Sunday, May 31, 2009

Did That Guy Just...

steal a bicycle? Since I've been on the injured list I haven't been running at lunch like I usually do. One day I was bad and drove to Wendy's for lunch. I used the drive thru then parked in an out of the way spot to eat in my car and read my book.

Just as I was pulling into my spot, I saw a guy walking along, carrying a skateboard. He was middle aged, if that has any relevance to the story. Just as I spotted him, he spotted a bicycle. This bicycle was leaning up against a wooden back yard fence, next to two trashcans. I would describe it as an alley between the parking lot and the back yard.

I was fairly certain it wasn't his bike because when he spotted it, his body language was very similar to Craig's when he was playing the robber in my production of "Hero Dogs" and he saw the cash on the way. Then he (back to my story, and no longer talking about Craig) strolled over to the bike and glanced around. In his casual glancing he spotted (enough spots in this story for 101 Dalmatians) me watching him. His response was to coolly stroll away.

But then he came back, eyeballed the bike again, got on while holding his skateboard and rode away. So, the question is, did he steal the bike, and if so, should I have done anything about it?

No one deserves to have things stolen from them. I've had my purse, my car radio and my entire CD collection stolen, as well as money in the form of a hit and run when I became responsible for the insurance detectable. I know the feeling of anger and the feelings of injustice and "why should someone take something that belongs to me?" So if this guy was steeling the bike, it was not cool. BUT, leaving your bicycle unsecured in an alley in Oxnard is not very smart. And leaving it next to trashcans is even less intelligent, because it gives the impression that you no longer want it and are throwing it away. For all I know, the previous owner WAS throwing it away.

Therefore, the first doubt was, "Is the bike up for grabs since it was out in the trash, or had its owner just parked it there for some reason?"

The second doubt is, "How do I know this guy isn't the owner?" Obviously I did not think he was, but if I had said, "Hey- is that your bike?" he would have said "yes" and then what? And even if he had said "No, I'm liberating it from its abusive owner" then what would my options have been?

Maybe I should have just called 911. "Yes, hello 911? I'd like to report a possible theft in progress. Of a bicycle parked next to some trash cans in an alley. In Oxnard. The guy riding away on the bike might not be the legal owner." If the police thought my concerns were valid, the suspect would have been long gone, pedaled away into oblivion by the time they arrived.

And my final concern was if I did say anything to the suspicious individual, or even appear to be watching him too closely, he might decide to abandon the bicycle AND skateboard (I wonder if that was stolen too?) and trade up for a 2006 Buick Rendenvous. I know there is a poignant quote about the only thing evil needing to flourish is good men (ie- people) doing nothing... but I am sorry to say I did not feel safe confronting him, and while stopping evil is not about keeping yourself safe, I guess I decided the possible theft of a (possible?) bicycle wasn't worth a possible confrontation leading to possible violence. Plus, no matter the outcome of the confortation, it might have made me late getting back from lunch.

I'm not sure that was the best decision, but getting back to my original concerns, I don't even know for sure he was stealing the bicycle.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


You know how you are just jogging along, thinking you'll probably go 3 and a quarter miles for the second time this week, and you'll hold off going 3 and a half miles until next week, and you don't want to think too much about how far you'll go because so far you've only done just over a mile, and you're actually feeling pretty good (must be those mythical endorphins) and all of the sudden just as your entire weight comes down supported by one leg, your knee cap pops out of place and zooms around and suddenly you don't have a leg to stand on (so to speak) and since you temporarily no longer have a knee cap, your leg collapses and you hit the ground hard because you were caught completely by surprise and the pain is so great you might throw up and the only thing you are thinking besides "ARG!" is "Seriously? Because that was my GOOD knee." and the horrible twisting sensation totally grosses you out and also the popping sound was nasty and as you writhe in pain you wonder if the security cameras are picking this up? No? What, that has never happened to you before? Ah well, that's ok, it's happened to me enough for all of us.

Then, after this happens, depending on the severity of the injury, I hobble around for the next few days. I think the longest was approaching two weeks. I think there is something extra wrong with limping along at work when you work for the military. Like maybe just limping so noticeably is putting your entire career in jeopardy.

I did agility this weekend, but I couldn't run. At least by the time the weekend rolled around I could walk. Pie and Fancy both know "go" and "out" so I was able to hobble along in their wake and tell them what to take while steering from behind. Kind of like the second fireman on the huge fire truck who steers the back half of the truck. I'm hoping by next weekend (Memorial Day) I'm back to 100% since I have four (yes, four) days of agility in a row. Right now walking I'm at maybe 75% but only 45% running. I can't bend the knee more than 90 degrees. I prop the leg up using my other leg while sleeping. Except last night I used a dog toy to keep the knee bent. I knew there was a reason I keep the dogs around.

