Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cringe, cringe, cringe....

Toe went to his Novice B class today with B and T, his breeders, watching.

Uh.  Right.

It was as if he'd never heeled a day in his LIFE.

He was all over the place, never once looking at me.... it was awful.  I had to call him to heel 300 times and even then he never looked up and he maybe only thought about where I was for a brief moment before he resumed sniffing, investigating and circling halfway across the ring... 

Worst he's ever been and as you can see from the Mountain States video in the last post... it's not like we've ever been rockstar with our heeling as it is.



What can you do other than keep going? 

Dogs and horses.  They keep you humble. 

We finished our class, we did NOT qualify, which doesn't surprise me.  I'm tellin' ya, it was B - A - D, BAD... and not a in good bad ass way either.

Monday we take our first agility class.  At least we will be under instruction and anything we learn can only help.  It couldn't get worse.   I don't think anyway....

I've heard/read about how you have to be the cookie for your dog.  Be the best, most exciting thing so they want to be focused on you and they are ready to spring into action with any word you might utter.


I was mos' def'ntly NOT the cookie today.

I was a piece of 3 month old, unappetizing, boring, dull piece of dryer lint off in the far corner calling Toe heel!  Toe heel!   Toe heel!   

Monday, May 30, 2011

Toe got his CD title!

We showed Saturday - I got there an hour early - it's IN a hotel. Which I thought was weird but they are small dogs and I've been told a lot of small dogs have shows in hotels. 

The hotel saran wrapped the carpeted ballroom floor! And on top of the saran wrap they had placed those mats for dog shows with a ring gate around that....   Next to the dog show ballrooms there was a medical convention with medical talk and slides etc. going on.

I didn't know where to set up my kennel.  No one had kennels in the room with the ring.... there were grooming areas but I hadn't paid for a grooming area because I didn't need one. 

I asked a guy who seemed to be in charge... he put me in a storage room... mostly Toe was going to be with me but if I needed to put him in a kennel for some reason I wanted to have it there.  The store room was an empty ball room with behind the scenes dog show things like more ring gate stuff, extra gift bags, misc. equipment and there was my one solitary kennel for Toe!

I took my Rescue Remedy for nerves... warmed up... Toe did seem really focused on me and happy to work...so I was hopeful. We went in the ring - the on lead heeling was pretty good. Lost focus a couple times, felt the leash get tight a couple times...I stepped on him once when he was not paying attention and I had a left turn... maybe that's good for him to pay attention!!!

He did his stand for exam really well... even tho' he had wiggle butt for the judge... he did his stays nicely.... he came when called with such enthusiasm that people laughed and he sat in front... he finished and sat so his sitter wasn't broken this time like at the Mountain States show.

The off leash heeling? Started out GREAT! and then we did an about turn.

The room was small enough that people were sitting next to the ring - so close their knees were almost touching the ring.  All the shows we've been to, no one really sits next to the ring and I hadn't thought to proof him or expose him to that sort of scenario.

The about turn in my heeling pattern put him next to the people and he thought... "Oh! They are here to see ME!"  He stopped to visit.... walking along the ring gate looking at all the people and wiggling his charming little stump tailed butt.

I had to call him to heel again cuz I had lost him. 

We were in another part of the ring for the off leash heeling pattern, he was distracted by people and went visiting again.... I was halfway across the room and called him to heel a second time... his face clearly said, "Oh yeah! I forgot!"  He came running and was near heel position and then it was over.... shew.

Everyone laughed cuz he was really funny about the visiting.  Hey, at least he was entertaining!

I thought they allowed you to call your dog once but if you did it again you flunked.... and someone said to me after I went - "too bad you had to call him a second time".... so I figured I flunked.

But I passed!

And then I felt guilty. (hello, Catholic schooling for 12 yrs!)

Thought because the judge is a woman I know from tracking and it was a specialty and I know they are more lenient at specialty shows but thought maybe I was an outright cheater cuz of the 2nd call to heel and I still passed  - tho' I didn't ask anyone to pass me... but still, I was more worried about that than the fact I qualified if that makes sense?

