Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Herding Pictures

Here are some more photos of our day out in the country. Originally, my intention was just to go out and watch Claire's and Bobby's lesson and get in a little visit. As it turned out, the person taking a lesson after Claire cancelled, leaving an opportunity I just couldn't pass up! The sheep are in Berryville, Va. at a place called Keepstone Farm . If you are interested in herding lessons, this is the place to be!

In this first picture (and all photo credits go to Claire who did a fabulous job taking pictures of my guys), Wilson, who is easily put off by strangers, is sassing the teacher, Susan. Her stick had a noisemaker can attached, and he did not appreciate that!


His interest started to kick in and so the can became less annoying!



Keeping his distance.....



I started with Wilson because I expected him to be calmer. Jimmy raised a rukus in my car while waiting for his turn, but more due to jealousy over Wilson having fun than wanting to get to the sheep. He was actually a tad more hesitant than Wilson and took a while to get going. Actually they both performed very true to their herding evaluations at last year's National Specialty in Gettysburg.

Going this way.....


Going back the other way.....I love how the three sheep are lined up by size!


And performing a nice sit/stay to finish the lesson.


Both boys seemed pretty pleased with their morning and went right to sleep on the ride home. I bet they are both hoping that another trip to the farm happens soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brothers

Here are some family photos of my boys with their littermates.

Wilson's and Spencer's kennel name is Caduceus. Wilson's registered name is Caduceus Castaway Wilson AXP AJP NF CGC. Yes! He is named after Tom Hank's beloved soccer ball in the movie Castaway. And, coincidently, his father's name is CH Sisterwood's Winsome Will, so he really is a Will-son :-) Spencer, who is Janet's handsome and exceptionally well-trained boy, is registered as Caduceus Spencer Batrille CA CD HT GN RAE3 OAP NJP. He is one VERY accomplished Cardigan!


Photo thanks to Janet

Here are the brothers at their first reunion at the 2006 Cardigan National Specialty in Kentucky. It also coincided with their 3rd birthday and here they are enjoying a special dog-cake Janet brought along for the celebration.


Moving on to my younger boy....Bobby's and Jimmy's kennel name is Fine Creek. Jimmy's registered name is Fine Creek's Sharp Dressed Man AXJ OA NF CGC. I named him based on his B&W tuxedo colors and the Jimmy call name really doesn't play off of it. I've thought of a couple of better registered names since I've gotten to know him better, but the first one will stick. I can say that nothing sets the tone of the day better than when driving to an agility trial, and ZZ Topp's Sharp Dressed Man song comes on the radio. I crank it up and know it will be a good day! Bobby, who belongs to Claire, is registered  as Fine Creek's Simple Twist of Fate HT PT. These boys are both high-drive, high-energy guys! Fortunately, they are both well-employed, Bobby pursuing a herding career and Jimmy working toward his MACH agility title.


Jimmy doesn't share ANYTHING! Not with Wilson, not with Bobby, so there are definitely no photos of birthday festivities for him!  Just another shot of some good-looking guys....



Wilson on Woollies Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Welsh Yard

A Welsh Yard by definition is a unit of length equal to 40 inches (approximately 1 metre), used in Wales. A second definition known to Cardigan owners, is that a Welsh Yard is the distance from the tip of a Cardigan's nose to the tip of his tail.

I offer a third definition, as the distance kept between littermate brothers for the purpose of preventing a tussle during a photoshoot. Here is my pictorial definition:


On the left is Jimmy's littermate, the very handsome Bobby. Wilson, Jimmy and I got together with Bobby and Claire (who has yet to join all of us in blogland....hint, hint!) for a bit of R and R in the country. I'll be posting more photos later on when I've had a chance to wade through what I took.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jimmy....er.....Durante?

Encouraged by everyone's kind comments (Thank You!), here's another attempt at sketching one of my dogs. This, of course, is Jimmy. I think I got the eyes a bit more balanced this time, however, I think it was at the expense of poor Jimmy's nose! It is rather long and large for a Cardi, hence the reference to Durante :-) This sketch didn't take nearly as long with just one dog to worry about.


Now, I have been sketching my whole life or at least a good portion of it. I was afterall an art major in college, however misdirected that may have been. It certainly did not earn me a living. Back in 1999, I had a very bad riding accident, with my left wrist taking the brunt of the fall. It required surgery to fix and it was never quite right again. Of course, I am left-handed! For the first few years after the accident my wrist hurt every single day, and my handwriting, which was always messy, deteriorated. I didn't even bother to try sketching. I also got sidetracked with owning a house, agility came along, and free time I once used for sketching, turned to other things. I am not sure why the urge to sketch has returned but it has. Hopefully with a bit of effort, I can regain a bit more precision. Practice, as they say, makes perfect.

