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I’ve had some posts I’ve attempted to write about dogs and behavior and people.  But I’m exhausted, in the early start of a fibro flare.  And still doing way too much in the moment to moment of daily life.  Past couple of days I feel like I look up and it’s 4:50pm.  Where did the day go?  And why have I so desperately avoided sitting down or breathing all day?  I know why, but I try to pretend to myself in those moments I have no idea of my own behavioral patterns.  Yea, right.  Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt as they say.  Sigh.

So my attempts at writing have all ended up as rambling streams of consciousness that have near nothing to do what I intended.  Rather typical when I’m exhausted and brain is getting overloaded with pain.

So instead of writing, photos of my dogs. Because Tom and Zora can make any day better in my world.

Now to get to the task of getting this flare under control.  Time to start behaving myself for real.


Are Dogs Loyal?


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adjective: loyal
  1. giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.
    “he remained loyal to the government”
    synonyms: faithful, true, devoted;

Are dogs loyal to humans?

Some dogs are.  I think many aren’t.  I think people have this idea in their head that dogs are such pure and good beings that they forgive us our indiscretions, love us unconditionally, and other such garbage.  Yes, I said it, that’s garbage.

Dogs are animals.  With their own needs, wants, feelings.  If those aren’t met, most will do what they can independent of our human needs, wants, feelings to meet them.

For example, I’ve met a tremendous number of dogs who dislike being touched.  Who shun their owners.  Who ignore that their owners really want to touch them, sit with them, etc.  Tremendous number of dogs who when life gets stressful walk away.  Who when their owner is feeling sick or down, the dog is no where to be found.  Only when the owner returns to ‘normal’ does the dog want to interact.  I’ve met dogs who don’t trust their owners, I’ve met dogs who when on deaths door will refuse to eat for their owner yet take food from near strangers.  And that’s completely fine!  Sure the owners feel emotionally hurt and tell me, “But I feel like he/she doesn’t love me.”  Maybe the dog doesn’t love you in the way you imagined a dog would display love towards you, but does that mean he doesn’t love you?  Maybe the dog doesn’t love you, but do you love her in the way she needs?

Are those dogs loyal?  Is loyalty a one way street?

So many people have this idea of Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, forgetting that those were characters.  Fictitious constructs.  Characters played by actors.  Yes the actors were animals, but they were still actors.  Lassie wasn’t real.  Rin Tin Tin doesn’t exist.  Heck Lassie was played by a string of male collies!  In the story line Lassie is female.  Sure there are dogs that might look like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin as they are collies or german shepherd dogs.  Who might be trained to such a high degree, and have such a great working relationship with their handler or owner that they act very close to such.  But Lassie and Rin Tin Tin are still imaginary creatures.  Dogs don’t usually act like them without a lot of outside support.

Are my dogs loyal?


Tom in harness lying in the green grass panting

Tom I would say very much yes.  Tom is loyal to me.  Sometimes people joke at me they are going to steal him from me.  I tell them, “Good luck.  Go ahead and try.”  Tom won’t even go outside to toilet with my husband, who he adores.  He can’t be bribed with steak.  We’ve tried.  If I’m not present, Tom will constantly face the direction I walked away ignoring all else until I return including food, toys and attention from others.  If I’m too sick to get out of bed, he won’t leave my side until I’m able to get up and take him outside.  If he’s on lead and I need to move away from him, I have to tell him to down stay before I hand his leash to a trusted friend or family member or else Tom will drag them with all of his might to follow me, and when he puts his mind to getting to me Tom is really really strong.  If a door or gate happens to be open that isn’t supposed to be open, Tom finds me and then shows me what is amiss.  So yes, I’d say Tom is loyal to me to a near fault.  Tom will forgo meeting his own needs do a degree in the face of mine.  Meaning I have to be really conscious of that and often modify what I’m doing to ensure his needs are met in the best way possible.

Zora, now her Zora trusts me.  But is she loyal to me?  As long as I’m doing a good job meeting her needs in the way she needs then I’d say sure, she’ll be loyal to me.  I read an article recently about some court case where 2 parties were fighting over a dog.  The judge decided to “let the dog decide” by having each party call the dog and see who the dog went to.  I thought this was ridiculous and stupid, and highly unlikely to be a true test of a dog’s loyalties.  My husband and I joked that if we put Zora in such a situation, she’d probably go to him when he called in part because of the recall game we play a lot with her, but then when I walked away and she had to stay with him, she go, “Wait wait!!  No no no!!  I didn’t know what I was choosing, what was a stake!  I want her back!!” as I am the one in our relationship that actively meets the majority of Zora’s daily needs.  But if the chips were down and it was a matter of her choosing between meeting her own needs and meeting mine, I’m fairly certain in most situations she’d work to meet her needs over mine.

In my experience, I’d say Tom is an atypical dog.  Zora is much more typical of the average dog.  Tom is really one of the most non dog like dogs I know.  Yet he’s the dog that so many people seem to have in their heads as ordinary.  He’s not.  Zora is more ordinary in terms of where her loyalties lie.  Like for many people, it’s take care of Zora first, then go down the line.

Do you feel your dog is loyal to you?  Why?  Or how so?

via Daily Prompt: Loyal

How Long is Too Long?


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short post tonight as I have hit the burned the candle at both ends and now shall pay the price stage of my recent string of activities. Was all that I’ve done worth it?  Hmmm, ask me again in about 3 weeks….

anyway, every so often someone asks me my thoughts on how long is too long for dog nails.

this, this is too long


Zora’s white feet with toenails long enough to touch the floor & make tap tap tap noise when she walks

this is not too long


Zora’s freshly trimmed toe nails now short enough to not touch the floor or make sounds

That too long length happened within 2 weeks. I trimmmed zora’s nails on the last day of September. We the had our trip, then last week, and the agility trial this weeekend. Normally I would have trimmed them when we returned from our trip but I knew if I did that they would be too short for her to get good traction on the turf surface at the trial this weekend. So I had to deal with the increasing tap tap tap sounds from her all week. We weren’t home an hour today before I trimmed them. Why yes, yes I do have sensory processing disorder, why do you ask? Tap tap tap. Ahhh! So glad for my rotary sander tool and a well trained dog. Peace and quiet once more.

Big Dog, Little Dog


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this weekend is my local clubs NADAC agility trial. So despite exhaustion, we were there today and will be back tomorrow.  Our club is small, so when it puts on a trial it’s all hands in deck.

We had a good day today. Many nice runs.  Zora forgave my lack on energy and abilities to move.  She picked up a lot of slack and was good about letting me handle from a distance with minimal steps needed on my part.  Which I appreciated.

We still need to work on her taking a straight line off the start when I’m parallel Or behind her and there are obstacles to the left or right of the line I want her to drive up.  Both regulars she pulled off the second obstacle after she locked on to a jump off to the left, despite that my body language and verbals were saying go straight. I was able to redirect her but hoop hoop dog walk in a straight line is a pretty basic starting set up in nadac.  You’d think we’d have mastered that by now.  Back to the drawing board in how to train that to the point it stops coming up as an issue.  I thought I had it figured out, apparent not yet.

We also completed our versatility NATCH today.  Which means natch number of points each in regular, jumpers, chances, tunnelers, touch n go and weavers classes.  We needed one last weavers qualifying score to earn it and we did that today with a very nice and smooth weavers run.


Zora sitting on a chair with her natch ribbon and the club banner behind her

Today at the trial Zora was the smallest dog running.

Any guesses as to the largest?  The largest I’ve seen running at a trial in quite some time.

Yup, it was a Great Dane. And not a little Great Dane. But a really GREAT Dane!!  She was one of the tallest Danes I’ve ever seen doing agility.   It was really fun to watch. I was surprised how quickly and easily the dog seeemd to find ducking into the tunnels.  Danes I’ve seen run in past seemed to prefer other obstacles to tunnels, this dog seemed to really enjoy them though.

