Saturday, November 13, 2010


Yes, we have snow. Last Wednesday we set a high-temp record of 68 degrees, capping off the nicest Fall season in memory. When the other shoe dropped, it was a Sorel boot.

My friend Becky Hart and I started out this morning at 5:45 am with the intention of competing in LaCrosse. It was snowing pretty well, but we decided to see where the "snow/rain" line might be. We never found it, opting to abandon our plan as far south as Northfield, and I know it was a good decision.

When I got home, the snow was falling even more heavily so it was the perfect time to introduce DDare to snow. He was born in the desert, remember. Even rain was a pretty new thing. Of course he loved it. He chased the little snowballs made by his feet. He ate it. He ran in it, with his cousin Winn (also from the desert, and who loves snow.) They swam like dolphins. They chased each other. And I could have shot more video, but the big flakes hit the lens and melted, so I had to tuck it away after a few minutes.

Now, we're all sitting by a nice fire, watching the snow fall. It's piled up. It's awful snow, heavy and wet, and it's taking its toll on branches. It will likely melt this week, giving the ground a chance to freeze.


I haven't posted since our trip to USDAA Nationals in October, having had scarce time to muse.

What a great experience that was--eight clean runs, some placements, and a Performance Grand Prix Finals run. I finally had a chance to look at the video last week and reflect on the whole string. I wanted to see what my handling looked like, too, and was happy to see that I was handling as well as I think I can. I never assumed the fetal position--I take that as a sign that I wasn't nervous---I wasn't nervous! I truly ran with joy and had an absolutely swell time with Winn.
Locally, Winn earned his C-ATCH 2 at the Halloween CPE trial. I had promised that I would earn (or try to!) with a 51-point Snooker score. Snooker was our hardest class for a while, requiring different skills, and we worked together to master them. Here's the video:
(It was too large a file for Blogger to upload without timing out, but the show is only a minute or so)

is done with chemo! She finished up after I got back home, and although the final treatment was one of the tougher drugs, she bounced back once again. It's been a few weeks, and last week Maggie returned to class. She ran with enthusiasm! I am so blessed to still have her with me. I am full of hope that she'll have many, many more good days. We will continue to trial, but I'm entering her in only a few runs. She's lost some muscle tone and I sure don't want to risk injury with her. She likes that idea, too, and comes out to run with determination. You know, she's within shouting distance of her C-ATCH 4 and NATCH 4, and might make it to those ribbons. Doesn't matter. She can run, or coach the team from her crate, whatever she decides to do.

DDare continues to "do well" in class and is turning into such a nice dog in many ways. He loves to run. He is just as happy snoozing on the couch. We worked a lot on attention this past week, and it improved (go figure!). I broke down and bought him a Premier Easy-Walk harness , and it worked right away. I thought I could train this without it, but frankly I think that I can still train/reward him while he learns with this "aid". It is, after all, how Winn learned it.

We have had a good time, working on turns around a cone, sending to a target, and running along a plank. I am excited, thinking about what a nice dog I am going to have--because I have a nice puppy already! It's hard to believe he's seven months old already.

That's it for rambling today---I leave you with a photo from the Halloween trial, and promise to tell you the story behind it on another posting. Until then, YOU run with joy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

USDAA Nationals

What I like about my dog: Everything.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Indian Summer

I just can't remember a nicer stretch of weather than what we've had for the past two weeks (yes, after a horrible, flooding, damaging rainy seige). Here is what I like a lot:

  • Discovering that fields on either side of a road I travel frequently were planted in pumpkins. The orange globes just appeared the morning after our frost.
  • The migrating warblers hopping branch to branch, so tiny.
  • Combines and gleaners, and the stubble they leave behind.
  • A maple tree that changed literally overnight from green to red and gold.
  • Sweatshirts with shorts.
  • The crisp clean air under high pressure.
  • The last of the mosquitoes.
  • Apples. Apple Crisp. Caramel apples.
  • Seeing Jack's fall dapples fade as his winter coat starts to come in.
  • A harvest moon.
  • Frost on the Aframe that melts in time to play.
  • Maggie's energy in the cooler weather.
  • The way the midday sun feels so warm on your face.
  • The first batch of stew.
  • Twilight.
  • Post season baseball.

To be continued

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Winn's 2nd Place herding run at Corgi Nationals

We tied for first place on this run. I lost 2 points on the cross drive, maybe when I FELL DOWN, and the other team had 0 points off so we came in second.
I could not be more proud of Winn. I have worked so hard to learn herding, and want to thank Susane Hoffman for her patience.
Hope the video shows up here.....

