Friday, October 12, 2012

Working Pia

Pia had a pretty big weekend last weekend, and I was hoping I'd have a chance to sit down and get it written out. My thanks to http://www.wooddogcrate.com for making this post possible.

Pia - 17 months

While farm-sitting for Julie last weekend I went over to Robin's to walk dogs and work Pia. One of the road-blocks I've had is that Pia needs a smaller space still, and she needs some fairly quiet and forgiving sheep. I've worked her very little, and she's still rocking a bit of the yeehaw. So, I loaded up some big woolies into Robin's round pen, and set about the business of trying to get Pia's attention.

We did three or four short sessions spaced out over several hours. The sheep were being fair, but she wasn't really learning from them, and didn't seem remotely concerned about fixing her messes. She was basically going back and forth between orbiting at 100 mph and then diving in for a little grab. Corrections weren't helpful, though speaking to her quietly seemed to help some. On one level she was trying to figure out what I wanted, but she just couldn't seem to get to that place.

I realized quickly as the sheep kept going from corner to corner that this situation was not a good one. Things were deteriorating.  I was getting frustrated.  Pia was getting frustrated. The sheep were not happy. I was not happy. I tried bringing in Linc, and I also tried tying him in one of the corners. It didn't seem to change the situation much.

Finally after a nice walk I decided to take the dogs back to Julie's and think about it for a while and come up with a new plan. I KNEW that if I could get into the sheep I could help her. I just had to figure out how to do that.  I hatched a new plan, and the new plan looked nothing like the old plan.

Nick
I took Nick with me, and took Pia into the smallest of Julie's pastures with her lambs that have been worked a decent bit. I'd say the space was roughly 3 to 4 times bigger than the round pen.  Maybe more. There were a few moments of yeehaw.  However, because Nick was there I was finally able to get into the sheep, and able to gently influence Pia at her problem spots - 10:00 and 2:00 quite specifically.  I tried to be as in the moment as possible and see her thinking about a dive so that I could put myself in the right place and speak to her.

I don't even know where Nick was, but suddenly everything came together.  Pia, for the first time, settled in behind the sheep and started walking them up.  She went to balance (first time) and started wearing the sheep to me.  She tucked in a few of the edges.

I almost cried right there in the field.  Ok, maybe I did a little. I think that Pia and I (because of Nick) were both able to get where we needed to be. In that moment the picture made sense to Pia.  From there I was able to lie Nick down, and Pia worked by herself.  It was good.  Really good. 

I love that moment. That first time when a dog actually settles in behind the sheep.  Poetry in motion.

Then because I love this photo, here is Linc:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Heavy Hearted

Last weekend I loaded up the doggers and headed up to farm-sit for Julie. I was almost to her place when I got the call that a good friend, Dan King, had passed away unexpectedly. I had to pull over and stop as my mind and heart were just stunned.  It has been very difficult to wrap my head around Dan being gone.

The moment I met Dan he instantly made me feel like he *saw* me, and not only that but accepted me and cared for me (and my dogs) exactly as I was. Dan was always ready with a cup of coffee in the mornings at a dog trial, or a glass of wine beside his camper upon arrival. There have been very few dog trials that I've been to where Dan wasn't there - and it won't be the same without him.  This world won't be the same without him. My heart aches for his family, and all of his friends. There have been a lot of amazing tributes to him all over the Internet, and every time I read one more I cry anew. It is touching to see that one life really can and has made a difference to so many others.

I don't have any photos of Dan that I took myself - however I have several photos that he took of me and my dogs, which I value. I will remember the weekend of the cherry pit spitting contest, and the first sushi sampling because of him. So many things to remember and I hope that his kind and accepting spirit will be something that the rest of us take away.

He saw the good in my dogs, the good in my runs (even when I didn't), and the good in other people. He was a model of how to welcome and encourage other people - and I hope I can learn more of that lesson and emulate it.

My heart is heavy, and I don't feel much like offering up anything funny (though there was this one rooster incident that involved me poking him with a leafy branch to try to dislodge him from his perch so that I could close the chicken-house door). I couldn't make the memorial, but I've been taking some time to reflect and mourn.

Godspeed, Dan, until we all meet again.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sheep In Car

I thought today would be a good day for a Nick and sheep post.  My thanks to www.dogbarkcollar.com for making this possible. 


This morning I loaded up a couple of dogs and headed down the road to pick up some sheep to take to the processor. No trailer? No truck? No problem! Why not just load them into your minivan?

Famous last words, spoken by me...

"Oh, don't worry.  We'll just pop em right on up in there. I don't think we'll even need to touch them."

Hah. Hahahahaha.

Most of the time sheep I've loaded up into trailers seem to prefer to just hop in (as opposed to using a ramp). Well, let me just enlighten you, world. They don't prefer to hop right up into minivans. Minivans with Ex-Pens are instruments of sheepy death.Clearly.

There was screeching halting at the hatch. There was much shoving and cajoling. I even gave them a bucket of corn in the pen. Corn was not the secret weapon I'd expected.

So I had Nick hold the sheep while I (one by one) with the help of the friend who owns the sheep, hoisted them up in there like sacks of very heavy potatoes. I guess the best way to describe it would be one foot at a time. They weren't terribly inclined to help, but we worked it out. The very nice newspaper and shavings bedding got all  mushed around, but it actually wound up serving it's purpose well (see photo).



That photo, by the way, was what I could see in my rear view mirror. Sheep staring at me through the holes in the crate. That particular wether was the sniffiest thing.

Go figure that once we got down to the processor they were not having ANY of the whole getting out of the van thing. Oh but no. "No, thank you," said the sheep. The little unloader dude, who incidentally weighed less than the sheep,  hopped up in there to shove them out. Then he and I and Nick pushed them along the walk of doom, up the ramp, and into their holding cell.

They were Not. Impressed. They did NOT want to go up that ramp.

Nick on the other hand had a ball. He got to do some work on a single - as once I had two in there, the single tried to break and run away. We cured him of that notion, but it took some time and some really good work from my dog and I. It didn't take all that long to get the sheep loaded, or unloaded once we were there. But it certainly wasn't the idyllic lovely pop em in pop em out sort of walk through the flowery meadow that I'd pictured in my mind.

When I got to the processor and starting unloading, this (really hot) guy pulled up behind me to unload two steers.  He got out and came over to see my set up.  With big eyes he looked at me and said, "How did you get them IN there?"  Not missing a beat I answered, "Oh, my dog brought them up and popped them right up in there."

What can I say.  He was cute and I saw no need to mention belly-flopping on the back of a sheep hanging off of the back of my minivan. By that point my cool hairdo had flopped like a wilty flower, and I am pretty sure I was covered in all kinds of things. I had to save SOME face.

I've had two showers today. My hands still smell like sheep.  I am happy.

Nick is happy (photo by Dan King).



Linc is less happy since I didn't get him out, but he'll get his chance over the weekend (photo by Robin French). 



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Old Dog" Vestibular Disease


This particular post is a little bit more about Ginger and "Old Dog" Vestibular disease. Special thanks to http://www.dogfencediy.com for making this post possible.

 

I've been thinking a lot about this, and many folks that I mention "Old Dog" Vestibular disease to seem to not really know what I'm talking about. That is, unless they've had a dog with it. At risk of repeating myself, I thought I might explain a little more about what's been going on.

The day Zippy went to the bridge I came home and noticed that Ginger seemed wobbly on the back end. It was so vague that I thought maybe she'd injured herself somehow. I even mentioned to Robin that I thought maybe her back or one of her legs was hurt. It would have been very easy to miss as it was very subtle.

That very next morning, however, Ginger was falling down on the floor. In some cases she'd actually fall and roll over several times (also referred to by some as gator rolling). Robin had mentioned the idea of it being vestibular related, so I immediately started reading up. The first clue? Her eyes. I took a look, and sure enough her eyes were tracking side to side - known as nystagmus. She was wobbling all over the place, and sometimes walked with her legs slightly splayed to the sides as if trying to get as low to the ground as possible. Her head was tilted to the side, too.

Days two and three she could barely stay on her feet. She (fortunately) was able to eat and also able to keep her food down, but she was clearly in trouble. Many dogs are unable to eat, or throw up what they do eat. I took her to our vet, and had a full blood panel and examination done. His diagnosis matched up with what I was thinking.

She was very slow to recover - in fact over the course of about 2 months she only recovered to about 90%, or what I call her new normal. Some of the things I've read suggest that most dogs recover fully, but some do not.

After having had a relapse at the end of June, I'm pleased to announce that she is actually back to better than her new normal. She's still wobbly sometimes, and seems to have the most issues when she is walking and tries to crane her neck around to see me behind her. She also seems to really struggle on uneven ground. When we're around ponds I have to watch her carefully - a few times she's almost fallen in (and Ginger does not believe in swimming, though she physically is able). She's able to jump back on the bed again without a spotter, though the ramp now lives next to the bed. She uses it as a spring board, and I'm OK with that.

There have been some things I've done to help her out a little. I do find that it's easier for the bigger dogs to knock her over now, so I've not been letting her stand on the porch and jockey for a spot with the bigger dogs. I put rubber backed (read that - won't slide around) area rugs on the linoleum floor in the kitchen, hooked her up with a ramp for the bed, and  made extra sure there weren't sharp corners/objects at Ginger height. Because she's not 100% steady on her feet it's a bit dicey sometimes.  I've also had to be very alert to not let her launch herself off of the bed in the mornings.

The scary thing about this is that often these symptoms come on like a freight train.  Many people think their dogs are having a stroke, and after seeing it I can understand why. I've even read heartbreaking stories of people having their dogs put to sleep for what may well have been vestibular related.  It's very, very scary.

 

Things to note if you suspect your dog is having a vestibular episode:

- It makes good sense to have a vet visit and blood work up.
- Ear infection is a possibility!
- Sometimes benadryl will help mitigate the symptoms just a little (it seemed to help Ginger).
- I shared my meclizine (for my vertigo) with Ginger per my vet's dosage instructions.
- Some vets suggest a round of prednisone.  Mine says the efficacy is debatable, but when she had the relapse we did a round just in case.
- pretty much the treatment is time - most cases resolve on their own

There is still some fear in my heart over the possibility of a brain lesion or tumor, but I keep reminding myself that we'll cross that bridge should we ever get to it. For now I'm just trying to keep enjoying every day I have with her, because it will never be long enough!

ps - Pia says "Hi Everyone!"

 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Weeble Wobble Ginger

I'm updating more for my benefit than anything - as I'd like to be sure that I keep track of this all for Ginger.

After my brief relief that Ginger's second vestibular episode was so short-lived, she had another episode starting this past Sunday, 7/29/2012. Same sort of deal - wobbly, eyes jerking, and so on. It appears that this time her eyes are jerking side to side, with a slight rotation to them (the rotation is... not a good sign).

My vet and I talked about Ginger when I went in to get Linc's stitches removed on Monday. He felt (and I agreed) that it might be a good idea to throw some drugs at it. So Ginger is having a course of prednisone, along with a course of antibiotics (in case of a deep seated inner ear infection).

Ginger is, as per usual, in good spirits. She's her normal spunky self, and that is a relief in itself.

It's been three days, and just yesterday afternoon she seemed to be showing some improvement. Her mouth/eye coordination has been off (this has not been an issue for her before) and her head tilt is now to the opposite side. She seems to be sort of rocking her head back and forth side to side some, though that is lessening. I get the impression that she feels like someone trying to get her sea legs.

My vet says that he's not thinking brain tumor at this point as he would expect brain tumor symptoms to NOT get better but to steadily go downhill. On the other hand, a friend with a dog who had a brain tumor tells me that her dog's symptoms came and went earlier on, and only went steadily downhill towards the end.

I think if she has another round I will go ahead and do the neuro consult. I'm not likely to go through with expensive testing and so on, but if it continues I would like for our neuro guy to at the least get his hands on her.

I'm trying to take some comfort in what my vet is telling me, but I'm not finding myself able to do that as well as I'd like. The one good thing is that she doesn't seem to be having any other symptoms, so I keep hoping that this is simply old dog vestibular stuff. I'm not ready to lose her yet.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ginger Update



When I got home from work Tuesday evening, Ginger was back to normal. Or rather, she was back to her new normal. She's only ever recovered about 90-95% from her first round with the vestibular stuff. So I call that her new normal. Tuesday evening if her eyes were tracking I couldn't see it. She was still the tiniest bit wobbly, but she's occasionally wobbly at times now anyway.

All of that being said, Tuesday night had I not seen what happened that morning I wouldn't have noticed anything off.

The real test came at bedtime. I knew that if she was back to normal she'd just get on the bed. If she wasn't back to normal she'd wait for a spotter. When I came into the bedroom she had already claimed her spot on the bed!

I'm still feeling rather cautious about it all. Here's why: according to my Vet (and Dr. Internet), the vertical nystagmus is often associated with neurological stuff like... brain tumors. We talked briefly about that, which of course sent my terror and dread into overdrive.

I'm going to try to just wait and cross that bridge if we get to it.

Also, for full disclosure, Linc's stitch had untied itself by the time I got home the other day. So I decided to just leave it alone, since that particular portion was already healing well. He gets his stitches out on Monday anyhow.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Worries

Yes, Ok, so I'm going to break my (3 months? How did THAT happen?) silence to dribble out a post on some of my dog worries. I feel like I'm going to pop, though, if I don't lay them down.

This morning Ginger seems to be having a relapse of her vestibular syndrome. I understand that relapses do occur, but the part concerning me is that her eyes are tracking differently this time from the last. First round her eyes tracked side to side, with a slight rotation. This time they're tracking up and down and she's blinking a lot. I don't know how normal THAT is. I'm going to watch her for the moment. She's in good spirits and having no issues eating, which is a good thing. She's not nearly as unsteady on her feet as she was in round one, but it may get worse. I worry mostly about the implications of the nystagmus.

I have this irrational fear after losing Zippy in April that I'm going to lose another one of my dogs this year.

I'm stressed because I have a 14 month old puppy that's not even started on sheep yet. I've had her out a few times but I haven't really started her yet. Part of me feels like I'm not doing her justice. I know that I WILL do her justice in time. It just frustrates me to be stuck in this place that I'm in.

That being said, though, I'm doing things for myself to get my financial house in order (which once done I'll be able to get my dog started, and hopefully get Linc finished!). I'm so tired of worrying about money, so while it makes things very tight for me in the short term I see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's a good thing! But it means my dogs are getting very little work (ie and Pia's not started yet). We have a set-out job coming up in a few months, and should do some farm-sitting in the fall. That'll help.

It frustrates me that the finals are going to be so close to home next year and I don't have the financial wherewithal to even *try* to get my dogs qualified (and with Nick in his prime).

A week ago I had a suspicious lump removed from Linc's wrist. It turned out to be a histiocytoma, which is good news indeed, so I can at least stop worrying about that part of things. I was a bit concerned as the incision was still oozing ever so slightly up until Saturday night, but only after going out to potty. The oozing has stopped though, thankfully, and the incision is looking good.

However, last night it appeared that one of his sutures had come... untied I guess, for lack of a better term. The incision looked good and closed in that spot, but because it's a high tension area I was concerned about losing it altogether and applying more tension on the spots that are already struggling to stay closed. So this morning before work I got out a flashlight and two pairs of tweezers and retied it. This was no easy feat, for sure. Lucky for me the vet left long ends so I could count stitches... and so I could retie, though I'm guessing she didn't exactly have that scenario in mind.

