a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: September 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

We Need To Get Out More

SUMMARY: Limited dog activities equals limited interesting photos

There's a new chat channel at work for sharing dog photos, with a different theme daily. I often think, oh, yeah, I have a photo of Tika or Boost or Remington or... doing that! And then I think, jeez, I never do anything with Chip and Zorro. (Which makes the challenges of taking them places worse and worse...)

So last night I took them to the pet store. Early success--Chip jumped right into the car (not the crate; the center of the car through the door, which he wouldn't do even there last weekend when I tried). So that's progress again. No idea why sometimes he decides that getting into the car is evil.  Actually--after last night--maybe I do: Too many scary experiences? Such a worry-wart.

I took one dog at a time into the store. Chip looked a wee concerned about visiting soil and trees in the parking lot, but moved along pulling hard at the leash.  Trotted through the automatic doors looking a little worried still, sniffed at the huge pallet of dog food just inside, and then, when my back was turned (I might have pulled the leash and said, come on), he slipped a little maybe? and there he was in that "I don't know how to stand up on this scary slippery floor and I'm too scared to lie down" pose. Oh, right, I forgot the whole incident at the guest house over 4th of July. I got him up, he took a few ugly muscles-locked steps, tail between his legs, and then froze. I finally got him another 20 feet in, where he dove for the the cashier's mat behind the cash register. So I said, "let's go outside," turned and headed for the exit, and he trotted quickly and without incident the whole way across the floor, tail low but not between his legs. 

Outside, I walked him down the sidewalk a little way, then back into the store. He was fine until he got to the exact spot where he went halfway down the first time, stopped short, started to skirt it, then went back into the "I don't know how to stand up on this scary slippery floor" mode. So I took him back to the car.

Next up: Zorro. Overstimulated just being out of the car as I walked calmly thru the parking lot. I had a pocket full of Zuke's treats (which Chip had had no interest in from the beginning = fear stress = would *you* eat if you were scared?). Zorro actually turned and looked at me when I said his name, so we practiced a couple of sits, then letting him sniff around, then more name-call and response, and then, finally, a Down. (Rewards for each success! Yay!) Across the parking lot and into the store. He's whine-yipping the whole time... not loudly, not constantly, but still overexcited. We walked up and down a couple of aisles, letting him sniff almost as much as he wanted to. When we passed aisles with dogs, he looked and whined but no horrid reactivity; good boy.  (He even Sat when the clerk told him to for a treat!) So I took him back out while we were still successful.

Chip was in his crate, standing, tail between his legs, when I opened the door. Traumatized by being left in the car? Left alone in the car?  No wonder he wants to stay home.

Such a challenge.  I felt so on edge with both of them that I didn't dare take the time for any kind of photo.

We need to get out more.  I will try.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

What's With This Mr Fox No.12 Thing Anyway?

SUMMARY: A little actual explanation.

Updated several hours after the original post--scroll down to the end for the breaking news.

Two or three or four years ago, posts between Sidney Thompson and various friends started popping up in my Facebook feed. They were witty, clever, entertaining, educated... sometimes made me laugh out loud. As I learned more, I discovered that Sidney is a Kromfohrländer, an uncommon dog breed that makes for cute and energetic photos, who lives in Cornwall, England, and performs uncommon activities (for a dog. Actually for a person, too).

Sidney in a contemplative moment.
And Sidney rules the world. I mean, not just like an ordinary pet would: He is fabulously wealthy (owns estates, islands, and possibly entire countries), fabulously talented (I believe that he once won both Wimbledon and the Tour de France on the same weekend), fabulously successful (he has run for  Prime Minister on several occasions), deeply generous (he allows his Assistants to sleep in the cubby under the stairwell despite their frequent pathetic activities).

And about the Assistants--poor, abused, ignorant slaves that they are--they post for him on FB (he's likely too busy to bother) and he dispenses wisdom through them.  It's always clear when he's being quoted:
Sidney says it's his 7th birthday today and let's face it, with all the doomsters, purveyors of misery and general negative thinking out there, he's sure his friends will join him in celebrating a true global community and positive force for good. For those that can't handle colour in their lives, here he is in black and white (as a pup) he says.
or such snapshots of his life:
Sidney says autumn is officially here and the grand fireplace has been brought back into use. It’s a rainy night so he’s sent his assistants outside to chop wood, he says.
Somewhere along the line, Sidney and Mr Fox (who eventually became No.1) met up and formed a partnership. Mr Fox No.1 traveled a bit and posted photos of himself doing fun things.  Fans of Sidney started clamoring for Mr Fox to visit *them*, too, so they could take Mr Fox to fun places and do fun things. Lo, it was discovered that Mr Fox was just one in a litter of some as-yet undefined huge number of Mr Foxes-- first about 7, then maybe 10, then about 16 by 2017 as reported in Vogue...

...then by Sept 2018 even more...
Sept 2018: Sidney says as well as being his birthday today, not that he's making big deal of it or anything, it is also the birthday of all of the Mr Foxes. It was a rather large brood (as well as being a big lass their mother was a real vixen). Below is a list of all the Mr Foxes. Sidney would be grateful if they could be pampered for the rest of the day, he says:
  • Mr Fox no.1: Top Fox. @ Sidney HQ.
  • Mr Fox no.2: Breaking Bad fox @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.3: Roxy Foxy, in Sidney's limousine @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.4: Mr Typically Tropical (f.k.a. Ultrafox). Worldwide traveller. Currently having a rest @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.5: a.k.a Twiggy. Living the dream with Auntie Chris (HAG, AA) and Auntie Cynthia in Salt Lake City, USA
  • Mr Fox no.6: a.k.a. Trevr. Living with Auntie Gail (SHAG, AA) in Colorado, USA.
  • Mr Fox no.7 & Mr Fox no.9: the original Australian foxes. Currently resting @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.8: Arctic Fox. Living with Auntie Virva (SHAG) and Bruce the Moose in Oulu, Finland.
  • Mr Fox no.10: a.k.a Mr fox no.10 from no.10. Living with Auntie Catherine (SHAG SAG SNOG) at Cotterill Towers, Stafford.
  • Mr Fox no.11: a.k.a. Brendan Foxter. London Marathon runner. Living with Uncle Andy (MUG) in Cheshire, also his running partner and personal trainer.
  • Mr Fox no.12: California Fox. Living a hippy lifestyle with Auntie Ellen (AA) in San Jose.
  • Mr fox no.13: Lady Vixen a.k.a. Dark Fox. f.k.a. Lucky Fox. Shacked up with Sidney's nemesis Sparkle the Cat, NTAL and Auntie Judith (HAG) at Beamer's Castle in Porthleven, Cornwall.
  • Mr Fox no.14: Mr Chelan Fox. Living with Auntie Gailanne (HAG, AA) next to Lake Chelan, Washington State, USA.
  • Mr fox no.15: Living with Cousins Elsa and Will and Auntie Karin (AA) in Peoria, Illinois.
  • Mr Fox no.16: OzFox resting in Perth, Western Australia with Uncle Rob (MUG) & Auntie Ellie having completed a 20,000km circumnavigation of Australia on a motorbike and then crossed it again just to visit IKEA in Brisbane.
  • Mr Fox no.17: Baltic Fox or Konsta's Fox. With Cousin Konsta and Milla in Savonlinna, Finland.
  • Mr Fox no.18: The new Ultrafox. Living with Auntie Sylvia and Uncle Wolfgang near Vienna / Wien.
  • Mr Fox no.19: Hendricks Pinkman or 'HP Fox', a.k.a Neville's Fox. Living with little bro' Neville, Auntie Carol (SNOG) and Uncle Paul (MUG) in Reading, UK.
  • Mr Fox no.20: Living with Auntie Susann in Hannover.
  • Mr Fox no.21: Tamar Fox, living with Auntie Sally in the Tamar Valley.
  • Mrs Fox no.22: Brigit Bordeaux. Living with Auntie Ozzy & Cousin Mes in Frankfurt.
  • Mr Fox no.23: Wire Terrier Fox (WTF). Living with cousin Bertie Pickle, Auntie Tracey (SNOG) and Uncle Neil in the Hundred Acre Wood, Narnia.
  • Mr Fox no.24: Retro Fox, Living with Uncle Paul Jones (MUG) in Essex.
  • Mr Fox no.25: Africa Fox, living with Auntie Fiona Cameron (SHAG SNOG) in London.
  • Mr Fox no.26: a.k.a. Huron Valley Fox, living with Auntie Mary Dixon (AA) in Michigan, USA.
  • Mr Fox no.27: Living with Auntie Brydie (SHAG SAG) in Staffordshire
  • Mr Fox no.28: Wees Fox, living with Auntie Jan (AA) at Wees Farm, New Jersey.
  • Mr Fox no.29: living with Auntie-in-Chief Oma Carla, Staffordshire
  • Mr Fox no.30: Blaze's Fox, with Uncle Paul in north Essex.
2019 birthday update: 
Sidney says Auntie Virva just reminded him of this comprehensive list of his Mr Foxes. He's aware that a year ago his assistants should have sent Mr Fox no.31 to Auntie Georgette and there are a couple more homes that deserve a Mr Fox as well. Please bear in mind that his assistants are of a very limited ability and barking at them doesn't have any effect. Believe him he's tried, he says.
The original plan, when only a few Fox brethren had been discovered, was that each fox would stay with someone a while and then that someone would mail it on to the next person on the list.  Well, somehow, some Mr Foxes started being assigned permanent positions.  Right now, it's not entirely clear to me which of our Mr Foxes really should be moving along to new assignments.

Sidney also has the most astounding team of creatures who surround him; Mysterious Sue who speaks only in morse code, knows all and sees all and, I believe, can see the future, for example. (If one sees photos of them all, they look like your regular stuffed toys, but wow what an unusual collection with the creative names that always give me a smile.)

And, it also turns out, Sidney bestows titles on some of his followers.  I started commenting on Sidney's posts and then posting posts to Sidney's page after he accepted my friend request, and it continued giving me fun. Suddenly, during one of the annual award ceremonies, I was promoted to... OMG I don't remember (Sidney is quite sad about my memory)... special reporting correspondent or such.  Pretty exciting for me!  But I was not yet an Auntie.  Auntiehood and Unclehood are bestowed only on those who go above and beyond some level of something that only Sidney and possibly Mysterious Sue understand.

And a year or so after that, to my surprise, I earned the basic Auntie title (AA), and then another year later, Auntie HAG ( where the HAG stands for something and again I've lost the post where it's all explained).

And also somewhere in there, Sidney sent Mr Fox No.12 to keep an eye on me!

Mr Fox No.12 ("Cal") at Morro Rock in Morro Bay.
Apparently not pleased with the scenery or the photographer.
So-- Mr. Fox No.12 came and we've done many many things together and I've barely posted a few of his photos anywhere--here or Facebook or my photo page. But, for reference, here are the Taj MuttHall posts that, so far, mention Mr. Fox, describe his arrival, or include photos of him (you might want to start with the oldest first).

And here are some photos that I don't believe have been posted anywhere yet...

Cal relaxing in the nifty old travel trailer that he rented one weekend via AirBNB.
The experience was delightful and full of flamingos, he says.

Cal found a taste of Europe here in California.  He's not sure how authentically Danish it is,
but there were windmills and pastries, so he was happy.

Here's my question: Which of my friends originally befriended Sidney, and how, and when? Because currently many, many of my friends are also his friends.  Maybe I should ask Mysterious Sue.

Update several hours after the preceding post:
Sidney says this is very comprehensive assessment, sufficiently fawning without stretching to sycophancy. He says AA stands for American Auntie and HAG is Holy Auntie Group. Auntie Ellen thoroughly deserves her Auntie status, he says
And Gailanne M., a friend from agility for quite a few years who now cohabits with Mr Chelan Fox in Washington state, lays claim in a thoroughly credible way to being Auntie Ellen AA HAG's introduction to Sidney's Little World of Happiness and Tennis BallsTM

Friday, September 27, 2019

That Addiction Thing

SUMMARY: Summary of my agility years
Facebook: Partially posted there Sept 27 '19. Edited here.

I might have covered this in previous posts. Who knows?!

Another handler posted a "warning" to a new competitor in a Facebook agility group that she started in agility just for something fun to do with her dog—and 10 years later she's an addict.

Hahahahaha!!! (I laugh with her, I'm sure...)

I know so many who are (or have been) in the same camp! In 1995 my life was full—work, house remodel, writing fiction, activities with spouse--and I was training hard with my dog (Remington) in Obedience, aiming for a championship, a goal since my childhood. But it wasn't enough for him (brain or physically)—I had abandoned tracking after 16 weeks (Note to self: to look up--have I written about that before?**), and I'd taught him more tricks than any classes were offering, so I signed up for a 6-week agility class for what-the-heck after urging from one of my obedience instructors. And...

I loved it. The connection with my dog; learning so much more about training and behavior!; The physical & mental challenges for both of us; increased fitness; so many new friends around the country; so many places visited, and...

Dogs #2 and #1 (Jake and Remington, 2002)
Easy to be happy when you've had a good weekend, earned a championship, and have a Human Mom with treats.

After the first year, I started a database of every run.

After 19 years, 4 dogs, nearly 300 weekends* of competitions (and a gazillion classes, seminars, and practices), a full set of agility equipment, buying a house and vehicle to accommodate the activities, around 4700 runs*, multiple nationals competitions*, 160ish titles* (counting everything* at all levels including CH's, Top Ten, Lifetime awards), thousands of ribbons* (yes, I brought them all home: doh!)—and, you know, we never talk about $$$ — only my body stopped me. And I'm far from being one of the most successful or addicted handlers.

What's your story?

Dog #3 (Tika 2008): What it big deal is? I is fun just having.
Plus fun Steeplechase check is gots.

Dog #4 (Boost 2011) -- Is good girl was do. Why Human Mom using is annoying face-machine?

ALL the ribbon things

* And, yes, the database can give me almost exact numbers and tiny details. If I want. To be. Obsessive. Which I never. Am. Never.

** Yes, I have mentioned tracking before.  Here  and a BRAND NEW POST for 1995!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


SUMMARY: The games dogs will play, no toys needed.

I play a game similar to Whack-A-Mole with some of my dogs. When I’m in bed, my feet are under the covers at the end of the bed and my feet stick up. I wiggle one foot and kind of attack the dog with it. As the dog goes for it, I drop that foot flat and go in for the attack with the other foot. Repeat repeat repeat. Kids are sometimes so easy to entertain.

I do this with Zorro currently. Did with Boost and I think Jake. And Remington? And Amber? All the little things that I take for granted with my dogs, vanish from my memory so quickly sometimes. But the game lives on, whoever will take the bait!

I'll have to try to get a video some morning...

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Sooooooda Detritus In My Recycling Bin

SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday

--  If you're desperate for words:
I limit myself to one soft drink daily. With caffeine. I don't do coffee. My current favorites are Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke Zero Cherry.  --

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. << >>  Visit Cee's Photo Challenge blog; lots of blogs. <<

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Levy Rays

SUMMARY: When someone just needs to be reminded whose opinion matters around here.

I don't recall who coined the phrase. Levy rays. Shooting out of the eyes of any of the women in the Levy family, which is a small, finite set. Mom. All of us sisters.  I suppose, possibly, next generation, my nieces. But this hasn't yet been confirmed.

Occasions for their use (only in generally good humor, not in true anger) by someone towards you:

  • Particularly bad pun
  • You've been told to stop taking so many photos, and yet you keep taking them
  • You admit to maybe having done something illegal or at least naughty at some time in the past
  • You make a suggestion that you will do something illegal or at least naughty at some time in the future (e.g., "I think that, the next time my wife is gone for the day, I'm just going to load up everything from the garage into the truck and take it to the dump."   >>  Levy rays from  wife.

Mom was the originator. For all the years that she done did 'em, I never labeled any photo with that phrase, and yet I'm sure I *must* have taken some at some point (see item #2 above).  I hunted and hunted and found one where she's exaggerating a bit for the camera, but you get the idea. 

Note to self: They have no impact on the dogs whatsoever. Although sometimes I think they use them on me.

Missing Mom's Levy Rays.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Postcards From The Resistance

SUMMARY: Enough is enough.

Added links at the end, Sept. 8, 2019.

I struggle with how best to ensure that this country goes back to being on track to being Great. And I am NOT talking MAGA, in case you had any doubts. I'm horrified by the assault on human rights, on our economy, on the world's environment, on acceptance and tolerance of all people, on honesty, on science, on civility, on women...

It tears me apart regularly. It interrupts my sleep. It interrupts my days. It makes it hard to do anything at all, actually, because I start feeling like our country is being ruined and there's no going back. Deep inside, really, I think that's not the case, but I have enough of my own issues to deal with to find the energy to do anything more than spread money around.

So, I do.  I donate regularly to an assortment of organizations that I believe have the right chops to make good use of it. Some are the Sierra Club (and/or other local similar groups when local resources are endangered), the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, the Democratic party or various campaigns therein...

Today I attended a postcard "party" put on by a friend and working within the Postcards For The Resistance grass-roots organization. (Not sure on the right website; there are, it turns out, lots of groups with similar approaches, which is awesome.) It's a great idea: Big things can get done by many, many people doing small things and knowing that personal communication is the most effective way to get people to take action, such as: Register to vote. Vote.

So, you make your own or order postcards with a clear message (e.g., Vote) and personalized info (vote for xxx in the upcoming election because yyyy, and thanks for being a voter). Handwritten and addressed. (They provide addresses, for individuals who have already expressed an interest or are registered Democrats.)   And then you do 5. Maybe do another 5 during a commercial while you're watching TV.  Maybe you do 5 on Saturday.  Maybe you do 5 on your lunch break. And when thousands of people do the same, the message gets out, and they've had documented success with this in the 2018 election.

When I get more specific links, I'll post them.  But here's the kind of thing I did today. The message is predefined; you can add notes like "dear voter" or "thanks for voting" or the like. But you write it all by hand. And draw or color the postcards.  Personalized.

I did at least 10, for an election in an underserved parish in Louisiana.  It's a start.

Related links from my friend, the co-organizer of this event. I hate being overwhelmed with things I *could* do, and links, and organizations.  So here are a couple of places to start (I wish some gave more info before insisting that you sign up for an account on their site):

Links just in my area (for me):