Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #13

1. What is your favorite Little Debbie snack? If you hate Little Debbie then I bow down to your greatness. (I suppose you can include some other favorite snack. Maybe it'll inspire me to get over LD for today.)

I am not sure what they are called but they are two oatmeal cookies glued together with marshmellow stuff.  Fortunately I have not eaten them in years and I am not about to start.  Ice cream and beer are my only vices. 

3. What do you use for laundry detergent?
Tide because I knew a woman chemist who was involved in testing detergents and Tide was the most effective that they found.

4. Tighty Whities or Boxers? (this, obviously, is open for interpretation)
hmmm.  I’m gonna go with tighty whities but I could swing either way.  This too is obviously open for interpretation.

5. Dogs: On the bed? In the house? On the furniture? Never? What are your rules?
Oh my lord.  This morning I came down from the shower and Olive was standing right in the middle of the coffee table.  I guess we do have rules however.  Dogs are not allowed on the counter tops or in the refrigerator. 

That brings to mind one of my favorite stories about training my dogs not to get up on my desk and monkey with my yarn supplies.  We have a gizmo called a Scat Mat that is a clear plastic covering that gives out a static electricity jolt when pressure is applied.  I placed the Scat Mat on my desk with some very enticing yarn balls as bait.  Several days passed and nothing happened.  Then one morning the alarm clock went off and I walked around the bed to turn it off, stumbling over a pair of shoes and landing with both hands on the Scat Mat covered desk.  Thousands of volts of electricity (this is a tiny exaggeration) shot through my body and I thought that I was perhaps having a heart attack.  Finally I realized the cause and jumped back.  Victor and Olive were sitting close by, snickering.  They never fell for it, but developed mad skillz at getting things off the counter/desk by placing their paws very carefully on the edge.

6. Favorite dog-related website (aside from my blog, obviously har har har)? Favorite NON-dog related website? Can be blogs, or whatever.

I am addicted to looking at results on the AKC Event Search.  It is so gratifying to NEVER see my name on the list of dogs that have qualified.  It makes me feel special.  Short bus special.

My absolute favorite website is  If you are a knitter and you are not on ravelry, well you are not a real knitter.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #12

1.       If you won the lottery (a big one... I'm talking stupid muchos cash) what would you do with the money?

Not if, but when, I win the lottery I have plans for the money that will benefit you, my loyal readers.  The money will be used to build and run a retirement community for elderly dog trainers.  There will be a compound of cabins...simple dwelling places that have one bedroom, one bathroom, a small living area, and a kitchenette.  Each cabin will have a front porch.  There will be an indoor/outdoor kennel off of the bathroom.  There will be a special cabin for Karen that has extra facilities for breeding...a honeymoon suite for the actual breeding, a welping room for the birth, and posh puppy indoor/outdoor facilities.   There will be a central dining facility where we will all gather for the meals, prepared by a fabulous chef.  There will be a large training facility with an area for obedience rings and agility courses that has flooring suitable for elderly dogs and people.  And of course plenty of walking trails and fields/woods to play in.

2.       After winning the lottery would you work a day job? If so, what would you do? 

I would continue working my day job as a computer programmer.  How lucky are we to live in a time when we can make enough money to pay entry fees by sitting at a computer all day, writing amusing programs, and eating snacks.  I love my job.

3.       Do you have any auxiliary dogs? Auxiliary dogs are dogs that are not essential to your main purpose (usually tiny, but not always). If you don't have an auxiliary dog what might you choose?

Hmm.  Does Norton count as an auxiliary dog?  He never Qs in utility.  He spends most of his time in the bedroom deep in thought about how to frustrate my every training attempt.  

Does Dick count as an auxiliary dog?  He is less trainable than Norton, but he does bring me food.  Which I appreciate because otherwise I would die of starvation.

4.       Do you have a favorite crock pot recipe (or other recipe) you can share?

Tortilla soup. 
Get a package of boneless chicken thighs. 
Put them in the crockpot. 
Wash your hands.  Wash them again. Ewwww. 
Put a can of tomatos in the crockpot.
Put a can of beans in the crockpot.
Put a jar of salsa in the crockpot.
Put a can of corn in the crockpot.
Cook on low for 10 days (maybe this should be 10 hours).
Invite me over.
Eat with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #11

1. What movie do you love but are too embarrassed to admit you love it?

I don't really watch movies but am obsessed with cheesey TV shows.  Recently I watched 40 episodes of a teenage drama called "Make it or Break It".  Now I am watching "Friday Night Lights" which is almost respectable.  Last year I watched all of "Lost" on my streaming Netflix and I am thinking about watching it all over again.

2. Ann wants to know: How far do you drive/travel to attend trials, clinics, lessons? How far is too far?

I don't drive very far to trials because honestly what is the point of driving 5 hours to end up in last place in Utility B?  I'll only drive 1 1/2 to serve as OTCH fodder.

I don't go to seminars or clinics anymore because they irritate me.  Almost everything irritates me.  Maybe I need to stop drinking so much beer.

Lessons, on the other hand, lessons.  My last lesson that I took I drove 16 hours (each way).  It was worth it.  I've driven over 12 hours (each way) for lessons at least 2 dozen times in the past 6 years.

3. What is your theme song (circa Ally McBeal)?

When I am uneasy I hum "I'm in the Mood For Love".  Loudly.  So that is the annoying sound you are hearing as I unpack my crates at a trial.  Is there a deep, disturbing psychological reason for this?  You be the judge.

4. Laura S wants to know: If you had to choose a new dog activity, one that you had never done before, what would you choose?

Whatever the hell Norton would be good at.  Last year I tried herding with him.  He galloped merrily around the sheep until they stopped and looked at him.  Then he too stopped and stared at me.  The herding instructor deemed his herding instinct at ~zero.

Maybe we will try free style.  I like to wear costumes, make up silly stories, and hop around.  Maybe I will start a new dog sport that combines free style with stand up comedy.  Then we can suck at that too.

5. What would your dog choose (or scribe, if you're Pippin)?

Norton - eating ice cream on the sofa and killing rodents
Victor - eating anything including underpants, socks, poop, and rodents
Olive - agility!
Secret - marathon cuddling

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Heart Dog - Norton

Norton and I have been on a rocky journey for 8 years.  He is my Novice A dog.  When he was 3 years old and I was getting scores in Novice that were < 180 I did what any intelligent and analytical person would do.  I went to trials and I talked to the people who were doing well.  I talked to people who placed, whose dogs were animated, who had the same breed of dog that I had (Keeshond).  And I tried to follow their advice. 

They told me who they trained with.  And I drove 12 hours (each way) to take lessons with these people.  I read the books they told me to read and I watched the DVDs they told me to watch.  In fact I read them over and over again and played the DVDs hundreds of times.  I took vidoes of my lessons and I studied them.  I tried to do what my trainers were telling me to do even though sometimes it just seemed wrong.

Norton's performances in training and in the ring deteriorated..  He earned one UD leg in 2008 and now is unable to pass even one exercise in Utility.  He completely panics in any ring situation.  Everyone who watches continues to tell me "he is blowing me off" and needs to be corrected.  Even the best trainers.

One year ago, in desperation I called Diane Bauman on the phone (because she had been successful in training Keeshonden).  I had read her book "Beyond Basic Obedience" because my friend Sandy Schmidt spoke so highly of it.  Diane was extremely generous in watching videos of my training sessions, meeting with me (another 15 hour drive!) emailing back and forth and talking to me on the phone.  She told me that Norton was not "blowing me off", that he was confused, frustrated and wanted to be right.  It has taken me a year to realize the truth of this statement. 

My other three dogs are benefiting greatly from what Norton has taught me.  Sadly, I doubt that Norton will ever earn the other 2 legs that he needs to finish his Utility title.  But I am so blessed to have time to continue to train him and learn from him.  He is my heart dog and my greatest teacher.

Here is a video of Norton staring at himself in the mirror...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

TMT #10

Going forward over the next six months, what are your goals?

1.  Finish Norton's UD title.  I need two more legs and prayers from everyone in order to get them!
2.  Qualify in utility with Secret, Olive, and Victor 4 times each with scores > 190.
3.  Train wonderful lovely perfect 2o2o contacts with Victor, Secret, and Olive.
4.  Train to-die-for weave poles with Victor, Secret, and Olive.
6.  Train drop-dead-gorgeous rear crosses with Victor, Secret and Olive.
7.  Enter an agility trial with Victor, Secret and Olive...maybe just JWW.

I wanted to explain from last week what article bags are.  In the obedience utility class, there is an exercise called Scent Discrimination.  The dog has to choose from a set of nine little metal and leather objects the single object that has your scent on it.  These objects are called "articles" and you store them in a sacred spot, the "article bag", where air can circulate around them. 

Utility handlers are extremely paranoid and superstitious about their articles because they possess magical powers.  Sometimes the dogs can easily choose the correct article and sometimes, mysteriously, they can not.  So there are many rituals that surround the articles.  These are obedience secrets that only known by the 30 people who are currently showing their dogs in utility.  The same 30 people that succeed in beating me each and every weekend because, frankly, I suck.

Anywho, since no one reads this blog, not even my parents and husband, I feel quite comfortable in sharing these secrets with you, my non-existent public. 

Behold the Utility Handler Article Commandments:

Thou shalt not wash thy hands for 16 hours before showing in Utility.
Thou shalt not take any new medication (except for Valium) for fear that thy scent might change and confuse thy dog.
Thou shalt not let stewards place a hand on thine scented article.
Thou shalt rip a new asshole in the steward who mixeth thine scented and unscented articles together.
Thou shalt not leave thine articles unattended les "she who shall not be named" dumpeth a cup of coffee on them when thou ist distracted.
Thou shalt engage in strange article cleansing rituals one week prior to showing.
Thou shalt not make fun of other handlers who insist that their articles be placed in the article box "just so".

And here is a wee video of  Secret doing articles this past weekend:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TMT #9

1.       If you're not at the 2011 Sheepdog finals this weekend what are you planning to do?

Show Olive and Secret at an obedience trial.   I entered Olive this weekend before experiencing her extremely dismal performance over the Labor Day Weekend.  It will be interesting to see if the cooler weather helps make the run better.

2.       One item you NEVER walk onto the trial field (any trial field, or training class will suffice) without?

Scent articles.  I am obsesssed with Utility right now.   I am also obsessed with my scent article bags.  Like fashionable ladies are with their fancy designer purses.

Secret's article bag has a picture of her on it.


Victor's bag is made from an old tuxedo shirt and is very formal.  Because that is how he is.


Norton's bag has a cheese theme coz he LOVES cheese.


Olive's bag has a martini theme because I want to drink heavily after I show her.


All of our article bags were custom made by Susan Naffziger from Albany, IN.

3.       Katy wants to know if you have a pre-run ritual that you observe?

Go to the bathroom 50 bajillion times.  And I have to go RIGHT BEFORE I walk in the ring or things get really scary.

4.       How old were you when you had your first real kiss?

I don’t remember when or who.  Isn’t that sad?  It was a looooonnnnggggggg time ago.

5.       Bonnie wants to know what you do for yard mud control during the winter?

I can't wait to hear what other people have to say about this.  The backyard is a mud and rock mountain.   Any kind of covering ends up at the bottom of the hill after the first rain.  So our solution is to walk the dogs on leash in the front yard.  I like knowing the status of winkies and dookies anyway.  And Norton jumps over the 4’ chain link fence in the back.  Does anyone else have a backyard that is too sloped for mulch/straw/gravel?

The evilness that is the backyard:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #8

1.       What is the biggest thing that grossed you out over the past week?

The amount of dog hair in my backyard.  I groom on the deck.  Hope the neighbors like dog hair on their grill!  Happy Labor Day picnic! Extra protein! 

2.       What do you feed your dogs?

Victor – Holistic Select Anchovy and Sardine because he has terrible allergies
Everyone else – Eagle pack plain old in the blue bag because they get too skinny on the Anchovy and Sardine.

All dogs get a big dose of Dinovite ( on top of their food.  Since I’ve been using the Dinovite, Victor’s hair has gotten much thicker and he no longer has a possum tail.

Sometimes Victor eats underpants.   I suspect my husband has been giving him the “old lady” style undies.

3.       If you could move anywhere where would you live?

I’d like to have a pole barn where I could set up my agility and obedience equipment.  Next to my charming stone cottage in Scotland. Can I have a handy man to do my yardwork?  Good!

4.       What is the funniest thought that occurred to you (or thing that happened to you) this week?

While brushing Norton’s teeth prior to bed on Sunday (he is unable to do this without my help) I was bent way over, scrutinizing his gums.  When I finished I stood up and whacked my head on the bathroom doorknob.  There may have been beer involved.

This reminds me of a time when I was dremelling toenails and drinking beer.   The dremel got caught up in my hair...all the way up to my temple.  Do not dremel unless your hair is pulled back!  Especially when drinking adult beverages!

5. If you couldn't have your breed of choice what would be next on your list?

I have two Keeshonden, and Australian Shepherd and a Border Collie.  BCs are my favorite with the Keeshond being next on the list.  I’d like to have an Afghan Hound, Golden Retriever, another Keeshond, and another BC.  I’d also like to trade my husband for one that would let me have 8 dogs.  Just kidding honey.