Friday, August 08, 2014

Off-roading and hiking at Tray Mountain!

Friday, June 6th, before Rach was twinkling in Mum's eye, we were off on another hiking adventure. Only this time, it also turned into an off road adventure too!

We headed out early and met up with our pals Rocco and his Mom, loaded into the Rover and followed the GPS to our destination; up Tray Mountain Road to the parking area where we were to pick up the trail up to the top of Tray Mountain.

We had heard there are some great views up there, and instead of hiking the difficult Blood Mountain trail to see amazing views, here you could drive up most of the way and hike another mile up 500' elevation to the top.

Blood Mountain is pretty challenging and we really didn't want to tackle something like that again so soon, but we do love a good view!

So off we went.

We started out heading up Chimney Mountain Road off 356, the road was nice and getting deep into the forest. We drove over a small stream and enjoyed this part of the drive very much.

Then a little further on that road it turned into Forestry Road (FR) 79 (aka Tray Mountain Road on the other side) which we didn't know at the time was a very challenging road and a big destination for off-roaders.

We had the Rover, so we felt pretty comfortable tackling a difficult road. But what we didn't know was just how difficult it was going to become! It was tough, and very stressful at the time. Now, looking back, we are feeling very 'puffy chested' that we tackled a very difficult off road experience and made it through with just a few little war wounds on the Rover.

Rocco's Mom and my Mum were real troopers throughout the challenge. Mum had never driven that type of road before except for taking the off road course offered by the Land Rover dealer (which she passed with flying colors, I may add). Needless to say she faced some of her toughest driving challenges of her life. And Rocco's Mom was the best, and I mean best, cheerleader of the day! Mum is not sure she could have made it through that challenge without Rocco's Mom, and really isn't sure that she would have been as good a passenger as she was (Mum likes to be in control, BOL!)

It took us about three hours to make it up the five mile road, facing cavernous rocks and ruts formed by the road run off. Rocco's Mom got out and spotted the car a few times and even said she saw one of the Rover's front wheels come three or so feet off the ground at one point! OMD!

But knowing Mum, and knowing Rocco's Mom, they wouldn't have put us in danger at any time. All three of us, Rocco, me and Gracie took the whole challenge like it was nothing. We got out a few times to stop to stretch our legs, get a little drink and water some green.

The entire drive was challenging, but looking back it was kind of an unexpected interesting, growth experience!

When the Mom and Mum had just about reached their limit, three older guys on motorcycles came down the road and told us that we had only about 150 feet left of rough terrain. That gave Mum and Rocco's Mom all the incentive they needed to finish out the road and get us all to the top. Funny how when you know more about what's on the road ahead you can deal much more easily!

And the Mum and Mom found out that there was another, much easier way down (which they kind of knew about, but weren't positive). Another incentive, let's get going! The three gentlemen watched as we navigated the last 150 feet, then we went back and visited for a while. They told Mum they couldn't have driven that last 150 feet any better themselves, how nice!!!

Both Moms were so busy navigating and driving that they didn't have a stitch of time to take photos or videos. But Mum found this vid on YouTube the other day of other folks navigating the road.

Yep, that's just about what the five miles was like! Wow, so proud of the Mum and Mom!!!

We finally reached the top and parked in the parking area, got out and what do you know, we hear thunder. Well, one place you don't want to be is on the top of one of the highest mountains in GA when a big storm is rolling through. So Mum checked her cell and she had a signal, pulled up and saw that the storm cell was just south and heading southeast. If we waited just a few minutes it would all be past us and clear sailing, errrr, I mean hiking!

So off we went!

Here's the entrance to the trail. We met a lot of hikers that day, some taking 50 mile trips to get their Boy Scout badge with their dads, and some that we think were possible thru hikers. They were all nice and we didn't know it then, but we would spend a little time with them at the top.

The trail was steep, but not anything like Blood Mountain. It was an entire one mile of uphill climb, but very doable, especially with Gracie and I pulling along! Let's go, Mum!

We stopped a few times for the Mum to catch her breath, while Gracie took in the scenery.

We saw some amazing natural sculptures, like this tree, very cool!

And we met one of the largest Millipedes I had every seen, I think this one was just about 3-4 inches long.

Up near the top the Rhododendrons were still blooming. Very pretty.

When we reached the top, we met up with the nice hikers. I took a nice little break next to one of their packs.

Then Gracie and I posed a little on top of the big rocks. This was a tight little area, but the views were amazing, just as promised.

See! There I am at the top!

And there's the amazing view from one direction.

