Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mingo-almost 9 months old

I can't believe my little man has gotten so big!  Standstorm Gone Fishin', aka Mingo, has really made an impact on our lives

For starters, look at that face?

Seriously, did you get a good look at those eyes?

How about now?  Do you not see the intelligence and the mischief in those big brown eyes?  

He loves to retrieve--and catch

And just be goofy

But no matter how goofy he is...

He still has a stunning profile.  Love this boy!  I can't wait to see how far we can go.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gardening and Country Life

I had no idea when we moved to our 7 acres in the country that I would become one of "those" people.  Who are "those" people?  The ones who have massive gardens, save scraps for their chickens, and can fresh fruits and veggies until their pantries runneth over.  Alas, I have succumbed to that lifestyle.  Okay, I will admit, I even enjoy it.  We got the chickens in February, and they are really fun to watch.  No, they don't do tricks (but only because I haven't trained them to), but just their every day habits.  Yes, Gene has gotten attached to them as well, finding, capturing, and feeding them grasshoppers.  The girls go NUTS over them!  What I have really enjoyed is watching Eggroll take the bugs or other treats, kill it, and give it to one of the girls.  He's such a good boy!

Sometimes the girls will approach on their own.  

The garden is huge!  We planted green beans, purple hull peas, squash, zucchini, okra, cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, roma tomatoes, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, pablano peppers, chili peppers, jalapeno peppers, corn, canteloupe, potatoes, carrots, black berries, dill, rosemary, thyme, parsley and mint.  Did I mention our garden was huge?

Unfortunately, the green beans didn't do too well.  The purple hull peas did well, and we got enough for 1 dinner.  The okra, LOVES us.  It has produced a plethora of pods.  Peppers are doing well, also and the tomatoes are drowning us.  The corn has produced well---once we managed to chase off the birds that ate the first planting.  Oops.  The herbs haven't done too well, so we are planning on something different next year.  The squash has produced pretty well, but not the zucchini.  We definitely have learned a lot from this first year, and we did get some produce to show for it!

We have 14 jars of salsa, 6 jars of tomatoes, and 9 jars of peaches.  (Of course, the peaches didn't come from our garden...this year.)  

Now, off to make some zucchini bread!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Photography Break

After all of the heavy agility etiquette talk, I thought it was time to just sit back and relax with some photography.  Enjoy!

Gene and Hemi took 1st place in the 24" jump height class at Canine's for the Cure Cancer Shoot out in 2012.  Can they repeat in 2013?  Stay tuned to find out!

Boo's first swimming lesson.  Thanks, Krista, for helping my Boo like the water.

A true haunted house?  Could be!


Love this old sign in Wichita Falls.  For some reason, I imagine Norman Bates as the owner!


Mingo is named after the band, Mingo Fishtrap, which is named for this intersection.

Eggroll--handsome dude!

Caterpiller--creepy and aggressive.  But, this guy transforms into the beautiful swallowtail butterfly!

Reflections of the pool

Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Agility Etiquette III. How we treat others

When watching fellow competitors, I often find myself thinking "Oh, if only she had turned harder."  Or "That was so her own fault, she didn't cue the tunnel."  It is much easier to prop ourselves on the bleachers and sit in judgement of other handlers.  What we sometimes forget is that there are many different levels of competitors in agility, and everyone has their own set of goals.  Some competitors compete for the glory of the win, some enjoy hanging out their fellow dog people, and some just want to keep an aging dog happy and getting exercise.

It can be instinct to want to "help" another handler by telling them what they did wrong and how they can fix it.  Just because it wasn't the performance we, as spectators, expect from our own dogs, doesn't mean it wasn't a huge victory for the team on the field.  Hemi didn't do the dogwalk and teeter in competition for almost 2 years.  He had MACH points before he had a single novice standard leg.  Hemi doing a contact was cause for a huge celebration, Q or no Q.  Isn't that what agility is supposed to be about?

As Hershey aged, she didn't have the oomph to do long courses at full height.  We were lucky enough to be competing in ASCA where she was able to play in an FEO status (For Exhibition Only, or in her case, For Entertainment Only).  My goal for Hershey at that time, was just for her to have fun.  We eventually dropped the bars to 4", and I enjoyed watching my girl's pep as she took a few jumps then went over the schmooze the judge.  Our goal was met each and every time we stepped to the line.

Because of my past experiences with Hershey and Hemi, and trying to get motivation from Boo, I have made a point to approach those with "not so stellar" runs with something positive.  Seeing the same handlers each week, it is apparent what their problem areas are.  I try to find a positive for their run and put that bug in their ear, especially a green handler.

Approaching someone right after their run with a laundry list of mistakes comes across as an attempt to tear them down.  Why not take a moment to build up a fellow competitor?  When I do, it puts me in a better frame of mind for my own run.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Agility Etiquette- Part II. The Walk Through

One of the most stressful parts of any agility trial is the walk-through.  The dreaded 20" walk through where 40 people... with their arms out  and headphones in...are walking around in circles like a drunk frat party at a playground.  The running of the bulls, if you will.

It never fails, if there is a particular spot on the course where a jump has 2 or 3 cones, there is going to be trouble.  Handlers trying to walk will hit this spot several times during their walk through, and it becomes a games of handler chicken.  This problem is only compounded when 2 or more handlers gather to discuss handling options.  Inevitably, the discussion takes place right in the handler's path and this creates a scene similar to the annual salmon trek upstream to lay their eggs and die.  Hopefully there are no deaths at the end of this run, but there is much bumping and bouncing off of one another.    When dissecting the tricky part of course, might I suggest that the discussion be taken off to the side.  What is even more distressing is when this discussion isn't about the course at all, but about Suzie's new fluorescent yellow shoes, or why Tammy got whistled off the JWW course, or guess who has a border collie now.  Keeping the path clear for all competitors makes everyone's walk through more productive.

We all know we have to check-in at the gate before we leave.  At some of the shows, the gate sheets don't get put up until well into the walk through, and then the gate steward and scribe begin calling out for people to check in to make sure everything is in order.  I don't like to waste my walking time checking in, and I don't like the distraction of people calling my name while walking.  I have taken a personal pledge.  I know the show secretaries in the area and how they work.  For this reason, I will make a concerted effort to find and post the running order for the classes I'm in before the walk through begins.  If one person from each class would do this, the running orders would be posted in plenty of time for the handlers to check in before their walk through.

I have been to a few shows with some of "those" handlers.  The "upper class" of our sport.  I have worked the gate at regional and team competitions, and noticed a trend that I find bothersome.  Many of those upper class handlers simply will not check in their own dogs.  It is as if they expect the person at the gate to a.) know who they are and b.) know that they plan on running one or all of their dogs entered and c.) are running all dogs as listed on the running order.  Often, the person working the gate for the excellent/elite/masters dogs is a novice handler who may not know who you are.  It only takes a second to check in, and if we as handlers make it our job to help make sure the gate sheets get posted, it will be a task that doesn't interfere with our walk time.

On the opposite end of those who don't check in, are the "pen hoarders".  These are the handlers running several dogs in the same class and they stand guard at the board, pen in hand, trying to mark off all of their dogs on the running order.  People who hover at the gate board do nothing but cause a back up.  There are usually running orders posted elsewhere in the arena.  Why not check out this running order, and get an idea of the best place to move the dogs being run.  By having an idea of where the dogs need to be moved to, then the time it takes to move the dogs around on the gate sheets can be done quickly and efficiently.  Everyone wants to get checked in so they can begin their warm up routine with their own dogs.

Taking a little responsibility to help the show run smoother is something we should all look at.  The more effort the handlers make to expedite the show, the sooner we all get out of there!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Agility Etiquette, part I. Considerate Crating

At a recent agility trial, I looked around at my fellow competitors and realized that many of us have lost the spirit of agility for the sake of winning.  I remember being in Novice A, it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  When I would step up to the line with Hershey, I never knew what to expect.  Being new to the sport, I relied on those around me to be role models on how to act.  Many of today's competitors are not the role models we want our future competitors to mold themselves from.  Maybe a refresher course on agility etiquette could help.

Our local agility trials tend to fill, which  means a lot of dogs entered.  It is common for competitors to bring their older, retired dogs to the show because they can't be left alone at home.  It is also common practice to bring the "up and coming" pup to the shows in order to get used to the hustle, bustle and noise of a show environment.  This increases the number of dogs at any one show.  The trials and the entries are getting bigger, but the show sites are not so crating space is at a premium.  With a little thought and cooperation, crating space can be used effectively without any pain.

One of the best ways to save crating space is by stacking crates.  This isn't the best option for the larger dogs, but small dog crates can easily be stacked.  What is even better is to stack the small crates on top of big crates.  when I see a row of cocker spaniel crates lining the wall, I just shake my head at the wasted space.

Another space sucker I see at show sites is chairs and tables.  The main arena where this is a problem has wonderful concrete crating space....behind bleachers.  The answer here is so easy it sounds redundant. There is more than enough seating for everyone in the arena.  There is also space to crate directly behind some of the seats in the back row.  Leave the chairs at home and use the bleacher seats.  The space saved could give a novice handler a chance at finding a crating space.  If tables must be used, use them to stack your small crates on, or put it over your large crates.  What's even better is not use a traditional table, but a piece of plywood or plastic cut to fit the tops of the crates.

My last comment on crating space involves crate aggression.  I was at a show recently where my dog was crated upstairs and the rings were downstairs.  I was unable to find a way to get Boo from his crate upstairs to the ring downstairs without at least one dog or set of crates lunging, snarling, and trying to eat him. For some reason, these dogs always seem to be in large numbers in the highest traffic areas of a show site.  Surprisingly, the handlers seem to never be around.  (Probably because they don't like to listen to all the barking.)  Nothing unnerves a dog (and handler) more than to have a soft sided crate come flying across the room at you.  I think we forget that a dog walking down the aisle can't see inside these soft sided crates.  We often don't know if the crate is occupied or not until it lunges.  Dogs that walk past crates that are so dynamically charges can suffer from that anxiety when they get to the ring, if not as part of their normal life.  If a dog has serious crate aggression issues, perhaps a quieter and more protected crating spot should be chosen.  The high-level trainers I find who subject their dogs to this are a prime example of someone who should know better.  These dogs are being self-rewarded.  The equation is simple.  Dog sees animal approach it doesn't like.  Dog barks.  Animal goes away.  Dog is successful is chasing animal off.  Dogs don't understand that the dog is not leaving because they barked, they simply feel empowered.  "I am dog, hear me roar!"  There are many options to make a dog feel more secure at a show site; covering the dog with a sheet, moving the crate to a quieter spot, or crating out of a vehicle are a few good ones that come to mind and are successful.

Agility should be fun for humans and dogs, and the choice of crating space is paramount to having fun.  The right crating space, and an unobstructed path to the rings, can set the mood for the entire trial, and perhaps increase the possibility of a Q or QQ.  By thinking about our crating choices on our fellow competitors goes a long way to making it a better trial for everyone.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Photography play

I have been spending much of my extra time practicing my photography skills.  Here's some of my favorites!

Gene has been bottling some of his own wine- and this is his Riesling Ice Wine.  Yum!


A water tower near the house.  Loved the clouds that day.

We have a haunted house at the corner.  It provides a plethora of photography options!

See?  I told you Boo could swim!

Wild flowers surround the house!  Lovely!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Duck, Duck, Chicken?

Yes, we now have chickens!  See?

Meet Eggroll- our rooster.  Yes, we named our rooster Eggroll.

Even Mingo was shocked, see?

We had intended to get only 5 chickens and a rooster.  But, the breeder said if we bought 6, we got a free rooster.  So, with 6 you get........................


Friday, June 7, 2013

Christmas in June?

No, don't go check your calendars, we haven't moved Christmas up (or down, depending on how you look at it.)  In my quest to catch up on my posts, I have had to travel back in time a wee bit.  

Introducing:  "Sandstorm Gone Fishin' ", aka Mingo.

But, wait!  If you know the Sandstorm poodles, and you know me, you're shaking your head right now.  Your brain is split between the fact that Sandstorm ONLY breeds white poodles, and they also ONLY breed minis!  So, who is that cute little devil sitting under the tree?  Surely he is not a Sandstorm poodle, right?  

Yes, he is a Sandstorm poodle.  The first black breeding in Sandstorm history.  He is also a mini.  So, what am I doing with a mini?  Traveling with 4 standards poodles was, how shall we say, cumbersome.  And since I refuse to invest in a bus to travel with my dogs and gear, I had to make a change.  And, since I'm not willing to spend the next 4-5 years NOT showing in agility because my agility dog is older, and I'm not willing to rehome him, there was only one other option.  Downsize!  

 Now, downsizing isn't really the ONLY reason I sought out his incredibly cuteness.  If you watch the agility poodles in my area, the minis in the area from Sandstorm are smokin awesome!  I found one in particular that I fell in love with.  I had threatened on many occasions to steal him, dye him black, and call him George.  However, there were so many flaws with my plan that I was forced to abandon it for other, more practical options.

Enter Mingo- the cutest poodle puppy on the planet!  Seriously?  If that picture doesn't melt your heart then, well, you're just evil.  Period.  There is no hope for you!  This little guy has wormed his way into the hearts of our family and no one is complaining!

Do I have an agility dog or what?  Tom Bridge of FastClicks photography was nice enough to come to our agility class and snap some photos.  Look at my little guy go!  He is only about 3 or 4 months on in this photo, and I love the focus I am already getting from him.  Thanks, Tom!

There will be so many adventures with my new little man, and I can't wait to share out successes with you!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A new start

Our homeless adventure ended after 19 short days.  We found a beautiful house on 7 acres, and it has a POOL!

I didn't waste in time covering the dull yellowish color with a splash of color of my own--the spare bathroom

Did I mention it has a POOL????????  Yep, one of those things we have always wanted, and finally have.  Boo has learned to swim, and I love that he is able to get that much-needed no-impact exercise.

Many adventures await us here, I can tell!