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 Corgi Nationals

It's our last night in Pennsylvania and I wanted to post quickly before crashing for the night. Tomorrow will be a long day--agility and then the start of the long drive home. As much fun as we've all had, I am anxious to get home; I miss Allen and Maggie and sleeping in my own bed (without having to shush dogs--although they've been really good and the hotel has been relatively quiet).
Our Nationals has been just terrific--seeing old friends, making new friends, watching great corgis. The weekend of herding was a wonderful experience and I learned a ton by watching. Winn worked well, and earned two 'bonus' Qs in Started Sheep. On Sunday we had a very nice run that tied us for first place (we ended up second, as ties are broken on the cross drive and I didn't make it to the #5 marker---um, I fell down and got up and proceeded to the gate instead.)
Today was obedience day! When I sent in my entry for our first Open "A" experience I really had intended to practice. And I did, right before going into the ring--ha!
It took a little bit of time in the ring to get into the rhythm of the heeling, but we actually didn't do badly--in fact Winn's heeling score was the best in the class of 12 dogs (and hey, they had all been there before!) . When it came time for the Retrieve on the Flat, though, I NQ'd us by throwing the dumbbell short of the required 20 feet. Oops. And when the judge walked over to give me back the DB, it unnerved Winn a little and he kept one eye on her the rest of the run.
Then Winn NQ'd us by going AROUND THE JUMP! on the Retrieve over the High Jump. THAT was a surprise.
The high point of my Open A debut though was that Winn actually stayed in a sit--which has NEVER EVER happened before. Not in class, not in practice...never. So THAT was worth the entry for me. And then, he got up on the long down. He has NEVER EVER done that before, either. Ah.......maybe with some practice? Next year!!

DDare's first Corgi Nationals has been great too--lots of dogs and people to meet. His sister Remy was here too and she looks great--such nice dogs.His last baby tooth fell out. He looks like a giraffe. He acts like a monkey! But he's a great little traveling pup.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No matter what I do, this photo shows up sideways. Sorry, you'll just have to lie down to see it correctly oriented. Which is what we are all doing tonight. Chillin' at the Inn.

The Road Trip Gene

So, before I was born, my dad was a travelin' salesman. He sold ad time for radio, covering the state. The story goes that he was in International Falls in mid-March 1953 when my mom went into labor--but when he drove all night to be home, in a snowstorm, part-way with a sheriff's escort (fact or legend?) it was no longer labor. (another version states that my folks' insurance didn't kick in until April, so I was born April 1)

The family traveled (SEVEN kids) for fun--our first camping/fishing trip to the Kinnikinnic; countless horse shows; and our last family trip to Montana to fetch our brother Tim at college.

I've been traveling for work for about 35 years. As a Regional Manager for B. Dalton (ah, remember them?) My region at one point covered the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as the prairie of South Dakota, and Minnesota's Iron Range. There were times when I'd leave on Sunday, spend two weeks on the road, and put about 1800 miles on my little Chevy Citation RSM car. As a buyer, I traveled to New York regularly and twice to England in search of bargain books. When I worked at Putnam as an RSM I had seven reps, 23 states, and three time zones.

My sister Nancy has a mobile gift store and routinely rises at 3 am to hit the road--sometimes Florida or California for the winter, and often the greater Midwest for "local" horse shoe circuits.

My brother Rob has been scuba diving in Bali and he and his wife Liz travel to Hawaii often.

Tim went to Ethiopia with friends for six weeks (a long story for another time, but it did involve a later-annulled arranged marriage!)

So today, after 1150.8 miles in two days to Pennsylvania for the Corgi Nationals, I pondered the idea of inherited wanderlust. I realize that most people travel, and take vacation out of town, but I think nothing of driving across the country for a dog show. And traveling with dogs means you don't take a lot of side trips, although we've done a few (LOVE the Badlands loop--but they prohibit you from even taking your dogs out of the car!)

I've been to 43 states in my life so far, and have enjoyed the drive.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why This Happens, we wonder, or Poor Allen

So I am out of town for work, as quick a trip as I can manage and still spend a day each in Birmingham AL and Nashville TN. This is the first night Allen has been left "home alone" with everyone (by that I mean DDare. He has spent countless nights at home by himself for the past 35 years.)
He had to take Maggie up to Dr. Heather for acupuncture, and then to the vet clinic for her CBC. I wasn't worried about that but called home this afternoon between appointments to see if it had all gone smoothly. Maggie's trip was fine. The rest of the crew......
DDare woke him up at 2 am. Allen carried him down the stairs and outside where he: Threw up. Peed. Pooped "ferociously" (whatever that means, I didn't ask for details)

Winn woke him at 4 am. Threw up on the bed, then again on the (carpeted) floor.

Maggie slept.

He ran into our equine vet, Bruce, while at the clinic with Maggie, and described to him the sore foot symptoms that we have noticed in the "younger" horse, Jack. Jack is 22 and an easy keeper. Bruce told Allen to get a pasture muzzle NOW, as he suspects the beginning of laminitis which will worsen. Off to Fleet Farm Allen trekked. Couldn't decide on a size, so he bought two.
When he got home, he tried unsuccessfully to put the muzzle on Jack while in the pasture. Ha. Jack knows a bad deal when he sees it, and refused to stand still. So Allen let them (also Clay, aged 35 years or so) into the barn and got the muzzle fitted.
But then horses the refused to leave the barn. He'd get Clay out, but Clay missing Jack, he headed right back in. Allen tried to push Jack out, but (I suppose since he can't eat now and sees no point in doing the right thing) no luck. So there they stand. Allen is thoroughly disgusted.

