Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer School

I'm taking summer classes this semester in order to finish up my degree.  I don't have much nice to say about my online classes, but my on-campus class is great.  Even better is the fact that I actually have to go out to campus.

At UWGB we complain a lot that our campus is so 'removed from civilization'.  It's nothing like Madison where you're right in the heart of the action - it's really quite isolated.  This can be a bad thing, but it also can be really great.  We have a large arboretum laced with hiking/biking trails and full of wildlife.  It truly is a beautiful place.  Sadly, many people don't take the time to enjoy it - especially not during Spring and Fall semesters.

Last week I saw a doe in the field I walk through to go to class, but I didn't have my camera.  I asked her nicely to come back and see me this week when I have my camera back from my parents.  She kindly obliged.


You can't see it in this picture, but she actually had a friend with her off to the right.  I didn't see the second one until I started walking away to go to class.  
Last week she was within 20 yards of me eating under a big tree and actually craned her neck around the tree to watch me walk away down the trail.

During break time from my class I headed over to the courtyard of MAC Hall to take some pics.  I LOVE the grapevine growing up the pergola over the benches in the courtyard.  Someday, I simply must have a pergola!



Some Morning Glories are fighting their way through the grapevine, too.  I love Morning Glories!



There was also some coreopsis in the courtyard garden in full bloom.  I personally like the ones with the burnt orange centers, but these were pretty.



Purple Coneflower, too!


There are lots of gorgeous Cat Tails in the marshy areas.


Then, I decided I would crash through the woods a little to see what I could find.  Considering I was wearing crocks, I'm not sure this was the brightest idea I had all day.



I've been very jealous of the 'bumble bee pictures' I see other people taking.  I'd never tried taking one before.  I also didn't have a clue how to get my darn camera to take one.  I messed with some of the settings for a bit and miraculously figured it out.


WOAH!  I've never been able to take a picture like that before.  Very cool!
I just love this color pink!


So, I started stalking bumble bees.


Darn it bee, come over to this side!


WOOOHOOOO!  I did it!


Ok, now I'm addicted.

Right about here is when I realized I was standing on an ant hill and I had ants climbing all over my feet and in my shoes.  Gross!  Relocate!


Look how cute they are!


Ok, really, I can't stop.


Oohhh!  Coooool!


Last one, I SWEAR!


Ok, sorry.  
There's cool stuff EVERYWHERE!!




Ohhh  preeeettty!

Even the dead stuff is cool


Grass is cool, too.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how going to school becomes NOT boring!

Go enjoy nature!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Woah, what just happened?

Ok, so... that was an interesting topic to start with for my Weekend Rants.


Anyway, Mom and Dad are back from the East Coast with my camera.  I'm sure I'll have to listen to the story behind every picture they took to get it back, but that's ok.

I don't remember who I was talking to earlier this week, but I told them that my parents were just on "regular vacation", that no gravestone hunting was involved.  Well, I lied.  I talked to my mom last night and she told me she found the grave of our oldest known relative in the US... 10 headstones down the row from Paul Revere.  Way cool!  I'll post a pic as soon as I get one.

I also need to teach mom how to "do that blogging business".  I want her to start a blog about our ancestors.  I think it would be so cool to have all the pictures and stories she has collected posted for other genealogy (and regular) people to find.  

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekend Rant: HSUS

Back around Christmas I posted about donating to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).   Given that I recently decided I would allow myself to express a maximum of one rant a week on my blog (friends would probably tell you I could provide one rant per day if I were feeling particularly motivated) and that the HSUS has been particularly involved in attempts to destroy things that are important to me and my 'dog friends' - I felt it would be fair to bring them up again.

I NEVER give my money to this organization.  Let me tell you why.

