Saturday, December 20, 2014

I took the plunge, we have a new addition.

I've spent this last year reading about different dog breeds and talking to a ton of people about adding a dog to my household.  I've taken the plunge and added Piek to our family.

He is really sweet and is looking at Marley for household cues.  He is a bit toy obsessed which is a nice change from Marley's indifference.  He is not quite sure what to make of the cats.

Marley likes him, but she seems to be waiting for him to go home.  The cats are not happy.  Bob is determined to put him in his place and Mojo is just hiding.  I think its pretty good for our first day.

I'm very excited and I hope to share his adventures with you this next year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We tried Barn Hunt

I kept hearing about Barn Hunt and I was intrigued.  I spoke with a few friends who had "interesting" experiences I decided I wanted to start with a workshop.  I love workshops, can you tell?  In my quest I found Straw Bale Productions and I signed us up for a clinic.

We had a great time.  Bruce and Scott were friendly and very helpful.  Bruce is the nosework guy and Scott is the rat guy.  The morning started by a quick review of the sport and the rules.  They had copies of the Barn Hunt Association rule book for us to review.

They mentioned some dogs get it immediately and others need some instruction; actually the humans need the most instruction.  It is very similar to nosework, in which the handler needs to recognize the signs that the dog has found the rat and be confident when calling the rat (basically indicating where the rat is located).  This is not as easy as it sounds.  In addition to finding the rat the dog needs to go through a straw tunnel and climb a bale of straw.

They had three stations stet up for practice.  The first was just a bale of straw and a rat in a clear tube.  The second was a novice set-up, and the third was an advanced set-up.  Each station was staffed by a volunteer.

I started at the first station with the rat and the one bale of straw.  Marley went right up to the tube and tried to get the rat out.  The second time she just looked around and tried to go into the other stations.  I walked her around and asked her "Where is the RAT?"  I think the most difficult part was trying not to use "find it" which we use for nosework.

The second station with the novice set-up was interesting.  Marley was just excited to be off leash near straw.  It took a while to get her to focus on looking for the rat.  It took us a while to sync into a team. She received a lot of praise and I decided to try the first station again before progressing to the more advanced station.

The second time at the first station I made it a bit more difficult for her by standing further away from the station and asking her "Where is the RAT?"  Once she was really excited and had some easy success we moved on to the more advanced station.

The advanced station was larger, more complex and we were timed.  This was not a blind search, I knew where the rats were located and could provide "help" if needed. I have to say the most difficult part of this station was keeping track of my dog.  She was just zooming around the straw and I kept losing her.

Once everybody has cycled through all the stations they ran us through a mock novice trial.  We had to call the finds and the dog had go through a tunnel and climb a bale of straw. We didn't know where the rats were hidden.

Marley completed the course in a minute and forty nine seconds.  She just ran by the empty tube and found the rats right away.  It took us longer to go through the tunnel because she kept looking for rats.  She was fantastic!

Bruce gave me great advice on adding another scent for her to find and how to help Marley distinguish nosework from barn hunt.  He also provided information on how scents move through straw.

If you want to try Barn Hunt I highly recommend starting with a workshop or clinic to introduce your dog to the concept.  I liked how quickly Marley picked up the concept and is excited about hunting rats.

The rats were well taken care of and they were rotated at least once with fresh rats.  The rat in the clear tube spent the entire time grooming and sleeping.

We had a great time and I look forward to entering a trial soon.

After the workshop Marley and I went hiking at Point Isabel.  We do not go very often but every time we get close, Marley gets really excited.



Finally, we have exciting stuff happening in the next couple of months. This means I'll have more to share.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Black Cat Appreciation Day!

Also known as Mojo's Day! 

Mojo started his day by sleeping on Marley's tail, followed up by chewing on it for a while.  When Marley got up, he stalked her tail.  A game of chase followed the tail stalking!

Stalking Bob is always a fun game after breakfast.  After a busy morning Mojo will nap all day until dinner. He'll recieve a new catnip filled toy tonight.  Its a great way to celebrate his day.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Canine Cardiologist

I had the most surreal experience at our vet's office during Marley's annual exam.  The vet complemented Marley's svelte figure and sparkling teeth.  We talked about nutrition and she casually said, "Marley's heart murmur seems fine."

My response was, "No, Marley does not have a heart murmur!"  My vet looked at me and offered to check again at the end of the exam.  Once she did she confirmed the heart murmur and started talking about quality of life. I totally panicked and started asking a ton of questions in which I'm sure was a high pitched scared tone.  My vet suggested I schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, who might be able to answer all of my questions.  She referred me to three. I made appointments with all of them.  Did I mention I was panicking?

After conducting some research and calling all the cardiologists multiple times, I settled on one and tried not to overreact every time Marley coughed.  I found an overwhelming amount of information on canine heart murmurs and  a lot of anecdote about other dogs.

Our Canine Cardiologist was wonderful.  She conducted an EKG and an Echocardiagram on Marley.  The results indicate she has a degenerative mitral valve disease

This is a genetic condition and Marley was diagnosed at a rather young age. Her heart is still normal and her EKG and blood pressure are also normal.  We have a follow-up scheduled and will hopefully determine the rate of deterioration.  

The good news is the cardiologist gave us permission to allow Marley to gain some weight and we can continue our regular activities. 

I am still a bit overwhelmed at the fact that my sassy, athletic dog has a heart condition.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Agility Trial Adventures

This is our year!  I can totally feel that we are finally going to sync and work as a team during competition.  I just know its going to be awesome!  I have complete faith in Marley!

Isn't it funny how positive my mom is that I'll cooperate?

I've been so positive I signed her up for her first AKC agility event!  I was so sure we were ready that I entered her in Jumpers and Standard.  I blocked out my entire Memorial weekend for agility (yes, I know I'm a bit behind). I just knew Marley was ready to totally rock in Jumpers and I had high hopes for her in Standard.

What happened?

Day 1:  We entered Jumpers and I signed up for Jumpers and Standard in a fun match after the event.
Jumpers: We lined up and she was looking around while I led out.  I called her and she went over 3 jumps beautifully and entered the tunnel without hesitation.  I was so excited!  The then proceeded to sniff around the weave poles and she jumped over some jumps on her way to her leash.

Fun Match Standard:  While I walked the course I decided to stay close to Marley and support her through the course.  When it was our turn, I led out and I saw her eyes light up as she saw the A-frame.  We started and she flew over the jumps and hit all her contacts and she flew into the weave poles.  She was so AWESOME!  It was MAGICAL!  My heart nearly burst from pride!

Fun Match Jumpers:  Hyped up by our success in Standard I just knew we were going to be awesome in Jumpers.  We started and she jumped over the jumps, zoomed into the tunnel, flew into the weave poles and looked fantastic zooming into the second tunnel.  She flew out of the tunnel and started sniffing around... Yep, she was done.

Day 2:  We were entered in Jumpers and Standard. After much thought I decided I needed to provide Marley more support and not expect her to perform in the trial as she does during training.

Jumpers:  Our startline great and she was fantastic going over jumps and through the tunnel.  She was a bit tentative going into the weave poles.  She was doing so well and then she started sniffing and she went off course.

Standard:  I just knew this was going to be fantastic.  We were at the startline when we heard "Ready" and Marley was like, "why, yes I'm ready" and she took off.  Yep, I was inhaling her dust as she took the first two jumps while I watched in total shock.  Once it hit me that I shouldn't call her back I took off and met her at the third jump.  We were smoking hot as we completed the next three obstacles.  Then it happened...she flew out of a tunnel and missed the weave poles and the magic was gone.

Overall, I think Marley understands the game and she enjoys running the course.  She simply soars over jumps with a gigantic grin on her face.  She is happy and relaxed after our turn and she is not stressed over the excitement and noise of the event.

I'm not going to lie, I wish we had at least competed a course without being disqualified but I'm choosing to focus on the great things we accomplished and how happy Marley is playing the game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dog Park Closed

A light started this whole mess four years ago.  I went to the park and there were about 5 people huddled under the light of one streetlight.  It was dark and there was no way I could spot my dog as she ran around in the park.  I started asking around, why do we only have one light?  This of course led to more questions, such as, why does one side of the park have running water and shade and the small dog section is just a tiny patch of dirt?  Soon everybody was questioning the status of the dog park and getting involved.

Before you knew it I was conducting dog park crawls and presenting my findings to the park district.  One of the problems was the age of our park, about ten years ago it was the first in the area.  Today all new development includes a dog park.

Fortunately, everybody who attended the park regularly wanted to see changes, especially during the winter when the entire park became a swamp. The park district heard us and decided to create a Master Plan for our park. The public was involved in the development of the new plan and the Dog Park began to raise funds.  We sold as many dog cookies, calendars, and cookbooks as possible.  Our great committee chair sent out letters and applied for grants.  Contests were entered for a new dog park.  Community yard sales are being held to raise funds.  Everybody has contributed and worked hard to raise funds.

I am pleased to share that construction has started on the park infrastructure. Unfortunately, our park is closed for the entire summer.  
Signs on the gates.

Dumpsters scattered in the park.

Fencing has been removed.  Dying trees and concrete pads are gone.

I am so pleased with all the hard work of the Dog Park Committee and everybody who chipped in to raise funds.  This is fantastic progress, even though most of us are at a bit of a loss as to where to go in the evenings.  Marley misses her park and her friends.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Marley and the CAT

A few weeks ago a friend asked if Marley was taking the CAT.  I told her Marley has a kitten and I don't want another, thank you very much.  After she was done laughing she clarified, the Course Ability Test (CAT).  It turns out the Course Ability Test is an AKC lure coursing activity for dogs that are not sight hounds. All dogs can participate and earn titles and win ribbons.

At this point I decided to join the AKC Canine Partners Program, this is for mixed breed dogs also known as All American dogs. Not only will I be able to participate in the CAT but also in AKC agility, Obedience, and Rally and earn titles.  It was about $35 and easy to join, the hardest part was deciding on Marley's "official" name.
Marley guarding her first ribbon

Today we attended Marley's first AKC event.  It was so much fun!

She was so well behaved and really calm around the other dogs until they started testing the system.  At this point she totally lost her mind and started whining and trying to get the lure.  She spent most of the event in her crate covered with a blanket to prevent her from seeing the lure.

I ended up having to carry her into the field she was just so wiggly and squirmy and I was afraid she would hurt herself trying to run after the lure while on a leash.  She had a blast, she ran through mud, large puddles, and horse poop (her favorite).

No surprise to anybody who is a frequent reader...Marley passed the CAT!  She caught the lure and earned an orange ribbon!  Yep!  We have our first ribbon (I hope its our first and not the only ribbon we earn).

I am so proud of her!  If she passes the CAT two more times she gets a CA title.
Check it out!