Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Hear Queen Playing in the Background & I Don't Know Why

OK, maybe I do know. This past Sunday, under Judge Judith Goodin at the Lake Shore KC shows in Crete, IL, Watson finished his championship, becoming CH. Shogun's The Good Doctor. (Ruth - this occurred despite us having left the super suit at home. Honest, I meant to pack it, but when we got home, it was waiting by the door where I'd left it.) All points owner-handled by me - can you tell I'm proud of myself?

We had a fairly relaxing weekend. Although we had to get up early on Saturday to drive the 3 hours to Crete and still be there in time to set up and groom, we did get to sleep in on Sunday, since we didn't show until after 2. Saturday did not go as planned for Watson's camp. (Way to go Subway, though!) So when the judge pointed at us on Sunday, there was much rejoicing. Once again, I want to thank Helen and Otto, without whom there would be no Watson, and Jim Fankhauser, who has provided support and encouragement along the way. Thanks also to the many new friends that we've gotten to know while showing. OK, I know this isn't the Oscars or anything...I'm just still high as a kite! Oh, the excitement of it all!

Watson's 2nd birthday is coming up, so we'll give him at least a couple of weeks off while we busily arrange hip/elbow xrays and other health clearances. (Yes, I know they don't all have to wait until age 2, but we've been a little busy: moving, showing, finding tenants, hunting, and finishing up the title!) We'll let him savor the taste of victory for a while before we put him back to work.

Meanwhile, Michael & Woo are planning to get "back on the wagon" for hunt training as soon as the holidays are over with.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

We've had a lovely Thanksgiving Day. Lots of family at our house. Michael's parents brought their dog, Copper, a handsome young Golden. He and Watson have had a great time playing outside together in the snow (yes, SNOW!) but get a little too rambunctious inside. Getting dinner on was a relatively low-stress event, all things considered. The Moms very kindly helped, while Michael put together the new bed so my parents would have somplace to sleep. The workload seemed unexpectedly light, despite the need for an unanticipated trip to the grocery store first thing this am.

I even made a new dog biscuit recipe after dinner, with ground beef. The dogs seem quite enamored of the new biscuits, and hopefully they will work well as bait for Watson at this weekend's event. Also did a bit of grooming. Watson really enjoyed having an audience (some folks came downstairs to chat while I groomed). Unfortunately, his enjoyment translates into a lot of shimmying around on the table, making for a none too effective grooming session, but when it's just the two of us, he's usually very good these days. Actually, I did end up making a good effort on ears and nails, though, so not a total loss.

We're looking forward to a possible trip to the dog park tomorrow, getting everyone a little exercise. Hope the weather will cooperate. Saturday the family will go our separate ways again. For now, I'm just thankful to have had a mostly relaxing day with the relatives and dogs.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

So much for NaBloPoMo

Well, I'm out. Completely forgot to blog yesterday. If I were more organized-- like if I had set a reminder in Outlook every day during November telling me to blog-- this might have worked. Still fun, though, and I'll keep trying (in the spirit of NaBloPoMo) for the rest of the month, anyway.

Tomorrow we are doing the UKC show in Ixonia. I obtained temporary registration numbers for the boys last week to allow us to participate. All I had to do was fax in names, genders and breeds, and the numbers came back the next day. Not sure how I feel about the fact that they didn't require me to provide a pedigree (though I know that would be required, along with proof of registration on another registry since the boys' parents aren't UKC reg'd), but it sure was quick and easy.

So today is prep day. Watson has had his bath and is in his "super suit." Wooster is getting his bath as I write this in preparation for his "debut" tomorrow. Then he'll get to wear his new super suit-- thanks Gramma!-- for the first time.

I'm looking at this as a practice match, so very low pressure. I'm told I can dress down. Should be fun. I'm sure I'll be posting results tomorrow!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Big Bad Bill

Well, I have spent a good chunk of the evening drafting correspondence to WI legislators regarding the proposed "Dog Purchaser Protection Act." After speaking with a legislative aide last month, who had assured me this bill would be amended for the better before being introduced, I was later contacted and informed that, actually, the bill was being introduced as is, with all of its many flaws.

