Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

Another Christmas come and gone! Had good times with my family.

First, we went to mass on Christmas Eve. My 2 brothers behind me.

Wearing my cape for pictures after wards.

The whole family that still lives in CA.

Pie posing with a bow on her tail.

Onto Christmas morning!

Dottie opening her present.

Pie almost ate her's with the wrapper on. I had to help.

Fancy carried hers around warped up until I helped her out.

My youngest bro, Dad and I went to see True Grit. It was good. My dogs waited for me to come home. Pie amused herself with her new toy, but Fancy apparently lay facing the front door until my Mom locked them up elsewhere.

My older younger bro got my dogs small rawhide bones. Fancy refused to eat hers, claiming it was too small. I supervised the Mals and they ate theirs carefully. Even if they had swallowed them whole, they are so small I don't think they would cause any problems.

Three dogs on the new toy.

Pie and Dottie. This isn't really a tug toy. It has lost a limb to Pie's chewing already. (While I was at the movie.)

Pie posing with the Mal Rescue Calendar I bought my Dad as a present.

Fancy posing with Dottie's new training dumbbell.

One brother got a Kinect and you have to move around while playing it. Dottie thought he was playing with her.

You can see a video of Dottie and I practicing with the dumbbell here:

And here is Fancy pestering my Mom to play with her:

And finally, Fancy being "vicious" while tugging.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Actual Conversation With A Co-Worker...

I posted this to the Belgian list, but it really did happen today so I wanted to share it with non-Belgian people also.

The Crime

One of my non-dog owning co-workers asked me, "What are you going to do with your dogs when you go away for 2 months?" Then, because he enjoys pestering me, he volunteered, "I’ll watch them."

I knew he wasn't serious but played along, because if I don't he'll sulk and continue to bother me anyway. "I don’t know that you would survive watching my dogs," I told him tartly.

(I have a four year old Malinois, a year and a half Malinois and a Tibetan Terrier who doesn't like you until she knows you. Not horribly difficult, but they do seem to baffle and exasperate non-dog people. But back to the story at hand...)

He was indignant at the thought that I believed watching my dogs was something that would be difficult for him. This co-worker thinks very highly of himself. "How hard can watching a couple of dogs be?" I saw him wondering.

"What are you talking about?" he challenged me. "I’ll just lock her in my room."

"She’s chewed through a wall once already," I countered.

"So I’ll put her in a cage," he responded with a smug smile, thinking
how cleaver he was to solve THAT problem.

I looked at him, so naive in his ignorance, and stated blandly, "She was IN a cage when she chewed through the wall."


And he shuffled off to his office, shoulders slumped, head down- defeated at last by the unlikeliness of adversaries: 40 pounds of cuteness in a package of short brown fur, just now tipping in black, with bright dark brown eyes shining from a black mask in a pointy fox face, whiskers quivering with impish excitement- and the desire to put something- anything!- in her mouth; Dottie in all her destructive glory.


I’m not one to brag about how horrible my dog is in a “Marley and Me” type of way, but Dottie’s bit of naughtiness as a younger puppy was worth it to silence my co-worker who has an answer to everything. And actually, she didn’t quite make it all the way through the wall in question because it was a wall to the outside. She made it through the drywall but was brought up short by the back of the stucco, and the fact that her muzzle could only fit so far through the bars of the crate. How she got as far as she did is still a mystery because the crate wasn’t even touching the wall. Darn pointy Belgian muzzles!

The Perpetrator and Defeater of Annoying Co-Workers

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cookie Time!

I traveled to my parent's house to bake Christmas cookies. Usually I just do the icing but this time I rolled out the dough, made the icing and did the decorating. That is a lot of baking work for this girl who doesn't cook. Luckily the dough was pre-made in a tub, I just had to roll it. Unluckily it seemed no matter how much flour I used, it was either always sticking to the rolling pin or the counter. More flour! I threw some on Dottie just for fun. When I threw it at Pie I think I got some in her eye and felt bad. I also had trouble with the red icing. It seems my mom puts one drop of red food coloring in and gets the perfect shade of Christmas Red. All I was getting was a pale Valentine Pink. Seems my mom knows something I don't. I ended up using the entire bottle.

Eventually I put my younger brother to work helping me decorate also. Here are some pictures from the big event.

All my dogs were hopeful. And their hope was rewarded because I dropped my Christmas Bat right in the dog bowl! (It was a Halloween cookie but was nice and big so I made one for myself.)
More decorating. Roscoe's (mom's aussie) agility ribbons in the back ground.
Dottie is peaking!

All nice and clean. And the cookies are yummy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Christmas Spirit

I gave my self a swift kick in the rear and got in the Christmas Spirit. I decorated my house. See?

Merry Christmas from my mailbox to yours.

Notice the very cute miniature (or just undersized?) Christmas plants. Ignore the un-festive generator and fuel can.

Also, I took pictures for the Christmas card but you have to wait to receive your card to see those! I'll post them later for the visitors to this blog who will not be receiving an actual card.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday!

To my brother who is younger than me by 2 years but the elder of my 2 brothers! Hope you have a great year!

Photo of Dust in a Sunbeam

I was trying to get a good picture of my dogs but instead I got this.

Dust floating around in my house.

Thrilling, I know.

Actually- it is. (Hint: I didn't really take this picture.)

A speck of dust in a sunbeam is one way to look at this photo, but a more accurate description is the tiny blue dot in the beam furthest on the right- just about right in the middle- is the "Pale Blue Dot" or, our planet Earth, photographed by Voyager 1, when it was around 3,781,782,502 miles from Earth.

I think Carl Sagan has some very profound thoughts on this image that he encouraged NASA to use Voyager to take:

In the book, Sagan related his thoughts on a deeper meaning of the photograph: from Wikipedia

(speech at Cornell University, October 13th, 1994)
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. (end quote)

Earth sure is small when viewed from so far away (huge understatement.) I find astronomy interesting anyway, but to relate this to the normal theme of my blog: I always do my best to remind myself dog training is a silly game. And this image helps me with that goal. If that is how small Earth is, I can't even imagine how small I and my dog training game is...Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in self-imposed goals or competition with yourself or other competitors. Training and showing can be frustrating due to traffic conditions, rude trial officials, self-centered competitors, weather, and dogs who seem to forget everything we've ever taught them and/or put forth no effort. But looking at that pale blue dot I remember nothing related to my training hobby really matters. And instead of discouraging me with a "why bother" mentality, thinking about the pale blue dot encourages me to have the most fun with my dogs I can. When living on a speck of dust surrounded by the vastness of "the black" (Firefly reference) it isn't important if if ever get Dottie to reach out and grab the dumbbell and return directly to me (rather than making a small loop and sightseeing) and how many bars Pie knocks has absolutely no significance to that dust speck- so I might as well stop stressing and obsessing and enjoy the journey.

Go back and look at the picture again. If you get out a magnifying glass and squint real hard you can see me sleeping with my three dogs cuddled up against me in the bed, warding off the winter chill. We have each other and are doing our best to "to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Boulder City Trial Day 2

Fancy did not show today. Pie ran clean in jumpers and I thought QQ number 19 was in our future, but in standard she took an off course to a tunnel. It was a hard a frame, tunnel discrimination that many dogs fell victim to. I thought we had it, but alas, no.

Dottie ran in Open jumpers and Open standard. She was clean in open jumpers for her fist open leg! In standard the same tunnel/ a frame discrimination was present but with and easier approach. Again I thought we had it but Dottie ducked into the tunnel at the last minute. This time she did not go under the table, but ran around it again.

We are having a specific training issue. I use the toy to get Dottie to drive ahead of me. If she thinks I have the toy on me, she'll stay next to me, which is not the purpose of the toy. However, when she thinks the toy is not on me, she spends the entire run trying to find the toy, which includes attempts to run out of the ring. Luckily Dottie comes when I call, but the purpose of the toy is not to distract her and have to call her firmly every few seconds while she tries to make a break for it. Sigh.

Our ribbons from the weekend. Fancy has a QQ Ribbon and Dottie has a New Title Ribbon.

In other news, I successfully backed the trailer into a parking spot today. The key is to move only the car's front wheels while the car is sitting still if you need the car to go in a different direction. I know that isn't ideal for the car's wheels, but it gets the trailer and car both going where I need them to.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Speaking of Rescue Mals

Speaking of rescue mals...(See post below...)

A Malinois was just pulled out of an animal shelter in Tulare County (Northern CA.)

She was there for 9 days while Malinois Rescue tried to arrange a foster family for her. Once one was found (meanwhile she hadn't been adopted and the law in CA is a stray only needs to be held for 5 days then can be euthanized) she was bailed out and a volunteer drove her to Davis, then from there she went on another trip to her new foster home.

One volunteer to bail her out, another to drive one leg of the journey, and then the big volunteer to foster her. Lots of volunteers make dog rescue work. Another volunteer person is the coordinator of all this and was altered when the dog was noticed in the shelter and begged people to go evaluate the dog, then drive her to the foster home and do the actual fostering. Money from the Rescue Calendar (post below) goes to getting her out of the shelter and vet bills. Most times the transporter donates the gas to drive the dog to the foster home (does not ask for reimbursement) and the foster home pays for all the dog's food and other equipment like grooming or flea treatment. Know that if you buy a Rescue Calendar (or just send a donation) your $ is going directly to help the dogs.

Anyway, here is a picture of the girl the foster home named Reeses (because she is sweet.) Look like anyone we know? Sound like anyone else we know??

Have Some Pie in July!

Pie is Miss July for the 2011 ABMC Rescue Calendar! (Thanks to all who voted for us.) She is also a small picture in October. Here is the link to order your calendar. Poor Dottie was not picked. However, the calendar is still great!

All proceeds go to Malinois Rescue to help great Mals in need, such as Pie and Dottie were before coming to live with me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Boulder City AKC Agility Trial

Here I am, living the exciting life on the road. Blogging from the trailer in the overnight parking spot at an AKC agility trail in thrilling Boulder City, NV.

I drove out Friday afternoon. The weather was hotter than it has been and the temp gauge on the car moved up and down, even when cresting only smallish hills. As we got further into the desert, the outside temperature dropped, which kept the car happy. There are a few very long grades, one over 16 miles, that I do not want to attempt in the summer.

On the way here, I spotted this car parked outside a shoe repair place:

Today I had all three dogs entered. Fancy had 2 clean runs and 2 second places! (The competition is not quite as stiff out here.) Pie knocked 2 bars in jumpers (our Mach 2 is no closer!) and was first in standard. Dottie moved up to open standard and knocked the first bar and also went under the table (weirdo!) In jumpers she was clean and took first and got her NAJ title. She still isn't moving with the speed I would like. I know she has it in her. It is a training issue that I have to figure out.

ffluffy made delicious stakes and fried potatoes for dinner. We were going to have backed potatoes in the microwave but the small generator can't run the microwave so that plan was tossed. The fried potatoes might be even better.... Right now the generator is chugging away, powering my laptop. The trailer has a battery which will run the interior lights and the water pump, until it is all used up.

Now all the dogs are napping and I will be soon also. I see it is still early, but I am tired and there isn't too much else to do.

Setting up some x-pens while Fancy watches.

Dottie sleeping on ffluffy's pillow.

Fancy under the bed, again...

Invitational Day Three

Three clean runs each! Good, good girls.

Yes, this is a bit late. Perhaps the outcome had me a tiny bit sad and I didn't feel like writing about it right away.

Fancy was up first in jumpers. The run went well until the second to last jump. I did a front cross right in front of a jump and when I moved out of the way, Fancy had only a split second to see the jump and attempt to jump it. She tried very hard to heave her body over the bar, but she was already at the base of the jump, and pretty much crashed right into the bar.

Next up was Pie. Run went well, up to the SAME EXACT JUMP! I sort of indicated the jump but didn't tell her to take it and she just came around with me, instead of taking the jump, earning us a refusal. I should have went back and had her fix it, but I was so demoralized by my own poor handling we just went on to the last jump. It turns out if I had fixed it we would have been the highest scoring Malinois and earned a pretty medallion, but that's ok. I'll imagine the medallion hanging on my wall, knowing Pie earned it except for my lack of agility handling skills.

The next round was a hybrid round with all the obstacles except the dog walk. We were out of the running for the finals so I just ran as fast as I could. Both girls did great. Pie finished seventh in that round.

Overall, I haven't checked were either dog ended up, but I know Pie was near the bottom since I didn't go back and fix the jump- we took a zero for that round.

I am very pleased with how both dogs ran. Fancy was fast and happy the entire time and Pie listened very well and did not knock any bars. Both tried super hard and if it wasn't for me and my spazmatic handling, both would have had four clean rounds. (We were soooo close!!)

After agility, Dottie tried dock diving. She went in the water from the ramp, but wouldn't jump off the dock. I think she might do it eventually, but isn't quite ready yet. Then we went up to Meet the Breeds and both Pie and Dottie represented the Malinois and got lots of pets. Pie loved it, as always- Dottie liked it, but not nearly as much as Pie. I always enjoy Meet the Breed because I get to talk to people about my favorite subject and my victims are willing listeners!

Here is what I wrote the night after the last day of the Invitational: I ♥ my dogs! I was just thinking about how hard Fancy tried to keep that bar up. I was blocking her view of it, and when I swung out of the way and she realized she was supposed to jump, and took off the minute she saw it, right from the ...base of the jump, doing her best to hike her body over it, but instead hitting the bar with her chest....why would she try so hard for a game she doesn't really care about? What does she care about pvc bars staying in their places? She gets her treats if she does well or not, right? Back before I understood how to keep Fancy moving fast in agility, I used to tell her she was wrong for knocking bars. She did her best to keep that bar up because I wanted her to and while she might not care about agility, she cares about doing what I want.

And Pie, who gets out there and has so much fun in each run...who isn't the fastest Malinois by a lot but who has a great time...she doesn't think- "You know, I wish I was a little faster. Wouldn't that be super?" She runs, then grabs her leash and thrashes it around, wishing she could have another go. The bond between dog and human and the joy of running is what is agility is about and both Fancy and Pie demonstrated that this weekend. No finals for us this year, and most likely not for 5 more years while the competition is in FL, but I was really reminded this weekend why I do agility, and while I treasure my dogs every day of my life, this weekend was a concrete example of how much that treasure is worth to me.

All the agility photos are from our last run.

Fancy was so fast she was just a blur. Or maybe the camera was on the wrong setting.

Good weaves.

Starting off strong.

A frame to tunnel.

I get ahead and am already directing the next jump before Pie took the previous one. Let's be nice to me and say since Pie is committed to the double, I no longer need to support (or direct?) is pretty amazing my dogs ever run a course clean, with a handler like me.

I think Pie is smiling.

I love all the random people taking our picture. We are famous!

Weaves... almost done.

This is a pretty fancy move for me. I left Pie in the weaves, and ran around the outside of this jump, so by the time she took it, I was already moving in the direction we were turning. I didn't see anyone else attempt it. I did it because we had nothing to loose, and it actually worked well. Also notice more random picture taking by strangers.

At Meet the Breed. Is anyone surprised Dottie and Pie both kept falling off the haybale?

Despite not making the finals, the 2010 Invitational was a great time for us. I wish it wasn't going to Florida next year. I've been invited and attended for the past five years, and missing it next year will be sad.

Rescue Dogs at the Invitational

We took this picture of the rescue dogs at the Invitational. Some dogs had already went home. And several people contacted me and let me know their rescue dog was invited but not able to make it (mostly due to financial reasons but one sad person told me their dog died suddenly.) But on a happier note, these dogs are all rescues and are doing very well in agility!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Terribly Exciting Dock Diving Video

Oh boy!

Invitational Day 2

What a great day! Fancy and Pie both ran clean in Standard and Jumpers. I think my new pants were lucky. They certainly were comfy. I will wear them again tomorrow and see what that does for me.

In addition to running well, Pie also got to do dock diving and we took random pictures. I'd say the dock diving was Pie's favorite thing so far. She's never been on a real dock diving dock before, but she could smell the water and see her ball and the whole time we were in line she was barking in excitement. I didn't let Fancy play because she is groomed all pretty and I didn't want a damp dog in the trailer. Dottie was back at the car so she didn't get to give it a try. Maybe next time.

Here are our pictures from the day:

Fancy and Hunda sleeping with ffluffy.

A nice group picture.

Pie trying on a hat which is too small.

This one fit better. I was going to buy Pie a hat but the owner of the store didn't like us testing them out so we left. I am careful when trying stuff on my dogs and never let my dogs play with toys before buying them, but I suppose all people aren't so careful.

Random people were walking by taking Pie's picture.

Dock diving.


Setting up the ring for jumpers.

Walking standard. And the crating area. My crates are in the first row on the end by the red chair. With a stranger crated between my 2 crates.

A giant dog.

Eukanuba stuff everywhere.

Onto day 2 of competition and Day 3 of the Invitational.