Always Training. Always Learning.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year New Goals

In the likely event that the world fails to end this year here are my goals for 2012 by dog.

UDX - Thats right it's time to get off my butt and get her working again.
High In Trial - Even if it's at the amstaff nationals.
TT - I have had a hard time finding a test in my area but I am planning on traveling this coming year and hope I will be able to find one.

Both will be easy.  I just have to make it to enough shows.

Ch - If I can improve my sorry handling we might just have a shot.
BN - I'm not in a rush to get him in the obedience ring but I would like to try out beginner novice.
Tracking - I'm not sure if we will be ready to trial but I would like to be well on my way by the fall.
BH - I would love to get his shutzhund BH title


Year end review
It has been a crazy year. Phlox certainly had his ups and downs battling Parvo and Folliculitis. He took so much time to recover that we barely met any of our training goals. He did manage to earn his STAR puppy and CGC by 5 months so what little training we did paid off.
Charlie and Violet have had to take a back seat to the new puppy and crazy schedule. Charlie did manage to earn two legs towards his CD.
Badger earned one leg towards his CD and worked through some issues that came to light at the show. He also earned his RN. I'm still very proud of his perfect score!
It's hard to believe that I only actually made it to three shows this year. Next year is a different story.  

On a non dog related note. My son turned three! It's scary how fast he is growing and how much he is learning. We also added a new member to the family a few months ago. A little parakeet named Hammie.

I hope every one out there has a safe and happy new year. I will be partying with the dogs here at Pup Scouts and hitting the sack around 10:00pm.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Totally Taco

It rarely comes up but if you know me well you know that my first love will always be parrots. This is my 11 year old rescue Timneh grey, Taco.  We have been together for nearly 10 years now.

Over the years I've trained Taco to do a few behaviors on command. Unfortunately it's not a great video. I was actually training just to get him comfortable in our new house.  The camera was making him uncomfortable. 

Taco using a "tool" to scratch his own head

Learning to "shake" with out biting
One of our outings when I still clipped his wings.

Such a sweet face on such an evil bird.
Taco doesn't compete in any sports but as we keep going with his training I'll make sure to post videos of his accomplishments.

"Bye, bye I love you" - Taco

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trying To Update My Look + Rally Training App

For the new year I'm hoping to ad some pzazz to the blog. Unfortunately I am not very gifted at anything remotely related to computers or the internet. I can't even figure out how to use paint. Really.

Over the last month I saw a huge increase in page views but no increase in followers. I'm really hoping a fun new look will help to capture readers attention. I'm also hoping that my intensive training this coming year will produce many fun and informative videos and photos. It helps that I have finally found my camera but it would help even more if I could figure out how to use it.

So if you are reading this but not following it yet Click the little blue link on the right side you'll be glad you did.

Growling software's Rally obedience dog training app

I have yet to try any paied apps on my smart phone but this one has my interest peaked. It includes pictures of all the AKC signs with definitions. It has yet to be updated to the 2012 changes but that is one of the great things about smart phone apps, they are constantly updating and adding information.

I plan on downloading it and giving it a proper review.

For 0.99 it seems like a worth while tool for most competitors.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


The dogs didn't really get much from Santa this year. Phlox had a blast with a paper cup he found and the other dogs have chicken wings and yam chewies to keep them happy. But the only new toys were for my son.

I on the other hand I got a solid wood set of obedience jumps. I am thrilled to be able to train more often and at my home.

My son was also given a stuffed rabies virus by my brother. 

Violet found the rabies

Violet caught the rabies!

I hope every one out there in the blogging world is having a wonderful day. Now on to a large, juicy pot roast!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rally Gets an Upgrade

The AKC is updating the Rally rules, regulations and signs. It really looks like they are trying to turn rally into a legitimate sport.

Favorite new regulation:
"Substantial Deduction (6-10 points) for each of the following:
• Incorrectly performed station** (Automatic 10 point deduction)
• Failure to complete the Sit Stay Exercise (IP)–No retries allowed
• Failure of dog to go over the jump in the proper direction (IP) – no retries allowed
Luring /pleading with the dog
• Lack of natural manner"

To me this is a big step forward. I am a "positive" trainer and use treats and a little luring in my training. However, I would never, ever consider taking a dog into the ring if they "needed" to be lured around a course. To me that is not a trained dog it's a dog being tricked into performing.

Favorite new novice sign:
#36 Slow forward from sit

Favorite new Advance sign:
#118 Halt leave dog 2 steps call to heel forwad

Favorite new Excellent sign:
#209 Stand leave dog down dog call front-finish

The only draw back is that I now have to memorize new signs. But I think it will be worth a little extra effort in order to see the sport move forward.

Check out the rest of the new rules and regulations here --> New Rally Regulations

Check out the new signs here -->  New Rally Signs

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The 2011 AKC National Obedience Invitational was this last weekend.
I have been aware of the event since I started competing in 2009 but I have never really looked into it.

This year I've had NOI fever. If it were televised I would be the nut with a giant foam finger sitting inches from the TV screaming at the screen the entire time, "how could the judge take a point of for that?" or "I can't believe they don't consider THAT legging!" etc. I even went through the catalog to see if I knew any exhibitors, combed through the rules and regulations and looked at pictures and results from past events. I was excited that the AKC would be posting updates and photos from the show.

Well the excitement was pretty short lived. The AKC did a terrible job of keeping us "fans" updated. Very few pictures, and results were posted late Sunday night. There were no gripping updates through out the weekend :(

Updates were not the only thing that were non existent. There were also no bully breeds. Just a flood of Goldens and other "traditional" obedience breeds. Thats what it seemed like any way. In reality there were breeds from all the AKC groups along with the very first all american dog to compete in the NOI. Even the toy dogs got in on the action.
I've been following one of these little dogs on for a while and recently started following their blog. Mr. Rugby did very well and placed 1st in the toy group.

The lack of Amstaffs got the competitor in me all fired up. I've decided to try for the 2013 Invitationals with Violet. I keep trying to think of a reason why I shouldn't and I can't come up with one. Violet and I are about ready to hit the Utility ring and our scores have been steadily increasing. I have learned a lot in the last few years and my handling keeps getting better. Plus it's not that hard to get to the top of the obedience amstaff list. There are just not that many competing at all let a lone at a UD, UDX level.

We may not make it and even if we did I wouldn't expect a miracle. I just think it would be a blast to show up with my 12 year old "pit bull" and do our thing in front of the top competitors in the country.

For the Invitational results and photo's click here

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This is just BS(L)

"All pit bulls and pit bull owners should be killed" I read this comment the other day on our local news paper website.
As a "pit bull" owner I am very use to people thinking that my dogs should die for no particular reason. I am not how ever use to the thought that some one believes I should be killed simply because of my choice of pets.

I use to get angry at people like this. "How dare they talk like that when they don't know the facts." Then I would start to think "Well, maybe they don't know the facts. I'll just teach them how it really is" but after a while and countless frustrating "discussions"  there is always the horrible realization that no matter how much you educate, lecture and teach there are some people who will never believe the truth. People who will always believe that my dogs are just waiting to kill me in my sleep.

I thought this was a pretty good video and wanted to share.

As a "pit bull" owner it's my belief that there is only one way to really change peoples minds. Get out there and show people what these dogs are capable of. 
I will continue to do public events, obedience trials, rally, demonstrations and in the future therapy work with my dogs. I've learned that it's hard for people to believe the stories on the news when they have a wiggly, well trained pit bull staring up at them.

Last years Christmas picture.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Mostly Perfect Weekend

 This weekend was a whirlwind of dust, dogs, blisters, loss and victory.

Badger and I were entered in Rally novice. We have never had a chance to work on dirt before so I figured we would need a little extra time to warm up. Although he was being a bit of a pill he still responded well.
We ended up with a score of 92 and our first RN leg.

The morning started early with Conformation at 8:30am. For Phlox's first time in the ring he did very well. Unfortunately he got 3rd out of three dogs. I really felt the just didn't care much about the puppy class so didn't put much effort into judging them.

Abba Showed in Juniors but didn't place at all. She was showing a new dog but still did very well.

Badger was taking advantage of my sick, tired state. I had very little hope of a good run and was keeping my fingers crossed just to Q.
We did our run and I knew we at least Q'd. I headed back to check out the score and saw a 100 where our score should be. So I waited for them to catch their mistake...No mistake! Badger earned his second leg with a perfect score.

