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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
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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

Welcome to our world

June 23, 2020
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I have been a very bad blogger.  We had a very significant happening here at Solstice.  In March right before things closed down Cali and I traveled to Florida for a date with the handsome Jimmy Neutron and on Cinco de Mayo she whelped her litter.  Sadly for us 2 of the 3 puppies were DOA but we are happy that one little red boy was born safely.

Now 7 weeks later he is growing like a weed and completely monopolizing our lives.  We are happy to introduce Jeff Jeff who will be officially know as Solstice Jalapeno Popper.  He will be owned by Cali’s team, myself along with Cody, Kathy and Ellie.

Here are some fun photos from the past 7 weeks.

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Why I joined Good Dog and why you should too.

February 2, 2020

It is 2020 and most people shop online.  This goes for shopping for a dog, yep I said “shopping”!  People looking for a dog are shopping different breeders or shelters or rescue organizations and the Good Dog website is a great way to look for breeders who can help them find a puppy.

There are lots of online options including the American Kennel Club market place or their parent club websites..  Some are slick websites or not so slick websites. All of them are looking to help people find puppies.  Some are trying to sell puppies and some are trying to educate and find the right dog to fit a buyer’s lifestyle.

The Solstice Cardigans have this Blog/Website and our Facebook page and now we are on Good Dog.  Now we haven’t had a litter since we moved to Georgia in 2017 since breeding and raising a litter is both expensive and time consuming but we always like being a resource for folks looking for Cardigan Welsh Corgi information.

 

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Cali’s trading card

 

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So why Good Dog?  Because they require things to be included on their site, not the least of which is hecredentialsalth testing (and they require proof).  The shopping public can see breeder  side by side and why comparing Apples to Apples you can plainly see an Orange.  It is a way to help educate.

Now like most of my fellow breeders, I don’t really need Good Dog, I get multiple good puppy inquiries every week but I think Good Breeders need to be out there for people to see and Good Dog is a good way to do it.  Check them out, and yes they still have some work to do but I would rather Good Breeders help Good Dog to be a great resource!.

Check it out for yourself at the  Good Breeder Center http://www.gooddog.com

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The end of the decade

December 1, 2019

We are done playing dog sports for the year.  We will close out the last month of this decade by doing family things and hanging out with friends.

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The dogs had a pretty good year.  Of course they life a pretty good life but they indulge me in playing games.

We ended last year doing Scentwork and we added some new Scentwork titles this year too.  Bailey added a couple of Advanced titles to her name and started on her Excellent titles.  Caliwags earned her 1st Scentwork title, her Scentwork Novice Container.

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We did a little Barnhunt, Cali got her 1st Novice leg and did it in style by going High Novice (It was beginner’s luck).

Bailey and Cali each added a Fast Cat Title, Bailey earned her DCAT and Cali earned her BCAT.

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We had some fun with some of the International Shows earning ICE and IABCA titles and some big ribbons at their events.  Cali also earned more points toward her Grand Championship.  She just needs a few singles to finish her Grand Championship.

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Mr PJ earned his Farm Dog Certificate and Cali earned her AKC Herding Instinct Tested Certificate.

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I added AKC Canine Ambassador and AKC Temperment Test Evaluator to my resume.

The AZ kids did great with Sammich finishing his Championship, Clover earned several titles and is very close to her Championship and Daphne is working on several titles as well.

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Of course we had great saddness with the loss of our Lindy Hop.  My heart is still broken.

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We don’t have a ton of plans for 2020.  I am hoping we have puppies in the early spring.  But what I really hope is that we have a happy and safe year.

 

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Remembering Lindy

July 26, 2019

Lindy left me just four days shy of her 14th birthday.

In January of 2019 she had some sort of cerebral event that was scary enough that I thought we were going to lose her then but with good care from our Vets at Beaver Crossing Animal Hospital she bounced back and we had another good 6 months together. I knew we were on borrowed time but I was still shocked when a seizure of some kind stopped her heart in the pre-dawn hours of July 24th. I can only be thankful that her dog family and I were with her at the end and she was not alone and we could say goodbye.

Lindy was from Arylan’s 1st litter a little bright tan faced tri. She was a pistol from the beginning and I loved her from the start. She had her ups and downs, she got Parvo as a fully vaccinated 9 month old. The experience of being sick set her show career back as she wasn’t confident on the table especially with men. I had to work hard to bring her back as a show dog. Just as I thought she would never finish her championship she did just that in Hobbs, NM where we had our new champion photo taken with the iconic little green man.

Lindy lived a life, she was queen of the house and all that lived there. She was the ultimate Momma dog, she took care of all the puppies that came into the house (except for Frost but that is another story) and was a great momma to her two litters of babies. Her babies (and their owners) earned her the honorable distinction of Registry of Merit – Versatility from the CWCCA and honor I am most proud of.
She liked to boss sheep around (and everything else) and I was sorry that we never got more herding time. She earned her Barnhunt Open title at as a veteran and as she was never a great jumper I didn’t ask her to continue but she did enjoy it.
I am heartbroken that she has left us. I knew we were on borrowed time. These last six months I have made an effort to connect with her as an individual every day. She got to travel with me again as we went on doggy adventures. She got to show at the CWCCA Nationals this past May and went with Cali and I to some dog shows. I didn’t want to leave her behind just in case. Her last day with us was normal, she puttered around the yard, ate dinner and snacks, played with Cali and slept in her favorite spots.
When she left us she left a giant hole in our world. Who is going to be the herald of the 11:00 pm bedtime? There will never be another Lindy Hop.
Godspeed my beloved, I loved you more.

