Friday, October 30, 2009

see you in a few days!

Going to visit my sister and nephews for a few days. The dogs are coming with. I'll try and take a few photos while we are there. I thought about dressing the dogs in costume for Halloween, but I just can't do that to my dogs. Oreo may wear his Polish bandana, and my mom suggested Misty wear her "chilly buddy" cooling coat. Everyone always says she looks like an astronaut when she wears it.

Hope everyone has a happy Halloween. See you in a few days!

My oldest nephew made the news last night! He was in one of the "l's". You'll have to watch to see what I'm talking about. I hope he doesn't mind me bringing him some Yankees (the "evil empire") stuff!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

then & now

Ricky had a great idea to show some old videos of when our dogs were puppies.

Since Misty was 2 when I got her, I don't have any puppy stuff of her, which really stinks.

I didn't have a video camera when Oreo was a puppy. However, I did take some short videos with my camera. Here is one for our Then & Now series. You've seen our "now video" before. Boy was my house a disaster area when I had a puppy!

Oreo after his bath THEN.....

Oreo after his bath NOW.....

Not much has changed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

tricky t-day...stand in the corner

Ricky gave us the idea for this week's trick...stand in the corner.

We've been working on it for a few weeks, and Misty just started learning about a week ago. She's doing better than I thought.

I can think of numerous times when Oreo could use a good "time out". Not so sure if time outs work for dogs! I'd sure like to send Oreo to the corner each time he steals one of my gloves. Not only does he steal them, but he hides them too. Sometimes, they are buried at the bottom of his toy box. I've found some stuffed between the couch cushions. I really hate it when he puts them under the bed. Takes me forever to find those. Why does he do that?

Silly boy.
Oreo usually gets lined up in the corner a bit better than in the video, but I think it had more to do with where I was standing. Usually I stand a bit more behind him, rather than off to the side. I would have been right in the way of the camera though.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Have I ever taken you....

Jeff and I went to lunch at Panera's today. After lunch, we got in Jeff's car, and were about to leave the parking lot, which is adjacent to Walmart.

Jeff said, "I've taken you behind Walmart before, right?"

I burst out laughing.

Jeff said it as though he were asking if he had taken me to some fancy restaurant before, rather than the loading docks of the world's largest Made in China store.

For whatever reason, I could not stop laughing to answer his question, until it was too late. We were already heading home. There would be no fun filled excursion today.

Finally, I was able to say, "No, you've never taken me behind Walmart before." I'm so deprived.

Jeff said, "Well, we don't have the truck today anyway, so it's not like we could have done any good dumpster diving."

Did he honestly think I would take part?

Then, Jeff said, "I read your blog ya know. About my dumpster diving. It was funny."

"Yes, you are, " I said.

Jeff replied, "That's not what I meant. I meant your blog was funny."

Same thing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

green tunnel of love

Oreo was a bit out of sorts at class today. It was pouring rain and windy outside. This creates some weird sound effects in the coverall building. Oreo usually isn't bothered by weather related noises at home, but I guess this was a different location.

His safety zone was a green tunnel. Whenever there was a strange noise, he headed right into the green tunnel.
This was the same tunnel we had so much trouble with at a DOCNA trial this summer. After the trial, I gave him lots of treats for going in the green tunnel! Guess he never forgot that?

So, it wasn't our best class ever. Oreo was very distracted, even though there were hardly any distractions around!

Just not his day. It happens.

He did do his weave poles correctly each time, so that was an improvement from last time. My teacher had gone out to the field to bring a "good" set inside for my sensitive boy.

My teacher wanted us to leave on a positive note. She set up a speed circle using a few jumps set at low heights, the beloved green tunnel, and another tunnel at the opposite end. First I ran with Oreo, and he seemed happy and was speedy.

Then, she had me run Oreo and Misty at the same time. That was fun. You could see a bit of sibling rivalry coming out, as Oreo had to keep pushing forward to stay ahead of Misty.

It was a good way to end class.

My teacher mentioned me joining the local winter agility league. The group was actually written up in the October issue of Clean Run, page 38. I think it would be great for us. You get to try out different venues. Treats are allowed. Plus, you only do a couple runs.

Sounds like it would be a great way for Oreo to gain some experience in a positive, and less stressful manner than an actual trial.

We haven't trialed in a while. I have an entry ready to go for a CPE trial over New Year's, but I'm only signing us up for 2 runs. We may not even get into the trial. It usually fills, and ends up in a lottery.

I'm thinking we may forgo trialing over the winter, and just do the league. Then, hit the circuit again in the spring, after Oreo gains a bit more confidence. If we stay in level 2/3 CPE for the rest of our careers, I'm really ok with that. I'm more about personal Q's, than the ones on paper.

news from here

Good news, Dad is home from the hospital.

Bad news, I haven't done agility in over a week!

Misty is sighing incessantly and talking in her sleep.

Oreo is constantly climbing my leg trying to get my attention.

Work is stressing me out. Maybe that's because I feel stressed/worried in other areas of my life right now.

Glad I have my dogs, reminding me to take a deep breath, and go outside and play once in awhile.

I'm going to take an agility class this afternoon. Hope my head is clear enough to remember to put my treat bag in the car this time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

the whole story

For those of you who thought Misty was being "motherly" in my Then & Now post. You didn't get the whole story.

Misty says, "Don't even think about taking my chewie."

Oreo says, "I'm cuter. I get whatever I want. Dontcha know? And I want what you got!"

Misty's thinking, I so want to bite your head off right now, but I know you're just a toddler.

Oreo says, "Did I do something wrong? Why'd you give her another one? Can I have that one too? This is so unfair."

My hip Dad is doing well. He made it through surgery, and now we have to hope he behaves himself in the hospital. They want you up and moving as soon as possible. Mom said "Mr. Exercise" was already doing exercises he read in a brochure last night. I fear my incessantly competitive Dad may start challenging interns and young doctors to races down the hallway.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

my hip dad

My dad is getting a new hip tomorrow. A few months ago, I told him he should ask the doctors to put his old hip in a jar, a souvenir of sorts. He could bring it to his office at school. I bet the biology majors would think it was cool.

Just think about where that hip has been, and what it has done!

I can't even imagine how many revolutions it has done on a bicycle. Must be in the trillions. Dad has ridden 100 miles, in one day, many times. Century rides they call them. That hip has pedaled hundreds of miles to raise money for MS and the Leukemia Society. My Dad has also trained many other riders to do the same. I wonder how much money has been raised for Leukemia research as a result of all those revolutions?

How many miles has it walked? More than most people for sure. Always walk on a diagonal when you can though.

How about the time Dad snow shoed to the grocery store? Instead of removing the two tennis racket-like contraptions from his feet, Dad chose to clomp around the grocery store in them. I'm sure that was great for the hip, and my reputation in high school. Having a dad who donned lycra pants 10 months out of the year, without inhibition, wasn't enough humiliation.

How many laps has it kicked/run in a pool? In Lake George? Lake Michigan? OK, maybe Lake Michigan was just too darn cold to swim in.

Hiking in the woods, with your young daughter on your shoulders? Skipping the trail, choosing rocks to step on through the creek bed instead. Or walking the Erie Canal, singing loudly, "Low bridge, everybody down..." Hiking Tongue Mountain, shouting, "We're not deer! Don't shoot us!"

Cross country skiing at Lapland Lakes. Dad would ski ahead, wait, and when we'd finally catch up say, "OK, ready?" We'd never get to rest!

From playing half ball and basketball on the streets of Philadelphia, that hip has traveled to Delaware, New York, Chicago, Tampa, SanFransico, Ireland, Canada, Colorado, Arizona, Maine, New Orleans, and countless other places.

It has competed in the Empire State Games, and walked across the stage of several schools and universities to accept numerous diplomas and degrees.

Isn't that hip jar worthy? A trophy of sorts?

Here's to your new hip Dad! I can see why you need a new one. You've totally abused this one. Shame on you.
Can't wait to see my new bionic dad in action.

Now for all of you who feel compelled to leave goodwill messages to my dad, feel free. However, please remember my Mom. She will be the one who has to listen to Dad complain about not being able to ride his bike while he is recovering. Mom may be the one who deserves the trophy in the end.

Tricky T-day...shy

Yes, Oreo is a shy dog. Timid. Lacks confidence. Term used most in our house - freakboy. "Shy" is a nice way to describe his shirking behavior around strangers.

I've been trying to teach Oreo the shy trick, where the dog puts his paw over his face, for almost a year.

Seems to me that all methods to teach this trick involve annoying your dog. Putting a piece of tape on the snout, so he will brush it away. Using a post it note, a band aid. Putting a hat on your dog.

I tried tape & a post it, and it did work, but I couldn't seem to fade the tape being on his nose. Besided keeping Scotch in business, I felt like I was wasting my time.

One night, Jeff blew on Oreo's face. My dogs hate that! Oreo swiped his nose!

"SHY!" I shouted. "That's how I can teach him!"

Jeff said, "I want credit for that."


The next day, clicker/treats in hand, it took one puff in his face, a click/treat/cue word and Oreo had "shy" down.

All those wasted months and rolls of tape......

Yes, I was still annoying my dog, but I only had to do it once or twice.

I'd like to get Oreo to hold his paw on his nose, because right now the trick looks more like swatting flies, than playing shy. However, I figure if I push for more, it may qualify as torture. We'll keep practicing....with our cue word & more annoying stuff.

Strange, dogs love wind blowing in their face. They stick their heads out car windows. Yet, they don't like it when we blow air at them. Wonder what the difference is?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

photo shoot friday

After I get home from work on Friday, I like to take photos of the dogs. Good way to unwind after a week. The dogs like it, because it usually involves treats.

Had to take some this Friday, before the rain/snow forecast for today ruined the leaves.

I'm really liking the overhead shots, which I've been doing a lot of lately....where the dogs sit, and I stand over them and look down with the camera. Isn't that how we usually see our dogs anyway? With them looking up at us? Sometimes Oreo's "broken ear" flips back, and sometimes it stays forward. I'm not used to seeing him with two ears straight up, but I think he looks cute. They're so pink on the inside, like a bunny.

Oreo stealing the shot.

side shot...can't believe I got them both to look at me.
Treat time!!!!! Look who's keeping up with Oreo. I think some one must have cheated a bit on the stay line.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I set up a pinwheel exercise in the yard, and have been working on it sporadically. I rarely practice pinwheels at home, because they seem easy to me.

However, when we encounter them in class, we often struggle, or I tend to baby Oreo through them. Perhaps, that's because we don't practice!

There was also a set of weave poles in the exercise.

Well, Oreo didn't have many problems with the pinwheel, but we did have some weave pole problems.

Not sure if it was actual problems with weaving, or if it was due to the ground surface conditions. It was wet, with wet leaves on top. I think that may have been part of it. However, I think he was popping out early, because I stopped before the last pole. Usually, I run past the last pole. When we had problems early in the poles, I think it had more to do with the entry not being straight on. New things to work on.

Oreo ran into some weave issues in class this week. My teacher thought it was because the poles were not resting on the dirt floor properly. Oreo is very sensitive to any change in the set up of the poles, especially the part of the equipment that rests on the ground. Makes me want to order a real set of weave poles for home.

Misty also tried the pinwheel. That was interesting. Were my feet most of the problem?

If you look closely in the background, you can see the massive treefort our next door neighbor is building. It is only in the beginning stages, but we just know this is going to be huge! The floor itself is already at least 6 feet by 8 feet. This is in addition to the two story victorian playhouse (with porch, Anderson windows, and electricity) and jungle gym, neither of which their children ever use. In fact, the playhouse is in better condition than their actual house, which we have watched slowly fall apart over the past 13 years.

Anyhoo, Jeff is now calling them the "swiss family robinson", and keeps saying we are living amongst the "tree people". I think they are trying to recreate their own Ewok village, from the movie Return of the Jedi.

Wouldn't mind so much, if it all wasn't 10 feet off our property line.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

rocks falling from the sky

Driving to agility last night, doing 55 mph, I had gone about 5 miles from my house. All of a sudden, it sounded like rocks were falling from the sky.

Weird. What is going on?

Was it my car?

Maybe a truck had dropped a bunch of rocks on the road. There are gravel pits all around.

I looked in my rear view mirror and saw rocks in the window. Saw the car behind me slowing down. I must be kicking up rocks on their car.

I keep driving. Eventually, I'll get through this rocky patch.

I drive a few miles. Still rocky....this is not good.

Then, it dawns on me.

I had left my treat bag on the roof of my car!

It's not rocks flying, it's Zuke's mini chicken! I'm scattering them all over Route 66!

OH NO! I won't have any treats for Oreo when we get to agility. Plus my discontinued clicker is in that bag!

I pull over.

Miraculously, the bag is hanging on to the rack on the roof.

Clicker, and some treats remain in the bag. Whew! Crisis averted.

I laughed so hard the rest of the way to class. Imagining the driver behind me getting pelted with dog treats. Good thing they were of the soft variety.

This morning, I remembered a car had stopped along side me when I was waiting to turn out of my road. I refused to look at the driver.

Thinking he/she was a weirdo, I looked the other way.

The person was probably attempting to alert me to the bag on my roof.

Yep, the weirdo was me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

tricky t-day - shut the door

I tend to let the dogs out, then go back in the house to get some stuff done. I leave the door open, so the dogs can come back inside when they're ready.

What I often forget to do is go back and shut the door. Therefore, we end up with bugs flying about the house. Plus, now that it is cooling down, it is better to keep the door shut.

I thought, why can't the dogs shut the door behind them? I know they can open doors. They plow through the bedroom door every morning at 7:22AM sharp. Jeff doesn't need an alarm clock. Two dogs who want their cheerios are sufficient.

For the past two weeks, I have been training the dogs to shut a door. Oreo is doing really well. Misty is still on step one. Poor girl.

We even got to work on this trick at the hotel, which was cool. I was surprised Oreo was able to generalize one door from another. The hotel is where Oreo started using his enthusiastic two foot method.

Here is our tricky video for the week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday.

Mom doesn't like photos of herself. I don't know why, I think she looks great.

I figured this photo was safe to post, since you can barely see her!

Happy Birthday Mom! Your biscotti are baked and waiting in my freezer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

back to the creek

Jeff wanted to go back to the creek, and take some Fall photos in the same place where he took some this summer. Ultimately, he wants a perfect photo, in the same spot, each season.

It was cool out this morning, but have tripod, hat, and gloves and we're good to go.
The dogs really enjoyed the excursion. Stopping to smell stuff along the way. Then, running to catch up with us.
While Jeff was shooting his photos....
....the dogs had their own photo shoot.

Here's one of Jeff's photos that I liked. The water was much lower than in the summer. We could see a lot more rocks. In fact, the rocks we were standing on today had been completely covered in raging water last time we had been there.

Fall is just glorious in the Northeast. If only it seemed like an entire season, rather than a few weeks of perfection, before winter is upon us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

serious dogs

I think the trees are just about near their peak right now around here. Gorgeous colors.

The dogs are taking it very seriously!

I just could not get the dogs to relax and pose at the same time this weekend. All I got was stoic faces. Are they real, or garden ornaments?

Guess I need to shoot some candids, if I want relaxed expressions.


Since my brother in law's death, I have repeatedly said, "My sister has a wonderful community."

It is true. My nephew's principal, teachers, counselor, after school program staff, friends, and parents of his friends made visits to the house. The school sent over a platter of sandwiches. His classmates made cards.

Neighbors brought food, entire meals, cleaned the road, and moved their cars to make room for visitors.

Many have offered specific things they are willing to do for my sister. Helpful hands & hearts reaching out in so many ways.

I looked up the word "community" on wikipedia. It stated that there are 94 discrete definitions of the term.

What definition was I referring to when I used the word?

I scrolled down to where it read, "sense of community".

Here is part of that section:

In a seminal 1986 study, McMillan and Chavis identify four elements of "sense of community": 1) membership, 2) influence, 3) integration and fulfillment of needs, and 4) shared emotional connection.

This is what I was feeling in my sister's NJ suburb. A sense of community. Each neighbor, parent, friend, teacher, childcare giver is a member of my sister's community. They each have an influence on each other's lives, especially the lives of the children. Each wants to make sure my nephews' and my sister's needs are met, ensure that they are OK. There was no doubt of an emotional connection between these community members, and my sister's family. Whether it was a hug, tear, bowl of chicken soup, or an invitation to Chuck E. Cheese, these people were sharing their emotions.

I don't even know these people, but I love them for loving my sister, and watching over my nephews. A wonderful community, no matter how one is defined.

Upon further reflection, I realized even in blogworld there is a sense of community. I have felt it from all of you. Complete strangers, brought together by a bond of a dog, a sport, a hobby, a photo, you name it. We share our lives, give advice, listen, laugh, and support each other through the good moments and our struggles. Yet, we live in different towns, states, countries and continents.

No wonder there are 94 definitions of community.

Friday, October 9, 2009

hotel for dogs

When we drove down to NJ to be with my sister and nephews, Jeff and I just threw the dogs in the car. No time to arrange for a pet sitter. I wanted to get to my sister as soon as possible.

My mom found a hotel that allows dogs in the room, so the dogs had their first stay in a hotel. They handled it with flying colors.
At my sister's house, Oreo spent a lot of time in his crate, where he felt safe. Misty spent a lot of time eating from the bowl of cat food. Oreo did play ball in the back yard, and went on a walk with me, my sister, a couple of her friends, my 3 year old nephew, and my 7 year old nephew who was on a scooter. He didn't seem nervous about that at all!

Talk about extreme socialization!

My 3 year old nephew got in both the dogs' playpen and the crate (when the dogs weren't in them). He called Oreo's crate his "van". My nephew was the source of a lot of smiles this week. Together, we taught Misty how to knock down his set of bowling pins. It was a really cute trick. My nephew got to work the clicker, a bit overzealously at times.

Both dogs waited patiently in the car during the memorial service.

I'm glad I brought them with us. They were comforting for me, and it would have been added stress, if I was worrying about how they were doing left alone at home.

Thank goodness they have spent so much time traveling, using crates, waiting in the car and such during agility classes, trials and seminars. It really came in handy this week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

weeping tree

Last Saturday, I was outside cutting hydrangeas off the tree I had planted in memory of my niece Sabine.

Sabine was my sister's and brother in law, Alan's daughter, and my nephew's twin. She lived less than a month. She died a little over 7 years ago.

I wanted to cut the flowers, before the first frost. Hydrangea are great for drying, and they look pretty all year.

When I went out to the tree with my pruners and basket, the tree was heavy with pink blossoms. I don't think it has ever had so many.

I thought to myself, "The tree looks like it is weeping."
I went inside to get my camera and take a photo.

I was going to post a few photos later that day. However, before I even had a chance to download the photos off my camera, I received a phone call.

The news could not have been worse.

I've been unable to post anything since, because putting it in writing would make it seem too real and I didn't want it to be real.

You can read what happened here.

Was Sabine's tree weeping for her Dad?

Was it foreshadowing our tears to come?

Or were those branches long arms reaching out to comfort us in the days to come?

I don't have any answers, but I thank everyone who has left kind words, messages and prayers. They really meant a lot to me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

There has been a serious tragedy in my family. I will be away from blog world for several days, while I do what I can to help my family.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fall is here!

It's official. Fall is here. I put the electic blanket on the bed.
I can't walk the dogs before work anymore - too dark out. I really hate daylight savings time. Exactly what are we saving it for? I'm up at 6:00AM. I'd like some light.
The dogs don't seem to mind Fall, in fact I think they love it. Both are playing more.

They spend a lot of time rummaging in the "dog garden" for last minute greens before the first frost. I don't think it will be long before the first frost hits. I heard the "s" word in the forecast for the "hilltowns". ("s" meaning snow)

I love Misty's "Billy Idol" impression in this photo.

Both dogs are in the midst of chewing. They look ridiculous.

Here they look angelic.
Don't let them fool you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

dogs in london

For those of you who don't know, Oreo and Misty are currently taking a tour of England with their pal, Ludo & friends. Boy, they get out more than I do.

Here is Misty in front of Buckingham Palace. I'd sure like to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry myself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

exciting news

My teacher told me last night that next year's DOCNA nationals are going to be held at her place! Too cool.

Now I am extra excited that we have already qualified. We won't have to travel, and Oreo will be in a familiar environment. Plus, I'm really happy for my teacher and her husband. They are good people, will be wonderful hosts, and deserve it!

They just took in 7 new foster dogs, temporarily until they move onto their "permanent foster homes". They got the dogs, as a result of a raid on a puppy mill in Tennessee, which was actually dubbing itself a"rescue" in order to maintain non profit status. The dogs were in wretched condition. The man had over 100 dogs.

I thought I'd share the story. The photos are heartbreaking, but if you click on "more photos from day 1", you'll see the kind people, with their loving hands welcoming the dogs to the farm. Read the descriptions written about each dog, and you'll know these dogs will be loved and cared for.

I got to meet the 7 dogs last night. As soon as my teacher and I walked into the agility building, all you could hear were tails thumping against their crates. I wanted to cry.

Some one had sent a box filled with some new toys. One of the dogs found joy in a stuffed fleece bone for the first time in her life. How lucky I was there to witness. She kept going back to the box to look for more toys. The dogs were so sweet, and loved the attention. How sad that they had been living without affection their whole lives.

Here is the story. The dogs are in a good place now.