Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Air Zoey Video!

Just want to mention -- Zoey is completely out of coat in this video but still darn cute :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Little Bits of News

I had a talk with the Mrs. (aka Maize) and told her that her Auntie Marti offered to be her personal happiness assistant if she would agree to go to the Specialty. After being assured that she would get to walk around and get petted, shop for free cookies, and sit on the couch and cuddle, Maize has agreed to go. So Syd stays with Galen and thanks to Marti, Maize gets to go and show off being almost ten -- thanks Marti :) :)

We have had great weather here and so I have the grooming table on the deck. Both Asia and Zoey think the grooming table is, in fact, a special dog perch and they like to hang out on it -- here are a couple of shots of Asia doing just that :)

Here is Sydney subtly announcing two things. First, we support gay rights (note the rainbow pants). Second, Sydney is in season (again, note the rainbow pants). This is her first one and she is being a good sport about the pants.

Sigh -- but dogs work like women, and right after Syd came in so did Asia. And a couple of days ago so did Zoey! At nearly 19 months Zoey had yet to be in season so I was starting to wonder if she had all the right parts -- she apparently does. So yes, we have three girls in season and only one pair of rainbow pants so two are sporting large size pull-ups with holes cut out for the tail. Dear Husband will be so happy to hear about all this -- he arrives tomorrow :)

Finally, Missy wanted to share how she prefers her water -- on tap.

Have a great week generating your own little bits of news :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More News!

Congratulations to Barb and Maddie (F Litter aka Madison) who attended the same show as Zed this weekend but who showed that the family also has brains by getting two Rally Advanced legs -- one with a placement! Great work Maddie and Barb :)


News Flash

Just got a call from Terri Zimmerman -- Zed (Dawson from the F Litter) just went Best of Winners at a show in Washington for his first two points :)

Here is a picture of the winner from back in the day....

Congratulations to Terri and Zed :)


Just a few pictures/updates of our Glitterati, now 16 months.

Jennifer and Ralph took Cooper (aka Whitby) to a draft clinic yesterday and Jennifer reports that Cooper is a natural :)

The Heintzbergers sent these pictures of Mika (aka Ireland) who they report is a bit of a wild teenager :) She looks like a peaceful angel to me...

Finally, Zaida (aka Jamaica) wishes everyone a Happy Easter and wonders if she can please take the stupid ears off?????!!!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Settle In and Opinions Wanted

I suspect this will be long even though I have nothing terribly exciting to say... you can always just look at the pictures :)

So, let me clarify that Dear Husband is not up here yet -- well, he was and will be again but not yet for good (or for bad ;). We had decided it would be disruptive to move him here in the middle of the semester so it will be summer before he is here on a permanent basis. In meantime, he has TEN WEEKS of paid vacation to use so we will be seeing a lot of him -- that is a good thing :)

It is Spring Break now and we started with a bang, so to speak. Sydney did some throwing up over night, so I decided we would sleep in a bit (as in -- 6:00 a.m.) since we were up so much last night. Sigh. Bad idea -- I got up to quite a mess in the living room and dining room. Did you know hydrogen peroxide is a good carpet cleaner? She is fine now, having thrown up the offending sticks and plastic bag while I was busy cleaning one part of the carpet. More sighs.

Undeterred from my general happiness and additional happiness because it is Spring Break (and amazingly enough, Spring!) we have proceeded with the morning, candles burning of course. I have gotten some nudges about the lack of Blogs so that is early on the agenda, obviously :)

Let's start with some pictures from last night and this morning...

Karma and Zoey

Isn't this a nice picture of Halo. Okay, I have not gotten to her ears yet...

Asia in a state of Stick Bliss.

More Stick Bliss -- Halo this time

Cadi, also with a stick!

Life in Montana is excellent and will be better on Tuesday when Dear Husband arrives for another week long visit. I love my job and I love this house and I just love Montana. Yes, there are things I miss -- the kids and friends especially -- but it seems appropriate to finally have a life of my own, and kids and friends are still part of it but in different ways. So things are quite good here -- sometimes it seems unreal and I worry I will wake up and this will have all been a dream... however, in dreams you do not usually include what I woke up to this morning so maybe I am safe...

Anyway, I highly encourage solitude and reflection. Lately I have been thinking a lot about who I really am and who I really want to be. Once my dad posed this question to me: "who were you before you were socialized?" I think about that a lot -- the difference between my true nature and the person I have been shaped to be. Since authenticity matters a lot to me, it is an interesting exercise...

