Monday, November 5, 2012

Operation Pig Drop

This weekend the girls and I made the 9 hour drive up to Virginia to visit with friends and run in the MadCo fall USDAA agility trial.  Moira had a stellar Saturday and a not-so-stellar Sunday.  More on that later though....

Today, Monday, we headed back to TN but we had another passenger in the Dawg Yacht.  I called him William....

William is an American Guinea Hog bred by my friend Karen Lyons of Woodrose Cardigans.  Karen sold him to a lovely family down here in TN but he needed a ride to get to his new home.  Thus began Operation Pig Drop.

I picked William (Ok, that wasn't his name, he didn't have a name.  I just needed to call him something!) early this morning.  His mother, Ethel, was not in the least bit concerned that her baby boy was being stuffed in a crate in a car with a couple of dogs and driven hundreds of miles away from her.  William wasn't too concerned either.  There was a bit of grunting but then he settled down, burrowed into his nest of hay and slept the entire trip to TN.

I met his new family at a gas station just off of I40, we put him into their crate, and off he went to meet his new bride, Lucy.

I don't think I'll be adding 'pig hauler' to my resume but, you never know.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Today's her birthday - it explains a lot...

Today is Moira's 7th birthday!  It's hard to believe that she is 7 already, that's how old Sam was when I brought Moira home.  In the world of dog shows & sports, 7 is considered a "veteran."  My mentor in Cardigans has always said, and I believe it, that 7 is when our dogs hit their prime.  Moira has both the mental and physical maturity at this point to be a wonderful agility partner - when she wants to be :)

This weekend we are going to another USDAA agility trial.  I'm hoping we can finish her Advanced Jumpers and Starters Gamblers titles this weekend.  Next year we will be focusing on her AKC titles.  That means lots of trial weekends and lots of traveling.

Happy Halloween to everyone and Happy Birthday to my Red Pu Head!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's Just Not Fair

This has been a tough year for losing dogs.  First there was Sam in June.  Last month my mother lost her Sam daughter, Oda Mae, very unexpectedly.  OM wasn't even 10 years old.  Yesterday, my friend and Georgia's breeder, Liz, lost her 14 year old boy, Theo.  It seems likely that another friend will have to let her old dog go this week too.  And today, Moira's litter mate, Grace crossed the Bridge.  She would have been 7 on Halloween.

I'm a firm believer in things happening for a reason and in the time when they should happen but to lose so many wonderful dogs in such a short period of time just doesn't seem right or fair.

I'm giving the girls extra loves tonight.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Health & Well Being

Both the girls had vet appointments this week.  Ginny went in for a senior wellness exam.  At 13 I know it's important for her to see the vet on a regular basis so, in we went.  On the whole, Gin is great. She's a svelte 33 pounds and her heart sounded great.  I'm waiting for results on her blood work but I am not worried on that count.  One surprising finding though; she has luxating patellas.  The reason this is surprising is because no other vet has ever caught it.  There is a surgery that can correct the issue but, at 13 I won't put Ginny through that.  The other bump in the road for Gin is a fractured and abscessing tooth.  I knew the tooth was broken a couple weeks ago when I found half of it in her crate. Since the vet appointment was already made, I didn't panic about getting her in right away.  It's incredibly important to get this taken care of because this sort of infection can become systemic and impact the kidneys.  She goes back to the vet on Monday to have the rest of the tooth pulled and a general cleaning.  The cleaning shouldn't be too extensive as she just had her teeth cleaned last October.

Moira's vet appointment was actually with the physical therapy vet.  This is the same vet Sam went to for acupuncture before he passed.  She is also a licensed canine chiropractor.  With Moira doing so much agility I felt it was important to be sure she is in alignment.  For the most part, she was pretty good; a tilted pelvis, some metacarpals that needed re-positioning, and a small adjustment mid-back.  The concerning part of this visit was slow conscious proprioreception in her right hind foot.  The test for this is to turn the foot over and see how long it takes to right the foot.  It is a test to determine if the dog knows where its limbs/feet are and how quickly they correct the position.  Moira did not correct the position of her right foot very quickly which means that the signals from the nerves in her foot are not getting through to her brain as quickly as they should.  A very concerning condition in any dog but especially in one who does agility.

The PT vet asked me to get xrays done by our regular vet - lucky for me we were headed there for Gin.  The xrays didn't reveal anything glaringly obvious that could be causing her slow response time. However, she has absolutely no arthritis which is pretty incredible in a dog of her breed and age (nearly 7).  We have pulled from the agility trial we were entered in next weekend and I have some range of motion exercises to do with Moira for the next week.  We will go back to the PT vet on the 15th for another check/adjustment.  Hopefully, the adjustment this week combined with the exercises will resolve the problem.  If it doesn't, I'm not sure what we will end up doing.  The thought of another dog having back issues - especially one as young and athletic as Moira - is daunting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Cross to Bear

No. there's nothing unpleasant going on.  That just seemed like a fun title for a post about agility - and crosses (front, rear, blind).

