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I am a nosey sort of Gal

February 20, 2023

I spent the past weekend doing one of my favorite dog sports, Barnhunt! I realized this weekend that I have been involved in the sport for most of its existence. The sport started in 2013, and Bailey earned her RATI aka Instinct test in January of 2014. I was away from it for a while as I didn’t really have a dog who was into it after Bailey retired so I am just coming back into game and other than some rule changes and some class enhancements the main things haven’t changed. Now, I have only Barnhunted in Georgia with my regional competitors, but the main thing that hasn’t changed is good sportsmanship and welcoming atmosphere of the local Barnhunt crowd. There are always a few hyper-competitive people in any dog sport (or any sport for that matter) and a few grouches, but the majority of the crowd is supportive, helpful, and welcoming.

Being supportive, helpful, and welcoming is so important in dog sports, but some of our dog sports are not very good at those attributes. Being a nosey sort of dog club gal, I made a point of chatting up several Barnhunt competitors this week, I took notice of these competitors because they were all under 25 (under 23) and I made a point to ask these young ladies about their involvement in dog sports, how did they get involved? Which sports did they like the best and why or why not? Thankfully, they didn’t act like I was too much of a weirdo and were forthcoming in their comments. They had different levels of involvement, family who were involved, some did “all the things”, some just a few things, one was just starting out with her puppy, as her friend has introduced her to Barnhunt. They were competing and helping, enjoying their dogs and the event. When I asked about the different sports, I got some candid answers.

Sports they liked, Dock Diving as it was fun and exciting, FastCat/Cat because their dogs loved it, Rally because it was laid back, Barnhunt and Scentwork again because their dogs liked it and it was fun, Agility because of the action and physicality of the sport. Disc event because they were fun and active.

GCH Rockie Top Flying Snow, RN, BN, FDC, CGC, RATI

Notice what is missing? The tradition dog sports, Conformation and Obedience. One comment about conformation is you must get the right dog (true) and that isn’t easy, and the most telling comment of the day was about Obedience, and I will quote “Obedience competitors are terrifying” and the comment was agreed upon by those in the discussion. As the President of an Obedience Club and an All-Breed Club, those comments are terrifying!

So, dog sport folks, look at the common denominator in this small conversational sampling, what stuck out to me was that dog sports are supposed to be fun, and we need to find a way to put the fun into some of our less “fun” sports.

Anything goes, what would you do to put fun into dog sports? How would you make them more welcoming? Especially Confo (as the younger crowd calls it) and Obedience? Let’s brainstorm, I am all about stealing ideas to make my clubs better.

Dog Show Newbies

February 7, 2023

Newbies, it is a term that has been tossed about forever, some people use in with distain, some with excitement, some with empathy and some with just downright meanness.

Dog show people always say young people are the future of our sport, yet they fail them time and time again. So, I thought to look inward and outward on some of the reasons why dog people can be so weird.

Once upon a time before the internet, finding a nice show dog was a weird and sometimes time-consuming process. You had to go to shows and meet people, you had to make phone calls and make personal connections, you had to know people to help you on your way. You had to join kennel clubs or training clubs. It was more in person or at least more personal communication. People could put ads in the newspaper or flyers up on their local areas and those already in the show world could use their club/show publications. National Parent clubs would have breeder referral person to return calls about finding quality puppies, but it wasn’t an easy road if you wanted to get into the “Fancy”. You actually had to know about the Fancy so often times the “newbie” wasn’t really all that new.

But those were the old days, not 2023, where the “young” people who want to get into dogs have a whole different path to enter the “Fancy”. Today, in our 24/7 instant access, people have a different mindset. They see our dog sports on Television (which the Fancy loves and hates at the same time), and think, I love dogs, that looks cool, so let’s give it a try. If you are a “young” person aka anyone under 40, you have always lived in a world where there was information available, everyone has an online presence, they have Social Media, businesses have QR codes that provide instant info, experts have blogs, podcast, YouTube and Tic Tock channels if you want to know or buy something you just go to the website and BOOM there is your info or entry into the information that you want or need. Easier and friendlier, too.

But…… The dog Fancy isn’t modern, it is controlled by an over 40 mostly female crowd who often don’t give a rat’s butt about social media or an online presence (other than gossip and bragging, I said I was looking inward) and they are busy and won’t answer your questions via text. The Big Daddy of all dog sport things aka the American Kennel Club and its website leaves much to be desired and many Breed Parent clubs may not be as helpful as they should be, this leaves a big hole open for those dog people who are often driven more by profit and ego to be the people that the “Newbies” can communicate and acquire dogs from in a way they are used to acquiring and learning things.

We have a new person who is excited to get started, they see the beautiful dogs, they have fallen in love with a breed, and they want to go play in the ring. They see adorable puppies and generation of winners sporting Kennel names and winning top prize, and they think, I WANT THAT! So, they go online and start researching. Lord help them if they start with the AKC website as all of us who use it know just how cumbersome it can be. So, they search and the find websites that are nicely done, they are updated with upcoming litters and lots of fun pictures, they have some show dogs on their pages and an easy way to contact them. The new person says, “Wow, cool, they are friendly and welcoming, and they have show dogs, and they answered my email or text. The new person now has a puppy they either paid a bunch of money for or signed a contract with the breeder for puppies or breeding rights, and off they go to the shows. With the ego or profit breeder as their mentor or with no help or support at all.

They go to the shows many times without support because the folks they got their puppies from are either not knowledgeable since they are only interested in the next litter, or the new person feels like they can do it on their own without help. They go to the shows, and they lose, and they lose again, and then again. They lose to the old ladies or the professional handlers again and again, and pretty soon, it is no longer fun, they don’t really understand why they are losing, and then they are disillusioned and bitter. Maybe their breeder keeps telling them that they are losing to “Faces” They blame the system, “only pros win”, the established breeders are nothing but gatekeepers trying to keep them out and from winning. They either don’t ask or stop asking for help or knowledge because they have decided the game is rigged and their dog is just being overlooked because they’re not a pro or part of the establishment. They don’t stop and really look at their dog or try to find out why they are not winning, not believing that just maybe, their dog isn’t up to the competition, maybe isn’t the dog they had hoped for when they got their puppy but instead of taking a step back they go ahead and breed their dogs and offer the puppies to other who may be their peers or even newer newbies and that does the breed NO FAVORS.

So how can we stop the cycle and welcome people into dogs? Performance people are much better at it than conformation folks. Is it because conformation folks feel like they really are gatekeepers? I have heard that more than once, where a long-time successful breeder actual say that, they say they are gatekeepers and dog snobs and are proud of it, shoot I have said it and been proud to say it and in some cases will continue to say it because as a heritage breeder it is my job to preserve, protect and promote my breed. But are we protecting it by locking people out? I am not talking about those folks who really are unsuitable based on their circumstances or goals, but what about those that we just do not take the time to know? Those that maybe do have a mediocre dog and could use some knowledge, do we blow in and tell them that their dog is “trash”, or do we try to get them to see the difference between a breed worthy dogs and beloved companion or sport dog? If we know their show dog came from Miss Make Money Mary’s kennel do, we automatically paint them with the same brush or do we welcome them into the grooming area, or sit with them during groups or invite them to lunch? Do we answer their questions with respect and kindness? Or do we just look at them and shake our heads and let them flounder away until they either give up or become just like Mary?

We know there are always going to be people who can’t or won’t take critique. They can’t or won’t look inward to see the differences between their dogs and the winning dogs. We know there are people who are just going to make excuses and there are going to be people who will paint everyone with the same brush and not see people and dogs for who there are, not who you assume they are.

So here are some notes:

Notes for Newbies – Don’t get in a hurry. This is a long game hobby. Don’t always go for the first or easiest puppy. Your long-time breeders generally don’t have a need to advertise, so it may take some time for you to get that winning breed quality show dog. If you have a dog already and it isn’t winning, stop and compare your dog not only to the standard of your breed but the consistent winners in your breed. How are they groomed and presented? Make yourself a mentee and become the lifelong learner, not a know-it-all newbie. Respect the knowledge, and again, no matter how bad you want it don’t be in a hurry. This is a passion and not really something you can buy your way into, even if it seems like that sometime. Don’t always assume that everyone is out to get you, or all the cards are stacked against you. Sometimes and a lot of times, the other dog is better.

Notes for the “Classics” or the Established Fancy – Answer the dang email or text! Put up a rudimentary, informational, and educational website. If a new person ring side, speak to them, don’t just look down your nose at them or their dogs. Don’t judge them based on their appearance! So, what if they dress differently or

have body ink or colored hair, just because they don’t look like your version of a dog show handler doesn’t make them less. If they ask you about their dog, be honest with your opinion and give the “why” and do it kindly, there is enough snark in the world. If you have a new person who wants to learn from you, teach them, don’t try and turn them into an acolyte. If you have taught them well, they will be a credit to you and your kennel.

Here are three stories I will tell; these are 1st hand stories about how the establishment shoots itself in the foot.

At a show stewarding for a foreign judge in a non-sporting breed with hair. An obvious newcomer walks in with a dog not groomed correctly. The judge takes the handler aside, get his comb, shows him how to comb and then points around the ring and says “ask these people for help with grooming, they can show you how”. After the breed was finished not one exhibitor spoke to the new person, I heard them discussing where his dog came from but not one offered to assist and gave off the vibe that he was not welcome to ask.

I am helping a friend by taking a dog ringside. I was new to that area, and this was not my breed or group, as I am standing ringside a couple of exhibitors in the breed said hello, or smiled at me and gave off some welcome vibes until my friend came up with their special who was winning quite a bit. Not one of those previously welcoming faces would make eye contact.

A Kennel club had a match during an all-breed weekend, they accepted the AKC’s email blast to purebred registered dog owners. A family who did not fit the stereotypical dog show demographic showed up with a toy dog and two little girls dressed in Easter Sunday finery. I didn’t see what happened at the match, but as the next club meeting, there was much fun being made of the family. It was years ago, and I still hold a grudge against them for their words and attitudes.
These are just a few of the things that I have experienced, I have been in the “Fancy” for almost 30 years. I am an old lady now who fits the demographic. What others who don’t fit the demographic must have experienced; I can only imagine.

This cycle must stop on both sides, newbies, and the classics. For the health and safety and longevity of our breeds.

I would love to hear some positive ideas. What have you as a breeder or exhibitor done personally to welcome newer people? What has your kennel or training club done to welcome new people? Let’s get busy and really advance the dog sports we love, not just for today but for the future.

Post a comment on the blog or hit me up on social media.

Twitter @Solsticecwc or on Insta @solsticecardigans

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 💯

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…..