Been a few years!

So it’s been a few years since I’ve blogged….. So this won’t take long. I have to start up slow!

Stitching…. Yup I’ve been at it again! Right now I’m trying to finish the Blackbird Designs 2011 Loose Feathers Mystery…. Summer, Autumn and Winter. I’m so close!! Stitched on 30 ct R&R Irish Creme.


I’m crazy into Blackbird Designs… I also have a new start… Strawberry Fields… Stitched on 30 ct WDW Confederate Gray.


Excuse the wrinkles!!!

On the dog front my latest obsession is Barn Hunt. It’s where your dog competes in a timed event to look for a live rat in a tube hidden amongst hay bales. The rats are unharmed, don’t worry… And the dogs are not allowed to bother the rats. Judd, Joey and Why all got their Instinct titles (RATI)! And Joey is a ringer… He got his Novice title (RATN) with a High in Class!



Our next time to try Barnhunt is a clinic on January 10.

My well rounded approach to training….

I almost titled this “On why I take online dog training classes” but I reconsidered because that’s not ALL that I do.  It’s true that some people probably don’t understand why I do it but I think the real conversation is what I get out of a holistic approach to training.

Right now all three of my boys take live classes and online classes.  All three are actively trialing.  All three take a group Obedience class and an Agility class each week, and Judd is about to start some Obedience privates with my wonderful instructor, Renee Hall.  I also am an avid student of the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and I’ve recently started a K9 Conditioning class and a Mental Management (for me) class at Daisy Peel’s Academy.  It is my hope that my “Dream Team” can all be okay with my holistic approach to learning.  I’m a learner by nature and I’ve never been one to be able to learn from just one source.  So far it seems that everyone is okay with it and I think that’s a testament to them as trainers.

My opinion is that no one has all the answers.  People say things in different ways and they can provide very different, very powerful nuggets of learning that come together in a harmonious way. One thing I’m careful about is training with a specific philosophy in mind.  I train Force Free.  I believe in giving a dog a choice and making that choice the easiest and most enticing choice to make.  I do train my dogs with consequences but they will never experience pain in their training.  I strive to always build up their psyche, never to break it down.  I don’t train with collar pops or a prong collar.  These are my philosophies and I’ve been careful to select trainers both online and in person who teach consistently with my training values.

I’m also a full time working person trying to make a living without another person helping me out.  I have a rough schedule because of my commute.  Classes every day just isn’t in the cards for me.  But I’m at the point of my education where I am thirsting for knowledge…  I feel a need to satisfy this thirst daily.  My dogs are all in full training.  So I supplement my in person education with very powerful topic specific information available online.  I’m learning HOW to train and HOW to prepare for trials.  Am I always successful in their application?  Gosh no, that’s far from the truth.

What I get out of in person classes, other than a great instructor, is the opportunity to work my dogs in a more distracting environment.  The space is larger and the exercises are specific.  I learn something from each and every class.  My dogs get a chance to do group stays.  I can’t do that online.  The downside is of course by simple physics, my trainer can’t give me her complete undivided attention.  It’s something I need so I’m about to pursue privates.  We will get to focus on skills and confidence….  two things that Judd sorely needs.  I get to work with a trainer who sees all sides of my dogs and understands them.

What I get out of online classes are pinpointed curriculm lead by World Class trainers who get to know me and my dogs.  They review my videos and are able to comment on points in time down to the second.  I can review my videos again and see exactly where I went off course.  And I have the material permanently.  I can review it whenever I need to.  I don’t need to rely on my very poor memory.  Yes we work on skills but it goes beyond that.  I am so conscious of splitting behaviors and holding criteria now.  Am I always successful?  Heck no! But I am aware and that’s the first step.  And right now Why is in a 12 week intensive program focused on Bridging the Gap between training and trialing.  Denise Fenzi thinks he’s going to make a nice little show dog.  I’m losing my reliance on cookies with him.  His engagement is increasing.  I watch my videos and I realize I never SHUT UP!  This is yet another thing I need to work on in order to teach my dogs that silence doesn’t mean that something is wrong.  Reward schedules and secondary reinforcers.  I’m learning a whole new language.  I’m really looking forward to when this pays off in spades because I really do believe that it will.  The power of videoing yourself and getting second by second feedback is not to be underestimated.  The fact that a Force Free multiple OTCh trainer is giving me that feedback makes it that much more powerful.  And Denise is just one of the many World Class trainers that I have come to know.  Oh, and I can’t negate the benefit of reading other people’s threads….  the degree of knowledge that one can cull out of other people’s homework can’t be overlooked.  Often times we have similar challenges or perhaps a certain quote is heavily impacted.

Most recently, I have started some work with Daisy Peel and Bobbie Lyons.  Bobbie is helping me through a nine week course of Canine Conditioning that uses a Fitness Peanut.  Why has little stamina. He needs core strength in addition to aerobic fitness to build his ability to have the stamina for trialing.  We’re having a blast.  He loves his Peanut!  We’ve just started and I can’t wait to start seeing results.  The class with Daisy is entirely different.  So far my focus has been 100% on the dogs and their preparation.  The fact of the matter is…  I’m a Novice Competitor.  I have goals but I’m blind as to what I need to personally do to manage my own mental state.  The class comes with 5 or 6 one on one coaching sessions via Skype.  Just last night I talked to Daisy for 45 mites.  She coached me on how to start setting performance goals and then got into the nitty gritty about how to notice and change my own behavior in order to help replicate the performance in warmup with the performance in the ring.  Sure a part of it is my dog, but I have serious ring nerves.  She gave me some exercises to do and some really sound advice.  I can’t wait to try it out this weekend.

For me, through this approach, I’ve found balance and my knowledge has increased ten fold in the last year.  My training is all harmonized and in the end I hope I make my entire “Dream Team” proud of me.  They all work together to keep me on task.  I have the best of all worlds and the very best group of people to help me.  I fell very blessed.

Catching up

Sigh…  I need to blog more often.

So much to talk about…

I’ve had a bunch of finishes in stitching!  There’s a sale going on at the framer until end of August so I’ve been stitching like a maniac.

Gilded Cage by Carriage House Samplings

Wild Berries by Blackbird Designs


Summer Arbor by The Drawn Thread


Spring Arbor by The Drawn Thread


Land That I Love by Shepherd’s Bush


A Little Liberty by Lizzie Kate


Star Spangled Sampler by A Heart in Hand


I’ve also started to get into quilting again.  It’s a bit like riding a bike.  The hardest part was figuring out how to use my machine again!  I decided to keep working on blocks for quilts already in progress.

The first step of course was to organize and create a quilting workspace.  I’m quite pleased with it although I need a sturdier chair (or a better diet..  LOL)

My Quilting Workstation


The top shelves have magazines.  The baskets all contain do-dads that I need.  The drawers have more tools…  the ones on the left are all Block of the Month quilt kits.

I DO have an old machine but you can’t beat old quality.  This is a Singer 301A.  It’s a solid workhorse.  I just ordered a Juki TL 2000QI for the actual quilting process.  If I find that I get REALLY into quilting again, I can get a Grace frame that accommodates the Juki.  It would fit great on my back wall!  But it would be an investment.

Here’s my latest quilt block…  it’s part of a Sampler Quilt made from templates that I started when I took my very first class on beginner learning how to quilt. ..  before they allowed us to use rotary cutters!  LOL.  This is a classic block and is a variation on the “Drunkard’s Path”.  I can’t believe I picked curved piecing to get back into quilting!

Quilt block for Sampler Quilt – Adaptation of the “Drunkard’s Path”


Otherwise I’ve been busy training my boys!  Judd is now officially:


Basically he has lots and lots of titles, mostly in Obedience and Rally..  but a few in Agility.

I special ordered him a ribbon holder and he’s been filling it to the MAX.  I have a generic one on order with just a Paw Print in order to put placement ribbons.  Paws In the Patch is wonderful…  they designed the Standing Field Lab logo just for me!


Judd’s Ribbons

In order to help with their training, I’ve decided to convert the basement into a training area.  I sometimes get water up through the drain so I had to come up with a solution…  the mats are on order and I should get them quickly!

I’m ordering from Great…  really good prices…  in the end I’ll have about a 20′ x 30′ training area that stays cool in the Summer and warm in the Winter.  It will be great for basic agility work and for Obedience work.  Judd is starting to trial at the Utility level (highest Competition Obedience level) in CDSP and we need more room to work… and he tends to melt in the heat…  black dog in the heat = bad…..

Flooring that I'm putting into my basement.  Soft and cushy!

Flooring that I’m putting into my basement. Soft and cushy!


I sometimes get moisture in my basement so I wanted to lay something under the mats to help with drainage…

Tiles I'm laying under my agility mats in the basement to help with drainage

Tiles I’m laying under my agility mats in the basement to help with drainage

My other main thing is CAMPING…  oh…  I think I have to put that in quotes…  “camping”… LOL…  my camper is probably nicer than my house!  I’ve enjoyed it so much that Monday I’m moving the camper to a seasonal site at the Campground.  This means that I can go up basically anytime I want between March 15 and October 15 for mini getaways.  The boys LOVE it and so do I.

Here’s an example of roughing it in the woods!

Grilling from the side of the trailer


They also have a gorgeous pool…  Jackson and Leigh came up to visit last weekend..  did I mention that the campground is only a half hour away??

Jackson and Me in the pool at the campground


Jackson….. so cute!!!



So this weekend I was able to video the boys working outside…  today…  SNOW!

A while back, My Canon Rebel XTi broke….  dead.  doornail.  Well, I found out that Canon sells refurbished equipment at deep discounts.  I was able to get a much more recent version of the Canon Rebel with an Image Stabilizer lens for about $350!  Unbelievable!  A new camera body only is pretty close to $700 or $800.  I have several thousand dollars in lenses and haven’t been able to use them.

Well, it came yesterday!  Since I was stuck at home with a dead battery in my truck that was blocking my SUV…  I decided to play around with my camera after lunch.  Why is LOVING the snow!  He’s such a playful boy anyway.

Running for Joy!

He thinks there is something small and furry hiding under the leaves in the flower bed… hunting…

On the hunt…

My future agility dog! Speed Demon!

Still Hunting!

Killing a (toy) skunk. Shake it up boy!

That’s a hard (toy) skunk to kill!

Ahhh… Victory!

“Ok, mom…. I’m getting cold now.”

Fun day with the dogs!

Had a great morning playing with the boys and taking some video clips…  this is the first time I’m going to try to embed a video.  Should be interesting!

Why was amazing….  he did his FIRST Jumpers with Weaves sequence.  We had a little bit of a bobble in handling on the first try and then on the second try he didn’t want to weave on the right and got distracted with a stick…  LOL.  Silly dog!  This was also his first time working in the side yard!

Take 1:

Take 2:

Judd was also a REALLY fantastic boy!  He did his Scent Discrimination exercise for the second time outdoors.  This is huge.  Judd is not typically a dog to work Obedience well outside and he only recently learned this exercise.  He does show a broken Stay but the rest of it was pretty fantastic.

Judd also did the agility sequence.  He’s quite a bit (ok…  A LOT) more advanced than Why but Judd has been in serious agility training since April and I have only had Why for a few months!

Take 1:

Take 2:

This is the course we followed.  I got it out of an old Clean Run magazine.  I LOVE the Backyard Dogs articles… they always have short sequences that can be worked in a small space focusing on key skills.  This course is a Mary Ellen Barry course.

There were a couple of challenges on this course, especially for Why.  This was his first time doing a 270 degree turn which occurs between #2 and #3. Then the entry to weaves is tough.  Why struggled with this because he just learned how to weave this month and has a hard time still weaving on my right.  Judd knows weaving…  he was able to pick his entry easily without help from me.  The next challenge is from #7 to #8.  It’s a 180 degree turn.  Not a big deal for Judd but for a very beginner dog like Why, he still needs to learn.

When Judd is confident he’s actually a very advanced dog….  his challenges are with ring nerves.  I showed him a bit this Summer in CPE and he finished Level 1 and has a Level 2 title, CL2-H.  He’s competing in Level 2 and Level 3.   I’m VERY proud of him!

It’s been so long!


It’s been so long since I’ve blogged….  so much has happened…  I have a 2 year old nephew who I love more than anything in this world… I have a new job at a different company…  I’m older (ugh)… Fancy, my hydrocephalus cat passed away 2 years ago this coming February… I adopted a WONDERFUL Labrador a little less than 2 years ago … I adopted an AMAZING Miniature American Shepherd (aka Mini Aussie) a few months ago … I have rediscovered the joy of reading … I have finished many more stitching projects … I have made some new and wonderful friends … I have found a new passion in training and competing my dogs … I need to get back to blogging.

I plan on posting videos (mostly dog related), brags (again…  dogs!), pictures of my stitching, pictures (and brags) of my nephew!

More soon to come…  right now I have to get to the framer! 

Things getting framed!


Spot the Horse by Carriage House Samplings

Sunflower Fairy by Mirabilia

Love Birds by Miss Crescent’s Crowne

Briar Rabbit by La D Da

Finished Sweet Rose Bag!

This project was doomed from the start with me but it’s finally finished!  I made a mitake on the finishing.  Dumb mistake but correctable.  I put the cording around the top instead of the sides and I had to take the silk lining out since I was putting it on the wrong place.  Duh!  All I had to do was look at the picture.  Oh well…  it’s corrected now!

This was one of the classes that I took at Celebrations this year….

It’s Sweet Rose Bag by Louise Henderson of Cherished Stitches.

Here’s the front:

Sweet Rose Bag Front

And the back.  I adapted some letters from the Gift of Stitching for my initials.

Sweet Rose Bag Back

Yeah!  Happy Dancing!!!!