Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

My very first blog post was called Two Dog Travel.  This was the story about how the Labrador broke out of her soft crate while visiting family.

I should have read it before we went home for Christmas.  While it’d been more than three years, and not one incident in all that time once we got back to my parents guess who decided to break out of her soft crate again?

Once again we traveled with two dogs.  This time the 55lb Labrador and the 65lb Golden Retriever.  We now have a Subaru Forester all decked out for the dogs, making the trip even more comfortable for everyone.

On Christmas Eve we decided to go shopping, so the dogs were placed into their soft crates, and my Father who elected not to go with us was given strict instructions not to let them out.

Out we went, shopping for a few hours only to come home to the Labrador greeting us at the front door, tail all a-wag, and evidence of an entire eaten loaf of bread on the floor.  All that was found was the wrapper.

“Dad!” I yelled, “I told you not to let them out!”

The Labrador followed me through the house, tail wagging as I went to find my Father, but there was no answer to my rather loud and exasperated exclamation.

Turning the corner I spotted him.  Asleep in bed!  How dare he?  He let out one dog and then didn’t bother to watch her?  “Dad!” I cried out, feeling fully justified in waking him up for a scolding.

Only… “I didn’t let them out,” was his sleepy, confused reply which sent me flying down the stairs to spy a ripped open soft crate.  This time she didn’t bother with the zipper, but ripped her way right through it, while the Golden watched (good boy for not following your sister’s example!).  And then she figure out how to open the sliding door to my old bedroom and probably happily trotted up the stairs to find the loaf of bread so easy to reach on the counter.

Lesson learned.  Metal crate purchased and left at my parents house!

And then I sheepishly apologized to my father, several times.



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This weekend the Labrador (who turned 3 this month) earned her Rally Excellent title!

This weekend we traveled to a huge 6 day Cluster show! We only competed for two of those days, but the main point was to expose both the Labrador and me to something close to what we’ll be facing at the RNC. Normally we compete only locally at two ring trials of just obedience and rally. This Cluster had 15 rings all going at once! Confirmation, Obedience and Rally were going on all around us. Grooming was happening inside the same building near the rings and I had no idea how loud those dryers got! It was more commotion and noise, dogs and people than we’d ever had to deal with before.

Our main goals for this were:

  1. Expose ourselves to the crazy atmosphere
  2. Try a new feeding schedule for competing
  3. See how we handled competing twice in one day

I have to say I think I was more affected by the noise, commotion and stress than she was. I was more nervous than I’d been before. Though I’m always nervous I’ve never gotten quite so dry mouthed before. We arrived the day before and set up our crate, and since some confirmation judging was still going on as well as grooming and such we went into the building and played a little, letting us both adjust to the noise while we heeled and practiced a few Rally maneuvers.

The Labrador got her breakfast on Friday as normal, but then Friday night only got half rations. We’ve had issues with her eliminating in the ring and wanted to prevent this while making sure she still had the energy to get through the day. Saturday morning we arrived at the show grounds early and went for a walk, making sure she got all her morning business done well before we had to be in the ring! We showed Saturday morning, qualifying with a 97! It should have been a 100, but I had this minor moment of forgetting left and right and had to redo a sign!

After everyone was done (friends were also competing), I got a light lunch and we went back to our room to rest. We headed back to the show grounds around 4:00 expecting the next trial to begin around 4:00 or 5:00. It was scheduled to begin a half hour after the end of the previous show, but other issues caused it to be delayed even longer and we didn’t finish with our class until 11:30 pm! We qualified with a 77, which while not great, I’m satisfied with based on how long the day was, the strange environment and being so late! While the trial still had two more classes to go, we left and went back to our room where the Labrador again got half rations (and then fell asleep even before I was in bed!). I’m also pleased because the last time we tried to show twice in one day it didn’t go well. The second time in the ring the Labrador left me, said hi to the judges, and ring stewards and nothing I did could reclaim her attention. We were excused, and I wondered if perhaps showing twice in one day was going to be too much for her. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps it was maturity, or training or just that day she wanted to make new friends. But now I know we can como

The next morning we didn’t go over quite as early, but still gave ourselves plenty of time before our earliest possible start time. A nice walk made sure the call of nature was answered, and a wonderfully organized club not only had the Rally course set up early, but the efficient and friendly judge got us done earlier than Saturday. Again we qualified, this time with a 85! It should have been a 95, but I screwed up a sign and decided not to retry it. I think we were both a bit worn out and frazzled and I wasn’t sure I’d get her attention back enough to complete it properly (it was the last sign!).

Our biggest concerns were eliminating in the ring (we have a plan!), handing the leash to the stewart (no problems!) and though we’d trained I still dreaded getting an offset figure eight. We didn’t have a single one! I still am expecting one for the RNC. And our Sit/Stay was excellent.

We had a few attention issues that we need to work on, though I suspect there are due more to my nerves than anything. While warming up I tried a combination of having treats on me (security blanket) and not having treats on me. It made very little difference outside the ring. She was awesome! But the moment we’d approach the ring, I would tense. My throat got dry. I’m certain the way I said sit outside the ring verse how I said it inside was different. I need to work on this.

All in all it was a great weekend!

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It’s never intentional, but the holidays always mess with my training schedule. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas my job gets more hectic, and then of course there is normal holiday hustle and bustle. This year that included a week away from the pups over Thanksgiving. Christmas we traveled for a few days and took the Golden with us. It was his longest car ride ever. He was fantastic! The eight hour drive didn’t phase him at all. Some fetch outside when we arrived helped burn off some energy, and then he settled in nicely to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

It’s taken several years, but I’ve finally gotten my parents trained to ask me before they give him treats. Mom asked before she buys treats, and they both check before feeding him other things. I allowed carrots and green beans, but told them no to the potatoes and bread (mostly because they’d already stuffed him full of carrots and green beans!) I also was pleased they asked before letting him lick plates.

We did very little training while visiting, but did go to the local General Store which allows dogs and got him lots of loving. He was great in my parents house and didn’t mess with his first Christmas Tree. He sat at Grandma’s feet as she prepared dinner, and didn’t beg or try to steal any of that delicious ham. He sat under our table as we ate, though he’d already figured out who was most likely to be swayed by puppy dog eyes.


The real challenge though was the car ride home. What is normally a seven hour drive ended up an eleven hour drive as we sat on the highway for over three hours, and then added an hour with the detour we had to take since an accident had closed the west bound lanes. He was a champ! He handled the delay far better than his humans. Oh he looked up as the firetruck blared by, and checked out the five ambulances that screamed past, but he didn’t bark, or whine, or pace, or move out of his seat. He definitely is a Very Good Dog!

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Birthdays and Bedtimes

Yesterday the Beagle turned five. Last night was one week to the day of a miraculous change in her life. Over the years we have tried to get the Beagle to sleep in the bed with us. All of our dogs have, except this one. She would never settle down. She would pace, stand at the edge of the bed and bark, or jump down once she finally realized she could make it. The only time in her life she spent the night in bed with us was when we spent several days during a really bad snow storm without heat. Those two nights she hopped right up, dug her way under the blankets and settled in to be warm. The rest of her life she’s spent the night in her crate.

A week ago we were at the dog show. The husband took the Beagle outside around 11:00 pm. Now I’m not saying this is the whole reason, but while out there not more than a 30 yards away a black bear stepped out of the tree line. At first my husband thought it was a large, loose dog until it reared up. He and the Beagle immediately returned to the room, and as he unhooked the leash from the collar our little Beagle ran across the room, jumped up on the bed and proceeded to curl up in a ball against my hip. It was a very clear, “I’m sleeping right here and there is nothing you can do about it!”

So with Labrador on one side, and Beagle on the other, and husband somewhere on the other coast of the king sized bed we all fell asleep.

Like the heat issue, I expected this to be a one night thing. I wasn’t sure if it was the bear (since amazingly she didn’t react at all to it, not running away, or pulling towards or even letting out that wonderful wake the neighbors three states away beagle howl), or if it was just the fact she was sitting in her crate watching her sister getting all the attention and good sleeping space on the nice soft bed that did it. Normally the Beagle is in her crate in another room, not the bedroom at night. Either way, I expected that once we returned home life would return to normal.

On a whim that night we brought her up to bed, expecting five minutes of pacing, jumping down and barking only to find her curling up at my side and seeming to love laying between us. And now when we get up to go to bed, after taking them out she’s the first one at the door to the stairs waiting for us to go up. So, it took five years, but now the Beagle who is currently curled up in a ball at my side on the couch, will do the same on the bed. I have no idea what switch finally flipped inside the little hound mind, but other than the fact I really need a bigger bed I think I like it!

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We just returned home from our second dog show. Now before I get into the rambling about it: The labrador earned her first title! Hooray labrador!

So, that’s out of the way — now you can decide for yourself if you want to keep reading the rambles!

This was the first one where a little bit of distance was involved, so I reserved a hotel room, not wanting to spend the two and a half hours before I went into the ring on the road, nervous and hoping nothing went wrong with traffic!

I began packing on Thursday after spending all week trying to figure out everything I would need. I finished packing on Friday and we headed up the highway. Best thing I packed that I almost didn’t — paper towels. We almost used the entire roll! One thing I wish I had packed — an old blanket from home. It would have been nice to let the pups chew on their toys on their blanket and not the hotel room floor. The mess wasn’t too bad, but I would have liked to have left less mess for the poor staff! Apparently they host dog folks about twice a year, so I suppose they are used to it. They were all very friendly (staff and the other dog folk).

The one thing I packed that I was glad I didn’t have to use — Nature’s Miracle. Hooray no accidents in the hotel room!

I was looking for another show like the first — a small, relaxed show. I was told this one was. When I got the judging program and it mentioned seven rings going at once there was a bit of panic. That didn’t sound small to me! Turns out it was a confirmation and obedience show/trial (I’m still trying to learn the proper language here — seems like confirmation has shows and obedience trials, but I need to confirm that!). Five rings of confirmation were in one building, and the ones for rally and obedience were in another smaller building. That helped my nerves when I saw that.

I am glad we went on Friday and set up the Labrador’s crate, and our chairs, as the place was very crowded by the time we got there Saturday morning. Note to self, always go set up the night before if it’s allowed.  It also helped calm my nerves seeing the venue.

After that we headed off to a nice park recommended by the hotel staff, walked the pups and wore them and us out too.

Friday night, even with the walk it took a little bit to settle in. The dogs weren’t sure what to make of the room. The Beagle who sleeps in her crate regularly did not want to go quietly to sleep, but we all managed to get settled in by around 11:00 pm without disturbing the neighbors!

Saturday morning we qualified! The score was not as high as I would have liked, but high enough for that wonderful green qualifying ribbon! Our third leg complete! Our first title!  (Cue appropriate Happy Snoopy Dance!)

That night everyone settled in much better. The beagle even decided to join us all in the bed (hooray for king sized beds!) and slept through the night at my side. Two people, two dogs. King sized beds rock. I will always ask for one when traveling for a show!

Having earned the title, I knew we could move up to the next level for Sunday, but decided we weren’t ready for off leash. Sunday we stayed at our level, which we can continue to do for 60 days I believe and got a bumper leg (or so I heard it called — again still learning the lingo!). I thought I would be relaxed, calm and composed this day. I mean, I had the title, they can’t take it away — what was there to be nervous about? The butterflies in my tummy didn’t agree. I was still nervous. But we still did well, and earned another nice green ribbon!

So, not only did we come out of this with our very first title, but I feel I came away from this with a good idea of things to work on. I have a better idea where I want us to be as a team, now to figure out how to get there!

I’m not sure where or when our next show will be. We have work to do, and decisions to make before the next one. Do we move up in Rally? Move on to try for our CD? Both? We have agility classes starting Tuesday, so who knows what direction that might take us.

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Two Dog Travel

Normally when we travel we choose one dog to take with us and one to board. This past week we had an unexpected situation come up that led us to taking both dogs on an 8 hour drive, to spend a week at my parents.

Both of our dogs are crate trained. One is a 25 pound, 4 year old Beagle. The other a 55 pound, one year old Labrador. Both are fairly good in the car, though is it rare we travel anywhere with both of them. And never had we attempted an 8 hour drive.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did in the car for such distance. We’d packed more for them than for ourselves — toys, and bowls, food and crates — to make sure to keep them comfortable and happy on this unexpected trip. I actually commented once to the husband that they were being so good I’d almost forgotten we had both of them in the back seat.

While nervous about making the trip with both, I was pleased at the idea we’d be saving money on boarding. If only that were true.

The crate we have for travel for the Labrador is a NoztoNoz n2 Series Sof-Krate. We’d used it successfully on other trips. This trip however she decided to show us just how clever she was. We came home one night after honestly leaving them for too long in their crates to find her lounging happily on the couch, wagging her tail in greeting as we walked in.

She’d managed to push her way out, knocking the zipper off track. I feared that once having figured this out, we were doomed. She’d know now how to get out of the crate, but the next day with the crating time not being as long we came home to find her in the crate, calmly waiting for us to let her out.

I had hope that perhaps the one time was just a fluke, but no. This one year old Labrador was just playing with us, and happily greeted us on the bed on our next return. $130 later a nice, new metal travel crate from Petco was purchased. If she gets out of this I’m renaming her Houdini!

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