Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Spirit

We hosted Honey's family Christmas Eve for dinner.  I was a bit anxious about how the dogs would handle the influx of people.  As a precaution they both had on new pheromone collars and I put Ryder in his ThunderShirt.

They were awesome.

They didn't bark when each car load arrived.  They both watched cautiously.  Ryder carried around his beloved toy. And Diva stayed in her favorite spot beside the coach.  While I worked in the kitchen, Ryder followed me around, and Diva (!!!) explored the new people by sniffing them.  Both dogs were tired by the time our company left.

But they behaved appropriately the entire 9 hours we had people in the house.  I was very pleased with them.

Monday, December 23, 2013

And Then...

There we were.  Honey was upstairs watching hockey.  I know.  The Canadian cliche.  J and I were downstairs, snuggled under blankets, watching TV.  The dogs were with us and I was lazily throwing the toy.  Ryder had already had a big play day and was tired.  Diva had taken up the gauntlet ensuring  the dog toy stayed in use.  She would proudly hop up and snuggle into my side.  J pops his hand out reaching towards Diva. She reaches her nose towards him, giving a wag and a quick lick to his fingers.  I'm not going to lie.  Diva is a glutton and he was eating chips...

But then it happened.  He petted her.  And she didn't spaz.  As a reward she may have gotten a tiny bit of chip.  Over the last two nights, while sitting together he has been able to pet her.  The next step is to have him stand by himself and feed her treats with me standing in intervention distance.  Touch wood.  She has been better around him.  I'm ever so hopeful that she becomes more trustworthy around him. The next two weeks will be great for Diva as we have J for a nice long stretch.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why Not Diva?

You may have noticed that Diva doesn't take a starring role on this blog.  So, why not Diva?  Well, it's simple really.  Diva is the dog I'm currently worried about.  I'm trying to get her to settle in as a "family" dog.  This seems to take one step forward and two back.  The other reason is Diva loves, loves, loves to work.  It is a very snowy winter here with snow well over my knees.  This is not conducive to working dogs.

I had found these pictures of Diva on my laptop.  I had quite forgotten about them.  I'm thinking I haven't posted them, and if I have here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Learning how to drive. 


Fetching the sheep. 


Circle work.  Or "Get OUT!"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's a Dog's Life

It has been blooming cold here.  Minus Frigid is how I like to describe it.  I had to laugh when I read Liz's post about dressing for weather.  I wear Arctic quality clothing.  And I'm not ashamed to admit it. How cold was it?  It was around the -40s (C).  We've had two weeks of unrelenting cold and a whole lotta snow.  This has been hard on the dogs.  To pass time and keep them mentally fresh I've been playing with them in the house.  Ryder is slated to enter his first series of agility classes in January.  Luke's owner has been giving us some activities to work on.  Ryder loves this stuff.  Today - be proud - be very proud because I managed to haul the camera out.

And viola!  Pictures!

Waiting for Diva... 

Watching for Ryder's "attack". 


The chase is on! 


Playing is soooo much fun! 


"I'm gonna git ya!" 


Must. Catch. Ryder. 


Freeeeedoooommmmm! 


I love my new bed. 


Standing on wobble disk. 


Standing on fireplace. 


Other end on fireplace.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Milestones

Today I submitted my capstone.  This means I'm on track to receiving my Masters of Education in Educational Leadership.  In approximately four weeks I'll have more letters to string behind my name.  In approximately four weeks I won't have any more papers to write or classes to go to.  For two years I've lived in a permanent tired state.  I've been short on time and cash.  My poor dogs suffered long stints of no training or exercise.  The horses were sacrificed.  Sent on to better homes with people who had time and energy to do them right.

Whatever will I do?

I'll take Ryder to an agility class.
I'll read for pleasure.  Renew the county library card I've let lapse.
I'm investigating finding a lease horse to ride a couple times a week.
I'll take yoga classes.  Drink coffee with friends.
I'll dust off my very nice skis and head to the mountains.
I'll sit and watch the world move past.

I'll savour the moment.  And yes, I'll probably find some other class to take.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

And There's The Turn

Life is never stagnant.  The road you travel never seems to stay straight.  Just when you think you've got it figured out... Bam! Unexpected twist. You may know that Honey has moved in with me and the fur family.  What you may not know is that he as an eleven year old son.  J lives with his mom and we get him part time.  J's mom called today.  They have a nine month old puppy Shar Pei.  Maggie.  Well, J's mom also has a baby, and two other young children.  Do you see where this is heading?

Long story short, J's mom can't handle the puppy.  J loves this creature in the way little boy's love their dogs.

A question was asked.

A conversation had.

And a tentative solution to the problem found.

Maggie will move in with us beginning at Christmas break.  When J comes here, he'll bring her and we'll start the transition for all the animals.  I'm investigating puppy classes to take her to.  J and I will do that together.

One thing is for sure... Life is never dull around here.  (Did I mention she as NO training???) Let the good times roll...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Soon

Soon I will have cute pictures of my fur family.

Soon I will have time.

Soon Ryder's interventions will work.  His ThunderShirt and pheromone defusing collar will help him gain weight and stop stressing.

Soon I'll stop worrying about the dogs.  Right?

Soon, I'll work Diva on sheep and Ryder will get consistent agility training.

Soon, right?

Soon Whiskey goes to the farm for the winter.

Soon my father will stop calling me to check on the horse.

Soon Honey will be moved in and regular routines will once again be established.

Soon.

Soon I'll crack down and finish my Capstone (thesis).

Soon, it's due December 3rd.

Soon I'll finish writing report cards and have free evenings.

Soon, the due date is in two weeks.

Soon I'll regularly get my exercise.

Soon I'll stumble upon the right antibiotic for the infection I'm fighting.

Soon, right?

Soon I'll have time to read for pleasure.

Soon.

Everything is soon.

Soon.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Part A

Things have been alarmingly busy.  The vet was out last Saturday.  Whiskey was checked.  She is pregnant with an anticipated end of May, beginning of June baby.  She has nerve damage and accompanying atrophied muscle along her rib cage.  I asked the vet about natural solutions for Ryder.  He'll be getting a ThunderShirt, as well I'll use DAP- a scent diffuser, in addition to a supplement on his food containing casein.  We'll try this first to help his anxiety.  We'll stay away from herding and do more play based things for stimulation. I want to give it a month before taking him to the vet for an evaluation.

Part B will include pictures....

Monday, October 7, 2013

Home

12 hours.

Over 1000 kilometres.

Home Sweet Home.

Whiskey is home.

Selling her was hands down one of the stupidest things I've ever done.  It was a mistake.  What I now have sitting in my field is a horse who has major, major skin nasties.  A horse who has not had her feet done in at least 6 months.  A horse who may or may not be bred.  A horse who is not nearly as plump as a horse coming off summer pasture should be.  And a horse who has a bizarre indent along her rib cage.  That being said, I also have a calm good natured and friendly mare sitting in my field.  I've placed a call to the farrier and am waiting to hear back.  The vet is coming on Saturday to preg check her and give me some guidance with the other things going on.

I have a new appreciation for my honey who drove with me.  Who also looked at me and never questioned my need to have this horse back.  I could not bear it if she had ended up in a meat pen.  She will live out her life with me.  I love this horse so much.  I spent much of my free time standing beside her, scratching her and breathing in her sweet horsey scent.

And that my friends, is priceless.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Connecting The Dots

Today I had an ah-ha moment.  We were sitting at the lunch table while at work and I was talking about Ryder.  I happen to work with many animal loving coworkers.  I was telling them how he's been shedding like a freak show.  How I was trying Cod Liver oil to see if it helped.  Someone asked if he always was a heavy shedder.  I explained it was only since summer that I really noticed.  I can fill buckets with his hair when I brush him.  And I brush him weekly.  We discussed various options for heavy shredders.

When suddenly one of my coworkers piped up.  Stress.  It's stress.  Look at all the changes in his little world.  I began to connect the dots.  1) struggling with training while working stock, not wanting to work 2) becoming naughty: ignoring his name, leaving the yard, bratty leash manners 3) shedding like a fool 4) almost daily diarrhea 5) licking everything in sight including himself.  I did a quick Google search.  Viola! Dog stress results... Lined up.

It seems that my dog is stressed according to my unofficial diagnosis.  I want to try some herbal solutions first before seeking vet solutions.  Fingers crossed for my Ryder boy.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lesson on Fun

If you know me in real life you would know that I'm driven.  I can be a wee bit intense.  While I have fun with my animals, I'm also slightly serious about my fun.  Which probably makes my fun less fun for the dogs.  Luke's owner kindly agreed to give me some guidance with Ryder's agility foundation.  We worked on "dig" and I learned how to better progress through the drill.  Ryder is extremely quick which is challenging for me.

I've actually started a paper journal to write down my "instructions" so I don't forget.  It'll be nice to have some new games to play with him.  My Honey thought that Ryder definitely showed more enthusiasm for the agility.  I've suspected this but will keep working on both herding and agility games.  Honey has gone with me to Ken's and worked dogs there, as well as Stacy's to do agility games.  I wanted him to see both worlds so he can understand some of the nuances.  Then, if he wants, he can dip his toes into one or both worlds.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Trust The Gut

I've had a weird feeling.  One that kept nagging at me.  Acting on it, I fired off a casual message.  I was less than impressed with what I got back.  That weird feeling I had was about Whiskey.  I just felt something wasn't right.  And my gut was spot on.

Even though I'd requested a buy back clause Whiskey was for sale.  I had not been contacted.  Listening to my gut paid off.  I'll be northern bound to get my horse back.  She won't leave my hands again.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Have Not Forgotten

I'm still around.  I have not forgotten about Blogger.  I miss my "blog" friends.  I'm just busy.  Stupid ridiculous, sleep the sleep of the dead busy...   Here is a brief update.  Diva is a herding superstar but is beginning to act naughty now that I'm back to work and she's not getting as much stimulation.  Ryder is suffering from a delayed teenage stage and is also somewhat naughty.  He was melting down from training pressures so am supplementing him with agility games.  This seems to help.  He is a playing fool.  I've also been doing a lot of therapy on my back, trying to get it functional.  This is sucking great amounts of time from me.  I started Moksha Yoga and I love it.  Right up my alley.  There will be no running this winter as I work on functional muscle strength.  I'm in my final semester of university and looking forward to a break.  I also met someone who is great and awesome and all things amazing.  This has also been sucking up some serious time.  The bonus is he loves my dogs and we've been able to do lots together with them.

I'm hopeful things will slow down and I can catch up on some reading...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ryder Bootcamp: Continuation

I've continued working with Ryder on his little skills.  It's interesting, for herding work he often has to be on one side or the other by my leg.  I've discovered he does not transfer this skill to being on the lawn.  I've started doing some circle work.  Asking him to stay by my leg as we walk a circle.  This is HARD!  He wants to cross behind me or circle around my legs.  I've also noticed he resists sitting by my leg.  He prefers to sit in front of me.  These are things we've been focusing on.

He also seems to have figured out the go around the tree thing, or dig exercise.  I'm afraid he may link it with his name because I'm always patting my leg trying to get him to line up nicely, when he perks up and bolts around the tree.  I've been rewarding him for going around the tree even though he didn't do exactly what I want.

I've also noticed that as we play these agility games his energy increases where as with the herding it decreases.  I'm not sure if either is a good or bad thing.  I suppose time will tell.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ryder Bootcamp: Day Two

Today I switched stuff up by playing fetch and toileting the dogs first.  We are under a severe thunderstorm warning right now and the sky is rumbling away.  Ryder hates storms.  He gets anxious and does things like chew on himself, bark, whine and hides.  I've been working with him by having exciting play during storms.  It seems to have decreased the severity of his reactions.

Our first activity was the dig foundation.  I don't have a pole so have been using a tree.  This is our hardest activity.  I have a really hard time just standing there waiting for him to offer me stuff.  He has a really hard time figuring out what to do without my intervention.  I've been resisting helping him.  Today I used treats as his reward.  He was definitely slower to go around the tree.  I did have to call him back because he'd bugger off, wanting to hide by a tree (thunder).

Moving inside I did more target training.  He is pretty good with the plastic lid so I moved further away from it to see if he'd continue to be as consistent.  After a little bit of thinking time he began nosing the lid and moving between the two of us. Next I did hand targets.  He's far quicker with the right hand when compared to the left hand.  All the time the thunder rumbled.  He was definitely less focused today.  As I type this he's hiding under my bed....

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ryder Bootcamp: Day One

Yesterday was the puppy three year birthday.  I met up with Luke's owner and we went for a lovely walk along the river.  The dogs always have a great time with her pack.  It's peaceful and enjoyable.  After she had Luke show off some of his agility skills.  She took the time to do some agility games with Ryder.  He had lots of fun and has decided she's his new favorite person!

There are no agility classes starting until November so I'll be relying on her expertise to teach him new skills until then.  Based on his behaviour I've been giving him minimal herding work and today started him on agility Bootcamp.

We worked on targets.  I used a plastic lid and every time he nosed it I gave him a treat.  It was great seeing his tail wag.  Next we did hand targets.  I held out my hand and waited for him to nose it.  When he touched it I gave him a treat.  I made sure to use both sides.

After working on targets I switched to toys to figure out his favorite toys.  In order his favourites are: flying squirrel, boomerang, tug rope, holey ball.

We next went outside where I had him work on the foundation for dig.  We lined up at a tree and if he went around it he got the flying squirrel.  He prefers being on my right side so I need to work on getting him comfortable on the left side.  He is starting to catch on.  I had to bump him onto his feet a few times as he was convinced he could stare the toy into his mouth.

We finished with a fun game of fetch.  He took his waiting turn so Diva could also get in on the action.  Overall, it was a good start.  I was pleased with how eager he was.  My goal is to maintain this enthusiasm.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Inner Diva

Ryder has been developing his inner Diva.  When we go out to the farm I've been working on having both dogs off leash.  I don't want to rely on a leash for manners with the dogs.  Ryder has been working and listening off leash for months now.  Twice now.  Two days in a row he's bolted towards the sheep and helped himself. He handily ignored my request to lie down or recall.  After a second or two of stunned, I raced towards the sheep.  My goal was to cut him off at the pass.  I have a buggy whip with a plastic bag on the end.  Both dogs hate it.

Running flat out I raise and rattle the flag, shouting get out, I drive into his path.  The flag slaps on the ground and Ryder stops his runaway.  I won't lie.  It was rather challenging to regain my zen...   Chasing him out of the field I go back to our normal entrance and call him to me.  He does it again!!!! So there I am repeating the process.  And Diva? Diva is waiting patiently at the gate where I left her.  Seriously.

Ryder has just been straight naughty lately.  He's stolen toys off the table (supervised play only).  He's been jumping up on me.  He's been demonstrating poor leash manners.  He's clearly sending me a message.  I'll take him for his yearly and rule out physical problem. Thinking back his bad behaviour didn't begin until he was getting worked regularly.  Is it too much for him?  Too much pressure causing a delayed teenage reaction?

I'm looking into some agility classes for him.  It's not my thing but he has an incredible play drive and maybe a change of pace is just what he needs.  I'll also focus on basic obedience at home.  I've got to admit, I never thought I'd see the day when Diva was the better behaved listener of the two...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Out of Character

Ryder who is normally a pretty steady guy has been acting out of character.  It worries me.  I've discovered that the daily sheep works are working wonders with Diva.  She's steadier and has begun appropriately greeting strange people and dogs with no prompting from me.  Ryder has gone the other way.

My house is located near the mailboxes for the subdivision.  Yesterday while I was working in the yard, Ryder left the yard madly barking at some poor lady who was collecting her mail.  He has never done anything like that before.  He has been really friendly with people so it's quite out of character.

Last night we were walking our subdivision loop.  Ryder reacted so violently at a passing dog that he tore a hunk of skin off my finger.  The leash ripped through my hand and he ran at the other walker and dog.  Thank goodness he just checked out the dog and didn't do anything worse.  I'm a bit puzzled about how he's been reacting to things.

I'm not sure how to deal with it.  I plan to take him to town alone and work with him on his leash manners and socialization.   I am worried about him.  He's normally such a gentle soul it bothers me when he acts poorly.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Lure

Because I'm mildly obsessive compulsive I've been pondering the horsey future.  Here's the deal: Jason would love to see me on a nice high end cutter/cutter prospect. I'd also really enjoy that.  Love it in fact.  The truth is most cutters, even good ones have some quirks.

After riding Ken's Popeye who is broke, broke, broke.... I'm a bit tempted to change paths.  It had been so long since I got on a horse and didn't have to be "alert" that I almost didn't know what to do with myself.  It was peaceful and enjoyable.  It created a powerful lure.  I'm being lured into a steady eddy kind of horse.  An uncomplicated ride. Something I can get on and do a variety of events on.

I have a long time before I need to make decisions.  But that lure, that was some potent stuff...

Friday, July 26, 2013

It Is Not Like Riding a Bike

You know how they say once you know how to ride a bike you never forget?  You can take time off, then hop on and off you go.

Yeah.

Roping, not so much...

I spent yesterday at Ken's I was up before six and on the road by seven.  I pulled into his yard at nine.  By ten we had horses saddled and were out in the pasture.  By pasture I mean 160 acres.  He wanted some help doctoring a cow and he needed to tag and vaccinate some late calves.  I was stoked.  This sounded like a ridiculous amount of fun!  After all I used to team rope...  I could totally do this...

The reality:

I was riding a horse I'd rode twice before.  It was my first time on a horse in close to a year.  I haven't picked up a rope in over 8 years.  I haven't done any pasture work in over 13 years.  And my personal favorite, Ken does not put rubber on his horn (this stops the rope from sliding when you dally).

Yeah....

We started off with Ken roping some calves.  He was riding a jittery gorgeous grey gelding.  It was a footstep away from being a wreck of epic proportions with the first calf.  The horse went up, Ken went to the side, his foot looking like it wanted to hang up in the stirrup, calf jumping around on the end of the rope...  He managed to get clear, get his horse working, and get the calf safely treated.  There's something so special about watching the little gaffers trotting off with their new ear tags flapping.  We settled in to work.  Ken roping and I held the herd in one spot.

We worked our way to the section where a lame cow was.  My job was to rope the cow.  Ken said she was pretty spicy so I should wear her out (lope her around) before roping her.  Yeah.  She was more than a little spicy.  Ken finally stepped in with his horse and ran her to a stop.  I looked at him and told him I thought she was ok.  She was moving fine on her foot.  I couldn't see any swelling or ickies in her hoof.  We decided she was on the mend and didn't need any intervention.  At this point Ken decided I should start roping calves.

Throw.  Miss.  Throw.  Miss.  Trying to get the horse to work for me.  Sigh.  Finding a calf lying down I threw and caught.  Dallied.  And couldn't figure out why the calf kept getting further and further away.  The dally was sliding with no rubber.  I'd like to add the calf was no longer sleeping peacefully...   Looking down and realizing my finger was in a very dangerous spot I undallied, and tried to pull the rope.  Meanwhile, the horse was not cooperating.  When the dust finally settle I had no coils in my hand, and an angry momma cow following as I dragged her calf to higher ground.  (It was in a low spot - read wet.)   It was ridiculous.

It was also a ridiculous amount of fun.  If I'm going to be doing more of this I'm going to be borrowing a friend's rope saddle, complete with rubber on the horn.  I'll also spend some time dummy roping.

I had forgot how much work roping was.  My entire body hurts.  While I was roping my hands hurt (why I was at Neurologists last week), but I didn't get really bad tremors.  I don't know if physically I can do this as a hobby, but I think I'll work at it a bit and test the waters.

I'm still smiling.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

So. Much. Fun.

Yesterday was a herding extravaganza for me.  I had a chiropractor appointment early in the morning.   I quickly rushed out to grab the dogs to get in a quick work following it.  You see, I had company coming.  I had one of my puppy connections connection coming out to work his dog on sheep for the first time.  This dog kinda has a Diva-ish reputation.  She has been a challenge for the owners.  I was prepared for a cross between a marathon and a train wreck.

She turned out to be delightful.  She was natural and soft on the sheep.  Lovely.  It was so much fun watching the owners eyes light up with joy when they saw how content their little whirling dervish was.  I love sharing the joy of herding.  Heck, I just love teaching people new things.  I am by no means a herding expert or professional.  Just someone who has gained knowledge from other people and learned from my mistakes.

I ended up spending over four hours working dogs.  I'm pretty sure the sheep didn't find it as joyful as the rest of us...

My new friends are coming out again on Sunday for another work. I am so happy their little dog has found it's niche in life.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yard Work

I've been working on my yard since my return from the US.  The previous owners either over planted or didn't keep up with the perennial beds.  They were a mess.  Last fall I cleaned out a truck load of plants.    The remaining plants that grew back are headed towards my sewage mound which I'm turning into a wildflower bed.  

This is the "cleaned" bed.  It took me about 6 hours to get all the weeds and plants out.  I'm leaving two rose bushes and the lillies.  Love lillies...

This is the sewage mound with sprayed grass and some of the perennials planted.  I plan to put down a wildflower seed mix on the rest.

This is the second bed that is still infested with weeds.  I need to move perennials, leave the lillies (they'll eventually end up in the other bed) and pull and spray the weeds.

This is my third perennial bed.  It was an overgrown mass of plants.  Because I managed to get most, it's now an overgrown mass of weeds.  I'll clean it up and begin the process of grooming it for other plants.  I haven't quite decided what I want to put there.

This is my other project.  There had been a junk shed here.  I moved a lot of junk and weeds from the area last year.  It's had two sprays this year.  Now I'll clean up the remaining weeds, removing the final bits and pieces of junk, put down some top soil and reseed it as grass.  Eventually I want to make it part of the dog run.  (I have enough panels.)

Here is my garden.  It's taken a beating with the weather we've had this year.  My poor corn is super stunted and some of my cucumber plants didn't survive.  I'll need to prune my tomato plants this week and give everything a shot of fertilizer.

This is one of my favorite plants.  I have two decks.  One north facing and one south facing.  This guy loves the shady north deck!

My favorite pansies.  Probably the only plant on my property that's doing well.  (Besides weeds...)

This little guy seems to prefer the cool rainy weather.  I think it's the pot.  I've decided next year the pot will get shade plants.

One of my front entrance barrels.  I put flax as the center piece but it HATED the rain and is quite stunted.

Love the colors here, but again with the rain they aren't as happy as they could be.  Time to deadhead...

This was one of my south deck "surprise" pots.  I had planted nicotia and wave petunias...  The nicotia must have been mislabeled because it was giant!  And the waves have done some very interesting things.  I put in a black petunia for interest but it's getting buried under the other plants.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stress Is The Devil

Here I am.  Changing my ways.  Honestly!

I have decided that stress is the devil.  I am by nature a worrier. This is not something that's particularly healthy.  In some ways it's hard because my life is filled to the brim with stress.  If I can't eliminate the stressors I certainly can improve my coping skills.  Today I had a wake up call.  I was at the Neurologists.  Yes, Neurologist.  They weighed me.  While I knew I'd "chunked" up with the back injury I was horrified to get my weight.  This to me is indicative of the stress in my life.  Both of which I must shed.

Goal One: probably the most painful for me as I'm a die-hard Starbucks and Iced Tea Addict... to significantly reduce the amount of caffeine in my diet.  As I type, I'm sipping on Iced Earl Grey Tea - caffeine free.

