19 November, 2009
Each time we have gone to the post I have had different goals for the run. Our first time out I wanted to leave the field with a score - and we did. Second time out I wanted to have a straight fetch, tight turn at the driveaway panel and a nice pen - another successful run. I worried I had set my goal a little too high this weekend because I wanted to accomplish a shed on the trial field for the first time. Lucy has more shedding experience than I do, but we work nicely together and I was optimistic.
We went to the post and Lucy was very excited. I sent her to the right with a "shhh" and she was off like a bullet. We were running two scotties and a coop. Her outrun and lift were perfect, on the fetch she was a bit in the bubble and the pace was a little fast. I wasn't terribly concerned because I wanted her to feel powerful in the beginning as I knew the sheep had been heavy on the first leg of the drive for everyone, there seemed to be a 2-direction draw right at the driveaway panel and I wanted Lucy to be able to establish a good push on her sheep after the lift. The rest of her fetch was nice and straight, settled her down. A tight turn at the post and a good first leg of the drive. It was a very tricky first leg with several different draws and a few dips in the terrain the sheep were working to avoid. Lucy pushed her sheep through the drive panels and we started the crossdrive. I had some trouble with depth perception and the sheep were high. I realized it and sent Lucy to correct it but she was unwinding her comebye flank a little so it took a bit to get things back online. The last half of the crossdrive was very nice and made the panels handily, then a tight turn and straight return leg to the pen.
The sheep marched into the pen except one ewe turned on me as I was closing the gate. I leaned at her to let her know no sheep would be leaving the pen - and slipped in the mud, falling down. I was laughing and I think the spectators thought I'd broken a leg. Well I hopped back up and slammed the pen shut, then it was off to the shedding ring for a single taken any way. It had been mixed results so far for singles. I let Lucy push the sheep into the ring straight away from the draw, then flanked her around and the sheep lined out nicely. I had planned to hold the coop as she had been lagging off the scotties during our entire run, but a little pressure from me and a sizeable gap opened up with one of the scotties singled. I called Lucy into the new gap on the fly and she did just great. She whipped past my leg and turned on the single with great intensity, and everyone started whooping and clapping. We had done it! Our first shed on the trial field together! I sent her to look back and put the packet back together, then started them to the exhaust. I called Lucy to my feet and gave her a well-deserved pet for a job well done. She was dancing with joy and her eyes were sparkling with excitement.
Diane took a few pictures to document our first ever shed! Unfortunately she did not get the part where I fell down at the pen. Maybe next time.
Called her and she's come in about halfway, the single has already started moving off her.
Flanking around me to cover the single who wants to rejoin her friends.
Lucy holding the single and looking quite pleased with herself.
After we were done exhausting and a few more runs had gone, I saw a partial score sheet and was shocked to see Lucy and Bob's Mojo had both earned 84's... the next dog back was 10 points off that. Mojo was sitting in 1st and Lucy in 2nd (Mojo had a cleaner fetch). Then it was time for me to scribe, so I was out of earshot and just concentrating on paying attention to the judge for every run. After the class was over the final scores posted and a fellow competitor came running over to say congratulations... it turned out those 84s stood up to the whole class. Lucy earned 2nd place in open and our first ever finals points together.
Lucy is an inspiration to me. She is so willing, eager and enthusiastic. She does everything I ask with love and gives 110%. While she is not the most powerful dog in the world, and will unwind flanks from time to time, every dog has faults. As a handler I have millions more faults than Lucy and she carried me that day. I am so proud of her and of her success coming 2nd place with a tied score. What a GOOD GIRL.
That'll do, Lucy.
27 October, 2009
Portrait of Lucy by Diane Pagel, taken at MacDonald's trial
Our first time out was at MacDonald’s a few weeks ago. Lucy listened very well, but I hesitated to fix my fetch line too aggressively and my score reflected it. The drive, and especially the crossdrive, however were lovely. She had one of the nicest crossdrive lines of the day, which I credit to having walked the course carefully and chosen good visual landmarks for my line. We timed out trying to shed, but there were only 3 sheds the entire day so I was not too troubled by it. Overall I was thrilled with Lucy. Her attitude was terrific, she listened very well and had I been more aggressive in my handling on the fetch the score would have been more respectable. However, my goal going into the run was to leave the field with a score, and we did!
Our second time out was this past Sunday at Whidbey. A constant drizzle all day let up just as the Open class started running. The first run of the class, Ron Green and Tait, were the only ones to complete the course and shed. A few issues lining-out the sheep and at the edge of the shedding ring influenced their score, but Ron should be proud of Tait.
We were the 13th team or so to the post. Lucy was quiet and intense as we walked out, spotting her sheep at the set-out while we went to the post. I sent her left and she cast out wide and deep as she made her way up the field. Her fetch was nice and straight after a soft lift that kept the sheep from bolting. Many dogs lost their sheep either partway or all the way to the set-out as the draw was very heavy at the top end of the course. We turned the post a little too tight, with one sheep squeezing between me and the cone. Very nice first leg of the drive and most of the crossdrive. The draw again is very heavy on the crossdrive and for dogs who were too hot on the sheep or not in control the sheep would bolt for the set-out. We were a smidge high at the very end of the crossdrive, skimming the panels rather than making them. They were a bit tough to judge, being grey metal gates against the grey sky in afternoon light/rain. Then a very tight turn at the crossdrive panels and a nice straight leg to the pen. Sadly, my judgment was off and though the line was straight, it was about 5’ high. Next was a nearly perfect pen, no fiddling around, just slow steady quiet work.
The sheep really liked Lucy and were quite relaxed. The pen and first leg of the drive took a little time, so we were not in great shape going to the shed. I had just set on enlarging a gap when time was called, but felt really good about our work in the shedding ring. The sheep were settled and did not jog around the ring or get upset, which was an improvement from last time. Lucy ended up with a 4th place finish. I was ecstatic with her performance. She listened beautifully and was steady and quiet but authoritative behind her sheep. The sheep really liked her style and we did not struggle the way some teams did with sheep constantly bolting in one direction or another. Though light, the sheep were honest and if the dog was right, nice runs were to be had. Perfect evidence was Linda DeJeong’s run with her Michael – quiet, calm and smooth.
All in all, I am very proud of Lucy. Thanks to the support of Diane and other members of the herding community, I have opportunities unlike any other to participate in a sport I am growing to love. Many thanks also to Sue MacDonald and Susan Crocker for being such supportive trial hosts for me as a new handler running Open for the first few times.
14 August, 2009
The fun began on Lopez, our stop prior to reaching the mainland at Anacortes.
I was riding on the leading end of the boat, hanging out to take photos during the docking. I took some photos that will be a great reminder to me of the skills the WSF staff have for squeezing 2 18-wheelers side-by-side in the center isle of the ferry with only about 2' to spare on the stern of the vessel. At their closest, the trucks were only a few inches apart from eachother as well as a few inches from the walls of the ferry. The parking job took plenty of jockeying around and was met with applause from the onlookers when completed. Truly impressive. The truckers seemed surprised as well.
While we were watching the super-truck-jockeying, some people amused themselves participating in a game I had not seen before: toss a coin into the target painted on the dock. There are thousands of coins on this platform and it is somewhat entertaining watching kids try to hit the target. I tried to keep the wildlife implications of all those coins going into the water out of my mind.
As I watched the kids (and parents) tossing coins, I heard one young teenager (perhaps 14?) making a ruckus about not having any coins to toss. His parents were unsympathetic, as was I, to be honest. However, I would not have imagined his solution. At his age, I definitely would not have come to the same conclusion. What did he decide?
Look in the lower right corner. Can't make it out? That's alright - I couldn't believe my eyes -- luckily for us both I had a zoom lens. Yep... its not a coin... its...
Yes... a dollar bill. In the shape of a paper airplane. What he didn't account for is that airplanes have wings, which experience lift based on wind. Sadly, his efforts were a "wash".
Once the coins and bills were tossed, and the trucks were loaded, it was time to motor back to Anacortes. The voyage was largely unremarkable except for 2 noteworthy discoveries. First, I saw my dream home. Check it out, its even blue!
Second, I discovered that the cormorants are nesting in the pilings at the ferry dock. The only place you can really see this is from the ferry car decks. The passenger decks are too high and the nests don't face the docks. Of course, I couldn't help snapping a few shots of adults and their nearly fledged chicks.
The 2 gray fluffs hiding in the shadows are chicks.
Someday maybe I'll fledge too.
The trip began with a race to the ferry after the Shedding Clinic on Sunday arriving near 11pm on Orcas. We fumbled to the resort in the dark, then packed in our gear in the dark and RAIN. Ugh. We spend a couple of days lounging around the resort, enjoying the saunas and soaking pools fed by the natural hot springs.
On Wednesday we took a little inter-island adventure up to Friday Harbor. The ferry passed a pleasure sailing yacht - holy smokes that was a big boat.
On the way to Friday Harbor, we stopped at Shaw.
Shaw is the smallest island served by the WA ferries in the SJI. The last time I visited Shaw was in the early 1990's and the ferry dock was operated by a group of Franciscan nuns who also ran the general store. I raced to the forward end of the boat (WA State Ferries are all double-ended vessels, so the bow and stern are interchangeable) with my camera, and was disappointed to see some teenage or early twenties doodlehums running the dock. At least the sign was as I remembered.
Then arrived at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. My first visit to "the big island".
Once on San Juan, we visited English Camp as well as American Camp and 4th of July beach. At the beach, the girls got to swim and I spent a lot of time reading my book in the sun and admiring clouds.
In the 1800s, San Juan was occupied by both the British and the Americans, with a great deal of disagreement about whether the land belonged to the British Empire or was part of the new American West. The treaty designated the boundary to be at the "channel between the islands and the mainland." Well, there are 2 channels - Rosario strait and Haro strait. The British insisted the "channel" of the treaty was Rosario strait, leaving the islands in British hands, while the Americans argued the "channel" was Haro strait, making the islands part of the US. Until the dispute was resolved, the English occupied what is now British Camp National Historical Area on the north end of San Juan, and the Americans held what is now American Camp National Historical Area on the south end.
British camp was a nice stop, with a manicured formal garden featuring these black-eyed susans,
and multiple preserved original buildings. Of course, the colors are flying as well.
We also visited Roche Harbor and the outdoor masonic temple there which also acts as a mausoleum for the McMillan family. Bruce took a bunch of cool photos but they are all on his camera. You will likely be able to see them on his blog by the end of the weekend.
The ferry ride back was sunny and beautiful, with the light glinting off the water like a million faceted diamonds.
Two days we visited the Eastsound Off Leash Area. It is tiny, but the girls enjoyed the chance to run free and play frisbee, sniff the sniffs and generally have fun. The resort is pet friendly but asks dogs are kept on-lead. While none of the other people who brought dogs seemed to cooperate with this requirement, I was diligent about it, so the girls needed a chance to romp freely.
I was greatly amused both by the yuppie poop-bag station, which included hand sanitizer:
As well as Magick's clear communications.
Please throw the frisbee soon:
I SAID PLEASE!!
We also went up Mt. Constitution one day, which is part of Moran State Park. It is the highest peak in the SJI and offers vistas of all the islands as well as Canada. The day was cloudy, foggy and cool - as you can see. At least the clouds were photogenic!
Macia and Sucia islands, in the distance is Vancouver, Canada.
Mt. Constitution also features an observation tower constructed of sandstone quarried on the north end of Orcas Island.
All in all it was a very nice visit. The ferry ride home was its own separate adventure, listed in my next entry.
Thanks to Scott, and to Diane for loaning Lucy to me, the days of gate-sorting-alone are behind me.
The clinic was a mixture of a little classroom/lecture/diagram work to learn the concepts and a lot of time spent in the field. At the beginning of the 3 days I couldn't even get a shed at all. This is always embarrassing when I am working a dog Scott trained and he knows darn well the dog already knows how to shed without my impedance.
The first day of the clinic was basically a disaster. I have the least stock sense of any of the handlers there and am one of very few to get zero in the way of an unassisted shed. After I learned not to be shy and go ahead to create a nice big gap in the sheep, I had much more success. We also learned the technique of calling the dog through and immediately allowing a flank to speed the dog's coming in. This was very helpful with Lucy given that she was slow to come in. She probably just didn't trust my novice, poor-handling self.
Scott showing me the ropes.
After almost 2 days of coaching, my second work on Saturday showed improvement. We divided the whole lot (20 sheep) by 2's, 3's and 5's all the way down to a single. Diane captured a few photos, here is the best one:
On the third day, Sunday, my brain was fairly well full. We each took an attempt (or several) at an international or marked shed. Though I did not complete my shed unassisted, I did get it down to only 2 unmarked sheep to slough off. I did not expect to complete a marked shed myself, and I did not disappoint. However, I was very happy with how much I learned and with Lucy's willingness to partner with me and tolerate my newness to shedding compared with her level of training.
Lucy went with Scott on Monday back to Canada so she might get a chance to run in the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals. I hope to go to Klamath Falls, OR for a weekend during the Finals as I have never been there before and it is not often so close to home. It is a way to see the top handlers from all over North America, including the illustrious teacher of the clinic this weekend, Scott Glen (and wife, Jenny Glen!).
I hope Lucy runs well for them, but I will miss her a bunch while she is away!
But what was the payoff of not playing on the blog?
A 4.0 GPA first semester back at school. Now, don't get used to seeing that - but treasure it now even for a single semester :)
Thanks for all your support my friends! I couldn't do it without you.
25 May, 2009
1. I've been in bed for 1 and 1/2 days with a fever and the flu.
2. The good news is I have a laptop, so that doesn't prevent me from doing homework.
3. Grades from last week came back - 100/100 on my civ paper and 100/100 on math homework.
4. Took my first math exam today - 95% - not too shabby.
5. The people in my civ class are *weird* and also lack the ability to communicate in written english language.
6. Now I sleep more. Zzzzzzzz.
17 May, 2009
The first week of school, and that went surprisingly well. I finished the last of my homework today and have the day off tomorrow from all things math-and-writing. Yay!
Unfortunately on Monday I found out my identity has been stolen. Yep, some bastard is using my SSN + birthdate to open credit cards/loans by pretending to be me. I started the many-month process of repairing this problem and am waiting for the materials to come by mail for me to figure out the full extent of the damages.
Of course, then my student loans didn't disperse properly so I spent hours working on that. Turns out the promissory note filed online got "lost in cyberspace" so I completed another and the loan should disperse in the next few days to cover my tuition for summer.
Wednesday rolled around and my math class still wasn't set up properly to allow me to log in. The "professor" called me to let me know what was happening with this course... He sounds approximately 12-years-old. Not exactly great for my psyche ;) I left work a couple hours early to work on the student loan, identity and school issues. It took me 2 hours to get home due to multiple traffic accidents. Ah, the joys of wasted time.
By Wednesday night things were set up properly for me to log into my math class, where I discovered I had to plow through approximately 500 problems by Saturday. UGH.
The icing on the cake was stumbling off the stairs into the yard and tweaking my knee injury again so I hobbled around the house all day yesterday moaning and feeling sorry for myself.
So praise be, I finished my homework and just finished watching "The Princess Bride" to cheer up after a long week. Now I'm off to sleep and charge my batteries for next week. Wish me luck!
"You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it means."
. . .
"You be careful. People in masks can not be trusted."
16 May, 2009
Check out the love fest :)
Kane's best "Hi Aunt Monique" smile.
And check out the wrestle-mania-video:
Since when do Paddy and Magick curl up on the sofa snuggled together?
Because they need a break from wrestlemania and the puppy hasn't yet figured out how to jump onto the sofa. (That happened about 2 hours later...)
02 May, 2009
So here's the plan:
Monday - Thursday work at the clinic as usual.
Moniday evenings, teach 7-10pm. The training center owners have been nice enough to let me agree to work my own dogs in the classes I teach, freeing up yet another evening.
Fridays - one Friday per month will be private lessons
Sundays - Teach 6 hours on Sunday like normal.
We will see how this holds up. Summer semester I am taking 2 or 3 classes. Currently registered for 2 mind-numbing required courses for the degree program unrelated to my major. I need a Psych pre-req not offered through the degree program I'm enrolled in (wouldn't that have been nice to know in advance... human error by my advisor), so I may enroll in a separate course through a local community college to complete that as well.
We went to Maneki tonight for sushi to celebrate saying goodbye to money, free time and sleep. It was delicious, and I wonder how much fish was left in the kitchen by the time we left!
In other news, the disability hearing for my husband was one week ago. This was the culmination of 4 years of appeals and applications. It was emotionally draining and I've only now really recovered from the whole experience. It will take another 5 weeks before we get a decision back through the mail although the lawyer was optimistic. The lawyer gets paid if the claim is accepted, on a percentage basis of the back benefits.
I hope this will come through for us. It would really take the strain off financially to the point we could actually do a few things around the house and pay for the roof I just had to finance. It will also mean that he could get health care benefits which he seriously needs.
So this week is my last week of "freedom" before the school thing starts... and doesn't stop for YEARS. We will see if I make it through this time. Think good thoughts for me.
21 March, 2009
13 March, 2009
Originally I tried to read "Twilight" when it first came out. I tried, and failed - I couldn't get into it. Young Adult is not exactly my genre of choice. A few months ago, the rage went through the office and everyone was reading the saga. I tried again, but couldn't make it into the volume. Then for my birthday, a friend gave me a copy of "Twilight." I figured this was a sign, and vowed to make it through this time.
Well, after the first excruciating 300 pages or so, things improved. The book definitely plays (preys?) on my personality to a certain extent - taking me back to my teenage years when I really thought anything nice that happened to me was more than I ever deserved, and anything bad that happened to people I cared about was inevitably my fault. The one notable exception is Bella gets the hottest guy in school who is also the perfect forbidden fruit and her key to immortality - and I got a dorm room with an awful room mate.
I went ahead and read the other 3 books during the course of this week ("New Moon," "Eclipse," and "Breaking Dawn.")
I must say, by "Breaking Dawn," the author finally found her stride. The Young Adult genre sappiness is tuned down a bit, and instead of syrupy teenage romance we get a few glimpses of more mature interactions. The book was the right combination of suspenseful, supernatural, romantic and heartbreaking. While I can easily take or leave the first 3 volumes, I actually enjoyed "Breaking Dawn," and will likely turn around and read it again.
And yes, I'm a fast reader, but the fact I was able to get through all 4 books in 1 week while working 2 jobs should tell you they are VERY light reading.
21 February, 2009
Choose your "Top 10" in one of the following categories: Movies, Songs, Musicals, Cars, Bands or Sports.
You must provide at least one point to defend why the item makes your Top 10.
I challenge DeltaBluez Stockdogs, carefullyconstructednoise, My Hybrid Life.
My Top 10 - Movies
1. "When Harry Met Sally"
Probably my favorite movie of all time. Points for defense: excellent musical score, terrific one-liners (in response to the Jess: "Marriages don't break up on account of infidelity. It is just a symptom that something else is wrong.") Harry: "Well, that SYMPTOM is fucking my WIFE!" I also made $40 by re-creating the orgasm scene in a Shari's restaurant in college. $40 is a lot of money in college.
Also, it prominently features one of the greatest movies of all time (see 2.)
Lastly, sappy happy ending.
1b. (Yes, I'm cheating at my own game.) "The Princess Bride"
Tied for my favorite movie. Probably my most-quoted movie. This is a cheesy, beastly, goofy film for great laughs in any age. My go-to film for when I'm bummed out and need a good cheering-up. The best one-liners ever, Inigo: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
The rest are in no particular order.
Who can deny the snazzy dressing by Humphrey Bogart in this cinema classic. Timeless music, romance, heartbreak, betrayal, danger and war. How can you go wrong?
3. "The Silence of the Lambs"
Here began my love affair with Anthony Hopkins. No, he's not on the "List," but his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter is so haunting anyone can be swept away in this expertly crafted thriller. What makes a movie scary? When it could happen to YOU.
4. "Top Gun"
Yes, I know. 80's trash you might say. You would be wrong. This movie taught millions of teenagers what it really means to be a good wingman. Best line: Charlie: "Well if you were directly above him, how could you see him?" Maverick: "Because I was inverted."
Also, Val Kilmer is young, ripped and a total asshole. What's not to love?
The ultimate catharsis movie. This movie touches anyone with the all-too-normal fear of losing life as you know it. Robert DeNiro's deft performance allows the audience to forget this is a movie and feel they are peering into the most intense moments of several lives.
6. "The Usual Suspects"
Kevin Spacey is a genius, but I never realized it until this film. Ok, so the plot twist is a little predictable, but the cinematography is phenomenal. Next time you watch it, during the scene with the city view out the office window, check out the windows of the skyscrapers across the way.
7. "Spirited Away"
So I'm not a huge anime fan, but this film is worth watching. Lovely animation with outlandish characters (my favorites are the cinder fluffs). And of course, the child character overcoming adversity against all odds and learning the value and importance of hard work. Hmmm.... wonder why that plot appeals to me?
8. "The Shawshank Redemption"
Find me someone who likes drama, adores Morgan Freeman and digs a good plot twist who doesn't love SSD. I dare ya. The ending makes all the heartbreak worthwhile. Favorite scene: Andy DuFresne hijacking the loudspeaker system to play opera music while the guard is "pinching a loaf." It appeals to the compassionate side of me -perhaps everyone in Shawshank isn't innocent, but it reminds us that the system isn't always serving justice.
9. "Dirty Dancing"
Mmmmm. Love me some young, hot Patrick Swayze. Being the brainy (but not beautiful) girl in school, of course I love the fairy tale of falling in love with the bad boy on summer vacation. Another "don't judge a book by its cover" movie - seeing a theme here?
10. "The Sound of Music"
Hooray for music, love, dramatic escape and triumph over adversity. The cinematography is beautiful (the heart-shaped silhouette during "Somewhere in my Youth" is a favorite). Classy costuming and charming children. Gotta love it.
And, the runners up are: "National Velvet," "Hero," "To Have and Have Not," "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Fried Green Tomatoes," "A Beautiful Mind," "Lagaan," (I need a separate category for foreign films) "Seven Samurai," "The Hidden Fortress," "Dev," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," "Hitch," "Benny and Joon."
Ok, now bring what you've got!
07 February, 2009
I challenge carefullyconstructednoise to complete this challenge next!
1. My middle name is Alicia
2. My parents were never married
3. I am going back to school (scary!)
4. If I complete my degree, I will be the first person in my family to have any college degree
5. My household is dog-centric
6. I enjoy sheep herding with dogs because of the mental work-out it provides
7. People never accuse me of being nice
8. People always accuse me of being competent
9. I earned my LVT in 2002 entirely through self-study
10. Sometimes I think that life is passing me by
11. I have been married for over 10 years
12. My husband suffered a brain injury in 2003
13. I believe Paddy is the dog who changed my life
14. I swam with dolphins last month
15. I enjoy a good challenge
16. I am blessed with friends who mean the world to me
17. My commute to work makes me nuts!
18. While I feel like a natural leader, I don't particularly enjoy being a manager
19. I would far rather be respected than liked
20. I broke my finger in the hinge of a door at my favorite restaurant
21. I broke my arm as a kid during gymnastics practice
22. I used to compete in swimming, specializing in butterfly
23. One of my teenage jobs was as a lifeguard
24. I am still in touch with a few teachers from high school who changed my life
25. There has never been a dog fight in one of my training classes
26. One of my mantras is "All animals learn the same way"
27. I can drink most anyone under the table and have only had one hangover in my entire life (and THAT required a lot of work!)
28. My high school GPA was 3.99 - ruined by my AP Physics teacher
29. I turned down a full ride to a school I didn't want to attend and have always wondered if it was a mistake
30. Clarinet and voice are my native instruments
31. I was the drum major in high school and uber-band-nerd. I even went to drum major camp
32. Without the generosity of others I would never have gotten where I am today
33. Without the generosity of others I will never accomplish my next goals
34. It took years for me to find sushi worth loving, and now it is my favorite meal!
35. Cooking is a great way for me to relax
37. There are few ills that can't be cured by a good gimlet in the company of a GREAT friend
38. I fear my own mortality
39. My favorite color - and little girl's name - is Violet
40. I have a great sense of direction, but find Orlando, FL impossible to navigate