July 21, 2008 4H Dog Obedience and Agility

4H Dog Obedience and Agility

This years Fountain county fair was another great success; we had a great group of kids and dogs doing agility, showmanship and dog obedience. My son has been doing dog obedience for his 3rd year with Jasmine, our standard poodle. The first year was easy, all on leash and she’s normally very good with sit stays and down stays. Last year was a bit harder, some off leash work but she still did a good job overall. This year was all off leash and although we think she’s obedient enough for home, we figured out obedience 4H style or dog show in general style, isn’t as easy as it seems.
I don’t expect perfection with my dogs, Household manners yes, I insist on them not being obnoxious to people, and of course I don’t tolerate aggression in any form; thankfully I’ve never had that with any of my dogs. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I give kudos to those great dogs that can do it all and do it well, and I know the time the kids have to put into the dogs to get them to that level. I applaud the handlers of those dogs! I just don’t see us putting that sort of time into getting those performances out of Jasmine.
For instance, this year she had to fetch a plastic dumbbell, Jasmine isn’t a retrieving sort of dog, at least in her mind. Yes, she’s a standard poodle. Standard Poodles are like Labrador Retrievers, which are water dogs, and bred to retrieve ducks. I’ve seen them do it! However, apparently Jasmine doesn’t realize this, and thinks she’s a throw rug at our house, content to lie on the floor directly in your path so you have to step over her. She likes squeaky toys, and likes to do tricks; she likes to do agility, but fetching? That’s not going to happen! We worked with her, we clicker trained, we bribed, we did everything we could to make her like her dumbbell but she was not interested in it. We did manage to teach her to open her mouth so we could put it in. Then she immediately drops it. Of course, that wasn’t good enough for dog obedience, but with baseball, other 4H projects and working, there wasn’t really much time to get her any further than that. We knew she was not going to do well this year. We resigned ourselves to that fact and got it in our minds not to get upset when she wouldn’t’ do the fetch. As expected, she didn’t do the fetch. She looked at Drew like “you want me to go get that thing and put it in my mouth? I don’t think so!” That was okay with us. We didn’t’ work very hard on that this summer and we got what we put into it. Not every dog likes dumbbells. I can live with that.
Nevertheless, leave it to Jasmine to be comic relief when the pressure is on. When she had to heel and do a figure eight around two posts, which this year were a couple of our lovely fair queen’s court, she did the typical big dog with a long nose thing. She goosed the girl!
The girl let out a squeal, and sort of jumped forward; I couldn’t help but bust out laughing hysterically. (My apologies to her for my dog’s behavior and my very loud laugh!) Needless to say, Jasmine lost some points for “sniffing”.
Then on Tuesday we had agility and Jasmine found what she really likes to do! She loves running, jumping, climbing, and going through tunnels. She did much better at agility and I intend to get some agility equipment for her to play with at home. I like to see a happy dog!
The most amazing dog was Libby, a German shorthaired pointer with only three legs. She was in an accident a couple of years ago and had to have her left hind leg removed. Libby cleared all the same jumps at the same heights and did it with grace and style. I tell you, it brought tears to my eyes! I was so impressed! Libby was our Grand Champion this year! We had an awesome group of dogs and kids and I hope to see them again next year. I wish we could do agility without obedience, but I guess you have to take the bitter with the sweet. Rules are rules. At least that gives us a whole year to get Jasmine to learn to like her dumbbell or at least to fetch it. We intend to put some real effort into doing that.
The fair has ended, and though as anything you do with your kids’ costs money, I had to think:
Cost of gasoline to drive back and forth to dog obedience this year - $100.00

Cost of dumbbell for dog to fetch $5.00

Watching your dog goose one of the fair queens during her obedience performance – PRICELESS!

July 7, 2008 What's that? A purple poodle!

July 7, 2008

What’s that? A purple poodle!

I do creative grooming competitively, so when Alice Rollins asked me if I had any kid safe dogs I could bring to the free petting zoo at McDonald Park, I said “Sure! What color?” I took Jasmine for a walk after coloring her Saturday, and she stopped traffic, literally! Three cars stopped in the middle of the road and people jumped out with camera phones!
One woman said, “I'm putting this on my MySpace page!”
Little kids fell in love with her, people went crazy for her color and passersby smiled, honked, waved.
She was a HUGE hit on Sunday in the park! She upstaged all the goats, geese, rabbits, donkeys, mini horses, chickens and a box turtle too, (sorry people).
They forgot to make signs for the free petting zoo, so Jo Pugh hurried up to make some while I just walked Jasmine up and down the sidewalk, by the highway... she STOPPED TRAFFIC! Heads were turning as people were driving. I was waiting for someone to hit a pole or building!
Cars pulled over to the curb, which by the way is no place to stop people, it's a HIGHWAY! No matter, people whipped out their cell phone cameras and snapped away.
There were so many comments on the purple poodle and she had her picture taken many times, with little kids loving on her. One little boy who was terrified of dogs after his Grandpa's beagle bit him recently, I told his mom, that's why I brought her, she's good therapy for this...and proceeded to ask him, “Have you ever seen a purple dog?” “No” he replied, as he shudders and scoots away from her. I said, “Well you don't have to worry, she won't bite you, she LOVES kids! How can you be afraid of something that looks like this? Just feel how soft she is” ...he reaches out...tentatively, she turns to lick him and he jumps back, I said “Oh, she’s saying don't stop petting me now!” He reached down and started petting her again.
Several minutes later, after he had visited with all the other animals, I was chatting with someone and I turn and look and that same little boy who is terrified of dogs, is standing there with all the confidence in the world, petting Jasmine on the head! I looked at his mom and smiled, she looked grateful!
I told her I wouldn't bring a dog that wasn't safe.
A little boy with Down's syndrome climbed all over her, literally! She loved it.
Music was playing, I was asked to dance to jazz up the crowd, and I told Alice “Ha! Fat chance, but Jasmine will.” I got some treats and she put on quite the show! What a dog!
She did tricks, I had some kids hand her treats that were afraid of dogs...yep, she's a therapy dog for sure.
I met the world’s cutest and sweetest Chihuahua named Chico who belonged to the mini donkey and horse owner that would win a best kisser award hands down! I would've taken him home! Her husband told me his wife would get rid of him before she got rid of that dog! I don't blame her!
Sheltie Rescue of Greater Lafayette participated and brought adoptable dogs to the park for people to pet and meet, hopefully to get a new forever home.
Our wonderful public library was also there handing out tattoos for the children. You know it’s a sign of the times when a little boy heard they were passing out tattoos and he turned to me and asked, “Do they have needles?” I assured him they were only stick-on tattoos and he wouldn’t feel any pain.
Overall, it was a beautiful day!
Everybody is so busy and it never ceases to amaze me at all the wonderful people we have here in Attica that are willing to put in their time and energy to put on activities like this for our kids. Alice Rollins is a jewel to Attica, she works tirelessly to put things together for the community and help beautify and appreciate our town. I love that we had such a wonderful turnout of people not only to visit the petting zoo, but also to take the time, energy and gasoline to bring those wonderful critters to the park for everyone to see. Those people are jewels as well because they care enough to do something positive for the community with no compensation other than seeing the smiles on the little faces that pet their animals.
I learned that everyone has a story to tell about themselves, and their life. I’m always amazed at the strength some people have after tragedy in their lives. One woman told me about how she had a bad day one day and while wallowing in self-pity and comfort food at a restaurant, she decided to turn it around and told the cashier as she was leaving, I’m paying for their meal too, don’t tell them who did it. She paid for a complete stranger’s meal, and you know what? It made her feel better. Her bad day turned into a good one by that random act of kindness. It didn’t end there, all the frustration she was feeling was about a test she was sure she didn’t pass, but it turns out that she did. I love to see good things happen to good people.
Maybe the next time you see someone on the street, instead of just looking and automatically passing judgment, think about the story in his or her life, because we all have one. You may be amazed to find out just how strong, kind, or wise they are. Think about your own life, how can you turn your tragedies into triumphs? Reach out to your community and pay it forward. You’ll be amazed at the impact you’ll have. Sometimes it can be as simple as a purple poodle putting a smile on a little boy’s face that was afraid of dogs.