2011 Rally Brags!

Ella Mae earned her RLP when she was 11 months old, her RL1 at 13 months old and her RL2 at 17 months.

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


Ella Mae Sits In Things

A new “fun” thing to.

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


Ella is 7 months old!

As I was looking today at my calendar to determine how old Ella is now, and realizing she is 7 MONTHS OLD, I realized it had been a long time since I blogged about her progress.

Adolescence has set in, though, all in all, I consider it a pretty mild adolescent phase. (Knock on wood – I probably just jinxed myself.) While there are times that she will give me a very blank look of noncomprehension, overall she continues to be very food motivated and very eager to learn. We have built an excellent bond between the two of us and I am quite proud of her accomplishments.

Things that are new and different:

I now allow Ella to sleep in my bed sometimes. She’s far past the time when she might have an accident overnight and she loves to sleep in my bed. She used to run directly for her crate and settle in. Now, she runs to my side of the bed – hoping that maybe it might be a night when she is allowed to sleep with us. She gets hot in our bed and is not an under the covers dog. She prefers to sleep in between Don & myself on top of the covers, somehow always managing to steal the covers! 🙂

She is still continuing to attend playgroups 2-3 times a week. As well, she usually has a date once a week with her “boyfriend” Rex, my trainer’s rat terrier. They have a lot of fun together and she enjoys playing with him. We also get together when we can with her BFF, Abby the Corgi. I do believe this pup has far more of a social life than I do! I haven’t missed a beat since Ella was 8 weeks old regarding playgroups and training. I am enjoying reveling in her success. She’s a well-rounded, happy puppy who likes everyone, can go anywhere, do anything and adjusts to new situations before you can blink – SWEET SUCCESS!!

Well, except for the holding onto floppy faces…

Ella does like to tooth gnash with other dogs/puppies. She’s very much a terrier in that regard and sometimes likes to hold on to ears or cheeks of other dogs. We are correcting her consistently for this, saying “out!”, as she knows that means to drop whatever is in her mouth. Sometimes this is more effective than other times. We also time her out for this behavior, which seems to help as well. She never hurts another dog or puppy. However, it certainly isn’t a desirable behavior and one we are trying to work on extinguishing. I guess if that’s my worst problem with her, then we aren’t doing too bad at all!

Things we have learned:

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Sit-Stay
  • Down-Stay
  • Stand
  • Settle
  • Roll Over
  • Paw & Other Paw
  • Touch
  • Hit it (the Staples Easy Button)
  • Back (back up)
  • Quick Drop/Distance Drop (stationary)
  • The basics of Nose Work
  • Recall
  • Recall over a jump
  • Recalls with fake out words
  • Recalls over a jump with fake out words
  • Formal Recall with finish
  • Dead Dog (still working on this)
  • Crawl (still working on this)
  • Hoop
  • Jump (over a jump)
  • Paws up on a skateboard
  • Take a bow (still working on this)
  • Dance
  • Spin
  • Close (heel)
  • Out (to drop something from her mouth)
  • Take it (to take something with her mouth)
  • Sitting politely for greeting/petting
  • Sudden stop
  • Come front (to sit directly in front of me)
  • Finish (move into heel position on my left side)
  • Find me!
  • Wait (wait for a treat in my hand or on the floor & walking through doorways)
  • Leave it!
  • Place (to get up on a raised dog bed)
  • Place-Stay (to stay on the raised dog bed)
  • Watch me!
  • Tunnel (still working on)
  • Pushing a skateboard (still working on)

At the end of January, we are going to a Rally Seminar, which will introduce us both to Rally, AKC and APDT and we will begin working on those specific exercises.

We are also hoping to find a local agility class that we can try out.

We will continue Nose Work games and hopefully will be able to start scenting with birch next.

All in all, we have a LOT we have learned and as I look at this list, I feel very proud of Miss Ella Mae Lovely. She’s a fantastic little girl and we have much fun together!

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Posted by on December 13, 2010 in Uncategorized


The Cesar Millan Wrecking Ball

I hear comments all the time from families who I meet at play groups or training classes or simply out and about socializing and working with my terriers.

“That’s an aggressive puppy!”

“That one is trying to dominate!”

There are few things in the world that get my panties in pucker quite like these comments.

When I am at a puppy play group, I watch the puppies – really watch them. I don’t judge a puppy based on just one behavior – but, inevitably, someone who is not part of the play group that day will walk up to the side of the x-pened area and make comments like those above. Clearly, these ignorant members of society are mimicking and pulling their wording from Cesar Millan, The Wrecking Ball. **Coincidentally, if Melinda and I hear the same comment, we will exchange an eye roll. That’s why I love Melinda – she just gets it!!

Anyway, I sometimes will try to refute the said ignorant person’s judgement on the puppy, pointing out that the puppy is not trying to dominant – it’s simply wrestling and having fun with other puppies. Sometimes, I am not in the mood and leave it be. After all, isn’t it their choice to believe a cheeky uneducated Mexican-American with a cute smile? He is on Nat Geo after all – he must be important, he must be educated, he MUST know what he’s talking about…right?


Unfortunately, charming as he can be, the man doesn’t know shit about dog training. Or, I should re-phrase that: He doesn’t know shit about dog training that will foster a bond built on trust and respect with your dog.

He CAN show you how to do a perfectly good, albeit archaic and cruel, alpha roll. He CAN show you how to intimidate and dominate your dog, under the guise of forcing the dog into a “calm, submissive state.” He can show you the correct way to poke, prod and bully your dog.

He’s pretty darn good at FLOODING, a technique in which the dog is forced to face it’s fear, presumably dealing with it and realizing that nothing truly bad or serious will happen.

Let’s humanize that for a moment.

One of my biggest fears is all things creepy crawly. That includes bugs, spiders, snakes – anything little and creepy. Spiders rank #1 on my list of things to be absolutely terrified of. My way of dealing with this arachnophobia is to yell – quickly & loudly – for Don or one of the boys, who will promptly kill and remove it from my home, where I can then slowly start to come back to myself and realize, yet again, my life was saved thanks to the fearlessness of the men in my life. If, by chance, Don and/or the boys are not home at the time of said 8-legged intrusion, I find it perfectly *normal and acceptable* to scream like a banshee for Jenny, who will come running and kill said spider. God love Jenny – my fearless furry #1 bug killing terrier – she’s always got my back in these terrifying situations. She even one-up’s the men – she kills it and eats it.

Now, imagine a psychologist saying to me, “You have an abnormal irrational fear of something that is not truly going to hurt you and, in order to resolve this fear, we are going to fill a tank with spiders and drop you into it, AND you must remain there until you overcome this fear.”


I can tell you right now:

a) I would leave that psychologist’s office in a hurry after calling him every not-so-nice name in the book and possibly giving him a good bitch slap.

b) This technique would not work with me. I would freak, scream, cry, possibly have a heart attack or, at the very least, a severe mental breakdown.

So, why do we think it is okay to do this to our furry friends?

True, they aren’t going to sit down with us and explain how that situation made them feel, but anyone with even a remote knowledge of canine body postures is going to realize that the dog is not relaxing during flooding. They are dealing, because someone is making them and dogs are so darn eager to please us humans that they will put up with a lot of crap to make us happy. Spatulated tongue, panting, shaking, dilated eyes, drooling, pinned-back ears, tucked tail and cowering just might be your first indication that your dog is uncomfortable with the flooding technique, eh?


PART 1 —

PART 2 —

Yes, in theory this was as a “success story” in that the Dane appeared to overcome it’s fear of the floor. However, did you notice the stress to the Dane during the process? Might there not have been an easier, kinder way to help this poor guy overcome his fear of shiny floors?


Take a look at this video, in which Cesar Millan is asphyxiating a dog who is dog-dog aggressive…

Looks like a fantastic technique for dealing with a dog who is dog-dog aggressive, right? NOT!

In that video, the dog was dog-dog aggressive and Cesar insisted it was in a “dominant” state of mind. He chose a method in which he himself tried to gain dominance over the dog, presumably to re-establish his position as “pack leader.” In the process, he was bitten, several times. By using a slip, he restricted the dog’s airway until, from sheer lack of oxygen, the dog laid down, gasping for air. Welcome to your “calm submissive state”!!

Now, let’s watch a video where the trainer uses a positive reinforcement approach. This is a dog who is dog-dog aggressive as well (reactive), just like the dog in Cesar Millan’s video. Using a technique called Counter Commanding, or differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior, he is able to set the dog on the path to learning new behaviors around other dogs.

Ahhh…the sweet sound of a clicker and the aroma of yummy treats. Pleasant, wasn’t it? So much nicer, more productive and enjoyable for both human and canine alike.

Final thoughts:

1) Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Much editing is involved and you don’t see a lot besides the outcome. Many bites happen behind the scenes! There is a reason why Nat Geo puts a disclaimer (“Do not attempt these techniques yourself without consulting a professional.”) at the beginning of each show.

2) Trust those who have devoted their lives to scientifically studying canine behavior. Jean Donaldson, Pat Miller, Karen Pyror, Ian Dunbar – just to name a few.

3) Don’t look at me in play group and proclaim that cute little boxer puppy aggressive. I’m tired of you and your comments – and I just bought a new ring for my bitch slapping hand.

Helpful links:











Posted by on October 10, 2010 in Uncategorized


NO! Not in Maine! Really?!

A couple of weeks ago, Don & I took Ella for the day and drove down to York to watch some Rally Run-Thru’s at It’s a Dog’s World. It was fun!

On the way home, we decided to take Route 1 home and just take our time. All of the sudden, I noticed this sign:


I could not believe what I was seeing! Puppies for sale! Prominently advertised in puke green neon.

Not in Maine! Aren’t we better than this? Isn’t our motto: Maine – The Way Life Should Be ??

Thoroughly disgusted, I had to go back and take a look. Don insisted he was not going in the store with me, because he was sure I would cause a stink. Little did he know that what I witnessed made me so sick to my stomach that I was speechless. (I know others have probably seen stores like this, but this was my first experience.)

It was a rinky dink store with a handful of fairly decent dog-related items, like Lupine leashes and Kong toys. Two very young sales people who clearly walked on the goth side of spectrum, sporting a variety of interesting accessories, tended the store.

However, there were also puppies. Puppies in something akin to a fish tank. Puppies in those raised display cases I have seen ferrets in at other pet stores. The pups were walking on pellets. There were no water or food dishes seen in their tanks and there was one toy – ONE – in one of the tanks. Nothing very interesting or engaging to stimulate the puppies brains, give them something to chew or keep them occupied.

This is probably a good time to mention that I am a breeder of English Jack Russell Terriers. Before you judge, know that we bust our asses with our puppies, enriching their environment, socializing them, exposing them to everything and anything that we can to prepare them for their lives with their new families. A puppy brain is a terrible thing to waste. Visit our website for more information about our strict standards for breeding and rearing:

I was very much appalled by the conditions the puppies were kept in. The min-pin featured above was so hyper, literally jumping and frolicking in his tiny little space – seemingly dying to get out and get some fresh air and burn off some energy. All of the pups had goopy eye boogers/stains. All clearly were going crazy from boredom.

But what really burned my ass was the PRICE of the puppies being sold. They ranged anywhere from $1500 for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to $1999 for the French bulldog.


No reputable breeder would sell their puppies to a pet store – we all know that. So, it stands to reason that these puppies came from a PUPPY MILL. $1500 to $1999 for a PUPPY MILL PUPPY, of questionable lineage, inbred, with mothers still wallowing in their own feces while they churn out litter after litter after litter.

A reputable breeder will spend damn near every waking moment with the expectant mom until she gives birth, will cater to her every whim and spend hours and hours and hours caring for her and her pups. The learning process will be well underway before the pups eyes and ear open – and once they do, it will be a controlled mad dash to get in as many experiences as they can before the pups go to their new homes. They will feed the mother a wholesome, holistic diet. They will make sure the pups and mother have the best veterinary care. They will DNA and health test the parents, know their personalities inside and out and will do everything in their power to produce the absolute best puppies they can. THEY DESERVE $1500+ for the puppies they are raising.

Now, I ask you:



Someone is obviously buying them, or they wouldn’t continue to be there. I am thoroughly disgusted with the fact that this store continues to be in business, that they sell puppies to anyone with cash or a credit card and keep the puppies in such horrid conditions.

Shame on Maine for not having shut this “pet store” down. Shame on the families who buy a puppy this way because it is faster and easier than dealing with a reputable breeder. Shame on those puppy mills who supply pet stores like these. Shame. Shame. Shame on you all.

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Posted by on October 3, 2010 in Uncategorized


Gearing up for Puppy II

WOW! It’s been a while since I blogged…yikes!

So much has happened. Ella graduated Puppy I and Tara graduated her Canine Potpourri class. Next, Ella will be moving on to Puppy II and Tara will be going back to Basic Obedience. Tara needs some remedial work on her sits, downs, stays, etc. She gets SUPER excited when training and I want to work on getting her a bit more calm in public. However, we did learn that she absolutely LOVES nose work and also does very well with agility/obstacles. Once we get the basics down pat again with Tara, we will be looking to start her in a nose work specific class in November. FUN!

Ella graduating from Puppy I.


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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in Uncategorized


Graduation #1!

Ella graduated from Puppy Imprinting Class last Sunday. No, there were no cap & gown pictures. Sorry. Maybe next week!

One of our things to do at graduation was demonstrate our newfound skills. Out in the store. With people watching and everything.

Not being one to perform well under the microscope, I was a bit nervous, but Ella just always surprises me and does so well.

Of course, it was another retarded worry to have because, of course, Ella performed her sits, sit-stays, downs and down-stays perfectly. During her sit-stay, Kait saw I was moving about 6 feet from Ella and said, very quietly, “Can you drop the leash and move away from her?” Well, I hadn’t ever tried that, so I did, very casually drop the leash while reinforcing with “good girl” for maintaining the sit and moving further away. So far, so good.

Then, Kait had to up the ante again. “Can you walk behind there? Out of sight?” What the heck – might as well try, right?

I back away, turn and duck behind a column in the store and move around it, coming around into Ella’s line of sight again.

There she was – still sitting.

JACKPOT!!! Treats abound! Praise resonates from everyone!

I’m not sure that Ella understood what happened that first time, because when I tried the same thing again – she knew it was coming and moved towards me, breaking her sit-stay. Rut-row.

Because we always try to end each session with a success, I freed her up, played with her, did a few basic sit-stays and then attempted it again.

Success was ours on the third attempt and we ended on a high note, deciding not to press our luck again.

It’s a work in progress.

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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Uncategorized