Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Random thoughts on random subjects

Autumn starts today (or tomorrow, depending on which calendar you look at.) The forecast high is 80 degrees with tropical (there’s that d*mned word again!) dew points and the possibility of severe thunderstorms. I’m lusting after crisp autumn weather, falling leaves, apple cider, Halloween, etc. . . . and we’re replaying July and August.


Phoenix and I are taking a heeling class on Wednesday nights. It is so amazingly, awesomely, totally COOL to be taking a class, not teaching one. In the 3 1/2 years Phoenix has been with me, we’ve taken a total of one, count them, ONE, obedience class. Many agility classes. One obedience class.

Phoenix isn’t the first dog I’ve trained (in spite of frequent indications to the contrary!) so we don’t really need a constant parade of classes in order to make progress. I can — and do — train mostly on my own. But wow, is it great to be able to focus on my dog for a whole hour in a busy class environment without having to split my attention seven different ways for students. What a treat.


A woman e-mailed me. Her daughter showed the family dog at the county fair 4-H show and “did real good.” Now the mom wants to show the dog. What does that involve and how much does it cost?

I wrote back and told her about getting the dog registered, encouraged her to have it spayed/neutered, talked about taking group classes and/or private lessons, the need to train consistently for about a year before being realistically prepared to show, told her how to get a copy of the obedience regs from the AKC, explained how 4-H county fair judging differs from AKC obedience trials, encouraged her to join the local obedience club to get involved in the sport, talked about entry fees running about $25 per class, plus motel and travel expenses and the need to enter trials in advance.

That was three weeks ago. I haven’t heard a word from her since.


Big camping weekend coming up! The agility trials this weekend are held near a really nice campground run by the local conservation board and this is an annual group camp-out for a bunch of us. The number of die-hard (which might be another word for stupid) campers has dwindled a bit over the years. Several folks have fallen under the spell of the local motels. Others have graduated from tents to actual campers with microwaves and air conditioning.

But there are still a few of us who enjoy putting up our tents and roughing it. Is it truly roughing it if you can have a hot shower in the morning and your friends in the campers make coffee for you?

Each time I crawl in or out of my tent, I wonder how much longer I’m going to think this is fun, so I plan to enjoy every minute of this weekend. There will be campfires and s’mores and all that good stuff. Can’t wait.


I’m re-teaching Phoenix’s send to the scent articles. Initially, I thought it would be best to send him after a sit, giving him time to focus on the pile before going to it. Having taken that in the ring this fall in Versatility and Wild Card Utility, I’ve changed my mind.

As with most things, the re-training is going slowly. In spite of the reluctance and confusion he showed about the turn and sit in the ring, he’s pretty darn sure that’s what I want in training.

I’ve changed the command although I’m not sure that has registered much. He pays more attention to the context/set-up of the exercise than the words I’m using.


We had some cat-induced drama at our house earlier this week. We’ve had some trouble with the neighbors’ cats hanging out at our place. Farm cats being what they are, I can’t exactly call up the neighbors and tell them to keep their cats at home. That only works for their dog. And it doesn’t really work so well for him, either.

Anyway, I let the dogs out before bed and there was one of the neighbors’ cats INSIDE the fence of the dog yard. There was a great deal of yelling and yowling and tooth-snapping and even some fur flying while the cat, both Belgians and I ricocheted around the yard for awhile. The cat escaped and has not been seen since. Hopefully it spread the word that our place is not safe.


  1. Random Comments:
    So I'm intrigued by what a "heeling class" entails - sounds interesting?
    Your camping weekend sounds like so much fun and I miss that (we used to do that at our Blackfoot trials - okay RVs but still)!
    Any cat not smart enough to smell dog deserves what it gets! LOL Maligator included.

  2. Oddly, neighbor cats don't seem to come in our back yard anymore. This is very sad for Taz, whose favorite game on the planet is "chase the strange kitty over the fence."

  3. Ok - yes, I'm going to the motel. I camped once with this group. They made a little fun of my dogs running around doing laps in the tent in the am. and then I will NEVER forget a blood curdling scream in the shower adventure. I will miss the fire and smores however. Looking forward to a fun week-end no matter where/if people are sleeping!

  4. we were laughing WITH you Rilda!!! it was hysterical to hear your little dogs doing laps.

    can't wait for this weekend!!! love love love this trial!!!

  5. I am looking forward to the cool crisp fall weather also. The heeling class sounds so much fun! I instruct classes also and rarely get the chance to take a class with my own dogs. I miss packing up my training bag every week and heading off to a class and worrying about nothing except having fun with my own dog. Last year I set up open practice nights for our local training club twice a month where we meet at different places and practice together. We are doing it this summer/fall also and it's been a lot of fun. Not the same thing as taking a class but I can still go and focus on my own dog.

    Speaking of scent articles, I've been teaching Noel scent articles with Connie Cleveland's new method using the xmas tins. We're at the point of using the tie down board now and are working through the transition. So far I really like this method because it teaches the dogs to use their nose right away and the entire process is pretty fast. My husband Scott has been teaching this with his deaf dog also and so far, so good. Just curious if there was anyone else who has tried this yet.

    Good luck to all of you at the agility trial this weekend!