Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Magic

Merry Christmas!
Wishing Everyone a Season of Peace and Joy.
-From the Good Dogs of Aquinna
(No Bad Dogs Here;-)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

On The Road

Living in the northeast, we are lucky to have an abundance of dog shows to choose from.  However, for those going after that elusive major, looking for a tracking event or showing in a specialty, you may find that you have to travel out of state. If you don't have an RV with all the creature comforts, some advanced planning will make your trip go more smoothly.  On my Droid DNA phone, I have bookmarked a few sites to prevent any last minute surprises.
* Infodog.com- on the home page you can search for shows within a specified mileage from your zip code & then book a "pet-friendly" hotel room from your phone.  If your dog gets sick while you travel, you can do a search for vets by entering the closest zip code.  You can also read the judging program on-line for ring times & directions to the show site.  Check the catalog for results after the show or with membership you can get real-time results.
* K9data.com- a golden & lab only database.  Remember to keep the info on your dog's page updated!  If your dog is lost, a microchip or tattoo # on your dog's page would be invaluable.  Furthermore, if you attend one of the health clinics at the larger shows, the info on that page can be used to fill out the paperwork.
* AKC.org- sign up for the "My AKC" feature to manage your dogs & plan events or get directions to a show. If your dog is lost and enrolled with AKC CAR recovery, you can contact them for assistance.
* Apps-  there are plenty of travel apps you can download to your smartphone.  Visit the itunes or google play store to start your search.  One of my favorite games is the Android app, "Granny Smith"- great for down time at the hotel & looks amazing on a hi-def 1920 x 1080 screen.
Start planning now and before you know it, you will have the road trip to remember!

                                                         Jet-Setting Baby Quinn

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Whenever I look at Bear, I don't just see the dog, I see the events that mark his life and mine. From companion to my Novice A dog- we have climbed the learning curve together. The greatest compliment I ever got was when a fellow exhibitor told me, "you make it look so easy."  Of course, we had our failures--the times I thought I wasn't cut out for this--but we persevered.
So, I wish for my boy, many more happy dog years enjoying simple pleasures; a slice of watermelon, a piece of Cabot cheese, a leisure walk. Though retirement calls and we may never step in the competition ring together again, I will keep those memories close to my heart.
Happy 10th Birthday to my special boy! What an amazing journey it has been, my friend.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mental Toughness

With the buzz about Mental Toughness and its role in success in both business and sports, I wondered how it could be applicable to the world of competitive dog sports.  After all, we are a unique group, but there are principles that foster mental toughness in the show ring that we can practice now, before we fill out the next entry form.
1. Adapt to Change- Rules & Regulations change constantly in each venue; obedience, rally, field, breed and agility have all undergone change. Embrace the new!  Face major life changes head on- view your training sessions as a safe haven where you will grow mentally & spiritually.
2. The Art of Failing- I have failed and live to tell about it. Picture yourself five years from now and still competing. Repeat the mantra," I am not going anywhere- I am here for the long haul. I belong here."
3. Physical Fitness- You can't deny the mind/body connection. A toned, fit body exudes confidence and lowers the resting heart rate. Although easier said than done, just take one step at a time. You will get there!
4. Ring Zen- Ever wonder how a mother can carry on a conversation with a friend, but still see her child standing in back of her? This is what you will do in the ring with the judge, but you will do it in a Zen state. You will have the vision of an owl, but you will be in a meditative state with your dog. Practice learning to read your dog's cues and communicate using energy & body language.
5. Train Hard & Consistent- You cannot short change or circumvent this step. Be willing to put in the hard work and do whatever it takes to succeed as a team.
6. Live in the Present- This is a lesson you have already learned from your dog. Now fake it until you make it! Imagine all previous NQ's have been erased from the record books. Today, both you and your dog have a fresh start. Make the most of the unique talents you & your dog have been given.
Whatever your passion, find your niche. Live each day with determination, resiliency and purpose.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Peer Pressure

When you are training dogs, at some point you will get stuck. Sometimes the solution is right in front of your nose the whole time......though not exactly your nose.
First, the back-story: I was taking a walk with an acquaintance and her dog in a lovely arboretum one day.  With me at the time, was my adolescent male, Bear.  He had about a 90% recall- having done quite a bit of off-leash work with him already.  The arboretum unfortunately, was full of very adorable, inquisitive but fast bunnies.  As my friend and I came to a fork in the path, Bear shot out in full gallop, down the path we had no intention of taking.  My friend calmly looked at her dog and told him to go find Bear and bring him back.  We waited patiently for a few minutes. Sure enough, Bear and his friend came running back and joined us on the correct path- no attempts to bolt occurred the rest of the walk. Since then I have used peer pressure to reinvigorate a much older Bear, who was bored with certain drills. If I put another dog in the crate next to him and had him train after the first dog, it created a friendly rivalry. He would shoot out of the crate like a cannonball when it was his turn to go in the ring.
Fast forward to a nearly 10 year old Bear. When I was training my new girl Quinn on bumpers, she insisted on doing a victory lap before returning to me.  It was the canvas bumpers with the pheasant wings attached, that she had the most trouble with.  All other bumpers were returned promptly.  I remembered my friend and thought, now is the time for Bear to pay it forward.  The next time Quinn went to retrieve the pheasant wing bumper and before she had time to stall, I told Bear to go get Quinn and have her bring back the bumper.  They both came back promptly with Quinn in the lead. She rather smartly, swung her rear around and dropped into heel position, ready to deliver the bumper to hand.  Good girl!
Remember that training is a partnership- an older, wiser dog can be a wonderful resource.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn At Aquinna

Situated in south-central Massachusetts in an area known as "The Last Green Valley," we are lucky to experience all that fall has to offer. The wild turkey hens with their young poults that we saw in spring, are now magnificent young adults. On our daily walks on the trails around Westville Dam, one of the dogs and I spot a red fox with a full, scarlet coat running through a field. The reds, golds and yellows of the maple trees are a wonderful compliment to the pumpkins and mums that sit on the front steps. At night, the temperature dips down into the 30's and frost magically appears when you wake up. The Euonymus alatus or "burning bush" is turning a bright, fiery red. At night after a long day, the dogs curl up on the sofa. We share the last of the early fall apples and start to plan our winter training sessions. Autumn in New England is a prelude to the coming, long winter. Is there a better way to spend it than with a warm golden?