Saturday, February 27, 2010

Week In Review and Pictures

I am pleased to share that I had had no unchecked boxes in my Dog Week Schedule for last week -- this reflects my dedication, my obsession to not have boxes without a little "x", and that my goals for the week were realistic -- yippee for me! Being realistic is not one of my strengths so that is the best part :)

I thought you might pretend to be interested in what is actually on one of those famous little charts -- thank you for pretending to ask!

As you know, Mrs. Maize is going to be ten this summer and she thinks that having earned her championship and TWENTY-THREE working titles allows her to live in semi-retirement; I agree. But I think staying active is important, and so the Mrs. does not get to sit on a couch all day (well, I do not have a couch but if I did, she couldn't sit on it all day!). And so Mrs. Maize went on two walks of two miles each, did two sessions of agility practice with jumps at 16 inches, and I gave her a bath. Doesn't she looks all nice and fluffy?


Halo deVil think obedience is the most fun thing ever!!! Good thing because we are getting ready for the Utility ring in late April. So Halo also had two of those two mile walks, and did four sessions of obedience during the week. Clearly there needs to be a little box for, "trim Halo's ears" this week!!!


Cadi-Bug is our Agility Queen, and we have some trials coming up in April. Cadi did two walks, and also had five sessions of agility and two sessions of obedience during her week.


Asia, known as Asia, is part of The Asia Experiment. I have not shared this before but no worries -- I have not started an animal testing research lab here! Rather, I made a decision to train Asia with zero corrections to see whether one could have a top level obedience dog without ever having corrected the dog. Now, I do not use aversives (things that hurt or cause stress) in training anyway but I am not even telling her if she is wrong -- I help her be right, only reinforce "right", and I ignore anything that is less than perfect. She has learned to heel with no collar and no leash, and no corrections -- it is pretty amazing. Anyway, so Asia's time is focused on obedience. In addition to her two walks, she did obedience six of the seven days last week. Asia is still trying to understand why anyone would think she looks like a BOY!!


Air Zoey is an insanely crazed agility dog who doesn't yet jump. Well, she jumps (as you know) but not over agility jumps -- I think she is too young for that yet. However, her training is primarily in agility right now so she did the two walks, and three sessions of agility; Zoey also gets to play fetch every day at least once. Zoey thanks Joan for her cool new ball :)



Sydee-Lou has her eye on the glove -- that is to say that she is tracking these days with the goal of getting certified to enter a tracking test. So Syd did the two walks plus she went tracking three times during the past week. Syd wants you to know that she can also play fetch -- when she feels like it.



I walk two dogs at a time so you can see that I am doing a lot of walking -- and good thing because I included myself on the chart! I was able to check off all six days of planned walks plus my four planned days of cycling -- pretty good week for all of us :)

I hope you had a good week and that the next one will be even better, with no unchecked boxes!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why and Faith

As you probably know, I manage my life with six dogs with the help of a weekly chart. Each Saturday morning I plan the next week, ensuring that all six dogs are scheduled for training and exercise in a manner that is fair and meets our training needs. On Thursday it was Cadi and Asia's day for a walk, but I was feeling kind of lazy and didn't want to deal with crazed Cadi who thinks we should play tug with the flexi for the first part of our walk; some days this is cute and some days it is annoying -- on Thursday it would have been annoying.

And so I decided we would drive the half mile to where the off leash part of the walk starts, but unfortunately everyone else was taking advantage of the lovely afternoon as well. Someone was riding her horse right down the middle of our dog walk road and had a trailing loose dog to boot, and someone else was walking -- I was seriously annoyed at the nerve of these people!! I can usually do this walk without seeing a car or a person, and there was a Montana crowd in my space! Grrrrr.....

Grumbling and annoyed I drove on trying to think about what to do -- Cadi and Asia needed their walk, and I had a little box on the chart that needed checking off. I drove about two miles on the dirt road and remembered that there was a trailhead nearby so I turned up the road to that, parked the car and started walking with the girls.

It was so lovely and peaceful! Trees lined either side of the dirt road and we walked up towards the mountains that were just right there, snow covered and stunning. The dogs romped and ran, getting muddy and wet, and I realized something as I walked that I think is worth sharing.

When we try to force our way, we so often miss out on better ways. When we go forward with faith, trusting in what is unknown but confident that something will work out, there are so often amazing gifts as a result. I have learned this lesson over and over in my life, and that walk on Thursday brought everything in a crystal clear circle for me.

I railed against the unfairness of what happened to me at the University of Utah (long story, details not important); indeed, it broke my heart and my spirit for a long time. But out of that came my work with Joan at the pediatric hospital in Salt Lake City -- I would have never gone there otherwise -- and that experience put the finishing touches on my education, teaching me so many things I needed to know, and putting amazing people and relationships in my path. And if I were still at the University of Utah, I would not have been walking on that quiet, beautiful dirt road in Montana on Thursday afternoon, and living a life here that I could only imagine in my dreams.

I don't know why or how my life goes as it does, but I have learned to trust that it is going as it is supposed to go. I have faith that all will be well, and indeed, that new doors will open to places that are even more wonderful because I have experienced this over and over. When we are in a dark, uncertain place it is hard to believe this but I choose faith -- faith that there is a plan, that it is in my best interest, and that it is okay if I do not understand how all this life stuff works. I just know that it does work, and that is enough for me.

Both of my sisters are facing significant life changes with their careers. Kim is about to end his life in Utah (not literally, of course!!!) and life as a Law Enforcement Professional. All around me are people facing change, and I wish I could adequately convey what I feel -- that when the usual is not an option anymore, have faith that all will be well. It is only with the gift of time that we can look back and see that there was a path, and it went exactly as it was supposed to -- even though we could not see that at the time through our fears and anxiety, and the sorrow and tears.

I think it is sometimes the best thing when life does not go according to our carefully made plans -- as imperfect humans, why would we think that we can always get it so right? I was walking two dogs in a newly discovered treasure of a place not just because other people were using my usual dog walking road, but because several years ago the reins were taken out of my hands and the plan I had for the course of my life was churned up in some cosmic blender, spitting me out on a peaceful, tree lined road in the mountains of Montana. Wow -- it has been a wild ride, but WOW. That is all I can say -- WOW.

Pictures tomorrow. Enjoy your ride -- but its also okay to cover your eyes sometimes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kaibab's Blue Moon October 20, 2002 - February 18, 2010

Last week Luna left this earth to go be with her human dad, Alan, her dog parents, Abra and Zaltana, and her littermate, Zephyr. For nearly a year Luna has been having bouts of aspirate pneumonia, and last week the pneumonia was too much and Luna had to leave us.

Luna is survived by her human mom, Sharon, and her nephew, Jemie (from the E Litter). She lived a charmed life with Sharon and Alan in St. Louis, and was joined by Jemie after Alan died. Luna had a city house and country house, and a life filled with love -- we should all be so blessed.

Sharon did everything and more to try and understand why Luna was aspirating and getting pneumonia; we hope a necropsy will shed some light on this because in life, there were no answers. We are so grateful to Sharon for giving Luna the very best care possible, and for being willing to help us try to understand Luna's death with a necropsy.

Thanks to Sharon for her friendship over the past seven years, and for loving Luna so much. Sharon shares these pictures of sweet Luna with us:



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back to Bagels!

Lynn decided it was her turn to make bagels, and she shared her adventures in bagel making on her Blog: http://mygreenerpastures.blogspot.com/

Great job, Lynn!

In the meantime, I have bagels in the oven as I type! I am seriously hooked and each batch is better than the last one. This time I made cinnamon-chocolate chip! I was giving up chocolate for Lent, but Cali got me thinking about adding something for Lent so I did that instead (I added more chocolate -- just kidding ;).

Congratulations to Maya (from the F Litter) and Karen on earning a Rally Novice leg with a first place and a great score yesterday!! Good job Karen and Maya :)

And a big congratulations to Milo (from the D Litter) and Sue -- Milo earned his first CD leg this weekend :) Wonderful work!!!

Hope your Sunday is a lovely one.

Update: Those cinnamon-chocolate chip bagels are the BEST ever -- I had two with cocoa for dinner and honestly, they were/are amazing!!!!!! I used only about 3.75 cups of flour and that made them even lighter and more yummy. Susan -- thank you so much for starting us all on this road to bagelmania :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mean People Suck: A Rant About ...well... Meanness!

Dog events of all kinds are microcosms; this means that they contain all the elements of the larger world -- good and bad, whacky and wonderful. All kinds of people are there, and because the setting is a small one, you get to experience all those different kinds of people. This was definitely brought home to me this past weekend at the three day agility trial I attended in Utah.

There are wonderful people in dogs -- ethical, kind, decent people who show dogs because it is fun and because dogs like to have things to do with the owners they love (and yes, dogs do love). These people -- like the good folks in the "real world" -- care about each other. They understand each other in ways that non-dog friends cannot, and so they celebrate together and cry together, keenly aware that each member of the community will do both things many times over the years. There is something so very comforting about being understood; this is what our wonderful, kind dog friends offer us.

And then there are the mean ones -- the small, jealous, petty mean ones that slink around in every community of people - including the dog world. Why can't they just live among their own kind?

Now, let me begin by noting that none of us are perfect and we all do and say things that are unfortunate at one time or another. Each of us hurts people's feelings, but the difference between a Nice Person and a Mean Person is that a Mean Person doesn't care! In fact, a Mean Person says mean things -- on purpose!!!!!!!!

Lest you think I am becoming cynical, I want to say that I am frequently accused of being a Pollyanna -- Heidi can attest to this, right Heidi? I assume good intentions to a fault almost all the time -- it is something I had to learn, and I do like being good at whatever I do ;) And so it takes a lot for me to suggest that someone is a Mean Person -- but that, my dear reader, is precisely what I am about to tell you.

The place is the agility trial, and the weapon? Words -- the most painful weapon most of us have in our arsenal. The victim? Me -- through my sweet Asia.

Now, you can insult me and you can maybe insult my kids and you might be able to get away with slightly insulting Dear Husband -- but insult my dog? Welcome to my very short list of "Do Not Speak To Ever Again" people.

Yes indeed, Asia has been slighted -- by a judge, you wonder? No. By someone who was asked for her opinion? No. Quite simply -- by a Mean Person who has done this type of thing repeatedly in the past to me and to others. For years I have hopefully thought, "not mean, just clueless" but my opinion is revised -- mean AND clueless. And currently occupying a very high position on the aforementioned "Do Not Speak To Ever Again" list.

Dear Husband said, "why did you even go over to say hello?! She does this to you all the time!" Well, because I was trying to be nice? Because I am optimistic? Assuming good intentions?

Close friends that I texted through my tears were outraged on my behalf -- that made me feel better because it is always good to know your friends have your back. I think they knew it was very serious because in my text I actually used the words instead of just @#$%^&, which is most unlike me (as Heidi can also attest).

It wasn't so much what was said because what was said was just stupid and ignorant and wrong. Please -- I know my dog is not perfect, but she did get her championship in three show weekends at 12 months old with ME as her handler -- she can't be that bad. Rather, it was that someone would so out of the blue make it a point to say negative things about my dog to me -- without being asked for an opinion, and really for no reason at all, other than meanness.

And so if any Mean People are reading this -- listen up. It is really pretty simple -- if you cannot say something nice, just don't say anything at all. And for heaven's sake, if you cannot find something nice to say about a berner -- well, you have a problem and it is bigger than topping my "Do Not Speak To Ever Again" list this week.

When I was a kid my dad tried hard to teach me that incredibly stupid saying that parents tell their kids when they do not want to get off their butts and protect their kids from bullies: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me". I love my dad and he is a brilliant person but guess what? Words are cruel weapons, and they do hurt.

I feel sad for people whose lives are so small and bitter that they leak their negativity and meanness all over others -- what a hard life that must be, and I am glad it is not mine. But compassion and understanding does not mean that we must allow ourselves to be insulted and/or abused, and a dark soul is certainly not an excuse for hurting other people.

In the end, I did what my dogs usually do -- I walked away from a situation that was difficult, even though part of me wanted to go for the throat (so to speak). And I sought support from two of my best friends -- friends I knew would "get it" because they are in the Nice People category of the Dog Microcosm. And I fumed and vented to Dear Husband, tried to feel compassion for the Mean Person (didn't work), searched in vain for a voodoo doll, and so on.

And now it is done (sort of) -- and I will implement another lesson that I have learned from my dogs: Assuming good intentions is all well and good but it is best to stay away from bitches that are known to have bad temperaments. I think we should file this with the "Don't Hug a Rattlesnake" lesson -- isn't life just full of lessons? And wouldn't it be nice to just get the lesson notes, and not have to have the painful learning experiences?! Could someone work on that please???

Exhibit A: Asia -- such an unattractive head on a girl, wouldn't you say? (sarcasm alert)


Okay -- I think I am done with my rant, such that it is. Could we please all agree to be nice??? Maybe we could take a niceness pledge???

Pics

Back in Montana, feeling like I was once again transported to a different life (and back) so trying to get my equilibrium back. But wanted to share these pictures, demonstrating that I can take pictures of something other than dogs :)

These are from the banquet that officially ended Kim's coaching stint at East High -- here he is with the Athletic Director, Kathy, who is just a wonderful person and great Athletic Director


Here are Cassie, Jake, Galen, and Tanner


Our gang that could come to the banquet -- poor Kim has a hard time keeping his eyes open for pictures!


And driving home through Idaho, I saw two separate herds of elk! To give you an idea of how uncrowded it is out there, I just stopped the van in the middle of the highway and snapped pictures from the van -- you go MILES without seeing a car. Aren't the elk interesting?



Hope you are having an interesting day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MORE Family Fun

No wonder I feel so busy when I am in Utah -- I am! Just got back from the baseball field yet again but this time we got to visit Asia's littermate, Aspen -- what a LOVELY girl she is. Aspen is only slighty smaller than Asia, same great temperament.

But we start off with Syd who wanted me to notice that she is growing up rather nicely -- wouldn't you agree? She has a message for her special friend: "Dear Lisa, I only sat in Joan's lap to make my brother jealous. Love from your best girl, Sydney."


Here we have the three sisters -- Asia and Aspen from Zack/Halo 1.0 and Zoey from Zack/Halo 2.0


This is Aspen. She lives with her wonderful parents near Salt Lake City.


Aspen again -- doesn't she look like Asia?


And again -- Aspen


And here are the littermates, Asia and Aspen


Okay, that is all the family visits I can manage this trip -- tonight is Kim's wrestling banquet and then it is back to Montana early tomorrow.

I hope you have enjoyed the pictures as much as I have enjoyed getting to take them :)

More Fun (The Old Ladies)

Two posts in a day :)

I took Halo and Maize over to the park where I have let them run off leash in a fenced baseball field since they were wee puppies. They love it, especially Halo, who is in her glory as she scans for intruders to the "farm". I am always amazed at how happy she is there, running the fence line, watching for strangers or dogs to bark at, and periodically running over to check in with me before resuming her duties; you can see the Swiss farm dog at work when Halo is at that field.

I have been there with many berners over the years -- mine and other peoples -- and I cannot think of any who have not joined the group guarding when they have spotted an intruder heading towards the farm/baseball field -- I think it is just how they are hard wired. When new dogs/people enter the field, there is barking and sniffing and then the new dog(s) joins the pack, and gets to work with the others guarding the special place.

So here are the Old Ladies, hard at work protecting the farm/baseball field from such things as men moving picnic tables, a FedEx truck, and someone kicking a soccer ball. I am grateful to be able to watch them run and hear their happy barking :)

Mrs. Maize, nine years and seven months young.

More Maize

Can't have too much Maize :)


And these three are of Halo in various stages of surveillance and checking in...




I hope you have opportunity to honor your hard wiring :)

Family Fun

Once I have a cooler head and gentler typing fingers, I will post a Blog titled, "Mean People Suck" but in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy seeing some family pictures and a video of Agility Cadi.

Yesterday I visited a definite nice person, Joan, and we took Syd, Zoey, Rainy (Glitterati), and Bella (B Litter) to the park for some fun. Joan nicely brought a ball for Rainey and Zoey was happy to demonstrate how to retrieve (over and over); here she is watching her cousin Syd, who is fond of illegal tail-grabbing tackles.


And here is Zoey and Rainey.


Rainey standing and then chewing on a stick



In this picture Syd is saying to Rainey: "See dork, if you would have stayed small and cute like me, you too could be a lap dog and enjoy this excellent spot on your warm and cuddly mom."


And here is Bella (Halo's littermate so Zoey's aunt)


And here is Agility Cadi!
video

I hope you are having a great day, with nary a mean person in sight!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

That Silver and Gold Thing Again

On Friday I taught my 11 - 12 class, went home, loaded up the girls and we headed south to Utah. We take Highway 93 south into Idaho, going over a Pass between the states that can be pretty scary in bad weather but the roads were decent and the drive was stunningly lovely; I took this from the car just south of the Pass.

Unfortunately the personal dog/antelope park was snowed in so we had to skip that on this trip. We made it down to Utah without incident, and I am once again struck with the crazy contrast between the spacious, uncrowded life in Montana and a very busy life here. I feel like I get transported to another life when I come down here, and it definitely makes my head spin a bit! It is not bad -- it is just SO different.

Yesterday I sent Galen and Tanner to the hippie dog food store to pick up some stuff; here is Galen all dressed up for the occasion!


Actually, he was dressed up for a later occasion that involved GIRLS -- and not the furry, four-legged (safe) kind. Anyway, while at the hippie dog food store he ran into (not literally, thank goodness) one of our longest Utah friends, Kayla. Galen called me to see if I was home so Kayla could come over; of course I was thrilled to have the chance to see her!

So two things about this... First, I met Kayla when I was training my first two berners, Emma and Darcy, at a park. She was riding her bike and stopped to talk with me about the dogs. Long story short, she and her husband, Darek, wound up getting her first berner, Lucy, from Margie Reho, and we all became friends. It was Kayla and Darek that I called at midnight when I needed someone to come to the ER and get nine year old Galen from the hospital as I was about to have an emergency appendectomy.

Darek died of Melanoma several years ago -- a promising and kind person who left this earth way too early; he was in his thirties :( I ride the bike I bought from him - it is the one in the loft -- and think of him frequently; his memory reminds me to be grateful.

So the second thing that I wanted to mention about this is that on the way down to Utah I was talking to my sister, Julie (as opposed to my sister, Christine). Did you know I have two sisters? I do -- and two brothers! Anyway, I love my sisters!!!! I was telling Julie that I had been thinking about how my new life in Montana has taken up so many of my "little soldiers" and not left many available for things like staying in touch, mailing presents, birthday cards, and so on. I feel badly about this -- it is not that I do not care because I do -- but it is just that it takes a lot to start a new life and a new job and have part of my life still in another state and so on. And so some things that matter have not gotten the attention that they deserve -- just because there are not enough little soldiers in my emotional army.

Seeing Kayla was so wonderful -- it was like no time had passed at all. And I was reminded of two things. First, old friends are so important and wonderful; they share a piece of our history and know us in ways that new friends do not. It was so neat to be with someone who knew all my berners, knew Abra as a young dog, played with Maize as a newborn, and has watched Galen grow up. Second, real friends understand and do not require constant tending to stay connected; the connection is there even when time passes with no real contact.

The juxtaposition of two things -- talking to Julie about feeling badly about not staying in better touch with people who matter and then seeing Kayla -- tells me that it is definitely time to reassign some of those little soldiers. I want to be more mindful of the need to reach back and out to people like Kayla who are important pieces of the tapestry of my life. I got Kayla's new email and invited her to Montana -- I hope she comes!!! And here is Kayla with Zoey -- aren't they both beautiful :)


Although we cannot be friends with everyone on the planet, the people who are placed in our paths are apparently there for a reason. I do not think it is a coincidence that Galen and Kayla were in the same place yesterday given the conversation that I had with Julie the day before, and I honor and respect the cosmic reminders that we get when we need them. My goal for the week is to tend a few more relationships that have been neglected during the past 18 months, and hope that I find them as warm and comforting as the one I have with Kayla.

Happy Valentine's Day -- let's all share the love with friends, new and old (silver and gold).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Visitors!

As you might imagine, we do not get too many visitors here at the end of our private lane but yesterday we did! Handsome Glitterati boy Murphy (aka Sutton) stopped by with Tom and Gail for a visit, and a lesson in carting. I sent them home (they also live in Montana) with the traveling cart, and they left me with some fun pictures to share :)

Here we have additional evidence that Zoey has pretty much sailed through her stranger danger phase. She is once again a bit of a pest with new people, demanding to be petted :)


Sydney had a lot of fun playing with her brother -- here she is just striking a pose so he can admire how beautiful she is...


And here is the aforementioned brother, Murphy


Syd and Murphy having a conference about how to best take down Zoey (Syd says: "by the tail").


Murphy took this cone out of my training building -- he did not think that Asia and Cadi really needed to be practicing figure eight's with it but that it would be better used as something to lure Zoey and Syd into a game of chase; it worked...


Cadi was a bit indifferent to her son, but enjoyed meeting his human parents again


And Gail was very popular armed with some of my freshly baked Fish Fudge


Murphy has that same great disposition that all the Glitterati have, as well as lovely bone and type -- it was great to see him and his parents :)

In other news, I had my last frozen bagel yesterday so that means I need to put, "make bagels" on my To Do list for today. This time I am making cinnamon raisin -- doesn't that sound like a great dinner?? Living alone has some real advantages -- you can have a bagel with cocoa and call it dinner :)

And in yet other news, we (me and the dogs) are heading to Utah on Friday to: 1) visit family, including Dear Husband; 2) compete in three days of agility with Cadi; 3) be included in the Sunday family dinner (for a change!); 4) attend Dear Husband's last end-of-season wrestling banquet (he coaches high school wrestling -- for another week); and, 5) more fun things to be determined.

I hope your weekend is going very well, and that all your visitors are welcomed ones!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowed In Bagels

Chris from Washington DC shares, "It's snowing like crazy here in DC so I tried the Berner bagels. Big success!! They turned out great - only problem was that some of them "unwound" during boiling. But still tasted good :-)"

Do we detect something new???!!! Poppy seed bagels????


And guess what Chris's berner is named??? Yep -- Poppy!


Excellent use of time when snowbound -- good job, Chris!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bagel Mania

Ready for more fun with bagels?! On Sunday evenings (without me) my family in Salt Lake City (without me) gets together for dinner (without me). They take turns cooking (without me), with Jake and Cassie hosting one Sunday (without me) and Tanner and Galen in charge of the next (without me); Kim's job is to show up (without me) and eat (also without me). Of course, since I am in Montana these dinners happen without me.

Last night was Jake and Cassie's turn, and I knew bagels were on the menu because I got a few calls from Jake with bagel making questions. Of course, I am not a bagel making expert but I have been a mom for a while and so I know how to fake it.

Jake and Cassie are both college students, and so live in University of Utah family housing, which is about 1/2 mile from our house in Salt Lake City :) Let me digress and brag a little -- both Jake and Cassie got perfect 4.0 GPA's last semester, Jake will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree and an Honors Certificate, and he has already been accepted into an outstanding dual masters program for next fall! (buttons bursting a little) Daughter Nicole just started grad school this semester, and Kim Jr. is off at law school -- quite a bunch of overachievers :) :)

Okay, back to the story -- so unlike Cindy's kitchen with the Wolf range/oven thing, or Cali's super modern kitchen, or Elizabethanne's kitchen complete with poodle assistants, Jake and Cassie have a student family housing kitchen, which -- according to Jake -- means it is outdated and small...and the worst?! No pets (I added that part)

Okay, so it does look as if four of these kitchens could fit in the corner of Cindy's kitchen but remember that Jake and Cassie just got married last June, and had seventeen or so showers, plus half of Salt Lake City at their reception and that means they have a... KITCHENAID!!!!

And they even know how to use it!!!


Like me, Jake is a fan of chocolate chip bagels and here they are -- Jake and Cassie's chocolate chips with a little bagel!


And (without me) here is a critical mass of my family (without me) having Sunday brunch for dinner (without me). Do you notice anyone missing??? (hint: me).


No berners, no poodles but they cleverly got in the spirit...


Bagels so easy and yummy even busy straight A college students can manage -- who's next?!