Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Traditions

 As an atheist, my Christmas isn't about the birth of Christ - it's about tradition.  For me, since childhood, Christmas has always just been about being with family and celebrating the gift of each other.  Years ago, we all squeezed into my grandmother's living room and proceeded to open a giant pile of gifts.  As a kid, this was the coolest thing ever.  I mean, really - what kid doesn't want to be surrounded by wrapping paper and toys?  Today, I take so much more joy in just having a relaxing day to be with my family.  With or without a god in my life, Christmas has always been an important tradition for me and my family. 
Some people would probably say it's a disrespectful way to celebrate Christmas... that it's not ok to call my celebration "Christmas" because Christmas is a religous holiday.  They are probably right to some degree.  I have attempted to come up with other names for it, but it doesn't seem to be catching on.  Of course, if that's really the case, we should probably stop calling people in a legal union "married" since that is a religous concept as well.  It's hard to know where to draw the line. 

More recently, Christmas Eve has become a more major tradition among my immediate family.  I like to call it "Seafood Feast Day".  It's the day I look forward to in the way many people get excited about Thanksgiving.  To me, turkey is dog food - Christmas Eve / Seafood Feast Day is when the truly awesome food hits the table and my mouth waters.       

Oh, yeah - that's totally a pitcher of butter right there.

This year, my brother rocked our socks by getting us lobster tails.  Did I ever mention that my brother is the coolest guy I know?  Well, he is... and not because he bought us lobster tails.  

There was also shrimp scampi and king crab legs.  I meant to get more pictures, but I was kinda busy stuffing my face.  Nobody leaves the table hungry on this day, that's for sure. 

The best thing about Seafood Feast Day is that we hang out at my Mom and Dad's house for the rest of the evening and exchange gifts, play games, and laugh until we can't breathe (usually as a result of one of my brother's perfectly timed jokes).  At one point during a rousing game of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" my Mom was laughing so hard I was trying to remember whether or not I knew CPR.

I hope everybody enjoyed (or will enjoy) their own holiday traditions this month. 


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I still don't know who I'll end up with, so I included all the possible Mendels.  As you can see, there's one possible Mendel that is particularly on the naughty side.


Thanks to ArticCross Samoyeds for the great 5 week pictures! 

And here's an Oldie but a Goodie of Mr. Bailey in his Santa hat
He looks young with his muzzle still so dark back then.


per·se·ver·ance: steady persistence in a course of action in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement

"Lilly, get out from behind the pond."
"Lilly, get out from behind the pond."

"Lilly, you know everything past the little fence is the pond."

"Lilly, you're still in the pond"
"Lilly...   oh, forget it"

What's that Mom? You give up? You're not even going to bother to yell at me for being back here anymore? 

Yeah. That's what I thought.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


***Note, this post was written a week ago, but clearly never posted for some reason.  It seems a little lame to post it now, but I'm going to do it anyway just because the picture is so pretty.** 

Let me show you what it looks like in my neck of the woods right now.  I'm the red X.

radar you are here

Isn't it just positively BEAUTIFUL!?!
I have been very impatiently waiting for this.  My skis, they have been feeling so terribly neglected.  This afternoon the dogs and I headed outside to prepare the yard for all the snow.  Last year I forgot to take the kayak down before the first big snowfall.  Trying to get it down with a foot of snow on top of it darn near killed me.  Who knew snow could be so heavy?  It was much easier this time, and I finished the task with much less snow down my shirt. 

I have been cooking because, well, there's not a whole lot else to do.  If you're lucky, I'll show you what I made later.   

Puppy Notes

The ticket to Seattle to pick up my puppy next month has been purchased.  The hotel, well, not so much... but I'm working on it. 

Now, It's time to start figuring out which puppy will be best for me.  I'm sure I won't know who I'm taking for sure until I actually get on the plane with him, but here's what I DO know:

Green Boy is very pretty.  He's active, but not the most active in the litter.  This could be a good thing.  He is also looking like he's going to be a little more on the hairy side.  Considering his Dad is a total hairy monster, this could is something to keep on eye on.  Lots of hair can hold in heat and make him more likely to overheat when running in harness. 

Orange Boy is Mr. Cool of the litter.  I'm not gonna lie, I LOVE mellow dogs.  I think he would be extremely easy to live with.  He's so mellow I have to consider the possibility that he's too mellow to really be a good show dog for a first timer.  There is a definite element of showing that involves showmanship and "spunk" and it can be hard for a newbie like me to get it out of a dog who doesn't naturally just have it.  Also, how motivated will he be to run in harness, especially being the only member of the team for a while?  Orange boy will likely have a little less coat than green, which is a plus. 

Pink girl is way cute.  She'll probably have a little shorter coat than some of the others.
But, well, she's a girl and a boy is a better option for me right now.

Purple girl is pretty bold.  She's probably going to be a spunky girl.  However, it's looking like she's likely to be pretty darn hairy for a girl.  Hope whoever takes her doesn't get bossed around by her too much.

Red boy is pretty.  He's got some biscuit markings like his Daddy.  He's definitely got some spunk and made sure his voice was heard on picture day (a couple of his pictures were snapped while he was barking in protest).  I think his head will be pretty and his coat will fall somewhere in the middle.  The breeder says he's just like a mini Rico (his daddy).  I'm interested to see how Mr. Red shapes up structure-wise.

Ah, Mr. Yellow.  I just don't even know what to think about him.  I don't think he's the "prettiest" of the litter, but clearly he does.  He's bold and spunky and extremely smart.  The breeder's fiancĂ©e has already posted on Facebook "Yellow puppy is a pain in the arse.. will be a great ball of trouble and fun for some one who is into agility."  So the question becomes whether this would be a good thing for me, a person who wants to show and do agility and run a sled... or is the puppy pure poison for somebody who also wants an "easy to live with" dog.  I think Lilly would have a heck of a lot of fun with this boy, and I have every intention of doing lots of training,etc. But is this going to be a puppy who continues to "research" possible escape routes from the back yard all day until he figures it out?...  Who just can't adjust on days when I'm sick and can't work him?  Well, I just don't know.  His structure will be a big deciding factor for him.  

On another note, yesterday a friend and I drove to Minnesota near the Twin Cities to "see about a horse".
Am I the only person on earth who likes to say this because it reminds me of Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams character tells his story about going to "see about a girl"?  Yes?  Ok, well, whatever.  
Anyway, my friend is a horse girl.  She found a nice Fresian in Minnesota that is being sold at a VERY good price.  So, we went to see her.  On the way we talked about both horses and dogs, and did a lot of comparing and contrasting between the two "worlds".  When I told her what a puppy like the one I'm getting costs she said she couldn't believe people would pay so much for a DOG when you can get a perfectly good one for $100 at the shelter.  Of course, I smirked and asked her "HOW MUCH is the horse we're going to look at again?  $6,000?  Don't they also have those on Yeah, that's what I thought."  I think after a little bit she started to realize that things are pretty much the same in dogs as they are in horses.  :)

We're slackers and didn't get pictures of the horse, but here's a picture of a Friesian so you know what they look like.  They're very pretty horses.
Horses are funny, though.  Even though they're supposed to be "work animals" the desired gait for many breeds is more about "pretty" and "flashy" than it is about "efficient".  With Samoyeds, as you have read before, we are looking for great efficiency in movement.  Check out this gait of a Friesian horse:

Now, don't quote me on just how "excellent" this horse is, because to be honest I see too much drive from the rear and occasionally he interferes under himself and has to pull up in the front.  But, well, I'm just not a horse girl so I don't know what they like.  Either way, I have to admit it is pretty.  One thing I can say is that he generally has good balanced movement.  Watch his opposing legs and you will see that they move in unison, for example: his right front leg and his back left leg come up and move forward in unison.  When it's balanced like that is really does look lovely.

Notice on that video it says the horse is standing at stud at Blackshire Equestrian.  Apparently, that place is some kind of meca for Friesian people.  Turns out were were like 15 minutes from the place when we went to see the horse and didn't even realize it.  My friend was so bummed we didn't have time to stop there.  If she ends up buying the horse she'll have to make a weekend of it and visit.  

The handy thing for me was that I got to pick up a carrier I will need for the puppy next month while I was in Minnesota.  Bonus!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's love

Allow me to introduce you to the reason it is essential that I ski on a daily basis from now until the snow is gone:


It never fails, the snow begins to fall and I begin to have intense cravings for hot chocolate.  The chocolate wine I picked up on my recent Door County wine tour sure doesn't hurt.  It's magically delicious straight from the bottle, not that I would ever drink wine from the bottle or anything.  

And, of course, my baby is 3 weeks old now - I wouldn't want to deprive you of baby pictures.

Green head
I'm still loving Green Boy's head.  
So far he doesn't appear to have a very strong personality, but I'm keeping my eye on him.

Clearly, he's a little drunk on the milk here.  :)

I'm told that Red is just like his Daddy.  Similar head, has some biscuit coloring.
(Biscuit is the slightly tan-ish color Samoyeds can have, they're not always all white)

Apparently, Mr Orange is seriously mellow. 
I'm keeping a close eye on him, he might be a good choice for me. 

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some hot chocolate calling my name. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jen at Cabin Fever is a Rock Star, just sayin'

If you read my blog with any real regularity, it's probably pretty apparent that I'm a bit scatter-brained at times.  Not with everything.  There are many things I know like the back of my hand and I can be very particular and precise about.

Usually it's the details of things where I tend to get lost.  I am simply not a very detail oriented person with most things.  Friends will ask me if I noticed the terribly ugly shoes somebody was wearing at the mall, and I can pretty much guarantee you the answer is 'no'.  I probably don't even know what shoes *I* happen to be wearing, or if they matched.  When I meet people for the first time, it's pretty common that I have forgotten their name less than 3 minutes after they told me (if I meet their dog, you can bet I'll remember his name, though).  When riding in the car somebody might point something out to me and I'll have forgotten they pointed it out by the time we pass it on the way back in the other direction, it will be completely new to me.   If I had a significant other and he got angry because it seems like I don't pay attention when he says things to me, he'd have a perfectly valid complaint.  (Fortunately, my dogs never seem to mind.)  This is one of my worst qualities.

I've been working on trying to get better about this for years.  I am reminded on an almost daily basis that I need to try harder.  A lot harder.

Last month Jen over at Cabin Fever in Vermont had a photography contest like she does every month.  I love her photography contests.  She comes up with great topics every time.  The subject for November was "Thankful" photos.  Excellent topic!!

It was a pretty easy choice for my photo entries.  I can think of very few things I am more thankful for than this guy:

  beautiful bail     

I remember the Saturday morning I took this picture.  One of many Saturday mornings I spent laying on the floor taking endless pictures of my pets while we lazed around in the sun pouring through the window.  After I snapped this particular picture I crawled over next to Bailey and snuggled right up next to him, which of course prompted him to turn over on his side so I could rub his belly while he took a nap. 

Hmmm... I don't seem to have much trouble remember THOSE details.

The sun doesn't pour in the windows anymore because I work nights and have blackout curtains blocking it out, and Bailey doesn't often sleep on the floor anymore because his orthopedic bed (or my bed) is much easier on his sore joints... but we're still professional nappers around here.

At the end of the month Jen announced the winners and there he was, my boy and his bunny, one of the winning photos.  Below the photo it said to contact Jen to claim our prize.  

And here it sneaks up on me again, that attention to detail I seem to have so much trouble with.  I didn't even know the winner was to get a prize.  When I sent the e-mail to claim my prize I honestly had no idea what I had won.  Imagine my surprise when a $50 gift certificate for from Jen at Cabin Fever showed up in my 'In Box'.  

Let's just say I have a bit of an addiction.  I buy so much stuff they gave me a one year free trial of their "Prime" membership so I even get free shipping.  What a totally SWEET prize!  I pondered for days what I should buy with my winnings.

I finally decided on this book... and a kong for the new baby, of course


It's a book aimed at teaching you to pick apart the structure of a dog and understand what exactly it is about a dog that makes him look "correct" or not.  Often the differences are very subtle that it requires a "skilled eye" to see them.  I'm working on developing that "eye".

It's just another attempt on my part to get better at that whole paying attention to the details thing.  :)

One step at a time... one step at a time...

Thanks Jen, your blog is one of my favorites!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Can't Depend On Snow

It's a great name, really.  "Can't Depend on Snow".  That's what they call this annual race put on every year to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation.  December in Wisconsin, you really can't depend on snow.

Speaking of snow, given that snow has fallen just about everywhere in the Upper Midwest BUT where I live, I'm feeling a little ripped off.  I'm holding onto the idea that maybe this means rather than a few dustings here and there, we will get one nice heavy dump of snow sooner or later... I just have to be patient.  Yeah, that's it, just be patient.

Today, my friend Kat and I headed about an hour and half south to go watch the Can't Depend On Snow sled dog race.  It was quite a lot of fun.   There was just a light covering of snow on the ground which gave racers the option to stick with wheels or go for a sled.  I love seeing the cool dry land rigs people come up with.

So, here's a bunch of pictures from just outside the starting chute:


This picture makes things look like it went smoothly, but these dogs sure gave this poor handler a hard time.

Check it out!  A team of Australian Shepherds!  Sweet!

This rig was nice, with a big 'ol spring under the seat and everything.



A team headed for the finish line.



 In the home stretch, the very definition of "dog tired".
It was obvious a lot of teams hadn't gotten a lot of running in for this year yet, and it wasn't as cold as they dogs would have preferred it (though it was plenty cold for me).


CDOS01_2010.12.04I am relatively certain this team won their class.  The were running as hard through the finish as they were out of the chute.  Clearly they were a very well conditioned team, and their handler is just a little bit crazy to be riding a bike on a slippery golf course with a dusting of snow over it.



It's way cool to see kids handling a team.  This young man had his dogs in the weight pull as well.

That's an awfully big smile for a guy who's rig broke down and he had to run with his team the rest of the way.  His rig is on the trailer behind that big orange Argo-type thing behind him.  This picture makes me feel a little guilty for not getting my butt to the gym today.

This is a 12 dog team a guy had for giving kids sled dog rides.  They went in a big circle, all the while the handler on the rear of the stripped down dune buggy screamed "Right, Right, Right, Right...".  It didn't take long for the dogs to become disenchanted with the whole running in circles idea... and to get hot.

The helpers brought them water every time they stopped to let different kids onto the cart.

Given that this was on a golf course, I was totally shocked the first time I saw the guy throw his snow hook into the turf.  It appears this particular spot is being "remodeled", as you can tell by the tree that has been cut down, so they must not have been too concerned.  In case you have never seen one, this is a snow hook:

Sled Stopper Snow Hook 1
Normally, you would stomp this into the snow to anchor a team so they don't take off on you.  Big teams, like you see in the Iditarod and such often have to be held with more than one hook.  You can imagine bringing a team of twelve dogs to a screeching halt with a hook like that is going to leave a bit of a "divot" in a golf course.  :)
This white husky was the nicest moving one of the bunch.  It was so interesting to watch them run - when most of the team was at a gallop, and he was just trotting along making it look effortless.  It's not hard to see what a difference good movement makes in a sled dog.  I wish I brought my video camera so I could take some video of it.

This lady's dogs had never pulled a rig before.  They were the only Sammies I saw there all day so I had to take some pictures of them.  They were more interested in sniffing around at first.
This was after the race, they borrowed a rig from somebody just to give it a try.

It's a good thing the rig was easy for her to steer.

I won't say too much about this except that this is something you would never see me doing.  I am a bit of a stickler for preparation.  When I help people with training I do everything I can to drill into their heads how incredibly important it is to NEVER set your dog up to fail.  I will freely admit that quite often my dogs are "over prepared" (if that's even possible) for a lot of things, but I can also say that means they don't get thrown into situations they're not prepared to handle.  I have always found that it is 100 times easier to "over plan" an experience for a dog and ensure that they succeed (and do it correctly) than it is to jump in on a whim and wind up having to go back and fix mistakes.

**Please excuse me while I climb down from my soap box, now.**

Fortunately, it seems they did eventually catch on.