Roxy training diary month 52
September 2007


Autumn in the Wasatch

Sep 30.  Roxy had a herding lesson this morning, and Shauna gave us a chance to work on things that had not gone well last week.

The rain we had Friday in Arlington, Washington for the herding trial turned into the first snow of the season in the Salt Lake City area.  This picture is a view from the herding pen we were working in.

We're working hard on controlling Roxy's tendency to "dive in" and to get her to move difficult stock more calmly.


Sep 29.  Back from the ACDCA National Specialty in Washington State, with a load of interesting stories to tell.

Roxy did just barely well enough on her Pre-Trial herding test Thursday to get a qualifying score.  I need to do a better job watching her and reading the stock, and she needs to calm down a bit.  I was not unhappy with how she did; a Q is a Q.

Thursday night was Dingo Bingo, so we were up until perhaps 11 pm with minor revelry.

About 3:30 am Friday morning, I hear a tapping on my motel room door.  I look through the peephole and there's a uniformed police officer outside.  Since I don't have any outstanding wants or warrants, I opened the door and he told me someone had broken into the van but they had recovered my stolen property and I needed to come identify and claim it.

The squirrel had smashed both the drivers' side and passenger side windows, which ended up costing me $480.  With a $500 deductible on the insurance, that money came out of pocket.  On the plus side, the iPod, Harry Potter CDs, and (inexplicably) the sunglasses he had stolen were all recovered.  The iPod case had been jarred loose, but it snapped back in place and still worked.

The guy who did it was a very bad man.  He got Tasered for his sins, so as bad as my morning was, it was still better than his.  Our van made the local paper.  The Mt. Vernon Police were wonderful to me.

I drove to a local glass shop, Louis Glass, and left the van there, dropped the key and my business card in the night drop and walked back to the motel.  By then it was almost 5 am and I wasn't getting any sleep, so our friend Tracy gave Roxy and me a ride to the trial site and we showed anyway.  Roxy tried her best under difficult conditions, but I think all the unsettling excitement had gotten to her and we didn't qualify.  She did get her face and withers covered in sheep poop, which was fun for her I suppose.

By noon, the van was ready, so we got everything packed up, cleaned up as much of the glass as we could (we'll be finding it for years) and got started back home.  The traffic was backed up close to rush hour, so it was late before we got into Pendleton, Oregon where we stayed the night.

Saturday, we stopped off in Baker City, Oregon to visit with Roxy's sister Thorn.  They had not seen each other since they were 11 weeks old (as shown in the very first photo in the very first RoxyLog, scroll down to the bottom) and it might have been our imagination, but they seemed to recognize each other.

Poop-Faced Dog

Diving in Is Not Acceptable


Roxy & Thorn

Annie Says: "I Hate Your Sister."

Rivet & Roxy


A Ball of Confusion

Sep 23.  Obedience went much better than expected.  Roxy lost a lot of points on heeling, both on and off lead, and continued her tradition of no sits on the halts.  That cost us so many points that we were below the qualifying score level going into the group exercises (sits and downs).  Just to seal the deal, Roxy got up at 2½ minutes into a 3 minute down, so that was a zero also.

All in all, I was very happy with her obedience.  Her agility was not good, but it wasn't terrible, either.  She's still not ready for agility trials but she may be ready to get ready for obedience in the spring. 

Roxy also got to meet her long-lost sister Rivet, who was competing in the Rally-O! and obedience portion of the trial.  Rivet lives in California, and so Roxy has not visited her much.  Sister Tender was left back home (also in California).  We did not see Brother Red, either, but at least she got to visit two of her four littermates before the week was out.

Then things were a rush to get to the airport to catch the last flight back to SLC so I could go to work Monday.


Sep 22.  We arrived last night in Mt. Vernon, Washington for the Australian Cattle Dog National Specialty.

The specialty has a pirate theme, and we're told that tomorrow is "Dress Your Dog Like a Pirate Day", so we spent some time tonight with friend Tracy shopping for pirate booty at the local Mall Wart (motto: Your Source for Cheap Plastic Crap).


Sure enough, with Halloween coming up, there was a mother lode of cheap plastic crap, in this case the cheap plastic crappy pirate costumes.  Roxy wasn't too keen on her earring and pirate sword, and when we used the sword to lop off her foot and replace it with a hook, she was really put out.

She perked up a bit when I explained to her how the hook will be useful in snagging sheep.

It has been almost five months since we tried out her Obedience or Rally-O! skills, and I wanted to see if the layoff had tempered her feelings about obedience-type events. 

I had planned a training run with the very nice people of Bellingham Fit (sponsored by, so go there and buy a pair).  We put in 13 miles this morning, so I missed Roxy's Novice B obedience run.  I figured the single Rally-O! run would be enough for her, and I was right.  As I warmed up with her outside the ring, I had a beautiful dog who was happy to work with me.  As soon as we snapped off the leash inside the ring, she was terrified and looked as though she'd rather be anywhere else.

I'm not very hopeful for our Novice B run tomorrow.  We'll skip Rally-O! which seems pointless now, even though Roxy has two of the three qualifying scores she needs for a Rally Advanced title.  There will be agility in the afternoon, and we'll see how that goes.

Annie is really appreciating the opportunity to have people fuss over her.  It's unusual to see a 14-year-old Australian Cattle Dog in her great shape, and she feels she's worthy of all the fuss being made over her.  Our first-ever trip to the ACDCA National Specialty was in 1993 with a five-month-old Annie, so she's been doing this all her life, in a very real sense. 

I tried to get Annie to hold the pirate sword — she has mad holding skills from her days in the obedience ring holding dumbbells — but she protested: "I'm retired, dammit!"  She was having none of that, so Roxy ended up with the pirate gear.



Roxy Lays One Egg,

Then Catches Another

Inversion of the Body Parts

Pursuing the Egg

Sep 16.  The good thing about today was that I was able to walk more or less normally.  After my first marathon in May, I was pretty much out of action Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. 

This time, Rosemary and I took Roxy for a walk to the local ice cream parlor Saturday night, and that helped limber me up a bit, I think.  Plus, I've been training pretty hard (and, I hope, effectively) so perhaps my muscles and joints are used to it.

So, I felt pretty good about taking Roxy in for her first herding test today.  I woke up feeling just a little on the sore side of normal, and I took that as a good sign.

I was wrong.

Roxy had been very tentative and unsure of herself in the herding ring, which was a continuation of what I had seen in obedience and agility.  She has a bad tendency to shut down if I get fierce with her.

She had no such trouble today.

For some reason, she decided that chasing the sheep in circles would be a Fun Thing To Do.  It may have been fun for her; it was not fun for me, and it certainly wasn't fun for the sheep.

I was glad that I had entered her, though, if only because I would rather see this nonsense before traveling to Washington State later this month for the Australian Cattle Dog National Specialty.  Ironically, her confirmation for that trial came in today's email.

Our instructor was there, watching the whole thing from the pen where she was setting sheep for us.  She has some tips for us on how to handle it. 

Roxy just stuck her paws in her ears and sang, "LALALALALALA!" while I yelled at her.  Then, after we had well and truly failed, the judge came in and gave us a clinic and yelled at her.  "LALALALALALA!", said Roxy.  She shouted and whacked the herding stick on the ground.  "LALALALALALA!"  Eventually, she settled down a bit, and did some actual herding, but mostly she amused herself making them run away from her.

Her ability to pen the sheep, though not part of the exercise for this test, was pretty good. 

You won't be seeing any pictures of our herding, because as Rosemary said, "there was nothing to see except a cloud of dust."  It was so dusty from Roxy's playtime that her tongue freckle was invisible; her tongue was coated in a layer of sticky mud. 

Everyone else at the herding trial was really nice, though, and I didn't feel totally humiliated by the experience.  We may have time for one more practice before we leave.  I'm betting I get to yell at her some.

One of the things we'll probably do is have me take her for a run to wear her out a bit before we go in the ring for the real Pre-Trial Test.  Fifty or 60 miles should do the trick.

In that spirit, when we got home, I broke out the Egg and Roxy got to chase it around the yard.  You can see her Kuawarri Flying Spirit is still intact.  (Scroll down to the bottom for pictures of the amazing Air Leash, being demonstrated by Roxy and her Kuawarri cousins.)   This picture of her mom, Twist, shows you where she got her nasty herding attitude from.


Sep 15.  Through a long and involved series of events, I ended up running a marathon today, three weeks before I had planned.

My friend C. was running her first marathon at the Top of Utah, which is a big local favorite.  I had signed up for the race just so I could put my 20 miles on the calendar.  I had planned to have Rosemary meet me at mile 20, and then I could quit.

Several people convinced me that was a bad idea.  When you've already run 20, what's another six miles?  Piece o' cake.  Also, I agreed to pace C. and so I knew I could go out fairly slowly and not wipe myself out.  At least, that was my plan.

We started off running some 9½ minute miles, but things rapidly slowed down, not least because of Portapotty lines.  By 17.5 miles, C. was feeling ill and had pretty much had it. She decided to start walking, but implored me to go on.  I figured that I could run some negative splits (i.e. faster times than I had been running) and maybe challenge my PR, so I "took off", if you can call lumbering at a 10 min/mile pace "taking off".

One of the neatest things about the Top of Utah Marathon is the number of spectators out on the course, and most of them are just local folks out to see something novel.  We run through the towns of Hyrum, Nibley, Millville, Providence and River Heights before we get to Logan (home of Utah State University, and the finish line). 

All along the course, there were kids, maybe 6 or 7, who would hold out their little kid hands and invite you to high-five them.  (Well, it was a high-five for them, but a low-five for me.)  That was a lot of fun, and a welcome distraction.

Rosemary and the dogs were good sports about the whole thing, seeing as how they had to get up at 4 am so we could all drive up to Logan and I could make my bus up the canyon. 

Annie waited in her crate all morning, and then got to come see me finish.  She also got to participate a bit in the finish line festivities. 

By the finish line, I was in at 4:34:21, which was good for the PR (just by 5 minutes), 69/103 in my age group, but I still haven't beaten Oprah (or P. Diddy for that matter).

C. finished in just over 5 hours, which made me feel good, because I was experiencing some guilt, having abandoned her out on the course.

I hope to push my time below Oprah's at the St. George Marathon October 6 (what I was originally training for), and maybe even give P. Diddy a run for his time.  In order to do that, I'm going to need to run the half at close to my PR pace.  It'll be interesting to see if that leaves me enough juice to finish the second half of the marathon.

Marathon Man

Finish Line

Annie Airs Out Her Tongue


Sep 9.   Roxy has really come to love diving into the pond at Kelley Creek Farm.  Sometimes she finds ducks swimming in the pond.  She hasn't noticed the fish yet, but that is sure to happen one day.

These herding photos are special because these are wild, range sheep.  They hadn't learned to respect dogs or to go toward people or into their pen like the nice tame sheep Roxy started with.  At first they wouldn't let either Jim or Roxy closer than 20 feet before running off.  Jim said "It's like herding feathers!"

No Jim has not become one of those people who speak of themselves in the third person.  He's been busy and I couldn't stand seeing these photos with no explanation any longer.  - Rosemary


Sep 8.  Big day at our house.

Dylan started the morning bright and early at 6 am by passing a peach pit which he had swallowed about a week ago, and which had been irritating his stomach.  Rosemary and Dr. Nebeker got one up with apomorphine, but the other one stayed inside.  Dylan had been summoning Ralph on a regular basis earlier in the week, but had stopped, presumably because the pit had moved deeper into his GI tract.

We're hopeful that episode is behind him.  So to speak.

I needed to be up early anyway to race in the Huntsville Half-Marathon.  This week was my "stepback" week, with only 36 miles (only!) this week, so I was feeling pretty rested and the weather was ideal: cool (about 60°F when we finished) and dry. 

My previous Personal Record had been set back in July on a course that was a steady downhill, with about three miles of 8% grade.  I tore up my gastrocs, but set a PR of 1:50:22.  This time, I went out fast, thanks to running alongside Craig Oberg and Joel Bass, and was running 8:20 miles so I figured the PR was within reach, but this time on a regular half-marathon course. 

In the event, I finished just four seconds under my previous PR: 1:50:18, which was good for 12/19 of men 40-49 or 48/85 of all men. 

Then we went to Peach Days in Brigham City, which was not as exciting as we were led to believe.  There was a big board that spelled out "Peach Days 2007 Fun for All" in onions, peaches and plums, accented with mountains sculpted from peppers.  You don't see that every day.

The Kiwanis were doing something extremely sick, or at least, I was led to believe they were by the sign which said "Brigham Kiwanis Serving Children" over a picture of a beef cow and the words "Beef & Freezer Drawing".  Happily, they were serving cows and not children.  But it has to give you pause.

Grass-Fed or Corn-Fed Children?

The Crowd Marvels


Sep 3.  A good day for a run, so I set my mind on getting a Personal Record in the 5K — and did it.

I had been having trouble breaking 25 minutes, and so I really pushed myself, and ran it in 23:43 which is about a minute and a half less than my previous PR of 25:05.  That 25 minute PR was set back in January of this year, so I was happy to break through it.  That time was good for fourth place in my age group (out of seven), and 21st/41 overall.   The overall winner (who finished in 17:31!) was in my age group, so I probably could have picked up a 3rd place strip ribbon if I had hung around.  I'll make Annie share one of her ribbons with me.

Hooray for Hooper Tomato Days

Historical note: This race was to have been my first-ever 5K exactly two years ago, when I cancelled my entry because I had to drive to meet Rosemary, Dylan and Roxy after Hurricane Katrina forced them out of the house in Mississippi.


Sep 2.  We spent the morning at Soldier Hollow, watching Hope & Shauna's second run.

Unfortunately, they had trouble with one gate on the crossdrive and with the pen.

To give you an idea of how wonderful Hope is, the picture at left shows her outrun, where she has to go find the sheep and establish her control over them.



The tiny black dot at middle left is Hope.  The fuzzy brownish-white clump is the sheep.  This is about 1/4 mile from the handler.

I also included a picture of Shauna and Hope on the "shed", where she splits the group of 5 into two groups of 2 & 3.  She executed the shed very nicely.


Sep 1.  We spent yesterday afternoon out at Soldier Hollow, catching our herding instructor's first run in the annual Soldier Hollow Classic.

The Classic is a huge and prestigious herding trial that is run on the site where the Olympic cross-country skiing and biathalon events were held in 2002.

It was a very difficult course, but Hope and Shauna did well with it.  The picture shows the "shed", where Hope is to split the five sheep into a group of three and a group of two, then hold them until the judge signals.

We will head out there again on Sunday to see Hope and Shauna a second time.

Hope Sheds

I also had one of my long training runs for the upcoming marathon.  I ran in the Salt Lake City Half-Marathon, which started up Parley's Canyon and then ran over Little Mountain (about an 800 foot climb in elevation) then down Emigration Canyon.  That was the first 13 miles.  I posted a respectable time of 2:05 in the half; I wasn't pushing myself because I didn't want to use it all up on the course.  I then ran down to Liberty Park and completed two laps around the park for my 20 mile total.  I was pretty wiped out by the end, of course.

Next week is a step-back week, then I have another long run on the 15th.  I'm entered in the Top of Utah Marathon and I plan to run just the first 20 miles of that.  It'll be over the same course as last weekend's half-marathon, just starting 7 miles earlier.


Previous RoxyLogs
2003 2004 2005   
The Pre-RoxyLog Days RoxyLog January 2005 (month 20)
RoxyLog February 2005 (month 21)
RoxyLog March 2005 (month 22)
RoxyLog April 2005 (month 23)
RoxyLog May 2005 (month 24)
RoxyLog June 2005 (month 25)
RoxyLog July 2005 (month 26)
RoxyLog August 2005 (month 27)
RoxyLog September 2005 (month 28)
RoxyLog October 2005 (month 29)
RoxyLog November 2005 (month 30)
RoxyLog December 2005 (month 31)
2006 2007 2008    
RoxyLog January 2006 (month 32) RoxyLog January 2007 (month 44) January    
RoxyLog February 2006 (month 33)
RoxyLog March 2006 (month 34)
RoxyLog April 2006 (month 35)
RoxyLog May 2006 (month 36)
RoxyLog June 2006 (month 37)
RoxyLog July 2006 (month 38)
RoxyLog August 2006 (month 39)
RoxyLog September 2006 (month 40)
RoxyLog October 2006 (month 41)
RoxyLog November 2006 (month 42)
RoxyLog December 2006 (month 43)