Friday, July 30, 2010

The Lucky Spot

Do any of you remember Troll Dolls?  In truth they were a little before my time.  From what I'm told they were super popular in the 60's with a few short lived revivals in each subsequent decade.  I do however, remember playing with them in elementary school.  These weird little plastic leprechauns with tall colorful hair and a jewel on their belly were all the rage among 5th graders for about 3 months.  I don't know what the jewel was officially for but at school we concluded that you could rub it for good luck. 

Winnie has a spot on the back of her neck that I've come to the same conclusion about.  It was the way we identified her from her litter mates... I guess to say it properly would be to say she has a "splash" of white but whatever.  To me, it's the good luck jewel.  I love it.  I want to touch it all the time.  I think it's funny to see a "splash" of white dashing down the dog park and know it's my pup pressing on ahead without me.  (Although seeing the Corgi Smile on the return trip isn't bad either  ;-) 

So, since Corgis are such an old breed with pretty standard markings (pems particularly) what physical characteristics do you find irresistible about your dog?  Of course, huge ears and stumpy legs are a given. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Corgi Agility...Step One, Read The Book

The Beginner's Guide to Dog AgilityI celebrated my 28th birthday not so long ago and my mom gifted me The Beginner's Guide to Dog Agility and the Kyjen Dog-Agility Starter Kit.  I'm pretty excited about it and wish I wasn't traveling these next few weeks so Winnie and I could start playing with it.  Personally, I think it's pretty cool I still get toys for my birthday.  My brother, thinks it's a sign that I'll never get something for myself again.  That this year my birthday gift was really a gift for mom's 'grand-puppy' and without a doubt future birthday gifts will be for "the two of you", the family", "the house", or whatever applies at the moment.  He may be right but for now I don't mind. 

Kyjen Dog-Agility Starter KitNeither Winnie or I have tried Dog Agility before.  To be completely honest, I'd be thrilled if she just came every time I called her but perhaps something more stimulating to focus on will bring her around.  (It's not that she doesn't come because she doesn't understand... she doesn't come because I'm not offering anything better than what she has at the moment... jerk

The book outlines traits that could indicate a dog would be successful in the sport such as:
  • High Energy Level (check)
  • Willingness to Run (check)
  • Interested in Working with You (hum... checkish)
  • Pray Drive (check)
  • Confidence (check)
  • Trust of People (check)
  • Positive with other Dogs (check)
  • Good Health (double check)
Some might see this list and think "Great, let's rock and roll!" I see this list and think... "Crap, if this doesn't work it's pretty much my fault. (If we were to evaluate this list based on my own characteristics I would rank... well, below average. I'm a home-body, I run because it's less frustrating that putting on weight, I DO like working with my pup but have no prey drive to speak of, so there.)

One of the book reviews on Amazon when something like "My 12 year-old loves it" so my confidence is restored.  It is full of pictures and bulleted lists for easy/fun reading.  Wish me luck.  I'll be sure to post frequent updates.  :-)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dog Sitter

Summer seems to be a good time for travel of all sorts.  And as we all know sometimes our fur-kids just can't come with us.  (Which one of you guys used the term fur-kids?  I know I read it on one of your blogs and I've now taken it as my own.)  However, I'm pretty lucky to have a hand-full of people that are ready and willing to watch the win-monster when needed.  My brother took a shift this month and we got this photo of him scratching Winnie's head.  PURE BLISS!  She loves my bro and I know they had a good time.  I can't thank you dog-sitters enough!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I love your ankles!

I'm sure I can't be the only corgi owner out there that needs to remind their pup NOT to nip at their heels.  Normally one stern reminder and Winnie will break her focus but it never stops amazing me just how strong her herding instinct really is.  I guess it shouldn't be a surprise really.  What do you think?  We've been trying to breed that intuition into our dogs for hundreds of years!  Taking a few pups off the farm and into the house won't make that drive go away.  And as if my ankles weren't enough evidence, check out these pictures of Win at the dog park.  She could care less about that tennis ball... she's trailing the other dogs! 

I'd really like to learn more about the heritage of herding dogs so I can learn to better communicate/understand the state of mind in our furry buddies... if anyone can share books, blogs, instructors, experience, or whatever for me to look into that would be great.  Go Corgi's!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Merle's Door

Winnie and I like to read.  It's not unusual to find us sitting around with a Sitepoint publication (or in Winnie's case a copy of The Doctors Foster & Smith catalog) and a snack.   But summer seems to be a good time to catch up on the books you want to read. 

Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking DogOne of my favorites (of all time, not just on dogs) is one called Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote.  I would absolutely put this on a must read list for dog owners.  The author is an outdoor journalist by trade and Merle's Door seems to be a natural extension for him.  Equal parts research, autobiography, and adventure story Merle's Door let's you have an intimate look at a life long relationship between a man and his dog. 

In the book Merle's Door, Ted has been researching different breeds and trying to find the right pup to match his active lifestyle he finds his perfect match in a stray yellow mutt along the side of a river while on a kayaking trip.  Being a bit of an academic, he finds himself working through eons of dog research and life experience on a 15 year quest to build a life where both man and beast meet their own needs and those of each other.

Merle's Door is a fast read.  (I'm a terribly slow reader and I burned through it in about 2 weeks)  The story is compelling because we find ourselves both in the emotion and the questions that are asked.  We love Merle because Merle is our dog.  We bond with Ted because Ted deals with the same struggles and victories as we do.  I promise you'll love the story but the bibliography is priceless.  This is the book that made me go buy others like The New Work of Dogs: Tending to Life, Love, and Family and The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs.  Whenever Ted is at a turning point on how to handle an issue you'll see a footnote that leads to the richest resources you could ask for.  This book will help you articulate why you do what you do with your dog and give you the tools to carry it out with confidence.  Get it today, you won't be sorry!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hot Dog

Let me start by saying that I know there are a lot of people living out there in the 120 degree DRY Arizona heat but I am not cut out of it.  Michigan has been hit with several days in the 90's with a terribly high humidity and it's starting to take its toll on everyone.  There was actually a heat advisory that included tips such as: stay inside, don't keep pets in the yard all day, drink lots of water, and check on your ill or elderly neighbors.  Winnie has taken this advice to heart.  She planted herself in our recliner and has held her post without much exception.  I snapped this photo last night (sorry for the poor quality, the only thing handy was my phone) when it occurred to me that this was almost exactly the position I found her in that morning. 

So... Winnie and I wish you and yours a summer of fun... as long as it's not too hot.  :-)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekend Travel

Independence Day weekend is a big one for travel in Michigan.  Many people head to their cabins up north or to family get-togethers at state parks.  It's a great idea really because if you ask me Summer is the BEST time to be in Michigan.  Travel somewhere warm when its cold, I say.  Stick around when is beautiful.  We live in the center of the state while most of our family lives south.  This is great news when the interstate looks like a parking lot crawling North but you're heading down the map. 

This weekend we spent a lot of time with family and friends who offered dog-friendly hospitality.  I'd like to send out a big THANK YOU to you and all of you who are sensitive to pets that travel.  Don't get me wrong.  I knew before I got a dog that some decisions would have to be made.  The big decision being "to go or not to go" if your pup can not come along.  Sometimes you can get a house/pet sitter, board at a kennel, drop the pooch off with a relative, or decide to host the event yourself.  But I am always grateful when another host says "Bring her along!"  It takes a little prep but I think its a lot of fun. 

I should have taken more photos but here's the list of Independence Day dog adventures: go for car rides, play with cats, milk table scraps from people that don't know better, run around the FANTASTIC back yard at the in-laws, play with another dog, go for more car rides. I'd like to think Winnie had a good time.  The heat and excitement defiantly pooped her out.  It was in the 90's!  (Here she is falling asleep with her ears in the full upright position.  She's tired but she doesn't want to miss anything.) 

I find it helpful to keep a travel bag packed for her that's just ready to go.  It includes:
  • Food
  • Plastic Food & Water Dishes
  • Yard Leash
  • Poop Bags
  • Shampoo & Towel
  • Ball
  • Raw Hide Chew
It gives us everything we can predictably need to be good house guests.  We also take her travel crate into whoever's house we're staying in so we can be sure she doesn't get into anything when we're out.  I'd feel terrible if great-grandma's special something was turned into a toy while we were out to lunch. 

At any rate, the sleepy pup (now in front of the AC vent) and I had a relaxing weekend with family and friends and I'm very appreciative of those who supported the idea of my furry buddy tagging along.  Thanks!