Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sam's Sweet Stomper - Rest in peace

This evening I received a tearful phone call from my dear friend and mentor, Marla.  She had to help one of her Cardis, Stomper, over the bridge today.

Stomper was Marla's son's dog and he was my Sam's best dog buddy.  The 2 boys were the "Front Yard Dogs" at Mar's for many years; greeting everyone who pulled into the drive in between long naps under the bay window off the kitchen.

Rest in peace, Stomps. I know Big Sam was waiting at the bridge for you.

Sam's Sweet Stomper
December 2, 1994 - September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


That's what we call it now - Ra'gility.  Pu Head loves doing 'gilities.  I had hoped that she would be a herding dog but, she thought herding should be a speed sport and, oddly enough, the judges didn't agree with her. So I've decided to put her need for speed to better use.

We started agility classes this spring - before the National.  I lucked out and found a trainer who teaches classes less than a mile from the house!  Down side?  Classes are outside.  Normally, classes would have gone on hiatus for the summer because it gets too hot here to work outside in the summer (it does?) but an opportunity to rent an indoor facility in C'ville came up so, we've been there for the last 3 months.  When the current session ends (mid-October) we will move back outside.  These VA people are crazy!  Agility outside in the winter and inside in the summer????

Anyway, training Ra for agility has been a completely different experience than training Sam.  When I started training Sam in the winter of 2004, we did very little foundation work.  Sam had to complete an obedience class and then we moved on to agility.  In the agility class we did a little bit of target work and then moved almost immediately to what my current instructor calls "the sexy stuff" - running sequences.  I think I entered Sam in his first trial 10 months after we started classes.  I had a dog who wasn't reliable on weaves and totally couldn't weave on the off-side, wouldn't work ahead of me, knocked bars all the time because he was too busy looking at me while he ran, didn't do rear crosses - basically all the stuff you need to have a really successful agility dog.  Sam and I had a great time with agility though and I credit it with building and strengthening the close bond we share now.

Ra has been doing nothing but foundation work since March.  Just last week we did more than 2 obstacles in a sequence.  She is learning weaves using the 2x2 method - we are working on entries now and haven't done any real weaving yet.  She's barely been on the teeter - we are still working on not being afraid of the bang (a Pu Head issue w/noise).  It's a whole different ball game with a whole different dog.  Ra is much more obstacle focused than Sam ever was - once she knows we are doing 'gilities, there's no stopping her.  My handling is going to have to improve dramatically - along with my physical fitness.  This little dog is a lawn rocket.  I'm either going to have to keep up or learn to handle from a distance - probably a combination of the two.

I'm aiming for our first trials in March 2010; one indoor and a couple weeks later an outdoor trial.  Then it will be the National at the end of April.  It's looking like her sister, Scout, might do agility at the National too.  And a half-sister, Drew, will probably be there too.  What fun!

Ann is taking agility classes with Bogey too.  Not to worry - he's not doing ANY jumping, yet.  Our instructor is very aware of the special needs of Cardis and won't ask him to do anything he shouldn't.  Bogey is already doing very well in class - his job is to clean the tunnel of treats after dogs who aren't confident enough to go through without some incentive.  I think this will be a great experience for both of them.  Obedience was a little too regimented for Mr. B, and Ann too, I think.  They both seem to be enjoying the class so far and it will certainly help build their relationship.

Next Post - Getting Ready for the CCWCC Regional Specialty

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why "The Heathen Horde?"

When you hear it, it sounds bad.  Like I have this swarming mass of undisciplined dogs.  That's not true.....most of the time :)  The name actually came from a neighbor in St. Louis, MO.

It was winter and we were in the midst of a snowstorm.  It was very early in the morning - still dark - when I let Sam, Ginny and, I think it was one of Ginny's daughters (a red), outside.  The 3 dogs ran to the bottom of the yard barking their heads off and refused to be quiet or come back in the house.  So I stomped after them to make my point.  I mentioned it was dark and snowing, right?  There was already 6-8" of snow on the ground and the wind was blowing making the temperature about 26 below w/wind chill.  I was wearing a bathrobe and slippers.  Yes, it was breezy and chilly....

So, I'm chasing the dogs to the bottom of the yard yelling at them when I hear my neighbor call out to me....

"What are you doing with that heathen horde?"
The name stuck and the more I thought about it the more appropriate it seemed.  There are days when Sam makes me think of a marauding Viking (I know, he's Finnish and not Scandinavian).  Gin, despite the genteel manners she learned in her youth, could easily be a Viking priestess or maybe a Valkyrie.  Moira - well, she's a little further removed from her pagan roots.  I would say Moira is the product of a Viking raid on an Irish fishing village :)  Bogey seems to be following in his father's footsteps but he's a smidge more civilized.
Next post - Agility!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Usual Suspects

Ok, I'm a little slow to get started. Living with 4 dogs and working full time can make it difficult to get to something like blogging. So what do I do? Take a break at work to blog!

I think I should probably introduce the Horde first.

The first Horde member was Ginny (CardiRidge Red Ginger 'Spice'). She came to me in 2002, just before her 3rd birthday. Ginny, as you can probably tell from her picture, is an old soul. She has, in my opinion, the perfect red Cardigan bitch temperament and she rules the house with an iron paw in a velvet glove. She thinks 'boys are stupid' but absolutely loves older men (the human variety). She is practically perfect in every way.

Next came Sam (Ch Yardican Roland). Sam came a bare 5 months after Gin and is Ginny's father. Sam is a lot of dog. He's loud, charismatic, funny, smart, manipulative, loving....there's just a lot there. He came to me when he was 4 1/2 years old. He and I have come a long way together. He was my first performance dog (it's great to have a dog with a can-do attitude) and my first show dog (although others handle him for me). I love him dearly and now, at 11 1/2 years old he is an aging frat boy; enters a room believing he is the life of the party, plays too hard and then goes home and crashes while vowing never to do that again - until the next time.

Moira (CardiRidge Sweet Potato Pie HT), Horde member #3. She is Sam's granddaughter and Ginny's niece. She is a lot like her mother, Honey (Yardican CardiRidge Ella Elotuli). Ra is another sweet, funny red girl. Her picture on the blog says it all - Strange Dog. She has some oddities that make life with her interesting. She's a very cautious soul, changes in her environment must be carefully studied before they are accepted. New people must make her list before she will let them touch her. Moira has taken over as my performance dog. First as a herding dog (we have some test level titles) and now as an agility dog. I think agility will be her sport - it's fast and furious, which she loves. Moira has a plethora of nicknames; Ra, Pu, PuPu, PuHead, Red Pu Head, Evil Red Dog, Baby Red Dog.... It goes on and on because I love her so much and one word for love is never enough.

Lastly is Bogey. Bogey actually belongs to my housemate, Ann. He is her first Cardigan and she's getting the full treatment. He is a Sam son and, when all the paperwork is complete his registered name will be All Trade Fairway Xceeds Par. At just 6 months old, Bogey is exactly what you would expect. He's a BOY and we know what Gin says about that :) No, he's wonderful and loads of fun. He starts a foundations agility class next week and will meet sheep for the first time next month. Ann has lots of plans for him.

Next post - Why 'The Heathen Horde?'