Farli’s Birthday

July 2nd, 2007 by Diane

Blackwood’s Linden Farli JH OAJ OA CD RA ONYX UTP3 CGC TDI
Farli celebrated her 14th Birthday on 2 July 2007. She has been a wonderful hunting dog and great companion. She is mostly deaf and partly blind and can not detect scent as well as she could. She has a head tilt and loss of balance due to a vestibular lesion Due to arthritis she is in pain most days even with three different pain meds and joint supplements. But she can still can do 3 of her 4 favorite things (hunting, cuddling and eating) even if flyball is now out because she can’t do her box turn. Even on days when she hurts she is determined to have fun. She joyfully “buys” treats with her tennis ball – which helps get her to be motivated to swim to maintain muscle without pounding joints. The pond is great for both dogs – too bad we don’t have a heated place for swimming in winter.

Farli is still my great love and we have special “old lady” agility so she can train and succeed. A sit during obedience play is now lowering her rump about an inch as the process of sitting hurts – we both accept the symbolic sit and reward the effort. Ritka now finds more prey when we hunt – but Farli enjoys every minute and hunts “smarter” even if her physical skills are limited. The hawks still trust Farli more than Ritka. I now have to treasure each birthday so I thought I’d share the joys of an old lady.

We have to remember the great retrieves when she climbed 30 feet up oak trees to get wounded birds. Or down & up gulches & through rivers. Hunts where we spent hours afterward removing hundreds of cactus spines. The day as a pup she spend 90 minutes determined to retrieve a healthy (but non-flying) goose and finally succeeded – I don’t think I’ve ever been forgiven for letting it loose. Times she found birds in fields other dogs had hunted, but missed the birds. The day she held point for 30 minutes while I helped an old man hobble over rough terrain to get in position to shoot. We listened to him tell tails of hunts in his youth. Farli retrieved a pheasant for him that he had “winged”, so he could go home with a good memory of what may have been one of his last hunts. Times when Farli helped the hawks catch squirrels, rabbits, and upland birds. Her first NSTRA trial where the judge said he wished his dog retrieved as well as Farli – and that was Farli’s natural retrieve only encouraged with praise, not formally trained. She was 8 years old when she earned 3rd in her _first_ field trial stake, with warm applause from her brace mate – Kita Morris. Fun days running on Fiesta Island with her buddy Robbie. They day she carried her ONYX plaque around at the “Wags for Wishes” flyball tournament. Running agility for a “Make a Wish” kid. Comforting folks as a Pet Assisted Therapy Dog. The time she brought me a wild grebe when I was trying to get her to practice for her NAVHDA duck search with a tennis ball. They day she caught her first wild quail – and the day she caught her first wild rabbit without help from the hawks.

I wish she were young again – but I will still treasure the days I have left with my lady – be she ever so demanding and claiming of old lady privileges.

Hug and love your dogs be they young or old

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Agility Meet

June 10th, 2007 by Wesley R. Elsberry

Diane and I are running Ritka in agility this weekend at a meet that is being held about five miles from our house. Yesterday was my first outing at an agility meet as a participant. I ran Ritka three times, and we made qualifying scores on two of those. I’ll be putting up pictures later on.

Update: I have a post on my photo blog that has links to pictures.

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A Place to Call Home

March 20th, 2007 by Wesley R. Elsberry

Having moved from California to Michigan, a big step was finding a place to live. We first spent a week under the hospitality of a friend, JoAnne, who was out of town at the time. Since that, we’ve been in an apartment pending renting a place for the next year. JoAnne again came through with a suggestion that we check out a place being rented by one of her past professors.

There’s a batch of interior work to be done to prepare it for our move-in, so it won’t be until next week that we can actually bring our stuff in. But here’s what the outside is like…

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Hawking Mini-Meet 2006 Nov3

December 3rd, 2006 by Wesley R. Elsberry

Diane and I went to the California Hawing Club mini-meet in Colusa on Nov. 3rd. I had to leave on the 4th, but Diane was able to take Shelby and Rusty out with another falconer whose Harris’s hawks regularly take jackrabbits.

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Sept 25 Monday – Chocolate Factory

December 2nd, 2006 by Wesley R. Elsberry

My brother came over from Davis today and the family went into Berkeley to visith the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory. Naturally Wesley took photos. The tour started in a lecture room with a map, photos and samples.

Cocoa fruit

cocoa grinder (was a coffee grinder) and a mixer

Tour guide, Dad & Mom in gift shop (Sam & Marguerite Blackwood)

Cacao trees grow only in the tropics — almost exclusively within 10 degrees latitude of the Equator and only in places that are not too mountainous and do not have monsoons or droughts. Cacao is cultivated underneath Banana or Casaca (Tapioca) or other large leaf, tree-like, grasses. The fruit grows directly on the trunk and major branches. The Cocao beans are really the seeds within the fruit – does this make chocolate a fruit!? For more chocolate facts go to www.scharffenberger.com. Our tour naturally ended in the gift shop where our tour guide Melissa Garden had more samples for us to try.

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Ritka Wound healing

September 27th, 2006 by Wesley R. Elsberry

Ritka’s left side/back on 10 Sept 2006 is below:

Ritka’s left side/back on 16 Sept 2006 is below:

Close-up of Ritka’s left side on 16 Sept 2006 is below:

Ritka’s back on 25 Sept 2006 is below:

Close up of Ritka’s back on 25 Sept 2006 is below:

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Hawk Outing 24 Sept

September 27th, 2006 by Wesley R. Elsberry

Wesley and I took the dogs and the hawks for an outing on Sunday to check out a field near a golf course in Rio Vista. We parked across the road in a gravel area. Shelby was first out of his box and up on the door to check out the new location.

Both hawks were ready to get out and fly. In this photo Shelby (orange) is flying over Rusty (pink):

Farli enjoyed hunting out in the field, but wobbled more on the uneven footing

Shelby found a nice box to perch on

Ritka enjoyed a good swim in the creek.

Rusty reminded Diane to provide tid bits.

Rusty flew over the fields

Rusty followed Ritka to see if she was finding any prey

Rusty and Shelby (left to right) shared a perch in a pine tree.

Farli enjoyed hunting in the fields

Ritka also ran and hunted with joy

But no prey was found.

Rusty and then Shelby perched in another tree (no photo). As Wesley and I approached a Great Horned Owl flew off. It was mobbed by a kestrel, but the camera did not capture the kestrel.

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Sept 20 – Mission San Francisco de Asís

September 27th, 2006 by Wesley R. Elsberry

My Mom and Dad have been visiting from Florida. They arrived on Thursday 14 September and will fly back to FL on 3 October. On this Wednesday we went to visit Mission San Francisco or Mission Dolores. The misson was founded in 1776 beside a little inlet called Laguna Dolores. One of the greatest recorded earthquakes of all time shook San Francisco in 1906, but the thick walls of the old mission church stood firm. Today it remains the oldest building in San Francisco.

Mom and I like Mission La Purisima Concepción, the mission near Lompoc. We like it because it is in a rural setting and it seems easier to imagine the mission as it was when it was built and active. The missions inside cities seem to have changed more with the cities around them. Wesley, Sam and Mom all took photos.

Wesley took this one from the back of the misson:

and with our family: Wesley, Sam, Diane & Marguerite

These are the stairs up to the Choir loft

There was some fancy wood carving on one of the side walls

There was a display that showed the mission as it was in the late 1700s.

Wesley also took photos of the Basilica. Churches designated as patriarchal basilicas have a status in the Catholic church that I don’t completely understand.

The stained glass windows represent the various California missions. The one shown below represents San Juan Bautista.

This statue caught my attention. The cat and dog are letting the mouse eat in peace.

We went to lunch down the street at the Red Jade. The food was quite generous and good. Mom and I enjoyed a condo that had a garden painted on to the walls at ground level. (no photo). From there we went to Golden Gate Park to visit the Japanese Tea Garden. The Tea Garden was one of the places Mom remembered visiting when Mom and Dad lived in Monterey in the early 1950s.

I was the only person in our family to go over the arched bridge.

I was disappointed that there were not any Koi in the water structures.

Wesley caught a photo of Dad and me.

Wesley also threw in a self portrait.

It was about 5 pm when we left the Tea Garden. Most of the other points of interest in Golden Gate Park were closed, but it was not a good time for traffic leaving SF on a week day. We drove west to the coast and then north to Baker Beach off Lincoln Blvd in the Presidio. From there we could see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

A few family photos: First Dad and me [Sam J. Blackwood & Diane J. Blackwood].

Then Diane, Sam and Marguerite.

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18 Monday – Farli Vestibular Disorder

September 23rd, 2006 by Wesley R. Elsberry

On Sept 18 Monday morning, the head was straighter and she moved better. I saw Farlie handle the steps better and navigate the dog door fine. She was able to follow a cookie to go in small circles to the left (rather than continual circles to the right. She could complete doggy push ups (sit-down-sit-stand-etc). These were suggested exercises from a dog physical therapist). Optimistically, I thought she could start going the garage again to access the back yard. We had closed the kitchen/laundry/garage doors to keep her off the steps (about 3) as I did not want her to fall. But as she seemed to be navigating better, I thought the dogs could go back to the garage route to reduce the dirt tracked into dinning room. Well I guess I was wrong. Wesley found Farlie roll-flipping on the pavers behind the garage. She scraped up both hind feet, and her left front foot and left elbow.

Naturally the kitchen/laundry/garage doors are now closed and the sliding glass door to the back is open with a blanket in the dinning room to catch some of the dirt. This does not totally solve the roll-flipping problem as she can still get to the area to the pavers. And the porch floor is hard and slick as well.

She has not recovered as I expected based on the reading I’ve done. Farli can eat and drink, pee and poop fine – ok a bit awkward, but Farli won’t let a bit of dizziness get in the way of eating. She was happy to go hunting. We could live with the ataxia – if we can just get the roll-flipping stopped.

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Hawks 17 Sept – Shelby’s first hunt this season

September 23rd, 2006 by Wesley R. Elsberry

Sept 17 Sunday evening we went for a short hunt of about 30 minutes. Farli seemed to walk/trot straighter and really enjoy the hunt. yet. That evening the head tilt was worse (because she was tired?).

This was the first time we took Shelby our male Harris hawk out this season. He has been living in the kitchen to acclimate to the dogs. So this was also the first time Rusty and Shelby have been together since January. The “talked” to each other and flew to perch with each other.
For safety reasons, Shelby is wearing “hunter orange” and Rusty is wearing fluorescent pink this year.

The hunt was down a narrow strip of cover on the side of a hill between a drive and a cow pasture. Ritka found a covey of quail and two rabbits. The hawks did not see the rabbits. And luckily they did not catch any quail as they are not in season. Ritka had to wear her vest and a check cord for the hunt.

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