top.

He is 2.5 years in the video (he is now three) and got an Award of Merit -- that is a Big Deal with a capital B and a capital D.

In addition to collecting nuts, Chippy is collecting opinions so let us know what you think!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun Weekend!

Here are the highlights and etc.

Jennifer and Cooper Whitby came from Oregon to show in Helena -- we drove back/forth each day due to dog sitting issues and wanting to be cheap. However, neither of us is likely to want to drive anyplace else for a while -- it was well over two hours each way!

Syd showed three days -- she is not in coat so I knew it was not going to be great and it wasn't -- all she got was one reserve. However, she was declared by a fan as the happiest dog at the show :)

Cooper Whitby showed all four days and won twice. His mom is showing him and doing a great job -- it is way harder than it looks and Jennifer did extremely well! Here are some photos of Cooper Whitby:

I showed Cadi one day in Best of Breed (aka "as a Special"). She took Best of Breed and then made the final six in Group -- that is HUGE. Yes indeed -- my working dogs are also lovely and here is proof:

Today I showed Halo for the first time in Open B and Utility B -- we made one tiny mistake in each class but it was a great performance, especially for a dog who has not shown in Open for 2.5 years (i.e., no group stays in all that time :). In fact, it was good enough that we will need to do it again when the opportunities present!

Cooper, Cadi, and Syd all had eye exams as well and passed -- so just an all around good and fun few days!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The F Word

You will not believe what is happening here!!!!!!! FUN!!!!!! Cooper Whitby (Glitterati) is visiting for a show -- see for yourself what is happening:

Do you see any of Air Zoey's feet on the ground?!

Getting ready...

Yes, in the air again -- this would be the dog I am going to attach to a cart -- sigh...

Thankfully the Chief of the Fun Police was on Duty...

...and got the Wild Ones under control at last (Zoey and Cooper Whitby)

Go ahead and have some fun of your own -- but don't let Maize hear about it!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Montana Mysteries and Adventures

Karma and Sydney had a conversation -- it went like this:

Karma: You are my Best BFF.
Syd: I thought Cadi was your BFF?
Karma: No, she insulted George, my BDFF (Best Deer Friend Forever).
Syd: What did she say about George?
Karma: That he was flighty and not a good Informant -- it hurt George's feelings so I cannot be BFF with Cadi anymore -- so you are my new and real BFF.
Syd: Well, I would never insult George but I did hear that maybe he misunderstood some of his information -- not on purpose but likely just because he was too far away for his big ears to really catch everything.
Karma: Really? Like what?
Syd: Montana Mac is not coming forever -- just until Spring or so, and he is coming to learn how to do all the fun things we do -- tracking, obedience, agility, draft and so on.
Karma: I do not think any of that is fun! And how is my Servant going to have time for that?
Syd: Your Servant?!
Karma: You know, the one who is my personal Chef and Chambermaid -- the tall one who never sits down.
Syd: Oh -- that one. She will just add Montana Mac to the training schedule -- she is very excited about it.

Karma: Well, I do not know where we will keep all his stupid placemats!!!!! Or his Award of Mister!!!!
Syd: He is leaving those at his house -- he lives in The White House or something like that. And his mom is very nice and had her swimming pool built special for dogs -- Zoey is visiting her next month when they pick up Montana Mac and will report back.
Karma: Well, George thinks Montana Mac is a nerd because he is a math expert.
Syd: What??? A math expert?!
Karma: That's right -- George said that he heard something about Montana Mac and multiplication.
Syd: Well that is very odd -- I wonder what that means????

Karma: Since you are being so nice I am going to tell you another secret but you have to promise not to tell anyone!!!
Syd: I promise!!!
Karma: I heard that Galen, Head Puppy Nanny, is done knitting his wild wheat -- or something like that -- and is coming back to go to that place where my servant works at her second job -- you know, that universe place.
Syd: GALEN?! One of my most favorite people (with Lisa, of course) in the whole wide university?! That Galen??????
Karma: Yup - that one.
Syd: You are my BFF, Karma -- until Galen gets here, that is...

Zoey is anxious to get going on her big trip -- she thinks it will be fun to be with her mom and dad all by herself, and to meet Montana Mac and his mom in The White House, and to see fall colors in New England and to be in her first ever draft test. In the meantime, she sends a Happy Birthday greeting to her friend, Elizabeth!!!

Let's all have a fantastic day!!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Glimpses from a Montana Evening

A lovely Sunday evening here in western Montana -- decided to take and share some pictures...

This is part of our view...

Our house...

Our squirrel, Chippy...



