Sunday, May 31, 2009

So Much to do...So Little Time

I have been MIA the past several days. So much has been going on and very little time to update the blog.

We haven't been herding or doing anything else special other than running the dogs in the evenings on the river.

Had a bit of a fright with the dogs two days in a row...somehow the dogs have been escaping our securely fenced yard - for the first time in three years. Yesterday our neighbor put them back in the yard. When he got home Beth greeted him at the door of his truck with a ball. None of the dogs had left our yard and were all hanging out on the grass. Bless his heart, he played with them for a while then put them back in the yard.

Today when I got home from the nursing home my son told me he found them playing with neighbor kids down the street.

One of our gates keeps getting opened. There isn't anything wrong with it, the latch is good, the wood is secure and there is no explanation as to why. I am very suspicious and have some sleuthing to do...

John's mother has been hanging on and has moved onto the 'actively dying' stage. It is only a matter of hours.

I am praying for peace and strength for my husband & family.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Honey the Bear

Honey (bottom front) this trusting teddy is 8" tall, has Plastic Pellets, Simulated Mohair, Suede Paw Pads, French Embroidery Thread and Wobble Joints.

Honey was perched on our fireplace mantle, well out of the dogs reach - or so we thought.

Sweet trusting Honey is no more...

This afternoon I found Honey's face staring up at me from between blades of grass...her small disembodied teddy bear head was recently liberated after making her long arduous journey through Ranger

No other evidence of her demise remains...obstruction mystery solved.

RIP Honey

(NOTE: the size of Honey's head was mere 1 inch diameter. Not to big...just the right size to get stuck yet still make it out...some other body parts emerged this evening on the kitchen floor - much to Ranger's dismay - poor guy had a sneak attack of, well you know.... Slowly but surely Honey is being returned to us...*sigh* ewwwww)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ranger is Home

Yeah! He is home!

Ranger was holding food and water down so he was discharged. He still has diarrhea. Hopefully that will pass soon (no pun intended). He still isn't 100%. Ranger remains lethargic and uncomfortable - although he is darn happy to be out of the hospital. He has been glued to my side like a insecure boyfriend since we got home.

Now the waiting to see if the obstruction finally makes its way out. Meaning I am on poop patrol! Joy...I can smell it now *sigh* late night hopping around the backyard (in my nightgown) with a flashlight - trying to find whatever it is this time that caused Ranger's discomfort.

Sure beats surgery, that is for sure!

Keep your fingers crossed the obstruction passes on its own and doesn't block him up again!

Random thought just passed through my maladjusted brain. I don't remember being as fascinated with poop with my children as I am with my dogs.

When changing my kids diapers - it was a quick glance at the color (Green poop? Oh yeah he ate green jello last night) to verify things were normal and quickly toss the evidence in the garbage.

I never would have poked at it with a stick to look for worms, odd swallowed objects or to verify if their food is being digested.

Errr..well other than the time Zach decided to eat three dimes and a nickle on a dare from his older (wiser?) sister - after the x-rays we were watching his excrement closely to verify he returned the proper amount of change. Then there was Jake with the pin worms - ewwww ...Never mind...I take everything I just wrote back.

Kids and dogs...Dogs and Kids. Oh so close by so far away.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ranger & MIL Update

The vet called with an update. They are continuing Ranger on IV fluids & pain meds. He seems to be doing better. He drank small amounts during the night and they observed no vomiting. This morning they offered him bland food which he ate..albeit slowly. Now they are watching him to see if he will vomit the food. Then the watch to see if he passes anything in his stool.

If he holds the food down and doesn't vomit again today then he should be able to come home this evening.

So it is just a waiting game now...

On a good note: Johns mother is doing better. She is talking again and seems to have perked up a bit. Enough to be complaining to the nurses about a myriad of things. YEAH! Considering she was completely unresponsive the day before yesterday - this is a GOOD THING!

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and well wishes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ranger is Sick - A Very Bad Day

Ranger has a tendency to eat things he shouldn't, like National Geographic magazines, socks, towels or stuffed animals - which is why we have to be VERY careful about things we leave out. Ranger will eat them...and inevitably things get stuck. Many trips to the vet later it usually passes.