Although I do not currently breed dogs, I know many people who I consider to be quality hobby breeders. The regulations that would be imposed by this bill are singularly unnecessary with respect to these hobby breeders and would impose burdensome requirements on them in the event something goes wrong. For example, under certain circumstances, such a breeder would be required to replace a puppy within 10 days with another dog of "equivalent value." As many of you know, this is completely unworkable for a hobby breeder who does not maintain an "inventory" of puppies for the buyer to choose from. And what does "equivalent value" mean anyway? Does it mean the hobbyist would have to replace a "pet" puppy with this or her pick puppy, if this was the only puppy the breeder still had from the litter?

One of many problems with this bill.

While protecting dogs and consumers from puppy millers is an admirable goal, this law would actually diminish the choices available to Wisconsinites, as reputable breeders, being unable to meet the requirements of the new law, fall away from breeding. Ultimately, it will be a detriment to consumers. I understand that resuce organization have concerns about being caught by this bill as well. Frankly, for those reasons and others, it seems unlikely to benefit the dogs much either.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Long Day, Sweet Dreams

Woke up early this am...around 4. Way too early for my taste, especially when the alarm is set for 6. Never got back to sleep until around 5. I was brooding about Wisconsin's new proposed "puppy lemon law" and about a hearing I had coming up this Friday. Every time I started to drift off again, one of the boys would start snoring. And not that gentle soothing snore they do, either. More like an entire sawmill. Life with Clumbers, eh?

Long day at work. Only improved by productive discussions with employer and cancellation of the aforementioned Friday hearing. Vegged all evening (a rarity)...remembered to blog...off to bed. (Hopefully tonight, any snoring will be only in my dreams!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

One Good Thing

The only good thing about today is that I figured out, in my dog handling class, that if the bait is homemade (and has nothing raw in it), I don't mind putting it in my mouth. This is like discovering I have a 3rd hand. I'm very pleased with myself. Happily, Watson seems to adore my homemade peanut butter treats, so we appear to be all set!

OK, one other good thing happened today. Watson was cuddling up while I typed this. Makes typing difficult but it was nice...until he turned his head and gooped me good with all the water he saved up from his big drink a minute ago.

Ahh...life with Clumbers.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Wow, I almost forgot to blog--it's early in the NaBloPoMo game to be doing that!

We (Watson & I, that is) are entered for the Lakeshore KC dog show Thanksgiving weekend. Should be a fun time. It will have been almost 2 months since our last show at the end of September. Since that time, it has been thistle season. Not good for coats! So we will have to work on that between now and then, as much as possible. And start gaiting again, maybe even go to class! We've slacked off quite a bit since September.

We may even be doing a UKC show for practice in the next couple of weeks. They seem to hold them pretty routinely around here, and they are supposed to be somewhat more laid back than AKC events, so I thought it would at least be good practice. Plus, Wooster can participate in the "altered" class. Now there's a descriptive term for my dear Woo!

Michael suggests a future blog topic should be "unreasonable husbands and the women who love them." D'ya suppose he means me?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dog Fair Day

Well, we just returned from the Dog Fair. The folks we had invited to join us fizzled out at the last minute, so it was just Michael & I. Since I was most interested in seeing the dogs, anyway, I didn't mind too much; however, they missed out on the homemade biscuits I brought to share with their pooches. It was probably good from another perspective, too, since I was able to talk to the exhibitors without feeling like I had to entertain anyone.

First, we talked with Sharon & Sue, who exhibit their Clumbers every year. They seemed to be having a good time. If Goldie and Win were tired of meeting their adoring public, they seemed to perk up a bit at the sight of homemade biscuits. (In case you were wondering, yes, I've been distributing these like mad. It's all part of my grand scheme to eventually build a dog biscuit empire. Don't tell my husband.) The Clumbers were, as always, a BIG hit, and doing their best to lure unwary passersby with their cute, innocent expressions. Great job, Sharon, Sue, Goldie & Winston.

We also met some very nice Newfie people. They own a local business, and we recognized them from their shop. They were grooming their adorable Newf Count Baisie, who was laying on the grooming table-- there was almost more dog than table! I picked up a couple of ideas for dealing with Wooster's extra-persistent undercoat, which was nice.

We also took some time to talk to a couple of Irish setter breeders, who talked to us about some of the finer points of conformation in their breed. I knew them from my conformation classes with Watson, so enjoyed catching up with them. They're a mother and daughter team, and the mom has been in Irish setters since 1969. Unlike Clumbers, they were telling us they've seen litters of 17 pups. (I think this is rare-- but 10 are not at all uncommon!) This probably explains why they said they also only have a litter about every 18 months!

So it was educational, plus just good fun petting all the dogs. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon! (Oh, and we really liked their new venue at the Alliant Energy Center, too!)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Dog Is Smarter Than Your...

OK, some things must be said. While I realize democrats have made some famous gaffes (I'm thinking of Jack "I'm a jelly doughnut" Kennedy and Al "I invented the Internets" Gore here), I am simultaneously amused and horrified by a factual gaffe made recently by our Vice President, Mr. Cheney. You can read about it here (naturally, I read about it first on BBC's new site). Speaking to a meeting of the World Affairs Council in Dallas, TX, Mr. Cheney criticized Hugo Chavez, urging the citizens of Peru-- yes, Peru-- to expect more from their leadership. No small irony in that, I think.

This reminds me of a 2002 incident in which President Bush famously said, during a high-level discussion about Swedish peacekeeping forces in the Palestinian Territories, "I don't know why you're talking about Sweden. They're the neutral one. They don't have an army." Despite being tactfully corrected, the President continued to insist that Sweden is neutral and has no army. You can read the whole story here. (I should add that this is not a website I frequent, just the first one that came up when I googled this incident.)

And I'm not just upset about this because of my Swedish (really, its more like mixed-bag Scandinavian) heritage. I think Americans deserve leadership that can pass geography 101. I've heard many people confuse Sweden and Switzerland in my day, I just think we should elect people who are smart enough not to do that. I think I deserve leadership that will not embarrass me in front of other world leadership. Why should, for example, the Iranians take seriously a leader who doesn't know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland? (Of course, I imagine they also chuckle about the fact that our President pronounces nuclear as if it were spelled "new-kya-lar," a personal pet peeve of mine.)

You would think that someone in Mr. Cheney's position would know the name and at least the approximate location of one of the main oil-exporting countries in the Americas. How insulting to the Venezuelans and Peruvians that he doesn't know one from the other. Perhaps if we tell them he doesn't understand basic gun safety either, they might understand.

Until then, I can only say, move over Hilary, Barak and John: Wooster and Watson for Pres. and Vice Pres. Can they really do any worse than the administration we have now?


Well, since working on the weekend is a drag, I thought I ought to take a little time out from work to fulfill my NaBloPoMo obligation for Day 3.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I recently baked some dog biscuits for the boys: peanut butter & garlic/cheese. We went on our usual pilgrimage to the dog park this morning, and I tool along some peanut butter biscuits, thinking it would help us work on our recall. Well, it did and it didn't.

Wooster picked up immediately on the fact that I had a pocket full of treats. I have rarely been so popular with this dog. He would run about 10 yards in front of me, then turn around and come back (without being called, I must emphasize). I broke the treats up into little pieces, but even so I doubt that he burned off more calories than he took in this morning.

Watson, on the other hand, could have cared less. Oh, sure, he was happy to have a treat when offered, but they didn't seem to be a motivating factor in his decision whether to come when called. Figures my plan only works with the dog that's already trained.

We met a couple of Gordon setters in the park this morning. Looked like one adult and one (approximately) half-grown puppy. Watson tried playing with the puppy, but we think the Gordon thought Watson would be easy to push over and got freaked out when things actually went the other way. Then his person got freaked out when her puppy hit the ground. He was fine, actually-- just startled, probably because Watson weighed a great deal more than he had estimated when he initiated the toppling-- but she took off the other way. So much for making friends of other people with rare sporting breeds...

