Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Running at Night

I'm into my second week of C25K. It's going alright. Tiny bit sore, but I honestly expected to be sore before now. Obviously I've been running at night.

Pros:
1. the temperature is cooler
2. it's more private
3. it's when I have time to run
4. no people in my way
5. less likely to be hit by a car

Cons:
1. raccoons
2. can't see potholes
3. loose dogs that attempt to chase us, then realize Kaylee is a Doberman and run away
4. I'm wide awake late into the night
5. I'm all HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO! ... late into the night.


Ah well, could be worse. I could be not running at all.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And the Failure Gods said, "Let there be rain."

It started raining the instant I shut down my computer at the end of the workday.

I am not an accomplished wet-surface bicyclist, especially with a 60-80lb dog attached to my bike. My goal for the day was to bike my usual four miles... but that wasn't going to happen in a thunderstorm.

Or... was it?

As I complained about the rain, and one of my friends said to just go out and do it. After all, "it's refreshing to bike in a light drizzle!" So I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally the rain let up enough that I didn't feel completely stupid in my plan. I hitched up Jayne and off we went.

About a mile out, and the rain ceased being a light drizzle. It turned into a torrential downpour! Jayne was trotting with his ears down and eyes squeezed shut, and I was barely able to see through the sheets of rain. The problem with being a mile out is that there's a mile between you and home. So we pressed on, soaked to the bone, all the while thinking this was a very stupid idea.

As we pulled up to the house, I could hear Kaylee screaming inside. She's a jealous dog, and pitches a fit if she thinks someone is having more fun than she is having. Apparently in the Mind of Kaylee, slogging through a rainstorm on a bike is 'fun.'

Jayne bolted inside and immediately realized that he was wet. What do wet Dobermans do? The zoom, of course. Jayne bolted right into Kaylee to show off how amazingly wet he was, and she promptly bit him in the face for showing off. (Don't worry, it was just a scratch - nothing serious!)

I'm not going out there in the rain with Kaylee. I refuse. I'll have to make do with two miles today instead of four. It had better not rain this hard tomorrow.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Sick of Being Squishy

I know I'm... squishy.

I didn't used to be squishy. I used to be a size 4, I used to run cross-country, I used to take the dogs for 3-4 hour hikes in the wilderness every day.

I don't know what changed. Well, I know the contributing factors... I started working at a convenience store in college and developed a taste for sugar and fat. I was stressed out from having to take classes full-time and have a full-time job. I went through nearly two years of constant anemia and "female problems" that ultimately landed me in the hospital to remove a grapefruit-sized tumor... and also a diagnosis of PCOS. To top it all off, 90% of the food I was eating was making me sick... celiac disease. And now, my job consists of me sitting in front of a computer all day.

I'm sick of being squishy. I've been attempting to get more active, but it really hit me this past weekend when I got tired after a 5 minute obedience session with Jayne. Really, self? Did you really just get tuckered out after tugging with a 75lb dog for a few minutes? Things have got to change.

So here's the deal. I'm fixing this. And those of you who know me have every right (and my permission) call me out if you notice me giving up or slacking off.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I'm going to be doing C25k, and I'm taking Kaylee with me. She's not squishy, but she's definitely lacking in the energy/muscle department.... so she needs it as much as I do. I started tonight, and it actually went really well. I downloaded the podcasts to my iPod so I have something telling me when to run, when to walk, when to start and when to stop. I did have to laugh when the "coach" said I should be feeling the effects by now but not be out of breath... shoot, I was out of breath three minutes ago! I did learn that I need a few things.

1. a hands-free leash system for Kaylee
2. a holder for my iPod
3. ear buds (I stole my husband's PSP ear buds tonight, shhhhh don't tell him!)
4. maybe some new shoes. I'd like to eventually transition over to VFFs.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm going to continue biking. I actually started this several weeks ago, but I'm not going to stop biking now that I've started running again. I am up to biking a total of four miles now - two miles with Kaylee and two miles with Jayne. Eventually I'll increase this, but I want to stay at 2 miles for the dogs' sakes. Trotting alongside a bike for two miles is a lot more strenuous than biking two miles.

