Monday, October 31, 2011

Beach Boy


          I had great plans to make him a costume this year, until I realized that "crafty" was not a quality that I possess. So instead, we went rummaging through Rugby's wardrobe and past costumes. Roxanne helped us settle on something we hadn't considered in our search.

     Rugby wasn't a big fan of the goggles the first time he wore them, and he still isn't. He looks pretty cute with them on though, so he has to suck it up. He came into class riding on his own personal boogie board. Now we just have to get him in the water!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


It won't be 50* tomorrow. We won't get a chance to try our new fat filled energy treats. We won't be going to the show.

This morning they made the decision to cancel both shows. It makes me feel a little less guilty about skipping it to begin with. We spent the day at Applewoods instead - training, teaching, learning, observing and reminiscing about dog shows. We also met a couple of very cute puppies for the first time today. 

I already gave Rugby his pep talk to prepare for the trials this weekend. He was excited to go. Now he thinks I lied to him. I hope he will forgive me. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cold Or Wet, but Not Both

It rained on Wednesday morning. We waited until we were at Applewoods to do any training, and we worked around the puddles and through the soaking wet leaf litter that covered the ground. It wasn't warm, but it wasn't cold either at 60*.

The training session was very productive because Rugby was convinced that he absolutely, under no uncertain terms, could not do Signals when the ground was wet. He was refusing to sit all together. When I asked him to lay down, he would go down until his belly touched, then hover just before that point. He might have been more persuasive with me about how unfair working outside was if he was consistent about it. However, since he could clearly sit and tolerate the wet ground when he was beside me in heel position, there was no reason he couldn't tolerate it 40ft in front of me.

It took us several attempts at Signals before Rugby got over the fact that his belly was wet. We finished all the other Utility exercises outside with no problem. We saved Scent Articles for inside. To mix it up a little, we added a char to the middle of the Scent pile. The articles were placed around the chair (not under), although it didn't stop Rugby climbing into the middle to find the correct one. He did have a little bit of trouble getting out from under the chair without disturbing the other articles, but he made it.

I didn't realize just how valuable that training session would be until last night, when I finally decided to check out the judging program for the shows we entered this weekend. I had Googled the location of the show and noticed it was being held on a plantation. Odd, right? That is when I saw what it said at the top of the judging program...

All Judging will be Outdoors. 

How in the world did I not notice that when I was picking trials to enter? We train primarily outdoors so that isn't the problem. The problem is that it is outdoors, and it is almost November. Remember what I said about Rugby not staying very warm because of his size? I wasn't joking. 

Last night at about 12:30 am, I took Rugby outside to do Stays. It was 45*. I wanted to see how well he could manage the cold without wearing clothes. He did surprisingly well. When I returned to him after the three and five minute stays, I could feel that his hair was cold, but that his body was still well insulated. No shivering, or signs of discomfort at all. Phew. That is good new. 

The bad news is that the temperature high at the trial site tomorrow is 39* and it will be raining. A wet Rugby-dog will not be well insulated against anything. We can't go. :-( 

We will be there on Sunday however, when it will be 50* and sunny. Sigh. Next time I need to be more careful when picking trials for my 7lb dog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We Recommend It

So remember earlier this month, Rugby had his battle with fleas? We found them one more time after we posted and we made TWO more changes that I thought you should all know about.

The first change we made was to our potty spot. Instead of letting Rugby out back to potty in the woods, now we go out the front door and around to the side of the building. I think the couple of persistent fleas were not coming from the house, but were hitching a ride back in when he went to potty during the day. Every once in a while he tries to sneak back towards the woods to re-fresh the Rugby-scent that by now is wearing off. He isn't allowed. :-(

The second was using Sentry Natural Defense, Natural Flea & Tick Carpet Powder. This stuff smells strong. Very strong. If it wasn't so overpowering, it might actually be a pleasant smell. It is also a very fine orange powder that settles in the bottom of the container so it appears that 2/3 of it is missing. It isn't missing though. The can lasted for exactly as many rooms as it said it would. We sprinkled it through the whole house and brushed it deep into the carpet.

I suggest making other arrangements for you and your dog for the rest of the afternoon if you use it. Rugby and I were soon surrounded in a smelly cloud of flea powder. I kept putting Rugby next to the open window in whatever room had the least powder floating in the air to save him from the cloud. We left the powder down for a full 24 hours before vacuuming.

