These are the chronicles of two Shetland Sheepdogs and their adventures in rally-o, obedience, flyball, agility, tracking and therapy dog work.
Also including information on raw feeding, canine epilepsy, positive training, and lots and lots of Sheltie hair!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Frick! That snow is deep!

With the gorgeous sun-shiny weather today, I thought it high time to take the boys on a run in the park behind the house. It has been a while since they have been out tearing things up because of the biting cold. Turns out, that even though the weather is warm, that snow is REALLY deep! And the blasting winds have made a thick hard crusty layer on top. Not conducive with stubby and the drunk (ie. Romeo and Gio).

After just a couple of throws, the boys were getting frustrated. And the strong wind was making my attempts at throwing the flying squirrel appear quite pathetic. So we moved back to the back yard where the fence has stopped the wind from hardening the snow crust too much.

Sure, not as much room to run, but the snow is much more inviting to belly flops!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Romeo's Therapy Dog Day

Today Romeo had his supervised visit at Eamer Court. With the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program, dogs must first pass the certification test, which Romeo did last fall, then the handlers get screened through references and back ground checks. Once all of that clears, the regional coordinator works at finding a placement for that particular dog and handler team. Since I already have two facilities that I visit with Gio, I told our regional coordinator not to worry about finding Romeo a facility of his own right now, I would just switch off between the two dogs. And, because Gio was busy with his visits, it wasn't a big rush to get Romeo set up at either place. Well, with Gio's health being as it is, I didn't want to wait too much longer in getting Romeo set up. I really dislike having to cancel our visits if Gio isn't doing well, so at least this way I can just switch the dogs and still keep our scheduled visitation times. The final formality before Romeo can officially visit as a SJA therapy dog was the supervised visitation, where a regional evaluator tags along with us on a visit and grades Romeo's performance and my handling. That was what today was, so now that that is out of the way Romeo can official visit as a SJA therapy dog.

He really likes this gig! I'm actually quite surprised. He is normally quite reserved around strangers, as most Shelties are, and I would have thought him to be too high energy to really settle into the therapy dog role at such a young age. But with his ladies at the retirement center, he is right at home! And, even more oddly, he is quite the lap-cuddler with those ladies! At home, he will pounce up on your lap, smother you in kisses, bite your glasses and then jump down again. With his ladies, he just wants to jump on their lap and curl up for a good cuddle. To the point where I actually had to call him back to prevent him from inviting himself onto a couple of people's laps today. Usually, he is more than happy to stay on the floor, so that is something new that I will need to keep an eye out for during visits.

It is hard work, though. You know, all that cuddling and scratches and looking cute and such. Enough to tire a guy right out!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In a couple of weeks there are a few local trials. A CKC obedience trial February 21/22 and a CARO rally-o trial February 28/March 1, both in Saskatoon. As such, it seems that everyone is doing some last minute cramming! There was a huge turn out at the rally-o drop-in time tonight at Paws n' Train. Usually there are 4-5 dogs present, but tonight there were at least a dozen (and I'm probably missing someone in my quick head count). As usual, we had an Advanced course set up for the first half, and then an Excellent course. Since there were so many dogs, it took quite a bit longer than it normally does for everyone to run through each course a couple of times. Fortunately, it is a great group of people that show up for the drop-ins so we all help each other out on the side as we wait out turns, doing stand for exams, discussing how to get that "back up 3 steps" sign down, etc. Since there is also an obedience trial coming soon, we took the opportunity to practice a couple of long sits and downs as well. I love long sits and downs! There is something about having a whole bunch of dogs all sitting together nicely that makes me smile.

For the rally-o portions, the boys did great, as usual! Gio was really "on" tonight, but he is having trouble staying on his feet. Because of all his meds, he is lacking a little in the coordination department, so tends to slide out a lot. I need to remember to be less abrupt when doing chances of direction so that he has time to find his feet. It is difficult as we began training when he had all his faculties about him, so I got in the habit of making very abrupt changes of direction. It looks beautiful when the dog is able to work like that, but with Gio losing his balance all over because of it, it doesn't look so pretty anymore. If I could just remember to change my pace for him, it would make it so much easier for him to stay on his feet. I guess I still see that former Gio in his face when he is working and delude myself into thinking that he can perform the way he used to. In his mind, he can, his feet just can't keep up with him. Despite my poor handling, he did VERY well. Nailed his end of the bargain perfectly, even got the broad jump on the first try. Romeo did well, for the most part. He was very distractable tonight and just couldn't leave the little bits of fluff on the floor alone. He did each rally station perfectly, but the in between parts were sloppy. Normally he doesn't have that issue at all, so I'm just telling myself that "it was one of those nights". We are all allowed one of those now and then, right?

There is another drop-in obedience time tomorrow evening, but I think I am going to have to skip that one. I really should get some more packing done, and I definitely need to get Romeo all trimmed up for his therapy dog visit on Friday. That, and I'm getting pretty broke. This past month has been hard on the bank account, and next month isn't going to be any better! Of course, I just keep reminding myself about the positive aspects ... you know, new house, out on my own, peace and quiet, just me and the dogs. Perfect! With that, I am happy to accept a little stricter budgeting and a little more penny pinching!

Monday, January 26, 2009


I've been tagged by The Knights Shelties and Blue Dog for a picture game!

Here are the rules:

Open a document or file folder,
Click on the fifth folder and then the fifth photo.
Post the photo and describe it.
Then tag 5 other bloggers.

Opening up all my photo files, this is the 5th photo in the 5th folder ...

This photo was taken in December of 2007. I was participating in an online "trick photo contest" with a group of friends. The trick of the week was a "paw touch". Since it was nearly Christmas, I decided to get Gio to do a paw touch to a Christmas ball hanging on the tree. Here he is (with very scruffy toes!) in the process of reaching for the ball.

Now, I am going to tag:

Mika and Wall-e of Dream Dogz
Ruby of A Genuine Ruby
Simba of Pop Dog Blog
Heidi and Shelby of Heart-Dogs Heal
Casper, Buddy, and Nikki of Casper's Adventures

(Sorry if I tagged anyone that has already been tagged for this game. OOPS!)

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Romeo made a new BFF tonight at agility ...

A handsome male Miniature Australian Shepherd named Flash. They were tearing it up with the play bows while waiting their turn at the course.

(PS. Romeo's BFF at any given time is whatever dog that happens to be standing in front of him.)

Shetland Sleepdogs and Rally-O

Our buddies, Josh and Jess, have sent out a challenge to post pictures of your fluff's odd sleeping styles. So here they are!
Romeo's breeder sent me this picture ...
Romeo's first "tunnel", he got pooped part way through.

For the most part, they fall asleep however they happen to land when they flop down ...

See a trend? That's right ... they show a strong preference for sleeping on the bed. Can't blame them, really. If I had a choice between floor and bed, I know what I would be picking!

As for today, it is "crazy dog Sunday". A couple hours of rally-o in the afternoon, and soon to be off to agility with Romeo this evening. Rally-o went really well this afternoon. I set up a CARO Advanced/Excellent course and ran the boys through it a couple of times. They did fantastically! Romeo's achievement of the day was making it through the "off set figure 8" without lagging, and Gio's achievement of the day was remembering his sits EVERY time! With Gio's gimpy leg, he is kind of picky about when he wants to sit. Today must be a good-leg-day as he didn't have problems at all. The "off set figure 8" is Romeo's big hold-up in CARO rally-o, but not for the reason you might be thinking. The exercise is made up of two pylons and two food bowls, with the idea of the exercise to weave in a figure 8 pattern around the pylons while keeping the dog from going after the food in the food bowls, as in the diagram below. You are allowed to say "leave it" to your dog each time you pass through the center of the 8, but it has to be "happy" and not scolding in tone.
Romeo's problem is that he has a "leave it" that is so completely solid that he will give whatever it is he is supposed to be leaving a 10 foot berth! So if I slip up and tell him to "leave it" as we are entering the figure 8, he has been known to stop moving and just stand back and watch me weave through the pylons so as not to get too close to the food bowls. I thought that just not using the command "leave it" and rather just having a nice attention heel would work instead, as it does with Gio, but Romeo has now generalized the exercise, so whenever he sees food bowls he automatically assumes he has to leave them alone without me telling him to. As a result, he is VERY laggy through the exercise and will often drop back to walk right behind me so that he doesn't have to be too close to the bowls. I've been practicing setting up food bowls and just having him "survive" in the middle of them, doing little heel patterns, tricks, sits/downs, playing tug and fetch where he has to run out of the circle of bowls and back in again. That seems to have helped a lot as today he didn't even flinch when we approached the bowls and kept a nice attention heel without dropping back into his usual lag position.

As a side note, I am officially living in a pig sty. I've started packing so now my room is littered with crates and boxes. Walls are bare and "stuff" is strewn everywhere.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gio and the Blow Dryer

The boys each have a routine in the morning. I've already blogged about Romeo's Mr. Sock-Face Game that we play when I get dressed. Now it's time to show Gio's morning game ... Singing for the Blow Dryer.

The sound of the blow dryer starting up in the morning will pull him away from any distraction, even food. And for Gio, that is HUGE! His first love is divided equally between tennis balls and food, but the blow dryer will make him drop both of those and come running. He will stand patiently (ie. not freaking out) while I dry my hair. Waiting, and mentally willing the blow dryer down to his level. He loves being "shot" in the face and on the chest, full blast, hot air. Nothing else will do. And once the air hits him, he's singing like a bird! Well ... a bird with laryngitis and that's had too much to drink. I can even sort of control the waver and the pitch of the "singing" by moving the blow dryer back and forth and up or down his chest.

See for yourself ...

Thought I should also point out ... I blew a breaker trying to make this video. Apparently it isn't a good idea to have a TV, stereo, phone, computer, space heater, and blow dryer all on one breaker, eh? Oops.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Agility - Advanced Beginners II

I think that is what it is called, anyways. Who knows, whatever it is it is started up again. Agility classes were supposed to start last Sunday, but we were in the middle of a horrid storm and the roads were crazy so class was canceled. So yesterday was Romeo's first class back. Our class is much smaller this time, only Romeo and two Border Collies, so we got LOTS of running in. It was a great class! A real challenge, which I like. We were working on "out" for the most part. Romeo has a decent "out" from Rally-O, but the exercises we were doing last night still pushed him (and me) further than where he already was.

We started with 4 jumps staggered side to side so that we had to push the dogs out and call them back in to us as we ran. Romeo caught on to that one really quickly, without issue. It was the next set of exercises that was the real challenge for us both! 7 jumps were set up in a horse-shoe shape with a straight tunnel running along the length of them in the middle of the horse-shoe. The idea was to run the dog up one side of the horse-shoe and sent them out past the tunnel to the other side of the jump sequence without crossing over the line of the tunnel. Took a while to get the idea over to Romeo (and the idea through my head on how I should be moving my body so as not to pull him off the far jumps when he finally does get out there!), but once he patterned to it it was great! Of course, then we had to switch it up so that they DON'T go out to the far jumps, but take the tunnel instead. I knew Romeo patterned quickly, but this was a little insane! No matter what sort of hub-bub I created, I couldn't get him to come back in off of the far jumps to take the tunnel! We got it all figured out in the end, though.

I really appreciate classes where we are pushed with a challenge. If everything is easy, then we aren't really learning anything. This class was great! We both ran a lot, Romeo collapsed when he got home, as did I. Today, Romeo is ready to go again, but I think I will need another day or two for the burning to go out of my legs!

Non-agility related: I got the lease issue finalized with regards to my new house. I had to apply to the trailer park for a lease for the lot that the trailer is on. The application was accepted today, so now it is all official! And the couple of little repair issues that the inspection revealed are being fixed by end of day tomorrow. I really have no clue what my next step is, I know I have to get insurance and sign the lease, fill out forms, start getting things in my name, etc. But what happens first, I have no clue! I'll make a couple of calls later this week, but in the mean time, I just need to sit back and enjoy the idea of moving. Maybe allow myself to start some packing up of things I won't need in the next month.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Okay, here's the news. I've tried to be quiet about this so as not to get my hopes up too much. Even though it's sort of been in the process of happening for the past year or so, it wasn't until this past week that things actually started happening and falling into place.

But in one month's time, the boys and I are moving to our own house!


So excited! A place of my very own!

I've been beaten up by numerous banks and stabbed in the back by a mortgage broker, but the finances finally came together yesterday. Today was the home inspection, and all is well. Tomorrow I meet with the realtor to sign the papers, and then it is mine come February 15th.

Time to start packing!

I know entries have been a little photo-sparse lately ... and this post isn't even about the dogs so I can't really fill it up with pupper pics. So to tide you all over, here are a few shots of my new place.

Kitchen with brand new fridge and stove.

Cute little side area in the kitchen. Excuses the messes left by the renovators, that stuff is all gone now.
Living room.
Wee little back yard for the boys!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thanks for the crossing!

Thanks to everyone that crossed their fingers (paws?), toes, and eyes, or maybe said a little chant to their deity of choice. It worked!

Yes, I am going to keep you in suspense for just a while longer. There is one more step to this process and that takes place tomorrow morning. At that point, I will know the outcome of this one way or another and THEN I will let you know what all the crossing was about! Today was the hard part, though, so uncross things and give yourselves a break.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rally On Again

So I know I wrote a couple of days ago that things were starting again for the boys last Friday ... but life makes things difficult sometimes. I've got this nasty cold, so for the past while I haven't been able to see through the blurry eyes or tilt my head any lower then the horizon without dripping nose nasties. (Too much info? Sorry.) So Sunday was a bit of a gong show at Rally practice and I opted to skip agility Sunday night in favor of a hot toddy and a blanket with a box of Kleenex.

Tonight drop-in Rally sessions started again, so the boys finally got a real workout. We ran through a couple of Advanced and Excellent courses and they did wonderfully! After nearly a month of no "formal" Rally practicing, they remembered all the tricky stuff. Both boys nailed the jumps (high and broad), which were a bit of a touchy subject in the past, especially for Gio. Weaves, moving stands/downs, and back up 3 steps were beautiful! I couldn't have asked for more after having been away from it all for a month!

Just a side note ... if I could get everyone to cross your fingers and send good vibes my way tomorrow at about 2pm Central. That's Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 14:00 hours CST. Thanks!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Because of these guys

this is me

and this is what I am doped up on.
(Image Source)
And thank Dog for Otrivin!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

I guess holidays are officially over. The boys' "dog stuff" is back in motion, after a couple weeks off.

Tonight there was a CKC Obedience fun match to support Italian Greyhound rescue with the Italian Greyhound Club of Canada. I took the boys with the intention of only running Gio in Novice. Gio needs one more Novice leg, and there is a trial in town at the end of February. We haven't done any "formal" obedience work since the last trial in September, so we were a little rusty. Gio still did very well (considering that he hasn't really found his feet yet after the introduction of his phenobarbital), and pulled off a 195.5/200 and High in Class! Since all the money raised was going to a good cause, I decided to throw Romeo into the Intermediate class as well. I had never seen Intermediate before, it is one of the new non-official classes that CKC has introduced and fits between Novice and Open. Considering that I had never seen Intermediate before, and some of the exercises Romeo had never tried before, he did really well, getting a 189.5/200. He just lost one or two points per exercise, except for the heel free portion where he lost 5.5. Those I am attributing to the fact that he was just SO FREAKIN' EXCITED to be back working, that the first half of the heel pattern he bounced along side me instead of walking and I needed a couple extra commands to remind him of what we were doing. Nothing major, and I'm certainly not going to fault him for his enthusiasm!

Gio just needs a bit more polish and he will be primed for the SKOC trial in February. If I can get Romeo cleaned up a bit, I might even enter him in Intermediate at the same trial. I was going to just skip all the non-official classes, but what the heck, why not!?

Tomorrow it is back to flyball, then Saturday Rally-O and agility. Things are finally getting back to our normal routine!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Think happy thoughts ...

Today was just one of those days where it feels as if the whole world is out to get you.

Good thing I live with two puppers that are very good at providing comic relief.

Think happy thoughts ... think happy thoughts ... think happy thoughts ...

"MY toy. NOT gonna share."
"What snow?"

I've posted this one before, but it never fails to make me smile.
"I haz a happy!"

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Cross Your Paws" & "Are You Sad?"

With the frigid weather, I'm trying to keep the boys busy indoors.

Romeo's list of "stupid dog tricks" is pretty pathetic, so I thought it was a good time to start on expanding a bit. We started working on "Cross your paws" and "Are you sad?". "Cross your paws" is coming along very well, the "sad" one is a work in progress.

How I teach "Cross your paws" ... (please excuse the scruffy paws, Romeo's toe-day is tomorrow)

1: Teach a "shake a paw" where the dog will place his paw in your offered hand.
2: Place the dog in a "down" and ask for the paw, only click/treat when they offer the paw while still laying down. Repeat ad nauseum.
3: Gradually begin to move your hand to the side so that the dog has to reach his offered paw over top of the paw still on the ground.
4: Eventually, you should be able to place your hand palm up on the ground on the opposite side of the still paw.
5: Once the dog is doing this step consistently, quickly move your hand out of the way as the dog offers the paw so that he places his paw on the ground instead of in your hand.

Gio already knows "Cross your paws" with the left over the right, so now we are working on right over left, which I am calling "Be a gentleman".

Both boys are also working on "Are you sad?". Gio already has this trick, I'm just working on cleaning it up as he's been getting a little sloppy lately. Romeo doesn't know this one at all yet, so it's right from step one for him.

How I train "Are you sad?" ...

1: Get a piece of tape (scotch, masking, electric, medical, etc.) and place it over the dog's muzzle so that it sticks a little bit to the fur and/or whiskers. Just enough to be irritating.
2: When the dog paws at the tape, click/treat. Repeat ad nauseum.
3: Once the dog is consistently and purposefully pawing at his nose, remove the tape and hope that he repeats the action. If so, click/treat, HUGE praise! If not, replace the tape, making it a smaller piece and not sticking it as much to the fur. Make the tape smaller and smaller so as to still illicit the response but gradually fading the tape away.

Romeo isn't consistent enough to get a good picture, so here is Gio with his cleaned up version. It can be done standing, sitting, or laying down. What works best for you will depend on your dog. With Gio's long legs, laying down or sitting seems easiest. With Romeo's wee little legs, standing seems easiest.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

... It makes you feel ALIVE! ...

Sure, only because dead things don't feel this kind of burn! You know, you aren't cold if you are still shivering. It's when your body stops shivering that you know you are cold. In this sort of weather, you don't even start to shiver. It's your body's way of telling you that no life was intended to survive in these temperatures, so why even bother? In this weather, you head straight to the burning, where every skin cell screams at the top of their lungs ... "DAMMIT WOMAN! What the hell are you doing to us!? Get your chubby butt back inside and turn on the space heater!"

But then I see the two fluffs, happy dancing by the door at the prospect of bull dozing through the snow drifts. And that makes me bundle up in layers, take one last deep breath of indoor air, and march out the door, cringing as the storm door slams back with a rattle ... yeah, even the metal springs that slowly ease the door closed give up their will to live in at this temperature.

We've spent much too long indoors, curled up doing "winter" activities like reading or blogging. The boys and I are getting stagnant and "poofy". Well, not Gio. Romeo and I are getting a little cushier around the middle, but Gio remains slim and trim. Must be due to his new thyroid meds. Maybe that's my problem ... I should get my thyroid checked. Yeah, thyroid, that must be it, couldn't possibly be all the cookies, candies, chips, and deep fried goodness that I've been indulging in. If my thyroid were working, my body should just shrug all of that off, right?

Ahem ... a girl can wish.

So out we go, into the -31C winter wonderland, with the razor-blade wind that makes it feel like -44C. SHITE!

Make it quick, boys.
Lost ball #1.
Lost ball #2.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm looking for it. I am!"
"Found one!"
Sheltie Snow Plow.
Hey, with a nose that long, you've got to use it for something.

The result of the Sheltie Snow Plow.
Lost ball #3.

We gave up at that point. There is now a red rubber ball with a dead squeak in the front yard and a purple tennis ball in the back yard. We'll find them again in the spring and the boys will be thrilled with the "new" toys.
Copyright & Link Restriction

Please do not use any text or images from this blog without expressed permission of the blog owner. If you are a organization, group, community, commercial site, are acting on behalf of a commercial site (sponsored by them), or are trying to build an audience for any site with the intent of financial gain, YOU MUST obtain permission from the blog owner BEFORE reproducing or copying any material from this site, or embedding this blogs feed into your own site.