Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finally got to watch Off Season

And it was awesome! Wow freezing my toes off every day for a week was so worth it. Bill was very believable as the thief, as was Dekka as his faithful companion. Here are a few screen grabs from the movie. Dekka's performance was adorable, not that I am at all biased of course.

A friend who watched it with me said "it was strange to see Dekka with some Man as her owner". Which is such a great compliment for Dekka and Bill as well as for Jay, the director.

After watching it and waiting for the credits, I was thinking what an interestingly creepy movie.. and then my heart skipped a beat. The little dog got star billing.

Just the icing on the cake for such an awesome experience. (yes making the movie was hell when it came to location and temperature, but it was also absolutely amazing, the crew were fantastic to work with, my dog rocked, Bill was great and Jay and Jacob (film makers) were wonderful to work with... )

It really is a great short, if any of you get a chance to see it I reccomend it highly. Not just cause the best dog on earth is in it, but because its easy to see why it been garnering praise where ever it shows and got a BAFTA nomination.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The weather is unseasonalby nice and my dog is crazy.

Dekka (not pictured above, thats Kat) is being uber needy these days. I think she knows its agility season. She is normally such a calm and serious dog. She has been down right silly lately. Even to the point of 'rrrring' and trying to play with me in the mornings!! Once outside she does that silly run, with the sideways ears, bouncing back end and circles. She zooms through the barn doing laps. This is so not my dog. Can't wait till things are a little drier and I will start actually doing some agility here. Should help. I hope.

Kat is being a pain these days. Ahh the teenage stage. She has very selective hearing and next to no recall when outside. So no outside the yard being free time for her! She really wants to go over and play with the chain dogs at the shop next door. Which sucks as the gate is locked and I can't go in and get her. She is now trying door dashing to see how it works for her. We haven't had a door dasher in a while so its been hard for Darien and Mark to remember when going in and out.

Its most frustrating, but thinking back Dekka went through similar stages so I still have very high hopes for the problem child.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sport's movie shoot debut

Sport is my son Darien's 2 year old border collie. He is a lovely dog but is not known for his ability to settle, though that is getting better as time goes on. He is not what you might think of as an ideal candidate for film work. However I feel in time he will be an amazing all round dog.

How did Sport land this role you may ask. I got an email looking for an animal wrangler and a lab. I said I could perhaps get a lab but that they would need a yellow lab as a black or chocolate lab was not likely going to be film friendly especially against a back drop of snow. I sent them a picture of Sport as an aside. They really liked the look of him. I mentioned he was totally inexperienced when it came to film work. But it was decided that as the role was very simple it would be ok (and I gave them a pretty decent discount).

Sport had to play a boy's dog. (never say art does not imitate life)

The role was fairly simple and shooting went pretty smoothly with only one real hitch...

That hitch was ZOMBIE deer!!!
Not only did this thing grin at you in a disturbing way it 'breathed' thanks to the wonders of ingenious people. Sport was fine when its head was in the snow. He was suspicious of it when its head was lifted up and Sport could see its grin in all its creeptastic glory. Sport was beside himself when it started to breathe. Sport wouldn't let James, the actor near ZOMBIE deer. He tried herding him away, when that didn't work Sport tried growling, when James still tried to approach the deer Sport tried air snapping. (this all happened very rapidly).

If there is ever a Zombie apocalypse Sport is the dog you want at your side.

Over all it went well. Sport did better than I had feared. He didn't once stare at the boom mic let alone try to eat it. He didn't like strangers grabbing at his collar so we will work on that. Sport did love all the people on set and was a very very good boy. Hopefully there will be more film work in his future.

Oh and my child decided that he should get something since it was his dog I used. Smart kid. I offered him a day of doing what ever he wanted. He chose a day at the Ontario Science Centre, with his uncle and I. A great time was had by all.

So its been a while...

Things have been happening, but after the loss of Aria I hadn't wanted to blog for a bit. I have some catching up to do.

I pulled Kaiden out of his 2,3? year agility hiatus and tossed him in a trial. I hadn't done ANY agility with him in at least a year but he was a good boy. We handily got a masters gamblers Q with a pile of points. Dekka didn't Q her advanced gambler class but had a ridiculous number of points in the opening (53 as apposed the next highest being 29, if I remember correctly, over all the heights.)

I got to watch Off Season and Sport was in a movie, Darien got his first gig as a professional handler at the LHW specialty. I will blog more on these later. Just wanted to say, nope haven't dropped off the planet.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lost a horse

Sorry I haven't been posting much. Life has been busy, and tragic. Last week Aria, my little orphaned 'baby' horse slipped on a small patch of ice and fell. We found her down on the ice. With help from friends we got her on a horse blanket and dragged her into her stall. (she was very happy to be rescued)

Unfortunately she had broken her pelvis when she fell and had internal injuries. We had to let her go. Aria would have been 2 the end of April.

Not only was she the sweetest and best of companions, she would have made an awesome performing partner. She was so laid back and trusting of humans, as well as being incrediably smart and easy to train. I will miss her very very much.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Not much is happening.

Reading week has flown by so quickly. I think I need a reading month to rest and catch up. At the start of the week I have so many plans and great intentions. But you know what they say about good intentions. Great ones just get you there faster.

Anway whilst procrastinating on some particularly annoying MNR readouts for an organic chem lab report I found a neat new sub forum of reddit. Now those of you who don't know of reddit.. get out there and check it out. Its the best procrastinating tool on the net, and I am a discerning procrastinator. Now this sub forum of note is r/dogs. Yes a whole area of reddit just about dogs. Sigh, I hope to have intelligent dog conversations on the net with out have to quash the desire to beat people with the stupid stick.

Oh and my friend allie (go visit no go now.. finish reading this after you have admired her work.. GO.. ) made this for my new logo for the film stuff I do with the beasties. Need a name though. Greywynd critters is just to generic I think.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Would getting into the olympics be good for agility?

With all the Olympic brouhaha going on it got me thinking of a topic some agility enthusiasts like to talk about. They usually talk about will it get in, should it get in etc. I got to thinking what it would mean for agility, how it could change agility.

I think it would be a very good thing. Right now there are two main "worlds" competitions. One is the FCI which is Kennel Club based and IFCS which is not. In many places in the US and in other countries the only place to play agility is the KC versions. I am lucky to live in Ontario where AAC is the predominant venue, which welcomes all types of dogs.

If agility ever makes it into the olympics I am pretty positive they won't discriminate on breed. (the countries picking their teams might though, but right now in FCI if your country doesn't reg your breed you can't play.. even if the FCI reg your breed.) I think this will be a very healthy thing, it will promote inclusive venues over exclusive ones. It will open up more opportunities for rescued dogs and for people running non KC breeds (like JRTs).

The KC folk will likely rebutt with well then you will get people mixing breeds to try to breed the ultimate agility dog. To that I say so what? People do that now. And who laid down the rule that says that all breeds we have now are the only ones we shall ever have? Take horses for example, most competing at the olympic level are registered, but not all. Some registries except other breeds as long as the offspring meet the breed requirements. All is not kaos. And with dogs these sport bred puppies will likley be in demand so not really a risk at adding to the over population problem.

So as I watch some olympic coverage from my puter, I will wish for the day when I could cheer for team Canada and their dogs to get a medal.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ruined scenes with animals.

Yestereday's entry got me thinking. What other shows/episodes had horrible or great animal actors or roles?

I always remember in the Black Stallion the beach scene. The horse is supposed to be sans tack. But the shadow, that they artisitcally keep flipping too, shows a horse with its mouth wide open. Something that ONLY happens when there is a bit in the mouth and the horse is trying to evade the bit.

I have asked these questions on my favorite forum ( if you don't know) and will hopefully have a more full post later with other opinions.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Disapointment whilst watching Dollhouse

Ok so I love all things Joss Whedon. Firefly is amazing, as is Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog. I am even enjoying Dollhouse. BUT why why why!!! When one has a plot about a woman who loves horses you would think that you would research a little about horses.

I mean we are talking things that any woman who was a horse loving girl would know.

First off the horse that is the 'clients' favorite is not a fancy horse. Just a nice solid plan horse. This is NOT a race horse! As well a person doesn't ride around on their race horse. Race horse's careers are pretty much over by the time they are 4. Their lives are regimented and they live on the track. This horse is muscled as a riding horse NOT a race horse. This horse moves like a cross between a constipated pony and a pile driver.

As well the horse goes like crap when being ridden, it goes totally inverted... a no no, regardless of what style of riding you do. A very expensive riding horse does not look like that horse, neither does an expensive race horse.

The riding level is extremely poor as well. Ok so a fair number of people with more money than ability ride horses. I have seen it often. But usually they don't ride like a sad sack of potatoes (ok so some are a little sack like... but I still argue that someone who's first love was their horses would not be into abusing their horses every ride) I felt so sorry for that poor horse in both scenes. Cantering a long like a good boy and getting the shit kicked out of his kidneys by poor riders repeatedly slamming on his back...

This totally ruined this episode for me. Its not because I am 'in the biz'. This would have offended me when I was 12. Shame on you Mr Whedon

My dog the anti study aid..

I have a mid term coming up in biochem. Its worth 25% of my final grade. And this is how my dog helps me..
She seems to be getting more enjoyment out of that text book than I am.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lab dog

Dekka in the wetlab at Trent U. She says daphnia are sooo boring. There is a study going on with Japanese quail across the hall. Dekka would very much like to 'help' them research flight behaviour in the quail .

Wandering around school with my dog was funny. I have no classes on Thursdays, but work, so its a perfect day to bring the little dog with me. I went to go pick up my travel mug I had forgot in the biology dept office. Dekka is a very small dog, and the hall was pretty crowded with students waiting to get into the teaching labs. There were so many exclamations about 'wow look a dog!' 'oh hey a dog' etc. I would think the surprising thing is that there is a dog trotting down the biology wing, not that she is a dog. Dekka has been a dog for 5 years now so its not a new thing.

I do love that she is very well behaved and can just chill whilst I centrefuge things, wash things, count neonatal daphnia etc. It makes work all the more pleasant when you can take a friend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Off Season

The official site for Off Season is up! I am dying to see how it turned out. And to see the little dog on the big screen.

Reviews have been excellent so here's hoping the little dog's performance is seen by those who hire small dogs:)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Puppehs in the big city!

Wash and Kat went with me to Toronto yesterday. Kat has been out and about (being my personal puppy) more than Wash has. Kat took down town Toronto in stride. All the people, streetcars, dogs noise was all for her personal amusment. Wash was less thrilled. The people were fine cars and street cars were not.

Now for those of you not in the know.. Toronto is a big city. A very big city. The heart of Toronto has 2.5 million people, and the GTA (greater toronto area) has over 5 million. Its the fifth largest municipality in North America. So when you are a little JRT puppy for the country its understandably a little overwhelming.

However treats made it all better. Now there are those who would say that feeding treats to a nervous pup will reward him for being nervous. But that would only be the case if being nervous was a conscious controllable state. Its not, Wash didn't decide "hey lets be scared of those cars" he just was. And when you started paring cars with nummy treats. Cars became a good thing, not being nervous.

Kat on the other hand had the opposite problem. It was all WOW! OMG! lookit that! Squeal like stuck pig. Pull pull, gack, pull. WOAAAAH Bark bark bark! She LOVED Toronto. I happened to have Dekka's head halter in my car that I use for close trial environs. I put in on Kat knowing it wasn't likey to shut her down much (she is pretty irrepressible). After about 2 min of trying to pull it off she pretty much forgot it was there and was back to OMG! But now when she would fixate on something I could turn her head and get her focus back, albeit for a very short time.

I am not a huge fan of head halters but this was a good case of what sort of dog they are good for. Hmmm a future post shall be on head halters I think :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2x2 s in my living room.

Yes there are 2x2s in my tiny living room. 2 2x2s to be exact. I promised an update..

Kat and Sport are learning them 'correctly' and its been going well. I have done more work with Kat than Darien has with Sport, but Sport is so smart its like he studies it in between sessions. Kat is now finding the entrance on both sets rotated slightly greater than 45 degrees. I was throwing a ball to get her to drive away. Note: The speckly one has a natural retrieve! She brought it back to me every time.

I had started shaping Bounce so she is learning them in a modified way. She is happily going through the same set up as Kat but with more dependence on my body language.

I have been tweaking Kaiden and Dekka's weave pole work. Kaiden seem to have learnt back when that you enter the weaves between the handler and the pole. So if I try to off side weave he enters wrong. So I have just been sending him too a single 2x2 and rewarding for finding the right entrance. With Dekka I have been working on her finding the entrance when sent at crazy angles.

Can't wait for the snow to go.. Only how many more months yet?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The little dog turns the big 5 tomorrow

Where did the time go? I mean I have so many stories and memories but 5? Can't be..

But it is.

Its gotta be a good life (this one I share with my dog)

Happy birthday to the best dog on the planet (hey your dog might be the best too.. but this is MY blog) I am grateful to have such a fantastic canine partner to share my life with. I have learnt so much in this half a decade so far. I look forward to how much more I will learn and the fun we will have!

What have we got to complain about? Nothing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Breeding Part TWO

Ok so from those crosses you can tell that chest shape isn't an either or deal but is pretty close. And keel shaped is somewhat dominant. (boo) Coat quality is relatively easy to fix. Angulation seems to be recessive to straightness.

A few notes. I am not one that says dogs HAVE to be conformation champions to be bred.. as long as the reasons aren't basic structural. Over angulation seems to have more of a soundness issue than under angulation in small dogs. (observation in agility points to less angulation in the rear is better for performance and long term health) A keel shaped chest is bad in JRTs, but has no actual detriment to the dog health wise. It just makes it harder for them to fit down a groundhog hole. However both Snip and Dekka have proven that they, and their non round chests, can and will fit down ground hog holes. A soft coat will put you out of the ribbons but isn't a detriment to the dog.

Things that are bad. Crooked legs, malformed spines (though you can win in conf with that it seems in many breeds) Extreme angulation or underangulation (Twist is borderline under.. if it wasn't for the fact that she was sound as could be at 7 as were all her children I might have passed on her) Temperament issues are VERY bad. No matter how sound a dog is physically it needs to be sound temperamentally!! Lack of bone. I am not a fan of spindly dogs that aren't supposed to be spindly. Its too much weight on their articular surfaces.

Basically anythign that will cause the dog to be unsound and/or unsuitable for the work it was bred to do is bad.

On the flip side breeding for a style in the ring that is winning, but precludes the dog doing what it was bred to do is also very bad IMO.. but that is another post.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Breeding Part ONE

I breed JRTs , Dekka is from my first litter 5 years ago next Thursday. I have only had 3 litters in that time. I work with rescue (the JRTRO) fostering and helping out when I can. Breeding and rescuing are very important. We need the good breeders, I hate it when people say breeding should stop till every pet has a home. Whilst its a nice sentiment it would devastate the species as a whole.. but that is a post for another time.

Here is a GOOD blog post on why its important never to buy from a back yard breeder, broker or mill. I was going to make a post like this.. but this one is more articulate than I would likely be.

