Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We've been out Adventuring!

Okay...so I've been slacking. When Piper was a puppy, I was really good about blogging. Why the silence on my end? Simple, now that Piper's growth plates have fused, I've been out enjoying activities with him. For all the photos, you can check out Piper's facebook page but here are the highlights.

Let me start by saying, a lot has changed. My wild man isn't so wild anymore. Don't get me wrong, he can definitely throw down some miles but he uses his "off switch" a lot more now, even when we're outside.

We have made quite a few trips to the beach and even though we're outside, he's occasionally content just sunning himself. that's not to say he hasn't dug his fair share of potentially record breaking holes in the sand.

Of course, life hasn't been just a beach. Piper has been working hard to earn his kibble! He has been in a few photo shoots this year. Talk about a good way to test your long distance commands! Here he is shooting for an otter box commercial. I wish I checked in on the photos more because he was really working the camera but ultimately, I'd rather be out riding my bike with Piper! In the otter box commercial, they had a helicam which was very interesting...it gave us a lot more to work on. Mr Piper could not help but watch the flying thing (not very good acting on his part) but ultimately, we were all just happy he didn't play "grab the flying object".

Piper loves to go mountain biking and even seems to understand trail etiquette. He moves off the trail if you "Beep Beep" at him and generally keeps his eyes open for other trail users. He's so good that he's even helped train some of his friends to be good cycling companions. Some of his herding buddies liked to bite tires but after riding with Piper a few times, they learned the rules of the trail!

I love this picture because it reminds me so much of the one when he was a little puppy. Piper is the best trail running companion. He laps me every time but I'm hard-pressed to find a running partner that is always so eager to hit the trail! He's become more adventurous in wandering off the trail (perhaps something he learned while mushroom foraging) which is great for me because it means he's logging more miles without me having to run farther!

Piper LOVES treeing squirrels, which I hear is a UKC sport now. I try to keep his safety vest on him during hunting season though. I don't think anyone could confuse him with a deer but a fox...definitely. He's got a good nose for birds too.

Piper also got to meet his mother Della. Alyson was generous enough to place Della with my parents and they couldn't be happier with her. She is a bit of a couch potato but when she sees birds, she comes alive! At first, I wasn't sure if they remembered each other but now, I'm pretty sure they do! Mild-mannered, quiet Della has no problem putting her unruly son in his place, should he get too rambunctious indoors or commit any other offense but all in all, they have a great time together!

Besides meeting his mother, Piper also got to meet his dad, Brady when we went to Florida for 10 days. What a sweet boy! The only thing I regret is not getting out there sooner so I could have met Gretchen Botner in person. Piper and Brady didn't play so much, since they were too interested in the girls but some of their mannerisms were strikingly similar. And could their markings be any closer?!

Okay, well that's not all of our adventures but it's a lot of them. I will try to post more this year but no promises because if I have to choose between posting and playing, I'll choose playing! BUT as always, if you have questions, feel free to contact me. I love chatting with past, current, and potential toller people.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers Born November 24th, 2012

Cute toller puppies? Yep, I can post on that, especially since I got to hug and kiss all of the puppies personally this time! Here are all the little ones. There are 2 boys and 4 girls and every puppy has that signature white tail tip.

The mother is Grand Champion Cyon's Calamity Jane CD RE CGC. Cali has lots of retrieve drive...she can go all day long! But when the ball goes away, she's happy to lounge on the couch. She was such fun when I visited Florida. Cali is a great mother and a real cuddler too.

The father (sire) is Champion Katyra's Winter Silas CD WCI. Between shows, Silas visits hospitals. He is beauty, brains, and drive. He has won Best Puppy in Group, won first place in all of his obedience competitions, and earned his hunting Working Certificate and Working Certificate Intermediate with minimal training.

I know that at least 3 of the puppies are spoken for. I only wish I were further along with Piper so that I could consider getting one. Alyson posted pictures of the toller puppies' first time outside. They are cute and addicting, so don't say I didn't warn you!

And now for a personal testament for Alyson as a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breeder, she is the best! Obviously I think Piper is the greatest thing on 4 legs (and on some days, I don't include the 4-leg qualifier, but don't tell the husband). But I could not have asked for more in a breeder. Since Piper is my first dog, I came in with zero expectations but I got so lucky! Alyson is an amazing toller breeder who breeds dogs that are first and foremost great family dogs. They're smart and attractive dogs that you can live with. I can't tell you how many people stop me in the street to rave about Piper's manners and/or beauty. I joke that Piper's good at making me look good. He's biddable and therefore he makes me look like a good trainer and he's correct making me look like a good handler!

But I digress...back to Alyson. I had the pleasure of staying at her house for 10 days this winter and seeing her interact with the dogs. I believe that anyone can put up a good show for 2-3 days but once you are a guest for 5+ days, you get to see how things are really run. Let me say, I was impressed! And that's a tall order because if you've read any of my other posts, you know that I believe Alyson is the gold standard in terms of breeders. Everything was very clean, safe, and dog-proof but the best part was that every dog (even the visitors) got individual attention. In a world where "breeder" is sometimes a dirty word, Alyson can restore your faith in honest, reputable, responsible breeders...yes, Virginia good breeders that care about every dog they produce DO exist!

If you are considering getting a toller, there are a lot of resources out there for you. I am happy to answer any questions that you have. I interviewed a lot of breeders (many of them very good) and I am happy to pass along what I've learned.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Piper's Pro Photos from 2012

Well, I sort of fell off the radar. Between a new job and wedding, I've been busy. We've gone on many adventures but here are the professional photos we've gotten this year.

Piper the toller gets a group placement at only 14 months old.

Piper the toller tries his best to imitate a "professor" photo.
The cute face I see every day.

Cyon's High Stakes Piper adds an RA to his name.
Piper wins Best of Opposite.
Piper the ring bearer.

This photo pretty much sums him up. Always front and center!

How wonderful is this boy? At 18 months old, he and his 3-year-old cousin walked down the aisle on a loose lead. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grooming Your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: Blow Drying

After you've bathed your toller, it's time to dry him off. Even if you don't plan on showing your toller, drying is nice because leaving your dog's hair wet puts him at risk for fungal infections. A video I made for a friend is at the bottom of the page. But let's get to it.

Here's what you'll need:
Forced Air Dryer (or hair dryer with "cool" setting)*
Conditioning spray

*Forced air is best because it will dry your dog faster, blow off any loose hair (no shedding), and it shouldn't get hot.

Here's what will make it easier:
Pin Brush
Slicker brush

Drying your toller for the conformation ring is more time consuming than difficult and there are two things to remember: dry your toller completely and dry from back to front.

Caution: Use only the lowest setting your dryer offers on or around your dog's sensitive parts (eyes, ears, mouth, face, bottom, underbelly). A powerful dryer can actually tear the skin which is painful and cruel. Also, the air coming out of the blow dryer should not be hot. Your dog's skin is very sensitive to heat and can be burned very easily. As long as the temperature of the area where you are drying your dog isn't cold, you don't have to worry about freezing him.

1) Drying your dog's back: Start at your dog's rump and with the dryer blowing toward your dog's tail, move your hand in a zigzag pattern (somewhat quickly) up the back toward the neck. Once you reach the neck, lift the dryer straight up and repeat.

2) Drying your dog's sides: Depending on how big your dog is, you may want to blow the hair differently. If you have a bigger bodied dog, you may want to aim the blow dryer exclusively in the direction of the hair, making it lie as flat as possible. If you have a narrower dog, you may want to aim the blow dryer against the hair, making it as fluffy as possible.

Notes on Grooming and the Standard
The standard calls for a "natural" looking dog that isn't over-groomed. If you're like me, you probably misunderstood that. "Natural" does not mean ungroomed. You shouldn't be sculpting and shaping like Goldens but the judge wants to see your dog's structure and if he's muddy with waves going in all directions, it might be difficult to see what's body and what's hair.
There is extensive grooming for Goldens, here is MBIS GCH Gemini Fallchase The Butler Did It SDHF,BISS,BOSS,CGC  image from dogwebs.net
BIS MRBIS BISSN MBISS Am GCh Can GCh Readyfor Going to the Max CGN WC RN AGNJS after winning Best of Breed at Westminster 2012. He looks clean and presentable, but he hasn't had his tail, chest, underbelly, etc shaped like the Golden.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Weekend Photo Dump

We had an amazing weekend. We went on a lot of hikes and I got some great shots of my favorite guys. So I'll get to it.

Piper the snow dog! This toller is always posing for pictures.

My two favorite guys trampling through the snow.

With a mighty leap, Piper manages to keep his paws dry.

Todd was happy to find some mountain biking stunts and Piper was happy to find some agility equipment.

Can a dog be spring loaded? If only you knew how many pictures I have where he is a blur.

This dog walk is way more fun than those indoor ones!

Agility in the wild. Mind those contacts!

As you can guess...this log was a little mushy. That didn't stop Todd and Piper from walking back and forth on it.

Piper can't resist a good log to leap over but he is learning efficiency in jumping.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. They're characters.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Puppies, Show Prep, and Some Small Claims to Fame

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Puppies
Okay, if you didn't see my updates on the toller puppy posts, then you don't know that 8 chubby puppies were born February 6th and 7th, 2012. There are 5 boys and 3 girls. For more pictures of cute toller puppies, check out the Cyon Tollers Facebook page. Of course they also have cute pictures of adult tollers (I suppose Piper falls into that category now).

Joan helps us (read me) clean up our turns
We're going for more titles! Joan has been our dog trainer extraordinaire. Joan offers dog classes of all varieties including all levels of Rally, competition Obedience, companion obedience, tracking, Puppy Kindergarten, Therapy, Agility, and anything else you could think of at Dog Days in Vancouver, Washington. We have been attending Rally Advanced classes and it is easy to see why it's so hard to get into one of her classes! I love that Joan teaches to your ability level AND your goals. We have a low ability level but high goals, so she always sends us home with a lot to work on! She also understands what it's like to be busy, so I don't have to feel shame if I haven't had enough time to practice all of our homework. Piper totally blew me away on his Rally Novice legs, helping me realize that he is an amazing dog and deserves proper preparation. Joan has really cleaned up our act so I look forward to the time that we're ready to compete (and not just cross our fingers)!

But Piper's not all brains and no beauty. He is entered in conformation at the Linn County Shows February 24-27th (majors Saturday and Sunday) and the supported Toller entry at Albany again March 31-April 1st. Piper watched Westminster so hopefully he picked up some tips. As for me, I'm growing in my show goals. My goal is and always has been to survive but this time, I think I am going to try to increase my consistency in the ring (and maybe even remember something afterward).

The cutest Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Now on to our claims to fame.

I posted a picture of Piper and within 3 days, it had 250,000 hits! I've always loved this picture but now I can say it. Cyon's High Stakes Piper RN has basically been certified the cutest toller puppy ever (or maybe even the cutest puppy ever).

Our second claim to fame is a bit more modest. It's just that we groomed next to Aaron Nicholas Andriash who handled GCH Readyfor Going To The Max to Best of Breed at Westminster in 2012 and has handled other top performing tollers. He's a really nice guy and I was pretty excited that he would even stoop to talk to newbies like myself but also that he gave me some grooming tips! I shouldn't be surprised since all of the toller people I've met so far have been great but I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Can all toller people be incredibly nice and helpful? It's statistically improbable but so far, I have the pleasure of saying that they are!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Conformation for Beginners: What Happens in the Ring

Before my first show, I realized that I had no idea what happens in the ring at a conformation dog show. Turns out there's not many good results if you search for "Beginner's guide to dog shows" or "What do I do in a conformation dog show?" so I am here to tell you what to expect when you step into the ring.

Of course, there is a lot preparation that you can expect before you even get to the show but here's what to expect when you step in the ring. The diagram is the ring. The little Cyon's High Stakes Piper is meant to symbolize your dog as well as other dogs in the ring. The sexy lady without a shirt on is supposed to be the judge but I can pretty much guarantee your judge will look nothing like that. Let's get to it.

 Step 1: The ring steward has let you into the class and directs you where to stack your dog. You, among with any competitors, will hand stack your dog. The judge will probably quickly eyeball all of the dogs from the side and front.
Step 2: The judge will probably ask all of the competitors to take their dogs around the ring at the same time. If you are the person in front, you should ask the people behind you if they are ready before you start moving. If you are not, you want to be close enough to the person in front of you that the judge can easily see both dogs at the same time but not so close that your dog thinks it's play time.
Step 3: Hand stack your dog for inspection. If you are first to go around, you will be the first the judge inspects. For inspection, you want to hand stack your dog. The judge will open your dog's mouth to look at the bite and teeth. Then the judge will run his or her hands over your dog, feeling the shoulders, hips, and legs. If you have a male dog, the judge will check to see that your dog has both testicles (the judge will reach from the top, over the tail, not underneath between the legs).
Step 4: Out and Back with a freestack at the end. The judge may ask you to do one of several patterns. The most common is the "out and back". After you run whatever pattern is asked, you freestack your dog in line with the judge (ideally the judge would be able to see through your dogs front feet to his back feet).
                Out and Back- along the diagonal, you trot your dog straight away from the judge and then straight back. Be careful that it is YOUR DOG that is straight in line with the judge and not yourself. 
                Triangle- this is pretty self explanatory. I will load an image later but know that on first and last leg of the triangle, you should be straight in line with the judge (1st leg straight away, 3rd leg straight toward). In going from the 2nd to 3rd leg, I add a loop left turn instead of a sharp right.
                L- this is probably the toughest but no one has asked me to run an L yet (only in practice). Basically you run straight away from the judge parallel to the wall, turn left before you run into the wall and go straight along that wall. Once you get to the end, you turn around and head straight back down the wall but SWITCH hands so the dog is on the inside of the ring and you are on the outside. Then you turn right once you are in line with the judge and SWITCH hands again so the dog is back on your left side.

Step 5: Go around the ring by yourself. This is pretty self explanatory, so I won't make an image. You go around the ring and end up at the end of the line. Freestack your dog once you get back to line.

Step 6: Once the last dog has been inspected, have your dog handstacked. The judge may look over them all before sending them around the ring again.

Step 6: Go around the ring as a group and hand stack. This is basically the final go before the judge selects the winners. Same rules apply as Step 2. Once you stop, hand stack your dog.

Step 7: Winners will be announced. If you're in the classes, they will be selected in the order they placed. In Best of Breed, winners will be selected in the following order. Best of Breed, Best of Winners (the best between Winner's Dog and Winner's Bitch), Best of Opposite.