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Employed, I guess

I've been working 16 hours a week at the realty office where I interned when working on my degree. It's not what I trained for, but I figured that a little income was better than no income. My bosses took me to lunch today, and we talked, and the plan now is for me to go to 35 hours there.

In some ways, it feels like giving up, because the idea was for me to get a job in the field I trained in. Not working in that field means I probably won't be able to later, if this doesn't pan out. And this is a little precarious. I believe the chances are good, but we'll have to see. The hours I'm working, at the wage I'll receive, probably won't be quite enough to support me. However, the idea is that if things work out as planned, that I could start receiving a commission on sales. The plan is for me to get a broker's license (I'm already doing a course for that, the bosses are paying for it), which will allow me to do more helpful things which I couldn't legally do without the license. The office is very busy, too busy really for the brokers they have (3 more are supposed to be joining when they get their licenses, which will double the number)

We can't really get too specific on exactly what will happen, because it's a new venture and we're all having to figure it out as we go. But if the commission thing works out, and I were getting that in addition to my hourly wage, I could have a nice income.

Huge advantage being that I am working for nice people, who appreciate me. The work isn't hard, but sometimes it takes a certain amount of logical thinking skills. I have a lot of freedom to do things in whatever way I feel is best. Also from a personal standpoint, there's a fair amount of flexibility. My new schedule is going to be Tue-Sat, but if I need to take a Saturday off, I can work Monday instead. I'm sure if I need time off for any reason, we can work it out. There's some things I may need to do out of the office, and the possibility that some stuff I may be able to do remotely. So I'm not necessarily stuck there 5 days a week, and I know my bosses will be understanding if I have something going on. (when I took the dogs down to OSU for the play study, I texted my boss the day before, and said I had something to do the next couple mornings, and would be coming in at 11 instead of 10. And when I got to work, I told them what I'd been doing, so it's not like I even pretended to be sick or anything just "went to play with my dogs!" No prob.) Knowing that I can take time for something if I need to makes me feel a lot less trapped than other jobs have.

So, I'm giving this a try. It's a little less of a sure thing than finding a job in my degree field (I'd eventually have found something, and once I had some experience, would have been continually employable), but also has the potential for a higher payout if things work out. I hope they do.

and I made this thing

With Pirate finishing, Tully, who could never get a point herself, is now behind 3 generations of champions (I only included AKC titles in the graphic). I'm quite pleased with all these dogs. They aren't perfect, and there are some differences in style, but all 4 of these dogs are sound, all are typey (if you know what a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is, you wouldn't mistake them for anything but), all are functional. They are good examples of the breed.

Baby Hayden, Pirate's grandson, is working on becoming generation 4:

And he's in agility class, so hopefully will be 5th generation agility titled Stafford, too.

Mercy is probably going to stay at 12"

This is a thing I've been thinking about, and it's a tough decision. I know she measures into 16", and while I'm not 100% on her height (USDAA judge got 15 1/4, but I don't know if that was accurate), I'm sure she's over 15. So that fits into my criteria of a dog who can jump 16. But she just didn't look that comfortable with it when we tried. Compared to how she looked at 12"

Now, granted, she has limited experience jumping, and currently isn't that great at it at all. (when we practice in the barn, she's usually great for the first few jumps, then starts knocking all the bars.) And some of that might be conditioning, I have a lot of guilt about this, but she really is not in good shape. Unlike my other dogs, she hasn't had a lot of opportunities to free play in an open area, and I haven't really been leash walking her much either. So she just gets to play in the house and yard with the other dogs. So maybe just some more exercise and practice jumping would make 16 possible for her.

But I recently put together a video of Tess at the various jump heights she's done. Tess is similar in height to Mercy. And looking at her jumping, on different surfaces, in both extension and collection, it's undeniable that the 12" height is more comfortable for her than even 16 ever was.

And she was young, fit, and sound at all the higher jump heights. She didn't move to 12 until she'd had the back injury that affects her rear function. Still looks better and more comfortable than she ever did jumping 16 or more.

Just not sure I want to ask that of Mercy.

Got the win photo already

Randy Roberts is a superior dog show photographer. Also, the HRKC backdrop makes me happy.

