Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Sheepish Light Bulb Goes On

Took Riff back out to sheep this afternoon (after a rainy morning walk/run at Riverfront Park)....

For the first fifteen minutes I was pretty certain that it was going to be our last trip to the sheep ranch.  Riff wasn't keen on getting out of the van!  He wasn't keen on watching Pete bring the sheep in. 

Pete bringing in the sheep.
Truthfully, he started shaking and whining when he saw the sheep heading our way, and while I'd love to say that it was pure eagerness, I have to admit it looked a whole lot like "scared" to me. 

ML brought a small flock into the round pen and worked them for a few minutes with Pete, so that Riff could watch.  But Riff didn't want to watch.  How could I tell?  He kept running to our van in the parking area, looking for a way back in.  (D'oh!) That tells us...something....yes?  (HaHa!) 

Hmmmm.   So I just acted like he was being an ordinary sheepdog doing ordinary sheepdog things.  But of course I'm thinking "Oh, well.  There it is.  Nervous ninny.  Not a sheepdog." 

ML noticed his behavior, of course, and said, "He sure is a sensitive young dog."  (So kind!)  She decided against trying to work Riff herself, and to let me work with the sheep from the get-go.  She thought he might feel more confident if I was out there with him. 

I was totally excited about that - I think her sheep are beautiful and sweet (for sheep), and a lot easier to work than cattle.  She told me to get out there in the middle of them and keep calling Riff over, so that's what we did.  As much as possible.  I couldn't get too close to the sheep when Riff was near me.  ML remarked again, "Wow, that dog is really powerful and he doesn't even know it.  These sheep usually won't move much if a dog isn't actively working them, and they keep running away from him." 

Riff stayed by me as though I were a life raft in rough seas.

Riff also kept running over to the gate, checking if it was open, looking like he wanted to go home.  When Riff was away from me, the sheep came right up and flocked around me.  Safety = the shepherd.  Cute little woolies with funny little nosies.  So I would pet the sheep and talk to them, and call Riff over, and as soon as he got near, the sheep would high-tail it away.  He didn't seem to notice, or to care.  He just wanted to be next to me.  He gave them small sneaky glances, now and then.  We just followed the sheep around the pen.

After about a year (or so it seemed), a subtle shift occured in how we were following the sheep.  Instead of me being in the lead, Riff decided to get ahead of me.  I had been telling him it would be okay if he wanted to "go on," and he finally decided to try it.   He soon forgot about checking the gate.      

Riff leaves the life raft.
And after a few more passes....the light bulb went on!!! 

Riff realized he was moving the sheep, and that it might be fun.

While I can't say he was "herding" sheep, he definitely became interested in moving them.  I noticed that he mostly stayed on a line with me.  That is to say, he would run a lateral line from my side, turn the sheep, then go around behind me to get to the other side of the flock.  He rarely got any closer to the main flock than I was. 

As far as I know (and I don't know much), a sheepdog is supposed to go out around to the other side of a flock of sheep, keeping the flock between him and the shepherd.  He is supposed to move the flock toward the shepherd, in a lovely, controlled manner.  Heh heh.  So Riff was doing just about the opposite - keeping the shepherd between him and flock.  And he didn't show any natural "sheepdog" crouching, to speak of.  But I was thrilled because he finally FINALLY started really watching the sheep.  He started acting like he was having FUN.  He never offered to "go after" the sheep in a nasty predator way (thank god), but he did go after them in a puppy-gallumping "I'm-running-after-you-but-I-will-keep-a-good distance-from-you, and-I-will-totally-back-off-if-you-get-too-wild-and-scary" sort of way. 

So...the Big Question is still out there.

Is Riff a sheepdog? 

He might be!  Ma-a-aybe.  ML suggested we give him a couple more tries, to see if he gets any better.  She seemed hopeful.  So I am, too.  


Monday, February 27, 2012

That Was the Weekend That Was

Our Friday practice at the LeapDog field was fun.  And hot! in about 78 degrees. A-mazing.  Our little heatwave broke the 1985 record for the-warmest-February-day-ever-recorded in our fair city.    

Riff got to his fast-pant stage pretty quickly during our weave practice.  One thing I've noticed about the Riffster - he gets hot and sweaty quickly.  Just like me.  (Wait, you really didn't want to know that...) Anyway.  You'd think, because Riff doesn't have an undercoat, that he'd stay nice and cool.     

But I'm thinking a dog's undercoat must be a natural temperature regulator...and that many dogs are glad to have one, even during the summer.  I've always believed that border collies are made just the way they're supposed to be for optimum comfort in all kinds of weather.   They develop a nice winter coat, and have a good shed once or twice a year.   But that only describes Keeper.  Riff is different.  He has beautiful long fur (in around his ears, on his chest and a little part of his rib cage...heh heh), and no undercoat to speak of, with very little shedding.  I think it makes a difference.  He gets hot very quickly.   Of course, he works hard, too...he likes SPEED. 

Saturday I took the Keeps and Riff over to the fairgrounds to run in the field, during the Mensona AKC trial.  That trial was quite a bit smaller than the previous trials have been.  I was almost sorry we hadn't entered.  The dogs really enjoyed their romp - we like to play "fetch" out there - and Riff got in some startline-stay practice.  Keeper is like a rock when she's on a "wait."  Do you think Riff watches and learns? 
I practiced releasing them separately, although there was some initial confusion regarding who was who. 

Ran into Sharon F when I took Riff back for another run on Sunday.  She asked why we weren't trialing, and I blathered on about recovering from a back injury, blah blah.  Without mentioned what I was really feeling.  (Although I did admit that I'm not a huge fan of showing in the fairgrounds arena.)  But, underneath that little question.....Do I even want to trial anymore?  That's the real question....the question that's been really bothering me. 

Because if my back is going to stay like it is (always a bit tweaky, sometimes quite painful)....maybe I need to think about agility in terms of NADAC (easy flowing courses), and train Riff some real distance work, so I don't have to keep trying to run.  The problem with NADAC (other isn't USDAA) is that I'd have to drive quite a distance to compete.  And driving is hard on the old back...

Catch 22.

So Riff and I keep practicing USDAA/AKC style.  Plugging away at it, hoping for the best. 

His weaves were very nice on Friday - just one miss.  We had fun, and made progress.   I took him to the Mensona trial to run in the field, but we also hung out ringside for about 15 minutes both Saturday and Sunday.  "This is trial noise, buddy," I said to him, "and it's no big deal."  He begged to differ on Saturday, but on Sunday he was fairly calm.   We'll keep at it, whenever we get the chance.

Today we had a lovely field-rental practice out at AARF, although they had a mostly-hoops course set up. 
I tried to show Riff the difference between a hoop and a jump, but he still tried to jump the hoop when we added another obstacle!  So no more hoops.  (I sure don't want him to start thinking about running under 26" jumps....)  We concentrated on the weaves (he got 100% entries from fast running approaches...yay!) and we got in some rear-cross practice, using the three actual jumps that were on the course, before our time was up. 

PS.  My new shoes fit and feel great! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today's quote:  "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape." 

Yesterday, during a rare moment of spendthrift bravery, I went on-line to buy a new pair of running shoes.  Several of my agility friends fell in love with the Inov8 Roc-lite 285 (275?  295?) this winter, so I've been watching these shoes run around.  They look so light and flexible, for a water-proof Gore-Tex shoe...! 

But of course, in my brilliance, I did not order that exact shoe.  I let myself be seduced by the unseasonably warm weather into buying a summer shoe - a no-Gore-Tex, ultra-light (6.9 oz.) "almost-barefoot" kind of shoe - the Inov8 F-Lite 195.  I didn't know what size to it will either fit or it won't.  Not sure the sole will be "luggy" enough for agility fields.  I hate slipping and falling.  But I ordered them from Zappo's, so I can ship them back (for free!) and ask for a different size (and style?), if need be.   These shoes were on sale, for a very good price.  (Hmmm...I wonder why...) 

But hey, a little shoe therapy can go a long way. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Well Heckipoo

Riff missed at least 50% of his weave entries in our class tonight.  Granted, they were tough angles...but...still.  Heckipoo! 


We'll continue to earnestly work on weave entries (concentrating on running a fast line of obstacles into tough angles), and will begin to earnestly work on rear crosses. 

Hey, half the fun of agility is that it's a life-long learning experience.  Right?  Right!


PS....It was great to hear about how my classmates did during last weekend's show.  A new OAJ, and a whole slew of double-Qs.  My class is full of lovely teams, on their way to MACHs.  We're lucky to be part of it. 

Battling the Black Pit

Well, it's true.  Every once in a while I get sidetracked (ambushed?) by what I've come to think of as "the black pit of sadness." 

Don't worry, I won't go into detail about this - you all have your own battles.  Suffice to say there are reasons...understandable reasons....but. 

Enough just to recognize it for what it is - acknowledge it - and then take whatever steps are needed to climb back out of that dark place....

Reading.  Love reading!

Recent novels include
The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass (Quite satisfying.) 
By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (Self-indulgent dreck.  Skimmed to the end.)
Started Early, Took My Dog by Karen Atkinson (A Jackson Brodie mystery.)
And I've been trying to get through David Brooks' Social Animal (pretty academic), but.... I'm thinking about ordering more books from Amazon.  Or should I buy a Kindle?  Hmmm.  The trouble is, you can't give books away to your friends if you have them on a Kindle.   

Walking.  Damn, I wish it were easier to get moving...but that old tweaky back - and this week's exceptionally strong gravity field - have been giving me a run for the money.  The border collies are excellent motivators, though.  Nothing quite like getting stared at by a couple of restless BCs. 

Difficult to get out the door....but once out - marvelous!

Amazing weather.

AGILITY!  What a godsend. 

On Thursday I took Riff to LeapDog and reviewed our weave exercises.  4-poles, then 6, then 12.  He had only one bobble on the entry, which occured near the end of our 10-minute session, after a quick run.  He went over a jump, through a tunnel and onto the teeter into a quick release - then ran right by the weaves (as did I, about 10 feet ahead of him, looking back and cueing "Weave!").  But....oops.  His next two tries were perfect, though.  Yay!    I needed to concentrate more on that first pole, to help his entry. 

On Friday we went back for our regular practice session at LeapDog, and Riff was a complete joy.  YAY!  Well....except for a couple of problems with spinning the wrong way on rear crosses, before heading the right way.  Something new to work on... 

There's always something.

On Sunday and Monday we went to the Fairgrounds, and Riff ran in the big field.  We practiced startline stays and circles and fetch.  There was an AKC trial there, so Riff got to run in the field with Charter, which I love to watch.  They are so FAST together!  Riff and I also spent a while ringside at the trial, in the midst of a lot of noise and nerves and action, to practice paying attention and trying to remain calm.  He did fairly well.  I felt a like a Pez treat dispenser (he didn't seem interested in tug!).  He was better Monday than he was on Sunday.  He even laid down for about 30 seconds, and almost relaxed.  Of course a lot of people had left the trial by then, so the atmosphere was nowhere near as charged-up as it had been on Sunday.  We'll do it again next weekend.

This afternoon we'll be at LeapDog for our weekly group lesson - friends and fun, coming up! 

Theatre.  Saw a couple of fairly decent shows - A Steady Rain at MTC, and Proof at 6th Street.  Last night I went to our weekly Loading Zone meeting, where we spent the first hour of the evening chatting about movies, books and plays, as usual.  Then we read the first act of a play aloud.  (The Shadow Box.)  Even though that is a somewhat dated play about terminally ill people (sigh) we had some good moments, some fine laughs, and a very pleasant time.  Must admit it's nice to be back with a small theatre group...whacky as it may be...

Tomorrow's plan includes a birthday dinner for one of my old Actors' Theatre friends.  Yay for birthdays! 

Etcetera.  Yeah.  This and that.  For me it's about staying-busy-in-the-world.  Looking outward, being with people (and dogs!), thinking about things outside of my own stuff.  Practicing patience.  PATIENCE! 
And kindness.  KINDNESS!  Nothing soothes the soul better.  Appreciating the many small beauties of our earth.  Practicing a little meditation.  Gardening!  And, yeah...I even put together yet another jigsaw puzzle.  (Yikes! Isn't that some kind of strange old-retired-lady pasttime?  Have I turned into an old retired lady?)  I'm even thinking about pulling out the old knitting bag.  I have a half-finished lap blanket in there....something I started years ago....maybe I should finish it....?!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sheepdog! (???)

ML offered to introduce Riff to sheep yesterday.  Woohoo!!  So we went out to her sheep pasture, where Riff met her older dog "Pete" and young dog "Sam."  Riff was excited....and nervous.  A new place, new dogs, and - wow, what are those fuzzy animals?

Riff and Sam
The dogs got to know each other, and Riff got to look around, before M and Pete went into the big pasture to bring in the sheep.   

Watching the flock come in.

M and Riff got acquainted before she took him into the small round pen with the sheep.  Not knowing what he would do, she put a light twine lead on him.  The lead was doubled up in her hand, but easy to lengthen, or pull out of his collar, if need be.

ML, Riff and Pete

First pass

Riff glanced at the sheep.  He was nervous, though, and spend a fair amount of time looking for me.  ML kept walking him around after the sheep, and he started to settle down.  He never did get into a crouch or get all "sheepdoggy"...he was too confused and distractable.  She said "This dog has no idea how powerful he is.  These sheep don't usually move much for a soft dog, but he's got them on the run just from his presence." 

She was very slow, gentle and patient with him.  Soon, she dropped the lead.  He would steal glances at the running sheep, but stay close to ML.  After a short rest, she took him back in with no lead at all. 

He seemed better without a lead on him.  Still not entirely interested, though.  ML brought Pete in so Riff could watch, and perhaps learn... 


After that, ML said "shadow me" and we both walked around after the sheep, with Riff trailing along.  ML said I was okay by myself, and left the pen.  Riff's tongue was hanging out pretty far by then (you Bezel-baby people know what I mean!), so we didn't stay with the sheep long. 

He seemed to be looking at them more often by the time we were finished, but he certainly never "locked on."  However, I was pleasantly surprised to feel perfectly at home in a sheep pen.  I thought it would be scary!  But these sheep were a lot smaller and more pliable than the cattle I used to work with, years ago.  Of course back in the cattle days, I didn't have a dog.  Having a dog makes all the difference!  I didn't even mind it when the sheep came up close to me...they're actually kind of cute little woolies, and although they came in close they never did step on me or offer to knock me over.  (At least not yet.)  The only part that was squishy for me was their poop.  Heh heh.  

ML was very kind about Riff's apparent lack of "natural" ability.  She said he was just nervous, because everything is so new to him.  She pointed out that all he knows is me telling him what to do next on an agility field.  He kept looking at me for guidance...but there's not a lot I can do to actually guide him, other than hope he begins to understand that it's the sheep he should be looking at...and that he can actually move the sheep around by himself.  Without that understanding, we can't move ahead with working sheep.

So - is Riff a sheepdog?  Doesn't look like it, so far.  But ML said to bring him out again next week.  She thought his reaction was fairly typical for a "first timer," and she says there might be a sheepdog in there....somewhere. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Yay, Riff!

Riff hit his weave entries 100% this morning at AARF - six attempts from various speeds, angles and obstacles.  He looked thoughtful, collected nicely for the entry, and sped through with his usual panache. 

Beautiful morning, after a rainy day and night.

Riff also looked like he might have a good handle on "out" and "here" when it comes to obstacle discrimination (like that tunnel/A-frame).  100% correct on those, too!  :-)

Have I told you how nice it is to be back on an agility field?  NICE, NICE, NICE!!!

Although Riff is starting to give longing looks toward the sheep in the next pasture....

Sunday, February 12, 2012


This weekend we enjoyed a visit from out-of-town guests. 
J offered to help Jeff trim a couple of dangerous branches off the old apple tree.
They got to wear fancy headgear.  Aren't they cute?  :-)
M helped me clean up all the bits and pieces afterwards.
(The wood!  No tree trimmers were harmed during this production!)

Riff and Keeper had a lovely long walk...then helped me plant a few primroses and move a baby Christmas tree into a bigger pot.  Haha!  They are good gardogeners! 

Later, we drove up to the Geyserville area to check out Francis Ford Coppola's winery digs. 

The place was basically empty.  Nice!
The winery features a lovely big pool, open to the public,
and a fancy restaurant. 
The young lifeguard was bored silly.
The waiters were busy.

They have plenty of Coppola movie memorabilia on display.
Like the Tucker car,
and these skulls from Apocalypse Now...

...and the Godfather's desk and chair. 
(Complete with random young tourist.)
The best part of our tour was playing a bunch of bocce ball. 
I won one game.  Yay! 

After we looked at the menu for the Rustic Restaurant at Coppola's we decided to stop in Healdsburg for a sandwich at Oakville Grocery.  Yum!  We also stumbled into the Wild Steelhead Festival in the Healdsburg Town Square.  My friends didn't understand why I bought a baseball cap with a fish on it...but I bet you do.  We rounded out the day with a nice dinner (and a margarita!) at LaRosa Grill.  Lovely weekend, all the way around. 

Our other visitors were predators:

We've had a lot of hawk action this week.
They're noisily staking out territory in the tall redwoods behind our house,
where they frequently nest...
...much to the chagrin of neighboring scrub jays and small rodents.

Juvenile Red-tailed hawk. (I think!)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Parkour, anyone?

Drizzly weather caused our field rental to be canceled this morning (sad), but we did have a heck-a good time playing in the backyard (happy!). 

Sipping on my coffee, watching Keeps and the Riffle run circles, teasing each other (each carrying a toy the other wanted), I got to wondering if Riff and I could play parkour in our backyard.  Would it be possible to train him to think of "rock," "steps," "hedge," "chair," "bench," et al, in the same way as he does agility obstacles?  Of course it would have to be a totally safe game, for my peace of mind and his well-being. 

Then....if he got good at it in the backyard....could we play the game someplace like - Spring Lake?  Annadel?   The neighborhood park?  Downtown?   

Maybe I should've had this idea when I was in my twenties and had the ability to physically keep up.  It would require plenty of scouting beforehand, too.   (Which might be lots of fun....)

And.  Distance training.  Yes? 



Saw a nice little video of Riff's littermate EX running a Starter's Jumpers course last week in - I think it was Texas.

Ex in 2011

Ex-in-motion reminds me a lot of Riff!  Beautiful dog, very nice run.  Ex does have a thicker longer coat, however, more white, and his ears were set to prick.  You'll always be able to tell the difference between Riff and Ex.  Heh heh!  


Riff's last weave-training session on Wednesday was terrrrrific.  He seems to be finally "getting" it: collect and enter at the first pole - regardless of the angle, speed of approach, or obstacle you're coming from.  I'm very proud of my boy!

Last but not least, here's a sweet cartoon:  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cars I Have Owned

It's a rainy day here.  Agility lesson canceled.  Hiking too muddy.   A few running loops around the backyard, a nice walk through the neighborhood.....and that'll do it for the dogs.  (For now!)

Today I've been thinking about cars....    

The car I learned to drive in was a little Metropolitan.  It belonged to my Dad - a very brave man who to taught me how to drive a stick shift in that tiny car.  His was a two-tone little gem that looked like this one, only in faded orange and cream.  I flunked my driver's test first time I took it (something about pulling away from the curb in such a way as to scare the bejeezus out of the DMV guy)....but still managed to have a license by the time I was sixteen-and-a-half.  (Dad was very encouraging, after my devastating failure.)

So I started borrowing Mom's car, or Dad's car, to "go to the library."   Finally Dad said..."How did you put 80 miles on the car last night, while you were studying at the library?"  "Oh, yeah.  Sorry, Dad.  I may have driven by the Q a few times....and I picked up a couple of friends..."     Isn't it amazing how life twists around?  The cruising spot in our town was a drive-in hamburger joint named "The Q." Now, almost fifty years later, I'm driving to dog agility trials, trying to win Q's....


By the time I was a senior in high school Dad decided to sell me one of their cars.  It was a dark blue Lark VI Studebaker - not pink like this one!  It had 200,000 miles on it (our family often drove to Louisiana to visit relatives), and he sold it to me for $100.  I loved that car.  My friends and I called it "The Blue Rabbit."   I told Dad we called it that because of the way it sometimes got "jumpy" when I was shifting from first into second gear.  (3 gears - on the steering column - and it was not always a smooth transition.)  The car's name had absolutely nothing to do with the Jefferson Airplane hit "White Rabbit."  Absolutely nothing.  Heh heh.   

Lark VI

When I moved to Northern California at twenty years old, Dad was afraid the old Lark wouldn't make it up the hills of San Francisco.  He insisted on trading it for his newer VW bug.   What a great Dad.  I was thrilled!

first VW bug
It was a great little car.  Very zippy, and the 4-on-the-floor was fun!  Unfortunately it was totalled a couple of years later, when we missed a curve during a rainstorm out on Hwy 116.  VWs are not made for rolling down a ravine into redwood trees.  Thankfully, no one was too seriously injured.   We were able to sell engine parts for $25.00, and the metal from the body netted $3.50.   With that money I was able to buy another VW, for $50.  My second VW was considerably older than the first.  His owner told me the car's name was "Victor."  Victor was faded red, and looked sort of like this car (I loved the tiny rear window), only it was extremely rusty and beat-up.   I hadn't realized how nervous I would be, driving a VW, after the accident.  When one of the back wheels came off and rolled right past the car, while driving down Stony Pt Road,  Victor found himself SOLD for $30.00, as is. 

second VW
But it's tough to live in California without a car (unless you live in The City).  So I saved up my pennies, and was able to find a really cool Ford Falcon Ranchero.  A sort of car/pick up truck, all rolled into one.  I could haul hay for the horses in it (and soon had my own little crop of grass growing out of the back bumper).  My dog Sammy loved riding in it.  Back then I was probably the only person in the county to make sure my dog was carefully cross-tied when he had to ride in the truck bed.  Not because I was particularly safety-conscious, but because he wanted to jump out and get in the cab with me.

A succession of cars followed.  None were as special as my first few cars.

A yellow Vega we called "The Lemon"
A green Caprice with a rag top that was totally torn up, not nice like this one.
And it had a big dent in the side, from when a horse backed into it and kicked out.
And the passenger window wouldn't roll up.
But I could easily find my car in the grocery store parking lot.

And a big white station wagon - my "soccer mom" car.

And of course there were the pick-up trucks that we used to haul cattle and horses.  An old red Ford 150, a new copper-colored Ford 150 (with matching trailer!), and a white GMC 1-ton dually with a blue and red eagle painted on the hood.  The trucks were fun to drive!

Today I'm lucky enough to own a Toyota Sienna "dog car."  It's a wonderful vehicle. 
We love it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Last Night's Moon

(I took this photo without a tripod...but it still looks cool...)

PS.  Good job yesterday, Eli and the Giants!  :-)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The best laid plans....

....don't always work out.

Next time!  I tell myself.  Next time!

[Even though the fact of the matter is that TODAY is what is happening, and no one knows when Next Time will actually present itself...]

Yesterday we stayed at home.  I let pruning and raking leaves totally distract me from taking Riff to the trial for some much-needed StartLine training on the practice jumps.  My garden is a little happier, however.  That's good, right? 

This morning we actually made it to the fairgrounds....YAY!   [Sometimes I need to pat myself on the back for taking even the small steps.]  However, I did not work Riff on the practice jump.  I told myself he was too tired from playing in the field.  (Ha!)  I told myself the people who entered the trial needed to work the jump, and we'd be in the way.  (Not!)  I made all kinds of goofy excuses...and never did get him on the jump.  [Now the trick is to just Get Over It, and get him on a practice jump next weekend.] 

To be honest:  I woke up this morning thinking about not competing in agility anymore.  Wow...I don't know...can that possibly be an option?  I've put quite a lot of time, energy, study...even love....even heart and soul...into this sport...why would I be thinking about not competing?    I know I want to continue going to our lessons, and playing agility a few times a week - but I'm feeling much, much less certain about the competitions. 

[Those of you who know how competitive I can be, how pleased I can be with winning a Q or a class, how much fun it is to jump and and down with my friends who win ribbons and Qs and may be surprised.  Actually....I'm-all surprised.]

Caught a glimpse of Nancy Gyes this morning, and she came over and gave me a hug.  (So nice!)  She asked if we"ve been trialing, and I almost blurted out "No, no, I think we're done."  but whew! I did not.  I just said "Not lately" and muttered something about needing more training.  She said, "We ALWAYS never stops!" and rushed off to get one of her dogs ready for a class. 

True, that.  Life is a chair of bowlies!

In the meantime, Riff and the lovely Keeper had a marvelous time this morning, playing fetch on the big grassy field at the trial.  Two tired dogs by the end of our session! 

Enjoyed chatting with Channan and Kate E and some of the folks at the trial.  What a terrific bunch of people.  Love, love, love. 

And y'know...I did work Riff's sit-and-wait (and down-and-wait) in the field.  He was pretty darn good:  I could throw the toy wa-a-ay out there while standing right next to him, I could release Keeper without him, I could run by him toward the toy, circle around him, etc etc.  His StartLine was the field. 

Maybe I just didn't want to mess up his Glow of Success by testing him at the crowded practice jump.   

Or...wait....does that sound like an excuse...?

Saturday, February 4, 2012


yearn·ing (yûr n ng). n. A persistent, often wistful or melancholy desire; a longing: a yearning for romance and adventure.

Desire.  Romance.  Adventure.  (?!)  Powerful words. 

"Yearning" has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I've heard it described as "a basic human condition," so I try not to worry about it much.  Some mystics believe that all humans (perhaps even all living beings) yearn to be together, in some sort of "shared universal energy and understanding" - and that as long as we have individual bodies, we will feel that yearning.   I used to think it was because I'm an identical twin (a once-whole egg that split in half) and that I was just missing my "other half."   Or maybe, when I was little, I needed more hugs from my mom.  Or.  Something.  Most of the time I'm too busy to think about it.   

But my life is simpler these days, now that I'm not teaching at the college any more.  I can sleep in late, if I want.  Or I could if I didn't have border collies, and wasn't a total morning person.  Nothing quite as wonderful as the sunrise!  (Except maybe a beautiful sunset.  And the full moon.  And...and....) 

Today I woke up sure.  That's the weirdest part about this feeling!  What, exactly, am I yearning for?  Life is good.  Other than the relentless political scene of an election year.  All the PACs, attacks, lies and counter-lies.   And a few other more important clashing, grinding social/cultural problems. 

Lately I've been thinking about this quote:  "I don't want to be a consumer in a corporate world.  I want to be a citizen in a community!"  Maybe I'm yearning for.....a community....?

So this morning, filled with that mysterious yearning, I went outside and walked up and down the path in our backyard for 1/2 hour or so, as quickly as I could, while the dogs ran.  Nothing like a brisk walk in the company of good dogs to soothe the soul.

This amazing oak branch winds its way to the sun above the lower path. 
I love the beautiful weight and strength of it.

The camellia bushes are coming into bloom.
They're about twelve feet tall, carrying so many buds....
we'll soon have a corner carpet of red, white and pink.

Love watching Riff run.

A lot of folks I know are over at the fairgrounds, enjoying an AKC agility trial.  There will be a trial at the fairgrounds (10 minutes from my house!) every weekend this month.  I plan to take Riff over there to say Howdy! to some folks, and to work our start-line stays at the practice jumps.  I don't feel ready to compete yet.  But we're working on it! 

Yesterday we had a nice practice session out at LeapDog.  We worked on our contacts.  I threw a couple of weave sets in, too....he was perfect!   We also helped LP video some puppy-training with Clever.  That puppy is so CUTE, and a real firecracker.   She's getting big fast...I'll need to get some photos before she's all grown up. 

I did manage to grab an iPhone shot of Riff running in the back pasture after our practice time.  He loves those wide-open spaces.  

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