Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kitten Name Survey

I compiled a list of names that were suggested for the new kitten, both on the blog and on my personal Facebook page. Now, I need your input. Choose your favorite name (or favorite names), or enter another name in the write in section.

Also, the winners of the name submissions earlier this week have been notified, and prizes will be on their way shortly.

Which Name Should I Give My Cat?

Brian ("Life of Brian")0%
Theo (Theodore)0%
Tiny Tim0%
Sammi (Sam/Samuel)0%
Danny DeVito0%
Oz (Wizard of Oz)0%
Warwick Davis0%
Shaquille O'Neal0%
Bao Xishun (Or perhaps Meow Xishun)0%

And, if you happen to be one of the more local readers, this is a great deal on Living Social for pet photography in Portland, OR. Just use the link to get to the deal.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: In the woods

So many people post about treats and cookies on Tasty Tuesday. Not that there is anything wrong with this, of course. But sometimes, I think my dogs just like a good, tasty stick in the woods as much as any cookie I could possibly make for them.

Tasty Sticks

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Big Head, Little Arms

Anyone seen the movie Meet the Robinsons? Remember this part?

That's what I keep thinking of. You know why? Because I went out and adopted myself a Munchkin.

That's right, the household has grown by one. For those unfamiliar with cat breeds, a Munchkin is basically a dwarfed cat- a full size cat with abnormally short legs. Like, the corgi of the cat world. Now, my little guy isn't a purebred Munchkin. He may be related to one, or he may simply be a random cat with a genetic mutation causing dwarfism. But, his short little legs are pretty darn adorable.


I don't think he has quite as short of legs as a standard show cat would have. But they are shorter than a normal tabby cat should have.  And he has these gorgeous orangey green eyes.


At six months old, he is probably going to still get larger (though his legs are probably not going to grow more). He is cuddly, but happy to play alone, and non demanding. He is playful, but careful with his claws. He isn't afraid of the dogs, though he will tell them to back off if they get a little too enthusiastic (Koira). Pallo is actually afraid of him for the most part. I'm sure they will become good buddies though. Koira is fascinated  and spends a lot of time just laying down, watching this new ball of fur play around and explore.


You know what the real problem with him is? He doesn't have a name! This little guy needs an awesome name to get him to fit in with the crew here. So far, my naming scheme has been Finnish words for dog names, and Bible names for the cats. Martha came with her name, and then my second cat was Lazarus. Laz went to live with some friends of mine, however, because he was needy and desperate for attention all the time. Since my friends have 6+ people living in the house, he gets gobs of attention over there, all the time, and I still get to visit him whenever I want.


I'm not sure if I want to continue the naming themes with this new guy, or just give him an awesome name that suits his funky, friendly, easy going, short legged self. Which is where you guys come in. Will you suggest a name for this new little guy? Be it a long mouthful of a name with a cute nickname to use in the mean time, or just the perfect one syllable name, I would love to hear your suggestions. 

Just to throw a little extra fun and jazz into the naming suggestions, how about a prize? Leave a suggestion for a name, and use the Rafflecopter to enter into a drawing for a fun prize. I'll leave it open until Thursday evening, and then post a survey of my favorite names for everyone to vote on. Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner, who will then be sent a nifty prize (US only). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: "If I Should Die Before My Dog --"

It is something none of us really want to think about. Or simply don't think we have to think about. Our pets have such short lives compared to our own, that it is easy to not think about what will happen to them if something happens to us. But really, we should.

That is what "If I Should Die Before My Dog --" is all about. This book guides us, step by step, over what we really need to think about and plan for our pets in case the worst happens to us. It is perhaps better called a manual, even. It tastefully and carefully guides you through all of the things you should think about for caring for your pet after your death, providing blanks in the book for you to fill out. 

Not only are there the basics, like who is going to take your dog (do you know the answer to even this most basic question?), but the more in depth questions as well. It gives you a chance to really share everything about your pet, from the daily routine to allergies to the food they like the best. What kind of play do they enjoy? Are they afraid of men wearing sunglasses? All of those little quirks can be written down, all in this one place. 

