Monday, May 18, 2009

Refining the "Sit" command.

Well this is a new one. Winnie sure has settled into the new house nicely, finding all her favorite comfortable places to hang out outside. Life is rough. The more I think of it - all this lounging around outdoors enjoying the weather and scenery - the more I think she takes after me!

I'd bet money if I put a hammock in the yard she'd be in it within a week.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Well, after months of waiting for Buck to get healthy, then his training, then my lessons, then moving, then Sandy riding him to make sure he's quiet enough for me, then putting the last bits of his tack together, the day finally came. I rode my horse today!

The western saddle weighs a ton compared to what he's used to. So you can imagine his surprise and dismay when I added my fat ass to the equation. Sandy said he splayed his legs out in a bit of a 'holy crap!' stance, but he gathered himself and didn't audibly grunt under the strain, so we can add 'polite' to his many positive qualities.

He's not as easy to steer as the horse I took lessons on, but he does understand the two speeds I need him to operate in (slow and stop) and he does generally go where I tell him. We mostly just walked, but we trotted a little also. Practice is needed for both of us, but this was a huge, successful first step.

I'm so glad Sandy got this shot of us heading back to the barn. House, river, me and my horse. Life is good.

Thanks for taking care of me, buddy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Birds spotted at the new house...

Even though we moved less than two miles, the terrain at this house is different enough - woods, the river, barn, open pasture - that we are seeing a lot of birds we either have never seen or only spotted rarely at the old house.

I don't have a big telephoto lens but this Tree Swallow let me get close enough to take his picture. This same day we saw a stunning pair of Orioles and a huge Pileated Woodpecker.

I had never seen an Eastern Towhee before (had to look it up) but saw one the other day. Residents on the property include Eastern Wood Peewees, Barn Swallows, Coopers and Red-tail Hawks, Bluebirds and a variety of ducks and other waterfowl down by the river.

I don't think a day has gone by when I haven't seen something new and interesting that makes me think how lucky we are to have found this place.

Obedience time...

Maybe it's her age (9 1/2 months), maybe it's that while I was concentrating on moving I have done very little training, probably it's both of these things. But Winnie is testing me regularly on her basic commands. Stay and Here are all but ignored unless I first prove that they will be enforced.

So this weekend we will start going back to basics with some obedience work. Praise, treats, a little bit of everything. I'll try to get her excited about the work and see if we can make some progress and snap us both out of the current pattern: her ignoring, me repeating, her ignoring, me yelling.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Grass is Always Greener...

...right after you mow it.

Gromit's feet always get a little green after a fresh mow, but we've had so much rain here that I had to mow the lawn while it was wet. As a result, it wasn't long before this happened. The pictures don't even show his green stockings as colorful as they are. But at least you can tell that he is ridiculous. And also that he has green feet.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back from the Specialty...

Our eight hour, five hundred mile roadtrip to Michigan for the Specialty was a smooth one. Winnie is a great traveler, and slept the whole way. I had to wake her up to let her out at rest stops. Once we arrived at the hotel she settled in very nicely. We met up with some nice HWV folks who came a day early also and had dinner. Then it was back to the hotel for some last minute grooming.

This is an extremely unrepresentative photo because it looks as if she is relaxed. This could not be farther from the case, as it turns out Winnie doesn't really care for other Wirehaired Vizslas. A fellow club member commented that maybe she was beginning to think she was the only one! But the entire show experience this time around was very stressful for her. Perhaps it was the long drive, strange surroundings, lots of dogs walking up to meet, or a little bit of all those things. But I'll be giving her a break for quite a while before we go back into the show ring. Besides, we have fun summer stuff to work on!

Despite my nerves and Winnie's stress, I felt like she presented herself nicely. The judges didn't reward her with a ribbon, but there were many, many very fine dogs there. I felt honored to be included in that very special Champion class.

The highlight of the show for me was seeing Winnie's sister, Bitz, do very, very well. She's a great dog and won Best of Breed in at least two of the four shows she participated in (I forgot the details, but she and Seraphim Kennels had a great weekend!).

My favorite photo from the weekend came just as we were leaving. I had so looked forward to Winnie's breeder, Peg, meeting her again for the first time since I picked her up. I was lucky enough to catch this wonderful moment as they said goodbye.

To avoid the risk of misidentifying someone's dog, here's a captionless collage of some of the great Wires present at the Specialty...