Tuesday, December 21, 2010

she's gone...

I have been very busy with Christmas preparations, so I have not been keeping up with the blog, but I wanted to offer a quick post on the status of the puppy. Despite the fact that all of my friends were betting that she would stay with me, I passed her along to her new family on Saturday.
I miss her happy little face and wagging tail terribly, but I know that she is in the right place. Her new family is looking for their next performance dog and Killian should be able to fill that need nicely. As happy as I am for her and her new family, I'm still just a little sad for us.
But I have the perfect cure.... now that the snow is melting, I'll be doing dog-poop patrol. That should remind me why we don't need another dog.
Happy journey little girl!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dogs in Hats

I'm the kind of person that frowns on dog coats. Not the kind that are genuinely meant to keep a dog warm when needed... I understand that some breeds just cannot handle the cold. And the Old Duck (Mopsy) has coats for the winter... at 16, I don't want her spending any energy on keeping warm. I'm talking about fashion coats. Like their fur isn't pretty enough? Anyway, you would think that this dislike for coats would travel on to other parts of the dogs anatomy, but it doesn't. For some reason, I love love love putting hats, headbands, scarfs- you name it- on my dogs and taking their picture. Though I have to admit, it isn't really about making them look better... quite the contrary. It makes me giggle to see their silly faces-looking at me like I'm killing them. It reminds me of when my kids were little (especially Sarah) and I'd buy them a new outfit and they HATED it. But, I made the kids wear it anyway, and I don't want anyone saying I give preferential treatment to the dogs, so, bring your little furry heads out here... I have HATS!

Ree, especially hates hats. But unlike most dogs which immediately paw them off, Ree gets paralyzed. You can pose her in any way and she won't budge. Except for her eyes which roll at you.
The old duck won't wear a hat. Go ahead, give it a try. She'll rip your face off.

We gave the puppy a go at it. Maybe her future home will want her to wear a hat too, so might as well get her introduced to it.

See? equal opportunity. Love the kids as much as I love the dogs.
Dave! bring the dog over! I've got some great santa beards for you guys to try on!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Killian remains...

Despite several people saying that they planned to apply to adopt Miss Killian, there have been no new applications. I can't believe that people are not begging for her... is it the holidays and that people think they are too busy to deal with a puppy right now? Is it her mixed heritage (Aussie/BC)? Because as far as puppies go, there is probably not a better one out there. She has such a great disposition (always happy), she is a quick learner, and she is cute as button. I know that the right family is out there for her... but why are they taking so long? Don't they know how much it is going to hurt me to let her go? And it will get worse every day she stays here. Oh, please, where ever you are, your perfect little puppy is at my house.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More pictures...

Okay, I'll try to wean myself off of the picture taking, but I swear, you cannot take a bad photo of this puppy! She is such a doll.

I mentioned in an earlier post that she wrestles with Ree a lot, I have to separate them every so often, just to give them both a break. But every day she gets faster and smarter, so it won't be long until Ree has her hands (paws) full. Well, if she stays with us that long.
I think this is a cute picture of them playing together, but honestly the only thing I can think of when I look at it is "why don't you put the camera down and clean your yard!"

Does it get any cuter than this? I don't think so...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Growing FAST!

She's only been with me one week, but Killian has changed a lot in that time. The first few days she was content to nap and lay on my lap. But now that she has found out that Reba will run from her, she is no longer willing to be a lap dog.

She seems to be getting faster everyday, and Ree manages to keep just out of reach of those sharp little teeth. Of course, Reba could easily outrun her, but it makes Killian happy to think she's catching up, so Reba plays along.

Next, Killian tries out her best sheep-herding moves on Ree... Sorry little girl, but Ree knows all about that and your best stalking poses have no effect on her... Poor Ree will let the pup catch her once in a while, but you can tell she doesn't really enjoy it. She will let Killian maul her for a while and even bite a little... but once those teeth sink into Ree's ear or leg, Ree gives her a quick reprimand and Killian is back to her best behavior... for a little while.
Killian is still available for adoption through http://www.mokanbcrescue.org/. While the posting says that we are no longer accepting applications, we would still be willing to consider a new applicant that wants a working or performance dog. Though it is hard to promise how she will be as an adult dog, she appears to have a lot of promise for someone that is looking for an agility or herding dog. She would probably even make a nice therapy or assistance dog. Anyway, if you are interested in her, hop on over and fill out an application.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A few more before it's over

Well it looks like there are a substantial number of people interested in Miss Killian, because the rescue has stopped accepting applications. Some lucky family is going to get a really great dog... and I hope it is a home where I can watch her grow. I'll try to take a few pictures of her every day until she goes to her new home, because she is so cute, I just have to share.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Evil, evil dog

This adorable little pup is Killian, and she is up for adoption from Missouri Kansas Border Collie Rescue, the same group the introduced me to Maggie and Jake. I am JUST FOSTERING. (wait, let me repeat that) I am JUST FOSTERING. But this evil little thing is wagging, and yipping, and yawning her way into my heart. The first day I had her, she mostly napped and looked sweet and innocent. By the end of the first day, she was racing around the back yard, wrestling with Ree, and even drug a big tennis shoe a couple feet before we noticed and traded for a toy. She is going to be very bold and tough. I have to stop the bigger dogs from playing rough with her, but she has never even whimpered... she gives it back to them as much as she can.

Anyway, please apply to adopt this little gal before it is too late and I have to keep her.

look for "Chrome" ...that is her real name, but for some reason, I call her Killian instead.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thank you Missouri voters

Yesterday, voters in Missouri passed legislation that is aimed at large scale breeding facilities. Is it perfect? No. Personally, I wish the restrictions were much tighter and the penalties greater. What disturbed me the most were the special interest groups that were flooding the media and the internet with false accusations. Many people in agriculture thought that this would somehow apply to farm animals, even though the proposition clearly spelled out "dog" in every legal way.
People on both sides of the issue continued to spread lies and exaggerations, while very few actually read the proposed legislation.
Sadly, the bill did not pass in a landslide... I was really hoping that Missouri legislators were going to get a wake up call about how Missouri feels about puppy mills. However, many people who are against puppy mills voted no, after hearing the scary and crazy propaganda like the ones that suggested if a crumb of food fell in your pet's water bowl, you would go to jail. I think many more people would have voted yes if they had just taken the time to read it, line by line.
At a recent dog show, a fellow agility enthusiast suprised me by saying "I do not back the legislation... I don't think the government has any business telling me what I can do with my dogs." Thankfully, I recovered from my shock fast enough to tell her, "that is probably what Michael Vick thinks as well."
As long as we have puppy mills, dog fighting, and people that mistreat their animals, we need legislation to limit the abuse. Thanks Missouri voters for getting us a step closer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Border Collie National Specialty (agility)

We just finished FOUR long days at Gray Summit (Purina Farms) at the Border Collie Specialty.

Tuesday we were fortunate to be part of a seminar with Ann Braue and we learned a lot. There were a lot of really good dogs in the class... I sort of felt like a C- student. But we got an A+ for paying attention and trying.

On Wednesday we came prepared and dressed for indoor agility, only to find out that the trial had been moved outdoors. Many of the exhibitors believed that the floor was too slick for their dogs, asked, and got permission from AKC to move the trial outside. I have mixed feelings about this... there has been plenty of discussion on the status of that floor since way before last date to withdraw, so people could have withdrawn.. or, they could have changed earlier and allowed people to enter that wanted to be outside. On the other hand, it would have been terrible to withdraw from your National Specialty and not be able to run. I do have to admit that some of the dogs running were extraordinarily fast and would have had trouble with traction unless they changed the way they run. In fact, there was some slip-sliding on the grass until the sun evaporated the dew. As it turns out, the weather was spectacular, and it would have been a crime against nature to be indoors the last three days, so running outside was wonderful. But some people thought that this was a training issue and that dogs, especially border collies, should be smart enough to adjust to the floor and the trial should not have been moved. I didn't really care, but I was getting pretty tired of the drama.

I did spend quite a bit of time talking to obedience, rally, and conformation exhibitors, all of whom had nothing but praise the facility, to include the flooring.

Okay, enough about the floor... hurray for sensible send bonuses in FAST!!! There were a substantial number of Qs on Wed and Fri (Thursday's was pretty difficult). But I did find out that FAST is a little different for a field of Border Collies. If you wanted to earn a ribbon, you had to do more that qualify, you had to max out the available points.... and whoever did that the fastest, gets the ribbons. That is different than a mixed-breed show where few (if any) people max out the points.

Overall we did quite well... two first place on Wed, one third on Thurs (our low spot of the week) and three second place runs on Friday (triple Q!) And the only handlers beating us were Ann Brau or Ann Zarr, (both world team members) so we cannot complain. One of my friends gave me some good advice about it too. "Maggie is a once-in-a-lifetime dog that will give her all for you. Enjoy her every time you trial and train and play." (good advice from a real pro)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dear AKC,

Dear AKC,
Please review the criteria for qualifying on the Fifteen and Send Time (FAST) game.
Me and Maggie

I am fortunate that Maggie is one of those dogs that works well away from me. Not because I planned to be able to do the send bonuses in FAST, but because my trainer warned me early on that I would never be able to keep up with her, so I'd better train her to go on without me so that I could take shortcuts. Even so, many FAST send obstacles are just crazy. They are nothing you would normally do or train for, and they seem to confuse many of the dogs. As a result, the number of qualifying scores is miniscule. Last weekend I belive that there was only one dog on Friday that qualified in excellent, two on Saturday and none on Sunday. How many people will continue to enter under these statistics? What has happened is that some people use FAST for a "training run" and go out there to work whatever issues they have with their dog with total disregard for the course, not even trying to qualify.
This past trial had several issues... while the bonus sends were not the most difficult we have ever seen, they were poorly planned in many ways. Some of them were not worth many points, so you had to really struggle to get enough points OUTSIDE the bonus to qualify. They lacked a normal "flow" so we were asking dogs to change directions in ways we would never ask normally. And finally, the start line was placed 20 to 30 feet from the nearest obstacle. This was done to aid the manual time keepers for starting the clock, but created a nightmare for most teams.
Plus, there is no consideration for small dogs, so the send bonus is the same for a tiny toy breed as it is for a large fast dog. What this means is that the little dog may have to take 20 or 30 strides into the "send" where Maggie takes 4 or 5. A big fast dog may land 1/2 way to the next obstacle just by virtue of momentum alone.

As an example of the disregard given to the FAST event, I spoke to an AKC rep at a recent trial about a small issue and she said "it's only FAST, who cares about FAST?" I'll tell you who cares, any of us that paid the SAME entry fee as what we paid for standard and jumpers.
So AKC, can you please review the rules for FAST and see if you can make some changes that will allow judges to create some more realistic challenges that will allow a few more people to qualify?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I love this dog.

I sure do love this dog. We've just spent another long weekend doing AKC agility. We had FAST runs all three days (first time we've run FAST in months). Maggie Qd in 7 or her 9 runs... we had a dropped bar in Sat std, and we failed the send bonus in Sunday FAST (it was a very bizarre FAST course, but we'll cover that later). The trial was at the new Purina Event Center in Gray Summit. Everyone has been talking about the floor for months, so obviously we were a little (okay a lot) apprehensive. Friday Maggie ran pretty tentative, putting in a few extra steps here and there. However, she was able to complete the send bonus in FAST, so she wasn't just tip-toeing around. In jumpers I got a little freaked out when I could hear Maggie's toenails scrambling on the flooring, but she seemed to be running only a little slower than normal. By Sunday, she seemed to have her own method of dealing and she was moving out at near her normal speed.
But this weekend taught me a lot...
#1 Some people hate change so much that they are unwilling to be open-minded.
#2 Some people gave up on their dogs too soon, and didn't give them a chance to learn and adjust.
#3 Some people will use any available excuse for their dog to avoid admitting it is a training issue. ("the color of the floor made him break his stay")
#4 Some people were afraid that their dog would not accomodate and get hurt. Some of these people left and I applaud them. Some stayed, and I can't understand that- if I thought Maggie was going to get hurt, we would have been gone in a heartbeat.
#5 And, some people (like me) learned that their dog is way more flexible, more forgiving, more able to adjust, and better trained than we'd ever thought.
Which brings me back to the beginning. I sure do love this dog.

(and thanks, Liz, for the great picture)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mizzou Family Day

It has been a bittersweet weekend. We make the 2 hour drive down to Columbia for what will be our last "Family Weekend" Mizzou game. We were glad to be able to see her, because her asthma has been acting up, and she is notorious for trying to ignore it until she ends up in the emergency room. And so we didn't have to rush home, we took all three dogs and crated them in her apartment (along with Sarah's dog, Ree. Yikes!)

Since there were only 2 of us this year, we went out to lunch and then walked to the stadium.

Our seats could not have been farther from Sarah's seat if we had tried. But text messaging worked, so we were able to "talk" during the game.
The Tigers played well and the game was well under control in the first half. (First touchdown after a fumble, 8 seconds into the game-that had to set some sort of record.)
We went back to Sarah's apartment for pizza and then we hugged goodbye and made the drive home. I can't believe how fast these four years have flown by.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mixed feelings...

I have such mixed feelings about this time of year. The weather has changed enough that it isn't really summer any more, and we need to close the pool (yuck). Even though I know that there will be more nice hot days, we just never seem to use it again after Labor Day. Even Maggie isn't excited about jumping in. In a few weeks, I will be happy to see the leaves falling and crisp cool mornings, but for now, I'm still sad to see summer ending. If it were not for football season starting, I would be really bummed.

Maggie and I have a couple weeks down time before we have a trial. When I scheduled it, I planned to use that time to clean house, start packing away the summer stuff and start hauling out some fall clothes and house decor. But for now, it still feels too much like summer....

Friday, September 10, 2010

An alternative view...

Warning.... this post has nothing to do with dogs or dog agility!

I continue to see many FB posts about stopping the building of the "ground zero" mosque. I also know that many of you feel very strongly, and I don't intend this to completely change your mind, but I would hope that it gives you an alternative view.
First, the "ground zero" mosque is not actually at "ground zero" but at 51 Park Avenue, several blocks away from the twin tower footprint-far enough that you cannot see 51 Park Ave from "ground zero." Second, the building will not be a "mosque" but a community center. Preliminary plans call for it to be an interfaith center that will have an Islamic prayer room-sort of like a YMCA or Jewish Community Center. Prior to 9-11, there was a space at 45 Park Ave that served as an overflow mosque, but that building was damaged, and no longer serves Muslims in this area.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 120,000 Japanese-Americans (mostly US citizens) were forced from their homes and imprisoned in "war relocation camps." It wasn't until 1988 that then-President Reagan made a public apology and a minimal financial restitution for this. German-Americans suffered as well. During WWI, the Red-Cross excluded anyone with a "German-sounding" last name, and the Alien Registration Act of 1940 restricted the movements and property ownership of hundreds of thousands of German Amercians. In Minnesota, a Lutheran pastor was killed for praying with a dying woman in her native German language. Did we learn anything?
In a related act, a Florida church threatens to have a Qaran burning this year on September 11. What many people do not realize is that a large portion of the Qaran is actually the very same Old Testament that Christians use. It isn't until after that book of Malachi that the book diverges. (However, much of the story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is there as well).
Finally, I'd like to remind everyone of the Murrah Building Bombing in Oklahoma City. One of the most poignant memorials (for me) is a stature of Jesus with his back to the site of the tragedy with the inscription "Jesus Wept" placed there by St. Joseph's Catholic Chuch. What many people do not realize is that Timothy McVeigh was raised Roman Catholic and attended daily mass with his father at Good Shepherd Catholic Chuch in New York. What if the people of Oklahoma City had blamed that act of violence on his church and on his faith rather than on the warped violence of an extremist murderer? Would people have fought that statue, too?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Gone... gone... gone.

I miss both of those little blonde girls so much I can hardly stand it.

Here is their apartment:

For the record, it is nicer than home, so I can't really blame them for leaving. What I don't understand is why they didn't take me along!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

One more week...

...well, not even a week- just a few more days actually-until the baby heads back to school. I really miss her when she goes, the house isn't as lively, there is no one to discuss things like "America's Next Top Model" or whether or not you should match your eyeliner to your outfit. But this year, there is even more to miss because she takes the little blonde girl back with her.
She is a total pain-in-the-butt.... always has to be in your face, wants to know what is going on, eats things that we are not going to talk about, jumps in your bed 20 minutes before the alarm goes off to lick your face, de-stuffs toys and leaves the stuffy spread equally throughout the house, and jumps in the pool every freaking time she goes outside. Yes, I'm sure going to miss her, too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Maggie!

Maggie is having quite the week. First, her big MACH on Sunday, then a wonderful party on Monday out at Purina. Then, today, she celebrates her birthday!

As you can tell, until someone breaks out the cookies, these puppy parties are a little dull. Cheer up kids, Sarah's coming with the treats!
But poor Jake just can't seem to get it right with the party hats. Careful there buddy, you'll poke someone's eye out!No matter what, you are all pretty cool to me. Happy Birthday big girl, enjoy your extra goodies!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our big day...

On Sunday at the Gateway Agility Club of St. Louis trial in O'Fallon IL, Maggie earned her Master Agility Champion Title. It hasn't been that long since we realized that getting this prestigious title would even be possible, and I could hardly believe it was happening.

You can tell from these photos that Maggie is the one that did all the work... I don't think I ever appreciate how far I am able to work from this little dog to save me countless steps. My role in this has been pretty simple... point her at the right thing and stay the heck out of her way!

By the time we got to the final jump I had completely stopped breathing. While I don't remember much of our run, I do remember this moment. I remember thinking... "all we have is one last jump as long as she doesn't knock the bar.... and Maggie almost NEVER knocks a bar, so this is our moment!"

But what would a moment like this be without friends to celebrate it with!

In fact, there are a couple of friends that I have to say thanks to. First, a HUGE thank you to the the people at Missouri Kansas Border Collie Rescue who were Maggie's first home... and especially the McVeys, her foster family, who were the first people to show her love and kindness. Thanks to Kim Berkley at Dog Sports at Kim's in Caseyville, IL. When we first met Kim, Maggie was afraid of her own shadow, but Kim saw Maggie's potential and taught me how to bring out her best. Kim gave us the very best foundation training and prevented me from making big mistakes.
Starting from the left in this photo, our friend Sue who also trained and runs a rescue dog. She has been our cheerleader from the beginning, and knows the extra difficulties of working with a dog with "history" and the extra pride is watching them overcome it.
Next, our best bud Carol who started at the same time as us and we've been through everything together. Carol is the one who convinced me that Maggie should compete in agility. She actually filled out the ILP application and took the pictures to get Maggie's AKC number. We trial together, we train together, we laugh together, and sometimes we even cry together.
Anyone in the agility world knows the next person.... Joan is a premier handler and has taken us to the next level. When we started agility, we would watch Joan from the sidelines and admire her handling techiniqes. Before long, we were taking lessons, and now I'm honored to call Joan a friend. She always knows the right thing to say to cheer us up when we make a mistake, and she is always the first one to say, good job!.
Last, but not least is Chris, and I can't say enough good things about her. When we began, Novice agility was always the last to run, and with a 24" dog, we were usually one of the last dogs there. By the time we ran, it was only Carol and I left. Except for one experienced handler who would stay and cheer us on... that was Chris. From our very first runs she has been there to applaud, to cheer, and to laugh with us. But more than that, Chris always brings some extra fun to the trial and helps us to remember that it isn't always about the titles, or the times, or the points. Sometimes its just about being with your friends (2 legged and 4 legged) and making some memories together.
There are many more people to thank, but this has gone on long enough. So I'll wrap it up with just one more thing.
Thanks Maggie girl.... you are a one in a million dog and you've brought me such joy. If not for you, I would have missed a lot of good times and not met a lot of fun people. Here's to a long agility career for the both of us!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We still miss you big girl...

We first met Murphy at the Reynolds County Fair. We watched a demonstration of some great herding dogs before the team penning event and the announcer said "for any of you that were impressed with that, Bob has a litter of Fay's puppies over here and you could probably talk him into selling you one!" We went over just to look.

A few years before I had been in an obedience class with my cocker, and a fellow classmate had a border collie. It was my first exposure to the breed and my heart would speed up when Ritzy would leap high into the air, spin, and land at heal position when her handler said "finish." I knew then that one day I would own one of these crazy aerobatic wonders, but I hadn't expected to find one in the back of a pickup at a county fair.

The pups were all cute, and I had no idea what to look for in a BC. But when that split face looked up at me, I knew she was going home with us. She was undersocialized, skinny, and full of fleas and I loved her from the first instant. She loved the kids as much as they loved her and she wanted to be where they were, whether that meant in the pool or in the top bunk of their beds. Except for one chewing incident, Murph never gave us a moment's trouble. She was the world's best babysitter, and she would jump into the pool if she thought someone was under water too long. She was a frisbee maniac and I could take her anywhere, without a lead, and she would behave without incident.

Unfortunately, her life was cut short and we lost her at about 10 years following a battle with an auto immune disease. We fought, she fought it; but it was a battle that wasn't to be won.
Six years ago this week Murphy passed over the rainbow bridge, and I miss her as much today as I did then.

I love you big girl... please wait for me, I can't wait to see you again.