Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yea Maddie and Happy Halloween

Today was not Cadi's day for a TDX, and that is perfectly fine as it means we still have that great day to look forward to -- but it was Maddie's day!!! Congratulations to Barb and Maddie (from the F Litter) who earned Maddie's TD today in Washington -- we are so proud of you both :)

And we thank Maddie -- and CH Asia TDX, CD, DD, Zoey TD, and Lucy CDX -- for making Halo a new Top Producer of Working Titled Dogs! Imagine that -- Halo got an award today and she did not even have to leave home :)

Marti sent this fun picture of Maverick (C Litter) enjoying Halloween -- I think Marti is just earning a little extra cash giving rides to the neighborhood kids!

And here is Faith (F Litter) enjoying the Utah snow...

I hope your weekend was an excellent one, and that anything undone only reflects the promise of something wonderful yet to happen...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cheater, Cheater

Years of Catholic school is probably the reason I have an extremely overdeveloped sense of fairness and right/wrong - never mind the whole priest molestation stuff. Anyway, I know this about myself -- justice matters a lot to me. I absolutely HATE when people lie, cheat, and/or try to gain an advantage over others through unjust methods. Truthfully, it brings out the worst in me and I totally admit it.

I have always spent an excessive amount of time thinking. Dear Husband teases me about this, and friends are amazed that I drive hundreds of miles -- in silence. Well, it is noisy in my head but I like that -- I think ALL the time. I think about everything, analyze everything, consider the meaning of everything, and so on -- you get the idea.

And so I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about why it bothers me so much when I perceive cheating and/or dishonesty, and what the appropriate course of action is when one believes that cheating has occurred. I have found it best to think carefully before reacting -- I learned this by reacting too many times without thinking, which I do not recommend :)

To me, cheating is any behavior, action, etc. that deliberately seeks to circumvent a rule/norm in order to gain an advantage over others. In other words, cheating seeks to tip the balance of a level playing field, and place one in a better position than others.

It is that whole, "gaining an advantage over others" thing that pushes my big, giant, red, flashing button. For example, when that person passed cars and tried to cut in at the beginning of the line at the George Washington Bridge -- instead of waiting his turn like the rest of us -- I was incensed and truly would have let him smash my car before I would have let him cut in front of me (we were going slow and I have insurance). Is that normal? I don't know -- but it is how I am.

Competition is a way to make ourselves better. It is not really about being superior to others as much as it is being better than we think we can be, and being better than we were. Competition promotes growth and excellence, and therefore we all benefit from competition -- if we think of it as a way to become better.

When competition becomes more about beating others than self-improvement, we risk losing our moral compass. And when competition becomes about being #1 -- well, we risk not only that moral compass but our integrity as well. When winning becomes our goal, it is too easy to justify that any method to achieve the goal is acceptable -- and it isn't.

I (grudgingly) admire people who can feel sorry for cheaters -- yes, I know they are sad, small people who need their achievements for self-worth and blah blah. But really, while I can think that whole line of reasoning, my heart does not agree and is enraged that we are reinforcing cheaters by allowing them to get away with their cheating ways.

Then my head says, "just have faith -- no good comes from cheating and that person will get what s/he deserves." My heart grumbles a bit about this as it *does* make some sense... and then that part of me that will crash before I let someone cut in front of me starts chattering head is a noisy place lately.

And there are multiple levels to this ongoing discussion inside of me -- what to do when one is aware of cheating, how to relate to lying/cheating friends, what it means about me that I am so upset about it, and so on... I have no real answers actually -- just lots of internal conversations.

I have said before -- my inclination when dealing with people who are trying to gain advantage over others is to quickly and aggressively put them in their place. I am not sure I am proud of this quality about myself, but I know it exists -- and self-awareness is a very important means of doing damage control since we cannot manage ourselves if we do not know ourselves.

Because I also recognize that I do not have the corner on truth, and because I know I have a tendency to react strongly in the face of what I perceive as injustice, I am frozen into inactivity (except in my head) by an awareness/perception of cheating that will result in someone having an advantage -- over me. Torn between my natural inclination to go for the throat (so to speak) -- and my relationship with the person -- I am involved in an internal war of principles, values, and so on -- this is why I cannot possibly listen to the radio when driving...

Can one be friends with people whose moral compass consistently points to, "Best for ME" at the expense of others? What is the correct and appropriate response to knowledge of a rule violation, especially if there is every reason to believe no consequences will take place? Why am I so bothered by other people's lack of integrity?? Why can't I just trust Karma (not the cat -- she is not trustworthy and you can ask Chippy about that!)??? Ugh... Self-awareness sucks sometimes...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

MacNews, 1(2)

This is not a picture of Mac, but it is a funny one of Asia wondering, "where is my mom" when we were visiting my daughter's house last Saturday -- this is the window OVER her kitchen sink, with Asia on her hind legs looking in from the backyard!

It is hard to get pictures and train a dog so I am sorry that I do not have photos to go with the updates -- I will try for a video this weekend.

Montana Mac is doing VERY well -- he LOVES to train! Let me give you an example of how much he loves to train -- today I was working off leash with Mac in the yard. Zoey and Asia were on the other side of the fence barking at him, and I said his name to (hopefully) have him come to me. Hmmm.... two cute girls, one sort of in season (they have still not met) or the person with the newly baked peanut butter treats and fun ideas -- what is a boy to do?!

Montana Mac did not even hesitate -- he ignored the girls and came right to me (and the very yummy treats)!!! Isn't that amazing???

In draft news, Montana Mac is now walking with the cart behind him and with me holding the cart as if hitched to him. A light bulb went off a couple of days ago and his hesitation about the cart behind him just sort of disappeared. I suspect I will be hitching him up sooner than I expected -- maybe in a week or so.

I just do short straight lines, with the shafts gently bumping him to help him get used to that whole experience. I also have him sit when we stop -- so he is sitting between the shafts and with the cart behind him, which is excellent practice for what a dog needs to do in a draft test (as opposed to running out from between the shafts when we stop, which is what most beginner dogs will do at first). So draft is going very well!!

Montana Mac loves agility!!! We have been working on handling, which means we are running little sequences without jump bars up. Remember -- it is very important to break training down into small units so if we want to work on jumping, we do not work on handling and vice versa. However, today we advanced to baby steps of handling with the jumps at 20 inches, and he was excellent! He thinks agility is the most fun ever! However, he is still not so sure about that teeter but has advanced to putting his paw on the (very low) board to pull it down and make a bang -- excellent progress :) Rome wasn't built in a day!

Montana Mac and I have agreed on our cues for "stay" and also a release word, and so he is doing a great job with those things. Again, baby steps -- he sleeps in his own room (right next to me and the girls) and so what I do to make it fun to go to bed, and also to get a little training in, is to practice a stay with yummy treats when we go in the room. So we go to his room and close the door, and then we practice just a quick sit or down stay. I do this kind of "speed training" a lot -- training does not have to be a big formal session and really -- it shouldn't :)

We continue to work on attention, which is the foundation for everything else. Montana Mac is very handler focused -- he likes to pay attention to what I am doing, and this is something I reinforce. Remember -- ignoring a dog who is doing something right is asking that good behavior to go away (extinction). And making a fuss about "bad" behavior is a great way to make sure it continues (reinforcement)!

Mrs. Maize tries to go to work with me on Thursday so she can have a fun outing doing what Maize does best -- leaning on people and giving unconditional positive regard :) The students -- many of whom left family dogs at home -- love her! One volunteered to walk her on Thursdays so today was the first walk -- apparently Maize was fine around campus but when the student tried to take her on the bike path, she dug her paws in and would not budge -- I found them in the student lounge where Maize was holding Court :)

The student described Maize as being so sweet but stubborn. What an excellent opportunity this is to point out the power of language. If we believe a dog is stubborn, we will feel/behave in ways that are appropriate for a stubborn dog. However, if we (correctly) see a dog as knowing her own mind or persistent, we will feel/act very differently about that dog.

A stubborn dog is not a positive thing -- it does not evoke positive feelings and it sets up a contest of will. A persistent dog is a smart dog, worthy of admiration :)

Words are powerful -- the words we use -- with the thoughts they engender -- create our feelings and our realities. And the best part is that all of this is within our control. I choose never to see a dog as "stubborn" or "bad" (except Halo deVil, who is slightly devilish in a cute and amazing way) because I do not want to feel the feelings that come with those labels, and I do not find those words helpful in training.

I know Maize can be a little mulish (a very cute word/image) but I choose to see it as simply her right to convey that I have not been clear enough with my expectations, my reinforcements, whatever. A dog that is not doing what I want does not deserve an unflattering label -- s/he deserves a better trainer!

Back to Montana Mac (aka Macaroon) -- by focusing on what he is doing well, we are getting better. And rather than freaking out about areas that need extra work (teeter), I simply break it down to such a small piece that he can have success and get that coveted cookie/praise :) This is how I train all my dogs -- it is a constant process of assessing, training, more assessing, more training -- and no mean labels that result in negative feelings/experiences!!!

In other fun news, Sunday is Kaibab Tracking Day -- Barb/Maddie will be in a TD test in Washington (GOOD LUCK!!!) and Cadi/me will be in a TDX test near Spokane (YEA!) so think good thoughts for us :)

I hope that you are having an excellent week -- fall is such a wonderful time of year with lovely colors -- unless you are in Utah where they are trying to have a White Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Day!

Today is Dear Husband's LAST day of work!!!! After 25 (!) years in law enforcement, he is retiring :) :)

Dear Husband has worked in a variety of roles including in the schools, as a SWAT Operator, and a Supervisor. He has a Masters Degree in Social Work, and used this in his role as a Crisis Intervention Team Member/Instructor, helping other officers understand how to best meet the needs of people with mental illness involved with law enforcement.

Always a Good Cop, proud of his long record of not giving tickets to people (they learn more when you just talk to them, he says -- I say give the tickets!), and just a kind, respectful "tough" guy -- Dear Husband has had a career that is worthy of pride and recognition.

Dear Husband has worked very hard for a very long time, and will now enjoy life as a Kept Man (that is what he says anyway ;). His first big retirement plan -- finish his flying lessons and buy a plane!

Happy Retirement Dear Husband!!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wanna get Hungry in a Hurry?!

Read first:

And then see Cali/Kate's version:


Sunday, October 24, 2010

RIP Blondie

Sadly I discovered that the chocolate colored bear cub was hit and killed on the road. I stopped and petted her, and took her picture -- it seems important to note her passing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MacNews, 1(1)

Here is the greatly anticipated debut edition of MacNews! This special sub-blog (is that a real word?) will detail Montana Mac's adventures in training during the months he is here with us.

Montana Mac's official name is Grand Champion GlenMegan's Flanders Fire. He and Asia are almost the exact same age, with birthdays just two days apart; they were three in July. Montana Mac normally lives in Connecticut with his mom, unless he is off showing with his breed ring handler, Michelle (Ostermiller) Scott.

I am always watching show results and started seeing this dog getting group placements, and I checked out his pedigree and liked it so I wrote to his mom, Megan, to congratulate her -- even though I did not know her (I am a friendly sort of person :). So I kept my eye on what he was doing, and was very thrilled when he got his Award of Merit at Westminster this year -- at just 2.5 years!

So one thing led to another -- his mom told me how smart he was and I said she should send him to me to get some working titles and then she heard I was driving east and knew a sign when she saw one so that is how it happened that a dog I never met before is now sleeping on the floor as I type this!

Will he share a room with one of the Kaibab girls?! Well, he would like to share a room with Zoey right now -- and she thinks that might be quite fun! But no room sharing is happening at this time -- and definitely not with Zoey. Montana Mac is a lovely boy with a great temperament and is quite smart -- his "fault" is that he is not a big boy so he and Zoey would not be a good match, since she is not a big girl (plus they would produce kangaroos).

You might be thinking to yourself, "hmmm.... but Cadi is a big girl..." Yes indeed -- she has the size to share a room with Montana Mac. The Glitterati will be two next month (can you believe it?!) and we will check orthopedics and if things look good, I would say that there is a good chance that we will have a January or February wedding here in Montana, complete with room sharing...

But Montana Mac has much to do before he can share a room with anyone! The goal is to make Montana Mac a BMDCA Versatility Dog and BMDCA Working Dog -- so how are we going to do this?

We have to do draft, of course, since that is a required component of the Versatility Dog award -- and my plan is for him to also work on a Tracking Dog title, agility titles, and probably a CD (obedience) -- but that is the lowest priority since it is not really needed given the others.

I have been planning this for months, and we got right to work. The foundation skill for most working events is attention -- nothing can happen with a dog that is not paying attention. And so I immediately started reinforcing Montana Mac for looking at me -- he looks in my direction and gets a treat.

Today I walked around the yard, saying nothing, and clicked/treated as he followed me around and looked at me. I added quick turns -- click/treat as he followed/looked. Once he went off to sniff (probably where Zoey left a pee-mail) and I said nothing -- I just walked on -- and when he caught up and looked at me I clicked/treated.

Paying attention is the dog's job -- I will not beg, plead, or even ask for it. If he pays attention, he gets reinforced and if he doesn't he gets nothing -- remember that the best way to extinguish a behavior is to ignore it.

I set it up so the dog will find it easy to pay attention (i.e., no distractions at first), and I reinforce at a VERY high rate so it is extremely rewarding for the dog. All he has to do is look at me to get a click/treat -- or if I am moving he just needs to be with me and check in by looking at me. Dogs catch on to this very quickly, and of course I use good treats and vary the treats to help keep it interesting.

So that is the first thing that we are working on -- attention. Consider a draft test -- I must have a dog who is responsive, and that means the dog has to be paying attention to me and not everything else. In agility I must have a dog who is with me, and responding to my cues -- this also requires attention. And obedience is nothing without an attentive and responsive dog.

At this time, we are only working in the yard or arena where it is easy for him -- we will not make it more difficult until the behavior is solid. And once he understand his job, if he ignores me and were to go do something else, the training session would stop -- I will not allow a dog to rehearse behavior I do not want to experience in the ring. And again, I will not remind the dog what his job is -- it is his responsibility to be attentive and responsive to me.

There are other foundation skills that we are working on -- I regularly call him to me with a "here" and strongly reinforce that. A good recall is critical, but I never teach it from a "sit" but rather get the fast "here" behavior on cue before ever combining it with a stay. Also, I never call him if I suspect he might not come - so when I know he will come and I have excellent treats, I call him, give the treat, and let him go about his business again. I do this in the yard and on walks.

In addition to attention and the beginning of a strong recall, we are working on "stay". This means I have him sit next to me and I click/treat rapidly and then release him. I am asking only for a few seconds and of course there are no distractions and I do not add distance. I have had very good success with stay because I train it VERY slowly and in tiny steps but know it takes time and that is why it is something we have started right away.

Montana Mac has also had introductions to draft and agility. He is now walking between the shafts of a cart while being clicked/treated. He is not a hitch/go dog (only some are) so I have to create a happy association with the cart (using food and no force), which we are already doing nicely. I can now bump his sides with the shafts and he is fine -- I will not hitch him up for a few weeks because again, one has to train in the smallest increments possible, but he is doing quite well in advancing through the baby steps of draft.

He had some intro to agility already and so easily jumps 20 inches, which will be his jump height. He loves the tunnel and today did three obstacles in a sequence -- jump, tunnel, jump :) We will go slowly on the contact equipment -- the teeter noise startles him so I had Cadi show him the Bang Game -- the dog jumps up with her front paws and pulls the teeter end down to make a bang, and gets a treat for doing it. The bang becomes like a click -- it always gets a cookie. Montana Mac is already more comfortable with the noise -- again, one must train in tiny baby steps and never push a dog more than he can handle.

Montana Mac has lovely house manners already, and is easy to have around. The girls growl at him if he gets in their space and he listens to that very well and backs off. Karma likes him quite well, and is happy that he shows no inclination to chase her so she said he can stay.

It is hard to get pictures of a dog you are reinforcing to stay close but here are a few...

I keep one of the carts in the yard so I can practice a lot -- Syd is also doing the intro to draft training and they are competing to see who is better :) This is Mac responding to "here"...

A head shot of Montana Mac, who clearly needs his ears trimmed!

This is Asia telling Montana Mac to back off or kiss his face good-bye ;)

And here is Galen with Syd in his lap and Montana Mac hanging out with them...

You can see pictures of a younger Montana Mac and read the hilarious story of his creation (scroll to the bottom) at:

I look forward to your ideas, comments, and questions about the Excellent MacVenture and MacNews!

My Wish Came True!!!!!!

I had to race home to see if it was true -- and it is! I have a family of bears!!!! Galen scared them into a tree when he went outside -- they are just outside our fenced yard -- three cubs and their mom!!!!! I am working on names, of course! And of course I had to get the camera and take pictures of my new friends :)

This first picture shows you the tree where they are hanging out -- this is our yard where I usually take my pictures...

And now my friends :)

I am in love!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday B Litter!

Today our B Litter is EIGHT years young -- eight of the ten from that litter are celebrating this birthday today, including our very own Halo...

Happy Birthday to all of the B Litter dogs!!!

MacNews is in progress -- delayed due to Birthday :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good Things

There really are things about the east that I like!! For example, I love the history, the fall colors, Rhode Island, the ocean, all the excellent places to eat, and the amazing little country roads/communities -- and the berner people :)

It may surprise you to learn that I even have eastern roots -- my grandmother was born and raised on an estate in New Rochelle, NY and my dad was born in Princeton, NJ where my grandfather was chair of the history department at the university there. My aunt lives in New York and my uncle is in Washington DC -- and he is as nice as those excellent DC park rangers :)

I just really prefer the uncrowded west (i.e., NOT southern CA ;) and especially my adopted home -- Montana. I told Dear Husband that the reason we do not have toll roads in Montana is because it would not be worth it to collect money from the four cars per hour that travel on the interstate ;)

Tomorrow I will post the first edition of MacNews -- a discussion of the training plan and answer to the question about shared rooms (which made me seriously laugh!). But today I wanted to share this picture of Cadi -- it is from when I showed her that one day as a Special and she won Breed and made the final six in Group...

Excellent news about Zoey's half-sister clearing orthopedics -- we like to hear that!!!

I certainly hope all your news is excellent :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Observations, Thoughts, Pictures

Random Thoughts from our trip:

Washington DC Metro Drivers -- Speak Distinctly!!!!

Washington DC citizens -- those round barrel things are called garbage cans -- use them.

Toll Booth Collectors -- it is bad manners to ignore the cheerful person handing you money and saying hello. I observed that the farther east one goes, the more the toll collectors need to attend Manners School.

Park Rangers in DC -- Should be Manner Mentors for Toll Booth Collectors.

Toll Roads -- SERIOUSLY?! $13+ to drive across Pennsylvania?! You should be paying us! From now on, all people from states with toll roads will need to send $$$ to me when they drive across our western states where there are no toll roads -- but if there were, it would at least be worth the money!

New York City -- WHY?! People are not meant to live like sardines -- it makes them crazy. Enough said.

Eastern Drivers -- those signs with the numbers??? Those are called "Speed Limits" and it works like this -- match the number on the sign with that thing called a "Speedometer" in your car -- the number on the sign and the number on your speedometer should roughly match.

Rude People on the George Washington Bridge -- Trying to cut in after you raced to the front of the line, passing those of us who waited our turn -- very bad karma not to mention bad manners. Thank you for not hitting me when I refused to let you in -- I do not believe in reinforcing bad behavior. I hope you are still sitting there.

Eastern Drivers -- Tailgating is dangerous. Flipping people off is childish. You all need to take a Chill Pill and relax.

New England Fall Colors -- LOVELY!!!!

On Thursday we left DC in a massive rain storm and drove to Connecticut. On Friday morning we drove to lovely and polite Rhode Island where we had a great lunch with friends, and then we met more friends at the draft test site -- this is a picture of Milo (Maize x Zack) -- he begs as much as his mom! (the camera started working again for no apparent reason!!!)

After a fast hi/bye, we went back to Connecticut to Montana Mac's country estate. His mom fed us a wonderful dinner and then we were loaded up and on our way.

We left Colebrook, CT at about 9:30 pm and drove west, arriving home in Montana after about 41 hours in the van.

We stopped halfway in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where I spent three years in my first academic position -- I have not been back in 14 years since I left and it was a bittersweet visit as I really loved it there. We walked Mac on the river trail where I used to walk my first berner, Emma, and where 6 year old Galen liked to play...

Montana Mac was an excellent traveler and is now getting acquainted with his harem -- here he is with Cadi...

Just Montana Mac...

Dear Husband just went to the store -- even though it is close, I declined getting back in the car!

Hope your weekend has been a fun one!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dreadful News! Dreadful Place! Dreadful Manners!

My camera is broken!!!!!! Woe is me!!!!!!!!!!!!

And WHY would anyone want to live in New York City? And why are there so many rude people out here?????????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is my from Someplace, Connecticut...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From D.C.

Here is a summary of the first two days: drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive drive -- I suspect you get the idea. We did stop and have breakfast with Carol in Iowa City and that was fun and then we did more of the above, arriving in Alexandria, Virgina at about 3:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

Instead of staying at the cushy conference hotel, we had a room reserved at a Red Roof Inn because they allow dogs and we were *supposed* to have Zoey -- so we are here at a rather second rate motel but without a dog...sigh...

So after a few hours of sleep on Tuesday morning I was on the metro and off to the conference while Kim spent the day sleeping and Zoey spent the day back in Montana (sigh). Joan and I did our presentation and it went well, and then it was back to the lovely Red Roof Inn.

Today (Wednesday) Kim and I did some sight seeing before heading back to the conference where I presented again, and that also went well. Tomorrow we will go to one more tourist thing before heading north with no particular destination in mind.

On Friday we will visit friends and then go to Connecticut where we will pick up Montana Mac, and then it is back to Montana.

Last night my neighbor in Montana called and told me that we have a bear wandering about - I was SO excited!!!!!! I hope he sticks around long enough so I can see him and figure out what his name is!!! However, Galen is not so excited to meet our new friend and I suspect will not leave the house until we get home :)

Some pictures to share...

From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial...

One of Chippy's city cousins...

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Joan and I

A nice quote from The House of the Temple (a Masonic building)...

Kim practicing being Royalty...

I hope you are having a most excellent week!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Best Laid Plans

Me and Zoey from my phone on a happier day...

I have not yet been able to speak this -- I arrived home from Helena yesterday to find Zoey in season :( No draft test, no trip for her :(

I know there are worse things but right now this one is a very big disappointment. We will not take any dogs on this trip and cut it short by a couple of days. Montana Mac will not have the company of a lovely girl on his ride west -- only boring us...

And now I know what Syd was telling Karma:

Syd: Don't tell anyone but I devised a plan!
Karma: What? Do tell!
Syd: I came in season two weeks ago -- just to bring Zoey in! That will teach your servant to plan a trip without me!!!
Karma: Wow! You are a bitch, aren't you??!!!

Sigh. Dear Husband and Galen arrive from Utah soon and then Dear Husband and I will be on our way -- dog-less :(

Hmmm... last draft test of the season is mid-November in California...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kind of Boring! But Cute Pictures :)

Although I have perfect pictures, I have lost all illusions of cleverness and humor and must require that Dear Reader use his/her imagination since mine is seriously lacking this week! For some unknown reason, Sydney is obsessed with Karma tonight -- see for yourself:

The reason I am imagination-deficient is because I am in a whirlwind of activity -- much of it mental -- as we get ready for the Big Adventure. The thing is that when conferences are like nine months away, they sound fun! So last January I submitted two proposals to an international conference (one with Rainey Toronto's mom, Joan) and just my luck -- they both got accepted!

Again, when something is far away in the future it all sounds easy but when one is analyzing data and blah blah academic stuff to get ready -- sigh...

And on top of that, next week is when all my materials are due for my evaluation at work -- and I am going up for a promotion and so I have to write 3,000,000 pages about how great I am -- and I am not great at saying how great I am...

Okay, so I am trying to write the 3,000,000 page volume titled "I am Great -- Promote Me", with the 5,000,000 pages of supporting documents/appendices PLUS get the presentations ready PLUS keep training Air Zoey for the draft test (test in 1.5 weeks) PLUS keep up TDX tracking with Cadi (tests coming up) PLUS etc. and etc. PLUS have all my classes online for next week since I will be gone -- and this all has to be done by this weekend... sigh....

This is all simply to explain why I lack cleverness, humor, and imagination! Oh, and did I mention that I wrote an article for the Alpenhorn?! I squeezed that in on Sunday morning -- you should see my daily lists! Thank goodness for lists!!!

Assuming I survive the next few days and get everything done, here is what is happening -- Saturday I am going to Helena with Cadi and Halo to do agility. Sunday morning Dear Husband arrives and we head east with Zoey; Galen will stay with the other five dogs.

Dear Husband will drive during the night and I will drive the rest of the time -- don't worry -- we are good at this! Monday morning we will meet up with Carol and Brighton at a dog park in Iowa City. By Monday night we will be in Alexandria, Virginia.

I wish I could see everyone I know out there but I just can't :( I am attending the conference and giving one talk on Tuesday and another on Wednesday. On Thursday we head north, visiting (I hope) my aunt in New York and seeing fall colors and so on.

Friday afternoon will find us practicing at the draft test site in Rhode Island, and hooking up with friends; we are grateful to have been invited to join a big berner slumber party for the weekend :)

IF Zoey does not come in season (everything crossed), we will compete on Saturday and Sunday and then head west, stopping to pick up Montana Mac and visit his new nieces and nephews (and his White House and his famous mom who sings laundry commercials -- or something like that ;)

I am, of course, worried about Zoey in the draft test -- not a great picture but it gives you an idea of why I might be worried:

But we have diligently been practicing and more importantly, I will take the Lucky Hanukkah Socks and I just added lovely trim to her harness.... know the motto: Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good! I need to get bows for her ears and we should be set! Anything could happen with that wild girl but at least we will be fashionable! And if they have a prize for farthest from home -- well, we should win that one handily!

Whew! I am tired already and haven't even left!!!

As I was typing this I got an email from Barb, Zaida Jamaica's mom -- she shares:

"A couple days ago I was making an exciting Lean Cuisine for lunch in the microwave. I also got out a little plastic cup of prepacked mandarin oranges for dessert. I left it on the cupboard(far back) while I ran out to get the mail. I was walking back up the driveway when I saw Zaida on the deck with the box from my Lean Cuisne. I went out there and took it away from her. UNH-UHN you know you aren't supposed to take things off the counter.. She looked contrite and followed me inside. I took out the TV dinner
and no oranges!! I went back out on the deck and searched for them-they weren't
in her rat's nest(dog bed) or under the deck or in the yard.. I went back in the
house and looked around under the kitchen cupboard, table, etc. Then I looked at
Zaida who had been following me around and said" what did you do with my

She went out through the dog door came back in and proudly dropped the container
at my feet. Since it only had one tiny tooth hole in the plastic lid I called
it good and ate them :)"

Now I see where all my cleverness and humor went -- to Colorado ;)

Hope you are having an excellent week!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Let's Make a Difference!

In honor of the berners we love who have left our lives due to cancer, let's rock this fundraiser -- buy a tee shirt to help fight berner cancer.

And if you need more incentive, Sydney is under the last "e" and her littermate, Rainey Toronto, is next to her :)

This website has ordering info:

On your mark, get set, go order!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chatting it Up Here

It has been a chatty morning around here with everyone buzzing about recent news! Here is how it went:

Karma: You are not my BFF anymore since you said mean things about George but I will forgive you if you apologize.
Cadi: Whatever -- sorry...
Karma: That was not very sincere. But I will pretend it was and tell you what Chippy told me...
Cadi: CHIPPY?! The one you tried to kill on mom's bed?! That Chippy???
Karma: How am I supposed to know?! They all look alike -- kind of like you and the rest of your kind. Do you want to hear what Chippy said or not?
Cadi: Fine -- what did Chippy say?
Karma: I am not telling you because you are talking to me in a mean voice...

Karma: You are my real and true BFF!
Zoey: Really?? That is very exciting! Is it because we like to sit on the kitchen table together? Or because I have hips and elbows?
Karma: Everyone has hips and elbows!!! No, it is because you are nice -- and so I will tell you what Chippy told me.
Zoey: How exciting!!!!!

Karma: Be quiet and listen... Apparently Chippy was on his stump and heard my servant talking -- you need to pull your cart with all four feet on the ground!!!!! She is worried that you will try and be a snowdeer or something like that and fly while you pull the cart.
Zoey: That sounds very exciting!!!!!
Karma: You think everything is exciting but pay attention -- she is worried about you ruining it when she streaks -- or something like that... Let me think.... no, there is a streak and she is thinking you might do something about the streak -- like ruin it -- and so you better not do that!!! Feet on the ground when you pull that dumb cart!!!!
Zoey: Okay, I will try hard.
Karma: And when you go to some island -- like Street Island or Avenue Island -- to pull your cart in some quiz (or something like that) you are also going to visit the white house where Montana Mac lives with his servant -- she is famous!
Zoey: Really?! How exciting!!!!!!!!
Karma: (sighs) Yes, but I am not sure why she is famous -- but Chippy thinks it involves singing while doing laundry -- she got some kind of award for that even -- like an Award of Mister -- only different.
Zoey: How exciting!!!!!!!
Karma: My servant says she is very, very nice and that we are all going to somehow be related -- but I am not exactly sure how that is going to happen and Chippy was a little vague on the details -- plus he had some nuts in his mouth so was hard to understand...
Zoey: Well, I think it is very exciting that she has a swimming pool and I hope that Montana Mac and I can swim in it together -- water is SO exciting!
Karma: You are weird. You and Montana Mac will have lots of time to get acquainted on the drive back from that far away land -- but don't forget what I said about the streak -- keep your feet on the ground and when she stays to "stay" it means don't move anything -- not even your newly certified hips and elbows!!!!! And FYI -- your feet stink...

Zoey could not wait to relay what she learned to her BBSFFE (Beloved Best Sister-Friend Foever and Ever)...

Asia: What do you mean that Karma said that George told Chippy that mom said you can be a snow deer for Christmas with your new friend, Montana Mac???!!! And how many times do I have to explain what STAY means to you????!!!!!

And in the backyard, Syd and Cadi were having a sad conversation...

Cadi: It is true, Sydney -- I am sorry.
Syd: How could he change his mind??? Doesn't he love me??? Why would he want to stay in stupid Utah to go to the university when he could come here and be near me???
Cadi: It will be okay -- he is coming to stay with us while the parents go on the Big Adventure and so maybe you can change his mind...

Hope your day is going extra special well!!!! Lovely weather here in Montana -- off to track with Cadi...

Friday, October 1, 2010


After it was clear on preliminary films that Asia would not clear elbows at age two, I checked some of her littermates and then repeated the breeding -- and after waiting for two years to know, today I found out that Zoey has clear hips and elbows -- happy dancing here!

What a BIG relief :)