Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Lodi We Go!!!

I didn't have any time to blog last night because I was busy exercising, bathing, and doing the toe nails on both dogs and just generally running around trying to get things in order to leave this morning. We're going to be heading out in just a little bit for our trek down to Lodi!!! The truck is PACKED full of everything we could possibly need, and then some. The dogs are chasing after me every where I go because they know that something is up and that they get to go (as deduced by all of their stuff that I've been packing into the truck while they watch from the window). I got my confirmation in the mail yesterday for all the classes that we entered! I feel pretty good about rally, I'm nervous about obedience, and such a big show that I have no expectations for conformation. I made sure to bring my laptop with me and I'll blog when I get the chance and I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of all the wonderful great danes!:o)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week this week is Great Dane Service Dog! This blog chronicles the lives of two great danes. Right now they're going through some health difficulties that will hopefully get sorted out. Otherwise it's an enjoyable blog with lots of cute pictures of the boys! So go on over and check it out!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Product of the Month

My pick for Product of the Month for April are the wonderful dog beds that Costco sells. I don't have a link for them. All I know is that I've heard rave reviews about them from many other people and I have to whole heartedly agree! These beds are great! First of all, they're big enough for the dogs to curl up on.
The outer cover is easily removed and washed. And the beds seem to be quite comfy for the pooches. The beds also seem to be quite popular and it took us a few tried at Costco before we finally scored our two. Probably the best part of all about them is that they're super cheap! Each bed was $18.89. I don't really know of anywhere else that I could get a dog bed this size, of good quality, for that cheap.

We started off having just one of the beds in the office and the other in the spare bedroom. Heffner immediately took over the bed in the office leaving Bess the choice of the blanket on the floor or going into the other room to lay on the bed in there. Unfortunately, when she got into the other room, she found that the bed had been taken over by someone else.
We decided it was really a better idea to have both of the beds in the office, since we spend a good chunk of time in there and both of the dogs prefer to hang out in whatever room we're in. So I moved the second bed in and now both dogs are quite happy!
I also can't believe that I completely forgot to mention that yesterday was Bess' 3rd birthday!! My baby girl is growing up! We didn't do anything super fantastic because the rest of the weekend leading up to that point had been pretty hectic. Mostly just lots of cuddles and snuggles, which she LOVES!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Busy Weekend!

I meant to type a post on Thursday evening saying that I'm pretty much going to be running until we leave for Lodi, CA on this upcoming Thursday! It has been quite the crazy weekend, but in a good way! Thursday night was spent cleaning up the house in preparation for the weekend. I was able to fit in some training with the dogs, but that was about it. Friday I worked a half day in order to get home and finish cleaning up the house and getting ready for the evening's festivities. I have been planning and was hosting a bachelorette party for a friend of mine. We were starting off the evening at our house with some yummy girly drinks and then off to see Kooza, the Cirque show. Followed by some other fun activities. That pretty much filled up my Friday. Then Saturday we had more girly fun activities. I was able to do some training and exercise with the dogs, but not a whole lot. Today I had originally planned on going to an obedience match in the morning with both dogs, but I was so wiped out from this past week and all the other things going on, that I decided my sleep was more critical. Maybe not the best decision since we've got our first time in the obedience ring in a week, but I did make up for it. I took the dogs out to the public library for some obedience work in a very distracting and outdoors setting. Since the trial will be outside, I figured it would probably be a good idea to work with them in that type of setting and see how it went. And I'm quite pleased with how it went!

Heffner definitely needs some time to just check out whatever new site we're at. He needs the time to look, sniff, and generally take it all in. Once he's had a few minutes to do that, then it's a lot easier to get him into work mode. I do know that I will have to give myself not only some time to let him sniff around, but some warm up time with a lot of attention heeling. After a good ten minutes of working through it, it was a lot easier to keep his attention. I also increased my rate of reinforcement with him and I got some lovely animated heeling. I was really pleased with how well he did once we worked through the initial distractions.

Next up was Bess (I was driving back and forth from the house because it was too warm out to leave the dogs in the truck). I expected her do well and I wasn't disappointed! I gave her a few minutes to check things out, but she started focusing and working so well right off the bat! The one thing that we needed to work on was our figure 8's. I need to work on getting her to automatically pick up her pace when she's moving on the outside. We worked around a couple of relatively closely spaced trees. I was pretty happy with how she was doing. Things are going along quite well and I'm pretty pleased! I'll probably try to work in one more session at the library, just to help make me feel a little more solid before the trial.

Things are moving along with our finishes. Bess has really caught on to both sides and I can pretty reliably give her the signals without any verbal. I'm still using both on Heffner for the right finishes.

All-in-all, I'm getting pretty excited about Lodi and looking forward to heading out! I'll have more posts of substance after this one, I promise!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beach Day!

When my work schedule changed late last year, I was really bummed because it was going to make it really difficult for me to fit in the day trips and hikes that I had been able to do on the week day that I had off. I decided that I would make time once a month to take the dogs out on one of these day/hiking trips. Of course, things kept getting in the way. We were slammed at work and it was hard to find that day to take off without making it difficult for someone else or else I had do activities going on that required me taking some time off during the week. This week the stars aligned and I finally got around to taking that week day off to head out with the dogs. I was almost giddy this past weekend trying to figure out where we would go. There were so many options! I finally decided that a beach trip was much in order. It's been ages since we've been out to the coast and definitely about time! The goal for today was to head out to Seaside and just follow 101 south to Tillamook, stopping at parks along the way to explore and stretch our legs.

Our first stop was Gearhart beach, which is just two miles north of Seaside. There's lovely beach access there where you can just drive your vehicle out onto the beach. The dogs got REALLY excited as I pulled out onto the sand. I drove a little ways and then parked the truck. There wasn't another soul in sight! So I just let the tail gate down and the dogs were off!

One of Heffner's favorite things to do are run by "muggings." It's freaking adorable! He comes running straight at me and then veers before hitting me and sort of turns his head towards me like he's going to lick me on his way by. It cracks me up every time! He especially loves to do it if I crouch down. (sorry for the blurriness of some of the pictures. I'm still trying to find the right setting for action shots!)

Bess however, usually just comes trotting up to me. You have to watch out for that one though. While she's gotten a lot better, her favorite thing used to be to come running up to me, and then into me. She dumped me on my butt quite a few times those first few months. But don't worry, she usually only did then when other people were watching the scene!;o)
One of the best parts about going to the beach in the middle of the week is that really no one is around.
There were a few flocks of different birds that we saw while we were there. Those poor birds were having a heck of a time fighting against the wind. While the gulls seemed be having a splendid time just floating around, the other birds were actually trying to get somewhere and really having to work for it. Naturally, the dogs tried chasing these birds that were suddenly slower than usual.

The wind was definitely a force to be reckoned with this morning! We only lasted about a half hour out at Gearhart. The beach is so straight and there's just nothing to break up the wind along there, that the dogs and I were all getting cold and tired of the wind. I could tell that the dogs were ready to go when they raced ahead of me to the back of the truck and stood waiting for me at the tail gate. Their ears are a good measure of how the wind is consequently!

On the way back I found some lovely whole sand dollars! One good sized one and one little wee hopper!

As we were heading out of Seaside, I decided to stop into the downtown area just on the off chance that my favoritest elephant ear place was open.
Sadly, it was closed.:o( I mean really, who DOESN'T want an elephant ear first thing in the morning??? I know I do!!

One of the things that I almost never do whenever we're going to the beach is stop at the viewpoints. Usually when I'm driving out there I've got a time that I'm trying to hit a trailhead or we're meeting people. That and it feels like I've been there often enough that stopping at the veiwpoints is almost a touristy thing to do and I'm not really that. Well I decided to stop at the viewpoints along Hwy. 101 and take in the sights! Sometimes I took the dogs out of the truck and sometimes I didn't. Here's the view from the first stop we made.
Our next beach stop was Arcadia Beach! Once again, there were only a few people actually there and none with dogs. The direction that we went meandering off into actually had no people while we were there. The wind was still blowing, but thankfully not nearly as strong. The skies kept threatening rain, but luckily that held out until shortly before we got back into the truck!

After that lovely jaunt, it was back into the truck. We found another lovely view point that I got the dogs out for. During our stop there was a woman who asked if she could come up and pet the dogs. I naturally said sure. We chatted a bit and then she went to get back in her car. She thanked me and said that she actually just stopped because she wanted to say hi to the dogs.:o) I thought that was pretty neat!

And of course, no trip along the northern part of the Oregon coast is complete without a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory!!!

I picked up some cheese curds and salt water taffy. While I was contemplating standing in line for real food behind this ginormous family who didn't know what they wanted, but stood in line none-the-less, I decided that some Tillamook ice cream would make an excellent lunch instead! I got myself a delicous double scoop on a cone of the mountain blackberry and the huckleberry flavors. Soooooooooo good! The dogs each got a kids scoop of vanilla in a dish. Needless to say, they were QUITE pleased with their lunch! Once we finished up there it was time to take Hwy. 6 for home. I did break up that drive with a stop at one of the little campgrounds along that route. The dogs were happy to stretch their legs again, I was happy to burn off the last of their energy, and we had a nice relaxing time by the river.

And now the dogs are crashed out. I'm going to try and work some more on our finishes tonight and then I'm hitting the hay!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Wild Dingo!! I've been following their blog for a little while and I really enjoy the way Loki and Juno's mom tells their various stories. There are plenty of lovely pictures, funny antics on the part of the dogs and the people, and some fun videos. So head on over and check them out!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

YouTube of the Month

My pick for YouTube of the Month for the month of April is a clip of an Arizona obedience drill team that is made up solely of great danes!:o) Enjoy!

How cool is that?? That REALLY makes me want to get a drill team together. Any takers??? Seriously, if there are people who want to do it, I'm willing to figure out how to try and make it happen!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The day has finally come for me to talk about our cats. They certainly add an interesting dynamic to our household in more ways than one. We currently have to two cats. Nemesis and Trouble. We used to have three. Very sadly we had to put Cali down a couple of years ago due to a very bad case of feline pancreatitis. She's the cat on the right in the above picture. Nemesis is on the left. They were litter mates.

When Adam and I were just out of college, we both had the hankering to get a warm blooded pet. I say warm blooded because I had several reptiles at that point and I should probably get around to telling that story eventually too! Anyhow, we were fresh out of college and living in an apartment. It really wasn't the ideal time to get a dog even though that was the pet that I REALLY wanted. We agreed that a cat was a better pet for us to get. It just so happened that the manager of the Petco that I was working at at that time had an oopsy litter of kittens. She had two purebred Bengals. For whatever reason she didn't spay either one of them. One night while one of them was in season they got out of the house. After wandering around amorously for a mate, she returned home nicely knocked up. We thought the Bengal breed of cat was interesting and kind of neat, so why not get a free kitten that was half Bengal?

When we went to pick up our kitten there were actually two females left in the litter. They were just so cute and they were all playing together so adorably that we decided getting two of them so it would keep them both entertained as well as us. Things went well and we thoroughly enjoyed our crazy kittens.

About the time that we moved into our first house, I had started feeling really bad for my sister's cat, Trouble, who was living at my parents' house. He was an outside only cat because my parents' didn't want him inside. When I get around to explaining Trouble's "quirks" you'll fully understand why. Anyhow, I felt really bad that he was never allowed inside the house when we had two cats who were living it up inside. He is also a really affectionate cat and obviously wanted to be inside where the people were. So we took him on and moved up to three cats.

It wasn't until we moved into our current house four years ago and added Heffner that the dynamics of the cats really came through. Nemesis started thoroughly living up to her name. Her "full" name is Nemesis Enforcer, after the G.I. Joe character. Yes, it was highly amusing to us at the time to name her that. Little did we know that it would end up totally suiting her! She established herself as the alpha bitch (and I do mean bitch!) in our household. She no longer really liked the presence of her sister, who really didn't care either way. And she certainly exerted her dominance over Trouble, even though he's twice her age. Trouble is such a push over that he would always back down whenever Nemesis decided to be nasty about something. And then we added a dog!

Cali wasn't thrilled, but she was fine as long as she had her little dog free zone that she could escape to if she wanted. Trouble had grown up around a dog, so didn't really see what the big deal was. And Nemesis DESPISED the fact that we brought a dog into HER house. Oh lordy! That cat was PISSED! And that pretty much hasn't changed an iota over the four years.

