Lifetime goals?

I waffle between "that's silly" and "it gives me something to work towards" concerning lifetime goals. Today is an "it gives me something to work towards" goal (and it helps I'm eating a fresh Montana Pomegranate caramel).

Thus, today I am posting lifetime goals and where we stand on the quest.

Buzz, since he's the oldest.
Novice Versatility-completed!
ARCH-1/5 QQs
UCDX-nothing... and we may have to scratch that one, but we'll just see

Bailey, since she's the youngest.
Versatile Companion Dog 4-right now we're just working up the ladder. A VCD4 is chock full of "the good stuff" that we aspire to. A VCD2 is next on the list.
JH-we've begun training and right now I'm looking for a new trainer.

Year goals?
Buzz--definitely his ARCH, and maybe we can grab a UCDX Q or 2.
Bailey--definitely her VCD2 and at least enter a hunt test.


The return of "boring-blog" layout is due to the return of an Aroha website. So far, our Home and Buzz pages are nearly complete.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

I'm off to the pet supply store to buy some cat food and NB roll, then I have to work on our camp business card, THEN I hope to get back to work on the new website... oh, wait, after I vacuum the house.

2009 Recap

As the year comes to a close, it's time for the annual recap.

January brought on the celebration of Bailey's ninth birthday. A happy and sad day. I'm thrilled she turned nine and is still here, but I'm sad that she'll be a double digit dog in not too many more days! No trials for us in January as I was in NYC for New Years and I started student teaching at Stonebridge!

February brought no trials once again, but it did bring all normal bloodwork for Buzz. He got a silver wellness panel this year as I was curious about his thyroid. Everything was within normal limits. It was probably a really boring month with me still settling in at Stonebridge. I can't remember.

March brought an AGILITY TRIAL! The first trial for us since August 2008! I was still concerned about Bailey's overall health so she just ran tunnelers (her first time in open) and qualified! Buzz ran in Tunnelers, Weavers, and Jumpers. Qualifying in all of his runs and his weavers Q finished his Novice Versatility! A long sought after title! We got a picture to commemorate it!

What a good boy he is! Click

April brought ANOTHER trial where I had Very Good Dogs. Buzz was only entered in Novice Jumpers where he qualified to finish his Superior Novice Jumpers title (10Qs). His FIRST Superior title! Bailey was my star that day. She was entered in Jumpers, Chances, and both rounds of regular. She qualified in ALL FOUR! What a good girly dog.

In May Buzz turned 11 and Bailey and I visited the TCVESSA specialty show. We didn't qualify in Open A, but it was a lot of fun to visit with friends. We also got a gift from our friend Ann--a copy of the English Springer Spaniel Illustrated Standard. HOW COOL! I really, really like that book! May also brought the "not-so-fractured" pelvis for Buzz and hip/elbow OFA xrays. The pelvis ended up not being fractured, spondylosis causes the pain, and his hips/elbows were graded as Good/Normal! Amazing results for an 11 year old boy! May also brought MY college graduation (it still feels weird to say "why, yes, I do have a college degree, a BS in Elementary Education") and with that my NEW, beloved CAMERA! It's sitting next to me right now. I really, really, love my camera.

June was my favorite month I think! We went to OHIO, finally! Bailey and I drove a LONG way to visit Kristen, Karin, and Abigail to help with the Ohio 4-H Teen Dog Experience. It was so much fun. We taught tracking, showmanship, agility, and obedience. We had an excellent time and can't wait for next year (except for that whole getting lost on the way back thing... that was not fun).

July contained our whirlwind trial weekend. Bailey ran 2/4 at the MAC NADAC trial finishing her NAC and qualifying in Jumpers. Then she got QQ#4 for her RAE in Duluth with a 1st (and a beautiful, glass photo frame) and a 3rd place. The next day she qualified in all three of her AKC agility runs! Q#3 and new NJP title in JWW, Q#2 in STD, Q#1 in FAST. Sunday Buzz and I went to our first UKC Rally trial. It wasn't the prettiest thing we've ever done, but we qualified with an 80/100.

In August, Buzz and I went to the MMBC APDT trial where we picked up our first RL3 Q and our first ARCH QQ!

September was an up and down month. We lost our resident granny cat, ruler of all, Baby. She is still sorely missed. She had a presence and boy do I miss that. But, Bailey did certify in tracking (on try #2). Though, the MMBC trial did not prove to be very good for us. I thought Buzz was ok with pain meds, but he was clearly not and was scratched. Bailey was also off her game after a beautiful Jumpers run to finish her NJC. We had a better plan of action though and she ran really well for me at the BOTC AKC agility trial. There she finished her NAP (but we couldn't qualify in JWW because she couldn't weave... blerg).

October was a close second favorite month. In October Bailey entered, ran, and PASSED her first Tracking Dog test. That was not only her TD title, but her VCD1! A VERY long awaited title for us. I was/am/will-be-for-a-long-time SO proud of her and of us. She was just wonderful. October also brought a turning point for Buzz. He's been receiving acupuncture and it has been ABSOLUTELY wonderful for him. He has almost returned to normal and is back to his half-age self (he's usually pegged at being about 5-6, and he's actually 11.5). It makes my heart swell to see him SO pain free and happy. He still gets pain meds on heavy activity days (usually Zeel), but day to day life doesn't require pain meds anymore.

