Cadaver Camp

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When life shows you a door sometimes you go through it, prepared or not.  When Lisa sent me information about the Canine Search and Rescue camp, I knew I was going.  Nevermind I knew absolutely no one who was going.  Nevermind that Wixer has absolutely no experience doing any of this. I pretty much immediately sent in my application for beginning air scenting.  And of course as soon as Dave learned that one of the class options involved human remains detection he started calling it Cadaver Camp.


I loved almost every minute of it.  And it turns out I did know one person who was there!  She wasn’t in air scenting, but we crossed paths and hope to get together now that we’re home to talk about our experiences.  The people were welcoming and my instructor, Janet, was outstanding.  I cannot say enough good things about this experience.  I got a little nervous when I got there and discovered the beginning and intermediate air scenting were combined into one group.  Was I going to be completely lost?  Would I be holding the whole class back?  Nope, and nope!   Janet fluidly and seamlessly made sure all the dogs worked at their own level with both success and just enough challenge to show us where we need to work as we headed home.

This year’s camp was hosted by the Illinois Wisconsin Search and Rescue Dogs and was held at the Wisconsin Lion’s Camp.  It was an amazing facility and the host group did superlative job on what was clearly a whole lot of work to make it run smoothly.  I chose to stay in one of the group cabins on the camp grounds, but some people opted to bring their RV or stay in a local motel.  These cabins were pretty luxurious for cabins and I was happy with my choice.

As I was leaving Angie told me to watch out for bears, and while I didn’t find any bears I did find lots of lions at the Lion’s Camp! There were mascot lions:
CSAR camp: Riding the lion.

Drinking fountain lions, and water fountain lions:
CSAR camp: Thirsty enough to stock your head in a,lion.CSAR camp: Moar lions!

We also found one very serious lion:
CSAR camp: Srs lions

The class I picked was beginning air scent which is used in finding people who are lost. We concentrated on the wilderness aspect, tromping around the wonderful fields and forests at the camp.
CSAR camp: Day 1 location

It was so pleasant to be in that place.  Even when it wasn’t my turn just walking around watching the dog and handler who were working was a pleasure.  I’m not sure when I’ve been that content in recent memory.

CSAR camp: Training location

Even being the subject and waiting for the dog to find you was nice. Mind you, it was sprinkling here but my rain gear was plenty and the rain didn’t make it much under the canopy anyway:

CSAR camp: hanging out waiting to be found by Nikki.

Depending on your geographic area, air scenting can more often be someone with dementia rather than a lost hiker which can add some complications if they don’t wish to be found or don’t understand what is happening.  But the idea is that your dog can sniff them out and then let you know where to find them. Wixer, being a complete novice, started with run-aways ensuring that he would start to pair being in the scent of the person running away. And then hopefully start to find the pattern of when he ran past that odor path and needed to pay attention to sourcing the odor, rather than just running around willy nilly.  Wixer was pretty sure this was a fine idea, run after someone with a tug?  That is relevant to his interests.

CSAR camp: Wixer liked the running and the tugging.CSAR camp: Wixer liked the running and the tugging.

We did get to move on to C patterns a little later in the week and Janet ran us through one small problem.  He totally isn’t ready for actual problems yet, but she wanted me to see how to set it up when he does get there.  Very helpful.

I think he liked it:

CSAR camp: Happy camper

The camp had a cafeteria which provided us with a really tasty hot breakfast and dinner every day and we took coolers with sandwich fixins with us to the field.  Granted doing all this walking and activity meant the meals were flavored with hunger, but it was really satisfying food.  Plus I didn’t have to make it or clean up after it.

We generally worked from a little after 8 until 5 every day and there was a guest speaker most evening (bonus learning).  But despite that full schedule, there was plenty of time to explore the ginormous (440 acre) camp!

We tried our paw at some archery:
CSAR camp: Black archer needs patience badly.

The climbing wall was pretty intimidating, but he totally wanted to challenge someone to some hoops:
CSAR camp: I'm NOT climbing this.CSAR camp: trying his paw at basketball

We also discovered some really neat places like this tiny lighthouse:
CSAR camp: Random adorable lighthouse.

And this land of tiny mushrooms, which Wixer claimed and immediately become ruler of.

CSAR camp: I shall rule teensy mushroom kingdom!

This view from the lake where we sat for a while and thought deep thoughts:
CSAR camp: deep thoughts.

Even our training locations offered run places to force Wixer to get his picture taken in/on/near. This pile o’ wood screamed to have a picture…yes Wixer I know the other people in the group are laughing at (with) me.  I’m still taking your picture.
CSAR camp: The others are making fun of your pictures you know.

By the last day Wixer was about done with my shenanigans. I tried to get him to put his feet on the stump with the squirrel on it, but he was having none of it and laid down.
CSAR camp: even the donkey is making fun of you nowCSAR camp: so over the pictures I won't even sit up.

The host group had a map you could add a pushpin to so we could see where everyone was from, there were teams from Alaska, Delaware, and Texas!
CSAR camp: Participant locations.

What a rewarding experience.  I hope to find a way to continue working on these skills.  It will be a bit of a challenge without a team to train with, but I’m going to try!


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This past weekend I attended Barn Hunt Nationals at Purina Farms.  Wixer and I didn’t do as well as I had hoped we would.  Then the evening after we finished he threw up in the car, refused dinner (which I think might be the first time he’s even not eaten a meal), and was generally being very calm and freaking me out.  Not sure if it was because of the severe thunder storms two nights in a row, or the impromptu dock diving we got to after we were done with barn hunt, or something totally different.  He seems to be improved now, eating and acting normally again, so I guess I’ll never know.

Wixer did find love in the air at Barn Hunt.  I’ve never seen him immediately take to a dog.  Ever.  Even when he tries to make friends he does it in the most awkward way that usually sends other dogs packing.  Not so lovely Maggie!  We went walking one day and he immediately ran over and awkwardly bonked her on her shoulder with his nose.  She turned back surprised, seemed to shrug, and kept walking.  By the next day it was this.  They kept walking super close to each other, then would go sniff interesting things, then back into each other.  It was adorable and amazing.  I have no idea what is different about Maggie, but I automatically love her.

Today I have the day to myself before attending an agility trial and running 3 16″ dogs (I will not freak out, I will not freak out, I will not freak out).  So I decided to try to find a nice place to walk with Wixer.  I found a couple and ended up deciding to try two.  First up was Laumeier Sculpture Park to be followed by Castlewood State Park.  Turns out Laumeier was so cool and extensive that I ended up just walking around it for a couple hours taking fun pictures and generally enjoying the bejabbers out of it.  Lovely weather, cool weird art, what could be better?


I should have known it was going to be awesome when I saw this giant eyeball.
Sculpture Garden


All of the art had placards and all kinds of amazing descriptions. Some of them made sense, others…well this one reminded me of an owl. Owls are cool.

Sculpture Garden


There is a real walnut tree trunk underneath all that aluminum.  I’m sure it has deep meaning about humans and nature.  It is also shiny.

Sculpture Garden


A combo sculpture dealing with both a balloon animal poodle and the bonds between carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in sucrose.  Like ya do.

Sculpture Garden


This one was tucked away on a trail and deals with the decline of the Chahokia people. Even though it wasn’t designed for it specifically I felt it was very powerful with the recent issues facing native peoples.

Sculpture Garden


The artist here took an old abandoned pool and created her art around and with it.  My first thought was that is one enormous pool which I bet looked amazing when it was functional.  New dream home goals.

Sculpture Garden


Along with serious art thoughts I also thought, this one has Marvin Martian written all over it.

Sculpture Garden


Made from a California redwood and created with a chainsaw, this made Wixer seem itty bitty.  He such a tolerant dog…and was paid handsomely in treats.

Sculpture garden


This eye catching one was called Ball? Ball! Wall? Wall!  It was made of reclaimed ocean buoys and took me back to those plastic pearl balls that snapped together.

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden


There were also these cool playground springers on which Wixer got to show off his mad balance skills.

Sculpture GardenSculpture Garden


Cromlech Glen was probably my favorite.  It was peaceful and quiet with dappled sunlight, all around just a lovely little area to walk up and around.

