Friday, December 31, 2010

Websites

While I sit here and wait for my farrier to show up, I thought I'd take the time to share some of my favorite websites. Some of these I use or watch for animal stuff, and some I use for work.

And my personal crack... Kijiji

The rest I've used for work, or come across while doing work related tech stuff.
http://befuddlr.com/ Befuddlr is a picture type site.
Animoto - another picture type site.
Xtranormal - kinda a movie making type site.
Glogster - like Blogger only different. :) For work there's an eduction version.
Wordle - creates art like word clouds.

As a teacher in a tech oriented world, I use many other sites to stay on top the latest and greatest. These are just some of the ones I thought might be fun for the "normal" world.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Irony

Yesterday, Reba and I made the trek down to Calgary. My dearest friend lives there, and I'm blessed that she's the host-est with the most-est. Reba had an appointment with a specialist and I was getting some visiting in beforehand. I had had my vet look into finding me someone to do an eye exam on Reba after her DNA results. She referred me to C.A.R.E Centre. Once there Reba received her eye exam. We were looking for CEA/CH. I needed to know for my own peace of mind just how Affected she was.

Butterflies in my stomach, I patiently waited while the tests were done. And then the vet looked me in the eye and said, "Her eyes are normal." Say what???? Blinking, I looked at him confused, and pointed to the copy of the DNA test. So now I have a nice certificate saying my dog is Affected, and I have another one saying my dog is Normal. Just a bit confusing. He basically said that there are all kinds of variations and while my dog may have the DNA profile she clinically does not have the disease. The results will have no affect on her ability to see and work. And I should feel free to breed her if she has merit. (This one I didn't even ask to know.) Good to know. He did say because of the DNA results to make informed decisions around the breeding aspect (ie. breed Normal). He said a bunch of other things that made me go, "Hunh, really?? Who knew!" that I won't get into because I don't want to create a firestorm. It was a great learning experience for me.

I have to say that was the best and most worthwhile vet bill I've ever paid. Peace of mind - priceless!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Soft

Soft is normally a good thing, right? I've rode many horses that are "soft". Meaning, they are responsive to the aids. As a general rule I like soft. I like animals that look to me and respond to my subtle cue. I am for the most part a quiet, soft person myself. I'm good a reading people's body language and sensitive to those non-verbal cues. Likewise, I'm normally very good at picking up animal language cues. (I don't always like what they're telling me but I sure can recognize them.)

Today, I specifically went to Ken's to work Reba on the drive. (For the non-herders out there - a drive is where the dog moves the sheep away from the handler.) Deep in my heart, I knew I was messing up somehow. I just couldn't figure out how to surpass the plateau or standoff we had found ourselves on. With Ken's eyes, we worked on our sticky problem. The biggest problem is the Reba seems to be lacking some confidence and glues herself to my leg on the drive. Which for us is odd, because she's normally quite self-assured on stock. She's been a very natural little dog when working - until this. Because she's such a willing and obedient soul she was sticking by me. Imagine the dog - human conversation...

"Well, yes dog, I do want you to stay by me and not help yourself to the stock. But now, I also want you to walk away from me and move the stock away while I stay back here.

But, your tone of voice is getting strong mom, I'm not sure what you mean. Why do you keep calling my name? Don't you want me to circle the sheep? Oooh, you're tense. So I'm going to freeze right here and not move a muscle. That way I won't make a mistake. Uh oh, you're walking towards me. Do you want me to bring the sheep to you? Apparently not, since you're calling my name again. But I was just by you and you didn't want that. I'm so confused."

Poor dog. I figured out (with help) some things that I'm doing that are causing problems. Ken's sheep are also lighter than mine which helps, and she was chugging onto them like nobody's business which was sooooo nice.

My training goals are to keep a gentle, relaxed posture complimented by a quiet, relaxed tone. My biggest problem is I can be strident and can project. I rarely yell, but I can push my voice out of my tummy and really move it, especially when I'm excited. To not nit-pick on getting things perfect, especially when they confuse her. Things l normally would expect of her, such as staying by my side when we're heading out to the stock. Now, I'm going to relax and let her get ahead of me. To focus on what I'm asking her and to make sure I'm not inadvertently applying pressure that counters what I want. I also need to stay FOCUSED, so my timing doesn't get bunged up!

My biggest problem with this dog is that she's soft and responsive. She desperately wants to do the right thing and is sensitive to any negative pressure. Which will be positive down the road but is testing me right now because it magnifies any of my mistakes. But I can do it. Failure is not an option.

Heh, and I wanted a soft dog...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking Forward

It's the time of year that always brings reflection. Of the past, and dreams of the future. It's also a somewhat strange time of year for me. My "new" year begins in September. January has never really been a time of changes - mostly because I'm under contract and can't make major changes until the summer. This year I've decided to try something new.

I've decided that I'm going to start a gratitude journal. It's incredibly easy to get caught up in the day to day, and I want to have something to look back upon next December. Something positive. Something that will hopefully make me smile.

This week also starts my "Get Fit Action Plan". I like starting projects when I'm on holidays because I have more time to get things done. As part of my Get Fit plan I'll be keeping a food journal. Partly to help track what I eat, but mostly because I need to get a handle on what I can and cannot eat (for medical reasons - I know about all the delicious stuff I'm not supposed to eat). This way I can make good meal plans.

And as the last week of holidays I'm trying to squeeze everything in. My week at this point involves a puppy play date (today), a trip to Drayton Valley to work Reba (Tuesday), an appointment at the bank (Wednesday), a trip to a specialist in Calgary (Wednesday & Thursday), farrier (Friday). Somewhere in there I also need to fit in a vet appointment for Roxy to get her teeth done. As well, I want to finish working on my website - which has been on the back burner, and I need to get school work done. I also need to make a trip to town and do some errands I've been putting off because I didn't want to deal with the crowds and traffic. That'll probably happen Wednesday morning before I go to the bank. I also want to get the two pups out to the dog park. Luke I think'll be okay. But Diva acted like the sky was falling - in full panic, freak out mode - when I tried to get her to play with my brother's Wire Hair Pointer. Not good...

I also had a wicked brilliant idea yesterday. This time of year is hard to work dogs because of the deep snow. I've been working in a cramped corral which is not ideal. My older brother owns a skidoo or sled as they're known around here. I'm trying to coerce him into coming out and packing down the snow in my small field. With the snow packed down I'd have more space to work my dog! Brilliant isn't it? Now, if I can only get him to fall in with my plans...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Greetings

We shall find
peace.
We shall hear
angels.
We shall see the
sky
Sparkling with
diamonds!
(Chekhov)

May joy, love, and peace fill your homes.
May you and those you love be safe.
My most sincere wishes of a joyful holiday
season for all.
(Andrea)

Christmas Kitchen Time

I love to bake. To prepare for Christmas I've been spending a fair amount of time at my kitchen counter. And for those who also enjoy kitchen time, I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes. Or at least some I've been working on the last few days.

I made about 12 dozen perogies. Mostly for my enjoyment - these won't hit the Christmas table tomorrow.

Perogy (Varenyky)
Dough:
3 cups flour
5 oz (about 3/4 cup) sour cream (the high fat kind)
4 tbsp butter
1 egg

Put flour in large bowl. Fold in sour cream and softened butter. Mix until even flakes. Whisk or blend in egg in measuring cup. Add enough water to reach 3/4 cup. Fold water mixture into dough. You may need to add more water or flour depending on consistency. Shape dough into a ball. Let rest for about 5-10 minutes. Roll out until fairly thin. Use glass or biscuit cutter to make dough rounds. Don't be afraid to manipulate or stretch dough. If it breaks open - just make it thicker. Fill with stuffing of your choice and pinch ends together. You may need to rub some water along edges if it's too dry to stick.

Filling:
Simple really - put what you want and season to your taste. If making a potato blend filling boil around 3-4 potatoes, let cool and add your cheese/mix/seasoning. Many people add dill (which I hate so don't). I generally make potato and cheddar cheese, as well as cottage cheese. When making cottage cheese use the dry curd type.

Freeze on cookie sheets and transfer into bags.

Recipe originally from www.allthingsukrainian.com.


Dinner Buns
Love, love making bread. This is an old recipe from neighbors of my now deceased grandparents. Delicious!!

1 pkg yeast (traditional)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes or until doubled. (10 min. is your max. time.)

In large bowl mix:
2 eggs
2 cups scalded milk (let this cool - can be warm but not hot unless you want to cook eggs.)
1/2 cup melted butter (don't use margarine)

Mix until well blended.

Next add yeast mixture. Gently mix.

In separate bowl:
Add together and mix with a fork.
3 cups of flour
1/2 cups sugar (less 1 teaspoon)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Add to liquid ingredients.

Carefully blending add the remaining 3 cups of flour to the mixture. Depending on the humidity levels you may need more or less flour. Your goal is to develop a smooth dough. You will need to use your hands at this time. Knead until a smooth, elastic round dough. This stage should take no longer than 10 minutes. Rub lard (or butter) around bowl and over dough. Cover with damp tea towel, and let rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours in a warm place. Oven under 200F or near oven if it's being used.

Punch down. (Literally just punch it.)

Form into buns. Pinch ends together and set with ends down on pan. You can grease your pan (if not no-stick) or use parchment paper. Cover with damp tea towel. Put in warm place and let rise until almost double. (Around an hour.)

Brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes.

You'll know they're finished if you tap the top and it sounds hollow.


One of my absolutely favorite cookbooks is "Something Warm from the Oven" by Eileen Goudge. I also use a lot of recipes from this book. (With my adaptations of course!)

Happy baking!




And Then There Were Two

Somedays I blink in astonishment. I started with seven *seven!!* pups. Now there are two left. Yesterday, a couple took Ryder home. And I'm happy to say it's the perfect Ryder home. It's an experienced dog handler who wanted a higher energy dog. He wanted a dog that could keep up with the horse when out in the field doing work. He wanted a dog that would also be his companion, living in the house when not doing ranch work. Perfect! It made me even happier that he wanted to see Reba work - only people who know what they're doing ask this. He liked mom, and he liked the baby.

Now I just have Luke and Diva. And Diva's mine. Luke, I would be willing to sell only to his perfect home. Otherwise he stays with me. He would need a home with a family. One who will continue to play with him, as well as give him the opportunity to work. Both pups are registered and starting basic obedience classes on January 3rd. I can't wait to see how they develop.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Like A Heel

This morning I felt like a heel. A really mean, nasty and snotty heel. This morning I received a compliment at the same time I felt like a heel. While I was pounding out another batch of perogies the phone rang. It was a person calling to see if I had any pups left for sale.

It turns out they had seen Grace at her new home and were so impressed that they wanted one of her litter mates. Good news? Unfortunately, they wanted one of her litter mates to be a yard dog on a farm that had no stock. They wanted her sibling to be an outside companion for an older gentleman who just lost his wife. They wanted this pup to be a Christmas present.

And I had to be the jerk who had to nicely, kindly suggest that perhaps this type of dog wouldn't be happy just hanging out. That they like exercise and attention. They like to play. They want to work. That if they are left on their own for too long they will find their own entertainment.

I understand, all too well about the comforts of an animal. I understand what it's like to loose someone you loved. I understand lonely. And I understand that I can't sell one of my babies into a situation I'm not 110% certain will be good for them.

So as I stood at my kitchen counter, tears welled up in my eyes, and I felt like a heel. I felt like the ultimate jerk for saying no. Because I understand.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Attack of the Puppies!

The puppies think Bella's the coolest kid in school.  They love playing with her.  And I love watching how careful and gentle she is with them.  She bosses them when they need it, but is so kind the rest of the time.  How could you not love her?  She truly is a great doggy role model and aunty to these babies.


Cute Factor

As each day passes, I become more and more interested in learning about Photography.  I'd love to take a course and learn more.  However, I'm thinking I'll need to upgrade my camera.  My camera isn't a cheapo by any stretch of the imagination.  But it's certainly not a fancy pants model either.  Instead, it's a plain jane middle of the line model.  My shutter speed is s-l-o-w when trying to capture shots of the animals.  Which ramps up my frustration levels.  

Today I was caught up in the fun and cute factor of the dogs playing during our brisk SUNNY winter day.  And, brrrr was it brisk!


I love the freckles on Ryder's nose and legs.  



Ryder and Luke, waiting for the opportunity to get the squeaky football away from Reba.


My little Diva.  The Watcher.  I loved how the sun and snow made her face stand out.  With as much black as she has, she can be really tricky to get nice pictures of.  And she's really a very attractive girl in real life, with a dainty and pretty head.


This picture I thought was kinda neat.  I loved how Diva and Ryder were so alert.  Once on the computer, I could see how the sun had left streak through the middle.  Not sure if you count it as "arty" or just plain bad.  


This is one of my favorite pictures of the day!  I loved how Bella and Ryder are looking the same way.  Super cute!

Joyful

There is something so joyful about spending time outside with the puppies.  Even more so when the sun is shining!


Kisses for Bella.


Ryder and Reba making the snow fly!


Racing up the hill, for a recall.  Love the expression on Luke's face here.


Reba, having the time of her life running with her babies.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Rubbing Hands With Glee

Today I braved the terrifying city streets clogged with Christmas shoppers and bad, bad drivers!  I was attempting to hit the "north" side stores where I was power-shopping for the items on my list.  Because PetSmart is so near the store I was hitting up, I popped in.  I wanted to get a couple more dog beds.  (Tessa and Reba are not interested in sharing with each other.)  While I was there, I stumbled across the book section.  Browsing through I discovered this book, "101 Dog Tricks" by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy.  And I was hooked!

I can't wait to torment Reba with this stuff!  And the puppies!  And Tessa - well Tessa loves this stuff so it's not really torment.  I'm super pumped to get playing with my little dog family.  

I also took a leap of faith and registered the pups in a puppy class at See Spot Run.  I've heard very positive things about the classes and trainers.  It's important to me to get the little guys out as much as I can.  I think it'll make them better dogs down the road.

I've attached a YouTube made by the author of the book.  Happy watching!



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog World

Some days I feel slightly like a hoarder.  Or the crazy cat lady.  You know, the people you see on the news, in disgusting animal filled houses.  My horse numbers are reasonable, (shhh... I may have a secret...), but my dog numbers make people swivel their heads, and give me the look of aghast surprise.  

And to make me even crazier, I'm falling head over heels with the puppies.  Diva, as last girl standing gets an automatic in.  My plan had been to keep a female.  A, as in one.  But with Luke and Ryder being such cool little creatures, I quite tempted to keep them both.  Luke is fun.  He's bright and engaging to play with.  Ryder, is such an easy going relaxed fellow.  I can see him turning into an easy to train dog once he gets on stock.  He'll work, and I think he's going to turn into an honest dog.  It just fits with what I see now.  

So, here I am with six dogs which makes me think I'm verging on crazy.  However, in my explorations of blog world, there seems to be a number of people with a lot of furry little friends.  And this makes me soooooo happy!  

Isn't it great to know you're not alone in your animal obsession?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cranky Pants

I've been inexplicably grumpy lately.  I'm sure the early dark and overcast days aren't helping.  But I'm normally pretty easy going.  (No, really, honest, I am!)  So it makes me grumpy to feel grumpy.  Makes sense, doesn't it?  I'm pretty sure the lack of exercise I'm getting may play a role.  But there is one thing, one easy, special thing that can bounce me out of my grump.  If this song comes on the radio I morph from road raging, fist shaking to bee bopping, head bouncing, finger tapping.  

This song, is my happy place song right now.  No idea why.  But I simply love it!  It makes me want to jump up and shake my booty.  To jump.  Bounce.  Throw my hands in the air.  To dance as poorly as only someone with no rhythm can.  It makes me want to run.  Head bob.  Gallop as fast as I can (or my horse can).  It makes me smile.  

Yes, I know it's corny.  I know it's filled with teen-aged innuendo.  But isn't that half it's fun?


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reba

I'm just laying here, minding my own business after a good game of tug.  


When she insists I sit up and look at her.  But I'm not allowed to come.  Just lie here.
Oh, man, what did I do to deserve this??
Mom, you still love me, right?  Because I'm awfully cute...  and I really, really love you...

Poor Reba is finally getting some hair back.  Her diet of fish dog food with a topping of Cod Liver Oil seems to be helping her out.  She's even put on some weight! 

Puppy Animoto

I was messing around with Animoto because I plan to teach my class how to use it on Monday.  It had been a while since I've used it and thought it'd be a good idea to refresh my memory.  Not that Animoto is difficult to use...

Here's the puppy "demo" video I created for them to watch.




Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ready to Run

It's been close to a full year since I've had to let my running fall out of my life.  And I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  Running has been one of the constants in my life for years.  Last February, two weeks out of a half marathon, I had to stop.  Cold turkey.  My tummy was incredibly angry and I had no idea why.  Tests, a variety of medications later, and a whole lotta poking and prodding, I know why now.  For the last two or three months I've been pretty stable.  And I'm ready to run.  

Or at least make a running attempt.  I'm at the heaviest I've ever been in my life.  But I don't want to run just for weight loss (mind you, fitting into all my clothes - not a bad thing), I want to run for how it makes me feel.  I want to run with my furry little friends.  I want my muscles to go POW! when I flex.  The worst part is I know what it's like to be a "runner", and I know just how badly the first 6 months are going to suck.  Mostly because I'm in the worst shape of my life right now.  

So I have a plan.

I plan to fit in 4-5 20 minute runs a week.  On the treadmill if I have to, or outside if I can get home early enough.  I plan to keep this up for 2 months (it'll take this long to get some minor condition back).  Then I plan to run 4-5 30 minute runs a week.  I plan to do this for another 2 months.  This puts me nice and close to summer.  Next, the plan is to bump it up to 5k (3 miles) if I'm not already there.  And do this for 2 months.  By September of 2011 I want to be running 10k (6 miles).  And that's the distance I'd like to stick with for next little while.  This should be slow enough it won't tick my guts off.  And give my body some time to adapt to an active lifestyle again.  My goal race is the Melissa's Road Race in Banff, Alberta.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Do People Do It?

Yesterday, with mixed feelings I let Grace move on to a new home.  I really, really liked this pup.  But I also really, really like Diva, and Luke.  And Ryder's just darn cute.  I'm a picky pants when it comes to deciding if people pass my quality control to take one of MY dogs.  This couple, and older, farm couple, did a good job during my interrogation.  Grace will be a working dog who is part of the family.  

Originally, I had planned to keep her.  But the past week I've been flip flopping between her and Diva.  Diva is a soft little dog and I think she'll be very easy to train.  Grace won't be as easy but is soooo neat!  I hate doing this.  I hate having to decide who stays and who has to go.  I hate how hard it's been on Reba.  I'll have to get some pictures of my bald and skinny little dog.  The vet says it'll take three months for her to completely recover.  

And I have to wonder.  How do people do this on a regular basis?  

Right now, my plan is to hold on to Diva and Luke.  Luke I'd be willing to rehome only to a very special home.  I'm just having too much fun working with him.  Ryder will need to have an active working home.  He just has too much energy and drive to be happy otherwise.  And if I have to hold on to him, and wait - I will.  

And the fun continues...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Play Me A Pup

In need of some peace, I made the obvious decision to play with the puppies.  I have a red squeaky football that's the perfect puppy size.  In the shed, sitting in my lawn chair I created some puppy mayhem.  And it was great!  

Luke is the clear leader when it comes to interactive play.  He's getting pretty consistent with fetching the ball and he just loves it when you madly squeak the ball at him before throwing it.  The funniest was when he would hold one end of the football, and Grace the other, and together they would walk in tandem around with it.  

Putting Luke back in jail, I gave Gracie some play time.  With Luke out of the picture she also became fairly consistent fetching the toy.  She wasn't as confident as he was doing it, but certainly was pretty good at it for her age.  Next, I tossed her back in the run with Luke.  I was curious to see if I could get the other two to interact more.

Ryder tends to want to run around and squeak the toy, but has no interest in bringing it to me.  And Diva likes to lay at my feet and watch.  With the other two removed this remained the same.  Ryder would chase it, play with it, but not retrieve it.  Leaving only Diva out, I tried to get her to engage more.  She was very interested and playful when I squeaked it around her, batting at it with her feet and mouthing it.  When I threw it, she'd run at it, but not want to touch it.  Each time she'd touch it I'd give her crazy praise.  I managed to get her to pick it up and bring it to me once.  But clearly she's not going to be much of a fetch dog.  

Tomorrow when I go to town for dog food, I think I'm going to look for one of those flat tug toys the agility people use.  I think she may like tug better.  Not sure what else to do, but definitely want her to play with me.

Grumpy Girl

I've had a strange day.  In some way's I've had a great, fun filled, but exhausting day.  But in other ways it's put me rather out of sorts.  And as I often do when somethings really bothering me - I'm going to write about it.  

Today was field trip day.  Today, I loaded up 42 kids, and 5 other adults and headed down the road to a local museum.  This museum is a really neat place to visit and the program we attended fits our curricular goals to a T.  It's a historic village, complete with costumed interpreters who pretend they're living in the past.  Ooodles of fun!

That was the fun part.  The part that's sticking in my craw happened when my group had their turn in the horse drawn wagon.  Last August I had popped over to the local horse auction.  As a general rule I avoid the auction as a depressing and demoralizing place for me to visit.  This time I had stopped to put up puppy posters and got sucked in.  Too curious for my own good.  And of course the visit still haunts me.

Back in August, I watched horse after horse sold to the meat buyers.  One of those horses had been sent to the auction by this organization I visited today.  I genuinely wondered what was wrong with the horse.  After all, why else would you send a horse through an auction of this sort?  Today I was horrified to discover there was nothing wrong with the creature.  This horse had been born and raised on this museum farm.  He was 10 years old, and well broke to pull a carriage.  This is a horse that was used to a lot of noise and people.  And he's now on somebody's plate.  Because this horse sold straight to the kill floor.  (I was paying attention.)  This really bothers me.  

If they had bothered to give the horse's story there's a pretty good likely-hood I would have bought him.  If even to just rehome him.  But they didn't.  He was sent in loose, with no information.  I just can't wrap my head around a nice, decent animal being condemned this way.  And yes, sending a horse to the meat factory is simply not a choice I'm willing to make.  If necessary I will have the animal put down.  Ethically, I just don't feel good about the meat solution.  I'm not saying that it shouldn't be an option, just that it's not one I'm willing to make.  (Have you ever gone on YouTube and watched any of those videos on it?  Eeek!)

Okay - back on track....

The bottom line is here we have a government run organization that seems to be randomly disposing of animals in the most convenient manner.  And this is what bothers me most of all.  In fact, it bothered me so much that I've sent an email to the director.  I'm curious to see if I get a response because I would love to hear their side of the story.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For Crying Out Loud

Sometimes I swear I'm cursed.  I had done something to my upper back.  Now, I'm not entirely sure what but it felt like I was being attacked by sharp stabbing knives when I moved wrong.  Needless to say I was moving like I'd aged.  A lot.  

Next, likely because I wasn't sleeping, my body decided I needed the pleasure of a cold.  Seriously??  I was just sick!  Hadn't I paid my dues?  As I've panted and wheezed I started wondering just how much mucus and snot a body could produce.  I seemed to have a never ending supply.  When I would do my nasal lavage, the saline solution would literally go in - and not come out.  It seemed to disappear into the black hole that was masquerading as my sinus's.  

After a 12 hour sleep last night, and another trip to the chiropractor I'm once again starting to resemble a human.  Other than the weird snorting, snuffling sounds that passes for breathing right now.  At work when I have the FM system on (like a microphone) I'm pretty sure I can pull of Darth Vader.  I've also given the kids countless giggles by producing sounds no person should.

Here's to the countdown to normalcy.  Or what passes for it here anyway.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quality of Life

After reading Temple's book I've spent quite a few hours pondering my animal's quality of life.  The sheep I'm not worried.  In exchange for a little bit of chasing they get a pretty good life.  They have good food, water, shelter and companionship.  The horses are also doing quite well.  They don't live in boxes, isolated from their peers.  They also have plenty of forage, space to roam, shelters and companionship.  When Roxy goes back to Jason's place I may consider getting a companion for Whiskey.  She has the sheep but it's not the same.  

Bella also has a pretty good life.  Many people believe that Guardians should live in isolation with their stock.  I'm not one of those people.  If you think about it, historically, the Maremma lived with a flock, and it's shepherd.  They had human guidance and support, as well as some companionship.  Bella, while expected to do her job, gets some love and attention.  Or as some people may say - is spoiled.

Tessa, with her aging body, still gets ample play.  The one animal I own that I worry the most about is Reba.  With her living in the house, I want her to be able to meet her play and seeking drives.  According to Temple's book, seeking is "the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment."  Other "Blue Ribbon Emotions" are rage, fear, panic, lust, care and play.  A mild form of rage is frustration, and care refers to maternal love and caretaking.  In order to prevent the negative emotions you need to provide for the positive ones.  

The biggest problem is Reba doesn't really play with me.  She LOVES to work the sheep, she enjoys playing chase with Bella, and will play fetch with a select few balls - outside.  She also likes going for walks (off leash) and runs (on leash) with me, but with the daylight issue, those are limited right now.  I've thought about attempting to teach her tricks, but when I do things she often looks at me like I'm crazy.  She's food motivated but not strongly enough to do anything for it.  Tessa, in contrast, will bark (on command), give me ten, sit pretty, and play hide and seek with me and her toys.  She also loves to play tug and will wrestle.  

When I've tried to get Reba to interact by being silly with her she gets excited, whines, but won't really engage.  If I go forward and rub her sides, and then retreat she doesn't follow.  When I take a toy and move it around, she usually won't do anything.  Last night, with a box full of dog toys, I looked over to see my dog chewing on a piece of wood.  Is this because of her upbringing?  Or just part of her temperament?  Most days, Reba seems happiest sitting with her head on my lap - she's always on the floor - I've yet to see her attempt the furniture to come up to me.  But does this meet her needs?  If you asked any of the old school dog guys they'd say she's dominating me by putting her head in my lap wanting pets.  Something I've thought about a lot is how Temple questioned whether or not dogs need to dominated, or if they just need good "parents" who provided clear, consistent guidelines?

Something to think about anyhow.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crazy Saturday

Today was wonderfully mild and sunny. And I spent it in town. Sigh. I had the puppy vet appointment at 9. This was pretty positive. The pups have had their final booster, rabies, and Kennel Cough shots. I never put my dogs in boarding places, but because we do go places and I want to take the pups to the dog park I like to make sure they're covered.

The best news was Ryder's nut is starting to drop. The vet thinks he should be normal, just needs a bit more time for it to come all the way down. Which means I won't be neutering him come spring. Tonight, I'll do a few checks to make sure no one has any reactions to vaccinations (rabies especially), and then we're good to go!

After I ran the pups home, I turned around and went back to town. My truck had puked up some tranny fluid last weekend during the cold snap and I wanted to get it checked out. It turns out it needed a new vent and valve. So I basically spent my day sitting at the dealership. I pulled out of the dealership at 2:30. The positive was that I took the time to finish reading Temple Grandin's book.

The book was fabulous and I'm so happy I read it. It gave me a different perspective on things and really made me think about the animals on my place. More to come on that later.

Came home, only to find Ryder and Luke had had a colossal war. As best as I can tell, Luke got his tooth stuck in Ryder's collar - creating a major issue. I'll be pulling collars off from now on unless I'm working with them. Ironically enough, I had just tightened them for the vet visit. Normally they're loose enough to pull off if they get stuck on something. (Luke had a chunk outta his mouth and they were both bloody, otherwise seem okay.)

Each pup got a leash walking session, and a recall to name session. And the dark arrived, cutting short any of my fun activities.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gack!

At 7:10 this morning, I put Reba's jacket on and kicked her outside for her morning constitutional.  At 7:15 I stood in the kitchen and looked out the window, into the yard.  At 7:16 I darn near wet my pants.  Why?  Because TWO BLOODY PUPPIES ran up to Reba and greeted her good morning.  Uh - you know, the puppies that should have been safely locked into their run...

Aghast, I skipped breakfast, shimmied into my Carharts, grabbed a flashlight (Oh days of light, I miss you!) and went to find out what the *insert bad word here* was going on.  Freaking out, I kept using self talk - telling myself Bella (Guardian) wouldn't have let anything bad happen to the darlings.  But visions of coyote fodder ran rampant through my head.  

Yes, last night, as I put the puppies up I only SHUT the gate.  I missed doing the latch.  And when the pups banged into it, it swung open, releasing them into the wild.  Who knows how long they were loose.  They are all safely accounted for.  But it scared the bejeebers outta me. 

Let's just say I'm going to be a wee bit more anal with my evening routing now...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do You Love Animals?

As a special education teacher, I'm familiar with Temple Grandin for her ability to advocate and educate about autism.  As someone raised in an agricultural world, I respect her for her accomplishments.  She's well educated and innovative. 

The other day, in Chapters, I stumbled across her new book, "Animals Make Us Human", so I grabbed it up.  I haven't had much time to read recently, but tonight I sat down to read.  I'm on page 17 of her book and absolutely hooked.  I want to read the entire book tonight.  (I won't - work beckons in the morning.)  If you're an animal lover, perhaps this book might be a worthwhile read for you...  

I found this YouTube link with Temple talking about the book.



Attitude

There's a lot to dislike and feel crusty about during this time of year.  The lack of daylight, the frigid temperatures, the snow, ridiculous drivers who each year seem to forget about winter driving, and inside recesses... (You think your animals get stir crazy??)  

But rather than dwell on the negative I prefer to move to a more happy state of mind.  One that slides into a state of cold induced delusions...

Here are some things I love, things that make me happy, and feel good:

Fresh, fluffy snow on a warm winters night.  
The feeling of skiing down a mountain's edge.
Sitting in my Carharts, with dogs running amok around me.
Walking into a warm barn full of the smells of shavings and horse.
4x4 - enough said...
Baking, when the window is frosted, and the kitchen smells so good.
The delicious, luscious feel of supple leather.
Silk - enough said...
Chocolate, that melts in your mouth, and causes you to drool.
Hot Apple Cider
Hot Chocolate with marshmallows.
Snowball fights, forts and angels.  
The joy on a child's face when it snows.
Hearing children's laughter during a good frolic in the snow.
Sledding down a hill, with a full moon, and a warm winter night.
Real fires in the fireplace.
Seeing Reba in her winter clothes.  
My pink Uggs.
Funky mittens and toques.
Sleigh rides.
Snow days (days it snows so much the buses don't run).
Being huge or fluffy, and blaming it on the multiple layers...
Putting my cold feet on someone else's legs...
Or, surprising someone with cold hands under their shirt, on their back...
How fluffy and puffed up the animals look with their winter coats.
How long it takes the dogs to find their balls...
The sound of snow crunching underneath my boots.
Northern lights.
Hanging in the chalet of a ski town...
Hoar frost on fences and trees.
Static toque (hat) head - how can you not laugh?
My bed, warm blankets, and a cold nose...
Cuddles with the furry creatures.
How funny it is to watch everyone walk in their winter gear...
The exercise regime of feeding the critters each day.
My work roughened "man" hands.
Going to the spa to treat my "man" hands.
Bag Balm - for feet and hands.
Good books and the excuse to stay in and read them.

See?  It's all a state of mind.  Winter is here, and will be here for the next 4 or so months.... gulp....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Change





It blows me away how much, and how quickly my little puppies are changing!  When they were born, and I was completing my research and reading on development, as best as I could figure out by the time they were eight weeks, their personalities would be fairly set.  But this doesn't seem to be the case.  Or maybe I'm just crazy...   *a distinct possibility*

When they were younger, Luke seemed to not care about what the human was doing, now he's the pup that's glued to your side (as much as a pup ever is).  He happily follows me around the yard, plays tug with the rubber ring and fetch with the baby ball.  He's adorable!  I just want to snuggle him and love him forever!  I'm not normally a male dog desire'r, but Luke tempts me, tempts me bad.  I'd love for him to find a family who will love him as much as I do and give him a work/pet home.

Ryder, who was my shy, hyper little fellow has turned into an active pup who will also stick around you.  He's not interested in playing with you but loves to play stalk and chase with the other dogs.  He's the pup that's brimming with enthusiasm and joy when you sit down for pet's time.  Gotta watch that tongue though...  At the last vet check he still had one "nut" up.  I'll keep an eye on it, and if it doesn't drop, he'll get neutered in the spring - once it's dry and warm out.  (Vet says if you leave it they have a higher chance of getting testicular cancer - and I don't want him to have the risk.)

Diva, who used to run to greet me when I came out is turning into a bit of a stinker.  She's number one on the list for some one on one work.  The little fart will come into the run for her treat.  Once she has her treat she beats a hasty retreat out of the run.  Then you have to catch the rotter.  But, she also loves her pet's and will happily settle onto your lap for some one on one snuggle time.  (Yes, I'm cuddling my working dogs - deal with it.)  Diva's the watcher when the others are playing.  I'm going to try and get her to engage in some one on one play with me.  I think Diva and Grace are going to be early developer when it come to desire to work stock.  They're going to be ridiculously keen.  I'll need to keep a close eye on them.  And keep them away from stock for as long as I can.

Grace, my crooked tail beauty, is the one the I think may turn into the best worker of all.  She's pretty serious - and always has been - and very interested in her games of stalk and chase, but also keen to play fetch with the ball.  Mind you, the whole "fetch" isn't quite mastered, let's say it's a game of chase and drop.  And is she ever FAST!  That little pup can RUN!  To think she was the runt...  Of all the pups, Grace seems to have held her personality the most consistently.  She loves lap time, and will happily curl up for a nap.  

All the babies know their names.  And come pretty good.  We've been going for walks around the fields and they've been listening much better than Tessa ever did when she was that age.  (I didn't have Reba at this age.)

They get their final set of vaccinations on Saturday.  The next big push is to start one on one training.  Hopefully the weather breaks, making it easier for me to get out and work with them.  The plan is to work on developing a consistent recall (name), and get a lie down started.  I believe the work I do now is the foundation for later, and I really don't want to screw it up.  The babies' manners aren't too bad - now I just need to build on it.

And once I have a recall and lie down - look out dog park - here we come for some socialization fun!

Stinking Cold Outside!

It's stinking cold outside right now!  We're around the -33 C mark ( - 27 ish F).  When I bought my truck last March, I bought it because I liked how the GM product handled and liked the anecdotal I'd heard from people who did a lot of driving and hauling.  

I must admit, with winter in full swing I've fallen in love again.  I LOVE my truck.  I don't love not having the heated seats (I was trying to be cheap.), but I really, truly do love everything else about it.  It's great!  With the dump of snow and country roads, I've discovered it handles MUCH better than the Dodge.  I don't shimmy on the ice.  And the snow piles don't seem to grab a hold quite as strongly.  I live between two relatively large hills.  I had to stop for a school bus on the hill!  And my truck nicely shifted, and pulled me straight up the hill.  No nasty tail swinging.  

The other thing that took me right over the edge...

It STARTS!  

Even when it's not plugged in.  (I have a diesel - when it's this cold it really should be plugged in.)  My car (the evil Jetta TDI) was a temperamental witch and wouldn't start even when it wasn't that cold.  I was soooo impressed.  (I've since found the cord and am plugging it in - gotta show it some love.)

I need to adjust the idle (has a high idle feature for winter), and put on it's bra (helps keep heat in the engine), but other than that - I'm SOLD.  

If I may say, I love my truck.  I am fully, completely infatuated with it.  I've decided I'm naming it "Baby".  Because it's such a doll of a vehicle.  

I am now a Chevy girl!  I will tacky up my truck with the symbol.  I will proudly proclaim to anyone who asks - "Chevy ROCKS!"

I *heart* my truck...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mine!

Mine!  All mine!!  On Sunday I popped over to a local tack shop that's going out of business.  I had tried the saddle in the spring and then Whiskey hurt her stifle.  And with no horse to ride, no new saddle was purchased.  Then I heard about the going out of business sale.  And stopped in.  And my love affair was renewed!  And with a ticket price at half price, I jumped on it.

I am the proud new owner of a Bates Australia Caprilli Close Contact.  And I love it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brrrr!

While winter has waited, it's now knocking on the door.  A brisk wind and snow flurries are entering the neighborhood.  This coupled with the darker, shorter days, and my favorite time of year (report cards) means a rather dreary feeling.  

Today I rushed home after work to try and catch some daylight.  The plan was to get the animals hunkered down and ready for the nasty weather headed our way.  The horses and sheep got extra hay.  Bella gets extra dog food and the pups got a fresh bed of straw, as well as a dish of food in their run for the night.  I don't normally feed them at night - they're on a three times a day schedule - but with with colder weather I wanted them to have access to the extra calories they'd need to stay warm with.  I also used square straw bales to build a "porch" onto their house.  This should give them some extra protection from the wind and weather and slow down any drafts that may enter their house.  

Meanwhile, Reba has moved into the house semi-permanently.  She has a little coat she wears while outside but just doesn't have enough hair to survive right now.  Poor little monster is bald.  I'm giving her Cod Liver Oil on her food to give her an extra boost.  Here's hoping she gets her hair back soon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Such The Disappointment

While I was at FarmFair, I went through the trade show.  I had been wanting to get a pair of Muck Boots.  The best description I can think of is warm rubber boots made out a neoprene material.  I discovered this version called Bogs.  When I tried them on they only had the full length version and being, uhm, let's just say larger calf challenged, that length didn't work.  What I really wanted was a Roper height.  You could say I was excited when I found out the store carried them - they just didn't have any at FarmFair.  So I went and bought a pair!  Because I had tried on a size nine at the trade show, and they fit, I didn't try on the size nine at the store.  Instead I trotted down to the till and brought them home.  

Ants in my pants, I couldn't wait to get them on and go for a good walk with the dogs.  You can imagine the look on my face when I pulled them on and they didn't fit!  Staring at them in consternation I clenched my fists, gritted my teeth and put them back in the box, to be returned to the store.  I'm really hoping the next size isn't too big because I'm quite infatuated with these boots.  They're warm, waterproof, breathable and PRETTY!  This is a girl who grew up wearing her brother's hand-me-down black rubber boots.  Anytime I can find girly farm wear I'm in!


Aren't they lovely?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Roxy Home for Holidays

Roxy has been home for a month and a bit taking a training break.  She's got really, really dry skin.  I even did a quick louse search but could come up with no evidence.  If anyone knows of something to help, I'd appreciate the information.  I'll keep an eye on it and ask the vet if she wants to see it.  Sam (the vet) has just come back from a holiday and is playing catch up - so we'll wait until it's not so hectic over there.

It's funny how little she's changed.  She looks pretty much the same as when she was a yearling.  Very pony-esque!  Cute, though.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tribute to Canadian Soldiers

Tonight I went with my mother to see John McDermott sing at a local arts stage.  His performance and band was fabulous.  He made a point to sing songs about soldiers and remembrance.  This one in particular gave me chills.  And I think it expresses the thoughts that are just too jumbled in my head right now for me to write eloquently and coherently.  I've pulled what appears to be homemade video of John singing the song off YouTube posted by 1203park.  My search didn't turn up any videos professionally produced.

For Those Who Did... And Do

Today is an important holiday.  It's the day where Canadians stop and take time to remember those who have fought, and fallen.  It's day where we show we care, about people both present and past who have served our country.  It's a day where we demonstrate our respect.

Today is Remembrance Day.  

Let us remember those who fought in all the wars.  Let us remember those who are still fighting.  

Thank you to those who did, those who do, and those who will do.  Thank you for standing up for our country and putting it all on the line.  

I remember.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old School

This week I had popped over to the trade show at FarmFair where one of my friends from the 4-H days had a booth.  (She makes the most delicious chaps and leather goods.) We were talking about Scratches and she said it's the easiest thing to care for.  All you do is slap on some Vaseline and off you go.  She swears by it.  

This got me to thinking about other old school or homemade remedies for horse issues.  I've used the classic Epsom Salt and Bran poultice for abscesses which works amazing.  (That one came my way from my amazing vet.)  All you do is mix up 1 part Epsom Salt to 2 parts bran, add hot water, and place in a diaper.  Vet wrap the diaper around the hoof (taking care not to go up too high and cut off circulation).  I add duct tape to reinforce it and change the poultice daily.  It's now become my go to treatment plan.

I know many people swear by feeding bran mash on the coldest days helps prevent colic.  The thought being the horses are getting more moisture in their guts than they otherwise would.  

And of course there's the tried and true vet treatments.  Many of the best things you can get from the clinic are things they've made up themselves.  One vet has what we call Magic Lotion.  Because it really seems to be magic when used on cuts.

But it got me to wondering - what other things do people do that are tried and true?  What do you do?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Devil

The devil reared its head today!  Yesterday, Tessa was a darling.  She worked like a charm.  And I stood back and let her.  Today, she's was a rotten apple.  Heh - it would helped if I hadn't bunged up the pattern.  Heh - perhaps next time I'll read the pattern before the run...  Oh well, live and learn.  But she also needed to listen.  As in, do what I asked.  Sigh.  

This was her final trial.  Now she's back to being a pet.  My beloved (and sometimes not so beloved) companion.  

Tessa's been down the road with me.  Together we roped and rodeo'd our way around Alberta.  She made more miles as a pup riding shot gun in my truck with a horse hitched behind, than many people do.  She's moved with me.  Survived boyfriend's with me.  Sat on my lap, and held my hand while I was immobilized with chemotherapy.  Absorbed tears in her curly fur as I fought through life's pitfalls.  And made me laugh and smile with her antics and verve for life.  We've run many miles together - both on foot and horseback.  She's made me scream with frustration as she willfully made her way in my world.  And she's made me cry with fear as I held her hand while she survived broken legs, teeth and now old age.  

My girl is getting old.  And she's not doing it well.  As I write this, she's laying in the corner, snoring with her tongue stuck out.  And when she gets up I'll check to see if she's leaked on the floor.  

As much as she frustrates me at times, and as much as I know there are better dogs out there, I love the little monster.  She's been my companion for 10 years now.  She's challenged me and definitely made me better for it.  I've learned a lot from her.  She's earned her place in my home and my heart.  And now, it's my job to care for her through what life may through at us.  Keep her safe and healthy for as long as I can.  

Here's to Tessa - my little devil dog.