Monday, March 01, 2010

Now What?

SUMMARY: Losing it about agility. A longish and introspective post.
Friends know that I've been saying for several years that I'm doing too much agility and I miss my old life and I'm going to cut back on the agility.

Well, I have...from a high of 23 weekends in 2003 down to 18 last year. Last year was tough because a couple of those weekends were because the dog or dogs were injured or other oddball reasons, and I was sad and frustrated at the time.

But, as weekends have gone by, with and without agility, and has the "without" weekends have at first hurt but then became gifts of free time, I have come more and more to realize:

  • How much I hate getting up at 4 in the morning.
  • How much I resent agility taking almost all my vacation days.
  • How stressed I am trying to get in full weeks of work around agility weekends; there is no time for me, ever, it seems.
  • How much I like being around my house and yard with NOTHING SCHEDULED except maybe a movie with a friend.
  • How much I can catch up on, or just relax and enjoy, in a weekend at home.
  • How relaxed I feel during the week when there's no trial the following weekend.
  • How much I enjoy doing things OTHER than agility, like I always used to BEFORE agility.
  • How much happier I am to have money to spend on something other than agility once in a while.
  • How tired I am of fine-tuning dogs' agility performance. I mean, I *tried* to start Boost right, like with Susan Salo's approach to learning jumping. Maybe didn't do as much of it as I should have, because at some point she started knocking those bars, and now it's drudgery for me to try to fix it. I know all the advice that says that you should make ways to make training fun for you as well as for the dog, but, well, OK, it isn't.
  • How crushed I was at deciding--because of Tika's on-again off-again pains and aches-- not to take Tika to the nationals in Performance although she'd had an excellent year...and regretting it and regretting it and regretting it... until she came up injured at that trial just a couple of weeks after when Nationals would have been, completely justifying my reluctance to go. And suddenly it was like I'd been let free from something I'd thought I was chasing. Of course it helps that the USDAA Nationals aren't within driving distance any more.

I've felt that I was coming to this point for a very long time, and I'm starting to think that I'm actually here: I want most of agility out of my life.

We'll see how I do when the USDAA trials start coming fast and furious later in the year. I still want to do some, just REALLY not 18 weekends a year of it!

Which leaves me with the question: So, what do I do with these crazy driven dogs who love agility for so many reasons? I mean, I love agility, too. I've developed such an amazing rapport with all of my agility dogs that I never had with them as pets--and I was pretty close with my "merely" pet dogs. Agility keeps me physically active, which is crucial for me. It burns off their energy. It gives us an excuse to really focus on each other individually. And I've met so many wonderful people whom I now consider my friends--although I almost never see any of them except at agility events. Because they're all always doing agility! There are a lot of laughs and good times in agility.

I'm thinking that, if I take a weekend and don't do agility, I should do somehting else with them. Like, drive an hour to a park where they can run off leash and spend 2 or 3 hours hiking and drive back. Of course, there goes half a day of my weekend right there, and it might very well be a solitary effort rather than with dozens of friends who are all interested in each other and each other's dogs.

Conversely, there's a lot of pain in agility. Dogs die. People's goals are thwarted (mine, too). People and dogs injured. This is all really a very small part of agility, but at times now it feels constant constant constant, and maybe that's a sign of where I am, that the pain grows instead of simply being dips in the background from which one recovers.

I had decided not to do any agility in March... easy enough because it's just 2 of the 4 or so CPE trials I had figured on doing for the year... and now I find that I am looking towards the 4-day trial in April both with excitement (it's a big, fun, exciting event) and trepidation (it's four frigging days of agility).

I dunno. I'm trying to take some time off from agility. I'm trying not to think "but my dogs are getting older and their agility lives are short." I'm trying to remember that, by the time these dogs are gone (gods willing), I'll be in my mid-60s. My arthritic knees aren't getting any better. MY life is going to be short enough, no matter how long it is. I have so much else I want to do in my life and I'm not getting it done.

I think I'm thinking out loud. I think I'm coming to where 230 weekends of agility competition (not to mention seminars and fun matches and classes) over 14 years have just worn out their welcome.

I started agility classes for something fun to do with Remington because he needed more exercise and more of a mental workout than simply tricks and playing in the yard were giving him. It certainly did that. I had never intended to compete, just keep going to classes every week for the fun. Don't know whether I could go back to just that.

Anyway--feels like I'm at a crossroad and I'm not yet entirely sure which direction I'm headed. There will be agility--heck, Tika and I could try again this year for Top Ten!--heck, Boost might actually someday earn a Jumpers Q and her MAD title! (I've almost given up on a championship)--but, like any addict, I'm trying to find a way to do it in true moderation without going cold turkey. Don't know whether that's possible.

Ah, well, yes, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day!

List of competition weekends and number of runs each

Click to see larger images.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Statistics and Patterns Lie. I Hope.

SUMMARY: I'd like to break this particular pattern among my dogs' lives.

Six years after Amber died, Sheba died.

Five years after Sheba died, Remington died.

Four years after Remington died, Jake died.

It has now been three years since Jake died.

I'm just sayin', I'd prefer not to continue this pattern, thank you very much.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Competitive Dog Sports -- Another Pass-Around Thang

SUMMARY: About me & my dog sports.
Found on Facebook. I'm posting here because I've answered many of these questions before and I'm just going to link to 'em. If you want to do this note on facebook and tag your dog-sport pals, copy & paste these instructions as well as the rest of the content:
Copy and paste the content below, then erase the other person's answers and put in your own. Tag as many Dog Nuts as you can think of, including the person who sent it to you as "first tag." Don't be shy to make your answers long, if need be.

NOTE: This will be a very long read if you also read the links in which I answer some questions at length. Don't you have something better to do with your time?

List the dog sports in which you compete. If you have a particular favorite please tell us, and tell us why!

Is there anyone you'd like to thank or BLAME for getting you into competitive dog activities?
My obedience instructor started taking agility classes and recommended it to me. For my active, eager dog. Who is also clearly to blame.

Please tell the story of how you got started in dog sports. Where/when (year please, don't be shy!)/why/etc.
Remember, you asked. (First competition: January 1996.)

What is your FAVORITE thing about dog sports, and what is your LEAST FAVORITE?
One answer, from June 2009, on "why agility?"
What I hate about agility? Disappointing myself, sometimes; the expense; the amount of time it takes away from everything else in my life.

What breeds or mixes thereof do you/have you owned? Please list their name, their breed (or mix thereof) and then their BEST quality as a sport dog and their WORST quality as a sport dog.
Whoa, can you believe I've never done a post on this? (At least not that I'm finding.) This would make a good future blog post. Summary:
  • Remington, Squirrelhund (Lab/Shepherd probably). Almost never dropped a bar. Loved to learn. Could be pretty fast. Extremely sensitive to my moods and shut down a lot.
  • Jake, Semidachshund (sheltie mix probably, maybe beagle?). Took forever to learn anything new. But once he got it, very reliable.
  • Tika, Craussie (Aussie cross, maybe Husky?). Pretty darned fast, loves doing agility, easily distracted, fights the "rules" every step of the way. 
  • Boost, Border Collie. Extremely fast and driven. Loves to learn. Very focused. Wants to do agility. Light on the concepts of keeping bars up and doing weaves from beginning to end.

How many dog beds do you currently own and what did you pay for the most expensive one?
  • Double-thick bathmats once were primary dog beds. (3 or 4, bought on clearance for about $15 each in the early '90s. Tucked away now or used at trials when sleeping in the van.)
  • Official dog mats, thick pile fleece with blue border. (3, one in kitchen, one in crate in bedroom, one for trials. About $15 each at pet stores through the years.)
  • Raised PVC bed frames with rip-stop "hammock". (3, one in office, two in kitchen. Bought one at giant February AKC dog show at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds. Two bought at USDAA Nationals in Scottsdale. $55 each in 2001. )
  • Big thick dog bed cushion with zippered cover. (2, both in office, one on a PVC bed frame--which the dogs take turns using--one from Costco about $20, one won in agility trial raffle.)
  • Down-filled bed with stuff bag. (1, stored in closet, won in raffle.)
  • Giant fleece/fabric sturdy throw used as dog bed in my bedroom. (1, won in raffle.)
  • Smaller fleece rectangle with raised sides in my bedroom. (1, won in raffle.)
  • Spiffy actual nice plush dog bed, bought for Jake with a Christmas gift certificate to PetSmart (so it was either free or $79.99, depending on your viewpoint, which could make it the most expensive). (Jake died only a month later, but he loved it while he had it. Tucked in the corner of my office, Boost uses it all the time. Tika sometimes uses it.)
(Short post in which this photo originally appeared.)

What is the most you ever paid for a large bag of dog food? Probably $55. Same thing sells at a discount at nearby Pet Club for $35.

What is the most you have ever paid for a dog toy, and what was it?
No clue. Probably in the $20 range from time to time.

List the vehicles you have bought specifically for traveling to and from dog competitions.
MUTT MVR! Read my 2005 post about it in the Quintessential agility car.

What is the furthest you have ever traveled in order to attend a dog event?
Scottsdale, Arizona (USDAA Nationals 2004,05,06,07,08).
Second furthest: Either San Diego, CA (USDAA Nationals, 2000 and 2001), or Eureka, CA (2002, chasing the last gambler's let for Remington's NATCH).

How many dog-related pieces of clothing do you currently own?
As of March 2007.

How many dog toys do you own? Don't forget to include the ones in the car and in various closets and at your in-laws' house.
As of November 2008. (Remember that you can click on a photo to see a larger version of it to make out more details.)

(Read the original post that goes with the photo.)

How many dog-related books do you own?

Remember that you can always click on a photo here to see a larger version of it if you want to browse bowser titles yourself. (Read the post that goes with the photo.) Here's the list of the books as of 2006. (Read the short post that goes with the list.)

Have you ever been bitten by a dog? If so what were the circumstances?
Accidentally when Jake and Remington got into a fight between me, the couch, and the coffee table.

Has your dog ever peed/pooped/barfed someplace that they really shouldn't have? If so, tell us what happened!
Are you kidding? I own dogs! Duh!

Has your dog ever stolen a major item of human food? Tell us!
Not that I recall.

When competing in dog sports, did you ever admire someone else's dog from afar so much that you will always remember that dog? If so, please tell us all about it.
So many dogs! Several Border Collies stood out, including one who would eventually become Boost's mom. Several mixed-breed dogs! I love their distinctive looks and how well they do even against Border Collies.

Of all your friend's dogs, which dog would you like to take home and keep if you had the chance? You can list three, just to be fair...or just one if you're ruthless!
I've had such a wide variety of my own, I now know that there is no perfect dog. Any one will have its issues and its successes. I don't covet others's dogs.

What has been your most embarrassing moment thus far while competing in dog sports?
Probably a tie between:
  • Me and Jake running a beautiful first half of a Pairs Relay course, to have our partner cry, "Where's the baton?!" as I came racing in, empty handed. (That's an automatic disqualification.)
  • Running into the teeter totter. Read about it here.

What has been your most shining moment thus far while competing in dog sports?

Oh, so very many! Jake's MAD (the first I ever earned). Remington's NATCH (my first dog's championship, FINALLY). Winning Full House with zillions of points over and over in CPE trials with Tika and Boost. Boost doing the weave poles correctly! Winning a ribbon at USDAA Nationals with Tika in an individual event. Making Team finals at the USDAA Nationals with Tika. Finally getting Jake's 5th Gamblers Q for his ADCH. Finally qualifying for Grand Prix semifinals with Tika with a smooth and beautiful and aggressive run. Having a Perfect Weekend with Tika. Earning a trophy at CPE Nationals with Tika--one Q away from a perfect 3-day Nationals with 1sts or 2nds in everything (and I mean of everyone competing, not just her class). Remington getting excited about agility again and running like when he first started. Jake jumping into my arms at the end of a run. I dunno--I could go on and on. 220 trials over 14 years--lots going on in there!

What are your goals for the future with your dogs?

Not sure any more. Once upon a time it was to win More First Places and Make It To the Nationals Finals. But now, I dunno, I'm thinking "retire and do a lot of hiking."

If the Dog Fairy could grant you one wish (sky is the limit), what would it be?

I love my dog family the way it is now. Love the dogs, love how they get along together, love how they've come along in their training. Don't want to have to start over again. Keep them around and healthy and active for many many years.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009


SUMMARY: Twenty years ago today.
Twenty years ago this evening, just after 5:00 p.m., the Loma Prieta earthquake hit.

It was NOT the big one; registered a mere 6.9. For most of the millions of residents of the San Francisco Bay area, damage looked no worse than this (one of our chimneys) and mostly much less:

or this (a neighbor's chimney)

I already posted a brief, general account here two years ago.

