Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random Act of Kindness!!

I got an early Christmas present today! OK, not really, but it sort of felt like it.

As you may or may not know, Wheeler is into wrestling. It’s the perfect sport for him since he’s very agile and slightly built. Practice started a while ago, and their first meet is this Saturday. He had practice this morning and came out afterwards to tell me that his wrestling shoes are way too small and he needs some more before Saturday. Now all this is fine, except that I like to order those sorts of things since they’re generally lots cheaper online. Of course, being a 14 year old boy, he hadn’t told me that his shoes didn't fit, which I would have realized if I thought about it at all, and that he couldn’t find his knee pads. Off we go to the local big box sporting goods store to load up on expensive shoes and knee pads so we’ll have them before the meet on Saturday. Grrr!! Now I know this last minute dash is partially my fault – I didn’t ask – but you’d think that since he’s been practicing for a month he would have thought to tell me that he’s been wearing tennis shoes because he can’t shoe horn his foot into last year’s shoes.

After finding a pair of shoes that fit, some knee pads, and a mouth guard, we got in line to pay. While we were standing there, we were approached by a complete stranger who gave us a 20% off coupon!! Said he hadn’t found what he wanted and it looked like we had lots of stuff. Wow!! Now, the coupon was about to expire, so it wasn’t really any skin off his nose, but he really didn’t have to do that. Sometimes I get the most pleasure from the unexpected.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It Was A Beautiful Fall Day....

Actually, we had two beautiful fall days in early November for the CHASE Veteran’s Day field trial at Old Mill Farm in Cartersville. I’m finally getting around to posting about the weekend. The field was neither too hard nor too muddy, and the air was crisp, but not cold. As an extra bonus, the leaves were about at the peak of their fall color, making for really nice pictures. Both Rosie and Nick ran well. Nick especially so on Saturday when he placed second out of four greyhounds. Not bad for his first weekend out. Lee Gearhart of Uma Rapiti Photography was there taking pictures and got some good ones of both Nick and Rosie. Here’s Nick running with the greytblackdog on Saturday.

And here's another of him running alone.

Saturday also went well for Rosie. Four Pharaoh Hounds were there and Rosie placed third. I can’t complain about that one bit. Her buddy Reign, who placed second Saturday and first on Sunday, earned his ASFA Field Championship that weekend. I love watching her run; she alway has such a ball!!

On Sunday, Nick didn’t run as well. I think he was still tired from Saturday, but he’s still new at lure coursing and two days in a row of vigorous running is tough. Rosie clearly wasn’t tired on Sunday, (she’s like the Eveready bunny), and managed a second place finish.

The best part, and really the most important part, of lure coursing is the fun and satisfaction the hounds get from it. Also, they snooze so peacefully after a weekend of running.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Six More Things....

Addie tagged me with a new Meme. The idea is to think of the six things you would change if money was no object. This one has really made me put on my thinking cap. The first things that came to mind were things I would buy, and don’t get me wrong, we could definitely use lot of things that plenty of money could buy. Next, I started thinking about what I could do to make me feel good inside. So here goes.

1. I’d set up a college fund for my nieces and nephew and so they could go to any school in the world without worrying about money. I’d also beef up Wheeler’s. Though we’ve been stashing cash for his school since he was born, tuition has gone up faster than inflation and even with the money we’ve saved he’ll have to consider cost and scholarship money (keep those grades up kid) when the time comes.

2. I’d set up a charitable trust with trustees to administer it to which I could refer folks with hard luck stories. You know, the ones that you hear about on the evening news – firefighter dad killed in the line of duty leaving wife and baby with life threatening disease. When I hear those stories, I always wish I could help. With a trust in place, if the story checked out, I could. The trust would have significant funds dedicated to animal rescue too.

3. My first thought on the home front was to move. Get rid of my 60’s ranch style house and move up in the world. But I basically like my house, and with just the three of us we don’t need any more room. I’d do all the fixing up we’ve put off (like get rid of the 60’s paneling in the basement) and call a real landscape company to fix the yard so it works for human’s and dogs.

4. I’d look for a piece of land with acreage where I could build a house to move to after Wheeler graduates from high school. Then, the location wouldn’t matter to us and I could have all the dogs I want – and maybe even a horse.

5. I’d hire a full time cook and maid. It’s no secret that I hate house work. Trust me, one visit to my house and you know that I’m not a neat freak. I’m also not the best cook. Oh I kind of like making special meals and trying new dishes. In fact, before I had a family to cook for every day, I would have said I enjoyed cooking. But coming up with dinner ever night is wearing especially hearing “Oh mom, are we having chicken again?”

6. Last, but certainly not least, I’d plan, and execute, lots of trips. I defiantly suffer from wander lust and there’s pretty much nowhere in the world (absent places where bullets fly regularly) that I don’t want to visit.

So there you go. Now you know my self-serving desires should some long lost and currently unknown relative pass on and leave me untold millions. And now to pass this game along, I tag Heather, Patti, and Denise. What six things would you change if money was no object?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Queen Bee

You know how in every group, there’s one person who wants to tell everybody how to act, what to do, and when to do it. At work, its’ the person who is constantly trying to organize pot luck lunches. You know the kind where everybody brings something, plus you have to chip in for a ham or something to share. Then she (or he) wants you to say ahead of time exactly what you are bringing. Often the green bean casserole (or whatever you offered) isn’t good enough. “Can’t you just whip up a simple crabmeat soufflĂ©?” This person then goes over the top decorating for the lunch and gets upset is everyone doesn’t want to participate. As an aside comment, I have nothing against pot luck meals. In fact, I enjoy them – it’s just when they become overly organized and turn into a party planned in detail by one self appointed office “queen bee,” and then executed through coercion by the worker bees that I object. In reality though, we need those “queen bee” types. As much as we complain about their methods, we all kind of like the lunches.

There’s no doubt who the “queen bee” of dogdom is at our house. In truth, I think Rosie is in charge because Nick could care less one way or the other about most of the day to day doings at our house. He figures as long as he as two square meals a day, a good walk (unless the weather is really nasty,) and a soft place to sleep, he’s good. Rosie on the other hand, wants to be sure that everyone knows that she rules the roost. Which dog is always first thru the door? Who always claims the prized dozing spot? You guessed it. Rosie. Now I’m not sure what makes one dog bed preferable to another but in Rosie’s mind, she gets first pick.

Nick, on the other hand, is Mr. Easygoing. I don’t think he cares one bit whether he sleeps on the dog bed on the left or the dog bed on the right. While Rosie is strutting around at feeding time hoping to move up her dinner by a minute or two, Nick is quietly waiting for the bowls to come out. In his mind, does it really matter who goes through the door first? So in reality, I think Rosie is the “Queen Bee” at our house, but I think she earned her title by default.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Science Project...

My life of late has been consumed by Wheeler’s science project. Why, you ask, is my 9th grader’s science project consuming my life? Because it’s a group project and he can’t drive himself to his friends house or on the multiple trips to the hardware store necessary to acquire the parts to build the small steam engine he’s trying to construct. Also, even if they work at my house, I’m reluctant to leave two or three teenage boys alone in my house building said steam engine. The explosive potential is real, and I don’t know if my homeowners insurance covers damage caused by the explosion of a home built steam engine boiler. Since 14 year old boys don’t always use common sense, I feel the need to stay relatively close by to monitor progress.

Did I mention that I hate group projects! Teachers think that they are a wonderful way to teach kids the skills that they will someday need in the workplace. Obviously they have never tried to find enough time for three boys, who all have other school work, sports, family commitments etc to get together at night and on the weekend for long enough to plan and construct the project du jour. Realistically, they aren’t going to build a steam engine, or anything like it, in one afternoon, so it really is a scheduling nightmare and ends up being a pain in mom's rump. Not to mention that I’ve had various sizes of duct taped up cans with copper tubing sticking out scattered around my kitchen for weeks.

Hopefully, one of the prototypes built over the week-end will work. Wheeler plans a test run tonight as he thinks the silicone caulk that’s supposed to hold the thing together will be dry enough by then. Here’s hoping it works – and my house doesn’t blow up.!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bad Mommy... Good Dog!!!

Yesterday morning I set out for my daily walk with Nick and Rosie. We walk almost every day on one of the trails by the river. There are some great trails both just inside and just outside 285 in Atlanta that are very lightly used – a great thing in a city of our size. First order of business is always a potty break for the beasts – I hate carrying poop bags after they are filled and prefer my pups to take care of business before we start.

Yesterday, just as I was leaning over to recover Nick’s deposit, Rosie saw a squirrel and bolted toward it. I don’t know how exactly it happened, apparently I didn’t have the leash properly secured. The bottom line was, I wasn’t paying close attention. Off she went into the woods after the squirrel dragging her leash behind her. It’s amazing what goes through you mind as you see your dog’s butt disappearing up a hill through the woods. There are so many squirrels and other things to chase out there, I imagined her running forever tracking first one critter and then another until she thoroughly lost herself. There have also be reports of coyotes in the area. Something else to worry about.

The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Rosie, leave it!” At that, she whipped around and looked at me. I couldn’t believe it, she broke off from chasing a squirrel and actually listened to me. I’m more confident of her sit/stay than I am her recall, although we’ve worked on both. She came to me with some leash aggression issues, so for quite awhile, every time we passed another dog I asked her to sit and stay until the other dog passed. I still do at times if the other dog looks like it might bark and lunge at her or if there a bunch of dogs coming toward us at one time. That way, I can get between her and the dog(s) and make her feel safe and under control.

Anyway, I asked her to sit and stay. Amazingly, she did, and Nick and I walked into the woods and got her. After lots and lots of treats, we went for our walk. I’m not sure I needed one at that point as my heart rate was already way up. I was very proud of my girl. She did what I asked when I asked it just when I most needed her to do so. Next order of business – more recall proofing so next time I don’t have to hike off trail. She actually would most likely have come this time if I’d called her. I just felt safer with her butt on the ground and her eyes on me.

Jen, if you’re reading this, thanks for all the training tips over the years. Your example and tips really saved my bacon yesterday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

See Spot Run!!

I only bought one shot from Rosie's runs as I've already got a bunch. But I couldn't resist several shots of Nick as it was his first time out.

See Rosie run!

See Nick Run!

See Nick Run fast!

See Nick catch the bunny!!

OK, sorry for the 60's Dick and Jane reader reference. I'm showing my age ;-)!

I just got the CD with these pics in the mail today from The Southeastern Greyhound Club trial on Oct 26th and I can’t resist showing off a few. Both Rosie and Nick had a blast. All photos were taken by Dan Gauss of Shot on Site Photography.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm a Believer!!

Nick has had an odd gait ever since I got him back in September. Watching him from behind at a slow trot it was clear that something wasn’t quite right about the way he moved his right rear leg. Whatever it was didn’t seem to affect the way he ran, and all but vanished at a fast trot. It wasn’t a limp, really it was more just an odd way of moving. He didn’t show any signs of pain, but I wanted to be sure that he didn’t hurt, and that I didn’t cause him injury by lure coursing him.

First stop, my vet’s office. Dr. Amy Mathews at The Buckhead Animal Clinic has been taking care of my animals for around 20 years. I can’t say enough good things about her. Most importantly, she doesn’t get irritated with all my many questions and always explains what she thinks and tells me why. In addition, she got Sugar through a couple of really scary medical scrapes.

She spent a fair amount of time watching Nick move and also manipulating his limbs and in general giving him a good once over. She did see the odd gait, but couldn’t find any indication of pain, or any restriction in range of motions in any of his limbs. We x-rayed his lower spine and saw no skeletal problems. We discussed x-raying his hips, but elected to put it off since I really didn't want to put him under anesthesia and she didn't feel strongly about it. She said she didn’t see a problem with letting him course. OK, so why does my pup have what I can only describe as a “hitch in his getalong??”

Second stop Dr. Lance Cleveland, an animal chiropractor I found through a friend. He treated her horse and she believes he helped dramatically. I called him on the number she gave me last Friday afternoon. Turns out, it wasn’t his office number, but was his personal cell phone. He was in Atlanta at an American Veterinary Chiropractic Association conference. He lives in Mississippi, but travels around the southeast to various barns and is in Atlanta treating patients about once every two or three weeks.

Even though he wasn’t here to treat patients, he agreed to meet me Sunday afternoon at one of the barns where he regularly works (conveniently very close to my house) and take a look at Nick. Wow!! I never expected him to do that. Anyway, to make a long story even longer, he also saw Nick’s “hitch”, worked his magic, showed me some stretches to do daily, and guess what, vast improvement in Nick’s gait. He also said that in his opinion, coursing him would do him more good than harm, and I shouldn’t take his fun away. We’ll see him again when he’s in town just before Thanksgiving.

I was amazed at the good he did for my boy, and wonder now if maybe I should see a chiropractor too, as I also have one or two “hitches in my getalong!!”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

If You Were Elected President.....

Now that the election is over and we know the outcome, it’s time to see what the next four years bring. While I was sitting in a meeting this morning and thinking about the election - anything but pay attention to another long boring meeting - my mind started to wander and to consider what it would be like to actually be President.

Now mind you, there’s no way I’d want that job. There’s way too much 24/7 pressure and besides, you always have to worry about folks being out to get you. Also, have you noticed how much older all Presidents look after four years in office. I don’t think there’s enough beauty cream in the world to counteract that rapid aging.

There are, however, certain perks. What would it be like to never have to straighten up or clean the house again? I’d never have to plan or cook another dinner. The White House Chief would have to listen to Wheeler when he complains “Meat Loaf again!!” Air Force One would be available to whisk me off to my chosen destination. No more standing in long security lines at the airport clutching my small plastic bag of liquids in one hand and my shoes in the other.

I’m sure there are lots of other pleasant perks that go with the highest office in the land. What would you like best about the day to day life part of being President?

P.S. I'm in no way making light of the importance associated with holding the highest office in the land. Just wondering what everyday life would be like, minus the heavy duty responsibility.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Get Up, Stand In Line, and VOTE!!

Tomorrow is election day and if you haven’t already voted please do so. I think that we take our right to vote for grated way to often in this country. It's actually refreshing to see so many people voting early and to hear that really longs lines are expected tomorrow. Don't let lines discourage you. Remember, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain about the way the country is run. Stand up and be heard. I just ask that you vote for what you really believe in. Please think it through carefully, and don't be swayed by media hype one way or the other.