Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Acceptance

Acceptance.

It's a hard thing.

That ability to take what life brings and recognize, embrace it for what it is.

This has been the summer of acceptance for me.  This has not come without its bumps and bruises.  I had made a number of goals and statements earlier in the year.  And life happened.  While I had wanted to work the dogs every day.  This just didn't happen.  You see, in June, I had "all day sickness" not just "morning sickness".  It literally was all I could do to get through my work day and work commitments.  This meant the dogs were not ready for the summer competitions.  And that, quite frankly, depressed me.  A couple of weeks ago I hauled the dogs two hours down the rode to take a lesson with another trainer.  We talked about aspirations for them.  Mine of course.

I have accepted that Ryder wants to be an agility dog.  I won't force the stock work on him and will renew my focus on taking agility classes.  Diva.  I'll do my best to get her trained and maybe try her at some field competitions next year.  Realistically, in a year or so I'll be looking at buying a trained stock dog.  I just won't have the time to train a pup into a working dog.

I have accepted that my dogs are basically well loved pets.



I won't lie.  I tear up and cry whenever I think of Whiskey.  This has been the hardest thing for me to accept.  I LOVE this horse.  I love her eye.  I love her attitude.  I love her sweetness and kind spirit.  But love isn't going to fix her.  My dad's diligence has really improved her mobility.  So when I went out last week to meet the farrier I was stunned to see her hobbling around.  With no physical evidence of an abscess or bruise it meant it was just normal navicular issues.  I went home absolutely torn.  If she was that lame on a lovely summer day, what would happen in the winter?  I've begun to seriously consider if lame equates to pain.  Is she truly so stoic that she doesn't demonstrate any traditional signs of distress?  She is unequivocally lame.  No debate.  But she doesn't show signs of pain.  I've worked with lots of injured horses and know they generally display some behaviour and physical signs when they hurt.  So I flip - flopped.  Is lame the same as pain?  When is the right time to say goodbye?  I would rather euthanize her too soon than reach an emergency situation and be too late.  My friends say she'll tell me when she's ready.  The problem is I don't know.  Has she?  Has she told me and I just haven't been listening?  A large part of me knows that leaving her is more for me than her.  Am I being selfish?  Within the next few weeks I'll make a final decision, but I'm leaning towards letting her go.  I've found out that a person can get them cremated.  This means I'll pack her ashes, just like I pack Tessa's until I can find a place where I feel right about leaving them.  For now, I can't bear to say a final good bye.




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chasing Pink Unicorns

Over the last few months I've felt like I've been chasing pink unicorns.  I have felt like an unmitigated failure where the dogs are concerned.  This spring I had decided I was going to take a run at trialling them this summer.  In order to get to that point I would need to be working them everyday.

That hasn't happened.  As it stands I feel like we're treading water.  They have not made significant progress.  They have also not been worked every day.  Sometimes I feel I did them a disservice by not sending them out.  If I had sent them out would they be trial worthy stock dogs?  Is it too late for them?  Have I buggered them up beyond repair?


A friend said something tonight that struck a chord.  She asked who I liked more as a dog.  These guys or Tessa.  Yikes!  It was Tess hands down.  And it made me think.  Is part of my problem that fact that these two aren't Tess, will never be Tess, and can never be Tess?

I've been tossing around the idea of a pup.  Crazy I know.  I've contemplated picking a pup with good lineage from trial lines and trying again.  Keeping these two as pups.  But the good lineage thing has not worked for me.  Tessa had quite unremarkable breeding.  Ryder and Diva have a bunch of champions in their pedigree.  And both dogs have some pretty hefty faults when it comes to training on stock.  Diva is far too willful.  While the more talented of the two she locks onto the sheep and ignores me.  Ryder is far too soft and weak.  He lacks confidence, can't handle tough sheep (won't work cows) and can't handle the training necessary to become a trial dog.  After all, he needs to take a certain amount of correction to improve.  And he doesn't.  This is a challenge I don't know if he'll ever overcome.  He does far better with fun time agility.

It leaves me in limbo.  I kinda don't know what to do.  What direction to go.  I've scheduled another round of agility classes for both dogs.

Either way I feel like a failure.  Something I tried so hard to do "right" has gone so wrong.  Am I still chasing Pink Unicorns?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Counting

Some days I seriously question my wisdom.  Literally in the space of weeks I went from two horses to a quickly multiplying herd.  I had been looking casually for a kids horse for quite some time.  When Sweetie became available it seemed like the right horse for the right price.  So I jumped.  She comes home at some point in August when her foal is weaned.  

Then came the Whiskey saga.  The knowledge that she had Navicular and had it to the extreme that breeding her wasn't going to be an option sent me into a tailspin.  The truly funny thing is I thought I had accepted that fact that she was going be a "downer".  Nope.  Clearly not.  It's extra hard because due to my dad's impeccable care she's actually improving.  She is demonstrably less lame.  

I began the pedigree research.  Trying to find another Whiskey.  Nope.  No such luck.  What I did find were some distant relatives.  Thinking that was my only option I began process of looking towards purchasing something along those lines.  

And then I stumbled across this gem.



This black mare is Whiskey's 1/2 sister (dam side).  Initially thinking I'd get the mare with a 3 in 1 option I began negotiating.  Then, deciding I was completely crazy, I decided there would be waaaaay too many horses.  So I bought the foal.  The black filly will come home to me in the fall.  I can't wait. This little girl needs a barn name and a papered name.   (I've asked to do the paperwork.)  Here is her pedigree.  It's not overly fancy, but that's not why I'm bringing her home.

So here's the summer tally.
Whiskey - undetermined what will happen with her.  If she continues to improve, and is happy and comfortable - who knows how long she'll be around.
Marnie - off getting bred to Pegasus.
Sweetie - arriving in August.
No Name - arriving in the fall.

I'd like to point out that brings my horse total from 2 to 5.  Just say'n!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Opened a Can of Crazy


I had one of those weeks.  Where my inner Horse Hoarder ran rampant.  I just could not let go of the conversation I had with my farrier when he said Whiskey should have one last baby.  It haunted me.  Whispering in my ear.  I fell over the edge when I went out to work the dogs and Whiskey was so incredibly lovely.  I became obsessed.  Stallion research commenced.  The vet was phoned and her x-rays were sent to my farrier to review.  I told him I needed his professional opinion.  Would she handle being able to carry one more foal.?  In the days it took for him to respond I blew through $30 of AQHA records, and narrowed down a stallion choice.

And then it happened.

My farrier responded with his first negative comment about Whiskey.  After reviewing the x-rays he felt breeding would cause major trauma and break down.  Not being able to breed her safely and comfortably means no baby.  Based on his reaction I realized her days were a lot more numbered than I thought.

I cratered.

My obsessive behaviour reached epic proportions.  I sent email after email, message after message, desperate to find relatives to her.  I begged to buy back her filly.  I just could not imagine a world without her.  Without carrying on her genetic stamp.

Trust me.  I get it.  Her breeding isn't remarkable.  It's not trendy and it's not full of performance earners.  What it is is full of history.  Full of horses with athletic ability and outstanding dispositions. Those horses have been proven in an entirely different way.

It was somewhat surprising to discover these horses hadn't been overbred.  Whiskey's mom had four foals.  Her sire had five.  Granted she was the last of the lot.  Sold off as a two year old during a dispersal sale.

Back to my crazy.

One of my many emails reached gold.  The lady who owned Whiskey's dam had bought a number of Bar U horses.  Tonight we had a lovely conversation.  It was fun talking with someone who knew the history.  Who had actually tried to buy Whiskey as a yearling - owner refused to sell - and loved these horses as much as I do.

So, my hoarder tendencies are still in fine form.  I may have... done something crazy... and made a tentative agreement to buy a yearling.  From the Bar U lines.  I'd like to go look this July.  If she looks good, I'll buy.  The current owner is a little quirky.  She's mailing me copies of papers and pictures of the filly.  But that's okay.

What's a little sketchy is the crazy I seem to have landed on....

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Remember the Hoarder??

You may have noticed my last post was called Hoarder.  It seems to have become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In the space of two weeks:

  • Officially buy "Paint Me Sweetly".  I will take possession of her in August when her current baby is weaned.  Debate breeding her even though I buy her to ride.
  • Buy a used Vic Bennet All Purpose saddle.  It was a steal of deal and I'd be stupid not to...
  • Take Marnie to Fleetwood Farms to breed to Pegasus.  I may have had a meltdown or ten debating who to breed her to once she arrived there.  
  • See babies related to Whiskey - have the most intense breed her pangs.  Remain undecided on that issue.  
See?  I really am a hoarder.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I'm a Hoarder!!

It all became clear today.  As I scrolled through the horse ads a flashy Arabian caught my eye.  My fingers stilled.  I clicked.  Opened it up.  And thought.

I gasped.  I was a hoarder!!  I can't help myself I keep wanting to ADD to my herd.  I keep wanting to ADD saddles to my collection.  I have a problem!

Back to the Arab.  Wouldn't it be cool to have a really nice Arabian cross to rein on?  To compete in Working Cow Horse?  A person could show in the open shows as well as make a run at the breed shows?  Remember I grew up riding Arabian.  I have a deep and abiding love of the breed.

The next ad that stills the fingers is a lovely OTTB (off track thoroughbred).  I imagine this horse recycled.  Recycled into a hunter/jumper training program.  I love the idea of creating a second life for a horse.  It bothers me greatly how many of these lovely horses become disposable once their race career or failure to launch race career come to a close.  I am loving the jumping.  It's fun.  It's challenging.  It's making me a better rider.

And then I see it.  The stunning quarter horse colt.  Stallion prospect.  Fancy reining breeding.  Oooh - how neat would it be to raise, train and show a top end reiner.

Uh oh!  Did you see that great deal on the cutter??

Do you see my problem?

I love horses.  I love the possibilities in a horse.  I love breeding something and seeing the potential.  I love the research into pedigree.  I love handling and working with a young project.

It's the same reason I want a new cutting saddle.  A reining saddle.  A rope saddle.  I just can't help myself.

The first step is admitting it.  I'm a hoarder.  God help us all if I ever end up with a big chunk or land. Or money.  ;)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ever Changing Like A River

I've been busy.  As always.  Who isn't busy these days?

My horsey world keeps shifting.  Sometimes I feel as though I have a split personality.  (And by no means am I belittling those who do have one!) I've been thinking of dropping my jumping lessons.  You see my heart is with the cows.  I do love me some cow work.  And then I go take my lesson.  And in my lesson I stretch and grow and challenge myself.  I can feel and see myself improving.  And I love it.

So here is the current plan.  I am continuing to ride Marnie.  I love it.  She keeps my brain active.  I'm also breeding her to Pegasus.  I won't lie.  I like the stallion but his ownership makes me feel a little worried.  I don't like the idea of a stallion being bred to a whole bunch of horses.  And I suspect that's what happens here.  But ultimately I think he'll make an outstanding cross for Marnie producing something that should be a great working cow horse type.

I'm also going to commit to riding her English.  I kept flip flopping but I genuinely believe that she's best suited to English world.  Jump training it is.

Another little project I've had in the works is picking up another horse.  I'm "pending" on a 20 year old mare.  She's quiet, safe, sound and sane.  She's currently a broodmare so I'm waiting for her to be back under saddle before she's "sold".  I need to be 100% that she'll pack a saddle with no issues.

To ease the pressure, I'm dropping dog classes.  It'll save me some serious money and free up time to do other things.  I'll reevaluate come summer.  Buying sheep next Monday so dogs working will become a priority.

And so I go...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lovely Girl

My Marnie girl is learning how to move in frame.  Not quite steady but getting there.  She makes me happy.  It was a great way to spend day.


