Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Around Oregon: Eola Hills Winery

I love traveling around Oregon. I have lived here my entire life, and yet, there are so many awesome places I have never seen. Just 40 minutes from where I live is the cute little Eola Hills Winery.

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The sign on the main highway

I stopped by along with a friend and my dogs on the spur of the moment. They had a wedding going on, so I just tried to get some quick pictures without being in the way.

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A small patch of grape vines out front along the road

I was a little disappointed that this was actually just a tasting room and bottling location. They had what I assume was a nice garden area, but it was full of wedding people, so we stayed out of there. I did step inside a room full of these huge wine barrels on racks to grab some photos. I started with the dogs one at a time, but when I went to try with both of them, I was told the wedding party was going to be walking through that room, so we ended up just leaving instead.

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In the barrel storage room

Koira was really nervous most of the time we were here. The highway was very audible, and there were a lot of large trucks going by. Use of treats and my friend doing a jig somewhere behind me resulted in a few decent pictures, though.

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Nervous and hot, but still willing to sit next to some barrels in exchange for a treat

I would say Eola Hills is worth a visit if you happen to be in the booming town of Rickreal. It is just south of the only stop light in town!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Moo Review

I take a lot of photos at a lot of events. My dogs also get a lot of fans when they are out performing or participating in demos and sports, or just playing in the park. I decided I needed some business cards for the blog. I did have some business cards a while ago. I liked them okay, but wasn't crazy about them, and I never ordered more when I ran out. When I went to BlogPaws last year, though, I remember being really impressed with someone's mini cards. I thought they were adorable and great quality. Well, I found where they were made.

I have been meaning to order these cards for a while. Moo.com has a great selection, an easy interface to work with, and awesome quality on their products. I finally got around to ordering from them earlier this month, and I am really glad I did.

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My cards came in these adorable little boxes, which are very sturdy and great for storing spare mini cards in.

First off, Moo lets you use as many photos as you want on your cards. You can choose just one photo for all your cards (or even just use one of their designs without photos), or you can go crazy and add a new photo for every single card you buy. I did a sort of halfway mark with that and used nine different photos for my mini cards. Designing the cards was especially easy since Moo can interface with Flickr, where I have all of my photos stored already, which eliminated the need to upload more photos specifically to Moo. I did have to go through some photos and discard them because of the dimensions of the mini card just not working with the photo. But overall, it went really smooth and easy. I did a selection of nine photos for one side of the card, with the other side a plain white with black text on them, with the blog name, my name, my email, blog url, and my flickr account. It should be enough information to be useful if I hand one to someone, but not so much as to be overwhelming or crowded on the card.

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Here's all my cards laid out with the pictures. I thought they all turned out really well.

The printing and shipment of my cards was super fast, and I simply loved them when they arrived. The only issue I had with this order was that I also ordered a black mini card case to keep a few cards in my purse without them getting crushed, bent, or dirty. The card case didn't come with my mini cards, which was disappointing. However, I just contacted Moo using their online form, explained the problem briefly, and quickly received an email that the error was being corrected. They sent out the card case the following day, and I had it a few days later.

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The card case, once it arrived. It is adorable, and tiny, and holds a good number of cards while taking up very little room in my purse.

To be honest, their amazing customer service totally made up for the missing card case, especially considering how quickly I received it. I would not hesitate to order from Moo again, and I probably will as soon as I run out of my current cards!

*I was not compensated in any way for this review. I purchased the products from Moo.com at full price and was thrilled enough with the products and the company that I wanted to share. All opinions are totally my own.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

On Black

I took the dogs down to the river as the sun was setting. The lighting was absolutely gorgeous, either all golden sunset or lighting just the dogs with everything else in stark black shadow. It was amazing.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Instinct Raw Boost Minis

Instinct Raw Boost Minis

I was contacted by Chewy.com asking if I would be interested in reviewing some Instinct Raw Boost Minis. These are small freeze dried treats that are made for cats. With a great list of ingredients and a company that I trust, I absolutely said yes.

The treats were delivered quickly. I've previously had some issues with delivery to my house through FedEx, but I ran into the FedEx guy while he was trying to figure out which door to knock on (my house is confusing like that). I talked to him a little bit, showed him which door was mine, and he gave my dogs a treat out of his pocket. But all together, it meant that he remembered having talked to me and found my door no problem this time, making the whole delivery go really smoothly.

I first opened up the bag of treats to try out at home. They are labeled as cat treats, so I decided to try them on both my cats and my dogs.

Both cats ate them. Theodore Trex absolutely loved the treats, though I think they would be a bit large to use for training. He spent some time nomming on each treat, but eagerly came begging for more. Martha is a bit pickier normally, and proved that here too. She liked the treat, and ate it, but was a bit weirded out at first, I think by the texture. She kept picking up the treat, then spitting it out and staring at it. She did end up eating it, and came over and asked for more. The second treat was eaten much faster and with less confusion.

Doing some "leave it" practice. Clue thought her mom was stupid for doing this

The dogs, now, were both totally jealous of the cats. I gave each of them a couple of the treats, which were inhaled quickly enough that I am unsure if they actually tasted them at all. And then I proceeded to be absurdly busy and put off doing any training with the treats to see how motivating they were until yesterday. A friend of mine invited me over to do some training, and I brought the treats.

Pallo was pretty happy to do just about anything I asked in exchange for one of these. I even taught him to retrieve my cell phone using these (you may want a protective case for your phone before trying this, since his tooth cracked the screen).

Clue is looking at her mom- and I am positive she is thinking "Can I just eat them already?!"

My friend's dog Clue kept coming over to me the second her person wasn't working her, and begging for treats. I let her try some of them, and it was amazing how much she would work for just one little taste.

Overall, I really liked these treats. They have a great list of ingredients. They are freeze dried, so you don't have to worry about them rotting in the pocket of your training jacket, but also aren't a hard crunchy treat. I like that a dog basically can just tongue them to pick them up and each them as well. They also don't seem to crumble like many freeze dried treats can, which reduces the overall amount of treat residue coating your pockets. Also, the size of these was great for training. Small enough to be able to feed a few handfuls of them without worrying about it, large enough to be visible to the dog if tossed. Plus, at $7.99 for a package, they are much more affordable than most comparable freeze dried training treats. Clue's mom said she needed to pick some up!

Finally! Nom.

Disclaimer: I was given these treats for free in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and I was not compensated in any way other than the treats themselves.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mischief Monday: Splashing

Koira's version of mischief is not normally too mischeivious. At the river, she had a ton of fun making big splashes with me. I would run up and down the bank of the river in knee deep water (yes, I was totally exhausted!) and she would run and bounce next to me, seeming to try to make the biggest splashes she possibly could.

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I think her mischief was paid back a little by her getting water up her nose and sneezing though!

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And of course, she had to get a little sassy about the whole thing. She knew she was so much better at running in the water than me, and couldn't help but mock me for it a little.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Underwater Dog!

First off, a quick race report. Pallo ran at our tournament earlier today. He did good, right up until he didn't. He is still doing that random stopping thing. I do have a theory about it that I will be testing out at our next practice. The sports vet on one of the local teams was nice enough to do a quick once over of Pallo and didn't find any obvious physical reason for him to be doing it, which was a relief even when I didn't quite think it was a physical thing. Koira didn't run today, so she just hung out in her crate the whole time. I ran another team mate's Belgian Teruvren, Zip. She is a total blast to run, and she ran like a total rockstar, even when she suddenly realized during the last race that her dad was judging and her mom was sitting at the scoring table.

I figured I would be busy enough with running two dogs and helping out my team (we were hosting the tournament), so I didn't even bring my camera along. Instead of flyball pictures, how about some pictures from our trip to the river yesterday?

I let the dogs wield the GoPro for a while on the new neoprene vest I made for it. But then I decided I wanted to try for some underwater type photos of the dogs. I held the camera myself and set the automatic timer to take a photo every second.

Here is Pallo. He doesn't actually believe in putting his face in the water.

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Koira, however, DOES believe in putting her face in the water. Here she is from above. The blue vest she is wearing is the neoprene vest made for holding the GoPro. Koira spends so much time in the water that she gets chilled even on hot days, so it is dual purpose as both a camera vest and as a canine wet suit to help keep her warm.

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For a ball, Koira thought sticking her nose in was plenty. No real reason to stick her whole head in just for some silly ball.

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Though she might stick her nose in a little deeper, too.

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The real thing Koira will dive her entire head under the water for? Rocks. Because apparently, rocks totally rock*! (Yes, my dog is a little special in the head sometimes.)

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And then, of course, the best for last. At least, I think this is the best underwater photo I got yesterday. I'm totally in love with it.

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Obsessive underwater dog!
I hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend!

*I do not at all encourage you to support your dog's rock habit. Koira has lost most of one of her canines between a combination of chewing on her crate and obsessing over rocks while at the river and beach. I only let her pick up rocks from the river during this shoot, and took them away from her before she had a chance to chew on them. Most of the time I will keep her attention with a toy the entire time we are at the beach or river so that she doesn't have a chance to obsess over rocks.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tournaments Galore

We had a great time at the tournament this past weekend. Pallo was on the schedule to run in a 3/4 time slot. Koira originally was not going to run, but there ended up being another team with a team member who couldn't come due to a last minute family emergency, so I signed Koira up to run with them.

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Which brings me to the point that, while I will always continue working Koira's box turn at practice, I will be running her in tournaments with whatever turn it is that she has. The whole hemangioma lump scare made me seriously evaluate what will bring me and my dog more pleasure, and running in tournaments is it.

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Pallo ended up running like a rockstar- until he didn't. It seemed like every race or two races, he would have a heat where he would run part way up, come to an abrupt stop, and stare around like he had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to be doing. He always ran well on the rerun though. I honestly don't have much of an idea of what is going on with him. He doesn't appear to be in pain when he does it (head and tail stay up, he sometimes does it before even going over a jump). Chasing flies, lights flashing on the ring, hot weather, and him being bored are all on the table for reasons. We'll have to figure it out if we can.

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Koira ran really well. Her turn pretty well fell apart into a somewhat sideways smash into the box. But I don't think the turn itself is super dangerous (though I doubt it is good for her body long term). Part of the problem was that since we were running Open, we were running on a box that had holes MUCH closer to the center of the box, which made her not have room for the turn we've been practicing for so long. I ended up having a really awesome person go grab my team's other box (we were only about 3 minutes away from our regular practice facility), which we ran on for the rest of the weekend, but the damage was pretty well done by the first few races on that box. Other than the box turns, though, Koira was running great. I am happy with how she did, and don't regret putting her in at all.

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The tournament was really fun, like always. It was nice enough to be close to home and be able to sleep in my own bed each night. It was a bit farther of a drive than I would pick for a hotel if I was staying at an event- 45 minutes- but close enough to make it reasonable to stay at home. Our club was so busy running three teams that our crating area was almost always empty or close to empty. We had our usual spread of food (which is always the most impressive at a tournament), but no time to stand around snacking and chatting. But everyone knew where they were supposed to be and did a great job getting there, even when they were being rushed from one ring/team to the next. We did have a retirement party on Saturday for Raff, one of our team dogs who had to be retired due to a non-flyball related injury. Normally, we hold retirement parties for dogs at the last tournament they run in, but since we didn't know Raff was going to be seriously injured, we decided to do the retirement party at the tournament nearest to home, so that he could attend.

We are off to another flyball tournament this weekend. My team is hosting it as a one day tournament, and it is even closer to home for me (only 20 minutes!). So there will be yet more excitement on Saturday. 

If you happen to be in the area, come on by the Linn County Fair tomorrow and stop by to check out the flyball!

PS. The box turn photos here are not from the tournament (which was indoors on mats). They are from a training session at the park on Wednesday.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's Just A Dog Book Giveaway

This Dogtastic Giveaway has been brought to you by
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Ending on Sunday 11th August at 11.59pm EST

What if your dog died and then came back as a ghost…that could talk? Would you welcome him back with open arms or run away scared to death? 

This is the premise of IT’S JUST A DOG, a new novel about love, loss, and one man’s dog who rises up yapping from the grave.

Charlie Keefe is not just your typical dog lover –– he’s a world famous dog painter, a.k.a. “The Picasso of Pooch Portraits”. Unfortunately, Charlie’s beloved muse, Pete, his lovable Jack Russell terrier, has just died. And he’s totally devastated by the loss of his furry best friend.

