Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Summertime, summertime, sum-sum, summertime

Like always, summertime means my life pretty much is absorbed by work. It's all good though, I love my job. And it isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle, and I happily allow my life to be absorbed by my job every spring, summer and fall.

The dogs though? They are pretty unimpressed.

We are not amused

Summertime for others usually means attending training seminars, going to agility trials, training more, etc...but alas, not me. All my fun time, vacation time, and training time is planned for the winter...during my work down-time.

But despite working weird hours and longs days for 8 months out of the year, I still get the dogs out for plenty of walks and hikes...and I am thrilled to pieces that Holly is fit, healthy and really enjoying hiking again.

Look whose covered in thousands of sticky grass seed after a morning hike

Brush Me!

Nap time...




Saturday, June 15, 2013

Time Rambles On

We've reached a new normal, and I love it.

Next week will be 7 months post TTA surgery and Holly looks awesome. She has no restrictions at all...she wrestles, runs, hikes, and generally beats the crap out of her body and has remained utterly and totally sound! Because of the spondlyosis in her back I'll continue to treat her for arthritis, and have chiro adjustments and acupuncture done every 3 months. It amazes me that her problems all of last year (mostly iliospoas issues) were all connected to her unstable knee.

Holly's favorite yard pastime...rolling on a dead worm

Little Danee is loving summer. Summer time means warmer days, and warmer days means the dogs get to stay out in the yard all day long while I'm at work. I am truly fortunate to live in a place where I can do this...leave the dogs outside all day in their fenced yard...worry free. Initially Danee didn't think it was okay to be out in the yard without me. But now she insists on going out after breakfast and spending the early morning soaking up the sun while I get ready for work. She hasn't mastered the dog door into the basement yet, so I have to leave the door open. It's nice and cool down there, and they have many comfy beds to sleep on down there when they decide to take a break from all the glorious sunshine.

Her favorite sun baking spot. Well, it was...until I planted strawberries in it!

Summertime also means a busy work schedule for me. Actually, it's not so much of a "schedule" at all since I'm on call to work as-needed, and I also put in a regular 40-hr work week. It means that some days are short, quiet and I get to spend a lot of time with the dogs. And other days, I work 14+ hours and, aside from popping in on the dogs to let them in the house or feed them, I don't get home until after 11pm...which pretty much summed up my life this past week. Unfortunately, the dogs haven't mastered doing laundry, making me dinner or cleaning the house while I'm gone, so weeks like that can be tiresome when nothing gets done while you are out working.

We are unimpressed with your work schedule...

If the pictures of Danee (aka Little Bit, Wee One, Small, Tiny or Short Stuff) in the planter or sitting next to Holly didn't give you a perspective on just how small she really is, here's a picture of her napping with Kya. Aside from her girth, Kya is a petite cat, weighing in around 9 lbs.

And lastly, since it's Saturday, let me share some information for one of our long-timer girls at the Kootenai Pets for Life shelter. "Long-timer" as in she's been in and out of our shelter since 2010.

Meet Spud :)
Who knew Yoda played with toys?

Spud is a lovely Bully girl, but no one seems to want her. Our small town has a BSL (breed specific law) and bans any and all bully breeds in city limits. This has sown fear and mistrust in Bully Breeds here and it's unlikely that poor Spud will be adopted locally. I'm working on getting her information out to social networks to get her adopted out elsewhere, so please pass on her information to help her find a home.

She enjoys killing squeakie fact, she didn't want to give this toy up until I traded it for a hotdog...playing fetch, snuggle time and going for walks. She's one of our sweetest shelter girls. Admittedly, she's learned a few bad shelter habits...barking at people to get what she wants (Bark, Bark "Give me a cookie dammit!"), and entertaining herself by fence running. But she's a really bright girl and I have no doubt that these will disappear with the one-on-one time she'll get in a home.

Know someone who could help Spud? Here's her PetFinder information and contact information for the Kootenai Pets for Life shelter in Libby, Montana.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Shelter Dog Saturday - Meet Susie Q!

8/14/13: Update: Susie was adopted to a wonderful couple in Canada. Congratulations Susie on your forever home!

07/05/13 Update: Susie is one lucky girl...she was recently transferred to the Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter in Eureka, MT in the hopes that one of the many great people of Canada might be interested in this sweet, sweet hound. If you know someone interested in Sweet Susie, please contact the Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter here.

I've been feeling sad today. Sad because I really miss Casey. And sad because a friend of mine lost her elderly girl today. She was a wonderful dog and an exceptional therapy dog...always able to put a smile on kids faces :) My heart goes out to my friend. Young or old, losing your friend always hurts like hell. Rest in peace Kali.

So today, in Kali's name, I'm going to tell you about another lovely that really needs to get out of the shelter and into a home of her own.

Meet Susie!

Susie is a spayed, 5-yr old, purebred Treeing Walker Coonhound, and she is as affectionate as the description of the breed claims them to be.

Shelter life has been difficult for Susie. She doesn't much like being among all the constant action and noise. She'd sure like to be in a nice quiet home and have a stable life again. Her former owner kept her as an outdoor dog, so she was never taught to be housebroken. But she's a very bright girl and I have no doubt she'll pick up on the proper manners for living the indoor life very easily.

Susie wants to be indoors or with people when she can. She enjoys walks, has excellent leash manners, and I think she'd make a really good jogging partner. She's proven to be great with kids and other dogs, however I'm uncertain what her feelings on cats are. Today my friend and I spent some time with Susie and getting some pictures of this pretty girl. She really enjoyed just spending one-on-one time with us...time away from all the other barking dogs, sniffing all the great new smells and just hanging out in the yard.

If you know someone who would be interested in Susie, you can find more about her on the Kootenai Pets for Life Petfinder page here, or go here to find other great dogs and cats that are in need of good homes.

Susie is up for adoption at the Kootenai Pets for Life animal shelter in Libby, Montana.

Kootenai Pets for Life is a non-profit, no-kill, all volunteer animal shelter whose mission is to help the stray and abandoned pets in the Libby and Troy, Montana area. Kootenai Pets for Life can be contacted via phone at 406-293-5735 or via email at

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Improving NADAC

Today is the Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day and the topic we dog agility bloggers have been given is "Improving Agility Organizations".

I only participate in one agility venue, and that's NADAC. In Montana, there is only NADAC and AKC (and maybe 1-2 TDAA), and there are far fewer AKC agility trials than there are NADAC trials.

I guess I should give you fair warning that here begins a mini rant...

My choice to not participate in AKC has nothing to do with agility and everything to do with AKC as a whole. I don't, and won't, support the AKC. I would really enjoy participating in AKC agility...their courses look fun and I know my dogs would be thrilled to try different fun like lure coursing. But I won’t. I feel that if I participate in any AKC sport, I’m condoning other AKC practices that disgust me. The primary practices I can't stomach are 1) those related to setting breed standards with no regard to function (resulting in mutant dogs with health problems, 2) encouraging deformities that cause dogs to suffer health problems (i.e. brachycephaly, skin wrinkles, dwarfism, etc.), 3) breeding for color and allowing double merle crosses (they don’t call it a lethal color for nothing), and 4) surgically altering physical features for cosmetic reasons (tail docking, toe cutting, ear cropping) all to make a dog “prettier” in our eyes.

Those disgusting practices that have nothing to do with agility. But...until I can stomach ALL the practices of AKC, in everything they do and not just in the sports I want to play in, they’ll never get one cent from me.

End rant. Thanks...I feel better :)

Back to NADAC. I see many things that can be improved in NADAC...and some of them will cause me to start ranting again. So, I'll start with an innocuous one...we are overloaded with NADAC trials in Montana. Weird problem, right. But there are so many now that participation on any given weekend at any given NADAC trial is really poor. That's ridiculous. There are not many people in Montana...and obviously even fewer that participate in agility, much less NADAC how come we have so many trials? One of the rules NADAC has is that you can hold multiple trials in a weekend as long as those trials are no closer than 300 miles apart. Well that might be fine for places like California. But come on...this is Montana. I drive 90 miles just to do some real shopping and my closest agility trial (of either venue) is 110 miles from home. So, traveling 300 miles to attend an agility trial in Montana is nothing, and it's the norm here. When you have a NADAC trial in Missoula the same weekend you have one in Red Lodge (a mere 350 miles apart), then people are split between the two and participation at both trials is really, really, really small. Clubs are barely breaking even, much less making any money. I think NADAC needs to reconsider this rule to account for where their trials are being held and how many people in that (and surrounding) states are actually likely to attend each trial, instead of having this across the board rule.

NADAC prides itself on safety...but if they continue to make this venue any "safer" we will end up without anything but running over bars flat on the ground! NADAC seems to take the 'ridiculous' approach to safety. Hoops instead of jumps, forcing dogs over the age of 8yrs old to take one (if not two) jump height reductions (24" dogs 'jumping' 12" jumps), gates, and the latest and greatest is using barrels to do a 360' wrap instead of a jump, hoop or a tunnel. Sigh. I enjoy a good handling and distance challenge, and NADAC is a venue that requires both. But with the way things are going, you could hardly call it "agility" anymore. I enjoy using gates and barrels to fine tune my handling in practice and training...Holly enjoys figure-8 barrel races...but I don't want to PAY to play with them as part of an agility competition.

Holly wraps a NADAC Barrel

In my opinion, part of the problem...okay, maybe the entire because NADAC is run by one person. There are no committees, no discussion, no differing opinions, no asking the members of NADAC for their opinions and suggestions on rule changes, and no set dates each year that people can expect rules to be updated or changed by. One person decides what the rules are and changes them whenever she feels like it or the mood strikes her. It's frustrating. There are so many rule changes so many times each year that unless you are a NADAC junkie you can't keep up. Their rulebook/handbook is always out of date as a result.

And then there are the weird decisions (pick a topic, any topic!) that are made. They will be announced, the cronies will think it's awesome (they think everything NADAC is awesome though), other people will protest, she'll get defensive about the protests and then come up with even weirder reasons on why those decisions were made. Sometimes she'll just up and throw them out cause she got pissed off that she was being challenged...then she'll blame that it on us...saying that people hate change and that we shouldn't be a bunch of haters. Well, honestly. If you change the rules all the time without telling us what those rule changes are going to be ahead of time...and heaven forbid you ask the NADAC competitors for suggestions or opinions...what do you expect?!

I believe that NADAC could benefit from having a committee that reviews changes, prior to there being any. And there should be just one or two FIXED dates per year where those changes...of which we would be notified of those changes ahead of time...would take place. And the rule book would be up to date. And there would be a list of changes that were instituted during each year.

I don't think I'll even mention the awards they give out...because they don't give them out. I requested one of Holly's awards TWO YEARS AGO and I still haven't received it. Why offer awards if your organization can't afford to buy them and mail them to your competitors?

I will end my ranting to say this...the folks that participate in NADAC in Montana are THE reason I continue playing in the venue. I don't have a competitive bone in my body...not against others and certainly not against myself (I have goals, but that's different). The people here are some of the most supportive folks I've ever met. There is always a kind word, a fun conversation or a pat on the back to be had for every person at the trial. I go to these trials to lend a hand, socialize, catch up with people I haven't seen in awhile, cheer on other peoples successes, and have some fun playing and hanging with my girl. And for the most part, these people are there to do the same. I rarely see people visibly frustrated with themselves or their dogs, and so far I've rarely witnessed anything that even resembles unsportsmanlike conduct...much less people being a bunch of asshats in or out of the ring.  I am truly grateful to be trialing among such a great group of people.

Holly has suffered injury after injury for 3 years running. I'm just happy we can still play the agility game at any level at all, much less care about Q's or being competitive. If you've experienced a dog with multiple muscle injuries and one that has gone through surgery to the point you're pretty sure you'll never play agility again (much less any dog sport) then you know how it feels. The Q's don't matter, and when you get one it feels like a gift. Having quality memories of the fun times we've had together...enough to last my lifetime long after my girls are what matters most.

Regardless of my NADAC opinions, I really am grateful to have a fun venue (yes I believe that NADAC is fun) that Holly and I can play in...even with all it's frustrations, quirks and weirdness. No venue is perfect. But what is?