Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hodgepodge 14.0

Four wheel drive is fantastic.
For those of you who don't live in the Midwest, allow me to explain. Yesterday we were hit with a somewhat large storm, which as usual left large snowdrifts in our alley. Usually we end up getting stuck in those snowdrifts and spend hours digging out our cars. The Element plowed through those snowdrifts like a champ though - didn't get stuck at all! Hooray for four wheel drive!

I'm getting excited about LGRA.
Unlike lure coursing, the Large Gazehound Racing Association is a straight-line racing organization.  Hounds chase a lure (with a squawker!) for 200 yards. A friend of mine told me that the LGRA club in Iowa lets non-sighthounds run for fun, and that it's a good idea to do straight-line racing in addition to lure coursing because it can help build drive and focus.  So of course, the dobes are going to get into straight-line racing now! One rule is that the dogs must be muzzled, so Kaylee's muzzle from Halemar has been order and is due to arrive any day now.  I already have turn-out muzzles, but racing muzzles are different than regular muzzles - they are built to allow the dog to be able to open their mouth much wider.  Our first LGRA meet is in early March... should be fun!  I'll try to get photos!

I am an insurance nerd.  It's getting out of control.
Insurance is amazing, folks. Granted I may be biased because I work in the industry, but it's mind-boggling how much everything ties into insurance.  It's getting bad though, because... I've started dreaming about insurance.  I had a really detailed, complicated, embarrassing and hilarious insurance dream last night.  I dreamed that I was working on a New Business policy for my favorite actor's farm*. I remember being extremely giddy the whole time I was quoting it, and kept sending screenshots of the application to one of my co-workers and exclaiming, "Oh my GOD I get to insure his LLAMAS!"  Yeah.  I'm a nerd.  (*and yes, he does have a real farm, with real llamas.)

We've been crating the dogs more.
They were getting too used to being house dogs, and that's not good. I moved our "wall of crates" to a warmer part of the basement. In an effort to raise the temperatures in the basement, we decided that we'd no longer keep it closed off from the rest of the house.  As a result, the cats are now allowed upstairs. It's been interesting.  Pierre figured out how to open (and crawl inside) the microwave.

... and I am so proud of Jayne.  He's been leaving the cats alone for the most part, which is huge for him.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


By request, here are some photos of the puppies my breeder has right now.  They are sired by BISS Am. GCh / Can Ch / U-CH / Int. Ch Lyndobe's Turn On Da Charm CGC WAC, out of a bitch I co-own (J'Adore) - they are six weeks old in these photos!
Pink Girl

Purple Girl

Christmas Girl, Green Boy, Purple Girl

Blue Boy, Purple Girl

Pink Girl, Christmas Girl

Red Boy

Blue Boy, Red Girl

Blue Boy, Red Girl

Pink Girl

Pink Girl

Christmas Boy, Christmas Girl, Purple Girl

Purple Girl and siblings

Pink Girl, Cyclone Boy

Christmas Boy, Christmas Girl, Red Girl, and siblings!

Purple Girl, Christmas Boy, Pink Girl

Cyclone Boy (he loved me!)

Pink Girl

Blue Boy, Green Boy

Christmas Girl

Green Boy

Red Girl

Red Girl

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Captain Frugal: Rules

I had some time today to formulate a list of rules for finances this year. In an effort to manage money better, rules need to be put in place.  Mostly common sense, but it's good to have them written down anyway.

1. If it's not broke, don't replace it. 
It is tempting to buy new items to replace items that have been around for awhile. New is fun, old is dull... at least, it's easy to think that.

2. Stock up on staples when they're on sale, but don't go overboard.
Buying meat and freezing it when it's on sale is a great idea. Buying ten bottles of soap because it's on sale is perhaps not a great idea. I will stock up on food, but probably not on things that last a long time - like laundry detergent.

3. Don't need it? Sell it.
We have a TV that we don't need.  It's going up on Craigslist this weekend.  I have dog items I don't need.  They're up for sale on Facebook.  If I don't use it, it's disappearing from the house.  I'm sick of extra stuff taking up space in my small house.