So, after months of grieving over his dearly departed soulmate, Charlie reluctantly agrees to foster a new puppy –– a cute Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Brownie from the local animal shelter. Soon after, Charlie is surprised to find himself falling head over heels with this new puppy girl, his ‘Rebound Dog’, as he calls her –– as well as being romantically attracted to Janelle Jordan, the head hound at the dog

But then complications arise when the ghost of his old dog, Pete, mysteriously reappears one night and comes back to haunt him and the new puppy –– setting off a bizarre chain of events that throw Charlie’s life, career, and entire belief system into chaos!

If you’ve enjoyed such classic dog books as The Art of Racing in the Rain and A Dog’s Purpose, then you are bound to find a place in your heart for IT’S JUST A DOG. 

is not just for dogs. It’s for anyone who has ever lost a pet –– and learned to love again. If you’re a feel-good fan of dog books, make IT’S JUST A DOG your special treat!

Enter Below and Good Luck !! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Poor Tired Pallo

Well, Pallo is exhausted after Day One of flyball this weekend! Here he is on the drive home, curled up sleeping. Poor guy was so tired that even when I gave him a bully stick when we got home, he curled up to sleep rather than eating it!

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

We're At The Fair

So, Pallo and Koira and I are spending the next two days at the Marion County Fair in Salem. We are participating in two flyball tournaments over two days, and the whole thing is open to spectators. So if you happen to be in the area, it is a great chance to stop by. You can check out flyball first hand, see the craziness as it happens, and maybe even meet Pallo, Koira, or even Athena from Pitlandia as she runs in her first tournament!

Hope to see you at the fair!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Iron Dog

Neither of my dogs have earned the award Iron Dog from NAFA. Neither of them are old enough for it. But I seriously love the idea.

The Iron Dog award was announced at the end of the 2011 racing year. Instead of a title based off of points, as all other awards in NAFA flyball, the Iron Dog is based off of years. A dog earns the Iron Dog award by earning at least one point per year for ten consecutive racing years.

Basically, Iron Dog is a reward for longevity and perseverance, rather than speed.

To get points in NAFA, the team your dog is on must put up decent times. Each dog on the team earns 25 points per heat under 24 seconds, 5 points for each heat 24-28 seconds, 1 point for each heat 28-32 seconds, and no points for heats above 32 seconds. Most clubs can put together teams that run consistently in the 24 second range these days, though it used to be much harder years ago.

Even with running under 24 seconds in every heat, it takes a lot of heats to earn titles. The first few titles come easily. A single heat under 24 seconds is enough for a dog to earn their first flyball title, FD. Once you get up into the higher titles, though, there are a ton of heats, races, and tournaments represented by each title. A Flyball Master (FM, which is what Pallo currently has) takes 5,000 points to achieve. It is another 5,000 points until the next title, FMX. An ONYX, which is a major achievement to be celebrated, takes 20,000 points. A good haul of points at a tournament is somewhere around 400 per day (though some dogs haul in 700 or more at some tournaments). If you figure 400 points per day, it would take 25 tournaments to achieve an ONYX. And don't even start thinking about how many it takes for a Flyball Grand Champion (30,000) or a Hobbes (100,000).

So, what does all that nonsense about points have to do with the Iron Dog award? A lot.

Because for an Iron Dog, you don't need to run a team at 24 seconds or faster. You don't need to travel to 10 tournaments per year. You don't need to run your dog full time every day of every tournament to suck up every last point possible.

To get the Iron Dog, you have to go to one tournament per year. Your dog has to run on at least one team, which runs at least one heat under 32 seconds. And you have to do that for 10 consecutive years. Iron Dog rewards those with perseverance and longevity, rather than speed and attendance.

Does this mean I don't care about what titles my dogs earn? Does this mean I won't celebrate every title as it comes? Does this mean I won't count points carefully as we approach each new title? Absolutely not. I love titling my dogs. I love adding those extra letters after their names. I love celebrating the new titles of each and every dog on my team, and the high titles achieved by some of the dogs in our region. It is part of the enjoyment of the sport.