How to kill a shelter dog

I think breeders need to have a better understanding of genetics than most due. Oh sure most have at least a passing acquaintance with Mendel and punnett squares, but while that will get you out of high school biology successfully its not enough, in my opinion, to breed dogs. Many 'good' breeder I know could be doing it better. They breed nice dogs together in hopes of getting more nice dogs. They do, but they also produce a lot of 'pet' quality puppies. Now there is nothing wrong with 'pet quality' puppies.. but shouldn't your goal to produce great puppies every time? Many of the breeders I am thinking of breed a few litters a year to get the one they want to keep.

My breeding goals, in no particular order:
-I want to produce JRTs that are correct in type (this does not mean they have to win conformation classes.. it does mean they need to fit the standard)
-I want to produce JRTs that are 12 inches or under (12.5 being an 'under' jrt.. but in the agility world its 12 and under for the smallest height catagory)
-I want to produce JRTs with sound structure and great health.
-I want to produce JRTs that will work like they are meant too and excel at 'play hunting' or earth dog trials.
I want to produce JRTs that are drivey but also have fantastic off switches.
I want to produce JRTs that have what it take to be top end agility, rally, obed etc dogs.
I want to produce JRTs that are hard, or tend to be more hard than soft temperament wise.

In short I want to produce JRTs that I would want to own.

Taking stock so far...

I started with Jocko Hunt Twist. She was a proven mom from another breeder who got out of breeding. I had always LOVED this dog's temperament. Happiest dog alive. She loved EVERYONE. You could have beat this dog with a stick and she would still love you and be happy. Nothign got her down and she was as hard as nails. She did ok in conformation back in the day (even with those straight straight legs!!)

So what did I need to improve? Yes the legs, needs more angulation for sure! Shorter back would be good too. She has a fantastic coat! Nice face, great feet. She could also use a rounder chest and less height.

Twist was bred to my boy.. Kaiden HIT CD RNMCL ADC SGDC (and a whole pile of more titles waiting for single legs)

This is NOT a good pic of him. But he finds stacking to be the most horrible thing ever. He has much better angulation (really if he wasn't standing on his back toes you could see the back end angulation) He has a great off switch, great temperament and is very trainable. Bad things are fluffy coat, keel chest, soft temperament and larger than I wanted.
they produced:

GreyRun Trix (not sure what alphabet soup needs to go here these days)

GreyRun Short Cut (Also known as Snip.. and all his accomplishments don't give you letters. The JRTCC doesn't give titles for racing, GTG, etc. He is a very successful dog in both GTG and racing with many championships and reserves)


All three of these pups have great coats, and better angulation than mom. They are a better size, both Dekka and Trix are under 12 and Snip is just 12 1/4. Trix is a bit soft, Dekka is hard. Over all pretty happy with them. Dekka is very close to the ideal JRT for me temperament wise. She is a bit more dog reactive than I would like. But she is incredibly devoted, drivey, and has an amazing off switch. She is also extremely tolerant of kids.

When Dekka was 4 I bred her to Natural Instinct R

R is an astounding dog. He has his bronze medallion and is a multi champion conformation dog (in the JRT world champion means you were a champion.. its not based on points) His movement is amazing, conformation excellent. His coat is not the best but thats about the only 'bad' thing. He is heavily line bred (more about that on another blog) Crossing to Dekka was a complete outcross.

They produced:

GreyRun Katarra (this pic at 6 months)
Kat is better than I could have hoped. Her conformation and movement is lovely. Her chest is a bit keel shaped. She is smart as a whip, hard as nails, and very focused. I am very very excited about this little monster.

GreyRun Wash

Wash is a tiny little boy. He has very nice angulation, great chest. The best head ever. Not a great coat though. He is also a bit soft, but not extremely so.

GreyRun Solo

Solo has a wonky ear due to a crazy infection and needing to have his ear surgically reconstructed. He is a nice boy. But not fantastic. He will not be bred, but we will likely keep him as a pet.

Part two coming later!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quiet on set! (in praise of verbal cues)

I was perusing some other animal wrangler's sites on the interwebs. One successful group was going on and on about how all their animals are trained using visual cues. This is a useful thing, but it got me thinking. If your dog (or what have you) is having to stare at you the whole time in case you cue a behaviour, they can't look natural in their environment.

Its a big pet peeve of mine. MOST dogs in TV and movies don't look like they belong with the people. They rarely interact with their 'owners' and when they do you can tell its done as fast as they can so they can then watch their real owner out of frame.

I don't see the big deal with verbal cues. With todays technology its not a big deal for a voice cue to be edited out providing you aren't giving it over top of the actor's lines. A dog who is waiting for a verbal cue is then free to make eye contact and interact with the actors and in short look FAR more natural and believable. Also verbal cues allow you to be out of your dog's eyeline. This is handy when you are working on a very tight set, when the dog is positioned where its impossible for you to have eye contact and be out of frame, or if your dog needs to be 'sick and dying' and have their eyes closed (see pic)

Dekka has only done 2 movies at this point. BUT it was a major role both times. She was the 'leading lady' in Off Season and one of the central characters in Road Kill. Both times she was in scenes where she couldn't see me. She was excellent and interacting with the actor in both cases making it very believable that she was his dog.

One scene where I don't know how it could be done without verbal was the 'no eat' scene. Dekka had to lie with her head on the actor's thigh whilst he ate dinner. He reaches forward grabs his plate and settles it on his lap right in front of Dekka's nose. He then proceeds to eat for a bit, the offers a piece of pork to Dekka. She can't take it. She cant' even look happy about the prospect of food. (and let me tell you the little dog is vvvverrry food driven) He then proceeds to try to tempt her with the food in different ways. She has to maintain a sick facade and remain uninterested. On the other hand you want her to look at the actor, the food and not off set. A real dog in that situation would still be engaging with her owner, not staring fixedly at the wall. Right before he would offer her the food the first time I simply said "mine" which is the cue that you are not to take the food offered. A simple one word cue that is easily edited out allowed Dekka to interact with the scene and pull off a believable performance.

So horray for verbal cues. (this is not to say that Dekka does not have hand signals too, she does. Simply that if you go with all hand your dog will not look natural in most scenes)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Starting 2x2 weaves

Dekka and Kaiden both learnt weaving by shaping. A couple of years ago at the AAC (agility association of Canada) Nationals I bought Shaping Success by Susan Garrett. Great book, entertaining and very informative I recommend it highly to anyone who likes border collies, agility or wants to understand how to train a very difficult dog to a very high degree in a positive manner. This book has lots of great training help. The 2x2 weave method is well outlined in the book.

A friend of mine left her 2x2 weaves here to visit for the winter so I pulled them into the isleway of my barn along with a jump and started training. I have 3 dogs who need to learn weaves. Kat, 6 month old JRT, Sport, my son's 2 year old very loud BC, and Bounce my 2 year old long haired whippet. My son, Darien, and I took Kat and Sport out to the barn. Dekka escaped the house to join us. (she is tricky like that) Sport picked up the basic idea very quickly. Kat was good but found the barn itself very exciting. Dekka already knows how to weave but I put two poles on a nasty angle after the jump and we worked at finding the entrance.

I will update as things progress.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Being a Pez Dispenser

I train with food, toys, permission to pee on a post.. what ever the dog finds rewarding. I was at a trial a while back with Kat who was then 4 months. She was barking and screaming at all the other Jack Russells. I was clicking and treating for focusing on me. As she has the typical puppy attention span of about 10 seconds. So it was a lot of barking, focusing, getting treat. Someone dismissively said I was being a 'pez dispenser' like it was a disappointing and horrible thing.

Interestingly enough at as the day went on Kat would start to react excitedly then stop and look at me. Which is exactly what I want. Other people were holding their dogs to the ground, yelling at them etc. Now I dont' think those methods work particularly well.. but even if they did why would you choose to wrestle your dog to the cold wet ground or yell repeatedly at them jerking the leash vs feeding them a few treats?