Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Don't stop believin'!!

Look at that amazing dog and my simply brilliant skeleton pants!! 
This has all been quite a crazy couple of years for me - Nari getting so sick she can't even walk to making a recovery and running agility faster than ever!! She's like a puppy now - screaming at me, demanding walks even after she had spent an hour at the agility field. There's an amazing artist that lives a few hours from me and she created this special harness tag for Nari - I thought a winged-unicorn was appropriate for Nari because she's pretty much the most amazing being ever she might as well be a winged-unicorn :) 

Nari's kick-ass agility harness tag 

I was so crazy excited that not only was Nari able to get back to agility back in April of this year but she even qualified for Nationals AND earned byes into the semifinals for both Grand Prix and Steeplechase!! And that little amazing girl almost made the finals - she was fast and speedy but a teeter fault kept us out of Grand Prix and a pause to scratch burs stuck on her ear kept us out of Steeplechase but she tried her hardest and was simply amazing! 

I finally put together a highlight video of her runs - enjoy! 

I have some exciting ideas on what we can do in 2016 - so we will see what next year brings us :) 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Big weekend for the Battlestar!!

Battlestar had a big (and busy) weekend! Which meant that I had a very busy weekend...

First up Saturday morning was family pictures at the studio for our annual Christmas cards. The always amazing Julie Poole had her yearly benefit for the local animal shelter so we headed over to her studio around 9 am (40 min drive) with the crew. After about 45 minutes of craziness - Battlestar kept trying to get everyone to chase her so we put a show lead on to get her to finally stay still - pictures were done.

We all headed home, I grabbed lunch and then packed up Starbuck, Nari and Battlestar again and drove to the local agility trial (30 min drive) and the girls got massages. I heard that they were doing CGC tests at the show so I signed Battlestar up and she passed her CGC test!! I drove 30 mins back home - proudly told my husband that Battlestar passed her CGC test which her promptly started laughing at as she ran around the house trying to be a jerk and herd everyone while barking ever so shrilly and loudly.... :)

Starbuck demonstrating the tough life of a canine athlete!!

Nari thinks that massages aren't all that bad - as long as she can occasionally yell and kick the masseuse :) 

Battlestar looking awfully cute while watching her sister get a massage 
Then - packed up the car yet again (this time with all 4 girls) and drove 3 hours to Nashville that evening for a Sunday agility trial. The girls of course had lots of hotel time fun. Sunday I ran all 4 girls in a small trial and they all had a blast!! Battlestar, Alpha and Starbuck all had 3 runs and Nari only had 2 so she was throwing a bloody fit in the car and practically trying to throw herself out of the car whenever I opened the crate door - then screaming when it was her turn to run :) I missed that so much while she was sick - it's so good to have her back :)

The big news of the weekend is that Battlestar is getting better at trials!!! This one was really small with not so many distractions so she didn't freak out on course :) I think she had a great time - she started blowing her startline stays due to excitement and not fear so that is very very good! Hopefully someday we will both get our act together and be able to run at bigger venues.

I feel like that song is very appropriate for us :) I have endured many 'Battle wounds' and even some 'Battle scars' with this girl - she's taught me a lot and kind of makes me want to punch anyone who says that training shelties is easy... but damn she's an awesome dog and hella fast! :) 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Getting ready for the holidays - who wore it best? :)

We're getting the house ready for Christmas! I pulled out the trees last night and threw on some ornaments. Battlestar and I picked up a cute little Santa hat that's just her size. Battle is crazy happy dog - always willing to do whatever I'm doing even if it involves her posing next to Santa Rex and wearing a hat :)

The Klee Kai on the other hand detest wearing any clothing at all. Here is Starbuck showing how depressing Christmas can be with a hat! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Busy, busy holiday times!

Feels like Christmas now that Santa T-Rex has made his appearance
Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!! The girls loved their Thanksgiving. I took them to the local agility field and they each got some one on one time with me and then roamed the several acre field in a cute little pack :) They really enjoy their field time - Battle loves to run around and bark her fool head off and the Klee Kai try to find the nastiest dead/decaying thing and roll around in it....

My husband and I had steak this year and the girls had turkey - everyone was quite happy with the Thanksgiving goodies.

I was slacking off on the decorating but did manage to put together our Christmas T-Rex - trees and lights will hopefully go up later this week.

Don't you dare get in the way of Nari and her walkies... 
Meanwhile... we've been dealing with a ton of rain the past couple of days which means that Nari is SUPER PISSED off that she doesn't get her daily walkies.... I've been getting this death stare accompanied by constant squeaking. Then she'll take a break to go beat up our walking shoes while screaming... seriously pissed of Nar!! The look above was after she had been on a 1+ hour hike, agility at the field then an hour long chase/play session with the pack at the field but she was denied her even walk because I am apparently the meanest person on the planet :)

Friday, November 6, 2015

More pictures from Cynosport World Games!

I didn't take many pictures form the 2015 Cynosport World Games this year (USDAA's national agility competition) but here are a few from the event. 

Oh, Starbuck - always looking like a silly goof during pictures. I absolutely love that about her! 
I designed team shirts for Starbuck's team, 'Turbo Boost for Starbuck's Journey', this year. Her teammates where Journey and Boost. I love the way they turned out! Sadly, we did not get team pictures - just too crazy. 

Front of the shirt - left side.

This is the design on the back of the shirts. I drew the picture and found someone to print them. 

The happy sisters on one of our many walks around the site. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy (belated) Halloween!!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween weekend. The girls enjoyed a nice long hike and took naps while I handed out candy and my old note cards from grad school :) We have a lot of science loving kids in our area so a few were actually excited to get them.

About half of my note cards waiting to go to their new homes! 

I still had hundreds of notecards left over so I started burning some of the leftovers last night - it was quite relaxing watching those suckers burn :) 

After closer inspection - I noticed that as the years went by my notecards got more colorful. Apparently I only used the glitter pens for my class notes and not my notecards :) 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

5 Years Time.... and Starbuck goes to the 2015 USDAA Cynosport World Games!

I'll make this post quick....

Last week was the 2015 USDAA Cynosport World Games and both Starbuck and Nari got to play :) Some people may remember the early days of Starbuck's agility career - some running out of the ring, doing what she wanted, 'bucking' around :) Well - little Starbuck is all grown up now and she got to run in the team event as well as in the Steeplechase semifinals AND the Grand Prix semifinals!!

She was oh so very close to making the Grand Prix Finals - I learned the hard way what the teeter rules are :( but she was fast and happy and had a blast.

Enjoy Starbuck's video from Cynosport:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Halloween madness!!!

My birthday is November 2nd so I've always had Hallween birthday parties - making Halloween my favorite holiday!! So I've been known to get a little too excited over Halloween decorations :)

I came across some skeleton dogs at Costco a little while ago (they have red glowing eyes) and that started the current madness :) Then I found out that there's going to be a Halloween decoration contest at the upcoming national agility competition so things are starting to get crazy!

I've decided to go with a 'Day of the Dead' theme this year so here's a sneak peak for now and I may just be posting some random pictures in the next few weeks :) The skeletons come plain and I've been painting them and making little hats. 

Conviently, Alpha is the same size as these little guys so her coats fit them :) 

And here's a close up so you can see the eyes. 

Anyone else out there crazy about Halloween?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The story of the come back kids!!

The sisters with some of their bling!
We drove the whole gang out to Kansas for the USDAA Central Regional Championships this weekend. It was a LONG car ride but the girls love traveling so much that they just slept the whole time in their crates - they are very good little travelers!

The girls have been through a lot - Starbuck had troubles staying in the ring when we first started trialing and Nari had been sick for so very long so my only goals were to make sure we all had fun. WOW did they exceed my expectations because not only did we all have a blast the girls even made it on the podium!!!

Starbuck - Steeplechase Champion!!

Nari - 3rd place Regional Grand Prix
Nari has just started getting back into shape and trialing and not only was she able to compete again but she qualified for Cynosports!!!! I can't believe this is happening - it's been like a dream to have her back to her happy, energetic self again.

Nari - Top Overall Individual 14" dog - think she placed something like 3rd or 4th overall out of ~140 dogs!!
Both girls managed picking up semifinalist byes for Steeplechase AND Grand Prix!! Starbuck took 4th in Grand Prix and Nari took 5th in Steeplechase (her time was faster but she faulted the A-frame).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Happy (belated) Shark Week!!

Shark Week was a big deal here a few weeks ago because Nari got a new cave bed!! Hope everyone had a wonderful Shark Week :) 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

DIY Saturday! Emergency IDs for car crates

Happy Saturday!!! This is a very rare Saturday for me as I have absolutely nothing planned and it feels pretty weird. So today I decided that I would finally make up IDs for the Variocage I have in my car. Since it varies which dogs are in the car with me I wanted something that was very easy to put on the crate to make it obvious which dog(s) I have with me. The Variocage has metal doors so I thought magnets would work quite well.

Here are the supplies you'll need:
1. Plain sheet of thin magnetic material. I found one at a local craft store for $4. 
2. Sheet of clear single-sided laminate - office supply stores carry these. 
3. Spray adhesive
4. IDs - you can find templates for free online. There are several out there. I used this one: http://dogandcatid.com but I may try to make my own as this one turned my high-res photos to pretty low-res when I printed it. 

