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Black Dog in the Snow

You know I'll be the first to admit that even though I'm learning a lot about photography, there's still a ton I don't know.  For every little extra tidbit I learn about, I feel as though there's a hundred other things I don't know, and didn't even know about until learning that first thing.

The one recently I'm still trying to figure out is taking photos of black dogs in the snow.  Normally when you take a photo, the camera will meter for light off of your subject.  Well in this case, it's metering the light off of a black dog, so I'm not getting as fast a shutter speed as I should/could be getting.  More research will need to be done on this.  I did end up over-exposing by about a half a stop, which seemed to work pretty well.

Today's photo is of my psycho puppy, Thor.  He's 3, but definitely still a puppy, and runs around like a maniac outside. Sometimes he'll race around the backyard doing full laps before coming back to you. I've come close to having him body check me while doing that as well, and I really would prefer him to not take out my knees.

Thor playing in the snow

The only big problem with playing fetch with him is that he'd prefer to play "keep-a-way".  Not just with Loki or Odin, but with whomever is trying to throw the ball for him. He'll bring it back to you fine, but when you go to reach for it, and try to get him to drop it, he'll race away.  Makes for an annoying game, but he likes getting chased, so I guess it's fun for him.

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Loki Getting Sick and Us Trying to Prepare

A few weeks ago we came home from the Arvada West graduation, and noticed that Loki, our 9 year old lab, was acting really weird. He ate dinner, but wasn't into it like he normally is, and wouldn't eat any peanut butter (his favorite) when we offered it to him. After watching him for a couple of hours and noticing him getting worse, we took him to the Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital. They determined that he was bleeding into his abdomen from his spleen, and had to do emergency surgery to remove his spleen. That went off without a hitch with them finding a 2 inch tumor on his spleen. It took almost a week to get back the biopsy results, but the result was that it was hemangeosarcoma, which is malignant cancer, and by the time you actually catch it, there's a 99% chance that its spread already. Since it's in the bloodstream, and microscopic, it's impossible to tell. So we were faced with 2 options, either do chemotherapy, or don't do chemotherapy. It apparently works different in dogs than in people. They use a much lower dose of everything, so side effects are pretty rare, and it can't cure the cancer, just extend his life a little and give him a good quality of life.

Without chemo his average lifespan was told to be 2-3 months, with chemo it was 6-8, which obviously isn't a whole lot more, but our dogs are our boys so as long as it would not only do something, but give him a good quality of life, then there really wasn't a choice for us.

He finished his first round of chemo on Monday (has to go back every 3 weeks for a couple of months), and seems to be doing well. He's playing and active, and while he's not completely acting normal, he's pretty close.

This whole thing just really sucks though. It's hard for me to even think of him as being sick since he's acting like himself, but I guess that's just how cancer is. Hopefully we can give him a really good summer (take him swimming, hiking, etc...). I regret that Peter most likely won't be old enough to play with Loki before Loki dies, but we'll be able to tell him stories and show him photos and videos of our crazy black lab.

More fun with Flickr Toys


Design Your Life!

I have several favorite scrapbookers besides Stacy Julian, and Cathy Zielske happens to be one of those at the top of my list. I love her clean style, and I always look at her layouts thinking "wow, that looks really nice and simple, yet I love it". She started teaching a class over at Big Picture Scrapbooking called Design Your Life, all about becoming a better scrapbooking layout designer. Although I do tech support for BPS, I haven't really taken a lot of classes (I peek in at a bunch though) since I haven't had the time, but this is one that I'm jumping at the chance to do. I figure I can attempt to keep up with it at least until the baby arrives, and then I'll have to finish the assignments sometime next year. :)

In any case so far I'm doing pretty well. The first assignment came out today about balance and symmetry, and I've already completed the first layout.

I'm not 100% happy with my title - I was going to go with "Doggone Weird", but I'm trying to use up stuff in my stash, hence why it's "King of the Castle" instead. Thor does think he's the king though, even now at 11 months. He always has the "I'm so cute, so you can't be mad at me" look.

Part of first assignment

Loki and Thor

Thor has definitely taken to Loki for everything related to playing. They're really funny to watch in the backyard. Loki retrieves the ball, brings it back and drops it at my feet. In that split second, Thor casually saunters over, takes the ball, and casually walks away. Loki starts barking at me because he wants me to throw it, so I point out to him that Thor now has it. Loki runs over to Thor and tries to get the ball from him, but since Thor is so small, he can turn in extremely tight circles. The first time he did this we couldn't stop laughing, but I finally brought out the camera and took some video

Loki and Thor Playing Like Maniacs

I decided to test out the video option on my camera, and took a decent video of Loki playing with Thor. Although it did take Loki a couple days to get over his "these are MY people" complex, he and Thor are now best buddies. Thor really enjoys the roughhousing with Loki, and then he goes over to Odin, plays nicely with him for a few minutes, and curls up next to him to sleep.

New Puppy

This is Thor:

Thor at 8 1/2 weeks

As of yesterday, he turned 9 weeks old. We picked him up last week, the day after we got back from Cozumel from Merriman Labradors (Carolyn and George are great btw). Leif for some reason insisted on getting another dog, even though we already have 2. He did make a good point - Loki and Odin are getting old-ish (they'll be 8 this year), and he wants to get another one while they can still play with him. However, there's a few things new puppies do which I really didn't miss. 1) they can't sleep through the night. Around 3:30am he has to go out, and around 6:30am. 2) they chew on EVERYTHING. 3) they're not housebroken.

However, even with all of that said, they're really cute.

When they sleep....
Puppies are cute when they sleep like this

When they play...
Thor tries to play with Loki

And when they snuggle up next to their big brothers...
Odin sleeps with his new little friend

New Dog Breed - The Laprador

Over the years since we've had Loki and Odin, for some reason even though they're both 75-80 pounds now, they still think they're Lapradors. I'm not entirely sure why this happens, but it's like they don't realize how big they've gotten. Having them sleep in the bed is bad enough, but when you're trying to watch TV on the couch, and you have this big lug of a dog struggle to get into your lap, you miss half the show.


Loki the Laprador

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Who Cares if We're Comfortable?

About 6 3/4 years ago, Loki and Odin were both about 3 months old. They both were crate trained and loved sleeping in the crate at night. Once we realized they were housebroken, we started leaving the door of the crate open so they could sleep on the floor of the bedroom. Both Leif and I had vowed to never let the dogs up on the bed.

One night, the dogs both stood by the side of the bed as we got ready to go to sleep and started whining. They didn't need to go out, they just finally realized our big bed was much nicer than the crate or the floor. Both were too small to jump up themselves. It took a lot of effort, but we didn't let them up. We stood firm. We stood our ground.

This went on for a few nights.

Soon after, we woke up one morning, and lo and behold, both dogs were sleeping soundly at the foot of the bed! Neither of us remembered lifting them up onto the bed. The same thing happened the next night, and the night after. Finally the 4th night both Leif and myself pretended to fall asleep. We lay very quietly in the bed while the dogs were settled on the floor. While waiting patiently, we heard Loki get up off from the floor, and come over to my side of the bed. Odin got up off the floor, and went over to Leif's side of the bed. Loki nuzzled my hand to see if I was asleep, and then with one swift movement, both dogs jumped up on the bed, and IMMEDIATELY lay down again so as not to disturb us.

It was at that moment, that we realized we lost the battle for bed supremacy. The dogs now freely sleep in the bed whenever they want, and Loki has come to realize that it's HIS bed, and we're just people he allows to use it. He'll lay between Leif and I, and if there's not enough room, he'll still squeeze his way in, forcing one of us to move closer to the edge of the bed. Odin enjoys sleeping at the foot of the bed, but a little closer to the middle, so he's always laying on someone's feet or legs.

And finally, there's the ultimate:

It's all About Loki's comfort

Fortunately Loki doesn't do this to me, and while it must be comfortable for him, it definitely wasn't comfortable for Leif (he stayed like that though until I took the picture, and then he moved Loki away).

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The Dogs and the Snow

Odin Pelted with SnowWe've only taken the dogs up to Tahoe once, and that was last year, and the snow was all hard and icky, so we couldn't really do too much. This year was different. We rented a pet-friendly cabin, and were supposed to go snowboarding that weekend as well, but I got the office-cold. The person who we rented the cabin from wouldn't let us cancel (note to self: make sure you always double-check the cancellation policy in the rental agreement), so we went up anyways and figured Leif could go snowboarding with Mosedale since he was going up as well.

Thursday night was shot as we drove up, stopped at Safeway to get some food so we didn't have to go out, and got to the cabin and went to sleep.
Loki catching snowballs
The cabin itself was pretty nice. The whole yard was fenced it and there was a doghouse. The inside had a large dog pillow, and she had said the dogs could go on the bed if you covered the blanket with an extra sheet. As we really have no choice in that matter (the dogs run the house :)), we did that.

Friday I definitely was still too sick to snowboard, and Leif didn't feel like going that day, so we hung out around the house, watched movies, and played with the dogs in the backyard. The snow was perfect to do that in! We had brought the yellow football up, so they chased that, chased each other, burrowed in the snow, and we threw snowballs at them for awhile. If anything, I'm glad we went up just for them since that was the only time this year we were going to take them up to the snow. Loki was digging around his football a lot, and Odin just kind of wandered around.

Saturday we just went home mid-afternoon. Leif said he didn't want to snowboard without me because "it wasn't the same", but we didn't leave until we played with the dogs some more. We took a zillion pictures, but so far only have these 2 up on flickr.

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