It has been another two weeks since we have done the carpet treatment. If my memory serves me right, that is how long it can take for eggs to become adult fleas. We haven't seen a single flea since the morning we used the flea powder. I am happy. So is Rugby, I'm sure.

Sunday, October 23, 2011



Rugby is little. He gets fatigued when he is training or working for long periods of time. I was told a pick-me-up snack would keep him energized. We went to the store and found Zukes Power Boes 'Energy Treats for Active Dogs.' Perfect! I didn't read any further on the package and bought them.

About half-way through the bag (Rugby loves them although I'm not sure how well it works for what I want) I notice the company claims the protein and carbohydrate mixture is what makes the treats so effective. That is when I got confused. I did a lot of reading before switching Rugby over to a raw diet and nothing I read said anything about dogs needing carbs. Are carbohydrates really the key to keeping Rugby active? I wasn't so sure.

From "The Nutritional Requirements of Exercising Dogs" by Richard C. Hill
In dogs undertaking endurance exercise, such as sled dogs, high fat (>50% of energy) diets increase stamina and maximize energy production, and high protein (>30% of energy) diets prevent training-induced anemia.
From "Energy For The Athlete In Your Dog" by Ava Frick, DVM
Unlike human athletes who depend primarily on carbohydrates, the energy source for performance canines is dependent upon dietary fats. 
This article on Canine Performance Stress from Beagles Unlimited says the same thing. Dogs use fat as their energy source, not carbs.

What I was really looking for was a snack for Rugby with high fat content that Rugby can take to stay energized during long trial days. I think I found it. We haven't tried it yet, but this upcoming trial weekend seems like the perfect time to give it a shot. They are called Lakse Kronch Pemmikan Bars. They are made to do exactly what I want them for. They are 59% fat and 24% protein. We will see!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Turns out you don't make much progress when you only practice a couple of days a week.We are building up the go-out work slowly. It has been even more slow than I expected because my school schedule has stopped me from working with Rugby as much as I would like to. I did't mind so much until I realized we had entered trials for next weekend.

We went to the park last week to see how he could pull all the pieces together without having practiced them as complete exercises. I was pleasantly surprised by his attitude. He was up, energetic, ready and very willing for the whole session. He did not do well on go-outs though. I wasn't completely surprised since we had taken go-outs apart and hadn't finished putting them back together yet (when will that not be true.. sigh). I was surprised when he blew scent article though. We had to take them back home and do only leather a couple time before he was back on track. I wonder if it had anything to do with Rugby smelling overwhelmingly like flea killing products (we are still flea-free, by the way!).

Today we went to a different park, an empty baseball field seemed like the best choice. The sand was a little wet and packed down. There were tons of dog footprints, their owners were taking advantage of the mostly enclosed field. Rugby loves sand, and while I set up jumps he ran around endlessly in circles. He wasn't heavy enough to leave behind any footprints. Except when he shot away from me for the go-outs.  Full 40+ ft go-outs and they were straight! He was wonderful! Scent articles were back to normal too. He didn't loose that spunky, energetic attitude either. He was so fun to work today!

We won't be completely back up to speed by next weekend, but at least it won't seem like he has never been in an Obedience ring before.

I can't forget about stays either. We still have to practice those.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Helping Hand

When Rugby and I got home this afternoon, I was taking bags inside from my car and I accidentally pulled out a baseball cap I had sitting on the backseat with one of them. I had my hands full and I was not looking forward to putting everything down to put the hat back in the car.

I stepped towards the sidewalk and called Rugby so I could have him get the hat for me. I had let Rugby out on the other side of the car and released him so he could potty before we went inside. Instead of coming from the grassy area, he came from behind me. He had followed me around the car and by the time I saw him, he had already picked up the fallen hat. 

Since he was so eager to help, I had him carry it inside and thanked him for all his hard work.
It is those little things that make the different between a good dog and a great dog. Rugby is a great dog. At least I think so. 

Missed you, Rugby!

Puppy Pile

I was very happy to see Rugby again after a long night away from him yesterday. I was over our friend's house welcoming SEVEN new Kerry Blue Terrier puppies into the world.  They belong to Yuliya and Brandy.

This was my first time watching the whelping process, and it was a learning experience for sure! I am so glad I was able to go and that Brandy had them all before I had to leave!

