Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ready for Another Year

Pull up a chair!

It is so nice to be out of school, and back at Applewoods spending long afternoons training dogs again.  We have started working towards our training goals for next year already. I wanted to post them on the blog to keep me honest. The opportunities available and quality of life of a well trained dog are tremendous and I love being a part of the process that makes those opportunities possible. 

Rugby's goals are already listed on his Points and Progress page. I want him to earn an Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) and a Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) title. I believe he is capable of both of those things. We may not finish our OTCH in one year, but I hope we are really close by this time next year. I spent some time watching old videos I had of Rugby, and of the two of us in the Obedience ring. The changes just in the past year blew me away. He has really matured, and is turning into a nice working dog. We have lots of room to improve and grow still, and I think we are on the right track. 

Diesel is the GSD in the picture above. I have watched this dog make amazing changes this year as we worked on our Novice and Open Obedience. He went from refusing to leave his house when I first started to work him, to whinning, jumping and spinning when he sees me coming. His confidence level has gown by leaps and bounds. I plan on putting a Companion Dog (CD) title on Diesel in the Spring, and a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title on him before the end of 2012. 

Holly is the Labrador in the middle of the above picture. I was her trainer when she came to Applewoods for the Board and Train program last year, and now we will start again with goals for earning a Companion Dog (CD) title by summer of this coming year. 

I can't wait to get started! We have a big year ahead of us! 
2 CDs, a CDX, as well as the UDX and OTCH

Also - Our training school, Applewoods Dog Training, is having a Scavenger Hunt Contest! The first place prize is a copy of both Mud Heaven and our Back to Work training DVD. Check it out! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rugby The Place

Rugby the PlaceThis road is only three miles away from our house! Can you believe it?

We were out running errands when we saw the sign and had to stop and take a picture. I pulled over on the side of the little road so my car was right beneath the sign. To get Rugby closer to the Rugby Rd sign, I put him on the roof. You can imagine the strange looks we were getting.

One guy pulled around the corner, parked his car and watched disapprovingly at what we were doing. I came up with several scenarios to explain his reaction.

1) He thought my car broke down. That is possible. I am guaranteed to drive over any and every nail my car encounters.

2) He thought I was photographing the house we were parked by so I could plan a robbery for late tonight. Rugby has friends in low places.

3) He was upset that Diesel didn't get a chance to see the neighborhood from on top of a car.

4) Wild, rabid Maltese dogs are running rampant through the streets of Pasadena, and he wanted to make sure I could handle the one that had climbed onto the roof of my car.

I guess I will never know what his deal was. I do think it is time to move, at least three miles down the road. Wouldn't it be nice to live on Rugby Rd?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Party Animal

It's easy for Rugby to get carried away at social events now that he has learned to drink from a cup. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

NOI Video Dump

Here are the videos from all of Rugby's NOI performances, except Stays. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Finale - Day 25

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Waiting - Day 24

Waiting for Santa

Santa will be here any minute. Rugby is waiting under the tree for him. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Important People - Day 23

Our red and green picture doesn't match this post, but it is there anyway.

It is time to re-visit our NOI experience.

While my videos are saving and uploading, I want to mention some pretty great people that we know, and some that we met in Orlando.

Cabot's human, Pam, went with us to the NOI and she was such a great help! It was much more fun and a lot easier with her there. THANK YOU!

Rugby also had a great support group back at home from Team Applewoods. They were the ones that convinced us to go in the first place. I'm glad they did. We were regularly updating Team Applewoods and the rest of our friends through Facebook, and we got some of the very best encouragement. While we were sitting ringside, Moxie, another Obedience Maltese posted a good luck note on our wall. Is that cute, or what?

This years NOI featured the first ever National Juniors Obedience Competition (NJOC). That meant that 1) LOTS of people asked me if I was a junior and 2) I got to see some great up and coming Obedience handlers. One of those talented competitors is a fellow blogger. Mica (15 years old) and her dog Ginger, a German Shepherd Dog, showed in the NJOC. They ended up WINNING the Beginner Novice Intermediate Class. Congrats!!

