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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Airforce Museum, Dayton, OH area & The Boy Scouts

During our Dayton, OH judging weekend, we had some time after the show on Saturday to visit the US Airforce Museum which was a mere 7 minutes from the show site.

Dan was THRILLED to go since he has a special love for the Airforce & airplanes. Me, I'm happy for him and went along to play with our new camera.

The museum is HUGE and since we only had a couple of hours, we weren't able to see it all. However, it is free and what we did see was incredible, even to a common flight enthusiast such as myself.

The first picture is just a small portion of just one of the buildings of the museum and as you can see, it is packed from floor to ceiling with all types of airplanes.

The first section of the museum is the early years. Since the first flight by the Wright Brothers was in this area, there was quite a bit of historic planes.

Next came the Modern Age of Flight building which included beautiful planes like the Stealth pictured here.

The third building housed space items such as the rockets shown in the picture attached.

Other buildings included Presidential Planes and Research & Development. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to see those, but we did have some time to visit the outdoor planes as well. 

On our walk over to the outdoor planes, we ran into a Boy Scout Troop who asked us to take a picture of them. First there was the serious one and then the not-so-serious picture.

Afterward, their Troop Master took pictures of us and we readily invited the group in for our not-so-serious shot! I laughed so hard when I saw these pictures and I know I'll always remember this fun group of guys.

Courses, Gem City, Dayton, OH Sun, May 31, 2009

Attached is the Excellent & Open Standard course and Dan's Excellent JWW course.

We're sitting in a restaurant waiting for our first flight back home, so I'll try to get a few words of wisdom from Dan on his Exc JWW course.

As for my Exc Standard, I really liked the flow of this course.  There were a few unexpected surprises that caught handlers by surprise.  Specifically, handlers didn't support jump #11 and jump #17 which incurred refusals for several dogs.

As for Open Standard, I felt like this was one of the nicest courses I've designed for this level.

In Open, courses will either more closely resemble Excellent or Novice in terms of the degree of handling & challenges. I liked this one because it more closely resembled Novice and while it had the appropriate amount of side-switches and challenges, it was a straight forward course, just like Novice generally is.

Okay, I asked Dan for words of wisdom about his Excellent JWW course and he stared at me with a blank look. He's tired/jet lagged from the weekend so I'm going to go with thoughts aren't going to happen right now. That often happens with give so much at the trial that afterward you're just beat.

Wait, Dan just mentioned that on jump #5, dogs were by-passing due to handlers not working that specific jump or just taking it for granted. He mentioned that Yvonne Mancino with Flare, the Dobe, was the only person who handled this sequence on the inside and that it worked really nice for her. Dan also mentioned this is how he thought most folks would have handled this section.

I did see Yvonne's run and it was BEAUTIFUL!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Courses Day 2, Gem City, Dayton, OH Sat

Today was a beautiful, sunny day in Dayton, OH.

Attached are the Excellent courses for the day. I would have added Open & Novice, but I'm a bit sleepy after several nights of very little sleep (jet lag).

First is Excellent JWW and I'd say the toughest part was #7-#9. Handlers failed to alert, either verbally or with body language, in a timely manner that the weave poles were the next obstacle in the sequence. Dogs were repeatedly pushed to the #3 off course jump as handlers turned in to face their dog in this area.

Next was Excellent FAST. I LOVED this Bonus as it gave handlers various options, allowed them to be creative and still worked their 'Send' skills. Several handlers commented how much fun this sequence was. 
Last, but certainly not least is Dan's Excellent Standard course for the day. All I heard was that it was a nice course and several dogs took the off-course #3 tunnel.

Have fun with these courses!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Smelling the Roses

The last several weeks have been a whirl-wind of fantastic activities. 

In my personal life, things are moving along great. Dan & I are judging together over the next 5 weeks so June is a month that we're going to find ourselves overly busy, but at least we're together.

Today we judged in Dayton, OH and one of the exhibitors has several rabbits they're raising in the absence of their Mom. I was able to pet & hand-feed this VERY CUTE and precious youngster pictured. 

Dan and I have also been enjoying our yard and the nice weather with some rather large bond fires. We've been taking out some old stumps and trimming a few trees, not to mention burning extra wood we've acquired during our renovation work on the house.

Bond fires are GREAT!

Next, we have a picture of the flowering cherry trees in the front of our house as well as all of the flowering bushes in the front.

Someday we plan to put a circular drive in where the river rock currently is. In preparation for that day, I've been adjusting and pruning our mature landscaping each year so the drive won't look like a terrible addition.

I've become an expert at moving ferns and next Spring I plan to tackle moving a few Rhodes & Azaleas - wish me luck!

Oh, Dan has already decided on our July project...a front porch on our home! We have the perfect covered area and this will immediately add warmth & character to our home. I'm also very excited since I have always dreamed of a home with a front porch, so this is going to be a great project that we'll enjoy.

Last, but not least, one of my clients has a wonderful Border Collie who I just love! Omi is amazing and a light of sunshine for her owner and it has been so delightful to see Omi grow and to be a part of her positive experiences.

I really do have one of the best jobs!

Clean Run Editorial - June 2009 - AKC Invites Mixed Breeds to Play by Lisa Selthofer

Actual Article published in Clean Run, June 2009

Clean Run Editorial - June 2009 - AKC Invites Mixed Breeds to Play by Lisa Selthofer

In April, the American Kennel Club (AKC) took a bold step and created a class where mixed breeds could participate in AKC performance events, including obedience, rally, and agility. In listening to the feedback in the agility world, not everyone was as impressed with this step as I was. I was initially very surprised by the lack of enthusiasm from some mixed-breed handlers, but after thinking about it I can understand why.

During the last 125 years of AKC’s existence, the elitism that some people in the conformation world have fostered has turned off many mixed-breed owners. It’s true that some breeders look down their collective nose at mixed breeds, but it’s also true that other breeders have looked at all dogs as...well, dogs!

It’s not fair to label mixed breeds as inferior mongrels and it’s also not fair to label all breeders and participants in AKC events as snobs, especially those who focus mainly on performance events. I say this because performance events weren’t introduced 125 years ago, but are current creations.
For example, agility has been included in AKC dog sports for about 15 years and rally for a mere 3-4 years. For the most part, performance handlers have joined the ranks of AKC exhibitors with a much more modern, inclusive belief system.

Yet even those of us who participate mainly in the performance events have often joked that we are thought of as the stepchild in the AKC family. While times are changing and we’ve made a ton of progress, there are still those from AKC’s traditional days who just don’t understand or care about performance events. After 15 years, we realize that we’re not going to change any attitudes by acting disgruntled. Instead, we move on, continue to grow, act in a sportsman-like fashion, and have quietly moved our chair closer to the adult table each time the AKC family comes together. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but change does happen.

Some mixed-breed handlers are resentful they have to join the AKC family at the kid’s table. I can understand that. Still, we’ve all been inducted the same way. We all started with paper plates and plastic utensils; and as we “grow up,” we’re handed the china and silverware at the big table.

Is it right? Everyone has their own opinion, but from the AKC’s point of view, it might seem to be the prudent way to move forward while still keeping the peace within the base of the organization. Think of it this way: it’s the AKC family culture and just like my personal family, we don’t always make sense to those looking in from the outside.

If you handle a mixed-breed dog, I hope you will consider the the valuable lessons learned from previous performance event participants before you decide not to join in the new program:

• Even long lost family members need time to get to know one another. The AKC has extended an invitation to dinner and now mixed-breed handlers have an opportunity to either act to graciously accept or decline the offer. It’s as simple as that.

• Every relationship has to start somewhere. We’ve all heard stories of happily married couples who met under not-so-perfect circumstances, and years later they laugh together about that initial awkward moment. This could be one of those times.

• It is the performance event participants who are welcoming the mixed breeds. We’re the ones who have opened the door, greeted mixed breeds with a smile, and invited mixed breeds to come and play. We’re part of the modern, hip, new way of thinking, so don’t shun us because our AKC parents have some older beliefs that you don’t agree with.

• Just like an older brother or sister, performance event participants have helped pave the way for this new and exciting change. Come out and get to know us. In the meantime, all agility participants, regardless of which branch of the family tree their dogs come from, can come out and play together with the dogs we love. Heck, I’ll even arrange for this family event to serve finger food. No paper or china plates allowed!

Lisa owns the Premier K9 Club in the Seattle, Washington, area. Competing with and training dogs for over 13 years, she has judged AKC agility for over a decade with her husband Dan. Lisa is loved and owned by Dalmatians ADCH MACH2 Pinky, and newcomer Rouge; Border Collies MACH Spot, and Coal, AK, OAJ, OF, CGC; and Labrador Retrievers MACH Sadie and newcomer Burton. For more information, go to

Courses - Gem City, Dayton, OH

It's been awhile since I've posted and I have so much to share! It's been a very busy time and lots of fun & positive things have been happening.

First, let me share today's courses from our judging assignment in Dayton, OH. I say 'our' because my husband Dan is along and co-judging, which is a TON of fun! The club has been spectacular and has been feeding us very well. Last night we had fall-off-the-bone BBQ pork ribs and tonight we had German Food - one of my personal favorites.

Ah, but back to the courses. 

First is Open Standard. I liked this course because it kept the challenge and flow from Excellent Standard, but was 'dummied' down to fit this level without being a 'gimme' course.

Next is Excellent Standard. After #3, the off course tunnel sucked a couple of dogs. Also, the #18 off-course tire was alluring as well.

My favorite part of this course was #8-#11. The flow was very nice and the dogs made this sequence look like fun.

Below are Dan's Excellent & Open JWW courses as well as his Excellent FAST courses. Since I was judging I wasn't able to see how the dogs did, but I'll see if I can get some feed back from him. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Year of the Puppy

I'd like to officially rename 2009 as the Year of the Puppy. With so many puppies joining homes, I'm certainly getting my fill of them and loving every minute of their cute antics.

My current class is a nice energetic group - my favorite kind of dog. However, for some of my pet owners, this behavior may be a bit overwhelming.  My job is to help my clients move from their current challenge and transition their pups into well-behaved dog that will remain in their home forever. 

These first 6 weeks of getting a dog are the most important. For this group, I'll have to work hard to guide my clients on how to keep the results they accomplish in class and to do their homework - even if it's just a few minutes a day.

On a slightly different topic, another trend I've been noticing in the dog world is trainers who won't accept certain breeds into their classes, regardless of the individual dog's personality.

Recently I've had several clients indicate that their Pit Bull or Pit Bull-mix wasn't welcomed else where.

While I do realize that some breed tendencies are prevalent, I firmly believe that nurturing can also be a strong part of how a dog will turnout as well.  I like to take these breeds and judge them on a case by case basis. I feel that until a dog proves themselves to be 'dangerous', I accept all of them into my classes.

As a Dalmatian owner for over 13 years, I can remember being turned away from classes because "Dalmatians weren't trainable", as I was once told. Another instructor made me write an essay on why he should allow my dog into his class.

Owners need to be the ones held accountable and as trainers, we should be providing our services to all dogs & their owners unless a specific dog shows us otherwise.

But back to my puppy pictures...enjoy and isn't it great to see so many breeds in one class?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Camera Phone's - Not Just for Teens Any More

This little girl was sitting pretty while her Mom was walking the course before class. I couldn't help but take advantage of the photo opportunity and snapped a picture with my camera phone.

I used to think camera phones were worthless gadgets (especially in the old days when you had to pay for using this service), but many times I find myself without my regular camera and a photo moment in front of me. Now I don't have to miss them!

Anyone who has been around me long enough knows that I'm an absolute camera FREAK. 

For example, last year a boating trip on Lake Washington resulted in over 220 photos. Another time a couple mile hike up Tiger Mountain got me over 75 would have been much more, but my camera battery well my cell phone battery when I reverted to using the camera phone.

A few years ago I was fascinated with flowers and spent the entire Spring running around Washington taking pictures of them. I have hundreds of beautiful pictures and later I used some of them while decorating my home.

This year I'm on a mission to take pictures of the dogs that are a part of my life. Not just my own pups, but my client's dogs as well. I also have a surprise in store for my pet obedience folks - I plan to use the photos on their graduation certificates. Since I know I'm not the only one who loves pictures of their dogs, I want my clients to be proud of their 4-legged babies and the hard work they put into them.

I'll be sure to share pictures as I continue to take them.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Yesterday I hosted my first Bark-Be-Que. Basically, it's a food-fest for the people and a fun-fest for the pooches.

I have several newer clients with young dogs who live in the area and the Bark-Be-Que was a great way for everyone to meet and for their dogs to socialize.

We had a great time and the dogs had a blast!

The first picture is Heidi with my BC Spot and her Aussie Dylan.

My property is divided into two fenced sections, the wooded area near the house and down a short path there is a gate that leads to a wide open pasture with an area of spring wetlands in one small corner. 

I mentioned the water area because you'll notice that in the second picture Kona, the Golden Retriever, LOVED that area and took time for a mud facial and natural bath in the tall grass!

In our third picture we have Burton, Dan's Chocolate Lab running with Dylan.

There are more pictures up on my facebook page so feel free to visit there as well.

It was a great time and I'll definitely be hosting another Bark-Be-Que later this summer. What a fun way to spend an evening, hanging out with great people and super pups!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weim Trial & Courses

On Friday I had the honor to judge the Weimeriener Specialty held in the Olympia, WA area.