The first puppy was a girl - Rosie. She was the biggest of all the puppies at 9.2 oz.  She also had a pretty good head start on the rest of the puppies since puppy number two didn't come for another hour and a half. Puppy two and three came within ten minutes of each other and big surprise... Sunny and Belle were both girls as well!

The three boys came quickly and quietly, one right after the other. Brownie, Bologna and T-Rex were easy puppies. It was interesting to see the differences between the puppies. Some of them were pretty sedentary when they came out, and others like the little blue ribbon boy literally came out running! The puppies that came out breach all took longer to get the hang of the whole eating thing and the first puppy, Rosie, figured out quick that she liked to lay up by mom's face.

We thought she was done, so Brandy got a potty break, and the bedding in the whelping box was changed. We sat admiring the puppies for a while when Yuliya noticed a contraction! An hour and a half after the last puppy was born, Brandy had another little girl, Lilly. Phew! That brought the total time up to four hours, and the number of puppies up to seven.

Thank you SO much, Yuliya, for letting us hang out and watch today!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why we didn't enter

In March of this year, Maryland passed House Bill 940.

This bill introduced a new licensing fee for dog breeders, and requires them to submit personal information to the Maryland Department of Labor and Licensing. The proponents of the bill (H$U$) claim the data is used solely to identify puppy mills and further regulate commercial breeding. The problem is that they define a commercial breeder as anyone that owns or keeps 15 unspayed female dogs and has six litters a year. This count includes co-owned show dogs that are living off-site with other owner(s). This bill (now law) is unnecessary and detrimental to all responsible breeders that maintain a decent size breeding stock to pull from.

The bill was finalized and amended with the help of two breeders who represented Talbot Kennel Club. Both of these breeders are on the show committee for this club.

Talbot Kennel Club has two shows coming up in November (11/9 - 11/10). These shows are the first in a cluster of five total shows. While I have entered Rugby in the Obedience Trials held on the three remaining days of the cluster, I will not support Talbot Kennel Club with my entries.

I refuse to enter a show hosted by a club that so closely associates with H$U$ and one that supports any bill that is detrimental to the local dog fancy.

Monday, October 10, 2011


"No" is one of my least favorite words when it comes to dogs. I am constantly frustrated by people that yell at their dogs about everything they are not supposed to do instead of teaching the dog what it is they actually want from the dog. 

Remember Diesel? I almost had a fit the last time I was at his house and his owner told him "No! Stop!" in reference to a behavior he had just started... begging. I intervened, by standing all the way across the yard and saying, "Diesel, Come." He left the plate of food he so desired and came to me. Once he was there, I put him on a down stay and went to talk to his owners. 

What did "No!" or "Stop!" mean? Did he mean stop standing? Did he mean stop sniffing? Did he mean stop wagging his tail? It could have meant anything. What his owner meant to say was "move away from the plate" or "mind your own business." 
Lucky for them, Diesel's training was far enough along that his vocabulary included commands that would get them what they really wanted. I used the come command. They could have used the place command (a go-to-your-spot command). They could have let him stay by the food and left him on a down/stay. 

Karen the Good Dog Owner wrote a post that addressed this very topic not to long ago. One of the examples she uses is teacher her dog Rocky to not chase a chicken by telling him what to do instead (come). 

This is a concept I struggled with when Rugby was a puppy. How do I teach him to NOT bark? I would either have to teach him what barking was in order to put a stop to it or I would give him something better to do. I went with the second option. It wasn't until Rugby had a retrieve, and he was asked to perform a variety of Obedience tasks while his mouth was occupied (with the retrieve) that the barking was no longer a problem. I was able to give him a more appropriate behavior to replace the barking. Now when we are walking down the street, he is not barking at the dog off in the distance. Now, he is looking up at me asking what it is he should do next. 

You don't want your dog to stop pulling on a leash, you want them to HEEL. 
You don't want your dog to stop jumping on you when you get home, you want them to SIT. 
You don't want your dog to stop bolting out of the front door, you want them to STAY. 
If our neighbors would realize that they don't want their Chihuahuas to stop running away, that they actually want them to COME when they are called, then my mornings might be a little less noisy. 

Dog training is not just for problem dogs and show dogs. Its to make your pet a better companion.

