May 7th 2009 3:50 pm
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RB: Gigi, you are a rescue and Rickie you are not. How did your parents find you? How did you get the names Gigi-Harper's Giddy Upp and Bur-Way It's Like this?
Gigi: My mommy does a lot of rescue work. At the time, she was fostering dogs for several groups and had put the word out that she wanted a small fast dog to use in agility. A volunteer at a local shelter was working intake when I was brought into the pound after being left outside a Mexican market for 2 days and 2 nights (yes, I still hate MARIACHI music). She called my mom and asked if she would foster me, and added that I might be the perfect agility dog for her. She agreed to foster me and 2 weeks later, during the adopt-a-thon and on Mother’s day weekend, she came and formally adopted me. I was on sale. I cost 35 bucks... of course, mommy didn't know that at the time, but she says that things that are on sale are even MORE special than stuff you pay full price for.
I got my name Gigi because I was a Good Girl (2 g's... get it?) and then since my older sister is named Harpur's PJpupp and my brother is Harpur's Winston Cupp she wanted something that started with Harpurs and ended with an upp so I became Harpur's Giddy Upp for any agility registrations.
Rickie Roo: I was a birthday gift to my mommy from my breeder at Bur Way Stars Kennel in Texas. I got my name after a Rickie Lee Jones Album called It's Like this. My call name - the name they call me every day is Rickie Roo. That's cause I was already Rickie, but I have big kangaroo ears and I hop up and down a lot.
RB: Tell us about your breed Rat Terriers?
Rickie Roo: Well I think the headline under MY photo in the June 2008 issue of Dog World sums it up nicely - This frisky firecracker is an intelligent and loyal companion
Gigi: Here is some info from the Rat Terrier Club of America : Rat Terriers crave human companionship and attention. They are unusually sensitive, intuitive, anxious to please, very determined and thrive on praise. Rat Terriers make good housedogs and can be crate trained, but don't generally do well in kennels. They love people and enjoy companionship too much. Just move and they're there like a shadow! Most dogs' think they are human, Rat Terriers KNOW that they are! Whether you're active, or a "couch potato", most will adapt to about any lifestyle that you may lead.
Rat Terrier's as puppies are very active and will require a lot more time, attention and effort than an older dog, but RT's are usually very sociable and will remain playful and active throughout their lifetime. If you'd consider being "owned" by a Rat Terrier, then this may be the breed for you!!!
Rat Terriers can be very loyal, active and extremely playful. Activity slows down as the dog ages, but dogs generally remain playful throughout their lives. They are highly intelligent and are generally easy to train and housebreak.
Many love agility and obedience, and excel at it, as they are so eager to please their owners and are very quick. After a puppy is proper inoculated, a puppy obedience course is highly recommended for every (owner and their) dog to help train and be properly socialized. In today's society, ALL dogs should be socialized at an early age. Start early and keep it up.
Rat Terriers are smart and can get bored. (It is recommended that your puppy "meet" 100 people by the time it is 4-5 months old). An obedience course provides professional help for both the owner and their dog, while aids in bonding and the development of good social skills that will remain a lifetime. (Be careful, as they tend to be easily over-corrected. A sharp verbal admonition/scolding is enough for a young puppy.)
They are perfectly content to be near their owner and make great housedogs. They are not generally yappers or barkers, but they can be very demanding, using their paws and most are somewhat vocal, especially when ignored.
You can read more about Rat Terriers, and even learn some presidential history - yep a famous president of the U.S. LOVED our breed at: http://www.ask.com/bar?q=rat+terrier+club+of+america&page=1& qsrc=121 &ab=0&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ratterrierclub.com%2F
RB: You are a winner in agility. Tell us what got you started on agility. What were the beginner's hurdles? How did you overcome and become a winner? What is the secret to your success?
Gigi: I am officially MACH Harpur's Giddy Upp - MACH stands for Master Agility Champion in the AKC. I will soon be a dual champion and have a title in another org within a short time maybe even before the month is over if I am good. I got started in agility because mommy took me to agility classes. My older sister PJpupp and her two buddies Mojo, Magi, Mushu and Perry all were on an agility team together, so I joined the team. First I took obedience classes. You can't do agility if you don't come when called or just zoomie around the field. Mommy did what they call floor work with me - where I go between the uprights of the jumps yet don't actually jump so she could teach me how to pay attention to when I needed to switch sides to get to the next obstacle, etc. She also put me on very low A frames and teeter totters. I was very afraid of the teeter totter. It makes a lot of noise. My daddy made me a itty bitty teeter totter that only was 1 foot high in the middle and I had to do a teeter to get my lunch. Slowly mommy made the teeter higher and higher and I don't mind it at all! Since I was already 2 when I was adopted, I was able to compete pretty quickly. I entered my first trial 6 weeks after I was adopted and competed in a jumpers class (jumps only) and a tunnelers class (tunnels only) and took first place in both. I was doing great but one day when at home, my parents woke up to find me 3 leggin it... I had torn a ligament in my hock and had to be in a cast for a very very long time. I rehabbed nicely and began to compete again... not a full schedule of 5 classes a day, but 1 or 2 a day instead.
One of my first trials back was a historical one - I became the first ever rat terrier to earn a title in competition in the AKC. It was in Jan of 2006. They even did a story about it in the AKC gazette. Mommy was very proud. Then I worked on earning my championship. Since I compete in multiple organizations it took a while - 2 years. But it was fun. I guess the secret to my success is having a good attitude. If either mommy or I are cranky our runs don't go too well. Most of the time if there is a mistake it's mommy's fault... and I make sure she knows it.
Rickie Roo: I'm just starting to compete - I'm not yet 2 years old so there is lots of time for me still. I have only 3 titles so far while my sister has maybe 30 or more. Mommy says not to tell Gigi, but I am gonna be WAY better than her - mommy says it's not Gigi's fault, I'm just spunkier and mommy has learned so much about handling since the time she got Gigi. After all, she does show 15 different dogs of different sizes. She should have learned something in all that time! Our sister PJ is a champion too, as are several of the dogs mommy shows, so one day I will be a champion too. Mommy says I am VERY Bold and not afraid of anything... which can be a good or a bad thing. Then again, she says I'm the naughtiest puppy in the world. I don't know why she would say that.
RB: Can all dogs do agility? What are the breed specific concerns that owners need to think about? For example, my sister is a corgi. We have heard conflicting things about short-legged dogs and agility.
Gigi: Our family believes that most dogs can do agility. For some dogs that are build longer and lower to the ground, there may be concerns re: the angles of some of the equipment, however, we know MANY dogs like your sister that are top competitors in the sport. If a doggie is healthy, fit and has a good working attitude you can certainly do agility. If you are overweight, have back issues or loose patellas, you should check with your vet first to make sure you are OK to give it a go.... now that I think about it the same holds true for your person. BOL!
Rickie Roo: We see LOTS of different kinds of dogs at the shows, Basset Hounds, Great Danes and of course Border Collies, Shelties... there are lots of unusual breeds too. It's fun to see them all. Little dogs compete against little dogs and big dogs against big dogs. The herding dogs tend to learn faster as it is in their general make up to want to please their people and do what they ask, while terriers like us tend to be a bit more independent and try to figure out how to solve the problem without any help from our people... in this sport it is a team a person and a dog, so us dogs have to figure out how to get our people to show us where they want to go in a way that we understand.
RB: We read that you do a show a week. How much time does that take? How often do you train?
Rickie Roo: My mommy has us in school all the time. She says that human kids go to school everyday so we can too. All of us train a little bit every day. Sometimes only 2 15 minute sessions. Not all of it is agility. Some is tricks, or obedience or just running and having fun. A canine athlete has to keep fit! I have 1 hour group classes on Mon night and Thurs night with 1 1/2 hours of private lessons added to that on Thurs morning. Most of the time mommy gives us short quick lessons - so fast we didn't even know it was a lesson, we thought it was just play time!
Gigi: I have classes on Monday (Mommy teaches the classes and I run with several of her students since they don't own dogs) for 2 hours and on Wed I have one hour group class with a different teacher, on Thurs I have 1/2 hour private lessons with that same teacher.
Mommy shows dogs almost every single weekend. I compete in all of the shows unless I am sick or something. Some shows are AKC and we only have 2 classes a day, some are USDAA or CPE where we may have 5 classes a day. We have different friends come with us depending on what kind of show it is since some let mixed breeds play and some don't. Roo and I get to play at them all since we are purebred. Roo doesn't show as much as me yet, 'cause she's still young.
We saw a picture of you wearing a diamond collar. Is that really real? Wow!
Gigi: That was me! And yes, it is 325,000 necklace. Mommy thought it was what you call a knock off when we modeled it and didn't know until after we were done that it was real. She didn't let me keep it. She said it was either the necklace for me, or our house for all of us and we needed the house. You can see the necklaces at ilovedogsdiamonds.com - if you go to each necklace and look at the images you will see either me or one of my friends wearing them.
RB: What would you advise pups who want to go into agility?
Gigi: Be nice to your mommy or daddy. Listen to them. If you love treats, let them know, if you prefer toys let them know. If they are boring you, just lay down. Your person will figure out how to get you interested to play. Enjoy yourself and have fun. Oh and if you see someone outside the ring that you REALLY want to say hi to, try to wait until after the run. The judges don't really like it if you go visiting when you are supposed to be competing.
Rickie Roo: Run FAST - have FUN - Train, Don't Complain!
That's what I hear my mommy say when I make a mistake. Train don't complain... don't make excuses why something was the fault of some other person, dog or thing, just figure out how to fix it. If you are in a bad mood, it's better not to train than to share your bad mood with your partner - especially if you are the cranky person... remember that us dogs didn't sign up for the agility class or trial, YOU did. Oh and remember that the BEST DOG at the show that day is YOUR DOG!
RB: What is the difference between agility and rally?
Gigi: Agility is an obstacle course where a dog and handler try to be the fastest dog with the least mistakes. There are jumps, tunnels, weave pole, A Frames, teeter totters and more. Dogs run full blast if they can and often get quite far away from their handlers while still maintaining a connection with their handlers. Rally is a form of obedience where they set out a bunch of signs with words and arrows on them and you follow the signs and words and do what they say. Once in a while there is a jump, but most of it is done at your handlers side.
RB: Anything else you would like to share?
Gigi: We love our Dogster friends and thank all of them for being so nice to us.
Rickie Roo: Yeah to what she said.
September 21st 2008 1:17 pm
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I won’t forget that summer day
when we went to a park so we could play.
An agility trial in which we race
to try to earn another first place.
We get there early it's still quite dark
to that big and grassy city park.
We set our chairs up near the ring
There's so much stuff we must bring.
Our crates, a mat and lots more stuff
hauling it all gets a bit tough.
We are settled now, so we check in
we are ready for our day to begin.
We look at our courses, and make our plan
hey it's hot... did we remember the fan??
Over a hundred degrees it is today,
I hope my little one will still want to play.
We need just a few points on a run that is clean
to earn the title of our dreams.
To the line we will go, focused and steady
she looks like she's happy and almost ready.
The timer says GO and she is aquiver
if she is good, she'll earn some liver.
Over, over, over, CLIMB -
I begin to cross behind.
Through a tunnel she will zip
and climb the Aframes very high tip.
Past the judge with a smile on her face
The agility course is her favorite place.
On the course with her favorite friend
that's me of course - the one she defends.
She trains hard, but her work is play
she'll do it again every single day.
The table is next and she must sit fast
the judge counts down and she's off in a blast.
To the teeter she will climb and tip
her tail a wagging when it dips.
She waits til told, then runs so fast
to the next obstacle her eyes are cast.
She begins to weave and weave again
and starts to wonder if it will ever end.
The crowds are cheering, she's so proud
although they really ARE getting loud.
She looks to me and I say O.K!
She runs even faster without delay.
She jumps the finish and we celebrate
that run she did that was so great.
Our time is posted, and to our surprise
she was faster than those really good guys!
She gives me kisses as I do her
we were so fast, it's still a blur.
I leash her up, and off we run,
she knows what's next, and it's REALLY fun.
SOME COOKIES!! A TOY!! A GREAT REWARD
Of this game, she can never be bored!
As we guessed, she wins it all
and when she did it she had a ball.
She's now a champion, a really big deal
The ribbon is huge...it's gold and it's teal.
To us it is special and as she is crowned
we marvel at this girl we got at the pound.
Our joy, our love, our true athlete
who brought this crowd to their feet.
Was once abandoned and cold and scared
hoping and dreaming she would be spared.
She's proof to all who expressed their doubt
she now has credentials and lots of clout.
My rattie, my terrier, my little Gi
I sure am glad I answered her plea!
We hope that her story will help to remind
that shelter dogs so easy to find
Can be champions- show dogs too
Can't you go and save just a few?