November was pretty uneventful. We finally made it to tracking group again where Buzz was wonderful and Bailey was crazy! It did bring Buzz's third and fourth UCDX NQs and his second URO1 Q!

And that brings us to December. It's been a crazy month, feels like it came and left already. We'll be heading out to Leatherdale on Saturday and Sunday for the MMBC NADAC trial. The dogs and I are both excited as Leatherdale is probably our favorite place to run agility.

Title-Wise Year-End
WV-N 3/15/09
Novice Versatility 3/15/09
S-NJC 4/18/09

NAC 7/3/09
NJP 7/11/09
NJC 9/5/09
NAP 9/12/09
TD 10/25/09
VCD1 10/25/09

With multiple physically necessary breaks... I'm very happy. I have two happy, relatively healthy, senior dogs that continue to play these games with me, happily. That's all I can ask for.

I hope the new year brings more tracking, hunting, agility, obedience, rally, and some altered conformation for Buzz. We're expanding our repertoire...

Happy New Year to everyone out here in the blogosphere.

Rasza & Rascal (12 years old)

Bailey & Buzz (9.85 and 11.5)

Why not include the only picture of both dogs and I, that will hang in our NEW Agile Canines Training School?



A Fernandezlopez Challenge


"My goal is to do 1000 reinforced recalls with Gitta in the month of January 2010.

To make the math nice and round, I figure this means: 250 recalls a week (x4 weeks); which is roughly 50 recalls a day (x5 days a week). I'm planning on doing sessions of 10 which will only take about 5 minutes including setup. The location/distraction level will change each time she is successful on 8 out of 10 tries."

We joined, will you?


Christmas, the Nelson way

Pile things on the cat!

Until said cat gets sick of silly game and wants human to swirl ribbon to chase.

(while showing off his Beastie Band--a very early Christmas present)

Buzz's "Ella's Lead" custom Collar

Black and white first, because then you can't see how stained/red he is.

And the original, because you can see the collar for it's real value.

It's really beautiful! Thanks Ella's Lead! He's been wearing it since it arrived last night!


Fromm--Holiday Contest!


Rascal and I submitted a photo... he's a goober-cat!



I used to say that I never win anything, well... I've won a LOT of things lately, including this BEAUTIFUL collar from Ella's Lead. We entered in a contest on FLOT (to members only) and won! This is Buzz's collar as he's been wearing one in the house lately (being deaf and information-less scares me more than him getting his collar caught on something). Isn't it beautiful? When it arrives, I'll definitely get a photo of him wearing it.

Thanks Ella's Lead!


Cat in a Box

Memories of Summer

It was venison day here. That's kind of like egg day, it's exciting! Everyone had venison for breakfast (well, except me). Then the dogs and I went for a journey through the woods. Bailey did a LOT of running! She's actually a tiny bit tired, Buzz is VERY tired. We also got our Secret Santa gift from the FLOT SS exchange today! The dogs are thrilled with our loot!



thoughts on dog activities

Parts of a skype conversation from tonight

(me) I've had lots of throughts today

about lots of things... heh

(K) thinking is good

me too.

A lot of stuff I'd not thought on for ages.

I think Buzz'll be retired from agility after the January trial... it'll all depend on how he runs and how he feels afterwards, he LOVES agility... but I think he loves rally even more and if I stop paying for agility runs that are potentially? damaging, we'll have more money for pursuing other rally things

I think Bailey does obedience and agility for me these days--I seriously can't match her excitement/enthusiasm for tracking and hunting, regardless of how/when/why I work her and that makes me sad... I tried getting her amped up and gah... but I think she'd have a blast in Utility--so we just need to "get through" open?

and blaaaaaaaah

(Exciting conversation, no?)

That was the start, the middle was words like premack principles, predatory sequence... and guilt. I was feeling so guilty today. I got up late for work so Bailey only got yard time, Buzz got a snappy human when he wanted to sniff and roll in the snow, and when I got home I had "things" to do. We didn't get out for any real exercise today. I've been struggling for a couple months on the "is this for me or them" dilemma and her enthusiasm for tracking and hunting has really fueled that. She just enjoys those two activities (add in free running in a field and retrieving bumpers out of the water and you have Bailey's absolute FAVORITE things) so much that I was feeling guilty for "asking" her to do other things. Yes, it's a training issue, but it also comes down to early experiences and even semi-current training. Buzz is 11.5 years old now, when HE started "classes" (I can barely even call them that) enthusiasm was NOT desirable and was corrected. As a result, obedience was THE most boring activity ever. When he could escape it, he did. Bailey was trained much the same way. I've since done a complete change in training methods, but there was early imprinting that has lasting effects... ON ME! The only activities to not have THAT (and to be based on natural dog instinct and behavior too) ARE tracking and hunting.

The end? Continue doing what she loves, continue doing what he loves... and continue doing what I love. Incorporate them into the other training. Why can't I use birds for retrieving in obedience (Buzz would be downright giddy, Bailey would be ecstatic), why don't I use feathers on a rope to chase as a reward in agility? Many of these things CAN be used across the board.

As it stands, Buzz adores rally and is really starting to "get" tracking. Bailey may drive me crazy, but I can appreciate her (and even thank her breeder sometimes) and embrace her enthusiasm for the "natural" things in life. Less "controlling" control, more fun.



I've made it a priority to get all three of us into better condition. For the dogs that means running with me (for good cookies and toys) and playing with me (roughhousing and chasing). I've been good and have devoted at least half an hour to it daily.

