Monday, March 29, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

This "favorite things" list is confined to the category of "For the Dogs." Here, in no special order, are some items that I definitely am glad I have.

1. Exercise Pens! Oh dear, I wish people who owned pets would discover what wonderful things exercise pens are. Raining cats and dogs?? Set up an ex-pen in your garage and avoid getting yourself and your dog soaked! Want to take the dog on the family picnic in the park? Take along the ex-pen and set it up so you can keep an eye on him. No fenced in yard and no time to walk the dog before you leave for work? Set up an ex-pen in the yard, on your deck or patio!

Ex-pens are sold in many different sizes to accommodate different size dogs. I have five ex-pens. four of my ex-pens are 24" tall and each panel is 24" wide. Each pen has 8 panels. The pens fold up into compact 2'x2' squares that are about 2"tall when laid flat. The 24" size works well for me because my dogs are not jumpers and because I can easily lean over and pick the dog up out of the pen. I had a 36" one once that had a door in it. I didn't care much for it; getting the dog out was darn inconvenient. However, I can understand how it'd be great for a dog that was a jumper. I asked my husband to take it apart, lay the panels on their sides and create a pen that is 24" wide with 36" panels. We took out a couple panels, making it 3' wide and 6' long. It doesn't fold up anymore but that is fine since it is the one we use permanently in the garage.

Two ex-pens stay in the trunk of my car and always go to shows with me, one for use at the hotel and one for use at the show site. Another is always set up in my garage. The other two are extras, folded up and carefully tucked away should I ever need them. Walker won one of them as a prize for taking a Group 1. The other, which is 30" high, was given to me when a friend passed away.

At shows the ex-pens are set up outside with a plastic mat under them, protecting the dogs' coats from whatever surface is under the mat. (There have been some yucky ones, especially if we had to set up in a stall at a fairgrounds!) The woven plastic allows urine to flow through so the dogs don't trail their long coats in it. In hotel rooms, when the weather is rainy, windy, or snowy and I don't want to get show coats (or myself) all wet or messy, I set up the ex-pen with a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth under it, flannel side up. I generally put in some newspapers or piddle pads too. The flannel fabric absorbs the urine and the vinyl protects the hotel's floor. The pen can also be used as a barrier if the room is cramped and you want to allow your dog to use the hotel bathroom (cover the floor with a flannel backed table cloth, newspaper, or piddle pads to protect it). Put the partially opened ex-pen in front of the bathroom door so you can keep an eye on the dog.

The ex-pen in my garage used to be a fold-up pen but has now become a permanent fixture. We used zip ties to attach pieces of ¾" PVC pipe cut the length of each side. The pipe is attached across the middle of each side to provide the necessary stability. The sides are now rigid. They don't move or collapse. Again…it's a time saver and coat saver on inclement weather days. We bought a horse stall mat to cover the garage floor. Atop it, we put the exercise pen and thick layers of newspapers. Puppies are paper trained in that pen and have no problem understanding at shows what the pen is used for!

The mats can easily be washed with soapy water and a hose, as can the tablecloths. I've also been known to put the tablecloths in the washer, set on delicate, and clean them that way. Buy the tablecloths at WalMart or Kmart after a holiday season and you can usually get a pretty good deal on them once they hit the clearance aisle! The ex-pens and mats can be ordered from any pet supply catalog. I got mine from PetEdge.

The list continues:

2. Piddle pads. Need I say more??

3. Wire-bottomed 3' x 3' puppy play pens! We use a 3' x 3' for whelping puppies and have done so since the late 70's.

4. Curved-blade scissors, used for trimming around feet.

5. Small electric (or battery operated) clippers for trimming between the pads of the feet.

6. My Chi hair iron. Excellent product for sealing the hair cuticle, adding shine to the dogs' hair, and giving the coats a lovely finished look!

7. Face combs!!! Great for mustaches! Great for training puppies to let you comb their faces and not nearly as threatening for them as a regular-size comb coming toward them.

8. Kenic Dry Pet Shampoo. It is not really "dry." It's a liquid. It just doesn't have to be rinsed out of the dogs' coat. There are many, many brands of rinse-less shampoos, but I like this one best. Rinse-less shampoos are timesavers both at home and at shows.

9. Latex bands for topknots, pony tails, and braids.

10. Martingale leads.

11. My Rubbermaid tub in which I pack my dog show "stuff," including grooming tools, grooming sprays, leads, ringside basket, treats, my Chi hair iron, my grooming smock, and sundry other essentials.

