Monday, January 31, 2011

Obsession Session

Riff and I went to an "Obsession Session" workshop put on by Moe Strenfel this week.
[Way more fun than the screw-top wine of the same name...]
The trip down was rainy.

The warehouse district in Brisbane was a wee bit different than the country setting we're used to in Sonoma County....

....but once indoors, Riff settled nicely. He seemed excited to run on the mat floor, and not at all bothered by being in a warehouse. Good dog!

There were five teams in the group, and we ran through eight different exercises during the four-hour session. Moe teaches the Derrett handling method.
#1 - warm up with 270's (two jumps w/tunnel trap)
#2 - warm up with rear crosses (two jumps w/tunnel trap)
#3 - pinwheels with front crosses (and yeah, that tunnel was still out there...)
#4 - pinwheels with threadles
#5 - pinwheels with serps
#6 - a review of how to train a dog "Left" and "Right," starting with sitting in a chair...etc...
#7 - a gamble exercise w/3 jumps and a tunnel
#8 - a gamble exercise w/4 jumps and a tunnel
Riff did pretty well (the big goofball)! I was happy with him. I put my video camera on a tripod to tape Riff and I, plus as much as I could get of Moe's lectures. I drew maps, took notes, ate the yummy chocolate cake one of the ladies brought, and learned a LOT. If I had to pick only three words to summarize what I learned they would be - CLEANER, FASTER, SMOOTHER.
[Note: this blog is NOT about vaccuum cleaners or shaving cream...]
Hopefully I'll be able to post a short video sometime soon.

We stayed overnight at a friend's house. Our drive home was gorgeous!

Friday, January 28, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Keeps is glad to be home! She's very tired. She made a bee-line for a goofy little bed she long since grew out of. I have a list of instructions, a bottle of flagyl, and a note to call the vet right away if this (blah-blah) happens, or if that (blah-blah) continues until Monday....

But I'm positive she'll be right as rain once she's had a good nap, a nice little walk, and is back on her regular diet.

Riff may not know exactly what's going on, but he thinks he needs to watch her back.
So that's what he's doing....

In the Backyard

Playing games in the backyard. A bit of "sit/stay" mixed with level one "find the toy"....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Blues

....listening to a song on the radio:

"Bluu-u-ues, why do you come to me-e-ee-e...
Bluu-u-ues, why are you haunting me.....'

....and I haf'ta wonder. Why?

Why is it that I feel so blue, sometimes? Phases of the moon? Body chemistry? Empathy?

Whatever it may be, there it is.
So I call my dog, and he runs to me. He sits and looks into my eyes, waiting. I pet him, and he smiles.
That smile is worth a million dollars.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday Class with Riff - Video

So I took Riff to Keeper's class yesterday, intending to break the courses down a bit for him, and learn, learn, learn.
(We had some fun, while Keeper was raiding the kitchen...)
Riff's regular class is tomorrow morning. We sure look forward to it.

This video is uncut, and a bit long....but you don't have to watch the whole thing!

PS. Yep, my hair got chopped off. Every couple of years I just can't stand it anymore, and if a pair of scissors is (are?) be GONE!

Keeper vs The Raisins

The Keepster has been acting odd lately. At almost 8-years-old, she has not only been drinking lots and LOTS of water, she has also started eating strange stuff while we're gone. First it was the leather case off of my cellphone. Gone! Except for a few tell-tale bits around her bed. Then Kleenex (many), followed by an address book (most of the cover and the entire CDE section - so if your name starts with CDE and you don't get a Christmas card from me next year, you know why). We started closing doors and moving things every time we left the house. We usually put Riff in his x-pen, but we've always left Keeper loose, and let her guard the house.
One day she somehow got paper napkins out of their container on the middle of the kitchen table, and ate quite a few. Did she climb onto one of the chairs? We started carefully tucking the chairs in before we left.
Yesterday afternoon I closed all the doors in the hallway, moved everything off of the family room tables, tucked the chairs in, blocked Jeff's office area, and moved everything away from the edge of the kitchen counter to the middle of the counter. Bear in mind that this dog has never "counter-surfed." She has never seemed comfortable standing on her back feet, even for a treat, and I've never seen her put her paws up on the edge of a table or a counter. Ever! Yesterday she managed to get five boxes of raisins off the middle of the counter and eat them all, between the time Riff and I left for our lesson at 3:15, and Jeff's arrival at 4:00.
I didn't get home until almost six, when Jeff laughingly told me about the raisins. But I thought I'd heard somewhere that raisins might be poisonous to dogs, so we called our vet, just to be sure. We were given the number for the Emergency Vet, who told us to bring Keeper in for "vomit induction." If I'd had Ipecac (?) or something to make her vomit at home, and if I'd known how to do it... ... ....
But I didn't.
As soon as we got to the hospital a vet tech came out and whisked Keeper away (with some protest from Keeper), and left me in one of the examining rooms, examining the walls. I read a statement regarding the hospital's "core values."

I counted the number of card holders, and read each name. A lot of vets work there. It's a 24/7 hospital.

A different vet tech came back with Keeper and a cloth muzzle, and asked if I'd mind putting it on her. They couldn't get it on, and she wouldn't let them give her the "vomit-inducing" medication. The guy said she was really growling! I put it on (sadly), told the guy to check the buckle, and off she went again, tail hanging low. It was after 7:00 when the vet came in, and said it was probably too late to get Keeps to vomit - apparently you have to do it within two hours. She explained that some dogs aren't hurt by raisins, and some are. That the dogs who react badly to it suffer total renal failure within 48 hours. That it can happen after eating a few raisins - much less than five boxes. That they wanted to keep her there for a couple of days, and give her IV fluid treatments and testing during that time. And, by the way, would I mind putting a "basket muzzle" on her, because she got out of the cloth one very quickly.

I felt so conflicted! Do I say "Oh, thanks anyway..." and take my dog home? Or leave her there? Given the possibility - total renal failure - I left her there. A nice young lady came in with Keeper and the basket muzzle, and I put it on her (so easily! Keeper was trying so hard to be good....) and off she went. This time she was wagging her tail while the young lady sweet-talked her.

So I asked the lady at the counter to recommend that Keeper have female vet techs. (I know, I know, some of the male techs are great too...) And suggested the vets be female also. (Is that awful of me?) Then I stumbled home. Trying not to imagine the worst. Trying to THINK POSITIVE! Realizing that in all the time I've had Keeper I've only spent two nights away from her. I drank some wine to try to sleep. I tossed and turned, and dreamt of her all night.
My regular vet called early this morning to find out what happened, and we talked about Keeper's symptoms of frenetic water drinking, getting really "growly" with people, and eating odd things, and what they might mean. I'd already called the ER hospital to learn that Keeper was fine this morning. The overnight vet (a woman) has BCs, liked Keeper a lot, and took the muzzle off of her right away. (Yay!) The vet techs are now relying on her Elizabethan collar for "protection." Today's vet (a woman) is from northern England, grew up with "border collies all around," and didn't anticipate any problems at all. They put a sign on her cage "Move Slowly. Say HELLO first!"
Keeper's initial bloodwork came back NORMAL, the urine was close to NORMAL, and they will continue to give her fluids and monitor her throughout today and tomorrow morning.
So I picture her coming home tomorrow - tail wagging, excited! happy! snuggly! and healthy!!
And I picture setting up her x-pen, so she can stay comfy - and safe, whenever we leave the house....

Sunday, January 23, 2011


The photo below is from a Bay Team agility trial held in 2007.
The club held another trial here this weekend. There are big differences in fencing and general set-up these days, but the footing, the building, and the cold morning air were the same.
I was a "worker bee" on Saturday - a timer, scribe and gate person. It was a small show, but I got to watch some wonderful Masters-level dogs and handlers work tough courses.

I left a wee bit early (4:pm), because we had to scurry up to Forestville to attend an Artists' Reception at the Quicksilver Mine Company gallery. My son Brett has a few pieces in the show! We got there about an hour late. People were spilling into, and out of, the gallery's fenced patio. We thought about going back there to take a few photos, but decided not to get lost in the crowd, even though the food and wine were there.

We walked around to the front entrance instead....

....and wedged our way into the crowd inside the gallery.....

....and (thankfully) soon found Brett's handmade books (which are small collections of prints and paintings).....

...and Brett!

I felt exhausted after the reception, but thrilled for Brett. Quicksilver is a great local gallery, and it's wonderful to make it into a show there. I'd like to go back when we can actually see the artwork, instead of dodging crowds.
I was also excited about showing Riff at the Bay Team trial on Sunday. So I loaded up the car and went to bed really early......
.....only to wake up - sick - at 3:am. I tried to ignore it, but by 5:30am I was truly ill. Why does such a thing happen on a dogshow day? Denial! Denial! I told myself I'd be over it in time to get to at least a few of Riff's Starters classes.
....but that didn't happen. Sadly.
Next up is Moe Strenfel's Obsession Session workshop in Brisbane (yay!) and then an AKC show here in Santa Rosa, first weekend of February.
Ever onward.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Line Up

Kindle was about six years old in this photo, Bezel was eight, and Riff is two.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Practice Video

I couldn't decide whether to bring Keeper or Riff to practice today. They both need practice.
Hells bells, I'm the one that needs practice!
As it ended out, I brought the Riffle. I tried to pick a few obstacles we could just have fun with. We did!
We need to work on a LOT of stuff (the handler continues to hang back during the weaves, for instance - and she needs to train her dog how to accept her running alongside and ahead....), but we'll get to it. We have lots of time. I remind myself that he just turned two in November. He's still a young dog. We have lots of time. Don't we?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Evening Agility Class


and, at the same time,

(Sometimes, as much as I may want to, it's difficult to pay attention in class.....)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A List of Stuff to Buy

My iPhone List of Stuff to Buy:
  • An exercise bike. [Or a real bicycle? Or maybe I should just stick to walking...walking is healthier. Isn't it?]
  • Behr paint for the spare room. [White for the ceiling, a warm cream color for two walls, and some kind of seafoam/sage for the other two walls. Maybe...?? Or warm colors all the way around...?]
  • Compost/Mulch. [Ten bags. Or maybe twelve. Just for the front.]
  • Dinner at Sazon.
  • A rhyming dictionary. [Look up which kind Sondheim likes best.]
  • The long travel board I ordered before Thanksgiving. [Does Kent still have it?]
  • A new pair of slippers. [LL Bean again??]
  • Thank You cards. [Yes, of course the kind you snail mail.]
  • A new camera. [Pocket-sized. Smaller but more powerful than the PowerShot. What kind...?]
  • Two notebooks. [Suitable for the collage project, for B & W....]
  • Picture frames. [Two large, two small - suitable for flower projects.]


Actually, I don't NEED a darn thing. Like many Americans, we have Enough Stuff! Enough already!! (Except I tore the wallpaper off in the spare room, so I really must buy the paint....)

Some Nice Stuff I Already Have:

A big pile of firewood in the shed. (And the sweet husband who put it there.) Wealth beyond measure!!

A tiny horse and little wooden guy. I like to think of them as Seabiscuit and his trainer Tom Smith, even though the horse looks like an Arabian.
27 books left on my "To Read" table. How much wealthier can a person get??

A flowering aloe vera plant. Beautiful! (I hope the deer don't eat the flower.)
Riff doesn't qualify as "stuff"....but I couldn't resist adding the photos I took this morning. In this one, he's annoyed because I have a camera with me instead of a toy.

He's trying to vibe me into going back up the hill to get a toy. (At two years old, he's still looking a bit gawky....)

Keeper joined him, and together they're trying to brainwash me: "Toy! Toy! Toy! GET. THE. TOY."

"YES!!! That's better! Much better!"
See? Even dogs need Stuff. (And they DO know how to train people.) They might be just as happy with sticks, if push came to shove...but the toys are GREAT....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Looking for a Job

Even though I turned sixty a few months ago, I think about looking for a job. Wild, huh? I don't need to work, although the extra money would be nice. It would give us a little breathing room. It would help me feel better re: the "market fund" fluctuations we keep reading about in the paper, and the increasing cost of healthcare (reform or no reform). I am, after all, one of those Baby Boomers that is likely to fall through the cracks. But my husband is not excited about the idea, etc etc. So I probably won't actually apply for a job.

Still, I often peruse Craig'sList, and the newspaper. Once in a while I imagine myself having lots of fun visiting with customers at the local nursery, or the corner market, or (heavenly) at a bookstore. Then I remember what it's like to stand up all day. Then I reassure me that I'd only work parttime.

Isn't it nice to be grown-up and all settled down? (It does happen.... ... ....doesn't it??)

I spent much of the last couple of decades on this junior college campus:

Pretty, huh. I still like to sneak the dogs out there for a run, once in a while.
As a Theatre Arts Department worker and instructor, I was in this building most of the time.....
....and didn't have a clue what the weather was like outside.
Sometimes I painted sets. Like this door (for the musical "The Full Monty"). Most of the time I painted drops, flats, and floors, but every once in a while I got to paint something special, like petroglyphs on the side of a bathtub ("Off the Map"), or this Mary and Jesus icon ("Agnes of God"). I got to paint gold flake onto the halos. Actual gold! It made me a little nervous, at the time....
I worked at most of the local theaters. Once in a while they put me onstage. This photo is from an ongoing "soap" improvisation called "Wild Human Kingdom, " which ran for six weeks, some years ago. My characters were: a business partner in a winery that made "white merlot," a wanna-be sheriff (photo below), and an alien. As an alien, I wore an old-fashioned metal colander on my head, large angel wings, and spoke using only beeps, weird noises, and whistles. (Riff thinks it was type casting.....) The improv was fun to be in (along with 10 other folks), but it was not a box office success. (And you wonder why...?!!! Haha!)
My favorite activity in theatre (besides teaching, and painting) was directing. This photo is from "Collected Stories," put up many years ago at Actors Theatre. We loved this play! These two actors were terrific, and knocked it out of the ballpark. I was very proud of this production.
People still ask me to work in theatre, but I'm tired of being cooped up in window-less places. The only work I've accepted is as a photographer. As a theatre photographer you get to slide in and watch a final dress rehearsal (very closely, with a lens like this one), then spend a few hours on the computer at home, and voila! You're done. Cool job. It's great to see old buddies, too.
Now I'm thinking it might be fun to work in a bookstore (if I don't get caught reading books too often).
A few years ago I made a list of "Paid Jobs I Have Had." For some reason it seemed important to make a list, before the brain cells faded too much.
1. Thoroughbred Horse Ranch - baby-sat owner's two little girls
2. Department Store - sold nylons (seasonal job)
3. Telephone Company - long-distance operator
4. Donut Shop - glazed donuts and bussed tables
5. Record Store - clerk
6. City Library (Southern Calif) - from shelving, to check-out desk, to interlibrary loans
7. Investment Company - library assistant
8. City Library (Northern Calif) - repaired books, typed catalogue cards, worked check-out desk
9. Typist for antiques appraiser (temp job)
10. Typist for writer who was working on a book about William Shatner (temp job)
11. State College - registration desk (temp job)
12. Typist for college professor (temp job)
13. Insurance Adjusters - secretary
14. Welding Company - bookkeeper (temp job)
15. Construction Company - bookkeeper
16. Lumber Company - typist (temp job)
17. City Maintenance Yard - dispatcher (temp job)
18. Income Tax Service - from secretary to income tax preparer
19. Self Employed Income Tax Preparer
20. Self Employed Horse Training Stables
21. Junior College - Theatre Arts Promotions assistant (work/study)
22. Junior College Summer Repertory Theatre - stitcher-dresser, wardrobe supervisor, promotion assistant, stage manager, assistant director, scenic painter, production manager
23. Community Theatre - box office, dresser, stage manager, scenic tech, props tech, light and sound board operator, lighting designer, assistant director, director
24. Regional Theatre - assistant director
25. Health Maintenance Organization - from claims processor, to secretary, project manager, and business systems analyst
26. High School - taught drama and public speaking classes
27. Junior College - taught theatre management, and worked as production stage manager
28. State University - taught stage management
29. Self Employed Theatre Photographer
Looks like I couldn't stick with one thing for very long! But I left home at 17, so these jobs are spread out over a few years (and interspersed with being a college student). Some of the career activities lasted many years. Oh, and I got married and raised children.
My all-time favorite job? Being a mom! Maybe that's why I like these crazy-goofball border collies so much.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cyborg Stuff

My son sent us x-rays of his arm and knee, taken during his first check-up yesterday. It's been almost 7 weeks since the accident. Time passes....and warps! In the most amazing way. (But that's another topic....)

Will said, "What feels like pieces of bent tin jammed into my body are actually very cool looking specialized little do-dads. Like bridge trussing." In about 6 weeks he'll be allowed to start putting weight on the leg, and in April he hopes to go back to work. Good for him!

Is he a cyborg now? He thinks so.

Does that make me a cybormom? And, if so, will it help me run my dogs faster? ;-)

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