Friday, December 31, 2010

Just a Few Hours Early

An early happy birthday to Princess Pretty Pants (Georgia) and her litter mates. Tomorrow is their first birthday! My how time flies.


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The Best Laid Plans

Today's post was going to consist of my reflections on 2010 and my hopes and dreams for 2011. Five Red Dogs have deemed it otherwise.

UHM is in Pasadena, CA, this weekend watching her beloved Wisconsin Badgers play in the Rose Bowl. I dropped her off at the airport at 5am yesterday and she will be home around 4:30pm on Sunday - if all goes as planned. In the meantime, I have the care and feeding of the entire Horde.

I don't think I've ever mentioned the fact that the Horde don't all get along with each other. Sam cannot interact with Bogey or Georgia, at all. Moira and Georgia don't care for each other either. Dog movement within our home is a carefully choreographed dance of opening and shutting doors and baby gates to move groups of dogs from one space to another. It's fairly easy to accomplish with two people. Alone, you are in an almost constant state of motion to keep everyone fed, pottied, happily engaged with appropriate items to chew, etc. You would think that night time would be the easiest. Sam, Ginny & Moira sleep in my room with me. Bogey and Georgia sleeping in UHM's room - alone.

Our dogs are crated during the day while we are at work. For that reason, I am reluctant to crate them at night - even in circumstances like these where there is a lack of supervision. I should have crated Georgia last night.

Georgia has a history of chewing on inappropriate items. Even as a little puppy she and her siblings destroyed a cell phone. She's chewed a variety of inappropriate items since she came to live with us with plastics being a favorite: the dog sitter's BlackBerry being the best example. UHM had "Georgia-proofed" her room though and I made a second pass before bed last night. Everything was secure.

Moira got me up at 4 this morning. I let her, Sam & Gin outside and checked on the baby dogs. One of UHM's pillows was on the floor, sans pillowcase. The pillow was fine. The pillowcase was shredded. Ok. Picked everything up, brought the big dogs in, secured them in my room, let the baby dogs out. Eventually got everyone back in the house and secured in their appropriate rooms. Then tried, unsuccessfully, to go back to sleep.

6:45am, I heard a 'thunk' in UHM's room. I didn't bother to investigate because, what could they possibly have gotten into?

7:15am, the big dogs want to go out again. I let them out and then check on the baby dogs. This is what I found....


So, I'm up now. Bogey and Georgia are in the living room. Bogey is quietly working on a chewie - he's such a good boy. Georgia is barking at nothing. Sam and Ginny are in the office with me. Moira is in the front room, barking at nothing because Georgia is barking. Everyone needs breakfast. It's going to be a long 4 days.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

15 Minutes of Fame

Sam is getting another 15 minutes of fame this year. His photo is once again included in the PH catalog.


Here's a link to the product page.

This is his second appearance in a PH catalog. His first was in the Spring 2010 catalog and can still be found on the site here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Super Cute

Now that the holidays are almost over, I have a little time to share a great shopping find that UHM made. The company is Best Friends Studios and they have some super cute pet-centric items that can be customized and personalized.

UHM got me the Preppy Dogs Argyle Notecards and the Bright Floral Dog Breed Luggage Tags in Lime.

The thing I was most impressed with is the fact that after UHM contacted them about a Cardigan silhouette, they actually returned her email and added a Cardi to their line up. Talk about great customer service!

I hope you all will repay their willingness to expand their product line by shopping with them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Laughing At Or With Me

Today was one of THOSE days. It started innocently enough with Moira getting everyone up at 5:30, as she always does. UHM and I went through our usual routine of getting ready for work, although UHM needed to leave a little earlier than usual. She left and I finished up with the dogs - letting everyone out in shifts, filling water buckets, etc. And that's where things went awry.

When I went to crate Bogey and Georgia, I realized we were out of treats. Horrors! I grabbed a few pieces of kibble to use as treats and called the youngsters into the room where their crates are. Georgia went in her crate, then Bogey went in his. As I gave them each a couple pieces of kibble I noticed that someone had spilled a bunch of water in B's crate. That really needed to be mopped up before I put him in there for the day. I trooped back to the laundry room, with Bogey following me to get a towel. I mopped up the crate, trooped back to the laundry room with the wet towel and then got a new towel to go in his crate. B went in his room and I moved on to getting the rest of the Horde in the house and crated.

Late this afternoon UHM calls me and asks, "Do you know what YOUR puppy did today?" That's always a bad sign. Apparently, in my distraction over the lack of treats and wet crate, I forgot to latch Georgia's crate. She took advantage of the freedom to wander the house, raid the litter box and spread litter and clumps of cat pee all over the house. This was discovered when the dog walker arrived midday.

When I got home this evening I avoided all the piles of kitty litter scattered throughout the house, let the big dogs out in the backyard, changed my shoes and got the baby dogs out of their crates. While I was in my room changing shoes, I realized Georgia had been in my room earlier in the day and pottied herself on the rug. GREAT! Something else to clean up. I took the baby dogs out the front door for a quick potty break and then headed back into the house to start the clean up. But first, I needed to take a bio-break myself.

While I'm in the bathrooom, I hear the unmistakable sounds of Georgia chasing/harassing Grace the cat. Grace is elderly and can't move as fast as G so I jumped up, hollered at Georgia to "leave the kitty", struggled to get my pants up and bolted out of the bathroom intent on saving Grace.

While I'm hollering at Georgia and trying to catch her so I can crate her until UHM gets home, I hear someone say my name at the front door. Thinking it was UHM needing help carrying in groceries or something, I responded with a rather loud and nasty "WHAT!!!!!"

It wasn't UHM. It was one of our lovely neighbors, her husband and their teenage son, who is home from college, coming by to deliver a Christmas gift to us. I'm standing in the living room, screaming at both the dog and my neighbor with my jeans unzipped when I realized just who was at the door.

Of course I pulled my sweater down over the unzipped jeans, apologized profusely, accepted their lovely gift, got the jar of homemade chocolate sauce out of the fridge that was our gift to them and promised to see them Friday evening at a get-together at their house. I wonder if my blush will have faded by then?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Panic Room

This is our third winter with UHM.  One of the things I love about this house is that it has a fireplace.  There is just nothing better than sitting in front of a fire on a cold day.  When we've lost power it has been the sole source of heat in the house, as well as the oven for baking potatoes.  When we want a special treat, we toast marshmallows in it.

Of course, with fire comes a certain amount of danger.  Yes, we've had holes singed in carpets and blankets from popping coals.  And there was one incident w/a flaming marshmallow and Ginny - don't worry, she didn't get hurt but she did have to spend some time licking melted marshmallow out of her coat.

This year Moira has decided the fire is truly, truly dangerous.  Moira is well known for taking the smallest thing and blowing it way out of proportion.  For example - "The water bowl has moved!  I can't come in that room now."  The fire phobia is puzzling and really extreme though.

The fire has never bothered Moira before.  She's been oblivious to the snapping, popping and dancing lights.  To my knowledge, she's never touched a burning spark or been hit by one either.  This year though she will literally try to climb the walls to get out of the room with the fireplace.  When she does get out of the room, she retreats to the other end of the house, preferably UHM's bathroom, and barks nonstop. We've taken to calling it the Panic Room.  As is, "Where's Moira?  Oh, she's in the panic room."

