Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring flowers

My new flowers are not only still alive, but doing well.  If I can make it the whole summer with just one set, that would be a record for me!

Monday, April 20, 2015

First time for everything

We headed back to Texas for another Run As One agility trial this weekend.  This time the location was supposed to be outdoors on grass at a ranch north of Dallas.  We had been promised the location was lovely, and about an hour closer to home for us so we were excited.  But due to the amount of rain they have had in texas they warned us late in the week there was a chance the trial might need to be moved to their regular covered arena location south of Dallas, where we went in November.  But by Friday morning we got the all clear that we were good to go at the Denton location and no one needed to change hotel reservations.  Friday we drove to Denton without incident and settled into our hotel for the evening.  Right before we shut off the lights I checked my email one last time and found out that there had indeed been too much rain and vehicles who had attempted to set up at the ranch were getting stuck and sinking into the mud.  So, the trial would be moved to the Terrell location, 70 miles from our hotel.  But with a 10:00 start time to compensate.

So, we got up, made the drive and had a relatively nice day.  I only had the girls in 4 runs each.  Lyric picked up a tunnelers and a regular, but pooped out and didn't really run for me in jumpers.  Legend had a wild run in weavers, picked up one regular and had a lovely chances run except for not doing the out barrel.  Really, a barrel in chances?  She doesn't even know a word for barrel, much less recognize it as an actual obstacle with specific performance criteria.  But the rest was nice, she did all the parts she knew how!

The initial plan was to hope that the field in Denton dried enough to be used Sunday but with more rain expected that wasn't going to happen.  Now, why didn't we just stay at the back-up location of the horse farm?  Because there was a horse event there on sunday and they didn't want to cancel.  So we had to pack up the whole trial and move to the back-up back-up location of the trial host's home!  They had their property nearly ready to hold a trial anyway and the location really is lovely.  They even invited Linda and I to stay with them Sunday night rather than drive the hour back to the hotel for the night.  We decided a nice home with friends sounded better than the Motel 6 so accepted their very kind offer.

But Sunday came along and the dogs were not running well.  Lyric was slow, Legend was not doing much better than her sister and Chesney was distracted.  By 1:00 it was sunny and 80 and I wasn't expecting much from Lyric for the rest of the day.  All that remained was regular and Legend doesn't really need regular Qs so I proposed we head home and have all day Monday to enjoy rather than drive.  So we packed up, thanked Ed again for the offer and headed home.  First we got stuck driving around a construction detour trying to get back on the highway, then we stopped twice to let storms pass, then it rained for two hours after it got dark.  I finally arrived home after 11:00.  Not exactly the reasonable hour I was hoping for and totally exhausted, but with an interesting story nonetheless.

Today I enjoyed sleeping in, and taking my time getting unpacked, cleaning out the truck and cleaning up the house.  If it was not so windy I might get some things done outside, but we will see!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Races and other things

Saturday we did the Camp Barnabas half-marathon for the third year in a row.  While not shooting for a PR (I'm not interested in doing that ever again) I was hoping for a decent time and was happy with my second best of 2:04:31.

In other news, we still haven't heard from the insurance company about the car, despite it being 10 days post accident.  They did provide us with a free rental at least.

We are headed to an agility trial this weekend and even though I had planned to practice contacts at the very least, I have not done so.

I volunteered (under peer pressure) to be the volunteer coordinator for the upcoming 3 day nosework trial in May.  It's a little more stressful than I had hoped as I don't currently have enough volunteers so fill all my slots and also still know very little about how these things work as it will only be my second trial to attend/volunteer/compete.  But it should still be a fun weekend.

They keep promising spring weather here, but it has been mostly cloudy and dreary lately.  We did get the lawn moved and some new flowers planted though so things are looking better around the yard.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Quick show and tell

This is not the most bladder stones I have taken out of a dog, but they are certainly the biggest!

And these are from a few weeks ago, not as big, but spiky.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Eventful weekend

Friday I did my last long run before next weekend's half-marathon.  Then we had plans to go out to eat and to a local comedy show.  On the way to dinner we promptly had a car accident.  On the upside, no one was hurt.  On the downside, it put a kink in our night, was our (well, let's be real, Jerry was driving) fault and so we get to take insurance increase and pay our deductible.
Also on the plus side the accident was in a convenient enough location that we still walked to eat, catch the later part of the show and then over to Jerry's office to borrow a company car.  That seems to happen a lot lately...

Saturday, after getting the car towed, we borrowed a trailer, loaded up on fence building supplies, as well a ton of gravel and started our weekend project.  First we built a cattle panel fence around the horse corral since Socks doesn't seem to care about the electric, and since my electric never seems to be working properly anyway.  We also added a real gate, since as I said, the electric wasn't cutting it.  Unfortunately at the end of the day we forgot to check the latch on the old gate, which we had been bringing supplies through and so this morning we had to retrieve the horses out of the neighbors yard.  Socks and Squirt were good like usual and came right up to me to be led home.  I had to take a second trip back for Moses and chase him home, but this time he went right away instead of running the neighborhood like last time.

