Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hike on the Pacific Crest Trail

On Sunday ffluffy and kiltman and some dogs and I went hiking on the PCT off San Fransquito Canyon Road. The trail started off steep, then leveled out somewhat, then went up and down a bit. We hiked for around 4 hours. No ticks and no snakebites, although there was a snake on the trail. It was not poisonous but none of the dogs saw it. Apparently none of the dogs could even smell it because we attempted to point it out to them in a hopes to teach them snakes= bad, but we could tell none of the dogs realized it was a critter. Strange.

A steep section. Hunda is behind Fancy.

ffluffy, km, Wiggn, and Pickle.

Fancy the trail dog- before the shave.

I kept moving Fancy so she could be in the picture, but Pie still blocked her. Bad Pie. Pie carried the water for the dogs.

The dogs found some water trickling down a rock and dug a hole to drink it easier. Smart dogs. There was a large beehive in these rocks, so we couldn't stay too long.

The trail. You can also see it on the mountain on the left. This was on the way back. I like how you can see the hiking stick in the photo. (Thanks Dad, for letting me borrow yours.)

Pie always enjoys a hike.

It was a nice hike but was getting warm at the end. Dottie did not get to come because here feet were still sore from playing in the watering hole last weekend.

And here is naked Fancy. She got that string on her face by rolling around on the blanket. I did not put it here.

Goings Ons...

In no particular order:

I've shaved Fancy and she is very small and some might say funny looking but I say cute.

I've been wafting back and forth regarding what to feed my dogs. I got Fancy's allergy results back and she is allergic to lamb and yeast (most allergic), corn, beef and peas (moderately so) and slightly allergic to chicken and rice. All of the high quality kibble have at least one of these ingredients and if they don't, they have a lot of other ingredients that were not on the list of things tested such as kelp or spinach. I've been trying a dehydrated raw food called Honest Kitchen. It is a powder and you add water. I am not impressed. It is way too expensive for me. A box of food is only going to last 8 days between the three dogs and it cost $50. Not happening. AND Fancy is still itchy so there is something in there that she is allergic to. AND most of the $50 for 8 days worth of food is coming out the other end in huge amounts fully undigested. So Honest Kitchen is out. I gave up on "real" raw due to the time involved. One scoop of this, one scoop of that, add some tripe and a chicken heart then grind the chicken because Fancy won't eat it on the bone... But all the dogs did very well on it. So I'm giving it another try but will try to be less spastic about it. I am going to save the Honest Kitchen for trips so I don't have to pack raw and feed Pie and Dottie kibble at those times.

I've been continuing to work on Dottie's running contacts and they have not gotten better and I think they have been getting worse. ffluffy gave me an idea that is working better. All the videos are on my YouTube account under ResQQ.

I am going to a new schedule at work. 5/9/80s. I will work 9 hrs a day and get every other Monday off. I'll work 6 (ugh) to 3:30 and my plan is to use leave to take one extra Monday off. Cool.

Pie is doing well on her thyroid medication. I think she seems a little more assertive (growled at Dottie for taking her bone- maybe not a good thing) and maybe more energy.

That is all the goings ons I can think of at this time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Seat Belts

I always wear my seat belt, but here is a good reminder!

Don't worry- nothing graphic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fancy and SchH Training

Ffluffy and I took all the dogs to a swimming hole on "The Road." Everyone had great fun except the part when we met a couple with a small dog and 2 boxers on leash and the leashed dogs drug the guy over (despite their prong collars) and tried to attack some of our dogs. Yikes.

But back to the fun part. The dogs ran around and barked and swam and barked some more. Dottie ripped all four pads and can barely walk. Pie is mostly ok and is able to walk fine. We had SchH training today but I didn't work Pie because I want her pads to be 100% ok and Dottie couldn't do anything. So I worked Fancy because I am going to go her her BH in June and after she gets that we will try for our obedience and tracking titles.

Here are some pictures a club member took for us.

Going over the one meter hurdle.

I think this landing picture looks extra silly.

To get the big dumbbell.

Take off on the way back.

Making it to the top.

First time on the wall but since Pants is an agility dog it is easy for her.

Practicing our attentive heeling. Apparently I take this very seriously. No fun allowed.

Drop in motion. You are heeling and tell the dog down and keep going. This one is easier for her than the sit in motion. She thinks it is the stand in motion from AKC obedience but is beginning to understand it better now.


And the finish! A bit crooked...

Fancy likes SchH obedience better than AKC obedience so far. It is in a big field that looks like a park. It isn't in a small enclosed ring with a stranger following closely (the judge.) It should be less stressful for her.

The bad part of this training was I got burnt on my arms, shoulders and legs. Usually I do not wear sleeveless for this reason. I am surprised about the legs. That is unusual for me, but this was the first time I've worn shorts since last summer.

Happy Birthday Dad!!

Happy Birthday to the Best Dad Ever! Hope you had a nice day on your birth day.

Hike in Santa Barbara

The intrepid hikers.

Long time readers of this blog will realize I have done this hike before. It is the Santa Cruz trail in Santa Barbara. I have actually done it twice before, but only blogged about it once.

I took the day off and Dad was able to come. On the way there I was too busy talking and missed our turn off. We used Dad's GPS to find our way back to the correct road.

When we arrived in the forrest, the gate to the campground was closed! So instead of driving accross the river, and to the trailhead, we waded the river then walked the mile and a half to the trail head. The water was cold. It came up to my knees. We took our shoes off so they were not wet and soggy the rest of the hike. Once we got to the trail head we had lunch then pressed on.

I'm not sure why the pictures are so small. Try not to get eyestrain.

As you may remember from the last time I wrote about this hike, it starts out following a creek. There are lots of trees and it is very shaded.

Following the creek.

Then it begins to climb the hill. That section is the typical chaparral of Southern California. The next part is not typical at all. It is a mountain meadow with lots of pretty flowers.

The dogs are hot.

Pie keeps a whether eye out. (Is that the correct spelling in this usage?)

Perhaps Dad will post the pictures larger on his blog.

After the meadow we hiked on further up the hill and crossed a place where a rock slide slide occurred in the past. We were careful to not slip. Shortly after that we had to turn around due to lack of time.

We saw a horny toad and a skink type thing.

It is a great hike and was made even better by sharing it with my dad.

Pie Vet Update

Pie went to the vet last Monday. The missing fur on her face and shoulders is demodex mange. This is a problem because a healthy adult dog with a fully functioning immune system should not get demodex. If it went on uncontrolled it could resolve itself or spread to her entire body leaving her hairless and with skin infections.

I had been planning to retest her thyroid at some point, and now that I knew it was demodex now was a good time. So I had the blood drawn and sent it to Dr. Dodds. The results came back that she is very low in Free T4 and T4 and T3 also, but it is not caused by autoimmune thyroid disease, which is the reason 90% of dogs are hypothyroid. I emailed Dr. Dodds with my questions about if the demodex is caused by the low thyroid and if we have to test to find the reason her thyroid is low since it isn't autoimmune. She assured me the other 10% of dogs are low because the thyroid itself has just stopped working (rather than the immune system attacking it) and there are no further tests to be done and once I start her on the medication she will be fine. It is a daily medication that she will need for the rest of her life, but having low thyroid will not affect her quality of life or lifespan once she is on the medication. Also, once the thyroid is functioning normally (with the help of the meds) the demodex will be under control because the low thyroid causes the immune system to not function properly which in turn allows the demodex to be a problem.

I am extra glad I sent the blood to Dr. Dodds since I was able to get a consultation from her via email. Normal labs tell you nothing and you can only talk to your vet. I should be picking up her medication on Monday. It will be interesting to see what changes for the better once her thyroid works again.

Fancy went in for a later appointment and got blood drawn for a food allergy test but we have not had those results back yet.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Baby Dottie

For those that haven't seen it, here is a video a volunteer took of Dottie when she was in the shelter last August.

Silly puppy for sure. I am happy her tail is no longer quite so strange.

Monday, April 12, 2010

To the Vet

I took Pie to the vet this morning. Dx is demodex which is a problem because a healthy adult dog should not get demodex. It means her immune system is suppressed. I had the vet draw blood to send to Dr. Dodds for thyroid testing. Pie has been low in the past but treatment was not recommended due to her not showing clinical signs. But since then I have learned that not all clinical signs are the typical overweight and poor coat type signs. Pie may or may not be showing some of the less typical signs. I am wondering if a bad thyroid leads to a suppressed immune system which leads to the demodex? Dr. Dodds will let me know because even though she is the best know thyroid specialist in the country, she takes the time to send you a personalized consultation of your results. She also answers emails sent to her clinic herself. I should hear about the thyroid later this week.

Later in the day I took Pants to the vet for a blood draw for allergy testing. I need to find out what foods she is allergic to. Her licking/chewing has gotten very bad again. I would have also liked to have tested for inhalant allergies but the testing is very expensive and I did not want to pay for both at this time. It will take 7-10 days to get results from the allergy panel.

After that Dottie and I practiced some more running contacts and general agility. I think her overall effort on the board was marginally better today.

I took today off after working this weekend. I think I would have liked to sleep in longer since I stayed up too late last night, but I had to get up to go to my first vet appointment. Even though I didn't want to get up, I was happy my alarm went off because I was having a horrible dream about a June Bug invasion. It was very, very bad. After thinking about it, the best way to describe it is like the newer Mummy movies with the beetles that swarm and eat people. Luckily these bugs were not eating but they were swarming for sure. I will be happy to never have a dream like that again!

General Agility Video from today:

Running Contact Video from today:

Agility Training and MORE Agility Training

Video from our running contacts yesterday. Puppy brain. Very discouraging. She had done wonderfully the day before, then came out with this:

Also jumps and tunnel.

We are having a private lesson with Pie and Fancy's trainer tomorrow, so I'll be interested in her assessment. I want to know how a dog who is so food motivated and loves toys can seem to be disinterested in playing agility. Is it possible (please, no!) Dottie has no work ethic and does not enjoy working like Pie does? Do I have another Fancy? A dog who does it for the rewards, and would be just as happy (and probably happier) to sit around all day and get fed snacks without having to work for them? Sigh. I hope not. Malinois should like to work. They are a working bred dog... but there are plenty out there bred just for show that have no desire to work. Maybe my Dot is one of those.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Did Not Reach My PT Test Goal

For those of you who don't know, PT is physical training and in the Air Force you have to take and pass a PT test yearly. It is now going to twice yearly but since I am on my way out, that doesn't effect me.

I PT tested on Sunday. My goal was to try so hard I vomited. (Bet you didn't see that coming.) Sadly, I did not meet my goal. Close, but not quite. Even though that is sad news, the good news is I did pass with 83 out of 100 points. Passing is 75 points. Besides the 1.5 mile run you also get points for how many sits-up you can do in a minute and how many push-ups you can do in a minute. I was not proactive and did not practice the sit-ups or push-ups but managed to push out 12 push-ups. Now my chest is quite sore. I know 12 is a very low number for the macho guys (and gals) out there, but for a person with no upper body strength and no practice, I think it is somewhat respectable.

My sit-ups were not very respectable. I need to get a better technique down. I couldn't get a rhythm going and strained on each one. I might have been going down too far. Also, it is a well known fact that the ladies in our family are born without stomach muscles. It is a genetic oddity which has been much studied by leading scientists over the years, but no definite results have ever been discovered, so no papers have been published on the subject.

I did the 1.5 mile run in 14:06 which as I mentioned earlier is much faster than I usually go. I was gasping for breath so loud I was scaring people as I came up behind them. Maybe I sounded like a man eating beast. Or maybe they thought I was going to die and they would have to try CPR.

So I didn't vomit, pass out, or even twist my knee. Kind of boring, but I'll take boring over pain (or death) any day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Flaming Speedball and a House Guest

"I had a friend was a big baseball player
Back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy"

Yes, but was it a FLAMING speedball? Day 2 and the new name seems to still be working. We had a nice (but short) session of practice. First up was running the board in prep for running contacts. People and dogs hoping to win National Championships and make the World Team need running contacts to be competitive. Other people have other reasons. My reason is without running contacts, FSB's time won't be very good. This will help keep our speed up. I might not be able to train them correctly or I might give up because since she is a bigger dog, her stride is long and even without jumping, it is still easy to miss the yellow. But either way, it gives me something to train.

Yesterday I used a bowl with food and she slowed down as she approached the bowl. Today I used a large ball and she zoomed (for her) all the way to it.

Then we wrapped a jump (with no bar on the jump) and did a tunnel and she had nice speed and I rewarded with the ball and she chased it in a quick manner. Good FSB!

Then we were done for today's training.

We have a houseguest- Gracie. Gracie is visiting while her owners are on a cruise. My current guess is she is an Australian Cattle Dog, German Shorthaired Pointer (that is where the coloring comes from) mix. She is a strange dog, no doubt about it. The only time she shows any happiness is when she is going back inside after being outside.

She must have been warm today because she moved her blankie out of the way. Gracie likes to stay in her crate. In the picture the door is closed so my dogs do not try to eat her kibble that she has not eaten yet. Now she is coming out of the kennel on her own and her preferred spot is under my computer desk.

It seems I should add "Cameras and/ or picture taking" to the list of "Things Gracie Does Not Like." Cameras and picture taking will follow the only other item on the list- "Everything."

She was outside during FSB's training and was so happy to come in I was going to take a picture. But as I went to get the camera, Dottie (er- Flaming Speedball) must have interfered with her happiness in some way and Gracie attacked the Speedball. No damage except FSB was sad when I yelled at Gracie to stop the attack. Everyone else has had words with FSB at one time or another, so Gracie is just trying to fit in, no doubt.

