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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Zulu Snuggles In

Zulu's first full-day in Seattle ended nicely.
After playing with Dan (picture below) and RUNNING in the pasture with the rest of the dogs after dinner, Zulu & Ru snuggled up with me for the evening.

Dan's been having a great time with the dogs too. Prior to Zulu snuggling in with me, he spent the entire movie time laying on Dan and schmoozing with him.

Dan was also the first to grab the camera when we took the pups out to the pasture for a little romp and he captured some incredible shots of Zulu & Ru running and playing like little goofs.

Zulu also had a chance to play with my in-laws Labs and he and Spazzy Jazzy got along smashingly. Jazzy's not always quick to play with new dogs and she immediately took to him and the race of 'who could do the more play bows' quickly began.

In typical Border Collie style, Zulu is choosing to stay out and play when called and so Dan and I plan to immediately begin our home training plan with him.

It's nice to see him excited and interested in the other pups, but ultimately we need him to be able to snap too and have a reliable recall for safety reasons.

While we may let him get away with no formal training today, tomorrow will be a different story.

He has settled in incredibly well and is a very happy pup so now it's time to give him a few jobs and further develop him to the household rules. I have no doubt he'll catch on quickly : )

Zulu Meets RuRu

Zulu's afternoon was nice and uneventful. He hung around/napped with me and of course I loved on him as often as I could!

Dan picked up our young Dalmatian, Rough (Ru) and I put the other dogs away so Zulu and RuRu would have a chance to get to know one another.

I bet Dan that they'd be running around and playing like little maniacs within 10 minutes. I was took less than 3 minutes and they were playing like old pros.

Rouge will be GREAT for Zulu and vice versa. They're both incredibly sweet dogs and have a wonderful outlook on life.

I took some pictures of the two of them playing and as you can see, they get along smashingly.

Later tonight we'll take them out to the pasture to run. Burton won't be invited because while he is a terrific dog and loves to play, he tends to get too rough with the others.

So later Dan and Zulu got a chance to play. I feel so bonded to the little guy and I know Dan feels the same. It's really fun to watch the two of them play and to listen to Zulu do his play yipping with Dan. This is the first puppy that the two of us picked out together so it's very special when it's a match for both of us.

Zulu, We're Not In Kansas Any More

Well, I'm sure by now you can tell the next several days are going to be about Zulu and me taking a ton of pictures while he's experiencing a lot of 'firsts' here in his new home.

As I write, he's curled up next to me on the large double chair catching up on sleep after a busy morning. So far he's played with the dogs, taste tested an entire basket of toys and explored both the forest area of our home and the pasture area as well.

In Louisiana, the temps were well over 100 degrees. Here in Seattle, we're at about 65 degrees this morning and sunny. We told him on the airplane he was going to love the Pacific Northwest temps : )

Attached are some pictures of this morning's adventures. The first was taken in the pasture area. I brought him and Spot out there to play. Spot is so excited to have a BC playmate and one that loves to play and isn't interested in challenging him for the position of top dog.

The next picture is of Zulu smelling the clover found throughout our pasture. Clover is perfect for horses to eat (that's what our pasture used to be for) and is green & hearty enough to handle agility equipment on top of it.

The next picture is of Zulu running the path from the house & forest area to the open pasture. Later I'll try to get a picture of Zulu on the old cedar logs found on our property from trees that have fallen decades ago. They're a favorite climbing treat for all of the dogs.

The next picture is of Spot and Zulu laying on the couch after their romp in the pasture area.

Zulu has learned very fast how comfy pillows are and lays on them whenever they're available. Besides the pillows, he really likes to plunk down on me as well and I just love it.

I've long since learned that I really adore when my dogs are all lovey-dovey and I encourage and welcome that behavior. My pups are my pets first and I get a great deal of joy from them.

Zulu hasn't had a chance to meet Ru yet as she's still with Auntie Angel, one of my great friends and my handler for the Conformation ring. I'll admit, I'm savoring the bonding time with Zulu because I know when Ru comes home, she's going to be in love with him as her new playmate and he's going to think he's died and gone to heaven with her sweetness.

I'm hoping Ru will be Zulu's main mentor as she is incredibly confident, loving and has a way of bringing all of the dogs personalities together.

On another topic, Ru & Burton love to lay and cuddle together and I'm secretly hoping Zulu joins in on the 'puppy pile'. This usually means a gathering on my chair, with me taking part of course!

Last night Burton was laying next to me and Zulu started to lay on top of Burton and then realized he really didn't know him too well and moved down a bit. Let's hope that by the end of the week they all decide to be best of buds and sleep comfy on each other. It sounds like a great photo opportunity too.

I've been in touch with both Barbara, his breeder and Felicia, the Sire's owner this morning so the new family ties are going very well. I love to keep in touch with the breeders and to share pictures. It's also a great opportunity to find out who your pup takes after the most in terms of physical appearance, character and quirks! Also, it's nice to have the resources to go back to from folks who care about him as much as we do.

Well, I'm off to cuddle some more with my puppy who is sleeping pressed up against me : )

Monday, June 29, 2009

Zulu's Trip To Seattle, WA

Today was a big day for Zulu!

He got to go on two airplane rides, go in an elevator, ride 3 different kinds of escalators, go up a steep ramp to the airplane, be a good dog and lay in 2 different restaurants (in 2 different cities) and met trillions and trillions of people and kids, not to mention viewing countless rolling luggage!

Zulu was a CHAMP! As you can see in the first picture attached, he's comfortably laying on my lap in Dallas-Ft. Worth. It was a very exciting time.

On the airplane, the crews were wonderful and Zulu slept on my lap the entire time. On the Dallas to Seattle flight, Zulu and I caught a couple hour nap so we were both ready for the homecoming.

Ru, my young Dalmatian, isn't home yet, but meeting the other dogs went great! Pinky, my older Dalmatian, LOVES Border Collies so all was fine there. Spot, my older Border Collie, thought he was in HEAVEN having another dog who plays and looks just like him. Burton, our Chocolate Lab really likes to play with him.

As you can see, Zulu is playing with the herd and doing great.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zulu's Last Day in Louisiana

Zulu has had a very busy weekend and by the time we hit this afternoon, he was a very, very tired boy.

The picture attached is him sleeping soundly in our hotel room at 5:00 p.m. We've learned he loves pillows and the creature comforts human bedding offers. He's such a funny guy!

Today his Grandma spent quite a bit of time with him. Zulu was one of her favorite pups and she shared that she will miss him deeply. A very nice lady later told me that his Grandma was sitting in a chair hugging Zulu tight and the tears were flowing freely. This nice lady said she went up to her and said "It will be fine darlin'!"

Zulu is adjusting nicely and has quickly figured out that we're the new important ones in his life. He seems to really like both of us and readily lays on top of each of us at any given time. He's such a great dog! To say we're both smitten with him is an understatement. I can't wait for Ru and the rest of the dogs to meet him. We're inviting friends over tomorrow for a BBQ so they can meet our newest addition. Hope he gets some sleep on the plane for his next big day!

I'll write tomorrow on how the flights went and Zulu's take on the whole thing.

Courses, Monroe, Louisiana, June 28, 2009

Today was day 4 and our last day judging here in Monroe, LA. I judged Standard and Dan judged JWW.

I liked my Standard courses today, including my judging path!

Dog & handlers did a great job on the opening sequence. Some handlers chose front crosses after the chute and others chose rear crosses after jump #5.

Just an interesting note, I ran a course similar to this one in CA awhile back and most handlers did a front cross between #8 & 9. Here in Monroe, most folks did a rear cross either on the take-off side of the #9 jump or on the landing side.

While we're doing comparisons, I have to say that the weave poles here are fantastic. Dogs are wonderful on their entries and when cued for the poles, they DRIVE to them with increasing speed. Definitely something to strive for.

In the next sequence, quite a few large dogs missed either the dog walk or the a-frame contact. Another surprise was that the off-course entrance to the #19 tunnel sucked several dogs in as well. It was heartbreaking to watch dogs who had previously been clean end with an off-course and an NQ.

As for Jumpers, Dan's course is a rework of one of my courses. Except for the placement of a few jumps, the course looks nothing like the original. Dan reworked it and renumbered the course to make it his own.

I heard a ton of cheering and exhibitors said it was a blast to run so I have to assume it was a ton of fun!

We leave early tomorrow morning to head home. We've really had a great time here and will miss the people, but I have to admit, we won't miss the oppressive heat : )

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Courses, Monroe Louisiana 6-27-2009

Today was day 3 of judging in Monroe, LA and I can't emphasize enough how much fun Dan and I have had.

I feel like a broken record, but the people here have been so friendly and an absolute joy to be around.

We had a chance to sample some local cuisine when a club member's husband made homemade jambalaya for lunch. It had just the right spice, a tone of sausage & chicken and was so incredible. Both Dan and I went back for seconds : )

Okay, onto the courses. I judged JWW and Dan judged Standard.

I LOVED my JWW course, solely because the dogs were running and they really looked like they were having a blast.

The tunnels, taken 3 times right in the beginning seemed to really rev up the dogs and they came blasting out of each tunnel so that by the time they started the jumps, they were as high as a kite!

The things that nabbed handlers were 1) the wrong side of the #4 tunnel, 2) the #12 jump which resulted in either a dropped bar or if handlers were doing a rear cross, they executed the crossing early and pulled the dog off the jump, or 3) the #16 jump where dogs bypassed the jump in their haste to get through the closing sequence.

In terms of my favorite parts of handling, I thought folks who were able to do a timely front cross between the #3 & 4 tunnels as well as a front cross between jumps #7 & 8 and #11 & 12 were able to direct their dogs very nicely through the course.

Unlike the last several days, folks who used extreme distance were also very successful maneuvering on this course. So basically, just about any handling type worked well - my favorite type of courses!

As for Standard, Dan said he really liked how the course ran, but that he had one hell of a judge's path that required a ton of mileage on his part. Apparently he had to hoof it around the course to get from place to place in order to do the judgely deed. After taking a quick look at it, there seemed to be some definite handling sections, but I'm confident these handlers were up for the challenge - after all, from what I've seen over the last few days, they really are terrific at this specific skill.

Oh, on a side note, we've picked a name for our new puppy. We've decided to keep the name his Grandma gave him, which is Zulu. Since Zulu is one of the crews who are a part of the Mardi Gras parade (more specifically, it is a group who paint their faces black with a white outline, just like the coloring of our little pup), we've decided his fancy AKC name will be "Keeva's Mardi Gras Adventure" with a call name of Zulu.

Zulu is such a wonderful puppy. He was hesitant yesterday when we took him back to stay with us, but as of this morning Zulu was very warm and welcoming toward us and he really seems to have figured out we adore him. As I type this note, he's sleeping between the two of us on the bed up by the pillows. Yeap, he's going to be spoiled, just like the rest of our pups.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Dog "Zulu"

Well, it's official...we went to Louisiana and we're coming home with a PUPPY! 5 month old 'Zulu' as he's now called won both Dan and I over and we're just having a blast with him.

As you can see from the pictures, he is a Border Collie and his coloring is a Black & White Tri (in other words, he has a little bit of brown here and there).

He comes from great herding lines and has a very even temperament, but can also 'turn it on' to play.

Being new proud parents, we've already bought him a ton of toys and are proceeding on the path of spoilization - perfect for all puppies!

Dan is smitten with Zulu and I'm jealous because he's bonding more to Dan than me at the moment!

Hopefully I'll be able to win him over soon : )

In the meantime, enjoy the pictures and oh, don't tell Keith & Beth (Dan's parents) as we want to surprise them when we come home on Monday.

Courses, Monroe, Louisiana June 26, 2009

Today was Day 2 of judging in Monroe, LA. Dan judged JWW and I judged Standard - both courses are attached.

Handlers did a great job on the course, but I didn't feel like I had an chance to really watch and enjoy the handling.

Unfortunately for me, my judging path was partially hidden by the a-frame and in order to ensure the scribe could see me, I was often dodging and quickly moving from place to place. The perils of judging : )

As for JWW, Dan mentioned that the #2 - 3 jumps were a hard way to start a course and in hindsight, he would have changed that.

Just like I would have moved that darn a-frame if I had the chance!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Courses, Monroe, Louisiana June 25, 2009

This weekend Dan and I are judging in Monroe, the middle of a heatwave. Luckily, we're indoor in a horse arena that has very lovely air conditioning and are missing the repressive 101+ degree weather outside, plus the incredible humidity.

When asked what I thought of the weather, I said "Two words come to mind, Holy Hell!" The reply "Darlin' there ain't nothin' Holy about it!" Gotta love the south! : )

The exhibitors and people we've come across have been absolutely lovely down here. After judging, we took some time to go back to the hotel and jump in the swimming pool. It was quite warm, like a hot tub, but still fun.

OK, onto the courses from today.

Today I judged Jumpers and my Excellent JWW course is attached. It was pretty to watch the dogs run this course and so I have to first thank everyone for doing such a great job and for making the course look like fun.

I was especially impressed with the weave pole entries. It's clear that folks in this area train them very, very well. A few other things I noticed is that the rear-cross is king here (very few front crosses were done) and they love their distance work!

My favorite sequence was from jump #4 to #5. I just loved how these dogs sliced the #4 jump and landed in such a way that they were able to dig in and take off for the next jump. (Note to self, this was another item folks down here have done a spectacular job training.)

A few surprises on the Jumpers course. First, from jump #7-8, quite a few dogs either headed or took the #13 tunnel. When designing this course, this obstacle was NOT considered one of the off-course options since it's a good 28' away from #7. Handlers who were behind their dog and had not yet gotten around the weave poles (either due to timing or utilizing extreme distance handling) as their dogs were clearing #7 were more likely to head for the off-course option. Those that were ahead of their dogs or closer to their dogs for their rear cross before #8 were less likely to have the dog head toward the tunnel.

Again, very few folks did front crosses and just 4 people out of 200 did a front cross for this sequence. Those that did a front cross did so between #6 & #7 and had terrific results.
Second, the off course entrance for #13 also got quite a few dogs. Most handlers had their dogs on their left as they were doing the poles and opted to pull their dog toward the correct entrance with mixed results. About 7 people did a front cross after the poles to ensure their dog went to the correct entrance and all were successful.

In the closing sequence, only 2 dogs took the off-course dummy jump after #15. Continuing on, most handlers 'pulled' their dog over the #18 jump and several did a rear cross - both options generally worked very well. Those that rushed the #18 jump on their way to the triple risked having their dog completely bypass #18 and head directly to the last jump.

As for Excellent Standard, this was Dan's course and although it looks like a fun and fast course on paper, unfortunately I can't comment too much on it since I was in the other ring judging. One exhibitor said "That was a wicked a-frame to the dog walk, but it was fun!" I did see a few dogs running that sequence and I was very impressed with the rear handling from #9 and especially over #10. This seemed like a place where you had to be patient and maneuver the dog's path to set them up successfully. I think this is a skill that has long since been lost (or never had) in the Pacific Northwest - it's just different handling styles throughout the country.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's courses!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Photos from PSLRA (Lab) Trial - June 2009

This past weekend was the Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Club's Spring Agility Trial.

It's a big event that is held on the northern side of the Seattle area and we pull from the other side of the mountains (Eastern WA) as well as the Seattle area.

There were 5 MACHs and 2 PACs this weekend, along with a Century Title, the first of it's kind for the AKC! Robin Kletke and his Border Collie, Vixen are pictured here with their special ribbon.

Next, we have a candid shot of one of our judges, Dan Butcher. Throughout the trial we were being goofy and several of us kept yelling "Judge, we know you!" so this picture is fondly called my Stalker Photo : )

Several students were there and I had an opportunity to play with our new camera a bit and got photos of Samoyed Kim, Sheltie Shelby and Sheltie Indy.

About 200 more photos can be found at:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rouge's First Agility Trial

Today was Rouge's first Agility Trial and although I wouldn't have entered her on my own, we had free entries and so it was impossible to pass up a great training opportunity.

I'll be honest, June has been so hectic and I've been sick more times than not, so I haven't worked Ru very often. My client's dogs have been getting just about all of my training attention and my dogs have been left behind to be uncivilized and untrained!

Our first run this morning was Novice FAST - not one of my favorite classes and for a young and inexperienced dog, this is almost certain death or drama due to an almost certain lack of flow or pattern.

Our first run was memorable. In hindsight, I remember Pinky's first run was similar to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disney World as well. Ru took the first jump and rather than taking the expected teeter that she was 1 step from, she dodged off and proceeded to run at full speed in an attempt to work off the overly active energy that had apparently built up while I wasn't looking. Not that I didn't have a clue that we were going to be in trouble, on the contrary, Ru's eyes were as big as saucers the minute we stepped out of our trailer. I don't know who took my ring-wise and ring-experienced dog, but the out of control rocket left in her place had her own agenda and having fun was first on the list!

Needless to say, we were whistled off and left Novice laughing and smiling - she is cute you know!

Later in the day was Jumpers and I smartly scratched from that class. Again, straight, fast lines was not a formula for success with Rouge and I today.

Later in the day, we had Standard. I was a bit more confident going into this class because Ru LOVES her contacts. As luck would have it, we had a jump straight to a dog walk. Oh how I could have kissed that judge and smiled at my wonderful luck in drawing that design for her. As expected, Ru easily took the first jump and at the site of one of her beloved contacts, she was all business. Another jump and front cross later had us heading off to obstacle #4 and we were already much further than we were in our first run. Another jump and a 90 degree turn had us heading up the teeter and the well practiced table was after that.

I cut out the middle portion of the course which included the weaves (she has no idea of them as of yet) a tunnel and an entire line of jumps down the back stretch would have put Rouge and I back to square one so we opted go straight to the ending sequence which included the a-frame (another favorite of hers). She finished this sequence nicely and even sat to receive praise and her leash.

Ideally, this wouldn't have been Ru's debut, but life is rarely ideal : ) Regardless, I still had a great time with her and may have even gotten a few photos from the show photographer too!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Santa Cruz & Sea Lions

After judging on Saturday, Dan and I had an opportunity to drive into Santa Cruz to check out the scene.

As we were driving into town, we saw quite a few 'characters'. I couldn't get to my camera fast enough! The first guy we saw had layers of leather skins flowing behind him as he walked. Think Kevin Costner in Water World, this guy had a rugged look that was crazy for a sunny and warm location like we were in.

Besides leather-man, most folks were hanging out by the water.

Among those hanging out along the Pier were the sea lions. Attached are a couple of photos from those who were sunbathing and enjoying the day. Any excuse to play with the new camera and animals are the perfect subjects.

The last picture is of the pier we were on. It was a nice mini trip along this coastal town.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Courses, Northern CA, June 14, 2009

Today was another great day judging in Northern, CA....Ah, except for the slight residuals from my Sake experience the evening before. As a part of this club's great hospitality, we went to a sushi place that had these really neat wooden boxes full of Sake, was really fun!

Back to the trial - we started today with Excellent JWW. This was originally a Standard course in it's prior life and with a few modifications and switching out of some obstacles, this course was reincarnated into this creation.

Most handlers were clearly worried about the #7 jump. Some handlers rushed to get in a front cross after the #4 tunnel and others leisurely waited, called their dogs in and then rear-crossed the #5 jump.

The biggest surprise was after the weave poles and down the line of jumps from #11 through #13, where the #12 jump had quite a few dropped bars. A few dogs took the off-course #1 jump and only 1 dog took the off course jump after the #15 triple.

Taking the double twice posed no problems for dogs and most handlers picked up the dogs on their right side at the #17 jump going into the closing. If handlers were late in their cue, dogs had to work hard to keep the #17 bar up and not run into their human partner.

On Excellent FAST, most dogs easily got this bonus (most folks do a lot of USDAA out here) and worked their way around the course easily.

As for Excellent Standard, this was Dan's course and as usual, I was in one ring judging while the course was being run and didn't get to see much of the action.

I did however, see his Q rate and it looked good, so the course must have run well!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Courses, Northern CA, June 13, 2009

Today was a great day in Northern, CA which included a MACH2 for Channan Fosty & Icon. They had some absolutely beautiful runs, which can be seen at:

From a judge's point of view, this course had some unique elements that I hadn't used in the past. After a decade of judging, I don't want my courses to become stale and I want to bring in newer elements. Sometimes I play with the angles of jumps and a few other tricks, but when all is said and done, the one thing I never want to loose is a sense of flow for the dogs - that's very important to me and the one thing I have strived for beginning on my first day of judging.

Overall, this group of handlers made my course look pretty : )

Attached is also Dan's Excellent JWW and Excellent FAST course.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Puppies!!!!

Here are pictures of my newest group of super star puppies!

Aren't they just adorable?!?!

This is what makes the day so worth it.  Enjoy the photos.