Sydney again



Asia again


Hope your weekend was super and that the week ahead will be even better than you hope!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

From an Informant

Karma and Cadi had a conversation -- it went like this:

Karma: You are my new BFF!
Cadi: I thought Asia was your BFF??
Karma: No, I am not speaking to Asia ever again.
Cadi: Don't you read the Blog? It is not good to hold grudges.
Karma: She who will never be named was mean to me.
Cadi: She called you a cat...and, well...
Karma: She said it in a mean way and so I am done with her! Anyway, did you hear about Montana Mac?

Cadi: Well yes, but I just assumed that it was on the dollar menu at that place we stop before tracking. I figure a Montana Mac probably has a double elk patty, two strips of moose, secret huckleberry sauce, and is wrapped up in deer hide -- I am hoping to find one at the end of my track next time...
Karma: I thought you were a genius?! Montana Mac is one of you! A big, furry dog -- he better not chase me like Zoey does!
Cadi: What?! How disappointing! I was looking forward to elk -- now all I will probably find is a stupid sausage McMuffin - boring.
Karma: Pay attention! I am trying to tell you about Montana Mac!!!! George told me...
Cadi: GEORGE!!!!???? The one you were plotting to kill and eat under the deck?
Karma: I was not.
Cadi: Well, Asia said...
Karma: Do not mention that name to me again -- do you want to hear what George said or not?
Cadi: Fine -- but how does George know about Montana Mac?
Karma: Gorge is very curious -- and has big ears -- an excellent combination in an Informant.

Karma: So anyway, George says that Montana Mac is a boy version of you. He says that Montana Mac is kind of fancy.
Cadi: What do you mean "fancy"? I am not sure I would like a boy who was fancy...
Karma: George says he is Grand Champagne....
Cadi: What?!
Karma: Let me finish please!! So he is a Grand Staircase and he got an Award of Mister at Westmerit -- doesn't that sound fancy and important?
Cadi: What is an Award of Mister?!
Karma: How am I suppose to know???!!! I am just telling you what George said so let me finish. George also said that he heard that Montana Mac has lots of placemats - in groups!
Cadi: Why does he need groups of placemats????
Karma: Maybe he is messy -- how should I know?!
Cadi: Are you sure about all this? Is George reliable? He seems a little flighty to me...
Karma: Okay yes, he would fling himself in front of a truck given the opportunity but he is curious and does have big ears.
Cadi: Well, I still wish Montana Mac was something we could get at that dollar place...


Galen is interested in graphic design and so did this cute ad for Zoey's draft debut in Rhode Island next month -- this ad will be in the catalog.

What do you think????

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Importance of Faith

All of us cheered her on when she was a tiny puppy, no bigger than a stick of butter. And we watched anxiously to make sure she was "normal" and when it was time, her forever home arrived in the form of Julie from Park City, Utah. I wanted to update you on how our faith in Faith has turned out...

Julie recently adopted a former puppy mill dog and she credits Faith for helping him emerge from his puppy mill induced shell -- she shares, "You can still see the fear and insecurity in Gus' eyes. But, each day he gets a little better. . .a little more comfortable."

And recently Faith embarked on a mission to help Gus learn how to be a dog! Julie shares, "When I arrived home after a date on Wednesday, this is what I found. ALL I could do was laugh. It's Friday and Faith still has feathers in her fur. They're all but impossible to get up as the vacuum blows them into the air creating a fun game for the cats."

Julie continues, "while the rest of her siblings are out winning titles and championships, my little girl is home teaching Gus how to be a dog.

I really believe that every single spirit from "our" litter has something big and special to do in this lifetime. Faith bounds through my house giving more love than I've ever seen. She's still a lap dog and wants to be close at all times. Each day she reminds me to find the joy and excitement in the little things.

With her little brother, Gus, she is patient. She lets him step over her to settle in behind her tail. He feels safe there. She reaches out with her paw that is so much bigger than him to get him to play . . . she nibbles playfully at his legs. . .he so loves her.

The truth is, Gus wouldn't have made it without Faith. He needs her to show him how to trust."

Faith matters.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Three Things, Pictures, and Mystery Revealed Part One...

Words create reality, my friends. What we think is how we feel, and the stories we tell ourselves become reality. It is my experience that some of us just love a good tragedy and enjoy becoming the main character in that sad story. Others prefer a good soap opera and so run amuck creating drama.

Yes, life does happen *to* us but if you think about it you will see that all of us use whatever happens as a plot in our personal life story.

How is this related to training dogs? Well, consider the titles of these life stories:

"Confessions of a Terrible Dog Trainer"

"My Life With an Anxious Dog"

"Barking and Lunging: Living on the Edge"

"Disconnected: My Failure to Establish a Bond with My Dog"

How would you like to be the dog in those life stories? I wouldn't. If those sound like your life story titles, you need to re-author your story, friend.