Regardless, it was, as always, a great day at the dog park. Tomorrow is Badger Kennel Club's "Annual Dog Fair!" Time to go heckle Sue and Sharon as they educate the public about our wonderful breed...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Death to the Bumpkins!

Reasons for which, to those of you who know me and understand the depths of my affection for our quadrupeds, will become apparent as you read on.

Michael & I moved "to the country" last year. Ok, so we live in a rural subdivision. But there are no street lights, and there's a cornfield one house over...honest. And it's quiet here, other than the nearly incessant lawnmowers of the proverbial "Joneses." And while we generally enjoy country living, there are a couple of drawbacks.

The most frequently noticeable drawback is the lack of deliverable pizza, namely, Glass Nickel. We miss Glass Nickel. I'm sure they experienced a marked decrease in revenue after we moved late last year. However, the drawback we're concerned with here today is, as alluded to above, bumpkins. I have such an aversion to bumpkins that I don't even know if I'm spelling their moniker correctly. Most of our neighbors are very nice, however....

Specifically, on my drive home tonight, I very nearly squashed a medium-sized black and white dog of nondescript breed in front of a farmhouse. The same farmhouse that, not 3 weeks ago, featured a large sign out front: "Puppies for sale." Again, no breed specified. As the dog crossed in front of me, I honked my horn for several seconds to alert the person I could see going into the house to the fact that I had narrowly avoided killing her pet. Apparently, this was of no concern, however. She merely continued on into the house after barely glancing in my (and the dog's) direction, as the dog frolicked in the cornfield across the street.

I will never understand this. We have a fenced yard, MANY leashes and, if all else fails, microchips. We take every precaution against our dogs getting lost or injured. Meanwhile, the farmer down the street can't even be bothered to retrieve her loose dog who, in addition to being in danger itself, was creating a hazard for me. The puppies must have been an "income-producing" measure, since she seems to be not that fond of dogs.

I have called the sheriff several times about a "small animal auction" that I pass most nights coming back to the country from work. They have a large pasture full of many different kinds of animals-- goats, donkeys, ponies (or maybe mini horses?), geese, you name it. The first time I saw a loose goat next to the road, I took great pains to stop and inform the bumpkins about it. "You here about the goat? You're about the 20th person today. Once he gets big enough, he won't be able to slip out. Don't worry, he won't go in the road." What? Did the goat tell you he wasn't interested in crossing the road? I no longer stop-- just call the relevant authorities in the hopes that someday these people will get the message: it's a hazard to the animal, as well as to passing motorists.

Now I realize that it's not only country-dwellers who can be irresponsible with their pets. We went nearly every summer evening for 5 years to a dog park near a busy interesection in enlightened Madison, and rarely did a night go by when we didn't see someone let their dog-- unleashed-- right out of the park to head to the car, despite the signage saying, "Leash dogs before exiting." As if that weren't common sense in the first place!

Whatever the locale, there is no excuse for this irresponsible behavior. It is a sad comment on society-- and the role of individual responsibility in our society-- when so many people don't take better responsibility for the living creatures they profess to love.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bake me a biscuit

Well, I have recently revived an old tradition of making homemade dog biscuits. I haven't done it since we moved or even since we got Watson. I don't think I've baked anything for the dogs since Kipper died. I seem to get in the baking mood when there's a lot of stress in my life, and this is unlikely to be an exception. (Still sitting on an unsold condo and nearing the end of our fiscal year at work.) Michael first observed this while I was in law school-- famously procrastinating studying for finals-- and it appears to be the case.

Anyway, the dogs seem to be enjoying the fruits of my labor. The peanut butter/applesauce is very popular, though I don't think my substitution of steel-cut oats in place of corn meal yielded as good a result as I was hoping. They also seem to enjoy the garlic and cheese. (Actually, I tasted that one myself... what??? It's all human grade-- mostly organic-- ingredients. And not too bad for something that has no sugar or salt in it!)

One of these days, either my stress level will go down, or maybe I'll start baking for people again. Either way, the dogs are digging the status quo! Too bad THEY can't bake...