Over the River and Through the Woods

We are thankful for our friends and family…and chewy toys, treats and lap snuggling.

For Thanksgiving this year, to Grandma’s house we went.  We all had a great time, full of running outside (for the pups) and eating as much seafood as possible (for the people).  As confirmed desert-dwellers, Angus, Lucy and Duncan spent as little time out in the coastal weather as possible, convinced that if they got wet, they would melt.  Des on the other hand as a fellow native Oregonian, decided dancing in the rain was a pretty fun thing to do…even when attacked by an umbrella.

Beach? Not today!

I had hopes of letting the Aussies run on the beach, but found the tide was in when we arrived.  With a winter storm brewing, waves were crashing into the foredune, and then as if on cue, rain began to fall, so we retreated to a nearby pine forest for a romp through the moss.   Not having lived near the coast in about 15 years, I’d watched the Twilight movies thinking the rain effects were excessive.  Let me tell you…they aren’t.  It’s wet here.  And really, really green!

Super Des!

Upon our return back to the land of sunny skies, short trees and moss-less roofs, the boys helped me plant garlic and shallots in the garden, two things I’ve managed to grow pretty well.  I can’t claim to be a gardening genius…we happen to live in a climate that garlic likes, and it’s a crop you plant and forget until you harvest it 8 months later.  Even I can’t mess that up!   I’m late in planting (it was agility or garden, and I picked my priority!) but not as late as I have been in the past.  Last year, I literally drilled holes into a block of frozen dirt to plant and darned if those little garlic cloves grew!

While outside, I practiced Desmond’s recalls.  Recipe for success = another dog that comes flying when I call (thank you Dunc) and a pocketful of kibble.  I am thankful for such a beautiful afternoon to share with my two boys.

Did someone call me?



Desmond, Ninja Puppy.

Little Brother? Not for long!

As you can see, baby brother Desmond is catching up to big brother Duncan in a hurry!

This afternoon, Des was playing with some toys, and showed me some of his tricky Ninja moves.  Maybe he’s been secretly watching the Matrix while we’re out of the room, because there was some serious “I know kung fu” action going on.  Whoa.

It starts innocently enough.  Just a puppy playing with a stick.

And then, our own fuzzy Jason Bourne appears…

Watch and learn, grasshopper.

Or maybe he was watching reruns of the Muppets and Miss Piggy?  Hi-YA!

Did I mention that I’m not throwing any of these toys?  He’s pitching these to himself!

mine. Mine. MINE!!

But, he’s still a baby, so I’ll hold off on calling the clandestine services for a while yet.

He’s a very sweet little boy when he’s not fighting the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Handsome Des

A Quest to…Reno?

Last winter, we found out that AKC Agility Nationals would be held in Reno, NV in March of 2012.  Since it’s less than ten hours away, it qualified as a local trial, and Dunc and I set our sights on earning enough points to go.

At the time, we had three Double Q’s and about 50 speed points, (after becoming eligible in March) so I thought it would be easy.  We would need six QQ’s and 400 points total to attend.  A few short months later, the multipliers went away, meaning we needed to earn each and every one of our speed points…one point for every second under course time…no more double point bonuses for earning first place.  Gulp.

The traveling road show of 2011 began, and the driving, road food, yucky rest areas, noisy hotels, wonderful friends and trialling adventure is one I will never forget.  And honestly, can’t wait to repeat.

Little Dogs Rock!

Happy boy in the Palouse

We began in Moscow, Idaho.  Despite it raining nonstop on Saturday and Duncan shying away at every other bar setter, it was a lovely trial in a lovely spot.  The Palouse in the spring is an amazing sight, and I’m thankful to have had an extra day (and friends, especially friends with rain-proof tents) to enjoy it.  Thank you ML!  We added QQ # 4 here.

We spent the 4th of July weekend in Redmond.  The weather was terrific, and the setting stunning with Mt. Bachelor on the horizon.  We got a puppy fix and some tasty Lo Mein (but not at the same time because you’d end up with noodles everywhere).

Volcanoes and Tent City

At the end of August, Dunc and I zoomed up to Spokane.  How do I say this…it was hot. Damn hot.  It was in the high 90s, but Dunc and I pulled it off, running fast and accurate all three days on some courses that could only be described as diabolical.  We made some new friends (thanks V!!) and in between moments of heat-induced visions of pink elephants and herds of stampeding Bostons, we earned QQ # 6 and 7.

Lynnleigh Farms over Labor Day was our next stop; a four-day trial.  It’s such a pretty spot with the trees and mountains…and horses…and giant motorhomes rumbling by. Maybe ‘pretty’ distracting might be a better description.  It was this trial location last year, while trying to weave directly at a wall of crated Border Collies, Dunc told me that maybe his sport was chasing dust bunnies under the bed instead of agility.  This year, Dust Bunny Duncan was nowhere to be found, replaced by Awesome Duncan, who earned QQ # 8 and 9, and his Exc. FAST title.

And to add to the fun, we spared no expense to celebrate Muligan’s MACH 4 in high style.

I smell waffles...

We headed to Prineville in October.  For the first time, I saw the light at the end of the point earning tunnel…we were closing in, with 140 points to go.  It was this trial when Duncan shifted into a whole new gear, leaving me paddling madly in his wake, like an uncoordinated duck.   What an amazing sight to see, those little paws throwing out rooster tails of sand, with a crazy Aussie grin on his face!  I was honored to witness Tug’s inaugural agility run, and the beginning of another brilliant BT Rock Star’s agility career.  Dunc also earned QQ # 10 and 11.

