Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cory RE

Until I lost Andy, I had not been in a big hurry to get Cory in the ring. We had earned his RN (rally novice) title last summer without really preparing for it, mostly because I went to a three day show that included agility, obedience, and rally and I knew Cory would be nuts if he didn't get to play at all all weekend. We have been working on obedience and I had hoped to have him ready to show by late spring/early summer, but he has taken a sort of downturn in his focus and attention so is not quite ready yet. We are still working on sending him ahead in agility so he can compensate for my slowness. He was pretty much ready to certify in tracking last spring, but I held him back because I didn't want to compete with Andy for spots in tests; this spring we didn't get out much but we need to get back and maybe shoot for late fall or early winter tests. So I decided on a whim when Andy died that instead of pulling his entries for our club's spring trial, I would just have them apply them towards entering Cory in rally.

Of course, after I sent his entries off, I read the rules for the advanced level and realized there were a couple of exercises he didn't know. We had to do a few "quickie" training sessions to try and prepare for those, and crossed our fingers and hoped they wouldn't be on the course that weekend!
Rally is a relatively new sport and incorporates many of the traditional obedience exercises with a twist. There is relatively little straight heeling but lots of circles, pivots, serpentines, etc. Unlike traditional obedience, you may talk to your dog as much as you like and use as many hand signals as you please; in the lower levels you can even clap and pat your thigh to encourage your dog to work closer. Novice level is all on lead, while advanced and excellent are all done off lead. At the excellent level there is also an "honor" exercise where one dog does an on leash sit or down stay in the ring as the other dog works.

In general I think it is much easier to qualify in rally than in traditional obedience, especially when comparing the advanced levels. I will admit to not being totally confident on my knowledge of the rules and scoring; it seems to me that a few relatively minor handler errors get hit for big points, while the dog can do a pretty lackluster approximation of the exercise without losing points. If you have been training for obedience, your dog should know most of the exercises as they are skills that he needs for various levels or tricks we teach to tighten up heeling when "doodling" in practice. There are a few rally exercises that are unique and somewhat challenging for some dogs when compared to obedience; this includes a figure 8 heeling pattern around food bowls with yummy treats, heeling while backing up, and (toughest for my dog!), heeling along, taking a jump and returning to heel position without running amuck. Rally done really really well takes as much training as traditional obedience; but I would say that a relatively small percentage of dogs in the ring meet my criteria for doing it "really well". There was a lovely working shepherd at our trial last weekend who had a near perfect excellent run that sticks in my mind. Cory has had some very nice runs, but is not yet quite at that level.

The nice thing about rally is that it is a great way to get your dog in the ring and get some ring experience, for both green dogs and handlers. It is a great introduction to showing and particularly at the novice level most people can be quite successful early on. I have primarily used it to work on maintaining Cory's focus and developing some teamwork, and it has been very helpful as well as more fun than I expected.

So at my club (Queen City) in March Cory qualified in advanced all three days, winning the class two days and finishing his RA (rally advanced) title. In April we made two trips to Columbus for the Central Ohio KC show and the Columbus All Breed trials and were again three for three with all placements for his RE (rally excellent) title. Last weekend we showed two days at the German Shepherd Club of Greater Cincinnati's all breed trials and qualified in both advanced and excellent both days, with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. We earned his first two legs on his RAE title, which requires you to qualify in both classes on the same day ten different times. He also won the pre-novice class in obedience with a 196, so hopefully we will be in the "real" novice ring soon.

We finished up the weekend showing in breed (conformation) at the Cincinnati Kennel Club shows. Unfortunately we were not so successful there, he won his class both days with no competition but no luck going winners for championship points. He DID look absolutely gorgeous though thanks to his breeders Kathy and Myra's grooming skills, Ron's expert ear work, and the lovely presentation of his two favorite junior handlers Lauren and Kristen. I tried to get some good pictures after we got home while he was still groomed up, but he was in a less than cooperative mood and his ears were already flying again!

Thanks also to Dick Clark for all the great rally photos!

Nutro recall

Here is an email I received today from Nutro regarding a recall of their product. For more info go to the link included in the email.

Dear Doctor:

Out of an abundance of caution, on May 21, 2009, Nutro Products announced a voluntary recall of select varieties of NUTRO(R) NATURAL CHOICE(R) COMPLETE CARE(R) Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO(R) MAX(R) Cat Dry Foods with "Best If Used By Dates" between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010. This recall is due to incorrect levels of zinc and potassium in our finished product resulting from a production error by a US-based premix supplier.

Two mineral premixes were affected. One premix contained excessive levels of zinc and under-supplemented potassium. The second premix under-supplemented potassium. Both zinc and potassium are essential nutrients for cats and are added as nutritional supplements to NUTRO(R) dry cat food.

As soon as we became aware of the issue, we made the decision to hold shipments of affected dry cat product, and took immediate action to verify with our mineral premix supplier that no other products were affected. We then contacted the FDA to notify them of the voluntary recall. A full list of affected product and available alternatives for your clients is available at

We have completed a comprehensive audit of premixes for all NUTRO(R) products, and have confirmed that this issue only affects certain dry cat food products. No other NUTRO(R) products are affected, including dry dog food, wet dog and cat foods and dog and cat treats.

Consumers who have purchased affected product should immediately discontinue feeding the product to their cats, and switch to another product with a balanced nutritional profile. While we have received no consumer complaints related to this issue, cat owners should monitor their cat for symptoms, including a reduction in appetite or refusal of food, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea. We have suggested that cat owners contact their veterinarian if their cat is experiencing health issues or is pregnant.

Consumers who have purchased product affected by this voluntary recall should return it to their retailer for a full refund or exchange for another NUTRO(R) dry cat food product.

Affected product was distributed to retail customers in all 50 states, as well as to customers in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Israel. We are working with all of our distributors and retail customers, in both the US and internationally, to ensure that the recalled products are not on store shelves.

At Nutro Products, our top priority has always been and continues to be the health and welfare of pets and their owners. If you have any further questions, including the need for additional information on clinical signs, please call 1-800-xxx-xxxx etc.

Dr. Tiffany Bierer
Health and Nutrition ManagerNutro Products Inc.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


When I was in grade school, one of my teachers was trying to simplify grammer for us. She told us to remember that a preposition was anywhere a cat can go- up, down, around, in, under, through. It's stuck with me a long time. However I think these two have come up with a few new prepositions-they get into EVERYTHING. And mostly what they get into can get them into trouble.

The dryer is a fascinating place...unfortunately dryer injuries are not that uncommon in cats and can be deadly. I am careful to check the dryer before closing the door! What could be better than a warm hole full of soft stuff to curl up on?

The refrigerator door is barely open and they are in like a flash...another potential dangerous place. The pantry is also quite popular but slightly less perilous.
Hmmm....I wonder if this is the answer to not having to bathe the kittens...! I'm not sure just what the attraction is in the dishwasher, but it's another place I have to keep a constant eye on. Unloading is the biggest problem- I'm really not keen on kittens on my clean dishes, so I have to unload while they are occupied elsewhere.
We are working on the "no kitties on the endtables/nightstands" rule. This seems to be a particularly hard one for them to understand. The nightstand is especially inviting. Great. Huge potential for them to turn off my alarm, knock over my coke, and steal important stuff. Cory brought me a five dollar bill on Sunday and when I investigated where he got it, the money I had left on the nightstand was now on the bed and the floor. I suspect the kittens were the original culprits... luckily Cory is obsessed with finding things I might like and bringing them to me because you never know when it might earn him a really good treat. He has gotten excellent treats for finding money in the past, so I can't rule out that HE was the one who stole it off the nightstand in the first place. The TV remote is also a highly reinforced object to retrieve; today I was outside cleaning out the van and he was shut in the house, much to his dismay. When I looked over at the door, I could see him through the sidelights sitting with the remote in his mouth. I guess he thought he would try bringing it to get my attention and maybe I would let him come out and play! Wish I had had the camera outside with me for that one!
Kittens and puppies are like babies- you have to look at the house through their eyes and try to anticipate any trouble they can get into. Just because they've never done it before does not mean they won't figure out how to do it in the next five minutes. Counters have to be left clear, strings that can be swallowed are out of reach, nothing left dangling from heavy objects that can be pulled over on them (like the shoulder strap on my camera). Toilet lids are left shut as are the doors to rooms where they really don't need unrestricted access. But the mind of a kitten is a fertile field...and it's a bumper crop for trouble this year!

PS-FINALLY my hummingbirds returned last Friday and the red headed woodpeckers made a brief appearance on Saturday, the 16th. The red heads showed up May 4 last year and May 5 in 2007, so I was starting to get concerned and was quite happy to see him. I haven't seen him again, but I also haven't really been home to watch. Suet cakes have been disappearing from my feeder in about 8 hours, due in part I suspect to the return of the pileated woodpeckers who haven't been around much the past few weeks...I am hoping maybe they were raising a family.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I must be nuts....

I knew I would want another cat sooner or later; I have been at my all time low in numbers since losing Hoppy and Grouch; down to only Stevie who lives at the clinic. I have been so "cat deprived" that I started bringing Stevie home on the weekends, a situation which has worked out well for both of us. He really enjoys watching the birds and having the extra space to run around.

It has been years since I had a kitten, and even longer since I really got to PICK a kitten- all of my cats have found me, and most of the more recent ones came to me as adults (mostly missing various body parts or otherwise impaired!). So I thought I would wait until spring and look for a little kitten this time. A couple of weeks ago I started to get the "itch", but was going to be out of town for the weekend at a dog show so I sort of planted the idea in the back of my mind that after that weekend I would start looking. Last weekend I decided that Saturday after work I would go looking for a kitten. It was May, spring was here, kittens should be crawling out of the woodwork. No such luck...very few if any kittens at any of the shelters I looked at, and none that were "the" kitten. My criteria: definitely male; definitely not a solid color, preferably orange tabby; most importantly very laid back, lovable and snuggly. I tend to gravitate towards kittens with wider set eyes and wider, shorter faces more typical of Persian background, rather than the narrower, longer faced ones more suggestive of oriental backgrounds, which tends to go along with the temperament I like as well. I continued to look through the week, but even after spending my day off on Wednesday, no luck.

Thursday morning Amy told me the shelter at Campbell County had called and they had an orange male kitten. Luckily I was able to finish up my surgeries in time to run over at my lunch break. When I got there, there was not one, but TWO orange male kitties, littermates. One was a typical tiger with white paws who was the more affectionate of the two. The other was a really pretty red "swirly" tabby, what I think the show folk call a mackeral tabby. I have always wanted one of those...he was snuggly but not quite as much as his brother. What to do? I agonized for several minutes, then thought what the heck. You guessed it, BOTH kittens came home with me.

Below is the snugglier one. He is also MUCH easier to catch still photos of, as his wild brother was busy exploring under the bed and bouncing in all directions.

Here is his crazy brother. They actually both have their crazy as well as their snuggly moments.

Below I am uploading a video of my past weekend...I will post more later but have to leave for now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

Well, yesterday my aunt and I had planned to drive Middle Creek Road and look for birds; with the rain it was a very unrewarding trip however. Aside from a fleeting glimpse of what I think were indigo buntings, but could have been bluebirds or blue grosbeak; a northern flicker, and a little green heron we saw nothing. Bummer.

I came home however to a very active feeder and back yard. I had my first summer tanager of the season down in the woods- last year I had two pairs that were daily visitors for several weeks squabbling over territory back in the woods. I had a first of season Eastern Bluebird that I got some very long distance shots of. I see them occasionally in the yard, but can't seem to tempt them up to my feeders.

So far I have out black oil sunflower, thistle, cardinal mix (mostly black oil sunflower and safflower), "Nutty Safari" which is a variety of nuts with BO sunflower; suet, peanuts in the shell, banana chips, mealworms (fresh or dehydrated, depending on what I have), oranges, and string for nests. I have used Julie Zickefoose's suet dough but have never had a bluebird come for it and it sure attracts the starlings which usually don't bother me much otherwise. I occasionally put out those bluebird nuggets too. If anyone has any great ideas for attracting the bluebirds and orioles up onto the feeders, I'm all ears.

I also had a Great Crested Flycatcher, a new yard bird for me, who flew up and obligingly sat in easy camera range right on the crook that holds my yard feeders for quite some time. Of course that was BEFORE I went and got my camera out of the car. GRRR! And I think I had a number of pine siskins on my finch feeders; here is a picture. Ebird flagged it as an unusual sighting for this time of year, so any of you more knowledgable birders who want to comment and let me know if my ID is correct I would appreciate it. i have seen them once or twice before in my yard, so not a new bird, but not one i see frequently.

Here're a couple of shots I thought were cute of a mockingbird. Not sure if this was the same one who took up residence a year or so ago from November until early spring and chased all the other birds away, but if it is he's mellowed. I called that one "Mr Wilson" because he was so possessive of "his" yard. We had quite a battle going on where I would chase him off and he would come right back; since I had a job to go to and he didn't, he won. Eventually though, he apparently met a Mrs. Wilson and moved on. This one has been around off and on for a while but doesn't seem to cause problems.

And here's a cute one of the little girl cardinal who along with her boyfriend and another male were quite active in the yard all day.

And just to give the mammals equal time, here's the little chipmun who runs up from the woods and helps clean up under the bird feeders. I don't know why he is filed under "cute" in my brain and his relatives the mice in the garage totally creep me out, but there you have it!
One thing I discovered is that I REALLY need a good tripod for these overcast days where I need a slower shutter speed! I didn't get many sharp shots.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Miscellaneous weekend stuff...

Weekends never last long enough...

The forecasters all told us not even to THINK about getting any yard work done this weekend, it would pour all weekend long. It's now 8:30 on Sunday night, I think we had a few sprinkles over night last night and maybe Friday night as well. Wrong again! I would have planned my weekend differently and finished spreading mulch in my back flowerbeds if I hadn't been expecting rain. Oh well. I did get a bunch of annuals planted in my pots on my deck. This weekend was a big weekend for returning birds by my records from last year. I had rosebreasted grosbeaks out the wazoo all weekend, usually at least three on my feeders at any given time. I had a new yard bird, a field sparrow; and a rare yard bird, a baltimore oriole, who was absolutely gorgeous but stayed in the tree tops and didn't venture within camera range despite my offerings of oranges, grape jelly, and string for nesting. Hopefully he will tell his wife and they will be back. I also had a return of a wild turkey. They were frequent visitors to my yard and the woods behind my house, even at one point having a dozen or more roosting under my deck every night in the fall. However, I hadn't seen any since last summer prior to the oil spill that happened in the creek just a few yards upstream. Saturday night as I was on the deck planting I could hear them gobbling away like crazy down in the woods, but I didn't see any and didn't really have time to look closely for them. This morning when I got up I could still hear them; but this time I sat down with my binoculars and started scanning in the woods. Voila! There she was.

She sat on the log for a while, then meandered up through my neighbor's yard and back down into the woods.

A few minutes later she came up into my yard and foraged around under the bird feeders for a little while.

After a few minutes something startled her and she jogged back to the woods and then flew- sort of- off.

Here are pictures of the female rose breasted grosbeak to go along with the pix of the males in our last post. As you can see, they are much less striking, but very pretty in their own way.

And here's a picture of one of my female red bellied woodpeckers peeking through my newly planted geraniums and lobelia. Still no sign of my red headed woodpeckers or my hummers...

Getting back to dogs...pictured below is one of my patients, CH Whiteoak Dealer's Choice II, or "Brett". He's the dog on the far right. Last week was the American Shetland Sheepdog Club's national specialty show, a week long extravaganza that includes competition in herding, agility, obedience, and rally as well as the breed ring. Futurity is for puppies bred by ASSA members and nominated before they are even born, and lasts all day on Monday. Breed judging starts on Wednesday morning; it takes all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to judge all the dogs and bitches and arrive at Winners Dog and Winners Bitch (best nonchampion dog and bitch shown who will earn championship points). It takes all day Saturday to judge all the finished champions, as well as both winners, to arrive at the dog who is Best of Breed. At approximately 3 minutes generally allowed per dog, that's a lot of dogs! This year the national was held in Perry Georgia. There were 43 herding entries, 429 agility entries, 259 obedience and rally entries, 122 futurity entries; 512 "class" dogs and bitches competing for WD and WB, 33 veteran dogs and bitches, 13 stud dogs and 7 brood bitches; and 117 champions competing, along with WD, WB, and the winners of the veterans classes, for best of breed. All shelties, of course!
Brett and his owners, Myra and Tom Flynn and Kathy and Ron Rhoades, had a VERY good national. Brett WON the stud dog class, which is where the stud dog is shown along with several of his offspring. The offspring are judged on their quality and consistency; winning this class at the national is truly an accomplishment. In addition, Brett made all of the cuts in BOB all the way down to the last cut.

Brett's babies had a good national too! Pictured with him above are, from left, BISS Solange Surround Sound "Dolby" (8 pts, both majors), Fairway High Maintainence "Barbie" (8 pts, both majors), and Solange Significant "Signi". Dolby won the 9-12 month dog class in Futurity and was third in 9-12 mos sable dogs in the regular classes. Signi was 4th in 9-12 month puppy bitches. Another Brett baby, "Reba", Laurelen Storyland Legacy of a Dream, was 4th in 6-9 month sable bitches.
Dolby and Signi are owned by Linda Nicholas of Solange shelties and are out of her Solange Body Language, who won 2nd in the brood bitch class with them. Barbie is owned by Jennifer Tuttle (who shot this photograph) of Fairway shelties and is out of her CH Fairway's One Under Par.
Brett is littermate to "Annabelle", the mother of my Cory. And we did AI's on both bitches when they were in to be bred to Brett, so we were cheering from home and following online.
Way to go, Brett and company!