Monday, March 31, 2008

Graduation day!

Today Gavin and I took Maddie to her last beginner's agility class! She had a great time and really finished strong. She hit all her jumps and learned the jump-tunnel sequence right away. So now she is putting two obstacles together one after the other. We are so proud And YES -we took pictures!

Now, she can do all these tricks without her leash on (and prefers to perform unfettered) but we kept her on a leash tonight because the police attack dogs were training in another part of the field. Note that there was no fence was separating the police attack dogs going after the guy with the kevlar sleeve from the housepets in the beginners agility class. Anyway, the police dogs were "practicing biting" today and I didn't want to risk her running over there to play the part of the criminal. So that explains the leash.

Here is Maddie jumping through the hoop. Go baby!

Here she is running through the tunnel...

Here she is on the see-saw. She's so funny - she walks right up to the pivot point, stops, rides the see-saw down to the ground, and then runs off before it pops her in the butt.

This is the dog walk - she sprints over this thing.

The A-frame....

The table... the trick here is just to lie down for five seconds. No problem there - Maddie spreads eagle and gets comfy for at least 15.

A job well done.

And this is her whole class! We met some great people and some adorable talented dogs. Maddie also got some valuable socialization and obedience training and our mama-baby bond is stronger than ever! This has been a great experience so if you are looking for something fun to do with your dog we would definitely encourage you to look into it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Agility Pupdate

Well, Monday night Maddie had her second-to-last agility class. I didn't have time after work to take her to the greenway, so I just drove her out to the field where class is held a little early so we could throw the ball and work out some of her car anxiety before class. They have a huge open field, so this worked out great.

While we were playing, the other dogs started to arrive and came out to play with us. Pretty soon, every dog in the class was playing together out in the field. It was so fun to watch them all run around after the ball and play together. The socialization is so good for Maddie, because she tends to get clingy when other dogs are around.

When class got started, Maddie learned her last two tricks: the "chute" and the "tire." I knew she would ace the chute, because it's basically just burrowing under a big canvas blanket and coming out the other side. Maddie's favorite thing to do is to burrow under blankets, so no problem there. Here's a visual aid of what the chute looks like.

The other one was the tire. Maddie didn't want to hop through it at first, but when I waved a treat around on the other side, she flew through that hoop like a cheetah - ears back for maximum aerodynamic effect. It was so funny. This is an example of the tire jump.

She also practiced all her other tricks. She is getting so much better at riding the seesaw thing. The teacher had to tell me not to look so scared when Maddie is on the seesaw, because Maddie picks up on my anxiety. I tried to relax and sure enough Maddie got more confident. Next week we will work on putting the tricks together. If Maddie does ok with that, we may look at getting her in the intermediate class! Go Maddie!

I wish I had pictures of Maddie actually performing, but I don't have any yet - next week is my last chance so I will definitely get some then. Get excited!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I hope everyone had a very happy and fun Easter weekend! I sure did. Gavin is finishing up a trial tomorrow, so he had to work on Friday and Saturday. While he was doing that, I cleaned my house, finished up my work, and ran errands, all so we would have Easter completely free to play. We had a great day!
We actually started our Easter fun on Saturday night. Gavin and I realized that we had never dyed Easter eggs together, so we bought some dye, boiled some eggs, and got eggy with it. Here are some pics of that.

Below is the finished product! We used one of those clear wax crayons to decorate the eggs. As you can see, Gavin's egg is Gator blue, and my egg is burnt orange for Auburn. We were baby sitting my friend Mary's chihuahua Taco at the time, so we did a green egg for him, as well as a pink one for Mary, yellow for Sugarbear, and another pink one for Maddie (Meedy).

The weather was glorious so we started out the day by reading the paper and drinking our coffee out on the deck. I also discovered that the Easter Bunny brought me some chocolate!! Yay Easter Bunny! After that we took the dogs to the greenway.

Below is a pic of Maddie in the car. She likes to bark very loud in the car, so she has to wear a muzzle on the short trip over. It's sad and she looks like Hannibal Lecter, but if you have ever been in the car with her, you'd understand my plight.
Below you can see Maddie practicing her new jumping skills on the fence by the parking lot! Go Maddie! Girlfriend caught some serious air.

After the greenway, we joined some friends at Po Boy's for some fun, food, and fellowship on the big deck. I am mostly posting these pics to prove that Gavin and I actually do have friends and don't just hang out with the fur exclusively! Here is a pic of Gavin, me, and Taco.
Fish and Erin....
Mike, Lori, and Alan....

Mary and Taco.....Taco!!!
After Po Boy's, Gavin and I came home and had a quiet afternoon. I read on the couch, and then baked up some Strawberry Shortcake! Gavin doesn't like many types of sweets, but he loves Strawberry Shortcake. I used to make it for him fairly often, but then once we both started working so much I kind of got out of the habit. I wanted to do something special for him though, so here is what I came up with. Like all my attempts at baking, the result is a little ugly, but the whole thing tasted pretty good. Not bad!

So that about wraps it up! I hope everyone had as great a weekend as I did and is all rested for the week ahead. Happy Easter!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday, but really Friday

I love Easter! The weather is glorious and we get a long weekend. So what if I have to fast on Good Friday. If Jesus can die on the cross, I can refrain from stuffing my fat face for a day. My thighs are feeling chunky anyway. I was going to spend the weekend with my fam, but they are going to be skiing in Utah so it’s just me, Gavin, and the babies. That’s ok - I’ll dye some Easter eggs, clean, do yard work, catch up on work work, and maybe relax a little.

So Maddie is doing the funniest thing. She has always loved to curl up and sleep on our clothes, clean or dirty, doesn’t matter. Frequently I will dump out the hamper to take clothes to the washer, leave the room for five seconds, and when I come back, Maddie will have climbed on top of the clothes and burrowed down for a nap. I think she likes them because they are soft and smell like us. She also likes to burrow in our suitcases after trips, before we unpack them. Awwww.

Anyway, Gavin keeps his sweatshirts on a low shelf in his closet. Lately he has been coming home to find the sweatshirts out on the floor and a little crumpled. We finally figured out that Maddie has been pulling the sweatshirts off the shelf with her mouth and paws and snuggling up in them while we are at work! How cute is that? Love that girl! I wish I could catch her in the act. Anyway, I just wanted to share that - I promise I have other things in my life besides my dogs. Hope you all have a great Thursday!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Agility class number four! Two more weeks to go!

My baby is an overachiever! She has officially mastered the tunnel, the dog walk, the hurdles, the A-frame, and now - the teeter totter! Ok, so maybe using the word "mastered" is painting the picture a little rosy. However, she is running through the tunnel with no problems, she sprints over the dog walk and the A-frame, and she hops hurdles like a gazelle. The weave poles are still posing a bit of a challenge, but we are working on that. She is getting better and better but that is going to take some time.

Today she learned how to ride the teeter totter seesaw thing - it scared her a little at first but once she got the hang of it she was riding it like a show pony. Here is a pic of the teeter totter. Obviously that's not my baby Maddie, but appears to be a blue heeler or something similar. I'll take some pics of Maddie on the equipment when she gets a little more confidence.

Permit me to get on my soapbox for a moment. As you know, both of my babies are mixed breed rescue dogs. It has recently come to my attention that The AKC (American Kennel Club) does not allow mixed breed dogs in their agility competitions. Now, I never planned on putting Maddie in competitions, but come on. Why not? I understand why Maddie and Sugarbear can't be showdogs, but you don't have to have "papers" to hop through hoops, folks. This event is just about dogs being dogs.

I know dogs don't have civil rights, but this policy is terrible. Dog fans should be uniting to encourage people to adopt dogs from pet shelters and rescue groups. Instead, the AKC is treating people who adopt and rescue dogs like second-class citizens by excluding them from events where a dog's breed is irrelevant. Harrumph.

Props to the UKC (United Kennel Club), the US Dog Agility Association and the North American Dog Agility Club for allowing mixed breed dogs to compete through the American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry (

Now, check out this picture Gavin took tonight. Maddie is actually sitting ON Sugarbear while she looks out the window - so funny. Love these girls.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Horse thing!

Today, Gavin and I went to a horse show thing here in town! It was technically called the Red Hills Horse Trial, and it was basically a pre-Olympic competition for equestrians. They ride their horses and hop over little fences, kind of like the agility classes I'm doing with Maddie, but with horses and only one obstacle: fences. Anyway, we had a really fun time! It was a gorgeous day, and we had great seats in the shade and right up front. My friend Mary came to see the horses too, and we had a good time.

They also had little pony rides for kids, and vendors selling fried food and horse-themed items, like purses and t-shirts with graphic renderings of horse faces and slogans like, "Hold your Horses."

Also, several dog rescue groups were there adopting out dogs. Rip my heart out. I have a real problem, folks. I know I don't need a third dog, and it would be neither smart nor rational for me to get one, but I just can't bear to walk by these exhibits without playing with the dogs. And then, invariably, I meet one that I can't live without and Gavin has to be the bad guy and tell me no, and then I think about the dog for the next two weeks. I need to stay away; when will I learn? Oh well. Anyway, here are some shots Gavin took!

These are the "Live Oak Fox Hounds." Apparently they have won all these foxhunting competitions and so they got to take a victory lap around the arena before the jumping started.

These are miniature horses. They had a few out there and they all had little afro-manes. It was funny - this is a mama and a baby - awwwwwwwwwww.

Below are the jumping competitors - pretty neat. Gavin did a great job with these pics!

In other news, tomorrow is Maddie's fourth agility class! Details to come... I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Big News!

I am so excited! My college roommate and one of my best pals ever just got engaged! Congratulations Kristin and Ryan!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Agility class number three!

So last night we had our third agility class. I again took Maddie to the greenway and ran her all over the place before class so she would be worn out and desperate for treats during the actual event. This was also her first class without Daddy, since Gavin couldn't make it. It was good though, because he was able to spend some one-on-one time with Sugarbear. She is learning to retrieve the tennis ball - she's adorably clumsy, so it's so funny to watch her go bounding after the ball and try to catch it.

Last night Maddie learned the dog walk and the weave poles. The dog walk is this long, skinny, raised walkway thing that the dogs have to walk over - kind of like the balance beam in Gymnastics, but without the jumps and splits and "sticking the landing." The weave poles are these little poles that they have to weave through. Maddie is the smallest dog in the class, so she blew away the other dogs with the dog walk. It's tough for big dogs because it's kind of skinny and the fact that it is raised up in the air scares some dogs. Weave poles? Well Maddie struggled a little with that. We'll be working on that this weekend. Here is a picture of the doggy balance beam.

Anyway, while we were there, we also practiced the other tricks. She is such a great jumper now, and she ran through the tunnel and over the A-frame like a champ! The very best thing about all this is that Maddie is learning how to be normal around other dogs and people she doesn't know very well. People in the class keep commenting on how much she has improved and it makes me so proud! Go Maddie!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Movie Review

This weekend I saw "The Other Boleyn Girl" starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johannsson. My book club read this book several months ago, and I really enjoyed it so I thought, why not? I of course went with a female friend of mine because Gavin perceived this movie as a chick flick, which it really is not.

Anyway, I thought this movie was GREAT. Ok, you have to like history, sexual tension, plotting and scheming, and politics (16th century politics, that is), but if you like these things, DEF go see the movie. It's about Anne Boleyn (portrayed by Natalie Portman), Henry VIII's second wife - the one he broke with the Catholic Church over - and her less famous/infamous sister, Mary (Scarlett Johansson), who was ALSO knockin' corsets with Henry.

Basically, these two girls were used as pawns by their male family members to advance the family name, and get money and land. The sisters were pretty ambitious themselves (especially Anne) but they were basically traded like hot girl cattle to gain favor with the King. I don't want to give away too many details, but it was a very interesting movie, and it kept with the plot of the book pretty well. I honestly have no idea how historically accurate it is (except for the end) but it is a great story, nonetheless.

Most importantly, I loved the acting in this movie. Typically, British accents from non-British actors (or non-British people in general) usually annoy the pure h*ll out of me. However, in this movie, the actors managed to pull it off. Also, the costumes were great. Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I give the movie two thumbs up.

Moving along, tomorrow is Maddie's third agility class! We are scheduled to try the "weave poles" for the first time. This will be a challenge. Basically the dogs learn how to weave between little poles. Here's a pic. I'll give an update tomorrow - wish us luck!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I just want to give a shout out to my alma mater, Auburn University, because they are struggling this week. They had a tragedy there on Tuesday when a freshman girl was fatally shot. The weird thing is, twenty minutes after they found her on the side of a deserted road 5 miles north of campus, barely alive, her car went up in flames where it was parked, on campus.

I find this shocking because, when I look back at the time I was at Auburn, from Fall, 1998 through Spring, 2002, I don't remember anything like this happening. I always felt so safe there. It has a familiar, inviting atmosphere that makes it easy to forget that it is a major university with 25,000 plus students and everything that goes along with that, including crazies.

Another weird thing is, that I was just an hour away on Tuesday when all this was happening, in Atlanta for business, and I kept obliviously thinking how great it would be if I could just sneak away and pop over to Auburn for a while. Anyway, I just hope that poor girl's family and friends get through this ok. Everybody keep them in your prayers.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Agility class number two!!

So after last week's semi-disastrous agility class number one, I realized that Maddie and I needed to do some work together. She needed to learn how to focus amidst distractions, and I needed to learn how to be firm with her instead of scooping her up and cuddling her every five seconds. Girlfriend also needed some practice jumping hurdles; that is, jumping them without me jumping them with her.

So this past weekend, Gavin and I went to Home Depot, bought some PVC pipes, and made two little homemade jumping hurdles for her to practice on. Pretty soon, we had Maddie jumping the hurdles two at a time! She's so smart! I was so proud and was already starting to fantasize about her leaving all the well-behaved, purebred dogs in her class in her dust.

Fast forward to tonight's class. With all the work we'd been doing, I couldn't risk Maddie acting like Maddie, so I took some advice from the Dog Whisperer and ran her all over the greenway for 45 minutes before we left for class. I had her chasing the tennis ball and running all over the fields. Well, hallelujah. When we got to class, she hit every jump! She also ran through the tunnel 3 times with no hesitation!! The other people in class were so impressed, and one person even asked us if we had brought a different dog than last week. Sad!

Maddie also mastered a new maneuver today - the A frame. Here's a picture.

This trick is pretty tough because the dog has to trust its owner to lead it over this thing, which is pretty high and kind of scary for a furbaby. Maddie dominated. She climbed that thing like a gecko when a lot of the other dogs wouldn't even put one paw on it! The teacher told us that she had made lots of progress. We were beaming with pride! I also think the socialization is really good for her. She is learning how to be around other dogs. Anyway, I just had to brag on my baby. Lata!