Thursday, July 2, 2015

Early Tokul Walk

Today is another day in the 90s. I am positive I am not the only one that saw the altered forecast for the weekend and swore. We are just not getting a break right now.

A friend and I decided to meet at 6am and walk the dogs. I am grateful she got me out the door. The heat and nights of not sleeping tend to make you lethargic. Honestly, we could have met at 4am and it still would have been hot and we still would have been swarmed by bugs. :)

Still, it was a great walk.The pups were happy and Nim got to show off his new harness skills to his hiking friend Jack. I am sure Jack is relieved to no longer hear the yeti noises with the long line biting. Nim also demonstrated just how much louder he can yell at the birds now. It was short lived. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

SO HOT and...Ford Ranger Rides Again???

Hello ridiculously hot July! We are sweltering out here for the PNW area. Hard on people, really hard on pets.

I had ordered The Honest Kitchen Ice Pups to try for Nim this summer (you can also use it heated like a gravy or presumably just a water boost).

I made him some frozen treats. He really likes them, but the first one he ate too fast and puked right away. I actually think these would be a good packet to have for hiking/camping. I have never been too sold on the electrolytes for dogs mixes, but there is something to be said for a mix that encourages some drinking and some calories. Dogs, like people, don't always eat or drink correctly when hot.

The other trick is the water + treats frozen in a Kong. Actually, I bet you could add that Ice Pups mix and really go crazy. This is messy with the hole at the bottom of the Kong so I do set in a pan while freezing. A friend of mine that feeds raw does raw meat.

I am sure this was not Leela's idea. Apparently Emile (orange) thinks that Leela can cool him? He is under the bed today.

I had someone offer to buy my dead Ford Ranger this week. I almost did it. What I did decide is that either this truck gets running, or the guy that wants it can have it. It was good motivation, and I love a good car project. He talked to me awhile about the issues with the truck and suggested a good local mechanic.

As you can see I had my work cut out for me. I have interior mold and the entire outside was coated in moss and who knows what else. You couldn't see in the windows.

I had stopped driving the truck because the clutch never worked right after I got it replaced. I am excited about a new potential local mechanic (I do have another one I really like but he is about an hour away) but first I had to make an effort to at least make it test-drivable.

I focused on getting the moss off all the outside windows. I worked on the body as well, but the windows were the priority.

Once it was shinier and you could actually see out the windows to drive it, I pushed it into the sun and tackled the interior mold. If I can make this truck semi-reliable I will actually have the seat assembly replaced.

Once the interior was done and drying in the sun, I started under the hood. My goal since this mechanic is about a mile away was to try and drive the truck there first - if not, it would be towed. To try and start it I had to replace the battery and the air filter.

When I pulled the air filter a mouse took off. Now I don't know where she came from, but clearly she had a nest which I carefully picked through for babies. I found no babies, but I did find a tag from one of my undies. That was somewhat troubling.

In a couple of weeks it goes to a mechanic in town suggested to me. The guy is so popular it will take me 2 weeks to get in. But I have heard from 2 locals now that he is worth it. While I wait, I will probably try driving around town at low traffic times and gathering my issues. Immediate known issues:

  • Truck has to be shut off to put into first (not always but it seems to be really hard to get it into first)
  • Brake work (sounds like sand...rust?)
  • Dome light/door ajar malfunction (I actually researched this one online - how did we ever survive without the Internet? - and W40 in the door latches seemed to be doing the trick. Otherwise I would have to disconnect the battery or pull the dome light bulb
  • Heater?
This mechanic probably thought I was a little crazy due to my excitement of getting this truck going again. Although not as crazy as the DOL lady probably thought I was. I had to call her because I couldn't renew the tabs online since I had let them lapse for 2 years and lets just say I was fresh off my double tall soy mocha Frappaccino at that point. She probably didn't know one could be so happy talking to the DOL. 

Getting this truck running again and fairly reliable would be a big deal, especially if I don't have to invest much to do it. I might even need another medium dog to ride shotgun. Something tells me Nim will not fit as well as Rusty did.

Rusty, April 2011 - yard waste day

I probably shouldn't get too excited yet...first to get it to the mechanic...

Friday, June 26, 2015

PSK9 UKC WA Classic - Argus Ranch Auburn 6/26/2015

Today was a HOT day at a great show! I thought I had entered this show last year, but I think I am misremembering. PSK9s is a great club that does a lot of great local work. I am extra passionate about them because I know several of the members and organizers and they are all handlers I respect and enjoy working with.

As you can see, Maggie and Nim were all about taking care of business today. Or. That is their haggard look...I am not sure. :)

The WA Classic for Friday hosted conformation, some agility, and two Rally Obedience trials that Nim and Maggie entered in.

The WA Classic is a big deal. Saturday will be the heavy agility day. For me personally, this is the largest UKC show I have been to.

For Maggie, this was a chance to show off her skills in a lower stress environment compared to her first Rally Obedience attempt. This was the second time my mom has ever entered a formal ring and her first UKC show. And for Nim, this was our first attempt at Rally Obedience level 2 (advanced) or RO2.

Dogs were hot. There were many cute competitors, but it was hard to get many decent photos between the lighting, the commotion, and the dogs moving around.

At least the Rally Obedience was in the barn and not under the blaring sun. But it was hot all the same.

For Trial 1 both Nim and Maggie qualified! Maggie even took first place which is a pretty major deal. She was really into her run this time. She really dialed in like I see in her training runs.

Maggie Trial 1 run (and yes, you can tell I am excited)

Maggie was excited about her first place toy.

I was pretty nervous starting my run with Nim and it made me happy just to be with him. There was a noticeable (even to me) part in the run in which I must have relaxed because we both started working better together.

For Trial 1, we actually did the first sign wrong! In UKC the judge can say "fault" or "redo" basically. So when the judge said "redo" on my first sign, my stress level elevated. To make matters worse, I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong! Until, of course I read the sign and realized in my show jitters I had done the completely wrong sign. We did our redo and were on our way. Nim seemed happy in the first trial.

By Trial 2 EVERYONE was hot. I am really pleased with my trial 2 work, but Nim was just melting. He really didn't want to sit over and over again, and occasionally I would start to heel and he would be slow to get up behind me. I found myself talking high and expressively to keep letting him know he was doing great.

Again, both Maggie and Nim qualified and Maggie did great!

Maggie Trial 2 video

Maggie just wanted to celebrate with her Trial 1 toy.

Nim looked away and gave her a moment.

Good dogs. You made us proud. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Harness Hiking & Everything Post

We are enjoying regular summer days out here right now. It is nice. I pretty much live outside whenever I can. I can easy access the WiFi for both working and studying. I wish I could say this has made me ultra-productive. I guess the best we can say is that I am "steady."

I have a little bird family again.

I can't get enough of them. I think there are 3 babies in there, but only because that is the most heads that have come up at once so far.

I can promise you there was some hissing in negotiations for this morning sun spot.

Nim is doing pretty good. I have been trying to bring up our hiking fitness together and that has been a challenge with the jobs and the studying. I am also finding that our long-line system is no longer working. I suspect he is hurting his neck a bit.

Basically he shakes, growls, and tugs the long line the entire hike. Super long hikes he will eventually give up. But I haven't been pushing us past 6 miles because he doesn't seem to be doing great after those hikes. And yes. He will actually "play" with the long line for an entire 6 miles. It is amazing. I think at 5 years old he can't get away with that anymore.

So last Friday I did some quick harness ordering and made a resolution to start changing our hiking style. Honestly, I should have started working on this years ago, but the long line system worked and I am always so desperate to get out at all, I never want to put in the hard work to change a "functional" system.

This is the Ruffwear Web Master Harness. It is one of 2 different harnesses I ordered (the second one arrived today). My reservation with using a harness (and the reason I put this off for so long) is that it gives Nim a lot more leverage to pull and he definitely knows how to pull in a harness. But, it takes the pull off his neck.

  • Color red - more and more I do color on hiking gear. Especially on the dogs. I run into too many hunters and it is safer around traffic. 
  • We ordered the L/XL. Nim has roughly a 34 inch chest at his deepest point and he is 78 pounds. We are still working out the adjustment, but this harness should work. 
  • This is not a restrictive or training harness. One point of attachment on the back.

Early this morning was our first harness hike attempt.

"Sort of" Cons:

  1. Nim still attempted to turn back periodically and bite the long line (as well as my hat, his leash, and the toy tied to my pack), but ultimately he gave up. I would like eventually to give him a toy to carry since he really, REALLY likes something in his mouth. 
  2. We had some brutal pulling sections. Notably it was a narrow section of trail in which forward was his only option, and a couple of times on the downhill. I did a lot of "red light/green light" to try and drive home that we only move when he stops pulling. You can't even imagine the patience this requires of me. And no lie - I generally love dog training and I want to be a better trainer, but I didn't want to be dealing with this at all this morning.

  1. The hike was generally quieter and more peaceful. Now when he wants to talk to the birds he has his full mouth to do so, but it also wasn't constant. 
  2. When he did pull it was on his body and not his neck. 
  3. His breathing and drinking was FAR more healthy. The shallow/panting breathing he does on his long line has been really stressing me out. If you notice in these pictures, despite it being a warm morning, he doesn't look as hot as normal.
  4. He was actually a lot more with me. Probably because he wasn't constantly tugging with me.

Anyway, I think this is going to work out, but it is going to be a challenge. Some days I just don't feel like dog training. Or maybe more specifically I just don't feel like doing the hard work that some of this requires. But I do think the harness will be more healthy so I need to suck it up and do the hard work.

I am asked often why he is not off-leash. The reason is he refuses to stick next to me when we are hiking. He likes to run way far ahead and then race back. Over and over. Anyone who has had to hike and deal with someone else's dog doing that knows how much it sucks for other hikers. It is also stressful for me to have a dog out of sight like that.

We will see though, he is definitely a lot more adult and mature these days. And I did notice on this hike he was dropping next to me quite a bit on the harness, so we might get there.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Garden Planting

The heat has arrived! Nim tolerated an early morning trip for plants, shopping at Costco and swimming lessons. Then we scooted home so I could garden for study breaks.

By the way, check out the Big Lots chair purchase in the background. :) I don't know why I waited so long to get a lounge chair.

Unfortunately this plant shop was another quick buy without a lot of planning. Just the way life is right now. I tried to go for things I had grown with some success, items I keep killing but am not ready to give up on yet, or tried entirely new items such as artichoke!

I tried a pumpkin again (why are they so hard to grow?) and in my haste I didn't realize until I got home that the plant I bought is for like the 100lb variety. All I have to say is that if I actually grow a 100lb pumpkin that will be right up there with my cherished sunflower last year.

The garden baskets are filling out nicely.

After his early morning shopping and swimming Nim was pooped!

So cute. Bird chasing can wait for another day...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

FINALLY Sewing Again and Moving FAR

I hope everyone had a reflective and restful Memorial Day.

The weekend could have continued forever as far as I am concerned. It was nice to just not think about work. Saturday and Sunday were more intense days because I was in my final cramming days for my scheduled FAR test (next CPA exam). Then, late Sunday night I realized that nothing was going to make this happen, and I moved the test into July. (June is a blackout month...blackout months are basically added to make an already painful process even more inconvenient.)

I am generally OK with my decision. I knew forcing this exam into May was too soon considering I hadn't studied all tax season, but I SO wanted another exam done. I had maybe a minor flash of failure, but that was nothing compared to all the stress I was working myself up over an exam I couldn't be ready for in time.

I was up late Sunday night cleaning the house to cope with my decision. Then Monday morning I woke up ready to restructure the study plan and perhaps more importantly...start a quilt.

My goal was something scrappy, small, easy to only do a little sewing on and then leave for days if I had to. Something with quick satisfaction that I can work on between study session and work. Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville delivered! I am working on Stitch a "Star- Struck" Quilt. It is scrappy and cutting fabric all Monday made me happy.

I love when I am cutting up my own scraps how sometimes a fabric will fondly remind me of the larger quilt it came from. Some "scraps" were taken from my start on this year's New Year's Mystery quilt. I could tell that one was never going to get finished.

I even got about 45 minutes of initial block sewing. It is going to be perfect. The piles are easy to keep to one side, and I should be able to work on it and leave it without completely messing myself up.

Leela, as usual, was happy I was quilting too. Probably disappointed that nothing is on the floor yet, but she stayed close by in case.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Flowers and Walrus Cam

Good morning on a Friday!

I wanted to share this Alaska Walrus Cam. Talk about fabulous background ocean noise and just a really interesting education on such an unusual animal (also you will catch other coastal wildlife on the edges). I watched one walrus yesterday that started on the shore and slowly rolled over and over and over until he was in the water and then he kept rolling.

Walrus are another species that is taking a huge hit from the vanishing ice sheets. This USGS article on the Walrus dry land "haul out" I think is worth reading to better understand the issues faced with the warming Arctic.

In my own back yard I have a little baby bunny doing her thing. Unfortunately she did not slowly roll over and over and over back into the bushes, but she did let me get close, under the misguided animal notion that if they can't quite see you, you don't exist. I just want to touch her ears.

Mom and I took the dogs to Flower World and my box has just been waiting for planting.

Basically I have been putting baskets together in-between studying stints and work. I am so frustrated right now with all the work in the yard I am not doing.

I have decided to deem "yard work" that yet another motivation to finish these exams because right now I need all the motivation I can get.

Nim did a lot of sleeping under the table yesterday. We were hot and sunny. And then suddenly around 3pm the thunder rolled in with dark clouds and a little after 4pm I had rain! The entire week has been like this for me. Real extremes in weather.

I planted the "deer planter" outside my door. Actually, this is a different planter because the one I normally use broke apart in my hands as I lifted it. I really am hoping the deer leave my Pansies alone. They are a new flower for me this year.

This is Nim as I am running around like crazy in the yard and gathering all my gear up and the thunder is rolling in. I believe his bubble is "Finally. I can go nap in the house."

I have a few Snap Dragons left that I will plant later. They are "rescues" from the office. The entire flat was wilting, but they are doing much better now. This photo is from their ride home. The night I got them, I had to continue from work to dog class so I put them on the hood of the car at dog class and heavily watered them so they could drain for about an hour rather than bake in the car. Hopefully I can keep them alive.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! I need to get out to the store and see if the Veterans are out with their Poppies. I always really look forward to that program so I hope I can find them.