When we had to put Cali down and had only two cats in the house, things were a bit easier, but the different personalities of the cats was in stark contrast. There's Trouble, who pretty much loves everything. And there's Nemesis, who is full of little OCD things and despises the dogs. Lets further explore these two cats shall we?:o)

The above picture is of Trouble with Heffner when Heff was just a few months old. As you can see, Trouble isn't exactly small. And unfortunately, he's got long hair. Hair that is the bane of my existence. Trouble doesn't just shed random hairs here and there, he sheds clumps of hair at a time. Often leaving a little ring of hair around the area that he has pluncked down on to groom himself and then fall asleep. Hair that magically appears in clumps on the carpet, right after I've vacuumed. Hair that causes him to have hair balls. Hair balls that he is fond of yacking up on the carpet that is directly bordering any non-carpeted flooring in the house. For whatever reason, he can't seem to yack one of those puppies up on a surface that is easily cleaned. No, he has to expel them on the carpet where it will most likely cause a stain no matter what we put on it to clean it up.

He also used to have an anal leakage problem that has thankfully cleared up. Along with the ring of hair around the spot where he would lay used to be little dark spots that would stain the carpet. That was really annoying.

One of his other lovely little quirks is that he needs to have access to food 24/7. We're pretty sure that he's starting to go a little daft in the head and gets easily confused and that's what leads in part to the food obsession. If there isn't food in the cats food bowl at any random time that he goes to look, he starts yowling very loudly and annoyingly throughout the house. In a manner that would cause you to think that he is in great mortal pain if you didn't already know that this was a common occurrence. Never mind the fact that the food bowl may be empty because he just ate it all, it's empty. And this needs to be extolled throughout the house so that someone will do something about it! It also doesn't matter what time of day or night it is that he does this. He seems to be rather fond of the yowling at 2am or 3am. We, however, are NOT fond of this. So our two cats are free fed kibble because we can't otherwise figure out how to get him to shut the hell up unless we make him stay outside.

On the upside, he's great with the dogs. He acts like they're his buddies. He'll rub up on Heffner and Bess' faces if they're laying on the ground. He'll curl up next to them and take a nap with them on the floor or couches. It really is adorable! And the dogs also seem to generally enjoy him.

As I said before, Nemesis despises the dogs. Hates is just not a strong enough word. I truly believe that if the dogs were her size of smaller she would be attacking them left and right. I know that seems a little crazy, but so is she! She mostly tolerates Bess and Bess mostly avoids her. Heffner however, is another story. Nemesis has never forgiven him for being the one who opened up the flood gates and started this whole dog thing in the first place. He has gradually grown into the opinion that he shouldn't have to put up with her crap. And I have to say, I kind of agree with him. I do have good reason!

At just the mere sight of Heffner she will go into a growling and spitting frenzy. Doing all sorts of posturing and hair raising and generally making a big scene. Of course, she won't do this out in the open. No, she does this from within the safety of the Cat Zone. It's an area of our downstairs that contains a bathroom and our washing machine area that the dogs are not allowed into. The cats have their litter box and their food there, so it makes sense. Plus they need a little area that they can go to just be away from the dogs if need be. There also conveniently is a line of demarcation where the kitchen ends and the Cat Zone begins. Both of the dogs have learned that they are not allowed in that area. When we're not around to supervise, we keep a baby gate up to prevent and misdeeds. This has also helped to sort of train the dogs that they are not to go in there. Nemesis knows this. She will stand roughly a foot over this line and do her little routine to get a reaction out of Heffner. After enough times of her doing this, she did start to get a negative reaction out of him. We've been working on it so that it's getting better, but she got him to the point where he would react every single time she went off on one of her little tirades. It used to be that Heffner would get yelled at for this and we wouldn't do anything to Nemesis. I'm pretty sure that she picked right up on that as an additional bonus to pissing him off. Finally I talked to Adam and told him that Heffner couldn't be faulted when he was being taunted like that and Nemesis also had to learn that she couldn't behave like that. We have both agreed on this. There's not a whole lot that we can do to get Nemesis to stop her growling and hissing once she starts. Except the squirt bottle. Then she shuts up and scampers off. Slowly they are both getting to the point where it's not like it was, but it was really annoying.

You might be thinking that I'm a little off my rocker to think that she was purposefully antagonizing him. I would probably agree with you if I hadn't actually watched her one night egging him on. Heffner was asleep on the couch with his head hanging over the arm. Eyes totally closed and oblivious to the world. Nemesis came creeping into the media room and slowly got closer to him. She sat down and watched him. Nothing happened. So then she started growling and hissing. When he opened an eye ball to see what was going on, then she really kicked it up a notch. Once he stood up, she took off to the stair well and scampered JUST out of his reach and did her whole routine from there with him barking at her. Oy! So yeah, I no longer have sympathy for the "poor cat."

She's also very much a creature of habit. She hates it when we don't go to bed by a certain time and will start pacing around the bathroom if we're washing up for the night. If, heaven forbid, the bedroom door is either all the way closed or closed enough that she actually has to push it open, she gets pissy. If it's shut all the way, she pulls at the carpet until someone lets her in. Therefore, we have a section of almost bare floor by our bedroom door. ARG! Then once she's in the room, she does all sorts of things that she knows she'll get yelled at for. She bangs the closet door. She jumps from the furniture onto either mine or Adam's head (she doesn't do this if the door is cracked or if she's already on the bed when we hop in). She just generally makes a nuisance of herself. And she'll do all of that too if you shut the door completely and she's on the inside of the bedroom. She wants to have full reign of the house when and as she pleases. Yes, she is a total diva!

She's also got some funny little quirks that are just that. For instance, she loves it when my hair is wet. I swear it's like cat nip to her. If I'm sitting somewhere that she can get at my scalp she'll wrap her paws around my head and just go to town! She'll rub her face all over the hair, she'll chew on it, she'll bat at it, she just goes crazy!

She's also fond of chewing on toilet paper. I have no idea why or what sparks it. It seems like she just randomly decides that she wants some toilet paper. We'll wake up the next morning to a roll that has the edges chewed off. It's just plain weird.

While Trouble can create a fair amount of work cleaning up after him, he's great with the dogs and I would really prefer that both of the dogs know that not all cats are evil. However, he's 16 now and obviously won't be around forever. So at some point we will be down to just Nemesis and I'm sure the dogs will forget about Trouble and think that all cats are evil dog haters. Sigh.....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lovely Saturday!

Today was an incredibly enjoyable and productive day! I got up early and took the dogs out for a hike this morning. We started off on a trail that we know and I decided to try out one of the off-shoot logging roads to see where it went to. It was the BEST idea! It was such an enjoyable route! There was some tall grass for the dogs to romp in.

There was a creek that followed the road for a little while, so the dogs were able to drink at their leisure. Which also means that I don't have to pack water for them.;o)
And we took occasional breaks along the way (most of the trail out was up hill). What did the dogs do during that time? Snacked on the yummy spring grass.
At one point, Bess darted off the path and dove down hill. It's not entirely unusual for her to do this. She catches a scent and then she just darts off after it. I had no idea what she was on to, but I quickly figured it out as she came bounding back up the hill with this in her mouth:
And I couldn't help but snap this picture of her with her lovely slobber uni brow!
And these are just a few candids from along the route.

And look what came in the mail!
It's not the greatest picture, but it'll do for now.;) I'm dressed half for conformation and half comfortably because that was the day that we had rally in the morning and conformation at the very end of the day.

It wasn't until we got going on our hike this morning that I realised just how much I NEED these hikes. I need to get away from everything and just focus on physical activity, enjoy my dogs, and not have anything man made around me. It's been about three weeks since I was able to get out on a hike with the dogs because we've had dog shows the past two weekends and with my work schedule being Monday through Friday, it doesn't leave me with a weed day to go out. So this was very much overdue and felt great!

Then I came home and got crackin' on some house work. I mowed the lawn, vacuumed the house, did some laundry, broke down my large fish tank, and got my hair did. The hair I won't go into too much detail right now. I'm still a bit shell shocked. I'm a blond naturally. Not super blond, but almost a dirty blond? Anywho, I've occasionally highlighted my hair before, but it's never anything that I've kept up on. And knowing that, I've never done anything drastic. I didn't want to have to worry about my roots showing or needing a touch up. Well, today I decided to do a bit more than I have previously. Adam has been out of town for work all week and I decided that I'd get my hair done today to surprise him at the airport tomorrow (I'm only writing this because it's unlikely that he's going to read this post before I see him) with the new hair.'s blonder than I've gone before. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've been this blond since I was like four years old. People.....I'm bimbo blond. It kind of freaks me out whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I think the lightening dye stuff got left on a little too long. Or maybe this was what my hairdresser thought I meant when I said I wanted to go blonder than I was before. Either way, I'm stuck with it. And I'm going to have to get used to it. Just to warn you, there could be future whining in the posts about this. I'm just sayin'.