08 July 2015

New Homes.

Obviously I am not really blogging anymore, and I'm enjoying having some private offline time, since much of my agility life is lived fairly publicly via the interwebs. But today I have something to say.

There is a stigma in the dog agility world. It falls on those competitors who choose, for one reason or another (or multiple reasons), to give their dog a new home. 

In some dog sports, buying and selling dogs all the way through adulthood and even into senior years is normal. In agility, the accepted view is that when a competitor purchases (or rescues) a puppy, they are obligated to love and keep that dog for its entire life, no matter what, or they are a bad person who "goes through dogs" looking for the perfect winner. 

But lets talk about the dogs. Dogs are individuals. They have individual personalities. They have likes, and wants, and loves, and quirks, and good habits and bad habits just like people. Sure, as trainers, we can train and mold them to behave as we like, in a general sense. But they will always remain individuals. 

A silly dog will be silly a lot of the time (unless you don't allow him to be). A serious dog will take his work seriously. A dog who is in a rush will move quickly and have trouble slowing down and maybe forget to think first. A dog who likes to stare at motion will always want to watch other dogs when they run. Sure, you can counter some of these things with training, but my point is: individual dogs are different. This means that as a handler and trainer who has many dogs over many years, you will encounter some dogs that you get along with OK, and maybe do well with, and you happily keep them by your side and feel no regrets.

And you will, rarely, have those amazing heart dogs who you can't believe you ever lived without, and wish you never would have to do so again. 

And the converse is also true. Sometimes you will get a dog, and that dog may have all the talent in the world, but on some level you just don't get along. Maybe the dog is too pushy, or not pushy enough. Maybe the dog barks at just the wrong time every morning, or stares at your other dog in a way that makes both you and the other dog uncomfortable. Maybe you can't even pinpoint exactly what it is about your dog or the bond between you two that went wrong, but for some reason there is more aggravation on either side than ease. 

And in this case, I think it's perfectly fine to give the dog a new home. Maybe the dog is over a year old, maybe he has some training, maybe he is already competing. Or maybe he is half-grown but you can already see you are lacking some spark. If a home comes along that seems just perfect, and the dog will be happy, there is nothing wrong with sending him along to give it a shot. This dog could be THAT person's amazing heart dog who she hopes to never be without. And while I hope that even a dog who ISN'T your favorite would have a good home with any agility competitor, he will have a BETTER home with someone who appreciates and loves his quirks and habits and tendencies and forgives him his faults and loves him for who he is.

I have recently made this decision with my young dog. He is a talented, athletic, teenager of a dog with super star potential. And I just don't get along with him as well as I should. Is it because I currently have Strafe in my life? Probably, at least in part. He shares a mother with Strafe but other than size and color they couldn't be more different. Their learning styles, the way they just hang out in the house, their reactions to new things; they are just very different dogs. There is nothing wrong with Ven but I find that more often than not, I have little to no motivation to go out and actually train him. And many times his individual little personality quirks irrationally irk me. I don't have a great explanation for that other than "we aren't a great match". So I am allowing him to move on, hopefully to a home that will love him for who he is, and work with him every day, and squeeze him and snuggle him and shower him with the individual attention he deserves. I hope that she does well with him in agility but even if she doesn't, it doesn't really matter, because I hope that the DOG will be happy, and he doesn't care about ribbons and titles at all.

And then I will wait a few years before trying again. I hope that having an amazing heart dog in my life will not ruin me forever... I don't think it will but I have learned that for now I should just sit back and enjoy my time with Strafe while it lasts, and not rush into another dog. I may wait and then not get another border collie. I may get a puppy from Strafe. I may not. I am not sure, but "waiting" is definitely the right choice for now.

06 September 2014

Still here (just for a couple more hours)

Strafe and I are leaving for Luxembourg in just a few short hours. Very excited to compete at our first (and hopefully not last) FCI AWC together! We are flying into Brussels directly, then several team members/management are renting a van together and driving the couple short hours down to our hotel in Luxembourg.

This trip felt way TOO easy to pack for compared to the 2.5 weeks I was gone in July/August. I keep being sure I've forgotten so many things, but no, everything is there. Uniform, dog food, bowl, crate, mats, etc. All packed and ready!

I will try to post brief updates on Facebook but of course I'm leaving the computer at home. Wish us luck!

My friend pointed out that this looks like a strange "Doo-wop" dance. She's not wrong.

12 August 2014

Post trip blog

Sorry the blog just hasn't been very up to date lately. I've been posting mostly on Facebook, little snippets and tons of photos from the trip (and I'm not even done posting yet!)

Videos from BCC are online at my youtube account, and my EO videos are posted individually here you might have to scroll down to find them.

The trip to Europe this summer was long and fun. First we flew into Munich, spent a night in Salzburg because I've learned that driving too far after a long overnight flight is a super bad idea. Salzburg was pretty but we only spent a couple hours walking around with the dogs to see what we could see without going inside anywhere.

After that we got to the event hotel, where we stayed for 6 nights leading into EO and during it. It was a cute little hotel that also served as a spa with several pools and a weird little rennaisance faire attraction and sports club/hall as well.

