31 December 2008

Happy New Year from Glendale, AZ

We were so happy to be settled into our new rental house in Glendale, AZ for New Year's eve. Here is a photo of the dogs with Diva in front and the others snuggled in their Bowser Bed.

Being new to the area, we didn't have an opportunity to research parties or dinners. So we spent a quiet evening in our new house, surrounded by our dogs, and enjoying the warmer weather than at home. I guess we were more tired from our long drive than we anticipated because we fell asleep before midnight. Michael roused me just as AZ was ringing in the New Year with a repeat of Times Square celebrating 2 hours earlier. We had bought a bottle of bubbly but it would have gone to waste so decided to keep it for another occasion.

It was both a happy and sad occasion. We were happy to be in a warm climate, happy to be together but sad to be away from our good friends Colleen & Raynal with whom we have celebrated many a new year and also sad because Dec. 31 was the birthday of our beloved Sasha from our very first Vizsla litter born in 1992 whom we lost in January 2008.

Anyway, a belated Happy New Year & all the best in 2009 from Sylvia, Michael & the Varazs Vizslas.

30 December 2008

Voyage to Arizona

High winds and major rain and t-storms originating from the US mid-west had us adjust our itinerary when we departed Moffat, Ontario for Arizona on Dec. 27, 2008. We headed more directly south to Indiana instead of going west to Chicago. As a result, we were fortunate to avoid almost all of the heavy rain, severe thunder storms & high winds that affected several states & Ontario. But the drive through Indiana was very boring - it's very flat, mainly farmland & there were miles & miles of it. T he section of Illinois we drove through was much the same. Oh, I forgot to mention that much of these states were under water due to the rapidly melting snow & heavy rains. There were mini lakes everywhere. Most of the central & mid-west US is pretty uninteresting geographically if you're sticking to the Interstates to get somewhere which we are doing.

Missouri was a little more interesting because of rolling hills & trees. Below, the famous arch in St. Louis and a photo of Busch stadium.

Then Oklahoma was flat again, and mostly farmland. We crossed the entire state of OK from 1 side to another.

Just when we didn't think it could get any flatter, it did in the Texas Panhandle. Boy, it's as flat as I remember Saskatchewan to be. You can see for hundreds of miles in the Texas Panhandle, except there is nothing to see! - apart from windmill farms and vast herds of cattle. What I learned is that the Texas Panhandle has been identified as one of the fastest-growing wind-power-producing regions in the nation over the past decade because of its strong, steady winds. Pretty exciting stuff - not!

Welcome to New Mexico
Once we hit the western part of the Texas panhandle and then into New Mexico, the geography finally started to get more interesting with buttes, mesas, rock formations, mountains, canyons, etc. And there was also some snow.

In Albuquerque we found a brand new, very nice pet friendly hotel, La Quinta Inn Suites. It was the nicest accommodation of our entire trip. The hotel has a lovely enclosed courtyard specifically to run dogs leash free. It's small but it was better than nothing after our dogs had endured 3 days in crates in the car without any walks/runs. Unfortunately, despite the signs, the doggy do bags provided for dog owners, people at this hotel still didn't clean up after their pets!!! I spent time and effort cleaning up after a lot of pet owners, on their behalf. Grrrrr.

Traffic was light on our trip, even in rush hour in major cities like Tulsa & Albuquerque. Traffic in these cities is nothing like Toronto rush hour which last 18 hours/day, 7 days a week. It's awful driving the greater Toronto area at any time of the day now. I hate it.

Our most exciting "events" on the trip were a possible sighting of a bald eagle (or maybe it was a vulture) and a red-tailed hawk carrying a rabbit, flying low over the highway right in front of us. Other than that, it was just millions of acres of land, water, trees, farms, cattle & cars.

As to Tyro and his travel anxiety? Well, a few drops of Lavendar oil were good for about 3 or 4 hours. He never dropped his head or closed his eyes the entire time in the van; nor did he sleep at all. After the 2nd day, I put in a donut bed in his crate, hoping he would at least rest his head. He sort of did, but still didn't close his eyes. At least he didn't pant for the most part. Needless to say once we got settled into the hotel at night, he was out cold. It obviously wasn't great for him, but at least he wasn't so stressed that it was terrible. He 'endured' it.

Welcome to Arizona!
Dec. 30th, 6:30 pm - we finally rolled up to our new temporary digs in Glendale. AZ. It took us the better part of 4 days to reach our destination safely and without incident. We are so looking forward to our sojourn.

I'm slowly catching up on our blog stories and there will be more about our life here in AZ soon.

21 December 2008

Finding a pet friendly rental home

Having decided to venture to Arizona meant finding a pet-friendly rental home that would accept 4 Vizslas. Yikes! I know it's hard finding places that will accept animals because there are a lot of irresponsible pet owners out there. I found that most landlords only accept 2 (small) dogs. I had 4 Vizslas I wanted to bring. Would I find the perfect place?

I found a few websites for rental homes but many restricted the number and size of dogs they would accept. Interestingly, when I was able to talk to prospective landlords on the phone and told them that our dogs are show dogs and that they train and compete in obedience events, and they travel with me to hotels & so have to be well behaved - which is all true - that made a big difference. Landlords generally became more open to hosting us and our dogs. Of course, they had to accept my word on face value but it did ease some initial potential resistances. I wanted to be honest with these people about our dogs but I also didn't want to be turned down.

In the end, I found a great pet friendly home in Glendale AZ. It even has a pet door. My dogs are not used to a pet door and quite frankly, I prefer to supervise their coming and going because I want to teach my dogs not to go through a door without permission. I need to know what they are doing outdoors, especially because this home has a pool. I don't have a high opinion of pet doors. I lump them in with Flexis. (I've got my flame suit on, just in case.) I also watch what my dogs do outdoors. I don't want them eating stuff they shouldn't and I also don't want them barking unwarranted. My dogs aren't used to living in a city so I wasn't sure what to expect. It will all be a new experience for all of us. Can't wait to get to Arizona!

20 December 2008

Tyro's travel anxiety

Having made the decision to spend January and February in Arizona and buying a new van, the plan included driving, rather than flying, and it also meant taking our dogs with us. However, we deliberated leaving Tyro behind with my good friend Joan White. Joan has dogsat Tyro several times. The reason for our indecision is that Tyro is not a good traveller. He wasn't always that way. For the first year of his life, he was fine in a car. Tyro and Sasha always went together in the car for their swims at Luv My K9's. But it was after we lost our Sasha that Tyro began to get anxious in a moving vehicle. He's fine when it's stopped but the motion now upsets him and after about 5 minutes sometimes, he starts to pant.

But two months is a long time to be separated and I knew it would be hard for Joan to give him up when we return. However, traveling for 4 days straight, about 9 hours/day over 2000 miles is a long time for a dog that is anxious. I had to find a solution. Rescue Remedy didn't work for him, nor did a prescription anti nausea medication. I had read in Dogs in Canada magazine about the therapeutic effects of lavender oil. The scent has a calming effect which may aid in relaxation and the reduction of anxiety. Also, lavender can be used to prepare for meditation because it balances mind and body, promoting a sense of stillness, according to Wikipedia. So I experimented with it on short trips. It worked! I couldn't believe it. A couple drops of lavender oil virtually stopped Tyro's panting. But, would it reduce his anxiety enough for 4 days of traveling? More in another post.

19 December 2008

New Vizslimo

Much of late November and December was spent looking for a new van. We had decided to venture to Arizona in search of better weather for January and February. Our (now former) 2000 Toyota Sienna racked up almost 240,000 km in the 6 years we had owned it; much of that mileage was traveling to/from dog shows. We didn't think this van would make it to and from Arizona from Ontario, Canada - the round trip is 7,200 KM or 4,470 miles - plus all the driving while in Arizona.

Like many dog-owning humans, we make many purchase decisions to accommodate our four-legged family companions. I go to a lot of dog shows and trials with multiple dogs so our vehicle has to have a lot of space to carry all the dog equipment.

It was a great time to buy a car because of the worsening economy. We decided to stick with the Toyota Sienna although we were tempted by the Honda Odyssey which has very good ratings and reviews. But the newer Siennas have a bit more cargo space than the Odysseys and we needed every extra inch of space we could get for this trip. Having traveled with dogs before, I know that their crates and other stuff take up most of the cargo area, living little extra for humans' luggage.

In the end, we got a good deal on a very low mileage, 2006 Sienna that was imported into Ontario from Florida. The body was rust-free as it hadn't been exposed to winter salt. It also has lots of features our old van didn't have, including stow-n-go rear seats, an automatic side door (that's really neat), and side windows that open - a real plus when you own dogs. Corrine Sellars who owns Milo, sent me this neat website http://www.dogcars.com/ to help you select a vehicle for dogs. The latest model got the paws up. I am thrilled with our new "Vizslimo".

18 December 2008

Puppy update - Quest and Piper, Dec. '08

Here are some recent shots of Quest and Piper from our last litter born June 16, 2008. Quest is still looking thin from some bug that he contracted but he's putting on weight again. These photos were taken at our last puppy class in mid-December.

I visited Piper and her family just before Christmas. Her owners, Cynthia & Greg, took these lovely shots of her with her holiday bells on. Piper is a very pretty girl, nice and compact, with lots of growing still to do.

16 December 2008

Chloe is a senior Vizsla

Chloe (Varazs Chloe's Spring Cantata) is out of our June 1997 litter. She will be turning 12 in June of 2009. Her owner, Lana Pavelick of Winnipeg Manitoba, sent me this recent photo of Chloe at Christmas time. I love the senior dogs. Chloe is just as pretty with white hair on her face as she was when she was younger. Thanks Lana for sending me this beautiful picture of Chloe.

15 December 2008

Kaiser takes Best of Breed!

On December 12 and 13, I had the priviledge of showing Blackbullet Jumpn Crackerjack aka "Kaiser", bred by Sherryanne Farr and Wes Daniels of Alberta Canada, at the Orangeville dog show in Ontario, Canada. Kaiser is actually 'family' to my dogs. His dad is Am/Can/Int'l CH Kizmar Touch of Evil JH, RA "Hudson" who sired our 2006 litter with CH Ferngold Varazs Innovation etc. "Nova". But Kaiser is also closely related to our dogs on his mom's side as he is a son of CH Blackbullet Varazs Legacy NAVHDA NA "Jewel" who is a daughter of CH Varazs On Point At Blackbullet "Amber", whom I sent to Sherryanne almost 11 years ago to become her foundation Vizsla bitch.

Kaiser's lovely family recently moved from Alberta to Ottawa, Ontario. Sherryanne asked if I would handle him as he still needs several points to finish his Cdn championship. I agreed and finally had the opportunity to meet Kaiser and his owner, Carey in December. Carey had done a fabulous job training him for the show ring so he was a delight to handle and he also has a fabulous temperament, just like his half-brother, Tyro, who is one of my dogs sired by CH Kizmar Touch of Evil JH, RA "Hudson".

There was only 1 other Vizsla entered on Saturday and Sunday and it was a champion. For Kaiser to pick up a point, he had to beat this Champion and take Best of Breed. Fortunately, that's what happened both days and so we added 2 more points to his tally. I think Kaiser is up to 5 points now. Next spring/summer, Carey and her husband will make the trek south from Ottawa for more dog shows and hopefully, we'll finish his championship.

7 December 2008

Lloyd's Ball(s)

On December 7, Lloyd's owners threw a party for him. The theme was "It's a Ball' to 'celebrate' his neuter surgery since Lloyd wasn't going to be used for breeding. Lloyd (CH Varazs Nyar Cigany) was born June 17, 2006 and is out of our Nova-Hudson breeding. The party was a fun idea, particularly as it was nearing the holiday season, and guests were encouraged to bring food items that were balls like meat balls, melon balls, etc. As it was so close to Christmas, candy prevailed as the foodstuff of preference to bring so needless to say, Kristi and Mike probably didn't need to buy anything sweet for the holidays. Lloyd's Christmas presents included a 'chuck-it' and door bells to ring when he needs to go (from his breeder mom) and a Bowser's Bed from his human grandparents.

Here's Lloyd.

"How come I'm here, and everyone else is indoors partying?"

The colours of Vizsla.

6 December 2008

VSO Booster show, Dec. 6, 2008

On December 6, 2008 I went to watch the Vizsla Society of Ontario's Vizsla Booster (supported entry) show. I was particularly curious to see the entries and what the judge would pick. The judge was Carmen Haller, a former Vizsla owner/handler whose dog, CH Vizsta's Royal Pacesetter
set many records in Canada in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Entered were 2 puppies, Reese and Dexter, that are half-brothers to my Miska-Ozzie litter, Ozzie (CH Hubertus Quality Control) an import from Australia being the sire of these puppies that were born 10 days before Miska's litter. Reese and Dexter just turned 6 months old and this was their first show; they were in the 6 to 9 month class. Carmen picked Reese as the winner of this class and then she picked him as her Winners' Dog and also Best of Opposite Sex over a male Special for 3 points! A very nice win for this young puppy at his very first show.

Here's a photo of Reese:

Here's a photo of Dexter:

For her Best of Breed and Group 4th, Carmen picked CH Gardenway Lienroc Beatrice an English import whose sire is Hungargunn Bear Itn Mind (Yogi), a very famous Vizsla in Australia and England. Carmen appeared to like the bone and substance of her BOB and WD/BOS.

And I was also delighted to see 11-year old CH Gardenway Celtic Breeze entered as a Veteran. Bree is the mother of my Nova and grandmother to my Miska and great-grand dam to our June 2008 litter. She was handled by Jr Handler, Erin Wilkes, Eileen Wilke's daughter.

5 December 2008

Susan Garrett's Puppy Camp, November 2008

I'm sure you're wondering what the heck happened to me & my dogs for the past 6 weeks? Well, lots; too much in fact which is why I didn't have time to update my blog.

At the end of November 2008, Diva and I were fortunate to attend a 3-day Puppy Camp at Susan Garrett's Say Yes training facility. This is the second time I've been. Two years ago I took Tyro when he was a puppy. The great thing about Susan's workshops is that she is always learning and passing on her new knowledge, experiences, and ideas to others. Although there was lots of information that was 'old hat' for me, it was still a good review and refresher. Much of her theory is based on operant conditioning and the work of Bill Bailey whose DVD's I bought a year ago from Clean Run. And Susan really emphasizes motivation and building a relationship with your dog. "Work is play and play is work." is one her well-known phrases that I have memorized to heart.

Of course, for Diva who wasn't quite 6 months of age, the workshop experience was all new. Much of the first day was spent in the classroom but days 2 and 3 were a lot of activity with handlers and their dogs. You'd think that 3 solid days would be enough time to cover everything, watch Susan demo, and practice lots but it wasn't. We really could have used 2 more days but since this camp is for puppies, the puppies were quite exhausted at the end of it, as were many humans. Nevertheless, I found it very energizing and worth while and was so glad I had the opportunity to attend. After training with Susan and her assistants, the one thing I will say is that it makes it impossible for me to go back to training with 'traditional' trainers but perhaps more about that in a future post.

4 December 2008

Susan Garrett's Blog

Susan Garrett has a Blog and I'm going to add it to my "Other Woof Stuff" list on my Blog but just want to draw your attention to it with this post. Here's the link. http://susangarrett.wordpress.com/

For those who aren't familiar with Susan Garrett, she's one of the world's foremost dog trainers & agility competitors and she happens to live in Ontario, Canada - about 45 minutes from where I live (I am so lucky!!). When I attend classes, workshops, camps at her school, I have to sign a waiver saying that I will absolutely NOT use any force or corrections - verbal or physical - on my dogs or I will be kicked out (those are my words but that is the gist of her waiver). The use of NO FORCE / CORRECTIONS is the important point in her training program because it means you have to think about how to set your dog up for learning and success. It also means that there is no "one way" or a single method to train your dog because she by and large uses shaping - which I have also adopted for my dogs.

Here's a link to a post she wrote about the Puppy Camp that Diva and I attended in November 2008.