Tag Archives: dog sports

Frozentozen 2013: Workin’ in the Snow

ryker-frozentozen2013-8739On Sunday, we went out to watch the afternoon pull for the World Wide Weight Pull Organization (W3PO).  I honestly didn’t go with the intention of doing anything but watching a bunch of good pullers have fun on a really challenging surface but little did I know that I would be poked and prodded until I actually caved and agreed to let old man Ryker have some fun on the snow pad.

For anyone who’s ever pulled on snow, they know that if the conditions on the pad (snow track) aren’t absolutely perfect in both weather and actual track conditions, it can be a puller’s worst nightmare because of the difficulty of that particular surface.  Ryker has always excelled on snow because he learned early on what it took to break the sled when it started to freeze to the track but it has been many years (January 2011 was the last time we did snow) and I never thought we would see the surface again so all of those habits for breaking the sled free have long since been broken because they are unsuitable for wheeled or rail tracks.  Thankfully, the harder it got, the more pissed off he got and the harder he tried to beat that cart…until he couldn’t any longer.

It was, by far, one of the sloppiest days because the temperature sat at forty-something degreesryker-frozentozen2013-8722 all day and made the track slushy until the sun started to fall – then it froze and fast.  One by one, dogs bowed out – unable and unwilling to work against the fast freezing track with its ever increasing difficulty level.  Ryker was one of three remaining pullers at the end with the other two being a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog named Royce who weighed in at 115 pounds and a Newfoundland weighing much more.  It was an honor to be in the last three pulling – especially with both dogs weighing well over double the forty-six pounds that Ryker weighed in at.

In the end, Ryker bowed out at 28.97 times his body weight.  This translated to 1,333 pounds on a slushy, difficult track.  He fell short of the Most Weight Pulled per Pound (which is based on the percentage of weight pulled versus the gross weight) that was a little over 32 times the dog’s body weight which was done by a nineteen pound Basenji named Roxie that pulled that one off!   It was, none the less, a very impressive day.  There were many dogs who pulled well into ryker-frozentozen2013-8779the 20x range – including the relatively new pulling dog, Royce, who at only two years old shows a LOT of very good promise.

We are aiming to hit the W3PO’s next snow pull the weekend of January 11th in Luna Pier, Michigan.  This relatively new organization has given us bubbling new hope for the sport that we adore with the camaraderie that was ever present at the Michigan United Kennel Club (UKC) pulls prior to the big alteration of their weight pull program to dissolve the actual competitive aspect of weight pull.  We highly recommend anyone looking to get into the sport check out the group’s new page on Facebook or check out an upcoming event and be prepared to have some fun with your dog.

Questioning My Sanity: An Introduction

I’m probably insane for doing this.  Insane for bringing a high drive puppy into a home with six other dogs and three of the six being seniors (even if they refuse to act like seniors!) but I honestly don’t think I can help it.  I keep looking at my older dogs and frowning over the fact that they’re getting older and by getting older, I worry far more that if I attempt to do things with them, I may invariably break them by asking something because they don’t know when to say orion-november2013-7271No, this is too much for me.’ and not perform the requested action.  They’re far too stubborn to quit and so I have to, essentially, force them to into retirement.  It sucks for me and it definitely sucks for them because they loathe seeing me work the younger dogs and not them.  Sure, they still get their work time but it is typically halved and not so intense.

You see, I knew that with five of my six dogs being at least five years old (or soon to be six), that it would be time to start looking for the next level of my sanity testing to be brought home – especially knowing that we had recently adopted our beloved senior boy, “Grandpa” Gus and that his time with us is limited by his quality of life since he is quite the old codger and hasn’t had the easiest of lives lived prior to joining the chaos of our home (which he is loving every moment of – especially if it means antagonizing the other boys!).

I had begun looking prior to even knowing that Gus would land in our home. I knew what I wanted in a dog and what breed I was after.  That dog had to be drivey – almost nutty with drive if I could safely manage it – and an APBT.  I, as always, looked to my favorite selection of working dog breeders for these options.  The unfortunate problem however is that working dog breeders rarely breed and rarely place dogs that they wouldn’t keep themselves if they had room.  I, however, lucked out with personal friends (and one of my favorite breeders!) – Howard and Beth.

You see, Howard and Beth breed only when they’re looking for the next addition to their program and so it’s lucky if a litter is born every three to four years.  I had, thankfully, begun my search right around the time they were whelping a beautiful APBT litter (and an AmStaff litter but I am not ready for an AmStaff just yet!) out of two beautiful, traditional type APBTs.  The whole litter was black and white and many of the puppies had flash.  I couldn’t help butorion-november2013-7283 drool as the puppy fever became stronger and stronger.

