Thursday, February 28, 2013

Our harness labels have arrived!!

Hooray! I've been watching my order from, wondering with bated breath if our new tags for Secret's Julius K-9 Harness would arrive before our trial this weekend. They came in the mail tonight! My work day has been so crazy that I'd almost forgot about it until I saw the nondescript envelope in my mailbox when I got home.

Seriously, do you know how much angst goes into coming up with these things? lol Okay, maybe it's just me... You have to pick the COLOR in addition to what you want it to say. Oh the choices, the choices.

I went with purple glitter. I didn't know if pink glitter on the pink harness would have been overkill. Let's face it, any color glitter lettering is going to rock. And since purple and pink are kind of tied for favorite colors in my world, I figured I'd have Secret's harness rock both colors.

Secret's name was the obvious choice for one side (because I'm so not original and figured that would just be easy). Coming up with what to put on her tag for the other side was a bit harder. Knowing me, I'll probably end up deciding I don't like this one and ordering different ones -- but for now, I figured Sassypants fit Secret well, especially at trials where she's barking at me the whole time...

We all know that I'd love to get a label that says, "bitch" because that would be MOST fitting for Secret, but seeing as the intention is for her to wear her harness at trials I didn't know if that was the best impression to be making on judge.  :o)  Maybe "I Q a Lot" would be better? hahahaha

We don't need to Q a lot this weekend. Just once and we'll be good. Secret and Luke both have three shots to get the one Chances Q they both need, so hopefully we can knock that out of the way for each of them this weekend!

Neither are running in much else; both have just six runs total for three days thanks to me trying to save money towards running them in USDAA instead of NADAC. In addition to their Chances runs all three days, Luke & Secret are both entered in Jumpers on Saturday & Sunday and one round of Regular each on Saturday. I think Luke got round 1 and Secret got round 2.... Secret has so many stinking Jumpers Q's that I wanted to cut her back there, but I have a hard time keeping her out of the one class she enjoys the most. And since we don't really have the ability to create positive training experiences right now, we may as well try to achieve that at trials.

The little fart gets to run five runs a day on the weekend and twice on Friday. Poor Kaiser doesn't get to run USDAA, so this is his weekend to have fun! No big titles on the line for the little guy, but hopefully we can knock out a few games towards his V-NATCH.

Monday, February 25, 2013

ToughHound All Sports Collar Review

Several weeks ago I was contacted and asked to review a new product from the dog bark collar store. The product in question is the ToughHound All Sports collar. This collar "is a personalized collar that lets you display your dog's name and address. The collar is made from highly-durable polycoated webbing which will allow you many years of rough and tumble play with your pup. The ToughHound's non-porous surface dries quickly, will never absorb offensive odors and makes mud easily removable. The collar also features an integrated stainless steel laser-engraved nameplate which won't jingle or fall from its ring."

Anyone who knows me knows how much I HATE jingling tags on collars! I cannot stand it and my dogs have not had tags on their collars for, well, years. Honestly, when it comes down to it, my dogs don't wear collars all that often, which is what took so long for me to write up this review. I figured I should at least wait for a few opportunities for Secret to wear the collar before I reviewed it.

I find many things about this collar highly appealing. The colors available are bright & fun, which also makes them highly visible. I'm always a fan of anything that is waterproof -- While it's a bit too cold to consider testing the water resistance of this collar, I imagine it will become Secret's go-to swimming collar this summer. I hate how the nylon collars retain odors and that is certainly one perk of this collar!

There are numerous font choices to choose from, so you can have fun personalizing your own collars! I settled on "Arial Round" for Secret's collar. Each tag can hold up to four lines of text with 14 characters each. I opted to limit Secret's to three lines so that the text would be more visible. Working at the shelter, the only thing worse than having no tag at all is a tag that is completely unreadable. The engraving appears to be very good quality and these tags should remain readable for a good long time.

The ring for clipping on your leash is good-sized, which is always helpful. Secret has a couple of collars with small, flimsy rings and it's very hard to clip on the leash one-handed. This one is nice and hefty and even with the spare end of the collar tucked through it there is ample room to easily clip on the leash. I didn't feel like I had to fish around for the ring like I do on some collars.

The metal plate is rather thin, which I'm not so sure I'm in love with. When the collar is being used with a leash, the name plate ends up on the bottom of the dog's throat. If you have a dog that pulls on the leash I could see this fairly thin metal plate digging into their neck. Maybe it would be an aversion to pulling; who knows, but I'm not a huge fan of this aspect of the collar. Kaiser and Luke both have Boomerang tags that operate under the same principle (no jingling), but those tags are attached to an actual collar so that the tags themselves aren't pressing against the skin.

I showed the collar to several people at a couple of trials we attended and they seemed to have the same thought regarding the design. Most people said they preferred to have the collar material against the dog instead of the metal tag.

I thought the sizing was a little peculiar. I was instructed to measure one of Secret's current collars to get the correct size (measuring from the buckle to the tab). I admit that I didn't measure her again. I was pretty certain that I used 14" as the measurement for her custom sparkly collar a while back ago (the beads came unattached on that, did I ever mention?), so that was the measurement I used.

The picture above is the collar on the smallest setting. For some reason they punched that many holes into the collar to make it adjust that small, but there is very little room for error on the larger end. The holes are also spaced quite far apart, so there isn't much room for fine-tuning. As a result, the collar is either too snug on Secret or slightly bigger than I would prefer (on the largest hole).

None of these things would necessarily prevent me from using the collar. I'm terrible about having identification on my dogs, so I can very much see myself using this as a traveling collar for Secret. As I stated earlier, I think I will definitely use it as our swimming collar for when we visit the river. I likely will not choose to use it as a "walking around the neighborhood" collar for the reasons I stated above regarding thickness and digging into the dog's throat. I'll be the first to admit that I fail at teaching my dogs to walk well on leash -- Secret is fine at trials, potty stops on the road and other every-day sorts of things, but she does get excited and pull for the first half of our leash walks around town (granted, we don't do them often...).

Secret's collar is the 3/4" thickness. I would be curious to see the 5/8" collar, but I still think that this collar and the material would be a little overwhelming on a smaller dog like Kaiser. I think it would be a great collar for Luke in the 1" size, and I wouldn't worry so much about the plate digging into him because he has so much hair around his neck.

After going to the link I included above and not being able to find the actual collar by navigating the web site, I figured I could include the direct link for you here:  The collars retail for $29.95. Boomerang tags cost around $11 and you have to provide the collar, so I would say they are pretty comparable in that regard.

If you also hate jingling tags and would benefit from an easy-to-clean collar, don't hesitate to check out the ToughHound collar.

As a disclaimer, for providing this review I did receive a ToughHound All Sports Collar of my choosing. I was not required to give a positive review and all comments and opinions stated above are my own.

Monday, February 18, 2013


We did it! Secret got her last P2 Standard leg this weekend to earn her APD title so that we can move up to P3 for all classes now. I had hoped that we would get that last leg on Saturday, allowing us to move to the Masters ring for Sunday to avoid conflicts, but Secret decided she wanted to stay in her own ring, I guess.  ;o)

In addition to our snazzy new title bling, we also brought home a new harness this weekend! I've been wanting a Julius K-9 harness for Secret for some time now. Yes, I realize that EVERYONE has one and this does not make us special in the least, but I'm in love with the interchangeable patches and just had to have one. I love Kaiser's ComfortFlex Sport harness, but it doesn't have name patches. lol

I'd shopped around a bit online, but I wasn't entirely sure what size Secret would be. I guessed 0, but wanted to be able to try one on. I saw that Best for Pets was going to be vending at the trial this weekend and I was hoping they'd have a pink harness in our size. The last time we saw them was right after they'd vended at Border Collie Nationals and they were all out. This time we scored! I ran over to the booth before our first run, grabbed the only pink size 0 on the rack and asked Jason to hold it for us. It fit perfectly, so I bought it after that first run and we got to wear it the rest of the weekend! Secret did well with it -- it goes on and off very easily and she didn't have any aversion to it going over her head like she did with the collar/leash combos.

Secret's brother, Blizzard, was at the trial this weekend! Although I've kept up with him online, we haven't seen him since our little family reunion the summer after we adopted the puppies. This was the first time I've been able to see Blizzard run in person, so that was pretty awesome. He almost has his MACH already, but this was his first USDAA trial. I see a lot of similarities in the two dogs, that's for sure. If anything, he's not nearly as quirky as Secret.  ;o)  Blizzard is running Champion 26", though, so we won't be having any sibling teams any time soon.

Secret was up first with her P2 Gamblers run. Honestly I thought we had this one in the bag because sheesh, it's weaves that are 12' away. Yeah... Well, it was her first run in a horse arena in 12 months. The temptation of poop overpowered all and she stopped about four poles in to sample a morsel on the ground. So much for that.

Our opening was jump (right), a-frame, a-frame, jump, teeter, tire, jump, jump, dog walk, tunnel -- That's when the buzzer sounded and unfortunately Secret went right up the dog walk again instead of coming back to me. I couldn't get her to stop and she just kept going... Until she hit the halfway point in the middle and bailed off the side. Eek. Sorry, Secret. So by then we'd wasted a ton of time... And then the poop thing happened. Well, I guess we aren't guaranteed a move-up in Gamblers (she was one Q shy of that title).

Luke's Gamblers run was up next. I wasn't so sure about this one for him. I wasn't worried about him doing the teeter at a distance, but that backside was going to be very difficult, especially since he has a tendency to turn towards me on the contacts.

I was right. Totally didn't even come close to getting number two, or any of the other jumps in the sequence for that matter.  ;o)

His opening was jump (left), jump, a-frame, weaves, dog walk, jump, a-frame, weaves, then the buzzer went off when we were on the teeter wasting time. Oh well, good try, Luke.

Next up was Secret's P2 Standard run. I was really, really hoping for a Q in this run so that we could move to the Masters ring on Sunday. It would open up more opportunity for me to work ($$) and let me completely avoid conflicts since we didn't enter any Tournament classes this weekend.

Well, unfortunately it was not meant to be. Secret had a really lovely run; right up to the weaves, where she skipped a pole in the exact spot she had stopped to eat poop in the previous class. In Advanced you have two big opportunities for faults -- refusals on contacts and popping out of the weaves. You can blow the entry, but after that you are out of luck. Darn it. Oh well, stuck in the Starters/Advanced ring for another day, I guess.

Luke's Veteran Standard run was up next. What else can I say but that he freaking rocks?! That jump sequence after the weaves was tricky and getting a lot of dogs, but the big old moose sailed right through it. I pushed to the backside of five, rear-crossed to six, pulled in to 7 and then phew, breathed a sigh of relief. I praised him profusely when we got to the table.

We had a close call going from 17 to 18 when he nearly took the tire, but he had a great call-off and came back for the tunnel. Luke did a great job -- I'm having so much fun running him on these courses! And thankfully, I think he's having fun, too.  :o)

Next up was Secret's very first P3 Snooker run! I worked for quite a while in the morning to come up with a plan that would work for her. I knew doing a ton of 7's would not be the best plan for us considering the amount of yardage involved in the FOUR jump sequence. I did end up going for four reds, though, with a 1-7, 1-6, 1-4, 1-3 plan.

I knew that we had to get through five in the close to Q. Secret was DRAGGING on this run. We were plagued with issues all weekend that held up our runs. Timers weren't working. Equipment changes. Other various issues... Secret doesn't do well being held at the start line, that's for sure....

At any rate, the video for this run was almost painful to watch. I guess I didn't even realize how much she was trotting through this course. Sigh. Oh well, it is what it is. We almost had an off course, but in the end we made it through six in the close (the judge gifted us with that one as she was barely taking off for 6b when the buzzer sounded). It was good enough to earn us 2nd place in the P22" class, but we were one dog shy of having our own SQs, so we were combined with the 16" class and they got the 2nd one.

Jumpers was our last run of the day. After getting up at 4 a.m., my brain just wasn't in this run -- and apparently Secret was kind of done as well. We managed to stay clean up until I totally dropped her on a blind cross out of the number 12 tunnel. Then my brain shut off and also forgot to direct her after the number 14 jump. Maybe I need to just stop entering the last class of the day on these early starts... It wasn't horribly late; probably around 6:00, but it had been a long day.

Thankfully we redeemed ourselves the next morning when we got to START our day with Jumpers. I felt this was a very fun and motivating course for Secret. Despite having barely slept at all the night before (Ms. Prissypants did not like the sleeping arrangements -- the one queen bed was far too full for her liking and she kept jumping on and off all night), Secret was pretty up for this run and was running happy. I also abandoned the idea of a lead-out at the beginning, as I didn't think it was doing us any favors. The only thing I'm really disappointed about is that I totally chickened out on the blind crosses this weekend. Sissy handler.

Secret won the P22" class! She was a full two seconds faster than the second place dog, even! I was thrilled about this, until I was brought back to reality by watching the Masters dogs that were all coming in about four seconds faster than Secret's time. Sigh. Maybe one day I will just accept that she will never be THAT fast. That said, I was still thrilled with Secret's run and elated that she was happy to run again.

I knew that a Super Q was likely not in our cards for Sunday, but I was pretty confident in our ability to pull off another Q at least. This was a course designed to reward fast dogs with good weaves -- aaaaaaand we know that's not Secret. There is no way I could have attempted three 7's on this course and still had a dog willing to work with me.

I opted for the next best thing and kept a happy dog throughout the course. We did 1-7, 1-6, 1-6 and got all the way through the close. Secret likes a-frames, so I was very happy with this plan when I came up with it. I don't believe I saw anyone else execute my plan (well, mostly because almost everyone went for the 7's). That happened a lot this weekend, though... I apparently march to the beat of a different drummer in my Gamblers & Snooker plans, but they work for us so I have to try not to let that sway me!

My Snooker plan was good enough to earn us 1st place in the P22" class! Unfortunately 3 of the 16" dogs got all 7's, so both of the SQ's went to that class. Have I mentioned how fun it is that we are probably almost always going to be combined with the 16" dogs....?

The rings were much more off-balance on Sunday, so Luke continued to sit in his crate while Secret moved on to her P2 Standard run (after a considerable break, as they ran Steeplechase first).

I didn't think this course was quite the "slam dunk" that the previous day's had been, but I certainly thought it was doable. My only "worry" spots were what to do at the chute (I forced a front cross after the teeter) and getting the right end of the tunnel after the weaves (again, did another front cross). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about popping the weaves again, though! Thankfully it was a non-issue and we didn't have a problem.

Secret did have a space cadet moment at the start for some reason. Could be because our friend, Rich, was sitting in the other ring videoing our run as he worked the class and Secret LOVES Rich for some reason. Like groveling and almost peeing on herself loves him... I lost her as she looked around before 3 and then she spaced out at the tire. We were fine after that, thankfully, and still managed to come in about 8 seconds under time. I'm thrilled that we didn't have ANY "zombie moments" after the teeter this weekend! Secret's been having issues with spacing out for a few seconds after each teeter at recent trials, but I didn't see her turning around or worrying at all. Hopefully that is behind us.

At any rate, she made it through the course without any bobbles for a Q/1st, which finishes her P2 Standard title and makes her an Advanced Performance Dog! Hooray! On to P3 for everything!

After a very long wait, Luke finally got to run! His Veteran Standard run was up first. I thought this course was a bit friendlier than the one on Saturday, at least for the big guy. The only area in this course where I kind of held my breath was from five to six. I didn't know if he'd be able to get that angle, but he came in and sliced it nicely.

Luke's been doing a great job on the USDAA a-frames and fitting in a front cross after 7 helped me fit in a blind cross after the tunnel so that I wouldn't have to flip him over 9. After that it was pretty smooth sailing. The big guy got his second Standard Q! And I *finally* got one of his runs on video!!

I might be biased, but I think he is doing an absolutely remarkable job for a dog who has never done anything but NADAC.  :o)  I give the big guy a lot of credit for jumping right into these Masters courses!

Secret's final run, P2 Gamblers, was up next. I honestly considered scratching Secret from this run because she didn't need the Q and I really felt like she was done for the day/weekend. I wish I would have listened to my gut because I was right. She wasn't into this run at all. She did a good job, but it was pretty lackluster.

We went jump (center), teeter, jump, jump, a-frame, a-frame, jump, jump, chute, jump, tire and then the buzzer went off. I elected to approach the gamble from the bottom, thinking that a switch would help send Secret out a bit better. Well, maybe, if she had any impulsion or if I wasn't stuck at the line. She paused in front of the tunnel, barked at me while I gestured towards the tunnel and then took the dog walk.

Yup, should have scratched, but I was being greedy and wanted to finish her P2 Gamblers title. Oh well.

Last run of the day! Luke did awesome. He was the first dog to run (being the only Veteran entered in this one) and showed everyone how it's done.

Luke's plan was chute, jump, weaves (although he decided he needed another jump before the weaves...), a-frame, a-frame, weaves, jump, and then the buzzer sounded when he was on the teeter. I saw Luke head-check me before each tunnel but he was a good boy and kept going. Yay for our second Veteran Gamblers Q!

Some day I need to decide if I want to go for the Veteran Versatility title with the big guy. I might try him in Jumpers one of these days, but I just don't think he would enjoy Snooker. We'll see. We've only done two USDAA trials so far and I'll give him a bit more time to get used to things.

If you have made it this far, kudos to you! I'm happy to report that I finally got video from a USDAA trial!! Somehow I didn't get either Gamblers run videoed, but seeing as they were both pretty crappy I'm not too concerned about that.

I did find myself wishing that I'd put Sunday's runs first since they were so much better, but if you wish to see them you'll have to suffer through Saturday.  ;o)

Up next is a NADAC trial in La Crosse the first weekend in March. There is also a USDAA trial at Think Pawsitive that weekend and I was very conflicted... We've still got a NATCH on the line (for both Secret & Luke), though, so I decided to stay in town and try to get that done. We'll shoot for doing one day of USDAA up in the Cities later in the month.

Today I ordered patches for Secret's new harness. No worries, I'll be sure to update when they arrive!

Oh -- and just for the Google search engines -- Our judges this weekend were Sandra Katzen (Masters) and Kirstie Dean (Starters/Advanced). I always Google to look for course maps before each trial, so if anyone is looking for course maps for either of these judges, have at 'em. I thought all of the courses were fun this weekend! Steeplechase had double weaves both days (ugh), but Grand Prix looked like fun. Maybe one of these days I'll actually enter Secret in that again...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Alternate Universe?

I'm not sure what to think here. Tonight Secret chose a tug toy over food...


With some warmer temps the last few days, that foot+ of snow we got started to melt. Unfortunately everything refroze today and the whole yard is a mixture of frozen slush and puddles that break when you step on them.

That means one thing -- basement!

I went downstairs with a pouch of food, planning to play with everyone on the Theraball before dinner. I figured a little core work never hurt anyone going into a trial weekend.

Imagine my surprise when I'm sitting there working Kaiser & Luke on the ball with food and Secret is going to town on a little furry tug (one of the multitude I purchased when attempting to build her toy drive as a puppy). Um, what? I expected to be shoving her out of the way during their turns.

When it was her turn I called her over and she brought the toy. She jumped up on the ball, took a piece of food and then grabbed her toy back. She slid off the ball and started tugging while I had food in my hand! I was a little surprised, to say the least.

This went on for some time and she would go back to chewing on her toy while the boys took another turn. Secret worked for her tug on the ball and even got into a pretty hardcore game of tuggy while on the peanut -- talk about core exercise, right?

She took food when offered, but continued to go back to the toy every time. Crazy. Who'd have thought the day would ever come when the toy would completely and totally trump the food?

I'm really looking forward to our trial this weekend! It should be loads of fun with two dogs who haven't done much of anything all week. Secret is finally going to the chiropractor on Wednesday, too. She is long overdue, so hopefully that keeps her happy & comfy all weekend long.

In other news, look what I made this weekend!  :o)  They are magically delicious. You, too, can dine on delectable unicorn poop if you feel like stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork. The recipe and instructions can be found at this web site.  They were a big hit at work today, which was the point of making them. They just taste like your basic sugar cookie, but they are super-duper pretty when you bite into them! And sparkly. We can't forget the sparkly.

My parents came over yesterday afternoon so that my mom could help slap these babies together. The dogs enjoyed their visit. Maybe a bit too much. Secret is weird....

Monday, February 4, 2013

Furry little nursemaids

I got hit with the flu on Saturday. Just when I thought it had passed (last night), it hit me again this morning. I have to say, the dogs have been wonderful -- Happy to lay around, not terribly demanding and super, duper cuddley. This morning I didn't even get out of bed until 11:00 (after getting up to feed the dogs and call into work at 6 a.m.). Secret may be thinking I'm a giant loser who needs to go outside and play in the above photo, but she hid her feelings well and stuck by my side (after taking herself out mid-morning, running laps in the snow and then bringing it all back to bed with her).

Even Kaiser has come forward for cuddle time, which kind of makes me wonder if I'm dieing... Today he positioned himself on my lap and must have stayed there for a good 15-20 minutes. They seem genuinely concerned when I have a retching fit -- probably because they worry about who would feed them if I fall over dead.

How miserable would it be to be home sick without my furry nursemaids?

We got lucky on the weather front. Well, I suppose it depends on how you define "luck." Last I wrote we were living on a block of ice with snow on the horizon. Snow came; believe me, snow came. It came in amounts large enough that it no longer matters that there is ice beneath it! Our forecasted 3-6" snowfall turned into more like 10-12" and then we've had what the weatherpersons like to call "clippers" the last few nights that have added probably another 3-4" by now. So yes, we have a LOT of snow. The dogs think it's grand.

The giant pile has once again appeared below the deck (the results of shoveling it clear) and that's the BEST THING EVER in Secret's head. She loves to play in that pile. Luke loves to eat it. Kaiser thinks it all kind of sucks, but at least now we've played enough in the yard that he can maneuver through the trampled snow. It was kind of deep for him!

For once I was thankful that we didn't have a trial this past weekend. At this point I'm even kind of glad we don't have one this coming weekend. But the week after that we'll totally be ready.  :o)