Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Free At Last!!

Knotty has finally been cleared of having distemper. Her tests kept coming back positive, after the effects of the vaccine should have wore off and no longer affected the test as a false positive. She seemed perfectly healthy, yet the darn test said she had distemper. I couldn't let her out of quarantine and jeopardize unvaccinated dogs. I finally found someone who knew something and recommended looking at IgM and IgG and bingo! The test showed not only is her immunity great, but she has not recently been exposed to the virus. So Knotty came out of quarantine and terrorized all the dogs and went on a little walk on the neighboring property. She carried a stick or part of a pine cone the entire time. When she went into quarantine she was 14 pounds and smaller than Blossom my mini poodle who is 14 inches tall. Now she is a hefty 22.5 pounds and maybe two inches taller than the poodle. Anyone want a Malinois puppy? She's a handful!

After Knotty finds a new home I'm going to be a puppy raiser for a local border collie breeder so when I have my puppy obedience class I can actually have some experience training puppies. The breeder is keeping two puppies to breed further down the road. By raising it, the pup gets to live in a house rather than a kennel. Then after I'm done with it, I send it back. And if I've trained it enough, I show it every so often (with the breeder paying the entry fees.)
Getting back to Knotty- she is really happy to be out of the box! But right now she is back in the box so I can update my blog. I think she is trouble (she was mean to Pie.) I wish her new owner luck- who ever that might be! Actually now she is back out of the box and is terrorizing Pie's toys.

Ocktober Fest

I was invited to an Ocktober Fest by two ladies my same age, so I figured I should be social and go. It was at a local place called Underwood Family Farms (sort of like Lombardies but larger.) Not that I'm a total cheapskate, but we had to pay $10 to get in and they closed in two hours. Then we payed another $10 for four tickets which got us four sample beers or wines.

I hate beer. It it gross. Gross. Gross!!! First I tired really dark beer. Upchuck city. I gave it to one of the other girls. Then I tried a Hefen- Wisen (I'm not looking up the spelling of that.) A tiny bit better, but I couldn't finish that either. Third I attempted a wine that was supposed to be fruity but was nasty. Passed that one along too. Finally I had a white wine that was drinkable, but barely.

We checked out some of the vendors, including a dog trainer that I've seen online, "Sit Means Sit." They have a special collar that they train with and sell. It is a shock collar. One of the girls got into a debate because she called it an e-collar (for electricity) but the people wanted her to call it a "remote collar" claiming an e-collar is the lampshade you put on a dog to keep them from getting at bandages and the such. I agree the lampshade is also an e-collar (for Elizabethan) but that a shock collar is also an e-collar. They wouldn't agree so we left. The next day I got my first Schutzhund magazine (comes with being in the club) and on the back there was "police k-9 equipment" being advertised, including... an "e-collar." And the picture did not depict something you can buy at the vets. So there.

In addition to harassing the dog trainers, we also did an Amazing Maize Maze. But they only called it a corn maze. That was fun.

They had many animals, including pygmy goat that climb large ramps that go over the places you walk between the other animals. I wonder if the goats ever take a toilet break up there and the people underneath end up having a bad day? While we were checking out the cow the farm closed and we were tossed out on our ear. Hmph!

I'm glad I was social, but I wish it had been a ice cream tasting fest. Beer- ugh!

Welcome to the Neighborhood

That is what one of the ladies at the Schutzhund Club who lives a few street over said to me the Thursday after the fires. I'll start at the beginning....
I was at work. It was around 11:30- lunchtime, but as usual, I was planning on eating my fiber bar at my desk. Cue ominous music.

"Ring, Ring!" (Actually it is more like this:)

Me: "Hello?"

Kate: "You need to come home now. There is a fire coming straight at us!"

Me: "What!?" (The "what" was used to express disbelief, but also served the function of getting more information. However, "What?!" is not the most intelligent thing to utter in such a circumstance.)

After getting more info, I decided I would go home on my lunch, pick the dogs up so they would be safe, and go back to work. However, once I left the coolness of the coast and got out of my car at the house, the wave of oven like heat and roaring Santa Anna winds proved that the situation was more dire than I thought. Brown smog like smoke billowed up from behind the hills and the temperature was 97. Yuck.

