Archive for August, 2009

Life goes on, Petit Prix prep

August 31, 2009

Each time I drive up the driveway from the mailbox to the house I have a bit of a shock. For the last 2-1/2 years, regardless of fencing and control plans, Red met me in the driveway or was hanging out beside the highway. God speed, Red.  I’ll see you when I get to the rainbow bridge.

For the last 3 weekends I’ve been running Hazard at TDAA trials.  The activity and travel have relieved some of the introspection that accompanies hard decisions about dogs. Hazard has put up with me.

First was OUR trial of August 15-16. Hazard ran steadily but with little joy and none of the exuberance with which she attacked courses several years ago. The events of August 16 morning kept me from focusing on Hazard on Sunday, and we struggled with our partnership.

Second was Janet Kemerer’s TDAA trial in Washingtonville on August 22-23. Hazard began Saturday morning with plenty of energy but, as the weekend wore on, she petered out. I’d been attempting to use a tambourine (food/toy) to build excitement and I believe Hazard got a belly-ache from the rich treats.

Hazard’s Qs for the weekend included:  G3 Louganis and Time & Score and Pin Ball Wizard plus 3 Superior Standard Qs with a few seconds and thirds for placements.

Third was Central Ohio Dog Sports’ TDAA trial at our old place in Ostrander on August 29-30. I gave up the tambourine in favor of Hazard’s favorite treat, string cheese. On Saturday I limited Hazard to 1/2 of a single string of cheese and she seemed to maintain energy better. She ate her dinner without much relish, though, so I imagine even that was more food than she needed. On Sunday morning she actually ate her tiny breakfast with some gusto, so I think I’ve finally got her a little hungry. She maintained a fairly modest energy level throughout Sunday and was eager for dinner Sunday night.

Hazard’s Qs for the weekend included:  G3 Weakest Link (with a first place, she did a couple of distance sends to a tunnel and corresponding draws to an a-frame, earning 24 points each time) and Who Dares Wins (with another first place — my proudest moment was when I realized we arrived at the pause table at 55.35 seconds, with a course time of 55 seconds, with exactly the points I’d guessed, earning zero faults in this — our FINAL ROUND game in Wisconsin). Additionally she earned 4 Superior Standard Qs with a couple of placements, no firsts. What she did NOT do, unfortunately, was any distance work such as sending to the tire in Quidditch, or sending to a tunnel in Nested Gamblers. Our awesome Strategic Team had a couple of handling breakdowns and a magnificent closing line but earned NQs.

This tells me we’re building partnership and that she’s gaining confidence in my handling. We need to continue working on speed and drive and motivation. I plan to take her for several walks a day and do some conditioning exercises to build her stamina and strength.

I know Bud misses working with Hazard. It makes sense for both of us to be prepared to work her at the Petit Prix.

Another positive note on the 3 weekend run — my knees held up for every run. I hyper-extended my right knee a bit and have some soreness, but this happened while walking, not on an agility course, so my swimming and strengthening exercises are working.

In other news, we’ve received pictures from Barbara Ray of Jagger’s lovely pups. Barb’s husband Thad was checking on the bitch and pups and found they were being neglected, so the Rays have taken over raising these 3 black & tan coonhound pups. Barb sent pics of coonhound puppies doing agility on low equipment. SO CUTE !!!

Yesterday Bud ran all our agility workshops by himself. This was the last workshop day in our summer session, and very few of our students have completed their registrations for fall session, so my job over the next few days will be to contact everyone and finalize the roster.

Tomorrow morning Missy Richards (she has a new last name but I can’t remember it !) is going to meet me at Lowe’s and help me get all the supplies to plumb in a washtub in the basement. Visiting my sister a few weeks ago I glanced at her neighbor’s yard sale and saw a double washtub, complete with all the hardware, and bought it for $10 !!!

Having a plumbed washtub in the basement, a place to wash dogs and dinner bowls, a place to fill ice trays for the freezer, is going to be a godsend.

for the love of Red, our hard day

August 18, 2009

Today is Red’s last day. I’m trying to make it special, trying to let her know that she was loved deeply by her family. I’m also trying to think of all our options and make sure the choice to euthanize Red is the right one.

Red came to us four years ago with baggage. The details are unknown. By ten months of age Red was already an accomplished fence fighter due to a natural propensity and, probably, due as well to her breeder’s dog management system.

My purchase of Red was a mistake. Could her life have been better without my intervention? Perhaps.

If Red had been purchased by a woman who stayed at home 24/7, who lived on 100 acres with cows and sheep, and who trained softly her life would have been lovely.

If, on the other hand, she had gone to a man, to a person who worked outside the home, who practiced herding or trained intermittently, or who punished to modify behavior, Red’s life would have been worse.

In many ways we gave Red the best four years possible for us. We could certainly have done more and I’ll forever carry with me the knowledge that I failed Red in some way.

But the baggage she brought to our home at 10 months of age proved to be too heavy a burden over time. And now she has to go, and I have to take her to her final destination.

The thought of someone beating or punishing Red to alter her inate behavior is beyond consideration. It’s impossible to think about simply rehoming her, knowing that someone will be hurt and someone will have to make this same hard decision.

For two years I’ve recognized that Red had problems we could not solve. In addition to the elusive physical issues, Red displayed symptoms of mental illness. Whether these were treatable anxieties, or clinical insanity, we’ll never know.

Though purchased to be an obedience and agility dog, Red became a stay-at-home companion who accompanied me on all my cottage visits, sneaked out of the yard to wait for me by the road when I went swimming, jumped the fence to accompany me on mowing tasks, and went insane.

Though it sounds horrible, I must say good riddance to the attacker of the aged and infirm dogs in her pack. But also a loving goodbye and be at peace to the sweet Red who woke me every morning with a gentle nudge of her prematurely gray muzzle and happy trails to the wiggle-butt who clearly loved me more than life itself.

Dear Red, please don’t make a pain in the ass of yourself at the rainbow bridge. Your great-grandmother, Belva Woodburn, is my guardian angel and will sit with you. I’ll be there before you know it.  All my love, Mom

Gosselin’s GSD puppies

August 11, 2009

I used to be a fan of Jon and Kate Plus 8. Then they started the product placements and I got tired of Juicy Juice being a weekly cast member. Then all the vacations and it started to feel like a quirky travel channel program — Family of 10 goes to ____ (fill in the blank for whatever resort wanted the advertising that week).

When the program became The Train Wreck Formerly Known as Jon and Kate Plus 8 I stopped watching. Well, except for the episode where they bought not one but TWO GSD puppies.

My first thought was “what responsible breeder sells a couple with 8 kids TWO puppies?” In that episode they brought home their two puppies and I agreed with Kate’s sentiment, “what were we thinking?”

The next few weeks the pups were seen floating, on their own, out in the yard. They came into the house’s basement only, and only to eat and sleep.

For several weeks I silently boycotted the show.  Reports of Jon with various young women, reports of Kate purchasing a condo near her bodyguard, all bad karma and not worth my time.

But I decided to catch a re-run of the new season — Kate’s turn with the kids and they want to go camping so she’s going to set up tents in the yard and roast marshmallows over an open fire. Right.  With an assist from her personal assistant and the film crew, this struggling (?) mother of 8 puts together an evening for the kids.

And, guess what was missing?  Two GSD pups.  Please, please, please tell me the breeder took them back.

I know most folks will worry about the kids. But these kids have been raised with 4-6 members of a camera crew in their faces and they live in a million + dollar home. I think they’ll be taken care of. Hopefully they won’t follow their parents’ example and each of their lives won’t become the same train wreck.

But I worry about the puppies. Did they run off?  Did they get hit by a car?  Did someone steal them?  Or did the breeder answer his phone, talk to the program producer, and agree to take them back?

I notice also, by the way, that the program has a new producer and interviewer. Perhaps Kate’s producer and confidant decided to move on to another family …

Preparing Blue for Petit Prix

August 8, 2009

A week ago, Saturday, August 1, we had a couple of our local folks here for Games Camp. This is an annual event designed to introduce campers to games strategies.

This year it turned into Petit Prix prep for five of us.  Vicki and her beagles Elmer and Quigley, Jackie and her min pin Baxter, Kristen and her golden Griffin, Bud and his shelter Hazard, and I and my all american Blue played all sorts of games for 4 days.

We had a few other locals join us for a session or two but, for the most part, it was the four of us clawing our way through the complications of games.

My goals were:  1) partner up with Blue and re-establish our working relationship,  2) strengthen my knee by using it and putting pressure on in small increments,  3) continue my healthy eating habits while cooking for camp,  4) learn the speed at which Blue works in preparation for WHO DARES WINS, the final round of the Petit Prix.

I met my goals.  Blue is becoming more clingy to me and her behavior began evening out over the 4 days.  I only had to pop a couple of Aleve to keep the pain away, and was able to get in a swimming session during camp.  We had frozen fruit instead of ice cream at camp, though I did offer apple pie one night and Vicki brought a luscious chocolate treat the last night of camp. My calculations of Blue’s pace for our WHO DARES WINS game was spot on, though our performance broke down on day 4 while Blue did some floor sniffing.

Blue’s floor sniffing may be caused by a couple of things — my stress and its effect on my voice is probably the main cause of the sniffing — second might be the 2×2 weavepole protocol with food tossed onto the mats of the building.

I played a bit with toy tossing / tugging two days ago and will try to substitute that for the food toss in an effort to eliminate that reason for floor sniffing.

My stress?  Well I’m just going to have to handle that myself.

In other news …. I mowed both cottage properties and the agility field yesterday. After 2-1/2 hours of mowing the belt broke on my favorite mower, so I’m going to have to get creative until the belt gets replaced. Today is going to be hot, so I doubt if I’ll be mowing on foot with a walk-behind mower, but stranger things have happened. <g>

I’m going to prep the guestrooms for Jim Dwertman and Margaret Hendershot today. Jim will be with us beginning Monday evening, and Margaret will join us next Friday to secretary the trial and run her dogs.

During the games camp, Kristen and I worked at cleaning up the training building. We got all the books off tables and onto book shelves, straightened the Live to Run Again audio book library, and rearranged the retail area.

We set up a table for Margaret, got the ribbons and toys ready for the trial, and cleaned the honor bar area. Bud brought a counter top and base units out of the basement for a little “kitchenette.”

On Thursday Bud took our old television set, which worked beautifully but was replaced by a more modern flat screen which fits into our new cherry armoire. This old set weighs perhaps 250 pounds, is a cabinet model, and refused to quit running.  Bud put it on a dolly and, with the help of my Mom and I, pulled it to the edge of the road where he put a sign on it that said, “FREE, WORKS.”

We then took bets on how long it would sit there.  Mom bet 12 hours.  Bud bet 24 hours. I was tempted to go for 12+ hours but decided, instead, to say it would be gone in less than 7 hours. We finished this conversation, walked outside to head to the hardware store for screen repair materials, and into the driveway came the future owner of the television set. I think 15 minutes has GOT to be a record of some sort. This fellow took the TV and the signs as packing material.

Yesterday Bud decided to clean out the shed. Because of the success of the television set he just lined stuff up by the road. “FREE STUFF” was his sign. He’d take a load to the road and, in 30 minutes, that stuff would be gone — sign and all.

With his second load he took a glass jar that said “TIPS – HONOR JAR” — in 30 minutes that mess was all gone, including his sign AND the empty honor jar.

He’s diligently working in the shed again today, sorting glass bottles for me to recycle, and probably seeing if he can’t sprinkle the neighborhood with more of our junk by lining it up along the highway.