Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How 'bout a cup of kindness?

I try, at least in this blog, to avoid the politics of dog ownership. I do have strong opinions on the topic, but I'm not entirely sure the rest of the world wants to hear them.

What I know for sure is that we should all respect the informed, well-considered opinions of others, whether they agree with us or not.

Recently, on the Twitter social network, (I'm GollyGear there), someone commented that people who own and compete with purebred dogs have to be rather "shy." Apparently, if we choose to have a purebred dog we can't really talk about it in public these days. The people owning mixed-breeds, preferably those adopted from shelters, seem to have the moral high ground.

Dog ownership is a choice. It is the only love money truly can buy. They are not my children, nor am I their guardian. I am wholly and completely responsible for my dogs; their health, safety, and their behavior.

I hope to have many, many years with each of my dogs. I have particular needs and preferences to consider when choosing a dog, and I want to train my dogs from their puppyhood on. For these reasons, and many others, I choose to own purebred dogs.

I respect the fact that my choice is not everyone's. And I hope that others will respect mine. I hope we can all discuss our points of view civilly - each contributing his knowledge and experience to polite debate.

So I'm hoping for a kinder, gentler 2009, where, as Voltaire said: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Happy Day After Christmas, everyone! Yesterday was a quiet day at home - snuggled with the dogs, watched movies and appreciated the fact that we didn't have to go anywhere! To get in the mood, we watched "A Christmas Carol" with Patrick Stewart (it was on TNT a few years ago and perhaps in reruns since). Got the warm fuzzies. I knit a few rows on my afghan, read a few chapters. Great day. And then this morning woke up to an ice storm. The newscasters said there were too many crashes and fender-benders on the expressways to talk about. Yup, back to reality! (No worries - made it to work safely.)
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sweet deal

Yesterday I got home to a bonanza of riches! Our front sidewalk had been snow-blown!
It doesn't seem like a such a big deal until you know the history. It's been snowing around here about every two days. At the moment, looking out the window of the shop, the parking lot across the street has piles of snow that are, literally, over my head. (I know, that's not as impressive when you know I'm only five feet tall, but it's the principle.) You get the idea - there's a lot of snow on the ground.
Several years ago, being younger and brighter than I am now, I bought a snow-thrower. I did my research and got a really, really good snow-thrower. It has an electric start, it has separate tanks for oil and gas so I didn't have to mix them, and it's too wide to get from the garage to the front of the house. Never even thought about measuring between the fence and the house. I can hear you giggling. Stop it.
So the snow thrower sat in the unattached garage. And developed an impressive array of spiderwebs and dust. Until the other day, when our wonderful neighbor Ron was caught in the act of being an angel and clearing our front walk. So I went out to talk to Ron, who said he was happy to do our walk. And that he was thinking about getting a snow thrower, so he could do his yard, ours, and an elderly neighbor's.
In an astonishing burst of brilliance - I offered the abandoned snow thrower in the garage! I can't believe I thought of it right then and there. He could have it! Forever and always! At this point I wasn't even sure it would run, but what the heck, worth a try!
Ron came and got it the next day (walked it all the way around the block). Lo and behold! He told me last night it only took about a half hour of tinkering to get it going. Yeah, Ron!
Everybody wins! Ron gets a snow thrower, we get space in the garage and clean front walks. And cookies from Ron's wife, Kitty!
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just having fun with my dog

Yesterday I had an agility lesson with our instructor (whose Airedale was tops at the Agility Invitational last week!). It occurred to me, driving home, that I am so incredibly lucky. I may not be very good at agility handling (although I am trainable!) and I may not have the grace, style or instinct to ever compete at any elite level - but I can play agility with my dog!
I'm sure that everyone who has a hobby they enjoy can identify with the feeling. Doing something just for fun is a great joy and privilege. And to be able to share it with my dog, to forge a partnership with her and have fun together - it's the best!
I may not feel that way as the butterflies flutter in my stomach before our next trial (wish us luck - it's Jan. 2, 3 and 4!), but right now, we're having a blast!
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Enough already!

The Winter Storm Warning that we had from last night through this morning was actually legit! In our area we got about 5 inches of really heavy, wet snow and sleet. But it was better than the freezing rain that fell just a little further south. Needless to say the dogs did not want to go out this morning. Snow that's above Golly's belly is frowned upon by the princess. I tromped a path through the back yard to make it a little easier to get to the kid's familiar place but that didn't make it any nicer out. Ceilidh shivered and tiptoed her way to the back. Roc was yapping at the snow, expressing his displeasure. And Dax is just plain miserable.

Is it spring yet?
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bears have the right idea

You know it's going to be a long, long winter when you're tired of it before it starts. December has been a brutal month, weatherwise. Not improved by the furnace dying in our shop - two days with temperatures in the forties, inside! It was practically impossible to think - totally impossible to type. (Apologies for all those typos on the packing slips to our customers!)
And I have a question - Why is it that of all species of apes, only the furless one doesn't live in the tropics?
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Monday, December 15, 2008

The friendliest girl in the world

Yesterday was Dax and my first Obedience Trial as a team. We've been working at it since she was a baby and I probably should have started trialing (how's that for dog-specific jargon!) long ago, but I didn't.
And, just like her first Agility Trial, Dax proved she's the most social butterfly around. She had to go see the little girl sitting ringside. It didn't seem to occur to her, momentarily, that she was supposed to be heeling with me! And that speck on the mat had to be investigated. And what's going on in the ring next door? That looked very, very interesting!
The upshot was we didn't qualify. It's not that she totally blew any of the exercises - it's just that our total performance was, shall we say, not exactly noteworthy.
I really didn't expect to qualify her first time out. Trials can be nerve-wracking experiences for competitors (both human and canine) with years of experience.
So - we got some experience. Which is what you get when you don't get what you want.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Why don't I ever have a camera?

It's always the same story. I never have a camera handy when the dogs are doing something incredibly cute. Yesterday evening we were watching the news when Ceilidh and Dax started play-bowing, then wrestling, then chasing each other around. Then Golly started bouncing at us - her playful sign. Then she started playing with a big stuffed bear we've had for years for the dogs to play with. But naturally, the camera was in the other room and we knew everyone would abandon play to follow us if we got up to get it! That's how it always is ...
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Reindog Parade at the Chicago Botanic Garden

It was snowy
and cold

But even Cubs fans had a good time!

Cute dogs!

Santa was there!

The winner was this Yule Dog Log!

Over 300 dogs were entered - it was crowded and fun!

Dogs are only allowed in the Chicago Botanic Garden 1 day per year - naturally, the nastiest weather-one around! Everybody had fun, though!
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

We never thought it would happen

We tried to get a picture of Dax and Ceilidh together, but didn't want to leave the room to get a good camera - we knew one or both would be up in a flash if we did! These pictures were taken on my cell phone. The two girls were actually sharing the bed! Dax lied down first and Ceilidh really wanted that same bed. We did put her in the bed and told her it was OK to share. It took her a few minutes, but as you can see Ceilidh did settle down to enjoy a nap, using her sister's butt as a nice pillow!
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Friday, December 05, 2008

Lost day...

Yesterday was a day for putting out fires. Not related to the store or customers - worse - computer problems! This time it was a new modem causing fires. We had been having intermittent problems with the internet and were told by techs that the modem was getting old and we should replace it. You would think that this would be an easy proposition. Think again. The box came with the new modem, all the requisite cables and cords, and an installation CD. Now with every other piece of new equipment, the first thing you do is stick in that installation CD. Not so here. It turns out that the CD installed Norton security programs on the PC that not only duplicated existing security but created a new firewall that prevented our two PCs from sharing files. Sounds simple, doesn't it. The problem was that we didn't know about this software installation until late in the day, after Hope talked to tech support at our DSL provider (who actually should have known about the new security programs, having provided that installation CD) and Dell (who shed light on the problem). So, we helped customers, mailed out orders, and came home totally frazzled.
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quirky? Eccentric? That's my girl!

Dax is a thirsty dog. Whenever she's done with anything she goes and has a drink of water. And if I happen to forget to bring water when we go to class, she sulks until she's home. Then she runs right to the water bowl.
There's nothing wrong with her - she just really, really likes water. Not usually a problem, since she's also very well-trained!
She does have this one really bizarre quirk. She won't touch her "travelling" water bowl if any other dog touches it. The only exceptions are the dogs she lives with; Golly, Ceilidh and Roc.
At trials, fun matches or at training class I can never leave her bowl on the ground. Invariably another perfectly nice dog would slurp a drink. Then, in Dax's universe, the bowl had cooties and couldn't possibly be used again until it was thoroughly sterilized by a run through the dishwasher.
I found this really great water container. Upright, it's a spill-proof bottle. Horizontal and the bowl fills up. No muss, no fuss! I can just pick it up when Dax is done and not worry about other dogs' cooties.
Not so much. Being a little dog person, it never occurred to me that an Irish Water Spaniel would have no trouble checking out Dax's water bowl on top of a table. Ooops. You should have seen the "mother, how could you!" look I got from Dax.
Yup, it's another trip through the dishwasher.
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