Saturday, April 30, 2011

Herding Clinic

My mentor, Ken Mackenzie, is having a clinic on May 7 & 8th. All breeds and ability levels are welcome. You may audit or register for single day if you wish. For more information you can contact Ken at 780.5427381.

Cost is $250 including GST and meals. Start time is 9am in Drayton Valley.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thinking About Dogs

I've been thinking a lot about my dogs. I love them to death. I'm a bit concerned I'm not spending enough time with each of them. It's becoming clear that the best decision for the dogs is to let one move on to a new home. I've got to admit this creates a tremendous amount of anxiety for me.

How do you choose?

How do you choose which dog moves on? They all have their positive and negative qualities. They all have their own personalities, and they all love me dearly. I believe in listening to my heart, following my gut. And I can be very decisive. Not this time. I'm all in a jumble.

I feel pressured to make the right decision. To choose the dogs that are going to be "winners". To choose dogs that are going to be "perfect fits" for me. On the other hand, I love them all - just for who they are - the sheer pleasure of their company.

I've had some offers on Ryder. But can I let him go? It was never in my master plan to keep a male. But I love the look of him, his personality, the way he cuddles, how easy going he is, and how lovely he is to live with.

That leaves me with Reba and Diva. What's the right thing to do? Keeping them all isn't looking like the right thing, and as much as I hate this fact - it doesn't feel like the right thing.

I want to make a decision that's fair, just and right - for me and the dogs. I want to make a decision soon. So my heart stops breaking.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It's funny. Roxy was the classically "nicer" horse, but I have fallen in love with my little Bacardi (Royal Purple Coke). She may not be the prettiest. She may not be the most athletic. Heck, she's not even the most conformationally correct! But I adore her. Tonight, on our first "alone at home" ride, I fell in love with this ranchy girl.

I had more fun riding than I have in a very, very long time! Passion inspired! I can't wait to pretty the girl up with some TLC.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Don't Feel So Good

"Mama, I don't feel so good." are the words that strike terror into all parent's hearts. Especially when said in the middle of the night. These are the words that mean lack of sleep and messes to clean up. Equally powerful, and sure to yank even the soundest sleeper out of bed are the sounds of a dog retching on the carpet of your bedroom.

This is where in panic stricken voice, you try to encourage the dog down the hallway and out the the door, where they can puke in peace and where you don't have to clean it up. Then you groggily wander back to view the damage. Gagging, you'll bend down with paper towel and try to scoop and sop up the mess. Next, you'll put down a cleaner of some type and leave a towel on the spot - in the hopes you don't step in it.

And if for some reason your dog is able to open the Cod Liver Oil jar and drink most of it, you'll spend the next 48 hours routinely cleaning up nasty regurgitations and hope if it comes out the other end the dog makes it outside. You'll put the dog in jail, hoping to limit the ravages on your flooring, until listening to the pitiful cries weakens your resolve, and you release the offending beast back into the bowels of the house.

Finally, you'll pray for this to end. For it all to pass, before your Easter guests arrive and fill your house.


It's funny, for the past few years I've dreamed and wished I had a horse to ride while Whiskey was out being lame. With Roxy being in the barn, I've discovered I'm singularly unmotivated to make the time to go ride her. Have I simply gotten out of the habit? I'm not sure. There was a time in my life when I ate, slept, breathed horse. I rode with broken bones and torn muscles. Nothing could stop me from getting in my daily ride.

So what's the deal with now? It's not that I'm scared of her, I've already proven I can ride her and anything she'll toss my way. Don't mistake lack of fear with trust - you'd be six shades of stupid to trust a three year old! And perhaps that's it. Perhaps I can't be bothered because I don't want to put the effort into thinking every moment I'm on the horse. Once upon a time I loved that. Loved taking a horse that had been started and finishing them off. I loved taking that rough gem and turning it into something anyone would be proud to ride.

I'm not sure. One thing I do know is that I've been more unmotivated to ride the last month than I ever have in my lifetime. Let's be honest. If I really, truly wanted to be riding I would be. Clearly I don't. Even knowing that I need to ride before she goes to be shown off on Monday isn't moving me towards the barn. I keep telling myself, tomorrow, tomorrow I'll go out. Well, tomorrow is today and I've yet to go out. Sigh.

It makes me wonder, is my love affair with horses over? Gone stale, past it's due date?

Too Cute Not to Post

My little Diva with her wet spiky haired look. Absolutely adorable!

Spring Walk

I've been taking advantage of the nice weather and going for hour long rambles in the local grazing reserve. The dogs are loving it! Even Tessa joined in the wild and crazy running.

Ryder and Diva were having a grand time racing each other.

Reba's licking her lips in anticipation of the treat waiting in my hands.

Ryder and Diva felt the need for a swim yesterday.

Ryder, Diva and Zoey waiting for us to move on out again.

A view of the field we walked in yesterday and today. Doesn't look like much but those little hills are steep!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rotten Ryder

Ryder is testing my limits right now. The little rotter has taken to peeing and pooping in the house. This is not making me happy. Even when he's caught in the act, given a reprimand he doesn't seem to be too terribly bothered by it. I've started crating him at night again, until he becomes more trustworthy again.

And then it all became clear.

Yesterday morning, I noticed Reba left a reddish smear when she sat on the white tile. Lovely. She's back in heat. Way, way too early, but it's definite "that time of the year" for her.

Poor little Ryder man probably has no idea why he's peeing so much, he just feels the need. Particularly in places Reba's been hanging out. And it all makes sense...

This means that little Diva will also begin to show heat symptoms. She's the right age for her first cycle and often one dog coming in, means they all come in. It'll be good times in my house for the next three or so weeks. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Horse Trader?

While I lived in the wild and woolly west, I learned the value of a good trade. There the horse trading was an art form practiced almost daily. It was living in Consort, surrounded by hard core cowboys that I learned how to dicker, how to evaluate, develop a valuation and use my poker face. All this was usually done over a case of beer in an office reeking of cigarette smoke.

Yesterday an opportunity dropped into my lap. I have Roxy posted on Kijiji. A lady contacted me asking what I'd be willing to take in trade. Interesting question that. The funny thing is I'm not really looking for anything specific. Broke, safe and sane are my requirements. We exchanged a flurry of emails, before progressing to the phone. She's interested in Roxy and has a ranch type mare she'd like to trade. Now I'm well aware this other horse is very likely not as athletic. It's priced a bit lower than Roxy. And I'm okay with this. Simply because I recognize the fact that what's the right horse for me at this point in my life might not be the right horse for the lady wishing to rehome her. And I recognize the fact that I'm not the right owner for Roxy at this point in her life.

On Monday, I'll load up Roxy, head to Sangudo and maybe do some horse trading. Think I'm crazy? Perhaps, but this is how I ended up with Whiskey.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Animal Instincts

Animals amaze me. How they can "hear" without a word being said. The things they just instinctively know. Yesterday, under the weather I spent a good portion of the day laying around. Tessa curled up on the bed beside me, and Reba would periodically run up and prop her front feet on the edge of the bed nearest me. It was as if she was saying, "You still okay?" She would look at me and if a hand was near would rub her nose on it, before jumping down to go back to her bed. Both adult dogs stuck pretty close to me throughout the day. I'm sure they were bored and just waiting for some action.

At around 6 I brought the pups back into the house. Diva, who normally curls up on the far side of the couch, scooted her body until she was on my lap, where she promptly went to sleep. She didn't want to move away, even when she seemed warm. Even my little wild man, Ryder, came up for a cuddle.

I felt bad for them. No walks or real play. Today I'm still "off", but I managed a walk in the dog park for the babies, and my brother and sister-in-law took the big girls for a short walk down the road. Maybe later I'll make another effort.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Snooze Button

With a nasty spring storm blustering its way around, I brought the dogs in last night. I had thought it was going to blow over. Ooops... Poor dogs spent the day outside in the runs while I went to work. (They had houses.)

Here's Diva having a snug on the couch with her wet spiky hair.
Reba curled up in Tessa's bed.
Ryder, who refuses to share the couch with Diva.
Diva, who loves the couch, even when she looks hard done by.
Diva even spent the night inside. I didn't want her outside, it was nasty and damp. She spent the night in a crate in my room and was awesome! No squeaking, or pooping! Phew!

It's Like Herding Cats

I have decided that trying to get pictures of all the dogs together is akin to herding cats. Or children.... Here are my efforts to date...

Puppy Recall
What is it about snow that dogs find so fascinating? (Ryder)
"Diva, stay, staaaaaaaay, no, stop, argh!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Roxy's Post

I've posted some pics of Roxy. *psst - She's for sale!* She's currently living the good life in the barn. Not that I've had time to do anything too exciting with her.

This picture brings to mind, "Look at that ass!"

Yep, looks like Spring...

Enjoying some dinner.

Not cooperating when I was trying to take pictures. She kept coming up to the camera with her nose, or walking right up to me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Taking the Plunge

While I'm a fairly confident person, there are times risk taking becomes a challenge. When I don't have a fairly good guarantee of success I'm a bit more hesitant to take the plunge. So here I am, taking a deep, deep breathe, preparing to take a huge leap of faith. One I have no guarantee of success at. It involves an admission TEST! My school division has a program called "Leadership for Tomorrow" and I plan to apply. Scary bit is they don't accept everyone who applies - only the best make the cut! I'm a bit worried that I don't fit into that category... This week I'll be writing the aptitude test, fine tuning my application and hoping I meet the criteria for the program. A program developed to create leaders. Leaders such as administrators or leaders such as consultants. I love my classroom and have no plans to leave it right now. Down the road? Who knows. Here's hoping I make the cut! (Won't know until May.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crash Course

On Sunday afternoon, I loaded up the four Border Collies and my mom. We were headed to the local grazing reserve, hoping to walk on the trails. Well the trails were still snow covered, so we decided to go down the oil service road. It was dry and the dogs would spend part of the walk on leash and part off leash. When we met horses we'd recall the dogs and leash them up. Sitting them down and waiting patiently for the horses to pass. We even met some people who were also walking their dogs there. Most of the time this isn't an issue. But sometimes people just blow me away.

A lady on a bike with a German Shepard was quickly approaching us. We called the dogs in, and put them all on leash. Simply because the babies don't always listen well, and Reba and Tessa are cranky pants. I wasn't interested in starting a dog fight. We sat our dog down and waited for her to pass. Except she didn't. Her dog came loping towards us. She called out he was just coming to say hi and he is very friendly. I called out my dogs were not. Did she recall her dog? Nope. Why bother? So there we were four dogs on leash, and one rapidly approaching. What do you think happened?

Reba raised her lip and uttered a growl, causing me to correct the behavior, and put her back into a Lie Down. I walked away from my mom so we weren't all together, trying to slow the train wreck I knew would happen. Dogs down again, I turned just as Tessa surged forward, causing Diva to leap with her. My mom hit the gravel, sliding with the forward motion of the dogs. Meanwhile the German Shepard is still trying to engage my dogs. Leaving my mom he comes towards me. The lady was delusional. His back hair was standing on end. Not generally a "friendly dog" look. Did she recall her dog? Nope. Meanwhile my mom is struggling to get to her feet. Tessa is wild, causing my mom to fall once more. The strange lady grabbed Diva. I told her to let her go, she'd recall to me. So there I am calling Diva with her leaping at the end of her collar trying to get to me, and the lady refusing to release her. I once more tell her to let her go. And she looks at me blankly. Seriously?? I was getting annoyed by this point. Her dog is still roaming loose, circling me, then circling my mom. Finally getting Diva, I hold my three while my mom regains her feet. Did I mention mom is waiting for knee surgery?? Worried, I watch her, while trying to encourage clueless lady to move on. When mom limped up to me I asked her what happened. She didn't know. She thinks the dogs pulled her off her feet, the bad knee giving out on her. I kept a careful eye on her. We still had a good 30 minutes walk to get back to the staging area. In my head I was making contingency plans. Figuring how I'd get my truck back in there to drive her out. She managed to walk out and is okay. A bit roughed up but okay.

I'm still a bit befuddled by the lady. What would posses her to think having her loose dog approach four leashed dogs (from the same pack) is okay? That's never got a good outcome. Even the babies who are generally pretty happy with other dogs were not. Tess with all her training went into protect mode and Reba went into attack mode. Tessa and Reba have enough training that I can generally lie them down and they'll wait patiently until the dog passes. The pups are learning to sit when we meet someone new. Greeting dogs on leash is a different thing. It's not like the dog park where they can greet, meet and move on at will. I would have been better off leaving Reba and Tessa off leash, reducing their protective/possessive instincts. But most people are respectful. They ask their dogs to heel or put them on a leash when passing.

All it takes is one...

Friday, April 8, 2011


We've had a week of gorgeous sun and I'm enjoying every second of it! Yesterday, after work I (with mom's help) took the dogs for a walk down the road. Mom usually takes Reba and Tessa, and I take the two pups. I was a bit naughty as I didn't work on the heel with the babies like I normally do. Instead I tied the two leashes together and had one handle for both, letting them walk a stride in front of me and just to the side.

Mom and Tessa turned around at the 1/2 mile mark. Tessa can't handle going much more than 2.5 km (about a mile) before she starts to drag her feet. Literally. It was so nice out I grabbed Reba and continued on with the three dogs. We ended up doing about 4.5 km. Not a massive walk by any stretch of the imagination but I was very aware of time, not wanting to over do it with the babies. I had asked the vet about starting to run with them and she said no more than 30 minutes. (Don't want to damage those growth plates.) When I returned to the house I brought the dogs in. I wanted to do some training with Ryder and Diva. Continue playing our game of Lie Down and Okay with treats.

I wiped down the feet and funneled them into the great room (its big), as I used one foot to pull off my Bogs (lined rubbers) I was gripped with the most intense pain! My leg felt like it was being torn in two! Swearing and moaning, I clutched it, causing Ryder great distress as he came whimpering to my feet. As the pain abated, I sat and once again tried to remove my boot, causing a shot of agony. My calf and hamstring were shrieking. Bearing down I carefully yanked the boot off. Trying to stand my leg buckled and let out another wail of pain. Mincing my way to the coach I gave the dogs their Bull Sticks. Flopping down, I propped the leg up. Ye gads, what the crimminey did I do???

I spent the remainder of the night sitting on the coach. I was able to do limited weight bearing on the offending leg. Today, I'm limping away. I must tell you, this certainly puts a crimp in my style! Here's hoping it fades quickly...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Confession

I have a confession to make... it doesn't reflect well upon me... but for the last couple of months I've kinda, sorta, well, not been liking Reba. I know!!! Awful! The more stand offish I get, the more needy she gets. Not a nice cycle. After a conversation with Thad the other day, I've decided that I need to do better. Be better. So Reba has moved up the priority list. I'm making it a priority to take her with me to the stable when I go. This is her private time. Yesterday, I made an effort to play with her. Just her. No other dogs about. She loved it. Tail in the air, smile on her face.

I also need to get her more exercise. The limited amount she's getting just isn't cuttin' it for her. And you know what? Last night I enjoyed having her around - just like the old days. There was a time when I really enjoyed working her. Then I listened to too many people, and stopped following my gut. I need to listen to myself and follow my instincts where she's concerned. Because she's so soft and sensitive, she's challenging to work. I need to look at myself when she's making mistakes, accept them, figure out how to help her, and move on. And not be frustrated with her. If she were a child I wouldn't be getting mad, I'd be problem solving. This is my confession. It's not a nice one. The resolution is to do a better job with her so she can reach her full potential. And to enjoy her for who she is.

Because she's a nice dog, one I'm lucky to have in my life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Roxy Resolution

Roxy has been at Cedar Crest for the last two weeks. And I've been there once. Having Roxy home has put additional pressure on my schedule. My already packed schedule. Thinking, I called up Jason. He's going to put some feelers out and help me work on selling her. She's not worth as much now, but it will alleviate some of my issues. Today I plan to go ride her. I do plan to try and ride every day this week. Will it happen? Not sure about that. My biggest problem is I have to decide between riding her or working with the dogs. I just don't have enough time for the animals I have and something has to give. That something is Roxy.

Diva's Class

On Monday nights, Diva and I head into the city to attend an agility groundwork class. Basically we play games, learn new skills and she gets exposed to a variety of different obstacles. It's funny, Diva, the shy reserved girl should not be good at this. But she is. She has been gaining confidence with every day. She happily hops up on the table and sits. She runs through the tunnel. She'll even stand on wobble boards, wiggle seats, and exercise balls (with hind on ground). She is a smart, smart cookie. When we switched skills - we had been standing on the wobble boards - to the jumping part (no higher than her ankles), she walked up to the jump and put her paws on it. I really shouldn't laugh but it was funny to see. You could tell she was tired because she was getting silly. She'd look at me with this happy expression - saying look at what I can do. While she loves to jump things at home, she wasn't overly interested last night. I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do next week. So much fun, playing with the pups.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Puppy Works

On the weekend I hauled Ryder with me to Valleyview. I thought he could use some exposure. He ended up getting two works and showed a tremendous amount of improvement. At this point I believe he just needs confidence. On Sunday we went to Waseteneau to work sheep. I brought both pups. A reputable and skilled trainer was going to be there and he'd asked to see the pups. Because I was worried about Ryder I wanted an "expert" opinion. And I got it. Ryder's going to be okay. In fact, with time he might just be excellent. Diva was a wild child. But showed her willingness to work. She was a little fart to catch. Very interested in the Barbados sheep - she'd never seen one before. The trainer will take one of the pups in July. Right now it looks like he's most interested in Ryder. I turned down two queries of purchase for Ryder this weekend. I'm obviously not a good business person. But I'm really undecided if I want to sell him. I know one dog needs to go. I don't have time to work with three. But Ryder will go to a special forever home if I decide to sell him. In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away.

Like A Skunk

Like a skunk. Reba and I stink like a skunk. Yep. That bad. After three days of "dog time", straight up herding, I've come to the conclusion that the wheels most certainly have fallen off the bus. I'm not entirely sure what happened to my nice little dog. The quiet one with the great outrun and willing to work personality. This hard headed hyper one can go. I'm sure that I'm a large part of the problem. That's usually how it works. I was equal parts horrified and embarrassed when I realized how poorly she was working. I was reprimanded for not immediately correcting her behavior. What can I say - I was in shock. My reaction time was a bit dull. Last night I called Abe, almost in tears, asking him when he could take her because I was obviously wrecking her. He reassured me that I should keep working. That it was very likely a spring aberration and everything would settle down with more work and exercise. I'm sure hoping. The only other variable is the herbs I've been giving her. She's been on them for close to a month now, and has been acting strangely the last week or so. I don't like it. I'm pulling her off the herbs, simply because her personality is all wonky. She's not acting like herself and that's the one thing I've changed. I'd far rather have my quiet cranky dog, then this hyper kind of friendly dog. I've been watching the daylight in the mornings. In another week or so I should have enough light to get in a quick run before work. This should help her burn off some energy. All I know for sure is that this stinks. I hate not being good at what I want to do. And I'm frustrated with her which isn't fair. I need to take a deep breathe and get back to the basics. I've not done a good job with Reba. Tessa's training was far better. My plan is to focus on one skill and work progressively on it until she goes to Abe. Once at Abe's she'll get regular intensive work and should settle down. And now I'm frustrated with Blogger which won't let me publish with paragraphs. Grrrr....