Saturday, October 31, 2009

Meet Missy and Training Pics and Congrats!

Let's begin with a big congratulations to Sue Nowak and Milo (from the D Litter) who earned Milo's RN today -- Sue has worked through her own ring nerves and so good job to both Sue and Milo :)

I thought it might be time to introduce a couple of new family members. This is a picture of a cat named Missy that has joined our family -- my daughter rescued her and now Missy is living with us; she is a member of Galen's Diabetic Club...

In addition to Missy, we also have Ruby and here is her story -- I was working with a hospice patient that was just a wonderful, amazing person. She shared with me that she had found a home for one of her cats but not the other. I told her that if she did not find Ruby a home, I would take her -- well, somehow that translated to "Mary-Ann will take Ruby" -- sigh. So when the woman died, Ruby joined our family.

First we discovered that she is also in the Diabetic Club -- what the heck is up with that?! And most recently we have found a mouth ulcer that we are treating and hoping is not something really bad. Ruby likes to hide in her secret Kitty Condo so no picture just yet but she is a cute elderly tabby cat with white paws.

Having Dear Husband here is very helpful! Not only did he help me practice obedience by being a pretend judge, but he took some fun pictures of our training session today -- I thought you might enjoy seeing what we are up to these days -- all pictures were taken in the training yard.

Zoey is an agility fiend, as we all knew she would be. She is afraid of nothing and LOVES to work. I am not jumping her yet, although she does run through the uprights of the jumps -- just no bars are up and won't be for a long time (she is still a baby, after all). Here is Zoey on the dog walk.

Look closely at this picture -- it is hilarious! This is Zoey doing the table -- and giving me some attitude!

Tunnels are big fun!

At the end of the dog walk and teeter, Zoey stops and has to keep at least one toe on the piece of equipment -- she LOVES this game.

Here is Zoey on the teeter.

Okay, now we move on to obedience. For those of you who rush their dogs -- here is Asia who has been learning to heel for a good part of a year -- we still do only straight lines with no automatic sits. Separately we work a variety of little pieces she will need to have perfect heeling -- like learning to move just her butt one direction or another. Asia will show in obedience in the spring, having spent almost 18 months learning to heel and mark my words, she is going to be something special as a result of going carefully and slowly through this learning process.

Although I have certainly taken my time with Cadi's obedience work, I have not focused as much on it as I do with Asia since Cadi is more of my agility dog. However, I have decided it is time -- ready or not (more not) -- and she is entered in a show in two weeks to try for novice obedience legs. Here is Cadi heeling -- a very BALD Cadi heeling.

And here is Halo heeling -- she is a wonderful heeling dog! Halo is getting ready for utility, which is the highest obedience class.

This is Halo working on scent articles -- the correct one is #6, which she got :)

And here is Halo marking the spot across the ring that she will run to for her "go out".

Finally, some people have the strange idea that dogs prefer to just sit on the couch -- this is a picture of Asia racing to the training yard, SO excited that she gets to "work".

I hope something in your life is as interesting and exciting as training is for my girls but if not -- well, get busy!

Just Some Pictures

You know it is going to be a good day when it starts off with a rainbow!

And Dear Husband arrived a couple of days ago for a visit -- we were all very happy to see him!

Cadi and Asia wanted to take Dear Dog Dad on our favorite river hike -- so off we went.

Seriously lovely -- wouldn't you agree?

I am usually behind the camera but with Dear Husband here, I got to be in some pictures with my girls :)

I love that sweet Asia!

Asia was pleased to show off her excellent skills in the water.

Don't let Cadi's wet head fool you -- we know where Sydney's aversion to water comes from! Cadi's head is wet from rain and not from frolicking in the river with Asia.

I hope you are having an excellent weekend and that frolicking is on the agenda!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Got Faith? Yes and No

I have been meaning to update you all about Faith for some time and since it was requested, I guess now is the time.

Faith was our very small puppy that we worried about from the F litter. Instead of placing her, we kept her to make sure she was okay and Galen (my son) took her on as his. Well, Galen started college and was very busy, Faith just really loved me and soon I had seven dogs, which was not working for me or for the dogs!

It became clear that Faith was a perfectly normal puppy, and so last May I decided that if a perfect home came along for Faith -- one in which her love and devotion for a person would not have to be shared very much -- that I would let her go. This made Galen and I very sad to even think about but seven dogs -- including three puppies -- was too much, even for me.

Soon after the perfect home appeared -- I guess Faith stayed with us only until Julie was ready for her. Many tears were cried and we still miss Faith, but we also know that her path was not to be with us forever and so we let her go -- and she has brought great joy to her new life.

Faith lives in Park City, Utah with Julie. I asked Julie to write an update about Faith for you and she was happy to do so -- so here it is:

"Faith is fabulous. . . she's so beautiful that she literally stops traffic when we walk. A few weeks ago she and her big (little) brother, Booker T. Washington (2-1/2 year-old cock-a-poo) visited the groomer. The groomer called me the minute they were finished because they really needed me to pick up Faith -- they couldn't work on the other dogs because people kept stopping to ask about Faith.

So far, knock on wood, Faith hasn't swallowed anything. However, when school started up, each day I'd come home and pause before opening the door wondering what I'd find on the other side. . . somedays it was just a seam ripped on the leather couch . . . others, whole cushions were scattered about the living room and stuffing strewn.

My very sweet dog walker left a Dr. Foster/Smith catalog and suggested the diffuser with calming natural oils. When that didn't work, I bought the biggest crate Petco had . . . Faith seems very content in her crate with stuffed Kong toys.

At night, Faith prefers the cool slate floor in my master bath to the bed. She settles into a long stretch and starts to snore. That's my favorite sound in the world. I love to listen to her dream.

When Faith's ready to get up (usually just before my 5:00 am alarm), she comes over and pushes her cold nose on mine and says, "Mom, I'm here. Love me, please." Then, after a few scratches behind the ears, she jumps up onto the pillows, walks in a few circles and collapses with a sigh for a few extra minutes in bed.

Faith is filled with unconditional love.

She's still a big floppy puppy that doesn't have any idea about her size. She sees Booker in my lap and thinks that's the appropriate place for her, too. (And, of course, she's right.) The minute I sit, she's there with her brown eyes and smile asking, "is there room for me?" She puts her front paws on my lap and climbs up . . .in fact, I had to stop typing just now because she was between the computer and me. Now, she's chewing on Booker under the table."

Julie sent these pictures to share:

So Faith has her very own person and a canine brother and a wonderful human grandma that we got to meet, and she has lots of friends. We miss her still and I know Galen feels badly, but I believe we did what we were supposed to do to get Faith to her forever person.

And so that is Faith's story -- I know it shouldn't, but it still makes me sad...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Falling into Fall

Welcome to fall! The view from the deck is different but lovely in a new way -- can you see one of the Ed's in the picture?

It has been a busy week since arriving home and so I appreciated today. I stayed home all day, did therapeutic cleaning, walked, trained and groomed dogs, and just enjoyed a break.

We missed a BIG congratulations -- Molly and Fiona (from the D Litter) recently got their Open Standard agility title -- GREAT JOB girls! Molly, age 14, is a wonderful handler and Fiona is lucky to have such a dedicated owner :)

Zoey's preliminary OFA results arrived today -- normal elbows and good hips :) :) And here she is playing her favorite game -- fetch.

Unfortunately I threw the toy in a tree -- and what do you suppose Air Zoey did??

Sigh... Syd prefers to chew sticks -- even when they are still attached to the bush.

Halo thinks she could get a job hunting for truffles.

And here is Asia.

And full baby sister, Zoey.

And here's hoping your week has been a good one, and that next week is even better!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Birthday B Litter

Yesterday was the B Litter's seventh birthday. The parents of that litter are Zaltana and Abra, and there were ten in the litter, including our Halo (mom of the E and F Litters). Nine of the ten have achieved veteran status now by celebrating that special seventh birthday -- Happy Birthday to the B Litter bunch!

In honor of Halo's birthday, she got special treats and a walk with just the two of us. Here are a few pictures of Halo from the past few years...

Even if it is not your birthday, I hope your day is a happy one!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Just a few pictures from the Regional -- thanks to John for taking them!

This is Zoey (and me) with the judge.

This is what the ring scene looked like

One of the Glitterati -- Mika, formerly Ireland, with her mom. Mika looks a lot like Syd and is just as wild and crazy!

This is Asia's littermate, Levi, who lives in California.

And here is Asia getting set up to look pretty :)

We made it home from Reno in 13 hours, which was not bad at all -- and what a pretty drive up through Idaho! Now it is recovery time -- wild weekends take a couple of days of transition time -- and sleep!

Happy Week to you :)

Fast Update from Reno

The Regional was super fun :) I arrived at 6:30 a.m. and scored an amazing parking spot for my early bird tendencies, and considering how much to/from the car one does at a show, this was very nice. Excellent friends let me share a spot in their grooming tent and so it was just an easy show for me. There was the small problem of Asia managing to get her head stuck as she attempted an escape from my mesh crate -- it took a little team to handle that unfortunate incident, and my last Cabana crate is in the garbage :( Oh well -- at least Asia did not get loose and head off on a search/rescue mission to find me!

Zoey was second of eight in her sweeps class, and the judge said he wished he could give two first places as he loved both of the girls so that was very nice. Zoey did not do anything in the regular class (she was in bred-by) and Asia did not do anything exciting in Best of Breed either, but we did not care as we had a GREAT day. I got to see wonderful friends and lovely dogs, and hang out at the fairgrounds where I did 4-H stuff as a teenager. The best news of the day -- the vet who did Zoey's preliminary x-rays believes she will get a rating of Good Hips and Normal Elbows -- WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!

After the show I had dinner with my dad, sister, cousin, and our law school kid so that was very fun also. I decided to start the drive after dinner even though it was late and so here we are in the Reno Motel Six. The dogs are exhausted after a long day at the show, and so am I.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend complete with exciting news and time with people you love :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Excellent Adventure Report

So I left Montana on Wednesday morning. The drive was SO lovely and I seriously was thinking about how much I love Montana and then decided to take a picture of what I was seeing through my windshield -- isn't it wonderful?! And look Marti -- NO TRAFFIC!

I had a great drive-by date with Dear Husband but it did set up yet another sad good-bye BUT it was easier because 1) I was excited to be heading to California, and 2) I left Utah at 2:45 a.m. and Kim was actually at work anyway.

So, I drove across Nevada listening to a GREAT audio book and being very annoyed when people called as it meant I had to stop the book. I made it to Reno in record time and arrived in Sacramento early! I got to visit our law school kid and that was fun, and then I headed to Davis for a dog walk and lunch with my dad and sister at my favorite Davis place -- Dos Coyotes. Here is my sister about to tackle her veggie burrito:

Then it was off to Pleasanton where I arrived in time to do some draft practice at Goose Poop Park -- sigh. After that I checked into Motel 6 and crashed -- we were tired!

So today was the draft test at the aforementioned Goose Poop Park. I stopped at Safeway and bought a box of plastic bags and recruited other draft participants to scoop goose poop in the ring as we had ten minutes to walk the course, and that was actually quite a success, I am happy to report :)

Aside from the geese and their slimy green deposits, it is a nice park for a test. The club had a Halloween theme -- here is a picture of the course:

We had to weave in between these scarecrows:

The freight haul was challenging but fair, with lots of small hills and a lovely view of the lake -- here is Hagrid and his mom passing the novice test:

Asia was third dog in, which was nice because it got hot today. Asia was flawless in the ring exercises -- attentive, responsive, and happy. Then it was freight haul time -- we started with the out of sight stays, and she did great with that. The freight haul was pretty hilly, and although the hills were not big they were hard for Asia who was pulling 90 pounds. However, we have practiced and she is a strong girl so she did a great job today and added the Draft Dog title to her name :) Pretty cool :)

I got to see lots of people I like at the draft test, and meet several more that I got to know and like. My sister and brother arrived just in time for awards, and then we took Asia and Zoey on a hike. Much to their (Asia and Zoey, not the siblings!) delight, we found WATER -- and a golden who thought Zoey was the cutest thing ever!

Why must they always shake close to a human?! Do I look like a towel?

Here is my sister again (aka Julie) and my youngest brother, Peter:

We then all went to dinner with Auntie Ginny and Uncle Norman, and now I am back at the Motel 6 with the dogs, feeling like it was a successful day in several ways :) Hope you feel that way about your day as well!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Adventure Begins

This morning starts our next (hopefully) Excellent Adventure. I should be frantically packing now but anyone who knows me understands that I tend to do my best work (okay, maybe my only work?!) at the last minute so I rarely panic about time being short. Anyway, at 10 a.m. I will drop Galen off at the University (thanks to Heidi who will be bringing him home) and my Excellent Adventure begins.

I am driving to Salt Lake City today for what Sherri aptly termed a "drive-by date" with my Dear Husband. At 3 a.m. Thursday I have to be back on the road in order to get to Sacramento, California in time to visit one of our kids between his law school classes. From there I will head a short distance to Davis, where I will meet my dad at the dog park so Asia and Zoey can run around for a bit, and then we will go to lunch (dad and me -- not dogs!).

Okay, from there I will head to Pleasanton to practice with Joanne Prellberg (from Arizona) at the draft test site -- we are supposed to meet at 5:30 ; Joanne and I plan to have dinner together after. I suspect I will be ready for bed that night!

Friday it is an early morning at the draft test. As an Open dog, Asia will be in the morning so that will be nice. At some point I will head over to the fairgrounds to get a grooming and crating spot, and I may try to go see my brother and his family but we will see how the day unfolds. I have a dinner date with my aunt at 5:45 so that will be fun.

Saturday -- that is the regional specialty. Cindy (has B and D litter dogs) and her son and daughter-in-law (have a Glitterati) are coming to hang out -- I am very excited to see them and they are bringing the wild puppy formerly known as Ireland. I will be showing Zoey in sweeps and bred-by, and Asia will be in Best of Breed.

On Saturday afternoon, Zoey and Asia are having hip and elbow x-rays at the excellent mobile dog show vet. My x-ray options in Montana are limited, and it is pretty important to get accurate films so we are taking advantage of this opportunity to do Asia's two year films and preliminaries on Zoey. Cross your paws for good results!

On Saturday evening I will head back to Davis for a family dinner at my sister's, and then it will be time to start the long drive home -- I plan to be home late on Sunday night.

How is that for an action-packed trip?

Since I am also teaching on-line this week, I will have my laptop and will post pictures and reports. Think good thoughts for a fun (and yes, I know -- exhausting) adventure! And be sure and have some of your own :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Do They Shed?

Cadi answers that question... (that is a pile of hair that came off her!)

Murder Mystery?

The Steves are gone.

We suspected the day was coming but it is still shocking that our ten black and white bovine buddies are no longer part of the picturesque view out of our window. We will miss their dark eyes with their ridiculously long lashes, and the funny way they ran and bucked playfully as they followed us on our drafting practice parades. They were a social group, and when you move to a new place you appreciate all the friends you can get so we are sad they have left, no doubt to be slaughtered :( If I ate beef (which I have not in decades), I wouldn't after being friends with the Steves -- as Galen keeps saying, "Poor Steves..."

In their place we now have the Eds -- three stout horses who just watch us walk by, without any effort to be neighborly -- snobs.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Marching On

Recently someone told me that she thought she needed counseling because she was having such a hard time with a traumatic event that had happened with a loved one -- she said she just could not get it out of her head. While I am not in a position to say whether she did or did not need some extra help, I was struck by how little patience we have for ourselves when misfortune strikes us.

A tragedy -- and we get to define what that means to us -- slows us down, and that is okay. In the days after my cat vanished I felt just heartsick and stunned. It was like I had 100 little soldiers to put forward each day, and 85 of them were involved with the cat and all that brought up for me. That left just 15 little daily soldiers to do my work, train dogs, interact with people, and just cope with my usual life -- which normally takes all 100 little soldiers.

And with the majority of my little personal army not available, of course I was not myself and not able to function as well as I normally do. I had to be very thoughtful about where to put those remaining 15 little soldiers, and not to try to do more than my depleted personal army would allow.

My experiences with the tragedies and heartbreaks of others has taught me about patience and hope, and so I knew that I would not forever be down to 15 soldiers. This knowledge made me feel okay about limping along because I recognized it was temporary -- real, but not permanent. When we forget this, we panic and imagine that we will forever be unable to fully function, and that just uses up the remaining 15 little soldiers.

There is really no way to predict how long it takes for the troops to regroup and you cannot really rush it, as that just makes it worse. And so I have just marched through my personal battle with demons and loss, taking the hits and crying the tears and wondering about all the "why's" but always trusting that I would feel better again.

It doesn't happen all at once but suddenly you realized that most of those little soldiers are back and ready to tackle something else. The loss is not forgotten and the questions remain unanswered, but you can somehow just let it be. This is not acceptance -- bad things are not acceptable -- but rather it is a sort of reconciling with what cannot be changed. And a recognition that there is still a life to be lived, lessons to be learned and so the soldiers come back and life goes forward.

And so we have pictures again! With a storm heading our way and record cold temps coming, I decided that every dog needed to do something today. We started with the puppies -- Galen and I took them for a walk at the river. Unfortunately Galen got a low blood sugar right before we actually made it to the river so we had to turn around and go back quickly in search of sugar but the puppies still had fun, even if the hike was an abbreviated one.

The start of the hike goes past this pond -- Sydney still does not like water and Zoey loves water more each time we go to the river -- earlier this week she intentionally went far enough in the river to swim a few times!

Air Zoey



After getting home from the low blood sugar hike and ensuring that Galen was going to live, it was time to do draft with Asia. Today she pulled 80 pounds on our little route and I took a couple more pictures for you. Isn't Steve cute?!

Cadi, Maize and Halo all did agility and etc. in the training yard so everyone had fun, and then it was time to eat dinner and play. Halo thought it was an excellent time to do some pruning.

Sydney and Zoey played their version of football. It involves me throwing a toy, Zoey fetching it, and Syd playing defense to keep Zoey from bringing it back to me. Syd's first strategy is to grab Zoey's tail -- that has to be penalty!

With Zoey distracted, Syd catches up and grabs the toy.

And then there is always the intimidation factor...

Zoey eventually gives up and just practices looking beautiful...

One of my colleagues from the university came over and we blew out the sprinkler system with an air compressor -- who knew that had to be done?! And so ends a mellow and productive afternoon/evening -- such times are so good for recharging all those little soldiers :)