First, I don't appreciate being deceived.
Many people believe that when they give their money to the HSUS, it is going to the dogs, cats, and other animals in need of care.  They believe this because the HSUS goes to great lengths to trick them into believing it.  Sadly, it's not true.  You can read about one specific example of this here.  See, that place in your city often called the "Humane Society" that houses homeless dogs and cats hoping to be adopted is NOT The Humane Society of the United States.  They are in no way affiliated.  I know, sneeky, right?  The money you give to the HSUS is not really going to the care of those pets sitting in kennels in your town.  It's going to things like lobbyists, advertising, and board member salaries.  The HSUS is an animal rights group (much like PETA), NOT an animal care taking, fostering, or adopting organization.  In fact, many people call HSUS "PETA in a suit and tie".  There really isn't that much difference between the two.  Both are extremist groups, and both have ideals that do NOT represent the interest of the average animal lover or pet owner.

I want my money to go where I think it's going.  I don't like being tricked.  I want my money to go to the local dogs and cats who need it - not to a million dollar board of directors.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I think things like lobbying aren't important.  They are.  Lobbying is the way many of the GOOD animal welfare laws have been brought to the attention of legislators and passed.  Unfortunately, the HSUS fails here as well.  One of the laws the HSUS is currently trying to stuff down our throats would allow the (what is now) illegal search and seizure of the homes of dog owners / breeders who have more than 3 un-neutered dogs.  The "cover story" for the law is that it will help crack down on animal abuse.  The GIGANTIC problem is that it completely tramples on the rights of anybody who owns more than 3 dogs.  The simple reality is that a huge percentage of GOOD dog breeders out there own more than 3 un-neutered dogs AND they raise their puppies in their homes - the way they should (in my opinion).  A private home cannot be 'certified' by the USDA and therefor the breeder is open to having their home searched and their dogs taken from them.  Also, there are already laws prohibiting animal abuse, it's enforcement that's the problem - not a lack of laws.  (Of course, they don't want to talk about that part because anybody who takes a good hard look will see clearly that the lack of proper enforcement is a direct result of corruption, not a lack of legal ammunition.) 


This is an incredible threat to the health of many dog breeds.  Without those dedicated breeders, all we are left with is the average person who thinks their dog is great and decides to breed just because he can.  THOSE are the breeders who fill shelters and THOSE are the dogs who are often in for a lifetime of suffering due to health problems passed down to them because the person who bred them never bothered to make sure he was breeding healthy dogs instead of 'cute' dogs.

I don't speak from lack of experience on this topic.  Trust me.


One day, I'll tell you about this beautiful boy.  
I'm particularly emotional this week, so it's just not in me today.


Do not take my words to mean I don't think people should rescue.  That's not the case.  Both of my mutts are rescues and both of them are amazing dogs.  My Lilly came from one of the best foster Moms I could possibly ask for - I send her updates and pictures all the time and she's even going to come watch us compete in Rally this fall.  As far as I am concerned, a rescue dog is often well worth the risk.  HOWEVER, losing the exceptional purebred breeding stock found in the homes of thousands of exceptional breeders across the US would not just be a shame, it would be an outright tragedy... and a deep infringement on the rights of citizens.  

THIS is why I NEVER give money to the HSUS and I do not buy from companies who advertise for or give donations to them, either.  I find the best way to donate is by giving supplies the shelter in your area needs.  When I see the brand of dog food my local shelter uses on sale - I buy some.  When paper toweling is on a great sale - I buy a bunch.  When my dogs get bored with some of their toys, I wash them and donate them.  Many pet supply stores even have a bin you can put the stuff in right there so you don't have to make a special trip out to the shelter.  And if I ever decide to give money - I'll give it directly to the shelter or rescue I want it to go to. 

Educate yourself, and ask questions.  The dogs will thank you for it.

I use a stat counter for my blog because I'm always curious where people who happen upon my blog are from, etc.  I darn near fell out of my chair when I looked and saw over 400 page loads yesterday from places all over the country.  After a little searching, I discovered that HumaneWatch shared my post on Facebook.  So, welcome to my dorky little blog, HumaneWatch Facebook people.

Ex Scientia, Veritas et Virtus   (latin: "from knowledge, truth and power")  
When I finally graduate, these words will be tattooed on me.  I know of no more true words to be uttered.
Being an organization who seeks to empower and enlighten, I commend HumaneWatch for their hard work.  If you are not familiar, please check them out.  www.humanewatch.org  (I don't agree with everything you will find on the site, but I still think it's well worth a look.  The more you know, the better choices you can make.)

PLEASE NOTE, this blog is not and will never be for the purpose of stirring up controversy or argument.  If you read my other posts, you will see that it's simply the story of me and my dogs.  Nothing more.  Anybody who actually knows me, knows exactly how I feel about farm animals and anybody who just happens to stumble upon this one post really doesn't have any grounds on which to attack me personally.  Take it elsewhere, I'm not interested.   

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Criminology Paper

My very last semester of my college career includes a Criminology class. Sociology is not my major, but I do find it very interesting. I also find the professor who teaches it to be extremely interesting.

For the class, I will be writing a term paper using a criminologic theory to evaluate a particular kind of crime. Here is my proposal for the paper I plan to write.

Does Culture Play a Significant Role in the Prevalence of Dog Fighting Among Americans?
Subculture Theory in Evaluation of Dog Fighting Crimes.

I propose to consider subculture theory as it pertains to dog fighting crimes in the United States.  Culture, representing the norms that both guide behavior and determine the way behavior is judged by the majority, is a socially shared phenomenon.  A subculture, therefore, is a distinctive culture within a culture where norms and values differ from the majority.  Subculture theory in criminology argues that certain subcultures in society exhibit norms that may be conducive to participation in particular crimes and violence.  Subculture theory explains that these groups may create a sense of community to combat alienation and regain power by forming their own new and different culture.  This development of separate cultural norms among different ethnic and regional groups may explain the existence of cultures in the US where dog fighting is accepted despite the majority culture being in opposition to it.  Critical assessment of subculture theory in evaluation of dog fighting participation may help to understand how and why these behaviors continue to pervade in the United States despite their legal and social consequences.

Are you intrigued?  I am.  I'm quite excited about getting started on my research, especially regarding the history of dog fighting.  (my preliminary research has already revealed some facts I think most would find to be quite surprising)
You're going to have to be patient.  The paper isn't due until Thursday July 15 by 12:00 noon - so it won't be done until Thursday June 15 at 11:59am.  It's how I roll.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Delinquent Dogs aka Never Be Willing to Pay Fees for ANYTHING

Yesterday I had to call one of my credit card companies, and I learned a very valuable lesson.

First, a little background on how I got to that point.

On May 2, Bailey was outside at my parents' house when the neighbor's 3 dogs (one of them being their delinquent son's delinquent dog) came out and started fence fighting with him.  Normally he doesn't get very upset, but this time they set him off and he ran up to the fence and started barking back.  I yelled at him, but his hearing isn't what it once was and I don't think he heard me.  The delinquent hound dog actually pushed his way under the chain link fence and attacked Bailey.  He bit him in the face.  It was a pretty serious gash.  A $300 trip to the Emergency Vet resulted in 2 layers of subcutaneous sutures and 7 staples in his face.  Despite the fact that I did not allow the vet to anesthetize Bailey (much to her irritation, I'm sure), she did a pretty awesome job of closing it up.


While at the vet clinic, even thought my parents were willing to help me out, I decided to apply for Care Credit.  I was approved.  Ultimately, the neighbors paid for half the cost.  I now think that was a mistake to accept only half, but at the time we thought the injury might be a result of the fence rather than the dog.

What's done is done.

So, that brings us to yesterday.  I had sent a payment for the Care Credit card the other day and it came back to me RTS because there was no stamp on it.  I don't know how it ended up with no stamp on it, but it did.  I decided to call the company and see if I could make a payment using my debit card over the phone.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Is it possible for me to make a payment using my debit card?
CC Lady:  Oh, yes, you can do that.
Me:  Is there a fee for doing so?
CC Lady:  (I think Indian accents are cool, but a combo of road noise and a soft spoken Indian woman rendered me deaf)
Me:  How many dollars?
CC Lady:  Fifteen, One-Five, maam
Me:  Oh, well, then forget it.  I guess you'll have to wait for a check.
CC Lady:  Let me see if I can waive the fee.  (2 second pause)  Ok, how much would you like to pay?
Me:  So... you're NOT charging me ANY fees at all, right?
CC Lady:  No, you don't have to pay the fee, I can waive it.
Me:  Ok, I would like to pay...

The moral of the story...

Naughty hounds who never get any exercise or training are not evil, but the owners who allow them to get that way are.
Never be willing to pay for fees, delivery charges, or anything of the like - the charge will magically disappear because they want your money, and they want it NOW.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why nothing gets done around here...

I take the sugar container out of the cupboard, walk over to the sink to get a cup of water, and come back to this...


I simply can't work in these conditions!  I'm going on strike.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pond Progress

Earlier this month I made a video of the dogs and me hanging out by the pond.  Since then there have been a few additions and lots of plant growth in and around the pond.  Also, sadly, there has been some plant death.  All the rain we got last week caused some of my potted plants to throw in the towel.  They simply could not dry out and some of the main stems just plain rotted out.

Here's a refresher of what the pond looked like last year after the initial installation and planting.


The plants were a little sparse, and the fake water lilies floating on the top were just plain ridiculous.  The "beach" on the front was cute, but it just didn't last.

Here's what things looked like earlier this year.  This was taken right after I bought some new pond plants and finished planting the pots.  The new plants consisted of a nice new Pickerel (left) and some water hyacinth (back right).  You can't see it in the front right, but last years Pickerel is trying it's best to survive after I made the mistake of putting it out to early.  The "beach" was destroyed by the dogs last year and had to go, and has been replaced by more durable gravel.

May 2010

May 2010

Here's what the pond looks like today.  One of the dappled willow bushes has completely given up on life and been removed (replaced by a planter to keep the dogs from smashing the plants behind the pond) and some of the potted plants have been switched out.  I bought a zebra rush at the garden fair, and it's looking lovely right in the middle.  My dad gave my an iris plant that is now in the front right, and I simply cannot wait for the morning glories climbing the back fence to start getting the sun they crave so they will start blooming!  And holy cow do water hyacinths grow fast!  I've already got a number of branches coming off them to form new plants.  (I think I know why people like them so much!)

June 2010

June 2010

The very first Morning Glory flower of the summer.

I don't know why, but I think this picture is way cool.


I can't believe how big the fish are getting.


Happy Ponding, 


Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Fake Father's Day Fishing Expedition

This past Wednesday, for fake Father's Day (since my parents are somewhere on the East coast right now, we had Father's Day early) my Dad, Grandpa, and I went on a little fishing trip.  (if my brother is reading this, he should know that he is currently on the sh*t list for not showing up to any of the fake Father's Day events)

Since Dad and I haven't figured out just exactly where in the world we would keep a boat if we got one, we still have to rent. (My kayak only holds one person and a dog or two.)  We went to Dittman's rentals and got an aluminum row boat on Shawano Lake.  I'm not just speaking for myself when I say we didn't really expect to catch much in the way of fish.  We never do.  Papa and I were in charge of picking out the boat and we immediately agreed that the one right next to the dock with a big fat night crawler in the bottom of it was a good choice. 

Apparently, the key to fishing for us is to come totally unprepared.  The first "big catch" happened only seconds after I dropped my line in the water.  I yanked a bit too hard to "set the hook" and launched my line clear over the other side of the boat.  I could have sworn I saw a tiny fish fly off and land in the boat.  It was on Dad and PaPa's side and they told me I was crazy, they didn't see any fish in the boat.  Five minutes later, sure enough, they finally discovered it.  I'm sure I gave that poor little perch the ride of his life.
Not long after, Dad baited his hook with the free night crawler from the bottom of the boat and caught a nice 18" Large Mouth Bass.  PaPa caught a nice Crappie, too.  I was the Queen of the baby fish (but I did catch a few nice pan fish).  According to Dad, catching those little tiny fish takes skill because they're hard to set the hook on.  I'm not sure what exactly that skill is useful for since you don't actually keep the babies, but I'll go with it. 


We had a blast!   

On a side note:  this picture was taken using my old broken camera.  It takes pictures, but you don't really know what you're taking a picture OF.  So, you just point it in the general direction and pray.  It took about 10 pictures, but I finally got this one.  I miss my camera.  It's somewhere on the East coast with Mom and Dad right now.  (and of course, we had a gorgeous sunset here the other night)

What, you ask, does any of this have to do with my dogs?
Well, none of the fishermen actually have any plans to eat any of these fish themselves.  They're all in the freezer waiting to become dog food.
As PaPa wisely said, "I ain't cleanin' no fish.  If I want fish I'll go order a perch plate at the supper club."

Happy Real Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our first Rally Trial

A couple years back, I remember talking with a trainer-friend of mine who told me about a hunt test she and her dog had been to the previous weekend.  Her dog had performed beautifully on what turned out to be an extremely difficult test.  She mentioned that her dog's achievement rivaled the feeling she had when her kids graduated High School.  She had a tear in her eye and frog in her throat when he finished his final retrieve.  Just listening to her tell me about it, I could hear the excitement in her voice. 

Non-dog people don't get that.  They think we're crazy.  We probably are.  But only a little.


Truth be told, I'm more excited about my Lilly getting her Rally title than about getting my bachelor's degree.  I realize that in the grand scheme of life, my ability to get a better job and make more money for us is a bigger deal, but my excitement level is not in line with reality.

I'll probably tell you about my graduation when I officially graduate in August; but for now, let's talk about more important things.  ;)

Last weekend Miss. Lilly and I headed to Ixonia, WI for the Milwaukee Dog Training Club's Obedience and Rally trial.  (Let it be noted I now know how to get to Oconomowoc WITHOUT getting lost.)

We were going to head to the campground at Kettle Moraine State Forest on Friday afternoon, but the weather man promised a doosie of a storm.  The weather man pretty much lied.  We left on Saturday morning anyway.

Since I'm already getting impatient and can't hold it in any longer, I'll just tell you how we did:

Saturday we took 3rd place with a score of 94 (out of 100)
Sunday we took 3rd place with a score of 97 (out of 100) 

3rd Place

In Rally, a 70 out of 100 is passing.  I knew my girl could do it, but since she's never even been to a show before I was VERY pleasantly surprised at how awesome we did our first weekend out.  I expected to be "happy we qualified" rather than "I can't believe we placed".

After we collected our first set of pretty ribbons we headed to the campground and got set up.  It wasn't long before Miss Lilly was wondering if perhaps I had forgotten she had not eaten her lunch yet.  I commenced to making some hot dogs after starting what turned out to be a nightmare of a fire.  It may not have been raining, but the air was heavy with moisture and nothing under the sun was completely dry.

I call this my "hands-free" weenie maker.

Miss Lilly was glad to get her weenie.



But for a dog who eats raw meat every day, she sure had some issues.  She kept setting the darn thing down in the dirt.  Then making "the face" because it had dirt and pine needles stuck to it. 

I felt bad for her, so I finally brought it over to her mat, and broke it in half so she could figure it out.


After eating I thought she might like to take a walk around the campground so we headed into the tent so I could change and get ready for a walk.  Little Miss was so tired she hopped right up on the air mattress and curled up for a nap.  


After our walk, the poor girl could hardly keep her eyes open.  We went to bed extra early.  I bought a magazine to read in bed, but was far more tired than I thought - I only lasted for about 5 pages.


We got up bright and early for breakfast.

What?  You act like you've never seen bagels toasted on weenie sticks before.

Took a couple pictures.


And headed back to the kennel club for our second day in the ring.


All-in-all it was a GREAT weekend!


Bailey was not fellin' it for the photo op.