Another early morning with Conformation. This time Phlox was all hyped up and ready to go. He didn't show as well as the day before but that didn't stop him from taking first in his class against two other dogs. His very first win!

Next Abba showed in Juniors. This time she won her class and went on to compete for best Jr. Handler.
Abba won best Jr. along with $1,000 towards collage.

My mother was the time steward at the Rally ring so I knew we were in trouble. Badger loves her and was looking for any excuse not to focus.
We started off really well. Badger was focused and working...until we passed my mother. He continued working but we ended up with a 91.
Badger earned his RN in three days.

My friend also earned her RN this weekend. Way to go Trish and Grace!
Grace with her ribbons
Getting ready
Look at that face.
First time in the ring
First Place, Perfect score
What a good boy.
Abba with Diamond

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Growing Up Is Hard To Do.

Tea cup agility started up again after a month off. Phlox was excited to see his favorite obstacle the tunnel. He ran towards it only to come to a sliding halt. The poor guy just doesn't fit any more.
At 19 inches and 50lbs he is now too big for most of the little dog equipment.
We made the best of the class doing the weave polls and jumps but I think he may have to sit that class out from now on.

On a much happier note. Phlox is moving quickly at last.
He has always been a painfully slow mover. I think even slugs have passed him up while walking.
All this week I have been working on speed, fast response time, fast recall, fast heel work etc.
We hadn't made much progress. He would just walk along a few feet behind me with his sad, thoughtfull eyes gazing up at my face. But today his little light bulb came on.

He trotted along side of me, Ran when I did and paid attention to my speed adjustments. It was definitely the break through I have been waiting for.

Videos and photos will be posted next week....I promise....maybe...
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Phlox Finally Has A Name!

Now that Phlox's skin is looking better and showing him seems possible I finally pulled his paperwork out and send it in. I have been avoiding posting his full name any where until it was official. So I am now introducing....

Eden's Perennial Success

He also just hit 8 months old. Here are his pictures from this month

And here are some pictures of Violet :) 

She was NOT amused.

Ok so I didn't end up getting any videos done last weekend. I didn't actually even get to train any of the dogs. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And I'm Back

I haven't blogged in a while mostly because I haven't had much to put up also because of some health problems we've been dealing with in my son.

On a pet related medical note. The vet finally diagnosed Phlox as having foliculitis. It's an infection of the hair follicles that causes red bumps and inflammation and leads to the hair falling out. He has been on treatment for a little over a week. I can already see a huge difference and I'm thinking that he may look good enough to show in the next couple of months.

Training wise I have been doing a big fat nothing. With everything going on health issues, personal stuff, board and train puppies I have had my hands too full to deal with my own dogs.

Starting today I am really getting started polishing Violet's utility exercises. I promise... I really mean it this time. She has just gotten so use to being a couch potato that its hard to get her up and moving again.
I also need to do a novice refresher with Chuck and start taking Phlox through all the novice rally signs.

I would like to post weekly training updates on my four but I can't make any promises at this point. I'm going to attempt to film the first one this Sunday so keep your fingers crossed.

On a side note Phlox's brother Dylan was in the news paper the other day. It is an article on dock diving Good looks run in the family :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ignorance is Never Bliss

I have run into so little breed discrimination since bringing home Violet that I some times forget it exists.

We started a new puppy class tonight. Phlox was there like he always is being his usual goofy self.
A family came in with two small children. We love to have children in our puppy classes to help socialize the pups.
We put my son and the two other children in a pen so that the puppies couldn't jump up. By this time I noticed the mom was uncomfortable but I thought she was worried about her children's behavior.
To make the kids happy Phlox and I got in the pen. I have never seen such a look of horror on some ones face. The mom was terrified. I asked if it was ok. She said no. I asked if it was because he was a "pit bull". She said yes.
She quickly took her kids and walked out. Her husband handled the puppy the rest of the class.

It was like some one had come into my home and slapped me across the face while insulting one of my children.  It would be one thing if Phlox were an out of control adult dog who was here for aggression. He's not. He's just a 7 month old puppy who already has his CGC and is training to be a therapy dog.  Well socialized, well behaved and very well trained.
Needless to say we will be addressing breed discrimination next week.

To ad insult to injury they have a black lab puppy.
Here is what a 9 month old black lab puppy did to me a little over two years ago. Just a daycare dog I was walking 100ft to a potty spot.

These pictures don't show all the wounds or how deep they were.
It's a little hard to see but the red spot on my cheek is where I hit when he dragged me to the ground.
 I got very lucky and people responded to my cries for help. It took 4 men to get him off of me. It makes me sick to think what could have happened if there had been no one around.

More Pictures

I came across a few more pictures from this weekend. Most of the pictures were taken by a fellow blogger, Trish. She takes great pictures and competes in rally as well.

I finally found some of Chuck. Here we are waiting for our green ribbon.
I love this picture of Badger. Although I think I've looked better.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What A Weekend

This weekend marks my 2 year anniversary in competitive obedience. It really does feel like only Yesterday I was stepping into the ring for the first time.

This year I competed with my two males Badger, who actually belongs to a client, and my dog Chuck.

Friday was a train wreck. I was out of sorts because of parking and I haven't been to a show all year so I'm out of practice and I think it rubbed off on the dogs. Badger acted like a spooked horse in the ring. I ended up cutting my loses and excusing us before he could realize there was no training allowed in the ring.
Charlie did end up qualifying but shook the entire time. I was very proud of Chuck's stays. There was Open going on in the next ring. Dumb bells and dogs kept flying past but Charlie held his stay. Good Boy!

Saturday was much better. Both Badger and Charlie qualified. They both seemed to be a little more relaxed. It also helped that I was feeling much better.

Sunday was both great and disappointing.
Charlie was feeling much better and did two beautiful heel patterns. When it came time for the recall a large group had gathered right behind me. When the command was given Charlie shot towards me like a rocket. He slid into my left knee and veared to the left. He ended up taking a few steps towards the ring opening. It was enough to NQ us.

Badger had a wonderful run. His heeling was so good that we only lost 3 points. Sadly there was a huge commotion behind him just as I gave the command to "come" and he got distracted. I had to give a second command effectively NQing us.

Next Charlie and I participated in a obedience demonstration geared towards mixed breed dogs. Charlie got into the ring and had a blast. We did some heeling, stays and a recall. Man does he love to come to me!
Afterwards we met some of the spectators and Chuck got plenty of petting and love from everyone. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago Charlie was a horrible out of control dog that was iffy around children, couldn't be trusted off leash and reactive around other dogs.

Now that I'm home I realize how unbelievably sore and tired I am. And even though more than one person came out of the ring vowing they will never compete again I know that despite it all we will all be back next year.

Here are a few pictures of me and Badger. No one was there in time to take pictures of Charlie.
Badger has a very long stride so when the judge calls "fast" I have to run. The leash looks tight but it's not. there was a good foot hanging down.

We were so pleased to see other large breeds showing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Amstaffs Got the Day Off

This Saturday the West Houston Obedience club put on a show and go. Neither of my Amstaffs needed to work on anything so I just took my two fluffy boys.

I didn't manage to get any video of Charlie doing his Rally Excellent run through. So, you will just have to believe me when I say he did a fantastic job! He is still having trouble with the jumps but at least I know what really needs work now.

This was Badger's first time at a show and go. He use to have a bad habit of shutting down when he got stressed in a new environment. He was very stressed Saturday but did everything I asked of him. Such improvement. His actual commands lacked gusto and focus but the fact that he did not shut down was amazing.

Here is the video of his run through.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting Ready for Reliant

The Reliant series of dog shows is coming up at the end of July. This show is special to me because with out it I would have never gotten started in competitive obedience.
This July marks my 3rd year competing. I was hoping to have Violet ready for Utility but we simply have not had enough time to practice. I will however be showing 3 dogs.

Here's the line up
Plakes Sir Charles of Allston(Charlie) - Rally Advance
Violet - Either Open or Rally Advance/Excellent
Badger(Great Pyrenees) - Novice Obedience

There will be a few students there as well as my mother showing her Pug/pit mix in Rally Novice. I'm hoping that all of my students who participate or come to watch will be bitten by the obedience bug.

Here is Badger working on some very distracted heeling a while ago.

Also I got a chance to take a few pictures of Phlox the other day. He is now 6 months old.