Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

Some of the Team Applewoods got together today for a photo shoot.  They wish all of you a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Plan for 2011

Off and on, year after year, I rant about the terrible shape dog ownership is in.  It gets blamed on first one sort of animal rights group after another.  The rant continues as one truly awful bill becomes a law after another. Doors continue to be slammed shut on dog owners and of course this past year has seen the black death of animal hate spread to all our farm animals as well.  Things sure do look bleak, and yet, and yet...

A few days ago I sent a post to a small email group I belong to in response to the current and seemingly prevailing view that any sort of formal dog obedience is somehow useless.  Here is my response to that thread.

I freely acknowledge the fact that the commonly held belief of those who don't understand what a true golden treasure AKC obedience offers are the ones who are the loudest in their insistence the trials are not necessary, not wanted, of no use, etc.

This stance is not a new one; it's just that in the last few years it has sadly become the most prevalent one.

As an obedience instructor just what do obedience trials offer you? The answer is they offer you a way to check your skills AS AN INSTRUCTOR. Of course, you will need to understand the rules and make sure your students are properly prepared prior to entering. What you will find (IF) you do your job well, is that your top students will always have scores in the mid-190 range and your average students will have scores in the 180 range. Your poor students will take twice as long to achieve a Companion Dog title and they will do it with scores in the 170 range. All of them will be proud of what they have done and most will want to continue with more advanced training.

As a trainer just what do obedience trials offer you? The answer is they offer you a way to check your training skills. They help to keep you intellectually honest. If you are training dogs for others they serve as a way to insure you are turning out a top quality product and one that has been proven by your peers in as unbiased a manner as possible. All this will do is bring you more business.

As an owner what better way to test your skills, hone your abilities, get to show off, pick up some bragging rights and just generally improve your overall relationship with your dog.

People fear what they don't know. Lazy people never manage to make it through the door when it comes to entering that upper level of a human/dog relationship. A relationship only achieved by learning and then teaching and then finally molding yourself and your dog into a smoothly working team. Once a smooth team, the obedience ring brings so much joy and pleasure to both team members.

Truly it is a shame so many of those in the very best position to bring back well trained dogs as the norm refuse to take part in doing so. Leave the "skinner-box" mental attitude to those who don't train, but simply manage their dog through a few tricks. Take "real working dog" attitude with you and step in that ring. You will love the difference.

What I have seen happen here consistently for more than 40 years is that the good trainers train for everyday life, spend 2 weeks to 2 months learning ring skills and then step in the Novice ring and clean-up. They come back from those trials walking taller, talking softer and hooked on dog training. They are the hope of our(your) future. Continue to fail them as many of you have been and within the next 10 years it will all be gone and so will your rights to even own a dog, never mind actually train one.
My reason for reposting is with the hope of stirring up some action.  Not just a comment or two, not even a post or two elsewhere, but real, honest-to-goodness action. 

This is what I want for 2011, not just for me but for all dog owners, dog trainers, dog obedience instructors.

  1. I want to hear from dog obedience instructors who are honestly looking for ideas that will get dog ownership back on the right track.
  2. I want to hear from those of you who are already starting to be successful in some small way. 
  3. I want to hear from you with each successful step forward your students take. 
  4. I want to read about how one dog trainer in one town managed to use the success of a couple of students to gain 4 more students, and then used those 4 students to gain 8 more students and the 8 in turn became 16, etc.
  5. I want to hear about how all those students took their well mannered and well trained dogs off to some AKC trials and earned not just Companion Dog titles, but first places, and yes even a High In Trial or two along the way.
  6. I want to have the pleasure of reading about how 8 of the original 16 have now mastered the real test of a good owner and taught their dogs to retrieve.  Not just a dumbbell in a sterile environment, but real retrieve work in the real world.
  7. I want to find out that the 8 students who taught the retrieve also understood the true importance of teaching the Broad Jump as well as the other requirements of a Companion Dog Excellent title and they all earned the right to put the letters CDX after their dog's name.
  8. And being the greedy sort I am, I want to find out that of the 8 students who earned a CDX, 4 of them are now true dog training students and are working on the oh so technical skills necessary to train a real UTILITY dog.  That way, they really have a wonderful and useful dog at home and in the community and a dog that has the right to the letters UD after his name.
  9. Of course, for 2012 I sure hope to learn that of the 4 who traveled all the way to Utility 2 of them go on and earn a UDX and one of them manages an OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion).
  10. My final wish? I want all those now successful dog owners to band together and march on their "city hall" and take back the freedoms that have been lost because of the animal rights movement.
Anyway, happy holiday season to all the rest of you.  May your leashes be well used and someday soon only be needed for safety reasons rather than because of some law.