Yesterday the three of us ran up and down the driveway (for canned food... yum). Today we played chase out in the yard until feet got cold and then we played in the basement. It took Buzz a while but he was eventually running around and being silly and even jumped on and off the couch a couple of times.

Yes, we'll do jumps and stuff too, but this is very important for generally being in condition.


Agility Training

Last night the dogs and I went to a run and done at a localish training facility. It wasn't very busy when we got there so that was great. I had no interest in working contacts, so I just signed up for three "JWW" slots. Buzz worked at 8" and Bailey at 12" where they each had one five minute slot and then split the last one. Buzz was feeling SO GOOD! He was running with me and turning and weaving. It was EXCELLENT! We played lots of RUN games and it was a lot of fun. We only worked for about four minutes, but that's all we needed. We started with just two jumps and worked up to about five. I was throwing a toy and treating for tighter turns and RUNNING. What a good boy he is.

Bailey still had some issues, but she was soliciting attention from me and wanting to work so that was excellent. She wasn't moving too fast, but we played a few race games and she DID play with me. Not too much to report on that front except she did 12 weaves multiple times, and single stepped. What a good girl dog!

I hope they offer this again as it is EXACTLY what we need. Work time and break time at our own pace to get back into the mental and physical game of agility.



The dogs love snow, I like snow. A snow day should be declared, correct?

I think so!



It's quick. It's easy. It's fun. It's practical!

Set aside ten to fifteen minutes every day (or twice, or three times each day is even better) to train your dog. Set a goal, keep the rate of reinforcement high, and get to work.

Today Bailey worked on sit stays and heeling. She's been having issues with left turns on and off. A lot of it is my body cue to turn isn't always predictable, so I am working on that part, and together we are working on them being a smooth transition. If my cue isn't timed correctly, she bumps into my leg and stops. My goal for today was two-fold, cue correctly and help her keep working if she bumps me. If she bumped me, I didn't click, but I did throw food for her. The reasoning behind this is the same reason I give "screw up cookies" in agility. If you give the wrong cue and the dog responds correctly, they are STILL right, so in the words of my agility instructor "reward that!" We had about fifteen repetitions of left turns. She hit me 4 times and by the fourth one she was bouncing at me, it wasn't such a big deal! This is to help us in a trial, because if I don't cue it correctly, I still want her to keep working. Her sits were VERY good today. Not a single break and this is while I was working Buzz too!

Buzz worked on sit stays and learning the difference between "down" and "mark" cues. He wants to lie down SO BADLY when I move my left arm any way in the downward direction. This is a good thing, that he's so amped about performing, but a bad thing in that I need to teach him to mark things (like the jumps in rally since I can't cue jump verbally, or his dumbell on the blind retrieve, or anything else I'd like to send him to). The session started with me doing limited movements with my left arm. I was almost able to bring it to level with his head by the end of the session, but we didn't get to the actual marking exercise today. Tomorrow we will work on the actual cue for down, instead of any left hand motion while in heel position!




My dog is sound. That's one good thing from the night.
My dog never tuned me out. That's another good thing.
She never reacted beyond a stare. That's ANOTHER good thing.
She was able to go to her crate pad on the cue "place" at about 95% accuracy. She maintained her place (with a cheater "wait" cue thrown in) while I walked the course the first time of the night.
See, good things DID happen.

And for now we'll leave out the actual agility part.

Entries, CERFs, class, pictures, etc

I'm printing entries for upcoming trials. Sitting next to me are two AKC agility trials in January, UKC rally trial in January, and CDSP in February. I am not going to enter more than one day of these agility trials with Bailey as she always does something to herself when I do! American Belgian Malinois Club and Greater Twin Cities Golden Retriever Club trials are all breed trials held at a supposedly very nice dirt arena. I'm excited! UKC rally trial is, of course, a MMBC trial, but happens to be the same weekend as one of the AKC agility trials, so I'm just entering one day (Sunday). CDSP is the same weekend as the APDT rally trials I am secretary for, same location, so I can show my own dog!

I also scheduled CERFs for February 27, 2010. It needs to be done, and since I was taking care of things today, that seemed like a good thing to take care of.

Tonight Bailey and I go to agility class again for the first time in a while. She's been very sound so I'm knocking on wood and crossing fingers and toes she remains that way (ok, and we're doing some preventative stuff too). We're also getting our picture taken for the wall at the new ACTS building! I have to decide what I'm going to wear and finish grooming dogs before it's time to leave.

And, I think that's it for now!

Except for the fact that there's a new link on the right--A Great Dog Now is owned by a friend who is a Karen Pryor Academy-Certified Training Partner. Check it out!


Why old dogs are the best dogs


They can be eccentric, slow afoot, even grouchy. But dogs live out their final days, says The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten, with a humility and grace we all could learn from.

Not long before his death, Harry and I headed out for a walk that proved eventful. He was nearly 13, old for a big dog. Walks were no longer the slap-happy Iditarods of his youth, frenzies of purposeless pulling in which we would cast madly off in all directions, fighting for command. Nor were they the exuberant archaeological expeditions of his middle years, when every other tree or hydrant or blade of grass held tantalizing secrets about his neighbors. In his old age, Harry had transformed his walk into a simple process of elimination—a dutiful, utilitarian, head-down trudge. When finished, he would shuffle home to his ratty old bed, which graced our living room because Harry could no longer ascend the stairs. On these walks, Harry seemed oblivious to his surroundings, absorbed in the arduous responsibility of placing foot before foot before foot before foot. But this time, on the edge of a small urban park, he stopped to watch something. A man was throwing a Frisbee to his dog. The dog, about Harry’s size, was tracking the flight expertly, as Harry had once done, anticipating hooks and slices by watching the pitch and roll and yaw of the disc, as Harry had done, then catching it with a joyful, punctuating leap, as Harry had once done, too.

Harry sat. For 10 minutes, he watched the fling and catch, fling and catch, his face contented, his eyes alight, his tail a-twitch. Our walk
home was almost … jaunty.

Some years ago, The Washington Post invited readers to come up with a midlife list of goals for an underachiever. The first-runner-up prize went to: “Win the admiration of my dog.”

It’s no big deal to love a dog; they make it so easy for you. They find you brilliant, even if you are a witling. You fascinate them, even if you are as dull as a butter knife. They are fond of you, even if you are a genocidal maniac. Hitler loved his dogs, and they loved him.

Puppies are incomparably cute and incomparably entertaining, and, best of all, they smell exactly like puppies. At middle age, a dog has settled into the knuckleheaded matrix of behavior we find so appealing—his unquestioning loyalty, his irrepressible willingness to please, his infectious happiness. But it is not until a dog gets old that his most important virtues ripen and coalesce. Old dogs can be cloudy-eyed and grouchy, gray of muzzle, graceless of gait, odd of habit, hard of hearing, pimply, wheezy, lazy, and lumpy. But to anyone who has ever known an old dog, these flaws are of little consequence. Old dogs are vulnerable. They show exorbitant gratitude and limitless trust. They are without artifice. They are funny in new and unexpected ways. But, above all, they seem at peace.

Kafka wrote that the meaning of life is that it ends. He meant that our lives are shaped and shaded by the existential terror of knowing that all is finite. This anxiety informs poetry, literature, the monuments we build, the wars we wage—all of it. Kafka was talking, of course, about people. Among animals, only humans are said to be self-aware enough to comprehend the passage of time and the grim truth of mortality. How, then, to explain old Harry at the edge of that park, gray and lame, just days from the end, experiencing what can only be called wistfulness and nostalgia? I have lived with eight dogs, watched six of them grow old and infirm with grace and dignity, and die with what seemed to be acceptance. I have seen old dogs grieve at the loss of their friends. I have come to believe that as they age, dogs comprehend the passage of time, and, if not the inevitability of death, certainly the relentlessness of the onset of their frailties. They understand that what’s gone is gone.

What dogs do not have is an abstract sense of fear, or a feeling of injustice or entitlement. They do not see themselves, as we do, as tragic heroes, battling ceaselessly against the merciless onslaught of time. Unlike us, old dogs lack the audacity to mythologize their lives. You’ve got to love them for that.

The product of a Kansas puppy mill, Harry was sold to us as a yellow Labrador retriever. I suppose it was technically true, but only in the sense that Tic Tacs are technically “food.” Harry’s lineage was suspect. He wasn’t the square-headed, elegant type of Labrador you can envision in the wilds of Canada hunting for ducks. He was the shape of a baked potato, with the color and luster of an interoffice envelope. You could envision him in the wilds of suburban Toledo, hunting for nuggets of dried food in a carpet.

His full name was Harry S Truman, and once he’d reached middle age, he had indeed developed the unassuming soul of a haberdasher. We sometimes called him Tru, which fit his loyalty but was in other ways a misnomer: Harry was a bit of an eccentric, a few bubbles off plumb. Though he had never experienced an electrical shock, whenever he encountered a wire on the floor—say, a power cord leading from a laptop to a wall socket—Harry would stop and refuse to proceed. To him, this barrier was as impassable as the Himalayas. He’d stand there, waiting for someone to move it. Also, he was afraid of wind.

While Harry lacked the wiliness and cunning of some dogs, I did watch one day as he figured out a basic principle of physics. He was playing with a water bottle in our backyard—it was one of those 5-gallon cylindrical plastic jugs from the top of a water cooler. At one point, it rolled down a hill, which surprised and delighted him. He retrieved it, brought it back up and tried to make it go down again. It wouldn’t. I watched him nudge it around until he discovered that for the bottle to roll, its long axis had to be perpendicular to the slope of the hill. You could see the understanding dawn on his face; it was Archimedes in his bath, Helen Keller at the water spigot.

That was probably the intellectual achievement of Harry’s life, tarnished only slightly by the fact that he spent the next two hours insipidly entranced, rolling the bottle down and hauling it back up. He did not come inside until it grew too dark for him to see.

I believe I know exactly when Harry became an old dog. He was about 9 years old. It happened at 10:15 on the evening of June 21, 2001, the day my family moved from the suburbs to the city. The move took longer than we’d anticipated. Inexcusably, Harry had been left alone in the vacated house—eerie, echoing, empty of furniture and of all belongings except Harry and his bed—for eight hours. When I arrived to pick him up, he was beyond frantic.

He met me at the door and embraced me around the waist in a way that is not immediately reconcilable with the musculature and skeleton of a dog’s front legs. I could not extricate myself from his grasp. We walked out of that house like a slow-dancing couple, and Harry did not let go until I opened the car door.

He wasn’t barking at me in reprimand, as he once might have done. He hadn’t fouled the house in spite. That night, Harry was simply scared and vulnerable, impossibly sweet and needy and grateful. He had lost something of himself, but he had gained something more touching and more valuable. He had entered old age.

In the year after our move, Harry began to age visibly, and he did it the way most dogs do. First his muzzle began to whiten, and then the white slowly crept backward to swallow his entire head. As he became more sedentary, he thickened a bit, too.

On walks, he would no longer bother to scout and circle for a place to relieve himself. He would simply do it in mid-plod, like a horse, leaving the difficult logistics of drive-by cleanup to me. Sometimes, while crossing a busy street, with cars whizzing by, he would plop down to scratch his ear. Sometimes, he would forget where he was and why he was there. To the amusement of passersby, I would have to hunker down beside him and say, “Harry, we’re on a walk, and we’re going home now. Home is this way, okay?” On these dutiful walks, Harry ignored almost everything he passed. The most notable exception was an old, barrel-chested female pit bull named Honey, whom he loved. This was surprising, both because other dogs had long ago ceased to interest Harry at all, and because even back when they did, Harry’s tastes were for the guys.

Still, when we met Honey on walks, Harry perked up. Honey was younger by five years and heartier by a mile, but she liked Harry and slowed her gait when he was around. They waddled together for blocks, eyes forward, hardly interacting but content in each other’s company. I will forever be grateful to Honey for sweetening Harry’s last days.

Some people who seem unmoved by the deaths of tens of thousands through war or natural disaster will nonetheless grieve inconsolably over the loss of the family dog. People who find this behavior distasteful are often the ones without pets. It is hard to understand, in the abstract, the degree to which a companion animal, particularly after a long life, becomes a part of you. I believe I’ve figured out what this is all about. It is not as noble as I’d like it to be, but it is not anything of which to be ashamed, either.

In our dogs, we see ourselves. Dogs exhibit almost all of our emotions; if you think a dog cannot register envy or pity or pride or melancholia, you have never lived with one for any length of time. What dogs lack is our ability to dissimulate. They wear their emotions nakedly, and so, in watching them, we see ourselves as we would be if we were stripped of posture and pretense. Their innocence is enormously appealing. When we watch a dog progress from puppy hood to old age, we are watching our own lives in microcosm. Our dogs become old, frail, crotchety, and vulnerable, just as Grandma did, just as we surely will, come the day. When we grieve for them, we grieve for ourselves.

From the book Old Dogs, text by Gene Weingarten and Michael S. Williamson, based on a longer excerpt that originally appeared in The Washington Post. ©2008 by Gene Weingarten and Michael S. Williamson. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Inc.


Buzz the SuperStar!

Yes, we went tracking. Only four people showed up and one went to work on her own, so three of us laid tracks. I laid a track for a red merle Aussie named Dawson (an Iowa transplant). He worked through the track very, very nicely. The track definitely had it's challenges and it ended up being longer than planned (427 yards instead of 300... oops), but he's a steady boy!

Next dog to run was a Golden named Chance laid by Dawson's handler. He had a lot of trouble with the deer bed and overshooting his corners, but once he and his handler recovered, they found their final sock and had fun!

My goober Bailey ran a TDX-like track (aged over an hour... hadn't planned on it being aged that long but it took us a while to get through the first two). We had underbrush to go through and logs to leap over. I momentarily lost my brain and forgot that TDX tracks don't have a directional flag, so we went off in the wrong way at first but when I stopped Bailey just circled and picked up the track nicely. Then she was a MANIAC! Did I forget that she hasn't tracked since our test, and she's been cooped up for almost a week now because of A) her toenail and B) DEER HUNTING! I was trying to find the balance between working at a reasonable pace (instead of ALL OVER THE PLACE) and causing her frustration. (I didn't find that balance until nearly the end of the track.) We were all over and she wasn't even recognizing the track for a bit so I stood my ground and let her just circle me, scenting. She finally locked on to her track but powered WAY TOO FAST and overshot the first corner. I backed up and she got it nicely, but went too far and skipped right over her first article. The next leg was a near disaster with her missing an article AGAIN (so very unlike her) because she was just going way too fast. I slowed her down just a bit for the next leg and she tracked like a pro, right over where our tracklayer stepped over a fallen log. A moment of Brilliance! Up into the underbrush where she got tangled doing her corner circle, but when we got straightened out (and found our article) she was as good as gold until our final article (ok, fine, so she blew to the left of that one and had to come back and find it but, hey, she worked the last half of the track a LOT better than the first half).

My dog is a powerhouse who needs someone a little more experienced, but I guess we'll get there. Oh, and I won't try to track her when she's had no exercise and no practice in uhh... a while.

Meanwhile, Buzz was my SuperStar today! He ran a 150 yard track with four articles very, very nicely! He showed me he DOES understand this tracking thing. He was even pulling at his harness and working VERY hard to recover his track. One article confused the heck out of him but he worked right though it and found that darn sock! It was up on a gopher hill and he searched all around it, air scented around it and then finally caught wind of it and got it! He was a very good boy! I'll have to remember to bring him out more often. It's a lot of work to track! He definitely prefers tall grass to short. It's easier to scent!


Tracking Group

We haven't been to tracking group since our test (and I think we only made it twice all summer/fall actually) so I'm very excited about Saturday. I have the day off of work and we're headed out for some fun scent work. I need to learn more about TDX tracks so we can better prepare on our own. I'm even being brave and bringing Buzz out. He's really gotten good. He can't run a full length track yet, but he's doing really well on corners which were our nemesis for a LONG time. I can't wait!

4 miles!

Buzz (and Kevin and Eric) and I walked four miles last night. Mostly trotting, at varying paces, we walked about 1/4 of it, and threw in some cantering. He's still not moving at a canter for long periods of time, but it is improvement!

No real signs of soreness/stiffness/pain today. YAHOO!


Walks and Bully Sticks

I was exhausted after work today and came home for a nap. By the time I woke up it was very dark. Sometimes I'll take Bailey for a run in the fields when it's dark but I just didn't feel comfortable doing that today. We headed into our bigger little town to walk the "usual loop." I refuse to walk on our road in the dark. In town we meet a few drunkards, but it's well lit and generally a nice walk. We parked at the overlook and walked to The Drive In across the river. It's 3-4 miles (one of these days I'll actually figure out how long it is) and a good enough walk for them to sleep at night.

When we got home Buzz got a treat he hasn't had in a couple of years. A bully stick! I got some other things at Fur-Get-Me-Nots and they were right there at the check out, so I got one for each dog. Buzz is just overjoyed! He's so easy to please, a walk and a bully stick and he's content.



A bathed dog doesn't usually get to roll in the dirt, but today I said she could.

Since I let her do it, I had to let Buzz do it too! He was RUNNING and having fun!

And my favorite of the day.

Changing Instructors

Buzz's page for my instructor's "thank you" book was on the screensaver when I sat down with lunch. It made me think of all the talk going around lately of instructors and instructing.

I'm finding it increasingly more uncommon that I have had the same agility instructor from the beginning (for the most part). I don't have any issues about training with her, she's respectful, so why wouldn't I stick with her? A few of my friends seem to go from instructor to instructor and never sticking with one.

I can't even imagine all of the reasons why, but I'm curious. Why do people end up switching?

The only reason I could foresee is a change of equipment, or classes. I would love to train with someone who only does NADAC as I don't get enough time to work contacts in general, working contacts on rubber or other non-slatted material happens even less. Class times could be an issue too.

I've never had an obedience instructor, so I can't comment on that front.


It's official!

Madam Bailey Angel VCD1 RE - SN72291409

Agility - Awards Processed Through 23-OCT-2009
Number Qualifying Scores1
Number Different Judges1
Number Qualifying Scores3
Number Different Judges3
Number Qualifying Scores3
Number Different Judges3
Number Qualifying Scores1
Number Different Judges1

Obedience - Awards Processed Through 26-OCT-2009
Number of Points0
Number Different Judges3
Number Qualifying Scores3
Wins in Open0
Number Wins Utility0
Additional Specialty Wins Open0
Additional Specialty Wins Utility0
Number of Points0
Number Different Judges1
Number Qualifying Scores1
Wins in Open0
Number Wins Utility0
Additional Specialty Wins Open0
Additional Specialty Wins Utility0

Rally - Awards Processed Through 24-OCT-2009
Number Different Judges3
Number Qualifying Scores3
Number Different Judges7
Number Qualifying Scores7
Number Different Judges6
Number Qualifying Scores6
Number Different Judges0
Number Qualifying Scores4

Tracking - Awards Processed Through 31-OCT-2009


Trials, Classes, Issues, etc.

Buzz has been working well for me in Rally. I'm trying to decide if I want to try classes again with him and pursue his UCDX or not. We have all of the principle parts of the exercises (except that darned out of sight sit apparently) and I feel like we can do it, but is the jumping too much for him? The MMBC is offering veterans classes at their February trials. I know he can handle three rally runs each day if they're spread out, but I don't know about four. I really want to finish his ARCH, so I think I want to focus on that. We need four more double Qs which is very attainable... we just need to do it! He also has one Q for his RL3 which is probably as far as we'll go in that regard.

Bailey is having obedience issues again. Part of it could be pain, part of it could be medications, part of it could be just who she is. Regardless, I'm going to be good about getting out to run throughs with her. We don't need specific classes right now because she is having mini to moderate melt downs in the ring lately. We need to get out and work and get her comfortable enough to play with me in the ring. We have one CDX Q, two more and that I know we can do! I am also going to send in her CDSP registration. It'll give us more practice and that is something we definitely need!

CDSP registration will have "Aroha's Limited II Irish Creme" which is the same as her CPE registration. Much better than "Madam Bailey Angel" in my world!


Mindy says "she was special, not for her titles or her get. She was special." I agree, but they also deserve recognition for everything they accomplished.

(59 OTCh points, 1 Open win, 2 Utility wins)

She was special. I'm sad I never got to meet her in person. The grandkids I have met amaze me though.


On the recommendation of a couple of people (and our vet) I just ordered Dasuquin with MSM. We've been using Glyco-Flex II for a couple of years now and with all the good things I've heard about Dasuquin, I figured it was worth a try.

We'll see!

MMBC UKC trial

Well, he was a silly goon on his first Open A run. He didn't release on either retrieve, but otherwise he was pretty good. Two was too much for him and we excused ourselves after the figure 8 exercise (to allow the honor dog to finish his honor).

Rally was great. 98 and no placement... hah. Two 100s, one 99, and seven 98s! We were not the fastest 98! He worked like his wonderful self.


Eric and I went to see Kevin's play Landscape of the Body on Friday and just to make sure we didn't miss it this time (Eric brought his Garmin) we got there really early. I convinced him to wander around downtown Minneapolis with me and we found... Urbanimal.

