a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maybe My Blog Should Be Like This

SUMMARY: A funny web site, mostly entirely not about dogs.
This is not what I was going to blog about. I was going to talk about buttons with pictures of border collies. Instead, I have been spending way too much time this weekend reading  27b/6.

In particular, because there is sort of a dog involved, this one had me laughing so hard that not only Boost, but also Tika, came over to check and see whether they should go find Timmy to save me from falling down a well. And Tika's pretty easy-going about the noises I make when sitting at my computer, except for the occasion when I shove the chair back from the screen and say in a frustrated and perhaps angry tone, "HellOOOooo?!", in which case she'll jump up and bark at the front door just in case.

Anyway, this is the particular post. It's really about rules for the sake of rules, and bears. But it is peripherally about dogs.

If you read enough of his posts, you'll see that half the time he makes stuff up. But he usually does it while carrying on email conversations with people who annoy him in one way or another. He says all the things that you wish that you could say, and somehow through being annoying and inventive and ridiculous, he usually gets somewhere.  He also post about his friends and coworkers with their knowledge--or not--  Warning: Some of his posts are a bit coarse, and might make people uncomfortable. Here are some others of his that had me gasping for breath and I think are not in the particularly coarse set except maybe the last one:

Or you can read about the author and his web site on Wikipedia. My recommendation is to not get started, because if you like his stuff, you will be there for hours. Instead, go take a hike with your dogs, which was the other thing i was supposed to do this morning and didn't.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


SUMMARY: Another amazingly useful agility site
I don't know how I missed this one: googility, a site chock full of web sites related to agility, organized by type of site, and all in a nifty database that anyone can add more info to, so it will (we hope) never go out of date or be badly organized.

And I don't know how I missed it, because it's made by a blogger whom I read, Agility Nerd. Who also just recently created this nifty course-generating site, agilitycourses.com.

And I found out about googility through this Team Small Dog post. So--thanks, TSD and Agility Nerd!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Give Me a Head with Hair

SUMMARY: Human Mom went to the groomer's.
After 25 years with essentially the same hairstyle--for example--1998:

or 1990 (I'm the one without the sunglasses):

I decided I'd try growing it out again the way I had it for most of those previous 25 years--for example, 1974 (no bangs, just hanging down as long as it ever got)--

Buuuuuut now, after a bit over 3 months, I decided that was a bad idea. So here I was this morning (ewww, weird expression, sorry--hair just kind of hanging there, in the way):

And here I am, back from the groomer:
I think I'll stay this way for a while.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shopping and Dogs

SUMMARY: Dogs like going places but they're limited.
Last night, when I went to pick up my purse at the ice cream shop, I took the dogs with me. They were, as always, thrilled to be somewhere new. I couldn't take them into the shop (dogs+food=big no-no legally), so I shortened their leashes, hitched them to a rain spout outside the shop, told them to Down, and left them there.

(In our world, Sit or Down mean "don't get up until you're released.")

I could see them through the glass storefront, so everything was fine.

They were very excellent girls, even though we don't proof longer sits or downs much at all.

When I returned and released them, several people made comments about what nice dogs they were. One guy said he has a "mini-Border Collie" (25 lbs), rescued from a puppy mill, whom they exercise enthusiastically every day. Good for him!

I think that well-behaved dogs--particularly those who can do a down stay in a public area!--are a good way to keep the public in favor of allowing dogs in other public places. I'm just glad that no one walked by with another dog.

Today I dashed over to the other mall to return the wallet I'd bought, and really couldn't take the dogs with me. There is a boutique dog store there, and I see people in that shop with their dogs, big and small, on occasion, but I wanted to get some lunch and do a little grocery shopping, so they stayed home.

But this group of people was shopping at Old Navy with their dog, so I asked them to pose for a photo, which they gladly did, and very organized about it, too. And such a well-behaved dog!

There was quite a supply of interesting hats that I could consider adding to my collection.