I watched them all grow.  I liked the girls but I had my heart set on a little boy because my best buddy and best working dog was, after all, a boy and that this puppy would have some gigantic paws to fill if he was ever going to be even half as good as my still working partner, Ryker, which I know will be easy with what his phenomenal breeders have produced in the past and looking at the very girl they entrusted with me almost four years ago.

I have finally succumbed to madness.  I have added a new puppy to the fold of six crazy, refusing-to-chill-with-age adult and senior dogs but I know, in the end, it will be worth it.  This wonderful little bundle of naughtiness, attitude and pure piss and vinegar will go places and do things and may even surpass those gigantic paws he has to fill but I may pull my hair out along the way.  I am happy to say, it will be worth it and to introduce to you Howard’s WMK Counting Stars who will be known around these parts as Orion.  Welcome home, little man.  We are glad to have you in all of your naughtiness (and yes, you will not have anyone younger than you to terrorize for a while at least!).

Perseverance Pays Off!

foxvalleyadba-august2013-1238Many folks who know me personally know how long and hard I have campaigned in the ADBA with Ryker, my brindle guy.  In a conformation ring where conditioning matters, a brindle dog is at a disadvantage under many judges because it’s a million times harder to see the muscle tone in the coat pattern unless it’s a really light brindle color.  To add insult to injury, I didn’t really get started in the ADBA ring until he was in one of the hardest classes around – the 2-3 year old class.

We had many shows where he didn’t even get looked at.  He was flashy, he was fiery and he was more than willing to show himself but he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and in classes with 10-12 foxvalleyadba-august2013-0889males his own age doing just the same thing it was a hard pick.  We started to get noticed finally, though.  I got better at conditioning and handling in that venue and he learned how to conduct himself better and hold a free stack longer while running off at the mouth (which he enjoys doing at every corner!).

We didn’t travel often so he only got shown at a handful of shows a year (with a max of about 4 show weekends) so it was hard chasing those points.  We also were double committing and weight pulling at the same time for his Ace (which he still needs to earn!)  so we had to pick and choose but at the Fox Valley show under honorable judge Mary Cullifer we finally did it.  It was the 5 and Over class and there were some pretty darn nice dogs in his class but he pulled a first off and came home with 109 points – 9 points more than he needed to become an ADBA foxvalleyadba-august2013-0907conformation Champion.

It was a long road.  We had many, many people tell me he just wasn’t the right fit for the ADBA but I knew, in my heart of hearts that he was and he could do it.  I wouldn’t have traded the learning experience for all of the tea in China though.  He and I learned a lot with the help of many good friends and it will only lead to better chances available for future dogs with his legacy.

Congratulations, Ryker.  You earned this and you deserve it!

Safety First: Building a First Aid Kit

Always be prepared.  That’s the scout motto isn’t it?  Well, it certainly is in our house.  Since my husband and I are both fairly active with our dogs, because they wouldn’t have it any other way, means that we always have to be prepared for that one thing to go wrong.  The just in case situation that can be a simple fix or even a lifesaving action on the way to the vet (thankfully, we’ve not had any of the latter just yet.  *knocking on wood!*).

For all of those scratches, cuts, allergic reactions, burns, etc. that your dog may encounter (or you for that matter!), it is always good to have a first aid kit on hand.  Our first aid kit is pretty extensive and covers pretty much anything that can be thought of.  It contains items both for dog and people use and gets put in the car if we leave with a dog or five for that chance encounter with disaster but your kit doesn’t have to hold as much if you’d prefer it didn’t.  We’ve seen some kits that had the bare essentials and then our behemoth-type kits so it’s personal preference.

Our First Aid Kit

Our First Aid Kit

When making a first aid kit, remember to have a container specifically designated for your items.  This kit needs to be as sanitary as possible so be prepared to have a lot of bags and what not to contain items so they don’t encounter things that could potentially make a situation worse.

In our kit, we have the following items:

  • Mesh Muzzles (ones that will fit our dogs)
  • Slip leads (the veterinary variety)
  • Anti-Diarrheal medication
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  • Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Glucose Tablets/Gel
  • Thermometer (and Tip Covers)
  • Pill Crusher and Pill Cutter
  • White Hand Towels
  • Q-tips and Cotton Balls
  • Gauze Pads and Wrap
  • Liquid Bandage
  • Cloth and Self-Adhesive Tapes
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Bag Balm
  • Vet/Sport Wrap
  • Safety Pins
  • Bulb Syring
  • Antacids, Asprin and Ibuprofen
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Calamine Lotion
  • Saline Eye Wash
  • Eye Dropper
  • Instant Cold Compress
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Epsom Salts
  • Styptic Powder
  • Rescue Remedy
  • Pedialyte Unflavored or Orange (we change this out every couple of months)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • LED Flashlight
  • First Aid Books for dogs and people
  • First Aid Instruments (gloves, splinter remover, scissors, tweezers, finger splint and light)

As I said, it’s pretty extensive.  There are a few things I’d like to add but the kit is always a work in progress when I learn something new and/or important for the wellbeing of the beasts or the humans.  We have our current veterinarian’s information on a laminated 3×5 card and make temporary cards with veterinary information for areas we may be traveling near for those just in case moments along with other important numbers  – like poison control!

 If you’re not up for making your own, there are many ready-made kits available online in every price bracket and at many local pet suppliers as well.  It is, however, incredibly important to have something like this assembled before an emergency occurs with your pet or yourself.   These items could be a lifesaving difference if something occurred and are a smart idea in any home with or without pets.

North Meets South ADBA Show

On the weekend of June 1st and 2nd was the Great Lakes Pit Bull Club’s annual show.  This year, the club was joined by the Southeastern APBT Club from North Carolina.  With four shows and two weight pulls, it was a long and grueling weekend since we worked the club being members of the Great Lakes club but it was absolutely amazing.

In recent years, many clubs have seen a massive decline in entries due to a variety of reasons with the largest one being economic and financial setbacks.  The ‘North Meets South’ event, however, didn’t seem to have much of that concern with well over 100 entries in conformation alone for each show.  Weight pull was no different with record numbers coming to pull.  We had some Class A pullers from all across the US who rocked it out on a less-than-favorable track and had two dogs finish their Ace titles as well!  (Congratulations are in order to Clay of Team No Fear with Boogieman and Dave with Bende.)

Our own personal crew did pretty well despite the fact that my husband and I were both running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  Ryker took three 3rd place ribbons and a 2nd which gave him the elusive 99 points – one point shy of finishing his ADBA Champion title.  Mika was shut out all weekend and Lyric made her debut as an ADBA pull dog and landed a 2nd place (and first 5 points of 100) toward her Ace title.

All in all, the show was a huge success.  Both hosting clubs did exceptionally well and the exhibitors all seemed to have a good time (I know we sure did!) and many said they can’t wait for our next one.  Here’s to many more phenomenal shows and  a fantastic rest of the show season.


Road Trip!


It’s hard to believe I’ve not take a dog event road trip in a little over a year.  I’ve stayed local for the most part because of work and personal obligations but finally had a chance to take some much deserve time off and go to a faraway place known as Waynesville, North Carolina for the Palmetto State APBT Club show with my buddy, Ryker.  It was three days of fun with one of my best buddies doing what we do best – working together and having a good time.

We went down hoping to try and get those last 18 points we need to finish Ryker’s ADBA conformation Championship.  (Because the last points are a PAIN to chase down – especially if one has a brindle dog.  They do NOT show conditioning well at ALL!)  We managed to eek out three with a third place under honorable judge Frank Rocca out of a class of ELEVEN(!!!!!!) 5 and Over Males.  It was insane.  I was constantly trying to move Ryker so he had the best vantage since he was more preoccupied on being a brat.  It was insane.

Quite honestly, I almost died and went to heaven when the judge came over with the 3rd place ribbon.  To be picked among so many nice older boys still vying for the same thing we were.  It truly was an honor and I’m pleased to have placed in the top three and believe many of those dogs deserved the honors of being in the top three as well.


Photo Credit: Laurie Jane

We also puttered around in weight pull that weekend for Saturday and squeaked another 3rd place there before pulling him out to go show in the first show.  He pulled 1,300# that weekend on a very hard track with the top pulling dog (who weighed 82#) pulling just about 3,400# and six dogs in his class (45-55# males).  I was pleased with what we did.  Should I have kept him in longer and forfeited my conformation entries?  Maybe but I didn’t really feel like pushing for much more beyond that.  We’ll get our Ace in due time.  He’s still a young man after all.  It’s not like he’s turning seven years in July.  (Which he actually is, but try telling him that!)

Overall, I had a good time.  It was nice to return to the ADBA circuit.  It gave me a chance to see old friends and meet some new ones.  I got to spend time with my Ryker-man and work that bond that we’ve been so blessed to have for all of these years.  The break did us good.  It gave me a new perspective and reminded that at the end of the day, I still have my wonderful boy and win or lose, he’s still #1 with me and we will just have to put the work in to show everyone else how awesome I already know he is.  Now…to get those last darn points!

K9 Explorers

With spring finally starting to actually happen, the world is starting to blossom and the urge to get out and do things is finally starting to creep in and set fast.  Winter is always a tough season for me (and the dogs) because I have to drag myself out to do things because I hate the extreme colds it produces.  Yeah, we weight pulls in the winter months but it was indoors but that was pretty much the extent of it.  (No snow pulls this year for us!  Brr!)

My husband and I have been looking into doing other things with the dogs outside of competing.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have my competitive “We can do this!” spirit with the dogs but I’m settling down a bit and just want to spend time with the dogs and do things in time.  That is what brought us to finally biting the bullet and looking into joining K9 Explorers.  It’s a really awesome group of people who get together just to DO things with their dogs and even help the community with different projects too.  I’d been following them for a couple of years but it really never kicked that it was something I wanted to do seriously until this year when I got the guts to as the founder, Heather, if I could tag along on one of the hikes.

We had a blast.  The dogs were tired.  We were tired.  We got to hang out with like-minded people who thoroughly enjoyed their dogs and their company.  These were people who enjoyed doing things with their dogs for the heck of it.  Sure, there were a few dog sport competitors in the group like Abby and Therese from Team Puggle (seriously awesome team, by the way!) but for the most part it these were folks who just genuinely loved their pets.  It was such a wonderful treat that we were hooked.

We’ve decided to make the plunge to join and enjoy ourselves and help out in the club to make sure things run smoothly.  It’s going to be a blast earning badges like we could have in Dog Scouts of America since they wouldn’t accept a couple of our dogs for not being particularly doggie friendly, helping the community and enjoying doing things with the dogs outside of the normal competitive setting and I highly recommend the group for anyone in the Metro Detroit area too! (If you’re interested, you can find out more about them here.)


Ryker playing on some of the agility equipment at the first meeting of the year.

The Good, Bad and Ugly: Puppy Hunting

When I finally made the leap into hunting for a dog from a breeder, I knew it would be a long and tedious process.  I made myself a list of things I wanted to do with the dog as it grew up, what characteristics I wanted and what look I wanted the dog to have.  Looking back, that was the easy part.  The two years that followed were agony because I couldn’t have my puppy right then and because there was so much that I had to do to find “the one.”  Ultimately, it was worth all of the headaches, sleepless nights and research because I got not only the dog I wanted but the dog I needed.   (And yes, I still made a ton of mistakes but those mistakes still blessed me with some very wonderful dogs despite my naive and ideal thoughts.)

Since I took the leap 6 years ago, I’ve gotten two more dogs from breeders and have learned to fine tune my requirements and limits to what I won’t put up with.  Admittedly, I’ve become even pickier as I’ve grown from experience.

Breeder Code of Ethics

Every responsible breeder should have a strong set of ethics and morals when they breed or plan a litter.  These two things are what separate these individuals from the puppy peddlers in the world and set the offspring they produce apart from every other “breeder” advertising puppies on Craigslist or the local street corner.  For the American Pit Bull Terrier, these should be fine tuned because of the state that this breed is in because of over breeding and the breeding of sub par animals that should have been altered in the first place.

Some of the things that I personally look for when I start looking at breeders for a new prospect are as follows:

1.)  Health Testing – This breed is prone to a lot of health concerns from cardiac issues, luxating patellas, hip dysplasia and so forth.  When picking a breeder I would prefer to see some level of health testing on the stud dog and the bitch with a minimum of hips and heart tested through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and/or PennHip.

Health Testing Available for the APBT: Hips (OFA/PennHip), Cardiac, Elbows, Patellas, Thyroid, Ataxia, CRD2 (Dayblindness), CERF (Eyes – annual test).  Hips and elbows are done at 24 months through the OFA and hips can be done as young as 16 weeks through PennHip.  The rest of the above health tests can be done at 12 months.

2.)  Conformation and Performance Titles – While I personally put more strength in performance titles overlooking conformation would do the breed an injustice since form must follow function, in theory.  Since the original function is no longer valid for the APBT, performance venues like weight pull, agility, obedience, rally, dock diving, etc. have been birthed to fulfill the need to showcase the versatility of the breed.  The ideal minimum, in my opinion, is a conformation Champion title in the dog’s respective registry and a working title of some variety – preferably not an entry level title.

3.)  Temperament – Let’s face it, these are terriers and terriers are supposed exude confidence.  A shy or reserved dog around people is not supposed to be a common trait in this breed but it is becoming more and more common coming from certain bloodlines and breeders. (The scary thing is some of these breeders seem to try and justify this behavior and continue to breed offspring from siblings of dogs who have shown temperament flaws like shyness.)

4.)  Knowledge of the Breed – You want to go to a breeder who knows these dogs, their traits and behavior traits – like the common occurrence of dog/animal aggression that is common in most terrier types and especially true in the APBT because of its founding history as a canine gladiator.  This doesn’t mean that you discount someone because they haven’t been breeding for X number of years or have only produced X number of litters in so many years.  Most good breeders breed infrequently and typically when they want to hold something back for themselves. Be very wary of breeders who have an excessive number of litters a year.

There are so many more things you can nitpick for when you look for a breeder but the ones mentioned above are the critical ones.  There is a premade Code of Ethics out on the web that gives more in-depth criteria.  It can be found here.

We will say, for theory’s sake, that you’ve picked your ideal parents and now it is down to the nitty gritty with the breeder.  (Contracts, co-owns, pricing…oh, my!)

We’ll start with co-ownership and what it entails.

Co-ownership is the process of two (or more) people sharing ‘ownership’ of a dog.  Co-owning a dog can at varying levels.  It can be for the purposes of retaining breeding rights, ability to show the dog in the bred by class or even just outright controlling behavior.  If your breeder wants to do a co-ownership make sure that you get everything in writing that is expected of you, the breeder and the dog.  Often times co-owning a dog comes at a reduced price for a show quality dog so this may be a bonus if you can live with the intrusion of the breeder into your plans with the dog.

Now, since I mentioned getting everything in writing we’ll get into the contract.  There are some breeders that will sell (or even give) you a dog without a contract but they are few and far between.  A contract is almost a staple when purchasing a show/sport puppy.  A contract should protect the buyer and the seller but most importantly, the puppy.  A contract will let you know what you should get/expect from the breeder and what you, the buyer, are required to do or maintain, co-ownership requirements from both parties and finally the clauses designed to keep the puppy from harm.  When you purchase a puppy and a contract is to be involved make sure you have a copy of it with the breeder’s signature and yours and keep your copy in a safe spot.

Finally, what are you willing to pay for your puppy? Price is a relative choice.  For many show breeders, $1,000 is the standard price for a show quality dog but it can go much lower or higher depending on who you talk to.  Personally, I think anything above a grand for a show-quality puppy is asking a bit much since the puppy is unproven even if his/her parents are titled up the ying-yang.  The personal preference is yours there and what you feel you can afford but remember that a puppy is a gamble and that puppy may or may not turn out.

Once you have that squared away and figured out, you only have to wait until your puppy is born and ready to go home.  The eight weeks following the birth of your puppy will drive you batty and you will probably call (or visit if you’re lucky!) your breeder a million and one times and beg, grovel and hunt for photos of the puppies – I know I did!  It is well worth it once you have found the right breeder for you.

Good luck and happy puppy hunting to those who choose to go the breeder route.  Please remember when you do find the breeding of your dreams that the likeliness of your breeder turning into a total witch can happen. Don’t buy from a breeder that you wouldn’t want as a friend because they are typically with you for 15+ years. Buying from a good breeder is like expanding your human family.

Records Are Made For Breakin’

This last weight pull weekend was beyond amazing.  The sheer adrenaline that flowed through every spectator as Bart, an 84lb American Bulldog owned by Denise Taranto, smashed the previous record for the rail track we were weight pulling on.  He surpassed the record (12,250lbs – originally set by a wonderful rescue dog named Jake who is owned and loved by his phenomenal handler, Andrew Peabody) by a mere 20lbs but it was still cause for celebration.

We had a rough start for the pull weekend at the NWDA pull in Luna Pier, Michigan (August 31 – September 3) and the dogs all had a hard time getting stuff going.  We pulled well into the night on Friday not leaving until almost 11pm.  Saturday we had two pulls – rails in the morning and wheels in the evening.  It was hot, muggy and the track was a little off because the organizer, Toni, likes to keep it level for the entire playing field.  The conditions greatly improved and the track was leveled once more after a torrential downpour on Saturday evening into Sunday and we repeated the cycle on pulls for Sunday and watched records get broken and the 10,000lb club have two new dogs added to it.

My dogs didn’t pull that well but we haven’t been training or conditioning much over the course of the last few months.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and dog events got put on the back burner.  They, however, surprised me.   My little black princess pulled her personal best of 1,050lbs – 26.92 times her body weight of 39lbs.  I didn’t quiet expect it but she made me incredibly proud and broke her own personal record.

Here are a few photos from the weekend.  The rest can be viewed here.