Sunday, March 30, 2014

Black & White Sunday: Snow Day

Barley and I had a sunny, snowy walk after our noseworks class this morning. Despite the snow, it was a really pretty day for a stroll in the woods and along the river.

Saying hi to her shadow.

All of Barley's charm in one picture: weird ears, tongue out, snow on the nose.

We make new friends at this park every week!

Friday, March 28, 2014

FitDog (and Cat!) Friday: Spring Break

I'm happy to report that the stress of the last two weeks is 100% gone. The English Festival went off without a hitch and I've spent the entire week snuggling with my pets and reading.

Even though spring is officially here, we haven't had the pleasant weather I was hoping for this week, so we upped our mileage a little bit and got in 17 miles this week--but they were cold, dreary miles.

We did get one day at the state park. Bar thoroughly enjoyed being out of our neighborhood, except for the fact that there were several big birds circling the marina and my big bad dog is afraid of birds.

Heaven forbid birds fly in the sky.
She was not pleased I made her stop near the birds.
There was still a little bit of ice on the lake, but there were starting to be a few clear spots. Barley didn't mind the ducks on the lake too much.

Somebody thinks birds belong in the water not the sky. And I thought border collies were supposed to be smart.
I'm hoping that the weather reports for Sunday are correct and that it will be in the 40s and sunny. If so, we'll add a few more miles to our spring break and go somewhere we haven't been in a while after our noseworks class.

We've been having a lot of fun continuing our practice with noseworks. The video below is from a couple weeks ago, but we haven't had significant changes this week. The biggest changes are adding in some non-box objects--chairs, slippers, toys--and Barley's been loving it! As you can see in the video, she's super excited about playing the game (so excited that she runs into the lamp I have a decorative bell hanging off of--so there is nothing being broken despite the noise in the video!). She's started using her nose more than in the video. 

I think noseworks is really helping her out in the real world. Instead of constantly watching what's around her, she's more relaxed on our walks. I think she's starting to use her nose to view the world more than her eyes--and I guess things that might look scary might not smell quite as terrible.

The big news for the week is that sweet Soth went in for a teeth cleaning on Wednesday. I was so nervous. Dental work is not anything pets of my childhood got--but I'm a sucker for creepy pictures of diseased gums (blame my own perfect dental hygiene and the horrifying anti-tobacco pamphlets they handed out in the elementary school DARE program)--so when our vet told me that Soth was getting a lot of buildup on his back teeth and that there was a dental cleaning special through the month of March, I got him an appointment.

I hated sending my boy away for the day, but he came back with some pearly whites (which he will not let me photograph!). Barley missed her brother terribly. As soon as Soth got home, Barley ran over to him with one of her toys.

Then she stood in solidarity with him as he begged for food (no food for 2 hours after getting home while the anesthesia wore off more).

Then I found them all snuggled up in my spare bedroom together. (Ignore the dog bed on the bed--I had vacuumed while Soth was out of the house and never got around to putting it back on the floor.)

My poor little guy has a shaved spot on his leg from his IV. But it seems to bother me more than it bothers him.

This seriously breaks my heart.
Besides the bald spot, he seems to be just fine even though he's currently boycotting the wet food he's supposed to have for his FLUTD. He's still eating the dry food, so I think he's just bored with the wet food. I stocked up on a variety of different brands and flavors today, so hopefully we can get through this little hunger strike soon.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Not So FitDog Friday

Last week, I shared my mini melt down: over my car, over my work stress, over life in general. This week, I'm happy to report that we survived it all. The car is back with a new clutch, a patched tire, and, hopefully, the will to survive the rest of our life together.

While the beginning of the week didn't do anything to alleviate my work stress (and honestly, any time you have a huge event with 300 kids coming to it that you do most of prep work--scheduling, registration packets, room assignments, purchase orders, volunteer coordination--for by yourself, there's bound to be a fair amount of stress), today went off without a hitch! I had to get to campus by 7:15, so my alarm went off at 5:30. Yippee skippy! Somehow, I managed not to hit snooze more than once and I made it out the door (with my coffee thermos this time!) with no troubles even though the sun wasn't even up yet!

The pets shared my excitement over getting out of bed so early.
There was not a single major problem this year (unlike last year when a late-winter snow storm kept one of my presenters from getting to the event and I had to reschedule 60 kids at the last minute) and very few minor problems--mostly things that were not really problems at all. As someone who's not really a kid person, I always worry about how things will go when that many kids invade my campus at once, but every year I'm pleasantly surprised by how polite and appreciative the kids are.

Unfortunately, with all of the extra hours of work (and the extra time I had to spend picking up my car and then getting my tire patched) and another cold, wet day yesterday, Barley and I did not get to spend nearly as much time walking and playing as I would have liked.  We only got a little over 13 miles in this week (and that seems even less impressive since my sister ran that much in one day!). Once again, we had a Sunday off of noseworks class because our training center was holding a trial of some sort (and I'm not complaining--it was my one day I could not set an alarm!).  We have been having fun on our own with our boxes and can't wait to take it up to the next level this weekend!

Pup was a dream dog in agility on Tuesday, though. She was a responsive dog--our trainer even commented that she was acting like a "normal" dog. It might not seem like it, but it was definitely a big compliment!  

Even though we haven't had as much activity as usual this week, Barley still thinks this week kind of rocks because she got her first Bark Box this week!
Clearly, she's learned to be enthusiastic about sticking her head into boxes!
She was so excited, I couldn't get her to sit still long enough to take a non-blurry picture with her loot.

Barley thinks the yogurt and banana Twistix are the best thing ever. 

Since she got more exciting mail than I did this week, I don't feel too bad about the fact that we didn't get as much walking in as usual.  Hopefully now that I'm on spring break for the next week, we'll be able to take some fun adventures (especially on Wednesday while my sweet Bunny cat is getting his teeth cleaned and I'll need a distraction while he's under anesthesia!) to make up for lost time.

Happy beginning of spring!

Friday, March 14, 2014

FitDog Friday: How My Pets Keep Me Sane

I'm not a huge fan of decorative things on cars, but if I ever come across one of the "Who Rescued Who?" car magnets in a store, I will totally put one on my car. 

Who am I kidding? I'm going to break down and order this on Amazon before the year is over.
On many levels, I understand that I rescued Barley. Despite her loving, snuggly nature with humans, her reactiveness would have made it hard for her to find a permanent home with just anyone. Her super smarts would have made it hard for her to adjust to life in the kennel in the shelter. From a young age, I was taught that pets are a lifetime commitment and that you have to be ready to take on that responsibility before you bring an animal into your life. So, I know both my pets lucked out with me--Soth with his FLUTD problems is the type of cat that regularly ends up in shelters and Barley's got many reasons for ending up there being a high-energy breed and a reactive dog. As I've said many times, I loved Barley from the moment we went to the meet and greet room at the shelter together.  BUT, I have not always liked her. It took working with our first trainer to learn how to understand my dog and strengthen my bond with her to learn how to like her. 

Anyone who would leave these lovies in a shelter is serious missing out.
Soth recused me first. I was almost 2000 miles from my family, almost all my closest friends were moving away, and I was in a town that never felt like home. I needed him. Probably more than he needed me since he didn't have FLUTD back then. Almost every day for the last almost 5 years, he has greeted me at the door when I've gotten home from anywhere. He is the best napping buddy in the universe. And he has the cutest grumpy old man face. If I didn't have him, I might not have survived my last year in New Mexico with any shred of sanity left.
What's not to love about coming home to this face?
This past week has been incredibly stressful to put it mildly. I have a huge event coming up next week at work and the finishing touches are not falling into place as smoothly as they usually do. I've lost my sleeping in days this week due to Soth's annual vet checkup, a 7:00 a.m. dentist appointment for me (having to be at an appointment before the sun is up is for the birds!), a car appointment this morning, and an eye doctor appointment tomorrow. I am not a morning person, so not having a single day this week to not set an alarm is a much bigger deal to me than it might seem to the average person. Then on Wednesday, we got several more inches of snow dumped on us. On top of all of that, I've had a never-ending stack of papers to grade.

Soth has been feeling great lately, so he's been extra playful and has enticed me to take many much breaks to play hair-tie soccer, chase with jingle balls, and battles with ribbons. He's given me a reason to put down the red pen or to close my email, which has had an extraordinary number of mind boggling emails late, and just have fun for a few minutes.

Today was the worst day yet. Earlier this week, my car started giving me trouble. It wouldn't accelerate with it's normal ease. I'd stop at a stop sign or light and it would feel like it was going to stall--and I my stomach got the same queasy feeling it got when I was 18 and first learning to drive stick and stalled at almost every light/stop sign. It never stalled, but the RPMs would skyrocket while it worked on getting up to speed. So on Monday, I contacted the dealership to make an appointment since it's still under warranty. They didn't seem all that concerned that I wouldn't be in until Friday, so I figured that it was just the hypochondriac in me that was exaggerating how bad things seemed. This morning, when I tried to leave the parking lot, my car rebelled. It did not want to back out of my spot. I eventually got it to go forward a little bit and then I could get it to back up after a little coaxing. 

