Roxy training diary month 18
November 2004

Dylan Goes to Camp

Roxy Gets Held Up at Camp Campers Listen to Stuart while Jim and Annie Wait Their Turn

Roxy Plays on the Teeter

Nov 21-25. Sunday, November 21 was a travel day. We drove down to Jacksonville, Florida for a three-day camp at the Stuart and Pati Mah Rising Star Dog Agility center. We had entered Roxy and Dylan in the intermediate camp, thinking that Roxy's OBM would have arrived before we came. It hadn't. However, that was a good chance for us to work on some OBM installation issues with help from Stuart and Pati.

One thing is, the other teenaged dogs there were border collies. Border collies spend most of their wicked, sharp existence making cattle dogs look bad. The border collies and Roxy were all at about the same level of ability, but the nasty black-and-whites could keep their focus a lot longer. Clearly, their owners get preference for OBM installation. It's just not fair. From time to time, Roxy would just shut down (Stuart said to me on Wednesday, "she's getting that glazed-over look in her eyes...better put her up"). Then I would go get Annie out to run the sequences, which worked out well since I still got to practice and Roxy got to rest a bit. Annie liked it, too, because she doesn't get to run and practice as much now that Roxy is getting all the attention.

I hope my handling skills are improving. The camp firmed up my decision to leave Roxy in AKC Novice until she is more reliable at working her way through a course. Some dogs need more to do and more variety, but I think Roxy can get some of that with USDAA trials and the games we're entered in.

Twelve hours is too long to drive back after camp closes at 5 pm Wednesday. A front had just moved in and we had some rainstorms to drive through, and of course being the Wednesday before Thanksgiving meant the traffic was heavy, particularly near the I-10/I-75 junction where one goes south to Orlando.

It's four hours to Marianna, Florida, which is a strange, strange town just west of the changeover to the Central time zone. We finally got there about 9 local time, which of course was 10 pm on our body clocks. The Best Western there was one of those strange places you only find when you travel a lot with dogs. The room to the right of ours was wide open, and the TV was going in the dark. The room above us was wide open, and the TV was going. This would not have been nearly as strange except that the cold front that brought the rain had moved through, and it was far from warm outside.

We decided to try Sonny's Bar B-Q for dinner, which is usually one of our favorite places. There was a family of four in the next booth, and while Rosemary was out feeding the dogs a kid of about three spots me from his high chair and points to the dog on my Blue Heeler t-shirt. I tell him I have four dogs in the truck. Rosemary returns, and while we eat dinner the mother proceeds to explain to her daughter, who is about 6, that the pig rib that she is gnawing is the same part that God used to make Eve. This was not theologically nor biologically sound – I'm almost certain that Eve was not made from a pig rib – but we just passed it off as one of those Red State experiences we often have.

That would have been the end of it, and not worthy of mention in the RoxyLog, except that after dinner, as we were letting the dogs out to use the grass in the parking lot area, the family came out and the same youngster, Jeremy by name, wanted to see the dogs. For some reason, Dylan took a dislike to this poor kid and let him have it. Then Roxy, who is normally kid-friendly, started giving him what-for and the kid recoiled in horror and started running around the parking lot. Chaos ensued; Jeremy was finally caught by his father and the daughter was not getting in the car fast enough, so Mom, who may well have been made from a pig's rib, had to smack Daughter to get her to move along. Father shot me a look like I was somehow an Evil Person for walking my dog on a leash in a public place.

Nov 20. Rainy, wet, muddy day. The dogs still needed their playtime, and Rosemary obliged them. Afterward, Dylan came back in the house and laid down next to his food bowl. He does this routinely to lovingly caress it with his tongue and make sure that every molecule of food is removed. This time, because of his muddy chest and legs, he left the Shroud of Dylan behind. Good thing it was before I vacuumed, rather than after.

Nov 19. More stay practices this morning. We've been working on the stand-stay, the sit-stay, and the down-stay. I think we're making progress on the stand-stay. There is a match here in town in three weeks, and we might just be ready for it. The sit-stay and the down-stay are causing me more difficulty. Her attention span is still pretty short. I need to try and get Roxy to focus for the three minutes it takes to do the down-stay, and then a few minutes more. Then we can start working with distractions, and then in different locations. It's such a long road.

Nov 14. There's something I've been wanting to get off my chest (so to speak) for a long time and I don't find it covered in any other blogs. It's not technically Roxy-related, although it's an observation that comes out of going to a lot of dog agility and obedience trials and using a lot of public restrooms. It has to do with a disturbing trend in toilet paper width.

Now, as many of you know, I'm a big guy and I have big hands. Like 40% of Americans and 52% of American men, I am also a folder and not a wadder.