Besides the fact that I'm injured and I hope it doesn't decrease my stamina by the time I'm able to run again, this really messed up my plans for next week. I was given a special four day pass for doing well during the inspection, and I was planning all kinds of fun activities. Such as hiking. I suppose now I will have to change my plans. Maybe I'll see a movie instead. I'd rather be hiking.

Some dogs have luxating patellas. However, it never seems to bother them nearly as much. I suspect that is because when one knee goes bad they have three others to choose from. Lucky dogs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our Trip to PA

I traveled to PA for my Grandfather's Memorial Service. You can read about my journey out there here:

The memorial service was a tribute to Grandpap's life. His family was there, as well as some of his old neighbors. We gathered in the chapel as his children said the ways their dad influenced their lives and what he meant to them. The priest, a relative of Grandpap's, said prayers. Then we went to the grave site and others got a chance to say their feelings. Everyone was very sad.

Afterwards we went to the restaurant Grandpap frequently took visiting relatives to and we enjoyed each other's company. Then we went to Uncle Ed's house for some reminiscing and family time. We even watched some old home videos, which I enjoyed. Laura got to play with her little cousins, which she enjoyed.

The Whole Gang- thanks to Uncle Ed's TriPod

I haven't seen that side of the family in a few years, so it was very nice to catch up with everyone. Of course, I wish it could have been under happier circumstances... Thank you to Uncle Ed and the rest of the family who organized the service and the family time. I think it was all very nice and fitting.

The next day Dad, Claire, Laura, Pete and Aunt Anne and I all went to Pittsburgh. First we stopped at "The Bluffs," which is the best scenic overlook I've ever been to. Then we went downtown to the Soldier's and Sailor's Museum where we looked at historic artifacts and found Dad's great-great uncle, who volunteered for the Civil War. Well, the Uncle wasn't there, but his name was. After that we went to the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. I've never been before. I was quite impressed. We went up to the top, then came back down and toured the free Nationality Rooms. Turns out they actually have classes in there. Very interesting.

Laura Running at The Overlook.

The day after that we flew home. The trip home was much better. We got good seats on the plane, didn't have to pay to check our luggage due to being military, and out gates were close and not at opposite ends of the airport. Our luggage even came out first. Nice.

Laura Guards Granddad's Bag.

Overall it was a very good, if short, trip.

All of the photos can be seen here. None have been cropped so if you want to do that, feel free. Be sure to view all 10 pages!

Living on opposite sides of the county from each other, Grandpap and I didn't spend very much time together. But he did come on several vacations with us, and he did come to visit us in CA occasionally, and when I took a Hop to Pittsburgh a few years back, I got to visit him then. We corresponded the old fashioned way- by letters. I know G/P liked my little drawings, because he always told me he did. Other than saying that, I think I will keep the rest of my feeling private.

PS- Thanks to Aunt Monica and Uncle Brian for allowing me to stay in their house, and especially to Deborah for giving up her bed to me! That was very kind of you.

PSS-The pictures I posted got a little distorted when I resized them, so if they look funny, that is why.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pie Holds Her Ground

Pie does not like the lawn mower in the same way I do not like the lawn mower. It is obnoxiously loud and she and I would both rather be somewhere else. We are not afraid of it, we just don't care for it.

I have a gardener because I rent and it is included in the rent. I had the front door open with the screen closed. I came out of another room which I had been in a while to find Pie standing guard at the front door. As the gardener pushed the obnoxious machine closer then pulled it back then pushed it closer, Pie held her ground, to make sure the strange man and noisy contraption did not gain unauthorized entry into our home. She didn't threaten him or act tough, she just stood her ground. But it was not normal, happy, waggy Pie. Her posture was stiff, her ears were back, and the most notable for Pie, her tail was hanging straight down, not moving a bit, with out her natural gentle curve. She was obviously most unhappy.

When I made my presence known to her, she gave up her post and came towards me wagging, as if she felt since I was around I could be in charge of repelling the possible intruder. I think her behavior in this situation is extremely appropriate. She didn't like it, but she did her job, and did it well.

Now, if the gardener had attempted to break in and use the running lawnmower as a shield, I'm not sure what Pie's response to that would have been. But I am sure no one has ever tried to break into a home using a running lawn mover. At least not around here.