But at the end of 10 years of flyball racing, I will be more proud of that Iron Dog than of any single title. Because it will mean that we kept at it. We showed up. We played, no matter what. It will be a celebration of all the years we have played flyball together. And ultimately, that is the goal I have for my dogs. I want them both to be around 6 years from now. I want them both to be in good enough physical condition to still play and have fun playing flyball. They might still be pulling in the same times they bring now. They may slow down as they age. But if they are still here, still having fun, and still wanting to play, that will be an award worth celebrating.

Even if it doesn't add any letters on the end of their names.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Farmer's Market

First off, we got the lab report back. And, I am probably just more confused than anything else. I was told the lab report said the lumps were hemangiomas, which are benign tumors. That is good news, of course. But, the vet also said that hemangiomas need to be removed so that they don't develop into hemangiosarcoma, which is pretty much a death sentence for dogs (with a 6-8 week expected survival after diagnosis.) When I came home and started doing research, though, I didn't find any warnings about hemangiomas turning malignant, except for one reference, which states "[Hemangiosarcomas] generally arise spontaneously, but in dogs with short, often white coats, chronic solar injury has induced a change in the superficial vascular plexus, which initially appears as a hemangioma and then progresses to a malignant vascular tumor. The breeds prone to actinically induced angiosarcomas are Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, White Boxers, and Pit Bulls."

So, I am making a list of questions to ask the vet on Friday when Koira goes in to have her last stitches removed. We actually did go in today to see the vet, pick up antibiotics for Koira's foot, and have the dangling knee stitches taken out, since they aren't doing much.

I bet this booth selling sausages is where Koira would like to start shopping

Koira is very ready to get back to being more active. She especially would like to swim, I think, since it has been pretty warm and even downright hot around here for the past week or so. But she is restricted to on leash walks or non-enticed exercise (no fetch, flyball, lure coursing, etc) until the last of the stitches come out. She is just so driven that she would not stop if the stitches pulled out or the wounds caused pain, so she doesn't get to play.

We did stop by the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning though. I had decided to stay home (rather than go take pictures at a lure coursing event) to give my ear infections a chance to heal up. I thought a walk at the Farmer's Market would be just the thing for both me and Koira, though I decided to leave Pallo at home because I wasn't feeling up to wrangling two dogs.

The wide view of the market

It was another hot sunny day, but we headed out early enough in the morning that it was cool enough walking around. It started to get a bit hot right as we left.

Market goers 

I mostly went with the sole purpose of walking around, seeing the sights, exercising the dog's mind and body, and just plain being somewhere other than home. I did also want to pick up some kind of a treat for the dogs from the local farmers though. One woman who sells chicken, rabbit, eggs, and occasional other things as well has discounted meats every week, just whatever is older than she wants to sell for people, and sells them as pet food. I picked up a whole rabbit for the dogs and cats to split between them.

The place we bought the rabbit

I was excited to see that our favorite local lamb farmers were at the market too. They previously have only been at our Wednesday markets, which are sometimes harder for me to get to. I didn't pick anything up from them this time, but did stop to talk for a little bit, and made a plan to go visit their lamb processor with them sometime. I would love to have a tour of the place, since I both feed my dogs her lamb and eat it myself. I think it would be interesting to see how the entire process works.

Our favorite lamb people also produce fiber as well

We also stopped to listen to some of the performers.

A small band getting ready to play

I just liked this next picture because it kind of shows a perfect picture of what your dog is seeing when in a crowd of people. It can be hard, I think, to really understand why some dogs are timid in crowds, or scared of people. This picture really shows, to me anyway, what they are seeing. And really, no wonder some dogs are weirded out by it. And for that matter, no wonder young children sometimes grab onto the wrong person, thinking it is their parent. People pretty much all look the same from that low down, at least, if they are wearing the same kind of clothes!

A dog's-eye-view in the crowd

And, a final photo as we were leaving for the day. The sun was getting high enough to make it hot, Koira was getting tired of carrying a backpack with our purchases (I picked up some zucchini for myself and to even out the weight of the rabbit in Koira's backpack), and we were ready to head home. This picture is one of the reasons I seriously love the GoPro. I might delete 3/4 or more of the photos it takes, but every once in a while, there is a photo I totally love.