Saturday, January 28, 2012

The dogs that got me through vacation

DSC_0025In my dog deprived state last week, I was drawn to anything and everything canine in Isla Mujeres. I was expecting to see kibble packed with corn much more than I was expecting to see frozen, uncooked crabs (what?!). I did recognize one of the brands that lined the selves in the dog food aisle. It is hard not to recognize the yellow Pedigree bags. Ahh, something familiar!

There were plenty of stray dogs on the island ranging in size from a small Chihuahua mix dog to a medium sized pitbull type dog. They roamed in and out of stores, and restaurants and through the waves at the beach. What a great life they have! I did not see a single stray that was fat, or skinny and I didn't see any in poor health. I can not say the same thing for the pet dogs that I came across during our stay. Someone on the island must look after the dogs since I even saw a dog with coat that had its hair cut short and was relaxing in the shade on the sidewalk. Not to mention, most of them wore donated buckle collars with no tags.


To prove the importance of exercise, these dogs had free run of the entire island and when they did settle down next to the tourists at the tables they were calm and relaxed. There was one terrier mix (that reminded me of one of Rugby's classmates) that chose our table to settle down next to. We were next to a busy dock that was shuttling people from Cancun over for the day. He did a voluntary Long Down under my chair for the entire meal, happy to have company. I am sure a large portion of their diet is table scraps and we passed our scraps onto him before we left. 

Long Down

I do not think I would want my own dog to live life as an island stray, but they certainly had a better quality of life than some of the dogs I have met here in the states. I could see Rugby fitting in very well with us on vacation, though. 


Bringing Rugby to the island would be the ultimate use of his off lead training. He could heel along the busy streets of Mexico, do long downs next to our chairs in restaurants and bars, and lounge under our umbrella on the beach. He could go the entire week off-lead. Since the small and "large" street dogs coexist together, I would not be worried about Rugby getting picked off as a meal for one of the larger dogs. Perhaps realizing all of these opportunities made me miss Rugby more than usual. I was constantly thinking about how much freedom his training would bring him if he had the opportunity to visit with us. If I ever end up in Isla Mujeres again, Rugby will be there too! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snow day?

Saturday was supposed to be a busy day. Cabot was looking forward to visiting with Rugby at Applewoods, and helping with lessons and such. Unfortunately, the best laid plans don't always seem to come to fruition, especially in January!

While Sam is enjoying the sun and the surf in Mexico, Rugby and Cabot are stuck here in Maryland, in the cold. And, to add insult to injury, the snow day we thought we were going to have turned into an ice day, instead. All of our plans for Saturday were cancelled. No classes at Applewoods. No staff meeting for Cabot to sleep thru. Nothing. Not even any fun white stuff to play in.

Yes, Cabot looks like he's standing amongst snowflakes. But, they didn't last long, and now the world has a fine coat of ice on it.

Looks like Sam picked the right week to get outta town!

Cabot and Pam

Friday, January 20, 2012

Island Maltese

Tinkerbell If going on vacation without Rugby isn't bad enough, every time I turn around I see a small fluffy dog. People have their dogs in the pool, in the restaurants and in the bars, riding in the golf carts with them and walking with them around the streets. That is the benefit of visiting the beach outside of the United States, Rugby wouldn't be stuck in a hotel room all day if he was here with us. I wonder how hard it would be to get him here. Hmmm...

We woke up early this morning to eat breakfast before a long, rough day of fishing. Rooster, our favorite breakfast restaurant on the island, had fresh muffins and bread that we had been craving since yesterday. We didn't even make it to our seats before we spotted Tinkerbell. She was curled up in her own seat at the table, and stood on the back of her chair so we could pet her. What a doll she is! It made me really miss Rugby.

Rosie, the Jack Russel Terrier, came to visit Applewoods this weekend and I heard Rugby was very happy to see her! Glad she is there to keep him busy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Naughty Dog

Rugby at College

While we were off visiting family this weekend, Rugby let me know why we try not to skip training days. In his boredom, the ever-evolving Rugby showed how creative he could be to stay busy.

Short story - When he wasn't lounging on the couch, Rugby spent the weekend very successfully teaching my family to give him treats on command. Then he found a way to climb onto the kitchen table so that he could greet us there when we got back from lunch. 

While he still did his fair share of chasing toys and zoomies in the backyard, I am impressed with the challenges that Rugby chose to tackle during our trip. I know my family had no idea they were being trained. I am also sure he climbed on the table just to see if he could.

I am off on vacation, and Rugby is staying with his friends at Applewoods. There will be a surplus of little dogs there this week so he will have plenty of playmates!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sleepy? I don't think so.


I will always remember the day that I sat down to do homework and Rugby (at 1 year of age) voluntarily joined me on the couch for a nap. Ahh. One giant leap away puppy-hood. We worked hard to get to that point, spending endless hours doing the Long Down exercise. I cherish the fact that if I have work to do, or a movie to watch Rugby will remain quietly at my side waiting for our next activity instead of running circles around the room. It is just plain annoying to have a dog that won't sit still. 

That is why it has been frustrating this week to hear from my own family, "awww, look how tired he is!" This isn't the first time that Rugby's good behavior has been mistaken for a drained physical state, but this is the first time it has bothered  me. 

What is it about a well mannered dog that makes people think that if they are relatively still for any amount of time, that they are drugged or exhausted? 

Friday, January 13, 2012


Rugby has been put in plenty of questionable situations. At least he thinks so. I can't decide if it is his nature to trust my judgement, or if in the three years of Obedience training, Rugby has learned to trust my judgement. It is probably a combination of the two.

I went back through some of our photos and found plenty of examples of those situations. Ones where Rugby had to trust me, and hope for the best!

Like the time I had him balance on the edge of Diesel's fireplace mantel, while K.C. investigated from the ground.
  Day 10

Or the time when I had Rugby ride in the swinging basket while one of his classmates (Sugar, the lab) carried him around.
  Day 22

Sometime before or after our Thursday night class, Rugby participated in a stunt where he "placed" onto a five year old.

He also makes a very good broad jump, if you lose or break one of your boards.

Not to mention, he is trusting with other dogs too. Meet Tiny, Rugby's body guard.

I have quite a few more, but I think I should stop while I am ahead. No matter if it is a breed trait, or one that was due primarily to training, life is so much funner with a trusting dog.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thank You Applewoods!

Rugby was part of the long line of our classmates who earned a title this year (his UD in spring) at the Applewoods party last week.  Not all of the new titleholders made it to class, but it was a good showcase of the quality teams that we have the privilege of training with. Keeping with tradition, Rugby was the recipient of a giant stainless steel bowl, a step bigger than the one he got for his CDX and two steps bigger than the CD bowls. He could fit in his prize this year! I had fun lugging him along in the bowl-turned-carriage.

After all the awards had been passed out, Rugby and I took a moment to recap our Orlando experience. We were interrupted by a surprise from the other room. Our school got together to get Rugby and I a graduation gift. Aren't they fabulous? We loved our flowers, vase, dog cookies and cards. I am so happy to be a part of Team Applewoods, and be surrounded by great people and great dogs.

Thank you SO, SO, much to everyone that took part in the surprise!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Without Fear

Rugby is overwhelmingly confident in himself. I have tried my best to encourage that confidence and keep him believing that he is the most important, cutest and smartest dog in the world. He has never met a dog or person he was afraid of. No chickens, horses or goats intimidate Rugby either. He isn't afraid of the hair dryer, the nail clippers, cars, kids, toys or heights. If you remember, I had a very big problem when he was a puppy of him announcing his presence whenever he would get out of the car... or walk through a door... or meet someone new. He was a little too confident. His posse of Doberman Pinscher bitches didn't help much either. He collects and then manages them. That is a big job for such a little dog and he loves it.

He is not entirely without fear, though. What dog is? He is afraid of cats, and he is afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Naturally, he is also afraid of falling from high places and of being stepped on. I encourage those fears. Those fears will help to keep him safe. With these exceptions, Rugby is without fear. There have been very few situations that were different enough to cause Rugby to doubt himself.

Even his response to his fears is bold. When intimidated, Rugby maintains a safe distance between himself and the object in question... then stalks and barks at it. That must be why the standard says "seems to be without fear." It would be easy for a dog savvy person to recognize Rugby's display of fear as just that, it could easily be mistaken as a bold and brave gesture to someone else.

Meet the Chickens

Our neighbors across the hall from us had a wreath full of fake flowers hanging on their front door. One day, a flower had fallen and laid just off of their door mat. Rugby and I came in from outside and he let out a ferocious bark and froze about four feet away from the invading flower. He leaned forward to investigate and I helped him face his fear with, "Rugby, Fetch." He inched along all the way to the mat and at the last second SNATCHED - as in took with vigor, enthusiasm and desire to kill - the flower and offered it proudly to me. He had prevailed. Now any monsters in the hallway are only worthy of a glance before Rugby goes on his way. That is the extent of Rugby's fear. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life with Rugby

The National Obedience Invitational was held in conjunction with the National Agility Invitational, the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and AKC Meet the Breeds. Since we were competing Saturday and Sunday in the NOI, we walked around the days before to see the booths being set up, paying particular attention to our favorite breeds in case we didn't get the chance to see them over the weekend.

During the lunch break on Saturday, we snuck away from the Obedience rings to visit the Maltese booth. Rugby was still saving his steps, and stayed snuggled up in his brand new sling. Even though we were only there for a few minutes, Rugby was more than willing to meet and greet with booth visitors. Rugby's picture was featured on the performance display under Obedience and we showed all the visitors and told them to come watch Rugby perform that weekend in the other room.

A couple of times throughout the weekend, in the Obedience room and at the Meet the Breeds booth, people asked me to describe the Maltese to them. What is it like to live with a Maltese? What is it like to train a Maltese? What is the temperament of the Maltese like?

I live with a Maltese, I train a Maltese and I spend most of my time with a Maltese. Still, these questions were hard to answer. How could I possible describe all that is Rugby to someone in only a sentence or two?

I gave it my best shot, but I realized I was failing miserably when someone responded to my description with, "so they are like Golden Retrievers?" No. They are not like Golden Retrievers.

I was disappointed in my descriptive abilities, and came back home and read the Maltese breed standard. How does the AKC describe the Maltese? From the breed standard...
Temperament For all his diminutive size, the Maltese seems to be without fear. His trust and affectionate responsiveness are very appealing. He is among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet he is lively and playful as well as vigorous.
I want to take time to compare each of the qualities listed in the breed standard to the one-and-only, Mister Rugby Sevens. What does Rugby do that agrees with the breed standard, and what does he do that makes separates him from the rest? By the time we get through the breed standard, I think we should have a list of our own and the next time someone asks me to describe the Maltese, I will be plenty prepared to answer!