Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cato Trials

We just finished up with 4 days of agility trials in Cato. Tia was the star of the weekend! She was running in Excellent Standard and Excellent Jumpers, and I was also running Flash in Excellent Jumpers and Excellent FAST and my mom's Terv Hokey in the same classes as Tia.

On Friday, Tia qualified in both classes, also known as a double Q! Then on Saturday she qualified again in Jumpers. She now has two double Q's toward her PAX title and 7 MJP legs. Almost all of her runs were under time, and she ran with me very well. Our nonqualifying runs just had minor errors and were still very smooth.

Hokey and I had a lot of nice almosts, though he was having trouble making his weave pole entry. He is very silly and had a good time.

As always, the Flash was fast and furious. Our main issue was knocking bars. I did notice that she knocked the double and triple jumps fairly consistently, so I think I'm going to challenge her jump height at the next trial we go to. Several years ago the AKC changed the height limits for the 8" division, but I never remeasured her because she was doing just fine as a 12" dog at that point. If she measures within the 8" division, that means she will be able to jump 4" as a preferred dog, which will make all the jumps a lot lower for her. We'll see!

Miss Tia Bean is still basking in praise, and got a burger on the way home each day that she qualified.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Flash and I spent last week at the Mayflower Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club's regional specialty show. We were staying with one of my aunts, so Flash had a great time being the only dog in a house with several adoring humans.

Monday and Tuesday we drive up to Amherst, NH for the agility trials. We didn't have any qualifying runs, but she did a really nice job on Monday. On Tuesday the club was also offering Time 2 Beat as a fun run. T2B is a new class in AKC agility that is totally based on how fast the dogs in the class run. The fastest dog at the end of the day would get 10 points, and then dogs within a certain amount of seconds of that dog's time would get 9 points, etc down to 0. In order to title your dog would have to earn 100 points. I'm not sure exactly when they plan to add it as a titling class, but it's in the works.

Wednesday we took off to visit my grandparents and aunt and uncle who live near Worcester. We had a great time visiting, though we did get somewhat lost on the drive home. I told Flash to keep her head down when we drove through one interesting neighborhood!

On Thursday we headed for the official show site in Boxboro, MA for obedience. First Flash and I showed in Grad Novice. She did a really nice job, but was confused on the dumbbell recall. For Grad Nov the dog is supposed to hold the dumbbell while you walk away and then bring it to you when you call them. Flash was confused and dropped it when I left her - she's used to a full retrieve! We also showed in Veteran Novice, which is Novice level obedience for old dogs only, and a non-regular class (which means you don't have to have a qualifying score to get a placement!). Despite some barking on Flash's part, we got 4th place! Ok, so it was out of four. But we still got a neat little pottery mug!

Friday was conformation day. Flash and I aren't exactly serious contenders in the breed ring, but we have fun and Flash enjoys putting on a show for everyone. We didn't place in any of our classes, but lots of people commented on how much spark she has for an old girl!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SOTC Obedience Trial

June 12-13 were the Syracuse Obedience Training Club's annual June trial, which is always a fun event for the club and other exhibitors. People travel from all over to enjoy the show and then the wine & cheese party Saturday evening, which features a ton of excellent food cooked mostly by club members!

Having recovered from January, I once again had Tia entered in Open A. Though I was prepared for another heavy dose of humility, I focused on how great she has been doing in class and on keeping her up beat and psyched before we went in the ring.

Saturday was a bit of a bummer. I had Tia really up and timed our warm-up perfectly so that we could do some quick review in the hallway and then relax in a chair ringside to watch the dog and handler before us. Into the ring we went, Tia smiling up at me and promptly sitting in heel position when we lined up for the heel pattern. Her heeling started off great, but in the middle of it she started reverse sneezing, a weird snorting noise that a lot of small or smush-nosed dogs do every now and then. Aussies are not a breed that typically does it, but it can still happen either when they choke on something, are pulling on their lead a lot or as a stress thing. For whatever reason, Tia started doing it and wouldn't stop, so the judge excused us. Often when something like that happens the judge will let you come back later and try again, but this judge said that we were done for the day.