4.  Don't buy products for their packaging.
I have a degree in graphic design, so I understand how the Packaging Beast works. There are designers paid vast sums of money to design attractive packaging, in an effort to make people buy stuff they don't need... or at least pay more than they should.  I'm a sucker for good packaging, which is why trips to Target are very dangerous.  From now on, I'm going to fight the urge to buy something just because its wrapper is aesthetically pleasing.

5. If you weren't planning on buying it in the first place, it's not a true deal.
Don't buy stuff you don't need and/or won't use. Even if an item is on sale at an incredible price, if I don't need that item... I won't buy it.

I also saw a blog by a woman who is planning on spending no money on her child for one year, outside of medial expenses. I'd like to try that with my dogs this year.  Outside of vet bills, food, entry fees and training fees, I'd like to put the kibosh on the "pet consumerism" that has probably sucked away more of my income than I care to think about. That means no new collars, no new leashes, no new toys, no new crates or crate pads.  Nothing extra for their birthdays, nothing extra when they get new titles.  They're dogs - they won't know if they don't get a Christmas present.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Love Dog Breeders

... responsible ones, that is.

There's a group on Facebook whose name is basically the opposite of this blog post's title. It's frustrating, because it has a ton of support from individuals that are so brainwashed into thinking every breeder is the antichrist that they have lost all concept of reality.  I scroll through occasionally, just to see what they're saying about those of us who breed.

Today, I noticed a graphic on their page that was titled, "Just a few reasons why we hate breeding."  Below the title was a collection of photos of pregnant bitches, dogs in shelters, and dams in distress. Under the photos, the graphic read, "Don't support this cruelty, rescue your next dog!"

I looked over at my Kaylee, and thought, "Geez, if this is what a cruelty case looks like, I shudder to think about what they'd call a dog that isn't curled up at my side, wrapped in pajamas and snoozing after a fine raw meal."

Kaylee is apparently a tortured dog.  She had a litter.  But she looks nothing like the dogs in that graphic that vilified dog breeders.  Her teeth are white, her eyes are clear, her coat shines, her nails are short, and her underline is clean and well-tucked.  She's happy and confident.  This is a titled, health tested, beloved dog that has had a litter of puppies.

I know what some of you may be thinking.  You may be thinking I'm trying to fool you... that this photo was taken before her litter.  You're welcome to think that, I suppose, but the truth is that this photo is legit. She looks so good because we took care of her throughout her pregnancy, motherhood, and post-weaning.  She also has good genetics to thank for how well she "bounced back" from having puppies. 

But wait - she must have been dirty and sad when she actually was with her puppies, right?  Wrong. 

Wow, would you look at that.... clean whelping box, shiny coat, healthy puppies, happy mom. 

A few weeks later, everybody was old enough to enjoy some playtime and snoozing in the fresh springtime air.  Again, a clean environment - and mom and puppies were happy, healthy, and shiny.

I know, I know - what about after the puppies were weaned and went to their new homes?  I bet Kaylee looked saggy and terrible, right?  Wrong.  Here's a photo from the day after I brought her home for her co-owner's house, after the last puppy had gone home.  She looks pretty good for being a mom to six 10-week old puppies.

As you can see, Kaylee doesn't fit the profile of the sad, tortured brood bitch that so many anti-breeding fanatics love to paint, but I am not denying that some dog mamas do look terrible.  But there's a reason for that.  And that reason is... responsible breeders are different.

Responsible breeders love their dogs.  They love their breed, and want to do their very best to preserve it so future generations of human beings can love the breed as well. They understand the problems their breed faces, and work tirelessly to make those problems go away. But this love isn't just for the breed ideal... it's love for each and every dog they bring into this world.  Responsible breeders care about their bitches.  They don't want them to suffer, so they go to great lengths that the bitch they loved pre-whelp is just as happy and healthy, post-whelp.

The whelping box wasn't the "end of the line" for Kaylee, as many anti-breeding fanatics would like you to think. Since her litter, she has gone on to earn titles in Rally, Obedience, and Coursing Ability. She went back to the conformation ring and brought home even more rosettes to be proudly displayed on the wall. Most importantly, after her litter Kaylee continued to be a beloved pet and family member.

