Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Clampetts get ready to go to a dog show

We're heading to a little show in Brierfield, AL this weekend. It is being held at a state park and the nearest hotel is 35 miles away. So, we are going to put the Element (or the Unit, as Carlton calls it) to test - we're going camping.

I did a test in the driveway today - first cleaning out the car - using the leaf blower to blow out all the dog hair. The aero bed fits perfectly if I run the front seats up as far as they will go. With the tailgate cabana attached, I can put the crate and the cratemate 1.2 on the tailgate and we will be all snug.
Stay tuned . . .

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Night at Home

Ahhhhhhhhh. A whole weekend in front of me with nothing that I have to do. The first such weekend in oh so long.

My job requires me to work 6 day weeks for the the first couple of months each year. It's something we're used to, we gear up for, and don't really hate that much because there is a sense of accomplishment in getting all the reporting done for another year. By the end of February tho, we're ready for days off and to slow down to a more sustainable pace.

The end of work busy season seems to correspond with the beginning of dog show busy season. My first weekend "off" started off with a scary, snowy drive to Franklin for a show. Once we finally made it there, we had a great time playing in the snow. We took walk around the hotel property, and then I discovered the fenced in playground (with no "NO DOGS ALLOWED" sign!) and the dogs loved going off leash and romping and chasing each other.

Scout spent the night whining by the door wanting to go back out and play. About 3 AM she finally wore me down. I was awake, and thought, "when else are we going to get a chance to play in the snow?" So I bundled up and we went out for another snow frap.

The show was pretty uneventful. Spencer competed in rally Saturday morning. It was still snowing and cold - and by the way, did I mention rally is outside at this show? Spencer did great, picking up a double q, his 14th. Scout didn't do anything in breed - other than get a lot of attention from the breeders there, which was nice.

The next weekend we were off to Louisville for 4 days. Enormous entry fees: Spencer entered in rally twice each day for four days; Scout entered in conformation for 4 days, and rally for 2 days. Spencer double-qed Thursday and Friday, placing in top 4 each time. Scout got her first rally q on Friday with a 4th place finish. Scout also got an award of merit in conformation on Friday.

Things began to fall apart on Saturday. Everything started out ok, but I caused Spencer to NQ in rally (who puts a stationary exercise 3 feet past a broad jump??? I never even saw it.) When I took Spencer back to his crate, I saw that Scout had pooped in her crate - something she had never done before. I cleaned it up, put her back in, and went to the breed ring to watch the puppy sweeps. Cheryl, Scout's handler, would be grooming her and bringing her to the ring later. A few minutes later, Cheryl came running to the ring, saying that something was wrong with Scout. We ran back to the setup, and Cheryl got Scout out of the crate and she was shaking all over. I scooped her up and we headed out to find the show vet.

Earlier that week, I had received an email from our doggy daycare, alerting everyone about something that had happened there that week. A dog had become suddenly ill with what turned out to be hemmoragic gastroenteritis. They rushed the dog to the vet, and the dog had recovered. They reported that the vet said it was not contagious, but no one really knows what causes it. I remembered thinking, "if they don't know what causes it, how can they be sure that it is not contagious?"

Anyhow, we saw the show vet, Scout had no fever, but she said we needed to watch her the rest of the day. She prescribed flagyl and tagamet. We headed back towards the set up, and poor Scout vomited and had a bit of diarrhea on the way back. We got her settled in and I spent the rest of the day sitting next to her crate watching her sleep. Of course, she missed competing in rally and conformation that day. About 4 that afternoon, I walked over to the group ring, and when I got back, she was sitting up looking out at me. I let her out, and she bounced out like the happy little clown that she always is. From that point on, she was fine. The next day she got another award of merit.

The next weekend, we slept at home, but got up in the wee hours to go to Harriman for an agility trial - Spencer's first in nearly two years, and Scout's first ever. It was also my first since my back injury last year. I was a little nervous - I have significant nerve damage, and I was not at all sure I could do this. Also - Scout is no where near ready to really compete - I have only been training her since January - but I wanted her to have some trial experience before we went to the Specialty.

My first run of the day was with Spencer in Excellent Standard. It was pretty entertaining - we were both rusty and Spencer had a ball choosing his own course for the most part, but we got it together and finished pretty strong. Almost immediately after, we had to so in for Open Jumpers, and I was proud of both of us. Spence dropped a couple of bars, as he usually does, but we worked well as a team.

Scout did ok on her first run - she did leave me to sniff out the gate where the livestock typically come into the ring - it's hard for a herding dog to keep her head on straight with all those stock smells around. I got her back with me, but I was lost on the course so we just kind of made it up as we went. I was very pleased with her overall. In Standard, I thought we were going to have a good run. The first thing was the dogwalk - which she loves - I thought it was be a perfect start of us.

Scout was not quite as positive as I was - she bailed off the up ramp on the dogwalk. I decided in that instant that Scout was just not ready for this, and I didn't want to freak her out. So, I scooped her up and thanked the judge, and that was the last standard run for us that weekend.

On Saturday, Spencer had good runs, but not clean. Scout did well in jumpers too - she went back to visit the gate again, but just for a second and came right back to me. I kept my wits about me, and we finished with a qualifying run - even good enough to get a first place ribbon.

On Sunday, both of my dogs reminded me of what Spencer has tried to teach me for a long time - two days of agility are plenty. Let's just leave it at that.

So - that brings us to this weekend - when we have absolutely nothing to do. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trying to Save a Coat

Three weeks from today is the Megan competition at the CWCCA Specialty Show. The Megan is a "fun" match for breed champions. The initial competition is by color and sex, with the winners of each competing for the top award. Two days later, she will compete for the Best Herding-Titled Dog. The winner of that competes two more days later in Best of Breed.

Since there are relatively few red dogs showing as specials (as evidenced by the fact that Scout ended the year as the #35 cardigan on the AKC's Dogs Defeated list - she was the first red dog on the list and she didn't even start accumulating points until late in the year), we are hoping that she has pretty good chance of being a contender for the Best Red Bitch in the Megan. She probably has as good a chance as any at winning the Herding Titled competion.

Scout is a beautiful dog when she is in full coat - she is a rich red with full pants and lovely fox-like tail. However, when she is out of coat, well - she is one scruffy, straggly looking girl. Scout generally loses her coat about a month before she goes into season, which is due around mid-May - which means she should look like crap mid-April. And the Megan is on April 15 - can't get much more mid-month than that.

So - to give her every chance to look her best, I am doing everything I can think of. I make my dogs' food - high quality protein, lots of red foods (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, tomotoes). She gets supplements - Solid Gold Sea Meal, Fish Oil, Royal Jelly, Evening Primrose Oil. She gets cold water baths at the groomer.

And - with the added benefit of lowering my heating bills - we are freezing our butts off keeping the house cool. Wouldn't you call 52F cool? That was the temperature in my house this morning when I woke up. I couldn't move. I had a cardi plastered to each side and my ancient cat curled around my neck. My new tempurpedic mattress felt solid as a rock. (The salesman told me it would freeze solid if subjected to cold enough temps - I believe him now.) In the shower, I could not even squeeze the shampoo out of the bottle - apparently shampoo solidifies at or around 52 degrees!

I am a nut.