12. My Edemco stand hair dryer which I have had since 1978 and which is still going strong! I don't know if Edemco still "makes 'em like they used to" but I hope I never have to find out!

13. My bait bag which comes in soooo handy when my outfit doesn't have pockets!

And folks, here had to know it was coming! The Song! (to the tune of 'My Favorite Things" -- what else!)

Exercise pens atop plastic matting
Wide piddle pads with lots of thick padding
Wire-bottomed pens in which puppies play
These are some dog things that help make my day

My Chi hair iron and small electric clippers
Face combs and latex bands and curve-bladed snippers
Rubbermaid tubs and rinse-less shampoo
Without these dog things don't know what I'd do

The black velcro bait bag that pins on so clever
My Edemco stand dryer that I've had forever
Martingale leads to show dogs round the rings
These are a few of my favorite dog things

Other stuff:

The picture at the top of the page is of Zach. He and Desi are growing! She is not as photogenic as he is and we are having problems getting her to stop scrunching herself together when she is stacked. She makes herself look neck-less and roach-backed. Ugh! That is why you don't see a picture of her. I finally gave up! The puppies will be 5 months old on April 13. Their first show will be in Bloomington, IL over the Memorial Day weekend. We'll miss the Rock Island show, which was planned for their debut until I found out the show is on my niece's graduation weekend.

Zeke went home with a lovely couple on Saturday. Their previous Lhasa passed away in early March. She was two months shy of being 20 years old! Imagine!

We had a photo shoot with Mira on Sunday. Her championship certificate arrived in Saturday's mail, so her title is now official. I'll post some photos of her later.

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sharing a Picture and Other Stuff

And here she is...our lovely Mira, officially (at least to us) now known as Ch. Karlyn Joyslyn Who's The Fairest.

While I am eagerly awaiting AKC's posting of her final major, I wanted to share this photo with all my readers. It was taken the day Mira won her last major, giving her a total of 16 points.

Those of you who show dogs can now skip these next few paragraphs while I help my non-showing readers understand some of our "dog show jargon."

To become an AKC Champion, a dog has to win a total of 15 points. Each year AKC publishes what is known as a "Points Schedule" for each breed for each region (AKC refers to them as "Divisions") of the country. I live in Division 5, comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

(Let it be said here that most people wonder what the exact formula is that AKC uses to determine each year's Point Schedule, because often it makes no sense to those of us who are bound by what seems to be its arbitrary annual calculations.) But back to the topic...

Using the point schedule, a person can figure out how many points her dog might win at a particular show. The points are calculated by the number of each sex in competition. The more dogs entered, the more points the win is worth. For example, from May 15 2009 to May 14, 2010, the points for this region for Lhasas are as follows:
two males = 1 point, 4 males = 2 points, 5 males = 3 points, 6 males = 4 points, and 8 males = 5 points.
two females = 1 point, 4 females = 2 points, 6 females = 3 points, 8 females = 4 points, and 11 females = 5 points.

The Points Schedule differs for each breed and for each region ("Division") of the country.

Of the 15 points a dog needs for his/her championship title, at least 2 of the wins must be what we refer to a "major wins" or simply "majors." Those are wins of 3, 4, or 5 points. The majors must be won under two different judges.

The other wins can be what we refer to as "singles." That is, wins of either 1 or 2 points. A dog might win 15 (or more) single points, but without the 2 major wins, he/she cannot become a champion. Mira had 10 single points and one 3 point major going into competition on March 6. Her win that day earned her the second required 3 point major and resulted in her having enough points to receive her championship, for which I am very grateful.

Many thanks to Mira's many fans and to her breeders Karen Schlais and Jan Graunke.

On another topic...

I've started taking Zach and Desi to training classes, which entails moving at the speed of light after I get off work each Tuesday afternoon, flying home to get the dogs fed and pottied, getting myself and puppies in the car and on our way for an hour and a half (or so) drive to Peoria where the class is held, being at class an hour, then heading home again, arriving about 10 PM. Whew...

I am pleased to say that after 2 classes, both puppies are doing just great. Last night there were 2 five month old Shih Tzu there and my dogs thought that it was wonderful to see someone their size. Big and small dogs attend the same class, so we had a German Shepard behind us and a Shih Tzu ahead of us. Fortunately, the Shepard was benign and simply curious about that furry little thing in front of him, and the Shih Tzu was happy and willing to play!

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you. (It's also much better when one of those Lhasas does NOT get carsick each time she goes to training class, but that has yet to happen and is another story altogether! LOL)


Monday, March 8, 2010

Show Results!

"I get by with a little help from my friends."
- John Lennon

First the big announcement: We have a new CHAMPION! Ch. Karlyn Joyslyn Who's The Fairest (Mira) won the three point major on Saturday at the Belleville, IL show under judge Luc Boileau to finish her championship. One of her co-breeders, Karen Schlais, was there to witness the win. I was so excited. Mira showed well that day and I was proud of her. I'll post a picture of her when I get it (and if I like it!)

It was one of those show weekends when everyone entered could go home happy because we all won a major! Four of us had 9 class dogs entered: Polly had a male in the Puppy Dog class and a female in Open. Karen had a male puppy, a female puppy, and a female in the Bred By Exhibitor class. LaVonne had a Bred-By male and a Bred-By female. I had Belle in Bred By and Mira in Open.

• Mira took Winners Bitch on Saturday for the 3 point major that finished her.
• LaVonne's male "Winslow" took Winners Dog on Saturday and then took Best of Winners for the crossover major.
• Karen's jet black puppy dog "Ace" took Reserve on Saturday, won Best Puppy, and took a Puppy Group 3. His black and white parti-color litter sister "Ivy" took Reserve on Saturday.
• On Sunday Polly's puppy dog "Mark" took Winners Dog and Best of Winners for the crossover major.
• Karen's Bred By "Carley" took Winners Bitch. That was her second major, so she is well on her way.

On Sunday I had to keep Mira in the show so that the major would hold. Of course, none of us wanted her to win again so I had to try hard not to "show" her to her best advantage. That entailed me putting a lead on her that she does not like, not offering her liver as bait, not brushing her and tidying her up in the ring, not stacking her but just letting her stand naturally, not making eye contact with the judge but keeping my head down, and walking around the ring with the lead dragging, as if I was out for a Sunday walk in the park. UGH…I hated it. In spite of my best efforts, she won the Open class. Oh no…then I was panicked! She did not need to take Winners Bitch and win a major that she did not need. Those majors are precious and, any more, way too hard to come by. So I repeated my sloppy handling performance and Mira ended up taking Reserve. Whew!

Now, you are asking, "But, Joyce, what about Belle?" Well, Miss Belle did me proud, especially on Saturday. She did everything right and showed so pretty. She won the Bred By class. Of course that meant she had to compete against Mira for Winners Bitch. A huge "Thank You and I'm So Sorry My Dog Embarrassed You" goes out to friend Sandy Copeland who took Belle back in the ring for me and was quite chagrined when Belle put on the brakes and just laid down on the mat. If she couldn't go with mom, she was NOT going to go at all. Judge Boileau was disappointed and chewed on me a bit for not showing Belle instead of Mira in the Winner class. He liked Belle better and told me he would have put her up instead of Mira! I told him that that was what I was afraid of!

On Sunday, judge Joe Gregory had a different opinion of Belle and gave her a third place in her class of three.

Thanks also goes to Polly who saved a great grooming space for Karen, LaVonne, and me. By the time we got to the show site, the grooming spaces were gone. Had Polly not been looking out for us, we'd have ended up in one of the open-air livestock buildings at the fairgrounds. Not a happy thought for a chilly March weekend.

Except for the damper put on the weekend by the warning that some animal rights activists were on the fairgrounds, it was a great weekend filled with good sportsmanship, friendship, and laughter.

For those readers who do not show, please understand that animal rights groups, including PETA, are not a friend of dogs, dog owners, and dog show people. These activists often go to shows and open crate doors, hoping the dogs will run loose and what ??? – get in a dog fight, run into the street and get hit by a car, get lost and end up in an animal shelter? What a way to show you "care" about animals and their welfare! We were warned by the show-giving club and the AKC Rep. never to leave the dogs unattended at our grooming set up for that reason. Later announcements were made not to leave water in the crates left in the building over night, and if we did, to empty the bowls and wash them to make certain someone did not put a toxic substance in the water. I don't understand why the crazies think they need to harm innocent, well-loved, and obviously pampered dogs.

Perhaps when I can find the words to describe the scene, in another post I will tell you about buying a celebratory bottle of wine and how, since we had no corkscrew, we were able to free the cork (which was not really made of cork at all) using a scissors, two screws, a nail clipper, a tube of mascara, and a nail file. On second thought, perhaps that scene is best left to your imaginations. (You might imagine Ethel and Lucy giving it a try!) What I will tell you is that it can be done if you are determined enough and laugh enough. We were and we did -- and that wine was good!

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you – especially when she is your newest champion who likes to cuddle with you on the sofa!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


My husband escaped the midwest winter for a few days by visiting our daughter in Miami. He came home with a sunburn! While he was away, I spent the weekend in solitude, just doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Every woman needs a weekend like that!

The picture at the top of the page is the latest of Desi. All three puppies are doing well and growing fast. Zeke is a cuddler and lover, content to curl up on my lap. The other two are hellions. Zach has decided it is funny to dance away when I want to pick him up, so we are working on overcoming that behavior. He has quite a sense of humor!

Speaking of personalities, I recently retook the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. The last time I took it was in 1996. My personality types did not change in all these years. (I am not sure if that is good or bad. At least I am consistent!) Once again, I came out as an ISFJ, which means Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. The 8 types, which can appear in a variety of combinations are Extroversion (E) – Introversion (I), Sensing (S) – iNtuition (N), Thinking (T) – Feeling (F), Judging (J) – Perceiving (P). Here is the ISFJ description:

"Dependable, reliable and trustworthy, ISFJ's like to belong to solid organizations that are reasonable in their ambitions and loyal to their employees. They feel useful when their roles and responsibilities are clearly established and they can monitor their activities and productivity in tangible ways. They tend to be rather modest, traditional and conventional, to like sensible clothing, to be thrifty, careful and wise with both money and possessions. (I can see those who know me well nodding their heads! LOL) Once they accept a project, they will see it to the end. They manage their time well and are realistic about how much time and resources will be needed. They tend to like to stay in one neighborhood, often choosing to live close to where they were themselves raised. They are often involved with volunteer organizations and have a developed sense of citizenship and accountability. When they purchase something, it is after careful consideration; rarely will they buy something without having a known need or use for it. They may keep possessions for a lifetime and treasure those that were given to them. They tend to have a good memory for specific facts that are necessary in their day-to-day life at work and at home. They accumulate facts and details to orient themselves, relying on repeated experiences that have been proven trustworthy. A fact once experienced may be the product of circumstance and happenstance; it is not in and of itself reliable. When an introverted sensing type hears an idea, they rummage through reams of archived facts to find an experience that provides information for the relevance and realism of an idea. When an introverted sensing type utters, "It's never been done!" they are saying that no information about the relevance or usefulness of the idea is available to them. They tend to shy away from surprises and what is perceived as unnecessary change." (Again, I see you smiling!)

It's a decent description of me, more so than a lot of the horoscope profiles! (Although I am a Leo, so you know what that means!)

If you are interested in the Myers-Briggs, I think you can go online and take abbreviated versions of the inventory.

Back to dogs: For years and years I've been using the Golden Almond mat and tangle removing spray from JB Wholesale. That stuff works like magic! Alas…the company has discontinued the product. I have one full gallon left and less than half of the current open gallon. Then the search will be on for a replacement. If any of you have found a product you like, please let me know. I prefer getting recommendations rather than going through trial and error.

This week we are gearing up for a dog show. Mira and Belle are going to Belleville, IL to a show. Mira has not been in the ring since December. I hope she remembers what to do! With all the snow we haven't been able to do much practicing. Her coat had grown so long that when I groomed her Saturday I decided it needed trimming. Trust me, it is neither fun nor easy to trim a black Lhasa. Usually when I do it, Lynn brings his bright shop light in from the garage and focuses it on Mira so I can really see what I am doing. Of course, he was not here and I had no idea where to find the shop light, so I did the best I could.

For me, one of the worst things about showing a black dog is worrying about what to wear. As one of my friends warned me the day I got Mira, "Now you will have to change your entire show wardrobe." It was true -- I always wear black, or at least in my pre-Mira days. I have at least 6 black skirts in various styles and patterns!! I wear them with a variety of jackets, but still…it's the skirt that is closest to the dog! Last night I was digging through the closet trying to find something to wear this weekend. Having lost 50 lbs. this past year, I don't have a lot of clothes that fit me well so there is not as much to choose from anymore. I need to go shopping! I haven't shown Mira since early October so haven’t had to worry about show clothes that complement her color. (My friend Jane showed her in December when I could not go in the ring because I was recovering from foot surgery.) I came up with something for each day, and reluctantly left the black skirts in the closet. Just one more reason to want to get that last major on Mira! She of course, is just now going out of season. She is still swollen and occasionally twirls around to "get" her rear. I have visions of her doing a repeat of her performance at the Twin Cities Lhasa Apso Club specialty last August. Never a dull moment when Mira is around!

Wish us luck!

Life is good when you have a Lhasa to love you!