Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I'll let you decide! Does Miss Timber look frightening to you or just gorgeous?
This photo and an email came today from Sally and Daniel: - 

"Miss Timber is doing great! She/I graduated from basic obedience a few weeks ago and will start intermediate next week. I do plan to do agility with her--think she would love it and so would I. We will not move too fast on this, given your comments about when to start, etc. I am fortunate to have a wonderful trainer, Missy Lemoi at Hope Lock Kennels in Easton, PA. I am really enjoying the classes and look forward to continuing to learn with my wonderful puppy.

"We will send along more recent photos soon. Miss Timber does have a beautiful Halloween leash to wear tonight--decorated with fabric candy corn and pumpkins! She is very used to noise since we made certain to expose her to lots of things, in a kind way, when she was younger--again, thanks to your excellent advice."

Her mother, Totty, and her litter-sister, Squirrel, are both shown in the previous blog entry.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Totty gets a visit from Debbi and Mike

Debbie and Mike went to the Delaware, OH show today and saw Totty who is the mother of Squirrel and aunt to Moose. They were visiting Jenn and Lee who did very well both days!

Totty: - See photos above.
Squirrel and Moose: - See below. I think Totty's daughter, Squirrel (Vinlands Sunna) has the makings of a future champion like her sire, Champion Foothills Laki, and maybe, one day soon, her dam.

Friday, October 26, 2012

AKC Champion Vinlands Leifur

AKC Champion Vinlands Leifur owned by Jennifer Sanders and handled by Guy Fisher finished his title and his third major on September 29, 2012 under American Kennel Club Martin D. Doherty. (I found this in my drafts folder. Oops! See earlier post: LeRoy - Saturday, September 29, 2012 .)

Sans Souci

When I drive up to Sans Souci I can feel my blood pressure dropping. Yesterday was a gorgeous day and I worked again clearing some of the underbrush in the north deciduous 'forest' which is behind where my new home should be built - - one day. Annette, Fred, and Loa sent me a horseshoe to go above the door of the pole barn where my office will be. Politicians, insurance companies, used car salespeople, investment counselors, builders and architects must share a lot of the same personality traits. I was told my new home would be done by October if we started by last April. Well, we have not even started yet.

My Mother read the "Little Red Hen" to us over and over when we were children and it was definitely one of my favorite books. "The Little Engine That Could" was another. Extremely valuable lessons! I think about those stories and their lessons all the time - especially now. I also loved Clementina the Flying Pig although the moral was more obscure.

Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paula Ruotsalainen, my friend who lives in Finland, sent me an email recently. I asked if I could post it on my blog with a photo of her dogs. I have edited it slightly.

I love her dogs. Maybe one day I will be able to bring one of her puppies over here. Her dogs are active, healthy, and part of her family.
Left to right above: Kelmi, Stella, Minttu, and Roni. (See below for more information on Paula's dogs.) Photo is by Paula Ruotsalainen with permission. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it.

I'm so very happy to tell you that Minttu, the daughter of the wonderful Stella and my Kelmi, today earned a “zero” (no failures on the track and under the ideal time). Minttu is now raised to the highest class in agility, the 3rd class.

During the spring and summer of 2009, Stella went even faster than Minttu from the 1st class (the beginners' class) to the highest class. Minttu is running faster than Stella or Kelmi do, so it took longer, because I had to learn to lead Minttu differently from her parents.

During the last few months I have competed only with Minttu, but of course trained all the time with also Stella and Kelmi. Now because all my ISDs are in the highest class, it is easier logistically, as usually the competitions are separated into different days on a week-end. The classes 1 and 2 are competing one day, and the 3 class on the other day. Now also Stella and Kelmi will return to the competitions. I'm thrilled to run with 3 ISDs in the same competition.

With happy greetings, Paula & Stella, Minttu, Kelmi and Roni


Minttu is such a beautiful sweetheart, and I'm just thrilled with her ability to concentrate and learn new things very quickly. And yes, I do have a wonderful life with my 4 ISDs, my 7 Sacred Birman cats, my 2 Bengal cats, my husband, and my two daughters, who have both already "flown out of the nest".

Unfortunately due to all that frequent training and competing (and also instructing others) in agility, I don't have any fresh photos of Minttu, Stella, Kelmi and Roni. Perhaps this attached one would do? It was taken nearly exactly one year ago. Each of my dogs has a set of photos on my Flickr pages:
 (You might have to copy and past that address in order to see Paula’s photos!)

Now all of my ISDs are in the highest class of agility, in medi3 class. In obedience, Minttu competes in the Novice class, Stella in the Open class and Kelmi in the Winner class.

TK1 is a title a dog gets when passing the Novice class' obedience test 3 times with a result of at least 160 points of the maximum 200 points. TK2 is likewise the obedience title, when a dog gets at least 160 points (of 200 points) 3 times in the Open class. BH is the title a dog gets when passing the maturity test of service dogs.

The call names, official names, listed with the titles, of my ISDs – in the same order as the photo - are: -

Kelmi  (Astvinur Eldur)  =  C.I.B., FI & EE & LT & LV Ch; EE & LV Junior Ch, BH, TK1, TK2
Stella (Runestone Mocha Latte) = FI Ch, BH, TK1
Minttu (Vongoivan Druna) = Junior Winner 2011
Roni (Tunturiketun Roni) = C.I.B; FI & S & EE & LT & LV Ch, Winner 2005

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Korpur and Bear

My boys.

Do we look like we miss Tryggur?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lokasteinn 2012 Litter

Linda and Russ Hansen's 2012 litter between Anaegja (Blue Zafir Esja Anaegja), the mother, and Thor (Vinlands Thor), the father owned by Jasmine and Alex Papageorge, is now six months old. The photo below compares puppy photos with how they look now! Isn't this a great mix of colors, patterns, fur lengths, etc.?

Aren't they all irresistible? How could you choose just one?
Clicking on the photo below will enlarge it.

Sometimes people wonder what their puppies will look like as adults. As you can see, it's often hard to do that - even for experienced people.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Noises and Control

One of the puppies from last spring's litter got into trouble during her agility class. Apparently as she exited a tunnel she ran across the floor and attacked another puppy (or maybe more than one puppy?). The owners asked me to talk about that and also how to deal with noises - vis a vis Haloween and maybe Fourth of July and/or thunderstorms etc.
I love this photo that Christine Vowles photo shopped for me so I'm using it again - because it's their mom!! (She removed the handler's legs, feet and the leash from the original photo.)

First - agility: - At less than a year old puppies should NOT be in a regular agility class. Their bones need to have the end joints closed (or fused). In other words, growth has to have stopped.They can damage the tender ends of still growing bones by excessive running and jumping.

I shudder involuntarily when I see someone running with a dog - especially a puppy. The puppy is not running because it loves the idea, it is running because its owner is encouraging it to run. That can be very damaging to its skeleton, especially its hips. Normally puppies (and kids) play until they are tired and then stop - often collapsing in a heap and falling asleep where they stop. Puppies have a pack animal mentality. If asked to do something (like staying up with mom or dad while running), they will do so to their own detriment. Even adult dogs do not run and run and run. They run in short bursts and then stop.

If the puppy was in a puppy agility class, that's another story altogether. In a puppy agility class the puppies do not really "jump" nor do they work on full-sized equipment. There is less stress on their growing skeletons. In a good class, the exercise is only for a short time, maybe ten or fifteen minutes.

Anyone who has had toddlers, human toddlers, knows that they get very grumpy when they are tired or hungry. Know your puppy and do not let it get hungry or tired. Make sure it is pacing itself. Yes, puppies should not be fed a meal, at least a full normal meal, before going to class BUT while it is in class use lots of treats as rewards for good behaviors to satisfy its hunger. That also teaches them the connection between doing a task and getting a reward. Remember "conditioning" from psychology classes?

I teach two agility classes on Wednesday mornings - a beginner class and a more advanced class. Our dogs are mature; some are several years old but all are at least a year old. Many are mixed breeds (A friend from England calls mixed breed dogs "Bitsers" - you know a bit of this and a bit of that. That's so much better than Mutt, isn't it?) and of various sizes but we have dogs like Irish Setters, Dalmatians, terriers, and Goldens too.

In the introductory class they are leashed all the time. We might let them run through a tunnel with the leash trailing behind them but we try very hard to collect them from the other end of the tunnel and reward immediately. Until we know that our dogs will return to us when we call them, we do not let them run willy nilly. That would be asking for trouble. It is very exciting and fun for dogs to do agility. They love it. Even so - - - - there are rules and the dogs must learn them.

We work very hard to get reliable "stays". They are not good when we start but by the fourth or fifth week, we can leave our dogs (leashes dangling and ready to be grabbed quickly if necessary) on a stay or a wait, and walk 25 - 30 feet or so away and call them to us. Until you can do that with your dog reliably every time, your dog should be attached to you by its leash. Would you leave your toddler alone to explore?

Simple question: How do you get your dog to look you in the face/eyes and watch you - pay attention to you? Simple.

Hold a treat up by your mouth. Be sure it's a treat your dog loves. If your dog does not love the treat, it will be harder to train it. Try different treats until you find some it likes. My dogs like pea-sized pieces of low fat hot dogs and low fat string cheese. I keep them in a zip-lock baggy in the freezer so they don't spoil and take them out to train with. I like to use hot dogs and string cheese because then I don't mind putting them in my mouth. (Wait.)  Don't use kibble. That's not fair. The treat should be special and tasty. It should also be easy to chew. One or two chews and a swallow and they are ready for the next trick or task.

Please don't use dry, crumbly treats that leave small pieces all over the floor. These are too tempting, and therefore distracting, to the other dogs that are also in training. If you drop a treat on the floor, please pick it up for the same reasons: - distracting and tempting to other dogs. Their handlers will appreciate the extra effort. (No one minds picking up toys or treats or even cleaning up accidents their own dogs have but somehow cleaning up messes left behind by others is not pleasant.)

To begin with use your dog's name. Call him/her. As soon as it looks at you - AS SOON AS IT LOOKS AT YOU - give it the treat that it can see by your mouth. Have someone walk by and try and distract it. Call its name again. And again, as soon as it looks at your face - the treat held up by your mouth - reward it. The reward must be immediate. Do not fumble in your bait bag for the reward after you call its name. It will NOT learn to watch your face. It will learn to watch your bait bag.

I'm attaching some photos of my dogs "watching" me while they do agility, obedience, or rally.
Photos were taken by Cathi Winkles photography and used with permission. Doesn't she take wonderful photos? Clicking on photos enlarges them. Do you think these dogs are watching me because they love me? I wish. (Maybe.)

After it has learned its name, yes, that is what you have been teaching it. (It's always surprising to me how few dogs know their own name. Their heads should snap as they turn to look at you when you call their name.) After it has learned its name, you are ready for the next step - - now try the same thing and use the expression, "Watch Me!". Treat by your mouth, say, "Watch Me!" and reward immediately - no fumbling in your bait bag. Practice this at home with family members providing light attempts at distraction. By your next class your dog should be ready to watch you every time you say its name or "Watch Me!". If it doesn't turn and look at you, you need to practice more.

People always ask me "when" I stop using treats. Never! If your employer stopped paying you, would you continue to work? You can gradually diminish the number of times you reward for correct behaviors but not yet. Not for many months. Make sure they understand the relationship between learning new tasks and getting the rewards. Once they have learned HOW to learn, it will easier to teach new tricks. I still reward Kata who is almost eleven. Not every time. And not predictably. All of my dogs get treats when they "work". They don't all like the same kinds of treats so I keep a mixture in the freezer and in my bait bag.

Here's the "Wait" - Experienced handlers often keep the treats in their mouths. That's why I suggest human-friendly treats. They spit them out to their dogs. That may sound gross but it frees up a hand. No one ever told you that you really need at least three hands to train your dog, did they? You do. Dogs, with experience, will be able to catch your treat if you can aim. You practice spitting while they practice catching. I practice by tossing popcorn, then treats, then I move to spitting. If that sounds too gross, don't do it, OK? But watch experienced handlers. It's actually pretty neat. It also makes for a great human-canine bond. If you can accomplish this successfully, you will be officially 'bonded'.

I do not like, by the way, bait bags with a draw string closure. It's too hard to get into the bag and treats can spill out. You can buy cotton carpenters' aprons at Home Depot for about $1.00. They work fine and you can wash them. You can also buy bait bags at any pet store.

If your dog has a favorite squeaker toy that will fit in your back pocket, take it to class with you and use it. It's your dog. You are adults. You get to do what you want. Really. If your instructor wants you to do something you don't want to do, you can decline. Really. Just be nice about it.

If your dog is barking a lot in class while the instructor is talking - I hope they don't go on and on and on - sit on the floor with your dog and practice its tricks (using rewards, of course). Give it commands like sit, down, stand, roll over, etc. Your dog will love being the center of your attention and everyone will be able to hear - so will you.

Honestly, I do not think dogs are ready for agility until they have had lots of obedience training. The better they are at obedience, the better they will be at agility. You want control over your dog so it doesn't get the 'zanies' and run around the training building. That's a recipe for disaster. Keep your dog leashed until it will willingly stay with you. And then keep it leashed in case another dog tempts it or attacks it. At less than a year old, they are probably not reliably obedience trained. Yet.

Second - noises: - Again, it's conditioning. Start as soon as you can with your puppy/dog to get it used to loud or sudden noises.

My dogs love thunderstorms. When there is thunder and lightening, they want to go out and run in the rain. How did they get that way? I'm not sure. Maybe it's partly because they are descended from herding dogs. In Iceland. Outside. 24/7/365.

I also never coddled them when it was noisy outside. I did the opposite. I rewarded them with treats - from my frozen bait bag. Thunder? Here's a treat. Firecrackers? A treat. Kids bouncing a ball against a backboard. Treat. Loud parties next door. Treats. Of course they have to be quiet before they get a treat. It doesn't take long until they figure things out. Dogs are problem solvers. They love a challenge.

Have some treats ready and bang (gently at first) a couple of pans together and reward immediately. Have the treat ready. Make noises and reward with a treat or a toy. Drop something noisy on the floor. Start with softer noises and move up to louder ones - - over time. Reward immediately.

Hello! They figure out when you're going to go to class. They watch your behaviors before you leave and can predict when and where you're going. Can't they? They know when you start to prepare their dinner. Get ready for bed. Let them out one last time before bed time. When you're going to have company. Etc.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vinlands Totty

Here are three photos taken by Jenifer Brimmer today at the Mad River Valley Kennel Club show in Urbana, Ohio. She does a greart job, doesn't she? Her extensive experience with breeding, training, and showing dogs in all areas over the years really shows in all she does.

Totty did very well and got Best of Opposite under Judge Maralyn Busse on Saturday, October 13 and also on Sunday, October 14 under Judge Rick Gschwender. She is being shown by Ann Keil. I am still showing my dogs in performance events.

Lee (Vinlands Leifur) shown by Guy Fisher and owned by Jennifer Sanders took Best of Breed again today.

Autumn Color

Often people look up at the leaves on the deciduous trees in the fall. Looking down can be just as spectacular, in my opinion. 

I have what I believe to be a Black Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum subsp. nigrum, in my yard that was a sapling when I moved into my current home. The fence guys wanted to remove a whole line of sapling trees when they put in the fence after I moved into the house. I spotted the Maple and told them to leave it. The soil is rich there, it has done very well and is now a gorgeous mature tree which covers the ground with a magnificent display of leaves this time every year.
I never remove leaves from the ground in the fall.They make excellent winter protection and easily decompose turning into rich soil by the middle of the spring. I've never understood why some people rake the leaves, put them into plastic bags, put the bags out to be collected and later buy bags of peat moss or some other kind of mulch to enrich their soil.
I have a volunteer European spindle tree, Euonymus, (below) growing symbiotically in some white cedars which I transplanted as seedlings about forty years ago. I won a grant to do a graduate field studies program up north in connection with Michigan State University and found about five seedlings in a wooded area that was about to become a wood-chipped path. The color of the seed wings of the Euonymous is almost shocking pink at this time of year.

                                                       Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vinlands Leifur, Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Icelandic Sheepdog named Vinlands Leifur (Lee) owned by Jennifer Sanders and handled by Guy Fisher took Best of Breed today at Mad River Valley Kennel Club in Urbana, Ohio under American Kennel Club Judge Maralyn K. Busse.
                                              Clicking on the photos enlarges them.

Sans Souci near Forestville, Michigan

I've been asked to post some photos of Sans Souci again - so here are some from late last winter. Remember, clicking on photos enlarges them.

Vinlands Totty

American Kennel Club Judge Martin D. Doherty poses here with Ann Keil and Vinlands Totty after her first major win at the Monroe Kennel Club show on Saturday, September 29, 2012 in Monroe, Michigan. Thank you Judge Doherty and Ann!
                                                 (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)
Totty is the mother of Sunna, Miss Timber, Wodin, Saga, Thora, Soffia Arya Grace.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Homeless Icelandic Sheepdogs

These two purebred registered Icelandic Sheepdogs are about to be homeless. I hate to think of them ending up in a shelter because of the failure of the family.

They are NOT from my kennel. 

I think they live on the west coast of the United States, perhaps in southern California, but I could be wrong.

The current owners are abandoning them. I suspect they will be free to a good home, singly or together. I would make the argument that they should be separated so that they can bond with their new family instead of relying on one another.

                         (Clicking on Kara and Henry's photos will enlarge them.)
The lighter colored one (above) is a female named Kara born in August, 2010 so she is just over two years old. You could of course re-name her.
The slightly darker one (above) is a male named Henrick or Henry, and was born in September, 2011 so he is just over a year old. You could also re-name him. That's often a good idea - - to start over and set new rules. They rather quickly learn their new names and live up to the new expectations.

I do not know the particulars of their sad story. I suspect they were not trained. They apparently are not aggressive, just free-willed uncontrolled dogs in need of love and attention.

All sheepdogs, including Icelandic Sheepdogs, are very smart and need a job to do. They cannot be left to their own devices. I was told the family got the male in order to have a playmate for their older female. That is not a good idea, in my opinion.

Your dog should be your playmate. It should bond with you.

I said I would mention them on my blog. 

I will keep my fingers crossed. If you contact me:

  - I will put you in contact with someone who may be able to help you. 

I do not want to be involved in this saga because it saddens me but I would rather see them placed in a new loving home than euthanized.

I would think you could pick them up if you live close to them or, if you live further, I should think that you could have them as long as you arrange the shipping if necessary - - - but I really do not know.


It's the time of year when I have to bring in my tender Bonsai for the winter - it gets harder and harder to do as they mature and have to be re-potted into slightly larger bonsai pots. The new house will have a 'room' just for my tropical bonsai which should make things easier. Now I scramble for window space.

This is a bonsai pomegranate. I love the twisted trunk. It can stand some cool weather but not Michigan winters so when cold weather comes, it goes into the garage for several months until spring.
                                                (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Yesterday I stopped at Mary's Diner in Port Sanilac for breakfast on my way up to Sans Souci. I stopped again in front of the old VFW hall there and picked up a few more horse chestnuts, serendipitously, as it turned out. 

Although I am disappointed that nothing has been done in the pole barn for about three weeks, I had a wonderful day up in Michigan's Thumb on Lake Huron and spent several very productive and relaxing hours working in the north east deciduous 'forest' removing scrub trees, pulling out grapevines, and tossing wood trimmings into the south ravine near the bluff.

                               The following photos were taken last spring.
    Although the leaves are still on the trees currently, they will soon again look like this.
I long for the day when I can take my Icelandic Sheepdogs with me so I don't have to rush home to take care of them after only a few hours up there. Kata and Pila have visited singly and together and loved it. Once I have a bed in the FS/NX, the water is connected and there is a fenced area, I should be able to spend the night there and work at my leisure.

While hauling branches from the north on the left across the field shown above to the ravine on the south to the right, I noticed that most of the black walnut and horse chestnut seeds that we planted recently have been dug up by some animal and eaten so I will move on to "plan B" - which is to plant the seeds in a pot at home, leave them outside to rest during the freezes and thaws of winter, watch for spring germination and, then, if it happens, take the seedlings up there for transplanting next year. I am very curious to know what animal dug them up. Raccoon? Opossum? Deer? Pig? Turkeys? Fox? Ah! Nature!!

I started to remove the broken off stump on the right in the above photo. As I removed some bark and starting sawing at the base - yes, using a hand saw, I noticed an unusual species of ant that I had never seen before just under the bark. Of course I stopped, as anyone who knows me would understand. The torpid ant colony included several workers, eggs, larvae, winged adults, and at least one mature queen. After being rudely exposed to the elements by me, I hope they were able to recover. I have enjoyed learning about ants since I was a kid. I have read several of the works of Edward O. Wilson including The Ants written with Bert Holldobler. 

In my evergreen forest, seen below in the distance behind the pole barn, I have seen several mounds of forest ants similar to the species I've read about in Northern Europe. The road you can see in the distance cuts through my forest and runs through my property to the plain in the foreground where I will build, hopefully soon, at Sans Souci.
The two-tiered deck, shown below in late winter, sits on the bluff, faces Lake Huron to the east and is shielded from the sun in the summer by the trees surrounding it. It will be a perfect spot to drink coffee and tea in the morning, cocoa in the afternoon and other adult beverages in the late afternoon and evening. I hope I have visitors. That's what the NX is for!
My immediate neighbors to the south, John and Nancy, have offered to mow the phragmites seen in the photo above in the distance below the decks by the water's edge if they have my permission to use the black topped access road on my property which leads to my beach. Yes! They do. Have my permission. 

I have met several neighbors including Denny and Margaret to the north, and to the south; I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.
My Lake Huron beach looking east towards Canada.