Dogs deserve to be the stars of good and positive narratives and that is our responsibility. They are characters in our life stories and so please -- ascribe good qualities, author happy narratives, and leave the problem-saturated story lines to professional soap opera writers...

Perhaps you are saying, "...but my dog does "xyz" so I cannot help it -- that is really my story". Wrong. Your dog may DO "xyz" but you CHOOSE to make that your story.

Moving on to a related topic -- Selective Attention. Just as we get to author our life's narrative, so to do we get to decide what to focus on in our lives. Some people notice all the bad and ruminate and dwell and so on -- Debbie Downers, for sure. It is not "denial" to choose to focus on other things -- and if you want to sit in the piss pot, well -- go right ahead but no complaining if you find yourself alone in there.

Some of us would much rather focus on what is going well and not run around like Chicken Little wringing our hands/wings and worrying about the sky falling in. First of all, the sky probably is not really falling in and second, if it is, there is not much to be done about it and worrying is only robbing us of any joy that might be left before a cloud lands on our heads.

I struggle with people who just want to talk about problems -- all that does is keep us stuck in our problems. I would rather focus on solutions and progress, but I have found that some people just get really, really attached to problems and want to suck everyone else down with them -- we shall henceforth call these people "Quicksand" -- call encouragement from the sidelines but for goodness sakes -- do not get too close!

And again, if you want to stand in quicksand -- well, have at it but don't complain when you have to enjoy that sucking feeling all by yourself.

And moving on to a third topic, related to the first two -- Unrealistic Expectations. Consider this story:

"I will get a dog and she will be perfect. She will never chew, never bark, never do anything bad. We will walk together in perfect harmony. She will be loyal, grateful, smart, kind, friendly to all, and in all ways -- perfect, just like me!"


Dear Mr./Ms Perfect:




This makes me NUTS. Unrealistic expectations create big disappointment and negativity, and they are totally avoidable. Each of us gets to set our expectations, and we can be realistic -- or not. And more importantly -- we can learn to embrace/accept what is, or sob for what isn't.

Yesterday I was walking two of my perfect dogs. Can you even believe it -- they did not walk perfectly all the time?! I had to drag one away from horse poop, one jumped up on a lady who stopped to admire them (and left muddy pawprints on her), and one even barked and pulled on her leash when two dogs came racing towards her!!!! Oh woe is me!

Whatever. If you want a perfect dog, they sell those big stuffed ones at Costco.

I am a big fan of goals and expectations -- but they have to be realistic. And perhaps the most important thing -- we have to learn not to freak out when the happy little story that exists only in our head does not play out in real life. When we are so busy crying and wallowing and wringing our hands about what is not going according to plan, we miss the chance to have a new plan that could be even better.

So at the risk of being insensitive -- get over it and move on -- that is the take home message about that! And don't expect perfection until that is something you have achieved yourself...

Life has some real bad problems -- REALLY bad -- and those are worth crying about, but even those require that we move on at some point. The past is not a place to live -- only to briefly visit to relearn whatever lesson it had to teach us. And problems are opportunities to learn, to challenge ourselves, and to experience life; living in that perfect world in your head -- well, that is not real, my friend...

So rewrite that life story if needed, notice your blessings, and have expectations that are realistic -- and we will all be happier as a result. Oh -- and stay away from Rattlesnakes and Quicksand!!!

Dear God/Life/Universe:
What the heck?! Why did you send Halo deVil to me? She barks like a fool when I leave her in the car -- I said I wanted a perfect dog!

Dear God/Life/Universe:
Thank you for sending Halo to me -- she has taught me things I need to learn and I LOVE her. Please let her stay a long time because she is perfect -- for me...

Dear God/Life/Universe:
REALLY?!!!!! I wanted a dog that was bigger and you sent Sydney?! Woe is me -- I never get what I want...

Dear God/Life/Universe:
Good things do come in small packages -- thank you sending Sydney to make us all smile :)

Dear God/Life/Universe:
SERIOUSLY -- ZOEY?!! Is this a joke? I wanted another Asia -- with clear orthopedics -- and you send me the dog version of Michael Jordan??? How is she going to pass a draft test when she cannot keep her feet on the ground????

Dear God/Life/Universe:
What fun it is to have such a high energy, active, playful dog -- she rocks in agility!!!!!!! THANK YOU -- she is perfect :)

Dear God/Life/Universe:
This is Karma speaking -- are you crazy??? I was enjoying my life as a vagabond at that gas station in Barstow and you sent that crazy dog lady to kidnap me...

Dear God/Life/Universe:

Notice the roses or the thorns -- you decide...

