Thursday, January 31, 2008

A face any mother could love

Sometimes I think Ceilidh looks like a cartoon character.
And she acts like one, too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

As the calendar fills....

Have you ever noticed how life comes in waves? I wonder if scientists or sociologists have ever studied whether the pattern is the same for everybody, or if it's an individual thing. One day your schedule is wide-open, you're seriously contemplating absolutely nothing. The next, you don't have time to get everything done, your evenings and weekends are booked and you feel like you don't have a moment to breathe.
I'm just starting a calendar-full of stuff. All good. And having a ball. Training classes, obedience seminars, trials, fun matches, visits to vets (not good, but necessary), dinner parties, vacation planning, the list goes on. And it's January! In Chicago! What happened to hibernation?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Party time!

New Orleans celebrated yesterday with the Krewe of Barkus parade. Can't believe I missed it!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Below-Zero Agility

Last night was Agility Class again, and it was really cold. On the drive to class, the meteorologist said it was 1 degree or something like that - actual temperature, not wind chill. The wind chill was 15 degrees below zero - fahrenheit. Brrrr. Even with the defrosters going full blast, the windows were icing over with two dogs and two people breathing. It was downright cold. Of course Agility class is indoors, but with the door opening it was chilly inside too. Hope and Dax's class is an hour before Ceilidh and mine, so we spent an hour waiting in the Lobby. Ceilidh can only tolerate so much "doodling" - little exercises practicing certain aspects of obedience or other training - before her brain says "enough!" While Ceilidh enjoys Agility drills - a sequence of obstacles practicing a specific skill - she can't take much practice in a small space. Especially when it's cold. But then it was our turn to play Agility and we warmed up in a hurry!

Last night the actual temperature dropped to -4 degrees. Thank goodness, it's supposed to warm up this weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Call him "Mr. Spud"

I've retired Roc from Obedience. It took me a while to admit it was necessary. And to adjust to the change.
It took Roc no time at all. He LOVES his new career as Couch Potato. He's happier, calmer and altogether a joyful boy. He loved going to class and being with me, but the stress of competition was just too much for the little guy. As Dax and I head out for class, he sits there in his favorite bed; "See ya! Have a good time! Wake me when you get home."
Of course he's Johnny-On-The-Spot when I practise with Dax at home. Cookies were always his favorite part of training. Last night when I actually had the temerity to ask him to do something for his treat he looked at me with outrage. "Work? Work? I don't think so!"
When I insisted he "down" the indignation was palpable. I'd violated his new work ethic - none at all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mighty hunter girl

Like most dog owners ( I imagine) I take the dogs out just before bedtime. Last night it was snowing - a really beautiful, light snow, enough to cover the ground. No pawprints showing, no wind blowing anything around, just lovely.
There was one set of tracks already in the snow before the dogs went out. A nice, clear set of bunny tracks. I saw it, so I had a feeling things would get interesting.
Golly, Roc and Ceilidh did their thing without even going into the back yard - they were tired, it was cold and the nearest sideyard comfort station was fine. So they went back in.
Dax galloped into the backyard. I followed at a slower pace. And almost got run over by a bunny - followed in short order by a French bulldog. One of these days we're going to have
Hasenpfeffer. That Dax can motor!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back to School!

Last night was Ceilidh's (and my) first night at Agility Class in a couple of months. She was so happy to be back and see all her friends - most notably Puddy the Boxer. Puddy loves other short-faced dogs and was happy to see Ceilidh back at school, too. I was a little concerned that Ceilidh wouldn't remember how to do the obstacles, but I should have worried about me! We did a long front cross drill, and on the last jump I forgot which way to turn! I can always say I was dizzy and had to unwind myself. But Ceilidh did great. She remembered everything and "hoovered" much less than I expected her to.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dax has a boyfriend!

Daxie's in love!
For the last two weeks, a dashing young Papillon boy has come to class. Smudge is 18 months old (a younger man!), about as tall as Dax and half her weight. He's a slight thing, but all swaggering confidence and joy.
It's the first time she's tried to initiate play with another dog. She'll usually go up, sniff hello, and if the other dog wants to play, Dax's usual reaction is to roll over onto her back in the classic "I'm a puppy don't hurt me!" move. For the first time, she's got her adorable butt in the air, wiggling like mad, saying "Play with me!"
Fortunately, Smudge is happy to oblige. It was wonderful watching them chase around and play after class last night.
And, with some luck, he'll be a wonderful influence on her. Papillons are known as top-notch performance dogs. And his "mom" has, in the past, gotten advanced obedience titles on her Borzois. (She's a good example of downsizing!)
Vive l'amour!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Destructo strikes again!

Dax was very proud of herself yesterday evening. She managed to disembowel and shred her favorite toy in the whole, wide world - her Squeeze Meeze Elephant. It took some effort, but once the initial hole was made, latex and stuffing flew merrily around the room.
From talking to all sorts of dog people, I know that most seem to look for "indestructible" toys. As the owner of dogs and a dog store, I absolutely guarantee there's no such thing. Given time and determination, any dog can destroy any dog toy. Ceilidh, Fran's Boston Terrier, is notorious for her ability to reduce any toy, of any material, to shreds.
I'll also admit that the destruction doesn't bother me at all. I pick up the pieces and toss them out without a pang. If they were precious objects, they'd be in display cases. At my house, dog toys are meant to be played with, destroyed and replaced.
I've heard stories about dogs who cherish particular toys, treat them gently, get anxious when they're in the laundry, and carry them tenderly through their lives. I believe it can happen. It just doesn't at my house.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The best movie ever!

We have a subscription to Netflix, so we watch quite a few movies we never would have paid admission to see. We saw the remake of The Shaggy Dog this weekend.
OMIGOSH! It was just the best movie ever, in the history of the world. There couldn't possibly be a better movie - ever, ever, EVER!!!!
That was Roc's opinion. Voiced unceasingly. Over the entire 90+ minutes of the movie.
We liked it too, but not quite as much.
BTW: I "shaggified" Roc here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Last week of freedom!

Didn't it always seem, the week before you had to go back to school from your winter break, that your freedom was ending? That's how it seems to me, and I don't exactly know why! Ceilidh and I are going back to Agility classes next week - we'd taken the last session off because I knew I'd have to miss at least two classes. We can't make up classes, and we can't prorate payments. I don't know why, that's just the way this place works. And it's too expensive to sign up knowing that one fourth of the payment is being wasted.

So, we've had a couple of months of sluggishness. Actually, Ceilidh is the furthest thing from a slug - she needs her exercise every day! But now we're going back to school next week. Last evening seemed very indulgent. We ordered fried rice from our usual Chinese take-out place and ate the whole order! And watched a whole evening of mindless TV!

Next week it's back to work. Let's see how much Ceilidh and I remember!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not your everyday obedience group

Yesterday evening at training it struck me how wonderfully diverse our group is. When we were doing the "Long Down" exercise (leave your dog in a down position and stand across, or out of, the room for five minutes) I took a look at the line-up.
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Black Lab
  • Shiba Inu
  • Yellow Lab
  • Sheltie
  • French Bulldog (Dax!)
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Papillon
  • Sheltie
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Saluki

Not exactly the group you'd think of when you're thinking "obedience," is it? I guess that's why I enjoy it so thoroughly. My dog may not be the fastest to learn the exercises, but we're having fun. I particularly love Dax's "Recall." That's when I leave her in a sit, go to the other end of the room, and call her to me. When I leave her, it looks like she's not paying much attention to me; looking around, staring off into space. Then, when I call, she zooms as fast as she can down the length of the room and sits perfectly in front of me. A friend of ours does a running commentary of Dax's Recall: "Clear the runway. Flaps (ears) down. Take off!"

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The joys of customer service

So yesterday I was going through e-mails, answering questions from customers and inquiries from strangers.

And there's a question from a man in Canada who says (paraphrased) "I have this harness that you carry, but I can't read the size, this is what it measures. I need the next size up and do you ship to Canada."

So I spend a while measuring harnesses in the store, figuring out what he's got and what he needs. And I write back saying this is what you have, this is what you want and we happily ship to Canada.

And he writes back and says thanks anyway, I found it in a store here.

I understand shopping locally. I really do. But, if you've made me do the grunt work, please don't tell me about it.

Thank you very much.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Dax-filled weekend

I've decided that this spring will be Dax's debut in competitive Obedience, so as preparation Dax and I went to a fun match on Saturday. We haven't been practising too much, so I was a bit apprehensive - especially when considering off-lead heeling. Shows what I know - my baby girl did great!
Her greatest weakness is her friendliness - the Stand for Exam is just agony for her. She moved a foot on the first try, but we redid the exercise and she was perfect.
She also stood up as soon as I left her on the "Long Down." I'm not sure why, but I think she may have gotten distracted and missed my command. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt because she was perfect after I went back and had her lie down - even when the German Shorthair Pointer next to her in line almost rolled over on her! She stuck it!
Of course it wasn't exactly a perfect day - outside the ring before "sits and downs" Dax mistook my finger for a piece of cheese and took a chunk out of my right index finger, right by the cuticle. Ouch! (Thank you Betsy for dashing around to find me a bandage!) But, like everything else in obedience, it's my fault, not Dax's.
Speaking of fault - I also have to confess to being the world's worst dog-mom this weekend. I took the dogs out after lunch on Sunday and then settled in to watch some TV. Deep Space Nine on videotape, actually. An episode featuring Jadzia Dax. Which is why it's absolutely incomprehensible and unforgivable that I left my beautiful baby Dax outside for almost an hour. I just didn't count noses when I came in. The only thing that's saving me from punishing self-castigation is that fact that it was in the 60s yesterday.
Of course, if she'd come in when I called...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Top 10 dog names

I was catching up on my reading yesterday evening (a July issue of Real Simple) and came across this list of most popular dog names:

  1. Max

  2. Bailey

  3. Buddy

  4. Molly

  5. Maggie

  6. Lucy

  7. Daisy

  8. Bella

  9. Jake

  10. Rocky

Hmmmmm. First time in my life I've almost made the top 10 in anything. I think Roc should count as a 10!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Icicles of the past

We have some enormous icicles hanging from our lean-to greenhouse. Some of them are over three feet long. And what do icicles make me think of? My father.
I have very few memories of "Daddy." He died when I was six. I never called him "Dad" or "Father (with an eye roll)." He will always be "Daddy," because he wasn't there when I would have grown out of it.
One of the few memories I have is the day I was "helping" him knock icicles off our garage. I must have been about three. Predictably, one of the ice spears landed just below my left eye. I still have the scar.
Funny, though. The only think I remember about the day is having fun helping my "daddy." I don't remember getting hurt. Or how fast he must have run into the house with me. Or how my mother reacted. I bet it wasn't pretty. But they were, weren't they?