With Kate's insistence, I decided to stay home, which meant I had to cancel an important meeting at work. The good Lt. said I could request any assistance I might need, so I requested the C130 MAFS (fire fighting aircraft) from our base be sent over, but apparently that wasn't included in the offer.
There is a helicopter behind the power lines.
As the day grew hotter we watched the smoke get bigger and walked to the top of the hill behind our house to keep watch for flames. Ash filled the air and pieces of burnt material as long as my hand fluttered around.
Eucalyptus leaf?

On the TV we learned evacuations were taking place close to us, so we packed up the cars. I packed my computer (cpu only,) quilts, some over night clothes, artwork (as I said in an email- everyone knows in a disaster you bring the artwork. Especially if it is something large and framed and you are fleeing invading aliens.) and one trophy from each dog. Bloom's first novice (real) silver trophy from his first show, Fancy's High in Trial from the Tibetan Club, and Pie's little Schutzhund Trophy she won just a few days previously. I didn't bring any pictures because I have so many!

Our neighbor pulled all his vehicles out to the street so we went over to talk to him. He informed us the last fire that came through 5 years ago did not burn our house down, even though back then the trees and bushes were so over grown it was impossible to see the house. He said we had good brush clearance and a new roof so we would be fine. Also, he said he wasn't leaving and he never does. Apparently, the fire fighters are not always around at the time you need them, an it becomes up to you to save your own house.

All day fire trucks, police cars, trucks full of hand crews and way too many horse trailers to count roared up and down the street.

At two pm while I was at Kate's house we got a knock on the door. It was the sheriff telling us we were now under mandatory evacuation. We didn't have to leave, but he took down how many people where in the house and if we planned on staying or not. We stayed. Now that the roads were closed there was less traffic of the normal sort and even more emergency vehicles.
Our house was one of the 200!

The winds kept shifting directions, so we kept the TV on to see if we could tell where the fire was. The news was saying the fire started when a manure pile spontaneously combusted. You know it is hot out side when poop starts popping. (sorry)

A bit later we met up with another neighbor who told us five years ago our house did burn down and Kate got a bit overly excited. I didn't believe him, and sure enough, a third neighbor agreed with the first guy who said it didn't burn. The guy who said it did burn also said he had a fire hose and wouldn't let anything happen to us.

Maybe around three we walked up the hill again and while up there, a sheriff drove up the road on the other side of the barbed wire and told us we were under mandatory evacuation. Apparently he didn't know we had already been told. He had the unfortunate job of trying to communicate this information to the houses on the private drive that all have huge gates. We wished him luck. Before he left he informed us the fire had jumped the 23 several hours ago and was pretty close.
Dusk arrived and we could now see the flames. There were several fire lines, all approaching from different angles. We didn't leave because our escape route was clear. All the homes with the huge gates threw their gates open wide and hung out signs that said, "Please save our homes!" Well, there actually were no signs, but with the open gates you sure got the message. The gated community across from us did the same, so we used the opportunity to check things out. I was disappointed by the lack of huge houses, but the hill offered a good view of the fire.
From our front yard.
When the sun went down, instead of the "Sundowner" winds that people were dreading, the temperature dropped dramatically and so did the winds. The night became perfectly still. This stillness saved many homes. The winds never really came back, which allowed the fire to be brought under some measure of control. But that night was still tense because even without the winds, the fire was moving.

When full dark fell, Kate and I debated leaving. I was tired, and wanted to sleep, but we both couldn't have a nap, because someone has to be on fire watch. I thought we could take turns but she didn't' like that idea. She thought she'd make a decision at 10:30. I went to bed and around 12 she woke me up to get my opinion on if the fire was too close. She had been driving around looking at the fire lines the whole time. We went for a drive and it was much closer. Maybe two miles at the most. The closest it came was about a mile, which seems really close until you see how it burns up to someone's back door, only to be beat into submission at the last second.
Apparently is it hard to take pictures of a fire at night. Doesn't look very ominous does it? Ok- how about these two?

The fire was coming towards our house, then it turned west and began burning towards our escape route (and my friend who's house is where the Schutzhund Club trains.) Around 4 we decided to evacuate, not because our house was going to burn up, but because if the fire suddenly got really, super crazy, there was a small chance our route would be cut off.

This is when I packed Pie's toys. I knew she didn't care if they burnt up, because she would be just as happy with new ones, but Pie is my baby and the thought of her toys burning made me sad. Crazy dog lady.

We went to Denny's in Moorpark to have breakfast. The service was terrible! But the food wasn't bad.

Now the sun was up and there were still no winds. We drove back to our street, spoke with the officer at the road block who let us in and found a random fire man who told us our house was not in danger, so we could go to sleep. Ahhhhh! Sleep.
So I had a nap and when I got up, the fire was still burning and we were still under evacuation, but the danger was past. I did not unpack my car for several days, just to be safe. Fire trucks and trucks with hand crews still zoomed up and down the street. We drove around (staying out of the way) looking at the burn areas and seeing how close it came. We also noted how many horses did not get evacuated.

At the end of our street there was a water truck with two guys who set up a camp with chairs, a coffee pot and a tiny tent and lived there for about a week, way past the time the fire had moved on. I thought it strange. After they had left, an OES (office of emergency services) truck appeared, then left, then a truck full of young fire men who Kate eyeballed until I told her they were convicts. You should have smelt the rubber burn as she floored it.

On Wednesday while the fire was still burning the trash truck came and got every body's trash. I suppose it isn't only the mail that has high standards. Also on Wednesday it got up to 103 degrees. Which I'm sure the people in the good SCV phoo-hoo, but I'm guessing that is a record for Moorpark. On Thursday horses started re-appearing and all the rich people closed their gates. It has now been a week and except for the large burn areas, everything seems back to normal.

Our house is the black dot at the bottom. The approximate fire location is the red. According to gmaps pedometer, it was about 1.5 miles away.

Maybe I should ask for a fire hose for Christmas.
The only casualty at our house was the grapefruit tree lost a branch in the winds.
A few days after the fire the lingering smoke made pretty sunsets.
Sorry for the lack of formatting, but I'm not going to fight it now!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Won't See Me Until December

I just realized that my plans to drive my two dogs and I to the AKC Agility Nationals in March 2010 in Oklahoma may have a wrench thrown in the clogs. Or a technicality in the equation. Either way, the result is Fancy isn't qualified to attend!! You need to have 6 Double Qs and 400 points and I've been watching Pie's tally to be sure she makes it. I just checked and as of her last show she has 6 DQs and 404 points. Then I realized I should probably check on Fancy since she is entered in agility shows so infrequently. Imagine my surprise, nay- horror, to find that my dog who has qualified every year we have had no plans of attending is not qualified. Not by a large margin! She has only 2 DQs and only 259 points.

The end of the qualifying period is the last day of November. So if you don't see me until December, now you know why. I know she can get the DQs, but can we tally up 141 points in just a few weekends? We'll see... Come on Fancy! We need your best speed and highest consistency. Glory and fame await us in Oklahoma (that might be an oxymoron). But we won't have either if we aren't allowed to enter.

Maybe not quite glory and fame, but we like dramatics around these parts.

Speaking of dramatics, stay tuned for the fire report.

And in other agility related news, if we do make the 141 points, Fancy will have her Mach 3 before we are done.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pie's First Schutzhund Trial

Pie entered her first Schutzhund trial on Friday and Saturday. She was entered for her BH and OB1. You have to pass the BH before you can go on to compete in anything else. The BH is a temperament and basic obedience test. The OB1 is the same obedience routine as the dogs competing in Schutzhund 1 attempt, but she is allowed to do obedience only and does not have to compete in protection or tracking. To get the ScH1 title, you have to pass tracking, obedience, and protection all in the same day.

But since Pie isn't ready for the other two phases, we competed in obedience only. I always feel it is most honest to mention it was a very small trial, but I am still proud to say Pie had the High Score for Obedience. She also passed her BH.

I had one of my friends film everything, and I added explanations in the videos, so I won't go into everything here.

BH Test- Obedience

BH Test- Traffic Portion

The Obedience Routine

The BH was on Friday and I had eaten a dinner that was too big. I was also nervous, even though I'm not sure what I had to be nervous about, and I wasn't sure I could make it through the routine with out being sick. The thought of being sick made me more nervous, which made me feel more sick. I thought it wasn't going to be pretty, but I managed to survive.

As usual, Pie was a good dog!

Pie with her High Obedience Trophy
Pie and I with the judge.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's Official!!

I am now a professional dog trainer. Actually, tomorrow I will be a professional dog trainer, because I have a private lesson with my first paying client at 10 am tomorrow. She is getting a very good deal since she is my first client, and also because she convinced me to give obedience lessons to people who compete, and not just basic obedience for pets. So I didn't feel it was right to charge her full price, since I wouldn't be charging her at all if she hadn't convinced me otherwise.

So to all of you who think I'm strange for doing so much dog training, and attending so many shows... you might be right, but at least you now also see the realization of the goal I am working towards. Of course, I train and attend shows because it is fun and gives me something to do, but maybe it makes my family feel better if they can explain my obsessions as, "Ah yes. She's at a show this weekend. She has to maintain visibility to help establish herself as a professional dog trainer."

I am VERY excited to start training! Now, when people see me working my dogs and ask me, "Are you a dog trainer?" Instead of trying to explain that yes, I train my own dogs, but no, I don't train dogs for other people, I can say, "Yes! Let me sign you up!"

There is the nagging doubt that I might be a terrible instructor, but Kate reminds me that beginning people will definitely know less than I do, so it will all be good.

Hmmm... a professional dog trainer who competes always needs an "up and coming" new prospect. Can anyone say "Puppy!"? He, he...

Agility Demo

This is almost old news by now, but our base had a Family Day, and I volunteered the dog club I am a member of to do an agility demonstration. We had over 10 members and dogs come out. I used my equipment, which worked well. Except for the fact that my beautiful chute that matches my contact equipment and tire got lost. How do you loose a chute? It just have flown up and over the side of the stake bed truck, since I can't imagine anyone on base stealing it. I can't remember if I unloaded it on base or not. Since the day it was lost, I've been looking for it along the side of the road, including getting out to walk along and look it the very deep and over grown ditches that line several of the roads on the way into work. If I ever disappear, be sure to look for me in the ditches. They are seriously deep.

The demo went well. We had a huge crowd and people on base are still coming up to me and telling me how neat it was. I narrated and explained agility and also some information about each dog ruining. Mom, Dad, and Craig also attended Family Day and saw the demo, so they are all off the hook for coming to any agility functions for another few years.

If you find my chute, please let me know!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Have...

A pheasant, a poodle, and an eggplant toy.

The pheasant was in the back yard amongst Kate's agility equipment when I came home yesterday. I didn't even know we had these birds in So Cal. Since Mom didn't like the frog picture, I present a pheasant, which can serve as proof that I live in the country, replacing the frog in that role.

Blossom got a hair cut and shrunk and lost about 10 pounds. I told them to cut him like a Poodle. I present Blossom the Poodle! (He is much cuter in person.) I'm getting lots of comments along the lines of "He looks like a poodle!" which is silly to me because I've always said he is a poodle. What else would he be?

And Fancy does not want to be left out of this post.

I bought this toy for Pie because after Boscoe destroyed her light bulb toy I knew she missed having a toy that when she bit it, it would unpredictably shoot out of her mouth and bounce around the house. I saw the eggplant and knew she would like it but restrained myself from buying dog toys for no reason other than I knew the dog would like it. Then I never saw it for sale again, so when I spotted it today, I put my restrains aside and snatched it up. It is a good thing my dogs aren't kids or they would be very spoiled.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"This Is The Door Knob"

Since the rest of the family has seen it, these are special for Claire. For those that don't know, the title comes from an inside family joke that I won't explain because since you are not an insider, it will seem lame.

I use the back door which opens into the kitchen. There are two doors into the living room, seen here.

In the kitchen looking towards the bedrooms. The bathroom is the wall behind the chicken quilt.

Near the bedrooms looking towards the kitchen.

The smallest bedroom which is now only used by the puppy.

My bedroom, which is at the end of the hall. Fancy does not usually hang out on my bed, but I told her to get up there to decorate the picture.

The largest bedroom which is my office/ library/ dog room.

A view of the dog room side. A third crate will be added here when Blossom gets his back from the puppy. The computer chair is visible in the lower portion.

Living room.

Alternate (and blurry) view of the living room. The doors into the kitchen are on the right. The window on the left is to the front yard, which is my yard. The front door is to the left of the window.

So now everyone knows what my house looks like.

Wonder Woman

Do I call myself this because I loaded ALL of the agility equipment into a tall stake bed truck by myself, or because I Wonder Why I Do These Things To Myself? Take your pick.

Our dog training club is doing an agility demonstration at the base Family Day this coming weekend and I volunteered my new equipment. I received permission to pick it up using a government truck since it is for an on base function. The people at work who might have usually helped me load up are all working at the Rec Area project. Kate thought she could come home at lunch and help me out, but she forgot. I called her but her cell phone wasn't getting reception. So what choice did I have? Really, the heaviest things are the teeter, dog walk and a frame. The jumps weigh nothing but the tunnels are a bit bulky and awkward. The a frame is the worst. I wish I knew how much it weighed. I once read a fiction mystery story where the plot involved an agility instructor being found dead under a collapsed a frame. That almost happened to me today. Each side is 9 feet long and three feet wide. 1.5 inch square steel tubing all the way around and in a t shape down the middle. Plywood top and wood slats. Just dragging it to the truck was a chore. I was able to get it into the truck using my favorite simple machine, the crane. I wish- it was actually the leaver principle. The same way I used to load 80 pound horse feed bags into my Geo Metro. Get one side in, then lift and push. Should I mention the gate was only three feet wide? That is the reason I almost got squished. I had to lift the a frame with it on it's side, instead of flat.

So, after this display of power to rival Wonder Woman, which part of my body is hurting? For starters, the elbow I strained last December and now acts up any time I use it. The other part is not my back, as you might expect. Nope- proving that I know how to lift correctly, it is my left knee (the "bad" one for those who keep track.) I lift with my knees, not my back, and my knee is letting me know about it. Ouch.

After the truck was all loaded up, I stopped at the welding shop that is conveniently between work and my house. I dropped off the a frame there to get new hooks welded on. While there, I almost wedged the stake bed into a place I couldn't get out of, like the golf cart in Austin Powers. Luckily, I was able to extract myself.

I will be sure to have help loading and unloading the truck after the demo.

In other news, the dishwasher repair man came a fixed a loose wire so the detergent dispenser should work now. He informed me he has a Jack Russell and a lazy corgi who nips his legs when he goes out the door.

And finally, if you see Pie trying to carry a large log, it is to get her neck muscles stronger so in Schutzhund she can carry the sleeve instead of dragging it and tripping over it and doing somersaults. Because it was funny the first 5 times, but now it is just embarrassing. The log is still heavy for her, but she gets treats when she carries it successfully, so she's trying.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Picture Takers Annonymous

Hi, my name is Marla and I take pictures. Apparently not so anonymously since people who read this blog know who I am.


FrogRise Ok, just being silly on that one. This frog was on my back porch. That is how you can tell I live in the country.

Cute Crate Picture, Bad Crate Picture

Fancy and Pie have been sharing a crate while Knotty monopolizes Blossoms. It keeps Fancy happy because being physically touching another dog gives her security while I'm not home. I like how Fancy is resting her chin on Pie and Pie's nose is sticking out of the crate.

Last weekend I went to a show and left Fancy and Blossom home (and Knotty too, of course.) Even though Blossom was in the crate next to her, two inches away, Fancy became so distraught she shredded this lamp cord through the bars of the crate. Sigh. Notice I did take the crate pad out before I left her alone (not really alone, Blossom was there!) because I know that is likely to get shredded when she is "alone."

The crate is missing some wire because when I first got Fancy she had a meltdown in the crate because she was left alone and broke it, impaling her foot in the process. I then moved her to a plastic airline crate. The hole used to be up against a wall, so I never noticed how far she can stick her head out of it. I'm surprised she doesn't wiggle all the way out. Lucky for me and the house, apparently the hole is just a bit too small.


Even though the paths are overgrown, the dogs and I still enjoy walking on the 20 acre parcel behind our house. After the first walk where Blossom brought home most of the plants along the way, he doesn't get to come anymore. Don't worry, he doesn't mind.

Looking towards our house. The white fence is our property boarder.
Looking south. The smoke from the fires was visible over the hills. These pictures are from a few days ago. The winds have shifted and the smoke isn't as visible now.

A plant nursery boarders the 20 acre walking spot.
Pie strikes a pose.
Fancy too.
Then they both build muscle tone by running up a hill.

I don't know what this is. I also found a spigot, so I turned it on to see if I could be a criminal and steal water, but it didn't work. Probably for the best so I don't get tempted.
In the fall I will harvest some wild pumpkins. Note all the evil foxtails. I have to be careful to pick them out of Fancy's feet.
Fancy and Pie say, "Bye for now!"
Onto more serious news: the fires. We are far away from all of them, but we can see the smoke. Even though I'm further from the ocean now, the ocean breeze still is keeping us smoke free. Until the Santa Annas kick in, I suppose.
Yuck. I'm sure the people's lives who have been forever changed by this fire have stronger thoughts than "yuck."

The smoke appears to be even more sinister than a normal fire.

Here is a picture from the Bunny Encounter. The wound looked worse in person, I can assure you.
Poor Pie. She didn't seem to notice.