Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

Dogs Love to Roam in Rome…

Monday, August 5th, 2013

In Senna, Raja and Sherpa take a stroll.

In case you were thinking that a rambunctious pair roaming the streets of Italian cities would be frowned upon, rethink. Italy is a very old country, and a city oriented country. Rather than being largely rural, Italy is largely urban. What this means is that most Italian dogs are city dwellers.

So, paws on the ground, what is expected of a four footed tourist roaming the famous sites of Italy? Raja and Sherpa will fill you in:

Sherpa at the Vatican!

1. Behavior: The Italians don’t expect their dogs to behave any better or worse than they do. So, decorous bruskness is requested when walking the streets. But (and Raja did find this rather lenient) if you need to bark at a pigeon or even another dog, go ahead because people like a little feistiness in a dog about town. Just no fighting or biting… well, as Sherpa adds, you may lunge at pigeons because nobody likes them anyway.

2. Restaurants: Dogs may enter most restaurants, even very nice ones. Nobody will bat an eye. Waiters compassionately will bring water in an enormous bowl, big enough to bathe the dog. Try not to put your foot in it under the table. Raja reminds you that there may be several dogs in a small restaurant. There is no need to be loud. Just curl up on your family’s backpack and relax.

3. Hotels: Most hotels will accept dogs. Why not? Where would your dog stay if not in the hotel? And yes, they may walk through the lobby. They may bark in the lobby. They’re dogs, right?

Raja in Rome on the Bridge of Angels

4. Peeing: The Italians are not shocked by a dog being normal. Unprotected monuments like the outer wall of the Pantheon are fair game. Why not? The dogs of Rome used the wall and the temple’s still standing.

5. Wineries: Yes, dogs may accompany you on wine tours. Italian wineries are not a drop-in businesses. You will have to book your wine tour and it will be both a little more expensive, and a great deal nicer than American wine tours and tastings. Ask politely if you may bring your dogs and the winery representative will tell you elegantly that it’s OK. Do carry small dogs in your tour of the caves. Nothing can prepare the West Coast wine affectionado dog for the ancient, mouldy-musky, possible bat-lurkingness of the cellars of Italy. (Read Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado” to prepare your expectations.)

Raja and Sherpa want to send a bark out to their two favorite wineries in Tuscany:
Vinamaggio, in Greve, Tuscany is just about the most gracious villa and winery imaginabale. (Do not neglect to book a tour of the grounds so you can hear the secret story of Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa portrait. Yes, your doggy may tour the grounds and hear the story too.)
Avionesi, an elegant wine estate near Montalcino. Both ancient and innovative, Avionesi practices innovative agriculture and welcomes dog guests without fuss.

Raja checks out the enormous casks at Vignamaggio.

So if you take your dog to Italy, in summation, your dog only needs to be a normal dog, not a supernatural dog in the behavior category. Raja and Sherpa got high marks at Vignamaggio, strangely both because Raja was quiet and attentive throughout and also because Sherpa barked at the Villa’s cat- twice.

Beware a Long Leash When Walking Your Dog: A Sad, True Story

Friday, March 8th, 2013

A glow in the dark leash helps at twilight.

Up front we’re letting you know that this isn’t one of our cute posts; it’s an important post about dog safety. If you have an extendable and retractable leash, or if you use a long leash, please read.

I sometimes use a retractable leash for Raja and shorten it up when walking in high traffic areas. I prefer not to use any leash when hiking because Raja’s not a runner and I feel that there has got to be a place where dogs can trot free. He loves to lead the pack and I love to watch him do it. We had to change our behavior after learning more about the danger to curious dogs from East Coast copperheads and timber rattlesnakes and the always hungry cougar population of the West Coast hills. (The retractable leash is not for everybody and it does have its detractors.) The picture above is Raja’s newest leash his friend Buttercup gave him. It’s relatively long, but can be shortened up, and has flashing or steady green battery lights to make walking at dusk safer. If the passing cars can’t see us, at least they can see that glowing green line moving along.

