Thursday, December 31, 2009

Contact Zones

Reese has been running her plank each day working on improving on hitting that yellow contact at the end. We have moved to her full length plank. Here is a video of some of the practice she has been doing.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And So It Begins......Training Like a Turtle

That long painful process of getting back into shape. It is the time that you want to kick yourself in the a#$ (if you could only reach back there) for getting out-of-shape in the first place. It is the time when you vow to yourself that you will never, ever, under any circumstances let yourself get out of shape again. 

Reese and I went for a run today. Since I have off this week I wanted to get a jump on it when we could head out during the day. It was a good run. We are starting off at a mile and will run that distance for about 3 weeks and then move up. I used to use the 10% rule which is that you only increase your distance each week by 10% of what you were previously running.  However, that never worked well for me. It seemed that if I missed a run or two during the week - oh the horror of a missing workout!  Yes I have missed workouts and lived to tell about it. When I was a diehard runner then it would bother me, make me feel guilty and such, but not anymore. So with the 10% rule if I missed a few days I would sometimes feel that I wasn't ready to increase my distance or I would increase it too fast for how many runs I got in that week.

Using the three week rule before moving up works well for me, especially in Winter in MN when there may be days that we cannot run because of the cold, ice, too much snow etc. But over a three week period we should be fine. The snow also helps provide some cushion for my hips and feet and for Reese as we get back into running. As our distance gets longer Reese will need to be running on a softer surface than the street or sidewalk as that will be too hard on her joints. At that point we will have to find a park or a sidewalk where she can run along side me on the grass or snow covered field. Okay but lets be realistic here. I run or jog fast and Reese, well - she trots! Still the sustained repetative motion she is doing can cause injuries so we are taking it slow for both of us. I would much rather have her running off leash while I run so she can go at her own pace, but that isn't possible where I live right now. So she will have to make due with running with me. 

I will also be stretching Reese and myself really well and I will be doing some Yoga stretches to keep my old hip injury from returning. Yoga helped get rid of it and so did rest, like two years worth of rest. So my plan is to train like a Turtle - slow and steady wins the raise.  Or in my case I hope it just allows me to continue to train. 

Why the sudden interest in getting in shape. Well there are a number of reasons...
1. Jeans are starting to get a bit tight
2. I was winded after running Reese over the A-frame at our lesson a few weeks ago. Reese was running or shall we say flying over the A-frame (that girl can get way too much air, which is why she won't be doing the A-frame for awhile.) and I was running on the flat past it huffing and puffing.
3. Both Reese and I need to build up our stamina for both agility and herding. Especially if Reese is going to work the sheep on the hill at our trainers sometime next year. My intention is that she will be gathering the sheep from the hill without my assistance other than from my whistle commands. But of course since I am a realist I know that there may be an occasion for me to have to tromp up the hill with her.
4. Whistles. My homework for the winter for herding is to get my whistles good enough to start using when Reese is ready to learn them. Whistles will take air - something I apparently don't have much of these days.
5. I was doing the Houla Hoop on the Wii Fit the other night. Disclaimer - this is my worst activity on the Wii Fit. This is supposed to be an aerobic activity and it is. But I usually only get about 25 circles of the hoop in and then it falls to my feet ending my game. True to form, I think I hit 24 circles of the hoop and I was done. Done with the game but I proceeded to wheez and spend the next few minutes trying to catch my breath. NOT GOOD.

Yes I have some extra pounds to lose but I am not worried about those. They always peel off quickly from running - I guess its all those previous years of running that helps my body remember. I do want to get back to my running weight though. It will just make all the activities Reese and I do so much easier. But I'm not in a hurry, it will come, not even going to keep track of it. Just have to keep plugging down the road.

So how did it go today. It went well, did I run the whole mile continuously, no. Reese (thank you Reese) had to stop and piddle a few times. That gave me a good chance to catch my breath a bit. Then we were off again. I overdressed so will be more careful tomorrow. It was between 9 and 15 degrees depending on what weather station you went by, plus there was a bit of a windchill. Yes you can overheat running in the winter in Minnesota. The trick is layers, but not too many. You should be slightly chilled when you get outside. If you are just right when you step out than you have too many layers on.

Reese's paws have been doing great in the snow and cold so far. At least when we put her paw wax on. There was one night I didn't put it on and we only got about a half a block away and she was lifting her feet.
is the paw wax we use and it is amazing. So far it has done what is says, helps with the cold, no snowballs between the toes and makes for an enjoyable walk.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Christmas!!

This Christmas was a little different than some, what with the threat of 20 inches of snow falling over a three day period - those three days being Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after or Boxing day for all the Europeans out there. As it turned out we didn't get 20 inches. We got about 5 inches of snow then some sleat, then some rain mixed with more snow. Then more snow. So what did we end up with. Well we ended up with one sore back. Yes - wet snow is heavy and then when it gets cold the chucks of snow made by the plow get frozen to the entrance of the driveway. It really tests your patience and your determination. 

But....snow is lovely to look at, although not so much when you have gotten half of the driveway shoveled for the fifth time in three days and you look up and realize it is snowing again.....what's up with that!!

Oh, yea, I guess the driveway will be shoveled for a sixth time in the next 24 hours.  Luckily I stocked up on food and wine before Christmas and I have lots of Christmas cookies left over to satisfy any sugar cravings. 

Speaking of cravings - what do you think Reese wished she would get for Christmas. Could it be, do you think it not a about a new ball. It was a pretty scanty Christmas this year but this is what Reese hauled in.
Reese you need to smile for the camera, okay.

Alright, I'm smilin', I'm smilin!

Opening gifts
Don't look Ma, I got a new love in my life... 

Mike, oh, how I love thee. How about a little kissy!!

I love hanging out with my Mike.

I told you not to look Ma, we're just going to take a little nappy here, okay.

Reese loves Mike so much even though they don't see each other often. Border Collies can be very standoffish dogs. Don't get me wrong Reese will size you up when she meets you but she does it quickly and most likely you won't even notice she has done it. Unless there is something seriously wrong with you, i.e. you are a danger to me or her family you should pass the test. And when you do she will let you know and she will never forget you.

What did I get for Christmas. I got exactly what I wanted. My Mom was very sick for a couple of months and there were a number of days we didn't know if she was going to make it. Once she started to get better it was very slow and we didn't know if she would ever get back to her old self. But thankfully she did.  About a week or so ago she really turned a corner and started to get back to normal. So happy to see that.  None of us were ready for her to go anywhere. So thank you for your prayers to all those who knew she was sick. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas it has been a busy last few weeks, but I did get the house decorated.
The Stockings are hung.... Yes they do get bigger with each addition to the household. Reese's stocking also has a bit more of a Victorian flare, what with her roots being from the UK and all.

A little Holly.
Mr. Bunny from Easter. But since I collect rabbit things he never got put away.  He gets decorated for each holiday.
My Dickens Village

Sorry, I know it is blury so it's a little hard on the eyes.
The tree

I'm smiling, okay so I might be smirking...

Can we please be done now.  I have a ball to play with Ma!

Monday, December 21, 2009


you look up in the sky tonight
and see that star shining so bright
know that Huan is looking down.

Today was a sad day for us here on earth. Huan's funeral was today. It was very sad, but at the same time it was obvious how many people's lives Huan touched.

In that sense, today was a celebration of Huan's life, and all the things he accomplished, and all the people whose hearts now have a little piece of Huan in it.

I know that Huan is now looking down on all of his family and friends and keeping them safe. I also imagine that Huan is having some very interesting discussions and debates with some great scientists that have gone before him....Einsteen, Galileo - those would be some pretty interesting discussions.

Huan worked on some amazing projects. I have read more about Huan's work, and while I don't understand much of it - I know that if Huan was doing the research and interested in something, it must have been important.

While he was a great scientist, admired and known the world over. He was amazing because at his level he could have had anything, worked anywhere, and called all the shots. But Huan wanted to do research. He wanted to learn and he wanted to teach. He wanted to give back and didn't forget what it was like to be the lowly student.

With as much career success as Huan had he still kept his priorities straight - a thing so rare these days. His friends and family all shared how Huan always made it home for the holidays and that he spoke of his family often and how important they were to him. Huan understood that family and friendships are not something you take for granted and that those relationships are the most important thing in life.

Huan is one of those people that will continue to give back even though he cannot do it directly. Students will still learn from him and the work he had done. Friends will share things about Huan with each other and will be changed because of something new they learned about their friend. Even strangers will read about Huan and will be changed.

Huan would want his work and the search for answers to continue. He would want his family and friends to know that while he is no longer with them on earth he is with them always in heart and spirit.

Godspeed Huan!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Shining Star is Gone

While the world is a quieter place today because of the loss a great man, it is also a better place because he was in it. Those who called him a friend, brother, son, uncle, teacher were lucky. His family helped to make him who he was and while they knew him best they will miss him the most.

It never makes sense why we lose the people we do. A young man in his prime with so much to give and contribute. A teacher, an inspiration to students and friends. A man who did more in his short lifetime than we ever will.

It always seems like we lose the ones who touch so many when they still have so much to give. It never makes sense. God takes these special people, it seems, all to early from us, and we will never know why... other than that their work here was done and now they must go.

So Fly Angel Huan - you are up in the stars now - where you belong.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Random Pictures from Days Past

Nick - ready and willing....

What concentration.....but what is he looking at....

Oooh, the goats....(sorry it's blurry)

Here are the sheep waiting in their pens to be worked.

Ready for your close-up?

This sweet not the post, the goat!

Hey, check out my profile...

Jackie and pup.

Sara and Zephyr

My what a big boy he has become these last couple of months.

My favorite shot from Sunday.  Charm and Jim - so sweet!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Amazing Girl!

Reese and I went to an agility lesson tonight and we had a great time. Reese really exceeded my expectations. She only ran off a couple of times, and really only to the door, when she heard some noises and got distracted. I think it is safe to say I was being boring then and she was probably a little stressed and needed time to explore. (It was at a barn where lots of other dogs have been running around, there are horses boarded there and I think I heard some sheep - so the smells were probably overwhelming.) It didn't take her long to get back on task though. She did not get the zoomies and run all over the whole barn and refuse to come back like she has in the past. I had to use a bit of trickery only a couple of times and then she came running back and got her reward. 

The teamwork we have built up working stock this year has really paid off and helped improve our relationship. When you see that teamwork transfer over to a new venue it really is huge for the handler. Yes, we have worked hard and we are seeing the results but it doesn't so much seem like work now. It is just fun, I am having so much fun with her each day. Even though we are working on things I try to make it as much fun and as much like a game as I can.

Recalls, recalls, recalls. They still need a lot of work but I am seeing results and it is so rewarding to see.  It definetly makes me want to keep working hard on them, so they continue to get stronger and faster. Having family members that had a dog get hit by a car, my sister saw it happen, really puts a fear in you about letting your dog off leash. Especially one that has as much drive as Reese. We are progressing nicely and I think we are almost ready to start adding a few light distractions besides smells. We are trying to go to as many new places as we can to generalize what we have now before adding a lot of distractions.

Through all our hard work I have been increasing Reese's drive to work with me as opposed to the other things she might find interesting on her own. I am having so much fun with her these days. She really is becoming the dog I always wanted. I always knew I had to play a big hand in shaping that dog, but now I am learning just how to do that. Dogs come to you with everything they need, but then it is up the human to shape those things to be what you want.

So we are going to continue to work on running contacts and while it will be a long process, it is just getting cold here and if we are working outside, we will need to be moving to stay warm so this is a good time to work on contacts. I am going to get a thinner plank for outside so that I can work on Reese just running over it, really driving full speed. She was doing okay on the plank in the basement in the past but I realized she wasn't running over it full speed. Speed is one of the reasons I want running contacts. The other is for injuries - to avoid them and reduce the risk. I sat with a rehabilitation veterinarian while watching agility once and picked her brain a little. She stated that was one of the things she would worry about most was the shoulders from the quick stops that many dogs do on the down side contacts. Some dogs shift their weight properly as they stop to reduce the jarring and I could probably teach her to do that, but I want to go for running contacts first.

It was a good lesson, Reese stayed focused on me for I would say 80% of it, and 10% I had to get her back focused on me but she did refocus quickly and the other 10% she was checking the door and wandering a bit. But it was okay, I was able to work on getting her back and we need to learn how to reconnect when we lose that connection. When she started to wander off or I was talking with the instructor I was grabbing her collar in the beginning and then trying to send her through the weaves. I was being too controling of everything she did. Once I relaxed and let her wander away a bit, she actually returned to do check-ins quite frequently and most of the time she just sat there and relaxed while we talked. Then I sent her through the weaves again and it was much smoother and she did just fine. She was also on informatin over-load with everything I was telling her both verbally and then my body language was telling her something else. I think the lesson is be clear in what you want to tell your dog and use the most plain language you can.

I am finding working with a dog is sort of like playing tennis. The most subtle change in placement/tilt of your racket or the way your swing moves will change the trojectory of the ball entirely. When working with your dog the most subtle change in your body language will tell your dog something completely different. It really is amazing how much they pick up, and it is also important to remember that dogs read body language first, they hear the verbal commands second.

So we have a lot to work on, and we will be videotaping a lot of it so that I can see what I am doing.  I'll try to put some of our contact work up as we progress.

For those trialing this weekend....
May all your runs be clean,
your jumps collected as you turn quick,
your straight-aways fast, and may one paw always hit the yellow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Maddie O' Maddie

Dear Maddie:
It has been a year since you've been gone. A very long year. I was looking at some pictures of you and Reese last week and you two were such good buddies. She loved you and was always happy to see you coming over for a visit and she loved the walks we went on.

Your Mom and Dad still miss you very much and I know that they think of you often. We all know you are not in pain anymore and are having fun chasing bunnies and running after your chipmunk friends. But you will always be missed and we will not forget you.


Friday, November 20, 2009


I love watching what a border collies ears will do. They get big when they are little and sometimes have a hard time deciding what to do. Up, Down, half mast.  It is so fun to watch a pup grow into their ears. This was Reese when she was little and trying to figure out what her ears were going to do.  It's sort of like when you want your hair to be curly and it will only be wavey. Or you want it to curl under and it only wants to flip out.  Sometimes you just have to learn to work with what you get.
The Flying Nun ears
Copter Ears
Right, I said go Right
Trying to keep it straight.
Oh, well one must relax when chewing a good bone.

Say you there, with the box on your face....Get away from my bone.

Say what you want about my ears, you know I am the cutest little thing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Working Dogs

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous. I finished up the fall yardwork on Saturday. Reese and I went for a long hike and played and played and played some more - all outside of course!

Sunday was just as nice, a little bit cooler but only by a few degrees. It was a great day for working dogs and Reese and I had a great day. Reese worked the goats and did a fabulous job. She looked great, she worked close but not too close, it was all controlled and she kept her balance point very nicely. She took corrections for her flanks easily and it just felt great.

We really felt like a team out there. I feel like things are really starting to come together for us and we are starting to click as a team. We are working on some non-stockwork things to improve our teamwork and it is really starting to come together and it shows.

It wasn't just evident to those watching us but when that working relationship clicks you can feel it, and I did. I know Reese was very pleased with herself and it took a lot out of her, she was concentrating and working very hard to keep things in control and she was rewarded by it working. I know she worked hard because she was completely wiped out all night after we got home. It was nice to see a very contented pupper after a good days work.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


While in Ireland we went to the town of Tralee which is where my grandmother was from. We met up with some relatives, who took us to lunch at the Tralee Golf Club.  The Tralee Golf course was the first Europeon golf course designed by Arnold Palmer. Every hole has a view of the Atlantic ocean.

The Tralee Golf Club
Helicopters would fly golfers in to play, then take them to the next course for their next round.
This helicopter landed next to club house while we were having lunch.

The Cliffs of Moher

No, this cow photo is not out of place. This cow was grazing next to the long walk up to the Cliffs of Moher.

Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College

The famous Molly Malone Statue

On our way to Dingle

I have no doubt that on a sunny day Ireland is a beautiful country. It was cloudy and rainy almost everyday that we were there. The people however were always sunny and chipper. I only met one gentleman that I didn't care for - the Admiral.