All in all a good day, and good to support the club.  Though I’m glad it was a small trial and done earlier rather than later. Tomorrow’s alarm to do it all over again will come more than soon enough.  Now for the remainder of the afternoon, I have a date with the heating pad and couch.

Fiddle Class


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Last night I had my very first fiddle class!  And it was awesome.  Oh so much fun.  W and I discussed whether I should go or not with the news of yesterday but decided I should.  I’m so glad I did.  It was a great class and a great stress reliever.

I’ve wanted to learn to play fiddle for longer than I can remember.  For those who don’t know I played classical violin for nearly all of my childhood, ages 6-18.  Private lessons, orchestra, chamber group, theory classes, solo recitals, the works.  For many years of my youth my mum and I traveled every Saturday to Boston so I could attend lessons at the New England Conservatory.  I really enjoyed chamber groups, the rest I found a rather stressful bag of activities.  I then took a few year break, and then took lessons for another couple of years during the time I was trying to relearn how to read and do math after a medical procedure had an unexpected adverse side effect of shooting those abilities to shit.  I figured learning to re-read music might aid in that process, it seemed to though I never regained the ease I once had at reading music.  Actually I’m really terrible at it now.


My 107 year old violin now fiddle!

But I’ve always wanted to learn to play fiddle.  Which is different than classical violin.  Like how playing jazz trumpet is different than playing trumpet in a marching band.   So when my town’s community adult education program offered it I jumped at the chance.  Apparently they’ve offered it before but somehow I just realized it.  Anyway suffice to say, I was excited and signed right up.


An instruction sheet I got at class called “The Anatomy of a Fiddle” explaining the differences between violin playing and fiddle playing

Last night was my first class.  And such a good time!  Such a nice group of folks in the class.  They’ve all taken the course before and range from people whole played in earlier years of their life to have only just learned to play through these courses.  One woman’s 6yr old son attends and he’s really really really good!  Everyone was so open and welcoming and learning  from each other.  I enjoyed that immensely.

The instructor seems really nice and very knowledgeable.  Her teenage son was also there, he too is a fiddler.  It was all very relaxed and as she said in fiddling there are many right ways!  Which is a refreshing change from my classical training where there were always many wrong ways.  It’s also great as much of it can be learned by ear (meaning I don’t have to be any good at reading music at all) and following along with someone else then adding your own interpretive bits to what you are playing.  Which I found very cool.

I had a great time.  And can’t wait till next week’s class.




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I had a much needed walk in the woods with the dogs and friends today.  This morning we received some very sad news, a death in my husband’s family.  Not unexpected, and a long life very well lived, but a huge loss all the same.  So the next few weeks especially are going to be more stressful than usual and then some.

The walked had already been planned.  My husband had already caught his train to work when the call came to the house, and with his phone turned off I just had to wait to be able to reach him to relay the news.  So the walk in the woods on this very fall day was had.

As my friend and I pulled into the parking area, we realized my mum and aunt with their 2 dogs each had also just arrived.  So we joined them for half of our walk.  Meaning 4 adults, 1 toddler and 9 (yes you read that correctly, NINE!!) dogs had a walk through the fall leaves.  My 1yr old niece was adorable trying to catch the falling leaves from her backpack carrier on my mum’s back.

I was able to reach my husband, he decided to take a bereavement leave day and returned home on the next train.  And well the day has gone pretty much as you probably imagine from there.  But at least we have a houseful of dogs tired enough to snooze while we humans act as grieving humans tend to.


Zora and Lucy snuggled together sleeping on the couch.  Zora is sleeping with her head on Lucy’s side


Happy Birthday Tom!


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Today Tom is 8!

I don’t even have words to express how much I love this exceptional dog.

Our trip just further reinforced for me how much he is not only an integral part of my family, but of my independence.  His guide skills, training, intelligence and personality all made the trip we just took so much safer, and doable for me.

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So instead I made him his own special birthday ‘cake’.  Full of all of his favorite yummy foods.

I petted him as much as he endlessly desired all day.

The kids and I sang him Happy Birthday.

He got to sleep on our bed all night last night.

And I told him every chance I got just how much I love him.

Tomorrow we are going to go for a walk in some of his preferred places and let him have a good guide dog time.

Happy Birthday Tommy Tomato Dog.  You are an amazing, wonderful, very well loved part of my family.

Tom’s Favorites Birthday Cake Recipe:


  • 1 can tuna in water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 small to medium sized apples shredded
  • tapioca starch (for binding of the ingredients)
  • couple sprinkles of garlic powder
  • chopped hot dogs
  • freeze dried raw dog food (we were given Sojos in our welcome bags at champs)
  • peanut butter for frosting

Tom’s cake ingredients on the counter top

In a large bowl mix together the tuna (drain about 1/2 of the liquid out of the can first), the egg, and the shredded apples.  Add in just enough tapioca starch for it all to bind together.  Sprinkle in garlic powder and chopped hot dogs.

Glop into tureens or other oven safe baking dish that is a suitable size.  Use a spatula to spread it so it is as even as can be in the dishes.

Bake at 325′ for about 50min (longer if you are using thicker or larger dishes, less if using thinner).

Remove from the dish and allow to cool.

Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on each as frosting.  Then sprinkle on top the freeze dried raw.

Sing to your birthday dog then let them enjoy their special treat!


Tom eating his birthday cake on a plate out on our deck

via Daily Prompt: Exceptional

NADAC Championships 2017 – Ribbons


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The dogs and I had some fun outside taking some photos with all of Zora’s Champs ribbons.  Ok well Zora and I had fun, Tom felt a bit put upon I think.

These are her Championships rosette ribbons from rounds 1 through 7 where we earned 1st place in rounds 1 through 6, and a 2nd place ribbon in round 7. She earned 1st place in the 8th finals round but they don’t give out separate ribbons for that round. There is also the large purple rosette and the large metal cup that she won for being the top Elite Standard Small Dog.

I’m thinking I’m going to make a ribbon wall hanging quilt with all of these plus the ones we earned in the pre-champs events.  With our newly remodeled bedroom, I think a hanging wall quilt full of blues and purples will look good in there.  I’ve never made a wall quilt before but hopefully won’t be too hard.  I have a good sewing machine.  I’ve started looking up ideas and such on various websites and have a couple of thoughts on design and how to make it percolating in my head.  We shall see what I come up with.  If I remember to take photos of the process, I’ll try to do a DIY post on how to make an awards ribbon quilt as I’ve only found a couple online tutorials so far and some of them were kind of hokey using only glue and such.  I’m hoping to incorporate doing some fabric squares with photos printed on them into it along with the ribbons.  If I get really ambitious maybe some applique corgis, but let’s not go to that level of thinking just yet.

I know some people would be “What?!  You’re going to cut your ribbons up?!” and yup that’s my plan.  We have a fairly small house and I like things to be well organized, easy to clean and low on clutter.  A ribbon quilt will consolidate the ribbons, photos and memories into one piece of art that not only I hope will look lovely, but hanging on the wall like that with fabric hopefully it will also help absorb some sound making it multi functional as additional sound reducer in this house.

My family is super excited about our win and are being super sweet.  My mum called to tell us she organized a family get together tonight to celebrate with us.  So family party at my folks house with special hamburger for the dogs even.  Pretty great to feel so supported.  It’s really nice.

Before Champs began I pre-ordered some digital photos and video from the various vendors who were documenting the event.  I can’t wait to be sent the links to ours.  I’m especially looking forward to seeing the action photos of Zora and I actually on course.  I hope they came out cool.  I know one run she was so amped up she was drooling, I wonder if they caught any of that.

