Thursday, July 26, 2012


This week is a bit of a blur, but I believe Monday was our dark and cold day. I actually felt fear all of a sudden about winter coming back (I REALLY haven't recovered from last winter), even though it is still July.

Anyway, I did some research to make myself feel better and it turns out Desert Aire, WA (an area I know I just didn't know it had a name) might be the driest and warmest area in the state come winter. Provided I can get there. Good to know.

Today however the sun is shining and most of the week has been warm. In the above photo Nim's little head is in front of a giant root ball.

I feel extra motivated right now to stay on top of everything because I really think I am going to make this road trip vacation happen. It has been literally years and years since I have actually done a vacation I am embarrassed to say (last summer I was in more central Oregon and aspects of that were vacation-like but mostly I was there to help with a class). It may not be the best planned thing, but if I go for it at least it will be mine.

I have had inspirations in all directions, but I think I will focus Oregon coast and maybe down into Northern CA. I will know more in August what I can swing. Right now it is just fun to play with the options.

Notice Nim is in the mud hole. The fresh running water is the upper left of the photo. The beauty of short-coat dogs is that mostly the mud shakes out before you make it back to the car.

I even wiped off some of the slobber before this photo was taken but it is still everywhere.

Back to homework...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Old Dog Haven - Walk for Old Dogs

Sunday was Old Dog Haven's "Walk for Old Dogs" charity event. I am hoping it was successful for them and they do it annually.

Fun video on King5. My favorite part was "can you teach old dogs new tricks?" I loved that the representative said that most start out with potty training - and I agree, given the history on many of the dogs in rescue, potty training may be the most important trick of all.

(Quick edit - in communication with a co-founder it sounds like most of their rescues are coming in potty-trained. Some will have UTI/bladder issues but those usually can be treated. So this is good news for rescue homes!)

Rusty had probably never lived in house before me and we spent many weeks in the belly band.

The walk was held at Bellevue Park. The park is surrounded by residential and shops. The 1/2 mile loop goes around a man-made water system.

There were several signs hung along the posts with photos and bios of the dogs in their care.

We each got a bookmark in our bag. They had a photo and the dog's bio.

I wasn't at all prepared for was how emotional this event would be for me. After I registered I quickly headed out to start a lap and recollect.

This has been a "Rusty" weekend already because Saturday I was around a lot of doberman rescue people and then to come to this event and see all those old bodies and gray muzzles kind of knocked me back. It is hard to explain how you can miss the slower and methodical way of a senior dog but I really do. 

After I sort of got myself collected, Nim and I went back in and started observing the senior antics. And lets face it, senior dogs can be pretty funny.

Many of the dogs had something to say to Nim just on principle. I couldn't have been the only non-senior dog there...but we didn't see any other young ones.

I think they were telling Nim to enjoy his youth. (Or to hold still)

Lots of strollers and harnesses. The little guy in the above photo popped up out of his stroller just briefly and then was immediately back snuggled down. I think they said he was 17?!

Lots of people and small bird watching.

There was a small pug contingent (as well as basset hounds and daschunds). It could have been these were small teams. But those are all breeds that tend towards some expensive health problems and maybe they are surrendered more.

I couldn't get enough of this guy:

So this one was actually watching a group of kids play:

This one reminded me a lot of Rusty. The focus to stand and observe pretty much takes up all the mental real estate:

I could hear the basset hounds as I was walking down the street to the park:

There was a small catastrophe when a card table got knocked down during some presentation of awards. I don't think it phased any seniors at all and in fact many rushed in to see if anything worthwhile came down with the table.

I am not positive but the daschunds might have been the culprit group. :)

Now at the fun match on Saturday there was a tiny baby pomeranian that threw its self down melodramatically in that puppy way and refused to go any further.

You get a similar thing with seniors and when they decide to stop or change direction they REALLY dig in.

I did laugh at the amount of people I could hear trying to get their seniors to come with them in a given direction or even just get up off the ground.

Boy have I been there. Rusty had a preference for digging in or laying down on driveways into gas stations or the grocery store as well as crosswalks. I had to carry him across the QFC parking lot once and people were very concerned that he was injured. Trust me, he was just as happy to be carried and observe from another level.

It was a LONG weekend for us. I am super grateful right now to be down to one healthy dog right now (despite many thoughts of reconsidering this weekend), but I know more seniors are in my future.

Rally Fun Match

Saturday was our Rally Fun Match held at Mega-Dogs and hosted by Cascade Doberman Pinscher Club. It was rainy in the AM, but by the time we got going the sun had come out.

This was our most "official-feel" fun match to date.

Right away I screwed up when I marched into the ring with Nim to get to the starting sign. Turns out I was supposed to wait to be invited into the ring. I am sure at some point I was taught this but haven't had a chance to practice it yet and clearly forgot.

I LOVED the judge. I think because she was judge-like and I got a lot out of her comments. We did three runs and she did notations on our "map." My first run had the most mistakes and the runs after that I worked to correct them.

You probably can't really read the map, but notes I was given:

TL (2) at the top next to the Straight Figure 8 Weave Twice. 
That means I got noted for "tight lead" on 2 runs. What was happening was as I got to the end cone and was turning to weave back he was swinging wide to the end of the lead. The first time I will give him my bad handling, but also what was going on is that the end cone was pointed towards a kennel and groomer. :) He was totally distracted by the noises. Means I need to work harder. On the final run I was really talking to him out of the 3rd and into the 4th cone. He still swung wide but not the end of the lead.

