December 6, 2007

Lizzie witha ball

Lizzie with her ball- she’s very, very prey-driven and LOVES chasing and killing her ball and tug toys….


Oops.. Bad blogger!

December 5, 2007

Lizzie has been home nearly two weeks and I *still* haven’t posted pictures. However, I just dropped off four rolls of film at the drug store, so there should be some tonight. Lizzie had her puppy eye check today and everything was normal (Yay, and thank you Dr. Paulsen for being very quick and very complimentary of her nice manners, evne if I *do* think she was lulling you into a false sense of security and planning something awful for you for having the TERMINITY to shine LIGHTS in her EYES…) Housebreaking is going great, as is crate training, and she’s been on best behavior here at the office in her crate as well.

We’ll be starting puppy K with Jan Webster (PetSMART regional director) in two weeks and puppy agility with Bonnie at Paws For Applause Agility at the first of the year. Lizzie is doing very well with her basic obedience and has learned sit, touch-targeting a hand or a target stick, and is working on down. She’s finishd the first level of Sue Ailsby’s “Training Levels” program and her profile and training info can be viewed on the Training Levels tracker. Blog posts will be mirrored over there.

Lizzie is home!

November 25, 2007

(Crossposted to TrainingLevelsblog)

I picked Lizzie up from her breeder’s house at 4PM on Saturday afternoon with my friend Lindsay in tow (to hold the crate/supervise puppy) while I drove back to the house. After a brief detour at Petsmart (my ‘ultralite’ lead turned out to be too heavy- the leash itself is fine, but the clip is too heavy-and we didn’t find anything better, so I’m using Malcolm’s show lead right now), we made it home about 6.

Did introductions to Malcolm (my smooth collie) and Grady (Lindsay’s Dalmatian service dog, who is exceptionally kind with puppies) which went very well. Lizzie is a brave little soul and COMPLETELY fearless when it comes to taking things away from Malcolm…. She pulled his favorite toy (a stuffed sheep which has long since lost it’s innards) through the babygate and took it into her crate- quite a feat, as it’s as large as she is!(As she should be, he’s a marshmallow, and I give it about 3 days before she has him entirely pwned from the far side of the baby gate.) She’s okay with picking up metal items (I bent a spoon into a loop for her but it’s really heavy- I need to just go ahead and order scent articles for her.)

Because of the weather, her coat, and the currently FLOODED state of my greenway (as in, 6″ of standing, very cold water), I picked up some puppy pads tonight. I’ve never had to use paper pads before, but it’s that or concrete- there’s a blocked storm drain at the end of the greenway that should be cleared by tomorrow but there’s water tonight and I seriously doubt that the maintenance guys will show up on Sunday of a holiday weekend… I called Mom’s garden supplier guy and he’s going to try and find me a sheet of sod to put on the patio as well but I don’t know how likely that is, coming into winter here. Lizzie is not thrilled about the puppy pads and refuses to use them in the house, but is okay with them on the patio (with a sprinkling of potting soil on top. Apparently dirt is okay, but paper is not. Funny girl. At least it’s dry dirt! I may use a box with sod in it, sort of like a giant litterbox on the porch, if this rain keeps up. Oh well. Benefits of a 4# puppy, I guess.

She cried a little in the kennel on the ride home but settled down quite well once we got back to the house- and she wasn’t carsick at all. She’s woken up twice since I put her to bed at 10 and asked to go out. The first time she went right back to sleep (it’s been a big day!) but this time she’s working on a nylabone in her crate. I suspect she’ll need to poop soon- she only peed the other times- and then I”ll turn in for the night.

Pictures soon- she’s super-cute and loves to tug and is just brave and confident and pushy and WONDERFUL.

Just a few more weeks!

November 20, 2007

Lizzie will be coming home at the end of the month and I’m so excited. Her eye exam is scheduled for December 5th at the Animal Eye Clinic in Arlington, and she’ll be starting puppy obedience in January and handling class in February (more for me than her, I’ve never had a dog that didn’t figure out the whole conformation thing in short order, but *I* am not so sharp- and even if I never show her due to the markings, I figure the practice will be good for me.) The puppy crate and baby gate have been set up for a week now in the kitchen to accustom Malcolm to staying out of there, and I’ve even found the MOST adorable collar and lead. 😛 It’s dark brown with a cream overlay with dark mauve-y pink flowers and green leaves on it. And yes, any readers from GSWorld- I *did* buy her a raincoat. 😛 But only for photos. Bwhaha. I live to humiliate my dogs. I’m pretty sure you will be able to hear Malcolm’s calls of “WOE! WOOOOOOE. COLLIE ABUSE!” from space on Sunday when I take our annual holiday card photos, as he is being forced to wear a scarf and Santa hat. Lizzie is escaping this year’s photos on account of the fact that if I wait till she’s home to take them, I won’t get them mailed until new year’s.

How I Choose A Breed

August 19, 2007

Choosing a breed is a really important part of picking the right dog for your family. Energy level, grooming requirements, personality traits- all of that plays a big role. Unfortunately, a lot of people get caught up on an aesthetic trait- and there’s nothing WRONG with that, but you have to also be realistic about your own capabilities when it comes to exercising and training a dog. So this post is really about how *I* chose the breed, and MY requirements.
I had a really long list of requirements, too. 🙂

The mental- smart, trainable, not TOO barky (something on the order of a collie was okay, but a sheltie would make me nuts), not too independent but not too clingy, either. Stubborn was fine, as was creative, to a degree- I wasn’t looking for a push-button dog, but I also wanted a dog who wanted to work with me and would find it rewarding (along with food) to be in my presence- some corgi girls deign to give you their attention once in a while but can be REALLY hard to motivate for that reason. I didn’t want a dog that would be innately difficult to train for reliability offleash outdoors (which ruled out beagles and most of the nothern breeds) since the dogs are offleash a lot at our family farm which has perimeter fencing, but the interior fencing isn’t all (or even mostly) dog proof, and finding a dog on 2000 acres, 1/2 of that thick, scrubby bush? No fun. Basically? I wanted something similar to my corgi and my collie in personality and drive- a blend of the two would be perfect. And while I don’t mind prey drive, I wanted a dog who could live peacably with other pets, including small animals, and this ruled out most of the terriers.

The physical- I wanted a healthy breed with a natural look and not too many major health issues. I wanted a dog big enough and sturdy enough to play with Malcolm (10″ was my minimum height, and 12# my minimum weight- these were based on a dog I was fostering, a Chihuahua mix, who played VERY well with him) but not taller than 20″ at the shoulder, and preferably towards the smaller end of that. Since most breeds in that height range are shown on the table in the breed ring, I wanted a dog that typically weighs less than 30 pounds, the maximum I’m comfortable lifting frequently on and off a grooming table. This last requirement ruled out another Cardigan Corgi.

The aesthetic and purely shallow things- I wanted a natural-looking breed without too extreme grooming requirements for the show ring, preferably with erect ears. (Yes, it’s shallow, but I like them.) I wanted at least a double-coated dog like my Corgi but a dog with a bit more coat would be great too, as long as it wasn’t so long that it dragged the ground. I preferred a breed which came in multiple colors, and despite this requirement, came very close to putting down a deposit for an American Eskimo puppy- but in the end, decided to keep looking. I don’t mind fluff drying, but I’m not a good enough groomer to prepare something that needs extensive scissoring for the show ring, like a poodle. Oh, and I wanted a clean face- no beards to gather gunk- this took out the Tibetan Terrier, a breed which a friend owns and has been successful with.

The practical- I wanted a breed that wasn’t dominated by professional handlers in the show ring. (There went the shelties!) It didn’t have to be an AKC breed as long as I could show it with UKC or another real kennel club. That said, I wanted a breed that wasn’t OPPOSED to AKC registration so that hopefully it would eventually become AKC recognized and open up another venue for dog sports- by far the largest one in my area, where we have relatively few UKC shows. I also wanted a breed with a large enough gene pool that if I *did* fall in love and want to breed someday, it’d be feasible. (which removed the Alaskan Klee Kai from consideration) And along with that, I wanted a breed that I’d be comfortable placing in a wide variety of living environments if I did breed- a breed that could be a good family dog, performance dog, show dog, companion, and possibly even small service dog (hearing, psychiatric, seizure alert, etc.).

After sifting through every breed book I owned (including several from the UK and Australia), reading most of the United Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, and Canadian Kennel Club websites, and talking the problem to death with my best friend, and getting to meet a number of breeds I’d never really considered, I finally settled on a breed- the German Spitz (Mittel).