Life feels like it’s getting back to normal though.  Lucy spaniel arrived a few hours ago and is visiting for a couple of nights.  Teddy shih tzu stopped by for a quick bath.  The 6 loads of laundry that resulted from the trip are nearly complete.  Hubby mowed the very over grown back lawn and did some grocery shopping.  I started my usual weekly meal prep.  And life as we know it is once more in full swing.  Onward and upward.

NADAC Championships 2017 – Home again


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Home again, home again, we are once more home again.  Yesterday’s drive through near constant drizzle was uneventful.  Smooth sailing.  My CNS and pain levels are as I expected ugh.  I figured I’d crash pretty much instantly once the event was over and the need to stay upright was no longer a real need.  Yup, and so glad I have the space to do that.

Tom is currently all snuggly, Zora is racing around like an under exercised corgi who slept for 11hrs in the car then 9hrs over night and is not getting a walk today, the ducks are happy, well cared for and calm, our bedroom remodel was completed while we were away and looks awesome!  But painting it shall have to wait till I have more energy.

The experience was amazing.  I had such a fantastic time.  As right now I’m more than rather exhausted and not thinking in a linear fashion at all, I’m going to post the comments I sent to NADAC on their Champs survey on my thoughts on the event.  Some later post after I have a few more days to think and reflect I’ll write a more thought out post on my reflections on NADAC Championships 2017 in relation to myself, my dogs, my support team and everything else.

My comments on the NADAC Champs survey to NADAC:

1.  Awesome event. Had a great time!  You and your support team did a fabulous job. My last clear champs memories were from Mankato in like 2000 or 2001.  This event was so much smoother, clearer communication, felt more relaxed yet so much better organized and overall I really enjoyed it.

2. Loved loved loved the real time and fast web updates. They made it so much easier to feel ‘safe’ taking a break from champs and not worrying about missing my runs. The course maps, scoring, run orders all of that. Awesome updates.

3.  The facility over all really liked and hope decision is made for champs to be here again.  Liked the interconnected barns, liked the crating area, liked the trial arena. The outside facilities and property were fantastic. I loved that I could easily get a break and be out doors, walk the track and swim the dogs, drag a chair out to some shade. Etc. it made for a much less stressful experience and for me with sensory issues made such a positive difference as I could take a sensory break from the noise, lights and such and recharge without having to actually leave the property. Such a positive.  I also liked that the announcer could easily be heard in the crating area. As again made it easy to know what dog was on course and when to get my dog out. The PA actually in the arena had issues. Liked that there were a variety of hotels, restaurants and grocery stores all within a few miles of the site.

4. The surface. Pre champs day 1 it was too slick. And champs round 7 it was too deep. But loved the surface all other rounds as did my dog. Besides those times I mentioned where I didn’t like it, I felt safe running on it. Not worried about falling or getting stuck or about my dog slipping. Great!

5. Loved that it was the 1st wk of oct and not the last wk of sept.  The last week of sept in that area is usually brutally hot, summers last stand.  The first week of oct through is often as this week was cooler and raining. I know some folks were complaining to was too hot or too humid but I don’t agree and know how much worse it really easily could have been had champs been the week prior as originally schedule.

6. Overall liked the speed at which it all ran. Thought most days were done at a reasonable time. I was annoyed at the inefficiency of the walk throughs that often happened for the 2nd run each day as if they had been done more efficiently could have shaved off a chunk of time. Also as you mentioned on sun at the awards the gate stewards could have used some better instruction. Maybe having a gate steward cheat sheet at the gate for each run might help. Also I ended up skipping nearly all of the morning briefings as they were just way too long.

7. Really enjoyed the course design. Liked that they felt a good balance of dog challenge and handler challenge and a good balance of far and close work all while feeling very nadac. I enjoyed them immensely

8. I liked all of the registration clarity and way it was done on line. The picking of crating areas, registering for runs, etc.  one suggestion would be to post the pre trial and side run class order before opening registration. As that would have changed what I would have signed up for.