Well, that's over

Drove up to Sequim to show in conformation this weekend. I know some of my friends think I should have quit on that long ago, but it was just frustrating to be close, and not be able to finish Pirate. I made the decision to enter the show at Sequim, because Pi's son, Tucker, got 2 majors there based on being the only class dog, and getting the crossover points from the bitches. (for those that don't know: in an AKC show, there are points available for each sex, based on how many of that sex are entered. But when they pick the "Best of Winners", if the other sex had more points available, the BW gets that same amount of points. It's called "crossover points")

Anyway, Sequim is a long drive, and hotels there expensive, but for some reason there's always a Stafford entry, but it's usually fairly small. So I decided to enter, and see what the entry was like. In fact, Pirate was the only class dog entered, but there were 5 bitches (one was Mercy), good for 2 points. Pirate needed 4 points, so if the judges each day gave him the crossover, he'd be finished. This is what I was looking for, so I made my (really expensive) hotel reservation, and we went to a dog show.

The idea was to have Pirate looking a clear winner when we went, but he spent the week with GI trouble, so I couldn't feed him up. He lost some of the weight I'd put on him before. But we went anyway. Doubly crossing fingers, now I was hoping that he'd get the crossover points, and also that he wouldn't have more diarrhea.

We did it! Everybody knew we needed the points, so the Winners Bitch didn't show too hard, and Pirate got the needed win both days. That was it. He is now a show champion, and doesn't have to be fattened up again.

They had these new kind of ring gates that are very pretty, and I liked the thought that Pirate couldn't knock them over, but they look an awful lot like a jump.

Winner, day 1:

We went for a walk on the Olympic Discovery Trail, have to enjoy the niceness while we're there. It was rather warm, though, and the part of the trail we walked was blacktop, so pretty hot for the dogs. I let them cool off in the Dungeness River. Pirate just went out and stood there until I made him leave.

(he looks chubby in that photo, but I don't know why. He's not, he's actually almost back down to his very lean agility weight.)

The dogs were also very good in the hotel. Mercy was so good, she got to sleep on the bed instead of in her crate. She was snuggling so nice I couldn't bring myself to put her away. I don't know where she learned to behave in a hotel, we really haven't hoteled it that much since I got her. I sure like having dogs who ignore outside noises when in a hotel room.

Mercy lost pathetically, as she did last weekend at Stumptown. I have another show entered that I'll probably take her to one day of, and will probably go up for the SBTCPS specialty at the end of the month, but otherwise, she'll be put up for another year or so, she's not ready to win. Pirate may show occasionally when he's a veteran, but won't ever be fattened for a show again, so I have no expectations for him.

Play study

I took the dogs to participate in a rather entertaining play study down at OSU this week. We had to go 2 days; one day they were fasted, one day they were fed. So a lot of driving, all the way down to Corvallis two days in a row, but it was For Science. I'm not actually 100% sure what they were studying, though the friend that was helping me the 2nd day was talking to the researcher, and said it was a follow up to something a student had done in a previous experiment.

I needed help, because I had to take all 3 dogs in at once, and it was kind of a circus. The room wasn't terribly dogproof, I thought Mercy was going to break a laptop. Then I took the dogs in, one at a time, into the adjoining empty room where the experiment was held.

First, I had to play with the dog for a couple minutes with a toy (it was a squeaky tennis ball on a rope). After playing with me, the "play assistant" took the toy and played with the dog for a couple minutes. He was very limited in how he played with the dogs, which made them think he was bad at playing, so they were unsure about playing with him. Basically, he wouldn't throw or tug, just encourage the dog to take the toy, and then praise it.

All 3 of mine responded very differently to this. Pirate (who went first) pretty much took the toy into the corner and squeaked it. Occasionally he'd go over and try to smooch the assistant, but he wasn't bringing the toy, since the guy clearly didn't know what to do with it anyway. Mercy, whose toy drive tends to be weak when she's confused pretty much refused to try, and ended up lying behind me. She did go smooch the guy a little, but eventually decided the pressure was too much. Tess tried to get the guy to take the toy. She tried to get me to take the toy. She tossed the toy around a little by herself. She was actually pretty intent on getting the guy to play properly, and on the 2nd day, she looked to me like she was trying to teach him how. If the dog wouldn't pick up the toy, the assistant would pick it up, or wiggle it on the ground by its rope, and so Tess was setting it next to him, and waiting for him to interact with the toy before she'd take it. She looked like when you're using operant conditioning, and you're wanting your dog to take that one. more. step. to get the behavior. "C'mon, you can do it, commit to the toy!"

The 2nd part of the experiment, after the play, was the problem solving. That was a plastic bowl, with a rope through the lid, and a piece of sausage in the bowl. I was supposed to show the dog the sausage, snap the lid on, put it on the floor, and stand back.

I think I didn't get the lid all the way snapped down for Pirate the first day, he had it off in a few seconds. I did better with Mercy. She tried, then she pushed it next to me, then she hid behind me, then she got frustrated and stood in the middle of the room, staring at the door, apparently waiting for better service. Tess did exactly what I expected, which is what she's always done with food puzzle toys. First, flip it over. Since the sausage didn't fall out, then she started biting at it. She broke the bowl, but her snout didn't fit in the hole, so she tore pieces off of it until she could get the snack. Then she tore it up some more.

On the 2nd day, it turned out it didn't matter if I got the lid on tight, Pirate removed it anyway. It did take him a bit longer when it was snapped down all the way, but he clearly knew exactly how it should happen, he just didn't have opposable thumbs. Mercy tried a little longer to get it open, and didn't bother pushing it at me, she just gave up. Tess didn't waste time flipping the bowl over, since that wasn't effective, she just bit the lid in half, and got her snack in about a second. Then she tore up the bowl anyway. The assistant started picking up the bowl pieces, so she went and stared at him to see if he'd give her more sausage.

I thought it was pretty interesting to see how different they all were, despite being so closely related and raised in the same environment! Though I do think some of Mercy's lack of effort is because she is still really a puppy. Yes, she's 18 months, and technically an adult, but her behavior is still very puppyish, so I think she expects more help from her family.

I'll be interested to see the results when the study is over.

(picture of Mercy for decorative purposes)

First agility run- success!

Well that was a complete surprise! I had absolutely NO expectations for baby Mercy's first ever competition run in USDAA P1 Jumpers today. Let us count the reasons why not:

1. I only started her on jumping a few weeks ago
2. She's never run a full course. Not more than 5 obstacles in a row, with immediate reward.
3. She's never run outside
4. She loves people. A lot.

I really just went into it with the expectations that we'd get her crazies out with no pressure to succeed.

She did run off to visit the photographer at the beginning, but then she came back and actually... ran agility with me! I couldn't have been happier. Naturally, I then forgot the course. I hadn't thought we would actually be running it, so my walk was minimal. (Rosie asked me why I was walking it, and I said "I have nothing better to do". But it turned out, I did need to.)

Rosie videoed for me. Just my phone, so sorry for low quality (not Rosie's fault, she was an excellent videographer):

I was going to edit out the part where we weren't even in the ring yet, but I can't edit out any of Mercy's cuteness. Just know that it's like 25 seconds before we start to run.

I do wish I hadn't called her back for that jump before the 2nd tunnel, I was totally cueing the tunnel from there, and should have just gone with her. But it's fine, she won't get a complex about it. I mostly managed to stick to my plan of not worrying about what exactly she did if by some crazy chance she tried to run with me. Oh, and she does actually have a start line of sorts, but I decided against trying to use it, because she was super distracted and I wanted to keep her engaged.

I guess I'm going to have to teach this pup some weaves and contacts, she's clearly more ready than I thought.

Grab bag collar

I ordered a new collar which arrived today. It was a frivolous use of my funds under the circumstances, but it was a grab bag collar, I couldn't resist! The collar maker (merriterrier on Etsy) had a bunch of samples, etc that she wanted to clear out, so she offered a grab bag deal: $15 for a small collar, $20 for medium, and I think $25 for large? (mine are medium, so I didn't look past that) Just order, tell her what size your dog's neck is, and she'll send a collar. Too fun! I did restrain myself more than some people, and ordered just one. I figured that with 3 dogs, all about the same neck size, the new collar had to be good for at least one of them.

It's a beautiful collar! I think the color of it might work best on Pirate (dark brown looks good on him, as he is really more of a dark brown dog than a black one), but it's 1" wide, which width is better for Mercy, and Mercy needs a collar more than Pi does (the one she's been wearing the past year is getting snug, and can't be let out any further)

I did my very best for a photo, but it was hard to do partly because my phone isn't the best camera, and partly because Mercy fails to grasp the "model with a new collar" concept. She wants to look at me, which is understandable, but makes the collar hard to see. Here's my best efforts:

And this picture isn't very good of the collar, but shows her cute little face, and tail blur. I suspect the iPhone will never be able to capture Mercy's tail.

Really doesn't do the collar justice, and I hope to get better photos at some point, I'd like to show the collar maker. The pattern is actually in metallic copper, which is shiny and pretty. It fits pretty well. I'm super happy with the buying experience, that was fun! I'm seeing posts on FB from the other people who got in on the deal, and all the collars are nice.

QQ #14

Not one to rest on her laurels, Tess managed another QQ today, so we wouldn't be stuck on unlucky 13. 2 really nice runs that I was pleased with, the handling secret for the day turned out to be "run like hell"

(I walked front crosses for that JWW course, but when I ran it, the blind crosses felt better, so I used those instead)

Substantially faster in both runs than she was yesterday, so I think the chiro/massage helped her. The JWW course was the easiest course of the weekend, but a nice wind down after a long weekend.

I also got to meet Linda's new puppy, Tucker. I was actually talking to the massage therapist, and then I looked around, saw the puppy, and I was gone. I stole him and carried him around for awhile. Such a sweet, cute puppy!

My own puppy, Mercy, worked on the practice jump, and I was pleased with her ability to work on the jump and not run over to the dog on the other jump. Since she was so good, I took her around to meet people afterwards. I really think she needs more "hanging out" time, as she really settled down when I was standing around talking to people with Mercy on leash. I think a lot of her overly rowdy behavior is because she doesn't get out much. I've kind of neglected her in that regard.

Agility with the old lady

Tess and I are doing 3 days of agility this weekend, rather than our usual 2. I did decide to skip premier and run just the regular classes with her. Pirate is not running, he's on his summer break. I was also a bit concerned about him after his bar-knocking a couple weeks ago.

I had the chiro who is at the trial work on him, and she did find several things. Tweaked pelvis, some issues in his back, and his neck was stuck, I guess. I think the pelvis is most likely what was causing the knocked bars. I saw a photo of him jumping a triple at that trial, and he had one back paw still on the ground with the other in the air. He doesn't typically jump unevenly like that, makes sense that the pelvis could cause it. He was really reluctant for the chiro to work on him, and that isn't like him at all, he usually loves bodywork, so I got him a massage too. He liked having his neck worked on (she said it was tight), but rolled on his back when Peggy tried to work on the one side of his rear. Definitely some soreness there. He's been grouchy with the girls lately too, also not like him, so I think he's been in some pain.

Tess was all about finding the wrong end of tunnels yesterday (she's being inconsistent about which end she prefers. Used to always be the end furthest away from me, but now sometimes she decides to take the closer end instead. Since she's a bit random about it, I don't know how to handle these things.) Today, she QQ'd, but caused me some concern. This is her Standard run, on a fun course (IMO):

I was actually glad she didn't read the rear cross at the double, because I didn't think I could beat her down the DW for the front cross, without which I'd have lost her to the tunnel. When I saw her start the wrong way, I seized my chance and took off, it gave me just enough time to beat her down there.

The one thing, which doesn't seem noticeable in the video, is her weaves were off. From my vantage, it's like she almost stopped, and then started again very slowly, finally getting back up to speed. I can't really see it in the video, I don't know why not. I decided to run JWW anyway and see how she did. She was brisk in the weaves there, but I felt like there was a little hitch to how she ran. So she ended up with chiro & massage too. Her jumping was great, just the weaves not like I'm used to seeing them.

Back tomorrow. Next weekend is Mercy's debut!