I'll be glad when Linc is able to get out of lock down. With his incision being near his wrist it's a very un-meaty place with a lot of tension, so he's on lockdown in the lampshade of doom. He's taking it mostly in stride though.

I suppose that's enough of this rambling pity/worry party. Those are the ones most on my mind. Maybe now I can let some of it go a little.

To add a little levity - this morning I ate my yogurt with a fork. Desperate times and all.

I'm reminded and comforted by the fact that the greatest gift I give my dogs is a good life and the opportunity to do things with me, and just BE with me.

If you even managed to make it this far without your eyes glazing over, cookie for you!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #15

Crooks and Crazies


...and she's back! Life has gotten slightly less hectic, so I'm taking TMT back starting today. So today's TMT is hosted by yours truly, The Pruninator.

As many of you already know, I had to let Zippy go to on April 9th. I'm still trying to work all of that out inside of my heart. I know it was the right thing for him, and I know equally for sure that it would never be the right time for me. It's never, ever going to be long enough.

Anyway, this week's questions (and I hope you guys will play!) are:

1. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you pop up out of bed full of song and happiness? Do you just hit your stride after dark?
2. What is your favorite candy?
3. What is your biggest driving pet peeve?
4. How do you prepare yourself and your dogs for summer?
5. Lets talk about grass in your dog yard. Do you have any? How much maintenance do you do?

My answers:

1. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you pop up out of bed full of song and happiness? Do you just hit your stride after dark?

I really don't want to speak to anyone until about 10am. That's about when I get going, and then I don't want to eat until about 10:30. Nevermind the fact that I've been up since 6:00 am and start chugging coffee not long after that.

Mostly I just hate people chirping at me in the mornings. Our receptionist here at work chirps at me every day and I want to claw her eyes out. One day she found out that I'm not a morning person and so now she chirps at me and then makes asinine comments about how she knows I'm not a morning person and therefore she'll keep her greeting quiet... and goes on and on until I want to choke her. I usually have visions of my vaulting over the front desk.

No. Not a morning person. The ex-hubs and I had an agreement about such things and didn't speak except to say "have a good day". It was an excellent arrangement.

On the other hand, I start turning into a pumpkin at about 9:00 pm or so. Sometimes I'm even good until 9:30. The way I see it, is I only have a few really good hours a day.

2. What is your favorite candy?

My favorite candy is a king-sized Mr. Goodbar. It has to be king-sized because I like the mouth-feel of the chunks. When I buy it at the store it cannot be broken, and then I break it up into little chunks and eat them one by one. I just don't want someone else fondling my candy. This started for me in college and I've never quite gotten over it.

My runner-up candy is the reese's eggs/trees/pumpkins/hearts that they have around holidays. They are smack-yer-mamma good.

3. What is your biggest driving pet peeve?

Nothing makes me want to go all road rage on someone like when they don't give a thank-you wave. What has happened to the thank-you wave? It infuriates me to slow down and let someone in, and what, they can't have common courtesy to wave their appreciation? It makes me want to tailgate them to their destination and MAKE them wave.

More coffee, please.

4. How do you prepare yourself and your dogs for summer?

Summers here are hot and humid, and I start trying to acclimate us as soon as the weather starts getting warmer. I try to let the temps in the house increase gradually be as warm in the house as I can stand it, so that when we go outside to work the dogs and I aren't in total shock. I take all of the winter gear out of the van (tarps, thick dog bedding, etc.) and make it as airy in there as possible. I make sure I have all of the shade screens are loaded up, and for certain situations I have enough crate fans to go around.

For myself I mostly just hide my head under the pillow and lament about how I miss winter. Nevermind the fact that in winter I hide my head under the pillow and lament about how I hate summer.

5. Lets talk about grass in your dog yard. Do you have any? How much maintenance do you do?

It seems like my grass area is decreasing each year, and the bare spots are increasing. I'm trying to figure out what to do about it. In the summer the weeds usually fill in, but I'd like to get more real grass out there because when winter gets here about 50% of my (very small) yard is dirt. The houses in my neighborhood are built on what is basically sand rock, so it's a challenge. I've picked up some Scotts' Eazy Seed and I'm thinking I might put an expen around one bare spot and then after it grows move around seeding and such until I'm happy. That sounds like a lot of work though. I'm just not sure how much effort I want to put into it.

So far my method has been to just ignore it. That doesn't seem to be working out all that well.

Here is your button thingie code:



Here is where you link up:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tell Me Thur... Tuesday

First let me say... blogger just forced this new format on me. Hate.
 
Secondly, it's time for another TMT hosted by Rockin' Ewe Stockdogs. I'd like to give a big shout out to Jaenne' and say thank you for taking this on for a few weeks. Since Jaenne' is starting a new job and my life is settling back down some I'll be taking Tell Me Thursday back starting... uh... the day after tomorrow! It'll be fun, so put your thinking caps on.
 
Here are last week's questions:
 
1) Given the current "state of things", I have been very lucky to get a job so quickly after becoming unemployed and to have other, even more attractable job possibilities pop up. So, give me at least one good thing that has happened recently - dog wise, non-dog wise or both!
 
One good thing is that I got a sweet deal and was able to refinance my house and save a lot of money. With the housing market as it is it does not look like I'll be selling any time soon, so figured I'd go ahead and do it. The other good news to it was that I only borrowed what I owed, so I didn't increase my mortgage by much. WOOT! Big thanks to Beth Chuck who got me to consider it.
 
In other good news... I finally bought myself a set of pruning shears, and last night just pruned my hiney off. I was a pruning fool. The Prunemeister. The Pruninator. Prunilicous. Trees everywhere fear my wrath. Muaaahahahahaha! What that really means is I can now mow the back corner of my yard without putting an eye out.
 
For some reason Pia found the pruning thing to be exciting. Nick thought it was scary, and went inside to hide.
 
2) How did you end up working in the field/profession that you are currently in?
 
Well, it was sort of accidental. I started out working as "summer help" in the billing office for the Radiology dept. at our hospital (one of them). My first job there was just shredding papers. Then I got to do more things, and over four years of summers and winters I got to learn many different jobs. When it came time to find a job in college I just looked for a light secretarial position, and it went from there. I never really intended to go the Executive Assistant route. I'm good at it - and I used to love what I do. Some days I still do.
 
I'd still like, some day, to go back and get my Master's and get licensed to counsel. That's really where my passion lies. Unfortunately life has gotten in the way, and it's not in the cards at the moment.
 
3) I got the typical "What are your hobbies?" question at this interview yesterday. What kind of response do you get when you tell people that you "train and trial dogs for (fill in the blank)"?
 
Oh goodness. I usually just hope they don't ask about hobbies. If they do I sort of hem and haw a little and try my best to put it into terms that make the most sense to laymen so to speak. I usually just leave it at "I do sheep herding with my dogs". Yes, the "herding" word rankles me, but it makes the most sense to people. Most of the time they just nod and go on. I try to just sort of glaze right past it - they can figure out my real deal later.
 
One time at an interview I struggled and squirmed as the person continued to question me. She even asked me how many dogs I had. Squirm. She had more border collies than I do, and also works sheep with them. It turned out that she hadn't trialed in a few years, but we knew some of the same people. THAT turned out to be a great interview. Too bad the job didn't pan out.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tell Me What Day This Is?

Yeah. Ok. Late to the party again. But in my defense... chaos abounds in my life lately. So this week's (last week's?) TMT is hosted by Rockin' Ewe Stockdogs.



1. One thing that you would totally redo (if you could) in regards to dog training?

Mmm. Listen to my instincts more for Linc. That's the best way I can explain it. There were some methods that I used earlier in his training that I wasn't comfortable with, and it's taken time to undo what was done. It's turned out OK, but I would do many things differently with him if I had it to do over with.

