Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mole hunting

Maggie and Addie have grown to be good friends from all the agility shows, road trips, and sharing water buckets. It's a good thing, too, because Addie's mom and I have grown to be good friends from all the same things. Okay, well maybe the drinks we share aren't water, but you get the point.

There is one thing that those dogs like almost as much as agility, and that is mole hunting. Fortunately for them, the field next to the agility trial this weekend was full of moles. Any trip out to potty resulted in quick flicks of the paws and holes big enough to bury even Addie's big muzzle up to the eyeballs. They would both dig their "scent" hole and then stop at the same time and sniff the fresh earth. They would grunt and snort for 20 or 30 seconds, then at the same time, their heads would pop up and they would dig more. And using some doggy communication that was a mystery to us, they would often simultaneously pop out of their snorting hole and quickly switch places, snorting earth in the hole the other had just dug. It was amazing how fast and furious they would work, yet at the same time know exactly what the other one was doing. You could not help but laugh at their antics, with dirt flying and mud stuffed up their nostrils. But at the same time you had to realize that there was something much more primordial in their behavior. We were watching the ancient canines at work, hunting food and communicating through methods we don't understand.
But the digging had to be halted. Not only was the hole getting too big for us to repair by pushing dirt with our feet, but the dogs were getting filthy. Maybe someday we'll find a mole field where the owners don't care and Maggie and Addie can have a mole marathon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What the heck is she doing?

Did you ever get the photos off your camera and think, "I don't remember taking this picture...." Well these pictures are sort of like that. I remember taking pictures this morning- we arrived at the agility show site right as the sun was coming up, and there was thick fog. The sun shining through the fog gave everything an ethereal quality. That alone should have been reason to grab my camera, but honestly I didn't think about having it with me until Carol said, "I'm sure glad you aren't taking pictures of me with these goofy boots!" That was all the motivation I needed and I grabbed for the camera.

So anyway, I remember taking the photos, but I can't remember what it is that Carol was doing as I shot them. I'm sure she has some perfectly sane, logical explanation, but frankly, I'm not all interested in that. I'd rather hear what you think she might be doing. Especially if your explanation is entirely improbably, or extremely funny. So what do you think? Choir practice? The Hokey Pokey? Whatever it is, she is clearly doing it alone, because the dogs are giving her that "you want me to do WHAT?" look.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Photoshop. My coloring book.

I love photoshop. (I think I've mentioned that before). Like some people play computer games, I play with photoshop. But don't let that confuse you into thinking I'm good at it... I'm not. There are real photoshop experts out there who would laugh at what I do. There are entire menus of buttons that I have no idea what they do. But nevertheless, I have fun. Here is a photo of our friends Carol and Addie from this weekend.

It's an okay photo, but there is so much wrong with it. The picture in the background is distracting. It is underexposed to catch Carol's face, and I think there is too much around the outside that isn't important. So, here is the same photo after my playing. Sometimes I go too far... tell me what you think!

Monday, August 17, 2009

POTC Trial

I know I sound like a broken record, but I cannot say enough nice things about Peoria Obedience Training Club trial. That's where we were this past weekend and it was such a nice trial. I know that those of you that follow agility are wondering why we would go to an outdoor trial in August, and I admit, I worried about the heat, but as it turns out, everything went perfectly.

For starters, this is a small and friendly club... things are not super organized like a big trial, but that makes it feel more relaxed... sort of like a fun match. We were able to set our crates ringside, in the shade, right behind our cars, so no major loading-unloading. Add to this that the club members bring food for a big potluck lunch and you couldn't ask for a more enjoyable weekend. The one thing that we still struggle with, though, is finding restaurants with outdooor patios that allow dogs. We've only found a couple in Peoria, so if you know of some, please let us know!

Now, for the REAL reason we loved Peoria this weekend.... Maggie got her 10th Q in Jumpers, bringing home her Masters Agility Jumpers title (MXJ). On Sunday, though, she really smoked, not only bringing home a TRIPLE Q (FAST, Std, and JWW), but getting first place in all three. It doesn't get any better than that.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I love Photoshop

I mentioned the other day that I had gotten this pile of old slides from my cousin, but I didn't mention what terrible condition some of them are in. Some of the slides have changed to be almost totally red- some of them are so bad that I can't even tell if they were once in color, or only black and white. But as I get a few minutes here and there I have been sticking them into Photoshop, rotating or flipping as necessary and trying to adjust the color as much as possible. Here is an example of one that was done using the "auto color" button:

This isn't a shocking transformation, but pretty good for a 30 second edit.

Here is another example. Granted, the colors aren't perfect, but you have to admit that it is significantly better. Who would think that those color signatures would still be there in a scanned copy of an old slide.

Now if I can find the "auto slimming" button, I'll be happy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Can you have nostalgia about things you can't remember? Hmmmm, I'll have to think about that. Later. With a beer. But in the meanwhile, I wanted to share a few more photos from Denver before I switch back to dog stuff.

Here is a photo of our house from around 1956 or so... Jim was born in '53, and this kid looks about 3. Anyway, we moved from this house a few months after I was born, so I don't remember anything about it. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to drive by and see it during my recent trip to Denver.

Now, I guess I could have taken a better picture of it, but the neighborhood is a little sketchy, plus I was imagining what would happen if someone saw a stranger taking photos of their house. So I stayed in the car and shot it during a low speed drive by. I'm such a chicken. Anyway, here it is today (well, day before yesterday):

Look, it still has the same shutters on the windows. I'm trying to decide if the trees are 50 year old bushes, and I think so. When you see the house from straight on, they line up.

I still can't figure out why I feel a relationship to Denver, since I certainly don't remember it. Perhaps it is the stories, of a simpler time when we all had life's options available to us- when my parents were young and the country was celebrating post-war growth (still only 48 states back then).
And every time I visit Denver, I consider the possibility that I may move there some day. The mountains continue to call me as does the "outdoor" mentality of the residents.
Though I think I'd pick a different neighborhood.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Though I was born in Denver, I have only been here a few times as an adult and every time I fall in love with the place all over. Wow, what a great place this would be to live. I am staying at the Sheraton Downtown and it is a wonderful place for window shopping, walking, and of course, eating. Last night a storm rolled in over the mountains, and though it was right outside my window, I could never capture the lightning. I bumped the shutter speed down to about 10 seconds, but it seems like the lightning would strike just before it opened or right after it closed. This morning though, the sky was full of lovely pinks and purples and the sun turned the mountains gold. But by then I was on my way to work, so I wasn't able to take a picture of it. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Here is the view from my window. Though it seems to look a lot better in person... I didn't realize how the rooftops ruin the view.

Well, I'll be back tomorrow and the weather for St. Louis calls for sun and heat. A perfect day for Maggie and I to spend in the pool.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tonight is dog school...

... and I'm out of town and missing it. I am one sad puppy.

: (

Monday, August 3, 2009

My love for dogs, Chapter 1

Thanks to my cousins, I got a huge file of old photos taken by my grandparents dating from the 1940s to about 1970. They always had their photos made into slides so they had been in slide carousels, unseen for many years. I've only begun to sift through them, but this is one of the first that I stumbled across. This couple is my great-aunt and uncle, Edwin and Earlene Miller.
Aunt Earlene and Uncle Ed were a very unique couple. Though perhaps not formally educated, both were very knowledgeable and well-read. Uncle Ed came to the US alone from Austria as a young boy around 1900 and grew up to be a biologist for the National Indian Service, living thoughout the southwest on or near reservations. Aunt Earlene was tiny little thing, never breaking 5 foot or 100 lbs and was a voracious reader. Both of them loved kids, but never could have any of their own. Like many of us, they filled their hearts and homes with dogs. Uncle Ed loved big dogs and always wanted a German Shepherd, but Aunt Earlene liked dogs she could carry, so Chihuahua was their breed of choice. Together, they raised them and showed them in confomation and obedience. Uncle Ed even gave one of his favorite obedience dogs some schutzhund training (this is given to attack and protection dogs) and the little guy turned out to be a pretty good tracker. But perhaps the thing I remember most about them was going into their dark and cool spare bedroom and pulling the old musty suitcase from under the bed. This case was full of the most beautiful dog ribbons and rossettes that I had ever seen, and I played for hours at pretend dog shows dragging my stuffed dog by a string and "winning" first place.
As they grew old, they got a bit eccentric. Uncle Ed was always making some electronic something that we were all afraid would catch fire, and they ate "hippy" food... like granola and aloe... long before anyone else ever heard of it. But until the very end, they loved one another and they loved dogs. You can't beat that.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dog day...

What a beautiful day today was. This was only the second day this summer that I was able to spend in the backyard with the furry kids- either there was an agility show, I was traveling, or it was raining. But today almost made up for it with the brilliant sunshine and the nice breeze. Maggie lost no time in getting wet.... bless her heart she races around the pool, then runs over and nudges me with her nose asking if she can jump in. After a few "wait" I relent and say "okay, you can go swimming now." Like a little kid she races for the edge and jumps in in complete abandon. I don't know why she likes it so much, but she sure does. One or two turns around and she climbs out, shakes off, and gets ready to go again. But once she's wet, she doesn't ask if she can jump in anymore, she just goes when she's ready. I sure would like to know what goes on in that brain of hers.
Sometime I think I ought to train her to do dock diving... she does like to jump out into the water, but I have no idea how to train her to jump the big distance. She is happy with a 7 or 8 foot jump and then swimming to the target. She actually looks like she's trying to walk on water for the first few steps.

If she's not jumping in after something, she'll take a more leisurely approach, stepping onto the top step of the ladder and then sort of falling forward in without a big splash.

You may be wondering where Jake is during all this splashing. Jake is pretty afraid of the water, though I have gotten him to the point where he will put his front feet on the top step of the ladder and stand there. A couple times Sarah has coaxed him onto a float, but he isn't really comfortable with it. Today he hung out under the patio table trying to catch chips. You see, we've always played this cruel trick on the dogs where we drop food onto the clear glass table while they try to catch it from below. Yes, we realize it is sort of mean, but it is also funny. And since we do eventually give them the treat, they don't seem to mind much.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

For posterity...

They say it is a small world, and I think that goes double in the dog world because we see some of the very same people at every show. Last weekend, I had a long chat with Jeanette, a fellow handler that I have known for almost 25 years... when I had my first cocker and I went to obedience classes. She brought pictures of her dogs from back then and it was so nice to see those little faces again. The next day I had planned to bring pictures of my dog from back then, but sadly, I couldn't really find any good pictures. It seems that once my kids were born, the only dog photos I took were ones where the dog had wandered into the shot.

Because I don't want this to happen again, I decided to dedicate some time to taking pictures of my old girl, Mopsy, who will turn 15 next month. Taking the pictures was a little bittersweet. Until I focused the lens on her, I had not realized how she has aged. She still plays, but tires faster. Her teeth are getting worn down and her muzzle and ears are silver where they were once shiny black. But perhaps the hardest thing for me to see are her eyes... all clouded over- I don't know how much she can even see anymore. But I can tell you this, she rarely misses a piece of popcorn tossed her direction.

But some parts of her never seem to change... I've always loved seeing her little nub of a tail- docked WAY to short as compared to breed standard. But without anything to wag, she's always made up for it by wagging her entire butt.

And something about her little teddy bear feet always make me smile. How cute is that, huh?

Oh Mopsy girl, I'm so sorry that time is taking its toll on you... but you'll always be a puppy in my heart.