Sunday, March 27, 2011

Animals Don't Lie

It annoys me when people think I'm stupid. When it comes to animals and honesty, do you really think you can fool me? Animals don't lie. I will very quickly be able to figure out what you have, and have not done with the creature. Animals with little to no handling are blank slates with very little in the way of hang ups. Animals that have been messed up by a human, will also tell that story. Animals that have had positive human experiences, will tell you that.

Today, I happily loaded the dogs and drove out to Ken's place. I planned to work Reba on her flanks and drive and get his feedback. That way if I was making mistakes I could rectify the situation. I also brought Diva and Ryder because I wanted to have their first experience on stock at Ken's, where if necessary I had some help.

Reba went first. That dog is very motivated to learn and her progress was clear. Ken gave me trouble over some things I was doing that was causing her some confusion and we finished on a positive note. For both of us.

Next I grabbed Ryder. I was so proud and really looking forward to showing him off. How quickly the bubble burst. We walked out to where Ken was standing. He grabbed a cane off the fence and in a completely non-aggressive manner went to hand it to me. Ryder freaked. He darn near yanked me off my feet. Ken and I looked at each other. There is only one reason a stock dog will get upset when you have a cane near it, and it's not a good reason. Ken rested the cane across his knee and tried to get Ryder to approach him. Ryder made his best attempt at pulling his head off with his collar. Reaching into my pocket I gathered a handful of treats. Lying the cane on the ground, I led Ryder near it. Squatting down, I tried to feed him treats near the cane. He turned his head away and refused to interact with me. With persistence and bribing I was able to get him to eat a treat near the flat cane. If I made any attempt to pick it up, he flew backwards.

Moving onto the sheep - less a cane - we tried to get him interested. No go. With a lot of work, making the sheep move and exciting voices, we were able to get him to make a couple of circles. Stopping we pulled off. I'm not going to lie. I was pissed. This whole experience was wrong. Ryder, when he left my place was my most keen pup. And animals don't lie. He had one mother trucker of a negative experience to turn him off. And he was turned off. The current plan for him is to let him grow up some more, do lots and lots of positive reinforcement with the cane and treats, and try again. With work, kindness and patience I may be able to turn him around. The problem now being is that he obviously has some baggage. Whether or not that baggage is enough to impede his progress, or if it'll come back to haunt him, I don't know. I don't know if this is something he can move past. I certainly hope so. I think buried under the fear and lack of confidence is a talented dog. To hedge my bets, I'll be doing a lot of agility groundwork and foundation work, just in case he needs to move into a pet home.

Diva was a completely different story. She walked into that pen with baby Border Collie swagger. She owned it. Ken handed me a cane, she didn't bat an eyelash. We headed towards the sheep and she perked right up. She was confident and keen. It took a bit for her to figure out to circle, but once she did we were off and running. Literally. I managed to get a couple of circles in both directions around the sheep before calling her off. When the ram turned and faced her she showed no fear. She would have ate him if I had let her. (I positioned myself to help her and the ram turned around.) What a difference between pups! Ken loved her, especially the confidence. Diva was in her element. She shows the qualities that'll make a top working dog. Very exciting for me.

I won't work either pup now for a bit. I mostly wanted to see what they would do. They're only 7 months old right now and I'd like them to grow up a bit more. Develop some mental as well as physical maturity. Diva, if I wanted to, could go to work. She certainly showed me she's ready to work. A possible nursery prospect anyhow.

It blows me away that people think they can fudge things. I've enough experience with the dogs, and I've worked with enough rescues to know. Dog's will tell you. If you are willing to listen and watch, they will show you what training they've had. Did Ryder's old owner really think I wouldn't notice that the pup (who should still be pretty much a blank slate) lost his marbles every time a person went to pick up a stock stick? I know where I'd like to shove that stock stick right now... The contrast between the two litter mates was vivid. Nature vs Nurture?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


My spring break is creeping close. I can't wait! When I sat down with my schedule it sure didn't look like much of a break. Here's how it's coming together...

Friday (March 25): I have to take my truck in for a check up in the morning. On the way to the shop I plan to drop Diva and Ryder off at daycare for some play. In the afternoon I have people coming out to work dogs.

