Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things I'm Thankful To My Parents For . . .

1. Raising me with excellent morals, ethics and family values
2. My mom, who attended every softball game, concert, awards ceremony, performance and "event" throughout my childhood
3. Always having plenty of good, healthy food to eat (even when money was tight)
4. Getting me a dog when I was 10 - that shaped my life forevermore
5. For encouraging me to be an avid reader - my life is infinitely better due to my love of reading (I can escape, I have learned tons, and I can always find the answer)
6. For teaching me that cleanliness is next to Godliness (but that clutter doesn't mean dirt)
7. For helping me get through TWO university degrees without complaining about going without so that I could pay for tuition and books
8. For encouraging a terrified 17 year old girl to live away from home for a year, because I wouldn't be who I am today without that
9. To my dad, for showing me that any man can be a father, but it takes an incredibly special man to be a DAD
10. For accepting the dogs and truly loving them and treating them with kindness, even though they mess up the house, chew shoes and do bad things from time to time

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wishful Wednesday

In the tradition of my Thankful Thursday posts, I am starting a new trend - Wishful Wednesday. Hopefully this new theme will keep me occupied for a while. I have so many wishes and so little time to list them all :)

But this week it's easy - I wish that I could take a super fast flight or train to get to the dog show. As it is, the drive is something like 6.5 hours, which is basically a full day. UGH! Work in potty breaks (for the dogs and I) and gas breaks (for the car, not me) and it makes for a long day (or evening). If the show goes late on Sunday, I run into the issue of having to drive home in the dark, in relatively heavy traffic. That thought is less than thrilling. Okay, less than acceptable, really.

What do you wish for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My favourite show . . .

Is back! Nope, it's not Heroes, the cult favourite. It's not even Prison Break, although I will never complain about new episodes of that show. Heck, it's not even House, although that show is a very close second. It's NCIS - Naval Criminal Investigative Services. If you've never watched Mark Harmon crinkle just the corners of his eyes as he's pondering something, you have not fully lived! He may be old enough to be my father, but he is still sexy.

Now, imagine my disappointment at finding out that the only time this episode is being aired is tonight at 9:00pm. That doesn't seem that late, but I'm tired. The days are getting shorter, and the darkness is just sucking the energy out of me. We're running mad at work on this audit, and I'm trying to get my homework sheets done for the Rally course I'll be teaching in just over a week. It's a lot to do in a short amount of time. So I like to be in bed, with the lights out before 10:00pm.

But for Mark Harmon and his fabulous crew, I will make an exception. I will keep my peepers open, and pay rapt attention. The season finale was a bit of a cliffhanger, and I need to know that everything will okay. I hope everyone is enjoying the premieres of their favourite shows!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Day, Another . . . Dog Show?

So, after a relatively long dog show drought (a couple of months, which seems endless for addicts like me), I am doing another dog show, just two weeks after the last one. This one is in Lloydminster, which is on the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. I didn't think it was a very long drive, but I've been told it's longer than I think, so I have taken a day off work to accomodate the travel time. Not the ideal plan for me, given that I only have 10 hours of vacation left to get me through Christmas, but what can you do?

Anyhow, I spent yesterday grooming up a storm, to ensure the dogs are ready. Granted, their trims have held up fairly well since the last show (only a week ago and a day or two), but there's always touch-up work to be done. And since Grace was dirty (she's like Pigpen from Charlie Brown, I swear!), I bathed her. Dried her and made her look lovely.

Imagine my dismay when I opened the door to the smell of poop. First of all, regardless of what I have planned for the day, week or month, that's a crappy way to come home (yes, pun intended!). But less than 24 hours after spending ages bathing and blowdrying my dog, I knew Murphy's Law had reigned and it HAD to be her that was dirty. I was right. Now, they share a wire crate large enough to house a Great Dane, so both dogs were icky, but Grace was just disgusting. Lucky me. In the 30 minutes since I've gotten home, I have washed the crate pan, started laundry and washed the back end of an otherwise clean dog. She's had Kaopectate, and I sure hope this diarrhea gets under control soon!

Anyhow, that has been my Monday adventure thus far. I hope your week started off better. Oh, and happy birthday to Benny-Wenny-Poopy Yucky! I know you love the nickname, so . . . enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thankful Thursday

It's been a long time since I've done a Thankful Thursday post. I kind of ran out of steam, and lost ideas for things to be thankful for that don't sound trite or over-used. I'm thankful for all of the usual things - friends, family, my health, etc. But there are all kinds of little things I'm thankful for too. I'm thankful for the weather at this time of year. While the Deep South is still hotter than heck, our temperatures are in the more moderate range, which means that we can be outside a lot more. The dogs are enjoying their walks, and even though the mornings are brisk, afternoons are almost perfect.

TV is back on - all of the season premieres are taking place, and those year-end cliffhangers are being resolved. It's a guilty pleasure, but I'm very happy that Prison Break, House, NCIS, The Office and all of the other shows are back on the air.

It's United Way fundraising time at work, which means silent auctions, pizza days, and other fun fundraisers. If I'm going to donate money, I enjoy being given the opportunity to do it in a fun way. And fun it is!

If you have a moment, think about some things that you're thankful for today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall Breeze

Over the past couple of weeks, the weather has turned to fall weather here in Northern Alberta. We have woken up to frost a couple of times, and the leaves are changing colour and falling off the trees. Hopefully we don't have any super windy days over the next week or two, otherwise our trees will be naked!

Most days it still warms up as the sun comes out, but today it was cool. Very fall-like, which I must admit, I'm not totally ready for. Brrrrr! I am wavering between continuing to wear my fall jacket or breaking out the winter coat. It's only September! I was hoping we might have a nice Indian summer before the cold weather really sets in. The dogs, on the other hand, are loving it. Well, except for Farley, whose joints stiffen in cooler temps. Grace and Jack are truly enjoying the cooler weather, and positively frolick during their walks. It would be cute to watch if I didn't have blue lips and a cold nose ;)

Okay, so in a few weeks, I'll really have a reason to whine, when temperatures are down below zero on a daily basis. This will seem positively tropical. But for now, in my small world, it is just too darned cold!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Report

Well, another dog show weekend has come and gone . . . my first one since the first weekend of June. I actually only showed one day, but Grace was shown all 3 days by a handler. On Friday and Sunday Grace took Reserve Winners Bitch (runner-up) and on Saturday she didn't win anything other than first in her class. It wasn't an entirely positive experience with her handler, but in any case, the best dog DID win all weekend. The female that beat Grace was very nice - she moved well, showed well and deserved to win.

Jack-Jack, on the other hand, shocked the heck out of his breeder and I by doing some SERIOUS winning. He took Winners Dog (beating 3 other non-champion males), Best of Winners (beating 7 other non-champions) and Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed (beating a champion dog). He also won Best Puppy in Breed. He earned 3 points for all of this, on his 6 month birthday! My goal was for him to be happy going around, so this was a VERY big bonus! Just 7 more points, and he'll have his Canadian champion title :)
Thanks for cheering us on everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Good Grace News

Well, today wasn't Gracie's day at the dog show . . . from all reports she showed well for her handler, and was groomed very nicely, but the dog that beat her just looked better. I don't have an issue losing to a nice dog . . . although it does hurt to have her lose when I'm paying for the handler. But that's dog shows . . . tomorrow is another day!

The wonderful news is that Grace went for her hip x-rays today, to ensure that she doesn't have hip dysplasia. The films will get sent to OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals), and they will give her a rating. The vet that did the x-rays said that they should get a good rating, so I'm happy with that. They checked her knees as well (this is a manual test) and they're in perfect shape. So on that front, all is well. With her good eyes and these tests, she should be set for a breeding next year, assuming she stays healthy and I can find a good boyfriend for her.

Keep your fingers crossed that she does well tomorrow, and that both her and Jack do well on Sunday :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nerves are setting in

I don't know why, because I've been to tons of dog shows, but this weekend's dog show has my nerves a-jitter. I suppose it's because for the first time ever, one of my dogs is going to be shown by a professional handler. Grace has been down visiting her favourite Aunty for the past week, and now she's with her handler. I have never sent my dogs with anybody else, because I don't like the feeling of not being in control. I'm going to be sitting at work tomorrow, nervous as all get out. And then again on Saturday - well, I won't be at work, but I'll be in the car, waiting for that fateful text message or phone call.

It will culminate on Sunday. Sunday marks Jack-Jack's debut in the ring. I'm not sure he's totally ready, but I'm only attending 2 shows this fall, so I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to show him as a puppy. He's still fairly shy, but I'm hoping that me being with him in the ring will help.

I most likely won't post blog updates until Monday now . . . I have to prepare tomorrow night (pack, etc) and then I won't have tons of time while in Edmonton. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

She taught me

Today my best friend called me to tell me that she'd bought her first book on "tape" through iTunes. I'm so proud, because I know she is coming into the 21st century whether she likes it or not. But that's not the part of the conversation that resonated with me.

She told me that I had taught her what real friendship is about. I thanked her and reciprocated, and proceeded to tell her that she is stuck with me for life, whether she likes it or not. But well after hanging up the phone, I was thinking about what she said. How did I teach HER about true friendship? The whole time we've been friends, she's gone above and beyond to show me love and caring. She's done and said little things that have made my day better (or my week or my month or whatever). She knows when to call or write or email . . . it's almost like she has a sixth sense.

She has shown me patience and tolerance - even when I'm at my grouchiest and meanest. She has shown interest in my passions, even though they may not be the same as hers (although I think I'm converting her slowly but surely). She loves my family and my friends.

I hardly feel like I've been the one to teach HER - I feel much more like she's the one that has taught me and shown me what a true friend is. Funny how our perceptions are shaped so much around our own experiences.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another Good Read

This one has limited interest to non-obedience people, though. I was placing an order from Amazon.com for some Rally-O books to help me plan my upcoming classes, and I discovered some books by a gentleman named Willard Bailey. Now, unless you're an obedience nut like I am, and have read a zillion books and articles, you might not know who he is. But as a past subscriber of the obedience magazine Front & Finish, I recognized his name.

His first book is called "Remembering To Breathe" and it's about his journey from Novice A (the beginner's class, if you will) to earning an OTCh title, which is the highest obedience title you can earn with the American Kennel Club. It takes a lot of work, patience and training to earn an OTCh, and not very many people do this with their first obedience dog. The book is wonderful - full of anecdotes, hints and tips. It talks about the changes in training methods (from force to reward-based) and the various kinds of people you meet when you spent any amount of time in a competition ring. It also illustrates the beautiful relationship that Willard has with his Golden Retriever Honeybear.

I didn't cry at the end, but I came close a few times. It's a great book, and if you're interested in obedience competition, then you'll enjoy it.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Sorry that I didn't post an update about my friend Terri, in Louisiana. They had a pretty rough go with the tail end of Gustav, and the concurrent rain and tornadoes (they got two I think). They lost a significant portion of the barn, but the homes are intact (her and her folks live on adjoining property) and there were no injuries to people or animals. So that's a blessing. Now they are watching the path of Hurricane Ike with cautious eyes. Thank you to everyone for praying for her and her family. I really appreciate it.

This weekend coming up is a big one for me. My girl Grace has gone to a dog show to be shown by a professional handler. She's a lovely girl, but only managed to pick up 3 of the required 10 points towards her Canadian title when I showed her last summer. I could continue showing her myself, but with a puppy to start out, I have decided to have a pro show her. I've never done this before, so I'm a bit nervous about waiting for results - I'd far rather be IN the ring than outside of it! Keep all fingers and paws crossed for Grace, please :)

Also taking place this weekend (on Sunday) is Jack's debut in the dog show ring. He will be 6 months and 10 seconds old when he struts his stuff (okay, probably not that young, but not too far off the mark). His black sister Barbie will also be making her debut, so hopefully they have fun and enjoy their time in the ring. Jack-Jack is growing into a very handsome young man, and I'm excited about his future.

Farley continues to hold his own. I used to say he was doing well, but his bad knees and bad back are really causing him to be stiff and sore. I'm waiting on some new pain medication for him (the pharmacy had to order it), so I hope it helps. I hate watching him age, mostly because I know what follows, and I'm SO not ready for it. This dog is my life . . . I need him for a bit longer. If for nothing else than to be my Rally-O demo dog for classes! If you can spare a thought for Farley, I'd appreciate. He'd rather you spared a cookie ;)

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I have loved dogs for as long as I can remember. Even when I was really little, I wanted to have a dog, read about dogs and pretended to be a dog. I don't really know where this came from, since none of my family (close or extended) feels the same about dogs . . . but I'm so thankful for it. Anyhow, over the past 10 years or so, I've spent time reading about canine behaviour and training, because I find it so interesting. 10 years ago my focus was much more on training, since behaviour was a very undeveloped field. But more and more research and education is taking place, and it's a much more common field.

One of my dreams, for a long time now, has been to train dogs. Not just my own, but also to teach classes. That dream is coming true for me. Starting within a month or so, I will be teaching "Intro to Rally-O" and I'm really excited about it. Hopefully I can do a good job, and get people excited about Rally-O, and maybe even traditional obedience. I want to inspire people to get out there and work with their dogs, and have their bonds get even stronger.

In preparation, I have been surfing the net, talking to friends and purchasing books. I think I might actually have too much information at this point, but I feel that information is power, so I'll just make use of what I have.

Wish me luck . . . I'm excited, nervous and about a million other emotions too.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Last Night Blues

Okay, so I'm not really blue . . . I'm actually looking forward to seeing my family and my dogs tomorrow. I'm not looking as forward to the 7am flight time (which translates into getting up around 4am, to catch a cab at 4:45am to get to the airport), but I can sleep on the flight to Calgary.

But I will miss Houston. It's been a fun week - both on the work side and on the personal side. Today was the last day of the course, and I think people were feeling overwhelmed by all of the information we'd gotten at that point. Everyone was noticeably quieter and more subdued, but it was still a good session.

I've eaten some amazing meals, and tonight was no exception. We went to a Mexican place (no, not Taco Bell, REAL Mexican food) and had a great meal. Mine included a beef burrito taco, two kinds of empanadas (I think) and another item (I can't believe I've forgotten already!). But better than the meal was the company - I got to meet somebody that I've been emailing with for around 6 years. I consider her a good friend, and it was just amazing to meet her finally! I got to hang out with the dogs, and I got to meet her significant other too (he's fabulous!). We had a really nice visit, and I'm so sorry that I didn't get to spend more time with them.

So, this adventure is over, and it's back to "regular" life tomorrow. Hope you've enjoyed my little notes . . . I apologize in advance for the fact that they might get a lot more boring in the weeks to come LOL

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Awesome meal!

I'm still in Houston, and somewhat shopped out tonight, so I thought I'd go for supper with some other people that are attending the workshop that I'm here for. We went to a seafood/fish restaurant called Oceania. Oh My Goodness, the meal was great! I had Costa Rican Mahi Mahi with a blue cheese butter on it. We also got wild rice pilaf and grilled green beans as our sides. Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Last night we ate at the Cheesecake Factory (not to be confused with the Canadian Cheesecake Cafe) and I had chicken marsala with mushrooms over bowtie pasta. Oh my goodness, it was another fabulous meal!

Tomorrow night I get to meet a friend that I've known online for about 5 or 6 years . . . for the very first time! I can't wait, I think it's going to be wonderfully fun :) And then early Saturday morning I head back to the Great White North.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Houston has this fabulous mall called the Galleria. There are Galleria malls in most of the major US cities. It's a high-end mall, with Louis Vuitton, Coach, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Ave and many more stores like that. But there are also some lower end stores as well. I had a successful shopping day today, even though I only had a couple of hours in which to support the Houston economy.

I bought shoes at Macy's, which was fun. They're Merrell shoes, and I got them for dog shows, but I might wear them all the time. They're a purplish-gray colour, and I love them! Then I bought stuff at the Disney store (and everything was on sale!), stuff at Borders (beautiful book store), stuff at Bath & Bodyworks (which really needs no explanation, although there will soon be locations in Canada, which is awesome!) and stuff at Dylan's Candy Shoppe. Tons of bags, and happy but tired feet. What could be better?

If you visit Houston, you MUST see the Galleria! It's a great experience!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Say a quick prayer please

Not for me - I`m in Houston, where the weather is hot and muggy (but only partially cloudy, with no storms predicted at all this week). The travel day was fine, and there were no hiccups. Thank God for small miracles - it was nice to not have to worry.

By my friend that lives in North-Central Louisiana has not fared so well. I heard earlier today that they made it through Gustav with little damage, but a tornado ripped through the area afterwards, and the family barn is completely ruined (gone, maybe . . . I`m not really sure). They are also without electricity and running water. Hopefully all services are restored soon . . . but in the meantime they`re surviving some wicked weather with very little in the way of cooling or utility availability in the house.

Her name is Terri - if you can spare them, please say some prayers for my friend and her family. I know I will be . . .