Monday, April 06, 2009

Hiking Photos

SUMMARY: Fun in the sun and in the cow plop.

Sunday was just about a perfect spring day. Clear skies, temperatures just on the edge of cool, excellent for hiking.

We started out at 9 in the morning, and the parking lot was nearly empty. The dogs were delighted with the concept of being off leash and exploring. I mean, like, totally and completely delighted. Sniffed at everything. Boost promptly found a dead toad to roll in, and the day continued along those veins.

Wildflowers bloomed in every direction. In particular, lupines were everywhere. Some entire fields filled with the blue of lupines.

The trail ran alongside and across a stream. Somewhere a sign said no swimming, but we couldn't keep the Golden Retrievers out of it. And Tika, oddly enough for a dog who might be, who knows, Australian Shepherd and Husky, loves the water, too.

Renegade amazed me by carrying a toy almost the entire trip. Retrievers! He also displayed his innate agility. He and Boost were in puppy agility class together, but Ren is now retired from agility and spends his days hiking, swimming, retrieving, and writing his memoirs.

Horses and cows had laid out many delectable patties along the trail and meadows. Tika and Boost loved it.

Would you put your hand in there to try to reattach a leash to the collar?

None of the beasts apparently suffers from any fear of heights or of falling down the cliffs. Nice to have four feet and a low center of gravity.

Wendy and Keith and the beasts forge ahead while I--as usual--snap photos and then rush to catch up.

And so another adventure comes to an end. By the time we were home, the dogs were rested up and ready to play again. Everyone got a good hosing down, to their dismay.

These are just a few of the photos; see the rest--lots of wildflowers and happy dogs--here.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Domestic Agility Mom

SUMMARY: In which we learn why it's a bad idea for dogs to play tug of war on your bed on which your bed linens also reside. We then focus on our household trimming and ironing skills.

Tika loves to heave large fabricky things (OK, how do you turn "fabric" into an adjective anyway?) around. I gave up trying to get her to stop heaving my comforter around, and instead got her her very own huge dog-type throw that she does. Throw, that is. Every morning. Sometimes she and Boost play a little tug of war with it.

As dogs are not known for their fine grasp (so to speak) of fabric qualities, sometimes apparently they still accidentally confuse my flannel duvet cover with the big furry upholstered dog throw, as Taj MuttHall discovered the other morning after exiting the shower.

Taj MuttHall just bought these sheets a few months ago and is not going to throw them out. No. We are going to repair the rends. Which requires an emergency visit to the once-ubiquitous-but-now-nearly-extinct fabric store. We benefit from our vague cultural memory that, in this colossus of a warehouse store, we need to look for "Notions." Sometimes that's a great idea. (ha ha? That's your obscure Ken Kesey reference for the morning.)

Found Notions. Found iron-on fabric. Not nearly the selection TMH remembers from our youth, shopping in the cave'o'fabric near where the deer and the mastodons play. But bits of white in the multicolored package. No idea what TMH will ever do with navy blue, black, and deep burgundy iron on fabric, but that's what one gets.

Then one trims them to size, and rounds the corners per instructions. Kitchen shears won't do this. Fortunately I still have my old fabric shears from when--in our pre-TMH days--we occasionally wanted to shear fabric. Now they're in our desk drawer for emergency shearing of printer paper or the occasional carpet snag resulting from dog teeth operating in the incorrect place.

The other handy tool for using iron-on fabric is an actual iron. Remember irons? Mine is practically new because I've only used it twice since I got it when I first moved out on my own a couple of years ago. Or was it 1977? I lose track of these details1.

The instructions also say WARNING! Wash fabric before applying patches! But if you wash it, you know that the frayed edges will fray beyond your wildest nightmares (if you have nightmares about fraying fabric). So what are a few dog hairs among iron-on friends? Now you have to line up the edges to prepare for ironage. This is not so easy as one might suppose, with the stretchable fabric having been stretched a bit during its ordeal. Dang stripes--how can all of them line up except one?

Line up the patches right next to each other so that there are no gaps at all. (You had to use several pieces because the fabric wasn't large enough to do in one full sheet. Don't you like it how I know what you are doing and why?) Now, with the iron plenty preheated to Cotton setting, even though you believe that the sheets aren't exactly completely cotton, you're just following directions, you press for 30 seconds, moving the iron back and forth per instructions.

Learning opportunity #1: when you move the iron back and forth, the tightly aligned patches don't apparently stay that way.
Learning opportunity #2: What's that brown, iron-shaped patch of color that just appeared on my sheet? It'll wash out, won't it?
Won't it?

1(I also lose track of whether we're writing in the first person singular about me the person or third person singular, whether we at TMH are actually singular or plural, whether you're addressing your audience directly, or whether one is referring in general to some third-person entity not directly emotionally involved.)

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Escaping Dogs

SUMMARY: Our Siberian Husky had nuthin' on this beagle.

My Siberian Husky, Sheba, who lived to be 17, was one of the canine world's Houdini reincarnations. She went under, through, or over every fence that we concocted. We put her on a tie-out in the yard (a long line on a pulley so she had a lot of room to move), and she'd slip out of her collar no matter how tightly we fastened it, and you should've seen our jaws drop when, after the first time we buckled her firmly into a harness, we arrived home to find an empty, still-buckled harness attached to the line. In the house, she could pop the security bar out of the window, flip the latch, push open the window and the screen, and be gone in under 3 minutes. At about age 12, she learned how to lift the heavy iron L-bar latch on the big wrought-iron gates in our driveway and pull the gate open.

Here's a video of a beagle named Sofia who tops even those stories.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Number 9... Number 9...

SUMMARY: In which our agility sequence is rudely interrupted.

Apparently we're no longer doing number 9 in agility sequences in our back yard. Too much Beatles? Too much love potion? Who's to say what occurs in Border Collie minds?

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Much Better Today

SUMMARY: The title says it all.

Yesterday, the merest movement caused intense agony. For example, if I decided that I wanted to move my leg an inch to the right, I braced myself, gritted my teeth, girded my loins, grabbed the leg of my sweatpants to try to move the leg with my arm instead of using the leg itself, moaned or grunted or yelped in pain anyway, then lay back exhausted to decide what I could manage next. You can imagine that getting up to go to the little patient's room was quite an expedition.

Today I'm so much better, much more what I had expected from their descriptions. Knee is a bit sore and stiff, but I can get around, I can, say, roll over on my side with only a little agitation, I can even walk a little distance, cautiously, without a crutch if I need to do challenging things like move liquid from one place to another.

This morning I meandered out into the back yard (yesterday morning I wasn't meandering ANYwhere, thank you very much), traded one crutch for the pooper scooper, ambled slowly around the yard picking up poop, and then played a bit of fetch and did some agility with Tika and Boost.

Now, let's define "doing some agility"--another exciting episode in which I discover that the dogs don't understand what I thought they understood. I lean the crutches on the teeter (it's convenient) and step away a step. I stand facing a tunnel that's 20 feet away from me.

Picture the set-up: teeter is to my right, weaves are ahead of me and to the right of the teeter. Tunnel is U-shaped, one end straight ahead of me, other end 10 feet to its right. Line up dog on my left side. Put my left foot out straight towards the left end of the tunnel, hold my left arm straight toward the left side of the tunnel, face my shoulders and head towards the left end of the tunnel, and say "through."

The dog makes a u-turn in front of me and does the weaves.

Gradually we work our way to where the dog does the right side of the tunnel.

Finally, with patience, the dog does the left side of the tunnel. Lots of excitement and play (well, as much as I can manage without actually moving, protecting my knee all the while) and praise and do it a couple more times for reinforcement.

Turn in the opposite direction. Now the teeter is to my left. There's another u-shaped tunnel, left end directly in front of me and about 20 feet away, right end 10 feet to its right. There's another tunnel whose entry is ahead of me and to the right about 10 feet.

Line up dog on my left side. Aim foot, arm, shoulders, head towards left end of tunnel straight ahead. Say "through." Dog crossed in front of me and goes into the tunnel to my right.

Eventually we get them into the right side of the correct tunnel. And, finally, into the left side of the correct tunnel.

Yow. Something else to work on. Does it never end?

But on a more exciting note, I was sending Boost out through a tunnel and giving her an "out" to weaves, and she was making the entries and staying in! Progress has definitely occurred there.

So, anyway, I'm feeling much better today. Just woozy from the Vicodin, but calm and mostly pain-free. Life is good. Dogs are calmer today, after their exercise and brain work.

Yesterday was filled with gratuitous barking, Boost chewing on the Xmas tree skirt, dogs poking noses into trash cans, all those things that get active dogs turned in to the pound for doing because they're not getting the mental or physical stimulation they need. And I don't think I was out there with them more than 15 minutes max, so it really doesn't take much.

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