So it’s been a little while since my last post, but there has been a lot going on! My little brother got engaged a few months ago, so I had to make a trip to Florida for my future Sister-in-Law’s wedding shower. It was a great weekend and I cannot wait to share the pictures and details with you in a future post! There has also been a lot going on at the kennel that will be discussed later. But first, as promised, Reba and C.J.’s trip to Washington 🙂
This was a VERY impromptu trip that the girls and I took a few months ago. I had just gotten back from a vacation to Florida on Tuesday and on Wednesday, Stonnie asked me if I wanted to take C.J. to Virginia to be bred. Well obviously I said yes! I would be leaving first thing Thursday morning. The dog that was picked out for C.J. was at SSGT. Tim Roberts house. Tim breeds and trains Malinois for PSA trials, which is a Protection Sport done with dogs. He bred Reba and I was very fortunate to purchase her from him 3 years ago. Tim is a great dog breeder, but he’s always got something going on, so I knew as soon as he was involved, it was not going to be a cut and dry trip to his house to breed C.J. and turn around and come home.
Thursday morning, I showed up at the Kennel to pick C.J. up. Of course Reba was going with me; she is a great traveling companion, so I saw no reason to leave her at home. The only problem I could foresee was the girls fighting over the front seat! I get to the kennel, all ready to load up and start the eight hour drive, and the first curve ball comes. “Tim’s got a dog in Richmond that he wants you to pick-up and bring to him,” Stonnie tells me with a devilish grin. Richmond is no where near the path that I needed to take to get to Virginia. In fact, it was about an hour out of my way. I also knew that I could not put 3 dogs in the cab of the truck, so I needed to secure a crate in the back of the truck. Unfortunately, the giant crate (yes, I was picking up a smaller dog, but why should she be cramped for eight hours!) was in the basement of the house and was too large to take through any doors put together. The dis-assembly started! Crates are not hard to take apart and put together, but it can be a little time consuming, especially when you are adding about an hour to your already long drive! We get the crate out of the house and secure in the truck, almost ready to go, but of course time was made for a quick photo-op.
After the picture was taken to commemorate our adventure, the girls and I were on the road. We started out going in the opposite direction of our destination and picked Ms. Pitty Pat, the pit bull up in Richmond. Why Tim wanted her at this particular time will never be known to me, and I’m still not sure exactly what he’s doing with her! However, I picked her up and took her for delivery. 1 girl, 2 Malinois, and a pit bull….what a motley crew we were! The looks we got at the rest areas were a mixed. Lets just say that everyone steered clear of us, when I took them out to stretch their legs! A few people wanted to know about my “mini German Shepherds”, but for the most part, they gave us a wide berth! The most stares came when I asked Reba to sit and stay in various places while I took her picture. I’m getting use to it now, but it really amazes people that I can put my dogs basically wherever I want them and they stay there, posed, until I’m done with my pictures.
After crossing from Kentucky into West Virginia and then into Virginia, the girls and I made it to our destination. Tim met us at his house, and now the real reason we made this trip could begin. I met Dax, the dog that we were to breed C.J. too, and he was a giant Dutch Shepherd (basically a brindle Malinois). I took some pictures and videos to send to Stonnie, to ensure this was the dog he wanted to breed too and we let the mating commence! Well…. we thought we would let the mating commence, but the dogs had other ideas. This was not an easy match up; I had taken C.J. to the vet and had all of her levels tested to see when the optimal time to breed her would be. It turned out, we were starting the 3 day window that was recommended. This was not the problem, the problem was that she was a little older dog (around 5) and had never been bred. This was a totally new experience for her, and she was not sure that it was for her! On the other end of this, we had Dax, who had the opposite issue. He was a younger dog (a little over 2), who had never been involved in this act either! This was not a very pretty dance. After a few try’s, I decided to take C.J. with me back to the hotel for the night and giver her a break and try again the next afternoon, when Tim got home from work. He works at the Kennel at Ft. Myer, close to Arlington, VA. More on that later 🙂 As I was leaving, Tim mentions to me that a PSA club is having a trial on Saturday, and I should enter Reba to try and get her PDC (the entry level division). I had never competed in a dog sport before, but I had been practicing with her since I got her, and what the heck, it was worth a shot! Like I said, when you get around Tim, nothing goes to plan (which is not always a bad thing)!
This is a video of Dax training.
After a good nights sleep, I drop C.J. off at Tim’s and leave her in a run next to Dax. I thought that maybe leaving them next to each other for the day would help them warm up to the idea of what I needed them too do. Reba and I had a day of site seeing to do! Our first stop was Tim’s base, Ft. Myer, to see the kennels where he worked and tour around. After that, we were on our way to the Nation’s Capitol! I’ll attach the photo albums, so you can see the trip through Reba’s eyes! After making a stop by Arlington Cemetery to pay our respects, we started acting like tourists! I had not thought about the traffic, but just for the record, the traffic in D.C. is horrible, and driving around in your bosses truck with a giant dog crate in the back, so you can barley see out, is not ideal. We ended up parking in a nice little neighborhood, and just walking to everything we wanted to see. Again, Reba got crowds talking everywhere we went. She is an incredibly well behaved dog, and since not many people get to see Malinois in person, she gets a lot of attention. This is always compounded by her impeccable ability to stay anywhere and pose while I take her picture. She really is a great model!
After walking all over and taking more pictures than I’ll ever need, we made the trip back to Tim’s to practice for the trial in the morning and see if C.J. was more interested in becoming a Mom.
Back at Tim’s, C.J. still had not warmed up to Dax, and he still had not figured out what he was suppose to do. If it were up to these two to reproduce in the wild for the sake of the species, we would have another extinction to add to the list! At this point I was getting nervous. Yes, calling your boss to tell them that you cannot get the dog bred is not a normal work conversation, but like you have learned in the previous posts, this job is anything but normal! The whole point of this trip was to breed dogs, and unfortunately not to be a tourist, which Reba and I were really good at! Tim and I did some practice with Reba and I felt pretty good about competing with her the next day. After another failed evening of breeding dogs, I took the girls back to the hotel to get some food delivered and sleep.
The next morning, we awoke early to get to Tim’s house to leave. Another unforeseen curve ball, the trial was not in fact in Virginia, but in Maryland! So that was why Tim wanted us at his house so early; not to practice the obedience routine a few more times, but because we had to go to another state! Well, Reba would get another stamp on her U.S. passport.
We get the the trial location and Tim gets us registered. Lucky for me, the PDC is the first event of the day, so we would not have to wait long to compete, because I was becoming a nervous wreck! Reba, however was just as cool and collected as she usually is. She’s so well socialized that new places and people don’t really bother her too much. The PDC consists of an obedience routine and 3 protection scenarios. The obedience is first. Fortunately, Reba has great obedience, so all I had to do was remember the routine and she would do the rest. The fact that everything was laid out with cones made it easier. I could not have been more proud of her at the end of the routine! She did perfectly, and ended up having the high score for obedience out of the 6 dogs in our division. This gave us the go ahead to compete in the protection round. This round consisted of a car jacking scenario, a surprise attack, and a run away bite.
In the car jacking scenario, Reba and I enter the car and she sits in the passenger seat with the window rolled down. The agitator comes up to the car and acts like a person who wants to break in and steal something from me. The dog should bite the arm that is presented to her, through the window (the agitator is wearing a padded sleeve under a sweatshirt to make the situation as realistic as possible). Reba barked on command very nicely, bit the sleeve and held on when it was presented. She outed (let go of the sleeve) on the first command, and we left the car for the next scenario. This was the part that I had been the most worried about, since it was the one we had the least practice with. Tim had gone over it with us the past two nights, so we were a little more prepared than when we had arrived. Next stop, the surprise attack. This is exactly what the name says it is, Reba and I would be walking along, nonchalantly and the agitator would “surprise” us by sneaking up behind us. Reba should turn, bite the sleeve on his jacket and hold on until I release her. Simple enough, right? This whole deal is nothing more than a game to Reba. She sees a man in a giant suit (you’ll see in the photo galleries) and bites his arm. She’s not out looking for people to bite, and knows that she only gets to do this under certain circumstances. With that being said, this dog has only ever bitten one person, and that is Jon, our normal agitator in Kentucky. I had not thought about this at the time, and thought the rest of this trial would be a breeze. We are walking along and hear the guy come up behind us, she barks and I let go of her leash, so she can bite him. She goes for the bite, gets a hold of him and all of the sudden you can see the terror in her eyes! She looks up at this guy and realizes that he’s not Jon! She had bitten someone else, something she had never done before. She immediately let go and looked at me; I gave her the go ahead to bite him again, but this had failed us for this part of the trial and I decided it was not worth asking her to complete the last scenario (the runaway bite, is also exactly what is says, the guy runs away from the dog, and the dog catches him and bites his arm), just in case she got nervous again. I did not want to ruin her first experience at a trial with too many nervous memories. We politely declined the final scenario with the judge and left the field.
While we did not pass, I was still very happy with Reba and myself. She handled herself perfectly all day and the only issue was a training problem on my part. We obviously needed more work in the protection scenarios, but we would never know that unless we tried! Having the high score in obedience took the sting out of pulling out of the protection scenarios. We would definitely be back!
There were still several other divisions left for the day, and I made it my mission to find a suitable replacement for Dax. I did not drive all the way to Virginia to bring C.J. back without being bred! There were several nice Malinois there, but one really stood out to me. His name was Castor, and he was a huge dog with a nice personality. He had already made it into the higher PSA levels and was competing to complete his PSA 2 title. After watching him work, and subsequently win high overall for the weekend, I decided that this would be an even better mating than what I had originally come for. I told Tim my decision and called Stonnie, because since it was his dog, I did need his permission. While I talked to Stonnie, Tim talked to Castor’s owner, who was a friend of his. By the time I got back to the conversation with Tim, I had guys lining up with their dogs wanting to breed to C.J. (whom they had never even laid eyes on!). Apparently I had opened a can of worms, because these guys were fighting over the right to breed their dogs to mine! All of these guys are friends, but they could not wait to tell me why breeding to their dogs was a better idea than breeding to Castor, the dog who had just earned an incredibly hard title and had outdone every dog that weekend. This was the proverbial pi**ing contest and I was having a ball listening to them! I had made my decision and there was no changing my mind, but it was kind of fun watching them make their cases. I let each one down easily, and proceeded to make my plans for a Castor/C.J. breeding.
The details were set. This was a two day trial and Castor would be receiving his awards the next day, so I would make a return trip to Maryland to meet them at the field and get the deed done. The next morning I loaded the girls and Tim back up in the truck to make another trip back across the state line. After meeting at the trial field, we decided to drive around to find a suitable place for this engagement to happen. Tim wanted to have it take place at the field, but I felt C.J. needed her privacy and would fair better at a more secluded location. We drove until we came upon a Wawa Gas Station. I have no idea the origin of the name of this place, but that is really what it was called…Wawa. It happened to have a large field behind it with a few trees that would make a great place for this breeding to happen. Tim and I got C.J. out of the truck and Castor met us with his owner. Castor is a seasoned dog who had fathered several litters and he was a real gentleman. This would be a nice change for C.J. who needed a little romance, after her 3 days of putting up with Dax’s antics. True to his word, Castor met C.J., they exchanged pleasantries, and he got to work. Right about this time the sky opened up and a torrential downpour started. This was no time to run for cover! The dog was getting bred and I was not going to call my boss and tell him that it did not happen, because I was afraid of getting soaked! Besides, how many of you can say that you’ve gotten your dog bred behind a Wawa gas station in rural Maryland in a downpour! It may not be one to mark off your bucket list, but it is a pretty funny story!
After Castor and C.J. finished their dance, I took Tim home, and the girls back to the hotel. It was late, so I called Stonnie and told him that I would start home in the morning. Using the excuse that I did not want to drive in the rain to cover my real reason for wanting to stay, which was that Reba and I were not done being tourists! Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home was close, and Reba needed a little more education before we got home. She, like me, appreciates a good Antebellum home and working plantation.
Monday morning comes and Reba and I make our way to Monticello. C.J. was resting, preparing to be a new mother, so she did not mind not making the trip to Monticello. It was a great day to visit! The weather was great, not to hot, and a little over cast, making walking the plantation very pleasant. Check out the photo gallery to see Reba’s adventure through Monticello. She impressed everyone there and was invited back anytime buy the curator of the house. There were several groups of school children visiting and they all loved meeting Reba. The teacher’s asked me what they could do to have their children be as well behaved as she was! I had Reba pose on the steps of the house, and I overheard a teacher telling her class, “look at the dog! She’s magic, just sitting there, posing for her pictures!” I won’t lie, it makes my ego feel good to hear things like that, even though Reba is a special dog and should get most of the credit. She has a portfolio that could rival even the most traveled dog, and she’s barely 3 years old!
Unfortunately, we found out a few months later that C.J.’s breeding did not take, which happens sometimes in animal breeding. You never know what will happen when you take a chance. We did everything according to the book, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It was not a wasted trip, though. I gained valuable dog handling and breeding experience, Reba got a complete education about the country that she lives in, and I found out that I can compete with dogs, just like I did with horses for many years, and we have a few little things to tweak to be a great team! It was a great trip!
This past weekend, I went to my future Sister-in-Laws wedding shower. Yes, I managed to bring a dog with me, so next time Dog’s on Planes! Deacon makes friends in Florida!