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Good Grandma MoJo

Years ago when my mother was still with us, I used to joke with her about her uncanny ability to enter the parking lot of the busiest store on Christmas Eve and find the parking spot closest to the door, whether it was occupied or not.

She had perseverance, that woman did. She would bide her time and eyeball a slot, and as if by magic, it would empty as she approached it.

She was smooth too. I mean who’s gonna wrestle with a grandmother?

When I was pregnant with my son, towards the end of the pregnancy I was unable to do a whole heck of a lot. My mother would drive us anywhere we needed to go when she made the pilgrimage from Florida to stay with me the last 2 months of my term.

I used to marvel at her ability to claim the spot, most coveted by every driver, especially on those wretched days where close proximity to a door, any door, would be construed as a very good thing.

My son grew up with the stories of Grandma MoJo and to this day, when we enter a parking lot, we thank the Grandma MoJo for guiding us to a convenient spot.

We are successful more often than not, and I like to think of it as my mom’s legacy to me after her passing two years ago.

We have extended her MoJo to virtually every encounter of traffic, pulling out of our favorite watering hole, the grocery store, the gas station, the driveway; which sits precariously between a steep hill from the west and a blind curve from the east.

As we pull towards any convergence of parking area and traffic, one of us is sure to murmur “Grandma MoJo” as we merge fluidly into that traffic without hesitation in our momentum. Once we are in motion, we tend to stay in motion when The Grandma MoJo is invoked.

Much like my mother was throughout her life.

Not that Grandma MoJo would be my automotive salvation; it’s nice to know I paid attention in drivers school (taught by my mother of course, who could give top racers a run for their money, or Secret Service drivers in the commission of protecting the POTUS) and having logged well over a million miles in my lifetime, I’m a pretty fair driver behind the wheel. But it’s good to have The Grandma by my side.

Grandma MoJo is my way to remember her and I am thankful for any memory that takes me closer to my mother. We both found peace behind the wheel of a car and I find it a fitting tribute that every time I turn the key in the ignition, I divine the Grandma MoJo.

So today I decide to travel west across the Catoctin mountains to visit with Pat Nolan and see Joe do something new in someplace new. I had not seen Pat in months and I missed being in the field with the enthusiasm of the dogs and the folks who train them.

I didn’t watch the weather report closely enough before I left.

I saddle up Joe, always excited about the prospect of adventure afield, turned my back to the weather report I did see (now who really believes the weather man?) and headed out, west on 77 until it ends at 64. Only 31.7 miles of smooth sailing through some very pretty, peaceful country.

Chugging through the narrows of route 77 up through the mountains, I see the river crusted over in spots, the current running underneath the ice. It looked cold. At an ambient air temperature of 21 degrees, I imagine it’s very cold.

Over the mountaintop and down the other side into the valley that comprises Smithsburg, the clouds threaten but remain inert.

We end up on a farm road through some pristine, open land. The road itself was a tractor path to which Rocky’s old bones creaked and groaned over the ruts. We fell in behind Pat’s rig, following him through a gully with about a foot of water in it covered by some pretty heavy ice. There was a dicey moment where I thought I would be pressing Rocky into service to pull Pat’s truck out, but with all that power, it’s pretty impressive what his dually can do.

We finally park at the top of a path that bisects two fields; corn stubble on one side, what looked like soy on the other.

Looking east towards the mountains, the clouds have dropped lower and taken on the steel grey mist of precipitation. Our snow had arrived.

We ran our dogs. Joe did well enough to not embarrass me entirely, and it was genuinely good to be there, among friends.

It wasn’t a hard snow, they weren’t predicting much, but it was covering the ground quickly, and now I was west of the mountains.

The area temps had been below freezing for over a week with wind chills in the single digits. What was falling was sticking. With no preparation on the part of the D.O.T. it could get pretty ugly pretty fast.

We said our good byes and I opted to lead the way in the event that Pat had trouble at the bottom of that farm lane again.

