Still Here…

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last blogged!  It’s not like there’s nothing happening around here…it’s been beyond crazy!  Here’s a recap of the last two weeks:

Spring has arrived!

It has been an absolutely gorgeous Spring and Spring fever has hit hard!  Here’s Steve trying to encourage the snow to melt faster by shoveling the lawn.

Learn To Return

Steve and I took a bear safety and awareness class at Learn To Return Training Systems.  It was four hours of classroom time, learning about the different ways to manage a bear encounter and then four hours at the shooting range practicing with a shotgun.  I was OK during the classroom session but as soon as we started to drive out to the Birchwood Shooting Range, the nerves kicked in.  I had never held or shot a live gun before.  I am terrified of them and the power they hold; they scare the you-know-what out of me.  The instructors were very understanding and helped me get over some of my fear.  I was even brave enough to try the last test of the day: firing off 2 rounds at a “charging bear” (a photo of a bear on a wagon that was roped up to a runner, in order to make it “charge”).

Half-Time Drama

On a not-so-good note, I found out the job I love: working as an elementary school counselor is being cut into a half-time position.  This means that in order to fill the other half of my full-time job, I would have to be at another school half time: two schools, half-time.  I have a lot to say about working as an elementary school counselor, at a very high needs school, only half time but am going to refrain…I am very grateful though, my principal has decided to use Title I money to fund the other half of my position so I am able to stay at my current school full time.

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan-KABOOM!

Steve is preparing to be out in the field this Spring and Summer, in the company of bears.  He purchased a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan and is shown here shooting the “kind of big bullets” for the first time.  This isn’t even the ammunition he would be carrying while out in the field–those are even BIGGER!

Preparing for May’s Nose Work trial

May 12th is the big day: Pongo’s first official Nose Work trial.  We are working hard at having him alert without destroying the hide, which is a fault in the trial.  He is getting better and with a little more practice, I think he will be ready to rock that Nose Work trial!

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Poor Choices

Ever make a decision you wish you could take back?  Ruminating on all the things that wouldn’t have happened if you just had made a different, more correct choice? I made a poor decision today that shook me to my core.

Pongo accompanied me on an outing to Alaska Mill and Feed this afternoon.  I had him belted up in the front seat of the truck to give him a change of scenery.  I arrived at Alaska Mill and Feed and found the parking lot full, so I parked on the far side of the street, across from the store.  I knew I wasn’t going to take him inside, especially on a busy Saturday, so I unhooked his seatbelt allowing him to move freely in the truck while I was shopping.  This decision was based on the fact that Pongo is notorious for getting himself tangled up in his seatbelt; I wanted him to be comfortable.

Decision #1 = BAD CHOICE!

I had Pongo sit in the passenger seat and told him to “stay” while I got out of the truck.  The moment I opened the door and one foot hit the ground, Pongo bolted past me.  My heart leapt to my throat as I screamed out a “Pongo!  Here!”  I watched him run across the street and beeline for two dogs walking, on leash, with their owner toward the store.  I ran across the street and screaming at him, hoping and praying he doesn’t start a fight with these two dogs.  He sees me coming toward him and takes off down the sidewalk.  I give the owner a very lame “I am so sorry” as I pursue Pongo.  A very stern “Pongo! Here!” comes out of me, which is not the tone of voice you want to use when you’re trying to get a very stubborn dog to come to you.  But fortunately, it stopped him in his tracks and I was able to grab his harness.  I carted him over to the truck and got him in his kennel.

My first inclination was to get in the truck and go home, as I was really shaken up but knew that would be a waste of time and gas.  I walked into the store knowing I should seek out the woman and her two dogs to give her a genuine apology.  I am ashamed to say…I didn’t.

Decision #2 = BAD CHOICE!

I was mortified by my dog’s behavior and also reeling from the fact that I put Pongo in a potentially life-threatening situation, just because I wanted him to be comfortable.  I wish with all of my heart that I hadn’t been such a chicken sh**, and had the decency to go and inquire about her dogs’ well-being and apologize.  I know if I ever see her and her dogs again, I will do what I should have done in the first place and give her that courtesy she deserves.

Pongo is OK.  I, on the other hand, am trying to forgive myself on so many levels.

Anise and Clove and Records-OH MY!

The day that Anchorage finally broke the 1954-1955 snowfall record, with 133.6 inches recorded as of 4:00 PM today is the day Pongo rocked his Anise and Clove Odor Recognition Tests (ORT).  We drove up to Cook Inlet Kennel Club this morning, in some pretty nasty weather, so that Pongo could participate in the Nose Work ORT.  He passed the Birch ORT back in September and all he needed were the final two scents, Anise and Clove in order to compete in Nose Work II and Nose Work III Trials.  We aren’t even to that point of competition yet, but it was worth getting it done since they brought up a National Association of Canine Scent Work Official to oversee Alaska’s second Odor Recognition Test.

Pongo ready for his ORT

While Pongo had some difficulty with reactivity to other dogs, once we got into the testing facility, he shifted into work mode and knew exactly what he needed to do: “Go find it!”  We are both so proud of him!

Now, our next focus is the Nose Work I Trial on May 12th, in Chugiak, Alaska.

The Day of Poo

Poor Pongo had such an off day at daycare today.  It was completely unexpected as nothing was out of the ordinary with him this morning.  He went through his usual morning routine: out to potty, in for breakfast, and back to bed until it’s time to go.  I dropped him off at daycare thinking he was pretty happy to be there but I guess I was wrong.

The report card reads: “Oh Mama! I can’t tell a lie.  It was the day of poo.  Just one of those days you realize it happens, don’t have to like it and it stinks.  No, I’m not proud but I am aware of my attitude and it needs a “removal”/flushing.”

I totally appreciate Miss Sue keeping her sense of humor, while having to deal with a cranky, moody Pongo as I know that can be no fun!

Home Alone

We are not yet to the point of allowing Pongo to roam the house while we are away; he is either with one of us, kenneled in the car, or kenneled at home.  I’m sure he would be fine but I envision coming home to havoc: tuffs of cat hair scattered around the house, our neatly made bed torn apart, countertop appliances pushed over the edge only to meet their fate of dents and broken pieces (I do have to give it to Pongo he has never all-four-paws, full body counter-surfed but who knows what his inclination would be if Mama and Papa were gone).

It was such a gorgeous evening tonight that I decided to walk up to the voting polls, and put Pongo to the test while I went to vote–I left him free to wander the house. Now, I’m no lollygagger when it comes to walking.  I walk at a good clip and am often told by Steve that I need to “slow down.”  Walking to and from the voting polls, with voting in-between took me all of 16 minutes.  I was pleasantly surprised to come home to one very good Cattle Dog boy waiting patiently in his chair.

And, not one tuff of Puna hair to be found…