On Sunday I didn't time our warm-up quite as well, but Tia was still reasonably up when we got in the ring. Her heeling wasn't bad at all, and she even did some automatic sits! For the figure 8 she did the first half very nicely and then got a little messy on the second half. Her drop on recall was lovely as always. Then on the retrieves she must have started running out of steam because halfway out to the dumbbell she stopped and looked lost. This caused us to NQ, but I was still very pleased with Tia's performance!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ultrasound Results

Queezle had her ultrasound on June 11, and is indeed pregnant! From what the vet could tell, there are 2-3 puppies. Ultrasound counts are often inaccurate, but they are very good for telling if your bitch is pregnant or not. To get an accurate count, we have to wait a few more weeks and then can do an xray, which will show the puppies' little skeletons (it's really cool to see all of them in there). So now it's back to waiting!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tia and the Ball

The other day, Tia detected a ball in the corner behind our big armchair. The ball had been there for months, and none of the dogs had shown any interest in it (we don't even know how it got there). But of course, despite having multiple bins full of toys ready at hand, once Tia noticed it she just had to have it.

Her first step was to crawl through the small space between the chair and the shelves behind it.

On the far side of the chair, there is a table that sticks out a little and presented Tia with an even narrower space to get through. This challenge gave her pause for a moment.

But she was determined to get that ball, and with a final heave, she was free!

Having claimed the ball as her own, she wiggled her way back out from behind the chair and proceeded to parade around the house.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Puppy Process

Back in May, my mom and I drove to Michigan for Queezle to be bred. The lucky guy is Poncho, CH Blackwater's Side Kick.

You know those programs on TV every now and then about how your food is made and all the crazy shipping and processing, etc involved in getting it to your grocery store? Well, for dedicated, responsible breeders, the process of having a litter is equally complicated, not to mention expensive.

The first step for me was to have a top-quality foundation bitch, aka Queezle. The Q came from a very nice litter with parents who had done very well in both the conformation and performance rings, not to mention having great health. Even so, this did not guarantee that Queezle would be worthy of being bred. To get to this point, she had to finish her conformation Championship to prove that she adheres to the Belgian Tervuren breed standard and pass numerous health tests - hips, elbows, heart, thyroid and eyes every year. Even with all the health tests and her CH, she still might not have been deemed nice emough to be bred. However, luckily for us, she has turned out to be a stunning bitch, sound in both body and mind (temperament plays a huge role in your dog's life - a spooky or aggressive puppy is not going to have a good life, and probably won't have a good home, so why would you want to produce one?).

Next, I needed a stud. The catch to having a really nice bitch like Queezle is that you then have to find a stud dog that a) will not take away from any of her good qualities, and b) will hopefully improve on her weaknesses. Obviously there is no perfect dog, and so concessions must be made. For me, my first priority is that the puppies be healthy and sound, capable of living a long, happy life free of pain or genetic health defects. Then I would also like those puppies to be excellent examples of the Belgian Tervuren breed. My ideal Terv is capable of excelling in both the conformation and performance rings.

Finding that perfect stud was a long and arduous process. I must have spent hundreds of hours poring over photos and pedigrees - every time I came across a dog that had the right look I wanted, he turned out to have underlying health issues in his close relatives that I did not want to risk bringing into my lines. Fluke things happen - there is no way to know all of the recessive genes your dog might be carrying - but if you know that a dog has a genetic health issue behind him, you then have to decide if you are willing to risk producing that issue in your puppies. My deadline for making a choice was December, but I just wasn't quite happy with what I'd come up with at that point.

Finally, I was flipping through an old Tervuren News Tales and saw an ad for a very nice looking young male. He was just barely two years old, and so wouldn't have had all his health clearances yet, but one of the mantras many breeders throw out is that if you like a dog, look to his sire. His sire was Poncho. A health check and many phone calls later - to his breeder, the two people who had already bred to him, other respected breeders in the area that would have seen him at shows, etc - I was satisfied and decided that Poncho was the dog I wanted. Both the bitches he had been bred to had been looking to improve the same things I was, all of his puppies were healthy at 2 and 5 years of age, and his littermates were consistently healthy and good-looking. Luckily his owners agreed that it was a nice match, and we were on our way!

Now we are waiting on Queezle's ultrasound the end of next week to see if she is definitely pregnant, though she has been having some morning sickness which is a very good sign (not all bitches get morning sickness, but some do and Queezle did with her first litter). Then comes the x-ray a couple weeks down the road to see how many puppies, and then the munchkins themselves, and all the care, feeding and cleaning that comes with them. It is a lot of work (not to mention a lot of money - it is generally considered in the dog fancy that if you do it right, you are lucky to break even on a litter, and breeders usually lose money), but getting over all those barriers - the health testing, an objective analysis of whether your dog is truly breeding quality,picking a match who meets those criteria and can help make your bitch better, then the care - makes it even more special when you finally have those beautiful puppies climbing over the ex-pen and digging holes in the yard. We breed because we love our dogs and are dedicated to improving our breed, not to make money.

Keep your fingers crossed for the Q!