Mario brothers hat, complete with moustache!

Hand-knit animal hats! You could get just about any type of animal, any color! (These are just the ones in the front window.) But I didn't want to pay $20 for a hat that will go in the attic and be worn only once in a blue moon. $5 at a garage sale, you bet I would!

I checked out the Halloween costumes at Tarzhay ("Target"), 30% off. Quite a few dog costumes, but nothing that cried out "Boost" or "Tika" (although the bunch of grapes was cute). I bought one silly hat. Photo will eventually appear in facebook, in a month or two probably.

But who needs costumes when you can buy high-heeled hiking boots in an actual regular store? I could be ready for more hikes with the dogs AND be a plate of fashion as well!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What It Costs for a Purse to Go Missing

SUMMARY: Plus a rude ending.
Note: I revised this text about 90 minutes after first posting it; changes are in red.
Hours used--all spent on this instead of calling stucco companies before the rain starts to get my house's stucco repaired. This did not happen. Not happy about that. It has now been raining for a day and there is water in my wall. But I figured that was the lower priority to having my finances in shambles.

(Edited text--) So, after I called Cold Stone Creamery first thing Wednesday morning after I realized that it was missing (and had been since Saturday) and emphasizing that I'd really like to know whether they found my purse, and they called me back to say it definitely wasn't there, making me very sad indeed, here's what that "sorry, it's not here" triggered:

Time spent:
  • Checking all my bank and credit card accounts and phone account to be sure that  no one had been using my money: 1 hr
  • Calling the mall, the campbell police, the friend who was with me when the purse vanished to see whether she remembered whether I took it to the car, my sister (2 calls) to see whether I had left it in their car: 1 hr
  • Searching high and low everywhere in the house and the garage obsessively, convinced that if wasn't at Cold Stone, it had to be here: 2 hrs
  • Days taken off work basically without pay (very expensive and I have a deadline that I'm now working this weekend to make up for): 1 hr
  • Try to set up an appointment at the DMV and failing because the next one isn't until Nov 17, driivng to the DMV, waiting in line, filling out the paperwork, waiting for over half an hour until they could fit me in: 1.5 hours
  • (Edited text--)Calling the bank and getting things suspended, going through 3 months of checking account statements (that's maybe 120 checks) to try to figure out whether there are any outstanding checks and remember to whom they were written and for how much, contact those people and send them replacement checks, drive to bank and time spent closing the accounts, opening new ones, getting the online account set up, ordering new checks: 5 hrs
  • Calling AT&T to suspend my cell phone account, reading up on cell phones, checking out cell phones and prices at 3 different stores, buying a new one, reading the instructions,  assembling the phone, half an hour on the phone with AT&T to get the account transferred to the new phone: 3 hrs
  • (New text--)Contacting my company about changing where my autodeposit goes, filling out the form, making a special trip to the post office to mail it because the deadline for this pay period is early next week: .5 hours.
  • Driving to mall, searching for purse that I like (no success) and for a wallet that I like (success),  assembling things (what little I have) into the wallet: 1.5 hours.
  • Looking up phone numbers or email addresses and contacting six different credit card companies, AAA, Red Cross, Kaiser, three dog agility associations, Costco, and REI--often through long an annoying automated phone systems: 3 hrs
  • Going through all my old paperwork to make sure I have the latest information on credit cards and other accounts and the account numbers, etc: 4 hours, maybe more.
  • Time spent finding old receipts and emailing and talking to Camera Cinemas because my discount prepaid admission card was in my wallet (no luck so far; they were going to look into it some more).
Money spent:
  • Well, there's the day off, which was pretty expensive.
  • Tossed $50 worth of checks that I had just recently ordered and bought new ones with overnight delivery: $70.
  • Replacement drivers license: $25.
  • New cell phone, new earpiece, new connector for the auto charger: $45
  • New wallet: $20
  • ...
Time other people spent:
  • My sister and her husband, calling each other and checking their car.
  • Campbell police person talking to me.
  • (Edited text--)All the people at all those other companies, answering my questions and dealing with my accounts and so on. They all get paid for their time--really, this thing rolls into quite widespread financial impact, doesn't it!
  • Camera theaters calling me back twice, getting the authority to look up financial transactions, trying to track down my specific discount card. 
  • (New text--)The office admin at my company, reading my email, finding me the form & getting it to me, making sure the paperwork is done to change my account.
Things I still need to do:(Edited list--)
  • Shred 2 boxes of checks, since that account no longer exists (maybe it's not strictly necessary, but rather be safe than sorry)
  • Figure out everything that is tied into my checking account or credit card, contact those places, and change them to the new accounts. Paypal, my web hosting site, my photo site, my domain name auto-renewal sites, my phone account auto-renewal... what else?
Other things I've been feeling sad about losing all week:
cell phone
cash (maybe $20-30)
theater tickets bought at discounts (maybe $70 worth)
gift card to book store
cross pen and pencil set
I dunno, a bunch of stuff

...Oh, wait. Who's calling me at 6 on a Sunday evening?

Well, hmm, it's Cold Stone Creamery! The guy was looking for something else and happened upon my purse, which someone had put in some odd place and hadn't bothered trying to contact me or tell anyone else, and if it wasn't the people who worked there last Saturday (whom the guy said he contacted), who was it and why didn't they do so?

(Basically all new text through the end--)
Can you say mixed feelings? I am VERY happy to get all my stuff back, very happy indeed! The camera, yowza! The wallet--that was custom from an art & wine festival leather worker, maybe 15 years ago and is still in great condition and is the perfect wallet for me, perfect! and (a) I'm not in a financial place to replace that right now, even if (b) I could find the info on who that was.  The cross pen & pencil set--has been with me for a long time, I'm thinking uhhhh, jeez, almost 25 years, actually replaced a set that was a gift that got left on an airplane in the mid-'80s. All those membership cards and things that I don't have to track down and replace now! And the money! And the movie tickets! And the gift certificate! And the purse that I pretty much like and don't have to spend another year finding another one to replace it!

Aaaaaaand not to mention the peace of mind that I'm not going to suddenly discover that my identity has been stolen.

Well, too late to return the cell phone--I've set up my account with the new sim card in the new phone, and I think I like it better than the old one anyway, and it really wasn't too expensive. I just pulled all the bits of paper that came with the wallet out of the paper recycling and I can return that tomorrow--it's none the worse for wear after 2 days.

I'm going to have to try calling the DMV to see what's next--it's illegal to own 2 drivers licenses, turns out. I doubt I'll get my $25 back, though.

I still have to do the things listed above, since all my accounts have been changed.

So, yes, I'm happy, and grateful that Cold Stone has honest employees.

And yet--well--all these many, many hours of my own and others, and spent money, could have been prevented on Tuesday morning when I called.  (Yeah, I know, if only I hadn't left it there in the first place. I deserved the frantic day of trying to figure out where it was and fearing the worst. But, really--my phone number was on my checks and on my business cards at the very least; it would've been so easy for someone to contact me if they wanted to that I had to assume that someone with ill intent had taken it after all.)

Eventually continued here: DMV Service is--Um--Improving?

Related post: Month of Losing Dangerously

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where is My Purse?

SUMMARY: In which we get a tour, of sorts, of the Taj MuttHall house.
No, this isn't a repeat of the Facebook meme from the beginning of the month ("I like it on..."), for which I posted in my status, "I'm not sure whether I like it there, but it often ends up being in the pile of dog hair in the hallway."

This is real, and it is making me nuts. As in, It Has To Be Here Somewhere Because Nothing Else Makes Sense--But Then How Come I Can't Find It? nuts.

So--Saturday morning, I had it in my office to charge the USDAA Nationals live webcast to my credit card. That was the last non-automatic thing charged to my card. Then I packed up and went to the movies with a friend. ("Red." Liked it; light, entertaining action fare.) While there, had a large popcorn that I ate only part of. Had a chicken walnut salad that I ate only part of.

After the movie, when stopped in at Cold Stone Creamery. I was carrying my purse, a popcorn bag, and a salad container. I hung the purse on the chair because it was a little tiny table and we needed the room for my other stuff and our ice cream. We sat and ate (I had raspberry sorbet mixed with chocolate chips and crumbled heath bar--ooooooohhh yeah!), I collected my stuff, we walked to our cars which were parked side by side, I drove home, put the salad in the fridge, and sat and watched the USDAA Nationals through most of saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday morning and early afternoon. Then I did quite a few billable hours here at my computer the rest of Sunday.

Monday, I worked an 11-hour day here, with breaks only for a walk over to the park with the dogs.

Tuesday, I also worked pretty solidly through, finally getting ready to go out to the theater with another friend, and I checked to be sure my purse was in the car.

It wasn't.

Not under the front seat where it usually is.
Not anywhere around the front seats (although the popcorn bag was still there, and THREE baseball caps for wearing at dog agility, plus a blue leopard-spotted plush slip lead for dog agility).  No purse.

It wasn't in the back. I even looked IN the dog crates, although given my schedule since Saturday, there's no reason it would have been there. Just being thorough.

I looked in the garage on either side of the car in case, somehow, it had fallen out and I hadn't noticed it. Didn't seem likely, but I looked anyway. No purse.

And it wasn't in the house in any of the two or three possible places. Like in the pile of dog hair in the hallway, next to the table where I keep my car keys, which is where I usually drop it when I occasionally take it into the house.

I couldn't remember when I had been in my sister's car to go out to dinner with them so I called them; turns out, it was Friday night, but they checked anyway; no purse in their car.

Fortunately, I hadn't yet put the theater tickets into my wallet, so I drove downtown, enjoyed the show immensely ("Secret Order," exploring ethics and altruism versus money and glory in scientific research, go see it if you have a chance), borrowed 3 bucks from my friend to get my car out of parking hock and drove home.

When I got home, I looked everywhere where I might usually put my purse when I (very rarely) take it into the house. At the kitchen table, where I work on my bill paying and budgets. Nope.

At my desk, where I buy things online.

I even got on my hands and knees and looked under the desk and behind the things under the desk. Nope. Although there was something very cute there for a while.

Then I figured it had to be at Cold Stone Creamery, since I couldn't actually remember picking it up and taking it to the car. But odd that no one would've tried to contact me.  They didn't open until 11:00 this morning, but I called first thing.  They called the people who worked there Saturday. Nope, they hadn't seen anything.

So then I started looking in all the places that it made no sense for the purse to be.  Did I stop and grab a soda from the soda shelves on my way into the house and set the purse there? Not likely, and sure enough: Nothing.

Did I rush home and go into that room where, sometimes, you know, you have to rush to after you've been out and about for a few hours? Well,  nope. Dog toys, reading material, dragon seat cover, the usual.

But if you ever get a chance to read the cover article in this issue of Time, it's quite interesting!

 Way back when I first moved here, 9 years ago, I sometimes hung it from the handle of the coat closet in the front hall. Haven't done so in many years. But looked anyway.

I even peeked into the Official Dining Room, which tends to be the Official Project Spot. No purse. I couldn't remember having gone in there for a week, anyway, to check something in the Yellow Pages.
I checked next to the phone in the kitchen in case, for some reason, I had wanted to use the phone list from my purse, which incidentally is identical to the phone list by the phone, so it didn't seem likely, but it's gotta be SOMEwhere, right?

I didn't even go into the Living Room, which I haven't been able to get into for weeks because I've been working on a photo project involving dog agility ribbons. I did peer around the parts I could get to, though, in case the purse had fallen in there. (From out of thin air? Dunno where it could have fallen FROM. But it HAS to be here SOMEwhere, right????)

I even looked here.

I also called the shopping center where Cold Stone Creamery lives, and they checked, and they'd had nothing turned in.

I called my friend with whom I saw the movie and had ice cream. She remembers that I hung my purse on the chair because she decided to drop her purse on the floor. But she doesn't remember one way or the other whether I took the purse with me along with my popcorn and salad when we walked back to the car.

I even tried calling my cell phone (which incidentally has about $200 worth of unused prepaid calling on it), but I usually have it turned off, and sure enough, I just got my voice mail.

So here are the options as I see it:
  • I left it on the chair at Cold Stone Creamery, and someone with ill intent took it, removed everything of value, and dumped the rest in the trash, where I'll never see it again. In which case  my discount card for the theaters that I just paid $60 for is gone, and so it my point-and-shoot digital camera, my driver's license, all my credit cards, my check register, my cash (fortunately only maybe $20 at the moment), my Weight Watchers membership/history book, all my store membership cards--you know the routine--are gone. And, oh yeah, my cell phone. And in which case right now I need to start making phone calls and visits to banks and DMVs and things like that, which considering that I have a tight deadline this week at work and really need to be putting in long hours, that doesn't sit so well.
  • I took it away from Cold Stone Creamery, so it was in my car, and someone walked through the gate into my back yard, into the side garage door, opened the car, took my purse (and nothing else from anywhere) and left again. This assumes that they'd have a reason for trying this, and I can't think of any reason and this doesn't seem likely.
  • It's GOT TO BE HERE SOMEWHERE. But where? I can think of nowhere else it could be. I swear I've looked everywhere that it could remotely possibly be, and I've not had that "ah ha!" moment where I remember that I did something odd. I thought that maybe by taking pictures of all the weird places, maybe it would get me looking in more oddball places and I'd find it. But no. Really, I can't think of any reason why I'd have taken it out of my car after Saturday's trip out.
Or could this be some odd karma from May of 2009, remember when everything was stolen from my car except that, through a weird and unlikely series of unusual events, my wallet wasn't taken? And I was SO relieved that, although I had to be screwed by my insurance company and spend a year gradually finding replacements for everything large and small that was taken, I at least didn't have to go through cancelling and replacing everything in my wallet?

Meanwhile--out of groceries, low on gas, all that.  I think I updated my list of "what's in my wallet" sometime within the last year, but that doesn't make it easier to get everything done. Very scary. I think I'd better start making some phone calls, because, in fact, I do NOT think It's Got To Be Here Somewhere any more.

Eventually continued here: What It Costs for a Purse to Go Missing

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Agility Partners

SUMMARY: With whom have my dogs partnered most often?
I have a database and I'm not afraid to use it.

There are at least 4 reasons in my agility history for having partners (or teammates) in dog agility:
  • Pairs Relay (USDAA regular titling class)
  • DAM Team Relay (USDAA tournament, 3 dogs in championship, 2 in performance)
  • Strategic Pairs (USDAA trials, a fun game that shows up from time to time for no credit)
  • WAG's Turkey Trot (another for-fun game that they run every Thanksgiving weekend)
Among all my dogs, we've done 7 Turkey Trots, 8 Strategic Pairs, and 266 USDAA Pairs or Team Relays.

The person with whom I've partnered the most has been Carlene Chandler, 26 times.  That's twice with Boost and her Border Collie Quik, once with Boost and her B.C. Brenn, and 23 times with Tika and Brenn.

The next most common is Mary Van Wormer, 15 times.  That's once with Jake and her Australian Cattle Dog Skeeter,  four times with Tika and Skeeter (actually overlapping with Carlene and Brenn because we were doing DAM team together), and 10 times with Boost and Boost's littermate Bette.

Very close to this is Gwen Tatsuno, 14 times--although for no particular reason not recently.  That's 5 times with Tika and her Border-Newf Spike, twice with Remington and Spike, once jake with Spike's littermate Bruno, twice Boost with her B.C. Savanna, and 4 times Tika and Savanna.

Not far behind that is Karey Krauter, 12 times: Twice Jake and her Belgian Shepherd Zephyr, once she ran Remington while I ran Jake (that was a disaster),  once Remington with Zephyr, three times Remington with her Tervuren Inyo, four times Tika with her B.C. Bump, and once Tika and her B.C. Styx. So Boost has never teamed with her, and I've never teamed with her and her baby dog Dig--but Dig is just working her way into Masters.

Then there's a big drop and the numbers start to cluster:
Barbara Snarr, 7 times:  4  with her BC mix Jersey and 3 with her BC mix Sheila.
Jim Basic, 6 times: Twice with Mick, twice with swift, once each with Spy and Wicked. (all BCs)
Lisa Williams, 6 times: Four times with her BC Carson, twice with her BC Steamer.
Dave Grubel, 6 times: 5 with his BC Killy and once he ran another person's Aussie (Sandia).
Holly Newman, 6 times: 4 with her mixed-breed Jasmine and twice with her BC Zack.
Kathleen Alles, 6 times: once with her BC Maggie and 5 with her BC Annie.
Tracey Sirbello, 6 times: twice with her mix Zelda and  4 with her Malinois Maiya

And five times each: Lisa Williams, Sue Rush, Leslie Bickel, Pat Kaufman, Nancy Damarodas.

Then we're down into quite a few 4s, 3s, and lots of 2s and 1s.  But there are still many, many people I've never teamed with, even after all those teams I've been on.

So many of the names and partnership among *all* of those runs I can look back and and remember  how they went and how we ended up partnering! It's astonishing what the mind retains.

Post-USDAA National Championships Notes

SUMMARY: Just a few thoughts and bits of info.

  • Blue merle collies! Many, many of them! Didn't used to see many of them at all. I like it!
  • Mixed-breed dogs ("All American" or "All Canadian"--love how many show up in the finals, but only in the non-22" heights pretty much.  For example, here are the breeds in Grand Prix championship finals:
    • 12":  1 toy poodle, 1 mixed breed, 2 JRTs, 3 papillons (the top 3 dogs going in)
    • 16": 2 min poodles, 8 shelties, 3 mixed breed, 1 pyrenean shepherd, 1 rat terrier, 1 border collie
    • 22": 21 border collies,  1 kelpie, 2 australian shepherds (nice to not be quite *all* BCs)
    • 26": 16 border collies (yeah, well, I spoke too soon)
  •  Ashley and Luka have heart-stopping runs, they push so much beyond any other competitors. Running like that, you either win (in Steeplechase) or have a fractional second of bad timing on the next to the last jump and end up with the fastest time but an E (grand prix), but none-the-less amazing to watch.
  • Johann the Dog has done an awesome job of collecting all the podium finishers, maps, running lists, and everything else in one single page here. If it's not all updated quite yet, I'm sure it will be shortly.
  • Boost had two littermates competing in Louisville: Littermate Gina won the Steeplechase quarterfinals; they are astonishingly fast  with their full-speed running contacts!  But unfortunately they eliminated in the semifinals. Boost's littermate Beck and her teammates made it to the Team final round. And Beck had a nice run, although a teammate was off course.  Boost stayed home.
  • I love watching the final rounds of pretty much everything. The peak of dog agility, over and over in every run!
  • I think Dave Grubel did a great job as the G.P. finals judge--he was basically invisible, which I think is as it should be. The judge should always be well out of the way of the handler and dog, and of course their calls ideally would all be spot-on and noncontroversial, which seemed to be the case. Whew! Nice work, Bay Teamer!

I think that's all I have to say for today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's All About Whom You Know

SUMMARY: Watching the USDAA Nationals live.
I gave in and subscribed to the live feed for $20. Cheapest way to watch the national championship finals, for sure! I wasn't going to, but I've been hanging on every facebook post of people who are there and the usdaa facebook page, and I've dreamed about it the last 2 nights. I've seen the final rounds every year since 2000 except the 2 years they were in Texas; I'd really miss seeing them.

Especially since people I know will be competing.

I've found that agility really is more interesting when there are people I know involved. And I don't mean just people that I know who they are. I mean, Marcus Topps and Joe Lavalley and so many other familiar names are perennial top competitors, but I've never actually spoken to them.

And Jen Pinder, Susan Garrett, Karen Holik, and so many additional other names are people I've taken seminars from or been in Power Paws Camp sessions with, but I don't actually *know* them, you know? Like, as in, would they remember *me*?

No, it's all the folks I see weekend after weekend, year after year, who make it all particularly interesting for me. These aren't even "close personal friends," as celebrity hosts are fond of saying; just people I know and talk to and interact with and, yes, even like, because they're wonderful folk.

There's Otterpop and Laura Hartwick, who attended their first nationals ever this year. I knew and watched Otterpop long before I knew anything about Laura or Team Small Dog (one of the most entertaining agility blog reads around)--I mean, who couldn't love a feisty little black mixed-breed named Otterpop? Since then, I've had a lot of email and in-person conversations with Laura, and keep up to date on TSD. They qualified for semis in both Grand Prix and Steeplechase, and had clean runs in both, but (frowny face here) not quite fast enough to make the cuts for the finals.

There's the amazing border collie Cassidy and Diana Wilson, whom I got to know a bit better the year we traveled to scottsdale together and shared a hotel room, back when the amazing border collie Cassidy and Boost were still puppies not even a year old. Cassidy, when she runs clean, blows away the times of everyone else in the universe. Sadly, they had an offcourse this afternoon in Grand Prix semis, so won't be in the finals this year. Don't know what happened in Steeplechase.

And belgian tervuren Wings and Rob Michalski, who won Steeplechase last year with a fabulous run. I've known Rob since he was running an Aussie, long before Hobbes the Border Collie and Wings the Terv. He was one of the founding members of The Bay Team, and I've talked with him about so many things (casually) through the years, from Bay Team business to photography to just anything on the sidelines. Sigh, just found out that they Eed in Grand Prix semis, but they will be running in Steeplechase finals tonight.

And B.C. Heath and Terry LeClair in performance. Heath is another one of those most-fast dogs that you've never heard of, and Terry is one of the most amazing handlers particularly considering the size of the body that he moves around the ring--he *always* gets to where he needs to be, putting me to shame. We chitchat at almost every trial, seems like. We've been DAM team partners. They had tiny bobbles on their courses this year, just enough to drop them about a second below qualifying times, so we won't see them in the finals, either, but I loved watching their progress.

Of course there's B.C. Icon and Channan Fosty, whom I first talked to several years back when she was running her Beauceron, because it was (yeah) an unusual breed to begin with, let alone in agility. I've stalked her (and every other bay teamer) at trials and nationals for ages, taking candid photos, and see her almost every weekend.

The supersonic Papillon Tantrum and J.D. Dunn, another Bay Teamer, is also a vet and she's helped me from time to time over the last few years with issues with my dogs at trials, like the first couple of times that Tika came up sore and I didn't know what was going on. She was there and watching this past summer when Tika took off and swallowed a sandwich and its plastic wrap from someone's canopy, and reassured me about Tika's health.

Not to mention Luka and Ashley Deacon. Besides Luke being another unusual breed (Pyrenean Shepherd), which always attracts me, we were in class together for a 2 or 3 years from when he was still basically a beginner and I was watching them from the sidelines in their advanced runs. I was one of maybe a dozen people at the entire Scottsdale site who knew who he was when he and Luka first appeared from nowhere in the Steeplechase finals and won. I doubt that I was as excited as he was, but it was pretty darned exciting.

