And they used to be so cute- adolescent puppies

Spice and her siblings are 8 months old now. Over the past month, I’ve noticed definite changes in Spice’s behavior and energy level.  From the reports I’ve gotten from their people, her siblings are going through the same phase.  

Spice has gone from a cuddly puppy to a very active, more than a little pushy, bundle of energy.  While this bodes well for a successful dog sports career, she is a pet and member of the family first and I’m not buying into the theory that a dog has to be rude and obnoxious to have enough drive for agility. 

What this means is that right now a lot of training is happening in day to day life. It’s really easy to get busy and ignore the calm puppy lying in a dog bed and chewing a bone , but those are the things that need to be rewarded and encouraged. Lately I’ve had to remind Spice that jumping into my face and chewing on my nose isn’t such a good greeting in my culture, but that cuddling next to me on the couch will result in petting and attention. 

The upside to increased maturity is that Spice has much more attention and engagement in training sessions.  Until recently I had to keep sessions to 1-2 minutes (never a bad idea, really) and tightly control the environment with gates, leashes, etc.  This morning when I turned off the video at the end of a lesson (you do video your training sessions, right?), I realized we had been working for more than 6 minutes. Spice was off leash in my basement training area, with the door at the top of the stairs open, and never really left work.  Some of my transitions between activities could have been smoother, there was a little sniffing there, but she came back to work readily. I don’t have great toy play with her yet, but am happy with the way she is willing to play with just me. 

This is an unedited video and unfortunately I moved one of my props outside of the camera range, but it gives you the idea. I know there are 8 month old puppies running agility courses, but I’m not in a hurry to get there. This session is pretty typical of what I’m doing with Spice now- agility foundation behaviors, shaping, relationship building, and body awareness. If you’re a Susan Garrett groupie like me (and if not you should be), you may recognize some of the things we are doing. Anyway here’s Spice’s training session


PBGVCA 2016We just returned home from a 2 week road trip to the PBGV national specialty in Indianapolis. This was the first year that the club has offered a triathlon, where handlers are encouraged to try to qualify in three or more events with the same dog during the week. This challenge sounded perfect for us, so I entered all 7 adult PBGVs in triathlon. 
This year’s show had the benefit of being just a one day drive from home, but we broke up the drive by stopping in Ohio for 3 days of agility. Chili and CC had perfect weekends and Salsa had some really fast runs, so we were feeling really encouraged as we headed to Indy. 

We arrived at the host hotel in Monday morning and settled in. It was a pretty nice place, although the abundance of republican presidential candidates and protection trained German Shepherds kind of made it feel like we were vacationing in enemy territory. I was disappointed to discover that Muse had come into season, which meant she wouldn’t be able to compete in any events. 
Tuesday was agility. The site was great- nice turf and air conditioning. Both the regional and national trials were held the same day, which meant that even without Muse I would be doing 26 runs. Overall the pack had a great day and earned 17 Qs. This was Wally’s debut trial and he did really well. It’s taken me a while to feel like he is ready to compete, but I think waiting was the right choice. Salsa ended up winning the national High in Trial by 0.26 yards per second for her standard run- not an easy feat since she was running at full height and had to compete with some really fast preferred dogs. This trial was a great example of just how good PBGVs can be at agility. The qualifying rate for the day was 50%, which is much higher than you would see at an all breed trial. 

Wednesday was a day off, but we woke up to discover that the generator wasn’t working. Luckily the repair was covered under warranty, but we were without power for 2 days while it was fixed. We did slip away to see the racetrack on Wednesday morning. 
Thursday was the regional obedience and rally trial. I was worried about how the boys would work, since they were living in tight quarters with Muse, but they did a great job in obedience. Wally got his first CD leg with a fourth place and Gromit placed first in a large beginner novice class. 

In rally, the boys were trying for legs towards Wally’s excellent title and Gromit’s advanced, but I also had Chili and Maya entered so they would have a third event towards triathlon. The older girls hadn’t done rally in about 8 years, but they humored me. Chili would have liked more jumping and less sitting, but Maya had fun and won Advanced B with 98. Wally’s rally Q officially made him the first dog to qualify as a triathlete. 

Spice was the only dog I entered in conformation. She ended up being the only baby puppy, but had a good experience in the ring. Watching the dogs in the ring made me feel good about the choice not to entered anyone else in breed. Show PBGVs just aren’t the rustic, casual breed that I fell in love with anymore. I’m not interested in turning my hounds into froofy show dogs who wouldn’t have the correct coat to protect them on the hunt field. Dogs being shown groomed according to the standard are becoming fewer and farther between, and judges seem happy to recognize dogs presented incorrectly. I find it especially frustrating when the owners of these dogs claim to have no control over how their handler grooms their dog. Sorry, but your handler works for you and if you pay their bill, you are giving your approval to how they prepare your dog for the ring. 

Friday was another day mostly off. The boys both passed their AKC Community Canine test and more importantly the generator got fixed so we could have coffee before walking dogs (and dodging German Shepherds) in the morning. 

Saturday was the national specialty. Wally didn’t keep it together for off lead heeling, but Gromit got another BN leg with a fourth place. Salsa and CC did rally today and ended up in a 3 way tie for first place in Excellent B. CC had the fastest time and won the class. 

On Sunday we headed to the hunt grounds. When we arrived, Muse decided she’d had enough of being cooped up and took off on an unauthorized romp, taking her easily corrupted mother Maya with her. After getting everyone (especially me) completely panicked, they came back when called. We got to have some open field time in the afternoon, which was especially nice for baby Spice and Juno the GBGV. 
Monday’s field was wooded and very large. The weather stayed cool and overcast, so the rabbits were active. All 6 dogs qualified, which officially qualified them as triathletes. Tuesday’s field was smaller with nice cover and a really treacherous hill. The weather was warmer and less rabbit friendly, so only one of my packs of three had success. 

After Tuesday’s hunt we started for home with some very tired hounds. Well, except for Muse who thinks this was the most boring road trip ever.  

Rally and Agility Nationals

I’m a bit late in reporting this, but last month we made the trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma with CC and Chili for the AKC Rally and Agility National Championships. Chili has qualified for agility nationals several times but we’ve only been able to attend one other. Since she is 11, I don’t know how many more chances we’ll have to get the required points so it seemed like a good year to attend.  Once I saw that Chili’s granddaughter CC had qualified for rally at RAE level, the decision to make the trip was easier. Besides, Tulsa is only halfway to Arizona so it hardly even seems like a long drive.

The girls did a great job and represented PBGVs well- they were the only ones competing in their sports. CC had what would have been qualifying scores on all four of her rally runs and Chili had fast agility runs with just one mistake all weekend. To her credit, the mistake happened because she was going too fast to make a turn tightly enough. Since I spend half of my life trying to gets the girls to run faster I can’t complain when mistakes happen because of speed. 

I know some people would say that it isn’t worth going to nationals if you can’t win. I knew without question when I decided to enter that there are lots of rally dogs more precise than CC, who was one of only 3 hounds competing in RAE, and that pretty much everyone in agility would be faster than Chili. It was still an amazing weekend showing off my awesome girls, so I’m glad we made the choice to go.  



The last of Muse’s puppies went home this morning, so this seems like a good time to introduce the newest member of the pack.  This is Clancy’s Pumpkin Spice Ale.

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Many people have asked how I could go about choosing one particular puppy from a large litter to keep.  There were a number of factors that went into the decision.  One big criteria this time was gender.  I don’t like to keep a lot of male dogs and already have two, including Muse’s son, Gromit, from her previous litter.  That meant the decision was essentially between the two female puppies.  Had the option of keeping a male been available, there was one in the litter that might have tempted me.

The two female puppies were very different, and each had qualities that appealed to me.  Spice looks very much like her father, while her sister Lacy looks more like Muse.  Spice is very substantial and was actually the heaviest boned puppy in the litter.  She has nice proportions and angulation with a very pretty face.  Her substance is something I need in my breeding program and was a factor in my decision.  Lacy has a little more length of leg and is slightly finer in built- in order words built for more speed on the agility course.  I will admit, deciding between the two girls caused a little bit of a dilemma for me.  Showing in the breed ring isn’t  a priority for me anymore, as my beloved breed has morphed into just another over groomed, professionally handled, generic show dog.  On the other hand, I do still want to produce quality PBGVs that are true to type, so the right choice was to keep the puppy with better breed type.

Since I am looking for an all-around dog, structure and breed type were not the only factors in my decision.  We did formal temperament testing on the whole litter at 7 weeks, which largely confirmed the observations I had already made of the puppies.  Both girls were relatively confident (bearing in mind that hounds are by nature somewhat soft), but Spice was the more social and biddable of the two.  This fit with their behavior in other settings also- Lacy would frequently be the one to explore new territory and figure things out, but Spice would be the one following me and showing the most interest in what the people were doing.  20 years of training hounds for performance events has taught me clearly that the puppy who choses humans over the environment is the one I want as my next training partner. Lacy is a lovely confident puppy who will make an excellent companion for her new family.

So now Spice will adjust to being the only puppy in the house.  She is gradually meeting the pack individually, but needs to get a little bigger before hanging with the whole group at once.  We started puppy class this week and are taking field trips out into the community when the weather allows.  Her favorite thing so far was checking out the rats at Petco.  Spice is pretty food motivated and has some interest in tugging, which I will work on building.






Puppies at 7 weeks

It’s hard to believe that Muse’s puppies will be 7 weeks tomorrow.  They are starting to act like real dogs now.  They are mostly eating on their own.  Muse visits them briefly to clean up any crumbs they leave behind, but she doesn’t find them so cute now that they have teeth.  Individual  personalities are becoming clear by now.  I have a pretty good idea as to which one will be joining our pack, but that will be a topic for another post.

This week the puppies started working on crate time.  At first I crated them in pairs, and now individually, for increasing amounts of time.  With this litter I tried using a Snuggle Puppy for the first time- a stuffed dog with a heartbeat and a warm center.  They do seem to settle in crates more quickly with this present than without.  A least two of them will be flying in Sherpa bags to their new homes, so they will need to be pretty good at settling in a crate by the time they leave.  IMG_3866

They also went for their first leash walk today.  They look really cute in their little harnesses!  We walked part way up the driveway, ate some Kong stuffing paste (a great treat for teething puppies) and walked back.


This week they will have their vet checks and formal temperament evaluations.  At that point, I’ll start deciding who is going where.  Here are stacked photos from today.  They are a little deceptive at this age because the cooperative puppies sometimes photograph better.

These are the girls:

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And the boys.

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Puppies at 5 Weeks

Muse’s babies have grown up a lot since my last update.  They are spending their days in a large pen set up in my training room with a fun rotation of play and enrichment items.


In addition to the stuff pictured, they have also had a Fitpaws disc and a play tunnel, but there isn’t room to include every item every day.  The babies are doing great with their litter boxes and have had some short trips outside.  They have started to enjoy some solid food, which Muse appreciates since their “puppy fangs” are coming in.


Overall, this is a pretty active, confident litter.  They like to explore and don’t mind movement under their feet.  Personalities are starting to show, most are pretty social but a couple of them are a bit more independent.  Yesterday we starting playing with clicker training, although this is tricky since they don’t have useful teeth yet.  I’m using canned puppy food in a squeeze tube as the reward, so they can start getting the idea that food comes from the human.

At dinner time, the puppies move up to the kitchen to their smaller night time pen.  This gives them some exposure to different household noises and helps accustom them to being active during the day and calmer at night.  They are really fond of their cushy dog beds.


My Grand Adventure

Hi, it’s Juno the GBGV here.  I was afraid Mom would be so happy to see the puppies tomorrow that she would forget to post about the Agility Invitational, so I hacked into her computer to write this post myself.  Turns out hacking isn’t too hard- it’s like climbing gates and opening drawers to steal food.  I’m a little hurt though that Mom didn’t use my name as her password.

Mom, Dad, Chili, Salsa, and me traveled to Florida last week.  The trip was long, but I had an antler to chew so that helped.  On Thursday afternoon I thought we were there, but it was just a stop at a museum in a town called Mount Dora.  The museum had a lot of furniture in it that they said was made by Great- Grandpa Wharton Esherick.  I though Great Grandpa wouldn’t mind if I took a nap on his couch, but I wasn’t allowed.  After the museum, Mom and Dad ate at an outdoor restaurant, but they didn’t share with us at all.  At the end of the meal a cat crossed the street behind us, so Salsa and I were going to go catch it to have our own snack, but the pesky leashes got in the way.  Mount Dora wasn’t all bad though- they had a dog bakery that made really good bacon biscuits.


Next we checked into our hotel in Orlando.  This was my favorite kind of room- it had 2 beds.  The petits always sleep with Mom and Dad, so all four of them were crammed in one bed while I stretched out in the other.  I had a good time making a nest with the pillows.


On Friday afternoon we ran Time 2 Beat.  All three of us did well, so Mom was happy and we had a lot of treats so we were happy too.  As we were leaving the crating area for the night, a dog across the aisle barked and was really mean to us.  We were all scared and Dad told the dog to shut up.  He really wasn’t loud about it and I doubt the dog even noticed, but Mom asked him not to do this.  She reminded him that the dog’s owner is even meaner than her dog and she didn’t want any trouble.

We got up pretty early Saturday morning and ran jumpers.  This was a hard course, but I was really awesome and did it perfectly.  Mom gave me lots of cookies and took me back to the crating area.  As she was cooling me down, someone came over and starting yelling at her and being really nasty- guess she was right about the mean dog’s owner.  Dad was mad and Mom was really sad- she felt like our moment together was ruined but feels like she can’t fight back since this person has a lot of friends who don’t understand what she is really like.  This didn’t make sense to me, but I guess humans aren’t as enlightened as us hounds.  Mom said that this person gets really upset when we do well, so the petits and I had a pack meeting and decided to do the best we could all weekend.

Salsa and I had a little trouble in the weave poles, since this trial is in a really crazy place, but we both had some clean runs and lots of cookies (also steak, which was a nice bonus). Chili is kind of a show off- she was perfect on Time 2 Beat and all 4 Rounds of the Invitational.  I think she knows how to read the number cones on the course- how else could she be so good?  Maybe I should get her to teach me how.

On Sunday afternoon we took lots of pictures.  Here’s me with my breed medallion, sponsored by the GBGV Club of America.


Now we are traveling home.  This is kind of boring, but Mom and Dad got us some tasty chicken filed bones for the ride.

A Quick Pupdate

I know I’ve been remiss in puppy updates but this is a crazy time of year and, well, cuddling puppies sometimes takes priority over blog updates.

The babies are now 3 weeks old.  This means that their eyes are open and they are responding to sounds.  We have moved their pen from the spare bedroom into the kitchen so they can start experiencing the noise and stimulation of the house.

The puppies are starting to interact with toys and other things in their environment.  It took them less than an hour to decide that the soft round bed was a good place to sleep and not much longer to decide that it was not the place to do their business.  This was the perfect time to provide them with a potty box, which they are starting to use.

We leave in the morning for the Agility Invitational in Florida with Chili, Salsa, and Juno.  It will be hard to leave the babies, but their Auntie Annie has promised to give them at least a million kisses a day while we are gone.

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