December 12, 2015
Picture says it all. Scoop got one of these fancy pages when he won the ‘Pixie Prix’ last weekend, what us locals call the Performance Grand Prix. And his performance team with my friend Mia Grant & Vic won the Team event winning every single one of the 5 classes in overall points. Yep. The PERFORMANCE classes.
This was the first time 6 year old Scoop and I competed in Performance. He measures into the 26 inch division and has been competing there since he was 18 months old. Over the years I would say he has been competitive locally at 26 inches. He’s won many local GP’s and a Regional GP and our share of DAM Tournaments as well as local and Regional Steeplechases- when we are lucky and the bars stay up, and of course- if I handle him correctly. 🙂 In March this year we finished second at the AKC Nationals at 24 inches, just .02 seconds off the winner. But at 24, not 26.
Scoop takes off early, especially on spread jumps and the table. This past year he has had some spectacular table crashes in both USDAA and AKC. I dreaded the 24 inch table. At least when he creams through a spread jump the bars are displaceable- not so those big unmovable metal tables. The feeling in the pit of my stomach when he hit those obstacles is horrible and frightening and at some point I know he could be seriously hurt. It was hard to finish a course after those crashes with tears filling my eyes and a knife in the pit of my gut.
I have talked about retiring Scoop or doing performance now for a couple years, but then I would come home from a trial with some impressive wins and I’d be buoyed to keep on keeping on. Deciding to move to performance has been something I have done with my 10 to 12 year old dogs- not one in the prime of his life. It felt like giving up and giving in to a less competitive form of agility. But Scoop and I want to do stuff together, and what we like to do besides tricks, and hiking and swimming is agility. He likes agility, a LOT! Maybe I was waiting for a ‘bigger sign’ that it was time to move on. We are in the beginning of the qualifying season for Cynosport and I needed to make a decision. Stay the road, retire from USDAA or move to Performance. I am a Libra, the scale sign- and I can tell you that I went back and forth way too many sleepless nights making the decision. However, I had no time left to contemplate things if I wanted to compete with him at Cynosport this year. And the answer was that “I do!”
My stress over the decision was all to naught. Last weekend was so freeing, so much fun to let him jump lower with no spreads to crash, and I know the decision was the right one. It was wonderful to walk a course without worrying about how to help him over those gigantic spreads, and not even giving a second glance at the low table. Anyone whose dog struggles with jumping has these concerns and worries over balancing up what we WANT to do with our dogs, and what we SHOULD do with our dogs. For me, last weekend I knew I made the right decision for Scoop’s mental and physical well-being, and certainly for MY mental health as well.
And to top off the joy of the moment, Scoop got re-measured two weeks ago at an AKC show and easily got two measurements that moved him from 24 to the 20 inch class. I was sitting with friends on day two of a three day show, whining (yep, sometimes I do that) about how he had crashed almost every triple two weekends in a row and I had tried everything in my arsenal to help him to no avail. A friend suggested I get him re-measured. Scoop’s AKC measurement at 18 months got him just over 22 inches and at the time I was fine with that: 24 inches in AKC (as well as Nationals) and 26 inches in USDAA. No problem- until it became one. I had never measured Scoop again, and I believed he was just over 22 inches tall. Moments after this conversation I walked over to a measuring judge who just happened to be available, and she got him at 21.3/4. 20 minutes later I asked another judge to measure him and she had him right at 22. Within a half hour our competitive life was changed. No more 24 inch spreads and tables for Doobie!
I believe Scoop jumps early because he is somewhat cross eyed. His strabismus has been noticeable since he was a puppy. He has always struggled with jumping but for some years I believed it due to other kinds of health issues. Maybe there are other unknown factors as well as strabismus, but I think the biggest factor is that his binocular vision is off because of his eye placement. I can only guess that his depth perception is inaccurate and that is the biggest underlying cause of his Early Take Offs.
I am working on an article right now to update everyone where we are in researching the causes for Early Take Off. Not all dogs that take off early for jumps have strabismus.There are likely at least a few causes for ETO. You will notice I am referring to this problem as "ETO" not "ETS". We do not know if there is even a syndrome to be found- so Linda Mecklenburg, the ETO researchers and myself have begun using the acronym that actually describes the problem. So ironic that I started that project long before I suspected my own dog to be affected. But I'll save that story for another day.
My long post is over, but happily not Scoops’ agility career and all the fun times ahead for both of us playing at our favorite game.
October 31, 2013Are you FULLY ENGAGED every time you train or compete with your dog? A few weeks ago at an AKC trial I had the opportunity to watch many of the runs in both the novice and the masters’ rings. I watched students and I watched strangers and I left shaking my head at how many handlers had no engagement with their dogs at all as they walked into the ring and to the start line. That lack of engagement was immediately obvious with some of the dogs showing displacement behaviors like sniffing, sight-seeing, scratching, getting up from start line positions, not releasing from stays and generally showing a total lack of enthusiasm or desire to get out there and play with their handlers.
Pie at the recent AKC trial
This lack of engagement was at times followed by non-qualifying and lack luster runs with a distracted dog and a distracted handler. I know handlers are nervous at times before a run, it happened to me that weekend running my young border collie Pie in AKC for the first time. But I knew I had to override my novice dog ring nerves and take care of my dog. The start line is the last place handlers should be distracted and looking around the ring to see where the course goes, but that is what they seemed to be doing. The dog follows them on leash into the ring obediently, the handler makes no eye contact as they are distractedly looking around to find the first few jumps and remind themselves of the course flow. Then they rip off the leash and leave the dog with a look on its face as if they have never met this stranger who took them into the ring.
What does it mean to be totally engaged? It could be lots of things, but overall there should be an obvious emotional and physical connection between handler and dog that could be visible to anyone watching. The handler could be engaging the dog by doing little tricks or games or just making some direct eye contact and verbal engagement, "are you READY to run? " or possibly asking the dog to be attentive and obedient with quiet heelwork with a nice smile on her face, or physically prompting the dog by their own playful posture that the dog reads as time to go do something fun.
Pie at the recent AKC trial
While thinking about these distracted handlers, I started looking at my own start line with Pie. She tugged enthusiastically with me to the start line, and we had lots of connection there, but a few times I led out like I was running Scoop or Ace, I just turned my back and walked to my lead-out spot. I deserved the distracted look my youngster gave me one time when I turned to call her off the line, as well as the start line sit-stay that turned to a stand while my back was turned. The rest of the weekend I made sure I kept eye contact and praised her when I led out. I decided after that weekend that I really had to help my students learn how to stay engaged with their dogs at the line.
Tomorrow is day one of Power Paws Camp, our 14th year of teaching summer and winter camps. I wrote an article for the Camp Workbook on staying “Fully Engaged” and wanted to share it with all of you and all of my students who don’t get to attend camp this weekend. It is written to our Campers, but of course it applies to any kind of training or competition scenario. I hope it will help you remember to stay fully engaged with your dog if you want your dog to stay engaged with you!
Fully and extremely engaged!
(A letter to Campers from the 2013 Camp workbook)
Scoop and I share a moment
My goal instructing you at camp this year is not just to help you learn how to train and handle your agility dog more effectively; I want to help both you and your dog have more fun and stay more connected to each other. Success in our sport requires focus/connection and what I call engagement. You need to be fully engaged with the training and what you plan on doing with your dog on the course and you want your dog fully engaged in the process.
I have a goal for you at Camp this year. A goal of staying connected to your dog and him to you. From the moment you get your dog out of its crate to begin an exercise you need to have 100% of your dogs’ attention and you want to bring your dog to the correct state of arousal for the job before you get to the start line.
A dog that is distracted needs to be focused back to the handler with tugging/tricks/or focus games. Try hand targeting, high five, figure-8 between your legs or other handler focus games before you run.
When tugging with your dog, YOU get to disengage/end the tugging, not the dog. The goal for tugging is that YOU have to ask your dog to stop tugging and get the toy back from them not vice-versa. Try not to let your dog disengage from the tug game until YOU are finished and they were solidly tugging with you before you ended the game.
EYE contact. Give it and ask for it and don’t start a run without it.
A dog that is half asleep needs to be woken up and mentally and physically prepared to go play/work. AFTER you wake up and arouse your dog, you need tugging or silly tricks or some animated ground running work to engage them. Try scratch/rubbing your dog excitedly through their rib cage area to get their blood flowing and hope the brain follows!
A dog that is over the top excited needs to be helped to have calm focus before the handler attempts a drill. Soft eye contact and quiet talk may help to calm them. If you are tugging keep it low key, the toy down at your knee or ground level, and don’t encourage growling.
A dog that is stressed by the surroundings needs some fun/happy/silly talk from the handler so they forget to be worried. Look them in the eyes, give ‘em a kiss and ask them to trust that you will do the right thing to help them play through their fear.
A suspicious dog that comes out of its crate and is immediately looking for a dog to warn away or chase needs some very special focus work on the handler and they need to be in motion WITH the handler and prevented from staring at other dogs through focus games and possibly control head halters on their way from crating to start line. If your dog will stay focused on you while tugging that is likely your best offense.
In order to do any of the above things to get your dog engaged, YOU need to be fully engaged.
Scoop at the startline
Don’t turn your back on your dog or mentally “drop” them. This goes for the start line and in between obstacles if you have a whoopsie and need to start over. When you walk to the start line keep your dogs’ attention by making eye contact, tugging, praising or saying silly stuff so that your dog knows that you are being attentive to them.
If you have a momentary mental lapse on course, or you or your dog have a screw up and you need to get restarted on the course or talk to the instructor about your handling:
Call your dog to you immediately, don’t let them wander.
Don’t talk to the instructor until you get control of your dog!
Tug if possible, or give them a treat if appropriate to the situation and if they responded to the recall immediately.
You could also ask them to lie down or sit and praise them for doing so.
If you have called your dog to you, gently hold them by the collar, or kneel down next to them. You could put your arm around them and cuddle them to your side to gently confine them so they can’t nick off or get distracted by dogs, people or surroundings.
Small dogs could be picked up, but don’t grab at them, and try often to keep your small dogs feet on the ground where they play and work.
Always take a few moments to re-engage or play with your dog before you start the drill again.
ALWAYS re-engage and reward your dog at the end of every run. Throw your toy, or have a game of tug. If you can’t tug or play retrieve then stay engaged with extremely lavish praise and some kind of physical play or a bit of rough housing one-on-one connection and of course eye contact. Don’t dis-engage from your dog until he is off the course and back at the crate area.
If you need to talk to the instructor or repeat some part of the drill, reward and play momentarily, THEN go get the info from your instructor.
Stay fully engaged with your dog and it is likely your dog will stay fully engaged with you!NJG
PS:Thank you Erika Mauer for the Pie photos from the trial!
I haven’t written much about Pie but I hope that’s about to change. My fearful little flower is blooming into a real agility dog. The dog Pie wants to be is wild and crazy and a bit on the mouthy side. The dog Pie turns into when she is frightened is anything but that. She is almost 2 years old and recently competed in jumpers’ classes at three USDAA trials. She had 5 out of 6 clean jumpers runs and is one leg away from masters’ jumpers. Her runs at the trials were fast and "on the edge", nothing less than I would expect from a fast and excitable young border collie. Until a few months ago I did not know if I would be able to compete with her. This is the story of where she's come from and where we are today in dealing with her fear issues.
Pie came home with me at 8 weeks as a happy-go-lucky young border collie; smart, playful, athletic and fun to train. Her parents are emotionally stable dogs with hugely successful herding careers. She was raised by the breeder in a perfect environment for puppies, but by the time she was 10 weeks old I realized I had a problem. Pie is fearful of moving cars. It started with walking from our house to the agility yard. Pie and I had to walk through the parking area where cars were arriving for classes and she decided she was inconsolably afraid of those moving vehicles.
Within days this transferred to her being worried about walking past our parked cars at the house, which then transferred to her not wanting to put the leash on and even begin the walk to the agility field to play. We have a yard in front of our home where our dogs hang out part of the day. She decided she did not even want to be in that yard because she could see traffic arrive. She would claw the front door in panic to come back indoors as soon as she heard a vehicle. We really don’t have that much traffic, we have only 14 scheduled agility classes per week. We have 15 acres of fenced hills and fields surrounding our home and training field where I exercise my dogs and it did not take long before Pie could identify a car coming down the road from a quarter mile away while we were on our walks. At first she just froze, but then she decided if she was off leash that she could run towards home until she came to the last fence, leaving me and the other dogs out of sight in a far off field.
An individual car was scarier than a busy highway. We live on a quiet country road, one car is obvious. In places where there was a fair amount of traffic she was better than she was in my own front yard. This fear is very similar to the wariness a dog may show when one person approaches directly towards you while walking down a quiet street or across an empty field. One car was suspicious, and hard to miss. A bunch of cars was just noise, just like a group of people will often not worry a dog that is reactive around a single stranger approaching. Her fear is not as simple as that explanation, but it reminds me of other reactive dog behaviors towards a single salient object. Pie is better around a freeway than a country road with cars passing intermittently.
Lucky things about Pie’s fear- It did not carry over to other kinds of noise sensitivity. She doesn’t seem noise sensitive or reactive to other stimulus. She does not care about riding lawn mowers or tractors or all sorts of other machines in and around our home. Her fear is isolated to pretty much one thing. Remarkably Pie is not afraid of riding IN a car; she just could not tolerate watching and hearing one approach. Once a vehicle moves away or is out of ear shot she recovers almost immediately. Her fear reaction is immediate but her recovery is almost as fast.
Training, exercise and socializing my puppy were difficult. During quiet time on the property she did reasonably well playing and training in my back yard, that is until she heard, or thought she heard a car. Her typical behavior was to freeze and lie down at best. At times in the agility yard she would run to the gate to leave, or in my back yard, she would return to the house. The times she had the biggest reactions was when we had a transition between training or play when there was nothing going on between her and I for a moment. When she was really tugging on a toy or doing some kind of high arousal or running activity, she was less likely to think she heard a noise suggesting a car was on approach.
Stay behaviors were especially difficult because while she was on a sit or down stay she had time to think about how she wanted to react to a perceived noise. The noises she would hear were often imperceptible to me. From the agility yard it is a least 400 feet to a quiet road, and the yard is surrounded by tall hedges that obstruct all view of traffic, but still at times she would stop what she was doing, flick her ears back and forth, and wait to discover if the noise she heard meant a car coming up the driveway.
Traveling with Pie was easy once she got into the car or RV. After she got through the door and into her crate she totally relaxed and fell asleep. Getting out of the car was worse, parking lots are full of moving vehicles. Even stationery cars were suspect. Any activity that did not put her in a high arousal state was difficult. She liked going for runs with my family of dogs and her best friends Laura and Brew as long as there was no traffic within view. If she was IN an aroused state she was less likely to notice that a car moved through the vicinity. But she will not take food or play if the moving vehicle was noticed before she was aroused. Trying to actively work on counter conditioning this fear seemed to make things worse. For a long time I would schedule walking her to the field when I knew traffic was coming and attempt to do some targeting, food rewarding or play, but most usually this ended with her wanting to run back to the house. At one point I decided not to take her off the property for about 6 weeks. I gave up on asking her to hang out in the dog yard in front of my home, she stayed in the house with me and went where I went if it was "car-safe". We did not walk through the parking area when there was any threat of a vehicle arriving for a couple months. For more months we didn’t walk in the fields closest to the road. In other words, I just pretty much avoided most car fear meetings and hence reactions. This may have helped or it may just not have made anything worse.
I consulted with canine behaviorist Daphne Robert Hamilton for ideas on helping Pie get through this fear. She had some great suggestions, like teaching her to target stationary cars. Pie has a “feet” cue. She will put her front feet on any item or wall which I indicate, so I would walk around my cars and RV asking her to put her front feet on the vehicle and then I would mark and reward the behavior. Eventually she could target stationary cars with their motor running. Targeting as well as other ideas of Daphne’s all helped but still we were making only tiny steps of progress. It didn’t get worse, but it also didn’t get remarkably better. And then about 4 months ago we started to take little steps forward that gave me hope she would recover from this fear well enough to at least live a happy life here at our home and in the fields where we exercise and play. I am not willing to risk her life in order to have an agility career with her. If she decided to leave me while doing agility at a trial the possibility exists that she could get lost or run towards a busy road in her effort to get away from a moving vehicle. That’s a risk I am unwilling to take. But today I think a career in agility with Pie is more than just a possibility!
Here are some of the things that I did with her that helped and didn't help. (I think!)
Walking her on my country road meeting the occasional car using food to counter condition- too scary, not good
High level of exposure to individual moving cars-she can’t tolerate that much exposure
Walking her ON leash in the scary fields- no way for her to retreat, not good
Trying to use a recall with high level of food reinforcement to me after she saw a scary car- good bye recalls there and everywhere else for a while
Taking her places to socialize on her own without a stable dog friend as support-really bad
Trying to distract her using food and toys after she was in a fear scenario- useless at best and possibly counter-productive as when the toys and food appeared she was already frightened. Rewards = fear?
Doing any kind of control training (stays, positions, static targeting) with her if there was even the slightest chance a car might arrive. If she had a fear moment when she was on a sit stay, she did not want to stay again in that environment for a while. Her ears would flick and she heard all sorts of imaginary cars.
Trying to train anything when she was having a “moment”.
Spending hours hiking and playing around fields on dog show weekends that have constant traffic sights and sounds.
Foot targeting cars.
Going out for occasional car “experiences”, but not flooding.
Making her tug toy crazy.
Making agility crazy fun- The catch 22 is that it's hard to make agility an “arousal activity” when you can't train agility.
I never start training when she is in a fear moment-I always wait for it to pass, but she will train and tug now through a car arriving if I don’t let the arousal end before the car disappears or turns off its engine.
Comforting her when she is afraid- If we are in the field when a car arrives and she is far away from me, I kneel down and praise her and she runs to me, or if I am next to her I just kneel down and cuddle her. We play the “you are such a brave girl” game. I cover her eyes and whisper right into her ears that she is the bravest girl ever. She can’t see the car, and my silly vocalization helps to distract from the car noise. I think:)
Ignoring her if she does leave us on a walk, and I just loudly play with the other dogs making her jealous until she returns.
Sending her to my friend Laura’s home for visits when I am out of town teaching- This really helped. The social experience was good since she missed out on much of that growing up. Laura and her dogs go for a few mile walk daily where they meet cars on a more regular basis than she does on my walks with her and she was with her best friend Brew. I think those visits made a huge difference.
Letting her grow up and not really trying hard to be perfect in our agility training, but using agility NOW as something that can actually distract her from her fears.
Walking with Laura & Brew
Where we are at now
I can train in the agility field as often and anytime I want, when she is doing agility she never notices the cars that might be out on the far road. She will only stop working if a moving car is close and especially if it is noisy. When the noise is gone she goes right back to work. If she is tugging she is much less likely now to stop, and will tug through a car arriving on the property. It has been a few months since she stopped working/playing when we are in the yard behind my home where she cannot see cars. She is happy being in our front “dog yard” and does not seem to react now when a car is visible. For the last month she has stayed with us in the scary field next to the road on daily walks and I never avoid hiking in that field. If a noisy car comes by, she may move farther away but comes right back. She would rather run to the agility yard than walk, she wants to get past our parked cars as fast as possible, so I let her. If she is on leash we run together. I have given up trying to make her "like" being around cars, but I haven't stopped rewarding every glimmer of nonchalance and willingness to play around the parking area.
At this time if she continues to progress along this path, and we don’t end up with a scary setback along the way, I am very hopeful for a normal agility career with her. And I hope we will BOTH be brave if we do have a setback. In all of Pies’ runs in agility competition, she has tugged on her leash coming into the ring and all the way to the first jump; exactly the same as she does at home. That will forever be my signal that she is happy and wants to play the game. I can’t imagine trying to compete with her if I didn’t have that level of arousal and happiness that a simple tug toy can show me. I don't know if I really know the reasons Pie is better, likely there are many of them. Fear is a strange beast, I don't profess to totally understand it, but I am certainly more familiar with it's inner workings now and have better tools to use to help my students. While our road to this place seemed frightening and long, now that it is mostly behind us (HOPING!) it seems to have passed rather quickly!
Photos of Pie as a puppy by Lali Miramon
August 4, 2011
Ace and I came home two days ago from the European Open which was held in Austria. The adventure had a rocky start with plane cancellations and a couple rescheduled flights, but after day one the entire journey totally rocked. Channan Fosty, Susan Cochran, Laura Jones and myself spent 3 days prior to the event in the beautiful area that is called Salzkammergut, a lake region in Austria in the area of Salzburg.
We hiked, ate, explored, ate, played tourist and then ate some more. It was so fitting that we were together in our travels as well as competing on Team USA 1, one of 4 large dogs teams (of 3 or 4 handlers and dogs) competing at the EO for the USA. Our team went into the Team Relay finals in third place, and while we did not medal from our team run, we still got to visit the podium for our trophies for our overall 3rd place team scores which was a real bonus. Our team was one of only 10 teams to make finals and the only US team to do so.
The actual team winners were the three teams which made it through the incredible relay course designed by Judge Gabi Steppan. Finland rocked the audience with 4 clean runs in the Relay with a team of 3 “pups” and their Dam. How cool was that?
The European Open is a really interesting event in that they include each country in the individual finals. You can get into finals with a class placement, or you can be one of your countries top dogs. Daisy got there through a placement, and Ace and I were the top US large dog. There were only 2 large USA dogs in Individual Finals, Daisy Peel with Solar and Ace and myself. Ace and I finished in 7th place, barely 1.5 seconds off the winning time. I have not seen the run on video, I don’t know anyone who filmed it.:( The Finals was held on Saturday night in a driving rain storm and most folks were huddled under umbrellas trying to stay dry. It would not be the EO without a little bit of weather challenge. We had perfect weather every day that week other than for the four hours on Saturday night for the finals.
I have been to 4 European Open events and Ace made finals each of the 4 years. This is the first year they have had a finals for Team. The winner is usually based on cumulative scores over the jumpers and standard rounds. The first year in Italy I fell down in the finals which were held in a sand arena and I found a deep bog and was down on my butt. I usually do pretty well in final rounds but that was certainly not one of my better moments. I can’t remember what place I had three years ago in Germany, but two years ago in Holland I got to the Podium and took home a bronze medal. I would have loved to repeat or better that finish, but I am not at all disappointed with what we accomplished. For a little dog that is not a speed demon, and who spends most of the year jumping 22 inches, finishing in 7th at what I think is the most competitive international event in the world is a huge honor. There were about 350 large dogs at EO jumping 26. Many of the same faces we will see in two months at World Championships were competing, and the class is twice as large as the WC with almost as many countries participating.
I have been going to International and National agility events since 1993. I have been lucky and had lots of high placements, but I have had my share of failures as well. The days following some of those wins and huge successes I used to describe my mental demeanor as being an “absence of sadness”. I often had a big letdown after a huge success, and I would not have described my attitude as being totally happy. I was simply happy that I wasn’t sad! Happy that I had not failed. I wanted too much not to fail as opposed to wanting to do the best I could. I wanted the wins a lot, but my focus was on “not losing.” For a while “not losing” helped me win. I threw everything I had at the finals runs, I would rather have bombed than lost, but the feeling afterwards wasn’t as joyous as it could have been. I hope that attitude is long behind me. I want to give it all I have when I am lucky enough to make a finals run, but I won’t commit hari kari the next day if I don’t win, and if I do win, I am damn well gonna enjoy it!
I am really happy this week. I was thrilled to be the only US handler to make both Individual and Team finals this year! My little dog did all he could do for me, and we didn’t have any huge errors or E’s. And I am happy that I kept a good attitude before during and after the event. I was excited and a little bit nervous prior to runs, but I could still breathe and smile and play with my dog and make small talk with friends while still staying connected and focused on the job.
The mental game that I talk to students and members of the World Team about I hope I am actually living and practicing and reaping the benefits from. Reading books, and articles and blogs on the subject has changed me over the years. I hope it will help me continue to help my students and those I coach as well.
I am happy this week that I don’t just feel an “absence of sadness”. This was probably 8 year old Ace’s last year at the EO and I want to enjoy all my lovely thoughts about the great experience we just had.
Scoop, well, just isn’t ready for me to consider International competitions yet. I sure hope that I have those goals to look forward to with him when I feel like he is really healthy and I can trust that setting a goal to go to Europe and get on a podium with him is actually achievable. I am training Scoop every day I am home, but I know he still has this creepy fungus growing in his head and I am sure it is affecting how he works for me which is really not 100% right now.
Tonight he was a good boy though and I am looking forward to being home the rest of this month to train him, after I get back from a weekend seminar. My happy thoughts and I are headed tomorrow morning to Portland to teach for the weekend. And today was a good day. I had some of my favorite students for classes, and I opened a box from Clean Run that held my Alphabet Drills book. Yeah!!! This was definitely NOT an absence of sadness day!
I hope all your happy days are really happy and that your pup dog is well on his or her way to helping you achieve all your dreams and goals. Mine have already done so for me!
July 10, 2011
My oldest dog Riot died yesterday, she was exactly one month shy of 16 years. Together her and I won 2 AKC National Championships, 2 USDAA World Championships, made the World team three times, and took home a first and a second place in the agility classes at World Championships the two years she competed there.
She was a world class athlete and my best best friend. Saying goodbye yesterday was the hardest few hours I have ever spent with a dog. Her nickname was The Babiest Dog, and Jim and I had a song to go with the silly name which like all stupid pet owners, (I am one you see) and we sang it to her all the time. I am at peace in knowing that she is no longer uncomfortable and suffering from the renal failure she has endured the last three years. I count each one of those extra 1000 days as a blessing, and thank the vets who helped me keep her here.
Here is one of my favorite photos of her at 9 weeks and one of her two days ago still carrying her namesake Riot toy and happily having a game of tug with me.
This should have been a happy week. Clean Run put my Alphabet Drills book on the website. I am officially a published book writer. Scoop is doing better and I am dreaming that we won't have to have another treatment. All the time off has actually been good for him. He is still an immature boy and we have a long way to go to be a world class team.
Alphabet Drills Book
Kiss your old dogs, treat them like kings and queens, and sing them a special song.