Friday, March 23, 2012

The Eyes Have It

Always watching me!  This is what I see while I stand at the counter or bar and eat my lunch.  When I see Argus and Letty mooching around the family room they don't look so much alike, but when I see them like this - well, the resemblance is pretty amazing.

No time for blogging today.  Hope your day goes well!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Speaking Of Livers

The Brownie Girl Party!

Back row from left to right, Don Dvorak, GCh. "Penny", "Meribel" & "Amery" (Penny's 7 month old daughters).  Front row - Heather Kemp, her Dal "Gemma" (another Penny daughter), my "Letty" (half sister to Penny) and me.

When I was looking for my first Dalmatian, I wanted either a black or liver spotted female.  Although I'd never seen a liver at that time, I knew it was an acceptable color, so it did not matter to me which one I purchased.  I ended up with liver-spotted "Criket", who eventually became Ch. Blackpool Red Nora CDX,  and the rest, as they say, was history.  Although I have owned my share of black spotted Dals, I admit to being partial to living with livers (when I judge I have to be "color blind").  

We've come a long ways over the years, and livers have gone from being "second class citizens" to the color of choice for many people.  Livers have done extremely well in the breed ring and often rank amongst the top Dals in the country.  They have also done very well at the National, and the year "Argus" won Best Of Breed at DCA, BoB, BoS & BoW were ALL livers.  The year my "Morris" Am/Can Ch. Paisleys Pointblank CD ROM was BoS at the National, Best of Breed was also liver-spotted.

Because I've always had attractive outgoing adult liver Dals at my house (good "sales dogs" I've never had a problem selling liver puppies to companion homes, and my puppy reservations are often for liver pups.  In the breed ring, livers continue to be very popular.  We've come a long ways!   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Watch Homes

This is Gemma, one of the Cruise/Penny girls.  Everyone loved her as a pup, but we were afraid she would end up too colorful for the show ring, or that her spots would stay too small to be attractive.  She went to Heather, who grow up with Dalmatians, had previously owned mixed breed rescues, but had always dreamt of having a Dal of her own.  Heather purchased Gemma with the agreement that we could take another look at her before she was spayed, in case we wanted to show her.  When I saw Gemma at 4 months, I was quite convinced that she would be better off as a spayed pet, and Jess felt the same, but we needed to see her again before making the decision.  So glad we did!  Wow!  Gemma changed from a clunky, boringly marked baby into a swan!  We knew she had the structure, but were surprised by all the style, how her color had deepened and her spots had cleared.  Her spotting is just the right size now - smaller and it would not be so flashy, larger and she would be too colorful.  And what wonderful structure!  Two extra sound ends, a wonderful body and topline, great feet, a perfect tail, and an amazingly long neck.  Plus, an excellent disposition!  So glad this one did not "get away"!  

Being able to place pups in "watch homes" is so nice.  The buyer just wants a pet anyway, so if the dog turns out to actually be pet quality, nothing is lost.  Some pups appear to be show potential from an early age, while others have things we are not quite sure about, things we need more time to evaluate.   Because our dogs are kept as pets, not as kennel dogs, we generally do not keep these pups past about ten weeks if we can find pet homes willing to work with us.  When a pup like Gemma turns out to be so lovely, we do not expect the owner to show or pay for the showing, we only require that they  allow us to "borrow" their dog from time to time if we want to show it, and we pay the expenses.  Works well for all of us!

Am so excited to have my first spawn of Illyodon cortesae!  That means I have 3 different spawns growing up - Ameca splendens, Phallichthys fairweatheri, and I. cortesae .  I currently have 475 BAP points (Breeder Award Program) and these three species will push me over the top for my 500 point award, assuming each spawn has at least 4 surviving youngsters at the age of 2 months.  The youngsters will go on the BAP table at an upcoming meeting to be auctioned off to other fish club members, and the appropriate number of points will be added to my record.  Different species are worth a varying number of points, so my 500 points will represent somewhere between 40-45 different species spawned and raised. That was my goal for 2012.   Hooray!

Back to The Adventures Of Argus, tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Speaking Of Obedience

Here's my cute little Letty at 8 months.  She's a just a peanut, and weighs in at about 35 pounds.  Although I much prefer the boys, this little rascal has won my heart.  She's exceedingly cute, very funny, and tries so hard to be a good dog.  She'll be sitting home this spring as Amery, Meribel and Gemma are much more together for their ages, and Eddie is ready, so we have plenty of dogs to show.  I'll just enjoy her as a pet for now.

A very good evening at obedience, thank goodness!  Argus had been such a butthead the previous week I had begun to wonder if it was worth the effort to go for an obedience title on him.  Training a 6 1/2 year old dog who has been heavily campaigned in the breed ring is a lot different than starting with a new dog.  In addition to learning, Argus also has to unlearn, as so many of the things that made him a terrific showdog are a handicap in the obedience ring.  Although we were a good team in the breed ring, the level of attention required for a good obedience dog is far greater, and the "cues" he was getting from my body language are totally different from the ones he will need for a good obedience performance.  Because I had started him with a totally different training method, it too me awhile to apply the new methods to Argus and to figure out how to make them work for both of us.

Our biggest hurdle has been and will continue to be attention.  A good conformation dog pays attention to his handler but is also stimulated by everything that goes on around him in the ring and at ringside.  It keeps him up, interested and turned on.  A good obedience dog is focused solely on its handler, a big change for my busybody Argus who is interested in everything happening around him. 

Heel position is another issue.  In the past six plus years Argus and I have logged perhaps thousands of miles, and he's either walked on a Flexi Lead, or a regular slack lead, but never right beside me.  As long as he does not pull, I allow him to walk out ahead of me, from a foot or two to 26 feet (the length of a Flexi line).  He's been shown in the breed/group/Best In Show ring hundreds of times, on a short lead but again out in front of me.  Although he is paying attention and can anticipate what comes next, he does not watch me intently as he must do in the obedience ring. 

His third major problem was the fact that to him a Sit command means just that, Sit.  The concept of a straight sit at my side was hard for him. 

To be continued . . .


Monday, March 19, 2012

Lovely! Both The Weather & The Pups

What a lovely weekend in Minnesota!  The warm temperatures are of great concern, as is the continued drought, but because there is nothing we can do about it (other than worry) we might as well enjoy the incredible weather and hope for the best.  Temperatures in the 70s and 80s are about 40 degrees above normal, and we desperately need rain.,  There is plenty of moisture in the air, too much in fact, but it is not falling as rain, just sitting there making it humid.  So strange.

Laurie arrived from Virginia on Thursday, bringing Penny and Amery.  Penny was just along for the ride, but her daughter Amery arrived to get ready for the National.  We hadn't seen her since she left for Virginia with Laurie last fall, and we were absolutely delighted with how she is developing.  We had a Brown Bitch Party at Jess's, with Penny, Amery, Jess's Meribel, their sister Gemma, and my Letty who is not a littermate, but actually a half-sister to Penny, but similar in age to Amery, Meribel & Gemma.
One of our projects for the day was to get current pictures of the puppy girls, and it was amazing to me how mature and "together" they were at 8 months of age, or at least how mature the three Penny daughters were already.  Poor Letty looked like a real puppy by comparison, in size as well as maturity.  Funny how they all mature different.  The Penny daughters are far more "together" than Penny was at this age.

Amery went as the "pick" bitch, but as in so many litters there is often more than one pick.  Gemma went to a "watch home" with Heather, because we were not sure how her spotting would turn out.  She was a colorful pup with a lot of bone and substance.  When I last saw her at 4 months I thought we would just write her off and let Heather spay her, but when we saw her on Saturday everyone agreed that Gemma should have a show career as she very striking and sound, and so exotic she just takes my breath away.

Jess's Meribel stayed with them because they really needed a puppy to take their minds off the health issues of one of their Shepherds.  As a first time breeder, Don had grown very attached to the pups and really NEEDED one of the pups to stay.  Meribel was not the star of the litter but was a lovely pup with a great personality, and like Gemma has turned out better than we had anticipated.

Such fun!  Three gorgeous liver girls from one litter, plus their handsome brother down in Texas.  We considered dozens of dogs when we were trying to decide how to breed Penny and finally remembered Cruise.  When I first thought of him, we were not even sure if he was still siring pups as we had not seen him in many years, but a call to his owner confirmed that he was still available, and had all appropriate health testing. Point for point he had the things we wanted in a husband for Penny, and his pedigree matched up nicely with some similar ancestors (that's called linebreeding) and many dogs that we knew.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  More pictures tomorrow.