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Charcuterie for dogs?

January 30, 2023

Fun snacks served artfully on trays have taken off as a fun and creative way to serve yummy snacks to your friends. It had morphed into something for everyone on a tray. Fruit, sweet and yes, dog treats.

The word Charcuterie (Unless you are skilled in French, this word is hard to pronounce) actually is a form of cooking devoted to prepared meat products like sausage, bacon, ham etc. All yummy things for both people and their dogs.

The fact the #Charcuterie is trendy and we love spending money and time on our dogs Barkuterie or Barkcutrie are a fun thing.

On Sunday afternoon I went to a fun doggy themed activity. Our friends at Canine Country Academy hosted a Barkuterie Board Workshop with Barkuterie Boards. We learned how make fun treat boards for our dogs. When my friend Kathy of Dwysan Designs LLC heard about the workshop she made sure I had a custom board of my own.

Here is a how it started and how it ended.

The Solstice Cardigans gave it đź’Ż

Amanda made sure we all knew what the snacks were and how they were sourced
Amanda getting us started! What fun!
My final layout
On our Board before Cardimania
The end, Cardigan approved

There is a New Kid in Town

July 15, 2022

Introducing Marcher! This sweet boy came to us from Vestavia and we are so happy our friend Cathy let him come to us. March is officially know as Vestavia’s Good Trouble at Solstice and he will be co-owned with my tribe, Cody Smith, Leslie Reed, Kathy Davis and Ellen Kidd.

March is a Rune x Quiz kid and we have high hopes for having lots of fun with him in all kind of venues.

JeffJeff is thrilled to be a big brother. Bailey and Cali think he is ok and will play with him now and again. Banner says, stay away from me Kid! Little old lady Frosty just mostly ignores him.

March is named after the late Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis’s quote “Get in Trouble, Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble” and we call him Marcher or more often March. His name will remind us of the Congressman and why he Marched. Big name for a little guy, but we know he will grow into it.

Watch for more Good Trouble in the days ahead.

Yes, I am a bit paranoid

July 1, 2022
If you are lost I will find you….

I don’t know if it was the pandemic lockdown or just the general state of the world these days but I have gotten really paranoid about my dogs getting lost or worse dognapped. So many stories of open doors or gates, car accidents, car jacking or out right theft that it makes me crazy.

Pictured above are some of my tools to combat my paranoia. First of all the dogs are of course microchiped, I was an early adapter of microchip usage.

My dogs don’t wear collars at home but before they leave the house the get dressed in their clothes. All their snap buckle collars have Solstice and my phone number embroidered on them. Each one has their rabies tag and they have a Byte tag which has a QR code with all kinds of digital information. Each dog has their own tag.

Then there is the secondary collars, I have martingale collars that slip over their heads and on that is a Tractive GPS tracker. The device itself is fairly inexpensive but it does require a subscription. It isn’t that costly and helps my piece of mind. I have 3 of them and I have them on 3 different renewals so they come due at different time of the year. I only got 3 because I rarely take all the dogs since the old ladies don’t travel much. The charges last about a week + so in the event the dogs are lost there is time to find them. Plus I leave one plugged into the van when a dog isn’t wearing it as it can track the van if it gets jacked. With or without a dog inside.

And there are the devices from Lifekey, These are scanable Fetch tags that when scanned shows the location of the tag. Plus I wear a Lifekey Smart Strap which sends my locations to my “people” when I tap it with my phone. Great piece of mind for solo adventures.

Too much? Probably but it makes me feel better. My dogs are my kids and I work hard to protect them at all costs.

The Brindle ladies

#Lifekey #Bytetag #Tractive

When you’re Hot you’re Hot!

May 16, 2022

Spent the afternoon changing the van from winter to summer. I know most people do their closets but I do the van.

Being from the desert 🏜 southwest and now living in the south I know all about the heat index and the dangers of hot cars so we work super hard to make sure the dogs are comfortable when we go out in warm weather.

So how do I manage?

My newest tool is the Waggle temperature monitor. This way I can keep track of the temperature and humidity. Here is my referral link if anyone is interested and wants a discount.

I have multiple aluminet shade clothes that I can cover the whole van. I also have multiple Ryobi battery operated fans and I have the car charger so I can recharge the batteries if needed. I also have a little shade pop tent we can put up for more portable shade.

soclerg 70% Aluminet Shade Cloth Fabric with Grommets and Ball Bungee 6.5 ft x 8 ft

I also have cooling mats for the crates and a garden sprayer to mist the dogs to help with cooling.

JeffJeff chilling on the chill mat

I have an awning on my van to help keep the people cool and I recently splurged on a high end cooler ( the TSC version of the Yeti) and always have something to help keep me cool too.

Just a couple more things to add and I am all set for hot weather fun! We have FastCats, and Scentwork and Barnhunt and other fun things planned during the warm weather, we want to be ready!

JeffJeff featured in the AKC Dog Aging Project Article

May 4, 2022

Sharing the link

Something for FastCat Newbies

May 4, 2022

Something I wrote for FastCat Newbies

I am not an expert but I have dogs who have earned their FCats and I have CAX dogs in CAT tests so I have been to lots of lure tests. Here is some information if you have never done it before.

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 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).

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!

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 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.

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. Be nice to the volunteers, without them there is no fun for you and your dog.

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 important to you plan accordingly.

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.

FastCat regulations

The Dog Aging Project

March 14, 2022

Because I want them to live forever!

Have you heard about the Dog Aging Project?

This is a scientific research project that will follow thousands of dogs for 10 years to research on how they age. The goal of the Dog Aging Project is to understand how genes, lifestyle, and environment influence aging. They use that information to help pets and people increase health span, the period of life spent free from disease.

After losing PJ last year to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction [CCD] I really started thinking about my aging pack. Frost, Bailey and Banner are all veteran ladies at 13, 13 and 12 and I real want their golden years to be golden. PJ’s last few months broke my heart and when I read about the project I wanted to do everything I could to contribute to the study.

After reading their criteria, they needed young dogs from the Southeast so I nominated JeffJeff to be part of the pack. We answered a multipart questionnaire about him, our lifestyle, food and activities, submitted vet records and some photos and we were accepted into the research study.

I hope everyone with dogs will support this project, because I want them to live forever!


Smiling JeffJeff

Whoops it is mid March 2022 and I haven’t even posted the 2021 year in review

March 14, 2022

I wrote this in January and forgot to post it……

I always try and do a recap of our doggy year so we can see the accomplishments in one place.   

We are lucky living in the Atlanta metro area as it gives us many opportunities for doggy activities and gave us a chance to compete this year.

We had sadness this year, as my beloved PJ left me in May, he was a blessing every day of his 14 years.  We were disappointed that the Cali x Sammich breeding did not produce puppies and that our handsome JeffJeff’s bite did not correct keeping him out of both the show ring and the gene pool.

We also had some fun this year.  I became President of my All Breed Kennel Club, Richmond Dog Fanciers and made my first trip to Oregon.  We had a nice summer holiday and winter get away to the Championship with Team EEK and the Keel Mountain crew.  I became a Pembroke Welsh Corgi Co-Owner with Leslie and Ellie and I celebrated the accomplishments of the Bred by/Co-Owned/Co-Bred Cardigans around the country.

We didn’t attend many dog shows this year as only Baby K the Pembroke was showing in the Southeast, as a baby she earned her Puppy of Achievement from the 4-6 puppy competition.  Out west, Sammich had some nice BOB and NOHS wins at the end of the year (it is AZ they only show early Spring and Fall) and is currently sitting at #10 in the NOHS rankings.  Kathy and Ryan has done a great job with him.

On the home front JeffJeff started and ended the year with new certificates.  He earned his Star Puppy in February and then earned his Novice Container Scentwork title, he finally learned to “chase the bunny” and earned his FastCat BCat title and is well on his way to the DCat.  He had fun bossing sheep around earned his AKC Herding Instinct Test (IT).  Although he would rather pee in the straw he did hold it together long enough to get his Barnhunt Rat Instinct test.  He rounded out the year by sniffing his way to his Novice Scentwork Interior title.  Super proud of the little dude.

His mother Cali ran all the way to her FCat this year and qualified for her 1st Barnhunt title, Novice, RATN.

Almost 13 year old Bailey slowly ran to her FCat as well, she may run slow but she runs with joy, it is her favorite thing to do.  She also completed her Excellent Scentwork Container title.  She is mostly retired as she turns 13 in February but she will still get to play when conditions are right.  My very good girl.

Frost and Banner continue their senior lady ways of hanging out at home and doing all their preferred things.  Eating, sleeping, barking, chewing, shedding, eating…..

Tradition! Sportsmanship! Protocol! Mentor!

August 10, 2021

Tradition – the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

Sportsmanship – fair and generous behavior or treatment of others

Protocol – the accepted or established code of procedure or behavior in any group, organization, or situation.

Mentor – an experienced and trusted adviser.

A recent conversation on another FB post and watching the Olympic coverage got me thinking thoughts, scary, I know.

Dog Showing is a known as a gentleman’s and gentlewoman’s sport.  Sportsmanship is touted as rule number one.  The AKC wants clubs and exhibitors to present a picture that if a typical family with kids showed up at an event they should feel welcome and comfortable.

But yet after every weekend, social media erupts with stories and comments about bad behavior. Why? Are dog people mean and unhappy? Generally, they are wonderful individuals but as a group sometimes not so much.

Dog Shows began really with “gentlemen” discussing the merits of their gundogs, introducing their breeding stock, trading/buying or selling dogs.  From those beginnings it has evolved into the sport it is today. 

Back in the day everything was more formal and gracious while in the public eye.  There were many traditions and protocols that everyone was expected to follow but in last 137 years things have changed. 

Let’s take the “dress code” in America today everything has gotten more casual dress code-wise.  I work for a Fortune 50 company and it is on a rare occasion I see a suit on either a man or a woman but yet we still expect conformation exhibitors to be dressed in coat and tie or skirts and hose.  We expect judges to dress formally to judge dogs on fairgrounds or arenas but clubs often beg their judges to leave the jackets at home for warm weather outdoor shows but they don’t.  It is tradition!  It is protocol!

Lord help anyone under 30 ask a wardrobe question on social media!  NO! You can’t wear pants, yes you have to wear a tie, and panty hose are a requirement.  It is crazy and to my mind ridiculous, wear something clean and neat and modest (we don’t need to see your undergarments), something that you can move in comfortably and something that frames and honors your dog and doesn’t detract from the dog. 

If you aren’t dressed “right” no one will take you seriously. What type of collar or lead should I use?  Our breed always uses a chain, or nylon or a martingale.  If you aren’t using that no one will take you seriously (maybe explain why those are used).

If you don’t freestack or handstack, insert breed, no one will take you seriously.  It is tradition! It is protocol!

On a recent Social Media thread there was a discussion on moving up and breaking the major.  In the past it has been an accepted practice that when major points were on the line and a dog finished it championship, protocol was to ask the remaining class dogs if they wanted the finished dog to stay in the class to hold the major (and potentially win again) or be absent from the class by either withdrawing or moving up to the BOB class.  It was considered sporting.  Fast forward to 2009 (that is right 12 years ago) when the AKC established the Grand Champion title, where being awarded something other than Best of Breed had its own reward.  To receive points toward the GCH title a dog has to be in the BOB ring and at $30+ an entry it only makes sense to move up into the BOB class if you are planning on working towards a Grand Championship.

Is it good sportsmanship to demand an exhibitor lose their chance at GCH points?  People say “I would never break the major” but would they if they had a chance to earn points for themselves?  Maybe, maybe not.  No one has the right to anyone else’s entry and they should not be made less of for wanting to succeed with their entry.  It’s protocol!  It’s sportsmanship!

Do you know that the AKC gives clubs the option of flooding their geographic area with email updates when they are hosting a local event?  I once belonged to a club that held a match after their show and the AKC did flood the registered dog owners with emails inviting new folks to the event.  Some new folks did show up, I saw them at the match, don’t really know what happened with them but at the next club meeting, members spent a bunch of time making fun of them, their clothes and their dog.  I am sure they are forever lost to the Fancy.  That was neither Sporting or Mentoring, it was shameful and arrogant.

At your next dog event I want to you look at the “traditions”, “protocols”, acts of “sportsmanship” and “mentoring” and see if your reaction to them is because they make the sport better or is it just how it is always been.  Look in the mirror and see yourself as a new exhibitor and don’t make it harder on someone else because it was hard for you.  If you are over 30 realize the under 30 crowd might have a different style than yours, don’t make fun or come across as holier than thou.  And for heaven sake stop being so dang stingy, it takes zero, nada, nothing to be kind.  Share the kindness, share your knowledge, be the person you wish you had in your corner when you started “in dogs”.

And be warned, if you act like a jerk and I am witness, I will call you out, officially, I have no issue with paperwork and I will file a formal complaint.  I have done it before and I will do it again if necessary.  Maybe if enough people shine the light on bad behavior then those bad actors might think about their actions.

Just be a good human being so it isn’t necessary to file complaints.  Remember for most of us this is something we love doing! Tradition, Protocol, Sportsmanship, Mentoring do it because it is the right thing to do.

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  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.