Please excuse Honey's stinky video skills.  Enough to make a person sick!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Dung Detective

The last month there has been a change in my dog's behaviour.  I've been puzzled as to why it's happening.  The other mystery is who is doing it.

On an astonishingly frequent basis I've found dog doody in the house.

In. The. House.

Let me be clear.  My dogs have been house broke for a good many years.  So why was someone messing at night in the house?  Possible causes could include Honey's new shift which is from 3:30 pm until midnight.  But I toilet the dogs on a regular basis.  After the second "surprise" I started going out with them at night.  I've made a point of working the crap quite literally out of them.  Lot's and lot's of exercise.  Both dogs were getting pumpkin on their food.  While I'm still feeding it, I've reduced the amount.  I've added a probiotic.  I'd like to point out that this isn't "oops I'm in abdominal distress" poop.  Nope.  It's normal.

Today, the dogs begin a month of spending the night in their crates.  It's time to reinforce good manners.  To be honest, I don't think anyone is trying to wake me up.  But I've also been super tired and sleeping really hard.  I've had the dogs wake me up first but not for a couple of years.  Diva usually wakes me in the morning.  Generally around 7:00 (which is better than the 6-6:30 she used to...)

Any ideas out there to help me figure out my Mysterious Pooper?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Balls in the Air

Juggle.

Juggle.

Juggle.

Juggle.

This is the story of my life.  I'm trying desperately to keep all the balls in the air.

This week is the break part.  I'm finished a bunch of work commitments.  Now, I get to focus on my animals.

Tomorrow, Whiskey goes in for her x-rays.  Marnie gets her teeth checked.  Vaccinations get purchased.

Saturday, I spend the day at a tack sale.  I'm going to try to unload some stuff I never use.

Sunday, I have my jumping lesson.  I've been miserably sick so have missed too many this month.

And Monday - Monday I get to ride my own horse.  :)

I plan to start riding her regularly.  I also plan to make a trip or two or three out to Drayton to work the dogs.

It's Spring-ish.  I plan to take advantage of it!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Enraged

I haven't blogged much the last little bit.  I've been too busy being angry.  I've decided that humans are offal.

My honey watches the news.  This is something that I've systematically avoided doing for a variety of reasons.  I need to start forcing him upstairs where I won't be exposed to it.  It was a CBC piece on wolves that started me on my rant.  (For my American friends - CBC is the national broadcast/news channel.)  In BC (the neighbour province) the government has begun a wolf cull.  Why?  Because caribou are threatened and wolves eat caribou.  Seriously.  Now, let's think about this.  Are the caribou threatened because the wolves are hungry, or are the caribou threatened because humans have damaged their habitat?  I'm kinda thinking it may have something to do with human development of their habitat.  Yet, who takes the fall?  The wolves.  Straight up pisses me off.

The other thing that's been garnering  a lot of media lately have been the "wild" horses.  The government considers them feral, not wild.  They also have decided that there are too many of them.  This leads to wild horse hunts, where horses are caught, and taken to auction.  The controversy arises when these horses end up at the packing plant - leaving bound to be someone's dinner.  I'll be very honest.  Both sides of this argument leave me furious.  On one hand, I am not pro-slaughter.  It is my personal belief that it is not a humane way to die.  You may be sassy and say - but you eat meat.  Yes. I eat cows.  An animal bred specifically for food.  I'm also quite anal about the quality of life that animal has led.  I'm lucky enough that I know exactly where my food comes from.  In my case, my dad's field.  It goes to a local butcher.  There is no assembly line product in my freezer.  So, I'm more than a bit irked at how disposable horses are.

This leads me into my next rant.  Why does everyone blame backyard breeders for the surplus horses that end up in the auction pipeline to slaughter?  I'm sorry but I'm the definition of backyard breeder.  I would challenge you to find an animal I've bred at the auction house.  Why do the people who breed 200 head of average horses not get the blame?  They're breeding horses that have no market.  I believe in quality over quantity.  How about those race horses?  Oodles of them end up hanging from a hook.

Back to the wild horses....
The other major rant that I have is how the organizations that want to save the Wildies act.  They freak right out but most people do not put their money where their mouth is.  The other issue is people who want to "save" all horses.  Buy horses at auctions, and then release them into the wild.  I would loose my shit on someone who did that to one of my animals.  Are you kidding me?  My horse is not equipped to live wild.  They will die.  And not a nice death.

I must be getting old because I sure have no patience anymore... and I find I'm increasingly annoyed with human stupidity.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reminiscing

I've been looking back at and reading through some of my old posts.  It has made me think.  If I had to do it again, would I do it the same?

Yes.  And no.

I've been reading up on Border Collie working dog training, pedigree and health information posts on Facebook.  It's made me think a lot about my own journey.  In some ways it pisses me off.  There are people out there with so much information and knowledge.  But I've found it's like pulling teeth to get them to share.  Now, as a lurker on these sites I'm discovering how much there is to know and how little I really do know.  For example, there are lines with genetic issues.  People know these lines.  I do not.  They say if you want to know you can find out using the internet.  That's nice.  Using the internet does NOT tell me what dogs not to buy or breed to.  I'm left wondering how exactly do you know you have purchased a "good" puppy?  Pay someone to buy it for you?

This brings me to Reba.  Would I have bred her?  Knowing what I know now, probably not.  Knowing what I know now I probably wouldn't have bought her.  But if I hadn't bred her I wouldn't have learned as much as I did about dog and puppy development.  I was talking with a dog trainer who works at the local Humane Society.  She tells me that reactivity is highly genetic.  Basically, that I shouldn't feel bad my dogs are reactive because it's not my fault.  You can do everything you're supposed to and still end up with reactive dogs.  Because of their genetics.  Nice.  Again, this is something no one talks about.

As I look to the future this is vitally important to me.  You see, next year I'd like to get another puppy.  My dogs will be 5 moving on 6.  It takes a long time to develop a new dog.  As I plan on buying a puppy I'm trying to learn as much as I can now to try and prevent the learning curve being so nasty.  I want a dog that has a good off switch,  has power on stock, a trainable mind, and a fun and happy personality.

As I looked through my horse pictures there were some keen regrets.
1) I would have kept Izzy and put her in the training program.  Sold Roxy.  I never loved Roxy.... but kept her because she had the nomination into the futurity.
2) I would have kept Guinness.  Love that little man.
3) I would have kept Whiskey.

Looking forward, I consider my horse options.  Right now, I love the cattle stuff and I love jumping.  I'd love to get a hunter/jumper prospect.  I'd also love a neat cutter prospect.  I'm such a control freak that it makes me feel better to have them from early on.  This way I know what has been done with them.

Ugh.  Some days I think life would be so much more simple if I wasn't obsessed.

Monday, February 16, 2015

I Miss Summer

I was scrolling through my camera roll, and stumbled across some clips of the dogs working.  I'm going to be upfront.  They are crappy clips.  The dogs seem to know that when I'm taping I'm not really paying attention the way I should.




I also found these gems!


How cute were they??



I miss summer.  I want to play outside!  I want to ride... I want to work dogs...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Horse Marketing or Just Plain Crazy

I may have an obsession with following the various horse sales pages out there.  I regularly scroll through Kijiji.  Lately I've discovered the world of Facebook sales pages.  There are oodles of them.  I belong to around ten.  I know.  I have a problem.

Lately I've noticed a few trends that leave me feeling baffled.  I wonder why is this the new norm?

Rant #1

Why in Gawd's name is every horse with a kid on it a kid's horse???  Back in the day true kids horses were truly rare.  Now you see the three year old colt who's been rode by an eight year old marketed as a great kids horse.  WTF?  I know there are exceptional horses out there with great minds but a baby rarely makes a good child's horse.  Why?  Because both the kid and the horse lack experience and can do unpredictable things.  Generally a recipe for disaster.

I grew up and learned to ride in the school of hard knocks.  I got bucked off on a regular basis.  While I did develop as a rider, I also recognize that if I didn't have such a deep love I would have quit.  I am left now as a middle aged adult with a body that is loaded with aches and pains.  It is quite literally falling apart.  Why?  Because the years of abuse my body took in my learning to ride phase has left some long term issues.  For this reason I would never put a child of mine on anything that wasn't sane, safe and broke to death.

Rant #2

WFT is up with all the people standing on their horses backs?  When did this become the thing to do?  Why?  I don't get it.  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  I know I could do this on my horse, but why would I?  It's just plain weird to me.  I've heard the argument that it shows trust.  Anytime a horse let's you on it's back it's showing you trust...  The weirdest thing to me is that adults are also doing this.  Not just kids!!  So strange.

If anyone out there can shed some light on my questions, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Shortlist

If you haven't realized it yet, well... I'm crazy.  Seriously.  For real.

Here's my twisted nonsensical thinking.  I have two horses.  One of whom I will need to put down this summer.  One of whom I've really enjoyed riding.  So. Much. Fun.

So, because I love her - and trust me I KNOW you are not supposed to do this...

But!

Well, this horse has so many positive qualities.  She's got a great trainable mind, she is relatively athletic, personable and affectionate.  So, in my twisted sense I'm thinking of breeding her.

Trust me.  I know there are 5 million unwanted horses.  I get it.  That being said, I'm not one to send mine to auction because I want to mass produce horses.  This foal would be something I'd want to keep and develop.

So I created a short list.  My goal is to add cow to Marnie's performance type pedigree.  She has no earnings and isn't trendy breeding.

Here are the four stallions in no particular order:

Pegasus 
This stallion has earnings.  Is NonPro friendly.

Rollin in my Dually
This guy is in solely on his disposition and pedigree.  No earnings which is important to me.  And pasture breed only which I hate.

Bet Ichi
This guy has a wicked pedigree.  I have yet to find a conformation picture which is not good.

Reys From Heaven
He doesn't have the earnings as two of the stallions, but he also has a great pedigree.  He however has a pedigree that may not produce a NonPro friendly baby.

Well?  Which would you pick?  Why?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Something New

Today was vet day.  It seems vet day gets increasingly expensive.  However, it needed to be done.  The dogs had their yearly exams.  Both dogs are healthy, however one is intermittently puking.  Not sure who - but I suspect Diva.  So I being the person that I am, took pictures of the puke.  After the vet reviewed she felt they looked like Bile.  Did you know that dogs can get the equivalent of Acid Reflux?  Learn something new every day.  Now I'll be feeding a handful of kibble each morning to help them feel better.

I also picked up dewormer, and meds for both Ryder and Diva.  (Anxiety and Incontinence.)  In the spring when Diva heads into heavier work (stock) I'll need to add a different med as she tends to be leaky when she's tired.

Both dogs have lost some weight.

Diva is now 46 lbs.  Ryder 50.6 lbs.

The vet says these are good weights to maintain on.

It's good to have healthy animals.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It Was A Good Weekend

I kicked my weekend off with a bang.  Friday night I did my standard three classes of agility basics.  Woot!  Went much better than last week as last week we had a wee bit of a situation.  I may or may not have needed to change my drawers...

You see, during Ryder's "crate" time, a lovely male Pit Bull got the Zoomies and accidentally banged into Ryder's crate, dislodging the pin that holds the door closed.  Ryder being Ryder, came out like his ass was on fire and went after the hapless Pit.  The hapless Pit reacted like he was under attack.  It ended with Ryder running back into his crate.  Thank the good Lord there was no damage to either dog.  Mostly noise was produced.  But very scary for me.  (And I'm sure the other owner.)

This week there was no near deaths.  Put a check in the WIN column.

Up early on Saturday, I hustled out to Drayton Valley.  It was back to basics for the dogs on stock.  I really want to fix some things I noticed during the November trials.  This was the first time both dogs had been on stock in ages.  And by ages I mean since the beginning of November.

It involved Ken speaking firmly with me and me running through the melty, sometimes icy and shifting snow.  Can we say buns of steel?  (Our weather has been freakishly warm this month!  Melting!!)  We began with Diva.  And she worked and I worked.  We worked some more.

I created this little video of her.  Please let me know if you can't view.

video

I found it humorous. (Ok - so it works on my computer... maybe not yours??)  Note Diva peeing as I walk to Ken and give him shit for still recording.  That girl has got to go the moment she gets any exercise!

Ryder was his soft and sensitive little self.



I just love his expression on the sheep.  Ken commented that he doesn't upset the sheep.  They seem to like him.  He also felt that Ryder showed more confidence on stock than he has in the past.  I'm wondering if the break was good for him.  

Because Ryder is terrified of the horses, Ken rode one of his colts while I worked Ryder.  I was very impressed with how brave Ryder was.  The filly was super cute too!  

To bring the end to my weekend, today I had a jumping lesson.  I think I have a perpetual smile on my face now.  I really, really needed this time with the critters.  Feeds my soul.  

This is Frank.  He's the lesson horse I jump on.  He's old and a character.  Probably one of the only "push" style rides I've ever had.  (Hey - I grew up on Arabs - and mine required very little leg!)



Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Social Experiment

In my household, Ryder is a ball hog.  We jokingly call it his soother.  He carries a ball around everywhere.  Diva, for the longest time showed little to no interest in playing.  Over the past six months she's started stealing the ball from Ryder.  She proudly carries it off.  Then Ryder chases after her and takes it from her.  

Tired of the sibling bickering over the ball.  I went to PetSmart and bought two, identical balls.

Blue.

Because I have a sense of humour...



I wondered if each dog had their own ball would they still fight over them?

How did my little social experiment turn out?

Well, it turns out the ball is most desirable when the other dog is in possession of it.  Basically, they don't care that there are two identical balls.  I can even try to play with both.  One dog will drop a ball to play with the other one.  In other words, only one dog and ball is in play at any given time.

It was worth a try...


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pictures: Finally!

It's been rather chilly the last few weeks.  Today the farrier came out to trim the horses.  I bundled up and had a great visit with him.  While the horses got their pedicure the dogs ran wild in the yard.  They raced, and raced, and raced.  I thought I'd be smart and bring my phone so I could snap some pics... well... the phone froze.  So no pics of dogs but I did put it in the house to warm up so I could grab some horse pictures.  It was a balmy -18C here this morning.  (About 0 F.)




I love how fuzzy the girls are.  They are snuggly and cuddly.  I would have hopped on Marnie for a ride but I'm not flexible enough to get on bareback in all my winter gear.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ryder: A Story of Contrasts

It's funny.  As a kid I hated puzzles.  Any and all puzzles.  Now, as an adult I can't stand not having all the pieces fit.  Having odds or ends that seem incongruent make me nuts.  I have no qualms researching to the point of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Ryder is a puzzle I haven't been able to put together.  He is, in so many ways, a story of contrasts.

He was the 6th pup out of an expected 4...

Born August 15, 2010


When he was born he was adorable.  While lower on the fight for food spectrum than his brothers he would have been middle of the pack.  As a baby he was higher energy but more reserved than some of his really outgoing siblings.


He drove me nuts running out to the corrals with Diva.  Rattling the wire along the bottom of the gate and barking madly at anything that moved.  It was an epic feat to keep him in the yard for "free play."

I was actually relieved to sell him.  Thinking to myself there goes the toughest pup out of the litter.  At this point in time he wasn't interested in interactive play with a toy and human.

When he came back, I took a deep breathe and prepared to work my arse off training.  What I got was a dog prone to accidents in the house.  A dog who flipped out when I hollered at his mom.  He leapt over the baby gate, ran up the stairs and jumped into my mother's lap.  A dog who lost his everliving marbles if you held a stock stick in your hand near him.  A dog who was supposed to be crate trained but who woke me crying each night.  I eventually caved and let him sleep with me.  He would push his body against mine.  If I moved, he'd shift so he was once again touching me.  For months he would only sleep if he was touching me.

Because he was having accidents from being left at home I looked into Doggy Daycare.  Found a new one and tried it out.  It was a failure in the sense that I think they let him down.  I think they allowed other dogs to beat him up and destroyed his confidence around other canines.

I had quite a few offers from people interested in purchasing him.  I couldn't sell him in good conscience.

I began coaxing him to work.  He struggled with any amounts of pressure.  Progress was slow.  But progress was made.




I put him into agility classes.  This bolstered his confidence and he demonstrated a keen enjoyment of the activities.



Between the sheep work and agility exercises he had plenty to keep his brain working.

Yet things were not always perfect.  In fact, at times they were downright awful.  And this is where I began to gnaw on the puzzle that is this dog.

In the beginning he was horribly reactive to men.  He was good with other dogs but that changed.  I neutered him thinking this would help reduce his reactivity.

Here is the puzzle.

1) Sometimes he is beyond awesome with other dogs.  He used to clean Tessa's bum and ears as she neared the twilight of her life.

Walking in the grazing reserve, Tessa is behind him.

He happily and wonderfully played with the Boston Terrier I was dog sitting.  He did not have a prior relationship with this dog.


Other times, he reacts and freaks out at any and all dogs.  It does not matter the size, breed or sex.  He does tend to do this more than anything at all.  We've been working very, very hard on this and have definitely made progress.  But he is most definitely not "cured".  

2) He is the biggest wimp out there.  He is scared of grocery bags, blankets flapping, noises, thunder, doesn't travel well anymore, and so on, so on.  He is so bad that when Honey fart's, Ryder runs out of the room!  True story!  It leaves me baffled because his mother wasn't like that.  His sister isn't like that.  It has taken forever to get him to accept the 12 year old child that's now part of our lives.  He still doesn't like him and mostly tolerates or avoids him.  This is not good.  He really is a horribly anxious dog.  

In his ThunderShirt.


It's funny, as a pup he showed no interest in playing fetch.  He would watch me play with Tessa until one day he joined in.  Now he is inseparable with the ball.  

He even sleeps with a ball.  We jokingly call it his soother.
Even though he no longer sleeps with me, he will always be my sensitive cuddle buddy.  

If dogs could talk, I wonder what he would say?



My question for him: why are you so good in so many ways and such a challenge in others? 


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fall Back, Bounce Forward

Fall back.  Bounce forward.  This seems to be the story of my life.  It is most definitely the story of the dogs lives.  One thing I have learned over the years is that you can't change the past.  Make your peace with it and move on.  Quite literally, it is what it is.

One thing I've been pondering is how to improve.  The quality of my life.  The quality of the dogs lives.  The quality of the horses lives.

Soooo.....

In 2015:

Me:

  • Go to Yoga.  Regularly.  
  • Investigate a course or two to pick up.  Ideas I'm tossing around are Canine Massage Therapy, or even another Masters.  Maybe even a PhD.  Something to stretch my mind.  I've gotten obsessive compulsive with investigating peer reviewed research regarding dog nutrition.  
  • Ride.  Run.  Work Dogs.  Do things I love.  These things make me happy.
Dogs:
  • Make regular trips to different places to work the dogs.  Ken and I talked about Diva and her not listening to me.  He raised a good point.  Tessa had had way more consistent work at his place before her first trial.  I need to get back into that groove.
  • Continue with the agility "cross-training".  It makes the dogs happy and gives me something to do on long dark evenings.  
  • Commit to entering trials and clinics.
Horses:
  • Continue to ride Marnie.  Refine her skills to turn her into a killer arena horse.  
  • Maybe, just maybe horsey babies?  We shall see.  
  • Whiskey - help her over the rainbow bridge before winter 2015.  On this I won't budge.