You may know the answer to all of these questions already. But even if you have it laid out in your will who will take your dog, there is no comparison to having something like this book, filled out and ready, to hand off to the new owner of your dog. Being able to give them this reference of your dog's whole life could make a huge difference to how easily your beloved family member settles in to their new life. I would say this is a must have for any dog owner. Hopefully, you will never have to pass it on. Hopefully, your dog will live out a long and happy life in your household. In which case this book would be a wonderful reminder of all of the little things you did together and what made your relationship so unique and important to you.

I also think this book would be a wonderful thing to send along to a new home of a foster dog. Imagine being able to send off that long term foster dog with a manual to all of the likes, dislikes, routines, and the tiny little details of their lives with you. For a dog who has already had upheaval and potentially many home changes, something like this could help keep some consistency and stability in their already chaotic lives. 


A Dog Lovers lasting guide.......An beautifully illustrated interactive book that one fills in all of the information about their dogs life in the event they can no longer care for them to help ensure your pets are taken care of.

A thought provoking check list for dog lovers, who unfortunately and with much sadness can no longer take care of their dog. 

This book will assist those who want to prepare for their dogs future in an easy to use format that will guide them through the process of telling the "story" of their dogs life, for their pets "Next Guardian". 

None of us can predict the future, but in the event situations arise such as death, health impairment or left with no other choice but to give them up, this book will be there to assist your beloved pet with the transition from one home to another.

"If I Should Die Before My Dog -" website        Facebook        Twitter

About the Authors

Author photo.jpg

Authors Joe and Cathy Connolly

Joe and Cathy Connolly have spent a lifetime owning, training and caring for dogs. Cathy grew up with a Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog handler while attending many different dog shows and eventually went on to work with other breeders as she grew older. They live in beautiful Northern Michigan with their 3 furry four legged children, one large dog, one small dog and the entire family is supervised by one bossy calico cat. 

Buy the book from....
Author's Website
Barnes and Noble 

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Flyball Practice

Last night at flyball the dogs did pretty awesome. Pallo's ball dropping has reappeared somewhat, but he is running well for the most part. I am making sure to reward him only when he carries the ball to me, and not at all if he drops it early. Since we have a much smaller runback at practice than we will at tournaments, I am hoping the ball dropping isn't too much of an issue at our upcoming tournament.

Koira's turn is doing awesome. We are right now working on her getting a good solid four footed snap off turn without a prop in. Since we are headed to a tournament the second weekend of February, I am hoping her turn is good enough to get her through singles without having to be pulled. So far, it is looking good. To fade the prop in front of the box, I am doing a few things. The first is that I put white tape on the front of the box, so it visually looks similar to there being a white prop there. In practices, we are doing full runs in lineups of 2-4 dogs. We generally do five heats twice through the night. I am having someone put a prop in for Koira's first, third, and fifth heat, but pull it out for the second and fourth. For the most part, her turn is staying high. I am withholding her tug reward if her rear is not staying high on the box with the prop out, and giving her a party when she keeps a nice high turn with no prop.

At home, we are also working. I have been sending her a short distance (my house is small and it is wet outside) to the box, without a prop. No reward for poor turns, big fun for good turns. If she does two poor turns in a row, the prop goes in for one turn, then back out. I think it is helping make things click for her, the difference between what I want and don't want. We've been doing these practices most every day for the past week, and will keep them up daily until the tournament.

I also built a wall board for Koira, which I haven't tried out yet. It is basically a piece of (thick) plywood that is 2 feet by 3 feet, and covered in padding. I found those interlocking multicolored squares that they make for kid's play rooms for a buck at a thrift store, so decided to use those. Yes, the board is kind of...colorful... as a result. The point of the wall board will be to practice high, fast turns with no chance for "running" across the box or double hitting at all, since it is close to impossible to double hit on a vertical surface.

Something I noticed while doing training at home is that Koira is apparently thinking we are doing two different games based on where I am standing. She does beautiful box bounces (no ball) if I am standing up near the box off to the side. Same with using the wall board. But, she has no idea how to do a bounce if I am backed up and releasing her toward the box/board, rather than standing next to it. She only gets it if there is a ball in the box. Which leads me to believe that I need to somehow show her that these games are in fact one and the same, and that she can run down and do a turn off the box, even if there isn't a ball there. Any ideas on how to do this?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rose City Classic Dog Show

I went to the Rose City Classic dog show on Friday. I had a great time, talked to a lot of people, spent some time shopping for the dogs, and took a lot of pictures.

I hear that in previous years, this show cluster has been bigger. There were still a ton of vendors and plenty of things to do for the day though.

Rose City Classic (10 of 26)

I started out watching some Open B in the obedience ring, but left once they started doing the sits and downs. Lets face it, watching obedience sits and downs is not a thrilling use of time (unless you have a dog in there, probably). This little Boston was hanging out outside the Rally ring, and was showing off her dancing skills.

Rose City Classic (5 of 26)
Leaping for joy

Over by the agility rings, I ran into this German Pinscher. I'm not sure I've ever met this breed in person before. About as tall as Koira is, but more slender, I got to see not only this dog's cropped ears and docked tail, but also the natural ears of another of the breed. Those golden eyes sure are gorgeous though.

German Pinscher
German Pinscher
Back over at obedience, this Malinois was showing off some attention work with their handler, who wasn't asking for it (but treating it anyway, because man, is this not cute?).

Rose City Classic (6 of 26)
Total Attention
I did, of course, wander over to the breed rings as well. I missed the Ibizan Hounds, who had shown first thing in the morning. I didn't make it until about 11. I did catch the Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the ring, as well as the Tibetan Terrier, the Xoloitzcuintili (whose name I was taught to say), and part of the American Eskimos. This little Yorkie was hanging out after showing, half napping and half just watching the world going by.

Rose City Classic (8 of 26)
Little princess
At the Meet The Breed tables, I met an American Hairless Terrier for the first time. It feels so strange to pet a dog and feel nothing but skin. Unlike the Xolo (who I did pet before he went into the breed ring), the American Hairless doesn't have any hair, and apparently has closed hair follicles, making them much softer and smoother. I also met the Chinese Crested on the table next to these guys, but didn't get any good pictures as they were being totally fawned over by everyone else.

American Hairless Terrier
American Hairless Terrier
This Siberian Husky is actually the first dog I took a picture of at the show, over at the FitPaws booth. FitPaws makes exercise equipment for dogs, including all sorts of stuff like peanut balls and wobble boards and more. The dogs there trying them out quickly were learning that standing on these strange things brings cookies.
Rose City Classic (1 of 26)
Siberian Husky 

Overall, I had a good time. I was sad to miss the Ibizans, especially since I didn't stick around long enough to watch the Hound Group go in the ring. But I got a chance to talk to quite a few people, watch obedience, rally, agility, and conformation, and do some shopping. I didn't get much, but did bring the dogs home some bully sticks and picked up some more dog shampoo and conditioner, as I ran out after giving the dogs their baths for Christmas. I am looking forward to going to the next local show, which for me is in Albany, OR at the end of February. How else will I get pictures of the more obscure AKC breeds if I don't go to shows?

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 Breed Challenge: Puli Obedience

I went up to the Rose City Classic dog show in Portland, OR on Friday. I have never been before and really wanted to go, and it was the only day off I had during the show. I thought the biggest dog show cluster in the PNW would be a good place to get started on my 2013 breed photography challenge.

I took a lot of pictures at the show, though no where near as many as I should have. Here is my favorite set of photos. This Puli and their owner were warming up outside the obedience ring and I snapped off a few photos of their warm up routine.

Rose City Classic (4 of 26)


Rose City Classic (3 of 26)
Come front

I am also trying out Lightroom 4 for the first time. I resist change a lot, even when I know change is good. So, I am forcing myself to use Lightroom by simply shooting only in RAW, because then, I have to use either Lightroom or Photoshop to edit the pictures, I don't have any other choice! I did do a bit of a cheat, though, and downloaded some free presets from the web. For the most part, I am using the presets to edit with, and then tweaking them a bit here and there to get the look I want. I am waiting eagerly for the Lightroom 4 book I put a hold on at the library to become available, so that I can hopefully step forward and master this program!

If you are doing the 2013 Breed Photography Challenge, how is the challenge going for you? Have you taken any good pictures of unique breeds yet? Are you planning to take any trips to some dog shows to get in those funky never-see-around-town breeds?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Weight Pull

We apparently don't have enough sports to be involved with. A friend recently mentioned to us that they were starting weight pull training, and I said me and Koira were totally in for that. We have now done two practices, using weights and a crate dolly. Koira seems to really enjoy the practices, but has been getting a bit frustrated during training.

We started out borrowing my friend's weight pull harness, which fit Koira surprisingly well. But, I had to make our own in case we both compete in the same class, so that we don't have to switch the harness back and forth between dogs. My first attempt at a weight pull harness came in at $25 for materials and only about 40 minutes for assembly. I think it fits really well, and I am very happy with it.

On the way to meet up for practice last night, I had an idea about how to really train a good head position for weight pull. Basically, you want the dog to keep their head low and forward for the best pulling power, and you want to teach that position from the beginning.  I tried the first time by tossing treats ahead of Koira, and by treating her low or on the ground when she pulled nicely. It got a decent head position but was not very consistent and relied heavily on me getting the treats in the right position. On the drive over there last night, though, it occurred to me, maybe it would be the perfect time to pull out the touch stick again?

Touch sticks are amazing, by the way.

Using a touch stick/target stick helped keep Koira's head nicely low, in good position, consistently. I do use a clicker when I use the touch stick (about the only thing I consistently use a clicker for), but you could certainly use a marker word instead. Koira is well trained with the touch stick to bump her nose to the very tip of the stick. The tip of the stick part is very important, as you don't want the dog targeting halfway up the stick or right next to your hand or something. Using the touch stick was way, way easier for training position and pulling. And, I am pretty sure I can fade the stick out pretty easily to a hand touch (once her head position is trained better), because I am allowed to use my hand as a target for her even in competition.

In any case, I don't have a ton to say about weight pull, since we are just now getting involved with it. So far, we are having a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to trying it out in competition. No pictures yet since we are practicing at night pretty much, making it hard to get decent pictures. If you do weight pull with your dog, and have any starting tips, we would love to hear them!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Or, wordy Wednesday. In the switch over to a new computer, and a new photo editing program, I am having some technical difficulties. Which means no new photos for the blog. Hence the lack of posting. So, how about two photos of Koira doing box turn practice on a wall board a few weeks ago? These were taken by a fellow flyballer and photography lover when we came to visit their practice.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 Photo Challenge: Join me?

I wanted to do a photo challenge for the new year. But, I am not good at doing the daily pictures. Themes always leave me feeling un-creative and lacking in ideas. Specific challenges make me want to rebel or make me bored with taking the same photo over and over.

So, I decided to create my own challenge, and I invite anyone else who is interested to join in. You can join with your blog, with Flickr, or any other way you choose to share your photos. This is not a daily, weekly, or monthly challenge. There is no limit to the number of pictures you can take to fulfill it. Take as many pictures as you want at a time.

Requirements for this challenge are pretty basic, and you can feel free to take your own spin on it if you would like. The basic idea, though? Photograph every dog breed in the AKC/UKC in the year 2013. Or, alternatively, photograph every dog sport. For extra challenge? Photograph every dog breed and every dog sport as a combination challenge. Feel free to pick your own kennel club if you are outside the United States.

Want to only take pictures of dogs actively competing in sports, and do that for all dog breeds? Great! Want to take pictures at only conformation shows, in the ring, and win pictures? Great! Want to photograph the widest variety of breeds possible, all while performing agility (or some other sport)? Great!

My personal goal for this will be to both photograph every breed in the AKC and UKC as well as every sport that is active in Oregon. My hope is that I will learn a lot about photographing dogs other than my own, and, at the same time, motivating myself to travel to different shows and competitions around my area to learn and photograph. My focus will be on quality of the pictures, trying to highlight something awesome about each breed and each sport.

Want to join? Let us know what you plan on using for your goal. If enough people are interested, I will put together a page with links to blogs who plan to participate. The Flickr group is open to everyone interested in the challenge, so feel free to join over there, whether or not you plan to post on your blog.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Show off that figure!

Well, we are still around in 2013, despite being absent for a week. Today we are back, and participating in the Show Off Your Dog's Waistline Campaign. I am pretty proud of the amazing shape my dogs are in, and think that this is a major issue. So many people think my dogs are too skinny, while they hold on to the leash of a dog who could probably stand to lose 10+ pounds. So many vets don't tell owners when their pets are overweight, or downplay it if they do. I always make a point to ask my vet twice about my dogs' weight. The first time, I ask if their weight is good. She always says yes. Then, I say, "My dogs compete in dog sports, including a lot of running, jumping, twisting, turning, and physical activity. How is their weight for that?". Sometimes, the answer is the same, that they are at a good weight. But, I've had her suggest taking off as much at 5 pounds from the dog she just said a minute ago had great weight! Being athletes changes things, but shouldn't all dogs be kept at the weight that best keeps them safe while running, jumping, and being active?

For a great, short read about dog weight, I will refer you to one of my favorite sports vets and writers, Dr. Zink. Her article Corpulent Canines is a great easy to read article about the weight we keep our dogs at, in sports and in conformation, and how those may affect the dogs.

Here are my dogs. Pallo, as a corgi mix, has a naturally stockier build than many dogs. His bones are thick, his skin is thick, and while he is technically short haired, he has plenty of fur on there too.

From the side, Pallo has a very obvious tuck up behind the ribs. His ribs are not visible, but can be easily felt. His shoulders, back, and rear are well muscled and defined.


From the top, Pallo has only a slight waist. His hips are obviously wider, but he doesn't have a big dip in. His spine is not sticking out, and his ribs are not visible. This is appropriate for a dog of his coat and build.

Koira is leaner and more muscular in build. Her bones are thinner, her skin is thinner, and her coat is near non existent. Yes, if a lab looked like this, it would be severely underweight. For Koira, this is perfect weight. I might even try to put a bit more muscle on her.

From the side, Koira has a defined tuck up. (It was cold outside when we took the pictures, so she was hunching a little bit from cold.) Most of her ribs are slightly visible. Her muscles are outlined and defined, though she could use some additional muscle definition. Tendons are visible stretching across the outside of her ribs.

From the top, Koira has a visible waist. Her ribs are visible, but not sticking out (I will say again, though, that she was cold, so her ribs are a bit more sticky-out than they would otherwise be). Her spine is visible but not protruding. Her muscles are well defined. For a dog of her coat and build, this is an appropriate active weight.

To keep my dogs in this condition, I do a lot of things. We go out for a few hours at a time at least three times per week. We go to flyball practice at least once a week. Swimming, dock diving, lure coursing, skijoring, disc, hiking, and general off leash play are all part of our physical routine.

I feed my dogs accordingly for the amount of exercise they are getting. Spending a full weekend at a flyball tournament? The dogs get extra helpings of nutrient and calorie dense hearts, as well as additional snacks like dried meat jerky and raw or hard boiled eggs, on top of their regular raw meals. Spending a week sitting at home while I'm working a lot? The dogs will get just the base raw meals, with a balance of meat, organ, and bone.

The most important thing to make this work is that I look at and feel my dogs on a regular basis. I make sure they are in good muscle condition and that they are not gaining too much fat. Relying on a scale for my dogs is tricky, because my dogs can gain a lot of poundage in muscle if we are doing some really active training and conditioning. Three pounds gain of fat would be bad, but a three pound gain in muscle (or more) has happened more than once with these guys, and I would certainly not want to cut back their food because of the number on the scale!

The best example I can give of this is that, when I adopted Pallo, he weighed in at the vet at just over 25 pounds. He had no waist and was visibly chubby. He was around 9 months old then. He has since lost a lot of fat and gained a lot of muscle. Pallo is the same height (within an inch) as when I adopted him, but now weighs 37 pounds of healthy muscle!

So, anyone else have some dog waists to share?