Monday, August 31, 2009

Angry Red Welts or What a View!

This afternoon Galen and I took a couple of our girls on a walk that I discovered last week. It starts just about two miles from our house and is a loop through a meadow and then back along the river.

I was reminded that experiences are all about perspective. I could be annoyed that I am now sporting some lovely new mosquito bites or I can celebrate that I waded in the river like I was eight years old -- and had fun doing it.

Life is always going to have mosquito bites and when we focus on those, we cannot also focus on all the reasons we have to celebrate. Yes, it is sometimes hard not to scratch but I think it is worth trying :)

One thing I admire about dogs is that they just do not sweat the little stuff -- and they find reasons to be happy about most everything. We took the dogs that we thought would most enjoy the river -- certainly Asia but Maize also enjoyed the chance to be a mermaid. It is hard not to smile when your dogs remind you how much fun it is to get wet and dirty.

Asia LOVES water of any kind, and she especially enjoys her trips to the Bitterroot River. Here she is fetching a stick and then just enjoying walking around in the water.

And here is Maize -- she makes it easy to forget that she is nine!

And this could be my all time favorite of Mrs. Maize -- I used the zoom lens so she was fooled and did not know I was taking a picture and that is why she looks so good ;)

Finally, we saw this cool woodpecker on the way back to the car.

Is the glass half empty or half full? You get to decide that and that freedom is just another reason to feel grateful :) I will have half a glass of chocolate milk please -- how about you??

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Few Sunday Pics

We were enjoying a lovely Montana day -- I even gave Sydney a bath -- when suddenly a thunderstorm rolled on in and someone opened up the floodgates! My how things can change in a big hurry!!

Newly nine month old Sydney is starting to lose her coat but before she does, I wanted to see what she would look like as a little show dog so she got all cleaned and fluffed -- and here she is...

Earlier today this was the dining area floor...

And here are Halo and Asia playing this morning...

Asia's draft work is going so well -- I am very encouraged by her progress. She was comfortable in the cart right away but her confidence has really grown with our almost daily practices. The big news is that she is now reliably backing up :) This is a hard concept and she struggled with it, but I have used great treats and patiently supported her baby backing up steps and now she does a few feet with ease. We have worked with as many distractions as possible around here and so now need to take this show on the road, so to speak, and cart in new places. The draft test is in 13 days and I think she will be ready.

In addition to draft, I am regularly practicing with Cadi in our agility yard -- what a difference it makes to have a place to practice!! My up and coming agility dog is clearly Zoey -- she loves to go to the agility yard and "help" set up courses for Cadi. The hard part with her is keeping her off the equipment -- taking down a dog walk when a puppy keeps jumping on it is a challenge! We leave on Friday for the agility trial in Utah -- it will be Cadi's first time in excellent!

I hope your weekend has been most excellent!

Sunday Thoughts

Yesterday I followed the funeral of Edward (Ted) Kennedy via the internet. I read the various articles about him, and read text of the talks at his service; they even had the program from the funeral Mass posted on the internet.

Ted Kennedy was human, and he made mistakes but I love that at the end of life we become so forgiving and focus on what is good and decent in a person. I think we should probably live like that all the time, and not just when someone dies. It goes without saying that a person has made mistakes and lives with regrets, and so why dwell on that? So much the better to make a choice to shift attention to what is equally true -- that each person has strengths and attributes that can be celebrated. Why does it take death for us to think that way?

Two things really stood out for me yesterday. First, Ted Kennedy made a choice to continue a life in public service even as he grieved for his brothers -- all three who died in service to others. Who would have blamed him if he became bitter and withdrew from public life? But he did what I believe people of courage do naturally and that is to take tragedy and make choices that create something good and honorable out of terrible events.

Faced with a life crisis of any kind, we really do have choices. We can allow it to drag us under and make us an additional casualty or we can use what we experience to become better and stronger and more committed and compassionate. Ted Kennedy squared up and walked forward, and in doing so he created a legacy not only for himself, but also for his family. And he showed that you can look evil in the face and not become it.

The other thing that really struck me yesterday -- and I believe is related to the first thing -- is that Ted Kennedy was and is a man of great faith. It touched me to read that he had written to the Pope and asked for prayers as he stared down the end of his time on earth. Ted Kennedy's commitment to public service was intertwined with his strong faith, and it was clear that he relied on that faith throughout his life.

And yet he held political and perhaps personal positions that were opposed by his own Church. He made choices that were not consistent with what the Catholic Church would support -- was he therefore a hypocrite? Is the Catholic Church filled with wishy washy believers?

What I think -- and this relates to yesterday's Blog -- is that people can find a place within a faith community and not be defined by it. Ted Kennedy was not a hypocrite -- he was a man of great faith who was on his own spiritual quest, and apparently found that the community of Catholics supported his personal faith journey.

Religion and faith have become easy targets of intolerance -- perhaps because they are and have been too often intolerant. I want to say two things about this. First, fighting intolerance with more intolerance does not reduce intolerance! Second, isn't it possible for people (or groups) to have a different point of view without it being "intolerant" of the opinion and/or rights of others?

And if a group or person believes that XYZ is wrong and not in the best interest of society, are they required to sit down and shut up simply because another group has a different position? How is that fair?

I have seen the way that strong faith sustains people and transforms them. And I have seen disdain for people simply because they belong to a faith community. I wish that disagreements were more often seen as opportunities to explore strongly held convictions and less often seen as threats. I wish that tolerance and acceptance really meant respect, and not just for people with whom we can agree.

I admire Ted Kennedy -- for a life that reflected courage and faith. I have complete confidence that the prayers he requested were heard and answered, even as I am unsure about what the answers were.

Life is filled with mystery and I have found it best to just accept that, and have faith and hope that all will be well in the end.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Three Generations and Thoughts on Intolerance

How blessed we are to have three generations of Kaibab dogs living with us! I have wanted to take a good three generation picture for a while and I still need to but I did manage to get this one today.

There are two problems with taking the three generation picture. First, Sydney does not know the stay command. This is a problem and reflects what happens to the youngest in any family -- sigh. The second problem is that Maize really does not like "stays" and refuses to put her ears up -- you will note that almost every good picture of her is a candid. However, the chances of a candid three generation picture seemed rather remote and so I worked with what I had - one dog who doesn't know stay and another who pins her ears back like a mule when she hears the word "stay" :)

It has been a number of years since our friend, Tony Mora, died from ALS. He had a lovely girl from Lisa Ebnet who went Best of Opposite at the 2001 National Specialty -- truly I have never seen such a happy man in my life and it still makes me smile to think back to that moment. Tony made log beds and I have two dog log beds that he gave me. I did not have room for them in Utah but they were the first things I wanted in our new house. And in fact, they are the nicest pieces of furniture that I have. I know Tony would love to see the girls enjoying the beds he made for them, and I suspect he does. Here is Mrs. Maize on one of the beds.

Sydney has suddenly grown and no longer looks quite so small and like a puppy. That is Zoey's hair in her mouth -- Sydney does not like to play fetch but she loves to chase down Zoey when she is playing fetch!

Zoey is an energizer bunny. I walked her about two miles this morning and then played fetch with her off/on all morning -- here is a rare moment when she is not in motion.

I have been thinking a lot about intolerance lately, and when -- or if -- it is okay to be intolerant about other people's choices. I have been reflecting on the differences between judging someone and simply disagreeing with his/her position and/or choices. And I have been contemplating how we can be part of a group or organization, and not agree with all the beliefs or values put forth by that group or organization. In fact, I have been trying to decide whether it is even possible to find a group whose positions are identical to our own.

It seems like it should be possible to embrace another person without requiring that s/he believe just as I do. And it seems as if we should be able to disagree with people's choices without being seen as evil for having an honest disagreement of values and beliefs. Finally, I wish it were possible to belong to a group without others assuming the group defines who we are and what we believe.

And yet there are groups who work to take away or prevent the rights of other people -- can we affiliate and not be guilty of oppression? But again, how do we find a group that completely matches our own values and what good would that do?! Don't differences move and shape organizations from within?

No answers -- just hard questions. This is why I train dogs -- because sometimes I just need a break from all those hard questions that spin in my head all the time. Another one that is tormenting me lately is, "who/what takes care of the animals (like the deer) in the winter? Who/what is with them in their suffering?" Yikes. I need to go and buy some deer food!! And train my dogs...

When I am not struggling with the idea of unaccompanied suffering, I am planning my dog show schedule. Next weekend is a visit to Utah to see DH (Dear or Designated Husband ;) and do agility with Cadi. The very next weekend is a two day draft test in Washington; if Asia passes the Novice Draft Dog test she will become my fifth Versatility Dog. Cadi will be trying for two titles that weekend -- she will do the open draft test and also novice brace with her mom, Mrs. Maize.

BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Puppy Nanny, Galen, who ran his first half-marathon this morning in Logan, Utah with my daughter, Nicole and her husband, Doug. Nicole has done six marathons so she gets a congratulations but not a big one since 13.1 miles is just warming up for her ;) Great job Galen!!!!!!!!!

And congratulations to you!!! No doubt you have also accomplished something recently that you are proud of :)

Monday, August 24, 2009


How could I forget to post my favorite picture?! This is Clark's border collie puppy, Sonic (aka WolfFang), and Kris's puppy, the younger Zori (aka Tori). Clark worries that poor WolfFang gets picked on -- I am thinking that he can hold his own....

Lest you worry that the puppies were killing each other and we sat idly back snapping pictures as if we were the National Geographic film crew on assignment in Africa, let me show you the same two puppies just ten seconds later...

Best enemies and best friends all rolled in one -- reminds me of 14 year old girls -- Marti, what do you think?!


Vacations are like Christmas -- you count the days with anticipation, which go SO slow -- and then it is over in the blink of an eye! Yesterday at this time I was in Minnesota and now I am home in Montana.

Unlike the drive to Minnesota, the drive home was uneventful. I did not want to pay for a hotel to sleep just a few hours so instead I pulled into the parking lot of a hospital in Miles City, Montana and slept there for 3.5 hours. I figured that a hospital parking lot was safer than a rest area, and how handy if I got sick! Including the sleeping time and stops, the trip home took about 22 hours. I always forget how wonderful Montana smells -- like pine trees and camping and mountains!

But Minnesota is also wonderful in a different way. It is very green and lush, with rolling hills, rivers and LOTS of lakes. I had a great time with the Osojnickis and enjoyed meeting their friends and seeing Clark's sister again, who is just as nice as Clark. I got some great ideas for training and just plain had fun! Thanks to Kris and Clark for hosting us!

Of course I enjoyed taking pictures -- lots of them. Kris was impressed with the editing program I have and now knows I am not really that great at pictures -- just editing them :)

In one run Kiva and Kris had different ideas about which jump was next, but Kiva belatedly remembered the course map and took the correct jump at a completely crazy angle, as you can see in this picture. However, she cleared it and qualified in the run :)

Kris's puppy, Tori, is just three weeks younger than Zoey and the names are so close that we just made it easy and called them both Zori. Here is the younger Zori demonstrating the success of our accelerated Tracking 101 program.

I loved taking pictures through this pretty tire -- this is Kiva.

Kris and Kiva

Clark's dog, Roxy.

Obviously I did not take these pictures of Cadi but I did edit them :)

Cadi qualified again yesterday, earning her open standard title! We do not often get to have such a colorful crate :)

I need a vacation from my vacation! Between not enough sleep and the strangeness of being abruptly transported between states I am feeling like a day or two of transition would be nice. However, the semester starts with orientations and retreats on Wednesday so this will be a quick transition from life as an agility/dog show/pheasant killing bum to university professor -- how fortunate I am to be able to do all the things I love! Well, most of them anyway ;)

I hope you are similarly blessed and doing what you love -- or loving what you do.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Speed Fun!

WOW!! What a whirlwind adventure we are having! Yesterday was the Regional -- the girls showed well and Cadi made the cut in Best of Breed but nothing too exciting to report on that, which was okay. I have learned that you have to pay your dues with losses in order to have wins :) I did win four prizes in the raffle and had a great time visiting with berner people at the luncheon. One of the judges complimented me on having girls who are in such great shape so that was nice.

The weather has been an adventure all in itself but it cleared up yesterday afternoon and we were able to have a lovely dinner on the river last night. Today was picture perfect -- 75 degrees with no humidity. The morning started with a couple of lovely hot air balloons going up at the show site...

We only did agility today and I took a bunch of pictures -- of course -- and here are a couple of Clark/Kris's girls:

Cadi got an open standard leg so that was really fun -- you can see her run at:

After agility we tracked with Kris's puppy and then went to a dinner of agility people at friends of the Osojnickis' -- they have an indoor dog training arena attached to their house!! Very cool :) We ended the day with a trip to Culvers where I enjoyed a turtle sundae...

We have been so busy that we never even made cookies or went to the Mall of America -- guess I will have to come back! I will be leaving tomorrow directly from the show site. I plan to get home by noon or so on Monday so my next post will come from Montana.

I hope your weekend is going well and that you are also having fun adventures!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Made It!!!! With Drama!

The plague of grasshoppers and attacks by suicidal pheasants were followed by tornadoes!! First, here is a picture of the aforementioned bird, graphics softened with consideration for our two readers:

I know -- disgusting!!!

Anyway, I arrived in the Twin Cities in the midst of a tornado warning. In fact, the first tornado to touchdown in Minneapolis in over 20 years happened yesterday as I was driving in! After driving over 1300 miles I was within ten miles of Osojnickis and had to pull over and wait for the tornado risk to expire; Kris was busy hiding in her basement with her dogs! I would have rather had a parade but hey -- at least I had a dramatic welcome!

I met Carol at a lovely park in Albert Lea, Minnesota while the Twin Cities was getting their weather welcome ready for me. Brighton is now in her new home with Carol and Sharon in Iowa City -- here is a picture of Carol and Brighton at the park yesterday.

And here is Cadi at the same park.

The weather improved last night and Cadi and I got to do an agility class that Clark and Kris teach -- after we went to Culver for dinner and a turtle sundae -- YUM. This morning we watched puppies play and planned our exciting day :)

Clark worries that his poor Border Collie puppy is picked on by Kris's puppy, Tori -- I am thinking Fang can hold his own...

This is Tori and Zoey -- they are less than one month apart and are having fun playing together...



Tori and Sonic again...

...and again, Tori and Sonic

Zoey and Sonic

Kris and Tori

This bear was very popular -- first is Zoey and the bear, and then Tori and the bear...

Tori and Zoey

Kris and her older girl, Kiva

Tori and Sonic

Now we are off for a day of training -- and more Culvers!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I thought I would spare you the image of the bird that committed suicide in the grill of the van -- actually, I would have taken a picture but it is dark ;)

I left Stevensville, Montana at about 5 a.m. with Cadi, Zoey and Brighton. Asia was MOROSE -- at one point as I was loading the last things in the car I looked to see her watching me -- from atop the kitchen table -- sigh...

So we left and traveled through Montana, passing through Butte, Bozeman, and Billings and then heading east into northern Wyoming. I feel badly admitting this but I had no idea that I needed to go through Wyoming -- even though I really was a champion at the 50 state puzzle when I was a kid!

Well, I should have paid more attention because Alistair (my GPS) sent me through 200 or so miles of quite lovely Wyoming -- having only ever been though southern Wyoming, I had no idea that Wyoming was so pretty! I made it to South Dakota and soon found myself in a monstrous thunderstorm, but at least all the suicidal bugs were soon washed from the windshield -- always a silver lining!

Unfortunately I soon met up with a flock of suicidal pheasants or some similar birds -- one solidly connected with the front of my car :( Okay -- they have WINGS!!! Why don't they just fly over the cars?! My compassion is diminished in direct proportion to their stupidity...

When I stopped in a very odd town in South Dakota for gas, I noticed that the bird had gone through the grill and is stuck! What am I supposed to do with that?! My husband -- safely hundreds of miles away -- helpfully told me that I just had to get it out but was a little vague on the exact method of extraction and did not think my idea of driving over bumps and railroad tracks was going to work.

Luckily, I remembered that something similar happened to the Osojnickis and that Clark used a broom for pheasant removal from the grill of their RV -- how fortunate that I am heading to the Osojnickis! I am certain that Clark will want to offer my passenger a more hospitable final resting place so for now, he (the recently deceased feathered friend) is firmly attached to the idea of going to Minnesota with me.

Something else strange happened in South Dakota -- both Zoey and I got stuck by a cactus!!! Who knew they have cactus in South Dakota?!! I stopped at a rest area to feed and walk dogs. We were in the midst of a plague of grasshoppers (no doubt sent as a punishment for the bird and my lack of true compassion, although I had not killed it yet but God works in mysterious ways) when suddenly Zoey started limping. At first I wondered if South Dakota grasshoppers were biters but then I saw that my poor puppy had a cactus in her foot. I did not have any cactus removal equipment handy (I guess I left it with my dead bird extraction kit) so I just had to pull it off -- OUCH!!!!

At the end of the adventure-filled day, I had driven 1075 miles with dogs who were perfect traveling companions. We are now checked into the Red Roof Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Zoey has played enough to maybe sleep some more and we look forward to more fun tomorrow -- and pictures!

Just remember -- fly higher than you think you need to...

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Zaida (aka Jamaica from the Glitterati) once again won her class of six puppies today in Colorado!! Congratulations to her family and thanks to expert handler, Grandma Val.

Here are a couple of pictures that Barb sent -- let me just say that Zaida looks twice as big as Sydney!

Hope your weekend was a winner!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Few Pics of Zoey

Zoey quite likes this whacky ball with legs that makes grunting noises -- it is her favorite thing to play fetch with, and she LOVES to play fetch.

Zoey and her mom, Halo

Sydney: "My, what big teeth you have!"
Zoey: "Yea, remember that the next time you are thinking about pulling my tail when we are running!"

What do you think -- is Zoey ready for the show next week??

I had more pictures to add of other dogs but the server seems to think this should be all about Zoey and won't let me upload any more so there you have it.

Congratulations to Zaida from the Glitterati (aka Jamaica) who won her puppy class (n=6) in Colorado today, expertly handled by Val Horney who owns the Glitterati grandpa, Marshall.

And also congratulations to Elizabethanne, Kaibab puppy auntie, who finished her first triathalon today -- with a second place!!! We have such a talented family!

And congratulations to YOU for whatever accomplishments make you feel proud :)

Only three more days until we leave for Camp Minnesota -- and Culver's Frozen Custard!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Karma (aka Karnage) continues to try to endear herself to us. After nearly killing Cadi, she has tried hard to be a model citizen. Recently she thought perhaps bringing little presents of mice and birds might help with her status in the household, but she apparently has figured out that was not the way to go. Now she is working hard to convince Sydney that she really did not mean to try and eliminate little Sydney's mom -- luckily for Karma, we are a forgiving bunch.

I just took these as the two of them were checking things out on the deck...

We should all have such forgiving friends, shouldn't we??