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So, I entered three Rally Trials during the weekend of April 14 with the Golden.  He only needed one more leg to earn his Rally Novice Title, which we earned with a very respectable score of 91 (and first place).  The second run that day we earned a score of 95 and first place again.  I never even considered moving him up for the next day, and we earned a 98 (and again first place) on our final run of the weekend.

And then the mental wheels started turning on the drive home, and the question of what did it take to qualify for the Rally National slipped into my brain.  On the drive home I called a friend who looked it up for me – Three scores within the qualifying period of 93 or higher, which meant the Golden was a 2/3rds of the way there.

Many years ago the Labrador qualified for the very first Rally National, and we competed.  And now the wheels in my brain were spinning.  “Oh I probably wouldn’t go….”  It’s in Tulsa in 2019 which is a very, very long drive from where I am.  “But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say he qualified….”

I overnighted my entries the next day for another local trial.  Again, three trials in two days.  One on Saturday and two on Sunday.  Three chances to get one more score above 93!  I figured those were good odds.

On that Saturday we walked out of the ring with a score of 98 and another first place!  We did it!  We were qualified for the Rally National!  Which meant that the trial on Sunday could just be training!  Didn’t matter what happened, we had achieved our goal!

Only as we left the ring, and friends and other competitors came up to us their comments were things like “Why aren’t you in the other ring with him?” (The obedience ring) and “You need to move him up for tomorrow!”  But, I protested, we haven’t trained those other things!  “It’s just the Advanced signs without the jump, so pivots and fronts without moving.”  And…pivots we have.   “And you can lure the fronts….”  But, but…..  “It’s just an optional titling class….”

Yeah, I responded to peer pressure.  I moved him up.  I told myself on the way home to just keep thinking about it as training.  It didn’t get us anything to stay in Novice since we’d achieved our goal, so moving to Intermediate would give us practice on some of the Advanced signs on leash in a ring!  It was all good.  At least until I remembered there could be an offset figure 8!  There could be tennis balls in the ring!  So then panicked I pulled up the signs and realized there were also new Advanced signs since I lasted competed in Advance!  Wait?  I have to turn right and the dog turns left and WHAT?

After I started breathing again, I realized the Golden knows how to go around me.  We should be able to “fake” it.  I reminded myself to think of it as training, and heading back to the trial.

We came out of the ring with a score of 100, and first place!  Why yes, I was floating on cloud nine!  Our second run there was a Left Turn – Dog Circles Right – Forward (Sign 120).  I should have thought a bit more because I approached the sign and started my left turn, the Golden nicely pivoted with me, so I backed up, said I was going to retry it, sent him around me first, then I turned… 3pts lost, but ONLY 3pts lost!  Score of 97!  Not too bad for a class I didn’t think we had any chance in!

And now of course the brain is thinking, “one more and you’d be qualified for the National for Intermediate….”



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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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September we competed and didn’t do so well.  We manged only two Q’s all weekend.  Something was off, and I actually scratched from a few classes.  I don’t know what it was — if something about the site was bothering her (there was constant noise from the highway as we were very close), or what.  Seeing that she wasn’t having fun, we scratched several classes on Sunday but stayed to run our first Elite Tunnels run!  My Tunnel Dog decided whatever was bothering her, tunnels were still more fun and she pulled of her first Elite Q!!

October’s trial was much more fun, though rather cold!  This was our first time running in Open in many classes and we came away with several Open Qs!

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Ever since we lost our last beagle, about two and a half years ago I started questioning veterinarians.  He was clearly sick.  The first words out of the vet’s mouth when she saw him was, “He has Lyme Disease.”  But then the SNAP test came back negative.  So she decided he must have ruptured a disc in his spine, and recommended crate rest and drugs.  I recall asking about x-rays, but was discouraged as the vet said it might not show up, the symptoms were all pointing to it and he was a beagle, who are prone to IVDD.

Two and a half years ago, I was not a good enough advocate for my dog.  Ten days later he was still clearly in pain, the medication was not causing an improvement.  I called back and asked more questions about Lyme Disease, only then when I directly asked was I told that false negatives on Lyme tests were “common.”  I asked if there was another test and again was discouraged from doing this by being told it would be several hundred dollars to run it.  The impression I was left with was that it was extremely costly, not worth it since they’d already “diagnosed” him and that they weren’t really interested in doing it.  But I knew my dog wasn’t getting better, so this time I followed up with another question.  I asked what the treatment for Lyme was, and if it would harm my dog if we put him on it.  Only three days later he was doing much better.  A few months later we lost him, and looking back I feel perhaps I still wasn’t being the best advocate for my dog I should have been, but I starting to learn.

So now I try to be a better advocate for my dog.  I research and read.  I have notebooks filled with information I’ve learned, and definitions for things I never studied having just a B.S. in English.  I study and talk with other dog owners, breeders and vets.  Things I took for granted years ago, now I know better (like the idea that you “must” vaccinate annually).  And I’m using that information to be a better partner in my dogs’ care.  Because of me and my pushing, my vet has now agreed to titer testing.  I’m helping educate him as I educate myself.  The other day when our first titer results came in his first words to me were “I’m going to give you a lot more information than I would another patient.”  I smiled. He knows I have questions, that I’m wanting to learn and do the best I can for my dogs with the information I have now.  He knows I won’t blindly follow his recommends, and takes the time to explain them.  Sometimes I’m amazed he puts up with me, other times I think he enjoys the challenge.

My blind faith in their recommendations is gone.  I now ask why.  I now work to understand, so that I’m not just taking someone else’s word for the fact that this is best for my dog.  Because I’m the only voice that dog has.

On the other hand, as I struggled through the research, and emails and phone calls with my vet, as I challenged his protocols and fought for what I feel is best for my dogs, my husband says to me, “Well, I’m sure you know what’s best.”

That kind of blind faith is overwhelming.  I can only hope that he’s right.  I have so much more to learn.

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This week we’ve worked on leg weaves, which he now easily executes. Time to move on to walking as he weaves (and hoping he doesn’t trip me!). We’ve been working more on “over” for roll over, and loose leash walking. I keep reminding myself it’s a process. I want heeling which is a specific position, and then I want “with me” which means you can move as far as you want as long as the leash doesn’t get tight. Heeling is going well. With me, well we’re still working on it!

In fact, heeling is going so well we impressed the crowd at the Show N Go this weekend. I had only planned on taking the Golden along for the experience of being in a show-like environment, but decided at the end of the week to enter him in Rally Novice for two runs. It was the first time he was in a ring, and the first time he’s seen Rally signs. And he was amazing! For the figure eight the pylons were food bowls — didn’t phase him! The judge was in a wheelchair, which she moved around — he glanced, but focused right back! The left about turn that we’ve never practiced – he did with a look at me like, “What? That wasn’t hard. Why are you looking at me amazed?” He even managed the down, walk around dog without breaking his stay! He was excellent in his crate when I left him there. Did fantastic in the warm up area, and I walked him through the crowds a few times, and he was nicely focused on mom. I’m very proud of my boy!

So new places and things this week were plenty! The Show N Go being the highlight of course, but we also spent some time outside our local grocery store checking out shopping carts and learning that if I look at mom when people walk by I get treats! Was a rather nice way to spend a few moments. He got on a bus this week as well. No hesitation, and got pets for that. And we had our first restaurant, outside meal where he lay at my chair patiently as we ordered, ate and relaxed. He was so good he earned Red Robin french fry!


I think he liked it. With this success, we also went to Panera, where he did just as well laying patiently as people came by, we got our food, and as we ate. We even upped the distractions on that one by bringing the Labrador as well. He still did fantastic.

This week he also got to go to Agility Practice. While he’s too young to be doing any jumping and such, it was a great socialization experience. He got to meet other people and dogs, and I was pleased to see him being polite about it.

He never ceases to amaze and impress me.

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I’ve always known that dogs have puppy teeth, loose them and their adult teeth come in. I’ve just never really paid attention to the process. This time though, I’ve been watching. The Golden has learned the command “Show Teeth.” But even so, the first time the Labrador came around the corner with blood all over her neck I freaked!

Then I realized what happened. The Golden had lost a tooth and smeared blood over all her while they wrestled. I’ve watched the holes appear. I watched as a molar came in, covered in gum then finally break through with a little white point at the start. That has to hurt.

Today the Labrador came to me with blood smeared on her again. The Golden’s top and bottom left canines, which were there yesterday are now gone. I’ve never found a tooth, only evidence of it’s loss. The Golden is now partially fangless!

My baby boy is growing up. Getting his adult teeth. At least they won’t be as needle sharp!

EDIT:  Correction — all four canines are gone now.  He is truly Fangless!  And for the first time I actually found a tooth!  Is it weird to want to save your dog’s baby teeth?

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Yesterday, after a nice walk in the woods with the Golden I returned home and announced I would mow the lawn while the Husband worked on our hedge. I was going to mow, set up the ring gates and get some training in with the Labrador. Ah, the best laid plans…..

The grass was a little high, and the Nylabone was green. I missed it when picking up the toys to clear the way for mowing. The mower didn’t. It came out the back like a projectile weapon (or WMLD as we are now calling it — Weapon of My Leg Destruction), and nailed me in the leg. At first all I knew was that something hard struck me. I stopped the mower, yelled for my Husband and then realized I’d better sit down before I fell down. I wasn’t in pain yet, nor did I realize my jeans were becoming quickly soaked in blood.

Despite my insistence that he just get me some ibuprofen and let me “lay right here a bit” he was certain I needed to go to the Emergency Room. I’d moved from the chair to laying in the grass to prevent myself from falling there, just incase. I refused his offer to call an ambulance, laying there watching a plane fly overhead while he got my purse and our insurance cards. Out of ice, we improvised with frozen blueberries (such a waste!), and put pressure and blueberries on the wound while he drove me down the road to the ER.

Coming into an ER bleeding apparently gets you faster service. While this makes sense, it wasn’t something I really needed to learn. X-rays were first, followed by drugs and something to numb the area, which actually still wasn’t really hurting. I asked the doctor if I’d be able to go hiking tomorrow. He said sure! Good bedside manner, but damn he’s a liar. Then he started to clean it out. Still didn’t hurt, though it felt odd. And then he made a noise followed by, “Oh, this is deeper than I thought. Very deep.”

I trusted him and didn’t look.

It took them awhile to find the drain they wanted to install to help prevent infection. And by the time they did and started sewing it into me all the good numbing drugs started to wear off. Which meant the pain began to start. I really don’t like pain. When I was admitted they asked me to rate my pain on a scale from 1 to 10 — I told them maybe a 2. Now we were hitting 8, and rising. I could feel things I didn’t want to feel as he finished up stitching me back together like Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

They cleaned me up, gave me some prescriptions and sent me hobbling home. Despite the drugs, the pain increased, and with the size of the bandage we had to cut my jeans to get them off me. Considering I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to get all the blood out, I have to say one of the nurses recommended hydrogen peroxide, and it did wonders for my shoes and socks.

So lessons learned:

  1. Triple check the yard for dog toys before mowing.
  2. Hydrogen peroxide gets out blood.
  3. Let husband do all the mowing, or wear shin guards!

I was supposed to have a private agility lesson with the Labrador today. Having just hobbled down the hallway to the bathroom moments before writing this, I couldn’t help but laugh at the mental image of me trying to work an agility course right now. My distance work just isn’t that good yet!!

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