Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vito's Life Lessons

Vito's Life Lessons
(Flickr Group)
Week 39

"Sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I went herding on Sunday and again today. Both times were awesome.

 Sunday I used Leo for all the "real work" so that Brit would be fresh to train. For a dog that has had minimal training he did amazing. Brought the sheep to me every time, even with me on the quad. Just a good good boy. Today I did some training with him too- putting words to his flanks, and with my limited knowledge trying to push him out more. He is a little flat on the sides sometime and really likes to be close to the sheep. He's so keen, and his natural ability is pretty amazing.

Leo on sheep is very different than Leo in life.  Put him with sheep and he is cool, calm and collected. Serious about work, and pressure doesn't phase him at all. In real life sometimes the pressure of "here, have a cookie" can throw him for a loop. lol. Although he is a control freak in both settings, but at least with the sheep it is allowed. ;)

Sarah came out with me today and took some amazing photos of Mr.Handsome. He's so photogenic!
Thanks for the photos Sarah!! Maybe it will help to find him the amazing home he deserves...

in the big field

one. step. at. a. time.

mr. intense...

isn't this incredible? he did not back down one little bit...
and then there is Brit- who made some real progress today! We've been working on teaching her to bend back out on an outrun if she slices or goes flat or whatever. With a "you getouttathat" and full head on pressure. Today she did it! Her Away side continues to be her strongest side, but the Come Bye is catching up!

I <3 this dog.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Splish Splash...

Sorry to be quiet on the blogging front. I've just not been feeling it lately. In any case here are some cute photos from a swim/walk on Friday. The dogs all had a great time, my friend Jenilee met me out there with her two crazies so it was quite the event. lol.

The Gimpy Corgi girls, and Boone had the first swim. Boone isn't a gimp, but he requires a lot of watching if he's off leash. So he paddled around with the girls quite happily. Mostly he tried to steal the toy...

who are you calling gimpy??!

And then the Rowdies came out to play...

Scamp doesn't really know how to swim. He tries hard, and he really, really wants to. But he swims up instead of forward and everyone ends up wet.. lol. Neena was the queen fetcher that day.

Vito in a hurry to no where. lol

scamp looking rather handsome. he is the coolest dog.

vito was being annoying, but brit seemed to like it. lol

leo was a jerk and ended up having to be on the leash of shame...

my favorite photo of the day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leo, Leo, Leo...

Where to start with Mr.Complicated. I've been putting off doing an update about him because sometimes it's as though we've made no progress.

Don't get me wrong- Leo has been improving by leaps and bounds. He is relaxed in new places, is interested in meeting new people, will accept petting and even ask for it sometimes, and most importantly is happy!

But there are some things that are not really going away, in fact it is quite the opposite. I'm thinking more and more that it is going to have to be someone pretty special for this guy!

Before I air all his dirty little secrets lets' talk more about the good stuff. :)

  • He is learning about the clicker, and cookies, and how he can make both happen by doing stuff like lying down, and putting his feet on a perch...
  • He has mastered "off" and no longer uses me as a trampoline when he is excited. 
  • People mean food. Or at the very least soft pets and kind words. 
  • Toys are fun! Kind of. Sort of. Okay, only when there are no people or other dogs are present. But he definitely is showing interest! 
  • Trust is not as hard anymore. He recovers much faster after being spooked by something. 
  • His recall is amazing. 
  • He loves the water and is a decent swimmer. 
  • Great on the leash- doesn't pull much at all.
  • No means no. He gets that pretty well now- from people and from dogs. 
  • Still quiet as a mouse. He barks only when the others do, or if he is very excited.
  • SO Snuggly!! He loves to touch, and be cuddled.
  • He has phenomenal dog skills- likes most dogs and is very sociable. 
  • Ignores Cats
  • LOVES sheep. He is quite talented according to my trainer.

And now for the things he still has troubles with.

