Things I Love Thursday; Chapter Deux

Black animals. I have always had an affinity for all-black creatures. My first horse of my very own was a huge black gelding (who dumped me over fences more times than I’d like to recall). My first dog was a ubiquitous black lab border collie mix, sweet sweet sweet. Super-bright. If I had known at the time, she would have made a great agility prospect. Had two black cats, one a dingbat and the other whom I still miss horribly. She was my heart-kitty. Showed up at our back door one day as a kitten and wouldnt leave. She was an absolute love and moved all over the country with me. On personal moral grounds, I refuse to keep cats indoors… and we’ll leave it at that. I am not allowed to have cats anymore. 😦

I have noticed an explosion of baby crows around this week. They are all ratty and gawky, exploring the world. I was fantasizing about coercing one into my yard and feeding it. I’d bet you good money you could clicker train a crow. I have always had a thing for crows. They are genius and know how to use tools. More than Forest or Diego can boast!

And, for the last month or more I’ve been heading south on Wednesday mornings to go hack my aunt’s big black warmblood Romeo. He is a big loveable lug; completely stereotypical warmblood. Massive and athletic, super-sweet and lazy as hell. She was gifted him by one of her oldest friends who couldnt keep him anymore. He was originally imported from Europe, no doubt for a pretty penny. He is dead broke, a nice mover and lovely to ride. Automatic lead changes, gets on the bit, et all. He does make you work for it though. My aunt was told by the friend that he had a multitude of soundness issues, but once she got a pad on one of his front feet, he’s had zero issues. We havent done much more than hack him or trail ride him, and I have felt him be a little stiff, but we’ve been having fun with him. My aunt however has a touch of the ADD–he is a big dopey warmblood after all–and she wants a hot little QH to blast around on. She keeps trying to get me to take him, but I know better than that. I’d have to quit all things dog, and even then I couldnt technically afford him. So, he’s on the market to the “right home,” which means I better enjoy him while I can.

(Forest is terrified of horses. He did not bite Romes after this was taken, fortunately.)

I also heart iPhone apps. Those specifically related to dog stuff. I know I’ve mentioned here before how much I love the Agility iLog app for my iPhone. They also keep updating it–actually listening to feedback, shocking!–and it keeps getting better. Yay on those guys. They also happen to have released a Rally flash cards app. Another $10, but, I think I am about to crumble and get it for Diego and I. (Whom I think may be almost ready for the CGC!)

Sue Ailsby also released her Levels Dog Training iPhone app this week. Check it out on iTunes. Her Levels training system is genius, perfect for an organiz-o-phile like myself. How far along I get in the actual Levels is beside the point. I can sleep at night knowing my training levels are all neatly and perfectly ordered, waiting for me to jump back in at any time. Download it for $0.99 before she figures out she’s waaaaay underselling herself. It is on version 1.1 and seems pretty minimal, but if they do as half a good a job as the iLog peeps on updates, it will be worth the price 100x over.

Lastly, 4 day weekend!!!! HOOOray. So excited. And not that many plans, which means plenty of hang out and dog time. Maybe I’ll get super-motivated and drag my 2x2s out to the park. Forest has been nailing it in the patio, even with two sets, and an additional obstacle. I think this is how I will train weaves from here on out.

Happy holiday weekend!

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Things I Love Thursday, Take One

In the spirit of being positive, and maybe under the influence of a new “motivational” book I have been reading/working in, I am jumping on the “day of the week” posting themes with “Things I Love Thursday.” Hopefully we’ll stick with dog- and agility-related stuff, but I am sure I wont be able to resist throwing in some odds and ends as well. Here goes the virgin voyage:

Dogged Goodness:

Acana Grasslands Kibble — I have been experimenting with the boys, and so far this has been the best. Eating the food is never a problem in our house, its the exit that causes us issues. Mainly with Diego. Seems to come out all okay, no drama, and Diego’s coat looks especially amazing. (On a side note, I need to tape a huge reminder in the kitchen somewhere that says “Do Not Experiment with Diego’s Dinner.” I was all thinking I was super-dog-mom last night and cooked up a scrambled egg, canned salmon, brown rice and parsley omelette for them for dinner. It was scarfed up in seconds flat, with pitiful looks for second servings after. Yet, Diego was not a happy camper this morning and had his first ever accident in my office. Yay for scrubbing half-digested brown rice off of office carpet. My own fault.)

– Forest’s new collar from All Hounds Apparel — he has the tiger stripe one, rawr. It makes me feel better when he pulls on walks like a maniac.

– 2×2 weave training! — We aren’t really “done”, or even close to done, but I think it is going to be soooo hugely helpful in getting Forest to weave independently of me. He seems to really get it, and doesn’t seem at all confused (I was worried that he might be with already “knowing” how to weave, but no issues whatsoever.) Laurie also caught me babysitting his weave entries in class last week, so I need to work on that too. But, so far, I think this is going to make both of us way more confident. Hooray for “systems” that work.

Non-Dog Good Stuff:

mint.com — I have always sucked at managing my money. I pay bills on time, but I am no stranger to a bounced checking account either. Mint is free, online, and helps you track and manage your finances without a lot of effort. I am finding it pretty easy to keep up with, and its really helping me budget and visually see where I am spending too much money. (Ummm, are you shocked the number one red flag is my “Pets” category? Of which agility is a sub-category? Its not pretty, but at least I know I have a problem. Thats the first step, right?)

– hand-me-downs from my grandmother. People probably think I am creepy, but I love that I have been able to have a few things from Nanie that remind me of her on a daily basis. A few of her button-down shirts, necklaces and rings that I wear, a super-retro-regency dolphin soap dish I use for my jewelry, the cricket cage that my sister and I used to play with on the nightstand in the kids bedroom. It makes me feel like she is still around, and I know she would love for me to have those little pieces of her.

White Buffalo — going to see him tonight again, this time with a full band. I dont have much patience for shows these days, but for him, I do. Amazing.

Heading out to the Dogs Allowed to Be Dogs Place tomorrow evening for a car camp out. From there I have to get up and out reasonably early on Saturday AM for more wedding festivities. As in I have to make it from the remote campsite, to a shower and a hairdryer, and to a nice restaurant wearing—as per the invite—a purple or green outfit by 11:30am. Joy oh, joy, this will be fun. I think I can pull it off at this point, but, we’ll see how it goes.

Tired

The posting has been sparse unfortunately, due to my lack of motivation and energy. My plans of doing a Rally Fun Match with Diego were thwarted, and instead I had a weekend full of family bickering and post-grandparents aftermath. It is getting ugly. Over the stuff. There is a lot of stuff to be had and its just getting gross. I thought I could be a referee, but I have decided to bow out of that mess.

Diego and Forest, less-than-impressed with family drama as well. Side note–when we were kids, these were the “death stairs”. One wrong step and you were catapulting down the sheer drop, praying you didnt land on a concrete corner. Diego used them as his personal stairmaster this weekend.

That and we watched “Up in the Air” last night—which was a lovely movie but that, compounded with my weekend full of stuff-arguing makes me want to quit my job, throw the dogs in the car and get the hell out of Dodge. Where on earth we would go, not sure, but it would be nice. Maybe to Joshua Tree, or Hurricane or Buffalo, preferably with a Scamp in tow?

In agility news, Forest’s running Aframe contacts and 2x2s are both coming along nicely. I need to map out my Fall agility schedule now that we _hopefully_ should be out of the figurative heat by the end of next month. Though with how wonky this Summer has been we could have an endless heat wave into December…

I am going to start a Scamp fund.

Back On Track

Not that much to report from this weekend, other than I seem to have possibly found a place to stealth train in mornings and evenings. There is a sports park about a 5-10 minute drive from our place. There is a field off to the side of the others that looks like its probably used for soccer. It is mostly fenced and in the 3 or so times I’ve been by, there hasnt been a soul there. We did a little test drive 20  minute session on Sunday morning, and all went well. My goal will be to sneak out there 1-2 times a week before or after work for some quick sessions.

Pete actually built me a set of weaves last week, which was so cool. I am so excited to use them on the field, but they are quite a bit unwieldily. He hasnt glued them together yet, so I am thinking we can keep them in 2 or 3 sections so I can manage to squish them into the car and haul them around. On top of that, I am waffling back and forth between keeping on with the already learned 6 weaves, or if we should start over with the 2x2s? I did order a bunny fur tug for Forest–we’ll see if he loves it enough to get fired up over it. Maybe I will let that be my guide. It seems pretty important to have toy drive in order for the 2x2s to work… we shall see how things work out.

Lastly, we did get a little bit of “dogs being dogs” time in this weekend. We were able to go to some private property and let them run off leash and bounce through the brush and sniff around for an hour. I wish it had been longer but Pete’s eye is making him miserable so we had to pack it up. Forest actually did not want to get in the car, I dont blame him. We actually pretended to start driving away, he came after us, but then still we had to eventually pick him up and put him in the car. Not very CU of me, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…

I do have to say it surprises me how many performance dogs don’t seem to get the time to be dogs. I haven’t figured out as many spots to do that in our new environs yet, but it seems incredibly important to me. If they have an overall satisfied state of mind by being allowed to act naturally, then why wouldn’t they just naturally be more trainable dogs?

Agility tonight!