Wednesday, April 28, 2010

9 Days Til the Specialty

Tonight is our last obedience class before our last obedience class before we leave for nationals. We are still trying to get in our one rally course per day, although have had a little bit of trouble recently due to the rain. Poor little Lemon still hasn't gotten her fair share of prep work for conformation. I keep trying to convince Chris to show her in conformation since she has so much more fun with him, but it seems like a losing battle. I find Lemon to be significantly more challenging to work with than Jackson. Jack and I have been taking classes and working together since he was a puppy (almost 4 years they grow up fast), so he tends to get immediately what I want him to do. Lemon on the other hand... sometimes we're not on the same page. And since Chris and I aren't always on the same page, I'm thinking that maybe Chris and Lemon are on the same page???? See Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for evidence supporting that theory.

Same Page Exhibit 1: Love at first sight

Same Page Exhibit 2: Snuggling together on the couch
Same Page Exhibit 3: Working Together on a Project

Same Page Exhibit 4: Gracefully Gaiting Together During a Fun Match (you won't find a picture of Lemon looking anything like this in a REAL match when I am handling her, that picture would be of her jumping along like a kangaroo while I look annoyed and try not to trip over her)

Same Page Exhibit 5: The Trust Drive--Chris closes his eyes while Lemon tells him where to go

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And the Bloopers Reel (sorry Jack)

Potential Superstar

Jackson was in another photo shoot a couple of months ago, and I just got the CD with all the pictures from the shoot. We are lucky to have such a kind photographer who is willing to share his photos with us. Now, his pictures haven't techinically been used yet on any products (that I know of), but they are lovely pictures just the same. I have no idea how long the process takes to put his picture on the box, so who knows if we will ever see his smiling face on a shelf somewhere... but for now, a sampling of his pictures:

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Happy Ending

On Monday I was driving home from school, had just turned on to Murlen (only 40 mph, but gets some traffic) when I saw a dog running down the sidewalk. He stopped, turning to look over his shoulder at a woman jogging by. The woman stopped abruptly upon seeing the dog, ran out into the street, giving the dog a wide berth, then back onto the sidewalk and continued jogging. I shook my head, rolled my eyes, and turned the truck around to go check out this dog. By the time I had the truck turned around, he had taken back up running for his life down the sidewalk. I was able to pull into the grocery store parking lot about 100 yards ahead of him. I stood close to the sidewalk, and when he got close, I called him, thinking he would keep on running by. But, his eyes lit up and he ran straight to me...grateful that a human finally realized SOMETHING was not right here!

I realized he was an older guy, gray faced, and boy was he hot from all the running! It was a warm day, and with a totally black coat he was panting like crazy. He had a collar on, but no tags. I called Chris to get the Olathe Animal Control number. He asked me several times if the dog was really lost. I do have an unfortunate history of finding "lost" dogs in their own front yard, putting them on a leash, calling their owners on my cell phone, then having disgruntled owners coming out the front door or from the back yard on their phone looking at me like I am crazy. Once, in Manhattan, I found a little dog in our unfenced backyard. He was wearing a rabies tag but no ID tag, so I called the company, gave him his rabies number, they gave me his owners name, then I looked up the name and phone number online, called the owner. Owner lived next door and had just let the dog out to potty. It turned out I had stolen their dog for 20 minutes. good intentions count for anything? How was I supposed to know they lived right there? Anyways, I assured Chris that this one really was lost, no owners in sight!

So, I called Olathe Animal Control from where I was, and they said they would be out to pick him up in the next few hours. I always figure the first place people will check is the city shelter. We drove around the neighborhood for a bit, scaring random people by pulling up next to them and asking if they knew who he was. No one did.

So we came home and sat in the shade in the front yard. Had some water, got to know each other a little bit better. I took his picture:
and posted it to Craigslist as a found dog. I also put it in the KC Star. He was obviously loved by a family, with trimmed ears and feet, and a lovely temperament. I hoped it was just a matter of time before they found him. Animal control showed up (very nice by the way) and he had to suffer the indignity of riding in the back. I requested he be allowed to ride in the front, but something about legal blahblahblah (damn lawyers). But, it was air conditioned (I checked), so hopefully it wasn't too bad of a ride.

I thought about him all week, wondering if I should call and make sure his family found him. Then wondering what I would do if they hadn't found him... So I didn't call. But boy was I glad to receive this email last night:

"I want to thank you so very much for your assistance with Chipper. Not only did he get out, but he lost his tag in doing such. We were frantic in looking for him as he is a much loved member of our family. We actually called Olathe Animal Control and was told that they did not have a dog matching Chipper's description. We found Chipper from your ad in Craigslist. Chipper is back home with us tonight. I cannot begin to tell you how happy we all are to have him back home. Again, thank you so very much for everything you did. It is greatly appreciated."

Oh, the warm fuzzy feelings I got reading that email! Chipper is back home with his family. A happy ending! I can imagine how I would feel if one of my dogs was ever lost, and I can also imagine how one of my dogs would feel if they were lost. I hope that someone would do the same thing for them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rally-O, Nationals Here We Come!!

I am getting very excited for my first Berner National. We have our moty-hoty spot reserved, our route planned, our dinners booked, our dogs registered, and the moty-hoty cleaned and in tip-top condition! Now, we are on to the important stuff...which is getting the dogs ready. The goals being:

1. All 3 dogs looking good. Somehow Lemon never blew her coat during her first season, however Jackson did... For the next month, we'll keep the house cold, supplement fish oil, yogurt, eggs, etc... to get those coats full and shiny (hopefully)!!

2. Lemon ready to show in conformation. This has been an ongoing struggle, as bounding, jumping, swan-diving off the grooming table, throwing temper tantrums, wiggling, butt-wagging and gaiting like a hunchback are all very serious hobbies of hers.

3. Hilga ready to be a great spectator and cheerleader. She is our moral support. I'm kicking myself for not entering her in the rescue parade (which isn't technically a parade but a photograph wall...but still). But, she won't know the difference and will have fun looking on from the sidelines!

4. Jackson ready for rally (and me ready for rally as well). This will be our first competition in rally or obedience, so we are very excited. No offense to Lemon, but it is much more fun and fulfilling to practice obedience with Jack than conformation with Lem. I don't need nearly as much patience and we get a lot more accomplished. To get ready for rally I made signs and we've been doing one Novice course a day (several times), and hopefully will continue doing so up until Nationals. He is doing great, and is even doing every course off-leash for one run through. Very fun and exciting to see him having fun at obedience! We should be ready to compete in obedience fairly soon! Soon we'll start traveling to more conspicuous locations to set up our courses...he needs distractions! That is our biggest problem.

Below are pictures of our sign-set up in the back yard. For those of you who don't know, in rally you follow a numbered course in a heel, and each number has a sign telling you what obedience act to perform (like sit, down, heel 360 degrees, etc...). I printed the rally signs off, put them in plastic paper protectors, then bought small garden fencing, cut it into individual posts, then clothspin the sign on the fencing. I also have numbered cones that sit next to the signs, although they aren't pictured below. Fairly easy, and makes for great practice. The hard part is finding practice courses!

Landscaping When Everything Must Be At Least Two Feet Off the Ground

Jackson, my dear, sweet, sweet boy, brings many challenges to our lives. I, for the most part, embrace his "enthusiasm" and understand he has the best of intentions. But, there is one thing I've been struggling with lately. Landscaping. When we moved into our house, there was this lovely row of little pine trees lining our back fence. They were full, plush from the ground up and green as can be. However Jackson also moved in, and he started his "watering" campaign immediately...

Jackson's theory is that the higher up the tree you "water", the more fun it is. If Jackson leans WAY to one side (I'll have to take a picture of that because it is a sight to see!), then he can hit just about the 2 foot mark. Some days he "waters" all of the trees along the back fence. He also enjoys "watering" the flowers and the barbaque grill cover, but those are different stories.

For three years now, Chris and I have been going out in the backyard, standing with hands on our hips and frowning at our pine trees. Over those three years, the trees started out drooping a bit on the bottom, then the needles started turning brown, then the needles started falling out. After three years, every single tree had a 2 foot ring around the bottom of dead, needleless, brown branches.

So what do you do? Replace the trees so Jackson can ruin new trees? Tear out the trees so Jackson has more direct access to the crazy dog behind us that barks like a maniac through the fence all the time? Hardly...

So I made a decision. I was going to turn our regular old little pine trees (that probably isn't even what the are...but close enough) into ornamental bushes. I carried the electric branch saw thing to the backyard, brought the powercords out, stepped back, put the saw down, went and got Chris, then had him cut the branches off. (Sometimes I get a bit too enthusiastic at projects like this, and I probably would have ended up cutting all the branches off until all that was left was the tree base, sticking up like a pole along the fence.) So, Chris cut, and I stood by saying "cut more off," and he rolled his eyes at me, reminding me that you can always cut more, but you can't put it back, and I rolled my eyes at him and said "cut more off." Ultimately, this is what we ended up with. I kind of like it. Thank you Jackson for being my landscaping inspiration!!!