Every Champion begins with a first run

Is anybody home?

The next trial in Farmington was Dunc and my first trip on the road by ourselves.  As orphans, we were adopted by some kind Utah friends, who helped add my points, as I seem to lose that ability when excited.  Being the agility portion of the Samoyed Nationals, there were big white dogs parked in every available corner.  I’ve never seen it snow indoors, but white fur was a-floating, and it wasn’t long before every surface of my crate was white and fuzzy. I also learned that Samoyeds bark.  A lot.  The courses were downright tough…technical and littered with traps, but after much obsessive course walking, Dunc and ran a perfect weekend and brought home QQ # 12 and 13 and 45 speed points.

Have ball...will travel!

At our home trial in October, on the last day, 16 speed points remained to hit the magic 400 points to qualify for Nationals.  We had a fantastic Standard run, fast and accurate, and I knew Dunc had done it when he sailed over the last jump.   Pause.  A moment later, from the score table I heard “No time!!”  The timers had failed to work.  Normally our choice would be to take standard course time and the Q (but with no speed points) or to rerun and risk the chance that it wouldn’t be clean.  And then the judge called to the crowd:  “Did anyone get it on video?”  YES!!  Half an hour later, with the video camera in one hand, and a stopwatch in the other…the judge confirmed that we’d sped around the course 18 seconds faster than course time, and earned our final points for Nationals. Anyone within ten feet got hugged.

Gratuitous puppy photo!

The last stop in our AKC trialling year was to east Idaho, and Desmond came along, riding like a seasoned traveler, and had a great time with his Belgian friend, despite Nick being 4X his size.  Overall, in 2011, Duncan and I earned 15 QQs and 436 speed points. It’s been one heck of a ride, and after a lot of judges, difficult courses, variable weather, fantastic friends and amazing experiences, I only have one thing to say:

Bring on 2012!

I Just Saw a Pig With Wings

Today is a day of lasts and firsts.  We began our last trial of the year this morning, our local fall NADAC.  I love this trial, and Dunc loves these courses because there aren’t any pesky tables or teeters to slow him down.  He must have tied on his Go Fast shoes this morning, because he was flying today.

Desmond also got to spend his first full day together with us, and he was a gem.  He snoozed in his crate in between charming everyone he met.  I let him watch a couple of dogs run from the vantage point of my arms, and he was riveted!  He had the same look on his face that I saw on a baby bird dog the first time he saw a pheasant flush.

All of that would be enough, but this evening while I was letting the boys do hot laps in the yard, a magical moment happened.  Duncan and Desmond started to play together.  Dunc is the boy we affectionately call Captain No Fun, because usually when two other dogs play, he wades in the middle, barking, clearly telling all parties to ‘break it up, move along, this is a zero fun zone.’  Des has been playing with our girl and Boxer since day one, but Dunc has generally avoided him, as he does most dogs.

Did you ever see the first of the ‘new’ Star Wars movies with all the CG silliness and that hideous Jar Jar Binks?  Ignore that and fast forward to the scene where Yoda battles the evil Darth so-and-so.   Yoda starts jumping and spinning and becomes a little green blur. Duncan looked like a little merle version of Yoda (without the light saber) when playing with Des.  He would crouch, then leap and spin, then circle and leap straight up like he was spring-loaded.  I’m not sure if this is normal Aussie play since I’ve never really seen Dunc play with anyone but our Frenchie, and she has a full-contact-tackle brand of play all her own.

Of course, the moment passed, and Des made off with Duncan’s favorite ball, so the détente was temporary.  But…the Fun Police put his badge away for a little while.  What a lovely thing to witness.

I took a few pictures of them, unfortunately the light was fading and they are a little blurry, but they’re still special to me.


Who, me??

I didn't do anything!

When I was thinking about the perfect pup, I wanted a little people lover with drive, who was full of play.  A little sass and sense of humor wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Careful what you wish for!

Des is a boy with moxie!  He wants to play and play and play.  And when you stop the play (say, to hold him still) he demands that the game continue.  He’s quite adamant about it, too.  Now, I thought…I’ve had Boxers.  If there is a hard-headed breed, it’s a Boxer, so I have the experience to show this baby that sometimes we need to sit still.  The problem is that Boxers are more than happy to sit next to you on the couch and watch reruns of Globe Trekker, even as babies.  They’re a playful breed tailor-made to those of us who think watching three movies in a row on an icy November day isn’t an unusual activity.

As a result, this week I decided to show Des that I can hold him still, that he can sit with me and the world still rotates.  He wasn’t convinced, and insisted that I stop being so boring. Then Duncan gave me a nudge and reminded me I’m dealing with an Aussie.  So in Aussie-speak (which is just English because obviously they speak it perfectly), I explained to Des that he needed to trust me, that in the years to come, I’m going to ask him to do some really weird things (like jumping through tires) and to just go with it.  Darned if the little guy didn’t just shoot me a look that plainly said “WHY didn’t you say so in the first place??!!”  And then he flopped upside down in my arms and went to sleep.

I LOVE these dogs!  So smart, so willing…and I know they can read your mind.

Last week Des was weighed at the vet.  At 12 weeks, he’s 9.2 lbs.  He’s also starting to get a little more body to go with his LONG legs.  Love his floppy ears!

I am cute. Feed me.