Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Team Tugg fitness tip of the moment

I've been asked in a few messages (no, I'm not going to out you here) about fitness and bike riding and such. Being an average person here in the U.S., that for far too long took my health for granted, ate too much, got too large etc., had an extreme wake-up call and now do little things that are helping me get to where I want to be and stay there, I guess I do have a few ideas on the subject. 
For those who don't know the story about how Team Tugg came about, I may share that on a future post/note one day... but I digress.
So, while I was thinking about some of the answers to those question, I watched as a post from one of my friends, Chris, down in Austin scrolled across my feed with his fitness tip of the day. (BTW, Chris is awesome both at his work for a famous cancer-beating charity and with all the other things he does! Just sayin')
Of course! That's the answer! I could share with you - all my friends - various fitness tips for real people in the real world (since that's what most of the questions and thoughts alluded to in my messages, and since I am a real person in the real world too). SO, from time to time, I'm going to share a few fitness thoughts on here for you to have a go at, or at least think about. Let me know what you think!
Without further ado, here is the first installment of Team Tugg fitness tip of the moment:
Hopefully, we all know that loosing weight, no matter what program or diet plan you may go on, is only accomplished by burning more calories than you take in. No you don't need to buy a new book about dieting to help you do that, because I can sum them all up here with this formula: Eat right. Drink lots of water. Exercise an hour a day or more. Repeat 5-6 times a week. 
But, all that may not be as easy or as hard as it sounds. Let's start with some little things while keeping with the formula I just said. Start here - Take a hard, honest look at all you consume between 7 p.m. and sleep, think of it as your diet danger zone. As for eating right, we'll get to that later, but most people know what is good or bad for them. Sometimes you have to make choices.
One more thought about calories in this first, turning into a really long post about a fitness tip, about burning calories. If you don't enjoy something, it won't last, so here is a great way to see how many calories you burn doing various activities from work to exercise. Here's the details, plus many more exercise categories at the bottom of the page: —

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Communication is key

   My wife informed me it was time to get a new cell phone, after my old phone dialed someone in Italy and I had 15-minute conversation with them. It was nice to communicate with someone half a world away.
   Communication is key to everyone and everything on the planet. With all the new high-tech, whiz-bang gizmos out there you might think it would be easier to communicate or interact with your fellow man. But after thinking about it for a moment I have come to the conclusion that is simply not the case.
    Some might say we are communicating too much. There have been laws enacted to stop the use of cell phones while driving, and other laws have been written to stop texting in certain places.
   Technology offers many great things, but I think communication is a casualty. If we communicated better, and face to face, Dr. Phil might not be the superstar he has become. Everything on his show revolves around one thing — communication.
   Sure, our phones make it possible to communicate, but do they help us communicate better, or are cell phones actually limiting our communication?
   We communicate everyday in many ways, some verbal, others not, but as our interaction becomes less, so does the civility of our society.
   I let an 18 wheeler pull in front of me on a congested stretch of highway the other day. He was having a hard time getting over because no one would let him in, so his blinker just blinked. He was trying to communicate but no one was listening. I flashed my headlights at the trucker, and he guided his truck into my lane, quickly blinking his tail lights as a thank you. Communication sans cell phone.
   Of course, the guy behind me communicated his displeasure with my driving kindness and let me know by honking his horn.
   Go to any restaurant and look around the dining room. Not too long ago you would probably see people at the various tables holding a conversation with each other. Now, you may see one person texting, one talking on the phone, and maybe another surfing on a laptop. Are they communicating? Not with each other.
   In that same restaurant, those same diners probably communicate more with the waiter than with each other. They gave their order. Where the patrons place their glass communicates a desire for more beverage, where the plates gets moved signals they are finished with their meal and even where the bill is placed with a credit card for payment signals the diners are ready to leave.
   Some studies have shown 90 percent of our communication with others is nonverbal. And, no, texting does not count.
   Those with pets will undoubtedly say they can communicate with their pets without saying a word. A certain body movement, action or facial expression is enough to communicate your thoughts to your pet.
   Pets don’t generally have phones, so they rely on communication skills, and quite often behavior problems are a result of our lack of communication with our pets. Our pets “read” us by what we are saying, without saying a word.
   Don’t believe me? Try these experiments with your dog: Have your dog sit and stay, walk a few feet away, turn around and look at him or her. Next smile widely and hold your arms out like your excited — but don’t say a word. I’m sure your dog will at least wag his or her tail. Next, if your dog is doing something you don’t approve of, fold your arms, or point at him or her and give a scowl. Your dog will probably respond with something that humans would say looks like guilt, but in reality it’s just the dog reading what you are saying and trying to placate you.
   In agility and disc dog, people use body language to tell their dogs what they want done. Want your dog to go left? motion with your arm and turn left. Want your dog to go right? Do the same to the right. Want your dog to stop? Stop. Many times at dog sport competitions, I see handlers “pull” their dogs off an obstacle early then get upset because the dog didn’t make the necessary contacts. In reality, the dog was communicating better than the person, because he or she was reading what the person was doing and thereby doing  his or her part.
   One last thing to think about regarding communication — the number one cause for loneliness is a lack of communication, or interaction, with other people. Loneliness becomes amplified during the holiday season, as thoughts of  the perfect setup makes people realize they really aren’t communicating, or have no one to communicate with.
   Not long ago, we received a letter at the paper about a woman whose only wish for Christmas was to have someone to talk too for a few hours.
   Seeing the smile broaden across her face and watching her countenance brighten as we sat, having a cup of tea and talking — communicating — about nothing in particular was all the communication I needed. The newest phone with all the apps in the world couldn’t match that.

Blake Ovard hopes the world will slow down and stop trying to do everything right now. He communicates with his dogs and sometimes with inanimate objects with a few strange looks and can be reached via e-mail at

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Socializing, good for dogs and people

   Working with the shelter dog I drew for the Extreme Mutt Makeover, Mandy, made me think, in great detail, about a number of things that are normally just passing thoughts.
   I only had six weeks to work with Mandy, and so everything was more.
   More training sessions, more treats and more time bonding. This was done trying to get her to be the best dog she could be so that after the competition, she would have the best shot possible at getting the perfect home for her — and she will give her new people a lifetime of devotion and love.
   Part of her training involved taking her for walks and to various social gatherings so that she became socialized.
   It was obvious from day one that she enjoyed the company of people, so socialization was something that just needed to be kept up.
   While searching for a place bigger than my backyard to let her stretch her legs and run free, I discovered there is not a local place in my town where people with their dogs can go — at least they can’t go with their dogs off-leash.
   We piled into the car several times during training and headed to Fort Worth and the great dog park there, Ft. Woof.
   What a great opportunity we are missing out on in my town by not having our own version of the gathering place for canines.
   And, the Ft. Woof dog park not just a gathering place for dogs. Many people bring their canine buddies to the park in order to have conversations with other animal lovers. Some folks come out and don’t even own a pooch — they just like the company.
   While up that direction, we typically stop for a drink or a bite to eat and gas, if we need it. Those are dollars I would rather spend locally, but find myself in need out of town, only because I must go out of town in order to take part in an activity that is not offered locally.
   A local park would benefit the community socially and economically. Perhaps it is something that should be considered by city leaders.
   Dog parks are something officials typically overlook because they can't see the immediate benefit of one. What they typically see is that the dog park will cost money rather than bring money into the city. They don't understand people with dogs buy goods and services and that money could be leaving their town if dog owners are forced to go to a neighboring community to take part in having fun with their dog.
   I recently mentioned I would be trying various products and telling you if they are worth your hard-earned paychecks, and I have something to report.
   The Mosquito Magnet is a contraption that supposes to attract the little buggers with a mix of propane and a chemical attractant.
   I hooked one outside by my pool a couple of weeks ago, and I can honestly say it has made a difference. It is a bit pricey, running a little over $300, but being able to sit out in the evening without getting bit is worth 10 times that amount. I’m sure my neighbors are enjoying the relief from mosquitoes as well, because it is said to clear about an acre of land from the pests.
   I just hope mosquitoes never get organized and build a mosquito park.

Blake Ovard is a professional dog trainer and a top-three finalist in the Extreme Mutt Makeover. He can be reached via e-mail at when he is not at the dog park or barking up a tree.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pulling down the house

  There we sat on the coffee shop patio, me enjoying the warm cup of java in my hands and Scoop laying next to me enjoying a bone. The sun was shining, the temperature was a near perfect 78 degrees and I thought I could almost hear blue birds starting to sing a Disney tune.
   I looked up and saw a woman trying to make her way down the street, about a block away, with what appeared to be a small tornado on the end of a string. The tornado darted this way and that, pulled forward and back, darted between the woman's legs and looped around as if trying to tie her up.
   Scoop stopped chewing his bone, observed the same commotion I was taking in and looked up at me questioningly. I'm not sure if he was trying to ask if we should help the woman with tornado on a string, if I could believe what I was seeing or if he could have extra dog treats for putting up with me and not acting that way.
   While alternating between the sidewalk, the curb and the edge of the street, among cries of, "no," "stop," "Rufus please," and "come here," the pair made their way toward the coffee shop — the woman holding the leash in both hands so that it couldn't get away from her. Who knows what damage a four-pound tornado could do when left to its own devices on a busy street?
   Scoop had become disinterested, having seen this many times before, and went back to chewing his bone. I pretended to read the magazine in front of me so that I would not be tempted to offer unsolicited advice.
   "Rufus, no," I heard and looked up from my magazine to see the pomeranian tugging his way toward Scoop and his bone.
   I leaned forward and put my hand into the potential path and wiggled my fingers. The cute ball of fur took the bait and diverted his attention from my dog and his bone to my hand, licking my fingers and wagging his whole body. I told the small dog what a good boy he was and scratched under his chin, then told the woman how cute the orange-colored fluffball was.
   Her shoulders dropped and she explained she had rescued him from someone selling puppies on the street corner, and that the pomeranian was only about 16 weeks old. She also said she was at her wits end because he didn't know anything, including how to walk on a leash. The dog not responding to her was driving her crazy and she was afraid she was not going to be able to keep him.
   It was obvious I was not going to be able to ignore the problem, so I pulled out one of my cards and handed it to her. Then I asked if I could pick her dog up, so I could pet him while I passed on a few tips to her.
   So many times people get a dog, or puppy, and expect it to know what the new person wants without the benefit of being able to speak the native tongue of the person, ask questions or experience new things. Dogs experience things differently than people, and sometimes get excited at new surroundings. Like a human child, dogs and puppies need boundaries set and reinforced.
  If a dog pulls, it's because he or she wants to go in a particular direction and is putting what he or she wants to do ahead of what the person wants to do. Like a child, it is up to the adult to provide instruction, boundaries and direction.
   So, I asked why it was that she let the small dog pull her down the street, when it is obvious that with the size difference, she could stand her ground and cause the dog to pay attention to her and what direction she wanted to go. If you want to go the same direction, great, but if the dog decides he or she is going to pull, you can just stop, or you might need to change your mind and go the opposite direction — if only for a few steps before changing your mind and going the original direction.
   It won't take long before the dog learns to pay attention to what the person is doing and want to stay with you. You don't need any special collars, equipment or super human strength, just stop and hold the leash firm. When the dog gets to the end of the lead, he or she will stop and most likely come back to you to find out what the problem is.
   The woman took a coffee to go and the scene as she headed back up the street was a completely different one than only a few minutes earlier. She would stop when Rufus got in front of her. Rufus would come back to her. Away they walked until she stopped again a few more times.
   The barista asked if that works on any dog, no matter how big it is.
   "It does as long as they were born with more than two legs and a tail," I said, and sipped my coffee.

Blake Ovard is a professional dog trainer and a top-three finalist in the Extreme Mutt Makeover. He can be reached via e-mail at

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Change in the air

   I know many of you tune in to see what is going on with some of the training I'm doing, what my dogs are up to or — hopefully — to get a chuckle. Today's entry is somewhat of a departure from my normal blog post, but I think the topic is something many people may identify with.
   This column is the most recent of my newspaper columns, and deals with the more serious topic of politics — which some may say has no seriousness in it, just a bunch of would-be comedians trying to act serious and pretend they have common sense. I could name names on that front, but will leave that for another day.
   So, without further ado, here is my current column, Change is in the Air. Please let me know what you think.
   Recently, President Barack Obama gave the first State of the Union Address of his presidency. In that address, he mentioned he was voted into office because voters believed he would change the way this country does business.
   Whether you agree with the president’s position on the various issues he has championed, one thing does stand true, he is making good on his campaign promises of change.
   For the first time in history, the federal government has actively stepped in and has taken ownership of big companies in the private sector and fired the CEO of one of them, General Motors. I never knew it was within the scope of presidential powers to make such a sweeping move, but it has now been done.
   Governmental sights have been set on insurance companies and banks in recent months, while in their periphery lies newspapers. I need not tell you what a state-run newspaper might look like, for examples lie in other countries like Russia and China.
   Yes, change is in the air in Washington, but it may not be the type of change many voters thought they would be getting.
   Those voters, it seems, have started sending signals to Washington and to state capitals that change may not only originate in those governmental bodies. The change that may be coming may not be what the president had in mind during his speech.
   Two recent gubernatorial contests saw GOP victories in long-held Democratic seats and the recent senatorial victory for Republican Scott Brown, in Massachusetts ­— a state with almost 1 million more registered Democrats than Republicans­ — stunned many in the national media.
   Some may blame those victories on the TEA party and 912 movements, but I think it goes deeper than that.
   Here in our area, incumbent candidates from both parties are fighting for their seats in a way they haven’t had to before. Voter apathy seems to have dissipated from the last few election cycles and a renewed interest in the Constitution and how we, the governed, are governed.
   This is evident on the state level as well, with what many thought would be a two-horse race for the Republican nomination for governor turning into a three-candidate gallop.
   Rick Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, has been challenged by popular U.S. Sen. Kay Baily Hutchinson. Both are being challenged by Wharton native and nurse Debra Medina.
Until the gubernatorial debates — the most recent taking place last Friday night — Medina trailed far behind the two seasoned politicians.
   Then a funny thing happened after the first debate — Medina surged in the polls to capturing almost 15 percent of the vote among potential voters. And, Medina took her opponents to task in the second debate Friday in a performance that will undoubtedly see her climb higher in the poles.
   What makes her popular among potential Texas voters? It could be that she isn’t a career politician. It could be that she could be anyone’s next door neighbor. It could be that she is seen to have some ideas to fix what many consider to be broken, instead of offering more of the same, and politics as usual. It could be that during the debates she seemed to have a firm grasp of the issues and articulated her stance while the two front runners seemed to be consumed with getting shots in on each other.
   Medina has made many appearances at TEA party rallies and has gathered grass-roots support at those meetings. With the debates, she has brought her pro-gun ownership, pro-property rights, pro-life, anti-big government message to most potential voters whom she may not have been able to reach without the debates.
   Of course on the Democratic side of the ticket, there will be a battle between former Houston Mayor Bill White and Farouk Shami, and whoever wins the Republican nomination will face the winner of that contest. But , most agree, the battle with all the fireworks is on the Republican side.
   It will be interesting to see how that race, and others, plays out.
   Yes, change is in the air. It starts locally, grows at the state level and continues to the national level. Change will be brought about and, as always, the voters have the biggest say in how that change will take place.

Blake Ovard is a professional dog trainer and a former managing editor for a group of seven newspapers. He can be reached via e-mail at  

Monday, January 11, 2010

Twice the fun, twice the work

   I received an interesting phone call from my wife on Saturday informing me that we may be bringing home 6-month-old twins. Twins is not something I thought we would ever have, nor is it something we have ever aspired too.
   The two brothers, she informed me, were rambunctious and playing in the holding room while their parents filled out paperwork to put them up for adoption. My wife knew from the moment she saw the young boys they would be coming home with us — at least as fosters.
   Because of the processing and paperwork involved, the pair were not available at all Saturday. This gave us a day or so to prepare for their arrival and think of new names to call them, as they didn’t seem to respond to the names they had been given.
   Sunday evening my wife pulled into the driveway, and I went out to meet her. The boys were in their car carriers in the back seat and I couldn’t wait to see them.
   I opened the door, and their eyes lit up with excitement. A smile could be seen on both their faces as their tongues licked excitedly and their tails began to wag. One gave a quick bark of hello and was rapidly followed by the other also yipping hello.
   The border collie brothers are adorable. With more black on their faces than traditional black and white border collies, and a good think coat of hair already, the little fuzzballs bounded out of the back of our Jeep to explore the yard — at the end of the leash I had managed to slip around their necks as they were exiting, of course.
   I sat on the frozen ground that has been our yard for the last few days and both bounded over to me and clamored for attention by climbing in my lap and licking me, their tails wagging at a speed that approached blinding.
   We decided to take the fun party to the backyard where we could let the pair run, play, tumble and discover new things without being bound by a leash. This would also give me a good glimpse into what each of the brothers personalities might be like.
   Having evaluated hundreds of litters of puppies, I have learned many things and can usually tell within a few minutes what personality a puppy may have. With pups 5-6 months old, it is usually easier because their personalty is normally set by then and traits are easier to pick out.
   One of the pups, Tripp, is more adventurous than his brother, and was probably one of the first in the litter. He is the more dominant of the two. Roadie is the more laid back — at least as laid back as a border collie can be — and is a bit of a “love bug,” preferring to walk, play and discover things from next to a person. Both are sound and will make excellent dogs for an active owner or family.
   Our pool, was something they may not have seen before. In went both pair of front feet onto the first step in the shallow end. Out came both pair of feet.
   A small bowl we use as an additional water bowl had a large piece of ice floating in it, and the boys had great fun trying to bob for it while getting a drink.
   Puppies are fun because you get to see them grow and explore. Border collie pups are sometimes too much for most people to handle as they are really just a bundle of energy wrapped in a fur suit. To take on twins, I was told, we must be crazy.
   But, it’s all part of what I do as part of my life outside of newspapers. Border collies are smart, high-drive dogs that need a special kind of owner. Sure, it may be a lot of work, but by fostering dogs through Border Collie Rescue Texas, we help get dogs to a great forever home, and get to enjoy special moments, like bringing home the twins, in the process.

Blake Ovard is a professional dog trainer and a top-three finalist in the Extreme Mutt Makeover. He can be reached via e-mail at

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A writer's meme

   A writer’s meme I stole from The bookshelf muse who probably stole it from someone else that’s also great, but not nearly as cool. And, by stole, I mean borrowed with the intent to back-link. I don't typically do these, but I thought this one was interesting.
What’s the last thing you wrote?
    An editorial piece and a column for each of the six papers I am managing editor over. I just finished another chapter in the thriller/mystery I am writing — working title, "Paws for Silence." Technically, the last thing I wrote was this.
Was it any good?
    The editorial content is ALWAYS good. After all, my opinion is always right about whatever the subject is. Who would dare argue that point?! All joking aside, I think the editorials I have written lately have been better than average, and my columns have been good. Paws for Silence is some of the best fiction I have written, and it will be interesting to see how it is received when it hits the shelves.
What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
    I still have some pretty dark poetry I wrote during a particularly rough spot in my life. Some was written as a release, some just to get a handle on a certain emotion and some were written as lyrics for song. I think this will fall into the next couple of questions.
Write poetry?
   Poetry, like the pumpkin pie that slowly cools and the whipped cream that slowly melts, there poetry sits, waiting, poised for it's place among or forms of the written narrative.
Angsty poetry? 
   Didn't I cover this a couple questions ago?
Favourite genre of writing?
    What I would choose might largely depend on my mood. When writing for daily, weekly or monthly non-fiction publication, I would probably choose a column or a feature. For fiction, I would usually choose mystery, thriller, SF, fantasy or YA.
Most fun character you ever wrote?
   Villains are always fun though, aren’t they?  The kind of person you love to hate and hate to love is always fun writing. You can take so many liberties with them. The other fun character is the main character in Paws for Silence, Dallas Townsend. I really plan on running him through the ringer in books after this one, so knowing what is coming makes writing him now fun. Most annoying character you ever wrote?
    I once wrote a character who had many character traits I personally despise. It made the character so annoying to me that I stopped writing his storyline, and eventually rewrote everything so he didn't exist at all.
How often do you get writer’s block?
    Surprisingly rarely. Most of the time I have a specific goal in mind when I sit down to write, whether it be for the paper, a magazine of a book. Now, for the blog? We'll have to wait and see.
How do you fix it?
    Various ways seem to work best. From reading news sites to surfing youtube. One sure-fire way to get rid of teh block — when writing about dogs — is just to watch mine or go out and play with them for a few minutes.
Write fan fiction?
    Never really saw the point of it.
Do you type or write by hand?
    Type. If one isn't handy, I'll pull out my recorder and get the idea into it. Failing that I may text an idea to my e-mail or write it on a napkin.
Do you save everything you write?
    Not with the intention of saving it. Though I can pull you anything I've written for the past decade off one of our external harddrives.
Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
   It depends on why I abandoned the idea. If I abandoned because the idea turned to nothing, then it stays as nothing. If left because it was written poorly, I may go back and try to rescue with editing and revision. I may not revive an idea at all, but merely nibble at it, stealing little chunks here and there to make them fit scenes I am working on now.
What’s your favourite thing that you’ve written?
   There area couple or particularly strong columns I have written that tend to be on my list of favorites. For fiction, any thing I am currently working on — as it should be, or why work on it? My children's book, "Who's Feet Are Those" still ranks among my favorites.
What’s everyone else’s favourite thing that you’ve written?
   I get a lot of letters to the editor when I write about a "touchy" local topic. Other than that, Who's Feet seemed to get a lot of attention. Stores still re-order it, so I guess that's a good sign.
What’s your favourite setting for your characters?
   I tend to globe hop, though the bulk most of my stories take place in the U.S.
What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
   Always working on a couple of columns and editorials. Usually working on a feature or two, and currently on three novels and a script for a four-part comic book.
Do you want to write for a living?
   You mean more thn I already do? Geez, that would be a lot of writing...
Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?
   All the time. It is where the majority of the small pittance I call pay comes from.
Have you ever won an award for your writing?
   Yep, lots. In regional newspaper association contests and Associated Press contests. In addition I have won numerous awards from other literary bodies.
Ever written something in script or play format?
   Funny this question should come up as I am currently working on a four-part comic book. Comics are written in script format.
What are your five favourite words?
   The ones I put down on the page and get paid for. Whatever those words may be, they are my favorite.
What character that you’ve written most resembles yourself?
   I would venture that there is a part of an author in every character they write. Whether the charter be "good" or "bad" most writers can identify with at least a portion of that character's character and personality.
Where do you get ideas for your other characters?
   Most of my primary characters I work up a whole bio on. And, I do mean a bio, like their life's story. I need to know as much about them and why they do what they do as I do about myself and any other real people I know. A lot of my secondary characters come about out of need, though I still write a bio on them so I can have basic information and understand why they do what they do. Any others from that point arrive without much fanfare and are primarily utilitarian. The lady on the bus whose knee-high stockings have dropped to her ankles, wearing an old overcoat and clutching a small paper bag of groceries might not need a lot of background as a main character may only take a cursory glance at her. BUT then again, that lady might make another appearance later, so having a working knowledge of her background and character traits becomes important.
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
   Editorialy, no. There have been scenes in my fiction that have been loosely based on a dream I might have had.
Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
   All three have their place. I can't say I favor one over the other, unless of course we are talking about stories about rescue dogs. I ALWAYS want a happy ending there. It doesn't always happen, but I always prefer it.
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
   Sometimes, but it depends on the setting. I rely heavily on spellcheck, and editing.
Does music help you write?
   Music helps with most things in life. I like having a soundtrack to go with the things I do. Music sometimes helps me set a tone for a scene I am trying to get down. When writing editorial copy, I like music, but it doesn't have much of an influence.
Quote something you’ve written. The first thing to pop into your mind.
   Besides the question above or one of the other questions here? How about an excerpt from Paws for Silence:
   Shopping. Shopping was something she did instinctively. Like a mother whale that instinctively stays with her calf on a northern migration, the trout that swims upstream or the bear that hibernates in the winter, shopping was part of her DNA. A sale at Macy’s or Lord and Taylor sometimes had a stronger pull on her than that of self preservation. Scores of women flocking to the shoe department to square off like gladiators in the arena over the last pair of black patent leather Jimmy Choo Mary Janes in size 7, or black ostrich leather with black lace, silver hardware and a crescent cap toe from Christian Louboutin, were battles she had long been pat of — and in many instances had come out triumphant, clutching her prize much like Spartacus may have held his weapon high in the air.