irony (I think)

I just finished my novel, last night. All 100,622 words of it. I make Nic tell me over and over the things he likes about it, to reassure me that it’s ok, because I can’t believe that what I’ve written is actually any good. He reassures me that he doesn’t like it because he’s my husband, but because it is genuinely good and he enjoyed reading it.

Still don’t believe him.

One of the main themes in my book was the idea of fate, being in control of it, or under its control. Today felt like one of those days to me.

We started the day with some amazing agility photos:

Such a lovely tunnel shot. <3

Such a lovely tunnel shot. ❤

Nic took this photo and it is so so so so so perfect. I can't stop looking at it, I love it so much.

Nic took this photo and it is so so so so so perfect. I can’t stop looking at it, I love it so much.

This one is pretty cool too. Doesn't look like too safe of a hit, unless you knew that her front foot had already hit the middle of the contact-zone.

This one is pretty cool too. Doesn’t look like too safe of a hit, unless you knew that her front foot had already hit the middle of the contact-zone.

This one isn't a good hit AT ALL, but I love how you get a real sense of the momentum and speed from both of us.

This one isn’t a good hit AT ALL, but I love how you get a real sense of the momentum and speed from both of us.

So after that I took Lumen and Loki to the beach.

I worked it out earlier, I reckon I’ve spent at least 12 hours walking on that beach over these 5 weeks of holidays. Every time, safe and fun, everyone has had a great time, no real incidents.

Then just as we’re heading home, 1.5 hours into a 2 hour hike, Lu runs with Loki past a stick (not carrying it, just a piece of driftwood sticking out) and cuts open her front leg and some skin on her ribs. And instead of pretty agility photos, I get photos like this:

After visiting the vet. They had to make the wound bigger to get enough skin to stitch it back together, or something.

After visiting the vet. They had to make the wound bigger to get enough skin to stitch it back together, or something.

Which is so, so frustrating, not only because it’s Lumen and we just can’t seem to go injury/sickness/something free for more than 6 months, but because you can’t possibly predict or plan for this. Unless you cotton-wool ball your dogs, or only take them walking on lead (which then risks agility injuries!!!) or, I dunno, make them wear jousting-knight’s armour…

Nothing is going to injure my damned dog now. NOTHING! Except a snake. And possibly injuries from carrying too much weight all the time.

And I got one really, really helpful comment on my Facebook status about her injury:

“I alway worry about that at the beach. Poor lumen”, which is like, really? Do I need your fucking guilt trip right now? Is it really necessary for you to make me feel bad about walking my fucking dogs on the beach so we don’t run into snakes and so they don’t get injured doing the sport we love? Like, what does that even mean? I know this woman walks her dogs on bush tracks. Does she worry about them there? There’s plenty of sticks to injure themselves on there! Take them to an open field then, but wait! Then there’s holes for them to fall in and hurt their legs that way! You can’t fricken win, so don’t fricken guilt-trip me it gives me the shits.

Fuck.

So there you have it. Fate is a crafty bitch. The end.

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ready, set, go

I borrowed Badger today and took him to the beach.

Incase I’ve neglected to mention it on here somewhere, Badger is Loki’s 1/2 brother, to the same mum.

He is very fun and he likes to go very fast. It’s been so interesting to watch the shift in dynamics of our little pack over the last few trips to the beach (this will be the 3rd trip with Badger over the last 2 weeks). For one, Badger usually watches Penny’s other dog Pan. But since Pan isn’t there Badger chooses an equally orange dog to watch, and so spends most of the time trying to make Mal move. This works at first but Mal is 11 so is tired after about 45 minutes and can’t be bothered chasing Badger any more.

Loki usually watches Lumen, body-slams Lumen, tugs on Lumen’s neck, bites Lumen’s tail, chases Lumen, is chased by Lumen, wrestles Lumen, pounces Lumen… you get the idea. But Lumen is actually quite boring at the beach. She just trots along and does her own thing and rolls in dead fish. Boring. The other day at the beach Loki had been trying to get Lu to play with no luck. Then he noticed that Badger would run away very fast every so often as part of his imaginary game with Mal. You could literally see the little cogs turn in Loki’s head. Wait on… that… that sort of looks like fun… like, maybe more fun than relentlessly annoying Lumen! And from then, it’s been many long sprints up and down the beach between the brothers. Badger… isn’t that happy about having his little dweeby tag-along brother, particularly as Loki occasionally forgets he’s not and Aussie and tries to Aussie Shepherd shoulder bump him, and gets in his way, and tries to make him play, when all Badger wants to do is watch Mal, but at least he does a whole lot more running and a whole lot less body slamming on the beach now (which MUST be better for his poor little bones).

