Thursday, December 31, 2009

You know you're a dog person when....

you get up around 5 a.m. on New Year's Day to go to an Agility Trial. That's where Dax and I will be - along with a few hundred of our nearest and dearest. It's the first day of a three-day trial and one that's relatively close to home.
We're expecting to have a wonderful time - we always do at dog shows of any kind. It would also be very, very nice if Dax and I qualified. We're getting better all the time and it's wonderful to see progress. I'd really also like to see ribbons! (Green ribbons are awarded to all qualifiers at AKC trials.)
So I'll be fast asleep when the new year and decade roll in. My wish for all of us: health, happiness, prosperity and peace. Happy 2010!
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

French Bulldogs can dance!

This is our internet friend Judy and her French Bulldog Jubilee!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bad timing

I have really bad timing. Or maybe it's just lousy coordination. I swear I really can walk and chew gum at the same time - but you'd never believe it watching me trying to learn a new skill in agility.
Yesterday was Dax's and my first lesson in our new space ( with our instructor Dee - possibly the most patient teacher and best agility coach on the face of the earth. (She also has the #1 and #3 Airedale in the country! ) Our objective is to build a better working relationship between Dax and me - so that Dax knows what's expected of her, how to do it, and to do it at "squirrel-chasing speed."
One of the exercises we worked on was simple. I sit in a chair about 10 feet back from one set of 2x2 weave poles. As Dax goes through them, I click my clicker and toss a treat so the reward (cheese) is in line with where the rest of the weave poles will be when we add them.
Darned if I could click and throw simultaneously. Or throw straight. Or click when Dax was actually moving. Dee very gently pointed out that I was rewarding my dog for stopping instead of moving.
So today - I sat in the chair and practised throwing and clicking. Without Dax. Some days I practise agility with my dog. And some days, without her. Because practise makes perfect. And to mix many metaphors - someday I'm hoping to get to Carnegie Hall.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Support your local animal shelter

Last night a group of volunteers from C.A.R.E. (Community Animal Rescue Effort) and a few dogs from the Evanston Animal Shelter came to train at our Dogs in the Ring. We donate the ring a few hours a month for that training. It's not a big deal - just an hour or two a couple of times a month. But it could make a big difference to those dogs. If a dog behaves well, not jumping at your face, and walks nicely on a leash, it could make that dog more adoptable. It could help that dog get her forever home more quickly. Or if that training gives a shy dog more confidence, maybe he'll stand out and find a great home.

The C.A.R.E. volunteers spend a whole lot more than a few hours a month working for the good of those dogs. I'm sure that's the case at all the animal shelters across the country. Let's support those volunteers, the shelters they work for, and the dogs (and other animals) they work with. Remember your local animal shelter with a year-end donation. (It's tax-deductible, you know!) - Fran
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The end of an era

I woke up crying this morning. Yesterday we said goodbye to our dear friend Betsy's Border Terrier MacDuff. He was a superstar, Golly's best dog friend, a wonderful companion, an agility champion four times over, sometimes a grump, and we loved him dearly. Life has, once again, changed forever for all of us. Both of these cherished dogs are gone, within two and a half months of each other. They were born the same day and both brought great joy into our lives. We were blessed to have shared our lives with them.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Typical Chicago Weather

The last couple of days have reminded us that winter comes quickly here. Today it's warming up to 20 degrees! Remember, winter is still 10 days away. And Dax hates wearing her coat. As cute as she is in her little parka (Chillybuddy Winter Jacket), and no matter how cold it is, Dax will try everything she can to scrape it off! Silly girl.
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hounds for the Holidays

Dax and I are back from our Milwaukee adventure! Our first stay-over agility trial, 4 days of hurry-up-and-wait, barking, snacking, running, shivering, laughing, watching, cheering, general mayhem and fun with a few hundred other people who love dog sports as much as we do.
The best part, for me, was spending time with the people we train with, getting to know them better, building friendships with a foundation of shared joy and frustration. People who know exactly what you're going through and sympathize (and tease).
Dax and I didn't qualify in any of our runs, but there was a lot to like in most of her performances. There were also moments of silliness, embarassment and stress. We had a great time. See Dax here:
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Dax and Hope play Agility!

Hope and Dax are at an Agility Trial in Milwaukee this weekend. Here Dax and Hope are - getting ready for their run. Dax looks ready for the treat, anyway! - Fran

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Roc knows how to shop!

Hope is in Milwaukee for a 4-day Agility Trial this week, so I brought Ceilidh and Roc to the shop with me. Roc has been shopping for toys, and then Ceilidh steals them from him! And all that work just tuckered them out!


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Friday, November 27, 2009

Small dogs and a bad back don't mix

For the last couple of weeks I've been experiencing something I never had the misfortune to in all my 50+ years - back pain. (I would have been really happy to never feel it, either.) You have to understand that before this back pain started I'd been able to bend at the hips and put my palms on the floor without even thinking about it. Do you know how far down our dogs are? Man, they're really low. Hope's Roc is the teeniest but at least when he wants to come up he stands on his hind legs. Even to give them treats it's really far down! And to give Ceilidh her pill? Interesting...

Thankfully it's getting better now - I can drive myself. (Earlier this week I couldn't lift my right leg more than a couple of inches off the floor.) And I thank my sister and friend Betsy for chauffering me to the doctor, pharmacy and work! But those dogs are still way down there! - Fran
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love, love, love Thanksgiving! It's the only holiday where our only obligation is to eat, drink and be merry - hopefully with the people and animals we love.
We've eliminated the stress from the holiday - we admitted years ago that while we're wonderful bakers, stuffing-makers, and bartenders, we can't roast a bird properly if our lives depended on it. And we don't have to - we'll be picking up our fully-cooked, deliciously moist and tender bird from the grocery store tomorrow morning. And be home in time to watch the end of the parade. Hope you enjoy as much as I intend to!
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Friday, November 20, 2009

We share Roc now

Roc has become my buddy! Since Roc's retirement he's home all the time now. And since I decided that there's no point in torturing either Ceilidh or myself with class - new people, new dogs, new stuff to do - I'm home most of the time. So Roc has taken residence on my lap when Hope's not home (and I'm sitting down). Until he sees a commercial that he's particularly fond of. Then he launches himself off the chair, tail up, eyes alight, and starts yapping (usually in mid-air). When the commercial is over (or I tell him to knock it off), he wiggles his butt at me and wants back up. Which I'm happy to do. What a guy. Sometimes he wants to be on my lap even when Hope's home! I'm thinking it's because he can see the TV better from there. - Fran
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Dax earned her first title!

Dax (and I) earned her very first Agility title this weekend at the WAG Trial in Spring Grove! Thank you to judge Kathy Humphreys - we had a ball!
We qualified in Novice A Standard.
Dax's registered name is now: Gargoyles What A Trill, NA

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Friday, November 13, 2009

On the verge...

Did you ever get the feeling that something is going to happen soon? Don't know what... Don't know when... I have that feeling. Even though my back is killing me (sciatica), Golly's still gone (damn!) and I'm missing Dolphin Research Center's Founders' Weekend for the first time (boo hoo) I feel like something good is iminent! I sure hope that's true. Stay tuned! - Fran
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dogs Playing at Golly Gear

Our friend Emily brought her adorable Keeshonds, Lydia and Whyit, to work (OK, maybe play) in our ring today. Too much fun! Lydia loves to bark while she works and little Whyit is just plain cute! We love it when our dogs have fun, and Emily's dogs definitely have fun! - Fran
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Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

'tis the season

Our dogs have started huddling in a pile next to the heating vent. The vet tells us that it's not good for their fur - it dries them out. But they're so cute! Roc's using Dax as a pillow more now - he's finally figured out that she's useful for something!
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wet Dogs...

OK, not to belabor the fact, but it's been raining almost the entire month of October. We're all wondering if we should start building an Ark. Ceilidh is even starting to get used to it, and will go out without too much prodding when it's time. Dax is starting to like getting towelled off when she comes back inside. Roc still doesn't care. What a guy! I've given up on trying to clean up the muddy paw prints. People are even coming prepared for the mud-paws: the nice couple who brought their Shih Tzu to use our ring at Dogs in the Ring this afternoon brought their own towel! Not necessary - we provide the amenities, but thoughtful nonetheless! I know - it's not snow, but I'll still be glad to see the sun again. - Fran
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

We had a visitor!

Fran spotted this gorgeous creature sitting on the phone wires in back of the house as she left for work. She came back to let me know about him/her and I grabbed the camera. The day is obviously overcast and gloomy - but spotting this beautiful bird cheered us up. We don't see many birds of prey - we're part of the (sub)urban jungle. Can anybody tell us who our visitor was?
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Dogs and Rain!

So after the beautiful pictures Hope took the other day, we've had lots and lots of rain. No rainbows. It's interesting how the dogs view rainy days differently. Ceilidh hates the rain. Just hates it. She'll go two feet outside the door, squat and run inside - but ONLY if she's desperate. She can hold for hours. And so can Dax, for that matter. Roc just doesn't care. Heat, rain, snow, wind, sleet - he just doesn't care. What a guy! Late yesterday afternoon I carried Dax out in the rain, and Roc went out too, brought them back in and rubbed them damp (dry's pretty much out of the question these days). Roc and Dax were inspired to chase each other around the house. So cute! That got them dry! - Fran
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Saturday, October 17, 2009


We don't have the greatest view from our front door at the shop - we look at a school bus parking lot. But it was still pretty spectacular this morning - an entire rainbow (the middle didn't come out in the pictures). Too bad I don't have time to look for that pot of gold this morning.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Back to Business!

Thank you, everyone, for your support. I still miss Golly like crazy, and probably will for a good, long time. But now I can think about the fun times and not tear up quite as much.

We've started getting in some of our new products from the trade show we attended a couple of weeks ago, so it's been dizzy busy around here! Hope's been taking pictures and I'm trying to get new products up on the site as quickly as I can. Which is not very, I'm afraid. Every page has to be as great as I can make it. We've been lucky enough to have customers coming in so that we can corral them to use as models! (the dogs, not the people) Usually, of course, this occurs just after I've published the product page, so it has to be redesigned. It's worth it, though! Little Miko the Shih Tzu is adorable in the Pink All-Weather Coat! And Frankie and his baby brother are adorable - Winston is on the Easy-Go Harness page. And just wait 'til you see Frankie and little Ghilley in the ComfortFlex Sport Harness. I took a break from that page to post this entry!

Back to it! - Fran
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Internetworking doesn't always work

Last night at Obedience Class I realized how intertwined my work life and "real" life have become. I know I'm lucky - we have our own business, have structured our lives to be comfortable and happy, and pretty much avoid most of the unpleasantries of life.
Having a mostly-internet business in which my job (aside from janitor, jack-of-all fix-it stuff, packer, picker etc.) is marketing, which means I spend a lot of time networking online - e-mailing, twittering, facebooking, etc.
Consequently, I thought everybody knew we lost Golly. I forgot there are still some people who prefer not to have a cyber-life. I kind of blind-sided our friend Janie last night. Janie is one of the few people in the history of the world to get an obedience title on a Saluki. She handled Reggie to his UD (a really big deal for Obedience people) and is training for his UDX (an even bigger, amazing deal). She also has a pet-sitting business and watches Dax and Ceilidh for us when we go out of town.
Janie was saying "hi" to Dax as we chatted in the hall outside the training ring. I've been keeping a careful eye on Dax - I won't allow her to continue her snarkiness toward other dogs. Janie noticed I wasn't letting Dax near other dogs until I judged her reaction (she was absolutely fine with her buddy Reggie). So I explained to Janie "She's been a bit unsettled with other dogs since Golly died."
Janie didn't know. I felt terrible for shocking her like that. Another reminder that the internet is great - but it's no substitute for a phone call.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Stop Wallowing!

I know I'm entitled to cry. I'm allowed to take my time through the grieving process. And I still miss Golly like crazy. How can I not, when for 13 years I had to walk carefully to make sure I didn't step on that little black form by my feet? But I'm tired of being depressed. I'm tired of having a headache. And I've got to stop crying - my contact lenses will build up an impenetrable protein barrier if I don't. And all of our friends have been so incredibly supportive - thank you! So I'm going to stop wallowing in my depression and grief! I'm going to try to turn my energies to more productive projects. I have been enjoying all the dogs (and their people) who've come to play at our ring! - Fran
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Last night I found out how Golly's death has effected Dax. It was the first time we'd been back to Obedience class and Dax seemed happy to go. She was decidedly not happy about seeing other dogs before class and snarked at several, lunged at two and actually connected with one. I'm going to have to keep a very close eye on this girl - she needs to know that I'm in charge and I'm not going to tolerate that behavior. On the positive side - enforcing a "Down! Stay!" at each little incident vastly improved her performance on those exercises in class.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A new normal

Life will never be the same again. Our lives change irrevocably when a member of the household is gone. I don't mean that we'll never be happy again, or that nobody smiles at our house, or that our family is doomed to perennial gloom. We are grieving now, but won't be forever. We're all trying to adjust to the new dynamic.
It's been particularly tough on Fran. Golly was her dog and for the 13+ years she graced our lives, Fran never, ever had to go looking for Golly. It's been a difficult transition. Every once in a while I see Fran glance up, look around a bit puzzled, then the sadness washes over her face. We'll all adjust, but it takes some time.
Ceilidh (Fran's 8-year-old Boston Terrier) went on a hunger strike for a couple of days, but she's over it now and seems to be adjusting. Dax knows something is different - but doesn't seem to know the change is permament. She'll wake up from a nap, look around and point those radar-dish ears toward the back door, expecting it to open. Roc is oblivious. We turn on the tv for him and he's happy. Especially if the Bears are playing.
What's made this difficult time more bearable is the outpouring of sympathy from friends. Some may question whether the internet isolates people or brings them together. We can attest to its warmth and community. Thank you.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

We miss you, Golly

It wasn't a tummy upset. It was very sudden and complete kidney failure. We lost our beloved Golly yesterday. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers. We'll always remember and love her.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hoping for an upset stomach

Distressing day today - Golly wouldn't eat her dinner last night and was messy from both ends. It's been a running joke in our house forever - if Golly doesn't eat, go directly to the vet. Do not Pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
So Fran took her last night and after injections and medication, she's worse this morning and Fran took her back to the vet. I'm waiting to hear.
We're all very hopeful she just had waaaaaayy too many treats at our dog club picnic on Sunday. Golly, even though she doesn't see too well any more and doesn't hear too well any more, can still unerringly find the soft touch holding the hot dog or hamburger.
The mooching has never bothered her before - she's been doing the same thing at the picnic her entire life. The vet said that perhaps Golly can't do the things at almost-14 that she's done up to now. Keep your fingers crossed it's just a tummy upset.
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Before it's gone...

This is why I keep trying! (Miltonia) - Fran
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

What I Did on My Day Off

Why don't I bake bread more often? While it was baking, Ceilidh was even sniffing at the aroma! - Fran
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