As for instructions - just spray the adhesive onto the magnetic sheet, place on the paper IDs and cover with a clear sheet of laminate. Pretty simple and cheap. I like that I'll be able to store the IDs I'm not using inside the little metal flap on the Variocage doors. 

As for tips on what to put on the emergency ID cards - I will always warn that my dogs may be frightened in case of accident, Nari hates other dogs so I put that on her ID, I also guarantee vet costs/reward and never put the microchip number. That number is something I don't make public as it's something that helps me to prove I'm they're caretaker. 

I also have this magnet on my bumper that I got from a fundraiser. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nari goes Rhode Island!!

We're in the final stretch now to try and pick up some qualifying scores so that Nari can run at Cynosports this year - we were cutting it close with only a few trials left and of course they had to be Regional Championships where it's harder to qualify at. Luckily we had some great help from Nari's friends and she picked up the Qs she needed to run in the DAM, Steeplechase and Grand Prix tournaments at Cynosports this year!!!

Here are a few highlights from the New England Regional Championships that were held all the way up in Rhode Island (Nari's first time being in Rhode Island).

We had a great time at the event - it was really well run, great turf and everyone there was so very friendly!!! As an added highlight - she got to run in both the Steeplechase and Grand Prix finals and picked up another Steeplechase bye and took 5th place!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Feeling lost....

Dr. D giving the girls some treats :)

Nari and Battlestar waiting to get in to the vet's office - they love going to the vet!

We have the most amazing vet in the world - Dr. Donna Raditic. She saved Alpha's life when her kidney's failed, gave Alpha the ability to do agility and run around like a normal dog when many vets told us it was impossible, helped Nari get through a wicked case of mange and help prepare me for living with a super canine athlete like Battlestar. She was always there for us whenever we needed her and helped keep me sane while Nari was super sick and always was there to coach me before a big competition. Sadly she is moving away and I am not sure what to do now - I feel completely lost. She taught me a lot about rehab, first aid, how to deal with little crazy canine athletes so she has done a good job to prepare me for her move but I still feel lost.

Some of us are getting together to celebrate with her tonight so it will be great to see her but it will still be quite sad. She said no gifts but I'll be giving her a framed picture of her with the girls along with Alpha's first title ribbon and a charm that has a short recording of the girls. Dr. D always loved to talk to Nari so I hope she'll like having that with her :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sister Steeplechase Semifinalists!

Nari and Starbuck posing with their SF Bye ribbons :)

Well the sisters, Starbuck and Nari, went to the USDAA Southeastern Regionals earlier this month. Nari is still getting back into the hang of trialing again and she is LOVING it! Both girls ran great! Nari picked up a DAM team Q which she really needed for Cynosports. And for the very first time this year the girls made it to the finals round of Steeplechase! We've never made it to the Steeplechase finals before but this year both girls made it :) Starbuck was a super star and also made it into the GP finals round. Here's a video of Starbuck and Nari running in Round 1 and also the Finals.

We had some VERY LONG days - we woke up around 4:30 am so that we could make it to the site in time for the 6 am walk throughs - that's right, 6 am walk throughs! It was good practice for Cynosports. The girls were entered in the local events on Thursday so we ended up leaving on Wednesday evening so that I didn't have to make the 5+ hour drive all on Thursday morning.

Starbuck ended up being pretty tight in the rear on Sunday - she was a little slower than normal in the Steeplechase finals so I'm glad we found the cause. Luckily the girls had their favorite massage therapist to take care of them :)

Hard life - getting treats and massages :)

I was so excited with how well we did - both girls even picked up byes into the semifinals round for Cynosports this year!!!

Some very tired sisters resting up for the big competition! 

Nari is going to 2 more regionals and one local trial to try and chase down some more Q's to get qualified for Cynosports in October. We don't have much time and I have no idea if she'll qualify but we are having so much fun running together again :) 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Project Battlestar! And so it begins….

Battlestar - looking quite sweet and not at all crazy :) 
So, I have this sheltie and her name is Battlestar. I call her Battle for short which is actually quite appropriate as she is super high energy and crazy - she's actually exactly what I wanted in a sheltie! I guess I'm a little crazy myself :)

Lots of people told me that since I was used to training northern breeds a sheltie would be a piece of cake - they were all so very wrong! Battlestar is pretty motion sensitive and can get startled by weird things (apparently random stumps are evil!) so I'm starting Project Battlestar! Oh - and I'm also going to throw into the project getting myself back into shape. I seriously need more exercise and so does Battlestar. 