Here is Part One of the new Soap Opera titled "Montana Mac" -- Back east, Montana Mac is busily preparing for his Big Adventure to Montana, where he will live with a harem of beautiful girls and get to show the world how smart he is...only five more weeks and life as he knows it will be very different for that studly young man/berner...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Exciting News!

Just heard from Glenda -- Elliott, who just last year suffered a brain injury and almost died after an unfortunate event -- is back! He just earned his NDD in Washington, and this makes him a BMDCA Working Dog!

Not only was it his first draft test, but it was also his mom's first test as well and she reports it was worse than giving birth :) I think she might have been a wee bit nervous!

Elliott is Maize's son (with Zack) from the D Litter and is now:

Kaibab's Dash Across the Moon CD, NJP, NFP, RA, NDD, CGC and Therapy Dog :)

Great Job Elliott and Glenda!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To Whom Much is Given...

At ten years old, Maize has outlived the average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog. She has accomplished so much in her life, and today she reminded me that being old does not mean being irrelevant.

My neighbor volunteers with her little dog at the local nursing home, and asked if I would go in with one of my dogs while she is out of town -- today was our day. Maize has been certified as a Therapy Dog but always worked with children, but I knew that this was her visit.

I wish I had captured with pictures what my words will not be able to convey -- as Maize moved easily in the group gathered to meet her, her tail wagged for every person. A dog does not see disability and age, but rather sees and responds to the humanity that exists in bodies, whether they are new and young, or old and failing. And there is something in that positive regard offered by a dog that touches people, even those lost inside themselves.

One woman sat in her wheelchair, hunched over and eyes closed -- until Maize touched her hands, surprising her. Her eyes opened, recognition filled them, and her face lit up with a smile as if a small spark had suddenly caught flame. She took sweet Maize's face in her hands, and smiled down at her -- and as always, that tail wagged gently...

The residents loved that -- like them -- Maize is old and cannot do everything she used to. They connected with her when they learned that -- like most of them -- Maize had children and grandchildren. And I think they also appreciated the reminder that even though Maize is old, there are still so many things she *can* do.

She showed them many of her obedience exercises -- they loved it. I took pictures to share from her life, including some of her as a puppy, and those pictures were a big hit. She wore her special collar that Marti sent -- the one with charms for her many titles -- and they passed that around, admiring it and what it represents.

But mostly they seemed to love the way she went from person to person, with that tail wagging, seeing past the wrinkles, the wheelchairs, the broken bodies and minds and into each valuable, special soul that exists within all -- young and old.

It is easy to forget that we will not always enjoy the blessings of this day -- but if we forget that, then we too easily forget to be grateful and to live each day fully and with purpose. Today I am grateful for the reminder that I am very lucky/blessed, and for the opportunity to share my dog with people who needed to see her.

And I am grateful to Maize, who reminds me of what kind of person I want to be -- if we can be half as kind and loving and accepting as Maize -- well, we are doing well.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Power of Lucky Socks

This morning I looked at my arsenal of Lucky Socks and decided to go with the most consistently powerful socks in the drawer -- the Lucky Hanukkah Socks. Even though they are developing a small hole, did not match at all, and in spite of the facts that it is not Hanukkah and I am not Jewish -- on went the socks and the special pink and gray obedience shoes.

I woke poor, tired Dear Husband up at 5:30 a.m. by singing an out of tune "Rise and Shine" song, and at 6:10 we were on our way to Great Falls, Montana with Halo and Asia (who was along because she cannot bear to be apart from me).

Three hours later we arrived at the Expo Center where Abra finished her championship and where Maize got her second Utility leg. Halo was wearing the special lucky collar -- the one I bought for Abra after she was High in Trial at the 2001 National Specialty. So armed with the Lucky Hanukkah Socks and the Legacy Collar -- well, what did we expect???!!!

It is with considerable amazement and a lot of pride that I share that our Halo deVil finished her UD today! Yes indeed, friends, in just five tries Halo earned that very, very challenging obedience title! Earning the title is amazing but to do it so easily -- well, shockingly amazing!!!

Here are a couple of pictures of CH Kaibab's Bright Angel, UD, TD, NA, NAP, NJP, RA, DD, BDD, CGC :)

Buttons bursting a bit :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guess Who is Two???

Today is the second birthday of the F Litter -- Happy Birthday to Purna, Homer, Peaches, Maddie, Maya, Zoey, Faith, and Zed! In honor of their birthday, here are some scenes from when they were eight weeks:

And here is Baby Zed and two year old Zed:

Happy Birthday to our Flitter Babies -- and thanks to their wonderful owners for giving them such great homes/lives!