Sunday, January 14, 2018

Circus Dog Class!

SUMMARY: Tricks, week 1

Fetch Sam is a dog-training indoor facility near downtown San Jose. Main focus is dog agility, but that means that it's plenty big enough for a group of dogs to work on tricks, too.

Mackenzie and her Human Mom, Zorro in his crate. Mackenzie is a tres wee dog.




Saturday was our first class out of 5 spread over a month and a half. I had asked whether I could do both dogs at once (paying for both of course), but the instructor suggested that I could maybe alternate weeks, but not both at once. When class got going, I could see what that wouldn't have worked with 2 dogs, one handler.

Had to decide whom to take to week 1 and opted for Zorro.

He did very well even with other dogs around; only one brief HEY STOP LOOKING AT ME barking session, but mostly seemed comfortable to be there, not too overly stimulated, and briefly met a 6-month-old lab nose to nose. Mostly we were all maybe 20-30 feet apart from each other, working on the assigned tricks.

First week we did an intro to clicker training (which I've been using for ages) and the following:
  • Target training: (which this week was really "go to your mat" for which she supplied towels) I've been doing "go to your bed" with the dogs with a bit more than casual intent for a while, so they have the basic idea and Zorro had little problem with this from up to a few feet away.
  • Shake: Both dogs already do "shake" (with right paw) and "shake left" (with left) very well.  So in class I worked on getting him to give me both paws first with shake, then with shake left; he was reluctant to get both paws off the floor at the same time although lordy knows he does that often enough at hom.
  • Spin: Both dogs do "left" and "right" spins already; zorro has "right" on voice command almost all the time and "left" almost on voice command; Chip isn't there yet with just voice command, but the finger reminder is almost faded away. During class, I worked on having Zorro do 2 or 3 in a row before getting a treat (so, like 2/treat, 1/treat, 2/treat, 1/treat, 3/treat, 2/treat, 1/treat...)
  • Take it: Haven't worked on this with these dogs ever. Zorro of course will grab a toy in my hands when I tell him to Get It at home, but he has no interest in toys at all away from house/yard, so this will take some work; in class, he was starting to open his mouth instead of just butting it with his nose, yay.
  • Roll over: I think I worked with them a bit on this when Zorro first arrived, but not much and not since then, so we're really at square One, or maybe one and a half. But much more willing to go over than, say, Remington, with whom I had to start by first lifting one foot slightly and rewarding, and going very very very piecemeal.
  • Sit pretty: Definitely worked with them a few times, again, back when Zorro was new here, but not really since. He was getting it in class after initially wanting to stand up on his hind legs, not sit up.
Mackenzie and her Human Mom (friend Arlene) also already knew some of the tricks but were just learning others.  I think that some of our other classmates also knew one or two of some of these ahead of time, but we all have things to work on.

Like, for example, THIS vast display of naughtiness, Mr. Zee!!!, which I found this evening on my effing kitchen table, my beautiful all-white CLEAN kitchen table, after being gone all day:



So SOME of us have a few more things to work on outside of class than others.


Ya think we're dog people? With mostly nonpurebred dogs, both?


Autumn Washes Towards Winter Running Towards Spring

SUMMARY: A photo

On the day after Christmas, a friend and I took our cameras and ambled up the trail running along a forest stream at Hidden Villa in the late afternoon, tucked between two ridges and dark and shady.

We were past the shortest day of the year, yet just starting winter. Now the days will slowly grow longer, the trees will finish shedding their last leaves, rain and chilly days will come more and more often... until, suddenly, only a month or so from today, the first hints of spring appear (today I noticed that the hyacinth and daffodil foliage is very tall and thinking that it might be ready to start forming buds).

Welcome to California.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Busy on Facebook, not too much here

SUMMARY: Plus, well... photos, life, work, house, downsizing...

In an attempt to motivate myself to do something with the dogs that I have, not that the dogs that I wish were still alive (although Tika would now be 17 and boost 13...so hard to believe that it has been almost 3 years), I signed up for a tricks class--er, sorry, Circus Dog class.

Not that I don't know how to teach my dogs tricks (to wit: Remington), just finding motivation to do anything with them is so hard. Not that they're bad dogs or don't want to learn or aren't quick learners.  I think that I really still want to do agility. But it hurts. So fuggit.

But enough of that.

Instead, I've been working on firming up their Left and Right turns, and their Shake Left and Shake Right, and of course they're both excellent at nose Touch to the back of the hand. Started working on Crawl with Zorro and on walking backwards with Chip and backwards up the stairs with both of them--all of these barely begun and only occasionally worked on. But I have been doing Get In The Box since it's soooooo simple to teach and fun for others to see when they really get it down and useful for random occasions.  They're both pretty regularly getting into the very long box now. And I have one that's about 1/3 that size; would like to have one in between those sizes but don't and am disinclined to cut up one of the boxes that I have because I am in fact gradually filling them with Things To Go Away and taking them Away.

They like it.  Or the treats. Or the attention.

I had a month after I signed up to actually teach them all the tricks that are likely to be in the 5-week course so that they'd be more relaxed with familiar activities since I don't do nuthin' with them anywhere pretty much ever.  But, you know, Christmas, New Year, grieving, movies, work, whatever, rationalizing away my inactivity. We'll get there gradually through the class. Just found out that a good friend also signed up (also a former agility-champion-maker slowed down by physical limitations but who has always taught her dogs tricks and competing in a bunch more dog sports than I do), so that'll be fun, too.  Looking forward to it.

I should post some photos, since I have so many trillions. Maybe later.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year's Eve at Taj MuttHall

SUMMARY: Poor scaredy Chip.

It's been quite cold at night, so I had high hopes for few or no fireworks so maybe I could go to bed early and comfy, but alas, no.

The day started as a cheerful winter's day. Gave the Rawhides Of Unusual Size from Christmas back to both dogs.  Chip settled in and resumed gnawing like a champ.  Zorro sniffed at it a bit but really had no interest still.  So, in the interest of evidence-based experimentation, I gave him a much smaller one to see what would happen.

He carried it around looking concerned for a while, from one lounging spot to another, never putting it down; never chewing on it, either. Finally he exited the house, and Experienced Human Mom recognized the I'm-Going-To-Bury-This-Amazing-Treasure behavior and grabbed the camera.

He roamed around the edges of the yard behind things for a couple of minutes, pausing briefly at many spots to examine them, so it was tough to get a shot--


And then suddenly he noticed me through the window and froze, stunned beyond belief that I would be so ghastly rude!! as to watch a dog bury a bone!


Stood there for a few moments in righteous indignation, then trotted purposefully out around the side of the house where I couldn't see him. Came back inside a while later with dirt on his nose and no rawhide.

I had many many Human Mom sorts of activities to do around the house, and so the day wound its way onward.

Was still daylight when the neighbors started partying not with fireworks but with music with a heavy drumbeat which apparently Chip interpreted as The Horror Of Devil-Spawned Fireworks.  Hence, large dog in lap in little chair. Not comfy for either of us.  Fortunately, lasted only 15-20 minutes when apparently his razor-sharp, fast-as-lightning mind ascertained that there was no immediate threat.



Zorro, meanwhile, stood watch, not wanting to leave this hotbed of exciting activity and yet making sure that no rawhide thief, such as any malevolent Squirrel!, snuck into the yard.


Then, for the moment, all was right with the world.



BUT WAIT! WHUT IZ? IN YARDZ OF WE?



As the day continued its New Years Eveish way, Zorro periodically appeared with His Precious.   (Note it is now no longer pristine.)



Then it would vanish again. Much amusement occurred in the brain of Human Mom.

Nearing normal bedtime, Human Mom settled with her New York Times crossword, ready for a pleasant and calming activity.  (Heh, advice column heading is "Ladies prefer cats to family members."  Turns out they are the villains in that story. Figures. Cats. Pfft.)


And then, sigh, fireworks began. Not an onslaught, but enough that You Know Who returned in search of a lap. This time Human Mom provided a cushion to make the visit more comfortable for all. Still... hard to complete the nearly completed NYTC.

Hmmm, Human Mom, you not iz get five ov letterz answering of "Chip away at" clue iz? Iz me knowingz! Is "dog go"!


Oh. Iz not. 



Fireworks. Bah.


When Chip would vacate Lapland, Mr. Z occasionally wanted a snuggle of confirmation that he was not being left out.


In due time, all became silent. (Won't mention the due time was 2:30 a.m.)

Happy New Year to all and to all a safe, quiet rest and answers to life's puzzles.



Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas, from 2009 and 2017

SUMMARY: The same, but different, but the same.
Backfill: BACKFILLDATE


May your days, months, and years ahead find joy for you all.


Tunnel: Check. Contact equipment: Check. Jolly Ball in the foreground: Check. One dog looking at camera: Check. One dog not looking at camera: Check. Ellen in teal and dark blue and jeans: Check.  OK, good enough! Send it!




Thursday, December 21, 2017

Boost -- a little in memorium

SUMMARY: Photos

Boost's death was so sudden, and Tika's death was so recent before that, and my dad's illness was so bad-- I never did a photo retrospective of their lives. This isn't one, either, but I wanted to gather some photos for a smaller project. Here they be.





Boost had no fear of racing to almost the end and riding it to a slam-down.







Championship in CPE!



I had to hustle to be anywhere near her at the end of a dogwalk.






Boost loved to help me in the yard while I trimmed. I'd toss the trimmings into the air; she'd leap, catch, shake them firmly, and toss them to the ground with great finality, then wait for the next.




Waiting to run, tugging on her Riot Tug.



We did a little nosework. She was catching on.





My Merle Girl.




Resting between rocket-powered frisbee catchings.





Boost loved the snow. Anything in the snow.



Heterochromic eyes, like her mom's and many other relatives.





Get In The Box trick.

She learned this from watching Tika. Amazing.


Running at the beach. She just liked running.




Demonstrating her lightning-fast weaving technique.





Floating through the air down a line of jumps. Like magic when it worked.





Tika also taught Boost how to use tunnels, although Boost's puppyhood playground included tunnels.





Hiking, climbing, exploring.






Loved running through the powder; preferred that to running along the trail!



Atop Coyote Peak, one of our frequent hikes.


Boost's absolutely favorite toy of all time.



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Return of the Aliens

SUMMARY: Mr. Alien's entire family arrives.

Since I, sadly, have lost the two Mr. Aliens who were naked, probably returned to Deneb or Vega or Andromeda or Mars or Hollywood or wherever they're from, and since the two Mr. Aliens who returned from their trip to Dickensian England dressed in glorious holiday habiliments declined to ever remove said dress again, I finally gave up and invited all of the younger Mr. Aliens to visit and perhaps stay awhile.

Sadly, they are half the size of the more mature and experienced Mr. Aliens, but they're all that's available at this time. They look ready and eager to jump into the game, even though one looks like he imbibed a bit heavily of the Romulan Ale last night.



We might get to see a few more Mr. Alien escapades in the near (and far) future. Here's hoping.

P.S. Searches to which Google can't arrive at a satisfactory answer: "What do aliens drink?"

Monday, November 27, 2017

Stamps

SUMMARY: A hobby for the whole family.


My dad started collecting stamps as a kid. I vaguely recall that his dad started him on it, but that memory is unclear.

Dad was an enthusiastic-- although not "serious"-- collector of stamps from around the world. He loved the "5 million unsoaked unsorted" stamp deals, but did keep current with US mint stamps of normal values (not high values). He collected first-day covers for a long time, too, and all sorts of random things. He had dozens and dozens of small boxes and albums to hold his collection.

He got me my first stamp album when I was in kindergarten. I've done only US stamps and got serious--heh-- briefly for several years in the '70s and tried to keep up with *all* current US mint stamps. Used to stand in line for ages at the special post office window they used to have in the Willow Glen area just for collectors. Ordered everything available for each current year from the US postal service (which included things like hunting license stamps). Although I haven't put anything in an album in probably 30 years, I still buy extras and stick them in an envelope for "later". Hard habit to break.

My dad started using his stamps as postage after hoping for decades that they'd eventually be worth something, and I wonder how many people noticed the wayyyy old mint stamps that he used on envelopes to them?

Just before he died he sent off what was left of about 10 large cartons of albums and stamps to a dealer, for which we were paid a pittance. (Oddly enough, stamp collecting is no longer of interest to as many people, according to the few dealers who are left--used to be able to find stamp/coin dealers in little shops all over the place.  Here's an interesting read on how many collectors there are.)

When going through parents' stuff after Mom's death, I found a small camera with a card still in it, so I loaded it up. It included a few photos that dad had taken of some of his stamp things as he packed them up to ship. So, here they are. I have no other photos related to dad and his stamps, despite all the many times that he worked on his collection on the dining table.

Glassine envelopes with extra stamps or first-day covers or what-not:



A carton being packed up to go.


Magnifying "glasses", magnifying glass in box, more glassine envelopes, special envelopes...


 The open shelf all the way across is random stamp things and albums--


More cartons as he packed them up.



Friday, November 24, 2017

The Feeling With No Name

SUMMARY: Grief at the holidays.

You've read or heard about it your whole life--that not everyone is happy during the epic of The Holidays.

Christmas in particular has always been a favorite of mine. And Thanksgiving, getting together with family and consuming mass quantities, so many good times.

Not every year has been equal in joy, of course.

This year, maybe the roughest for me; I can't speak for the rest of my family, but I suspect for them as well. Dad is gone, Mom is gone, cousin Carol Anne is gone, other cousin's spouse left and will no longer be around. When I lost Tika and Boost--when we discovered that Dad had stage 4 cancer--cousin also lost her dog to cancer. And now, the house (parents' last home) where we've had a large and growing celebration every Christmas morning since 1968 is gone. Every item in that house that made it a familiar family Christmas surrounding is gone--some pieces distributed here and there within the family, but... not there. That particular Parental flavor of being Home for Christmas.


So, it's 2017. The family has changed around me. For the first time in all Thanksgivings, I spent a good part of the morning crying for what is gone, even as I did my best to count the very many things that I have that I am thankful for.

I attempted this normal self-care thing Thanksgiving morning: my annual Thanksgiving morning hike with dogs, most years since I've been on my own, and it has been a lovely thing--few people out, so peaceful, such a beautiful time of year.  And this time my dogs got into a fight with each other and I had to enlist a stranger to help me separate them. That was the capper for the day.

I did go to the family gathering although I didn't feel up to it--all sisters and families and our close cousin were there and we were all in the same boat, so I felt that I couldn't not be there, and it was good to see people but I still had to sneak out and go for a short walk on my own.  I ate too much as usual because the food as usual was overabundant and delicious, but maybe that's what helped me get to sleep last night. A hidden blessing after 2 nights of misery.

Wednesday I stared at my boxes and boxes of xmas decor-because I love Christmas and Thanksgiving weekend is usually the beginnings of decorating for the season--I started thinking that the last thing that I want is a huge family xmas like we've had every year of my 61 xmases to date, which I have always enjoyed.  I can't quite grasp it. But what made it even more interesting is that many of my sisters hinted that they feel the same way, so we'll see what happens.

I am grieving, I know. It hurts. My grief is like no one else's, and no one else's is like mine or anyone else's. We can call it grief, but it's as personal as the way you smile, the color of your eyes, the movies you enjoy, the color that's your favorite, all of the million things wrapped together to make you you, or me me.  How can one word cover that?  Can't. I struggle for words to convey my complex roiling mental, emotional, and physical states.  Grieving. Will have to do for now.

One thing that took my mind off it all for a half hour, thereby cheering myself a fraction, on Thanksgiving morning I searched for "turkey" in my photo disk and shared them in this Facebook album with captions for your turkeying pleasure.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Faces in the Kitchen

SUMMARY: Whenever I'm feeling lonely, there's a place I can go...

...just walk into my kitchen and commune with my cabinets.


The guy that started it all, staring straight at my table.



Big-eyed alien that you've seen so often;
not sure what the dot on his forehead is--third eye? Caste mark? Do aliens have castes?


The late, lamented, lost Mr. Alien.



 Stayed up wayyyyy too late reading FaceBook.


Screaming and falling, hair (or ears?) flying up as she goes. I'm sure she's doing it for fun. Bungie jumping, probably. Or maybe this is me on Tower of Terror (excuse me, "Guardians of the Galaxy") last week. Once. Never again. Ever.



Somehow this cabinet evolved into a profile view of the right side of a chimp--his ear toward the left, all his dark hair, looking to the right.  



Cyclops! With really really big lips!



Astonishment.



Yeti on drugs.