A few minutes after I left the house, I realized I had left my thermos full of coffee on the counter. Failure number 1. Then it started getting harder and harder to get it in gear at stop lights, so I prayed hard that I would only hit green lights. For a few lights, I did. Then I didn't. My clutch pedal went down and wouldn't come back up. I put on my emergency blinkers and the cars around me kindly gave me plenty of room. I lifted the clutch pedal with my hand and tried again. I got my car rolling enough to get it to a parking lot on the other side of the intersection and called AAA, who hasn't had to rescue since I got a car that was impossible to lock the keys in the trunk.

An hour later, a tow truck showed up. Then it broke before they could get my car on the truck. An hour later, another tow truck came.

During this adventure, my low tire pressure light also came on. By the time the first tow truck arrived, I had a flat--and I just bought 4 new tires 2 weeks ago. The nice tow truck guy used his handy dandy portable air pump to fill my tire back up and I guess I"ll be figuring out what the terms of my new tire warranty are soon.

Two hours after my appointment time, my car and I arrived at the dealership. Of course, I was only 12 miles away from the dealership, but AAA only covers the first 3 miles of towing, so I had to pay for that. Then I sat at the dealer for 1.5 hours and they told me that my clutch is shot and not covered under the warranty because it's a "rare part." Let's just say clutches are not cheap.  They gave me a rental car to use for the foreseeable future, so I still have transportation, but I am not pleased.

Luckily, I had my happy go lucky pup to lift my spirits when I got home. Despite the nasty weather on Wednesday, we had sun and almost 50 degrees today, so my girl and I got out for two decent walks today to enjoy the good weather. Seeing her smily face trotting along beside me helped clear my mind a little bit and prepare me for writing a complaint letter to the car manufacturer that was not unnecessarily nasty but still conveyed my frustration with the warranty issues (and the fact that my car is not even 3 years old and the clutch is worn out!).

It's hard to be too mad at the world when you have this face trotting alongside you.
We're now at 123.19 miles for the year so far and with spring break right around the corner and more hours of daylight in our lives, I think we're going to be right on track for where we should be for our yearly goal at this point by the end of the month.

So as the Thompson Square song "If I Didn't Have You" suggests, this life would kill me if I didn't have these lovies. They are my heart. Having them to insist on taking walks in the sunshine or to kick hair ties across the floor with keeps me sane. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

FitDog Friday: Mother Nature Strikes Again

We've had another week of bitter cold and little exercise. In addition to the cold, the universe also decided to keep us from going to noseworks.

On Sunday, I was just finishing my coffee and getting treats ready to head out the door to noseworks class when our trainer called to say that class was canceled because there was no power at the training center. Apparently, several transformers exploded and most of the county where the training center is lost power. Luckily, my county still had power, so Barley and I just hibernated and graded papers instead. So, we've just been continuing our homework of building value for the box and hopefully we'll get to learn something new and exciting this weekend!

Snuggly siblings.
Apparently they didn't get the memo that this is my bed and I deserve space in it.
We didn't get many walks in this week because it was just too cold. I am so looking forward to spring's arrival--hopefully it doesn't take too long. Barley has been getting into mischief every time I turn my back!

I didn't shut her in the crate or the bedroom (because Soth wouldn't get out of the bedroom and I felt bad putting her in her crate for extra time) while I showered on Tuesday. When I got out of the bathroom, she was standing in the middle of the kitchen counter where Soth's food dish is (luckily he doesn't get fed until after I get ready for work, so it was empty). She couldn't figure out how to get down. I don't know if it was higher than she thought it was when she hopped up there or if she was afraid of jumping onto the linoleum floor, but I had to start my day by lifting my dog off the counter.

She's also decided she prefers to play with her brother's cat toys.
We got a little taste of spring today with temperatures in the 40s and bright sunshine making it feel even warmer. I was almost tempted to open the windows and let some fresh air in.  Then I remember that it was only in the 40s and that wasn't really open window weather.

But we did make up for some of the mileage we didn't get in earlier in the week with a good 4.15 walk at the State Park and another short walk in our neighborhood this evening.

There were cool snow mounds all along the path.
Practicing "Paws Up" on a snow mound. She looks a little awkward.
She's been sleeping most of the evening, so I think I finally wore this pup out! Hope everyone else has gotten a little bit of a break from the cold and gloom.