Crop Circles – Mystery Solved!

You’ve heard of crop circles, right? Those circular shapes that mysteriously spring up in fields throughout the world?

Lately, I was finding a bunch of little mini-crop circles right here in my own yard!

Then one day I caught the circle-maker in the act! Guess what they are?

They’re CAT BEDS! Mystery solved.

For All Moms of Four Legged Kids

In human terms, they have the abilities of a toddler, yet among their own kind, they’re adults in their own right.


Some of them sass back to you just like teenagers!


Sometimes the love and understanding flow easily in both directions.


Other times, the relationship is more complicated…


They may delight you with their boldness and joie de vivre.

Or they may be shy and require lots of nurturing.

Jayda as a puppy

You live in the shadow of knowing that they will probably cross over the bridge before you… And that most people won’t understand when you don’t “get over it” in a day or so.

Sally - 4 or 5 weeks old

Yet you wouldn’t trade the joy of those 13-or-so years for the world!

Happy Mothers Day to all my fellow FOUR LEGGED Moms!!!

Happy 7th, Jayda

A very happy birthday to my Big Princess!

Jayda - 7 yrs old

(Posing is not Jayda’s favorite thing – can you tell?)

Ode to 2010

2010, I’m gonna miss you – as years go, you were a good one.

I don’t say that to every year. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve said that in recent memory. Maybe around 1998 or so – isn’t that pathetic?

Oh sure, you had your bad points – there was all the wacky weather and that little business of a 70′ spruce tree in the potty area, but at least no one got hurt. As a matter of fact, everyone here stayed relatively healthy – no catastrophic vet bills for a change (except for Kacey’s $800 ultrasound, which showed that there was basically nothing wrong with her.) The indoor head count actually increased. Sadly, we did say goodbye to a few old friends – I really wish you could have skipped that part. But for once, no plagues of locusts or flying squirrels, and business was pretty good (especially 4th quarter). And it was a good year for agility – heck, a GREAT year, if you go by swag like ribbons and titles.

So I took this picture of your last sunrise to remember you by. See? You even made a nice sunrise for me!

Here’s a recap of this memorable year!

January: Started off inauspiciously with a nasty case of food poisoning, however things quickly took a turn for the better. January 18 – after a year of chemo, Bryce is officially declared to be in clinical remission! January 20 – Bryce’s PT clears him to run agility after his back injury. Jan 24 – Bryce earns his CPE C-ATCH!

February: Hat shows up injured and I bring him inside to a new life as a housecat. Kit goes missing the same week and presumably met some sad end. Poor Kit – you hissed at me the first time you saw me every single day, but underneath you were just a big softie who liked to have a full tummy and stretch out on your blanket in the sun. Miss you, buddy.

March: Crazy weather! Huge trees snapping like twigs! No power for days! Giant spruce breaks and falls, just missing the house. I play amateur lumberjack and cut branches with a pruning saw so I have some place to potty the dogs!

April: Did some agility. Jayda turned 6. Kacey turned 14 and made friends with Hat. She’s such a “cougar.”

May: More agility. Jayda moves up to Excellent JWW and Q’s her very first time! Jayda – NADAC Novice Triple Superior award!

June: With one of her friends gone and the other living in the house, Cassie starts to make friends with Jayda and Raven. Then she starts rubbing up against my ankles and letting me pet her! More agility, and a sudden and sad goodbye to Bryce’s litter brother, Grady :(.

July: Bryce, still in remission, celebrates his 12th birthday! Kacey goes through one of her weird digestive ailments. Fluids, bloodwork, ultrasound – turn up absolutely nothing and she eventually starts eating again and acting like nothing happened. Thinking he only needs about 80 points, I decide to try for Bryce’s 1000 Lifetime Points Award in NADAC. More crazy weather (torrential rain) the end of the month.

August: Trashed my lower back. More agility, more rain. I realize I miscounted and Bryce really needs about 180 pts for that lifetime award. Decided to go for it anyway.

September: Raven turns 3, grows a Big Girl Brain and gets some NADAC and CPE titles. Bryce goes 6 for 6 at a NADAC trial. I strain a quad the 2nd front cross of the first run of a CPE trial … and somehow manage to make it through the rest of the weekend! Jayda – CH-CL! Jayda and I briefly lose our “mojo” and spend the next 6 weeks with intermittent weave and timing issues. Weird weather continues … this time, with a tornado watch!

October: Jayda has a couple of spectacular runs and a couple of spectacular meltdowns. Jayda AJP! Raven’s first AKC title (NAJ)! Bryce almost chokes himself on an apple core. We all have a really “off” day at a Halloween NADAC trial. A sad goodbye to Jayda’s little half-sister – we only knew her from the internet, but she looked so much like my Jayda, right down to her mannerisms.

November: Roof finally fixed! Bryce aces another NADAC trial for 3 titles and his 1000 lifetime points! CPE trial – C-ATCH Jayda, Bryce Ch-JU, Raven – CL3-F! Bryce’s bloodwork still good! I go to my (mumble mumble)th reunion.

December: Raven gets her NF at our Novice Only AKC trial. We have a 100% weekend (16 runs, 16Q’s) in CPE! Raven CL3-R! Final weird weather episode of the year dumps about 2 feet of snow on us the day after Christmas.

So 2010, here’s to you – you’re gonna be a tough act to follow!

A little of this, a little of that

Feather2First, I think I ruffled a few feathers with my last post! Wasn’t intentional – while the post was triggered by some comments on another blog, it was essentially just general venting, not aimed at anyone in particular. I participate in all venues that are within my “travel radius” and I am quick to clear up misconceptions I hear about any of them, whether they come from an “AKC person” or a “USDAA person” or a “NADAC person” or anyone else. BUT, at least in my area, there is some definite “dissing” of certain venues and a sentiment on the part of SOME people that only those which produce team members for international events are worthy of notice and anything else … well, your titles may as well have come out of a Cracker Jack box! I was on the receiving end of a couple of snide comments at an AKC trial this past weekend from someone I’ve known for years. I laughed them off, but seriously – it gets old after a while!

In the last 3 weekends we’ve done NADAC, CPE and AKC trials. I’ve realized that one of the things I LIKE about doing multiple venues is the versatility which it demands from both dog and handler. I love the challenge of running my dogs in flat out, full extension, “pedal to the metal” NADAC one weekend and attacking a technical Excellent JWW course the next. For me, it’s a rush to succeed at both :).

(The down side of “cross-trialing” is it takes longer finish advanced titles in any of them – there are only so many weekends in a year and only so many dollars in a checkbook.)

If you were to ask my dogs, Bryce likes NADAC best these days. That’s because they let him run at 8″, and even though we don’t do contacts any more, there are still 4 different games he can play! OK, so he doesn’t LOVE Hoopers (he’s “old school” and doesn’t think hoops are real obstacles) but still, he’ll even take that any day over sitting it out in the car. Retirement isn’t his “thing” – once a workaholic, always a workaholic.

Jayda likes CPE best, but that’s probably more the trial sites than the organization itself. A lot of them around here are quiet and secluded – just her style. Jayda finished her ChCL (Colors Championship – 15 total Q’s at Level 5) the other weekend.

Raven likes everything. She’s been bringing her “big girl brain” into the ring more often than not as of late, and putting in some really nice runs. We still have issues to address, excessive handler-focus being one of them, but she’s a little pistol and a blast to run :)!

Agility Venue Bashing

I’ve been playing this game for quite a while now (since 1994 – yikes!) and one of the things that’s always annoyed me is agility venue bashing or “neener, neener – my venue’s better than yours.”

AKC, USDAA, NADAC, CPE … I’ve done well in all of them through the years, and I’m game for trying anything new that comes along. When you “cross train” a lot, the first thing you learn is that every venue is different and they all have their pros and cons. Believe me, I can be a world-class whiner and could come up with a pretty good list of gripes about any of them! But to label one “better” than another? Or even more ridiculous, assume that the teams that participate in a particular venue are less skilled than those who compete primarily in another?

I spend a lot of entry fees in two venues that seem to bear the brunt of this attitude: NADAC and CPE. Heck – even NADAC people turn up their noses at CPE :)! Why do I participate in them?

When I started out with my girls, those were absolutely the right venues for us at the time. NADAC’s open courses and smooth flow gave Jayda the confidence and speed she so badly needed. “Sloppy handling” is a common accusation from non-NADAC participants, but I have to say that if anything, NADAC forces me to be very conscious of my handling – a bobble or a spin or even an inefficient line can so easily put you over time (even with a “fast” dog!)

CPE is awesome for babydogs – being able to do short courses like Fullhouse and Colors is a fabulous middle step to decreasing reinforcement density in a genuine trial atmosphere. Both venues are also very accomodating for semi-retired veteran dogs – my old guy has plenty of games he can still enjoy SAFELY in both venues.

Last Spring I went from weeks of nothing but CPE and NADAC to a 3 day AKC trial where Jayda qualified all 3 days in jww – 2x 1st place in Open and again the next day as a move-up on a pretty tight/technical Excellent course – one of only 3 “A” dogs to qualify. Damn, those out-of-control NADAC dogs and their sloppy handlers :).

ARE there teams running in NADAC who lack the necessary control for other venues? Yes. ARE there teams in CPE who “get by” with gawdawful handling and a lot of luck? Of course there are. But each venue brings it’s own particular “flavor” to the table and if you look at them with an open mind and a POSITIVE ATTITUDE, you’ll realize that each one offers something unique that can enhance you and your dog’s teamwork and skills.

At the end of the day it’s the relationship with your dog and how you perform as a team that matters, right? So please don’t assume my dogs and I are “less-than” because I choose to play in a different venue!