But today I tested something. I remembered on one of Silvia’s DVDs (or possibly more than one) she says that a way to get them fit and get them to practise sprinting, is to play the ready, set, go, crazy BC game. Which I was like: uh, that doesn’t happen. Clearly just Silvia’s dogs. No normal dog would just run away for no reason.

But… yep. Apparently BCs do.

….oh. And 11 year old Aussies, too. Poor Mal. 15kg of full speed BC coming at you is no fun.

Note Lumen trotting in the back going “what? why???”. It’s funny, she’s so mellow on the beach.

This was probably already 45 minutes or so into the walk so they were pretty tired. 😉

gratitude, joy, love

We had a professional development day at school today and the 2nd speaker talked about Positive Psychology, and how this relates to education (somewhat). I really love psychology and personality-based stuff, I find it super fascinating. I wonder sometimes if I won’t get into psych somewhere down the line…

Anyway, we did our test to find our character strengths. Mine are:

Creativity
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

Judgment
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

Prudence
You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.

Humility
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.

Hope
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.

I agree with all of them as being my top 5!

One of the things she spoke about was the model for finding/experiencing/creating happiness and fulfilment/well-being, and one of the aspects of this was experiencing Positive Engagement. I still have some reading I’d like to do on this whole thing, but I understood this to mean finding gratitude/joy/inspiration/hope often, and this is something I feel I don’t do very well. I also saw a link the other day for “100 Happy Doggy days“, which is aiming to bring awareness to pet health and obesity by encouraging people to get out and walk their dogs for 100 days. Now, for my guys this generally isn’t an issue, although they don’t necessarily get a walk every day, we certainly do some kind of physical activity together every day (although I do think a full ‘day off’ every now and then is important, too!). So I thought I might combine the two. Rather than spamming you here, maybe I’ll take photos throughout the week and do a weekly photo-post of our gratitude and dog-walking stuff.

But since we went to the beach today, here is Day 1. 🙂 I love going to the beach and hanging out with my guys. It’s stress free (apart from when Loki tries to drown himself by getting dunked by a massive wave) cos there’s nothing for Lu to chase, no dogs for Mal to worry about, and Loki can endlessly play fetch in the water without hurting himself. Lu is calm and subdued on the beach these days, which is weird, but again, there’s less potential injuries that way. It’s very nice. Now that it’s warming up I might start swimming too.

Love this guy. Sent him out to wrap a tree while I stood back to take photos. Such a champ.

Love this guy. Sent him out to wrap a tree while I stood back to take photos. Such a champ.

Do you like my cool photo effects? (the light was weird so I played around with lightroom a bit).

Do you like my cool photo effects? (the light was weird so I played around with lightroom a bit).

"Ready, ready.... GO!"

“Ready, ready…. GO!”

Some more most excellent photographic effects.

Some more most excellent photographic effects.

impromptu beach weekend

So as you may or may not have read on my last post, it was Nic’s birthday on Saturday even though on Saturday morning I forgot because we were up very early and getting ready for a long drive.

We decided to do a bit of an adventure because an agility friend mentioned that it was whale-season where she lives, and neither of us had been there since we were young kids and also there was agility training and beach running to be had. Initially we were going to camp Friday night but we scrapped that idea after deciding it would be too much effort.

So we got up early on Saturday instead, shuffled the dogs into the car and set out on the 3.5 hour drive west.

We went straight to the beach, the 5 dogs meeting and getting their grumbles out before we hit the (deep, soft) sand. I always find it interesting to watch dog-pack dynamics. For example, when our pack is with Penny’s pack, Loki’s attention shifts from herding Lumen to watching and running with Badger, Lu and Pan spend a lot of time playing keepaway or Lu and Javelin go off roaming together, and Mal just hangs out. But they have an understanding. On the beach, Loki worked Lu, River worked Grace, and Mal just hung out. Our dogs all kept respectful distances from one another and refused to acknowledge that the other pack was there.

We saw whales!

Well… Like, the fin of a whale, and the blowing air/water of a whale and the blow-hole of a whale. And today we saw the same thing again, and basically the whale just looks like a floating log, but it was there. The ocean down that way is really cool – you’re walking along at the wave-line and it just drops so steeply downhill… sometimes the dogs would go down there when the wave had been sucked back out to sea and you’d worry that when the next one came in they’d be swimming and swept out because it’s so rough, but they’d seem to know where it was safe to go.

Then we went to the agility paddock and there were calves in the paddock next to it and the fence was only made of wires so I made the decision to not do anything off-lead with Lu just incase, but to play sequences with Loki (just for fun) and then do some self-control stuff with Lu. Well, Loki thought this was all very exciting and did a fantastic job on his little sequences – I have video, I’ll put it up tomorrow, and since he’s a Big Boy now and running his own sequences, he felt the need to SCREAM HIS LUNGS OUT when it was River’s time to have a turn. We did cik/toks and lap-turns and he is a very good puppy.

I took Lu to meet the calves and actually she was so much less interested than I thought, but while we were playing sequences 2 big cows came and visited and were running around and the calves were running around and that’s when she wouldn’t have coped. But we did hand-touches and played games and she looked at the calves calmly and then looked at me for a treat and in general was fantastic except if they ran, and then they were a bit much but we just moved away and tried again. Her focus, eagerness and attitude at the moment is just so much better than it’s ever been. It’s really lovely. And I’m seeing her make more and more good decisions at home, like if the cats are eating some food, in the kitchen, usually she would have told them off or barked at them, but I see her trying so hard now to be like: No, just, be quiet and calm, and you’ll get a treat… quiet… and calm… Oh God, it’s so hard, they’re eating something… quiet! calm!
And then she gets treats.

It’s really interesting to my brain right now how much I’m not like, frantic, about (agility) training Lu (or Loki, for that matter). I couldn’t train her yesterday and that was actually really ok, and I trained her once last week, and that’s ok too, and it’s going to be sunny this week so maybe there’ll be more trainings but if not, well, that’s cool, it’s all good. I like this attitude. It makes the training days really nice because I’m not hung up on a ‘result’ or fixing something or having to do something in particular. I hope this feeling stays even when she gets into masters because it’s actually kind of nice not caring so much.

Then we had dinner at Cam’s place and sat up late (PAST 10 O’CLOCK!!!!) talking about dogs and training and dog personalities and hard to motivate dogs and bitchy dogs. The next morning, Loki and Lu (and River) got to play in the backyard which is a big deal for them because our hard has so many steps and little retaining walls and stuff that it’s not safe for him to do zoomies with her out there while he’s still growing. Then we went to the beach again and saw more whales (well, more fins and more floating logs) but my camera was flat because I’d left it in the “on” position all night so it was very much “off” by the time I wanted to use it.

Photos!

last pill day party!

Today is a wonderful day. (doesn’t Javelin look so majestic in that photo? I can’t get over his majesty. Lu looks like she has broken front legs, Pan is yelling, and Badger is looking confused. Is Javelin the only one who knows how to take photos?!)

In a bit, I’ll be giving Lu her last pill!!! When I got this bag of 90 pills, it seemed like we’d never get through them. And when we first got her home and had literally 7 different types of medicines to give her all at various times (some 1 or 2 hours before food, some with food), we had little celebrations every time we finished one of them. And today, it’s the last day!

To celebrate we did some training with Penny at the park. Fun speed-circle type stuff, nothing too twisty but still getting to play with some handling. Then it was quite warm and she didn’t want to run dogwalks (ran around it, or very slowly over it) so that was ok, we just called it quits and went to the beach.

And there was lots of water leaping, and a bit of stick chasing and a little bit of swimming. And now I have a very wet pup (she does NOT try off!!! She literally got a wash about 4 hours ago and she’s still very wet) who has been curled up, small as can be on my lap. So cute. So damp. It will be very nice when her stamina is back to normal and she can really stretch out and run again. I see her trying sometimes but she’s not quite there yet.

Despite being very tired, she keeps trying to strike up zoomie-wrestly-running sessions with Mal, who had to stay at home because he’s too broken. Poor MalMal. Yesterday I did some shaping with him because he was going a little mad with lack of stimulation but my god he sucks. He just wants to lie down and put his chin on the floor and wag his tail and maybe he’ll get treats for doing that.

Also I think I’ve made a decision on Tink, but I’m seeing Amanda tomorrow so I’ll talk to her about it in person then.

new year’s eve & 2014 plans

Sorry if there’s some messed up code in this post, I was trying to link it to a slideshow somewhere else but it refused to work and now I can’t find the code anywhere to delete it. 

Epic, awesome, best way to spend New Year’s Eve: renegade camping on the dog beach with a campfire, watching the sunset, chatting about dogs and other stuff, cooking marshmallows and bananas with chocolate in their skins, seeing fireworks go off across the bay – far enough away that you can hardly hear them, dogs running, playing, wrestling, carrying sticks.

Not so great: sand. so much sand. & Lu needing to ‘defend the ranch’ by trying to bail-up passers-by in the morning.

Instead of ‘resolutions’ here are my plans for this year:

-begin competing with Lu. Not sure when – when she’s ready, when I’m happy enough with her jumping, when she can weave and do an A-frame. I don’t expect her jumping to be 100% by the time we start, and at the same time I think she needs that exposure to jumps in different contexts to figure out what to do. That experience, plus added confidence will hopefully develop her jumping style over time. Weaves shouldn’t take more than another couple of months – I’m not rushing them, just enjoy gradually making the entrance challenges more difficult, and building her independence.

-more adventures, and balancing adventuring with competing – this will be a challenge, particularly as the best hiking time is going to be winter (no snakes) and most of the competitions happen in winter. Hmmm! But we want to check out some new places this year when the weather gets cool again, and try and do some overnight hikes, or overnight camping with the car. Also more hiking in the snow, since that’s so much fun.

-finding a new place where I can train and hold classes on our own property. This then means buying more equipment (a seesaw, to start! Then maybe a tire) and making equipment (broad jump, jump wings).

-starting Lu in a herding trial, and maybe Rally-O, too. I’d love to get her started in some tracking training, too! So much stuff.

-get back to running to 10km. I was there once, if I can find the time, I can get there again.

So, that’s what I’m aiming for. Hoping you all had a fantastic New Year’s Eve, whatever you got up to. 🙂

Also, I just made this for Penny. Thanks very much, 1-semester’s worth of photoshop class at Uni.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh, and also there was this. (very very happiness)

And on that note, so begins our 4-5 (or so) day break from Agility. Hopefully there’ll be some adventures though, since I’m still on holidays. And maybe I’ll try and teach her a new trick (or sharpen up one she’s learning, like the vault off my chest, or snorkle on command, or … something else? Suggestions? Maybe bowl in bowl, and work on toy into toybox…)

beach times

So it was a warm Saturday here in Melbourne. Lu and I went to agility training and did a very half-hearted session. She does not cope well with the heat, my girl, even when I brought her an exciting new toy – a squirter bottle filled with water! She was perplexed as to where the water was coming from, though her tail was doing its slow, thoughtful wag so maybe she liked it a bit.

Anyway, then Penny and I went to the beach and because it was sunny I put my camera on its fastest shutter speed (4,000) and got to see what it could do… and I’ll say, I got more photos non-blurry than usual. The blurry ones were because it hadn’t focused in the right place, but in general it was quick to focus and seemed to not blur the dogs once in focus, even if they were coming towards me. So maybe there’s promise for the camera yet.

I have discovered that in regards to dog photos I:

– really really like photos of dogs running, most particularly at the point where all 4 legs are jumbled up together and off the ground, and when they’re stretched out really long. When the front feet hits the ground they tend to get an ugly face on.

– also really really like photos of dogs pushing out of the water majestically.

-find photos of dogs licking their noses or generally sticking their tongues out overly amusing.

-find photos of dogs making weird faces because they’re getting splashed in the face highly amusing.

So, below, you’ll find many of the above photos, and also some others that I felt summed up the walk in all its glory.