Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's All About Balance

90% of the time Poo-Key is the “normal” dog. I may have mentioned that Verdae is, well, a bit of a weirdo. Poo-Key may not be a great sport dog or trick dog. May not exactly shine where thinking is involved. Where she does shine, though, is anywhere a completely non-reactive dog would.

You would be hard pressed to find a better hiking partner. Since Verdae lives in a little bubble around his head, he completely ignores other people and dogs. He loves to follow a path and therefore stays on the trail. No wandering around in tick infested grass like Poo-Key is prone to doing. He waits when you ask him to and otherwise just trucks along at a reasonable pace. His weirdness also makes him a great travelling partner. No barking in hotel rooms. Could care less if kids are running down the hall or housekeeper are pushing their little carts around.

Basically, where Poo-Key fails, Verdae is the Honor Student.

This also goes for the living room.

Verdae does not like delivery people. He loves people in general and certainly not aggressive. He just gets stressed when people he doesn’t know come to the house. He is fine with diesel trucks away from the house. But at home it means… OMG SOMEONE IS COMING TO THE DOOR! Because he doesn’t get to greet them, he never gets to close that loop, as it were. With other people the loop is: Get excited, oh, it’s just a person, chill out. Delivery people never make it past the “get excited” part.

It is pretty easy to snap Verdae out of “The Sky Is Falling” mode. You only need to say “sq.” Don’t even need to get the whole “squirrel” word out. Just the front bit.

I don't usually complain about stuff that's free and I am not normally a bandwagon person, but I am jumping on this Blogger one, but, THE NEW INTERFACE FRICKIN' BLOWS!!! Change it back.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Complaining About The Complainers

Whining about the whiners?

Bitching about the bitchers?

I know it’s contradictory. Makes no sense.

Doing it anyway.

What is with people thinking competing with your dog is some sort of right? I know I can’t be the only one who is driven nuts by this crap.

Competing is different than practice. That is just life. That is half the challenge. Half the fun. Competing is also FOR THE HUMAN, not for the dog. Your dog doesn’t care about titles, times, points, legs... Any of that crap. Your dog may absolutely love agility, or nose work, or flyball, or obedience, or whatever, that does not mean that they are ready to trial. Matter of fact, depending on the dog, they may never do well in that environment.

If you have a dog that can’t handle the environment of a competition then don’t compete! All of this “I like playing with my dog so everyone else around me should alter their lives so we can trial” makes me want to scream!

I mean, if it really is that you “love to play” with your dog you may do lots of that outside of a trial environment. Go to class, play in the back yard, go to fun matches, rent a field. The problem, however, is that it’s not about playing with your dog. It’s about competing.

Now, I am not saying that only totally “bomb proof” dogs should ever compete. Not saying that you shouldn’t compete with a dog that’s stressed, silly, little nervous, has personal space issues or whatevs. What I am saying is that if your dog has a problem it is YOUR PROBLEM. There is nothing wrong with asking for normal consideration. If you need help, ask for it. You cannot, however, assume that people will or should stop doing totally normal things to accommodate an issue that you don’t want to work on.

News Flash: There are other dogs at dog-related competitions!

Dogs tug at trials. Dogs walk around at trials. Dogs bark at trials. There may be kids at trials. There will be trial workers, judges, and other competitors there, too. There may also be food vendors with flapping umbrellas. I guarantee there will be old ladies in really weird hats.

If your baby dog is a little uncomfortable with strange humans, and you ask the leash runner to wait until after you have started your run to grab you leash… Fine.

If your dog will leave the ring with the sole purpose of attacking another dog and you ask the ring crew to assume a linebacker position to guard the entry and exit gates to keep your dog from escaping.. NOT FINE.

If your dog has an issue with a certain breed or type of dog and you ask an owner of that kind of dog if you can spend some free time together to work on it… Fine.

If your dog has a complete mental breakdown and is not able to function because it saw a Border Collie tugging and you get mad at the collie and/or its owner… NOT FINE.

Go back to where ever you setup, sit down, have a drink of water and seriously ask yourself why you are putting your dog through this.

If you are honest with yourself the answer is not going to be “playing.”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Footwork: CHECK!

Verdae's footwork is looking amazing! Going to be so much fun running this guy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Verdae Meets a 3-Week Old Canadian Goose.

Today, on the way home from agility, Suzanne and I saw a weird looking animal cross the road. Once we got closer, we realized it was a baby Canadian Goose! His parents or siblings were no where in sight.

We picked him up, and decided to re-locate him. We moved him to a duck pond in Battle Creek.

Verdae was such a good boy with the baby duckling we named Miles!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Then Life Came Marching In.


Have you ever felt like one day it just jumped on your back and won't let go till you decide what you are gonna do with it? Well, it’s on my back right now.

My little brother is graduating middle school Thursday. He’s growing up! Not only that, but I have an official date for my driver’s test. (My driver’s test? Wait, I didn’t agree to this…). I’m in my last year as a “child”. When did I grow up? When did I come to the point that my childish years are going to be behind me? I’m going to have to make some changes.

This life thing comes with lots of decisions.

