Daisy Peel

Author Archives: Daisy Peel

Daisy has been on the forefront of the trend of online agility education, and her Online Classroom is one of the leading sources for those seeking to improve the quality of their participation in the sport from afar. Her instruction, whether online or in person, is widely sought after as some of the best instruction available for those at any level, with any type of dog.

Podcast 21: How Chispa Got To The USA (importing a puppy)

Chispa in her sherpa bag, waiting for a cookie

Chispa in her sherpa bag in 2016, waiting for a cookie

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I've had several people ask me about the process of importing a puppy here to the USA. The Centers for Disease Control has stated HERE that in order for a dog to be imported into the USA as a pet, meaning, not intended for resale or commercial purposes, the following must be true:

  • The puppy has to have been vaccinated for rabies at least 30-days prior to arrival in the USA OR
  • The puppy has to have lived for a minimum of six months or since birth in a rabies free country.

If your puppy isn't from a rabies free country, then this means you have to WAIT until the puppy is old enough for a rabies vaccine, PLUS an additional 30-days. In Chispa's case, she came from Germany, which is on the list of rabies free countries, and travelled through The Netherlands (also on the list), and departed from AMS airport, in The Netherlands. So, all good from that perspective. Taco, my sheltie, came from Spain in 2018, and Spain is also a rabies free country by the CDC definition. So, all good there as well.

Of course, if you read the FAQ HEREyou'll see a lot of “mights” and “mays”. Basically, this means that if you are in a bad mood, or if the Customs and Border Patrol officer is in a bad mood, or inclined to show his/her authority, you may still have difficulty bringing your puppy in once you've arrived at your USA destination. In MY case, with Chispa, the border patrol officer, despite being shown printouts of all of the laws and regulations, which I'd printed out for just this reason, didn't understand the meaning of the regulations he was supposed to uphold, and put his foot down on making me sign a dog confinement agreement. Of course HE said it was for the good of MY puppy, that the government didn't want my puppy to die from exposure to rabies carried by a USA animal, but, sorry, that's hogwash. The confinement agreement is CLEARLY intended to protect USA animals from outside sources (and since when has the government cared about MY puppy over protecting its own interests? Right, guys).

So, I signed a confinement agreement. And after about 12 hours in a sherpa bag, Chispa desperately needed to get out and potty and poop (yep, she held it ALL that time). You can draw your own conclusions.

With Taco, I also had printouts from the CDC website, including an updated page that clearly stated that dogs who have lived in a rabies free country for a minimum of six months OR since birth did NOT need a confinement agreement. The CBP agent agreed with me after conferring with another agent, and Taco and I were on ourway.

All in all, bringing a puppy home from Europe was really not any more eventful than bringing a puppy home from any location. Then again, I've traveled overseas with dogs over a dozen times, maybe getting close to TWO dozen now, and so although there's always SOME sort of drama associated with the bureaucracy that needs to exert its will with the paper stamping business, I'm pretty comfortable with the process as a whole. The rules are pretty clear, but like anything, it comes down to knowing your rights, knowing your responsibilities, being cordial to those who hold the pen/stamp/power, and hoping that they're having a good day themselves.

Of course, that's just the paperwork/legal side of things. What about the trip?

Chispa had never been in a crate or a sherpa bag prior to me getting her, so I booked the flight home such that we'd have 48 hours before needing to get on a plane. This gave her some time to bond with me, get over the trauma of leaving her litter, and also gave me some time to work on getting her comfortable in her sherpa. I made sure to have some pee pads with me for the trip, and you can see one on the floor of her bag in the picture above.

On the evening prior to the morning of the flight, she had her last drink of water and her last bite to eat. She'd get some treats during the flight, but I wanted to make sure her bladder was empty. Yes, it's a long time for a little puppy to go without food or water, but a healthy puppy can stand that if it's a one-time thing. Shoot, probably lots of wild dogs/coyotes/wolves as puppies go far longer without food or water and are just fine. In any case. I made sure I had a little bullystick for her to chew on in her crate, and a little puppy kong, and some cream cheese to stuff in it. And, the day prior to the flight, Anna and Chispa and I walked around Enschede, Netherlands, Chispa in her Sherpa, getting used to the jostling. She seemed happy to look out at the world from the bag as long as she was on my shoulder and as long as I was moving. We took her to a restaurant for dinner the evening prior to the flight, and she sat in her bag quietly under the table while Anna and I ate, and while I waited for a phone call from USA Team Coach Nancy Gyes (hoping for that call, which I GOT!!)…the call that every team member hopeful anxiously waits for.

The hardest part of the trip really was the END. Chispa had to be in the bag, while I got antsier and antsier, standing in line for passport control. I knew she had to pee and poop. And I knew she'd fuss if I was standing still. And sure enough that's what happened. And the line took FOREVER. Double forever. And the CBP Officer, as expected, didn't understand the regulations, even though I showed him page after page after page. So I had to sign a confinement agreement. And now she is here with me, and although she seems to want to chomp on EVERYTHING, she clearly does not have rabies, is at no risk for communicating rabies, and is incredibly unlikely to CONTRACT rabies. All's well that ends well 🙂

Taco was just about as easy. His breeder was kind enough to give him cookies for going in to a sherpa bag before I took possession of him. When I arrived in Madrid, the breeder met me, with Taco, handed him over, as well as his paperwork, harness and leash, and some food and a toy, and we were on our way. I spent the night in a hotel room with Taco, and the next morning, we turned around and headed home. He also was able to hold it until we got to Atlanta, and, once through customs, he happily pottied and was fine for the rest of the trip back to Portland.

Do your homework, and be prepared for the worst, but also, know that it CAN work out!

I hope this helps you out if you're considering bringing home a puppy from Europe!

One year later

Fall Farm Dog

Going back and reviewing my videos, it seems that this time last year I was playing around with a mat as a foot target for the running dogwalk training. Here we are, a year later, doing some sequencing on the contacts. Nothing too fancy, other than working on dogwalk–>weaves, which is more of a weave pole problem than a dogwalk problem (although both have to be solid to pass muster!).

Timing obstacles doesn't really do much in the real world but it does provide a way to compare our progress to where we were at a past point in time, where we are compared to other dogs, etc. Having a 1.2 second dogwalk is kinda fun to brag on, but it doesn't really matter too much if we can't put it in sequence. Even so – brag: this first one clocked in at 1.18 even with a crummy approach by yours truly. Second one, best I can tell (based on head coming up at the end, it's pointed away): 1.18 again. Third, to the weaves: 1.84. Fourth: 1.82. Finally, 1.82. It's interesting to note the speed change when the weaves were put at the end of the dogwalk vs earlier, when it was just a jump, which she's more familiar with as an after-dw obstacle.

Bits and pieces, bits and pieces.

Age appropriate sequencing

Last Friday, before preparations for our first ever USDAA trial and 4th Oktoberfest trial went into hyperdrive, I managed to sneak some time in to finish up some pinwheel sequences with Chispa, as well as some contact training. No, she can't do fancy turns and such after the dogwalk or aframe yet. She can't even do those fancy turns and such PERIOD, let alone after a running contact. While I've started to work on landing side approaches with Chispa in bits and pieces, fancy stuff is nowhere near ready for sequencing. When I say “started to work on” I mean I've gone up to a jump set low, with some bacon and a clicker in hand, and have introduced the concept to her. I'm not keen on wild repetition with any behavior to start out with. I'd much rather teach it like a trick, let the dog think about it, puzzle it out, have fun solving a problem, get lots of cookies, and THEN when there is some fluency starting to develop, keep expanding the boundaries of the behavior. Crawl, walk, trot, run. There's an order to it.

As we leave the events of this past spring further and further behind (remember, surgery, all that?), and Chispa seems to be continuing normally, I *am* starting to think about long term agility. Maybe we will “make it” to those green green pastures someday. Maybe meaning, maybe *I* will be the limiting factor (well, more than usual). So, with that in mind, I've started to train some of the behaviors that I anticipate Chispa *may* need in a few YEARS. I'm still not in any hurry, because I don't anticipate her needing to employ these behaviors in a sequence for…years.

