Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Power To Contain

October 31, 2010
Sandy Creek Park, GA

the power to contain
is always as the contents
but give a Giant room
and you will lodge a Giant
and not a smaller man

[Emily Dickinson]

Watch Out For Flying Objects ...

October 30, 2010
Sandy Creek Park, GA

... and pointers!

Working on our frisbee skills which have been grossly neglected. Tessa is getting better catching them mid-air but we are a far cry from being well coordinated. Of course, me throwing the frisbee left-handed while trying to balance and shoot the heavy Nikon D200 in my right hand does not exactly help.

Instructional Plaza

October 22, 2010
Athens, GA

Evening walk across campus.

My Little Thin Mint

October 21, 2010
Athens, GA

Tessa makes herself very thin. Actually, she has regained all the weight she lost in the kennel and is back to her normal 52 lbs.

The Rising

October 17, 2010
Sandy Creek Park


October 16, 2010
Bostwick, GA

On our way back from a successful training day in Jersey, we stopped at the Bostwick gin and came across the abandoned movie set for the remake of the 1984 classic "Footloose" which was filmed here in Bostwick a few days prior. The crews had moved on to Social Circle and beyond but left part of the set behind, and I really liked the ghostly yet festive and somewhat surreal feel it gave to the gin ("Beamis Mill" in the movie), with no one around.

Tessa was a little less excited and was in no mood to dance, and probably just wanted to go back to the bird fields. But no matter, girl's gotta pose on the movie set, for posterity.

End of Training Season

October 16, 2010
Jersey, GA

Today was our last official NAVHDA training day of the year.

I was dreading it a little bit, as we missed last month's, and the one in August consisted of a short and chaotic run in the rain on birds that did not fly. Also, Tessa just spent 3 weeks in an indoor kennel with plenty of playtime but no training at all. Overall, we have not been on top of our game this year, and I did not expect a lot, only to find - much to my surprise - that her steadiness has much improved. She was steady to shot, not quite yet to wing but very easy to handle and re-whoa, and her recalls were snappy, even from a bird pursuit - not only did she come right back but she also positioned herself where she had whoa'd next to me, so I think she is starting to understand what is expected of her. She also had her first "voluntary" honor. I had made her honor a few times during our run, and towards the end of the 2-hour session Paul and I were talking at the edge of the field and when we turned around, Shane was on point in the middle of the field and Tessa was behind him honoring. Both held their positions until we released them. Where this all came from I don't know...maybe after 3 weeks in the kennel she learned that there is worse than not being allowed to chase birds?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Autumn Evenings

October 15, 2010
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Taking advantage of the last two weeks of evening outings to the park.

Throw. The. Ball.

October 13, 2010
Sandy Creek Park, GA

The Fabric Of Our Life

October 10, 2010
Morgan County (GA)


October 9, 2010
Sandy Creek Park, GA

I retrieved Tessa from the kennel yesterday. She was a little off, probably just trying to get her bearings much like I was, I guess, but other than that the same playful and mischievous dog I dropped off three weeks ago. She lost almost 9 lbs which is a lot for her - about 15% of her weight - however, she seems healthy and very energetic. Probably just the stress of the kennel environment, and loss of some muscle mass since she did not get to run free for the entire time.

The kennel, a local vet actually, said she did wonderfully, had a good appetite, no diarrhea, and they thought she was just plain adorable. I had ordered one hour/day of playtime in the day care for her (it's $ 5 per hour) and they said she loved it so much and they loved her so much that she got more than the hour each day. I think trading the off-leash running for more attention and play time was a good call. It's easier to get a dog back into physical shape than trying to fix the mental toll isolation might take on my little social butterfly.

One Last Walk

September 16, 2010
Athens, GA

Routine evening walk in the fading daylight, our last for a while. I would be leaving for Germany the next day, and Tessa was headed for the kennel.

Due to the commotion of preparing for the trip, I forgot that today was the day that my first dog Yogi was born in 1990 - and also the day that she died in 2004. This was the first time I did not commemorate the day in some way or another. Which does not mean that I still miss that dog.

Gone To The Ducks

August 29, 2010
Jersey, GA

Another impromptu training day at the plantation ... any chance we get we go out there. Today we didn't do much, I watched the others work on duck searches, and did some formal obedience with Tessa under the distraction of that kind of setting (fields, ponds, birds, other dogs), followed by a little water work. Here she is showing off her Dokken duck to a seasoned duck decoy

Rained Out

August 21, 2010
[at home]

Our training day out at the plantation was cut way too short by the rain - what can be more depressing? We were off to a good start, Tessa this time on the check cord, and much easier to control than last time. But halfway through our birds the drizzle turned into a steady rain that just would not let off. And then, my friend's dog Shane disappeared. There is something very disheartening about searching for an old dog in the pouring rain and in grass that is hip-high. Big relief when he finally showed up again, happy as a clam!

By then I was completely drenched and water was collecting inside my rain boots, and with no change of clothes on hand I decided to call it a day even though it was only 9 a.m. I drove home with the heater on in my car - indeed I was that chilled. By the time I reached Monroe the rain was so heavy that everyone was going 30 mph. At that point my passenger side windshield wiper came off. Pulled over to fix it, and wouldn't you know it, 5 miles later the driver's side wiper comes off! Huh?

Since my camera is not waterproof there are not photos for today's training day. This was taken at home, all cleaned up and snoozing away after that one hour of hard work!

Where Is Hans?

July 31, 2010
[at home]

Tessa pulling a sad face after Hans, our Swedish friend, left after visiting for a few days.

Partners In Crime

July 17, 2010
Jersey, GA

After we skipped the June training day due to the heat, we managed to go this month. I quickly realized that 2 months is too long of an absence, as Tessa has much regressed. I planted 4 birds and when we took Shane and Tessa out to the field, Shane methodically and with great style found and pointed the first one, and Tessa ran ahead, her wild and crazy self, to the farthest corner of the field, found the last one I planted, pointed it for a moment, definitely not long enough for me to get myself there, then flushed and chased it. ARGH! Thankfully, the bird flew onto the nearest tree and Tessa didn't catch it, but that was almost back to the pre-Junior Hunter level and seeing this right at the beginning of our run was very frustrating.

Overall, she did well with locating the birds in the field but she's not the least bit steady and that is a bad thing. I had her on a 20-ft check cord which of course is useless when Tessa is 150 ahead of me in 10 seconds, so next time there has to be a different approach involving much more restraint. I have to proof her "whoa" before letting her run the field again.

When we left the field though, she was wonderful, I was able to heel her back to the car, and could have her off-leash with her staying close and minding well. In that regard, she has come a very long way. Just a year ago, whenever I unclipped her, she would bolt out of the parking area into the fields in search of birds and would not come back, and it is so nice to be able to relax more about this now.

The soak.

Water work was more play than work. Tessa is nuts about the water, she gets so excited that she whines while swimming which a lot of people find amusing. Her water retrieves were better than usual today. After a while we switched to another pond where there were many live ducks, and let the dogs chase them. Ducks are very fast, and they fly and dive, so there was no danger to the birds, and the dogs had a good workout.

After 4 hours, it started to get hot and Tessa started to get tired. She folded into her crate in a weirdly twisted way and remained in that position all the way home (one hour) - passed out!

The Craggy Gardens

July 6, 2010
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

While waiting for the other folks of our ShipAway group to get going and meet up with us, we thought we better take advantage of the most gorgeous mountain summer weather and took a quick trip up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It turned out to be anything but quick, since there were several road blocks due to construction, with long waits each time. We finally arrived at the Craggy Gardens where we were rewarded by wonderful views in all directions. This was much different from that foggy day in October 2005, when I was here with a different set of friends and a different dog, my late American Bulldog Milka and not a care or worry and health wise, only a few subtle signs that something was amiss, without yet knowing what was about to hit me 5 weeks later. And Milka just one year old with a long life ahead of her, that unfortunately was cut short three years later.

Obviously, we did not have a good view back in 2005. For some reason we thought we may want to go for a hike, but learned at the visitor center that it was hunting season, and that bear hunters are out there with their dogs, and the dogs were said to be very ornery, and we didn't feel like dealing with bears, guns and ornery dogs so we went on to hike Mt. Mitchell further down the road.

I left here thinking we'd be back some day in sunny weather. Little did I know it would be 5 years later with a new set of friends, a different dog and completely changed outlook on life - and death.

The Great Escape

July 6, 2010
Black Mountain, NC

This morning we put out the dogs while having breakfast. I walked the entire fence to make sure that it was secure and that there were no gaps, and went back inside. Koda was soon brought in but we left Tessa outside. She spent some time at the back door, not liking to be locked out, then remembered she can actually enjoy herself in that nice little yard. A bit later, the phone rings. It was Don's elderly mother who lives next door. When I heard Don look out the window and say "Oh shit!" and "I knew it!" I thought that his mother had a health crisis and the ambulance had just pulled up. My heart sank. It turned out that his mother was fine, but had spotted a dog that may be Tessa running around my car which was parked in front of the house - my heart sank again! We all rushed outside and she came right up when called.I doubt that she would have ventured far - she was just trying to find another way in to join her people but still, the potential of her getting hurt or lost was there. Thank you Mrs. Blankenship for being such a good neighbor! :)

It seems like she had pushed up the gate pole that was anchored in the gravel. After this incident, we padlocked the gate.