Monthly Archives: March 2014

How NOT to take Pictures at a Flyball Event

This weekend we went and watched a U-FLI tournament out in Davisburg, MI (one of my old 4-H stomping grounds).

As you probably gathered by now I am a ‘wannabe’ photographer and love taking pictures of dog events.  One day, I’d like to be professional and do professional dog photography but I have a long way to go.

Case in point this weekend.  I grabbed my camera and headed out in hopes of getting some amazing actions shots like this (these are NOT my shots…photo credits in captions):


Needless to say, my pictures did not at all turn out like this.  Instead, I got shots like this:

Blur...yes, that was a dog.

Blur…yes, that was a dog.


More dog blur...

More dog blur…


Strange ghosting.  Clearly took the shot too late, not that it matters as the dog would have been a blur.

Strange ghosting. Clearly took the shot too late, not that it matters as the dog would have been a blur.


Off the box dog blur.

Off the box dog blur.

Now, in my defense this was an indoor event and there was no flash photography allowed.  However, there has to be a way to get better shots than this.  I know because I’ve seen them!

Most embarrassingly, most of my shots came out like this:

Sweet!  A flyball jump.  Too bad I was going for a dog.

Sweet! A flyball jump. Too bad I was going for a dog.

I’m not kidding.  I have literally pic after pic after pic of this same jump with NO dog.  Even using the sport function on my camera was too slow to catch these extremely fast dogs.

I recently ordered a few books on indoor and low light photography as well as dog photography in general.  I’m hoping these will take my photography up to the next level.

I currently don’t have any advice on how to take better indoor, no light / low light photography of action shots at the moment.  However, I do plan on bringing that advice to you once I have it!

The event was great.  I had a blast and was reminded of why I love being involved in dog sports.  The community is fantastic, they are helpful and the events are just fun.  I can sit for hours and just watch.  I am going to be joining the flyball team Canine Express with my golden Blizzard.  I can’t wait and have already started on target training with him.

I did capture a few cute pics!  Look for more on flyball training and photography tips and images from me in future posts!

When's it my turn?

When’s it my turn?

Red Dog's White Zinfandel aka 'Zin'.  She's carrying something important for me!

Red Dog’s White Zinfandel aka ‘Zin’. She’s carrying something important for me!












Filed under Events

Start Them Young!

One thing I love about the UKC is the time and attention they give to juniors who want to participate in the sport of dog showing.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to not only show but mentor two green junior handlers (and by green I mean this was going to be their very first dog show ever).  The show was a UKC show held in Mason, MI at the Ingham County Fairgrounds.  If you have never shown in UKC you’re missing out.  These shows are relaxed, generally friendly and most people are more then eager to help.  It’s not without it’s own ‘dog show politics’ but the laid back atmosphere coupled with the friendliness and ‘realness’ of those that show in UKC make it worth competing in.  If your dog has an AKC registration then you can register for UKC.

Unlike the AKC which requires juniors be at least 9 years of age to start handling, UKC allows children as young as 2 years old to start getting experience in the ring.  Pee Wee, Sub Junior  and Pre Junior (all up to the ages of 7) allow a parent to enter the ring with the child or help from the sidelines.  Once they get into Novice Junior they are judged and earn points. All of the ‘pre classes’ are run through their paces but not ‘judged’ per se.  The idea is to get children experience in the ring, build confidence, build knowledge and most importantly give them a great spark for showing dogs.

My daughter Braewyn, who is 4 years old showed a dog for the first time ever this weekend.  She absolutely loved it and had such a big smile the entire time I know it left a great impression with her.  She was so proud of herself and the work she did.  With each show she got more and more confident in the ring; so much so that by the end show she needed someone in the ring with her but not by her side.

Just look at her beam with pride!

Just look at her beam with pride!


We told her to smile when she got back to the judge after her down and back.  She was genuinely happy!

We told her to smile when she got back to the judge after her down and back. She was genuinely happy!


One of the best things about UKC is that it’s not just cut throat competition with cold judges.  Most judges genuinely care about the juniors who are starting out because they know that they are the future of their sport.  They take the time to make it educational and do what they can to help juniors grow; they don’t just hand out ribbons and let them go without giving them tips on how to best grow and learn.