After SPB practice was over I took Pie for her 1/2 hour bike ride then came back and added FSB and Fancy. We then went out for another 15-20 mins. Usually it is 15, but we went a bit further today and it might have been closer to 20.

The plan for the rest of the night is to finish the laundry and finish reading, "Ender in Exhile" the last book of the Ender series. When I say last, I do not mean it was the last to be written or that it closes the series. It is just the only one I have not read yet. The author has several story lines with different characters who can almost time travel since near lightspeed travel keeps them young while others age. So the different story lines are interacting more in this book than the others. The copyright is 2008, so I think it might be the most current story. I hope the author writes more! After finishing the book I will think dark thoughts about working this weekend, especially because we are having a PT test, and even though we only run 1.5 miles and I can and have been doing 2, I prefer a slow pace. A slow pace at a longer distance does not mean you can do a faster pace over a short distance, I have found. Therefore, I do not expect the test to go well. Finally, after thinking dark thoughts about working over the weekend, I will cheer myself with thoughts about taking Monday off. Too bad I'm using some of that time to take Pie to the vet. (She is loosing hair.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Flaming Speedball

I'm changing Dottie's name to Flaming Speedball in the hopes that is improves her agility preformance. Being that she hasn't actually started a lot of agility yet, you know a need for an improvment is not a good thing.

I've always preferred non-agility names for dogs. Names designed to intimidate other competitors (Cobra, El Diablo) or show off how fast your dog is (Zing, Mach) are not my favorite. (I was trying to think of names that do not match up with dogs I know! And it was hard because most of the types of names I've described are taken.) Obviously Pie, Fancy, Dottie, Bloom and Blossom have nothing to do with agility. I like cute names, and also names that make sense when people walking down the street ask me what my dog is named.

Getting back to Flaming Speedball. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I'm willing to make sacrifices to my preferred name if it helps her be faster.

The work I've been doing with Dottie (FSB) are things like tunnel, table, tire, going through jump uprights. We have started agility, but not too much. As of right now, Dottie (FSB) isn't showing much natural ability. She is (dare I say it) sort of slow, unfocused and just uninterested.

Even though I mentioned "sending her away" and tried to dump her off on my brother, I was just teasing. If you buy a dog for agility and it doesn't turn out to be what you hoped, and you find it a great home, that is your choice. But in my mind rescue dogs are different. They can be great performance dogs, but because you are taking a chance, all rescue dogs need to be pets first and performance dogs second. So if you get a rescue and it doesn't turn out to be a star in your chosen sport, placing the dog is not an option. If you want to be a star that badly, you should buy a dog. Therefore, have no fear, Dottie (FSB) is not going anywhere. Because she is my pet, and I don't get rid of pets.

I have not given up on Dottie's (FSB) agility career. I have a very knowledgeable friend helping me. I have made some changes in our life style and already see an improvement. Dottie (FSB) has always had unlimited access to the other dogs. Now I see she finds them more rewarding than she finds me. (Gee, how did that happen? She gets to bite them and play with them and they don't make her do anything.) Now she is separate from them and I am her main playmate. Also, I play fetch with Fancy and Pie, then put them away and play fetch with her. We've been working on retrieving since she is a baby and she has never been that excited about it. She never retrieved the ball in the group since she was too busy chasing Fancy. Now she doesn't have Fancy to obsess over and because of that she is more excited about the ball. The next part is the part of the "Ruff Love" program that I will fade the quickest because it is the least fun. Dottie (FSB) is in her crate unless she is working or playing with me. That way when she comes out she is excited to spend time with me, instead of me taking her away from other fun things she was doing (such as getting into the trash can) and making her do "boring" work.

I've stopped using food in agility training because she can't go quickly and eat at the same time and when the food comes out she thinks so much about the food she can't think about going fast. I've also stopped using the tug as a reward because it has too many rules attached and can't be that fun. She has to tug well, hold calmly and release on command with no mouthing. Agility needs more spontaneity and the tug is tied so closely with the control of SchH that I can't do both correctly.

With out food and the tug, what is left? The last few times I've been letting her jump on me and mouth me and chase me as her reward. The old "you should be the most exciting thing in your dog's life" idea. When when we play this rough, I am super exciting. But it is tiring and both of us are only good for a short training session that way.

And something else that was pointed out to me that has helped increase speed to the bowl and ball is using larger distances. She does start to decelerate as she gets close to a bowl with food in it or a placed toy, so she needs to be far enough away that she can get up to full speed before she begins to decelerate.

