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Challenges, Happy News, and An Agility Video You Won’t Want to Miss

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while, and you probably think I’ve dropped off the face of the internet. Not to worry — it’s just that Momma keeps me so busy that I have no time to write. Our days are jam packed with activities — some of them even above board — and winter is already over. We’ve hung out with old friends like Gracie, and made new ones like Debbie who drew my portrait. We’ve continued to work hard with Gigi and hardly ever miss an agility training session. Janice takes me for walks and gives me mini-spa days when Momma is off golfing. All in all, a good time. Oh, and only three visits to the vet this season — I think that’s a record. Read on.

Gym Followup and Lina Unleashed (But Don’t Tell Anyone)!

First, I just want to mention that nothing’s changed with the new no-sound-on-the-TV policy in the workout room in our building, and Momma continues to workout her way around it.

Then about six weeks ago, another issue reared its ugly head for Momma and me down here. The residents in our complex got an email reminding us of the rule that all dogs must be on leashes at all times. NO EXCEPTIONS!, the email screamed. This got Momma’s attention — did someone report us outside playing ball? Just how many rules were we breaking, I wondered? Nevertheless, Momma viewed this as part of the #cancelculture (no fun allowed, Lina!), and ordered me a new frisbee. We were all set to use it when we were informed last week that violators could be fined — and dogs could even be removed from the property!! Woof what? Why is it always the dog’s fault (trespassing with Momma in Naples and a warning from Animal Control comes to mind)?

Just for the record, if management sees me out there, I am innocent. No dog can possibly resist running after a ball or frisbee, and, as Uncle Chuck would agree, that is an absolute defense to any wrongdoing whatsoever.

The Muse

The other day, Momma ended up playing golf with a special lady named Debbie Hopkins. After Momma told her about me and gave her my card (no later than the second hole, I’m sure), Debbie informed Momma that she is an artist and likes to draw and paint dogs. Well, you can just imagine the excitement in that cart! Check out Debbie’s scary-good pencil drawing of yours truly! And, best of all, Debbie donates her proceeds to charity. Also, Debbie bought Lina Unleashed and Sit Stay Pray, the proceeds of which go to the Animal Humane Society of Minnesota and Helping Paws Minnesota, as many of you know. A win-win day for all!

Book Presentation

And there’s more! Momma and I will be doing a presentation about my blog and books to the Women’s Cultural Alliance of Southwest Florida on April 5. It will be a Zoom meeting so I will not be able to give any face licks or get belly rubs, but I do get to make a cameo appearance on the call (but not as that stupid cat). Momma has been working tirelessly on putting this program together and was especially thrilled when she found a way to erase some years by blurring her image on Zoom (and is now wondering how she can apply this to the rest of her life).

This appearance is due to the kindness and generosity of Momma’s friend, Cathy Lone-Dawson, who is co-chair of the WCA South (another one of Momma’s golf buddies!). Click here to check it out.

Our First Trials & A Must See Video

Then last, but not least, Momma has signed us up for Canine Performance Events (CPE) trials in Ham Lake, MN in May and in Rochester, MN in June. I’m not sure we’re quite ready yet, though. As Gigi correctly (and loudly) notes during this run, Momma freaks out for no reason and I am left doing the weaves on my own. You will even see me looking for her (my handler) when I am finished. How is this going to work?

Please, just shoot me now.

Lina, Still Rolling With The Punches

WOOFDA!

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The Dog in the Arena?

Dear Readers,

Tongue-Out Tuesday Photo by Trainer, Gigi

Momma and I continue to train at Ruffgers Dog University in Naples. Momma, growing weary of the twice-weekly trips up there, has begun to question when graduation might be. I totally ignore her, though, because I know she is committed to “entering the arena!” And let’s face it, she still has her heart set on a blue ribbon or first place trophy. I have my heart set on running and getting more treats.

To learn more about competitions, Momma took a four-hour(!) Zoom seminar the other night called “Ready to Trial.” The seminar was given by Chris Mosley of Prior Lake, Minnesota. She is a long-time agility trainer and director of the Agility Training Department for Twin Cities Obedience Training Club (TCOTC). During her introduction, Chris talked about her dogs. She said Winn had been her “heart” dog, and Maggie, her “wallet” dog. She did not know yet what Pitch and Grammy were.