Moira and I have another agility trial this weekend.  It's an AKC trial and we will be running in two classes; Jumpers and Standard.  A Jumpers course is comprised of jumps (duh), tunnels and a set of 6 weave poles.  A Standard course includes the dogwalk, A frame, table and teeter in addition to the tunnels, jumps and weave poles .  At the Novice level judges are required to design courses with two side switches.  What's a side switch?  Well, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like.  If the dog is running on your left and a side switch occurs, then the dog ends up on your right.  Pretty easy, right?  But how do you accomplish these switches?  With crosses of course!

There are three commonly used crosses in agility; front, rear and blind.  In a front cross, you have to get in front of your dog, and pivot to bring the dog to your other side.  It's one of those things that, once you learn how to do it, muscle memory takes over.  Seriously, if you asked me to demonstrate a front cross just standing there, I couldn't do it.  They are also hell on your knees.  Many handlers try to avoid front crosses as they age because of this.  Generally speaking, a front cross will generate speed in a dog.  They have something to run toward - you!

Rear crosses occur when you send the dog ahead of you to an obstacle and then change sides behind them, to the rear, picking them up on your other side when they've completed the obstacle.  Rear crosses can be difficult because the dog has to be independent enough to get ahead of you AND they have to be able to realize that you are moving behind them and what the means.  It's called 'reading' the cross.  I LOVE rear crosses because I have a dog who reads them very well.  In the picture below, I am performing a rear cross while Moira goes over the double.  You can see me moving laterally behind her but, more importantly, see how her eyes, head and even ears are ever so slightly facing the direction I am moving?  Even her body is slightly angled.  That means she knew when she took off that she would need to turn that way to catch me.  She's reading the cross.  You can probably see that rear crosses are much easier on the human knees too :)  No twisting!

The last type of cross that can be used is a blind cross.  Blind crosses can be very risky because, in essence, the dog performs a rear cross on you!  Blind - because you lose visual contact with your dog.  Early on, I was taught to blind cross tunnels.  The dog enters the tunnel, you race to the other end - across the exit to the tunnel - and keep moving; trusting your dog to come out and be moving with you.  I did that type of cross with Sam all the time because he was a reliable, Velcro dog and wouldn't think of not sticking with me once he came out of the tunnel.  My last agility instructor discouraged blind crosses as too risky for dogs that might not be so reliable, so I learned not to do them.  My current instructor is fine with them, as long as they are done well and in the right places.  So, I'm back to using blind crosses at tunnels and, at least in class, trying them in other places.  We've had some successes and failures.  The last AKC agility trial I went to, there was a woman running American Cocker Spaniels who used blind crosses all over the place.  It was really impressive to see how well her dogs read those crosses and negotiated the courses.  It freed the handler up to take the best line and limit the amount of running she had to do.

Moira needs one more qualifying score to finish her Novice Standard title and 2 qualifying scores to finish her Novice Jumpers title.  I expect I will be using all three kinds of crosses.  Wish us luck!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stepping Up My Game?

Since moving to Nashville (and having some $$ in the bank account) Moira and I have renewed our commitment to agility training.  For most of the summer, we've taken 2 agility classes a week.  One to fine-tune my handling and another to bring Moira's skills up to scratch.  There have also been a handful of private lessons to help us focus on some specific things.  We've run in more trials in the last 5 months than in the previous 4 years and there are many more planned for the coming months!  Our Q rate still isn't what I would like it to be but Moira and I have definitely formed a much closer partnership and the Q rate is improving with each trial.

So, we've taken the steps to get my and Moira's skills to the level they should be.  Moira is already in awesome condition - she's a self-excercising dog - and she is a natural and very pretty jumper.  That leaves me.....

I've never been a particularly 'sporty' girl.  My parents weren't athletic and there were circumstances that made it difficult for me to participate in intramural sports - even if I had wanted to.  Now I find myself in my early 40s, participating in a sport that demands a certain level of physical prowess.

Now, anyone who has ever attended an agility trial can attest to the fact that almost no one running a dog in agility is a prime physical specimen.  There are lots of knee braces, ankle braces and bad backs at any given trial.  There are also a high percentage of women my age and older who are, shall we say, "prosperous." Interestingly, they almost always are running Border Collies.  I think it is because BCs are great at distance work and that allows these women to participate in this sport. A dog who is really accomplished at distance work can allow the handler to practically stand in the middle of the ring and point to obstacles.  Distance work is something that we all strive to master but few ever do.  Ed Note:  The point I am trying to make is that we are all there being physically active regardless of our infirmities.  And that's a lot more than many Americans are doing!

I'm in good enough shape, and fast enough, that I can run with Moira but it's not pretty.  I overstride and am a very heavy-footed runner.  And then there are the arms waving around or held awkwardly away from my body.  When I finish a run, even a 30 second run, I often wish there was an oxygen tank at the finish line.  The best handlers are the ones you don't see.  Their handling is so deft and their physical presence so subtle that when you watch their runs, all you see is the dog.  When I run, all you see is a skinny white girl who looks like a disjointed scarecrow.

So I'm considering putting myself into training.  I HATE running but I may try to find a running coach who can help me improve my mechanics and form - as well as my condition.  I'm not making any promises but I think I might owe it to Moira.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Steel Magnolia

Steel Magnolia - A Southern woman who is strong and independent yet very feminine.

Most are familiar with the play and movie, Steel Magnolias.  The term has definitely come into common usage as defined above and I am proud to say that I live with a Steel Magnolia.

Ginny, born in St. Louis, spent her early months living in Wilmington, NC, where she learned to be a steel magnolia from the very best.  I've always referred to Gin as a steel magnolia or an iron paw in a velvet glove.  This has become more readily apparent since Sam's passing.

Like many women who have spent time caring for an elderly and infirm man, Ginny put a lot of her personality in storage.  She took a back seat to Sam's needs during his last years and I'm very grateful for that, if not a bit chagrined to admit that I didn't realize the toll it took on her until after Sam passed.

Since Sam's passing, Ginny has come back into her own.  She's happy and confident again.  She's thrilled when she sees me packing the dog bag for an agility trial and can't wait for the adventure.  A dog who started out more like M'Lynn Eatenton is maturing into Ouiser Boudreaux!  She's sassy and funny and very, very independent!  She's taken to flirting with young, intact male dogs as well as turning her charms onto older men of the human species!  This weekend, without being invited, she introduced herself to an older gentleman who was set up near us at the agility trial.  He sat down and she promptly got up and walked over there to get some affection from him.  He hadn't even glanced at her.

Like any true steel magnolia, Gin still has her strong side.  She doesn't hesitate to let dogs who are being too forward know what she thinks of their inappropriate behavior.  The thing is, she does it in such a lovely, polite fashion that no one takes any offense.  The correction is swift and appropriate.  However, when the devil sits on her shoulder she will have a little fun with the miscreant and stalk him or her; striking terror into their hearts if they have any intelligence at all.

Gin is such a lovely girl.  I sometimes wish more of her personality had rubbed off on Moira.  Maybe the next dog....  In the meantime, I dearly love my Steel Magnolia and am hoping for many, many more years with her.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

If I Could Talk to the Animals...

Remember that song from Dr. Doolittle?  Well, there are people out there who seem to be able to and I am fortunate to have one of them as my friend.  I've known Tina Hassett of Our Animal Allies for around 8 years now.  We first met at an agility trial in New England.  I was running Sam and she was running her Italian Greyhound as well as offering her services as an animal communicator.  I sat down with her, had a chat with both Sam and Ginny, and we've been friends ever since.

Tina's insights into Sam and Ginny's personalities that day - when she'd never met me or my dogs before - were uncanny.  Ginny's comment that, "Boys are stupid." was so right on with the way she treated Sam and every other male dog.  At the time I was taking some herding lessons with Sam and when I asked what he thought of that he replied, "I'm going to get those fuzzy bastards."  Yeah, I'm quite sure that's what Sam was thinking and exactly how he would have expressed it too.  Several years later, when Moira joined The Horde, Tina was able to perfectly capture her more reserved and enigmatic personality.

So I've stayed in touch with Tina, despite moves for both of us.  I check in with her 2 or 3 times a year and we have a talk with the dogs.  This week I made an appointment to talk with her to see how everyone is doing since Sam's passing and to check in with Sam as well.  Yes, Tina can communicate with pets who have crossed The Bridge.

Ginny started communicating almost as soon as Tina answered her phone.  Over the years, Tina and Gin have developed a very close friendship.  Gin indicated that while she loved Sam to pieces, it's much easier since he's passed.  She said his passing was a big relief because he was so uncomfortable but she misses the "old goat."  Exactly what I would expect Ginny, who rarely minces words, to say about her father.

Moira was, as always, less talkative.  I think it's because she spends so much time barking.  Anyway, Moira has acknowledged that she is not yet ready to be head of the household.  Before we left Virginia, Ra definitely seemed to be trying to step up and it caused a lot of friction, especially with Georgia.  Apparently, Ra thought being in charge would be easier than it really is :)  She also seems to have taken on Gin's perspective where boys are concerned.  When I mentioned Bogey she replied, "Boys are not a challenge."  She really enjoys agility.  Especially the fact that the obstacles stay put and she gets to be active but she doesn't like not knowing where she needs to go next (yes, I'm working on MY timing Ra).
I know you are wondering if Tina was able to reach Sam.  Of course she was!  Sam was so connected to me that it was easy for her reach him.  Sam was eager to tell me how much he loved me and how grateful he is that I was his person.  He's so relieved to be out of a body that doesn't work anymore and his friend Stomper met him as he crossed The Bridge. He's said he would like to help me, not Moira, at agility trials.  Hmm, seems even Sam thinks I am the weakest link when it comes to agility :)   Sam keeps an eye on all of us and continues to shine love down on me.  He's not ready to come back yet but, he will someday.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Busy Summer

Wow!  I realized I haven't posted much at all this summer and I apologize for that.  It has been a busy one.  From my previous post, you learned that Sam crossed the Bridge at the end of June.
Wishing we had more time together would be greedy.  We had nearly 10 wonderful years and he gave me every bit of himself every day of those years.  In the end, I was honor-bound to give something back to him and release him from the pain he was experiencing.  The house is certainly quieter since his passing but it is a good quiet.  The girls and I have adjusted to his absence and, quite honestly, things are much less stressful now.  Ginny is happy and smiling again - something I hadn't seen for a very long time.

For the weekend following the 4th of July, Moira and I were entered in a 3 day USDAA agility trial.  We ran in 4 classes each day and I couldn't have been happier with our results.  I had 4 goals for that weekend and achieved 3 of them - all on the first day.  Moira finished her Starters Jumpers title so she is now CardiRidge's Sweet Potato Pie HT, JHD, SJ.  The first title listed, HT, is an AKC title that means Herding Tested and the second is an AHBA herding title that means Junior Herding Dog.  So now she has titles in both herding and agility.  Our other goals for the agility weekend were to successfully complete the teeter, dog walk and weaves in competition.  We got the first two but not the last.  We've been working hard on weaves in class and I think we might just have it now.  We'll test that in two weeks at an AKC trial.  Moira also had qualifying runs in Snooker (2) and Gamblers (1) so we had a 33% Q rate for the weekend.  Not bad when previously we were lucky to have one qualifying run.  August is a heavy trialing month for us with agility trials 3 of the 4 weekends.  Two of those trials are AKC so there's a possibility we could get some more titles.

Ginny's 13th birthday was July 18th.  As far as I know, all her litter mates are still living.  Ginny is doing remarkably well for a 13 year old dog.  She's active and happy these days.  When I was packing up to go to the agility trials at the beginning of the month she couldn't wait to get in the car for an adventure.  She is a little stiff in her joints these days so at her next vet appointment we will talk about a prescription for an NSAID.  Other than that, she's great.

So that's where we are with July half over.  I'm going to make a commitment to post more regularly as it's something I miss.  I hope you all are having a wonderful summer.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Ch Yardican Roland ROMb
5/31/1998 - 6/30/2012
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. 
You make me happy when skies are grey.
You'll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sam Update

First, thanks to everyone who has made suggestions on ways I can help Sam.  All of them are wonderful and appreciated.

Now, what you all need to know.  Sam's condition is chronic, progressive and painful.  He has deteriorated much faster than I anticipated.  When we arrived in Nashville, three months ago, the vet was able to treat him with Prednisone and an increased dose of Tramadol.  At that time, he also told me that we were at the maximum dosage of Tramadol.  When that dosage became ineffective, we would have to move on to something stronger; most likely Morphine.  We are very close to that eventuality.

Sam's mobility is also seriously compromised.  Some days he can move around pretty well.  Most days, walking is a struggle.  I have to escort him outside and stay outside with him while he does his business.  Then, most of the time, I have to assist him to get back in the house.  I'm not carrying him in and out but he needs me to motivate him.

Being a caretaker for an elderly dog is heart breaking and exhausting.  This is especially true of a dog like Sam; a dog whose personality and physicality is such a huge part of who he is.  Those of you who have met Sam, or have members of the Samily, will understand what I mean.

Last fall, I wrote a post called Choices.  I'm asking myself the questions in that post almost daily now.  The answers are telling me that I will have to make a choice, soon.  It's made all the more difficult by the fact that Sam is still Sam.  He's not yet telling me that it's his time but, it's not in Sam's personality to quit.  Knowing Sam, I doubt he will ever tell me.  The last appointment we had with our regular vet, he warned me that Sam wasn't going to make this easy on me.  I always knew that would be the case.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's Not Just Potty Humor..

Warning!  This post contains not just potty humor but actual potty...

As part of managing the symptoms of Sam's cauda equina he has started having acupuncture treatments with Dr. Tammy Perkins at Animalia Wellness.  He had his second treatment yesterday.  I'll post some pictures of the clinic in a later post.  It's the most gorgeous clinic I've ever seen.

Dr. Perkins suggested that Sam might benefit from some hydrotherapy as well.  I can't really afford  to take advantage of the underwater treadmill at Animalia so Dr. Perkins said that a kiddie pool would work too.  That I can afford!

Yesterday I bought Sam a kiddie pool at Lowe's.  Did you know these pools can be tough to find now?  Wally World didn't even have them.  This morning, I filled the pool with water and let it sit in the sunshine for a few hours so it would warm up a bit.  Then I got Sam outside and lifted him into the pool.  The idea was to have him walk circuits around the pool.  Turns out, the pool is a little too small for that.

Sam, lounging in his private pool.

Yeah, this might not be too bad.

And then it happened..... Sam's re-enactment of the pool scene in Caddyshack.  Only no one was eating a chocolate bar......

That's no Baby Ruth....

And so ended Sam's first dip in the pool.  I helped him exit the pool - there wasn't any panic - dried him off and then dumped the pool.  I don't think I'll need to wear a hazmat suit to clean it but it might be a while before Sam takes another dip.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Sam!

Today is Sam's 14th birthday.  It's hard to believe he's been with me for nearly 10 years!  I dearly love this boy.  I took this photo while he was eating his birthday treat of soft serve ice cream with Bailey's drizzled over it.  It just might be one of my favorite pictures of him EVER!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Good Vet

While moving can be fun and exciting there is also the hassle of finding a lot of new service providers; hair dressers, dentists, doctors and, arguably, most importantly a vet.  I got so lucky in the veterinary department with this move.  Before I left VA, I had several recommendations for Dr. Bernander at Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Franklin, TN.

It turns out that was a good thing because while I was making the drive down here, I called his office to schedule an appointment for Sam.  In the weeks leading up to our move, Sam had increasing issues with mobility - specifically, his rear movement.  So we arrived in TN on Tuesday evening, moved into our house on Wednesday and Sam went to see Dr. B on Thursday.

Dr. B took xrays and diagnosed Sam with a potential infection in one disk, a fully fused disk and a third disk - L7/S1 - that was causing the real issue - and quite a bit of pain.  Basically, Sam has cauda equina.  This is a chronic condition that is very painful and will eventually lead to rear paralysis.  It's a fairly common condition in large, athletic dogs but you don't hear much about it in Cardigans.

The initial treatment for Sam included Cephalexin, Prednisone and an increased dose of Tramadol.  It also included return trips to the vet every 2 weeks.  So we made return trips for the next 8 weeks.

In the middle of all that, Grace, the cat, also became ill.  My first clue was that she missed the litter box.  During one of Sam's regular rechecks, I brought Grace along and ended up leaving her at the clinic overnite.  She was diagnosed with a severe UTI and ended up spending 3 nights at the clinic.  She came home on a Monday but by Thursday evening she had made it very clear to me that she was finished with this life.  I took her back in on Saturday morning and Dr. B helped her cross the bridge just one week before her 15th birthday.

In my next post, I'll introduce Sam's new physical therapist.  She's going to help us manage Sam's pain so we don't have to graduate to morphine for pain control.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


A little homage to Minnie Pearl there in the post title tonight :)  The house I am renting here in Nashville is about 2 miles from Opryland.

The drive down to Nashville in March was pretty uneventful.  We had great weather, the dogs and Grace were patient with the long trip and, thanks to UHM's parting gift of a GPS unit, we didn't get lost :)  Once we arrived, things got a little less uneventful.

The morning I took possession of our little rental house, I got to the house before the leasing agent.  I was walking around the outside of the house and wanted to explore the little, fully fenced back yard.  So I let myself in the yard and, like any good dog owner, shut the gate behind me.  One small problem, there was no latch on the inside of the gate - I was locked in the back yard.  Fortunately, the leasing agent pulled up a few minutes later and let me out so we could get in the house.

The movers arrived shortly thereafter and delivered my rather small truck load of household goods without incident.  Usually, when I move for a new job I manage to arrive on Saturday and have to go to work on Monday so it takes forever for the house to get unpacked and set up.  This time, I gave myself  a full 5 days to get my act together!  I had time to run errands on that first day even.  The weather was gorgeous so I had the windows down as I cruised the highways in the greater Nashville area.  That's when a hornet ended up in my car.  I felt/saw it rocket into the car as I was going 55 miles an hour.  Shortly thereafter, I felt a sharp stinging between my breasts - while I was driving 55 miles an hour.  Yup, the hornet ended up going down my shirt and stinging me.  Fortunately, I'm not particularly well-endowed so I was able to fairly easily get him out of my shirt without causing a wreck.  About 10 minutes later, I felt a sharp stinging behind my knee.  I managed to fling the bastard out of my shirt, only to have him land only the floor and subsequently crawl up my leg.  Only me.

Friday -Our new vet and the many, many visits we've made to his office since our arrival.

Monday, May 21, 2012

We're Baaaaack!

I bought a new computer this weekend so we are back on line and ready to start posting about our adventures in our new home, Nashville, TN.  Look for the first installment of the Moving Chronicles Wednesday evening.  Right now, it's late and we are headed to bed.

Thanks, in advance, for hanging in there with us.  Lots of exciting things have happened since mid-March and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you all.

Red Dog Mom & The Horde (Southern Branch)

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Little Hiatus

Tomorrow morning I will load The Horde in the Dawg Yacht and we will strike out for Nashville, TN.  It's amazing how fast our relocation happened, considering how long it took for me to find a job!

I've rented what looks like a lovely little house in Nashville that is very close to my new office and lots of other things too.  I rented it based on pictures and a description on the property management website because it was the only house I could find on short notice that fit all my criteria; pet-friendly, fully fenced yard and a single level. It's like internet dating except that I am locked into this relationship for at least 2 years!

The movers loaded up all my household goods last Friday and I've spent the last few days gathering up the things that are still in the house and deciding what to take and what to leave.  Since UHM will be staying in the house for at least a little while longer, there isn't as much of a rush to get EVERYTHING out.

I've edited my possessions pretty well and one of the things I no longer have is a computer :(  So, I'll be taking a hiatus from blogging until I get a new one.  For those who are my FB friends, I will continue to post bits and pieces there since my phone will allow me to.  When I get back on line, I'll be unveiling a new website for Fairway Cardigans in addition to updating the blog.  I'm not sure how long the hiatus will last so please check back often.  I hope to be back on line within a couple of months.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Changing Priorities

Know what happens when you get a job that requires a move?  Your priorities change and things like blogging fall to the bottom of the list.

So, here are more details on what is going on with my new job and move....

I got the original offer a week ago Friday.  There are a couple of details still to be worked out but I will be working for Kirkland's, Inc. ( based out of Nashville, TN.  I'm hoping for a finalized offer today.  Once I have that, we can set a start date.

I've scoured the internet for a rental property that will accept dogs and meets my other criteria (single level, fully fenced yard and safe neighborhood).  I've found exactly ONE property that I love and have submitted an application to the property management group.  I am waiting for them to say, "We'd love to have you and your Horde move into our newly remodeled 3 bedroom, 2 bath house that is just 2.22 miles from your new office."  Ok, I didn't tell them the dogs are known as The Horde - I think there might be some negative connotations with the name.

I have gone through a lot of boxes in my storage unit.  I've consolidated, repacked and donated things so I am basically down to the bare minimums of what I need to move.  My couch and 2 upholstered chairs will also be looking for new homes via GoodWill or Habitat for Humanity.  I think 15-16 years is long enough for me to get the value out of them.  That means I will be living on cheap patio furniture until I find and can afford new furniture that I like.  By the way, it's entirely possible that my new furniture may be patio furniture as well.  The thought of being able to hose off the upholstery when it gets dirty is darned tempting and, honestly, some of the 'patio' furniture that's out there right now is as nice as any indoor furniture.  Besides, isn't bring the outdoors in terribly in fashion?

So, for the moment we are in a bit of a holding pattern but I expect that when things break loose there will be lots of movement VERY fast....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

By the Numbers

307 Days
91 Companies
4 In-Person Interviews
Innumerable on line applications and hours spent filling them out - repeatedly.

The only number that counts?  One.
One job offer.

Late Friday afternoon I finally got the call.  I received an offer from a company in Nashville, TN, that I am accepting.  There are, of course, details to be worked out but, I will once again be employed.

Many thanks to all of you who have expressed your support over the last several months.  While I didn't write a lot, the blog and your comments were part of what helped keep me marginally sane.

More details to come....  You just gotta know that moving The Horde to Nashville will be an adventure.....

Monday, February 13, 2012


So apparently all my dog show friends are a bunch of weenies since not one of you sent me a less than flattering win picture.  Or maybe it's that none of you have ever taken a less than flattering win picture?  Because if that is the case, I'm screwed.

Now, to take the post title another direction...  This morning I was thinking about owning a stud dog and what that has meant to me personally.  In the world of dogs, there are people who prefer to own dogs and those who prefer to own bitches.  In most respects, it doesn't really matter to me - I have both - but owning a stud dog seems, to me, to be a little different.

When Sam came to live with me, nearly 10 years ago, it was supposed to be a temporary situation.  As a novice Cardigan owner I had no intention of becoming involved in the conformation or breeding side of owning dogs.  Ginny had come to live with me about 5 months earlier and I had originally thought I would pursue competitive obedience with her (the only dog sport I was aware of at the time) but that wasn't panning out.  Sam came along and things began to change.

I acknowledge that every stud dog is different and what I've experienced with Sam may not be the norm but, here's what I've found:

- Some stud dogs don't like other intact males.  In my first group of Cardigan friends, there were a bunch of intact males.  Some had stood at stud, others hadn't.  None of them liked each other.  We all socialized at agility events but we had to do it from a 6-10 foot distance if we had the dogs with us.

- Intact males can be wonderfully polite around girls in season or real idiots.  Early on, Sam was very polite when his girlfriends would come to stay with us.  As he's aged, he's gotten less polite and more of an idiot.  The whining and tap dancing that accompanied Georgia's last season were ridiculous.

- When you own a stud dog, you sometimes have to take matters into your own hands.  Enough said.

- Taking your stud dog to a good looking, male repro vet to be collected on can seriously impair your sang froid.

- Owning a stud dog causes you to have what most people would think of as completely inappropriate public conversations about testicles, penises, semen, sperm counts, motility and virility.  It also causes the guy at the UPS store to ask if you were the one who shipped a 'whole bucket' of sperm to England.  I was not.

- Owning a stud dog means you don't have to be married or have a boyfriend to experience having a man in your bed who hogs the bed, steals the covers, throws the pillows on the floor, snores, farts and kicks you when he's dreaming.

-Owning a stud dog means you can have lovely friendships all over the country and world with people you've never met because their dog has your stud in its pedigree.  I'm always thrilled to see pictures of members of the Samily and hear about their exploits.

What about the rest of you who own stud dogs?  Anything to add to the list?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Another Dog Show Take Away

I've been meaning to post since the first weekend in February but, I've had a cold and just haven't had the energy.  On February 4, Miss Georgia went Best of Breed at a show in Doswell, VA.  It was a small Cardigan entry, no specials, but I'm still super proud of the little girl who is growing into such a lovely show dog.

In the past I've talked about all the crap you need to show a dog; grooming table, dryer, special shampoo, brushes, combs, chalk, etc.  Then there's the wardrobe considerations for the handler; color coordinating with your dog, making sure the skirt is long enough to cover your lady bits if you bend over, pockets, etc.  Of course there's teaching your dog to be a show dog; hand stacking, free stacking, gaiting, baiting, etc.  Then you go in the ring and hope for a win.  When it happens, it's exhilarating!  And then you get to the win photo....

Traditionally, you have a win photo taken for your first point(s), both majors and when your dog completes its championship.  There is a photographer at the show who will take the picture with or without the judge (with the judge is preferable), in the ring or at a designated photo area.  The photo is mailed to you, in a sealed plastic sleeve, within a week or two of the show.  You can usually see enough of the photo through the printing on the sleeve to determine if you want to keep it.  If not, you send it back and pay nothing.  If you open the sleeve and keep the photo, you have to pay for it.

Sounds pretty simple I mean, we take pictures all the time.  If you have dogs, chances are good you have literally hundreds of pictures of them - candids as well as stacked shots (if they are show dogs).  You've probably been in lots of pictures yourself too.  No big deal, right?  WRONG!

What they don't teach you in handling classes, or anywhere else for that matter, is that the win photo should be practiced as well.  Getting your dog appropriately stacked shouldn't be an issue - you've practiced the hell out of that.  Getting YOURSELF properly posed is an entirely different issue.  Which brings me to Georgia's recent win photo.
Click to biggify.

You'll notice that my face is obscured.  That's because I was so focused on getting G set up properly, making sure the collar didn't make her hair do weird things, making sure the lead wasn't dangling in an odd place, etc. that when the photo was snapped my face was NOT prepared.  I look like a turtle that has been goosed.  My expression is literally so distracting that you don't see the dog.

I'm willing to post an un-retouched photo if my dog show friends out there will share with me their less than flattering win photos too.  Send them to me at dina.delsman *@* and I will do a whole post of win photos gone wrong.  I need to know that others have felt my pain.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I Did What to the Cat?

Grace, the cat, doesn't get a lot of time on the blog but she does exist and I do care for her.  She's been around for 14.5 years - predating the dogs by 5 years!

This fall, I took Grace to the vet for a check up and while she was there we cut her claws.  Most people don't think about cutting their cat's claws but, if you have an indoor cat who doesn't use a scratching post it's not a bad idea to do it occasionally.

Today, I cut Grace's claws again.  While I was doing it, several things popped into my head.  In no particular order they are:

- It's a lot easier to cut Grace's claws than any of the dog's toenails.  Her quicks are way back.

- Damn!  Grace's claws are REALLY long!

- It's a lot harder to cut Grace's claws than any of the dogs toenails.  When held on her back, Grace becomes completely boneless and just sort of slides through my hands/arms.

- Where the hell ARE Grace's claws.  Between being retractable and her being long haired, finding her claws can be a challenge.

- Might be a good idea to keep Grace's uncut claws away from my face while I am cutting them.

If you have a cat, take a moment to check out their claws - if he/she will let you - and if they need it, give them a trim. The furniture you save may be your own!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Bogey was starting to look a little shaggy so I decided to do some manscaping on him this weekend.
Making those feet look a little less like a Snowshoe Hare's.

Not being a show dog, he really doesn't appreciate being asked to spend time on the grooming table.  When it was all said and done this is what was left.
Can it really be called manscaping if you remove this much hair?

And this is how the handsome boy looked.

A little less crazy grandpa hair coming out of and around his ears as well as tidier feet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dog Shows and Champions

This weekend there was a cluster of dog shows in Fredericksburg, VA.  A cluster means that there are several days of shows, usually sponsored by at least two local kennel clubs.  This was a five day cluster, starting on Wednesday and ending tomorrow, Sunday.  Georgia was entered Friday and Saturday and she did well; garnering two more points toward her championship.

It takes 15 points for a dog to become a champion.  Those points are earned by defeating other dogs at shows.  That sounds pretty simple but it isn't always.  You see, at least 6 of those points have to come from what are called 'majors.'  A major can be worth 3, 4 or 5 points, depending on the number of dogs shown and the region the show takes place in.  The AKC has divided the country into 13 divisions and, based on a rolling 3 year count of entries, they publish a points schedule every May.  You can see the current schedule here.

Dogs that are not yet champions are known as 'class' dogs and the points schedule applies to them.  In each breed the dogs entered are shown first by sex, then by age or special classes like American Bred, Bred by Exhibitor or Amateur Owner/Handler.  The winners of each of the age or special classes go back in to compete for Winners Dog/Bitch - that's where you earn the points.  Then Winners Dog & Bitch go back into the Best of Breed round, with dogs that already have their championships (specials), to compete for Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex and, for the class dogs/bitches only, Best of Winners.

The AKC actually has a pretty good explanation of how to count points here.  I'm referring you there because trying to explain some of those scenarios can get a little hairy!  Best of Winners was important to us this weekend because Georgia was the only class bitch entered - therefore, there weren't any points available to her because she didn't defeat any other girls.  By going Best of Winners, she was able to get the points that applied to the dog entry for the day.  Winners Dog still got a point but, because Georgia did too since, in essence, she was judged to be the best of all the non-champion dogs entered.  It's called "crossing over" and in areas where the points schedule hasn't caught up with what actual entries are like, it can save your bacon - allowing you to win points when normally there wouldn't be any.

If all this didn't make sense, read it again :)  Then, don't worry about it.  It took me at least a couple years just to understand the concept of crossing over.  I still don't completely understand scenarios where class dogs/bitches go Best of Breed over specials.

Georgia is entered in another show on January 28th in Doswell, VA.  There are 2 class dogs entered and Georgia is the only class bitch again.  Under the current schedule, that means she won't get any points for going Winners Bitch but, if she goes Best of Winners she would get another single point.  The other interesting part of this entry is that she also has the opportunity to go Best of Breed which buys her a turn in the group ring.  Oops, I didn't explain the groups did I?  Well, we'll save that for another post......

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Only Six Left

Well, after tomorrow that is.  Tomorrow, when I fly to Alabama for a job interview, I will only have six states out of fifty that I haven't visited.  The remaining six are; Alaska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and Vermont.  When you move around a lot, you keep track of things like that.

I can also tell you all the states I've shown dogs in (conformation, agility and herding); Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Kansas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine and Connecticut.  Not too bad, I say.

I had two phone interviews last week, one last night, and received an email to set up a time for another phone interview in the next week.  Things are picking up....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stick a Needle in My Eye

Wow!  I can't believe it's already 2012.  Time really does go faster the older you get.

For Christmas last year (2011) Georgia gave us the gift of coming into season; seems the girl is on a 7 month cycle.  That means that this week she is in standing heat and her father, Sam, is a wreck.  Fortunately, we don't allow the two to spend much time together anyway so we aren't also dealing with having to separate them.  Poor Sam knows she's here though and he paces around the house quietly whining.  It really only gets annoying when you are trying to sleep.  He's also spending a lot of time checking out Ginny & Moira to see if, just possibly, they might be interested in a little hanky panky.  Poor old man.

On and off for the last several years I've had Sam treated with acupuncture to help relieve his arthritis pain.  I've always been impressed with the results however, I'd never had acupuncture myself so I didn't have a good sense of what it actually felt like.

About a month ago, I started having pain in my right elbow.  It was annoying but not too terribly bad so I ignored it, as I often do when plagued by minor pain.  The pain got progressively worse though and I suddenly realized I was suffering from tendinitis in that elbow.  I have no idea how that happened but, there it was.

I tried all the usual treatments; alternating cold and heat, anti-inflammatories (Traumeel and Arnica), pain relief (Tylenol) and whining.  None were really working so I thought I'd give acupuncture a try.  Hey, it's worked for Sam!

During the actual treatments I've been surprised at some of the things that have happened; odd sensations in parts of my body that have no apparent connection to my elbow (burning in my left heel), waves of energy that feel almost like a chill passing over my entire body and yesterday, while I was concentrating on breathing correctly, I burst into uncontrollable sobs.  It makes me wonder how Sam feels when he has the needles in, especially when they are hooked up to electro-stimulation to enhance the effects!

I've had two acupuncture treatments so far and, while the elbow still hurts, the pain does seem to be getting better.  What I've really been impressed with though are the side effects.  I sleep better for at least two nights after a treatment, Moira is more relaxed for a couple days after I am treated, and my overall mood seems to be better too.  Basically, I'm just finding that I feel more balanced and calm.

I have another appointment next week - I hope we can scale back the frequency of appointments soon since they aren't inexpensive - and am looking forward to it.  Now that I have a personal understanding of how acupuncture feels and works I will be much more likely to use it for the dogs.