Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where did the year go??

Astonishing that 2012 is almost history. We're still here, so the Mayan people probably just ran out of room on their calendar. No doomsday (yet). We're expecting a new addition here in the Golly Gear family. That's Booker (Boston Terrier) and me a few weeks ago. Booker was about 4 1/2 weeks old in that picture, and I'll be getting him in a couple of weeks. I was lucky enough to meet Booker's breeder in person as she was passing through (almost) my area. Tango and the rest of the crew are looking forward to a new play and training buddy in the new year. You'll most likely also see Booker in new harnesses, collars and coats that we'll be featuring in the shop. It's going to be a blast! - Fran

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cat people

A friend visited me in the shop today, to buy a few toys for a senior's little dog for the holidays. This friend loves dogs, but she's a cat person. Tango was not very nice to her at first. There was a stranger invading his space! Of course, a few cookies changed his mind about that. She asked Tango to sit, sit, sit, which of course he ignored and kept mugging her for the cookies. I told her to stop caving to his cute bearded face, and tell him to do what she wanted. With a more commanding tone, my friend told him, "Sit?!" Tango looked at me, I looked back but didn't say anything, and he sat! My friend was very impressed! I guess cats are different. - Fran

Friday, November 16, 2012

Focus your training!

When you're training your dog, you want him to be focused and ready to work! So it's up to us, the trainer to be focused ourselves. That means: have a plan, stick to it, and keep sessions short! Go into your training session with an intention - work on heeling, get a straight sit, work on wicked weave pole entries, whatever! And work on that for 5 to 8 minutes. No more than that, or you'll both get bored and frustrated. (After all, in class you don't work for a solid hour, do you? No! There are breaks while you're listening to the instructor or when other teams are taking a turn.) During this session, Tango and I worked on heeling. He looks ready to go, doesn't he? - Fran

Saturday, November 10, 2012

People with artistic talent

Oh, how I envy people with artistic talent. This drawing was done by a friend who obviously has buckets-full! Tony added the spats and monocle, of course, but aside from that, it's my scruffy Brussels Griffon (B.G.) Tango! He even got the feel of Tango's rough coat. How cute is this! I framed and hung the drawing over my desk here at so that I can look at it every day. Tony said that he was working on something else and needed a break, so he drew Tango. Imagine that - to be able to just whip something like this out. I'm lucky to have friends with talent! - Fran

Friday, November 02, 2012

After a hard day's work

Close to the end of a long day, Tango's resting. We packed orders today, answered the phone, waited on customers here in the shop, and on top of that, we practiced some tricky agility moves! - Fran

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our dogs at work

Tango (Brussels Griffon, on the left) and Teddy (French Bulldog, right) struck this pose a couple of days ago here in the shop. I bring Tango to work three days a week and Hope brings Ted one or two days. Distraction? Sure, but the dogs make sure we don't sit for too long, staring at a computer screen. For five or ten minutes an hour we're forced to get up and play with a dog, or practice a tricky maneuver we learned in class the evening before. When Dax (also a French Bulldog) is here, she naps a lot and, like most Frenchies, snores. Many people might find it annoying. Hope and I find Dax snoring soothing. Actually, it makes me want to get on the bench and nap with her! - Fran

Friday, October 19, 2012

Training really can be fun

Last weekend Tango and I were at an agility trial and Tango qualifed in his first Standard run of the weekend! Woohoo! I was so happy. Not just that we qualified, but because he ran fairly well all weekend. It's been a hard road since March, the last time that he qualified in anything. Constant training, fun matches and more training. I've found that Tango responds best to clicker training. Our favorite clicker is Karen Pryor's iClick - - it fits well in the hand, is easy to click, and it's not too loud. Patience is so hard, but it's crucial in training Tango. I can't be angry, or get frustrated. He's very operant, so I have to wait, and wait, and when I see a behavior I like, I click and give him a cookie. Hopefully he'll come back to that behavior and offer more! And more, and more ... And while one qualifying run out of four is not a superlative showing, it's better than none! More training and fun matches are needed! - Fran

Friday, October 05, 2012

Tango helps at work!

