Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 3 Update!

I officially have trucker's butt from the driving back and forth to Corvallis this many times in one weekend! Our long weekend of trialing has come to a close. And on a good note to boot!:O) But first, I have to tell you about the rest of yesterday, from what I heard this morning.

I am INCREDIBLY glad that I decided to leave when I did. If I had tried to stick it out, the dogs and I would have been absolutely miserable. Everything was taking forever and they didn't actually rap things up until around 9:30pm. That's right, more than 12 HOURS of trialing!! And we would have been in the very last group to run because I had both dogs enetered in novice Jumpers. Then we would have had to drive an hour and a half to get home, eat a very late dinner, grab a little sleep, and do it all over again the next day. The dogs wouldn't have been terribly happy and I certainly would not have been in the best frame of mind!

This morning I had a better game plan with the dogs. I knew that they really needed to stretch their legs a little bit before it started warming up, and Bess most definitely needed to get out and run a bit. So we went into one of the unused outdoor arenas. I shut and locked the gate and unleashed the hounds!! They were so cute! We raced around the dirt floor for a bit, but there wasn't a whole lot of running around. And Bess was more focussed on trying to wrestle with Heffner, who wasn't really in the mood for that. So we did some long distance recalls. This is something that Bess absolutely LOVES! She's great at staying and just totally digs in when it's time to come to momma! She gets going so fast that she usually flies right by me and has to turn around. Thankfully she no longer runs straight into me. And yes, she really did use to run straight into my legs if I stood still. Not fun!

Heffner was up for the game for a couple of rounds, but then he decided that it was just a lot more fun to follow me around. I went ahead and let him because I figured having him "practice" following me around would hopefully help with his moments of distraction in the ring. And I think it actually did! We did these little games for about a half hour. Then I got them watered and put into their holding pens.:O)

Thankfully the Jumpers rounds were going faster than anything yesterday did. I watched the elite and open people and then it was our turn. I quickly walked the course (it was a GREAT flowing course with only one tunnel, so there really wasn't much to it) and got Bess out to wait in line. We played tug for a little while and ran around the waiting area to burn off a little bit of the crazies. Then it was our turn!!

Bess did soooooo great! She stuck with me, was excited, but not too crazy, and had a clean run! We had one minor bobble where I pulled away from a jump too soon and she went around it to follow me, so I had to take her back over it. Unfortunately that little bobble cost us the Q, but she did AWESOME!! We were 4 seconds over on time and therefore didn't end up qualifying, but it was still a GREAT run!!

I quickly put Bess in her crate after a lot of hugs and smooches, and I got Heffner out of his penthouse. He was totally ready to go and was doing such a great job of only paying attention to me. I wasn't even really trying to hold his focus. You would have never known that he can be snarky by the way he was acting while we were waiting in line! And then his run! It was beautiful!! Totally clean and no bobbles! He got a few claps from the people watching when he zipped through the tunnel. Then we were in the home stretch and hauling tail to the finish jump! I was just totally thrilled with him! And he very definitely was thrilled with himself! However, we managed to be 1 second, yes 1 second over time and missed the Q. That's one of the frustrating things about NADAC, they're times are pretty tight, even for novice.

The next class after Jumpers was Regular, which was the one that took FOREVER yesterday. There was no way that I was going to wait around for 4+ hours just to get one more run in on each dog. Since it was still fairly early and cool out, I took the dogs for a walk along one of the trails by the fairgrounds. Unfortunately there was a foot race going on on the trail that I preferred, but we went on a route that goes across the covered bridge by OSU's agriculture fields. The dogs got to meander around off leash and we even got to go into a field that was open! Then we splashed around in the creek so they could get a drink and cool off a bit. After that we headed back to the fairgrounds to hang out in the shade for a while. Once they were cooled off, I loaded them and our stuff into the truck, and we headed for home!

Today was definitely a more positive feeling day. I feel like we accomplished more. Both dogs had great runs and they both had a great time! I had MANY compliments on how especially happy Bess looked while she was on the course all three days! Unfortunately there wasn't a photographer there at all and I didn't manage to get anyone to video tape either of the runs. But Bess has another trial in two weeks, so we'll try again there!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 2 Update wasn't as pleasant as yesterday. Not because of the dogs, but because of a combination of the running order for the classes and the weather. You'll have to bear with me a little bit, I'm going to vent on the side of negativity because I'm pretty annoyed and disappointed.

Our schedule for today was that we all left the house at about 6:30am. We had a 1.5 hour drive down to Corvallis. Thankfully it was early morning and it was nice and cool out, so no worries there. We got there, I took my time walking the dogs around and getting them settled in for the day. I had left Bess' crate there over night, so our prime spot by the door (which equals actual air movement; a very important thing as the temperature rises!) was saved. Things were all together perfect! I got Bess settled into her crate and Heffner settled into the bed of the truck (which I jokingly started calling the penthouse) in a wonderful shady area, and then headed off to watch the elite level people run their standard course. Well after a couple of hous of that, I took the dogs out in turn for some walking time, potty time, and mommy time.:O) I got them settle back into their respective areas and then it was on to watch the Open level people run their standard course. At this point, it's getting close to 11am and I'm getting really antsy! As it turns out, we didn't actually get to run our course, the very first course of the day, until 1pm!!>:O( This is seriously NOT okay! That's just about five hours of sitting around doing nothing when you don't count in the drive time. At this time the temperatures are already into the low 80's and the arena air is thick and unpleasant. So that leaves me with one heat sensitive dog who is starting to melt before he even gets to do his first run of the day, and one very energetic dog, who is NOT heat sensitive who is NOT used to just hanging out for 5+ hours and only getting a bit of walking around.

I ran Bess first and we were pretty much the comic relief! It wasn't bad, and I sort of expected it because she was just going stir crazy while we were waiting. She was tugging on her leash and just having a good ole time. Which is essentially what I want her to do, is have a good time. I want only positive associations with agility trials. So we step out onto the line, I tell the scribe her call name, I take off her slip lead, and she's off! LOL That girl has got some SERIOUS speed on her! She shot through the hoop and took off past the dog walk, which was supposed to be our next obstacle. However, even in the midst of a mad zoomie dash, she came right back to me when I called her. The rest of the course was pretty well done. A few more little crazy girl spots that were apparently pretty entertaining for those watching her. We didn't nail our weaves at all and I wasn't about to harp on her for that. It's just something that I need to work on and probably bring along my own set of warm up weave poles to the trial. All-in-all, she did a very good job for a poor pent up crazy girl! I did manage to coerce a bystander into video taping the run, though I really wish I hadn't! I haven't as yet reviewed the clip, but I doubt that I'll be posting it.LOL

I quickly put Bess back in her crate and ran out to the truck to grab Heffner (I had chatted with the other people in our height division to let them know I was running two dogs and needed to go first and last). He was VERY happy to see mommy!:O) We got inside the arena in the waiting area and he was just panting. I already felt bad because of how hot it was and how much down time both of the dogs were being forced to have. As is our usually Heffner was a bit distracted. Not too terribly bad, but he was also lagging a little bit. Usually if I get too far ahead of him he really picks up the pace and he wasn't really doing that. He also knocked a bar. Considering our jump height for NADAC at this trial is 20", that's just very unlike him unless I physically bump into him hard enough to throw him off. And I definitley didn't do that. So I'm already starting to get concerned (and SWEATY!!).

We then have a quick break while they re-number the course and run our level of Regular again going tallest to smallest (this makes for the least amount of course set-up time). I put Heffner back in the truck with his cool coat and collar on, go back and get crazy Bess out, and am the first person standing in line ready to go for round 2!

Round 2 went better. Bess had gotten her zoomies out in the first round, and except for botched weaves again, and one missed jump (my bad!), she had a clean, happy run! A little after our run, I realized that I hadn't actually entered her in the second round of Regular, but that's the sort of things that you can apparently get away with at a fundraiser (I'll go into that part later).

I then grab Heffner out. I spritz him a little, let him drink out of his favorite sprayer, and we're off. In his second round it was very readily apparent that he was done. He was panting a lot, he was lagging behind me and I don't think broke out of a trot the whole time, was having difficulties with his weaves, and knocked a few more bars. This is all just not like him.

Once we're done, I'm feeling really conflicted. Heffner definitely needed to be scratched, but Bess could have finished out her remaining runs. But it's also only getting hotter, I'm doing nothing but getting sweatier, and it's almost 2pm and there are still 4 more different classes (remember, at this point it is taking them around 5 hours to get through essentially two classes; the Regular 1 and 2 at all levels) with all levels and the various different jump heights to get through. I would be lucky if it was over by 6pm. Oh yeah, and there are NO CONCESSION stands at the trial and I didn't pack anything but a few snacks for myself. And the pop machines only accept $1 bills and all I've got is a $5. Did I mention that I'm also starting to get cranky at this point?:O) Thankfully not at the dogs!!

So my mind was made up. It would be incredibly unfair of me to ask Heffner to just hang out in the truck for the 4+ hours doing nothing, just so I could run Bess in two more runs. I also just wasn't really feeling up to it. So I packed the kids up and we headed home! And right now they are both sprawled out on the office floor around me passed out.

Now onto the beef about NADAC fundraisers. This fundraiser is to raise money for the championships or something like that. I didn't really pay that close attention. It's a trial and the only one that I was going to be able to make it to this month, so I entered. I will never again enter a NADAC fundraiser trial! First of all, they do whatever they can to cut costs. This means that the trial is put on by NADAC itself, and not by a host club. Which means that there is no support staff to speak of. Just one representative for NADAC, who happens to be the judge. They had to borrow equipment from the local agility club just to be able to put this on. There is no sign up sheet for volunteers to get everything organized ahead of time so that people can see what spots are needed at what times. There is also no official running order for the dogs other than level and jump height. This means that instead of being able to arrange things on a list ahead of time if you're running two dogs, you have to hang around until your time is getting close, find all the people in your jump height and figure things out so that you can make it with both dogs. In my opinion, this is NOT cool! It makes for a whole lot of people and dogs standing in a long line just waiting to go in instead of being able to keep your dog off to the side or working on things and being able to continually see what dog is on the line and how many more are ahead of you. It also means that there is no official checking in for each run. As I subsequently figured out, it also makes it incredibly easy to run your dog in a run that you didn't actually enter them in! If there had been a list and a gate steward, I would have known/been told that Bess was not actually entered in the second run of Regular. Oh well! In a nut shell, stay away from the fundraisers unless you don't get annoyed easily!:O)

My plan for tomorrow is that we'll still head down for the trial since the way things are scheduled we're "guaranteed" to be running our Jumpers courses first thing while it's still cool. Once it starts heating up, I'm scratching both dogs and we're heading home. It really sucks that I'm essentially throwing that money away, but there isn't anything else I can do other than make Heffner totally misserable. And probably myself in the process!

I've got Bess entered in a trial in June. Then we're taking July off because there aren't any trials within a reasonable driving distance that don't conflict with a dog show. And considering how much it really sucks for me to be running a course in the heat, I'm thinking that we're going to take the month of Aug. off as well. Then Bess will pick it back up in Sept. and Heffner will come back to it in Oct.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the results of the second Hoopers run from last night! Both dogs had clean runs!! Bess was over time by a bit because we had to redo a test set of hoops when she veered off to say hi to some people. Heffner was only over by 4 seconds!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 1 Update!

We made it through day 1 of the NADAC trial (even though it was only two runs)!! Juggling the two dogs was a piece of cake!:O) Traffic heading down to Corvallis wasn't the best and even though I gave myself extra time, I still got to the fairgrounds later than I wanted. It wasn't too bad though because there weren't a whole lot of people entered tonight. I've decided that running Bess first is the best way to go. It just seems to flow best for me.

I should probably explain that the hoop obstacles are these arches that the dogs have to walk under. They look like this:

The course is set up with a combination of test hoops and non-test hoops. The non-test hoops are set up in a straight. The test hoops are set up into different patterns that you have to execute correctly. Each level has a pattern in which they have to complete the course. For novice (that's us!), you have to first go through at least three of the non-test hoops in sequence. Then you have to do one of the test set ups. Then you have to another two non-test hoops in sequence. Then another set of test hoops. And finally you head off to the finish hoop. As much as I wasn't sure about how "fun" this games course was going to be, it turned out to be actually pretty fun. There's some planning required by the handler, but otherwise it's running around and keeping up with your dog. Oh yeah, and NO TUNNELS!!!

