Blue Ribbon Baby!

It’s official!  Spanky is a show dog.

For his debut, we competed in the Southern Maryland Kennel Club Dog Show at the Bel Alton Fairgrounds on July 2, 2011.  Thanks to Pat Jarvis for the wonderful photos! 

The show catalog and results: http://www.infodog.com/RESULTS/2011172903/201117290336300.HTM

We arrived early so I could walk Spanky around a bit and let him get used to things.  He was THRILLED to be there.  I had to keep a 2-3 foot radius from the other dogs though, because as far as Spanky was concerned, the dog show was some new and fabulous dog park.  He couldn’t wait to meet all the people and other dogs.  

Spanky waiting ringside

 
In the ring, I couldn’t have been prouder of my boy!  The judge caught us a bit by surprise and I didn’t get a chance to fully stack him up before she started her exam.  But Spanky showed off his bite and bits like a champ.
Stacking for the judge

He moved out and gaited just like we practiced and wagged his happy little tail the whole time.

Spanky gaiting

 

Winners Dog Line-up

 We went home with our first blue ribbon: 1st place in the 6-9 month puppy dog class! 
1st Place in the 6-9 Month Puppy Dog Class
 
 

For our 2nd show, we went to the Catoctin Kennel Club Dog Show at the Howard County Fairgrounds on July 7, 2011.  Thanks to Kim Blankenship for the wonderful photos! 

The show catalog and results: http://www.infodog.com/RESULTS/2011241003/201124100336300.HTM

 Everyone warned me that this particular site is difficult, but I was still not prepared.  It was noisy and miserably hot, with very little room to move the dogs around, but Spanky did me proud once again.  He was completely unphased by all the commotion.  The heat was another story and I filled his bowl three times while we were waiting and he kept laying down on the concrete to cool off.
 
As it turns out Spanky is a patriot.  At the start of the dog show, they started playing the National Anthem and everyone turned and was very respectful .  Spanky noticed what was going on and sat up to see what everyone was looking at! 

Spanky listening to the national anthem

Such a busy-body:  watching all the other breeds in the ring while we waited our turn.

Spanky waiting to go in the ring

 

By the time it was our turn, Spanky was wiped, but he stacked up and and gave it his all. 

Stacking for the judge

Spanky on the move

The judge won points from Spanky by squeaking a little toy to get his attention: a big plus in Spanky’s eyes.  And Spanky got 1st Place in the 6-9 Month Puppy Dog Class and Reserve Winner’s Dog for his effort!

Spanky says, "Give me the ribbon!"

 But we were both very happy to get out of there and into the air conditioned car.

Packing up

 New ribbons for the wall!

Ribbons

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Spanky Learns to Swim

So I had this crazy idea that I wanted Spanky to learn to swim. My logic was as follows: any mastiff who lives long enough is probably going to get arthritis. So I thought, wouldn’t it be great to introduce swimming when Spanky is young so that when he is older, he can enjoy the therapeutic aspects of it? Plus, I figured Spanky was just bold enough and nosy enough to be teach-able in this way.

I don’t think I’ve even mentioned that my nut-puppy, who will stick his head into the dryer, the refrigerator, the shower (while I’m in it), the sprinklers and the hose… will not put his Princess paws into a puddle. That’s right. After a rain, this puppy will walk all the way around to avoid getting his paws wet. So I figured this might be a challenge.

I looked online and I found a place that is pretty close to us: The Canine Fitness Center
in Crownsville, MD and I made an appointment.

I was surprised how large the pools were, since I thought they looked like two little wading pools in the photos online:

The Canine Fitness Center Pools

I think we were both a little anxious at first. Me, because I really wanted it to go well and I really had no idea what to expect. I think Spanky was feeding off of me a bit as place was like nowhere else he had ever seen before, but as always, he walked into this new situation with such enthusiasm! He was happy that the lobby was fully of toys and people happy to pet him.

Waiting in the lobby

The first step was getting fitted for a life jacket.

Safety First!

Our trainer, Seth was very patient and encouraging with Spanky, who needed a little coaxing to get into the pool. But once he was in, I was surprised and so pleased by how well Spanky did! He swam around the pool like a champ.

Getting to know Seth, the Trainer

No way, Jose

I'm outta here!

First steps in the pool

Incredibly, this boy never once tucked his tail. I’m constantly amazed by how willing Spanky is to try new things. The dogs stay on a long lead at first to keep them from trying to climb out the side of the pool, but after only two laps, Seth set Spanky free and he just followed me around the pool, swimming free. What a brave puppy!

Life with Spanky is FUN and the video from his Swimming Adventure are at the end of this clip:

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Best in Play

Spanky went to the Chesapeake Mastiff Club Fun Match today. He had a blast leaping on any dog that ventured within reach and torturing his littermate sister, Darla.

It was also Spanky’s first long car ride, so I was a little anxious about how it would go. He only recently started riding loose in the cargo space of my station wagon and I was very happy with his good behavior! Spanky slept most of the trip and I only saw his head pop up in my rear view mirror a few times, and then he entertained himself with a squeaky toy in the back. This was a wonderful reward for all our training: this was a puppy who cried and whined horribly for his first few car rides. Multiple short car rides per week with yummy goodies, followed by fun and games have paid dividends!

Per his usual self, he popped out of the back upon our arrival, happy to explore the new grounds. Not a hint of hesitation! Well, maybe one hint. But it was short lived, and who wouldn’t initially run when a 240 lb mastiff comes barreling at you? That’s right. Spanky met his Daddy, Lincoln! It took only a second for Spanky to see that this big guy was all love and sweetness and then he was quickly wrestling and jumping.

Our first practice effort in the “show ring” was less spectacular. Spanky was perfectly happy to run around the ring, but more at a gallop than a gait. Good thing we start handling classes in two weeks!

All 100+ pictures from our fun day

A mini family reunion!

Spanky, Daddy Lincoln and Litter-mate sister Darla

Spanky, Daddy Lincoln and Litter-mate sister Darla

Spanky’s litter-mate sister, Darla

Pretty Darla

Darla and Frank

Darla and Robert

Phaeton tries to make a break for it!

Phaeton tries to make a break for it

Handsome Phaeton

Gorgeous Cayenne

Cayenne

Cayenne

Baby Bentley

Diane and Bentley

Handsome Rowdy

Rowdy

John and Rowdy

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Say Cheese!

My friend Bryan is a talented photographer who would probably own all manner of giant smooshy-faced puppies, if he could. He has a knack for capturing the animal’s spirit and personality, that can only come from being a true lover of all creatures, whether furry or scaly! Here’s his website: Bryan Sirotkin Photography

About a year ago, we scheduled a photoshoot for two very special subjects… my boy Diesel and his French bulldog puppy, Ziggy. The boys had a blast and were a huge hit! (See their video below)

So of course it seemed fitting that we would introduce Ziggy to Spanky. Spanky was smitten with Ziggy and spent the entire shoot chasing Ziggy down and using his giant paws to his advantage.

Ziggy and Spanky

Spanky took the photoshoot very seriously.

Spanky sitting pretty

At least for as long as his puppy attention span could manage (read: about 15 seconds).

Wanna play?

He made sure the lens was clean and freshly washed.

Spanky looking into the camera lens

And generally enjoyed being the center of attention!

Spanky wants a close up

For a little stroll down memory lane, here’s Diesel and Ziggy:

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Etc… etc… etc…

A collection of things not cohesive enough to own their own post.

03/17/2011: Spanky learned the joys of the slide and can’t get enough of it!

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The Stair Master

…or should I say “Stairs Mastered!”

Thank goodness Mr. Spanky Pants can now navigate our 3-story townhome completely independently of my poor, aching back. Based on how quickly Spanky was growing, I could tell he was going to have to learn stairs sooner than we had taught Diesel. With Diesel, I remember doing all kinds of reading about keeping your growing mastiff puppy away from the stairs, lest you damage their hips. So Barry and I faithfully carried Diesel up and down the stairs until he got to be about 60 pounds, at which point I was seriously struggling to lift him and called his breeder in distress. She was shocked to learn that we were still carrying him and told me to immediately start teaching him to do the stairs on his own! Practically, she asked me: “What good will it do Diesel’s hips, if you fall down the stairs with him and break both of your necks?”

So I was determined to teach Spanky how to do the stairs slowly, but well before he hit 60 pounds. We started with the 2 steps leading into our house and moved up to the 4 steps across the street.

Spanky going up stairs (3 months)

Spanky going up stairs (3 months)

What I hadn’t expected was that less than a week after we brought him home, he followed our Walker kitty up half a flight up stairs before he realized what he was doing and stranded himself. I encouraged him up the rest of the way and he was triumphant! We continued carrying Spanky up the stairs about 95% of the time, and down the stairs 100% of the time, but over the next several weeks, we got him to the point where we didn’t have to carry him up at all.

Down the stairs was far more precarious. Watching him reach for the next step, with his wrinkles drooping forward was pretty scary to watch, but we practiced them the same as we had practiced going up: first on 2 steps, then on 4 and finally on the full flight. He actually officially mastered the full flight while I was out of town: our pet sitter did it. It was a wonderful homecoming surprise! The baby gates are still up as he does still require a “chaperone” but my boy is growing up!

Spanky going down stairs (3 months)

Spanky going down stairs (3 months)

He had his last free ride over a week ago and just in time! He is close to topping 60 pounds (which I consider to be my breaking point… literally) and dead-lifting him is no longer an option, which is also problematic for getting him in the car. Fortunately, learning the stairs also means being able to use the Pet Loader. We also have a 72″ telescoping ramp, but I much prefer the Pet Loader and so I set it up today to see if Spanky would use it. He hesitated at first, due to the open back design of the stair, but a well placed treat kept his head up and paws moving. And he was up then down three more times with no trouble at all.

Pet Loader Collapsed

Pet Loader Extended

Easy… peasy… In fact, the hardest part about the whole thing was adjusting the Pet Loader and removing the 5th step (as our last car was significantly higher at 35″). This contraption is big, bulky and heavy, but ultimately an essential piece of equipment for any mastiff owner with a tall car! I highly recommend it.

Spanky on the Pet Loader (3.5 months)


Spanky on the Pet Loader (3.5 months)

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We Are Family

Spanky went for a visit to see his littermate brother, Augie (aka “dark” puppy). Spanky popped right out of the car and ran into Augie’s house like he owned it, chasing Augie up half a flight of stairs in the process! Apparently Augie had not been previously motivated to start climbing stairs until his overenthusiastic brother came barreling into the house and charging into him. What a first impression!

Of course, once Augie realized who this pouncing puppy was, the two had a BLAST.

Augie and Spanky playing

Augie was very generous and happy to share everything he had with Spanky: his family, his water, his toys, even his big sister Patti.

Augie Spanky and Robbie

Augie and Spanky sharing water

Patti and Spanky

It will be so much fun to see these boys grow up. I love that Spanky has a brother who lives so close by that they will be able to play regularly.

Augie and Spanky side by side

They definitely seem to enjoy the same games: chasing the ball, tumbling, putting anything made of wood in their mouths.

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Follow the Leader

As an only puppy in the house, Spanky has the benefit of my undivided attention, but he also misses out on some of the advantages of modeling behavior after an older, trained dog. I have no doubt Diesel would have shown him the ropes around here. Not the least of which, would have been how not to scare off the cats at every opportunity!

Fortunately, Jaybear lives close by and he is Spanky’s older brother (and also Diesel’s nephew). It couldn’t be any better! Jaybear is a sweet, calm and wonderful mastiff who has so much to teach Spanky. I sure hope some of Jaybear’s demeanor is genetic.

We went for a visit to Jaybear’s house and Spanky didn’t hesitate to follow his big brother right inside. He copied everything Jaybear did. So cute! He even followed Jaybear when he called “time out” for a drink of water. We poured some in a bowl on the floor for Spanky, but as soon as he noticed Jaybear drinking from his elevated bowl, Spanky stood up on his tippy toes and lifted his head over the edge to drink “just like Jaybear.” Too bad I missed the shot, but here are the boys about 10 seconds prior.

Spanky and Jaybear take a water break

For a dog who is literally 4-5 times Spanky’s size, Jaybear is incredibly gentle and tolerant of my bouncing puppy.

We went to the Maydale Nature Center and Spanky followed Jaybear all through the trail. He trotted right behind him and I actually got to go for a walk that didn’t entail stooping down to pick pine cones or branches out of Spanky’s mouth every 20 seconds.

Unlike Diesel who had to be coaxed into the creek the first time he saw it, Spanky walked right in and I actually held him back. I think he would have gone much further if it had been warm out and I let him off leash.

Spanky at the creek edge

But the Piece de Resistance of the day was when Pat taught Spanky how to go down the slide! I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about the whole affair and didn’t think Spanky would want to do this AT ALL. Boy, was I wrong! Not only did Pat get him to climb all the way up to the top of the slide platform, but once she showed him how to do it the first time, he did it twice more!

Pat and Spanky climbing the slide platform

And then the following day, since he liked it so much, I took Spanky to the little tot lot in our development and showed him the baby slide. Well, once he figured out that this was just a smaller version of the fun he had the day before (and that he could do this one on his own) I couldn’t get him off of it!

Spanky on the baby slide

Spanky climbing up the baby slide

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One New Thing

In true Chinese “Tiger Mom” style, I have so many hopes for Spanky and the things I would love to do with him: therapy work, conformational showing, rally… Some of these things will be up to him and who he turns out to be. But I feel like it is all my responsibility to give him the right foundation to be successful. So I have commited to introducing Spanky to One New Thing every day. Some days are small: walking down a new path, or playing animal noises on the computer. Some days are big: going to the grocery store or meeting new people and dogs.

Spanky at Pet Barn

Spanky at Giant Supermarket



My friend send me this Puppy Socialization Checklist to help guide his new experiences. Here’s what Spanky’s Checklist looks like so far…

Puppy Socialization Checklist (page 1)

Puppy Socialization Checklist (page 2)

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Introducing… Woodmarks No Girls Allowed

This will be my first attempt at a blog (thank you Adri for giving me the idea!), although it think it will likely be more of a photo blog/showcase for my adorable puppy, than a witty collections of thoughts. But who wouldn’t rather look at irresistible puppy photos than someone else’s idea of “interesting?”

Since we’re already about 3 weeks into this Spanky adventure, I’ll take this time to recap… My husband and I starting thinking about adding a new puppy to our family after losing our 5 year old mastiff, Diesel very unexpectedly to a rare and little understood condition (Canine Idiopathic Chylothorax). To say that I was devastated would be an understatement. I could fill volumes with my wonderful memories of Diesel, but that will have to be for another time.

And so it was months before I could even think about a new puppy. Even then, I had a couple of false starts where I almost said “yes” to a new addition, but then just couldn’t quite do it. When we were finally ready, I talked to my friend who has a beautiful bitch who I just love (CH Woodmarks First Noel at CL) and we waited for her to come into heat to be bred, but it came and without the usual hormones (a split heat, maybe?) While we were waiting for her to come in again, we heard about another breeding with Diesel’s niece (CH Woodmarks Blond Bombshell at Spcwood) and things looked promising. She was pregnant! And just as quickly, she wasn’t (resorbed her litter, we think). So we moved on. Another beautiful girl (Woodmarks Next Top Model) and littermate sister to one of Diesel’s best friends in the whole world (Chewie) was bred and we waited expectantly and hopefully. Everything looked good! The due date came and she had 2 big beautiful, healthy girls.

Oh, did I mention that I only wanted a boy?

And so in a whilrwind, I went to go see a litter (bred by Robert Miller, Leeds Hall Mastiffs and Scott Phoebus, Iron Hills Mastiffs) that I had previously discounted because they would be ready to go home in the middle of January. In the middle of a crazy travel schedule for my job. In the middle of a major home renovation here at our house. Basically in the the middle of chaos.

So of course I went to see them.

When I arrived, it was clear that I was drawn to the male with the darker head. The male who reminded me so poignantly of Diesel as a puppy. I kept trying to connect with him, but it was consistently the lighter male who trotted up to me and wanted to play. I agonized over the decision, but finally decided to go with the lighter puppy. Much to my delight, our Veterinarian (who had come with me to see the puppies) decided to take the darker puppy, so it was win-win for me knowing I would still get to see the dark puppy grow up!

Augie (left) and Spanky (right)

The next obstacle was his name. After spending a little time with him, two things were clear: 1) he was a greedy little thing and wouldn’t be missing any meals, and 2) he had Spunk. My husband, who has named all our animals, grew up on episodes of the Little Rascals. He threw out the name Spanky and I was open to it, but not convinced. That is, until we started pulling up old Youtube Little Rascal videos and agreed that our boy was definitely SPANKY:

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