Showing in UKC doesn’t just require you know how to show the dog off, it also requires you have a wealth of information around the breed you’re showing, dog health and dog anatomy.  They ask about what the dog’s purpose is, what they do and general anatomy questions such as where the dog’s stop, croup or withers are.  The kids in the ring can’t just look good, they have to be smart as well.

Savanna with Oracle.  This was her very first dog show and she did amazing!

Savanna with Oracle. This was her very first dog show and she did amazing!


My two young dog handler prodigies!

My two young dog handler prodigies!


Savanna, the daughter of a good friend of mine showed for the first time this weekend as well.  She did absolutely amazing. In fact, she went from not knowing how to even handle a dog to not only showing in junior showmanship but going on to handle Oracle to his championship by getting him two Best of Breeds.  She learned quickly, was eager and a natural.


If you want to keep the sport of dog showing going you have to have a future generation who is interested.  To do this you have to make it fun.  You have to build confidence.  You have to let them know that their passion means something.  UKC does this and they do it well.  I am so proud of these two young ladies for the work they did this past weekend and I cannot wait to see them grow!


Much deserved rest after some hard showing!

Much deserved rest after some hard showing!




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Anatomy of the Dog – Studying

I’ve recently embarked on learning the anatomy of the dog both inside and out.  The task is pretty daunting but will serve me well in the future.  I have a few study aids that I absolutely love and wanted to share in case anyone else out there is looking for something to help them learn more about their own dog’s anatomy.

You may ask yourself, ‘why should I learn’?  Well… there are several good reasons for every layman to know about dog anatomy:

  1. Helps you be better educated to your dog’s overall health and well being.
  2. Integral to properly grooming a dog; knowing structure makes you a better groomer.
  3. Allows you to identify problems before they become severe.
  4. If you’re a breeder, trainer or judge, this helps you understand, type, movement and the best ways to target training, warm-ups and workouts.

While the task may be intimidating I have found that the best way to study is through a variety of different study aids.  

  1. Flash cards.  You can make them yourself or purchase a great set on Amazon.  

    Available on Amazon


    Study side example.


    Worksheet / Study test side example

    I have found this set to be a really good bargain at around $11 and if you scan the cards in you’ll be able to have a never ending set of worksheets.  Each card has information on one side and a blank worksheet side for you to use.  You can find the set: HERE.

  2. Dog Anatomy Model.  Great for having a visual representation that you can touch, turn over, stare at, and take apart (while your actual dog can be useful for this you might not get them to cooperate for as long as you’d like or need).  Tedco makes both a great anatomy model as well as a more detailed skeleton one.  I own the anatomy one and find it to be helpful for learning both external and internal parts of the dog.  Again, you can purchase these on Amazon.  The more detailed anatomy model will set you back $26 and the skeleton model will cost around $17.  The one thing I will say is that these are not toys and should be handled carefully so as to not break any of the parts you might take in and out while studying.

  3. Image

    Lastly, coloring atlas are another great tool.  I have been on the prowl for an in-expensive one but have yet to snag one.  These tend to be used in vet school so come with a hefty ‘college textbook price’.  I’ve found a few sheets to start using and have found them to be instrumental in remembering the various structures and placement.  There is no substitute for making that mental connection by doing.  



As you can see, there are tons of great tools out there!  No better way than to dive right in.  There’s also a good deal of fantastic books, richly detailed and easy to read.  I currently have several in my library and will update once I have had a chance to read through them better to give a thorough review.

Happy Studying!


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126lb Border Collie?!

Just as it’s important to stay away from bad pet food, you really shouldn’t feed human food to your dog either!  Below is an image of a dog from the UK who’s owner felt she was ‘pampering’ her dog by feeding her all kinds of rich ‘people’ meals.  She could only walk for 3 minutes at a time before becoming exhausted.  Just look at this dog:



At her highest weight she weighed 126lbs… oh and in case you can’t tell, that’s a Border Collie.

Luckily she’s now down to 63lbs but still has a ton of weight to lose.  

Just remember, we love our furry family members but need to keep them slim and trim for their health!