B.C. Kir and Katie Tolve I've known casually for several years. Katie was in class with me before she had her B.C.; she was running a Bernese Mountain Dog who was amazingly fast for what you expected from the breed, and Katie did a fantastic job with training and handling. And she's done the same with Kir; I think this is the 2nd time they've made it to the USDAA finals, which speaks volumes.

And one more: Dave Grubel, who is not only judging, but is judging the premier event tomorrow evening, the Grand Prix finals! I've never known him well--he's kind of reserved (yeah, true, or at least when I'm around)--but we've been pairs relay partners off and on, hmm, in looking at my notes, maybe more than any other partner (that's a surprise to me). Lately his B.C. Killy and my Boost have been teaming up repeatedly, with a Q rate that's not too bad. They're both really fast, which is good and usually makes up for one or the other of them also usually having a fault on course.

There aren't a lot of Bay Teamers out there this year; not surprisingly, since it's such a long, involved trip. Have I left anyone out?

OK, they're now announcing Elicia Calhoun with her annual presentation for canine cancer prevention, which kicks off the evenings Steeplechase (performance and championship) finals, so here I go, to watch, and cheer on my friends and everyone else.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere, But--

SUMMARY: Blog Action Day 2010: Water.
"Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year's topic is water." (Read more about Why Water here.)

I signed up Taj MuttHall to post about the topic because it's on our minds almost constantly here in California, and possibly in most of the rest of the world. For example, fights among those who want water from the Sacramento River are never-ending: The salmon and other wildlife that depend on the flow of fresh water, the fishing industry that depends on the salmon runs, the central valley farmers, the people in the cities of the San Francisco Bay Area, and--yes--Los Angeles, which pumps huge quantities of our northern California water hundreds of miles south.

And there is simply not enough to go around. Fish are dying. Orchards are dying. The alkalinity of our water goes way up in the summer--salty water in the Sact'o delta intermingles with the fresh flowing water.

But of course we're nowhere near as badly off as many hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world, who are sometimes lucky to get water at all, let alone clean water, let alone water for their livestock, or subsistence crops.

It's a huge topic; so much to talk about. But I'm just going to nip off a little slice and point out how some Californian agility clubs are trying to help with one of the problems:

"The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. " (Read more.)

We actually have some of the safest, cleanest drinking water in the world coming out of our taps, but people don't trust it, or don't like the taste, or whatever--so they buy--yes!--tap water from someone else's tap, bottled into "disposable" plastic bottles. I'm as guilty as anyone else; I like the convenience.

For the first few years that I did agility, I saved all my water bottles, rinsed or washed them after every use, and refilled with clean tap water. Then I got busy (or busier), and the time spent washing and refilling got to be too much for me, so I went back to buying bottled water.

I do try to always recycle my bottles--but the news has reported that the city recycling service can't always find buyers for the plastic and it might sometimes end up in the landfill anyway. Depressing.

I have half a dozen refillable water bottles now--sturdy ones, meant to be reused. I still don't always like to carry them: They're bulkier than teh disposable ones, and heavier, and I have to always take them home with me, not simply drop into a convenient trash can or recycling bin. But I'm trying to be better about it. I've bought a lot less bottled water this year than in recent years.

Our SMART agility club last year gave out reusable water bottles with their logo as check-in goodies at their trials. Great idea, and I still see some of them around at trials. I still have, and use, mine.

The other thing that most clubs are now doing is making huge jugs of water available for people to refill their bottles from. Sometimes in place of coolers full of disposable bottles; sometimes in addition to them.

It's not a perfect solution: Someone has to keep those jugs refilled all weekend, and it's not likely to be cold water for the difficulty of getting and using ice all weekend. But it's a start. And it's getting people thinking.