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The Good and the Bad

I received an e-mail from the American Spaniel Club wanting details about Ronin. Is seems that Ronin is in the list of the top 5 Cocker Spaniels for 2009 so they are  requesting information and a photo to put in the annual Top Dog catalog.  This is distributed at the National Specialty which is in Richmond, Virginia, this year.  The specialty is in the second week of July and it would be a wonderful trip to attend, compete, and attend the "Cocker Cotillion" awards dinner in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Richmond West where they will possibly mention Ronin. Well, that is a big trip and would cost some serious money for gas, but it would really be fun to do. I missed the National Specialty a few years ago in Perry, Georgia, when Beanie was in the list of Top Dogs and I've regretted not going since then. We're not getting any younger, so if not now, when?

We are set to attend the next three dog shows within 400 miles of home, so it would be nice to pick up another UDX Leg.  Ronin can certainly do it, I just need to keep my head and do the things I've practiced. It's a pity when the dog is trained better than the handler.

The bad news is that Beanie has been loosing weight and not eating consistently well. I set an appointment for her to have her teeth cleaned on March 1st and they did a blood panel in anticipation of that. She had a high white blood cell count, so the vet put her on Clavimox for a week before to a week after the dental appointment to make sure things would be OK.  It turned out she had no tooth problems, they cleaned up nicely. Her ears are great (not infected) and she has occasional gook in her eyes, but I keep that cleared up with ointment. After the antibiotic treatment they did another blood panel to see if that clobbered the potential infection. But instead the white blood cell count had gone up, a lot. So today I took her in with a urine sample to run through the lab. She's not been running any fever and shows no other symptoms except the white blood cell count and a little high in Globulin--other hepatic signs normal. But she's developed a pot belly and still losing weight. So they did a couple of x-rays. Her liver is huge. Everything else is normal except the kidneys didn't show up well and her spleen is out of position clear at the bottom of her tummy instead of being tucked away where it should along the back.  The enlarged liver does not look good.  So the vet is trying to set up an appointment to have an ultrasound done tomorrow.  This will let us know what is going on, maybe.  There is a probability this is cancer.  I'm praying for the best, but am prepared for the worst.

Tonight the dogs are getting one of their favorites: ox tail bones. These are really meaty and are all edible, except for the largest bones, which are really fun to chew on for a few days.  I think I have some venison left which they'll get for breakfast tomorrow.  For me, peanut butter sandwich tonight and the last of this month's cereal for breakfast (that went too fast).  Time to make soup.
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Beanie practice

Beanie at practice. She's on a Down-Stay because she'd be out there doing the exercises in competition with Ronin. She remembers every exercise though it has been over two years since she got her UDX Title and nearly as long since she has been entered in competition. Beanie will be 13 next month.
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5th UDX Leg! Day Three, Longs Peak Dog Training Club, Greeley, Colorado, 2009

Ronin won 5th UDX Leg today. More Later, this note from site on phone.

Later:

Open B went wonderfully! Ronin Dropped on Recall. We lost minor points hear and there. We had stays last and the Down-Stay first -- no problem. Last exercise was the Sit-Stay. I talked him up with "Yay! Ronin! OK!" and we turned around and I sat him with a firm "SIT!". Then the judge had us sit our dogs.  I gave a firm "RONIN!...SIT!". The judge told us to leave our dogs, I paused until after most of the commands, then gave "RONIN!.......STAAAAAAYYY!" and walked slowly out of the ring with the other handlers. That was a long 3 minutes. Coming back in I couldn't see the dogs because there were too many people watching. Finally we entered the ring and ALL the dogs were SITTING! YAAAY!

WE GOT 195 POINTS IN OPEN B (out of 200). Tough competition, we were 5th or 6th. But half way to UDX Leg!!

Utility B was a happy time. We went in calm and confident. I was in the moment...not thinking ahead or behind. We had Scent Discrimination first, and he did that great with both metal and leather articles...slightly off center on one front and a little crooked on a finish. We did Directed Retrieve with the Number 3 glove, next to a handful of onlookers. No problem at all.  We did Signal Exercise and he did the heeling pattern about the best ever and stood on command. He read the signals from across the room and did a beautiful front and finish. Next was Stand For Exam and he was solid.  Now the dreaded Directed Jumping: First the High Jump and then the Bar Jump.  He went out fairly good on the first Go-Out, but a little short and to the left. Did the High Jump. Good Front and Finish. Second Go-Out was short, to the left. Judge decided it was far enough so he let me jump Ronin. Ronin was so angled that he almost had to do a barrel-roll to get over the jump, but he did it!  The judge said, "Wow! I didn't think he could possibly make it!" as Ronin came to a great Front and Finish.

We had DONE IT!  Qualified in both Open B and Utility B on the same day for Ronin's Fifth UDX Leg!  We only need 5 more for a title.

WE GOT 192 POINTS IN UTILITY B (out of 200).  The short Go-Outs had cost 6 points, so Ronin had a 198 going into the Jumping. That would have been enough to have placed him.

RONIN HAS 5 UDX LEGS!!

In other news from the obedience trials, there were 4 runoff dogs for Utility B.  As it turned out the last runoff dog finished 2nd Place. That gave that dog enough OTCH points (Obedience Trial Champion points) to get 100 OTCH points total so that dog got her OTCH!  There was pandemonium, people were screaming and crying, jumping up and down and hugging. The judge goes, like, "WTF!?!?" then realizes it must have been significant, then we told him.  We had cake and pictures afterward. Congratulations to Sandy Paulick and her sheltie named "Sandy's Mystic Mindy Lee".  That made the entire 3 day weekend a special time!!
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Day Two, Longs Peak Dog Training Club, Greeley, Colorado, 2009

I should have put an emphasis on the "ha ha" about Ronin's mastery of Stays yesterday. Today he passed Utility B, doing better than yesterday, but with short (but longer than yesterday) "go outs".  In Open B, he did all the exercises really well; we had a 195 going into the Stays. He did the Drop-on-recall, which he missed yesterday. But he went DOWN on the SIT-STAY. Argh!

