Thursday, May 24, 2012

Compromise Sooner Than Expected

Memorial Day Weekend approaches and, as usual, I have a busy schedule planned.

All day Saturday and Sunday mid-morning will be spent playing AKC Earthdog with both of my Border Terriers.

Then, following Sunday's festivities, it's a change of clothes and a drive to the western suburbs of Chicago for a Sunday celebration at my older sister's house.  My brother-in-law turns 50 in a couple of weeks.

Depending on the heat, it's either silver tarps and open car with the dogs or some crating for them at Anne's.  Earthdoggy dogs in a pristine home can be a problem.

Prior to the Sunday dinner plans, I had planned to trek out to see my mom on Monday.  She asked me about that, this morning, and I said that given that I'd see everyone Monday, I did not want to go home and turn around to come back the next day.

She told me to spend the night. I reminded her about her concerns because I did not want her to be resentful of the decision later.

Robbie will be belly banded, need to make sure I have a back up or two.

But, yes, nice to know it is not permanent afterall.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How Do You Reconcile 16 Years

People have a right to set the rules in their own home. That is why they have a home. It represents their own place where they are the "king/queen of the castle".

I'm from a large family of five children.  Out of the five children, three are married with children of their own.  Oddly enough, four out of the five children own dogs.

While we had dogs growing up, it was not necessarily all the time and I would not categorize my family as particularly doggie-centric.

I would categorize myself as that, however. I am unmarried and do not have children. Leaving out all the history with that, suffice it to say that my lifestyle pretty much revolves around my dogs and the activities I have chosen to participate in with them.

We all make choices in life and mine was to be a dog owner and then become a dog owner who competes with their dog(s) at shows or sporting events with them.

I have received encouragement and support both from family and friends for that.  On occasion, a sibling has come to watch me play in dog agility just to see what it is about.

Our family is fortunate in that all of us have settled on living in the Chicago area.  We did not all originate from the area and all went to mostly different universities for our education. But down the line, we eventually found ourselves in Chicago.

The circle was complete when my parents finally moved in 1996 to join the rest of the gang.

Oddly enough, too, just about everyone is within a 25 mile radius of each other, in the far western suburbs of Chicago.  I would be the exception, living in a Near North suburb directly adjacent to the city of Chicago.

It translates to making a 40-45 mile one-way trip to visit family and if they want me to stay for awhile, it meant staying overnight.

The convenience of my parents was that they were okay with having me bring my dogs with me, knowing they would see me.  From that location, for whatever holiday or celebration took place, the dogs had a place to be (crated if we're out) that was conveniently close.

The tradeoff was to leave them at home, and limit my visit.  Commuting time was 2+ hours roundtrip. The most I would leave them without a dog walker would be 5-6 hours. It would be my last priority as I already leave them during the day, Monday through Friday, while I work.

I did not get my dogs to have a life without them in it. They are what makes into the person I am. Had I wanted something different, I would have purchased fish.

The trouble is, life changes. My second dog brings an extra complicating factor that, "Now you're bringing TWO over?" Add to the fact that within 15 months of that, my dad died at age 65 from cancer. That is a pain I will never forget and was not equaled when I lost my first dog. I value my family above my dogs.

Add to that the issue of falling into a lazy habit of not putting a chokehold on a situation with marking at my mom's and her tolerance of cleanups.

I stated early on that I do not consider my family doggie-centric. I stand by that.  My error was not really realizing just how much that is true.

When now faced with a completely redone kitchen (floors, cabinets, etc.) and potential new carpet in family area (not a marked zone, btw), the decree was recently issued that after all the investment made, no dogs are allowed in the home.

While I understand the reason and can acknowledge that I probably played a part in it with casual disregard of marking, how do you reconcile 16 years of visiting with a sudden and abrupt change?

Eventually, this was going to play out anyway as time moves on and parents are no longer part of your life here. But that is not the case yet.

I face the fact that living where I do, owning dogs and not having children seems to have served to isolate me from my family.

It has never been more clearly apparent than now and it hurts.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Deja Vu

Years ago at an agility trial in Champaign-Urbana, a photographer captured a photo of MacDuff laying down at my side with the sun on his face as I prepared to lead out to start my run.

That image always stood out in my memory because it was such a sweet picture and it was taken at the perfect moment.  Duff did not like to "stay" at the start line.

When Ghilley and I competed at the WAG agility trial in November 2011, another photographer captured a shot of her holding a perfect "down" on the table, looking up at me.

When I saw that picture, I immediately remembered the one of Duff.

Here are the pictures:
Duff in a down
Ghilley in a down

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Louisville Agility Photos

Various pictures from the 4-day weekend from Pet Action Photos (Phyllis Ensley Photography).

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

What Happens when Ground Hog Day Falls on Snowmegeddon?

Chicago is bracing for what the media hungry meteorologists would suggest is the end of the world (or "snowmegeddon").

Looking at the weather maps, I would have to believe that these folks may be correct.  We are going to get hit with a minimum of 18 inches of snow up to potentially 24 inches of snow.  Heck even media whore, Tom Skilling, may be correct and he rarely is in his desire to get air time.

Do I sound like I am fed up with the meteorologists or what?  ;-)

They do tend to like to sensationalize everything.  They almost caused widespread panic in early December when I was in Milwaukee for a 4-day agility trial. I was driving home having family and friends call me in concern of the conditions. I looked around at the clear and dry roads and wondered if they were smoking something illegal.

Amidst all of the snow panic, successfully diverting us from a much bigger issue, like Egypt, is the realization that Ground Hog Day is tomorrow.

Typically I do not give much credence to the nonsensical ceremony behind all of this.

However, I do wonder about what the result will be for tomorrow.  My understanding is that the fuzzy Border Terrier prey comes out and if he sees his shadow and goes back in, we are doomed for another six weeks.  Frankly, at the beginning of February in the mid-west, you are delusional if you do not think we have six more weeks of winter.  Hello?!

So, every Ground Hog Day, we want the sun to disappear so the rodent will not see his shadow and will, instead, stay outside.

But what happens during Snowmegeddon?  I honestly would not expect the pudgy rodent to even come out much less stay out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

R.I.P. Ripley

My sister-in-law, Margo, had the unenviable task of bringing Ripley into the VCA in Aurora for a 2nd opinion on the tumor in his limb only to discover that the osteosarcoma in his front leg was not only severe but had fractured the bone.

Two weeks before his 11th birthday, they had to part with this beautiful boy.

Ripley survived all of his litter mates. Making it to 11 years old for a Flat-Coated Retriever is actually a great thing.

I still remember that cute little bundle of energy when John and Margo got him.  Shortly after getting him they learned that Margo was not only pregnant but due to have triplets.

Talk about a fabulous dog to have around the house. He was uber-tolerant of the little guys when they were old enough to move around and grab his ears.

Ripley loved trying to play with MacDuff, who would engage with him before Duff became too much of a grouch.

His last year was spent with their newest Flat-Coat, Arwen, who I am certain will miss her older companion.

Non dog lovers have a difficult time understanding our attachment, I know.  They are only with us for too short of a time. But that time is one we want to prolong as much as possible.

He lived a wonderful life with his family.  I know we always enjoyed seeing each other when I would come to visit.

John and Margo, know that you did the kindest thing for him that you could ever do. You took his pain and put it on yourself.

His spirit is free from that broken body now.

Rest in peace, sweet boy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back from Hounds

The 2010 version of Hounds for the Holidays went well with the gang and competition.  The not-so-nice aspects of it actually have a lot to do with the gang (or I should say "insiders") that run the event.

A small group of people actually run the trial but they do count a lot on volunteers.  Many of those volunteers have managed to insinuate themselves into the category of "insider" and contribute, somewhat, to taking some of the fun out of the event for others.

One of the necessary evils of competing here is vying for crate space.  It is a known thing that you need to get there at 5:30-6:00am on Thursday morning if you want primo crate space.  Crating space is limited in this facility.

