Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Pub!

Well it was bound to happen. While walking through the historic town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia - a bustling tourist destination on this unseasonably warm late November day - Winnie was being a good dog walking among all the people and their dogs. So good, in fact, that when we came across a dog friendly pub that had a little patio out back cut out of the hillside, we decided to stop and reward ourselves with a Mountaineer Pale Ale.

Then we just walked around, took pictures and enjoyed the sights of a quickly fading autumn. An excellent day indeed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Whistle Work

With the days getting shorter and colder, I haven't had much time to do any outdoor training in a while. But Thanksgiving day brought beautiful weather here in Virginia so we enjoyed a pleasant training session in the yard.

I feel like, at four months old, her attention span is getting a little longer. I'm still keeping training sessions short and fun, but I am finding I can make more progress in one outing than I could a few weeks earlier.

Today we tried the whistle with the command 'Here' some more, and she's really getting it! Tried the command with the whistle, then mixed in some with just the whistle and she came running. I rewarded her with a treat and tons of praise each time.

Then I had Sandy come out with the other dogs to distract Winnie while I went to the far corner of the yard. Maybe 40-50 yards. In the midst of playing with Gromit, she STILL responded to the whistle! What a good girl! And at that distance, the verbal command becomes almost worthless. It's easy to see how the whistle would be much more effective in the field, in wind, or at greater distances. I think I'm going to like it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sad Sack

Gromit is a baby. A big baby. So when he tore his nail badly the other day we were hoping we didn't have to take him in to get it cut off - something that happened to our Scooter a while back and who never forgot or forgave the vet from that day forward.

But he was literally walking around on three legs. It wasn't healing on its own so we brought him in today. He can pout, visibly, so when Sandy called me from the car on the way home and said, "get the camera, he's pathetic," I assumed he'd be bandaged, lower lip sticking out.

What a pleasant surprise, though, to see him walk in the door wearing Megaphone Head! The other dogs have not teased him about it, not to his face anyway, but I think if you're wearing a lampshade, you have to expect to get picked on a bit.

It also looks like they tested his dexterity after removing the nail by giving him scissors and making him cut out his own bandage decoration.

He's okay though, and will be back to his old baby self in no time. Meanwhile, he will be spoiled even more than usual for the weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bitz and Winnie

Winnie's littermate, Bitz (top photo), was always the smallest pup and the one with the most coat. Winnie (bottom photo) had almost as much coat but was bigger. But I couldn't believe the resemblance when Peg sent me this photo. It was originally facing the other way so Bitz' picture is a mirror image of her.

It'd be hard to say without seeing them together (which will hopefully happen this coming spring), but I think Winnie has caught up to and passed Bitz in the coat department!

Peg at Seraphim Kennels has made a cool page that makes it easy to catch up with the whole litter as they grow and have fun with their new families. Go to the web site and click on Class of '08. Thanks Peg!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Here's Winnie at four months, working on 'Here!'


I wish I could say this photo is a result of an extended multi-dog sit/stay exercise. But the truth is, they were out in the yard and I just noticed them sitting like this. I went and got the camera, knowing by the time I got back to the window they'd be doing something else. To my surprise, though, they were still there. Just sitting, looking around, in the middle of the yard.

Maybe they love each other so much because they are both a little odd.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


In an attempt to burn some energy off of Winnie this morning (I'll be at the Redskins game all afternoon/evening/night and Sandy will be the unhappy recipient of any of Winnie's excess energy), we walked a bit on the Maryland Heights trail. That's a very steep trail with very nice views and almost no other people, especially this time of year.

Intermittently, we worked on heeling. When we weren't doing that, we worked on not pulling at the end of the leash. I don't want to jinx it or count any chickens before they're hatched, but she really seems to get this. We have a lot of work to do, of course, but I believe she's at an age (four months) and a mindset where I see her picking up new stuff almost every day. I think we'll be able to make a lot of progress with obedience over the winter.

She also saw some birds flush nearby and started hunting for more! So that was pretty cool too.

Oh, and the energy thing? I was exhausted and she wasn't even panting. So much for that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Dog Photos

Dog bed clearly isn't comfortable enough. Until you put it on the couch...

Gromit trying not to look like a baby dork. It's almost working...

These two just plain love eachother.

Scooter the cranky old man, appearing here by request!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Winnie Videos

Blogspot makes it easy to do lots of cool stuff. I just realized I can put the latest videos from my YouTube video channel here on the blog page. So watch that upper right corner of this page for new videos!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kifli and Krumpli!

We finally got to meet Kifli and Krumpli in person today! Winnie wasn't with us, so we still have to set up a 'play date' for all the dogs, but Laura and Arun were nice enough to meet Sandy and I in Leesburg at the dog school where their dogs were spending the day.

For littermates they sure are different! But both are really cool. Krumpli doesn't have any beard yet but they're still pretty young, almost six months. Kifli seems to be more mellow, and looks more like Winnie, especially in the face. It was weird to see a much bigger Winnie-type dog, very tall with adult teeth and everything. From the looks of Kifli, Winnie is due for a BIG growth spurt in the next two months!!

It'll be fun to get Winnie and Kifli and Krumpli all together for a photo soon. And I'm going to try to convince Laura and Arun to bring their boys up to Michigan in the spring!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chukar day...

My local bird place was out of quail so I got a couple chukar to work with Winnie today.

I can confidently say that her excitement level has increased each time I've had her around birds. In the past if she came across the scent she would follow it to the bird, as if she was going along with her instincts but didn't quite know why, but today I really got the sense that she really wanted to find a bird. She ranged out a bit further and really seemed to have a blast. I'm getting used to letting her do that, and she's getting used to the check cord. That thing is great, by the way, she'd circle around the same tight spot and wrap the cord around some brush and it always comes loose. Cool.

Sandy took some video too, I need to edit that down but should have something posted soon.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stick Inducted to Toy Hall of Fame

With a recent and welcome influx of readers of this blog from the UK, I hesitate to report that we even have a National Toy Hall of Fame, let alone that the Stick was just inducted therein. But seeing as how the Stick is Winnie's favorite toy, I thought the story was appropriate here.

Curators at the Rochester, NY museum say the Stick is a special addition (what did they call 2005's induction of the cardboard box?), and they praised its "all-purpose, all-natural, no-cost qualities." Hard to argue with that.

(By the way, does that 'display case' look suspiciously like a cardboard box?)

Congratulations to the Stick, who finally gets the recognition it deserves. Throw a stick for a dog today!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another Winnie Relative

This sweet dog is named Rudi, and is a half brother to Winnie and about the same age (though a little younger in this photo). Rudi is from England which means, unlike Winnie, he probably prefers his beer room temperature.

Thanks to Rachel from Moricroft for the great photo of Rudi!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More Bird Exposure

Winnie's first exposure to quail was in a mowed yard at the trainer's, where she could see the bird. She showed mild interest in it, pointed it, and when it walked away she politely walked behind it like a baby chick following its mother. Better than being scared of the bird, or showing no interest at all, but when I got the opportunity to introduce some more to her today - thanks to the generosity of a cool neighbor I recently met with eleven acres and four setters - I wasn't sure what to expect.

We planted a bird in heavy cover and brought Winnie in from downwind. She quickly started following the scent, and located and pointed the quail! Then she pounced on it, batted it around and played with it. We threw it elsewhere in the cover and she quickly began smelling for it again, and pointing again. She eventually caught it, brought it to me and placed it in my hand. I've never been so happy to receive a gift of a mortally wounded bird in my life.

So we were walking back to the guy's house, less than a hundred yards, Winnie dragging the check cord. We turned around and she was gone. "Where's your dog run off to?" he asked. She was just there next to us a second ago. We looked back and there she was, she had run back to where the birds were!! I was very proud.

Anyway, it was fun and she did great!