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Roll call time; youngest to oldest.

Jaguar Noir - he turned 3! Still as psychotic as ever. Entered in his first AKC trial a few weeks ago and did not take a single jump. Ran around like a lunatic as soon as I released him. Oh well. He's still super cute. He also measured 16.5". So he's super tiny too.

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Banger - the best beast. It's still an emotional roller coaster with him. That trial a few weeks ago was our first trial since Florida in January. He put in 4 really good runs, wound up winning the only class he Q-ed in - made even sweeter because two dogs before we were going into the ring, he noticed a girl playing on the stairs behind us and completely lost it. The whole tail tucked, eyes wide, hitting the end of his leash trying to bolt thing. Makes me so sad for him. But I was able to connect with him again and by the time I took his harness off in the ring he was back to barking and spinning and wanting to run. Leaving for Europe in two months. I'm very excited, even if Jaguar probably isn't going to stay in the ring. But whenever I think about leaving Banger I just feel sick. I wish things could be different.

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Took my trailer down for that trial. Didn't stay on the show site, but at a state park a mile down the road. We got a spot on the lake and on Saturday we were done by noon so I spent a long time lounging under the trees while the dogs played on the beach. It was perfect. Except every time I let the dogs out to potty, Banger made a bee line to the water. Still, that thing is easily the best investment I've made in years.

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Mal - he's naked! And so much happier. I know there's a lot of people who are against shaving double coated breeds. But here's the thing - he was so hot. And tick checks after a hike were a nightmare. And he collected every piece of flora. And I could brush and brush but there would be mats again the next day. It was obscene. So away the hair went. We went hiking that first day and he ran and ran with the black dogs. Usually he stops after the first mile and trots in front of me the rest of the way. He likes it, that's what matters.

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Komet - physically, he's doing fantastic. He's rolling around on his back again, which he hasn't done in a while, so I know he feels good. But mentally I think he's going. Or, rather, I know he's going deaf and I think that's freaking him out. He can't hear me call him, then cowers when I go get him to bring him and runs and hides in the bedroom when we get inside. I don't know what that's about. It means he probably doesn't get to come hiking anymore. He can still go to the agility field, where it's fenced, and hunt and sunbathe and roll around all he wants.

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I think that's about it. It's probably not, I might be missing something major. But maybe not.

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I think

I think maybe Banger does not go to Europe. He would not like it. He would not like the airport, the terminal, the plane ride. He would not like the streets, the cafes, how busy the world is. He would not like the sounds, the smells, anything unexpected so far from home. He would not like staying in a stranger's house with strange dogs. He would not like road tripping in a small camper with the other dogs and a man he doesn't know. Maybe he would like the 120 seconds he spends in the agility ring. But, then again, maybe not. This is Banger after all. And the other 2 weeks would be torture for him.

We've tried. Lots of cookies, small outings, going very slow. But still, he freezes. Eyes wide, tail tucked, spinning, trying to slip his collar or his harness, trying to escape. Sometimes I think we're getting somewhere. He jumps out of the car, relaxed and happy. Trots through the parking lot, then somebody shuts a car door somewhere and it's all over, he becomes desparate trying to bolt. It makes me sad for him. And I can't put him through several weeks of that. His little heart would burst.

So maybe this is a Jaguar only trip. It would certainly make my life easier. One dog, one crate. Jaguar would love the adventure. Jaguar loves the streets, the cafes, how busy the world is. He is good with sudden noises, sudden changes, he recovers brilliantly from the unexpected. He loves other people, other dogs. He may be a fucking psycho for those 120 seconds he spends in the agility ring, but the other two weeks would be so much fun for him. And, in turn, fun for me because I'm not constantly worried about my dog's emotional well-being.

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Everything about this dog is happy. Always.

So now, what do we do about Banger for 2 weeks? I love my co-workers, but I honestly don't trust them with him. Komet and Mal - no problem. Banger - big problem. And my yard is probably only Pyr Shep friendly because I'm there - he would be over that fence in half a second otherwise. Ironically, Banger's breeder lives a little over an hour away. I should make her take him. But I haven't talked to her in almost a year and she makes it a point to pretend he and his brother don't exist. I have my dog friends in Georgia, but it would have to be a crate and rotate situation and Banger isn't a crate and rotate dog. Bad things happen, his obsessive compulsive behavior would rapidly spiral out of control. Boarding him would be his worst nightmare. He is probably the least adaptable dog I know. This is legitimately why he was coming along to begin with. Because it feels like I have no other option. Banger and I are attached, he comes with me or we don't go. And I want to go.

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Do you know what it's like to love a creature such as this? It's not easy.

Up to Now

And so Komet turned 12, he seems to be much improved. He got a round of acupuncture, his back was twitching the entire time. Banger also had acupuncture done. One of the vets I work for has studied eastern medicine and she has some ideas on helping B's anxiety. She thinks Banger is a "fire" dog, so I need to switch his food to a "cold" diet. She placed needles in calming spots and gave me some chinese herbs to try. We'll see. I'm not 100% sold on the idea, but it can't hurt to try.

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And then there was a boy. Then there wasn't because it turns out he's into hypnotism and didn't tell me until he tried to hypnotize me while we were in bed together a month into it. Fuck no. But I had to fake it because I didn't want to embarass him. So terrible. Kudos to me for not laughing in the middle of my "trance". On one hand I should be disappointed because we were so compatible - but that was way too weird. Afterwards he told me it's a hobby he enjoyed and he wanted to keep doing it. To me. I can't make this shit up. Luckily I'm relatively heartless so it's just hilarious and I've moved on in life. So yeah, back to just being me and dogs. I think I prefer this anyway. I have so much more time to do the things I want to do.

Which is everything. I go to seminars at the East Tennessee Museum. I go to concerts in record shops. I go to plays put on by the community college. My friends and I go downtown to drink, or go to board game nights at each other's houses, or brunch on Sunday mornings. The dogs do agility and they hike and they live. We take the trailer down to Georgia to stay at a friend's place where we ride horses and train dogs and goof off all weekend. Today marks my 6th anniversary since arriving in Oregon. I could not have possibly imagined the places I'd end up, but I'm so glad it all happened.

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I love my new job. The vet I work for is one of the top veterinary oncologists in the country; he writes the exam it takes to become board certified. And he is bursting with knowledge. Every Friday morning he teaches at the local vet school and skypes us in so we can watch his lectures. We have several studies going on in regards to cancer research. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be part of his team, we've travelled to clinics all over the area to treat patients. Sometimes the cases are emotionally heavy, but that makes every animal we put into remission so much sweeter. I still pull the occasional ER shift when they need help and that satisfies my adrenaline craving, and I actually have two outstanding job offers from vets I used to work for but have gone on to start their own thing (one is a GP clinic 1.4 mi from my house and the other is a mobile ultrasound practice) but for now, I'm happy here.

And the Shrimpy Thing learned to weave. FINALLY. How long have I been saying that I was going to train this? At least a year. Well, we did it. He single steps and it's the cutest damn thing. He often doesn't wait to come all the way back to me at the start before diving into the poles again. Entries are much improved. I can toss him in a tunnel and he exits just a few feet in front of the first pole and he still hits them. The biggest challege is adding my motion. That's when he loses his damn mind, ducks out, and just races to the end. Oh Puff. But he's growing up. I entered him in an AKC trial next month. Just JWW and T2B. He probably won't do the weaves at a show, (if we get that far), it will probably jack him up and he'll race around like a lunatic. But we can try. All we can do is try.

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Shit

About a month ago I woke up and found poop in the living room. What the hell? Then it happened again a few days later. So I started shutting the bedroom door with the dogs inside at night. Then two weeks ago I was sitting on the couch in the evening, on my laptop, and I hear this weird digging in the carpet noise. I turn around and Banger is fucking pooping. Right there! I am three feet away. I yelled "NOOOOOOO!" and drug him outside by the scruff. Fucker.

Then two nights ago I get up from the couch to go to bed, and notice there is poop again! But...I'm 99% sure this is Jaguar. He was switched to raw food at the beginning of the year and this was the small, crumbly dry raw food poop. I didn't catch him, so I just picked it up and whatever. Last I leave them outside after dinner for a while. And you know what? When I got up to get dinner there was POOP! Again, probably Jag's. And then it happens again tonight. More Jaguar poop in the living room. Are you guys for real? Stop fucking pooping in the house. I guess it's better than peeing because it's easy clean but jesus christ. Why? Why can't you idiots go outside like the normal dogs?

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Shithead #1 and Shithead #2

A little bit louder now

I start a new job this week. Sort of. I moved from Emergency to Oncology. Same hospital, different department. I'm excited and nervous. I love ER, I love the people, I love the adrenaline rush, I love the complex cases; I didn't love working weekends or the long hours. Instead of 3 12-hour shifts, I'm now at 4 10's, which will be much easier on the dogs (although having 4 days off is the bomb). And now I can go to dog shows on weekends without having to worry about coverage. If it was most weekends, that would be fine. But it was every Saturday, 9a-9p. All the fun things happen on Saturdays - the farmer's market, board game night with friends, fun matches. Worse case scenario, I move back to ER. It's not at all that I didn't like it, but an opening came up and I jumped at it. I'm learning so much already. Part of my job will be managing the clinical trials we've got going on; contacting sponsors, visiting local vet clinics to recruit patients, and of course record keeping. But dang, I'm helping cure cancer under one of the best oncologists in the country. Is there a better job?

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Banger turned five years old. Although I took him hiking by himself on Monday, at a place that I knew was going to be relatively busy but I've been wanting to check it out this it was an opportunity to do so with one dog (we were car number 5 in the parking lot at 7am, that's ridiculous). Twice when somebody would appear on the trail ahead, I'd call him back, leash him and step off to the side so they could pass - they commented on how he's "just a puppy". I'm sure that was because he was behaving like an untrained moron while I'm telling him "stop no sir knock it off stop hush that's enough stop", but it made me smile. Half a decade with this dog and some things never change.

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I bought airline tickets for our overseas trip! We have one week in Italy with Luca (who owns Puff's brother), we take his RV up to Germany for the PS show (where 2 other Puff siblings are competing), then we travel over to France to see Emmanuelle (Puff's breeder). I get dropped off in Calais where I rent a car and...I haven't figured out what to do with that second week. We could go to KC Fest in England, see some friends, do more agility. Or we could drive south and backpack through the Pyrenees before flying out of Paris. I think the dogs would be happy either way. So would I.

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I have buckled down on Jaguar's weaves. He's going to learn this. We practice every day. But my goodness, I'm not saying that's dumb, but he's not that bright either. It's hard not to compare him to Banger, who is so freakishly smart. Jaguar is just Jaguar. And I love him. But we're at 12 poles, channels, 2-4" apart, straight entries only. If I move him a little to the left or right, he'll hit the entry then run parallel to the poles, he won't make the turn for the rest. I tried just 6 for a while, but that was harder for him than 12; he was popping out everywhere and completely baffled by the whole thing. But, still, he's happy. So I'm trying to keep it that way. Light, no pressure. If it takes us several months, then it takes us several months. We'll close the 12 in the next few weeks then train on just 3 for a while.

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Mal remains unchanged. There's something to be said for being so reliable. When we go hiking, I usually only take two leashes. We hardly ever see people in our forest and the black dogs are the only ones who need it when we encounter somebody. Mal can either walk past people without bothering them or down-stay on the side of the trail. And I just pick the Schnauzer up because he's all of 10lbs.

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He'd been doing well for so long - hiking several times a week without any problems. But Komet had a bad day today. I came home and he was laying on my bed instead of greeting me with the others. I let the herding dogs out and went back for him and he stood up then laid back down. I set him on the floor and he took a few steps and laid down. So I carried him outside, fed him dinner, gave him Tramadol and Carprofen and let him nap on the couch with me. He was much better a few hours later, still unwilling to jump on or off furniture but at least is walking around the house (albeit very stiffly and kind of leaning to the left). He's also fairly deaf now. When I leave in the morning, Jaguar goes in a crate in my room while Komet, Banger and Mal just get shut in the bedroom. If I forget something, like my shoes, and go back in - Mal and B are bouncing around, happy to see me while Komet is on the bed, back to me, staring out the window - waiting to watch me walk out to the car and having no idea that I've returned. He turns 12 in a week, but seems so much older.

The things I mean to write about but don't

So we went to EO Tryouts and had a grand time. Then we went on a quick trip down to Texas for the holidays and it was super fucking stressful because my parents are divorced and can't communicate like adults. Then we went down to Florida for UKI's Southeast Cup then winter camp with MEB and Karen Holik - so much fun. Jaguar kind of did agility. It was shocking. Banger smiled a lot. We camped in my trailer. Best purchase I made last year.

Decided not to enter the PS Nationals, even though it's 3 hours away. Just no room in the budget for 2 dogs, 4 days and multiple disciplines of AKC (agility for B and Puff, confo for Puff, obed/rally and dockdiving for B) + breed banquets, breed evaluations by the french judge and whatever the fuck else they think of. Even if I entered just Banger in agility for the weekend, it's still not cheap, especially since I'm not trying to qualify for anything for AKC. I'm not going to the NAC or WTT and we're all set for EOTT later this year. And I guess one reason to go would be to show off Puff in case somebody wants to breed to him but I have zero motivation for letting anybody on this continent use my dog. He's stellar, their bitches are not. The studs they are currently breeding to are not. The puppies they are pumping out are not. So whatever. And I'm not terribly interested in Cynosport either, even though it's like 2 hours away. Just no money to get the beastie qualified and no money to miss work and spend $$$ on the actual event because...

I entered the Germany trial :) It wound up being like $32 total in entry fees for each blackdog to have 4 runs over a weekend. We've gotten our confirmations, we're in. So we need to save all our pennies for that. We'll do some UKI here and there, and the US Open of course, but this will be a quiet year of agility for us.

There was probably more that was going to be said. Or maybe there was less. Here are some pictures and a video of Banger doing that thing he's starting to enjoy.


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Round 4 of tryouts.

He looks happier doesn't he? I think we all are. 

Fire on the Mountain

For the entire month of November, Knoxville has been filled with smoke. There were countless wildfires in the mountains surrounding the city. Between the drought and leaf litter, everything was burning. Being outside for any length of time meant searing lungs and watering eyes. We barely hiked or did agility. The blackdogs were going batshit. Going down to Georgia for the US Open was our first breath of literal fresh air in a while.



Then, on November 28th, it got really bad. The best way I can explain it to the Northwesterners is this - imagine two kids playing with fire up on Mt Hood (with a strictly enforced burn ban in effect), the forest catches fire, Paradise Park is razed, Timberline Lodge is burned to the ground, half of Goverment Camp is gone, and people are dead. Well. That's what happened. Two kids were playing with fire in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the forest caught fire, Chimney Tops razed, Westgate Lodge is burned to the ground, half of Gatlinburg is gone, 14 people are dead, more are still missing. I stayed up all night glued to the news. From my front porch I could see the fire on the mountains creeping down. By morning, the rain had come, but it was too late. 10 days and several storms later, the fire still smolders and is only 82% contained.


T: this is the fire approaching Dollywood ^







Then we left for EO Tryouts a few days later. When I returned I jumped into action, volunteering at the Sevier County Fairgrounds - where all the animals were being housed. We are the Tennessee Volunteers for a reason. The outpouring of support from the community is overwhelming. We have pallets upon pallets of supplies for the animals and the people. Restraunts were donating meals (for lunch today we had spaghetti from a local Italian joint), Costco is out of bottled water because it is all being bought and donated to the first responders, Dolly Parton is being incredibly generous (hell, she owns half of Pigeon Forge anyway), it goes on. I'm so proud to be from here. I love this place.

The animals themselves are being held in what's essentially a warehouse. There are hundreds housed in a maze of cages and tarps. Because the fire happened so quickly people were unable to get home once given the order to evacuate. I can't even imagine that nightmare. Policemen and Firefighters went door-to-door during and after the fire, whether it was a rescue or recovery mission. Every few hours a truck full of pets would arrive at the fairgrounds. They would be processed, treated and cared for until their owners could be located. Most of them have smoke inhalation injuries, many have burned and melted pads as they tried to flee, some have more severe burns on their body. Cats have their whiskers singed and white fur is now grey from soot, their eyes are swollen shut. They are all starving. There are dead animals being pulled up from the river. One dog has a broken pelvis as he was crushed by a fallen tree. One cat was found hiding, partially submerged on the first step of a swimming pool (god bless the person who thought to look there) - she's fine, however, her owners haven't been located. Even the mayor's house is gone, and his big tan dog is hanging out with us. But the reunion between a family and their pet. That's everything. It makes up for the owners who stop by looking for an animal we don't have.



Gatlinburg opens up to the public tomorrow. I expect a lot more animals will be coming in then as more strays are found but hopefully some of them can go home too. My work is super awesome and for every hour we volunteer, they donate $20 to the cause. I run into co-workers almost every shift. This afternoon I was actually assigned to my favorite doctor from my previous clinic. This year's Christmas gifts will all be from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. East Tennessee will heal. The South will rise again and all that. Hug your dogs (and cats), we are all one natural disaster away from losing everything.

EOTT 2016

:D :D :D

That's all. 

Impulse Buy

After a hotel fiasco at the US Open (which I will post about...later...just know that B is phenomenal) I went out and bought an RV today. Hopefully I have her in time for her maiden voyage to be to EOTT, I'll know by Tuesday morning when I can pick her up.

This is the model, I paid a good bit less, but you get the idea :)
http://www.rvtrader.com/dealers/Cedar-City-RV-3029472/listing/2017-Coachmen-C-Express9.0-119601617

I know she's small, but I just want a roof, a bed, and a good book. And I'm tired of paying pet fees and sneaking dogs in and out of hotels. I love her already.

So Much

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I accidentally locked the border collie outside again last week. I thought all the dogs had come inside so I closed the door and went back to my bedroom. Maybe half an hour later I realized that there were only three dogs in the house, sure enough Mal was just laying on the back porch, patiently waiting. If was any of the other three, they'd be down the street. When Mal was a puppy I had these rules, you know, don't bust through the door when I open it, wait to be invited on the furniture, etc. It was mainly to protect the Schnauzers. Then I got Banger. And Banger has no frustration tolerance, if he has to wait at the door, he's going to redirect and bite somebody (always Mal). If I don't let him up on the couch, he'd go destroy something. So I scrapped the rules. Fuck it, I said, we're going to be feral. And that's why the Pyr Sheps are such nightmares. But Mal, even though it's been almost 5 years, has a hard time with it. He still waits at the door to be let inside while everybody else runs inside. Maelstrom. Just get in the damn house.

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This photo was taken directly after the one above. I said "ok" and three dogs were more than happy to run to me for a treat while Mal is certain that this is a trick and he's going to be a good dog and wait. Every time I take a group picture, this is how I release them and every time this is what he does. And, do you see where Komet is going? Thankfully the blackdogs are fast because Komet's path is right where they are (he crosses behind them). He's so oblivious to the world around him. I'm also thankful the blackdogs think as fast as they run because they have to jump over him multiple times each hike.

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Komet had a dental two weeks ago, some more teeth were removed and now he has no incisiors at all. It's fun to give him treats because it just gets sucked back into his mouth. He only hikes with us every other day now. I hate leaving him behind but he gets sore quickly, even on anti-inflammatories and narcotics. Then, he started coughing a week ago. That might be bad. At least, it never seems to be good when an 11 year old dog is coughing. I had bloodwork done about 3 weeks ago and it was perfect. I'll take him to work with me on Monday for radiographs.

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I really love Autumn. This is the first year I've had to truly experience it. Texas is brown all year long while Oregon is green with a few splashes of orange. But Tennesee is a thousand colors and each time we go our forest, it's a little bit different. Soon it will be bare. The photos above were taken in the same exact spot 10 days apart. I'm also glad the woods aren't so dark anymore and I can get pictures of the gang in focus.

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Ok. So with the US Open and EOTT right around the corner, we're at the agility field 3 times a week. Can I just say how freaking awesome this Tiny Puff is? He's in Loretta Mueller's online class and is really rocking it. It's a bit below his skill level, I think, but Silvia's class was a bit over his head. Such a super shrimp. Speedstakes at the Open will probably go exactly how it went a year ago, but I think he's learned a lot since then.

Like I said. US Open in 2 weeks. EOTT in 4. Banger is entered at 20" for the US Open. I really went back and forth over which height to enter him at, especially with the PA trip just 2 weeks after where he's at 24". But he had such a meltdown at 26" last year that I want him to let go and have fun and the easier life is, the better. I don't think he struggles at 24", I don't even think it's much of an effort for him. The bars that come down at 24" would also come down at 22"/20" and it's always because I'm right in his way. So we'll go down to Georgia, jump some baby jumps and he'll do everything in extension and not listen at all :) And so long as he's happy, I'm happy.



I'm always interested in which of the blackdogs is faster. Sometimes it's Bang, sometimes it's Jag. Only recently has Puff actually been able to run sequences clean. And it's not exactly a true representation because Puff is jumping .5" below his whithers and B is jumping 4.5" above. Still, I think when Jaguar matures a little bit and understands a bit more, he's going to rule the world.

And, speaking of ruling the world, I've got a plan for Banger. He has to go out in public at least twice a week. Just fun, short trips armed with cookies and CU excerises. This week he went to a random vet to have his microchip scanned. He thought that was very cool and exciting. Then to a pet store in the morning when it was empty to buy a bone. He was fine until somebody else came in and wheeled a cart past us while we were checking out. That was less cool and exciting. We have 8 months to work up to our big trip. We can do this.

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The blackdogs race, Mal lopes, Komet wanders and all is right in the world

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