Saturday (March 26): In the morning I'm bringing Tessa, Reba and Diva in to get their nails trimmed. In the afternoon, I'm going to see a professional dance presentation. (Forget the name.)

Sunday: Thinking about a Drayton Valley run... it'll either happen this day or Monday.

Monday: Diva has class #2 for her agility groundwork.

Tuesday: I have an appt. in the morning, so I'll do another day with Ryder and Diva at daycare while I do that.

Wednesday: Busy day. Tessa goes into the vet for her testing. She'll spend most of the day there. I'll drop Ryder and maybe Diva at daycare when I run Tess in. While Tessa's at the vet, I'm off to check out a farm for sale. Then in the afternoon, I pick up Tessa and Ryder gets his ears rechecked.

Thursday: I'm off to Calgary to see my dearest friend who just had a baby. I think I'll take Ryder with me.

Friday: I'm dropping the pups off at daycare. In the evening I'm driving up to Valleyview.

Saturday: I'm in Valleyview doing a stockdog clinic. Home that night.

Sunday: I have NO commitments!!!!!

Monday: Back at work.

All around these activities I'll also be training dogs, riding horses and all the regular chores and things that need to happen. It sure doesn't seem like much of a holiday right now. Perhaps I should have booked that trip south...

Puppy Update

All the babies that have new homes seem to be doing well. I thought I'd share with you a bit that I know about them.

1) Ryder - is with me still. What a sucky baby! The little fart consistently is getting me up in the middle of the night. I've finally (yes, I was a bit slow on the uptake!), discovered he's doing this because he's lonely, not because he needs to go potty. I've been a bad, bad owner by caving (I'm too tired to deal with it right now, and have created a monster!) and allowing Mr. Baby sleep on the bed. Which makes him happy, and I get to sleep straight through to the alarm. This dog L.O.V.E.S to cuddle. He's doing well at Happy Pet Spa (daycare), and is starting to develop positive social skills. He's not dominate at home but can be possessive or protective, especially when on leash. Much, much better off leash. He likes to play and is a fun companion right now. He had been started on stock (cattle) and is very keen to continue his training. I'm waiting on a few things. More news (hopefully) to follow on this.

2) Diva - still with me. She's being a little rotter right now. Definitely in the throes of adolescence! She suddenly can't hear. Or listen. All around bratty. This means she gets kept on the cord. And I need to step up her training, she has forced me to go back to the basics. Her first agility class was on Monday and she was bratty. She even snarked at the dogs! I was not impressed. She's been doing well going to the dog park so I was a bit startled. With spring break starting she'll get a lot of time. Plus on Friday she'll go to Doggy Daycare for some additional socialization. She's very athletic and FAST! Also keen to start on stock. She'll have to wait until winter decides to leave and I can put some consistent time into her. I'm planning on getting her going May/June. She loves to travel and runs to my truck, trying to get in even when its not her time to go.

3) Luke - is doing well with Stacy. They are bonding and he's been making positive progress with his training as an agility dog. He's smart and motivated, and is showing off his funny little personality. I can't wait to see him competing. All the males are turning into pretty big dogs.

4) Zoey - also doing well. She has great social skills, and lots of personality. Lynne and I meet and go to the dog park, as well, they are attending the same agility class as I am. She's a gorgeous dog. The largest female. Lynne is eagerly and nervously waiting until she gets to start working her. Zoey has a lot of energy and desire to work. Currently busy herding cats.

5) Rayne (Chloe) - is having some trouble becoming well adjusted socially. Which surprises me because she was the nicest baby. She's been attending a doggy daycare and is very smart, picking up on her training well. Adorable, and well marked.

6) Ty - is living in Saskatchewan. He's doing well and is turning into a large male. He's progressing well with his basic training (lie down, recall, etc.) and hasn't started on stock yet. He'll be started come spring. (Will it ever get here?) Kelly is very happy with him and says he seems pretty smart. Which makes me happy. It sounds like Ty is part of the family.

7) Grace - deceased.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Truck Got Stuck

They say no good deed goes unpunished. This is perhaps a bit too true. Today, my assistant principal asked for my assistance which I happily provided. He wanted to use my truck and my muscles to help him clean out the gym storage room. Much of the equipment is tattered and old and needs to make it's way into the garbage. Not a small undertaking.