So - let Project Battlestar begin! I'll be taking her out to lots of places with me. We took an online class at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy on 'Dealing With the Bogeyman' so I'm going to be using what I learned in there to help deal with her fears. We're going to be going to the playground and dog park to work around those triggers. I'm also getting back into my C25K running program and I plan on taking her along for the runs as long as it isn't too hot for her. 

So far her agility training is going quite well - she's obsessed with agility, it's in her blood - she was born to do it :) Here's a little video from her training this weekend:

Not sure if you can tell in the video but her tail color actually matches my pants! We have some agility training goals as well so I might be posting updates on our progress there. I've done a lot of seminars with Loretta Mueller and I'm so excited that Battlestar and I will be working with Loretta again! This time we are doing an online class with Loretta through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - I can't wait for the class to start next week! Loretta is so much fun and her feedback has been amazing! 

I getting together a plan for Project Battlestar and I'm feeling pretty good about it! I'll be using this blog to periodically post updates on what we're working on and our progress :) 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Car travel - Variocage crates!

From left to right - Alpha, Battlestar, Nari and Starbuck in the Double Large Variocage crate

This is a continuation on my thoughts on car travel with my dogs. For the first post in this series - go HERE for my review of the Sleepypod Clickit car harnesses

This part of my car travel posts focuses on the Variocage. A variety of places online sell them in the US - I purchased mine from 4x4northamerica.com because they were having a 10% off sale. If you want to purchase one, try searching around to see if you can find a site that's offering a deal. Note: I paid for this crate myself (although I wouldn't have minded getting this discounted or for free in exchange for this review :)). For reference, here are my dogs' measurements:

Starbuck (Klee Kai - miniature size)
    Weight: 12 lbs
    Height at withers: 14"
Nari (Klee Kai - miniature size)
    Weight: 12 lbs
    Height at withers: 13.875"
Alpha (Klee Kai - toy size)
    Weight: 9 lbs
    Height at withers: 12.5" 
Battlestar (large Sheltie)
    Weight: 22 lbs
    Height at withers: 16.5"

Car: 2011 Subaru Outback
Variocage size: Double Large

Car crate: Variocage Double Large 

This thing is a beast and it is one glorious beast! This is probably one of my most favorite dog purchases of all times - it is beautiful. I went with the Double Large. The Double XL would have also fit in my Outback but I chose to go with the Double Large as it's 3 inches shorter (I have small dogs) than the Double XL. The crate has been crash tested (although Center for Pet Safety has not tested it yet). It also has it's own crumple zone. Here are the Pros and Cons:
        - Heavy duty (mine weighs around 80 lbs)
        - Each door can lock individually with a key
        - Can use a pad lock/combination lock to lock the doors
        - Doors are amazingly smooth and stay open when you want them to 
        - Adjusts to the length of your car to maximize crate space
        - Has 2 side-by-side compartments 
        - Looks pretty awesome - I've had the guards at work stop me just to check out the crate :) 
        - I can finally crate from my car and not worry about people stealing my dogs!!!
        - The back of the crate is slanted so it fits very nicely with the way the rear seats are angled
        - I was able to offset the crate just enough to be able to fit a folded up wire crate in the back 
        - Once installed you're not going to want to be taking this thing out at all 
        - Blocks your rear view a little but really not bad at all 
        - Alpha's one complaint - the bottom half of the door is solid so has to stand up to look out :)

The 'Double' has two separate compartments - each side has its own door. Since my dogs are small I have 2 ride in each side of the crate. The dogs love the crate and just lay down and sleep pretty much the entire trip. I found memory foam bath mats that fit perfectly so it's nice and comfy in there.

Here are some detailed pictures:

Interior picture showing the 2 crate sections. The doors stay open like that  making it very easy to get dogs in and out.

I offset the crate so that I could fit in a folded wire crate in the back right next to the Variocage.

The crate surprisingly doesn't take up that much of my view out the rear view mirror. 

All four girls comfortable in their crate - Alpha is barking because she wants to get out and play :)

That's about it for my thoughts on the Variocage. They are simply amazing and definitely worth the money!! Again - I didn't receive any compensation for this - just my my view. Let me know if you have any questions. 

If you want to read about the harnesses I use for car trips - see THIS POST. 

Car travel safety - using a Sleepypod Clickit car harnesses!

Car harnesses: Sleepypod Clickit Utility and Sleepypod Clickit Sport

From left to right: Alpha (Utility), Starbuck (Sport) and Battlestar (Utility) on a 6 hour car ride

I put about 25k+ miles on my car a year and about 90% of the time I'm driving around with at least one dog in the car. Since I spend so much time with my dogs in the car I take car safety pretty seriously. Often times I see people asking for advice on how to travel with their dog so I thought I'd write this post on what I do.

Note - I paid for all of these products myself (although I would have loved getting any of these products discounted or for free in exchange for this review :)). When I first started looking around for travel options I checked out the Center For Pet Safety website (http://centerforpetsafety.org). I love that they are an independent testing facility and have developed a standardized way to crash test products. 

So - how do I travel with my dogs? Pretty much your only two options are to have your dog wear a car harness or ride in a crate. Please, please, please do not drive around with loose dogs in the car as it is dangerous!!! Not only can dogs be a pretty big distraction (even the little ones) but they can get thrown from the car if there is a wreck - posing a danger not only to themselves but to you. 

I use both a car harness and a crate and below you'll find my thoughts on the Sleepypod car harnesses that I use. The crate review will have it's own post. For reference, here are my dogs' measurements:

Starbuck (Klee Kai - miniature size)
    Weight: 12 lbs
    Height at withers: 14"
    Chest: 17"
    Sleepypod Clickit Utility harness size: XS
    Sleepypod Clickit Sport harness size: S 
Nari (Klee Kai - miniature size)
    Weight: 12 lbs
    Height at withers: 13.875"
    Chest: 17"
    Sleepypod Clickit Utility harness size: XS
Alpha (Klee Kai - toy size)
    Weight: 9 lbs
    Height at withers: 12.5"
    Chest: 16"
    Sleepypod Clickit Utility harness size: XS 
Battlestar (large Sheltie)
    Weight: 22 lbs
    Height at withers: 16.5"
    Sleepypod Clickit Utility harness size: XS

Car: 2011 Subaru Outback 

Just a quick overview - this is a 3 point harness. This harness utilizes your car's LATCH system (used for baby car seats) as well as a shoulder seatbelt. I love this harness and much prefer it to the Sleepypod Clickit! Sport. 
        - Excellent construction 
        - Attaches to the LATCH system - prevents the dog from twisting in case of accident
        - Hard to adjust - no way your dog is adjusting this themselves 
        - Only car harness on the market to pass crash tests 
        - My dogs find it comfortable 
        - Great quality materials - extremely strong and durable 
        - My dogs cannot wiggle their way out of it 
        - I can use them in any car - great if you are flying somewhere with a dog and need a rental car
        - Hard to adjust - my dogs each have their own because it's a pain to have to re-adjust this thing
        - It does come with a leash attachment but it's too bulky to use to walk small dogs 
        - Chest piece is a little wider than I would like for small dogs 
        - Takes longer to buckle your dogs in than to put them in a crate 
My dogs absolutely LOVE traveling in the car. They jump onto the seat, let me buckle them in and then either lay down right away or sit for the first couple minutes of the drive and then lay down. They've done 10+ hour car rides wearing these harnesses and take a nap. 

Alpha and Battlestar heading on a 12 hour car ride

Alpha and Battlestar a few minutes into their long car ride - Battlestar is already passed out! 
Here is a video of how to put on the harness and buckle them in the car (Nari is a mini AKK wearing the Sleepypod Clickit Utility in size XS):

If you want to see my large sheltie in the same harness - you can find the video HERE.

Above I mentioned how the Sleepypod Clickit Utility doesn't really work all that well as a walking harness. Here's a video of my toy AKK, mini AKK and large sheltie walking around in the harness.

You can see it's a bit clunky for the Klee Kai but the sheltie has no problem with it and was even racing around in it.

Here are some pictures to give you a better idea of what it looks like on (all the dogs are wearing XS size):

Alpha - toy AKK
Nari - mini AKK
Battlestar - large sheltie

This harness just requires a shoulder belt. It's less expensive than the Utility and doesn't require the LATCH system. Personally, the only reason I have this harness is so that I can travel with 3 dogs in the back seat. When traveling with 3 in harnesses, the ones in the driver and passenger sides in the back seat wear the Utility while the dog in the middle seat wears the Sport. If you need to travel with 3 dogs then the Sport works well. If you are going to travel with just 1 or 2 dogs then definitely go with the Utility. My dogs find the Utility more comfortable then the Sport.

Here is Starbuck demonstrating how to put on the Sleepypod Clickit Sport:

Here are a couple of pictures of Starbuck (mini AKK) in the Sport:

That's about it for my thoughts on the Sleepypod car harnesses. They are awesome and the only ones I feel confident in using. Again - I didn't receive any compensation for this - just my my view. Let me know if you have any questions! 

If you want to read about the crate I use for car trips - see THIS POST