Apr 222014

by Doranna

Connery is a breedist Beagle. 

cb.MACH.bawhBEWARE!” he bays, if a problem breed comes into his orbit.  “DO NOT WANT!”

If he spots such an individual while we’re running an agility course, I can be pretty sure he’s going to bring down a bar or pop a weave, because he just can’t think beyond the worrisome presence of that dog.  He tries so hard that it’s palpable but he just.  Can.  Not.

To be fair to Connery, he has reasons.  Good ones.  Like his objection to Boxers?  The first dog who attacked him was a Mastiff—a huge creature with a head the size of Connery’s whole body.  A big fawn dog with black points and a big squoosh face: close enough to a Boxer, if you’re Connery.

Obviously, if that Mastiff had closed his jaws around Connery, it would have killed him.  But I screamed, and Connery screamed, and he fled a desperate circle at the end of his leash.  Will I ever forget the sight of those massive jaws snapping closed against his tucked butt?

No.  No, I will not.

mastiff.noNor will I forget snatching up him, holding his still-screaming self up snugly against my chest, and turning my back on the Mastiff to brace for impact.  And that’s when the handler caught up to his dog, grabbed him by the collar and hustled him away.  Without a word.

(I sleuthed out who he was and reported him to the show committee, but that’s another adventure.)

Could be that Connery and I are both a little breedist on that account.

But at least we know it.  And we know why.  But even if I’m wary, I don’t trash talk the breed.  I don’t begrudge anyone the desire to own one.  So to the people who spew knee-jerk nastiness about any given breed just because it’s easy?

Stop it. 

Just.  Stop.

Oh, I get it.  It’s a rewarding thing to do.  Chances are, those within earshot will join in the trash-talk, providing that little rush of power.  Of being right.  Because Everyone Knows…

Even if they don’t.


That first NADAC agility trial!

As I waited my turn at Connery’s first NADAC trial, a woman standing behind me said clearly, “Oh look.  A Beagle.  And it’s intact.  This should be fun.”

Well, guess what.  It was.

At least, it was fun for us. But it was far from the last time I heard sneers directed our way when people didn’t know (or didn’t care) that they were standing right behind me.  Or, say…right beside the person who happened to be recording our run.

So here’s the thing:  Until someone embraces a particular breed, they don’t know crap about it.

That doesn’t mean owning the breed, but it does mean learning about it with an open mind.  Watching it in action.  Watching it in training.  Seeing the good and seeing the challenging.  It means accepting that different from what you prefer doesn’t mean inferior to what you prefer.

You know, I see this all the time in the genre writing world, too. We in this genre sneer at them in that genre.  We have Stars on Thars and they don’t!  Ultimately it’s a flawed attempt to justify the value of this genre, but…you know…it’s crap behavior.  So we should stop it.  All of us.

As it happens, I’ve written in SF/F, romance, mystery, and wow—tie-in writing.  So when a colleague in one genre gleefully sneers some oft-repeated dismissive nastiness about another genre, they’re usually talking about me.  To me.

They just don’t know it.  They just feel free to sling ugliness with impunity, because Everyone knows.

But Everyone usually gets it wrong.  Because just like the person who thinks Beagles are stupid because they’ve never actually paid any attention, the Everyones don’t read the genre at which they sneer, or they read one book that didn’t resonate with them or was of unfortunate quality, or they can’t seem to accept that just because Romance serves different reading needs than Science Fiction (or vice versa), each genre is an equally valid endeavor and pastime.

It’s okay for you to like what you like, and me to like what I like.

Really.  It is.

Look!  I cleverly used the cover of one of my own books in this spot!

Look! I cleverly used the cover of one of my own books in this spot!

And it’s okay to spurn the Everyones and their thoughtless ugliness and talk about our dogs, and our books, in terms of what we like about them–and not in terms that tear down what someone else likes.  Even if it takes a little courage to simply say, “I like this!” on its own terms.

Our choices are, as it happens, valid all on their own.

Me?  If it’s well written, I’ll read it.  Period.  And although I love hounds, I also love to watch the big leggy bird dogs, the feisty scamper of a Border Terrier, the fierce intensity of a Border Collie…the silly vocalizations of a personable Pug.


Apr 072014

by Doranna


Agility milestones for Connery Beagle!  Now that he’s earned a MACH3, Connery is running in Preferred classes (that is, jumping four inches lower).  He was always the shortest and heaviest dog in his jump height…Beagles are meant to be sturdy little things.  And he likes it Very Much!

He’s qualified in eleven of his twelve runs since then, and taken first place each time.  At ten years old there’s no telling how long he’ll have this much joy in running, but right now we’re having a blast with it!

connery_DSC6958-(ZF-1106-69731-1-002).SM Continue reading »

Mar 252014

by Doranna

On the doing of things…

Sometimes life piles up so fast it’s hard to keep up–and it’s hard to remember why you’re doing what in the first place.

cb.bone..506I started this blog while listening to the grind of merry little hound teeth on a Nylabone, while the hound in question (Connery) happily sprawled over the world’s ugliest hotel carpet.

Not kidding. World’s UGLIEST. Continue reading »

Mar 102014

by Doranna

In the last tracking blog, in the wake of a difficult experience in El Paso, I was getting ready for another tracking test on the 3rd.  I muttered about some of the challenges of getting tracking tests–finding the tests, dealing with the luck factor, maintaining the focus, blah blah blah.

So, on the third, we took the test, along with five other teams.  This is what we all woke up to:

Ooh.  Look.  Clouds caught up on the Sandias.  Cannot bode well for us.

Ooh. Look. Clouds caught up on the Sandias. Cannot bode well for us.

Continue reading »

Mar 052014

A Blue Hound Beagles Blog

(A Dog Agility Blog Event: Starting your puppy)

0405.31.connery.bone.19Talk about awesome reinforcement timing!  This past month, in some weird universal coincidence, big lots of people (okay, a couple) asked me exactly this–when did I start training?  How?  And now here we are, officially chatting about it for the Blog Event!

So here’s my easy answer:  I start my puppies the moment they come home.

Now, anyone who’s gasping, “She puts her puppies over jumps/on the a-frame/dogwalk/WHUTEVER” should just slap their own heads.   Just pause right now and take care of that little chore for me.
Continue reading »

Feb 152014

by Doranna

I find that whatever I’m doing with my animals, I usually run into lessons that apply to writing.  Or to living.  All our critters have something to teach us–maybe some more than others.

ConneryBeagle: Me!  This must be about ME!

Oh, it must be.  And not just randomly, but because we are in celebration mode!

Celebrate! Continue reading »

Dec 292013

by Doranna


badwordWe probably all have our Worst Words.  That one’s mine.

It means, roughly, disease without known cause.*

*PS That we have no idea how to treat because really, nothing truly works and good luck with that.

Over the years, all of my Lyme symptoms have been idiopathic (and now that they’re not, no one knows how to fix them anyway). Continue reading »

Dec 212013

by Doranna

For the past six weeks, Rena Beagle has been on a rabbit-only diet.

Here’s something that most people don’t ponder very often:  rabbit is a lean meat.  A leeeean meat.  It is not, in fact, enough of anything but lean meat to keep a little girl Beagle going, even when fed whole prey.

(Yes, we got her whole ground rabbit, from the most awesome Hare Today.  Every bit of said rabbit put through the grinder.  And don’t let anyone ever tell you that a dog can’t hork up a hairball.)

So Rena, on her rabbit food, quickly lost weight.  Soon I was giving her twice her normal portion just to maintain what weight she had left, and finally I got her a tummy warmer to wear all the time.

(Sometimes she uses a Dart warmer.)


And let us not talk about what rabbit costs.  No.  Seriously.  I don’t want to think about it.  NA NA NA NA I CAN’T HEAR YOU ASKING.*

Continue reading »

Dec 052013

by Doranna

The kitchen, the night before...

The kitchen, the night before…

When we last saw our heroes (AKA Dart & Connery Beagle), they were preparing to take the imminent Variable Surface Tracking test…not much expecting to pass, given our ongoing family crises, training interruptions, and etc (well, even without those things, because this is hard!). Continue reading »