Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Skull Ball

Dottie has a new toy.

It is a skull ball. I saw it for sale at an agility trail and knew it was the ball for her. I think it is a very silly ball but I am sure there are people out there who buy it thinking it is cool and makes their dogs tougher.


Gimme the ball!

Elvis lives.



Creepy levitating skull ball. I didn't crop this photo at all. I tried taking a picture of Dot and the ball but this is all I got in one shot. I think the ball is possessed.

Chomp! (or Dottie shows the skull ball who is boss.)

Vomiting out the skull ball.

These pictures were taken when it was 102 in my town. Almost a record high. It has never been that hot when I've lived here. Dottie does not do hot weather and this session was very short, in the shade, small throws, and she still wanted to take her skull ball and go lay down. I realize 102 is very hot, but Fancy would have fared much better. Pie isn't a hot weather dog either. It is very frustrating to have drive and precision flushed away every time you train or show in the heat. I believe it is physical and genetic. The Israeli Army imports lots of Mals and they have a study going on to see if they can find the hot weather gene, because all their dogs get the same diet and training and some can deal with the heat and some cannot. I'm not complaining about my dogs because they are wonderful, but someday I would like to have a dog who is not bothered so much by the heat.

After this we went to the beach to cool off. I even went in the water. The dogs loved it, as always.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fancy MACH 4!!

Align Center
I still have to write about moving, and my birthday, and probably some other stuff, but first an agility interlude. Fancy earned her fourth AKC Master Agility Championship today. It was at the park right outside the shelter where I adopted her five years ago. Maybe some of you don't remember Fancy was in this shelter because her owners turned her in for escaping. I guess she was an outside dog given no or very little attention and she felt no reason to stay. The feces matted into her coat is one clue that I am correct. Now, five years later she has four MACHs, has been to the AKC Invitational four times (it will be her fifth time in Dec) and made the finals twice, appearing on Animal Planet once. She won "most obedient" and "Best in Show" at a local, fun pet day, earned High in Trial at her first ever obedience competition, the Tibetan Terrier Club of America's National Specialty, had four out of four clean runs at last years AKC Agility Nationals in Oklahoma, AND is the only Tibetan Terrier with any number of MACHs and a UD. Yep- I'm proud of her, and am using her MACH 4 as an excuse to brag.

Good Job AGAIN Fancy!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mothman and Moving

I read most of "The Mothman Chronicles" (I think it was called) a while back. I was very scared! So when I saw this guy I knew he was not just an innocent huge moth, but more likely a mothman. I didn't want to get my hand any closer to show his size for the best comparison becaus I was afraid he might bite.

I will probably write more about the move later. For now all you need to know is I am back in the small duplex I moved out of last year. It isn't ready for all my stuff so right now I can't unpack anything. I can't even put the fridge where it goes. The pictures below depict my plight.

The small room isn't too bad. I bought the couch since last time I lived here and you can see it just barely fits. Can you name that tail?

The dogs beds are not on the floor because the carpet is still damp from the cleaning (which did not get all the stains out.)

This stuff is ready to be moved to the back yard- but I tired out. I am so sore! I will do it tonight.

This praying mantis was on my old house over a week ago. It was pretty creepy because he (she?) was aware of me and turned his head to watch me. It seems usually insects only are aware of you if you try to catch them or smush them. This one spotted me as soon as I stopped to take a look.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Agility Show Report

We were at an agility trial at City of Industry under the big covered arena this weekend, Saturday and Sunday only. Nice to be out of the sun. Saturday was very hot, and somewhat humid - which is very unusual for So Cal. The thermometer showed over one hundred degrees when I showed up at my parents house around 5 that evening.

Pie and Fancy were both entered. The big news is Pie took first place in a class of 33 dogs in Standard! And the really cool part is she had the fastest time out of all the dogs, including the ones that NQed. I think the position-less table helped out time. Sometimes she wastes time settling into a down or sit. Now the judge starts counting as soon as the dog is on the table. Pie was very excited to be running since she has had about a month off from trialing and I'm not running her in class anymore. For those that don't know, Pie has spondylosis (sp?), diagnosed when I had her hips x-rayed. The less jumping she does, the better it is for her back. She will be moved down to preferred much sooner than I would normally do. I can tell the less jumping this month has agreed with her, because her weaves were nice and fast. She used to always zip through the poles, but recently has slowed down. Her back must be sore. Poor Pie- she loves agility so much, but some day I won't run her any more, because that will be best for her over all health. But for now, we will enjoy it while we can! And it isn't all bad- when she is retired from regular and preferred, we will find some NADAC trials and let her do hoopers and tunnlers, just so she gets to still have fun!

Also on Saturday Pie got fourth in jumpers for her 13th QQ towards Mach 2!

Fancy got a QQ towards Mach 4. She actually has 25 QQs for Mach 4 and just needs points. She is so consistent she almost always QQs. She has been running nice and fast, but if you QQ every time you go out, it is inevitable you get your QQs before your points. She has 700 points so she might her her Mach 4 at her next show!

Dottie worked some attention and obedience on Saturday. I took her up in the huge metal bleachers and she wasn't thrilled. She was not overly upset, just not her normal crazy self. Her tail was still wagging, but I could tell she was not 100% comfortable.

After the show I went to my parent's house for a Labor Day BBQ my mom held for the teachers at her school. She brought out her laptop and showed off the videos I did of the dogs- Hero Dogs and Conserving Energy. Is that like showing pictures of your kids? In this case it was the granddogs that were getting showed off.

On Sunday the weather was cooler. In standard Pie tried to take the a frame a second time, which I did not expect, and I lost concentration and was unable to help her do the correct obstacle. In jumpers I ran all out since we had already lost the QQ and she skipped a jump and knocked a bar (or 2.) That is important for me to know since the Invitational is coming up. Usually in jumpers I try to take it a bit easy and not push her because of bars. Now I know that is a good strategy. To make the finals in the Invitational, you need four clean rounds. We'll take it easy, then go all out in the finals, if we are lucky enough to make it. Thinking positive right?

Fancy surprisingly did not Q in standard either. She felt pressure from a cross I was about to do and headed for the wrong side of the tunnel. I did not call her off since she thought she was doing the right thing and it was my mistimed cue that was messing her up. Telling her she is wrong when she thinks she is right is a good way to make her run slower. I was proud of myself that I was able to consciously make that decision as it was happening. Good job, M.

In jumpers Fancy was good. Typical.

Dottie came out again and we went up in the bleachers with some cookies and I helped her see she can turn around and go up and down. She was more comfortable at the end. I am still having trouble with heel position with Dottie. She thinks it is about 2 feet in front of me.

We did not enter the show today. My bank account thanks me, even if the dogs think it is boring. I'm off to see a movie with a friend- not sure which movie yet. I'll practice some agility (jump grids) with the Dot later today. I'm trying to buy some 24 inch weave poles for her to learn on.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Tails

Pie wags her tail more than any dog I know. It is always going and it is frequently noisy and commonly comical. It bangs on wood floors and walls, it bongs on metal railings, and thumps on carpet. It wags while she is chewing on a bone, when she is anticipating a ball throw, and as goofy as this is, while she is laying in the shade doing nothing. It hits Fancy in the face, spins in circles, goes swish, side to side fast and side to side slow. In the line up in Working Sweeps at the 2009 Mal Nationals, it is the only tail moving.

When I got Dottie at 10 weeks her tail did not wag. That is not to say it did not move. You can see it flopping around (above her back- gag) as she investigates the yard. The next pictures of Dottie did not come out until three months later, after her quarantine for "distemper" (aka- kennel cough) was done, but I was mildly disappointed to see it still not wag. Not that Dottie was ever a sulky or moody dog, her tail just didn't reflect the happiness she was feeling.

Recently, much to my enjoyment, that has changed! I can't say exactly when it started, but Dottie now wags her tail. When I got Bacon around Mother's Day, Dottie was not wagging then, since I remember his tail thumping against the side of his crate like Pie's does, and I said to myself he gets extra points for having a happy tail.

Dottie now wags when I look at her, and when I talk to her. She wags as she is coming up for pets and as she is getting pet. Overall, it is much more normal, and I love it! Pie is still the top wagger in the house. Even if Dottie wagged as much as Pie, Pie would still be top since her tail is bigger and more substantial so it makes a very satisfying whack as it hits things. Also, even though it no longer curves over her back, the break in her tail does cause it to bend off to the side and up a bit. The arc of the wag is not as pleasing to the eye as it is in Pie's case, and the strange shape means it hit many less objects, such as the walls, and also causes it to miss even the floor. And I have NEVER seen it go in a circle. Maybe that is next. Or maybe the calibration is out of alignment due to the break and it is physically impossible for her tail to complete such aerobatics.

Still, she now gets points for effort. She also gets points for being cuddly and snuggling on the couch with me with her chin on my forearm as I type.

Even though this is the Tale of Two Tails, I should mention Fancy. Since she has a curly tail, it is in a completely different category when it comes to wagging. She shakes the base back and forth and that causes the fluff draped over her back to move. Fancy wags when I come home, when we are going to go on a walk, or if she things she is going to get something yummy. Other than that, wagging is not really her forte. Fancy is surprisingly dignified and reserved. She leaves the tail wagging shenanigans up to Pie. Who is now also contracting out to Dottie.


Dottie's new nickname is Nibbles. I shouldn't have to explain why. Except to those people who maybe think it should be Chompies instead.

I put on the t-shirt I brought to work today to run in and discovered a hole I must have overlooked after the "Dottie pulled all my t-shirts out of my shirt drawer while I was sleeping and taste tested half of them" episode. I ran in it anyway, but it will now be "retired."

A post came across one of the Belgian email lists I'm on about small Belgians doing bite work. Someone asked what do they mean by small? That question was never answered (is Dottie small?- read on!) but eventually the original poster wrote back to thank the people for sending her videos of a not quite 50 pound French Ring III Mal, and some Tervs in the high 40 pound range. Last time Dottie was at the vet she was only 39 pounds. She was too skinny and I fattened her up a bit in the past few weeks and now she is up to a huge 40 pounds. This talk of small Belgians made me remember my "Big Bertha" post. I looked it up at, and at the beginning of January, Dottie weighed 38 pounds. She was 7 months at the time. She was also approximately 19 inches because the post reports she is as tall as Fancy. Dottie is now 15 months old and about 22 inches. How is it possible she gained 3 inches and only 2 pounds? I went back at looked at pictures around that time period and she was bulkier than she is now, but not overweight. Strange.

It appears Dottie (for all of her height) is considered a small Belgian. She has been called a pin head by more than one person, so if you go by her head, she is a small one for sure. As she matures, she could still fill out and then maybe she will be considered normal sized. But there is no way her head will grow so if she does fill out, then she will be a mega pin head!

The good news is small Belgians (Dottie included) do not have trouble doing SchH. Dottie was on a full sized sleeve for the first time last week and actually carried it better than full sized/ big dog Pie.

Dottie had 2 good agility practices this week. She's not a star yet, but there might be hope that she won't be a total dud in agility. Note to self: Remember that from day one Dottie learned "out" means "bark." If you are messing around with the dogs in the back yard, trying to play armchair gamblers, this is why Dottie will not stop barking as you try to get Pie to go "out" away from you to take a jump.

In me news- I went home sick from work yesterday and slept for almost 18 hrs. Today I was much better.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Short Story" Follow Up

Apparently I caused some consternation in my family with my "Short Story." Of course that was not my intent. Some concerned members were worried it was a way of expressing my current state of mind and that I may be suicidal. I am sorry to the people I caused stress.

Here is the email I wrote to address the Story:

I'm glad you liked it but not glad you think that it reflects my life. I'm going to do a follow up on it on my blog, but the original title was "it is so fun to be so bad" Basically, I tried to incorporate a lot of bad writing techniques. Like too many adjectives. And way to many similes. And even a dangling participle. (What exactly was standing on the chair?) And the suicide at the end is there for 2 reasons. One- a story needs a beginning, middle and end and that is a quick end, and two- a suicide just because work got deleted doesn't make sense without some more information (like maybe the person was broke but this was going to be a best-selling novel and rescue them) so again, it is bad writing since it doesn't give any reason for the person's behavior. Plus, suicide is never heroic. That's lame. Anyway, I like to write poorly written stories because at first is seems easy but then you have to work to make it really bad and not just kind of bad. The fact that most people did not recognize it as purposefully poorly written story means either it wasn't bad enough or it must be a nerdy English major type of thing to do and only other English majors would get it.

(End Email.)

One member complained that I never write happy stories. In response to that I'll say I think I've only written a total of three stories in my life. 1) The fake story about Dottie scratching me. 2) My NaNoWriMo novel that no one has read and 3) The Short Story from earlier this week. So it isn't as if I am writing tons of depressing stories.

Also, happy stories are harder to write. Sad stories are easy because a story needs a climax and a climax is caused by drama or tension or some kind of bad thing happening. Will Lassie ever make it home? Will Lad survive the snake bite? (Don't even get me started on poor Black Beauty.) Will Kip run out of air while trying to save the Mother Thing? Most stories have a lot of sadness in them, but are not thought of that way because they turn out happy in the end. In the Short Story it did not have a happy ending because that would have taken too much work. This illustrates what English teachers and professors are always telling their students. You will get a bad grade if you write, "The author was suicidal because she wrote about suicide." Instead you have to examine what the suicide means to the story. Just because many Shakespearean characters were misogynistic does not mean the Bard was. Or, he could have been, but you are not allowed to draw that conclusion from his writing.

Another example is one of my favorite authors, Robin McKinley, frequently writes about women characters who end up doing heroic or unusual things. Her characters are not 2 dimensional "strong woman character." They have flaws, but they over come them and everything turns out right in the end. In a letter to me (I wrote her first) Robin McKinley says she never liked reading the typical "girl" novels about fashion and high school boyfriends. On her website she writes (paraphrasing here) that she was frustrated with the lack of stories involving an strong female lead. So, in this case, Robin McKinley's characters reflect...what? Herself? What she wants women to be like? What she thinks women are like? Even with her own input, all you can securely say about her main characters are they are similar in the ways discussed. Then back up the observation with quotes. Just because Robin McKinley says she disliked reading about girls and what they wore to high school does not mean she thinks girls should not dress fashionably to high school. All it means is what she said. She does not enjoy reading about it.

Going back to my Short Story, in the absence of a personal interview, all you can glean from my story about me as a writer is I need to go back to school to learn to write better. Nothing in the story links the character to me as a person. One clue is I do not wear ties. Not to work, and not ever. Except at some restaurants, females generally don't wear ties. In order to ease fears, I have granted a personal interview through this blog and informed my readers that the character is not me. And furthermore, I will say with 100% certainty, I would never commit suicide. Ignoring ALL the other reasons why I wouldn't do it, outside of my human family, the ones I care most about are my dogs. Sure, I try to have a plan in place in case I die an unexpected death (yikes) but to purposely take my life and therefore put their lives in danger is unthinkable. I worry enough about what will happen to them if I "pass on." No way I would voluntarily put them in such a horrible situation.

One more note on the sad topic of suicide. We have been having a lot of Suicide Prevention Briefings because in the AF, suicide is the number 1 cause of death, other than traffic accidents. If you ever do suspect someone is suicidal, and cannot get a hold of them on the phone or email, you must go find them, asap, before it is too late. Don't believe them if they tell you they are fine if they are showing some of the telltale signs. Our briefers tell us most suicides are preventable, but either people are afraid to get involved because of the risk of offending the person, or they do not believe the person will actually kill themselves.

A pretty weighty topic for this blog. I'll be sure to put disclaimers on any future stories and maybe I'll even take the time to try to write a happy story.