Afterward, on my way home,  I called a woman I'd taken a private lesson with to tell her about his qualification and title.  I asked her about the call to heel ... she said yes, at specialties and nationals they are more lenient but you CAN call your dog to heel more than once.

Normally you don't if you want to get a good score but it's not an outright flunk if you do, it's points off and the judges discretion about how many points off.. shew.   I felt better about it.

Wonder if he'll go visiting on Tues now that he's been in the ring and done it and seen how it is??  Will still show Tues. cuz they can't take the title away!  I'm holdin' onto that sucker with both hands!  Grin.

I could see he had improved from his last show at Mountain States and someone told me Saturday,  when he was on, he was spot on... he just isn't on all the time for heeling in the ring.  That is the time thing with me rushing it and thinking he was ready when he just quite wasn't.... so I'm cool with it.

He had improvement and I was happy with that!  His sitter wasn't broken, he wags the whole time he's in there and he had some really nice moments.  Yay Toe!

I wasn't sure what to expect at the show cuz I wouldn't really know anyone... Toe's breeder's, B and T,  told people if they saw a brown dog to introduce themselves to me.  It was funny because people I had no idea who they were would come up and say, "Is this Toe? Hi, I'm so and so...." and we'd chat for a moment.  It was very nice of everyone to do that, I felt very welcomed and everyone was so nice to us.

B and T showed up in the afternoon and I hung with them, watched the conformation dogs go.  Fun to see the English Cockers groomed to the nines.  I would have hung out to watch anyway and was nice to spend some time with such fun people.... 0

B helped me strip Toe to take the fuzziness away and leave the hard coat....I can't seem to get it... he spent 10-15 min showing me and using a stripper on Toe...

Anyway - it was a very nice day, I had a good time and Toe got his CD honestly which makes me feel a lot better!  I dont' want to be a cheater!

The woman from the Mountain States show posted a YouTube of us if you want to see - this is the show we were in May 7 and 8.  Here's the link if you can't see the video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krV9lryF6gg

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rain leads to cheese...

Seemed like everyone else was getting rain except for CO. 

Well... now we have rain. 

Lots of it.  Mini lakes and mud to your knees all over.  I think I saw a school of fish in the goat pen last night.   Since it is cool, muddy and gross outside, I don't really want to be outdoors.  I'm thumbing through my cheese books for recipes.

I'm making a batch of feta right now... remembering when I overheated the milk accidentally but being too cheap and stubborn to dump the milk, I tried the recipe anyway.  The feta turned out really creamy and delicious vs. chunky like you think of feta being.

Today I purposefully heated the milk to 170 vs. 160 while pasteurizing it.  I think the day I discovered this phenomena, I had forgotten the milk on the stove and it hit 180 or 190... I'm playing around with the temperature a little.... seeing what it's gonna do to the cheese.  What will 170 bring? 

Want to try some other cheeses... will do a St. Maure again.  The first time I tried it, it wasn't humid enough for form a rind and I over salted it.   It became inedible as it aged from the salt.  Yuck.

I have some new ideas about aging cheese using humidity.  It's been my biggest struggle...how to get humidity?  *lightbulb goes off*  I'm gonna try clear plastic storage bins... put some water in the bottom, place a rack in the bin,  cheese goes on the rack ... cover it up and voila, humid cheese cave in a very dry clime. 

Added bonus?   Automatic dog protection!  Out of the 7 St. Maure cheeses that were aging at room temperature, we had one disappear without a trace.  We think Sammy, our counter surfer dog,  had a taste....  guess he thought it was too salty too because he never stole another. 

Wanna try a farmhouse cheddar that takes 4 weeks vs. 6 months to age and while I expect failure before I get the hang of it... would love to figure out a Camembert.  I'll keep you posted to my cheesing adventures....

See?   The pastures aren't the only thing benefiting from the rain!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We got a flying change!