I had thought we'd be moving stuff through the school and driving to the bins. Ooops, nope, we were going to drive our way across the playground to the gym doors where we'd load the box of the truck and deliver the junk into the garbage. Well, we started on our way. I hopped the curb and easily motored a bit over 50 meters. And then we began to struggle. I tried to rock the truck. Until the truck dropped a foot. We were stuck. Seriously stuck. As in my right tire wasn't in contact with the ground and my running boards were on snow, stuck. No amount of shovelling was going to solve the problem.

There my lovely "Baby" was sitting on her skid plates, stuck on the playground of my school. You can imagine the commotion this caused. Thank goodness the school is still under construction and the fantastic Site Manager, Justin, came to the rescue. He fixed the CAT and dug a path out. Next, he hooked up a chain and using the bucket helped lift me enough for the tires to hit solid ground.

Once I was unhooked I gunned it along the school on the foot packed snow heading for pavement. I was out. I went in at 11:30 and I was out by 2:30. I was starting to think I'd be calling my mom to come pick me up from work. Embarrassing.

My kids sure got a kick out of it anyway. One of them started singing this song. Here's Corb Lund (one of my favorite singers) and his song. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Every few months I'm a guest speaker with a local Running Room Learn to Run clinic. The instructor has me come talk about motivation. With the icky weather I'm not exactly feeling motivated but it's good to think about and remember. I thought I'd share my talk with everyone out in Blogger World.

Here it is.

I'm a runner. I've been a runner off and on since I was a teenager. I was one of those people who love to run. The feel of a my hair blowing back. The sweat beading off my face. I loved it. It filled me with feelings of euphoria. I was one of those crazed people eating strange "athlete" meals, talking about how easy everything was. I was comfortably running a 27 minute 5k (3 mile). And getting faster.

That was then.

My friend and I had decided to kick 30 in the face and we were in the beginning stages of training for a marathon. But something was wrong. I was feeling "off". I was in and out of the doctor's offices, getting a variety of diagnosis'. Three months passed before they figured out what the problem was. I was fast tracked into the Cross Cancer Institute.

I was determined to not let this get me down. I was determined to be "normal". And normal for me was being a runner. It was a part of me. So I kept running. The drugs I was on had some fun side effects. Some days I couldn't go outside because of the high degree of reactivity to the sun. When I could I was running down the road with my trusty sidekick, Tessa, by my side. As I ran I would chant inside my head, "Die bad cells, die!" or "Strong powerful legs" or "Relaxed and easy". Anything that made my legs move forward.

As the side effects began taking over my body, allergic reactions caused my lips to swell to Angelina Jolie proportions. My body was filled with fluid, my legs looking like my thighs dropped straight into my ankles. It became difficult to bend my knees. But I refused to quit. I stopped wearing a watch because it was too demoralizing for me. Instead I would run from telephone pole to telephone pole, then walk the next set. Soon, I was walking most of the distance. My body hurt. My mouth was filled with sores making eating difficult. I still don't like rice I ate so much of it. But I insisted on going out and getting in my "run". I was desperate for normal.

I was lucky I had an excellent support network. My friends stood behind me, propping me up when I couldn't stand on my own. I would tell people that I needed to get out, after all Tessa needed her exercise. These are things that worked for me. Running is still difficult. I haven't been able to regain the level of fitness or ease I once had. I may never be able to. My body has changed too much. But I'll never forget that I'm one of the lucky ones.

You need to do what works for you. Schedule it into your book and make it sacred. Have a friend run with you. Use positive self talk. Run with a pet. Running is 90% mental and 10% physical. And everyone can do it.

Any questions?

And that my friends is my talk. While you may not be a runner, think about what motivates you to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Full Circle

Isn't it funny how things tend to work out? I've been contemplating life around the horses. With Roxy (who don't get me wrong - is a nice horse) not working out as a futurity horse, I've been pondering which direction I want to go in with the horses. I know I want to sell Roxy. Nice horse or not, she's not the horse for me. I'll plan to wait until after summer, when I've been able to put more miles on her and have her a bit more finished. I'm looking forward to working cattle and having some fun.

