Monday, January 28, 2008

Agility Trial Pictures

Be patient, lots 'o pics!

For anyone interested - Novice Standard Preferred Saturday SCT, 81 seconds, Mikey's time - 47.16. Novice Jumpers with Weaves Preferred Saturday SCT, 47 seconds, Mikey's time - 24. Novice Jumpers with Weaves Preferred Sunday SCT 53 seconds, Mikey's time - 25.47.

Meg got a 95 and fourth place in Jumpers and a 90 and fourth place in Standard on Saturday and two eliminations on Sunday.

Mikey says 'Woof, woof!'

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One More Q!

Novice Jumpers with Weaves - 100 points, 25.47 seconds, SECOND PLACE!

Novice Standard - Ooops! Tired boy knocked a pole on the first jump.

More pictures tomorrow.
Oh doG! I can barely move this morning. Rheumatoid really is a dirty word.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Q and Q

Novice Jumpers with Weaves - 100 points (out of 100), 24.0 seconds, FIRST PLACE!!

Novice Standard - 100 points, 47.16 seconds, FIRST PLACE!!

GOOD BOY!!!!! YOU 'DA MAN!!!!!

I are tired! To bed!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Goof Strikes Again

I've got to tell you another silly Mikey story. This evening we went out for a short walk on the bayou (short because it's cold and wet and sloppy). My busy little guys are constantly sniffing, and occasionally try to roll in. . . whatever. Needless to say, I try to prevent the rolling as much as possible, because although most of the time they are rolling on a tiny little dead bug (seriously), sometimes they actually find something stinky and disgusting to roll in. So this evening, Mikey starts to roll on something, and I said 'Eee eee' or however you spell that noise we all make that means 'no'. Mikey's eyes got really big, and you could tell he was trying to stop, but Mikey's head was already on it's way down to the ground, and all the momentum was going forward, and when he tried to stop, he kind of lost his balance, and. . . tipped over, on his face, in the mud. I thought I was going to hurt something inside, I was laughing so hard!

The face of innocence.
Also, the weather. It has been nasty here this week. Low 40's for high temps with rain. And if it's not actually raining, it's misting. Just WET. But, the forecast for the weekend was looking good. As in 70's and partly cloudy. Pretty good weather for our agility trial. As of tonight, the forecast for the weekend is 60 on Saturday and 69 on Sunday, cloudy with a chance of rain. Bleh! (And yes, I know that everybody that lives north of here is saying, 'Hey! That's nice weather!')

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Agility Play!

My dad and I (and Mikey and Holly and Meg) went over to the facility I train at on Sunday. Which is a very good thing as the forecast for the entire week is rain, rain, and more rain, so I don't think either of us will be going to class this week. The jumpers course we ran is the same one shown on my previous post on January 15 (since it was still set up). The standard course we ran is below. I think we're in pretty good shape for the trial next weekend, although Meg was having a hard time focusing (it was her first time at that arena) and Mikey is still not dependable on the weaves.

After we finished with Meg and Mikey, Holly and I ran around and played with the tunnels and dog walk. I'm still fighting feeling very sorry for her that she can't run agility anymore (and still fighting some resentment about the blase attitude about hip dysplasia in some of the Cardigan community). Anyway, after I played with Holly for a while, we let all three dogs run loose in the arena for while and they had a blast chasing each other around.

Currently reading 'Lasher' by Anne Rice.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


For some reason, Mikey often reminds me of the old, stereotypical surfer dude. Especially when he's having an awesome time, like at agility class, I can't help but to look at him and say 'Duuuuuude!'

So, here was our course from last night. I'm having a really bad RA flare, and really had no business going to class, but went anyway. I figured I would hurt either way, but at least I would be having fun. Predictably, Mikey was great on everything but the weaves. Actually, the first time we ran the course, he nailed the weaves! Of course, I had just stepped on his toes right before we got to the weave poles; maybe I should try this every time? Just kidding, seriously! The second time we ran the course we had to restart the weave poles like 8 times. After talking to my dad today, though, I feel a little bit better. The place I'm going for classes does very little AKC agility, so the weave poles are the full, Masters level, 24 poles. Their 'competition' class has a mix of people from me and Mikey's level, all the way up to people competing at the Masters level. As my dad reminded me, a full 24 poles is a lot to ask of a novice level dog, and Mikey usually looses it in the last few poles; it's just hard for him to concentrate that long at his stage. And in a competition setting, we're only looking at 6-8 poles, which Mikey (usually) doesn't have a problem with.

I've got to get a picture after I groom Holly and Mikey next time. Since I groom them in sections, I end up with all these balls of different colors of undercoat. White from their ruffs, light tanish-grey from Holly, dark grey from Mikey's sides, and black from his topline. It's really pretty.

As a side note, I have some questions for all of you that have merles, and this may apply to tris too. When I got both Holly and Mikey, their nails were all still white, and both had almost entirely white left ears. By the time Holly was around seven month old, several toe nails had turned a brownish black, lots more color had shown up on her left ear, and a gold colored 'fairy kiss' was visible next to her nose. And that was it, no noticeable changes since then. Well, it seems like Mikey is still changing, at three years old! It's only been in the last five months or so that two of his nails have slowly turned black (and no, it's not bruising). And I've noticed recently that the black freckles he has over his nose are more visible in certain lighting than they used to be, although the hairs are still white. Plus, I've always wondered if he carries a mask. He has a smuttiness around his mouth in the points area (his points go directly into his blaze on the sides, see pic below, which is slightly distorted because I cropped it so much so you could see the area around his lips) and I've wondered if this is a black mask, diluted to look smutty due to merling. Anyway, as his greys have deepened as he has aged, I've noticed that the smuttiness is more pronounced. Anyway, just as a curiosity, I was wondering if any of you with merles have noticed these kinds of late changes in their markings, and how many years more of an ever changing Mikey can I expect?

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Fox News Report

I never talk about work on my blog, mostly because there are a lot of things about work that I'm pretty unhappy with (of course, that's true for most of us, isn't it?); I prefer to just leave it all behind when I walk our the doors at the end of the day (at least as much as possible). But, since I talked about the Fox news report on my company in my last post, and promised to post a link after the report went on-line, here it is. There's about a two second view of me at my computer right at the very end of the report.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

All the Stuff I Forgot

Last week turned out to be much busier than I realized at the time, so here's a brief overview of all the (semi) dog related stuff I forgot to mention.

First, obviously I'm not at an agility trial today. After waiting and waiting to get some kind of confirmation of my entry, I finally sent an e-mail to the trial secretary on Monday. She called me back Monday night to say that she had never received my entry!?! DoG only knows what happened. . . I do have confirmation of my entry for the trial the weekend of Jan. 26, so I guess that will be our first trial. My dad and Meg are also entered in that trial.

Next, for the few locals that read my blog, a non-dog related item. The Fox co-anchor for the 9 p.m. news here in Houston was at our company on Wednesday (and was there late, so I missed agility class last week). She interviewed our CEO and a film crew came around filming several of us working. Our company's blood serum diagnostic test for the early detection of breast cancer will be highlighted on a segment scheduled for the 9 p.m. news on Monday, January 14th. I expect that the segment will be available on-line after the telecast, and I'll try to get a link to it here. On the other hand, we had a similar segment on the local ABC channel about our work with Parkinson's disease, and I sooo did not enjoy seeing myself on TV! I guess you would have to have a pretty high opinion of yourself (or be nearly perfect), not to cringe at how you look on camera.

Lastly, I have resigned from the Board of Directors for the Bluebonnet club. I have been agonizing over this for a while. When I originally agreed to join the board a little over a year and a half ago, I did not have full blown rheumatoid arthritis, and was really excited about the prospect of being a voice for the pet/performance Cardigan owner. I have missed more board meetings than I am comfortable with in the past year, and was going to miss another one this past Monday as I was still pretty low with the sinus infection/bronchitis that came after my flu over the holidays. I really had intended to serve through the end of my term in November of this year. Although a meeting of the board every couple of months doesn't seem like much of a commitment, at the end of the work day I'm more often than not pretty wiped out, and these meetings inevitably ended up on days that I was feeling pretty crummy. With most every other 'commitment' I have (other than work) bowing out is always an option if I'm hurting a lot and feeling exhausted. Obviously, work has to come before everything else, because how else could I pay for all those lovely, more expensive than 14K gold, prescriptions?

And additionally, as time went on, I came to realize that this is really a club for breeders, with little to no interest (outside of myself) in the perspective of pet or performance owners. To be perfectly honest, I felt like I wasn't making a real contribution to the club, and I have become pretty disillusioned with the breed ring in general, and which I may or may not blog about at a later date.

Between my guilt every time I missed a meeting, and an overall feeling that I was never going to make any kind of difference by serving on the board, I felt that resigning was the best option for me. I sent a very polite e-mail to all the members of the board, citing only that I didn't feel like I could continue to make a contribution due to my health problems. I realize that some may have been a bit miffed that I resigned with almost another year left to serve, and that now they will have to hunt someone down mid-term; but ya' know, I felt like I had a personal relationship with a least a few of them and only one person on the entire board responded to my e-mail AT ALL!?!

Currently reading, 'The Witching Hour' by Anne Rice.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Woof, Woof!

If you have read my blog more than once, you know that I really love my dogs, and I really enjoy sharing my life and my home with them, and you know that they are really pretty well behaved (most of the time). But that doesn't mean that they don't occasionally bug the ever luvin' sh!t out of me! I will admit that this usually has more to do with my attitude than their behavior. But. . .

We all know Cardigans are not exactly 'quiet' dogs. Most herding breeds aren't, right? And Holly and Mikey almost always pipe down immediately when I say 'Quiet'. And if your dogs actually shut up when you say 'Quiet', you're five steps ahead of most dog owners, and that's great! So what's the big deal, right? Geez, I don't know; maybe when you have to say it three hundred thousand times a day? Sometimes I feel like the Quiet Police. And I start to wish I lived out in the middle of Antarctica, where they could just bark their heads off without bothering the neighbors.

Really puppies, I don't need a full, five alarm, alert warning every time a leaf falls off a tree! Seriously! And Mikey, as much as I love your enthusiasm for life and realize that you get excited easily, please don't bark in my ear when I'm putting your leash and collar on to go for 'walkies'.

Although, I've got to admitt your 'arrooooo' with your pink ball in your mouth is pretty darn cute, even if I do keep teasing you to stop 'talking with your mouth full'. . .

Monday, January 7, 2008

Birthday Boy

Wow, Mikey is three years old today! Hard to believe, as it seems like it was just a few months ago I brought a tiny little blue fellow, just bursting with joie de vivre, into my home and into my heart.

So, what did Mikey get to do for his birthday? After work we went out to the bayou, even though it was misting pretty heavily, and I played ball with him for a while (Mikey said, 'Oh boy! My Favorite!') and then he had a dinner, including a little bit of left over brisket (Mikey said, 'Oh boy! My Favorite!') and after I had my dinner, I shoved the dining table to the side of the room and set up some old weave poles and we practiced weaves (Holly too) (Mikey said, 'Oh boy! My Favorite!') and then Mikey and Holly got a new toy each (see below) and we played with those for a while and then I got 'pink ball' and threw it down the hallway for a while (and Mikey said, you guessed it, 'Oh boy! My Favorite!'). Altogether, I think Mikey had a five star evening.

I truly have never known a dog that is so consistently thrilled with life! Every morning is Christmas morning for Mikey and everything he does he does with as much excitement as if it was the first time. I'm so glad that I am sharing my life with him.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi' and Mikey says, 'My Birthday! Oh boy! My Favorite!!!'

And here's a couple of my favorite pictures of baby Mikey.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Good Bye Christmas

I love putting up all the Christmas decorations, but taking everything down and putting it all away is just plain work! And it always leaves me a little sad; Christmas is over until next year. . .

One last goofy Christmas picture. . .

Friday, January 4, 2008

Parading In The Rain

Actually 'Parading in the Rain' is a song by Chalee Tessison, and it's one of my current favorites. 2008 is NOT getting off to a good start. I'm hoping that I'm just getting all (or at least some) of the nastiness out of the way early in the year.

I went back to the doctor today. I had taken my last antibiotic on Tuesday and felt really pretty good on Wednesday and then woke up with a wee little headache on Thursday morning, which progressed to a crushing sinus headache and very stuffy sinuses by the end of the day. So I am now re-armed with a stronger antibiotic and a prescription decongestant. And I'm determined to take my Enbrel injection sometime this weekend, as I had to skip my injection last weekend (since it suppresses your immune system, it can be dangerous to take it if you're sick) and slowly over the last few days I've started to have more joint pain.

And I just sent an e-mail to the trial secretary letting her know that Holly and I will be no-shows tomorrow. I've known her for several years and she helped me out when I realized that my snail mail entry might not make it to her address by the closing date, so I felt like a owed her a heads up.


Anyway, to get back to the general topic of the New Year, and things I would like to do with the new year.

For Mikey, of course, I really, really, REALLY want to finish him this year. Neither Mikey nor I enjoy getting all dudded up, although we do generally enjoy being in the ring. It's just all the unpleasantness of getting ready that has become a real frustration, for both of us. Mikey seemed to have tremendous momentum his first year of showing, and then for the past year the judges just hardly ever seemed to look at him. He's not perfect, but Hello! he went Best of Winners at the Bluebonnet Specialty the year before last, and Winners Dog for a 5 point major at the supported entry his first weekend out at six months and two weeks old, so he's got at least some merit. Honestly, showing him in the breed ring was originally something to do with him while he trained up for agility/obedience. Plus, I promised his breeder. But, I'm not going to give up when he only needs one more bloody point.

On the agility front, I'm just going to see how it plays out this year. Mikey is entered in his first agility trial next weekend (standard, preferred and jumpers with weaves, preferred) and I feel pretty confident about everything but his weaves. He's still popping out pretty regularly. Go here to see a video of a great little Cardigan doing great weaves; that's my mental image for my goal with Mikey's weaves.

Obedience with Mikey? Ummmm. We're working on it. Maybe we'll be ready for Novice Rally-O in time for the Reliant cluster.

Now for Holly I have some more concrete goals. I've got to get her out of the house for obedience training. She's is doing great here in the living room, but she really, really needs to work more often with distraction. We'll continue to work toward her Rally Advanced title, and I would really like to have her ready for Novice Obedience in time for the Reliant cluster in July. The hard part about having her ready for regular obedience, as opposed to rally-o, is that I can't verbally reinforce her in obedience. That's going to take some work.

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Looking Back, Going Forward

This is the traditional time of year to look back at the year that was, and look forward and plan for the year to come. I have to admit I'm not sad to see the back of 2007. I really do normally make a conscious effort not to spend to much time looking back; I guess I think that too much time dwelling on the past is a good way to drown the present.

2007 was the year of my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, Holly's diagnosis of hip dysplasia and Mikey? Well, he only got one more measly point (is that boy ever going to finish?). And I've spent a fortune this year on both dental care and prescriptions. Finances have been a constant worry that nagged in the back of my mind all year, starting in February with literally thousands spent on dental care (with one tooth that still needs additional work and has been in a temporary crown since February of last year) and then mid-way through the year the addition of Enbrel and other medications, to the tune of ~$380 per month.

I guess it's not entirely surprising that I'm feeling a bit negative, as the year has ended on a particularly low note; sick as can be, and missing my trip to the river, and spending entirely too much time without (human) company as I have just been too sick to get out at all.

So, what are my big plans for 2008? If January is any indication, this will be the year of the dog. January 5 Holly is entered in an obedience trial (Rally Advanced and Novice Wildcard, just the one day), January 12 & 13 Mikey is entered in his first agility trial, and then January 26 & 27 Mikey is entered in another agility trial. I'm really hoping this year will be filled with lots of dog related fun and lots of fun dog related people.

And, the Enbrel does seem to be worth it's ridiculous cost; I've been feeling better the past few weeks than I have in a couple of years, which has made everything from work to agility to just everyday life a lot easier, and occasionally, a lot more fun. And my company is planning on changing insurance companies (although they are taking their bloody time making up their minds), so I can hope that my overall costs for my prescriptions will come down (oh please, please, please. . .).

Happy New Year to everybody!

Currently reading 'The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise' by Carolly Erickson

Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.

From the river trip last year.