Sunday, December 27, 2009

Guide Dog commercial with a Malinois :)

This is pretty good, love the agility of the Mal, the snarl as he's jumping the fence is a little too much though!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Geocaching Update

Bullet at Witch's Cache GC1362K

Bullet is catching on quickly to finding Geocaches with me, he found four out of four today all on his own, both plastic and metal. He's still not 100% sure what he's looking for which is why he's pausing to focus on me, as he becomes more confident those pauses will diminish. We need to work on passive indications, he pawed at all four caches today and I don't want him to disturb them in any way.

Here is a video of the second find of the day with Lexus tagging along. After we've found the cache I'm starting to reward Lexus for looking at/sniffing the box.

Lexus is growing quickly, I keep forgetting that she's only 14 weeks old!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My dear, sweet Enzo.

Described as being out-of-control and crazy, I admit I was nervous meeting you for the first time. The unknown element of a new puppy or dog gets me anxious, even now, but the feeling is intensified when I am "warned" beforehand. A new challenge excites me though and I was looking forward to seeing what you would bring to our home.

Turns out you were nothing but a big, goofy ball of energetic leaping Doodle who was full of self-reinforcing behaviours with no respect for people.

We called you Doodle-dee, doodle-dumb. You were not stubborn, yet you were sensitive. I had to be fair and clear with you, training started from scratch as you learned to work for a reward. Even small corrections caused you to get hyper and stop thinking at first.

We worked hard together for a year and guess what? You did well. You quickly learned boundaries. You learned self control. You learned to focus and think rather than just react. It's amazing how quickly dogs figure out what works and what doesn't work... How quickly they adapt to a new set of rules. You were no different.

When you were recalled for training you continued to do well.

Sooner than expected I heard you were fast-tracked and placed with an Autistic boy. I was very proud, you had come a long way!

After a couple of months you were returned by the family.

Jumping, mouthing and crazy behaviours had returned with a vengeance, behaviours that aren't safe or acceptable around children. Sigh.

"It's amazing how quickly dogs figure out what works and what doesn't work." It's also amazing how quickly 11 months worth of self-reinforcing behaviours come back.


Truthfully, I was upset. Once a dog leaves my house I lose all control. There is absolutely nothing I can do. Being the control freak I am this really bothers me.

I also think we expect a lot out of these working animals. The families they go to may have zero dog experience. Even if they have dog experience are they handling the dog fairly? Are their expectations realistic? Are the children too rough? Ultimately they are still animals, not pieces of equipment.


You were placed back into the training program yet the behaviours continued. They were hoping to find the right match for you but that never happened and you were released. I received the call yesterday about your "Career Change". (Or as I like to phrase it: My big fat failure.)


I can't help but wonder if there was more I could have done with Enzo, but truthfully he was not showing these behaviours with me. I proofed him around children, in different environments, etc, but the fact was I was a constant element in his life. With me brought the boundaries and rules he expected. In class we often trade dogs so they learn to work with others as well, he did well in that situation. Outside of training, in everyday life, these same rules weren't enforced so erosion happened quickly and he took advantage. Dogs ultimately do what is reinforcing to them, for better or for worse.

Then I start to ponder the differences between handling and training. Can you be a better handler than trainer? Can the two be separated or are they one and the same? I don't have an answer to this question yet.


In conclusion... There is a lovely dog looking for a nice pet home.

Anyone interested in a trained two year old Golden/Poodle cross who doesn't shed, has been socialized well and has a great joie de vivre?

Monday, December 07, 2009

"Career Changed" Service Dog Puppies

Over at Ours For a Year I read about a yellow lab named Cabana who was recently Career Changed (CC'd). After you have invested a year or more of your life raising a puppy, taking them everywhere, training them for everything this is a very hard thing to experience. Even when you see it coming and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it, it hurts.

Here is a must-watch video about a service dog puppy that didn't make it:

K9-CRAZY – Geocaching

A friend introduced me to a wonderful activity that I've been wanting to try for a while – Geocaching.

Bullet with a larger Ammo Cache.

In short, you find the coordinates of hidden containers of different sizes and materials at, enter them into your GPS and drive & walk until you reach the spot. That's only half the battle. Once there your job is to find the hidden cache. There are caches worldwide, some are hidden in your very neighborhood and on trails you think you know well!

Find out more at Caches are rated based on the difficulty of the search and the difficulty of the terrain getting there. The hardest cache would be rated a 5/5, like this one in Antarctica (GC18G1Z).

Sounds fun, eh?

It is!

Bullet is my Geocaching buddy, together we are K9-CRAZY. I'm currently teaching him to search and find the cache once we reach the coordinates. He already knows how to footstep track, and I've taught him to search for hidden toys since he was a puppy, so it shouldn't be too difficult to teach him this new nose game.

Here is Bullet searching, although he hasn't quite grasped exactly what he's searching for yet:

I'm encouraging the passive indication that I've taught him for toy searches in my house, no pawing or barking, just an intense stare in the direction of the object:

On our travels we'll get to experience new trails I never knew existed, and it gives us an added element to walks we'd be taking anyways.

Bullet at a pothole created by a Glacier at Hilton Falls Conservation Area.

Bullet climbing his first stile on the Bruce trail.

Happy trails everyone!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Couch potato

Hey Lex, don't you know that to be a good working dog you shouldn't be on the couch? :)

Service dog puppies have very structured lives and strict rules... they are not to be on any furniture, they are not allowed people food, there is not to be any tugging or retrieving games and they are not to jump on people, etc.

Lexus is being raised as a Schutzhund puppy so none of these rules apply! I have to say that this makes it more fun, it's been a while since I've had a puppy I can roughhouse with. I can invite her up on the couch to snuggle. I can share some of my leftover supper. We tug and play ball and I allow her to jump up.

Bullet and Glory weren't sure they liked this new puppy arrangement, but we've been giving them lots of attention too and they are adjusting well.

(I didn't end up naming her in the end and the name "X" just wasn't working for me... certain sentences just came out sounding all wrong, for example "Where's X?" I proposed that we call her Lex or Lexus, and in the future if her name is shortened back to X she will not have a problem with that.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Living life to the eXtreme

Extreme de Bellator, call name "X"
(Arlie de Bellator SchH1, CD, TD X Ben von der Eisspitzen SchH3, KKL 1)

X with Dagger

We pick her up at training on Sunday, I met her last Sunday and she's a cutie!

De Bellator German Shepherd Dogs

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The best game in the world...

Before he was even born my plan for Bullet was Schutzhund. (In short, Schutzhund is a three-phased sport that was originally designed to show the versatility of a working dog and determine its breed worthiness. It includes tracking, obedience and protection.) As a puppy I focused on playing tug games, teaching him to track and obedience. Unfortunately you need a club for this sport unless you have access to your own personal decoy. I didn't. At that point I was still unsure of which club to join but I still prepared.




When Bullet was about a year old I began my search in earnest. Most of the clubs in Ontario were off the table immediately based on their locations and training times. Other clubs never got back to me when I contacted them about visiting on a training day. Some clubs weren't accepting new members as they were at capacity, or they plain just didn't go out of their way to welcome an unknown person.

Then there are clubs that use a very different training style than I do, and they expect all their members to train a certain way. That goes against my very nature and I will not do it. Advice is one thing, but being told you have to do it one way? Willingly handing someone else the power to correct MY dog? No. Never. I like my dog and am not willing to starve, deprive or hurt him for points in a sport. Not to mention that I feel it's entirely possible to train positively and get an impressive, high-scoring performance without resorting to those methods. (I plan on proving that.) Oh, and have I mentioned that I like to do things my way? :)

When I train, my goal is always excellence, but I will not compromise the relationship I have with my dog. Bullet is my friend and companion first of all, we train for the joy of it.

Anyway... I finally found a club I was comfortable with full of people I genuinely liked. Yay! Bullet's obedience helped us make an impression as it showed them I was serious.

We were accepted as members in September 2006 and got our BH in October 2006. Our training progressed and we trialed at a DVG club one year later and got our IPO 1.

Around that time the helper who had done most of Bullet's bitework training was injured and it was unknown if he'd ever be able to decoy again. Bullet's training became inconsistent and it started to show in his performance. At that point, as hard as the decision was, I decided to take a break from the sport.

We were nearly back at square one. The upside was that I now had schutzhund friends and acquaintances. I had some experience. I had titled in the sport.

Enter the creation of FRONTIER Working Dog Club, a new DVG club in Ontario.

As strong individuals we may not always agree on the small details but our core values are the same. We all love our dogs dearly, they are family members first.

Our training methods reflect this.

We start with a clear goal in mind and take our time building the best possible foundation. We listen to our dogs and treat them as the individuals they are. We strive to train as positively as possible, to correct as little as possible, to be fair, kind, honest and creative with our K9 partners.

And so the schutzhund journey Bullet and I are taking together continues. It truly is the best game in the world when you have a dog at your side who loves it as much as you do!


Glory doesn't get as much mention around here as Bully. There is a simple explanation for that... she's not my dog. Glory is Kevin's dog, and Kevin is Glory's human.

I've tried to convince Kevin to DO something with her like agility, schutzhund, obedience... anything really. Alas, the dog sports that interest him are walks around the neighbourhood, a game of frisbee in the park and company when watching TV. To be honest, Glory is fine with that arrangement so all is well in their world.

Here she is, freshly shaved and looking a little bald, sleeping on the couch with Kevin and Aslan. HOW she finds that comfortable is beyond me!

Glory the Giant Schnauzer and Aslan the Abyssinian

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Once again Bullet was "Superdog" for Halloween this year. When you combine my cheapness with the fact I just don't care, you get a recycled costume.

Bullet Halloween Giant Schnauzer

"Hey kid, you got any scooby snacks to share?"

Fall portraits of Bullet

It was time to groom Bullet as he was looking more like a scruffy mutt than a Giant Schnauzer. (When people start commenting on my labradoodle I know something has to be done...)

Bullet – Shaved Giant Schnauzer

Bullet – Shaved Giant Schnauzer

Bullet is a lean, mean, muscular machine. There is not an ounce of fat on this solid 78 pound dog (give or take a pound). It makes me curious to put my hands on the 125 pound and upward Schnauzers that many people brag about. Females are included in that weight range, wow. Unfortunately there are too many people who think bigger is better and want their Giants to be truly Giant.

Bullet and Glory – Giant Schnauzers

Then there is Glory who I like to call our Miniature Giant Schnauzer. The vet weighted her in at a mere 48lbs on her last visit, she's a tiny, yet mighty, Giant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Foxy's graduation

Foxy will be two years old in November, it's hard to believe how fast time flies. My little girl is all grown up! I wish her a good life with her new boy and his family. While the rest of the dogs in her class are hopping on a plane to their new homes in BC, Alberta and Manitoba, Foxy will be moving just down the road to Toronto.

Her graduating class:

Keeping your dog safe at night, the Auroralite safety collar

How about a random product review? This is not a paid advertisement, I'm reviewing this collar because I like it. I'm the type of person who has to try things for myself before I develop an opinion. How to keep your dog safe at night by use of a lit collar was no different.

From cheap little blinking plastic lights that clip on to a dogs collar, to a hunting dog collar and everything in between... I've bought them all. Do a search on any large pet supply store website and you can see your options.

Here is my black beast sitting in a dark ally. Can you see him? :)

Leaps and bounds ahead of the rest is the Auroralites collar, used by SAR, law enforcement as well as people like me as Bullet is demonstrating in the photo above. This isn't the cheapest collar you can buy but I've found it the best:

• It is bright, a vibrant light blue that penetrates the darkness and circles the dogs entire neck (except for a small area on the front where the battery is held). This is a VERY important detail and where all other collars fell short. With other collars, as your dog turns and corners in the dark you often only see them when their light is facing you, and the farther away they get the harder it is to see them. You see this collar from any angle and at a great distance.

• It is water-proofed.

• It is powered by a battery you can buy anywhere.

• It is easy and quick to take on and off the dog.

• Best of all, it's a Canadian company.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Foxy is graduating tomorrow.

When National Service Dogs asked me to take Enzo I still had Foxy. While I was willing to take Enzo I don't have the room or the time for two puppies in training so I asked that they find another foster home for Foxy. As much as I like a puppy I know they aren't mine and I'm able to give them up easily enough because of this. Just don't ask me to give up Bullet. :)

This is what I wrote for her new fosterhome nearly a year ago:

Yellow Lab/Golden X female, born November 2007
Sponsored by the Kingston Civitan Club

Foxy is calm and polite around the house. She’s never been allowed on our furniture so she doesn’t even try. Very rarely if she becomes super overexcited she’ll do a half jump on a person but other than that she’s polite. When people visit our house I have her do a down stay until they have entered. She waits nicely at all doors, including her kennel if you ask her to wait. Never had issues with her stealing food or acting inappropriate at dinner time, she just lies at our feet.

She’s a wonderful loose leash walker.

She has a habit of taking her time eliminating when she’s on leash, she sniffs forever. You can lead a dog to grass but you can’t squeeze the pee out of it unfortunately.

Great with other dogs, all people big and small, cats. She notices cats, squirrels, geese and other dogs on walks but stays self controlled and working.

I’ve had her swimming before which she LOVES, she stays in the water and splashes in circles whining out of pure happiness.

We have kongs scattered everywhere in our house, she loves to carry them. She’s never been destructive except for very recently, we’d put a dog bed on top of her crate to vacuum and forgot to put it back down, she chewed a corner of this through the kennel. It’s probably best to not put blankets in her crate. We’ve left her loose at night in our bedroom and she’s fine with that, for some reason she always ends up sleeping under the bed even though she hardly fits and I’ve had to pull her out!

Her command for the crate is “kennel”. That’s where we feed her, she does a nice stay before she’s released to eat. Actually, her stays are very, very strong, in public, at home, at work she’s consistently good. The one area that I’ve been a little neglectful in is her recalls, she sometimes chooses that she’d rather not come so that could use some finessing.

Her one nasty habit is poo-eating. We don’t allow it and try to keep our yard pretty clean, but she has been known to like it fresh and will nibble as it’s still coming out another dog. Yes, it’s true. Sorry I had to tell you this but I figured you should know. All-in-all there are worse things in life, hopefully she outgrows this soon.

Everybody who meets her loves her, my coworkers are sad to see her go! I’m a little upset and hurt that they don’t love my dog the same way to tell the truth!

Enjoy her, she's grown into a great little dog.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seven Groups

(excluding your own breeds)

Group 1 - Sporting
Group 2 - Hound
Group 3 - Working
Group 4 - Terrier
Group 5 - Toy
Group 6 - Non Sporting
Group 7 - Herding

Group 1 - Sporting
German Wirehaired Pointer (Deutsche Drahthaar). Chances are I'd never get one simply because I'd want to hunt with it and there is only so much time and money in this life.

Group 2 - Hound
Saluki. This is one beautiful breed that I admire from afar but that doesn't fit my lifestyle.

Group 3 - Working
Rottweiler. Love them.

Group 4 - Terrier
Border Terrier. After spending a year working part time (for fun) at the Lion's Foundation Dog Guide kennel I got to know quite a few of these little characters. One downfall was their piercing yips, but that was amplified by numbers and kennel walls. Earplugs were necessary. I'm sure they can't be that bad on their own in a home.

Group 5 - Toy
This one is hard as I'm not a fan of any of the breeds, but if I had to choose one: Miniature Pinscher.

Group 6 - Non Sporting
Another hard group to chose from as nothing stood out, but I've met a few Schipperkes and they seem to be little funny clowns.

Group 7 - Herding
Belgian Malinois. High probability that I'll end up with one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Looking for the perfect "E" name

For a German Shepherd female that I will be raising for a friend. She'll be either black & tan or sable.

Her sire Ben:

Her dam Arlie:

Some names I've been kicking around to propose are...
Envy, Eden, Eesa, √Čtoile, Eevee (Pok√©mon character), Element (Call name Fire?), Eiffel

I like these but they are unfortunately too long for a name in my opinion, I prefer two syllables:
Ekati (Canadian Diamond Mine), Elektra

I'm looking forward to raising a GSD puppy as it's a breed I like but can't see myself getting. We should be getting her in the middle of November.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Love, Guilt & Putting Dogs Down.

Patricia McConnell writes an excellent post on a hard topic, it's worth a visit to her blog:

Love, Guilt & Putting Dogs Down.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy ending

Rufus found a home and left us at exactly 6 months old. Here's to him living a long and healthy life.

When he left his National Service Dog vest barely fit around his neck and had long been too small to fit around his rapidly growing chest.

Maybe it's just me, but I like to collect all puppy teeth found, although what ends up happening to them is a mystery. I now have three molars and one canine tooth sitting in a pile on my desk that I forgot to provide for Rufus' new family. They'll more than likely end up in a small box to be found years later, bringing with them nostalgic memories of puppies gone by.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Horrors of SLO – Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy

Black Schutzhund Shepherd is currently learning about SLO the hard way with one of her Shepherds. This disease also affects Giant Schnauzers which is why I'm posting about it here.

Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO) is a disease affecting the nails on a dog's paws, which causes complete loss of the nails (Onychomadesis)... read the whole post complete with pictures on her blog:

Horrors of SLO – Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Soon after I got Rufus I noticed his belly felt odd. There was a mass in there that wasn't quite right. He wasn't just a pot-bellied puppy, it felt like something more. He had diarrhea all the time so I was hoping it was just a bad case of worms and with some meds he'd be ok.

Turns out he had giardia, but the mass was not related to that. Two vets felt his abdomen and both agreed that they needed to do some tests.

They started with x-rays. These were then sent to a specialist for further diagnosis. An ultrasound was done next to help nail down exactly what was wrong with him.

Here is his belly after that experience:

Turned out Rufus had hydronephrosis – a blockage had damaged his kidney. That is what we could feel. It had to be removed.

On August the 10th he had the damaged kidney removed. His body had already been relying on his other kidney.

Here is his incision when we picked him up a day after his surgery:

His incision a week later, it still looks pretty, um, nasty:

He's been really good about his forced rest, but I'm sure he'll be very thankful when he can run around and play again. I know I will be!

"Are you done taking pictures of my belly yet?!"

Rufus will now be placed in a pet home where he'll hopefully have a long and healthy life.

Summer '09 in Ontario

It's been a wet one! We managed to get out camping for a few days, and while it wasn't warm, at least it didn't rain!

Bullet helping Kevin drive on one of the rare occasions we don't have the dogs in their crates:

We basked in the intermittent sunlight:

We played ball:

And when I forgot the ball a piece of driftwood did just fine!

The race is on...

Why go around when you can go over?

I'm very thankful to live in an area where I can let my dogs swim without the danger of sharks or alligators. The most I worry about is a snapping turtle.

Rockpoint provincial park has the best dog beach of any of the provincial parks we've visited so far. The footing was full of crushed shells but there wasn't the danger of a broken leg as there is at McGregor Point Provincial Park, Killbear Provincial Park or Sibbald Point Provincial Park.

Here is the dog beach at McGregor Point to compare: