Saturday, July 26, 2008

Our New Therapy Dog

Wilbon's Katie Scarlett O'Hara CGC TDI
Katie took the Therapy Dog test today and she passed! Hooray!!! I was so proud of her. I won't say she passed with flying colors because a bit of her wild child side did show itself and she also slimed the evaluator ;-) Her main difficulty was walking on a loose lead. Mostly she did great, but she got a little distracted sometimes by all of the other dog smells that were in the room. Everyone thought she was very sweet though and commented on how gorgeous she is. She did beautifully on the sit, down, stay and recall. I was a bit worried about the recall because on her way to me she had to pass about three feet in front of a dog that was not friendly. She didn't even look in that dog's direction, but came straight to her mama and did a perfect "front" sit.

The test includes the following:

1) Accepting a friendly stranger

2) Sitting politely for petting

3) Appearance and Grooming - the evaluator inspects the dog, lightly brushes it, and examines its ears and feet

4) Walk on a loose lead

5) Walk through a crowd

6) Sit, Down & Stay

7) Coming when called

8) Reaction to another dog

9) Reaction to distractions - the instructor knocked a walker over; Katie completely ignored it

10) Supervised Separation - I left her with the evaluator for 3 minutes

11) Say hello to people including children

12) Leave it

13) Comfort around medical equipment - such as walkers & wheelchairs

14) Acclimation to infirmities

Now that Katie is a therapy dog I have to figure out what we want to volunteer for. I should get a packet in the mail soon telling me what opportunities are available in our area. I'm hoping for a children's reading program...stay tuned for the adventures of Katie the Therapy Dog.

(Gary made a little movie of us getting ready for the official photo)

While We Were Taking the Therapy Dog Test...

Louis tried his best to find us. He even busted through some fencing to get to try to get to us. Poor little sweetie doesn't like to be left behind. He seemed to think that if he stood with his nose right on the gate opening long enough we might magically return.

Gary called him downstairs so he wouldn't be alone. I love watching his little puppy body wiggling down the stairs.

When I played this video earlier Louis heard Gary's recorded voice saying "Louie Come" so he got up from his spot in the sunroom and walked right over to Gary in the kitchen. Gary gave him a treat for being so obedient to the video voice :-)

Do You Think They Love Each Other? :-)

Our Snuggle Bugs

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thoughts About Louis as He Turns 6 Months Old

Our baby Louie is growing up so fast. He has been home for just under four months. In that short amount of time he has become a dear friend to me, Katie and Gary. Louie is so generous with his love and affection. It's difficult for me to express how much I have grown to love this giant cuddlebug. Our bond is still forming, but it is already so strong. When I look at his sweet face, touch his velvety soft head, or just listen to him breathing I feel a warm glow of peace in my soul.

Louis loves to take care of his "pack". He always makes sure that his sister's ears are clean. He grooms me and Gary with licks and gentle nibbles with his tiny front teeth. It's almost like he is trying to pick imaginary fleas off of our skin because his teeth don't bite us they just ever so gently graze the surface of our skin. I am fairly tickleish...he sometimes makes me squeal, but I try to be still while he completes his task. Louis also takes care of us by alerting us all to any potential dangers. Around the age of 4 1/2 months old he began developing an excellent intuition about our environment. If anything is amiss Louis will be sure to let us know (if his vigilant big sister doesn't beat him to it).

Studies have been done that say your overall happiness level doesn't change when you add a child to your family. This never rang true to me although perhaps it is true for some people. Personally, my happiness level increased immensely when Katie came home and increased yet again when Louie joined our family. Gary and Katie seem happier also with the addition of our youngest pack member. I am amazed every day by how much these precious creatures enrich our lives. It's fascinating to me that 6 and 20 month old Newfies have become a couple of my greatest teachers. The most important lesson they constantly remind me of is to live in the present moment.

Comic Book Characters

I was goofing around with Photo Booth on my Mac last night and took these pictures of me and Louis as Comic Book characters. My black puppy doesn't show up very well, but I still thought they were fun pictures.

Plus a little pop art thrown in for good measure.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Conformation Tool

Photobucket5/26/11: Revision to post: Originally this post had a picture of a homemade conformation tool that we made out of scrap lumber to train our Newfoundland dog Louie's legs to stay in the proper stance in the show ring. Back in 2009 the creator of a product called HappyLegs (click the link to the left to go to her site) contacted me to tell me I was infringing on her patent by posting the picture. I am still not convinced that I did anything wrong by posting a picture of Louie standing on a tool that we made for our own personal use. However, since the creator of that tool was very confrontational about my original post, I honored her wishes and took down the picture of Louie. I will say that I have seen her Happy Legs in person and she has created quite a lovely tool that would last you for a lifetime of dog shows. If we were showing more than one pet dog we may have chosen to invest a couple of hundred dollars in her tool which is much easier to use and adjust than our clunky tool that we made literally from garbage. Her concern was that she thought we were trying to sell this product which is total b.s. My original post, which I have archived, said nothing whatsoever about selling any version of her product. In fact, we have never sold anything on this blog and have never even placed a single ad on it. Can you tell even 2 years after she contacted me that I am still a bit ticked off about this?

Here is another choice for people looking for a less expensive option: Steponz These are much more cheaply made than Happy Legs. I think they are overpriced for what they are, but if you can't afford to spend $200 and don't have a handy husband to make your own this might be a good option for you.

And here is a link that shows a homemade set that a woman's husband made for her. This one looks to be quite professionally made.

Now back to the original post...

The picture at the top is Louie in his first fun match at 3 months old making GooGoo eyes at the judge. He won best in Working Group that day.

We have no expectations of Louie completing his championship, but who knows what might happen. Our main goal is to go to some shows and have fun. but I do believe that showing is somehow in Louie's blood. When he gets in the ring he just turns on the charm and has a fabulous time. Louie seems to take after his greatgrandfather Josh in the charisma department.

Here is a little video of Louie's GreatGrandFather...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blissful Grooming Session

Thankfully, Katie and Louis both love to be groomed...a good thing since Newfies require A LOT of brushing, trimming, raking, combing, etc. along with all of the standard dog grooming steps like brushing their teeth, cleaning their ears and trimming their nails (we use a dremmel to grind the large Newfie nails down). I started putting them on the grooming table when they first came home around 10 weeks old and I know their breeder groomed them a lot when they were really young. Starting early helps them transition easily into the hundreds of hours of grooming that they will experience during their lives.

Chillin' out during a grooming session

How many 5 1/2 month old puppies could be this good for a grooming session? Louis is such an awesome baby.

Mr. Louie the Cutie

Time to tidy up the ears.
(customized corner of the grooming table courtesy of Katie when she was a teething pup)

Double Decker

Katie's Turn

"Mama, I am pretty enough."

Our Sweet Newfies

Beautiful Miss Katie
Me and the Kids

Conformation Practice

Gary and Louis got their first chance to practice their conformation skills together with some other dog show people at our breeders' house last Sunday. They still have a lot of training ahead of them, but this was a good start.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Downtown Newfies

Yesterday morning the four of us went downtown to visit the new pedestrian bridge and the Farmer's Market. We went early before it got too hot, but the heat still chased us away pretty quickly. At least Katie and Louis got a chance to get lots of love from strangers and brighten the lives of everyone they came in contact with. The effect they have on people is amazing. Even though they are big dogs (even baby Louis is 74 pounds already) most people take one look at their faces and just know they are sweet.
Louis made his own little pond to lay in by purposely spilling his water bowl repeatedly.

Katie waiting patiently while her Dad has a long conversation about Newfs with a very inquisitive person.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pesto: A Hallmark of Summer

Summer is my least favorite season mainly because of the heat and the mosquitoes, but it still has many redeeming qualities like swimming, cookouts, watermelon and pesto :-) This week we received a half pound of fresh, locally grown, organic basil from our community supported agriculture program. One of the farmers commented to me that some people don't even take their share because they don't know what to do with so much basil. Apparently they haven't heard of pesto.

I doubled the below recipe to make enough for 4 batches. Pesto freezes well, so I froze three cups and used the other one for dinner tonight. Gary and I agreed that it was scrumptious. I put it on top of organic whole wheat pasta. It's also great on rice, or you can combine it with mayo to make a delicious sauce for fish.


By: The Silver Palate Cookbook, modified by Charity

2 cups Fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
5 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

1) Coarsely chop walnuts in food processor

2) Add garlic and basil and combine well

3) Add olive oil in slow stream with food processor running

4) Add cheese, salt and pepper and process briefly to combine

Makes 2 cups (enough for 2 pounds of pasta)

Ground Level Newfs

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Story of the Sinister Sprinkler

At about 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning Katie, Louis and I were in the middle of our usual walk when Katie suddenly bolted. She was still attached to me by a leash and a pinch collar. I don't even think she felt the pinch collar through all of the hair on her neck and through her apparent terror over some unknown threat, but without it I probably would have been dragged on my face down the sidewalk with Louis in tow. I had just switched back to her pinch collar a few days ago when I noticed that there had recently been an explosion in the rabbit population. I feared for the safety of myself, Katie and Louis as she likes to go after the little critters and wouldn't hesitate to pull us in front of a car to do so. My point is that normally her pinch collar works, but yesterday it was just one step above worthless. After galloping for half a block she calmed down and resumed walking. I always like to make the dogs face these types of fears, so that we can live life without having to be worried about specific objects. I turned all three of us around and headed back towards the scary object. After looking around in my neighbors' yards trying to determine what could have scared Katie so badly, I spotted the John Deere tractor sprinkler shown in the above picture. It was the only thing that didn't seem familiar. I grabbed a couple of dog biscuits out of my bag and headed towards the sprinkler determined to do a "check it"to help Miss Katie conquer her fear. I got about 10 feet away from it where it was barely sprinkling on us and was about to start the exercise when Katie suddenly whipped around and started heading away from it. The grass was wet so I slipped and twisted my knee as I fell down . The pain was excruciating. I couldn't move or even open my eyes. All I could do was sit on the wet ground biting my lower lip and gripping one leash in each hand as the sprinkler soaked all of us. Finally, the initial pain subsided and I stood up. I was surprised to find that I could still walk on my wounded knee. It didn't even hurt that badly although I could feel it swelling. I limped home with my legs stinging from being covered in grass clippings. I'm highly allergic to grass so it felt like bugs were biting me all the way home. After I took a bath and put some ice on my knee I felt much better. My knee is still sore, but I think the ice really helped to reduce the impact of the injury.

Yesterday evening was a bit cooler than usual so I left Louis at home with Gary and took Katie to face the sprinkler again. This time we approached very slowly and spent about 10 minutes getting comfortable with it. It was so strange to see my 108 pound dog on her tiptoes cautiously leaning forward to sniff the sprinkler. This morning when we walked by the same house she was in high alert mode, but she didn't bolt. I made her and Louis do some sit stays 20 feet away from the sprinkler and after a few minutes she relaxed.

I don't know why Katie picks strange objects to be afraid of, but I am hoping that with more and more exposure she will eventually get past this. This scary sprinkler was unusual because normally Katie can get over most fears within 10 seconds after we begin a check it exercise. Also, she has seen lots other sprinklers that she wasn't at all afraid of and she often enjoys playing in them. Why she was afraid of this one probably will remain a mystery to me.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Katie Finally Learns to Fetch

We have occasionally tried to get our 20 month old Newfoundland, Katie, interested in playing fetch, but she always looked at us like we had lost our minds. "Why should I run after that ball? Ok, I'll run after it. I've got it now, why would I want to give it back to you when I just went through all the trouble to go get it?"

When I bought her a special Newfie sized squeaking tennis ball she suddenly decided that fetching is fun. Here she is on the 4th of July in her grandparent's yard playing fetch for real for the first time ever. I think we had just as much fun as she did. We were so lucky that a cold front moved in late Friday afternoon which rapidly dropped the temperature from 90 to 70 degrees otherwise we wouldn't have been able to play outside at all.

[Note: We don't let our Newfs play with regular sized tennis balls because of the danger of them getting lodged in their large Newf sized throats.]

Interception by Louis the Wonder Puppy

Little Newf brother Louis decides he wants to get in on the fetch action.

Katie Wants to Save Daddy From the Pool

Every time Gary goes to the diving board Katie performs a ritual of walking in front of him across the diving board before he jumps. She seems to be trying to persuade him not to do it. After each dive she runs to make sure her Daddy is ok. I wonder if he started drowning if she would jump in? My guess is YES.

Up Close and Personal With Katie the Newf

Katie showing off her beautiful adolescent Newfie self and her new tennis ball (guest appearance by little brother Louis).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Louis Precycles

Before we put anything into our recycling bin we usually give it to Louis first to play with. He enjoys playing with cardboard, paperboard and plastic bottles. He helps us in this way with the "Reuse" portion of our efforts to be kinder to the environment. Louis likes to be helpful in anyway he can :-) After he gets bored with these "toys" they go into our recycle bin.

Goofy Newfy

Louis is showing off one of his many talents: being a goofball.

Who Me?

He STILL thinks he can fit under the desk with Katie.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

George W. Almost Made Me Late for Dog School...

Tuesday evenings are always very hectic for me. I have to rush home from work, grab something to eat, brush the dogs, and be out the door with Gary, Katie and Louis by 6:30. Yesterday on my way home from work I found myself in a traffic jam. A big SUV was in front of me, so I couldn't see what was happening. As soon as the traffic crawled forward a bit I turned down a side street to try to circumvent the jam. I travelled down the side street unimpeded and made a right turn to begin heading for home. I was feeling a bit smug that I had escaped from the mess until I approached an intersection where a police car was in the middle of the road blocking traffic from both directions. I heard a helicopter and looked up through my sunroof to see a police helicopter flying right over my car. I began to get a little scared thinking that there must be a criminal in the area that they were trying to track down. I quickly checked to make sure my car doors were locked. Then I noticed a man across the street from me get out of his car and speak to the police officer standing in the middle of the road. When the police officer didn't tell him to get back in his car I relaxed thinking it must not be a dangerous situation. Everyone was staring down the cross street and a couple with their baby in a carriage were briskly moving toward a scene that I assumed must be quite riveting. I realized we weren't going to be moving anytime soon so I got out of my car. The officer excitedly told me, "President Bush is down there. You can walk over there if you want to." I did move in that direction with only the intention of trying to ascertain when the traffic might be granted permission to proceed forward again. I saw the back of Bush which was more that I needed to see. I headed back to my car complaining loudly about the fact that George W was making me late for school. A kind hearted lady heard me and said that she is a Dean at UALR and she would make sure I was excused from class. I laughingly explained that I was referring to dog school, while feeling secretly pleased that she mistook me for a college student. She and I ended up having a lovely conversation about dog training which was a great distraction from the criminal that was indeed walking the streets of our neighborhood.