When life takes a left turn…

Or as with most people these past few months, several left turns….

Of course, the biggest left turn was COVID-19. Both my son’s school district and the university my daughter attends (and my husband work for) shut down, and they both went to distance learning. It was HARD. Not just the learning how to do the online stuff, but the disruption in routines and social interactions that played havoc with my kids’ autism. All of us were having trouble dealing with it, but my son most of all. Things are still wonky, but I think they are leveling out a bit.

In good news, we’ve added another fiend to the family. June 16th, I kept hearing that horrible “kitten in distress” cry, but couldn’t see anything though the fences. I finally broke down and went hunting. The result was an eight-week-old lynx point female kitten, two houses down. No idea how she came to be there, and I’ve not heard any other kittens, so she must have been the only one. Other than crawling with fleas, she was otherwise healthy (had a negative FeLV/FIV test and a clear fecal when she went to the vet). Her name is Lana, and she’s a little terror who attacks any human ankle within range, annoys the big cats, and plays with anything not nailed down (and a few things that are). In other words, a typical kitten.

In dog news, the girls have earned several titles in All Dogs Parkour, GeoPup Sports, and Outdoor Dog since the start of the new year. They are also both closing in on a REALLY BIG TITLE, their all Dogs Parkour Premier Championship. An ADP Premier Championship is a Premier title at all five levels, and takes 40 legs. The each have Levels 1 through 4, and are three legs away from their Level 5 titles. Two legs are out for judging this month, and I’m hoping to submit their last leg next month. Also in upcoming plans, we are going to try for AKC Rally Novice titles, since we can do them via video through the end of the year.

Time flies……

…when you get distracted by life.

It took me for-EV-er to finally get over “the crud”, as it is frequently called here in southeast Texas. Once I finally started feeling human, though, the girls and I started going out and about more. We’ve done some walking. We’ve done some parkour.

I’ve signed us up for another nosework class at the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, NW270: Foundations, Foundations, Foundations for Nosework. Hmm… I think a good foundation might be to get around to finally reading the lectures, since we are now well into week two?

In other news, both girls earned their All Dogs Parkour Level 1 Grand Championship titles, and Lily has earned her All Dogs Parkour Level 3 Premier title. Leo would have also earned her Level 3 Premier title if someone (that would be…. me) hadn’t messed up an exercise. Once we get a new video clip done, I can resubmit that entry, so she will probably have her title by Christmas.

Lily’s Level 1 Grand Championship submission.

Leo’s Level 1 Grand Championship submission.

For an All Dogs Parkour Premier Championship, which is a Premier title at all five levels, it takes a total of 40 submissions. Leo has a total of 26 submissions towards her title, and Lily has 27 towards her title. I’m aiming for having them done by this time in 2020. It’s a long term goal, for sure, and one that has already been pushed back once. We’d better not have any major home or car repairs next year…

If I don’t get back any time soon (which I probably won’t, judging by my track record), have a good whatever holiday you celebrate, and a happy new year.

More catching up

Well, another long gap in posting here. Rather a lot has happened since my last post, so I guess I’d better bring things up to date, then try and remember to post more often in the future.

In the “good” column for dog sports, both Leo and Lily earned their GeoPup Sports Novice Seeker and Tracker titles in August, as well as their Outdoor Dog Wagging Walkers Level 2 (distance track) titles this month. In the “good” column for life in general, we finally got our central heat and AC units replaced this past August, nearly a year after the old ones died.

In the “not so good” life in general column, my husband was in a wreck (he was fine) the last week of July that ripped the outside shell off the front passenger side door of his car, and it took nearly a month before the other person’s insurance finally agreed that they were responsible for the accident and that they would cover the repairs (they actually totaled it out, but it did cover the repair cost). Meanwhile, his car was sitting at the body shop. Once we got the money for that, we had to wait nearly two more weeks for the mirror (which had to be ordered from Ford) to come in before we could pick it up.

By the time we finally got his car back, our son had brought home some kind of respiratory bug, and passed it around to the rest of us. He missed a week and a half of school, he was so sick. The real fun part though, was me. I was getting better when I relapsed, getting even sicker than before. With three doctor visits in as many weeks, I wound up doing two courses of antibiotics, as well as steroids and heavy-duty prescription cough medication. A month later, I am just starting to feel human.

In the “you have *GOT* to be kidding” column, we had Tropical Depression Imelda come through earlier this month. Our area got 24″ of rain in roughly 24 hours. Other areas got up to 40″ in the same time frame. Thankfully, I live in one of the highest parts of town, and the worst we had was some street flooding that quickly subsided, and ankle-deep water in our back yard. Other people weren’t nearly as lucky, and after just finally recovering from Tropical Storm Harvey flooding two years ago, they got flooded out again. My son’s school had water get inside some of the building. Most of the schools reopened yesterday, but his school, as well as one other that took on water, has a tentative reopening date of October 14th.

Before I got sick, I sent in a special submission to the International Dog Parkour Association. I had been making compilations of the girls’ passing IDPKA videos, but I couldn’t find all of Ilka’s Novice video clips. I thought that maybe checking the date on her certificate might help me locate them, but after looking through my binder of unframed certificates, I couldn’t find it. Thinking that maybe I had downloaded it, but not printed it out yet, I checked my computer files and still couldn’t find it. Since I’m bad about not deleting emails, I decided to see if maybe I hadn’t downloaded it after all. That’s when I finally figured out that I had never submitted it. I’d lost her before we finished it.

After verifying that I could submit for her Novice Parkour Dog title posthumously, I started digging through all my videos of her, hoping that I could find enough behaviors that met the IDPKA requirements, which are somewhat different than our more usual ADP parkour. After finding videos I thought would work, I sent it off. I finally heard back from the IDPKA on the 24th… More than two years after her death, I can add PKD-N to her alphabet soup, and she officially finishes her sports career with a total of 20 titles between six different organizations.

Oh yeah, does anyone see the typo in the video? I didn’t see it until after I’d already uploaded and shared it, so it’s staying.

Catching up

Wow, I really do get distracted and forget to write here, don’t I? Quite a bit has happened since my last post, both good and not so good.

In the good news column, both Leo and Lily have earned their GeoPup Sports Beginner Seeker and Beginner Tracker titles, their Outdoor Dog Wagging Walkers Level 1 titles, Lily earned her All Dogs Parkour Level 2 Premier title, and both of them have five of the ten legs needed for their All Dogs Premier Level 3 Premier titles. We’ve been pretty good about keeping up (somewhat) with our Fenzi Dog Sports Academy nosework classes (the addition of Teaching Assistants to the Facebook student groups has been a huge help there).

In the not so good news column, well, life has happened. All human and critter family members are fine, but we’ve had to deal with (not so) fun things like front end work and a new transmission on my (just paid off in April) car, we are still waiting on approval of our loan to replace both our central AC units (do you know how expensive those things are?!), and for the cherry on top, our lawn mower died.

Anyway, here are a couple of their ADP submissions.

Leo at the southern part of the Lamar University campus.

Lily at Jefferson County Courthouse and Beaumont Police Department.

Want to try something new?

Like walking or hiking with your dog and like geocaching?

Like walking and hiking with your dog, but haven’t a clue as to what geocaching is?

Like boating or camping with your dog?

If so, then I’ve got a couple of new online titling organizations for you.

The first is GeoPup Sports, a fun way to combine exercising with your dog a geocaching. For those of you who are wondering “what in the heck is this geocaching thing?”, geocaching is basically a world-wide scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates. Unlike an actual scavenger hunt, though, you don’t need to drag home some ridiculous item, just record your finds on the Geocaching.com website. Most caches are containers that hold a physical log for you to sign, and, depending on the size of the container, may also have some goodies for trading or a trackable item. Trackables are items with a unique code that you can look up on the website, and move from cache to cache. There are some caches that aren’t containers, but rather places. Those can be called either Earth caches or Virtual caches, which are frequently historical and/or educational.

To earn GeoPup Sports titles, there are two main tracks, the Seeker division, where you look for caches, and the Hider division, where you place your own caches. There is also the Tracker division where you can look for and place trackables, as well as a Drifter “add on” title for finding or placing caches outside of your home territory. Each level, from Beginner, and progressing through Novice, Experienced, Skilled, and Proficient require you to either find or place a certain number of caches with your dog, log them on the Geocaching.com website, and snap a picture of your dog(s) with the caches. Leo and Lily have both earned their Beginner Seeker and Beginner Tracker titles, and we are logging more caches and trackables for the higher levels, as well.

The second organization I’d like to share is called Outdoor Dog, and it’s all about getting into the great outdoors with your dog. They offer titles in walking (flat paths or city/urban areas), hiking (hillier, wooded and/or wilderness type areas), paddling sports (kayaking, canoeing, and other human propelled watercraft), boating (non-human propelled watercraft), and camping (RV, cabin, or tent). Each titling opportunities has two different “tracks”, based on either outing, location, distance, or time, depending on what you are doing. One thing I like about Outdoor Dog is that, unlike some other organizations, when going for walking or hiking titles, dogs don’t have to wear backpacks or carry a certain amount of weight.

The fun part of of these two organizations if that you can make a single outing do double duty. Since Leo, Lily, and I are city girls, we hunt for urban caches (the wildest places we’ve been have been overgrown, neglected areas of some city parks), so we can keep track of the distance we walk (for an Outdoor Dog Wagging Walker title) while hunting for geocaches (for a GeoPup Sports title).

Currently, both organizations are being run through Facebook groups. Information about GeoPup Sports can be found here
https://www.facebook.com/groups/GeoPupSports/and more information about Outdoor Dog can be found here

New title for Lily!

Lily earned her Cyber K9 Advanced Scent Detection title earlier this month. Cyber K9 Titling Program is a small, Facebook based organization that offers titles in tricks, obedience, rally, and yes, scent work. Both Leo and Lily earned their Novice Scent Detection titles last spring, and passed the first leg of Advanced, but then I got sidetracked with other things, mainly all Dogs Parkour. Anyway, I got ambitious, and submitted the video for Lily’s second leg a couple of weeks ago.

Her first leg, from last April.

Her second leg, from this month.

Her second leg was actually a homework video for the FDSA class NW101: Introduction to Nosework. We’d taken the class twice before, so I had a pretty good grasp of how to proceed, but a lot of the Facebook student groups now have Teaching Assistants to help those of us tagging along at Silver and Bronze, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to work with a really great TA this past session. I like her so much that I’m following her to NW120: Introduction to Nosework Elements, another class that I’ve already taken. Totally worth it to have her helping us some more.

The Next term at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy starts on April 1st (no fooling!), and registration is open now. Lots of great classes with lots of great teachers, plus help from great Teaching Assistants.

Thoughts on competing with my dogs…

This was originally posted as a comment on Denise Fenzi’s blog post “Dog shows are for… who?” (You can read her excellent commentary here. https://denisefenzi.com/2019/02/dogs-shows-are-for-who/ ) After writing it all out, I had the thought that maybe I should post it here, as well. I’m finally getting around to it…

This is long, so you might want to get comfy before you start reading.

In April of 2010, while walking my late Rat Terrier, Lucky, we were followed by a loose puppy. After she nearly got hit by three cars in as many minutes, I threw my spare leash on her, and took her back to the house she had followed us from. The people there claimed she wasn’t theirs, so I brought her home with me. After nobody answered my “found dog” add, well, she had a home with me.

In late 2010, I found out about the AKC’s recently launched Canine Partners Listing program, that allowed mixed breed dogs to compete in certain AKC events, like obedience and rally. Hmmm… one spayed mutt, check. One Canine Partners Listing certificate in hand, check. One insane quest to put obedience and rally titles on a dog patently unsuited to be a competition obedience and rally dog, check.

Ilka earned her RN, RA, RE, and BN titles. And she hated pretty much every single second of it. We had two legs of her CD, and I really, REALLY wanted that title. However, already somewhat reactive before we started competing,, she became worse and worse as I kept asking her to do things that she simply couldn’t cope with. I finally realized just how miserable my dog was, and made her a promise. One more weekend of trials, and that would be it. Whether we got that last CD leg or not, she would never have to set foot in an AKC obedience ring again. We blew both runs, one of which would have otherwise been a Q. I cried. Right there beside the ring. After pulling myself together and cheering for the rest of the classes and the HIT and HC winners, we packed up and went home.

For over a year, I did nothing with her except take her for walks and throw training dummies for her to chase. She played with Lucky and Leo, the young GSD I had rescued. That was it, though. No training whatsoever. There wasn’t any point in it, since I had promised her no more obedience or rally trials. Then, on a dog forum, I asked someone what the letters ETD after their dog’s name meant. For those who don’t know, it means Expert Trick Dog, a title offered by the organization Do More With Your Dog.

Titles that you earned by submitting videos? It was like a whole new world of opportunity opened up for us. I found other organizations besides DMWYD. Organizations that offered rally titles, or obedience titles. We could try the brand new sport of dog parkour. She could DO things. Things that she liked doing, in an environment where she felt safe, and where her reactivity wouldn’t endanger other dogs of people. Oh, and I got lots of pretty ribbons and certificates to hang on my walls. I lost Ilka in late 2017, but our outings to record videos for online titles were some of the best times we spent together. Way more fun than going to trials had ever been.

Recently, I realized that Leo just wasn’t enjoying parkour like she’d been before. Happy to go places with me, yes. But as soon as I put her parkour harness on and asked her to do anything, she started acting miserable. Head low, tail low, responding slowly or else acting like she had no idea what I was asking her to do. Nearly halfway to an All Dogs Parkour Premier Championship, and with about half a dozen more entries only partially completed, she is taking a break. We’ll try other things for a while, and see if she wants to do parkour later on. Will I be disappointed if she never finishes that title? Yes. However, her being happy is more important than her earning a title. Even if it’s a title that I proposed with her in mind.

And that’s my novel. Do I ever want to give AKC events another try? For sure. One of these days. But it won’t be with either Leo or Lily, my little pit bull. Both of them would be beyond miserable if I asked that of them. They like training, so we train. The ribbons and certificates on the wall that are the result of that training are purely for me.

Long time no see…

Wow, has it really been that long since my last post? Where has the time gone?

To take care of old business, yes, I started the 100 Days of TEAM Challenge. I did not finish the 100 Days of TEAM challenge. We made it to day… something (I forget what). That’s not to say that I can’t (or won’t) pick it back up, but I haven’t yet. This year’s personal challenge for me is to do something with at least one of my dogs at least four times a week, even if it’s just go take a walk. So far, we’re doing pretty good, with something done for 22 days this month. Here’s hoping we can not only keep it up, but get better. Fingers crossed that I don’t get sick (again) this year.

To catch up on what the girls and I have been doing otherwise, Leo earned her All Dogs Parkour Level 5 and Championship titles, as well as becoming the first dog ever to earn an All Dogs Parkour Level 1 Premier and All Dogs Parkour Level 2 Premier titles. She also earned her International Dog Parkour Association Novice Parkour Dog title, her Do More With Your Dog Expert Trick Dog title (a big one for us!) and a Cyber K9 Novice Scent Detection title. Lily earned her All Dogs Parkour Level 5 and Championship titles, and became the second dog to earn the All Dogs Parkour Level 1 Premier title. She also earned her Do More With Your Dog Expert rick Dog title and Cyber K9 Novice Scent Detection title. I’m looking forward to seeing what happen in 2019.

In other news, I watched a Facebook Live presentation by Denise Fenzi today, on Foundation Behaviors for performance prospect puppies. It makes me, the person who has always said that she “doesn’t do” puppies, want to run out and get a puppy! It also made me realize how many opportunities I missed with Lucky, Ilka, and Leo because I just didn’t know about them.

Also, the next session of the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy starts on February 1st! https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/schedule-and-syllabus I’ll be taking FE140: Engagement with Denise, and FE345: Imitation and Mimicry- You Can Do It! with Julie Flanery. Hope to see you there.

100 Days of TEAM

There has been a #100Daysof TEAM challenge pop up recently on the Fenzi TEAM Players Facebook group, and I’ve decided to give it a try. Since you are probably scratching your heads over what in the heck TEAM is, we’ll start there. TEAM stands for Training Excellence Assessment Modules, an online titling venue developed by Denise Fenzi, founder of the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. For more information, including the rules and video examples of passing submissions, visit http://fenziteamtitles.com/

The philosophy is TEAM is rather unique among titling venues in that it’s designed to not only see what your dog knows, but what you know about how to train the little “bits and pieces” that make up finished behavior chain. For example, instead of “can your dog do a whole heeling pattern with turns, speed changes, and halts?” and “can your dog sit, stay, come when called, sit in front, and then go to heel?” TEAM starts with “can your dog find heel and do a 180 degree pivot using a foot target?” and “can your dog find heel position from two different angles using a foot target?”. So, while TEAM is “easy”, it is also “hard”.

The 100 Days of TEAM challenge is basically “do 100 days in a row of training for anything related to TEAM at any level”. So far, I’m at day 3. Lily got the first day, and Leo got the second. Today, both of them got to play.

This was Leo’s session from yesterday. She is learning to move towards a target (in this case, a piece of tape) on a vertical surface. It is the very beginning of the Utility Go Out for directed Jumping. By the way, cheap sticky notes won’t stick to cheap wooden cabinets. Use masking or painter’s tape….


If you are Facebook, ask to join the Fenzi TEAM Players group, and join in the fun. https://www.facebook.com/groups/142115976184339/

Has it really been over a year?

Last Wednesday, August 15th, marked the one year anniversary of Ilka’s death. Some days, the loss stills seems fresh and raw. Other days, it seems like a distant memory that I can’t quite recall. Most days now, I can look at a picture or watch a video of her, and just remember the good things of our life together. Every once in a while, though, I’ll unexpectedly come across a picture of her and start crying. Some days, I just plain MISS her. Other days, I’m relieved that I don’t have to deal with her reactivity, resource guarding, and overall snarkiness any more. I wish we’d had more time together, though. She was my “go, go, GO” dog, who would try to do pretty much anything I asked her to, and we were enjoying doing things together.

This was her last All Dogs Parkour entry, her Level 4 title run.


She was the best dog ever. She was the worst dog ever. She was my heart.