One that I have been working on is what I am doing with my life. My conclusion has pretty much come to this. "If you want to know where your heart is. Look to where your mind goes when it wanders". What wise words. And the truth is, I wasn't letting myself go to that place for a long time. I really couldn't tell you why. Probably self doubt, wanting to hang on to things, and worry. But here I am. I know you are all wondering... Well, where the heck did it go?


Yes, I see my grandparents and brother every day. Let me explain.

I grew up in a "odd" situation. I got to see most of my cousins almost every day. We had family get-togethers at least once a week. Not only them but I grew up at with my mom. I also went to a lot of camps. Church camp, band camp, summer camp, horse camp, you name it, I’ve went. t was like a family too. Big groups getting together and just having fun. I think this is why I love dog showing so much because it reminds me of this.

My heart has been longing for home. Home with my family, the crazy get togethers, the bickering, the problems, the laughter, the joy. It has been years since my family could all be together and function in the same house for long periods of time. Maybe it’s because we’re Italian? I’m not sure.

And so, with that. I am planning something big. I am scared out of my mind. I mean to go work on my OWN scares me to death and at the same time is strangely invigorating. I am thinking about taking classes to do Animal Assisted Therapy. I have been thinking for a long time about what I want to do as a "career". I feel like this will combine everything I love and still leave me time to do things like train, trial, and do other things. I plan after taking the classes to work on some type of program with children. Not sure what exactly yet, I just know that’s what I am called to be doing! So with that- "Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its troubles. It just empties today of its strength. - Corrie Ten Boom

Monday, May 14, 2012

Verdae, VP1!!!

He isn’t famous. He isn’t on the World Team and he hates having his toenails cut. Although, this dog KNOWS how to show! Verdae blew the competition away. In my opnion, Verdae is the best German Shepherd on the planet.

Friday, May 11, 2012



Now that I got that out of my system, we have just arrived at the Red Roof Inn, in Deerfield, IL. Tomorrow is the big day!

With 93 dogs entered, it is a big show. A very big show.

Well, we're off to catch some zzz's!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaching Tug Toy Release

By: Bad Dog Agility.

This quick, easily taught 3 step method works best for dogs with a very strong drive for tugging and no desire to let go. If your dog won’t stop tugging even when you wave a hot dog in front of him, this method is for you.

Step 1: Immobilize the toy. Your dog loves the action tugging creates. If you no longer provide resistance to your dog’s tugging, this lessens her enjoyment and will usually provoke a response–like releasing the toy. I like to trap the tug toy with both hands against my thigh.

Step 2: Give your cue. Say it immediately after you have stopped tugging with your dog. My older dogs were taught to release the toy when I said “leave it” but I’m using “thank you” with my new puppy. I start using the verbal cue with the very first repetition I attempt with a new dog.

Step 3: Restart the game. As soon as your dog lets go of the tug toy, IMMEDIATELY restart the game by giving your cue to take the toy (mine is “get it”) and moving the toy AWAY from your dog. Moving the toy away from your dog is critical as this will instantly stimulate her prey drive and make for a very satisfying reward–another game of tugging. Your dog will learn that the quickest way to a great game of tug is a fast release of the toy when cued by the handler.


Q: My dog took a while to let go of the toy.

A: That’s okay. Some dogs may take several seconds to let go of the toy; just wait for them to let go, and IMMEDIATELY give your “get it” cue and move the toy away from them.

Q: I can’t immobilize the toy because my dog is too big and stronger than me.

A: You can try using a leash to prevent the dog from pulling away from you, but you must find a way to immobilize the toy or this method will not work. You may have to try a different way.

In the video below, I demonstrate the 3 steps with my experienced, 9 year old border collie Rook and my new 6 month old border collie Miriya. Miriya has great toy drive but very little food drive, and will not stop tugging for any food. This is just her 2nd session working on this skill, and you can see her steadily improve as she begins to understand the structure of the game.

Almost 7 Months!

When Julie asked me if I wanted to be the little long coat boys mom 6 & 1/2 months ago, I had no idea what a fantastic journey that dog would take me on. He is the sweetest momma's boy who wants to do everything with me, and the faster the better! He never runs out of energy and willingness to work and he tries so hard to make sure he gets his job done right. He is the ultimate teammate and I can't imagine my life without him. As a trainer, he is the best demo dog I could ask for. And although I am proud to say that Verdae is already a great agility dog, I must admit that he made it easy for me by being an exceptional dog. It seems weird to be writing this as it sounds like the ending of a long story, but my little baby boy isn’t even a year old yet! After starting with journey, Verdae has been busy and I've been trying to keep up with him!

And although I have very high hopes for Verdae, it truly is the result of the years of dedication Julie, Verdae's breeder, has put into her tremendous breeding program that consistently produces dogs that are capable of what Verdae has accomplished. Verdae and I will continue to train in agility and herding plus we are going to start flyball to see what amazing skills he has in that. Verdae is a dream come true and this is just the beginning of that fantastic journey with this amazing dog! Thank you, Julie, for my very special "dream come true"!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Verdae doing what come so natural to him...

Verdae. Making sure he isn’t afraid to stick his nose in a box to get a treat... Really? You think that would be a problem?

Lures Verdae in with three boxes and she tosses all three indifferent directions rather quickly.

He has to figure out which box the treats are in.

Jackpot! He found them!

Beach Day Agan!

Verdae running the beach line as the sun sets.

Sorry about the crappy cell phone picture...