Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More Phun with Photography

Please forgive me for posting photos again.  Some bad news here, will post when I new more.  But, for now, please enjoy some more photos.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Phun with Photography

Just some photos to fill the dead space.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reputable Breeders are responsible for Back Yard Breeders

What?  I was just met by the sound of air being sucked into the collective lungs of readers.   Before you get mad, throw something at the computer screen and call me names, just hear me out.

When I was looking for Boo, I wanted a working dog and not just a poodle.  Each time I contacted a breeder, I was met with the same mantra "Poodles can do anything."  Yes, poodles "can" do anything, but they don't all "do" anything.  These lovely people didn't know that I owned a Hershey.  If they had met my girl, their opinions might be different.  I didn't just want a dog that "could" do agility, I wanted a dog who had at least SOME history of working in their lines.  I was truly shocked at what I found when looking.

I was lucky enough, finally, to find Anutta poodles.  Because I had titles on my dogs already, Becky was willing to trust me with one of her lovely dogs.  Enter Boo:

From then on, we had established ourselves in the poodle/agility/obedience world firmly enough that we began to not just make new poodle friends, but poodle contacts.  And, I must say, I love them all DEARLY!  
Unfortunately, my experience isn't even close to being normal.  I have friends who went in search of a poodle, and were met with some of the most outrageous behavior I've ever seen.  One such friend abandoned her attempts at getting a standard poodle and went back to her previous breed of choice.  I was with her when she was pretty much beat down by a poodle breeder/handler.  I felt horrible for her, and yet I was helpless.  The poodle world lost the chance to have our beautiful breed handled in obedience and agility by an excellent trainer.

I have other friends who were met with similar "walls of silence".  Breeders who would barely give them the time of day for one reason or another; either they didn't currently own poodles, had not done agility in several years, or  didn't want to show in the breed ring.   Despite this, I see other breeders who are advertising puppies that are "left over" and looking for a home.  

While I completely understand that a breeder isn't just a broker who deals in the trade of live animals.  I understand that, I do.  However, if I had been met with the resistance some of my friends have received, I would be sitting down pouring over the want ads looking for my next poodle.  And the questionable breeders involved would gladly sell me a puppy---any puppy--just to get their hands on my money.  Score 1 for the puppy mills!

I have mentioned how lucky I was to have been blessed with Boo.  Becky has not only been the breeder of my heart dog, but has become a friend and a mentor.  She is everything I would want in a breeder, concerned with every stage of Boo's life.  Okay shameless plug for Anutta poodles.  I can't help it. Here's her website.  In the interest of playing fair, through Becky, we found Tintlet poodles for Hemi, her website is Here.  Gloria has also exceeded our expectations as far as being a FABULOUS breeder.  And, to complete the circle, Mingo came from Sandstorm miniature poodles, and has become a mentor for us as well as providing the adorable little black fuzzy luvbug mentioned in previous posts.  

All that brings me to my point.  I think it is imperative that responsible breeders take the time to consider the people on the other end of the phone, or e-mail chain, or standing across from them at a breed show.  If someone has gone through the pains of seeking you out, they are (hopefully) concerned enough about the breed that they want to do what is right.  This is a golden opportunity for our reputable breeders to help educate and guide the general public down the right path to dog ownership.  If that person is met with snarkiness and nastiness, the likelihood of them opting for the want-ads goes up.  It's enough to make someone sit down and ask themselves "is it really worth all this?"  For those of us who have made it through the three tiers of super secret puppy procurement testing, we give a resounding YES!  Not everyone has the willpower or the desire to jump through such hoops to get a great dog.  I don't think this makes them a bad pet owner, it just means maybe they are working with a different set of criteria.

Reputable breeders are not the only ones who have criteria for placing their dogs that I feel can be oppressive.  I have a friend who is not allowed to adopt a dog through rescue because she lives in an apartment.  She is an avid agility competitor and her dogs are treated famously.  Why is it that someone who has a fence automatically makes a better pet owner?  Many rescues won't adopt to anyone with an intact dog at home, so reputable breeders are off the list.  If a reputable breeder doesn't have intact dogs, they aren't breeding.  Once again, this is another golden opportunity for rescue organizations to find a new class of wonderful pet owners out there.

So next time you are faced with someone who might not seem to fit into your idea of the perfect pet owner, take a second look.  Ask yourself a couple of questions.  1.)  Why did this person contact me instead of going to the want-ads, or Craig's list, or the pet store.  2.)  What does this dog owner have to offer?  You might be surprised at what you find.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vertically Challenged

I have been asked to be a representative at the CHF/Purina Healthcare conference.  (I hope to bring some great information back, and will definitely share what I've learned with you.)  Since I have worked from home almost exclusively the last ten plus years, my "professional" wardrobe is somewhat lacking.  I mean, pajamas are great for that telephone conference call, and some might think they qualify for a trip to Wal- Mart, but at a canine health conference?  I decided I should seek out an alternative wardrobe.  I know my fellow dog people didn't really want to see this.....

So, off to shopping I go.  And, I figured out something on this most recent shopping trip.  Department stores HATE short people.  They loathe them.  I walked into a certain clothing store, and I find the "petites" department.  It consisted of 2, count them TWO rows of clothes.  In a store of easily 10,000 square feet!  As if that wasn't enough, the price tags were placed at an approximate height of 12 feet.  Um, really?  I witnessed a woman put her young son so he could read the sale sign for her.  

Not only do these department stores hate short people, but evidently clothing manufacturers also think their time could be better spent.  I tried on a pair of so called "petite" capris.  You know those--the pants that are supposed to come to about knee height?

When I tried on this lovely pair of capris--they were neither knee level, or ankle level.  Nope.  On me, capris look suspiciously like I'm trying to wear my young daughter's pants.  It's sad, really.  If they were a little longer, I could just wear them as pants!  Nope, not gonna happen.  

When I manage to find clothes that are truly petite in length, the manufacturers also assume that short=skinny.  I am not skinny, and haven't been for a while.  Yes, I know, I do need to go on a diet and get in better shape, and I am working on it.  However, I must still be fully clothed when I head out into public, so petite clothes that fit would be nice.

The sad part of all this, is that as I wander through life, I realize that I am not alone on the petite side of the world.  I see lots of other vertically challenged persons.  There is a real niche there.  I would love to find a store that was proud to sell petite clothing for skinny and not so skinny women.  Instead, I find myself rolling up the cuffs of blue jeans or buying a larger size and washing in hot water.  So, if you are out there reading this blog, and you are a fashion designer or know one--here's your opportunity to make lots of little people happy.  Just like Willie Wonka! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Today's Writing Prompt

Jake was lying face down on the raft. At first we thought he was sleeping with one hand hanging over grazing the water's edge but then....

Hrmm..where will my twisted mind go?????????  Stay tuned.  I might just post what I come up with tomorrow.  If anyone else is interested in joining in, give it a try!  It's fun!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Picturebook Tuesday

Thought I would take a break from the serious stuff and just post some fun pictures.  Enjoy!

Boat house at Dallas White Rock Lake

The Falls at Dallas White Rock Lake

Through the window of the Boathouse at Dallas White Rock Lake

The neighbor harvesting his corn

The "leftovers" after the harvest

Been dying to play with HDR on a fireturck!


The mowing is NEVER done

Soaking in the sun

Monday, August 5, 2013

They have deep roots.......

Attended a new writing group tonight.  The premise is that everyone looks through the comics and writes down one phrase.  They are tossed into a hat, and then one drawn at random and that's your prompt.  The unused prompts stay in the hat until next time.  "They have deep roots" was our prompt.  This was my (unedited) result.  Enjoy.

     "They have deep roots."  That's what Daddy said when Libby asked about the tree by the creek behind the house.
     "But what kind of tree Daddy?"
A tear spilled over the edge of his eyelid and her turned away, hoping she wouldn't notice.  "I call them Angel trees."  He swiped at his cheeks before turning back to her.  "Angel trees are sent from Heaven to protect us."
     Libby's eyes grew wide as he told her the story.
     "When your Papaw died, Granny put his ashes in a small wooden box and buried the it here."  Her Daddy wouldn't look at her.  He glanced over her shoulder at the back of the house, weathered from years of neglect.  Granny didn't have the money to fix it up. "When Granny woke up the next morning, there was a tree in that spot nearly three feet tall."
     Libby's eyes traveled the path from her Daddy's head to his feet, measuring the height of him.  "Is that tall, Daddy?"
     "For a day old tree it is."  He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.  "These roots grow about four inches every year."
     "Wow!"  Libby nestled closer to her Daddy's warm embrace.  "What is going to happen to it when Granny  moves?:"  Libby knew her grandmother would be leaving this home for another, but didn't understand the concept of a nursing home.
     "I guess it will have to stay behind, punkin."
     Libby got quiet as she considered her Daddy's words.  "What if the new owners cut it down?  Then what?"
     Her Dad pulled her in tighter, almost suffocating her.  "I don't know." The two of them stood, sharing the moment as they listened to the subtle change in ambient sound from cicadas to crickets.
     "Time for dinner, punkin.  Go wash up."  Her Daddy patted her on the behind disguising the gentle push in that direction.

     Every time Libby closed her eyes, she saw an evil man with a chainsaw hacking away at the Angel tree. She awoke to a pillow wet with her tears.  "NO!"  She sat up, determined to do something.
     Dressed in an old pair of jeans with permanent grass stains on the knees, she tiptoed down the stairs. She held her breath as the old wood creaked and moaned against her meager weight.  Granny didn't hear well, so Libby wasn't worried about waking her up, but Daddy was a retired cop, he could be awakened by the slightest disturbance.
     Her shoes sat by the back door, where her Dad's shoes normally stood as a sentry.  Tonight, her shoes were alone.
     Moonlight poured through the window and bathed her in a cool white light.  Her hands trembled as she slid on her shoes and tied the laces the way her Daddy taught her.
     She slid back the deadbolt, no longer in fear of waking her father.  She stepped through the open door and followed the narrow dirt path that wound lazily through the field.
     A faint tapping sound raced through the night to find Libby and pull her forward.  Although the moon provided adequate light to reveal the path, she could have made the trek under no moon; muscle memory would take over and make each step instinctively.
     The tapping grew louder with each step.  Libby felt she should be afraid, but she wasn't.  Yes, her heart was pounding, but not from fear.  She moved faster; wanting to discover the source of the sound before it stopped.  She made the last turn by a large piece of limestone that seemed out of place but was a good spot to sit and think, something Libby did often.
     She stopped at the creek and just stood, staring.  Her father, back to her, was hacking at the trunk of the Angel tree with an ax.  She recognized him, not only by his size, but because of a tattoo on the back of his neck barely visible in the moonlight.
     "Daddy?"  She called out as he pulled the ax back to land the final blow.  "What are you doing?"  The last hit was enough to bring down the Angel tree.
     Her father set the ax down on the ground.  His eyes were huge white disks.
     "They have deep roots."  he said, then picked up a shovel and began to dig around the base of the trunk.       Libby had only seen her father like this when he was drunk.
     "Daddy?"  He didn't respond.
     Libby stood and watched as her father dug deeper and deeper.  He reminded her of one of those zombies in "Dawn of the Dead."  She wasn't supposed to watch movies like that, but sometimes Granny fell asleep while babysitting her.  Even though she knew zombies weren't real, she was scared for the first time since leaving the house.
     "Found it!"  Her father stood up, mud caked his arms and fingers.  "I found it!"  He ran over to L:ibby, tears flowed freely from his eyes.  Zombies don't cry she thought.  "I found it!"  Her father held the object to her; a simple wooden box, locked.  A brass plate on top was engraved with her Papaw's name.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

To Be Or Not To Be (Offended)

It seems that is all I hear any more.  "I'm offended by that language."  "I'm offended when someone says Merry Christmas."  "Your choice of breed offends me."  "I am offended because you don't like kids." "I am offended at your training method." "I am offended because you believe people are innocent until proven guilty."  (Yes, folks, that one actually  happened!) "I am offended by your offense to my comment about  your offense to the comment that offended me."  Seriously, I'm getting dizzy!

Looking for things to be offended by, and being offended in general is just simply exhausting and  I don't know how people do it!  I am waiting for the day when I am told that someone is offended because I am a female.  I think it's time for everyone to take a deep breath, and step away.  Think about why, exactly we are offended by whatever it is that has our knickers in a wad THIS time.  I work very hard to NOT be offended by things others say and do.  I use one litmus test, and I'm going to give you the secret.  It's one word:

I know, but hear me out.  When something bothers me, I try to step back and ask myself "what was the intent of comment, phrase, gesture, etc?"  Most of the time, the intent is a very benign intent.  Something is said that maybe doesn't come out right.  (I suffer from hoof in mouth disease myself).  Sometimes it is an offhanded comment where the humor has more to do with the wording, or the phraseology than the subject matter.  For instance:
Q  "Why was 6 afraid of 7?"
A  "Because 7 ate 9"

The humor isn't about numbers, is about the play on words in regards to the *8*.

When I see a comment or a phrase by someone I know or respect, I have to look at who I know that person to be.  My friends aren't mean spirited angry people, because if they were I wouldn't be friends with them.  So when something is said that hits me as "off", then there is probably a reason.  Either I've misunderstood.  (Yes, that has happened!)  Maybe because of cultural differences, a word means something different to them than it does me.  Perhaps is is simply that their understanding of a situation is different than mine.  (Think politics here!)  I generally find if I step back, take a breath, and consider what was said or done, that I will realize that my friend had no "intent" of offending anyone, and is often horrified at how their comment was received.

I just ask that when something strikes a nerve, do me this favor.  Take a moment to ask yourself what the intent was.  Maybe it will give you a new understanding or appreciation for the matter at hand and could not only broaden your horizons, but could possibly strengthen your relationship with that other person.  

I believe that people are generally good.  Give them the chance to be.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Customer (dis)service

Remember the days when customer service was an important part of any business?  When something went wrong, the company would go out of their way to make things better.  I remember entering the workforce and always hearing "The customer is always right."  At that time, I worked at a fast food joint.  It was drummed in to me that even if the customer was wrong, it was my job to make it right.

What has happened to our society?  It seems that not only are customers disinterested, but also lazy.  It has become cool to blame the customer for even the most egregious of sins committed by the company itself.

In recent years, I have had experiences with companies that just didn't return phone calls.  (Don't they need business?) Companies where employees simply flat out LIE about their products.  My most recent experience was with a non-profit.  It's not a traditional non-profit, such as a charity.  This particular organization is more of a group of individuals that gather together to educate others.

For my dog friends, it is very similar to a dog training club.  For those who don't know, the dog training clubs were started so that individuals had a place to train their own dogs for things such as competitive obedience. It was soon realized that simply exist in and among themselves, there is not enough money to cover the expenses so the organization must branch out.  In the case of the dog training club, it becomes necessary to invite the general public.  The members of the club help train John Q public in the basics--come, sit, stay-- and the influx of money helps pay for wonderful things like new equipment, rent on the building, and hopefully air conditioning.

The end result is that the dog club then must think and function like a business.  It must provide the classes and services that its "customers" (the general public) wants and can use.  When it does so it thrives, when it doesn't it dies. The members will tell you that all they want is a place to train their own dogs!  I understand, I've been there.  But that isn't how it works in the real world.

The particular organization (we'll call it "Group X) is dying a slow and painful death.  The ones in charge have not yet realized how much they rely on those outside the "golden circle" if they wish to survive.  I find this sad, because it's a great organization.  It has lots to offer a community, and my early involvement with them was a wonderful experience.

Unfortunately, there has been a "power shift" at the top.  This change has not had a positive influence on the group.  My recent experiences with Group X has been increasingly frustrating.  The services promised have not been delivered, and Group X is becoming simply a shell with it's name on the outside--a hollow promise to the community.  When things go wrong (which seems to be more and more often these days)- the new person in charge becomes first defensive, and then condescending.  Customer service, to Group X, is non-existent.  I was told "we don't work like that."  And that, Group X, is why you are failing financially.  In order to survive, especially in this economy, you must THINK like a business.  If you continue to run off your customers, you will be left with nothing.  And in the end, it will be the community that loses.