But, that doesn't mean I'm endlessly wrapping my 1.5 year old puppy (yes PUPPY) or working on crazy weave pole entries. Shoot, we're working on weaving twelve poles continuously at the moment. I just don't get the idea that young dogs MUST learn these things as young dogs or they won't learn them at all. There seems to be such a rush to skip over the basics. Nothing new, I suppose, it's kind of been that way for a while. I want understanding, not rote repetition. I want a teammate, not a robot. That takes time and understanding. I feel incredibly blessed to have Frodo to remind me of that even while Chispa and I are starting out. Frodo at this point knows so MUCH, and understands so much nuance that I never directly trained…and Chispa is very, very raw, but oh so fun.

Anyway, videos below. I'm shamelessly pleased with our pinwheels, and ecstatic with our contacts. It's a moment in time, a rung on the ladder, a step on the journey, and we're not settling in to or hunkering down to stay in this moment – we're moving on the moment we've mastered a thing, but it sure feels good to have mastered that thing as a step toward other things.

 

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Keeping it Novice

I'm a little bewildered at all of the people I see doing crazy 1000x wrap sequences with their young/Novice dogs, when I'm just working on pinwheels with Chispa. When I'm not feeling confident, I wonder that I'm behind, that I should be doing all that crazy spinning wrapping stuff with my 18 month old puppy (yes, still a puppy). But, that lasts about a nanosecond – there's really no need to do that with her when she still barely has the forward focus to get through a Novice AKC course. It's not like our learning as a team is going to stop and I need to cram that info in NOW OR NEVER. Crawl, then walk, then trot, then run. We'll get where we get, as my skill and her ability allow for.

So, with that in mind, here are some sequences we've been working on at home recently (you'll need to be logged in and a subscriber to view, because these sequences are part of the 2017 Agility Challenge September Handling Challenge).

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Labor Day Update

Chispa's best run of the weekend was on Monday, and she really had a fire lit under her little butt:

She presents challenge I've not had to deal with for a long time – the challenges unique to a young novice dog who really wants to go FAST 🙂 The last young dog I had like that was Solar, way back in 2008. Solar and I headed in to the ring in the Fall as well, and while I have some footage of our first foray in to the ring, there are a whole lot of runs I don't have on video – runs where I left the ring when he was too nuts to concentrate, runs where I stood still and watched him take all the obstacles in the ring without me, runs where I'd ask him to sit to see if his brain was still there, only to see that his eyes were spinning in his head.

Juno was a lot less confident as a youngster. Frodo was not a confident youngster. Chipper – not a confident youngster.

…and…Chispa. She doesn't lack for confidence, and her overarousal is hard to spot, because she doesn't dance around, or bark, or show many outward signs of being SUPER ready to rock and roll. In fact, in the run above, we'd just overcome (to her) a major disaster; she pooped, had a hanger-on, and decided she could in no way walk until I pulled it out for her. Then, the run above happened – it was like I lit a firecracker in her butt.

All in all, a good weekend, and this wasn't the only thrilling run – just the most entertaining!

Baby dog sequencing

I suppose I could be setting up sequences that are more novice in nature, but Chispa is going to get plenty of that in the actual novice ring, so I've been challenging myself to run her like the novice dog she is on the sequences I've been setting up to work on with Frodo. Here's what we worked on last night:

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Jump and Dogwalk training continues

Things are chugging along with Cheeseburger – we've taken a bit of a break from sequencing in the past week or so in order to devote our training time to contacts, weaves, and jump training. Here's a bit of where we're at:

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The Novice Cheeseburger

Last weekend, Chispa and I entered the Novice ring. It was AKC, Novice JWW, nothing too strenuous. Plus, it wouldn't have mattered what the courses were; our skills as a team are what they are – we're novices together. I was anxious all week leading up to the weekend. Did I make the right decision? Will this be a setback with Chispa physically? Are we ready? Is she ready?

Things went about how I expected in the ring – her obstacle focus was nonexistent compared to when at home, and her enthusiasm was doubled. Despite only taking a few obstacles on the first try, she was a lot of fun to run through our first flight:

And of course, there's the obligatory mash-up:

Well, in any case, Chispa came through the weekend A-ok. It was a good decision. I'd be lying if I said that the last few months weren't a punch to the gut (and the throat). I'm a competitor. I just am. And, a lot of my identity is wrapped up in being a competitor. So, having Frodo break *and* Chispa, in short order, has left me feeling like I am without identity. Hamstrung, really. Some will snort and some will minimize, others will probably lay shame down, but it is what it is, and I'm not ashamed to say it. It's who I am.

So, were we competitive? Heck to the no. I mean watch the video, we could hardly string two obstacles together. But it was so much FUN to be in the ring with that little nugget. Saturday's run earned us a sticker, thanks to the magic of AKC Novice rules, where you can qualify, and even place, with faults. Yes, my international friends, it's true. So, our little dirty Q in AKC Novice JWW, well, that meant an awful lot to me. Chispa didn't care, she had a blast in all three runs, and frankly, so did I. But the progress from run 1 to run 2…that was pure bliss. I felt better than in a long time.

Of course, Sunday, I pulled in to the fairgrounds, and when I hit gravel, Chispa got up from sleeping and started pacing the dogbox and staring at me as if to say she was ready for more. She's a pretty quick study, she acted like she knew where we were, and sure enough, she was pretty amped up. And, amped up Chispa is look-at-mom-a-lot Chispa.

This is all perfectly fine, perfectly normal, and perfectly awesome.

Best of all? None the worse for wear Monday morning. So, with that in mind, the next phase began…contact training!

Our next foray in to the ring is the beginning of September. I could go on and on, but really, all of THIS still applies 🙂

Trash Panda Update

I keep trying to start a blog post on Chispa – and I keep not being able to write anything. I don't really want to write about our difficulties, because in her mind, there is no difficulty worth spending any time on. She's still a happy-go-lucky puppy, although sometimes she is sad, but mostly, it's when I'm staring at her intently, wondering if I'm imagining lameness or if it's actually there. As you might guess, although she's had a few sore moments since her elbow arthroscopy ~9 weeks ago, it's mostly imagined. She wonders why I'm staring at her, why I'm treading as though on eggshells. Come play, she says!

And so, we have been playing. Knowing full well that this vessel will break, that really, at some point in the future, this vessel is already broken, I try my very hardest to treasure each and every moment with my little vessel of light and laughter. I make plans – fun matches, classes, Novice JWW. We train. We play. We hike. We swim.

Years ago, when I was training Solar, I was pretty motivated to be the best trainer I could possibly be. He motivated me, spurred me on – and my attendance at Bob Bailey's Chicken Camps was fresh on my mind. Every moment spent training together, I was on my best behavior. No repetition or attempt was wasted. I beat myself up for clicking at the wrong time with a behavior, or for missing something due to not paying attention. As a result, Solar and I accomplished some pretty amazing things, and enjoyed a lot of really special connected time together, in and out of the ring.

Cheeseburger (Trash Panda, Chispa, Cheepy, Cheeseburger, Rocket Raccoon) provides a somewhat different, but more important incentive to me to always be on my game. No jumping effort should be in vain. No training session should be attempted if I am not 100% in it, 100% aware and connected, all. the. time. With Solar, I was excited, I wanted to learn, I wanted to WIN, storm the world with my amazing Heart Dog.

Fast forward ten years – with Chispa…my challenges are numerous, but all within ME. She is good clay – she has the spark inside her. I can see it. I can feel it. It's there. I'm afraid to want to win with her, I'm afraid to even want to play with her. She's so special to me that I don't even want to share her anymore in a blog post, as though sharing my experiences with her will somehow diminish how much of Chispa I have for myself. With Solar, there really was no penalty for failure – we might not have been as successful a team if I wasn't motivated to be my best self as much of the time as possible, but even so, there was plenty of room for improvement on my part.

With Chispa, the penalties seem more severe. What if I ask her to do something, and she is willing, as always, and she gets hurt? Yes, this is possible with any dog, any time. But now it is on my mind constantly.

I probably will ease back in to writing about Chispa – I know there are people who are interested. I know that there will be people who have amazing puppies with similar issues, and it will be good for them to see a happier story, although who knows if this story will have a happy ending. She will likely leave this world before I do, and even though that's a long time off, probably, it makes me sad right now – and that's no way to spend my time around such a bright little creature. But, writing is therapeutic, and so here I am.

Thanks to those who wrote me privately over the past several weeks – your urging me to write is why this blog post exists, and why any future ones will exist 🙂

8

Hillbilly Hydrotherapy

In mid April, just two weeks prior to the AKC USA AWC Team Tryouts, Frodo and I went from being super prepared and ready to rock and roll to…rehab. Frodo suffered a traumatic tear of his CCL on a Thursday, April 13, and had a TPLO Friday, April 14. In the flurry of activity that followed, as well as me being shell shocked about the injury, the surgery, the rehab, and being knocked off that high place of being ready to rock and roll at tryouts, Chispa didn't poop for nearly a week and ended up at the emergency clinic herself. During this time, she had a persistent lameness that was troubling me. Xrays revealed it was not shoulder OCD – something nobody wants, but in the grand scheme of things is fixable. Further digging, and a CT scan revealed fragmented medial coronoid processes on both elbows. So, a month after Frodo's TPLO, Chispa had bilateral arthroscopy on her elbows, and fragment removal on the left elbow. The fragments were in situ on both elbows, and it took some prying to get the clinical (left) fragment out. Because of the difficulty on the left, and given that the right fragment, also in situ, did not seem to want to budge, the right elbow was left alone. No joint incongruency was detected in either elbow. I have no idea if she'll be able to do agility, but I suppose I will give it a go, and see where we end up. Frodo's prognosis is much clearer; he'll probably be back in action in just a few months, more energized than he's ever been before, and certainly, I'll be more eager than I've ever been to get back in the ring with him.

In the meantime, I have two dogs who need rehab. I live way out in the country, and have access to a lot of great information, so the only thing beyond that is to just do it. I'm not in to driving in to downtown anywhere to get dogs to an underwater treadmill, but I do recognize the importance and benefits to hydrotherapy, whether it be ice packs, heat packs, swimming, or walking in water (cold or warm). I have an appointment with a rehab specialist in Seattle mid-June, but until then, I'll be DIY-ing it with the information I've got.

If your'e curious as to the rehab protocol I'm following with Frodo (who is at the 6-week mark this week and has his follow up Xrays!!), it's a combination of these two:

Top Dog Health – TPLO Guide – This guide is a free download, and I also get weekly emails with videos of each exercise. I'm pretty impressed with how thorough it is. It's fairly conservative, and I've been moving a little faster than this guide spells out, but then again, Frodo was in top condition prior to the injury, not overweight, and I have access to a lot of fitness equipment and information – this guide as well as the next one is clearly aimed at a pet audience. I'm sure that veterinary professionals and rehab professionals are cringing right now, but I'm ok with that – and for sure you can reserve the right to blame my use of this and other DIY resources on any rehab failures we may encounter 🙂

MedVetForPets – TPLO Guide – I can't remember how I found this one, but it's also pretty thorough, and includes more exercises with a little faster progression. I like that I can look at the two together and get a rough idea of how to proceed.

Now, I recognize that these PDF files are not a substitute for an individualized rehab plan, and so, like I mentioned before, Frodo, Chispa, and myself will be heading up to Seattle in mid-June to spend some time with a rehab certified veterinarian who also does agility to get some plans for moving forward.

Hillbilly Hydrotherapy

That brings us to Hillbilly Hydrotherapy. With Frodo, since there was no previous ligament disease, and it was a traumatic event, his prognosis for healing is excellent. Getting back to full activity is mostly a matter of building back muscle, once the Tibia has healed. And, building back muscle to the point we were at prior to the incident will be determined by how much muscle wasting occurs while that Tibia is healing. So, I knew I wanted to get him walking in the water as soon as I could. I knew I wanted to be able to do it without driving an hour each way multiple times a week, daily if possible. With Solar, who had a soft tissue injury in 2014, I just used an inflatable above ground pool and walked in circles with him, but I didn't like how he could swing his rear out and pivot, rather than tracking with front and rear together.

When I saw this set up posted by somebody on FB, I knew I wanted to build something like it myself, with a few modifications. Here's my setup (click the image to enlarge):

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