Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I hit the road (and the road hit back)

Sorry no further updates from Springfield, but at $7.99 per day I only sprang for one day of wireless internet service at the hotel.

So, Friday: We awoke to pouring rain and proceeded to get drenched taking the dogs out to potty. I decided I'd wear my jeans and take my show skirt with me to avoid it getting soaked. Naturally, I forgot to take the skirt with me, so I had to show Elli in jeans. Gee, way to impress, Dawn. Elli was the only 12-18 bitch again so she went to Winner's, but no luck there, which was no surprise. The judge commented that she'd be a nice bitch when she matured, and said, "She definitely wins the 'perky award.' I would kill for that attitude." So that was nice to hear. I also got to meet Holly and Jules in person, which was really cool. :-D

Ian was in Open A around 1:00 or 1:30, I think. Nancy Withers was judging, and she's a Pem person, so she was happy to have a corgi in the ring, even if it was the "wrong" kind. She also asked if he did agility since he's in such good shape. Score one for the green beans and low fat Evo! Ian was up and happy, and his heeling was... well, no worse than usual. We survived the Figure 8 intact. He did his drop on recall just fine, and this time I remembered to give him a voice command instead of a hand signal. Yay me. On the retrieve on the flat, he again played with his dumbbell once he brought it in, but that amounted to lost points, not an NQ. Then came the retrieve over the high jump. In retrospect, I think I should have thrown it further. He went over the jump and got it, but since it was relatively close to the jump, when he made his turn radius and headed back, he came around the jump instead of over, which disqualified us. He at least held the dumbbell and presented it to me nicely that time, so... good, I guess? Broad jump was fine, and he did his stays. Rats!!

Saturday: Wow, lots of Cardis!! We were about 20 minutes late getting started for Sweeps because our Sweeps judge never materialized. One of our Cardi club members found someone to judge. I think someone said she was a Terv person, but I'm not sure. Anyway, we finally got started. Elli had company in 12-18 this time -- there were four in her class. Since she was the second one in, I had time to stack her properly on the table before the judge came to look at her, and that whole table thing went a LOT better. She also did a nice down and back, and only went bait-diving a couple of times going around the ring. When we all went around together, she did nicely since the dog in front of her was more interesting than the fuzzies on the floor. We ended up 3rd of 4 in Sweeps. She behaved well again in the regular class, but went 4th of 4.

Ian's attitude was decidedly NOT perky when it came time for obedience. He was happy enough to work outside beforehand, but when we got into the ring he was pretty distracted on the heel free. The ring on Saturday was also right between the main aisle down to the agility area, and a Rally ring, so there were more distractions than there were in the far corner where we were the first two days. It's no excuse, it just is what it is. So anyway, heeling and figure 8 were a little lackluster, but he Q'd and he did his drop on recall. AGAIN he played with his dumbbell on the flat, and again on the retrieve over the jump, but the judge passed him. He also did his broad jump, so when we left the ring we were still in the hunt. He stayed up for his sit stay, so I figured we were home free, because he NEVER breaks his down stay. Oh yeah, you guessed it. He got up to sniff a spot in front of him before I even left the ring! And he looked at me the whole time he was doing it. I definitely think I got the middle finger there.

Sunday: Sweeps again. I have no idea who drafted this particular Sweeps judge, and I don't know what breed his background is in, but suffice it to say it's not Cardigans. We started out with 5 bitches in the 12-18 class. The first bitch up was a little leery of the table. Which was not helped at all when the "judge" fricking MOVED THE TABLE WITH THE BITCH ON IT!!!!! I didn't see what went down, but I was told later that the pup snapped at him when he did that, and he excused her from the ring. What. An. Asshole. He needed a good, swift kick in the jimmies. Seriously.

Anywho, Elli ended up going 3rd of the 4 remaining. Which was just ridiculous, as the dog that he placed in 4th behind her was the previous day's Winners Bitch (of a 5-point major) and BOS. I mean yeah, it feels good not to be dead last, but come on! Elli then went 2nd in the regular class, and the poor girl who had been excused from Sweeps won the class, after the judge was very patient with her on the table.

And Ian.... hoo boy. Okay. You know how I said he gave me the finger on Saturday? Well, on Sunday, he gave me both middle fingers, with a triple fist-pump for emphasis. We NQ'd on the heel free. Figure 8 sucked, he didn't do his drop on the recall, he effed around with his dumbbell, refused to finish, and then refused the broad jump just for good measure. The one good thing I can take out of Sunday is that, when we were told to sit our dogs for the long sit, Ian put his head down to sniff again and, since we had already NQ'd (rather spectacularly at that), I took the opportunity to give him a good correction before I told him to stay and left. He at least did the stays after that.

So, we left the show grounds around 3:30 or so. I got home at 8:00. When I got up yesterday morning and went out to make a grocery run, I discovered that I had a flat tire. Further inspection showed that it is almost certainly the rim and not the tire itself, if the big dimple in it is any indication. I'm now driving around on a donut until I can get up to the dealership tomorrow to get a new rim.

I did say I'd be happy if I came home from the weekend with one green qualifying ribbon. I apparently lied. But I learned lots of good information, so it's not a total loss (well, except to the tire rim). I think I am going to hold off showing Elli for a while and pray that she at least grows some hair and starts to look like a grown-up. I may enter Ian in conformation in January at the Fitchburg shows to try and pick up the last two singles he needs, but we'll see how things go. We clearly need to do a little more work with this obedience thing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Leg to Stand On

Well, we didn't do it in style, but Ian earned his first CDX leg today. I think the judge must have been in a good mood. :-)

Heeling was about like I expected: a little wide, a lag here and there. On the recall, I went temporarily retarded and gave a hand signal to drop instead of a voice command. Ian looked at me oddly and continued on for a few steps, but he did eventually drop, just in time to lose points but not NQ altogether.

Then, it's about the retrieves... He did go out and get the dumbbell and brought it back, so he completed the principle portion of the exercise. However, when he came back he stopped a little far out in front of me, dropped into a crouch, and mouthed the dumbbell until the judge told me to take it. I didn't move my feet, but I think I had to dislocate a couple of vertebrae and a shoulder to do so. Same thing for the high jump, only he went kind of to the side this time and played with the dumbbell. He also didn't really do a front on the broad jump, just circled around me and lost focus. But again, he performed the principle portion of the exercise, so we squeaked by.

Bottom line: A 174.5, which is about 4.5 points more than I thought we had. In all honesty, I wouldn't have been at all upset if the judge had NQ'd us, as this was NOT a good performance. We'll be practicing the retrieve tomorrow before ring time!!

As for Elli: there were three bitches of the five entered who showed up today for conformation. Elli got neither WB nor Reserve, so do the math. About what I expected. She did a nice down and back, and wasn't too bad on the table. Her trip around the ring wasn't very impressive, though, what with the sniffing and so forth.

I had said that if I went home from the weekend with 1 green qualifying ribbon I'd be happy, so if we get anything else this weekend, it'll be gravy as far as I'm concerned.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Close quarters

Last night I dubbed around with the writing blog, and after a while I noticed that my feet felt suspiciously weightless -- normally I have a corgi head on each foot. I glanced around the living room; no corgis. Didn't see either one on the kitchen floor on my way through, nor were they in the bathroom. The bedrooms were all closed off. Then I heard rustling coming from the crate that's tucked between the table and the stairs to the basement. Here's what I found:

This is only a 300 size crate, so what possessed them to scrunch in there together, I don't know. Doesn't look very comfy!

Tonight I've got a trip to Walmart to make, two dogs to bathe, three loads of laundry to wash, a car to pack, and Lord knows how many shows to set up on the DVR.

Tomorrow? Springfield, here we come!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This and That

As I'm sure most of you know from reading Joanna's blog, Clue finally came into season!!!! I am now commencing with the cautiously optimistic but hopefully not obnoxiously obsessive spazzing. I reserve the right to go into full-on optimistic freakitude if (When! Think positively!!) the future ultrasound comes back with images of multiple puplets. Say it with me: lots of blue girls... lots of blue girls...

Got the judging schedule for Springfield last night, and it looks like the only day I'll have a conflict is Thursday, which should be easy enough to fix if the obedience judge will let me go to the end of the class. Cardis are on early to mid-morning every day except Sunday, when Sweeps is at 12:15 and breed is at 1:15. Naturally. Because we wouldn't want to get a jump on the drive home or anything.

Ian did each of the Open elements correctly on the first try at class last night, so fingers crossed. It seems to be the second or third pass he'll mess up, and since you only get one shot in the ring, we may be all right. He's still heeling wide and sitting crookedly, but I'll cope.

As for Elli in conformation gaiting, and stacking on the table... um, yeah. She'll make a great obedience and agility dog. :-/

For any of you out in blogland who will be in Springfield, I'm staying at the Red Roof over in Enfield, and there are a lot of restaurants huddled around the hotels. We could plan on an informal Cardi and/or blogger dinner get-together thingy, if anyone is interested.

On the writing front, I've been wrestling with the finer points of plot progression; since the second half of the scene I posted over on the other blog is going to be important in kicking off that plot, I kinda need to have some stuff figured out. Must. Flesh out. Outline. So, more soon. For realz!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Keep 'em separated... ya ya ya...

Yeah, there aren't any musical symbols I can insert into the title line, so you'll have to imagine.

A couple of you said you'd like to give my foolishness (AKA writing) a try. Rather than clutter up this blog with it, I've created a separate blog for that. I'm only going to open it to readers I've invited, rather than having it open for just anyone to wander into. If you are interested, please email me at smalltymecardigans@yahoo.com I will send you an invite. The blog is called Bartered Goods; if I ever attempt to publish anything --

*ha. hehehe. hehehehehehehe. hehehe-snort-hhehehehe*

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. I write under the name Dayna Barter (my first name plus my grandmother's maiden name. Yeah, I don't know either. Just go with it.).

Jules and Marie, I didn't have your email addresses handy, but if you email me I'll get an invite out to you.

Springfield entries

Holy crap!! Check out the Saturday/Sunday entries!!

Thursday: 3-5 (2-1) 0
Friday: 6-8 (2-1) 2
Saturday: 11-18 (3-1) 3 SWEEPS: 8-9 (0-0) 0
Sunday: 11-17 (3-2) 0 SWEEPS: 9-8 (0-0) 0

That is going to be SO COOL to see that many Cardis gathered in one spot. And Elli is SO not coming home with any points.

Anyone want to place wagers on how many days out of four I will have a conflict between conformation and obedience?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brain hijacking

Saturday night, disaster at work: I finished the book I was reading when I was only halfway through my shift! Noooooo!! I had no back-up book, and no cross-stitch project to work on. Four agonizingly slow hours with nothing to occupy my time. What to do, what to do....

I've been playing at fiction writing for years now. I say "playing" because I possess absolutely nothing that even remotely resembles anything like ambition. I make up character sheets, I research locations and various subjects, I write out a full-fledged outline, I get a few chapters in, and then... I drift off to something else and leave it all unfinished. Sure, my characters get pissed off and yell at me in my head for a while, but I've gotten good at tuning them out over the years. They generally subside after a while and go off to some dark corner of my brain to sulk, leaving me to my other pursuits. Some like to sneak up on me in the shower and whisper dialogue, or make themselves their own playlist in my iTunes library (because it sure as hell wasn't ME who downloaded three Dragonforce albums), but they've been fairly low-key overall.

But one particularly insistent protagonist seized the opportunity my idle mind presented and decided it was time I did some more work on her story. Because I don't, you know, have enough to do, what with the working 7 days a week and training two dogs for competition. She very cannily pointed out that I've got loads of down time at my security job, though, and Gee! Isn't it handy that she's been a security consultant these last three years that I've kept her languishing in my work-in-progress file? (Not that that's her real job, but anyway...)

So it looks like I've got a new project to work on at work when I'm not, um, working. If anyone likes to nag, I hereby grant permission to nag me about how many words I've written per weekend, as doG knows it generally takes nothing short of cannon-fire to overcome the static co-efficient of friction and get me moving on a project. If anyone is interested once I get stuff to the point where it's suitable for eyes other than mine, let me know. Feedback is good, especially the constructive kind. This WIP sits firmly in the contemporary fantasy sub-genre, if that's anyone's cuppa tea.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I was planning to sign in today to regale you with funny tales of last night's utter humiliation at the paws of my youngest but, as is par for the course with Elli, she didn't oblige me.

It's been over a month since our last handling class, and Elli has had only sporadic training at outside locations since then. Our handling and table session at the public landing was not a resounding success; she was very focused on her Beagle buddy Mia (not to be confused with Ian's Beagle buddy, Becca), and focused little or none on me. I had a hard time keeping her gaiting in a straight line, and she was bound and determined to sniff every couple of steps. A subsequent work session at the Wag It training center yielded much the same results. Her gaiting is atrocious, her table stacking isn't much better, and she is apparently never going to have the plush coat I would like her to have. I do not anticipate her doing much of anything at the Springfield shows, frankly, other than helping to up the point count.

But I do expect her to eventually do, if not great things, then at least very good things in the obedience and agility rings in the future. So, to start working on those skill sets, I started Elli in a heeling class last night.

Ian and I have been training with Thom Lambert at Canine Connection for over a year and a half now, and I think it would be fair to say that I've gotten quite spoiled with my boy. Arguably the best-behaved and most consistent dog in his class, it's hard for me to remember that, when we started out, he didn't know how to do anything other than stand there and look pretty. It took WEEKS of daily, evening crate pad/clicker/treat sessions for him to get the concept of "down." He forged horribly when heeling, he would lie down on the sit stay every. damn. time, and he was bound to go visiting on the recall or during agility work.

In that year and a half, though, he's gone from there to being completely off-lead the entire class, including coming into and going out of the building. He's earned a CD and is ready (I hope!) to start competing in Open. He focuses, he stays with me, and while he'll never be a sharp, precise worker, he's a happy worker and he really, really wants to please me.

Little Miss Elli, on the other paw, really, really wants to please herself.

So when I headed into class last night, I was fully expecting to be humbled by the little, black, hairless whirlwind. The outings with Mia had prepared me for her total disinterest in my end of the leash; I was sure she'd be tearing to go play with the other dogs, I just knew there was no way in hell she was going to do a sit or down stay, and I was prepared for her to bark three-quarters of the time or more.

But Elli is loath to do the expected. She was excited to be there, to be sure, but as soon as we took our place in the room and I put her in heel position, she whipped her little head up and focused on me. I reinforced that liberally. Then we worked on having her sit in front and keep her focus on me, also with lots of treats for eye contact. (I swear to doG that my head is going to start flipping backwards -- for I am my dog's PEZ dispenser.) We played the Leave It game with good success, then did some sits and downs. Even with Thom knocking on the door, pounding on the heat duct, and twirling a weave pole, she stayed in her sit and/or down. The ONLY time she got up was when a huge, hyper Yellow Lab (is there any other kind?) got loose and pounced on her. I really couldn't blame her for getting up out of a down position for that, and I was sort of impressed with the fact that she didn't nail him for his rudeness. Actually, I kind of wish she had, because it might have done the Lab some good to have someone put him in his place, but anyway...

For the recall, I left her and went about halfway across the room. Elli waited until called, came running in, and gave me an awesome front, then a nice, straight finish. I may be a little biased, but I'd say she was easily the little star of her class.

As is almost always the case, I learned way more from the session than she did. I learned that she is very high drive, very motivated to work for reward, and more precise with her positioning and movement than her brother will ever be. She's also whip-smart, which is a double-edged sword; she picks things up very quickly, and she also gets bored very quickly. When Thom told us to take breaks and just play with our dogs, I had to restrict "play" to some touch games, some hand signal work, and some tricks, because any loosening of focus on my part meant she was whining, barking, and jumping to go play with the blue merle collie a few feet away.

Next week we will start doing some Choose To Heel exercises, and do some heeling as a group, which I suspect will erode some of her focus -- dogs moving in front and away from her mean the prey drive (or is that the Play drive?) is triggered, so I'll need to be prepared to "treat on the move." She does a good job heeling off lead at home, though, so I know she understands the concept. We just need to carry that over with the distraction of the other dogs.

So, this isn't at all the funny and self-deprecating little post I was expecting to write this morning. Which is good for my training program and for Elli's future obedience career, but not so much for your entertainment. Sorry, guys!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Off the soapbox and onto the Boob Tube

***The following typed with tongue planted FIRMLY in cheek. It's a total waste of everyone's time. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. You probably shouldn't even read it.***

I know it seems as though I've been writing about everything BUT the dogs lately. That's because we really don't have a whole lot going on right now, other than trying to get Ian ready for the trials in two weeks, and praying against all odds that Elli grows some, you know, HAIR between now and then. So, while that's keeping us busy, it doesn't make for real scintillating reading. Hence the climbing on of soapboxes and, now, the rambling on about my second greatest passion in life, the television.

[Hey, I live in Maine. It's coming up on winter. There's not a whole lot to do, okay? Don't judge.]

There has been a long-running joke at my house about my "TV boyfriends." Yeah, plural. I mean, it's not like I won't watch a show if it doesn't have a cute guy in it or anything, but hey! It doesn't hurt matters any. I even at one point had a "TV husband," but then he got old and puffy, and started taking roles in really bad Syfy channel movies (like there are any other kind of Syfy channel movies), so we divorced. The break-up was long and painful, and spanned several seasons.

Since then, I've been cultivating a harem (hisem?) of TV beaus. It's true: I'm a big ole TV 'ho. I know these polyamorous situations can sometimes be tense and rife with jealousy, but we've all been getting on pretty well. Nathan Fillion has me on Mondays; Jensen Ackles and Simon Baker share Thursday nights. Alexander Skaarsgard steamed up the hot summer Sunday nights, while Tahmoh Penikett keeps me entertained on Fridays. (Though honesty compels me to admit that Tahmoh and I are flirting with having a Friday menage-a-trois with Amanda Tapping. Because she is magical and made of awesome.) I regularly have dinner with Joe Flanigan and Jason Momoa as Stargate: Atlantis airs on Syfy at 5:00. It's all been very fair and democratic.

But lately, a fox has stolen into the hen... uh, rooster house. A fox who does not appear to be content with the status quo. Rather than respecting my time with the others, he insinuates himself with Youtube videos of panel discussions from Cons and behind-the-scenes DVD footage. He has me Gogling (defined by Websters as ogling photos dug up through Google) non-stop. This upstart is jockeying for the alpha position in the pack, and I fear he may be winning.

I said I would never get TV-married again after the long, downward spiral I found myself in with TV-hubby number one. It's too painful to watch their looks go as they languish in a stale series, then fade ignominiously into oblivion, only to re-emerge with a bad, fake accent and dialogue a retarded three-year-old would find inane. No more worrying over series renewal, wondering what he would move onto next and how it would change our relationship. I was to remain footloose and fancy-free, at liberty to seek enjoyment where I may.

But how, I ask, am I supposed to say no to THIS?

Tall, dark, handsome... a younger man at 25, so while I may feel a tad cougarish I at least need not worry about the bloom fading too soon from the rose... A gorgeous Irish accent that would make the stupidest piece of dialogue sound like poetry -- not that he's had any stupid dialogue because, unlike my ex, HE has landed a role in an awesome BBC series. He even has cute, awesome friends (okay, co-stars). And his smile is 1000 watts.

Yes, I fear it's true: I am deeply and irrevocably in lust with Aidan Turner.*

So what is a modern, harem-having gal to do? I don't know that I can be monogamous; so many pretty, pretty boys... But, Irish! And gorgeous!


Hey, I wonder if there are any new web photos...

*NOT the Aiden-with-an-e Turner of All My Children fame. That Aiden is just male model-type skeevy. Those bathtub photos? Ew.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I would like to officially apologize, to the country and to humanity in general, for the State of Maine.

Due in large part to a blatantly false ad campaign that amounted to nothing more than a cheap scare tactic aimed at the uneducated and the willfully ignorant, Maine's Referendum Question 1 passed, allowing a People's Veto of the previously passed law allowing for gay marriage in Maine. According to the Vote Yes campaign, a No vote meant that, basically, all Maine elementary schools would IMMEDIATELY cease any teaching of math, reading, science, etc. and focus singularly and with laser-like precision on teaching Maine's school-age children How To Be Gay.

Laughable as that sounds, it apparently convinced enough fence-sitters to vote yes. The ignorant, intolerant, homophobic a-holes were always going to vote that way, but I am bitterly disappointed that a majority of Maine voters couldn't see through that smoke screen to the real issue, which is that some people feel that it is their God-given right to tell other people whom they may love and how they may live their lives -- even when it affects there own lives NOT. AT. ALL.

"Save traditional marriage!" was their battle cry. Save it from what?! Other people being able to file their taxes a certain way? Which, again, affects them NOT AT ALL. "Oh," they say, "those people are promiscuous, they don't have monogamous, committed relationships." Hmm, a monogamous and committed relationship.... kinda like a, you know, marriage? I shit you not, this was one of the 'arguments' presented. Because, I suppose, straight people are NEVER promiscuous or anything.

"Our children will learn about gay marriage in school!" *insert outraged pearl-clutching here* Yes, heaven forbid we inform children that there are more ways than one to live. We wouldn't want them getting all tolerant and shit. Gotta grow up to be just like their faggot-hating moms and dads!! Bigotry, discrimination, unfounded hate -- these are good, traditional family values!!

But hey, there is a positive thing that we can take away from this: The Power of the People's Veto! So, for the 2010 election, I am starting a petition drive to repeal the right of blonds to marry brunettes. Blonds shall therefore be forced to marry only other blonds, and brunettes only other brunettes (redheads do not in fact exist as actual human beings; therefore they will not be referred to in any way in this petition, as sub-humans are not allowed to marry anyhow). This will lead to two distinct and separate classes of people, which is clearly how God (and Hitler) intended for it to be.

It makes exactly as much sense as denying homosexuals the right to marry.

Who wants to sign my petition?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Singing the Blues

...or the lack thereof. Joanna's Clue is playing coy with the whole heat thing, so it looks like she may be skipping this cycle altogether. Bummer. On the other hand, summer/fall puppies are way better than winter puppies, so there's that. *patience is a virtue... patience is a virtue...*