Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrating LEAP day....

We all know that Kipling can leap:

Teller has been known to LEAP:

Even Murphy leaps:

But...only Kippie can BOUNCE!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday at the Barn - February 28th, 2012

Short sessions all around tonight - mostly contact reps for Teller (side loads), but a bit of reinforcement on the weaves too..Here's what I setup for my BIG dog (adv) student tonight.
BIG dog sequence
 And for the baby dawgs - a bit of side loads on the dogwalk and a-frame, a couple of teeters and the rest was all skill building. Rear and front crosses, then a couple of lead out pivots..
Baby-dog sequences

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Middlesex County Kennel Club - February 25-26, 2012

How Kipling spent the power outage....
Teller's weekend at the MCKC trial - one more QQ with a 19 point standard run and an 11 point JWW run on Saturday. Total mis-communication at the end of our Sunday standard run and finished up strongly with JWW Sunday afternoon - which was significantly LATER than expected due to a 2 hour power outage at the trial site. All was well though, just a longer day!!

QQ Portrait

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

The Audible Publisher's Summary:
In the summer of 1942, 21 year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiance, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world--until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses--of life, and of love--that have haunted her for 70 years.

Here's where I have to admit some guilt and some regret. Ms Jio (also author of one of my favorite novels of 2011: The Violets of March) sent me an advance readers' copy of The Bungalow back in August of last year. The Bungalow was released in hardback on December 26th (2011), yet it wasn't until Audible FINALLY secured rights to the audiobook (roughly 5 emails to customer service later 'where is Bungalow, where is Bungalow, etc) that I was able to jump into and finish the novel. Sitting down and reading is so hard for me these days between my real job, oncall associated with the real job, teaching, training my own dogs and now getting that 30-60 minutes in on the treadmill (tonight I ran my first sub-13 minute mile since I hurt my knee in 2000, go me!). Audiobooks fulfill my need to read with convenient take it anywhere (mostly while I'm driving) content. It's a win-win fir busy gals like me - except for when novels don't come out via the Audible service when I want to read them!

Anyhow, back to The Bungalow! The novel is essentially told in two parts: The first part as now 91 year old Anne is compelled to tell her Grand-daughter about her time in the pacific as a military nurse - we follow 21 year old Anne - youth and love in an era of war. The second part of the novel is present day as Anne returns to the island of her youth to set some things right and to settle the past.

There is so much to love about this novel - the sadness of what might have been and the promise of young Anne's future. Yet Anne (and those who orbit around her) don't wallow for a moment in the what 'could have beens'. I was drawn to Anne - to her story and to the future I wanted her to have. A tough fiesty lady still living at 91 years of age - in a sense she reminded me of my own grandmother packing off to take a trip someplace new - why not? The result was an engaging story with characters I quickly became deeply invested in. What ever happened to Westry? And Kitty?

The Bungalow is a love story - every moment without turning into a derivative trashy novel. A love story for the sophisticated literary pallet and escapism at it's best. At the end (and no spoilers here) I found myself at my destination with tears in my eyes - a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend several hours in the car and on the treadmill (yes, this novel was also engaging enough to get me through my intervals on the treadmill).

Narration of The Bungalow was by Gin Hammond - who voiced a perfect Anne. I am anxiously awaiting Ms Jio's next novel "BlackBerry Winter" with a release date sometime in 2012 (you know after she gets done with the book tour and publicity for The Bungalow).

The Bungalow was written by Sarah Jio and published by "Listen & Live Audio" with a release date of January 24th, 2012. The hardback version of The Bungalow was released on December 26th, 2011. The Bungalow has a runtime of 8 hours and 21 minutes.

BTW: Sarah Jio's The Bungalow is the first of my 2012 spread the love series. I have purchased three copies of the novel to distribute to three lucky friends with instructions to keep passing the books along to someone new once they finish them!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday at the Barn - February 21st, 2012

Good session for both boys tonight (and a night off teaching for me!) Teller's session in light circles and Kippie's in the dark circles.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: Codex by Lev Grossman

The Audible Publisher's Summary:
About to depart on his first vacation in years, Edward Wozny, a hotshot young investment banker, is sent to help one of his firm's most important and mysterious clients. His task is to search their library stacks for a precious medieval codex, a treasure kept sealed away for many years and for many reasons. Enlisting the help of passionate medievalist Margaret Napier, Edward is determined to solve the mystery of the codex-to understand its significance to his wealthy clients, and to decipher the seeming parallels between the legend of the codex and an obsessive role-playing computer game that has absorbed him in the dark hours of the night.
The chilling resolution brings together the medieval and the modern aspects of the plot in a twist worthy of earning comparisons to novels by William Gibson and Dan Brown, not to mention those by A. S. Byatt and Umberto Eco. Lev Grossman's Codex is a thriller of the highest order.

Lev Grossman is also the author of The Magician series: The Magicians and The Magician King (both of which I've listened to and reviewed here). Newly released is Mr Grossman's third novel Codex. Codex in this case referring to ancient and medieval books (see Wiki here).

I found Codex to be an enjoyable listen, working through the novel in the course of a long weekend. There's a Dan Brown quality to this story - there are historical references twisted into modern day puzzles: knights of the round table, the rose line, the search for the Holy Grail minus the though lacking the 'sangreal' pedigree. Codex does lack the Brown-esque 'are they going to kill the main character' drama.

The plot itself is interesting even if a bit derivative and the characters are likable enough with a decent amount of depth. I don't think I'd like Edward in real life - the self-adsorbed arrogant nature that he exudes. Margaret the bookish library babe that he naturally expects to fall for him above and beyond her own career. Yes Edward, you are all that and a bag of chips :-)

All that being said, I didn't have any pangs of regret putting the book down for a day or when I arrived at a destination, but it was engaging enough to listen to while I ran my training intervals. The latter is going to be my new book measurement - was it interesting enough to listen to while running intervals on the treadmill (my least favorite thing to do - I'd much rather set one speed and just clip-clop along for 30-45 or 60 minutes).

A new classic? I doubt it. A book to movie plot? Absolutely - I can totally see Codex coming to a theatre near you staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Emma Watson (as Margaret).

Codex was written by Lev Grossman and published by Random House Audio. Codex is narrated by Jeff Harding. Codex has a runtime of 11 hours 10 minutes and an audible release date of 02/07/2012.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tri-State Shetland Sheepdog CLub - February 17-19, 2012

A quick recap from the weekend - 6 decent runs, 5 silly mistakes. Teller ran well, got all of his contacts - but we just didn't hold it all together for a bag full of Q's this weekend. All is well, the courses as a whole were quite nice to run, Teller feels good physically (he got a massage on Friday and she said everything felt really good), he's running well...

In unrelated news Kipling is solidly in 'Nothing in Life is Free" mode for the next week or so...he's turned into an adolescent turd-head this week...manners? What manners? Oh yes Kippie, your world is about to change.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Driving a Ferrari...

A friend of mine handed me the keys (leash) to a Ferrari - one which I ran like "I stole it". The Ferrari in this case is an amazing border collie - Ali, SpeedKat, Ali-Kat - AK - 'Holy Cow'. All I can say is what a total rush. The speed of this dog is mind-blowing, there was no pressure on us to Q in this standard run - JUST RUN! And we did - We Q'ed, we won the very competitive 16" Excellent B class and added 27 MACH points to Ali's curriculum vitae (as you can see - points aren't really her issue!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday at the Barn - February 14th, 2012

Quiet night at the barn tonight, just one private lesson and then I worked my two boys. We're back to spring-like weather again here in Vermont. I can't explain it, but I won't complain!

And for Kippie:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Romp and Wrestle - February 10th, 2012

Another 'springtime' winter afternoon, but with high temps in the low teens for the weekend I HAD to take advantage of today's dwindling light and 40 degrees.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

From the Barn - February 9th 2012

No fancy sequences tonight - just some contact work for both boys and some weave work for Teller....Murphy (not to be left out) benefited from a solo walk tonight after my treadmill session (3.5 miles plus .75 miles).

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Possibility increases Probability

I remember when I first started playing the agility game (7 years ago now with Murphy) I watched so many excellent B dogs and excellent B handlers with amazement. I saw consistency,  those team made mistakes but they were so minor - run after run those dogs nailed weave entries and contacts. I saw finished teams and I saw competitors who were superstars inside and outside of the agility ring. They were admirable competitors and they were just good people.  That spirit of good sportsmanship is something I try very hard to maintain for myself and foster in others and it's one of the things I love most about this sport.

To that end, I often stick around to watch the novice handlers, the struggling in open handlers and the excellent A handlers. If I'm sitting ringside watching I clap for every run - if I'm sitting near the out gate I almost always will tell the handlers "Nice Job", "Nice Try", "That was great!", "That was awesome", "You guys rock" - because I know that in some cosmic universe the roles are now reversed. I'm the seasoned competitor with lots of experience, most people know that I'm an instructor and in their perception I've been doing this 'forever'. 
Cheeseburgers seem to help probability too :-)

There's a point here - truly. This past weekend I sought out a competitor who has over the last 6 months or so moved up from Novice A to Open to Excellent A - her dog is running beautifully, but a bit inconsistently in Excellent with the new questions asked of dogs and handlers on excellent courses. I noticed they had two beautiful runs that day (two Q's!)  and I congratulated her on her double-Q. She blushed and said "it's our first double Q, but it's not a real double Q, we're still in A so it doesn't count".

My reply to her? "Of COURSE it counts!!!" And there's my point: Sometimes knowing something is possible increases the probability that it can (and will) happen again. The achievement of a double-Q is the same in A as it is in B. So she needs to earn a couple more A legs before she can start collecting MACH points - but the achievement is the same, two clean fault-free runs in the same days. Two NAILED weave entries, approximately 30 jump bars that weren't knocked, three yellow down-contacts touched, 40 obstacles negotiated and navigated as a team, a hundred distractions ignored and two souls out there running with the same heart.

Agility is so much more than running the course with your dog - there's the training, the relationship, the love of the run and the joy in the game. Remember back to when you first started and your dog sauntered through his first tunnel? That was when the possible became probable. That first time your dog nailed a weave entry with speed - the possible became probable. Your first run at a real-life trial - the possible became probable. That first Q - that first green ribbon when the possible became probable and then probable became reality.

So my message to newbies, to folks that have been out there forever and to folks who maybe are just wondering if they ever could be 'good enough' to play the game: Don't ever forget the milestones along the way that made the theoretically possible a reality. Every step counts, every moment counts - make the most of them and don't ever let anyone (especially yourself) tell you that they don't count. And for the folks that have been around 'forever', remember that your sportsmanship sets the tone of the sport for people who you don't even know - and if you see someone really shining - or struggling step up and offer a pat on the back, a 'nice try', a 'that was a great run' - or a smile. It'll mean a lot.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Book Review: The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck

The Audible Publisher's Summary:

A heartwarming novel from Glenn Beck, the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Christmas Sweater and phenomenally popular radio and television host.
Rachel Price’s one happy memory from her childhood is of playing outside with her father, Mitch, on a cold and snowy day. In that moment he took her hands in his and called her his angel. She felt safe, loved, and protected. Rachel’s mother dies in a car crash a few years later - a sudden and unresolved ending to a complicated relationship. Mitch’s reaction to certain realities surrounding the death pushes Rachel away and confirms her fear that Mitch never truly loved her at all.
Years later, Rachel’s daughter, Lily, is the only light in her dark life. Rachel is consumed by an abusive marriage but too afraid to escape. On Christmas Eve, Rachel’s husband raises a hand to Lily in a moment of aggression that finally snaps Rachel out of her docile state. She realizes immediately that she must protect her daughter in ways her own parents didn’t protect her and remove Lily from the situation. Through the help of an old and dear friend, Rachel has a safe place to go, but first, she must say goodbye to her father.
As the snow falls on this Christmas Eve, Rachel learns that it’s never too late to start over. The Snow Angel is a tale about family, forgiveness, and learning to treasure our memories while allowing ourselves sto move forward.

I don't always agree with Glenn Beck's politics or the way he presents his rhetoric - It's just really not my thing. I'm fiscally and politically conservative but I don't like the idealism that precludes women from making their own choices - and the zealots who want to turn America into an us vs. them society. To be honest I'm even less aligned with the socialist leftwardly leanings, but like I said - politics aside, here was this novel with good reviews on the New York Times Bestseller list and there I was without a book to listen to for a weekend road trip. I ended up downloading several novels (Gregory Maguire's Out of Oz, Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast and Glenn Beck's The Snow Angel).

After deciding that Out of Oz was too dull and slow moving to finish (a decision I regret only because I didn't make that decision until 14+ hours into the novel), I switched up novels and listened to The Snow Angel. I was surprised by the content, by the tender care that Mr. Beck gave to his characters - the depth of the female characters and the rawness of some of the emotion. If I had been handed this novel without a by-line, I do not think I ever would have guessed that Mr. Beck had written it - nor would I have guessed that the novel wasn't written by a woman.

The result was a solid literary offering - interesting, compelling with a solid foot into the realm of chick-lit minus some the shallow self-serving fluff that dominates that genre. If you have a Y chromosome though I'm pretty sure that this novel does not hold much for you listening or reading pleasure.

Narration was split between January LaVoy (as Rachael) and Ron McLarty (as Mitch). Mr. McLarty is well known for his audiobook narration, he's narrated nearly all of David Baldacci's novels - as Mitch there was the perfect amount of 'grit' for a hard-working, well intentioned construction worker who is slowly losing himself to Alzheimer's Disease.

The Snow Angel was written by Glenn Beck and produced by Simon & Schuster Audio, copyright 10/25/2011. The Angel's Game was narrated by January LaVoy and Audible favorite Ron McLarty. The Snow Angel has a runtime of 6 hours 27 minutes.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Tartan Gordon Setter Club - February 4-5, 2012

It's 4:50am and the yellows do not look particularly inspired
to get out of bed to start the day...ah, boys? Boys? Ready?
Well, Teller finished the weekend three for four....My uber dependable Teller Woo hit the weaves at pole two this morning in standard - not sure if I could have fixed the situation with a rear cross at the poles or not - the setup was tunnel-jump-weave and there wasn't a lot of space for me to go and stay out of his way for the entry. He did have great a-frame and dogwalk contacts in today's standard run - which is ALWAYS a good thing!

This afternoon, we came back with a smokin' JWW run to end the weekend! We'll take the QQ and 42 MACH points for the weekend and keep jiggin' on. We're now only 1 QQ and 89 points from qualifying for the 2013 AKC Nationals in Tulsa!

Oh and a P.S. - A friend of mine (who runs a black standard poodle) finished her MACH a couple of weeks ago - Ann and I (with the help of others too) arranged for a special celebratory cake. Here's the finished creation from Mama Cakes in Westfield, MA - How awesome is this cake???? Oh and it tasted JUST as good as it looked!
Pink poodle skirt cake for Debby and Ch MACH Lincoln!
Cake Creation by Mama Cakes

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wednesday at the Barn - February 1st, 2012

I had another private lesson tonight, the student requested emphasis on weave entries and a-frame contacts. This dog is solidly running at the AKC excellent level but with so many repetitions on the weave poles I broke the set into two sets of six, MUCH easier on the dog's body.