Goal Two: get my mom into a doctor before summer is out.  My mom is becoming increasingly forgetful and we have Dementia (Alzheimer's) in the family on my maternal side.  It's to the point where it's not just age related.  I've worried, and worried about her.  No more.  It's time for some action.  I'll get some advice on how best to approach it and have a respectful conversation with her.

Goal Three: bite the bullet and write my capstone paper (like a Thesis).  This has been stressing me and it's time for it to get finished.  Once it's finished I won't have the time pressure to complete it.

Goal Four: begin physical fitness routine.  This is for me one of my best coping strategies.  I want to run regularly (as I prefer dog friendly activities).  I'll also add in yoga, swimming or cycling.  Right now I'm leaning towards yoga because it's something I've really enjoyed in the past.

Goal Five:  Nutrition.  I've been eating a lot of junk.  This is really hard on my system.  It's time to get strict and follow a Mediterranean diet.  Not fun and not my preferred way of eating.  But if I can do it through the summer I think I'll have balanced myself out that I can relax it once work begins again.

Goal Six: Animal and Nature time.  I've rediscovered how balanced and peaceful I feel when training the dogs.  For a long time I lost my Zen when working the dogs.  But it's back.  I'm able to be in the moment.  This is key.  I've been reworking my perennial beds and transferring the sewage mound.  I want to have wildflowers on the mound.  In my back perennial bed I want to have lillies and in the front bed roses and daffodils, maybe something else.  I've also got areas I'm reseeding with grass.  It's supposed to be nice so I'll take some pictures of my projects.  These things help me release physical stress but also bring me peace.  It grounds me to dig in the dirt.    Getting riding time is also important to add in.

I figure I have six weeks to focus on resetting myself.  I'm committing the summer to to me.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

University Trip

This past week I've spent it on campus at University of Portland in the lovely city of Portland, Oregon.  As a general rule I used to travel a fair amount, and I quite enjoyed it.  I'm relatively well traveled with destinations in Europe, Cuba, Quebec, all of North West US, Maui, San Francisco, and so on.  As my animal family increased my world travel decreased...  Now, I have trouble leaving the dogs behind.  I always feel slightly guilty and homesick.

Portland was quite a clean and friendly city.  I live in a city that is fairly large.  The greater Edmonton area has around 1 million people.  The greater Portland area has around 2 million, so double in size.  There were about 20 of us, who traveled from Edmonton to satisfy the residency requirement.  This is something we all needed to do to qualify for our degree.  Three of us had agreed to rent a car together.  Unfortunately the campus was not easily accessible by public transit.  Big mistake.  HUGE.  The one woman (my age), insisted on renting early.  This meant it was in her name.  Being cheap I decided to save $100 and not put my name on the car.  Another large mistake.  Unfortunately the lady who drove talked big (world traveler) but was awful behind the wheel.  She cried when we made wrong turns...  She had no sense of direction.  Or even common sense.  It quite blew me away.  It made for an unpleasant tourist experience.  I eventually ditched her and started sight seeing and shopping with others.  (We did have classes but did things around them.)

One of the fun activities we did was the BrewCycle.  Another of the things we did that made me particularly happy was visit one of the professors who happens to live in the country.  I was so happy to be surrounded by the stunning vegetation and trees.  My favorite shopping experience was the Woodburn Outlet Mall.  It was here that I bought my running shoes for close to half off.  Thrilled.  I was thrilled!

Last night when my plane touched down, I will also admit to being very happy to be back on Canadian soil and headed home to my little dogs.  It's nice to go and see but it's better to come home.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How The Mighty Fall

All week I've been working the dogs twice a day.  I drive out in the morning and give them a hefty work while the grass is still wet with dew and the temperatures are cooler.  Then I drive back out in the evening and give them a lighter work.  While I was babysitting the farm I noticed an ewe with pink eye.  When my parents came back dad and I sorted her out.  In addition we vaccinated and sheared some of the woolies.  Ryder helped us pen.  My dad was astounded.  He kept saying what a nice dog he was.  The only road block was when dad grabbed the paddle.  Ryder heard it and buggered off of context.  It was really hard to get him to work when dad put any pressure on the sheep.  It was quite clear the dog was scared.  No paddle equaled a wonderful working partner.  I think my strategy will be to have dad rattle the paddle and feed Ryder Treats until he sees he won't be hurt.

Yesterday both dogs gave me a smoking awesome work in the morning.  Such a good work that when I got home I began looking to see if there were any trials nearby that would be around end of July.  I pondered driving to New Dayton (about a 5.5 hour drive).  Then my evening work stank.  Ryder stank up the house.  He was so determined that he knew what he was doing he turned deaf.  I became pissed off - which is never good.  Ryder realized I was ticked at him and began to slow down and worked way  out of context.  I had to take a deep breath.  Called him to me.  We stood there for a few minutes while I stroked his head and ears.  I need to leave my thoughts off the field and focus on what is.  He's a young dog with limited training.  One day at a time. is my new moto.

Right now he's about 50-60% on his flanks, doing a controlled drive, an outrun of about 2 power pole lengths (sorry distance is NOT my thing).  My goal is to get him 110% on his flanks.  Stretching everything else out won't be hard because he's quite an honest dog with a natural outrun.  I need to work on an easy command because he moves the sheep down the field at a pretty good trot.

Diva has been a superstar.  She's outrunning as cleanly and as far as Ryder now.  She has a lot of eye so I'm working on keeping her on her feet and moving.  She's showing me she wants to work for me which is so wonderful.  I'm able to walk off the field with her off leash.  This is a huge growth.

Dogs are funny.  The moment you start thinking you know what to expect, they change things up on you.  Keeps a girl humble.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Yeesh!

I'm aliiiiiiive!

So things have been a wee bit busy.  I had started to respond to Liz's questions for the something or other blog award only to get sidetracked and never made it back to it.

I've had an interesting few weeks.

1) Fender bender with my beloved truck.
2) Pink eye - thank you student...
3) Taking care of farm while parents are gone.
4) Getting audited by tax man.  That's some good fun...
5) Getting ready to fly to Portland and getting Visa's and paperwork organized.

While all of this has been going on I've also been busy doing some of the things I love.  We've had some pretty nasty rain here.  In fact, it was so bad some of the cities had serious flooding.  (Google Calgary or High River floods.)  There was some minor flooding in my city and I've been grateful my sump pump in my basement has been working.  (It's been running 3-4 times a day right now.)  We've finally been blessed with some sunshine which will help everyone dry out.  The rain and hail beat the tar outta my flowers.  I spent 2 hours yesterday deadheading and cleaning up plants.  I'll do another hour today.  Hopefully they'll recover and I'll get some pics to share.

I also sat and chatted with two of my favorite men.  Ken and I visited, talking dogs and horses.  He'll be loaning me one of his horses for the summer.  I'll run to Drayton Valley and pick him up once I'm back from the states.  I also chatted with Jason.  Jason is the cutting horse trainer who started Roxy and who I rode with one summer.  I'll be riding and turning back for him this summer.  Yay!  I had been thinking that cutting wouldn't be a viable horse option for me over the next few years.  I've reconsidered that opinion.  The reason is simple.  I want to live a life filled with passion.  And this is something I'm passionate about.  So much so that I'm not willing to drop it.  Where there's a will, there's a way.  Right??

I've been driving out to my parents twice a day (10 minutes each way) to do chores.  Dad had bought a bunch of sheep to keep the grass down in the "horse" pasture and for me to play with.  So twice a day I've been working the dogs.  With the sudden heat no one - including animals - is acclimatized.  For that reason I've been fairly short with the works.  I must admit I was stunned at the progress my poor neglected dogs had made!  Ryder has developed confidence.  What once would have been a standoff now results in sheep moving away from him.  With his confidence has also come a sudden deafness.  He has decided that he knows best and has ignored some of my commands.  In particular the "lie down" and recall.  We'll be working on this...