CH Arylan Flying Start, RATO, RATI, ROM-V 07/28/05 – 07/24/19

Wow it has been a minute! A Solstice Update

June 4, 2019

What have we been up to so far in 2019? We ended 2018 and started 2019 with our favorite sport of AKC Scentwork. Bailey did a great job and earned some ribbons and titles we have such a fun time doing this together.

January also brought us a big scare as Lindy had some type of cognitive episode and we thought we had lost her but she recovered and is back to her feisty Momma dog self.

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Lindy Hop

In March we traveled a full 20 minutes to attend the new Lake Lanier cluster held just down the road from home. They offered lots of fun doggy activities and we took advantage of them. Bailey and Cali showed in Conformation, Bailey in Veterans where she was BOB Veteran and was awarded a group 2. Cali showed in Breed and she earned points toward her Grand Championship. Then we switched to the fun stuff! Cali got to try Barnhunt for the 1st time and she found her Rat each time but 2 of our 3 runs we ran out of time but the other one was so fast that she not only won 1st place for her height group she beat all the Novice dogs and was high in class. Bailey got to play Crazy 8s and added more points to her total.

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Our loot from Lake Lanier

In addition to Barnhunt, we went to do Bailey’s favorite thing, chasing the Lure! We did Fast Cat and Bailey had a blast, she is slower now only running 10-11mph but she loves it so and is only 2 or 3 runs away from her next Fast Cat title (DCAT 500 points). Last year I tried Cali but she wasn’t really interested so we tried again and boy what a difference she was a crazy dog too and ran at about 15mph. I think she will get fast as she learns the game. She is only about 25 points from her 1st Fast Cat title (BCAT 150 points) the girls had a fun weekend.

In April we stayed close to home and I taught an into to Scentwork class for Atlanta Obedience club and worked as the CWCCA Scentwork Secretary for our 1st trial at the Nationals. I also became an AKC Canine Ambassador on behalf of the CWCCA. https://www.akc.org/public-education/canine-ambassador-program/

In May we packed the FIT (boy was it packed) and Lindy, Bailey, Cali and I headed to Purina Farms just outside of St. Louis, MO. We joined our good friend and Co-Owner/Co- Breeder) Kathy Davis and new friend Sheri and our whole tribe of Cardigan lovers at the 2019 Cardigan Welsh Corgi National Speciality Show. To say we had fun is an understatement and our dogs did us proud!

In addition to the fun of competition, the National is all about the preservation of the breed. We look at breeding possibilities and learn new things about the breed and contribute to the health and welfare of the breed. All 3 girls had blood drawn and submitted to the OFA DNA database for future study and Cali had her eyes examined and they were pronounced clear and normal, just one of the health checks we do on our breeding dogs.

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Yes, we were packed!

Our dog family brought home some ribbons and any ribbon at a Nationals is extra special.

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Our National Scentwork Ribbons

In Scentwork:

Bailey – 2 Qs with placements including our 1st Excellent Q

Cali – 1 Q – her 1st with a placement

Ryan – (from our Dwysan family) High in Trial in Masters – Congrats Kathy Hannah! (Kathy’s Tate also did well in Rally and Obedience)

Herding Instinct

Both the Baby Girls Clover (Kathy H) and Daphne (Sheri) did a great job moving the sheep around. Super fun to watch.

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Pretty Daphne and Sammich

The Megan – A champion only event that is divided by color/sex – a very prestigious event.

Both our young specials Sammich and Cali made the cut in their Color/Sex classes and Sam made it all the way to the final cut in Black dogs.

Veterans Sweeps

No Ribbons but it was sure fun show both Bailey and Lindy in Veterans. Our cardigans sure hold up strong. Lindy’s 11+ (she is 14 next month) had an entry of 21, 21 11+ Cardigans! and the indomitable Libby 11+ not only won sweeps, veterans she went BOS in the Best of Breed ring – what a girl!

Puppy Sweeps

Sammich, Clover, and Daphne all showed in sweeps and did a wonderful job and as their co-breeder, I was very proud. Sammich was awarded 2nd in his class and appointed class clown.

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Regular Classes

Again the girls show great and this time Daphne got to win the ribbon with a 2nd in her class.

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Best of Breed – our entry was huge this year and filled with amazing Cardigans.

Sam at 15 months showed wonderfully and made us proud. I can’t wait for him to grow up!

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And just to add to the fun in May, Clover and Kathy H earned their 1st Title and TD! (Tracking Dog) I have never had a Tracking title in our dog family so super congratulations for Team Clover!

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New Tracking Dog (TD) Clover

Now it is June and it started with a very proud moment. Bailey was awarded the CWCCA versatility award. This is an award for dogs who have earned titles in at least 3 AKC recognized venues including some advanced titles. It is a wonderful recognition and I am super proud of my good girl!

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What is next for us? Well stay tuned and we will let you know as it happens. Our Social media pages are often filled with fun photos and updates. See ya later!

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Cali says y’all come back now ya hear!