Bess' first run went really well! She got a little bit of the zoomies going through the first set of non-test hoops, but that just meant that she got ahead of me when I didn't totally expect it. She listened really well in the ring and we had a mostly clean run. We did get faulted some where, but I'm not totally sure exactly where. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may have had to do with her mouthing her leash, which is a HUGE no-no. I thought that we were clear of the ring before she did that. Who knows!

Heffner was pretty distracted for his first run, which is pretty much his MO. We had to re-do one of the test sets three or four times before we executed it properly. His run was totally clean, but we went over on time. Not too surprising!

Bess' second run went a lot better. She had a beautiful serpentine! Her only bobble was that she went up to the timer and scribe to say hi for a quick bit. I have no idea if we were faulted or qed or any of that because we left before they had posted the results.

Heffner's second run went a lot better. He was a little more sluggish, but it was a clean run and we hit all the test hoops the first time around!

So tomorrow we'll see how they both did on the final two runs and we've got a whole big day ahead of us. I'm a little nervous at the amount of dogs who are supposedly entered. There were a maximum number of 500 spots for the trial and rumor has it that all of those spots got filled. Yikes! That's a whole lotta dogs! There also wasn't a photographer there today, but I'm really hoping there will be tomorrow. Either way, I'm bringing my camera and I'm going to at least make one of the onlookers video tape some runs for me!:O)

Here we go!

This evening is the start of the three day NADAC agility trial that I have both the dogs entered in! They're both doing two runs of Tunnelers tonight because that's all that's offered. Saturday Heffner is running in Chances, Jumpers, two Regular courses, and Weavers. Bess is running in Jumpers, one Regular course, and Touch N Go (since this is her first trial, I want to see how she handles three runs in a day). On Sunday Heffner is entered in the exact same courses. Bess is entered in Jumpers, and both Regular runs. At the time I chose not to enter her in a Weavers course, but she nailed the weaves so well on Wed. night that I'm really wishing I had. Next time!

Unfortunately the temperatures are supposed to be in the upper 80's for all three days. I'm REALLY not happy about this and there is a possibility that I will pull Heffner from Sunday entirely depending on how Saturday goes. I've been to these fairgrounds before and thankfully there are a lot of shady places to park (I'm working on getting Heffner to be good in the crate, but we still have a ways to go so he stays in the truck) and a lot of indoor crating space for me to set up Bess. I'm also bringing down a cooler with ice and LOTS of water. Both dogs have cool coats that will be used as well as their Kool Collars. Heffner is also thankfully a fan of drinking out of the spray bottle and I'll definitely be using that on him. And hopefully getting Bess to like drinking out of it too.

I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that there are at least five other dogs in our level and height division. This will make it a lot easier for me to switch out dogs on the runs that they are both entered in. I'm seriously starting to think that I might be a little bit batty for bringing both dogs!!

I have absolutely no idea what time we'll be getting back tonight. And tomorrow, I want to be at the fairgrounds by 7am and it's about an hour and 15 min. drive, so chances are that you won't hear any updates from me until tomorrow night. Unless of course things are so fabulous that I just can't wait to share!!:O) Oh yeah, and here's hoping that my favorite photographer, Joe Camp, will be there so that I can finally get some shots of Bess running the courses!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Health Topic of the Month

Over about the past year I've been looking a lot more into natural remedies, alternative methods of healing and nutrition, and a holistic way of thinking about things in general. Basically, I want my dogs to be with me as long as possible and I want them to be as happy and healthy as they can be during that time. This has spurred me to look into alternatives to western medicine and the traditional way of doing things. I am thankfully in an area that abounds with all sorts of holistic healing including veterinarians specializing in holistic medicine.

One of the "branches" of holistic healing is massage. Massage is really beneficial regardless of who or what you are and what age you are. My focus is using it as a preventative method since both of our dogs are so young still. And as a matter of fact, I even have a canine massage practitioner that I use and absolutely LOVE (and the dogs absolutely do too!)! Her name is Rubi and you can find out more about her at Heffner gets fairly regular massages from her (we've had to scale back because we're tighter with the budget now) and I've also taken a Massage for Owners class from her with Bess!

Massage has many benefits. Not only is it yet another way to bond with your dog if you're the one giving the massage (part of the reason why I was reading the massage book I mentioned a few posts ago was because I wanted to have a reference manual at home that I could go back to), but it's a great way to keep them limber and hopefully prevent injuries. If your dog has a structural imbalance, the discontinuity in the body can build up over time and put more stress and strain on certain areas of the body and cause them to break down faster and cause your dog to be in pain down the road. By regularly massaging your dog you become familiar with what is normal and what isn't. Where your dog seems to be more tender or stiff. By routinely working on these areas and helping to keep them loose, you're helping to insure your dog's physical well being down the road.

Massage is also great for increasing circulation in the muscles and lymphatic system. Increased circulation means that more oxygen and nutrients are being brought to the muscles and other tissues. It also means that more waste and toxins are being removed from your dog's system.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


The technical definition of conditioning is basically any form of physical exercise that keeps one in shape. Therefore, my monthly conditioning blurb is going to be about conditioning/exercises that I do with the dogs to keep them in shape. I originally intended for this to be a monthly recurring topic, but I don't think it's going to last terribly long. The majority of the exercises that I do with the dogs usually involves myself getting exercise as well, which is always a good thing!

This month, my little exercise is tip is sort of seasonal. If you can find someone who owns one and will let you run your dog in it, or a publicly owned, not much cared about grass hay/tall grassish field, I HIGHLY recommend using it! The dogs tend to get a kick running around in what amounts to really tall grass! And it's a GREAT workout! Try just walking around yourself and you'll see what I mean!
The nice thing is that the dogs don't realy destroy anything. They may bend the grass a bit, but it bounces back and looks as though nothing happened. The dogs have to exert a fair amount of energy just running through the stuff because it's thick. As the grass grows taller, there's the added exercise of bouncing up and down to be able to see over the grass.

I like to play a little game with the dogs when they start roaming ahead of me. I duck down in the grass and quietly call their names. Once they look around to find me and can't see where I went, they come running! Of course, I make sure that I see what direction they're coming from so that I don't get trampled in the process. It's a total hoot!

I have two fields that I have access too. One is privately owned and the other is owned by the local little airport.

The reason I say this is a mostly seasonal exercise is because the grass hay doesn't have a terribly long growing season before it gets cut. So take advantage of it while you can and wear out those pooches!

Here's a couple of videos of Heffner and Bess running in the field near our house.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I know, the title just does NOT go with the picture. I just wanted to add a pretty picture to the beginning of my post to help calm myself down. I'm a little wound up right now. This weekend we have a three day agility trial and I'm running BOTH of the dogs for the very first time. And they're both at the same level. And they're both at the same jump height. And it's NADAC, which I don't even like all that much. And three days later I leave for Las Vegas. So I'm wound a little bit tight lately and it's definitely coming out while I'm running the dogs.

Last week everything went fine in Heffner's class. Nothing in particular to talk about. It was a good class. The next night it was Bess' turn. She has been doing REALLY well on her weave poles lately and has been doing a full set of 12. For whatever reason (I'm actually pretty sure it was my stress starting to build up) when we were doing the 6 set of weave poles she kept popping out at the very end. She hasn't done that in a good long while. By the end of practice we had fixed it, but I still thought it was a little weird.

Then tonight in Heffner's class, his weaves were not the usual. He was popping out in places that are just not normal for him. And I kept screwing up throughout the sequences and basically felt like a mentally handicapped person out there! It was a little frustrating.

I think I've been building up the trial this weekend a little bit too much and my over focussing on it is negatively coming out in how I'm "running" my dogs. As I said before, it's a NADAC trial and NADAC isn't my favorite. The times are faster and there are more tunnels on each course. It's especially bad on the games courses. I've been told the reasoning behind it is to "save" the dogs joints from the impact of jumping by substituting jumps with tunnels. My opinion is that if you're THAT worried about your dogs joints, then you probably shouldn't be running your dog in agility. But I digress!

I've put a little pressure on myself with this trial. I'm pretty sure this will be the last NADAC trial that Heffner runs because he just REALLY can't do all those tunnels. I've pared down the courses that he's running this time around. He's not doing as many runs as he did at the last NADAC trial and I know what I'm getting into this time around and have planned the runs accordingly.

This will also be Bess' very first agility trial. I think that she can handle NADAC and I may end up running only her in these trials in the future if I decide to stick with it. I'm also running her on a limited number of runs.

So basically, I'm a little stressed about juggling two dogs who are at the same level and jump height (though thankfully not ALL the same classes), running in a venue that I'm not really that fond of because it's not really giant breed friendly, and having a three day trial a few days before a leave for a four day vacation. And this is also going to be Heffner's last trial until the fall because he's not a fan of running in the heat. However, this weekend is supposedly going to get into the 80's and I'm not really pleased about that. But I will be totally prepared.

This post has sort of wandered all over the place, but the gist of it is that I'm a little tightly wound about the trial this weekend and I need to knock it off so that I don't throw my dogs off their game. And I want to have fun! For crying out loud, it's going to be Bess' first trial!!!

Alright, that's all I've got for tonight!:O)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cookie Time!

First of all, Happy Memorial Day!!! I had to go in to work for a little while this morning and took the dogs with me so that they could go play at one of the parks in the area (not frequently used by other dogs, but lots of un-landscaped area to run around in!) and burn off their energy. They had a great time running in and out of the creek, through the tall grass, and all over in between. Other than that, we decided to have a nice, very mellow day since our it's so rare that Adam and I both have a day off that we don't have it packed with things to do, either dog related or not. So I thought today would be a great day to try out a dog treat recipe! I got a new doggy cooking book yesterday, "The Everything Cooking For Dogs Book" by Lisa Fortunato. It's got some pretty neat looking recipes. I'll write down the recipe with my little notes added in []. While the dogs really like the cookies, they didn't quite turn out the way that I had hoped.

Peanut Butter, Carrot, and Wheat Germ Biscuits

Yields 30 biscuits [I got 23 biscuits after the couple pre-cooked cookies that Heffner filched off the counter when I took my eyes off of him for all of 3 seconds!]

1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unflavored wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup filtered water [um, yeah, my dogs are really okay drinking unfiltered water from the tap. But then again, Oregon has pretty good tap water.]

1) Preheat the oven to 325 F.
2) Measure the unbleached flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Whisk until combined.
3) Combine the peanut butter, carrot, and water in a glass measuring cup. Stir with a fork until smooth and creamy.
4) Make a well in the flour, and pour in the peanut butter mixture. Mix on medium speed using a paddle attachment until combined.
5) Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured surface and gently knead until dough is smooth and still soft. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick and cut biscuits into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
6) Place biscuits on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes [I ended up doing the full 15 minutes] until dry and firm to the touch. Turn the oven off and leave bisuits in another 20-30 minutes. Remove them from the oven, cool them on a baking rack, and store them in a cookie tin.

I must confess that I'm actually now ejoying going out to New Seasons to pick up some of the ingredients that aren't easily found at Albertson's (closest to my house) or Fred Meyer. They have this REALLY cool little machine that grinds out fresh, all natural peanut butter for you right before your eyes! And it smells and tastes sooooooo good! I let the dogs have some licks of it when we brought it home and they were definitely digging it!

Now onto the "baking!" Step 1, piece of cake. Step 2, another piece of cake.

Step #3, easy again. I ended up grating more carrot that I needed so I decided to see what the dogs though of it. Heffner wasn't horribly impressed by it, and turned away after a little try. Bess on the other hand really loved it! Or I should say, as long as it was in my hand she would gobble it down. For whatever reason, when I put it in the food bowl for her, she wasn't interested. But then if I picked it back up and held it out for her to eat, she would gobble it down again!

First part of Step #4 went well.

For the second part, for whatever reason I decided that I could hand stir the ingredients into a dough. Let me tell you, that REALLY just doesn't work! So I plugged in the mixer and followed the directions. Only the ingredients never turned into an actual dough. It all stayed pretty dry and crumbly.

Step #5 I totally changed. The mixture wasn't even close to a dough unless I hand packed it together. Instead of rolling it out on a lightly floured surface, I packed it into little balls in my hands. The mixture was dry enough, the last thing that I needed to do was add more flour! I would have loved to use the cute little dog bone cookie cutter that I have, but I settled for squashed balls.

Step #6 went off without a hitch and the cookies came out looking not much different than they went in.

Regardless, both of the dogs thoroughly enjoyed their cookies! I'm not really sure what to do differently with this recipe aside from maybe adding more water and using the mixer the first time around. Though I'm not really sure that using the mixer after hand stirring it would really make any difference. Oh well!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bess' Playdate

Earlier today (MUCH earlier actually!), Bess had a playdate with her boyfriend Coby! Bess and Coby always have a great time together because they are both very energetic kids who like to run around and wrestle. First they got to run around in a forested bit of land. Then we loaded them up and headed out to hay field to really let them run around and burn off all that crazy energy! Running around in that tall grass is definitely a great work out! After lots of running around we popped down to the creek so the dogs could quench their thirst and cool off just a bit. Here are some pictures from the day!

Bess was pretty beat after all that romping and totally had a blast with Coby!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pine Grove Trip!

Yesterday, the dogs and I headed out to the teeny, tiny town of Pine Grove that's just east of Mt. Hood to meet my dad (Adam stayed home because he's a light sleeper and the dogs usually drive him nuts when we're not at home) for some camping. My parents have 40 acres of bare land out there that my dad is slowly building a cabin on. This property happens to butt right up against national forest land, which means that the porperty seems to basically go on forever. This is something that the dogs LOVE!! We just went down to camp for the night and then came back this afternoon, but it was a whole bunch of time where they didn't have to be on leash at all and could roam and wander wherever they wanted to. They were VERY happy dogs and are now totally zonked out in the office with me as I'm writing this.:O)

The drive out was a total pain in the butt though. It's Memorial Day weekend and that means that it's basically a mass exodus. Unfortunatley I needed to take the main highways that run by the city of Portland, and it was basically a crawl the whole way and ended up tacking about an hour onto our drive time. Yet another reason why I am sooooooo not fond of city's! Once we got through all of that awfulness, it was pretty much smooth sailing! On the way out to Pine Grove we take the highway that goes along Mt. Hood and I snapped this picture along the way because it was just so grogeous (though the picture doesn't do it any justice!).

This weekend turned out to be warmer than it usually is. And while I know that we had a rough winter and people in the area are really looking forward to the summer, this warm weather this soon is just abnormal and I am definitely NOT a fan! This doesn't bode well for the summer. Anything over 85 degrees is too hot and tends to ruin my outdoor plans because I have to make sure that the dogs don't over heat and that they have plenty of water. But I digress!

When we got to Pine Grove it was probably in the upper 70's. After a three hour car drive, the dogs were happy to get out and stretch their legs, but it was warm enough that they weren't going totally crazy. Okay, so Heffner wasn't going crazy, but Bess was having a grand time running all over the place. She definitely thoroughly enjoys being a "wild" dog! She was digging and routing around in the shrubbery and just getting the zoomies in general. Heffner was happy to just follow me around mostly. With his darker coat, he definitely gets warmer faster and he DEFINITELY feels the heat. Bess doesn't seem to get too phased by it.

As the things started cooling off, we went for a little hike around to stretch our legs, let the dogs run around some more, and burn some calories before cooking dinner. Bess was pretty much hither, thither, and yon. Which is pretty much her MO! She never really goes too far (unless there's a deer to chase!), but she definitely loves to explore. Heffner stayed pretty much right with us and even though it was cooler out, I could definitely tell that he was still feeling the warmth a bit.

Once we got back to camp, we settled in and cooked dinner. My dogs are pretty spoiled and Heffner, starting from an early age, never seemed to really like laying down on woodsy type soil. The first time we took him camping with us, he was about 5 months old. He would pace around the campfire, obviously tired and wanting to lay down, but would never actually lay all the way down. I would either let him up on my lap (he BARELY fit at that point), or finally I just pulled out a blanket for him to lay on. He was all too happy to use either of those options! The same is pretty much true now. Heffner obviously wanted to lay down as it was getting darker, but couldn't quite find a good spot to lay on. So I pulled out a blanket and they both immediately layed down on it. It was especially funny because Bess was pretty much in constant motion from the time that we got there. And she FINALLY stopped moving!

Part of the problem is that there are a lot of biting ants around, especially by the fire pit so that makes laying down on the ground not as much fun. For whatever reason the ants were really good about staying off of the blanket.

Once it was too dark to really do anything, we headed off to the tent trailer and my dad headed off to portion of the cabin that was built. This is one of the few times that the dogs get to sleep with me and I LOVE it! At home, our bed works for Adam and I, but there really isn't room for even one of our big babies. They each have their own couch to sleep on, so it's not really a big loss for them! Thankfully, they aren't terrible bed hogs. We got all adjusted and drifted off. I did wake up a few hours later because it had gotten a little colder in the tent trailer and I was a little worried about the dogs getting chilled because I hadn't brought any of their coats with me. Bess was shivering a little bit, but Heffner didn't show any signs of being cold. Nevertheless, I got up and grabbed an extra quilt and put it over them. The dogs had readjusted so that Heffner was a "little" ball down by the foot of my sleeping bag and Bess was sort of positioned for me to spoon her with her head on my pillow. Totally cute! I draped the comforter over them and everyone was happy, especially Bess who had her head right up next to mine (she seriously LOVES to cuddle!).

Through the night we heard either a deer or an elk calling from a little ways off. That of course got the dogs attention and they wanted to go out and investigate, but there was no way I was going to let them off on that wild goose chase! Then, as the sun started rising, we heard the wild turkeys who weren't too far from the tent trailer. Again, the dogs were very excited, but I really wasn't into letting them catch their own breakfast, so they had to wait until I was totally ready to get up to be let out.

Once we were all up and everyone had done their business, her highness decided to sprawl out and soak up some rays.

Again, this was one of the few times that morning that she actually held still. Otherwise she was off investigating and trying to get Heffner to chase her. It was so great to see them out there tearing after each other when one of them would get the zoomies. They were so happy! And I didn't have to worry about them being off leash and running around at all! It was sooooooo nice and relaxing!

After breakfast my dad worked a bit more on the cabin and the dogs and I just relaxed around the camp.

By 11:00am it was hitting the upper 70's and we were getting really warm, so we headed down to the White River to hopefully cool off a bit. We did a little hiking around there, but even though we were by water it wasn't all that much cooler. So piled back into the truck, dropped my dad off at his truck, and headed home. The drive back was MUCH better! It took the usual amount of the time and the dogs were totally beat! Unfortunately I didn't get a whole lot of pictures. I was in some sort of weird battery sucking zone. The batteries on my camera, cell phone, and head lamp all ran out while we were up there. Very strange!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Book of the Month

This month I finished reading "Canine Massage: A Complete Reference Manual" by Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt. While I haven't read any other canine massage books to compare it to, I thought it was a really great book that was very informative. The first section of the book talks about general canine annatomy. There are illustrated diagrams of the skeletal structure as well as the muscular system from different angles. I think this alone is VERY helpful!

Next the author goes into the dogs movements and how different muscles work to help create proper movement. This also helps to give you an idea of problem areas if your dog doesn't have proper movement for their breed. Before getting into the actual massage moves, there is a chapter on concepts of massage. The author uses terms likes 2 lbs. pressure for massage movements and explains what he means by this as well as other concepts that the reader will need to know for the next several chapters.
Once the foundation information is out of the way, we get down to the actual massage moves. Each move is described in detail along with pictures. After the individual moves are described, it's time to put them all together into various routines that focus on different areas of the dog to achieve different results. Some routines are aimed at just relaxing your dog, while others focus on maintaining the overall body.
When you become more aware of what is normal and what isn't for your dog, you may start to notice areas that feel differently than they should. Possible stress areas. There is a whole section, with diagrams, of stress point areas on the general canine body and how to work with them to relieve the buildup.
While this book is a little on the dry side and not necessarily one that you would dive into and expect to be on the edge of your seat, it is VERY informative and very helpful for someone who wants to do what they can for their dog at home. Especially if you have an active dog, it's something that I would recommend looking into to keep them happy and healthy into their golden years.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Magazine of the Month

My pick for Magazine of the Month is Fido Friendly! It's a bimonthly magazine focused on travelling with your dogs! A very cool concept and I've really enjoyed the articles. Each issue is broken into four parts: Features, The Off Directory, Destinations, and Departments. Features focusses on various different aspects of doggy life. Many of which pertain to travelling with your dog. Whether it be travel safety or being aware of different illnesses, like lepto, that are more prominent in different locales. The Off Directory includes a lifestyle section, travel directory (which focusses on one specific smaller travel destination), and marketplace. This is kind of the fun off topic section of the magazine. The Destinations section is just that. It's descriptions of different travel destinations and how they pertain to bringing your dog along or if you travel by yourself, what the local dog scene is like. And finally the Departments section goes over side topics that pertain to travel and dogs. Topics such as buying a car with your dog in mind. This is also the section where you will see seasonal themes like throwing a doggy Halloween party!:O) At any rate, I find this magazine quite enjoyable and have gotten quite a few neat travel ideas from it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Funny site!

The web site that is my pick for the month was chosen because I was pretty surprised (and really shoulnd't have been!) when I heard about it. It's Wiggles Dog Wigs Yes, you read correctly. It's a site selling wigs for dogs!!LOL While I have tried out MANY things on my dogs, this is definitely one of those little expenses that I just haven't found a way to rationalize yet.;O) Either way, I found it very entertaining and just had to pass it along! And if anyone does happen to purchase one of their wigs, PLEASE send me a picture!! I think I'll just wait for Halloween to come around and buy a wing then!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Theme Song??

Does your dog(s) have a theme song? My two ABSOLUTELY do! For whatever reason, with each of them, there are specific songs that pop into my head all the time. And the songs really sort of give you an idea about their individual personalities.:O)

Heffner's theme song is from the 80's kids toy My Buddy. You can view one of the commercials here: (isn't You Tube great?lol) Ever since we brought him home as a puppy he's been my little buddy following me every where I go and ready for any outing. When we're just wandering around the house, that theme song usually pops into my head.

Bess' theme song is a LOT different than Heffner's! Her theme song mostly pops into my head when she's in one of her especially crazy moods when she's got this totally crazed look in her eyes! The song that ALWAYS pops into my head is "Psycho" by System of a Down. It may seem a little weird, but it's totally her! Specifically the phrase "psycho, group, cocaine, crazy." It totally cracks me up, but it's her crazy self!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Check this out!

Before I get into talking about the You Tube video that's my pick for the month, I have to add in a couple of items that I wanted to post yesterday, but uploading videos took FOREVER! Even though it said that I posted yesterday at 9:something, I didn't end actually posting until after 11. I have a cute picture and video of Bess and Hunter having fun in the trailer on Sat.

I also have to say, holy crap is Heffner wound up today!! I knew that he would have a wee bit of energy saved up since his entertainment left on Fri. afternoon. That's more than 48 full hours without Bess exercising him! He had some serious zoomies today when I got home from work. He was tearing all around the back yard like he was on crack! It was pretty funny!

Okay, now on to what I actually intended to talk about.:O) Even before I started taking agility lessons first with Heffner, I have thought that it's just the neatest sport. Since getting into agility with both dogs, I really admire those who compete at the upper levels with great danes. It's not an easy feet. These guys aren't border collies and the courses aren't built with them in mind! It takes a lot of training and dedication as well as knowing your dog and paying very good attention to them to get them to this level. And it's just so awesome to see these great dogs and their handlers running these courses!! Here's a clip that's a sort of montage of a few danes running AKC agility:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mt. Baker dog show

I'm just going to go ahead and give you the blow-by-blow of the weekend, but I will warn you that I'm a little tired and my brain is a little befuddled.:O) It was a lot of fun though and I learned more about handling, but unfortunately we didn't get any points. Which is a bummer because it was a three point major for bitches. Next time though! Alrighty, here goes!

Bess and I headed out Fri. at about 12:45 to go pick up Karen and her rhodesian ridgeback, Hunter. Bess' breeder, Georgia, handled Hunter this weekend at the show. We've met them before at another show and it's always great to carpool when you can to help cut the cost of travel. And they're fun, so it worked out well! The trip started off REAL fun when I got stuck on the bridge getting into Washington because the draw bridge was up to let a boat through. Traffic is bad normally getting over into Washington on I-5, but this made it just AWFUL! Thankfully the temperatures hadn't gotten warm, because we were at a stand still for a little while. I have yet to get stuck on the bridge when it's been up, so this was a first. I chatted a little bit with some other drivers, 'cause really, what else are you going to do?

Once we got moving again, we picked up Karen and Hunter and headed up to Lynden, which is normally about a 5 hour drive. However, we hit some nasty traffic along the way that turned it into a little over a six hour drive. Good times! Again, thankfully the weather wasn't that warm and all was well. We got to the fairgrounds and got settled into Georgia and Jack's trailer. We had an alarm set on Karen's phone, but I'm always paranoid about oversleeping and kept checking my cell phone during the night. I really don't know why I was worried. We had two dogs in the trailer with us, it gets light fairly early, and we were staying at the fairgrounds with a bunch of dog people. Many of whom had dogs to groom early and 8am ring times.

Sat. the danes didn't go into the ring until 1pm. Pretty unusual considering we're usually the ones who go in at 8am. And it totally figures that the show where I'm actually staying at the show site and don't have to do any driving is the one where I have late ring times both days! Sat. went well enough. I was happy with how we did in the ring, but we took second in the American Bred Bitches class and that was that. However, Hunter went Winners Dog for his very first AKC point!!

Since we had such a late ring time, this was the first time that I've actually stuck around to watch group! It was pretty neat! And I do have to definitely say that the working group is by far my favorite group! I know that I'm a little biased, but seriously, we have the most awesome breeds in our group! I managed to take a little video of the end of the working group.

Once we had rejuvenated a little bit, we went over to Georgia and Jack's to see the litter of puppies that she has right now. They were still pretty young so we didn't touch them, but we did get to soak up the adorable cuteness!! It totally gets my puppy fever going! From there it was off to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in the lovely town of Lynden.

Once we got back to the fairgrounds we took the dogs out for a little potty walk just down the street.

Lynden apparently has a large dutch population and there were these cute windmills every where!

After checking a few things out we headed back to the fairgrounds where we heard a band of some sort starting to warm up in one of the fairground facilities that wasn't being used for the dog show. As the night wore on, it was apparent that this "little" party was going to be going on for a while as people were coming in and leaving pretty continuously. At about 10:30pm someone called the local police to monitor the noise level, which was VERY loud. Nothing much really happened after that. I concked out a while the party was still going and woke up at about 5:30am when the rest of the RV area was seeming to wake up. Which meant that OUR dogs thought it was wake up time as well!

Danes were in the ring at 11:00am on Sun. We did win our class today, but didn't do anything after that. I did get many compliments on Bess and I'm confident that I'm not totally ruining our chances by handling her myself!:O) I learn something at each show regardless of whether we win or not, so there's always something good that comes out of it.

Then it was back to the trailer to load everything up and start the trek back home! Thankfully the traffic was MUCH better and we made really good time. Heffner was happy to see both of us back and now I just need to finish unpacking and get ready for work in the morning. Ug! It's really hard for me to come back to the "real world" after spending a weekend away at a dog show. You get so wrapped up in and you're talking about dogs the whole weekend and trying to learn things and figure out why things turned out the way they did. And then I have to have such a change in mind set to go to work! Sigh.......if only........:O)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Collar Time!

I am totally addicted to dog collars! I LOVE them! If I had small dogs, it would probably be doggy clothing. But I don't, and I don't want to pay astronomical prices for custom made clothes for my dogs (not to mention I don't think they'd really care for them that much any how!), so I buy them collars. I figured that I would spend a little time each month talking about one of the collars that I've bought, how it holds up, and just what I think of it in general. Generally when I buy one style of collar I like the dogs to match. So they get a similar design, but in different colors. That sort of thing. I just think it's cute that they sort of match!

Today I wanted to show off the collars that my friend Kennedy made for my guys! She's just starting up her own custom collar business and you can check out her web site at Heffner and Bess are even models on her site!:O) We actually just got these collars on Wed. so the dogs haven't been wearing them too terribly long. However, I think that they should hold up pretty well. The stitching is very sturdy and is a color that totally blends in with fabrics. I really like this because as weird as it may sound, I don't like the thread showing through unless it's part of the design. It can take away from the collar otherwise. Kennedy did a great job with these collars too! While she hasn't been at it for a huge amount of time, the craftsmanship is that of someone who has been doing this for a long time.

The dogs were wearing their collars yesterday while we were hiking. While Heffner doesn't tend to get too crazy on hikes, Bess goes EVERYWHERE! Through bushes, into tight places you wouldn't think she could go, and just generally runs around like a crazy girl. And her collar doesn't have a snag or a scratch!

On a side note, I wanted to let everyone know that I probably won't be updating the blog until Sun. evening. Bess and I head out this afternoon to go to a dog show up in Lynden, WA! Wish us luck and think thoughts of Winners Bitch!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mount Defiance Attempt #2

I was bound and determined to find that "easier" route on the Mount Defiance hike. And today we did! It's a slightly gentler climb, but I think the descent totally sucks! I'll be feeling it this weekend for sure. Which is absolutely fabulous since we've got a dog show!

We started out from the parking lot along the main trail route that parallels I-84 that I HIGHLY recommend you keep your dogs leashed along since there isn't really much between them and the highway. About a quarter mile along this paved trail there's an old wooden trail sign that directs you up for the Starvation Ridge trail, which is supposed to be the easier way up. Well, this short portion of the trail that meets up with the actual Starvation Ridge trail is a pretty brutal climb. Here is generally what you're going to come upon if not steeper:

This goes on for about a half mile. The longest half mile that you will probably hike! Then you meet up with the actual Starvation Ridge trail. And aren't these the BEST most encouraging names? The Starvation Ridge trail on Mount Defiance. Just sounds like a little slice of heaven!LOL

This part of the trail starts a gentler climb. There are a few switch backs, but they're not so bad. Along the route you get some AWESOME views of the Gorge!!

For this brief section of the trail I would recommend either keeping your dogs really close to you or leashing them. There are a few areas where it's a shear drop off and a long way down. I kept the dogs right with me for most of it that I wasn't taking pictures. It just made me too nervouse with all the little critters in the area that they would have loved to chase.

After getting lulled into a false sense of an easy climb, the trail got a bit steeper and the temperatures were definitely dropping.

At about this point I was actually putting my mittens on. All told we did over 2,500 ft. of elevation gain. There's quite a temperature difference when you climb that much in the very windy gorge!

I do have to say though that this trail route had some of the BEST views!! While it wasn't always easy to appreciate it when you're sweating buckets, we did stop to snap a few pictures like this:

All told, we had a really great time and all three of us are really beat! The dogs were definitely able to expend more energy on this route as well. If you aren't already a friend of mine on Facebook, I have all of the pictures from the hike uploaded to a folder on Photobucket. Here's the address: If you're really snappy at viewing this post, Photobucket is still uploading the pictures and it may still take a little while. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bess does agility too!

I also am training Bess for agility! She took to it like she takes to most things, with spunk and enthusiasm! I do have to say that I think Bess will end up having faster times than Heffner. She's already sharper on some moves and just likes to get down and dirty. She also has the advantage of being smaller than he is, so it takes her less time getting into, going through, and getting out of the tunnels. This will definitely be a HUGE bonus!

Bess has had a few different agility instructors along the way. All pretty good for what we needed. Not everyone was a perfect fit, but we were able to pull something from everyone. So far, Heffner's instructor Kathy has been the best fit. Now it's just a matter of me figuring out how to run two dogs who are quite different!

Tonight was agility practice with Bess. We just practice general sequencing and trying to get her to move away from me a little bit. Right now she sticks pretty close to me. I'm not too horribly concerned, but I do need to get her comfortable working a little ways off of me. On the flip side, I do have an easier time sending her away to obstacles that she finds fun like the tunnel, dog walk, or teeter.

She's also picked up on the weave poles waaaaaay quicker than I expected. It took me a little bit to figure out how to make it clear to her what I wanted. Once I found what worked, she got it super quick and is actually now weaving (surprisingly fast) through 12 upright weave poles! I taught her differently than I taught Heffner. Unfortunately I now also have a different command for the weave poles with her than I do Heffner. That'll get interesting when it's time to trial both of them at the end of the month!

For Bess, I started by luring her around each weave and treating her when she came back to me. The command I used was just "weave." It's a little hard for me to explain it in writing and easier to show it, but I'll try. I did this method for every single pole. After a couple times of that she was totally catching on and whipping around the poles. Then we took a break and did some other obstacles. Next we came back to the weaves and she got treated after every two poles, with the command "weave" used for each pole. We kept taking little breaks so that she wouldn't get burnt out and she was still getting lots of praise for doing so well. Then we'd come back and just keep increasing the number of poles she had to do before getting a treat. And now, she can do all 12 with a treat at the very end!

Her very first trial will be at the end of the month down in Corvallis, OR. I have both her and Heffner entered all three days. The venue happens to be NADAC, which isn't my favorite, but I'm willing to give it another shot now that I'm better informed and have entered my dogs accordingly. NADAC has a LOT of tunnels in their games courses. Heffner especially just really can't do that many tunnels, especially when we're doing 5 runs in a day. Bess could probably handle it, but I think even that will be pushing it with her. However, this time around I'm not entered in all of the games courses and they also have an "interesting" class called Hoopers that they're offering Fri. evening. It's a course entirely of these talls hoops that the dogs have to go under. I think it's sort of a lame "obstacle," but oh well! At least it's not a tunnel! I'm hoping that there will be a photographer there as well so I can get some shots of Bess out on the course!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heffner's agility class

Every Tue. night is Heffner's agility class. We've been with the same instructor for about a year and a half now and I absolutely LOVE her. It's a little bit of a drive to get to her, but definitely worth it! Heffner has some reactivity issues that we've been working through. We've taken private lessons with her focussing on this as well as a few general obedience classes (focussing on the reacitivity issue), and of course agility classes all through her. This along with other classes has gotten us to a point where I'm confident competing with Heffner in agility trials. He's not a dog that I will let off leash in a dog park, but then again, I don't usually go to dog parks anyhow! At any rate, it has been great working with an instructor who knows his background and will simultaneously work with us on those issues at the same time also getting us to move forward in agility.

Tonight's class was about working on general sequencing and starting to push the distance work. Distance work is essentially giving the dog an instruction to do 1 or more obstacles moving away from you or remaining a certain distance from you. On simple distance challenges we do great. More complicated ones, especially ones that include a tunnel, are more difficult. [I would also like to just briefly mention here that we do a limited number of tunnels each week with Heffner to how physically difficult it is for the big dogs. He only practices tunnels in class and only a few of them.] We worked on that for a bit.

One thing for us that is a an ongoing thing, is getting me to trust my dog more. Because of his behavior in the past, I am very reluctant to let him to get close to another dog that I'm not 100% sure he's okay with. However, he needs to be able to run a course with all sorts of distractions going on around him, including many other strange dogs. He has done wonderful with this at trials, but I'm still leary in class. The past two weeks we've purposefully had the other two students remain by a jump that I had to send Heffner to. Normally we would have them move so that the temptation to act wasn't even available to him. Basically not setting him up for failure. And it also helps to relieve my nerves! However, he has been REALLY great in class for the past few months and basically doesn't even take note of the other dogs in class while he's working. So now we're pushing the envelope (with the instructor standing by to intervene if necessary) a bit. Last week and this week he has had people and their dogs sitting in chairs within two feet of the final jump in a sequence. This would be prime time to act out. I will wholeheartedly admit that I was pretty nervous, but we have to work through this! And you know what? He did FABULOUS! He didn't even acknowledge the people and dogs!!! He went sailing right on by them without even a glance! He was totally focussed on me and what he was doing!:O) Everyone was very proud of my little man!

Now, I just need that total focus in the ring! He tends to get distracted by the sites and smells when we go out. I think I've figured out a few things that will help me get better focus with him but I'll have to try them out at the next trial.