I also want to start walking at Gray's Lake on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays. I'll be taking Tallahassee both days, and probably alternating Jayne and Kaylee. Those walks are usually 6-10 miles and are actually quite easy. One problem I'm running into though is blisters. I had the same problem last year. I'm going to try VFFs and see if they'll keep the blisters away. I only get blisters on my toes, so I think it's a "toe box" issue with poorly-designed (albeit expensive and popular) shoes.

Weekends will vary. My only goal for the weekend is either a nice hike with the dogs, or an extra walk at Gray's Lake.

I want to feel healthier. I want to do 5ks with my friends from high school, and I want to do zombie runs. I want to fit into my clothes again and not be so self-conscious all the time. I've looked and felt like a marshmallow Peep for too long, and I'm putting an end to it.

I'm also going to further improve my eating habits. Smaller portions, more fruits and veggies, no more soda except on special occasions. I'm also going to try to limit my Mini-Egg intake, but that will be hard. You all know I live for Mini-Eggs!


(This is why I run at night)


Sunday, March 18, 2012

If it ain't broke...

We're switching to a new veterinarian. I love our new vet clinic - the staff is friendly, the prices are right, and I'm comfortable with their level of expertise.

Only one thing bothered me about our first visit. It's not really their fault - they probably see a lot of idiots every day, and most of their clients probably need to follow the one piece of advice I'm taking issue with, in order to be responsible pet owners.

I am talking, of course, about spaying and neutering.

I own three intact bitches. I'm not afraid of the "mess" and "hassle" of seasons, so please - don't give me the "doom and gloom" speech and expect me to have nightmares about packs of male dogs breaking the windows and doors to get at my girls. A heat cycle isn't like a tornado - there's no need to run for cover and blubber in a corner until it passes or dissipates. The healthiest dogs in my house right now are all intact, and the one neutered dog is the one I worry about from a health standpoint. He was neutered too early (my fault) and as a result is taller and lankier than he should be. If I would have known that I'd be working him, I wouldn't have neutered him.

Owners of intact dogs are not inherently irresponsible.

I understand why vets push spaying and neutering. Many owners are unable to be responsible enough to properly care for an intact dog. While there are some benefits to altering dogs, I do believe that most of the spay/neuter surgeries done in this country are "convenience procedures." It's more convenient to not have to deal with the extra training involved with owning an intact dog, and it's more convenient to not have to deal with bitches in season.

Yes, spaying and neutering does lower the risk of certain health problems - testicular cancer, prostate disorders, mammary tumors, pyometra, etc. I've been around hundreds of intact dogs though - and I've only seen a handful of those problems in older, intact dogs. For the most part, they're just as healthy as their spayed an neutered counterparts. (Yes, this is anecdotal, sorry.)

What you may not know is that spaying and neutering too early has been found to increase the likelihood of other more common and severe health problems. Osteosarcoma, cardiac hemangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism, urinary tract problems, urinary incontinence in bitches, and the risk for orthopedic disorders - specifically ACL tears and patellar luxation.

My first dog was spayed at six months of age. She was plagued with urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence her whole life. She developed osteosarcoma at age 6, which surprised us as she had no history of osteosarcoma in her pedigree. Her mother (who was intact) outlived her, and made it into the double digits before passing peacefully in her sleep.

My second dog was neutered at 4 years of age. Unfortunately I lost him too young as well - but it was not due to any issue related to neutering or not. I will say that he was a vibrant dog when he was intact - he was powerful, strong, intense, full of life. It was hell keeping weight on him, but I like to remember him at his peak - when he was intact.

This time, I'm trying something different. I'm not spaying and neutering unless my dogs give me a reason to do so. So far, it is working out well. My oldest intact dog is four years old, and she is healthy and full of vim and vigor. My corgi is intact, and she's just fine. And yes, my "mutt" puppy will remain intact as well - at least for a year or two, to give her time to grow and mature the way nature intended. My oldest has been bred once, and it was a planned litter. My corgi and my street dog will not be bred.

The ASPCA has a list of reasons why spaying and neutering is "the right thing to do" for your pet. I would like to address those reasons.

1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.
My spayed bitch had to be euthanized at age 6 due to bone cancer. She was on anti-incontenence medication her whole life. By comparison, my intact bitch is the very picture of health.

2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.
The risk of testicular cancer is small. I see this as a minor health benefit. Significantly higher risks of osteosarcoma, ACL tears, hypothyroidism, cardiac hemangiosarcoma... those are what I consider to be major health detriments.

3. Your spayed female won't go into heat.
That goes without saying. The issue lies in whether or not heat cycles are really something to get all in a tizzy over. It's not as bad as some people make it out to be, as long as you're responsible about it.

4. Your male dog won't want to roam away from home.
Funny, I've never had that problem with my intact males. Of course, they are also trained. I know training the dog is a huge thing to ask of pet owners these days, but come on... just train.

5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved.
Again, haven't seen this in my intact males. This is again a training issue, not a testicle issue.

6. Spaying or neutering will not make your pet fat.
No, it won't. Overfeeding a spayed/neutered pet will make them fat though - the caloric needs of altered pets is often less.

7. It is highly cost-effective.
I've spent more money on my altered dogs' health issues than my intact dogs' health issues, with the notable exception of my EPI dog (whose health issues are not related to her uterus at all.)

8. Spaying or neutering your pet is good for the community.
I beg pardon - training, socialization and public education are good for the community. My intact dogs do more for "the community" than the neutered poodle next door, or the spayed boxer a few blocks over. The difference is that I'm out there, training and titling my dogs and taking them to public events so people can interact with them. Their reproductive organs don't have anything to do with what they do for the public.

9. Your pet doesn't need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
Who says everyone with intact dogs are breeding them willy-nilly? I'm sure not! The only reason I co-bred a litter was to improve the breed. There were no curious children involved at all!

10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.
Yes, it helps in a way, but it's not the only way to fix the pet overpopulation problem. Responsible owners of intact dogs are not the ones creating the overpopulation problem.


I'm sure there will be people that disagree with me. That's fine - we're all welcome to our opinions. If you want to spay and neuter, go ahead - I won't stop you, and many times I will encourage it if you're not the most responsible adult at the slumber party. After all, I'm not the one paying your vet bills, just like you are not the one paying mine. However, please let me make my own decisions when it comes to my dogs. You can rest assured that they do receive proper vet care, are well-loved and well-trained. Don't worry about them... they'll be just fine.

I like this article about the long-term effects of spaying and neutering.




(K trains in a dog-thong when she's in season!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

52 Weeks of Dogs: 11/52

Week 10 (Mar 11-Mar 17) - These Are My Eyes
(....aren't they zombified and creepy?)





1/52 Portrait
2/52 Best Friends
3/52 Monochromatic (Greyscale)
4/52 Not So Serious
5/52 Not Supposed To Be Here
6/52 What is on me?
7/52 Will You Be Mine?
8/52 I Don't Want To Share!
9/52 Caught Red-Handed
10/52 Can we be friends?
11/52 These Are My Eyes
12/52 New Perspective on Things (Shoot from a unusual angle)
13/52 This is My Nose
14/52 Shot From the Hip
15/52 Easter!
16/52 Doppleganger
17/52 Playing Dress Up
18/52 Silhouette
19/52 Action!
20/52 Playing With Composition: Square Crop
21/52 Picture Trio! (Three pictures in a series)
22/52 Remember The Fallen
23/52 School Pictures!
24/52 This is My Tail
25/25 Show Me Some Muscles!
26/52 Turn Down the Lights
27/52 Support Your Country
28/52 Get Outside!
29/52 Those Are Some Funky Moves!
30/52 Play With Composition - 1:3 Ratio
31/52 Focus on Something Else (Shoot with your dog out of focus)
32/52 Sepia Tone
33/52 Time For a Nap
34/52 Stand on Something!
35/52 Cool It (Cool Tone)
36/52 Warm It Up! (Warm tone)
37/52 Not ok With This!
38/52 Can I Have That?
39/52 Tight Spaces
40/52 Running!
41/52 Get on the Ground! (Shoot from the ground)
42/52 Playing With Composition: Panoramic
43/52 Favorite Toy
44/52 Boo!
45/52 From Up High (Shoot from higher than your subject)
46/52 Living Life Indoors
47/52 Give Thanks
48/52 Playing With Composition - 1:1 Ratio
49/52 Exploring
50/52 These Are My Feet!
51/52 Playing With Composition - 1:5 Ratio
52/52 Happy Holidays!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Give a mouse a cookie...

Aryn and I went to the training building tonight to blow the hair off the floor and move back the ring gating. We have a regional IPO training day tomorrow, so the building has to be ready.

Yep. We only went to blow the floor. Riiiiight.

Five minutes in, and Aryn was already swearing up a storm, OH FOR F*CK'S SAKE! ...and putting away the clipboards. Throwing away old show catalogs from several years ago. Organizing the front table. Dusting. Filing the class lesson plans in their appropriate folders. Throwing away moldy dog treats. Moving plastic bags full of mildew-covered stuffy toys. Swearing some more, OH FOR F*CK'S SAKE! Updating the club schedule white-board. Recycling flyers for seminars from several months ago. OH FOR F*CK'S SAKE!

Finally, it was time to blow the floor. Aryn insisted she get the big blower, because apparently that's important. I told her size doesn't matter. I'm not sure she believed me.



Thoroughly de-fuzzed and de-gated, the building looked great.



With the dirty work out of the way, we decided to let Kaylee and Rocket play. But first, we decided to get some New Title photos of them so we could display their accomplishments on the club wall.

Kaylee was first. "You don't really need those kneecaps..." she said to Aryn.



"Fine, take my picture."



Rocket was next. His outtakes were hilarious...

"I will not look at the camera I HAVE A HEDGIE!"



"Prepare for MEGALOVE!"



Finally, he pulled himself together enough for a decent New Title shot.



Next, we attempted a group shot.

Rocket: "Hiiiii.... hiii..... I am so gonna poke you!"
Kaylee: "You do, you die. So don't."
Rocket: "le sigh."



Here's the photo we ended up keeping.



Then we let them play. I've decided that Kaylee needs to have regular playdates with Rocket, because he's the only dog she tolerates. My other dogs won't play with her because she's a spoilsport and bites them if they get too friendly. And since the others are quite friendly, Kaylee won't play with them.

Kaylee SMAAAAASH!



"Hot lava, hot lava!"



"I bow to you, sir!"



"What is wrong with you, Rocket?"



"I think this model is defective. I didn't break him, and whoever told you I did is a liar!"



"Ack! You rebooted!"



When we say "go play".... this is what they did. Lazy dogs.



Okay, signing off and going to bed. I have to wake up in... five hours. I am so screwed.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

52 Weeks of Dogs: 10/52

Week 10 (Mar 4-Mar 10) - Can we be friends?



1/52 Portrait

2/52 Best Friends
3/52 Monochromatic (Greyscale)
4/52 Not So Serious
5/52 Not Supposed To Be Here
6/52 What is on me?
7/52 Will You Be Mine?
8/52 I Don't Want To Share!
9/52 Caught Red-Handed
10/52 Can we be friends?
11/52 These Are My Eyes
12/52 New Perspective on Things (Shoot from a unusual angle)
13/52 This is My Nose
14/52 Shot From the Hip
15/52 Easter!
16/52 Doppleganger
17/52 Playing Dress Up
18/52 Silhouette
19/52 Action!
20/52 Playing With Composition: Square Crop
21/52 Picture Trio! (Three pictures in a series)
22/52 Remember The Fallen
23/52 School Pictures!
24/52 This is My Tail
25/25 Show Me Some Muscles!
26/52 Turn Down the Lights
27/52 Support Your Country
28/52 Get Outside!
29/52 Those Are Some Funky Moves!
30/52 Play With Composition - 1:3 Ratio
31/52 Focus on Something Else (Shoot with your dog out of focus)
32/52 Sepia Tone
33/52 Time For a Nap
34/52 Stand on Something!
35/52 Cool It (Cool Tone)
36/52 Warm It Up! (Warm tone)
37/52 Not ok With This!
38/52 Can I Have That?
39/52 Tight Spaces
40/52 Running!
41/52 Get on the Ground! (Shoot from the ground)
42/52 Playing With Composition: Panoramic
43/52 Favorite Toy
44/52 Boo!
45/52 From Up High (Shoot from higher than your subject)
46/52 Living Life Indoors
47/52 Give Thanks
48/52 Playing With Composition - 1:1 Ratio
49/52 Exploring
50/52 These Are My Feet!
51/52 Playing With Composition - 1:5 Ratio
52/52 Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, J&J!

Two years ago today, I was in Illinois helping my breeder bring a huge litter of puppies into the world. Thirteen out of fifteen survived. Of those thirteen... I own one, I live with two, and six I know by name.

So Happy Birthday Jayne, Jador, Zarah, Vader, Reagan, Maestro, and your seven brothers and sisters!



(Apparently Jador's "leave it" is better than Jayne's... or perhaps he just knows how to fully enjoy a birthday!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

52 Weeks of Dogs: 9/52

Week 9 (Feb 26-Mar 3) - Caught Red-Handed


Uhhhh... yeah. I skipped this one. Mostly because I ran out of time, but also because my dogs are well behaved. If I do catch them doing something naughty, I sure as heck don't run for the camera. I correct them, so hopefully they don't do it again.

This is me, being a rebel against homework. Take that!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hodgepodge 7.0

I got the term 'hodgepodge' from an old educational video-game system that I played when I was probably six or seven years old. My neighbors watched me sometimes when my parents were busy with work. We'd always call into a local Christian phone line to hear a Bible verse, and then play educational games until it was time for lunch. I always played Hodgepodge. I think it had something to do with jumbled-up words that had to be un-jumbled.

Ah, memory lane. In thinking about those neighbors (who happened to be very religious,) it still amazes me how many Christian activities I was involved in when I was young. My family isn't Christian, I'm not Christian, but somehow I found myself going to Youth For Christ meetings (mostly for the cookies and games) and attending church activities with friends. I listen to Christian radio at least once a week. I think a lot of the more specific religious stances and prevailing opinions on "the issues" are a load of hooey, but I think they've got general concepts down pat. I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess this is why I got that fun-but-useless minor in Religious Studies. I'm eternally curious, and religion offers a bottomless pit of learning. Now, if only I could find a Buddhist radio station... that would be fantastic!

I wonder if Ruthie (one of the neighbor kids) ever got her cat. Her parents told her she couldn't have any pets until she turned 18, and then she could have a cat. I hope she did. Life is better with pets.

I always seem to dremel dog nails after midnight. Curious.

Sometimes, you just have to help make someone's life a little easier. Give it a try - I guarantee you won't regret it.

Jayne decided a zombie on The Walking Dead was a threat, so he charged the TV and barked. Now I know we'll be safe in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Hooray!

I need to find someone to play a strategic board game with me and Steve. It's called Betrayal at House on the Hill and it's the best board game I've ever played. I was skeptical, but Steve paid me five bucks to play and I was hooked. Anyone want to come over and play? Please? Pleeeeaaaassseeee????

It's Mini-Egg season, folks! Rejoice! And finally.......



Talla's ears are finally both standing on their own!



It's 12:30am... I should go to sleep.