Thursday night Ranger started vomiting. Given the fact he does this frequently I didn't worry until he continued vomiting Friday well into the day. Friday evening he refused to eat his dinner, had quit drinking & was obviously in pain. We took him into the emergency hospital at 10PM.

They did x-rays and saw his stomach & upper GI was empty but did not see a pattern to suggest he had a blockage. He was not running any type of a fever. Other than being slightly dehydrated we chose to bring him home and give him Carafate for nausea and pepcid for acid. They gave him a pain killing injection to ease any pain he may be in. Our hope were that what ever he has blocking him up would pass on its own - which has worked in the past.

This morning he drank a lot of water but was not interested in his food. I went herding at Fido's. John stayed with Ranger. When I got home Ranger was completely lethargic. He doesn't want to get up or even move.

We are going back to the vet this afternoon. Our appt is at 3:20.

I am worried sick. My poor husband is at his wits end. He just found out this morning his 84 y/o mother (who has been in a nursing home for years due to Parkinsons) is in the ICU is dying and hospice is being called in. She has maybe a week - 10 days left.

Sometimes things just suck...Please say a couple of quick prayers for our Family and Ranger...thanks.

Update: When we got to the vet Ranger wouldn't walk. I had to carry him in the door and to the room. He was clearly 'out of it'. Ranger has been admitted for IV fluids & observation. They ran another set of xrays and dd not see anything clearly indicating a blockage - but the vet was quick to point out that fabric or cloth won't show on an xray and it can still be working it's way through. He also doesn't seem to have any abdominal tenderness when palpated by the vet.

The CBC and Chem panel were unremarkable other than some liver enzymes that are slightly elevated everything else is WNL. His WBC is normal, RBC is a bit high but that can come with dehydration, Na (sodium) was low also indicating dehydration. No signs of infection or pacreatitis either.

So the sum of it...we have to wait and see. If he isn't improving by tomorrow we are going to consider an ultrasound. They are going to do the barium study as a last resort, because if they do have to do surgery they do not want to have to deal with barium in the intestines - makes for a bit of a complication they would rather avoid.

All I can think of right now...Thank G_d for Visa and low interest rates.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Aspiring Loser

I am fat.

No more hiding it with control top pantyhose or good ole fashioned elastic 'suck-em-in' undies. When your upper arms are almost as big as your waist - that should be a reality check. When your tummy sticks out further than the 'girls'- whoa Nelly, time to see Jenny Craig.

Reality came home to roost the other night when we were out with the dogs.

John, my lovely thinner husband (I hate him & his metabolism) was snapping pictures. As usual I kept shrieking in my fishwife tone "DON'T GET ME IN THE PICTURE!" I hate my picture being taken, it is like being slapped in the face with an old smelly shoe - distastefully unpleasant.

The next day when I was reviewing the pictures that were taken, looking for good ones of the dogs....I found this

My husband clearly was not listening to the shrieking about not getting me in the shots. Either he is a terrible photographer or he was trying to send me a message (that he will pay for later). What other purpose is there for these pictures?

Beyond displaying my questionable fashion choices?

He doesn't know it yet, but he is a dead man.

I look like the Michelin Tire Man with boobs


This isn't a surprise. I am not completely blind and we have mirrors in the house.

How did this happen? I quit smoking last year (viola - 50 lb gain). Stress in my life is triggering some out of control emotional eating (I can blame another 50 lbs on that). Since I became unemployed - woohooo slap another 25 lbs on my hips.

Bottom line (ahem, correction: very LARGE bottom-line) - this happened because I have shoved more calories in my mouth than my body has burned. WOOHOO! Light bulb moment there huh? 'Doh!

The perplexing thing is... something about being heavy has been emotionally working for me to this point. Why else would I have allowed this to happen?

I need to lose an entire person. Sweet...maybe I feel like I dont have enough friends, so I haul one around with me every day? WTF kind of thinking is that?

