They had her at Dog Mode

Dear Readers,

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. Momma has long felt she needed a new car and struggled with what kind she should get. She shopped around at her usual dealership, but none of their newer models tripped her trigger. Same old, same old. Boring almost. As she thought about other possible makes and models, the Tesla came to mind. She’d seen a lot of them around lately and heard they were selling like hotcakes. At first she ruled them out, believing electric vehicles were just for liberal-minded environmental wackos — an association she did not want to have. But curiosity got the best of her, and Momma actually started thinking outside the gas guzzling box.

She had recently been reading books about electricity, of all things, including The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore and Edison by Edmund Morris. Both talked about competition for electrical advancement between Westinghouse and Edison, both of whom employed a genius Serbian immigrant named Nikola Tesla. Elon Musk, of course, named his hot selling car after Mr. Tesla. Momma has long had a secret crush on Musk (loved him on Saturday Night Live, loves his space exploration, and loves the fact that he moved the Tesla headquarters from crazy California to oil and gun rich Texas). Based on little more, she decided to explore his electric car.

So one day a couple of months ago, Momma drove to the Tesla dealership in Eden Prairie to check things out. She was surprised and disappointed to learn that she, a potential customer, was not welcomed with open arms. In fact, a Tesla representative (they really didn’t seem to have salespeople), told her if she wanted to drive a car and explore matters further, she would need an appointment. Grudgingly, Momma made an appointment with a rep named Garrett for the next day, but only after being assured by him that EVs were not just for liberals anymore.

When Momma showed up for her test drive, Garrett told her she would have to go alone, and this frankly scared her. The car was so different. Where was the start button? The speedometer? The temperature gauge? The gas gauge (oh wait — never mind!)? The heater? The radio? The little clock? The engine for that matter? All the car had was a computer screen in the middle of the dashboard she was used to. Did she really dare drive it by herself? (At this point, she didn’t even know that the Tesla could indeed drive itself.)

Garrett reassured Momma that she could do this, asking her if she’d ever driven a golf cart. Well, duh, she said, of course she had. Is the Pope Catholic? He said the Tesla operates just like that. Go, drive it.

Turns out it was easy to drive and by the time Momma got back to the dealership, she was almost confident. When Garrett came out to meet her, he told her about a nifty feature on the computer screen called Dog Mode. As you might imagine, now he really had Momma’s attention. Garrett demonstrated by pressing the Dog Mode button and a depiction of a dog and this message took over the screen:

My driver
will be
back soon

Don’t worry!

The AC is on and it’s
72° F

Momma was positively electrified! Now she could leave me in the car while she ran errands and no one would call the police! And I would be in a controlled comfortable environment! The car would be almost a dogsitter for her! Sold, she thought. Out loud she said, “How much?”

After Momma gave Garrett the “downpayment” of $100.00 (yes, you read that right), she started wondering about the details. Could you give me a brochure? asked Momma, curious about the length of her new Model Y. No, said Garrett, Tesla doesn’t use paper advertising materials. Trying to be hip, she said, “Of course not.” She, after all, knew what a computer was. Later, when Momma foolishly asked him for a business card, she realized her faux paw and quickly added, “Oh yeah, right, that’s so yesterday, isn’t it?” Oh well, she thought, she really didn’t need all that clutter around the house, did she?

The deal done, Momma drove away observing all the old-fashioned, soon-to-be-obsolete, combustion engine cars on the road. She almost felt sorry for them. She was going to be so ahead of the game.

Then she started getting into the nuts and bolts of her new purchase.

First of all, she would need to plug the car in, so she hired an electrician to install a super duper 240 volt outlet in her garage to the tune of $750.00. Later, she desperately hoped they had installed the Nema 10-50p type that seemed to be required. Then she started worrying about the cost of the electricity she would burn (use?) so she looked up rebates and rates on the Tesla site. There she learned that Dakota Electric would give her a $500 rebate for installing its (really big) connector box to the outside of her house so she could take advantage of its off-peak rates.

She then called another(!) electrician who said he could install the box, but the rebate wouldn’t cover the entire cost (of course not, thought Momma, now quite grouchy about the whole thing). He also explained that the normal rate of electricity was about 12 cents per hour and offpeak could be as low as 7 cents, but with the program Momma had selected, “Time of Use,” the rate would be about 40 cents per hour if she plugged the (damned) car in before 10 p.m. But not to worry, the electrician said, she could program the car to start charging whenever. Momma’s head was now spinning. She knew she wouldn’t be able to program the Tesla, so she would have to set her alarm to get up and plug the car in at 10:00p every night. This Tesla thing was starting to take over her life.

Next, she learned online (it was almost impossible to speak with someone at Tesla to ask a question, she fumed) that the portable charger that came with the car did not give optimum charging. If she wanted that, she would have to order the futuristic looking $500 wall connector, which gave her a higher rate of charge and would save her from having to use the portable charger that she really should, apparently, just leave in the car in case of a depletion emergency. The slick wall connector would have to be hard wired to the 240 outlet, and she would have to hire an electrician — again! — to come out and do that, too.

What was Momma thinking, she wondered, when she irrationally plunked down $100 and ordered something she knew nothing about? She has spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do about the car. Not that she doesn’t have time. Due to high demand, her estimated delivery date has been delayed to mid-November or December. Should she cancel? But then she wouldn’t have Dog Mode, she lamented, and she would have put an expensive new outlet in her garage for no reason (unless she wanted to move her dryer or oven out there).

In the end, Momma decided she would go ahead with the car. It helped that Tesla was nice to her when she payed them a surprise visit this week and they readily answered her questions. Oh, and she loved that they let me try out Dog Mode.

Momma just hopes she doesn’t have to pay for the car in Bitcoin.

Lina, Amped Aussie!



North to Bemidji

Dear Readers,

Last weekend, Momma and I drove “North” (I’ve adopted this term consistent with the current trend of simplifying phrases to sound more hip — no more “Up North” for us) to her home territory. It was all for fun — to “chill” (another with-it term) but with one stop for book marketing purposes. If you know Momma, we never quite chill.

Upon reaching Bemidji, the real home of Paul Bunyan and Babe, says Momma the historian, we found our way to the Bemidji Woolen Mills. The BWM has been a staple in Bemidji for over 100 years, and Momma had shopped there for her “Lumberjill” jacket when in college.

We were making a stop there to peddle our wares, so to woof. Momma’s nephew, Eric, who lives in Bemidji had noticed that, among other quality merchandise, BWM carries books of local authors and suggested we give them a try. Momma, always the optimist, had packed up six copies each of Lina Unleashed and Sit Stay Pray for this purpose.

Momma parked right in front of the store, and was greeted at the door by an employee named Mary. I watched from the car window as Momma told Mary that she was interested in selling her dog’s books at the store and asked to see Bill Batchelder, the owner. Mary, clearly taken aback and wondering if she should call security, nevertheless trotted off to Bill’s office. Much to Momma’s surprise and relief, Mary returned almost at once and brought her back to meet Bill.

Bill greeted Momma warmly (he didn’t seem to think this was a strange encounter at all — he probably meets all types is my guess) and Momma plopped down the books on his desk. Momma explained that my books were national award winners and that all the proceeds go to animal charities. Bill bought all twelve copies on the spot. While doing the paperwork, Bill gave Momma a little history lesson. He said that Mary is his aunt and the daughter of David Park, whose iconic Bemidji house is featured in Minnesota’s Own, Preserving Our Grand Homes, a coffee table book by Larry Millett. Momma had attended several meetings there in her work on the Bemidji State University Foundation board, and was thrilled to have met someone who grew up in the house! David Park had moved to Bemidji in the 1920s and ran a successful dairy business which included Luxury ice cream shops with outlets in five states. The David Park house, built in the Moderne style in the mid-1930s, is located right across the street from BSU. Here are photos of Mary (and me) and the house where she lived.

Bill then suggested we get some pictures of me in front of his poster size photo of Paul and the Blue Ox for the Bemidji Woolen Mills website. Momma, getting more excited by the moment, flew out to the car and brought me in.

I did my usual rounds, warming up the crowd with face licks while Momma pawdographed the books for me. Next Momma and I posed for some pictures, and as you can see, my books are now featured at the Bemidji Woolen Mills!

Bill explained that Paul and Babe’s statues were built in 1937 to attract tourists as part of that year’s winter carnival. The folks in Bemidji thought the American folk hero and lumberjack was a perfect fit for their logging industry and surrounding forests.

Later Momma, did a little more research on the duo, and here’s what she dug up. Minnesota’s lakes were created by the footprints of the humungous Paul. (You talk about your tall tails!) Babe is blue because when Paul found him, he was very cold. According to the Kodak Company, Paul and Babe are the second most photographed statues in the United States after Mount Rushmore. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They stand 18′ and 10′ high respectively. Here they are in all their glory!

Pretty exciting, huh? So you should probably take a trip up there some summer (maybe not winter, or you’ll truly be chill and bluer that Babe the almost frozen ox), and visit beautiful Lake Bemidji and have your photo taken with the famous duo!

Oh, and while you’re at it, you should also stop at the Bemidji Woolen Mills (https://www.bemidjiwoolenmills.com/) and do some shopping. It is a fabulous store filled with woolen goods and gifts (and history), and they also carry my books!

Lina, Branching Out



Lucky Seven, Part Two

And just when I thought all the fun was over, Dr. Becca brought my BFF, Winnie, over on Sunday for a playdate/birthday cruise. It was so fantastic, I wrote my first poem:

Ode to a Pawntoon

Winnie and Lina went for a ride,
Dr. Becca and Momma by their side.

Watching their backs,
And giving them snacks.

Surrounded by sea,
Their hearts wild and free.

Wind whipping fur, gusts lifting ears,
Blue skies above, bountiful love.

Does it get any better?

Well, yes it does, because today Nanny Becky came over. That is always gift enough for me, but she also brought two cool presents — my very own stuffed puppy and a new ball. How did I ever get so lucky?

So much excitement, it was hard to take. Big time thanks to Momma, Dr. Becca (& Winnie) and Nanny Becky. Turning seven was definitely heavenly.

Lina, Ready for a Nap!



Lucky Seven

On Friday, I turned seven or ruffly forty-nine in dog years. Momma thinks I have officially reached maturity (and it’s a good thing — someone has to be the adult after all). I know exactly where to go potty in our yard, and poop and pee almost on command. I no longer resist Momma’s exuberant hugs and kisses when she comes home. I simply give in, because I know there’s no getting away from it. I have also learned that I must sit by my dish and wait for her to say, “okay” before diving in for food (see picture below). When we are going somewhere, I help her by jumping up as she lifts me into my car seat. When we go boarding, I scamper down to the board, hop on and wait for her. She has trained me well.

I have also trained Momma well. She must give me a treat or two before leaving the house. She must take a ball or frisbee with us when I go out to potty during the day. She must share her popcorn with me. She must take me along on the paddle board and pontoon. She mustn’t make me go in the water. And she must get up when I wake her promptly at 6:00 a.m. every day. One might woof that Momma and I are finally simpawtico in our routines.

For my birthday this year, she stayed home (golf was cancelled due to weather), and “dedicated” her day to me. “Today we will celebrate your birthday organically, Lina,” she proclaimed, which meant she hadn’t planned anything or bought me a gift. Just woofin’. But, I have to give her credit — she did her best to quickly come up with some “homegrown” fun. Some favorite pastimes that we could enjoy together. Here I am playing frisbee, on a walk, licking my chops, ready for a “spa time,” waiting for the dinner command, and taking a rest. Momma was busy snapping away so I could post all of our mindful activities.

Last minute, Momma went to Petsmart and snagged some treats and an oversized plastic doughnut as my birthday gift (not quite organic, but whatever). It’s too big for me to pick up and squeaks so insanely loud that it terrifies me. Other than that, it’s the perfect toy. Plus, I’ve already re-gifted it.

On sale, right?

Don’t get me wrong, Momma and I had a great time together doing simple things. Priceless.

Lina, All Grown Up!




Dear Readers,

The other day my administrative assistant, Momma, was updating our Twitter accounts. She wanted to make her profile more crisp and cool sounding like some of her right-wing friends who she has been following. She also wanted to change her photo to one from this decade and maybe add some “with it” hashtag phrases. And she thought, while she was at it, she’d tweak mine a bit, too.

First, she changed my banner picture to showcase my agility expertise, and then moved on to my account settings. Everything appeared to be in order (an exceptionally cute picture of me, a fun bio highlighting my accomplishments, etc.), except that she had previously neglected to fill out my birth date. Well, that’s a simple fix, thought my assistant, and she typed in August 27, 2014 (birthday coming right up!). Next she clicked on save, proud of her technical abilities. Except that when she clicked on save, she got a message crisply informing her that I was now locked out of my account!

A bit of panic ensued in Momma’s mind. Had she/I been cancelled? Didn’t Twitter realize (and Momma is convinced Twitter fact checkers read my blog) that I am a dyed-in-the-fur Democrat? And it’s your account after all, Lina, Momma exclaimed, arguments to get us unlocked already fluttering around in her head.

Turns out, it was a bit of a false alarm. The next message told her that one must be thirteen years old to even have a Twitter account. (And apparently, Twitter doesn’t know how to count in dog years. Just woofin’.) Well, it took a bit of fancy paw work, but Momma was able to resolve the problem using her own birthdate (no lockout there) and Twitter reinstated my account. Whew! I’ve lived to Tweet another day.

Lina, @linadogblogger



Season Finale

Dear Readers,

Last weekend, Momma took me to On the Run Canine Center in Ham Lake for our last agility trial of the summer, and I thought I’d share a short update and some photos . I did well in the Standard course — maybe my best run ever, at least on the public stage — so to woof. Here’s a video of it taken by our friend, B.J. Bowden. It’s quick (like me!) so won’t take much of your time.

Although I wasn’t outstanding in the other three runs that day, I did okay and photographer Mark Herreid captured some “on the run” moments.

As you can see, I love a good run and I gave it my all. Truth be woofed, however, I’m not a fan of hanging around the Center all day, waiting for the next event. Usually, I’m imprisoned in my little crate where I am unable to rest, much less sleep, with all the people and doggie racket going on around me. When I finally get let out by Momma, it’s either to go potty for the twentieth time (we would be disqualified and Momma would simply die if I pottied in the arena) or get hyped up by a wild-eyed Momma for the next run. It’s just hard on my psyche, and takes its toll.

It apparently takes a toll on Momma, too (she can be such a snowflake), because she’s thinking the same thing. She also hates the interminable waits between runs, and is wondering how we can escape sooner. In fact, now she’s wondering if there might be some kind of abbreviated (exclusive!) competition where only a few dogs run per day (instead of the usual 200 – 300 entries) that she hasn’t heard of yet. I know — so entitled, right? I hate to even admit it, but I’m with her on this one.

But for now, back to reality. We finished the seemingly endless competition last Sunday and earned a few more ribbons — the green ones in the photo are the important ones — the Qs — which bring us to the next level. We could already move up a level in two fun courses called Wildcard and Colors, but Momma (secretly intimidated by the more difficult runs) decided we should stay put fur now. Here I am with my winnings from the season.

Momma hasn’t found any of those mini-trials yet, but she did sign us up for another run-of-the-mill one this fall. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Lina, Still Following Momma’s Lead



Lina, Space Dog?

Dear Readers, I could take it or leave it but Momma has always been a big fan of the space program. One might even call her a space cadet. In high school she gave a speech about the disastrous fire that killed three astronauts on a launch pad. She also attended a ticker tape parade in 1969 with Astronauts Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin celebrating the first moon landing. A few years later, she and a former husband toured Cape Canaveral. She even flew to Orlando in May of 2011 to watch the liftoff of one of the last shuttle flights ever at nearby Merritt Island.

Here’s a video of the Discovery launch. Even I have to admit this was kinda pawsome.

I bring this up now because last week we watched Jeff Bezos, his brother, the rich Netherlands kid and Wally Funk, the eighty-two year old female space pioneer, blast into space in a Bezos’ Blue Origins spacecraft. Momma was so moved, she cried — both at liftoff (she digs the T minus countdown thing), and at landing. (“I just love American ingenuity, Lina!”) It was a bit of a yawn for me actually — a billionaire who spent a fortune so he could have a ten minute joy ride into space? And why did he come back to earth as Hopalong Cassidy?

Momma had a different take, however. She had no reservations about the space program and loved the idea of a space ride! In fact, thought Momma, if Ms. Funk (at her age) could journey to space, she could, too. The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to be an “astronaut!” And she wouldn’t even have to wear one of those old-fashioned bulky and unflattering space suits. No, she would wear a custom-made cool blue flight suit like Bezos! She knew becoming a passenger was a long (space) shot, but you never get anywhere without asking, she reasoned. She would fill out an application for a space ride (not that there was such a thing), but she would craft one, and “blast” it off. And to improve her chances, she would send it to all the space-minded billionaires: Bezos, Musk and Branson. (Momma felt — delusionally — that she had an “in” with all of them: She was a Prime member on Amazon, she had driven a Tesla once, and she had even been in a Branson resort overseas — although admittedly only to use the bathroom — but Richard didn’t need to know that.)

As Momma considered her chances, though, she knew she needed something to distinguish her from all the others that might be “applying.” And that’s when inspawration struck — she would bring me! I would be the first ever emotional support dog in space! And Momma was pretty sure she wouldn’t need a doctor’s excuse to bring me along (although not hard to get in our case I’m sure). She decided she would, however, need a “winning” photo or two of me to send with the application, so she jumped on Amazon (she would mention this to Jeff in the application) to shop for a doggie spacesuit. Here I am all geared up. What do you think? Will these do the trick?

All I can woof is they better have doggie treats in space.

Lina, God Speed



An Eventful Couple of Weeks

Dear Readers,

Last week started out with a bang. Of course it did; it was the 4th of July, Momma’s favorite holiday. With all the fireworks and patriotic music celebrating America’s independence, she was in ecstasy!

So first, Momma takes me to Camp Bow Wow to protect me from the fireworks trauma, and to her credit, she did get me a suite (see photo right) with my own television and doggie videos. (Momma: “Don’t forget to mention that I also got you special ‘playtime,’ ‘snuggle time,’ and brush outs. Just sayin . . . “)

Unfortunately, a couple of days later, I turned up with a pretty bad UTI. Because Momma was actually working for once, Nanny Becky took me to the vet and Momma picked me up later that day armed with medications. We were all set to make the big trip to “up-state” Minnesota for Momma’s All School Reunion when Nanny convinced Momma to leave me with her (“Lina should not be stuck in that car seat for five hours, and she should stay with Tom and me where we can keep a close eye on her and her doctors are close by”). I know — a bit over-the-top, but can I help it? Momma thought about it for a second, “reluctantly” agreed and off she went. Yippee!

Momma says this was the best reunion ever: she had a great time connecting with old friends and loved the style show, the talent show, the Elvis impersonator and the Reunion parade. She also got caught up in The Trap (it’s a bar and the name speaks for itself), and spent a leisurely morning at a nearby farm enjoying pancakes and a horse-drawn wagon ride or two. It was a real slice of Americana, she gushed!

Momma would also want me to mention that she and her dear friend, Carole, won the talent competition, complete with a little microphone trophy (although microphone is a touchy subject for Momma because of the interminable technical delay it caused just as they took the stage) and a $100 prize. What she wouldn’t want me to mention is that their only competition was a trio of alumni cheerleaders performing the Gonvick school song (although it, too, was great, Momma had to admit). Here are Carole and Momma collecting their award.

Momma also found a little time to peddle my books (I had given her authority to pawdograph them should she sell any). Her neighbor at the lake, Sue, and Sue’s grandson, Noah, made a cool poster for her card table — also borrowed from Sue next door. See, it does take a village. Anyway, here she is at the Reunion “Craft Show” with her wares.

I know — kind of pathetic looking, right? Oh, wait, I guess Momma did manage to lasso some local guys into getting my books. She seems a bit distracted so I hope she remembered to charge them. Just woofin’.

From there, Momma went to the American Legion where she enjoyed a beer and sold two more books. The next day she sold a dozen at a local church gathering. One of her customers, Terry, pointed out that selling the books at the church was likely unlawful and unethical, or at least sinful. Momma continued counting the money and did her best to ignore him.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch — sorry, I’m still in horse-drawn carriage mode — I was living the “Life of Riley” in the very stable home of Tom and Becky. Here I am lounging on their couch, getting ready for a ride with Tom, guarding their glamper, kicking back on the deck and posing for a selfie with grandson, Breccan. Now this is a slice of Americana!

Soon enough, Momma blew back into town and it all came to an end. All in all, though, a good time — I recovered from the UTI and relished some wholesome family time, Momma is $50 richer, and the Animal Humane Society and Helping Paws Minnesota will reap the rewards of our book sales!

Lina, Stalwart Sidekick!



Trials and Tribulations

Dear Readers,

My agility work continues, and Momma and I competed in our third trial last Sunday. And this one had a real twist to it. Read on.

Once again, the trial (and I’m beginning to realize why they are called trials) was in Rochester which made for a stressful beginning to our day. Once again, we had to get up in the middle of the night, wolf down breakfast, and race to our venue. Luckily, we arrived safely at Soccer World and got set up just in time for the 7:30 briefing.

Afterwards, Momma walked the course to figure out the best route for us. The game was called Standard, and it was our longest and most complex course of the day. We were only the second participant, and Momma did her best to rev me up (as Annelise had encouraged) with tricks and jumps and talking to me in an excited voice — not exactly her forte. It seemed to work, though, because we did great and earned another Q and a blue ribbon! Momma was thrilled. (I’m only surprised we’re not going to Disneyland.)

Luckily, Mark Herreid was on paw again to take photos, and he captured some of my best moments.

Momma had signed me up for four games (as opposed to three) this time, thinking that I should be able to handle it by now. Our second run was called Colors, a relatively easy and fun little course. We also earned a Q there, but I wasn’t quite as “revved up” for this run. In fact, I was starting to feel a little out of sorts.

Our third run was called Wildcard, and we usually do well on that one. Once again, Momma tried to get me hyped up with jumps and tricks and squeaky talk beforehand, but I just wasn’t feeling it. We did not qualify, and Momma was feeling a little down in the dumps (have I mentioned she’s competitive?), and wondering what was wrong with me. I was wondering what was wrong with me, too.

Nevertheless, we forged ahead with our day, and because we had a long break before our final run, Momma signed me up for a massage. (Is there ever any “extra” she misses at these things?) Here I am with Jim Mihalek of “Spot On Canine Massage.” He did a fantastic job, but take a look at my face — maybe a clue that I wasn’t in top form?

Shortly after my massage and before our final run of the day, Momma put me back in the crate to do her course walk. And that’s when it happened. This hound hurled! I just couldn’t help it. One might woof I was sick as a dog.

Unfortunately Momma did not see it, and we went through the motions of our final run. When she finally found the little mounds of vomit in my crate, she was horrified. What had caused me to be sick, she wondered. Did she get me up too early? Drive too crazy on the way down here? Did she run me too soon after breakfast? Get me too stressed with all the pep talks? Did we do too many runs? Should she have skipped the massage? Should she stop at the Mayo Clinic on the way home? (Okay, I made that one up, but the rest are true.)

After Momma made sure I was okay, she carried me to the car and went back for the rest of our stuff. Driving home, she reflected on our day. We did have a good first couple of runs. But she didn’t want to make me sick either. Maybe this was just an aberration and next time would be fine? Not knowing what the answer was, Momma decided she would think about it tomorrow, just like Scarlett O’Hara. We have another trial coming up August 1. I’ll keep you posted.

Lina, Resting Up



If at first you don’t succeed . . .

Dear Readers,

Last weekend, Momma and I traveled to Soccer World in Rochester, Minnesota, for our second Canine Performance Event agility trial. Although we didn’t do a trial run on Saturday to make sure we could find Rochester, Sunday began excruciatingly early (4:00 am — Momma was still a little worried about logistics) and it was a full day!

When we arrived at the arena, Momma couldn’t find a place for us to set up our crate and chair because all the obvious spots were already taken. In a bit of a panic, she approached the first man she saw and asked where we could set up. Later, Momma suspected it was — but desperately hoped it wasn’t — the actual judge, Mike Brownell, that she commandeered for help. (She claims to suffer from Facial Recognition Disorder, but I call it Momma is a Ditz Disorder.) Anyway, the man helped us find a remote corner spot and we settled in.

Since we knew absolutely no one at this event, Momma tried chatting up several doggie mommas and daddies with very little success. In fact, by the time we ran Standard, the first event of the day, we had no friends or supporters, and Momma was feeling unmoored and not just a little nervous. And to be honest, I felt the same. Here I am at the starting line of our first run. Can you woof, “help!”?

Photo by Mark Herreid

Not surprisingly, I was distracted and we went over time. I did complete all the obstacles on the course, however, since Momma did not know what to do when the horn blew and we kept going. Even though I was a tad embarrassed, I did appreciate the practice.

Our day got more interesting when Momma realized there was a professional photographer on site. She immediately corralled him and asked to see his photos of us, indicating she was sure she would buy a package because her dog, Lina, had her own blog. Pointedly not asking any followup questions, he showed us his shots. In addition to the one above, Momma chose the following. Kinda cool, huh?

Our next event was Wildcard. I was still a little unnerved, but did better and earned a Q (qualifying score) and blue ribbon. Okay, full disclosure again, I was the only dog in the Level 2, 8″ class. Nevertheless, we savored our awards.

After that run, we had a long break between events and Momma moved her chair into the viewer portion of the arena to try to get more involved in the action. Truth be told, she was becoming a little disillusioned, and as she watched the other participants, she had a moment of doubt. Was she really cut out for this? Was I? Did she not fit in with the agility crowd? Did I need a doggie psychologist? Did she?

As Momma sat pawndoring, our future, she had a thought. Maybe if she brought me out to sit with her, I’d become more acclimated to the sights, sounds and smells of the arena, and be able to focus better for our final run. (I also think she didn’t want to sit alone anymore, but I’m not going to point any paws.)

And guess what — that was just the ticket. And not just because I became used to the frenetic activity of the arena, but also because I happen to be an expert at making friends. The minute we settled in, two nice ladies sitting next to us asked Momma if they could pet me. Momma, realizing a door had just opened, almost threw me into their arms.

Tara and Kerry

The ladies were Tara Post, a trainer from Paws Abilities down the road, and Kerry Todd who works at the Mayo Clinic. Thank you Tara and Kerry! I calmed right down and Tara even gave Momma tips on getting me jazzed up for our next run. Through them we also met Shirley Sax and her dog, Abbey, from Eagan. Abbey is just the cutest little thing. This was their first trial and they had already won several ribbons. Momma was thrilled to learn that Shirley and Abbey will be at the next trial in Rochester on June 20.

In Jumpers, our last run of the day, we were both more relaxed and confident, and did great. We earned another Q and a blue ribbon for first place — and yes, this time I was not the only dog in my class! Game on!

Lina, Staying the Course