But this post isn’t about hiking in the wild hilly badlands or streets at twilight…

A few days ago one of our friends was walking her three dogs through a parking lot. To tell the story short, a car backed over one of her pups, killing him and my friend had her arm and leg fractured as she dove to save him.

Our friend’s dogs were short, but all dogs are shorter than the height of a car’s trunk. When the lead dog pulled ahead behind the parked car, the driver, if he looked, didn’t see anybody directly behind, started the engine and, in the same motion, reversed smoothly.

Raja and I don’t want to discuss this one too much. We’re not talking about blame. We feel squeemish and heart broken, but we want to emphasize- even in a seemingly quiet parking lot, walking on a seemingly quiet sidewalk- please be aware that a nimbly handled car can back out or emerge quickly from a parking spot or a driveway. Now, a well loved reading therapy dog will be missed at a Miami public library after-school program. That little Shih Tzu led a valuable life. She did a lot of good in her world. She lived larger than her 10 inches high. She listened while stammering kids read to her. They learned and grew because of the furry therapist with all the patience in the world. My friend also won’t be getting out to volunteer again for a long time.

Please shorten up your leashes around cars, driveways and when traversing alleys and streets. It’s hard to pick up multiple dogs, but picking up a small dog in random traffic areas isn’t a bad idea either, if you are so moved.

Happy New Year to All Our Readers!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Love my Travel Dog Theme Quilt!

Raja and I want to thank all our readers, especially our most loyal commenters:  Patty, Buttercup, Sheryll, Carolyn, Cy, CT, Tasha, Rhea, Skamp, Colette and Demon Flash Bandit the Sled Dog. We want to send a bark out to our friends at Dogster, Dog Fancy, Fido Friendly and Three Rivers Holistic Veterinary Service who help us get our message out on the web. Originally, when we began our blog, we wanted to focus only on pet travel, but we found ourselves also drawn toward other issues such as pet health, athletics, advocacy, book reviews, recipes and just plain fun.  We redefined travel for our blog to mean anything from a walk around the block to the adventures of a dog making new roads to places where travel dogs have never been able to go before- Raja’s trips to Machu Picchu, the Vatican Museum and Valle Nevado in Chile being three of them.

To that end, we want to thank some of our favorite Travel Friends: Mr. Mohammed, our driver in Cassablanca, Morocco who was super nice to Raja; the staff of the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, Italy and the Tambo del Arriero in Cusco, Peru and the Porto del Mare in Tropea, Italy and Gringo Bill’s in Aquas Caliente, Peru- all of whom rolled out the red carpet and didn’t mind muddy paws; and the owners of the Bakeri Fuchs Café in Zematt who treated Raja like a regular.  Raja sends happy barks to that cute Shih Tzu girl Kiwicha that he met in Cusco and the baby camel he played with in Morocco.

Our plans for 2013 are to go on doing exactly the same: supporting travel dog companionship near and far.  Pushing boundaries and expectations. And traveling.

To that end, in our next post, we are going to bark at the airlines about a simple remodeling project at all airports that could make pet travel ever so much better.

Wishing peace and happiness to all in 2013.

But for right now, on Christmas Day 2012, Raja wishes you a wonderful, adventuresome, healthy and peaceful 2013.  He got two awesome gifts this year- his whole family in one house for a few days and this beautiful Travel Dog Theme Quilt by his wonderful friend Carolyn of Carolyn’s Originals , Raja’s favorite outfitter. He loves it so much that it’s highly likely we will be traveling a little less light in future.

Winter Disaster Prep for Pets

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Staying warm on a really chilly day inside.

Hurricane Sandy wasn’t the best at Raja’s house, but it was disastrous in other parts of New Jersey and New York.  Since climate change is a reality and since we can anticipate future challenges, Raja and I want to bark about home prep for pets in power outage cold weather conditions.
So… Let’s all do a little cold prep for our pets:
. Sweaters: Every small, thin or older dog needs a couple of fluffy, lofty sweaters.  As we know for ourselves, fluffy sweaters trap air and are warmer.  Put the sweater on in the house and keep it on until the pet doesn’t need it.  (You might be thinking, “But he has fur to keep him warm.”  Sure he does, but you have hair and yet wear a hat when it’s cold, right?  And, I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you have no problem with canine winter apparel.)
. Fur Care: Do not leave a single sweater on for days at a time.  Sweater fiber mats fur, reducing loft and reducing the natural warming properties of fur when neglected.  Daily remove the sweater, comb and brush your pet’s fur gently and put on a different sweater.  Keep alternating so one sweater doesn’t wear fur too much in the same places.
. Socks:  No, we’re not being funny.  Dogs lose heat through their paws on freezing floors. Little dog socks with slip free patches help, if your pet is compliant.
. Hats:  Without a hat, Raja’s nose was icy cold.  With a hat, his nose was appropriately cool. That’s all.
. Calories:  A recent NYT article discussed the extra five pounds apartment grounded New Yorkers gained in the past two weeks.   Dog physiology is different.  When dogs worry, they do not binge eat.  They mope.  If you have a dog who is inclined to be thin, increase calories.  Bulk supports warmth and chilling promotes weight loss.
. Exercise: Keep your dog’s spirits up and keep the blood pumping by playing in the house.  Well, do what you can.  When we exercise we feel happy and we warm up.  You will too.
. Feet: While you can’t wash your dog when you have no hot water or power for a blow dryer, you can keep his feet clean.  Wet feet make a cold dog colder; matted fur makes for less effective drying; dirt is unhealthy.  Using a damp cloth and a dry towel, you can  maintain those fluffy paws.
How did Raja do during the days of cold and no power?
Having fun in my fierce Yeti costume in the sunny snow!

At Dog School, Graduates are Champions

Friday, October 5th, 2012

After a month of back to school for the children, it is possible your family dog will be a little lonely.  Non-family dogs have been watching the children come and go through the window.   Where are they going?  What are they doing?  Can’t I go somewhere important too?

Cy has returned to school to get in shape for his upcoming Championship events.

There are so many things dogs can learn in dog school.  Obedience is just the beginning of the skills set.  There is agility, rally, flyball, Frisbee, dock diving, lure coursing, nose work and the much appreciated therapy categories that include hospital visitor and reading helper.  Not only are there lots of classes for dogs, but also Raja and I must share with you that we have never seen a dog who is unwilling to go to school. Oh sure, some dogs learn faster than others and some are more suited for
different courses than others, but all dogs always have fun.

Raja’s friend Cy has returned to school and to competition after a few months down time healing from the neck trouble that took him out of the Canine Performance Event Nationals in Altamont, New York.  Some people might say Cy’s career should have been over, but, as we humans know about ourselves, exercise is good for the body and exercise helps prevent injuries from becoming entrenched.  Cy’s slipped neck disk could have happened jumping off the couch while turning his head toward the side, or in any number of ways.  There’s no reason why Cy’s days of glory and Olympic dreams (read: days of fun and sense of pride) should be cut short.  That doggy’s too busy to be shut down; he’ll only get in trouble from being bored.

Cy and CT share some downtime with Carolyn between events.

For his rehab, Carolyn took him to Arf Animal Rehab in Dexter, Michigan, an animal sports and injury reconditioning facility for an evaluation and training program.  Working in conjunction with his vet and the specialists, Cy was prescribed a personalized exercise regime that stretched his range of muscles in his neck and strengthened his core, some of them using a ball similar to the way humans use a ball to strengthen the center.  Since Cy’s a social snacker, he took readily to the exercises as long as treats and human attention were the main part of the process.

Cy returned to private classes with his trainer before competing at Think Pawsitive in New Berlin, Wisconsin  for a weekend of fun in which he earned three qualifications towards his

Cy taking the high road in his little white socks.

championship in the categories of Wildcard, Snooker and Jumpers. Still doing fine, Cy recently competed in Williamston, MI, Capital City Canine Club to earn 2 more Qualifications towards his championship.  And now, Cy has only 5 more Q’s to earn.  4 of them will be the hardest Q’s for him ever as he competes in an agility event called Jackpot.  In Jackpot, the dog and his human are far apart, so Cy has to run away from Carolyn to do his challenges.  Cy likes it best when he’s got Carolyn close.  But we have confidence that he’ll get the job done.  Carolyn and Cy are saving the bet Q for last- one final Q in Jumpers because Cy is he best in that challenge.  And next time you readers hear about Cy, he’ll be Champion Cy to you and me.

After Championing, what next for Cy?  Carolyn and Cy will decide, but I will share with you that National Champions can compete Internationally, and if Cy chooses to fly overseas to compete, you can bet Raja and I will be on the same plane.

So back to back to school… Dogs love school because dogs love to interact with their humans, make new friends and learn new ways to be companionable and important to humans in daily life.  If your dog seems like a schooldog to you, google “CPE” for your area and learn how you two can get started.  Your little scholar might amaze you by graduating to be a Champion too.

Keep your promise to play with your dog

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Dull playtime for dogs

Puppies play all the time.  They’re awkward and fairly chaotic. But, we get a handle on that.  We socialize our puppies to be calm and placid most of the time.  We have to- chaos and randomness rule  the house otherwise, right?

Over time, our desire to control doggy chaos and organize our pets into our own compartmentalized days means that “play” often becomes the daily walk- a scheduled, stately, linear, tromp down the  concrete sidewalk.  Playful initiatives on our dogs’ parts are discouraged.  We don’t want them running into somebody else’s yard, tripping other pedestrians or sniffing anything at all- whatsoever. We want them to go out purposefully and return expediently, and cleanly.  Sometimes we try to run off their excess energy so we let them become joggers with us.  Just FYI, jogging doesn’t work all the muscle groups for them either.  Only Dalmatians, Fox Hounds and a handful of other breeds really get into running.   (Dalmatians prefer it if horses are involved.  Fox Hounds like something smelly to chase.)

Let’s be honest, part of the reason we control dog play is that we sometimes don’t feel too playful  ourselves.  After a day of work, we think we want to go home and sit down.  (ummm… weren’t many of us doing that all day?)

As the video reveals, true dog play is something different from exercise and often extends way beyond puppyhood.  Watch street dogs in Puerto Rico, as one example. Though they are semi-feral foragers, the adults love to play, chasing, tugging, growling and wrestling spontaneously. There is no real fighting, even though the play seems loud and fierce.  After tumbling and rolling about, the dogs get up, shake, and wander off together to find a snack.  Our point is:  dogs love to play throughout their lives.

If your dog has lost her playfulness, it could be because she’s not feeling well or it could be because there’s nobody to play with because YOU, the designated doggy companion, have lost your interest in play.

A playful dog is happy, energetic, flexible, well muscled and relaxed.  A playful dog owner has pretty much the same characteristics. Help your dog stay youthful and happy. Don’t discourage doggy play.  You know it’s good for you too.

A Travel Dog Valentine Fantasy Love Story

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Dear Romantic Readers, All of Raja’s travels posted in this blog are real.  Until now, we have never posted any fantasies…. but it’s Valentine’s Day and time for some silly fun.

Last Valentine’s Day, Univision Television asked us to do a fun fiction love story about traveling dogs to accompany a program about Mexican Tourism.  As you travelers all know, Mexico’s tourism has been suffering lately.  Raja the intrepid isn’t planning any drives into Mexico’s heartland any time soon, but he really hopes one day he can go visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in the Eastern Mountains.  Our fantasy story for Univision was a fun way to imagine being there.  Here is a short version in honor of Valentine’s Day and romantic getaways….

