Thursday, October 29, 2009

Farewell Dakota

I received an email from a friend, Maxine, that she had to say goodbye to her sweetheart German Short-haired Pointer, Dakota, on Tuesday.

It is with tremendous sadness that I say goodbye to a terrific dog.  I nabbed a picture of him from about 5 years ago in a gamblers run with the appropriate pose, mouth open and barking.

The first agility classes I took were up in Mundelein with MacDuff.  Dakota and Maxine were part of the class.  They were a great team to watch.

The problem, for Maxine, was that after running in class with MacDuff for awhile, Dakota learned that maybe it was more fun to run and bark like Duff did.  The only trouble was, the bark he chose was falsetto and could bend steel almost like Duff's could.

So, we had the barking duo at any agility trial.

Dakota was a typical boy, dedicated to Mom and very affectionate.  I know I adored seeing him at trials and would always take time out to rub him down with affection.

I started to see him less and less as Dakota was focused more in NADAC agility trials where he could jump 16", instead of 24".  I narrowed my agility towards AKC as NADAC started to change their program too much and too frequently, making it too diverse from the AKC courses I would run.

Regardless, the memories I have of Dakota are cherished and bring a smile to my face every time.

We all know we have only a certain amount of time with our dogs, but are never quite ready to say goodbye.  Hugs to Maxine (and Jim).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Robbie Officially Back in Action

Robbie injured himself on July 13th playing ball in the park on a run out to get it.  After much stress and vet visits, the person he sees for chiropractic adjustments finally narrowed it down to the area around his sacrum.  He definitely pulled muscles but could have also irritated a disc too.

We took agility class (and trials) off, resting him for a minimum of two months.

Robbie actually resumed agility class on October 8th.

We entered our first agility trials since June.  So far, we are set to return to the ring on Thanksgiving weekend.  I can hardly wait to run with him.

He visited Dr. Hansen yesterday and received a clean bill of health.  We are back to him needing a chiropractic adjustment once a quarter, unless something is up that needs more immediate attention.  The most likely situation would be his little sister, Ghilley, causing trouble with him.  But it appears so far, so good right now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Farewell Kira (CH Windsor Wish Upon A Star)

Robbie's breeder, Jan, lost Kira recently.  Kira was 14 years old.  She was a special girl to Jan.  She was also Robbie's mother.

I know with my own MacDuff at 14 years old I feel for my pals who lose their old folks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Otterby Thane of MacDuff or "MacDuff", "Duff", "Duffer"

Happy Birthday MacDuff!

MacDuff celebrates his 14th birthday today, October 21st.  Today also marks the first birthday he celebrates without his buddy, Golly ( We lost the sweet little girl only a few weeks ago and I still cannot believe she is gone.

Happy birthday Golly, at the bridge, playing with your brothers Razzie and Whimsey.

Regarding MacDuff, he is my "old man" now.  I have to say that some of the names I come up with for him are less than complimentary and not so repeatable, now as time has changed him a bit.

These are times when he wants to simply sniff the ground and proceed at a painfully slow pace, 15-feet behind me on a walk.  He is still capable of walking faster.

He is hard of hearing now, but if I change the octave I speak to him in (making my voice higher-pitched), he hears it pretty well.

He has senior moments now and then when it is clear to me he is not sure what to do with himself.  He also has moments when he clearly cannot find a comfortable position to lie down.  The arthritis in his back definitely shows on cold and wet days.

How easy it is for me to forget the days when I brought him home from the Chicago "Christmas Cluster" in December 1995.  The little bundle of 5.6 lbs.  He cuddled up to me and both of us fell in love with each other from that moment.

I could not get enough of playing with the little guy.  He was bold as brass.  Jumping up on top of a crate like a goat at 8 weeks and startling his two Griffie buddies (Razzie and Whimsey).

I remember calling my friends, Fran and Hope, and lamenting that "he'll never be housebroken" when, in fact, he was practically housebroken in 3 weeks time.

I remember also hearing the phrase, "You do not deserve him" because he really was an easy puppy.

Duff was eager to learn and extremely biddable.  He was pretty bullet-proof, able to handle my raised voice and not shrink from it.  His attitude was always, "It's okay Mom, as long as I'm with you and we're having fun."

My family, friends and I took to calling him "Air MacDuff" after "Air Jordan" since he had a pension for leaping from everything.  Duff was about getting airborn and had a "reckless gene" firmly implanted from his doggie mom (Scarlett).

Duff earned his Canine Good Citizen title at 10 months of age and completed his AKC Obedience Companion Dog (CD) title at age 2.
One of our obedience instructors at the dog club I belong to ( suggested giving agility a try.

Duff was an enthusiastic worker in obedience and everything.  But that enthusiasm paled in comparison to his reaction to agility.  He found his sport and I found such joy in working with him at training class.

Our forays into competition could be a little difficult at times.  He was a wild man with a handler that was learning agility at a seemingly slower pace than him.  One big factor that actually helped our handling was the addition of Robbie as an agility dog.  Robbie required more precise handling and cheerleading.  It helped to hone my work with Duff.  The other factor was switching to a phenomenol coach and mentor who really helped me zero in on handling a fast small dog.  Joining the All Fours agility gang ( helped our game.

Suddenly, a Master Agility Championship (MACH) was a possbility, not somthing that my former agility assistants scoffed at.

I still remember that 1st MACH with MacDuff.  We completed his CDX (Open obedience title) earlier that November 2003.  We journeyed up to Minnesota to knock out his MACH and on the first opportunity, we nailed it.
I will never forget that feeling of buzzing in the clouds.  What a thrill that was.  Equally special was Duff's final MACH, his MACH4.  We ran that victory lap with furvor as I knew it would be his last MACH.  The arthritis in his back warranted me moving him to a lower jump height, still playing, but not in the regular program.

Duff is still game.  He still wants a job. But now it is up to me to get creative with him on exactly what job that will be.  Playing in agility, obedience or swimming in his makeshift "pool".

Tonight will be Duff's night.  Robbie and Ghilley may have a little extra crate time while I play with the dude.  My first dude, my sweet baby.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Need to Get a Grip

My agility instructor and friend, Dee, owns Airedale Terriers. She has four of them. Her oldest, Kaleigh, is 9 years old and was bred by Dee out of her spectacular female, Darby. Unfortunately, Darby is not physically with us anymore but must have shown herself, at times, when her offspring are at hunting tests.

Kaleigh is the mother of Dee’s three other girls. Payton is 2, followed by Parteigh and Brillo who are 1 and littermates.

Dee is very active and always has been with her Airedales. She shows them in AKC conformation, obedience and agility. She also showed them in hunting but until July 2009, Airedales could not compete in AKC hunting tests.

That changed in July when they were added to the spaniel upland hunting tests.

Dee hit the ground running with both Kaleigh and Payton, choosing to show them in Senior hunt tests, skipping over Junior since the girls are more advanced. When you skip a level, you need to earn 1 extra leg to get the title. So, instead of needing 4 legs to earn the Senior Hunter title, Kaleigh and Payton will need 5 legs.

Undeterred, Dee set out to compete with both girls and came away with legs on both of them.

Kaleigh earned her Senior Hunter title in September, becoming the first Airedale to net an AKC hunting title.

Dee moved Kaleigh up to Masters and tried her out at a few hunt tests. She was mostly handling this for practice as she was unsure Kaleigh had enough working sessions behind her to pass a Masters’ level test yet.

Dee entered a hunt test on October 18th, Kaleigh in Masters and Payton in Senior, needing only 1 leg to earn her Senior Hunter too.

Well, the thrill hit Dee when Kaleigh passed through to the latter part of the Masters’ test. Kaleigh went on a retrieve in the water after a bird that had been dropped. Just before Dee went to whistle to indicate where she wanted Kaleigh to turn, Kaleigh caught the scent of the bird and made a 90-degree turn to go get it, without direction. She returned with the bird and netted Dee her first AKC Masters leg.

What a thrill! I can imagine how delighted Dee was. She told me it had been a long time since she felt such euphoria. I know the feeling. Duff’s 1st MACH and Robbie’s breed championship had the same feel.

She returned to her RV with Kaleigh and removed her neoprene dog vest. Dee used the vest on Kaleigh to keep her warm. Kaleigh had been stripped so did not have much coat and the vest adds warmth, not buoyancy.

Unfortunately, some people seem to have too much time on their hands. I wish my regular job was so uneventful that I had the energy to raise a ruckus over inconsequential issues. It is beyond my comprehension why some people live for the seemingly sole purpose of raining on someone’s parade.

Perhaps they are so unhappy with their own lives that they must bring that unhappiness to others. One would also think some of it may have to do with envy. After all, the person who netted a Masters’ leg has a breed that some of the spaniel folks still object to. I know from owning terriers that they get a bad rap most of the time.

What happened, you might ask?

Well, Kaleigh wore a neoprene vest to keep the cold off. Apparently, some folks in the peanut gallery watching were critiquing different things but grasped onto the use of a vest as something that should have disqualified Kaleigh from her leg.

Absolutely nothing appears in the rules or any other AKC regulations prohibiting the use of a vest.

Dee first heard that the issue was raised by a club member telling her, right before she went to compete with Payton. She was told that some people have taken up the issue of the use of a vest to the trial committee and want her Masters’ leg taken away.

Dee is pretty unflappable. I am quite amazed at how she can be blown away with news and put it aside, for the moment, to continue with her task at hand.

She went to the Senior hunt briefing and then asked the judge about whether the use of a vest was allowed or not. The judge hemmed and hawed, not committing to an answer but it was clear to Dee that she felt working Payton without the vest would be better.

Apparently, a neoprene vest also substitutes as a floatation device. Please note my heavy sarcasm. It is utter nonsense.

Regardless, Payton competed in Senior and netted her 5th and final leg, becoming only the 2nd Airedale to earn a Senior hunting title in AKC. The first, if you recall, is her mom, Kaleigh.

After all was said and done for the day, the club informed Dee that they could find absolutely nothing in the rules that prohibited the use of a vest. In fact, one member told Dee that her Senior judge (who was being naughty about the use of one) actually used one on his Springer at their last hunt test. What a hypocrite!

One member, I believe the Masters’ judge, gave a little speech at the end of the day, as they are acknowledging all the qualifiers, that basically covered the issue of understanding differences in breeds and those that compete in their tests. He brought up a particular spaniel that was added in years past where the handling was a little different. He mentioned that people took exception and were up in arms about that. He brought up that Airedales are now part of the spaniel tests and that people may see different things, like vests to keep them warm when their coat is stripped. The use of a vest is not illegal, it is just different from what people are used to seeing. It does not make it bad, just different.

The worst part of the ruckus raised was that the main person behind it was actually another Airedale breeder. Of course, hers do not hunt. I guess that means she does not want others to either.

What a shame that such a joyous occasion for someone would have to have the shine taken off it by people with nothing else in their life but to bring others down to the miserable existence they live.

Here is to Dee and everyone else who can manage to stay above their dirty little truffles of life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A month gone by...

I cannot believe a month has gone by with Ghilley already.

Just one month but also one entire month.  I try to shake off questions from family and friends such as, "Is she heeling yet?", "Have you worked on yet?".  My responses seem eerily familiar to the terse interviews of Bears' QB Jake Cutler.

For God's sake, I think, I am in the worst part of my work cycle though know one appears to actually comprehend that. I have two other dogs, both of who are a bit older and need attention. I am by myself. It is just me, almost a single parent but I do not really want to draw that comparison as I know raising a human child is drastically more difficult.

So, I am taking things at a pace I can handle.  We work on the obedience things when I get a chance. One of the best times is the little bit during breakfast and dinner when I can train Ghilley solo. She does know her sits, downs and stands.

The attention work on walks is going to have to wait for the weekends, right now.  Work is too crazy during the week. I am hope at 7pm, need to feed everyone (even me). Want to devote time for a nice long fun walk for Robbie & Ghilley but may slip in a treat now and then.

Duff needs his swim which accounts for about 30-40 time in emptying 20 gallons, refilling to warm of the 75-gallon tank and 8-10 minutes of actual swimming.  Then, take 45 minutes for trying to get a workout planned for me. My diet is non-existant right now. I am no longer losing weight. I am not gaining it, either, but I may face a 3rd week of no progress and I know why. I am eating too much for my limited workout plan.

Add to this a continual nudging, albeit friendly, to get back to obedience classes on Tuesday nights. You know what, it is too much right now. Who am I going to work? I cannot get there early enough to work Ghilley. Frankly, I am completely convinced that "halt-sit" and continuation of all that does nothing but hurt Robbie's sacrum when I have him healed now. Duff loves it but realistically he is like trying to train a Robin to swim the breastroke. Have you seen a Robin swim?  I know I have not.

The other pain, it is absolutely a pain in the neck to load up and contend with three dogs on a weeknight. I can commit to it on Thursdays for agility but really question the reality of doing this on Tuesday nights, too.

All these thoughts lead me to question my sanity, yet again.

Then, I look at the companionship that Ghilley has with both of her brothers. I look at how many smiles she has brought to me face in the past month, amidst a lot of work stress.

It is worth it but I look forward to moving out of puppy phase, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Squeezing in time for obedience

So far, a more realistic week appears to be here (10 hour days).

Got home from work and errands and tried to figure out logistics for the night, to include a workout for me (last week was tough to fit in).

The unexpected rain ruled out a nice long walk.

I continue to feed Ghilley by hand while her brothers eat in their crates.  She has to work for her food and realize it is associated with me.  We are using these opportunities to reinforce "sit", "stand" and finally "down".  I was a little worried that "down" was going to be an issue.  I had started to put my hand on the ground and hold it there a few days ago.  Patience, Betsy, patience.  My pal and agility instructor, Dee, ( confirmed that I should do it that way.  She's popping into a down much quicker now.  I forget how quickly puppies pick up on things and she is a smart girl on top of it too.

She is also realizing that the crate is a good place, too, and we played some more of Susan Garrett's "crate games" prior to my having her there while I worked out.  Ghilley is not conducive to aerobics when she is loose.

Duff also had a good swim last night. He has been a little more difficult with his makeshift pool in not wanting to kick with his hind legs.  The reason I swim him is for conditioning his hind end.  Two years ago, winter was brutally tough on him and he lost all muscletone.  Last year, we had the 75 gallon tub that served as his exercise (pictured below with a bar used only for picture purposes, I hold his life vest during each session).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Refuelling weekend and agility class returns Thursday

After a brutal week at work (70 hours by the time Friday ended), I was able to refuel over the weekend.

Saturday was a bit busy.  Started off with a 9am swim for Duff and Robbie at Splashdog (, followed by acupuncture for both boys as well.

Then, we headed to drop off some things at Golly Gear ( where Ghilley was kidnapped by the owners for some doggie modeling pictures.

Back home we went to drop the kids off and then I headed out to Willowbrook for a pilates session with my older sister, Anne.

Home again, showered, fed the dogs and then off to meet some of my agility buddies for dinner at L'Woods restaurant and dessert at a friend's house afterwards.

Sunday arrives with a vengeance as I step outside at 6am with the dogs to find that it has suddenly turned into winter.  That is a brutal wakeup before a cup of coffee in the morning.  Duff and I share the same opinion, "winter can wait."

I kind of jump right into things on Sunday, bringing things down to my storage locker, pulling out one of the boys' old vari kennels to use for Ghilley now.  She's grown enough that I would like to see her stand without ducking her head.

Everyone gets walked and I suddenly find it is 11am, I am tired from the exhausting week and a busy Saturday.  Both Duff and Robbie look game to settle in for a nap.  Trouble is, that pesky little girl is wired and does not look ready to settle down anytime soon.  We traverse upstairs anyway, and I put Ghilley in her crate with a filled kong.  She would rather be loose but it is clear to me that she is intent on playing and exploring.  If I am going to rest, she needs to be on the bed.  We manage to catch some rest, about an hour and a half.  Good enough to refuel.

Playtime for a bit, lunch and then I am off to make a quick grocery run.  Return, unpack and then plan for a long walk (2 miles).  Prior to the walk, we run into Ghilley's buddy Izzy, a Shih Tsu.  They play about about 30 minutes.

Duff gets packed into my backpack (the stroller is still out of commission) and Robbie & Ghilley lead the way on the walk almost to the Northwestern campus.  We walk up to the point of a park filled with oak trees and busy squirrels.  Ghilley has quickly learned that these little guys are a blast to chase.

We get back and the little girl is still wired.  How soon I forget how tireless puppies seem most of the time.  The boys want to crash, and do just that.  Suddenly, the little bundle of energy plops down by Robbie and soon finds that she cannot keep her eyes open.  She is soon stretched out on her side and fast asleep.

The evening was fairly uneventful.  Everyone had some crate time with marrow bones while I vacuumed and steam-cleaned my area rug.  Then it was outside and back in for Duff's swim.  Robbie and Ghilley are quite alright with the deal.  They get some peanut butter too.

We have no outings planned the rest of the week, but I hope to put in more normal hours (45-50 hours).

We resume agility class this Thursday.  We have been off for 3 weeks while our instructor has been away.  Duff has had some practice.  Robbie has not had formal agility class since he hurt himself in July.  He is definitely primed to return as running over some equipment at my friends' place ( he showed a load of enthusiasm.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Some days you're the boot, other days you're the ass

Yesterday was a really bad day.  Actually, most of the day went along fairly well, albeit full regular work stress.

But things fell apart starting at 4pm when, despite guidance to the contrary, the lousy leadership we have at my company decided that we did too good of a job in revising our 2010 budget and now want us to make it a little less optimistic (below the unofficial targets they gave us).

So, despite the fact that we are working double-time to finalize our 3rd quarter forecast, we have to basically rework almost everything we had been working on all week.

My role in the process is a little further downstream.  I have to wait for some of the detailed cost center adjustments before I can put the finishing touches on the P&L, reload it and then tackle the task of updating all of the Power Point slides for our Senior VP to review over the weekend before he heads to Saudi Arabia.  We have a preliminary review on Tuesday.

Well, I could not tackle much last night, so left work around 7:15pm, after 12 hours in the office, and headed home on wet roads.

I flip the radio on to listen to my favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals play the L.A. Dodgers.  Sounds good so far, they lead 2-1.

By the time I reach home, they have lost the game and now are in a 2-0 whole.  Tough to get out of, though they are capable of it.

So, two nasty strikes on a bleak night.  I arrive home after 8pm, wanting to play with my dogs.  Feeling bad about the long day.  Knowing that Friday will be just as bad with a possibility of working on Sunday and having them hang out in crates in the car for that.

I had gotten into the habit of having Duff and Robbie eat their breakfast and dinner near each other, outside of crates, for years.  Trouble is, Robbie has been on a diet of mostly boiled potatoes to settle his tummy since Monday, so he eats slower.

Ghilley is safe in her crate with her meal, though she wants to be loose.

Well, round 1 taught me that I can no longer be so casual.  Duff usually goes to clean out Robbie's bowl (Robbie always eats faster) after he's done.  Trouble is, Robbie was not finished yet.  Dog fight!  Separated them without blood-letting but Robbie is sporting a sore leg from the power of Duff's jaws.

A little later, Robbie's hanging out in his crate, his favorite place to go if he's wiped out or nervous.  Ghilley was wired, making fun mad puppy dashes and laps around the place.

I decided she may need some play time with me to help take off a little energy.  After a few minutes, she wanted doggie play time.  I was in the kitchen for a brief moment when I heard Ghilley cry out.  She had chosen to pummel Duff and he was giving her a correction.  My only problem, Robbie beat me to Duff.  Another tangle with Ghilley on the sidelines and okay.

All dogs in their crates.  I am now mentally exhausted to go with my physical exhaustion.  I make my final mistake of the night and call a friend.

You know, you should never make a call when the chances are high that you are going to get kicked when you are down.  The advise was firmly and unemotionally delivered.  I needed a little more compassion to start out but my mode of getting it was the wrong one.

The advise is sage and quite right, I am not the clear pack leader here.  That needs to change.  But it has been a butt-kicking week at work and the last thing I needed was another wallop to my head.

This morning started out okay, but Ghilley kind of wondered why she was leashed and attached to my belt.  Robbie is a little too sore to want to play.  When they play, Duff will be attached to me.

Breakfast was all in crates, which my guys like and were fine with.  We just have to figure out the rest as we go.

The schedule this week is highly unusual.

I hope to be home earlier today and Saturday is mostly a doggie day.  I have dinner plans that night but now will have to see if my mood is up for it.

I hope and pray that Sunday will be spent at home and not at work.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Stress and stress relief

I have described how I added Ghilley (somewhat unexpectedly) to my household at a very busy time in my life, at work.

Well, the busy time seems exponential right now given a complete breakdown of organization at work due to a lack of leadership (at the top).

Last week, we should have been adjusting next year's budget which is a lot of busy work.

That did not happen.  Instead it was delayed until this week.  Trouble is, in addition to the full-time aspect of budget changes, we have 3rd quarter close and all of the final reporting that takes place with that.

Both of these tasks are full-time plus work.  I am spending a lot of time on work-related things but know things at home are okay with multiple dogwalk visits.

Still, though, by the time I get home, I am spent.  I need to pull myself up and spend time with the dogs.  They do not know about the workload.  They only know they are happy to see me.

Good thing I find nice long walks relaxing, even with a new puppy who is a little nuts on a walk.

I also need to contend with Duff, who does not enjoy long walks as much but likes to come along.

I have two solutions, a stroller (picture to be included on some future post) which is robust and does fit everyone, if needed.  The second is my backpack shown below in the picture from my Colorado trip two years ago.

Duff does like riding in the backpack.  He sees everything from high up.  Usually, on a long walk, he lets me know when he wants to get down and walk.  Last night, he was content to let Robbie and Ghilley manage the very windy walk the whole way (1.5 miles roundtrip).

Monday, October 05, 2009

Let the teething begin!

Ghilley is regularly on the prowl for anything to chew.  But now, the official game has started.  I went to put papers towels down on the kitchen floor to go under the dogs' water dish.

I had recently mopped and the floor was dry to replace everything.  Upon going to get the water dish from it's temporary location and then bringing it to the kitchen, a little puppy blur went by with a flash of white.  I looked down at the spot to put the bowl and the paper towels were gone.  My impetuous little girl had swiped them within seconds of my putting them down.  She is quick!

I put down new ones, replaced the bowl and went to retrieve the "chew toy" from Ghilley.

I noticed a little blood on one small part of the towel and checked her mouth to see one front tooth is gone.

So, it is now time to introduce the little girl to the wonders of ice cubes.  I placed an ice cube on the floor and pushed it to her.  That was all it took.  What a wonderful little toy for her.  She had a blast biting at it, watching it shoot away and pouncing on it.

The wet frozen wash clothes will be next for supervised chewing with me around.  I may wait until it is time for the molars, though.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Starting to settle in

We had some moments of chaos, mostly related to MacDuff and Robbie on edge with each other.

But things are starting to feel like they belong together.  Feeling more at ease with things.  Still being cautious with the condo-thing but not as paranoid.

Ghilley gave me a scare Sunday morning.  My condo patio (1st floor) is large (size of a driveway that can fit 4 cars) with bushes and flower beds, patio furniture, etc.  It is fully fenced with the immitation wrought-iron material.

Robbie was able to fit through the bars as a puppy so it makes sense that Ghilley can.  Once she figured it out, she has been single-minded with escaping.  Consequently, all trips outside, even on my fenced in patio, are with Ghilley on leash.  Makes it a little more inconvenient but safety is safety.

During many of my trips outside with Ghilley, both Duff & Robbie will still be inside, waiting at the sliding glass door.  Ghilley is always excited to go back inside to them, so I will sometimes unhook her and open the door so she goes in.

I followed that same mode this morning (around 8am).  No sooner had I unclipped her than she decided to make an immediate right turn and beeline for my fence adjacent to my neighbor's patio.  Zoom, she was through the fence before I could grab a tail.  Not to worry, I thought, as I bolted for my gate to hit the sidewalk.  I heard her little body go through more fencing and noticed she was on the sidewalk too, running fast down the sidewalk as I sprinted, calling her name.  Two weeks with me and at age 16 weeks does not guarantee any type of recall right now.  She paused to sniff a bush and I had her by the scruff, pulling her up and in my arms as I walked back home.  I was not angry with her but relieved that the situation did not end up worse.

Proof again of some of the difference with this puppy.  Again, at her age, I had owned Duff & Robbie for 6 weeks by this time.  They are also boys and a little more willing to honor my commands.

We came back inside, I filled up her kong with kibble and calmly crated her so I could get my wits about me.

I pottied both Duff & Robbie, readied my things for a long hike with all three, released Ghilley and we went on about a 4-mile walk, with all three dogs taking turns riding in my heavy-duty stroller (not the toy dog version).

It was a ncie way to exhaust everybody.

Relaxing tonight, surfing channels and currently rewatching the Iowa-Penn State game from last weekend.  Never can get enough of the Hawkeyes!

Have to mentally prepare for a headache of a week at work.  My boss is back from a furlough week and last week, in her absence, budget targets and such were not provided so we'll be doing double-duty tackling budget tasks on top of 3rd quarter close and reporting.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Still cannot believe she is gone

My dear friends, Fran and Hope (, lost their Brussels Griffon, Golly, to kidney failure on September 28th.

Golly was a special girl.  She was born on October 21, 1995, the same day my MacDuff was born.

Those two dogs always shared a special bond with each other.  The picture above shows them holding paws.  We did not pose them that way.

It struck me today just how much I am going to miss this sweet girl.

It's still about the ball, Mom

Robbie still has to figure out that perhaps his game plan has to change a bit.

He is ball obsessed.  It is part of his life and kind of his little security blanket.

The ball comes with us on walks (he'll walk 5 miles with it in his mouth), it is with him on trips outside of home & walks and it is with him when I am home, moving around the condo.

Ghilley has put a little wrinkle into Robbie's ball play.  The first part is she just cannot let him sit, leaning against the wall waiting for me to kick the ball.  She needs to be in his face and bumping him to convince him to play with her.  She is the cutest thing on the planet, right?

I do rescue him sometimes, either distracting Ghilley with play or swapping her up for Mommy hold time.  She is quite a cuddler so it is no real hardship.

Robbie is regularly playing with Ghilley now and it is multiple times a day.  The tough thing for him is that he is 10 years old and is still healing from a sacrum injury in July.  I call a "timeout" every now and then to pull him aside since he has been pushing himself a little too much with her and winds up sore the next day.

She is great for him.  I think they are a nice blend in the pack but it has only been two weeks and we still have a few kinks.

One of those kinks is the old man.  I need to keep Duff out of the way of the play and sometimes he is determined to get in on the fun.  Trouble is, he really does not want puppy teeth on him and if Ghilley knocks him, he corrects her.  If Robbie is nearby, Robbie goes to nail Duff and I have a boy-vs.-boy battle on my hands.  It is a lot of yelling but I have to break it up and it makes me furious with them.  This went down last night (I have watched out for it all along).  Ghilley was bounding around them, barking at them too, obviously agitated.  I had both boys in each hand by the scruff, letting them chill.  I am still amazed I managed to crate Ghilley in the midst of this as she kept wanting to resume play with Robbie.  Not a good time, Roberto was ticked off.

All doggies had crate timeouts while I decompressed from that and work.

Back to normal after it but it serves as a reminder that chemistry takes time.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bordering on obedience

I find myself in the midst of my corporate budget season right now.  A grim time where we arrive to work anywhere from 7am-8am and get frowned at if we leave before 6:30pm each night.  Never mind that you eat lunch at your desk, it is the fact that it is crunch time and everyone is burning through hours.

Added to the chaos is indecisiveness at the corporate level about what type of targets to communicate and it becomes a three-ring circus at work.

I would normally never choose to add anything to my private life that would create more work right now.

However, sometimes you have to roll with things as they come up.

I wanted to add a puppy within the next 9 months but the opportunity to add Ghilley to my household presented itself in mid-September.

I have not regretted it.

It is certainly stressful.  I have added an extra visit with a dog walker to come by twice a day.  I actually might stick with that permanently, especially for my ageing boys.

Amidst the chaos from work, though, can be some regularly scheduled fun activities like dog agility class.  The problem this year, however, is that for the 3 weeks following when I brought Ghilley home, my agility class is cancelled as our instructor competes at the Montgomery trials in PA and then heads West to spend two weeks with her hubby, dogs and their RV.

The impact to me is a great opportunity to utilize class as an opportunity to work with Ghilley beforehand with attention work and such is temporarily on hiatis.

Instead it has fallen a bit to me to try to tackle this at home at night.  I find myself running a bit out of time with dinner, swimming MacDuff in his pool, walking the gang for Robbie's exercise, my own workouts (lost 33 lbs. since April so far) and then playtime for ALL doggies.

Trying to partition out time for each dog seems to be something that is next to impossible during the week.

Last night, my pals with their dog store's training area ( decided that for the next two Wednesday nights, they'll have open training for the agility gang.  It is a place to go to try to work some of the equipment.

I showed up, worked Duff a bit and also Robbie.  Robbie was very enthusiastic about running agility again.  He has been away from all agility since injuring himself on July 13th.

During times when I was not working the boys, I had Ghilley out and we were working on attention, sits and downs.  We also worked a bit on recalls.

My anxiety comes from the fact that it seems we are a long way from anything acceptable as far as attention goes.

Some of it is her age, when I got her and the fact she is a girl.  I do believe she will pose more of a challenge.  I look forward to it but still cannot help but feel I have done her a disservice.

She will learn and has already picked up quite a bit (e.g., Mommy is not a chew toy), but I still feel some angst.