Tuesday, June 28, 2011


From time to time a friend or neighbor who knows we go to dog shows will ask, "Been to any competitions lately?  Note that the person didn't say, "Been to any exhibitions lately? They may not have a clue what we do when we get there, but they have the concept.  Why doesn't the American Kennel Club?  Why don't most of the rest of us?

We participate in competition obedience, not exhibition obedience.

Let's pause here and consult "Webster's Dictionary of the English Language."

exhibit 1. to display something, especially a work of art, in a public place such as a museum or gallery  2. to show something off for others to look at or admire

exhibitor  somebody who exhibits something, especially somebody whose artistic work is exhibited

compete  to try to win or do better than others

competition 1.  the process of trying to win or do better than others  2.  an activity in which people try to win something or do better than others

competitor  a person, animal or group taking part in a competition

OK, compare:  exhibit with compete, exhibitor with competitor.  Pretty clear isn't it?

Around here, just about every time I walk into an Open B or Utility B ring ( and not in a museum or gallery) I lock horns with Dick Guetzloff.  And if , in a few days, I were entered in the border collie specialty in Ventura, California (I'm not), I'd have to (try to) survive encounters with the likes of Betty Cunningham, Louise Meredith, Flo Walberg, and Catherine Zinsky. (That's called piling on.)

Folks what's going on in those rings ain't no exhibitions.  And we ain't no exhibitors.  We're competitors.  I contend that the same holds true for those who are entered in rally and agility.

I can swallow "exhibitor" for those showing in conformation. They are, after all, displaying their dogs as fine examples of the breed -- living, breathing, stacking, gaiting works of art.  But for those of us in competition obedience, no!  We're competitors, not exhibitors.

Oh, and one more thing.  This business of  "the fancy."  Webster shows that usage of fancy seventh and dead last.

fancy enthusiasts of a sport or pastime, especially boxing  (archaic)

If I am to take myself seriously as a member of the fancy, I feel the need to dress appropriately.  Anyone know where I can get a 1930s outfit?


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Wallow Fire  After I posted the item about "The Animals of the Wallow Fire," several people wondered where that name came from.  So did I.  A little research revealed that the fire started in the lush, pristine (well, it used to be) Bear Wallow Wilderness.  The area, crisscrossed by the Bear Wallow Creek, is in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, south of Hannagan Meadow.  Before the fire, the area was a hiker's dream.

Shriekers  I've never met a good trainer who had to yell at her dogs (usually repeatedly) to get them to obey.  "Perhaps if I can overwhelm Fluffy with decibels . . . "  (For instance: DOWN!!!!)  What's most infuriating about shriekers is when one of them is in the ring next to yours.

And then there are those who train their dogs using a high falsetto voice.  I can only imagine what the poor pooches think about being "shrilled" at.

The best-performing dogs I've seen have been trained by handlers who use calm, well-modulated voices. Show me a shrieker, I'll show you a bad trainer.

Airports  Following my posts about training in PetSmart and The Home Depot, a follower commented that in my books I had mentioned training in airports.  Indeed, both Honeybear and Bebop honed their attention skills in Sky Harbor International Airport here in Phoenix.  There are lots of challenging areas in airports.  The concourses offer ample space and plenty of distracting activity.  My favorite, though, was the baggage claim area, especially at a time of day when many flights are arriving and the carousels are starting up.  How you use these areas, of course, depends upon your dog's level of training.

Be sure to get permission before you go, and take with you the name(s) and title(s) of the permission-givers.  After September 11, 2001, airport security tightened dramatically.  At that point I covered myself with three layers of permission -- from the director of community relations, the director of operations and, most importantly, the director of security.

Alas, things have changed.  The terminal where we practiced was directly across from the parking garage.  That terminal has since closed and parking (for my high-profile vehicle) is a country mile from the other terminals.  To make matters worse, a Skytrain is about to go into service at the airport.  So we'd park, ride the train . . . oh, forget it!

Have you trained in a unique area?  If so, please share in the comments section below.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Message From Bari Mears

Following yesterday's post, "The Animals of the Wallow Fire,"  I received an email from Bari Mears, the founder and president of PACC911.  I thought it was worth sharing.

I think the response from our community was the most rewarding part of this tragic set of circumstances.  People came forward and donated to help the animals.  They truly cared and took their time and resources to help.  What I love most is that for the first time the animals and their welfare became a mainstream concern.  In past tragedies, we kept hearing how the animals were left behind, how they were a secondary concern.  This was not the case in Arizona.  Our wonderful people came forward and made all the difference.  I was happy that PACC911 was able to get the ball rolling.  But our awesome community sure carried it to the finish line!                                                                                                                     Bari

Willard Bailey

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Here in Arizona we are presently struggling with another monster wildfire, caused by an abandoned campfire.  As I post this, the Wallow Fire is rapidly approaching one-half million acres and is weeks from being contained, despite the efforts of 4,100 firefighters from all over the United States.  By comparison, the City of Los Angeles covers 318,912 acres.  Until this week, the largest wildfire in our state's history was the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire, 461,000 acres.

I grew up in Ohio where we never imagined such a thing.  My wife Barbara grew up in Kentucky, like Arizona a heavily forested state.  Several days ago she exclaimed, "We never had fires like this in Kentucky!"  So these annual summertime conflagrations are eye-openers for us.  And they've heightened our awareness of the toll major natural disasters -- earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires -- take on animals.  In the wakes of such disasters, many are dead, others are orphaned and many are safe because of the near-heroic efforts of folks who care deeply.

In the path of the Wallow Fire, the communities of Alpine, Eager, Greer, Nutrioso, and Springerville were evacuated.  Those are rural towns on the eastern edge of Arizona.  Hence, they are home to a profusion of animals.  With evacuation comes displacement.  People and animals need to find someplace else to stay.

By Wednesday evening, June 8, word reached Phoenix that the Wallow fire had attained mega-monster proportions.  That evening a group was meeting in the new training center of Villa La Paws, a pet resort and spa.  They were planning a "Bowl-A-Rama" fundraising event to benefit homeless animals.  The meeting was about to conclude when Bari Mears, founder and president of Phoenix Animal Care Coalition (PACC911) asked for a minute to address the group.  PACC911 brings together more than 100 animal welfare organizations in Arizona, creating whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts opportunities to work together for the benefit of animals.  Bari Mears is driven, a woman on a mission.  Her words that evening set off a stunning effort to assist the animals that had been displaced by the raging fire.

It's difficult to detail the chronology here because everything seems to have happened at once. Much of it coordinated by Tia Sylvis, PACC911's volunteer coordinator.

Before the group left the meeting room that evening,Villa La Paws had volunteered its two Phoenix facilities as staging areas to collect supplies and equipment to be sent "up the mountain."

Sherry Butler, president of Sherry Butler Communications, put out an immediate media blitz.  Live interviews began the very next morning on all the major TV stations.  The message:  the near-desperate need for supplies and medications for the animals that were pouring into the temporary shelters on the fringe of the fire-ravaged area.  Things you wouldn't normally think of, like medication for the eyes of animals that had come out of the thick smoke that was suffocating the area.

How many animals were being sheltered?  By Saturday evening, there were 75 dogs and 30 cats in an Arizona Humane Society shelter in Show Low.  The fairgrounds shelter in St. Johns (the territory of Round Valley Animal Rescue) was housing about 100 cats and 100 dogs.  Plus another 60 dogs and cats offsite in a house.

Also at the fairgrounds or offsite at nearby ranches there were 300-plus horses, 250 goats and about 150 rabbits, pigs, emus, ostriches, alpacas, etc.  Dr. Laura Harris, a Phoenix equine veterinarian, spent the weekend ministering to that group.

If you're keeping score, that's more than a thousand animals displaced by the fire and needing . . . well, everything.

By Saturday morning, the Villa La Paws staging sites were humming.  A steady stream of generous animal lovers were dropping off items as diverse as vaccines, large hard-shell crates, Clorox bleach wipes, stacks of newspapers, dog food, cat food, rabbit food, hay and more hay, cat litter, disposable litter boxes, food dishes, trash bags, stand-up floor fans, collars and leashes.  St. Mary's Food Bank (the cradle of the food bank movement in America) donated 3000 pounds of animal food.

People kept showing up with vehicles to transport all that stuff to the shelter areas.  That transport generosity was capped off when Tim Dietz, owner of Unique Heavy Recovery, showed up with one of his 18-wheelers.  By Saturday evening, it was loaded and on its way.

Then, by late Saturday, the word came that, at least for the present, the need had been met.

Well done, guys!  This blog is read by dog sports people all over America, and the racket you hear is the sound of many hands clapping.

Willard Bailey

Friday, June 10, 2011


If you're into collectibles, you may want to keep the September issue of the AKC Gazette when it arrives in your mailbox.  After nearly 123 years of continuous publication in its ink-on-paper  format, the September issue will be the last.

Beginning with the October issue, the Gazette will become an eviscerated PDF document posted monthly to the AKC website.

That information was buried on page 91 of the June issue in a section called the "secretary's page."  The item offered the standard "cost effectiveness" rationale for the change.  It didn't address the question of how many of us will get stiff necks or go blind trying to read it.

In fact, the item raised more questions than it answered.  It assured us that the "new incarnation" will continue to carry the chairman's and president's letters (Oh, thank God!), AKC updates and the breed columns.

Left unaddressed was the fate of the "meat" of the traditional magazine's content:  the features, the departments and the other columns.  So I called the AKC and learned the bad news.

Gone are the indepth articles about breeds newly recognized by the AKC.

Gone are the behavior and training articles.

Gone are the better-breeding articles.

Gone are the winners of the fiction and photography contests . . . and, I assume, the contests themselves.

Gone are the canine health features.

Gone are the articles about the excitement surrounding the agility, conformation and obedience national championships.

Gone are the judging articles.

I asked about the comprehensive events section that has been available (at extra cost) in every second issue of the magazine.  I've found that section particularly helpful because it's always at my fingertips.  When the magazine comes, I can settle into an easy chair and plan our show schedule.  But that, too, will bite the dust.  Of course, it's always been available online, but that's not the same.

The features and columns and stories mentioned above -- as well as other monthly content of interest and substance and importance -- all got the ax.  But note that the letters of the president and chairman did not. What a fascinating glimpse into the corporate culture of the AKC this offers.  What we see being manifested  here are self-importance and organizational politics.  And when this scheme came before the AKC board, it was rubber-stamped with nary a dissenting vote.

The new digital Gazette -- what's left of it -- will be available to everyone, free of charge.

Come October, those who have unexpired paid Gazette subscriptions will have the option of receiving a pro rata refund or a corresponding number of issues of Family Dog, the AKC's magazine aimed primarily at pet homes. I'm told a letter to that effect will go out to subscribers later this month.

On a happier note, the Show Awards, a publication that has irritatingly been mailed to subscribers as a CD for several years, will, beginning in January 2012, be available on the AKC website.  For free, I assume.

The American Kennel Club does an excellent job in so many ways.  Just not this time.

Willard Bailey

Monday, June 6, 2011


Across the Decade of the Nineties, Dick Guetzloff stood astride the world of competition obedience like a great colossus.  Crisscrossing America, steamrollering all who dared to show up and compete, the tall man in the black Greg Norman-style hat and his splendid border collie Sweep amassed 7,924 OTCH points.  At the time that was by far the greatest number of OTCH points accumulated by one dog in the history of our sport.

Dick and his wife Kay -- equally to be reckoned with in the competition ring -- lived here in Arizona at the time.  I got to know them well and benefitted handsomely as I studied them from ringside.  Then, for a period of several years in the mid-2000s, we lost them when they moved to San Angelo, Texas.  They moved back to the Phoenix area a few years ago. 

Blazing across the eighth decade of his life, Dick is still cleaning our clocks with regularity, now with a young border collie named Sparky.  And he hasn't changed much, either.  Hasn't mellowed at all.  Cantankerous, combative, Dick can still storm around like he's not a day over 79.

But there's another Dick Guetzloff, one those at ringside seldom -- maybe never -- see.  There's a quiet softness buried in Dick.  It was revealed to me one day last fall.

We were at a fun match in Ahwatukee, a southeastern suburb of Phoenix.  During a lull in our ring run-throughs, Dick beckoned me to a quiet area where no one else could hear.  "There's something I want you to know," he told me.  I thought maybe he was about to fess up:  Confess that back in the glory days he had a transmitter in his belt buckle and a tiny receiver implanted in Sweep's head --which it was said accounted for Sweep's near-perfect performances.  Yep, that was one of many wild rumors that circulated during the period when Dick and Sweep were all but invincible.

But no, that wasn't Dick's message at all on that fall morning.  Instead he stood out there in the warm Arizona sunshine and recited (perfectly) from memory the lines that follow here.  He had written them, he said, in the hope that they might help ease a traumatic decision for others, the decision to put a pet to sleep.

When he was finished, I told him how nice it was and that it needed to be liberated from his head and shared with others.  During the ensuing months, I cajoled, arm-twisted.  I have it now . . . and so do you.


One day I got a dog.  God gave it to me.  But, there were certain conditions that had to be met before God would allow me to keep the dog.  God said, "These are the conditions.  You will have to take good care of the dog and never let him suffer.  You must give him food, water and shelter and keep him safe from harm.

"But that isn't all," God said.  "There will come a day when your dog will have to be returned to me."

"But God," I said, "when will that day come, and how am I to know?"

God replied, "Do not worry, my child, when that day comes, you will know, you will know."

Then God told me, "In your years together, your dog will bring you much joy and happiness, asking little in return.  He will give you unending love and devotion.  He will make you laugh when you are sad; he will give you companionship when you are lonely.  He will be truly faithful and trusting.  He will lick your face and hands, showing everlasting love for you."

God then said, " "Many years will pass before the day comes when your dog must be returned to me.  This will be a very difficult day for you, but I will be there to console and comfort you, and give you strength.  After your veterinarian has given your dog his final sleep on earth, I will take him and lead him through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, protecting him from evil and harm.  We will walk through beautiful fields of flowers, and songbirds will be singing as we go up the stairway to Heaven, to the Rainbow Bridge in the sky.  It is there, by the Rainbow Bridge, where your dog will be waiting for you.  Some day, when you arrive, you can cross the Rainbow Bridge together."

Dick Guetzloff, Heelalong Kennels
November, 2003

Friday, June 3, 2011


If you live and show in an area where all dog shows are held indoors, what follows may be of little interest to you.

Responding to my comments about the training advantages PetSmart offers, makrasouth spoke of liking to train in PetSmart in the winter or on rainy days.

Winter?  What's winter?  Here in the Sonoran Desert winter is one day in January.

We do get occasional rain, though.  And it can come in torrents.  Because most of our obedience trials are outdoors, there's always a chance a dog show will be held in a downpour.  Remember, dog shows get cancelled only if there's close-in lightning or if the grounds are flooded -- and I do mean flooded, not just a lot of puddles.

So I have strong feelings about preparing my dogs to be competitive in the rain.  Not everyone around here shares my enthusiasm for training in the rain. In fact, they think I've gone around the bend.  However, I've observed that often it's not Fluffy who's averse to it.  It's the people; they don't want to get wet.  Funny thing: I've learned that all that gets wet will also get dry.

Around here (Phoenix) the problem has less to do with getting wet than it does with finding rain to train in. So if Bravo! isn't scheduled to train tomorrow but when we wake up it's raining, out we go.  And it has paid dividends.

Honeybear picked up a substantial number of OTCH points on days when other dogs couldn't or wouldn't perform in the rain.

At the time, Bonnie Lee had a marvelous papillon named Rosie.  Honeybear and Rosie were neck-and-neck as they headed toward the OTCH finish line. We'd run into each other at shows all over the West.  Once we squared off in Las Vegas.  It had rained all night and the ground was soggy.  Truth-be-told, Rosie out-performed Honeybear in the Utility B ring that morning . . . in every way but one.  Rosie said, "Oh, I'm not going to sit in that."  She didn't.  HB won Utility B and picked up nine OTCH points.

The coupe de grace came on the morning of October 17, 1999 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  It was 39 degrees at ring time.  The wind was howling and the driving rain was coming at us sideways.  Simply the worst day we had ever shown, by far.  My little golden "mudder" never flinched as she finished her Obedience Trial Championship.

So yes, we train in the rain.  We seek rain to train in.  When I hear people say, "Oh, Fluffy won't work in the rain," I think of the long-running smash musical South Pacific and the song from that show "You've Got to be Carefully Taught."