Monday, August 22, 2011

Small Brag & Big Life Lesson

~ submitted by Tracy Thorliefson

Ellie qualified in Rally Advanced and Excellent both days at the Olympic Kennel Club dog shows in Enumclaw this past weekend. She had scores of 98, 97, 96 and 95 and in one class of 21 dogs placed third. With these "q's" Ellie earned the RAE title.

This is not a particularly difficult title to achieve, you just have to double qualify in both Advanced and Excellent ten times. Last fall, when I realized that Ellie already had 8 legs, I decided that we might as well go for the title. She would be 10 in January, but still loved to play at obedience. I started taking her to Rally class with Griffey and she had a ball. (Plentiful amounts of cookies are involved so what's not to love?) I looked at the upcoming show schedule and planned to enter her at the Seattle Kennel Club shows in March.

Then, in February, she was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. She had surgery (her tumor-ridden spleen was removed) and then she had chemotherapy. While having chemo she was prohibited from going to dog class because chemo suppresses the immune system. Other than losing all her hair, she tolerated chemo really well. Nonetheless, I never thought that she would go to a dog show again, much less compete.

But Ellie finished chemo and seems to be doing really well -- eating, playing with Griffey, barking at the neighbor dogs and hogging the bed. I took her back to Rally class, where despite some foggy moments she showed she still remembered what "heel" means. So, I decided to enter her at the Enumclaw shows. Why not try for one last title?

We went, we competed, and we qualified -- title earned and goal achieved. But doing this with Ellie, under these circumstances, felt totally different than past shows and rally trials. I can get impatient or exasperated at stupid mistakes (mine and whatever dog I'm with), rue the lost points, plan the next training strategy, and focus on how to get better next time. That didn't happen this weekend. I was pleased with the decent scores and thrilled with the third place in such a big class, but mostly I was just grateful to be there, with Ellie, one last time. I appreciated her and her efforts and was happy with what we accomplished. So -- small brag but big life lesson. Remember to appreciate each moment for what it is and be happy that your dog is there to share it with you.

God willing, I will have Ellie with me for many more months/years. I hope that I will remember the life lesson for just as long.

Go hug your dog(s) tonight and be glad that they share your life. I know I'm just a little more mindful about how grateful I am for their companionship today than I was last week.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Briards Against Mandatory Spay/Neuter

Jamie Austad is an artist and student in the Seattle, WA area, and she works part time in a veterinary hospital. She is also a dog lover, a member of the Spinone Club of America, and is owned by two fabulous Spinoni who both have their CH titles and also both hunt in addition to being professional counter surfers.

For some time she has wanted to do something to help fight the mandatory spay/neuter legislation in our country.  She knows how hard breeders work to build and maintain their lines, spending so much time & effort researching pedigrees, herding instinct, good conformation, sound structure, type, and temperament. She knows that so often a litter produced does not mean money produced, that breeding is a labor of love. The legislation toward mandatory s/n bothers her so much on behalf of ethical breeders, lumping them in where they don't belong and increasing the financial cost of a pursuit that is already so costly.

She's designed some breed graphics that can be printed on various items (shirts, hats, bags, etc), and is making it available at her store on CafePress. It's pretty simple, making the point that without great breeders we wouldn't have the breeds that we love so much.

She will donate a minimum of 10% of the profits of these sales to the NAIA Trust, which is the best organization she's found taking action against this legislation. If you belong to a club who places a bulk order for shirts, tote bags, etc, she will also donate a portion to your club's rescue committee. Please contact her if you place such an order so she will know and be able to send the donation to the right place.

CafePress Store:
Facebook Page:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family Outing

Last weekend, Griffey, Ellie and Isabelle got together with Andre and Tia at Sonia Thompson's near Granite Falls for a walk in the woods and nice visit. (They are pictured as named from left to right.) Ellie - Am/Can Ch Deja Vu Sense and Sensibility CD, RE - (10 years old) is the mother of Cachet's "Isabelle" and "Andre" (both 5 years old) and the grandmother of Nightwind's "Tia" (3 years old), who is Andre's daughter, so the picture captures three generations of briards.  Griffey - Am/Can Ch Bijou Educated Guess - is the youngest of the group (2 years old) and not directly related to the other four.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Meet "Sam" and her Briards

"Sam" King lives on a a small ranch outside of Ellensburg, WA. In the photo, Sam (left) and Camilla (right - also Briard owner) are sipping champagne and enjoying a wonderful summer evening with all four dogs. Reflected in the window is the hillside where most of those elk graze under the watchful eye of all four Briards (see photo below).

Sam has owned briards constantly for over thirty years. Until recently all have come from Mon Jovis and Mon Ami kennels. Her current Briards are a seven-year-old black male, Guy, who is battling bone cancer, Ellie a rescue female from LeBec Briards in CA and Joker Bob, Guy's littermate.

Ellie Jelly Belly is five and was rescued from Utah by Jeanne. She had nearly no manners or sense of belonging. Jeanne made sure she was not a danger prior to shipping Ellie. It has taken six months to settle her down. It nearly broke Sam's heart when she raised her voice and Ellie would throw herself into a corner, tuck, shake and cower. Now, she romps along with the others whenever they visit Joker Bob and HIS herd of elk (see photo below). Ellie has brought some life back into Guy. Now, at least, he tries to participate in Briard games such as chase fish in the creek or play chicken with the calves. Guy and Ellie sleep nose to nose.

The dog in the photo with the elk is a seven year old Mon Amis boy, Joker Bob, Sam purchased as a pup. Bob is standing in the field of her dear friends who adopted him from five years ago, during her divorce. They love him beyond description. Although they live nearby, and Sam shares joint custody, Bob has adopted them as his pack.

Sam cannot imagine life without a Briard. Other rescue dogs come along and she conditions them for new homes, but Briards own her heart. She seeks another rescue, by the way, and is willing to work with severe behavior issues, something she already does with horses.