Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cow Palace : You Gotta Have Your People

Since the yahoos - - - I mean the enthusiastic Ebbtide dog owners excluding Ann - - (referred hereafter as My People) -- were so adamant on participating at the 2009 Cow Palace show, they were summoned by the Queen -- I mean Ann -- to attend to Her Highness and the 5 Ebbtide dogs that were entered for the weekend. To keep Her People happy, Ann had specially designed grooming smocks for everyone to wear - thanks to our friends at Gaitway, Bonnie & Mo! With the snappy EBBTIDE emblazoned on the chest and individual names for the experienced grooming staff (keep working, Cathy B!), they were a picture of The Strong, The Proud, The Competent, The ....what the...?

Yeah, well, I was just hoping...Instead, left to right: Susan looking a little stressed; Trish, hmm - just there; Judi, wildly excited; and CathyB, who it looks like forgot her narcolepsy meds. PEOPLE! Can we just smile nicely for the camera??!!
Just like the dogs, it took my appearance to get things in order:

There. Maybe CathyB was too tired from all that ironing the day before? But...I'd say overall we look quite professional, don't you? Yeah, go ahead and hold that thought. Because this is the Real Team Ebbtide:

PEOPLE! Show some respect...(glad CathyB's meds kicked in)...I have to admit: I promised My People we would "go and have fun" at the Cow Palace. They like fun, My People. So do I. After almost 39 years showing dogs, I have to have fun when I go to shows...why go if you can't have fun??!! It certainly helped pass the time on the bench from 10 am to 5:30 pm on Saturday...especially since the colorful ribbons we won did not include those all important colors of blue or purple or purple/gold. But we happily applaud our more successful Aussie friends in their endeavors that day. We met lots of new people, including this young girl, who could easily qualify for membership on the Ebbtide team (see photo above for reference).
But look how nicely behaved those 4 eleven month old puppies are?!?! Good dogs. And of course, Mr. Spencer being an impeccable role model.

Interestingly, this weekend My People were heard grumbling that I "spoil Mr. Perfect JJ". Apparently, even though I am constantly picking up the pieces of Dog Owners With Good Intentions But Shoddy Disciplining Skills (ahem), I am not allowed even a little slack with JJ...here is incriminating evidence of #1 Assistant Judi caught in the act of taking JJ's toy away from him...

You are so busted, #1.
Later, My People were delirious with joy that JJ could show like the trooper I knew he was and come home with WINNERS DOG and that crazy 4-point major (read: Big Deal). Not to be outdone, CH Spencer CD, was then handed over to his owner, Mean Judi (above), to show in the Best of Breed class. With my impeccable instructions ("Just don't screw him up, Judi"), I sent them into the Best of Breed ring:
Judi: See how the person in front of you is SHOWING NECK??!!
I then continued to show JJ in Best of Breed. Things got a little blurry here...but check it out:

I'm thinking here "Wow - she's nice! How are we gonna beat HER??" (We didn't ;-) Congrats to Melissa and her Puppy Group 1 win, too! Yowza!
To our delight, Spencer & Judi were awarded the coveted purple & gold ribbon for BEST OF BREED ! Wow! My People were over the top!
Thanks to My People's great grooming skills, the balance of our dogs won :
Cali (Ebbtide As You Wish) was 2nd place both days;
Emmy (Ebbtide Handful of Wishes) was 3rd and 4th;
Beau (Ebbtide Wish On A Rainbeau) was 4th on Saturday
Way to go, puppies!!
Since Spencer was the Best of Breed winner, he advanced to the HERDING GROUP (with Ann handling) and showed beautifully to a 4th PLACE in the HERDING GROUP!! Thanks, GGKC, for the classy AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD sign in the group! Here's a fuzzy pic of Spencer & I out in the Group ring, free stacking to the judge, who is off to the left:

That nice silver bowl on the table? Not ours. It was won by the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Which reminds me of a funny moment: Susan and I listening to a well dressed, elegant woman tell us a story about a "Gorki". I was very good and didn't laugh - mostly because I thought it sounded like a great breed of Russian dogs. After the second time she said it, I had to say "Corgi - I think you mean Corgi". I couldn't let her sound silly all day...
Anyway, I'm seriously considering retiring from dog shows this week: Sunday's wins are going to be a hard act to follow...!
And for the record: We DID have fun. And not just because we won - maybe later I'll write about all that.
Or not...But just so you know: (1) You Gotta Have Your People and (2) You Gotta Have Fun.

Extreme Makeover - The Dog Show Episode

Imagine, if you will, a dog show person who is slightly addicted to HGTV. You know: Home and Garden TV channel? Although the lack of Garden is a crime and fodder for a future post.....but I digress...HGTV is home to endless home design, remodel, makeover and decorating shows. So it's not hard to imagine just what one slightly addicted frustrated home decorator dog show/gardener person might do in the slow gardening days of winter....

Here is the BEFORE shot of where we will display our dogs for the weekend of the Golden Gate Kennel Club (affectionately known as "The Cow Palace Show"):

What?!!?! Dark, dull AND dreary, you say??? hohohohoho - do not fear - Dog Show Bench Decorator is here!

All it takes is a little imagination and effort.

And a well-worn "Cow Palace" file, with detailed dimensions, calculations and secret website addresses. And about $400 (if my husband is reading this - $100). At least 5 shopping trips. At home. At least 1 more while I'm in San Francisco. Perhaps a shipment of fabric from Montana. Or two. And can you Rush that order? Frequent email exchanges between the Ebbtide Design Team. And design meetings. A sewing day . Photo shoots. Arriving one, maybe two days before the show starts. Did I say $400??? snort. Omigod. This woman is possessed.

Yes. Yes. Maybe I am...

And did I mention the generous folks of Golden Gate Kennel Club have now made the Bench Decorations a (shriek) Competition. One Hundred Dollars awarded to BEST DECORATED BENCH IN SHOW!!!!! ok - so maybe you're noticing the irony here, too...

Be that as it may, I have A Plan. And I will not be stopped. Even when Head Seamstress and Fabric Design Consultant Pam Michalek is sidelined due to a family emergency. nononono..... I will not be stopped. Even when #1 Assistant, Judi Scherrer, bails out of decorating day, citing some crazy-talk-thing : job-winery-website-deadline-its-our-paycheck-blahblahblah (sheesh - She needs to get her priorities straight!). I will not be deterred from creating the Benching Of My Dreams.

My Theme, you ask? Ah, thank you: Vintage Cowgirl. That's right CowGIRL. That's an important detail. But, wait, there's more. Old West Vintage Cowgirl. And it has to be comfy. "Comfy Old West Vintage Cowgirl"... yeah...yeah....

I arrive late Thursday with RV and a few materials (harhar). Slight glitch: where the bleep is my iron? ok - maybe we should just keep that our little secret.....but, to the rescue: Cathy Baird, owner of Ebbtide Wish On A Rainbeau "Beau" (and "Teka"). Armed with a cute dog, an iron, a bag of various cutting devices and her good humor, Cathy (hopefully not to her dismay) volunteers to "help" me on Friday set up the bench. And so we begin:

Cathy's skills at ironing press-on seam tape reach amazing heights. Ann performs magic with twine - yes, twine! Judi The Responsible Adult (zzzzzz) designs legendary posters. Even when the Evil Vendor tries to Thwart Our Plan by running over our ironing board, we persevere: We. Will. Not. Be. Stopped. We will give the Cow Palace the Mother Of All Dog Show Benches.

Yes we can.

A table for a photo album perhaps?

Just add 5 perfectly Western dogs to complete the room, err, I mean bench:

Left to right above: JJ, Emmy, Cali, Spencer and Beau.
Divine. Simply Divine.
Here's a closeup (below) of one of the Vintage Cowgirl Pillows. Oh yeah - and isn't that Emmy cute, too?

Big Beau gets the Big Pillow:

And this, faithful reader, is the last vignette of the Bench Of My Dreams, come true:

Cali, Emmy and JJ (age 11 months) are the perfect accessory to the Comfy Old West Vintage Cowgirl Bench.

Results? Results of the dog SHOW?? That's a whole 'nuther story.....stay tuned...

With apologies to Candace Olson, Karen McAloon and Barack Obama.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'til The Cows Come Home

If you were expecting this post to be about herding cows....sorry to disappoint. If you knew I was talking about San Francisco's Golden Gate Kennel Club's annual benched AKC dog show, you qualify for the Einstein Award. Yes sirreee folks: it's Cow Palace time!

How to start the love/hate relationship with this show? Although many of us love the only benched show in California (one of 2 on the West Coast!), it doesn't come easy: Two days of sitting from 10 am to 5 pm with your dogs un-crated; meeting and greeting thousands of spectators attending one of San Francisco's most loved winter events; the answering for the 10, 761st time "It's an Australian Shepherd". Even though your sign says: Ebbtide AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS. sigh. And remember to do it with a smile every time.

Truly the ultimate test in patience and graciousness. How did I do with that? Mostly good...I think.

If only I was as affable and obliging as my dogs. Ebbtide dogs have always believed all those people come to the Cow Palace to see THEM - no - to PET them. And so we go.

This show has traditionally been an entries limited show. Entries close waaayyy back in October. Right AFTER we got back from the ASCA Nationals in Las Vegas. Since we had so much fun in Vegas, the Team insisted we "take the puppies". The puppies being from the Famous ;-) Ebbtide Wish Litter : CH Tri-Ivory Make A Big Wish x CH Ebbtide Fern. ok. great. Four eleven month-old pups on the bench. yahoo. (For the record: Yes. Yes I am nuts.) And, of course, Ch. Ebbtide Fine Fellow CD "Spencer" would go, too.

To be a role model to the youngsters.....
SO, what puppies are going?
1. Ebbtide Careful What You Wish "JJ" black tri male
2. Ebbtide As You Wish "Cali" blue merle female, owned by Judi Scherrer and Ann Atkinson
3. Ebbtide Wish On A Rainbeau "Beau" blue merle male, owned by Cathy & Dave Baird & Ann Atkinson
4. Ebbtide Handful Of Wishes "Emmy" blue merle female, owned by Pam Michalek and Ann Atkinson (below)

All the pups are entered in the 9-12 month puppy class, except Cali will be shown in Bred By Exhibitor class on Saturday.

But it's not quite that simple.....first, you must decorate...

Friday, January 16, 2009

How I Almost Got Myself Killed At A Dog Show

OK, OK - I'll tell you what I was thinking: CH. Ebbtide Fine Fellow, aka "Spencer" is working so nice in Novice B obedience - I'll take a video for everyone to see!! Judi will be so proud! And all the world can see now, what a great dog he really is!!
Here's my story : It's Day 3 of Spencer's AKC obedience debut. He's already won a 1st place and a 3rd place, scores 196 1/2 and 197 (out of 200). Tough judges, nice works. Very impressive. I am proud of this team! I had actually left the showgrounds the night before (2 + hours from home), and drove back down again that morning, JUST to get this on video. OK, and see Judi & Spencer do well again. OK - you're right: I don't have much of a life beyond dog shows...Anyway - so there we are, new batteries in camera, a plan to keep Spencer from knowing I'm there (he loves me - I feed him cookies in the ring every time I show him - which is alot and how he got his CH. For the record: I love him, too). What was I saying? Oh. So, I'm outside the obedience building, so I won't distract him, and just as he goes in, I sneak in the building and duck into a far corner. I turn on the camera. This is where I find out my camera (which I normally use for still shots, but it takes little videos) will NOT zoom in while on "video". oh no. OH NO! You may notice in the first video, the ever so slight movement of me, tiptoeing closer to the ring (can you say "Bunny Cam"?). Then the ring steward decides to stand RIGHT IN FRONT of me. Tiptoe tiptoe. Now the table is in the way. I back into the narrow alcove of the doorway and make myself tiny - in my head, anyway. Through the On Leash Heeling, Spencer does great, even if my video doesn't catch his work - but, you be the judge:

Note how happy Judi looks at the end of this segment. She didn't notice that slight head turn of Spencer's, right towards me (gasp!).

But all is not lost (yet): Shall we proceed to the Heel On Leash, Figure 8? Smokin' work!! Spencer has perfect attention heeling, straight sits and Judi's footwork is smooth as silk! And I, yes, me: the humble, well-meaning, nicest breeder and mentor ANYONE could ask for - have immortalized it forever on video. Note how she confidently reaches down and unsnaps the leash, in preparation for the remaining three off-leash individual exercises. Watch again, and hear her lovely, lilting, soft voice calmly command Spencer through that mesmerizing work:

Ok - the leash has been removed. But we're confident in this dog. He has already won this class this weekend. The sky is the limit!

But wait! About this time, an unseen, familiar, yet, strangely, mind-altering, scent has wafted slowly, slowly, completely, into the vacuoles of Spencer's nostrils. First the left side....then the right side. He recognizes that smell: It's ANN!! Wonderful Ann. Happy Ann. Ann-who-loves-me-maybe-more-than-Judi-does-Ann! Ann who always feeds me nice cookies when I'm in the ring! Does she need to pet me now? Does she need to feed me COOKIES NOW?!

Watch it again and notice these little nuances: Judi man-handling Spencer's head so he WON'T look at me; Judi looking straight at ME - yes, yes, those ARE death rays she sent to me through her eyes (but I ducked and they missed); that not-so-lilting tone of her voice at "STAY"; AND, is it just me, or do her arms, when she turns to face Spencer, look like they want TO STRANGLE ME?? Yes. Yes. I. Think. They. Do.

You may notice there are no more video clips of the Heel Off Leash (very nice) or the Recall (also lovely). Or so I'm told. You see, after the Stand, I saw, yes I saw, how death could find me so fast, in the form of a handler who has seen her beloved mentor almost single-handedly destroy the obedience work of the dog they both love. Wisely, and as quiet as a mouse, I backed out the door and ducked under the window and sat on the ground, shaking my head and wondering "How could I be SO STUPID?" Fortuitously, at about that time, I nice lady also exited the building and stood there - looked down at me huddled behind the door. I whisper "Is the dog still in the ring?" pleezeohpleeze say YES, or I will die right here. Perkily (!!) she says "The Aussie? Yes." thankyouthankyouthankyou "How is he doing?" I manage to murmur. "Good" she responds. "Really good??" I dare to ask. "Yeah" she offers. Feeling confident, I ever so s-l-o-w-l-y rise up to the window, just to the bottom of eyes, and watch him zip across the ring on the recall. But my blood runs cold and I drop back to the ground, lest he recognize me one last time.

They say he did a brilliant job. They say his score was a brilliant 197. They say he won 2nd place. They say he qualifies for a Front and Finish Obedience Platinum Award. They say he might be up there in national rankings.

But all I know is this: Bless you Judi Scherrer, bless you. Bless you for not murdering me that fateful day. Bless you for not leaving my children orphans. Bless you for ensuring the world will not be Ebbtide-less. Bless you for only delivering a well deserved tongue-lashing. A lesser competitor would not have been so generous.

But, hey! Aren't these videos nice? Did I forget to tell you they are on YouTube, too?


Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Dogs Like To Do

Today was another warm day - 78 degrees! Since we are currently out of the market lamb business, I decided to transform a summer lamb pen into a nice winter dog pen/activity area:

I added some clean straw to cover the potentially muddy spots (when/if it rains). My dogs have always thought that new straw beds are better than people beds! Plus, you don't get kicked out of them. The beauty of this pen (besides the obvious snacking potential...) is that the dog's can't ruin anything. No rare plant casualties, no Bad Dog digging, no inadvertant trampling of a seedling as they race around a corner. No Ann yelling : "GET OUT OF MY FLOWERS!".
Life is good. Dogs can be dogs.

It also is a natural observing spot: it allows the dogs to watch me in the kitchen, see who comes out of the front door, back door or office, see who comes through the front gate, keep an eye on the pasture and a quick glance covers the entire yard (Where are those cats?). Watchdog heaven. Surprisingly - no barking. While I was here, anyway. Soft, black pungent earth full of all kinds of smells and tastes. Just asking to be excavated. And so they did. With no reprimand. Even encouraged.
Life is good on the hill. Unless your Maddie - who jumps out and hangs with mom "Finally, just you and I - alone."

So here's the view I get when I look out while washing dishes - yeah, you're right - while I'm daydreaming at the kitchen sink:

If you look very carefully, you can see JJ & Fern at the top center of the photo. Trust me. It was better full size. Actually, I was impressed at how clean my windows look ! All is not lost faithful reader: You can click on the photo and see the very large size photo: clearly showing Fern & JJ on lookout. I'm such a techno-wizard...scary, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Story About Ebbtide

Current residents L to R: V.V. at age 10 mos, Fern age 9, JJ age 5 yrs taken in March 2013 (Update March 2017: V.v. now almost 5 yrs, Fern almost 13 yrs & JJ age 9).

There have been repeated whinings that I don't have a website. This is one woman's answer....
Ebbtide Australian Shepherds are located in Cloverdale, California in Sonoma County. I started showing Aussies in 1970: I started competing primarily in obedience and some conformation. I bred my first litter in 1973, and have continued to breed approximately one litter a year. I was 17 years old and lived in Saratoga, CA with my family when I started in Aussies. Over the years, I have put many Championship titles (ASCA & AKC), Obedience titles (CD, CDX, UD) and herding titles (STDd, OTDd, STDs) on my and other dogs I have trained and handled. Most of the obedience titles were earned by dogs that were also High In Trial winners, as well as a few High Score herding awards (in the 1980's). My conformation dogs have earned many Best of Breed, Group and Nationals awards, and one AKC Best In Show BBX winner and continue to do so. I personally handle and show in conformation, obedience, and hope to be back in the herding arena in the unknown future and, possibly, agility and Rally. The dogs and I also enjoy: camping, traveling, hiking, swimming, snow play and hanging out with friends - dogs and people!
I also judge conformation dog shows for ASCA as a Senior Breeder Judge and am licensed to judge ASCA obedience. I am on the "slow track" for my AKC judges license..lol. I have been honored to judge at 3 ASCA National Specialties, all across the USA, many provinces in Canada and two judging trips to Europe, so far.

I am fortunate to have had and currently have quite a few Ebbtide dogs in wonderful competition homes that have accumulated many national rankings in Conformation ("Champions"), Agility, Obedience, Rally, Herding, Nosework and have also won High In Trial and other awards. , easy to train Many, many thanks to all the Ebbtide owners who love and compete with these dogs, and make us look so good to the masses ;-) And to all the Ebbtide dogs "just" being wonderful family companions - I treasure these people and dogs no less. Because I believe: It's all about the dog, and what is best for them. I am not looking to produce X amount of Champions or X amount of High In Trial winners: I want to see great ambassadors for the breed I love so much and people enjoying their Aussies as much as I have, in a happy, well-matched home for each and every dog I produce. Those are pretty lofty goals right there.

Genetic health clearances, pedigree research and producing a dog with a high desire to please who lives easily in many situations is tops on my list. I don't "do" kennel dogs: we live on 3.3 acres, all fenced, and the dogs live as part of our family, with house privileges and lots of exercise time as they meander and patrol the one acre area that is theirs to explore around the house. All dogs get herding time on sheep. I do not breed specifically for a super high drive/high energy dog - it's just not the kind of dog I personally want to live with 24/7. But I have produced dogs that could be considered high drive. What I enjoy most is an easy to train, intelligent dog with a high desire to please, very biddable, athletic, intelligent, healthy AND is structurally correct and pretty to look at, hence: "Performing ..... Beautifully since 1970".

Our current resident dogs are: AKC/ASCA CH Ebbtide Fern "Fern"; and her son, AKC/AKC CH Ebbtide Careful What You Wish, "JJ" (both Eukanuba-qualifying conformation dogs - hoping to get busy with them and put some performance titles on both!), and ASCA CH Ebbtide No TIme To Lose "V.V.".  I also co-own numerous Ebbtide dogs that live with generous owners who allow me the privilege of using these dogs in my breeding program.  Other animals that live mostly in harmony with the Aussies include: 2 cats and 5 Katahdin/Dorper/Barbados mix sheep for herding training. I am am married to Dave, and have two sons, Marshall, 24 and Emmett, 33. Though they don't share my enthusiasm for canine competition, they do love and appreciate the dogs that live here, and both boys were instrumental with the socialization of the puppies when they lived at home.  A litter of pups usually means an increase in visits back home from them ;-)

    I hope all our wonderful Ebbtide puppy owners will return for a visit (real visit - not just virtual!). If you would have told me 47 years ago that showing dogs would lead to such amazing, kind, funny, generous, caring, and genuine friendships with families that now span 2 generations, I would never have believed you. But, hey, I was a teenager back then...