Saturday, November 25, 2006

So... first inspection. EEEP!!!!

EEEPPP and may I repeat EEEEEPPPP!!!! Basically we (cough) worked most of the night and all morning and afternoon to get things ready. I know it prolly sounds like our house is a federal disaster zone given how long I've been saying "I've still got heaps of cleaning!" The trick is 1.) cleaning with a 1 year old is painfully slow due to the "helpful help" and b.) a lot of it is repetative cleaning. IOW I get it clean and by the next day (if it lasts that long...) it's quite generally a disaster again courtesy of Nic, Laurent, Cade, Sierra and Hope.

Laurent is definitely the biggest messmaker... quite often, he'll be directly to my side pulling things back out as fast (or faster!) than I can tidy them or causing me to pause and remove him from or remove from him. Bless him, he now RUNS with his booty as well. Nic is definitely a close second though, the only thing that Laurent has on him is that L drools and is generally has sticky fingers from it... otherwise I'm pretty sure it'd be an even tie. Although, come to think of it, Nic does have height on Laurent... Hmmm... *ponders*

At any rate, we did as much as we could by 2pm and while there was still stuff I'd like to look more posh to appeal to those nice dinks with deep pockets or at least a big loan, it was clean and neat and there was only 1 drooly handprint on the windows.

We got 7 people over 45 minutes, several phone calls planning to check it out next inspection and one person registering their interest. Not great but not bad. I'm chalking it up to voting day. So that's that... right now I'm just tired, after having run on adrenaline most of the past few days. Tonight I'm spoiling myself. We went to a patesserie for a severely indulgent Chai tea and nibbly and I'm going to have my nails painted, a nice massage, a long hot oil infused bath in the evening and just relaaaaxxxxx into a blissful puddle of goo!

Dog training notes: been dabbling here and there with the advice Jan gave me. Not sure how that is going as it just feels really, really uncoordinated at this point on my part. Working with Miss Hope as well. She is just too clever by half! She is a very INSISTANT little thing about these automatic sits! I stop, she ploinks and stares holes in my head till I move! Walked to town today and took her, she got to see policemen in full uniform, a display of ceiling fans blowing sideways with ribbons, a flittery banner, a lady with two obnoxious pulling schnoodles, a bunch of screaming kids, several clueless adults who were bluntly told they ought to ASK permission before reaching to pat her (GRRRRR.... major pet peeve for me!!!), walk over two types of sewer vents (open slats and the solid clattery kind) and see a big noisy motor bike.

For non-dog people, this is part of trying to expose her to all manner of weird, bizzare things we take for granted but which from a puppy POV look intensely weird and kind of scarey. I'm convincing her that weird stuff is not only NOT scarey but very probably intensely rewarding to be brave around! ;-)

Another neat thing, I found a picture of her sibling, Cuebiyar Body N Soul aka Floyd on his new owners website! Too cute! Reminds me I need to get a photo of Hope stacking and work on her webpage... usually too busy with child, dogs and moving to do so!

Friday, November 24, 2006

OMG the first showing of our house is tomorrow afternoon! I'm stuck between this weird zen place of feeling like it'll go how it'll go, so it's not worth stressing over and just going, "OMG, the first 2showing of our house is tomorrow and everything has got to be CLEAN!" (Hey in a house with a toddler, one puppy, two hooligan dogs and a crazy white spirit cat it's all out war to keep things sparkling clean! They're all demolition experts!)

We're moving the last (hopefully) of the boxes out tonight. I have to drive a BIG horse-float sized trailer here clunk-clunking over every pot-hole all the way. EEP!!!

The painters finished the dining room... and the handyman finished with the bedroom and such. Going to sweep up their dust and take pictures tomorrow! :-) It looks weird without our pretty antique fireplace inserts and mantles but the walls look nice.

Last but not least here is Bubby Bunny Lala in his new swimsuit I got for our trip to Toora and new wading pool! He's sooooo cuuttteeeeee.... *huggles my squidgey boy*

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

General Yayness!

Going to Playgroup today we noticed the sign for the house on Birdwood St was still up, so figured it must have been passed in after all! Called in and yes, it was passed in and yes they are still open to offers. Soooo.... we are wrangling the bank, working with the agent to see if this is doable! OMG! I'm scared to hope at this point!

Other bit... for those who've been wanting a peek at the advert for our house click here. It's only a shot of the front, the bathroom and the backyard (partial view, not showing the spa or garage on the right side of the yard) as we're having the tradesmen finish up tomorrow and then they can take more shots.

More yayness! Hope's sire Courage, aka BISS Throneapple Sub Zero is very close to adding Australian Champion to his name - he took Best of Breed at two shows this past weekend, leaving him just 7 tiny points shy of his title! :-) He is as lovely as he is sweet so I'm sure it won't be long now! Hope says, "Yay Dad!"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

First things first: I gotta show off what good friends they are! ;-)

Last night at freestyle I was one of two students who showed up so we got a bit of a private lesson! (We have two instructors - Sue and Jan, so one each! ) The freestyle stuff is of course always fun but we also got to pick our instructors brain and got some absolutely wonderful advice about several training issues I'd been finding frustrating. (Namely that I know basically what I want and need to progress but am uncertain on where that type of education exists here, as ideally I'd like to go to top/masters level.) I got a couple of new exercises to help refine some behaviours that weren't as nice as I'd like.

