Penny is a super-fluffy, black and tan pupper. Her coloring is in the classic Rottweiler pattern, although her resemblance to Rottweilers ends there. She looks much more like a German Shepherd, especially in her face. But her tail is definitely from somewhere else - it's super long (especially for a dog) and the fur is very long and fan-like. Her long fur is fairly soft, and the feathering behind her front and back legs is quite a burr magnet. She also grows really long fur from between her toes that I have to trim back every few months so we can actually see her feet. Her fur overall has gotten longer and longer as she's gotten older, and now hangs down quite low around her underside. Her long fur really hides her real body shape, and when she gets wet, she looks so sad and scrawny. Penny weighs about 60 pounds and is about 22 inches high at the shoulder.
Penny came to us from Smiley Dog Rescue, a dog rescue group based in Oakland (and now, sadly, out of business). We met her and her foster mom at Cal State Hayward (oops, I mean East Bay). There was a Flyball tournament going on, and, conveniently, she was there to watch, and was willing to bring along Penny (then called "Ophelia"). So, after walking her and Pablo around together for a bit, we made our decision. Penny came home with us right then, Sunday, August 14, 2005. She was about 5 months old at the time, so we guesstimated her birthday at April 1, 2005.
But, this wasn't the first time that we had met Penny. We first met her at the East Bay SPCA Adoptathon on July 30, 2005. We had to rush from a Fun Match that was being held at Cal State East Bay, where I had Pablo entered in Rally Advanced for a leg, and Utility for practice, all the way to Oakland before she left for the day. We made it, with about 15 minutes to spare (and finding parking was a challenge in and of itself). Poor Penny was sick as a dog - no, really, she was very, very ill. She just wanted to sleep. She would walk a couple steps to the water dish, get a drink, and then collapse right there, poor thing. She had come down with a bad case of kennel cough, and it had given her a bad respiratory infection. She was on the road to recovery, but she was such a pitiful sight.
We learned from the rescue people that this little puppy had been picked up as a stray at about four months old and was in the Contra Costa County Animal Services shelter in Martinez, when they pulled her out. The shelter people said she "had food issues", but how can you think a little four-month old puppy has incurable food issues? The people who fostered her said they never had a problem taking rawhides, pig ears, and the like away from her. As an aside, once she came to live with us, we did see some food guarding issues (Penny, you really think the cat wants to steal your Greenie?!?), but they were easily overcome with just some exchanges for hot dogs.
We informed the rescue group that we would be out of town on vacation for the next week, and they said they usually didn't hold dogs (they worked on a first-come-first-served basis), but since she still had to finish recovering from her illness, and also get spayed, they thought it would work out ok, especially since it was just one week. At this point, they weren't sure who had filled out an adoption application for her (that first-come-first-served thing again), and said they would call my cell phone early the next week (while we were on vacation) when they figured it out.
I got the call on Monday, and after a bit of phone tag, I got in touch with the rescue person, who said we were first in line for Ophelia (that's what they were calling her), but we needed to have a home visit before she could come home with us. The home visit was subsequently scheduled for the following week, once we had gotten back from vacation. After a re-scheduling or two, we had the home visit, and passed without a problem, which just meant we had to arrange a time and place to meet Penny's foster mom and see if she and Pablo would be ok together, now that she was no longer sick, and if so, bring her home. After a few emails back and forth, we settled on the very convenient Flyball tournament at Cal State, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I had initially found Penny on Petfinder. I had been browsing the listings for some time, looking for just the right pup or young dog to bring into our lives. I was mainly looking for dogs one to two years old, but would take a puppy, if the right one came along. When I saw the description for an "Ophelia", it looked perfect! Plus, she was cute as a button in her pictures (I mean, so incredibly adorable you just can't stand it!). Here's what the description said:
"Ophelia is a 4 month old Shepherd mix puppy. She is very friendly and outgoing. Ophelia is good with other dogs and great with people. This girl is bright and eager to please. In fact she is so bright she needs to have someone who will work and train her. Ophelia is fluffy and one of the sweetest things on four legs! If you would like to meet Ophelia, please fill out an adoption application."
Just what I was looking for! A dog who wanted to be trained! So I filled out the adoption application right away, so that I could find out more about her. It was shortly after this that I found out about the Adoptathon and decided to make every effort to meet her. And it was a good thing, too, since she turned out to be such a great puppy and grew into my wonderful and super special Sweet P.
Since we had never raised a puppy before, and most of what I'd heard about puppy antics was not good (chewing everything in sight - including people, having crazy amounts of insatiable energy, not being able to "hold it" for very long, jumping up on people, etc., etc.), I was rather nervous about being able to adequately care for a puppy. But, as it turned out Penny was a terrific puppy. She only chewed on her own toys (except for a few minor infraction wherein she chewed on her tether leash and chewed a small corner off one of our blankets). Right from the start, Penny rarely even jumped up on people, and now will only do so if really, really excited ("visitors! did someone say visitors!"). She had a few tinkle accidents in the house, but quickly learned to ring the bell to go out, and generally to hold it (much faster than I remember Pablo learning). And the best part - she isn't a bottomless energy pit. She sleeps most of the day, just like Pablo. And when she isn't sleeping, she's happy to chew on a toy. Pablo has been a great help by playing with her. It's a good way for them both to burn off some of the morning zoomies. Pulling on the leash has been an ongoing problem for the go-go-go Penny, who does not like to slow down, but a front-clip no-pull harness helped tremendously with walks.
After our, well, rather bad initial experience of introducing Pablo to the kitties, I was understandably quite nervous about bringing in another dog. Would they hide under the bed for another week? Would she also want to eat the kitties, as Pablo had initially? As it turned out, she basically ignored the kitties. This, and also probably some experience with our other doggie visitors, gave the kitties great confidence. So, even though Penny has matured a bit and now thinks that kitties might be great fun to play with (as she repeatedly play-bows at Cammy to try to engage her), Cammy will stand her ground and repeatedly swat Penny in the face (Penny thinks this is a grand game, for some strange reason). Kirby the cowardly would even not head for the hills at first sight of her. But he didn't exactly stand his ground either. At least he felt comfortable enough to hang out in the same room as Penny, even sometimes chilling on my lap while she was right below him on the floor.
Aside from thinking the kitties wanted to steal her chew treats (and growling at them from across the room) when she was a puppy, Penny has gotten along great with the kitties for the most part. She did act a bit obsessively when we first set Phoebe up in her kitten habitat - sticking her nose in the bars of the x-pen, licking, and whining - but that only lasted a couple of days. When Phoebe first felt brave enough to venture out, Penny behaved herself very well. Several years later, when Hairy Pawter came home, she barely seemed to notice him in his kitten habitat, and was much quicker to accept him into the house (even though he was absolutely terrified of the "giant monsters").
Penny has been the absolutely barkiest dog we've had. She is uninterruptibly barky. If she is barking at the door, she will not stop. You can call her away (if you can call her away), and she will bark the whole way back to you. Pablo almost never barked. Freya barks, but if you call her she will come and quietly eat cookies. Penny, if she comes at all, will bark. Between. Every. Cookie. In addition to the doorbell, she also goes off whenever she hears the garage door opener, any delivery truck driving by, the mail truck, jingly dogs walking down the street, or sees anyone/anything in the park behind our house. At least she's stopped barking at doorbells on the TV.
Penny was not so fond of the crate when we first brought her home. She was a little reluctant to go in for the night, and whined a bit the first few nights (even though she is right near the bed where we were sleeping, and Pablo was also sleeping nearby). Poor Pablo got nervous and left his bed whenever she would cough (she was still getting over her kennel cough, which was exacerbated by the anesthesia from the spay). We ignored her whining, and she came to accept that the crate is where she slept. Then she started chewing on her blanket in the morning, while we were getting ready, so she lost her blanket privileges for a good month or so. Going in the crate in the daytime was another story all together. She whined and barked when she went in, even though she was left with some treats. We continued to ignore her, and also upped the tastiness quotient of the treats (mmm, peanut butter hot dog surprise!).
After a little while, she would run into her crate when she saw a yummy ball or dinner ball. And it was very, very difficult to get her back out again (for instance, when she needed to go out and potty still). It was actually really cute to see her figure it out. She also learned to ignore the treat ball waiting for her on top of her crate. One time, when we went out, I hid her treat ball on top of the closed lid of the toilet seat (I like to hide them around to give the pups something to do while we're gone). When we came home, she kept running into the bathroom. I couldn't figure out what was up, until I followed her in there, and found her untouched treat ball on the toilet lid! I couldn't believe she generalized treat balls on top of her crate to treat balls on top of a toilet lid! What a good girl! (And of course I gave her the treat ball.)
Penny has been good about riding in the car right from the get-go. She was initially a bit reluctant to jump in without bribery, but she quickly learned to hop right in. She rode in the back seat (of a sedan) or cargo area (of a wagon) wearing a properly-fitted doggie seat belt for her first few years. Now she rides in her crate in the back of my mini van whenever we go somewhere with pups. The crates are strapped down with cargo straps over the top and hooked to the bottom of the front, and also pushed up against the middle row of seats in the back, which is as secure as I could figure out how to make them. She loves going in her crate in the car. She loves going anywhere! She rides nicely in the car, and also hangs out nicely in her crate when it isn't her turn. She also feels that the crate in the car is her personal "safe place", which is where she wants to be whenever we have some scary noises going on, like fireworks or the odd thunder storm.
Speaking of fireworks, poor Penny is absolutely terrified of them. We have to be really careful around the 4th of July and New Year's Eve and try to make sure she is possibly medicated and somewhere she will be comfortable. Unfortunately, people like to make the 4th of July into a season around here, where we get fireworks for about a month around the holiday, which makes things very unhappy for poor Penny. If it's not too hot, we let her go in her crate in the mini van. Failing that, she likes to hide in the half bath (no windows) with the fan on for white noise. She gets so scared she will be shaking. It's really hard to see her that way, knowing there's not really anything I can do for her (she is decidedly not interested in food). She seems to have gotten worse the older she is, too, unfortunately.
I started clicker training Penny right from day one. Having learned from working with Pablo, I started her off right away working for her breakfast and dinner. It's so fun to "see the light bulb go off" when she figures something out. I still remember when I was teaching her "stand" just with shaping and she first figured out that it was standing still that got the cookie. She would do a little steppy-step with her feet and then stop expectantly. It was so cute, and so cool to see the gears turning as she figured it out. Penny is a pretty quick study, and usually figures out what I'm trying to shape her to do quickly and with gusto.
Penny doesn't do anything half way. She throws herself into any task with joy and a zest for life that's infectious. "Why walk, when you can run?", she seems to say. At least, she does as long as she's not worried about something like fireworks. Penny quickly learned most of the tricks that I had taught Pablo. She also learned a few of her own, like "Sad" (head on the ground in a down), so I could ask "Are you sad?" and she would put her head down. Super cute, but the waggy tail doesn't help sell the sadness. She also learned to rotate her rear around an object her front feet were on (perch) in both directions. The first direction I free shaped pretty easily, but then we got totally stuck trying to get the other direction. I tried numerous things, but what finally got the idea across was using a target stick to show her what I wanted. Once she figured it out, she would go as quickly in either direction as possible.
Penny, of course, also knows lots of general manners, like don't jump on people, wait before going out the door (this one has some safety ramifications - think dog bolting out front door), don't bark at every little thing (we're still working on that one), stay out of the kitchen, ask to go out (by ringing the bell), and so on. She has also figured out her own way to tell us when she needs something, like if a cookie rolled out of reach under the sofa or if she wants to go in the crate in the car to hide. She will keep going back to the spot (the sofa or the door to the garage) and looking at us expectantly until we notice. Then, you just have to ask what she wants and she'll get even more waggy and excited. She's such a smarty pants!
Here is Penny's list of tricks. Pictures will be coming eventually!
My first goal for Penny was to pass the CGC test, so after we'd had her for five months or so, I signed her up for a CGC class with a test at the end. We practiced a lot and in March, at 11 months old, she passed the CGC test. Pablo was still competing at this time, so she tagged along to a lot of fun matches (where he was going for legs under the MBDCA rules). I started signing her up to go into the Novice obedience ring where we would do an exercise and then play or she'd get a bunch of cookies so she would start to learn that being in the ring meant fun stuff. The only downside was having to lug her big, heavy metal crate around because I didn't trust her not to chew out of a soft-sided crate. She was doing well, so by the fall we started going for her Rally Novice title (also with MBDCA). It was at the MBDC of CA specialty that October where I learned she was incapable of functioning when Dad was right over there! After that, Dave was banned from coming to events where Penny was entered, which he honestly was not terribly upset about. This is why there are so many fewer videos of Penny in competition than Pablo - I had lost my camera man.
Penny went right along learning more skills and earning more titles, finishing off her MB-CDX just before she turned three. A few months after that, everything was turned upside down after my daughter was born. Suddenly, we didn't have time for so much training any more - we barely had time to sleep! We still tried to keep working on Utility exercises, but it was more like "ok, let's do one down signal with your dinner in a kibble ball behind you, and me at the other end of the hallway." "Yay, you did it, you get your dinner!" And that was the extent of training for a good while. Although, it was during this time that I started teaching both dogs to do their own nails with a scratchy board, when I would occasionally have a little time, like during a nap.
This style of training made me discover that Penny loves running to her whole dinner as a sort of jackpot, and I started using it in training other things. It was especially useful where I needed to give her a more positive association with the exercise, like with the Utility articles. Penny really struggled with this one. She detested picking up the metal article (no option for wood at the time, or I totally would have dropped metal articles like a ton of bricks). She forgot what she was doing if there was any sort of vague distraction (like if we were doing articles in grass). She would run out to the pile, sniff a little, then stand there staring off into space. She was not in a good place with articles. So I started having her find one article in the living room, then get her whole dinner. Then we did this with the metal one until she would happily run out, find it, and bring it back every time. Then, at some point I started increasing the difficulty of distraction at the pile by putting secure (but with holes) containers of food out near the pile, then in the pile. Then we graduated to her whole dinner, in an open bowl, in the middle of the pile. If she found the right article, she would get sent back to eat her "cookies".
We also started taking the articles on the road, and for those times she would get an even more awesome reward if she found the right article on the first try: a whole (small) can of wet cat food. If she didn't find it on the first try (or froze at the pile or whatever), we would just try again and when she found it she would still get her whole dinner for just finding the one article. At some point I also discovered she was much better with the leather article first (Pablo always did the metal one first), so when we started doing two articles for "all the cookies", I would do leather then metal, so she could start out with the easier one and then get the big jackpot for bringing back the harder one.
Utility was super tough. Every exercise (except possibly the moving stand and exam) provided some sort of challenge that had to be overcome. Changing positions at a distance on signals only often resulted in a frozen dog. Even heeling had its own set of challenges for my super sniffy dog (I swear she is part German Shepherd and part Beagle!). From the time she was about six months old or so, her sniffer turned on and it was incredibly difficult for her to ignore any smells. Working in even slightly smelly environs was a constant challenge. Articles were there own unique and special challenge. Gloves had marking challenges, and more worry about going to the wrong one. Go-outs were often crooked (going to the pole where the glove was). The directed jumping wasn't much of a problem because we did a lot of practicing that in the park when she was coming back from fetching a tennis ball. I had the jumps set up way more spread out then they would be in the ring, and she would be coming back from much farther away. I would send her over a jump as she came back, and if she took it she got some cookies and then another ball throw. If not, she just got another ball throw.
We worked on the signals with the magic of the cookies by putting her whole dinner right behind her, walking 40 feet away, then doing the signals, and sending her to them after she did the whole chain (eventually - we worked up to it one signal at a time). We also worked in more and more distracting places, like outside the grocery store or dog park, always trying to work where she could be successful and build more confidence. We worked on the sniffing during heeling with a variety of techniques, including gradually going to more smelly places to work, letting her sniff as a reward for nice focus, and using acclimation sniffing around the ring areas as much as possible. We also used the Control Unleashed "go sniff" technique to wait for her to make the decision to disengage from sniffing. "Get Focused" rapid fire treats also helped a lot with focusing, even though that came much later. Nose work also helped her learn to stay on task and ignore other smells, to a certain extent. We worked on the gloves in the park, by using frisbee throws after a correct glove retrieve. We also practiced in the back yard by making the glove I was going to send her to hidden (in some tall grass, or a depression) and having the other two gloves visible. Learning to go where I was pointing and trusting there was something out there, rather than to what she could already see, helped a lot. We worked on go-outs by teaching her a better mark using blue painter's tape. I would put it up on anything, and then send her to it. Eventually, I got rid of the tape and just sent her straight out to a variety of objects we came across on our walks (light poles, fence posts, etc.). I also would take the gloves on our walks, and in little various cul-de-sacs I would put them out and have her fetch one, then send her out so something straight ahead, to work on the "corner where I got the glove is where I go out to" problem.
It took a few years of working on these things, then occasionally entering an MBDC of CA event to see where we stood, before things finally came together and she finished her MB-UD. While we were doing all the training for that, APDT Rally (later WCRL Rally) came to our area. I was hooked from the get-go. The exercises in the higher levels were so much more challenging and interesting than the AKC/MBDCA-style exercises (things like a retrieve, signals lite, directed jumping lite, drop on recall - fun!). We started with the first trials in October of 2009, and both Pablo and Penny earned their RL1s that weekend. I decided two days of two trials with two dogs plus baby at home was too much, so for a long while we only would do one day of trials. Initially, I only wanted to get through an RL3, but after I got there I decided it was too much fun to leave entirely. So we started going for the championship titles, with my new ultimate goal the ARCHMX, which was a new title and required 10 triple-Qs in Level 1, 2, and 3 in one trial. We are in an area where APDT/WCRL Rally is not very common, with only about three to four trial weekends per year, and for most of Penny's career we continued to do only do one day of each weekend. But, when it was time to go for the ARCHMX title, I decided we'd try to go out with a bang, and entered both days of each trial weekend, which was 12 Rally runs per weekend. We finished the title that calendar year. Penny had an awesome career in WCRL Rally, with only one NQ in 92 total entries (and that one was in her first attempt at an RL3 leg, and I pulled her off the jump so she went around instead of over). Here's her whole APDT/WCRL Rally record:
APDT/WCRL Summary Statistics
|Total Level 1 Qs||26|
|Total Level 2 Qs||35|
|Total Level 3 Qs||27|
|Total Veterans Qs||3|
|Total 1st Places||69|
|Total 2nd Places||10|
|Total 3rd Places||7|
|Total 4th Places||1|
|Total 5th Places||1|
|Total Perfect Scores (210)||59|
|APDT/WCRL All Trial Data|
|Oct 03, 2015||2||Veterans A||Y||210||1||1:28.12|
|Oct 03, 2015||1||Level 3 B||Y||205||1||3:28.87|
|Oct 03, 2015||1||Veterans A||Y||207||2||1:15.00|
|May 02, 2015||1||Veterans A||Y||210||1||1:16.09|
|May 02, 2015||1||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||2:33.91|
|Aug 03, 2014||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:58.75|
|Aug 03, 2014||2||Level 2 B||Y||209||1||1:52.31|
|Aug 03, 2014||2||Level 1 B||Y||208||1||1:59.60|
|Aug 03, 2014||1||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:51.68|
|Aug 03, 2014||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:44.47|
|Aug 03, 2014||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||3||1:34.41|
|Aug 02, 2014||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:59.99|
|Aug 02, 2014||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:38.47|
|Aug 02, 2014||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:26.37|
|Aug 02, 2014||1||Level 3 B||Y||209||1||2:04.06|
|Aug 02, 2014||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||2:02.03|
|Aug 02, 2014||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:40.09|
|May 04, 2014||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:54.00|
|May 04, 2014||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:42.79|
|May 04, 2014||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:42.53|
|May 04, 2014||1||Level 3 B||Y||201||2||2:18.10|
|May 04, 2014||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:53.22|
|May 04, 2014||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|May 03, 2014||2||Level 3 B||Y||205||1||2:06.03|
|May 03, 2014||2||Level 2 B||Y||204||4||2:01.94|
|May 03, 2014||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:49.33|
|May 03, 2014||1||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:43.13|
|May 03, 2014||1||Level 2 B||Y||209||2||1:47.23|
|May 03, 2014||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:30.09|
|Feb 23, 2014||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||2:08.87|
|Feb 23, 2014||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||2:08.28|
|Feb 23, 2014||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:41.56|
|Feb 23, 2014||1||Level 3 B||Y||209||1||2:23.52|
|Feb 23, 2014||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||2:03.81|
|Feb 23, 2014||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:42.59|
|Feb 22, 2014||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||2:00.31|
|Feb 22, 2014||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:49.88|
|Feb 22, 2014||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:55.88|
|Feb 22, 2014||1||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||2:17.41|
|Feb 22, 2014||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:54.19|
|Feb 22, 2014||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1||1:50.65|
|Dec 07, 2013||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:34.88|
|Dec 07, 2013||2||Level 2 B||Y||207||3||1:32.62|
|Dec 07, 2013||1||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:50.94|
|Dec 07, 2013||1||Level 2 B||Y||200||3||1:28.97|
|Oct 05, 2013||2||Level 3 B||Y||209||1||2:00.19|
|Oct 05, 2013||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:31.53|
|Oct 05, 2013||1||Level 3 B||Y||209||1||2:07.00|
|Oct 05, 2013||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:40.00|
|May 11, 2013||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:50.75|
|May 11, 2013||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||2:08.35|
|May 11, 2013||1||Level 3 B||Y||207||2||2:14.25|
|May 11, 2013||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1||1:44.50|
|Feb 23, 2013||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1||1:55.72|
|Feb 23, 2013||2||Level 2 B||Y||205||3||1:21.03|
|Feb 23, 2013||1||Level 3 B||Y||208||2||1:50.44|
|Feb 23, 2013||1||Level 2 B||Y||207||3||1:18.41|
|Oct 06, 2012||2||Level 3 B||Y||210||1|
|Oct 06, 2012||2||Level 2 B||Y||207||1|
|Oct 06, 2012||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Oct 06, 2012||1||Level 3 B||Y||209||1|
|Jun 03, 2012||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Jun 03, 2012||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||2|
|Jun 03, 2012||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Jun 03, 2012||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|Apr 22, 2012||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Apr 22, 2012||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|Apr 22, 2012||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Apr 22, 2012||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|Feb 26, 2012||2||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Feb 26, 2012||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|Feb 26, 2012||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Feb 26, 2012||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|Oct 08, 2011||2||Level 2 B||Y||207||2|
|Oct 08, 2011||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|Oct 08, 2011||1||Level 2 B||Y||210||1|
|Oct 08, 2011||1||Level 1 B||Y||209||1|
|Jun 05, 2011||2||Level 2 B||Y||207||1|
|Jun 05, 2011||2||Level 1 B||Y||210||1|
|Jun 05, 2011||1||Level 2 B||Y||209||1|
|Jun 05, 2011||1||Level 1 B||Y||210||2|
|May 08, 2011||2||Level 3 A||Y||210||1|
|May 08, 2011||1||Level 3 A||Y||210||1|
|Mar 13, 2011||1||Level 3 A||N||0|
|Oct 10, 2010||2||Level 3 A||Y||201||3|
|Oct 10, 2010||1||Level 2 A||Y||203||5|
|Mar 14, 2010||2||Level 2 A||Y||207||2|
|Mar 14, 2010||1||Level 2 A||Y||200||3|
|Oct 11, 2009||2||Level 1 B||Y||205|
|Oct 11, 2009||1||Level 1 A||Y||197|
|Oct 10, 2009||2||Level 1 A||Y||193|
|Oct 10, 2009||1||Level 1 A||Y||206||2|
Nose work came on the scene with a big bang, and we started taking lessons around the spring of 2010. This was the only sport I ever started with lessons, rather than trying to do it on my own and getting to classes when we could. Penny took to it right away, and I was so inspired I even tried doing some nose work with Cammy (for food only). Penny was on "primary" (food) for many months. Then we finally took an "Intro to Odor" class, and had just finished that class when we decided to enter an ORT with several other people I knew. She hadn't been on odor for very long, and I'd never been in any sort of test like this, and we didn't have very much experience with "blind" hides. To say I was nervous was an understatement. But Penny was a rock star, and even though she had to search in a doggie facility she had never been in before, she found the birch in something like 12 seconds. I was so proud of her! I also think that all the work we did with nose work and working scent around smelly distractions helped her with her articles, too.
About a year after we started in nose work, we entered our first NW1 trial and passed all four elements (interiors, exteriors, containers, and vehicles), got our NW1 title, and ended up with 3rd place overall! That was a phenomenal surprise! About six months later we entered our first NW2 trial and passed! I was really worried about the luggage and distractors in that one. But Penny did it, and ended up with 3rd place overall again! After that, I realized I had been putting too much pressure on us to go to the next level, and I backed waaaayyyy off. I decided I would only enter an NW3 trial when I was completely ready to not pass, and not before. NW3 trials are so much harder because they have an unknown number of hides (1, 2, or 3, or sometimes 0), and you really have to know if you've covered everywhere to be able to call it correctly. It wasn't until three years later that I felt we were ready to try, and I was ready to not pass. I realized it would almost certainly take a few tries before everything came together for us, and I was ok with that. But, Penny ended up passing anyway! Her first time in an NW3 trial, and she passed! I was elated. She got lots of cookies, so she was happy too. A year later, I decided to try entering another local NW3 trial, thinking we probably wouldn't get in. But, of course, we did get in, and not only that, but Penny passed again! She had been in four nose work trials, and passed all of them! I couldn't be more proud of her. We will keep trying to enter local trials and see if we can't (a) get in and (b) get that one more NW3 pass for the NW3 Elite title.
By now, AKC had opened up it's registry to mixed breed dogs via the Canine Partners program. I had signed Penny up shortly after the program was announced, but I had been too chicken to try to actually enter. Even though we had the MBDCA titles (equivalent to the AKC titles), I wasn't sure we were "good enough". I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of all those "official" people. It took my training buddy Carol, who had shown her Miniature Schnauzers in AKC obedience to finally convince me that Penny was good enough. And she was right. About two years after Canine Partners started, we entered Rally Novice and Novice obedience in two trials on one day. Penny not only passed all four times, but she got 1st place all four times! My awesome super sniffy pup came through! We finished Novice obedience and all the Rally titles (RN, RA, RE) with no NQs, but then hit a couple of bobbles in Open. We did more practicing, and finished up that title indoors. Then, Utility was next. We went back to practicing regularly. I didn't want to just assume everything would be ok like I did for Open. We worked hard. We practiced full runs for cookies in so many different places. Finally, it was trial day. Two trials in one day - and she passed both times! A month later, one more show, and she passed again! I was so incredibly proud of her! All our hard work, and it came together with an almost unheard of for Utility three straight trial passes to the title! After that incredible success, a few months later I decided maybe we'd try for a UDX and see how it went. We had a few NQs, and a few Qs, and ended up with three UDX legs, one High Combined, and several OTCh points, but Penny told me she was done. The jumps were just too much for her any more. She never had the best elbows, and now that she was getting older, it was just too hard for her to keep doing. So we quit obedience.
Now that Penny is older, she is mostly retired. We're still doing nose work (class, too), but I told her she could be done with Rally and other competitions. We have discovered some online, video entry venues, so we've been dabbling in those, too (so that Penny doesn't feel left out when Freya is doing some stuff). I'll keep letting her play as long as she is happy and wants to. Here's a list of all the titles Penny has ever earned:
Here are some of Penny's title and other certificates. I'll put more up when I find and scan them.
Here are some home-made movies of Penny in action:
Penny, like all our fuzzies, has her fair share of nicknames. For the first few days she was home, we just called her "Puppy" while we tried to decide on a good name for her (we knew that "Ophelia" was right out). Now, besides Penny, we mostly call her Penny-Pants, Pants, Pantsy-woo (those because of her fluffy "britches"), Sweet P, Penzey, Penzey-woo, Penskie, and Penza.
Penny definitely has an obsessive side. When she was young, Dave was out on the deck grilling some burgers with a very shiny spatula. As he was flipping the burgers, the spatula would occasionally catch the light and reflect a sunbeam into the house. Penny was all over this! She chased the sunbeam. She looked for the sunbeam. She stood panting and scanning the. whole. room. Not just while Dave was grilling. For about the next three days. It was sort of funny, but actually kind of worrying at the same time. We used to love to play with the laser pointer with our kitties, but Penny noticed it and got too obsessed looking for it all. over. the. house. So we had to stop using the laser pointer with the kitties, unless we locked her in another room first. She also found her own sparkly fun in chasing water in a stream or on the beach, shadows making light move through the leaves of trees, or even shiny dew on the grass. She seems to have gotten a bit better as she's gotten older, but we still have to watch out for her Border Collie levels of obsessiveness.