Friday, November 28, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving! (A day late, but the sentiment is there.) I'm thankful for my dogs, bringing me joy every day. No matter how frustrating my day is, Ceilidh is at the door jumping on me, wanting to play. Gotta laugh at Dax stealing Ceilidh's toy and Ceilidh taking off after her! Golly and Roc are always at the door too, wanting to say hello. I'm thankful for being able to enjoy my dogs. I may not be able to get down on the floor as easily as I did, but I still get down there and play with them.

So, today I'm thankful for the small things!
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Working on conditioning

When I told my friend Betsy about the results of the Agility Fun Match last week, she reminded me of something really important. I can't ask my French Bulldog to do something she's clearly not designed to do if she's not in condition to do it.
Aside from the training of "how" to do the obstacles in agility, it's vital that she's in shape to do them, too! I may have lost sight of that - life can be so hectic that I've minimized the importance of that chunk of time spent working on my dog's physical fitness.
And Dax does her best to help me slack off - especially when the weather turns a bit colder. She's all warm and cuddly and snuggly - it's difficult to bounce her off my lap and plop her down on the treadmill. Snuggling with a bulldog is way more fun.
But we have instituted a new regimen - and I'm planning to stick to it, regardless of how adorably she looks at me. From now on we're strengthening her core so she can haul that cute butt up the A-Frame. We're building her stamina with treadmill time. We're sharpening her jumping skills with close, clean repetitions. And we're honing her heeling with lots of little drills.
Poor dog. If it weren't for the rewards she's getting, she'd be screaming "get me outta here!"
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Agility - ups and downs

Dax and I went to an Agility Fun Match last night. HORRIBLE TRAFFIC! 2 hours to get there during rush hour (I know, what was I thinking!), only 45 minutes to get home. The things we do for/with/about dogs!
Mixed bag of results. Very, very happy she's tugging like a lunatic with our new toy (, and our first run was pretty smooth and terrific. Second run - major, major A-frame issues. A really nice woman who runs Pugs came to help and share some sympathy - Pugs and Frenchies are not built to run A-Frames! Then, my fault totally, Dax got hung up a bit in the tire - nobody noticed it was set for 16 inches, instead of 12. I'll have to be way more careful about that. Fortunately, it didn't bother her. Really nice people at the facility, and a very nice facility: . After everybody was done with their runs, they let me take Dax back out and do the A-Frame and tire again.
We know what we have to work on - let's hope we get it right by our next trial at the beginning of January.
Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 21, 2008

More cold

I woke up today and it was 18 degrees F. I'm already tired of winter. It should be against some law to have to wear your parka before Thanksgiving! Of course this means the dogs need their coats as well. Golly says she doesn't need one, and so does Roc. OK - for now we'll go with that, but when it gets down to single digits they won't have a choice! Ceilidh eagerly puts her pretty flower coat on to go outside. Dax got a new coat that she doesn't seem to mind quite as much as the others. Silly girl, she doesn't like the cold but seems to dislike wearing a coat even more, trying to scrape it off on the fence outside.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dax the Huntress

I've been hesitating to write about this - it's kind of disgusting. But I guess it's part of having dogs. Dax added to her body count Sunday night - she ran down and killed a rabbit in the back yard. That's not the icky part. The grossness is when I pulled her off of the carcass and had to tell her to drop the eyeball. Ewwww.
Dax is the first dog I've ever had, in the decades I've had dogs, that's managed to actually catch anything. All the dogs have run after squirrels and rabbits. A couple had run-ins with skunks (not fun) and one challenged an opossum that was bigger than the dog. But Dax is the first successful hunter in the family.

If you'd have asked me which dog had the greatest prey drive - she wouldn't have been my first choice. She's lackadaisical about playing, doesn't enjoy fetch, and I've had to really work on getting her to play "tug" for agility training. She's really a rather laid-back, cuddly dog most of the time.

It's been a challenge wrapping my brain around this new concept of my adorable baby girl. My friend Betsy thinks I should be proud of her prowess. I'm not quite there yet.
Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sarah wants me to visit!

I got this envelope in the mail yesterday. "Hmmm," I thought to myself. "What could Sarah possibly want? The election's been over for a week and a half. She couldn't possibly want a donation... Well, maybe she could but that's not going to happen..." I usually toss solicitations into the recycling bin without even opening them but this one was irresistible. It turns out that the Governor of Alaska has some geniuses on her staff. Nothing like striking while the iron is hot! This is an offer to receive an official Alaska travel guide! Absolutely free! The letter inside rhapsodizes about the "breathtaking glaciers, deep blue fjords, the midnight sun or dazzling aurora borealis, rain forests, volcanic landscapes..." Want to go? As appealing as it sounds, I'm going to turn Sarah down. I'm staying in my nice warm house.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mixed bag of a day

Yesterday started out so good! The sun was shining, the air was crisp and delightful. I had scheduled an obedience and agility lesson with our instructor Dee - our first private lesson. We're getting ready to compete and we needed a fresh eye and perspective on our skills.
I learned a lot - lessons aren't really for the dogs. Dogs can show what they know, but the learning comes at home in small daily sessions.
The funniest thing I learned is that I walk crooked! Apparently most people do, but I had no idea! Dax and I started heeling down a long, long room. Most obedience mats have ridges, so we usually have some sort of guide. Not this time! I wound up in the opposite corner! No wonder Dax heels a little wide - she's been afraid I'll step into her.
I learned a whole slew of tiny little "kitchen exercises" - stuff we can practise in just a couple of minutes, at home in our own kitchen. Dax really seemed to have a good time, I know I did!
She also enjoyed her first ride in the new crates in the new car. I've always had plastic, solid crates in the car before, so this was the first time she's been able to see where we're going as well as where we've been. I get the feeling she's going to be quite the backseat driver.
Then I got to work and things went downhill fast. A nasty piece of malware had taken up residence in my computer and shut me down. It took forever to find the right software that could deal with the trojan and remove it. I can't understand the motivation - what twisted mind gets a kick out of making strangers' lives difficult? And where do they find the time and energy? Don't they have anything better to do?
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Blueberry's all kitted out!

I spent a good chunk of yesterday getting the dog crates secured on the deck I built last week for Blueberry's cargo area. I had to be a bit creative - the crates can't be a permanent installation, since I do so much schlepping for the store. I have to be able to get them out relatively easily. My buddy Mark at the hardware store came up with a great solution - U-shaped thingies with threads on both ends. I secured them under the platform with wing nuts. Pretty nifty, hey?

Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ceilidh's New Toy

Aside from Ceilidh's beloved Latex Soccer Ball, there's no other toy that she's particularly attached to. Until now. We got in some new Good Karma Rope Toys at the store and tried to figure out which Ceilidh might like without causing too much damage swinging it around. We settled on Ted the Turtle - not too many long bits. I must admit I was unsure if Ceilidh would really like it. But, just as Hope suspected, Ceilidh loves her turtle! We took the ribbon off immediately, of course - we all know what would happen to it if we left it on! Much to my surprise, in the evening Ceilidh likes to chew on the legs. They're starting to look a little frayed, but they're supposed to do that - the flossing effect, keeping Ceilidh's teeth in good shape. Let's hear it for Ted the Turtle!

I took a shot of Ceilidh's Ted the Turtle last night - a bit worse for wear - but beloved!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Is obedience supposed to be painful?

Fate has a way of keeping us humble, doesn't it? Last night at obedience training I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Dax and I have been practising regularly, I've been looking at premium lists and deciding which obedience trials to enter. I've also been getting a bit of a swelled head - thinking myself pretty hot stuff as the "expert" trainer on the FrogDog Ask The Experts blog. Especially when I've been getting some nice e-mails from people thanking me for my help and letting me know I was right!
Being right is a good thing. Paying attention to what you're supposed to be doing is smarter. During heeling exercises in class, our instructor (and a wonderful one, at that) explained that showing Dax a "big honking treat" right in front of her face would help her become more enthusiastic. She even encouraged us to get our dogs jumping up for the treat - showing some energy, style and panache!
It works wonders. Unless you let your mind wander during the exercise, which I did. And your dog mistakes your finger for the big honking treat, which she did. My "owie" is still oozing blood today. And it serves me right. One of my favorite obedience t-shirts reads: Obedience Help Line - Call 1-800-It's-my-fault
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What happened to Halloween?

Friday is my day off. I was totally, totally psyched for trick-or-treaters. For some reason, it's usually Fran who gets to see them and I get to hear all about how adorable they were and how cute their costumes were and how they even dressed their dogs in costume to go trick-or-treating.
Trick-or-treat hours in our town are 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. So I got totally ready - even prepared a casserole early, so I wouldn't be busy cooking when the doorbell started ringing. Candy was ready in a bowl, top window of the screen door removed so the dogs could see the kids and not get out. I was ready!
And nothing. Hours and hours of nothing. One group finally showed up about 5:30, another one child about a half hour later.
After the second time the doorbell rang, Dax sat by the door waiting for the next time. She adores seeing the kids. It never happened. She was disappointed. So was I.
Bookmark and Share