9. One thing I would have liked was maybe have a meet and greet type event on wed or Thur. A loosely organized social. Where people can greet and connect. Especially for those that didn’t stay on site or who are new or like me haven’t been to champs in 17yrs. That would have been nice.  Other large dog events I’ve been to in past usually had a sponsored dinner or pot luck type thing one evening that people could register and prepay to attend. Something like that would have been rather nice I think.

10. Also would have liked some more communication after registering for champs. Maybe a sheet emailed out a week to 10days before outlining the timings of briefings, how walk throughs work, how the various raffles work, how the usual flow of a champs day might run, a listing of local vets, a basic site map, etc. again especially for folks new or who have had a long time since their last champs.  I gleaned that info from asking people I knew and from reading the forum but again having it all in an easy to read and reference email would have been great.


The awesome ladies and dogs that we competed and won with!  Go short dogs!!  Colleen and Maggie 3rd place, Christine and Piper 2nd place, and me with Zora.


NADAC Championships 2017 – Round 7 & Finals or Day 4


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Day 4!  The final day of NADAC Championships 2017!!  This has been such a fun week, I’m so glad we came.

First a little about the scoring at champs.  NADAC Champs is scored differently than many competitions.  In each round there is a base number that is calculated from the length and difficulty level of the course.  This is your starting number for that round.  They do this so that speed AND accuracy are most rewarded not just straight out speed.  Then the time it takes for you and your dog to complete the course is subtracted from that number.  And any faults you incur are subtracted from that number.  If a bonus is offered and you get it bonus points are added to that score.  So for example say the starting course score is 150 and you run the course in 50 seconds.  Now your score is 100.  Then you have a 10 point off course fault, now your score is 90.  If another dog in your class and height also ran the course in 50 seconds but had no faults, that dogs score would be 100 and higher than yours so that dog would place ahead of your run.  At champs the higher the score each round the better.

For each round those scores are calulated and added together to obtain the cumulative score for your rounds 1 – 7.  If that cumulative score is one of the top 30% cumulative scores for your class and jump height you get to go to the final 8th round.  If you’re not in the top 30% once those scores are all added together, your runs at NADAC Champs end at round 7.

In finals, the scores are calculated the same way they were in rounds 1-7.  But unlike in many other competitions, you could win 1st place in your class and jump height in the final 8th round and still not be the champion of your class.  As the champion is the cumulative scores from all 8 rounds, rounds 1 through 8, not just the 8th finals round standing alone.  So even if you were to place 1st in the 8th round if the 2nd or 3rd place dog had more points going into the final 8th round than you they could still beat you in the cumulative points tally.  This really does make NADAC Championships a marathon and rewards the dog and handler team that are able to do well over the entire 4 days of competition.  And I think that’s pretty cool.

Sooooo drum roll please, we made it to Finals!!!  And then We WON!!!!!!!!  Zora and I WON!! Elite Standard Small Dog winner at 2017 NADAC Championships!!!!  I still cannot believe it.  This little dog is so freaking amazing.  And the support from Tom and my husband, none of this would be anywhere near possible without them.  I cannot believe it. We freaking won Championships.


Zora lying on a purple awards box with me, her huge ribbon and silver cup and the head of nadac Chris Nelson also in the photo

Its still sinking in.  And it’s now very late.  And we have a long drive tomorrow, so I’m going to end this post with that.  We won, I can’t believe it.  So far exceeded any hopes I had for the week.  I figured I would call it a success if I could manage to get my body to cooperate through 50% of it.  It took a ton of micromanaging, being hyper vigilant of my body’s warning signals, and adjusting but so glad I was able to do all of our runs.  Such an awesome experience with an awesome little corgi dog and an awesome support team.

Also to stay consistent course maps from round 7 and the finals round: