Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Getting That Dog Photo...

SUMMARY: ...All that work, and still nothing I really like.
Thanks, Lisa, for the photo of me.

And between crouching, kneeling, sitting, and lying on the ground, here's what I ended up being able to choose from before the rest of the crew was ready to go (and this is after I deleted the out-of-focus ones and really badly composed ones). BTW, the reason the dogs' feet are cut off in some and they're a little crooked is because Boost won't make eye contact with the camera but she will make eye contact with me. So for a while I tried looking through the camera to aim it, then moving my head without moving the camera to get her to look my way.


Monday, May 30, 2011

This Is Memorial Day in California?!

SUMMARY: Hiking with the dogs. And agility friends. And their dogs.

We all met up at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve at 10 a.m., and from looking at us, you'd'a thunk it was the middle of January. Brrr, cold wind! I took my hat off while lining up the camera to take a self-timed photo (since I didn't think to take my remote shutter release with me), but it went back on right after this.

This was an equal opportunity agility dog expedition:
Golden Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Standard Poodle (black), Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Craussie, Border Collie Mix, and four border collies.  Can you find the poodle in this photo?
 The crew included a couple of avid geocachers, and on one little cutoff, while the others forged ahead and I picked my way slowly and carefully down a steep, bouldery trail, I barely noticed a tiny, pale yellow, unprepossessing flower in the trail, and another one just off the side of the path a little way further. Didn't remember having ever seen them before.

Turns out they're rare ("of conservation concern"), bloom only late spring to early summer, and only  on Mount Diablo (we were in the hills surrounding Mt. Diablo). I'm the only one lucky enough to have seen them--or at least, I think so; everyone else was ahead and out of sight.

The Mount Diablo Fairy Lantern (Calochortus pulchellus):


I  survived the hike but everything was sore--both hips, right knee, and a new hitch in one thigh, too, when I tried trotting on the trail to catch up. Even if I wasn't stopping to take a quick photo, I fell behind both on the uphill and on the downhill. Gotta get these sore bits fixed and get back to hiking regularly!


Tika and Boost loved it. They particularly loved rolling in the cow poo, repeatedly, which is what they did last time we were there, dagnabbit. You can hardly even see it in this photo, though. (Mount Diablo behind.)
 More wildflowers, more dogs, more hikers, are in my Smugmug photo gallery: http://elf1.smugmug.com/Hiking/Morgan-Territory-may-2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Little Nostalgia

SUMMARY: USDAA Nationals, 2001
Have been loading some old photos onto my computer and organizing them. Fond memories.

This is before all the Tournament finals were combined into one event. Only the Grand Prix finals took place in Del Mar; the rest was filled with fun games and a regular qualifying DAM team event.

Jake the Semidachshund and I teamed with Mysti the Border Collie and Haley the Zimbabwe Retriever.
 The back side of a DAM team. (Really, so you could see our Dream Weaver shirts, each with a photo of our own dog weaving.)
 Remington the Squirrelhund teamed with Spike the Border Newf  and Boomer the Border Collie.

 Remington and me.

Jeez, who ARE all those young handlers with our dogs?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Foster That Involved A Whole Lot of Activity But Nothing Really Happened

SUMMARY: Quite a rollicking tale in which I did almost nothing at all.
I try, but it's hard not to have dogs who are my favorites. First there was Amber, my first dog on my own, and amazingly special to me. Then, a couple of years after she died, there was Remington, who became perhaps my favorite to date.

[amberphoto]
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So perhaps you might understand why, when this came up on my facebook page last Friday as "Foster home urgently needed!" from a local rescue organization, I had to get in touch.

Her description: "Belle is a beautiful, young female Shepherd mix. Like the majority of shelter dogs, she is shy at first, but with a little attention, she warms up and is friendly. She is slightly dominant, but not aggressive. She is kenneled with a friendly pittie and they get along fine."

I thought, "Hmm, maybe it's time for another big yella dog in my life again!" 

I've never fostered a dog before, so wasn't sure what was involved, but it seemed like that might be a good way to get to know the dog and decide whether she was for me. I sent email to the rescue and went to bed, got up early Saturday morning and went off to clean creeks. When I got home, there was email AND a phone message, saying, please get back to us ASAP because we have a ride for her this morning but they'll only be there from about 8:30 for a couple of hours.

So I left voice mail and email messages back saying, guess I missed the window, but give me a call if something changes. (Bakersfield is 4 hours from here, so it's not a trivial thing to pick her up and get her here.)

That afternoon, I got a phone call saying that they might have another ride for her if I was still interested.  Turns out that Belle has only one eye. I said that that probably wouldn't work for dog agility, so I wasn't a likely adopter, but I'd be interested in finding out what's involved in fostering her. We had a long conversation in which I was pretty cautious and also pointed out that I had to consult my renter, as well.

Yeah, it's my house, my life, but he lives here, too, and takes care of the dogs when I'm not home. I convinced him that I was very serious and sure, I'd owe him some big favors to be named later. I felt like I was trading baseball players with another team.

Meanwhile, they reposted the rescue with this message: "Belle is a young female Border Collie x Shep cross. She only has one eye, is very sweet but scared in the shelter and they're going to put her down. Another rescue is willing to sponsor her if anyone could foster her. They will pay her vet bills if anyone can help her. She is in Wasco shelter outside Bakersfield. We have a ride for her up to the Bay Area. Time is very very short for this beautiful girl so if you can foster or know someone who can foster, please let us know as soon as possible."

So I called back to say OK, and they thought that they might have a ride for her on monday or tuesday. So I casually started dogproofing the house a bit. (My dogs are really very good about knowing what's theirs, but who knows about some other dog.)

Then I got another message that they actually had a ride for her on Sunday if I could take her, and I said, um, sure, and got a little more serious in thinking about where I'd put a dog whom they didn't even know whether she was housebroken or ANYTHING. And thinking about what training I could do for her if she needed training. Like that.

Then Sunday I got an email that there had been a mix-up at the shelter and another rescue group had gotten her so they wouldn't need me after all.

So I went out for a few hours with my seester and her husby to the movies and lunch and shopping at REI, and while we were out, we made definite plans to go out of town for Memorial weekend.

When I got home, there was another message that it turns out that the other rescue group didn't have a place for her and was going to bring her up here after all. I called back and said, um, ok, but I just made plans to go out of town next weekend, so I could keep her for a few days but not through next weekend, and she said that's fine.

Then when they got her up to a vet up here to check her out, it turned out that there's an abscess on her face that the vet wanted to look at and keep her overnight, so they wouldn't need me until monday. (I wonder whether that had anything to do with her eye. Dunno. Didn't ask.) But the good news was they also had someone who was interested in possibly adopting her, so I might not have to keep her for very long.

I said I'd be working at my client site monday during the day, so could they bring her over her in the evening? And we made plans for how we'd take all the dogs (mine and Belle) to the nearby park to introduce them, and had some discussions on what would happen if for some reason Belle did NOT play nicely with my dogs, and like that again. And I might have to have her for only one night because the potential adopter wanted to meet her on Tuesday evening, so I added those dates to my calendar.

I started thinking about what I'd do with her at night (my dogs sleep on my bed) and what I'd use for a crate (i have soft crates and they might not work for a dog who's not thoroughly crate trained) and where I could put the x-pen instead, and so on.

Monday at work, I got another email saying that the vet still didn't like the look of the abscess so he was going to keep her for another night, and then she was going to meet her potential adopter Tuesday night, so they didn't need me after all at all.

And that was that.

I haven't checked whether she really was placed, or her health status, or anything else.

I sure spent a lot of time on the phone and in email and in various conversations for something that never actually happened! But she did say that, if I hadn't offered to foster her, they wouldn't have been able to get her out of the pound, so in fact I did a huge good deed without having ever to do anything else other than offer.

And then we had to cancel our planned out-of-town trip due to serious illness in seester's husby's family. Ah, well, at least my peaceful life with the Merle Girls continues.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another Device Dog Owners Shouldn't Be Without

SUMMARY: The Tick Key!
Bummer that I never got around to setting up my web site so that, when someone clicks through from Taj MuttHall to buy something, I get 3 cents for it, because you will all want this, I guarantee it.

I am completely sold. No more tweezers, pluckers, grabbers for me. This has worked amazingly well. An agility friend--Jersey and Sheila's Human Mom--showed it to me when we were out hiking, and I was mildly skeptical about the gimmick factor, but it worked nicely for her, so I ordered one (purple, of course) and have had it since mid-winter.

O.M.G! It works so well, on my dogs. Pure genius! The big seller today is that, after my romp in the creek bed on saturday, it never occurred to me to check myself for ticks. So there I was at work, scratched at my scalp, and there was a daggummed tick. I could barely see it in the mirror, it was far enough around my skull. Fortunately the tick key was in the car. I was able to get it under the tick and remove the little bloodsucker with almost no effort at all, and no pinching or squeezing as it comes off (which you're supposed to avoid so that you don't squish any disease into your dog, which is difficult to avoid at times).

I am SO SOLD on this thing. Before, when ticks have liked my hair, it's been off to the doctor's office or find a nearby assistant with some experience at pulling ticks off. This replaces all that.

Well worth the $7 or whatever they charge.

Here's their web site: http://www.tickkey.com/; some pet stores carry it, too.

They even have a youtube video on how to use it, if you're not too squeamish to see ticks close up.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

International Agility--Jumps

SUMMARY: A creative idea in agility equipment.
June 12, 2011: Replaced some photos and added more!
One of the things that I've always loved about dog agility is the joyful, pure, brilliant colors of the equipment against the green grass of an agility field.

Jim B has been refurbishing and building jumps for use at Power Paws, and I love love LOVE the glossy paints he's using; the colors gleam at me and lift my spirits. But, even more, he's now deliberately turning the agility field into an international experience for those of us who tend to stick close to home with our dogs.

THe project's still under way, but it's so much fun, I thought I'd share.

Brazil:

Argentina:

Germany:

France:

Mexico or Italy, maybe still TBD:

Sweden:

Japan:

USA:

Spain:

And...Canada or Switzerland, take your pick...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Creek Cleanup

SUMMARY: Take that, you evil plastic bags!
Today was National River Clean-up Day. I spent a couple of hours along Canoas Creek near my house with other volunteers.

The creek was amazingly clear of trash, although we did haul out a few small bags of stuff. A few years back, I helped along the Guadalupe River and we hauled out dumpsters worth of stuff. People today told me that Canoas Creek was like that a few years back when they first started. Now, not nearly so bad.

Here I am after a successful plastic-bag-picking-up morning. (Also snack wrappers, broken glass. Not much else. Except balls. Lots of balls.)

Go here: http://elf1.smugmug.com/Events/River-Clean-Up-Day-May-2011/ to see all my photos for the day, with the usual captions.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Class Night

SUMMARY: Everything's normal and the photos are all blurry.
We all went to class last night. I ran just fine, although I did warm up a bit more than usual to be sure I could run. Tika did everything right; Boost did almost everything right--great weaves!--and knocked at least one bar every exercise. Normal normal normal.

Watching the other dogs run is inspiring.
Silvina and TCam demonstrate their pretty new high-five trick.
Silvina brought empanadas and Jim likes that. So do the rest of us.
Nancy never holds still long enough for a photo.
Stacy and Roo (?) are new to our class. That curly tail never stops being curled!
Isn't that just the cutest border collie in the known universe? Now she has FOUR different colors in her eyes!
OK, if Tika can't have the treats on the chair, she'll check between every blade of grass for crumbs, since I never feed the poor thing.
I intended to get a photo of Tracey and Cal coming towards us. Apparently this camera is confused.
Boost loves watching the other dogs run.
Oh--wait--that's not Boost!  Imagine that you and your siblings grew up and moved out and then your parents had more kids. Here's Boost and her little sister TCam, who already knocks a whole lot fewer bars than Boost does. But not zero. They were working on not being rewarded for knocking bars.
Sisters! And then my camera filled up and I couldn't remember how to delete a couple of photos so I could try some better shots. Next week!