Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking Back, Thinking Ahead

Oh, how cute!  While looking for a specific picture on my computer, I came across some puppy pictures of Argus - shots I didn't remember I had. What fun! They were taken when Argus was about the same age his son Max is now.  Such a cute puppy, and the right color too.  Nothing cuter than brownie babies.   If I could change just one thing on Max, I'd make him a handsomely spotted liver.  Then he'd be just perfect.

Well, not really perfect, but perfect for me, and an ever better looking pup, but he's handsome in black too!  Wish he had a bit less color, but the overall pattern is good, and I love the rest of him.  Really pretty shape, with super nice structure and movement, plus a wonderful personality.  He's one of those pups that just makes you smile because he's so cute and always happy.  Just like his dad.

And so it begins.  I sent out a couple of inquiries yesterday, looking for the right liver bitch to lease and breed to Argus later this year.  I'd STILL like a liver Argus kid, and a liver to liver breeding certainly increases my chances.  Although many breeders don't do liver to liver, I've done it quite a few times with good results.  Nikon, the dam of Penny and granddam of all the young liver Paisley stars, is from a liver to liver breeding, and she had an all liver litter bred to Argus.  As long as you're extra careful about spotting and trim, and have buyers for liver pups, it can work out well.  Argus bred to Rosie's Aruba, also liver, produced Best In Show winning Pauli, DCA Best of Breed winner Krash, and several other nice livers, a couple of them gorgeously marked.  I normally have both pet and show homes that would prefer liver, so placing them is rarely a problem.  We'll see what comes of this.

The right liver bitch would have a really good pedigree, preferably with the lines I know match up particularly well with Argus, have all her health testing, and would have a wonderful personality.  Maybe she doesn't even exist, or if she does her owners would never consider this.  No harm in asking though.  Typically breedings are planned for the bitch, finding the right stud dog for her, but I'm doing just the opposite, looking for just the right liver bitch for Argus, because I want a liver Argus kid, and have no one in this line to breed to him.  Eventually I will look for a husband for Argus's beautiful granddaughter Amery, but she's not even old enough for all her health testing yet, and I wouldn't breed her back to Argus anyway.  Our girls are Argus daughters and granddaughters, so I'll try this route again.  Worked wonderfully well breeding Holly to Argus and by next fall I might be ready for puppies again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Another three day weekend, the last until Memorial Day, and again I found myself thinking about how it would feel to be retired and not have to go back to work today.  This is the first year I've felt that way, either a function of my age or the fact that I have set a tentative date.  Honestly, I still enjoy my job (most days) and like the people I work with (most of them), but I don't want to do this forever!  While going through paperwork for my taxes, I carefully read through my social security update, as well as my state retirement information, added up the numbers and wondered if I could live on that . . .    Again, the first time I have actually done that.

My projected time for retirement is July 2014.  I'll be 66 years old and will have worked for MNDot for 34 years. I've paid into state retirement and social security for all that time, and having worked since I was 15, have paid into social security for far longer than 34 years. I'll be well past the proverbial "rule of 90" which used to be everyone's goal for retirement if they worked for the state.  Do I want to wait that long?  Will I be ready to go then?  Guess that depends on a lot of things including the upcoming parking crisis.

I currently park in Lot X, an area leased from Sears in their large parking lot across the street from the MNDot building.   The state leases something like 980 parking spaces, most of which are used every day by state employees.  We pay for parking (the only state employees who do), and sometimes complain about the cost and the walk, but things are scheduled to get fa worse next fall.  Sears recently announced that they are planning to use their space to construct additional retail space for lease and possibly multi-family housing as well.  The state's lease will not be renewed, and will expire next fall.  So what is in store for all the employees who park there now?

With the light rail line scheduled for completion next year, the property along the line has become more valuable.  The Sears store is an under-performer, and we've always assumed that the store would eventually close and the property would be sold.  It probably could have been purchased by the state for a reasonable price in year's past, but not anymore, and there is no property available for a new parking lot, very limited street parking, and no nearby pay lots or ramps.  So what will happen to us and how will our parking needs be met?

One thing I know for sure is that I will not be spending two hours on the bus going to and from work each day.  Although I only live seven miles away, there is no direct bus route, and I'm also used to being able to go home at noon.  The decisions that are made on the parking issue may very definitely affect when I retire.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day Off

Day off, still in jammies, playing on the computer.  Lots of stuff left on the To Do List but it's been a productive weekend.  Dogs have had fun too, as Sue took Josie running yesterday, and I took Fernly and Argus down to Hidden Falls Park for a run.  Had to do the woods path rather than the beach, as I know that Fern would have gone in the water, then gotten too cold to finish a long hike.

Today I need to take the car down for a good vacuuming and wash.  I could do it myself, but the professional job is much better and I splurge on that several times a year, especially when the hair becomes Too Much, as it is now.  Just spent way too much money on the car's "innards", so now I need to take care of the rest of it.

Max is signed up to start puppy class next week, so we went down to PetCo for a Puppy Playtime yesterday.  He did well, though was much more interested in talking to the owners than the puppies.  He was friendly and brave, but loves to meet new people.  Like Watson would have done, he made the rounds taking time to "meet" each person, then played with the pups for awhile.  Also spent a lot of time trying to get out of the fenced enclosure which he considered too small.  It was not climbable, so he stood back, ran hard, took a flying leap, and hit the sit of the pen about halfway up.  Did that several times before giving up.  That's my boy, always looking for taller buildings to leap - little Super Dog.  What fun he is!  What a challenge he will be.

The rugs are back down in the basement so I have my training area available again.  Fern and Max each go down with me for at least one training session a day, Fern to work on her Stays, and her show stacks and baiting, Max to work on his Sits, Downs, Stands, and a bit of stacking.  Fern's reward is chasing and catching a tennis ball, Max's chasing a ball or running on the treadmill for a few seconds.  He STILL loves that.

Watson's splint is off and his foot is getting better each day.  He was still pretty lame when it came off, but seems to be working the stiffness out of it, and getting his mobility back.  At first I was concerned that the bone had not healed, but remembered how my ankle felt after being in a pressure boot for 6 weeks.  Takes awhile to get mobility back!  Ron walked Watson to the corner yesterday which he really enjoyed.   The first day after the splint came off, Watson licked his leg constantly, presumably because it was itchy.  Getting his leg and especially his foot washed, plus some Benedryl and Tramadol, and he's no longer fussing over it.  Because Watson will be 13 in May his health issues were especially worrisome, but with a father who lived to be 15 1/2 and a mother who lived to be 14 1/2, hopefully he's got several good years left.  Love this sweet gentle dog.