Thursday, September 30, 2010

Glory and her muddy ball

Making that tough decision.

Letting go can be hard, but it's for the best. I think it's time.

Goodbye Chuckit Boomerang, you were well loved.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things

The Springer Bike Attachment.

One of man's greatest inventions! If you have a dog you'd like to bike with, this is a valuable tool. Biking is a great way to condition a dog and most dogs love it!

The Springer keeps the dog in a safe position centered beside the bike and it doesn't let them get too close to the frame or wheels. It absorbs the shock of any jerks and you aren't thrown off balance. Coda, the 80lb Giant Schnauzer pictured above, would occasionally decide to take off after a squirrel or rabbit that bolted across our path and I was in no danger of falling. All of my dogs have liked to lean into the run, the Springer allows them to do just that without fear of pulling me over. The springer arm is easily taken off for when you are going for a ride without your dog.

When you hold a leash in your hand a small pull can upset your balance and cause you to swerve and/or fall. It's more dangerous for you and the dog, no matter how skilled a rider you are, or how obedient your dog is. The Springer is amazing! I've noticed that now sells them online.

Remember to ride safely - you must read your dog, give them rest breaks, offer water and don't forget to inspect their paws after every ride. Pavement is tough on their joints and feet, groomed trails are always best if available.

My Australian Shop coat.

It's not feminine. It's large on me. It makes me look like a cowboy without a horse, or a character from City Slickers. But when I have to choose between fashion and practicality, I choose practicality. That coat has kept my torso dry in torrential rainstorms, it's perfect for training outdoors. The pockets are huge with plenty of room for treats, toys and tracking articles. The fashion police haven't come to get me yet though and it was worth every penny.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

$65,000 for a dog???

Canine Protection International sells trained dogs for up to $65,000. No, I did not add an extra zero to that price.

In my opinion, NO dog is worth that much money, but if you are willing to spend that much I'll gladly train your next dog ;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

My littlest Hobo

The Littlest Hobo was an old Canadian TV series about a German Shepherd who wandered from place to place helping people and making friends before continuing on his journey. Here is part of the theme song by Terry Bush:

There's a voice that keeps on calling me,
Down the road, that's where I'll always be.
Every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can't stay for long, just turn around and I'm gone again.

Maybe tomorrow, I'll want to settle down,
Until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on.

Down this road that never seems to end,
Where new adventure lies just around the bend.
So if you want to join me for a while,
Just grab your hat, come travel light, that's hobo style.

There's a world that's waiting to unfold,
A brand new tale no-one has ever told.
Maybe tomorrow, I'll find what I call home,

Until tomorrow, you know I'm free to roam.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Heel boy!

It's hard not to smile when you have this face staring up at you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Get out!

When I placed Bully on a dock this afternoon, one of the resident Swans immediately swam over and started hissing at him - its warning to "GET OUT OF MY TERRITORY!" was very clear. I took the picture and called Bullet away, not wanting the swan or Bullet to get hurt.

Bullet and I enjoyed the wonderfully windy fall day.

It's all good... unless he farts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stacking a GSD

Curious as to how she would look, I thought I'd try stacking Lexus in the GSD pose. I've never asked her to stand like this, and I was doing this with no help from anyone, not to mention I have no previous experience stacking a Shepherd.

She did amazingly well at standing with pretty good attitude. Sticks, rocks and even my lens cap were used to try and get her head looking forward rather than towards me. Her front leg would curl, waiting for my "OK!" release.

While the background was nice, the camera, lighting and stacking weren't very good in our first attempt. Once I placed her feet into position I ran back and snapped as quickly as possible, not sure how long she'd stay. Her front back leg is very odd, and her back leg looks too extended. She was AWESOME at holding her stay though, very good girl!

Second attempt seems better, less awkward overall but her back leg is too far back I think? When I got home from work I got my better camera and ran her down to the river. Wish the shadows weren't so strong and I had a clean place to stand her, but it was a great training exercise for both of us.

Less extended, with that front foot up in anticipation of the release to her toy:

While her name is Extreme, I'm glad that she isn't extreme structurally, although if she had been she wouldn't have been chosen to become one of mine!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy birthday - Lex's first.

Already. Where does time go? You aren't so little anymore, but you are still my Shepherd puppy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Busker Fair

Lex won't have any problems passing the traffic portion of her BH, she's seen everything. Here she is, enjoying the Busker Fair.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another diamond knocked out and lost.

My first wedding band was designed to fit like a puzzle next to my engagement ring. Living my life with a diamond sticking up on my hand wasn't really me. It caused damage by simply living on my finger. Since I couldn't just take off the engagement ring I needed another wedding band.

Enter a simple band with a row of diamonds nestled in. Perfect! Nothing protruding. Nothing that could take out an eye or smash a hole in a wall.

Even this ring hasn't been safe although the damage has been isolated to the ring itself. A few years ago I knocked out a diamond and yesterday I did it again. (I blame the dogs!) The poor ring looks like a child who has lost their first front tooth.

It may be time for something even more simplistic.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lexington Gray

Noodler's Lexington Gray is my favorite fountain pen ink. It's like a liquid pencil, with a smooth flow that's not to wet with lovely shading. One of these days I'm planing to draw Lexus using it, but for now I've just used real pencil.

This explains why I call her Lexington or Lexington Gray.

AKA Girly

When I visit my brother I usually bring Glory along for the trip. She loves the kids and will play fetch for as long as they are willing to throw a toy. Brayden couldn't pronounce Glory properly so it morphed into Girly and it stuck.

No water. Toy.

Good Girly!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


The dreaded stay. It's my least favorite thing to teach, especially once you add distance and time. BORING!

As a result I don't work stays as much as I should. And what do you know... NONE of my dogs have stays as strong as they should/could be. Which makes me not want to work them even more. Isn't it funny how things don't get better if you don't work on them?

This is an evil circle I vow to break.

No more losing 10 points at a trial for a broken stay... or in the CKC world, failing immediately.

For the SchH3 long down I stand behind a blind, out of sight. Bullet is not ready for that yet. In CKC, the stays in open are out of sight. The time to work on this with Lexus is now.

My goal - rock solid stays.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Firsts - are you ready to trial?

This morning I found my first caching FTF*, yay!

This got me thinking about other firsts, namely the first time I stepped into an obedience ring.

It was an outdoor sanction match in the middle of nowhere, Ontario, and I had Coda by my side. We had done well in obedience classes but had never proofed our routine anywhere else. Were we ready to trial? I wasn't sure but was about to find out.

The weather was not cooperating and the rain turned from bad to worse as my minutes in the ring ticked closer. I knew nobody there, I was totally unprepared in the clothing department and I had no idea how to ready my dog before entering the ring. No matter, sometimes you have to swallow your fears (along with some of the rainwater pouring down your face) and just dive in, right? Learn as you go!

Coda was pumped and distracted but we managed to make it through the heeling portion of the novice routine unscathed.

When it came to the stays all the dogs were wired. A few of the dogs broke their sits and ran around until collected, Coda held his position but just barely.

At this point I wanted to excuse myself and leave. But I don't think you can, and besides, we were almost done. Just one down stay and I could leave... Three more minutes.

What could happen in three minutes?

We downed and left our dogs and I proceeded to watch in horror as the dogs broke like a line of domino tiles, joining each other in a spontaneous free-for-all play session. When I saw the chaos erupting before my eyes I wanted to bolt for Coda and reward his stay but was unsure of the protocol in a sanctioned match (or a real trial for that matter). Coda finally couldn't take it any longer. The last dog to break, he lept out of his down and bounded over the ring enclosure. Barking the whole way he took a running tour of the field with other dogs following close behind. (This all happened in a split second.)

It was mortifying.

After I had called Coda back to me and had him safely leashed by my side I apologized to the judge. I never wanted this to happen again.

Were we ready to trial? Yes, we probably were under normal circumstances. What this experience taught me was to prepare for the unexpected, the abnormal circumstances, and to train for as many situations as possible. Because the unexpected WILL happen and your training will be put to the test.

Truthfully I despise trialing. When I pay good money, drive long distances and spend an entire day or two in an anxious state of mind I want results. My aim isn't perfection, or to beat anyone or qualify for nationals. My goal is to quantify my training, to do the best I can do with the dog at my side. There is also pride involved. Good enough doesn't cut it. Praying and hoping I pass is not the standard I want to keep.

Coda and I entered the obedience ring one more time after that - my first real trial. It was at a Giant Schnauzer Specialty and I can't believe I worked up the nerve to enter, but I did. I can't remember our score but it was good enough to win high in class - my first blue ribbon. We were also the highest scoring Giant Schnauzer that day winning us a bottle of shampoo! Considering we were the ONLY Giant Schnauzer doing obedience it was nothing to be proud of, but I gladly accepted the prize. :)

*When a new cache is published the "first to find" it gets to declare FTF. Depending on the size of the cache, some cache owners will have a special FTF prize, but other than that it's just a fun part of the caching experience.