Monthly Archives: January 2007

Trip to Portland

Jay misses Rain. A lot. So do I, but Jay does especially. So I thought I’d do some Web research and see if a breeder caught my eye. One did — Sweetbay, down in Oregon. They breed Newfs for performance, which means their dogs are healthy,structurally sound, and drivey. That sounded great, so since I needed to go to Portland for a business meeting, I arranged to visit Sweetbay.

The entire trip was wonderful. I got out early and made it to my meeting on time, despite the frost on the roads. My meeting was both productive and short — gotta love that! After my meeting I hooked up with my friend Greta. She had no classes to teach yesterday, so we spent the whole afternoon together playing with her dogs and chatting. Then we grabbed a quick dinner and headed to Sweetbay.

I can’t rave enough about Sweetbay, Judi Adler, and the Sweetbay dogs. On Tuesday nights, Judi holds an informal get-together for owners of her dogs to come and train in her training building. Last night they were working on Rally. Amazing! These weren’t the big, slow Newfs you usually see. These were dogs with real drive. Their responses were snappy and precise, and their attitudes were out of this word.

I was especially impressed with Judi herself. She’s clearly an excellent trainer. The heeling she demonstrated was as good as any I’ve ever seen. She was also an excellent observer and able to tell the difference between a handler error, a dog error, and a dog who wasn’t quite sure what the right answer was. I could learn sooo much from her. I wish I had a group like that to train with!

I had gotten up at o’ dark thirty to make the drive to Portland, so I didn’t stay after the “class” to chat. Greta and I headed back to her place, and I settled to sleep with Bailey, the beautiful show-type Aussie she’s fostering. (He’s an awesome dog!)

This morning we got up and went out to breakfast, and I got on the road about 11:00. I stopped in Olympia on the way home and had lunch with Leslie, Blue’s trainer. She’s great, as always. Love her to death! While there, we dropped off her car at a friend’s place, and I got to meet Henry, a man who has adopted nine special needs horses from Columbia Basin Equine Rescue, the place I adopted Princess and Rowan. Henry is an angel. He has pored tons of money into these horses, just so they can have a happy, healthy, pain-free retirement. Bless you, Henry!

Back on the road at 4:00, and finally home at 6:00. It was a terrific trip, but I’m very glad to be back with my own critters!

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Neighborhood troubles

One of our close neighbors had a break-in yesterday. Her husband was out of town, and she was at church, so no one was home when the robbers broke in. They have a dog, but he wasn’t hurt, and Donna thinks he probably showed them where everything was. The police said that these types of criminals usually work a neighborhood, and then move on, so we should all be extra vigilant for a while.

I hate to think of crime visiting our little rural neighborhood, but I’m not especially shaken. The thieves hit when they weren’t home, and didn’t hurt their dog. If they broke in here with the same pattern, we’d lose some electronics, sure, but those are replaceable. Humans and dogs are not.

Our house isn’t necessarily the easiest target either. No garage to hide in, and the house is clearly visible from the street. There’s a gate at the end of the drive and another between the drive and the house. The dogs would run away if threatened, but they have free access to the yard around the house, and they are large and loud.

I’m not going to fool myself and think that we couldn’t be hit though. I’m usually home since I work from here, but tomorrow I’m off to Portland. Jay is going to see if he can work from home tomorrow, but that’s a long shot for various reasons. It makes me a little nervous, only because I don’t want the dogs to face a burglar.

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A productive weekend

Our hay barn is a three-sided structure with an open front and walls that go only halfway to the roof. Don’t ask me why — I didn’t build it. We have tarps hung around the sides and over the hay to try to keep it dry. A tree came down on the roof in a storm a while back, taking out half of it, making it even less weatherproof. We don’t have the money to fix it right now, so Jay stapled up another tarp. I thought that was going to be a horrible solution, but it’s taut and has a slant to it, and has turned out to be more weatherproof than the roof was. Or, it was more weatherproof, until the wind storm ripped that tarp down, and then Mother Nature dumped ten inches of snow in there. On the tarps. Fun trying to lift THAT to get to the hay.

We took the last bales of hay up to the barn on Thursday, and since we’re having a freak bout of sunny weather, I devoted my weekend to getting the hay barn back in shape. I dragged the tarps out and spread them out in the sun to dry. I removed moldy hay and straw and disposed of it where no grazing animals could get it. The floor was originally dirt, with a layer of shavings, with a layer of pallets. After all the rain, it was a slick, gross, stinky mess of mold and mildew. So I dragged out the rotting pallets and raked away the moldy layer of shavings. Then Jay and I stapled up the roof tarp, put down new shavings, and laid out a floor of brand new, clean, dry pallets. My hay barn is pristine, and a pristine shipment of timothy is being delivered tomorrow.

I worked my ass off, and I’m very proud of the end result.

I caught up with my friend Kalisa this weekend too. Her daughter Kyra is a horse-training, horse-riding prodigy. Kyra tried to convince me that I should move my horses to the barn where they board so she can train them. The scary thing is, I’m considering it.

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Guide horses

This doesn’t have anything to do with my critters, obviously, but today CNN.com had a nice article about Ann Edie and her guide horse, Panda. Panda was clicker trained by Alexandra Kurland.

After seeing lots of video about Panda, reading about her training, and talking with both Ann and Alex, I’m completely sold on the idea of using miniature horses as guide animals. In fact, if I ever needed a guide animal, I’d choose a mini horse over a dog every time!

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A story without words

I wrote a scene in my screenplay today in which one of the characters had to come to terms with the alcoholic legacy he inherited from his abusive father. The character escaped his father half a lifetime before, but the baggage followed him, and at this point in his life, it’s clear that despite his hatred of the man, he’s slowly but surely becoming just like him. His father is dead, so he can’t confront him directly, and, really, it’s himself and his past and his own choices he has to deal with anyway.

The scene is set in the cemetery where his father is buried. I had planned for him to have a one-sided conversation with his father’s headstone, but a friend commented that he hated scenes where people talk to themselves because they’re so clearly expository. So I decided to try to write the scene without dialogue, just action. It was difficult, but I think the scene is a lot more powerful this way.

# Scenes written today: 3 — Act II complete!
# scenes to go: 15

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