I found after being corrected in my other class (not freestyle) my body language was back to being more noisy than it's been as I've concentrated on calming down and not working my poor dog into a frenzy trying to extrapolate all my extraneous body language from the actual cues. In Sign language, I was told it was the equivalent of a echo/stutter. Consequently Sierra was really "up" last night as well... doubly so after being buzzed by a standard (BIG) poodle who got loose! Drat. Most of that reaction on my part, after thinking about it, stems from my childhood. My father was not a nice person and got off on proving that we kids were little, weak, stupid, inferior and he was big, strong, smart and superior. (Well, not really because strong people don't need to pick on kids to feel big but I diverge...) One of his favorite things to do was play head-games in which he'd pin me in a corner, ask a question and there would be a punishment for answering incorrectly. It was a blatant trap: there was NO correct answer, including not answering at all and so no way to avoid punishment, though the illusion of an 'out' was given... just answer the question correctly. Even knowing there was no way to avoid it, your mind would desperately be trying to think of a correct answer and I'd be in a total panicked frenzy which translates to me getting very panicky when I'm "corrected" or confronted with that type of authorative person now. This in general translates to jittery movement in front of persons in a position of authority. (Including teachers. ) Being in a clicker class, proper learning theory is practiced on students as well as dogs, so punishment, shouting etc. just isn't used... even on the owners. And I've found I'm much better able to keep my body language calm and quiet in that setting since I'm calmer myself, as I relax into not worrying about the instructors hollering or 'correcting' me, but rather teaching and going over patiently, reinforcing with praise etc. While I can (and certainly HAVE plenty of times) handle myself and asserted myself with people in the position of authority and have no issue speaking my mind with them, that sharp tone still elicits a momentary reflexive cringe reaction and moment of 'ack!heartattack!panic!' initially. It's SO quick now I doubt anyone notices it, but it's there. Interesting to see just how far the fall-out from punishment runs isn't it! I'm 25, live half a world away from him, have no contact with him for years, understand he was sick and what motivated his actions ... by all means I'm a responsible, independant adult and a mother myself... yet that legacy of aversives is still something I struggle with! Goes to show why I won't use it in my training!!!

Another question she asked me was why I wanted to do this. (This being not just freestyle but pursuing high precision, top level obedience stuff.) That one took me back a bit... geeze, I've ALWAYS had dogs and worked with them since I was teeny tiny. Sports are fun. You and yoru dog get to go play around a bunch of other people and their dogs, and everyone is as dog-nuts as you! Working dogs is fun, I get to acknowledge all the good stuff they do and my dogs do HEAPS of really neat stuff as my dogs are super cool! I enjoy the relationship it builds, the dogs sense of humor, I learn from them and about them. They are more pleasant to live with since they can get what they want and I can get what I want and we can communicate. It's neat to watch their minds work and peek into their thoughts. I enjoy seeing them enjoy it. I also enjoy the challenge of seeing if I can do it. So yeah, it's just plain fun. I know some people get way too serious but in my (albeit) limited conformation and agility, I've found that's really not me because we're competing against ourselves yk? I already know my dog is a great dog! If something happened, it points out a new challenge for me to understand how do to things better. Can I get the same stuff out of training if I only do freestyle? Yes but the other stuff is also really fun too. Agility is fast paced, instant decisions and it really highlights teamwork and strategy between you both. Tracking is so cool because you REALLY have to trust the dog and your relationship, since you can't see the scent to know if it's right. Herding is super challenging because you've got the wildcard of the sheep and it's a big need for communication and instinct and the dogs love it! I just want EVERYTHING! I'm greedy. LOL

Anyhow, just generally feeling really pepped up and like I've got a few more places to check to get the resources I need/want! Three cheers for lovely teachers!!!!!

As a cool little brag: Ms Hope, at 10 weeks, and is adding the target wand to her bag of tricks. She is coming along with it quickly! (See? Told you my dogs are cool!) She got to see the vets today (for weighing
, she put on 1kg at 5.6kg) and a worker who was doing renovations!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Going to be a longish post guys, getcher selves a cuppa... first is non-dog stuff, so dog folks feel free to skip down. Second is dog stuff, non-dog folks feel free to skip that! :-D

As per the last post we missed out on the Birdwood house. Majorly bummed about that. Went to Jayne's that afternoon for a psychic reading and drink tasting party. Sounds like an odd combo but made for a rather nice break.

I had quite a long reading and a lot of it was about Nic and really confirming what I already knew and had been saying and most of you have probably heard about that stuff before so I won't bore you! ;-)

I will say it was absolutely spot on and at times she was using exact words and phrases I've spoken to Nic. So that was the main bit but there were a few other interesting things that came up. Laurent and I apparently were best friends in our past life and that will follow us through in this one as well. He is going to be a real ladies man and charmer. (Did anyone whose seen him flirting shamelessly with every passing stranger not know that?) She apparently saw him in a white shirt, maybe in IT type job. She did say that while one of my fears is that our money will run out, I am protected and will never be without resources. I am apparently going to have 3 children - another boy and then a girl. My paternal grandfather came through and was acting as an extra bit of strength for me. Nic's maternal grandmother came through, complete with the stroke paralysis, to say she loved Laurent and was watching over him. (I said Nic would not be amused by that... he didn't like her to put it very mildly...) His mother came through as well and appologized for doing him a disservice by mollycoddling him as a child, say Laurent was the apple of her eye and that she liked me as well. Interesting since that's always been a concern of mine, with us both being very strong minded (and mouthed... *cough*) women. I'd always figured we'd either get along famously or be at absolute loggerheads. She also said that I very much felt the shadow of Nic's mum hanging over me and apparently his mum asked (through her) why I was fighting so hard against her. I replied that I didn't want to be in her position or follow the patterns that had been set up in that relationship. That was their relationship, this was ours, two different things and I don't want to play the role she did to him. She said there were a LOT of wish cards in my reading, lots of things I wanted coming true, lots of spiritual backing in my corner from the sounds of it but the bug-a-boo was that there was the Tower card which definitely had to do with Nic. So the long and short was I have pretty much everything I wanted in life or am on my way to getting it but there is a big gaping bunch of hurt emotionally which was sort of compared to feeling very battered.

So that brings us to today. We woke up late and had to dash to Croyden. Had the hardest time trying to find my instructor on the field! Our instructor was standing in for the normal Basic 2 teacher and had us fall straight in line and begin drilling. Egh. Sierra needed to settle in so I did a little focus work.

I'm not sure how today went. I was put off by a few of the techniques used. Not that they were unduley harsh but dogs were being lured or failing that induced to down and restrained to keep them down. One Staffie was on it's back and looked on the verge of shutting down because it simply didn't understand what was being asked of it. Cues were being given when the dogs hadn't even learned the behaviour. "STAND!" Well you started 1 minute ago. The dog has NO idea what stand means anymore than if I started giving you orders in French or Sign. It hasn't been taught, the dog doesn't know it and it's not fair to expect them to. If you worked on it a couple of weeks, got the behaviour fully fluent and then attached a cue which you reinforced, betchya you'd get better results.

Okay... so not how I'd do things, not how I'd teach things... but it's not my class, these are not my students, it's not my place. She said something about how you didn't want to "pussy-handle" a Staffy, have to know your breeds, you could pussyhandle a little fluffy dog but a Staffie would walk all over you. Yeeahhhh, you do need to understand breed traits and some breeds in general have different traits but regardless good leadership is based on respect and understanding. There are lots of ways to cement the idea in a dogs head that the way to get what IT wants is to do what YOU want which don't involve stressing the dog. :-/

Upside, we DID get some nice critiques... ie keep your dog straight, mind your hands, watch how when you use that motion you're pulling her forward and that will detract from your later work... that sort of stuff. YAY! That's what I want! I figure we do basically what we can at class and just teach it at home, fine by me as that's my prefered way to work. Gimme my homework, tell me how I've come along and let me go work on it. I think I frusterated the teacher because I didn't understand what she wanted me to do and couldn't easily hear her from a couple meters away facing away from in a biiiggg field!

The trouble for us came when the instructor had us sit the dogs in front of us. Easy peasie, Sierra did a nice job, click and treat.... Sierra stood to get the treat. "Don't treat her! She's out of place and she's broke the sit before you commanded her to do something else!" I figure she probably didn't see I'm using a clicker and it's an i-Click so it's quiet. I said she hasn't broke the behaviour at all because she was clicked. The behaviour was marked, the behaviour ends with the click and so she was effectively released to get her reward. I don't disagree with treating in position and am happy to do that (generally do except in free-shaping) but I don't click and not treat. If I'd wanted to use a "you're doing good, keep going signal" (I generally don't - I prefer to build up slowly to the point the dog doesn't need reassurance because it's confident this is how it's done) I'd simply reward without clicking and then when I was satisfied, click and treat. I'm told, no, no, have her do it again and then click and treat her. Eep. No... she's already been clicked. I'm happy to do it again but after she's been rewarded for this click. Instructor says Ah... you do things that way. (Uh oh.) Who trained you? We do things the Mary Ray way in this club. (IE click multiple times, treat sometimes, the idea being that the click is used as a 'go on' signal which contradicts current long-standing scientific data and which is NOT the Mary Ray way at ALL!) Eep. First day and having to contradict instructor twice. Okay, okay, being polite, being respectful, being veerrrrryyy mindful not to appear to be 'sassing' the teacher in front of her class which is disrespectful but at the same time I'm my dogs advocate. So am trying to project that into my voice while saying that no, this is how I do things with my dog. I always reward after every click. My training is from Janet White, along with techniques based on the Bailey's and the studies of Karen Pryor, Kay Lawrence, Steve White, Ken Ramirez, Emma Parsons, Kathy Sdao, Jesus Rosales, Kellie Snider, Morgan Spector, Steven Lindsay, blah blah blah..." Sooo not wanting to step on toes but my dog is mine and I don't let anyone do anything with them I'm not totally comfortable with. Likewise, I don't have to do something the way someone wants simply because they want me to, especially when it flies in the face of what I know to be true and have experienced with my dogs. No disrespect but I've seen too much evidence that clicking and not treating is counterproductive and as far as I'm aware she has no formal education in the field or any related field. (IE Precision training etc.) There are plenty of things I simply won't do to my dogs but I'm not here to disrupt, to contradict you in front of your students, to be disrespectful, be preachy, push my methods on you or otherwise cause trouble. I am here to learn, like everyone else, though perhaps different things than others at my level of progress. I'm hoping once that gets across everyone will be more comfortable when I do things somewhat differently.

At any rate, we got through class with some nice critiques and some nice praise as well. She asked me into the clubhouse after and basically asked who had assessed me (no one...) and started talking about a 'blue ribbon' (pass certificate?) you need and if I want I can do a Basic 2 Assessment next weekish or opt to continue in this class. Hm. So... I pass that and then what? Go on to the next level????? I look at the list and it's not horribly difficult but I'm not just gunning to get to the next level. The whole point for a basic class was so that I was working with skills she KNEW fluently enough we could do them with the class while working on being relaxed and focused in high distraction settings since Sierra tends to still be a bit wired in those settings - her focus and her latentcy turn to a pigs breakfast. I distinctly didn't want a bunch of new skills to be mucking around training while trying to focus on that! Sooo.... not sure what to do. She also said something to the effect (her back was turned, my hearing is crap) that I probably wouldn't want to/be suited to the instructor training program because I wanted to do things my way. About that time she mentioned she's the Head Instructor. Oh. Ohhhhh... Joy. Two sessions in and I've already been switched twice and the probably cheesed off the Head Instructor. Not that I'd have said anything else if I'd have known... but wow... this is just doing wonders for my batting average. o_O

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Very brassed off. We missed the Birdwood house due to lack of stuff that someone was supposed to take care of getting taken care of in time. That was the one I -really- wanted. Nic has STILL not contacted the people he was supposed to weeks ago. Our auction date is moved back. Again. From 25 Nov to 2 Dec to 15 Dec. Very much NOT a happy Amanda atm.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Reading everyone's blogs I'm struck by how much a lot of people around me have this whole really deep, complex sublife going on. You know, how we all have the surface stuff and even the more serious stuff which we discuss day to day but behind the scenes, below the surface of our minds we're busy thinking about things are just somehow "more"... the big important life changing stuff. These are people I see and talk to on a pretty regular basis, know fairly well if not intimately and then you read something and just realize how many layers we all have..

I keep meaning to write something like those posts. Something deep and meaningful and thought provoking, something significant, something based on what you've gotten out of the day and drawn out of the experience of truly living life. Hm. Maybe that is just me feeling like my life needs more of those things and that's why I'm seeing them in others? I do believe every day honestly IS precious and should mean something, it shouldn't be wasted and allowed to slip by without notice, yet too often we do just that. We try to rush from where we are to where we're so sure we need to be to live life, both physically and metaphorically, that we ignore the fact that we're busy living it now.

Unfortunately it seems like every time I try to think of something, my mind is completely blank. I've been just sort of humming along, existing because I'm tired. Very drained, crappy memory thing going on that I suspect may actually be a low-grade infection? Not sure. But just very tired. Not discounting the effect of the excess of surface 'stuff' which is hogging up my time and energy. Most of it is of course, situations and crap of my own doing... or at least my own allowing and I probably need to reevaluate how much I'm willing to allow it to run away from me, before I call it to a screeching halt and readjust things to a better balance.

Anyhow, enough jabbering. PHOTOS, what all y'all REALLY come here for right! ;-) After picking up the new mantle piece for the bedroom (we're taking our original antique ones) we went to the park.

"That is one TALL tree mum!"

At the park, they were having a huge rally/music event of some sort and he was pretty fascinated with the music and cheering!

Random Sierra shot. Not the best I've ever taken but something about it I like.

Still trying to work out how to photograph black dogs well. Especially black dogs with plenty of white bits. *_* Seems like I'm constantly either getting too much or too little light reflecting off her coat or it's imbalanced with her surroundings. :-O Hard time defining her eyes as well! She has really pretty eyes honest! X-)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Having fun puttering around with oil pastels at the moment. Mostly just experiementing to get the feel for how to make it do what I want. They're a little bit weird but fun. I feel like I'm channeling my inner preschooler: they're not nice well behaved paints, they're messy and you have to be right there in the moment... they are smudged, pushed, pull it, swirl it, strike it, scratch it... it's finger painting pretending to be grown up! ;-)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Well we finally got to Croyden and even finally found our way to the correct class! Turns out we were placed in the most basic class and Sierra already knew pretty much everything except Stand which she kept confusing with (freestyle) Backing. Several folks seeing Sierra were quite interested in the clicker, which was a bit tricky as I felt I had to answer their questions but at the same time I was there in the role of student and didn't want to step on the instructors toes or appear to be taking over or 'preaching' clicker. Not to say I didn't want to say something when I watched a couple of the students try to get behaviours by luring or pushing their dogs into position while telling the dog "Sit! SIT. SIT!!!" and I was thinking, ohhhh.... that could be done so much quicker and clearer and less frusterating for dog and handler with a clicker! I also felt a bit bad for some of the students as they were truly just starting out whereas Sierra and I weren't. My dizzy redhead just needs a class where we she knows the behaviours pretty well so we can focus less on the skill sets being taught and more on getting her used to being calm and working in a highly distracting environment as I could tell she was all over the shop emotionally due to the stimulation! A couple of times two of the students remarked to the effect their dogs were hopeless and they just wanted to trade them in for one like mine. I kept saying, "Look, less than a year ago this was HER... you are just starting, your dog is just starting, you'll get there! (Hey you'll probably go beyond if you don't also have a toddler distracting you!) Just give it some time!" Not sure if they believed me or bought into the idea that Really Good Dogs are born Really Good or turn that way Presto-Bango because they're Really Smart when the truth is that it's just a smidge of training really, combined with the fact she's learned that the way to get what SHE wants is to do what I want. I love Sierra, she's a *good* dog, she's incredibly sweet and she'll work her heart out for me... but she's neither particularly naturally obedient, nor calm (rotflmao!) nor intelligent. She's actually the least drivey, least skilled in problem solving/assessment dog I've had... compared to some evil genius masterminds I might mention.

It also made me realize how far Sierra HAS come in a relatively short time. Up until Laurent was born, I was way more interested in agility and pretty much ignored obedience classes, just working on basic manners stuff and dabbling here and there at home with the rest. We got her CGC** but that is an incredibly easy certification. I only really worked with her on obedience stuff after L's birth and even that has been catch-as-catch-can! LOL She maintained attention even when a couple dogs came incredibly close and two stuck their noses virtually up her bum. Even 7-8 months ago she wouldn't have been able to maintain that, would have been bouncing on the end of her lead wanting to pllaayyyy with everyone, absolutely frentic, especially in such a majorly distracting environment! Croyden is a HUGE club! Not that she hasn't got a long way to go yet but it occured to me how far she's come!

I got a call later this evening from my instructor who basically said that while it'd be nice to keep me around as an example to the other students, she's going to advance me to another class because Sierra knows too much. It's still going to be basic enough that we can keep the main focus on working on distractions, fluency, latentcy etc rather than new skills but the instructor feels it should suit us more. So tomorrow I have to give the new instructor a ring to find out what has gone on in the past few classes and confirm our place there.

** Non doggy translation: CGC= Canine Good Citizen Award. To get this award, the dog must pass 10 tests: accept a friendly stranger, sit politely for petting, allow the examiner to groom/examine it, loose lead walk, walk through a crowd at a loose heel, sit & down on cue and stay in place while handler walks away before returning, do a recall, react calmly to a distraction and behave itself during a supervised seperation.

Also: big gripe - what the heck is up with tradesmen who think it's perfectly fine to miss an appointment, rock up 4-5 HOURS late without even bothering to give you a courtesy phone call and and in the latest case - cop an attitude when you're NOT THERE figuring they skipped out on you since they didn't even bother to call?!?!? Grr... and we are on a deadline too with the auction coming up!

Cuteness: Laurent had been calling Hope "Sisi" (Sierra's nickname) but has now come out with a new version for her: "Goo guu" which is Babybabble for GOOD GIRL!!! (Guess what Hope hears all the time....)

Yayness: Laurent's bday photos are done and now I just need to arrange for a time to pick them up! :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Puppy news: We all took a walk to Glenferrie today, stopping at the local plant nursery and going through the park. She got to see HEAPS of people, a fountain and waterfall, truck being unloaded, a motorcycle and a LOUD weed whip and practice a nice amount of loose lead walking. I clicked her a few times for being in the heel position, otherwise just rewarded for being in the LLW position... little miss smarty pants figured it out quite quickly! She is doing great at auto sitting when I stop too!

General news: Laurent has more teeth coming through again, which is an evil of indescribable proportions in our home. Clingy and whiney are understatements the likes of which have never happened in the history of mankind. And tantrums. Have I mentioned tantrums? Loooooottttsss of them. Bigguns. Over everything and nothing. Panadol? Bauers Teething stuff? Teething gel? Bupkiss. Cool things to gum on. Schyeah rightttt. It was still better than yesterday when there was about a 6 hour period during which he didn't go 5 minutes without screaming, wailing, flailing and just plain not being happy. I've had my fill for oh... the next 40 years or so... can I have my sweet bubba back now? You want to know the sick thing? Even when he's being like this and I'm ready to ship him express to Antarctica for a few minutes peace, I'm clucky for another bubba. X_X NO, I'm not nuts enough to do it while I've got a 1 year old and a 9 week old puppy, not to mention the two older dogs to suck up my time but I'm still clucky.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Further gardening help...

Despite how innocent she looks, yes it WAS her who opened the bag and spread it all over the verendah! She was *quite* proud of herself too, wiggling and dancing around my feet when I spotted it, with little bits of dirt still clinging to her and full of glee! Cheeky girl!

Had a great day shopping for Bubby Lala gear.

Ms. Hope got to meet Helen the groomer whom we buy our Eagle Pack from and see a whole bunch of construction... jackhammers, pressure spayers and the works, replete with guys in work gear. Worked on the usual stuff, adding in our food routine. (All dogs must park their bums in their place, wait till bowls are filled and set down, eat AFTER being released and then park their bums after till I pick up the bowls again and release them.) She obviously doesn't do the whole thing but she is working on waiting to for her food in a sit and staying in her place for short periods of time.

Also looked at another house the other day, this time in Blackburn on Kerr St. Nice, big, roomy, very "family" feeling, good light and storage, I liked the trees. Needs some updating, outside needs a paint, shed needs replacing, a thorough cleaning, bedrooms were a bit small, I'd want to replace the kitchen and carpets but I did like something about it's feel. Not as much as the Box Hill South (Birdwood) or Belgrave ones though but the price is less than the Birdwood one at $510K Need to go out to Belgrave to follow up with the RE agents out there.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Everything is a game!

My gardening helpers.

In the spirit of the game!

She looks decievingly innocent when really she has a very puckish sense of humor! Still trying to work out how to photograpgh a black dog well but I liked this one!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I know several people out there have been going through difficult times in their lives lately and just wanted to let everyone know my thoughts are with you. Wishing you everything you need, at exactly the time you need it to see you through the darkness.

Not much to say other than that... L and I are still buggered getting over this thing. I'm feeling better, just reeeeally wiped. Took the dogs to the front of Safeway and sat on a bench where the dogs could watch the stream of different people. Worked on sits and eye contact for Chibi Pup, backing up for the Red Fuzzle. Cade held down the couch which was in dire danger of floating away. Laurent spent the day alternatingly nursing and trying to pry the clicker from my hand (NO way bubba, not my i-Click you don't!) and seems to still have a touch of it but I'm getting glimpses of my cheeky lil' man too. He woke me up playing peek-a-boo with the bed covers, pulling them over my face, off my face and giggling madly. Showed off his newfound ability to stand and take a few steps. Hundreds of cheeky gap-toothed grins. Hugs. Belly flops into my lap. Serious conversations held in baby babble. Gotta love this mum gig...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

So full of emotions today! On one hand, my personal life is going pretty darn great despite this darn gastro stuff. On the other hand, I've heard several things which have had me absolutely bawling today.

The good stuff: I am absolutely enchanted with this puppy and my two older dogs and my cat and my child and my husband who is being fairly amazing... and just life in general.

Hope has been a busy little bee yesterday and today. Yesterday she had her vet check-up. She was 4.6 kilos, got a little training on the scales, being gently examined, ears, eyes, teeth, temperature etc. All aided by liberal amounts of treats.
We also finally got the spa repairman out so she got a gander at a dude in uniform with drills doing weird things to the spa. Bubs and Pup were side by side at the gate watching! Did some eyecontact/attention and sit training, about 50 reps all up, smart little cookie this one! But other than that just basic manners stuff... no mugging, sit for pats etc. She's madly playful, I'd forgot just how fun puppies are! She loves tuggy, tennis balls, trots about holding the retriever stick and even picks up metal keys when I toss them down. Wow! :-)

Last night was kind of yuck in that Lala and I still don't feel great. Went to freestyle though I probably shouldn't have as by the time we got home I was feeling really bad and by midnight sporting a fever and was muttering incoherantly, of which I have no memory.

I'm feeling better today but still shakey. Had several sessions with Hope for eye-contact/attention and sitting, along with the general manners, playing the recall game, name recognition etc. She's already offering the sit when I reach out to pet regularly AND sitting when I have something she wants like a treat or toy. Aw... what a clever little monkey! She'sgot the "mother may I?" game!

I think I've got a future tracking champion here too... she's got a NOSE on her this one! Cade is okay, Sierra is noseblind but this little tyke air scents, ground-trails and gives a nice vigorous "article indication".

Bubby Lala is just gorgeous, sweet and wonderful despite feeling a bit crook himself still. He actually fell asleep draped over me the other night and slept the whole night like that, totally unwrapped and sprawled. *G* Poor squidge, but it was so sweet yk? He's also loving the new puppy. He's figured out she's the same type as Sierra and is calling her "Sisi" which he doesn't call Cade or other dogs who get a more generic "dahg dahg!" So cute!

Now, bragging about puppies aside, Sierra has also been doing pretty well. Got a bit more challenging for me, as they want us to focus on the actual beat of the music and stepping to beats etc. :-/ Feeling a bit worried about that.

Also have a new challenge to add to our leg weaving which Sierra does nicely. Our instructor wants me to try "grape-vine". Huh? She wants me to what? Yeah, that was my reaction. Never heard of it. So she demos: it's like this except she does it in a little diamond and square looking pattern: IOW it's an actual DANCE STEP!!! EEP!!! I still can't do a ROCKBACK step and that's step singular, not a 4 part or 8 part step! *_* ' I'm sure I'll get over it and she's right about pushing myself but *eep!* This is looking like something I'm going to practice till I'm 80 and still make a pigs breakfast of. Told Nic how I felt and being very helpful he interjects, "Well why are you even doing this then?" Thanks a lot hon, great support. *rolls eyes* He did appologise, apparently he was trying to get me to see the flip side of the coin in his mind. Still Si's doing quite nicely and I'm over all pleased to bits with her.

So that brings the other hand to the fore. It's not anything to do with me really but after being off-line more or less for the past few days I found out that one of the ladies I "know" off of a discussion board, not even super well, but whom I'd kept up with on the pregnancy threads and enjoying the general cluckiness one gets around pregnant women throughout her pregnancy and birth. After welcoming this gorgeous little one and having some minor troubles, tests revealed problems which nothing could be done for. The family had made the heartbreaking decision to bring their little one home to die. As a mother, I can't even begin to imagine finding out news like this... I can't imagine going through your entire pregnancy with the same hopes and dreams anyone has, birthing your beautiful child, seeing them whole and before you and then finding out such heart-rending news. The mother in me absolutely rails against the sheer horror of it and wishing strength and peace this mother and her family will need in the days ahead. Between this and similar stories from a couple of other people I know lately, I've been bawling half the day and hugging my family closer. I am also reminded of other babies I've known more personally who passed before their lives began and cry for them as well. Wishing brightest blessings to Z and H and honoring the memories also of Jessalyn and Neroli and all the other small angels known and unknown.

Monday, November 06, 2006

missive from Zombie Land

In the afternoon, when we were feeling closer to Zombie than Completely Dead, we decided we needed to venture forth for chicken to make soup. Hope got her introduction to her new collar, leash and the wonderful world of walkies. She walked part of the way and got carried the rest so we could work on loose lead walking without taking 5 hours to go to the grocery. We got a nice bit of socialization in and she got to walk on grass, cement, bluestones and bricks. She got to see several groups of people including a bunch of kids playing basketball and a skateboarder, lots of cars, plenty of pedestrians carrying crinkly bags and wearing hats, a dude with a beard and a bunch of prams. We walked by the train station and she heard the trains, train horns and airbrakes and an alley which required a bit of encouragement to come up through. We also got 4 border collie comments, including one who said, "I've never seen a Border Collie with brown above it's eyes like that!" (You still haven't, she's an Aussie Shepherd.)

Besides loose lead walking we also worked on greeting protcols (aka, bouncing doesn't work, sit your bum on the ground if you want pets", doggy zen (aka "mugging mum's hand won't work, waiting patiently will") and settling in your spot (aka "food rains from heaven when puppies sit here!"

Also doing really well in the crate at night and with house-training.

ETA Photos! First a few of The Bubby Lala I took the day before at the park! :-)

Having great fun climbing all around this great big old tree and it's massive roots!

Feeling pretty sad in both of these as I'd put him back in the pram and run out of dates. He loves them almost as much as watermelon but they're a treat being twice as exxy as bananas atm! Actually it's a darn shame these are B&W as they show the split colour in his eyes quite clearly...The inner half is blue, the outer half is brown.

One of my future dog trainer with Sierra! ;-) That's a bag of treats in his hands!

Meeting Hope....

These two are going to be BEST mates, I can tell! They are SO adorable together but definitely a handful!

One of me and the little girlie. I tell you butter wouldn't melt in her mouth!

One from the Specialty, the blue merle dog I'm holding is Courage, Hope's sire and hope being held by her breeder on my other side.

"Hiding" from the big dogs... hoping to get the jump on them in a game of chase. She seemed to think that if she couldn't see them through the foliage, they couldn't see her - despite her fuzzy black rump sticking up!

The Hooligans get down with a good game of tuggy!

And a few close ups of her resting (!) in the yard. I am still trying to learn how to photograph a black dog properly. The other trick will be figuring out a way to keep her at least 2" from the lense so I don't have a zillion photos of a blackish blur rushing me!

Sorry for the delay. I had a whole post put up but apparently for whatever buggering reason IT DIDN'T POST!!! In my defense, all three of us came down with gastro and I had a major fever and was just generally feeling like death would indeed be preferable! BLECH!!!

Friday, November 03, 2006


Busy day today. Lots of stuff around the house done. Lots more to do still and handy-people who (gods willing) won't cost a fortune being hired to do them. Think good thoughts for me for tomorrow, as the Bunny Lala has been up-chucking milk all day long. He's not acting sick in the least... quite the contrary, he's all smiles and grins and big belly laughs and then thar-he-blows!

Tomorrow morning I am going to spend a whole glorious day basking in Aussie Shepherd gorgeousness in all their black, red and blue glory at the Vic Specialty and while I'm there I'm going to pick up and bring home my most gorgeous new puppy who will have driven down with her breeder from NSW! Good luck and safe travel to everyone attending!

*does a little happy dance at the thought of puppy cuddles*

Congrats to Nancy on the safe arrival of her Splash x Diva litter! After worrying Splash would be the end of his line, she now has six little pups to keep her busy.

And special thoughts to Beck, Oscar and family who are in the hospital tonight for a positive outcome with heaps and heaps of good wishes from Bunny Lala, myself and Nic! (They're extra wonderful cuz they're from us y'know! *G*)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween which has always been one of my favorite days to celebrate is so different here. Most of the time I don't miss the US... the country life yes but not the place itself. However there are a few times when the differences are highlighted and I'll miss a particular aspect of it. It should be Samhain and the harvest being celebrated, except that the seasons are flipped here which is disconcerting to my senses which insist that October is autumn!

Rather I think back to trips in the crisp autumn air to the apple orchards to pick more apples than you could eat in a week. The clomp of horses running along an forested path with the scent of warm old leather, sweet feed and the broken grasses upon them. Wandering for hours in a field with frost upon the ground to pick the perfect pumpkins, the crackling-scent of colouring leaves as they fall underfoot. Mulled cider on the stove spreading the scent of apples and spice throughout the house as the ground smells rich and damp and about-to-rest while autumn gives way to the silence and stillness of winter. I find it disconcerting to my sense of time that when it feels I should be celebrating the end of autumn and the approach of rest and reminiscence, instead it's time to celebrate the approach of summer, the return of fertility to the grounds, the rebirth of life after the period of rest in winter. Today the scent of jasmine is heady on the air from my neighbors vine. My dogs lay next to me on the deck in the warm summer sun and I see that the tomatos and basil we've just planted are starting to grow and the garlic is dying back almost ready to harvest.

I didn't get much time to meditate on the day as I normally would or bake really... I'm not certain I would know what to do anyway in this place. But it was busy today as you might guess. My morning started off when Nic woke me up and informed me that the real estate troupe was here: the agent, four of his people, the copyrighter and the person who draws up the plans; along with an art assessor who was to assess our collection for insurance purposes. I had to rush to get dressed, my hair askew, no make-up and try and outspeak Nicolas who after having thus woke me up, saw fit to take charge and explain everything to these people.

I thought about it all instead while I folded the laundry, while I hung it, scrubbed the floors, watched Laurent, packed, watched the sunset, trained the dogs. So many changes in such a short time this past year. New goals, new directions, old things that need to be discarded and their energy allowed to return and disperse; new things that need to be invested into wholeheartedly.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I finally got to see the proofs of L's birthday, turned out very nicely and should get the first set of prints back in 2-3 weeks!

In other Bubbyliscious news, little mister took his first multiple steps today! Five steps the first time and between 3 and 5 the subsequent attempts. This was after we'd come back home from our special dinner I treated the two of us to and he caught sight of the dogs. Stood up, giggling and waving in delight at seeing "his dog" and after a few seconds of standing took one, two, three, four, five giggly steps!

I also realized I haven't actually written down what I've done training wise lately. This is because I haven't started Croyden yet due to the police incident at our neighbors last Sunday and I opted to repeat our current level of freestyle, not because Sierra needs the work on the tricks... those are actually quite good but because she needs more of the groundwork firmed up in her mind. She has a tendancy to forge in heeling, in fast paced exercises will mug my hands roughly, she needs more focus and concentration which is very much my fault for not working on those issues earlier and allowing her to feed off my own very 'up' energy and inconsistancies! So we're working on that now and instead of her being SO eager to do the exercise, we're premacking them so that, for example, she must perform a "focus/calm" behaviour (go to mat, watch me, stand quietly) in order to gain the opportunity to do the exercise (heeling, wand touch, weave etc.) The chance to do the task is essentially the reward for the calm-focus behaviour. Varying it of course so we don't end up chaining together things we don't want chained! The result for posting is that it's all rather boring!

What's not boring is that I've got a little fluffy puppy arriving in just 3 days! I am so excited about this, seems like a lovely fresh breath of air! I'm going to the Vic Specialty show to be surrounded by gorgeous Aussie's for the day and will come home with my little Hope!