Raja and Chloe in Mexico’s Folkloric Heartland

When Raja invited the adventuresome Maltipoo, Chloe on vacation in Mexico, who knew what adventures would happen for this free-spirited canine couple?  Here, Raja and Chloe hop into a taxi in Mexico City.  They are headed for Michoacan, Mexico’s destination for crafts and local culture.  “You forgot your doggles, Raja!” barks Chloe.



They stop along the way at a roadside stand.

Raja offers Chloe an aqua fresca and a refreshing jicaleta.  “Mmmm says Chloe!”  Love blooms.





In Paracho, the most famous town for hand made guitars, Chloe insists Raja buy a guitar.  He’s a little alarmed, but Chloe insists.  “Just strum a little.  I know you’ll be a virtuoso.”




It is night in the charming town of Morelia and the couple spontanaeously performs a romantic dancing and singing duet under the lights and stars.  Chloe has bought some maracas.




Finally, Chloe and Raja visit the Sanctuary of the Monarch Butterflies in Valle de Bravo.  Choe wears her butterfly dress.  They both hope the vacation never ends!



(Special thanks to Chloe, Raja’s real life friend.  She is an agility star at Think Pawsitive Dog Training at New Berlin, Wisconsin. and she really does dress like a butterfly on special occasions.  Most of her travel and party dresses are made by Carolyn’s Originals )



Seven Obvious Reasons Why it’s Good to be a Dog in Vail, Colorado

Monday, February 6th, 2012

As the short, warm, weird winter of the US East Coast draws to an early close, Raja and I want, whistfully, to revisit our favorite ski spot on the entire globe: Vail, Colorado.  Winter or summer, you just gotta go there and, please, do not forget your dog, whatever you do!  And here’s WHY…..

1. As soon as you walk off your plane in Eagle Airport, 30 minutes outside Vail, an airport monitor lets you know that your dog will be made to feel right at home.  This ad from a real estate company basically puts the dog before the house big time!



2. The Colorado Ski Museum on Frontage Road in Vail Village celebrates the age-old connection between mountain dogs and skiing mountaineers in a mural on the outside wall.  Look at those treacherous wooden slide-in skis! Who wouldn’t want a dog to help with all the mishaps and accidents!


3. Vail Village Arts Gallery considers dogs to be great art.  This month, the gallery features the brilliant dog portraits of Suzanne Shirra.   In our picture, a Yellow Lab, a Black Lab and a phosphorescent Maltese glow on the gallery walls.  If you have a spare $5,000, she will do your dog’s portrait too.



4. All the best shops have a dog greeter to make you feel really welcome.  Meet Charlie of the De Coronto Boutique on East Meadow Drive, Vail Village.  One day Charlie, a Basenji / Pitt Bull mix
was walking lonely and cold down a mountain road and the next he was rescued into the lap of retail luxury by shop owner Laura Lilley.  Lucky dog!


5. Who wouldn’t want to be like Daisy, living the good life as the quintessential skier companion and all around very cool mountain dog?  Daisy accompanies Brian mountainside, sometimes running up the slopes on her own to gallop down with Brian in the big drifts.  Daisy resembles the dog on the Ski Museum mural, doesn’t she?



6. If your dog looks even the least bit chilly, some restaurants invite you to bring him inside. Raja was hanging out off the slopes and the Rimini Gelato Shop on Lionshead Place insisted he come inside and have a warm drink.




7. Kate and Carhart have just moved to Vail and they are in search of dog friendly housing. Something tells us that they aren’t going to have a hard time finding a really nice place and making friends.




We just heard Vail got four more feet of snow.  Raja says we are in the wrong place right now!

(Update on the Florida dog that needed a ride from our previous post: Patches was discovered to have titers for infectious diseases and lovely manners.  He never got his ride to Pensacola.  A local family gave him a happy home!  Yay!)




Agility Update: Agile Shih Tzu Zones in on Championship!

Monday, November 7th, 2011

In June 2011, Raja and I reported from the Canine Performance Events Agility Nationals in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  We followed the careers of Cy and CT, two Shih Tzu, and Skamp, a Mini Aussie.  And we promised to keep you in the loop as Cy and CT achieve their goals of Champion, as well as to keep tabs on Skamp’s career.  Following is an inspiring interview with Carolyn Linsday, owner of Cy and CT, and Rhea Hartley, owner of Skamp.  You know that some of you will want to get started in agility after you read this.

CT, Cy and Skamp (fore) with Chloe and Cara, co-owners of Think Pawsitive training facility in New Berlin, WI


With Carolyn’s dogs, we focus on Cy, who will Champion before CT does.  Rhea’s Skamp is competing casually now, but casual competition might suit some lifestyles best. 

Helen: Carolyn, as I understand it, Cy’s Championship category is the highest and hardest.  

Carolyn: “Cy’s title will be the C-ATCH (CPE Agility Trial Champion).  He will compete in all of 7 required categories, including the ominous jackpot, in which the dog and the handler are separated remotely as the dog runs the course.” (This is always the hardest for Cy personally.)  

Helen: How many points are required for Championship like Cy’s? 

Carolyn: “For Cy’s title, he has to complete in the categories of Handler Games, Strategy Games and Fun Games. Cy started in CPE at Level 1 (you are allowed to start as high as Level 3), so when Cy receives his C-ATCH he will have completed 120 qualifying runs!”

“Cy’s first trial was in August of 2005 when he was only entered in a few events- and the same in 2006. It was 2009 before we started doing a few more trials, so it has been a slow process getting this close to our C-ATCH.”   He has now only 11 Q’s to go!

Helen: What does his achievement mean to you?  In what ways does this fulfill a dream for you?  What have you done, day to day, to work toward this goal? 

Carolyn: “Cy and I are partners on the agility field. We have to work together to have a good run and Cy and I have a very special relationship during a run. He just wants to do what I ask him to, so, if I give him the right signals, he is happy to do what I want. In the beginning, we did not have much training and we both learned a LOT of bad habits, which have had to be retrained for both of us.” 

“I cannot describe the feeling you get when we have a really awesome run where we are both in sync and everything goes smooth. It isn’t a feeling that we are anything special, but that we are a special partnership. I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t run agility can fully understand it. It is a sense of accomplishment that you have both done your job to your best ability. Although those runs are especially special and awesome, every run has something in it to be grateful for.  I can always find something that they did well, even if we don’t Q (qualify).” 

Helen: How has Cy benefited from his training and competing?  

Carolyn: “I think doing agility gives a dog confidence. It teaches them to work with you as a team. Both Cy and CT were never shy, but I have watched others who were able to overcome shyness because of agility. They love the special attention they get from me while we are training and at a trial- the treats, the praise and just spending time with me. They like using their minds and they know when they have figured something out or that they did a good job. It helps keep them fit. A lot of people are surprised to see a Shih Tzu competing, but of course we know they are not just couch dogs. They love running and jumping. They only jump an 8″ jump so it is not too hard on their knees. They could both jump 12″ if they had to.” 

“Cy is a momma’s boy, but he is also confident enough that he can stay in his crate while I walk a course or someone can hold onto his leash, he may look for me, but he does not get over stressed. He knows he is going to get to go and play.” 

“Being at an agility trial does relieve stress for me. Everyone at a trial enjoys playing with their dog and understands what it feels like when you have that special run. You just can’t find that with someone who hasn’t experienced the feeling. We are all supportive of each other. I have only competed in the CPE venue, but I have found it to be a very friendly group.” For CPE, the canine/human team compete against their own challenges and every dog can become a champion some day! 

Helen: Rounding things off, on average, what does it cost to train and achieve a champion?  

Carolyn: “The cost averages around $12.00 per run, so we have spent a considerable amount of money. There are no cash prizes, only ribbons, of which we have a lot. We will receive a special ribbon, a plaque and a “bar” (like from a jump) especially decorated and everyone at the trial is welcome to sign it, something to remember that special run. Of course the ribbons don’t mean anything to Cy and CT, but the praise and treats they receive tell them they have done a great job and we have had fun together.” 

Helen: How do you feel agility achievement enhances the breed of the Shih Tzu?  

Carolyn: “I do think people change their perception of the Shih Tzu when they see them compete. I have heard a lot of people say they thought they just like to sleep and stay indoors. People are very surprised at how fast they can run. I will say they don’t have the endurance that a border collie has, but they can compete throughout a full 3 day trial without a problem. I am careful when we are at outdoor trials in hot weather.”

“My husband and I saw a Shih Tzu walk into a pet store once and were both instantly intrigued with the breed.  They are sturdy dogs, caring dogs, funny dogs, ready to please. They can be a bit stubborn at times, but I have always been able to easily work through that. It is the only breed I will ever have!” 

Helen:  Thanks so much Carolyn.  I’m sure Cy will finish sooner, but you know Raja (also very stubborn) and I will be reporting at the 2012 Nationals! It would be incredible to be there for the moment!  Now let’s talk with Rhea.  Skamp’s career is more relaxed- just enough competition to have fun, but no pressure for the long term.

Think Pawsive's indoor arena makes it easy and comfortable for dogs to compete and learn in all seasons.


Rhea, when you started out in agility with Skamp, what were your goals and dreams for Skamp? 

Rhea: “The first time I saw an Agility Competition, I saw a bonding between the handlers and their dogs.  That was what I wanted for Skamp and myself.   My goals were for Skamp to become more focused on the agility course, become more obedient and the big dream was some day to have her qualify for Agility Nationals, which she accomplished  in June.” 

“Skamp is retired, but seeing her compete again this past week-end I do believe she does enjoy it.  Enjoying it doesn’t always mean they have to be perfect.  I just want to make sure she is always having fun”.  

Helen: How has agility been beneficial to Skamp and how has it been beneficial to you? 

Rhea: “Agility keeps her active, moving, and still lets her know she needs to be obedient to certain commands.  When I have been in training, Skamp is always assured of having fun times with Mom.  Now that we aren’t in training, she doesn’t always receive that one on one time with me.  Yes, we go on walks daily, but there is a big difference between walks and training!!  Agility training and competition has brought lots of new friends into our lives.  I also think that Agility Competition has allowed Skamp to be more socialized, so she enjoys being around other dogs.  I also enjoyed running with Skamp because she kept me going.  Very good exercise!!!” 

Helen: And you and Skamp are still attending Agility Events, right?

Rhea: ‘Skamp and I enjoy going to Agility Events because, once you have been in it, you are kinda “hooked”!!  It’s kinda like fishing!!!  I noticed this past week-end, Skamp would lie in my arms and watch the other dogs run.  Her head would go back and forth! I enjoy going because I learn from other handlers. It is always fun to see other dogs have a GREAT run.  Believe me, I saw some top notch dogs this past week-end along with their handlers.  It also thrills me to see the “Junior Handlers” because you know CPE has taken them away from television/computors and other activities and you see a love from them for their dogs.  It just is sooooo exciting to watch!!  All I can say is, “I never get tired of watching”!!!’

“Skamp has learned a lot from her training sessions.  Before training, she had a problem focusing and listening.  When we go hiking, we do let her off her lead and she does come when called.  I have also noticed that through all of the training she really gets excited with all of the praise.  Skamp is an Aussie and that breed can be very stubborn, but, through agility, we have pretty much broken that cycle.  We are never afraid of taking her with us regardless where we go.  Skamp is always with us with fishing, hiking, trips to other states to visit friends or relatives and she does GREAT.  Everyone loves Skamp!!!”  

A future junior handler enjoys some Halloween fun with Skamp, CT and Cy

Readers, a lot of Agility Training yields the honor of National Champion living in your midst.  A moderate amount of Agility yields a dog who listens better and can move with confidence wherever her paws take her.  Everybody Wins With Canine Performance Event Agility! 

Many thanks to Carolyn, Rhea, Cy, CT and Skamp.  Raja and I will be seeing them all at a fairgrounds somewhere in rural New York State in June 2012!

In her Carolyn's Originals Halloween dress, Skamp plays in the grass.

Raja’s Report: Dogs of Peru

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Wearing my Inca hat in Cusco

Raja here, barking about something I know from personal contact… What’s it like to be a dog in Peru? 

First, Peru has a national dog, the Peruvian Orchid Dog. Generally Hairless- but crested with a stylish Mohawk, small footed, sensitive, family oriented and ancient, this breed pre-dates the Incas.

Peru's National Orchid Dog

 They are not the most popular dogs in Peru.  Currently the Schnauzer is the fashionable dog, along with the Jack Russell, the English Spaniel and the Lab.  

I even met a Shih Tzu in Cusco.  Meet Kiwicha, another of my hearty Himalayan breed showing everybody that we Shih Tzu dogs don’t mind high altitudes. 

Meet Kiwicha, a Shih Tzu girl of Cusco!

Several of the popular travel guide books on Peru provide inaccurate, slanderous information about Peru’s street dogs.  Contrary to what they say, Peru’s street dogs are not wild, yapping biters.  The majority is gentle, mild mannered, non-territorial and friendly.  From my first stroll near my hotel in Cusco, I met three new friends who I found had the neighborhood names of Pelusa, Marlon Brando and Shadow.  They peacefully accompanied me on every walk I took and they were waiting to greet me after I returned to Cusco after my visit to Machu Picchu.  The guidebooks are wrong.  Peru’s street dogs are awesome.  (But, you know, don’t go to Peru without your rabies shot, just to be safe, OK?) 

It is said that every Peruvian has a dog and a cat, and this statement seems to be pretty accurate.  One thing that amazed me about the dogs of Peru was that most Peruvian dogs seem to not need leashes.  In big city Lima and in small country towns, dogs stroll about with their owners off leash, even crossing streets in traffic.  Even strolling in public parks where there are other dogs.  Even waiting outside a house on a busy street without straying away or getting into traffic.  How do they do that?  (I rather suspect that only the dogs who are not roamers survive to put their stay-off-the-streets genes into the gene pool.)

Cafe greeter!


As ubiquitous as the New York dog, the Peruvian dog has much more freedom in many ways.  Within a range, they can go where they want and nobody seems to bother them.  So, while the New York dog gets transported from place to place, always chaperoned, always dog walked, the Peruvian dog makes his own decisions and trots on his own paws.  

In Aguas Calientes

Like the New York Dog, the Peruvian Dog often wears clothes for fashion or to stay warm, which is pretty cute since in zones under 12,000 feet in Peru, it’s never very hot or very cold.  Here is a puppy from Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu, in a stylish evening jumpsuit.  This Cusco dog wore his bolero between 5 pm and 8 pm. I didn’t wear any of my sweaters in Peru, but, many people told my family to get me a coat or I’d be cold. 

In Cusco

Dogs of New York often sit in cafes, shop and ride pubic transport.  Peruvian dogs are less welcome in indoors and human zones, but in outdoor zones there are few restrictions.  For example I was invited to walk all through a botanical garden of endangered orchids and threatened enormous caterpillars.  Try that in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden! 

Similar to dog culture in New York, Paris and Marrakech, a traveling dog provides a reason to chat with a stranger and make new friends.  What do Peruvians ask about each other’s dogs?  What’s his name, age, weight, of course.

I gave in and got a coat in Peru. Everybody was too worried about me.