The main thing I'd do over is marry a nice farmer dude instead and have my own sheep. He could use them, of course. My sheep, I mean. I think a lot of things would be different for Linc if I had my own sheep. I plan to rectify this in the future. The sheep thing, not the farmer dude thing. Though I wouldn't turn down one of those either. Assuming it was the right person, obviously.

2. One thing that you enjoyed doing in the past that you no longer participate in (dog or non-dog related)?

Golf. I suxxors at it. Couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. But it was nice to ride around in the golf cart and wear the cute skirts. Go figure, since I don't like skirts in any other context.

3. Best dog and/or training books you’ve read (fiction or non)?

Maybe not the best, but my favorite and most useful book was the little pink book about training tiny dogs. Crud, I can't remember the name. Something about "Pint-Sized Companion". Hm. AWESOME resource. You know, cuz it SO helped me teach Zippy to not bite the ex-husband. NOT. Not not.

4. What is the best part of dog trialing for you?

I like getting to see the different dogs, and I love hanging and listening and chatting. I don't go for the bad stuff, but I like to hang with folks. I also like working. Work is good. Keeps me out of trouble.

The worst part for me is the part where I actually run my dog. Makes me want to barf. Every. Time.

Oh, and one more favorite part: HANDLER'S DINNER!! Woot!

I could do without the tent camping thing. I'm sort of over that now.

5. I totally have puppy fever (thanks to Robin and her adorable litter of Rhyme x Bill pups - I'm totally in love with Tib aka Mouse!) so please post an adorable puppy picture of one (or all!) of your dogs!

You asked for it. Puppy Linc photo by Julie Poudrier.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pia on Sheep - 11 months

I haven't worked Pia at all since January. I thought last weekend I'd give her a whirl to see where we were, see if it's time to start actually training. I was very pleased - and do think it's time to start a little with her. I think I'm going to like her a lot. Back in January she was a little sensitive, so other than speaking to her a little when she was thinking about diving in, I just let her work.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Zippy - Jan 1994 to April 2012



Today I made the very difficult decision to let Zippy go to the bridge. Run free Small Dog - you have been well and truly loved. Zip made many friends over the course of the 6-1/2 years he lived with me, and I felt blessed to have many adventures together. Adopting him at 11 years old I thought surely we might only have a year or two together. Little did I know it would be almost seven.





This photo here was taken on a walk with Julie. He did loves him some walkies. I will miss him something awful. I already do. Though blurry, this is my absolute favorite picture of him. It captures his essence:



Safe journeys, Smallness, until we meet again.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TMT - Just In Time



For the next few weeks (months) Tell Me Thursday will be hosted by Jaenne' over at Rockin' Ewe Stockdogs. Go take a look and join in!

This weeks questions:

1. Where were you born? Did you grow up there?
North Carolina, baby! I actually live now just a mere mile from where I grew up. Both of my grandmothers live within about a mile of my childhood home, and my mother is still there. It was a good place to grow up. I fed my brother rabbit turds. Good times.

2. How did you come to end up living where you are now?

I went to school for a while in South Carolina - Southern Wesleyan University. When I realized I needed a break I moved back up here. I took about 9 months to get on my feet, and once I was able I moved into this little rental house with my dog, Ginger. About 3 years later I bought my house... and now I'm stuck until the housing market gets better. Sigh.

The other part of the story is that I love my family. I not only love them, but I like them a lot too. It makes me happy to be near them, even when I don't see them that often.

3. What is the most unusual trick you have taught your dog? Or the most unusual animal you have taught tricks?

Um... well... I taught Nicky to play dead. Except his version of playing dead involves thrashing around on his back. Oh, and it doesn't really have a command yet. So I just stand there and eventually he remembers what I want, and does it. Ok, so maybe this doesn't count. - certainly it's not unusual.

I once taught a horse to stick his tongue out. Ok, I didn't really so much teach him that... he liked to have his tongue scratched so it didn't take much effort to get him to start doing it when I asked him to.

4. What is the most unusual food you enjoy?

Unusual... hm. My new found love for sushi grosses my family out. But all things considered I'm pretty plain jane when it comes to food.

5. I know this has been asked before, but I'm always looking for a great book to read so what was the last book you read? Did you like it? Would you recommend it?

I'm pretty much a bandwagon sort of reader. I'm not terribly adventurous and I prefer to read either books by my favorite authors, or books that seem to be popular. I finished The Hunger Games books in about 3 days a couple of weeks ago. I can't WAIT to see the movie. Right now I'm reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. It took me several chapters to get into it, and honestly I had some trouble following in the beginning. However, I've been watching the TV episodes on Amazon.com, and once I got a bigger picture from them I really got interested in the book. It is certainly worth a read. I would definitely recommend The Hunger Games.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Up Top



A couple of weeks ago we set sheep with Julie P up at Robin's trial at Shoofly Farm. I started documenting as we went but got distracted along the way. But I thought I'd share up to where I forgot to take pics anymore.

We loaded up early. We rolled out around 6:30... though we were up before 5am.



As per usual, I had my priorities in order. See above for portajohn, and below for coffee. Priorites. I has them.



Once we got there we put the girlz into the sorting system.



Then I would lay Nick down over to the side...



And push the sheep out myself.



That being said... both sheep and dog tend to take advantage when you have a camera in your face. That was the first set of the day, and that sheep that turned back on me would turn out to be a troublemaker All. Weekend. Long. For the most part, though, the sheep settled as the morning went on and I thought worked pretty nicely.

I didn't get any pictures of how we worked the sorting system. I would leave a gap in the crush gate just big enough for my dog to get through. The dog - Nick or Linc, or in Julie's case one of her dogs, would go into the big crush pen and lie down over to the side while I'd move sheep up through the system. Once I got to the back pen (which would then be empty) I would have the dog just quietly hold their side while I loaded the last sorting pen from the back. It was a very quiet and (I'd say 98%) hands free system.

Then we'd go drink more coffee.

We did a little pen work and did quite a bit of setting out. Here Nick and I stand waiting for our next packet for the novice classes:



It was a nice weekend. Linc really surprised me with his maturity and some finesse I hadn't realized he possessed. Excepting one minor incident (a ewe lamb wound up feet in the air - still not sure exactly how that happened) he was a quiet but firm presence in there and I liked it. Nick was his usual good self.

I always love the view from the top.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Looking for TMT?

If you're looking for Tell Me Thursday, please click HERE. Jaenne' has kindly agreed to host for a while so that I may take a wee break. Enjoy!

I do plan to play when I have time. Today, though, is not that day unfortunately.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Hiatus from TMT

Hi folks! I've concluded that with everything going on in my personal life I'm going to take a hiatus from hosting TMT. I may pick it back up again in a few months, but for now I need a break.

That being said, if someone else would like to take over hosting for a while just let me know. I can hook you up with how to do the link widget, and if you want a button I can help you navigate that as well.

So many things are going on in my personal life at the moment that I cannot seem to think straight, and time is so spare right now. Most of these things are Very. Good. Things. It just seems that I'm losing track of my days, and don't always have time to sit down and play hostess in the way that I'd like to.

Anyway, please leave me a comment or send me an email if you'd be interested in hosting while I take a LOA. In fact, if two or three would like to band together to host that works too. I'm open. Or we can pause until I get my act together again.

Either way I've really enjoyed getting to know everyone a little better!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #9

Crooks and Crazies


For a slight change of pace, this Thursday is a "Tell Me Thursday - Random Edition" sort of post. This is your permission to break out whatever random stuff you want to tell this week.

Also known as... I've been so crazy busy this week I almost forgot again.

So rather than Q&A this week I'd like to know whatever random tidbits you might have on your mind today.

Here are mine:

- The alarm clock woke me up this morning
- I haven't been asleep when the clock went off in so long I can't remember
- I didn't even wake up at all last night
- Yet again, that hasn't happened in a very long time
- I finally got the van all vacuumed out, and the crates are all in place
- 'Cuz I'll be up at Robin's trial this weekend working up top with Julie P
- and we need crates loaded to get there
- 'Cuz driving dogs places in a Camry is for the birds
- I'm really looking forward to it though
- 'Cuz working up top is my favorite thing to do - even moreso than running a dog
- If you're coming to the trial please come up and say hi!
- If you're not... you should. It's a fun trial.
- Nick managed to yank most of his tail hairs out the week before last
- He looks ridiculous
- I learned that when you put bitter stuff on tails sometimes it gets on your hands and somehow it ends up in your mouth. It is almost impossible to get that stuff off (or out of your mouth).
- it really is nasty... unless you're Nick, who happens to be certain it is a condiment
- If you're at the trial this weekend don't be hating on my dog's tail
- Even though he deserves it

SO. Random rattle away!

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Mountainous Mattresses and a Little Grease

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It must be time for another Friday Confessional with Mamarazzi! If you have anything to confess, just click on the photo above to get started.

I Confess...

When I got Bessie (aka the CrazyMobile) back I was so excited I ran over to her and hugged her hood. And the side door. And the driver's door. And the hood again.

I got grease on my uh... well... pieces parts.

I didn't care. I was just happy to have her back.

I Confess...

I really didn't think she'd make it through, but my brother is excellent in triage. Actually, he's just plain flat out amazing when it comes to mechanical things. I remember this one time, when we were kids, that he actually took apart my white noise machine, fixed it, and put it back together again. He was like... nine years old.

I Confess...

The two of us together used to make Stumpwater Stew. We fed it to the neighbor's kids.

There was this tree with a sunk-in stump (it had been two headed, and one head was cut off, leaving a sunken stump). When rainwater would collect in there we'd... well... add stuff to it and feed it to the other kids.

I Confess...

I still giggle when I think about some of the things my brother and I did together growing up. I love him a lot, whether he fixes my cars or not.

I'm glad he does. Fix my cars, that is.

I Confess...

I also got a new mattress this week. Last night in fact! This is my first EVER new mattress. It has been long overdue as my back has been hurting so bad I've not slept through the night in months.

Mom and I strapped it (and the box springs) to the top of the CrazyMobile and drove it home looking a little bit like "National Lampoon's Sam's Club Vacation".

I Confess...

This thing is a Mountain. I'm going to name it (clearly I like to name things - I even named a Food Baby this week. If you don't know what a food baby is, according to my sister it's when you eat so much you have a little food baby in your belly). I digress. I'll be taking name suggestions for the mattress.

I need a step-stool to get up on it.

I Confess...

I had to give Ginger a ramp to get up there. She kept trying to jump up on it, and kept falling off. Over and over. She wouldn't stop trying, so I had to help her out. She won't use the ramp as a ramp, but at least she's using it as a launching pad. I suppose that works. At almost fourteen (She'll be fourteen either March or April 23rd - I can never remember which) I don't argue with her much. Not that anyone ever argues with Ginger.

Finally, I confess that I kept waking up all night last night to be excited about how comfy I was and how good I was sleeping on my new mattress.

What can I say? This morning I woke up without back pain. That mattress is the bomb.com.

Whew. I feel better now.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #8

Crooks and Crazies


I don't know what happened last week. I was cruising right along and then suddenly it was Friday and I realized I'd gone AWOL! Very Twilight Zone-ey. I'll confess that it almost happened again today. Somehow my days are all running together. Anyway, I'm trying to get it back on the straight and narrow for today. Maybe not too narrow, though.

By the way... the CrazyMobile lives!!! My brother got her all fixed up and I have her back now. Whew. Looks like the Crazies are back in business. With all of the work he did to her I'm hoping I'll get another 150K miles out of her. Ok, maybe not. We'll see!

This week's questions (and please forgive because I'm sort of making this up as I go along):

1. What blogging tip would you give other dog-bloggers?
2. If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island and could take five things with you (aside from the clothes on your back), what would they be?
3. How much pain are you willing to endure in the name of physical appearance? Do you have painful things done to enhance beauty?
4. Speed limits... how fast do you drive? Do you drive Miss Daisy? Do you do the Indy 500 to work?
5. What trial (that you go to) is your favorite, and why?

Again with the coming back to answer as I have time.

1. What blogging tip would you give other dog-bloggers?

I'm going to break out two. The first would be to enable your email in your profile. Yes, you'll get some occasional spam. But you'll also get emails from people wanting you to do things like the Mr. Chewy review. Then you can pick and choose. In addition to that you'll also get emails back from other bloggers when you comment on their blogs (some will, some won't). I like to do that - email folks back when they comment.

The second would be... ditch word verification. Ugh. Hate.

Yeah, I know it inivtes more spam. Set up your blog to filter after a week. It works.

2. If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island and could take five things with you (aside from the clothes on your back), what would they be?

I've been reading The Hunger Games, and that got me to thinking if I was dropped into a place with no escape what things would I want. Here is my list:

- a knife
- matches
- something to hold water in
- bow and arrows
- Papa John's

What? It's my game, and I can have a Papa John's on my island if I want.

No?

Ok, last item... an herbology book. You know... poisonous plants and edible plants sort of thing. Once I learn what I need I can then use it for toilet paper.

3. How much pain are you willing to endure in the name of physical appearance? Do you have painful things done to enhance beauty?

Not very much. I get the brow waxed and that's so excruciating I can hardly stand it. Like Julie I've gone a little native lately... living alone in the winter means lots of extra insulation. I used to sell Mary Kay... and was hard pressed to wear it every day. Good products... bad me. Now my method is... lip gloss it and go.

4. Speed limits... how fast do you drive? Do you drive Miss Daisy? Do you do the Indy 500 to work?

The people in the slow lane pass me. No, not really, but I usually won't go more than 4 over. Except sometimes on the way to work I get all road-ragey and find myself in the middle of the speeder pack. Then I start to feel guilty... about the time I get off the highway, so no big.

5. What trial (that you go to) is your favorite, and why?

Whew. That's pretty hard to say. I'd say probably my favorite trial is any trial at Shoofly Farm... because my favorite thing to do is to work up at the top. I'd rather work than run a dog any day.

For trials that I run dogs at, probably so far my favorite is (like Julie's) Donald McCaig's Highland Occasional SDT. It's so beautiful there.

I sure do hate that Seclusival ended before I started trialing. But it was my first ever trial to attend, and seemed so magical to me then.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #7

Crooks and Crazies


Happy Almost-Friday everyone! Van update - looks like there's every possibility that she may be up and running again by Monday. I sure do hope so! It would be nice. I have a lot of stuff to do to help that happen though.

So, on to this week's questions:

1. Jorgen would like to know what skill would you like to have that you don't currently have?
2. If someone were going to play you in a movie, who do you think it would be?
3. Kelsey wants to know what is a quality that you admire in a dog but would never fit with you?
4. If you had just enough money to pay someone to do one chore for you, what would it be?
5. Are you a procrastinator, a doitnower (I made that word up), or something in between?

I'll try to get to answering as time permits today. So far it does not look good.

1. Jorgen would like to know what skill would you like to have that you don't currently have?

I would like to have a "doing the hair on the back of my head" skill. As it is now, when I do my hair I look smokin hot until you get to the back of my head. That's where it all falls apart. The front is all smooth and sleek... and the back looks like a cat's been licking my noggin. I'd also like the fixing my car skill.

Though I bet he meant dog related skill. I would like the whistling with my fingers skill. I've tried and tried - and though I can finally make a whistle it's pretty much just one tone. And it's pathetic and not very loud. Hm.

I'd also like to be able to read sheep better. I'm always amazed when Julie or Robin will refer to certain ewes as friends, and I don't notice it until after they mention it. I'd like to be quicker on the uptake there.

2. If someone were going to play you in a movie, who do you think it would be?

Hah. I made this up and now that I have to answer it I hate it. I'm going to go with Alyson Hannigan - she's played characters that are funny, quirky, occasionally a hair ditzy, but with emotional depth. Plus I think she's flat out adorable. One time... at band camp...



photo from www.wikimedia.org

3. Kelsey wants to know what is a quality that you admire in a dog but would never fit with you?

I really admire dogs that are balls-to-the-wall tough with tons of grit... but I know that *I* am too soft for them. It would make for a head banging relationship that I don't relish. But I always look on in wonder at these types of dogs.

4. If you had just enough money to pay someone to do one chore for you, what would it be?

Car maintenance. Hate. My method of car care is I get in... and I drive. If I could have one thing done for me, it would be car care. Just the worry about the "what ifs" is enough to put a tiny bit of stress in the back of my mind on a daily basis (even when my car is fine).

5. Are you a procrastinator, a doitnower (I made that word up), or something in between?

Most of the time I'm a doitnower. But there are a few things that I procrastinate on (car inspections anyone? See #4). Unfortunately, when I'm finished procrastinating I become a doitnower on the aforementioned procrastinated item. It's not pretty.



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #6

Crooks and Crazies


Yet again I'm sort of dragging myself over to blog today. Life has been seriously crazy this week. First, for a report on the van situation... all we know so far is that the head gaskets are definitely blown. We don't know yet about the heads or the block. I have my brother's SO's Camry, and I will be taking all six dogs in it this weekend to farm-sit. Oh yes, the Crazies go to the Circus. I'm actually having the shakes just thinking about it, but I think I have it all worked out.

This week's questions:

1. Robin wants to know what your ideal number of dogs is?
2. Lora wants to know if you find that your dogs are better or worse after time off from training?
3. What is your favorite power tool? What power tool do you wish you had?
4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
5. How many of your friends are not "dog people"?

Additionally, if you have questions you'd like to see posted and you don't play, or you don't usually link up, feel free to email me (my email is enabled on my profile).

... and my answers:

1. Robin wants to know what your ideal number of dogs is?

My ideal number usually ranges from two to four. It depends on the day and how frustrated I might be. My personal dog limit is six. I have six. When I'm out walking dogs in a public place with other people my dog limit is two.

Some friends and family think I don't have a dog limit, but I promise I do. Ultimately I'd like to get down to four. I think when the two that pass first go I'll not replace them. But I don't want to think about that today.

2. Lora wants to know if you find that your dogs are better or worse after time off from training?

This depends on the dog, and what I'm wanting to get out of the time off. For Linc, if I've been working him a lot he tends to get better with time off. Actually, both Nick and Linc tend to be latent learners, so giving them some time to think between times that they're worked (if I'm trying to train something) usually results in them "getting it". I've found with Linc that if I'm having issues with him usually time off makes him better.

With Nick I've found that time off makes him full of himself. Unless I'm LOOKING for him to be full of himself (when he was younger I DID want some more of that) the time off for him is... meh. It's not that bad, because it doesn't take much for me to get him back, but it could go either way for him.

3. What is your favorite power tool? What power tool do you wish you had?

I'm ashamed to admit this, but I don't own a power tool. Yeah, whatever. Does a weedeater count? I don't think so. I wish I had a cordless drill. I'm all the time thinking about things I could do with one of those. I'd also like a chainsaw on a stick. You know, so I could get it stuck again like that one time.

4. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a gymnastics coach. Or a choreographer. It was what I wanted as early as I can remember. Now I just want to be something else. Anything else than what I am today.

5. How many of your friends are not "dog people"?

Um... somewhere between very few and none. I don't have many friends that aren't dog people (and those would fall into the inactive friend category). Even most of my friends from work are dog people. I guess it's just a testament to the culture that surrounds the dog world in general. I think maybe it's just like how people with kids tend to be drawn together... I don't really have any friends with kids (that aren't dog people). That's not to say that I'm a dog snob, but most of my family doesn't get me... and most of them aren't dog people, even though many of them have dogs. If that makes sense.

Happy Friday tomorrow everyone!





Sunday, February 5, 2012

TMI Sunday (a Mad Spaghetti Goes Corporate Story)

In two years at my new job there is one thing in particular that has remained constant. That is, my boss and I don't do personal conversation, or more accurately my boss does not do personal conversation. We all know I do. Strangely, here lately he has begun to ask me personal questions.

It frightens me.

It is outside of the natural order of things.

Not that I mind. Not really. It just creeps me out a bit that he suddenly wants to have some sort of relationship. That being said, I'm proud of him for trying.

But on to my point. This past week I had an unfortunate go-round with some sort of intestinal bug. I emailed him that morning to say my tums was upset and that I'd be working from home when I could. My desk (which sits outside of his office door) is on the opposite back corner from the bathroom and no way was I going in to the office with the screamers.

At any rate, that next day he looks at me and says, "So what happened to you yesterday?"

Needless to say I was not only frustrated that my "I've got an upset stomach" explanation wasn't enough, but I also was shocked that he was making personal conversation. I've been known to talk rather freely anyway (broken filter anyone?) and... well... he asked. He doesn't know me well enough to know that if he doesn't want to know he ought not ask.

So I got to rolling. I was in rare form anyway, and once I got going there was no stopping. Next thing I knew I was telling him about how when I disappeared the other day it was because I had a case of the raging... er... Well, you know. Not in those exact words, of course. I went on about some of the various and sundry details of my gastronomical distress. Then (remember, faulty filter) I found myself telling him about how I'd told the two people who sit nearest to me that if they saw me running to just get out of the way.

"It was a real situation", I said.

At that point I realized that the little boy inside of him was cowering in the corners of his mind with his little hands over his ears. He was at that moment rocking himself and crying, "Mommy, please make her stop!"

I could actually FEEL him begging me, for the love of God woman, to stop. His eyes were as big as saucers and he was desperately looking around to see if there was somewhere he could go to get away from me. I think if he could have run he would have, but I stood between him and the door. I could smell the panic on him.

I couldn't help it. He had that skeptical look on his face. You know the one, right? The one they give when they think maybe you're not sick and are just playing hooky? That one. As a result I turned into "The Overexplainer".

Well, I don't ever call in sick if I'm not sick. It's this rule I have.

I'm reasonably sure that he believes me now. I am also equally certain that he won't be making any personal conversation with me any time soon. At least not until his little inner child has recovered from our last exchange, if he ever does.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #5

Crooks and Crazies


I'm a bit slow off the start line today... sorry for lack of in depth dog training questions. This is the best I've got today.

1. Julie would like to know one frugal tip this week.
2. What are you reading this week?
3. Barbara wants to know: do you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, and if so how many times?
4. If you had to travel in a sedan (or if you already drive a sedan type car) and you had five or six dogs, how would you handle it?
5. How much do you filter what you put on your own blog?

1. Julie would like to know one frugal tip this week.

When your car breaks down try to arrange it so that it happens right BEFORE you fill it up, instead of after you pump $68 worth of gas into it. If it's going to die a horrible death then you need to find someone who can siphon the gas out and put it into your new piece of junk car.

What? Not what you meant? Well. Frugal tip of the day: Stretch your coffee creamer out. I like flavored coffee creamers, and the powders are cheaper than the liquids. I buy the largest size of creamer, and then keep one small flavored one, plus one smaller empty bottle on hand. I then put about 1/4 to 1/3 of the flavored creamer into the empty bottle and then use plain creamer to fill it up. Shake it, and serve.

Though not being a coffee drinker this doesn't help Julie out any.

2. What are you reading this week?

I'm working my way through Book 2 of Laurell Hamilton's Merry Gentry series. I'm finishing off the last few books in her Anita Blake series too. She's sort of pushing my raunch threshold in some of the late Anita Blake books, but I've found them all very interesting.

3. Barbara wants to know: do you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, and if so how many times?

Somehow here lately I seem to be waking about 30 to 45 mins prior to my alarm sounding. Assuming I make it to the alarm going off...in the days prior to Nick I would hit it for about an hour. Now Nick and I have reached an agreement that I get one snooze, maybe two.

4. If you had to travel in a sedan (or if you already drive a sedan type car) and you had five or six dogs, how would you handle it?

Sadly this is my situation as I think the CrazyMobile may have just taken her last gasp. She'll be on her way to my brother's tonight for some diagnostics, but he thinks she may have cracked her block, or blown a head gasket. If it's a head gasket we can fix it... but if the block is cracked she's doomed.

It looks like my back up car is to be a sedan, and I'm farm-sitting next weekend. I have six dogs and the last time I hauled dogs in a sedan it was two dogs in a Mitsubishi Galant.

I hope she's fixable but I have a feeling she's just done. I'm mad at her, too, though it's not her fault. In some ways she deserves to be done as she already had 168K miles on her when I got her, and now she has 246K.

5. How much do you filter what you put on your own blog?

I'll admit to having a slightly... uh... faulty filter sometimes about certain things. I typically filter pretty well when it comes to saying things when I'm trying to be diplomatic or trying to NOT be hurtful. But when it comes to filtering stuff about myself... clearly that filter is broken. I do try to be pretty transparent when it comes to blogging about my dogs, and in all honesty I'm uncomfortable with the videos of Pia the other day. My trigger finger itches to pull them down.

I sorta wish my filter had caught those before I'd posted them because I don't like the way she tried to quit a few times (didn't like it at the time and don't like it any any more now) and I wish I hadn't shown the world that.

I don't filter at all when it comes to telling stories, but I tend to also have a running dialogue in my head and a lot of that gets missed when I write.





Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pia on Sheep - 8 months

I gave Pia a whirl on sheep over the weekend at Robin's. She was feeling a tad bit sensitive, but after the sheepsplosion naughty dog rodeo at Thanksgiving she needed to feel a little more sensitive. I like her responsiveness, and figure that in another month or two she'll settle into a place that will be just right for me. I think she and I will do just fine together. She's still not ready for much training pressure, but she is getting there. She is trying very hard to figure out what I want.

I really would prefer to just post vids where my dogs and I all look like rockstars, but I've promised myself to be real and post the good, the bad, and even the fat hiney-ed.

Saturday:



Sunday:



I'll give her a while before I work her again as I find the explode the sheep but be mushy to corrections phase difficult to manage. I've made mistakes in the past by trying to power through these phases, when waiting it out would have made sense. Maturity heals a lot of things.

Videos by Robin French.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Need Dog Food?



I was asked by the folks over at Mr. Chewy to go do a review of their site. I gave it a whirl (though please note that all opinions are 100% mine).

Mr. Chewy has over 70 brands of the good stuff to choose from, and free shipping over $49! That's a pretty big deal. They had absolutely everything I needed, and I found the prices to be comparable and in some instances quite a bit cheaper than the store I've been buying from. They carry Orijen, TOTW, Diamond Naturals, Acana... a very wide range of products. The website, in my opinion, looks nice and navigates well.

I ordered on Tuesday, and had my food by Thursday.



I was very impressed with their customer service - and I even tried out the chat with a rep feature. The person who helped me was nice and helpful, and I got my answers quickly.

I wound up saving something like $5.00 on this order over my regular place. My work-horse food (the one the most of my dogs eat) was a slight bit more expensive, but the others were so much cheaper that it was worth it. Not only that, but I'll admit that I loved the fact that I didn't have to drive to the store.

I was impressed.

If you're interested in giving it a whirl go to www.mrchewy.com and feel free to use my referral code, LKWI4566, to get 10% off of your order!

Friday, January 27, 2012

It is FRIDAY! Confess!

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It's time for a Friday Confessional hosted by Mamarazzi! I haven't done one of these in a while. It is time.

I Confess...

I did something really freaky and posted a post with a weird title and the Friday Confessional button and nothing else. I had a technofreak moment.

I Confess...

As I was walking through the door to the Thai place today to pick up my boss's lunch the wind kicked up. The wind actually blew my shirt up... enough so that I'm pretty sure I flashed everyone in the restaurant.

I Confess...

That I was equal parts horrified and tickled over the whole thing. I figure anyone looking deserved to see whatever it was they saw. Or not.

I Confess...

That I wish many bloggers would get more involved and engage with others via comments and such. That being said, I've been really thrilled to see a real sense of community developing with some of the dog-bloggers that have been linking to my Tell Me Thursday hop.

I Confess...

That on days when I host TMT I often wonder if people actually read my post. When people only comment to say "I did it!" I'm left to wonder if they're hearing me? I also know that a lot of people join in but don't link up and don't link back - and I wonder if they even know that someone has gone to the trouble of hosting it? In the big grande scheme of things it is a small thing, but I've heard other hosts mention this and now I understand.

I Confess...

That I feel guilty even saying anything about that. The people pleaser in me prefers to avoid confrontation, and doesn't ever want to make anyone else feel bad (nor do I want to run people off or discourage them from posting) but on the other hand I feel a spark of frustration that maybe will go away if I confess.

I Confess...

That this week I've been getting Zippy to put out his... er... you know... so that I could put some ABX ointment on it. It seems to be helping his situation, though it still isn't sitting exactly where it should. The oral ABX are helping too. I'm pretty sure that I might have missed my calling as a dog stimulation expert. I gotz skillz.

I Confess...

I've had preggers dreams again this week (and I'm not preggers - it would be immaculate conception if I were, lol). Weird. At least it wasn't those dreams where I'm putting my kids in dog crates and leaving for work.

That's probably enough for today. Happy Friday everyone!

Oh wait. Two more:

I Confess...

I've eaten three quart sized bags of pineapple this week. A friend at work, Sara, had a bunch of pineapple left over from a baby shower. It is some kind of good. Though I don't think three quarts is exactly going to make me the poster child for moderation.

and finally...

I got to work one day this week and realized that I had only buttoned my shirt down to the third button. Today I got here and realized I'd forgotten to zip my pants. I haz problems.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #4

Crooks and Crazies


This week we're going with a theme week sort of deal. Most of these questions were posed by Kelly over at Timber View Farm (though I took some small editorial license, and added a question). I'll admit that these questions are making me dig - and I'll probably have to come back and add some later.

As always, please remember to come back here and add your name and a link sending us back to your specific post so that we can find it easily!

1. How do you search for and then choose a trainer?
2. The dog world is small and... uh... talkative. After choosing a trainer how do you handle those people in your life who don't believe in that trainer/trainers methods and criticize them to you?
3. Do you believe that a person's personal life should influence your choice of a trainer? (i.e do you believe a person's choice to be a party animal outside of work would affect your choice?)
4. When you have a break through moment with your dog, do you feel that moment makes your connection stronger with that dog and makes the next step in training easier?
5. Do you stick with just one trainer, or do you go to multiple sources for help?

For answering these questions I'm going to assume my world is better than it is at the moment and that I'm able to get my dogs out and train on them.

1. How do you search for and then choose a trainer?

I've always gone on word of mouth. I've always gone to check out trainers that friends have recommended. That being said, I make decisions based on several things, and one of those things is communication. I need to be able to understand what they're telling me. One of the things that I've always really liked about my main trainer squeeze is her ability to find different ways of communicating with me when I'm not "getting it". She also understands that sometimes I don't "get it" right away, but usually after I go work on it some it comes to me. I like that she tells me what she's doing, and shows ME how to do it too.