Yes, I know the names of her puppies.  Yes, I know who owns them and where they live.  Yes, I talk to her puppy owners often. Yes, it makes my day when I get new photos of them enjoying life with their new families.

But you know, I also love seeing updates from people who have adopted my foster dogs.  Yes, that's right - I also foster for rescue. I do my part in picking up the mess that bad breeders leave behind.  That mess - that ugly, disappointing, depressing mess - is what I think the anti-breeder folks see most often, and therefore assume is how we all operate.

Here are two years' worth of my efforts to clean up the mess of others:

This is Bernie.  He lives in Indiana now, and gets to go for rides with his new owner in a big fancy pickup.

This is Diablo.  He was renamed Buddy, and he has two human sisters that love him very much.

This is Allicyn.  She has a great new home, and has her own Facebook page.

This is Ned. He lives with his red DoberBrother, and we get photo updates from them all the time.

This... is Katie. She spent 11 years sitting in a shelter before our rescue group discovered her and pulled her.  She died, having never found a forever home but she did have a great last few months here, with me.

This is Tucker. His leg is fixed now.

This is Riley.  Her new name is Teagan, and has a DoberBrother and a few feline siblings.

This is Claire. She lives with Yorkies now, and her owner loves her very much.

This is Hugo.  We weren't able to fix what others had done to mess him up. 

This is Princess.  Even though she was old and arthritic, her breeders found out she was in rescue and took her back - no questions asked.

This is Selma.  She came a long way from Afghanistan, only to find herself in rescue.  She's still here, but hopefully she'll have a forever home before February.

I haven't included photos of the dogs I've transported for rescue.  I haven't included photos of my two shelter cats, or one of my own dogs I rescued from Mexico.  I can't take a photo of the miles I've put on my vehicles for my work in rescue, and I can't take a photo of the time I've spent caring for these dogs whose breeders didn't care at all.

But I still love responsible dog breeders.  I will still own responsibly-bred dogs. Not one of the dogs above came from a good breeder, save for Princess.... and her breeder took her back.  And that right there is the reason why responsible breeders need to be celebrated, not condemned. Because responsible breeders do all that they can to ensure they're not part of the problem.  They dedicate their lives and their livelihoods to improving and preserving their breeds.  Because without good breeders... all we have left are the bad breeders.  And that's not good news for any of us.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Captain Frugal, An Introduction

Yeah, yeah, we were all hit hard with the latest tax hikes. My friend Jess has outlined on her blog things she's doing to make this year better for her from a financial standpoint. I need to do the same.  I'm not broke, but you won't see me taking a bath in a tub full of $20 bills anytime soon.

Let's be honest, we all have things in our lives that we spend too much money on. My biggest "problem area" is miscellaneous crap for the dogs. I don't spend money on treats anymore, but I do spend too much money on stupid stuff like collars and leashes, and tools I think I need to make me a better trainer. That needs to stop.

I also tend to be a "what the hecker" when I go shopping at the big box stores.  I go in for ziploc bags and toothpaste, and end up leaving with bath mats and pear-scented handsoap. Fluffy blanket?  What the heck, might as well! It's not like I have any blankets at home!  (Come home, add new fluffy blanket to pile of my 53 other fluffy blankets.)

My approach to tracking my spending will come in February.  Next month, I will blog everything I spend money on.  No, I'm not going to tell you how much I paid on my Sears card, or how much I paid to my mortgage company, but it'll be some thing like this:
$34 - fuel
$5 - building fee for Schuzhund
$165 - paid some bills
$100 - DMOTC annual dues

That's what I spent today, in case you were wondering. And yeah, this will be an interesting experiment. It'll help me figure out where my biggest money sucks lie, and also it'll be interesting to see which purchases are embarrassing to admit.  I'll be really descriptive with some entries, and probably less descriptive with others. But rest assured, by the end of February you'll probably know how much I sink into my mortgage, and how much I pay in student loans. And hopefully, having to 'fess up my spending habits will make me less likely to buy those fluffy blankets.

And on a completely unrelated note, here's a picture of Jack Hanna with a baby snow leopard that he brought to my office last year.  :)

Hodgepodge 13.0

Work Quirks
My work laptop is kind of finicky. Every day, the Windows taskbar shrinks to the point where I can't see it, so I always have to unlock the taskbar, drag it into place again, then re-lock. When I do this, I sing to myself.  "Lock the taskbar" sounds an awful lot like "rock the Casbah" .... just saying.

Birds and Bees
The birds are back. Well, some of the birds are back. I don't know what this means, but I like it.  I also like that there are no bees yet.

Sleep Driving
I've had this dream-sensation before, and it's never enjoyable.  I dream that I'm driving somewhere at night, but that I'm really tired - can barely keep my eyes open - and for some reason my headlights don't work very well.  In this dream I just drive around for hours, barely being able to see the road but apparently unwilling to pull over and take a nap.  I wake up quite stressed.

Can I give up paleo for Lent?
For the record, I am not Catholic. But Cadbury Mini Eggs are hitting the shelves already, and I really want to eat Mini Eggs morning, noon, and night until they are pulled off the shelves again after Easter.  For real.

My vehicle smells like the beach!
I hate the smell of normal car air-fresheners.  Solution: Place your favorite Scentsy Scent Pak on the defroster vent up by your windshield. As you defrost your windshield (or just heat your car up) - the warm air diffuses the delicious Scentsy scent and your car instantly smells amazing. Your car could smell like one of these scents!

The healing powers of Coca-Cola
I don't drink soda anymore, except for once in a blue moon when I get a migraine. For some reason, the only thing that cures my migraines is a bottle of coke, so cold that it has actually begun to freeze. No other soda (or caffeine beverage, for that matter) works.  All I can say is that my 30-hour migraine is finally starting to subside, thanks to this bottle of tooth-rottingly disgusting corn-syrup water I've been nursing for the past fifteen minutes.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

24.6 Cubic Feet of Meat

... what a sweet, sweet sight it is.

Beef mix, chicken necks, chicken backs, chicken grind, chicken feet, elk liver, beef liver, pork kidneys, muskrats, deer hearts, deer lungs, deer ribs. 

Upstairs I have pork liver, beef pancreas, more deer hearts, more elk liver, more beef mix, more chicken grind, more chicken necks.  We're good for awhile!

This is the story of our third major beef run. Today, Aryn and I learned how much beef you can fit in the bed of a shortbox Chevrolet 1500 Silverado... 53 boxes.  1,590 pounds.  I also learned that lifting 1,590 pounds of meat four times is one hell of a workout. (I guess that equals 212 reps of lifting 30lb weights, in the bitter cold, without a hat or gloves. Standing in the back of a pickup truck.  Hardcore!)

We're getting better at this. It's down to a science, folks. We left at 4:00 am, and got back to town at 5:38 pm. It only took us 11 minutes to hand out everyone's orders at the drop-off location.  That is 800+ miles of driving, plus potty and refueling breaks, plus the actual handling of said 1,590 pounds of dead cow... in less than 14 hours.  We. Are. Good.

Nothing too major happened on the trip. Somehow we ended up listening to a Mexican radio station, then switched over to pop stations and heard Justin Bieber's "Beauty and a Beat" song way too many times. We also successfully managed to go the entire day without cheating on the paleo diet, which is huge because usually we end up caving and eating toxic food because we're simply too tired to fight temptation. Thirteen hours in a car plus sleep deprivation is basically a recipe for poor eating habits.

It was more complicated this time. The supplier lost Aryn's order, so we had to wait around for them to put it together last-minute. We ordered three different formulas in three different size increments, which made organization of the load practically impossible. Everyone was in a hurry. The four boxes that we needed to have easily accessible ended up being shoved in the far back of the truck bed, which caused a 15-minute meat-searching ordeal just outside Platteville.


"We have more meat in our bed than you have in yours!" 

"I really need to take a crash-course in Spanish..." 

"Let me pull out my math and do some calculations..."  

"Shut up! We all have deficiencies in some form or another... mine happens to be in telling left from right!" 

"Why doesn't the drivers side have an Oh Shit handle?  Is this Chevy's way of saying the man needs to drive the big truck, and his little woman has to sit in the passenger seat?  I'm gonna write them a letter!"

"Shit, I knew I should have cooked more bacon!"


That's all I've got.  I think it's time for painkillers and sleep. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stress Cleaning

When I'm stressed, I clean.

Like everyone else in this country, my income taxes increased effective January 1, 2013. A friend of mine (who makes less than me, annually) mentioned that she's getting roughly $70 per month less on her paycheck now, which is really scary. With increased income taxes, increased health insurance costs, and increased contributions to my health savings account... it's a fair assumption that I'm a wee bit stressed.  I get to find out tomorrow how screwed I really am.

So I did some cleaning tonight. I discovered a few things:

1. Steve has been hiding empty soda bottles behind the sofa.  He's in deep doo-doo when he gets home.
2. There were fourteen socks behind the sofa as well.  None were mine.
3. There's no reason for me to buy toys for my dogs - they just end up under the sofa.
4. I really need to figure out how to decrease the amount of dust in the house. Suggestions?
5. NPR thinks ten minutes of foghorns blaring is considered 'music.'  Fortunately, they made up for it with 10 minutes of The Ramones. (Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to goooo, I wanna be sedated!)

I feel a bit better, now that I've dusted, vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen and lugged an entire trash bag of dog hair, ratty toys, and miscellaneous sofa-bunnies to the trash. But the fact remains that I think it's going to be bleak this year, financially.  So I've made yet another goal for 2013... to practice frugality.  I may have to go off paleo a bit, but only by adding things like beans and potatoes (in moderation) back into my diet in order to make my food budget last a bit longer.

Over the next few weeks, I will assess my lifestyle habits and see where I can cut corners. Do I really need $4/bottle organic handsoap? Probably not.  (Though it does smell fantastic... mmm, honeysuckle...)

A big change this year will be with my addiction to dog junk. No more dog junk. Aside from an $18 rag replacement for the dogs' flirtpole, there's nothing they really need. No more collars, no more tags, no more coats.  No more blankets. No more beds. They're probably better accessorized than 99% of their peers already, so anything more than what we already have is most definitely overkill. Heck, I may even try to sell a bunch of their stuff.

I think I just need to do better.  At everything.  I know it's easier said than done, but I really am happiest when I'm not disappointed in myself.

At this point... I think I've de-stressed enough that I'll be able to fall asleep.  I've done another few loads of laundry, and started a load of dishes. The house isn't completely clean yet, but it's getting there.  It's good enough that I won't feel terrible when I come home Saturday night from 14 hours of driving and raw meat obtainage.

I'll end this with a photo of Revy, because she's the main "dog hair culprit" and I've decided I'm going to bathe and brush her more often in an effort to cut down on the mountains of dog hair that have been accumulating in the house.  Sorry, kiddo.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

To Do List, 2013 Edition

I really hate doing this... it seems like I always end up making plans and then not accomplishing them.  But I'm doing it anyway.  Here are my plans and goals for 2013.

I am definitely going to....
... be the Trial Chair for the DMOTC summer trial.
... go to more lure coursing trials, CATs, and LGRA events.
... be the official photographer for IPO Regionals in September.
... volunteer more for DMOTC.  I know, I'm stupid.
... take a break from fostering, sorry.

I am really going to try to...
... make it to as many Schutzhund/IPO training sessions and seminars as possible.
... volunteer to assist more classes at DMOTC.
... remember to wax the Element when the weather warms up.
... stick to paleo as best I can, and not fall off the wagon.
... get a few 5k races in during the summer and fall.
... try to get over my phobia of doctors.
... learn a new skill.  I have no idea what skill though, so I'm open to suggestions.
... see my extended family this summer.
... save more money, eliminate debt.
...stay active.

I sincerely hope I can...
... drive to California with Jess in September.
... get a BH on Kaylee and/or Jayne in September.
... get a CAA title on Kaylee.
... get Jayne's CGC and TDI.
... start Jayne in lure coursing.
... get the backyard hardscaped.

Random Tallahassee photo.