Full article can be accessed here:  World’s fattest dog slims to half her weight


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To Starch or Not To Starch: There is No Question

A recent article was published looking at whether or not dogs should have and could thrive on a starch rich diet.  The research was a genetic comparison between 12 wolves and 40 dogs from 14 different breeds.  They looked at DNA for genetic markers and enzymes that break down starchy foods.  Unsurprisingly they found genetic differences between the two that shows adaptations between the two groups.

Ultimately the research shows that domesticated dogs can better break down grains in their diet.  While some individuals say this shows that dogs should eat grains (starch), this is not at all what the research shows.  This does not and should not be used as conclusive proof that dogs thrive on starch or even need starch in their diet.  What this shows rather is that dogs were fed starch and adapted to better digest it.  Evolution doesn’t march forward on a progressive path.  Evolution simply means we change and adapt to our environments.  It is neither progressive nor good or bad; it just is. Rather, what this shows is that adapting to a human diet, rich in starchy foods, was an important step in domestication.   These findings shouldn’t be used to steer people away from a meat heavy or even raw diet.

While the article has a misleading title, it’s well worth the read.  You can read it in it’s entirety here:  Research Proves It: Dogs Thrive On  A Starch-Rich Diet.  If you are really into genetics or scientific articles you can read the research in its entirety here:  Supplemental Discussion accompanying Axelsson et al. “The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich “diet”.

I always look at the comments and noticed someone asking about what kibble was best to feed their dog.  The vet who penned the article tells her:

I hate to tell you but the best kibble is no kibble. Making kibble required starch plus processing which destroys nutrients and creates carcinogens. The ideal diet is a balanced raw/ancestral diet.

He’s not wrong and while I can appreciate the desire to educate about raw feeding and the positives of feeding this type of diet I think we need to be sensitive to the fact that some people are not going to feed a raw diet for a variety of reasons.  Instead of shutting down the commentor about kibble, they should have used the opportunity to further educate on which kibbles will be best to feed under the caveat; raw is better.  I firmly believe that at the very least we need to get dog owners off the grocery store, big box kibble and feeding something that provides ingredients and a nutritional composition closer to raw.

Last month I switched Blizzard completely over to Acana Pacifica.  I had promised a review and in light of the information above am extremely happy to discuss this food as a fantastic example of a great kibble.  Since putting Blizzard on this food his coat is shiner, softer and he seems to have greater energy.  He absolutely loves the food and goes nuts when it’s feeding time (take this with a grain of salt as he’s a Golden Retriever and typically goes nuts about food).  He also licks his bowl clean after each feeding which is not something he’d consistently do with his previous food.

While this food does contain some starch it doesn’t contain any grains and is 60% fish.  The starch comes from things like red lentils and sweet potatoes; there is absolutely no corn in this product.

Acana Pacifica Ingredients

Click to take a read through the ingredients

None of their products have grain and I discussed in a previous post this Canadian company has absolutely impeccable quality control.

Now, fish might not be a food for everyone’s dog.  It does smell strongly of fish and if your dog is not a fish lover you’ll want to look into another variety.  They have beef, duck, lamb, turkey or chicken based foods as well.  While this food is pricier (75 dollars for a 28lb bag), you’re going to stretch your dollar further as you’ll likely feed less and not need any additional supplements.

There are other great foods out there as well.  Off the top of my head, any of the following would also be fantastic options:

–          Fromm

–          Petcurean

–          Holistic Blend

–          Back to Basics

–          Nature’s Logic

–          Orijen

–          Zignature

So, stop reading and go look at the ingredients in your dog’s food.  Meat needs to be the main ingredient and you want to see no grains in the first 5 ingredients (or better yet, no grains at all).  Meat by-product doesn’t count!  If you see corn, wheat, by-product, or preservatives in the first few lines start looking for a new food.  Watch out for chemicals as well!  Many big box manufacturers put a chemical called, ‘propylene glycol’ in the food.  It is supposed to be a ‘food moisturizer’ but the FDA has banned it in all cat foods (but apparently is somehow okay for dogs).  However, if this chemical sounds familiar, it most likely is because ‘propylene glycol’ is the main ingredient in antifreeze.  Dyes, added water, meat or bone meal, sugar or added sodium are also red flags and tell you it’s time to look for a new food!

I’d love to hear what others are feeding.  How did you come to settle on this food and what do you most like about it?

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