Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cuddledown Cover Girl

Patch Mountain and Blackthorn Dalmatians were thrilled to see that the winter 2010 Cuddledown Catalog front cover featured one of our puppies, Patch Mt Spring Thyme at Blackthorn, "Spring", owned by Sara Pruyne (Ch Patch Mt's About Time CD, TD, RE, NAJ, OA, VCD1) x (Am/Can Ch Blackthorn Coreopis of PatchMt TDX RN NA NAJ CAN TDX). I was conacted about using some of my Dalmatians in a photo shoot this fall and we took 3 of our adult Dals and puppy Spring. Cuddledown has a new line of bedding called Walk in the Park that they were introducing this winter and wanted a front cover shot with a Dalmatian. They took lots of photos of our dogs in groups and separately lying and sitting on their high end bedding. We were not sure which photo they would end up using but are pleased that it was "Spring". I must admit she was the star of the photo shoot!

Linda McSherry

Monday, December 28, 2009

Take Your Dog to Work Day

One of the advantages of being a year round employee at a high school is how quiet things are during school vacations. While I have to work over the holidays, it is a great opportunity to get caught up on all those little things - like filing - I would rather put off. And, because things are slow, I get to bring Spring to work with me. Here she is in the office keeping herself occupied with a beef knuckle bone. She gets to meet and greet those few visitors I do get, and visit with kids coming into the school for winter sports. Its all about confidence building.

Almost makes being 1 of 2 secretaries in the building during this week worthwhile.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tracking Certification in the snow

I'm very pleased to report that yesterday, December 19th, was a great tracking day in Gardiner Maine!

Mary Thompson and Celeste Kelly made the trip to the fields that are part of the Gardiner Family Land Trust. Judy Hermon has been very forunate to be able to obtain use of these fields for tracking, and this was a first attempt to plot realistic tracks. The snow was about 4 to 6 inches deep, with several places only having a slight dusting. Temps were around 30, with only a slight wind towards the end of the third track. The main entrance road was not open, so only the front fields were used. Lots of untouched fields further back and further up the road.

To PASS their certifications were:

Dalmatian - Lucy - Patch Mt's Legend in Time - owned and run by Linda McSherry. Lucy looked around while Linda was putting her harness on as in wondering what they could possibly be doing there - in the snow! Linda stuck to her normal start routine, scented Lucy at the start flag, and then held on to the line for a dash down the track. At the corners Lucy would do a 10 foot circle, hit the track and pull Linda down the new leg. Linda said she had way over dressed for the romp across the fields.

Next up was Golden Retriever - Brian - owned and run by Judy Hermon. Prior to the start Judy kept say the those things that her instructors had told her - be firm, keep your bearings, go forward when he says to, be positive! Again, a good start routine and Brian committed to the track and pulled Judy down the leg. Brian was very methodical, moving the whole track at a good, fast walk and never hesitating or missing a corner. At the glove Judy was out a breath and so thrilled that all her hard work and training paid off with a dedicated tracking partner.

Last to go - Dalmatian - Spring - Patch Mt's Spring Thyme at Blackthorn - owned and run by Sara Pruyne. Spring is just 6 months and 2 weeks old and showed her puppy training curves at times. She would charged down the track for 60 yards, come back to check in, sniff the tufts of grass, and then zoom down the track some more. When on the track she would bury her complete head in the footsteps, as if she couldn't get enough of that good smell. A couple of crosstracks by hikers and loose dogs only caused her a slight hestitation, casting a few feet on either side of the track, then to charged across the path and down the correct leg of the track. The wind had started to pick up at this point, and she worked out where the real scent was, learning lessons as she went. At the glove she even laid down in the snow! Good job Baby Girl.

Thank you Mary and Celeste for having the faith that we would actually practice in the snow and that our dogs were ready for their certifications. And these fields will give the Club an opportunity to have tests in other areas of the state. Wait until they can come back in the spring and see all the great possibilities for TD and TDX tracks.

A special Thank You to Judy Hermon for hosting us and being such a successful student!

Oh - did I mention that the 2 Dalmatians are granddaughters of CT CH Carina? Tracking must be in those genes!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy Birthday

Well, yesterday the puppies were 6 months old. Time sure does seem to fly.

Here is Spring modeling the leather harness made by Ed Presnell. Her picture and the harness should be up on his website - - in the near future. While he sells a great line of nylon harnesses and lines, I do love my leather harnesses. This was a prototype, so I'm not sure what changes will be made to the final product. Now let's hope the weather continues like it is so we can practice some more.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What great weather for the end of November! Linda and I were able to get in some tracking using our favorite fields.

I had a chance to talk to the land owner's son-in law and he graciously said that the recently posted No Trespessing signs certainly did not apply to us! During hunting season he has some issues with people taking advantage of the situation but knew that we always respect their property, pickup any trash we do find, never leave a trace we were there and stay out just before they are ready to hay. A little respect goes a long way in building good neighborhood relationships.

Hopefully Spring and Lucy will be able to get "certified" for tracking before the snow flies, otherwise we will have to wait until after the winter snow melts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

End of Year Progress Report

Well, it looks like we are about done showing for the year. Although there are shows in December they have moved them from Boston to Rhode Island and that is just a bit too far just before the holidays. However, we did end up with a VERY successful year.

Carina - CT CH PatchMtn C Pepper N Paisley RE OA OAJ NF NJP NAP RD CPC PAC
Passed her Variable Surface Tracking test to earn her Champion Tracking title
Qualified in 3 straight runs to earn her Novice Preferred Standard Agility title
Qualified in 3 straight runs to earn her Novice Preferred Jumpers with Weaves title
Qualified in an Open Jumpers run to earn her Open Jumpers with Weaves title
Qualified in an Open Preferred Standard and Open Preferred Jumpers with Weaves to start on that title

Corey - Am/Can CH Blackthorn Coreopis of Patch Mt TDX RN NA NAJ Can TDX
Qualified in Novice Jumpers with Weaves to earn his title
Qualified in an Open Standard to start on that title
Earned 2 Rally Advanced legs toward that title

and for Linda
Maeve - CH Patch Mt's About Time VCD1 OA
Qualified in Open Standard to finish her title
Qualified in 2 runs towards her Open Jumpers title
Qualified in her first Excellent Standard run to start on that title
Most important - Maeve's agility runs have all been clean runs!
AND - she took a big part of the year off to have a litter of wonderful puppies sired by Corey

Violet - Am/Can CH Blackthorn Violet of PatchMt TD NA NAJ Can TD
Passed her Tracking Dog test for her title
Qualified in Novice Jumpers with Weaves to finish that title
Qualified in 2 Open Jumpers with Weaves to start on that title

Lucy - PatchMt
Earned all single points necessary towards her Championship title, several with Best of Winners awards.

And several dogs either bred by us or co-owned have also done equally as well.

Daisy - CH Blackthorn's Flower Power - came back from having a litter of puppies to go Best In Speciality at both of DCSNE's shows, had several more Best of Breed wins and numerous Group 1 wins.

Jenna - coowned by Linda and Dawn Eliot-Johnson was Winners Bitch at Southern New England Speciality for her first major.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Role Models

Do adult dogs make good role models for puppies? People will frequently get a puppy as their current dog gets older. One reason is they hope the puppy will follow the older dog's good examples. Aren't we always hopeful? Spring has learned to sit patiently at the back door next to her father when it is time to come in. Wait and some one will eventually come and open the door. Better than her Grandmother Carina who jumps on the door and stares in! But - I can't say Corey is always the better role model. Running through the house when you do get let in, chasing after your wild man father isn't what I would prefer. And, how about these photos. Sitting and laying on the back of the couch so you can keep an eye on Mom while she is in the kitchen. The back of the couch is now flatten out to make a perfect size bed for a puppy to curl up on.

But, with Grandma Carina along ALL new things are fun, safe and exciting. Greeting new people and dogs is easier with the comfort and support of the world's best dog and people friendly Carina.

Of course, Carina has also taught Spring to chase the horses up and down the fence line - with the horses bucking and inviting the chase the whole way! Maybe when the time comes Carina can be a good role model on the horse riding trails, though.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Agility in the Dark

Well, I've been trying to get Carina and Corey on the agility equipment at least a couple of times a week. With it getting dark so early that can be a challenge. The lights make it possible, but there sure are lots of shadows!

Here is Carina practicing her contacts. When we compete she actually does "running" contacts, where she isn't required to actually stop and touch the end of the obstacle. BUT, in training I do make her for reinforcement. Otherwise they can get much worse when actually on the course. Because Carina already has so many titles, I'm not sure how much I'll push her for more. I would like to finish up her Open Preferred titles in both Jumpers and Standard, but not sure if Excellent is in the future or not. I'll have to listen to how she works over the course of the next few months. ALL our activities need to be fun for all of us. IF it's not fun, we aren't going to do it. Of course, going for trail rides will always be fun for all of us - maybe even Roxie the paint mare!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to Agility Training

Except for last Thursday the weather here in Maine has been wonderful. Clear days with temps in the 50's to 60's. Finally got a chance to mow the agility training area one last time (I hope). Now we REALLY have to practice for the Springfield trials in a couple of weeks. All the dogs have the hardest time with the weave poles, all for VERY different reasons. Carina's back gets sore, Maeve just goes TOO fast, Corey is picky about the base of the poles and Violet says 12 is just too many. Since my husband originally put up outside lights so I could ride my horse in that area, we can now convert to nighttime agility work. Depending on many factors we might try to make some indoor trials over the winter. Its hard to plan and commit because travel can be such an unknown during the winter months.

And, Violet has been bred, thanks to the wonder of chilled, ship semen. Now fingers crossed that all the hard work and planning pays off. We'll keep you posted!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Here is Violet standing by the pond. She is officially Am/Can CH Blackthorn Violet of Patch Mt Am/Can TD NA NAJ.

Violet is now in heat and will be bred over the next couple of days. Because the sire is not a local dog we will be doing her using artificial insemination - which sure requires lots of work and planning.

We'll keep you posted on how things proceed. Fingers crossed that the breeding takes and we have puppies!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Here are a couple of pictures of Spring! First is her learning to follow where I go, hopefully on a loose leash. Not actual heeling at this point, for any number of reasons, but not getting in the habit of blindly pulling and going where SHE wants to go.

And then one of her stacked. Either her tail was slightly down or wagging so fast it was a blur. Linda thought the one with her tail slightly down was the best choice!

And she has gone off to Camp Gagnon with our very good friend Marie for a week of doggie play and socialization. Marie runs a boarding, training and grooming business so Spring will have more exposure there, not least is spending house time with 3 other dogs and a bunch of house cats. Maybe she will learn NOT to chase the barn kitty all the time!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How They Grow

Here is a picture of Maeve at 4.5 months.

Last night Linda and I went to the local high school to practice our urban tracking. Because it gets dark SO early we were very pleased with how well lit the parking lots were. We'll be practicing work on blacktop and cement until the snow starts to accumulate.

While waiting for the tracks to age we brought Spring into the school and sat in the foyer. She got to met several new people and even ran the halls for a bit with a couple of very nice teen age girls. She can never get too much good socialization.

And, then, we wondered just how much she is maturing. We love to show our puppies early, but wonder if Spring will really be competitive this winter. So, here is a picture of her mother at the same age. Tonight at puppy class we will take a stacked picture of Spring for comparison.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Urban Tracking Dogs

Here are Maeve and Linda participating in the Dog Tracking Club of Maine's Urban Tracking Match. The match was held at the University of New England campus in Biddeford. Beautiful location, but sure was windy along the waterfront.

Maeve did an excellent job considering she has only been working on hard surfaces and around school grounds for about 6 weeks. The average training time to be competent in an urban environment is about 2 years, so we still need some work, but she was looking good!

And, Spring went along for the visit. She still needs to be out meeting new people and dogs at every opportunity we can get. Kids in Halloween costumes was a real adventure, but she did wonderful.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Birthday Parties

It really is fun getting photos from families who have gotten Dalmatians from us in the past. Here
UOCH, MOTCH, OTCH Patch MT's Sharp Dressed Man UDX7, AX, AXJ, TDInc. (Tuxedo) celebrates his 10th birthday with the newest addition to the family PatchMt Second Time Around (Ditto). Tuxedo is obviously quite used to wearing birthday hats after all those years! Ditto will learn how to properly wear a birthday hat as she grows up.

Here is puppy (Amber) Patch Mt & Blackthorn's Atlantic Time helping to celebrate her older Dalmatian house mate's birthday. (Spencer), Patch Mt's Blaze of Glory's celebrates his second birthday. Spencer is the mascot for the local fire station.

Therapy Dogs

Here is a cute picture of Ghost and his buddy Fenway at the local nursing home. We couldn't be prouder of all that Dawn has accomplished with this young dog.

Ghost has his AKC championship, advanced rally titles, is competing in agility and now is actively using his Therapy Dog International title with weekly visits to the nursing home and soon to be a regular at the local hospital.

And Fenway wins the award for my all time favorite Sheltie. Kathy Jo has worked very hard with training Fenway and the effort shows as they have already accumulated their advanced Rally titles and novice agility title.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tracking - It's What We DO

Well our dogs are multi-talented, tracking is my passion. Here is a picture of Violet tracking in my fields. She earned her AKC Tracking Dog title in fine style at a test in Vermont a couple of weeks ago.

Maeve and Corey are working on their Variable Surface Tracking titles, training once a week at the local schools. It is amazing to watch them work around the sports fields without even noticing all the activity. Just focused on their tracking and finding all the things we have left behind. And, what great PR for the breed. Corey got stopped twice yesterday on his track to be petted and fussed over - and then it was back to work to find things.

And Spring is progressing nicely in her training. We still use lots of treats to help build drive down the track and to keep her focused to the task at hand, but titles are definitely in her future. Last night she did great crossing the parking lot, and across the area filled with acorns. Maybe we can get her ready for the test at the Dalmatian Club of America National Speciality in April in Kansas. The tricky part is hoping for an early spring in Maine!

And Carina - the ace Champion Tracker - now gets to concentrate on agility - and maybe someday try for her Canadian Urban Tracking titles!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Puppy Training in Minutes

Because I have yet to win the Lottery, I have to work for a living. That limits the time I can spending doing things I would rather do - like riding my horse and training my dogs.

So, I have to train when I can. A few minutes in the mornings and at night happens in the daily living at my house. Everyone must wait patiently while breakfast and supper are prepared.

Here is Spring and Corey waiting, and of course begging, while Don prepares his breakfast. Spring can sit for the several minutes it takes, and guess what - Corey can sit pretty for pretty much the whole time, too! I won't say where Carina is waiting at - she is the Queen Bee and can do what she wants - she knows she will be feed first - let the others do all the work!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spring at Puppy Class

Spring is enrolled in a Wednesday Night puppy class. Here is her learning, in one sessions, how to run to her mat and lay down. We had NOT trained a down prior to last night. Oh, the power of clickers, food and positive rewards!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Puppy Teething

Well, the good news is that Spring's bite -how her teeth line up - looks very nice and correct. The bad news - she is STILL loosing some of her baby teeth. We were playing tugger the other night and she yelped, and started chewing on something. I pried open her mouth in time to see a tooth being swollowed. Oh well, a little natural calcium in her diet!

To help her with the teething process I make sure she gets a raw, meaty bone every day when I leave for work. Sure helps her like her crating area and helps keep her occupied while I'm gone. I went to the local butcher shop and bought lots of knuckle bones cut to about 3 inches long each. I am NOT a proponent of marrow bones. The short ones - about an inch or two long - can get caught on the dog's lower jaws. Linda and I have both had THAT very scary situation happen. And the longer ones chip off pieces, in addition to the marrow in the center getting really rancid. I have also bought oxtail bones at the local Walmart recently. Why anyone would buy them except for dog bones is beyond me.

Rawhide chews contain way to many chemicals for my comfort level, and I had a dog - poor Cheeca - almost choke to death on one once. I threw out all I had at the time and have never given my dogs rawhide since then.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Puppy Socialization

Well, let's see if we can get back into posting on a more consistent basis.

Puppies sure are a LOT of work. Socialization will continue for many, many months, and then real obedience work will begin. Here is a picture of Spring at an introduction to agility class. It was just a chance to get her out and about. Yesterday she went up the road to play with our neighbor's Bernese Mountain Dog puppies - who are only a couple of days older.

It was interesting watch them all meet for the first time. All 3 were timid and unsure for the first 30 seconds, then touched noses, and then it was off and running! Within minutes they were all playing well and chasing around the fields like old buddies. It cannot be stress enough how important it is for puppies to learn how to play with other puppies. They learn important body language signals that we just can't give them. As all these puppies are headed for show careers they need to be able to read other dog's signals and feel happy and confident meeting new dogs. We have always said the Carina and Corey go to shows just to make new friends. Corey almost insists he must say "Hi" to every dog there before he can focus. Makes a HUGE difference for the life time of dog show and trial experiences.

BTW - that is sister Lucy leading the way up the A-frame!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Shots, Heat and Storms

Well, hopefully everyone has been to the vet's this week for their puppy booster shots. Depending on your vet's recommendation, that should be the last Parvo/Distempter shot they need for a year. Next year at this time we will do 1 booster, then they should be good with that course for many years.

Rabies vaccinations will be given in a month or so. Because our dogs are out in the fields a lot and I do see bats flying around the dog yard in the evening I don't want to delay that for too long, but I also don't want to compromise any immune systems by too many shots too close together. Rabies is absolutely required in all states, and frequency preferrably being an initial, a booster at a year, and then on a 3 year cycle. Corey and Violet had their 3 year booster yesterday to match that schedule.

And when I was a Walmart getting my tracking photos they made an announcement about a dog in a car. All I could think was "What idiots. They don't even deserve to own a dog". Temps in the 90's and leaving the dog in the car while they shop in the air conditioning! And we KNOW the line never moves quick in that store. It only take minutes for heat stroke to hit. Try sitting in your car with the windows only slightly open and see how hot you get. Not a pleasant experience.

And, storms are predicted for this weekend as Hurricane Bob passes off the coast. Think I'll really make my husband Don wonder if I've really gone dog crazy. Let's take the puppy out and play in the rain and thunder. Learn that SPECIAL treats happen during storms. Just might help prevent the fear of thunder storms as Spring grows up.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All Gone

Well, with the puppies all in their new homes Linda's life is back to normal. Now, updates can cover how the puppies progress and other notes of interest.

For catch-up, here are a couple of pictures of the puppies grandmother Carina dong her AKC Champion Tracker test at Colby College in Waterville Maine.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Last To GO

The last to go and everyone's favorite was Swatch (Ditto) whose company we got to enjoy for one last week. She had lots of adventures and went to work with Richard on Friday which was a real treat for her and for his office staff as well.
It didn't take Ditto long to warm up to her wonderful new family. They arrived with toys, including a big green turtle almost as big as Ditto, but she claimed it right off and was prancing around with it in tow.
Ditto's family had gotten a Dalmatian from us before and we were more than pleased to see her go to such a wonderful family.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today was departure day for Amber (Longines) who will be traveling to Canada with Grandma Sara and to her new home and a career as a show girl. As you can see from the photo of her stacked that her tail never stops.

We heard from Zoey's (Cartier) family that it went very well and their older Dal Tommy liked the new addition and was last seen snuggling on the dog bed with him. She met several other dogs and lots of children yesterday and handled it very well.
Good girl Zoey!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Richard is back home now after returning from a wonderful visit with Marlowe's new family. When last seen Marlowe was snoozing on the sofa with his new little girl and his Jack Russel sibling, Emma.

Cartier (Zoey) left today to join her new family in Vermont and their 12 year old Dal Tommy who came from a litter Sara bred long ago and two young children.

Longines (Amber) leaves tommorow for her new family in Canada and a career as a show girl. I'm going to co-own her and she will return to the US to finish her Championship once she is done in Canada.

We took the two remaining pups Ditto and Longines for a walk with their grandmother "Gracie" Ch Paisley Patch MT's Amazing Grace RD, Am/Can CD, RN, NA, ROMX in our woods. They loved running and exploring and Grandma Gracie at age 13 enjoyed the grandpups.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Puppy Imprint Period

While some will call the next few weeks a "Fear Imprint" period, I hate that description. What happens is that the puppies are ready to absorb all kinds of information, good AND bad. These experiences will last the life time of the puppy.

That is the reason why socialization is oh so very important. Anything you might expect your puppy to experience in the future, you should expose them to now, and make it a very positive experience. A puppy left to stress during a thunderstorm during this period, for example, could result in an imprinted fear of storms and thunder. Why not go and play a fun game in the rain instead? Use food and toys to form a GOOD association with thunderstorms!

A puppy might also associate cloth with danger after pulling a table cloth along with some noisy dishes down onto him self. Car rides, boat rides, children, toddlers, noise, activity, all should be managed in a happy and safe environment. Puppies are like children. They are fragile and don’t realize their fragility nor do they understand the danger present in many interesting common items. It is up to you to form positive experiences and make the world seem safe and fun.

I would very much expect my puppy to question "Big Scary" things. From their perspective this could be new dogs, people with hats, screaming children, machinery and even my horses. Puppies without a strong survival instinct would be in big trouble. Don't panic if you puppy cries as the big dogs run by. Laugh and play with the puppy so he feel safe and secure. Walk by busy streets and use food and happy words to calm and relax the puppy. If you feel apprehensive because of his behavior, you will only be reinforcing the fact that loud noises are indeed soemthing to be worried about.

Encourage your puppy to be brave - very, very brave. Say it in a happy, upbeat tone. Cuddlying and hiding your puppy will reinforce shyness and that, too, will come back to haunt you over their lifetime.

YOUR attitude, upbeat, happy, friendly and excited will be transmitted to your puppy. Now, take that puppy out there in the big, wide world and play, play, play!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Today my husband Richard is flying Marlowe (Rolex) to his new family in the Midwest. Marlowe will be travelling in a soft sided bag designed especially for taking pets in the cabin. He will be flying first class! It takes a great deal of planning getting a puppy to their new homes in the summer by air. Airlines have an embargo on flying animals as cargo during the warm summer months and we won't fly young puppies as cargo anyway.
Marlowe was up early for breakfast and then played for two hours with his litter mates to get him good and tired. He will be riding to Boston in a red crate next to Richard for the 2 1/2 hour trip. He has lots of toys to play with on the way. That trip should go well as none of the pups have been car sick. He will have lunch and some play time before boarding the plane and will hopefully sleep during the flight.
Goodbye sweet Marlowe, he is such a wonderful puppy. We will miss you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Puppy School

Well, the puppies are 9 weeks old and ready to start class. So, last night off to Marie's Beginner class. Because they are so young you must realize their attention span is limited - to say the least.
And, ALL training must be fun. Food is used to lure the puppies into position. If the puppy lifts it's head, it's butt automatically drops - There, a sit!

Food between the paws will help them lay down to be close to the treat - What a good down Ditto!


Food in front of their nose will cause a stand- what a good show dog Spring is learning to be.

While we have tried to produce great temperamented puppies - the most work is now up to the new owner. It is never too early to start classes, but wait and it could well be too late to undo bad habits.

Socialize and exposure to new surroundings are key to a happy, well adjusted adult.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Carina's New Title

The AKC description reads: The Variable Surface Tracking Test is a test of credibility, verifying the dog’s ability to recognize and follow human scent while adapting to changing scenting conditions. The test is to be as practical as possible while demonstrating the dog’s willingness and ability to follow a specific scent given to the dog at the start of the test. The training and conditioning of the dog must be designed to develop the inner drive, motivation, and determination necessary for the dog to work with intensity and perseverance.
The Variable Surface track is from 600 to 800 years in length and must include a minimum of 3 different surfaces such as packed dirt, asphalt, and mowed lawn. Stairs, drive ways, roads, underpasses, gravel, concrete, wood chips and brick patios are also possible surfaces one might find on a test track. The tracking team must find 3 articles, 1 each of plastic, metal and leather on the track.

Due to the urban sites, there are generally many unknown cross tracks to be negotiated and frequently people, dogs, cats and moving vehicles are encountered along the way. Concentration on the job and the ability to recover quickly from distractions are among the skills the variable surface tracking dog must learn.

At Colby College in Waterville Maine on Sunday August 2nd Carina joined a very elite group of dogs by PASSING her VST test. She is only the 4th Dalmatian in breed history to accomplish this, and the first one who also possess her Road Dog title.

Good Dog Carina!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Quick Update

Linda and I are off this week at an AKC Variable Surface Tracking Test.

So ... just a quick picture. Bleve is fitting into his new home, making friends with the kitty and going to a pancake breakfast.

Spring spent last night in her new home too. After a busy day interacting with the 3 adult Dals, she was so tired she slept all through the night. And because Don was VERY observant, she did not have any accidents.

We should be back to regular blogging next week.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ELGIN (BLEVE) and his new family

Today the first of the pups went to their new home. Elgin's new family Jeremy and Erin were well prepared for the new addition. Elgin's new name is BLEVE a firefighter's term. We have been working on teaching him his new name and what a smart boy he is. By the time they left Erin had him well on his way to learning a proper sit. He even tried one of his dad's famous "sit pretty" poses. Some things just seem to be passed on!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Far We've Come

In just these 8 short weeks the pups have grown and become wonderful puppies ready for their new homes. It is a very labor intensive process...raising puppies the right way but so rewarding. As sad as it is to see them go we are so proud and pleased with how this litter has turned out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Name Game and Staying Safe

As puppies get ready to go to their new homes it is important to remember that puppy must always be kept in a safe environment. Crates are an excellent way to keep puppies safe while you are unable to watch them. It is kind of like having a toddler in that you must think of things that puppy may get into and protect them. Baby gates are another good solution to keeping young pups safe. Puppy will come to understand that by your keeping him safe he then develops trust in you. Life-long connections with your puppy develop at this stage.

One important aspect of keeping puppy safe is making the connection with their name and learning that when you call them and they come to you wonderful things happen. For those pups that have their real names now we have started imprinting that. At this age puppies are underfoot and want to follow and be with you. We take them individually for walks in the yard and let them get a bit ahead or behind us and call their name and the instant they turn and look at us and start to come toward us we reward them with excited praise and when they get to us they get a tasty treat. It doesn't take long for puppy to learn that his new name is associated with wonderful things (you and a treat). That is why we NEVER call a puppy to us and punish or scold them. We only use positive reinforcement in training puppies. It is so easy to train a solid recall at this age and can save the life of your puppy in the future.

These pups are very comfortable napping in a crate.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yesterday the puppies went to the local vet's and received their first shots. This was a "3 Way" vaccine, containing only the vaccine for the diseases that are deadly for puppies and adults alike - Distemper, Parvo and Hepatitis. While there are vaccines for other diseases, they are not considered life threatening and can how potential side affects. The puppies will need to receive a second booster shot on THURSDAY AUGUST 20th. Again, we would recommend the 3 Way vaccine, but please consult your own veterinarian for their recommendation.

And, then, here are some pictures of Spring! starting her first tracking lesson. AKC Tracking is a modified version of search and rescue work. We only do this for fun, the pressure of real work is very demanding on both the owners and dogs.

The first photo is her getting her puppy harness on and being shown that there are food drops hidden in the grass. Within 3 steps she has learned to bury her nose i n the grass and search for food. Over the course of the next couple of lessons she will quickly make the transition to the food being where the person walked. Food drops will become further apart as she figures the game out.

And, at the end, she finds the GLOVE! Of course, she doesn't understand that part at all on Day 1, but we will work on tugger games seperately and really encourage her to play rough with gloves, socks, belts and other things she finds on the ground. Means that at home we have to keep things picked up. Corey will grab winter gloves off the table and run through the house to show what he has found. Just means housekeeping has to be done or WE accept responsibility for destroyed gloves and socks.

And the last picture is Spring! tracking on pavement. Urban tracking is definately in her future and we will be introducing a variety of surfaces right from the start.