Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Trio and I would like to take this opportunity to share what we're thankful for.

I'm thankful for:  Family, Friends, Health, My Job, Dogs

Maggie is thankful for:


(note from human:  not sure this is the best combination.....)

Denzil is thankful for:

Messy eaters

(note from Denzil:  this is the best spot - food rains from the sky!!)


Ziggy is thankful for:
My Chair
(please see my previous product review for more info)


Monday, November 23, 2009

Trio Product Review #1: Pottery Barn Kids Chair

Ziggy wanted me to post a product review for one of his favorite products:

The Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair 

Originally, we bought this chair for The Child (human).  It's kid-sized, and light enough for a kid to haul around.  An armchair all their own.

When Ziggy arrived, he thought it was the "AnyCardi" Chair rather than the Anywhere chair.  Here's his review:

I have loved this chair since I arrived at my new home.  It is perfectly sized for a puppy - a chair of my own!

I laid in chair, and I played in the chair...

I even chewed on the handle of the chair and drug it around (mom didn't like that, though):

What could be better?

Then I started to grow, but my love for the chair did not diminish.  It just became a little more challenging to sleep in the chair.  I'm a Cardigan, though, and we're nothing if not determined.  I just had to find new ways to fit.

This one didn't work so well.

Maggie tried to show me a new one.

I thought that one was too prissy.

I found that the curl method works best.  Look at how comfortable the chair is if you just curl up really tight.

Throwing your head over the side works well, too.

In fact, if you lean on one side of the chair enough, it will start to flatten out to make it easier to sleep in:

The chair is also comfortable when it's knocked over.

The chair can even become part of frapping - just jump up quickly, bark, then jump down.

My brother and sister like the chair, too - but not as much as me.

Cats even like the chair (but I don't consider this a selling point):

Sometimes mom pulls the cover off and washes it.  I don't recommend this, but she just keeps doing it.  I guess if it means we get to keep the chair, then that's ok.

I highly recommend this chair for all Cardigans.  That's the end of my review.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mr. Bouncy: Dog About Town

Ok, so given my choice of title, maybe I have been reading a few too many kids books lately.  But the title does sum up 2 of the key things I've been working on with Ziggy.

Mr. Bouncy
So I've mentioned a few times that Ziggy can be a little hard to motivate.  Thankfully, I've found something that he does like to do.  And, it's something that I can take into the obedience and rally rings with me:  Bouncing!

Both Sylvia Bishop and Celeste Meade are big on the bouncing to keep their dogs "up" in the ring.  My obedience instructor also likes her dogs to bounce between exercises to keep them engaged.  So I decided to give it a go.  The first time I tried bouncing with Ziggy he acted like his owner had gone crazy.  So I trained the bounce.  "Yippee"  means one big bounce, and "Bouncy, Bouncy, Bouncy" means bounce in place -- if he were a horse "Bouncy" would be like a horse rearing just a little bit many times in a row.  I trained these with food (jump up to get the food, click, treat) and with a toy (want this really cool squeaky toy?  you've gotta bounce to get it).

Ziggy now really likes to bounce.  I have him do "Bouncy, Bouncy" when I get home from work.  He's happy to see me, and he gets pets and attention if he bounces.  In a way, I'm doing the opposite of what most people want - I'm training him to bounce if wants attention.  But he loves it, and now "Bouncy" and "Yippee" really do pep him up and make him want to interact with me.  Fun!  A small step, I know, but Fun!

Dog About Town
When I first got Maggie, I was single and living alone.  Maggie went nearly everywhere with me - coffee shops, dinner at friends' houses, even to work many days.  I also trained in many new places - on the weekends we'd go to the park, do a bit of training, then take a hike.  Or we'd go to Home Depot or Petsmart and train.

My life is a little different now.  Husband, Child, more demanding job, trying to get back in shape, etc.  All of this is wonderful, but it makes pre-planned training junkets rather difficult.  So I've titled my new approach the "dog about town" approach.  If I have an errand to run (e.g.:  getting coffee, quick trip to the store) I'm taking Ziggy with me.  It's cool enough now that he can stay in his crate in the car.  All I have to do is grab some string cheese, the dog, and my training bag and do a bit of training when I get to my first stop.

Today's outing was to pick up The Child at daycare.  Ziggy and I spent about 10 minutes playing on the lawn outside the daycare before I went inside.  We did bounces, short bits of heeling, and worked on "close" (getting into heel position at the sit and watching mom) interspersed with cheese, cheers, and chasing a squeaky toy.  Sure, the other parents now think I'm insane, but both Ziggy and I had FUN!  His attention was good, and his attitude was great.  The other benefit is that The Child was very excited that one of the dogs was waiting in the car for him, so all 3 of us were happy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's official!

I know I've posted about it already, but now it's official, so I couldn't resist!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Greetings, Conformation People!

In my blog trolling, I came across a great post on Susan Garrett's agility blog.  There, she has a post from Helen King, an expert in canine structure for performance, share some insights into what  she thinks makes a good, structurally sound agility dog.  I thought it might be of interest to performance and conformation folks alike.  Here's the link:

In my former life as a horse person, I studied a lot about how equine structure related to the horse's ability to move well, perform well, and stay sound.  Since attending a Chris Zink seminar last January, I've been a bit obsessed about structure of performance dogs as well (thanks to Carolyn for helping me learn more about shoulders when I saw her at this year's specialty!). 

I highly recommend attending one of Chris' seminars.  In the seminar I attended, she talked about canine structure as it relates to performance events (especially soundness for agility), helped us evaluate our own dogs (I took Ziggy, and she liked Z's moderate angles and good balance), taught us about conditioning our dogs for performance events, and helped us understand how to use cavaletti as a training tool for better movement and jumping ability.  I think it would be great to have someone like Chris come to one of our national specialties and talk to both performance and conformation folks about corgi structure for performance events.  A girl can dream, can't she....

Saturday, November 7, 2009


It's a fantastic day today here in Iowa.  High 60's, blue sky, light breeze.  Ahhh, if only every day were like this.

I took the dogs for a long walk mid-morning, then we spent some time enjoying the sun in the back yard.  The whole family was out - even the geriatric white cat.  I decided to take some pictures of the dogs.  Then The Child decided he wanted his picture taken with each of the dogs licking him.  Here are some pics....

Denzil & Ziggy managed to score more licks than planned....

Denzil also scored a tummy rub (shameless little flirt that he is):

And finally, a handsome photo of Ziggy.  He's such a "grown up" now...

Well, enough blogging.  Time to go back outside!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chute Teeter

Thanks to my travel schedule (India + 2 more short trips this month), right now I'm not taking any training classes.  Sometimes  I go a bit "adrift" when I'm traveling a lot and not taking classes, but I'm trying to change that.

So what am I doing?  I've decided to concentrate on Ziggy until the next set of classes starts up.  To improve his agility preparedness, I'm working on a few obstacles that are easy to work on in the basement (the frost and short days have come to the Midwest, making it hard to train outside).  The obstacles we're working on:  Chute, Teeter & Tunnels

Ziggy was really not a big fan of the chute in his beginning class.  He never got to the point of doing this obstacle without someone holding the chute open.  And, being a Cardi, he was suspicious of that woman at the end of the chute (just what is she up to?), so went slow, to boot.  In the past, this has been an obstacle I've struggled to train at home, as holding the chute open requires a helper.  I love them dearly, but The Husband and The Child are really not the best training helpers (Husband = disintersted; Child = unreliable and easily distracted).  So what's a girl to do?

I was stumped until I ran across a short article in Clean Run magazine.  The author suggested using a collapsible  yard waste bin to hold the chute open.  Great idea!  And, it involves a trip to Lowes - what could be better?

Unfortunately, Lowes didn't have a collapsible yard waste bin.  So I decided to wander around the store to see if anything else would work.  After much time wandering (I'm easily distracted in Lowes - so many things we could do to the house!), I figured it out - a rope handled utility tote! (found in the storage aisle near the trash cans):

I brought the tote home and cut the bottom out of it using a utility knife w/ a new blade.  I then cut the rim off of half the top so it wouldn't sit up so high.

Finally, I used duct tape of of the cut edges to make sure that the Cardis (or The Child) didn't get snagged/cut/injured on the cut plastic.  Or maybe I did it because I just love duct tape.  You decide.

Here's what it looks like "installed" in the chute.  I'm using the sandbags to keep it from shifting too much (it still does a bit, but not enough to bug the Z), and the small clamp to keep the fabric from shifting.

Here's the "full chute" view:

The tote can be moved with the sandbags (or shifted more into the tail of the chute - towards the entrance) to open the chute up more - giving the Cardi a more clear view of where they're going.

Here's a Cardi-eye view with the chute mostly collapsed:

So how is it working?  REALLY well.  I took Ziggy downstairs and did a few clicks & treats (throwing the treats a bit forward into the chute) when he showed interest in the chute entrance.  After a few times of that, he ran right through!  I clicked when he hit resistance from the top of the chute, and treated when he made his way out.  Ziggy already likes the tunnel, and I think being able to see "daylight" at the end made him more confident.

After a few tries with it open, I slowly moved the tote at the end so that no daylight could be seen, and Ziggy had to push his way through a few feet of chute.  He was happy and smiling and wagging the whole time, so we quit there for the day.  I plan to work on it a bit every day, slowly moving the tote until he can push all the way through.  What fun!

Ziggy and I are continuing the work we were doing in class.  We're working with a lowered teeter (you can see how high it is in the background of the 2nd to last photo - behind the chute - we've worked our way up to this height).  I've adjusted the teeter so that it doesn't pop back into position after the dog is done.  This allows us to run (what fun it is to go fast over the teeter!) back and forth over the teeter.  We're working on this so that Ziggy gets used to the banging and the dropping motion of the teeter, all while continuing to move on the teeter (instead of stopping at the middle & riding it down).  Z has always gotten clicks & treats on the teeter, so he thinks this is really cool.

Maggie had a slow teeter performance.  She was VERY consistent and seemed to enjoy it, but she stopped shortly after the pivot point to let the teeter go to the ground before she'd move again.  This is my fault (I trained her this way) not hers.  I didn't want to make the same mistake with Ziggy, and lose precious time on obstacles, so I'm trying a different method this time.

If I ever get more of the basement cleaned out, I'll start working on jump grids again.  I'll let you know when I get that done....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fun pet article

This month's issue of Fast Company (a business + innovation magazine that I enjoy reading every month) had a fun graphic and article on some recent pet care innovations.

Here's a link if you'd like to read it:

Make sure to click on the Infographic link (embedded at the top of the online article), too.  It will show a bigger version of this graphic (published with the article in the November 2009 issue of Fast Company).

Of particular interest to me is Pet Airways.  An airline that only transports pets.  They've got a great website:  It seems like the ideal way to ship a dog that won't fit under the seat on a normal airline (e.g.:  adult Cardigans).  And it's not that much more expensive than the freight charges I read about.  Now I wish they'd do a Chicago to Portland or Seattle leg....

I also thought the pet GPS sounds good.  Particularly when traveling with the dogs.  You just never know....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back Home!

I'm back from India.  All my flights were on time (a small miracle), but my luggage somehow didn't make it on the last leg of the journey (typical).  I took it through customs in Chicago, but it didn't make the same flight as me.  The airline delivered it at midnight (thanks to The Husband for staying up to sign for it - I went to bed at 8pm...)

The theme of yesterday:  removing the smell of India from my clothes and luggage.  What is the smell of India, you may wonder?  I can only describe it as spicy, burning trash.  Nice.  Yesterday all my clothes went into the wash or to the dry cleaners.  My luggage got to spend the day & night outside.

One upside to all the travel...  I read 4 books!  I love to read, but rarely have time to do it.  One book I recommend that every American reads:

The Healing of America by TR Reid.  It really sheds some light onto the facts around healthcare, and disputes many of the myths that are repeated by politicians on both sides of the aisle about what healthcare is like in other countries.  It's very well written, too, which makes it a pleasure to read.

I also spent some time thinking about what's next for the Trio.  I need to put some training plans in place to get me through the next year.  But that's another post....
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