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Ruth's dog Atlas

Here is my dog Atlas inside Ken Foster’s new book I’m a Good Dog.

Just saying.

Actually, I know a bunch of the dogs featured in the book, because nearly all the photographs were taken by Karen Morgan, a talented photographer friend who’s been involved with pit bulls for years, and has done a lot of work with clients of ours.

Below is a portrait of Roxy with her owner Wanda. They live right here in the neighborhood and attended See Spot Run’s Basic Skills & Manners class not too long ago.


And here is a portrait of a pit bull named Mila. I mentioned her in an earlier post regarding my choice to forfeit renewal of my CPDT-KA certification. Mila played a central role in that decision, and I never regretted it. She’s posing below with her owner’s father.


© Ruth Crisler and Spot Check, 2012.


Meanwhile, back at the kennel… April saw the long awaited launch of See Spot Run’s new website (replacing the dinosaur we built back in 2004). Thanks to Lauren Wozney of Pathways Creative, who also moonlights as a training assistant.

Above is a shot of See Spot Run’s new home page. Follow the link to view the whole site. It’s still a work in progress in a number of respects, but we’re nonetheless very proud. Comments welcome.

On a side note, Lauren also joined me in attending the IAABC conference in Rhode Island in late April, where we were pleased to meet and exchange thoughts with a number of fellow trainers, including Connecticut trainer Michael Shikashio of Complete Canines, and Brian Burton and Sarah Fraser of Instinct Dog Behavior & Training in NYC.

I also had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Susan Friedman, who was presenting at the conference, to discuss some concerns regarding the current application of her Humane Hierarchy within the field of dog training. Those concerns, and Dr. Friedman’s own thoughts, will be the subject of an upcoming post.

© Ruth Crisler and Spot Check, 2012.

We left Wyoming in April with heels dragging and a few souvenirs in tow. I am a big believer in small souvenirs, particularly when one’s nominally cavernous industrial loft space is embarrassingly cluttered. On this occasion, we brought back a pair of antler corkscrews and a handful of raccoon penis bones (long story, vaguely related to how we met).

We also took away some lessons about ourselves and one another.

Of Atlas, I learned that he considers life-size artistic renderings of moose a good deal more concerning than actual moose. I tend to agree with him on that score, for what it’s worth.

And I learned he was not the only really handsome pit bull in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Check out this mug, spotted inside a pickup truck downtown. I really want its name to be something corny like Lightening or Blaze.

Atlas learned that all black Labs are not like his housemate Olive. He learned this on our first morning out, while on a relaxed walk along a deserted bike path, where we were set upon by a Pathologically Friendly And Thick Headed male of unknown provenance. This guy had only two speeds, Sit-on-command and Up-My-Dog’s-Butt. Merely accompanying us along our walk was off the table.  Tried shouting, tried kicking (sorry, humping Atlas isn’t acceptable), tried throwing a stick. Some dogs just can’t take a hint. Eventually, I was able to pawn him off on some local joggers, in order that I might return to our cabin with just my own dog.

About my husband, I learned he is a good bird watcher.

I also learned he has a deep capacity for finding the structural flaws in an otherwise appealing cabin, and that even several glasses of good wine cannot reliably suppress this instinct. To his credit, he was entirely correct, demonstrating that sustainably built is not the same as intelligently built. Too bad, because they were both very comfortable and seductively high design.

Word to the wise: It’s a little bit tacky to use fake support beams as a major design element, especially when they might almost as easily have been used for actual support.

For myself, I learned that forty-plus hours of driving can test the best of relationships, particularly if one forgets to take along any CDs.  And I discovered it is worth scouring truck stop music racks in search of that elusive animal, the album worth listening to. In this case, my efforts were rewarded with Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison.

Mainly, I learned I very likely have the best husband and the best dog ever.

© Ruth Crisler and Spot Check, 2012.

According to the sign we encountered on our hike through Teton National Park, the park is allowing dogs on leash on a trial basis. They are not allowed off leash or on the off-road trails themselves. But with most of the park’s roads closed to vehicle traffic through April, we were able to enjoy a very nice walk, around seven or eight miles round-trip.

It’s amazing how the landscape changes as one drives across country. God knows why I ever even considered flying. Thank you, major airlines, for banning pit bulls. Otherwise, we might have missed out on this unbelievable scenery.

Time for a photo opportunity.

This is one hell of a dog-inclusive road trip vehicle, by the way. We removed the back seats to make room for the luggage.

Look, critter poop.

And cactus.

I guess we’re not in Chicago anymore.

Approaching Jackson Hole.

We left Chicago a few hours behind schedule on Saturday, but managed to make it to Cheyenne, Wyoming, before bedding down at a really civilized dog-friendly hotel.

I almost balked at the $35 pet fee, until I considered how much I would personally charge to clean up after certain pets I know.

I took a couple pics of my husband posing with my pit bull Atlas at a pit stop in Nebraska. I’m pretty sure I saw a horror movie shot at this location.

Atlas seems fully recovered from his bout of salivary gland infection, but he will not be enjoying any bones on this trip, just to be safe.

Before reaching Jackson Hole on Sunday, we stopped for lunch at Grandma’s Cafe.

Atlas was a little distracted on our brief walk by a handsome pair of Boxers, who were checking us out from behind the fence of the neighboring yard.

I really like the male on the right. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a beefy boxer like that.

At least that’s my best guess, based on what my vet said and also a little online research.

Now the question is, will the infection respond to antibiotics, or is there an impaction that will necessitate the surgical removal of the gland?

I’m hoping the former.

Atlas concurs, especially after looking at these photographs of a five pound chihuahua under the knife (not for the squeamish, I warn you).

For now we wait.

So, I’ve begun working on the first homework assignment from Silvia Trkman’s long-distance tricks course.

And I suspect Atlas is already pining for the days when all he had to do for his dinner was sit. Poor animal surely thinks I’ve lost my mind. But bless him, he keeps a stiff upper lip.

See Spot Run Kennel

It’s official. See Spot Run is kennel incognito no longer.

After many moons, and assailing many obstacles, from uncooperative designers to uncooperative weather, from missing banners to mis-measured templates, from false starts to false claims, our modest factory building at long last boasts honest-to-goodness signage.

In case you’re wondering who those dogs are on the banners, the far pair are both Atlas (so far, he has not taken note of his celebrity). The nearest features longtime Lhasa Apso client Bella Mae. And the somewhat Satanic looking Dachshund representing our daycare service is unknown to me except as the subject of a photo acquired online at the 11th hour, after I finally came to grips with the inconvenient fact that the pic I really wanted to use would not reproduce well.

Frankly, he creeps me out a little, but c’est la vie.

I knew if I waited long enough, the two summers I spent in art school would eventually pay off. (They probably paid off at the time, come to think of it, in arrogance, affectation, and invitations to performance art clubs.)

Anyhow, my latent creative skills lately came in handy while designing new signage for the old factory building that houses our kennel.

Thanks to KMorgan Photography for the great shots of Atlas and Bella Mae. And thanks to real-life artist (and senior staff member) Keith Herzik for the action shot of Emmie.

Oh, and thanks to Sign*A*Rama (shouldn’t that be Sign*O*Rama?) for taking my mad stack of barter dollars in exchange for some kickin’ new signs.

Above are the images that will be used for the series of double-sided banners across the second story. And below is a proof of the old-school aluminum letters that will project from the building’s face, just above the door.

NOTE: When in need of communicating one’s design concept to the person with the software to make it happen, nothing beats the drawing on a napkin for crystal clarity. You may find discussions of proportions and orientations (even exact measurements and precisely cropped images) elucidating, but not everyone is like you. Words like vertical, horizontal, boarderless, 3×6, and cropped-to-fit, may or may not mean the same thing to you as to the average sign designer. But the drawing on a napkin? Works every time.

Just ask the folks over at Alpine Outfitters, who now offer a new ADJUSTABLE Urban Trail Harness

for use with multiple dogs and for people who are uncomfortable with precise measuring.

That’s what I’m talking about. People uncomfortable with precise measuring. More on the subject of that particular demographic in a future post.

As for the new signs, they should be up within the next couple weeks, thus officially ending See Spot Run’s status as kennel incognito.

© Ruth Crisler and Spot Check, 2010.


spot-check: to sample or investigate quickly or at random

My Thought Exactly

"There's facts about dogs, and there's opinions about them. The dogs have the facts, and the humans have the opinions." --J. Allen Boone

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© Ruth Crisler and Spot Check, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruth Crisler and Spot Check with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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