My last lesson started out well... we warmed up and immediately hit the shoulder-in on the circle.  That exercise that makes Sera mad?   I'd practiced it at home and was crossing my fingers there would be improvement. 

Sometimes you practice and you think you are kickin' ass and takin' names but when your trainer sees you or you go to a show?  You find out that maybe all that ass kickin' was mostly a mental fantasy vs. reality.

However, this time our shoulder-in on a circle did improve and Sera was more uphill because of it.   While it still made Sera mad, it didn't make her AS mad if that makes sense?  We worked her out of her snit with some leg yields, half pass and trot extensions.... all work she really enjoys.  

We gave her a walk break.

After the break, Rex says, "OK, lets try some flying change... pick up right lead canter and in the middle of the arena, ask for the change to the left lead...."

I took a deep breath, asked for canter, told myself not to think about it too much...  I didn't give myself a warm up circle but looped out of the corner toward the middle of the arena.  I asked for the left lead.

Sera shook her head at me, pinned her ears and tho' I couldn't see, I'm pretty sure she wrinkled her nostrils in distaste at me... and she changed... perfectly... not late no half steps - a solid, clean, flying change!  She stayed relatively round, deep and through!  No kicking out with both hind feet, going on the forehand or inverting into a big, ugly capital U....

I immediately gave her both reins, stood up in the stirrups and began skritching her neck and telling her what a great, smart, fabulous mare she was.   She dropped into a big, springy trot... neck arched, both ears pointed so far forward you'd think they grew out of the middle of her forehead, chest puffed out and she looked so danged PLEASED with herself!

We ended the lesson there....   good, good, red-headed mule! 

Due to the  Equine herpes virus type-1 (EHV-1 or Rhino) neurological outbreak after the National Cutting Association's Western National Championships in Ogden in Utah (April 30-May 8 2011) and with 3 confirmed cases and 9 horses being investigated in CO... we are all staying home until this nasty virus is figured out.  

I can enjoy Sera Sue at home and I'm awful glad I had such a nice lesson to end on if I have to take a break from learnin and workin on new things....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Turd in the punch bowl

That's me.

I'M the turd in the punch bowl.  grin. 

Y'all know I'm trying for Toe's novice obedience title at the English Cocker Nationals on Saturday the 28th and Tuesday the 31st, right?  He has 2 scores and just needs ONE more!  I think we can do it!

To improve our very sucky heeling, I need to get Toe out and about, so he gets used to paying attention to me with all sorts of distractions.  I've been smuggling him to work on cool days (we aren't supposed to have dogs in cars in our parking lot).  I cover his kennel with a blanket so no one can see and he can't see to bark at any one or any thing.  

At lunch time we go on our little adventures.  We go to parks, Home Depot, PetCo, Wilburs Liquor Store, sidewalks in front of strip malls... and I practice heeling with my little stump wagger.

When we practice in public, people will stop to watch the dork with the dog in weird places like a liquor store heeling up and down aisles... making right and left turns... going fast and slow... and some will smile and tell me, "Oh, he's so GOOD!  He listens to every word you say!  How do you do that?  Did you train him yourself?"

And that makes me giggle on the inside because they have no idea that we really suck.

Then I'll go to random obedience drop-in classes.  These classes have people and dogs who have been doing obedience competitively for YEARS.  When I show up to those classes I'm the turd in the punchbowl.  People sort of automatically give me wide berth and instinctively move away from me, not making eye contact.

Toe isn't spot on, competitive obedience like these people and dog teams are.  They don't know what to do with me.  When they group up in teams of 3 for a figure 8 exercise... I'm the last one picked and you can tell the instructor feels sorry for the other 2 people that have to be paired with me.  Or the instructor will make blanket statements loud to all the people like, "If your dog can't do X, let me know..." while looking at me.  

I'm the new face and no one knows what I know or don't know.  Quite frankly, I don't know what I do or don't know anymore either.... dog training is really different after 10 years!

It's o.k.  I don't take offense at all.  I know I sort of rushed this novice obedience thing without realizing it.  For some reason after 8 or 10 years pass, you forget how much goes into all the obedience work and it seems like it should be easier than it is... you sort of think you know more than you do and then you find out ya really don't. 


And did I tell you I signed up for a June 6 beginner agility class?  Gulp.  Agility scares me - I think The Little Toe dog is gonna think agility is great fun... and as long as he's happy....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Strawberry Avocado salsa

I tear out magazine pages of recipes, I put them in plastic sleeves and I keep them in a binder.  I have one binder for meals and one binder for desserts/baking.

Dork much?  Yes.

We try new things a lot with this method of recipe hunting I have.  Some of them are gross and earns that magazine page a trip to the trash.  Some are pretty good but the time, effort and dirty dish ratio to make them means we will rarely make it again. Other times things are really, surprisingly GOOD and EASY and have a pretty low dirty dish ratio when all is said and done!

This is one of those surprisingly good, never in a million years woulda thought to pair these 2 things together, so glad I tried this recipe and it's so easy sort of magazine pages.

Brought to you by Cooking Light - strawberry avocado salsa with cinnamon tortilla chips....

2tsp canola oil
6 (6 inch) whole wheat flour tortillas
2tsp sugar
1/2tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups chopped ripe avocado (about 2)
1cup chopped strawberries
2Tbl chopped cilantro
1tsp minced seeded jalapeno pepper
2tsp lime juice
pinch of salt

preheat over to 350

brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla

combine sugar and cinnamon - sprinkle evenly over oil-coated side of tortillas. Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges (I used a pizza roller) arrange wedges into single layer on 2 baking sheets bake at 350 for 10 min or until crisp.

Combine avocado and remaining ingredients, stir gently to combine - serve with chips. Chips can be made in advance - cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

So light, refreshing, unexpected.... the hint of cinnamon is a taste sensation with the salsa... the whole wheat tortilla chips ground the flavor with that nutty whole wheat tone.... this is definitely gonna be my "go-to" summer dish for any parties or potlucks.
A friend of mine thinks it sounds gross... not sure she'll make it even with all my crazy pleading for her to just try it!  If you end up making it, tell me what you thought.  Is it as big a hit in your house?  I'd love to know!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Car Shopping

Furry Husbands car took a major dive.  It was slowly falling apart before our eyes and we weren't going to sink any more money into it....   he began car shopping.  No new cars, simply new to us. 

He decided on a Subaru Forrester....

Every one we found would be snatched away - sold - before we could look at it.  We decided to widen the search area and voila! 

I found one 30 min from the dog show I was at last weekend...

Sunroof, heated seats, breaking the pattern of all white cars with the color black and most importantly a MANUAL transmission.  Very few cars are manual anymore and this is something Furry really wanted.

I called the dealer three or four times that day... I couldn't get out there before they closed that day to see it... but I'd be out the next day for the dog show and could I come see it then?  Did they need a deposit to hold it?  They wouldn't sell it out from under us?  It was exactly what we'd been looking for! 

Yeah - the opposite of what you are supposed to do with a used car dealer I'm sure.  The complete and total opposite.  Showin' all my goods.  I know.  I'm an idiot.

Saturday I left to go see this Forrester from the dog show.

Furry Husband calls and says, "Honey?  I'm off the Forrester.  I decided I want an Outback instead.  That dealer has a 2005 manual transmission Outback... will you look at that one instead?"

I rolled my eyes at his fickleness with cars but said I'd look at the Outback instead.  I didn't think to call the dealer and tell him about the change of plans.... a used car lot is a used car lot is a used car lot.  Right?


This particular dealer keeps all the cars bumper to bumper in a warehouse/showroom.  Nose to tail.  So tightly parked you can't even walk betwixt them.

I walked into the showroom.

The sales guy shakes my hand eagerly - awaiting his easy sale. 