And vids from both directions...

video  video

Once we enjoyed the top and socialized with the hikers, it was time to head down the mountain. It was a fun hike down, who doesn't like to scurry down a mountain? We reached the car and headed down the easier road toward town.

On the road we passed a very cool little waterfall and drove across the stream of it.

We stopped when we saw this on the road, bear scat, cool!

And we stopped to enjoy the Hydrangea Arborescens, or some call Wild Hydrangeas. Not blooming yet, but almost!

Once in town we headed toward the nearest place for the Mum and Mom to eat, they were hungry.

The closest town, Helen, is a little Bavarian Tourist Town, filled with unique architecture. You can visit all the shops (we got some fudge for the Mum and Mom), and we were intrigued by the horses pulling the carriages.

Photo courtesy of
While they waited for their food, we got to eat ours and watch some of the tubers enjoy their trip down the Chattahoochee which flows through the town.

Photo courtesy of 
Gracie liked to bark at the ones close to the bank. There she is watching for the next one!

So all in all it was a very interesting day! And we're already planning our next adventure!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Introducing Rach, my new little bro!

We have been busy the past few weeks. And here's why!

I now have a new little bro, Rach (named after Sergei Rachmaninoff, to keep the composer theme going, you know :).

Mum saw Rach just after he was born on Facebook on the Eastern Herding Dog Rescue page.

She thought and thought....does she have time for a new puppy just now ('cause they are a huge time suck, you know :). She had just declined getting a new border collie puppy from some folks in Indiana.

But then just the week after she saw Rach, things started to lighten up with work. So she contact them.

The rescue immediately approved Mum as a potential adopter, since they were familiar with my blog. And they put her first on the list for Rach (who was then named Basil).

Then it was time to figure out if Rach was the right fit for our family. We love agility and really want whoever joins our family to like it just as much as we do.

When Rach and the other six siblings were ready for adoption, Mum contacted a friend of hers, Jim Poor of the Dog Sport Photographers, as he lived about an hour from where Rach was being fostered near Richmond, VA.

She asked if he was going to be near there anytime soon, and he said he was the next day! Mum asked if he would be interested in evaluating a puppy for us as a potential agility prospect. He said yes right away and even asked if we wanted the Vollard Puppy test completed with him. Sure we said!!

The next day they went to see him for us, and just as Mum's gut had told her, he was amazing. They loved him and thought he would make a great agility dog. Even the foster family who does agility thought he would as well. And being the photographer that he is, Jim took some photos of Rach too (see below)!

So thanks to Jim, the rescue group and the foster family....Mum made the decision to adopt Rach.

Then that's when things got a little complicated. There was no way Mum could drive back and forth 17 total hours in one day to get him. And we need to be here to feed the kitties twice a day (they are 19 and 20 years old now).

So Mum contacted some folks about rescue transport, and after some back and forth found out that rescue groups won't transport dogs that are un-neutered. We didn't know that, did you? And since Mum wants to wait to almost two years to neuter, that wasn't going to work.

Mum thought and thought, and started contacting some friends on Facebook. Were they going to be an agility trial near there? She got some leads but it meant that Rach may have to stay with a family for almost three weeks. Maybe there was a better way? She asked and asked a lot of folks and nothing was working out. She just about gave up when someone told her about a trial in NC. Hmmmm...that's only an hour or so from Richmond, VA, and only about 3 hours from a friend of hers that competes in agility that lives in SC. If we could get him to SC, we could make a trip back and forth in one day and still take care of the kitties.

And guess what, it all worked out very quickly. On July 6th, the rescue group took him to the trial in NC, and then one of our best blogging buddies, Diana, was trialing there and she took him to her house after the trial. Then we met them at her house just about an hour after they arrived on Sunday.

Not only did we get to meet Rach for the first time, but we finally got to meet Diana, and Miley, and Java in person! How fun!

And our best hiking and agility bud, Diane and Rocco, made the trip with us, making it a super fun road trip. We had four dogs and two two-leggers packed into the Rover on the way home and it was fun!

Photo courtesy of The Dog Sports Photographers. This was during Rach's Puppy Test. Find them on Facebook too, Jim takes amazing photos.
Diana has her awesome camera and mad camera skills going before we got there and was ready the minute we got there. She took these which we cherish so much, as well as the one with Mum and Rach above.

This is one of our favs....Rach hanging out waiting for us to arrive.

Awww...finally we meet!

That's me, getting to know the little guy. More on that later.

Gracie...all glassy eyed and overwhelmed, butt Rach is taking it all in stride. Luv you Gracie!

Group shot! Everyone including Rocco, sitting for treats. What good kids!
So it's been a few weeks and we are into a nice routine. I have a lot to catch you up on and will do that in the coming days! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

ADCH YoYo, It's official...and you can just call me the Snooker Cooker!

Look what I got in the mail!

Yep, it's official, I got my ADCH; and my Snooker Master and Snooker Champion titles a couple of weeks ago. And just yesterday I received my Snooker Bronze title!

How cool!!! Mum is so proud of me...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hiking Minnehaha Falls!

After our hike to Tallulah Gorge, we all (Gracie, Me, Rocco and his Mum (from To Dog With Love)) got back in the car and headed into the deep of the Chattahoochee National Forest to a place we had read about called Minnehaha Falls.

See the inscription on the railing, I think they spelled it wrong don't you? Ooopsie!

The drive there was a little confusing as our GPS went out once we reached a certain point in the forest, no cell signal. But we managed to find it after taking only one little detour.

This had been later after a few big rains here in the mountains, and one of the roads was in the way of a free flowing creek. Mum dutifully stopped the car in front of this stream and took a look. Most of it looked very shallow, but one area looked deeper. She grabbed a long branch and made her way to the deep end and tested to see how deep it was. Yep, a-ok! Our Rover will make it through. And off we went.

The trail was only about 1/4 a mile which means we didn't get in a lot of hiking on this day trip, but we did get to see some awesome falls. Here is the first sighting of falls, a nice little drop with a great little wading pool that I just had to investigate.

Yep, water feels fine!!! 

Gracie and Rocco had to have a little drink. Mum doesn't usually let us drink from streams unless they are high in the mountains and are very free flowing. How's it taste guys? Nom!!!

Again, I just had to investigate, check out the little vid...Oh watch out, there's a drop off there!


Mum, Gracie and I got a little ahead of Rocco and his Mom, we turned left and headed up the trail just about 20 feet further and wow! What a sight! Take a look.


The falls are named for Minnehaha, a fictional character in the epic poem 'The Song of Hiawatha' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

'And he named her from the river,
From the water-fall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water.'

On the way back we had to try and get a threesome shot, and thanks to Rocco's Mom having some new and different yummy treats, we indulged, dutifully!

I'll leave you today with this amazing shot. Yep that's me at Minnehaha Falls!

Till next time...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Today I am 10 years old!!!

Today is a milestone day for me, I am 10 years old and it's my birthday!

Some say that I'm 56 in human years, some say 53. But I don't feel a day over 25, that's fur sure.

Last year I posted about all the things I have accomplished over the years, from herding sheep, to getting my MACH, to living in several states, to being featured in a coffee table book, to tracking and finding my kittie bro, Wiggy and lots, lots more.

Also, last year I set some goals for myself; a few more items for a bucket list, if you will.

I'm proud to say that I accomplished three of them this past year, from getting my ADCH to catching a squirrel to sinking my teeth into a whole chicken.

There are just a couple of more items on my bucket list with lots of years left from running free on an ocean beach to playing with a little bro.

So I guess I'm going to have to rethink my bucket list and add more things, like maybe making a cameo appearance in a feature film or spending three full days with just my Mum and have her all to myself....who knows? Much to ponder....

Do you have any bucket list items for your dog?

Friday, June 20, 2014

My second agility trial in PIII USDAA!

Just a few weeks after my first agility trial at PIII, it was time for my second one.

This one was held near Canton, just about an hour from us. Friday was Masters only, Saturday Masters and then Advanced/Starters and Sunday Advanced/Starters only.

Friday was a very short day and Mum entered me in Jumpers and Snooker. Saturday we were entered in Gamblers, Snooker and Standard. Gracie was entered on Saturday in Gamblers.

The day started with Jumpers. After the last trial, Mum tried to be more sure of where she was going to be, where she would do a front or blind cross, etc., so that my lines would be nice and she would be out of my way (as that was a problem last trial). There were some nice turns, some nice straight-a-ways (which I love). We had a nice run and I ended up with a Q and 1st place.

Our next run was Snooker. I remember this one well, as the oddest thing happened. We did three sevens (seven was a two jump and tunnel combo). But for some reason one of our reds wasn't counted and we ended up with 37 points. No other dogs in the small group qualified, so we got another SQ. What the DOG?! Ok, this is getting a little too ironic at this point (as I got a SQ on my first PIII Snooker run a few weeks ago, after struggling for years to get those 2 SQ's in championship).

We headed home and did a few things around the cabin and got to bed early as Saturday was going to be a very long day.

We got there very early and my first run was Snooker again. This one was going to be long, so Mum thought it would be a good op to test out our timing. 6 was a tunnel jump combo, 5 was a tunnel jump combo, 7 a teeter and the other numbers were jumps. We planned four reds with a 6, a 7 and 2 5's, starting with the jump in the lower left, which would give us 54 points if we made it all the way through.

I wasn't running as fast as the previous runs and two of the jumps ended up being figure 8's (like you do sometimes at practice jumps?), so the entire run took more time than we thought. I made it through the final six, but didn't get the last seven (a teeter) for 47 points. And I was just about to put my foot on that dang teeter too. Oh well, it was fun and good enough for a SQ and 1st place.

OMD! Do you know what that means? I already in two trials and four Snooker runs have my 3 SQ's for my PDCH (if we decide I want to go for that title). Now we really talking situational irony, wouldn't you say?

The next run was Gamblers, and we were looking forward to it. I love gambles, they allow me to be independent!

The gamble was  a parallel jump on the line, coming back in a bit to the left to the tunnel entrance, which headed out to the frame and then a jump beyond. Mum knew I had a good chance at this as I love my frame, I do, I do!

We gathered up points on the dogwalk twice, got in a teeter and the tire, some other jumps and then headed into the gamble, and bam I got it! How fun was that! Another Q and a 2nd place with 44 points.

Next up was Standard. Nothing extra difficult and we ended up with another 1st and Q.

You know what that means? Yes, I went 5 for 5 with 4 1st places and 1 second place. Wow! That hasn't happened since I was a youngster. What fun!

Gracie did very well too! Mum didn't enter her in anything except Gamblers this weekend, as she got a little freaked out at the last trial in Standard with that doggone teeter. So Mum decided to make Gracie's Gamblers run uber fun and it was. It was so fun to see Gracie run with abandon, fun, fast and furious, and still gather her self up and get the gamble for a second place and a Q. What a good Girlie!

Team YoYo and Gracie went 6 for 6!

Sadly our next trial and only trial the rest of the year is last of August/first of September. Mum has been thinking about doing a little AKC with us again, just to keep a little more fine tuned since there are fewer USDAA trial near us this year.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gracie found a Wolf Spider: Dangerous but not lethal!

Not too long ago, just a few days before Gracie had that run in with the Copperhead Snake, Mum saw Gracie pawing at something on the ground.

She didn't think too much of it because Gracie finds these huge beetles sometimes and behaves exactly the same way. But being were we live with lots of 'dangerous' stuff, Mum thought she better go and check it out.

When Mum got up close, she saw that Gracie was pawing at a huge, huge spider! It's really difficult to tell how large it is in the photo, but it was just at 3" from tip of the leg to tip of leg. The biggest spider Mum has ever seen in her life!

Of course she got Gracie away, not knowing yet if it was a dangerous spider. Then she took a photo, took us inside and got on the interwebs to investigate.

Turns out it's a Wolf Spider, listed 9th on the list of The 10 Most Dangerous Spiders in the World. (A word of caution, this link contains some graphic photos of people with spider bites).

Wolf Spiders like the woods, and they like to spend their time in wood piles, leaf litter, anywhere their food source may be. Although it's the Wolf Spider is poisonous, its venom is not lethal. 

These spiders don't build webs to capture their pray, they are ground spiders, or as some call hunting spiders, as they hunt for food on the ground. They can climb and swim. Despite their name, they are solitary creatures, unlike Wolves who live in packs. 

They eat ground based insects and other spiders. With eight eyes they have excellent vision to watch for their prey. They wait and then 'hunt' them down, scurrying along the ground. They even have great night vision, and some say that if you shine a flashlight at them at night, their eyes shine back at you like a cat's.

Wolf Spiders aren't initially aggressive, but will bite if they feel they are in danger. They move very quickly, but this one was caught immediately by our fence (you can see the grid of the fence in the photo). So it was trapped. Mum was very glad she got there when she did to get Gracie away and avoid a nasty bite.

So not only do we have the Brown Recluse Spider, but we now have to watch out for these buggars. But good to get to know them and whatever danger they pose.

They say for this type of bite, you should immediately pack it with ice to reduce swelling. Then keep the patient calm so as to keep the spread the venom at it's most minimum throughout the body while transporting immediate to the emergency vet. The most dangerous is if your dog (or human) is allergic, so it's best to immediate seek a vet and wait it out for a few hours. 

Mum is sure glad she didn't know all this when she was taking care of it, she would have been all stressed out like the day of the Copperhead!

Friday, June 13, 2014

My USDAA and AKC title pin box!

Yep, that's it, the latest version of my title pin box (with USDAA and AKC) after achieving my ADCH.

Seems complete now.

Oh wait? Maybe Mum will have to start one for my PACH and PDCH. What do you think?
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