Well, I had some fun this weekend! Many of you I've spoken with are aware I really take no interest in show. While I appreciate a good quality dog from healthy lines I'm just not competitive by nature. I also don't like the politics involved in showing. AKC was really the only avenue of show I was aware of. Hiring a professional handler is customary so to show as owner handler the odds of winning are difficult at best. Often dogs travel around the country with handlers and that's another aspect of show I wasn't able to appreciate. My dogs are my dogs and I want them home with me. But... in talking with friends as well as a couple of my pup pals (owners of my pups) I've come to realize AKC isn't the only animal out there. IABCA is another- described as much more fun, low key and lacking the politics. Rarely are professional handlers ever enlisted. It's just you and your dog. Judges are both AKC and international and all recognized breeds are welcome. A fun time they said. And a good way to spend some quality time with your dogs. Sounded like it was right up my alley. I'm happy to announce that which I was told was told in truth. Ritz and I participated in two long days of showing and came home with her International Championship. I received 2nd place in three of five shows and the highest ranking score afforded in their shows four of five times. Oddly enough that was enough as they judge each dog individually and then comparatively. The championship is awarded based on score which is based on standard for the breed. Then best of breed male and female are chosen from each show. Winners of those classes show in Group according to type and finally Best In Show is awarded. Turns out I won big all the way around. A Majestic x Serious pup, Petra- now two years old, was the dog who consitently beat me! She won best female three of four shows. I found it hard to feel bad about not taking best female under those circumstances. In fact I was quite proud to see her win! I also had a chance to see Echo as Pauline came out to watch our debut. Pauline is actually one of the first people who mentioned IBACA to me. Thanks Pauline- I had a good time. And thanks Julie and Jake for the video if you happen to see it here. I must work to reverse our obedience work of "sit on a stop" and aim for "stand for exam" before the next show!
Time flies! But I've held true to my commitment and resolution to keep up with my blog. So far for the year the bulk of my blogging began in February with Getka expecting her first litter. As we prepared I devoted much time, energy and attention to her and then the pups. Their progress, as usual, has been logged under the "current litter" tab which will soon join the ranks of past litters. With crops scheduled next week my Valentine Litter will soon be joining their new families. Having had a chance to finally meet their people following, in most cases, several conversations via phone I'm left with good feelings and once again prepared to release my babes. I know in my heart of hearts each is headed to a caring and loving home to be cared for by some top notch people. My lifelong work it seems, working with the public in various settings, has provided me with the ability to be a good judge of character. Rarely, am I caught by surprise.
A recap of events unrelated to pups though has come to catch me by surprise. Unfortunately harmony within my own pack, for unknown reasons, has suffered. I assume it's age related and to a degree hormonal with heat cycles fluctuating. But the girls... well, they've had some issues. And those issues have escalated in severity with each occurrence. I've done quite a bit of research on the subject which led me to many posts and articles related to same sex aggression within the breed. I've always been aware that unaltered males of pretty much any breed are likely to be problematic but wasn't aware until I was forced to deal with it first hand that the problem is also prevalent among a pack or even two unaltered females. Things go swimmingly for a while... until they don't. As a result I'm in a position of having to rethink my home life and kennel set ups.
Within the house I've always made use of kid gates with pups and to a degree for separation of the pack to avoid excessive rambunctiousness and use of crates. As the gates have aged I decided rather than replace I'd like to add something that looks like it was done by design and more permanent in nature. A week or two back, after viewing a slew of examples on Pinterest I purchased the materials needed to build and install some half doors or Dutch doors. Their creation remains on my "soon to do" list.
As far as my kennels are concerned, for the most part they've been reserved for times I had to be away from home for work and for some rotational management allowing groups of dogs to run the property freely keeping others safe and secure within the runs. Originally this was done to prevent the chaos that comes with a large group of dogs running full speed together. My greatest fear being that they'd run or get bumped head first at full speed into a tree or some other non moveable object. Now unfortunately, it's to avoid fights that can pop up out of nowhere. Each of my kennels or runs are large and easily able to accommodate a few dogs with communal type housing for protection from the elements. Now though, I'm in need of smaller runs and individual quarters for each. Housing has been the issue. I've been trying to find time to build some dog houses for the purpose of separation in the event I had to leave home for an extended time during any given day. I've got and have had for some time now the supplies needed... just needed the time to build which, based on my standards of building, is considerable. A recent quarrel however had me looking on craigslist and marketplace for some "ready now" houses. It's time to take the bull by the horns so to speak, before something tragic happens. I'll perfect things at a later date. For now, we'll have smaller individual runs designed for safety and craigslist houses designed for the purpose of shelter from an unanticipated storm. It seems nothing comes easy though... First I had to fight with Tractor Supply to convince them to sell me an overpriced gate panel. The panels are advertised as available by individual piece rather than part of a set. They had some in stock but I was told they were only available as part of a full kennel package. Interestingly enough though, they also had individual panels without gates advertised but those too were unavailable as individual pieces. I successfully convinced them that by having both panels within a set available but unwilling to sell separately they were advertising falsely and finally they were able to see my point of view. With that behind me, I ventured off to go claim my win and transport it home in a short-box mid size pickup. A bit precarious to say the least. But I got it done. Then yesterday a trip to Jacksonville took me to retrieve my craigslist find pictured above. Today, between bands of weather and pup care I worked on separating the large runs into individual spaces. Tomorrow the houses, which remain loaded in the back of my truck will be placed appropriately within their runs. Then it's on to deciding which dogs will be best suited to the available runs. The boys will remain in the largest spaces and share those spaces with alternating girls depending to a large degree on heat cycles. Next up... the process of training each dog to use their newly acquired houses will begin. Wish me luck on that one. I'm anticipating having to enter them myself but I remain hopeful treats will do the trick and I'll be spared being cramped in a dog house sized for a Doberman with a Doberman.
Next on the agenda is some scheduled fun. I hope! I've signed up to enter my very first dog show with Ritz next weekend. I've always had somewhat of an aversion to shows as I'm not and never have been competitive by nature. I also don't care much for politics which AKC shows are known to be thick with. But recently another avenue of showing has been brought to my attention. Much more low key, non-political and rather than competing solely against other dogs, your dog is judged according to the standard for the breed. And rarely rather than being the norm as it is in AKC shows, are professional handlers enlisted. In any event, I'm looking forward to the experience and to seeing some friends with their dogs. One of my pups from a litter a couple years back will be attending as well. Kind of odd to think I'll be competing against one of my own but on the other hand if either of us win it will be a win for me! I'll also get a chance to see KatieScarlett's owner as she tries her hand at owner handler ringside with her boy Andre. He's already got his AKC Champion but to date has always been shown by a handler. None of us have much first hand knowledge in the show ring and I have none. Sharon has knowledge of the AKC rules and regulations and has quite a bit of experience competing in Rally but this show is an entirely different animal. Should be interesting.
Other news on the home-front will likely bring a smile to a few faces... Jess, right on schedule, is showing a baby bump. More on that later.