Saturday, May 29, 2010

Okay! Okay already!

It's wet. We get it.

Good on the rain. But enough is enough! It's been raining nearly constantly for weeks now. And no, that is not an exaggeration. My driveway has yet again been converted into an outdoor swimming pool, so that I have to back into the driveway to ensure that all doors of my vehicle have decent access to relatively puddle-less surfaces.

This is part of the reason that I haven't been posting for the past while. Really haven't been doing much of anything worth writing about! The regular therapy dog visits, this time toting along a towel to dry off fluffy puppies after our mad dash from the car to the building. A lot of sitting around and being depressed because of the grey weather.

Don't get me wrong, I love rain. Give me a good booming thunderstorm and I am a happy happy girl! But this is quite enough of the downpour. I believe the radio informed me the other day that this is the wettest spring that Saskatoon has seen ... ever. Or, at least since people began keeping track of these things. I'm sure things were pretty soggy after the glaciers melted after the last ice age, but really, I wasn't around then and didn't have $100 worth of bedding plants in the ground that would REALLY appreciate a good sunny day or two!

Last week's 52 Weeks for Dogs photo op was dampened (*pun!*) by the rain.

This week saw a similar situation.

The boys are both getting very antsy with this rain business. They don't mind thunderstorms, neither are sound-phobic, but they are suffering from some serious cabin fever. We've been working on scent games and some new tricks to keep furry little brains busy, but it just isn't the same as their regular walks or runs in the park. The dullness of it all has turned Romeo into a pouty lazy bones. He just flops from one doggy bed to the next, not sleeping, just laying there in his own depression. Gio, on the other hand, is taking the opposite route. He's the gurfy pacer, wandering from room to room puffing and sighing, or as he is doing right now, standing at my feet and staring up at me from under the computer desk, hoping beyond hope that I will somehow make this rain stop so that he can get outside again.

Mr. Weather Man says that it is supposed to break next week. Let's hope, for the sake of all our sanity, that this is true.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Can I have a Weekend Yet??

Despite the lack of posts, I can assure you that the boys and I have not been merely lazing around and neglecting our duties online!

The weekend after the Sheltie National (and our last post) was the River Runners' flyball tournament. I'm still a member of River Runners, though I don't currently have a dog competing in flyball. So I still put in my time at the tournament. There were a lot of great new successes at the tournament. One of the fun things about the River Runners' tournament is that it is early in the running season so a lot of the teams bring out their new "green dogs" for their first tournament warm-ups and runs. I love seeing the new kids playing the game!

This past weekend was a CARO Rally-O trial at Paws n Train in Saskatoon. They offered the relatively new "Team" option in CARO Rally-O for the first time in Saskatchewan, so a lot of people were eager to give it a try. Team is a lot of fun, actually! You are paired up with another handler and dog (either choose your own partner or leave it up to random draw) and the course is split in half. The first dog does the first half of the course while the second dog waits in the middle. Once the first dog is finished, the second dog begins the second half while the first dog waits in the middle. Sort of a relay-race pass-the-baton situation. The course is scored as if it were one dog completing it, with the regular requirements of 170/200 to qualify.

Novice level Team was offered this time around, so I had both boys entered. It was a lot of fun, and I am excited to try to run Advanced, Excellent, and Versatility Team once we and the rest of the province progress that far! Gio was paired up with Buddy and they earned their first two legs of Novice Team. Romeo was paired with the cutest Border Collie of all time, Bent, and they rocked it as well, earning their first two legs of Novice Team. One of those runs was a perfect 200/200 score.

In addition to Team, I had the boys entered in some other levels. Romeo was entered in Versatility again, after the very surprising qualifiers from the KAOS trial last month. Romeo, continuing his streak of surprising me (I really should stop being surprised when Romeo is a superstar), completed his Versatility title and earned another Versatility and Excellent leg in C Stream to apply towards his CARO Rally Gold title.

Romeo earning his Rally Versatility (RV) title under judge Jeanne Shaw.

Gio was entered in an Excellent run as well, which he qualified with a lovely score of 198/200!! This finally FINALLY completes his Excellent title, with Magna Cum Laude! HOORAY!! This title has been nearly 2 years in the making. Silly boy just couldn't put it all together enough to Q, despite some really nice runs. I realized that it has taken Gio nearly as long to complete his Excellent title as it has taken Romeo to earn ALL of his CARO titles. Gio finished his Advanced title and began working on his Excellent title at nearly the same time that Romeo entered his first Rally trial ever. So in the same amount of time that Gio took to complete his Excellent title, Romeo has finished his Novice, Advanced, Excellent, Versatility, Bronze and Silver titles. haha Oh Giovanni, such a silly man! But he always has so much fun competing and showing off, so it was worth it all the way. Now we get to play in C Stream while we start training Versatility!

Gio earning his Rally Excellent (RXMCL) title under judge Jeanne Shaw.

And yes, we are still participating in our Flick photo project!

Last week, I started another leg of my career journey. I started my PhD at the University of Saskatchewan looking at canine color genetics and gene interaction. As such, I've taken a pretty significant pay cut, going back onto a student stipend. So I told the boys that they have to start earning their keep. Gio decided to do his part by parking himself in front of the neighborhood convenience store and look pathetic in hopes of donations.

And this past week there was a group challenge on the Flickr project stating simply "Pop Culture". I struggled as to what I might do to represent pop culture. I don't even really know WHAT pop culture is, the definition is pretty vague. When I think of what pop culture is, I think of things like poodle skirts, The Beatles, and Andy Warhol. But what is pop culture in 2010? Fifty years from now, what will the teenagers of 2060 think of when someone mentions 2010? Will our pop culture be reality TV shows, big brands, and social networking? Kinda scary actually.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Be a Scene Girl

How to Be a Scene Girl

Often the youngsters and kids wonder how to be a scene girl. Well, it is not just the hairstyles or clothes that go into making you a look-alike scene girl. If you are desperate to achieve the looks of a cute looking and genuine scene girl, you must first of all develop the courage to sport scene like and scene style culture and behaviors and groom yourself into a Scene Like Personality. Once you are sure that you have all the traits necessary to be a scene girl, rest is all very easy.

The first lesson for how to be a scene girl is to have the haircuts and hairstyles of a scene girl. Despite many similarities in the scene and emo girls hairstyles, there are lots of disparities also such as the very basic attitude of scene girls is to be happy and charming unlike emo kids who tend to be more emotional and sad. Therefore, the hairstyles of scene girls are full of vibrancy and some of the coolest features including layered hairstyles and straight medium curly hairstyles. When it comes to the hair colors of scene haircuts, the trends are generally titling in favor of bright and shining colors such as strawberry red or purple.
How to Be a Scene Girl

Sunday, May 2, 2010

CSSA 2010 Sheltie National Specialty

First things first, sending a BIG shout-out to the people that approached me this past weekend having recognized Gio and/or Romeo from the blog! It's very humbling to realize that real people actually read this blog! It was awesome meeting you all. Sorry I couldn't chat much, but I was working hard on literally running my feet off.

This past weekend was the Canadian Shetland Sheepdog Association 2010 National Specialty in Saskatoon, SK. Of course, I just HAD to enter the boys!

With well over 300 Shelties entered, it was quite the sight! The Specialty offered conformation, obedience, Rally-O, and agility. I had both dogs entered in Brace Obedience and Rally-O, and Romeo entered in conformation.

Despite the really long days, we had an awesome time! It was so amazing to see all of the Shelties there doing what they do best ... looking cute and working hard!

Since the Specialty was offered in conjunction with the Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club show, I was also signed up for obedience and Rally-O stewarding the whole weekend. I think this played a significant part in the less than stellar performances that the boys showed on Friday, but even so, they did really well!

We were fortunate to have Michel Calhoun judge the obedience and Rally-O trials. He is an awesome judge and so much fun to show under! Definitely added to the experience, even if he did tease me mercilessly the entire weekend (good-naturedly, I hope!).

This was our first attempt at Brace Obedience, and while it wasn't perfect, it looks decent on the video and was enough to earn us a score of 190.5/200 and 3rd Place!

Rally-O went along the same vein, with both dogs entered in Advanced B and Excellent B. They finished off their CKC Rally Excellent titles last year and, since I wanted to enter in the Specialty, I decided to try for a leg of their RAE titles (even though I have no real intentions of pursuing it very far). Romeo had two scores of 99/100, one earning him a 3rd Place spot in Advanced B. Gio had scores of 95/100 and 97/100. To give an idea of what the competition was like, I will state that there were 11 Shelties entered in Advanced B and 15 Shelties entered in Excellent B. Of the bunch, I believe there was only 1 non-qualifying score, 2 scores below a 90/100, and the VAST majority of the scores above 95/100. In fact, in Excellent B there were 2 dogs tied for 1st place with perfect scores of 100/100 and a 6-way tie for 3rd place with 6 dogs earning 99/100! It all came down to who could make it through the course the fastest. That is the most intense Rally-O trial I have seen, with a lot of fabulous working Shelties from across Canada!

Romeo and Gio earned 3rd in Class in Brace Obedience, and Romeo took 3rd in Class in Rally-O Advanced B, under judge Michel Calhoun.

Rounding off the weekend was Romeo's first adventure in the conformation ring. He was neutered long ago, but probably could have finished his Championship had he been allowed to keep his boy bits. I entered him in the Altered Class and his breeder, Brenda Newlove of CanyonView Shelties trotted him around the ring for me, where he took Reserve Winners Dog! I always knew Romeo was a good looking dog, so I guess his success didn't come as too much of a surprise. But that doesn't dilute how proud I am of his accomplishments! Huge "Thanks" to Brenda for primping and preening my little man and putting in the leg work to show him off for me.

Romeo took Reserve Winners Dog in Altered Class under judge Judith Kelsey.

Now, on to the fun stuff!

Our obedience/Rally-O judge, Michel Calhoun, asked a favor of some of the Rally-O dogs after the trial on Friday night. I missed most of the story as I was running to my crating area to get my camera, but it is something along the lines of promising to do a favor for a class of children at a local school. He is carrying Flat Stanley (a colorful paper doll of sorts) around with him and documenting Flat Stanley's travels in photographs. So, to prove that he was at a dog show this weekend, he wanted a picture of Flat Stanley with a Shaggle of Shelties*. So here are just some of the dogs entered in the Sheltie-only Rally-O trial, with Flat Stanley front and center. (Sorry I couldn't get a better angle, but it was difficult to elbow my way through the throng of handlers urging their dogs to "stay" ... you try keeping that many Shelties sitting so close together without them spontaneously breaking out into zoomies and play bows!)

Just a moment of serious stuff, now. I have to share a pet peeve of mine with you all. Well, maybe this is a little more than a mere pet peeve. It is bordering on downright disgust! There were a lot of dogs in the trials this weekend, Sheltie-only as well as All Breed. And, with pressure running high and crazy competition, nerves flare up for both handlers and dogs. In cases like this ... shit happens. Literally. There were a fair number of dogs having accidents in or around the rings this weekend. Some newbies and some seasoned vets. And, while really stinky and not pleasant for your friendly neighborhood ring stewards to have to clean up, it happens. We all understand it. What I CANNOT stand is a handler chastising or blaming their dog for soiling the ring! It is NOT their fault! If you want to scold someone, smack yourself upside the head because it is your own darned fault! I do NOT want to see you leaving the ring yelling at your dog and yanking the hell out of their collar all because they had to do a number 2. It is YOUR job to make sure your dogs are pottied before they enter the ring. It is YOUR job to monitor their diet and their nerves before and during a trial weekend. And if, after all your efforts, they still end up soiling the ring, the proper procedure is to quickly apologize to the judge (and stewards for good measure, as it is them picking up your dog's droppings) and rush your dog outside to finish its business without causing a scene. Scolding your dog for doing what it has to do, especially when it is clearly attempting to PREVENT soiling in the ring as you dawdle around trying to finish your performance while blatantly ignoring the dog's distress, is the very LAST thing you want to do. Both for your dog's sake and the sake of your own reputation. I know I'm not the only person tasting bile after witnessing you jerking your dog around after their accident. Smarten up people!

There. That feels better.

Following the "Sandwich Protocol", begin and end with something positive while sticking the nasty bit in the middle, this weekend was absolutely awesome! Lots of great successes from the Sheltie side of things as well as the All Breed side. HUGE congratulations to everyone on their accomplishments! When my feet stop throbbing and I catch up on some sleep, I will post more pictures of the boys with their prize haul. And I have heard rumor that there are some ring-side pictures of Romeo's conformation debut floating around. When I get my hands on those, I will certainly be sharing them here!

* For the definition of a Shaggle of Shelties, check out this previous blog post.