This stuff never happens until I leave town. Or doesn't seem to. I can't explain it. The animals refuse to offer a reason. I'll be home tomorrow night.

Monday, August 09, 2010


I spent some time at Radio Shack on Saturday and then figured out how to upload video. The boys have provided lots of action, but this is my favorite (so far) because Maggie "The Ref" is sitting next to me on the couch, calling fouls and generally supervising, in her way. They didn't give her a black and white uniform for nothin'. After I stopped, she did jump down to freeze the play, inspect the team, and leave the room, muttering.


Monday, August 02, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes

So, one day last week Winn woke up and decided that DDare was now old enough to be a suitable playmate! They have been wrasslin' ever since. Maggie is the official referee and periodically stops play. After a quick check by her of their bodies, usually their bellies, play is allowed to resume....

And a great shot from class. Restrained recall is a favorite.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I haven't mastered putting photos up in any wonderful way, so here's a bunch stacked up

Weekend Update (now I suppose I'll hear from SNL)

I haven't posted nearly enough, have I? The hours and days fly by. Work is busy--the book business seems to have changed overnight and keeping up is a challenge! The e-book revolution, predicted to be a slow march away from physical books to "e", is not slow. It's more sprint-like even, and what we knew months ago is no longer true.
I've been in the book business for 35 years now, and have survived other big changes, but this one is breathtaking. A page turner, for sure---twist ending? We'll see.
On the home front: Maggie is at the vet as I type this, awaiting her chemo. She got a (planned) week off after the "big gun" dose of Doxorubicin/Adriamycin. This drug gave her a short-lived bout of bloody diarrhea (sorry) and made her RBC count drop. They shouldn't be allowed to send out a lab report with the word "PANIC" on any values!! But as I am grateful to see them each week, I did not panic. I called and was reassured that this happens, isn't cause for too much concern, and to keep an eye on Maggie for lethargy or pale gums. We then consulted with Dr. Heather Evans, Maggie's chiro/acupuncture support team member, who advised that we could boost RBC growth (which should recover on its own) with some rich foods (yay! raw beef liver!) and vitamin B. Regarding her gums: after the first few inspections, Maggie was heard to mutter "poke them again and you WILL feel teeth." Yes, they were fine. Lethargy? Nope--in fact three days after the treatment Maggie turned in one of the fastest agility runs of her long career.

Today her labs came back nearly perfect. have I observed how remarkable it is to see these rebounds? The whole experience is awesome, in the literal sense of that over-used word. I was thinking about it driving back home this morning. The clinic has just added an oncologist to the staff, and we met her this morning. The mere fact that this is a required specialty now speaks volumes about canine care. I am sure that cancer is both more prevalent and more often diagnosed than it was even 10 years ago. And the treatments abound! This means that we are responsible for making decisions that weren't available to be made. The decision to treat this "touch of cancer" was made because the alternative was certain (Maggie would have left us by now, untreated) and the predicted outcome with treatment was very positive. But in the end, all our lives WILL end. One of the vet techs is changin jobs at the clinic to work exclusively with the cancer pups, and I heard she was a little reluctant because of the end-of-life scenarios. I don't blame her, but I hope she will get to focus on all the good work she is doing--the during-life! We're all gonna leave these bodies some day, it's a fact. So let's make all the days before then count.

OK, the other corgis are demanding some words here.
Winn has been such a great partner this summer. Although he has his "middle child" moments around home, he's been terrific on the course--either agility or herding. He has more initials behind his name than a law firm, and ribbons adorn my office. Last weekend was a dream--he was clean, fast and perfectly in tune.
His herding is improving, too--actually it's MY handling that's improving. I have decided that I need to treat my herding lessons the way I treat an agility class. Run the course, then discuss what happened with Susane, then pick out pieces to re-run in an improved manner. This seems to be a solid approach. I can wish I'd thought of it sooner, but frankly until this summer I wasn't really sure what the options were, so it's all good. We're aiming at qualifying at the Corgi Nationals. There, I said it.

