Friday, February 19, 2010

Life Outside the Agility Lane

SUMMARY: Walking, photos, funeral--

I've started a standing date [well--I guess a standing walking date] with a friend to go for a bit of a walk-hike Friday mornings to make sure I get out and move. The dogs go with us. These are for our own exercise, so we haven't been taking our nice cameras with us. Today we walked along the Los Alamitos Creek Trail--another one of our urban trails that meanders in a more-or-less natural setting alongside a creek, with houses and businesses lurking unobtrusively on either side.

It was a fantastic section of trail, and only about 5 minutes from my house. Wildflowers are starting to come out everywhere; birdhouses of various sizes are placed strategically all among the trees. We saw tons of birds of many varieties, up to a great blue heron soaring past. Talked for a bit with a photographer with his tripod set-up, poised to snap woodpecker photos, and we had a nice chat about birds and nature and all that. I am going to have to go back with my camera. In my copious spare time. Since I don't take nearly enough photos already. [Riiiiight--]

I missed my 52 weeks for dogs photo last week. Today, with help of aforementioned friend, I went into the yard with Tika and the camera specifically to get this shot:

This was about the middle shot of 30 I took from different angles while the friend baited Tika's attention with treats. I rather like this. BUT a little bit earlier, I was able to snap a whole bunch of "ready" photos of Tika while the renter baited her attention with her Jolly Ball, and I decided that it would be more likely that I could reproduce the ear photo at some later date than the nice ready pose. [Rule is that the photo must be taken & posted in the same week.]

Good thing we got in some photos and exercise today (also did some agility late this afternoon) because tomorrow I'll be gone likely all day to John Nunes' funeral. I expect to see quite a few other agility folks there, but he also has a huge extended family that I've never met, and from all accounts they're all as wonderful as he is. Was. Argh.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

And Another Day Bites the Dust

SUMMARY: Rainbows, shopping, cameras, walkies, parks, bad lyrics--

Don't you love finding that your magical rainbow is just beyond your kitchen door? Do you dare open the door to look for your pot of gold?

Don't you love going for a long walk through the park and both your dogs put up with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old giving them attention?

Don't you love talking to adults wherever you go and explaining what "blue merle" is and that yes Boost is an actual Border Collie?

Don't you love trying to find a word that rhymes with "leashie" so you can post the lyrics to another badly abused song? As in (think Yankee Doodle for this one):
Boostie doggie used her teeth to pull upon her leashie,
Glad we're in the U.S.A 'cause that won't wash in Vichy.
Don't you love wondering about little idioms and wondering how nonnative speakers of English will ever figure them out? "That won't wash--" "That won't float--" "That won't fly--" "That won't go--" ?

Don't you decide to completely rearrange the lyrics to find something that's easier to rhyme with?
Boostie grabbed and tugged her leash while going on a walkie--
...mumble... walkie...bawkie..cawkie...dawkie...fawkie...gawky (maybe)--...hawkie...jawkie (jockey? sort of)...  mumble...

Don't you like taking your little crappy point and shoot and the dogs up to the 4th floor of the local shopping center and taking photos of the sunset in combination with various man-made shopping center attractions?

Don't you love finding a friend for your dogs at the shopping center? Do you suppose he does agility?

This cute skinny little guy looks very agile and like he wants go go home with you!

Don't you love posting the rest of your photos from your shopping center trip on your regular photo site, with captions?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Autumn confidence

SUMMARY: In which something about my true nature is revealed.

Sometimes I practice exuding confidence as I'm walking. Usually it's when I'm by myself, when I'm not likely to encounter anyone else I really know. At the mall. In another city. Walking around an unfamiliar neighborhood. And without the dogs, who are a major distraction from exuding anything except "stop pulling, dangit!"

It's early autumn in California. Leaves are just donning their autumn colors and have barely begun falling, but enough have dropped that, sometimes, when you walk along, they crunch beneath your feet. The air is cool, clear, and crisp, just the sort of air that makes you think that anything is possible.

As I take a stroll, I put my shoulders back, raise my chin slightly. I imagine that I am supremely confident in my ability to handle anything physical or mental that comes my way. I imagine that I am physically stronger and more agile and better trained than anyone I am likely to encounter. I imagine that I am the unbeatable world champion in dog agility, fencing, sprinting, chess, aikido-- I imagine that I am keenly and hypersensitively aware of everything going on around me, before me, behind me, in line of sight in all directions.

This is not just your average supreme confidence. This is confidence at a mythic level. I might look like everyone else walking down the street, but I am so much more. Indeed, I am Bruce Wayne. I am Strider. I am Bourne. I am Corwin.

Hear me, demons and wizards and serpents of sin! I am here, and I am invincible!

And then I realize, as I'm Strider/Bourne/Wayne/Corwinning down the sidewalk, that I am unconsciously--but with great precision and determination--adjusting my stride to step on every crunchy leaf within my path.

Perhaps I'll practice my supreme confidence on a less autumnal day, so that today I can dispatch all those crunchy leaves threatening the very fabric of humanity.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hot and Stuff

SUMMARY: Heat, hammers, walkies, training.

I've carried a hammer in my car since forever. Comes in handy at every agility trial for pounding in canopy stakes and pulling them out afterward. After our June CPE trial, my hammer vanished. Looked everywhere I could think of. I'm half convinced that, someday, I'll open some box or bag or whatever and there it'll be, tucked absent-mindedly away for transport back to the van from where I was set up. Meanwhile--gots no hammer in MUTT MVR.

Dropped in to Orchard Supply & Hardware today to pick up another one. I mean, how much could a hammer cost, anyway. Twenty bucks! For a basic, reasonably heavy, wood-handled claw hammer! Sheesh! Bought it anyway.

It's been hot again, up in the high 90s (32C+) & low 100s (38+). No A/C in this house. Last couple of nights it hasn't cooled down overnight; tonight it's doing better. At 6 this evening, I got up to go out to the yard with the dogs; Tika would have none of it. Did she want to stay inside? No! She wanted to go for a walk! Straight out to the front hall, eager, prancing, bright-eyed. Wouldn't come out to the yard, wanted a Walk. So we went for about a 2-mile walk. It was danged still hot, and humid, too (not compared to some places in this country, but still--), and I was very hot when we got home.

Have been working on some of the jumping drills for Boost and, what the heck, Tika, too. They're both doing very well.

USDAA trial this weekend, and Tika has to jump 26" in just the Jumpers class. Only 2 more Jumpers legs to ADCH-Silver. Everything else at 22" performance.

Hope it's cooler this weekend! Site is closer to the ocean, so often is cooler than here in the summer-miserable San Jose desert.

Time to go to bed and practice sweating all over the sheets. Ta.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Training. But Walking.

SUMMARY: Busy but active.

Have been too busy with work (and other important things, like photos) to have the energy to do some actual dog training. Need to get back to the bar-knocking work, as there's a 3-day USDAA trial coming up 4th of July weekend.

However, I've tried to be sure that I get out with the dogs for at least a mile-long stroll every day (except the day after last weekend's trial, when my knee was painful and slightly swollen. Lots of ice ensued).

Yesterday I walked with and without the dogs. Took MUTT MVR in for an oil change. While they're doing their dirty work, the dogs and I walk. We got in a mile and a half before it looked like they were almost done, then we sat in the waiting room and--well, what else do you do in the waiting room?

They have magazines for people who want to sit there for half an hour burning NO calories and getting NO exercise when it's a perfectly lovely day out and there are sidewalks in every direction. Danged lazy Americans!

Knee felt fine, so I left the dogs home (many trails in our area do not allow even leashed dogs) and hiked up Black Mountain with the Wednesday Sierra Club group. Five miles or so, several hundred feet up. Small group this time, not sure why.

But it was OK to have a small group and no dogs because we saw wildlife everywhere, enjoying the evening. Saw several deer, including mom and fawn. Little lizards skittering everywhere across our path. California quail. Quite a few jackrabbits (two in this photo--one taking off down the left branch of the road, one dark sitting near the junction).

It was perfect weather, and sunset time always produces such glorious light. Watched fingers of fog from the Pacific slowly grasp the coastal mountains.

Saw Lick Observatory shining brightly on Mount Hamilton across the very hazy Santa Clara valley. (Might have to click photo to see the larger version.)

Knee did just fine; still fine today. Class tonight. Back to work.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Early Start on a Hot Day

SUMMARY: Another 4-mile walk at dawn with dogs and camera.

Today's forecast is for temperatures approaching 100F (38C). Hot. Missed out on most of our exercise yesterday because of the heat. So this morning, starting at 5:30 (temp 68F/20C), the dogs and I took a brisk 4-mile stroll through the neighborhood. With point-and-shoot camera. It was gorgeous--perfect hiking temperature, and although there were no cloudy bits to make for a truly spectacular sunrise, that wonderful morning golden glow suffused everything.

Our 3.5-mile (5.6 km) walk took just under an hour and a half, with frequent stops for photo snapping (mostly me), shrub sniffing (mostly not me), and reminders about not pulling on the leash (community effort). For some unfathomable reason I never thought to take photos of my merle girls this morning. But this well-behaved dog earned a photo.

And, so that you don't feel merle-girl deprived, here are some gratuitous, previously unpublished shots from a trip to the park back in March.

I brought up Boost to consider her leash to be a fun toy. This enables me to always have a toy with us to use as a reward. At this park, the dogs are usually off leash, but we were approaching some small dogs on leash, so I put Tika on leash as well. The only one more surprised than me was Tika, when Boost grabbed Tika's leash out of my hand and started hauling her around the field. Go ahead, Tika, pull on the dang leash NOW!

Now--if you want to see the full 19 shots from this morning's hike, in larger format (you can even display as a slide show), with descriptions, go here.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Walkin' In the Rain, We're Happy Again

SUMMARY: Entertainments after 6 consecutive rainy days.

We are agility dogs not doing agility because it is raining. We've walked backwards up the stairs. We've circled left and right til our eyes pop out. We've practiced balancing on, and rolling, the giant exercise ball. We've chased Mr. Monkey tossed into the dining room twenty thousand times. What we really want is to go OUT OUT OUT! We don't care if it's raining! We're big active dogs with thick, thick fur, fur cryin' out loud!

Human dog-mom is doubtful, as the incoming skywater remains constantly downward-coming. But, Holy Sennenhund, is that a patch of blue sky gathering on the horizon?

We are so excited! Mom has leashed us up and we are bouncing off the walls in the front hallway! We are throwing ourselves down the front steps! We are going for a WAAAALLLLK!

Mom is not taking a toy with her, the fool, so when we get to the big soggy green park thing, she has to throw the leash for Boost to chase so that Tika will chase Boost. We are sooooo happy. Even human dog-mom is smiling a bit--even though it's STILL raining--because now maybe we won't crawl all over her while she's sitting at her desk. For a little while.

It may be true that some of us are a little damp.

And we might need to be hosed down and dried with dozens of towels because some of us have coats that are like 26"-jumping sponges. But our human dog-mom thinks that cleanliness is next to dogliness, so yes, we will do the hose.

And what does the well-dressed agilitiphile wear for a stroll with cabin-fever-crazed dogs in the rain? The waterproof Bay Team logo jacket--which goes well with ANY jeans--and the favorite agility Pluto Unleashed hat, of course! Because the rain must be kept off of the glasses so that one can detect whether an Aframe has sprung up suddenly in the field. Tika, however, demonstrates why dogs don't need no stinkin' jackets.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Long Portland Walk in the Poo Capital

SUMMARY: Hybrids everywhere. Of course that's what I meant.

Here's my friend and her dogs, Beppé the Maltipoo (Maltese/Poodle) and Rio the Standard Poo(dle).

They actually have a little off-leash grassy area, right near downtown! How non-Californian is that! Rio seemed pleased.

We walked for a lovely 3 miles--and then back again--along the Willamette.

We saw a lot of dogs on our walk. Didn't identify all of them--a Boxer, a probably Shepherd mix, maybe a MinPin. But there seemed to be an inordinate number of nonshedding type Poo dogs--besides Rio the PooDle and Beppe the Maltipoo, we met this GoldenDoodle:

And a Labradoodle (whom I did not photograph) and saw half a dozen other dogs of various sizes who might have been Poo(Dles) or FillInYourFavoriteBreedPoo mixes. I don't think I see this many Poodles or hybrids in our area. Portland seems to be a hotbed. At least along the riverfront on a crisp, cold, sunny winter day.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


SUMMARY: Thoughts on the long walk last night with the dogs.

Backfill: Posted Jan 28; for some reason this got saved but not posted on its original date!
I met up with my usual Wednesday Night Sierra Club group for a long walk through the pathways in the neighborhoods near Stanford. The walk's description said it was about 5 miles; my pedometer said 7.4.

This is funny, because the last hike I went on (lots of steep up & down the Saturday after xmas), the leader's GPS said it was 8 miles and my pedometer said 7.4. Really, I do reset it between walks!

Took Tika and Boost with me. They wanted to be out in front of the crowd, but I didn't, so we had the battle of the leash pulling the whole time. Tika wore her newish anti-pull harness for about 2/3 of the walk, and it worked very well at keeping her from pulling. But by then, she had slowed considerably and walked gingerly beside me, and I figured that she doesn't usually wear the harness that long and it might be hurting her. So I took it off, and she perked right up; joined Boost in the leash-pulling battle.

Felt good to be out and moving briskly. But managing my dogs made it tough to actually chat with anyone. One of the dogs was bound, sooner or later, to veer directly in front of the other person, even if I had them on very short leads.

One of the other walkers commented, "Your dogs'll sleep well tonight after this long walk!"

I laughed. I pointed out that they'd have half an hour in the car to rest up while I was driving home, and would want to play and RUN when we got home, and that's exactly what happened. They seemed amused by the idea of dogs who didn't mostly lie on the couch and sleep. We know that they don't have herding dogs!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Agility Dogs Run Errands

SUMMARY: Visiting the credit union and the grocery store.

Holy Dachsbracke, boys and girls, it's Jan 8 already! We have a USDAA trial in just 2 weeks! And what have we done for agility practice to shape up all those Issues from last year? Have we done our bar-knocking drills? Reinvigorated our 2o2o contacts? Tuned up our serpentines? Honed our gamblers distance work? No no no!

I have been doing this Miserable Cold thing for a week and a half now, going up and down, now on the uphill I think--I hope--cough's still hanging in there, but mostly I can work around that. So we haven't had class since Dec 18; we'll have class tonight if it doesn't rain (iffy), and class next week, and then I'm out of town the entire 7 days before the trial, so there will be NO NO NO agility practice the entire week!

The trial is only 1 day, 5 Masters classes; should be interesting to see whether we can do ANYthing.

So, today, to get in the right mind-set for agility, we went to the shopping center. First, we dropped in on the credit union to deposit some money so that our entry fee check doesn't bounce. The shopping center's decor, intriguingly, includes a vinyard that wraps around the buildings, right next to the sidewalk on a busy street.

Actual California grapes grow there. I don't know what happens to them; apparently not all of them get picked even though they're right next to a busy thoroughfare. Here is what dried grapes look like on a winter grapevine. I know you wanted to know.

If I did not have easily bored dogs who need a change of scenery, I would never get a chance to walk around shopping centers and discover fascinating things like that! But fortunately my agility dogs take their inquisitive noses and me on brisk walks around the perimeters. Some of these centers are quite large. And there is SO much to analyze, out there in the natural wonderland that is shopping center landscaping.

Native grasses.

Groundcover all a-flower (love winter in California!)

Shrubberies surrounded by "winter color"--pansies, cyclamen, little--uh--purple flowers--

Pizza boxes (love winter in California!).

Ah, yes, it's the 8th of January, and this is what's springing to life at our very own shopping center:

Then the agility dogs give me a shopping list for the grocery store. Do I ever complain about having trouble maintaining my girlish figure? It is the shopping lists that the agility dogs write up for me. It is my theory that they are trying to ensure that I always have a desperate need to be physically active with them, and that's why these sorts of things end up in my kitchen.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Waiting For The Call

SUMMARY: While Tika's at the vet, we have to do something to keep our mind off it.

I get scared about my dogs going under anesthesia. Especially when we don't know 100% what the problem is. I've talked myself into being reasonably calm while a teeeeny wee voice in the back of my head is screeching "panic! panic!" It didn't help that Boost was up about every hour from 9:30 until 3:30 with diarrhea. Seems OK this morning; no obvious cause.

Funny, got email this morning from a friend whose agility dog was under anesthesia YESTERDAY to have the same tooth removed for the same reason (but no swelling in their case). The tooth is a "carnasial tooth"--the largest upper premolar closest to the molars. I've heard twice today that that's the most commonly broken tooth in dogs and that it is commonly removed due to such damage.

(Image from this site.)

Still, as I emailed another friend this morning: After Remington, every little thing now makes me think "cancer!" and then I find myself thinking, "why doesn't everyone just get cancer and die and then I don't have to worry about it any more!" and then I could just kick myself and this morning I was hugging Tika and bawling about I didn't mean it don't leave me, that sort of pathetic thing. She thought I was a little over the top and didn't want to have anything to do with it.

I'm fine now.


Just waiting for the vet to call.

So Boost and I went for a long, not-too-leisurely stroll along the Guadalupe River. She whuffed briefly at another dog, but by George, I was able to stop and actually chat with another dog owner--something that I cannot do with Tika along and it's so discouraging.
My vet's pyracantha shrub. Those little tulip ears--surely it's a border collie?!
Big white bird thing (my mother would be ashamed of me) standing in the Guadalupe. Even swollen with the recent rains, it's not much of a river any more. But it is dammed in a couple of places. The one we walked past shortly thereafter (maybe 20 feet high?) has a salmon ladder.
Workers need to keep the blackberries cut back to allow flow and prevent flooding. It's a nice urban stroll along here.
So pretty, so calming. Such a nice morning (but cold--my earlobes were developing icicles as I jogged). Maybe we'll actually have class tonight.
--Or maybe not. (Back to the real world, waiting for the light rail to cross.)

And of course, where would we be without Mr. Chia Head, who has had a hair-raising experience!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just Some Photos

SUMMARY: Have camera, will shoot.
Jake returns from a fetch with his Tug'N'Treat. This is two days in a row he asked to play. But this morning we went for a walk first, which was ALWAYS how we did it all the years I've had him until the knee really acted up last year, so the walks dribbled away. So now, all is right with the world and it's fitting a proper to Fetch.
Usually, however, Tika has abandoned her own toy for the joy of proving that she can always get to Jake's toy before he does (then either scooping it up and carrying it 5 to 10 feet then dropping, or simply barking twice, "Beat you!"). In this case, Jake almost always returns with an escort tender as seen here. Boost would never get away with any of this with Jake.
Boost's idea of playing fetch while Jake and/or Tika go after their toys: Doing an outrun full speed across the yard to be ahead of them as I start to throw the toy, then racing back to me to watch them fixedly in the likely chance that either of them will move rapidly again. I'm realizing that this is probably why she never wanted to go around front of the goats in her herding test--she was expecting them to take off full speed after a tennis ball.
Meanwhile--It's a pencil eraser! It's a shoe polisher! These nifty slip-on shoes that have become so popular are wonderful for me. I can pull them on and off in an instant to, say, wash off mud, they're comfortable, I can do moderate agility in the yard or yard work in them. I knew that my first pair, these ash-gray ones, had become gradually more soiled and discolored ("ash gray," she says? Hmmm--), but I didn't realize how much so until I just bought a second pair (not shown). Then I went looking for ways to clean suede shoes. Found this on, used a large pencil eraser (the pointed kind that you push on the end) for about 15 minutes on one of these--what a difference!
Here's a funny lemon from my tree next to a regular (but smallish) one like all the others on my tree. Have been told it's a worm of some kind. There's actually a type of citrus that does this all the time but even more so, the Buddha's hand citron. What's really funny, though, is how my camera interpreted the bright yellow against my greenish teal dogwalk. Bright blue?!

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