It makes me think of that Oprah Winfrey episode after she lost all her weight (the first time) and she hauled that huge wagon full of fat onto the stage.

Every time I climb out of bed, go for a walk, get out of my chair...anything - I am schlepping all of that with me.

The reality is, how can I train my dogs adequately when I am so fat I can barely bend over to tie my shoes?

--I need the energy to chase them around the field.

--I need to know that if I fall I can get back up again (important in fields full of manure)

--I want to walk without pain (arthritis & plantar fasciitis can bite my overly large butt)

--I really want to see the tops of my thighs again (other than in a mirror)

--I don't want to feel disabled by my weight (airplanes are the WORST!)

--I want to wear cute rain gear - not the extra large size roofing tarp I wore this winter

--I want to feel good about myself (I never really have....ever).

--I want to live a nice long life.

How am I going to accomplish this? Egads.... (insert panic attack here). I have NEVER been on a diet in my life. I also have never joined any type of fitness club. Just going into those places was like sticking my hand in boiling water - stupid & incredibly painful.

I know I need more exercise in a safe nurturing environment - preferably without men present.

So... this morning I joined 'Curves'. I have committed myself to going three days a week. Curves is only 1.5 miles from my house & very easy to get to. I also signed up for a weight loss program and the first class is next Saturday

Today I went shopping for good sensible food. Tomorrow I clean out the pantry and fridge and make out the menu for the next week.

I am making baby steps that hopefully will some day enable me to run ... because if I tried to run now I would kill myself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Every Light in the House is On

This morning when I was slicing cheese up for breakfast the kitchen lights were being turned on, then off, then on, then off...


This is why...or should I say, this is WHO

I train the dogs with string cheese. Ranger LOVES cheese. Since I was having extra sharp cheddar cheese for breakfast & Ranger really wanted some of it....he started offering a behavior I have been teaching him.

Turning light switches on and off.

I felt like I was making breakfast in a strobe light.

How did I create this light switch maniac?

We started with basic targeting on a post-it note in my hand. Then I put the post-it note on the wall and clicked and treated him when he targeted it.

Slowly I moved it to the light switch.

After a little bit I started switching the light switch on and off but kept the post it note stuck to the light switch. With well timed clicks and rewards he figured out quickly what I wanted.

When he would flip the switch up I would make a HUGE deal out of it! JACKPOT! He got MEGA cheese and lots of praise. Then I stopped treating him for just the target on the paper and only rewarded him for actually moving the switch.

After I was sure he understood it was the action of flipping the switch he was being rewarded for we moved to different switches repeating it & associating it firmly with the words "Light ON"

I made sure to change the approach to the light switch. For example, the kitchen switch is located over the edge of the counter, so he had to approach it from the side, rather than head on. This helped to generalize the behavior - so he knew it wasn't the approach, or jumping on the wall, it was moving the switch that I wanted.

To get him to turn the light off I put the cheese on the switch so he had to mouth the switch, then when the switch went down I clicked it and rewarded again, saying "light off" at the right moment.

Ranger has grasped the switch in his mouth and is moving it down.

When I knew he firmly understood the action that he was being rewarded for was moving the switch and not targeting the post-it note - I removed the post-it note from all the light switches completely.

Then I moved further and further away from the switch, and he had to start finding the light switch in the room on his own.

Lets see the whole thing!

The light is off

Ranger switches the light on by pressing up with his nose

YEAH! The light is on! Good boy Ranger!

Now Ranger turns the light off, but pulling it gently down with his mouth.

AWESOME RANGER! The light is off!

Ranger is very proud of himself!

Now I have this song stuck in my head...

Trace Adkins - Every Light in the House is On

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bathroom Woes

My dogs act like naughty children when I leave the room. Brynn has been learning their nefarious ways.

There are small windows in my day where I need to leave the room and go to the loo. Most days it looks like this...

Do you have this problem too?

Apparently they are afraid I will disappear, sucked down by loo by the Porcelain God of TP never to be seen again.

Reminds me of when my kids were little and I would dare to close the door to the bathroom for a few moments of 'me time'. After a few short minutes I would see their chubby little fingers poking under the door and hear their pathetic wails of "Mommy are you ever coming out?"

Thankfully, if they were at the door annoying you - they were safe. It is periods of complete silence when you need to worry.

Like the time I took a shower assuming my husband was watching our boys. When I got out of the shower I opened the door and peered down the hall, listening for any signs of trouble. Then I see dad sound asleep on the couch and the house was completely silent. (What is wrong with men anyway?) I shrieked at him "WHERE ARE THE BOYS?!?!" He replied with "Dont know, I'm sleeping" (reason #367 why he is now my ex-idiot).

My built in Mommy Radar was pinging loudly warning me the boys were out of range. Crap! Given the lack of any noise (beyond my ex-husband's snoring) I knew they were not even in the house! Double Crap! So I went racing down the hall buck naked, dripping water, trailing a towel behind me, determined to find my two and four year old sons.

Lo and Behold - I found them. Dancing in a mud puddle in the street. One wearing nothing but a diaper sporting a pink bicycle helmet on his head. The other bare-arse naked (like me) waving his sister's Barbie umbrella around like Mary Poppins on crack. Complete unbridled joy on their faces.

We lived in Army housing on Fort Lewis so they were relatively safe in the street, not like they were playing on the freeway, but still worrisome.

My neighbor had just gotten off duty. He was still sitting in his car - parked in the driveway across the street. I waved to him and pointed at the boys, gesturing wildly, hoping he would round them up and bring them to the house. He was laughing so hard I could see the car shaking. I knew he was going to be no help.

So I wrapped the towel around me, then pranced into the street where I grabbed one boy in each hand. Half way up the driveway my towel fell off. Behind me I heard the gales of laughter erupting from the car. I kept walking with as much dignity as I could summon right in the door. I left the towel where it fell.

My neighbor never let me forget it...I was so relieved when they moved to Kansas.

Then there was the time I found the boys getting ready to jump off the roof of the garage with bed sheets - thinking they would work like parachutes.

Gawd, how did I live this long without having a heart attack?

I digress...

Like my kids the dogs get into mischief if I close the door. Pernicious little brats.

Yesterday was no different.

Right before I flushed I heard things being moved around on my desk, then water splashing...followed by the sound of objects falling on the floor.

I quickly wrapped up my business and ran to my office.

And saw Brynn on my painting table, her face in my brush rinse bucket, which was now empty - because it was splashed all over the desk.

Obviously Brynn learned how to jump on my desk. She hops on the chair, then hops on the computer desk and walks right over to my sewing table where I have been keeping the toys I am mending.

She helped herself to a few of her favorites and then made herself comfortable on one of the sketches for a design I am working on.

Sure Brynn, no problem, I don't mind your wet paws & slobber all over my sketch.

How can you get angry at this face?

"Oh hiya mom, I'z so kute"

Oh yeah Brynn, thank goodness you are too cute to strangle, now that I see the brushes you were chewing on.


I just had to have border collies. Are five kids in this family not enough misery for a lifetime?

But you have got to love 'em too

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Parents, SDT and Mother's Day

Last weekend for Mother's Day we dragged my parents along to the 'On the River' SDT in Acme, WA. This trial was a 3 hour drive north for us from our home in Orting, WA. My parents live in Everson just a hop skip and fart away from Acme.

Doesn't my father look pleased to be there?

Actually, he always looks like that. (Just kidding Dad, you do smile... occasionally). He may look grumpy but it is mostly bluster, all animals love him and his horses are the most spoiled equines on the face of this planet.

My dad has been helping PNW Border Collie Rescue out by doing home visit evaluations in Whatcom County (The most northwest county in the continental US). I really shouldn't pick on him too much...I come by my evil streak honestly, he will pay me back in kind.

Now that I have plastered my father's face all over the Internet it is my mother's turn!

This is my mom!

Let me clarify that a smidgen. My mother is holding the leash. The adorable dog in the picture is Shadow, the little Prince of Everson. I have mother to thank for my premature silver hair (which I am trying to grow out & presently look like a skunk with a white streak down the middle of my head).

Why didn't I plaster my mom's face all over the Internet? Because she scares me. She always has knitting needles near by and she isn't afraid to use them. Trust me, I know this.

Not only do I have my mother to thank for grey hair but she gave me my artistic & design abilities. My mom is a woolaholic and responsible for my bizarre addiction to sheep (that is a story for another day).

I have a very hard time thinking of a memory where Mom is not knitting. She teaches knitting and designs knitting patterns for Silver Creek Classics. Here is a link to a few of her designs. Two of the pictures on this page feature my oldest daughter Amy when she was approximately 10 years old (she is 21 now).

This is Amy now!

...with me and my mother. Uh oh...the knitting needles are going to get me now!

Wow, that was a big swerve down crazy lane. Let me get back on track now...

Both of my parents have visited my brother who lives with his family in Derbyshire, UK. While there they had the pleasure of seeing border collies racing around the hills tending their flocks of sheep. This was their first time seeing a sheep dog trial in the US.

At the trial we were happy to see Diane Pagel with her Lucy.

It wasn't until Lucy was close to Bonnie that Diane observed they were darn near mirror images of each other.

Bonnie is black and white with speckles & Lucy is red and white with speckles!

The speckle twins! Lucy told Bonnie that speckles are special.

The trial was held on near the banks of the South Fork of the Nooksack River in Acme, WA. Acme is a small area with stunning scenery at the foot of Mount Baker. (Yet another one of WA State's active volcanoes).

Jack Knox was the judge & said it was one of the hardest courses he had ever seen. What made it particularly difficult was the length of the grass. The grass was so long the dogs had a hard time spotting the sheep & the handlers seeing their dogs. It was difficult to watch because when the handler would send their dog we would lose sight of it, sometimes not spotting it until the sheep were lifted at the set out.

A shot from the viewing area to the left of the post down field to the set out. The grass is 12 to 18 inches long in spots.

A shot of a handler sending her dog from the post. The dog is leaping up while running, trying to spot sheep above the grass. From watching this I learned sending your dog on this course was a huge test in trust. The dog needed to trust the handler and where they were sending it without question, because many times they were unable to see the sheep at the set out.

It made me realize that I am NO WHERE close to that level of trust with Beth. It is truly humbling the amount of work and training that goes into this. I am in awe when I watch these handlers with their dogs. It is simply amazing to me.

My parents enjoyed the trial. I am not sure why we hauled the chairs out to the field though. No one sat in them. Brynn was the only one who was smart enough to use a chair. She climbed up in this one and got tangled in the strap and didnt care a whit....little goof.

Afterward we went to a fantastic little place called the Blue Mountain Grill in Acme. We ate so much food they needed a wheel barrel to haul us out.

What a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Bonnie

Today is Bonnie's first birthday!

Not very long ago Bonnie looked like this... what a cute little fart!

The day we brought her home August 2, 2008.

That same evening Bonnie realized Ranger was just a little bit different.

Bonnie and Ranger were inseparable from the first. He loved sharing chew time with her

To this day Ranger will let Bonnie take a bone right out his mouth.

He created a bone hoarding monster. She lies in wait, the minute one of the other dogs takes their attention off a bone, Bonnie swoops in and snatches it. Stinker...

A few days after we adopted her I shot this video. Ranger so sweetly was sharing his favorite toy with Bonnie at 3 months.

Bonnie at 4 months.

5 months

Bonnie on sheep at 6 months

Bonnie at 6 months

7 months

Bonnie's first Christmas

At 8 months old we tried her on sheep again. From watching this video I think I can see what Patrick Shanahan meant when he was explaining how 'remedial' obedience may have begun to interfere with her drive. She is trying so hard to behave that it is overriding her urge to herd.

Bonnie at 9 months

10 Months

11 Months

Bonnie at 12 months

I simply adore our little freckled monster.

Happy 1st Birthday Bonnie Boo!