He is obsessed with dogs. Running. Stopping. Lying down. Sleeping. It doesn't matter. If there is a dog he is content to stare at it. He has been spending more time crated now, or in a seperate yard from my dogs. And is now being walked seperately as well. I know all too well that obsession like this can be impossible to get rid of. So I'm trying to stop it before it's bad. He will break off and engage with me if I call him or am playing with him but the chasing/stalking leads to biting...

Speaking of Biting. Leo has nipped four times since I've had him. All of them have been quick and hard, but not clothes ripping or resulting in blood. Just a quick dart in and run away. Total chicken- always from the side or behind. And always related to motion or excitment. Thankfully the two people that he nipped this past weekend were understanding. Dog people are great. One was a hug gone bad. lol. Someone I hadn't seen in a while came up to give me a hug and Leo darted behind her and nipped her leg. And then that night in the hotel he nipped at my friend who was roughing up her own dog. Again her back was to him and he nipped her arm. Both times were preventable had I been paying better attention to him. The rest of the weekend I only had him out when I could focus 110% on him. He was great- met tons of people and was a perfect gentleman. He will be adopted to an Adult Only home though- it is too risky to place him with kids, or even where he may be around them....Kids move fast and Leo is a bit of a control freak. ;)

And that's the worst of it. He really is a good good boy. Easy to live with (minus the managing for the obsessiveness over the other dogs). Happy and friendly. Loves to go for walks, great in the car, quiet in a crate and is just a nice dog. We have lots of work to do still- the nipping concerns me. For a herding dog saavy home it will be easy, but that home may take a long time to come foward. He is a project dog for sure! Good thing he's so handsome. And sweet.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's not all doom and gloom around here...

Although my last few blog posts have been downright depressing I really am doing okay. I learned a long time ago to have a thick skin, and go with the flow.

Yes, it sucks that Pixel is hurt- again. But she will be fine in a few days or weeks. The agility decision can wait until then.

In the mean time look what I got today!

This is from the one and only weekend of trials we did in the late Spring. She is the #1 Started dog in Canada still. Pretty awesome! I am very proud of my dog. (and of myself!!!) Herding has a pretty large learning curve. lol.

CKC Herding is small potatoes compared to the big field trials, but ya gotta start somewhere! We've been puttering and learning bit by bit. Foot by foot her outruns are getting bigger and better. It's slow going when you can't go every day. I'm still pretty serious about it though- we'll be practicing all winter regardless of weather! Let's hope for a mild one!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Deja Vu

I never thought I'd say this, but maybe Corgis are just not built for agility. I used to argue with people who said such things. It was a sore topic for me. Who were "they" to judge what my dog(s) could do or not do. 

My dogs are not weekend warriors. We run and play, and exercise and train little things every day. We do agility not super regularly lately- but they are fit, and muscled. They get massages whenever they need them, and I have a great rehab vet that I trust. It should be easy to keep any dog with this kind of care sound enough to play....breed shouldn't matter.

Wicca seemed fine, it was easy to forget about all the small injuries she had over the years. Until she was one big mess. I figured her injuries were more due to her crazy speed and intensity. Pixel is gentle, and smooth, and not that quick, and certainly doesn't hurl her body around the course. She is also built much better- nice rear, great topline, the works. She should be structurally sound enough to do agility for a long time!


Regionals in June was her first injury. I had to pull her the second morning. She slammed the frame and had a very sore shoulder.

She ran a few runs at our one day trial last month. And was looked at by my rehab vet and given a thumbs up. A few little twitchy things but nothing major.

Last weekend she ran 6 runs over two days. And was great. No problem with the frame, but some weave problems. Which is not normal. So I had Sarah look at her last week. She found some ouchie spots, but worked them out. And she seemed okay.

Ran her this weekend in Medicine Hat and had an awesome first day! Great runs- fast, accurate, and working hard. Probably the best ever Jumpers run- even with a refusal it just felt fantastic. I reminded about what I love about agility. (which was amazing  to feel as I have been struggling with that!)

She ran by a frame in my gamble opening on saturday, but I thought it may just have been her being too excited, or a bad approach. And then this morning she ran by the frame again. Hmmmm.

Sarah is awesome and looked at her right away for me. This time a sore hip area (I forget with the muscle is called) and some twitchy spots on her back. And her shoulder- well, a specific muscle in the shoulder but of course I've forgotten exactly what.. She was sore enough to look uncomfortable when Sarah was working on her, and had the scared ouchie eyes even. It ripped my heart out and made me feel ill.

So I pulled her for the rest of the weekend. I will never ever, ever run an injured dog. So we hung out the rest of the day, I ran a friends dog which was fun. And now I am home and have emailed my rehab vet to make an appointment and have iced her shoulder.

I've been thinking, and talking out loud to the dogs. LOL. If this game is going to continue to hurt my little corgis then I am not sure that I should continue. I am doing everything I can to keep them healthy. But what if it's not enough. I am trying really hard to do the best I can for my dogs. But I need to be realistic.

On the flip side I can't really have them live in a bubble. She could hurt herself launching off the stairs, or jumping out of the van, or (fill in the blank).... Life is a gamble (ironic. lol)

So do I quit all together with her? Or do I keep up the training (after she is recovered from this of course..) and just enter the gambles. (she needs three gambles for her ATCHC). Get the Q's we need and then have a last hurrah? Or do I just sit on this for a bit- see what Veronica thinks. I'm probably over-reacting. I can't help it though. I love my dogs to bits and don't ever want to ask them to do something that is hurting them. I like agility. But not at the cost of my dog. There are a millon different things I could do with the dogs. But there is potential for injury in pretty much everything. LOL. That's what is so difficult about it...

I feel like I've been through all this before.

Oh wait. I have.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Go ahead and judge

I have been doing dog rescue work for a long time. I can't even begin to guess the actual years- and frankly my head hurts so I can't. But a long time. Years. I started with a small rescue, and did adoptions, and then intake, and then adoptions and intake and everything in between. Personal differences made me leave. Fast foward to a year later and a few like minded people get this great idea to start up a new rescue. It will be nothing like before. I was in with two feet and all heart.

And now I am broken. Done.

Rescue is not just a thing I do in my spare time. It consumes me. I worry about the dogs in our care, and I worry about the dogs I've had to say no to. And it isn't only the dogs you have to worry about. People. People are not my cup of tea. I am not a people person. People stress me out. People are unpredictable. And People are mean.

Despite the mean people, and general difficulties of dealing with dogs that people throw away- I love it. It means so much to me to see the happy endings. I can recall most of my own foster dogs adoptions. What we do matters. And it matters big time. To the dogs, and the people who love them. I am passionate about it. I will force spay and neuter down your throat any chance I get. I will flag every kijiji ad I see that looks like it could be a mill, or someone looking for a stud. And I will educate people in what I belive in at any moment. I believe that all dogs deserve love. And a chance at a happy ending. I have had some pretty amazing dogs come through my house and my heart. Each of them shared a lesson before heading to their next stop.

In this particular group I am so grateful for the core bunch of girls, and the few amazing foster homes we have. The foster homes who put up with crap (sometimes literally), down to the gal who checks the phone line. The people who understand about patience and understanding I can't jump the second you say so. We do have some great people. We are lucky.

Rescue has a way of opening your eyes to what is really important. Most of my adopters aren't sports people. They are people looking for a buddy. Someone to lay on the couch with. Someone to be there when they get home. Someone to play with their kids. They love the dog for who they are, not what they could be. And I will take that lesson with me wherever I go.

Last week I helped a devastated woman make the decision to euthanise a dog she loved. He was a hard case- a dog who had suffered trauma his whole short life. He bit someone badly. His unpredictable behaviour was escalating. And for that he payed the ultimate price. But he died in the arms of someone who loved him. Me. His owner could not. So I did. I held him and told him he was wonderful and that we all loved him. It was incredibly sad. Heartbreaing. And then a war of words erupted. Threats, phone calls, emails, facebook. Full of very angry people. How dare we murder this poor dog. It was exhausting, and awful. We were blamed. Even though it came down to the owners decision. We stood by her- and took the beating so to speak. I am barely recovered from that and tonite more drama.

This time over an adoption fee. It is so freaking trivial I cannot even believe that this is what has brought the mighty amanda down. A foster home who wants a deal. On a dog that cost us $3500. A dog that we took out of the shelter because she failed their temperament test. A dog that we then had to repair a cruciate on. A dog that has been sitting in a foster to adopt, or maybe not, or maybe we will home for about four months. They don't want to pay. Because they bought some food when they couldn't be bothered to email and ask for some. Our adoption fee is $300. Not that much in the whole scheme of things. Worth a fight even? No, not really. The guy was just willing to give the dog back. But a friend of his is mad. Like pointing finger, and harsh words mad. I'm sorry but the judging of things you know nothing about. That is worth an argument. I couldn't help it. I replied. In a not very professional way. It was innappropriate really. But does it really matter at this point? No. Because I am done. We are done. We will take care of the dogs we have. But no more. I am tired. I can't fight anymore. It is too hard.

Instead I will help dogs one at a time when I can. In an unofficial way, which will be more expensive, and more time consuming. But easier. The only person I'll have to talk to is myself. lol. It will be so hard to say goodbye when that last Windy City dog is adopted. Knowing we are leaving a hole in our community. But a person can only take so much. I say good luck to the next group who wants to step up. Walk a mile in my shoes and then judge me.

I am a strong person. But inside I am just like anyone else. Made of blood, and sweat and tears.

Edited to Add:

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive. Maybe I'll feel better in the morning. Maybe for once my inbox will be empty in the morning. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Okay, I spoke too soon

So it seems that a phone call from the police can put a stop to even the most irrational people. So blogging hiatus be gone. ;)

You didn't even have time to miss me!!

 I took off for the weekend even though I debated most of the day- do I go and leave my house, or do I stay home just in case. I ended up going after my friends pressured me. And I am VERY glad I did.

We had a great weekend. I love the mountains, and this particular trial is one of my most favorites. The crip mountain air, the beautiful trees, the friends. It's just perfect.

Mostly I enjoyed the company. I had all my dogs (and foster dog Leo) in tow, and we cuddled, and walked, and hung out. My dogs really do help me to stay grounded. I love each of them for different reasons. Without them I'd be lost for sure.  Friends are awesome too, and lots of our Go Dog Go peeps attended so we had lots of laughs fun, and support. I haven't been to a trial in a while- so it was nice to see other agility friends aswell.

This trial was a little bittersweet for me. Last year Wicca earned her ATCH here. This year she is forced to retire and sat in an xpen miserable and pissed off the whole weekend. It was the only sucky part to the weekend. I so miss running my little baddog. She was the bestest. And I know she misses it too. I see other people running their old dogs and I more than a little jealous. This weekend was difficult for me for that reason. But at least I still have her sitting in the xpen- miserable or not. Unlike a few of my friends who have lost dogs between then and now. I am grateful, but still a little sad.

The other dogs had a blast though. Pixel was entered in 6 events and qualified in four of them! Two Standards, and Two Jumpers. She earned her Bronze Jumpers, which I didn't realise until I got home. I coulda got a purdy ribbon! She was great fun to run- quick, and zippy, and full of happy little sass. She did have a few weave problems though- which earned her a massage from Sarah today. She didnt' find anything major though- just a little soreness on one side that seemed to work out with massage.

Vito got to play in two runs, a standard and a snooker. In the standard he was so funny. Ran like a speed demon, but missed the tire, the chute, and the weaves. He actually had to duck to go under the tire... He was having such a good time I didn't bother to fix it. He Q'd in Snooker though! Even though I didn't walk it, had no path, and was the first dog up. Vito likes agility in small doses, so I was really happy to get in a few runs with him.