Now, Wednesday night, volunteers and club members help unload the agility equipment and those that help have the opportunity to save crate space afterwards, thus avoiding the Thursday rush.  I was selected to help setup in 2009 but do to working (in Chicago) on Wednesday, could not make it in time to help.  They were not willing to let me substitute two workers in place of me, so our group joined the Thursday rush.

Each year, it seems that less and less crate space is available on Thursday morning.

This year, literally, 90% of the decent crate spaces were taken.  Unless I miss my guess, either they have 1/2 of the trial helping to set up or every Tom, Dick & Hairy is giving "insiders" a mat to save their space and save them bother of joining the rest of the miscreants to set up on Thursday.

Rumor had it that a very nice facility in an area of Milwaukee 99% nicer (and safer) than the current location was going to be the spot for this trial in 2010.  We heard that crating was more abundant there, etc.

But, if you are an "insider" you do want things changed.  "Better" is unimportant.  The key to having power is ensuring that change does not occur.  When they announced that they were staying at the current location, with the nasty crating set-up scheme, some of the "insiders" having a questionable public disposition cheered.  Unbeknownst to the majority of the people in the crowd (at the "briefing") they were unaware of the power struggle or that decisions were made in favor of a few instead of the majority.  Such is how things work, right?  Honestly, look at our governments, from city to state to Federal levels.  They operate the same way.

The last nail in the coffin of irritation was when we left at the end of the 4 days, one club member made her annoyance over the 4 days felt to our group.  We kept a crock pot (similar to the year before) on a small table, out of the way (and with club permission) for a variety of lunch meals for the gang during that time.  The woman in charge of the ribbons' table was annoyed by that crock pot from the very beginning and successfully lobbied so that we all knew, on Sunday, we were not welcome to bring it back next year.  I wish I was Italian as the fingers flung under my chin at Joanne would have more meaning.

It left a bitter taste in my mouth (as well as others). One person suggested we find an alternative.  Well, Cedar Rapids, IA has a 3-day show in a horse arena.  One woman showed at Hounds on Thursday and then journeyed to "CR" for the rest.

The trouble is, from Chicago, Hounds is 93 miles.  Cedar Rapids is 250 miles.  We almost always fight weather during this event.  We had the "blizzard" condition winds returning home this year, however, the Milwaukee to Chicago corridor was almost completely unaffected.  But journeying across farmland to compete in "CR", however familiar to my Hawkeye soul, is no picnic in the winter.

We will see what we do next year and weather the sting and the memory fades.  Hopefully some of the powers that be who do not act like snotty "insiders" give everyone a fair shake to save crate space on Wednesday night.

Regarding the competition itself, I'll start out with Robbie.  Robbie came into Hounds needing 38 points to get his MACH2.  That would be a tall task, even on a 4-day trial.  Prior to leaving, he visited his "Sports Medicine Vet" Dr. Cahill for a chiropractic adjustment on top of his acupuncture.  It worked like a charm.  He was spry and eager to go.  He ran very well all four days, netting 28 points out of the 38 he needs.  We have 10 points to go, which he can nab in one standard run (provided the judge's wheel is not overly snug).

Ghilley made her debut in Novice JWW.  I came into the trial not expecting too much or not sure what to expect as her weave poles were just freshly minted with the 2x2 method.

Well, each day I got a beautiful sit (and stay) at the line with her looking to the jump prior to release.  She definitely had a bit of the sniffies and at one point, on Friday, discovered the bar setter and went visit.  That was following a very horrible crossing move from me.

On Saturday, Ghilley netted her first JWW qualifying score!  We had one refusal as she came in on a jump (baby dog move) but she finished her weaves, albeit after a couple tries.

My only regret was that I have video of all four of her runs but on Saturday the All Fours gang vanished like ghosts in the night prior to my run leaving me with one unfortunate fellow who was too distracted to get her run on tape.  So, I have 3 out of 4 runs on tape where the only one not taped is her Q.  :-(

But I was very pleased with both of my doggy kids over the long weekend.

Our next competition is over New Year's where Robbie will be the solo star.  Ghilley came into season during a painful 4-day conformation show series and while she can show in conformation, she cannot show in anything else while in heat.