Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weavin' Machines

I started Teller on weaves two weeks ago. I decided he was physically mature enough to start them and now that it's finally spring here in Vermont (I hope so anyway) I can nail the weaves into the ground so that they don't move around as he moves through them - somehow I thought he might be one of "those" dogs that really move and groove through the poles. This has proven to be the case to some small extent - he's still learning so he's not hitting them with his shoulders all the time, but I see that with confidence he's going to need them bolted to the ground {giggle}.

My routine the last few mornings is to feed the dogs, get myself dressed and showered then head out to the yard to work weaves - half a stick of cheese worth for each dog in the weaves and another in stays: Murphy does a sit-stay while Teller works weaves and then Teller "honors" while Murphy weaves. This has done two things - it makes it a whole lot more convenient for me to work stays with good distractions and it's made Murphy's weaves better - he's moving faster and I can push him - I haven't been able to push him in the weaves before and that's consistantly been a problem in competition. I can't wait to see if this holds up when we go to Southern Berkshire in a few weeks.

We went up to Ruthie's today to play agility - it was Teller's first time working agility anywhere other than my backyard and inside at Waggles, I wasn't really sure what to expect - I should never doubt Teller. There was a minimal amount of sniffing (lots of wildlife there including a weasel observed on the other side of the pond {gasp}) and some pretty good smells. He never left me and he stayed in the game. Mentally he's got about 5 minutes of really good work and then he's "done" and I've got to watch him for those signs. Another really fantastic tid-bit from today is that Teller saw 12 poles for the first time today and did them all on the first try - I know it shouldn't work like that - but today it did! Teller also saw a full height dog-walk for the first time too and again - it just wasn't an issue.

Murphy worked well but suffered a bit more from the "we're outside and there's good smells, oh my god I've got to play" syndrome, but they were shorter than last year and far less dramatic. For Murphy this is progress.

The boys came home and had a 30 minute swim - well over 70 degrees today here - and have spent a good portion of the afternoon sacked out in a semi-conscious drool state (even Teller), though they do both still get up to accompany me to the restroom - so helpful!

Here's the newest youtube video, I call it "Summer Weavin'" - get it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The pool is OPEN!!!

As always click on the pics for a bigger image.

Warning: the pictures that follow depict two VERY HAPPY golden retrievers. If you are easily offended by really happy dogs I suggest you close your browser right now.

The pool - just waiting for some canine fun!
Murphy (briefly) pauses before jumping in for the first time - I swear of dogs could smile...

Murph and the bumper.

Teller jumps in (no pause).

Hey Murph, want help with that bumper? Let me help you.

Teller (top) with the bumper and Murph with the Water Wubba.

Murph and the Wubba

Teller and the bumper...

Now Murph has "the stick"

Teller likes that bumper!

But he'll give the Wubba a try too...

Murphy the sea monster....be afraid...

Murph and the stick.

Post swimmie ZOOOOOOOMIES!

Teller in the lead!


Pulllllleeeeeaaazzzzzzzzeeeeee? Can we have more swimmies? Pretty please? What if we look REALLY pathetic? Murphy (left) and Teller (right)

The new pool is installed!

I woke up Christmas morning of 2007 and noticed my yard was flooded - too much ice in the bottom of the pool to know why - but it was pretty clear that the old pool liner - who had been so faithful for so many years had finally "had it". When spring came and the damage (and I mean damage) became apparent the bottom of the liner was just shredded in so many places - it wasn't just ugly - it was bad.

So I placed some calls around town and had a couple of folks come out and look at the pool and give me an estimate for replacing the liner. No dice, there was rust on the inside of the pool wall that weakened the sides for one and if the walls were to give way the liner would burst at that place too and everything in the pool would be sucked out a jagged metal hole. No thanks, I'd prefer not to be mangled while swimming - if only because I'd be really embarassed to have the ambulance come "save" me in my bathing suit (gasp). Plus I'd be paranoid about the dogs in the pool and we all know that they have intrinsic value above my own self-worth. In other words the dogs come first and they really enjoy their daily swimmies. It turns out that the original pool was about 20-25 years old - probably the original liner. I've lived there almost 10 years and the dogs and I have beaten that liner to death and defineatly gotten use out of it.

So I priced a few vendors around here - most of them were really pricey and/or tried to sell me something bigger and better than I had originally had - but I wasn't (and I'm not) going to replace my deck this year too - baby steps to avoid bankruptcy and that means one thing at a time and already this spring we've already replaced the fridge ($$$), had a sick cat ($$$$), had our property taxes nearly double ($$$$), owed income tax ($$$) after we'd already planned and entered quite a few spring shows ($$$$). So baby steps to solvency.

I don't often plug businesses here, but on a whim I called Avalon pools in Milton and spoke with Pam (one of the owners) - I'd never been there before as it's out of my way and I generally go a little bit closer to home for my chemicals. Well not only did Pam price what I asked for and not try to upsell something I didn't need or want, she gave me a great deal on a pool kit and liner (and I love the new liner) and they install their own pools. All of the other guys use contractors to install their pools and then take a cut from the referrals. If I'm going to use a contractor to install the pool I might as well just buy a really cheap kit off the internet and be done with it. Long story short I went with the Avalon pool and it's awesome - it's gorgeous, the install team took down the old pool stacked it neatly where I asked them to put it, they were polite and helpful while they put up the pool, they did a fantastic install job, left me all the pieces and I didn't have to hunt for anything - and went above and beyond to prepare a "shelf" for my wedding cake stairs (the dog stairs) so that they sit properly on the bottom without needing to be propped up on sand bags like the way they were installed before. So if anyone out in blog land needs a pool, call Avalon in Milton - good folks!

The new pool - 1/3 full and filling....



Check out the new liner:


And the pool steps...finally sitting flat on the bottom of the pool:

Monday, May 05, 2008

TMAC 2008

Despite the fact that we haven't had the chance to play agility outside Murphy managed to pull off three good runs last weekend at the TMAC spring show in Westfield.

The open standard course was gorgeous on Saturday morning - I wish we had actually been able to run it (giggle). It had rained all night but the ground was pretty firm, it was chilly about 50 Murphy got to the startline and quivered - uh-oh - this is good - or it's REALLY bad. Well it was really bad! Murph took the first jump and proceeded to PARTY! Party like he'd just been released from a winter's stay in prison - ZOOM! Then he hit the one patch where there was fresh sand and it must have felt WONDERFUL on his toes because he tucked his tail and SPUN around in the wet dirt...I called him once to come back and he blissfully ignored me so I pulled him and fed his meatball to Teller (that did NOT make Murphy happy). I did take comfort in seeing a lot of open and even excellent dogs having happy feet on their first run too - and it was the first time outside for a lot of dogs that weekend.

The Open JWW course on Saturday was equally flowing, we had a blip or two and ran the course without any R's but we were 8 seconds over time which in open is the kiss of death - we could have swallowed 7 seconds and Q'd but that last second made all the difference...We came out of the ring partying thinking it was our OAJ title but it was not to be.

Sunday's standard course had some traps which we avoided (how about that) but Murphy would not get up on the table (reminds me a little bit of the Shel Silverstein poem (see below).

Sunday's jumpers was a mess - I didn't get where I needed to be in time to get out of Murphy's way so I ended up taking some strange lines that I really didn't want to take...net result we had two R's (both my fault) but managed to make time (go figure).

What I was really pleased about is that 3 out of 4 runs Murphy played with me, worked with me and genuinely enjoyed himself doing so (though I have NO Doubt that he enjoyed his "fraps" on Saturday morning as well). Weaves and entries have haunted us for a while now - when Murphy has to slow down he starts to think, and when he thinks he worries. So what would happen is he'd miss his entry because he was worried, he'd come back to start again usually get his weaves and despite any amount of cheerleading I did he'd pop out/give up and then melt down if I asked him to weave again. SO....at our last trial in the fall if he didn't get his entry we didn't go back. I let him weave wrong, I'd let him pop out and then just move on. No Q's but he was happier and more confident. This winter we worked a ton of weaves, weave-entries, he always got paid for his weaves. It paid off for the BOTC trial in April and it paid off at TMAC - and what I'm really pleased with is that he's getting his entries and he's getting faster and more confident. Sure, it's REALLY hard not to bring him back and fix it when it's the only R so far on course...but...it's in his best interest that I don't mess with him. Plus - it's working!


Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would not take the garbage out!
Shel Silverstein, 1974

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!


Teller is on a roll (hold the mustard)

Teller did it again! Teller picked up another three points at the "Club Canin Rive-Sud de Montreal" show in Iberville, QC under the expert guidance of Emily Burdon. Teller showed well all weekend - I'm so pleased that he's coming into his own and having a good time out there in the ring.

Teller moving out with Emily Burdon:


Teller with handler Emily Burdon: