Sunday, January 25, 2015

It Was A Good Weekend

I kicked my weekend off with a bang.  Friday night I did my standard three classes of agility basics.  Woot!  Went much better than last week as last week we had a wee bit of a situation.  I may or may not have needed to change my drawers...

You see, during Ryder's "crate" time, a lovely male Pit Bull got the Zoomies and accidentally banged into Ryder's crate, dislodging the pin that holds the door closed.  Ryder being Ryder, came out like his ass was on fire and went after the hapless Pit.  The hapless Pit reacted like he was under attack.  It ended with Ryder running back into his crate.  Thank the good Lord there was no damage to either dog.  Mostly noise was produced.  But very scary for me.  (And I'm sure the other owner.)

This week there was no near deaths.  Put a check in the WIN column.

Up early on Saturday, I hustled out to Drayton Valley.  It was back to basics for the dogs on stock.  I really want to fix some things I noticed during the November trials.  This was the first time both dogs had been on stock in ages.  And by ages I mean since the beginning of November.

It involved Ken speaking firmly with me and me running through the melty, sometimes icy and shifting snow.  Can we say buns of steel?  (Our weather has been freakishly warm this month!  Melting!!)  We began with Diva.  And she worked and I worked.  We worked some more.

I created this little video of her.  Please let me know if you can't view.


I found it humorous. (Ok - so it works on my computer... maybe not yours??)  Note Diva peeing as I walk to Ken and give him shit for still recording.  That girl has got to go the moment she gets any exercise!

Ryder was his soft and sensitive little self.

I just love his expression on the sheep.  Ken commented that he doesn't upset the sheep.  They seem to like him.  He also felt that Ryder showed more confidence on stock than he has in the past.  I'm wondering if the break was good for him.  

Because Ryder is terrified of the horses, Ken rode one of his colts while I worked Ryder.  I was very impressed with how brave Ryder was.  The filly was super cute too!  

To bring the end to my weekend, today I had a jumping lesson.  I think I have a perpetual smile on my face now.  I really, really needed this time with the critters.  Feeds my soul.  

This is Frank.  He's the lesson horse I jump on.  He's old and a character.  Probably one of the only "push" style rides I've ever had.  (Hey - I grew up on Arabs - and mine required very little leg!)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Social Experiment

In my household, Ryder is a ball hog.  We jokingly call it his soother.  He carries a ball around everywhere.  Diva, for the longest time showed little to no interest in playing.  Over the past six months she's started stealing the ball from Ryder.  She proudly carries it off.  Then Ryder chases after her and takes it from her.  

Tired of the sibling bickering over the ball.  I went to PetSmart and bought two, identical balls.


Because I have a sense of humour...

I wondered if each dog had their own ball would they still fight over them?

How did my little social experiment turn out?

Well, it turns out the ball is most desirable when the other dog is in possession of it.  Basically, they don't care that there are two identical balls.  I can even try to play with both.  One dog will drop a ball to play with the other one.  In other words, only one dog and ball is in play at any given time.

It was worth a try...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pictures: Finally!

It's been rather chilly the last few weeks.  Today the farrier came out to trim the horses.  I bundled up and had a great visit with him.  While the horses got their pedicure the dogs ran wild in the yard.  They raced, and raced, and raced.  I thought I'd be smart and bring my phone so I could snap some pics... well... the phone froze.  So no pics of dogs but I did put it in the house to warm up so I could grab some horse pictures.  It was a balmy -18C here this morning.  (About 0 F.)

I love how fuzzy the girls are.  They are snuggly and cuddly.  I would have hopped on Marnie for a ride but I'm not flexible enough to get on bareback in all my winter gear.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ryder: A Story of Contrasts

It's funny.  As a kid I hated puzzles.  Any and all puzzles.  Now, as an adult I can't stand not having all the pieces fit.  Having odds or ends that seem incongruent make me nuts.  I have no qualms researching to the point of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Ryder is a puzzle I haven't been able to put together.  He is, in so many ways, a story of contrasts.

He was the 6th pup out of an expected 4...

Born August 15, 2010

When he was born he was adorable.  While lower on the fight for food spectrum than his brothers he would have been middle of the pack.  As a baby he was higher energy but more reserved than some of his really outgoing siblings.

He drove me nuts running out to the corrals with Diva.  Rattling the wire along the bottom of the gate and barking madly at anything that moved.  It was an epic feat to keep him in the yard for "free play."

I was actually relieved to sell him.  Thinking to myself there goes the toughest pup out of the litter.  At this point in time he wasn't interested in interactive play with a toy and human.

When he came back, I took a deep breathe and prepared to work my arse off training.  What I got was a dog prone to accidents in the house.  A dog who flipped out when I hollered at his mom.  He leapt over the baby gate, ran up the stairs and jumped into my mother's lap.  A dog who lost his everliving marbles if you held a stock stick in your hand near him.  A dog who was supposed to be crate trained but who woke me crying each night.  I eventually caved and let him sleep with me.  He would push his body against mine.  If I moved, he'd shift so he was once again touching me.  For months he would only sleep if he was touching me.

Because he was having accidents from being left at home I looked into Doggy Daycare.  Found a new one and tried it out.  It was a failure in the sense that I think they let him down.  I think they allowed other dogs to beat him up and destroyed his confidence around other canines.

I had quite a few offers from people interested in purchasing him.  I couldn't sell him in good conscience.

I began coaxing him to work.  He struggled with any amounts of pressure.  Progress was slow.  But progress was made.

I put him into agility classes.  This bolstered his confidence and he demonstrated a keen enjoyment of the activities.

Between the sheep work and agility exercises he had plenty to keep his brain working.

Yet things were not always perfect.  In fact, at times they were downright awful.  And this is where I began to gnaw on the puzzle that is this dog.

In the beginning he was horribly reactive to men.  He was good with other dogs but that changed.  I neutered him thinking this would help reduce his reactivity.

Here is the puzzle.

1) Sometimes he is beyond awesome with other dogs.  He used to clean Tessa's bum and ears as she neared the twilight of her life.

Walking in the grazing reserve, Tessa is behind him.

He happily and wonderfully played with the Boston Terrier I was dog sitting.  He did not have a prior relationship with this dog.

Other times, he reacts and freaks out at any and all dogs.  It does not matter the size, breed or sex.  He does tend to do this more than anything at all.  We've been working very, very hard on this and have definitely made progress.  But he is most definitely not "cured".  

2) He is the biggest wimp out there.  He is scared of grocery bags, blankets flapping, noises, thunder, doesn't travel well anymore, and so on, so on.  He is so bad that when Honey fart's, Ryder runs out of the room!  True story!  It leaves me baffled because his mother wasn't like that.  His sister isn't like that.  It has taken forever to get him to accept the 12 year old child that's now part of our lives.  He still doesn't like him and mostly tolerates or avoids him.  This is not good.  He really is a horribly anxious dog.  

In his ThunderShirt.

It's funny, as a pup he showed no interest in playing fetch.  He would watch me play with Tessa until one day he joined in.  Now he is inseparable with the ball.  

He even sleeps with a ball.  We jokingly call it his soother.
Even though he no longer sleeps with me, he will always be my sensitive cuddle buddy.  

If dogs could talk, I wonder what he would say?

My question for him: why are you so good in so many ways and such a challenge in others? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fall Back, Bounce Forward

Fall back.  Bounce forward.  This seems to be the story of my life.  It is most definitely the story of the dogs lives.  One thing I have learned over the years is that you can't change the past.  Make your peace with it and move on.  Quite literally, it is what it is.

One thing I've been pondering is how to improve.  The quality of my life.  The quality of the dogs lives.  The quality of the horses lives.


In 2015:


  • Go to Yoga.  Regularly.  
  • Investigate a course or two to pick up.  Ideas I'm tossing around are Canine Massage Therapy, or even another Masters.  Maybe even a PhD.  Something to stretch my mind.  I've gotten obsessive compulsive with investigating peer reviewed research regarding dog nutrition.  
  • Ride.  Run.  Work Dogs.  Do things I love.  These things make me happy.
  • Make regular trips to different places to work the dogs.  Ken and I talked about Diva and her not listening to me.  He raised a good point.  Tessa had had way more consistent work at his place before her first trial.  I need to get back into that groove.
  • Continue with the agility "cross-training".  It makes the dogs happy and gives me something to do on long dark evenings.  
  • Commit to entering trials and clinics.
  • Continue to ride Marnie.  Refine her skills to turn her into a killer arena horse.  
  • Maybe, just maybe horsey babies?  We shall see.  
  • Whiskey - help her over the rainbow bridge before winter 2015.  On this I won't budge.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Progress? Or Lack Thereof?

It's been a long, busy month.  The weather here has actually been reasonable.  When Dad returned from his vacation from Mexico he dug in heels regarding Whiskey.  He has decided that she should not be put down.  I get his point.  Her eye remains soft and relaxed.  While she is most definitely lame, she is NOT as lame as she was last winter.  Dad has put out round straw bales for her to set up housekeeping at.  He's also created a straw path to the waterer.  This seems to have helped her as she's no longer drinking when he carries a bucket of water out to her so she must be drinking from the auto waterer.  The goal this winter is to keep her off the hard ground on soft footing.  To keep her weight at a healthy level.

I tried and tried to explain to him that she will NOT get better.  That there is permanent damage.  I may end up doing x-rays in the spring just to show him.  I've decided for the time being that we'll continue on - status quo.  Until she seems to not be able to manage we'll leave things be.  In spring I'll reassess her.  Things always seem so much easier in the spring and summer.

One never knows what the future will bring.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I've always believed that love is not enough.  You can love as much as you want but you still need to be reasonable, thoughtful and respectful.  I'm someone who loves animals with a capital L.  They feed my soul and bring serenity and balance to my life.

Today, love is not enough.  I can love Whiskey to the moon and back.  I do love her to the moon and back.  The simple truth is there is not enough love in the world to fix what is wrong with her.  On this cold and blustery day, Sam - the vet came out.  She wanted to rule out an easy fix.  Something like an abscess.  We stood in the cold wind and talked.  I'm not going to lie.  I've been around horses for a long time.  I know, deeply and intrinsically, when something is wrong.  And something is wrong with my beloved mare.  The vet thinks it's likely a broken bone in her foot or a torn suspensory.  We can do x-rays.  We can "de-nerve" her.  We can put on corrective shoeing.  But to what end?  I asked if x-rays would help.  Sam shrugged helplessly.  She said they would just tell us definitively what's wrong, not fix her.  Basically there is no fix.  I trust my vet.  She is skilled, experienced and maintains up to date practice.  She is a life long learner.  I trust my vet with my horses life.  All of the options presented don't change the outcome.  They just change the timeline.

We are looking at quality of life here.  My hope had been that she could manage to be a companion for Marnie.  The reality is that's not going to happen.  We're going to hobble through the next couple of weeks.  Feeding her bute, carrying her water, and leaving her snuggled up to a round straw bale.

I need the time to line up things.  My first choice is to get a back hoe in to dig a hole so Whiskey can rest at the farm.  The back hoe will be significantly more expensive but will bring me peace of mind.  Less desirable but possibly necessary will be to "book" the rendering truck.  Once I have the after care in place, I'll make an appointment to have Sam come put her down.

I love her enough to do the right thing, even though it's the hard thing for us humans.  Some days it sucks being responsible.