First thing in the morning, here at Golly Gear, we print out orders, fill and pack them. When Tango is here with me, he's a big help! When he's not trying to steal a toy for himself, he walks through the racks with me picking the items for orders. He's a big help, as you can see. Sticking his fuzzy head in the bin, making sure the squeakers work and all the limbs and ears are securely attached! - Fran

Friday, September 21, 2012

Politics-free Zone!

Dogs only! I'm tired of people supporting either party ranting against the other on social media. So let's talk dogs! Tango is currently chewing on his hoof, being a very good boy! He had a great night last night at Agility class. I've been working on a couple of tricks with him, and working on him playing with a toy in public. (Not as easy as it sounds!) Tango can roll over - just one way now, but it's a start! Anyway, last night at class he actually played with his toy! He was so revved up he actually blew past me! That's Tango's worm. It's a wriggly, gel-like thing. Don't ask me why he loves this thing, but it's the toy he latched onto. So, until we can transfer the love to something a little more palatable, Tango's blue worm is the toy of choice! - Fran

Friday, September 07, 2012

Brave little flower

Every spring I buy a pot of pansies for the back yard at home - pansies are Hope's favorites. Plus, the shape of the flower resembles a rough Brussels Griffon face! Well, maybe when Tango's not so scruffy. Most years the rabbits eat the pansies, or they get too much water, or not enough water, or something else happens so that they don't last very long. But this year we were good about watering just enough through the hottest summer we can remember. We weren't going to let those bunnies chew up the results of our hard work, either! So we put the pot on a table where Dax's nemeses couldn't get at the pansies. And here in September, the plant's not looking great, but it's still blooming! - Fran

Friday, August 17, 2012

Catching up

Anyone else going through Olympics withdrawal? I must confess I did not work at full strength during the 17 days of the London Olympic Games. Too distracted by news, pictures and videos from the Games. Streaming video 24 hours a day may not have been the best for my sleep pattern! I did make time to eat, sleep (some) and train Tango, though.

But now it's back to normal. - Fran

Friday, July 27, 2012

Are you an Olympics nut?

Opening Ceremonies for the London Games are tonight - I'm excited! Here's a fun idea: let's hold our version of Doggie Olympics! How high can your dog jump? How long can he jump? Can he spin in a circle both ways? Can he crawl on his tummy? How fast can he go through the weave poles? Sounds like a great weekend party to me! - Fran

Friday, July 13, 2012


Two paws on, two off the yellow! Getting ready for an agility trial tomorrow. Tango finds it impossible to stay still. While his paws are still, some part of him has to be moving. In this picture, it's his head. Oh well, you get the idea! - Fran

Friday, July 06, 2012

Hot, hotter, ...did someone say hot?

Tango doesn't even want to chew on his Himalayan Chew!
It's never a good thing when weather in your area makes the news. Usually in the Chicago area, this happens in the winter after a blizzard, or in the spring after violent storms. But we're making news this summer with the heat wave. If the temperature reaches triple digits (fahrenheit) today, which there's no question by any of the meteorologists that this will happen, this will be the first time that we've had three days over 100 degrees. Add stifling humidity. Stepping outside from an air conditioned building is like hitting a brick wall. I'm a healthy person, thank goodness, but I have a hard time breathing in that. I'm sorry for the people who have asthma or other respiratory ailments. Dressing for fashion on days like today is just plain stupid. A light t-shirt and shorts with a hat and sunglasses is plenty stylish, thank you! And makeup? Why bother? It will melt within a minute.

The dogs don't even want to do anything. Take a cue from them! Stay cool, keep your dogs in the A/C with you, and drink plenty of water! - Fran

Friday, June 22, 2012

New collar?

 Hope says that Tango needs a new collar. She says that it's silly that since we have so many here at the shop that Tango just has one collar. What do you think? The Red Leather Collar with the Paw Print embellishments (top) looks kind of spiffy. The Rush Plaid Collar is Tango's regular collar. - Fran

Friday, June 01, 2012

Resting up

Tango's here at the shop with me. He's resting up for the weekend's agility trial. I'm working. - Fran

Saturday, May 26, 2012


It's Saturday and feels like Friday because I'm here at the shop. Hope and I traded days off this week because she's at an Agility trial this weekend. Go Teddy! In fact, she just texted me that Teddy earned his OAJ title (Open Agility Jumpers) today! Yeah!! I'm sure Hope will post pictures in a couple of days. We're still waiting to hear how Hope and Teddy did on the Open Standard course. Hopefully we'll hear soon.

We're expecting a sweltering day here in Chicagoland tomorrow - well into the 90s and probably breaking records. So I'm planning to stay in air conditioning! We'll be grilling on Monday. Happy Memorial Day. Thinking about the brave men and women who serve and have served in the Armed Forces.

Tango's tired. I don't know why - we didn't even have class Thursday evening! Perhaps because since it's been so quiet here today we've been working on stuff more than usual? Hmmm. Poor fella. - Fran

Friday, May 18, 2012

New stuff!

I could see Tango saying to himself, "Yawn... This same old stuff? Sit, down, over, weave. Not gonna happen." And he sat down and didn't budge. And, while it's true, that same old stuff still needs lots of work, we needed to mix things up. So I introduced a new behavior - jump! From a sit, I ask Tango to jump and he's supposed to jump straight up in the air. It's starting out that he's standing on his back legs for a cookie, but he'll get there, and he seems to like our new game. - Fran
First Tango sits...

Then he jumps up!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Everything was more difficult today

Why was everything more difficult today? Balancing the checkbook took 3 hours. And for someone who was a corporate accountant in a past life, that's bad. 
Tango did not want to work today. Back to basics. Like, "what's sit?" Honestly?
And credit cards not working. Duplicate orders. People wanting 30 characters on a line of a tag. Grrr.

A bright spot, though - Sandra with her two Brussels Griffons, Jill and Joey, came to work with her trainer! Here's a picture of Joey with my Tango. Sandra is on the left and I'm on the right. - Fran

Friday, May 04, 2012

Back from paradise

Tango enjoying the view from outside our camper.
Roc sitting on a picnic bench. He's wearing his Plaid Step-in Harness.

A beautiful Florida Keys sunset.
Tango and Roc joined me on a camping trip to the Florida Keys, and we just got back this last Tuesday. We worked hard, but enjoyed beautiful Knights Key. - Fran

Friday, April 13, 2012

Torturing Tango

In our spare time here at the shop when we have our dogs around, we like to have them "model" items that we hadn't previously gotten photos with real dogs. Tango knows what's coming when I get the camera and treats! It looks like he's saying, "Oh mom - another one?" But I think he looks pretty cute in the Spring Vest by Puppia and the matching leash! - Fran

Friday, April 06, 2012

Will he be awake...

Tango and I have an Agility trial tomorrow, but it looks like it might take some doing to rev him up to run! Yes, Tango is lying in his crate with the door wide open. - Fran

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Naughty girl

Dax made me proud at the Rally Obedience Trial a couple of weeks ago in Louisville. She qualified three out of three days - earning her Rally Novice title in just one weekend. Her achievement also won her an adorable, ribbiting frog plush toy from our French Bulldog Performance Palooza. Which she destroyed in less than three seconds today. So I made her wear it. - Hope

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega fever!

So, what would you do with 640 million dollars? Tonight is the world's biggest lottery drawing. I bought a few - couldn't resist. Let's dream for a little. I'd buy Tango a new collar - he deserves it! I'd buy me some neat stuff. And I'd buy a new RV to live in the Florida Keys. Buy a cool new building for Golly Gear and Dogs in the Ring. One big enough for a couple rings for an AKC Agility Trial. Sounds good to me. Meanwhile, back to reality and cranky customers, twitchy credit card processing... - Fran

Friday, March 23, 2012

Back from Louisville, with ribbons!

 Last weekend Hope and I went to Louisville for 4 action-filled days of dog shows! We both competed in Agility (Hope with Teddy, and me with Tango), and Hope competed in Rally Obedience with Dax. In just three days, Dax received her Rally Novice title! Tango and I had fun but only had one qualifying run in Open Standard. Teddy and Hope did a little better with two qualifying runs - one in Open Jumpers and one in Open Standard. - Fran
Dax weaving in Rally O
Teddy jumping
Tango going over a triple jump

Friday, March 09, 2012

Dax says, "Please!"

It's my turn next to go to Florida and have some intense remote work-time at the RV. Dax seems to know this. She has not been happy in the colder weather. Dax loves nothing better than to sit in the sun and bask, and she's being awfully nice to me. She's been sitting on my lap (when I don't even have cookies!) and giving me kisses. She seems to be singling me out for playtime, too. And she's even starting play sessions with Tango! I think Dax is saying, "Take me! Take me! See how cute I am?!" It might be working... - Fran

Friday, March 02, 2012


Today's weather runs the gamut - horrible stuff to the north and the southeast. Here in Chicagoland it's rainy, supposed to change to snow later this evening. But Wednesday it was bright and sunny, in the 50s. We took advantage of the great weather to shoot a new cover photo for Golly Gear's facebook page: Crazy weather!
That's Tango (Brussels Griffon), me, Payton (Airedale, holding our "Open" sign), Teddy (French Bulldog) and Dee, our Trainer-in-residence and Payton's mom. - Fran

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tango's tired

We're going to have to work on stamina. Tango is at work 3 days a week. You'd think he could show a little enthusiasm? To be fair, though, we did have agility class last night and taxed his little brain. We were working on weave pole challenges. Our instructor asked us to come up with the craziest ideas to distract our dogs in the weave poles. The thinking is that if we throw insane distractions at our dogs during training, they'll do fine with just normal show stuff at a trial. Some of the things just blew poor Tango's mind. We have some work to do...  -Fran

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter explosion

Today is the coldest day of the season, so far. There's snow on the ground. And this is what greets us every morning! I don't know why our azalea is exploding in January - but I'm happy it is.
About a dozen flowers and tons of buds ready to open.
It's not a pretty plant - leggy and woody and kind of dull green. The flowers make up for that - and bring us memories of the dear friend who gave it to us many years ago.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Here in Chicagoland we got our first major snow of the winter yesterday. It was quite late this year - usually by the middle of January there's at least a foot of snow on the ground. We finally got dumped on, though, with 6 inches or so of the stuff. This brings to mind the extra care we must take of our little dogs in the winter. I had to shovel a path through the back yard for Roc - our littlest guy who weighs only 10 pounds and is just 8 inches at the shoulder. We have to make it easy for him to go where we want him to! And while it's not a problem at home where, if we spread any ice melt, it's the kind without salt or chlorides. At the shop, it's another story - we have no control over the stuff that's spread here. And the snow removal people spread a lot! So, it's worth it to take a few minutes and put Pawz boots on to protect our dog's paws from the salt and from ice pellets forming between the pads. Pawz are natural rubber and are semi-disposable. That means that the after they're worn multiple times, they'll probably wear out, so we just throw it out and take another one out of the package. They're sold in packs of 12. Dogs accept Pawz more readily than other boots since they can feel the surface they're walking on.  - Fran

Friday, January 06, 2012

No resolutions!

Happy New Year! I don't make resolutions - they're are bound to fail, just like diets. I'm going keep on trying to do what I've been trying to do for years. Be nice to my family, dogs and friends. Train myself and my dog for life, then for competition. Eat stuff I like in moderation, and try to really like more stuff that's good for me. Try to keep up with paperwork so it's not overwhelming later. Exercise when I can, as hard as I can. Attempt new things. There you have it. Fran's rules. - Fran