Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sacramento or Bust!

I am leaving tomorrow for the American Belgian Malinois National Specialty, as mentioned in my previous post. Pie is entered in agility, obedience, rally and conformation. Yes, a dog from the dog pound is entered in conformation. She is not a registered dog, but this conformation class is "non-regular" and the club gets to make up the rules and they said non-registered dogs can enter. So we have been practicing trotting on a leash and standing still while a judge pets you. I mean while a judge uses her hands to determine how closely you fit the standard. They are not petting you Pie, you silly dog. Just stand still and don't lick the judge in the face.

Fancy is also coming. The agility trial is open to all breeds and she is entered there. Bloom is staying home. Kate will be taking care of him.

In addition to the dog activities, I printed out directions from my motel to the State Capitol building, the Governor's Mansion and the RiverWalk. I will be seeing these exciting sights/ sites on Wednesday, before the dog activites start on Thursday.

The dogs and I will have a busy five days. We will have fun, and maybe we will come home with some qualifying scores!

Ugh... Obedience

I get in these moods sometimes. Like all of the sudden I want to show my dog or dogs in obedience. I get super motivated and enter shows and practice all the time. Then just as quickly I get out of the obedience mood.

I am out of the obedience mood now, but the one time a year show specific to Malinois only (American Belgian Malinois National Specialty) is in California this year. They are offering obedience, rally (an easier type of obedience with different exercises) agility and regular dog show conformation. So I entered everything. Which means I had to start practicing obedience again. The problem was I was not in the mood. So I put it off and put it off and still couldn't get in the mood and then with one week to go, I finally started practicing, and we are having problems. I am leaving for the show tomorrow (it is in Sacramento) so it is too late to fix the problems.

However, this could be a good thing. If we do poorly at the obedience portion, I will stay out of the obedience mood, and can spend my time doing more fun things like agility, tracking, walking or ball throwing. None of my friends are currently showing in obedience, so when I practice, it is just Pie and I. Setting up by myself is a pain and set up and take down takes up time also.
This is the ring I have to set up. The two jumps and the baby gates in the back. The reason for the gates is there is an exercise where the dog has to run away from you in a straight line, go between the jumps and stop and sit on command. The baby gates are a visual marker. You train the dog to run to the gates because that is what is used in a trial to block off the different rings. Sometimes Pie want to take a jump on the way to the gates but that would cause us to fail. After the dog stops and sits by the gates the judge tells you which jump to tell your dog to take. In this case you can give a hand signal and a verbal command. Such as moving your left arm while saying over to get the dog to take the jump on the left. The going away from you is called the "go outs" and the jumping is called "directed jumping." I call it a lot of work to haul jumps and baby gates around. Picture me doing it in the Miata before I had the Buick... it only worked with the top down.
This is a nice park I was at today. I've been kicked out of a few parks in Camarillo for training my dogs off leash, but not this one. I got a nice view of the Camarillo Airport and I would have been able to see the ocean but it was too hazy. But I did spot one of "our" airplanes on approach to Channel Islands ANGS.
Here is Fancy enjoying watching Pie do all the work.
Fancy says, "Good job on the 'Retrieve Over the Jump' exercise, Pie."
I thought Fancy's cheeky attitude needed adjusted, so I put her to work helping Pie practice the "Long Sit- Out of Sight." In competition, the dogs all sit together in a line for three minutes while the handlers go out of the dog's sight. I usually practice it for five minutes. See why it is easy to get out of the obedience mood? It is boring to hide behind a car while your dog sits out in the middle of a park for five minuets. And even more boring when you hide and they hold a down for ten minutes!
This is the view from behind the car. Thrillsville.

Pie has her Utility Dog (UD) title, which means I'm trying for her Utility Dog Excellent (UDX.) This means she must do everything correctly in not one, but two times in the ring, completing the open level and utility level exercises. If she qualifies in open and utility in the same day she gets one "leg" towards her UDX. You need 10 legs. If she does even one thing wrong, such as moving too much when the judge pets her during the "stand for exam" exercise, you will not get a UDX leg that day, even though you do the other 10 or so exercises correctly. This means not only is it a lot of work and hard, but I have to practice the open and utility exercises. That also puts me out of the obedience mood.

Maybe after Pie is old I will be back in the obedience mood. For now, I think agility is more fun for both of us.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bye-Bye Bosco!

Bosco the foster Malinois was adopted and went home to his new family on Sunday. The family consists of a husband, wife, and 14 year old son, plus a resident dog. Their old Belgian Sheepdog (long coated black variety) recently died, and they wanted another dog like him. It turns out Bosco was just what they were looking for.

I got a phone call yesterday from his new family telling me he is fitting right in and that they couldn't be happier with him.
Bosco was a nice boy, but four dogs is too many for one person (me.) He is getting more attention at his new home. Best of luck to Bosco and his new family!

I took a picture with his new family, but did not get permission to post it (couldn't bring myself to ask) so I've cropped the family's heads off. I think the son's smile says a lot, though. I also like how Bosco kept his bone for the picture.

Good boy, Bosco!

Happy Birthday Dad!

I'm glad you enjoyed your birthday! I hope you enjoy your carrot cake at work. Enjoy your day off. Lots of enjoying and joy to go around.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I found a foxtail in Fancy's eye. We took an Easter walk in the local hills and Fancy isn't having fun unless she is tramping through the brush. Pie also goes into the bushes, but it is Fancy who finds the thickest bushes to run through.

I didn't notice anything after the walk, but right as I was getting into bed, I saw her eye was red and watery. I couldn't see any irritation, but just to be sure, I pulled the eyelid up and the lower eyelid down, and found this. I didn't find the penny in her eye. That would be wierd. It is just there to show the size of the foxtail in her eye.

It was already embedding itself into the skin on the inside of her eye socket. I was able to pull the skin away from the eyeball using her long hair, and then push the foxtrail within grabbing distance by pushing on the outside (furry part) of the skin. It still took several grabs, but I got it.

Lucky for me Fancy is so easy to handle, and not squirmy like Pie, since it was only me attempting the procedure. Just to see what would happen, I tried pulling Pie' skin under her eye down, but she had no fur to grab, so I couldn't do it! Fancy's skin actually pulls really far away from her eye.

I feel very fortunate to have found the evil foxtail before it did any damage because if I hadn't found it, it might have worked it's way all the way into her skin and the vet might not have found it and it could have caused a huge infection that could have killed her. And I don't really think that is exaggerating either. Here is an article from Leerburg about the dangers of foxtails. http://leerburg.com/foxtail.htm Also, several people on a web board that I frequent told me they personally know dogs who have died from foxtails (all living in CA.) So if you have foxtails in your area, check your dogs after walking in areas with these deadly plants.

I am happy to have my healthy Fancy here with me today. And today I checked her and Pie all over for additional foxtails and found two on Fancy, ready to begin embedding- one in her armpit and one in her toes, but none on Pie. Fancy's coat traps foxtails, while I think Pie's repels them. Fancy went right to sleep after her "procedure."

Happy Easter

The weather was nice here in SoCal on Easter. Maybe almost too nice as mom and I got hot on our walk on "the road."

I couldn't decide which picture I liked better, so I've put both up. I used the timer on my camera to get us all in one picture.

The family members who reside in CA.

I took one of mom taking one of me!

Mom and Dad.

The dogs and I. My dress looks bunchy and Bloom looks... strange.

Thanks to Dad for cooking a yummy breakfast and to Mom for coming on the walk with me and the dogs. We captured some tadpoles (out of a stream that was drying up) for her class. Sadly, there were several hundred tadpoles who had already died due to the stream running dry.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Santa Cruz Trail

Pie being excited that she found the trail head.

This is the second time I've hiked this trail. The first time I did not bring my camera because I did not expect it to be so pretty. You start off on a wide dirt road, then branch onto an actual trail. The trail follows the creek and is shaded by lots of trees. Then it starts winding up into the hills and the vegetation becomes more typical California sagebrush. Next it traverses across a rock face and continues up though a mountain meadow and to another rock face. We did not make it as far as the first rock face this time.

The dogs had lot of fun playing in the creek. In many places the creek is deep enough to swim due to large rocks forming pools. Typically, my dogs would not stay on the trail and had to keep leaving it to play in the creek. I don't know why they like the water so much.

Kate and Border Collie Power were also with us. Here are pictures from our hike.