And the most exciting part of all- Boone came out to play. I ran him FEO in a Starters Standard and he was smoking fast. His weaves were brilliant! Who knew he could weave like that!!! He was a little stressed, but didn't leave, or disconnect, or poop, or pee. So I was thrilled. Boone did agility a lot a few years ago- he got up to Masters pretty quickly, and then it was like a short circuit in his brain every time we tried a masters course. It became pretty apparent that he couldn't handle the stress and pressure of it anymore. So it was really nice to have that back for just one run. It was the cherry on top of a good weekend. ;)

Brit did some obedience training, and Leo worked on social skills. He did great- and is getting better and better. Soon he will be ready for a home of his own!!!

All in all a pretty awesome weekend. Great dogs, great company, fun courses, and friends. What more could a girl want!!!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Strength and Friendship

"You never know how strong you are until strong is your only option"

I am strong, I don't back down.  I stand up for what I believe in. I will always support my friends. I will not be bullied. I will not be intimidated. And although it is difficult I will always keep moving forward, one step a time. Head held high. Believing in myself. 

I refuse to let a few angry people ruin me, and what I stand for.

I will be taking a blogging hiatus for a bit- until things settle down as I do not wish to tarnish this space with garbage. 

Thank you to those that have supported me, and Windy City, and Nilo. It is appreciated more than you can imagine. 

I leave you all with the ever adorable Vito. <3 Today is a hug sort of day. 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Super Models

Wendy needed some models and Brit, Pixel and Boonie were more than happy to participate. They brought their best "moves" to the photoshoot. ;)

Thanks Wendy for the awesome photos. You rock.

Sunday, September 02, 2012


We've spent the majority of the summer working on outruns. Outruns, Outruns, Outruns. I think it's the most exciting part. The speed, the dog watching, learning about pressure, how far is far enough, when do the sheep feel the pressure. It has been interesting to learn about.  And we have  a LONG ways to go still!!!

Now and then we have also work on driving. Driving is where the dog is driving (or walking in a straight line) behind the sheep generally away from you. This is done with you (eventually) completely out of the picture. It is almost directly opposite of what they have been learning (bring the sheep is now drive them away). It is complicated- but thankfully it is something that Brit really enjoys doing and does it pretty naturally.

Our lesson this morning at Phantomridge was spent doing mostly Outruns, with a bit of driving near the end. Next time we will start with the driving- which will be more challenging when she is "zippy." I have to remember to pair my "There-Walk Up" together. So that she doesn't flank out to bring them to me. At this point she does not have reliable "inside flanks" (direction NOT in relation to me) so I am using her name, to get her to turn to me, followed by a "THERE" to get her to walk in to them at the right spot, followed by a "Walk Up" to get her to not think about flanking. It's complicated for my brain.

My friend Cindy came with me today. So I have pictures, and even some video! She worked her Kelpie "Pike" and kept me company on the drive. Although it may seem ridiculous to drive an hour and fourty minutes one way to go for a lesson it makes me happy. So I do it. As my dog zipped around the field this morning- happy, tail wagging, and tongue hanging out I felt totally content.

Louanne's young dog Gus showed us all up when we arrived. So handsome!

Trying to teach Brit that steady is a better pace than fast!

Driving definitely DOES NOT require running. Brit didn't believe me

that's better!

thanks to Cindy for the pictures of Brit working!!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

September Already!!

September has snuck up on me this year! I can hardly believe it. I LOVE fall. It's my favorite season except that it brings my least favorite season one step closer.... in any case today is all about celebrating the cool mornings, the soon-to-be falling leaves, and that crisp feeling that can take your breath away!

These are some of my all time favorite "fall" themed photos. What can be better than the color of fall, and a baby Pixel! Two of my favorite things. :)

Look how cute those stubby little legs are!!! OMG. I wanna smush her little puppy self!

Photos are by Brian Burke of Back in the Pack. He was doing photos at an agility trial and I snagged him for a few candid photos of Pixel. I didn't have my own camera back then so had to rely on friends, and borrowed gear to get photos....

ps. no, her eyes were/are not THAT blue. He got a little carried away in the editing department but I still love them!