29 September 2008

Wildlife at Lake Seneca, NY

I really enjoy going to the Finger Lakes, NY dog show circuit in September for many reasons: the show takes place in beautiful Sampson State park on Seneca Lake; it's a HUGE show with well over 2000 conformation entries plus there is agility, obedience, rally-o, lure coursing, eye and heart clinics; there are usually lots of vendors at the show; plus there are scores of wineries close by; exhibitors are very friendly and there is lots of socializing. And, there is also interesting wildlife. Just across from the state park is the former Seneca army depot, now home to the Seneca White Deer where they are protected. Instead of camping inside the park, I usually stay in a hotel in Geneve, north of the park so when I am driving to and from the show grounds, I usually spot the white deer in the early morning or at dusk (and some brown ones) plus lots of wild turkeys. Sighting the white deer is supposed to bring luck but that didn't work for me in conformation this weekend. :-(

The flock of turkeys I photographed were outside the army depot but I spotted lots inside the depot too. These turkeys, which numbered around 20, were considerably smaller than the two that ventured into our yard several weeks ago (they looked like turkeys on steroids and were huge in comparison!). Turkeys are very skittish but I used my new camera with a long zoom lens to take these pictures. I sure get a kick out of seeing wildlife.

I also explored other places around Lake Seneca and found a small hamlet with an intriguing sign on a railway crossing post on the outskirts of the village. I just had to photograph it!

28 September 2008

Sleeping with Vizslas

As a rule, we don't allow our dogs to sleep in bed with us because we want a decent night's sleep. There are exceptions: when a dog is ill or perhaps dying or when Michael is away or when I stay in hotels at dog shows. Until recently, only Sasha had the privilege of sleeping with me when I went to dog shows - because he was getting old and just because he was very special. Some dogs are bed hogs; they stretch out, push you with their legs, dive under the covers, lick themselves. There are some dogs that like to sleep under the covers but thankfully, mine don't. Sasha would curl into a ball and stay that way for most of the night and was so quiet that sometimes, I didn't even know he was sleeping with me.

Last weekend, I stayed at a hotel for the Finger Lakes shows, made an exception and permitted both Miska and Nova to sleep on the king-sized bed with me. It was a mistake because each had to snuggle into position on either side of my body, with the result that I was pinned into place under the covers and could barely move. And each time I shifted position or tried to roll over, Miska would think it was time to get up and would grab a toy and stick it in my face, wiggling her butt so hard that it would shake the bed. "Go back to sleep", I would growl. When I woke up, I found myself lying diagonally across the bed or almost lying across it, rather than in the 'normal' position, just because the girls had their space to protect. Needless to say, I didn't get the best sleep. We were there for 2 nites and I vowed that they would sleep in the crates the next night but I relented and the same thing happened in the bed. It was, after all, only 2 nights out of my life. Who needs sleep anyway?

27 September 2008

Paul Newman

I just learned of Paul Newman's death tonight and am very saddened. He was such an icon. One tends to think that people like this will live forever. I loved him in so many of his films, always admired how enduring his marriage to Joanne Woodward was, and respected him for his charity work and for shunning the glitz and shallowness of Hollywood. Sally Field said of him, "Sometimes God makes perfect people and Paul Newman was one of them." Enough said.

Rally Obedience

Today was a good day for 3 of our dogs in rally obedience! On the west coast of Canada, Shandy owned by Chrissie and Jens Diron of British Columbia, earned the last leg of her rally advanced title in the CARO organization. CARO stands for Cdn Association of Rally Obedience and was at the forefront at introducing rally-o to Canadians before the Cdn Kennel Club finally approved rally-o as a sanctioned sport. Shandy is now officially known as CH Varazs Artemis Vizsandy AGI CD CGN RA (CARO). Congratulations to Shandy and Chrissie!

And on the other side of the continent in Romulus, NY at the Finger Lakes circuit of dog shows, Shandy's sister Miska and their mother, Nova, each earned a qualifying score (leg) towards their American RAE (Rally Advanced/Excellent) titles. An RAE title requires 10 qualifying scores and Nova is now up to 8 legs with today's pass. This was Miska's first RAE leg so she has 9 more to go. Their scores weren't great - it's an outdoor show and that always has challenges. And I really need to do some serious obedience training with these two dogs as they have been out of the obedience mode for quite a while, concentrating instead on field/hunting recently. It's a challenge to make obedience as interesting as hunting. Albeit rally-o is a heck of a lot more fun than regular obedience.

Anyway, today was a good day in rally for our dogs.

20 September 2008

Wicked Wasps

Poor Quest (Mr Green). It was his unfortunate turn to be badly stung by wasps this morning. Mr Red (now Andras) had his turn before this. Quest was in the woods this morning and obviously disturbed a nest in the ground. He came screaming towards me, covered in about 12 wasps. I threw my jacket on him to rub them off, rushed him into the house, pulled stingers out of him and rubbed the wounds with vinegar this time instead of a paste of baking soda and water.

He easily had about 12 stings or even more. Poor fellow. The vinegar did work to reduce the pain and swelling but I have to remember to wear gloves when I do this as the acetic acid started to sting my skin after prolonged exposure. Quest trembled and then slept for most of the morning although he did have an appetite but we kept feeding to a small meal in case he felt ill. By late afternoon, he had returned to his normal self but I fear he may now be bug phobic as he was fleeing in terror when a fly was around him.

It's a terrible time of year for wasps. We get a lot of them but I think we actually have more than in past years. They nest in trees, the ground, on our house and other places. What good do they perform? Please tell me because I honestly can't think of anything. I hate them. They are horrible!

19 September 2008

Update on Blaze (Mr Blue)

Blaze, who was our gorgeous Mr Blue, now lives in Alberta Canada. His family sent me a number of recent photos of him. Not only is he smart and beautiful but Blaze is fitting in nicely with his new human family who absolutely adore him. I predict that not only is he going to be a really handsome Vizsla when he grows up, but he will be great in conformation, field and in the obedience ring. Thank you to Barna for sharing these wonderful photos of Blaze.

17 September 2008

Corrine's 2nd place Weimie photo

Here's a link to the Weimaraner photo that Corrine took which earned her 2nd place overall in the Candid category. Look for the Candid category placemenets and her photograph is the one that took 2nd place in this category. They are located on the left side of the page at: http://www.tristateweimrescue.org/photowinners2008.htm

16 September 2008

Photo shoot, training class - very long day

What a long and tiring day! Our two puppies - Diva and Quest - along with their mom Miska and grandma Nova were chauffeured to Eileen Wilkes home for a photo shoot. Eileen and her husband Bob own Bowsers, a company that manufactures luxury dog beds and other top quality pet products. Eileen also happens to be Nova's breeder. The photo shoot was for their new catalogue and other advertising of their product lines.

Eileen initially said to bring just Nova and Miska but I couldn't leave the puppies unattended at home for most of the day because they are too young. Well, it turned out that Diva was the best model and star of the day holding her poses like a professional movie star! At 14 weeks of age, she was unbelievably obedient and a natural poser, just like her grandmother and great-grandmother Bree who has starred in previous Bowser catalogues and advertising. Diva knows very few verbal commands; therefore I couldn't command Diva to 'stay' but she stayed posed for long periods of time while the photographer snapped away. That's Diva pictured on the aqua lounger.

I think the photographer took over 500 shots of the dogs, mainly Nova, Diva and Miska but he also took several of Bree and Cooper (Nova's younger brother) and lots of the dogs together. One setup was of Bree, Nova, Miska and Cooper (3 generations) lying on doggie loungers by the pool. All they needed were doggie swim suits and sun glasses to make it a Wm Wegman scene. I can't wait to see how those shots turn out. Quest and his slightly older brother, Reese, didn't want to co-operate, preferring to play instead and thus weren't included in many photographs. I did catch Quest posing briefly in a wicker doggie bed. From Eileen's experience, males aren't as good at posing as the females and she is right. Well, I can't wait to see the photos and Bowser's new catalogue.

The photo shoot started at 10:30 AM and finished at 3:30 PM. It was very tiring for the dogs, especially the puppies but they showed an amazing amount of energy. Well, they are Vizslas after all and the breed is known for its boundless energy but I was astonished at how long they lasted.

On the way home, I stopped and picked up Linda Currie, a Vizsla owner and friend of mine who lives in New Brunswick. She was in town (Toronto) for work-related meetings. She asked whether she could come to obedience training class one night with me. As it turned out, tonite is puppy class so I suggested she visit tonite. The puppies barely had 15 minutes respite at home when it was time to leave for their class . I suggested that Linda handle one puppy while I took the other. Marie Sawford of Companion Dog Training where I am currently taking obedience training was very accommodating about having the two puppies in class together since I have only paid for one spot. I was amazed that Diva & Quest had any energy whatsoever for training. It wasn't long after we arrived back home and fed the pups when they FINALLY crashed and were snoring happily away in their new Bowser's beds - payment for a hard day's labour. Linda and I spent most of the evening discussing and comparing dog training methods, training philosophies and trainers and then I drove her back to her hotel. All in all, a long but very satisfying and fun day for all of us.

14 September 2008

Piper's new life

Piper (who was Miss Lilac/Purple) went to join a wonderful family with 2 beautiful teen-aged daughters: Lauren in her second year of university and Rae-Brynn in high school. Both girls are pros at showing cows at local and regional fairs and have won many prizes and ribbons.

Piper is their second Vizsla, both having come from my kennel. Sadly, their first Vizsla, Jupiter (pictured below), died of cancer very suddenly in February of this year. Jupiter was one of our puppies and her family and I were absolutely devastated over her premature death. No breeder ever wishes their dogs to die young, especially from cancer but unfortunately it happens sometimes. Cancer is the leading cause of death in canines now; much of it is due to our environment and perhaps other factors, many of which we have no control over.

But the family has now welcomed Piper into their hearts. She has big paws to fill and her new family is enjoying the little devil. In addition to showing cows, I hope that Rae-Brynn will learn how to show Vizslas so she can take Piper into the ring next year. After all, Vizslas are a whole lot smaller than those cows she's showing and don't slobber like cows do! Yuck! And cow tongues are extremely rough!

Thanks to Piper's owners - Greg and Cythnia - for allowing these photos to be shown on my Blog. If you click on the photo link, it will take you to the photo album where you can view larger shots.

13 September 2008

William Wegman Approves

Corrine Sellars who owns our Milo called me excitedly on Saturday evening to tell me that one of 5 photos of a neighbour's Weimaraner that she had taken and submitted to the US Weimie Rescue organization for their calendar had been reviewed and selected by William Wegman, no less, as a finalist! She doesn't know which photo yet but I assume will find out soon. I can't wait to see the photograph! Corrine takes her camera with her everywhere and is always snapping photos of Milo and other dogs and she has taken some fantastic pictures. The photo at left is one she took of Milo is a la Wegman.

For those who don't know, William Wegman is an artist who is incredibly famous for his photographs of his Weimaraners, particularly in 'costume'. His dog photos have appeared in art galleries, books, cards, etc.

So this is quite a thrill for Corrine's work to have been reviewed and approved by William Wegman himself!

10 September 2008

Visit to Burns Conservation

Where we live, we are fortunate to have access to conservation-owned land adjacent to and across from our 10 acre parcel of land. And five-minutes drive from our home, we have thousands of acres of agreement forest and miles and miles of trails. Although we live on 10 acres - that may sound like a lot of space - it isn't large enough to run and tire our Vizslas out. So this week, I bundled everyone in the van and just drove down to the road (too far for puppies to walk) to Burns Conservation. It's about 50 acres with 2 km of trails plus a small lake which used to be stocked with fish each year. It's no longer stocked with fish but people still come to fish there. I don't usually walk our dogs there because they are supposed to be leashed and the park is popular with visitors. But on off-peak hours and in inclement weather, we may get lucky and have the place to ourselves. For the past 20 years, we have enjoyed this park with all of our Vizslas, past and present. Click on the photo links below to view lots of photos and the video of the dogs/puppies.

From Burns Conservation with Puppies

However this day, it was very dull and overcast day and no one else was at Burns. So the 2 puppies - Diva and Quest (we finally gave Mr Green a name!) - and Miska, Nova and Tyro walked the lake area. The puppies had a ball. I threw sticks for Tyro into the lake and when he swam to fetch them, Diva and Quest ventured in but it was Diva who was brave enough to swim.
What I had thought was a video turned out to be a snapshot from the video instead. Here now is the video!

9 September 2008

Why Titles are Important, IMO

I think earning titles on my Vizslas - and encouraging my puppy buyers to do the same - is important for several reasons.
  1. The Vizsla is a working dog, bred to hunt. Because most of us don't hunt for our food these days or even for sport, the Vizsla doesn't know that. It needs a job to do with its boundless energy and hunting instincts that are innate. "You can take the dog out of the hunt but you can't take the hunt out of the dog" or something like that I've read before.
  2. Teaching Vizslas new tricks can be just as tiring as an hour's walk. A tired Vizsla is a happy Vizsla.
  3. Training your Vizsla for competition really strengthens the human-animal bond between the two of you. In our household, it's not the person who feeds the dogs who has the closest relationship with the dogs but the person who does the training.
  4. Training and competing helps make dogs better canine citizens and also really helps to socialize them. In this day and age with more breed-specific legislation in place, it's so critical to have a dog with a stable temperament that gets along well with other dogs and people. Frankly, if you aren't thinking about competing, you probably aren't bothering to train your dog so competitions help me set goals for my dog and do training.
  5. I really enjoy doing stuff with my dogs. Going to competitions to earn points, qualifying scores, and ultimately titles is a social activity for both me and my dogs. I get to travel and meet people.
  6. My dogs really enjoy doing stuff and going places. They get to meet people and other dogs at shows/trials and we have FUN together. (They really enjoy hotel rooms especially the ones with two double beds because they love jumping from one bed to another.)
  7. Some of the nicest people I've met are dog people that I've met through training and competition as well as the people who have bought dogs from me.
  8. My dog doesn't care but I get a sense of achievement and satisfaction from competing and earning titles, knowing that it's just me and my dog who have done it.
  9. There is now some research to show that dogs that continuously learn stave off canine senility in old age. Just like people, it's use it or lose it (i.e., brain cells).
  10. Vizslas are aptly known as the Versatile Vizsla. They can do just about anything so it behooves owners of Vizslas to give them a life rich in learning. They will love us for it.

Many people who own Vizslas don't know that this breed was the first in the history of the American Kennel Club to earn triple, quadruple and quintuple championships. As you can see below, the same dog, Chartay matched Kai's record and then smashed it, making history.

Chartay's owner, Jack Sharkey, started out saying to Chartay's breeder, Diane Shearer of Legacy Vizslas that he "only wanted a pet" but Diane insisted he earn her Championship title at a minimum (which is all I ask of my puppy buyers too). That ignited Jack's enthusiasm for training and competing with his dog and set him on a course that made history. Here's to Kai and Chartay, two very special Vizslas!

Miska matches her dad in # of titles

With the successful completion of her Jr Hunter title on September 7, 2008, Miska aka Am/Can CH Varazs Kiralyi Kedvesem Am/Can CD, Am/Can RA, Am RE, JH, FD, NAVHDA NA Prize III, CGN has now earned 14 titles in conformation, obedience, rally and field/hunting by the age of 5. (Usually only the highest level of titles are listed in a dog's registered name which is why if you count them above, you don't get 14.) This matches the record of her dad Sasha (Am/Can CH Varazs Kiralyi Sassy Sasha Am/Can CDX, FDJ, Am RAE, CGC, CGN, TT) when he died at age 15 years. Fourteen is the most number of titles I've achieved on any of my dogs. For all of his titles and achievements in at least 3 different areas, Sasha (see photo below) recently won the Tibor Reiter Trophy for Versatile Vizslas, offered by the Vizsla Society of Ontario and I hope that Miska will also be a contender/winner one day.

For 2008, I set a goal for Miska to earn 5 new titles and we achieved 4 of them. I was anticipating that she wouldn't be bred or have puppies until late fall so her maternity leave in summer added an unexpected curve in our objectives. Therefore she won't earn her Field Dog Excellent title (my 5th goal for her) this year because time is running out and there are few tests being offered this fall in Ontario. However, for a young dog as she is, 14 titles to date in different venues with lots of years (I hope) ahead of her, is a major accomplishment. So well done Miska and I look forward to next year when we can start to do more training and competing!!!

8 September 2008

Poor behaviour by fellow competitor

Sadly on Sunday at the AKC hunt tests, I witnessed a competitor get very angry at his dog. The reason? His dog wanted to find/hunt birds in the woods instead of in the bird field according to one judge and his dog wouldn't come when called. Many of the quail flew into the woods after they were flushed so that's where a lot of them were roosting. This dog, a very keen English setter, could smell them there. The dog did a great job the day before, finding and pointing a lot of birds. But on Sunday, the owner/handler became enraged because of his dog's behaviour which didn't result in a pass. Near the end of their session, the dog came running out of the bird field, away from his owner (smart dog!). Someone caught the dog and the owner put the leash on him but then jerked him so hard that he slipped out again. After being caught a second time, the owner rushed the dog to his van yelling "bad dog" to him. Well, at that point, I had to say something and did.

Then I witnessed the owner pick up and throw his dog into the back of the van and yell, "no water for you" and then took his water bowl and threw the bowl and water at the dog. Depriving a hot dog of water can result in heat stroke. I began to get hot under the collar as I saw what was happening and told the owner that his behaviour was totally inappropriate and unsportmanlike and that it certainly wasn't the dog's fault. I wish I had done more for the dog. The guy was just so mad at his dog. He jumped into his car and drove off. As he passed me when I was walking down to the starting line with my dog, I told him that I had found his leash in the field which he had dropped and lost the day before. He couldn't muster any civility to thank me at all, so great was his anger at his dog. I had hoped that this comment would help to cool him down but it didn't because he just said, "aah, forget it" and drove off.

This type of behaviour puts a pall on everyone and it's most unacceptable. No matter how your dog performs - win or lose, pass or fail - it's still a great dog. Guess what - it's usually OUR (the human's) fault when our dogs fail to perform. Many times, we simply haven't trained them well enough or we haven't figured out what methods work best for them. They are "Man's Best Friend" and give us unconditional love, no matter what. Yet sadly, this is how many dogs are treated by their owners.

The club officials briefly discussed how to deal with this man's behaviour. I don't know what they decided but at a minimum, I hope he's informed that his behaviour was unacceptable.

3 new Jr Hunter titles!

Nova and her 2 kids - Miska and Vadasz - from her first litter had a great weekend at AKC hunt tests at Darien, NY. All 3 dogs finished their Jr Hunter titles! And what beautiful rosettes the German Short-hair club of Western NY and of the US give out to dogs with qualifying scores! (Photo below: Left - Right: Vadasz, Miska and Nova.)

All 3 were handled by Sylvia. Nova finished her title on Saturday - only befitting since she's mom of the other two. And then on Sunday, Miska finished hers and Vadasz was the last brace and he completed his title. The AKC requires four qualifying scores for a JH title. Nova did hers in 5 tests and the other two in four straight tests.

Conditions were quite wet on Saturday. It had been raining throughout the night so I took lots of gear for wet weather and extra clothing to change into. The entry was small - only 6 Junior braces on Saturday and 5 on Sunday and I was in 3 of them so I did a lot of walking. Although I had some type of water resitant pants to cover my jeans, they weren't resistant enough against the moisture and not only were my jeans soaked by the end of the morning, everything wicked down into my boots and my feet, socks and boots were also soaking wet. From past experienc, I have learned to take a lot of extra clothing, boots, and shoes to outdoor field/hunt tests and agility trials and in some cases, weather for all 4 seasons!

Miska was out of shape because of her maternity leave this summer and an awful winter. As well, she hadn't had any recent practice or exposure to birds. So she didn't run as well as as fast and hard as her brother and mother who had run in tests in June. But Miska still did well enough with most scores ranging from 8 - 10 in each category to pass. (In her first two tests, she scored 9's across the board). On Saturday, I thought she should have score higher than 8 for hunting from the way she ran. The judges gave her a 10 for trainability and I couldn't understand that because she didn't always come when I whistled to her. But she got 2 passes so I shouldn't argue but sometimes one wonders how the judges judge your dogs! On Sunday, Miska was the first brace up and it was sunny, hot and there was little wind so she only found 1 bird which gave her a lower score of 7 / 10 for bird finding. But all she needed was 1 bird to pass but it would have been better to found more birds. On Saturday, it was very wet and the birds were hiding in deep cover and not flying . But she scored 8's and 9's in the other categories.

Vadasz worked very well for me considering his owner, Gary, just dropped him off the night before. On Saturday, Vadasz had good scores: 9 (hunting), 8 (bird finding agility), 9 (pointing) and 9 on trainability for a Q. By the time his brace ran on Sunday, conditions had improved from the first four braces. It had become overcast, it had cooled and there was a little bit of wind. He found a lot of birds and scored 9 on hunting, 10 on bird finding, 9.5 on pointing and 9 on trainability. Fantastic!

Most judges are very nice I find. And most also try hard to get your dog to pass. They took the time to give me some feedback on my handling. I learned to move in in front of my dog when she's on point, rather than from behind where she can't see me. This makes for a steadier dog on point. Second lesson - always fire the pistol, even if you think the dog is on the same bird that was just flushed. I was told to let the judges decide/figure out whether it's the same bird or not because they don't always know. One judge gave Nova credit for a bird even though I hadn't fired the pistol because I was sure she was simply pointing the same bird that she'd chased. It's always good to accept feedback and improve for the next time.

All in all, I was very pleased and thrilled as these 3 JH titles are the first one I've ever personally earned on my dogs. It was rewarding to handle them myself.

3 September 2008

Reunion with Mr Black (now Gunner)

Miss Yellow (now Diva) and Mr Green (still has no name) were taken to Oakville, Ontario where Mr Black (now Gunner) lives for an informal 'puppy party' and reunion on September 3rd. Puppies had just turned 11 weeks of age. Needless to say, the puppies were absolutely tired out by the end of the night and slept like babies.