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MN April 2017 :: Dog Adventures

Photo by MN
Tonks! Lichen, giant rocks, and there was birch. It was almost like being in Sweden!

The first time we went to Minnesota was in 2014 – with just Griffin and Blaze.  Now I’ve made the trip many times, with many different dogs. The initial trip was very stressful – I was worried about getting there in time for our appointments and getting back in time for lessons.

But now we’ve gone enough times I’ve lost count and I do most of my packing in the hour before we leave. Now I love traveling with my dogs and I do a better job of giving us a little extra time to enjoy the trip.


My dogs are great at traveling. They sleep for most of the drive and are happy whether we get out at a rest stop, nature area, or parking lot. This makes it easy to take them on trips and we don’t need too much planning. I keep a dog food bin in the car (for treats during regular outings), water, dishes, clean up bags, toys, etc. For interstate travel I am sure to keep rabies tags in the car in case we’re asked per state regulations -but it’s never come up.


We got to see our favorite rest stop in Wisconsin. This one has a “scenic view” trail. But then there’s a branch off that it’s an older trail that goes way up the hill. The mystery trail was closed due to rain. We thought about going around the block (and we may have on past trips…) but I’m too much of a rule follower, so Viktor just sat sadly by the sign.



Photo by MN

Megan and I took the ‘puppies’ hiking on Sunday. They haven’t had a lot of walking together in general because we are either in places where they can be off leash running or we’re in urban areas where I don’t feel safe walking multiple dogs at once (in case off leash dogs approach). The dogs did really well with the hike – they actually looked tired by the end.

One of the most surprising things to me in  Wisconsin and Minnesota is that state parks charge an entry fee. We were able to park just outside of one and venture slightly into one – limited by dog physical abilities with Megan’s physically challenged Gabby.  Griffin loved this walk – he wanted to peek through the railings at the river and was very hopeful about checking it out.  He’s so curious about the places we go – even as an adult dog.


Griffin leaving WI

MN April 2017 : CDSP Trial

On Friday we drove up to Minnesota for an action packed 3 days; participate in a trial, judge a rally obedience trial, go to the vet specialist, and visit with dog friends.

Yesterday we got to do two runs in CDSP obedience first thing in the morning before I judged. 7:30am  – which is 6:30 in “Ohio time.”   Griffin was great (because he’s Griffin) -we’ve never done training so early but I knew it was unlikely to throw him off.

The previous weekend we finished the Open level (with 2 passes) and so we were entered in “Open C for this trial. I wanted to see if he would do well away from home.

He was very good. Some of our details (heeling) have faded away in the last few year but his retrieves were awesome. I think it’s very cute that he goes around to the back of the dumbbell and scoops it up on his way back. I know some of our training friends intentionally teach that but I don’t know that we have.

Now onto Utility – we just need to train scent discrimination!

November MN Trip – Good Vet News!

Tonks. Adorable. Photo by Megan.
Tonks. Adorable. Photo by Megan.

Viktor is now 24 months old.  We have been addressing his ‘valgus deviation of both front limbs’ since he was a young puppy.  Our rehab vet in Minnesota wanted to see him to evaluate his elbows and make a plan for  moving forward.

On Monday we went to an eye specialist to get a re-check for Griffin.  Pigmentary Uveitis an eye disease in golden retrievers that has the best outcome with early intervention,but eventually can end up painful and hard to manage.  He’s at risk – but the exam was all clear! The vet clinic was  interesting – they only do eye health things and had eye art all over as well as eye decorations of various types!

Megan N photo.

A few hours later, we went to our rehab vet.  Griffin got a great recheck – he’s  gained several pounds – likely in a good way. His back leg circumferences have increased which is fascinating to me, if anything he’s doing less running and swimming since our last recheck!



Photo by Megan.  See the deviation!
Photo by Megan. See the deviation!

Viktor is a wiggly young dog. While he is 2 years old, he acts like a  9 month old puppy.  We knew we would need some sort of chemical help to get the proper xrays.  Prior to our trip, we tested a few options and then used our best one while up there.  He needed a little additional medication but it ended up being a perfect combination. He was much  more cooperative and the event was much less stressful for him (the angles needed aren’t always comfortable for dogs).

Good news!  Nothing concerning with his elbows, wrists, or hips. I’m so, so happy and can’t believe it!  This means even fewer restrictions and longer between our re-checks.


We were so lucky to avoid most bad weather despite our trip north in late November.  We saw some hail and rain – but the rain meant no deer in the many hours of driving through the dark.  The dogs travel so well and we enjoy our adventures together. We’re so happy to have all this great vet news in one day!

Judging WCRL – Away From “Home”

I’ve been judging for the World Cynosport Rally program for about two years.  That judging has primarily been at our facility and so that we could keep entry costs as low as possible for our exhibitors. A few times I’ve been asked to judge elsewhere but usually those requests come in for events 12+ months into the future and I’m hesitant to make commitment that far out – I have no idea what my dogs and I will be doing at that time!

Early in the summer I was asked to judge a November trial in NE Ohio. I had my first experiences:

  • Judging away from our home base training facility
  • 2 days of judging in a row
  • Staying in a hotel for judging (and first time for Tonks to do a hotel stay!).
  • First time judging the Veterans class (for dogs 7+ years old)

It was a great experience for us – the dogs did really well in the hotel – they were quiet and mostly tired by that point. The trial went fairly smoothly, exhibitors seemed mostly happy. We had new titles earned from brand new exhibitors and an experienced team getting their highest level championship.

I’m probably doing one out of state judging assignment next year – possibly more. I’ve had a few more requests, but again – fitting things into my lessons, trialing schedule for  my own dogs, and  scheduling around any other events I may want to do.

Viktor likes hotels.
Viktor likes hotels.  I put a sheet from home on the bed right after the picture. 

Another Big Adventure – Sweden 2016

Birch trees. Lichen covered boulders. Yes, we’re back in Sweden!  It wasn’t something I planned really far in advance, and maybe not the most responsible thing to try to quickly find someone to teach all my classes and take care of the 3 dogs staying at home.  But it was a good choice and we’ve had a great time! Griffin and I visited 2 years ago, you can read more about our trip here and about flying here.  This time, I was much less stressed about the travel.It was also a little easier because SAS airlines have different policies than KLM – meaning we didn’t need a vet note within 48 hours of leaving.

DCIM460GOPROWe got lucky with the weather and when we left on the 14th it was a cool day, plus we were leaving Chicago at 10pm. Getting there was an adventure, a friend went with us and to drive my car back to Ohio. The current plan is for Ohio friends to pick us up in Chicago on their way home from a trial in MN. Hopefully it will go as planned!

Griffin loves it here – so many opportunities for off leash walks and a lot of individual time for petting, training, and time together. He’s  not had as much of this since Viktor and Tonks joined us.  Early in our trip we had a scary moment with a moose – probably 25’ away or less. It got startled very close by and momentarily may have turned towards us before running away. One of the dogs definitely ran after it – and Griffin may have too… he came back after a minute or two.  Very scary and far too close.

Outdoor agility trials. No ring fencing. Adventure!
Outdoor agility trials. No ring fencing. Adventure!

It’s so fun to travel with a dog who is happy and comfortable in different environments. I both want to stay here forever and get home to see my dogs, train them with new standards in mind, and enter Griffin in as much agility and obedience as we can.

More Traveling – 2015 Trip to Minnesota

Our best attempt at a group picture from Sunday.  We don’t have enough green yet – the dogs blend in too well! My puppy doesn’t know this kind of stay.


This week we’ve traveled up to Minnesota to take the dogs to the rehab vet again. It’s been an adventure as always – great traveling, I had a second person (and her dog) with us this time, making me a little less stressed about some aspects of the traveling.

State parks have different rules on dogs and for the parks in general. In Wisconsin parks require a fee to visit – and as my dogs are usually not at 100% when I make this trip, I haven’t visited any of those places. I’ve found various other places where we can walk – many towns have small parks or trails that have been great.

Wisconsin "Scenic view" hike - Oct 2014
Wisconsin “Scenic view” hike – Oct 2014

One of the rest stops I have stopped at on the Ohio to Minnesota trip has a ‘scenic view’ trail. This time we took a side trail and had a good time seeing where it would lead us. We didn’t make it all the way to the top due to the senior dogs, but all the dogs enjoyed the trip and it was empty enough that I felt safe to have Viktor off leash.




Griffin and Puppy Wilco, 2014
Puppy Wilco and Griffin, 2014

A year ago I was traveling to Sweden! I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since that trip. I hope it’s something we can do again – with a dog who is completely healthy. The last year of rehab has been much more difficult than the previous rehab times even though we know exactly what has been going on and what we need to do to get back back to 100%.

Griffin goes to Washington DC and New York City

Somehow Griffin and I ended up on an adventure with a friend. We had a departure date and we had an end date – and the parts in the middle just sort of happened.

First we took the dogs to Washington DC. I’d been here before – 12+ years ago on a school trip – it’s unbelievable how much I’ve done since then. Occasionally I’d see some place and vaguely remember being there with the group. And now I was there again, with my dog and an unchoreographed trip.
We stayed in an apartment right in DC and managed to park the van nearby.  Megan had already taught Griffin about apartments-  the hallways, the elevators, the suspense of waiting to open the doors.  He looked like a tourist – he really was looking at everything we walked past (as he was on the lookout for squirrels).  We took a long walk around some of the monuments.

Griffin – Central Park, NYC

On another day we went and walked the dogs in Central Park. We did some google searching and didn’t find very much about how to get into the city or handle parking when we wanted to do visiting with the dogs. We took our chances and got really lucky with the parking – an end spot.  It was a very cold and windy day. Many people were out exercising or dog walking, we saw a lot of golden retrievers!  Our dogs loved that walk – water to see, ducks, pigeons, and squirrels!

On other days we took hikes in Maryland and New Jersey. At the start of the trip I had two things I did not want to do – I wanted to avoid places with bears and with steep rocky cliff. Somehow that ended up being our last hike,  when we got to the park there was a sign posted warning about bears in the area. And just like we read on the tripadvisor.com reviews, there was “scrambling over boulders.” Park employees weren’t able to answer questions, but a helpful hiker told us where to go and we ended up on top of a hill (mountain?) with a great view of New York City. We were so high up and we had the place to ourselves.  It was a great way to end that part of the trip. I wish we had more time to explore other areas of that park.

Bear sighting sign. I’m scared of bears.

And last night, I was on the other side of the city watching Griffin’s breeder teach an agility class with some of his cousins were participating. We talked for a while after class, it was so good to see her and to let her see Griffin. Most of his family lives out in that part of the country, very few of us are in the Midwest, so she has only met him once before as an adult dog and I hadn’t met those cousins.

It’s hard to believe that was only 24 hours ago and now we’re back home in snowy Ohio. We’re done with our big trips for this year and starting to think about what we would like to do in the next year.


Griffin and Epic – NYC skyline above Griffin – it didn’t photograph well, but it was impressive.



July Updates

professional leg holding
Leg holding from the project

We went to Minnesota again to visit the excellent rehab vet and help our friend Megan with a work project.  The travel went well and once we actually left, the traveling was more relaxed than our first trip. We attempted to stop at state parks in Wisconsin but apparently you get charged a fee to enter (unlike MI, OH, PA that we have visited) – and with dogs that were not supposed to walk more than 15 minutes, we just drove around and admired the area from our car. Griffin’s leg is looking better but wasn’t where it should be – probably because the vet performing the therapeutic ultrasound (to break up scar tissue) at home had not shaved him – making those treatments less effective. We shaved his leg, drew a circle on the area, and came home to get a few more treatments, wait a few weeks and we will need to go back up again.

Griffin rolling away. Megan puzzled.
Griffin rolling away. Megan puzzled.

In the weeks in between we did our usual summer activity of judging 4-H events at county fairs and helping last week at the Ohio State Fair’s Jr Dog Show. The kids are adorable. I got to see some that I’ve known for quite a few years – it’s amazing how well I know some of them with just seeing them a few days each year. And I got to see many enthusiastic beginners. During state fair week I told all of my regular students they should come and watch to be inspired with what the 4-H’ers can do.

I’ve done only a little training with my dogs – Griffin is still on limited activity. We did our first session with metal scent articles since re-training. It went so well we did a short break and then mixed up leather and metal. It wasn’t a perfect session – I should have re-set him more than I did, but I’m quite happy with where we are!

And then there were various class things. The training center added a kitten class, we added more basic and intermediate classes to the schedule, I started teaching some puppy classes, the longtime agility students made some great progress and we added in some new assistants.

August – Another trip to MN, hosting (and judging!) a trial, a play/obed seminar, exciting class things and hopefully back to training with my dogs. Griffin will learn to be more fluent with his scent articles. If he’s allowed to get back to activity I have a list of what I most want to train. I also want to better document and share more of our training.

Flying with a Large Dog (Sweden – Part 4)

My first few attempts at this were 5x longer. Even with only one flight experience I learned a lot.  Read more about our adventure here.

In the past I had said I would absolutely never fly a large dog – it was probably too dangerous and stressful. Now I’ve done it, and I would probably do it again – but not with most dogs.When I started considering this trip I would get very stressed driving past the airport on my way home from work – before I even had a ticket! This was something I was taking very seriously.

Training: I’ll admit that I didn’t do any specific training with Griffin. Part of the reason I even considered taking him is because of who he is. I expected him to do well – and he did even better. He’s been crated in very busy show environments. He’s comfortable around noisy equipment. He’s not bothered by moving surfaces. He’s comfortable in his crate.  If he had to be taken out of his crate – he would be safe – and he would go back in for someone else.  One of the scariest  and most comforting moments of the flight was at the first airport when I had him out of the crate while a person checked the crate and looked him over. After that check I asked Griffin to crate, he jumped on the cart and into his crate and waited for me to close the door.  The guy made a comment “That’s unusual – that was easy,” – implying that most dogs are not willing to get back in.

Griffin crateTicket: I’m still not sure of the best way to get a ticket for a pet – no one would help me until I had a ticket for myself, but the ticket I originally bought was for planes that were not equipped to take pets as checked baggage (doors to small or other things).  I ended up calling over 20 times, spending way too much time on hold, getting at least 4 flight changes. I only stopped calling when I got the same information 3 times in a row.  No one I talked to seemed to know what to do  – and I know the airlines transport quite a few pets. 

Paperwork:  By luck, the vet who gave Griffin his last rabies vaccination has done a lot of international travel paperwork. She called the USDA and APHIS and was able get the correct paperwork (the Swedish Department of Agriculture had sent me the wrong forms – twice). She knew how to fill it out in the right colors and the right orders. When we had given that last rabies we had first given Griffin a second microchip – a 15 digit one that would be read by international scanners. I had to take the paperwork to a state USDA vet  for stamps and signatures -luckily we live close to that place. All our paperwork was in order – and when we arrived it was barely looked at. The person who checked it obviously hadn’t seen that form very much, she didn’t immediately know where the microchip number was on the form. To get home, we needed the same papers and another certificate for flight from a vet. This was way more simple.

The crate:  There is a lot of information on airline websites on their travel requirements and on international travel requirements. It was possible Griffin was going to be too big for a 500 size crate – I would have had to go without him or pay 6-8x more and have him transported as ‘cargo.’  The crate had bowls, a mat, the proper metal screws, ventilation on all four sized.  In addition to the airline’s forms, I put special labels on top that I created using a template in Susan Garrett’s ebook on preparing pets to fly.  After the dog-out-of-crate-check I zip tied the door to the frame – the door is a weak point on many crates. I had nail clippers in my bag to remove the zip ties. On the way home I had forgotten that I put a pair of kid scissors in my pocket – they allowed those through and it made freeing Griffin much easier.

Safety: I went through airline records for pet accidents and fatalities. This was scary – but also showed that in most of the circumstances over the last few years there had been obvious problems. Seniors pets, pets with diagnosed health problems, pets in inappropriate carriers.  Griffin had a heart exam a month before we left. We had the proper type of crate. He was in good health.  I did get a second collar tag with a number for where we would be staying.

Misc: I was extra worried about all of this because I haven’t flown very much – and never this far. The last time I flew was with a group and someone else organized everything. I had to check on each flight to be sure my dog was on the plane. Delta wasn’t very good, I had to ask them multiple times and many of the employees were quite grumpy about it. They’re supposed to pull tags off his crate to ‘prove’ he was on the plane, but that never happened. Two parts of our flight were handled by KLM and they were -so- nice. The moment I asked they knew about him. Once they invited me up front to look out of the windshield and see him setting on a cart, waiting to be put on the plane. The pilot made some comments about “We’ll land so carefully he won’t even notice!”

Home:  The final checking out process at the airport was a little difficult, I couldn’t get him out of the crate (Detroit threatens a $200 fine for pets out of the crate) and couldn’t get him on the cart with my luggage.  In Sweden I had him out of his crate, put the crate on the cart, and filled the crate with our luggage – that worked way better.  At the Detroit airport I almost got stopped for checking too many ‘yes’ boxes – yes we’ve been in pasture – yes I handled animals – yes I had an animal with me – yes I had food with me. But it ended up not being a problem. I had been worried about all of that – but also wasn’t going to lie – I had too many classes about agricultural biosecurity at school.

Here’s Griffin about 15 minutes after we got picked up in Michigan. It’s not good training – I was way too tired to be setting criteria – but I was so happy with how happy and comfortable he seemed.