Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Challenges and legs and ribbons oh my!

Katie here.

I told mama she couldn’t hoard our blog all to herself cause I had stuff to talk about and I know my loyal subjects get impatient if they aren’t kept up to date on my life. As a princess I have certain responsibilities to all of you and I won’t allow mama to get in the way!


So anyway, remember when I told you that mama and I had retired from competition? We were living the life of leisure, lounging around eating bon bons and camping, and going for long walks on the beach. Life was good.

Relaxing in retirement.

Relaxing in retirement.

And then the days got shorter and colder and mama said that I needed something to do since we wouldn’t be going on so many adventures! No more adventures mama? What are you talking about?

But you know what? It turned out just fine because she signed me up for school two times a week! As you all know I love school. People think it’s because I like to be challenged, but really it’s because I like the treats, and all the attention, and being called beautiful and stuff.

Don’t tell mama, I don’t want her to be disillusioned.

I’m going to nosework classes on Thursdays and rally classes on Tuesdays. It’s a blast. I especially like nosework. I mean, you’d think maybe a dog dreamed this game up. You just go into the ring, sniff a few boxes and stuff, tell your person when you find the scent and get a ton of treats! Really! You sniff a box, get a treat!

I absolutely love this game!

I pull mama into the ring at breakneck speed (OK, I usually zoom past the first 14 boxes, but I’m working on being more methodical) and run around like a crazy dog until my head swings around and I focus on one particular box and then I stare at my mama real intently until she figures out I’m trying to tell her “THIS IS IT MAMA!!!” and if I’m right…I get treats!

Hanging out in my crate.  Boring.

Hanging out in my crate. Boring.

So last weekend I went to my first nosework trial. Mama signed me up for two attempts. The first run was perfect, it took me all of 12 seconds to find the right box. Even mama was surprised! But the second run I was overconfident and told mama that two different boxes were the one, when in fact they were not. I was just anxious to get those treats you know, and mama fell for it. She says she learned a lot by that mistake, so it’s OK that we didn’t qualify on that leg. She says we’ll go back and learn some more.

And this weekend she and I went to a rally trial, the first one we’ve gone to in 4 years. We are competing in ‘excellent’ now, the top level, because I already got my title for ‘novice’ and ‘advanced.’ Mama was pretty nervous because most of the responsibility is on her.

She has to read the signs.

I could read them for her, but what would be the fun in that? Mostly I just sit when she says sit and down when she says down and think about following along with her in between. Unless I see something more interesting. Like a jump for example.

She signed us up for two runs this time too, she said she drove too far for us to only do this once, so I had to hang around for a few hours but that turned out to be OK because we met a new friend. This is Jade, she’s really friendly and really smart. Her mom is nice too.

Meet Jade!

Meet Jade!

Anyway, the first run I was a bit ditzy and wandered around a bunch and I think mama messed up on one sign, but we ended up with 90 out of 100 points and got 5th place, and mama just wanted to qualify so she was happy.

And our second run went even better. OK, not right at the beginning because I watched mama put my leash over to the left on a chair and after the judge lady said “Forward!” and we started out I decided to go over there and sniff out the situation. Cause why would mama put my leash over there? But mama called me back. Twice. And finally after an eternity (per mama) I got back in line and heeled my way around the course with her. We got a score of 98 and 2nd place, only 1 point behind our new friend Jade who got 1st place!

See my beautiful ribbon?

See my beautiful ribbon?

Jade and I each got a new toy!! We were all very excited.

So now I’m pretty worn out and need my princess nap, but I decided to stay up and tell you about my latest adventures instead. I know you’ll sleep better tonight knowing all is well in Katie’s world.

Mama’s going to sleep pretty good too. But don’t worry, I’ll be getting her up early tomorrow just like every day. I’m dependable like that.

Katie signing off for now. Hugs and kisses to all of you.

Mine mine mine!

Mine mine mine!


Novice Obedience – Katie earns her title

These are mine!

These are mine!

With high hopes we went to Katie’s third leg for Obedience Novice today.  I even figured out pretty close to perfectly our timing so we didn’t have to sit around all day.  Katie was engaged as we waited, but anxious to get going. So was I.

Is it our turn yet?

Is it our turn yet?

There were six teams in our class; we were #4.  Just as the Team #1 started I realized Katie hadn’t gone to potty in awhile…so we went out in the rain and walked around. She wet but I had hoped for more.  Ah well.  (Truly, this matters, later in the story.)

Then it was our turn.  Katie heeled fine into the ring and set up fine.  But she lagged behind me on the heel on leash and wouldn’t sit at the final halt which was right in front of the gate.  She was more interested in everyone sitting out there than me.  I don’t think she even realized I had stopped.

Her figure 8 was OK,  though she lagged a bit on the outside curve, she at least sat when we halted.  Her stand for exam was perfect; she had no problem letting the strange lady touch her.  I was so proud of her!

Then we were back to do more heeling this time without a leash.  If I could get the video to play in this blog you’d see that she was on a different planet than I was.  And as we headed back toward the crowd she whipped around and tugged at her tail.  This is her sign she has to GO!  😦  She didn’t sit on the last halt on this heeling pattern either.  Just stood there and looked at me looking at her.  SIGH.

On a brighter note her recall was pretty cool.  She was almost straight when she ran up and sat in front of me.  That’s been an ongoing problem for quite awhile…she’ll run to me and then sit crooked, all the while grinning.  Silly girl.  Today she sat pretty straight, and finished by circling around me when I signaled and sat pretty.  WHEW! (Those of you on facebook can see the video there.  I can’t remember how to upload to youtube, and so it isn’t going into this blog.)

I thought we had it in the bag then, she has had no trouble at all on her long sits (1 minute) and downs (3 minutes).  But surprise surprise, she didn’t want to sit, though she did after one additional command….and she REALLY didn’t want to down.  I had to physically fight with her, which cost me big points.  I know that she had to GO Mama!  And I was holding my breath the whole 3 minutes thinking she was going to just get up and head for the door.  She did shift from one hip to another and I thought she was going to move, but she stayed where she was.  Have I mentioned that she’s a good girl?

All lined up.

All lined up.

So in the end Katie got her Novice Obedience title.  We scored 178.5 out of 200 possible points.  We even got third place!

Did I do good Mama?

Did I do good Mama?

While we were waiting for awards the dog next to me leaned in for a head rub.  I couldn’t stop, each time I tried she leaned in further.  What a sweetie!

New best friend.

New best friend.

Best of all for Katie is that she got a ton of ribbons and a new toy!  She won a pink whale.  She’s already been playing with it.

Me and my whale.

Me and my whale.

She’s napping now.  I need a nap too.  She did things today she’s never done before, but most of the errors were mine.  Which is why I didn’t get a pink whale I suppose.

Good girl sweetie.  Mama loves you.

Don't touch my whale!

Don’t touch my whale!


Another leg

On the road again.

On the road again.

Katie, husband and I went to an obedience trial today.  She earned her 2nd leg (out of 3 required) for Novice Obedience.  I got us there way way too early.  Again.  Supposedly they were starting at 11 and I counted the entries, did the math, and we showed up about 12:30.  I don’t think we were on deck until after 4.  Katie spent the time in her crate or on her Dad’s lap, or wandering around with me.  The building was very hot and small.  It was a long wait.

Hanging with my Daddy!

Hanging with my Daddy!

There were 3 dogs entered in Novice B (the novice class for people that have titled a dog previously) and 4 of us in Novice A (the novice class for people that have never done this before.)   By the time we got going Katie was pretty much over it all..but she did just fine considering.  She was excellent during the stand for exam – she didn’t move at all.  Such a good girl!  She lagged on the heeling, and came in way way crooked on the recall.  But at least she came when I called!  We saw other dogs in higher levels that just sat there when their folks asked them to come!

Only one of the 3 dogs in Novice B qualified; the other two in that class laid down during the long sit.  It was hot in that building and I don’t blame them at all!

Katie sits like a good dog.

Katie sits like a good dog.

Only two of the four of us in Novice A qualified, the other two dogs went crazy and either had zoomies during their run or walked away during the long sit.  Sad for their owners.  But I was proud of Katie.  She looked at all the nonsense surrounding her during the long sits and downs and just stared at me.  She didn’t move.  Did I mention she’s a good dog?

So all in all, she earned her ribbon, hung out like a trooper, smiled at me before we began and did her best to follow my somewhat bumbling directions.

Oh yea…she’s a very good dog.

Another ribbon for the girl.

Another ribbon for the girl.


Obedience? Did someone say obedience?

Is it my turn yet?

Is it my turn yet?

Katie here.  Mom said I should tell you all about her first try at obedience.  She says maybe I can learn something if I tell you the story.  Huh.  Don’t know what, because I’m the smartest one in our family.  Whatever.

So anyway, I got my Mama up at 5:45 this morning just like I do most weekend mornings.  I figure the more time she’s up the more time we have to play.  Anyway, for some reason she didn’t seem to be upset and got right up.  I amble out to the living room and am doing my daily morning stuff when my Dad gets up!  Now I know there’s something up.  And I don’t like it.  Not one bit.  Whenever my Dad gets up early I end up at the kennel or worse, the groomer!

They keep telling me we’re going to school but I’m not fooled.  My Dad doesn’t go to school with me.  So I pant a lot in the car but other than that I stay really quiet, hoping they forget I’m back there.

We drove for about an hour and I knew it wasn’t school as soon as they opened the car door.  There were dogs and cars and motor homes everywhere!  I led the way inside a big building and oh my goodness, all these poor dogs were up on tables getting brushed and washed and they all looked miserable.  I got my Mama out of that room right away!  Didn’t want her getting any ideas that’s for sure.

Our room was way far away from all the commotion; it was really small, hardly bigger than the ring and only a few dogs and their people were there.  Mama and Dad and I watched 3 dogs try to do Utility (the highest level of obedience) and 2 dogs tried to do Open (the level ahead of me) and not one single dog qualified!  Oh man, my Mama was getting nervous!

In our class, Novice A, there were supposed to be two dogs, me and someone else, but no one else ever showed up so I had the place all to myself.  Just about everyone else had left, so it was me and my Mama and my Dad and the judge and the stewards.  It was real quiet.

I still didn’t think we were at school.  So when Mama and I lined up at the start and the judge asked Mama if we were ready I wasn’t really interested.  And the whole leash pattern I had my nose on the ground and wouldn’t look at mom and was about 3 feet away from her sniffing sniffing sniffing.  I sort of kept up with her but I left her alone to walk a lot too.  If I had looked at her I’m pretty sure she’d have been staring daggers at me, because she can’t, like she does at school, talk to me and remind me I was there to work!

Then just before the last about turn I suddenly realized I was supposed to be paying attention!  Well!  Why didn’t you SAY SO Mama!  By the figure 8 exercise I knew the game plan and I worked it.  Hardly any lagging and I was looking at my Mama most of the time.  She said she was relieved.  Me too, though I was wondering where my treats were!

And you know the stand for exam?  Where my Mama tells me to stand and stay and then she walks away from me and a STRANGE PERSON comes and TOUCHES me?  No sweat.  I already liked the lady that was following us around anyway, she seemed nice.  So I didn’t move a hair on my pretty head and my Mama was grinning like a crazy lady.  Which she is a crazy lady, but that’s another story.

Then we got to my favorite – the recall, where she makes me sit straight (I don’t like the straight part) and then she walks a real long way away and I get to come when she calls. I like that because it shows off my beautiful furs and because I love to run.  Especially to my Mama because she gives me treats.  But this time no treats again!  If I had known that I wouldn’t have done it so perfect and come in so straight and sat so pretty!  But it was too late, I didn’t know the no treat thing until after I showed off.

Then we got to do that heel pattern thingy again.  I guess because I had messed it up so much the first time.  But this time there was no bothersome leash involved. Mom wasn’t worried because I had made it clear I knew what was going on by then.  And you know what?  I nailed it!  My Mama was so happy!

I don’t even need to tell you that my long sits and long downs were awesome!  Mama says she nearly had a heart attack near the end of the long (3 min) down when I shifted to my other hip.  She knows that lots of time when I do that I’m about fed up with staying and am contemplating getting up to see what the heck is going on somewhere else.  But I stayed right there because she was staring daggers into me again.

So the long story short is Mama got her first leg (she has to get a total of 3) of Novice Obedience!  She is very excited.  I was excited about the toy they gave me.

My Mama got a ribbon, but I got the real prize!  A toy!!

My Mama got a ribbon, but I got the real prize! A toy!!

At home Mama tried to get a nice picture of me and my toy.

This is MINE!

This is MINE!

But I figured I had been good long enough.  I wanted to play with it!

So I did.

A girl can't have too many toys!

A girl can’t have too many toys!


Lots on my mind.

It’s a full moon and the end of the month.  The combination appeared to make the mortgage industry  this week simply insane.  So I’m glad it’s finally Friday night.

This weekend will be pretty busy.  We are going to the Ann Arbor Symphony on Saturday night.  I’ve been so stressed I’m not even sure what they are playing, but it doesn’t matter.  I could so use some music therapy right about now.

And on Sunday morning Katie and I are going to attempt to earn the first leg of her Novice Obedience title.  I’m mostly freaked about her off leash stuff.  Unlike Rally where I can talk to her and call her back to me when she wanders, Obedience doesn’t allow talking other than the heel commands after each halt.  And there are a number of things we have to do, so our time in the ring is longer…without treats to keep her motivated.  I’m hoping that 6 years of school click in and she’ll just do what we’ve done for years.  If she is on her game…and if I don’t mess this up…well…there will be a jackpot waiting for her.  Between you and me there will be a jackpot  regardless of whether we “Q” or not…just because we love her.

So anyway, after a very stressful week at work I’m now sort of stressing about the weekend.  And next weekend I’ll be in Washington DC at my 5th Sorrow to Strength.  I need to get prepared for that too…but I can’t seem to think about it too much until I get past the Obedience Trial.

Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into all this stuff.  But really?   It’s just that almost everything interests me and if I could have my way I’d be doing even more things.  But for now I’ll focus on the symphony on Saturday and on getting to the trial on time for Sunday.

I’m sure Katie will take it from there.

What you talkin about Mom?

What you talkin about Mom?


Mama went and registered me for another trial!

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

Katie here.  You know, first Mama goes and visits Ricky without me.  Then she takes me to school and tells me I have to pay attention more because she’s registered me for another trial and we have to get focused.

And then she brings CHICKEN to school and I’m so crazy I can hardly stand it.  She says she thinks I’m a little too motivated with the chicken and says maybe she’ll go back to cheese.  I say, how can  I be TOO motivated anyway!?!  Mamas are crazy.

So anyway, Mama registered me for my very first obedience trial!  Ha!  Like she thinks I’m going to be obedient?  Me?  I’m a princess….in case any of you have forgotten.  I do what I want when I want to.  Unless there’s cheese or even better chicken.  Then I do exactly what my Mama wants right away.  I guess I can be bought.

The trial is Sunday April 28 at an arena about an hour away.  Wish us luck everybody!  We’ve got a couple of weeks to practice.  Mama says she doesn’t have to memorize any crazy signs and all I have to do is heel when she says to heel and watch her.  I suppose I can do that.  Oh.  And come when she calls.  And sit when I’m supposed to sit.  And stand when I’m supposed to stand.  And not be afraid of the judge even when she touches me!  But those long sits and downs?  I got that, no problem.

I may be a princess…but I am an educated princess.


Rally report

Mom! Can we get to work yet?

Katie and I survived and she’s pretty full of herself too.  Cause she has a pretty red ribbon to add to her collection.  She thinks she looks particularly good with red.   But of course it’s a much longer story than that.

We arrived early, way too early, again.  Lesson learned.  We were there for 3 hours before it was actually time for me to walk the Advanced course.  By then Katie was pretty much over it, but she waited patiently in her crate for me to go through the course.  There were only two of us in Advanced A; a woman named Kim and her sheltie Mona.   Mona is just the sweetest girl I’ve met in a long time!   Kim and I did the walk through together.  Good thing too, because I fixed something she had a misconception on and she pointed out we had missed station #4 totally the first walk through!

I’ve been working on memorizing the signs and perfecting my footwork all week.  I practiced pivots on my lunch walk yesterday.  I called ‘”come!” and “down!” and “heel!” on my commutes.   I worried about her popping up from downs, following me too fast when she was supposed to stay.  I worried about forgetting to ask her to sit when I should, or asking her to sit when I shouldn’t.  I worried.

What I didn’t worry about…ever…was her jump.  She loves to jump.  She’ll jump anything…and then she will often turn around and jump it again.  So the fact there was a jump at station 2 was not alarming.  Until she walked around it and then looked at me like ….”What?  You wanted something else?”  So there goes 10 points right off the bat.

I sighed and shook my head and we finished the rest of the course.  Other than a couple of crooked sits she was perfect.  The things I had worried about were beautiful.   She’s something else, she is.

Then we were out of the ring and I told her she was a good girl, which she was.  I think I just wasn’t going fast enough to get her running, and she didn’t realize she was supposed to leave my left leg and go jump.  We watched the other woman in our class do the course and they did great too.

Afterward Kim was excited for me because the score they put up for me was 99.  Her score was 95.  But I knew that wasn’t right, with no jump the best we could get was 90.  So I talked to the steward and at a break we talked to the judge who was grateful that I told her.  I was glad too.

So we ended up in 2nd place of two…but I’m proud of Katie and her score..the judge gave us 90 and I’ll take it!

Katie says it was a long day for a little ribbon…but she’s willing to do it again, and if I give her enough warning she’ll even do the jump!