Monday, May 30, 2011

My dogs are angry

Angry at not playing flyball

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Or possibly excited?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Excited that I pulled my bike out of storage and am running them every day?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Or maybe just happy?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Happy that spring is finally well on its way?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(Pictures taken with my newest camera, which, with its only $35 price tag, I believe is winning over the $200 option used for the last post.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

I miss flyball

I have now had to miss flyball practice for work two weeks in a row. I miss it. Its driving me nuts. I'm sure the dogs aren't too pleased by the lack of flyball either. Its making my mind go into researching mode. I've been researching flyball boxes, including: different styles, materials, ball hole placement, flexibility, launchers. I've been watching training videos. I've been doing touch stick practice with my dogs, but don't have enough room to do any wall practice still.

Basically, I just need to get back to flyball practice before my head explodes.

I've even gone from researching flyball to just researching in general. Books on urban homesteading, gardening, raising chickens, rabbits, goats, and other animals are all appearing in my house unbidden. I mean, I like gardening and all, and I love getting fresh produce from my garden over the summer, but seriously? These books are pretty depressing sometimes.

One of them shared the golden gem that if we stopped using lawn mowers in the United States for one year, it do as much for reducing carbon emissions as removing one in every five cars from the roads. Thats just sickening. We spend that much waste of gas and time and resources on something so pointless as a lawn?

Or how about the wonderful little fact that 40% of the food produced in this country ends up in landfills, uneaten, much of it even before the expiration dates? Talk about a depressing book to read.

But on to happier things.

I managed to finally get a good picture of Koira barking (yelling) at me to THROW THE BALL!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And a good picture of both my dogs together, which seems rather rare actually
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

One of Pallo trying his hardest to look just like a real Vallhund instead of the funny looking corgi something mix he more likely is
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Koira leaping for joy (or a ball, you know, same thing)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And a picture to add to the Funny Expressions album of my dogs, with the title:

Intense Desire
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Followed by the question for readers: Do my dogs look too skinny?

And, lets not forget the Blog Hop

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dogs Gone Dancing

Over the weekend, I was reminded of a Canine Freestyle competition happening locally. Since I have never actually been to one in person, I decided to head over and check it out (though my dogs had to wait at home).

A lot of competitors were dressed up, and a lot of the dogs as well. I was trying out a new camera with the indoor lighting, and got permission to post a few of the pictures up here. However, the pictures in no way do these dog-human teams justice at all.

This team had one of the brightest costumes, enabling me to locate the handler portion of the team afterwards to ask permission to post the pictures. They moved so fast together though that most of the pictures have not only the dog blurry, but the human too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Since I was starving, I only had time to ask one other competitor for permission to post pictures, but luckily, I managed to find the person from my favorite routine of the day, Indiana Jones!

The routine was fast paced, moving, with lots of impressive tricks, variety, and it managed to tell a story as well.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

As much as I loved the routine, and the costumes, the part that was my favorite was the extreme enthusiasm from the dog. You could tell this dog enjoyed being out there and had fun the whole time.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I also took the camera to the park for a bit of a test there.

I loved the still shots it took a lot, and got some great pictures of my pups.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(Pallo, showing that he does know how to stay even when a ball is being thrown, but that doesn't mean he can't STARE.)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

However, even with the relatively good lighting (in the evening, but before the sun was too far down) the pictures of motion were all pretty blurry. It might be fixable to some extent by messing with the manual settings, but I have no real desire to do that every time I go out to take pictures. And, for the price, it pretty much has to be exactly what a need, and its not. Looks like this camera is getting a trip back to the store.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Blog Hop and the Giveaway Winner!

Well, as it turns out this week, I finally got my camera back after leaving it at lure coursing practice for a month. And now, it won't work. It did for a couple days, but now the zoom is broken to the point that when the camera turns on, the lens just moves in and out over and over all by itself, and does not go all the way back in (like its supposed to) when I turn the camera off.

Sadly, this means few pictures for the blog until I can replace it.

Here are some from a few weeks ago after the dogs got hot from playing and decided to hop in the pond.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo wasn't sure he wanted in, but he knew he wanted that ball floating in there
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

He ended up in there anyway, as it turns out
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
(Not the best picture in the world technically speaking, but hilarious none the less)

Happily, there is a winner for the collar Giveaway. The winner is ....... Wyatt, from Gardening With Wyatt! Once we get in touch and I get the specs of the collar requested, it will be made, (photographed hopefully), and sent! Thanks everyone who played!

Koira update before sending you off hopping. She is no longer limping and is stretching out good every day. We're going to head to the park later today to see how she holds up from some playing.

Pallo is working on learning new tricks for the dancing competition over at Honey the Great Dane's blog. The next thing to try out will be stringing the tricks together.

Now, everyone go enjoy some blog hopping!

Free Hot Samples

Friday, May 20, 2011

Last chance to enter the giveaway!

And, thank you to Carrie from All Things Dog Blog for giving me the Versatile Blogger Award!

I guess I am supposed to tell you seven things about myself, then pass the award on to fifteen other blogs!

So, here goes:
1. I received a college degree three and a half years ago and have not once used it.

2. I really want almost every dog breed, and I change my favorite every time I am around each breed. One day it Border Collies (which I find at the park), the next a Whippet or Greyhound (at Lure Coursing practice), then a Belgian Tervuren (from my flyball team), etc, etc.

3. I grew up without TV, cooking on a woodstove (which also heated our water and our house), and without a flushing style toilet. Seriously, my childhood resembles most people's grandparents or great grandparents growing up.

4. I like pink. I'll admit it. I especially like bright pink with lime green, or mellow pink with brown.

5. I really dislike cities. I don't like being in them, driving through them, or really anything about them. Going to visit for a day doesn't even appeal much, but I would for sure never be able to live in one.

6. I regularly plan what I would do if I win the lottery but rarely ever play the lottery.

7. I spend way too much time thinking about flyball, training flyball, flyball equipment, flyball tournaments, vehicles I want to make all said flyball stuff easier, and on and on.

Moving on to the fifteen bloggers I want to share this award with (in no particular order):

1. Life With Sofie
2. PawPurry
3. Cowspotdog
4. Greyhounds CAN Sit
5. Just A Pup
6. ManyMuddyPaws
7. Winnie's Dog Blog
8. Gardening with Wyatt
9. Homestead.....From Scratch
10. Nats Dogs
11. Alsea Acres Goat Cheese
12. An English Shepherd
13. BCx4
14. Danes Can Q
15. Honey the Great Dane

Congradulations to everyone, I greatly enjoy reading your blogs (and a lot of other ones as well, but I had to limit this to 15).

And don't forget to comment on any post between Monday and Friday (today) this week to be entered in our leather collar giveaway!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: I can't wait for my garden to look like this again

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(Don't forget to leave a comment on any post between Monday and Friday this week for a chance to win a leather dog collar.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Limping... Again

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Well, bad news. Koira is limping again. This time, it started in the morning today and has lasted all day. I stretched her out good first thing this morning, which loosened it up a good bit and reduced the severity of the limp. By the time I got home from work, she was holding the foot up again not wanting to use it at all. Again, stretching it out helped a lot, but did not get rid of the limping. Hopefully she'll be feeling better by tomorrow.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

While I was stretching out Koira, I decided to do some stretching with Pallo as well. One stretch we do (and the dogs both naturally do often) is have their front legs on the ground, back legs on my lap straight behind them. This time, though, as Pallo straightened his legs out behind him, I felt first one, then the other, hip make a huge pop. He didn't act like it hurt at all, and has been fine since then, so I guess if anything it was a needed adjustment. It sure did give me a scare though for the first minute.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meet Me On Monday, and a Giveaway!

I'm going to try out the Meet Me on Monday questions for the first time. Technically it is still Sunday where I am, but I guess that doesn't matter too much.

Before I get to the questions though, I need to announce my giveaway! Right now, this blog has hit 51 followers, and I promised something special when we passed the 50 mark.

The something special is a leather collar, such as was featured on the blog a few weeks ago. Because I know readers have dogs of all different sizes and will have different needs and wants in a collar, I will make it only after talking to the winner about what you want!

To enter, leave a comment on any post starting now and ending on Friday the 20th. To win, you must be a follower of the blog. You can enter multiple times by commenting on different posts, but only one comment per post will be counted as an entry.

Now, on to the Meet Me Monday questions:

1. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
I prefer crunchy, and generally only eat peanut butter with celery, or on a toasted bread with marionberry jam.

2. What is your favorite color Rose?
I love the deep reddish-orange roses the most, but don't know the name. They have a deep orange at the base of the petals and are tipped with red.

3. Do you remove your shoes when you walk into your home?
Yes, but not always right away. I also have slip on shoes sitting right by the door for the times when I take my shoes off in a different room and can't find them fast enough.

4. What is your favorite season?
Late spring in Oregon. We still have plenty of rainy days but are starting to get some of the brilliant sun shine and hot weather, coupled together with the garden sprouting, fresh greens, and flowers everywhere.

5. Approximately how many hours a day do you spend blogging?
Writing blogs, probably only about 3 hours per week at a maximum most of the time. If you count in reading blogs, taking pictures for the blog, editing pictures for the blog, and arguing with my very frustrating internet, it would be much, much more than that.

Thanks for stopping by, reading my answers, and hopefully I'll see your comments for the giveaway!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Practice and boxes (and a blog hop)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Practice last night went really well. Pallo was doing great box turns and was holding onto his ball really well. He dropped early a couple times, but if I tell him "hold it" while he is on his way back, he is carrying it almost all the way to me, which is great.

Koira is doing great as well. We ran in a lineup of three against another three dog lineup, with Koira starting and running against Wyatt, a tri-color Aussie. It seemed like the competition was helping Koira a lot. She was running faster to the box than I have seen in a long time. I think the extra speed may be messing up her timing at the box, because she was fumbling a good bit, but her box turns have never been super solid. She is quite the speed demon coming back to me though, and despite turning on the speed, she was holding her ball really well.

A dog with a postage stamp on her nose
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(Side note to any new visitors from the blog hop, the following might be a bit technical and sound like a whole lot of nonsense if you are not familiar with flyball. I tried explaining it as clearly as possible though. Most of the time the blog isn't quite this technical.)

After practice we got together and talked a bit about refitting some of our boxes. Three things we want to change are hole placement, hole size (and padding) and hammer placement. The hole placement on some of our boxes is, in some of our members opinions (mine included) too close to the middle. We would like the holes to be farther to the side (more like 5.5" instead of the current 7-7.5 our boxes have). This will help especially the larger dogs have a smoother, safer turn, and reduce the risk of them falling off the side of the box with their back feet. Since it will give them more area on the box for their feet, it should increase the consistency and safety of their turns as well.

The hammer placement is more of an ambiguous change to a lot of people.

First, a couple pictures of the internal components of our boxes, both for the flyball people who may have different types of boxes, and for those of my readers who have never had a chance to see the internal set up of a flyball box.

This picture is one hole's entire set up of the spring, hammer, and cocking mechanism. In this picture, the hammer is cocked back, allowing the ball to be placed in the hole.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

When the dog does a turn on the front pedal of the box, it pushes the cocking mechanism, releasing the hammer, which hits the ball, propelling it out of the box and into the dog's mouth (hopefully).

Springs are attached to the hammer, causing it to spring forward when the cocking mechanism is released by the dog hitting the front pedal.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Another angle of the hammer, cocking mechanism, springs set up.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

These pictures are from my personal box, not the one of the ones we use at practice, but is basically the same thing (other than my box having a snub nose).

My box from the outside:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
You can see that the front 4 inches of the box are missing, with a vertical plane there instead of the front part of the wedge. I prefer this box style, but many people on my team do not, so I only have my personal box like this.

In any case, back onto the point I was trying to talk about, the hammer placement.

The farther back the hammer has to be pushed to engage the cocking mechanism (in this case something like 2.5 inches), the farther the hammer is from the ball when placed into the hole. The problem comes when a dog has a fast, snappy box turn, but has to hang on the box waiting for the pedal to release the cocking mechanism (which happens very quickly) then for the hammer to travel to the ball (which takes varying amounts of time depending on the dead space between the hammer and the ball), then for the ball to be projected out of the box.

The dead space between the hammer and the ball is really the biggest delay in this sequence, and the one that is least common for people to notice.

Problems associated with this delay time are numerous, including: "double hitting" which is where the dog hits the box with two, three, or all four feet twice, rather than once, in the course of a single box hit (for a better explination, including photos, visit Prop-a-ganda); poor head placement, where the dog has completed the box turn, but turns their head back toward the box to grab the late-releasing ball, causing their body and neck to contort; hang time on the box, where the dog hits properly, but appears to simply hang in place, which slows the dog down, encourages three footed turns, and can lead to the first mentioned problem of double hitting.

Hole size is something else that many teams probably never even think about. Most people just go with whatever their box came with (myself included, up to now). Generally, the ball hole is just a tad bit smaller than the widest point of a tennis ball, allowing for a normal sized tennis ball to easily be placed in the hole, or for a small tennis ball to be plopped into the hole as well. (A small tennis ball sitting loosely in the hole like this will be unpredictable when hit by the hammer, going in pretty much any random direction, making it much harder for the dog to get a smooth, consistent turn that includes catching the ball.)

A more reliable method, combined with the changing of hammer placement, is to have the ball hole cut much smaller. Rather than the size of a tennis ball at its largest point, have it a size so only 1/3 of the ball (or even only 1/4) can fit in the hole. This does mean the box loader will have to twist the ball into the hole to get it to stay. Using a double layer of padding on the box face, with the padding cut slightly smaller than the smallest ball the team uses, will help. The padding will then firmly hold any size ball (with a little quarter turn twist to secure it) in exactly the same place every time the dog hits the box, allowing for more consistent turns.

By moving the ball holes out, making them smaller with tighter, thicker padding, and by reducing the dead space between the hammer and the ball, I believe we can greatly improve the safety and consistency on the box of all of our team dogs.

And for fun, a dog roasting a hot dog

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
(This is my friend's dog Linex, who has since crossed the rainbow bridge)

And of course, please visit the hosts of our Saturday Pet Blog Hop, and as many of the other links as you can. I normally visit some on Saturday, then do additional visits throughout the next week as I have free time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Loving ourselves some water

Over at Cowspotdog they are having a challenge to show pictures of the dog beasts loving or hating the water. Now, for us, this is pretty easy. In fact, I may have already shared a number of these water pictures on the blog.

Since I can't choose just one:

Koira was anxiously waiting for me to get in the water too, she loves going down the rapids with me
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The backyard swimming pool is great relief from the heat of the summer
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Even the cat likes the pool
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And Koira loves fishing for rocks underwater. Actually, I had to start discouraging that behavior because she started obsessing over rocks at the river and beach so much that she would bloody her paws trying to dig them out of the sand, and I worry about her wearing her teeth down on them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Water-eye view of Koira enjoying some rapids
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo generally avoid the water. Here he is gingerly thinking about joining me and Koira in the water (he chose not to in the end)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And, Pallo's favorite activity around water, hunt the fish
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rainy Sunday of Lure Coursing Awesomeness

Both dogs did awesome at lure coursing today. The weather was being all flirty, bringing out the major thundering rain storm, followed by light sprinkling, followed by brilliant sunlight, rinse, repeat. It meant fewer people showed up to course, which is too bad for them, but meant we were able to get through our two runs much faster than previous times.

Koira was glad of that. Every time I pulled her out of the car, she started yelling at me that it was her turn, she wanted to run.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The other dogs were all eager to go as well. This whippet was not only straining against the leash, but also making the strangest whining sounds I've heard out of a dog.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo ran a zigzag pattern for the first time ever. Previously, we have only done straights with both dogs. The zigzag adds in two relatively gentle turns, giving him a chance to see more what a real competition course would be like.

Here is the video of Pallo running his zigzag:

Koira also did a zigzag run, but it was raining by that time, so no video of it. Just a video from the catcher's point of view of her doing her straight run.

For the people who previously asked about lure coursing equipment, I took a picture of the lure machine today to share.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Basically, we hand pull the lure out, stringing it around the little thingimibobbers like the one at the top of the picture to create turns. The motor on the side, run by a battery, is controlled by the lure operator, who watches the dogs carefully and zips the lure up in front of them, far enough that they can't catch it, but not so far that they lose focus on the lure.

I love watching the dogs run out there. I wish my camera was fast enough to get good pictures of it, but alas, it is not. I did get some good pictures of a few breeds present.

Most striking was probably the Afghan. Amazing to watch too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The most popular breed, other than greyhounds and whippets at least, was Ridgebacks. They are considered a coursing sight hound by AKC, and we had a whole bunch of them. I managed to get four all in one picture.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Friday, May 6, 2011

A weekend of blog hopping

Well, after Koira's excitement with the coyote yesterday, I have decided we will have a nice mellow weekend. Our plans include going for a lunch date with my mom on Saturday and heading to lure coursing practice on Sunday.

Relaxing in the sun is also on the agenda. Martha is being great and giving a good demo of what this should look like.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Martha, in fact, has been having a great time lounging around and attacking grass.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

She knows how to keep that grass in line for sure.

Martha in general doesn't get much notice on this blog, which is, as per the title, about me and my flyball dogs. Martha, being a cat, doesn't really qualify. But she is awfully adorable.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And I wanted to let readers and followers know that I will be doing a giveaway when I reach 50 followers. The leather collars and leashes I made a while back turned out great, and I have some new ideas for them as well, so when a winner is chosen, I will make one to fit your dog! So make sure to follow along if you haven't yet, and be sure to check back regularly!

A blog hop:
Free Hot Samples

A Saturday Pet Blog Hop:

A Friday Blog Hop: