Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Farm Dogs

 the real farm dogs are Togo (above) and Alaska (upside down). They are guardian dogs, and protect the sheep from predators. Although fierce with coyotes, and dogs they don't know- they are GREAT with people and are very affectionate and friendly. They enjoyed my visit today a lot- even more than normal because I brought them bones...
 the pretend farm dogs are mine. ;)

Leo was a very good boy today- he starts really fast and a little crazy, but settles down after a few minutes. Today we worked on pace and the start of our outruns. Jenny's voice was in my head the whole time- a good attitude to start means the rest will be good too.

Brit was very good- her outruns are looking better and better. I tried to stretch it just a bit too far today though, and she sucked back in. There is much to work on! But I was really happy with her today- she worked hard and tried, which is all I can ask!

One more of the very handsome Leo. To get these photos I had the dogs (one at a time!) hold the sheep to the fence. I shot on a wide angle and blindly- but I got some interesting photos! The light was really nice today for photos- overcast is perfect. 

the real imposters are the shorties, and Boone. lol. They are very bad farm dogs- Vito rolled in something dead and had to be hosed off. Pixel ate enough sheep shit that I'm sure she will be throwing up tonite. And Boone ran around chasing cats and such. Wicca was mad because she was confined to the small yard. But I didn't want her to aggravate that shoulder anymore.

And yes- it is the end of April and we still have snow. It's weird. Even for us. lol. Hopefully Spring is really on the way this time. I'm about done with winter....

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Brit, originally uploaded by manymuddypaws.

The weekend Rally workshop was great. Lots of really keen people wanting to learn about rally- and really interesting breeds which was cool! An Irish Setter, Airedale, Toy Fox Terrier, and a Bulldog! (to name a few). All were really great working dogs. It was neat to see such a big difference even from day one to day two. The bulldog was super awesome. Enthusiastic and super smart.

Pixel and Brit were very good demo dogs. Everyone thought Pixel was adorable. So she soaked up the love. Leo got to come and socialise and was very good and had good manners which was nice. He likes to jump up on people now so we are working on that part of the greeting.

Wicca had a rough appointment today and was still sore when I picked her up tonite. :(
Her lower neck, right shoulder and surrounding areas were all very sore. She is on a few days of metacam, and rest. We will see how she is in a few days and go from there. I may need to take her in again. It's like never ending really. It makes me sad to see her uncomfortable. :(

The Boys were happy to see me, but reportedly had fun with my dad. They seemed happy and relaxed so that makes me happy.

This photo doesn't really go with any of my updates, except that it is the very first actual standing photo I've ever gotten of her. Jolene was playing with her at the park this morning and she happened to be standing in anticipation of the toy. She has changed to much- even this past year. Filled out more- muscle in places where she had none before. She's always been a pretty girl, but now she looks less like a noodle, and more like a dog. ;)

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Farm, and other things...

 It's been two weeks since I worked my dogs on sheep. It has been crazy busy, and there just hasn't been time. But that's about to change! Once again I am lucky enough to farm sit while Scott and Jenny are away. Today was the first time out since they left. The plan is to go out twice a week. Some weeks that will be easy, others not so much. But my friend Jen is going to help me out so between the two of us we should be just fine.

The first thing I noticed today is that my dog (Brit) has certainly grown up this winter- we had help (thanks Mack and Scamp!) with our chores today, but I am confident that we could manage just fine with little fuss. Leo is slowly starting to get it. I kept a cool head and didn't get frustrated with him. It was a good session. I think he will be very handy this summer- he has no problems with confidence. lol. I'll slowly start to let him do some of the farm work- once I can trust that he will call off, and stop when I ask...

 I could totally live on a farm by the way.
The solitude, the peace, the sights and smells.
The Sheep.
Totally up my alley.

In other news I am teaching a Beginner Rally Obedience seminar this weekend. I've never taught a Rally seminar before so it should be interesting! I love teaching. Obedience is one of my most favorite things, and Rally is just an extension of that. The group I'm working with is very keen, so it should make for a fun weekend!

yes, that is my bathtub. I'm not sure why either...

And in even more news Wicca is seeing the vet Sunday. She has been a little off for the past few weeks- once yelping when I picked her up to put her in the car, and another time when she was jumping around on the couch. And then just this week she was VERY off one morning- enough that I gave her a half dose of metacam so she wasn't uncomfortable in her crate all day.  :(

I'm very worried about her- but I'm confident Dr.Devall will fix her up this weekend. I owe Jenilee big time! A trip to Marble Slab might be in order next week...

Monday, April 22, 2013

The hazards of friendship

One of the hazards of a close friendship is that you spend so much time with someone elses dogs that you love them. Almost as much as your own. That in itself is not the hazard. The problem lies in the heartache.

A great dog died today. A dog who lived and loved with every ounce of his heart. A dog who had enthusiasm in spades. A never give up attitude. And most of all a dog that you couldn't help to love.

I've been trying to come to terms with his death all day. It was not unexpected. But was sooner than they had thought. I am glad that he is not suffering. And he has probably stolen all the dog toys wherever he is now so we know that he is happy.

Death and grief are strange things. Each person deals with them differently. Kaleb is not the first dog that I've loved that has died- and yet the grief pulls at my heart so hard that it hurts.

I remember the day I met him. An itty bitty baby. They brought him to my work so I could see him. I remember the daily walks. The training. I used I help lay articles and tracks when he was training for search. He was always SO proud of his found treasures. And would do Anything to earn his kong.

I remember when the switch from search to sports happened. When we had to tie our training bags to posts and zipper them shut so he wouldn't steal toys and or the whole bag. I remember trying to catch the bugger when he'd run off with something valuable. What a brat he was. He once launched at me on a walk from five feet away. Almost knocked me on my ass. I was too shocked to do anything about it. Lol. He was totally oblivious.

For all the hard work and sweat and tears that Sarah put into the dog you'd have thought he would be the best behaved of them all. Not so much. He marched to the beat of his own drum and even as a senior did things on his own terms. Because he was such a hard dog to train I was so incredibly proud of them whenever they did something great. A new title. A clean run. A solid recall. No success was too small because man was he a tough nut as a young dog...

You can learn a lot from a dog like K. Passion, determination, confidence and friendship to name a few. Kaleb did everything with gusto. Nothing was too big or too scary. He never met a stranger he didn't immediately love. Valuable lessons I'd say.

Kaleb leaves behind a large fan club. Everyone knew him. Most loved him. How could you not love a dog with a perma-grin on his face. For all his obnoxiousness he was truly wonderful.

I will miss him so much. Even the things that were annoying- like his slobber, heavy breathing, morning grumpy-old-man, the ever wagging tail (against your shins!), oh the barking too and so much more. What a dog he was!!! It's the last of an era- almost. Wicca is the only of "the originals" left.

Sometimes Life has a way of smacking you in the head. This morning I wrote the final piece to a newsletter and in it I wrote that I am going to try harder to live in the moment- in the now and not the tomorrow. Stop looking ahead to the next "thing" and really focus on what is in front of you. It was a day late. Shoulda' Coulda' Woulda' I suppose. But I really regret not making that last visit happen. I am so sad that I didn't get to tell him what a good boy he was. One last kiss. The sadness is overwhelming. And he wasn't even my dog.

I don't even know what else to say really. How can you sum up 11 years of awesome in one blog post.

Ugh. Dogs. Why do we love them so? Why is it so unfair? That a creature with a soul and heart purer than our own have such a shorter life.

Rest in Peace K. You will be so missed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Not over my head!

I audited a herding clinic this weekend on Handling for trials. I got to see Scott do his thing, and even though I am a long ways away from a field trial I understood everything he was saying!

I was a bit worried that it would be over my head- not only skill wise, but learning wise. And although my dog(s) can't do even a part of what we talked about- I think it will stick with me, and I'll be able to draw on the knowledge later on.

The clinic itself was great- the hosts did a fabulous job. The food was yummy, and it was a small group of happy people so the atmosphere stayed pretty low key. The weather was crap. Cold and Windy Saturday, and Sunday was better even though it snowed. At least the sun came out to warm us up!

My dogs were very bored. I did my best to run the crap out of them in the morning, and walk them at lunch. I also brought Kongs for both days to entertain them in the vehicle. They weren't miserable by any stretch, but they weren't happy about being cooped up either.

The had lots of opportunity in the morning and the evening to run because we stayed at a friends place in Okotoks. J & D offered to let us crash at their place- and it was so nice to catch up. They are agility people so I haven't really seen them for a LONG LONG time. It was awesome to chat and just hang out. I've missed them.

I came home early today so I'd have time to recharge for the week. Instead I've been puttering around the yard, cleaned the house (somewhat), and trained the dogs. Now I'm really tired. ;)

Leo was not happy to just have to watch. He was very well behaved though!

Friday, April 19, 2013


So grumpy. Ridiculously so.

Annoyed. Irritable. Short tempered. I should probably come with a warning.

All I want to do is stay home. And mope. Which is not like me at all. I usually hate being home doing nothing. I like action and being busy and having things to do.

Such is life I suppose. But here's hoping some fresh air, friends and fun will make me feel better!

The dogs and I are off to Okotoks this weekend to audit a Herding Clinic. I've been looking forward to it. We are not advanced enough to participate but there will be lots to learn! The weather is supposed to be rainy with a side of snow so that's crappy but Im going to buy a bottle of Baileys for my coffee.

That'll make me less grumpy for sure!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Edge of the Ice Berg

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a seminar with Suzanne Clothier. It was fantastic. So, so good. I always go to seminars with the thought of leaving with at least one good thing- this seminar was packed full of awesomeness.

This particular seminar was supposed to be about Observation Skills, Arousal and Brakes. It was really about much more than that. It was about behaviour, and understanding, and taking the time to ask why, and how the dog feels about things. It was about teaching, and learning from our dogs. And being kind, and patient. And even though I already have good observation skills (I do work at a daycare, and a multidog household. lol)- I learned stuff!

Suzanne is a great trainer, she is fabulous with dogs and genuinely loves them all. She speaks very well, and kept the whole room engaged the whole time. And seriously funny. Like laugh out loud funny.

Fantastic. Truly

What I loved about her whole methodology and reasoning is the simplicity of it. Her main thing is asking the dog "How is this for You?" As in- are you comfortable, are you stressed, are you happy, are you and can you actually learn in this moment/time/place. Showing us how she works the dog through the stress/arousal etc to get them to a learning space. By thinking about the dog and where their head is at really is just so simple. But so smart. I mean, we (well at least I) often recognize if the dog is not able to focus etc, but to look a little deeper than that and to catch it from the very beginning. It is just so much about giving the dog that extra understandng.

One of the things she talked about is how SOME Dog Trainers are like the Captain of the Titanic. In that they head straight for the iceberg (i.e issue) instead of looking for the edge, feeling it out. How close can you get? And still keep the dog in a learning zone? I have been all about that for a very long time. Since the days of Kate. Small steps towards your goal. But to have it explained like that really hit home. It was one of my most favorite quotes from the weekend. Instead of attacking things head on, take the time to really figure it out. There is nothing wrong with skirting around the edges until  you know exactly how big that IceBerg is...

Some of my other favorite quotes and thoughts from the weekend:

Your dog is telling the truth. -Believe them. Believe their fear, their arousal, etc.

You Cannot Respond to what you don't see. - Simple, I know! But really think about that. If you aren't looking, or paying attention, or you miss that little ear flick or head turn. It's too late. This really hit home for me with Leo right now. Who is this giant puzzle I am trying to put together. lol

Identify the Moment of Decision. -Know your dog, read your dog in order to know the moment they make a decision regarding the trigger. The "sticky-ness" is usually the first to start. Once you've identified that you now have time to work with the dog through the issue.

There were many, many more ideas and thoughts that will stick with me- and help me to be a better dog trainer. Lots of reminders about why I train the way I do, and some validation. Which was much needed at this time of my life. I already have been doing so much of what she talked about, and my theories are very similar to hers. It made me feel good. lol.

I would go to another seminar of hers again- I'd really love to do the Fearful/Reactive dog one. But unfortunately I missed that one last November. :( I think that she has so much to offer dog training in general that I would highly, highly reccomend her.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fleece in the City

Fleece looks all adorable and innocent doesn't she...
It's the Border Collie Smear...
Kisses on the fly
Sucking up to Leo
Fleece (aka Spaz) on the move...
Fleece stayed for a few days and was the perfect little guest. Happy, and sweet and oh so cuddly. And did I mention cute? I loved having her here. The dogs however were not fans of her sweetness. lol. The Border Collies were very tolerant- much more than the Corgis were that's for sure!

Fleece went home today, and we are puppy-less until next week when little Joe will come home to meet some people and see the sights. I take the pups as a favor to a friend- living in the country they don't see much, and their mom is known for her less than ideal temperament. lol. So the more socialising the better! Fleece had a great time in the city, and is looking to be a very stable, well rounded kind of gal. ;)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Princess Pixel Fluffy Butt

She has the best tail.
And yes, she is a little crazy.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Take nothing for granted.

Can you ever love a dog too much?
Because I really love this dog.
Like completely, and utterly.
I will be crushed without her.
She has longevity in her genes though, so fingers crossed I've got a good long time with her. 
Regardless, every night I tell her how wonderful she is.
And hold her close (even if she doesn't want to).
I want to appreciate, and remember everything about her.
It's sucks that they age so quickly.
It doesn't seem fair really. 
So, Take nothing for granted.
And Enjoy every moment.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Final Arena Trial

Today was the last in the Stockdog Arena trial series. I am sad. But have lots of training to do so I am sure I'll be busy. ;)

The arena trials have been a great learning tool- what better way to find out what your dogs weakness, and strengths are. I learned alot over the past few months!

Brit is a very good dog.  A great dog to learn this sport on. She is honest, and tries hard. I am lucky.

We had two good runs today- even with some added in new challenges- like DRIVING! Ugh. We are not very good at it. But we got 'er done today! The problem was at the Pen! Which is a new thing. She stalled and would not walk into them. And so we went around and around until the stand off, and then our time was up. The second run I managed to get them in with three seconds to spare. lol. Regardless of outcome I am pretty proud of us!

I need to thank my instructors for all their patience, and support. Brit is a softy, so I appreciate all the extra help they've had to give. Louanne and Jenny, you rock! Oh, and Scott too. ;) He helped to bring back Brit's courage.

Anyway, I am looking forward to working hard this summer on improving our skills. Next year I hope there is an intermediate class for her. ;) And who knows, we may enter our first Field trial this summer.... depending on how things go. We have much to learn. ;)

No video of our runs today, instead enjoy this beauty. Albertans sure know how to have fun! I didn't participate in the dancing, but I did video, and put it all together. I am a little sick of the song now, but holy crap is it funny.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Water is Chilly...

I took some of the dogs down to the river today for their first little dip. It was still pretty cold and at first even Wicca was reluctant! But once she paddled around a bit she decided it wasn't too bad!

I took just Brit, Leo, Boone and Wicca. Pixel just had a bath (thanks Jo!) yesterday, and Vito was naughty so I made him stay home too. lol.

Boone had a great time chasing the waves after a boat went by!

Wicca had fun with her sticks

The Border Collies swam only when they were chasing things...

And by things I mean Belgians! I happened upon a friend and her two Belgians just as I was about to leave. So we stayed a bit longer. I've really got to get Brit fetching out of the water better! Kona put my dogs to shame. lol

Although they had fun today I think I am going to hold off a bit longer until it is warmer. Wicca was pretty stiff when she got home and I wonder if it is from the cold water. She didn't do too much swimming really.