Puchner Castle hotel in Hungary, our "home" during EO:

The EO itself was a great event. Very competitive, really fun courses; I felt the judges did a great job of balancing speed with challenges! It was really exciting to make the Final for the 2nd year in a row and run clean, although the final course was just a bit too fast and furious for us and we placed 8th. I was still really thrilled with our run. I guess we just have to figure out how to go faster next year!

After EO me and a couple of friends drove into Budapest to sight see for a few days. Before this trip I didn't know very much about Budapest. It was really a beautiful city! Here's just a few representative pics; I haven't actually finished processing all of the pictures I took yet!

After sight seeing a few days we were off to Slovakia, for the Border Collie Classic!

Again, Strafe and I put in a strong performance, making the Final and running clean, once again not quite speedy enough for the podium but again with a really nice run that made me happy at the end of it. I feel like we are ready for AWC right now, we are running the really tough courses clean more often than not, and always fast enough to be "in the mix" even if we aren't *quite* winning them.

After BCC was over, we drove back across to Munich and flew home, just a week ago. And then this past weekend we were up at AKC World Team Practice in Connecticut! What a great team we have this year, everyone gets along SO WELL and we have so many competitive dogs and great handlers on the team! I am really excited for this event; I've been to IFCS, WAO, and EO (and BCC now!) but never AWC! Looking forward to it - we leave in only 3 and 1/2 weeks!!

15 July 2014


Strafe and I leave in only FIVE more days for our big European summer adventure trip. We're flying into Munich because it was the closest relatively affordable direct flight, then stopping to sight see briefly in Salzburg before driving down to Hungary. We're in Hungary at the Team Hotel for the European Open, coming up SO SOON! After that we'll sight see in Budapest for a few days before heading up into Slovakia for the Border Collie Classic. I'm really excited to do 2 big events while I'm over there.

Strafe got a brand new fancy ID tag this year, the first time I've sprung for such a thing! I love it, and it goes with his fancy collar and the charm I got that were both gifts!

I've started packing; hoping to fit everything in one big suitcase and a backpack as carry on. Will probably have to do some laundry at some point but that should be OK.

The weekend after I return I am off to Connecticut for the 2nd AWC Practice, and then that will be basically everything I focus on from there until mid-September. 2014 is a busy year!

Please buy a fan shirt :) The funds go directly to support our AWC Agility Team costs!

30 June 2014


Strafe and I just got home from a long but fun trip out to the Pacific Northwest. We started out by going to the AWC Team Practice last weekend, which was great. Held at a great facility in Washington, and I think we have a really good team of dogs and handlers this year, despite quite a few new faces to the FCI team (including myself!)

Because one of the Large dogs can't make it to the 2nd practice, we took pictures of them all together for fun, wearing supporter shirts! Be sure to buy a shirt, the funds go directly to supporting the team!

Great photo by Carrie DeYoung!
I wasn't able to bring a bunch of shirts home with me to sell, due to traveling with a carry on size bag for 12 days, but I can probably get an order together if there is interest! Email me if you'd like one!

After practice I got a ride back to a friend's house, where I just chilled and took some nice walks, enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather for a few days.

I admit, I'm coming to really like Washington. I could probably live there and be quite happy.

After a few days there, I took a really short (36minute!) flight down to Portland to teach for 2 and a half days. One of the reasons I like teaching there is that it is one of the very first places I went for an "away" seminar that I had to fly to, and it's fun to come back and see a few of the same people each time.

Meanwhile, I left the girls with a new in-home boarding place; an agility student who lives pretty close by, and has a POOL. The girls were apparently in heaven and didn't miss me at all:

Kiba enjoying a swim

Seri can't believe she is done swimming!
(both photos by Kristin Anderson)
And now I am back home, all 5 dogs back together, tired but happy. One thing I've discovered in recent years is that I really do like to travel, even though it can be pretty stressful at times and being such an introvert (with a few other oddities involved in my brain chemistry as well;) can make it trying to be around people for so long, I really do like it. It's nice to be home and relax and have down time, but by the time a few weeks have passed I'm usually ready to jet off to another new place again.

Right now my next trip is to the European Open! So I'm in final planning stages for that; all the big ticket items are taken care of; flight, rental car, hotel, major sight-seeing is planned. Really looking forward to competing at the EO and the BCC this year, I'm just crossing my fingers that we get reasonably good weather for both events, or at least not so bad that the conditions become dangerous for the dogs (deep mud, etc).

Ven is almost 6 months old now, and he is definitely taller and longer than when I left on this trip! I will get some pics of him in the next few days for his 6 month birthday. He's coming along nicely, and while I see some similarities with Strafe, he is definitely not a clone and is totally his own dog. I anticipate that we will get along just fine though!

In sadder news, Drifter's mother Tera passed away today at the ripe old age of 17. I was watching Drifter rolling around in the field and could hardly believe his 12th birthday will occur later this year. Aside from a few tiny indications, you'd never know he's a senior now, and he's just as naughty and pushy as ever.

Drifter rolling in the field a few weeks ago, enjoying retirement

Drifter at my very first international competition, IFCS 2010 in England

Drifter's mother Tera, photo by Kaitlyn Dreese who ran her in the latter half of her career and loved her dearly.