Next, Chris invited the participants to tell a little about themselves. When it was Momma’s turn, she refrained from saying I am her wallet dog, but she couldn’t stop herself from holding me up and introducing me to the group. She also said (twice) during her remarks how smart I am and have great potential and that it is just a joy to watch me train. By this time I was hiding so she could not hold me up to the camera again.

Chris continued by explaining that there are eight organizations in which we can compete, and it was a real alphabet soup. Of the choices, Momma quickly zeroed in on CPE, Canine Performance Events, because they are known as being handler friendly and have become very popular. I, too, am excited about CPE because they have cool-sounding competitions like Jumpers, Colors, Full House, Wildcard, Jackpot and Snooker. I just hope I get dealt an easy course.

As Chris got into the nuts and bolts about events, and Momma became disconcerted to learn there is more to competing than showing up with a dog and a treat. Owners must register, pay entry fees, and we dogs must be measured pre-competition for jump heights. There are also a bazillion rules about collars and leashes and buddies and “training in the ring.” Momma was rapidly becoming overwhelmed and knew she was in over her head (“I may have to circle back to you on this, Lina”). She did remember though that no squeaky toys or treats are allowed in the arena, and that if I go potty, we’re done. She also remembers that “dogs running naked” means I must compete with no collar.

Chris was super friendly and understanding. She knew we were all competition beginners so she fielded questions patiently and said (perhaps unwisely) “interrupt as many times as you want!” Momma, taking that literally, went to town on questions including: “How does one get a title?” and “It sounds like titles are not important to some people?” There were countless others, but I try to forget them.

Chris explained that some people do not care about titles and that some organizations give qualifying ribbons for just, well, putting in the runs. This was a little “pawrticipation trophy” for Momma, but she held her tongue. I would like to point out here that Momma herself was thrilled when she learned that some organizations give handlers 60 years of age and older extra time to complete a course (a leg up, so to speak). A little too “pawrticipation trophy” for me, but whatever.

All in all, Momma thought the seminar was terrific and is more determined that ever to have us compete. I’ll keep you “posted” on our progress. In the meantime, here is a short clip of our “back to school” run at Ruffgers.

Lina, Aspiring Aussie!

WOOFDA!

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Getting a Leg Up on 2021

Dear Readers,

I don’t mean literally lifting a leg on 2021, of course. I just meant that Momma and I are hoping to get a good start to the year. And, other than a few first-world problems, things are going pretty well.

We had a non-eventful flight back to Florida. No trained seals as support animals on the plane. Our condo is still standing, but more on that below. Momma is a fixture on the golf course, and I’m back training at Ruffger’s Dog University with Gigi (see photo, right). We have run into several old friends in our condo building, most of them wearing masks where required. Momma kind of likes that since she now has a built-in excuse for not recognizing people.

My dog sitters, Janice and Natalie, are looking after me almost on a daily basis. Here are a few photos of me playing and going on walks with them, and one with Natalie giving me a belly rub. Yay!

This is not to woof, of course, that there haven’t been a few issues. This is life with Momma, after all. First, I am not allowed on the balcony/deck because of the buzzards circling our building (it seems they may be looking for dead fish washed on shore because of the red tide in the Gulf — and one can never be too careful). Second, I am not allowed to walk around the Cape — also because of the red tide (possible lung irritation). The beach is no problem because, as you all know, I’m not allowed on it anyway due to doggie discrimination. I just might write a letter to our new president about that. He has dogs named Champ and Major, so I think he’d be on my side.

Then there’s the condo itself: Our ice maker is not working. Momma did her best to fix it — i.e., she turned it on and off a few times — but, shockingly, that didn’t work. She quit monkeying with it when a puddle of water formed on the floor and our water alarm went off. Now what was she supposed to do? Go to the gas station every time she needed ice? Luckily, a friend told her about a new invention called ice cube trays.

Then last week Momma was having dinner in Naples when the mind shattering alarm in our building went off (just how many alarms can my little big ears take in one lifetime?) as it often does. Luckily, my dog sitter, Janice, was just leaving the building and ran back up to rescue me.

In other news, Momma is having a bit of a spat with her building. A couple of weeks ago, management sent around an email saying that the volume on the TVs in the workout room could no longer be turned up. The notice further stated that the only way to listen would be to download the AudioFetch app — has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? — onto ones phone. Momma, who was used to watching and listening to Fox News in the workout room unabated, was furious — her association dues had just gone up and she was not about to spend any money on ear pods. Actually they’re called air pods, but I don’t want to confuse her. Stay tuned (but only if you’re plugged in).

Speaking of working out, Momma decided it was time to join the 21st century and buy some “yoga” pants. The problem is that the young perky clerk (as Momma still calls them) insisted that she buy a smaller size than what was comfortable, and now she can barely work out — or move for that matter. (“Lina – I can hardly breath — should these pants really feel like I’m wearing a tourniquet?”) All I can say is nama-stay.

Lina, Life Coach

WOOFDA!

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Santa Visit & End of Season Agility Video

Dear Readers,

The other day, I had a chance to cozy up to Santa and tell him what a good girl I’ve been. I think it went without woofing, however, because he kept saying, “good girl.” This year the only thing I asked Santa for was a safe trip to Florida (without any support peacocks or snakes sitting next to us), that I get to continue my agility training and that Momma doesn’t make me go swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Pretty simple, right? Will take up no room in the sleigh at all.

Santa made his visit to Camp Bow Wow last Saturday. Donations for the photo sessions will go to the Bow Wow Foundation and Second Hand Hounds. ‘Tis the season!

Momma and I had a fantastic time training at Agile Canines this season. We worked hard and took both private and group lessons. Some of my favorite parts of the course are the dog walk, tunnel and teeter! Here is a short video of us, produced by our trainer, Annelise, running the course in our last session of the year. Pay no attention to the fact that Momma almost sent me through the wrong tunnel.

Happily, we are already set up for training with Gigi at Ruffgers in Naples, beginning in January. I think she will be surprised with our progress. #tongueouttuesday and #throwbackthursday photos here we come!

One final note on our year. Momma and I have just sent off checks to the Animal Humane Society and Helping Paws Minnesota based on annual sales of Lina Unleashed and Sit Stay Pray. We are thrilled to support the noble work of these fantastic organizations.

And now it’s time to woof goodbye to 2020 and wish you all Yappy Holidays. May your days in 2021 be filled with fun and treats.

Lina, Good Girl

WOOFDA!

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SantaPaws Special!

Dear Readers,

Because this has been such a challenging year and because Momma and I care about helping other canines and humans, and because my books are great escapes for when you are imprisoned in your house — we have a fantastic deal to offer you! It’s perfect for these ruff times! You don’t even have to venture out to shop.

Here’s how it works: buy both of my award-winning books, Lina Unleashed and Sit Stay Pray (normally $16.95 each) ~

and receive a box of my ins-paw-rational note cards free (see sampling below)!

This is a $45.90 value, but I am offering all of these goodies to you this season for only $30.00. And as a special bonus, I will pawdograph the books, and Momma and I will personally deliver them if you live in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. If that doesn’t work, we will ship for free.

Please keep in mind that book proceeds will go to the Animal Humane Society of Minnesota and Helping Paws Minnesota. AHS helps care for and place about 23,000 animals each year, and HPM trains and places service dogs with disabled individuals and veterans/first responders with PTSD. This will make a much yappier holiday season for the doggies and humans helped by these organizations.

I hope you will “treat” yourself or a friend to my fun books and the all-occasion greeting cards, and lend a helping paw to others at the same time.

Please contact Momma at robink822@gmail.com for questions or to place your order directly with us. You can also order the books online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Lina, Spreading the Cheer and the Support!

WOOFDA!