And stripped free of the demands of kids and busy-ness, one has the chance to really reflect and ponder whether the choices I make/made are my own, or because they were expected. I think about how parenthood especially shapes us away from ourselves, and into a person who children need us to be. Of course, none of us are perfect at parenthood EVER but I think being a parent demands letting go of parts of yourself in order to make room for children.

And gender and culture and religion and education and work and relationships and family and all the other forces that shapes us -- I have been thinking long and hard about all of it, trying to discern who I was before all of the various forces worked on me. My hunch is that real happiness only happens when we are real, and that when we spend energy fighting who/what we are, we cannot use that to do good in the world. Therefore, it seems important -- to me anyway -- to at least try and sort this all out because I do believe that we are all here to make a positive difference, and that is hard to do when we are fighting with ourselves.

And so I plug along, a work in progress -- as we all are. I have found that being organized is actually a better fit for me than the life of last minute chaos that I lived for decades. And that brings me to my various lists... I have a busy brain and it lives to come up with ideas, but it is not always the most focused and organized brain around. Therefore, I have discovered that I can actually get even more done when I help that idea-generating machine to be focused. I am not great at it yet but I have made excellent progress, and those lists help 100%.

I make "to do" lists several days a week, and because I have that (un)fortunate combination of optimism and a busy brain, my lists are usually VERY long. The other factor that goes into that is that I make them in the morning when I am at my best -- if I made them at 7:30 p.m. they would likely include 1.5 things and one of them would be, "go to bed".

So, armed with an enthusiastic attitude generated from my morning optimism I make these lists, and because I am also very dogged and determined, my lists get done almost every single time. Dear Husband can tell you that I get quite single-minded about The List -- "never mind the storm, if the list says "walk dogs" we are walking".

So, it is likely no surprise that my dog training lists reflect no unchecked boxes. I am in the Specialty Countdown (more on that in a minute) and so my usual doggedness is amplified by a close goal. This week I did nine obedience sessions with Asia alone! I won't bore you with all the details but I did 33 training sessions in the past week -- plus my six dog walks and four bike rides -- and my job. It kind of amazes me actually but really -- what else do I have to do?! I work and I train dogs and I exercise and I think a lot -- that about sums it up and I have to say, I love it all.

But although I have tried to solve this problem with lists, I am unsuccessful at resolving my Specialty Dilemma and need some help. The Specialty is in May and the first problem is that I have to leave early because of graduation at the University. I have known this for over a month and have been too sad to talk much about it. I will have to miss Best of Breed and the Versatility class and the beauty pageant class Zoey would have shown in -- I am SO SO sad about all that. There is no solution to it -- it is what it is, and I accept it since I cannot be in two places at once.

So the real problem I have now is about who to take and I really cannot decide. I "should" only take four dogs but probably could take five since we have a suite; taking all six is not an option. The dog(s) who stays will be with Galen in Utah.

Let's review the choices...

1. Mrs. Maize should go because she could show in the 9 - 11 veterans classes. Since the average age of death for a berner is close to 8 years, this is a Big Deal. Maize, who is almost ten, could also do an agility class -- that all by itself would be amazing and fun. Mrs. Maize also has a lot of fans who would enjoy seeing her so that is a reason to take her.

But last year Maize did not have fun going to the Specialty -- I thought she was sick the whole time but really, she was just a) pouting; or b) depressed. When I load the car with show gear, Maize REFUSES to leave the deck -- she clearly is done with shows. So the reason not to take her is because if we asked her, she would say that she prefers to hang out with Galen.

2. Halo did not go last year and was promised the trip this year. She will show in obedience, rally, and draft. At seven, she could do the 7 - 9 veterans class. So Halo needs to be a definite -- mostly because I promised her she could go this year.

3. Cadi -- we all remember Cadi's last Specialty disaster where she spent the week in the hotel recovering from her near death experience. Cadi is a definite -- she has lots to do and even though I am super sad about her missing the Versatility class, she can do all the performance events.

4. Asia -- another definitely going. I have been working hard for her obedience debut at the Specialty and so she is going, even though I am extra sad that she has to miss Best of Breed... Asia will also do draft, rally and hopefully tracking (if we get in to the test).

5. Zoey -- we are getting into the questionable ones again. The reason to take Zoey is because she would be VERY unhappy left behind -- she does well with me and when I am not around, she is not as happy. If Galen could stay up here in Montana, I would leave her but it will be in Utah -- she is not as familiar there and I just know she will not be happy. In addition, Galen knows she will not be happy and is not keen on having her for a week. If she went, Zoey would do one agility class and that would be it...

6. Sydney -- the reason to take her is to show her in the puppy beauty pageant classes. If she had flunked the TD test, I would take her for sure so she could have done the Specialty tracking test but she passed, as we know, and so there is less of a reason to take her. I would like to show her in those puppy classes, but I am not sure she will have much coat AND Galen wants to keep her especially -- he LOVES and misses Syd.

So the choices are:

1. Leave just Syd;
2. Leave just Maize;
3. Leave just Zoey;
4. Leave some combination of above.

Your thoughts???

Okay, enough words for now -- more pictures...

Here is THROW THE BALL NOW Zoey...

Fun ball scenes

And just look at how happy that ball makes her :)

But it does make for a dirty tongue!

Halo up close and personal

Syd and Maize...

I call this picture, "Collective AHHHH..." Maize and her granddaughter, Sydney.

Now go make your own AHHHHH moments :) (and tell me who to take to the Specialty!!)

Friday, March 19, 2010


Kim just took these unposed photos -- it is why I do not sit down much ;)

Hope someone warm and fuzzy likes to sit in your lap :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gloves, Gloves Everywhere (and socks)

A tracking test begins with a "draw" at an appointed time -- it is at this that entrants draw for tracks. If one misses the draw, then your dog misses her chance to track -- this happened to me once due to a misunderstanding on the part of the Tracking Test Secretary at a Specialty, and Abra lost a chance to run a TDX track.

As a result, I am super paranoid about draws and this morning's was complicated by the time change and the different time zone. After thinking about it for at least a few hours, I was able to correctly figure out what time it really was in the Pacific Time Zone following that whole "Spring Forward" thing -- the exact same time as Mountain Time without any springing forward.

Regardless, I was still too worried to sleep and finally gave up and left the motel to drive closer to the draw site. The draw was at 8 and at 5:25 I was in a McDonald's parking lot 14 miles away -- about as close as I could get. McDonald's was closed so I walked dogs until 6 and then went in to hang out for a while -- I figured I could be an hour early for the draw but anything more suggested obsessiveness (okay, admitted obsessiveness).

In order to make sure I knew where I was going, I made friends with three older men who clearly had a McDonald's 6 a.m. Breakfast Club. I overheard them discussing whether the onions were in yet, and so I decided they would know the area since they were farmers -- I was so right. They were quite interested in tracking and Bernese Mountain Dogs, and were able to assure me that I was 15 minutes away from the draw site and could not possibly get lost on the way.

I left McDonald's with the good wishes of my new farmer friends and headed to the draw site, arriving 56 minutes early -- and I was not even the first one there (I was second :). The sunrise turned the sky pink -- it was lovely. I felt blessed to be there and knew it did not matter what else happened today -- I am a lucky, lucky woman.

People started arriving in earnest about 7:30 -- I love tracking people!!! Although I did not know most of them, I felt right at home, as if I was with "my people" :)

They had cute bookmarks for the TD draw -- I drew the one with a #2, indicating Syd would run the second TD track; I drew the third and last TDX track for Asia -- last means later (and warmer), and that is not so great.

We headed down the road to the tracking "base camp" -- they had an RV and wonderful hospitality stuff set up. And soon it was Syd's turn -- we drove to where her track started, and I got the okay to get going. Here is a look over the area where her track started...

I got Syd out and managed to put on her harness as Syd wiggled and wagged excitedly -- the same harness worn by her mom, grandma, and great-grandma. We headed to the orange start flag and she was off -- 455 yards and seven minutes later our Sydney had found this:

...and earned her first AKC title -- Tracking Dog :)

At 11:30 it was finally Asia's turn, and here is where her track was:

Although she did not pass, I could not be any prouder of that dog -- she was superb. She found all articles, ignored the cross tracks entirely, tracked quickly and efficiently, and then on the last turn -- both of us worn out and hot -- we kind of fell apart as a team and missed the last turn. We got the whistle and then they just pointed us in the right direction and she finished the track -- we were less than 100 yards from the final glove, which she found easily.

This was by far the closest I have come to a TDX and yes, I was so sad that we were so close -- but so happy that we were so close. The judges and spectators were so complimentary and encouraging, and Asia didn't know that we did not really get the title because we celebrated as if she did :) She is a stunningly good working dog -- so willing to do whatever I ask with such heart and I just LOVE her. There is no weakness in her training that needs work -- we are definitely doing the right things and she will get that title one of these times.

We stayed for awards and lunch...

...and then started the six hour drive home.

And so it is done -- Sydney now has the same last name (T.D.) as the rest of the family and can stop worrying that she is adopted, and Asia and I will keep doing what we are doing, and get better as a team so we can pass the TDX the next time.

The streak of TD's is intact -- seven in a row with no failures. This is a lot of pressure but I have no upcoming dog at this time so I can rest on my laurels for a while :) Sydney represents a fourth generation of my TD dogs, and getting her TD made me think of the other six. Each one is a clear memory for me -- all separate events and yet somehow, they all merge in this fourth generation...

Thank you for your good thoughts and encouragement -- it means a lot to me. I hope your weekend was also a success, or that you can view it that way no matter how it went.

ADDITION! I mentioned on the berner-l that I attribute some good amount of success to the Lucky Hanukkah socks I wore -- I also wore those socks when Zoey got her TD and for some fall draft titles. No, I am not Jewish but my daughter lives near a sock store and so I have socks for all holidays :) Pat Long noted that there was no photo of those socks so here they are -- complete with lucky tracking dirt and the glove Syd found that is now signed by the judges and tracklayer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Week In Review and Pictures

Dear Husband arrived on Tuesday but not without drama. First problem was that he forgot his phone -- this would not have been too much of an issue if his flight had gone well, but of course it didn't. First it was delayed by almost two hours but he managed to borrow a phone and leave me a message about that.

Then I got an email from him while I was in class -- it said, "...First, I hope you got my message not to come to the airport. Second, we were diverted to Helena and now we are waiting for buses to get here to take us to Missoula. Third, I can't find a phone in this airport, so I have no way to call you since I left my phone at home by accident. Fourth, I will try to call you when I get to the Missoula airport."

Yes indeed, his plane was in a final descent to Missoula when suddenly they decided it would be better to land 100+ miles away in Helena and drive them over a mountain pass in a bus in a snowstorm. Dear Husband was 36 hours without sleep (he had worked the night before), hungry, and not at his cheerful best when he finally arrived in Missoula after his Big Adventure -- as you might imagine :) But he arrived safely and all is well.

This morning he threw Zoey's toy for her -- over and over and over -- Zoey was very happy :)

Usually I have to throw and take the pictures but today I was able to just take pictures, and here are some of my favorites....

Maize and Syd like to bark at each other (gee, they must be related ;) -- here are some of them mixing it up...

Just Maize -- barking (so unusual!)...

And here are a couple of Sydney -- she is growing up :)

(Are those DEVIL horns?!)

Yes, all boxes got checked again -- six walks, four bike rides, eight agility sessions, four obedience session, and TRACKING up the wazoo -- TEN tracking sessions -- ugh. Tracking with Syd (four sessions) is not a big deal -- lay the track, wait 30 or so minutes, run it) but Asia is tracking at the TDX level so that means her track is aged THREE HOURS -- we did SIX of them. If the track was just outside the front door that would not matter but TDX tracks are long so you need big fields, and she needed to track in different areas so I did a lot of driving this week. Kim was a great sport and laid tracks for me and that helped a lot. Oh -- and I taught my classes and did all that professorial stuff I do plus gave a presentation about community building in online courses at a conference! Yikes -- what a week.

Tomorrow is the tracking test in Palisades, Washington. Asia needs a "Perfect Storm" to pass but I am hoping to get good info about the areas of weakness in our training so it will be a success no matter what; remember the pass rate for TDX is about 15%. Sydney is tracking very well but anything can happen at a test... The girls and I leave this afternoon, and Kim will stay here with the other dogs. Think good thoughts tomorrow!!!

I hope your week has gone well, with no dangling boxes or participles.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Asia Experiment

Here is the link to the video I made of Asia -- I had to make it by myself so it is not great but the next video update will be better :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Odds and Ends

I love weekends!!

Three or more things... First, I am not offended and do not have any hurt feelings this weekend! Rather, I observed that someone else did and it made me think about how hurt feelings and taking offense is a choice. If we assume good intentions I suspect the level of hurt and offense in the world would drop dramatically :)

Second, if you are not a fan of Lily and Hope, you are seriously missing some good stuff. Lily is a wild black bear in Minnesota who gave birth to Hope at the end of January -- there is a den cam that allows us to watch them and it is amazing. Go to: and click on the circle/arrow to get live feed, and also look at Lily Video Clips for amazing views of Lily and Hope. I have been following this since before Hope was born, and have learned so much about black bears that I am no longer afraid of them -- very helpful when you live in Montana.

Third, just have to share that I made bagels yet again to go with the homemade Peach Almond jam my good friend sent me from Oregon -- SO YUMMY.

Finally, thought you might like to see some pictures from this afternoon as we were all outside enjoying the lovely day...

Isn't this a sign that it is SPRING?!

Okay, how about this -- is this a sign of spring? Or just Good Karma/Karnage...

Tomorrow I am making a video of the Asia Experiment and will post so you can see what can be done with zero/zip/nada corrections. In the meantime, have a lovely evening/morning/day -- oh what the heck -- life!