One thing I noticed at the Clint Swales clinic is good training travels across disciplines. One of the exercises he repeatedly had student's using was one I had learned from an old rancher/horse trainer in Consort. It seems funny that this alcoholic's training techniques are proving to come up again, and again. (Grant is/was an outstanding trainer - back in the day.) I might just drive down and do some riding with him this summer. And I plan to take in some more instruction from Clint.

The question on my mind, is once Roxy is re-homed, what do I want to do? I'm confident I want to do something that involves cattle. As much as I enjoy the jumping stuff, I love the cattle work. Do I want to buy a finished cutting horse and go down the road? Do I want to buy another rope horse and return to that world? Pretty sure working cow horse isn't for me. *reining, yawn* Barrels? Ranch rodeo?

I'm not sure. Right now I'm teetering between roping (miss it so much) and cutting (oh so challenging). Which way to go? Time will tell. I suppose you could say the fun is in the journey.

Riding Time

Yesterday I had popped over to a local stable. It's a place I've boarded in the past and is a quiet reining breeding stable. (Home of BL Whiz Kid.) They called me in last night to let me know they've made room for me. Roxy will be moving in on Tuesday, so I can consistently ride her, making taking her places less of a train wreck.

My riding time is about to take a considerable jump and I can't wait!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Tonight, as I sat in my truck, the smell of horse filling my nostrils, I felt a bone deep feeling of joy. I think I had deluded myself into believing I was happy not riding. Obviously not the case. There is something so peaceful and soothing for me about the smell of barn. I love my dogs. I love working with them. But I don't get the same feeling I get, as how I feel after riding.

I had crawled out of bed at the break of dawn. Literally. Completed my chores, and went and saddle Roxy. Yes, I said saddled Roxy. I knew I'd have to adjust my tack to make it fit her and felt it would be easier to accomplish here at home. We were loading up and going to Willingdon for a Clint Swales clinic. I was equal part exhaustion (I had just put in a long, long week.) and nerves. This would be my first ride on this horse. Doing it in a clinic environment - crazy? Perhaps, a bit...

Based on what Jason had told me I had a rough idea of what to expect. He's had no qualms telling me she's hot. I knew she'd be soft and responsive. I knew she was mini. When I arrived, I tied her up and let her stand. When I went to get on her she was okay. A little bug eyed, but a few circles helped and off we went. She felt pretty good - other than the fact I was having difficulty with her power steering. She's smooth. I could sit her long trot without too much effort.

When it was our turn to work the flag she was pretty excited. Her body tensed right up. That little Roxy has some moves. Her stop wasn't excellent. So that's what Clint had us work on. Walk, halt, back and turn through the back. After my turn was up, he sent us to the other side of the arena to work on this. And that's where things fell apart. She resisted a bit. And I whomped her with my leg. She leaped through the air going into a bucking kind of mode. It's a good thing she's little and soft because it was easy to ride. I circled her out of it. Got her settled did a couple more and quit. (Went and watched.)

In the afternoon, she wasn't a happy camper. She was wound when I went to get on her. When I threw my leg over, she skittered around. lifting my inside rein I got her settled, picked up my stirrup and began to long trot. Her back was tight. Horses were zipping and zooming, stopping and spinning. This was all a bit too much. So as she moved into the lope she drove through her shoulder, moving into a bit of a bolt/spook. When I picked up my inside rein she lost her brain. We spun a few pivot circles before stopping. Getting her settled, I moved out of the line of traffic. I wanted to get her to stand. To relax with the chaos that is a warm up around her.

As I'm standing there, a lady and her horse pull up and stop. Right. Behind. Her. Seriously, I coulda patted her horse's nose from where I was sitting. So I turn as say, hey you might want to back your horse a couple steps. All very nicely. Common sense, yes? Really, who stops and parks their horse directly behind a strange horse? Odd that. And she looses it. She was NOT NICE! I took the high road and left it. Ignored her really. It just blows me away. I think it's a classic example of you may be able to buy an expensive, fancy pants horse, but you can't buy horsemanship and common sense.

All in all, even with Roxy's brain farts I'm pretty happy. I certainly didn't expect to take a 3 year old, irregardless of the amount of training on her, out to a strange environment and have her act like an angel. The morning was pretty darn good. I've been around enough animals to know how they act at home is often not how they act away. Plus she's ridiculously soft to ride! And I can add one enriching experience onto her roster.

And, I'd recommend Clint Swales. He was a very, very good instructor.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I've been buried under the pile of report cards and student teacher mentoring - all of which has bit into my "fun" time. But I've still been doing things. Here are some quick tidbits from my little corner of the world.

Ryder has started Doggy Daycare. He's doing okay - getting into a routine. It means I'm up at 6 to get him into the neighboring city, before driving to the city I work in. A bit of schmozz but worth it. He's been getting drops in his ears - which he just looooooovvvves. *feel the sarcasm*

Diva has been feeling a bit left out. She runs to my truck and sits by the door, or if I'm unloading my work bags will hop in and is the devil to get out. This little girl really likes to travel! I've been bringing her in while I get ready for work in the morning. Giving her some attention and love. She starts her class on Monday - and I can't wait!

Reba's happily eating her herbs. Still too soon to see a difference. She's still a cranky pants.

Tessa has been sore, not able to do much. During my spring break she'll go in for some further tests. Haven't heard anything from the herb lady who was supposed to get back to me. Sketchy that.

Roxy's getting foxy and Whiskey's belly is HUGE! I'll try to get pics this weekend. Tonight I hitch up the trailer. Roxy and I head off to a working cow horse clinic on Saturday. Looking forward to that!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Call Me A Wimp

Taking advantage of the stellar weather, my mom, myself, Tessa, Reba, Diva and Ryder made our way to the local Grazing Reserve. With the dogs cavorting wildly off leash we made our way down the deserted oil service road. We had traveled about 15 minutes and I had been noticing some tracks in the snow.

Catching my mom's attention I pointed out how large they were and I asked what they were. Back straightening she mutters, "Something we don't want to see." Quirking my head I asked what she meant. She grimaced, "Cat." That succinct world sent a chill down my spine. I looked at my black and white pack and began calling them in close to me. We had been walking though open prairie so I wasn't overly concerned about a sneak attack. What had me a bit stressed was the knowledge of a long, miserable snow filled winter - generally creating hungry wildlife.

Keeping the dogs close we retreated towards the staging area. Eyes peeled I noticed a plethora of prints. This was not particularly good. For us. I definitely didn't want to be in the cougars main travel area.

I realize that many, many people safely coexist with the big cats. I prefer to err on the side of caution. I am fully, and completely, a chicken when it comes to anything that can eat me. (Or my doggy family.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Sunday was a grand day. One filled with warm sunshine, doggy smiles and giggles. This may seem strange for people but I was excited to "catch" Tessa in a seizure/stroke. Her head lifted off her bed, and her body went rigid with her legs splayed out. It didn't last a terribly long time and she didn't seem to be in pain. Then next day she had a crazy day. I feel I have something I can share with the vet to help us narrow things down. Strange to be happy about that but I am.

Sunday, with my mom's help the four Borders and I went for a walk down the road. It had to be short because Tessa was limping and quite bug eyed. Next, I brushed Roxy, discovering some skin ickies (either a staph or girth rot), which I treated. I had fun taking pictures of the furry family (pictures coming as soon as I can get the Internet to cooperate), and took a break for lunch.

After lunch I hopped in the truck with Diva. We met Lynne and Zoey at the dog park - which was packed. On the way home, Tracy called asking if she could come work her dog - giving me just enough time to go to the washroom and grab a snack. We worked Jeter who showed a tremendous amount of improvement over his last work. And then she helped me play with the puppies.

I came in for supper, before going back out to do my evening chores.

It's funny how a little sun and warmth can change a person's attitude. I was soooo happy. It was a great day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunny Sunday Pictures

Miss Ants in Her Pants - Roxy.

Mini-Miss Roxy. Doesn't she look positively tiny next to the sheep?
Diva and Zoey (her sister) getting ready to leave the dog park.
Stunningly beautiful Diva.
My handsome man Ryder.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Vet Visit

This morning I loaded up the truck and Oscar, Ryder and I made our way to the vet clinic. Oscar needed his kitten shots, and a re-check for mites. Ryder has been really bugging his ears. I couldn't see anything but I wanted to get them checked out as they are the floppy type which are more prone to having issues. It turns out he has some "debris" and ear mites. Because he's a Border Collie, Sam couldn't use the ivemectin she usually uses for mites. (It'll kill a collie.) Instead she's ordering in some other drug to give to him. She was very, very impressed with how nice he was.

I, being the person that I am, asked her about the animal communicator thing. I told her what information I'd been given. Sam - bless her soul - is an open minded and willing vet. She has been Tess's vet from day one, and adores her. This deterioration has been hard on her too. After listening, she gave me the go ahead to try the herbs if I want. She also plans to run some more tests to try and narrow things down, and is willing to monkey around with the meds Tess is on to try and find the most effective fit.

I told her I didn't want to be unreasonable, but I was willing to exhaust every option available to us. When I told her if I had to I'd do the right thing for Tessa, she looked at me, and responded with that day will be a very difficult day.

I feel more at peace now. I trust Sam implicitly. I know she'll work her arse off to do the best thing for my dog. I know she'll give me honest and unbiased answers to my questions, and I know when the time comes she'll be holding my hand helping me make tough decisions.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Outta The Box

I'm very curious to hear what you people out in the Blogger-sphere think about this. I have stepped outside of the box. I believe that God has created a world in which we may not always understand things. I believe He created a world full of differences and individuals, and this is what makes things so interesting. I believe things happen for a reason, we just may not understand it at the time.

It's been very hard for me to understand why Tessa's health has failed so quickly and dramatically. She's only 10 years old, which in my mind, isn't really that old. I won't lie. I'm a bit angry and frustrated around the whole situation. Which has led me to this question:

Can people "communicate" with animals? (Pet psychics if you will.)

Do you believe in this? What are your thoughts?

While gathering some herbal supplements for Reba, I stumbled upon an animal communicator. The things she said about Reba, some of which she would have had no way of knowing, were quite accurate. (I had Reba "read" for fun.) Later that night, after I got off the phone with her, I discovered Tessa had once more eliminated on the floor. Taking a leap of faith, I email the lady and asked her to "read" Tess.

Last night I had the chance to talk with her about Tessa. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I am grasping at straws here, making me an easy target to sell stuff to. On the other hand, I genuinely want to help Tessa. I want her to be healthy and live happily into her golden years. I'm willing to take chances. And I do believe there are things in this world we can't explain.

Tessa's reading didn't give me the same level of information from Reba. It was more generic. Basically it focused on her health issues and what I can purchase to "help" her. Part of the problem for me is I do believe in holistic health practices, but I'm also practical enough to know that herbs and natural treatments can't fix or help everything. This makes me feel a bit sceptical. I'm having enough trouble getting her to take the meds she's already on. Will buying a bunch of things that will be a fight to feed her help?

With Tessa the lady said she has kidney problems (with a dog having incontinence issues - this is not a surprise), has pain in her hips (again, with her history not a shock), wants the whole health supplement. However, she didn't say anything about the random crazy days - well at least until I asked about. Then, she comes up with these days are caused by a potassium-sodium imbalance. And that's where all her problems are coming from. That her kidneys are causing her to go crazy or into a fugue. I'm not at peace with these results. A lot of it was what I'd call a no brainer. With her history and medical issues something that makes sense. This dog is on a ton of meds to help with her problems with limited success. I will be sharing this with my vet - who does have an open mind. And it's okay with me if people mock me. I will do everything in my power to keep my Tess with me for as long as reasonable. Does this make me an easy "mark"? For sure. But what if...

Thoughts, my friends?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


As promised, I have some horse news. Roxy who has spent the majority of the last year in training on a cutting futurity track will be coming home. While very promising as a two year old, she's too small as a three year old and physically unable to do/take the training required to be successful on the futurity circuit.

I had been a bit frustrated with the lack of communication from the trainer. She had left near the end of January and I hadn't heard anything, which was a concern for me. Apparently emails were sent out, and I got missed. Last night I called Jason and we discussed the various options for an hour. I had been putting a lot of thought into selling Roxy. One of those gut feeling things. Looks like my gut was right.

Jason recommends sitting on her. He said because of her age I won't get her true valuation if I try to sell her now. Simply because people won't believe something this young can be well trained. He says she's a very, very nice horse, just too small to take the training. He wishes she had grown more. He believes if I wait until she's closer to four years old, then I should be able to get six to ten thousand for her. He said to go ahead and ride her. Play, have fun, do things, even put some cattle work into her on my own. He didn't believe she would finish a high enough calibre to justify spending the training money. I could buy something nice and finished for what I'd spend.

On Sunday I'll go pick her up. It looks like I'll have something to ride, albeit something small. Let's hope the round bale helps her grow and fill out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The dogs and I are on a learning fix. I've been a busy girl, on the phone registering for clinics and classes. Here's our schedule:

March 14th - Ryder begins 3 days/week Doggy Daycare for some socialization fun.

March 21st - Diva and I start Groundwork (for agility). This is an 8 week session.

April 2nd - Reba, Ryder and I head to Valleyview for a stock dog clinic. We'll spend the day with Corey Perry and Carl Sneddon. Ryder goes for some exposure and Reba goes for a second set of eyes on the ground.

August 17 & 18 - Two dogs (not sure who yet) and I head to Saskatchewan where we'll attend a Faansie Basson stock dog clinic. He comes from Africa and I'm excited to hear and learn from him.

Plus, this week Reba starts on a herbal supplement to try and help her with her moods and irritability with other dogs. We should know in the next month if this is helping her.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Sometimes I think things happen for a reason. Initially, I was a bit perturbed and upset that Ryder was needing a new home. I felt I had let him down with my initial placement. Having had Ryder home for a smidge over a week, I now wonder if he didn't come back to me for a reason.

Through the angst of having Tessa break down before my eyes, I have this little lovable pup now living in my house. Not part of the original plan for sure. It is, I think, a blessing in disguise. Ryder, strangely enough, is very similar to my Tess when she was a pup. He's not as hyper. But he certainly shares some of her qualities.

He has a great personality. Happy to be with his human, he loves cuddles, and is fun to be around. He'll play tug with me, make these funny groaning sounds, howl when he's put in jail (not necessarily a positive but a definite Tessa trait!) and he has this innocent joyful expression. One that Tessa still has on her good days. And on her bad days, he's the one who clambers up into my lap, wiggling his body into mine, licking any available place on my body while I cry.

I'm not the only one who has noticed the similarities. It's made me wonder, "Has Ryder come back to me to ease the pain of Tessa's passing?"

Something to ponder.

Monday, March 7, 2011


One of my friends passed on some advice she had once received. She said "We give them a life with dignity, and the least we can do is a death with dignity." This struck a chord with me and gave me some peace. Last Thursday was an awful day - start to finish. I don't have the words to explain the look on my dog's face. The best I can do is it was like a fearful dog as a thunderstorm moves in to the area. Spooked, irrational and wild.

While the days that followed gave me a somewhat normal Tess, I am still haunted by the crazy Tess. Thursday caused me to fully and completely melt down. It was the moment where I understood that we were at the beginning of a downhill run. And I'm not ready for it. But I can't stop the inevitable. And that hurts my soul. If I were honest, I could tell you when she started peeing I knew in my heart that it wasn't good. But I was a bit delusional and quite convinced that I could fight this. There are so many options available that this really wasn't a big deal.

It appears I was wrong.

On Saturday, not feeling well, I curled up in my bed with Tessa securely nestled into the nook of my body. She felt shockingly fragile and I knew. I knew that today wasn't the right time for her to leave me, but that time was coming soon. I decided when her bad days out number her good days that I would do what is right and fair for her. I won't make her suffer confusion and upset because I'm too weak to let her go.

She has been my loyal friend, companion and worker through good times and bad. The least I can do is be her loyal friend, companion and worker through her good times and bad.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dog Park Date

I had agreed to meet Lynne (and Zoey) at the dog park for a "date". Yesterday, I thought I'd test the waters. Diva I wasn't worried about having had her there prior, Ryder, well, let's just say he was a loose cannon. Yesterday I had to abort my walk as Ryder was having barking fits and Diva was packing up with him. Not the behavior I want to encourage.

After speaking with my mom about it she offered to meet me today so that both pups could go and get the experiences the park offers. Mom started off down the field with Diva, and Lynne and I followed a bit behind. We eventually caught up to her and the three dogs had a blast. Ryder settled down and stopped with the excited and stressed barking. And the three little siblings ran, and ran, and ran, and ran! They started engaging in positive behavior with other dogs we met. All very exciting for me.

Overall, I had a blast, and I'm happy with how the pups are developing. I think with consistent exposure to new things, dogs and people they are going to turn into pretty nice little animals. Well adjusted and happy.

I absolutely adore how well Diva recalls. Full tilt running and racing past any distractions to get to me. Even Ryder is showing recall improvement. He's starting to put some speed on when I call him, even if he doesn't always come straight to me. I think as we build a relationship and confidence he'll be that much better.

Happy day today. Even if it is cold.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


How do you know when it's time to say goodbye to a beloved pet? How do you decide when their quality of life is decreasing? What constitutes a decrease in quality of life?

I've just spent the last 20 minutes cleaning up Tessa's dog poop when I should have been working on a big presentation I'm giving at work tomorrow. She was outside with me 2 hours ago. Playing.

I'm taking an Advil to fight the major tension headache I've just developed and trying to get my Glogster presentation done. I present at 9 am. Sigh.

Any and all advice and stories are appreciated...

Going for a Walk

Ryder's a funny little fellow. He loves the treadmill! Here's a short clip of him on it. He'll happily walk on it for 10 minutes! Blows me away. The dog whining in the background is Tessa who thinks the treadmill is an implement of the devil and was desperately trying to jump the baby gate to get upstairs and away from the horror.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Stay tuned for horse news coming soon! Bwahahahaha!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I have seasonal affect disorder. What this means is when we have little daylight because of our northern location I'm prone to irritability, depression, and mood swings. Right now I've been waking up each morning to sub thirty temperatures without factoring a wind chill. This has been making me extremely crabby.

Toss in some dog wars, a sudden spurt of teenaged behavior from Diva, and indoor recesses at work and I'm a loaded gun. I've been wracking my brain for some strategies to deal with this. Once upon a time I went to the tanning bed, which truly helped. But I refuse to commit the time to do that right now. I know I need to step up to the plate with my physical activity levels, but *excuse alert* with Ryder moving in, feel the need to commit the time to him. I have found a doggy daycare not too far from work and once the owner returns from holidays and can intake him, plan to take him there 3-5 days a week. This will help with the guilt.

Plus, I've made some decisions around Roxy, also causing me to feel crabby in many ways.

Sometimes I feel as though no matter how had you work, how hard you try, thing just don't go your way. Defeatist isn't it?

Then I remember my uncle. My uncle committed suicide a little over 2 years ago. He had had a number of strokes, was physically challenged (nice way to say impaired - sigh), and was in a supportive lodge setting. He had about a third grade education because back then "special" kids didn't go to school. When the RCMP came to the door I felt a tremendous amount of guilt. After all, I had left him. I had moved away to pursue more selfish pursuits - such as shopping, nightlife, and a social life. I felt that I had stopped giving him the time and attention he deserved.

There was a time when I'd pull up to the lodge door in my tricked out truck, where he'd be waiting by the door for me. I'd load his buggy in the box, boost him (literally) into the cab where Tessa was anxiously waiting and we'd hit the road. Sometimes I'd bring him back to my parents for a weekend. Sometimes we'd just drive to the nearest town and have pie. And sometimes we'd just drive past fields of wheat and cattle, swerving into access drives to grab a handful of crop to give him to inspect.

My uncle had a very, very difficult life. He worked hard. He was treated with disdain and disrespect on a regular basis. He lived on the family farm with his parents until it was sold and they moved to town. He regularly fell, causing concussion after concussion, and eventually I'm convinced some brain damage. By his death he often didn't make sense and his words were slurred.

What I learned from him was perseverance. When things get hard, you bear down and put some elbow grease into it. (I was going to say back into it - heh.) I also learned to love the simple pleasures of life. I think I've been forgetting the lessons Uncle Gene had taught me. I've been feeling sorry for myself when I have nothing to feel sorry for.

I am blessed. I have a great lifestyle. I have wonderful animals that bring me joy. I have had opportunity and choices. I need to remember I have chosen this. This IS what I want. Not that long ago, I had the opportunity to ditch the furry family, move into a fancy pants McMansion, travel frequently and live the good life. But when placed in a position to choose, I didn't choose him. While nice I'm sure, that's not the life I want.

I want to honor my heritage while working towards my dreams, wishes and goals.

Today, look for the simple pleasure of your day.

Mine is the joy the dogs greeted me at the door.