I'm all for saving money, but can we please please not do it by decreasing the width of toilet paper? These cost-saving measures are causing my little finger to become needlessly contaminated.

This ill-conceived notion has obviously been perpetrated upon us Folders by a conspiracy of loose-thinking, nasty people who just wad up their toilet paper. They don't care how wide it is. We do.

Fortunately, necessity is the mother of invention. I offer this for the good of Folder humans everywhere: take one or two pieces of toilet paper and put it at a right angle to the neatly-folded stack you've created out of the regulation 8 squares of paper. Your pinky will thank you for it.

As far as the 20% of you who wrap toilet paper around your hand, I'm not sure how this affects you. Mostly, I just want to know how in the world you do this in a public restroom with a big roll mounted on the wall without severely twisting your wrist. Maybe this is a cause of carpal tunnel that no one has studied before.

Nov 12-13. I did my best to slip in some quick refresher training Thursday night before Friday's match, but I knew it was hopeless and Roxy still does not understand stays of any kind. She is especially confused about the stand-stay. It certainly showed in her performance at Friday's match. Her heeling, as usual, was brilliant both on- and off-lead. I was really happy with that. We tried a recall at about half-distance and if she had held her stay, that would have been pretty good to. Her fronts are crooked but I think I can fix that. Her finish is slow but correct.

So, we worked on the stand a lot. I'm not sure we're getting anywhere.

The plan was to stay overnight and run Annie in Rally Saturday morning, then drive back for the Olson wedding Saturday night. Well, that didn't work out because of some confusion in the schedule. We stayed overnight all right, and in the morning went to the show site in plenty of time, but just when I thought it was time to go into the ring it was not. They needed both rings for Rally and the other ring had at least an hour and a half to go. So, we scratched Annie in Rally and just drove home. That was frustrating, because if we had known, we could have left for home Friday after Roxy's match.

I really wanted to get Annie some Rally experience before they start it as a "for-real" class in January. Maybe we can do it in December. I'm not sure if I'm going to like Rally, so I want Annie to decide and if she likes it, we can keep doing it.

The way Roxy keeps heeling, I might just enter both the girls in Novice Rally. Stay tuned to this station for more details.

Nov 2-10. Left town Election Day, headed to Maine for some family history research and to Boston for the Association of American Medical Colleges meeting. This, of course, means no dog training for Roxy. It's depressing being without your dogs. I find myself going up to strangers with dogs and talking to them for no reason other than to pet their dog.

The weather was mostly cooperating. It was rainy Tuesday night as I drove up, but Wednesday was clear and a little chilly. With a 25 mph north wind, though, it was a bit blustery. I set out to find the graves of my great-great-great-grandparents, James and Annah (Sullivan) Hutchins.

They used to live in a place called Industry, which is in Franklin County, Maine. They're in a little private plot called the Shaw Cemetery. Back in those days, the Hutchinses and the Shaws were quite close. There were several intermarriages and I have lots of Shaw cousins I've never met. They even moved together to Wisconsin in the late 1800s and settled together around the Eau Claire area. The Shaws became rich, but my great-grandfather, also named James, did not. He was a ne'er-do-well and he and my great-grandmother Mary Blair Hutchins, my grandfather (who I am named after) and my great-uncles all moved out to Seattle at the turn of the century while my great-grandfather went prospecting for gold in Alaska. If he had found any, then I wouldn't be here.

My grandfather and great-uncles, not able to move any further West, put to sea in the merchant marine. I think I inherited my sea legs and love of ships from that heritage.

Near my great-great-great-grandparent's homestead in Industry, Maine is a lake called, with characteristic Down East understatement, Clearwater Pond. At least one of my cousins drowned in this pond while skating. It's a local landmark and quite beautiful, even more so on a blustery day with whitecaps.

The Shroud of Dylan

Roxy Just Can't Stand It

Roxy Figures Eight

Roxy Changes Direction

Shaw Cemetery, Industry, Maine

Graves of Our Ancestors

A Blustery Day on Clearwater Pond

RoxyLog October 2004 (month 17)

RoxyLog September 2004 (month 16)

RoxyLog August 2004 (month 15)

RoxyLog July 2004 (month 14)

RoxyLog May and June 2004 (weeks 47-52; month 13)

RoxyLog March and April 2004 (weeks 39-46)

RoxyLog February 2004 (weeks 35-38)

RoxyLog December 2003 and January 2004 (weeks 26-34)

RoxyLog November 2003 (weeks 22-25)

RoxyLog October 2003 (weeks 17-21)

RoxyLog September 2003 (weeks 13-16)

RoxyLog August 2003 (weeks 9-12)

RoxyLog July 2003 (days 25-54)

RoxyLog June 2003 (days 1-24)