And I posted some of my photos and other memorabilia on my photo site, with additional commentary about the quake.

I took no photos of the dogs and their behavior (well, I was a little preoccupied). But here's how it went with the dogs.

I was at work when the quake hit, about 15 miles from the epicenter and about 2 miles from home. After the main shaking stopped--and it continued for about 30 seconds, which feels like an eternity when the ground is shaking so hard that you can't really walk--we all evacuated rapidly into the parking lot, where we gathered around our cars listening to the car radios. (Remember--no cell phones, no world wide web. This was "the good old days"!) Aftershock followed by aftershock rolled across the earth, but none so bad as the original quake.

When the aftershocks had died off somewhat, upper management checked out the building quickly: It was a mess (yes, that's the air conditioning ducting hanging out of the ceiling and my co-worker's collapsed bookcase), but didn't look like it was on the verge of collapse. so they escorted us into the building in groups of 3 at a time--to dash in, grab our purses or car keys or wallets, and go back out the the parking lot.

So I couldn't get home for at least half an hour to an hour after the initial shake. I made a quick pass through the house, saw the disaster of broken glass and liquids in the kitchen and assorted disarray, damage, and breakage in other parts of the house, so hustled my dogs out of the house into the driveway. There we sat in the pleasant evening on lawn chairs, listening to the radio (battery-operated--no power!) and hoping that eventually my husband would call and tell us he was OK.

Sheba, our Siberian Husky, was panic-stricken. She was a known escape artist from way back, and the moving earth drove her into a frenzy of trying to get away. We were lucky once because my mother-in-law was staying with us at the time, was in the kitchen looking out at our driveway gate when the quake hit, and could see the gate swing open and Sheba try to make a break for it. We were lucky again as the days and aftershocks wore on that Sheba never did escape; one friend's dog took off and was never seen again, despite all of us plastering the neighborhoods with LOST DOG signs. The humane society reported a vastly increased number of stray dogs in the days after the quake.

Sheba hated every minute of it. I think that she was in a literal state of shock herself; eyes wide, panting uncontrollably, not interested in eating, shaking and trembling every time an aftershock came, and continuing to do so for a long time after each one. On that first night, I didn't feel comfortable sleeping in our second-floor bedroom (especially with the bureaus and closet doors and such strewn around, and especially not with the aftershocks continuing). So we opened the sofabed in the one-story part of the house and slept there.

Or, should I say, TRIED to sleep. Sheba was not a cuddling dog. But all that first night, she lay on my chest, her haunted eyes staring almost blindly at me, panting and shaking and drooling. She was 9 at the time, and I was afraid that she was on the verge of a heart attack. Took me a very long time trying to get a dial tone on the phone to call the vet. Not because the phone lines were down, oh no! But because everyone's first reaction was to pick up the phone and start calling people! So all the lines were overloaded. The radio kept telling us to STOP CALLING if it's NOT AN EMERGENCY so that people who NEEDED to use the phone for important things (e.g., calling 911) could do so.

Eventually I gave up on contacting the vet that day (and possibly the following day). She didn't relax for several days, and I'm not sure how much sleep she got during the first couple of days.

Amber, our German Shepherd/Golden mix, as a counterpoint to the husky, remained unimpressed by anything having to do with the earthquake. On an aftershock, she'd lift her head wherever she was sleeping at the time, look around in mild annoyance at the disturbance, and go right back to sleep immediately afterwards. Thank goodness, because having TWO dogs shaking and drooling and panting on my chest all night would have been a little too cozy.

And neither of them EVER gave any indication that they had an inkling about an earthquake or aftershock about to occur. None of my dogs ever have. Dang worthless earthquake predictors.

I was amused, however, when my office eventually reopened (after the earthquake safety inspectors had been through) and discovered this on my Far Side calendar for the day after the quake:

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

History Reappears

SUMMARY: Comparing 2002 to now.

I've saved emails about my life with my dogs since 1994, and occasionally I go back and post them to this blog, dated as they actually occurred (you can do that in Blogger; very cool) and flagged with "Backfill" and the date I really posted it.

Just posted a couple from the first few weeks I had Tika.

Here's a good one for comparison from February 2002.

How are things 7 years later? Tika definitely does NOT sit quietly and wait for her leash to be put on before going out for a walk. She leaps, shouts, runs in circles, jumps, shrieks...

I used the gentle leader with her for a long time but started getting worried about how much pressure it was putting on her neck every time she pulled on it--which was often--so a year or two back (after I had spent the $$$ to get one for Boost, too) I just stopped using them. Tika now has a nonpull harness that works very well. It's not perfect but I think it works better than the gentle leader (AKA haltie)--made by the same company.

And we have NOT fixed the screeching and barking and leaping and yanking when on leash and she sees other dogs. We have times where I think I'm making progress, and times when I realize that I'll never fix it.

And as for those "Down" commands--which we taught the dogs in two different ways to put their front ends down first because it makes for a faster, more direct down? I've noticed that, recently, Tika is always sitting first before going down. I never taught that or encouraged that; never! Funny.

Tricks--she Shakes just fine, with either paw, and does a high 5, too. Never continued teaching her the Crawl. And she can catch treats tossed to her fairly well; her main failing here is that she always leaps and snaps at it in a frenzy and often it just bounces off her nose or teeth and ricochets into some odd place where we have to hunt for it.

And, of course, I gave up within a year on the idea of having her sleep on the floor and only the old dogs sleep on the bed. Tried it with Boost, too, but noooo--all dogs sleep on the bed with mom. Sigh. Dog hair central.

And that was then, and this is now.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Dogs' Birthday Photos

SUMMARY: Boost turned 4 on January 31; Tika turned 8 on Feb 14.

Lots of people with rescue dogs celebrate their dogs' "gotcha day"--the day the dog came to live with them. I've always been more traditional and picked an approximate birthday. Boost's birthday I do know for sure; Tika's I picked because it was easy to remember (Valentine's Day) and also my sister's birthday. This, of course, was 4 years before I knew that my next dog's (Boost's) birthday would be my birthday. Keep it all in the family.

I meant to post some early photos of both of them, but didn't; was just reminded by Lola's gotcha day photos. So here are my girls as seen when they first came home.

Tika was a big girl when she came home, but in some photos she looks so scrawny at a year old! Plus that was when, sometimes, both of her ears would tip over nicely. Now that one ear never does, even when I press it into place. (The photos were scanned by the photo processor from my 34 mm film and I think they had it set to some weird setting because all the rolls from that set came back oddly done--but the actual prints look OK. Someday I might try rescanning from the negatives.)

Boost was three months old when she came home with me. She was still darned cute, although already past the roly-poly puppy stage.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Things About Me, and 25 More

SUMMARY: Another homework assignment from Facebook.

There's this thing going around on facebook. It's like a virus. You post 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about yourself, then you tag 25 other people to do the same. It can be pretty interesting. But you can't just open up facebook notes to the entire world like I can with TMH, so I don't post there.

Plus, I don't place the tagging onus on others; I like to let people volunteer. So this doesn't have to be in FB anyway.

But what the heck who doesn't like talking about herself? Perhaps it'll reveal something new to herself, some innermost meaning, desire, or strength that she hasn't previously discerned? But to post on Taj MuttHall, it's supposed to be dog related, according to the rules that she makes up as she goes along.

So here, forthwith, are 25 Random Dog Things About Me:
  1. Used to like cats more than dogs. Until we got our first dog.
  2. I'd rather play with my dogs than groom them. Where'd all this dog hair come from?
  3. Six of the eight dogs I've ever cohabited with have been mixed breeds.
  4. I've earned the equivalent of 11 agility championships: Jake in NADAC (twice over), CPE, USDAA (championship and performance), and ASCA (although almost all those legs duplicated the NADAC legs); Remington in NADAC; Tika in CPE and Bronze Ch in USDAA (triple ADCH).
  5. My Siberian Husky lived to be 17. She had one litter of puppies after we adopted her from the pound at about a year's age.
  6. I promoted and chaired the first-ever Bay Team CPE trial. A brief pause now for acceptance of thanks or curses.
  7. Herding dogs rock.
  8. I created my first web page in 1995, same year I started agility lessons. Taj MuttHall was fated to become!
  9. Kibble: Yes. Raw: No.
  10. Ideal dog: Not really sure. None of mine have been perfect, but I've loved them all and miss the ones that are gone.
  11. Minivans: Bleah. Only because I regularly haul dog butts around (MUTT MVR).
  12. Blue merles forever!
  13. For 2 years on wikipedia, I spearheaded the dog breed project to expand, edit, and standardize all dog-related articles--of which there were only a couple dozen when I started. I created the first version of the dog agility article. I created or edited virtually every dog-related article during that time. I have 85 dog-related photos there.  Go look. (User:Elf)
  14. I competed in 65 agility trials before I ever bought myself a canopy. Sun umbrellas and sheets worked fine. You canopy wimps don't know real roughing-it!
  15. I love teaching dogs tricks. Remington won a few small tricks contests. I'd like to spend more time teaching tricks to Tika and Boost but somehow instead spend it honing agility skills. For all that gets me.
  16. Wanna see my childhood dog scrapbook?
  17. Big yella dogs forever!
  18. Agility trials entered: 206. Runs run: 3,052. Qs earned: 1157. NQs for leaving the collar on: 2, both Jake, darn that long hair! Bars knocked between Jake and Remington: About 5. Bars knocked between Tika and Boost: Oh, good lord, why would you ask such a thing?
  19. My dogs have all learned to hold biscuits on their noses. Even the Siberian. Boost is still an apprentice. Remington could balance almost anything on his nose. I'm sure he thanked my friend's Nikki-dog regularly for first showing me that trick.
  20. I have a clicker in every room of my house, in my car, and in my yard. I rarely use them these days.
  21. My dogs sleep on my bed. I love it and I hate it.
  22. Number of times Jim Basic has used my dogs' before/after gambling statistics in his seminars as an example of how well his distance training works: Many.
  23. I had ugly experiences with AKC trainers with my first dog and I've learned so many more reasons to dislike AKC since then.
  24. Spaying and neutering dogs and cats should be encouraged but not required. Cosmetic docking and cropping of dogs' tails and ears should be illegal. 
  25. I take all my agility ribbons home and hang them on the wall.

And now, since there are parts of me that aren't attached at the hip to my dogs, here are 25 Random Nondog Things About Me:
  1. Found a human body once while backpacking with the Girl Scouts. They didn't have a badge for that.
  2. I played flute and took lessons for 12 years. I was almost pretty good. 
  3. That enabled me to march in the Cal Band, one of the great experiences of my life.
  4. I'd love to take voice lessons.
  5. Glen Campbell enthralled me in junior high school. They didn't have a badge for that, either.
  6. I was picked on terribly in the 3rd-6th grades by the horrific Nancy S and her "in" cronies. It really hurt.
  7. Color of my teen years bedroom furniture: Blue and purple. Colors at my wedding: Blue and purple. Colors on display everywhere in Macy's this season: Blue and purple. W00t!
  8. I still buy stamps for my stamp collection and postcards for my postcard collection even though they just go into a big box. They did have a badge for that. (Collecting, not boxing.)
  9. I earned the Sign of the Arrow and the Sign of the Star in girl scouts. Pretty high honors. A couple of years later, I quit.
  10. Shoe shopping: Gag me with a spoon.
  11. In high school speech and debate, I earned the National Forensic League's Double Ruby, the highest pin available at that time, and in my senior year made it to the state finals in Extemporaneous. 
  12. Seven No Trump. Doubled. Redoubled. Vulnerable.
  13. I'm the oldest of 5 sisters.
  14. My geek code is  GCS/CC/M/TW$/O d- s+: a++ C++$>--- UBLHS P+ L>+ E--- W+++$ N o? K? w$>--- !O M++$ V PS++ PE+@ Y PGP t !5 X- !R tv-- b++>+++ DI++++ !D G e++ h-- r x?  Use THAT to find out more about me. This should count for about 40 items right here.
  15. As long as I'm at it, I've programmed in SPL, Basic, FORTRAN, Ada, Jovial, Pascal, PL/1, ALGOL, various assemblers, machine code, COBOL, C, Java, Javascript, PERL... and probably some others that I thankfully don't remember. Don't ask me to do it now. But I can currently whack out some rugged HMTL.
  16. My 512K Mac is still in my attic.
  17. No-bake fondant! Mmmmm!
  18. From July 2004 through March 2006 on Wikipedia, only between 200-300 people had ever made more edits than I had. Fortunately, I recovered. 
  19. Style guide quantity in my office: at least 25. Quantity read most of the way through: Most.
  20. Places lived: 18 different buildings in 9 different cities in 3 states. I've set foot in almost every US state except Alaska.
  21. Sold two fiction short stories. Started dog agility. Sudden change in obsession.
  22. Abortion should be safe and legal. Gay marriage should be safe and legal. Curse you, Red Baron! Go Bears!
  23. Once upon a time, I could recite all of Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant". While playing some of the guitar background.
  24. My fastest time for a Mercury-News crossword in the last 2 years is 3 minutes and 47 seconds.
  25. Household dragon count: 262 and climbing. Yes, thanks for asking, it does include a dragon-head stapler and a dragon-shaped toilet-seat lid.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And Thus Endeth Another Year

SUMMARY: Looking back. And forth.

In 2008, we competed in:
  • 15 USDAA trials, including the world championships
  • 3 CPE trials
  • 2 fun matches

Between the two dogs, I ran 354 runs total:
  • 58 Standard (CPE & USDAA)
  • 39 Gamblers (CPE & USDAA)
  • 40 Snooker (CPE & USDAA)
  • 46 Jumpers (CPE & USDAA)
  • 6 Colors
  • 7 Full House
  • 10 Wildcard
  • 30 Pairs Relay
  • 12 Team Tournaments (5 runs each tournament, not included in previous class counts)
  • 30 Steeplechase (6 of them Round 2s)
  • 26 Grand Prix
  • 2 Strategic Pairs

We earned 113 Qs, resulting in the following titles:
  • Boost - CL3 (Complete Level 3)
  • Boost - CL4-F (Level 4 Fun Games)

  • Boost - Relay Master
  • Tika - Gamblers Champion-bronze
  • Tika - Jumpers Champion-bronze
  • Tika - Agility Dog Champion-bronze
  • Tika - Tournament Master-Gold (missed platinum in the same year by one leg. OK, on to 2009!)
  • Tika - Snooker Champion-Silver
  • Tika - Lifetime Achievement Award-bronze
  • Tika - Relay Champion-Silver

Dogs knocked roughly 150 bars this year--largely contributed by Boost, who often got 3 or 4 per run. So I know what to work on... still... always...

Today, we practiced running through tunnels because it's fun, tires out the dogs, it's something I can do with a runny nose and cough, and I don't have to reset bars. Although I did set up one jump and both dogs left the bar up on every turn and every straight path that I tried between tunnels.

Tonight we're staying home, looking at my Christmas tree lights, maybe having some popcorn (dogs love that part), going to bed early. In just 45 minutes (7 p.m. PST), we'll gain a whole leap second for extra agility practice, so that's a good start to the year. Oops--got it wrong--that was 4:00 PST! Missed the whole event!

On to 2009 and many bars left up! Happy New Year, everyone--

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Friday, December 05, 2008

The Agility Blob That Ate the Universe

SUMMARY: Compare and contrast 1996 to 2008.

(Thanks, awesome Karey K who is at least as fanatical as I am about saving cool but barely useful informational historical artifacts and who compiled the original calendars!)
My first trial was in January 1996. I did 6 trials that year.

I never did, and still don't, do AKC, which are shown here grayed out. I'm not currently driving more than about 2 hours for agility trials (except Scottsdale), so these "local" trials are in bold (including the AKCs) and everything farther away is nonbold. (Carson City is about 4 hours, so a lot of local people go to those trials, too; others are 5-6 hours.)

Compare and contrast to 2008's calendar. Hoooooly moley! (I'm doing only 17 trials this year. Gotta restrain myself somehow--)

Jan 6 - Jan 5/ 6 ElkGrove CPE
Jan 13 -Jan 12/13 (MLK) ElkGrove HauteDawgs NADAC,
San Diego USDAA
Jan 20-Jan 19/20 SantaRosa BorderTerrier AKC,
ElkGrove HauteDawgs CPE
Jan 27 San Martin Bay Team NADACJan 26/27 SantaRosa Bayteam USDAA
Feb 03 -Feb 2/ 3 Turlock VAST USDAA,
SantaRosa AKC,
ElkGrove CPE,
Milpitas DalClub Zink seminar
Feb 10 - Feb 9/10
Feb 17 (pres day) Pomona USDAAFeb 16/17(prez's) ElkGrove NADAC,
Madera NADAC
Feb 24 -Feb 23/24 ElkGrove CPE,
CityOfIndustry WVDS USDAA,
Madera NADAC
Mar 02 -Mar 1/ 2 Dixon MtDiableDTC AKC,
Fillmore ContactPt USDAA,
Madera NADAC
Mar 09 Fresno USDAAMar 8/ 9 Turlock VAST CPE,
?Fresno Sunmaid AKC,
Wilton NADAC
Mar 16 -Mar 15/16 Madera CAT USDAA,
Dixon VallejoDTC AKC,
ElkGrove NADAC,
Mar 23 -Mar 22/23 (easter) Sunnyvale Bayteam CPE,
Dixon SheltieClub AKC,
ElkGrove NADAC
Mar 30 -Mar 29/30 Hollister PASA ASCA,
Wilton NADAC
Apr 06 -Apr 5/ 6 Dixon DDTC AKC,
SantaRosa R2R NADAC
Apr 13 Nancy's agility funmatchApr 12/13 Dixon HautedawgsTRACS 4-day USDAA,
CarsonCity NADAC
Apr 20 -Apr 19/20 ?PP camp,
SantaRosa NADAC,
ElkGrove funmatch,
Apr 27 Santa Rosa NADACApr 26/27 Prunedale SMarT USDAA,
ElkGrove DOCNA
May 04 Davis AKC agilityMay 3/ 4 Sunnyvale Bayteam USDAA,
SantaRosa MensonaKC AKC,
CarsonCity R@R NADAC
May 11 Hayward Chris Zink seminarMay 10/11 CarsonCity QAC USDAA,
ElkGrove CPE
May 18 -May 17/18 ElkGrove CPE,
Hollister SCDTC AKC,
Hollister PASA ASCA,
May 25 (mem day)Dixon NADAC May 24/25 (mem) Dixon TRACS 4-day AKC,
Moorpark Happydog USDAA/mas,
ElkGrove NADAC
Jun 01 dixon terv AKC agility match,
border terrier AKC agility
May 31/ 1 Turlock NAF USDAA/team,
Salinas DelMonte AKC,
Madera CAT CPE
Jun 08 -Jun 7/ 8 PaloAlto TervClub AKC,
Dixon PowerPaws Camp,
CarsonCity R2R NADAC
Jun 15 -Jun 14/15 ScottsValley MBDTC AKC,
ElkGrove NADAC,
Reno AKC
Jun 22 -Jun 21/22 ElkGrove CorgiClub AKC,
CarsonCity ASCA
Jun 29 Hayward Sheltie AKC agility Jun 28/29 Portland CAT USDAA/GP+,
Dixon SheltieClub AKC
Jul 06 -Jul 5/ 6 Sunnyvale Bayteam USDAA/3day
Jul 13 Palo Alto Poodle AKC agility (su)Jul 12/13 Livermore Malamute AKC,
Eureka NADAC
Jul 20 -Jul 19/20 Petaluma Bayteam CPE,
Ferndale LostCoast AKC,
?CityofIndustry WVDS USDAA
Jul 27 Hayward Malmute AKC agility (sa/su),
Jul 26/27 CarsonCuty MDT-AA NADAC
Aug 03 -Aug 2/ 3 Hollister PASA ASCA,
ElkGrove CPE
Aug 10 -Aug 9/10 Petaluma CountyWide AKC,
Aug 17 Ventura West Valley USDAAAug 16/17 Dixon NapaDTC AKC,
Eureka CPE,
Carson City QAC CPE
Aug 24 Davis AKC agility Aug 23/24 Salinas SMarT USDAA
Aug 31 (labor day) Daly City Bay Team USDAAAug 30/31(labor) Prunedale Bayteam USDAA/GP+,
Sep 07 Bolton seminar,
Hayward Springer AKC agility (su)
Sep 6/ 7 Dixon DDTC AKC,
CarsonCity NADAC,
Turlock DeltaAussies ASCA,
Moorpark Happydog USDAA/mas
Sep 14 - Sep 13/14 Turlock VAST USDAA,
SanRaphael SirFrancisDrakeKC AKC,
Sep 21 -Sep 20/21 Woodland TRACS USDAA
Sep 28 Ventura West Valley NADACSep 27/28 Elkgrove WeimClub AKC
Oct 05 Woodside terv AKC agility trialOct 4/ 5 Elkgrove CPE
Oct 12 Xnadac nat'lsOct 11/12 Dixon Haute Dawgs USDAA,
Hollister PASA ASCA
CarsonCity AKC,
Moorpark Happydog USDAA/st/adv
Oct 19 Santa Rosa County-Wide AKC agilityOct 18/19 Madera CAT USDAA,
Pleasanton DelValle AKC,
ElkGrove DOCNA,
CarsonCity R2R NADAC
Oct 26 Fresno UDSAAOct 25/26 Turlock VAST CPE,
Placerville HangtownKC AKC,
Nov 02 carmel bayteam alpaca demo,
Sharon Nelson seminar
Nov 1/ 2 Madera FresnoDTC AKC,
Scottsdale USDAA Natls
Nov 09 Hayward Bay Team NADACNov 8/ 9 SantaRosa Bayteam CPE,
ElkGrove NADAC
Nov 16 Hayward dalmation agility demo (su)Nov 15/16 Turlock NAF USDAA,
SantaRosa GR AKC,
RanchoCucamunga DART USDAA
Nov 23 -Nov 22/23
Nov 30 (turkey day) -Nov 29/30 (turk) RanchoMurieta SheltieClub AKC,
Moorpark Happydog USDAA/mas,
ElkGrove CPE
Dec 07 -Dec 6/ 7 RanchoMurieta SacDTC AKC,
ElkGrove HauteDawgs NADAC
Dec 14 Fresno NADACDec 13/14 SantaRosa Bayteam USDAA/tourney
Dec 21 -Dec 20/21 (xmas)
Dec 28 -Dec 27/28 (newyrs) RanchoMurieta TRACS 4-day AKC

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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, September 16, 2008

How Many Trials?

SUMMARY: Just don't ask how much it all cost.

This last weekend was my 200th trial.
  • 106 USDAA
  • 54 NADAC and/or ASCA
  • 40 CPE

Taken another way:
  • 12 with only Remington (when I first started agility)
  • 66 with Remington and Jake
  • 6 with Remington, Jake, and Tika
  • 1 with Remington and Tika (Jake on injured reserve)
  • 69 with Jake and Tika
  • 11 with only Tika (while Jake was retired from USDAA but not CPE)
  • 1 with Jake, Tika, and Boost
  • 34 with Tika and Boost

Taken another way:
  • 6 in 1996
  • 7 in 1997 (broke foot and was out for months)
  • 10 in 1998
  • 11 in 1999
  • 14 in 2000 (back injury, continuing into the next year)
  • 17 in 2001
  • 18 in 2002 (skipped Nov/Dec with Rem's cancer)
  • 23 in 2003 (we all stayed healthy)
  • 21 in 2004 (I started vowing to cut back)
  • 20 in 2005
  • 18 in 2006 (knee injury/surgery kept me out Oct/Nov/Dec)
  • 19 in 2007
  • 13 so far in 2008, with only 2-3 more planned

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Shouldn't Complain Too Much

SUMMARY: Tika vs Boost as younger dogs.

It's two years after Boost's first trial; she's competed in 33 trials (24 of them USDAA) and has 9 masters legs, 3 Grand Prix Qs, and 1 Steeplechase Q.

Two years after Tika's first trial, she had competed in 44 trials (20 of them USDAA) and had only just completed her AAD, so was in Masters only in Standard, with zero Qs out of 5 attempts, 4 Grand Prix Qs, and 1 Steeplechase Q.

(After Tika's 24th USDAA trial, she had 4 Masters Qs including one Super-Q, 6 GP Qs, and still only 1 Steeplechase.)

Sooooo it'll come eventually. I hope.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Credentials

SUMMARY: Ahem. May I present myself?

I've always wanted to have a page that lists my agility credentials. For what purpose, I don't know, which is, I suppose, why I don't yet have such a page. They're pretty wimpy credentials by Agility Guru standards, but what the hey.

This is a rough pass because I just got tired of looking things up. It's not like i'm trying to figure out which USDAA Nationals or Regionals I placed first in. Hah! Because I didn't! Thank goodness for CPE!

  • Competed with 4 dogs, all different breeds, 3 of them rescues
  • Competed in 200 trials covering 4 venues (USDAA, CPE, ASCA, NADAC)

  • xx different championships or multiple championships on three dogs

  • ADCH with two dogs, one of whom repeated the feat in Performance for his APD, another who has (to date) continued to ADCH-bronze

  • Six USDAA bronze class titles with two dogs, a silver, and a gold

  • C-ATCH with two dogs

  • NATCH with two dogs (one went on to O-NATCH and S-NATCH, with 1380 lifetime points, before I dropped out of NADAC)

  • ASCA ATCH with one dog

  • Qualified for NADAC nationals with 2 dogs every year for (I think) 5 years. Didn't go.

  • Attended USDAA Grand Prix nationals with two qualified dogs in 2000, 2001; one made the semifinal round.

  • Attended USDAA World Championships in 2004 (with 2 qualified dogs most events?), 2005 (with 1 qualified dog all events and one veteran dog), 2006 (with 1 qualified dog all events and one write-in candidate), 2007 (one dog qualified all events?)

  • DAM Team nationals finalist 2006

  • USDAA nationals placements in individual events: 11th DAM Snooker 2005, 12th DAM Gamblers 2006, 10th Power and Speed 2006

  • CPE Nationals 2004, Championship Level 16" Reserve high in trial

  • CPE Nationals 2006, Championship Level 24" High in trial Standard, with 8 of 9 qualifying runs, including five firsts and two seconds

  • Addition: July 25: USDAA Top Ten Performance Jumpers, 2004(?)

  • Qualified for Nationals in Grand Prix many times and DAM TEam several times (jeez, guess I have to figure these things out)

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Who Are You and Why Are You Paying All That Money?

SUMMARY: Who we are and how much money we're paying. (Duh!)

I can thank my Dad again (nonagility parents who've been pretty faithfully slogging through my blog) for today's topic; he responded to my Statistics post:

Okay - Interesting.
* Are there statistics on the handlers?
* How many have serious problems with their lower limbs, from the hips down?
* What are their ages?
* How much would they have to spend, just on entry fees (forget travel and motels, restaurants, etc.) just to get all of the required wins to be a lifetime champion?
* How does the organization get all of those handlers to fork over that much money?

It sounds as though you really, Really, REALLY enjoy the whole thing. Keep it up.

I do enjoy it, or I guess I wouldn't keep at it even on the discouraging days.

Our club has no stats like that on the handlers. We need the dogs' ages because they can't enter until they reach a certain minimum age, but there are no restrictions on handlers' ages. We've seen some VERY young handlers move dogs around the course better than I can. Brats.

Clean Run (the agility magazine) did a demographics survey in 2003 and published a summary of the results in their January 2004 issue: "90%...are female and between 31 and 60 years of age. 40% are between 41 and 50. 80% chance that you live by yourself or with only one other person. 48% chance that you have been competing for more than 4 years. 36% attend 12 or more trials a year." [Wait--their phrasing is unclear... last one might be 52%.]

I've often wondered about the lower limbs thing; if you just sit and watch some of the classes at a USDAA trial, particularly at the Masters level, you'll see an amazing number of knee supports. There are also--somewhere out there in the world--an estimated 50-80 people doing agility from a wheelchair or similar device. Seems like half the people I talk to have had knee surgery of some kind. But is that from agility or is that because of the age demographic or maybe just because the people who do agility have always tended to be very active in sports and maybe it's a lifetime of pounding on the knees? Interesting question.

How much would one have to spend...? Yeah, like I really want to know that answer. When that topic comes up, our universal response is "don't go there." I think we'd all just about turn inside out if we added up everything we've spent doing agility. I have a fairly good idea of how much I spend in a year, because I have a household budget in my computer, but I try not to add up all the pieces (e.g., gas costs go into my "vehicle" budget, stuff like that). Entry fees are a big chunk of it, but I don't know that it's more than 50%. There's all the equipment and/or the lessons or field rentals and traveling to class every week (or twice a week...or three times a week...) and extra seminars and training treats and, well, like that.

I've periodically threatened to add up everything I've spent on agility, but then my heart quavers and I go back to burying my head in the chute (hey, does that work as an analog to "sand"? Maybe?).

It's a lot.

It's not a low-income sport.

We fork over the money because we like doing it. We gripe about it when the sanctioning organization raises its fees, or insists on higher fees for no apparent reason. (For example, why does our club have to charge $20 to enter the Grand Prix when it's exactly the same as a Standard course which we charge only $12 to enter? Because USDAA says so, that's why. Bay Team tried to lower it once--because really, we make quite a bit of money on our regional, at least-- and they said, Uh-uh, you have to charge the higher rate.) There are occasional mostly joking comments about "Ken [the president/owner] has kids to send to college," but in the case of Tournament fees, I don't get it, because USDAA doesn't profit from the excess fees, the club does. I dunno how much Ken really makes in a year from this. I've never seen what kind of house he lives in or what kind of car he drives or where his kids go to college. It's not a public corporation, so the books aren't open.

So how do they convince us to pay it? Well, some people pay to enter bridge tournaments every Tuesday night. Some people pay to go to movies every weekend (wait--I do that, too!). Some people pay to learn how to jump with their horse and compete (like my sister and nieces). Some people pay to play golf. I dunno, it's just something that I do that costs money. Bummer on that score.

But I'm still here, having survived since my first view of agility, up at Power Paws in early Spring 1995, when I went up one evening to see what it was all about, and took in the bright lights, and the beautiful, brightly colored equipment in a rainbow of patterns across the lush green grass, and dogs doing the most amazing things--and off-leash, too! and running full out, too! and everyone having a good time, too!-- that I doubted I could ever get my dog to do but, oh!, wanted so badly to try!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Sad Thing About Dogs

SUMMARY: They're not here long enough.

I am melancholic.

For many years, in particular for agility, it has seemed to me that about 6 years apart in age is a good spacing for Taj MuttHall dogs. In reality, that means that one leaves me on average every six years. This is hard. The worst thing about being involved in dog agility is that now I know so very many more dogs, and so much better, than I ever did before in my "normal" life. Now it's not just my dogs tearing pieces out of my heart when they leave. And so much more frequently than every six years.

My dogs:
  • Jake - Nov 1, 1991-Feb 26, 2007
  • Remington - July 1, 1993-March 8, 2003
  • Sheba - 1980-May 1997
  • Amber - Nov 1, 1978-July 1992
  • Sam, the family dog - 1967(?)- 1980(?)

Other dogs:

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Competing This Weekend and In the Past

SUMMARY: The dogs are looking forward to it, an so am I. Jake always did, too.

First trial since Thanksgiving weekend. Every time I've loaded stuff into the car, the dogs have started dancing around, only to look SOOOO disappointed when I leave without them. Breaks my heart.

Both dogs are in Masters this year, so I can do Bay Team's Masters-only Saturday and then come home. The trial is 2 hours away, so it'll be a long day, but it's under cover, so even if it's still raining, we're good to go. There's one of each of the regular five classes.

Time to remind myself where I am with titles and competing.

Boost: Has two Standard legs and one Snooker leg. In theory, she could get one each of Standard, Jumpers, Gamblers, and Relay and finish her MAD. Frankly, the odds of that are slim to none. I haven't been working on distance stuff with her much at all, AND she's another bar-knocker, AND we still have that refusal problem with jumps. But I'm sure it will be entertaining.

Tika: I would sure like to get that Gambler's leg to finish her Gamblers-Ch Bronze. That 15th leg has proven to be SO difficult to get, don't know why. Of course, I haven't been practicing distance work with her, either, doh! Nothing else is in reach this weekend.

Jake: Well, dang, he's been gone since last February. But a friend pointed out that, with the new rules for Lifetime Achievement Awards now combining Performance and Championship, maybe the little guy could get his LAA Bronze posthumously. So I went back and looked, but no such luck.

He had only 126 masters/p3 legs, counting the Grand Prixs. 52 masters, 12 GPs, 62 Perf's. It seemed like I moved him to performance late in his career, but he had only 4 years in masters and 3 years in Perf, so his "semidachshund semiretirement" went on for a while.

If I had entered him in more than just Jumpers during most of the last year he was competing, maybe he'd have gotten enough. But, no, I entered him in only one class each day at USDAA trials for all of 2005, and then retired him completely from USDAA in 2006. He WANTED to run more, but I was just worried about his arthritis. Just for the record, that's 87 runs that he didn't do in 2005 and 114 runs he didn't do in 2006.

I was NEVER sure that I was doing the right thing for him; he really wanted to run and never really relaxed at a trial until he had been on course at least once, sometimes twice. He did fine jumping at 12" in CPE the whole time, and 16" for a dog who started out jumping 24" didn't really seem like that much. And, furthermore, he never had trouble at 16" while he was doing that. I just didn't want to push it, which was the wise thing to do.

But, oh well--

Historical side note: You know, I think Jake was only in 3 DAM team events ever in his entire 10-year USDAA agility career and never Qed! And only 6 steeplechases, with only 1 Q. Shows how times have changed. Boost's been competing for just over a year, and she's already been in 8 Steeplechases and four DAM events.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Choosing a Dog

SUMMARY: There are so many ways to go about it, and so few of them have anything to do with anything but what feels right.

One fun thing about participating in the dog-agility blogging community is seeing recurring themes that transcend geographical location, breed of dog, general drift of a specific blog site, and so on.

Such as: Choosing your next dog. Here are some recent discussions on this topic in other dog-agility blogs:

Here's how I've chosen my dogs:
  • Amber: One night, coming home from the swing shift, I caught a prowler looking in my apartment window. It terrified me. The next morning, co-workers announced that their German Shepherd and their Golden Retriever were pregnant and they'd have puppies in a few weeks. Those were 2 of the breeds I thought I might want some day (Collie being the other). (Ah! Research!) I'd never heard of puppy testing. Puppies were just something that you picked one of and took home. So I did. Of the litter, four were black, but two were the same beautiful blonde as my family's mixed-breed dog, and I picked one for my own. I no longer remember how I chose one over the other; I did agonize for a while over whether to take BOTH.
  • Sheba the Wonder-Husky: When I got married, I figured that my spouse needed a dog of his own. He thought Siberian Huskies were beautiful. I read a little about them in my dog books and agreed that they were beautiful. (Ah! Research!) So I haunted the humane society for several weeks, rejecting a variety of Siberians for a variety of reasons (should I have been suspicious that there were so many stray huskies?). Then I found one with a sign on her run saying something like "Lone Star is a sweet, wonderful, delightful dog. We have already held her two weeks past her euthanasia date because she really needs to go home with someone. Please help." (I have no idea where she'd been hiding during my previous trips.) She did indeed seem to be the sweetest, gentlest, calmest, most beautiful dog in the universe. My new spouse agreed, we took her home, and renamed her Sheba.
  • Remington the Squirrelhund: Two years after Amber died, I had decided that I finally was ready for another dog. But now, 15 years after her birth, I knew a lot more about dogs. I did a lot of reading. We went to dog shows and talked to the breeders and owners of several breeds that we were interested in. I narrowed it down to probably Australian Shepherd or Border Collie (mind you, this was before I had ever heard of dog agility). Then, one day, we went to a pet store to buy food on sale, and NARF was having an adoption fair for their rescues, and I found Remington, and he looked just like Amber, and he went home with us right then. (Ah! Research!)
  • Jake the SemiDachshund: He had belonged to a fellow club member who was also my obedience instructor, and Remington and Jake had been on a team together at a USDAA trial. For some reason I really liked him. (Ah! Research!) When he became available for adoption (this story is quite shortened for this post), our husky was barely on her dying legs and my spouse didn't want three dogs and felt it wasn't fair to an old, ailing dog to have a new dog in the house. I kept stalling Jake's current foster home and, finally, the inevitable happened and our 17-year-old husky died. Jake came home with me the following week.
  • Tika: Remington was getting old. Jake was getting older. It was time to start looking for another dog to start training as my next agility dog. Rem was never big on tug of war or fetch, and I knew that I wanted a dog who liked those things. I wanted one with drive and intelligence for agility. I wanted one who would snuggle. I had recently divorced and was living in a rental. An agility acquaintance was fostering a beautiful Kelpie mix that I would have taken home with me, but the landlord was an idiot and I didn't want to risk anything by bringing in a third dog. But, with this discussion, the acquaintance became a friend and she kept me in mind as she got other foster dogs. She showed me two or three other dogs over the next few months, which I rejected. Shortly after I moved into my own home, she introduced me to Tika, who loved to tug, would stop immediately to snuggle, was a gorgeous blue merle (which I've wanted since I was a kid), an Australian Shepherd-type dog (see research before Remington came home), and yet different enough from standard Aussies to appeal to me (I liked the shorter-haired, longer-legged ones). I think it was the blue merle as much as anything that kept drawing me to her, because she barked barked barked barked BARKED, at anything and everything. Well--the friend made progress on that, and a couple of months after I first saw her, I finally decided to bring her home on a trial basis. She never left.
  • Boost: OK, REALLY long story. Read it here.

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