Diva has been the biggest surprise of all.  The grass in the field is very high.  It stops about my mid thigh.  This has made it challenging for the dogs to see the sheep.  After some initial struggles the dogs have figured it out.  This morning I sent Diva on one of her longer outruns.  She started out straight.  Crash the flock straight.  Calling, I wanted her to lie down so I could help her.  This is Diva.  Once she's released she's like a heat seeking missile.  There is no stopping.  (Yet.)  And then the moment of brilliance.  She suddenly veers to the left making a perfect bubble around the flock of sheep, slowing to rate and gently bringing them to my feet.  I was stunned.  So impressed with the little brat.  She's really starting to work for me.  With me.

I plan to start taking the dogs to town to rework on their socialization and manners.  We've definitely made progress but I want to feel confident with taking them in public places.  Particularly places with dogs...  Because I've done NO exercise since I've hurt my back I'm thinking starting to run in town with the dogs is a good place to start.  I'm pain free and plan to start upping my activity levels.

I'll try to get some video of the dogs working over the next few weeks.  :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Border Collies For Sale

 My friend has Border Collie pups for sale.  Well bred with working lines.  Cute little buggers!


4 Month Old Male

11 Month Old Male

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Parade Day

I live near a small hamlet called Ardrossan.  It's mostly a rural area that was once farms but is now commuter acreages for the city.  The hamlet consists of schools, a state of the art recreation facility, a small store, gas station, fire station, post office and houses.  It also has a senior (55+) group that my dad is quite active in.  He gets great joy out of the community parade.  Me?  Well, I tend to avoid the whole situation.

My plan for today was to hunker down with my laptop and work on report cards.  There I was sitting in  my pjs, minding my own business when my mom pulls up.  (I live about 2 miles from the hamlet.)  She needs binder twine.  So I fetch her binder twine.  Then she tells me she wants to bring Ryder to the parade.  She wanted to bring him to show him to all her buddies.  I get them situated with chain (mom isn't very strong so I wanted more than a collar - just in case), leash, ball, and treats.  Off they go.  What this means for type A, control freak me is that off I also go.  So hair in pony tail and public appropriate  clothes on I follow.  Initially mom thought Diva should also go.  That idea I didn't support.  It would be easier for me to concentrate on one animal.

When I arrived mom and Ryder were sitting in the senior complex visiting.  Ryder was happily playing with his ball much to the delight of those around him.  As I suspected would happen the novelty of carting around the dog wore off leaving me to cart around the dog.  She took off with her friends and I sat at the senior's with the dog.  When she came back Ryder and I trotted around with her.  Mom was in her glory.  She seemed to take great delight in watching others play with him.  And Ryder, Ryder was straight awesome!  He handled people of all ages and sizes, dogs, and all kinds of noises and spectacles.  He let out one large woof when a black lab went past in the parade.  Otherwise he did an excellent job of ignoring all the dogs.  Even the rude ones.  I've discovered the ball (one of those larger holey ones) acts a bit like a soother for him.  He's able to relax quicker and takes things in stride when he has it with him.

I was very proud of how he handled the strangeness of everything around him.  He's turning into a dog that is a joy to own.  One I can confidently take places without worrying something will happen.  I'm sure it helps his sister was left at home, but he needs to develop confidence without her.  Today has cemented my thought of taking him into some old folks homes.  He's such a gentle soul I think he'd make a great therapy dog.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ryder Goes To School

Here in Alberta all grade three students write provincial achievement tests.  These are long and hard.  Some students find them very stressful.  To make thing even more complex yesterday our area had some very severe and unusual weather.  We spent the final hour of our school day "on alert", basically locked in our classrooms.  It has been a busy couple of days.  My group of eight year olds handled this incredibly well.  

My "kids" have been nagging me to "meet" Ryder and Diva.  I made a sneak attack plan with my mom.  At 2:30 she was going to show up at the school with Ryder.  Now, I was more than aware this could go either way.  Ryder has had virtually no experience with children.  That being said, the only way to get experience with kids is to be exposed to them.  

With no warning I barked at my kids to drop their books and line up.  I told them to go outside and sit on the cement.  With the school emergency plans having been activated recently they were freaked.  Then my mom and Ryder walk towards us.  The kids eyes light up, huge smiles breaking up their faces.  Grabbing Ryder's leash and toy I bring him around front of my class.  I've told them enough Ryder and Diva stories they felt they knew him.  I give them a brief "how to meet and greet strange dogs" lesson.  I also talked about what to do if you're scared of a dog.  

I was having Ryder show off some of his manners: sit, stay, hide and seek, pretty.  I look up and two classes of students are coming around the corner.  They were on their way back into the school and they wanted in the door we were in front of.  As a couple of grade fives dived towards Ryder I snarked at them to get back.  This is one of my peeves in life.  If I don't give you permission to approach my dog don't you dare touch him/her.  Deciding we were headed for a train wreck I asked my class to move away from the door.  I'm walking away and behind me is a pack of kids chasing me, circling around me.  Yikes.  Ryder handled it all like a super star.  

He was nervous but appropriate.  A couple kids made some sudden and erratic movements and he tucked his tail and scootched away but never showed any negative behavior.  The kids lined up and threw the ball for him.  He even tried to include a parent who was waiting to pick up their child in our game.  Mom didn't bring any treats.  Next time I'd love for each kid to give him a cookie.  

As it was, he rocked it.  He was really, really good.  I was so proud of him.  I was also proud of how well my very excited little munchkins listened.  They really wanted to pet him but he wasn't interested in going up to them.  Time will change that.  As soon as this dog figures out that kids like to play it'll be the end of his nerves.  And a life long love affair will be born.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pay Off??

Normally, my house is a quiet place with "regular" visitors such as my parents.  On the weekend I had a couple come buy some rocks.  (I KNOW!!  ROCKS!!)  I was out in the yard playing with the dogs when they arrived.  Ryder let out a couple of deep woofs, but with my hand on his collar, he stopped.  Diva ran behind my garbage cans.  Warning them that Diva was not friendly I made sure Ryder was steady (he likes to jump on people) before releasing him.  The most amazing thing occured.  Both dogs were far more interested in the toy we had been playing with than the new people.  Ryder respectfully and cautiously approached them for a sniff before trotting off with his tail flagged, toy in mouth.  Diva remained focussed on the toy and kept positioning herself to watch where I (and the toy) went.  There was no crazy barking, no running at them, no bad behavior.  Both dogs demonstrated good and appropriate manners towards the strangers. 

Last night I had surprise company.  My friend arrived with infant in tow.  Ryder and Diva have had virtually no exposure to children or babies so I wasn't sure how this was going to play out.  As she approached the front door, I asked the dogs to "get back".  With each request the dogs backed up, giving her room to enter my house.  Both dogs got a bit bug eyed at the carrier but didn't give a negative response.  Ryder cautiously approached her to sniff her hand.  Then carefully settled in to try (and successfully) lick her hand.  Diva kept a close eye on the carrier and didn't approach Jeanne but also didn't give any reactions.  Ryder got a little spooky when the baby cried or moved in the carrier.  He just wasn't sure about it. 

Can it be?  Can my dogs be devoloping manners?  Can all this hard work be paying off?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bella the Amazing

My three year old nephew is terrified of dogs.  For obvious reasons this breaks my heart.  Today my dad carried him out to see the sheep.  Bella came and met them then followed them out.  Rather than scream bloody murder (his normal response upon seeing a dog) he eyed her curiously.  This evening just before they left he went with my dad to have one final look at the sheep.  Bella followed them back to the house.  I stood in stunned disbelief as Bella stretched her nose towards him (their heads are level), and he didn't freak out.  He leaned curiously towards her.

I want to be clear.  When it comes to dogs and kids I am very aware.  I watch closely and there are very few dogs that I truly trust with a child.  Bella is one of them.  I know if Bella gets freaked out she'll jump back and run away.  She's a shy and gentle dog.  With that in mind I also understand that dogs and children are unpredicatable and it's my job to keep both child and dog safe.

Bella was amazing with him.  She was quiet and gentle letting him get his confidence up.  He even reached out and touched the fur along her neck.  She wagged her tail.  I wish I had a picture of the two leaning nose to nose.  Beyond cute.  I taught him how to put his hand out for her to sniff.  He even tried it!

Heartwarming for me to see that he is less fearful of dogs.  I'm hopeful that Bella can continue to teach him how to not be fearful.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Value

I've been indulging my horse obsession lately.  One thing I've been putting a lot of thought into is what I want.  The strangest thing has happened.  There's a deep part of me that wants time (and money) to travel.  That wasn't the strangest thing...  The strangest thing is that I kinda, sorta think I may want to move back into the rodeo world.  Barrel Racing and Team Roping.  The other thing that I've really been thinking that I want to do is to have a couple of brood mares.  Why?  Well, I kinda enjoy raising babies.  Time wise it works.  I can also easily winter them at the farm.

So I've been doing some research.

*cough* It's not like I don't have anything else to with my time. *cough*

I started out by looking at bloodlines, and how much horses sell for with a variety of bloodlines.  I was amazed at how much people think their animals are valued.  There are stallions with OK bloodlines that are only halter broke selling for $7500.  These animals don't necessarily have performance proven bloodlines.  Say what??  You see a lot of broodmares with no recognizable names mass producing babies.  I started this with no preconceived ideas.  I just knew cutting horses were going to be out of my price range to do it right so I wanted to see what else sold.  I'll admit I've become a horse pedigree snob.    There are so many horses out there that have never been broke and are herd sires and brood mares.  How can you know whether a horse is worth breeding if you have no idea of it's trainability or working personality?  It's athletic ability will have never been tested.  It's been quite the eye opener.  I still haven't decided how I want to focus my energy but it's been an interesting journey.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Darlings

Please accept the poor Blackberry pictures... but I thought my little darlings were looking particularly cute and wanted to capture it.  The phone was all I had handy at the time.



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Spring Flowers

I love my flowers.  The pansy's bring back such strong memories of going to my grandparents farm.  Love them.  These guys are actually quite filled out given the amount of rain we've had.  Some of my plants are not enjoying this so much...



These guys are lovely purple and white petunias with a gladiola in the middle.  They're a little bedraggled with all the wet.  Watch them bloom with some sunshine!


I can't wait for the gladiola to bloom because I think it'll almost be a perfect match for the center of the pansies.

Silver and hot pink wave petunias.  Also a little bedraggled right now...


This is on my north deck.  The begonia, ivy and bacopa love it there.


These guys are hating the wet and cold right now.  They need sun and lot's of it.  White geraniums and red portulaca.


I'm really excited for these pots to finish filling out and bloom.  There are silver wave petunia, black petunias, spikes, and purple nicotia in them.


These barrels were just planted today and are a bit scraggly still.  In it are hot pink wave petunias, white bacopa, and flax for eye appeal.


Stay tuned for summer flower shots.  I also planted sweet peas in my garden to climb my garden fence, and marigolds by my tomatoes to keep the pests away.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Recipe for Doggy Happiness

Insert perfect weather.  Imagine sunshine, light breeze, 21 C (about 70 F).  Next create a pastoral scene with a flock of sheep grazing peacefully in the field.  Add in a dog and a girl.  Perfection.

I had gone out to the farm with intentions of walking the dogs in the grazing reserve with mom, but my mom's got a more active social life than I do and she was going dancing.  My father, who's busy trying to kill off my dog sheep wanted me to go look at one.  Off to the barn yard I go.  This is one of the sheep that had an unfortunate run in with a round bale last winter/spring.  He had broke his leg, dad splinted but he's still not using it.  It looks like the hoof is dead.  It's all shriveled up.  I'll call Ken but if the sheep isn't going to heal right then it's time for him to be put down.

Seeing the flock of lambs grazing a bad thought entered my head.  While I know I'm supposed to be taking it easy I've been feeling some intense cabin fever.  Ryder spotting the sheep pretty much sealed the deal.  He stood still.  A paw in the air.  Ears perked up.

Intent. On. Sheep.

I couldn't deny him....  so we went to work....  and it felt awesome to be doing something!

We had a bit of a rocky start.  I'll admit I really missed Tessa.  The sheep were quite flighty (they're lambs), and Ryder got chasey and didn't want to get around and cover.  After I got him settled, the sheep settled and I pretty much stood still and let him work at keeping the flock (around 30 sheep) together.  It was great for him to think and work.  You can see he lacks confidence still and I'll need to work on that but he is such a gentle and quiet worker.  I *heart* Ryder.

I was a bit concerned about my ability to control Diva but felt she deserved a work as well.  I walked her out on her leash.  Got in nice and close before releasing her.  She was fast and tight but quickly settled into working the sheep.  She has so much power.  It's amazing to watch how easy it was to move this flock.  The sheep once they settled became quite heavy and would challenge or ignore the dogs.  This meant the dogs had to work to drive them towards me.  She listened quite well, amazingly well given the lack of body pressure I was able to put on her.  She had the biggest doggy grin when I pulled her off the sheep.  I *heart* Diva.

I had so much fun.  I'm still smiling even though we really didn't do much from a training perspective.

Tomorrow we may have to repeat the activity and I'll bring a camera...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thinking About Horses

Okay, so I have a problem.  I have an obsession I can't seem to get past.  I've been contemplating horses, horses and more horses.  Realistically I'm looking at a year before I would have time for a horse.  While I've enjoyed scrolling through all the horses for sale I can't settle on what type of horse I want.  I can't settle on what discipline I want to ride.  Do I want a nice All Around horse that I can ranch cut, rope, and trail ride on?  Do I want to focus on performance horses?  Do I want a Paint?  A quarter horse?  An Arab?  I just don't know.  Maybe I don't want to buy a horse next summer.  Maybe I just want to lease a horse from one of the multitude of stables in the area?  Or maybe I just want a part lease?  Maybe want to wait and spend the money on travel?

I feel rather in limbo.  I love the idea of doing it all but that's just not realistic.  If I could do anything I'd have the high end cutting horse.  However, my trainer has moved further away from me.  Do I have the ability to do this on my own?  I just don't know.

I think that sums it up nicely.

I just don't know.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strange Encounters

Diva, Ryder and I have been encountering some of my neighbors on our walks.  Ryder is really beginning to take things in stride.  His big issue remains other dogs.  He feels compelled to bark or growl, even when I'm working on basic commands such as sit or heel.  He is now taking bikes, strollers, scooters and walkers in stride.  Children are no big deal for him.

Diva on the other hand has beautiful leash manners and if I can keep her focused on me we do well when we encounter things.  If she goes into "stalk" mode she can be difficult to refocus.  Children, bikes, scooters and sometimes walkers remain scary to her.  Mind you, I've also discovered that rocks and snowbanks can get the same reaction...  Some days I wonder if I should get her eyes tested.

Today in her defense we came across the most interesting child.  The best visual I can give is a standing up turtle on a scooter.  This little boy had on a bike helmet, the roundest, fullest backpack I've seen in a while, and was happily scooting down the road.  In fact he was zig zagging.  Towards us.  As a preemptive strike I put the dogs into heel formation.  As he approaches, Diva does her on alert and gives a little grumble.  I give her a sharp reprimand insisting she goes back into heel.  She complies.  Well, as much as dog curled up into a pretzel position, while walking can do...  The child then swerves towards us, yelling some weird gibberish phrase (and I'm well versed in cool kid phrases), and continues on.  Diva's eyes bulge out of her head.  Her tail crawls further up her sphincter and she tries to remain in heel while watching behind us.  She performed the most acrobatic functions on our walk tonight.

For whatever reason kids and wheeled apparatus' are particularly freaky for her.  This kid, did not help.  But it was a great training opportunity.  Ryder, my little superstar took this strange child in stride.  Showing an alert curiosity.  If loose there would have been a pretty good likelihood of him chasing or jumping on the creature before running back to me.

All in all, it was quite the amusing walk tonight.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Acceptance

I've pretty much accepted the fact that the babies and I won't be hitting any dog trials this summer.  It's looking like I'm still a good 3 weeks off being able to work them.  The irony that dad bought me sheep and they're sitting at the farm is not lost on me.  When I walk the "pinch" aka pain in my arse *back* is slowly lessening.  I'm able to walk a little farther on the gravel lease road and am sticking with the "short" loop (4+ish km) in the subdivision.  My back usually starts to scream at about the 1 mile mark.  Today I noticed I could walk around the yard without it hurting.

Basically, the dogs have been off stock for months.  4.5 months to be exact.  This means we're too far behind in our training goals to reach the point where we can enter a field trial.  This means the babies don't compete as nursery dogs.  If the timing works out the first trial I anticipate us being ready for is in November.  If I pushed Ryder really hard he could probably be ready end of July or August.  But I don't want to do that.  He basically just needs things to be stretched out and to gain some confidence on his flanks.  Diva doesn't even know her flanks so she's significantly further behind.

I've pondered sending one or both out for training.  Mostly Diva as she's the one who I think would benefit from regular work.  The control freak in me has trouble with this concept.  I suppose it won't kill the dogs to remain with me on lockdown.  We've been working on nitpicky things like waiting when a door is opened or stretching out the length of a sit command.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Let's Play!

I can say there was once a time when I genuinely thought Diva would never develop a play drive.  This picture is evidence to the contrary.  She still prefers that I initiate the play.  She struggles with bringing me a toy to ask me to play.  Tonight she brought me the toy and gave it to me.  Normally when she wants to play she either a) harasses Ryder into playing then steals the toy from him or b) sits at my feet and whines very insistently and persistently while staring intently at the toy sitting across the room.  She is fetching beautifully outside with longer and longer throws.  I've even been able to throw different toys and have her return them.  She's still somewhat tentative about playing tug, but I'm happy she'll fetch as this is the best exercise for her.  When Ryder plays hide and seek, I'm making her get up and look.  She often finds it before him but then lies and stares at the toy until he finds it.  The next trick will be to get her to retrieve the hidden toy.

Another big growth was a friend's mom stopped by to pick up something.  Neither of the dogs barked!!  Or jumped up!!  (To be fair I had hold of Diva's cord.)  Both gave appropriate and curious greetings.  Woot!  Perhaps part of my battle is making sure they're getting enough stimulation - maybe that's the secret to having them be balanced nice dogs.  

Either way - isn't she cute as a button in this picture?  What you don't know is she's lying beneath my legs whining right now.  Ryder has put himself to bed under my bed... Such different little personalities!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Catching Up

The end of March I had pulled a muscle in my back doing snow removal.  My back is still not healed.  This is making me looney.  A little bit fatter.  It's also making the dogs looney.  And a little bit fatter.  We have been confined to nice on leash walks around the subdivisions.  I'd love to go work dogs now that it's nicer out.  But running hurts like crazy.  There is no working younger unfinished dogs without some running.

As soon as the weather got nice enough I bought my bedding plants and have been gardening like crazy.  This is my therapy.  While I garden I play with the dogs.  Diva has gotten a good handle on fetch, even in the yard.  Ryder is becoming very proficient at hide and seek with his toys, even in the yard.  I've been trying to come up with things to stimulate the dogs.  I know they're bored.  Diva is being super bossy with Ryder.  Ryder is my big suck and he spends a fair amount of time snuggling with me.

While I'm digging in the dirt, Ryder and Diva hang out with me.  Sometimes Diva is tied to the tree.  Sometimes she's loose on a long line.  Ryder is pretty reliable out in the yard so I don't worry so much.  The other night Diva spotted a lady walking on the road that borders my property.  Much barking ensued.  What surprised me is Diva was wagging (Wagging??) her tail at the lady.  So strange.  Ryder as always comes back quickly and is developing a very good lie down and stay during exciting times.  Diva is only as reliable as she wants to be.  That being said she's my little shadow in the house these days.  I've also discovered she loves carrots.

Any suggestions for speeding the recovery of my back or games for the dogs would be appreciated.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dreams of Past

I have been dreaming a lot lately.  It's strange.  I'm normally a person who can control what I dream about much like a TV channel.  I have been tired and sleeping hard.  I have also been having unexpected dreams that leave me feeling unsettled when I wake up.  It was December when I said goodbye with Tessa.  I was and am very much at peace with my decision regarding her care.  It is now April and I have been dreaming of her.  I wake looking for her only to realize morning after morning that she is gone.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the "babies".  They are distinctly different than Tessa.  They have their own personalities and quirks.  It seems odd to me that I'd be missing Tessa now.  Wishing for a little more time to enjoy her company.  Feeling sad that I won't hear her howl of joy.  Having her jauntily trotting along side me when I run or walk.

I fully understand there will not be another Tessa, and maybe that's the problem.

Diva, Ryder, and Tessa.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Complacency

Diva lulled me into complacency.  She's been listening so well that rather than have them "potty" in the run I've been taking them out into the yard.  I'm always outside with them.  I'm always paying attention to them.  We've been playing in the yard.  We've been working on "wait", "stay", and recalls - all in the yard.

As per normal routine I'm almost always awake by 7 am.  Wearing my PJs I walk the dogs out into the potty area of the yard.  Diva is always much quicker than Ryder in completing her business.  So while Ryder stood there with his leg in the air, Diva cocked her head, and sprang into a run.  Calling Ryder in, I put him back in the house, slid on my winter boots and walked to where I could better see where Diva had run off to.  Calling her with no response.  I continued walking towards the field.  Knowing the Canadian Geese (Diva's arch enemies) were out there I figured she was stalking them.  Was I ever wrong.  Not only were the geese out there, there were also 4 deer.  Seeing me Diva dove towards the deer, chasing them across the field.  The deer easily jumped the fence and took off down the subdivision road.  Diva ran back and forth, ignoring my calls before finding a hole and diving though the fence, and giving chase to the deer.

Wearing my pajamas and winter boots I began trudging down the subdivision road towards where I last saw my dog.  She had followed the deer up a driveway and past a house.  Calling, and calling with no dog in my sights.  Walking back to my house I got dressed and went back out.  Calling her name, whistling I tried to figure out where she'd be.  I live in a populated area near very busy roads.  Worst case scenarios jumbled in my head as I walked up and down the road.  By this time it's 7:30 am.  I'm not really wanting to go knocking on doors...

Beginning to feel hopeless I began to head back when I heard shrill barking.  Recognizing Diva's distinctive bark I begin calling more enthusiastically.  It sounded like she was behind a neighbors land.  The only problem?  Almost all the lots are fenced.  Most with page wire or chain link.  How on earth was I going to get back to her?  Walking along I thought I'd try coaxing her along the fence line to get closer to where she entered the area with the deer.  I began to really worry when her cries never moved.  Was she hurt?  Trapped?  Captured?  Why were her barks not moving?  After each time I called I'd get these shrill yips.  It was as though she was saying "Mom!  Mom!  I'm here!"  By this point in time over 30 minutes had passed.  I pondered my neighbors.  Do I just tromp through their land to try to get closer to my dog?  Do I knock and risk waking them up?  The other thing I wondered about is no one, not one single soul stuck their head out to see what the ruckus was about.  This blew me away.  There is no way I'd have slept through it.  Her shrill barking, my calling her name and whistling.  I clearly live in a very friendly neighborhood...

On the verge of giving up, I see a flash of black through the trees.  Calling I see Diva streaking towards me.  Only to be stopped by another fence.  Walking partially up the neighbors driveway I call and call.  She tries to get through the page.  She digs.  She stands up and tries to climb.  Weighing my options, I walk along the edge of their property, and up the fence line, moving deeper onto their land.  Reaching Diva I try to figure out how I'm going to get her onto my side of the fence.  It was old large squared page wire with barb wire along the top.  It's important to note we still have an easy foot or more of snow.  I had walked/half fallen through the crusty snow.  Sometimes staying on top, sometimes breaking through.  This just added another layer to the challenge.  Reaching down I gently tug on the wires, managing to pull them apart enough to let my athletic dog squirm through reaching me.  She joyfully leaps up and trots ahead of me as I try to work my way back to the road.

Once on the road the little rotter does an amazing job of off leash "heel" staying perfectly by my leg.  She happily trotted into the garage and Ryder and her greeted each other as though they'd been tortured.  Chilled and tired, I curled up in bed.  Diva jumps up and licks and snuggles in, not understanding that I was still not talking to her.

Needless to say she has lost her off leash privileges.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dog Love

I just enjoyed a week off of "work".  Only I spent it working...  I had pulled a muscle in my back dealing with snow... I was officially on restricted activity.  My big physical outlet was walking and playing with the dogs.  My little doggy darlings started out the week needy.  After a few off leash walks to blow out some energy they settled in to enjoy their time with me.  It never fails to amaze me how steady they can be.  It's true they're growing up.  Ryder is sooooo soft.  When my back really hurt, he curled up beside me with his head on my lap.  When I went to town the dogs traveled along.  I loved this quality time with them.

Diva is slowly growing from problem child to awesome little creature.  She's developing her play drive.    Becoming much more consistent with her "fetch".  She has recalled and entered the house without being on leash!  She's also decided she's my dog and as such has been a bit bratty.  She seems to be jealous of Ryder.  She's taken to picking on Ryder.  He of course just takes it.  She ALWAYS picks her time when I can't easily get to correct her.  For example when I'm in bed.  Or on the toilet.  This is classic Diva.  She now sleeps with me every night.  Crawling up my body in the morning for a cuddle.  That's not the problem.  How territorial she is around Ryder is.  She will snark at him if he comes into the bedroom.  She has to eat first (even though there are two dishes with plenty of food).  She will even take the toy from his mouth!  Bratty, bratty behavior.  I know separation time will benefit them both but it's a wee bit challenging when I'm at work.  I don't know if I'm comfortable enough leaving one dog in the house and the second in the run while I work.

It seems, that I'm not the only person who loves the dogs.  I was telling mom about Diva.  Her comment was that maybe Ryder needed to come live with her for a little while.  I knew she loved him, I just didn't know how much.  (Mom has come here to visit me, but spent much of her time cuddling and playing with the dog...)  I know my parents miss Tessa.  I miss her too.  Mom's commented on how empty the house seems and how she misses walking with a dog.

So, it may, just may, happen that Ryder will go to my parents for a little stay-cation.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A-Ha Moment

Yesterday evening, Guinness and Bugsy's new family came and picked them up.  It was a huge, massive moment of clairity for me.  I had prepared a "goodie" bag for S. the teenaged daughter, and watching her face when I gave it to her brought such joy to my heart.  It was filled with some of my favorite horse products.  The air crackled with excitement.  Not just the two girls and their friend, but the two adults were giddy with happiness too.

They had gone to a store and bought two new halters and lead ropes for the horses.  T. (mom/wife) said they had had so much fun looking and buying stuff.  As we walked back towards the barn I listened to M. (husband/father) talk about how he can't wait to work with Bugsy.  At this moment it sank in for me.  Two horse were going to be someone else's dream.  This was a family united.  They talked about how the grandparents were thrilled and ideas were coming out for how as a family unit the horses could be used.  This amazed me.

I realized this wasn't just about giving their children an opportunity.  It was about a family experience.  The huge smiles and eager anticipation to take "their" horses home.  This made me feel good.  While my dream fizzled, (I really wanted to compete with Guinness.), theirs was being born.

While sad to say goodbye, I'm happy to see the horses headed to a home that will love and use them.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Action Plan

With the horse absence entering my life I have a plan.  I'm planning on riding in a clinic in June.  Ken has already agreed to loan me a mount.  The bonus of having friends with a plethora of horses is that no matter what - I will always have access to a horse.  Ken and I chatted.  We'll see how my summer goes.  If (massive if here) IF, I have time... he will "loan" me a horse for the end of July/August.  (I fly out to Portland, Oregon this July to satisfy my residency requirement.)  I'll also be working on writing my first draft of my capstone paper.  (Think similar to thesis.)  Then when things heat up in September for me I'll send the horse back.

My graduate program is finished end of December 2013.  Next summer, I will look for a horse.  A horse that must have these specific qualities:

  • Be fully trained or have a very, very solid start on it.  (I love my babies - horses -  but this is NOT the right time for me to have any.)
  • Prefer mare but will accept gelding.
  • Have an easy going, stay "broke" attitude.  
  • Have potential to make a "family" horse.  
  • Be 15 hh +.
  • Be an all around type horse that I can do a variety of activities with.  
I love the cutting stuff, and I love having young horses but at this point in my life I just need something I can enjoy.  That I don't need to worry about.  I know all the other horsey stuff will come with time.  

And if I start talking crazy - kick me in the arse!!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Big Girl Pants

I've had to put on my big girl pants and make one of the hardest most heartbreaking decisions.  There comes a time when you need to be an adult and make decisions that aren't necessarily best for you but are best for the animals in your care.  That is what I did even though I do feel like crying.  You see, I've been so stressed and so worried about all the things on my plate that I came to the decision that something had to give.  I've been feeling as though I haven't been doing a particularly good job at anything.

This is not a decision I've made lightly or rashly.

I've been extremely worried about Guinness.  I've been worrying about how he's ready to work with yet sits in the field because I don't have time to work with him.  I've worried about sending him out for training, getting him back and having him sit, because I'll be working on school and working on work.  I've worried about Guinness ending up wasting away.  I love him so much.  I can see so much potential in this great little package.

So I sold him.

I didn't sell him for much.  I was more concerned about finding the right home.  He's gone to a home that is super excited to have him.  A home with teenaged girls who will love on him and develop his potential.  A home that wants to keep him as "their" horse.  A forever kind of home.   The kind of home I'd like to provide but can't at this time.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fascination

This cracks me up....

Diva has developed a fascination with the toilet.  Particularly when the toilet flushes.  She will rush up, cock her head and watch.  Curious, I did some multiple flushes.  Yep.  She stood there and watched.  Funny little dog.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Work, Work, and More Work

I finished a university work binge, only to settle in to a work work binge.  I feel as though I'm treading water to keep from drowning.  My poor dogs have been spectacularly patient with me.  On Sunday I brought them to work with me.  I needed time in the classroom and didn't want to leave them behind.  There were two other teachers in the building.  Both dogs were appropriate in their greetings.  Ryder trotted around with his ball.  Playfully dropping it for them to throw.  Diva ignored them.  (Which for Diva is super positive.)  Both dogs happily followed me around. listening to what I asked of them.  We were in the work room photocopying science, (Ryder was FREAKED by the photocopier!), when we walked out we walked into a crowd of people.  Surprised I froze.  (Never expect to see people on the weekend.)  My principal was touring some people through the school.  Calling dogs into sit (no leashes), I waited.  And waited.  Realizing they weren't going to clear the area anytime soon.  I knew we'd have to go through them.  Calling dogs in close to me I began moving along the wall to pass them.  Ryder trotted along with his ball, completely ignoring the people.  Diva tucked her tail and got a little tense but also moved through the people.  No barking, growling, or snarling.  Progress.

The work week brought more evening work.  The dogs didn't always get their walks.  I took them into the yard to play race and chase.  Diva looked at me.  Looked at Ryder.  Looked at me.  Looked at Ryder.  And ran to the horse pen.  Ignoring her I continued playing with Ryder.  After a couple of minutes I used my most enthusiastic voice and called for her. 

Ready for this???

She came.  Not an amble.  But she came in a full out run.  I was stunned.  She never does that.  I always have to go out to the field and chase her out of the pen.  Leaning down I gave her hugs and dog treats.  I was so proud of her!  She's really coming out of her shell.  She's bonding with me.  Finally.

Other news coming soon....