Miami has its good things and its bad things. Hands down, the weather is probably the best thing about living in this city. It’s January and the beaches are full around here! The rest of the country can’t leave their homes due to the terrible snow storms ravaging the country while I’m riding around in the Jeep with 3 dogs eager for a beach day! Today was spent at Grandpa Frank & Grandma Eva’s house. In all fairness, it’s been a little bit since we’ve been able to do this because although we don’t get the extreme weather conditions everyone else gets, it does still get chilly enough where we don’t want the dogs swimming. Today was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, the sun shining all day in full force and just a slight drop in temperature to remind us that it’s winter in Miami. Below are my favorite photos from today.
Ladies & gentlemen, this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Orso is entering an AKC conformation show ring! We will be rocking the AKC show world on February 18, 19, 20 & 21, 2011 in Lakeland, Florida. Below is information about each of the shows. He will be showing in the 6-9 month puppy class at each show with handler Jessie Herzon. Anyone willing to make the looooong drive up there is a welcomed and appreciated Orso groupie – warning – you may get handed a camera to help in the photo/video department! Although they are all 4 different shows, they will all be held at Sun & Fun Property, 4175 Medulla Road, Lakeland, Florida 33811.
February 18, 2011 – Lakeland Winter Haven Kennel Club
February 19, 2011 – Lakeland Winter Haven Kennel Club
February 20, 2011 – Sara Bay Kennel Club
February 21, 2011 – Sara Bay Kennel Club
Orso and I headed to Sandy’s group conformation class with a plan tonight. The plan was simple. I drive Orso to the class then sit patiently in a chair on the sidelines while Johanna Herzon works with him. Period. End of story. And that’s exactly how it went down. We arrived and Johanna took him from me for 30 minutes of supermodel-quality showmanship!
We are all so proud of Orso, he really has come a long way since the first time he was worked for conformation. He stands so nicely – although hand-stacking is still a challenge, so is judge inspection – and his trot is quite nice. He has a long, bouncy stride that is very pleasant to watch. Johanna works well with him.
A few things were decided tonight: 1 – we have his first four dog shows in Lakeland on February 18-21, 2 – Jessie (Sandy & Johanna’s daughter) will be handling him in the ring for all four shows & 3 – I am DEFINITELY not taking him in a conformation ring as his handler! Stay tuned for details about the shows in case anyone want to join us!
After taking nearly 8 weeks off from formal conformation training, Orso and I headed out to Sandy Herzon’s group conformation class tonight. I went there fully prepared to deal with Orso’s customary puppy antics! Surprisingly, I had a mature dog on my hands! What happened over the last 8 weeks??? Orso did some growing up! I worked with him the first 30 minutes of class, but the truth is that I am really bad at this conformation stuff. I don’t have a clue what I am doing. I try, but I don’t seem to get it right! The 2nd half of the class, I hired Johanna Herzon – who has worked with Orso in the past – to spend 30 minutes working with him. WOW! She made him look AMAZING! His stack was gorgeous, his trot stride was beautiful and he was completely focused on her. I was so impressed. Quite frankly, so were Sandy & Johanna! I wish I could have taken photos or video, but it is so dark that nothing comes out. Yay, looks like we really are heading to his first shows in February!
Orso's fantabulous vet, Dr. Robert Pane of South Kendall Animal Clinic, is actively involved in a great organization called the South Florida Veterinary Foundation (SFVF). According to their website, the SFVF’s mission is to increase the access of quality veterinary care, promote responsible pet ownership, and increase awareness of the importance of the human-animal bond in our community. The SFVF is comprised of veterinarians in South Florida, such as Dr. Pane, who generously donate their time and energy to increase awareness and promote education about animal care in our community. The funds raised by the foundation benefit multiple causes – from donating to local rescue groups to running a free spay/neuter program and free vet care clinics for the pets belonging to low income families and the homeless.
Dee Hoult of Applause Your Paws is also a part of this organization’s team and has helped put together an event on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011, at the University of Miami’s Whitten Learning Center, Room 110, from 7:00-8:00 p.m. This FREE LECTURE will feature Drs. Michael Wong and Lorraine Karpinski, speaking on topics in veterinary neurology and ophthalmology.
If you plan to attend, don’t forget to RSVP!
One of the great things that Mary Majchrowski of Bravo Dog Training taught Orso was a recall. This is different from your traditional “come” command that we use in formal obedience. The recall for us is more of a “get your butt over here NOW” for times that we need Orso to hustle to us. This comes in handy if a car is coming and he is not right at our side or if he gets loose unexpectedly or decides to chase the neighbor’s dog, etc.
Orso has learned to be recalled in one of two ways: 1 – blowing a whistle or 2 – using the word “here” in a high/urgent pitch. He responds very well to both and we NEVER use these recall methods unless we have food in our hands and are ready to reward him enthusiastically.
Below is a video compilation of us working the recall with him today for a few minutes. Since it involves Orso having to come to us quickly – usually galloping from a distance – and therefore can be pretty strenuous, we only work on this command for a few minutes at a time and only a few times per week. We also intentionally work the recall in an environment that has a lot of distractions so we can test him in settings that would usually cause a dog to disobey. In the video below, we are in the back of our house with our dogs locked in our yard and the neighbors’ dogs going crazy barking at us. You can see how well he is doing with this command, especially when you consider how many distractions there are. Enjoy!
Orso did a lot of growing up when he was at Mary Majchrowski’s house of Bravo Dog Training for those 2 weeks over the holidays. He also got much better at trotting, which was the biggest reason we had not shown him yet. Since we picked him up, we have been working very hard reinforcing everything he learned with Mary, including his conformation skills. Below is a short video – about 2 and a half minutes long – showing me working with him on his show ring skills. He’s coming along very nicely, but I still have a long way to go! Enjoy!
I truly believe that animals know when someone is sick. I have been home with the flu ever since I woke up on Monday morning. I literally have not left the house in 3 full days. I tried getting the mail and almost passed out. Normally, my house is a circus with the 3 dogs acting like the greatest show on earth, but these last few days, it’s been unusually calm around here. Orso is generally very affectionate, just like Luna & Mouse, but over the last few days he has accompanied me on the sofa most of the day without creating much of his usual fuss! As a matter of fact, as I sat at home and did arts & crafts all day today – a by-product of not being able to leave the house – Orso was right by my side the entire time, see below! He has to know I’m sick! What an excellent caregiver my boy is!
First of all, I, along with Luna, Mouse and Orso, would like to wish everyone a very healthy and happy 2011! I returned from Mexico a few days ago and it truly has been a challenge to get caught up with our daily life. Our washing machine has been working nonstop since Tuesday night and we cannot seem to find the hours to catch up on much needed sleep! This will be a long entry, since we will be updating you on everything that has happened since our last post on December 30, 2010.
We received updates from Mary & Nichelle and all the dogs are doing well. Orso is adjusting to his new food quite nicely.
Luna and Mouse decide to give me an New Year’s gift – the gift of destruction. Poor Nichelle came home to find that one of our sofa cushions had been destroyed, see below. She also mentioned that Luna looked more guilty than Mouse. Everything else seems to be OK.
“Orso is doing very well. I took some video of him practicing Rally this morning. I’m not thrilled with his heeling (he has done better for me), but it was very hot – around 80 degrees. It was taking a lot to convince him that anything involving moving around was a good idea.
It’s hard to tell in the video, but there is no treat in my left hand. I have one in my right hand at times, but it’s only to have a quick reward ready. I have been teaching him to heel without watching the food – watching me, yes, but not staring at the food while he walks.
Check out your “little” boy (video).
“”Show dog??? Who said I should smell like a show dog??!! I love my stink! Mommy, Daddy, come get me please.”
We got home tonight pretty late and were happy to see Luna & Mouse – they seemed pretty happy to see us aswell, although they usually have such a nice time with Nichelle that we don’t get much enthusiasm when we get home.
I went to pick up Orso today. He was so excited to see me, which made me happy because I was afraid he’d not missed me. I went alone to get him and spent over 3 hours with Mary reviewing everything she had done with him. She sent us home with 20 pages of information that she wrote specifically about her time with Orso!
From a developmental standpoint, Orso is huge! I think he gained 10 pounds while we were gone. He is starting to look like an adult – his expression, his body, his head – wow, what a head! From a training standpoint, he has advanced a lot. It is obvious how hard Mary worked with him. All aspects of his training show considerable improvement – obedience, conformation, even shaping exercises! His trot for the show ring is also coming along beautifully! Thanks, Mary! Below is a video that is about 6 minutes long showing Mary working obedience with Orso. I also took video of her working conformation with him, but they are too shaky to post. Enjoy!
Today started with a shopping spree at Petco. Orso has outgrown his crate, so it was time to invest in a new one. We also had a list of other items we needed to purchase for him. $337 later, Orso was fully stocked with all kinds of new stuff. Below are a few photos of him with an extra large tennis ball that lasted all of 20 minutes before it had to be thrown in the trash.
At night, we took Orso to dinner with us at my parents’ house. We worked on his “place” command, which is essentially a down-stay in a specific place, for the entire time we were there. He was such a good boy. All of Mary’s work definitely shows.
Orso ran some errands with us today and behaved very well. We are starting to get a little confused with some of the commands and how to deliver and mark them, so we called Mary for a home visit. She’s coming tomorrow to save the day!
Mary came over this afternoon for an hour and a half and went over everything with us again. She worked with us on his obedience and conformation and cleared up most of the confusion we had. He learned so much with her that it’s very overwhelming for us to keep track of it all. Both of us are scared we are going to mess something up!
Orso ran errands with us for a few hours. He has become so much more comfortable in public settings. He responds very well to our commands – both verbal and hand signals – and stays very calm in strange settings. We enjoyed our day with him and made a decision to enter him in 4 conformation shows that will be held in Lakeland, FL, which is just outside of Tampa, during February! I definitely have my work cut out for me, but I am looking forward to getting us both ready for the conformation show ring! YAY!!!!
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