Sign 2 - Call Front - stepping back
All his sits on the first time through were "hoovers." Dobermans are somewhat championship hoover-ers due to their dislike of unsatisfying surfaces on the rear-ends. The comment was I should make sure I am making a complete defined stop before initiating the next step back. On the following 2 runs he did full sits so it shows that if I rush him he will be more than happy to short-cut.

Sign 9 - return to normal pace
It is only recently that he and I can drop to slow pace and stay in sync (this was sign 8). I get so excited about it that I tend not to speed it back up for a normal pace sign especially if I know I have a tight turn coming (sign 10). This is a training issue I have in class too. I corrected it in the following 2 runs on this course.

It was a fun and socially exhausting day. Lots of doberman people and their pups so he got a lot more interaction than normally at these events.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grand Prospect

After a melodramatic weather morning, when things finally started to slow down around noon I started thinking I should get out for a quick hike.

About an hour later I still couldn't make up my mind (I was in a weird "I don't want to hike but I need a hike mood") and went to Rattlesnake like I always do but decided I had time to go to Grand Prospect (I often will turn around at Stan's Overlook when I am in a time crunch).

There is a distinct vegetation change as you leave Stan's Overlook and start to commit to continuing up.

You leave the more recently logged:

And starting heading into mature second growth:

By the way, as we gained elevation it finally became less muggy. It only took me about a mile in to really be glad I did the hike and most of it I truly enjoyed. I was over-tired and my ankle still isn't working great but it was such a nice day.

Notice Nim's stance, his ears, his general "I am going to die" demeanor on this bridge:

The bridge was rock stable, maybe a foot off the ground, and he totally hated it.

After that he wouldn't be agreeable on my next photo. Can you find his rear?

As we were nearing the top it was totally in the clouds.

Try as he might, Nim couldn't find the sun.

In fairness, of all the times I have done this hike, I can think of maybe 2 in which it wasn't totally or partially clouded in (this was pretty thick today however).

I have much better luck at actually being able to see something at this point either in the freezing winter or a full moon night hike...or a punishing combo of both.

I actually considering continuing on, but Nim gave me the face and I knew he was right.

I got one sort of sunny photo in the "flowers" with Fuller Mountain in the back. Fuller is one of my favorite places.

Shortly after this photo we were either in rain or thick clouds that were heavily misting - it was hard to tell. 

I cooked up those dog pizzas I got at the farmer's market. Considering how long it has been since I have been around a true gourmet cheese pizza even I was overwhelmed with how good they smelled.

Nim was ready and waiting.

Summer Storm

Good morning!

This photo was taken yesterday, while I was doing homework on Mercer Island and waiting for a chance to train Nim. The afternoon training is not to be confused with the AM training in which I totally messed up the time and arrived at the end of class. I almost crying in frustration over missing it and Nim complained about it most of the drive home. Ugh.

He handled laying next to me and doing nothing semi-well.

Last night was constant thunderstorms. I gave up "sleeping" around 6am. Whatever. If only I didn't actually need it right? I decided to drop all day trip options and focus on homework and stuff around the house today. It is currently dark and absolutely pouring. The cats are under the bed.

I am in preliminary planning (the step right beyond daydreaming) for a small road-trip after summer quarter. It is keeping me energized with something to look forward to especially on rainy dark days like these.

An article earlier in the week was about this cause:

Climb for Casen

It is hard to put impact of the news story into words. It is hard any time you have to read about a very young child living with any sort of pain. I don't know Hunter but I am really proud of him.

I hope everyone has a good weekend. I am going to try and do another Rally fun match on Saturday and then Sunday is Walk for Old dogs.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Block Party 2012

This is the first year I have been able to attend our neighborhood block party and it was actually a lot better than I thought it would be.

I didn't show up until later in the day (once my office got unbearable) and just in time for some dancing. All of the kid performances were amazing by the way. Clearly Ignite Dance has some great instructors.

On the "side stage" was Country Line Dancing and initially I was totally mesmerized by the skirts and actually have too many photos of just different embellished black skirts.

All of the dancers were really enjoyable to watch, but this gal in the white crinkly top and the white patterned overlay on her skirt had a ton of sass and attitude. As you can see, the kids were completely drawn to dancing with her.

Eventually I made it over to Animal Encounters. Keep in mind I had Nim so I was pretty careful about how close I got him. First we noticed the "pig pile." This is one pig, one bunny, one hen and one rooster. To be honest I am not sure Nim could make any sense of it at all until the hen started walking around on the pig. I guess the pig sleeps every night with some hens on him.

I LOVE the pouch system of animal handling (designed by the wife of the team). It was probably the most quiet and gentle animal handling I have ever seen in a "petting zoo" setting.

The child has to sit in a row of chairs (and remain seated) and a pouch with animal already inside is handed to them. The pouch is familiar and safe to the animals and it helps the child with proper and gentle handling. (The pouches also protect especially elderly skin which tends to be thinner from scratches).

This is a baby Patagonian Mara (relative of guinea pigs) being held by the husband owner of Animal Encounters.

And lastly a young female goat, aka Nim's new girlfriend. She is looking forlornly at Nim as we walked away. When we were close and talking she was actually sort of hiding from him, but as we started to walk away she was clearly interested.