You can read more about Mica and Ginger at their blog - GingerSnaps. They just recently earned their Companion Dog (CD) title, and they also compete in schutzhund! That is a tough sport! Go visit them, and congratulate them on their success!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ribbons - Day 22

Sleepy Puppy

We got around to our picture pretty late tonight, and Rugby was exhausted! He could hardly keep his eyes open. He was out and about all day with us. Not working like he was in Orlando, but meeting, greeting and sneaking into places he doesn't belong.

One of the places he ended up was UMBC, for my commencement ceremony. This past week included turning in end-of-the-year assignments, traveling to Orlando for the NOI, taking final exams and graduating. Rugby and I are prepared to sleep through the entire weekend. 

Graduation - Day 21

Rugby was able to see this group graduate from the Middle School Class tonight and snuck into their Holiday themed class photo. Congrats to all of them! 
Tomorrow is the last day of craziness around here. NOI re-cap coming soon, I promise! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Tree - Day 19

Rugby's Presents

We couldn't pass up a photo with this tree before we checked out of the hotel this morning. Rugby was completely uncooperative and it took another dog walking past before he would pick his ears up at all. I was just about to give up when she walked passed. I'm glad he didn't make me beg for the photo.

We missed lots of photo opportunities in the hotel, and in the convention center. It was worth not spending Rugby's energy on those extracurricular activities though.

We had an uneventful trip back, and the weather warmed up a little just for our arrival. Our bags are unpacked, and we just got the videos on the computer. As much as I am dying to review Rugby's performance, the last little bit of self control I have is forcing me to study for my final exams. My goal is to get the videos online before Thursday. Cross your fingers.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Super Maltese - Day 18

 Rugby was great. He made it through both days and although he was noticeably tired at the beginning of the second day, a long nap after Ring 3 and lots of treats pepped him right back up. He missed only one exercise between the two days (signals of all things!) on the first day. The rest of his 16 runs were clean, and he held both of his stays on Saturday. The photo below is a picture of the top four dogs overall, as well as the top four dogs in each group lined up at the beginning of the award ceremony.

The total of all possible points from both Saturday and Sunday was 1420. Of that, Rugby earned 1342. With those 1342 points, he got a giant blue ribbon for #1 dog in the Toy Group, and was also High Scoring Maltese. Overall, he ranked #29. I was thrilled with him.

I never thought my green, three year old Maltese that has only shown in Utility approximately 10 times (including non-qualifying runs) would do so well at the NOI. He managed his energy wonderfully, he was fairly consistent, he tried his hardest and he celebrated every run with a dance. I couldn't ask for anything more from Rugby.

We head back home to Maryland tomorrow, where we can upload all the videos and start to process the whole weekend. We have lots of stories to share! Thursday is another big day for us, but it does not involve Obedience. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

AKC Obedience Invitational - Day 17

This might have been the longest day of my life. Rugby was fabulous but is now exhausted and resting up for tomorrow. I have resorted to blogging from my phone so I will post more details and all the videos when I have a computer again.

Today I have to cheat with our picture. We took this yesterday when we were walking around. We would not be hanging around by the water back at home... way to cold for that!

Friday, December 16, 2011

No Regrets - Day 16

Kissing BoothRugby rode wonderfully around the show in the morning in his new, spiffy sling carrier. Cabot's human is traveling with us, and as a previous Frenchie owner, we were drawn to their Meet The Breeds booth and helped set up and walk dogs for a couple of hours. Rugby spent that time being a French Bulldog imposter, giving out illegitimate "French Kisses."

Some people noticed that he didn't match the booth, and other did not. We also met Vegas and her human, from Danes Can Q, who mentioned Ruthie, the French Bulldog, from Life With Big Dogs! Small world right?

Later on we took another round through the vendors. I still have more of our favorites to list, but we have resorted to blogging in the convention center. The hotel internet is horrid and that is where my list is.

We did make it back to GoPet today, and Rugby went from a pretend Frenchie to a pretend hamster. They have a door that they can put on the wheel to enclose the dog, but we declined since Rugby has enough training that I should be able to keep him on a wheel for some amount time. We bought Salmon Cat Treats from the Grizzly Pet Products booth just before we tried the wheel and used them to lure Rugby forward. He wasn't nervous at all. He walked calmly up to the treat, and rode the wheel back down and repeated over and over again. It was cute.

Hamster Dog

Tomorrow is the big day. I almost wish it wasn't. Deep breaths. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Have Arrived - Day 15

Orlando Airport

We had a safe flight down to Florida this morning. Rugby did let out a couple of squeaks on the plane, but I doubt anyone but me noticed. We got there way to early to check into our hotel, so went straight to the show site instead. There are trials leading up to AKC's Eukanuba National Championship that started yesterday. That means the convention center is already filled with dogs, exhibitors and vendors. There are some great shopping opportunities here and we spent almost the entire day scouting out our favorite products and this weekends potential buys. 

Hamster Wheel This might just be the coolest thing you have ever seen. A hamster wheel for your dog. Who knew. GoPet also has a more traditional treadmill for pooches, but that is a lot less fun. I did not let Rugby try out the giant hamster wheel but I am regretting it now. It would have been fun watching him realize that he was taking a walk to nowhere.

I was toting Rugby around in his Sturdibag, and he was complaining about it being too hot. I didn't want him walking around, wasting his precious energy so I took him out and carried him some to let him cool off. That was until we went into the Mountain Valley Country Store booth. They had gorgeous purses with different breeds painted on them, collars and show clothes. They also had my absolute favorite purchase of the day. This isn't the first time I have seen slings for dogs, but it is the first time I tried it. It is wonderful. Rugby can rest comfortably close to me, he is able to see everything that is going on, I have my hands free and having the sling wrapped around me makes Rugby seem so much lighter than he is!

If it is one thing Rugby can use a little more of, it is bling. There were plenty of vendors offering it too. Bling It On had some really pretty bling collars that would look great on Rugby. Scarlett Dream Coats had super cute rain coats in Rugby's favorite colors, too.

We are constantly on the lookout for while slip collars for Rugby to show in. We like that they blend in to his fur and it looks like he is working naked. Sit Up 'n' Beg had soft, rolled leather collars that came in white as well as some more ornate collars and leashes. Gear to Go had just what we were looking for. Basic, thin, white nylon slip collars in Rugby's size. We bought everything he had on the shelf. It is easy to turn a white collar into a not-so-white collar, and we need plenty of replacements.

I'll be sure to post the other half of our favorite vendors list tomorrow. Now, its time for dinner!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Team Rugby - Day 14

Perhaps the most nerve racking part of competing in Obedience is the fact that Rugby isn't going into the ring alone.

Self Portrait We are a team. We have to walk into the ring together over and over again and offer up the best performance we can manage. For every way that Rugby can mess up an exercise, there are at least two ways that I can cause us to fail. I have to be ready to change and tweak my handling to reflect how Rugby happens to be feeling and responding to me at the time. I also have to be ready to manage his pre-trial activities to optimize his performance.

Rugby and I made our debut in the Obedience ring during the summer of 2009. Every time we show, we get a chance to practice working together to accentuate our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. While one would think two years of this is plenty of preparation, our teamwork is constantly evolving. Rugby's trial preferences are changing with age and experience. I am becoming better able to read him, and the trial environment. None of it comes without work. It takes countless hours practicing our skills, countless miles traveling to different shows, and endlessly observing Rugby and listening to what he has to say.

We have only just begun. We have many more hours to spend, many more miles to travel and so much more to learn from each other. I have to keep reminding myself when the thought of the NOI becomes intimidating that this weekend is just one more step on that road to better teamwork. No matter what happens, I will be able to walk away from this weekend having spent time with friends, watched some of the top Obedience teams in the country, met new people and most of all... I will have learned an enormous amount about my dog. We will be a better team.

Now, I really need to pack before our flight tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Maintaining Enthusiasm - Day 13


Only one more day until we leave for Orlando. I started to worry this morning over how generally unprepared we were for the trip. I took Rugby, and all our jumps to the park this afternoon to see just where we are. We did all the exercises in both classes twice, in a completely random order along with two sets of out of sight stays. 

The best part of it all? He was getting MORE worked up as we kept working. It reminded me of a good day at the gym when you feel more energized leaving than when you went in. I planned on doing another round of exercises, but I didn't dare ruin the enthusiasm he was giving me. He couldn't have calmed my nerves any better than by working so well and trying as hard as he did today. It was such a relief. 

