I'm SO SORRY to be NEARLY A WEEK LATE on my TMT…but I'm in the middle of a few projects out at my sprawling estate in Greenleaf Valley. When I say 'middle'…I mean in the center of my little house, where the bathroom USED to be, is now a large ugly wound…plus a tub that only time will heal. When I say 'I'm', I mean I'm the one who doesn't have plumbing and will have to pay to change that. Men are actually doing the work. Hopefully. I had planned to pay them in beer and jokes, but it's looking like if I really care about the advances my speciies has made in pooping and bathing technology…I'm going to have to fork over some cash. Although beer and jokes DID work on the Craigs List dude who came and hauled my 1950's 16 foot mouse and wasp habitat away last Saturday. This took all day and I'm sure he broke several transportation and health code laws…but thank god the guy loved his cheap canned beer. And a joke.

Anyway, though my free time and hygeine has been compromised, things are going great, especially as far as my dogs are concerned. That room never made sense to any of them.

SO, The Questions:

1. What is the one thing that you view as your biggest training or handling challenge and how do you think you can overcome it?

2. Name ONE run (agility, herding, etc) from someone else that inspired you and why?

3. Name some examples of how your dogs have manipulated you.

4. Steffi is looking for dog treat recipes! – I'm tired of hearing about all these dog food/treat recalls so we've started making a lot of our own dog treats. I really need a recipe for low calorie, light colored treats that my dogs can see easily in the grass when we are training distance skills. I've been using popcorn for that but am looking for some variety!

5. One thing – not related to dogs – that you would like to do that you have not done

My Answers:

1) My biggest training/handling challenge is my inability to instantly absorb and respond to several things at once. Lead sheep, pressure, subtle movement that will have profound effects at just the right time. It's the subtlety that refines a handler and I still totally lack. I'm getting the basic mechanics, but I still suck at the subtlety. Only time will help me overcome this. Time and indoor plumbing.

2) I know I answered this with Patrick and Andi at Lacamas a few years ago when she didn't have a 'Look Back' and he ended up in the double lift with her, unexpectedly. Another inspirational run was when Derek dressed in his hawaiin tiny boy's speedo, with the mini-ukelali, and layed down a smoking run at Palm Cottage while an equally tiny small minded minority huffled and sniveled about him breaking some sort of USBCHA dress code and tried to get the judge to DQ him. It was hilarious and inspirational that humor won out. This sport…we aren't saving lives. We aren't raising the standard of living for impoverished 3rd world countries. This is entertainment. You can take yourself seriously, if you want, but you should be aware that if you fall, we will laugh. Because 3 days from now, no one gives a historical shit what happens at that post except, maybe, you.

3) Here's a really gross one! The other day I was hiking across cow country and Jai found herself a nice fresh steamy pile to sample. It was like her third or forth on this particular walk and I was SICK of her EATING SHIT…I knew that later, when we returned home, she'd be all up in my face kissing me. So I screech at her and call her away …she is very reluctant as this particlular pile, smack dab in the MIDDLE of the trail…is especially fresh and yummy. I prevail and we continue for a mile or so before impending darkness forces us to turn around. As we approach that same fresh pie, Jai slows way down. She lets me pass her. Sniffing at things, taking her time.  Stalling. She stops about 10 feet shy of said pie, waiting for me to pass it. I turn around and call her and she advances only slightly, not wanting to pass the pie. She walks really slowly, obviously hoping I will just continue on and she can go about her slimy green business. She is NOT going to pass the pie.  She and I have this small struggle of wills before I finally force her to come to me: DO NOT STOP AT PIE, DO NOT COLLECT SAMPLE.

She was visibly disappointed. She wagged, but she didn't mean it. She turned around one last time and looked back. If she had thumbs and longer legs I would have had to hide my car keys that night.

4) I don't have any recipes ….but Jai thinks cows bake up some pretty good pasture pastry.

5) Bathe. That's just today, though. Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll be back to thinking longer term. Then maybe I'd like to take a road trip across country and finish a writing project.