P.S - That is a picture of Rugby at 6 months old enjoying his freshly destroyed toilet paper! Something else I wanted him to NOT do. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Privilege of Leash-less Living

     Rugby is off-lead a lot. Like when he walks his Obedience Trial entries to the mailbox, or when he is out using the bathroom, when we are training, or when we are walking to and from the car. Its not that we don't have leashes (we have a surplus of them), its just that he usually doesn't need one. He has three years of Obedience training under his belt.

     There are some rules that we follow to keep us honest, to make sure we stay safe and to make sure we do not become a nuisance.

     Rugby must maintain some percentage of his attention on me. If he is not on a command, he must be aware enough of me to come when I call him the FIRST time. I may not always use come, either but the same principle applies to all commands. If I decide to call him to heel position, or use his drop-on-recall training to drop him in his place, he has to respond immediately. If he hesitates or if I have to repeat my command, he looses off-lead privileges for however long as I see fit.

     All the other times, Rugby must be in heel position, on a sit or down stay, coming to me from a stay position, or he is being sent away from me. I send him away for two reasons - to retrieve something, and to use the bathroom. Being able to direct where Rugby goes without using a leash means that he is more under control off-lead than most of the other dogs are while on-lead.

     Rugby is also not allowed to visit other people or dogs without permission. It is not safe, and it is rude. He sometimes complains about this rule.

     These rules apply to other dogs that I work with as well. They are usually not as well trained as Rugby is, so I have one more rule to add.  If a dog I am responsible for is not trained well enough to follow these off-lead rules, I will not be walking them on equipment that they can back out of or break free from.

     Rugby spent a lot of time learning this vocabulary and learning to make decisions for himself (learning to say no to distractions) so that he could enjoy these off-lead privileges and opportunities with little concern. Now I can't imagine living with a dog that didn't have his vocabulary.

Friday, October 7, 2011


No Pets Allowed

We have neighbors that just moved in this year. They have two Chihuahuas.  When they first moved in I invited them to come to training classes with Rugby. They never came. That was before I realized how much they actually needed it. 

Every day these dogs are let out to potty without a leash. The two of them leave the apartment in a fury barking to make their way into the woods. Then they quickly disappear. As soon as they are out of sight, their owners start yelling one or both of the dogs' names repeatedly while clapping for what seems like an eternity (and just below my bedroom window to top it off).

I don't blame the dogs for wanting some time alone from these irrational owners. Its a wonder they come back at all. What I can't figure out is why these people continue to let their dogs out off-lead. There was a short time when they had a tie out stake set up. They didn't use it. I have no idea why not. 

Do they expect them to miraculously learn to come when called? Are they hoping to annoy the neighborhood enough that dogs are banned all together? Do they want their dogs to run straight into the mouth of a larger one so they don't have to worry about them any more? Maybe they want them to end up in the street. Maybe they are just trying to provide me with an alarm clock that doesn't have a snooze button? 

Enough is enough already. Do not risk your dog's life, and do not risk the ability of owners to keep dogs by continuously letting your untrained dogs off-lead in public. It is annoying. And I'm a dog person. I can't imagine what everyone else thinks. 

Flea Scare

Were you wondering what Rugby was doing at the vet's office? 

We had a flea scare last week. I think we are out of the woods now. I feel confident enough that he is rid of those parasites that I have started taking him back out in public without worrying about him spreading eggs around. In our slight panic attack, we did a LOT of reading about fleas. Here is what we found out. 

Before we start, you should know that the most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea. Also known as Ctenocephalides felis. (Another reason dogs are better than cats.... just kidding. Kind of.) 

1) Fleas can jump 7 inches high and 13 inches long. 
Rugby is 9 inches high and 11 inches long. That means they can jump on him from a full body length away! That is amazing! 

2) A female flea lays about 20 eggs a day. 
That means if you let them go untreated, fleas will increase exponentially in your home. UC Davis lists them as 1/32 of an inch long, small enough to find their way into the depths of your carpet. 

3) Going from an egg to an adult flea can take up to two weeks (with a larvae stage in between). 
That means even if you kill the adult fleas, if you don't get rid of the eggs you will have the problem again the next week. 

4) Flea larvae, like butterflies, build cocoons to grow up in. 
They can live in these cocoons for up to a FULL YEAR! Flea larvae also need 70-75% humidity to grow. So if you have a dehumidifier, you can do a great deal to stop the life cycle of a flea. 

5) Vacuuming kills 96% of fleas. 
But it needs to be done frequently. Remember to move furniture too. Fleas are very mobile. 

6) There are two flea hormones used in some flea control products that will stop the growth of eggs and larvae. 
Ohio State calls them insect growth regulators. Click on the link to read more. 

Rugby didn't have an infestation yet, but a few (<10) were having a feast of Rugby blood. Luckily, Rugby gets groomed often and we caught them before they got out of hand. So what did we do with Rugby? 

1) Rugby got a bath with flea shampoo. 
He got a bath last Sunday, then again on Wednesday. I only found a total of a bout 15 fleas on him from both baths. Maybe my panic attack was premature, but better safe than sorry. 

2) Salted the carpets and vacuumed. 
Salt sprinkled over your carpets is supposed to dehydrate any fleas living there. You are supposed to leave the salt there for an extended period of time. We only did it for 3-4 hours. We did this every other day last week. 

3) Washed all the blankets, dog beds, sheets, pillow cases, etc. 
It took forever to do ALL the bedding at once, but it was worth it. 

4) Spray the furniture, and carpets with a product that contains insect growth regulators.
The sprays you find at the pet store or grocery store have these hormones as the active ingredient. I don't know which ones are more effective than the others. I picked one at random. I sprayed the couches and carpets after vacuuming each day. 

5) Fed Rugby Capstar Flea Tablets.
I gave two of these to him, two days in a row. I didn't see any fleas on him those days and haven't since. This was a decision we made with the vet. These pills, combined with the baths and the salting, vacuuming, and laundering should be sufficient to rid Rugby of his fleas. 

6) Continue feeding Flea Treats.
Flea treats are just beef flavored vitamin B complexes that I feed to Rugby twice a day. It is supposed to keep the fleas (and ticks) off of him. It has for the past three years. Except this time. Now I'm confused. The vet says its been a bad flea year and that even dogs that use spot-on preventatives have gotten fleas. Does that mean it works only when it isn't a "bad year" or that it just doesn't work. I'll give it another shot. If nothing else, Rugby does enjoy this little treat throughout the day. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Rugby is a big boy now. He has put on some weight recently and is now a healthy SEVEN pounds! They didn't even have him use the little dog scale this time at the vet's office. I put him on there just for good measure while we were waiting to be seen.

I like our new vet. We went there for the first time in Spring when Rugby had his ear infection. Luckily, we have only been there twice. There are several vets at the practice. We have met two. Why am I so happy with them? 1) Neither of the vets I met after realizing that Rugby was intact mentioned neutering him. 2) When I refused re-vaccinating, they offered to do titers. 3) They understood me being reluctant to use spot-on flea/tick treatments and offered alternatives. 4) Lastly, neither vet talked down to me or baby talked my dog.

Rugby went through quite a few vets before meeting these ones that meet the above criteria. The very first vet we went to when he was a puppy was the worst. I'm glad we didn't settle and stay there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Safety First

This week is Sarge's Community Safety Week. Next week is National Fire Prevention Week. Since we just finished learning How to keep Your Maltese Warm, our roll over command was already polished up and ready to be used else where. Rugby thought demonstrating stop, drop and roll was a good way to spend 6 minutes and 27 seconds of his afternoon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Biggest Decision of the Month

It is finally October. That means Rugby has to pick a Halloween costume, and quick. The Thursday night class party is only a few short weeks away. Rugby's first EVER time at the Thursday night class was for the Halloween Party. He went as a panda. We had a hard time figuring out what size to order that year, so we donated the costume to the AMA raffle. I wish I had ordered the correct size!

The next year he was a monkey. We ordered the costume from the same place, and it wasn't nearly as well made as the panda costume/jacket. Of his three costumes to date, this was my least favorite. 

Last year, he was a killer whale. Even though this costume was a little big, I liked seeing Rugby as a killer whale. It was his first "scary" costume. The bad thing about it was that he was repeatedly mistaken for a shark. I guess people don't think *whale* when they see all those teeth.

This year I am going to be more creative. I got an idea last week when we were visiting Bunny's blog. I'm not entirely sure how to implement it. At least we have a month to figure it out. We watched a lot of commercials last weekend while we were working on it!