I also look for someone who can put their money where their mouth is. I think it's important that a trainer be successful (and I don't mean in the novice classes - I mean in the highest classes of whatever you're doing). They need to know what it is that they don't know, because as a novice person YOU don't really know.

I also have to like this person and feel like they treat me and my dog fairly. I have been in training situations that were Not. Good. At this point in my life I do these things because I like them, and I don't have the time or patience for me or my dog to be abused. I'll walk if that happens. Luckily for me in the dog world I've chosen well so far.

2. The dog world is small and... uh... talkative. After choosing a trainer how do you handle those people in your life who don't believe in that trainer/trainers methods and criticize them to you?

I smile, and nod, and then go on about whatever I was going to do anyway. I'm not big on confrontation. If they want to slam the methods I'm OK with that. But if they start slamming my trainer personally we're going to start having problems.

3. Do you believe that a person's personal life should influence your choice of a trainer? (i.e do you believe a person's choice to be a party animal outside of work would affect your choice?)

I guess for me it would depend on just how far I feel they're going morally compared to my comfort zone. I think sometimes it DOES, whether we want to admit it or not. I also think there's a real sliding scale on this. If I wasn't already friends with this person I might choose to steer clear if there were other comparable options. I'd say that what they do in their "other" life might lend some weight to my decision, but it would depend on what it is.

For example: if this trainer had a habit of bashing people behind their backs, and they weren't the only game in town I'd steer clear. I might would even choose to go to someone less skilled simply because I couldn't trust that person. But lets say this trainer was nice to me and nice to other people but liked to party sometimes... I'd overlook the partying thing.

Mostly I tend to weigh more heavily on the side of "What is their relationship with me and my dogs?"

4. When you have a break through moment with your dog, do you feel that moment makes your connection stronger with that dog and makes the next step in training easier?

It usually does. I find that a lot of times these breakthrough moments are followed by some sponge moments where the dog starts to just suck up everything you throw at it. I love lightbulb moments!

5. Do you stick with just one trainer, or do you go to multiple sources for help?

I like to have different takes on my dogs and what the trainers are seeing, so I try to go to more than just one person. I usually have a main trainer, and then might go to a clinician when I can, and then other times pump my friends. They love that.




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Little Something About Pia



Ever since Bree moved out with my ex-husband I've been waiting for a dog with this particular knack - one that Bree had that nobody since has had - until Pia. Bree was a naughty little dog in many respects, and hard headed as the day was long. However, the one thing that Bree would do for me that none of the other dogs would do is retrieve random items from tight spaces based on my verbal shaping.

Pia seems to have this knack. It makes me SO happy.

Pia knows what "get your toy" means. But sometimes I drop things that I cannot reach, and sometimes things get crammed in the back of crates (and I cannot reach them without getting down on the floor). Having a dog around that will get these things is a VERY good thing. Not to mention they don't get enough work these days, so anything else I can give them makes them happy.

I've noticed that I can tell her "get your toy" and if she's going to the wrong one I can say "no" and then when she shifts I can say "yes" and follow that "yes" with a "good girl" and get her to get the toy I'm thinking of. June will do this to a smaller degree but the other dogs (Nick, Linc, and Ginger) all look at me like I'm crazy. But Pia? She's a little rockstar. The fact that she likes to put things in her mouth that do not belong to her seems to help with directing her. The other dogs just plain flat out won't pick up things that don't belong to them.

The other day Pia had wrestled her food bowl up on one end and had plastered it to the back of her crate. I let her out and sighed... knowing I was going to have to get on my hands and knees and go get it. Then on a whim I called her over there. I told her, "Get your bowl". She hopped in and out of her crate. So she understood that I wanted something from her crate, but not what. So she hopped in, and as she was facing her bowl I said, "YES! Good girl." From that point I verbally shaped it until I got her to pick up her bowl and bring it out to me.

Same thing with my slippers last night.

Nevermind the fact that I had to have her retrieve them because she'd run off with them in the first place.



Hey, we're not perfect. Just enthusiastic.

Pia is one of these dogs that wants to DO something for me. I like that. I shape behaviors in the other dogs with food sometimes (in a home setting), but I like that she can listen to my voice and respond without food. She seems to want to make me happy, and that makes me happy. Hopefully I can get her back on sheep before too long and see if she's grown up a little. I sure am looking forward to it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tell Me Thursday 2012 - #3

Crooks and Crazies

Time for Tell Me Thursday, hosted by yours truly!

Questions for this week:

1. What is one lesson you've learned this week?
2. Who or what might you have been in another life? What might you be in a next life?
3. What unusual things do you like the smell of but don't usually admit?
4. What are your thoughts on continuing on vs. retiring when a trial run is going badly? How do you decide? Where do you draw the line?
5. This is a call for questions or subjects you'd like to talk about - I'd appreciate suggestions (and please come link up so that I'll be sure to see your post), so here's your chance!

As always, don't forget to post a link to my blog, and the button in your post... and then come back and link up!

Here are my answers. I know you've been waiting for it, right? All week? What I've told you lately about blind dates and dogs with pecker problems. Hah.

1. What is one lesson you've learned this week?

Here is my lesson for the day boys and girls. If you have an old boy dog that assumes the position to pee...

Wait for it...

DO NOT PICK HIM UP.

Picking up a peeing old boy dog in mind-stream results in a far bigger mess than if you'd just have let him make his little piddle puddle. Picking him up results in a shower of tiny dog pee pee that goes everywhere. Now instead of soaking up a puddle you must run around and blog up droplets of piddle all over the place.

Trust me... just let him make his puddle.

2. Who or what might you have been in another life? What might you be in a next life?

I mean for this to be a question to have fun and creative with (though I am a creationist). Anyway, I'm pretty sure I was Jerry Seinfeld in another life. He's one funny guy and I so totally identify with his brand of humor. I might have also been a lioness. Rawr. I loves me some big scary female cats. Sometimes I think I might have been born in the wrong era... or maybe I was a homesteader in another life.

For my next life, if this past week has been any indication, I'm in terrible danger of coming back as a Krispy Kreme donut. Or maybe an Oscar Mayer wiener truck. You know, cuz if I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener... everyone would be in love with me.



3. What unusual things do you like the smell of but don't usually admit?

I love to sniff peanut butter jars (inside, obviously). I like the smell of sharpies. Oh, and that paste they give you in kindergarten. I also love the smell of cigarettes the moment they're first lit (and no, I don't smoke and never have). I also love the smell of beer, even though I don't drink it. Yes, I'm strange sometimes.

4. What are your thoughts on continuing on vs. retiring when a trial run is going badly? How do you decide? Where do you draw the line?

This is a real tough one for me. I tend to retire too soon sometimes with my young dogs because I don't want them out there floundering for help and losing confidence (or worse making huge messes and damaging someone else's sheep or property). But sometimes I feel like I should have stuck it out longer. Then again sometimes I sit at a trial watching a run and I mutter, "leave the post leave the post OMG WHY DON'T YOU LEAVE THE POST AND HELP YOUR DOG."

I think this changes some with the Open runs - I've stayed at the post even when things weren't going the best (though certainly not total disasters), thinking that when most of the runs are sucking maybe mine will be of the lesser suckies.

It's a tough call to make. I'm not sure I'm very good at making the call yet. It is so hard to know the answer when you're the one running the dog. I hope that time and experience will help me to be better at this.

I tend to err on the side of retiring too soon, and going to help my dog.

I don't have to answer #5 cuz... uh... I'm asking all of YOU to give me some ideas. It can be any questions or any subjects you want or like to talk about.

So here's the code and linky widget: