Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Yesterday, spring weather finally found us! It was a warm and sunny day.

Here are the boys in a small patch of a springtime classic...............

Wilson: Yup! Smells like spring!

Jimmy: There's no noise you can make that will get me to look at the camera!

Both boys playing hard to get with the camera!

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Friday, March 29, 2013

He Briefly Considered Swimming........

.......Until his toes hit the water!

Jimmy: I'd get you if this water wasn't still so darn cold!
Have a swimmingly great weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Before I Was So Rudely Interrupted!

I hadn't quite finished posting all the pictures from our Myrtle Beach trip before that snowstorm came along. There wasn't much left, but in the name of completing what I started (as well as not wasting precious blog fodder!), here's the last of it......

A very rare serious expression from Jim and not a bit of tongue showing!

I liked the blue "shadow waves" as well as the gritty foreground.

Waiting in the shade for John to catch up.
Spring weather is slowly creeping in a few degrees more each day. Of course, all of the snow is gone. It didn't have a chance against the strengthening sunlight. Undoubtedly, sometime in April, we will get a freak warm spell that will require that the A/C be turned on (way too early!), and we'll go from bitching about the cold weather to bitching about the unseasonably warm weather.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Weekend Report - A Double-Q and a new Title!

This weekend, Jimmy and I had just one day of agility. It was a two day trial, but we only got our entry picked for one of the days before it filled to capacity. So luckily, the one day was a very GOOD day!

Jimmy ran cleanly in both runs which means I did my job correctly as well! As they always say, 99% of the disqualifying runs are handler error and not the dog's fault! So this time I guess we were in sync!

This gave us Double-Q #9 out of the 20 we need, and between the two runs, another 33 points toward the 750 we need, for our Master Agility Championship (MACH) title. I didn't get video this time so I'll post a photo of the course maps. For those of you who don't do agility and aren't familiar with the process....When you get to a trial and check in, you pick up a copy of the Course Map so you can see what the challenge du jour will be. The courses are different at every trial you attend and are designed by the judges. The handlers get 8 minutes (as a group, not individually) to walk the courses without their dogs, so we can devise a strategy for getting around quickly and without sending the dog to an incorrect obstacle. At the Masters level there can be no mistakes at all and you must beat the clock.

Looking at the maps, just follow the number sequences starting at one (duh!) and go from there.....

Click to enlarge the maps
I considered these to be of medium difficulty. The challenges were pretty subtle and the courses flowed nicely.

Additionally, by qualifying in Jumpers with Weaves, that gave Jimmy his 25th Masters JWW leg, which gives him his Master Bronze Jumpers With Weaves Title or MJB!

His registered name now looks like:
Fine Creek's Sharp Dressed Man MJB RN HT MX MXJ OF CGC*

Tracking Jimmy's MACH progress:
Excellent B JWW legs: 25  Now he's working on his MXJ3!
Excellent B STD legs: 15. We earned our MX and are working on MX2 now.
Double Q's: 9 (out of 20 double-Q's needed for a MACH.... 45 Percent!)
MACH Points: 620 (out of 750 speed points needed for a MACH...... 83 Percent!)

Time 2 Beat legs: 6 (out of 15 needed for his T2B) 48 points (out of 100 needed) 

I am going to add a new tracking section, this one for qualifying for next year's AKC Agility Nationals. I truly don't expect to qualify as the number of points needed is quite high and I just don't trial/qualify often enough. But it will be fun to see how close I get. I've got until Nov 30th to accumulate what's needed....

Double-Q's: 1 (out of 4 needed)
Points: 59 (out of 500 needed)
Masters Legs: 3 (out of 20 needed)

* All that alphabet soup after Jimmy's name stands for.....
RN - Rally Novice
HT - Herding Tested
MX - Master Agility
MXJ - Master Agility Jumpers
OF - Open FAST (another agility title)
CGC - Canine Good Citizen

And just for good's another photo from today's snowstorm.....

Cold nose, warm heart....Is that how the expression goes?

Mother Nature's Monday Mischief!

For today's installment of the Monday Mischief blog hop, Mother Nature gave us a spring snowstorm! That's definitely mischief in my book! But it sure is beautiful!

Check back later for another installment of the Weekend Report.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Tree of Life?

We drove to the southern end of Myrtle Beach one day in order to walk someplace different. We parked near the Myrtle Beach State Park  and walked on its section of beach. Away from the hotels, this gave us an emptier beach. Being a state park, the natural South Carolina vegetation was allowed to grow unfettered. Just a short walk off the beach was this huge tree. It made me think of the Tree of Life in the movie Avatar .

Wilson: No Na'vi here....just bright green sea snakes!
Since this is a "Wilson" post with no Jimmy in sight...I want to tell a little story from last night.....

Most evenings after dinner, the boys like to go down in the basement and play a game of Squeakie. It's basically just fetch with a bit of wrestling thrown it. It doesn't last too long as they overheat pretty quickly. So I usually follow it up with the evening walk so they can cool down in the winter (still!) air. Last night, I guess their energy had yet to be depleted so I threw the outdoor toys around. After a few minutes, Wilson ran up on the deck and headed for the water bowl. Here's what he found.....

His water had iced over because winter won't leave!
But he didn't let that stop him! As I watched, he ran up, tried to get a drink, saw that it was iced over, and in one swift move, punched the ice with his right front paw just once, and got his drink. He wasn't playing in the water, or trying to tip the bowl, he just plain saw a problem and fixed it, quickly and efficiently. It was really quite astonishing!

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sea Snake!

While playing on the beach last weekend, the boys made a discovery. A bright green snake of some kind was out in the middle of the sand. Usually they are both very afraid of snakes. At home, even the shed skin of a black snake is likely to bring on a panic attack. This time, however, they were fearless. Both guys gave a try at killing it by grabbing it and giving the poor thing a vicious shaking. They even tried tugging it apart, but to no avail. It was one tough cookie!

Here's Jimmy proudly displaying his catch.......

Jimmy: Hmmmm....this snake tastes like rubber...I wonder why?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Man's Best Friend

When the Man waked up he said,
"What is Wild Dog doing here?"
And the Woman said,
"His name is not Wild Dog any more,
but the First Friend,
because he will be our friend
for always and always and always."

                                                                                             Rudyard Kipling

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Hat Thief!

We just returned from a long weekend at the beach. It's the time of year when we turn our condo over to the rental management company for the golf/summer season so it can earn its keep. We had gorgeous blue sky days, albeit very windy, and nice warm temperatures. By the time we had driven about 3 hours north toward home yesterday, the temperature had plummeted about 30 degrees. By the time we were back in Virginia, we were driving through wet snow. And this morning, we woke to an inch or so of snow coating the trees! While the snow is gorgeous, I am ready for the warm weather we left behind in Myrtle Beach.

Hopefully, in the next few days, I can catch up on all the blogs I've missed and see what everyone has been doing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

At The End of the Rainbow.....

....You might find a Leprechaun and his Pot of Gold....but for me, the true treasure is something else....

Happy St. Paddy's Day!
Don't drink too much green beer!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Left Overs

Looking for something to post today, I came across a couple of shots from our day at Morven Park. I'm not quite sure why they got left behind, but it does give me something for today. The boys are posed on a horse jump. I just loved all the woodgrain......

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Rude!

Jimmy wanted to go out in the backyard the other day. It's a very muddy mess! So once you go out, you don't come back in, well, easily, anyway. It requires some thorough paw cleaning. Unfortunately for Jimmy, he went out shortly before we were about to eat. That left him on the wrong side of the door at an important time to be in the kitchen!

You know I'm still out here, right?!

Maybe if I move to this bigger, cleaner window, they'll let me in.....

How incredibly rude of us to eat without Jimmy, or so he thinks, at least!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

English as a Second Language

I've thought about writing this post a bunch of times. It's a topic that interests me but I am really not much of a writer here on the blog. My posts tend to be primarily photographic. It's much quicker that way and gives that instant gratification and sense of accomplishment ;-)

It amazes me how much of our language Jimmy and Wilson actually pick up on. There is of course the run of the mill stuff we deliberately teach them like Sit, Stay, Down, and Come. They definitely know what these words mean, regardless of whether they do what we ask. But it's the words and even phrases they pick up from everyday chatter that really amaze me.

Let me regale you with a few examples.....

When it's time for a walk, I have three options for leaving the house....via the backdoor into the yard, via the door that leads into the garage, or via the front door (a real rarity). I ask, "Wanna go for a walk?" to get things started. All dogs know those words! The boys hop up and the frenzy begins. Oh, boy! Oh, boy! We're going out! Usually they assume it's going to happen through the back door and head that way. I'll say, "Nope! We're going through the garage..." and before I can even get out of my chair, they've switched directions and are waiting at the other door. Then I remember I left the leashes in the back yard and say, "Oops, We're going out the back....." and, zoom, they are waiting at the back door again!

When we return from our walks, we have the same options....through the garage or heading around the side of the house to the gate into the back yard. I can be standing around talking to a neighbor and say, "OK, boys! Around back!" and they will dash around the side of the house and wait for me to open the gait.

On Tuesday nights, Jimmy and I usually have agility class. I get home from work earlier than usual and take the guys for a walk, give them dinner (another word they know even if you whisper it!) and get ready. I'll tell Jimmy, "It's school tonight!" While I'm upstairs, he goes and sits by the door to the garage and waits.

A couple Wilson is famous for....His best buddy Mousse (a chocolate lab, of course!) lives a few blocks away. Just ask Wilson, "Wanna visit Mousse?" and you'd better have the leash on! He takes off like a streak and ends up on Mousse's doorstep a few minutes later. The same is true if you ask him, "Wanna go swimming?". He just about sprints to the neighborhood lake!

Jimmy know exactly which toy to get when I say, "Get your Squeekie!". He flies to the toy basket and gets the big blue Cuz....never Wilson's little red Cuz. He also knows, "Find your John!" and runs in search of wherever John might be in the house.

 They know "Last bite!" and "All gone!" means any hope of more snacking is over and they leave the kitchen.

They both know "Bedtime!" and head upstairs before the TV is even off!

Now, of course, dogs are the ultimate masters of body language and I am sure they cue into subtle movements we make while we speak, but they really do have a pretty good grasp of what's going on!

I could come up with lots more examples, but I've already made you read way more than is usual for my blog. So! How about your dogs? What phrases have they picked up from everyday life?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Weekend Report - The Season Opener

Well, our first weekend of agility is behind us. As always, I go into it with high hopes, dreaming of getting more of the needed Double-Q's* for our championship. Things started out well enough with a Q (and even 5th place) in Standard Saturday morning. But, alas, it was not meant to be. We had no more Qs (qualifying runs) the rest of the weekend. Jimmy and I share the blame fairly evenly. He popped a weave pole too soon in Saturday's Jumpers run, a very unusual mistake for him. Then Sunday's Standard run had a tricky ending which I botched magnificently! I planted a late front-cross, lost my balance and sense of where I was and that was that. Jimmy didn't know what I wanted and rightly so. With Jumpers, I came out of the ring thinking we had Q'd because I hadn't seen/heard the bar Jimmy knocked down. I get out of the ring, and my friend who was running the video camera for me (Thanks Chris!) says too bad about the pole and I was like WHAT?!.....Big Sigh.

* For those of you who are not agility folks, Double-Qs (or QQs) are when you qualify (make zero mistakes) in both of your runs (Standard and Jumpers) in the same day. You need to accomplish this 20 times in order to earn your Master Agility Championship. Some people make this requirement look like a breeze. I am not one of those people! You also need to accumulate 750 speed points but fortunately they happen in any run in which you qualify, it doesn't have to be a Double-Q. We are well on our way to having enough of those because Jimmy is a speedy little guy!

So, for your entertainment, here are my runs:

Saturday's  Masters Standard run, clean and speedy, giving us 26 more speed points.....

Saturday's Masters Jumpers with the weave pole pop....(Thanks go to Sandy for videoing this one!)

Sunday's Masters Standard with the clutzy handler at the end....

And finally, Sunday's Masters Jumpers with just one bar down...The end was incredibly fun, tunnel to the chute to another tunnel, super fast!

I have a tendency to get pretty bummed out when we aren't very successful, and that is a flaw in my personality. In truth, I should be very happy (and I am!) that both days Jimmy gave me a beautiful table and both days a lovely dogwalk contact. Those have hurt us in the past and this weekend he was perfect. Also, he had a nice 30 minute professional massage when we were done on Sunday. He was found to be in pretty good shape, just a couple of sore spots that were worked out. His iliopsoas that he pulled last summer seemed to be fine. That is really the best news of the whole weekend!

Tracking Jimmy's MACH progress:
Excellent B JWW legs: 24  Now he's working on his MXJ3!
Excellent B STD legs: 14. We earned our MX and are working on MX2 now.
Double Q's: 8 (out of 20 double-Q's needed for a MACH.... 40 Percent!)
MACH Points: 587 (out of 750 speed points needed for a MACH...... 78 Percent!)

Time 2 Beat legs: 6 (out of 15 needed for his T2B) 48 points (out of 100 needed) 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Snow Fencing

Here's what I imagine (and hope) will be the last snow shot of the year......

Wilson was not pleased about posing in the extra-slushy snow. Oh, the things he has to do to earn his keep!

This weekend kicks off the agility trial season for Jimmy and me. Despite having been trialing for about the past seven years now, I still get butterflies in my stomach. Please send lots of Double-Q karma my way.

Have a great weekend, Everyone!
(Qs or no Qs, I know I'll be having fun!)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Really, Officer......

......I haven't been drinking! Could I do this if I had been?

Yesterday, the big snowstorm headed our way was touted to be a doozy, even for the Washington, DC area. There was much media fanfare (of course!). Now the mountains just to the west of us (the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah) truly did get clobbered, but here the temperatures were in the mid-30's all day. The snow melted pretty much as fast as it came down. It was a very slushy mesh. I had hopes of lots of great photos, but the boys really didn't care to be outside. And it was so wet, I didn't want my camera out in it.
And besides....isn't really time to start looking at pictures of daffodils and crocus?!

Here's a footprint shot of Wilson. There appears to be a bit of a hitch in his get-along. The shallow snow lets you really notice it. Not to worry though, Wilson was recently checked at the vet (full x-rays!), and has a tad of arthritis. There's nothing too serious going on, and they felt he was in good shape for almost ten.

One more snowy shot tomorrow and then maybe we can move on to spring!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Battle of the Bed

The back of our house is pretty much one big room. To the left side is the family room, to the right, the kitchen. There's no divider what so ever. About at the midpoint, we have a large, round dog bed. It's big enough for both dogs, but they really don't like to share. It's funny to watch them scheming on how to get to be the one on the bed. If they are coming downstairs for the first time in the morning, it becomes a race to see who gets there first. A lot of mornings, Jimmy comes downstairs before Wilson to ensure he gets the primo real estate. Wilson will show up a bit later and give Jimmy a dirty look as he goes on past and settles for the nearby rug. But, lest you feel sorry for Wilson, he's not without his own devices. The rug he settles on is right by the back door. So Wilson will take a peek outside, give a low woof or two, and this will bring Jimmy flying over to see what Wilson "sees", which is nothing. Now Jimmy's off the bed, and Wilson runs over and plops down. Neener! You fell for it again, Jimmy!

Here's a couple of photos to set the scene. In this example, Jimmy was the winner. John came downstairs and was in the kitchen half. Any potential for food is going to draw Wilson off the bed and closer to the possibility of a bite!

Jimmy: Yes! I feel smug!
And, of course, they've always got the chair and the sofa, when the bed is occupied! But it's all about being the winner!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brain Freeze?

Jimmy likes the icy crust off the top of the outdoor water bowl......

OH! Damn! I've got a sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia!

Friday, March 1, 2013


I've talked about our walks on the W&OD trail several times. It's our primary place to walk because, one, it's so convenient being directly behind my house,  two, it's a lot more entertaining than walking the sidewalks in the neighborhood, and, three, I can get in a bit of off-leash time in certain sections (Shhh! That will be our little secret!).  This park is what is known as a linear park and runs from just outside Washington, DC to Purceville, Va., a total of 45 miles long. But it is only 100 feet wide. Within that narrow width, it has a narrow band of trees/scrub, then a paved portion for the bikes, another narrow band of trees/scrub, a gravel portion for the horses (a very, very rare sight these days!), and one final narrow band of trees/scrub. There are sections without all the greenery, but that's how it is where I do most of my walking. And on either side of the park is a bit of neighborhood common area, then houses. So now that you have a mental picture of the trail......

We always walk on the gravel horse trail as it has much less traffic, usually only a jogger or two. As soon as Wilson gets his freedom, he acts like a teenager at the mall with his parents. That is, he pretends he's not with us! He quickly shoots through the outer band of trees and onto the common area. He keeps traveling in the same direction and keeps up, just not with Jimmy and me! I guess we embarrass him.

Here he is....Mr.Independent!

Wilson: I can't be seen with them! What will my friends think?!

Have a great weekend, Everyone!
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