We packed up and drove to the pet store. Mostly just for a picture. We also bought a portable water bowl since I am terrible at remember to bring something for Rugby to drink out of when we travel. He usually ends up having to drink out of whatever water I can get to stay in my hand. Luckily, he doesn't drink much. Once we found our portable water bowl we went searching for this picture. Rugby doesn't eat kibble, or any processed food for that matter, but he can hide behind it. This hole in the shelf was exactly Rugby sized! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Balloons - Day 12


Rugby was a puppy the last time he had a balloon to play with. He had a great time figuring out that the only way he could pick it up was by the knot at one end. I was just as happy as he was when we found red and green balloons tonight!  He had to figure out all over again how to pick the balloons up, but was very proud of himself when he did. 

  Balloons Balloons Balloons Balloons

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cartoon Dog - Day 11

Cartoon Rugby

Our friends over at 2BrownDawgs were kind enough to pass the Liebster Award on to us. Thank you! We are flattered to be considered for the reward! 

The award comes with the following rules. 

1. Thank the giver and link back to them.
2. Reveal your top five picks {with less than 200 readers} and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite up-and-coming bloggers and keep it going!

It took us several days to pick which five blogs to pass the award too. I kept thinking it would get easier the next day, or the next. It didn't. Despite the challenge, we were able to narrow it down to five. Here they are, in no particular order. 

1) Kids, Dogs, Rats - This is a brand new blog, written by one of our friends. This is the place to go if you want to check up on the litter of Kerry Blue Terrier puppies we posted about a while ago, their mom, and Mozart the Giant Schnauzer puppy. 

2) Bunk the Pug Puppy - Bunk is a super spunky Pug that has been taking great photos to countdown to the big day (Christmas!). Only a few can manage to resist those big expressive eyes, but there is no way anyone can resist that tongue of his! 

3) Mac the Shiba Inu - We have only just met Mac, but have enjoyed reading about his fantastic hiking adventures, and seeing what life is like with a Shiba Inu. 

4) Blogging Dante  - Dante is back from a blogging hiatus, and we are so glad! If you ever wondered how an active Doberman boy spends his time, you can find out on Dante's blog!

5) Fun with Falkor & Famke - What is more fun than a Great Dane and a Field Spaniel? I'm not sure either. Go over and follow this pair as they live life to the fullest, and they compete in Obedience along the way too! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tough Choice - Day 10

Rugby at the RedboxTough Choice

Rugby can only ever see the kid movies. Even standing on his hind legs, you can't count on him to pick a good movie. Its the thought that counts though, right? At least he looks cute trying. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

College Life - Day 9

College Dog      Yesterday, Rugby went to college for a legitimate reason. He went to do a demonstration for my Animal Behavior class. Rugby was great and aside from me lacking in some speaking skills it went pretty smoothly. It did confirm yet again that he does like to perform. He was having trouble with scent articles the past week, and being up in front of class raised his confidence tremendously! It didn't hurt that they applauded his efforts either. That type of reward can be hard to find, and it was perfect encouragement for him before the National Obedience Invitational next week.

     I had to go back today to drop off some homework, and took Rugby along for the ride. He was a different dog. He KNEW he belonged there. He wasn't just excited to be someplace new, he had caught on to the fact that people were looking at him. He also thought I was getting in his way. To fix this problem, he modified heel position and moved slightly ahead, and went a little wide too. That way people could admire him from all sides. We worked on it while we were there, but his general attitude did not change. His heeling was magically fixed as soon as he realized no one was looking at him (i.e. when we left school).

     I think this means we have found the perfect place to train. Hopefully I can convince him that precision and accuracy are things people really love to see!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Decorating - Day 7


We didn't actually decorate the tree tonight, but we pretended to. I even spent 5 minutes teaching Rugby to target the ornament so that I could get a before-hanging and after-hanging shot. He was too fast and it was too dark so the pictures were blurry.  Poor Rugby doesn't realize that all that hard work putting the ornament up was for nothing since it has to come down to put the lights on. I'll make sure he doesn't see. 


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lakeshore Plaza - Day 6

Lakeshore Illuminated

Me: "Rugby has been very vocal today. I had him do push-ups when he went out to potty because he was barking."

Dad: "What do you expect? He has way more people to talk to than you do."

Me: "Oh, is that right? Thanks, Dad."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lost and Found - Day 5

Festive Jumping

     All of the red and green items for today's photo are from the lost and found bin at Fido's for Freedom. That includes the scarf Rugby has around his neck. He thought taking this picture was oh-so-much fun. We really should have skipped class tonight to finish our homework, but the National Obedience Invitational is only 11 days away! Yikes! We are in desperate need of the extra training time.

     Speaking of the NOI, Rugby was featured today on the American Kennel Club's Facebook page. If you haven't seen it yet... go now! They will be sharing fun facts, videos, and photos of different competitors all the way up until the event. Rugby was happy to get the introductions started!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Scoreboard - Day 4

Rugby at the Football Field
    The hour or two before the sun goes down is usually the warmest part of the day. Since it gets dark early and cold overnight, we try our hardest to fit training sessions in during that time. I know the weather will force us to stay inside to train pretty soon, so no excuses for the next couple of weeks. We have to get outside while we can.

    Today we went to our local park where the little leagues football games are held. The advertisements underneath the sign were just the right colors! Rugby got to stretch his legs and run circles around the giant field while I set up and took down our training equipment. He had fun, and he didn't do so bad with the training either. He was a good boy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Traveler - Day 3

Laurel Train Station
Rugby and I took a road trip to nowhere. We were excited to go to an Obedience match this morning. We were SO excited that we drove all the way there before realizing there was no match for us to attend this month. The news wouldn't have been as devastating if the imaginary match was within an hours drive from us.

Oh well. Quality bonding time in the car with Rugby.

We ended up at Applewoods instead, where we spent the whole day doing homework, playing ball and helping with the lessons. At the end of the day, we set out in search of our red and green picture. We were headed to Main St, but the sun was already setting and the pretty golden light it brought was gone for the day. Since the train station is on a hill, we went there to take advantage of the last of the sunlight. We started out in the covered shelter. It is supposed to keep train riders dry on rainy days. We like to use it to practice Stays. The three sides make it easy for us to get out of sight without going too far. Today was a smidgen too cold to try to get that Stay practice in.

On the way out I noticed that the "Laurel" sign on the building was green too. I set him up at the top of the stairs for a picture with the green lettered sign mounted on the red brick building. I like this picture better than the first one, but you can't tell that the sign is green.

Rugby at the Train Station

Friday, December 2, 2011

Not Maltese, But Close - Day 2

Rugby at the Tree Farm

Rugby went straight from the groomers to the tree farm today. Mark this day down on your calendars as the earliest day our family has ever gotten our Christmas tree. I'm still in shock. Usually we end up spread out inside of an enclosed section of parking lot that is stuffed full of trees. This time we went straight to the source.

Tree Farm Shop

I can't say the experience was too much different than our previous parking lot ones. We didn't cut down our own tree, or walk through long lines of carefully planted fir trees. It did seem like a more authentic Christmas experience, though. We were shopping next to those long lines of fir trees and instead of paying the guy standing with a money box balanced on a stool, there was a cute little Christmas shop selling ribbons, stockings, and other holiday paraphernalia. I helped myself to one of their displays and put Rugby right in the middle of it for a picture.

Photoshop Tree Farm

I noticed on the way home how similar their farm name was to Rugby's breed. Their sign would be much improved if it read "Maltese Christmas Trees" instead of "Matesevac Christmas Trees." It didn't take long to edit our photo so that it read the more appropriate word either. Looks much better, right? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

At the Pump - Day 1

Rugby at the pump

We had to rush to dog class after school today, and we were still late. It did not keep me from stopping for a red and green picture on the way. Yes, I did pick which gas station based on color alone. We were desperate. 

Also, do you see that little tuft of hair sticking up on the right side of Rugby's head (our left)? It won't go away. I have tried twice to cut it off and it keeps coming back. Or I keep missing. Tomorrow, someone else gets to deal with it. They will probably have a good laugh at the mess I have created with Rugby's face.

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.