The good news is already I've seen an improvement. FSB was going faster. Not Border Collie fast and probably not even as fast as she can go, but much better than she was doing. If I could get this much improvement out of her in a week, maybe we can keep improving.

One more thing some supporters have pointed out is it is possible she will mature and get more into it and faster. I have since heard of a few dogs who have matured along these lines so that can give us hope also.

But wouldn't it be so much easier if just changing her name "fixed" everything? Therefore, everyone should now refer to Dottie as Flaming Speedball.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Videos from Agility Championship

Here are two of Pie's three runs:

And two of Fancy's three runs:

They are self explanatory (with some help from some extra helpful captions) so I don't need to write anything else here!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

From the MaliBunnies. (And the even more rare, Tibetan Lowland Rabbit.)

Happy Easter from Fancy, Pie, and Dottie. Dottie has not quite yet learned that in our family dogs pose with all kinds of strange props and it is not ok to eat or otherwise disturb the props. So these pictures took a while, but she got it in the end. Pie's ears (the fake ones, luckily) ended up in Dottie's mouth more than a few times.

Unlike Dottie who is fidgety and Fancy who is sulky, Pie is so easy to photograph. Just say cookies, walk, or ball and the ears come up and the head tilts. Probably don't say "beach" or she is likely to explode out of her sit and voice her approval with ear shattering barks!

We started off with no ears on the puppy. Just getting her to leave Pie's alone was the first step. Dot thought Pie had cooties and wouldn't sit close. Pie shows what she thinks of her little sister (who isn't so little anymore.)

Probably the best one of them all sitting.

Necrotic puppy.

Fancy! Cookies Fancy! Look over here, Fancy! Ball! Gah! Another shot ruined because taking pictures is not Fancy's favorite thing.

And now Fancy looks cute but Dottie isn't paying attention.

Oooo.... a bug!

Possibly the nicest one.

Dottie tries to imitate Pie's tongue trick but doesn't quite get it.

Another nice one. FYI- Dottie's ears are actually purple.

The headband part looks pretty strange on Dot.

Fancy contemplates heading for the horizon.

She makes a very cute bunny.

Even though she doesn't like it....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

AKC Nationals and Roadtrip to Oklahoma

A while ago I decided it would be fun to go to the AKC Agility National Championships. It was the last weekend in March and was to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I did not want to fly due to the logistics of flying with 2 dogs, and I also knew Fancy would not appreciate flying in a crate by herself. Somehow I didn't think the airline would believe me if I told them the dogs wanted to share a crate.

Therefore I decided to drive and I was lucky that ffluffy decided to come with us. It would have turned out to be a boring trip without her.

We left on Tuesday March 23rd. Second day of Spring Break which is significant because that meant ffluffy was off work. I took leave.

I took my laptop with the intention of blogging on the road, but I was so tired each night I went straight to bed after feeding the dogs. Driving is tiring!

Day 1
I got up around 5 am to have enough time to load the car and make it to ffluffy's by 8. I made good time and got there early, which is pretty unusual for me. We were taking my car and were going to have 2 people, 7 dogs, and cargo in my Buick Rendezvous. I thought it would be helpful to bring my luggage rack which is usually used for Pie's wagon. We wisely brought a tarp to help keep the luggage together and keep it dry, but it took us some time to decide how to best use the rope to keep the burrito tied up. After tying it up, we realized it looked more like a concealed body than a burrito. After even further consideration we realized it would be quite a pain to tie and untie it each day. I realized we could cram everything inside the car and decided to leave the body behind. But first, we had to document it...

We left ffluffy's place around 10 (it took us a while to deal with the body and rearrangement of the luggage.) The Nationals didn't start until Friday, but we took plenty of time to get there because we planned to stop along the way and see roadside attractions. We had a print out from a website (something like with all our planned stops. The first one was in AZ.

AZ had a nice welcome sign. Some states were too cheap to welcome us. I won't be moving to those states any time soon.

The Colorado River on the CA/ AZ border.

Our first attraction was the "Golfball House." These were lesser attractions at the main attraction.

I think this should have told us something about the reliability of our website. The Golfball House is not actually called the Golfball House anywhere except the website. The current owners call it the UFO House (as seen by their house guest) and it was originally called a geodesic dome.

It is not open to the public but there is a small gift shop with travel type items and some super cheezy plastic aliens to purchase. I could not imagine living here, having to walk up all those stairs each day. They need an elevator.

Just down the road was an attraction not on the website, but since I was the driver, I pulled over and we checked it out. An abandoned motel! I think abandoned buildings are pretty neat. Why are they abandoned? Who used to own them? In the case of motels (there used to be quite a few between the 14 and Victorville on that road that connects the two) what where the people doing who stopped at them when they were open? Usually there is a fence up or they are boarded up. However, that has always been secondary to the fact that I've never been the driver and passed one when I had time to stop. So I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by.

No fence. No boards. Very abandoned. The office is on the left.

Looking in one of the windows. The ceiling has fallen off.

This bathtub needs some serious cleaning. And what is with the shower curtain? Its somewhat modern appearance ruins the mood.

ffluffy thinks there is asbestos, cocidia, mange, and toxic fumes in abandoned motels.

I think I want to know what causes a lampshade to unravel. Anyone have any idea the decade this motel was last inhabited?

You know a building is truly abandoned when there is a tumbleweed in the bathroom.

After leaving the motel (which I thought was fascinating from a historical "we'll never know what it used to be like and the life stories of the owners and workers and patrons" point of view but ffluffy just thought was extra creepy) we were back on track on our list of attractions. Next up: a point in AZ 3333.33 feet above sea level. Very cool, we thought.

Well.... mostly cool. Anyone can slap a plaque on the wall at a certain level. We thought we could stand on 3333.33 feat above sea level. Not so much. Why didn't they move the plaque up a little bit and put it at 3333.333333333 feet?

Ffluffy does her best to reach 3333.33 feet.

Feeling slightly deflated we pressed on into New Mexico and we made it to Gallup and stopped there for the night.

Day 2

The next morning I took pictures to show how we had the car set up. The cooler does not hold yummy human snacks as you might expect but raw dog food.

Bob the Border Collie on the bottom and Hunda the Swedish Vallhund on top. The wire crate had so many bungees holding it in place we could roll down a hill and into a river and go over a water fall and we might not survive, but that crate was not budging. My clothes bag (and miscellaneous dog supplies) is shoved in front of Dottie's crate next to Bob. There are some smaller bags behind the driver's seat and Bob's crate.

Pickle the Border Collie rode loose on the other side of the stacked crates, Fancy and Pie were in the crate by the black bag and Moose the corgi rode up front with ffluffy.

Dottie says, "Let me out! Road trips are boring!"

Pie and Fancy say, "We ride together all the time, and don't mind, but we like to look miserable in pictures so people feel bad for us."

After taking pictures we headed out of Gallup. I spotted another decrepit motel. This one did have a fence and its story was more clear. It had been destroyed by a fire.

Some pretty scenery in New Mexico.

As we continued on in New Mexico and climbed in elevation I was disturbed to find it began to snow on us! I've never driven in the snow before but luckily it did not seem to be sticking on the freeway.

I spotted a sign on the side of the road saying "Exit here for the Continental Divide." That sounded promising so I pulled off.

I was rewarded with a picture taking opportunity. Pie was rewarded with an opportunity to sit in the cold snow. You can see her feet are cold. After I released her when our last picture was done she ran to the car, beating me, and whined at the door, asking to get back in. Wimpy California dog! It was very cold.. so I must be a wimpy CA girl.


We ate at the Hurricane Cafe because it was recommended to have very good green chili. I am not a fan of chili of any color so I had the chicken fingers which were quite tasty. Unfortunately the green chili did not quite meat ffluffy's standards. However, the stop was not a total loss because right down the street was another attraction on our list. The Giant Red Arrow.

And the verdict is.... another thumbs down. It was in the middle of a parking lot! And, it wasn't even that giant. ffluffy renamed it the red giant arrow to illustrate its lack of giantness.

The dogs greatly added to its prestige. It had not plaque or explanation telling us why it was there. The website also had no info for us, other than it is a Giant Red Arrow. I had hoped for an informative plaque. I always like reading those.

K Mart, anyone?

Pickle demonstrates his well placed disdain.

Pushing on through New Mexico it began to snow again. Visibly decreased rapidly, snow was sticking to the road and people who were driving too fast began to slide off the road, including a car carrier who we saw being winched out of the median by a very large truck.

On a food stop the snow was really coming down. Dottie was not pleased. I tried to get a picture of the snow falling on her muzzle but it wasn't turning out and I was too cold to keep trying.

So cold. Isn't this supposed to be Spring Break?

Moose cuddled up on the front seat with the pillow and ffluffy. He slept most of the way.

Good riddance New Mexico and your cold snow!

Texas also had a nice welcome sign. I hoped their weather would be as friendly as their driving.

We were very excited to see our next attraction, the Giant Pair of Legs, also known as the gpol, which has somehow become my nickname, so don't be too confused if you ever hear someone calling me that. The website calls these a Huge Pair of Legs, but not only does that not show the proper respect for their giantness, but gpol sounds better than hpol.

ffluffy with the gpol. Once again it was freezing. We had big plans for all kinds of poses, and pictures with the dogs and the gpol, but the wind was bitter, cutting, bone chilling cold, and to stay outside for more than a few seconds was to invite certain death, so all of our big plans had to be abandoned.

Me and the gpol. I want to know how you can have tube socks AND toenails. Seems questionable to me.

Moose is worse than Fancy when it comes to stealing food. ( A trait she learned from Bloom, I think.) First time he waited until we had left the car, second time until the door had closed, then he progressed to snatching things as soon as we turned the engine off. Maybe we should have been snacking less. Or maybe not. What else is there to do when sitting in a car all day? Apparently Moose agrees with us.

Another attraction we happened across was the Quarter Horse Museum. It was closed for the night and also possibly closed for remodeling, but we still could take pictures. My favorite! The horse is Refrigerator. I don't follow QH racing, so I don't know anything about him. But it is a neat statue.

More snow and Dottie thought it was not fun.

The 2 good girls. The flash makes it look pleasant. But don't be fooled. It was snowing and miserable. I have come to the conclusion that the beautiful weather in CA truly does balance the high prices, horrible traffic, taxes, over crowding, lack of affordable housing and tiny yards.

Day 3

The snow continued to come down all night. This is what my car looked like the next morning.

Fancy and the Buick covered with snow for the first time in its existence in Amarillo, TX. We slept in and waited for the roads to deice in the morning sun.

Yet another attraction not on our list. We spotted a sign that claimed this was the World's Largest Cross. Needing to make up time and feeling we could see all from the car as we could see if we pulled over we pressed on and took a picture from the car. On the way back I noticed the sign says it is the World's Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere. Another gyp! For all I know it is the World's Largest Cross in Texas. It can't be the World's Largest Cross unless it is the Largest one IN THE WORLD. Not, "In the Western Hemisphere." Now I'm glad we didn't stop.

We knew we were getting close to Oklahoma because the mile markers were close to zero. Then we passed zero and were in OK! But where was the welcome sign? I spotted a large blue sign coming up and instructed ffluffy to take a picture. After we passed the sign I was chagrined to see it was not an Oklahoma sign at all.

OK is too cheap (or too unfriendly) to have a welcome sign, so we had to settle for this one.

Our final stop was outside of Oklahoma City. We couldn't decide if we should go or not because it was getting late on Thursday and we wanted to make it to Tulsa by 6 pm to check in to the show so we didn't have to check in on the first day. I made the command decision that we would see the last attraction, the World's Largest Mound. We did not know what the World's Largest Mound might be, but the description on the website said it had walkways for mound appreciation.

The website mislead us one more time because the World's Largest Mound was not open yet.

It is in conjunction with the Native American Cultural Center which is still under construction. You can see the mound to the right of the building and to the right of that is OK City.

Reading on Wikipedia, I learned mounds are structures built in the Americans by ancient native people, not the "modern" Native Americans. They are spread though out the US and I'm thinking they are going to plant grass on this one and it will be a recreation of an Indian Mound. We wanted to walk on it and appreciate its moundess, but since it was not open we were not afforded the opportunity. The website was our nemesis once again.

ffluffy and Moose with the Mound in the background.

We pushed on towards Tulsa but took a rest stop and came across a funny sign.

We made Tulsa by about 4 pm, checked into the show, checked into our hotel and got settled in.

Day 4

The first day at the Nationals is the State Tournament. All the scores from each state are averaged together and the state with the highest score wins. CA won this year! A lot of people (myself included) use the State Tournament as practice since it has no bearing on the final standings. The courses are per ISC (can't remember what that stands for) rules and they are not like normal American courses. Fancy had an off course in one run but was clear in the other. I ran Pie in 26 inches because that is her international jump height. She had two clean runs but when I checked her scores the next day she showed an NQ on one run. My friends had watched and said we were clean so I'm not sure what happened with that.

Our crating area. It is on dirt in a livestock area and you can tell by the smell. We took the crates back to the hotel each night to crate some of the dogs for the night and we took the smell with us too. I don't mind the smell of livestock, but I don't want it in my hotel room!

Day 5

Day 5 started the actual Agility Championship. I am sorry to report that ffuffy's dog Pickle got hurt before his second run and only got to run once. Not only did ffluffy go all that way and couldn't compete, but her dog was also in pain and won't be able to run agility any more. Not a very happy show.

Fancy had 2 clean runs today. Pie ran clean in her first run and was in 11th place out of about 80 dogs. Not bad! Then in her second run she had an off course. The results show 2 faults so I think she must have passed the plane of the correct jump after taking the off course jump. That put us pretty far down in the standings.

Day 6

Fancy had another clear run and finished 38th out of about 270 dogs. She competed against mostly Border Collies who are much faster then she could ever be. We were consistent which helped us beat the dogs with mistakes, but we can't come close to the speed of the BCs.

Pie had a great final run and was very fast with one bar down. That gave us three total faults which put us right in the middle of the 24 inch class, about 43 out of 80.

Another exciting shot of the crating area.

This is ring four and the bleachers and crating.

The warm up areas.

The main rings.

Fancy and I at the big sign. Kisses.

Since we had no reason to stick around we were ready to go by 1o. We loaded up the car and were ready to go. Too bad the battery was dead and we were stuck in Tulsa. I got Security to give us a jump and we made good our escape. Since no stores were open on a Sunday in the Midwest we drove as far as we could before we had to get more gas. I was on tender hooks when I turned the car back on after filling up but it started no problem.

I drove until around 10 that night and was too tired to go on so fluffy took over. She drove until about 2. We decided to save money and park on the side of the road rather than get a hotel. That is legal in AZ, which is where driving 16 hrs straight from Tulsa (plus time changes) will get you. Upon reflection, this was not a great idea. It was freezing. I had taken my shoes off to get more comfy, and the floor was too cold to put my feet on. I had to prop them up on my purse. Plus, after napping about 2 hours, I was awoken due to having difficulty breathing. Apparently my car is fairly airtight and 2 people and 7 dogs depleted the available oxygen supply. I wafted the door open and closed but the cold now made sleeping impossible, so we pressed on. I have a hazy memory of ffluffy singing along to the Greenday song about 1 and 21 Guns. The sun began to rise on Monday morning and we were back in California! I took over driving around 6 am and it was now

Day 7

That was a lot of driving. I spotted a likely looking road in the Mojave and we pulled off to let the dogs run around. Being cooped up for 7 days did not make them happy.

Running around the Mojave did make them happy.

Pie in the lead, with Dottie and Fancy neck and neck and Pickle bringing up the rear.

Prancing Pants paces the parched place.

Hunda! Do do do!

Puppy and Pickle.

Pie is so happy to run.

Some nice scenery.

Moose had a roll in the dirt and looked extra cute with all four legs in the air, but I was too slow and only got a picture of him shaking off afterward.

Moose is no slouch when it comes to running. Even if he is a little elderly.

Free of the stupid box at last! I run, and run, and run, and run, and run some more! Because I'm a puuppppyyyy!

Hunda and Bob who is the same age as Dottie.

Dottie found a stick. (How surprising, I comment sarcastically.)

Bob is very handsome.

Fancy became a victim of the jumping cholla cactus. ffluffy knew what to do and I held Fancy as she removed the cactus and huge spines with sticks used like chopsticks. I've never seen these before but not too long ago I saw a video on how they jump out and get you even if you don't touch them.

A propane truck came by on our seeming deserted road and the dogs had to do a down as it passed. Dottie held onto her stick.

The pack exploded out of their down after we released them when the truck had gone. Pickle is the fastest of the group and would be in the front but ffluffy was trying to keep him low key to keep his injury from getting worse.

A pretty desert flower.

More Mojave scenery.

A typical rust heap found in the desert. I always wonder how it got there. And in this case, why is it so twisted up?

Dottie pulled this root type thing up out of the ground and paraded around with it.

Dottie thinks maybe this trip wasn't a complete waste after all. She got a cool root type thing out of the deal!

After a short walk we got back in the car and finished the drive home, arriving at ffluffy's house at about noon, 26 hours (including time changes) after we left Oklahoma. A record, for sure. This allowed ffluffy to go back to work on Tuesday, since Spring Break was over. I wasn't scheduled to go back to work until Wednesday. I considered going in early... but that day I went to bed at 3 pm and slept until 10 the next day. I guess that answered the question of going into work for me. ffluffy must be an Amazon or something because not only did she go to work on Tuesday, but she also went to dog class Monday night. Crazy!

I think I've finally recovered... but the reason this blog is so late coming is I've been going to bed early each night and this is the first time I've stayed up to blog.

I had a good time on our trip. Sight seeing is always fun. It was a good experience to go to a big show. Of course I wish poor Pickle hadn't been injured and ffluffy would have been able to run him (and win- because they are that good.) It was a cool trip but I will not be taking another long road trip for a dog show for some time. And hopefully no marathon drives for even longer.