Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dead squirrel eater and wet nose

Quick (gross) Marvin story:
Yesterday the boys and I started out on our morning walk when I saw our neighbor with the fenced yard outside. Since I had taken the day off of work I stopped and asked her if I could release the beagles in her yard to run around with her two black labs. There really wasn't much running around – more snouting the new turf and eating salad (grass).

I lost sight of Marvin for a good couple of minutes so we started to look around for him. There is a section of the yard that's overgrown with bushes and weeds and that's where we heard his jingling tags. No amount of calling would get him out so I ducked into the brush, dodging mosquitos as I went, to discover him chomping away on something dead. When we made eye contact he realized I meant business as I called him and he slowly made his way out to the yard still holding the dead thing. It was a decomposing squirrel – and it had to go. I carefully pried his jaw open without touching his prize and to the ground it fell. I had my neighbor hold his collar as I took a garbage bag and picked it up dog poop-style. Ewww eww ewww. As he was rather obsessed with the overgrown area after that and the dogs weren't really interacting with one another anyway, we left and took our walk.

Once home, Marvin scurried off to hide under their window seat. When he started to make a regurgitating sound I shuffled him outside in a hurry. He sat out on his tie out, not doing a thing, so I let him be for a bit. Ten minutes later I visited my boy and there he was, head hidden under our outdoor fireplace guarding his fine pile of regurgitated squirrel. Ugh. I was actually thrilled that he had done that and that the pile was rather huge because I felt comfortable letting him back in the house again and even more comfortable knowing that was no longer in his little body. So I got to pick up dead squirrel a second time in the same day. Dogs and their vices.

Quick (sweet) Diesel story:

Now that the weather has warmed up I'm wearing shorts on our dog walks. I've noticed since working with the boys to walk "close" that Diesel walks very close. He tucks himself so tightly to my left leg that I feel his body brush the side of my leg, and sometimes my heel bumps him and I feel bad. But the best part is, while wearing shorts, I also feel his lovely wet nose touch the side of my bare leg. He was walking especially nicely by my side at lunch today and the wet nose touched my leg many times. I smiled the entire walk.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No. 100 and today I'm beaming

Marvin at BREW BeagleFest 2008.
Photo credit: My friend, Nicole's, friend, Jayne.

Welcome to the 100th post on my SnoutBeagle blog! I started the blog just over two years ago as a means to journal Diesel stories. Since then we've gained a Marvin and I've made blogging friends – BIG thanks to Dogs with Blogs! Who would have thought? Thank you all for checking in on us and your kind, much-enjoyed comments.

Marvin and I had not been to agility class together for three weeks. The first week I took Diesel instead. The second week we were still cleaning up water in our basement after ALL THAT RAIN. And this week I wasn't feeling well enough to want to attend our Monday class. Well, last night was a beautiful evening. I was feeling back to my old self and I had a hankering to run around an agility course with Marvin.

I e-mailed the Wednesday night instructor and asked if we could pop in to her advanced class last night to do a make-up class. It was a go! Admittedly I was nervous because we've never gone to a higher level class than our intermediate, but I knew a couple of the students as well as the instructor so we went for it.

Unfortunately, I thought the class started at 7PM but it actually starts at 6:50. I had reserved the ten minutes "early" we arrived to walk the course, but those ten minutes "early" actually put us there just in time. The instructor had set up one course with 15 obstacles which we all ran first. Then we did three (or four?) smaller exercises using parts of the same course. Finally we ran the entire course again. It was set up really well and I enjoyed all our runs a ton.

Our first time out Marvin was in snouting mode. The instructor suggested I run with him on leash to keep him moving before he did too much sniffing. He seemed to get the hint as halfway through I dropped the leash and we were back on track and focused (the leash knocking all the bars as we went!). The instructor made the comment "He's a typical beagle!" when he was snouting (which she had said before when Diesel and I had her for beginners class). That makes me even more determined for her to see what we can do when we're on track as a team. In all honesty, even though both boys are prone to beagle-mode at times, for the most part I feel we've accomplished a great deal in the focus department.

Snouting wasn't an issue for any of the smaller exercises. Marvin enjoyed the runs and was looking to me for more. Since I hadn't had the chance to walk the course I felt I could have definitely done better in my handling tactics. Oh well, next time!

Finally, the last run ... the same as the first run. Back to Jump One and Marvin found the floor rather interesting once again. I started before he was "with" me so I asked for a restart. This time I took my time getting us on the same page ... and once we started Woweeeee!! The boy – suddenly motivated like crazy – flew over the jumps, took the tunnel from a distance and did the weaves faster and more perfectly than he had ever done. The advanced students ooooed and ahhed as he mastered those weaves (not kidding!) and I gleamed from the inside out. Another tunnel, the A-frame (my handling still klutsy here) and a string of jumps. He was so excited he barked over the last three jumps and I couldn't have been happier.

We left class and I was impressed as heck with my bluetick boy. All the students were so friendly and supportive and laughed with me when I laughed at myself for doing a silly handling maneuver. The instructor was helpful, positive, and gave each student individualized suggestions. Not only that – I have a feeling we made an impression on her. She probably now sees more than a beagle sniffing the ground when she looks at Marvin.

What a great evening and today I continue to beam.