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A Couple of Bumps in the Road (but at least I didn’t get bumped)

Dear Readers,

The other day we got word that the U.S. Department of Transportation has passed new restrictions on airplane travel for animals. Naturally, this caught Momma’s and my attention as we have a flight coming up later this month.

It seems DOT was clamping down on (sometimes “fake”) emotional support animals riding in the cabin, and from now on, they would be relegated to cargo. And if I do woof so myself, I get it. Often times these days, they are not even dogs! Really, who wants to be sitting next to an (uncrated) pig, peacock, monkey, snake, squirrel, comfort turkey, or miniature horse? And while the new rules allow bone-a-fide service animals to be in the cabin, it was not clear — were all others (even normally paying customers/animals like myself) now also banned from the cabin?

This would never do, so Momma called the airline. As expected, the representative was just not sure about the new rules, but she thought paying pets (in carriers and under the seat) would be just fine in the cabin. And she assured us, since the rules are not implemented until 2021, I would not be “bumped” from our December flight. Thrilled, Momma dragged out my little carrier so I could get used to it again.

Here I am practicing for our flight!

Then last week Momma and I had another little road bump which caused a quite a bit of consternation at our house. Momma had accidentally dropped a minuscule tube of lip salve on the floor as she hurried upstairs to change clothes. Well, as you might imagine, I was practically duty bound to check it out. Who knows — it might be a new kind of treat!

I had probably only been chewing on the tube for about five minutes, when Momma found me and snatched it away. Actually, to be honest, it didn’t taste that good and the tube was virtually empty, so I really didn’t care. Although Momma could also see that the tube was totally used up, she saw one teensy-tiny little puncture mark and went into her usual panic mode. What if I, against all odds, I had gotten a molecule of it in my mouth? Was it poisonous to dogs (even though she put it on her own lips)? Who would be her (real) support animal on the plane if something happened to me?

After doing her usual fruitless search for the answers on Google, Momma rang up our vet. The receptionist listened patiently to our latest tail of woe and advised us to call the Pet Poison hotline.

After a brief hold, Momma was connected to the hotline nurse, who also listened to our story and asked a few questions. After she had obtained all the pertinent information, she asked Momma if she could put her on hold so the nurse could “analyze the data” (kinda like my favorite Governor Walz would say — I felt better already!). I don’t think there was much data to analyze though, and the nurse was back on the line in almost no time at all. She informed Momma that I would probably be fine and that the charge for the advice would be $59.00 (up from the $50.00 they charged for our last “emergency,” Momma noticed with irritation). Nevertheless, she shook it off and gave me a big hug of relief. I went off to scrounge the floor for more treats.

Here’s hoping the rest of 2020 will be bump-free for all of us!

Lina, Ready for Wheels Up!

WOOFDA!

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Doggie Challenge!

Hey everyone — there’s a new doggie challenge that has become all the rage on the internet! And as a promoter of all things dog, I am here to pawrticipate and spotlight it on social media. It’s called #MeetMyDogChallenge and I first heard about it was from my Momma’s friend, Ellen, who featured her dog, Arnold Eugene.

This is how the challenge works: a human shares a photo of his or her dog and fulfills the challenge by answering a series of questions about the dog. That’s it — it’s just for fun and a little escapism during these trying times.

Here goes, and you’ll notice in my case, I’m doing it all myself — no human needed.

#MeetMyDogChallenge

Name: Lina

Nicknames: Aussie, Lina Bean, Mouse, Monkey, Little Big Ears

Breed: Toy Australian Shepherd

Age: Six years, four months to the day!

Favorite human food: Popcorn — Momma doesn’t really give me people food, but popcorn is the one exception. She pretends to drop it so she thinks I won’t notice that she’s actually giving it to me, and thus will not beg. Yup, I’m totally fooled.

Best friend: My BFFs (best furry friends) are Winnie, CoCoa, Sammy and Roma.

Biggest fear: That Momma will make me go swimming. I hate all things water including lakes, (especially) the Gulf of Mexico, rivers, streams, puddles, rain and even wet grass.

My favorite thing to do: Chase a ball or watch DOG TV.

My favorite toy: My big orange and blue Chuckit! ball.

Where do I sleep: I sleep with Momma, either on my own pillow or at the foot of the bed snuggled into a soft throw.

Do I like car rides: Yes, I do. I have a nice size appropriate doggie chair belted into the backseat where I can sit and watch the world go by. And backseat drive for Momma.

Do I snore: I do not. Sometimes I have little nightmares about all the trauma and drama in my life; then I think I whimper.

Dream job: Herder. And I’ve done it. I’m a natural.

Real job: Blogger, author.

So what do you think? I would like to read about other doggies, too, let’s keep the #MeetMyDogChallenge going!

Lina, Influencer

WOOFDA!

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Yippee – DOG TV!

Well, believe it or not, Momma figured out how to get the DOG TV channel. Our setup isn’t perfect yet (it’s hard to explain but we can only access it on one TV and have no idea what the channel number is), but so far Momma is in no frame of mind to call the provider back. In the meantime, though, I have to tell you that I love it! DOG TV is joyful, playful and calming — three things that I really need in my life these days.

Here’s how it played out.

Last Sunday, Momma decided that, no matter what, she would get a dog channel for us. After a bit of research, Momma settled on DOG TV. Not only did she think it had the best programming, but also it was available for purchase on our cable network and, most importantly, she had the phone number. Now you should know that Momma does not have the best relationship with our cable provider, and I often hear her saying things like, “I’d rather eat glass than call them again.” She invariably ends up in a rage, and it takes a while (and maybe some meds) before she can function “normally” again. She does need to call them occasionally, though, and that is my signal to go into hiding. Today would be no exception.

After calling the number on the bill and listening to their never-ending spiel about recording the call (one of the reasons Momma semi-behaved herself), their privacy practices, checking their website and a commercial about upcoming programming, Momma finally pushed enough buttons to connect with a live person. She told him she wanted DOG TV. He told her that the department she reached couldn’t help her, that she must call the provider’s “helpline.” Things were off to their usual start with said provider.

Momma dutifully called the number given her, and after enduring their messages again, was finally given her options: did she need help with tech support? billing? a recent order? status about an order? or did she want to update her pin? She had a pin? While Momma was wildly trying to decide which one to select, the call got disconnected. Time for me to find my safe spot.

Trying to keep her anger in check, Momma called back, and after screaming “representative” into the phone a few times, was finally connected with another person. And Momma liked that person — I’ll call her Kelly — she had a dog who loved DOG TV. DOG TV was a good choice because it was for both dogs and humans, said Kelly.

And best of all — it was only about $5.00 per month, it would be accessible on all of our TVs (living room, bedroom, kitchen), and she would set it up for us. Kelly said she’d send us an email with instructions and we’d be watching DOG TV in about fifteen minutes.

Momma was so pleased, she almost cried. That was until she read Kelly’s email and it said that a technician would be at our house between 2:00 and 4:00p on December 2 (ten days hence) to install our new equipment! New equipment? December 2?

Momma was apoplectic. When she finally got another agent on the line to help (after being passed along twice), she had renewed hope. After a long explanation about what had transpired, the new rep, I’ll call her Jenny, said that she could add DOG TV to our service without any new equipment. Even I have to wonder here if the right paw knows what the left paw is doing. Just woofin’.

First, Jenny sent Momma into the living room to turn on the television. Success. Next she gave Momma a couple of channels to try to see if they could find the on-demand channel that carried DOG TV.

One can never have too many remotes . . .

They could not. Next Jenny instructed Momma to say “DOG TV” into the microphone on the remote. This didn’t work either because Momma repeatedly said “DOG TV” into the wrong remote. It was actually quite comical, but I held my tongue. When Momma finally found the right one (“Who knew, Lina, that there was such a thing?”) she held down the mic button and shouted “DOG TV” as though the remote was hard of hearing, and voilá — there was our channel!

The only drawback? As I mentioned above, we can only access it on the TV with the remote that listens. The channel number remains a mystery. And here’s the real bite: Jenny promised to figure it out and call Momma. We are still waiting. And, Momma? “I’d rather eat glass, Lina.”

Nevertheless, we have DOG TV, and I am a big fan. They play tinkly and playful music, and show doggies and their humans running, playing ball and swimming. Birds chirp and streams burble in the background. Some of the music actually puts me to sleep (now I suppose Momma will try to use the channel as a sitter)! Here I am enjoying some of my favorite new programs.

I just wonder if DOG TV could use a good looking little Toy Aussie? I know I have the chops for it!

Lina, Ready to Audition

WOOFDA!

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Melancholy (Momma) and Merry (Me)

With the aftermath of the recent election in which the Human Orange went down in defeat and the new COVID restrictions from our very wise Governor Walz, Momma has been in a sad state. Almost comatose actually.

On the other paw, I am — do I dare woof it? — rather euphoric. Why? Well first, Joe “No More Malarkey” Biden won and second, Momma is pretty much stuck at home with me. She routinely throws my ChuckIt ball around for fetch and takes me for a walk almost every day! Plus, she feeds me on time and even had the foresight to stock up on my favorite topping — organic pumpkin — before the Thanksgiving rush. Maybe she is trainable after all?

And my other reason for joy? We are watching a lot of TV together, and guess what — we’ve dialed back (as Governor Walz likes to say) Fox News quite a bit. In fact, Momma was so wounded by recent events that about the only programs she can stand to watch are Bonanza, the Andy Griffith Show and Green Acres (which I was disappointed to see is not about saving our environment). Oh, and the other one — The Match Game. We only watched this one, however, until Momma found out it wasn’t a dating service after all. Just woofin’.

I have another little bit of good news! Our viewing is so limited that Momma has even looked into getting “FidoTV” and “DOGTV” for me. She was hoping that she could just click on “Guide” on her remote, and the show names would pop up, but of course that didn’t happen. After a little more research, Momma discovered that one must subscribe to a streaming service if one wants to watch more that Lassie and Fury. (Momma still pines for the days of the old Motorola with three channels and a knob to turn to find her favorite program: “Lina, the world has passed me by,” she laments.)

Still, she is bound and determined to find FidoTV and DOGTV! She’s pretty sure she needs Netflix or Amazon Prime TV (services most of the civilized world already has). The only problem — she doesn’t really know what they are or how to get them. Must one have some nerdy technician come out to hook up some new equipment? Can one just enroll directly on ones (hopefully smarter than Momma) TV? And most important, is there a free trial period?

As of this post, we have neither yet, but with our four weeks of forced isolation coming up, I think Momma will have time to figure it out. As you can see, I’m ready!

Lina, Savoring the Moment

WOOFDA!

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Our Sixth Anniversary

Has it really been only six years with Momma? November 7 was the official anniversary of the dog-napping that took place in Bradenton, Florida on that date in 2014. Just like the famed Flying Wallendas of Bradenton, life with Momma was to be another high-wire act.

I was happily living my fun life with siblings and sunshine when, unbeknownst to me, Momma found this irresistible pinup photo online at http://www.BlueHorizonTinyAussies.com. Life as I knew it would never be the same.

That’s CoCoa, my first BFF, at the foot of the bed

I’ve already told the story of our rocky start in my first two LinasDogBlog posts, “Introduction” (December 28, 2014) and “The Budget” (December 29, 2014), so I’ll just add some photos. As I mentioned before, Momma showed up with absolutely no doggie supplies, and took me to her friend, Rachel’s, for our first night. Here I am trying desperately not to panic as my momma-in-training tucked us in.

(Momma: “You might want to mention here that you chewed up a nice blanket of Rachel’s and that Momma had to replace it. Momma should have known then that you would cost her an arm and a leg — or a leg and a leg as you would put it.”)

The next morning, she whisked me off to freezing Minnesota and my new life. Here are some of my baby pictures, including my first Christmas outfit and my introduction to snow. I’ve also included one of my first playdate ever — which surprisingly was with CoCoa back in Minnesota! We are still fast friends.

As Momma and I embark on our seventh year together, I am looking at six new inches of snow in our backyard. Some things never change.

Lina, Still “Celebrating!”

WOOFDA!