Here you can seen them in the new fence.  They are either tired from their adventure, or pouting about being punished.
Finally, today we finished scooping all the winter poop from the stalls, laid down new bedding and spread a new layer of gravel in the barn.  It looks much better.  I didn't take a before picture but it was basically a mix of gravel, mud, and the occasional grass.

Then we had to drill holes in the bottom of the big flower pots I bought last year because apparently there were none which meant they didn't drain leading to a mess of rotting plants and stagnant water.  
After that was cleaning up of the garage, and cleaning out a closet.  It's amazing the kind of stuff you hang on to, that then gets buried and lost long past the time it would have ever been useful.  But we now have a lot of space in the closet, and a lot of trash. 

We completed our holiday with a trip to Lowe's for new plants and then to Wal-mart for some groceries. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lickety Split Spring 2015

It's shocking I know, but we actually went to an agility trial!  This weekend it was back to Oklahoma where we always have a good time with the group out there.  Once again we went with no training since well, summer?  

All things considered though they did pretty well.  Saturday they were both 3/5. Legend got 2 regular and a weavers and Lyric got a jumpers, a regular and a tunnelers.  Interestingly Legend NQ'd both jumpers runs, which she almost never does, but the rustiness has to show up somewhere I guess.  

Sunday was less productive.  Legend only got 1/5, but it was a Chances Q.  And a pretty tough course at that.  She actually ran both Chances courses correctly but missed her contact on the A-frame.  That IS something we need to work on before the next trial.  Anyway she is now 6 chances Qs from NATCH 2 and also knocked out some of what she needs to be officially qualified for champs. Getting the two Touch N Go Qs will be the tough part, but in all likelihood we can go without them so I'm not going to sweat it.  Lyric got 1/2 on Sunday picking up another regular.  Her weaving was hit and miss, but it always is.  So nothing lost, nothing gained I guess. 

Next month it's off to Texas for a spring trial on grass.  Should be fun.  And now, a ribbon pic just for fun.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fifty Shades Darker

Ringling Brothers is eliminating elephants from their circus acts, essentially due to public complaints and concerns about the elephants welfare.  I don't know if this is better for the elephants or not.  I do know that I have a vet school classmate who was a traveling circus vet that attended to and loved the elephants.  She says they were healthy and thriving in their environment and very much enjoyed her job, which she no longer has because of this change.

I don't have a strong opinion on circus elephants one way or the other.  The concerning part about this issue is that people can google a few inflammatory videos, hunt up some disgruntled former employees and start a movement to eliminate an institution whether they really know the truth or not.  They simply gather a following of emotionally charged supporters, start a few websites and the next thing you know, no elephants.  The problem is, what's to stop people from doing this other places?  And I'm certainly not saying I am the most informed on this or any other issue, but I do know that you can't believe everything you see on the internet, and that there is often more to any story than someone wants you to know.

You can google circus/zoo/farm/etc animal abuse/mistreatment and find flaws in any industry.  I absolutely don't believe any group or place is perfect and there are some things that I believe could be changed and things I don't believe in.  For example, I don't eat veal because I don't believe in how they are raised.  I don't crop ears in dogs because I think it's an unnecessary cosmetic surgery.   But because we believe or don't believe in something doesn't necessarily make it right or wrong.  Everyone has a different definition of right and wrong on these issues.  And while some are more universally accepted as right or wrong, it still remains largely public and personal opinion, which is subject to change over time.

But simply because you personally don't believe in something does not make it ok for you to vilify everyone who does and start a movement to end an industry with no regard for the consequences.  I personally do not hunt.  I don't see the fun or the sport of it.  I see enough death at work.  But I am an adult and  I understand the need for it.  I understand what would happen to all the deer if hunting didn't exist and I don't vilify those that do or accuse them of not loving animals.  I understand that people choose not to eat meat or dairy, or whatever.  But going on facebook crusades posting anti-animal agriculture videos and accusing everyone who eats meat of not loving animals is ludicrous.  Think about the consequences if these vegan crusaders were successful.  Let's say everyone stopped eating meat tomorrow.  Some farm animals would continue to be kept or raised as pets and show animals.  But only a few.  The remainder would live out their lives and die of old age, disease, or euthanasia.  This may or may not be more pleasant than current slaughter procedures.

In fact if we are going to talk about neglect, abuse or mistreatment of animals in specific settings, it is probably most common in pets.  Pets are easy to get (see previous post) and there are very few requirements for legally keeping your pet. I see animals every day that suffer from chronically painful or uncomfortable conditions, animals with preventable diseases, animals that live lonely lives in the back yard or on a chain, or suffer for months before being brought in for euthanasia.  And these are just the animals that make it to the clinic.  There are likely far more out there that go without adequate food, water, and medical care, not to mention those that are actually physically abused.  But should we try to eliminate all pet ownership because of a few bad apples just as we eliminate circus elephants because of a few videos?  Not all owners/zoos/circuses/etc are created equal, and treating them as such is not fair to anyone.

People like this need to be careful of the trend they are setting.  Depending on their involvement with animals they could be the next target of one these groups.  They may come after show horses, race horses, working dogs, barn cats or any other animal used for work, entertainment or sport.  They may even come after pets. There is an endless number of animal welfare topics that can be debated over and over again.  Very few are black and white.  Some are more black and white than others.  Some have fewer shades of grey than others.  All are subject to opinion but very few are subject to laws.  The best that we can do is keep an open mind, gather all the facts, form an educated opinion and respect the opinion of others.  Most often, this is easier said than done.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

No this isn't about the book or the movie.  But I probably got your attention.  This is actually about animals, in a more appropriate way.

There is a movement in many cities to become "no-kill" these days.  This sounds like a great idea.  It's great for PR and probably even better for fundraising.  No one likes to give money to the place killing kittens after all.  But those of us working in the trenches, who see the truth about pet ownership and overpopulation see the other side.  This is not always a great idea.  It would be nice if it were, but it's not.

Let's face the facts.  There are far more pets in this country than there are homes.  That should go without saying right?  I mean if that were not not the case then this wouldn't even be an issue.  And there are certainly more pets than there are good homes, or really even mediocre homes.  So now look at what happens when we start promoting no-kill.  Dogs and cats end up going to less than desirable homes so that shelters and and cities can proudly boast about their decrease in euthanasias and high adoption rates.

Our local humane society has recently reduced its screening process to merely making sure that the adopter's current pets are up to date on a rabies vaccine.  In our county that means they have seen the vet at least one time in the last two years.  And that could have been at a local Rabies clinic where there was not an exam given. It doesn't account for other appropriate vaccinations, parasite prevention, overall wellness of the pet or give any consideration to  what kind of lifestyle the pet will have.  In other words, the animal in question could end up living on a chain tied to a tree with a dirty water bowl, covered in fleas for the rest of his life.  Is that better than euthanasia?  Is that worth being able to promote increased adoption rates?  What about all the people that let their dog run loose, abandon or dump it?  These dogs just end up in the shelter to go through the cycle again.

There are numerous other programs and specials that go on in shelters around the county that also put less than desirable people on the fast track to pet ownership.  Programs like $1 cat adoptions, two for the price of one, and 1/2 price adoptions of large dogs.  If a person can't or won't pay a reasonable full price adoption fee, what makes us think they will be willing to take adequate care of a pet that may live 10-15 years?

That's not to say that there aren't good adopters and good families.  But if we no longer select for them then are we really doing the homeless pets any favors?  We like to believe that owning a pet is a privilege, and not a right.  But given how easy it is for a person to obtain a pet, with many available for free or cheap, and the very low standards required for keeping a pet, I don't really know how true that can be.  

And it's not always rosy for the pets in the shelter either.  There is the obvious problem of pets being adopted out to lower quality homes, but what about the less adoptable or even unadoptable pets that remain in the shelter?  No-kill shelters have an admirable goal and their hearts are in the right place.  But some are very extreme in their "must save them all" agenda and quite frankly, not all pets are adoptable.  It's not always the pet's fault.  In fact, often times it's the fault of the irresponsible owner who brought them in, abandoned them or in somehow parted ways with them.  But the fact still remains that there are these problem animals.  It could be a stray cat so feral it can't be handled or hides all the time.  A dog that is aggressive towards people or other animals.  These pets are a liability if they are adopted out.  But commonly, they are not adopted out and live year after year in a shelter, confined to a run or cage with the only human contact being that of their caretakers, whom they may be fearful or or aggressive too.  This isn't a fair life for this animal.  To me, there are worse fates than a humane euthanasia.  And these animals are taking up cage space for friendly, healthy pets that could easily be adopted.  Hopefully to good homes that keep them healthy and friendly.

There is not an easy answer to this dilemma.  At what point to do we consider shelter life or home life better or worse than euthanasia?  How do we determine which animals are fit for adoption?  Everyone has a different standard, different opinion on quality of life and suitability of ownership.  For our border collie rescue, we don't take in dangerous dogs.  And we have very high requirements of our adopters.  But that doesn't necessarily make us right and others wrong.  It just means there is no universal line to determine what right and wrong, good or bad, adoptable or unadoptable really are.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A home at last

I'm pleased to report that after nine long months, SHEA HAS BEEN ADOPTED!  Her new mom and dad picked her up yesterday and were very excited to meet her.  She will have other dog siblings and get a chance to try out agility and maybe some other dog sports.  

In other news, we are adjusting to being back from vacation.  I've picked up my running again and we have a half marathon coming up next month.  Luckily the weather is starting to cooperate a little, after arriving home to cold and snow things are much improved and today it was 75. 

I keep thinking I'll back off my work schedule a little but my 4 regular places continue to stay busy and need extra help so I end up working 5 days most weeks.  But luckily several of those are partial or half days so it's not too bad.  And with taxes, vacation, and medical bills all due it works out ok!

Today I made the last payment on the small of my two student loans!  The other should be paid off by the end of the year. Yay! Finally.

Legend had a Nosework trial in May and hopefully one in June.  Maybe we can start earning some titles.  But either way we continue to enjoy class and training.  

I think that's about it for now!