Season's Greetings

Originally uploaded by samd517

Sanity on the right, Rugby in the middle and Jasmine on the left are helping me wish all of you a Happy Holiday season this 2010.

Come train with us next year and learn just how much fun dog training really can be.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Update Jean Cyhanick pledge

Below is the update from Walt Hutchens on where and how to send in your pledge dollars.  I've managed to scrape together $50.  I think there are 40 people who have signed up to read this blog on a regular basis.  Just think, if each of you only sent $10 that would mean an additional $400 to the fund.

And just think, if each of you matched me and sent $50 it would mean $2,000 added to the fund.  People, we must help Jean.  We must help Jean because the thought of her losing this case is just unthinkable.  Were she to lose due to lack of funds is even more unthinkable.  This case will directly effect each and every single one of us.  Not just breeders, be they volume or hobby, not just owners, but trainers, dog food manufacturers, vets, and every single person who has or will at some time in the future have a dog to help them, comfort them, be their unquestioning friend, the life that meets you at the start of every day with joy and makes you feel wanted when you come home in the evening.   Please make a donation to protect yourself from losing your dog to government theft, be it the dog you now own or one in the future.

Hi ...:

 WE HAVE ENOUGH PLEDGED TO PAY THE ATTORNEY FEE FOR JEAN'S APPEAL. Now we just have to get the money to the lawyer. Until it gets there, nothing will happen and there is a real deadline coming soon.

We will be able to pay the fee of $35,000 in time to make the deadline only by using part of a loan from a generous pet-law member. WE WILL HAVE TO PAY THAT LOAN BACK. There's also a good chance that a few people who pledged, will drop out. Some of you thought you'd be able to beat your pledge amount when you actually donated and IF YOU CAN SEND EXTRA, THAT WILL BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED.


 We HAVE NOT been able to arrange for PayPal. There are two ways to pay:


 A. 'Pay to' Black, Noland, and Read, P.L.C.

 B. Write the number '20100406.003' in the 'memo' area on your check.

 C. If your address isn't printed on your check, write it there.

 D. Put your return address in the usual place on the outside of the envelope.

E. Write 'WMK' in the lower left corner of the front of the envelope.

F. Mail to:
Black, Noland, and Read, P.L.C.
PO Box 1206
 Staunton, VA 24402

 OR -- if you prefer:


 A. Call between 8:30-12 OR 1-5 ET, any weekday.

 B. Have your card handy as they will take full information.

 C. Call BNR at: 1-540-885-0888

 D. Ask to speak with Whitney. If she's unavailable, the receptionist will

 know how to take your information.

 (Whitney is ALWAYS there, but ... just in case!)

 E. Say "I want to donate for the Jean Cyhanick appeal."

 F. Give credit card info as requested, ending with the amount you're donating.

 G. You will be asked for your mailing address as there is a notice that the lawyer has to send you.

The office will be closed Thursday-Friday, December 23-24, so 'sooner is better than later.'

While there can never be any guarantees for what happens in a courtroom, THIS IS A WINNABLE CASE. YOU are going to make it possible for Jean to try.

 We have a fine law firm and Tate C. Love is a fine lawyer: They're strongly committed to winning this appeal. It gets no better than that. THANK YOU.

And I know that Jean also thanks you from the bottom of her heart.

I will keep you informed as things progress, however progress in appeals cases is typically measured in months.

Walt Hutchens

Timbreblue Whippets
Puppycam most nights roughly 8-10 PM ET at:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jean Cyhanick pledge

If we as a group continue to sit on our hands and do nothing there will be no more dogs in 10 years.  Harsh?  Black helicopters in the sky? Another of Margot's "the sky is falling" rants?

Nope.  Not at all.  For background go to  If we as owners, trainers, breeders allow the travesty in Virginia to stand, then we will live to see the dog vanish from our homes, hearths, fields and hearts.  I'm not a breeder.  I don't even get to many dog trials/shows anymore, but I still have managed to pledge $50 from my very slim budget to help fight this battle.  It's my battle.  It's your battle. It's our battle.  Please make a pledge and then when they let us know where to send the money, actually sent what you pledged.


Here is what others are saying:
Not yet, but soon!

With the help of a generous loan from a pet-law member, we now know we
can do it. We would have to pay the loan amount back, so WE STILL NEED
PLEDGES but we no longer need to worry that we won't be able to pay
the attorney in time for him to make the filing deadline.

I have some details to clear up with the attorney's office which is
semi-closed today due to snow in the area. Then I have to write up the
payment instructions and get them ready to send to those who have
pledged; even with a good mailer, sending out almost 300 emails takes
some time.

I'll let the lists know when the instructions have been mailed.

WE DO STILL NEED PLEDGES. We're only able to make the $35,000 total
with the aid of the loan so WE CAN'T QUIT WHERE WE ARE.

The story of what happened to Jean is at:

in the second post. Those who want to pledge can email me at: waltah @ (take out the blanks). Instructions for where to send
payment will be emailed within a few days.

PLEASE GET 'Jean Cyhanick pledge' in your subject line so your email
doesn't get lost. I'm still finding pledges in out-of-the-way places
and I would hate to think that we'd lose any!

I've send out acknowledgements to most of those who have pledged: If
by Friday PM you haven't heard from me saying "Thank you" then please
send your pledge again.

I can't tell you how impressed I am at all the support you've given
Jean and this effort. While there are no guarantees, THIS IS A
WINNABLE CASE and Jean has a good attorney.

Don't think of this just as a court case: Appealing a verdict on a bad
law gets attention in the legislature, especially in the committees
that made that law happen. The legislative process is definitely
messy, but VA General Assembly members do want to get things right. A
law that comes back from an appeals court in a pine box is very likely
to get a stake through the heart in the Assembly.

You'll also be helping a breeder who did nothing wrong and had the
courage to face spending the rest of her life in prison in order to
prove it.


Walt Hutchens
Timbreblue Whippets

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Training by the Wish method revisited

Way back in August I posted about an incident that happened to one of my students and her dog while they were in the Novice A obedience ring doing stays. The following comment was just posted about that entry. However, I get the feeling the writer in question may have actually attempted to read some of my earlier blog entries. How many? Who knows, but it does appear to me that perhaps reading comprehension skills may not be quite up to par. Either that or my ability to tell the story using words, pictures and video is just not up to the task at hand.

So, first the comment:

Patty Sontag said...
It really sounds like many of the people posting think the only way to train a dog reliably is with force and harsh corrections. I trained my Kerry Blue to his UD with positive reinforcement - no ear pinches, collar corrections, prong collars or electronic collars. HE NEVER BROKE HIS STAYS, EVEN WHEN OTHER DOGS CAME UP TO HIM AND GOT IN HIS FACE. He NEVER NQ'd on stays on his way to his CD or CDX - NEVER! I proofed and proofed his stays and they were solid before I stepped foot in the ring - my instructor made sure of that. Perhaps other handlers, instead of showing their 9 month old puppies in Novice, should wait until their dogs are a bit more mature and have more self control before putting them in situations that they can't handle. I know I would certainly appreciate that. The problem isn't positive reinforcement, it's the people who are in such a big rush to get their OTCH by the time the dog is 2 or 3. Don't shoot the method, shoot the stupid person at the other end of the leash who has entered their dog WAY too early without being sure that their dog can handle the situation. Anyone who knew him wanted to be placed next to him - they knew he was solid. Unfortunately, I lost him to cancer 3 weeks ago and picked up his ashes this morning. He was one GREAT dog.

Now for my comments:

Dear Ms Sontag,

I am truly happy for you and your success with your Kerry Blue. I'm sure your hard work and patience brought you much closer to this dog of your heart than you have ever been before. I'm also so sorry for your loss and know that the grieving process is at best a difficult one and at times a seemingly endless process of grey and dreay days, followed by cold and sometimes sleepless nights.

Know that the grieving process will one day complete its course and your lost KB will take a special place in your memories. Meanwhile, time marches on in a most relentless fashion.

From your writing you leave the impression of a dog who was a middle of the pack sort of terrier who never actually turned on to his true terrier nature. In a word, he was a "cold" rather than "hot" terrier. It does sound as if this was an ideal sort of dog for you and where you were/are in you travel up life's hill.

Your stated way of showing a dog what you wish him to do with, to or for you does work with a small percentage of dogs with a very specific temperament type. It is not confined to just a few breeds, but can be found across the total broad spectrum of domestic canines. Just because you happened to be lucky enough to stumble on one does not in any way guarentee you will ever have another one with the same skill sets. What is most likely is that any and all dogs you own from this point on will be much closer to the norm.

I do remain curious about the nine month old puppy you mention. Is this someone you know? It certainly didn't have anything to do with the dogs belonging to the students I have blogged about. The main student dog in "Training by the Wish method" was a Yorkshire Terrier who was almost 10 YEARS old. The Kerry Blue that is the feature dog in the "Taming of the Beast" is almost 5 YEARS old.

Ellie the Yorkie was a throw-away dog who had also been labeled a special needs dog. It was claimed that she was dog aggressive, people aggressive and killed things smaller than herself. Brandy the Kerry Blue came only AFTER two other trainers had failed her, she had seriously injured more than one dog, managed to land a bite on a human and been labeled by her country of residence as potentially dangerous. Quite frankly I'm still waiting to be introduced to the trainer/owner/dog combo who has successfully rehab'ed a dog with these labels, put obedience titles on them and seen them move successfully back into their respcetive communities.

Where is Ellie today? She is a hard working "school" dog. Her job is to demo just how to go about the business of training a toy breed to behave like a proper dog rather than a battery powered toy. She also helps train all the children who come here. With her help they are able to learn good, careful, thoughtful, kind handling skills. Skills that will go far to help them in many areas of their lives in the future. Oh, and yes she did finish that C.D. with a second first place and a HIGH IN TRIAL. Most of the time we think she is a very fine little critter. On occasion she slips back into her old ways and gets called "that little rat" and then quickly does something special to mend her slip.

Where is Brandy today? She has finished her C.D. with nothing less than a second place. She was entered in 4 trials. She qualified in all 4 trials. Currently she and her owner are busy putting the final touches on the Open exercised with plans on a C.D.X. spring of 2011. They have also started Utility training and plans along with our hopes are to see them in the utility ring by late fall of 2011.

Brandy is without peer when it comes to scent work as seen in these two video clips.


Brandy now has much better things to do than wasting time on small or medium untrained, not-dogs. What is a not-dog? It is one of those sorry, twisted creatures who have no jobs, no real training, no responsibilities and so are forced to spend their days slowly growing more and more stupid due to lack of metal stimulation and challenge.