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More of the trip home from Camp Paducah to Kingsport TN


As we were planning our trip Cheryl mentioned an interest in seeing Little Egypt (Cairo that I mentioned in the last post).  That one thought had me off and running on route ideas for the trip home.  My first thought was that we could go from Little Egypt area to TN – especially Nashville – because I had never been to TN.  While checking out the route I found a place called “Land Between the Lakes” that looked really cool.

Cheryl didn’t care about going to Nashville and she had just been to TN, but was open to considering the longer route since TN would be new for me.  We thought we would make a final decision which way to go home while at camp depending on how we felt and what the weather was like.

After experiencing several days of the crazy heat wave they were having, and the fact that the weather looked like it was going to be even hotter through TN, we thought maybe we’d skip this longer route and head home more directly.

Luckily for me, the night we were supposed to head home Cheryl was smart and checked the weather on the northern route.  It said severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings were expected for those areas!

O.K.  Nashville it is….. I was so happy we ended up going that way, and not just for the better weather.

Our first stop was Land Between the Lakes and it was awesome!  You get there by crossing over a huge lake (Cheryl has pictures of that on FB).  Once we crossed over we went to the Golden Pond Visitor Center.  The picture is a little fuzzy due to the temperature difference in the car (a/c blasting) and outside (hot!).


The visitor center was awesome.  We met the nicest person working there who gave us lots of info on where we could go with the dogs and the different things we could see.  After talking to him we changed our plans of driving across the land of the lakes and over both lakes to driving down the middle.

The middle allowed us to see buffalo:


And brought us to The Homeplace where they had old houses, farm animals, and people dressed for that time period.


We weren’t sure about paying to go in, until Cheryl talked to one of the rangers and found out the dogs were allowed literally everywhere – included in the air conditioned gift shop!  So we figured we could check things out and then cool the dogs off in the a/c.

There was this really nice path, with grass that Chance loved, on the way out to the homestead area


We walked the dogs around and into various buildings.



Past several different farm animals – as you can see, the sheep were not at all interested in us.  They were out wandering around when we went into one of the buildings and when we came out they had gone into a barn for some shade.  The could’ve cared less about the dogs, Chance and Zurri were a little more interested than the sheep, but very well behaved.  Cheryl had a little chat with Zurri explaining that these weren’t “her” sheep from herding classes.  As you can see Zurri listened well.


We spent the most time in a house that was an “I” style house.  It was designed, and placed for maximum airflow.  It really did work too, it was significantly cooler on the deck of this house than anywhere else we had been.  Obviously the people knew it too as the workers were sitting knitting on the porch cooling off after the work they did in the garden.  Chance and Zurri loved it here, and we enjoyed learning about the location from the women working.


The place was so dog friendly they even had a water bowl out on the back deck of the house.  Chance had no problem finding it.


On our way out we stopped in the gift shop so the dogs could cool off.  Cheryl bought an awesome CD that we listened too as we moved on down the road.  These are the nice ladies we spoke with while cooling the dogs off.  We asked them for good places to go if we were just going to drive to get a look at Nashville (too hot to walk the dogs around a city).  They gave us the name of a few streets which always helps make the city tour better.


What a great place, we definitely want to go back there some day and explore when we have more time.

After Land Between the Lakes we were off to Nashville.  I took a couple of pictures when we arrived, but then my camera was full 😦  The rest of our drive by tourism can be seen on FB as Cheryl did a great job of capturing it.

Here is the batman building that everyone talks about:


And this is the honky tonk area with all sorts of fun places for drinks, food, and music


We had a great time touring around the city checking things out.  Nashville looks like a really fun place and I am thrilled to be able to now say I have been to TN!

After Nashville we needed to get some miles in for the day and finally ended up stopping in Kingsport, TN.  We stayed at a Motel 6 because all the Red Roof Inns have changed their policy and only allow ONE dog per room.  This was horrible news and had a HUGE impact on our travel plans and left us scrambling to find places to stay.  Not happy with the Red Roof Inn company, but we didn’t let it ruin our fun.



DFA Camp Notes – Intros and Agility Motivation


This blog entry will likely be boring for most of you.  I wanted to consolidate some of what I learned and/or took notes on from the amazing classes at camp.  Thought this might help me cement some of what I learned and it’s such cool stuff I couldn’t help myself from sharing, just in case it was useful to anyone else.  Sorry there are no pictures, it actually would’ve been cool if I had thought to take some to show some of the behaviors/ideas that were taught.

On day 1 camp opened with an intro for all of us to camp, the instructors, and Denise.  Deb Jones did a great job introducing each of the instructors and had asked them to include a “one liner” thought about training.  Some of the favorites I heard were:

  • Never train an unfocussed dog (this is a lesson I learned the hard way)
  • Train the dog that shows up, not the one you were expecting
  • Focus on what you want to see, NOT what you want to achieve
  • Enjoy the journey as much as the goal

After the group talk we all went off to either work our dogs or audit one of the many labs offered.  I did not choose one of the labs for a working spot so left Chance in his crate (happy with the very cool a/c) and went over to the agility lab.

Agility Motivation

While I don’t really do agility (although I have dabbled in it a bit with a few classes with Chance), I wanted to audit this to see what it was about and try and get a sense for the instructor.  Loretta Mueller taught it and she was AWESOME!!  Incredible information, a lovely way with the people and dogs, and excellent at coaching.  I was so glad I went.

I remember thinking that while the lab was about agility, there were some really good ideas that I could do with Chance to help with confidence for just about anything.  Sadly now when reviewing my notes I feel like I am missing some of the important parts of what she said, but I do have the mechanics written for some of what she suggested we do, so I can still give it a try and see how it goes.

She talked about putting drive on cue.  She has border collies and says she only wants drive when she wants it, not all the time (a cool thought).  But she also talked about what she thought was more important for drive and that was the ability to use the games to work on confidence and resiliency.  She said the dog she brought with her helped her understand the need for this as she was different than what she was used to.  The dog had low confidence and not a lot of resiliency, and that effected drive.  You would never know it today watching her work, but that is thanks to Loretta’s excellent training and working with the dog where the dog was at.

In order to get drive she suggests you break it down into tiny steps by looking for the slightest increase in intensity and then rewarding that.  You can do this throughout the day, it doesn’t have to just be part of a training session.  No pressure on the dog, just games throughout the day you can play together.

She then demonstrated this idea with the working teams, talking through what they were doing and what she recommended so we could understand.  I took short notes figuring I would remember what I watched.  Ha!  That was not the case at all, sigh.  However, I think what they were doing were little movements – leaning away, maybe moving in a different direction or using their voice to see if they can get a little tiny increase in energy.  If they got it, the owner rewarded with a toy or treat.  If the dog liked movement sometimes they would throw the toy or treat.  However, Loretta was clear to keep the reward out of view when looking for the increased energy because she wanted it to come from the dog and/or interaction with the person, not due to the presence of a reward.

Her advice is that you must have motivation BEFORE you put them on equipment.  Once you have worked motivation in lots of other places and distractions, then go to agility and their FAVORITE obstacle and do:  motivation followed by favorite obstacle, and then done.

She talked about pressure and building confidence and comfort with it.  She said “pressure on, pressure off, that’s agility”.  It’s all about building confidence and energy.  Proofing is something completely different.

The other game she introduced was the race game.  This is what it looks like:

  • Use food or toys – depending on what dog likes
  • Beginning it should be very easy
    • The first two times the dogs win 100% of the time
    • Even once experienced they should win at least 80% of the time
  • Place food on the ground so dog sees it
    • Place it close
  • Ready…Go – dog goes, you go too, but like the 6 million dollar man in slow motion
  • Dog gets to the food first and wins
  • Build up from close to further away continuing to let the dog win
  • Once they are in the game, go to letting them win 80% of the time
    • If you win, make a big deal about having the treat
    • If you win, make sure THEY win next time, but just barely
      • However, if dog gives the treat/toy up to you with you almost getting there go back to letting them win 100% of the time for a while to build confidence and resiliency
  • Eventually after playing this game a bunch of different places and distances and such you will put one jump between the dog and the reward (and still race).
  • Once you get the drive and confidence, then you can get control

Like I said, a lot of missing pieces from the summary above, but it was really neat to watch and sounds like some really fun and easy things to do with your dog.  I especially liked the idea of building confidence.


Begin the trip home – MO to Paducah, KY


I want to do a post highlighting some of what I learned at camp, but tonight it is hot, and I am lazy, so I decided to continue with the trip updates.  Even though this means things will be out of order – oh the horror 🙂  Hopefully we’ll all be o.k. with this.

The last day of camp was a 1/2 day, and it was HOT.  It was taxing my planning brain trying to figure out how we pack to leave, and then pack from the workshop without the dogs getting too hot.  Then I got smart and thought…  Late checkout!

Once again the people at the Budget Lodging in St Clair MO did not disappoint.  Their mission is: Authentic Hospitality, and they really mean it!  They had no problem letting us check out after camp was over.  So we drove off to our last day of camp stress free because we now had a plan to keep the dogs cool while we packed – they got to stay in the air conditioned room!

Because we knew we’d have a busy day, and there were several things we wanted to see on the trip home, we didn’t plan to drive too far that afternoon.  We left the hotel and took a slightly back road option, that was very pretty, and even did a little bit of Rt 66 as we headed toward Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro), Ill.

Cheryl wanted to go there because a book she had read referenced the “little Egypt” area in Illinois and it sparked her interest.  Plus Cairo had a confluence (something else we like to visit, along with the World’s biggest things, while on road trips) of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

The bridge over the Mississippi to the park was AWESOME.

We weren’t sure how the park would be for the dogs given the heat, but when we got there we were rewarded with a REALLY nice wind.  The air was still hot, but the wind was wonderful.


Here the sibs are by the Mississippi


I actually do have one of Chance looking forward in this same spot, but thought this was kind of cute because he looks like he is smiling at his sister.  They both really enjoyed this stop.

Then here they are on the other side of the park next to the Ohio river


The “barge” in the background looks like some sort of storage unit.  We also saw tugboat type boats pushing these through the water.  Must be another way to move goods from one area to another.DSC_0463

And of course we needed a picture at the confluence where the two rivers came together


They also had a small tower we could climb for a better view of the confluence


Even with the breeze it started to get a little warm so we loaded the dogs back up in the van with the a/c maxed out (same as always) and headed out.  Cheryl wanted to check out the downtown of Cairo real quick and I’m so glad she did.

I wish I had taken pictures because the place was so weird.  It was like a ghost town.  There was literally no one and nothing in the town.  The only “life” we saw was someone had painted murals on the wall by the railroad tracks.  It actually felt a little creepy to me, but what an interesting experience.

It got even more interesting when Cheryl started reading about the history of the town.  If you are interested you can find some info here:

We left Cairo by way of another bridge (this time over the Ohio) and some really nice country roads on to Paducah, KY where we stopped for the night.

It was a great day and a super fun side trip.  I am so glad Cheryl wanted to go there.  In fact, her interest in seeing that one place set up the plan (at least sort of) for the route for the rest of our drive home and it brought us to lots of amazing places that day and each day after.


Day 3 – IN to Purina Farms


On our last leg of the trip to Purina Farms we did a “world’s largest” tour stopping to see all sorts of neat big things that we could stick the dogs in front of for a picture.

We started with what was supposed to be the world’s largest horseshoe, but we had trouble finding it.  You will see in the picture below why.  It is bigger than a horseshoe for sure, but not all that large compared with some of the things to come.  The horseshoe was at a fair location which hadn’t gotten started yet, but where we met some nice people that worked at the carnival that was in town.  There was something about the man that the dogs just LOVED, they both melted into him.  It was so cute.


From here it was a short trip down the street to Casey Illinois.  On our way to downtown and the largest wind chime and rocking chair we were diverted to Richard’s Farm Restaurant where not only did they have pretty gardens, but we saw ….


The world’s largest pitchfork!


At the local, very welcoming, golf course we saw the world’s largest golf tee, but since it was through the clubhouse we couldn’t sit the dogs in front of it.  We took a picture anyway 🙂


Then back to our original destination of downtown Casey for the world’s largest

Rocking chair


Wind chime


Cheryl even rang the wind chime


A HUGE mailbox – that you could actually climb up into, but it was too hot with the dogs so we just took a drive by picture


The giant pencil


And the birdcage


We had a great time in Casey with all their fun “World’s Biggest”.  It has done a lot for tourism and we met people from all over the place.


After Casey we had one more stop on our way to Purina Farms……  The fire breathing dragon!  And yup, it was big too.


Here we ran into people we had seen in Casey which was fun.  They recognized us because of the dogs.  They actually live relatively close to one of our planned stops for the way home….  Foam Henge!

And we ended the day arriving a camp!


Wish I had taken a picture of the hotel because they were AWESOME.  So very very nice, the rooms were great, lots of grass for the dogs, and they even had a fenced in area where they could run, or sniff if you are Chance, or walk to get the rest of our “required” steps if you are Cheryl and I.  It was a really wonderful place to stay.  I would definitely stay there again if I was passing through on another road trip.




Driving to Camp Day 2 – NY to IN


Turns out the Falconer-Jamestown RRI (where there are the nicest people working) is in the hometown of Lucille Ball!  They have a festival every year that wasn’t happening when we were there, but they also have murals painted on the walls in town.  Here is an example of one we went in search of before heading off for the day:


We left Jamestown NY and headed for Ohio.  Next planned stop was Columbus OH where we wanted to see the Arnie Statue, the Topiary of French People, and German Village.  Plus I had never been to Columbus – really, we didn’t need any other reason than that to stop.

Upon reaching Columbus our first stop was the Arnie statue.  However, after getting stuck in some crazy traffic when one person decided to block an entire street while waiting for a parking spot – seriously!  And multiple times around the block where it was supposed to be, we could not find the statue.  From what we can tell the statue was moved due to construction outside the convention center.  We were disappointed we couldn’t get a picture for Jeff and Bill, but the adventure was still fun.

Next stop was the topiary garden of french people.  After reading the write-up in we had to go.  This is what they said:

“Whenever we carefully shape a road trip itinerary, topiary gardens are inevitably pruned from the must-see attractions list. Why bother with ’em, when a moderately nimble homeowner equipped with electric clippers and a free weekend can artistically render a whole front yard? Public topiary must offer something really special.

But we like one sculpted landscape, in downtown Columbus. It’s big, eerie….and French.

Columbus artist James T. Mason conceived and designed this topiary recreation of Georges Seurat’s impressionist painting, A Sunday Afternoon On The Island of La Grande Jatte.”

– See more at:




From the topiary garden we headed over to German Village.  This is a section of Columbus with brick roads, adorable small houses with exceptionally well kept gardens.  If it wasn’t so hot we may have walked around, but after our time in the gardens the dogs needed the a/c so we did “drive by tourism” instead.  It was fun to get a feel for that area of the city.

We left the city and headed to Dublin OH where we read there were huge cement corn cobs.  And no, I can’t tell you why, but what I can tell you is Cheryl had the awesome idea of us doing a little heeling and other fun behaviors around them.  They dogs did great and  we all had fun working together in the corn field.


Traffic was pretty heavy on the highway by the time we were done playing here, so Cheryl used her magic iPad to find us a back route away from the traffic.  It was awesome.  Through fields (real ones) and pretty single lane roads we continued on our way towards Indianapolis IN where we planned to stay for the night.

However, before our hotel, we had one more stop to make.  It was recommended due to the good snacks, clean restrooms and it did boast a large candle (picture opportunity!).  Plus it was a good distance between Columbus and IN to get the dogs out.

Turned out to be an even better stop than we originally realized as they allowed the dogs in the store!



We had a great time wandering the store, enjoying the A/C, and meeting lots of people.  Not surprisingly the dogs generated a lot of attention that they ate up.  This is where we bought the damn it doll that Cheryl showed on FB and we bought a little cheap bling as a reminder of our visit here too.  It was a small way we could think of to thank the store for being so friendly to us and the dogs.

After leaving the Warm Glow Candle outlet store, we headed across the highway to rectify something that had been missing from our trip so far – DQ!


The days adventures ended in one of the worst RRI I have EVER been to, but we slept well and were in good shape for the final leg of our trip to Missouri the next day.  So that was all that mattered.


The Trip to DFA Camp – Day 1 – NH to NY


I am finally getting around to posting about the amazing, awesome, super fun road trip Cheryl, Zurri, Chance and I took to Purina Farms in Missouri for Fenzi camp.

We started our trip with the plan to meet at Dennis and Diane VanPelt’s house.  They kindly agreed to allow us to leave a car at their house for our trip.  This helped a lot with the logistics.  However, when Cheryl arrived we hit a snag – her van refused to go into gear, including park!  Luckily this happened in the driveway instead of on the highway, but we were at a loss on what to do.  Cheryl called Bill and told her “go on your vacation, I will take care of it”.  How nice is that????

So we transferred Zurri and all Cheryl’s stuff to my van and off we went.  Since we like exploring different roads, and despite the fact that Cheryl had already been on it before, we decided to take Rt 88 instead of 90 on our way towards Erie PA.  What an awesome road!  Pretty, open, and an easy drive.  I loved it.

We arrived in Corning NY around dinner time and decided to stop to get the dogs out for a walk.  I had heard it was a neat town.  We headed toward the Corning Glass Museum and even though it was too hot leave the dogs in the car so we could go in, the woman at the museum was really nice and helpful.

DSC_0207She told us about a walk over the river we could take that would lead us to a cute downtown street for us all to stretch our legs on.

The bridge was a for people only and had a beautiful view of the river and the really cool Corning Glass Headquarters.


On the other side of the bridge was this neat bank.  O.K.  So a bank is boring, but the decoration over the drive through is pretty neat.


We walked down the street and came across a Mediterranean restaurant with outside seating that not only allowed us to eat with the dogs at, but brought them a bowl of water.  So fun!


On the way back we got one last picture of the dogs, the river, and the glass structure of the Corning Headquarters.


Then back on the road to Falconer NY where we stayed for the night.  What a fun day!


Snow! Or as Cheryl calls it “the required dog in snow pics”


It is a beautiful sunny day and Chance has decided to enjoy hanging out in the snow for awhile. I figured I’d get some pictures now before we get an additional 12-16″ that is due tomorrow. Based on how much fun he is having today, I suspect he will be thrilled with the added snow tomorrow. Milo, on the other hand, is happily sitting inside on the couch with me!

It started when I went looking for Chance to see if he wanted to come in, I checked the usual spots and couldn’t find him.  Finally I looked down one end of the yard and this is what I saw.  Can you see his head barely above the snow by the tree?


Of course I was compelled to take his picture, which we all knows he hates ever since the trip to Colorado when I “tortured” him almost hourly taking his picture in front of all sorts of cool things (LOVE those pictures, so too bad Chance 😉  ).  Anyway, once I went out there he started tooling around in the snow in and I found a couple of sticks for him to play with.  No good pictures of him leaping through the snow, but I do have a few from one he landed at one spot or another.  And since Cheryl said it was required, and Jeff was asking about when I was going to blog again, I figured I’d share them here.











Happy Sunday!

Weekend Update!


It was a fun and busy weekend for all of us. Saturday started with a trip to Maine to see Dr Cindy. Chance had wiped out in the yard and Milo was looking “wonky” in his back end and by some miracle we were able to coordinate schedules and get them in on a Saturday. Yippee! I always feel better after the dogs see Dr. Cindy.

The super excellent news was there was VERY LITTLE wrong with Chance. This was especially nice to hear given all the training we have been doing lately in both draft and agility.

Milo was a different story, but hopefully after the visit he is on the mend.

After the visit we all went to a party hosted by Lynn and Lloyd Jones. It was super fun! Typically this would be the weekend of the Carroll County Shows, but unfortunately that club is no more, so there was no show. But we had our Saturday night gathering despite that! I brought my camera, but forgot to take pictures. Duh!

I wish I had captured when Chance saw “Grampa Jon” and “Grandma Judy”. He was SO HAPPY to see them and so cute. He was literally turning himself inside out with joy. What fun to watch.

Sunday was training time. Chance, Uncle Bentley, and Molly all did carting, and Milo did a nosework hide. We worked at the old high school in Conway with the beautiful backdrop of the mountains behind us.


It was club soccer day so there were all sorts of distractions as adults, kids, dogs, and soccer balls went cruising on by where we were training. I thought overall the dogs handled the distractions well – although a couple of times the kids were a little close for Chance to be able to not go over and give them a kiss 🙂

Here are some pictures from training:

Lloyd and Uncle B doing a fabulous job with the maneuvering course



Uncle B getting ready to be greeted by the “friendly stranger”  AKA Jeff




A show of the lovely attention Uncle B gave Lloyd as they worked together


The group stay, kind of dark, but we wanted to keep the dogs in the shade for it.



Chance after his freight haul.  Overall Chance did a nice job today, but the freight haul was frustrating as he kept stopping and he was going really slow.  I think Jeff hit the nail on the head when he said Chance was lacking confidence.  And since we were going as a group I felt more pressure to keep up and keep moving which I’m sure Chance could feel as well.  Half way through we did maneuvering around trees near a pretty busy and distracting street.  We did it one at a time and Chance did a great job!  After that we did the reverse freight haul back and he did much better, I think only one stop and he was moving at a better pace.  Need to figure this out soon as we have sent in our entry for Watchung!

I know it’s similar to the picture above, but here’s another of Chance in his cart (these are the only ones I have of him) from today:


Once carting was done Jeff and Milo did a hide.   You can see here where they were all coming out after his successful find.  I stayed back at the car as I think sometimes my presence distracts or confuses Milo about which sport we are doing at the moment.  So not an actual find picture, but a fun one of everyone as they walk happily back towards me


And finally Milo hanging out basking in his success with Lynn and Lloyd in the background helping me get a good picture.  Thanks to them there were actually several good ones to choose from, but I won’t torture you with all of them!




Thank you Lynn and Lloyd for another super fun weekend and a great training session.


Carting Practice


Chance and I are training to be ready for draft season this fall. We are having fun working on all aspects, and I have been a bit surprised by what was needed for conditioning of “only” 20 pounds. I think it is more about how it feels than the strength needed. Or maybe it was the heat. Anyway, today I added 5 pounds to put us at 15 total and he pulled it like it was nothing. No signs that anything had changed and no trouble at all. Maybe it’s because of all the miles we have put in or the fact that we have been training in lots of different places, but whatever the reason it was really cool to see.


In the past few weeks we have trained around town in various locations, down the Cape, and in Maine. Here are some pictures of our training last weekend while at a park up in Maine. This park was awesome. Not only was it right on the ocean, but it was full of distractions. Nothing too close, but all around us. I was really pleased with how well Chance did.  Along with conditioning his backup and practice load, unload, and greetings are all coming along.  I do need to figure out a way to set up narrows so we can practice that too.  Only 6 weeks to go til the tests start…….




After the training session we did a little photo shoot by the ocean




My training schedule for the dogs has been off for the past month. While I have done small things, I have not been working at the level I typically like (for them and me). But I am happy to report that things seem to be getting back on track. The past few days we have done carting and agility training – still need to figure out how to fit in tracking as well, but I am happy with the progress we have made in terms of getting it back in the daily schedule.

Saturday we did carting where we practiced basic control, maneuvering, a freight haul (with 5 lbs to get going on conditioning) and stays.  Additionally we had distractions of our neighbors coming to say hi, them talking in their yard during the recall (that was an interesting moment while I waited to see if Chance was going to pick me or them to come to) and doing the freight haul by barking dogs.  Chance did a great job with all of it.  I was thrilled.  No pictures of us doing the training, but here are some of his cool off spots after the excellent carting work.




We also did some agility practice.  We have been taking private lessons and I LOVE them.  The woman I am working with is very careful with us (I have more concerns than Chance does I think) and breaks things down into tiny pieces that all ensure success and safety.  After this practice Chance had a new cool off location as we put a fence across the door to the new porch and we sat out there.  It was awesome!  Still some work to be done to finish it off, but with the railings up (so no falling two stories off the front of the porch) and the roof on we enjoyed a lovely view, nice shade, and an awesome breeze.  Chance loves it out there!



I know kind of goofy with his tongue sticking out, but I still thought it was cute.




And one last picture of all “the boys” enjoying the new porch.  As you can see, Milo is the only one who will cooperate with getting his picture taken.