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Beyond the bales

July 1, 2021

This was an article I wrote for a CWCCA publication several years ago.  Most of it is still relevant as a beginner look into the sport.  The sport has grown and there are more classes and opportunities.  And now there have been over 260 Barnhunt titles awarded to Cardigans as of 7/1/2021.

Of course 2 of the stars of the article are no longer with us.  Lindy achieved her RATO and Sienna was the first Brussels Griffon to earn a Barnhunt title.  Bailey retired as she is now 12+ and she is not comfortable jumping on the straw bales.  But for bragging rights, Bailey is the first Cardigan in the sport to earn a Senior Barnhunt title. And now the new generation is just starting out with Cali and JeffJeff learning the Barnhunt ropes.

We are looking forward to getting back into trialing. Beyond the bales or adventures in Cardigan Barnhunt First of all I love Barnhunt almost as much as my dogs.  I started “in” dogs with German Shorthaired Pointers and I always loved going to the Hunt Test and Field Trials held for the pointing breeds.  The only problem was that the dogs were always so far out in front that you missed a lot of the work they were doing prior to the “point”.  Barnhunt gives you the opportunity to watch your dog and their up close and personal body language and as part of the team it is up to you to learn to understand that language.

Beyond the Bales – Written for a CWCCA publication

I started Barnhunt on a whim, it was established early in the North Georgia area and after reading about it and knowing how much fun my dogs had hunting SQUIRREL! I thought it would be something fun to try.  From what I read you could Barnhunt without any type of training but luckily for me there were some classes available.  We took a class and low and behold there was a trial the next weekend so we entered.

Our first trial experience was fun and partly successful.  At the time I was running Bailey a 5 year old Cardigan and Sienna a 5 year old Brussels Griffon.  Both girls easily passed their instinct test earning their RATI designation.  Novice was a bit more of a challenge as I had not yet learned to read my dog and their indicator of a live rat.  This is the key to Barnhunt, learn your dog and trust your dog!  Bailey indicates a live rat by “freezing” and perking up her ears.  When the ears go up I know there is a rat.  Sienna was much more subtle and would double sniff when there was a rat, but since it wasn’t moving she would move on looking for movement.  It took Bailey 4 tries to earn her RATN (Novice Barnhunt title) and Sienna it took 6 tries because I would miss her indicator.

Sienna became the first Brussels Griffon in breed history to earn a Barnhunt title.

Now just to make you familiar with what it takes to title a dog in Barnhunt here is a down and dirty list of what it takes to qualify.  Make sure you read the rules at www.barnhunt.com  but this will give you an idea:

Instinct: Dogs will need to indicate and handler will need to call RAT! from a choice of 3 lightly straw covered Rat tubes. One tube will be empty, one will have litter and one will have a live rat.

Novice: Dogs have 2 minutes to find the Tube with 1 live rat hidden it the straw either on the ground or 1 bale high. There will be 1 clean and 2 litter tubes hidden in the straw as well as the rats.  Additionally the dog must put all 4 feet up on a straw bale for the climb and negotiate the tunnel.

Open:  In additional to above it will be 2:30 seconds to find 2 live rats.  At least one live rat tube will be hidden off the ground level. Senior:  It would be 3:30 to find 4 live rats with at least 2 live rat tubes hidden about ground level.

Master: You have 4:30 seconds to find a randomly assigned number of live rats between 1 and 5 and there will be a total of 8 tubes hidden up or down on the course.

For Novice, Open and Senior 3 qualifying legs are needed to title.  The Master title requires 5 qualifying legs.  As you can guess it gets harder and the trust and teamwork needs to be spot on for those upper level titles.

Once it was pretty apparent that Sienna could take or leave Barnhunt, I introduced 9 year old Lindy (Bailey’s Momma) to the sport and she loved it and got her RATI is about ½ a second.  The only problem with Lindy was she wasn’t keen on climbing the bales.  Lindy has always been a bit of a lead butt where jumping was concerned.  She had no problem with the Rat or the tunnel but just didn’t want to climb.  As I moved Bailey into Open she started refusing the tunnel so now we had to train. 