That store is so darned cool, I was in awe. Anyway, the only thing I bought was a bag of Zukes that I needed for Saturday anyways. I definitely want to go back though. It's not that they have a ton of stuff, but the stuff they do have is neat. They sell Canny Collars, and I want one for Bailey.


Acupuncture and electricity

This is the third time Buzz has had acupuncture with electricity (and the fourth time having acupuncture). This time Dr E put the electricity on his back and his rear legs, hoping to stimulate the muscles that are still lacking in strength and tone.

It went well but he gnawed on food in my hand for the eight minutes he was hooked up because otherwise he kept turning around to check out the needles and try to lay down.

Good news is that it IS working, in general. He's moving freer, and now I do need to schedule an appointment with the massage lady... it's time to do double duty for a while.


Working dogs together.

I don't typically work the dogs together, unless we're doing stays. Buzz would always get shoved out of the way and stop working. We've been working on heeling a lot and last night I started working Buzz's heeling and recalls while Bailey was loose. He was SO GOOD! (And she was SO mad!) He was fighting for position and working really hard to stay where he knew he was supposed to. GOOD proofing exercise. Who would have thought the Buzz dog would be fighting to work? He's such a laid-back, go-with-the-flow kinda guy!

The kicker? Bailey's reward for being a pest was getting to heel. She was SO animated and with me it was crazy!

Now, if only I could get them fighting for position before we go into the ring.


Testing it out.

After her surgery, Bailey, was on pretty strict crate rest for the first week and a half and allowed to have leashed walks for the last five days until sutures came out. The site healed very well this time (thankfully she didn't kill me for all that crate rest... it was worth it) and the vet ok'd her to do "as much or as little as she wants." That's just what we did. We found out agility wasn't on that list quite yet but some casual running/walking/sniffing in the field was. We resumed our twice daily romps in the fields with joy. She was slowly building up those muscles and having a darn good time doing it.

She tracked like a maniac who felt great in the test last week (it was a week ago already... sheesh!) but until today she hasn't really RUN!

As we entered the field today it was as if she finally felt great again and decided to test the leg out at full speed. HOLY COW! I forgot how fast she is. She was running literal laps around Buzz and I (he's been on a long line with me holding on lately because I had to chase him a couple times... naughty old deaf dog). She was taking pretty tight turns and just running with a look of complete joy on her face.

Now I need to go feel her leg, but she seems to be fine. Happy and content and at least the edge is taken off!

In other news... I also tested out Buzz's sit stay (last night) after not working on it for a couple of days. I set the timer for 3:15 and rewarded three times. He wasn't showing signs of moving but I need to keep that rate of reinforcement high and not let him move! We trial in six days! Eeeeep!


Tracking pictures!

Can you find us in the field?
Sheila (instructor), Nan (judge), Me, Bailey, Becky (judge)
Soon after getting our pretty green ribbon!


Bailey VCD1!!!

Today we tracked. We drew number one to get INTO the test (14 entrants, only 4 TD slots) and we drew track #1 today. We started at 8:45 and finished the 450 yard track at 8:49. We were flying. She was absolutely wonderful. Friends took pictures that I'll share later.

Overall it was a stellar day too. All 4 TDs passed and 3/4 TDX dogs passed! Perfect tracking conditions.

Now we prepare for TDX in the spring!


Buzz feels GOOD!

I'd have to go and check, but Buzz hasn't felt very good since about May. We've tried a variety of things to help him out and his spondylosis was just being stubbornly painful. Things would work for a while and then not work. We are going on day FIVE of him feeling REALLY good (but not over the top good like Previcox made him feel). He had his first acupuncture treatment a week ago Tuesday and his second was on this Wednesday.

Monday he willingly stood up on his rear legs and tried to steal food. I was not mad at all, quite happy in fact. The spondylosis has affected his whole rear end. He lost a lot of muscle mass and he couldn't extend his rear past about his tail. Standing on his hind legs DEFINITELY extends his rear legs past his tail. I was worried about the impact of him dropping his front down to the floor, but he didn't seem to notice!

Wednesday after his appointment, we went for a short hike in the park. I noticed he is moving very close in the rear, which is unlike him. It is likely due to the lack of muscle, so I've gotta call my vet and see if there's anything we can do to help strengthen the muscles correctly. I'm thinking he'll recommend the water treadmill. Ugh, another trip to the cities each week! Anyway. At the park he seemed to be stretching out his legs and back a lot. His relaxed stance returned to a stack. A fully stretched out stack.

My friends are looking at me like I've just lost it because I'm jumping around when I see he's holding that position. He didn't just end up in it, it WAS relaxing and felt good!

I just hope, hope, hope, hope that acupuncture continues to work. It really made me so very sad that I wasn't able to help him, despite the things we were doing. I'm supposed to call Dr. E on Monday and we'll decide when he needs to go in again.

Today though, I think we'll go for a walk that doesn't require so much stepping up on things. His rear still isn't very strong, so he was using his front to pull himself up way too much!



No, neither dog is porky, in fact they're both at a pretty darn good weight... especially going into winter.

I've been lax about getting them a variety of raw meats to eat, and they've been eating quite a bit more kibble than I'd like. Today I found pork for $1.15/pound and got two roasts. The boy kitties have some drummies to munch on and the dogs get chicken quarters. I've got a roast in the fridge for dinner tomorrow.

