Monday, May 28, 2012

Unexpected Loss

The BLM Mustang I rode on a trail ride a few months back was killed in a trailer accident today.  His owner and owner's friend and dogs are all ok, but his owner's other horse who was also in the trailer was injured.  I read about it on Facebook.  I had the pleasure of riding him since his owner was too ill at the time to ride, and she needed other people to exercise her horse.  She is now well enough to be riding again, which is a blessing, but to loose a horse in an accident, especially after being so sick, is a terrible thing.

I believe animals get to live on after death.  I don't know if this is true for every mouse in the field, and every hawk in the sky, but I do know that love is the greatest force in the world.  Love is sharing your heart and soul, and if an animal is lucky enough to be loved by a human, or to love a human, a part of our soul is shared with them, and through that human soul, they live on.  Maybe that is sacrilege, but that is what I believe. 

Tragedies like this remind us to treasure every minute we have with our animals.  Maybe they chewed off a piece of the cabinet, (and maybe they didn't), maybe they ate the Pope Rosebush, and maybe they went for an unauthorized swim in the pool, but when the years have passed and the pet is gone, it isn't the chewed cabinet, eaten rosebush or fuzzy pool that will be remembered, it is all the times spent snuggling on the couch, all the hikes hiked, and comforting presence that will be remembered, longed for and missed.

Until you meet again...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday of Happy Dog USDAA

Our runs from Sunday, minus Pairs.  We Qed in that, and ran clean, but the batteries died, so it didn't get recorded.   The last run is filmed on my tablet.  The quality is very clear, but you can't zoom in.

Dottie was good AGAIN today!  No running around jumps, blowing me off, acting disinterested- none of it.  She got every single weave entry AND stayed in the entire time, minus one.  That is really good since USDAA has a million weaves for a weekend.  I'm so proud of Dottie!
4 Qs per day!  2 standard, 2 jummpers, 2 gamblers, 1 snooker and 1 relay.

Fancy was not impressed with the lack of cookies.  She did get some, just not as many as she would have gotten if she was entered.

Dottie snoozing on the couch (loveseat, really) after her long day of agility.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dottie's Happy Dog USDAA Videos

All in one.  She was so focused today!

Another One Bites the Dust

I caught yet another gopher today.  This one eluded me for a while, and I was concerned I was outsmarted at last.  He made several mounds right outside my grassy area and I attempted to get him then.  But he always back filled his tunnels, so I couldn't find a place to put the traps.  I gave up, hoping he'd go away (I know..., but what other choice did I have?) until he came back and put a mound in the grass.  Darn.  So I dug that mound up, and found only 1 tunnel leading from it.  I put the trap there, and BAM!  I got him!  I'm concerned I'm weeding out all the less intelligent gophers, leaving the smarties behind, which is why he was more difficult to catch. 

Pie was impressed with my catch, but I didn't let her close, because I'm sure it had all kinds of gross diseases or bugs.  Perhaps not, but I'm not taking chances.


Today was a bad day for Belgians hurting me.  First Dottie's dew claw struck again, leaving me with a bloody gash on my inner thigh.  Probably I shouldn't play tug without pants on.  But sometimes it is too nice to be in pants!  Next I was trying to make Pie feel better (since she wasn't entered) and I had her out playing tug with the leash and she came snapping up the leash and snapped my bosom!  And on top of that my right bicep was sore, which I thought was odd since I didn't do anything to make it sore, but then I remembered that is where Pie bit me (accidentally, of course) the other night.  It only has a light bruise.  Next time I'm getting a papillon.

In better news, Dottie was so good all day!  She will never be the fastest dog, but she was focused and listening and running at a good speed for her.  She Qed in everything except Grand Prix (which is a tough standard course with no table) but even then she did everything right, I just called her over a bar and it came down.  Good Dottie!  (Everything= starters standard, jumpers, gamblers and snooker.)

Neither Fancy or Pie were entered for 2 reasons.  1) Focus on Dottie and give her the time and attention she needs to be the best she can be.  2) Save money.

I put Dottie in championship, which jumps 26 inches.  That means the legs we got at 22 inches don't count so we are starting over.  She jumped 26 inches fine.  She really is a nice jumper.  I think her poor conformation actually makes her a nice jumper.  I know that doesn't sound like it would be true, but she doesn't jump like other Malinois, nor is she build like other Mals.   So that is the conclusion I came up with.

Tomorrow is USDAA again, then we are taking a hike on Monday, if all goes according to plan.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dottie Turns 3!

 Actually not until June 1st, but I got confused and thought today was June first. I already took the pictures so I thought I'd post them early!

Not bad for three years old: IPO 3, CD (1 CDX leg and just need to enter another show), TD (ready for TDX, couldn't get in any trials), VCD 1, AX, MXJ.

But first, a review of what she used to look like:
Her first day out of quarantine at 4 months old.

Looking very cute on her first beach trip as a puppy!

Being small next to Pie. 

Bacon (who is now living in Boston) and Pickle help celebrate her first birthday.

Looking  more mature at 1 year old.

Dottie at 2 years old.  I think she looks the same as she does at 3.

3 years old and looking good!
Maybe if I look happy it will be over sooner?
I'm guessing she will get revenge at our next big event.
I am SO done with this!
Her sisters help her celebrate.

Fancy starts to loose her hat.

Going.... more....

Poor Fancy.

Now I'm happy.

I brought a cake to training night.  Any excuse for a cake!
There was only 1 cake, but Blogger is odd.
Dottie took the jump in her hat, but the low light made it blurry.

Some of the club dogs also helped us celebrate.

See the link at top for those pictures.


My youngest brother graduated from High School on Wednesday! The class of 2012!!! (He is 12 years younger than me, for those who were wondering.)

Congratulations to YB! (Youngest Brother.) He is a fine young man and upstanding citizen, AND an Eagle Scout.
Crowd of well wishers.
All nice and orderly.  Over 500 graduates.  And that is just one of the local schools!
Shaking principal's hand.
Brother and parents.
Brother and sister.

L to R- family friend, brother, graduating brother, Mom, me, Dad.

After the graduation we headed out for a late dinner.
He liked the smilely face I drew.
Free sundae and I brought the giant balloon!

He is now off to the local community college where his 3 siblings started before heading to the 4 year university.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Here in Southern CA we didn't get to see the Ring of Fire.  I did see a chunk out of the sun, but it never got very big.  I know you aren't supposed to look right at it, but I did, just a little.  I couldn't figure out the paper poking thing.  I had sunglasses on.  The best view I ended up getting was through my big camera.  None of my pictures turned out.  Although I did play around with the contrast on one and even though you can't see the eclipse, the picture is kind of neat.
Picture of the sun, but the eclipse did not show up.
Fancy and Pie were not impressed.

The next 2 pictures are from today...
Fancy enjoys laying in the shade in the dirt when it is warmer outside.

Ahhh!  I'm a weirdo!

Yum, Yum, Yum!

I cooked chicken pot pie for the first time on Saturday night.  Most of you know my cooking consists of frying ham and nuking a baked pototo.  Also scooping out the cookie dough for chocolate chip cookies and breaking open 2 eggs and mixing up the brownie batter out of the box.  When I still lived in the Rosewood Apartments I did make pepper steak.  That was yummy and I should try it again.  Other than that I eat frozen food or eat out.

For the pot pie I bought the pre-made crusts, canned peas and a pre-cooked chicken.  I did peel the potato myself.  

My first mistake was after putting the bottom crust down I put the peas in first.  They should have gone in last, because now they were forming a carpet on the bottom.  It was a pea layer.

Next I put in the chicken and then the potatoes.  I finished it off with the chicken broth.  Due to a misunderstanding, I didn't buy enough, and that was the one thing that didn't turn out quite right.  That and the layer of peas on the bottom!

I almost didn't have enough crust, but I made it work.  I let it cook for 2 hrs.  Even with the tin foil on the sides, the sides got a bit crispy, and the top turned out flakier than when my mom makes it.  Also, it was very thin.  My mom's would have had more substance.  However the potatoes were very soft.
Ready for the top crust.

Ready for the oven.
All done!
A bit thin.
Does it look like a picture you'd see in a menu? 
Still, it was good, and I had leftovers for lunch Monday and I'll have them again tomorrow and will skip Wednesday but eat them on Thursday and possibly Friday.  I made a lot.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Peeping Tom

Had the dogs outside while I did some stuff inside. But Dottie can't have fun in the yard unless I'm out there with her. Otherwise she spends the entire time doing this. Either that or she is trying to creep me out by being a peeping Tom.

Fancy will sunbathe, and Pie will try to catch bees or keep her eye on any passerbys, but Dottie just stares inside.   

 Here is the Peeping Tom Dottie is trying to catch a glimpse of me from a different window. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dog Training!

Finally!  I feel like I haven't done any training outside of club practice or agility lessons for months!  I haven't tracked since work started getting busy for our inspection.  But that will be over next week so hopefully I can start that back up.

I just joined a Facebook Group abut cross training dogs.  Mostly dedicated to dogs who do bitesports and other sports, but any cross training talk is allowed.  I was having trouble with Dottie not understanding the utility articles, and I thought perhaps the tracking articles confused her.  This is what I wrote:

Here is a cross-over problem I'd love help with. Scent articles in utility vs tracking articles. Dottie goes to the article pile in utility and lays down either at the first article she sees, or amongst them, and indicates a random article. We indicate the articles in tracking, so that is where the laying down is from. I don't mind that she isn't retrieving it, if it was the correct one, I'd just tell her "yes, bring." I think the problem is my scent is all over the ground since I stood there putting the articles out. So even though the article she is indicating isn't scented, the ground under it is. However, she does not give false indications on items found while on a track, including trash that has blown into a footstep after I laid the track, or a piece of hose stepped on while laying the track, so she understand (in tracking) the difference between a scented article and an unscented one found on the track. So perhaps the problem isn't that the ground under the article pile is scented. In teaching the utility articles I've tried the retrieve method which did not work (it worked amazing with my Tibetan Terrier, but not with my other Malinois) and also the method of putting food in Altoids type containers. With more than one container out, she picks one at random and indicates it. Help!

End post.

After posting that, I decided to get it on video so other people can see the problems, and maybe offer help.  Since I've already worked food in just one container, I started off with three.  Much to my surprise, she did much better!  I eventually progressed to 5 containers, then sending to the pile, then even once or twice with no food, and just my scent.  She messed up a few times, but that is fine, she seems to be "getting" it much better.  She seems a little stressed, which isn't good.  Not only do I want her to be having fun, but also a stressed dog is more likely to make mistakes.  Hopefully as she understands better, her confidence will build and the stress will diminish.

One reason she could have been doing better is previously I only tried it inside.  Perhaps my scent is too strong inside and it was washing over everything, including the food smell.  Also, this time I used really stinky treats.  Usually I don't have such smelly treats, but by good luck I did.

Here is the video.

PS- It is never fun to hear how annoying you sound while training dogs.  I bet the dogs find it annoying also.

I'm happy with where we are!  I think we will continue to progress.  Now I must work on signals.  So far not so good.  But as I tell my student every time we practice signals with her dog, it takes a lot of time and training.  Unless you are Fancy, then it happens magically.

Drill tomorrow, for the second time this month.  But then we don't drill in June, so I can show every weekend!  And I might do that, since I showed so little in May, and IPO has been taking up other weekends and I just haven't been doing as much agility as I'd like.  Dottie needs more than just ONE lonely MX leg.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

House Shopping

I've been house shopping for years now.  I seem to recall the first time I was serious was back in 2008, when the prices started to come down.  I remember because I was standing in the driveway of the guest house I was renting, talking to one of my parents on the phone, and I said I might buy myself a condo for Christmas.  It was not Christmas time, but apparently I thought I'd be more ready by Christmas.  I ended up deciding against the condo due to the lack of yard, HOAs that probably limit the number of dogs and the HOA fee.  But at the time I did get pre-approved for a loan and had a realtor and everything.

Before 2008 I had longingly looked at houses online, but knew I could never afford one.

Here it is 4 years later after my first serious attempts to buy a house.  I make more money now, my credit is even better, interest rates are the lowest they've ever been in my lifetime and house prices are supposedly cheap.  On one real estate website I frequent, someone asked, "What are you (meaning a collective you) waiting for?"

I'm waiting to find a home I can afford.  Even with everything in my favor, home prices are still out of my reach.  Every so often one comes along in one of the towns I want to live in, with an ok sized yard, and it is in my price range.  I get all excited and contact my realtor, only to be told it already has 20 offers, and half of those are cash buyers.  Or as in one case, even though it was not mentioned on the website, the foundations has serious cracks and will need thousands of dollars in repairs.

When I went to see a few houses years ago, it wasn't cash buyers who beat me out, but people offering over $100k the asking price.  So even though on paper I could afford the houses, in reality I could not.

Now it seems houses may be selling for under the asking price, but it is those "investors" with their all cash offers who are taking all the houses I might be able to afford.

I'm living in this studio to save money to be in a stronger position to buy a house.  I think I've done everything right.  I have good credit, I have cash for closing costs (I was planning on going VA so I don't need a down payment but as things are going, I am saving cash for down payment also) and as of right now  I don't even have a car loan (although that could change), and no credit card balances to pay off, and no student loans. 

Sigh- it is very discouraging.  It is almost enough for me to email the landlady of the blue duplex and tell her to contact me next time it is open for rent.  Rent there with the nice big yard in my favorite city until I retire then buy something somewhere cheap and then it will be my turn to be a cash buyer.

I could buy a house in the town close to me with a high gang population, or buy a house in the safe town 2 towns over and drive over 40 minuets to work and have a small yard and live in a hot place.  I know lots of people drive far to get to work, but I guess I'd rather rent than be one of those people.  If I'm going to spend the money, I want the perfect house.  Or if I can't have the perfect house, it has to at least be in the town I want to live in.  I've lived enough places now to know that it won't do to be unsatisfied with a house you bought.  If you are renting you can move, but that isn't an option when you just bought.

The further I get from work, the bigger the yard has to be to justify moving there.  Big yards in Southern California are few and far between.  When it comes to the house itself, I am easy to please.  I want at least 2 bedrooms, and it must be structurally sound with no major repairs needed.  I don't care it if needs "updating."  I don't think a house "needs" updating.  I think a house could "need" repairs, but updating isn't necessary, it is nice to have.  All of the places I've rented could have used updating, so I'm used to it.

And so the search continues, but it also continues to depress me.

Old Picture

My parents found a disk labeled Dog Videos and this was one of the pictures on it.  Fancy looks a lot like the Luck Dragon from Never Ending Story in this picture.  This was right after I got her.  You can tell by the bootie where she impaled her foot trying to get out of the crate.  I have no idea how I put up with so much hair on Bloom without shaving him.  Especially since it matted horribly and he hated to be brushed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Late Mother's Day

To the Best Mom Ever!

PS- I love this picture!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sleeping Dogs

I haven't abandoned this blog, I've just been busy with work, and don't have much to report on.

But since I do want to post something, here are some pictures.  I take a lot of pictures of my dogs sleeping or using beds.  Most of  these pictures have been seen before, but here are a few of my favorites.  None of these photos were posed.

I have many more of Pie sleeping oddly, but they are on my older computer.

Pie sleeps on her back a lot.  With all 4 feet up in the air.  Even better when it is on the couch.
Dottie sleeping on the bed, and Hanky on the floor at the IPO Regionals.

She was asleep but woke up when I went for the camera.

Dottie trying to imitate Fancy.  Love the bone that she had been chewing on.

No bed for Fancy this time.

Once again coming off the bed.  This is one of the expensive ortho beds.  They are really comfy!

At the IPO Regional Hotel.  She got up here uninvited and took a nap.

Pie is too silly to be allowed.

Remember- not posed!

Another bed, another Pie picture with her head off.

Shhh... the puppy is sleeping.
Dogs are not supposed to be on the bed unless I invite them, but Pie doesn't agree.

Dottie using the dog bed.  What a concept. 

Pie on the couch with a pillow and a foot over Dottie.

A lot of times Pie falls off beds.

Fancy mostly sleeps in a ball.  This was at ffluffy's house.

Noone knows how Pie fit in this tiny dog bed.

Dottie taking over ffluffy's bed in the trailer.

While Fancy makes do under the bed.

They woke up after I got a few pictures, but even away they provided some good shots.

Both Mals alseep on my bed.
Pie.  Again.

Fancy doing her customary "ball."  This was probably 4-5 years ago.

And this time a shaved Fancy.
Soon after I got Pie.  Bought a nice big bed for her, but she insisted on using Fancy's.
The sad thing is Pie hasn't slept in a ball for a really long time, on account of
her spine being fused. 

Actually using her bed, but choosing to not fit and using my sandal and a toy for a pillow.
All 3 current dogs napping at once.
Bacon being out of chronological order.  I left him in the car and came back to find him napping here.