How do you train without rats?  Since I couldn’t make class often (work, distance etc.)  I went to the Home Depot and got 5 bales of straw.  Why 5? Because it was what Fit in my Honda Fit!  I set up a 2 bale high opening anchored around my agility tunnel and started climb and tunnel work.  I treated for climbs and tunnels and it must have worked because Bailey quickly finished her Open Title (RATO) and became the first Cardigan to earn a Senior Barnhunt title (RATS).  

The girls have done their own Barnhunting this summer in the form of Yardhunting, no rodent is safe from them.  They let me know there was a rat in the fig tree and Bailey caught a chipmunk the other day.  I guess they are telling me it is time to get back to the hunt!  

Lindy is going back to Barnhunt this fall to see if she has learned to do the climb in competition not just the backyard.  Bailey will be starting out her quest for the Master title, sadly she is handicapped with me as a handler but I’m hoping I can do her justice.

Lots about Barnhunting hinges on instinct and prey drive but when you get to Senior and even more so the Master level it requires teamwork and communication.  I’m looking forward to seeing how we do later on in September.

Barnhunt is a growing sport and there are more and more clubs holding trial and training.  I hope there is one near you so you and your cardigan enjoy the hunt.  As a traditional “all-purpose farm dog” Cardigans can excel in this sport.  Currently there are 54 Cardigans with the Instinct title (RATI), 36 Novice (RATN), 14 Open (RATO) and 2 Senior (RATS) titles.  You should come and join us.    

A Sniffing Good Time – AKC Scentwork

June 9, 2021

The Nose Knows…… AKC Scentwork 

As I stated in an earlier blog post I am in no way an expert at AKC Scentwork.  I am currently trialing dogs in Novice, Advanced and Excellent and training for Master.  I also have a unique perspective as an AKC Scentwork Trial Secretary so these observations are coming from that knowledge. I am also only going to talk about AKC Scentwork, there are other venues and many of the same principles overlap but I currently only compete in AKC Scentwork so I have very little knowledge on the other venues. One of the great things about Scentwork is it a sport for almost every dog. 

It isn’t an extremely physical sport so almost every dog can participate (humans too).  Another thing that is very different is that the dog is the lead in this sport and the handler is just along for the ride.

The AKC describes the sport this way: “The sport of Scent Work is based on the work of professional detection dogs (such as drug dogs), employed by humans to detect a wide variety of scents and substances. In AKC Scent Work, dogs search for cotton swabs saturated with the essential oils of Birch, Anise, Clove, and Cypress. The cotton swabs are hidden out of sight in a pre-determined search area, and the dog has to find them. Teamwork is necessary: when the dog finds the scent, he has to communicate the find to the handler, who calls it out to the judge.

Teams are judged on a qualify/non-qualify basis. Your dog must use his nose to search out the hidden odors, and then alert you when the odors are detected. Dogs may paw, bark, point with their nose or body, sit, lie down, or use any other behavior to communicate the location of the odor.”

Most dogs love the sport as they are using their best sense, hanging out with their peeps and getting treats, what is not to love. So how do you get involved? 

First of all you do not have to take an in person class to get started (they can be hard to find and hard to get into as they are popular and typically small) there are lots of online resources to help get you started.  I personally took online classes at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  The classes helped me a lot especially in the beginning. 

There are a lot of resources on Facebook too, I follow Friends of Scent Work University, Scentsabilities Nosework Training Group and Scentwork Central to name a few.  These private groups have general info, and paid webinars that give a lot of help with different topics and exercises.  Plus in your region there might be a group that talks about trials and classes in your area.  Here we have a group called Southeast Scentwork that provides lots of info.

Even if you don’t have a class it is good to take your show on the road.  Try to find dog friendly places and get a friend to help with the hides. Because Scentwork is an individual sport even if you have a shy or reactionary dog you can still compete but remember you have to go to the trial so it is a good idea to make sure you are practicing outside your home environment.

So you are ready to compete, now what?

First like all AKC events you can find what trials are available by searching the AKC Events Calendar on http://www.AKC.org.  Once you find a trial make sure you read the premium (the instructions for the trial).  This will give you the classes available, when it opens and closes, entry fees, move up rules, judges etc. Just a reminder, especially for Novice handlers, you can only handle one dog per element. Also remember you can only enter the level you are eligible, if you have your Novice title in an Element you can enter Advance but you can’t jump to Excellent. You can enter different elements at different levels.

There are several types of entries.  Random Draw, First Received and Unlimited entry. 

Random Draw is just like it sounds, all the entries are received and then there is a Draw Until the trial is full.  You need to read the premium so you know when your entries need to arrive.  There is an opening day and a closing day.  The premium will give you those dates and the entry numbers available.  With a random draw after the closing date there is an additional 10 days in which to send in an entry which will be first in, first entered if the numbers haven’t filled or in order on the wait list.  Once the Random draw closing date the draw will be done based on when and where the premium has it listed, within 48 hours.  After the draw the trial secretary will send you the information as to your entry status, again typically within 48 hours but not always.  If the trial fills then you will find out about your waitlist status too.  If you are on the waitlist, don’t despair, you could still get in as people may have to withdraw.

First Received means just want it says, the first entry that arrives gets in the trial and the entries are received they are entered in the trial until the trial numbers are reached.  Then all others are on the waitlist.   Popular trials often fill on the first day so make arrangements to get your entries in asap if that is the one you want to enter.  Overnight mailing might be the answer. 

Unlimited entry – these trials are set up so that clubs will keep hiring judges as the max judge number is reached.  Just an FYI, a judge can judge 125 runs a day.  They trials generally have a lot of area to set up searches.  Again the premium will let you know if it is an unlimited trial.

Hooray!  You got in, now what?

After closing you will get an update from the Secretary that will include the judges program.  It may also include other useful information.  I can’t say it enough please read your info from the club.  As a secretary it is annoying to answer questions that are clearly answered in the sent material.   The judges program will tell you how the classes are going to run, concurrently, back to back, rolling start, numerical start.  Clubs run them differently depending on how they feel will make the trial run smooth and on time.  

You have all the trial info, now let’s go to the trial.

Remember you will be working from your car, so make sure you take everything to keep you and your dog comfortable, If it is warm take shade clothes and fans, if it is cold take your winter gear. Take a chair, water and snacks for you and your dog. Don’t forget your treats for your dog as you can and should reward at the source when you are trialing.

The club and judges will give you a briefing about what to expect, they will tell you about hides, times, warm up areas etc. If you have questions ask them, don’t hesitate to ask what you need to know.

Once you have successfully done your run (you trusted your dog right?) and you got your YES, remember not to share anything other than a thumbs up or down depending on your qualifying. This is an honor sport so don’t mess with the integrity of the sport for the other competitors. Sometimes the trial is set up to run back to back so if you don’t want to do that it is OK, do what is best for your team.

You will get a qualifying ribbon and then you will get your time. The judges have to sign off on the scoring so your official times and placements will be later. Please do not be that person and complain about how long it takes for official results. Rest assured the score room is working feverishly to get them updated as fast as possible. If you can’t wait for the official results then get them the next day or if you can’t do that ask a friend to get them for your. They are rarely mailed unless the club has had an issue with ribbons. Most trial secretaries will email official results so you will get that information.

Speaking of ribbons, the premium will let you know if the club is offering High in Trial and/or New Title ribbons/awards. If there are High in Trial there will be one for each level. To be awarded HIT the team must be entered in all Elements offered and Q in all of them, the team with the fastest time and fewest faults will earn the HIT ribbon. If a club offers Handler Discrimination in addition to other elements there could also be a High Combined Ribbon. There are also First thru Fourth placement ribbons for each level with Novice divided by the A and B classes for placements. Just an FYI if there is a TIE on time the tie is decided by the flip of a coin. As trial secretary I have had to do it several times. Also remember currently there are no rankings for Scentwork, the HIT and placements are just for that day and they are not recorded anywhere other than the trial results.

Ok, you got a ribbon!

You need 3 Qs to earn your title, the AKC also has an Elite level where if you earn a total of 10 Qs in a level you can get an Elite title at that level. You can stay in the level or you can come back to it to earn the Elite title. So if you go 1,2,3 and get your title you can move to the next level if the club allows move ups or you can stay put.

So I hope this helped to explain AKC Scentwork and you are looking forward to trying this fun sport with your dog.

Remember to have fun, be a good sport, maintain the integrity of the trial and most of all TRUST YOUR DOG!

Wow, that was FAST…. FastCat

May 25, 2021

I wrote this for one one the FastCat Social Media groups as folks were always asking about how to get started in FastCat. I think I will do a post for each of the Dog Sports to help explain to those who have either never done it or seen it themselves. Plus I will be able to find it to share when needed.

So FastCat 101

What and How to FastCat:

I am not an expert but I am running Bailey and Cali and they working on their FCats (top award) and JeffJeff is just starting out and I have Bailey who has earned her CAX in CAT tests which is a coursing course, so I have been to lots of lure tests. Here is some information if you have never done it before.

FastCat is basically a timed 100 yard dash. It is run with timers at the start and finish and is run in a lane that is typically fenced with snow fencing. I am sure there are places with different types of fencing but what you will see in the photos in this post is orange or blue snow fencing. Just for information CAT or Coursing Aptitude Test is where dogs chase a lure on an open course 300 to 600 yards depending on the size/breed of the dog, it is a different sport.

JeffJeff at his first puppy run

First of all there are generally no “classes” for FastCat, there are some locations that have practice runs at their facility but overall you are not going to find a FastCat class. There are things you can do to get your dog excited about chasing the “bunny”, by using a plastic bag on a flirt pole or to a radio car and see if your dog wants to chase it. If your dog LOOOVVVEESS you and will run really fast on a recall you can get times on that too. All of that means you don’t have to do any of the above, you can just show up and give it a try it. Some club have fun runs available but why not do the real thing? Of course unless it is a puppy run. Dogs have to be at least 12 months old to run the real thing.

FastCat is very popular so the first thing you need to do is find out what clubs are offering the test. You can join various club social media pages but all of the approved events will be on the Events page on akc.org. You can filter what works for you and then you can make plans to enter. Be aware they can fill up fast. There is usually a discount for pre entry and a higher price for day off entry (if there are any runs available. Measure your dog so that you can enter with the right Handicap (small, medium and large dogs have a different handicap).

Bailey Haulin’

Once you have an entry the club will give details about when and how to show up. Most clubs have 2 opportunities to run each day so you can plan to run twice each day. Each time you run is a separate entry (and fee). Lots of times you will have the opportunity to run in time blocks. Some people like to run back to back in the same time block or they want to space them out. It all depends on you and your dog.

What do you need? You and your dog. You should have 2 leads, slip leads work great. Your dog can run with a collar but the tags should be removed. You can release and catch with harnesses but your dog can’t run in a harness. You should make sure you have what you need for you and your dog to be comfortable while waiting your turn. Make sure you have water for your dog. Bring a chair, shade, snacks, whatever will make the day better. Running multiple dogs extends the time you are at the event.

Once you arrive you will check in and will do the soundness check. I call it the walk and wipe, all female dogs regardless of their reproductive status need to be wiped to check to make sure they are not in season. All dogs will walk for the checker to make sure they are sound. Lame dogs and girls in season cannot run. Your dog will do the soundness check before ever run (even if you just ran).

Once you are checked in you will be assigned a place in line. Please don’t be THAT person, pay attention and go when it is your turn. If you have a high prey drive dog recognize that and take action to protect your dog and others. FastCat gets dogs amped up and even normally calm dogs can be FastCat jerks. Watch your dog!