All the practice yesterday after the trial did correct or improve the problem areas he had yesterday. But like the game "Whak-A-Mole" another problem popped up: the infamous Sit-Stays.  We did practice that, and he seemed to understand--never a problem in practice. But in the Ring...

Anyway, we had a great time.  He really enjoyed being there at the trials, and had a lot of fun in the ring.

Tomorrow there is another Obedience Trial, and we shall try again.  Put it all together, Ronin!
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Day One, Longs Peak Dog Training Club, Greeley, Colorado, 2009

Ronin had a fairly good day. He definitely was happy throughout. We tried for another UDX leg, but didn't quite make it. 

First off was Utility B and the first exercise was Directed Jumping. He barely went out beyond the jumps, almost not far enough to qualify. The judge really gave us a gift by only penalizing 6 points for each "Go-Out".  We really need to practice longer distances, but it is hard in the winter. Time to stop by some training facilities for drop-in practice.  After squeaking through the jumps, I was discombobulated and blew a lot of what I had practiced so hard for. We Qualified, though, one of 6 out of 15 entries to do so.  The score was good enough to get a trophy as highest scoring Cocker Spaniel in trial (a Toy and a bag of Biscuits).

I had really good feeling going into Open B.  Ronin is rock solid on everything there (ha ha). And he did really well. We had pattern I (one) which is like Utility A. He did really well on everything, including magnificent stays. He didn't even move a centimeter on the Sit-Stay. Someone slammed down some equipment in the next ring just as he was coming off the Broad Jump and he flinched and had a crooked front (1 1/2 points off). In all, he had a 196 going until HE DIDN'T DROP ON RECALL. It was if he didn't even hear it. gAh.

So we practiced "Go-Out"  and "Drop-On-Recall" elsewhere in Island Grove for awhile and signed up for a C Match for practice.  We had a good 20 Minutes of practice to go over problem areas and play with his New Toy. I checked out the area where he was supposed to drop and there were two large electrical transformers on the wall inside the building right there.  And they were HUMMMMMMMing.  Handlers using voice commands for the Drop had problems, those who used hand signals did better. We played around the transformer, then did several practice Drops.  I hope we worked through that problem.

He enjoyed every minute of the day, and made friends with the judges.  A dog that loves to work in the ring is a joy to be with. I hope I can become a better handler to get him the scores he deserves.  Right now he's asleep at my feet. We have two more days of Obedience Trials, and I hope we do better.
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Southern Colorado Kennel Club Obedience Trials, 2009

Ronin took Second Place in Utility B both days, gaining Three (3) more OTCH (Obedience Trial CHampion) points! He was so good!  But it was a long day both days.  The first day in Open B he didn't Drop On Recall and went down on Sit-Stay. The second day he went down on Sit-Stay. Arghh! Back to the practice routines: sit-stays on the bed, couch, late in the day, long time out of site, and so on.

We had a good time.  The facilities, judges, host club, and competitors were the best.  We had B Matches (practice matches) Friday and Saturday night that were really helpful.

Ronin won two new squeaky toys, and this was the most important thing for him all weekend.
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Ronin wins 4th Leg of UDX Title

Ronin won his Fourth Leg towards the Ten needed for his Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) Title at the Rapid City Kennel Club Dog Show and Obedience Trials in Rapid City, South Dakota. Sunday, 18 October, 2009 Ronin took Second Place in Open B and Fourth Place in Utility B and won that 4th leg. It was a tough week for dogs at the Rapid City show. The venue was really nice, the conditions better than most, the judging was great, but that was a human perspective. The dogs seemed to find the trials difficult. Was it too quiet? Too isolated? Too nice? Who knows?

Ronin had a not-so-nice second day, NQ in both Open and Utility. He sort of stared at some commands. The third day he was awake and qualified in Open but couldn't jump again in Utility. Finally he got it together on the fourth day to make the placements mentioned above.

Things we re-learned: Ronin likes slower, clear, calm, and deeper commands. Ronin likes to "exercise" (poop) a lot so we take a few breaks outside. Ronin likes to rest between classes of competition. Ronin needs to be awakened and aware before he goes in the ring. Ronin needs to know there is another side of the ring before he goes out on the directed jumping ;-) . Ronin likes warm-ups before going in the ring. Ronin loves being in the ring. Ronin is cute in the ring.

New things we learned: Photographers making kitten sounds in the next ring are really interesting and it pays to get Ronin's attention back before starting the Drop On Recall. Don't believe the GPS if it selects the "Quickest Route" back home -- check it out first or go the regular way you're used to.

Later, with some pictures:

Scratch That Itch
Scratch that itch
Ronin takes time between Directed Jumps to scratch an itch.


Front Position
Ronin in Front Position
Ronin in Front Position after a successful Directed Jump.


Scoot Into Heel Position
Scooting into Heel position
Ronin scoots into Heel Position to finish a Directed Jump.

Part of the travel group:

Shown here at The Needles in the Black Hills, South Dakota. In this photo: Jennifer Methlie, Gail Clark, Nancy McNair, Ann Chinnock, Karen Nutter, Deborah Badillo.