Anyone else have a dog with this kind of phobia?  What have you done about it?  Moira is pretty immune to Rescue Remedy and even 5mg of Valium barely touches her.  Thoughts blogosphere friends?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Has it really been 5 years?

I was just looking at the calendar and then at Sammy and realized that it was 5 years ago this weekend that we embarked on his career as a show dog.  Well, we'd been to a couple shows prior but this was the weekend when we finally put some big points on the board - back to back 4 point majors at the shows in Worcester, MA.

That Friday night I drove Sam up to Michele Neubauer's house to be bathed and groomed by Lori Kopreski.  On the way home, I saw a shooting star and thought, "Maybe that's a sign."  Turns out it was.  If I remember right, it snowed like crazy that weekend too.  Lori was frantic thinking Sammy's coat would go berserk with the humidity.  It didn't - we were able to brush the snow right off and you couldn't tell he'd been out in it.

On Saturday, an unknown Canadian judge pointed to Sam for WD and BOWs.  Then on Sunday Mr. Lester Mapes found him for WD.  For all but one point, Sam was handled by Lori Kopreski.

It's also been five years since my dear friend, Sam Gardner Sr., passed away.  He died, unexpectedly, just 4 days after Sammy got his majors.  I was so pleased he knew when he died that Sam was on his way to becoming a champion.  He and Sammy were buds and it was thanks to Big Sam that Sammy came to live with me and stayed with me - even when Marla wasn't sure I would be able to handle the big, red dog. To this day, every time I or one of my dogs enter the breed ring, I send a little message up to Big Sam.  I ask him to help me be a good handler, to help my dog to behave and to help the judge find my dog when it comes time to hand out the points :)

Next weekend Sam's youngest daughter, Georgia, is heading to shows in Winston-Salem, NC.  There are 3 point majors both days.  Maybe she'll follow in her father's footsteps and take the points both days.  I'm watching for a sign and frantically sending Big Sam messages.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Travelogue - Part 2

UHM and I made it to Jamaica right on time and with no trouble.  It was a very long day but we were happy to get to the resort, indulge in a rum drink, wander around a bit and then get ready for dinner.  After dinner, I have no memories - I pretty literally passed out and slept until 9:30 the next morning.

Friday was spent lounging by the pool and sipping on rum and fruit juice concoctions.  It was positively lovely.  Friday night we took a shuttle to another restaurant on the property.   A really lovely restaurant high on a hill overlooking a golf course and the Caribbean sea.  About 2/3 of the way through our meal, one of the restaurant managers stopped by our table to chat and be sure we were enjoying ourselves.

During the course of the conversation, UHM commented that she was sorry we had arrived when the light was failing because she really wanted to show me the "Monkey No Climb" trees on the course.  The manager looked at her oddly and said, "What kind of trees?"  UHM replied, "The Monkey No Climb" trees.  They have thorns on the trunk so the monkeys can't climb them."

Again, the manager was puzzled.  She asked where UHM had heard of these trees and UHM replied, on her last visit to the island the golf caddies had told her about them.  Then the manager began to laugh - long and loud.  The caddies had been pulling UHM's leg.  There are no monkeys on the island of Jamaica so why would there be a  tree called the Monkey No Climb tree.  There are palms on the course that are difficult to climb but, to the manager's knowledge nothing like the tree UHM described.

I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time.  It was such a classic case of the locals amusing themselves at the cost of the tourist.

Now, to give UHM credit when we got home I Googled "Monkey No Climb tree" and there is a species of tree called that but it is not native to Jamaica and, as far as I could tell it doesn't grow there either.

Moral of this story - if a local tells you something that seems pretty cool, it might be a good idea to research it before you go telling anyone else about it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Travelogue - Part 1

UHM and I decamped from VA for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and indulged in some sunshine and rum in Jamaica!  We had a wonderful sitter stay with Sam, Ginny, Moira and Georgia.  Bogey went to stay with our regular dog-walker where he can run and play all day with his dog pals.

Our flight left bright and early Thursday morning.  Ok, it wasn't bright - it was just early.  5:30am to be exact.  Ugh.  Then we had a 5 hour lay-over in Charlotte, NC.  I love the Charlotte airport.  It's just a nice, newer-feeling airport but 5 hours in any airport is too long.  That's especially true when facilities has turned down the heat in the airport in anticipation of the holiday crowds.  I was freezing!

While waiting in line at Starbucks I saw a young woman accompanied by a man about her own age and an older gentleman - he was probably in his 50s.  The young woman was dressed in a very cute but lightweight blue dress and flip flops.  I told her the dress was adorable but that she was going to freeze if she had to wait long for a flight.  She replied that, at the moment,  she was actually quite warm.  The older gentleman added that she had just been "legally groped" by the TSA.

I replied, "Gee, how come that never happens to me?"  To which the older gentlemen replied......

"They only want the young ones.  We know how it is."

And thus, my illusion of youth was shattered in Starbucks at the Charlotte airport.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Regression Analysis

Three weeks ago I was super pleased  with how Moira did at the MadCo Agility trial.  The last couple agility classes haven't been anywhere near as good.

I know that part of any dog training is regression.  You think you've got everything pretty well nailed down and then your dog decides that she's never heard the word down before or never seen a tunnel in her life.  That's where we are right now.  Moira has decided that it's ok to blow me off in class.

I have to work very hard at the beginning of each run to get her to connect with me - something that hadn't been a problem for quite some time.  The beautiful down-stay that we worked all summer on - and that still exists at home - has disappeared in class.

On the plus side, she's jumping beautifully and, when we do connect, her runs are quite pretty (I still look a little like Phoebe).  It's just such a let-down from the stunning run-throughs we had a month ago.  I really thought we were at a place where we could 'go to the next level' and start working on more advanced things.  It's especially disappointing that this is happening at the start of winter when we won't be able to practice as much to try to work through these issues.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No-Sew Crafty Project

This is a project I've been planning for a little while.  I just needed to have a weekend at home to get it done.  I love patchwork quilts and I love the whole Shabby Chic color palette but I don't have the $$ for real Shabby Chic and I don't have the patience to quilt so I came up with this idea.

I bought 8, 8x8" artist's canvasses at Michael's and then I went to a couple different quilting stores and bought fabrics that I loved in my color way.  I stretched the fabrics over the canvasses and stapled them into place, making sure I had nice, neat corners.  Lastly, I hung them on my bedroom wall in a checkerboard pattern using my wall color, a very, very pale pink, as the background/solid squares.













Now that it's on the wall, I think I'll buy some picture frame molding and build a "frame" around it, just to finish things off.

I've recently bought some pretty simple quilt patterns that can be sized down to table toppers or wall hangings.  I may try making those and doing the same sort of thing - buying a canvas to stretch the finished top  on for hanging.  After all, it's coming up on winter and I should have time for these kinds of projects, right?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Graceful I Am Not

Ra and I had agility class last night - our first since the Halloween trial.  At one point our instructor took me aside and suggested I watch the video from our first run (Saturday) again.  Here it is....

Patty, our instructor, pointed out that my arms are flailing all over the place and that could very well have been why Ra went so wild and had such a crappy run.  Hmmmm.  Watching it again, I am strongly reminded of this.



Anyone else think my running style bears a strong resemblance to Phoebe's?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Idle Hands

They say that idle hands are the Devil's tools.  I think the Devil has had to find other tools lately as I've been busy, busy, busy.

Moira's agility trial and birthday on Halloween weekend were a lot of fun.  Here's a video from her run on Sunday.  This was the better of our two runs that weekend.  We are in the background to start.  My instructor shot the video and she was closer to the end of the course than the beginning.



Then my mother came into town on the 3rd for a visit.  Friday we took Sam to see Dr. Dove (aka The Glove) in Gainesville, VA.  It was past time to get him collected on and frozen.  Fortunately, Miss Georgia cooperated by being in season and giving Sam something to think about.....  who needs Playdog when you have the real thing!?!

The 6th was the 76th running of the Montpelier Hunt Races in Orange, VA.  If you've never been to steeplechase races and want to see them close up and personal, I highly recommend coming to these races.  There aren't too many things I can think of that are more thrilling than standing on the rail watching equine athletes thunder past you.  It helps that you can have an adult beverage in your hand and share the fun with friends too!

Sunday Ellen (mom)and I drove over to Williamsburg, VA.  We had a nice time there doing a little shopping and just visiting.  Ellen flew back to MO yesterday.

So, there you have a quick recap of the last 2 weeks.  Now it's time for the holiday rush at work and who knows how much time I will have to post.  But you might get some fun pictures from the Thanksgiving weekend.......I'm hearing reggae and thinking about drinking rum.......

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When Good Dogs Get Mad

Today Moira, Bogey and Georgia got to go on an outing to the Mattaponi KC agility trial.  Sam and Gin stayed home.  Unfortunately, the day ran long.  This is what Gin thinks about that....

The tote bag was hanging from a shelf support near Gin's crate so she had to work to get it.  Now I get to clean up the mess.  Serves me right.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Change of Venue

Moira is entered in an agility trial this weekend.  She's actually just entered on Saturday and the only reason I entered the trial is because a friend from New England is judging.

Anyway, the trial was supposed to be held at a horse barn in NoVa.  We went to a trial there earlier this year and didn't do well at all.  The noise was more than my girl could deal with.  Over the weekend I got an email indicating that the horse barn was closing and they were looking for a new trial site.  Wow!  That happened fast! Those of you who are on trial committees know how far in advance these things are planned.  To lose a venue barely a week before an event is crazy-making.

This morning I got another email indicating a new trial site had been secured.  All in all, I like this site LOADS better.  We will be journeying to Morven Park in Leesburg, VA.  If you click on the Mansion and Grounds and scroll down you will see a map of the grounds.  The trial will take place in the area known as "The Green."  How cool is that?  What a beautiful place to spend a fall day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Am a Convert

First, thanks to UHM for the guest post while I was out of town at the dog show.  Second, no we didn't get any points :( but, as a neighbor pointed out, Georgia got some "experience under her collar."  So did I, for that matter.

Now, on to my conversion.  My job does not require me to dress up.  If I did, people would wonder if I had a job interview.  I am quite happy wearing jeans to work every day - although sometimes I change it up by wearing khakis or cords!  Dog shows are a different thing though.  I feel obligated to look nice at dog shows.  My mentors have taught me that looking nice- even wearing a little bling - is a good thing.  For fall/winter shows that also means wearing stockings.  You know, nylons, pantyhose, whatever your mother taught you to call them.  Mine called them stockings.  I hate stockings.  I was never so happy as when company dress codes started to relax and I didn't have to wear them.  Now I have to wear them again - and for DOG SHOWS!  It's not like I'm even getting paid to dress nicely.

Knowing I would need stockings for this weekend, I gritted my teeth and bought a pair.  Only I didn't buy regular, control-top, light support stockings.  I took a chance, I listened to what I've been seeing and hearing in the media for the last several years and I bought Spanx.  Only I didn't really buy Spanx, I bought the Target brand, designed by the same woman who brought us Spanx.  The name they sell under is almost embarrassing - Assets.  Yes, I bought some Assets.  Ok, that makes it sound a little better.

Saturday morning I showered, shaved my legs, blow dried my hair, cursed because I didn't bring what little make up I do wear and then prepared to do battle with my Assets.  Anyone who has ever pulled on a pair of stockings knows it is a procedure fraught with danger.  Your nails can go through the fabric, you can snag them, you can get a leg twisted, if you don't pull them up just right the crotch ends up around your knees and no matter how many times you try to adjust them, it stays around your knees.  So I carefully pulled on my Assets.  And I pulled them up, and up, and up.....  Yeah, these are what is tactfully known as "shapewear" folks.  The design is such that if you get the wrong size you can wear them as pantyhose, girdle and bra all in one.  Fortunately, I had the right size and still needed a bra.

I got everything adjusted and then I pulled on the skirt I also bought at Target - on sale for less than $11.  The skirt that fit nicely without shapewear.  The skirt that was now at least a size too large because all my "shape" was being beautifully compressed by my Assets.  I am a convert.  Anything that can make me a size smaller -and not cut off the circulation to any vital parts - is ok and worth the money in my book.

I won't be wearing Assets all the time but I will buy a couple pair for dog shows and other events.  I guess it's really true what our mothers and grandmothers tried to tell us.  Having a good foundation garment makes all the difference.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Herding Boot Camp

D took Bogey and Georgia to Maryland for the CCWCC Specialty this weekend. I, UHM, quite happily remained at home with the rest of the Horde.  I was "invited" to make a Guest Post in her absence, so this is my first attempt to entertain and engage you.

Regular readers might know that I have only recently become acquainted with Cardigans and have fallen head over you-know-what for their quirky and laugh-inducing personalities.  I've been thinking about my limited exposure to their herding abilities, and how much I've become to love it so quickly.  Unfortunately although I've taken both Bo and G to be instinct tested (see photos from G's introduction last weekend - thanks Dana!), and Bo has had a few herding lessons, it hasn't been enough for any of us.  I crave that first herding “fix” feeling again -- not only could I (who knew nothing!) see that Bogey was hooked, but I also can’t forget the thrill of that occasional moment (I think once) of smooth perfection amidst the bedlam and confusion of a chasing dog and stampeding sheep.  Alas, our herding lessons seem to be over in a flash.  If only we lived on a sheep farm....  I'm looking for a very focused learning opportunity for both Bo and me.  A weekend isn't enough for us.  
Has anyone been to a herding boot camp before?  What was it like?  Would you go again?  I'd love to hear your thoughts pro and con for such an experience.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Birthday Party Invitation

Moira's 5th birthday is just a couple weeks away - Halloween, to be exact.  This year we will be celebrating by attending our first USDAA agility trial.

This is an open invitation to all our Cardi/Blogger friends to join us at the Madco Agility trial, October 30-31, in beautiful Crozet, VA.  There is still time to enter the trial and I haven't heard that it's filled yet.  We'll set up a tent and tables and share birthday cake and treats with all our friends on Saturday.  I think there will be separate cakes for the dogs and the people :) but the treats will be from Sammy Snacks in C'ville and can be shared across species.

Even if you aren't an agility addict, we'd love to see you there!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What's in a Name?

The dogs that live here are known, collectively, as The Heathen Horde or sometimes just "The Horde."  Pretty much everyone knows them by that name.  At the 2009 National, UHM was walking them for me when someone stopped her and said, "That's The Horde but, you're not Dina."  Dogs that we are fond of but don't live with us are called "Associate Horde Members."

Last weekend I met a lady who has 3 black dogs - not sure of the breed(s) that she calls "The Legion of Darkness."  I thought that was spectacularly funny.

Anyone else have a name for their group of dogs?  I know there's the Trio of Trouble out there and Moira, Scout and Grace are sometimes referred to as the Trio of Terror (they're Halloween babies, after all).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Close Look at a Big Weekend




So it was a big weekend for at least a couple members of the Horde.

Sam had another modeling assignment on Friday.  We were in and out in about 10 minutes because he's such a pro :)  Look for his photo in the Winter edition of the Plow & Hearth catalog.  He's demonstrating the efficacy of a pet barrier.

Saturday Georgia and I went to our first real show together and she picked up her first point by going BOWs.  She also got a very nice leather lead as a prize.  We're searching for the equivalent of Show Frog - preferably in better condition than he is in this post.  Today we tried Show Donkey, Show Giraffe, Show Puppy - none of them made the grade.  Maybe we will just have to wait for a bigger show - and a major.

Today was the 2nd day of the show and G was WB (only bitch) but that was it.  It's ok though because there weren't any points available.  The judge was P. Levi Marsman and what a lovely man he is!  I would show to him any day.  Afterwards, we stopped at a state park near the show grounds.  They were having a Fall Festival that included a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.  So Georgia got to search for the Great Pumpkin....
It's not either of these.......
















She finally decided on this one....

It's Semi-Official

InfoDog has posted the results from yesterday's Warrenton KC show in Millwood, VA.  Georgia picked up her first point by going WB/BOWs.  By the way, all three class dogs are related through Sam.  The 6-9 Puppy Dog is a Sam great-grandson and the Open dog is a Sam grandson.

Cardis are on at 10 this morning.  The entry is very small so there aren't any points available but it's a good opportunity for me and Miss G to work on our skills.

Time to feed the big dogs and then start getting myself ready.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Puppy Up! Walk

Several months ago I posted about an organization called 2 Dogs 2 Thousand Miles that is raising money and awareness for canine cancer research.  At the time, I pledged to take part in their 2 Million Dogs campaign.  The idea being that if 2 dogs can walk 2000 miles then it should be nothing to get 2 million dogs to walk 2 miles.

The first  2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk is scheduled for November 7th and will be held in several cities.  There's actually going to be a walk in Richmond, VA, just about an hour and a half from us.  I am going to do my darndest to take part in it.  Too many dogs lose theirs lives at too young an age to cancer.

Vogue

Sam has another modeling assignment today!  The Creative department at work called me Wednesday to ask if he was available and, of course, I said yes.  Check out the location - Ragged Mountain Farm.  We'll be shooting in the main house.  This time the product is a pet barrier (read, baby gate).  I'm going to take Moira and Georgia along as well.  Moira has grown up so much in the last year that I think she might be able to handle all the chaos associated with a  photo shoot.  Plus, she has a great down-stay now.  Georgia can use the exposure to new places, people and stuff and she's great at standing on the other side of pet barriers and peeking over the top :)

Based on the timing of the shoot, I think this will be in the winter catalog that comes out right after the holidays.  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

To Whom it May Concern

I know we here in Virginia have been concerned about the extremely dry summer and fall.  With a rainfall deficit of more than 11", we needed to be.  However, we did not wish to have the deficit made up in a 24 hour period.

Ok, it might not be totally made up in a 24 hour period but it sure doesn't seem that way.  It is POURING and Georgia doesn't like to do her business in the rain.  It's going to be a long 24 hours.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Surrender Dorothy

UHM and I give up.  We have finally succumbed to the knowledge that, between the two of us, we cannot keep up with the housekeeping chores generated by 2 humans, 5 dogs and a cat - not going into our busiest season at work.  This morning we interviewed a professional housekeeping service and I think we are going to retain them to come in every 2 weeks.  We debated the expense on the way to work this morning but finally realized that if we want to have any free days at all in the next few months, we need help.

I know it sounds like something decadent but, it's really just a survival tool.  By the way, only 87 days until Christmas!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Embracing Inadequacy

This post started out being titled 'Yesterday and Today' and was going to feature video of my first show with Sam and Georgia's first match this weekend.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to figure out how to get the video from the mini DVD onto the computer so the video of Georgia will have to wait.

So now it's called 'Embracing Inadequacy' because I spent some time watching old video this weekend and I talked with a friend from my agility class and a lady I knew through work but also through agility passed away recently.

If you are involved in dog sports, you are at least nominally competitive if not outright cutthroat.  Don't try to deny it, you are.  Even me, who never participated in any sort of organized sport until I was in my 30s.  Dog sports are interesting because it's probably one of the only "team" sports where, if something goes wrong, you can blame your team mate and the team mate can't refute it.  However, it also presents us with a great opportunity to recognize and embrace our inadequacies and then work to improve - all without criticism from our team mate!

More importantly though, dog sports offer us the opportunity to spend time with our dogs.  As the human it's up to us to decide how we want to spend that time; beating ourselves and our dogs up over little flaws or recognizing the pure joy our dogs take in just being with us?  Dog sports are, more often than not, a hobby not a job.  Shouldn't we enjoy our hobbies?

The acquaintance who passed away recently had a terrier named Scooter.  They participated in obedience and agility.  I would talk with her about Moira's progress in agility and my hopes for Qs at upcoming trials.  After the trials we would talk again and I would bemoan what went wrong in our runs that denied us the Q.  She would smile and say, "It's not about the ribbons for us.  Scooter and I had a great time and he did this...."  She would always pick one skill or obstacle out of the run that had been executed brilliantly.  She was dying of cancer and knew that the ribbons and Qs weren't really that important.  What was important was focusing on the good stuff and being with her dog.

There are a couple videos below of my early days competing with Sam.  I haven't watched these a lot because, honestly, I find them painful to watch.  The errors, the terrible handling, etc.  This weekend I watched them again though and I focused instead on Sam - and what a GREAT time he was having.  He didn't care that I was super late on cues or that I had the lead in the wrong hand and strung him up.  His tail wagged the entire time because we were together and he was having a grand time just being with me.

My handling both in the breed ring on on the agility course has improved a great deal.  I still make mistakes but now I am working very hard to focus on what went right - was Moira happy at the end of the run?  Did she conquer her fear of the broad jump?  Did Georgia wag her tail and give the judge kisses? (Although Georgia seems to be a little more serious in the breed ring than her father ever was!)

Embrace those things you don't necessarily do well.  Risk a little embarrassment and get out there before you think you are entirely ready(ed. note - Never attempt anything where a lack of training or preparation would endanger you, your dog or other people or animals).  You might surprise yourself.  Either way, your dog will love you just the same. And if you think no one else has ever been so embarrassed in the breed, agility or obedience ring, think again.  Ask around, everyone has a story to tell about the time their dog did something or the time they tripped and took out an entire row of spectators...

Sam's first breed show with me handling (Sept 2005).  You can watch the entire clip but Sam's portion starts around 2:30.
video


Sam's first agility trial (October 2004).
video



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall

Tomorrow is the fall equinox and while the mornings are definitely cooler - and darker - the humidity is lower and the sunset is coming earlier and earlier we are still having very warm daytime temps.  Growing up in southern Oregon, this was the perfect weather for pears, apples and grapes.  The cooler night time temps allow the sugars to gather in the fruit and that makes for just the tastiest fall harvest.

Now that I'm older, I still love this time of year - except for the dark mornings, I am hopelessly circadian.  Fall means new school clothes (yeah, I know I've been out of school for a while), crispy apples (Honeycrisp are my current faves) and, best of all, DOG EVENTS!

Starting this weekend we embark (haha) on a solid 2 months of dog stuff.  We've been warming up with handling classes for Georgia on Tuesday nights and agility classes for Moira on Thursdays but now things really get hopping.  Saturday is a conformation match and Sunday Bogey goes for a herding lesson.  Miss G will ride along and maybe get a chance to meet some sheep.

Next weekend is a show in Millwood, VA.  Entries are small but it will be good experience for me and Georgia and it will be her first show outside.

The following weekend, UHM, Bogey and Georgia will trek to Ohio for a herding clinic with Dana Hasemeier.  The weekend after that is the CCWCC regional specialty in West Friendship, MD (entries close next Wednesday).  Georgia will be entered in Sweeps and the puppy classes.  The following Saturday is an agility trial for Moira in NoVa.  A friend from New England is judging - which is the only reason I entered the trial.

Halloween weekend is Moira's first USDAA trial and her 5th birthday.  Another dog in our agility class, Maggie, has a birthday right around then too so we are having a party for the girls at the trial.  If you're around, feel free to drop by.  We'll be at Misty Mountain Campground in Crozet, VA.

The first weekend in November doesn't have any dog events but my mother will be visiting and we will be going to the Montpelier Hunt Races in Orange, VA.  Ok, the hunt club opens the event with the fox hounds running around the track - so, technically, the event involves dogs.  And there are JRT races too.  Although I think they should let Corgis run.  You know the Corgis would beat the pants off a JRT :)

The second and third weekends in November, there are breed shows in North Carolina.  I want to talk to Georgia's breeder about possibly entering one or both of them.  And then it's Thanksgiving!  No dog shows that weekend but UHM and I will still have a wonderful time.  We have a trip planned.  More details later.

Wow!  I wonder when I'll find time to sleep, do laundry, clean house......

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Think She Can Tell Time

It's not uncommon to hear about dogs who "know" when their people are due home from work or when it's supper time but I am convinced that Moira has somehow figured out how to actually read the digital clock in my room.  How else can you explain that she has gotten up at 4:17 every morning for the last 2 weeks.  I mean it!  I actually look at the clock when she starts making noise and it is always 4:17.  Can someone please help me understand this?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Herding Instinct Test?

Georgia has expressed interest in sheep.













She "flossed" with it and removed two legs.  I think this one might fall under the replacement clause.  Thank goodness it's not worth $150! (the average replacement cost at trials for real sheep)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Old Dogs and Young Dogs

With the addition of Georgia to the household, we now have two extremes in dogdom.  Sam, at nearly 12.5 years old is the equivalent of a crotchety old man.  Georgia, at just 8 months old, is rather like a rambunctious toddler.  The contrast can be striking.

I'm certainly not the first or only person to have a geriatric dog but, this is my first geriatric dog and every week seems to bring something new to deal with.  Over the winter we had ear infections and staph infections.  In the spring it was a blocked tear duct, arthritis and a severe UTI.  As we move into fall, the arthritis still rears its ugly head but we've added allergies (an off and on problem for years) and decreased vision and hearing.  He's also sleeping incredibly deeply.

This morning Moira woke up at 4:15 (that's another story).  She and Gin were ready and raring to go outside.  We trooped down the hall making enough noise to wake the dead but Sam never woke.  I actually ran back down the hall looking and calling for him.  I went in my room turned on the light and there was Sam, sleeping on the floor.  When the light came on and I said his name, he woke up and looked at me like he couldn't understand why I was making him get up.

I know this is all part of the aging process but it certainly can be difficult to watch.  Sam has always been such a vibrant dog - and he still is - but the light isn't as bright as it used to be and I know he struggles with his infirmity too.  Having younger dogs in the house keeps him young but it also points out his weaknesses.  He can't keep up with Moira when they race in the back yard.  Getting on and off the bed, even with steps, is a slow process; whereas Bogey just springs up there, barely touching the steps.  Catching treats is hit or miss; when it's a hit, it's usually because it's a big treat and I basically drop it into his mouth.

Sammy still has lots of good days too; I don't want anyone to think he's in decline.  The cooler temps and changing leaves of fall just have me thinking.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is UHM's birthday.  I won't say which birthday because that's just not polite :)

Back in June I met a wonderful artist, Barb Tilley, at the CAKC show.  She works in lots of different mediums but her business name reflects her two great passions - Clay Corgi.  She has Pems but, we don't hold that against her.  Her booth at the show had some very cute acrylic paintings so I asked if she would be willing to do a custom piece, based on a photo.  She happily agreed and the result is UHM's birthday present.

Click to biggify.





















This was based on a photo I took of Mr. B back in May.  Pretty neat, huh?














If you'd like to contact Barb and have a her create a painting or other piece of art for you, her website is Clay Corgi.  Barb's prices are very reasonable and she is a complete delight to work with.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Georgia's First Day




Sharing a chewie with my big bro














Little G and Big G - half sisters, 10.5 years apart in age.



















Hanging with Bogey on the couch.  He's napping while I keep an eye out for trouble.















Being a big brother is exhausting!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hurricane Georgia

Has made landfall in Virginia :)  Today was Georgia's first full day in residence with the Horde and she's already fitting in like she's spent her entire life here.  

She and Bogey are absolutely joined at the hip, and the throat, and the back of the neck....  They wrestle and play and chase constantly.  Then they collapse next to each other and sleep.  I don't think Bogey knew how much work being a big brother was going to be.

Moira and Georgia need to work some things out.  Georgia is trying very hard to assert herself as higher on the social ladder than Ra.  Ra's not really sure how she should handle that since it's the first time she's been challenged that way.  She's rolled Georgia a couple of times but this is going to take a while to resolve itself.  In the meantime, I'm making sure Ra gets lots of attention and praise for being a good girl.

Ginny ignores Georgia and Georgia treats Ginny with all the respect she is due.  Smart puppy.  You don't mess with the Queen.

And Sam, well, Sam is acting how he always acts with young dogs.  He dislikes them intensely so we are keeping Georgia and Sam strictly separated.

One more day off this weekend and then we'll see how all this translates to the real world.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Best in Puppy Sweeps

Here's our girl's first win photo.  Not bad for a 6-9 puppy in a noisy show environment.  Many, many, many thanks to Liz H. for breeding and showing Miss G and thanks to Cindy Bossi for the win.

Next up for Miss G is a match Sept 25.  Then 2 days of showing in beautiful Millwood, VA on October 2-3. She'll also be traveling to the CCWCC Specialty October 16-17.

Click to biggify!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lobster 5 Ways

Understanding House Mate and I returned from our Down East vacation late last night.  5 days, 4 nights, 6 planes, 2 cabs, and 2 whale watching boats - only one flight gave us any trouble, the last flight home - of course! We were about an hour later returning though so, I thank my lucky stars.

UHM indulged in an orgy of lobster while we were there.  She had lobster every day - sometimes twice a day.  Lobster rolls, lobster bisque, lobster cocktail, whole lobster and, the only one that got a thumbs down, lobster ice cream.  She has vowed never again to eat lobster south of Virginia, unless she orders it herself and it arrives the next day, as fresh from the ocean as possible.  Actually, I think that is the only way she will ever eat lobster, unless she's actually in New England again.

I didn't end up buying the raisin-colored skirt I mentioned in the previous post.  It was a shade too long.  Thanks to those who suggested having pockets sewn into the dress I did get.  Unfortunately, it is a lighter weight jersey knit and pretty slimline so there's really no room for pockets.  I'll make do with the arm band or cheek pouch.

Speaking of bait....for those who like to use bait bags, I found a very cool one in Maine.  It's got a magnetic flap closure so you don't end up w/bait flying out of the bag - if you use it for agility.  The website is www.woofhoof.com.

So now we prepare for Miss Georgia's arrival on Saturday.  Her first duty as a Horde member will be to cheer for the Wisconsin Badgers during their home opener.  Her sweeps picture arrived while we were gone.  I've taken it to work to scan will post it shortly.

The best part about coming back from this vacation is, I only have to work 2 1/2 days this week and then 4 days next week.  Three short work weeks in a row but w/full paychecks!  YES!

Monday, August 30, 2010

News from the Vacation Front

UHM and I are taking a quick, 4 day vacation in Bar Harbor, ME.  Or, if you are a local, "Ba Ha Ba."  It's a lovely little seaside town that's also very dog-friendly.  Makes me sad we don't have a single member of The Horde along but, I sort of think the town might not be so dog friendly if there were a Horde invasion - even a small scale one.

BTW, you know you are becoming completely obsessed w/dogs and dog shows when the majority of things you buy on a vacation trip you justify with, "I can wear that to show...."  I've gotten a very cool, olive green dress and am contemplating a longer, raisin-colored skirt for showing Miss Georgia.  Only problem?  Neither has pockets.  So I'll either be doing the armband bait holder or the "cheek pouch" - which really grosses UHM out.

UHM is out on a boat this afternoon, attempting to see whales.  That was the point of this whole trip - so she could see whales.  We went out yesterday morning and saw 1 finback whale.  She's hoping for more today.  Cross your fingers!

Be home tomorrow evening late.  Can't wait to see Sam, Ginny, Moira and Mr. B!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Recap of Greensboro Results

Wednesday - 1st 6-9 puppy bitches
Thursday - 2nd 6-9 puppy bitches
Friday - 2nd 6-9 puppy bitches
Saturday - BISweeps puppy
                 4th (out of 4, WTH?) 6-9 puppy bitches, regular classes
Sunday - 2nd 6-9 puppy bitches

Georgia and her great niece were at the top of the 6-9 class every day but Saturday so it was a good weekend for the family.  As Georgia's inaugural show, I'm thrilled.  Liz said she was an evil red dog on Saturday, pulling at her skirt on the down and back :)  Today she was better behaved, probably because she got a stern warning as she was coming off the table.  Judge's comment on her today was "she's adorable."  We already knew that but, it's good to hear it from a judge too.  Cathy Ochs-Cline, a very well-respected breeder judge, was judging today.

Georgia "comes home" on September 4th.  After that it will be a match on Sept 25th, a small show on Oct 2-3, a trip to Ohio for a herding clinic w/Dana Hasemeier Oct 9-10, and then the CCWCC specialty and supported entry on Oct 16-17.  After that, we'll have to see what happens.  November and December are super busy months at work for me so any more showing might have to wait until after the first of the year.  Who knows though, I might try to find some sort of performance class for her to take in that time.  Anything to keep that little mind occupied and learning.   I'd love to train her to do modeling work, like her daddy and half-brother, Logan.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

News from North Carolina

Miss Georgia was Best Puppy in Sweeps!  Judging was breeder-judge Cindy Bossi!  Wahooo!

Liz - Georgia's breeder and most excellent handler this weekend -  says she got a picture so, as soon as it arrives I will post it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Miss Georgia

Miss Georgia, the soon-to-be newest Horde Member, is making her breed ring debut this week at the Greensboro, NC cluster.  So far she's placed 1st, 2nd and 2nd in the 6-9 month puppy bitch class.  It's killing me that I'm not down there to see but Liz H. and Karen L. have been wonderful about my calls and texts begging for results.  Liz says Georgia is having a great time and already has this show dog thing figured out.  I think that's great - then she can teach me how to be a handler.

Rumor has it that Sister Scout is also doing well down south.  I think she'll probably get her Grand Championship this weekend.

More results as they are available!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cat-Permeable Barrier

Ginny and Moira have a habit.  A nasty habit.  A habit that, when I really think about it, makes me wretch.  They like to clean the cat box.  Not having opposable thumbs, well, I can't even type it.....  So tonight I finally got my act together and set up a cat-permeable barrier to the room where the cat box resides.














I went to Babies R Us (torture for some of us) and purchased a baby gate.  I brought it home and installed it in the doorway to the laundry room.  Then I cut out a cat-sized opening in the gate.  Five minutes later, Grace wandered into the kitchen and sauntered through the hole in the gate like it had always been there.  The gate is only 2 feet tall so UHM can step over it with just a little effort and now I can be the one to clean the cat box - in a sanitary manner.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Beach Read

We're home from the beach and everyone is getting settled back into "normal" life.  While I was vacationing, I managed to get through one book and I thought I would share it with you all.

I read Merle's Door:Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote.  It's the story of Ted Kerasote and his dog, Merle, whom he found wandering the Utah desert as a 10 month old puppy.  Merle lived to the ripe old age of 14 and Ted tells the story of how he took a different approach to training and living with this dog.  The book cites a lot of scientific studies and then refers back to the author's experiences that either prove or disprove the results of the study.

There were things I agreed with and others I didn't.  One of the passages I really liked dealt with the book Active Years for Your Aging Dog by Dr. Bernard S. Hershorn, DVM.  In it he suggests 6 questions that dog owners ask themselves when considering euthanizing a dog.

1)  Is the condition prolonged, recurring or getting worse?
2)  Is the condition no longer responding to therapy?
3)  Is your dog in pain or otherwise physically suffering?
4)  Is it no longer possible to alleviate that pain or suffering?
5)  If your dog should recover, is he likely to be chronically ill, an invalid, or unable to care for himself as a healthy dog?
6)  If your dog recovers, is he likely no longer able to enjoy life, or will he have severe personality changes?

If the answers to all 6 questions are yes, then the dog should be euthanized.  If the answers to questions 3 and 4 are no, then maybe the dog should be allowed to pass naturally.  However, if that is the case then you need to ask yourself 3 more questions.

1)  Can you provide the necessary care?
2)  Will such care so interfere with your own life as to create serious problems with you or your family?
3)  Will the cost involved become unbearably expensive?

Your answers to those questions may mean it is better to let your friend go than prolong his or her life.

As someone with senior dogs and a senior cat, I spend some time thinking about what's going to happen in the years to come. I fervently hope that Sam, Ginny and Grace pass peacefully in their sleep but having this list of questions to ask myself both now and if I find myself needing to make a decision at some point in the future gives me some peace of mind too.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Traveling and Technology

Bright and early tomorrow morning I head to the airport to catch a flight to the beach.  Most of my luggage caught a ride with UHM last week so I just need to bring a carry on with a few things.  One of those things is the little MP3 player I bought last year.

It's tiny - 2" x 1.25" - and holds all the music I like to listen to.  I don't need a device that holds 500,000 songs and a bunch of videos, thank you very much.  My little 2.5 gig do-hickey is just fine!  Tonight I bought a new CD - Zac Brown Band "The Foundation."  I LOVE IT!  I don't think there is a bad song on the disc.  So, I decided it needed to be added to the MP3 player.

Over an hour later, I've managed to load the ZBB CD, unload all the other music that was already on the darned thing, and reload all the music that was already on the darned thing.  Sometimes I really hate technology!

Now, I'm wondering if I should do on-line check in....  With my luck, I'll cancel the entire flight!

No posts until next week!  I will be sans-computer with "my toes in the water, my ass in the sand."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Squeee! Fresh Mulch!

When I got home tonight, the landscapers were just finishing up the day's work.  We are about 1/2 done - more mulch and gravel to go in as well as the picket fence but here's how it looks so far.  I panned the yard from left to right, stopping at the margin where more work needs to be done.  Can I just say that I LOVE the smell of fresh mulch!  Especially if I didn't have to shovel it into place :)

The rocky path that roughly bisects the yard is a dry creek bed to funnel off rain fall.  The dogs are loving jumping over it.  In the last 2 pics, the path is dark because they've put down landscaping fabric.  That area will be filled in with gravel roughly the same color as the creek bed.

I'm guessing we have another 3-4 days of work to go but everything will be put on hold after tomorrow.  We don't want any work being done while we are both out of town.

(Pardon the terrible photos - taken with my phone as the camera is at the beach w/UHM)




































Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday!

Yay!  It's Friday!  UHM and Bogey left this afternoon on their vacation so it's just me and The Horde at The Ranch.  Unfortunately, UHM took the camera with her so I can't show you any pictures of the progress on the yard.  It's looking great though.  Fence posts are in, all the topsoil is in and they laid a dry creek bed to manage run off when it rains.  It POURED yesterday afternoon, which pointed out that the dry creek bed isn't in quite the right place but that will be remedied.  Monday and Tuesday they will be back to put down mulch over the topsoil and reorient the creek bed.  Wednesday I fly out to meet UHM and Lynn S. (from MN) for 3 days at the beach!

Life is good!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scary.....

Ok, this one really scares me.  What am I inadvertently teaching my dogs?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38446579?GT1=43001

And I Still Say - Duh!

Wow - very timely on line blurb given Moira's recent behavior....

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38433670/from/toolbar?gt1=43001

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 2 & Various and Sundry Other Things

Not a lot of changes worth documenting today.  They brought in another load of topsoil to further build up the areas already covered.  They also started working on the fenced area - leveled it, put down landscaping fabric and rock.  It wasn't worth it to take a picture because they've got the 4x4s for the fence post and some other things sitting in that area right now.  Oh!  Hedgie has been found!

It was overcast and cool here today - mid 70s - so I wore jeans to work. I have to say, I really enjoyed that.  I like summer but, about this time every year I start longing for "new school clothes."  It was nice to wear something different today.

Last Friday I bought a bushel of peaches.  They needed to ripen just a bit before they could be processed so I didn't start doing anything with them until last night.  I finished up with them this evening and have 15 qts of peaches in the freezer.  I'm trying to decide if I want to buy another bushel, or maybe half-bushel, this weekend. There aren't too many things nicer than being able to have "fresh" peaches in the dead of winter.

Moira was a bad dog this evening.  UHM left the bone from a pork chop within Ra's reach.  I was busy with the peaches so the first I knew something was amiss was the sound of crunching.  UHM tried to retrieve the bone from Moira but it was too late.  So, we are on tummy watch for the next couple days.  Usually my dogs have cast iron tummies but cooked bones can cause problems.  Stealing food like this is a recent development for the Pu Head.  She's getting quite brazen these days.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings in the yard.

Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of our yard renovation project.  Which is great except that we weren't expecting them to start work yesterday!  Consequently, we hadn't done a toy pick up in the yard.  Unaccounted for and presumably lost are Hedgie and (sob) the "baby" Moira came home with five years ago.

They dismantled an 8 ft. section of fence so they could bring a tractor into the yard to start putting down topsoil and delineating where the pathways will be.














The fence along the far left side of this shot, running out perpendicular to the steps,  will be replaced with picket to create a small, separate dog yard for visitors or when some dogs don't get along with each other....














In the next two shots you can see the 2 connecting paths that sort of circle the yard.  My only concern is, Moira ignored them both in favor of dashing right through the middle of the fresh topsoil to get to the bottom.  She doesn't believe in taking the scenic route?




















Like any boy, Bogey just had to get on the big tractor.  Ok, it wasn't Bogey's idea, he couldn't care less about tractors.  His mom, UHM, is the one with the tractor obsession.

















The landscaping people will be back today to do more work.  I'm not sure exactly what is on the agenda but I'm sure there will be more pictures to post tonight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sweet Tea

We've been suffering through scorching hot temps here the last few days and that means hydration is key.  I know the best thing for hydration is water but let's face it, sometimes you want something more.  In the summer, I like sweet tea.  The dogs like it too but I try not to let them have any.  Moira, however, has determined she can steal mine if I leave the glass unattended and within her reach.

Sweet tea used to be a uniquely southern beverage but I understand McDonald's is now carrying it in most of their restaurants.  And I won't lie, their sweet tea is pretty darned good - especially at $1 plus tax.  When I'm home though I like to make my own.

We are drinking around a gallon of sweet tea a week right now so I make it on Sunday afternoons to last the rest of the week.  There's nothing magical about making sweet tea but, I'll share my recipe with you all.  If you aren't a fan of sweets, then you probably won't like this but I promise, there are few things more satisfying on a hot summer day than a big glass of iced sweet tea with a wedge of lemon.  Think of it as Kool Aid for adults.

6 cups water
4 family-size tea bags (Luzianne or your favorite black tea)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar

Bring 6 cups of water to boil in a large pan.  Boil one minute then remove from heat.  Add 4 family-size tea bags and cover.  I prefer Luzianne decaf but you can't get that brand everywhere so go with your favorite black tea.  Steep for 5 minutes.

Remove tea bags, squeezing out as much water as possible.  Add sugar while tea is still hot and stir to dissolve.  Pour into a 1 gallon container and fill to top with cool water.  Refrigerate.  Serve over ice.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Renovations

Last night, Understanding House Mate and I visited a local garden/landscaping company.  UHM wrote the check that will start the process of having the back yard redone.  There are plans for gravel pathways, plantings and - my personal favorite - a small fenced area designed to separate and secure dogs who don't get along.  Work should start w/in the next 2 weeks.  We are breaking the process into two parts since the area is in a drought and we really don't want to plant anything right now.  Part one will be all the hard-scaping.  Part two, the planting, will probably occur this fall.

Before, during and after pictures to come!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Busy Weekend

The Horde has had a very busy weekend!

Yesterday Moira had an agility class in the morning.  I am so proud of my girl - she just loves agility and continues to get better and better.  My handling still needs work.  Sam was my first agility dog and, while he was fast, he was also a Velcro dog so I missed learning a lot of fine points with handling.  Moira needs me to be much earlier on verbal cues and more specific and aware of the non-verbal ones.  Still, we had some very pretty sequences yesterday and I am getting excited for fall trials.

Bogey had a herding lesson yesterday afternoon.  It was ridiculously hot but we kept a close eye on him and, fortunately, he's smart enough to know when to stop too.  This was his first lesson after the clinic at the end of June and the first time I got to see him work.  There's loads of potential there but both he and Understanding House Mate have a long way to go.  It will be a fun journey to watch.

Today, Sunday, is a very special day.  Today is Ginny's 11th birthday!  I just can't believe she's 11.  The last year has seen her slow down some - she doesn't spend mornings lounging on the patio table anymore because , I think, it's too hard to jump up there - but she's still going strong.  We'll be having some neighbors over later in the day for a small party.  The humans will grill various beasts and gorge on summer produce while the dogs will have an entire watermelon to themselves to celebrate.  I think Gin will like celebrating her birthday that way.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Madison County Fair

The Madison County Fair has been going on since Wednesday of this week.  Madison is a very small, rural community north of C'ville and it's where my employer is based.  Last year, I convinced Understanding House Mate - who works for the same company I do - that the company should support the fair in a more visible way than just taking out an ad in the fair program.  We should buy an animal at the 4H/FFA livestock auction!

Many moons ago, I was involved in 4H and FFA.  I raised and showed market lambs and, one year, a market hog.  We didn't live on a farm but we were lucky enough to be in a rural area and we had friends with small, hobby farms where I could keep my animals.  To this day, I think it is one of the best experiences of my life.  4H and FFA are wonderful learning grounds for kids.  If you choose to do a market animal project, you take responsibility for all the aspects of that project - both financial and physical.  On a very basic level, you learn about budgeting, profit and loss and keeping tracking of your money.  You also learn a tremendous amount about the care and feeding of animals.  As a bonus, you make great friends and learn about team work and good sportsmanship too.

Last night was the livestock auction at the Madison County Fair.  Understanding House Mate and I went with a budget of $1,000, two spreadsheets of figures to help us determine what we could afford and a determination to buy something!  Well, buy something we did!  After sitting through the auction of baskets put together by various 4H clubs for fundraising and the beef cattle, the auction of market lambs began.  The first animal to sell is always the Grand Champion of that species for the fair.  This year's Grand Champion Market Lamb was a 116 pound, Suffolk-cross wether (castrated male sheep).  The bidding started at $2.00 a pound, Understanding House Mate joined the fray when the price hit $3.00 a pound and when the dust settled, she had bought the Grand Champion Market Lamb for $8.50 a pound!  This is the first year our company has participated in the livestock auction and we came away with a very nice buy.  The little girl who raised and exhibited the lamb is 9 years old and this was her very first 4H project!  She should net somewhere around $500, depending on what expenses are like these days.

Going to the county fair can be a real treat.  For my dog friends, I would urge you to go and watch the judging of the market animals.  Livestock judges are required to give a verbal critique of the class and their reasons for the placements - something I've often wished the dog show world would do.  The kids, as young as 9 years old, do a wonderful job of presenting their animals to best advantage through both the livestock and the showmanship classes.  Did you know if you win showmanship for your species (lamb, hog, dairy, beef, etc.) you go on to a grand champion class where you are expected to take turns showing an animal of every species?  How many of us could show a Cardi and then turn around and show a Yorkie or a Wolfhound with the same level of expertise?  These kids are amazing!  The livestock auction is fun to watch too.  There's always the first time exhibitor who gets teary-eyed selling their project animal and the senior who has been showing for 9 or 10 years who is showing for the last time.

It's county and state fair season - make time to support your local 4H and FFA clubs.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mystery Date - Revealed


Some of you may remember we had a house guest back in March - Miss Georgia.  She was on her way to a show home in Maryland.














Unfortunately, that placement didn't work out.  It wasn't anyone's fault, she just wasn't quite what the breeder who bought her had in mind.  So, Liz, Georgia's breeder, drove up from North Carolina to pick her up.  The ladies spent the night with us here in Virginia.

Georgia is just 6 months old now and is growing up quite nicely.  She was a bit of a wiggler on the table but we managed to get these shots of her.  She's still got a lot of growing up and filling out to do but she's looking very nice.


She also managed to fit in quite well with the rest of the Horde.  Which is a good thing because she will be coming back at the beginning of September for an extended and, possibly, permanent stay.













If all goes well on an extended basis, her registered name will be Cadnoclun Fairway Cinderella Story and I will be handling her in the breed ring.  She'll also get chances to try herding and agility since if you want to be Horde member, you have to do more than look pretty.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mystery Date

Open the door to your Mystery Date....  Have you figured out who will be visiting the Horde this weekend?  I'll give you a hint.  She's a red head......

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Look slimmer in just 10 minutes

The dogs - not me.  I spent several hours this morning grooming dogs.  After blowing out a 13 gallon garbage bag full of hair, everyone looks much slimmer.  Sam and Gin's skin and coats are super dry - time to get back on the salmon oil.  Moira looks sleek and fit - although she could stand to lose a pound or two (someone has been raiding the litter box).  Bogey, in his summer buzz cut, just needed a little combing and some trimming around his ears.

Next weekend we will have an overnight guest on Saturday.  Names and pictures to come.....

For now, happy 4th.  We're having smoked chicken and don't know what else for sides.....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer, summer, summer time....

No dog shows, no agility trials - just hot, humid, lazy days.  Thought I'd take this opportunity to ramble about things I find amusing now that before dogs, I wouldn't have even considered thinking or saying.

Post dog show, go to any "family" restaurant near the show site and you can hear the most outrageous things.  "Did you see the rear on that bitch?" is my personal fave :)  And as you all know, dog people have absolutely no compunctions about discussing the most intimate bodily parts and functions of their dogs.  I actually like to watch the faces of the non-dog people at nearby tables.  Try it sometime.

At the National this year I came around a corner in the hotel and walked into a group where one woman was exclaiming that she knew "all I need to know about frozen semen."  Not at all an unusual thing to hear in a group of dog people but, imagine being a non-dog person?

Several years ago I hired a handy-woman to replace the back door on my house in New England.  Said woman was a lesbian (I throw this in now so you will see how funny the story is later).  What should have been a couple hour job ended up taking 8 hours and during that time I had to keep the dogs busy and out of the handy woman's hair.  So I gave Sam and Gin each a bully stick.  Sam decided to enjoy his outside and trotted out the door that was being replaced.  The very responsible handy woman felt the need to tell me my dog was chewing on a stick and, was that ok?   I replied that yes, it was ok and that it was a bully stick.  Oh, what's a bully stick?  Ummmm, ahhhhh, well, it's a treat made from a  bull or steer penis.  Really?  Yes.  And he likes that?  Yes, Sammy loves dick......  Yes, that's what I said.  I used those exact words.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I told the lesbian handy woman that my male dog loves dick.  BTW, did I mention she had brought along an assistant for the day?  A male handy man who was gay.  I thought he was going to choke when he overheard the conversation.  For a great description of how bully sticks are processed go here.

Owning and showing dogs has taught me so many things.  Mostly it's taught me that things that used to make me blush don't anymore.