Please also visit my "Renting with Rex" Blog: http://rentingwithrex.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Roma Arroyo is Published!

front cover

front and back covers

Welcome to the first book in the “Will Austin Adventure” Series!
1884 in Northern Mexico. Two kids are gathering corn on their family’s 500 acre ranch. Suddenly, several shots ring out! They crawl to where they heard the shots come from and find a campsite with five dead men. After checking closer, they discover one of the men, an American, is still alive, but barely!
Born and raised in Boston in the middle of the Nineteenth Century, Will Austin leads a life of adventure and passion. He survives the death of both his parents at a very young age, and the cold blooded killing of his best friend, Boyd. As a young man, he makes the long and difficult journey to Austin, Texas, to chase his dream of becoming a Texas Ranger. Instead, he finds himself in the middle of the biggest case of the century: catching the ruthless and murdering Gomez Gang from the depths of lawless Mexico!
Join Will in his fight for justice in the small, but growing, border town of Roma, Texas. How far will he go to hunt down the Gomez Gang and their brutal leader, Pedro, and what toll does it take on his friendships, marriage and body as he stumbles to the edge of his sanity?

All feedback and comments are welcome!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mixed Breed Reviews Newsletter "Weight Pulling for All Dogs"

Spring 2012

1). Links to the UKC website pages with relevant or helpful information.

Click on “Dog Events” in green menu bar. Then a drop down menu will show. Click “UKC Dog Events Department” and then choose “Upcoming Events.” Click on the “Search by.....” drop down menu and choose the field to search on. You can pick an event, a month, a state, etc. 

2). Links to any other useful websites.

There is also the International Weight Pull Association:

They are non-existent in California, but they are active in many other states. They do allow all breeds and mixed breeds. 

There is a good general site about a variety of weight pull information: www.pulldoggies.com

Q: What have you done with your own dogs in weight-pull competition?

Currently, I have put two UWP (United Weight Pull) titles on two mixed breeds, Dino and Dot, from the United Kennel Club. Both Rusty and Palo are in training for their first weight pull event at the end of April in Loomis. The UWP is the first and beginning weight pull title. 

Here is the breakdown of the weight pull titles and requirements from the UKC:
United Weight Pull (UWP): 
The dog has to qualify three times by pulling ten times their own weight on a wheeled cart, eight times their weight on a rail system or three times their weight on snow, and they have to pull the cart or sled 16 feet within one minute.

 United Weight Pull Champion (UWPCH): 
After earning the UWP, the dog earns 100 championship points by continuing to pull and earning pre-set points per the amount of weight pulled based on their body weight. For example, on a cart system, 10 points are earned for a dog pulling 15 times their body weight. Or, 15 points are earned for a dog pulling 25 times their body weight. Those points would change for a rail system or a sled on snow. 

United Weight Pull Champion Excellent (UWPCHX):
After earning the UWPCH, the dog earns an additional 250 points based on the same above system.

United Grand Weight Pull Champion (UGWPCH): 
After earning the UWPCHX title, the dog must earn an additional 200 points based ribbon placements, such as first, second, third or fourth place. It does not follow the same points schedule as above. 

United Grand Weight Pull Champion 1 (UGWPCH1:
After earning the UGWPCH title, the dog then moves into the Grand classes. All the above titles are in Regular classes. Additional points are earned based on a similar system of first through fourth placements. Plus, this class allows bonus points to be earned for “most weight pulled” and “most weight pulled per pound of body weight.” 

Q: Are Mixed Breeds eligible for all of the UKC's weight pull titles and championship titles or competitions?

Yes. Mixed Breeds can compete in all UKC events, no matter the level. 

Q: In terms of temperament and body type, what type of dogs are good candidates for weight pull competition?

I have not found that a body style makes any difference at all. Papillons to Pit Bulls can do UKC weight pull. 

I think what is more important is a dog that is self-motivated, confident, enjoys physical work and moves forward naturally (aka, a puller on the leash). A dog can not be forced to do weight pull. I have found out that once a dog discovers the game, they pull into the harness pretty easily.

To increase motivation, during training, it is encouraged to reward with food after each pull. 

Q: How much and what type of training is needed to prepare?

First, you must start with a properly fitting harness, a harness which is custom fit to the specific dog. I have ordered all my harnesses from Tablerock Harnesses (http://www.tablerockharness.com), and they have always been very helpful. They also have a lot of other equipment like collars and leashes, that can be custom made. 

The “how much” part is totally dependent on your individual needs. Do you want to compete or are you just doing it for physical strength or for fun? 

If you want to compete, then I would practice at least once a week. Twice a week, spreading out the routines with a couple of days rest in between, would be better. 

I try to follow basic strength training, meaning that little bits more often is better than a whole bunch all at once. Little bits of stress on the muscle and body gradually is better for sustained growth and strength, with equal parts of rest, rather than a whole bunch of stress all at once. That last part is a recipe for injury. 

For a training session, I will start off with a lower weight and then have the dog pull that successfully for at least a couple of times. If the dog is not struggling, I will then add a little bit more weight, until the dog starts to show a struggle, but is still pulling the weight. I will have them pull that a couple more times and then stop. I put them away and get the next dog. 

Currently, I am training on my own since the nearest trainer is over two hours away, but I did train with them for several months, so I had a very good idea of what to expect from my first competition.  

If you have a location to regularly train at, then go along with their schedule, and learn everything possible. If they are experienced competitors and/or judges, they should know how to progress your dog along, keep the fun and teach you what to expect from a competition. 

Q: What type of physical conditioning does a dog need to be prepared?

Any dog that is physically fit for any other dog sport would generally be fit for weight pulling. For example, if your dog already successfully competes in Obedience, Rally, Agility, Lure Coursing, etc., with no limitations, than the dog should be fit enough for weight pull. 

The minimum age for UKC weight pull is one year old, so the dog has to have some basic control and understand beginning words. 

I would also recommend that a dog be friendly with people and other dogs, however, no direct contact with other animals will occur on the track, and is highly discouraged, but other people will be nearby. For example, when I was showing Dot she was not friendly with strange dogs, but was very friendly with people. I was careful not to get her near other dogs while waiting in line, and, generally, that is a good idea since dogs tend to get very “hot” and “intense” while weight pulling due to the physical exertion and focus required. 

Q: What do you like about competing in this activity?

What I like the most is how much fun my dogs have for something so simple as pulling a cart with weight on it. They get very excited when I pull their harnesses out of the boxes and put them on. They know exactly what is happening, since there is no other reason for putting on their harnesses than to do weight pulling.

Q: Any other comments?

I would highly encourage everybody to look at weight pull practices in their area, even if they never intend to compete. Dogs enjoy the exercises so much, and it is a good way to maintain a level of fitness and strength. 

Carting is another type of similar sport, so that might be worth checking into also, if you can find a place to practice. I think individual breed clubs have carting titles, but I am not aware of one through UKC or AKC or other more popular venues.