Monday, July 27, 2009

My Inner Athlete

I didn't grow up playing sports of any kind. In fact, Kev had to teach me how to throw and catch a ball while we were dating. I tried out for my middle school track team once thanks to much persuasion from the coach. She thought I would be perfect for hurdles due to my tall and lanky build. There was just one major oversight in her plan - she didn't realize how uncoordinated I was. It looked like I had been beaten about the shins with a bat after the first practice. Needless to say, I didn't run track. I'm just not an athlete at heart.

Based on my girly nature, I guess most people would expect me to have a fufu dog, not an athletic one. And while greyhounds can easily be treated like cream puff dogs, I've realized that they are happiest when they can be the athlete they are born to be. So I've been in search of something that will allow my girls to express their inner athlete while allowing me to bond with them.

We gave lure coursing a shot and Seka took to it like a duck to water. It is fun, but for the handler, there's not a lot of skill involved. And let's be honest, when it comes to training a greyhound to course, there's really nothing to it. It will either chase the bunny (plastic bag), like Seka does, or it won't, like Roxy. I'd also like to mention that coursing isn't for the faint of heart. Dogs get hurt regularly on the field, sometimes in dramatic fashion.

I watch all of the sporting dog competitions on ESPN and Animal Planet with envy, wishing my girls could possibly do these things. Dock diving. Fly ball. And the creme del la creme - agility. Agility is a total team sport between dog and handler. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. You also have to have access to these types of training facilities near you. I live in the middle of nowhere which makes signing up for a quality beginners class nearly impossible without a 2 hour drive one way.

Thanks to Facebook, I connected rather randomly with one of my former 7th grade teachers who by chance is huge into agility. They have shelties who live to work in the backyard, climbing the a-frame or shooting a tunnel.
When I expressed my interest in seeing her dogs work, they invited me over for an introductory session so I could see what I was getting myself into. I was instantly hooked. Just a couple of weeks later the girls and I found ourselves at the local ag center for a huge agility trial watching my new mentor compete with their two champions (Duke, MACH II, is pictured above). The next week I had Seka and Roxy in their backyard learning to jump. I think they say the rest is history.

Roxy has been slow to come around. She's a fruit loop after all and lacks confidence, but she has the build and brains to be great. Seka on the other hand cannot get enough (I think you can see the look on her face in the pic to the right). She will go out in the backyard on her own and jump over the two makeshift jumps I have created while we wait for our professional practice jumps to arrive. It cracks me up to watch her have her own practice sessions.

They aren't jumping at competition height yet (24 or 26 inches - see the wirehaired pointer to the right), but after three weeks with little access to equipment, Seka is successfully putting two jumps together and jumping on the table without hesitation. The tunnel on the other hand is a tad bit scary and I'm sure it will take awhile. While Kev was watching all of the dogs run at the Perry trial, he said he couldn't imagine a greyhound on the teeter or dog walk. I have to admit I'm a bit intimidated by these elements too. Just as long as they don't end up looking like I did at the end of my first day of track practice I'll consider it a success.

Most readers of this blog may also read Jen's blog and know of her amazing agility greyhounds. They are just two of the very few in the country competing in the sport. I'm a huge fan to say the least. Jen is my greyhound yoda. I cannot wait until my girls are at a point to where I can take my girls to a private agility session with her. But right now, I think I would be reliving the time I tried to play intramural volleyball in college and ended up being hit in the face so often that I had to wear a hat to cover the bruise on my forehead for a week.

Maybe my girls can help me channel my inner athlete, at least enough to make them look good out on the agility course. Fingers crossed - and shoelaces tied.

Friday, July 17, 2009


We took a lot of road trips when I was growing up. In fact, I've been to 49 of the 50 states, via road trip (well, I did fly to Hawaii). The ability to keep two girls from fighting like cats and dogs in the back of the van for hours on end was an impressive gift my father and mother both possessed. I guess it helped that I never got car sick from reading in the car and my sister and I both loved to play a variety of games in the car. We could ride for upwards of 10 hours without killing each other, until we got to the hotel - then all bets were off.

From the traditional "I Spy" and "Road Bingo" to the more creative "Counting Cows" game that my mom made up, we enjoyed playing those games even when we got to be teenagers. Another family favorite, spurred by my father's love of geography, was writing down all of the state license plates (or county names if we were just traveling in the state of Georgia - we have 159) we would see on a road trip. The person to see the largest number of plates from differing states by the time we would get to where we were going would "win."

If you saw a vanity plate, and could figure out what it said, it counted double. This has always made me secretly want a vanity plate. I even tried to get Kev a Red Sox-oriented vanity plate for his birthday a few years ago, but even in the state of Georgia, Red Sox nation is going strong and everything I could come up with was already taken - and I came up with 15 different options.

So, here are the ideas I have for my greyhound-oriented vanity plate that I secretly want and will probably never get. But maybe one day a kid who is playing a silly car game on the way to Disney, instead of watching a DVD, with his or her family will get double points when they see my tag.

Vote for your favorite at the poll to the right. Who knows? Maybe it will happen after all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


This household has not been too lucky when it comes to digits lately. I'm not referring to landing some hot guy/dog's phone number. I'm talking about useful digits - phalanges, snappers, fingers.

Here's our digit drama in chronological order.

Seka's Laser Corn Removal
She had a corn removed from each of her back feet at the end of May and was lame for weeks. WEEKS. For a few days she couldn't walk at all and I had to carry all 68 pounds of her up and down the stairs for potty time and help support her for the act itself. This was NOT fun. But after four weeks of recovery, we've finally turned a corner. She's perked up, and is using all four of her feet most of the time.

For awhile there I thought we had made a huge mistake as the incisions were very deep and pretty scary to look at. There were nights of tears that I thought she might not get better, but she is way better off after making it through the long healing process. Did I mention the incisions had to be left open, uncovered and draining the whole time. Thank goodness I have own a carpet cleaner.

Note to all corn dog owners out there - pads could be the slowest things to heal on a dog. But laser corn removal is a good solution according to all of the experts I've spoken to, including Dr. Couto at OSU.

Roxy's Run in with a Door
Roxy lacks the patience that other greyhounds have. She bounces around and cries when she is bored. She doesn't like to wait, even when mom has her hands full and is the only one around with opposable thumbs that can actually open the door she is dying to go through.

Needless to say, when she gets all out of her head, bad things can happen and this is the second time such an incident has happened with a door. The first time she was trying to chase a hot blue dog out of our hotel room (who could blame a girl). This time, she was just being a pain and attempted to walk through a slit in the door the size of a dime and got her toe caught under it.

Three stitches and two feet of vet wrap later and you would have thought we had amputated her entire leg. Dr. Couto has said that greyhounds adapt very easily to a leg amputation because of the way they are built. Roxy milked those stitches and bandage for three days by using only three legs. It even took me taking her to our vet to have the bandage removed because of her screaming and biting (yes biting). Once the offending bandage was removed - all was right in the world.

Now we are just dealing with the tasty wound that has replaced the stitches. She sports a toddler sock and vet wrap most of the time as she would rather lick her toe into a bloody stump than actually let it heal. Why are gooey, oozy, bloody wounds a tasty traveling treat?

Louie's Leash Lashing of my Ligament
Meet Louie. This is my brother-in-law's eight month old lab puppy. Louie is a love bug, but isn't very confident. While we vacationed in MA for seven days, I did some training with Louie. We played clicker games, took walks, learned some basic commands and had a great time - until we walked past other dogs that is. Louie either really likes other dogs or doesn't really like other dogs - hard to tell when there's a lot of barking and leash pulling from an otherwise very submissive dog.

So, I walked the neighborhood with him, passing by several dogs and he did well with some corrections, marking and treats. I don't know what set him off. It could have been a taunting squirrel for all I know (he didn't like those either), but the leash got wrapped around the ring finger on my left hand and twisted it like a pretzel with a snap on the end. Needless to say, it was black for three days and totally swollen. Don't ask me how it happened? The only answer I have for you is I'm a donkey and things like this tend to happen to me.

Now the swelling has gone down and the color is somewhat normal. It is still painful to touch and Kev and I like to debate if it is broken or not. But really, what do you do for a broken finger? Um, typing blog posts probably isn't great, but I've never been one to follow the rules.

So, that's the summary of our digitally-challenged group around here. Seka is the best patient in the house. She follows doctors orders perfectly. Roxy, is the cry baby. Me? I'm tough (aka hard headed). But ask me again in a week when I have to go to the ER and have my finger reset while holding a stick between my teeth because it's healed all crooked and weird.