Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Greyhound Dinner Party

Well, it wasn't really, but there were eight Greyhounds in attendance and five humans at a recent dinner party I hosted. I thought this video pretty funny. Where the heck are the humans? Too funny but very "normal" in a Greyhound home, well, I should say in my Greyhound home!

video

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Take Me Out to the BallGame, Take Me Out With The Crowds . . .

Well, I didn't buy any peanuts or Cracker Jacks (darn it), but on Sunday, Lucy and I attended our very first Bark in the Park event at Turner Field as the Braves took on the Oakland A's. Funny, I had to look at the calendar just now to see who the heck we did play! I did watch some of the ballgame but the most fun was watching the other dogs and their people.

Proceeds from "Bark in the Park" will benefit the Bobby Cox "Paws Because . . . They are Worth Saving," helping to rescue animals in danger of being euthanized. So the price of the ticket for Lucy and myself (all of $23) was well worth it, especially knowing it would benefit such a great cause.

What a time we had indeed! There were small dogs, medium dogs, big dogs, all decked in their Braves attire and all seemingly enjoying being with their humans and being at the ballpark. I even think my Lucy enjoyed the afternoon. She laid down beside me on her Canine Hardware travel bed and surveyed the crowd, the sights, and sounds. She was taking it all in, believe me, like a kid in a candy shop! I'm sure she had some great stories to tell Remi and Sugar when we arrived back home. Unfortunately, each human is limited to one dog so I had to make a choice and I thought Lucy would better endure the stairs, the new surroundings, and the noise. And she did a fabulous job! In fact, she tried very hard to fit into the stereotypical Braves fan profile by trying to eat everyone's hamburger, hot dog, peanuts, dropped French fries, etc., even going so far as to lick mustard off the floor. She is definitely a moocher and a scavenger.

I did get her a Lick A Lot treat (it's like doggy ice cream - frozen yogurt, peanut butter, and honey). Of course that was gone in minutes providing her ample time to scout the area for something else to consume. Well, I had a Bud Light and decided I would give her a bit. Yep, you guessed it, she loved it. I gave her a bit more and then I had to cut her off. Nothing worse than a drunk Greyhound trying to navigate the steep stairs trying to get out of there (I had visions - very bad visions). She definitely took to the beer like a duck to water. It didn't surprise me much as most Greyhounds have had some beer at some time in their life and usually it was during their days at the track. You see, their trainers will sometimes make them drink beer after they've run a race to get them to pee so they don't get "tied up" (whatever the heck that means). That's all I know and is what I've been told along the way. I just know that being "tied up" is very serious and can kill a Greyhound so they readily have beer on hand for just this purpose. This is usually something that happens with the male dogs so I'm not sure Lucy had ever had beer but she sure did like it. Kim's dogs will actually knock over a beer bottle if it's sitting on the coffee table. This is so they can drink it, of course. Bad dogs! I've told her they need to go to a canine AA meeting.

Anyhoo, we had such a grand time at the ballpark, that's for sure. Lucy slept most of the way home - she was beat. As I always say, a tired dog is a happy dog (and a happy dog Mom)!

Photos from the event can be found on http://www.ajc.com/ (click Living, click Pets, scroll down to Photo Galleries). As well, I should have some here in the next few days www.greyhoundadoption.org/news/galleries.cfm.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Who Knew?

SEGC (Southeastern Greyhound Club) held it's Annual Bring Your Greyhounds Meeting at SummerWind Farm in Newnan, Georgia this past Saturday. I was in charge of this event and decided months ago that we should do something different - really different. So, I decided that we should do a Luau, complete with lei's, Hawaiian music, and wonderful Hawaiian food. This being our first Luau themed meeting, I wanted it to be really special. About 66 folks signed up to attend which definitely upped the anti for me to have everything just perfect. The catch phrase we used to entice folks to join us was "Come Get Lei'd at the Farm". That was John's idea, the owner of SummerWind and President of SEGC.

Fortunately for us, SummerWind hosted a wedding reception the night before so we made use of their huge tent, tables, chairs, tablecloths, and they even left their flower centerpieces for us to enjoy. That was really nice but I wish I had known that and I would have saved some bucks by not buying decorations that we ended up not using. Oh well, who knew? I imagine we can use them again at another function.
I tried to think of games that we could play and decided that we would definitely do the Limbo but it would be for the Greyhounds only. No humans allowed! Wow, who knew that Greyhounds could do the Limbo?

Here are some pictures of me coaxing my Remi under the bamboo pole. What my girl wouldn't do for a treat! She did a fabulous job and without any prior training. I'm quite proud of her. She ended up tied with another Greyhound, Venus, for the winning spot. We forfeited so Venus' humans could enjoy the prize (which I had obtained by the way so I couldn't very well win it, too) which was two dinners to Medievel Times. They'll have a great time, I'm sure. And Venus put in quite a performance as well.

I think we started with about 10 or so worthly opponents. Amazingly enough, none of them appeared to be afraid of the Limbo pole. It was almost as if they had all done this before! I swear it! But we all know they certainly don't have time at the dog track to be playing Limbo with the Greyhounds!

In fact, they don't even have time to play with them at all. Kim, Guy and I have visited the Southern New England Kennel at Birmingham Race Course on several occasions and the kennel owner there, Alan Olson, is so appreciative of our visits because he said that's the only "play-time" the dogs get on a regular basis! The schedule and routine of the day and the races is simply prohibitive for Alan and his wife to spend quality time with the dogs. They do adore each and every one of them and adopt 100% of their retirees. The adoption group I volunteer for, Southeastern Greyhound Adoption, has taken several of their Greyhounds and has placed them into loving homes. They are just wonderful people and their dogs are fabulous. We appreciate what fine Greyhound kennel owners they are so much, in fact, that we are planning a dog wash for their kennel on June 14th. Yep, we've found about 12 volunteers who will go over that afternoon and wash about 60 or so Greyhounds. All Greyhounds in the kennel will get a bath except those racing that night. It should be a breeze and great fun! Just a community service project that a few of us want to do. I'll definitely have pictures and I'm sure a funny post after that activity.

In the meantime, Remi and I will practice our Limbo a bit so we will be fully prepared next year to take home the prize (that hopefully someone else will be in charge of by then)!
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Friday, May 09, 2008

An Update From the Commuting Front

This week has been so grand not having to drive in the daily snarling traffic. It is such a relief and is so much less stressful, it is unreal. I honestly think my blood pressure might go down. But before I get carried away with the pleasant side of all this, don't think there aren't any stresses related to commuting. Let's see, there is the daily early morning drive to the bus stop (Hiram theater) where I honestly drive like a "bat out of hell" in an attempt to get there in time and not miss the bus. It's a challenge, for sure. I have been going to bed later than I should and then having a hard time getting out of bed. My goal is to fix that this coming week and get back on schedule - no matter what! In bed by 9 p.m. and up by 3:45 a.m.

Once on the bus using a CCT paper card, the next challenge (if I'm by myself) is to avoid getting sat on by that rather "large" woman I spoke of in an earlier post. Once that situation is under control, I am next challenged with getting into the MARTA rail station using the Bus to Rail Transfer card the bus driver gives me every morning (if I remember to ask for it). Out of the last three weeks, it has worked properly at the turnstiles three times. It's not user error as I swipe it as I was instructed by the MARTA employee (remember my one-on-one swiping lesson from last week?). They just don't consistently work. Luckily there is usually a MARTA employee there who can authorize entry using their own card.

Next the challenge is to catch the northbound Doraville train. We usually miss it because we are wasting time at the turnstiles trying to get into the station. Another train is usually not far behind but we still have to wait 5-8 minutes for it's arrival. Once on board that train, it's a nice 20-25 minute ride to the Brookhaven station. From there we usually have a few minutes until our complimentary van arrives to take us the rest of the way.

Coming back, it's about the same except that I use MARTA's Breeze card for entry onto the train and onto the bus. It works every time, without fail. Well, except for the bus (CCT) rides I put on the card on Wednesday and Thursday which would eliminate the need to use the paper CCT card and thus the Bus to Rail Transfer that never works. Anyway, on Wednesday I purchased 10 rides ($13.50) but found out when they didn't work on Thursday that they were for local rides on CCT not "express rides" which is what I'm doing. So, on Thursday I invested another $47 for 20 Express Rides on CCT and put those on my Breeze card. I thought all was well but this morning the Breeze card with the CCT rides didn't work again. Thank God I had the paper CCT card I had been using as a backup. I called the Breeze folks at MARTA and she said the fare box on the bus must not have been working. I'll try again on Monday and see what happens.

I must say it is very frustrating trying to get to know the system and understand what is expected, not to mention trying to catch the right bus at the right time and the right train at the right time. I think that I could write a "Dummies Guide to Successfully Commuting in Atlanta" manual and probably would make lots of money thus eliminating the need for me to commute!

With all that being said, I try to entertain myself so I don't get bored with the whole thing. Let's see - I now have my Zune which is wonderful, I might add. I am working to get more CDs loaded and will sign up with a service so I can download movies and even upload movies off my DVDs and convert them to my Zune. The Zune has an awesome 3.2 inch color display and great sound. I've been watching some NBC News podcasts that are updated nightly and I've downloaded some Cesar Millan episodes to watch and there are scads of other podcasts I haven't even looked at yet. My unit is the 80 (GB) so I can store up to 20,000 songs, or 25,000 pictures, or 250 hours of video. I'll never fill it up but I will certainly have fun trying!

Besides the Zune, there is definitely ample people watching available during the entire commute from Hiram to my building on Clairmont and then back. I just sit, listen or watch my Zune, and watch the people. Yesterday we were waiting for our bus at the Five Points Station and a man rode by on his bike with a boom box attached to the handlebars. Cracked me up!

I will start carrying my Flip so I can record a few snippets of the funnier things we see! Sometimes the free entertainment is better than the stuff we pay for! Pin It

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Success is Measured in Many Ways!

Well, today we ventured to Cartersville to lure course in SEGC's last Spring trial. During prelims Lucy failed to make the first turn, actually running way past it, but she did spot it after that and did "catch up" and then ran like a champ. Unfortunately the judges didn't think her run all that spectacular scoring her a total of 148 for prelims. After lunch, I made sure she watched the lure a few times and hopefully would run better. She did, somewhat, scoring a 152. Unfortunately again, this wasn't enough to put her in a higher placement and she ended up in fourth place out of four dogs. She is safe and sound though, so that is most important. We are hoping to get out of the Open category before the fall season but I'm not sure that will happen at this point. She now has 84 points but needs 100 to move to the Field Champion category. All in good time, I suppose. So, to sum up today, she achieved one success in the fact that she ended the day without injury . . . tired, but definitely fine and fit as can be. That is definitely a good thing!

The second is, well, simply gross, for lack of a better word. We got home from Cartersville today at about 5:40 p.m. I was anxious to get somewhat settled so I could watch the Kentucky Derby. I let the girls out in the backyard so they could potty before their dinner. I didn't muzzle them as I usually do, I guess because I was in a hurry and thought they would be as well so they could get back inside for dinner - it had been a long day for all of us. The next thing I know, they are all three coursing a squirrel who apparently had been on the ground when they ran out there. The squirrel did quite a few jig saws back and forth, all the while the three girls were coursing him left and then right and back again and all around. It was quite a sight - almost like a ballet. Very smooth and fluid, really quite beautiful.

In the end though, Lucy won the prize, if you can call it that . . . she got the kill. I still can't understand why Remi and Sugar would give it up to her but they did, although I don't think they had much choice in the matter as Lucy was determined to stay on the poor thing during this entire ordeal. Well, I quickly ran back into the house and into the garage to my vehicle to retrieve my camera. I was gone perhaps 45-60 seconds. I quickly took off the lens cap and camera cap, put the lens on and ran back outside to snap a quick shot of Lucy with her prize squirrel dangling out of her mouth (that is the squirrel on the ground with Lucy over it). Sounds morbid, I know, but she has hunted squirrels for over a year now since she came to live with us and has been unsuccessful until today. So I thought it befitting to get a photo of her with her trophy catch! Well, that was not to be (read on). When I had arrived back at the "killing spot" where Lucy was with her prize, I immediately saw that she was definitely quite taken with her squirrel.

At first I thought she was just gumming him or something - I had no idea she was doing what she was doing until I got a little closer and it was then that I could hear the crunching and saw her jaw movement. UGH, I know (hope you've had dinner, lunch or breakfast before reading this). She had commenced to eating the head of the poor squirrel. I tried to get her to "leave it" - yeah, like she is going to drop something she has pursued for 15 months and come to me all happy as can be. NOT!! She crunched a few more times and it was then that she decided, I think, that it wasn't as much fun because the thing wasn't squirming anymore. But by then, the squirrel's head had been completely consumed by my dear, sweet, kiss your face, Lucy. Disgusting, I know, I almost threw up on her and the carcass (see picture - go grab throw up bag first!).

After this was all said and done, I herded the girls back into the house, retrieved the shovel from the garage, and a body bag from the cupboard. I shoveled the poor thing into his final resting place and then put him in the outside garbage can. I can't possibly bury all the squirrels they kill out there so that is the best solution that I can think of.

I have since baby-wiped Lucy's entire face and have brushed her teeth. I wish I had some doggy mouth wash.

I just know at about 6 a.m. in the morning, she is going to want to give me her morning lovin' where she snuggles up to me and licks my face. Guess I'll deal with that then. In the meantime, I'm just hoping she doesn't decide to throw up her afternoon snack. I think I would just die!

PS - my typical pet names for Lucy range from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds to Lucifier to just plain Crazy! I think now I'll have to call her Squirrel Breath!

PS AGAIN - Lucy earned 5 points on Sunday with another 4th placement out of 5 Greyhounds so she now has a Grand total of 89 points. Pin It

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Perils of Public Commuting

As some of you know, I've joined the masses in using public transportation to get to and from work. My one-way commute is 41.7 miles so anything is an improvement over that. And with gas prices rising daily, it's much more economical, to say the least. I can certainly afford the two tanks of gas a week it normally takes me but I refuse to support the high prices. There is no reason it should cost so much. I believe it now costs me about $4 a day to commute using the bus and train.

So, the morning starts at 3:45 a.m. when I roll out of bed. I shower, feed the girls, eat breakfast, do some email, do makeup and hair, dress, crate the girls, and get out of the house by 5:15 a.m. The Express Bus that I ride from Hiram leaves the Hiram movie theaters (that's where we park) at 5:35 a.m. Once on that bus, we pick up a few folks along Thornton Road. Well, that's where the story gets kind of funny. For the two weeks I've been doing this, there is a woman who gets on at the BP station on Thornton Road. She is a rather large woman, well, I'm being nice there - she is actually fat. And, unfortunately, with all the empty seats on the bus, she always sits by me. Or I should say "on" me. The seat just isn't big enough for her ass so she spills over onto me. Today, I tried something different in that I sat further back on the bus, thinking she wouldn't see me but no, lo and behold, she scouted me out and plopped her fat self down right beside me. It is quite uncomfortable to endure for the ride to the MARTA Five Points Station where I am then, thankfully, set free. Typically this isn't a problem as my cubemate usually rides with me and sits beside me. Unfortunately, though, he is on vacation this week so I have had to fend for myself and obviously I haven't been doing a good job of it. My friend also drives to the office on Thursdays so that is another day that I have to grin and bear it, I suppose.

The other morning I got on the train and stupidly sat beside a man who smelled as if he had just finished a 6-pack of Bush beer only a few hours before. And that's a 20-25 minute ride. UGH!! I could hardly breathe and felt I'd certainly get drunk on his second-hand fumes.

Once at the Brookhaven Station, I disembark and walk down to the street level where there is usually a van, compliments of the Department of Revenue (where I've worked as a contractor for the last four years), waiting to take a group of us the remaining 10 minutes to the building where we work.

The other afternoon on the bus ride home, I sat beside a rather nice black gentleman who coincidentally works as a contractor at the IRS. I thought that was a hoot. Who would have thunk it? We certainly didn't chat about taxes!

Needless to say I spend most of my days strategizing my commute and how to make it all more comfortable. One effort on my part toward that goal is the purchase of a new Zune. It's Microsoft's answer to the iPod and is suppose to have better sound and video than the iPod. It will keep me occupied watching movies and listening to ebooks and music. One of the factors in my decision to get the Zune instead of an iPod is that at this time it has far fewer accessories than the iPod which will ultimately save me more money as I won't be inclined to "buy this and buy that".

This morning was definitely a step in the right direction despite getting sat on like a chicken egg on the bus! The train was slammed packed full of people when even more of us stepped aboard at the Five Points Station. This black gentleman actually asked me if I'd like to sit (there were no more seats) and then proceeded to get up so I could sit down. Obviously I took him up on his offer as I am still lugging my personal laptop to and from work and it does get rather heavy after a little bit of time. That was very nice of him and actually instilled a bit more faith in me that mankind isn't all that bad after all.

And today I was successful in getting the MARTA turnstile worker to show me how to swipe the bus to rail transfer card so that the turnstile would open for me. I've not been able to do that since beginning this adventure last week. Normally the same little guy will just tell me, "you're holding the card wrong". Well, no kidding Einstein. After that he usually will then swipe his card which will open the turnstile for me to get into the train station. I was in the right mood (after the uncomfortable bus ride) to stop and ask the little Marta worker, "well, show me how to hold the card so it does work". Imagine that . . . providing information to an individual so they learn and, therefore, won't need to bother you the next morning. What a novel idea. He reluctantly showed me the "right" way to swipe the transfer card. I hope I won't dissappoint him on Monday when I try using his instructions. We can only hope . . .

The bright thing in all of this is that I practically still have a full tank of gas from the fill-up on Sunday! Can't beat that! And I am much less stressed when I get to work and when I get home, which is also a good thing. I'll continue this new mode of transportation as long as I can as I rather enjoy sitting and letting someone else do the driving. That, in and of itself, is the best part of it all and is definitely well worth the effort! Pin It