Bailey's teeth are extra nasty (ok, so they're good compared to "most" dogs, but my dogs are not "most" dogs) so I even repackaged everything. NO excuses for me to NOT be feeding more raw.

I'd like to get them both back on all raw, and I will, once I secure a "real" job!

For now though, they'll enjoy some pork tomorrow.


Catch Up!

Buzz had his first acupuncture appointment yesterday. He wasn't too fond of the needles at first, and especially on the left side of his back, but there were definitely no lasting ill effects. We go again next week, for a charged experience.

The Zeel seems to be working. We got a sample of Previcox and it worked TOO well. He felt too good and I was afraid he'd injure himself.

Bailey came with last night too and her sutures look good now. She was coned for a few days and I applied Vaseline liberally to help the skin out as well as gave her 1/2 tab of Traumeel 3 times/day. She only had one dose of Traumeel yesterday and will likely only have one today. The swelling has gone down significantly. I forgot to ask when he wants to take them out so I don't know if we'll go back on Friday or wait until Tuesday. Regardless, she was happy to have a little bit of an extended walk this morning. She's going to be crazy when given the all clear to RUN... I'd better set aside a couple hours for her!

I'm trying to work on a photo holiday card, but am having trouble designing a template. I may just suck it up and buy one, but we'll see.

Buzz has been working on his heeling and sits a lot lately. I'm shooting for three sessions/day. Sit stays have been our nemesis for years and that has been amplified since his deafness it seems. If he loses concentration and looks away while I'm walking away or facing him, as soon as he looks back he'll RUN in, afraid he missed a signal. We're working at a shorter distance and less duration to build up his focus. He seems fairly settled if I'm out of sight, which is a GOOD thing.

I'm still going to my vet's to volunteer on Tuesdays and it's still a blast. I learn so much and it's just a day for me to fill my brain with nerdiness, I love it!



I put the dogs outside in the yard when I got home from work today so I could try to get some other work done. I just looked up and saw the novelty has worn off and they're REALLY asking to come in. Apparently it's cold outside with all that wind!

In other news that has bearing on the dogs, a job has opened up that I am very qualified for and sort of have an "in." My fingers and toes are crossed as much as possible. I need a real job and would LOVE this one. The waiting begins.


good bye Baby

Farm Cat Special

This kitty was a tough one. She lived outside for the first 12 years of her life and never really wanted to come inside. After being accidentally declawed by our vet at the time of her spay, we tried to make her a house cat. She wanted and had none of that. She was so very unhappy that we let her go outside again. In the winter she would occasionally come inside and curl up in front of the fire, but always wanted to go back outside.

After my dad died, I convinced my mom to try one more time as there was talk of moving. This time it worked. She happily accepted the warmth and comfort of indoor living. Her beauty and attitude have yet been unmatched, even by her son. My Rasza is her son from the second to last litter she had. He is handsome, but she was beautiful.

Every morning, since the day she moved inside for good, she would meow/growl at "the boys" as they all fought to be the first upstairs to watch me get breakfast ready. This morning, that is truly what I missed the most. There were no sounds coming from behind the basement door. Today when I came home, there were no sounds coming from behind the basement door. I keep waiting to hear her telling someone to move out of her way. She truly reigned the house and held her place as Queen up until the end.

A year and a half ago now, I thought we were going to lose her. Thankfully my vet and internet friends are wonderful and educated me about hyperthyroidism in cats. After checking all bloodwork, we discovered she was hyperthyroid. Once she started medication, she returned to her lively, happy self.

She was never a cuddler unless it was on her own terms. Ever dignified and surveyor of her kingdom, she did not stoop to "dog level" and thus did not allow unwanted human contact.

The reign of Baby has sadly ended, but she will never be forgotten.

Rest well my sweet Baby girl, say "hi" to Snowey (Snowey Morning at Kara Sea, Samoyed, died 6/1998) for me and enjoy wherever you two are. Tell her I still miss her. I'm sure you'll find your daughters Mischief and McGoo and your son Whiskers who sadly passed before you. Run free and have fun.

The only "family" portrait I was ever able to get. Taken the winter she finally moved inside for good.

Last photo ever taken of her. Summer 2009


Tracking Certification!!!!!!

Tonight Bailey certified in tracking and I now possess four slips of paper to enter tests with! YEEHAW!

I am so excited, more excited than I think I've been for any dog sport "thing" ever! It went so much better than last week, and last week wasn't bad!

Sending in an entry for October 25. Close to home. I'm crossing my fingers that we get in!



We've been working pretty hard the last two days (but ask the dogs and it's probably not enough) getting ready for a myriad of upcoming activities. Buzz and I are back to working with one jump again as he seems to have lost his stamina somewhere and at some time! Low jumps, lots of treats (CHEESEEEE!!!!) and fun. He does weaves happily (he bounces, never got the whole single step thing down) and is jumping easier.

Bailey and I are working on the pieces of Open because we DO get to show on Sunday now. Just now we came in from working recalls (3). About an hour before that she ran a shorter but aged track and was spot on. NO silliness out there, all business. GOOD GIRL!

I'm sure we'll work heeling later. Buzz likes to heel a lot but our starts are getting a little sloppy. I need to be rewarding him jumping out there a lot more. In related news--I think we're finally communicating at the start now about whether he should stay or follow. I've refined my cue and the way I hold my body and we only had one miscommunication in the last session. (We did 10 starts, so 9/10 is GOOD!)

Training dogs is fun... obviously!