From Smithsburg to Thurmont, route 77 has it’s share of hairpin turns, narrowing of lanes and road crowning that could easily land an unwary driver ass over teakettle in the wash comprised of house-sized boulders and deadfall from last year’s blizzard.

It is an honest road. When the signs post speed limits of 30 mph and lower, there are valid reasons. On a good day. A nice little nest of turns and twists, uncomplicated if you are smart and only moderately challenging on a motorcycle with an experienced rider. On a good day. A couple of snowflakes on an untreated surface high up the mountain amidst all those snake-like turns and it could get rough.

Especially in an 11-year-old Expedition named Rocky with less than perfect front tires and rear brakes that needed replacing probably about a year ago.

If there was ever a time to invoke The MoJo, it was now.

It would seem that traveling 25 mph through the mountains may be an irritant to some folks, but I had a family to think about and I intended to arrive alive.

The vast majority of the trip down to Thurmont I was unaccompanied, with the exception of the dolt in the little silver toy SUV who was eager to go much faster. As I banked precariously to the right to allow him to pass, I conferred him some MoJo too, because at 7600 pounds and with only two good tires, Rocky was still better equipped that this poor guy. I waved him on and continued as slowly as I wanted.

Catching the brakes occasionally to reassure myself that I still had them, I would test the road surface and feel enough of a drag to realize that the ice was building up pretty quickly. But being in a state where common sense seems to abandon drivers with the threat of a rain drop or snow flake was a much greater concern to me.

Sure enough, the little silver toy truck was nose-first at the bottom of the mountain in somebodies front yard just before the SR 15 overpass in Thurmont.

I resisted the urge to wave.

Four wheel drive does absolutely nothing in icy conditions. It may not have been icy at RT 77 and RT 64, but it was icy on the mountain.

I hadn’t even engaged mine. At over 3.5 tons, I didn’t really feel the need…

But it does require dexterity behind the wheel and a modicum of common sense.

Thing is, the roads weren’t that bad. But if one was foolish, they could be very bad. Just an inch of snow on a frozen, untreated road surface should be sufficient to trigger some common sense. But this is Maryland.

Beyond Keymar, I ran into the bus traffic from the county releasing the kids early from school. Buses stopping and starting on hills to let kids out sent drivers skittering left and right if they were too close or traveling too fast. Me and Rocky and The MoJo stayed out of trouble.

As I pulled into the driveway, my husband was coming down the hill from the house with one of the pups. I invited him out to run some errands after he finished up.

Our final errand found us at the gas station and as we pulled away from the pumps into Route 140 traffic, my husband obligingly thanked the good Grandma MoJo.

I silently thanked her too.



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My Chicken Hound

Retiree ‘Cotton’ helps drive the chickens home to roost. The chokeberries across the way are their favorites, putting the birds at risk for predators, including careless cars.

Driving poultry isn’t a very traditional job for a Pointer, but he loves it and it allows him to express his natural desire to hunt for and locate game. He’s still pretty steady and he still quarters, even though he hasn’t been ahead of a gun in quite a few years.

When the weather is bad, we send him on to locate the birds and round them up to their shelter. He doesn’t mind, since he is rewarded with his favorite shirt and a cozy place by the big couch. A priveledge few others get to enjoy.

He has successfully tracked truant birds and has learned quite on his own how to turn them towards home as opposed to drive them further afield.

I take him for granted. Like a favorite jacket or my car keys. Always there, always ready to do…SOMEthing….

Career disruptions, injuries and finances kept this dog from being great.

A sire of champions when he, himself is unfinished, protector and companion to my only child and demonstration dog/helpmate in the training of thousands of dogs over the course of the last eight years.

His uncanny ability to read dogs and his tolerance for puppies and foolish youth are legendary and the most valuable asset in my training arsenal. He is an indespensable, integral component of my personal success as a dog trainer and he deserves more credit than he’s gotten.

My best friend and one of the most versatile dogs I have ever owned.

Good boy, Cotton.

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Filed under Back Yard Chickens, Chickens, dog training, Hunting Dogs, Poultry, Soup Of The Day, Uncategorized

Why would a man buy an $800.00 suit

… and then put Alpo in his pocket to feed a dog?” Joe Garagiola, February 18, 1998.

Yet again, I tortured myself and my family; ignored my telephone, my crackberry and my own private admonitions that watching this was going to be a consummate waste of time bad idea.

Announcer Jim Fagan was clearly out of his element, butchering the names of many of the breeds, mumbling incoherently about nothing it would seem and bypassing the courtesy of at least getting the numbers and the breeds right when announcing the Best in Show winners as they entered the ring for the final time. I think I heard “This is dog number 22” at least three times as the first few of the seven group winners entered the Best in Show ring.

But that is nothing in comparison to the  torturous  colorless commentary by Frei and his co-host Tamron Hall.  Absent were the casual asides about the character of the breeds and their suitability as working dogs and or pets.  Although there were some, the mindless chatter that passes as usable information was thankfully lacking.  There were generous amounts of how people interested in pets from these breeds would probably want to “keep the coats trimmed in puppy cuts” but decidedly absent were the remarks about work ethic and purpose. More on the admission that the show dogs have been bred away from their original purposes as in the case of the Dobe.

Pedigreed Dogs Exposed getting to ya?

It was nice to see a large contingent of dogs from Maryland represented in all of the groups; with as many as 8 in the working group. A few from my old homeland of Earlville, New York were represented in the Terrier group.

I was pleased to see Earlville was not a figment of my imagination. In the neighboring town of Hamilton, home of Colgate University, there used to be a wonderful sub shop.  But I digress.

Is Vin-Melca the only breeder of Norwegian Elkhounds in the world? Pat Trotter is known for her dogs doing well in the show ring, but one has to wonder if anything but a Vin-Melca dog can win. Although I thought the Whippet was nice, I preferred the Ridgeback for his power and his wonderful conditioning and ring presence. He got lost in the kerfuffle.

The Toy breeds always bring out the ‘awww’ factor in people. I was not surprised with the Poodle’s win, although I thought there were better dogs out there. Pretty hair makes for a nice presentation I guess, as historically, most of the Best in Show winners are hair breeds that take a lot of time and effort.

The French Bulldog certainly had his fans, but truth be told, although I am a fan of the breed I think there were better dogs in the breed ring. The dog that took the breed is Canadian bred, judged by a Canadian judge. That explains the breed ring, but in the group judging it was easy to get lost. I probably would have ended up with the Lhasa. Beautiful handling and presentation, nice dog moving too.

It was nice to see Linda More get the Herding assignment. I had worked for Linda and Eliot More in the way distant past so it was easy to see where she would go with the judging. I probably would have done the same thing with the exception of leaving the German Shepherd out entirely in favor of the Sheltie since movement didn’t seem to be that much of a criterion.  I have never seen such a collection of sickle hocks in my life.

In a trip back through the wayback machine  I vividly recall a conversation with a prominent handler and soon-to-be judge that “Most of the big winners are sickle hocked.  It makes for a spectacular outline and better side gait.”

Uh, ok…

By this time my husband is ‘getting it’. After several decades, he now knows why I  want to twist off my own head  stopped showing dogs.

The second day greets us with  what was the most atrocious collection of  sporting dogs  ever assembled under one roof  on the green carpet.

Suffice it to say that my breeds of choice, the Flatcoat, the Weimeraner, the Griffon and the Chessy would have been the top contenders, with the Brittany somewhere in the mix. Out of the four dogs in the final cut, it was easy to see the Brittany winning. The better dogs were shown the door.

The working dogs at least offered a better variety of unsoundness from which to choose.  Again, a Skansen’s Giant Schnauzer represents, leaving pause to wonder if there are any other breeders of this breed anywhere?

I will not complain about the Dobe, nor the Boxer. Although the Boxer was a little long for my taste, moving she was clean and sound. There was another dog that should have made it into the final lineup however; the Rottweiler. A magnificent dog who had the misfortune of being owned by a first-time dog owner and a first time competitor, as stated by our hosts when he took his turn under the judge’s hand.

Any number of terriers could have won their group.  The Terrier breeds are always fun to watch. I remember back inna day when the judges would allow them to go toe-to-toe and ‘spar’ which is obviously frowned on today.  My principal concern was an issue of questionable character from the AmStaff and a little spar between the Norwich and the eventual winner after the final selection was made, beyond the less-than-obvious ones linked to in the next paragraph.

I’ll not go into detail about the ultimate winner. There are a few links from bloggers here and here who were kind enough to beat me to the punch.

The Garden is not about dogs. I am not convinced it ever really was, although I played my part in it for many years.  I did not intend this to be a screed about the condition of purebred dogs today or ever, but it kinda ended up that way.

I deliberately removed myself from show dogs in favor of other, more gratifying and meaningful pursuits many years ago.  It pains me that  so much has changed, so little has changed  nothing has changed.

In a variety of articles in the Canine Chronicle, show dog luminaries dissect what they feel is ‘wrong’with the sport as recently as January of this year. I apologize for not supplying links, it seems that the links that were made available to me are no longer functioning.

With the current angst over the recent documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and the rapid decline in the AKC’s individual registrations and dog show entries overall, it comes as no surprise to me at least that there may well be changes in the future.

The recent interest in registering mix breed dogs is an indicator that maybe the AKC is grasping.  Either with the reality that they can no longer survive as “the Dog’s Champion” or the “Only U.S.registry ‘that matters'” or that the public have finally come to the realization that a pup with AKC papers is no guarantee of anything.

The misrepresentation of dog shows as a showcase of dogs bred to perform jobs they were originally designed for is no more or less critical here than elsewhere. The consummate insult is when the AKC insists that what they do is good for dogs.

Breeders are still the most responsible for the tragic state of purebred dogs, breeding for the show ring and mindless of the risks of concentrating their bloodlines on one or two specific animals. If the vast majority of purebred dogs end up in pet homes, it is of the ultimate importance for any breeder to consider the importance of sound temperament and health in their planning.

I leave the readers with this, conjured up from the wayback machine when I was researching a conversation that had transpired between Joe Garagiola and Roger Caras at the Garden many years ago, inspired by an exchange between myself and Heather Houlihan over at Raised by Wolves.

I met Captain Haggerty two years later at my very first visit of many to the Garden and over the many years that followed, I had the opportunity to get to know him through some of the same email lists and associations we shared in common.

It is so very sad to see that although the names have changed, so much is still the same.

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Filed under Breeding Dogs, Dog Genetics, Dog Politics, Purebred Dogs, Show Dogs, Uncategorized

Hoist by my own Petard or, does this look broken to you?

Countless people will snicker and laugh at my current dilemma.

For decades I extol the virtues of wearing the proper clothing for dog training, comfortable, weather appropriate clothing, closed shoes…

Yeah, about the closed shoes.

Well there really IS a reason, of which I in my arrogance clearly needed a reminder of.

Working a young, relatively weighty dog on a drag line, I was casting him to a training table and in his effort to avoid the request I smartly stood on the line with my left foot and scooped the slack with my right to urge him with a bit of leash pressure to go to the table from a distance of about 8 feet.

Super-cool maneuver as the purpose of the task was to remind the dog that my hands were free but correction can come from any source.

Having done this thousands of times before ( in appropriate shoes, of course) I was wholly unprepared for any problems for my sandaled feet.

Lo and behold, the line runs across my right toe, down below the second toe and along the tops of the remaining toes and as I pop the line to the left to take out the slack and redirect the dog; I feel a sickening snap as my toe is bent awkwardly into a position I am sure that toes are neither accustomed to, nor designed for.

Ouch. Is about all I can say.

That, and please wear appropriate shoes.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Extreme Sheep Herding

Stole the idea from a colleague and hijacked it from YouTube to bring it here.

This is a laugh riot!

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Vote for Moe

Do your part to help out! Click HERE for where, click HERE for why.

Good cause, easy to do, no commitments required, honest!

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Legislators tell Feds to "Back Off"

New speech, press, gun or ammunition limits ‘altogether void’

Posted: February 05, 2009
12:00 am Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Lawmakers in New Hampshire are telling the federal government to back off because plans for a federal handgun license, “hate crimes” laws to regulate Christians’ speech about their own religious beliefs on homosexuality, President Obama’s youth corps for mandatory public service and the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” to “balance” talk radio are none of them constitutional.

Such plans by the bureaucrats and administrators in Washington, D.C., are “altogether void” and if mandated, “shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States,” the lawmakers are warning.

The terse alarm is contained in House Concurrent Resolution 6, which has been introduced for debate. It affirms states’ rights “based on Jeffersonian principles.”

It’s not the first such move in the United States. WND reported last year when state representatives in Oklahoma, steamed over a perceived increase in federal usurping of states’ rights, approved Joint House Resolution 1089 on a 92-3 vote to reassert the state’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment and serve “notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates.”

According to, a website assembled in support of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Missouri, Washington and Arizona also have moved in the direction of reasserting states’ rights.

The Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people,” and also is being cited in the New Hampshire plan.

It states that New Hampshire people “have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America…”

That means, the resolution states, any “Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of American or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government … and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America.”

It lists as actions that the federal government would be prohibited from doing:

Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition.
New Hampshire Rep. Dan Itse, a sponsor of the resolution, said he wants New Hampshire to be among the states “standing up to the federal government, enforcing the Constitution.”

He called the current status in the United States, with federal rules and regulations reaching into virtually every facet of a state citizen’s life, “a usurpation by the federal judiciary of the people’s right of self-government.”

“What I see happening is a growing disregard for the rights of individuals and the rights of the states. At some point you have to draw the line,” he told WND.

The resolution then, he said, is a warning.

“If you’re in a marriage, and things are going rotten, it’s not right just to all of a sudden hand the other party divorce papers. The right thing to do is say, ‘there’s a problem. Let’s go to counseling.’ This is in essence telling the general government if you continue down this road – you will have nullified the Constitution,” he told WND.

He said New Hampshire lawmakers already have defied the federal government in approving a ban on the Real ID, a government program to stiffen identity procedures.

The New Hampshire resolution points out that New Hampshire was set up as “a free, sovereign and independent body-politic, or State” and when its residents ratified the U.S. Constitution they recommended: “That it be Explicitly declared that all Powers not expressly & particularly Delegated by the aforesaid are reserved to the several States to be, by them Exercised.”

In a direct attack on federal authority the resolution states: “Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

It cites the specific powers given the federal government in the Constitution: to deal with treason, counterfeiting and piracy.

At American Thinker, commentator Larrey Anderson wrote that the plan is pending in the legislature’s State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee, and also is supported by Rep. Paul Ingbretson, Rep. Tim Comerford, and Sen. William Denley.

“Interestingly, the authors of the New Hampshire Resolution took most of the language from the document commonly known as ‘Jefferson and Madison’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1798,'” he wrote. “The New Hampshire Resolution boldly defends the state’s (and it citizen’s) rights preserved under the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution.”

He noted a concurrent resolution lacks legal authority as a non-binding expression of the intentions of the legislature.

“Nevertheless, these four New Hampshire state legislators have shown much courage by introducing (or reintroducing) these precious principles that have been the bedrock of our republic,” Anderson wrote. “Maybe HCR 6, the shot heard round little old New Hampshire, will inspire more Americans to realize the desperate need to free ourselves from an overreaching federal government. In which case, the shot heard round New Hampshire might become the next shot heard round the world.”

Participants in the site’s forum page said they were sending information on the resolution to lawmakers in Virginia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Michigan and other states. Several other participants said they wished their own lawmakers had such fortitude.

“At least one state gets it,” said one forum participant. “We must free ourselves of that which I firmly believe wants to enslave us, our own government.”


Maybe there is hope after all, perhaps people will begin to identify with the principal that it is not the people that work for the Government, but the Government that works for the people.

If thine eye deceives thee….

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