DDare! continues to provide much joy. Puppies are a lot of work, but the rewards are certainly there, sometimes instantly and mostly over a short time. Potty training: dare I say that it's been nearly two weeks without a goof? (sure). Bite inhibition: I have NO current scabby spots on my hands and arms! Tricks: the "wave" is coming along, the "roll over" is next. In the meantime, he remains confident, fast, and happy. He will fetch a toy dozens of times. He loves life. We love him It's a good deal.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Photos from Puppy FUNdamentals class

Puppy Class

DDare has started his Puppy FUNdamentals class with Jane Fallander at AGoodDogNow (same building as Agile Canines, and Tuesday nights after Winn's agility class--handy!) and after two classes, I am darn excited about this pup.
He's confident without being pushy, very operant, and a happy guy. In one session we shaped a "down" and started crate manners (sit/stay until released). Last week he attacked the wobble boards, ladder, and irregularly shaped platforms--they were lined up in a row like a dogwalk--no problem: FUN
Jane brought out a wastebasket so we could play "101 Things to do with a Box" but instead I put him in it for fun. We also started "spoon heeling" and hand touches.
Puppies are a LOT of work. Puppies are a LOT of fun.

Maggie: is doing really well. After our celebration at no side effects from Vincristine, this was her first week of Doxorubicin/Adriamyacin. It can be hard on the heart, so it's good that she has a strong, athletic one. I'm also supplementing with CO-Q10, yet another trip to the coop (bonus--they have great tuna salad, for me!) She is officially in remission and we are so hopeful about her future. She's been cleared to run agility this weekend and we'll take it the way we always do--on her terms, run by run, and always with joy!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

This is a photo taken by Becky at DDare's first class. Such a ham, he is.

Counting my blessings

As the ride continues here, I am trying damn hard to look on the bright sides, of which there are many.

Maggie restored her white blood cells and then some! (this is normal, we hear) so last week Allen took her to Blue Pearl while I was in Nashville for the day. The week's chemo consisted of a pill at the clinic and two take-out doses. While waiting in the Nashville airport that afternoon, unsuccessfully standing-by for two earlier flights, the clinic called. After Maggie swallowed her pill, was observed for a bit to make sure she was "good", and Allen and Maggie went home......a pill was discovered on the floor at the clinic. So very Maggie. The office manager, bless her heart, delivered a new pill which I gave her once I got home. No side effects and Maggie rode along to Little Falls for the USDAA trial, in her management role. This week she had a most excellent CBC report and was given a lower dose of Vincristine in hopes of killing cells without the vomiting. We'll know tomorrow about the meantime she continues to look good, feel good, and likes the people at the clinic(s). Brad, the vet tech, calls her "babe" which just cracks me UP!

Winn and I got to work with two of our favorite agility clinicians--Stacy Peardot-Goudy and Dana Pike. I had a blast. One of the most satisfying things EVER was to hear that both of them thought we were looking great. It's been so much fun to train this dog, and now when we are at a seminar, it's more practice and fine tuning than learning too much new stuff. Great fun!

On the weekend, Winn ran 11 times at the trial and was 7/10 and also ran in Steeplechase Round 2 (only 8" dog, he won $7.50). This was our most successful USDAA weekend ever and it was a lot of fun. His teeter performance was much improved, and although he didn't care for the dogwalk slats, he agreed to run on them (smile. Such a gamer). He did sleep all the way home--rare.

DDare also rode to Little Falls and was the perfect puppy all weekend! He played with the many other puppies there, made new friends, and was generally very happy. He didn't sleep all night on Saturday, but since I was in bed by 9 pm I was completely understanding at 3 am. And this week he is sleeping until 5:30 or 6 am!! Our puppy is becoming a dog! (ever so slowly) This week he attended his first Puppy FUNdamentals class with Jane Fallander of AGoodDogNow and had a blast. He is confident on "funny" surfaces. He likes to come when called. It's pretty easy to shape behaviors with him. But he will not potty on the that homework??

Winn had an awesome herding lesson this week, too. Allen came along and brought DDare to watch, so I have a witness. We worked in a fairly small area since Susane's A course is still wet, and it's really a good area in which to proof all the basic movements. Herding progress has been marked by inches. This week I felt as though we advanced about a foot.

By now, you may be wondering where the non-brightness is. Well......

Kennel cough continues to plague the training school, and although neither Maggie or Winn have gotten it so far and DDare's case was so very mild, it's still worriesome. I honestly don't think that DDare started this outbreak, but since it's impossible to good friend Becky said "if there is no blame, there should be no guilt" and I am focusing on that.

Fleas. Ugh. In 23 years we have never had 'em. Now we do. And I don't like putting Frontline on the dogs. Now I have. I've been reassured by the vet team that it will be OK for Maggie, and still.......but it was clear that they weren't going to die without intervention.

Potty training. DDare is improving but I still have failed a few times to get him outside. The only solution is to have him crated unless I have 100% attention on him. He likes the crate and it isn't hard to crate him.....I just need to do it before I start (typing) (watching baseball). It is getting better. It is getting better.

So, that's the view this week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


R: DDare meets the ducks
L: Becky Hart and I and Boy #3 before we left AZ. His left ear came up the first morning home!

When it Rains.....

It pours.
Today I am the proverbial bug on the windshield. This post will be one of those therapeutic spews. Nothing terrible, just a general piling-on.
The Maggie update: she continues to do well, although she did suffer some side effects from last week's chemo (Vincristine). We arrived in Duluth last Friday afternoon without incident but as we were getting ready to leave the trial site to check into the motel, Maggie threw up everything she'd eaten that day. Yuck. I think it was the nastiest smell to ever afflict her crate. She was mortified, too. A call to the vet(s) yielded an encyclopedic tour of what might be, and some practical advice. We then procured Pepcid and turkey/rice baby food, administered the first, followed later by a little slurry of the second. It didn't stay down Friday night, but worked its magic by Saturday morning, and by Sunday Maggie was 100% recovered. She even ran one agility course on Sunday afternoon, and qualified. I felt as though we'd earned a championship on that run, just to see her vigor return. So now, we know that she may need pre-treatment when she gets this particular drug again. It's one of the repeaters on the protocol, so we'll stock up.
She had blood drawn yesterday in preparation for this week's treatment, and her WBC count was low--not critically, but enough to put off treatment until next week. This, too, is not unexpected. It means the chemo is working, and it kills the 'bad cells' and a few 'good cells' in the process. We'll try again next Tuesday and in the meantime root root root for the white cells!

The Winn update: we had a fabulous herding lesson with Marc Christopher on Friday before heading north. I think this man is one of the most gifted observers around, and he quickly spotted Winn's reliance on my physical cue to move off on an outrun. (hmmm, just like our start-line issues!!) Once I stopped moving, we got a much more thoughtful dog. And a nicer, square flank. Go figure. And this made my resolve at the agility trial hold up--I had to take Winn off twice, but he got the point and by Sunday afternoon was rock solid.

The Wrenshall NADAC trial can't be beat--even in the fog/mist/cool weather we always have a blast. The courses seemed especially fun; Ilze Rukis was the judge so it was having a friend in the ring, even if she was calling a fault; and two friends earned Championships on Sunday. Winn and I tried a 'bonus line' in Jumpers on Sunday too--we didn't get it, but we got a lot of it. FUN!

Puppy update: DDare has been here ten days already!! He is a great addition to the staff. Having said that, and meaning every word of it....
He's had a few pee accidents. Actually, it's me. I have forgotten just how often puppies need to pee. I have forgotten that you can't expect them to walk to the door, they must be carried out. I have forgotten that the whine is a reliable signal. And I had forgotten what an entire night's sleep was like until last night, when DDare slept 10:30-5:30. Bliss. and now.....
He has kennel cough. Although he was vaccinated last week, he woke up this morning (ah bliss.) and had the all-too-familiar "gack" in his throat. I waited until 10 am to decide it was not going away and up to the clinic we went. We're back (with pills and bills!) and he's being kept from Maggie and Winn.
The frustrating thing is that I suspect he came into contact at a puppy class. He may not have been fully protected by the vaccine yet, or the strain might be one outside the protection for that, who knows? I'll call the school and let them know, and wonder if there are sick puppies in the group tonight. I've spent the day letting everyone know who may have come in contact with him in the past week. The guilt is not insignificant, and my fear of course is for Maggie and Winn. We're keeping them at a distance, but the fact is that it may be too late. I can only watch and try not to worry. And cancel classes and lessons and take it a day at a time.

I am not a worrier by nature, I am a 'doer' so this is a lesson in patience for me, I guess.

On a much lighter note, at the trial the DDare fun was well-documented:

The Great Dane, "Norm" belongs to the photographer, Amy Johnson. Neither of them knoew what to do with each other! And the lovely "Siren" was content to let DDare pull her around for a while. Cute couple!

By the time I post again, we should be past this. No one will be coughing, everyone will be sleeping all night, and Maggie will be back to her healing. Right??

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Of course she handled it!

Maggie had her first chemo injection today. She charmed everyone she met along the way, greeting the receptionists, the techs, anyone in the waiting room--with a bark and a smile. She thinks it's pretty lousy that there are no treats in the exam room, but sighed and waited until we we were all sure she wasn't going to have any adverse reaction to the drugs.

I am full of hope. The protocol has lots of positive things going for it, statisically. And I have Maggie. She is such a spunky dog. The view from Mushtown Road today is great--sunshine!

Tomorrow is a vacation day: Winn and I will play agility, then Maggie will supervise my packing for the puppy trip. I'm excited to meet DDare and his family, and then bring him home to meet mine.

Winn had a terrific herding lesson today, too. We're headed up to try an AHBA trial on Sunday, and then we're home for a while to tackle puppy training!

I am so lucky to have a support group! Allen is the best. My friends are here when I need them, and all our critters bring joy. My work colleagues are tremendously loving and forgiving of my need to take a long lunch to get Maggie squared away, and sending all manner of healing energy. And the care and concern from all our friends across the country is felt and appreciated so much.
It's pretty amazing how connected we really are.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Perspective from the Roller Coaster

You already know that we’re getting a puppy. He’ll be here in less than a week—Cibola Double Dare Ewe , call name “DDare” and if all goes well, Maggie and Winn will welcome him home.

What I haven’t told too many people until I could do it without crying, is that Maggie is in the process of being diagnosed with lymphoma. On Tuesday her canine chiropractor noticed swollen lymph nodes. I was shocked—I have my hands on the dogs all the time, especially in high tick season, but Dr. Heather assured me they can blow up overnight. Since it was so sudden, I called her regular vet, and we got in a few hours later for a needle aspiration. While waiting for the lab results, Dr. Laurie arranged for a consult across town with an internal medicine vet. They were terrific and we had an appointment right away. Then, the cytology came back “suspicious” and so we opted to have them remove a lymph node, and now we’re again awaiting results so that we can get a diagnosis, and if necessary, start treatment right away. Maggie is asymptomatic, in fact she looks and feels great!

So on Friday, I spent the afternoon reading about training puppies, and then reading about treating cancer, until I filled my head. Quite the juxtaposition.

Maggie and I are all set to begin this new path. The good news is that this is a treatable cancer, with good odds for a lengthy remission. She’s otherwise healthy, a smaller dog, and FEMALE—all factors on her favor. And she is Maggie—this is no ordinary dog, after all! We are in it together. We’re ready to heal!

I am not fond of roller coasters, but have learned to not look anywhere but ahead when on that ride. I’m going to do my best to not look down during this one. I want all of you to help by keeping us in your thoughts, and think positive. Thanks.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday night photos

Our new puppy is pictured here on the left with one of his sisters. In three weeks he'll arrive here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not the Puppy Channel

If you read the comments, I received one from the actual OWNER of the puppy channel. Who knew?
So Daniel, I did change the title of my WIDELY read blog--you see I have EIGHT whole followers. And by the way, I am not a literate gentleman. (that photo of me could have been a hint. Or do you all think I look like a gentleman?) And you cannot copyright a title. I assume that would pertain to a BLOG title. I could write a book and call it The Puppy Channel. Or a song. (I'll put them on my to-do list)

In any case it was not my intention to compete, directly or otherwise, with THE Puppy Channel.

Yours in cyberspace,


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Puppy photos

That's what it feels like here, as we await new photos and news from Arizona, where the litter continues to thrive. It looks as though "Boy 3" will be coming to Minnesota in early June, and we're starting to take things seriously. The new crate arrived this morning. Winn looks up eagerly anytime one of us uses the "P" word, and at a recent trial, he was convinced we were there to pick up the new addition. Alas, although he made nice, the BC pups did not come home with us.

I'm reading, watching video, and trying to remember ANYTHING about 6 years ago when Winn was a puppy. Maggie is 11, I remember nothing. Repressed memories I think.Speaking of Maggie, she is being a good sport I think. It's a good thing dog can't roll their eyes, or hers would be permanently stuck.

The agility calendar is about to get even more full and we're looking forward to the outdoor season. The agility pitch here is green and lush and if it would stop raining we'd be out there! Allen has mowed and mowed between raindrops. We have materials to build more jumps, too.

I went to the second day of the AKC World Team Tryouts on Sunday. It's such an inspiring event, and I came home with some sequences to set up here. I don't have World Team aspirations but I want to be a better handler. I will be a Mushtown Road Team member! Very tough competition.
The Susan Perry seminar this week has been in aid of that, too. She is a great teacher and although I didn't "learn" anything new, I got great insights on a couple of handling challenges and took notes so I'll remember them. I think I am going to invent a wristband (like the QBs wear) and I'll have my little reminders there on the start line....want one? you know you do.

My big project at the moment is being trial chair for the 2011 CPE Nationals and I think I have the framework in place now, and a great group of people to do all the work involved. Just setting up the subcommittees took a lot of effort! We are very excited about hosting the event here though, and look forward to a truly wonderful event next June, 13 months from this weekend in fact.
So there you have it. I took a few minutes to update the blog, and post some corgi puppy photos. Back to the to-do list.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Here is the photo from Cindy as the pups assembled for a midnight supper. Reason is the name of the dam, and "Uncle" Beau (as in Winn's uncle) is the sire. Proud Momma!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Waiting for Puppy

It's nearly midnight on a Sunday night. Maggie, Winn and I ran agility this weekend, TDAA-style, and I should asleep. Maggie's gone ahead to bed, Allen's upstairs too. Winn and I are on the computer--because a litter of corgi pups is being born right now and the news is coming ever so slowly for our impatient selves.
Winn's uncle "Beau" is the sire for this litter, which is being whelped in Arizona. As of right now, 6 of the 7 puppies have been born: 4 girls, 2 boys. We're third in line for a boy and so I am staying up a bit longer, hoping for more boys parts to appear!

Winn earned his Teacup Agility Dog Championship this weekend, so now he's gotten a Ch in three of the organizations. I am so proud of this wonderful dog! Teacup is a challenge--the distance between obstacles demands collection on Winn's part and handling on mine. Our teamwork has really come together in the past six months. Last week I was working on sending him to jumps 50' away, and today he had to maneuver serpentines about 3' between jumps.

Herding is going pretty well, too. We have moved back outside and I am anxious to see if our progress this winter in the arena will hold up once we're in the larger field.

So---Maggie is clearly not as excited about the prospect for a puppy. We know that a boy would be easier to incorporate into our pack. (Winn doesn't care, he just wants someone to PLAY with) If a male puppy isn't in the cards, I'll have to decide what to do. I so want a puppy from Beau!
I realize I am rambling tonight, as my thoughts are zinging around. Winn's calmly sleeping with his nose an inch away. How can he be so relaxed??

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Surely, Signs of Spring

More musings, some from the drive--again, back from LaCrosse. We love trialing there. Last weekend Maggie earned her TACh #2 in "teacup" agility--an organization geared for smaller dogs, with big dog challenges. Maggie likes the shorter yardage and smaller equipment. Winn is getting the hang of it. In fact he was brilliant at the trial. He missed only one weave pole entry (out of six) and had no off courses. He's living up to his fancy National Champion title and I am proud of our work.

I opted for the shorter (well, faster) drive home. It was nearly 40 degrees on Sunday afternoon. Along I-90, the strong sunshine has glazed the snow. There are many spots where the past few blizzards have sculpted some impressive snowbanks. Fences are still buried nearly to the tops of the posts. And it all reminded me of---meringue! It's still very white, up the hill from the road, and looks as shiny as the top of a pie.

The edges of the dirt roads aren't as pretty--I'd like to say that it looked like shaved almonds, but it's clearly dirt.

And when I got home, Allen pointed out that a "critter" was "growing" underneath the (now-empty) gas tank by the barn. Is it an ice weasel? A frozen camel? A clear panther?

Glad we have it captured here; the week continues warm, and it may crawl back from whence it came.

The commuting deer have now added more members--we counted 14, including two bucks, marching along their trail. They have made a path that we might be able to walk. The snow in the woods is still over the tops of my boots (a good 24") and thus much too deep for my short-legged companions, but we might try the deer path. It winds around the swamp to the south, up a hill into the neighbor's woods, and I think, comes out in our back horse pasture.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chick a dee dee dee dee

I filled the bird feeder yesterday afternoon. No sooner had I replaced the lid on the feeder when at least 20 chickadees appeared all at once, flitting here and there, taking turns at the feeder and being their generally cheerful little selves. I've seen grateful birds at the feeder but never so quickly and so many.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts on Snooker

The game of Snooker in agility is challenging,and some people claim to hate it. Others, like me, love it. And having played it the past two weekends, I've been thinking about it.

Snooker is a game that brings out the worst in our handling, until we get good at it, and then it brings out the best in our handling.

A winning strategy has to include the most efficient path for your dog, and if something goes wrong, requires thinking while running. Most of us don't practice these skills and so when we get a course map, when we walk the course, sometimes it's a real challenge to find the best course for you and your dog. And there are all those handlers on course, and no one seems to be walking the obstacles in the same order! And then, if you're on the running order later in the class, you might watch others and think "Oh I wish I'd thought of that!" and try to decide whether to abandon your plan in favor of one you didn't walk. It's something that you could practice, and should, as it might come in really handy!

Snooker can reward the bold plan--trying for 4 reds, trying for all 7s. It can also reward the safe plan, lower points but getting all the way through the closing sequence. Knowing what's best for your team on the day, on that course, is the BEST plan though.

I think (and trust me, I am no Snooker expert!) that finding a Snooker course with FLOW is the real key. One thing that I have learned to do is to number my course once I settle on it. Would that look OK if some judge designed it? (of course, Snooker does not lend itself to this, but the closer you come, the happier your dog will be) I watched Toni Osonicki run a course on Sunday that made so much sense! Her dog knew exactly where the next obstacle was. It was beautiful (and yes, it made me change my plan a bit. Successfully!)

And when something goes wrong--a bar comes down or your dog chooses a different path--you have to be able to think, and move before your thought is finished! Yesterday a bar came down and I tried to decide whether to add a red and a combo. Did I have time? Somehow I decided I didn't. I won't ever know if that was the right decision, but I knew it wouldn't be the wrong decision. As it happened, a dropped bar in the closing at #7 was our downfall.

Back to my thought though, about Snooker handling. I see a lot of handlers get so flustered in this class, and they either make some herky jerky moves, or scream at the dog, or stop on course to try to find an alternative path. CPE snooker courses are a great way to get the hang of the game. You can ONLY complete 3 reds (a 4th is an emergency red) and that takes out some of the risk-taking craziness. The lower levels are easier and as you progress, they do get more and more challenging. USDAA Snooker is harder in comparison.

But there is nothing more satisfying than conquering a Snooker course by creating a fast, flowing course that allows for maximum points.

I love Snooker, and I aspire to be a great Snooker handler.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Nature Notes

I drove to LaCrosse, Wisconsin last weekend for an agility trial (more on that in a bit) and it was a great road trip. Late Friday afternoon, as I rounded a downhill curve into the river valley, the largest full moon that I have ever seen was rising. The color of the sky at that moment was sunset, pink/purple. All evening the moon was huge and bright, as was the moon-set the next morning. Later, I was told that this particular Wolf moon was actually larger (at perigee) and brighter than it would be for many many more years. How lucky am I to have seen this, and that the sky was clear for the next two nights too!
On the drive back, since it was early afternoon and the weather mild, I drove up Highway 61 along the Mississippi. I'd read that the recent bitter cold had resulted in more bald eagles gathered, earlier than the usual March numbers. And it was true. Between LaCrosse and Lake City I counted at least (I didn't stop) 48 eagles soaring in the air, parked on the ice near open water, or sitting in trees right next to the road. And as I peeked (no traffic behind me so I could slow down!) through the trees at Reed's Landing, I saw a flock of swans on the water. Wow.

Regarding the agility trial, it was a weekend to remember! Winn completed his "Triple Triple" Superior award on Saturday. This reflects the Superior award in all three classes (Regular, Jumpers and chances) in all three levels (Novice, Open and Elite) in NADAC. And then on Sunday, Maggie earned her NATCh #3 (Championship).

Back home, we are amused by the local deer. In the morning, a group marches single file along a path through our front woods, heading south, towards the swamp, along the edge, and then into the neighbor's woods. Around five p.m. we see them return, heading back north along the same path. It's as if they are commuting to and from work. It's usually two, or five, in separate groups. There's one "alpha" doe, too, who sometimes makes them stop and turn around. They are fun to watch.

For the last few mornings, there have been coyotes in the back woods. They are quite close to the house I think. They usually howl (two or three it seems) and then Stormy starts to bark outside, and the corgis woof a bit from inside. It's a beautiful sound, but I'm glad we haven't seen them during the day this year. The deep snow has to make it harder for them to find rabbits and mice.

The birds are busy at the feeders. My friend Lissie claims to have seen yellow on a goldfinch, but not here, yet. I think the winter has been hard on these guys, too, but we still have lots of activity. And I've seen lots of pheasants as I drive around.

With this much snow, I am both looking forward to and dreading spring. I am tired of the cold, but we may have an exceptionally muddy mud season this year. Time will, of course, tell, and there's not a damn thing to be done about it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Patience, my foot

I've been plagued with one of the more common effects of aging: fallen arches and the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Heel pain is annoying at the very least and sure takes the fun out of running. Or standing. So I took most of December off from agility and herding and it really seems to have helped. I am faithfully wearing my "boot" every night, stretching my ankles and calves before running, taping my foot, icing my foot (OK, about that-- I am not so faithful) and occasionally resorting to anti-inflammatory relief.
This week I have done more, and although I can feel it tonight, I really do believe I am through the worst of this. I am so looking forward to being able to run, take walks, and be generally more active this summer!
I treated myself to fancy new shoes, too. My friends Jason and Natalie ( are now stocking Ditas! They're a really nice turf shoe, but they've always been mail-order only----until now. Of COURSE they had my size. But I love them! Virtually no break-in. Good arch support. They push you up off your heels---AND even in the dirt last weekend, which was softer than usual, they kept me upright. All to the good!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sit. Stay. Do....Nothing.

I've been thinking about this for the past three weeks. For the second year in a row I was sick right before Christmas. This year, it was probably swine flu, which I don't recommend. 21 days later I am still coughing although I really do feel fine.

I know how this happens. I drive myself crazy with projects and sales conference in November. It doesn't feel like stress, but the minute I slow down my body takes its revenge. Instead of putting up decorations, I was shivering in bed with a fever. Instead of baking and eating sugar cookies, I was trying to stay hydrated (thank god for ginger ale!) Instead of taking the dogs for a romp in the good snow (light, fluffy) they had to keep me company as we all slept days away.

While it isn't a bad thing to catch up (on sleep, on TV, on the books I want to read) during the time off at Christmas, it is a bad thing to get sick in such a predictable way. It is a good thing to sit still, but you shouldn't have to be rendered immobile.

So: I am already planning on NOT getting sick next Christmas. I am planning to start those projects earlier in the year, to decorate the house right after sales conference, maybe even do some Christmas shopping. (now she's talking crazy)
Then, I plan to sit still. Healthy, and still. I will: sit in front of a fire, reading; address Christmas cards and feel free to write notes in them in a leisurely manner; reflect on the year and enjoy the fact that I am NOT sick.

I can hardly wait. I look forward to re-reading this post in the coming months. Happy New Year!