The weather was beautiful and the dogs were great. It was so much fun to judge such an athletic and talented breed.

In Excellent Standard, handlers & dogs were drawn to the off course jump going from #8 to #9.

In Excellent JWW, the problem area was #4 to #5 as the off course tunnel entrance was a big draw.

Otherwise, dogs did GREAT and I had so much fun with this very wonderful group.

Thank you Weims!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Demolition Project

Over the last 2 years, Dan and I have worked hard to 'take-back' our once overgrown and previously neglected backyard.

Today, our friend Jason (pictured here) came over with his John Deere tractor to help jump start us into our final phase of landscaping in the forest area of our yard.

The plan was to demolition an old and large stump area near the house that had created a large dirt hill about 35' from our property line. 

Besides being a talented guy, Jason's also quite the character. 

In the first picture, Jason is having fun showing off the heavy stump he lifted with the tractor and poses with the front wheels off the ground. Not to worry, Jason had the situation under control and we all got a good laugh.

The next picture is of the area after it has been completely flattened and's so beautiful! All day, I kept looking over there admiring the work Jason did.

Thanks to him, we've now added 35+ feet of usable space in our backyard and it will be easier to maintain once we seed the area.

As a side note, we replanted to other parts of our property, 8 mature ferns and 3 smaller cedars that had grown in that area over the years so that no plants were wasted or disposed of. This is in keeping with our goal which is to maintain the natural plants native to our area, to reuse plants already on our property, to reuse lost & forgotten materials such as paver stones put in by previous owners, to create a low maintenance yard that is dog friendly and to do all of the above at a minimal cost. So far we're right on track!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

For the Love of the Sport

As the Puppies Grow...

The attached picture of Ru was taken almost a year ago, but it's one of my favorites. She's not so puppy any more and is now almost 16 months old. While she is technically old enough to compete in AKC Agility, I prefer the 18 months that USDAA uses as their guidelines.

Ready or not, Ru will compete in the PSLRA Lab Trial that I'm co-chairing in mid-June. I mean hey, why not make her debut in front of friends! : )

I've been feeling the pressure a bit since I haven't been practicing as diligently as some, but I've certainly spent daily time bonding with her in non-agility ways - so there is a plus and she certainly isn't being ignored. On the contrast, she's a spoiled brat !

This is a hard age because she's probably ready physically for the challenges Agility has to offer, but I've intentionally chosen to be conservative and take it easy on this (as I have been with all of my prior dogs) and that's why I hadn't practiced as much as some at this age. 

For the record, mentally Ru has an incredible work ethic and LOVES to be with & interact me. I've known all along that she enjoys the parts of Agility we have trained, but was concerned when she was a bit slower and more cautious when it came to putting it all together with jumping AND handling. You could definitely see the wheels turning while she worked through the information being tossed at her at a faster and faster speed as she progressed (this is a good thing). 

Here's where training with Stacy P-G and Pinky way back when came in handy - Stacy taught me that as long as they're thinking, let them finish the thought and see what conclusion they come up with. Far too often handlers step in to make the decision for the dog - not the best way for the dog to learn. It's amazing how that sound advice from over a decade ago is still very relevant today and has quickly paid off.

Tonight I finally got a full glimpse of what Ru is capable of and I'm thrilled
  • Tonight she was a little speed demon over the jumps (a first). While I had the speed over contacts, I hadn't had it during jumps & handling sequences so I was so amazed at the progress and enthusiasm she suddenly showed tonight. 
  • Next, she took 3 jumps in a straight line, a very tough sequence for a young dog.
  • On the first approach to the teeter, she did hesitate a bit earlier than I would have preferred. However, I'm proud that she recognized the obstacle and adjusted to fit her comfort level (although ultimately I'd like to heavily reward going to the end of the board & riding it down).  So I was VERY pleased that as the night progressed she ran toward the last 1/3 of the board with confidence and rode it down easily on her own accord. I was very generous for that teeter performance and am encouraged that she offered more on her own accord!
  • Next, Ru loves her contacts and will often pull to those obstacles rather than follow my lead. I continued my work from last week on by-passing contacts and taking a different path. I was so pleased when this week she easily got the concept and again, I rewarded generously for her decision. (Note to self: remember to stop and reward the jumps as much as I had the contacts so that all obstacles have equal value).
  • Next, what stuck out was that I really need to go back to my rear-cross work with her. As she gains speed and confidence, she is not reading (or I'm not executing properly) the rear-cross as it's been trained or to my criteria expectations. This is normal for the transitional phase and should be some fun homework for us to do over the next week or so.
I believe that one of the things that made us successful tonight was that I made sure to be very generous with my praise and treats over the last few weeks. I worked hard to focus on the positive and to change my attitude to look for those good things vs. the 'faults'. I also worked hard to break things down into smaller, more managable & successful parts.

As a bit of insight, there was a week in the past where I came to the conclusion that I was expecting Ru (my Dalmatian) to act like a Border Collie (namely like my now deceased BC, Coal, the last dog I trained from a puppy). Imagine my disappointment when she wasn't Coal and shame on me for inadvertently going in that directions. But, I'm human and since I allow my dogs the luxury of learning by doing, I need to give myself the same space. It was a good reminder on how every dog IS different and that just like when I'm teaching, I need to remember to adjust more liberally to my own personal dogs.

Additionally, I think it's easy to forget the amount of time and effort we put into our older dogs and that it's way too easy to expect our younger ones to 'just know' those things. Too bad osmosis doesn't work for dog training since I'd be soooo rich if I could accomplish that.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cage Fighting - a Clue is in the Body Language

Body language is an amazing tool. It can portray a subtle message or make a powerful statement. There are countless books written on this topic and an entire science devoted to it. During my off-hours on Saturday, I had an unexpected chance to witness body language in its most simplistic and purest form. It seemed as if time had slowed down to allow each detail to be amazingly clear.

It started with two intact males in a large pen. Besides the initial cordial glance at each other, all seemed 'normal', but it didn't take long before they began to circle each other in a slow, stalking and deliberate pace. Step 1 - Posturing, had begun.

I couldn't help but notice how their eyes stared with purpose as they waited for a sign that would explain the other's intentions. Both males observed every motion as they watched for a muscle to tense or the flicker of an eye - something that would confirm or deny the potential threat. Now we were well into Step 2 - Stare Down, and it soon became clear that neither had plans to back down.

The atmosphere was escalated by the presence of other pack members who were quiet but watchful. They were EDGY and the vibe reverberated throughout the room like a sharp but subtle blast of air.  Thanks to the cage, they were forced to stay back and could only watch as the center two moved in closer. Some of the pack pretended not to care by turning their heads, while others were frenzied in anticipation and outright stared. We had rounded the corner and were well into Step 3 - Pack Mentality.

The final two remaining stages were the actual fight, followed by the declaration of a winner. As I'm sure you guessed, the fight did start, during which there was quite a bit of tumbling, tossing, rolling and blood. Yes, real blood. One word summed up this event for me - hedonistic.

Now here's the good news. No 4-legged animals were present, used or hurt during the above event. Confused? You should be and you might be surprised to learn that this was a legal HUMAN cage fighting exhibition held in a sports arena. Why was I there? A work event, complete with box seats, for my husband's company (who built the arena). I'm pretty open minded, but this event will forever be checked off on my list of life event experiences as something that need never be repeated. 

So what does this event have to do with dogs? Well, at least dogs fight for a purpose. On the other hand, leave it to 'civilized humans' to fight and draw blood merely for the sport of it! 

Ok, the real lesson is that no matter how social we are, body language still remains the base for communication for all beings. Watch and you too will learn - although I suggest sitting in a mall to watch people or at the edge of a dog class to watch K9's. It's a more enjoyable experience without the posturing : )

Friday, May 1, 2009

Class Course - April 29, 2009

I like to keep my clients challenged and will often change up a course style to help accomplish this. Some weeks we do tons of running, some weeks micro handling and others a combination of both.

This week we mainly worked on #1 - #6 and immediately my clients thought I was cruel to set up such a thing.

After working all of the potential ways this sequence could be handled, I showed them a very unique and easy way to handle this sequence - it was definitely the "Lisa Special" and my clients were amazed and thrilled to be trying something completely new.

While I won't be letting the cat out of the bag on this one publicly, I'm thinking of taking some time to video the maneuver and post it on a password protected page on my website for my current students.  Yeap, the maneuver IS sweet!

OK, back to the other things we worked on.  Here are the various exercises that are WONDERFUL to practice with your dogs:
  • F/C between 2&3 with a R/C between 5&6
  • F/C between 2&3 with a F/C between 5&6 (watch that #1 jump!)
  • Push to 2, R/C between 3&4 and keep dog on right to 6
  • F/C between 2&3, F/C between 4&5 and R/C to 6 (lots of work, but a good drill exercise)
There's quite a bit more, tell me what else you came up with.