Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Time

Time for Rugby's Countdown To Christmas. Finally. If you haven't followed along the last two years, this is what his Christmas preparations include...
I would like to turn this blog for the next 25 days into an... advent calender of sorts. The only difference being that you don't get to open any windows (just click) and the only sweet thing you are getting will be a picture of Rugby with both a red and green object. Just one picture a day, every day 'till Christmas.
Warm-up photo...
RED carpet, GREEN bag

This month is going to be incredibly busy. We are going to try very hard keep it up the whole month, but we may have to cheat. I'll tell you if I do cheat. Also, Rugby wouldn't mind having company in his countdown, so take some red and green photos with us!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I literally can't wait for Rugby's Countdown To Christmas. I am trying not to cheat and take any Red and Green pictures earlier than December first, but I couldn't help but notice how many we have just from the past month. I wasn't thinking about the countdown when I took them, but they do meet the criteria. I figure if I post them now, I won't be tempted to re-use them later.

Nearly all the photos from our trip to Bass Pro Shop had both Red and Green in them.
Fish TankPersonal Protection
Tree HousePresents

The ribbon pictures from the show the other week have both red and green in it too.
Boys and their loot

When I took him to school with me, we found a green desk discarded in one of the stairwells.
In Case of Emergency...

Christmas is taunting us. It's not fair. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011



I started formally training dogs before I had Rugby, and after Mandi was gone. From the very first day I brought Rugby home, our trainer was constantly reminding me leave his feet on the ground. Just because I can pick him up, doesn't mean I should. I needed to treat him like a 70lb dog instead of a 7lb one. It was so tempting. His small size is such a convenience, and I could save myself a lot of work by just snatching him up in my arms or placing him where I want. I needed a few reminders back then, but it is something I embrace now.

Every time I take his feet off the ground, I am robbing him of a learning opportunity that a larger opportunity would get. If you have met Rugby before, you know this is reflected in his ego. All that time on the ground has helped him act less like a yappy little dog, and much more like a companion. Since I treat Rugby like a 70lb dog, he thinks he is one! 

He still spends quite a bit of time in the air for pictures. I had to remind myself today to let him take pictures like a real dog too. He is much happier standing on his own four paws.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rugby Goes To College

Rugby Goes To College

    I have created a monster. Between the extra homework that needed to be done before Thanksgiving break and the constant rain, Rugby has been a little neglected. He doesn't sulk or sleep the days away when he feels neglected. Instead, he uses his training against me. 
Hide 'n Seek
   The past two days he has been working hard to annoy me. He does't do anything wrong, he just does everything... creatively. Then he gives me the look. The one that says, "You can't possibly be mad at me. I DID do what you said." Last night I was sufficiently annoyed that I promised him we would train in the morning. As soon as he knows I have reached that point, then he changes his tactic. He starts to beg. He begs to be worked, and does anything and everything I want with precision, staring intently at me the whole time. He does it just to make me feel guilty, I'm sure. 

    This morning, I kept my promise and snuck him into my only class, then gave him a tour of campus afterwards. It was still raining today and the school buildings were a perfect place to train without getting wet. We took some photos while we were there, practiced our heeling and refreshed our stair climbing etiquette. I think more than half of the people we passed inside never even noticed Rugby. They weren't expecting a dog, so they didn't look down. Rugby didn't give them a reason too. He was happy to get back to work!

I Was Featured on Dogs in Cars at
Rugby's picture also made it into Bailey Be Good's Dogs In Cars #2 post. You can see Rugby, Diesel, and other well traveled dogs (maybe a bird too) over on her blog. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Capturing the Shake

     While we were at the show last weekend, we took a break on the last day to visit the creek that was across the street. We just admired from a distance, but our training buddy, Ben (the Golden Retriever), went for a swim. I just got finished going through the pictures and was thoroughly entertained by all the pictures of Ben shaking. Since he shook off just about every time he got out of the water, there are more pictures of him shaking than there are of anything else.

The photos of Ben reminded me of an old picture of mine. This one is of Rugby's predecessor, Mandi, taken after one of her weekly baths. I don't have nearly as many pictures of her as I do of Rugby, but the photo below makes the short list.


What are the odds that someone would send me a link to this gallery of shaking dogs today? That is how I realized that I don't have ANY worthy pictures of Rugby shaking. I am sure one or two exist, but I can't seem to find them. Rugby's only comical post-bath photo, is not of him shaking. We need to work on this. It might have to wait till next year when it is warm enough for him to go swimming again.

Work In Progress

Did you notice Rugby's go-outs in the Utility videos? We are so close to being full distance. We didn't get there in training and it showed in the ring. He would go out straight for the distance we have practiced, then veer to the side. That was very encouraging to see!

We modified how we were training go-outs to reflect the fact that we had a problem tacking direction, and not running straight all the way back in February.  I posted a video of it here. For whatever reason we abandoned it over the summer and started again this fall.

The exercise has evolved significantly from last winter. First, we stopped using the broad jump and started using driveway markers. I have two orange ones and two yellow ones that I set up exactly the same way as the jump boards (3ft apart in a straight line). Second, we did/do have a problem with running in a straight line. We started much closer to the channels this time and have been working our way backwards at a much slower pace than we moved before. This is mostly to give Rugby the practice of running in a straight line. I think he does need to build that muscle memory to be successful. Now he is working this set up at just over 30ft away.

There was just one problem that showed itself for the first time last week. I had assumed that my yellow markers and my orange markers were equivalent. Last week, he started something new. He was running straight until he saw a yellow marker, then would change course towards it. As soon as I realized what was making him loose his straight line, a post I read over at Tip Tail popped into my head.

He can't see the orange markers. At least not as well as the yellow. Time to buy two more of each color so we have uniform sets!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Little Rain Never Hurt

Rainy Day

We are motivated after last weekend to keep training, and have made a list of things to work on. While I didn't intend to take a break today, it is raining. We could have done articles in the stair well again, but decided against it. Instead, we went for a walk.

Rainy Day Part of our preparation for future trials is to increase Rugby's stamina. Mostly by taking walks more regularly. I am spoiled since nearly all of Rugby's physical and mental needs can be met inside during bad weather. It is easy enough to do for now, even in the rain. I'm not sure how eager I will be to go walking when it gets to be less than 40* outside, though.

It was only drizzling when we left, and Rugby was excited to stretch his legs without any other dog or human interruptions.  I was surprised no one else was taking advantage of the relatively warm rain we were having. We spent some time at the playground so Rugby could run up and down the hills, and get as wet as he wanted. I tried to encourage him by walking through the puddles, but he did not feeling like joining me today. He must have known what was coming.

When we got home, he went straight to the bathroom and was tortured with a much needed bath and grooming session. He is fully recovered now and resting before heading to Applewoods tonight to help teach the next Middle School Class.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Mischief - Checked Out

We were worried for no reason about the hotel this past weekend. We enjoyed our stay. We were even pleasantly surprised with a refrigerator to keep Rugby's food fresh. That is always much easier than constantly refilling an ice bucket. Looking back, the color scheme of the room probably had some influence on the new look of the blog. I am glad I didn't go with that minty green though. 

Rugby woke me up frequently while we were there to growl at any and every noise the other hotel guests made. While I appreciate his desire to be my own personal watch dog, I do not appreciate the loss of sleep it caused me. It is that same mouth of his that cost him three points in the Obedience ring too! Now that we are back home, Rugby can really relax at night (and let me sleep!).  

Luna, A Dog's Life

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Video Dump

That's right. Only videos and scores.

4th place in Open B (Friday)

Score - 194+/200 
Heeling - 3.5 
Drop on Recall - 1/2 
Retrieve on the Flat - 1 
Retrieve over High Jump - 1 
Broad Jump - 0 
Long Sit - 0 
Long Down - 0

Open Q for his first UDX leg (Saturday)

Score - 193/200 
Broad Jump - 1/2 
Retrieve over High Jump - 1/2 
Retrieve on the Flat - 1/2 
Drop on Recall - 0 
Heeling - 2.5 
Long Down - 0 
Long Sit - 3! 

Utility Q for his first UDX leg (Saturday)

Score - 197/200 
Directed Retrieve - 0 
Scent 1 - 1/2 
Scent 2 - 1/2 
Directed Jumping - 1/2 
Signals - 1 
Moving Stand - 1/2 

2nd place in Utility B (Sunday)

Score - 193/200 
Moving Stand - 1 
Directed Jumping - 2 
Signals - 1 
Directed Retrieve - 1 
Scent 1 - 1 
Scent 2 - 1 

Revision and Recap

Rugby High Combined for his FIRST UDX legI left too early on Saturday.

Not only did Rugby earn his first UDX leg yesterday, he was also High Combined Score in Open and Utility. I didn't even think to check the scores. Luckily, the judge kept our prizes for us. We were pleasantly surprised this morning when we found out what we had missed!

Today wasn't as productive. Today he qualified in Utility B with a 193/200. That was 2nd place, and it got him 4 more OTCH points! So far, so good.

He had a descent Open run too, and only lost 3.5 points by the time Stays came along. Sits were first, but apparently no one told Rugby. He took a nap for the last 1.5 minutes. Sigh.

I had fun this weekend, despite the mixed results. I am excited that come January, we can start showing regularly. Until then, we need to focus on school and getting ready for the National Obedience Invitationals. Yikes! Its only a month away! We definitely have plenty to work on.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


It pays to be optimistic. Today's show was much better than yesterday. Let me give you the details.

Rugby hasn't been in the ring since May. Why did I expect him to come back where he left off? Not sure. I'll blame it on optimism. He made two BIG mistakes yesterday in Utility. One was not taking the bar jump during directed jumping. The other was visiting with the judge on the moving stand exercise. Moving stand = socialization? I think not. His other mistake was picking up the wrong article and dropping it before finding the correct one. I don't consider this a big mistake, but it did cost him 3 points which is more than his moving stand mistake.

We did absolutely nothing in between yesterday's trial and today's trial to better prepare him for or fix those mistakes. I think he really was just re-figuring out the whole trial scene. I did NOT crate him at all today, since he seemed uncomfortable and stressed in there yesterday. Instead I brought his Sturdibag and saved some space on my lap for Rugby to sleep all day. He was much happier with this set up.

Open B was first. He was a nutcase. I used those high-in-fat treats before hand. They worked. They almost worked too well. His individual performance was improved by a whole two points from yesterday. HOWEVER, during stays, when the A/C came on... he had to bark at it. Three times. And he lost a point for each one. The worst thing a judge has ever said to me? "Your dog was tied for first place, but he barked at the A/C and lost a few points for that." Gah! No placement, but he still scored a respectable 193/200.

Utility B was last. He didn't make any of the mistakes he made yesterday. Not one. He scored a 197/200, was 3rd place and earned 1 OTCH point.

Since he qualified in both class, Rugby earned his first ever UDX leg. What a relief. I though it would never happen! I tried uploading videos but the hotel internet is not cooperating.

We have two very big goals for next year. They never made it onto the blog because I was starting to doubt that they were even possible. After today, I am hopeful. I added a "Points and Progress" page to help us keep track of those goals.

One more day left. Keep crossing your fingers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pep Talk- Not Effective

We found this 20" skillet at Bass Pro Shop last weekend. It is the perfect size to cook a squirrel, a rabbit, or even a little white dog. I told Rugby I wouldn't mind going back to buy that pan after today.

Dog for Dinner

While I would never actually do that to him, Rugby's performance was depressing. He forgot what a trial was and it took him all day to figure it out. I think he will have no question by tomorrow, though. We are optimistic for the rest of this weekend. He did come come with fourth place from Open B (194/200), so today wasn't completely bad. Just worse than I expected.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Road Trip


We are leaving tonight for a weekend full of Obedience Trials. This trial is by the beach, and last time we went we took a trip down there on the last day. If we finish early enough on Sunday we might go again. Rugby had to wear clothes for the pictures because I had given him what was probably the worst haircut of his life. It was embarrassing. Luckily, we don't have to worry about ugly grooming this time around.

I'm afraid to admit it, but I am a little nervous. I booked the hotel room at the last minute. There wasn't much choice left by the time I got around to it and the reviews weren't great. Rugby got a bath yesterday, and we had the pep talk tonight. Can a pep talk make up for the fact that we have been seriously slacking when it comes to training? I will make sure to play his playlist of motivating songs too.

Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


If you don't protect your dog, who will? 

The answer to that question is no one. Your dog needs protection from countless number of people, situations and from other dogs. This past week, Rugby (and Diesel too) needed some protection from other dogs. I will never understand why people think all dogs want to be friends. I will never understand why people think it is fine to let their dogs run up to another strange dog and loom over them, or why people think it is fine to let their dogs pester others while on stays. Even if my dog wouldn't mind socializing with yours, that is just plain rude!

Personal Protection
Last night was the first time in a long time that I went to visit Diesel. He came with Rugby and I to the community center in his neighborhood to do some training. Rugby went first. I left Diesel on a Down/Stay about 50ft away and off to the side. About halfway through Rugby's training an off lead English Springer Spaniel come from around the corner of the community center (near where Diesel was left). His owner was following behind, but made no effort to stop his dog from approaching Diesel. Before the dog ever had the chance, I called Diesel to me. He came, although he did look over his shoulder a couple of times at the dog that continued to follow him.

It wasn't until Diesel was more than half way to me that the spaniel's owner realized I did not want his dog harassing mine. That is when he started to call his dog back. Or tried to. I grabbed the leash Diesel had been dragging, and picked Rugby up in anticipation of the dog reaching us before the owner could do anything about it. Luckily, he gave up and returned to his owner where he was then attached to a flexi and walked away.

That was the second time in a week someone let their untrained, rude, obnoxious dog approach us. What are people thinking? If it was Rugby that had been on a Down/Stay, this may have ended much differently. He could not have gotten back to me in time, and his coming to me would have elicited a much stronger 'chase' response in the spaniel. I have to park him next to a bear next time for protection.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Long Night

Rugby has been helping me study all weekend. He is tired of it. So am I. 


I spent some time throwing his toy for him today so he didn't feel completely neglected.
Tomorrow night is Rugby's time. 
Maybe the perfect time for a bath. He is a couple days late for this week's grooming session.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


       Rugby took a training trip with Burly (the not-so-little Rottweiler puppy) yesterday morning. It was a great learning experience for both dogs. These two could not get enough attention from all the people there. It was funny to watch Rugby react to our miniature photo shoots. He was quite proud of himself and celebrated after almost every picture. Maybe me torturing him for the past three years with excessive picture-taking is starting to pay off! Neither Burly or Rugby seemed to notice the giant moose that was behind them in this photo. Their relaxed response made for an uneventful training session, and was a good excuse for more photos! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Trigger Words

Don't you wish you had a camera with you all the time? Rugby was watching me set up our go-out contraption from this patch of leaves before we trained yesterday. I grabbed my camera when we finished and headed back out to this spot to see if we could recreate the photo opportunity that we missed earlier.

This photo took a little bit longer to take, only because Rugby refused to participate. He looked at everything except me. I tried all of his favorite words too.
"Do youuu wannna treat? Do youuu wanna go outside? Who is that? Are you ready?"

It wasn't until I asked him if he wanted to leave that he looked interested enough for a photo.
Thanks a lot Rugby, and I get it. You can be done now.