Thursday, June 27, 2013

Some Pictures, Some Updates

The Group 4 photo of Rafe, taken at the Fargo, ND, show in early June finally arrived. As you know, Rafe is not a dog who wants to have his picture taken, so I was pleased that it turned out as well as it did. The judge is Charlotte Patterson.

I received an email from Ted, the owner of Lucky, who is a half brother to our current puppies. I appreciate Ted keeping me updated on Lucky's antics! Ted wrote, "I thought I would share with you a funny situation with our WalMart Greeter.  He seems to be expanding his functions in life.  I think he also wants to be a ball retriever. Ev and I went to a resort for a few days to relax and do some golfing  (I golf , Ev and Lucky drive the cart). Hole by hole I would pitch my ball onto the green and put it into the hole and then walk back to the cart and drive to the next hole. On the 15th hole , I pitched the ball on to the green and was getting my putter out of the bag when all of a sudden Lucky jumps out of the cart with his leash still on and runs to the golf ball---puts it into his mouth and runs back to the cart proud as punch. He surprises us most days with something new. He is quite the character." 

LOL!! Lucky obviously learned a new trick by observing Ted. "Hey, I wanna golf too! I'll just save Dad the effort and bring back that ball for him!"

Lucky's half-siblings (Mira is their mom) are growing and exploring and figuring out new ways to flummox me each day. They love trying to beat me through the baby gate! It's their newest game. The gate is new and does its job but I liked the old one much better. We had to forgo using it because Duncan figured out how to get out of it. The new one is higher, so I cannot step over it as I did the other one, which means opening and shutting it multiple times each day.

This week the new experiences for the puppies included a bath and a session under the big blow dryer on Tuesday and, on Wednesday, a trip in the car to the vet for first vaccinations. As usual, they were a hit at the clinic, with multiple staff members stopping by to see them and tell me how cute they are.

My girl, Lila, 7.5 weeks
Hunter, 7.5 weeks

Jethro, 7.5 weeks
Rafe and I had an interesting experience on Monday as we conferred via phone with an animal communicator. I'd had two previous experiences with an animal communicator, one regarding our dog, Davy, who simply did not want to show for me. Based on what she said after communicating with Davy, I turned over his handling to my friend Jane, and we let him go home with her and play with the Shibas. That was what he wanted! A couple months later, he was a champion and could rest on his laurels and not go to anymore shows!

The second experience was a face-to-face with a communicator at a show in MN. Breaker was a great dog to show -- as long as there were no loud or unusual noises around the ring he was in. Well, if you have ever been to a dog show, you know that loud and unusual noises are all part of the background and have to be endured. Breaker finished fast, getting his first points in May and his championship in late August, shortly after he turned a year old. However, the noises made him antsy and unreliable, so when I saw the communicator's booth at the show, I thought I'd see if she could provide insight into his problem. Unfortunately, she could not. He was willing to communicate about how he liked the showing and going to shows with me. But when she asked him about being afraid and antsy in the ring, she said it was like a black curtain fell down between them. He shut off communication and, she said, he obviously did not want to talk about it! She felt so bad that she did not even charge me for that consultation.

When we were at the Bloomington, IL shows in May, I began a conversation with a friend who lives there. Eventually, we began talking about a mutual friend whose husband recently died. She was taking her Lhasa to a communicator to help the dog get through her grief, which was making her act totally out of character. I mentioned I'd like to get inside Rafe's head to find out why he insisted on shaking his head in the ring and why he disliked having his picture taken. And that is how our Monday session with the communicator came about.

Did she provide some insight for me? Yes, indeed! I know now that I have some things to work on. For instance, Rafe feels confused and slighted because he does not understand why I used to show him first and now he has to wait until Windy shows. He doesn't like me leaving him at ringside with other people to show her. He doesn't like the rushing around when I come out of the ring to get him.

Now, if you know dog shows, this makes sense. Before the dogs are champions, the classes for males are judged first, then the females, then the champions. So, yes, for his first shows Rafe, being a puppy, always got to go in the ring first. He was only 8 months old when he finished so he was always first in the ring. I was also showing Maggie then, and she had to wait to go after him. Now it is different. I do have to rush, especially if Windy wins her class and has to go back in for Winners Bitch. The specials go in immediately after the WB class, so there is very little time to switch dogs and armbands and get back in the ring with Rafe. So we worked on a strategy and will see how it turns out. I'll try it this weekend.

Oh...and he prefers his headfall be airy and fluffy! It bothers him when I brush it down close to his head, so he shakes. (He's gonna have to get over that by himself! LOL!)  I have a strategy, and will let you know if it works!

The communicator also told me not to use the word "don't." She said dogs do not understand contractions. So "don't shake" is no good. "No shake" is better. They understand "no."

Finally, the photos: He dislikes the high energy that surrounds the area where pictures are taken. It makes him nervous and uncomfortable. He thinks there is too much stuff there. Okay, I understand his have a judge, a photographer who usually has an assistant, me (who tends to be happy and excited by the placement or win), generally a couple of my friends who are fans and supporters of Rafe and who help groom him for the picture, and then there are the props--often big baskets of flowers--and a sign indicating name, date of show, award. The groomers are brushing. I'm trying to stack him. The photographer is giving directions (e.g., move the front foot on your side back a bit; fix the tail, etc.). The assistant is squeeking some damn toy, trying to get the dog's attention. You get the picture.  And all the while, he is thinking, "Just get me out of here."

I understand what he means about the high energy in the area where the pictures are taken. At the end of the day, during the group judging, there is a lot of high energy in and around the ring. People are cheering for their favorites and, of course, those who win or place in the groups are super-charged with excitement and energy. The first place they all head to is usually the photographer's set up to get  a photo to commemorate the event.

So, I understand...but I still wish he'd focus and hold still for the picture. We'd get out of that environment he dislikes much faster that way!

All-in-all, the conversation with the communicator was a good one. I came away with some insights into Rafe's experiences and opinions. He does like going to the shows and doesn't want to stop. He feels special and enjoys the attention he gets when people say how pretty he is. What he wants is more attention from me (hmmm....some jealousy of Windy perhaps?). I'm a little apprehensive about his response when I start showing Duncan! Oh...and Rafe likes his name. He thinks it is funny when people mispronounce it and I correct them.

We're headed for two all-breed shows and a Lhasa Apso specialty in West Bend, WI, this weekend. Wish us luck!

Here's a recent article, HSUS Says No More Animals, I thought some of you might be interested in reading. It was printed in the June 21, 2013 issue of the online publication, Dog Press.

Life is better when you have a Lhasa Apso to love you!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Weather on Our Minds

You can't get mad at weather because weather's not about you. Apply that lesson to most other aspects of life. ~ Doug Coupland

You'd think that weather was the only topic people are interested in. What's the temp supposed to be today? Is rain forecast? Did you hear they got inches over by (fill in name of town) last week? Can you believe this wind? People complain that it is too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too windy...LOL. I guess weather is one thing we all have in common.

On to the updates...

Day 15 of my summer cold. Enough said on that topic!

Remember when you were a child and the summer days seemed long and endless—in a good way? The kids in our neighborhood were not bored in the summer. Our parents and caretakers were more than ready to scoot us outside and tell us to stay there. We played with neighborhood kids, went swimming, and created new games and made up new rules for old games. Summer isn't like that anymore—not for this adult! June is more than half gone and, for me at least, none of those days have been lazy ones.

I received a note from Gail about Piper. Gail wrote, "Piper is doing great... She still plays like a puppy with her squeaky toys. You would never guess she is a senior citizen with limited vision - except for a few gray hairs - but then of course I have a few more gray hairs too - so we are still a perfect match. You still have my sincere thanks for letting me have such a sweet girl with such a joyful disposition." Piper is known to the AKC as Ch. Joyslyn The Charmed One.
A photo taken of Piper when I was showing her (about 9 or 10 years ago)

I had a good conversation today with Mary, Gabe's owner, who updated me on his antics. He sounds like quite a character. Mary adores him and evidently the feeling is mutual. They seem to make a perfect pair.

I also received a call from Carol, a woman looking for a new Lhasa puppy. I was sad to tell her we had nothing available. Her Lhasa died three weeks ago. She would have been 20 years  old in September. Wow! I was impressed by that. Our oldest lived to be a month shy of 17 years old.

Laurie wrote that she is taking Zora to obedience classes again (they were dropouts the first time!): "She is such a smart dog. Now I just have to practice. She's a little bugger with other dogs sometimes, so I'm going to get her to group class. Also, she barks loudly. Yes, she was bred to alert us, but she is really, really loud. Our trainer explained that we just have to give her tasks to get her to focus and then learn what "Quiet" means. So far, I think it is working. She's catching on quickly. If she can get over the barking at other dogs, I would love to get her in agility eventually. Hey, she is competitive and she has a registered name that was meant for something really cool. We can channel her energy into something positive."

Gabe and Zora are littermates of Rafe. It seems they all have that little stubborn streak. Rafe is smart and finds little ways to get back at me if he gets irked -- only he waits until we are in the show ring. He knows I hate it when we start moving for the judge and he shakes his head. (Why do I hate it -- it messes up both his headfall and his gait!) He also knows he is supposed to stack and stand still on the floor in the show ring. So what does he do? You guessed it. Like Laurie with Zora, we're working on that!

LaVonne, who co-owns Duncan's brother Jimmy (formerly known on this blog as Gus), sent a picture and description of Jimmy's favorite game: "We play a game every morning, I put them [the toys] in the middle of the living room and he 'sneaks' (he looks both ways before taking off) them back one at a time into the dining room in front of the table and then plays with them.  He is also willing to share them with the two older dogs.  He'll take one and lay it at either Tiki or Mandy's feet and then go into play mode.  Then they chase around the house playing tag."

Jimmy with a couple of his toys

Duncan has been attending training class the last couple of weeks. We made a special effort to attend because classes end this month (note that we leave home at 5:15 and usually don't return until after 10:00 -- all for a one hour class). He's been doing well! He has a great attitude and is happy and playful but able to get down to business, except he, too, wants to wiggle around when he is supposed to be stacked on the floor! Unlike Rafe though, he is not yet even 5 months old, so I'm cutting him some slack!

Below are pictures taken of Duncan today. He'll be 5 months old on the 23rd. The color is true in the photo on the left. It's washed out by the flash in the photo on the right. Also, the white you see on his back is the white tip of his tail.

I'm hoping Duncan's first show will be in Waukesha at the end of July, just a few days after he is 6 months old. That is a 3-day show weekend but the weather is usually hot and muggy, so I will not enter him all three days. That is the only outdoor show we go to, and I'd rather get him acclimated to an indoor ring.

The babies are growing. They have taken over the utility room, much to Duncan's dismay. He wants
Lila at 6.5 weeks
to play with them but the size and age difference is a big one so their play together is supervised. Lila, being a female Lhasa, refuses to take any crap off Duncan and barks at him and gets after him if he gets too rough with her. The boys tend to be more tolerant and less territorial.

The puppies love being in the family room. I have a big comforter on the floor and they run, roll, and wrestle on it. Each will claim a toy or bone and stake out a spot on the comforter. Lila and Jethro play "cat," crouching low, sneaking up on each other, and pouncing at the last moment. Hunter has discovered the water bottle. I have a water bottle as well as a bowl of water in the 3 x 3 where they sleep. Hunter is intrigued by the water bottle and investigates how it works. They are learning, albeit slowly, about piddle pads and newspapers.
Hunter at 6.5 weeks
Jethro at 6.5 weeks

I'm an avid reader and recently finished reading Suspect by Roger Crais. The plot involves an injured police officer and a war dog wounded in Afghanistan. They meet at a police K-9 training center. The story was a good one, but what I enjoyed most about the book was the insight into dogs, how to talk to them, how to pet them, etc. that the trainer imparted to the police officer (who had lied and said "yes" when asked on his application if he'd ever had a dog and who really did not know much about relating to dogs). I wished I could have copied excerpts from the book just to give to people.

I'm gearing up for a trip to West Bend, WI for a dog show next weekend. Rafe and Windy will be going with me.

Life is better when you have a Lhasa to love you!  Give yours a hug!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pictures and Little Else

Unfortunately, my summer cold (a misery in and of itself) turned into bronchitis. As a result, I haven't done much this week to blog about.

However, for those of you who need a weekly "puppy fix," here are the latest pictures of Alvin and Mira's babies, now 5 and a half weeks old. We're starting to wean them and they are enjoying having a big room to roam in and more toys and new things to explore. They are great puppies and so much fun to watch!



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


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I've Been to Fargo...

A refrigerator magnet gift from Marsha
Marsha Susag has been after me for years to come to Fargo for the dog show. This year I finally told her that I would be there. Once home from the 4 days of shows at Bloomington, IL, when I saw how quickly I had to recover from those shows and get ready for the Fargo trip, I questioned my sanity about my decision to go! I think Rafe and Windy were also thinking I was crazy.

I had the good sense when I was making out the Fargo entries to realize that I needed extra time at home between shows, so I entered only Saturday and Sunday and not the Friday show. Rafe, Windy, and I left at 5:00 AM on Friday and were at the Fargo fairgrounds by 4:30 PM. (I love it that in Iowa and Minnesota the speed limits are 70 mph on the interstates. Illinois is still 65! That extra 5mph makes a difference. Okay it was an extra 5 miles plus!)

The weather was rainy and overcast for a while and from the mud at the fairgrounds it was evident that Fargo had had as much rain as we'd had in Macomb the past week. It rained more on Saturday and was windy and chilly. Sunday was a lovely day. The sun was out and the temps were pleasant.

We had good luck at the shows and I made some new friends from North Dakota who were set up near us and who helped me hold dogs at ringside. Jackie was showing Italian Greyhounds, and Vickie was showing Dachshunds. Both took Windy back in the ring while I showed Rafe for BOB. Windy did a wonderful job with each of them, especially since both were total strangers that she'd just met at ringside.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Windy took Winners Bitch for a point each day. Now she has 5 points, including a major. Rafe took Best of Breed each day. Saturday's judge was Charlotte Patterson and Sunday's was Ed Bivin. Rafe took a Group 4 on Saturday under Patterson. Hurray!

Marsha had a lovely 6 month old male puppy that won a point each of the three days and that took a Puppy Group 3 on Saturday. He's a cutie, and I think she can expect some great things from him. Her champion female, Lindy, who is Windy's mother, earned more points toward her grand championship. Now she needs only 2 points and she'll have it!

All in all, it was a great weekend. It was so nice to see Marsha again, and we spent a lot of time chatting. We had time on Saturday for Marsha to take me on a Fargo tour, introduce me to a favorite shop, and take me to dinner at a great restaurant. By Sunday, after loading up dogs and equipment then helping to clean up the kitchen area after the show (Marsha was in charge of the hospitality room and the judges' meals), we were both very tired. The dogs were resting comfortably and glad to be done for the day. Knowing I had an 11.5 hour drive ahead of me on Monday, I went to bed early. By 4:45 the next morning, the dogs and I were loaded in the car and on our way back to Illinois. I am very thankful not only for the safe trip there and back but also for audio books. Without them, my long distance travels would be unbearable!

While I was gone, Mira's puppies grew! They are much more active now and, to Mira's chagrin, are interested in her bowl of food. Mira does not like to share, even with her own babies! Here are photos we took of them last night at 4 weeks and 2 days old.

Also, the Group 2 photo of Rafe that I was sort of dreading seeing came in the mail while I was gone. For all the messing around we had to do to get that photo, it did not turn out as awful as I'd feared. Oh, there are things I would change about the way his front is set up, and I would definitely like to grab a brush and fix his head and tail, but it is what it is, and I feel fortunate that it turned out as well as it did. Note that we had to remove the platform. He refused to cooperate at all while he was standing on it. The photographer insisted that the floor was too dark for him and that he stand on a towel. Weird but, oh well...I was frazzled enough without arguing over a stupid towel. We'd tried the judge on the opposite side. We'd tried me sitting on the platform behind Rafe. We'd tried facing Rafe the opposite direction. If you look close, you can see how red my neck is...frustration and total embarrassment! I think if they had let me stack him on a table, he'd have behaved better.
Rafe, Group 2 win at the Scott County Kennel Club show, May 12, 2013
 with Judge Richard Miller
Rafe was slightly better behaved for his Group 4 photo last weekend. I warned the photographer and the judge about his dislike of  having his photo taken, and both were patient. From what I saw of the tiny digital image on the camera, I think the photo will be okay.

I received some cute videos of Yogi, a nice letter from Davy's owner, and this photo of Ella on her 6 month birthday.  All were much appreciated! Ella's face reminds me so much of Dancer's face. Dancer is Rafe's mom and Ella's grandma.
Ella - what a cutie!

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