Sculpture Garden


Yet another cool part of this park was a trail with a bunch of sculptures at least tangentially related to dogs!  This one was about smells, supposedly a sort of olfactory compost heap the grounds people keep for dogs to sniff.  Wixer showed absolutely no interest.

Sculpture Garden


And this little doghouse town complete with McMansion and a high rise.

Sculpture Garden


Wixer hanging out in the high rise.

Sculpture Garden


I really enjoyed this whole experience and I’m sure I didn’t get to see everything. I might need to make time to go back the next time I’m in St. Louis.

Its all about that Bleys.

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Today the Fluffy Badger turns 13.  Words are inadequate to express how much I adore this little dude.  He exemplifies resilience, both physical and mental, and I think he has done an amazing job of leading by example that non-typical breeds can kick some serious ass in dog sports.  So today was all about that Bleys.

We started out with some birthday walkies.
Birthday walks

Along which there was forced birthday posing, obvi.
Forced birthday posing

Followed by MORE forced birthday posing.  So tolerant…and expecting treats for their participation in such torture.
More forced birthday posing

Then we moved on to birthday nosework.  Finding lemongrass is awesome…because there are tuna treats about to be bounced off his head.
Birthday nosework

Added in some impromptu birthday fauxgility.  He pwned that tunnel and the one 6″ jump on either end.  I’m talking reverse spins and back sides baby, deaf dog agility FTW.
Birthday fauxgility

What is a birthday without an extreme closeup. Extreeeeeme!
Birthday extreme closeup

Dave also sent me some birthday sketch art of him.  Just look at the majesty!  Consummate V’s all over the place.
birthday phone assisted sketch art

That face clearly deserves a birthday dinner fit for a king…charles spaniel.  Dave made sure he got some of his favorite thing, green tripe.
Birthday dinner

Revenge is a dish best served cow-ld.
Revenge is sweet

And finally some well deserved birthday snuggles.
Birthday snuggles

There may be a little less tri in his color these days, but he’s still looks like a puppy to me and is the absolute cutest dog in my world.

Long Time No Sew

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It’s been at least a month since I was in CraftyTown for any length of time.  I’m trying to find time to get back into the swing of things as I have tons of things people want and double that number of ideas to try out and perfect.  This morning I picked one project to finish.

Unicorn treat pouch

I improved the embroidery slightly on this one, I hope she likes the replacement.


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Its been a bumpy ride, but in the last couple weeks there have been a few glimmers of paradise.  Tonight was just such a glimmer. Whimsy managed to entice Wixer to play…in the cave bed.


Notice the gator clamp Whimsy has on Wixer’s jaw.
Miracle bitey-face


Getting cozy…with teeth.
Miracle bitey-face


Both dogs fully inside the upside down cave bed biting the crap out of each other.
Miracle bitey-face

And finally I get to reap the rewards.

Finders Keepers

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I hesitate to jinx it by saying so, but today was lovely.  So when Lyndsay invited me on her maiden voyage sans cast I packed Wixer in the car and went!  He wasn’t too keen on the idea of being in the car at all, ever, after our return from Florida.  I can’t say I blame him as we were already a week overdue because of that big ol’ storm where people were stuck on 65 overnight (hard pass) and then when we blew a tire and ended up in Louisville an extra night and new tires the next day?  Yeah, I’m not keen on any trips either.  But this was a short one so I decided to brave it.  I’m confident that Wixer is glad we did.  Not only did we get to have a nice meander around the park, he found quite a trophy to bring home.

Look what I found!  I will prance around with it like I wrestled it off the deer myself.  You wouldn’t tell people we found it on the ground…would you?

Look what I found!




Must. Chew. Immediately.


Finally home where I can properly mow on this.

Conquering chewer


Shhh…when Wixer is napping Bleys gnaws on it in his adorably gentle way.


It’s all about that Bleys ’bout that Bleys.

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Life is full of patterns. This weeks its been opportunities to appreciate the Fluffy Badger in all his magnificent glory.  He’s been providing perfect photo ops and entertaining us with his silly sassy self.

I finally got him back to the groomer (but this time got to leave his grinch feet – sorry guys its just a quintessential part of a Cavalier) and he’s much happier without so much hair to get matted or pick up leaves and small trees.

Soaking up some sunbeams, while hiding your nose in your grinch feet?  Check.

Sunbeam Slippers

With his less hair he enjoys swimming more as well.

He doesn’t tug anywhere else much, but at the pool? Game on.  Watch out, he’s got sharp pointy teeth!


But srsly, with this face who wouldn’t just let him win?

Not to worry he also defended his Hall Ball Champeen of the World status multiple times this week.

Hall ball champeen of the World
Its a miracle I get anything done with this looking back at me.

Scenes from a dog park

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In today’s episode we find ourselves in a rainy situation.

We find a rabid tree.
Rabid tree

A tree foaming at the trunk wasn’t covered in my botany class, but it turns out an accumulation of sap and other things that build up on the trunks of pine trees can actually form a crude soap. Who knew our trees so desperately wanted to be clean?

I don’t know why I’m fascinated with this tiny forest of tiny trees. They are just so cute!
Tiny forrest

And instead of two tiny galls on a large tree, today I saw this huge gall on a small tree.

We also got a rare glimpse of the elusive Woodland Fluffy Badger stalking through his native habitat.
Elusive Woodland Fluffy Badger

I also learned that the best place to walk in the park is about 100 meters behind someone else with dogs who roam through the woods. Wixer ran and jumped and sniffed and it was awesome. He did go up far enough to interact with the other dogs maybe once, but clearly that wasn’t the fun part. Checking out where the other dogs had been at top speed was.


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Coming back to Muskegon is sometimes odd. I only lived here for 3 years or so, but it seemed like a much larger part of my life than that short time suggests. We’re visiting Dave’s fam for Thanksgiving and taking advantage of the 48 acre dog park that’s not far from their house. Its great because its so large you rarely, if ever encounter anyone. Granted we are usually there at times when people are working so that helps as well. The area we usually head to is a the Canine Frontier a 24 acre wooded area with a nice walking trail.  Yesterday was kinda harsh because there was a layer of slushy icy mess that was hard to walk on.  Given that I was counting on this to exercise the dogs I was not encouraged.  Today was much better though, yay!


Hey guys! I found a thing.  Its awesome.  I’m awesome.  Do you want it?  No?  Okay, I’ll just be awesome with my awesome thing.

We also saw this tiny tree, it was just so adorbs.

And then this tree had testicles.
This tree's got balls.


Grilled Cheeses

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I had nice response to my post about the way I’ve been making grilled cheese sandwiches lately.  I thought if anyone was on the fence they might want to see how I make them specifically and then they’ll be tipped right off that fence into the land of gooey deliciousness.

I start with a hearty white bread slice cut in half then covered in a layer of swiss cheese.


Then spread on the cream cheese.



I find the mildness of the cream cheese further diminishes the already mild taste of the swiss cheese, so I like to add some Fox Point spice mix.  I’ve also considered using scallion cream cheese, but haven’t tried it yet.  Other spice mixes also taste delicious, but Fox Point is my fav.  You might also try Sunny Paris or a Sandwich Sprinkle.



Over low heat melt 1/2 Tablespoon of butter.



Add your sandwich.  I prefer to do this over a lower flame to for a couple reasons.  First it allows the cheese time to melt.  If the heat is too high the bread gets done brown too quickly, not allowing the cheeses a real chance to show their gooey stuff.  The other is to reduce risk of burning the bread.  I like my grilled cheeses lightly toasted, and too high of heat means my window of golden goodness is too small.  After a couple minutes use a spatula to gently lift the sandwich and check how done it is on the bottom.  When it looks like your level of brown add 1/4 Tablespoon of butter.



After allowing the butter to melt flip your sandwich onto the freshly melted butter and cook until the second side is as golden as the first.



This sandwich isn’t quite as brown as I’d like it, so after cooking the second side I flipped it back over and let it go just a while longer.   It was delicious.  My favorite presentation is along side a bowl of tomato soup.