Car Wash

I washed my car today. Some might not think that is blog worthy, but those people must not know me that well. I had to scrub pretty hard to get all the splattered bugs off from my Sacramento trip. Maybe next time I'll give the Pam a try.

Pie and Fancy kept me company laying about in the front yard.

I have yet to find out if the washing was a success. If I don't get better gas mileage like Dad says, I'll never wash it again.


Imagine an echo that doesn't actually come back. What would that sound like? Probably like the comments I receive on this blog. So if you are one of the people who get all antsy when I don't write anything... how do I know you are actually reading anything?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lost Dogs

Some people might be surprised to know I have a history of loosing my dogs. But only for short periods of times...

Sheba got lost once or twice. Once when she ran away while off leash. She came back at two in the morning covered in burrs, barking to get let into the yard. Another time she ran out of the front yard, but we chased her down that time. The Duster really came through for us.

Bloom got lost one of the first days in my new apartment. One of the guys I work with was helping me out by bringing my new 'fridge from Lowes in his pickup and I went to meet him outside. Who should I see sniffing a tree but Bloomie. Apparently he could squeeze between the bars on the fence. I put up chicken wire the next day.

Fancy cruised the neighborhood a few times. She was turned into the shelter for escaping. No surprise she could easily jump out of my patio with its four foot brick wall. She was only out there to go potty, but once at night I put her out and fell asleep. I woke up to only one dog in the "yard." I ran around at one am looking for her and found her at the end of the street. The close end. She jumped out of the yard only a few times and never went far, and then became very bonded and had no desire to leave. Unless we are at my parent's house and Mom and Molly go on a walk without her. Then she scales the brick wall taller than I am, or squeezes through the bars that are about 6 inches apart and catches up. You can see a video of that here. It is the first half.

Which brings me to the real point about Lost Dogs. My dogs get lost in my own home.

Bloom got stuck under the bed once and because he is deaf, couldn't hear me calling. I'm lucky I ever found him. Another time he followed me into the shed, but didn't follow me back out, and I closed him in there.

Fancy ALWAYS follows me into the bathroom, but when I leave, sometimes she is asleep. The door swings closed behind me and now Fancy is stuck in the bathroom.

Bosco actually fit into this pattern quite well because he would nose his way into the bathroom, the door would swing shut behind him, and then he would be stuck in there. I'd call for him, but he wasn't a very noisy dog, so he would quietly wait for me to figure it out and come rescue him.

When this happens to Pie, I usually hear her banging around. In fact, Pie has never been lost. She has no desire to run like Sheba. She isn't an escape artist like Fancy, and she is way too big to follow me somewhere and not be noticed like Bloom.

Unless someone steals her, you will never see Pie on a Lost Dog poster. And if someone did steal her, they would probably name her Red Chief, and I'd get her back right quick.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Adventures at the Big Dog Show

I've been home for almost a week now, but I've been unable to get up the stamina needed to blog about my trip. It was a long trip and lots happened, hence the need for stamina. I decided the best way to approach the matter is to start from day one. If I seem to loose focus along the way it is because Pie is under my chair with a very loud squeaky toy. I bought it for her at Petco when I bought the dog food. I spoil her. This toy is hard rubber and is shaped like a football with spikes. She gets endless pleasure from chomping it. Loudly. I had to take it away from her when I was watching a DVD earlier (season four of Battle Star Galatica. What will happen in Season 4.5- the Final Season?!? It comes out June 1st, oh boy!) Oh good, she has finally stopped, but only to .,lk,/. ,l\;mkmmm place it on my keyboard. I will have to send her and her toy away.

Day One

I packed up the car and perspired gently due to the temperature being around 95. Which might not be hot for Santa Clarita, but it is boiling for being within 10 miles of the ocean. Crazy. I tried to remember everything. I brought more clothes than I usually wear in a month. I also brought the agility stuff, the obedience stuff, the x-pen, the shade, the directions, the camera, the dogs, the new iPod car player, the cell phone charger, the camera battery charger, the cash, the hotel conformation and so much other stuff I am lucky there was room for me, much less the dogs. I left Bloom with Kate and head off around 11:30.

Coming down the Grapevine I was treated to the depressing sight of a whole lot of nothing. For miles and miles.

But hark! What is this? It is the Adventure of the Secret Government Facility! I pulled off the road and left the engine running in case I get chased by black helicopters that fly without making a sound. I crept up to the fence and started snapping pictures. The black helicopters sneak up on me (they do that, you know) and the mean men got out and deleted my pictures and this is the only one I have left.

I've driven the 5 between LA and San Francisco before, so I've seen this fence. It is very odd to me because it is very tall. You can see where it has been made taller. Two things make the fence odd. 1) The top of the fence (which you can't really see in this picture) points inward. As if it is trying to keep something very large IN. And 2) The fence goes for a while, then it just ends. It hasn't fallen down, it doesn't curve inward, it just stops. Very strange. Anyone with better problem solving skills than me want to take a guess?

When I got home, I used my highly developed Google skills to search "Crow's Landing" (which is an exit near the fence) "I-5," and "fence." I was directed to a site called Because all the good stuff that is above top secret is posted on the Internet in such an obvious location. Some of the posts speculated it is an alien dissection facility and others claimed it was a Navy secret aircraft testing facility. No one seemed bothered by the fact that the fence ended and didn't actually encompass the entire facility.

Only one post made sense. And it mentioned something I noticed on my way back when I was on the side of the road closer to the fence. The fence isn't actually even chain link. In fact, it reminded me of a golf course fence designed to keep balls from hitting cars. But there was no golf course. Turns out there is a trash incinerator behind the fence and the fence is to keep trash from blowing onto the freeway and causing problems. The top of the fence is designed to keep something in after all. Trash. How boring. But wait! There is something sinister going on. This person claims dangerous toxins are being released into the atmosphere because the incinerator burns rubber and plastic. So you might want to keep your windows closed when you approach Crow's Landing on the I-5. And by the way, I cross checked the trash idea also using Google and it checked out because I found another website complaining of the potential for toxins in this area.

After surviving the booooring drive, we arrived at our Motel 6. Fancy made herself comfortable on the spare bed. Some people were worried the Motel 6 in this area of Sacramento might not be safe, so I did my best to be safe. I didn't dawdle outside and I was prepared to tell anyone who might ask that Pie was not friendly. However, her madly wagging tail and straining to get at the person might give the game way. I therefore prepared a line about how "She always acts like when she is about to bite because biting makes her happy." How many crooks do you think scope out their victims far enough in advance to determine if the victim's dogs are going to be a problem to their criminal endeavours. If "my" crooks took this approach, I'd be ready. Motel 6 rooms have gotten more and more sparse. Not only did this one not have a mini-fridge, which I no longer expect, but it also didn't have a clock radio, or any type of clock, for that matter.

The next day was herding at the Specialty. I was not entered in herding as Pie would rather chew on the sheep than tell them where to go. A good herding dog will politely bite a sheep that disobeys a command "Excuse me, I said go left- CHOMP!" but Pie prefers the "I'm not going to bother telling you what to do, I'll just go straight to the biting if that is ok with you" approach. I think maybe I had a boss like that once. It isn't ok with the sheep, and it also isn't ok with the rules of herding, so we went to tour downtown Sacramento instead.

I had trouble finding a good parking place. Sacramento is full of one way streets. I followed the "Parking" signs, but I kept ending up in the far right lane when the parking was on the left and vise versa. At one point I found a lot and asked the attendant if I was close to the capitol building. She said no and gave me directions and I passed the Capitol Building in less than two full blocks. I suppose my definition of "close" is different than others.

Little did I know this was leading me straight towards the Adventure of the World's Unsafest Parking Garage. I found a garage that was "valet" parking because they crammed the cars in all over the place and blocked all the other cars in. You left your keys behind so they could move your car to let others out. But that wasn't what made it unsafe. We will come to that later.

The dogs and I got out (leaving my keys behind) lathered on the sunscreen (much to the amusement of the parking attendant with the dark complexion) and headed out to see the sights. This is one of the first ones we saw. It was some sort of legal building or court but I forget exactly which. One of the figures is a kind of skinny cow. It is on the right.

Here is the California State Capitol. Very picturesque.

Somewhat gruesome too, upon using the zoom lens. Why is a naked man riding a horse getting attacked by a lion? I fail to see the connection between this and legislature in California. Maybe it is symbolism...

Ah! Now the Capitol is even more picturesque. It was so hot this day that I could not get Fancy's tail undroopy or Pie's ears to stand up more. Hot dogs.

The Great Seal of California (or something along those lines) outside the front doors.

This bear is on top of a pylon that keeps vehicles from ramming the building and doing other unauthorized things.

While I am taking a picture of a tree, Fancy and Pie are dreaming of determining if the ground squirrels in Sacramento taste any different than the Southern CA variety. Not that they would know. The only time either one of them caught anything is when Pie catches insects. Happily, she (usually) spits those back out.

Many of the trees in the Capitol Mall were planted on specific occasions. Others are of note because they are part of the tree tour.

This is the view you get of down town when you are sitting on the capitol steps.

This is the view you get if you pose your dogs in front of the Capitol doors and it is really hot. The ground/ floor was granite or some other polished smooth stone and Pie left sweaty paw prints. Yep, Pie left her mark on the Capitol.

After taking this picture, we hung out on the cool Capitol steps for a little while. I say they were cool because the stone was in the shade and the temperature was somewhat cooler. While we were sitting there, I witnessed democracy in action! It was the Adventure of the Demonstration, the Rally and The Celebration! A large contingency of Protesters With Signs marched up the the Capitol chanting "No More Cuts" and waving their signs. Once they arrived they milled around for only a few seconds then dispersed. They were protesting the cuts to Metal Disability Support Services. I don't know the more official name.

Then, off to my left, the Women's Something Or Other in Conjunction with Planned Parenthood kicked off complete with a speaker riling the crowd up with a bull horn. And on my right was the Earth Day celebration. There were booths giving out info on how to celebrate Earth Day Everyday. Solar panels seemed to figure in prominently. The Demonstration, Rally and Celebration all coexisted peacefully. Maybe it wouldn't have gone as well if the groups were more in opposition to each other.

After watching this democracy in action, I decided to head back to the parking garage to change into my walking shoes. My walking sandals were not agreeing with me. Once at the parking garage, I noticed some very strange sounds. As I changed my shoes, I finally determined the sounds were coming from the ceiling. The Adventure of the World's Unsafest Parking Garage was about to be thrust upon me. I continued to change my shoes as I contemplated the sounds. I noticed the ceiling was wood. I thought about how it must be an office up there and the sounds was someone walking around, but the sound just didn't match up, in fact, it sounded much more like something was....ROLLING around up there. All of the sudden it clicked, and I remembered the ramp I had passed on the way in. Yes, there was something rolling around on that wooden floor up there. It was several thousand pounds of steel and plastic. It was automobiles.

I went upstairs and engaged in the Adventure of the World's Smallest Bathroom With the Biggest Open and Exposed Window (more on that later) and while up there I took this picture. I wish you could see the floor better. It is only wood. And it moved when I walked on it. Several thousand tons of cars parked on top of a wood floor that moves when a person walks on it.... I was glad when I finally drove out of there.

So, back to the bathroom. I had the dogs and I had to use the facilities. The parking guy wouldn't let me leave them in the car (it was cool in there and they could be in their crates, but I'm sure it is still a liability for them) to go run and find a bathroom, so when I explained what the problem was, he said I could use the one upstairs. Expect for the cars, there wasn't anything upstairs. I couldn't find the bathroom. There was one thing that looked like maybe it was enclosing an air duct, but after I searched everywhere else, I decided I'd better look in there before I concluded there was no bathroom and the parking guy just sent me up here to get rid of me.

Yep, it was the bathroom. More cramped than the airline restrooms. And unlike a bathroom on an airplane, the largest fixture of the room was a huge window. I mean it was really big. Like I could have fit a refrigerator through it. A side by side, and I could have put it through side ways and not even scratched the window frame. And even better, the window was open. Not that a pane of dirty glass would give me much privacy, but if the window had been closed, at least I wouldn't have been in danger of hearing the people on the street below talking about me. "Mommy, what is that lady doing up there?" Except the hypothetical kid wouldn't have had to ask because if anyone happened to be looking in my direction it would have been obvious. At least I'm not a man, because then I might have been risking arrest for indecent PUBLIC exposure. I kept myself covered as best as I could an made a hasty escape. You know it was hasty because I did not stop to take a picture of the world's smallest bathroom.

After taking all the sights in at the Capitol Building and Capitol Mall and all the associated memorials and statues, we began wandering around the rest of Downtown. I saw some interesting looking steps and followed them down and ended up in Chinatown. It was deserted, except for some people I could see eating in a restaurant. All the buildings were somewhat Chinese in appearance, including this telephone booth. The telephone had been removed.

We walked down to the river and the dogs really, really, wanted to go swimming. I was able to say no to Fancy because she was still all fluffy from her pre-specialty bath and she had to look good when she met the Malinois people. I was able to say no to Pie because I didn't know what kind of nasty things were in the river.

The bridge is a drawbridge. The boat is a paddle boat. I ended up walking over the bridge into Old Town Sacramento. On the way back I found a tunnel that went under the freeway. However, just to be clear, let me tell you this is not the part of the bridge I walked on. This must the the par that leads OUT of Old Town, because the river is behind Old Town.

This is a strange building on the other side of the river. I do not know its function nor its association.

There was a railroad museum we were unable to go into due to the species of my furry companions, but we found this interesting artifact out back. It appears to be a giant scooper thing.

The buidings facing you in this picture are recreations, while the buildings on the right are originals. The street dips down because the entire city was raised up sometime in the past due to flooding. The front of these brick buiding's first story is actually the second story as seen from the back. The lowest part of the dip is the original street level. Had I been alone on this tip, I would have gone into the Sacramento History Museum and found out more. But if I had been alone, I wouldn't have been in Sacramento at all, since I was there for a dog show.

The Pony Express started in Sacramento. The rider is carrying a whip, and not a cutlass, as I originally thought. The whip makes a lot more sense. Unless the first Pony Express rider engaged in piracy as a hobby.

Another view of Old Town.

This is the headquarters of PBS&J. Perhaps you recognize that name, Dad? I did not know they were headquarted here. PBS&J designed our bases' new parking ramp a few (5? 6?)years ago. At the time I was working as an Engineering Assistant and I worked a little with the PBS&J employee who was sent to make sure the ramp was being built to the specificaitons they designed. At the compltion of the project I was given a company polo shirt which I then passed along to my dad.

I had lunch in Old Town, secured some water for the dogs, then had some ice cream, got the dogs some more water, watched a train engine push a train car onto a siding, walked around some more, then headed back to the regular downtown. I walked back though a tunnel, (following a helpful sign that said "To Downtown") which was a much more direct route. I then consulted a map mounted near the tunnel showing prominent downtown features. I located the Govenor's Mansion and made my way there. And here it is.

Once again I couldn't go inside, but it was still hot, and I had walked a little ways, so the dogs and I found a bench and took a rest. Eventually a volunteer came along to pet the dogs and Fancy shed all over his dark blue uniform and Pie left toxic Malinios slobber all over it. He pet the dogs for a long time and I tried to make my escape gracefully several times, but it didn't help that Fancy had drapped herself on his lap. It is really great that Pie has always loved everyone, but it is even more satisfying that Fancy has learned to trust friendly stangers, and seek out their attentions. Eventually I threw dirt in the guy's eyes, grabbed the dogs and sprinted for it. Not quite... One interesting thing he told me (other than the fact that he knew Fancy liked to play with balls- she told him) was the Govenor's Mansion was never designed to be lived in. The architect that designed it was quite full of himself and designed it to be a tour. I hope to fufill the architect's desire and tour it someday.

After the Govenor's Mansion we wandered in the direction of the World's Unsafest Parking Garage. I think my Ped-o-Meter said we walked around 8 miles total. Not too bad. I had my hat and my sunscreen and did not get burnt.

Back at the hotel, Fancy found her favorite spot under the funiture. As I type now, she is under my computer desk.

Day Two

Day Two started off rather unfortunately with the Adventure of the Twilight Zone Freeway. Like most things in the Twilight Zone, it was not a happy experience. This was our day for agility at the Big Specialty Show. It was All Breed, meaning all breeds were welcome, not just Malinois, like at the rest of the show. I had my directions ready, and I noticed they said, "Take the I-80 Buisness Freeway to the 99." But the directions didn't say which way to go on the 80. So before getting on the freeway, I asked the lady at McDonalds where I stopped to get good treats for the dogs. She told me to go west, so west I went. I went west until it was clear I was about to go to San Francisco. I consulted my road atlas, but it was no help. I turned around and went East. But I was too smart to drive East aimlessly. I exited the freeway to ask for directions. The person at the gas station told me I needed to be on the Business 80 and gave me directions on how to get there. I followed the dirctions and when I finally found the Business 80, realized once again I didn't know which way to go. So I picked a direction and drove for a bit then got off and asked for directions agian. Apparently I STILL WAS NOT ON THE BUNISESS 80. The man told me I needed to get on the Business 80. I told him I had no idea what the bunisess 80 was and that I had been east and west on the 80 and I still didn't know how to get on the 99. He told me to take the circle to get on the freeway and stay in the right lane and that would take me to the Business 80 and then the 99. Sure enough, when I took the on ramp (or circle, depending on who you are) I soon came to a sign for the Business 80. I had been driving around for 45 minutes looking for this freeway. I was beyond frustrated. Apparently there is an 80 East and and 8o West and a completly different freeway, the Business 80 that doesn't run east or west because it is a loop. It only interstects the othe 80 in one spot. That freeway gave me trouble the entire week.

I had left in pleanty of time, but by the time I made it to the agility show, I had missed my walk through which allows you to become framiliar with the course before you run it. At least I got the chance to watch the small dogs run first. It ended up not bothering either Fancy or Pie and both dogs had Qualifying runs. Pie got first place in both her standard and jumpers classes and also qualified in Excellent A FAST.

All the runs can be seen here.

Saturday Fancy Standard Fancy Standard at ABMC Specialty

Day Three

Day Three was the second day of the agility trial. On this day I found out if I had gone one more block before entering the freeway, I would have found the Buisness 80 and avoided endless aggrivation. In agility today Pie did not Q in Jumpers (down bar) or Standard (wrong course on wrong side of tunnel) but she did finish her Excellent FAST title. XF. Fancy did well on Sunday.

Later I found out Pie won the High Scoring Agility Malinois for Exellent.

It was really neat to see lots of different Maliois doing agility.

Here is a pictue of us with the judges and our ribbons.

Day Four

On the agenda for day four was a Malinois only obedience trial. Pie was entered in Utility (the highest level) and Open (the second highest.) The obedience ring was on the grounds of the host hotel, which used to be an air base. It was deactivated during the last BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) and the base facilites were sold to civilian developers. The officer's quarters were turned into large hotel cottages, and the enlisted dorms were more normal motel rooms.

I do not have any pictures from this day, but there will be proofs avaliable to view later. In obedience, the club holding the trial and the jude due their best to make sure the ring is not contaminated in any way. As Pie and I were stetting up for our first exercise, we had The Adventure of the Forign Substance in the Obedience Ring. Yes, it was "Dog Mess." Luckily for me, it does not bother Pie, but some dogs (Fancy is one) are quite "poop phobic" and will not go anywhere near "Number 2." This makes it difficult to complete the obedience routine. At a break in our routine, I pointed out the intruder, and the offending object was removed.

Pie did not have a qualifying score in Utility. We failed the directed retrieve, the articles, and the signals, plus possibly the stand for exam. Happily, our Open attempt was better and Pie did everything correctly and came in first. She won a pretty "Welcome Friends" sign. She also won High Scoring ILP dog and that prize was a pretty plague with a Malinois.
The high scoring dog in the trial went to a dog (and his handler) that Pie and I know from Southern California. Robert and Joker did very well. And it was their first AKC obedience show too.

We also did rally this day, but not too much exciting happened for us there. Pie was distracted and not working her best.

After rally the club put on a Canine Good Citizen test. I helped out, posing as a "Friendly Stranger," and also a member of the crowd. If anyone reading this witnessed the GGC test, I was the one with the crutch. A really neat part of the day for me was meeting Jester, who is Bosco's brother! They don't look much alike, though. Jester and his human decided to enter the CGC test at the last minute and they passed! Good boy, Bosco's Brother! Jester is pictured below. I took many picturs of him to help his owner get his ILP. But now I can't find her email address. I'm sure I'll find it eventually...

After the CCG the Malinois Club had the annual club meeting. I did not attend since I am not a club member, but apparently they were trying to drum up business and I was roped into attending, with the dogs. It was in one of the hotel conference rooms. I tried to pick a seat out of the way. Just as the meeting was starting, a club member came in with her young son Toby- maybe 5 years old, and sat right in front of us. Uh oh. Cue the ominous music. Pie started whinning in anticipation and creeping close to the boy. He turned around and started petting her. Pie's tail began to thump on the ground. Loudly. Pie wiggled onto her back and pawed at him. She wiggled between the chairs upside down and got stuck. She nosed Toby, who responded. The he stopped petting her and she whinned some more. Then he started up agian but his time he had a plastic water bottle in his hand, one of Pie's most favorite toys. Her tail thumped loudly again and she whined some more. Toby lives with a few Malinois and speaks theigr language. He GAVE HER THE BOTTLE and then horribly loud chompin and cruching noises filled the room. I took the bottle away and tried to settle her down. Toby continued to pet her thorugh out the meeting, which she loved, but calming her down was impossible. Yes, it was the Adventure of the Small and Rowdy Boy and the Large and Rowdy Dog in a Very Serious Business Meeting. Luckily all presnt also own Malinois so they mostly seemed to understand. I'm not sure any of their Malinois have such a noisy tail though.

After the meeting was a general get together with the dogs and silly competitions. Pie and I won "Simon Says." There were three dogs left and Pie won when the rest of the dogs did not bark on command. Like that would ever be a problem with Pie. She was in the running for fastest Bobbing for Hot Dogs, Fastest Retrieve and Fastest Recall, but was edged out. She did win Longest Tail and might have come close for biggest ears and shortest coat, but the games were cut short due to fading daylight. She came in second in Best Trick with jumping through my arms made into a loop. The dog that won found a key his owner dropped. I expected the dog to pick up the key and hand it to his owner like Fancy would have, but instead he indicated it by laying down. Very professional, like the drug or bomb dogs do it.

The longest tail judging was quite thorough, with 2 judges going back and forth, stretching the tails out, deciding whether or not to include the hair (no) and measuraing the tail length against the hock. I knew Pie had what it took to win (mainly, a long tail) and in the end she pulled it off.

Day Five- The Final Day!

Day Five was the main day of the whole show, for most participants. It was the dog show type that people think of when they think of dog shows- pretty dogs trotting around the ring and being examined by the judge.

It was time for our fianl Adventure: The Adventure of the Imposter in the Breed Ring! Yes, Pie was the imposter.

Usually for a dog to be in the breed ring it needs to have AKC papers and not be spayed or neutered. But this was a Sweepstakes class. Those are non-regular and the club giving the show gets to make up the rules. The club said spayed or neutered dogs were eligable, as were dogs with out papers, in this one class only. Therfore, I enterd Pie in Working Sweepstakes. She is the dog in the photo in the middle with the wagging tail. The dog to our right won the class. That is not too surprising since she is already a champion. You can see more pictures here. They are proofs from the show photographer and I will buy some. If you are scolling through and looking for me, I am wearing a tan suit.

Pie and I did not do too badly in our first conformation class. Pie trotted nicely. I did have trouble showing her bite (meaning her teeth) to the judge. Pie was so excited by the prospect of the judge petting her, she wouldn't stand still to let me lift her lips up. And then when the judge started to "go over" her (meaning feel her up) I forgot to hold Pie's head and Pie mauled the judge. With her tongue only, but that is bad form. The dog is not supposed to put her tongue in the judge's ear. However, the judge was very nice and gave me time to reset Pie's legs into the correct positions so she could start going over her again, but then she saw it was hopless and sent us on our way to trot around the ring. She also probably saw that Pie wasn't in the running for a prize and she didn't have to examine her that closely. Even though Pie is pretty, she is a working bred dog and therefore does not look like the small, fluffy, pointy Malinois that win in the show ring. The techinical term is Pie is not very "typey." That means she prefers to write everything out with a pencil rather than a keyboard.

I did not expect Pie to "do anything" (as the jargon says) in conformation, because I know she is not typey, but I was happy to be able to give it a try.
Someone I met through an online Belgian list took this picture and the other one for me.

After the non-regular classes, the regular classes commenced. Here is a line up of Best in Show.

The dog with the lady in the gray suit at the back of the line won Best in Show Specialty, BISS. I think he is a dog from Canada, and I was told this was his first time showing in America. He has a lot more coat than Pie. I am happy to report he also won High in Trial in Herding and did agility also. I am happy to report his because the Malinois should be a working dog and too many show Malinois don't do anything exept trot around the conformation ring. They do well based on looks only, and they get bred so they produce pretty puppies, and eventually the Malinois is no longer a working dog. Like the American German Shepherds. Some people specualtate the Malinois is going the same way. So it is good for the breed that the dog that won BISS can also work.

I was not able to stay for the banquet because I had to be home by Monday so I could go to work. After hanging around a little longer I made the long drive home (even more boring in the dark) and arrived home around 11:30 Sunday night.

It was a great show and Pie, Fancy, and I had lots of fun on our Adventures.

Here is a picture of Pie and her loot. I am very sad I broke the pretty glass ornament right after the picture was taken. The large ribbon on the far left is not a prize, it was part of the Honor Parade. If you enter the Honor Parade you get a pretty ribbon with your dog's name and they read what you wrote about your dog and your entry money goes to Malionis Rescue.

As I was setting Pie up next to the wall, she thought it was handstand practice, so I let her do it and took a picture. Fancy wonders what all the fuss is about.
I hope everyone is satisfied with this post because it took me all night and my computer chair is uncomforatable and my back hurts. And now the spellchecker has stopped working...

This post was actually posted at 11:29. The 8 o'clock time must be when I accidentally hit "publish."