Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Did You Spend New Years?

Warning!  Gross Post!

This morning I had the rudest of awakenings.  I woke up to the lovely sound of retching.  Springing out of bed as fast as I could (at 6:30 in the morning), I hustled towards the ominous sound.  It was Ryder.  Puking up the bits of toy he decided to eat Friday night.  Now, I had thought I'd caught him quickly enough.  Apparently I was a smidge too slow.  Not only did he puke up the hunk of barbell I caught him destroying, he puked up a huge portion of the toy Tessa had destroyed.  

You know the warnings, dog must be supervised, blah, blah, blah.  Well, I DO supervise the little wrecking machines!  You would be stunned at how quickly they can get into trouble.  All it took was me walking into the next room to get a drink of water.  And Whammy!  Brand. New. Toy.  Poof!  Gone!  Well a good sized hunk of it anyhow.  I promptly took it away and threw it out.  Meanwhile, behind the couch Tessa was happily ripping the stuffing out of the Brand. New. Toy.  Unbeknownst to me, Ryder had also helped himself to the innards of this toy.  How do I know?  Well, at 6:30 in the morning when he puked it all up there were hunks of the toy I took from him, as well as this plastic and stuffing that had been in Tessa's toy.  Lovely.

Then on our walk in the park I noticed he was struggling a bit to do his business.  Very out of character for my speedy doody man.  Telling myself not to panic or get too worried before I checked the dog run at home.  Once home, I noticed some diarrhea and stool so I decided against calling the vet.  Bowel movement had to be a positive thing.  

About an hour after he eats his supper he so kindly puked it all back up.  On my freshly cleaned floor.  This prompted some agony over calling my vet on New Years Eve.  Some Internet searching induced paranoia prompted the phone call.  Where I was informed to watch him.  Closely.  She gave me some advice of what I should feed him to try and help him pass things on his own.  So here I am.  Waiting for my dog to puke or present some fabulous diarrhea.  Let the good times roll.  If he gets worse, the vet will meet me at the clinic and we'll begin some diagnostics.  Come morning we're to make a decision if he needs further care.  

Yep, I am that girl.  Here's a sampling of one of the puke's I cleaned off my floor.  Nummy!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Have You Heard Of This?

Here in Canada is a show called Dragon's Den.  It's my understanding that it's similar to the US show Shark Tank.  Anyhow, it's a show I rather enjoy.  This group was on the show: Holy Crap.  Interesting name, I know.  It is an apropos name.  Ehm, my friend had introduced me to the cereal Holy Crap, and I have recently discovered Skinny B.  I've been putting the Skinny B into my morning breakfast shake.  It's healthy, a bit on the gritty side (full of seeds), and keeps my tummy happy.  Check it out.

Hey, if the name doesn't make you curious - what will?  :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Something I Thought I'd Never Do...

Feeling at loose ends with Whiskey I'd emailed Roxy's breeder.  I asked if they were interested in a free breeding lease.  I just don't need a broodmare and don't want to breed her for no reason.  Really, how many babies do I need?  The response?  Would I be willing to sell her?


Now what?

Do I take the reasonable offer for a broodmare sound only horse?  I'm relatively confident she'd be taken care of.  I think she'd make a nice cross with their stallion.  Or do I hold onto her?

Remember this is a horse I love.  She's such a nice mare.  She has a great disposition, personality and athletic ability.  Even though she's permanently lame.


She'll never produce the cutter of my dreams.  She's rather large for that.  And ethically I can't breed her just cause she has a uterus.

What to do?  What to do?

New Friend

Yesterday was one of the perfect days for me.  It's December and the temperature was not minus frigid.  I got to load my truck with dogs and had a trailer on behind me.  We ended up spending the day at Ken's.  I was going to pick up a yearling to take to keep Guinness company.  Both babies were to be moved to my place.

I pulled into his yard and promptly tried to get the truck and trailer stuck.  Hitting a soft spot in the snow = not cool.  I managed to solve the problem myself with some creative language, sweat, and ace maneuvering.  One of my favorite things about Ken's is that I have someone who loves horses and dogs just as much as I do.  Our first job was to catch his baby, trim his feet, tie him up, and make sure he loads.  While we were doing this we chatted horses.  Ken has a lovely, lovely 3 year old that was his top futurity prospect (cutting).  She got caught up in oil lease wire and tore the tar outta her hock.  It was heartbreaking because she's now worth virtually nothing and the oil company won't pay the vet bill (1900 and counting) or loss of value.  He is understandably frustrated.   We went and looked at his weanlings.  I picked out my favorite.  *huge smile*

Next I worked Ryder.  He gave me some feedback on things I'm doing and gave me some things to think about.  On leash Ryder was really weird.  Ken has a young guardian pup that Ryder took a dislike to.  No ruffled back, just growling.  I could lie Ryder down, move him around, have him focus on me.  Yet he continued to growl at the pup.  Any suggestions for making him "give up" the behavior?  He was completely in control and didn't make any negative moves towards the other dog.  Just staying in heel or sit/stay.  But growled.  Big sigh.  He's normally so soft so I was slightly startled that he was that determined to keep growling.

Afterwards horse was loaded, dogs had a potty break and we hit the road.  Once home at the farm, Guinness was a naughty brat who decided he was not leading.  Not. For.  Anything.  Yes, it's timely he comes home for some work.

Here's his new bud.  (As of yet - no name.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dog Fun

The dogs and I went to an agility trainer for a private lesson today.  It was lots and lots of fun!  We went to work with Justine who has an outstanding reputation as an agility trainer.  I decided to start with Diva, as she can be the most tricky to deal with.  I was impressed with the fact that we were able to engage Diva in play.  This is a milestone for us and so very exciting!  We worked on playing.  We worked on turning tight circles in both directions.  We worked on a sit/stay/release and sit/stay with distraction.  This is something Diva struggles with (and because she struggles - so do I.)  We worked on going around an obstacle (jump standard) with speed and enthusiasm.   What left me thrilled was how happy she was.  Her little tail flagged in the air, and her mouth seemed to smile.  She was relaxed, not stressed as we worked through the activities.  She even engaged in play with Justine.  (Diva's not one for strangers.)  

Putting her back in the truck I grabbed Ryder.  Justine broke into a smile when I grabbed the flying squirrel and Ryder enthusiastically went chasing after it.  We started out with some play.  Next we worked on big circles and tacked on a "here" command.  Ryder also worked on the jump standard exercise.  One that he found hard was to stand on a Rubbermaid tub.  We wanted to help him become more aware of his space and body.  Right now I'm using treats to lure him onto it, but that'll be extinguished as time goes on.  We also did an activity where only his hind feet stayed on tub and his front feet stayed on the ground.  We did ready set go with him which he was quite good at.  And the icing on the cake was he got to do the tunnel.  He cracked me up because once he figured out what to do  he'd retrieve his toy and come back through the tunnel.  Too funny!  The next step is to chain a circle onto the end of the tunnel.  

Overall I'm thrilled with how are day went.  I'm happy to have some exercises we can easily do at home to help keep them busy mentally.  I even play to teach this stuff to Tessa.  

Doesn't Ryder look happy with himself?
(Sorry his eyes look strange - I tried to remove the crazy glow look and this is what I ended up with...)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ooo! Ooooh! I Gotta Plan!

A stroke of brilliance came upon me as I was driving home yesterday.  (While I was listening to that song that goes "Ooooo!  Oh!  I gotta feeling!")  *humming*  I need... er.... want a buddy for Guinness.  I also need to pay for school.  This was putting me in a bit of a quandary.  But in a moment of genius it occurred to me that my buddy Ken has a gazillion horses.

Tonight I called him up and outlined my plan.  Surprised he was happy to agree (once he realized it wouldn't cost him anything).  I'll be driving to Drayton Valley to pick up one of his yearlings.  I'll keep it here, play with it when I play with Guinness, and give it lot's of regular handling.  When he's ready to start we can switch it out with something different.  This is optimal for me.  It won't cost me anything and solves my problem of having Guinness either live alone or having to buy something to keep him company.

An absolute win-win situation as far as I'm concerned.  Now cross your fingers that this wonderful mild weather we're having here stays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And Then Plan B Kicked In

Isn't it funny how things change.  Two hours ago I was on the phone talking horses.  Making plans to go view some young horses.  And then an email hit my Blackberry changing those plans.  I had sent out queries to a variety of universities regarding graduate programs.  Yesterday I received some information back from the University of Portland.  (My first choice.)

Today I received an email from the program coordinator.  I quickly hopped on the phone and a short conversation later I was on a completely different path.  As of thirty minutes ago, I became enroute to starting official graduate classes for a Master of Education in Educational Leadership.  I start classes in January, which means I'm now scrambling to gather paperwork and money.  Mostly because I wasn't expecting things to move quite this quickly.  (Someone canceled their spot!)  My first class is January 19th!

This means I really don't have the money for another horse - even if it is bargain basement.  The young horse project will need to wait.  Big sigh.

Monday, December 19, 2011


For all my doggy people out there...
How old should a dog be when you do all the testing (for example hips)?
What are some great tricks or games to play with your dog?

For my horsey people...
This is Izzy's full sister - 2011 version.  I've been pondering a buddy for Guinness.  Then I'd move him (and company) here.  I don't really like him hanging around with the big horses all the time.  I'd have to go look at her.  She may not be what I like or want.  But would have potential as a cutter - her grandsire would be Guinness' dad.

(Picture owned by Bar XS Ranch.)

(This image owned by Painted River Ranch.)
Or this lovely filly - not a cutting prospect but fits my color scheme... these breeders have an outstanding reputation of having wonderful dispositions in their horses. She's a 2010 version, so would not put pressure on the bank account over training all at the same time.  This filly is bred to show, not cut, but would make a nice all around.  However, there is Guinness as my all around prospect.

Well?  Am I nuts?  Or do I just need something more to do?  What would you do?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Be Still My Heart

Last night, as I pulled my truck into the garage, Diva shot out.  Cursing under my breath I parked, closed the big door, gave Ryder some love and unloaded my stuff.  My next big move was to head into the house for some highly motivating food.

Knowing Diva likes to play the "can't catch me, I'm a little #$@$^ game" I purposefully went to the back deck door.  Flipping on the deck lights I could see the little rotter sitting out there.  Perky as you please.  Taking a deep breath, trying to create positive energy waves, I opened the door.  As I pulled open the door the strangest thing happened.  Diva came bolting, full speed for me.  As she joyfully greeted me, I gave her a dehydrated fish bite.  I was slightly stunned.  Tonight the same thing happened.  And. She. Came. Running.

I must admit I've gotten so used to her being naughty I'm not entirely sure what to think.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Can I stick with it??

I've laid out my current action plan.  I'm really hopeful this may be realistic and achievable.

I'll put it into action during break as there are simply too many interruptions right now to be consistent.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings - prior to work - run on treadmill.
Each morning the dogs get a short "cardio" prior to work.
Tuesday and Thursday evenings I'd like to start a hot yoga class.  (If not something else physical.)
Each evening do the subdivision loop - (2.2 k or about 1.5 miles) - with the dogs.
Each evening do 5-10 minutes of "mental" work with each dog.  Either tricks, obedience training, etc.

Weekends are free.  Meaning I can do what I want - likely some herding and hopefully some riding.  The horse stuff is out on weekdays unless I want to haul to a stable and that has it's own inherent challenges in winter.  (No light and cold weather with outside horse.)

We shall see how I do...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Goal Setting

I've become leery of setting goals with my animals.  It seems we've been spending more time on plan B than anything.  That being said, this is the time of year when I begin thinking about goals.  So here's to Plan A!

Goal One:
I want to ride more.  Even in winter, even when my horse is not in a warm cushy stable.  Yup, I need to stop being so wussy.  I want to ride bareback - which based on Bacardi's behavior the other day may be a poor decision.  I'm looking forward to riding over winter break with Jason.  I miss being around him and Chrissy.  I miss being at the barn.

Goal Two:
I will have Ryder ready to stretch out his drive and outrun come spring.  He'll know his direction commands.  I will do something, anything with Diva.  I plan to take a tracking course come spring with them.  Here's hoping one or the other (preferably Diva) likes it.

Goal Three:
I will make it to the UK and work dogs at some point in the next 12 months.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Settling In

I've been slowly settling into my new house.  My kitchen is undergoing phase two of organization as I've decided I need to move my baking stuff.  The living room now has a TV (after weeks!!), and the lone two couches.  More furniture will be purchased once I get myself a bit more organized.  The biggest accomplishment was taking Tessa's pics to the framing shop.  A couple of years ago I had professional pictures of Tessa taken on sheep.  She's ridiculously camera shy so this is no easy feat.  I'm super excited to get them back.  (The framing was more than the bloody pictures!!)

The dogs are slowly settling in.  Tessa's having a tough time.  Part of this could be winter - last winter was brutal for her.  Part of this is most definitely the move.  She's doing more "crazy" things.  Staring into space.  Putting herself to bed.  Getting confused.  Refusing to go potty outside.  (Which wreaks havoc with my morning routine and getting to work.)  It's pretty clear her hearing and eye sight has deteriorated since summer.   Ryder is such an amazing boy.  I'm blessed he made his way back into my life.  He takes the toys to Tess.  He sniffs and cleans her bum - especially after she's been outside.  When she's having a really bad day, he licks her face, and lays near her.  I've started contemplating how to tell my class she may not make the winter.  She'll be in as "guest" teacher next week for a day.  I'm also blessed my administration supports having her in my room. (I'm regularly approached by staff requesting her.)

As Tessa ages, I'm very careful with her when she's around the kids.  At one time I would have no qualms.  I need to keep her safe, especially when she's tired.  I need to make sure the kids don't maul her.  This group is really good.  They respect her and when I tell them she needs a nap they leave her be.  It never fails to amaze me how she picks the kids that need her the most to be around.  It never fails to amaze me how joyful they become with her.  I know she'll be a calming influence with the Christmas crazies quickly approaching.  (We go right up to the 23rd.)  But I also know the days are limited that she'll be strong enough to handle a busy classroom environment.

Diva has not been good with Tessa's decline.  She's taking the attitude of wanting to be Queen Bee.  This creates work for me, but we're managing the situation.  On the positive side, Diva's been wanting to engage in play more often, and seems to be developing a stronger attachment to me.  Her recall still stinks.  But is sloooooooowwwwwwwlllllly improving.  On the negative side, Ryder was a little bully at the dog park last weekend.  Clearly I need to get back to doing some work with him that way.  He was very ruffled when we were leaving.  Need to get him out more and reinforce his manners.  Part of the problem is he wants to protect me.  But he must learn when this is appropriate behavior.  (For example someone breaking into the house - appropriate for him to react.)

Pictures to follow tomorrow of my favorite house feature!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Little Research

I've been doing some research into the whole search and rescue thing.  Diva, unfortunately, very likely wouldn't pass their tests - due to some of her quirks.  Maybe time and training will change that.  Ryder, probably would.  I emailed the Edmonton region group to get some more information.  I think to begin with I'd like to take a lesson or two with a tracking person and see what happens.  I'd like to take both young dogs and get an assessment done with a qualified person to see if they have any talent or interest.

And from there I'll make some decisions.  The SAR lady gave me an email of a person she recommends for tracking training, so that's my next step.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Moments That Define Us

This week was a horrifically scary one for me.  One of the days after school when a wee little student should have met their mother after school, they didn't show up.  We systematically searched classrooms, and under playground equipment.  We looked through the eyes of a six year old and tried to think like one. The police were notified.  After 40 minutes had passes another parent phoned it.  A student had shown up at their house, but while they were on the phone with the school, this student disappeared.  With a neighborhood narrowed down and our daylight quickly waning, we quickly hopped into our vehicles and began searching for the little one.  With our area clear we moved on to another area, phoning it in we received the good news.  A completely different parent saw the little one wandering and picked them up.  We had our happy ending but the outcome could have been different.  It was an hour of searching for this child.  Worrying.

This was a defining moment for me.  It made me wonder if my dogs would be capable of searching for the child had the situation been different.  It's something that I may look into.  Who knows, maybe this is where Diva with her strong prey drive and athletic ability, has a talent.  Ryder I think would be too sensitive.  Something to consider.  I may have to google it and learn some more.

I know, I know.  I shouldn't consider putting more on my plate.  I really should finish training Ryder on sheep.  I should just focus on one thing.  Time will tell which road I take...