Friday, August 8, 2014

What inspires you?

Edited:  I wrote this way back in 2011, but never got around to publishing it. After reading it today, I've decided that although a few years have come and gone, we all still need motivation at times.  So here it is:

It's been a rough few months around here, just last week got a cast off my elbow that has really been inhibiting what I've been able to do with my own dogs, as well as my training dogs. Not able to work dogs with my left hand and having the same trouble with the right, just trying to stay away from surgery this time around.  It's easy to sit around the first couple of weeks, after all, there was a CAST on my arm, but it's off now, and I'm back to working dogs with my right hand.  Painful, but has to be done.

I know what a downer it can be when we aren't feeling 100%, it's raining cats and dogs all day, every day, and things just don't feel like they're working.  So what do you do when the motivation is waning, and you just have to find a way out of the doldrums?

 I try to do a few things here and there, working in particular on how to bring joy back into my life and my relationship with my training dogs.  After all, they don't care what's going on with me, do they?

One of the things I do is read about the fun other trainers are having with their dogs, and I get a  bit jealous. There, I've said it!  I want what they have, and it's all up to me to make it happen.

My dogs deserve it, my training dogs need and deserve it, and they shouldn't have to be denied the fun and joy we enjoy when we're working together.

 Using some fabulous games developed by several trainers I've been following, in particular Sarah Wilson, has kept me in the game.  

Puppy Collars and Leashes

One of the pleasures of getting a new puppy is going shopping for all the "stuff" you'll need.

I'm going to make my recommendations here over time, but for now, let's discuss collars and leads (leashes).

For most pet owners, the variety of collars and leads can be a bit confusing or even overwhelming.  Many of my clients ask before their first lesson, "should I get a choke chain before you come?".  Valid question, but since I haven't met the dog, have no idea what's going to work, and I tend to use and trust my own equipment when we first meet, the answer is "no".  The other part of this is that with all the options out there, and I like almost all of them for one reason or another, what used to be "the go-to" training collar, or "choke chain", is not appropriate.

Since we're talking about puppies today, my recommendation is a wide, flat, non-tightening style collar. The type you can put all her tags on when the time comes.  

Why "wide" and not the narrow, cute ones that are in all the pet supply stores? 
Where the collar sits on the puppy can make a big difference. I like a collar wide enough to cover above and below the trachea. I find narrow collars (on any dog, but especially puppies and toy breeds), can cut right into the trachea, and will be, at the least, uncomfortable, at it's worst, cause tracheal irritation and possible a collapsed trachea in very small pups and certain toy breeds.

I just picked up a lovely first collar for my 2 pups, made by a company called RC Pet Products out of Vancouver, BC, Canada. The collars are xs 7-9" and 5/8" wide.
 you can find a 1" collar in size Small ( 9-15" ). Perfect for puppies and small breeds.

Leashes are another kettle of fish.  Most leashes come with very heavy clips on the ends.  Heavy clips can clock even larger breeds in the side of the head, making it very uncomfortable for them while moving. I have seen dogs not want to walk because of this, and it need not be that way if you are aware of your options.  

I'm a big fan of these leashes from G.W. Little... they specialize in small breeds and puppies for everything you can imagine.   These are my favorite leads for puppies and small breeds. Nothing too heavy, too wide, they are easy on our hands and they do the job:

There are so many options to choose from once you know what they are, and where to find them :)

Next up:
Crates for small breeds and puppies!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Apollo x Tillie pups confirmed!

So excited! ~  Tillie's ultrasound on April 1 confirmed she is pregnant, and we are expecting pups the first week in May, 2014.

Ultrasounds will not tell us how many puppies we will have, so we will be doing an x-ray the last week in April when it is safe for the pups. Then we'll know just what to expect!

I know everything looks very brown right now, but we are 'greening up' slowly but surely!
Larry and Tillie : ) She really does have the kindest eyes!
 Watching the squirrels racing around! Lovely topline, natural stack, beautiful front and rear:
 Snoozing :

Stay tuned for updates!

Please come visit and 'Like' us on FB:

Contact info:

Toni Kay-Wolff

Monday, March 17, 2014


We are very excited to announce that 

 Shivaree Allegre Toroncini
~ AKC CM* ~
Multiple AKC Best in Miscellaneous Winner

 Cry Out Vid Orvando at Shivaree x IGDM Ginevra**
IGDM Ginevra:
Ginevra: Registered with ENCI, Italian Kennel Club
Registered as: Il Granaio dei Malatesta Ginevra
DOB: October 24, 2009
Breeder: Monica Benelli in Italy
Test results:
CERF: eyes tested clear (no abnormalities)
Patella - OFA Normal RWD-PA17/34F/P-VPI
Elbows:  OFA Pre-lim Normal

Registered with Italian Kennel Club and AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS)
Registered as:  Cry Out VID Orvando at Shivaree
DOB:  July 30, 2007
CH VID delle Farnie X Sheffelfaltets Una delle Farnie (Dad and Mom)
Breeder: Cry Out Kennel in Bertinoro, Italy

Test results:
CERF: Normal
BFJE:  Clear
Hips:  OFA Mild Unilateral
Patella: Normal

DOB: 3.25.2012

Dentition: Full; Perfect scissors bite
JE: carrier
Hips: OFA permanent score: Good
Elbows: OFA  Normal
IC: Normal for Improper Coat
Eyes: Cerf'd 8/2013 Normal

*Tillie earned all 17 points (15 are needed to garner the AKC Certificate of Merit) in the Best in Miscellaneous class, a fine accomplishment earned in 4 months of showing!  Since there are very few Lagotti showing in our area, we were lucky to be able to show against some of the very strong dogs in the various breeds recognized in the AKC Miscellaneous Group.  The Lagotto Club of America is working towards full AKC recognition, and when all criteria are met we will be in the AKC Sporting Group. We are very proud to say that Tillie was one of the first 6 Lagotti in the US to be awarded the title of CM.
** Tillie's dam, Ginna, is one of the only Lagotti in the US with an OFA Exc hip rating

has been bred to 

 Il Granaio dei Malatesta Ivano 
Alfredo x Ydun's Blues Malu

AKC Certificate of Merit
UKC Grand Champion (First Lagotto Romagnolo Grand Champion in UKC History)
#1 Lagotto Romagnolo in the UKC for 2012 (71 Points)
UKC Reserve Best in Multi-Breed Show Winner
IABCA Nat & Int JHA, JA, and Adult Champion
IABCA Best in Show Rare Breed Puppy/Youth Winner
IABCA Best Zuchtgruppe (Breeders Group) Winner

Multiple UKC and IABCA Group wins and AKC Best in Misc Class wins


DOB: 5.31.2010

Dentition: Full; Perfect Scissors bite
JE: Normal
Hips: OFA Good
I/C:  Normal
Eyes: Cerf'd 8/2013 Normal

Tillie was bred on March 6, 2014, so we will be doing an ultrasound on April 3 to confirm pregnancy, and then the wait begins! We would be whelping this litter around the first week in May, with puppies ready to go to their new homes in early July 2014.

From this breeding we are expecting healthy, active puppies with outstanding temperaments, correct structure, coats and expression. Both Tillie and Apollo are very happy, social dogs, are quite affectionate and wonderful representatives of their breed.

As a professional dog trainer I feel it is very important to know what kind of dog you will be living with. I thought I'd share a bit about both Tillie and Apollo here.  If you feel a puppy from this litter would be the kind of dog you'd like to live with, please contact me at to get on my puppy wait list.  If you are hoping for a Lagotto puppy some day, but aren't quite ready yet, you can still join my wait list and I will gladly refer you to other breeders who are members of the Lagotto Club of America for more information on our breed and Code of Ethics breeders around the country.

A bit about Apollo:

Very people-oriented and eager to please.  Very affectionate.  Gets along very well with Luna and Aurora.  Seemed to learn how to retrieve by watching our girl Luna - now he loves to play ball.  When new people come to the house after initially sniffing at them to explore, he usually warms up quickly to them.

Canine Good Citizen Test (passed) and basic obedience commands (sit, stay, rest, come when called); retrieving; jump hurdles; wait at doors; wait for food; we've done air scenting and tracking classes too.

And here's a bit about Tillie:

A lovely girl who sings when happy (she gets this from her dam, IGDM Ginevra, owned by Judith Tyler Martin of Shivaree Lagotto Romagnolo, jumps up to say "hi" unless told not to, has a rocket recall, retrieves, hikes on and off leash, lays down, goes to her bed on command, waits at all doorways, digs like a looney tunes (like all good Lagotti should!) and loves to play in the agility tunnel. She's also a "zoomer"... will run around the house jumping from dog bed to dog bed, spins and moves on to the next. She is joyful and sweet and funny, and a pleasure to share our lives with.

Tillie and I have started K-9 NoseWork, which she, of course, excelled at ;) We will be starting up with NoseWork again once we are finished with this litter of puppies, as well as starting on some fun Rally games.

A video of Tillie's first time in the tunnel at 13 weeks:

Please check back for updates on Tillie and this upcoming litter!

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Wait" and "Back Up"... Good Save!

I don't usually train my dogs to 'Stay'. I like the 'Wait' command better.

Stay means "freeze"... don't move a muscle until I return to you and release you. The reason I don't teach it often is that most people use it incorrectly and indiscriminately, and I see more dogs breaking a stay than understand it. They inevitably get corrected for breaking the stay, unfair and not needed. Not to say I don't teach it, but it requires some very specific parts, broken down so that the dogs understand it well and the handlers are using it clearly and with their own understanding of what we want the dogs to do.

"Wait" means don't move forward. When I tell my dogs to wait at the front door, it means you can move about the house, just don't move forward... don't follow me out the door, the gate, up or down the stairs. But it doesn't mean "freeze".

Yesterday I was working with a mini GoldenDoodle, Tillie, our Lagotto puppy now 5 months, and Glory my English Shepherd was out with us in the back yard.  Tossing the frisbee, Glory has a lovely retrieve. Not perfect, but she'll find it, take it, and bring it to hand 90% of the time.

I had just tossed the frisbee, and as Glory was bringing it back to me I noticed that the Doodle had just pooped. Right between Glory and me, and Glory was about to step in it, dancing around with the frisbee she so proudly brought back to me!

"WAIT"!  "BACK UP"! Good girl!

Stepping in poop and ick averted, I was so proud of my girl, and so happy I had taught her those two commands.

There are so many reasons I love these two commands, and I'd never had to use them for that reason before, but let me tell you... short of "come" and "down", they are the ones I use most often, and probably always will!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tillie, our Lagotto Romagnolo puppy is here!

Tillie ~ Our Lagotto Romagnolo puppy, getting chicken from me while being held by our friends' daughter, Dani.

Tillie is just 8.5 weeks old now, and every day is new, exciting, fun and challenging for us all. In a good way.  New people to meet, safe places to explore.

Her breeder is in Arizona, and did a marvelous job getting the pups ready for their new lives.  Our job started the day we brought her home. My plan is to blog about our lives together, the good, the bad, the ups and downs, the fun and the OMG we have a new puppy and she doesn't take "breaks".

Today we took her to meet our friends at their son's baseball game.  There were 4 or more games going on at the time, but we were able to hang out in an area that would not be overwhelming for her.   The best part was having the very well-behaved children (and their parents) coming over to say hello and hold her.

Tillie is a social puppy, but even social puppies need socialization to keep them that way.  I subscribe to much that has been written about puppy raising by Dr. Carmen Battaglia , including The Rules of 7, which follow at the end of this blog.

Tillie did beautifully today! With a handful of chicken, some space to get away from all the excitement but still expose her to new sounds, people and places, we both had a blast... and that's the MOST important part, isn't it?

If new puppy owners could take even some of the Rules of 7 and apply them, many more pups would grow up to acclimate easily to all sorts of stresses and pressures found in every day life.  It's our responsibility to do that for them... don't you think?

Dr. Carmen Battaglia created the Rule of 7′s as a guide to increase a puppy’s exposure.  You do not have to follow it to the letter, but make sure your puppy is current on all shots before taking him out into a strange area.  By the time a puppy is 3 months, make sure he has:
  1. Been on 7 different types of surfaces:  carpet, tile, linoleum, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, and wood chips.
  2. Played with 7 different types of objects:  rope toys, plush toys, big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, squeaky toys, paper or cardboard items, metal items, and sticks.
  3. Been in 7 different locations:  front & back yard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom, kids room, living room, hallway, Vet’s office, groomers.
  4. Met and played with 7 new people:  include children and older adults, someone walking with a cane or in a wheelchair or walker, someone tall, someone in a hat.
  5. Been exposed to 7 challenges:  climb on a box, go through a tunnel, climb steps, go down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide and seek, go in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, run around a fence.
  6. Eaten from 7 different containers:  metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, human hands, pie plate, tin pan, frying pan, Frisbee, elevated bowl.
  7. Eaten in 7 different locations:  crate, yard, exercise pen, basement, laundry room, living room, bathroom, back yard.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

House-Training, Urinary Tract Infections, and Puppies... OY!

House-training a puppy can be life-altering, to say the least... until you get your puppy on a schedule and have some semblance of order in your home.  But house-training a puppy with a raging urinary tract infection AND e-coli in her bladder? Well, it can drive you mad.

Here's how we got through one of our client puppy's 'difficulties' for the last month:

First, we needed to establish whether or not her peeing 15-20 times per day at 5 months of age was a house-training issue or a medical issue.  Having our suspicions, we headed for the vet to rule out medical, and it's a good thing we did.

Not only was it medical, but she had a severe level of e-coli in her bladder.  E-coli can normally be found in people and dogs, but in the intestinal tract... NOT in the bladder. Just doesn't belong there. 

We had urine pulled directly from her bladder and got her on antibiotics. Once they kicked in we felt we would have some form of a schedule going, and most importantly, she'd be more comfortable.  We were wrong.  After 2 weeks and very little in the way of change, we had a re-check done.  The e-coli had mutated (common problem I was to learn) and was now resistant to the Clavamox she'd been on.  Several days waiting for lab work found several options for new antibiotics, the best choice being Baytril.  Unfortunately, Baytril can have ill-effects on joint and bone growth, and she's only 5 1/2 months at this point, so... next.  Went with Tetracycline 3x a day, but no change by day 6.  This puppy was urinating 18 times a day. Yes, you have to count ; )  This is not normally what house-training an almost 6 month old puppy looks like.
While she was with us we kept a chart of every time she urinated, no matter where it was.  We were so on top of it that we only had 4 pees in the kitchen and 2 in her crate in 30 days.  We were taking her out almost hourly, she'd sometimes pee 2-3 times in an hour or less.  Why we were lucky enough that she made it through most of the night without waking, I don't know.  Last out was midnight, first was 5:45 AM.

Yesterday she went home to her loving owners, who understand the problem, and luckily have a garden in their brownstone apartment in NY where they can take her to relieve herself as often as needed without having to wait for an elevator. Can you imagine having to go up and down 10 floors or more in a NYC apartment building with a puppy who can't hold it, every hour on the hour, sometimes more frequently?

This lovely little Wheaten puppy, now only 6 months old,  will be lined up for an ultrasound, possibly a vaginal scope, and likely more tests to find out how on earth the e-coli got there in the first place.  Hoping it's not structural.

So for all who bemoan their lives and lack of sleep while house-training a pee-machine, first, always have a veterinary check done if all does not seem well... and if all is well and your puppy is healthy, enjoy your time with your puppy, it's all just part of the journey : )