Run Cali Run!

If you didn’t bring a friend make sure you know who is going to release/catch before you get to the line. The club should have let you know if there is club member to help or if you need to round up your own help. There are normally folks available to help as everyone one is there to have a good time with their dog.
Should you release or catch? A good rule of thumb is whoever the dog loves the most should catch but it is all about you and your dog. FastCat is built for successful runs. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Cathy has to Hold On to Bailey, she loves to run

Be patient! Everyone will get a turn. Equipment breaks, dogs play keep away, lure needs reset, weather goes wonky, timers don’t time and yes the lure operator might need to go potty! Be a good sport and if you can’t be a good sport then don’t enter.

You got your chance to run and you got a time. The club will give you a Q ribbon and your time. If they don’t calculate your points then you can use the formula to figure them out. The time is converted to Miles Per Hour (MPH). FORMULA: 204.545 / RUN TIME = MPH MPH X HANDICAP = POINTS (ROUNDED TO NEAREST 0.01) Based on the dog’s size at the withers, a handicap is applied and points are earned: 18” or greater = Handicap is 1.0 • 12” up to less than 18” = Handicap is 1.5 and 12” and under = Handicap is 2.
You need 150 points for the BCAT title, 500 for DCAT and 1000 for FCAT (the letters don’t mean anything) and the point accumulate so you start with 150 points toward your DCAT after you finish the BCAT. Most clubs give nice title ribbons so if that is import to you plan accordingly.

There is a ranking by breed and speed that can be found at https://www.apps.akc.org/apps/fastcat_ranking/

Cali’s DCat Ribbon (and some Barnhunt from the same weekend)

So lots of words, but I keep seeing the same questions so I thought I would write something up. I am sure there will be people who have other words to add, but this is a start.

It is ok to share. And remember this fun, not world peace.

Being of Sound Mind and Body

May 24, 2021

I have had dogs all my life, literally all my life, I have had bird dogs, and hound dogs and herding dogs and toy dogs. I have had big dogs, little dogs, crazy dogs, and lazy dogs, and every single one of them a fantastic dog.

I have been involved in dog sports for almost 25 years so I have been doing things with my dogs for a long time but it has only been the last few years that I started thinking about Canine Enrichment and about what my dogs do and think about all day.  It became very clear to me during the pandemic lockdown that I could be offering my dogs an even better life than the spoiled dog life that they live.

The lovely Bailey at 12+

Our JeffJeff was born on 5/5/2020 at the height of the Corona Lockdown and I worried a lot about his socialization, he was a singleton puppy stuck at home with his momma and 6 senior dogs.  How was I going to make sure this puppy got what he needed to start life as a well-rounded puppy. Thankfully there were lots of resources available online, PuppyCulture* had a timely course on raising singleton puppies, GoodDog.com University and the team at Avidog* did a wonderful series of online classes about age-appropriate socialization called Savvy Socialization and we did a Puppy Jump Start class virtually through our training partners and instructors at Canine Country Academy (CCA).  When things opened up a bit we were able to go to Lowes and our favorite store Tractor Supply Company and ride around in the buggy. He became a champ at puppy playgroup at both CCA and Atlanta Obedience club (AOC) and eventually got to attend beginning classes at both places and earned his first AKC certificate as an AKC STAR puppy!

Puppy Play Group at CCA
First trip to Tractor Supply

During his baby puppyhood, we started on enrichment, different toys and activity centers, ramps, surfaces, and platforms, and of course his beloved baby slide.  As he got older we did puzzles and snufflemats and ball pits.  I am proud to say he has a great temperament and is a smart brave boy with an outstanding outlook on life and his own social media fans.

JeffJeff loves his slide
IKEA toys that make good sniffy toys

All of that sort of lead into what was I doing for the big dogs.  Like almost all Cardigans the senior crowd (and Cali) are strongly motivated by food and my dogs particularly enjoy fruits and veg.  Anyone who has hung around our Solstice site has seen many photos of the infamous Watermelon Sundays.  We have expanded on that with the “enrichment zone”.  We have a high deck and we toss fruit and Veg off the deck into the grass zone and sniffing and eating commence (they look like grazing cows).  The Enrichment zone gives the dogs a reason to go out and sniff.  Sniffing really engages their brains and to find the treats they not only have to use their senses but it is a competition too. We are currently working on our Sensory Garden too, we are getting lots of ideas from the Facebook groups Canine Enrichment and Sensory Gardens for Dogs.  We have our slide and kiddy pool, agility tunnel and we recently cut down a tree so adding some logs as soon as we can get them in position and I am working on a scentwall to use for fun and Scentwork training.  

Watermelon!
The Enrichment zone
A bigger Slide
Tunnel peekaboo

Inside we use treats and chews, bones and stuffed Kongs, lickimats, etc for self-entertaining as well as assorted squeakies and tugs.  JeffJeff and Cali mostly play with the toys.  Banner does love to carry around a soft toy so we always have something causing a trip hazard on the floor.  JeffJeff loves his squirrel tree and hedgehog log where he gets to pull the critters out of their dens.  Of course, most of what they do during work from home time is engage with their dog beds all around my office. 

Squirrel tower
Hedgehog log

All of the Senior dogs are retired show Champions so they spent their younger years going out and about, everyone except sweet Banner (who is the ultimate stay-at-home girl) has some sort of working title so training has always been part of their lives.  We try to keep it up but admittedly it doesn’t get done as much as I would like.  We don’t use our doggy gym equipment enough either.  As an AKC Level 1 Fitness instructor, I am very lazy with doing fitness exercises with my dogs.  Like most fitness things I find more interesting things to do, bad owner!

Keeping my pack of sound mind and body has become much more than good nutrition and veterinary care but the everyday conscious effort to engage their minds and be present in their lives, they are so much more than just background and they deserve to be front and center.

Hope this gave you some ideas and resources for doggy engagement.

Puppy Culture –https://shoppuppyculture.com/

Avidog   – https://www.avidog.com/

Canine Country Academy – http://www.caninecountryacademy.com/

Atlanta Obedience Club – https://atlantaobedienceclub.org/our-events/

Resources:  Facebook Groups – Canine Enrichment and Sensory Gardens for Dogs

Books:  Canine Enrichment the book your dog needs you to read by Shay Kelly 

Toys and Puzzles:

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/duktig-14-piece-vegetables-set-70185750/

https://www.amazon.com/LickiMat-Classic-Reduction-Alternative-Turquoise/dp/B08X79B362/ref=sr_1_27?crid=1AD8J7GE9D4KS&dchild=1&keywords=dog+puzzle+toys&qid=1621553503&sprefix=dog+puz%2Caps%2C699&sr=8-27

https://www.chewy.com/trixie-mad-scientist-turn-around/dp/146131?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=TRIXIE&utm_term=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwkZiFBhD9ARIsAGxFX8BfT9sIj_vzbqK-P1bVqkYRHvA1hEd4FXerSJ-wtS6JMvGiNZWsNLIaAuYdEALw_wcB

https://www.kongbox.com/

Our Season in the Sun

April 23, 2021

PJ – GCH/UKC CH/ICKC CH Mariel’s Flying Spirit, RN, FDC

January 17, 2007 to April 23 2021

Goodbye to you my trusted friend

We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the hills that we climbed
Were just seasons out of time     

My very good boy’s spirit has flown away from me towards the Rainbow Bridge.

I wanted him in my life before he was ever born and I can’t thank Marian Mizelle for the honor of letting him be part of my life for all these years.  And to my dear friend Kathy Davis for being his co-owner (our very first partnership). 

New Champion with Kathy

I adored him from the first moment and we have enjoyed our love affair with each other all this time.

He was a winner from the first time he stepped in the Show Ring.  He was biddable boy and earned an RN when the sport was new with very little training or practice, just because I asked him to do it.

Runner Up Brindle dog at the Megan

At home he was a “frat boy dog” he liked to chase the girls, hang out on the couch and eat chips and watch sports. 

He was the “fest” dog as he loved to go to events to visit and “eat”, cruising for snacks was always a favorite activity, I often joked that PJ stood for Porky Joe.

Rocking Out

I could telling stories about my beloved boy’s 14+ years, I could brag on his accomplishments but nothing I can say would paint the picture of what a truly delightful dog he was in life. 

Earning FDC at 13

I loved him every day with all my heart and having to make the choice to help him leave this life has been so very hard and has broken my heart.

My promise to each of my dogs is that I will always do the very best for them and to let PJ go is the only thing I could do to keep that promise. 

I will remember him on his very best day and I can only hope that every day he knew that I loved him.

Yes, he was a very good boy.

Hiking with the wife and kids

Godspeed my beloved boy, I will be with you again, but until then know you are tucked safely in my heart. 

The first photo with his Solstice family

I would like to thank Dr. Alicia Darden from #petlossathome for her care and compassion so I could say goodbye to my good boy here at home. Made a hard thing a little less hard.

The Long Goodbye

April 13, 2021

A while back I wrote about the privilege of having old dogs.

One of the good things that came out of the pandemic was the opportunity to stay home every day with the dogs. 

With a houseful of veterans every day is a gift. Along with the privilege is great responsibility and remembering about the promise you made to that wonderful puppy that joined your family.  I am starting the process of keeping that promise.

PJ turned 14 in January and this time last year he was showing in the Veteran groups at the IABCA shows and winning but over the last year he has been slowly growing old.  His hearing has been gone for a while but then day by day his sight started to narrow as did his mind. 

Getting his Farm Dog title at 13

Now we face the long goodbye, but because of my promise to him that goodbye will be on his terms and not mine.

PJ is suffering from Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), like many owners it sort of snuck up on me, with a few behavior changes.  Health wise the old guy is fine, losing some weight like old dogs do but still eating and drinking.  But he wanders and paces, gets stuck in the corners and lost in the yard.  He is anxious and disoriented a lot of the time.

Currently he is getting all the support we can give him and as long as he is not scared or hurting we will treasure a little bit more time. 

As a young veteran

I write this to remind myself that I made a promise to always to the very best for my dogs, even if the best is what breaks my heart, and saying goodbye a week too early is more important than saying goodbye a day too late.  A promise is a promise after all and love often hurts.  

Holding your breath

March 20, 2021
tags:

Sammich, doing something goofy with his mouth.
Cali chasing the FastCat “bunny”

Breeders who have the best interest of the breed at heart spend a lot of time studying, testing and planning.  One of the things that brings any breeder stress is the wait for testing results.  

DNA tests that let you know how the genetic material has come together, Xrays to see how Hips and sometimes elbows line up.   Eye exams to make sure all is right in the eyeball.  Some tests results are pretty instant but some take time for lab results or Xray reviews.  And waiting for those results can have breeders on pins and needles.

Cardigans are a relatively long-lived and healthy breed and those of us who are heritage breeders continue to work hard to keep them that way.There are some standard tests breeders should be doing.  One of the longest available tests is for the DNA test for PRA – Progressive Retinal Atrophy which is a degeneration of the retina.  We also have a DNA test for DM – Degenerative Myelopathy which is the Canine version of ALS.  In addition to DNA tests breeders generally do Eye exams every couple of years on their breeding stock.  Hips X-Rays are done and sent for review from either OFA – Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or Penn Hip to evaluate for Hip Dysplasia.  Those are the standard expected health test for Cardigans. 

There are others things that breeders check just for more information. Outside of the health tests there are also some DNA tests that will let a breeder know about the possibilities of color and coat length which although cosmetic these have historical working connotations.

Not all test show up on the OFA database but some of them should or you should be able to review the results certificates. You can check out any dog in the database at http://www.ofa.org. Any breeder who isn’t testing doesn’t have the breed’s best interest in mind. Beware of marketing gimmicks. Breeders whose main motivations is to sell puppies use the term “triple” clear a lot. We are not sure what they mean by that term but you want to look for health tests that matter. There are several DNA companies that offer a battery of tests that have results for lots of DNA markers that are irrelevant to Cardigans. Don’t get fooled by seeing tests listed as not affected or DNA not carried, each breed has their own issues so again look for tests that mean something for the Cardigan Welsh Corgis. You can check out breed health information at the Parent Club website https://cardigancorgis.com/cwcca/breed/health/

So about our testing, prior to the Cali x Jimmy breeding we had done hip xrays. Cali was very uncooperative and OFA didn’t like the films, we reviewed them with other knowledgeable breeders and were OK with them so we moved forward without a Hip score, I redid them last month with a more cooperative Cali and we got the results of a PASS!  Hooray!  So we have a pending certificate for a normal eye test (should be done every couple of years) to be uploaded and all breeding health tests are current. Now we wait!

Cali’s OFA page https://www.ofa.org/advanced-search?f=sr&appnum=2004252

Test and Tell is what every breeder should be doing.

The Privilege of an Old Dog

February 21, 2021

It has been a hard week, a friend lost her old friend, a dog (and human) I admired. Another friend is facing the diagnosis of the end of life of their long time friend. And I am watching my household age every day. It has hit me hard.

Everyone one loves a puppy and they understand the chewing and housebreaking and silly things that happen with a puppy but they often don’t think about what happens in 12 plus years. Sometimes we forget the privilege and honor we have when we have an old dog who has loved us and we have loved. We forget who they were when age makes them someone else. We need to remember what an honor we have to love that old dog.

My portrait of PJ

As Solstice we have 4 senior dogs and although the girls at 11 and 12 are just not as active as they once were, the old man PJ (14+) has lost most of his hearing and vision and is suffering doggy dementia and some times he is incontinent. He sleeps most of the time and he can’t go out in the yard alone as he gets lost especially at night. It hurts my heart. We use nutritional support and make sure he has whatever makes his happy (treats and jerky and soft beddies), clean up after him but everyday I watch and evaluate his quality of life. When do we know they are ready to move on and are we keeping them with us for us or for them. I try and remember that we make a promise to them to always take the best care of the them and sometimes that care is the thing that hurts you more than you can bear.

I have understood this poem by Kipling since I was young. I have loved many a dog and each time they leave the take a piece of my heart. Hug your dogs, young and old, time is always too short with them. We are lucky ones who have given our hearts for a dog to tear.

The Power Of The Dog

By Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair—
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-power-of-the-dog-by-rudyard-kipling

What’s happening in 2021?

February 20, 2021

2020 was such a weird year for all of us, it is hard to think about normal. What will normal be? Who knows, I sure don’t but what I do know is that regardless of how normal becomes normal the dogs will be as always playing a big part of life.

We are going to try and do doggy games that we can do outside or with safe protocols, Some don’t believe they need to wear masks or keep apart but I do and even after I get my 2nd Covid 19 vacination next week I still plan on keeping me and mine and you safe until all is well.

JeffJeff, the best thing about 2020 is growing up and today he started learning about Barnhunt and he and Cody start his competition puppy class next week. He will be busy as he will also be working Scentwork with me too.

Bailey and Cali will keep running in FastCat as they love to chase the “bunny” and of course our favorite venue of Scentwork. Cali will do some more Barnhunt, she needs one more leg to earn her Novice Barnhunt title.

We are hoping that Cali and our own Sammich will become parents and are excited at our planned litter later this spring.

As for me I hope to keep giving back to our community by teaching classes, evaluating and helping to run tests and trials.

Puppy Dreams

July 29, 2020

Quick, Run

What’s that? What’s that?

Got to pee

Run, Chew

Yip, Growl

Sniff, What’s that?

What’s that? 

Run, tumble

Dig, What’s that?

Quick, chew

Bark

Got to pee

Sleep

Twitch, growl, yip

What could I be dreaming of?

You wonder.

12 week old Jeff Jeff