On the road. Pie had her water pack but didn't need it due to all the water along the trail.

Neither of these pictures are in focus, but both of them show how green the plants are along the creek. I even saw some ferns! To me it did not look like Southern CA at all. The first one does a little because you can see an oak tree. But there were plenty of non-oaks to be seen also.

Pie tucking along the trail, wondering what is taking us so long, no doubt.
Transitioning to the sagebrush.
A gardener snake that... um... surprised Kate. There were actually two but the other one slithered away. This one politely posed for his picture.
Over the side to play in the water. Come back!
Swimming in a deep spot.

A pretty flower.

Fancy poses on an odd rock.

Pie comes back to check on me. Notice her wet paw prints.
Heading back.


More scenery. Fancy jumps from a bank as Pie waits just long enough in order to land right on top of Fancy for maximum badness.
Pie pulls a big stick up out of the ground to play with. Fancy helped pull it up.

Then Pie abandoned the big stick and picked up this smaller one. Fancy quickly discarded her twig and attempted to take over Pie's prize.

Another pretty flower.Power hangs onto a rock for dear life. There are not many pictures of Power because she was walking on leash behind us.

The dogs had fun jumping off the rocks into the water in this spot.

This creature was sneaky. I think it is a skink. But I don't know what kind. If you look very closely, you can see legs in the picture, but at the time, neither Kate or I could spot any legs. My first glance of him made me think rattlesnake due to the coloring, but upon closer inspection (from a safe distance) we could see it was some kind of lizard thing. Obviously, there are many clues he is not a rattlesnake. Not only does he not have rattle, and has a body and a tail, but his head is also not nearly wide enough.
After I was done taking pictures of him, I spotted his friend behind us.
You can clearly see his front leg, but this is with the zoom, and I couldn't see it at the time. I am sorry to say I do not find this creature to be very attractive. The snake was much more elegant and beautiful.

The gang and I. Bosco did not come. I'm not sure how much endurance he has, plus, I do not like to hike with dogs on leash and he would have needed to stay on leash. The backpack is my camelbak. It worked quite well.

Bye for now!

I am sure I will be back. Someday I will make it further!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Home At Last

I've actually been home since Sunday (well, late, late Saturday) but I'm only updating now, and only because my loyal readers are demanding it.

Obviously I did not freeze to death in a snowbank, although there were still snowbanks available. We were snowed on once and although it stung my eyes, the snow did not stick. I also did not get frostbite, but my lips did get chapped.

There is too much to mention here regarding my adventures in the secret location, but evacuating the burning building while under attack (I had to leave my uneaten MRE behind,) building the never ending 300 foot (radius) cordon through the woods and over the snowbanks, and discovering that even though I am the shortest person in the shop, I can still walk the fastest (those people are so slow!) are among the things I will mention.

Also, on the plane ride home, I got picked to fly on the flight deck. Not only is is neat to see all the pretty buttons and toggle stitches whose purposes can't even be guessed at, but it is also much more comfortable. There is a nice big PADDED bench and plenty of legroom. Plus a five point harness. Since I'm not flying and therefore don't need to be held immobile in the event of a crash, why did I need a harness? For safety? If so, shouldn't everyone on the aircraft have a harness? Or are the poor saps unlucky enough to be flying in the back not important enough? Just wondering. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my loadmaster friend who gave me the hookups for the nice seat. I enjoyed watching our progress on the screen with the little airplane cutout flying over what looked like a Mapquest map. It reminded me of that game "TakeOff." It was also cool to see we had a woman pilot. I don't think I have ever been discriminated against for being a female, but it is still neat to see that the girls are allowed to do all the same things as the boys. I don't think I could ever fly a plane, and this was only confirmed while watching the night landing. We swung out over the ocean and approached the runway. It had lights on either side and looked way too short. And everything was dark, except for the runway lights. Very tricky. I think landing during the day would be hard enough. It was super cool to watch the landing out the front windshield, or what ever it is called in a C-130.

Now I'm home and the dogs seemed to take the whole thing pretty well. Even Fancy. The pet sitter did a good job and maybe she is finally figuring out that I always come home. Pie got really fat. Here is a picture of fat Pie and normal Pie.

Pie's big show is just over a week away so I am quickly trying to get her back into shape.