Archive for the ‘Agility’ Category

The Mighty Shih Tzu: Sports Milestone Attained by Cy the Shih Tzu

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Cy in his director's chair with his distinctions.

Champion Cy Ty attains his C-ATCH Championship! Refusing to be sidelined by illness, injury and family tragedy, Cy the Shih Tzu has shaken off all obstacles and made his run for Canine Gold! Earning a total of Qs120 (quality benchmarks) at a trial in Dexter, Michigan at the Canine Recreation Center. Cy has leapt to a pinnacle of agility glory. Raja says, “Cy, I knew you when… and I knew you’d go all the way to becoming an official champ!”

The Olympics of dog fitness is not a single event, but a series of athletic challenges in which championship comes after lengthy commitment and true and consistent performance. One of those venues is CPE, Canine Performance Events in which dogs of all kinds, all sizes and all backgrounds can compete through obedience, agility and athleticism in running challenging courses, responding to direction from their human team partner and succeed in running, leaping, tunneling, balancing their way to a smooth and speedy run of all the obstacles.

Is CPE healthy for dogs physically and mentally? Yes! Does CPE strengthen the dog/human relationship? Yes! Is travel involved? Yes! Is it fun? Yes!!! Raja loves CPE and he’s really proud of his good friend Cy, the second Shih Tzu in the world to win the coveted C-ATCH distinction as a Canine Performance Event Agility Trial Champion.

CT, Tasha and Champion Cy

Who is this champion? Cy lives in Michigan in a Shih Tzu oriented home. His sister Tasha was a trained therapy dog. His little brother CT is an athlete as well. Sensitive and unassuming, Cy spends his free hours glued to his family, but give him a bar to jump over or a beam to walk, and he’s proud and ready to show what he can do. Like most individuals of extreme physical accomplishment, Cy wears his honors modestly. He’s no snob. You can get his attention with a little piece of salami and he will pose for pictures.

Why is Raja so excited about this milestone? As you readers know, barking about how much of an all around dog the Shih Tzu is always remains Raja’s main mission. This breed, tracing its ancestry right back to the Himalayan Wolf, is always ready to adapt and meet challenges in whatever niche it finds itself. Sure, the Shih Tzu will curl up on the couch with you, and you could even get him addicted to bonbons (if you are), but at heart, the Shih Tzu is a traveler, an adventurer, a Shih Tzu of fortune and heart whose dreams of glory are far far bigger than his average 11 lb. size.

Champions also win enormous treat baskets.

What will Cy do now? Probably he’ll start all over again and become a double champion. As all athletes know, resting on your laurels allows the opportunity for too many others to jump up on your pedestal. Cy’s far too competitive for that.

Help Cy to go for even more gold… buy your insanely cute doggy duds from his amazing online store.

Champions get to keep the final bar they jump.

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.

Responsibilities of Canine Agility Competition: CPE Agility Nationals Update

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Cy flies out of the tunnel at a full gallop at a 2011 CPE trial.

Raja and I are really disappointed because our dear friends Carolyn and Cy will not be competing in the CPE Nationals in Altamont, New York this upcoming weekend.  BUT, we are so proud of Carolyn for making the challenging decision.

Yesterday afternoon, Cy yipped and cringed.  His tail dropped; his behavior indicated he had neck pain again.  A visit to the vet this morning revealed nothing significant in the x-ray, but his vet did caution that Cy’s previous injury may give him trouble from time to time.  Cy will continue to do agility, but when the injury shows up, he should take ibuprofen, a prescribed muscle relaxant and he should not jump for a few weeks.

Cy and CT pose for a publicity picture.

There’s the rub.  To complete an agility course, jumping over low jumps, off a low teeter incline and off a low ramp are required moves. Maybe it would all go OK, but if it didn’t, Cy would be seeing a new vet in a different time zone far from home. Almost all active animals, like people, sustain little injuries from time to time.  Maybe a human athlete can make the personal decision to compete when not in tip top form, but to make the decision for a beloved pet, a pet who would literally walk a plank cheerfully if asked… well, it’s not ethical to ask.

Last week, a similar decision for the racehorse I’ll Have Another pulled the champion from the Belmont Stakes, the last race in the elite winner’s circle of Triple Crown contenders.  I’ll Have Another had the beginning of tendonitis in his left front leg.  Owner J. Paul Redman said that he and the horse’s team were unanimous.  I’ll Have Another will retire to a nice life at stud, so, snarking and speculating from the wings aside, the decision averts another racecourse-side tragedy.

Big expectations and high exchanges of money often accompany animal competitions.  Canine Agility is high value on the side of expectations, while nurturing animal/human companionship and genuine fun, unlike horse racing that probably is a lot lower on the expectation of animal / human fun and higher on the finance side.  Nonetheless, animal competition as a sport is an expensive hobby at many levels. Carolyn made the best decision for Cy at this time.

Cy’s probably disappointed too.  Carolyn considered bringing him to Altamont anyway just for an outing, but she knows he’d spend the whole time straining at the lead expecting his turn to run the course.   Our guess is he’ll get an ice cream party at Stewart’s Root Beer and an opportunity to compete at the state-of-the-art agility facility Think Pawsitive in New Berlin, Wisconsin as soon as his vet gives him the go ahead.

Cy and CT pose with some of their prizes and ribbons.

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Cy (first in line) & Raja (last) again represent for the FisherDogs Agilty Team!

The Canine Performance Event Agility Nationals are being held simultaneously in two locations this June to accommodate enthusiasts who want to compete coast to coast.  Washington State and New York State are the host states, a fitting decision since last year’s Nationals were held in Minnesota.  Raja and I are going to report from the National Trials in Altamont, NY starting on June 13th Altamont is a gorgeous, rural town, just outside Albany, lying peacefully under the Helderberg Mountains.

Canine Performance Events’ mission is to promote fun and health through low impact competition with your dog.  From the CPE literature:

CPE’s Basic Philosophy is for the dog and handler to have FUN while competing for agility titles.

  • Membership is open to all purebred and mixed-breed dogs
  • 15 months of age or older
  • Veterans 6 years or older compete at lower jump heights
  • Enthusiast and Specialist compete at lower jump heights
  • 5 Levels of Titles (from Beginners to Championship)
  • Standard Classes and many Games Classes
  • Junior’s and Physically Challenged Handlers are welcomed!

Success can be achieved through positive training and teamwork.

While CPE is serious competition and years of training and commitment go toward achieving a Champion, the focus is the dog/human team development.  CPE is a little like golf, in that you are always competing against yourself.  So every competing dog can become a champion if the interest and
the commitment hold out.

And, Champion or not, every team wins.  Bonds of love, adventure and fun make every owner and dog live a healthier and prouder life.  No matter what curves life throws, the adventures along the way
with canine competition make for hours well lived in the ever changing history of canine / human interaction.

As we did in Minnesota, Raja and I are not competing, but blogging, observing and supporting our human and Shih Tzu friends Carolyn Linsday and Cy as they forge ahead toward Cy’s championship goal.

Cy had a challenging year. Three months ago, moving normally as he explored his new house, he hurt
a disk at the base of his neck.  His vet determined the original injury probably happened months or years before, or maybe even Cy was born with a tilted disk. A few days under the vet’s special care, laser treatments, chiropractic treatments, meds, total rest and then a slow return to activity, followed by a
cautious return to the agility arena have brought Cy back to competing form.

Carolyn wasn’t sure if Cy would compete, because, obviously, Cy’s overall well- being is more important than any title.  But Cy himself let Carolyn know he was ready to compete when he began to run around his new yard and jump again.  With his vet’s approval, Cy is good to go!

Some might question if a dog with a former disk injury should compete.  It’s a personal call for Cy’s
team, but the fact remains that Cy is a committed pet athlete and a bored stay at home couch-potato.  He yearns to be busy!  Also, as we know, activity builds muscles that support good spine health.
Plus, each dog jumps at his own level.  Cy competes in Teacup jump heights because he’s a small dog. None of the movements in CPE are eccentric or stressful, when practiced reasonably and not over trained.  It’s not that the dog does anything unusual physically, but that he follows the course in the proper sequence and in accordance with the pace his owner sets for him.  So Raja, who does not do agility per se, could easily do all the motions of the CPE runs on a normal romp outside, although actually getting him to do them in sequence or preventing him from getting off message and wandering off to say “hi” to somebody might be the challenge.

Pet athletes are just like human athletes. They might have challenges, but they heal up and come back stronger.
During the 13th through the 15th, Raja and I will be blogging nightly from the CPE trials.  Please check back with us to see our videos and read our ring-side report.

Tips for Dog Bloggers: Be the Message!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Keeping it real on a windy, Spring day.

Today, The Disney Channel announced that a new fall 2012 series will feature a dog who blogs.  Announcement Adam Bonnet, Senior Vice president of the Disney Channel says his canine actor can do his own stunts.  Raja applauds authenticity in dog blogging.  He does his own stunts too.
If dog blogging were not a major trend, Disney wouldn’t even consider the topic.  Committed dogs have been barking on the internet for years!  There’s even a yearly convention for dog bloggers, BlogPaws.  The summer convention’s in June, so there’s still time to get in on the fun:  BlogPaws Not sure how to begin?… attend the Pet Writers Conference in New York in February.  Conference
For emergent Disney talent Stan, and for those of you readers who want to encourage your dog to blog, Raja has a few tips…
1. Never blog about what you don’t experience. If you don’t deep sea dive, well, you can’t bark about it, unless you interview a dog who does.  Blog out of the events of your own life and the events that touch your life.
2. Always follow your nose and heart. If a topic grabs your attention, do your research and write about it.  Follow your nose as you wander the  streets and meadows of your world.  But take content seriously.  People are going to believe what you say, so don’t say anything that you have not experienced or have not researched meticulously.  You have a responsibility to be informational, not only opinioned or braggadocios. When we do medical advice, we run our posts past a vet.  But when we do travel, we just tell you want we have seen (refer to point 1.)
4. Create happiness, but don’t try to make everybody happy. Sometimes readers don’t like what you have to say.  Sometimes people wake up on the wrong side of the bed; it’s not your concern. As I tell Raja on our walks, smell the nice things beside the road, not the stinky things.  (True, nice and nasty are subjective; that’s something we debate.)
5. Appreciate your fans and work hard. Oh we do!
Keeping our noses on the scent of our major travel theme, we are scheduled to attend the Canine Performance National Agility Event on June 15-17 in Altamont, New York.  Entries are limited to 575 serious, qualified canine contenders.  Our pal Cy the Shih Tzu will be one of them!  Can’t wait to bark all about it!

Picture Your Pet: Innovative photographs make for fun!

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

When Raja and I were at the CPE Agility Nationals in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, everybody was talking about getting the “Commemorative Picture”… so what could that be?  I assumed it would be a shot with the judges and a collection of ribbons.  Kinda dull… but not so…….. 

The “Commemorative Picture” was a formal, posed shot in a theatrical little stage in the vendors’ building.  Crystal Image Pet Photography had assembled a gorgeous little studio set that idealized the Minnesota Lake District …  cattails and water grass, ducks and a stalking crane, a pine tree, stones and the pale blue of the prairie sky.  Your canine champion got to sit on the tape X and pose for the camera.  A custom label on the canoe oar makes the shot official. 

Raja and the innovative photographer at Crystal Image.

What a lovely keepsake for our Shih Tzu Wall of Glory (aka the living room wall). 

Now, you do know, you could have some fun doing this yourself at home.  Even taking the set style to a lesser degree… Take your outdoors dog into the rough and pose him on a fallen log with a hatchet, a make believe camp fire site with iron cook pot, a rustic and faded bandanna, crumpled sepia tone map, spyglass and an old canvas backpack.  Instant Lewis and Clark.    Get toddler fairy wings, enormous artificial flowers and have a friend blow bubbles toward the scene as you pose and snap your puppy princess as a flower fairy.  Yes it’s all big silly fun, but, seriously, doesn’t “big silly fun” characterize much of what you do with your dog, or is it only me?  You know you’ll love the shot after you did it and if you don’t, you might kind of wish you had. 

Can’t wait to collect the next “Commemorative Picture” from Crystal Image at Nationals next year! We want to collect all 50 states!

Canine Performance Agility Nationals 2011: Ribbons & Barks!

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

On the weekend of June 9th through 12th, qualifying US and Canadian agility dog athletes and their humans convened for the National Games at the Washington County fairgrounds in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  This was a wonderful event, really inspiring and positive in spirit; Raja and I were privileged to be attending as bloggers and press. 

This democratic and embracing canine sport offers opportunities for almost everybody who wants to join in at any level, club, group or national. 

As the Canine Performance Events (CPE) literature states: 

  • Membership is open to all purebred and mixed-breed dogs
  • 15 months of age or older
  • Veterans 6 years or older compete at lower jump heights
  • Enthusiast and Specialist compete at lower jump heights
  • 5 Levels of Titles (from Beginners to Championship)
  • Standard Classes and many Games Classes
  • Junior’s and Physically Challenged Handlers are welcomed!

Club teammates support each other.


And the motto is: “Success can be achieved through positive training and teamwork.” Which is basically true for every challenge in life, right? 

CPE agility competition, unless you lose your good heart and begin to be a snob or a critic, is like golf.  You always play against your previous best.  The goal is not to beat the best dog there, but to come out a better dog than you went in. 

Raja for sure came out a stronger dog than he went in.  He met his friends and came home with a little more swagger, if that’s really possible. 

CPE not only create opportunities for dog sport, they create community and lasting friendships across the US and Canada, bringing together an ephemeral village of enthusiasts, many of whom have traveled long distances and sacrificed all year to be present to compete.  And they bring out the creativity and talent in all participants as they meet challenges and develop patience and spontaneous kindness.  Small dogs and big dogs are all welcome as dogs are classified by how high they jump not how tall they walk.

Team Great Dane

Team Italian Mastiff

Raja joined the clubhouse cabin of the Fisherdogs, athletes Cy, CT, and Skamp from Michigan.  Their motto was “We’re Fishing for Fame, Fashion, Agility Q’s, Friends and Fun!”  Dressed in Fisherdog Gear made by Carolyn’s Originals ( ) they proudly represented for their group in a decorating competition along with contestants as far away as Texas and as close as Washington County.  Fun fun fun for everybody! 
A horse barn stall becomes the Cabin of the Fisherdogs!

Raja says four paws up for Canine Performance Agility!  Agility gets everybody off the couch and out into the playing arena healthy, smart, artistic and proud!

Make Yourself a Serious Pet Medical Emergency Kit

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Blog Fan Cyndi Bender, owner of the famous Duffy McDuff, writes:

“I have recently returned from Wisconsin where we attended a Scottie Rally and parade. It was a 4 day road trip with a total of 6 dogs. Three dogs rode in the same vehicle with Duffy. For the most part they all got along with the exception of one female who would growl and attack the males if they simply looked at her. We were almost back home when this female and a male got into a fight for no reason. One of the dogs sustained minor wounds, more like scrapes than puncture wounds. Anyway blood was drawn and we pulled over to discover that we did not carry a first aid kit amongst us. It got me to thinking that if anyone is active with their dogs outside of their home they should carry a first aid kit. Have you covered this in the blog?”

Good idea Cyndi!  We did this once, but not as thoroughly.  Assisted by Three Rivers Veterinary Clinic in Madison , New Jersey, we recommend the following in every pet  travel medical kit:

4 oz. Eye and Skin Wash or saline solution

artificial tear gel for after eye wash

mild grease-cutting  dish washing liquid to wash animal after skin contamination (pesticides, etc.)

muzzle to protect against fear inspired biting

non perishable can of your pet’s favorite wet food

cold pack (breakable cold sports packs are best)

styptic pencil or styptic powder for small bleeds

thermometer with case

4″ x 4 yd. flexible, cohesive, stretchable  gauze wrap

alcohol prep pads

2″ x 2″ and 3″ x 3″ sterile pads

gauze pads

two 5″ x 9″ trauma pads fpr comperssion

1″ x 2 yard adhesive tape

3 ply towels

iodine solition

hydrocortisone cream

tripple antibiotic intment

cotton swabs and cotton balls

latex or vinyl gloves

1 pair scissors

4″ plastic forceps or tweezers

hand wipes

antiseptic wipes

hydrogen peroxide, 3 % to induce vomiting

turkey baster to administer the hydrogen peroxide

blanket that can douoble as a pet sling carrier

Yes, this is a lot of gear, and you don’t need all this if you plan to shop the glitzy stores or visit a well equipped friend, but, if you plan on travel where you are n your onw, nar or far, just imagine the uses you could find for all this in a pinch.  So many thanks to Cyndi and Duffy!

Raja and I are going on the road in a couple of days to the Canine Performance Events National Championships in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  We’ll link up with former blog- featured canine athletes, Chloe (Maltipoo), Skamp (mini Aussie), Cara, CT, and Cy (Shih Tzu) and be there on site to film and record how this awesomechallenge of champions goes!  Until then, everybody please root for our athletes!

A life with books, dogs, & thread … meet Carolyn of Carolyn’s Originals

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Carolyn gets lots of help when she sews.

Some of us work all day and come home at night and sit. Our very talented friend, Carolyn Linsday works all day setting type for books and, when she goes home, she exercises two of her three Shih Tzu dogs. Cy and CT will compete to earn their C-ATCH Championships in Summer 2011. And finally, when Cy and CT are tired, Carolyn herself “relaxes” by sewing beautifully cut pet clothes. Running all aspects of her pet fashion company is her third full time activity as designer and technician for Carolyn’s originals.

We are not sure where she gets her energy, but Carolyn seems to keep all three balls in the air every day. Raja and I plan to be in the stands waving our pom poms when Cy and CT take the ring in June and we’ll blog all about it here so you’ll be in the know.
Agility is a rapidly rising field of small dog competition in which we see more and more Shih Tzu dogs competing. In previous decades, the Shih Tzu, the hardy dog from the Himalayas, had been stereotyped into the role of companion couch potato, while also being pigeon holed as stubbornly aristocratic. A revoltingly hopeless combination.

While the aristocracy remains, the couch companion myth is rapidly fading, thanks to people like Carolyn who believe in the athleticism of these small and powerful dogs. Maybe Shih Tzu dogs are still stubborn, but bring them aboard respectfully and they will excel admirably. Right, Raja?
If you are still looking for an artisenal gift for your pet for Christmas, you can view Carolyn’s fashions here (Yes this is a plug, but there is no hidden commercialism. Raja uses many of Carolyn’s creations, especially the flannel shirts, the visors and the snuggle bag. Our blog isn’t about product and we don’t plug for things or money. We just like to share what we think is really good.)
What our blog IS about is living an energetic, self styled life in which your dog is a constant, happy companion. Maybe Carolyn’s dogs can’t help with the typesetting, but they can compete fiercely and they love helping her sew.

First Shih Tzu Ever Wins C-ATCH Agility Title

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Meet Cain, a fiercely competitive athlete, therapy dog, Canine Good Citizen and occasional model.  Raja and I are really proud of Cain and other “Toy Group” dogs like him who are showing their athleticism, smarts and natural companionability while keeping their people as busy as possible. 

Cain is owned by Debora Wheeler, who specializes in showing and training Shih Tzu dogs.  (She and her father have rescued over 200 together and, for Debra, her career began when she fell in love with one small dog!)  What Cain’s title means is that he has competed in successive Canine Performance Events, earning an awesome number of points to become a Canine Agility Team Champion.  

Where does the “team” come in?  The “team” is the dog and human team, since the handler accompanies the dog through all the agility challenges giving verbal and non verbal signals to guide the dog through the maze of size appropriate physical challenges.  Cain also has competed in the division of Teacup Agility.  And this does not mean he’s diminutive or “cute”, but refers to the height at which he jumps.  (Of course, he’s cute too.) 

While canine agility is a competitive sport, at the entry level, most people encounter club classes and events where everyone is extremely supportive of everyone else.  The community encourages dog socialization and makes everyone very much aware of their own dog’s health and personality.  Since the best handlers are patient and kind, dogs benefit hugely from this interaction.  Cain’s success has propelled him to compete in American Kennel Club events only.  But he doesn’t let the pressure go to his head- or does he?  Look at the celebrity duds! 

Toy dogs (small dogs not bred for farm work or hunting) have excelled in recent years in agility because their natural affability and sturdy build make them temperamentally and physically inclined towards seeing agility as playful learning.  Raja wants to send a special happy bark to all Shih Tzu owners who got their dogs off the couch and into the ring for fun and fitness doing what dogs do best- running, jumping, and developing their bonds with their owners. 

Where will Cain go from here?  He’s so talented; we’re sure he’ll find something else to excel in.  Meanwhile, he has an adorable daughter who is following in her father’s pawprints. 

To find a CPE group in your area, just Google “Canine Performance Event “your town” “your state” or “Canine Agility” “your town” “your state”.  Canine agility is a little like golf… you are always competing against your own best score. (But it’s loads more fun than golf… just saying.) 

Many thanks to Debora Wheeler for sharing Cain’s achievements with us!  (Special thanks to agility competitors Carolyn Linsday and Lisa Schwellinger for teaching Raja and me the terms.)