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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

September 2015

I went to a Scientific Illustration Workshop for Stream Team in Jefferson City.  Half of it was a review of invertebrate identification.  I didn't think I needed that part, but I apparently did.  We learned some good basics of scientific illustration, at least for creatures in a certain size range. I think I can adapt it for use in my classes, which was my goal from the beginning.

Stacey and I decided to do the Mutt Strut in Quincy, which is coming up shortly.  I've been running to train for it.  I still don't like running.  It still hurts and is generally unpleasant.  At least the dogs like it.  I have benefited from the overall good feeling of being in a little better shape.  It's been a while.

I've been taking Isabel to agility classes at the Quincy Kennel Club.  It has been enlightening.  She is physically capable of doing all the obstacles, as she is fast and agile.  We have been practicing many skills, such as basic obedience and jumping since she took up residence in our house last winter.  She's also one of the smartest  dogs I've ever seen, capable of learning in one or two trials.  Her problem is her great shyness.  At the first class, before the first obstacle, she pooped on the floor.  At the second class, she was doing great until I hooked her lead on one of the poles, which made a big noise and cause the apparatus to move.  Then she refused to go over the jumps.  We must attribute that one to operator error.  I was extremely careful in the third class not to make any mistakes.  She did great on almost everything except the A frame, which was new.  At the fifth class she had mastered enough obstacles and overcome shyness enough to complete several obstacles, and in the end we ran a short course: weave poles, A frame, tire, wait table, dog walk, and tunnel.  I think it was the first time she revealed her potential.  I was very happy with her performance.  She has also become less shy around people, often greeting them upon first meeting.

We have practiced in part by stopping at various playgrounds and running her through the tunnels and up and down steps, swinging bridges, and whatever they had.  I think that was good preparation.  We have been jumping through a hula hoop for a long time.  That's our substitute for a tire. I have cobbled together a poor man's agility course in my yard.  I use my loading ramps and archery block target for a dog walk.  I have various poles that I run from the trees to the fence in the back yard for bar jumps.  I had some fiberglass electric fence posts that I placed in an array for weave poles.  I was using my step ladder for hind foot awareness, but I don't think it's necessary any more.  I found a 2x10 that was an old bed rail and made it into a teeter totter.  I made the base by carving a log with my chainsaw.  We haven't tried using it yet. We'll wait until it is introduced in class, as I know it's a difficult one and I don't want to screw up her introduction to it.

I spent an afternoon with my friends the Gonnerman's while they launched a series of model rockets.  This has been one of Chris's hobbies for a long time.  He leads a 4H group, and they do launches a couple of times a year.  I was invited to be a photographer.  I got a few good shots and enjoyed the launch.  I haven't seen it done since I was a kid.  There was quite the diverse array of rockets.  One was almost lost, but later recovered.  One was damaged on impact, but overall there were few malfunctions or problems.  The monarchs were migrating like crazy and there was a bald eagle soaring high above our field for part of the time.

I gave a talk at the local Catholic High School (QND) on Costa Rica, and the next day gave one for POLIS, which is mostly retired folks.  There is a dramatic difference between the audiences.  When you crack a joke for high schoolers, they all go nuts and never want to quiet down.  Seniors will laugh, but recover quickly so that the speaker can continue.

In other dog news, we got Indigo over her illness.   We were relieved when she was diagnosed with a bad case of intestinal worms (hookworms and nematodes). This was welcome news because it's an easy cure. We had fought her affliction for three weeks, with misdiagnoses of garbage gut, pancreatitis, and others. She had been hospitalized once, and we were considering exploratory surgery. Finally, a fecal smear turned up large numbers of worm eggs (a previous one was negative). She also had a bump below her ear that we thought could be cancer, but turned out to be an abscess. Let us be thankful!  The abscess has since drained and been treated with antibiotics.  It is now hard to find any remnant of it.  Indigo is just as spunky as ever she was.  Stacey is considering training her to be a therapy dog.  She is great with people, she just needs to learn some special obedience behaviors.

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