Here's a sketch of my sweet boy Dylan that I did prior to screwing up my wrist. I think this one got him about right....



While digging out Dylan's picture, this page fluttered out of my old sketch book. It goes even further back and was inspired by my reading of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is my interpretation of Gandalf's Shadowfax. I basically grew up on horseback and I drew horses throughout my childhood. I had ALOT of practice getting them right!



Saturday Steps

Once again, following in the footsteps (or is it stairsteps!) of George the Lad , is another installment of Saturday Steps. 

These pictures were taken last weekend while we were down in Myrtle Beach. These are the front entry steps to a house that was built a couple of years ago, about two blocks from our condo. We can see it from our balcony. Why, you might ask, would I be so nervy as to plop my boys on someone's property? Well, this house was built by a developer just around the time the economy crashed. No one has ever purchased it. It has sat empty and for sale this whole time. We've climbed the steps, peaked in windows, etc. because it is certainly a striking house, just one block off the ocean. You would think it would be snatched right up as it is a gorgeous house with views of the ocean even from a block away. What's the problem? Simple! This baby is listed at somewhere around 1.2 million dollars!


Now, to give a better idea of the size of this house, I stepped back a bit....a good bit at that, to get in most of the house. The boys are just small dots on those steps!


To the right of this house are two more vacant lots, both for sale, that the developer has wisely NOT built on yet! I have a feeling it will be a long time before this house and the adjacent lots are called home by someone!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Oh, Yes, He Did!

For our after-work walk yesterday, I chose a loop that would give the boys the most off-leash opportunities. As a result, the last half mile or so wound along my neighborhood's biggest lake. It has a nice paved trail and is safely away from the roads. Jimmy was busy doing his geese-police gig, and Wilson was running down along the water's edge, as he often does, ever hopeful for a swim.  I am ahead of Wilson, pointing out geese to Jimmy. I look over to see Wilson intently sniffing something. I yell over Leave It! Come! but he ignores me completely. The smell is just too good. I see the body language of a roll starting to form, so I run over to put a stop to that monkey business.  Yuck! It's a large and very dead fish! I snap on the leash and drag him away, thankful I got to him in the nick of time. We continue on our way and arrive at home. I always hose off their feet before bringing them in. While doing Wilson's, I notice he doesn't smell so good near his head. I run a bit of the hose water around his neck, dry his feet/ neck and in we go. A few minutes later as we are all sitting in the kitchen warming up dinner, John asks what stinks? And I have to admit, Wilson is getting riper by the minute! I guess getting in the warmer air (and the lack of a fresh outdoor breeze) is bringing out the odor.  It's actually pretty darn disgusting! I guess afterall, I did not catch Wilson before he managed to get in a neck-dive or two  on that nasty fish!

So, my after-dinner time was spent giving an unscheduled bath to Wilson. And since the bathroom was now covered in fur from floor to ceiling, Jimmy got one just for good measure! Oh, and Melissa, your tip about the steel wool around the drain worked like a charm! I had no clogging what-so-ever!

Wilson's word for the day:

 REEK –verb (used without object)


1. to smell strongly and unpleasantly.
2. to be strongly pervaded with something unpleasant or offensive




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Nose Knows!

While we were at the beach this past weekend, Jimmy proved what a natural he is a tracking a scent. His favorite person is John (an irony worthy of its own post!) so Jim is quite concerned with keeping tabs on him. We were all out on the beach by our condo building which is a high-rise. John had all his fishing gear plus a chair. When we decided to go in, John headed straight to the set of dune steps and little trail that leads back right to our building. I took the boys and headed down the beach for about a block. I wanted to exit at a spot that had a hose for washing off at least some of the sand from their coats. Splitting up like this never makes the boys happy as they much prefer we all stay together. After torturing the boys with a good rinse job, we head back along the sidewalk. When we get to the spot where John would have crossed the street, Jimmy's nose goes down and he becomes mildly frantic. He picks up the pace, swinging his head from side to side. We shoot across the street and up the long sidewalk leading into the building, Jimmy continuing to sniff like crazy. The sidewalk goes past the outdoor pool, and Jimmy flies over to the entrance. He tries hard to get through the gate. I call him off, and he immediately resumes his sniffing from side to side. Into the lobby he runs, straight to the elevator bank, checking each of the three doors, settling in front of the one to the left.That's not the one that opens for us so I have to tug Jimmy along. We get out on the 11th floor and at this point both boys run for the condo, knowing where they are, scent or no scent.

After toweling off the boys, and going inside, I ask John about his route back from the beach.
 Did you stop by the pool by any chance?
 Why, yes, I did. I wanted to check the water temperature.
Did you ride up on the left most elevator?
(After a bit of thinking)...Hmmm, I did.....
Well Jimmy told me all about it on the way up! The nose knows!

I'm thinking someone needs a Nosework or Tracking class....



Monday, March 21, 2011

Piling Pups

We are back from another long weekend in Myrtle Beach. What a difference a month makes in the weather! We had three gorgeous blue sky days that were warm, albeit pretty windy. Saturday was at least 80 and the beach was packed! Tons of people out in swimsuits, sunbathing. A few brave souls even went in the ocean for a swim! The water was still very cold so I only made it as far as maybe mid-calf, just far enough to rescue any tennis balls that got caught in the tide. The boys had no problem getting in chest deep, but didn't seem interested in a real swim. Having been there so recently, I didn't take much in the way of photos. I am always looking for something different to use in the pictures, so this time I plopped the boys up on these pilings. They weren't too sure of their footing, and fortunately didn't make any suicidal leaps for the ground!


Monday, March 14, 2011

The Weekend Report

I feel rather petty wanting to post about my weekend in light of the nightmare the Japanese people are living through. I was away from the TV/News for pretty much the whole weekend and now having seen more reports of the disaster, I am left saddened  and speechless.  My thoughts are with them as they struggle through this unfathomable crisis.

**********

It's been quite a while since I last had an agility weekend to report. But the new season has begun, and it has started off with a blast! I am very pleased to say we had a very successful trial!

There was only one bump in the road and that was our very first run of the weekend. It was Excellent B Jumpers where a very poorly placed front cross by me pulled Jimmy off a jump. The rest of the run was OK, but you have to run 100% clean in Excellent B in order to qualify.

Here's the run:



Next came our Excellent A Standard run and YES! Jimmy DID THE TABLE! Hooray! We had really been working on this issue in class and it must have paid off. He gave me a speedy run completing the course in 45.49 seconds (having 68 seconds to do it) and earning 1st place!

Here's the run:





On Sunday, Jimmy gave me a nice clean Excellent B Jumpers run. We had 45 seconds to get it done and Jimmy did it in 31.22 seconds. This was fast enough to actually get us 2nd place! In the Excellent B class, this is an amazing accomplishment! As a result, we earned the point multiplier bonus which gave us extra MACH points. What would have been 13 MACH points based on our number of seconds under the course time, ended up as 19 points. AKC is doing away with the multiplier come July 1st, so this may be the one and only time we earn this bonus. And if you ever wondered what the difference a fraction of a second can make, the 3rd place dog completed the course in 31.29 seconds and the 4th place in 31.99. It was that close!


Here's the run:





And finally the last run of the weekend, Excellent A Standard again. Jimmy was up for the challenge of that pesky table yet again. Yipee! He ran a nice clean course, taking 47.15 seconds, having 71 seconds to get it done. This was speedy enough to get him 1st place once again! There are no MACH points earned in Excellent A but if there were, it would have been 23!
Here's the run:



So all in all, it was an exceptional agility weekend. I hope going forward, we have our table issue licked. It is probably something that will need continued re-enforcement in class with super high value treats, but at least my confidence has been boosted. Better confidence usually translates into better runs. Now, when we blow a run, there will be no one to blame but the handler, me!

Tracking Jimmy's MACH progress:
Excellent B JWW legs: 5 (out of 10 needed for his MXJ) Halfway to his Masters Jumpers title!
Excellent B STD legs: 0 (out of 10 needed for his MX)
Double Q's: 0 (out of 20 double-Q's needed for a MACH)
MACH Points: 71 (out of 750 speed points needed for a MACH)

Friday, March 11, 2011

For Your Entertainment

OK, so it took about five minutes with the AKVIS software to get a photo transformed in to a perfect sketch. It took a human (me) about two and a half hours to create a similar yet far from perfect sketch.
I had fun trying but as with drawing a person, getting the eyes right is all important, and mine fall somewhere in the Picasso category :-) And I am not talking talent, I am talking being askew!

But, without further ado, for your friday night chuckle I present my special effects:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Special Effects

It was a dark, very rainy,  and dreary day this past Sunday. Like when you were a kid, the day seemed to go on forever. So I started tinkering around on the PC. Since I didn't have any new photos to post, I thought I would play with what I had already. I don't have Photoshop on my PC so I browsed around on the web to see what was out there. I came across a software called AKVIS that offered a ten day free trial. It was easy to work with and I had alot of fun. I think I only touched the tip of the iceburg when it comes to what they offer, but here are some examples:

Like yesterday's WW, here's a version of their watercolor technique.


This is their pencil sketch:



And finally a colored pencil:



Below is my photo so you can see where it all started:



I am not sure I would want to use these effects often enough to purchase the product, but it sure was a fun way to burn some time. If you want to play too, check out their free trial offer.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Naughty Puppy Tale

Janet's recent post about naughty puppies
 had me reminiscing. Wilson was a truly sainted little pup. He had exactly three potty accidents in the house, all our own fault. He kept his chewing to a minimum, only damaging a couple of low window sills that were right at chin level to a youngster. We did manage him carefully using a crate when we weren't home, but usually he was a good boy even when he was free.

However, there was one odd little item to which he was very attracted:

He went around the house and removed every rubber tip for all the doorstops, even ones in  out of the way locations.

This is how they are supposed to look with the little rubber stopper still in place:


Most of these little tips were never found which leaves just one likelihood. They made a nice snack for Wilson. I never did notice them in his poops but he also never had any side effects so I guess there was no harm done.

The funniest part of all was, when we were sure he was 100% on his house breaking, we left him with friends while we went on vacation. We went to pick him up, and asked if he had been a good puppy, no messes in the house, too much barking, etc. They said he was a perfect little guy except for one thing. He ate all the rubber tips off their doorstops!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Outtakes

For yesterday's Wordless Wednesday, I tried out a whole bunch of poses to show the saddle to it's best advantage. I plopped it on the bed and then man-handled Wilson into using it as a pillow/perch. He was a bit disgruntled over such rude treatment, especially since I had the nerve to do it without any treats handy. (What was I thinking?!)

Here he's giving us a rather grouchy face. "What the....I don't work for free!!!"


After about 10 poses, ennui sets in.......


Throughout the shoot, Jimmy kept hopping up and getting in the way. I'd shove him back onto the floor and he would jump right back up. In his opinion, no one else should ever receive attention. He is "the one and only!" When I had finished up with Wilson, I let Jimmy have a turn. Although his expression here doesn't show it, he was quite pleased with the whole situation. He had no intentions of leaving until I lifted the saddle and put it away.




Here's another one of Wilson that I liked alot. I had a hard time deciding which one to post yesterday. And although Wilson started out a tad miffed, he ended up so comfy propped on the saddle, I had to man-handle him yet again to get him to leave. Oh, the indignities....!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Tune-ups

The dog school where I do my agility training offers a nice (albeit not free) fringe benefit. Every other Tuesday (which luckily corresponds with my weekly training night), they have a certified chiropractic/acupuncture vet on site. For those who are interested, you can sign up for an appointment to have your dog evaluated or do a recurring visit. It's a very popular offering and getting a time slot is tough! Now, I don't do regular appts. but a couple of times a year I try to get a slot and have the boys looked at. I lucked into a spot last night for Jimmy which is timely as trial season kicks in very soon. He also had a pretty ugly crash-n-burn on the A-Frame a week ago so this session could identify any bad effects from that. Jimmy was funny because despite being in his beloved agility school building, the second we walked over to the doctor's corner, he knew she was a vet! He immediately started his "I'm afraid of the vet" avoidance behavior. Happily, Jimmy got a very good report. In just a few minutes of manipulation, she commented that, not only that his muscle tone and muscle strength was fabulous, but that he really didn't need any adjustments. Since we had a 30 minute time slot, I jumped on the opportunity to get Wilson looked at as well.  He had his own appt. set up for March 15th, but there was still plenty of time to fit him in. Unfortunately, Wilson is not a very sound dog in the front end. It's the reason he is already retired from agility. He often has trouble with his left front, and recently has had some lameness on the right. So his exam discovered some stiffness in his back over his hips, as well as arthritic changes in the right front. He had several adjustments and then tried something new, cold laser treatment. It is supposed to help with the inflammation associated with joint pain. He wasn't pleased with the beeping noise, but after a few minutes he became very relaxed like he does with acupuncture. Since he had a few issues we will be keeping his March 15 appt. and repeat the adjustments and laser work.

So, all in all, I feel pretty good about the results. I now know Jimmy is in good shape and that's important since I ask him to do agility. He is definitely a dog who gives it 100% and as such has the potential to hurt himself (as in that A-Frame mishap). And Wilson, who I know has ongoing problems, got to try something new that might help with his front-end issues.

Western Wilson's Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yearbook Photo

I was going through old photos and came across this one. Jimmy passed his CGC test at the tender age of 9 months. When the certificate came in the mail, we wanted a photo to frame with it. This is one of the outtakes and seeing it again gave me a good chuckle. What better to torture Jimmy with than a graduation cap!



 I wonder what the little blurb under the picture in his yearbook would have said.....

Class Clown....Bit of a bully....VERY Outspoken....Superior Athlete....Napoleon Complex
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