The Forrester is polished up, apart from the showroom of sardine-like packed cars, lights shining down upon it and he says, eyes bright..."And HERE is the Forrester!"  I think he even moved his arms like Vanna White showcasing a letter in the Wheel of Fortune.

I didn't even glance at the Forrester.

I said, "Um.  Yeah.  My husband doesn't want the Forrester anymore.  He wants me to look at the 2005 manual transmission Outback Turbo."

The sales guy was completely still.  Smile stuck on his face.  You could tell he was trying to understand what my mouth just said....  and then?  His whole face crumpled and he uttered a very quiet, "Oh."
He slowly looked back over his shoulder at the warehouse of cars parked headlight to taillight....   the Outback Furry wanted me to look at was in the far corner, next to the warehouse wall, 3 cars deep from the side and 12 cars deep from the front.

The sales guy swallows hard and says quietly... eyes forming tears and lingering on the magnificent Forrester showcased in all it's shiny, black glory.... "Well... I'll need to move some cars around...."

Poor guy.

I had to pee super bad and I didn't want to wait for him to move 15 cars. 

Yes the showroom had a bathroom but it was 4 walls with no ceiling, in the middle of a warehouse... with 5 salesmen sitting in a group outside the bathroom.  You KNOW each and every drop of urine I expelled would be heard by ALL of them.

I have a shy bladder. 

I'm not peeing in a bathroom projecting sound like a friggin auditorium in a warehouse full of guys.  Besides, you know the second I tried it,  a fart would emerge and it'd be a really embarrassing fart noise, not a cute dainty girl fart but a big, disgusting sound you could never pass off as a squeak from your shoe, sort of noise.

I tell the sales guy - look - we have an appt with the Longmont Subaru dealer to have a car checked out on Monday from your place.  If you take the Outback in on Monday and it checks out,  we can go from there.  I'm sure this car starts and drives.  I don't need to drive it.

I leave the dealer and head back to the dog show. 

Furry Husband calls and asks me about the car.  "Did you drive it? Is is fast!?"

I decide to tell a white lie.... I really, really  have to pee and I think I might wet myself at this point.

Yup!  It sure is zippy, honey!

He replies, "Oh good!  Because I found the exact same car here in Ft. Collins - everything is the same except the one I found isn't a turbo.  The dealer is letting me take it home tonight so when you get home you can drive it and tell me the difference!"


Crap, crap, crap.

See what happens the minute you tell a lie? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Favorite New Blog Posts

Went to Mountain States dog show this weekend... picked up a second leg for Toe's novice title.  His heeling is still really sort of suck-i-licious. 

Like a banana flavored Tootsie pop. 

You think it's gonna be good until you put it in your mouth and then all you wanna do is lick the carpet to take the flavor away....

BUT, my good friend and dog diva, Hez, was there and watched us go.  She gave very helpful advice and it was like a life line given to someone floundering in a pool of heel. 

We'll see if I can't work on making Toe and I's heeling much better and not so painful to watch for the English Cocker National show at the end of the month.  English Cocker National??   Wha?? 

It's the SUPERBOWL for English Cocker Spaniels.... think of  Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl.....only all English Cockers.... YAAAAAAAA

The people who created Toe are are gonna be there and my goal was to get his Novice title in front of them... give a little shout out to their breeding program, kennel name and a thank-you for my wonderful, stump-tailed, happy dog that I love.

In honor of dogs, dog training and the challenges one might find therein, please go read the posts listed below.  You won't be sorry.




I was having trouble taking in air after reading these posts because I laughed so hard .... it was a welcome change from the sadness of the last post.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This is Brandon.  The bay, 15.1 or 15.2 gelding....   my Mom bought him for $1,200.00 in 1986 for me.  He was 8 yrs old and I was 16 at the time.  I send the woman I bought him from an update every Christmas. 
 I started riding him as a hunter/jumper.  We jumped 3'6" fences... he rushed his fences.  Always rushed and used that giant neck o' his to get him up and over the jumps.  His sire was an Appaloosa, his dam a Quarter Horse. 

I took some eventing lessons on him back in the early 90's.  He didn't rush the cross country jumps, he really enjoyed them and went right along jumping all of them.  I almost entered a 3 day event show but the entry fee was too high for me so I never did.

When I was 16, I was in a bad car accident that broke my leg cuz of a drunk driver running a stop sign.  The very next weekend I was supposed to go on a mock fox hunt with Brandon.  I woke up in the hospital wondering if I could ride in the hunt with a cast....
 I started taking Dressage lessons on Brandon in 89' I think... walked up to a house that someone told me the woman inside gave lessons.... knocked on the door. 

She and her family were getting ready for church but she took down my number and I started taking lessons in Dressage from her.  I'm still good friends with that woman and joke that she is my 2nd mother.  She has 3 daughters and 1 son ... one of her daughters is my age.  I began taking lessons from her oldest daughter when she retired from teaching.  And her son is one of our neighbors...

They all know Brandon and have known him since I knocked on that door one Sunday....

 Brandon used to throw riders that couldn't sit his trot and I was dumb enough to put beginner riders on him thinking THIS time, he'd be good.  He had a wide back and didn't move much but the trot is hard for people who don't ride. 

He was really comfortable to ride bareback...  I used to try to hop on him like some people can without the aid of a fence or step up.   Poor Brandon would stand there and tense up cuz every time I tried, I just kneed him in his kidneys and never really made it up.   I gave up the idea and Brandon breathed and I'm sure, peed, a little easier.
 The last show I rode him in was at First Level  in Casper, WY.  He took a first place and a second place. 

I used to ride him before Dressage was very well known around here and he used to get first or second placings in the Dressage Suitability classes.  This was definately pre-warmblood horses and way before Dressage took off in CO!
As he aged, he had ringbone and Cushings.  We bought him boots to help his feet when they got sore from the founder Cushings causes... sometimes they worked, sometimes not.   Most recently he was on Previcox and was really doing well. 

I groomed him this past Thursday night - got his top lip going cuz he was itchy with winter hair - Furry Husband fed before I was done grooming and Brandon was prancing and trotting ahead of me on the way back to his pen cuz he wanted to get to his mush.  It made me laugh at his old man antics. 

Even tho' he couldn't eat hay anymore, he still was the boss of everything...

Anywhere I'd ever boarded him or kept him, he was always the top horse.  When I brought home young TB horses he kept them in line and they looked to him for comfort.  He was a very wise babysitter and disciplinarian.  One look would put Sera and Rosso on their best behavior.

When our young Holsteiner colt hurt himself so badly one night long ago, Brandon nickered and nickered until we came to see why he was calling softly over and over and over.   If not for Brandon, we wouldn't have found our colt til morning.   Our colt still died but at least his suffering didn't last all night long.
 He used to look in our bedroom window when we first moved into this house - before we had our pens set up.  He would stare and when he caught sight of movement or heard us talking, he would nicker until we got up.  When we came out of the house, he'd be standing next to his food tub.  We always got a kick out of that.

Brandon was a good friend. I enjoyed his friendship for a long, long time and he was a really great little horse.
Sunday afternoon Brandon colicked.  He was very painful - normally stoic - not so much with this one and I knew it was bad.  Our vet lives 4 houses down and was over in 10 minutes.  He either had a twist or a tumor strangling his intestines.  We put him down in our front pasture before he was in agony.  He didn't suffer long or much.

A service called Greener Pastures came to get him the next morning.  We weren't home.  Didn't wanna be home.  She takes them to Ault, CO and buries them individually - said she says a prayer for them before they are buried.  That felt comforting.

I'm doing o.k.  I knew he was old and wouldn't last forever.... he was 33.  It brings me great comfort and peace of mind to know I was there to help him quietly and peacefully out of this world.  He brought me so much happiness and taught me so very much. 

We loved him and he will be missed.