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Holy Sheep! You Mean I’m Allowed to Chase Them?

Gracie and I were invited by one of the local Samoyed clubs to come out and test Gracie’s herding abilities. It’s one of the activities they offer every year—these activities raise money for Samoyed Rescue organizations, so I was totally in. This afternoon we drove down to a place in Long Beach that specializes in testing and training.

We pulled up to the place and let Gracie out, and at first she wasn’t at all interested in much more than a drink of water and a good pee. I wasn’t sure what to expect—would I have to direct her? would they need me to sign a waiver stating that Gracie wouldn’t kill the sheep? would they give me a bunch of rules and regulations?—but the herding instructor opened the gate where three sheep were hanging out, looking like they were on a cigarette break, totally bored, like, yeah, okay, here we go again, and he had me lead Gracie in. The only instruction I got was to remove her leash.

Samoyeds are a herding breed and she herds me and Bill around the house, rounding us up, making sure we’re in the same place where she can keep an eye on us. If we’re in different rooms, she goes bonkers—she can’t relax. She’ll pace between the rooms until she’s sure that one of us isn’t going to wander off. But I didn’t know how she’s do with the sheep, in fact, I was a little worried for some reason she might try to take a little taste of one, but she stood there for a minute, assessing the situation, and then took off.

Her instincts kicked into overdrive and, tongue hanging out of her face in pure joy, she chased the sheep around the ring keeping them together and chasing the strays down when they tried to divide and conquer. At one point she turned to look at me, like, “What the hell? How did I get so lucky?!”

She was totally in her element. As tired as she was at the end she was ready to go the second she saw another dog enter the ring. The evaluator gave her high marks in everything, so in lieu of adopting some cattle or sheep, I’m going to have to take her out there once in a while to let her get her herd on.

Really? I get to do WHAT?

Really? I get to do WHAT?

Round 'em up

Round 'em up

I'm coming for ya!

Don't mess with the Crazy

Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby!

Yo! Where you going?

Yo! Where you going?

Hey! Where are you going?

Hey! Where are you going?

Pure Joy!

Pure Joy!

Starting to get tired but still on her game

Starting to get tired but still on her game

Where are you going?

Where are you going?

Happy Birthday, Gracie!

Today my baby is 2 years old!

This is Gracie the day we brought her home. She was 9 weeks old.

This is Gracie the day we brought her home. She was 9 weeks old.

And this is her now (in a calmer moment!)

And this is her now (in a calmer moment!)

My little girl is all grown up. *sniff*

Pawsabilities

I signed Gracie up for Agility lessons. If you aren’t familiar with it, agility is kind of like an obstacle course for dogs. There are jumps, climbing obstacles, poles to weave through, tunnels and—god help us—a table that she needs to pause on, usually mid course.

Not Gracie

Not Gracie

I figured that this would be fun for her, and I thought it would be a great way to burn off some of that insane energy I can’t seem to get rid of any other way. And bonus? If I can actually train her to do these obstacles, I might actually have a chance of, ehem, actually training her to behave.

This Isn't Gracie Either

This Isn't Gracie Either

Our first class was on Thursday and even though she was a week behind (all the newbies started while we were on vacation) she caught up quickly and did really well. I’m kind of excited about this—even though I have to run alongside to coach her through the obstacles.

And Neither Is This...

And Neither Is This...

She’s still not finished doing regular dog shows, but we only have two more points to go.

Sometimes I think my life has gone to the dogs.

Random Thursday Thoughts: The Vacation Edition

I’ve been ignoring my blog and I really didn’t mean to. The past week has been full of milestones. I have turned 40, celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary, and went on vacation. I’ve had a million things to write about but haven’t been able to direct a single thought into a coherent post. In fact, I started writing this post TWO DAYS AGO with a glass of wine in hand, thinking I was going to relax and let the words flow but I got sidetracked (OOH, SHINY THINGS! PRETTY), so this is what ya get… I’m sorry.

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We were in Sonoma/Napa for a week, and as amazing as the trip was, I think I’m thrilled to be home. We had an amazing time, but I’m on wine and food overload.

When we got to the Napa Valley, we were armed with a list of wineries we wanted to visit, and we agreed that we were just going to taste—sip and savor the wine and spit it out—not drink.

On Friday—our first full day—we hit three wineries. And I’m guessing it was one too many. Somewhere along the line, that whole tasting plan went out the window. I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, and by the time we had lunch it was about 1:00. Since it was our anniversary, I had wine (natch) with my salad. After that, we walked down the block to a tasting room for a winery we like. They sent us to another winery, and that winery sent us to yet another…

I’m sure I got carried away with the whole Hey It’s Our First Day of Vacation and It’s Our Anniversary! And I drank. We split a tasting of about 5 wines at the first place. At the second, we tasted-—and I use this term loosely because these are pretty generous servings—about 5 or 6 more. The third place? I’m pretty sure there were about 7 wines. And my tastebuds were numb.

Add to that the fact that it was 105 degrees.

I didn’t get super sick/drunk, but I definitely had too much wine/sugar/heat that day. After that, I paced myself, but I have eaten my body weight in parmesan cheese, salami and sourdough bread—all with a heavy amount of olive oil. Plus, we had dinner in some amazing restaurants and I felt compelled to try a little of almost everything. I feel like that guy on The Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, who takes on every food challenge he can find. 96-ounce steak? Sure! 12,000 hot wings in 10 minutes? Done. I ate the equivalent of a wheel of cheese, had more frisee and tomatoes than I can count. I slurped soup, peeled shrimp and inhaled pasta. I know I’m lucky but I was so happy to have a plain green salad with iceberg and Italian dressing on our way home.

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Last Friday was our 10-year wedding anniversary! Ten years is a big deal for us. We have stayed together through raising three sons (his), the death of two parents (his), biological clocks ticking exploding (mine), job changes (ours), and a million other little things that added up together make for a crazy life.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I probably wouldn’t change a single day of it (well, maybe a couple). I feel lucky to have met and married my best friend, my partner in life, and the one man who’s most equipped to deal with me and all of my idiosyncrasies. I love him more than my shoes and I’m looking forward to many more years together.

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So I turned 40 and it really wasn’t that bad. Certainly not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m not sure what I was expecting—maybe I thought I’d suddenly become decrepit overnight, hunched over, blind as a bat, complaining about my sciatica—but it was a pretty smooth transition. No additional wrinkles, no gray hairs (as far as you know), and I actually feel better than I did in my 20s. I think I look better, too, if I do say so myself.

**********

When I was in Northern California I spent the day with one of my best friends. We met on the first day of high school (twenty-mumble-mumble) years ago and we’re still in touch. She saw me through braces, bad perms and ugly school uniforms and she was my maid of honor at my wedding.We don’t talk often and probably see each other even less, but we seem to pick up right where we left off when we do, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

**********

Tonight I’m putting Crazy Gracie to work. We’re going to take our first agility class together. I’m sure much humiliation (for me) is in the cards. Stay tuned for the update.

Grace Face

There are few things in life that Gracie loves more than her soccer ball. She sleeps with it, she plays with it, she chases it and she squeeks it until it makes my eyes bleed. It’s funny to watch her play because she drop kicks, dribbles and does headers better than David Beckham (seriously, have you seen him play lately? Hawt, but totally losing his edge). She’ll chase and fetch this ball for hours—with our without us. And sometimes at random times—um, 3:00 a.m., really? This is a rare photo of her not in motion with her beloved ball.

Look at this sweet smushy face

Look at this sweet smushy face

Wordless Wednesday

This…

Yes, this is a grocery bag full of hair

Yes, this is a grocery bag full of hair

Came From This…

She no longer looks like this. Now? She looks like a billy goat.

She no longer looks like this. Now? She looks like a billy goat.

Magnify that hair by a thousand or so and that’s what got me thrown out of the dog salon.

As Random As I Wanna Be

randomtuesday

I don’t care how people find my blog, I’m just glad that they do.

TDS

It’s a Blizzard Up In Here

Gracie is blowing her coat so badly that I can pick it off by the fistful. There’s so much that her hair balls look like a litter of puppies running around the house. She’s like a cat horking up her own fur balls.

On Sunday I took Gracie to one of those U-Wash Doggie places. I have a grooming table and professional drier at home, but this place is great because they have a giant tub raised to a level that saves your back from bending over a wiggling, wet dog. The other benefit obviously is that I don’t trash my own house when I’m splashing around with her in the tub, blow-drying her hair all over my yard and being smothered with wet towels.

I brushed and combed her out before rinsing her off to get off as much of the loose hair as I could. I thought I did a pretty good job until the drain got clogged up and I had to clean that out about a dozen times. But when I started to dry her off I realized she was still a hairy, shedding mess. It was so bad—white hair everywhere, circling through the store, covering my face and head and every available surface.

After about 10 minutes, the guy who works there told me I had to stop. I guess another customer didn’t really appreciate Gracie’s hair blowing all over her and her dog.

Now I can say I got thrown out of the dog wash.

Big Fat Nissan Fail

And speaking of wash…Saturday I decided to drive through the car wash. As I was just pulling into it and the water started to dump on my car, my driver’s side window rolled itself down. I scrambled to roll it back up, but it kept trying to roll down part way. I ended up having to hold the button the entire time to keep the window up. I just learned it’s a common problem with Nissan. Their window motors don’t work well, and although they’ll replace it (under warranty), they haven’t gone the extra mile to actually fix the problem with the motors. Kinda stupid if you ask me.

What I’m Reading

Because there are no episodes of The Real Housewives of New Jersey/Atlanta/Orange County, etc. this week, I’ve resorted to actually READING. I used to do that a lot, you know.

I just finished this book:

doggedpursuit

“Dogged Pursuit” is a memoir of a man who spent a year on the dog agility circuit and what he learned about himself from his dog. I read this book one night in one sitting because it reminded me so much of my experiences with Gracie on the dog show circuit. Dog people, scratch that, dog fanciers are a whole, um, breed unto themselves. I’ve been trying to write a post about dog shows, but I can’t quite get the right tone. This book is exactly that. Just swap agility for conformation.

And am now reading this:

scarecrow

I love Michael Connelly and I’m a sucker for a good crime novel. This is the blurb from Publisher’s Weekly:

“Bestseller Connelly comments on the plight of print journalism in a nail-biting thriller featuring reporter Jack McEvoy, last seen in 2004’s The Narrows. When Jack is laid off from the L.A. Times with 14 days’ notice to tie up loose ends, he decides to go out with a bang. What starts as a story about the wrongful arrest of a young gangbanger for the brutal rape and murder of an exotic dancer turns out to be just the tip of an iceberg that takes McEvoy from the Nevada desert to a futuristic data-hosting facility in Arizona. FBI agent Rachel Walling, with whom he worked on a serial killer case in 1996’s The Poet, soon joins the hunt, but as the pair uncover more about the killer and his unsettling predilections, they realize that they too are being hunted. With every switch between McEvoy’s voice and the villain’s, Connelly ratchets up the tension. This magnificent effort is a reminder of why Connelly is one of today’s top crime authors.”

For more randomness on running, video games and hemp, check out The Un Mom.