No words, just pictures and her theme song, because once she was rescued, she was free and feeling good!
“Clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”
For those of you who don’t know, this is a reference to one of my favorite tv shows about a high school football team, the coach, his family and a small football-crazed town in west Texas.
Last Friday, Winn got to have her own Friday Night Lights moment by being a rally girl. Granted, her rally girl duties were very different from those highlighted in the TV show, but she had fun nonetheless.
For the last several months, Winn and I have been participating in Rally Obedience classes. Rally is an obstacle course set up with 10-15 stations, each station involves some sort of obedience trick. Sits, downs, turns, change of pace, weaving through cones in different patterns, changing direction and combinations of any of the above, all while remaining in a perfect heel, can be found in a Rally course. It has been a great way to reinforce all of the training that we have learned in her previous puppy and manners classes.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, Winn and I entered our first rally trial. I wasn’t expecting much from our performance, I thought of it as another training and socialization opportunity. She (and I) would be introduced to a new environment with lots of dogs, their owners and the noise, excitement and stress that goes along with an enclosed dog sporting event.
That was a long day. I got there early to find a place to set up her extra-large crate and we ended up being the last dog of the day to compete. It reminded me of sitting around at a swim meet when my kids were little. You wait and wait and wait for your brief time in the ring. Winn was so good that day. I stayed by her crate and read a book. We went out a couple of times to walk around, do a few commands and then come back in. By the time it was our turn, she was relaxed and comfortable with the noises and other dogs around us. She did everything she was supposed to, I was the one who almost blew it for us. I walked right by station 8 (with Winn in a perfect heel of course) but when I approached station 9, I knew something wasn’t right. Fortunately, I figured it out in time and was able to go back and re-approach the sign with only a small penalty. Even with error, we finished in first place and got our first qualifying leg toward her title. Now we just needed to do that two more times!On Friday, we did it two more times!
During the first trial, just seconds before it was our turn, the dog in the ring ahead of us decided to mark (pee on) the second to last sign of the course. His handler was mortified, it’s an automatic disqualification and he quickly got his dog out of the ring. As Winn and I stood off to the side, there was a flurry of activity and excitement. The area and the sign were sterilized and the judge came over and made a point of telling me that he had moved the sign. I wasn’t all that concerned about it being distracting but maybe it was. Winn was a little off and didn’t follow my commands as well as she usually does but we qualified, and then waited and waited and waited for our next trial.
Winn napped most of the afternoon, so about 30 minutes before our group was up I took her outside. On the way out, a dog lunged and barked at her, scaring the bejeezus out of both of us. When we came back in, she quickly squirted into the safety of her crate. I let her stay there until our number was called on deck, but at that point, she had no intention of venturing out again! I tried everything; different treats, different voices, my friend came over with cheese but she wouldn’t budge. As I continued to try to lure her out, I nervously watched the progress of the dog in the ring. I was coming to the conclusion that we would have to withdraw from the trial, and I was now trying to picture how I was going to get her out of the building.
Suddenly I realized that the spot she got barked at was close to the opening of her crate, so I grabbed the sides and whipped the crate around to face another direction. Winn stuck her head out to take a look, and thankfully decided that all seemed safe, so we quickly headed for the ring. We walked right in with no time to think about what had just happened and managed to have a nearly perfect run. It was our best performance of our three trials, and she got her AKC Rally Novice title!
As I was packing up our gear, I was chuckling. When I was standing in line to check in for our second trial, there was a gentleman behind me asking a lot of questions. He wondered about novice and I told him we were in that level. He was curious about doing it with his dog and said he would come back to watch us. As Winn and I were navigating our left 360 turn followed by a right 360 turn, I caught his eye and saw him smiling. He stopped us on our way out and said “beautiful dog, you looked like you were driving a beer truck”. Hands down, that’s the funniest thing anyone has ever said to me about my giant puppy!
Over the next two weekends, we are doing four more trials with World Cynosport Rally. The signs are the same as AKC Rally, but I can reward her in the ring. Winn does really well with rewards so I think this will be a little easier for us as we continue to build our skills.
We are having fun, and I’m so proud of my little rally girl.
“Clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”
We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas or a Happy Chanukah and are looking forward to the New Year!
We’ve been a little quiet here on the blog. It’s been nice to take a break, enjoy family and friends, hibernate from the below zero windchill and be completely lazy!
We received so many beautiful cards from friends (this year there were more dogs on our Christmas card tree than people) and we loved looking at all of them. We were in a couple of Christmas card exchanges which certainly added to the joy and we look forward to following the antics of many new friends this year.This year, our Christmas card photo shoot was a little easier despite adding an enthusiastic, very large puppy to the mix. I had my trusty assistant who helped with keeping their attention, positioning and hats. Annie is doing a much better job at staying, or she is just more able to tune out my crazy ideas, and Maisie and Winn were terrific!
We managed to get a pretty good shot with all three of them and this is the one we chose for our card.I couldn’t resist these close-ups of each of them.
Next week, we will start to think about getting back to our normal routines which include training, swim lessons, pampering Annie, and sneaking Maisie away for one on one time. Winn and I have several big events planned in January and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. (I don’t want to jinx anything so details will be coming).
Most importantly, we are really looking forward to bringing in the New Year. This year had a lot of ups and downs and I am hoping for a much more even keel 2018!
Having a puppy reminds me of the years when my kids were little and we counted their age progression in months. 3 mos., 8 mos., 17 mos., etc.
Winn turned 9 mos. this week and as fun as is to watch her grow and change, I am also reminded that Annie continues to age as well. She has a few more grey hairs on her muzzle and is having a slow recovery from recent oral surgery. Aside from those two reminders, she still acts like the Annie that I know.
Every morning she runs to the back door with an urgency and expression that says, “outta my way, I gotta pee!” and I smile as I watch her quickly go down the stairs and run around the yard looking for the perfect spot to relieve herself.
She sleeps a lot and I love watching her snuggle up in her bed as she snores away the afternoon. When she is waking up, she will rub her face and head all over her bed, groan, snort, and roll around.
Her stomach is her time clock. She gets restless and lets me know with an elbow nudge, a bark or a stare when she thinks I should be in kitchen preparing her meal. Currently, she’s on multiple, small meals which suits her just fine. I think she takes great pleasure in getting fed more times than other two! (Of course they get a little smackerel while she’s occupied with her bowl.)
Since it is recommended that senior dogs get twice yearly health checks, I think it’s only fair that they should have twice yearly birthday celebrations. Yesterday Annie turned 11 1/2!
I decided not to put on birthday hats, instead I tied a big red ribbon on each of them. I froze some vanilla yogurt in my cupcake mold and brought them out after dinner. They were a big hit! It was such an easy treat to create, and they loved it. They knew something good was coming their way when the camera came out and after they each had one, they chased me into the kitchen for seconds.
We love you Annie, you make every day a wonderful day. We will plan a HUGE celebration for your 12th birthday in June!
I am not a morning person. I like to wake up slowly and without a lot of noise. I need a cup of coffee (or two) before I can form a coherent sentence. My family knows this, even Maisie and Annie know this. Annie learned to embrace Maisie’s habit of sleeping in. Up until 6 months ago, we all had a very peaceful morning routine. And then along came Winn…
I knew the first few months with a puppy would be rough. Puppies have a lot of demands and need constant attention. I was thrilled when I woke up one morning and Winn had slept all the way through the night!
For the first couple of months we kept her in a crate at night and she would wake up around 5:30 or 6. I learned that I had a few minutes to gather my wits when she would start squawking while playing with a toy. She was between 4 and 5 months old when we decided to let her try sleeping outside her crate. Overall, it’s gone very well.
As Winn has gotten bigger, she has also gotten more rambunctious in the morning. Most mornings I wake up to two huge paws slamming down on the bed somewhere near my chest. She will start to pull herself up and with that comes the bony elbows, usually in my gut. Before I know it, she launches her heavy body on top of me and starts snuffling my ear and kissing my face. She’s huge, her paws are huge and her head is bigger than mine. It’s a lot to take in for anyone, much less a non-morning person like myself. It’s also impossible to ignore her. She pounces around and it’s like having a toddler jumping on the bed, singing “wake up, wake up, wake up”!
On many mornings, my husband (who is a morning person) will let her out and then Winn will come bounding upstairs for round 2. While she’s waiting for the magic hour of breakfast time, she will repeat the process of the paw slam, the bony elbows and the body launch only this time she will snuggle up next to me, roll over onto her back and wave her legs around. While she’s wiggling around and waving her legs she makes all kinds of noises that I assume are commands to “rub my belly, rub my belly, rub my belly”.
Poor Maisie, she’s not a fan of this wake up call either but Annie, who doesn’t want to allow this crazy puppy to get all of my attention, usually rushes over and begins barking in my face. It’s hard to remember the days when it was just Maisie and I, staggering down the stairs together and taking our sweet time getting ready for a new day. This is my alarm clock now and as aggravating as it might be, I also love being greeted in the morning by these two enthusiastic girls. It’s time to get up and face the day!